Thursday, November 20, 2008

Joseph Pero, Superstar

When I first went to DCA as a member of the 2001 Renegades Minicorps, we were all very eager to check out the performing groups, most of which we had never seen.

One of our very favorite groups was the Empire Statesmen, from Rochester NY. The group specializes in entertaining the audience to within an inch of their lives, and they were a direct influence and inspiration for the Renegades.

The highlight of the corps was their main soloist, an impossible good player named Joey Pero. At the time, I think he was 19 or 20, and he blew us all away with his extreme high range, combined with the sensitivity of a much more seasoned performer.

Over the years, I got to know Joey, and hired him to be part of CorpsImpact, a professional drum corps that I put together with producer Frank Boehm. His talent has grown over the years, and he is on the verge of putting out an album that is a must buy for any and all trumpet fans.

You can check out a preview on Joey’s MySpace page. You won’t be disappointed.

Way to go, Joey!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Digital Copy

I buy too many DVDs. This we know.

Recently, I have noticed that the DVD releases of major motion pictures come with a Digital Copy disk. Got one with Hulk and now Wall•E.

This disc allows you to download a copy onto a hard drive. All I did was pop the Wall•E disc in the drive and iTunes opened to a special page. I entered the code that was included in the box and off we went.

The movie quickly copied over to my hard drive and to the Apple TV. It looks great and sounds even better.

Way to go, Hollywood. You got one right.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Dream House

As I get older, I find that I have a deep-seated desire to build my own home in the country. I call it my Edifice Complex. Of course, the economy has not been at all cooperative, so it may be tough to pull off.

But, I figure if I write about it, it stands a better chance of coming true.

The house above is in Bali. The New York Times featured a slide show of pictures of this amazing home.

My place would start with location. The place must have Redwood trees. That is non-negotiable. It would be great to have water and rocks as well.

As far as the architecture, I favor the work of James Cutler. He designed the home of Bill Gates, as well as a number of other places in the Northwest. His work uses a lot of wood and lets in a great deal of light. Cutler is also a master of placement - where the house sits on the lot.

Unfortunately, he might be outside my financial reach. There has been amazing progress in the area of prefab homes. I have seen a number of articles and examples. Perhaps I will try for one of them.

These homes offer all the things I am looking for - open floor plan, lots of windows and wood, and expansion possibilities. I would also love to convert a firehouse or an old bank building - the brick wall and high ceiling look is a favorite of mine. They can be hard to find, though.

What do you think?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Adventures in Tenor Horn, Part II

Al Perkins and I were recording the Mellocast last week, and we needed a topic. So we spent some time talking about my recent experiences with the Tenor Horn. You can listen to the podcast (and many others of interest to mid-voice players) at

On a related topic, I asked Tony Clements, the conductor of the Silicon Valley Brass Band, if I could audition to play a solo with the group. He agreed, so I went to Al for advice. He sent me a number of options, and I have selected Demelza as the song I will prepare.

It is a beautiful piece. The recording I have is by Sheona White, who is evidently the Tiger Woods of the Tenor Horn. Pretty intimidating to hear her play the tune, but I am going to give it a shot.

I have the solo part, and have been playing through it to get used to the tune and phrasing. In addition, I have a recording that I have been listening to over and over to get the sound of it into my head. Once the tune is in my head, lips and fingers, I will start to shape it into something I can play for Tony.

It's nice to have a goal to work towards. I will play this tune at least twice a day for a few weeks and see how it goes. The piece is not too difficult technically, but it has to be played with great feeling and flawless intonation (no small feat on a Tenor Horn).

Here is the solo part, if you would like to take a look (click to enlarge):

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Canine Freestyle Video

Vinyl would be great at this, but, of course,
he can't be bothered.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bands of America

I'll try anything (at least) once. On a quiet weekend, I might go to a dog show, drive a road I have never explored, or just eat at a new restaurant.

This weekend, I am going to attend the Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis. The event is being held at the new home of Drum Corps International, Lucas Oil Stadium.

I have seen videos of some of the bands, and they rival drum corps in terms of show design. Execution is not in the same league, but I am eager to see how the kids will do.

I will also get a chance to meet up with some of my Mellophone buddies from Star United. Evidently they are having a banquet that weekend.

I may have to crash the party.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Friend - Terri Ducay

I have a number of close friends, but my closest friend is Terri Ducay. We first met while working together at Claris. She led the interaction design department, and I was in product marketing.

I was struck by her beauty right away, so I got to know her immediately.

Over time I grew to appreciate just how smart and how creative she is. We have had many adventures -- a month in Italy, buying a house in Palo Alto, and finally, the dog.

