Friday, November 19, 2010

Let the Christmas Giving [and Listening] Begin!

On Wednesday, November 17, Chris Palmer notified us that the video he has been working on for the Elf Louise Christmas Project was available for viewing on his Facebook page. Steve and I had a quick look and were very pleased. Mary Lou came home from shopping and cried throughout the entire 5 minutes. Kathy got an opportunity to check it out during lunch. We all agreed that it was a suitable salute to the absolutely amazing woman known to all of South Texas as Elf Louise, and it was also a pretty cool showcase for our new song, “Everyone Deserves a Christmas.”

The next morning, Steve, Mary Lou, and I drove over to Louise’s house to formally sign the licensing agreement guaranteeing that ALL proceeds from the song will go to charitable organizations – first among which, of course, is the Elf Louise Christmas project. Our good friend Jim Johnston was there to watch the “ceremony.” It’s hard to do anything in a formal mode with Louise. I can’t remember laughing this much before 8:30 in the morning since I was working the midnight to eight shift in the Air Force.

Now, we have just heard that the video is up and available for viewing on YouTube, and that Elf Louise’s site now has a prominent “DONATE” button available for those of you who appreciate the video, approve of what Elf Louise has been doing here in South Texas for over 40 years, and kind of like the song Steve and I wrote. We hope you’ll recommend the video to your friends and help it go “viral.” Click HERE to listen. Click HERE to donate to The Elf Louise Christmas Project, and help ensure that everyone gets a Christmas they deserve.

Next up for the band will be the 2010 Ford Holiday River Parade. We will be performing “Everyone Deserves a Christmas” and other seasonal and fun music on the Grand Marshal’s barge the day after Thanksgiving, November 26. This will be a 2+ hour gig for us, as the barge winds around the world-famous San Antonio River Walk. The Paseo del Rio Association estimates that our audience along the banks may be in excess of 150,000 people. Millions more will be able to watch the parade live in as many as 40 different television markets around the country. Hmmm, 150,000 people. Well, I suppose we can perform for an audience that small!

And then what for The Tim and Bob Show? Well, for the remainder of the holiday season, we’ll be popping up at Elf Louise events, and on local television and radio promoting her good work. And then we’ll be starting 2011 in the best way we know how – at San Antonio’s Olmos Bharmacy for a no-cover-charge performance the evening of January 1.

Things continue to be interesting in Tim and Bob Nation.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

“Everyone Deserves a Christmas”

The Tim and Bob Show took one step closer to finishing our contribution to The Elf Louise Christmas Project on Sunday, November 7. Steve and Kathy, freshly returned from their vacation in Nashville, joined Mary Lou and me at Ken Branca’s Dreamland Studio to “enhance” the recording of our song, “Everyone Deserves a Christmas.” We’d recorded the song earlier, but at one of our planning sessions, Louise agreed with Steve’s suggestion to add children’s voices, saying that “it would be nice to have children singing like angels” on the chorus. Since The Elf Louise Christmas Project is all about children, we readily agreed.

The band’s good friend KONO DJ Steven O. Sellers, suggested that we contact a lady named Susan Larssen. She teaches elementary grades at San Antonio’s Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran School. I talked to her, and she seemed enthusiastic about the project. After some missteps, we got a recording of the song to her, and asked if she could select the children and then join us at the studio. She was able to do the former, but was not there for the recording, since she had flown back east to be there the moment she became a grandmother for the first time.

The idea was that the band would be there with Ken to help get the children used to the studio and the process of recording. Thanks to Susan, they were all familiar with the song. The sound check process showed us that they could carry the tune of their portion of the song very well. The first time we heard the children sing their line, all four of us lit up like … well, like Christmas trees. We had six children, and all of them contributed. Because Ken had only four headsets, he worked the kids in and out until each child had sung with every other child, and each child had an opportunity to be the one closest to the microphone. The mixing, of course, was all up to Ken.

