Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Thumbs and a total rambling of different stuff.

The Thumbs.

Such a simple name that can be extremely deceiving. Yes we play Rock N' Roll, however we are eclectic in our sound and influemces....you'll have to come out and see for yourself.

We have our debut show April 29th @ Tubby's in the metropolis known as Duncannon PA.

It is somewhat of a local "all star" band as we are all accomplished musicians (with me having the least notoriety) that have come together to make something new and totally different than what anyone else does in the area.

I'm extremely lucky to be playimg alongside these guys. This lot is by far, the most talented and musically inclined bunch I've been around.

I can tell by the way they are pushing me to improve my playing (and oh jesus, singing too). The more I'm pushed, the more comfortable I am becoming.  Something I haven't felt in, unfortunately for my age, decades.

As the previous two years were stepping stones, I feel that in the words of Ginger, "You got to get through what you have to go through before you get what you want". And this to me is what I've dealt with for two years.

I have no more desire for start/stop or just something to do. Now is the time to do some damage.

One thing I'm not short of is friends and fans that support what I do. It is cool having a fan base that follows me and takes interest in my art.

I still have people ask about my books from time to time.  Maybe one day I'll write a really fucked up novel on the exploits of a fictional band. Maybe I'll name them Spinal Tap....

The great thing about social media is the amount of exposure one can get with a few mouse clicks, also the connections made with others. I never thought I'd have conversations with those I've always looked up to in, ever.

Social media, along with sites like this one have opened up the accessibility in a more direct manner.  In the old times (the 80's and 90's) bands had to print flyers and go and pass them out. That was not a fun time at all, half the time one would drink too much to walk around, let alone pass them out. Now you just put them on whatever site and put it out there. Good thing for that because you pretty much have to beg to get people to out anymore.  I've seen too many good bands have very little in the way of crowds, so when you get a chance, go and see live music. Sometimes the band will be shitty, sometimes not. Just do it once, see what happens. I bet you'll have fun. Plus you will help in the creative aspect that is lacking due to apathetic/missing crowds.

Live music isn't dying, it's the people who won't leave the house that is killing music. Make a musicians day, all you have to do is show up.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

You know, it's funny....

As our set list continues to grow, I'm reminded (yet again) that put like minded individuals together, you can have fun again.

Our set list is varied, we have a date for our first show that will be announced soon enough. A few of the songs just "happened" without thought or planning.  This, THIS is what I missed. Spontaneity,  impossible to create and forever looking, this is organic. This is what is needed in music.

We haven't decided how we will handle gigs after this one, one a month, every few months, who knows. What we DO know is this is a one off and this set list won't be repeated. This is truly a once and done for the set, we might change everything and drop all the songs or we may keep it all. But regardless how we go about it, this gig will be unique.

We also have discussed how to introduce ourselves.  You'll have to wait. But not too much longer.


Jay




Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I am Jay Gent and this is what I do (destiny or not).

It doesn't take long to remember why playing music is so fulfilling.

Coming together with three others to make music is a feeling that cannot be described in any sense. If you play music, you know what I mean, if you haven't...well...sorry for your loss.

It is a feeling that I know I can't replicate with writing or anything else I've done for myself.

This, this is the only thing I've done where I've been accepted. Didn't have to fake who I am, to "fit" in.

From my early days of being a hangers on (before I started playing) to the present new band, I've never really been shunned.

The only other thing that has come close is my wife's roller derby league she's been playing for since 2011. That story would need it's own post.

I truly feel I live in Ginger's world of "I wanna go where the people go" when I'm in a band with like minded and dedicated musicians like me.

We have our first gig scheduled in a bit over two months, the set list is coming together nicely and we are still settling on a name.

All will be revealed soon enough.

Me circa 1998...Sadly I no longer look like that....

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Has the audience ever listened?

Part One: The beginning


When I was a teen, I didn't have the same experiences that most teens do. Instead of parties at friends houses or dances, I found myself at bars and clubs in Baltimore surrounded by live music.


The main destination I found myself was The Rage on South Calvert street. This was, one of the greatest places I'd ever been to. This was cooler than Hammerjacks or any other club I'd happen to get into in the city.


This was a rock club, to me it was THE rock club. I was regarded as the kid, not to be confused with "the kid" from Purple Rain, I was much taller than him. Everyone knew I was under age (Baltimore had a law, which may still be in effect, I don't know) that you could be in clubs that sold alcohol if you were eighteen. At this time I was only fifteen and running the streets. The great thing was, no one cared nor was it an issue. This was a community that embraced everyone. Looking back, it's hard to believe that was twenty five years ago now....jesus I feel old.


This had the biggest impact on what I wanted to do, just play music. Just being there, hanging out with bands and being a part of something (at the time it felt like something big, well, it didn't turn out that way).


There were many nights that after the bands were done, we would just roam the streets, seeing everything the city had to offer. One night we'd end up near skid row and the next weekend would just walk around Harbor Place.


