Monday, August 31, 2009

Come Rain or Come Shine

The last full weekend in August proved to be an adventure for The Tim and Bob Show.

On Friday night, we experienced a rarity: our patio gig at Beto's Comida Latina had ... wait for it ... a rain delay. Yep, smack in the middle of the hottest summer on record, and approaching serious drought conditions, our gig on Friday was held up by a good 35 minutes due to rain. Once we started, we had a good evening. All the people who fled the patio during the shower returned to listen to us, and we put in as many four-parters as we possibly could. We had a chance to reacquaint ourselves with Tim and Bob Nationals Colleen and Steve, and we were entertained by some VERY attentive children, most memorably five-year-old Sophia, and her four-year-old friend Sophia. When we asked the "elder" Sophia what sort of music she liked, she stunned us all by saying, "Well, I really like James Taylor!"

The rain kept away for the rest of the night, and we celebrated our somewhat-delayed but very enjoyable return to Beto's by gathering at Steve and Kathy's house for wine, prosciutto, salami, crackers, and some more hits off "the never-ending block of Jarlsberg cheese." We couldn't stay out too late, though, since we had an early afternoon gig near Fredericksburg the very next day.

We met Saturday morning a little before 11:15 underneath IH10 to caravan up to Becker Winery, in Stonewall, near Fredericksburg. This was to be our fourth gig there, and we were looking forward to playing our first "grape stomp." Several Tim and Bob Nationals had promised to make the trip up, so we were looking forward to greeting friends old and new. We set up at the edge of Becker's spacious porch, and began to play at 2, under friendly Texas skies giving no hint whatsoever of rain. Since it was a two-hour gig, we decided NOT to take a break. Being outdoors, we had plenty of room to feature both Steve's Epiphone electric guitar and Kathy's Fender bass. Kathy is getting quite adept on it, and looked cool in her hat and sunglasses. Steve is increasing her repertoire, and we're all getting a lot of enjoyment over how much more full our sound is when she plays.

We met a lot of new friends ... Richard, Ellen, Valerie, Debra, and Kelly, but we rally hit the mother lode with Tim and Bob Nationals who made the trek up just to hear us -- oh, and to drink some fine Becker wine also, of course. Sheri and Roy were there, along with Hillary, Don and Dave, Rolf and Horst, Vicki and Linda, Ruth, and Wild Woman Patrice. The highlights for us were performing "Heartache Tonight" while Vicki did wheelies in the grass, and Patrice and two unknown young ladies who shook their groove thangs to "Mustang Sally." It was a wonderful gig, and tremendous fun for us. Thanks again to Nichole at Becker for making all the arrangements.

On the way home, we decided to stop and have dinner at Mi Casa Tamale, a soon-to-be venue for the band to play. Mary Lou and Kathy were in dire need of a Margarita under the oaks after all that work, and we all needed some of their great food. The band playing on Saturday were The SA Blue Cats, and are fellow-members of The Texas Music Coalition. We encourage all Tim and Bobbers to check these guys out soon. And we also encourage all members of Tim and Bob Nation to keep reading our emails so as not to miss our debut there in September.

In the meantime, check out our website for photographs, upcoming gigs, product purchases and maybe even go to our guest book and TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tim and Bob Join in with Voices of a Grateful Nation

On Sunday, August 23, The Tim and Bob Show joined 1855 of our closest friends standing in a ditch in the middle of the make-believe town of Luckenbach, Texas. Why were we there? Well, there were two basic reasons. The first was to take part in a fundraiser in support of Voices of a Grateful Nation, a group associated with The Welcome Home Project. The second was to take part in breaking a world’s record for the greatest number of guitar pickers ever playing the same song together.

Sunday morning broke clear, blue, and hot. We knew that 104 degree temperatures were forecast for the day, so we set off together with grapes, cherries, Diet Dr. Pepper, and plenty of water. We had already played that weekend, but there was no way we could resist this opportunity to contribute. We’ve done several fundraisers for several worthy causes in the four years the band has been together, but nothing on the scale of this. As we were to learn, the guitar-picking and The Welcome Home Project were a more natural match than one might have expected. The project is very concerned with the plight of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans whose wounds include severe head trauma. One of the treatments most successful in repairing the brain’s control over physical activity has proven to be music. Specifically, many soldiers have enhanced their therapy once they were taught to play guitar.

And so, there we were, on the top of a hill overlooking the ditch. We got there pretty early in the day, and located a spot set aside for members of The Texas Music Coalition. Since we’re their current Artist of the Year, it seemed the natural place for us to set up our chairs and wait for the event to begin. Of course, being in the middle of all those guitars makes it difficult to just sit there, so it didn’t take long for Steve and me to get into a couple of jam sessions.

Soon, “the professionals” in residence mounted the stage on the other side of the ditch from us, and began to entertain. About 15 minutes later than advertised, those of us with the white, numbered tee-shirts on were invited to take our guitars and find someplace to stand in the official area. Counting would soon begin. Naturally, there were delays. But these delays allowed for more jam sessions. During one of them, we heard someone say, “What a great way to spend my 40th birthday!” Steve and I looked at Mary Lou and Kathy, and a split second later, we launched into The Beatles’ “Birthday.”

The delay, we learned, was to ensure that everyone who was arriving would have a chance to get in place and be counted. While we waited, we played several songs, including “London Homesick Blues,” and “El Rancho Grande.” Finally, the final count was given – 1,859 guitarists were about to let ‘er rip. This was a full 56 more pickers than the total attracted by the German group that set the previous record. While they played “Smoke on the Water” for 10+ minutes, we had something entirely different planned.

It had been decided that the group would play TWO songs of 5 minutes duration each. Since we were where we were, the first song we played was “Let’s Go to Luckenbach, Texas.” And, since we were where we were, the second song was “This Land is Your Land.” When we finished the last notes, we lifted our guitars into the air and hollered as loud as we could. The effect was amazing.

As more jam sessions broke out, the four of us decided that we had been baking our brains long enough. We packed up and drove away from dusty, remote, ecstatic Luckenbach with a memory it will be exceedingly difficult to erase from any of our minds.

If you’d like to see some photographs and videos of our adventures, go to The Tim and Bob Show’s Facebook page. If you’d like more information about Voices and The Welcome Home Project click here -- oh, and there’s an “official video” on that site also.

The Return of "The Fifth Beatle."

On Friday, August 21, The Tim and Bob Show made our way to Orderup at The Colonnade. As usual, we helped create a party atmosphere, and the band enjoyed themselves immensely. Judging by the response of Orderup's patrons [and staff], we weren't the only ones.

Tim and Bob Nationals Casey and Karen [more about her in a bit] were there, along with Jim and Pacita. The latter two had heard us play at Beto's and decided to come to Orderup after reading one of our gig alerts. We also made new friends in Amy and Caroline.

With Mary Lou back in full voice and all of us itching to be able to perform at our usual volume, we featured a lot of our trademark four-part harmony melodies. Once again, I think we impressed a lot of people with Steve's arrangement of "Hotel California." But the highlight of the night was our performance of the Tim and Bob original "It Ends; It Begins." Our friend Karen didn't just come out to listen as it turned out. No, she brought her flute with her and, to the delight of everyone -- especially the four of us -- she duplicated her amazing solo that is a feature of our CD. As the applause died down, Steve thanked her referring to her as "our fifth Beatle," and I said, only slightly joking, "You complete us."

It was a great moment on a great night, and we're on the verge of being spoiled by the sheer number of great moments and great nights we've had over the last four years. An even more amazing experience was just around the corner, but that's for the next installment of this blog.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Anna and Her Sisters

On Friday, August 14, the band traveled to Stone Ridge for our second gig at Orderup's newest location. We spent a lot of time during our very quick setup chatting with Janine, who manages this location. She was very busy in her office when we played their before, but on Friday she spent plenty of time making us feel welcome and wanted. Her friendliness and concern over the comfort of anyone who comes through her doors is typical of everyone that we've met that's associated with this small San Antonio chain. What a wonderful bunch of people to work with.

Steve had an idea for how to set up our speaker so as to maximize our vocal and instrumental quality and minimize our volume. Stone Ridge's design creates some challenges for any group that's amplified, even one that only uses electronics for balance and not volume, like us. We had some trouble last time out with our sound bouncing off the ceiling and walls and reverberating behind their counter, but this time there seemed to be no trouble at all.

A good night got considerably better when one of the band's favorite families arrived -- en masse! Anna, who has worked with Kathy, Mary Lou and I in local theater, was home from California to visit her family, and she brought most of them with her. In addition to sisters Julia and Christina, Anna's mom Alice was also there. Making the crowd even bigger was Julia's friend Paige. Alice's husband Mike wasn't able to make it, since he was on rotation in Afghanistan, but everyone who was there seemed to be enjoying themselves.

But this group wasn't the only representative of Tim and Bob Nation. Nationals Jeanna & Sara and Steve & Jackie were also there, and we were able to meet two new enthusiastic friends, Colleen and Steve, who we hope to see again in the near future.