Or should I say dogs? To say the woman likes dogs is like saying that Paris Hilton likes attention. Terri is always there to help the "little guys" as she calls them. Throughout the years, there have been a parade of animals come through our (and now my) house.

I learned many things from Terri. Some of the most important things -- don’t sweat the small stuff, life is what you make it and do it now.

When Terri decides to do something, it gets done. She became interested in emerging markets, so that’s what she does. In the last year, Terri has traveled to China more than once, the Philippines, India twice, and Africa.

And at the same time, she has built herself a new house in Pasadena.

And I haven't even mentioned the fact that she designed the Compact Disc logo. Yes, the one that is printed on every CD and CD case in the world. There must be 100 billion of them. And when I found out about it, her response was, "do you think that would be interesting to people?"

Yes, Terri, VERY interesting.

Terry Ducay, wonder woman.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

How to recruit Mellophone players.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Adventures in Tenor Horn

In August, I was invited to join a new group – the Silicon Valley Brass Band. Because I know and trust the conductor, Tony Clements, and many great people were signing on to play, I said yes. My part assignment was Solo Tenor Horn.

What’s a Tenor Horn, you ask?

Excellent question. It is kind of like a Mellophone, pitched a tone lower (in Eb). Oh, and you have to use a big mouthpiece. That has proven to be the most difficult part of the whole experience. But I am getting ahead of myself.

My Mellocasting partner in crime, Al Perkins, knows a great deal about the Tenor Horn. He is always bragging about his beautiful Besson. I used to think it was some kind of oxymoron, until I did a little research and found out that most of the top Tenor Hornists play on the Besson Sovereign. Which costs $3500.

Now, I want to play on the best gear possible, but shelling out that kind of money for an instrument I had never played in a group that had yet to have its first rehearsal seemed a bit, well, insane.

So I talked to Al about it while we were working on a Mellocast. He offered to lend me his horn. Talk about generous – I have never even met the man face to face and he is offering to let me use his baby! What a guy.

Actually getting the horn turned out to be like an episode of Mission Impossible. My friend Terri was taking a trip to New York, and turns out she was staying just a few blocks from Al’s place of business. They arranged a drop, and she brought the horn to California.

Southern California.

I managed to get it from her and started the search for a mouthpiece. My buddy Eric at Peninsula Music hooked me up with a Dennis Wick 5 and I was good to go.

We started rehearsing after Labor Day, and it was immediately obvious that this new horn was not like a French Horn. Or a Mellophone. Or a Trumpet. Or anything else I had ever played. Notes that were in tune on my Horn, were totally out on the Tenor.

After a few rough rehearsals, it started to click. And, at our first concert this week, it all came together. I was able to get a decent sound out of the horn and to play (mostly) in tune. Now I am even starting to enjoy the instrument. And I am very much enjoying the group and my great section. Paul Dhuse and Dan Smith are doing great. They both switched over, like me.

So, I now play French Horn on Monday night, Tenor Horn on Tuesday night, and soon I will add Mellophone on Thursday night when the Renegades' Minicorps starts up. All on different mouthpieces. All in great groups.

I am a lucky guy.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Waiting Game

We all know the economy is sucking. My 401k is on life support, my house is worth less than what I paid for it, and now, my company is laying off.

I heard two weeks ago that my team was being moved into a new organization and that we all had to interview for our jobs. Ok, a bit different, but I prepared and enjoyed a nice chat with the new VP and the other panelists.

Last week, our CEO announced that 4.5% of the company would be laid off. That’s a significant number of people when you company is close to 18,000. Rumor has it that we could hear as soon as tomorrow (Nov 6).

So now, we wait.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Concert Sunday, November 9th at 2pm

The Ohlone Wind Orchestra presents a Fall concert featuring Brenda Tom, piano, performing George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, as well as George Roumanis' setting of Shenandoah, Eric Leidzen's transcription of the Finale from Dvorak's New World Symphony, and other favorites. The group will also perform Overture in Bb by Giannini, David Holsinger's Liturgical Dances and Incantation and Dance by John Barnes Chance.

The Ohlone Wind Orchestra (OWO), "California's Premier Windband," is one of the leading professional quality wind bands in the United States today. Under the direction of Tony Clements, the band is comprised of 50 woodwind, brass and percussion players. The band makes its home in one of the West's greatest college concert halls, the Smith Center for the Performing Arts. The orchestra has four highly acclaimed CD's on the Johnson Digital Audio label, including their latest release, "Vaxuosity," featuring legendary trumpeter Mike Vax.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Robotic Flautist

Saw this video on Wired. I was pretty annoyed at first - the last thing we need is a way to put even more musicians out of work. But it is an excellent proof of concept. What do you think? Check it out: