Pat Harris

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The Captain’s Log – March 2016

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Baton down the hatches, because the Austin Piazzolla Quintet will be spreading its polyphonic, polyrhythmic, poly-sacrilegious sounds all over the mountains and basins of Colorado and New Mexico in the coming days.  And not a moment too soon.  I, Commodore Harris, after nearly two weeks of living dormant in the northeast am itching for adventure.  The men and I have coordinated a two-pronged assault on the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains.  They will be approaching from the south in The Jolly Rogers, while I will approach directly from the east carried by the Trojan Horse of Southwest Airlines.  It is our mission for me to slip into the Denver area undetected, throw up a smokescreen, a diversion to create excitement and intrigue so that they may easily navigate through the horrid rush hour waters of the Mile High City.

We begin our journey this night at a dress rehearsal with the Parasol Arts dance company, and we will remain with the group through Sunday.  On Monday, we must steel our nerves for the mountain passes that lay ahead.  Whatever the ailment, it seems Colorado has the cure.  I do not speak alone when I express my enthusiasm for the micro brewing culture of this utopia.  The bearded, patchouli wearing, jam-grass picking natives know their wheat, barley and hops fermentation processes very, very well.  I dare not say the beer is better than my home state of Michigan, but there are no slouches out here.  Combined with the altitude, it is remarkably easy to feel an early onset of wooziness.

As any group of traveling marauders must do, it is only right that we stimulate the local economy as we are dependent upon every local community for our financial wellbeing.  It is only fair, and in good karma, that we see what offerings are available for us to partake.  In most cities, we favor local ale to literally “get a taste” for where we are.  We have also been known to purchase the occasional piece of art, stationary, mug or hat.  Colorado is different, though.  Colorado has its own jewel of an industry. Magical, magical things can happen in Colorado.  Magical.  Last year, we experienced a bit too much magic.  I can only speak for myself, but I knew I had overdone it when I awoke in the barracks of The Jolly Rogers after eight hours of sleep, and there were big black tentacles made of smoke grasping for my soul from down the hallway.  I was forced to lay motionless, eyes closed, in my bunk until the monster went away.  I have no recollection how long it took for me to muster the courage to venture out, but I know when I stepped out of The Jolly Rogers into the crisp morning air, I was immediately engaged in a staring contest with a deer that was crossing the road.  The Commodore does not flinch first.

I’m flying in, and I must pause to thank Colorado for its gifts and majesty.  Getting a literal birds eye view of the mountains inspires and delights.  We are all looking forward to another great run of performances.  Mike will finally get sweet assistance for his glaucoma, Tony’s chronic back pain will get temporal relief, and we can only hope that James gets his appetite back.

Friday, March 4 — Thursday, March 10

We have experienced what can only be described as Lost Time.  Even though we have been playing constantly, we have been operating within a very small geographical region of Colorado.  Today marks our first real push into the mountains.  We have been safely confined to the much flatter front range of the Rockies, and now we forge ahead into them.  The only way to literally go is up.

We have had the distinct honor of branching out and performing with other organizations on this journey.  Last weekend marked our first collaboration with Parasol Arts, a dance company based in Denver.  We were part of a show that mixed music, dance, and narration to tell the story of Astor Piazzolla’s life.  Our modus operandi has always been to be gracious and endearing— in order to do whatever is easiest for us.  As such, we docked the Jolly Rogers for the entire weekend in the parking lot of a multimillion dollar dance facility.  I wouldn’t say it was an eye sore to the facade of the building, but it didn’t do much to elevate its status in the neighborhood.  We didn’t ask to stay, but nobody told us to move, either.  Tis better to ask for forgiveness than for permission it seems. There was a very nice shower space in the locker room as well as a beautiful lounge we overtook with ease.  When we are invited to make ourselves at home, that is exactly what we do.

We had a show with the Boulder Chorale performing a few arrangements for chorus and quintet.  Having the opportunity to work with top notch dancers and a professional chorus has really ignited our creative juices, and we are thinking of new ways to incorporate other elements into our future productions.

In an effort to continually foster music education, we had the pleasure of presenting a few clinics and master classes at the University of Colorado in Boulder, as well as the Colorado Springs Conservatory.  We all get a great deal of fulfillment working with younger musicians in an effort to keep the artistic spark alive and to empower them to cultivate what they love.

It has been difficult to find time to keep track of our escapades in the Captain’s Log.  Since we have not yet spent hours traveling, the time to collect my thoughts has been severely lacking.  Even though we are technically a week into our jaunt, this is the first real bit of time we have spent watching the miles go by.  Our own Liberated Hell Raiser, Mike, is at the wheel as I write, and he is doing an admirable job keeping us from harm.