Junkies, hookers and every part of society was always around the corner. The dregs, strung out or looking for a fix, the cops pestering the homeless, religious types trying to "save" those souls walking up and down the block,  you could see it all in one night.


This really left an impression on my mind. This led to my way of writing, basing this on what I observed for those years spent in the city. Just because one doesn't experience it first hand, doesn't mean they can't write about what was seen right in front of them.


I had one former band mate kind of get irritated because I wasn't true to what I wrote, because I didn't actually experience it myself, I just viewed others that did it.


Huh? That doesn't make sense to me, do writers of fiction (specifically sci-fi and horror) have to live through what happened in their books? To make something "real" does the creator have to experience first hand? Steven King and Pennywise? Kirkman and zombies? No, so what makes music any different? Well it really doesn't. So take the fuck off, and let me mention this guy is a crackhead, a major crackhead.I'll delve into that a little later.


What I'm saying is, my writing style is a darker, dirtier vision than most may have. One friend of mine, his former band had one of the greatest tag lines ever to describe the band, "If you scrape away all the dirt, there would be nothing left" (I really wish I could have come up with that).


To put it best, my writing is very nihilistic. Almost satirical in nature. This extended into my foray into fiction writing a few years ago.


There is always some truth in fiction, that goes for prose or music. Some of what I write lyrically is based upon what I have seen in my life and some is based upon those that I've known who went through it. Very little of what I write is based on myself at all, and the little that is, revolves around the insecurities I have or the utter lack of confidence. If you are lucky, maybe even the total frustration that goes along with life altogether.




Part Two: The only publicity is any publicity.


In the mid-nineties, I was in a band basked out of York PA. We directly or indirectly became the model on which negative publicity became a major positive, either by our actions or those that we brought along for the ride.


We were scheduled to play a cool dive bar on the main strip in York. The aforementioned crackhead above, had a few warrants out for him and as we were getting ready to hit the first chord on the first song, two undercovers slapped him in cuffs and proceeded to take him directly to YCP for an extended stay. This little event caused a buzz around town for us that improved turnout for the year or so after (I ended up quitting the band due to issues with the other guitar player and his endless need to control every aspect of just about everything with the band, megalomaniac wasn't a big enough description to match his ego/need for control). We also had bands open for us that, well did a lot of stuff that was never seen in the area. From fucking blow-up sheep on stage to a fascination with hanging dolls from every piece of equipment, it became a spectacle. It also became impossible to live up to the whole "what will they do next?"


By the time I left the band, the attendance was dwindling, partly because we were playing the same songs we had been playing for years (the entire lifespan while I was in, four years, 3 new songs were written, that isn't enough to keep interest with the casual listener, only the die-hards). The end was very abrupt, unfortunately I was having more creative input but it wasn't enough, looking back, the everything went to shit because we were out of ideas to get asses on the dance floor. I suppose that stress that the two original members were going through with that, plus him struggling with trying to keep it going led to the fight that resulted in my leaving the band and then quickly afterword, the end of the band.


Moral of the story, if you get a bit of infamy, you can live off of it for so long before you need to come up with something to keep the momentum.




Part Three: The quiet one.


Earlier I mentioned how I observe life. I absorb everything to try to understand why people do what they do and also to open my eyes to all walks of life.


This is why I really don't talk much. Especially when we (we=my wife and I) see bands. I want to experience what I am seeing and hearing. I may not look like I am in the best mood, but I am fine. The only time I was animated was seeing The Wildhearts back in 2004. Other than that, I just watch. There was this one night we were at a local bar seeing a band and this guy just walked up to me and said "You really want to be up there don't you. You really look passionate about what you are listening to." Yes, I was at that moment. I just wanted to be back playing again, now it became apparent at least in that one moment, the intensity I have for music and playing. I also get a lot of  "are you even having fun?"


Sure I am, just in my own way.




Part Four: The New Project.


Things are progressing quite well with the new project. The four of us are putting equal amounts of input and feeding off of one another (not like vampires, that would be odd). We have our first gig lined up, the set list is coming together and we are having fun. All of us are being very vague with this as of now. We have a strategy worked up to make our introduction as unique as possible. You may be surprised who is in the band, and I am lucky they have let me along for the ride because I have the least to show with what I've done in music.


We may also at some point have one of my heroes share the stage with us. We will be posting bits here and there to build up who we are. Our sound is extremely varied. My punk, classic rock and eighties background,   the metal background of another, nineties and modern rock for one and everything from the seventies to today for the founder of the band


This is going to be a bit different as the covers so far are not played by anyone in the area. The great thing is, it all fits together. We aren't taking drastic departures, all fall within the same genre, and really aren't that far away from each other in sound.


Our first show was by chance, a friend of mine needed a band to open a show and asked for us to open. This is just based on a description of what we do. The only people who know we exist as a band and know who is in it are the four of us and our significant others. It's weird, I really like this whole mysteriousness that we are playing on for this. It has a whole "gotcha" vibe we make our first appearance. Though we have been dropping hints.


I can't wait. I really can't wait until we really dive head first into writing.