While the recording was going on, the four of us had an opportunity to meet and talk to the parents. They were as excited as their children about the project, and there were dozens of photographs being taken. Among the photographers was Christopher Palmer, one of the members of the “Everyone Deserves a Christmas” team in support of the Elf Louise Project. Chris was there to document the recording, both in photographs and in video. He will be using these, along with the song itself, in the production of a video that we hope to have uploaded to Elf Louise’s site, our site and, of course, YouTube before Thanksgiving.

Before the children and their parents left, we asked Chris to take a picture of the 10 singers whose voices you’ll hear on the final recording, and we did. After much hand-shaking and thanks all around, the four of us sat, chatted, and drank our Route 44 Diet Cherry Limeades until Ken had finished doing his magic. The final product sounded brilliant, and I think we’re ready to “publish” the song with all proceeds going to the Elf Louise Christmas Project. All that’s left is for the lawyers to dot the I’s and cross the t’s.

While that’s going on, The Tim and Bob Show have other gigs to get ready for, but none more exciting that the one waiting for us on Friday, November 26, when we participate in the 2010 Holiday River Parade by providing the music for the Grand Marshal’s float. As soon as we find out which markets outside the San Antonio area will be televising the parade, we’ll publish that information.

There definitely IS magic at Christmastime, and that magic’s name is Elf Louise.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tim and Bob + Elf Louise = Big News

People who don’t believe that magic can happen any day of the week have not met Louise Locker. People who don’t believe that miracles can happen at Christmas have not met Louise Locker.

Louise, known here in San Antonio as “Elf Louise,” is a member of Tim and Bob Nation. She comes to our gigs, sits as close to the band as she can, and enjoys every note that is played. Once you get to know Louise, you begin to understand that she enjoys every minute of every day. She was introduced to us by our friend Steven O. Sellers who thought our particular blend of music and fun might be what she needed to get over some pretty extreme radiation therapy. Louise is a cancer survivor, and during the time we’ve known her has been undergoing either radiation or chemotherapy. We’re proud that our music makes things easier for her, and we are all thrilled to be her friends.

For those who don’t know Louise’s story, let me do a brief introduction here. While a freshman at a local university, Louise was struck by the idea that some of her childhood toys might make some local children happy. Armed with her charm and an amazing positive attitude, she convinced some local postal employees to let her read some “letters to Santa.” By the time Christmas came around, she had begun what has become known as the Elf Louise Project. Thanks to her, thirteen local children had their first ever Christmas presents. That was over 40 years ago, and in the time since, the Elf Louise Project has become a registered charitable organization that has made hundreds of thousands of children happy through the generosity of the larger San Antonio community. All this has been possible because it is impossible to say no to Louise Locker. We know.

After we had become friends, Louise contacted me through Facebook and we discussed the possibility of getting some musicians together to just “appear” and play Christmas music for people who needed cheering up. There’d be no fanfare, just a bunch of folks trying to make other folks happy. At some point, I said that maybe my Tim and Bob Show partner Steve and I could write a new song for the holidays.

It was in early September that Louise contacted me and asked if we could have a song ready in about ten days. [Ten DAYS!!!] She said that if we could, we could debut it at a news conference, but she couldn’t tell me any more because it was all a big secret. Suddenly pressed into action, I contacted Steve [who writes our melodies] and said that I’d have some ideas after doing some research. After combing over Louise’s website, it seemed to me that the whole point of the Elf Louise Project is that everyone deserves a Christmas. After Steve and I exchanged several phone calls and email conversations, we settled on the concept of our new song, “Everyone Deserves a Christmas.”

On Wednesday morning, September 15, the four of us joined several other people in the lobby of the Drury Plaza Hotel in downtown San Antonio. We were there to watch the Paseo del Rio Association announce that the Grand Marshal of San Antonio’s 2010 Holiday River Parade would be “Elf” Louise Locker. As part of the ceremonies, we performed the song for the very first time. Steve did most of the singing because he was the one most familiar with the tune. The rest of us came in on the chorus. As Louise was being interviewed by a television news reporter, we chatted with the director of the Association. During the conversation we found out that all barges, including the Grand Marshal’s float, will have bands. We wondered if The Tim and Bob Show could perform on Louise’s barge. Within 24 hours we had our answer – Louise wanted us to play on the Grand Marshal’s float in the River Parade on November 26. We were happy to accept.

