Monday, June 30, 2008

Seafood and Sounds

The Tim and Bob Show finished a very busy month of June with our monthly Saturday night gig at Water Street Oyster Bar. We had a great time and enjoyed applause not only from those seated in the loft with us, but those downstairs as well.

We debuted two songs -- a rendition of "Annie's Song" that features Kathy's lead vocals, my harmony, and Steve's finger picking -- and the Tim and Bob original "It Ends; It Begins." This song gives Kathy the opportunity to go "front and center" with the group. We think it's going to be a fan favorite on our fall-release CD. Steve also took advantage of the expanded performing space at Water Street to bring his Taylor koa guitar in addition to his usual Taylor axe. He broke it out for Dan Fogelberg's "Longer" -- performed with Kathy -- and it was a highlight of the show.

Well, June is almost history, and a July that includes two weekend road trips, three gigs, and FIVE recording sessions is about to begin. Where are we playing and when? Check your in-box for "gig-alert emails." Don't get them? Then sign up at our guestbook, or just click here. And, as always, let us know what you think!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Indoors! Outdoors! Who Cares?

Indeed, who cares? The band is all back together. Yes, for the first time in a few months, The (Whole) Tim and Bob Show was back performing for San Antonio audiences at Order Up at the Colonnade [indoors] and at Fralo's Art of Pizza [outdoors]. We had a great time, and so did the folks who showed up.

Friday night at Order Up at the Colonnade started off at a little less than full strength, however, as Steve discovered that his music, his tuner, and his guitar strap were all still sitting in a bag in their house. Kathy took off for home to retrieve the bag while Steve and I decided to do a quick change of playing order. Steve rummaged through my music book and retrieved a half-dozen songs he could do without page print. He was right, also. All the errors made on The Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling" were committed by the guy with the lyrics and chords right in front of him – me! Kathy soon returned and we leapt into our regular gig featuring FIVE four-part and two three-part songs. It was great to hear our full sound again.

There were several Tim and Bob Nationals who showed up for the gig, including Bill and Mary, Pam, Casey, The Other Don, Sarah, Peggy, Benji (and friend), and a new addition [courtesy of the FulhamUSA website] Matt, and his parents Frank and Nancy. They all seemed to have a good time, along with other patrons. I know we did too.

And then, on Sunday, it was time to go outdoors again to the place where all this insanity began – Fralo's Art of Pizza. It was hot and humid, but still cooler then pretty much any place else in the county, and we played for all we were worth. We began the gig around 7 with an original song that was inspired by Fralo's: "South Texas Saturday Night" [yes, we know it was Sunday], and finished up around 9:30 30 - but not before we brought a little stage choreography to our performance. We were just finishing up "Raccoon Rumble-seat" and, for some reason, my foot kept missing the pedal I needed to step on in order to amplify my short almost-end-of-song riff. I had completely given up on locating it, when I noticed Steve scuttling sideways across the stage like a mad grinning land crab. He stepped on my pedal for me and then zipped back into his position for his last scorching lead solo. As amazing as it was from my perspective, it must have looked stunning from the patio!

Tim and Bob-ites Hillary, Marcelo, Bethany, Matt, Karen, and Sam were there, and we met some new folks – including a couple of lively ladies (Jo and her sister) who invited us out to play in the Hill Country NEXT summer. We hope we'll all be able to do that. In the meantime, look for our next gigs elsewhere on this site, or sign up for automated gig alerts.

See you soon and TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday the 13th -- The Gig!

Well, it was yet another sweltering evening in South Texas last night, but The Tim and Bob Show -- or what was left of us -- were at Beto's Comida Latina doing our best to make everyone's dinner time just a little more pleasurable.

When Steve and I got there to set up, there was no-one on the patio. There were also few folks in the restaurant proper. By the time we started, though, there were several tables filled and, throughout the night, we had a nice responsive [and generous] group to play for. We even did a couple of requests from the audience.

Tim and Bob Nationals Ellen and Deedy were there, along with Deedy's friend Paige. We met some new friends also, most notably Anita and Scott. We passed out a few cards and chatted about our website, but we really missed the networking that "the girls" do at our gigs. We also missed their voices, percussion, and, uh, THEM!

With BOTH Mary Lou and Kathy out of town, Steve and I had to draw on some of our solo material to provide the listeners with as much variety as possible while still giving us an opportunity to sit down now and again. We finally scratched an itch and, with the exception of one "Steve Alone" song, and an audience request, the title of every song in the second set began with the letter "L."

The biggest hit of the night was our latest rocker, "South Texas Saturday Night." We've only been playing this in public for about a month now, but we really appreciate the response we've been getting. We should get it recorded soon along with the other songs that will be featured on our CD.

Did you miss the gig? Well, no problemo. The Tim and Bob Show continues to gig all over San Antonio. We still have gigs scheduled for the 20th, 22nd, and 28th. If you'd like to get a personal invitation to those gigs and all the others, motorate over to our guestbook page and sign up for our gig alerts!

See you around SA!

Friday, June 13, 2008

FOURTH SESSION, June 12, 2008

Well, after twelve hours in the Mandala Music studios, you’d figure that Steve and I were getting halfway good at the routine – standing there while Bett and Jöel set up mikes and boards, turn the air conditioning on and off, work alone while wearing headsets – good enough to be able to do it on our own without Kathy or Mary Lou’s help. I guess you’d be right, but it sure was different for the two of us last night – hopefully the LAST time we’ll have to go into the studio alone.

It continues to be hot here in South Texas – triple-digit highs coming to visit on Saturday and, like a quirky aunt you’d rather talk to on the phone than in person, staying around for days on end. The fairly constant breeze of the last week or so keeps the air a bit cleaner, but also keeps everything hot and dry. As I followed Steve down IH10 in the blazing sunshine, I was looking forward to the cool, cave-like atmosphere of the studio.

Since it was to be the just two of us, Steve and I decided to record two songs that feature only our voices. We chose “Decisions” – the second song we wrote together – and “Looking Back.” Both songs are somewhat reflective in nature, and each tells a bit of a story. “Decisions” is all about someone for whom life is a sort of movie to be observed rather than a play in which he has a part. Rather than trying to understand what is happening around him and what he should do about it, the singer’s only dilemma is “which guitar should I play.” The song changes tempo at several places. This isn’t unusual for songs performed by The Tim and Bob Show. What IS unusual is that, this time, it’s by design!

Steve laid down the base guitar track on the koa. This was the first song in which he strummed this particular guitar, and Jöel will have some fun emphasizing the sound of this amazing instrument on the finger-picking while tamping it down during the strumming. As we’ve mentioned before the deep full sound of the koa fills the room. I followed with my own guitar track and then we did the vocals. Steve has the lead on this song and, while singing along, I discovered that I had no idea of the vocal rhythm he uses on those lines in which I don’t sing. Oh well, we’ve only been performing this for about 18 months! Several false starts and “cleanups” later, and we had the song done except for the possibility of a bit of guitar "dressing". It took only about 95 minutes from first note to last.

Next up was “Looking Back.” Like “Decisions” this was a song in which Steve wrote the melody to lyrics I had already delivered to him. This is the opposite to songs like “It Ends; It Begins” and “Light In the Night” in which I wrote lyrics to fit a melody Steve had written earlier. “Looking Back” is also introspective in nature, and deals with a mature man who is living a comfortable, happy life, but can’t quite get over the difference between his present reality and the way he envisioned his life turning out when he was young. The danger in this sort of self-reflection is summed up in the song’s punch line, “you can’t see where you’re going / when you’re looking back.” As is the case with “Decisions,” we don’t expect that this will be anyone’s first-time favorite recording on the CD. We do, however, think that both these songs will resonate with listeners on their fourth or fifth playing – especially those listeners who are “mature.”

