Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Hint Of Early Southern California.

I took some pictures in Redlands on my day off. Originally I was headed for The Guitar Center and found myself in Redland's "Prospect Park". The entire block is full of orange groves and with the newly snow capped mountains as a back drop, I could not resist the opportunity.

After viewing these pics, I could not help wondering if this was the common image of the early 20th Century's citrus groves. I know my neighborhood used to look just like this.

I miss the vast rows of orange groves. I used to play along the dirt alleys that lined the trees. It seemed like the rows would go on for miles. It was a great time and unfortunately my simple camera did not to my view justice. Enjoy anyway.



Friday, January 18, 2008

Ok, What's God Planning? Ran Into Another Old "Cops in Concert" Aquaintance, Tim Sherwood.

I don't know what's going on but it's funny how I just blogged about 3 other C'nC band member over these last few days. Now I run into former "Cops" bassist Tim Sherwood. Tim was also in my wedding.

Like Ricky Z, I met Tim at Cal State U, San Bernardino. My first encounter with Tim was my first Jazz Ensemble class. Big rumour was that Roger Rickson (RCC's Jazz Ensemble) was to be Cal State's newest Jazz Band teacher. Cal State pulled the plug due to some problems with the college. I had an old Ibanez Les Paul copy that had been modified to have a whammy bar installed. Tim pointed out to me that I had totally messed up my rare guitar. As Tim pointed out to me, I had a guitar that Gibson sued Ibanez for copying Gibson's Les Paul design and all remaining copies in the Ibanez factory were ordered to be destroyed. Only 500 Ibanez Les Paul copies were made....and I killed the resale value on mine. Yep, that was our first meeting.

Tim was responsible for my involvement into Cops in Concert (two local police department officers who did a Blue Brothers inspired show and hired a band of local musicians to back them up). When I got into Cops, Tim switched from rhythm guitar over to bass, his main instrument. I then took over rhythm guitar while Ricky Z played lead.

Tim is a phenominal bass player. Tim could play anything, a lot like Ricky Z. Tim had no interest in fame and/or studio work and so Tim decided to direct his energy into teaching music. He's been teaching middle school kids for quite some time now. Also, a devout Christian, he is part of a Christian Salsa/Jazz band called "One Nation". As their MySpace puts it, "One Nation have fashioned a blend of salsa, fusion, rhythm and blues, jazz and rock that is a sound all their own, but appeals to a wide cross-section of society. They see their music as their ministry and as a powerful forum to uplift others through the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They have played a variety of different venues, such as: concerts, festivals, crusades, churches, prisons, outreaches and wherever there is a need for a positive message through music".

In addition to being a fantastic musician, Tim is one of the funniest people I know. My sense of humor has a percentage of Tim's humor.

So now back to today. I'm at Starbucks this morning and I heard Tim's wife call my name. I had just requested to be added to her MySpace yesterday. So I have not seen Tim in at least 4 years eventhough he lives locally. Live sometimes gets in the way. Each event sets friendships aside pushing back to a week, into months, into years.

It's interesting how God works or has something in the works. I've been very reflective in light of all my old bandmates success lately. This year, God may be planning a reunion of old friends. I sense something big is going to happen this year.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Meet Another Former "Cops In Concert" Alumnus, Bill Brendle.

Yes, another very successful former memeber of "Cops in Concert" era 1984-85. My roomate John Sponsler had replaced Bill when he and then drummer Tony Hernandez left "Cops" to persue another musical venture. Bill briefly returned to "Cops" for one show around 1989. Bill grew up here in town and graduated from the same high school my wife attended around '81-'82.

Bill got a music job with the cruise lines and eventually became a one man band using his keyboards and sequencers. He graduated into the ship's music director. I didn't see much of Bill during this time since the cruise line staff are usually gone for about 6 months out of the year.

I recently was wondering about old band mates and did a Google search on another musically friend bass player Tim Sherwood. Through Tim's website, I did a search on Bill and found him on MySpace.

Bill has composed and produced music for many independent and feature films for 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight, and Warner Brothers. His music has been heard in many TV commercials, and he is the composer for a several documentary films that have aired on PBS, The Discovery Channel, and HBO. He works with Rickey Minor (musical director for the Grammys), and is currently an arranger/orchestrator on the highly successful program “American Idol”. He has performed as a keyboardist and pianist with some of the most recognized names in music including: Sergio Mendes, John Legend, India Arie, Erykah Badu, Joss Stone, Jojo, The Black-Eyed Peas, Jurassic 5, Whitney Houston, Gino Vanelli, Michael McDonald, Tito Puente, Celine Dion, Eric Benet, Carol King, Joe Williams, Steve Winwood, and Chaka Khan. In Brazil, he worked in the studios around Rio with Maria Beth├ónia, Simone, Rita Lee, Hermeto Paschoal, Guinga, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, and Ivan Lins.