Since that time, a small ad hoc organization has developed around the song. In addition to Louise and the four band members, Steven O. Sellers, photographer/fundraiser Jim Johnston, and media personality/fundraiser Sonny Melendrez have formed the “Everyone Deserves a Christmas Project.” In the weeks that followed, the band recorded a four-part version of the song at Ken Branca’s Dreamland Studios. Ken will continue to blend in the efforts of other San Antonio musicians until the song is “ready for release.” Our idea is to license the recording to The Elf Louise Project so that any proceeds from its sale will help to continue her dream of bringing Christmas to everyone. In very short order, we hope to have an mp3 that can be downloaded from her website and where contributions can be made.

We are also assisting in planning web-site upgrades, music videos, and personal appearances throughout the Christmas season with Elf Louise. Rest assured that we’ll be letting everyone know when the song can be downloaded, when the video is on You Tube, and also just before the River Parade. We understand that the parade is carried in 40 different markets with a potential viewership of 20 million people! So, you might get a chance to see and hear us far away from South Texas.

There are more wonderful things to come. It isn’t even November yet, and it was in the 90s earlier this week. But The Tim and Bob Show is here to tell you that there is indeed magic and there are indeed Christmas miracles in San Antonio. We know it’s true, because we know Elf Louise.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Quiet August? I Don’t Think So.

Looking at it from a very narrow perspective, it could be said that August 2010 was a quiet month for the band. We played only two gigs, and both of those were at the same location – the Olmos Bharmacy. A slightly broader view, however, provides a more accurate assessment. During this month the band also marked our 5th anniversary as a professional musical group. We celebrated with a brilliant meal at a fine restaurant and then, on the date itself, we celebrated by doing something we enjoy more and more, raising money for charity. Our tips at the August 28 performance contributed $130 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s ongoing fundraiser, Light the Night.

We’re just getting used to the fact that the Bharmacy is really a music club, rather than what we’ve become used to – a restaurant that features live music. Because it is the way it is, our music is more central to the evening’s festivities than we’ve been previously accustomed to. Naturally, we love it. Carlos and Patty Lou are wonderful to work with, and we’re hoping that our presence and our following helps swell their coffers.

One thing we’ve noticed about this great venue is that folks come back regularly and, when they do, they bring different sets of friends. So each gig there is a chance to greet old friends and meet new ones. And, speaking of friends, here’s the Tim and Bob Nationals who graced us with their presence during August: Marcie, Sandy Sheila and Susan; Vicki, John, and Linda; Sandra and Judy; Rick and Jessie and friends; Steve, Sandy, Phyllis, and Art; Rich; David, Chara and friends; Louise and Patrick; Rob and Kimberly; Peter, Marguerite, Dylan, and Justin; Beth and Matt; Hillary and Brian; Tamika, Laura, and Vince; Tina and Duffy; Peggy; Pam and Dick; Pam and Esther; Casey, Karen, and Rich; Rob; Crystal, Elizabeth, and Joe; Larry; and SA Blue Cat Mike with Laura.

That’s a lot, huh? If you’re not among that group, you really need to come out and see us. Despite Steve and Kathy’s work commitments and their membership in Fein Tuned and The Merrie Court Singers, the band has not stood still. We continue to add new material – four new songs made their debut in those two gigs – but we’re also taking songs that were originally “Steve and Don” songs and adapting them to increase our ever-growing supply of four-parters. This has allowed us to increase our use of Kathy’s bass and Mary Lou’s percussion skills, along with getting more voices into the mix.

We have over 230 songs in our performing repertoire now. I think we might have had 25 or 30 when we played our first ever gig at Fralo’s back in 2005. Over the course of the band’s life, we’ve been selected San Antonio’s Best Cover Band twice, had our CD recognized as the city’s “Album of the Year,” we’ve served as Artist in Residence, and were selected the Texas Music Coalition’s Artist of the Year. All this has happened while we’ve played over 160 gigs in at least 30 different venues. These have been five very good years for Steve, Kathy, Mary Lou, and myself and, as Frank Sinatra or Peggy Lee would tell you, the best is yet to come.