Steve had a new idea about recording this song, dealing with the way the first two lines of the chorus begin. This idea was so new that he didn’t mention it to me two hours earlier when we were having dinner! It took a good 10 minutes for him to explain what he had in mind so that my feeble brain could grasp it. No surprise to me that it was a great idea. Steve switched to his “strumming and lead” Taylor 814ce that he plays during our gigs. Once again, Steve has the lead vocals on this song, so we did the same sequence of Steve’s guitar followed by mine, and Steve’s vocals followed by mine. Although there’ll be some “dressing” to come on this one before it becomes “ready for prime time,” it is finished for a time.

LESSONS LEARNED: Man, it is LONELY in there when you’re not the one on the mike! Thank goodness Steve and Kathy’s daughter Bethany dropped by for a short visit. Steve and I are confident that we did a good job, but we missed the input from Kathy and continue to miss ML’s contributions. This should be the LAST time any of us has to miss a recording session. Speaking of which, we don’t go back into the studio again until the 24th of June. We have four sessions scheduled for July, and it’s our hope to have everything recorded and almost ready for pressing by then. We’re also working on ancillary issues – distribution, CD art, pressing, publicity, tax issues, and finding a venue for a CD release party – not to mention a full range of gigs every month through the end of November.

Man, this is tiring stuff; but boy is it FUN!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Mini-Road Trip -- with CRAWFISH!!

The Tim and Bob Show celebrated a rare gig-less weekend by driving from San Antonio to Houston Saturday morning to attend the almost annual Acoustic Guitar Forum Guitar Show, Jam Session, and food fest at the Lake Houston Marina. This get-together is a very important event for The Tim and Bob Show and we hate to miss it. Somehow, though, we've not made it to Houston yet with the full group. This time, Mary Lou was missing [in California still]. Next time, darn it, it'll be all of us.

We (Don [aka DonBob], Steve [aka phuufme], and Steve's wife Kathy) set off a little after 0900 to the rare accompaniment of a light drizzle -- we haven't had any real rain since mid-May! The high gasoline prices and the hour of the day allowed for relatively light traffic as we cruised east on IH10 listening to the radio and doing the NYT Sunday crossword! With a brief stop at Columbus for the most expensive gasoline we saw all day [$3.99 for regular unleaded], we got to the Marina fairly close to 1 o'clock. Mr. & Mrs. Guitarman [also known as Joe and Vicky] were already there along with Mo's Art [Mo] and Antonio Salieri [Chris]. Larry H from Houston [uh, Larry H from Houston] arrived shortly afterwards. Joe Gallego and Joe and Vicky's son Shaun-Bob [it's a long story] were also there along with some friends of theirs whose names escape me.

The cooking was well underway when we unloaded our car and helped get the patio is shape for the more than 30 people who said they hoped to attend. Several guitars were lined up in their cases, but nothing was ready to be played until everything was squared away. The corn-on the cob, potatoes [spicy and regular], crawfish, and BBQ chicken were already well on their way to ready before the first guitar cases were opened.

Mo's music stand was already set up, when Kathy, Steve, and I started setting ours up. Joe had provided two microphones and two speakers with a primo mixing board. As was the case last year, he asked Steve and I to get the ball rolling on the PA and we agreed. After playing a couple of songs, one of the listeners on the non-AGF side of the marina came over and dropped $10 on Kathy. Later on, obviously still pleased by the music we were making, he brought us some hot dogs!

As was the case last year, there was absolutely nothing in the way of a rush to replace us on "the bandstand," even though Kathy joined us for a couple of numbers. Soon, we abandoned the microphones to take part in the real fun of the day. Mo had brought several guitars and generously let me play her Taylor 414 [what a sweet, true high-to-low sound that guitar makes], as well as her Alvarez 12-string and its 6-string twin brother. Steve, meanwhile, introduced Mo to his koa. I think there was some love there. Mo used the koa to play and sing a song that's a long-time favorite of mine, "Streets of London." Unable to resist, I hopped over and provided her a harmony that I hoped she enjoyed.

By this time, a friendly looking gentleman dropped by, guitar in hand. He introduced himself as Hondo [Rob] and we all nearly fainted. Hondo is the AGF's version of Godot. At most of these get-togethers we all look for him and some folks even doubt his existence. Well, I'm here to tell you that he's here, he can play more than a little bit, and he's got a great voice. The jam had begun, and even slopped over into the microphones again where we got Larry H and Mo to join us for some tunes.