There are far too many stories for The Captain’s Log, and most of them are very nonmusical.  We are not rich, but we do see to it that we have an enjoyable time while we travel.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The adventure continues.  The saga continues.  Simple things grew eventful following yesterday’s entry.  Colorado.  Mountains.  We were en route from Boulder to Pagosa Springs.  The scenery is amazing out here.  We journeyed through Wolf Creek Pass and James pushed The Jolly Rogers to her limit.  On our descent from the summit, we decided to take a quick break at an advertised scenic overlook.  I was sitting in the shotgun position while James was behind the wheel.  As we turned off the engine, I smelled what I could only describe as, “I smell auto burning.”  It was directly out of the Ralph Wiggum playbook.  We stepped out of The Jolly Rogers, and sure enough, smoke was billowing out of the front right wheel well.

James:  “It’s definitely smoking.”

Tony: “Is it on fire?”

Jonny snapped a few photos.

Mike went into the back of the RV.  He would seemingly prefer to be engulfed in flames rather than fight them from outside if things took a turn.

I, Commodore Harris, grabbed the fire extinguisher— just in case.  As the boys saw the possible severity of the situation, they began throwing snow into the wheel well and pouring water on it.  The unmistakable sizzle rasped up with every bit of snow and water thrown on it.  After 45 minutes, there was still immense heat radiating from the surface.

We kept The Jolly Rogers in a low gear and cautiously made it down the 10 mile stretch at a 7% grade into Pagosa Springs.  We love Pagosa Springs, and it is a destination any time we are in Colorado.  Our hosts, Sally and Doug are some of the most amazing people we know.  This morning, we awoke with a breathtaking view of the mountains.

Currently, we are in Durango, about two hours from our destination for the day.  God bless Tony.  Tony won’t take the blessing, though.  He’s a meat eating vegetarian who doesn’t believe in God.  That’s not a judgement, it’s a fact.  He wears many hats in this band, and this morning, he is wearing the auto mechanic one.  He has removed the problem tire, examined the brakes and caliper, and bled the brake system.  We are all saying a prayer to our respective deities, except for Mike, because Mike believes in science.  James might believe in something.  I don’t know.  Jonny plays in Church on Sundays when in Austin, so I’m going to assume he’s the most pious of the bunch.  My fingers are crossed, and that’s about as sacred as I get, but we have to tackle Red Mountain Pass after all of the kamikaze auto work Tony has done.  At the highest point, we will be 11,017 feet above sea level with sheer cliffs and no guard rails on the roads.  It is one of the most gorgeous areas in the country, and I hope that we can make it through without incident.  One thing we have going for us, is that the weather is being very kind.  The sun is out and wind is minimal.

Saturday, March 12

The Lark and Sparrow in Montrose was originally an old Masonic Temple.  I, Commodore Harris, being sensitive to the paranormal, immediately felt a presence in the building after walking up the extended stairway.  A simpler way to put it, is that even though the glass domed ceiling was gorgeous, this place is haunted as shit.  I cannot say by what or whom exactly, but there are entities that have not yet left this hallowed space.

After spending the night with James’ parents and pillaging their pantry for much needed calories, we boarded The Jolly Rogers, said goodbye to Colorado and hello to New Mexico.  James, perhaps due to his mass consumption of both meat and beer, may have lost partial feeling in his right leg.  I only mention this, because as we hit the city limits of Santa Fe, we were caught in a snow storm and yet we were still blazing past cars, never wavering our position from the far left lane.  So much for the weather being kind.  We barreled into Santa Fe, NM after an explosive show in Montrose, CO.  It turns out that we love every city we travel to.

Unrelated to the travel and vistas, we all now have an intimate working knowledge of Tony’s lower intestinal health.  I don’t know if there is any correlation between his fair weather vegetarian diet and the three pounds of fiber cereal he consumes promptly after waking up each morning, but there is always much pomp and circumstance when he enters and subsequently exits a bathroom.

We always wish we could spend more time in Santa Fe.  I now refer to him as our good friend, Bruce, welcomed us back to The Gig with open arms for the third straight year, and we sold that bitch out for the third straight year.  We love Bruce.  We love The Gig.  We love Santa Fe.

Not to go quietly into the good night, we stayed with Mike’s friends from “the early days” Dave and Jane.  They are our Albuquerque Connection, and they have a fondness for tequila.  Mass amounts of tequila.  Their fondness is contagious.  It has become a bit of a tradition for us to have a “tasting” post-show.  The tasting starts out innocent enough with Dave pouring responsible portions out for us as he explains the subtleties between the various tequilas.  As the taste progresses, the pours get a bit more liberal, the details on particular region become a bit fuzzy, and a few other conversations begin.  Generally, within an hour, we are giddily hammered, all subtleties are gone, and I’m loudly requesting another round of the tequila that has that smokey flavor out of the penis shaped bottle.  The following morning typically has a slow start. No exceptions.