Speaking of what’s “yet to come,” watch this space for a future blog detailing a pretty significant event in the life of The Tim and Bob Show. I promise! In the meantime, check out our site, see where we’re playing next, and drop by our guest book to tell us what YOU think!.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lazy, Sleepy July

Well, at least it was for The Tim and Bob Show. Whereas in two of the previous three years, the band had as many as six gigs scheduled for this month, we only hauled our gear out twice, and then on successive weekends smack in the middle of the month.

On July 10, we returned to Olmos Bharmacy – the venue that is rapidly turning into our favorite in San Antonio. Patty Lou stuck around to listen to us, and she was only one of many Tim and Bob Nationals to be there. Beth and Matt, Hillary and Brian, Dick, Pam, Richard and Justa, Jack and Pat, Rick and Jessie, Pat, Lee, Larry, Phil, and Debra showed up. As a matter of fact, for more than half the gig, the majority of Patty Lou’s and Bharmacy’s patrons were from our mailing list. We took advantage of the friendly crowd to put in a lot of four-parters, including our a cappella version of Johnny Mercer’s classic “Dream” – a big favorite of Miss Hillary.

The next Saturday found us at Stonewall [near Fredericksburg, TX] for a return trip to Becker Vineyards. We had a two-hour afternoon session on the porch and were warmly received by Becker’s patrons. It’s amazing how much our audiences enjoy our music when they can sit and listen while drinking good Texas wine. We didn’t really expect too many folks to follow us up from San Antonio, but – well – we were wrong. Vicki, Loyce, Linda, and Linda’s sister Nancy [or as we like to call them “Summer’s entourage”] were there, along with Mara, Dick, and Internet radio personalities Wild Bill and Jo Ann. We’re hoping to visit their studio soon and make our Internet radio “live” debut. And, finally, Cindy brought along Bob and Tim to see us again. Yes, friends, Bob and Tim showed up to listen to Tim and Bob.

Doesn’t sound like a lot of work for the band, but that’s not so bad, really. During this spring and summer, we’ve brought several new songs into the mix [and we’re working on some more]. As Kathy is becoming more proficient on the bass and Mary Lou more diversified on percussion, we’re converting several traditional “Steve and Don” songs to four parters. Steve and Kathy come up with two or three new songs for their spotlight sets each month, and Mary Lou and I are doing the same. Haven’t come to listen to us in a few months? Come see us in August and beyond and you’re likely to be surprised by what we’re playing now.

Finally, since I talked about Fein Tuned last month, I guess it’s alright to talk a little about myself this month. Relatively late in the month, I scratched a long-term itch by finally sitting in with the band’s good friend, guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jerry Bailey. He hosts an open-mike at the Bharmacy every Wednesday, and so Mary Lou and I dropped in. I took my guitar and sang a couple of songs with him, sang a couple with Mary Lou, and then performed solo in front of people for the first time since – well probably since Nixon was in the White House. Steve and Kathy were kind enough to come out to support us, along with a few Tim and Bob Nationals. The biggest shock was the appearnce of my niece Jennifer, who lives in Austin and arrived without a harbinger to herald her approach. It was fun, and the itch was scratched, but I'm always happiest standing to the left of Steve with Kathy and Mary Lou between us.

See you soon, and have a good summer!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Remember when Summer Vacation Used to Last Forever?

Back when I was in grade school, no matter how busy I was, no matter how many activities I had, I always seemed to have lots of time to just sit around and wonder how long it REALLY was until September. Well, for the Hymel half of The Tim and Bob Show, it’s still kind of that way. While the Feinstein half balances full-time jobs with membership in THREE bands and seemingly manage to keep up with everything else, the oldest member of the group seems to let things slip through his fingers until they are late. And, since that guy [me!] is responsible for the blog … it’s catch-up time! Enough woolgathering; on to The Tim and Bob Show Blog for:

June – The band had only two gigs in June – on successive Saturdays.