And then the food was ready. Man, what a feast!

After we'd all stuffed ourselves pretty good for about 45 minutes or so, we assembled ourselves in sort of a lumpy circle. In the absence of other songbooks, Steve and I took out our Tim and Bob repertoire and hunted for rockers. Shortly after we started, Kego [Keith] and his lovely lady Lrgo [Lisa] showed up. Shortly after he sat down Kego blew everyone away with some of the cleanest, smoothest, and most economical leads anyone has heard for a long time, played first on a beautiful Martin and later on his #48!. Lrgo brought her bag of acoustic percussion instruments to join those that Kathy brought from San Antonio, and each song was "everyone participate."

My fingers gave out first, and finally we started to realize that we had a long drive back to SA, and that none of us is as young as we like to act. So, around a quarter to six, we said our good-byes to all the pickers and singers and cooks and percussionists and eaters, loaded up Steve's Mazda 3, and headed back to San Antonio.

It was a little before 10 when we arrived back at Steve and Kathy's, and everyone was wiped out. It was a great day, though, and the soreness in my four left fingertips as I type this is proof enough that I had a ball. If there's a better way to spend a late Spring afternoon than playing guitars with new friends and old, I haven't heard of it. Thanks to our gracious hosts. Thanks to our fellow pickers. Thanks for the memory of great food, great music, great conversation, and great good will.

Take a look at the pics HERE.

We hope to see y'all next year!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

THIRD SESSION: June 2, 2008

Well, May has turned to June, but it’s still mid-July according to the thermometer. For the second straight time, my “outside temperature” reading was 100 as I drove down I10 to Mandala Music. It had been a full weekend for The Tim and Bob Show. We had very enjoyable, but demanding, gigs Friday and Saturday night, and both Steve and I had some aches and pains. Steve’s left hand felt a bit better, but I was still suffering from the neck and shoulder stiffness and pain that’s been plaguing me on and off for a week or so. I bombed myself with some naproxen before I left home. It had the effect of lessening the pain, and it had the added benefit of making the traffic signal lights much more interesting.

Of more concern to both Steve and me was the fact that Kathy was suffering from some vertigo-like symptoms – enough of a concern for Steve to drive back to his house to collect Kathy rather than having her join us at the studio. The good news was that we all got to the studio together. The bad news was that none of us was really in top shape, and that the one of us who felt the most poorly was the one that the third session was “all about.”

When Steve and I began to discuss the idea of a CD of original songs, we quickly realized that we had to write “for the girls.” Our band is very much a four-person group, and we depend on Mary Lou and Kathy to give the band more variety in pitch, style, genre, etc. It would make no sense to make a CD that didn’t feature the two female members of the band, and it would not be The Tim and Bob Show if those women didn’t take their turn at the forefront. So Steve and I wrote one four-parter featuring the women taking the lead, as well as a song for Kathy to sing and one for Mary Lou to sing. With Mary Lou still in California – COME BACK SOON; ALL IS FORGIVEN! – the third session was all about getting the most out of Kathy.

The first song we worked on was “It Ends; It Begins.” I’m not sure how to describe the style of the song, but Steve and I wanted something simple and haunting, something that could let Kathy feature what she calls her “little girl voice.” The genesis of the melody is rather interesting. Steve was just finger-picking a random chord change – an E minor and B minor run with varying bass lines – and I chimed in with steady high E minor and B minor barre chords. It made an interesting sound. One of the women said, “That sounds cool. What is it?” When we said it wasn’t anything, we were instructed that we needed to write a song with those chords. Well, we know how to do what we’re told. Steve got the melody down in short order, and I finished the lyrics not long after. The song has been ready to take before a live audience for almost two months, but because of Kathy’s theater commitments and Mary Lou’s “nursing” commitments, we’ve never performed it live.