Sunday, March 13

Our final day of the tour.  Time ceases to exist when you’re in The Bubble; what I refer to as life on the road.  It’s hard to remember specifics about where you came from and what happened.  I like it.  We play the music, and then it’s gone.  Even though we play a similar setlist through an entire tour, there are enough variants in each piece to make it difficult to remember who did what and when.  I do remember Mike and James having particularly inspired cadenzas in Montrose.

Since we were staying in the foothills of the New Mexican mountains, we decided to take a hike on this fine day.  James set out for downtown early, while Mike, Tony, Jonny, and I, Commodore Harris, went out into the desert on our own vision quest.  I’ve never been the outdoorsy type, but sitting in the hold of The Jolly Rogers for hours on end with four other guys who’s dirty laundry is piling up while toting a 50 gallon tank full of our excrement makes me crave any amount of fresh air.

What started out as an innocent 30 minute hike turned into a 3 hour race to the top.  I am perpetually out of shape, the air was thin, and we didn’t bring enough water.  Typical gringos from the low lands.  We made some friends who gave us some of their water.  We didn’t anticipate being out and about so long, and the four of us earned a solid sun burn on our faces and arms.  I speak for us all when I say it was worth it.  The views from the top were serene.  Our next run through Colorado and New Mexico ought to be titled the Vista Tour.  There was never any lack of scenery— the complete opposite of the midwest.

I don’t know how our fearless leader James does it, but we managed to play some of the best rooms I’ve ever been in.  Not only do we get to travel to great cities, but we play *the* best rooms in them.  It took three years for the scheduling to work, but James was finally able to get us into The Outpost in Albuquerque.  Much like every other venue we played on this run, The Outpost is in the game for all the right reasons (same with The Gig, The Mezzanine, Lark and Sparrow, etc).

Wednesday, March 23

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ Account.

T’was a storm of storms rolling over the Rocky Mountains.  A level five shit-fest in Denver.  I, Commodore Harris, live in Albany, New York while the rest of the blokes live in Austin.  An important thing to know about Albany is that it’s at least 2.5 (in fair conditions) hours from anywhere people actually want to go to.  I packed up my automobile, affectionally known as the Blue Dragon since Fall of 2009, and first dropped my dog off at Camp.  She hates Camp.  They tell me she has fun with her “friends,” and that she “ate all of her food,” but I know my dog, and she hates Camp.  If I were her, I’d hate it, too.  Since she has dwarfism (Pembroke Welsh Corgi), can’t let herself outside, and can’t be trusted to exercise portion control with food, she has to go to Camp.

I drove the 3 hours down to Newark, just got into my extended stay parking lot, and received a phone call that my flight to Denver had been cancelled due to weather.  Everything done got cancelled.  I frantically tried to get on the Southwest website to remedy the situation, just like 100,000 other people, most with far more of a temper than myself, and no luck.  Called the toll-free number, busy.  Called again.  Busy.  Called six more times and finally got through.  Waited on hold for over 90 minutes only to find that I could get to Denver by Saturday night even though I need to be there on Friday.  Begin to drive back to Albany.

I’m sure you, dear reader, can see where this is going.  After a hoopla of hoops, and careful bordering on obsessive checking of the Southwest website, I was able to get a flight that put me into Denver late on Thursday night.

Thursday, March 24

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ Account.

As it was, I woke up, repacked the Blue Dragon, took the pup to Camp, and got back on the road.  Did all of the fun things associated with driving and flying on a holiday weekend after a major storm has grounded every flight to and from a major US city.  Door to door, it took about 24 hours of actual travel time, plus a $75 fee to check my bass on a plane, and the out of body experience that is Terminal A of the Newark Airport.

It is important to note that my fellow band members, stationed in Austin, were scheduled to fly to Denver early this very morning.  Their flight was also axed.  James, ever the leader, saw to it that an environmentally destructive SUV was rented due to the Jolly Rogers being unable to depart on such short notice, and they all left Austin, driving, at 2am in order to make a 6pm dress rehearsal in Denver.  Those men.  Foolhardy lads.  Too foolish to procure any decent ale, so I was forced to imbibe Miller High Life upon my late night arrival.  It is no champagne, and I already feel its ill effects weakening my lower intestinal tract.

Sunday, March 27

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ Account.

Again, we find ourselves relatively stationary this trip.  We are accompanying the word class Colorado Ballet playing two suites by Astor Piazzolla.  Everything about the weekend was amazing.  The dancers, our hosts, the AirBnB house rental, Natalie at the dispensary— everything except the travel.  We feel so incredibly lucky to have had the opportunities we have had thus far in the band’s tenure.  We often get asked how we came together, and to me, the story of Jonny replying to James’ Craigslist ad never gets old.

We have a bit of downtime until the end of May so that we can recharge and work on writing new material.  There are plans to go into the studio in June to record a new album or albums, and we are plotting a tour of the northeast in late August after we all attend the Tango Festival in Stowe, VT.  Positive things lay on the horizon.

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The Captain’s Log – February 2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Captain’s Log.  Commodore Harris’ account.

Woke up early, too early, to load and board the Jolly Rogers.  She is a sight for sore eyes, and will serve as both our transit vessel, and bosom from which we will all draw strength and power for the next ten days on our maiden journey to the east.  On our way to civilized lands, we will have to travel through hostile territories not often friendly or welcoming to men of our ilk.  The course we have charted, in the interest of both time and financial economy, require that we use whatever stealth we may possess as we navigate a region full of those who place their faith into the hands Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Adolph Hitler, and Jesus Christ.

Morale is high on this, the first day of our venture.  In a display of good form, Tony offered to delight and entertain us through the morning hours.  Ever the one to employ the latest technological advances, he volunteered to purchase, at his own expense, a magical text titled, “The Secret Language of Birthdays.”  We may all have taken a few steps closer to enlightenment as we discovered the meaning and significance behind the day in which we were each born. Tony possesses disciplined artistic sensibilities, while I Commodore Harris, have my own liberated artistic sensibilities.  James, our leader, the man who leads us into and out of the fiercest fires of Hell, has his innocent heroic inevitability which pairs well with Jonathan’s trusted wild call.  Lastly, the wise sage of our group, the indomitable Mike, has been foretold to be a liberated hell raiser.

We are a merry band of misfits.  Not quite social outcasts, but well on our way.  We bring our own form and function to this endeavor.  We do not seek wealth or riches.  We do not wish to impose our customs upon the local tribes.  We travel because it is what we must do.  We are curators of an art that quickly approaches extinction.  We are the one-percent.  The one-percent at the bottom, doing the work so-called civilized people dare not do.  The cost is great and the heaviest price is time away from our loved ones.  Will they be patient and wait for our eventual return or will they move on?  Will they even remember us?  Will we remember them?  Our health and mental wellbeing always hang in the balance between the dark and the light.

We have many more miles to log before our first stop in Athens, GA.  We know not what awaits us, but we press forward with cautious optimism.  We have heard rumors of a settlement called New Orleans that awaits us when the sun begins to fall, where the whores run like stray dogs in the streets, spreading disease and pestilence.  We will be forced to stop, to give The Jolly Rogers the rest she deserves after an arduous day keeping our relentless pace.  We are guided by the Belt of Orion.  Lord, protect us.



Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

We slept under the stars of Alabama last night, awoke at dawn, and continue our voyage against the wind.  The Jolly Rogers shelters us from the elements, but she is mercilessly beaten by the wind and uneven terrain.  She drinks heartily when we give her rest.  We also drink heartily when we allow ourselves to rest.  After an hour of camaraderie, tired from travel and glossy-eyed from drink, we retired to our bunks.

We are warm, well rested, our bellies full, and though we are anxious to be able to share our gifts with the good people of Athens this eve, our heats hang heavy.  What began as a sunny day, bright and full of hope, has clouded over.  Snow has begun to fall as we plow through the white, long-needled pines just south of Atlanta, GA.  As is to be expected in these endeavors, our best laid plans are always under scrutiny and always challenged.  We were forced into waters none of us had anticipated. We are used to the requirements and to think quickly in order to ward off disaster along the way, but we are still able to be surprised.  Again, James, our heroic leader, thinking on his feet, most cool under intense heat, was able to guide us from a tragic situation into a tolerable one.  He is to be commended for his diplomacy.  Without him, we would likely leave many bridges burned, and towns reduced to rubble in our wake.  In a world as lawless as this one, the only rule we follow to the letter is the Golden Rule.  We are reminded of this again today.

The road ahead is long, but it is well worn.  We are not the first of our kind, but we may be some of the last.  The climb to the top continues to get more steep and narrow.  The odds are firmly against any financial success, but we all readily acknowledge that there are far easier and more comfortable ways in which to earn one’s keep.  There is no reason to pretend we know what lies ahead.  We have a vague map, and information is used and evaluated as it is presented.  We eagerly look forward to meeting new friends tonight in Athens, and we remind ourselves that while we travel mile after mile, hour after hour, day after day, all of our sacrifice is for that short duration of time in which we get to hold our instruments and commune with the audience through music.



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

What a wonderful place Athen’s, GA is.  We are uniquely fortunate in that while we pass through settlements not fit for civilized inhabitation, our destinations are quite cultural and give us a steady stream of inspiration.  As we continue our journey en route to Charlotte, NC, I reflect fondly on the events of yesterday and yesternight.

