Monday, September 7, 2009

Epic Roadtrip ’09: All Things Considered

When I started my Big Boy blog the intention was to discuss poetry and music, but I decided that the epicness of my July roadtrip required some coverage. At the time I did not realize it would take me a month and a half to make that happen. As a result, this post may be a little lackluster, but I need to finish what I started. Really only two things that need to be addressed here: 1) the Saab 2) my disillusionment.

I have been educated by a few sources that blogging is also about pictures. To be honest, I had never intended on including photos in this thing. My blog is supposed to be about writing and music, both of which should create the images for you…word pictures. However, the request was made for shots of Saaby, so here she is, 2003 9-3 Turbo Convertible.

It is funny the reaction people have when they find out I drive a Saab. The name evokes a unique response, like it is a fancy car or something. Not to diminish Saaby’s beauty, but she was purchased used and for under $15,000. I am not one of those guys that would drop $25,000 to $45,000 on a car. I just cannot do it. Being in a band has had me driving vans for the last 6 or 7 years, and I wanted a car that I wanted. While most high-schoolers were ogling Trans-Ams and Mustangs, I was secretly fascinated with the bulbous 80’s Saabs, and I have always wanted a convertible. So, when gas was $4 a gallon and filling up my Ford E150 Conversion Van was taking a sizeable bite out of my wallet, I broke down and got what I always wanted. Ideally I would have got something from the mid-80’s, but my inability to fix cars and my desire to have reliable transportation landed me on my 2003. That being said, I have since sold the conversion van because I was bandless, but I am on the cusp of having a solidified project and will probably trade the Saaby in on a nice Honda Odyssey…function before form for me, should that happen, I will let you all know.

For those that do not know my story, I grew up singing in choir. While I was in the Navy my pen developed, and I performed relentlessly at poetry open mics in the San Diego area. In 1996 picked up the guitar and merged my passions. Since 1996 I have been performing as a singer/songwriter and have had several bands, Eric Ketzer experiment (EKe, 2002-2005), Whiskey Daydream (2005-2007), Pawnshop Testimonies (2007-current; it is more of a recording project now with my friend Rob Woerther), the Frontline (2007-2008), and now I have a project in the works called So Much Closer, which is kind of EKe-esque with a thick dose of Indy rock thrown in. Although I have done regional touring, released 5 independent CDs, participated in lots of battles of the bands, etc., I have never been close to a deal. To my knowledge a record label exec has never even come to a show…I’ve just never been in that position. To be honest, I’ve never even had a good draw, so why would they. I mean there were a few packed CD release parties, but not a consistent draw at local venues. I’ve had so many internal arguments about this…was I playing out too much…was I in the wrong city…maybe I am just horrible and I had too many yes people around me telling me I was good so I believed them…whatever the case, my lack of experience has created a sense of disillusionment. In my eyes, when you sign a deal, that is it, tour busses and packed venues. For the Damnwells, this was not the case.

The Damnwells had signed to a label, which subsequently dropped them, but they had distribution, they had a way to reach a musician in Missouri that was hungry for a fresh sound and amazing lyrics. I am completely in awe of this band, so I assumed the rest of the world was too. Unfortunately, the rest of the world seems to be neglecting them. The first night we saw them play was in Nashville at a place called the Basement. I cannot remember the last time I played a club that small. I mean it literally was a basement, picture the underside of medium sized ranch, all blacked out and dingy, small stage with low level ceiling, exposed stone and brick, dank and musty, a walk out to a smoking area, a couple bathrooms, and a tiny corner bar. Yet one of my top 5 bands was on stage. The whole night I was torn between the excitement of being so close to them and the disappointment that America has let them down. If they were some craptastic band of 17 year olds with surface level lyrics, over processed guitars, and shiny packaging, they’d be packing a mid-sized venue and getting tons of radio time.

The next night in Bham was a bit better. Workplay was a great venue, a venue I would be stoked to play, but still much smaller than venues I have played.

Not to toot my own horn, but I have had the opportunity to play the Pageant and the Sheldon, and I am nobody.

So how is it that I band with distribution, that was signed, is not packing large venues…what does one have to do to make it…what? Am I so off the norm that I no longer relate to the median voice of society, someone please help me understand why everyone in America has not downloaded their most recent CD, for FREE!!! Please.

**Note** Except for the shot of me at the Pageant, all photo credits go to Ironstef, at least someone knew the blogging rules.


  1. Oh, I do love the Odyssey, but to haul around band equipment...Keep the Saab and get another used van, one cheaper on gas...Love you.

  2. Because I trust your musical judgment, I will give the Damnwells a spin.

  3. Nice car! Thanks for posting. I wrote a post not long ago about how I could not stomach the thought of getting a minivan. Trading the Saab in for it would be....tragic.


  4. I used to have a Mercury Villager...I loved that car. I am all about function.