Feb 29, 2008

Band auditions for Mike

Last Monday night Mike Comfort arranged a band audition at his house near the swamp in Chico. I showed up early and set up my PA and guitar rig. In attendance:

  • Brandon Mains, who plays guitar in Mike's existing band, and piano in Magdalena
  • Jonathan Stoyanoff, an accomplished bass player and teacher, moved to Chico two years ago after touring with Galactic
  • Tino Marrufo, a quick (!) study on drums, current band Mute Witness

While Jonathan and I had studied eight of Mike's songs and came prepared with notes, Tino hadn't heard the music at all. Not to worry. Mike just beatboxed the rhythms the way he wanted them, and Tino picked up the songs effortlessly. In fact, we sounded like a band immediately. Something about a bunch of experienced musicians playing together.

We quit after 50 minutes, happy with the results and having not attracted the police. Mike said, "You're hired," passed out his three CDs, and said we'll start playing as soon as we can learn the set.

Don't you love it when life is easy?

Hello, Craig's List calling

Craig's List is wild, wacky and wonderful. I keep my eye on the musical instruments for sale, the community announcements, the free stuff, and the musicians' posts. That's where I saw this ad:
Popular Chico band needs musicians
We have a huge following here and tons of radio airplay. We were nominated "Best New Hot AC Artist" by New Music Weekly in Los Angeles. We have been voted "Best of Chico" and "Best of Sacramento" and have recently entered the Billboard charts (AC radio). Music is original and kind of sounds like Daughtry, 3 Doors Down. Players with strong backing vox are a plus. Please be no less than Pro at what you do. This band does not take up too much time at the moment but our gigs are packed and super fun!

Turns out this is Mike Comfort, and we've heard five or more of his songs in regular rotation on the local rock stations over the past few years. Before his solo career, now three albums old, he was in Thirst. I quickly sent my resume, and an audition was scheduled.

He came over on a Monday to play. I had learned three of his songs with high-pitched harmonies to sing, right at the end of my normal range, and I'm rusty by a few months. But I was very comfortable when we played because the music is easy. We played everything though, first time, no problem.

So Mike invited me to round two, the band rehearsal the next Monday. Mike had also invited Jonathan Stoyanoff, an AMAZING (fretless) funk jazz player. I played with him once at my house when I was auditioning him for Sonopath. (We played a round of table tennis and he amazed me by totally wiping me out.) And the drummer is another pro, Tino Marrufo, I've seen in musical theater bands. This will, I tell you, be a great band.

Feb 28, 2008


Life is busy! And I can drink only so much coffee. So I'm abandoning my idea of presenting this blog in a linear fashion, and just jumping in. Over the next two months, I will post several times each week, filling in my musical story, and detailing progress in my new gig. Look forward to embarrassing photos, audio and video of teen music, college life, 90s hair band music, and musical theater. The short story is I have joined Mike Comfort's band as lead guitarist and backup singer, and hope to begin playing on stage in April. 3...2...1...

Feb 26, 2008


I took piano lessons from ages 8 to 13. I didn't like to practice much. And I didn't have much interest in music theory, either, nor sight reading. But I did have a natural ear for music, and could play very well from memory (my daughter Bess has inherited this from me). I even composed an award-winning, four hands, two pianos piece called Balrog's Lair. (It helps to have a concert pianist uncle advising you.) As all students do, I learned The Entertainer, Für Elise, Moonlight Sonata, and so on. Also some Genesis and other pop songs, notably "You Light Up My Life." Now you know my dark secret.

My folks persevered through five years of lessons, but eventually let me quit. (Later, in 1985, I called from college to thank them for the lessons—I was having a blast playing in a band. See First Stage, to come.) Then, as a junior in high school, I bought a Yamaha acoustic and discovered I was a guitarist. Why can't they tell you this from the start? I quickly picked up the basic chords, and started multitrack recording by bouncing from cassette to cassette using the cheapest of RadioShack mics. Something else they fail to tell you early is that you can become addicted to instruments and gear and end up spending far too much money on gear for the rest of your life.