Before we knew it, our two hours were up, and it was time to pack up and go. Once we had loaded everything in our cars, Mary Lou and I shared some of Orderup's magnificent cinnamon ice cream on the drive home. Good friends, good food, good music, and ice cream for dessert. You just can't beat being in a rock 'n roll band.

Where will we be next? Check out our "upcoming gigs" page on our website.

And while your on our website, check out our photographs, leave us a comment on our guestbook, and -- if the spirit moves you -- order a copy of our CD!

See you soon, San Antonio!

SWUUSI Thursday and Friday

On Thursday, we left the resort after breakfast and drove the van into Tulsa. We enjoyed ourselves touring the downtown area and looking at the deco buildings and following Tulsa’s downtown guided walk. After a great lunch at a downtown diner. We then spent most of the afternoon touring the Gilcrease Museum – a must see for those who enjoy Native American artifacts and history, as well as paintings of events and people important to the history of Oklahoma and the American West. The traveling exhibition documented the first diplomatic contact between the British government and the Cherokee Indians – then still residing in Virginia, Carolina, and Georgia. Since much of the activity centered around Williamsburg, VA and London, two areas Mary Lou and I have lived near, we found it especially interesting. Kathy was so taken by the collection of artifacts on the lower level, she brought the rest of us down there to share the trove with us. It was an impressive collection, impressively stored.

Once we had returned to Rainbow Hills, we began preparations for the Thursday night gig. While we were setting up, four members of the Hogwarts group greeted us VERY enthusiastically. It appeared that all of Kathy’s hard work had paid off. Several of the group had, indeed, become Tim and Bob fans. I asked them if any of them had made the Monday concert, and one 12 or 13-year old girl responded, “I was about to come in, but then I saw my grandparents dancing, and I turned around and left.” They weren’t going to leave on this night, however, as they quickly made “seats reserved” signs for themselves, and then spent the hour or so before we performed making suggestions on how we could better promote ourselves and sell more CDs.

As expected, there were not quite as many folks on the Thursday concert. Since this one wasn’t being filmed, however, more of the house lights were up and we could see how much they were enjoying themselves. The evening had two highlights. The first one came when I told the audience about an earlier concert where we had several people “snake dancing” to “Locomotion” – which was the song we were about to perform. The audience took that as a challenge and at least 30 of them joined up in a multi-generational conga line that lasted the entire song. The only drawback to this is that since all four of us were playing, none of us could take a picture of it!

The second highlight occurred, believe it or not, right after I broke a string on my guitar. As Mary Lou and I left the stage to replace the string, Steve broke into “Rocky Raccoon” and Kathy grabbed her bass and started playing along. I was a little stunned to discover later that she didn’t have the tabs for this song with her, and played it all from memory. Kathy definitely deserved the cool bass-player hat that Steve bought for her to perform in. As was true with Monday’s effort, we scheduled as many four-parters, bass-playing songs, and Epiphone songs as we could. Everyone who was there approved.

We ended the concert amid cheers and handshakes and “thank you’s.” We exhorted everyone to come over and buy a CD and a “Take It Outside” bag. And many of them did. All four of us were invited to a party in one of the larger cabins, but Mary Lou and I were wiped out by the time we finished breaking down, and left Steve and Kathy on their own. I don’t know how much they enjoyed the party, but Kathy’s toes were painted a bright color and Steve had a tattoo! Relax, folks, it was a temporary one.

Once Friday morning came around, we were ready to leave for home. We attended the lakeside farewell service, loaded up the van with luggage, musical gear, snacks … and Hillary who would be traveling with us. It was around 9 on Friday evening when we got to Steve and Kathy’s house, and past 10 by the time Mary Lou and I got home.

It had been a remarkable week. The band functioned very professionally while working and had plenty of fun during whatever down time was available to us. Everyone in attendance seemed to approve of what we were doing, and it was certainly nice being able to meet and talk to the folks we had entertained earlier in the week. I don’t know if there’s any group of people anywhere so dedicated to enjoying themselves and sharing the joy with others than are UUs. They were great to us. We hope we did them some good.

Now that we’re back home, we’re maintaining contact with a lot of the folks that we met up there – primarily through Facebook. We’ve heard some nice things from them, and we’ve received a lot of photographs of our concerts. The moment we heard we had been selected for this position, we were excited and sure that we’d have fun. As it turned out, we weren’t wrong. To slightly paraphrase the Hoyt Axton song recorded so many years ago by Three Dog Night, “We’ve never been to heaven, but we’ve been to Oklahoma.”