We deployed anchor in Athens amid a small squall.  The wind bit at our faces and the snow found its way down our shirt collars.  Our hastened pace allowed us to arrive early with time to spare; an uncommon but welcome occurrence.  Wanting to expand the horizons of our pallets, we were able to retreat from the storm into Trappeze, a finely independent institution, to quaff ale crafted from Athens’ own Terrapin Brewery.  It is customary for us to sample the local spirits and give unto the local economy during our travels.

It was the evening of our first performance, and the band we shared status with was most generous.  The Athens Tango Project is a wonderful band of musicians, and a very fine group of people.  This author can speak for my entire clan when I say that we very much enjoyed the shared fellowship and the opportunity to hear them perform.  In a turn of good fortune, the front of house engineer was able-bodied, had the sweet disposition of a southern gentleman, and possessed the rare gift of knowing how to transparently amplify acoustic instruments.  Hendershots, our host, was more than generous by offering us gifts of food and drink (both stimulants and depressants, and like the alchemists of old, I was able to combine both to wonderful effect) in addition to our monetary compensation for sharing our specialized talents with the good citizens of Athens.

While our impression of our performance was adequate, a very fine couple approached us after our performance.  Without prompting or provocation, they offered us the lodging of their beautiful four bedroom estate nestled off the beaten path.  While we cherish the comfort and amenities The Jolly Rogers provides us, not limited to just being able to purge our bladders while in motion, we dare not decline the invitation to sleep in warm beds that are on level ground and the promise of a hot bath in the morning.  Our hosts gave us the key to their kingdom, advised us to stay as long as was required to rest, and sent us on our way.  Beautiful place, this Athens.  Her people have done very well by us, and we are most grateful for the warm reception.  When we have achieved our global domination, we will remember and take into account the kindness Athens has shown us.

The sun shines, and the wind is at our back.  Faint echoes of music from last night replays in our ears.  It is quite good to be on the road.  The surprises, both good and ill, have an uncanny way of balancing themselves.



Thursday, February 11, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

Last night was a welcome night of rest.  While we have only had one performance thus far, we have spent much time barreling down America’s highways in the belly of The Jolly Rogers.  Our venture continues this evening at The Evening Muse in Charlotte, NC.

We have all settled into the routine of being on the road, and we have devolved into a five-headed-man-beast that is incapable of making even the simplest ideas or decisions come to fruition.  It is in these moments that clear communication becomes particularly important, and the ability to simply exist becomes a necessity.

With the newfound free time available to us, our group has found itself splintered on this midweek afternoon.  Tony and I, both sharing March 1 as our date of birth, referring to ourselves as “March Firsters,” though Tony is a few years more weathered than myself, were advocating for a rehearsal as a way to effectively spend our hours.  Not to be dismissed, the indomitable Mike demanded an opportunity to experience local culture.  I advised that I had enough culture for the whole venture hanging between my legs, but he persisted. James and Jonathan joined Mike in his foolhardy quest.  Whilst our comrades sought out a museum, Tony and I commandeered The Jolly Rogers and navigated her as a skeleton crew.

We have docked our craft in the heart of Elmwood Cemetery.  As I write, the sun does its best to warm the cold breeze, and it reflects effortlessly off the worn granite of the McClung burial plot.  To the immediate right of the McClung’s resting place, a pair of laborers, working at a steady and deliberate pace, fill a grave full of fresh earth that is rich with clay.

Private time is a rarity while traveling, and I take advantage of it whenever it is offered.  There are few others that I would so willingly leave the creature comforts of my home to explore new territories with, but I am thankful for the quiet of this afternoon as I rest among those who rest eternally.  The days ahead will be long, traveling great distances to perform, with little opportunity to catch our breath along the way.  The big push begins tonight in the Queen City, where Downtown is called Uptown, and Billy Graham’s all-seeing-evangelist-eye holds dominion over saints and sinners alike.



Friday, February 12, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ Account.

There are rats in the hull.  One of our own has taken ill.  Unknown causes.  We all have our private hypotheses inclusive the poor administration of nutritional supplements and fish oil, cold late nights, the decision to abstain from bathing, or his fondness for the sweet leaf.  Regrettably, we cannot afford to delay our pace or to break stride.  While he rests, sweating through the now yellowed blankets, we have concluded that there is the real possibility we may have to aid his passing from this life into the next.  I shudder to think of such measures needing to be taken, but one of us will be forced to use the hammer in an act of mercy to free his ailing soul.

