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Monday, June 21, 2010

Fred Anderson Stricken

I just heard that Fred Anderson, avant-guarde jazz saxophonist and leader of the Velvet Lounge, had a massive heart attack about a week ago. Here is the Tribune's report.

Fred was a Chicago treasure in many ways. He kept a gang of creative musicians employed. He provided a convival environment for music and comaraderie. He was on a mission to spread the sound around. At 81 years of age, he is the joyful grandfather to Chicago's jazz community. Fred is a much-loved artist.

It sounds like his condition is grim. Let's hope the doctors are wrong.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Pulling back

I have pulled the plug on the Mystery Band and gone back to being a harmonica noodler, playing in the backyard to annoy the dog. I like to play, but lining up gigs, trying to get paid, organizing my wonderful fellow musicians - it starts to feel like work. I already have a full-time (plus) job (which, by the way, deserves more of my attention). I was subsidizing the gigs because club owners can't afford to pay a living wage to musicians in this era of iPods and downloads - it gets to be a burden to "pay to play" at every gig. My family also deserves my full engagement. Life is busy, and sometimes you have to pull back in order to go forward.

Maybe I will go back to it some day. Maybe not. The band was starting to feel like a form of self-indulgence, a stupid ego trip for an aging white man who has no business playing the blues. So I will start acting my age and living clean. No more late nights in dive bars for me. My favorite dive bar has closed, anyway.

If anyone wants a couple hundred copies of the Mystery Band CD, let me know.