If you're so inclined, check out our guest book and TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!

SWUUSI Tuesday and Wedesday

On Tuesday, Steve and I completed our song-writing course, while Mary Lou and Kathy visited as much of the nearby wildlife that could be found. They especially enjoyed photographing a wide variety of butterflies, and watching the falcons, hawks, eagles, and owls being fed and exercised. In the afternoon, we splashed around in the pool. Steve and Kathy’s daughter Hillary was there with quite a few Young Adults, one of which could be heard saying, “I didn’t realize it was ‘bring your parents to the pool day’, Hillary.” I hope we didn’t embarrass her too much. That evening, we let the YA’s feed us at their BBQ. They were also sponsoring a dance on the tennis courts, but we decided to give that a miss, as the weather had turned as hot and humid as … as … as San Antonio!

Wednesday was Kathy’s day. Kathy’s a former teacher and took the afternoon Hogwarts mini-concert as her own special chore. We had even added seven new songs to our repertoire specifically for this concert. The Hogwarts group was facilitated by our friend Shari, and they received our hour-long performance well, but somewhat quietly. As a matter of fact, we weren’t sure that we had any effect on them at all. We were about to find out differently – in spades. Wednesday evening was supposed to be divided between watching the camps talent shows [one for adults one for children and youths], and dropping in on the Young Adults “bunkhouse” for some chat and guitar picking. All four of us watched the youth talent show, but only Steve and Kathy watched the adults. I wasn’t feeling all that well and passed on the YA get-together. Unfortunately for Steve and Kathy, the YA’s were so exhausted from the community project that they’d worked on all day, nobody had the energy left for a jam. So Steve and Kathy went to the adult talent show. I’m very sorry I missed it since it included some of the people from our song-writing class performing a song they wrote as their assignment.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Monday at SWUUSI

On Monday, after we’d familiarized ourselves with the camp and met as many folks as we could, Steve and I conducted the first day of our class, while the ladies toured the resort, cameras in hand. We had about 8 or 9 participants with various levels of experience in writing and performing music. We put together a decent overview of the craft and of the wide range of themes, modes, and styles of song. We sent everyone away with what we hoped were helpful hints and new ideas, and exhorted them to return the next day with at least a partially written song. As our group disbanded, Steve and I were delighted to discover that Kathy and Mary Lou had brought with them four Sonic Rt. 44 Diet Cherry Limeades!

That evening we performed the first of our two concerts. We had the main hall and had plenty of time for us to set up with our “sound guy,” Chris. We were able to hang the “The Tim and Bob Show are proud to support Pet Pals of Texas” banner in a very visible spot [where it stayed for the remainder of the camp], as well as tune our various instruments. On this trip there was an additional instrument because Kathy chose SWUUSI to debut her skills as a bass player. Mary Lou and I had no idea that she had gotten an instrument and had been working on several songs until about 10 days before we left for Oklahoma. We had decided that each concert would feature songs that allowed her to do her stuff.

The concert went well. The Young Adults came en masse to listen to Steve. In his many years as a youth counselor, Steve had known and had the privilege of being advisor to many of these young people, and they all seemed to love him. They congregated off to the side of the band, and provided us with a lot of energy. As a matter of fact, there was plenty of energy on all sides from folks under 5 years of age to a couple who had to have been past 80. There was a lot of cheering and a lot of dancing. We often get a few children to dance at our gigs; they haven’t yet learned that it can be embarrassing to enjoy yourself so publicly, you see. But we had people of all ages dancing, and it was a wonderful thing for all of us to experience. Mary Lou got a chance to demonstrate that she’d completely recovered from her thyroid surgery by using her full vocal range, and Steve got plenty of use from his Epiphone electric guitar. And, of course, Kathy played her bass. We had a wonderful time and played about 15 minutes longer than we had expected.

More to come.

Well, We’ve Never Been to Heaven …

Early in the morning of August 2, The Tim and Bob Show began our biggest road trip to date, both in terms of mileage and importance. We set off from Steve and Kathy’s house before breakfast to drive to Western Hill Guest Ranch on the shores of Fort Gibson Lake in northeastern Oklahoma. We were going there to take our posts as “Artists in Residence” for the Southwest Unitarian Universalist Summer Institute, popularly known as SWUUSI. For an entire week, each of us would be acting primarily as members of a band. Our day jobs, our volunteer work, and even my increasing addiction to Fulham Football Club were all taking a very long and very distant back seat to acting as artists. Amazing. As our trip would take 10 hours to complete, however, we’d have plenty of time to acclimatize ourselves to the concept, as well as to do crossword puzzles, snack, search for radio stations playing “our kind of music,” snack, and generally chatter and snack.