Steve took the initial track, laying down the finger-picking on the beautiful-sounding koa, this time using the "click". I added a second guitar track after several false starts. Once we had the basics down, Kathy laid down the lead vocal. Although it sounded very good, we suggested that she take another, and there she hit gold. All it took then was for Steve and I to do the minimal backing vocals we do and the track was set – except, of course, for Mary Lou’s backing vocal. We also extended the guitar interlude a couple of extra measures in hopes that our friend Karen Emerson could add a flute solo there. This song was a lot of work to get through, but I think it’s going to be a highlight of our CD.

With yet another ¾ finished track completed, we plunged ahead with “Take It Like a Man.” This is a sort of country rocker. It’s the first song that Steve and I wrote with neither of us in mind for the lead. The song is about how men need to shut up every once in a while and listen to the women in their lives. Naturally, the girls loved the concept. We’ve been performing it for several months now, and audiences seem to like it also. This four-part song features vocals by both Kathy and Mary Lou, with Steve and I only repeating the title at appropriate moments. It’s fun in performing but, as is the case with much of our material, there’s tempo changes that rely on visual cues. There’s a vocal tag at the end – Kathy’s voice alone – that I “dress” with some flat picking. This was a little hard to get down “one track at a time” but we managed. We like the sound of it. All we need to do with this one, sound familiar?, is to get Mary Lou home and into the studio.

At this point, we had about 35 minutes of studio time left, and Steve suggested that we should record our tune called “Tim and Bob Love Wait Staff.” This is a ditty that I dashed off one afternoon. We were trying to figure out an original way to remind patrons that their wait staff need to be remembered while also slyly pointing out the tip jar in front of the bandstand. It’s pretty goofy, but for some reason it gets applause from the wait staff everywhere we play it. It’s NOT going to appear on the CD, but Steve hopes to upload it to the site later in the week.

LESSONS LEARNED: Well, once again we benefited from how well Kathy reads Steve’s performance and how well Steve reads Kathy’s. They are very positively critical of each other’s work, and it has been great for us in live performing, and is doing very well for us in the studio. There’s a way to tell your spouse, “that sucks; do it again” and have the response be, “okay; I’ll do another take.” I know there is, because they do it. If there’s any other lesson to be learned from last night, it’s that there’s a price to be paid for doing a two-gig weekend followed by a four-hour recording session early the following week. We know because we’ve done it two weeks in a row now. The oppressive heat, and the lack of rain to clear the air we breathe have also contributed to us feeling “a little bit off,” but time, tide, and rock ‘n roll wait for no man or woman. Steve and I will be back in the studio on the 12th – this time without Mary Lou OR Kathy.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Of Grande Dames and Dancing Children

It was another full weekend of performances for The Tim and Bob Show as we returned to two of our favorite places to play.

On Friday we played at Order Up in the Colonnade again. I say again because we'd played there only six days previously. We had some young families in attendance early on, and they seemed really into what we were doing. It was a great night for us. People were listening, and Steve and I were feeling great. Kathy was in outstanding voice, and fun was the rule of the evening. Tim and Bob Nationals Hillary, Marcelo, Sam, Karen, The Other Don, Dave, and Sarah graced ourselves, along with our good friends Peggy and Pam. Pam is a recent enlistee in The Tim and Bob Army, but she's already one of our most enthusiastic fans. The two hours raced by. What a fun place to spend time!

The next night found us in Lincoln Heights at Water Street Oyster Bar on Broadway. This is our only regular Saturday gig and we always enjoy the nightclub-like intimacy of their loft. We started playing to a full house and, around 8:30 were visited by two young families in town for a visit. They had eaten downstairs and their children wanted to get closer to the music. And then they began dancing. All of us love it when kids get up and dance at our gigs. If you don't believe that, you really need to check out the photo section of our WEBSITE. You'll see these kids too, as Kathy had the camera busy. Oh, and if you missed this gig, you might have missed the best vocalizing by Kathy in a long time. She was smokin'!

There were no fully paid up members of Tim and Bob Nation at this gig, but we made a lot of new friends among Water Street's generous and fun-loving clientele. We look forward to our next gig there.

Well, we're exhausted from all this work, but we'll be back in the studio Monday night, laying down track for our new CD that we hope to have on sale in late fall.