And I hope this lasts a long time. It's difficult finding a bunch of laid back, easy going, cool guys to make music with.




Jay


Note: No proofreading or editing occurred during the writing of this post. Just read and enjoy ok?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Up to now.

December 2013. I was now two years removed from my last published writng, I felt a need for another outlet for my creativity as fiction wasn't doing it for me any longer.

Being one to fall back on a known subject, and this subject has been in the back of my mind off and on over the years,  I decided (as misguided as possible) to get back into music.

But to mix it up a bit,  I had this fools thought of playing guitar. What the hell, wanted to do something different...yeah, about that.

Thee Damned Gents (4/14-10/14):
After a few months,  I was put into contact with another guitar player that was currently in a band. Didn't matter much to me as long as I got to do what I wanted. So it was an off and on project that ultimately ended in October 2014. Had fun, played an open mic night twice and then it was put to bed permanently.  At some point,  I'm going to revive the name of the project with unrelated players who would be new to the project.

The project, when it clicked, worked well. However,  that was rare as we couldn't be found in the same room on a regular basis. It was discouraging,  reminiscent of the last time I gave music a go (2005?), with a short lived trio called Ultrablue (yes a dated name, I didn't come up with it).  The reason for the failure means nothing to me (hell maybe I was the reason) I just shrug my shoulders and move on.

So that was that,  walk away and move forward. Onwards to 2015!

Established Cover Band (10/15-12/15):
Was in contact with a band that recently lost their bass player and received an invite to try out.

Things went well, gigs were booked and everything was looking ok. Just ok.

The set list was varied,  some songs I've never heard before (seriously,  30+ year old somgs that I didn't know existed).

They played songs that I wouldn't play myself, no big deal,  it's only a song.  There were others that I like (well, 3 total of the entire set list that is) but the biggest impact in this was I realized you have to like what you are playing. I just couldn't get into it as much as I should. So after 2 gigs, I was sent on my way.

I was never a fan of all cover bands, but shit, this area is very cover centric.

So for 2016, tryimg something new with new musicians who are like minded in vision.

Will this new project work out? Don't know,  eventually all will be revealed.

If the first two practices is an indication of what is to come, we may do some damage locally,  and that takes me back to the last time I truly had fun making and writing music,  around 1995.

Depending on my availability,  I may do 2-3 posts a week, one retro and one current.

Stay tuned

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Preview.

My return...and exit...and return...and exit...again...then my return thus far..

Starting next week I document my adventures in Rock N' Roll from 2014 to present. I'll sprinkle some stuff from 1989 to 1999 in it too (for fun).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

I am a Rock N' Roll lifer...and I'm ok with that.

Where to start?


I am a Rock N' Roll nobody.


I did play steadily in various bands throughout the 90's until walking away in 1999. Why? having to deal with others, boredom and playing shitty music. I found minor success in those bands, culminating in the release of Bullet Proof Poems-A Tribute to the Dogs D'Amour in 1999 through Desert Inn Records in Europe.


For the longest time I thought that was enough of a legacy in music...well I was wrong.


After I gave up music, I floundered for a bit with no direction for my creativity. Then one fateful night I decided to give fiction writing a go. I ended up with 2 novels, a few comic books and a magazine published from 2010 to 2012. I ended up with another minor hit on my hands, one of my books topped off at 55 on Amazon.com.


Then I lost all desire to write. There was this irritating itch on the back of my neck, it was something I hadn't felt in over a decade.


Music. Goddamn it. It was then, that my life was coming full circle again.


Picked up a new guitar since I had sold mine years ago (except for my Les Paul Bass) and just sat and played.


And played and I played so much that I ended up with 3 more and an acoustic, this is when I realized that I was all in...again.


So after a few months I ended up in a band again, even though it didn't last more than a few months it did provide me with a few things...


Playing out again, we did squeeze 2 gigs in the short time we were together. The second was, yes, I am all in again. Holy fuck I am doing it and it felt good.


I am a lifer.


The point of this post is simple, even when you think you are finished with something, chances are you will never be free. Especially if it is a life long passion that you put so much into it to see it all fall to shit (what led to walking away 1999).


The biggest regret I have is one that I really wish I could go back and change. I was asked by someone I have always respected because he "made it" in music, to play bass in his band. But the sour taste in my mouth from my last band I said no. This was 2005 or 2006, so that is how bad it was when I walked away. A half decade later and I still wanted nothing to do with it, even if it was one of my heroes.


Well that will never happen again, if someone I truly respect would ask me now if I'd join their band, my response would be "do you want my left one or right one?"


It was never about being famous or being known, I've always want to just play good music and maybe make a few bucks here and there.


But the one thing I know is I have unfinished business that this time I will not walk away from.


Nope.


This is just the beginning.


I'm just another rock n' roll lifer and I'm ok with that.


Hopefully I'm going to make this a semi-regular thing. Tell boring stories of the road and dive bars. Rant about random shit and possibly get some material recorded and posted.


We shall see...
Jay