What a great mini-tour this was! I covered Florida to South Dakota and lots of places in between, and left a bit of myself every place I went.
The two guitarists and former bassist of Awakening were in attendance at my Lake Worth, Florida show. Award-winning singer-songwriter Melanie Kirby attended my Corbin, Kentucky show. I also met countless fans and made new fans along the way.
Thank you to all of the fine people who came out and saw me on my Victory Or Valhalla U.S. Mini-Tour!
Happy New Year! The bass is complete on the Realm Of Glass album 'Reveries From The Haunted'! Justin Hernandez and I spent New Year's Eve recording my bass for the song "Broken". His home recording facility Obsidian Insanity Studio was disassembled when he moved in September, and he just finished reassembling it in December. In addition to reassembly of the electronic equipment and such, he and his workers actually built and painted the walls, converting an entire attic into the recording facility that he'd enjoyed in his previous residence. That is why the transition took so long.
As I performed my parts tonight, I noted that I am at the top of my game. Solo music leaves room for doubt, as you never can introspect objectively enough to know for sure whether you are fully challenging yourself, but session work never deceives. The artists who's recordings I play on do not write their songs to fit my style or skill set; therefore, I know that the level at which I play their music displays the true level of skill I possess on my instrument. I worked very, very hard on honing my abilities in order to pull off a very challenging bass arrangement, and was extremely happy with the result tonight.
I arrived home from tour yesterday at 6:00 in the morning. I had a great time! I met and hung out with some cool people, made some new fans, and was treated with hospitality. I really enjoy performing musical concerts, and I feel- and have felt for many years- that this is my calling. One interesting thing about this mini-tour was that I did not share the bill with any other performers (other than the open mic event that preceded my performance at one venue). I think this is a first on that count. That's not a good or bad thing, just an interesting one. Yes, some people in this world are sophisticated enough to attend live music events other than their "friend's band". I was fortunate enough to play in front of some of these fine people on this tour.
Thank you to all of the wonderful venues that hosted me this round:
The Cornerstone - Galena's Live Entertainment
Red Rooster Coffee House
The Empty Glass
Red Mug Coffeehouse
I just had an amazing conversation with my drummer Scott Chazan. It started out with this text message he sent me:
"Ben I am sorry dude...... I am eating dinner. I am going to have to back out of the gig due to many reasons. I know this isn't cool. It just isn't feasible to drive all the way up there just to set up and basically rehearse. I will try to set us up a gig where we can play in front of people. I like your material. It is just not fair to both of us to have to travel so far to rehearse. I have no drivers license and have to drive at night on a Saturday night trying to find my way with gps and cops behind me. It just makes no sense. I have to simplify my life, and taking that risk is a step in the wrong direction."
So I called him on the phone and confronted him about the fact that he is committed to playing that show, and that it's not "rehearsal", it's a concert. He called the 15-member audience at our first show "no one" (as if 15 equals zero), and Nostradamused that "no one" would be at our second show, also. I told him that his suggestion that after canceling this gig he would get us another gig is absurd, as I would never play with him again after he canceled this show. I promised that I would never play with him again. He cited excuse after excuse, the same ones "professional" musicians have been telling me for 15 years now, and quite frankly, it gets old. One excuse was his loved one's upcoming doctor appointment that might- I repeat, might- culminate in a diagnosis of something terrible.
He had the audacity to ask me how him backing out of the gig will hurt me. I rejoined by asking him why people have him play drums for them. Is it that they don't really need a drummer, they're just pretending? Their show will go on no problem without you, Scott? I told him that I will ask the venue if I can do a one-man show instead, since my drummer bailed on me, and maybe they will reluctantly let that slide, or maybe they will say no. THAT'S HOW YOU'RE FUCKING HURTING ME, SCOTT! Besides, it's beneath me to even explain to a motherfucker why backing out of a commitment is bad. He told me that I need to grow up, and I rejoined that grown-ups stick to commitments. Then he ceded that maybe he is the one who has some maturing to do.
I reminded him that in the half-a-year we've known each other, he's harped incessantly about how the members of all of his past- and current- bands did not stick to commitments, as well as other complaints, and the irony of his current actions within my musical duo.
In the end of the dialogue, I told him that if he doesn't play this show, we're through. He said "I guess we're through, then." We each said "bye" and that was the end of it.
Summation: If I'm playing for you, you can run your career how you see fit. If you're playing for me, you had better be prepared to stick to commitments and not be a flake. I hope this post scares off any other flakes that might consider playing for me.
Drummer Scott Chazan (KATIE SCULLIN, ex-JODIE FOSTER'S ARMY, ex-JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT) will make his live debut with BEN KUZAY at The Press Box in Richland Center, Wisconsin, on July 18th.
Chazan began rehearsing with BEN KUZAY in January, and is now an official member, replacing Allen Sklar, who left the band in order to pursue a career outside of music.
BEN KUZAY is performing live as a two-piece duo, playing original instrumental compositions from Kuzay's four solo cds. The concert schedule is:
July 18th Press Box Richland Center WI
August 29th Duffy Slade's Richland Center WI
Nov 28th The Metal Grill Cudahy WI
I arrived home a few days ago after a wild, rich, and fulfilling trek through America. The positive aspects of this tour far outweighed the negative. I will go over each, starting with the positive.
I received my first donations ever during this tour. Thank you to my long-time friend Chris Peterson in Boaz, Wisconsin and to a fan in Aberdeen, South Dakota- I think his name was John, and I remember that he said he's a bartender (not to be confused with the John who bartends at Slackers)- you guys put together gave me 25% of my net income on this tour!!!
I played several amazing shows to enthused audiences. Some of these crowds were big, and some small; but what really counts to me is how deeply the experience touches them. These few shows stand above the rest as gems in which the audience really felt my vision and shared my passion.
I shared the bill with several amazing bands on the road, and with one long-time musical comrade, too.
I visited old friends, both in and out of the music business. The ones in the music business included a couple of old band mates from groups I played with in the previous decade. The ones out of the business included a couple of political comrades whos names I won't mention, one of whom has been on television hundreds of times.
I met some nice women with whom I had a lot of fun.
Thanks to all of the venues who kept their word and hosted my performance. My favorite shows this tour were (in chronological sequence of occurrence):
You And Me Coffee And Tea (Corbin, KY)
Cafe Acoustic (St. Joseph, MO)
Red Rooster (Aberdeen, SD)
Slackers (Aberdeen, SD)
Now for the negative.
I only played 10 out of 14 scheduled shows, because four shitty venues cancelled. This is the worst ratio I've ever had on a tour.
So, the good far outweighs the bad! What a rich, wonderfrul experience this has been. Life is amazing!