On the 5th, we made our very first appearance as performers at the San Antonio Zoo. We were helping a wonderful group named Vitas thank the volunteers who had contributed to their foundation. They basically took over the zoo after hours and, in addition to the entertainment to be had at San Antonio’s wonderful facility, they were going to get some musical diversion from The Tim and Bob Show. We were ensconced in an underground grotto facing the underwater portion of the hippopotamus enclosure. People came in and out throughout the gig and very few people were with us for more than two songs, but it was a fun night for us. Candyce and Tim were most responsible for hiring us, and for that we thank them – and for the wonderful food as well. We’d also like to thank Nancy from the Zoo who helped us with the logistics. Tim and Bob Nationals Mara and Casey came along to help out with setting up and merchandise display and sales. But our most special thanks go out to the hippos. Throughout our gig, the pair turned their backs on us while they cuddled closely and floated serenely. One of them, however, was a little too inspired by our rendition of “Hotel California” and delivered himself of a seemingly never-ending supply of … uh … waste. Everybody is a critic.

On the 12th, we returned to the Olmos Bharmacy. This historic drugstore turned restaurant and bar is fast becoming one of our most favorite venues ever. We sound great in there with a minimum of amplification. This means plenty of four-parters and a reduced equipment load. We also draw a lot of friends there, so we have plenty of smiling faces to play to. This time we also found a most enthusiastic – and insistent – new fan. One of our nation’s federal appeals court judges likes to hang out at The Bharmacy, and he really liked our music. He liked it so much that he insisted on an encore, and then another, and then another. By the time we left, we’d played an hour longer than expected. We were exhausted – me especially so since I’d used up a lot of energy earlier in the day watching the USA-England World Cup match – but it had been a memorable night. There were a ton of Tim and Bob Nationals on hand, including members of The Lavens, as well as the wonderful Elf Louise, and our long-lost friend Lee. Hillary and Brian, and Bethany and Matt were there as were several others, but by the time we had packed up and headed out to the car, all that was left was The Judge and his friends. What a night.

Earlier I mentioned Steve and Kathy’s “other bands.” Attention needs to be paid to those two ensembles as Mary Lou and I are huge fans.

Fein Tuned is a duo that consists of Steve and Kathy. It’s been going for a few months now, and is perfect for those locations where space is a concern. Those of you who enjoy the “Steve and Kathy” portion of a Tim and Bob Show gig, should really check these guys out. Check out their website, or become a fan on facebook.

The Merrie Court Singers have been around for more than a quarter-century, and Kathy and Steve have been with them for most of that time. They specialize in Renaissance and Medieval music and their wonderful voices and their love of harmonies is a great contribution to each performance. The group consists of 6-8 singers who perform a cappella and in appropriate costume. They have TWO repertoires, one suitable for the Christmas holidays, while the other features songs with secular themes both joyful and naughty. Check them out here, or become a fan on facebook.

Well, July will be history before you know it, so I’d better finish the blog for June and get it to Steve for uploading. In the meantime, check out the “next gigs” feature of our main website, enjoy our photographs, and yield to temptation when you look at some of our merchandise.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May Is The Coolest Month

I’ve not exactly been verbose in The Tim and Bob Show blog department in 2010. As a matter of fact, I went from reporting after every gig for the last few years to reporting after every month, and then I wrote only one blog entry after the end of January. Things have been relatively slow for us, and that’s a fact. Last year we played 65 gigs, and 2010 doesn’t look like it’s going to come anywhere near that mark – but that doesn’t mean that things aren’t still exciting for the band. For example, consider the fact that two of our greatest weekends ever occurred in May.

We opened the month with Woofstock 2010. We had been planning for this event for a long time. Everyone was involved in promoting it and, for a change, I was the member that turned out to be the busiest. Since I was selected to represent the band on the board of Pet Pals of Texas, the success of Woofstock had become my biggest focus. This all-day music event was held at John T. Floore Country Store in Helotes, one of the iconic music venues in the state, immortalized by Willie Nelson – who performed there many, many times over the years. As the native Texan in the band, playing at Floore’s was a very exciting prospect for me. Pet Pals scheduled eight musical acts to perform. In addition to The Tim and Bob Show, Floore’s indoor stage featured The Vinyl 45s, Clayton Gardner, and Los Dos Estebans Con Queso. The outdoor stage hosted The SA Blue Cats, The Lavens, The Do Gooders Band, and the irrepressible force of nature known as Sara Hickman.