Moving on to matters of a more cheerful nature, we had the wonderful fortune of bringing our message to the masses in Charlotte, NC last night.  We were taken aback by the sheer number of locals who came out to sample our aural wares.  To be greeted with such applause and accolades humbly reminded us that our mission does have inherent value to it. Never have I, Commodore Harris, been greeted with such warm fanfare following the opening piece, and I have traveled extensively in this mercenary profession.  We are very much looking forward to a return voyage to the Evening Muse in the Queen City as soon as time and scheduling allows.

We bid a fond farewell to our gracious hostess this morning.  She was a most elegant maiden, and we are in her debt for allowing us to tie-off The Jolly Rogers to her estate.  As I write, we are resting in Durham, NC, after a hearty meal of eastern barbecued pork at The Pit.  We sip artisanal coffee and half-heartedly discuss the plan of attack for our engagement this evening at The Shed.  Our standard method is to strike virgin ears fiercely without relenting, only allowing for brief moments to catch one’s breath.

There are moans and grunts from our fallen mate coming from the sleeping quarters.  Even with the distance between him and the observation deck, we hear is pain, and the slushing around of his gut rot.  The indomitable Mike, having circled the sun nearly forty more times than our heroic leader, James, does not share in our hope for our distressed partner, insisting on delivering him from evil and scouting the unknown area for a cellist in proper health.



Saturday, February 13, 2016

Captain’s Log.  Commodore Harris’ account.

We had a burdened sleep last night.  The temperature has been falling steadily on our journey and plummeted last night.  The wind bites at our faces like a starving pack of wolves who now smell an easy prey.  The Jolly Rogers has been our protector, but takes the treacherous weather head on.  Icicles hang from her corners and frost covers her portholes.  In an attempt to drop some ballast, we emptied the black tank, which held a mixture of human excrement and an equal amount antifreeze, but I fear we may be pushing her too hard for her advanced age.

We have made it to the capital of this nation.  Despite the governing bodies being comprised almost entirely of caucasian males, babbling incoherently at each other, who cannot seem to agree on anything, there is a great and beautiful diversity of culture in this place.  It makes one wonder how in a land that refers to itself as “The Free,” the majority of its inhabitants are slaves to the few. Monuments symbolizing wisdom, strength, and the determination for what is ethically right, while rooted in ancient pagan ritual, stand misunderstood, or even worse, ignored all together.  They loom tall and cast long shadows at this hour.

We met our host, David, this afternoon.  So often, my men and I venture without any allies in the foreign destinations we seek out.  He is a most generous and understated feudal lord.  A man who cares deeply of his subjects, and who speaks to them as if they are equal in social standing.  He is a curator of independent music, an impresario, and we are honored to be his guests this evening.  At this point in our journey, we happily welcome the company, gifts, and accommodations he joyously provides us.

We unloaded our wares into the awe inspiring Falls Church.  Rich with history, original construction of this structure began in 1732, and its namesake comes from its geographic location. Our guide informed us that George Washington was a parishioner, and it was occupied by confederate troops during the depending-on-what-side-you-stand War of Northern Aggression.  We eagerly await our opportunity to make music in the beautiful circular hall with its hand laid brick floor and heavenly reverberations.

We must awake before the cock crows tomorrow.  A hard haul to Asheville awaits us.  While we are looking forward to our performance nestled in the mountains, it will be a grueling travel day in order to bring our music to the ears of her people.



Sunday, February 14, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

Valentine’s Day.  The Feast of St. Valentine.  We are reminded on this day of those we hold dearest to our hearts.  We are also reminded of those chalky candy hearts, and the gentile Texas turn of phrase, “That certainly is a gun in my pocket, and it’s holstered for you, Valentine.”

We have surpassed the halfway mark on our voyage, and I’m sure we all could have benefited greatly from more rest last night.  It would be hugely practical if we were able to bed ourselves at an earlier hour, but it takes a good while to calm the mind after such performances.  We have found that craft ale, of which we maintain an ample supply, continually refreshed, helps to bring us to a gentle state of evening tranquility.

We had an excellent performance in Falls Church, and I cannot stress our appreciations for our feudal lord and host, David.  A generous man if ever there was one.  So often, we may find ourselves at home, stuck in our own heads, feeling morose about the state of the world.  Through these travels abroad, we have the fortune to meet some of the kindest and most giving people; the kind of people you may think no longer exist.  We get to participate in a facet of life which goes largely ignored by those who disseminate information to the masses.  We may not speak the same language or agree on matters of the soul, but we get to experience some of the best sides of humanity.

As we forge ahead through the Shenandoah Valley, now a full week into our quest, our heroic leader, noticing a waning of energy among the crew, saw fit to cook us a hearty breakfast.  While I manned the helm, doing my absolute best to wrangle The Jolly Rogers and keep her ib course, James treated us all to a fine, made to order breakfast without any slackening of pace.  We all agree it may not be the safest method to obtain sustenance, but we also agree that it was a most enjoyable and entertaining way to pass the time.  The things we must do to keep the faith strong.

We have almost made it to Asheville, NC.  The weather remains bitterly cold, but there is a stark elegance to the mountainous landscape.  As we crest, a blue haze envelopes the the distant peaks.  A light crust of snow has held onto the branches of the naked trees.  In the valleys, water once gently flowing, has frozen against the stone cliffs that border our winding trail and presents the feeling of being in a fantastical forgotten world.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

Our time in Asheville was wholly too short.  I believe the men and I could have kept ourselves properly dehydrated for a few days without repeating a single beverage in that wonderful city.  We found ourselves on the receiving end of good fortune, and the whole experience exceeded our expectations.  The more one travels, the more chance one has of facing an uninspiring performance situation or some other trial of the spirit, and thankfully, without hexing our final upcoming showcase, we have not had to face that particular dilemma this trip.

We have crossed the threshold into kinder weather with the worst of it behind us.  We were able to successfully stay a day ahead of some frightful winter squalls that were cutting across the southeast, and save for a bit of rain, it ought to remain smooth sailing.  It was pure luck, and we were blissfully unaware how close we stood to the precipice of disaster.

I find the travel days to be the most difficult.  We are on this adventure to perform, and no matter what happens, the performance is our reward for a day spent trying to occupy the mind without offending anybody else aboard The Jolly Rogers.  In the tight quarters, it is easy to wear out one’s welcome, but we are a rare group, keenly aware of this, and we all do our absolute best to be respectful.

I was able to rest my eyes for what felt like a brief moment this afternoon.  As I laid down, it was still quite wretched and dismal outside, but upon waking, a familiar and welcome humidity had seeped into the cabin, and the temperature was nearly fifty degrees higher outside.  My hands have been lapping up the moisture. Once scaly skeletal talons, they are now starting to once again resemble the artistry of an intelligent designer.

We are heading directly into the swamp lands of New Orleans.  Mardi Gras, a celebration of some kind of heretical devilry was last week, and we are unsure as to what the condition of the city will be in.  She was almost eradicated, erased, swept clean off the map a few years ago from a tempest of biblical proportions, but she still stands, as I understand it, because of the effort from the local tribes and without real help from the federal overlords.  We will make our final stand in this place often referred to as The Big Easy.  When our work is complete, we shall head home for two weeks to recuperate and rest.  In March, we head west to confront, court, and conquer the mountains and desert.



Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Captain’s Log. Commodore Harris’ account.

I failed my post yesterday.  I let my team down, and I let myself down.  Letting myself down is a daily activity, often multiple times, but letting my team down is unacceptable.  An entire twenty-four hour cycle went unaccounted for.  There is a reason, not a terribly good reason, but a reason nonetheless, for why I was unable to record the details from the daily events from February 16.  And what a glorious day it was.

There needs to be an addendum on the entry on February 15.  At the time of writing, I had assumed smooth seas for safe passage.  We were not expecting to have to press forward through torrential rains, gale force winds, and tornado activity.  We were caught off guard at dusk by the southern tip of a magnificent storm system.  James took The Jolly Rogers as far as she could safely go before making an executive decision to immediately halt our progress due to safety concerns.  James was weary and worn from such focused attention navigating the dismal conditions. I took the reigns once the rains relented.  We were not in the clearing for long, and I was soon forced to take evasive measures and to dock The Jolly Rogers to wait out another intense barrage of weather.  We were losing time, and daylight was behind us.  As conditions slowly improved, we cautiously moved on, making it to our final destination, New Orleans, much later than anticipated.  As we pulled our craft into port, we were overjoyed to see that the RV park, the Luxury RV park, had a bar still open for business, with reasonably priced libations.  After a bit of swashbuckling conversation with the locals, we hailed a ramshackle cab and went into the heart of downtown Nola.  Mike, the liberated hell raiser, in an unexpected show of restraint, opted out of the adventure, choosing to retire after a long day, but he would make his presence felt tomorrow (more on that a bit later).  James, Jonathan, Tony, and I, Commodore Harris were in search of food and drink as the clock inched closer to the midnight hour.  There is no shortage of revelry in New Orleans, and there was still plenty to occupy the senses on an “off” night.  The clock ticked and we desperately wanted to eat before The Stripper Rush, which occurs at approximately 4am each morning, would make for an even longer night.  With our eyelids growing heavy, we decided to pack it in, and hail an Uber.  Blessed technology.  Before we could properly tip the barkeep, Lisa had arrived and we piled into her automobile.  She informed us that we had docked the Jolly Rogers quite far from town, in an area unfamiliar to her.  We were able to ease her mind by being perfect gentlemen, although slightly giggly, and we repeatedly emphasized that we had no murderous intent.