Be sure to check out all of Bill's music on MySpace.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Check out my friend Rick's MySpace.

When I was studying music at Cal State University San Bernardino, I met Rick Zahariades. Rick is a monster guitar player. He could always play any style like it was his only genre; classical, jazz, blues, rock, anything.

We were in "Cops in Concert" together between 1985-87 (Rick was already in the band earlier than '85). Rick was the guy I always tried to measure up to in regards to guitar playing. I was constantly trying to improve my abilities just to get up to his level. He was also the one who inspired me to buy my first Stratocaster in 1986. I remember Rick trying to teach me how to sing along with my guitar soloing, like George Benson. For the life of me, I couldn't do it. Now I've become so comfortable with the guitar, I can sing anything I play while playing on guitar.

Rick left Cops in '87 and this left me with nobody to gauge my skills against. Other people praised my guitar playing abilities but in my mind, I was nowhere near Rick's abilities.

When you visit his site (Brian?) click on "Backyard". That's all Ricky on guitar. He has played with many jazz and blues heavies. He's backed Jessica Simpson (yeah, I know but hey it's a name you recognize), Lauryn Hill, Nick Lachey, Paulina Rubio, Wayne Henderson, Don Grusin, Ronnie Laws, Stix Hooper, Terry Bradford, Alejandro Sanz, Shaila Durcal, Joan Sebastian, Juan Gabriel, Dawn Robinson (En Vogue), Cafe Quijano, Jenny Rivera, Obi Bermudez, Micheal Buble', Kristine W., Bobby Kimball, Jaci Velazquez, Los Trio, Cristian Castro, K-Ci, Chayanne, Carlos Ponce, Pepe' Aguilar, Composer Christopher Young, producers Humberto Gatica, Gustavo Farias, Kenny O'brien as well as various T.V./radio commercials, television and movie scores/soundtracks (most recently NBC T.V. program "Scrubs" and a new Dennis Hopper film titled "Ferris Wheel").

Also check out some of his outakes from some recording sessions in his "video" section. Rick is the king of rock face. Without a guitar in his hands, he's very quiet and humble....at least he was in '86.

Because of Rick, I am a better musician today. He challenged me unknowingly how to not settle for poor tone, always throw in something that engages your listener to want more, and how to carefully listen to the band and contribute your style only if the song begs for it. Phrasing comes to mind also. Less is more and flash is good only when necessary. Still to this day, I occasionally have a "What would Rick's approach be" moment. That's right after my "How would Larry Carlton play this". Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Found This Funny Ok Go Table Tennis Clip A Few Months Ago.

Ok Go is that band that is famous for their treadmill video "Do What You Want". I guess before they were famous, they made this short film. I'm still sick and have nothing new to blog about.

Through the magic of YouTube, here's their complete guide to playing successful table tennis. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We got a Wii for Christmas!

Very fun. What's cool is that you have to create a person to play Wii (called a Mii). It's kind of like creating your own Avatar.

We got the one that has the sports package; baseball, golf, tennis, boxing, and bowling. Since our old tv no longer works properly and it's only a 32" screen, we used the money we got for Christmas and bought our first flat screen 46" LCD HDTV. We were planning on buying one sometime this year since a few of our built in cabinets are being designed around future flat screen TVs.

We decided on the Sony Brevia W series LCD. Originally we were looking into the V series but a few reviews complained of some problems with blacks (picture not race). So between reviews from c.net and consumer reports, the KDL-46W3000 was the one for us. Eventually we will integrate this TV into a full home theatre system (our contractor installed all the wiring into the walls and ceiling before drywalling our living addition). All we'll have to do is install 4 surround sound speakers 4" from each ceiling corner and the wiring will already be accessable (oh, plus a receiver and all that).

So anyway, back to the Wii. It's very realistic and you actually get your heart rate up in games like tennis and boxing. What I like best is the background music whenever they go to the scoring section after a game. It's like you're about to break away to commercial at any minute. The "between holes" music for the golf game is that typical acoustic guitar and accordion "woodsie outdoors" scorecard music. This is a great rainy day solution for getting some exercise as well as something to pass the time with friends and sleepovers.