Alternating between the two stages allowed us to provide NINE HOURS of continuous music. Mary Lou and I were there when the doors opened, and we helped the Pet Pals crew set up and get organized. I did a couple of interviews for local media, and made sure the various acts found their stages. Steve and Kathy represented the band in the church choir in the morning, but showed up in time to watch a few acts prior to our performance at 6 o’clock. All of us had an opportunity to enjoy Floore’s great food, but I stayed away from the beer until our gig was finished. Although all four of us were wiped out at the end of our set, we found ourselves shouting and waving arms and cheering Sara Hickman’s “star set.” What a great writer/guitarist/singer she is, and what a charming, witty, and warm person she is to meet. The state government did well when they named her Texas State Musician for 2010.

By the end of the evening, we were comforted by the fact that Vicki and the Pet Pals folks were happy, the folks who bought tickets were happy, and Floore’s staff and management were happy. A special thanks goes out to all the volunteers who made this happen – with a shout out for the young people from San Antonio’s Hard Rock CafĂ©. They showed a limitless capacity for hard work and good humor.

It’s hard to top an event like Woofstock 2010, but the weekend of May 22-23 will be equally memorable for the band. It all started last August, while The Tim and Bob Show were performing our Artist-in-Residence duties at the Southwest Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute in Oklahoma, Steve and Kathy became reacquainted with Lee and Joan Stringer, former members of the San Antonio church, who had moved to Huntsville, TX about five years ago. The Stringers found a small UU fellowship there, but it wasn’t long before they began to dream of worshipping in a new church that they and their friends could build and then enjoy. By August, 2009, they had only four walls, a roof, and a dirt floor. We told them that when they were ready, we’d be glad to come to Huntsville for a fundraiser and to attend services in their new church building. After several attempts to coordinate everyone’s calendars, a three-hour concert was scheduled for Saturday, May 22. The only people in Huntsville who had ever heard us were the Stringers, so my biggest concern was that we might get a Peggy Lee Reaction from the Huntsville audience – “Is That All There Is?

As it turned out, we didn’t slip into town unknown. The Huntsville Item and The Houstonian [Sam Houston State's school paper] featured two full stories about us and the impending concert, and there was a third entry in their “Best Bet” entertainment column. The photograph that we suggested Lee and Joan use was featured in both articles. If we were surprised by this when we arrived at the Stringers, we were to be stunned by the enthusiasm of the audience at the event, not to mention the warmth of the welcome we received from the church community. Our concert consisted of 42 songs, and each of them was followed by prolonged applause. They sang along, tapped their feet, reacted with joy to the “fun stuff,” reacted thoughtfully to the quieter stuff, and hugged us all when we finished.

Once the music stopped, I was to discover that two of the attendees were Huntsville’s mayor and first lady. Other folks came from as far away as 40 miles, and – best of all – many were non-church members who might have found a new place to worship. By the time we got back to the Stringers and helped them dispose of some wine and snacks, we were all ready for a good night’s sleep. Four hours in a rental van followed by a three-hour concert will do that to you.

Prior to coming down, we had talked to Huntsville’s minister and volunteered our help for his Sunday service. We sent him our list of songs, included the words to our original titles, and told him that we often perform for Sunday services at San Antonio’s First UU Church. We expected to be asked to sing three songs and perhaps play some soft music during moments of reflection. As it turned out, The Tim and Bob Show pretty much WERE the service. By the time the chalice was extinguished and the floor was being cleared for the pot-luck lunch, we had performed another 11 songs.

Once again we were thrilled with the open friendliness and acceptance of the congregation. I know there must be some grouchy, rude people in Huntsville, but we didn’t meet anyone like that the entire weekend. By the time we left the newly minted Thoreau Woods UU Church, we not only had made several new friends, we’d all found our “church away from home.” On the four-plus hour drive back to San Antonio, we kept recalling great moments from the weekend’s performances. It really is good to be in a rock ‘n roll band.