Sleep came quickly aboard once aboard our traveling home away from Home.

Now routine, we awoke with the sun, and being on the eastern side of the time zone, the sun rises earlier than we would have preferred.  Not wanting to waste a perfectly available day, we hopped to, gathered our things and made our way, this time with our Liberated Hell Raiser, a full quintet, to the French Quarter.  We had but one simple objective prior to our performance that evening: Eat, drink, and be merry.  We treated ourselves to beignets and chicory coffee.  A righteous beginning to the day.  The Crescent City has the best street music culture of anywhere we have visited.  As the day wore on, our heroic leader, James, wanting something a bit more substantial to eat, led us to a fine establishment for a relaxed sit down meal.  Always looking for maximum value of our minimal currency, we could not help but be drawn to the martinis that were twenty-five cents each.  For clarity in the log: twenty-five cents each.  Round one came and disappeared quickly.  Our waiter could not even ask if we wanted a second before Mike cut him off demanding more.  Our Hell Raiser had a first-class ticket and was bringing us all along for the ride.  Round two arrived, more substantial in size than round one.  We had a glorious meal. The cajun cuisine hits the palette in all of the right places.  As we were about to settle our debts, our waiter asked if we wanted martinis to-go.  There was no time to mull it over.  Of course we did.  We were presented with even bigger drinks on this third round.  I believe we were all feeling quite giddy at this point.  Speaking only for myself, I was in an irresponsible mental state after our second, but the opportunity to roam the streets on a beautiful afternoon with liquid happiness in hand was too tempting to pass up.

We were unloaded unto the streets.  Our ears filled with sounds of the city and our eyes filled with art and architecture.  Our trajectory was anything but intentional.  We frolicked, danced, boogied, grooved, and cajoled our way through town thankful for the sun’s rays and grateful to be rid of the subzero temperatures of the north.  The swamp land was our land.

Our libations began to wear off in the late afternoon.  We found our way back to The Jolly Rogers to regroup for our final performance of this venture.  When you set out, it seems like an eternity.  You give into the ebb and flow of travel, and each day begins to blur into the next.  By the time the final day arrives, you can scarcely believe it and wonder where the time went.  At the show, the odds were against us due to some problematic acoustics and problematic patrons, but we delivered all that we could as best as we could, and we were proud to give our all for those who cared to listen.

At this very moment, the Captain’s Log for this adventure comes to a close.  I am sitting in an aluminum tube that through sheer force has muscled its way 30,000 feet into the heavens.  My brothers aboard The Jolly Rogers are without The Commodore.  They take the road back to our fort of operations in Austin while I steal away to upstate New York.  I miss them already, and I am replaying the many laughs and ridiculousness we all shared.  Make no mistake, we are all quite mad, and quite happily so.  I do look forward to being reunited with my fair lady and our corgi child.  I look forward to sleeping in my own bed, and I look forward to taking a long hot shower that doesn’t require that I do everything in my power to avoid touching any of my surroundings.  I love being home, but I also love the unknown of the road.  I wish my comrades safe passage to their homes.  We will reunite in two weeks for more global conquest, and more importantly, more of the Captain’s Log.

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Wiggle Stump Records

Wiggle Stump Records was founded by Pat Harris in November 2011 and gets its name from Pat’s corgi, Calliope (kah-lie-oh-pee). WSR handles all of the copyright, publishing, licensing, artistic, and promotional duties associated with putting out a sound recording in downloadable (MP3, FLAC) or hard copy (CD) media.

As the years have gone on, popular music has gone from something that is artistic and socially revalent to something that has been diluted to the point of being just another consumable good. Under the pretense of trying to promote music that has “value,” the record industry has all but destroyed the art within popular music. Rather than being something that is celebrated and listened to on its own merit, music, or popular music, is now used as a way to keep people constantly overstimulated while they go about their day. We live in an age where (while possibly helpful) it is no longer necessary to be signed with a major record label to have a sustainable career, and it is not a goal of Wiggle Stump Records to compete with those companies. It is the view of WSR that in order to have a sustainable career, and not be some 7 year flash in the pan, artists must slowly cultivate an audience that is willing to grow and evolve with the artist over the course of a 10, 20, 30, 40 or 50 year career.

Wiggle Stump Records is an “Artist First” label. We operate first and formost because we believe in putting something genuinely creative and good into the world. While every business has a bottom line to maintain, it is not our goal to fill our pockets while the artist goes hungry and has little say over the direction of their art. Rather, we work with artists because we believe in their talents and we believe there are listeners out there who will agree with us. We strive for fairness and aim to make sure that each artist is properly compensated for their efforts.

We encourage and promote music as art with the hopes that listeners will hear what we hear, eliminate outside distractions, and enjoy the music as the artist has intended.

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