September 2012 Newsletter
September 3, 2012
“…but such is the price you pay for leaving home, and as long as you continue to travel, the nowhere that lies between the here of home and the there of somewhere else will continue to be one of the places where you live.” ~ Paul Auster in “Winter
Summer’s almost over! And it’s been a BUSY one – which in this business is just a wonderful thing. I’ve played a whole lotta gigs and traveled a whole lotta miles since the last newsletter. I’ve flown a lot, put too many miles on my car, ridden buses, I’ve walked it and even boated it a couple of times, and all along the way I’ve (almost) loved every minute of it. I’ve met so many wonderful and unique people over these journeys and I am so humbled by and appreciative of the generosity, warmth, kindness and humor shown me by complete strangers. Being a traveling musician, even with its occasional travails, is just such a wonderful life when it’s working. When it’s not… well that’s when it becomes work! But it’s always an adventure…
Now that summer’s over, it’s time – as usual – to stop having so much fun and get back to work. I’ve recently completed the redesign of BOTH of my websites! johnisley.com and ewilogic.com are completely revamped and there’s some really exciting new content being developed for the EWI site while my personal site is now more streamlined, easier to navigate and frankly looks a hell of a lot cooler!. I’m hoping to begin publishing new tutorials and articles within the month. There’s some other new and exciting stuff in the pipeline for sure. There’s new music coming that’s been waiting a very long time to see the light of day. ‘Bout time it got finished! There’s a new band project comin’ too and it’s gonna be a lot of fun – we’re pulling together the pieces as I write this and are looking to debut a fun, funky, swingin big ol’ bucket o’ groove in a few weeks. So the summer may be over, but the work’s just beginning! Stay tuned!
The only possible word to describe August is FUN! Southside’s schedule took us across the pond to the beautiful world of Scandinavia for three shows in Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and Notodden, Norway. I had never had the pleaseure of traveling in Scandinavia, so it was an additional treat for me to be there. The cities themselves were beautiful – especially Stockholm – and the people were just wonderful. Kind, generous, friendly and very accommodating. Not to mention everyone is about 6′ 5″ and gorgeous! A fun and fascinating place. We played to sold out crowds of very enthusiastic fans in every venue, which begs the question, why aren’t we there more often?
At the end of our run, I took the opportunity to visit Copenhagen and see an old and dear friend and spend time with his family. Copenhagen is by far one of the most livable cities I’ve ever had the pleasure to explore – what an amazing and wonderful place! It was great to have some time to explore with a friend, hang in their back yard and just relax. Running around the harbor area and eating all kinds of wonderfully prepared and fresh food was very very nice after weeks of road food! Copenhagen is certainly a place I hope to return to someday soon.
SSJ blew into the Peach Music Festival in Scranton, PA, hosted by the Allman Brothers. After a smokin’ SSJ set, the Jukes Horns joined the Allman’s for several songs on the main stage. What a blast fronting the Allman Brothers Band to 15,000 people! There’s such a wonderful energy in that audience and their reaction to the Jukes Horns was just awesome! I love playing with that band… especially since 15,000 people screaming for the Jukes Horns is most definitely a beautiful sound!
One of the most personally special highlights of the month was performing alongside the legendary band Little Feat at Westbury Music Fair. Growing up in the south, there’s a number of sacred traditions, and Little Feat is one of them! I’ve been listening to and loving their music since I was a very young person and I’ve always loved their groove, vibe and sense of humor. Getting to play a few songs with them was just awesome. You can watch the video of our performance with them here.
The last ride in this summer carnival was the annual two night stint at Martell’s Tiki Bar on the Jersey shore. From shore trash (I’ll never understand little tiny bikinis and 5 inch stiletto heels in public… wow.) to the long term, die-hard fans (you know who you are!) who came out to party for two nights under the stars with the band, it was spectacle for summer’s waning days and a perfect sendoff into the next few week’s break from our touring schedule. There’s a well deserved hiatus right now for the band after a hard and well played summer. Lookout fall, here we come! I’ll look forward to reuniting with the fellas in a few weeks, but for now, I got other stuff to do!
In other news, I’m pleased to have been featured in a new Cannonball ad campaign published in the August edition of International Musician! I genuinely do love playing their horns, and am on my way out to Salt Lake to pick out another tenor (or two) in a couple of months. These instruments keep getting better and better and are right on par with anything in a new, modern horn that’s out there now. Thanks to Sheryl and Tevis Laukat for their wonderful work, generous spirit and tireless pursuit of improving their instruments. Many thanks to their daughter, Rachel Laukat, for the wonderful photos from our photo shoot! You can see several of those on my website here.
For those of you not aware of it, I have been a long time user of the Akai EWI as a performance and creative tool. The EWI is basically a wind blown synthesizer, but because of its deep MIDI capabilities, it can be used to drive an amazing array of devices from synthesizers, to lighting rigs, to video playback systems – just about anything that can receive some kind of triggering signal can be controlled by it with the right routing and programming. I’ve been working for years on integrating the EWI into Apple’s Logic software as a controller to create lush soundscapes and solo perormance pieces that utilize this very powerful and robust instrument. On September 13, I will be presenting a workshop and performance overview of my work with the EWI and Logic for the New York Logic Users Group. I’ll be covering working in the environment in Logic to create a personal workspace and customized performance environment.
The event will be taking place Thursday, September 13 at Tekserve, 119 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011 (212) 929-3645. My presentation begins at 6PM and will last approximately an hour.
One last thing: Here’s a link to an article that I think is a) funny as hell and b) so frighteningly accurate as to the state of things in the jazz world that it should be required reading of ANY musician who thinks they want to play jazz for a living. For that matter, it should be required reading for ANY music major since the scenarios as described can pretty much sum up every musician I know. The very frightening part is that I see much of me in there alongside everyone else. Nobody is exempt – well worth the time to read. Careers In Jazz by Bill Anschell