It was a hot morning on its way to another all-too-typical South Texas triple digit day when we stopped for breakfast on the north side of Austin. We weren’t really all that hungry by the time we got to West, but our ancient rented minivan [alright, only 3 years old, but with 50,000+ miles] was, so we stopped for gas and, of course, for coffee and kolaches. West is famous for these Central European treats, and justly so. My first kolache was eaten by the time we reached freeway speed! Thankfully, the other three had more restraint than me, so we were able to enjoy these throughout the week. Good stuff.

Once we crossed the Red River, our trip took us through most of Eastern Oklahoma. The farther north we drove, the less the landscape looked like the flat, bleached out, parched oven that we left behind. There were plenty of hills along the way, lots of lakes and rivers, and several shades of green fields, hills, and trees. Steve and I traded off the driving duties, only stopping for gasoline and food along the way. Kathy and Mary Lou kept us hydrated, loaded with snacks [grapes and cherries, yum], and entertained as we drove. We got to our destination with plenty of sunlight remaining in the day.

Western Hills is near Wagoner, OK. The “ranch” facility where we stayed is on a narrow peninsula surrounded on three sides by Fort Gibson Lake. There were lots of tall trees, egrets, and deer. While SWUUSI has been held annually for years, this was the first year for this location, so Mary Lou and I were as much in-the-dark as were Steve and Kathy about the resort’s amenities. We didn’t know whether the accommodations would be spartan, and we weren’t taking any chances. We were pleasantly surprised, then, when we discovered that our adjoining cabins each had a flat-screen TV[!] along with a comfortable queen-sized bed and a nice bathroom. Steve and Kathy’s room had a small refrigerator, a hot plate, and a microwave, so it only seemed fair that we eat and drink in their room and use ours as the repository for everyone’s guitars, music stands, luggage, and miscellaneous band paraphernalia. Had Mary Lou and I experienced a sudden emergency in the night, it would have been easier for us to escape through our partners’ room than through our own front door only a foot or two away!

We knew that the Artist-in-Residence responsibility included two evening concerts, as well as a small private performance for the middle-school aged group called “Hogwarts.” In addition, Steve and I volunteered to teach a two-day course in song-writing. In between there were to be opportunities to swim in the pool – and maybe in the lake? – as well as perusing the nature trails, looking at the horses in the nearby stable, watching the daily feeding of the predatory birds that have found a sanctuary there, and attending other classes. Additionally, we had planned a day “off campus” to visit Tulsa’s historic Deco District, as well was examine the artworks and historical objects in the Gilcrease Museum. We planned for each evening to end with the four of us polishing off a bottle of wine and noshing on cheese, fruit, crackers, and the like. And some time during the week, darn it, Steve and I were determined to find a stretch of grass where we could play catch.

More to come, stay tuned.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Bob and Tim Appear at The Tim and Bob Show!

Really? Well, it had to happen some time. There we were, on the very first day of August, playing our music at Central Market’s fantastic in-store cafĂ©, when Kathy’s cousin Bob came in with a couple of other folks. At the end of the first set, I went up to their table. Kathy introduced me to Bob, and I turned to the other gentleman at the table and asked, “And your name is Tim, right?” I was stunned when he nodded his head. Tim then introduced me to his wife, Cindy. Finally, after four years of performing all over South Texas, there was someone named Tim and Bob at the Tim and Bob Show!

It was already a great night, with Tim and Bob Nationals Vicki, Linda, and Steven O. in attendance, along with our “constant companions” Louie and Cathy. Marsha, and Tim and Cindy’s daughter Lisa showed up as well. We made some other new friends as well with our songs and laid back performance style.

We were all pretty excited to be able to do a full load of four-parters with Mary Lou’s voice having fully recovered from her surgery. What with Mary Lou’s trip to California, Kathy’s theatrical adventures, and then the surgery, it had been a long time since we’ve been able to provide our audiences with the full Tim and Bob experience. Three hours of music zipped by, and then we all sat down and availed ourselves of Central Market’s deli. Delicious! There’s such a variety of food to be had there, along with one-person sized portions of beer and wine. We can’t wait to get back there next month.

Finally, we broke down in a leisurely fashion, and drove back to Steve and Kathy’s house. Mary Lou and I spent the night there, because The Tim and Bob Road Trip to End All Road Trips was about to begin the very next morning.

Stay tuned!