Monster Eyes, NAMM, and Blood Beats

Hello Trick-or-Treaters!

I almost turned into a one-eyed Corpse Bride a few days ago. Well, at least it felt like that. But I have since learned that hydrogen peroxide will not melt one’s eyes out.

I woke up and was getting ready to go out for a run. I wasn’t completely awake, and while putting my contact lenses in, instead of reaching for the saline solution, I reached for the hydrogen peroxide cleaning solution. Once my left contact reached my eye, I knew immediately what I had done. And I heard a terrible sizzling sound.

AAAAAAAAAACK! As I violently stuck my face in the sink and slapped water into my ocular area, I had visions of my eye bubbling up and dissolving. A mini zombie flick, right there in my bathroom.

But my eye didn’t bubble up and dissolve. However, it has been very angry at me for the past few days. I’ve had this little monster eye. Bright red. And because my eyes are green, with the principles of complementary colors (red vs. green), the colors have looked very exaggerated. Grrr, monster.

Fun. I’m just glad that I can see.

Well, in the world of music, I went to NAMM about a little bit ago (Jan 14 – 16). Ah, what a glorious gathering. Once a year, the Anaheim convention center (which is city blocks long and three stories high) fills to the brim with every sort of music company you can think of. It feels so good to walk around and take it all in, just being around music-minded people.

I had the pleasure of meeting the president and the district manager for Allen Organs – Steven Markowitz and Joel Hurley. I’ve played on many Allens and like them quite a bit. I also met Franco Luzi of Viscount Organs. I was really impressed with the touch of its keyboard – very tracker-organ-like. It’s a lovely instrument – perhaps to record on someday …

In chatting with Franco, I gave him my CDs and asked him if he had seen any Halloween happenings back in Italy. He said that Halloween has just barely started up over there, that his 18-year-old daughter went to a Halloween party just this past October. I asked him about trick-or-treating and he said it started up maybe 2 or 3 years ago. And here I’m getting all excited and fascinated about this – like little giggly creatures silently bubbling up inside my head.

How did the children know about trick-or-treating? Through American movies, said Franco. And did the neighborhood people at each doorstep know what to do? He said many of them did not and the children had to teach them what to do. So, the next year they were prepared. Ha! Isn’t that great?

He said that of course Italians celebrated November 1 and 2 (All Saints’ and All Souls’ Days), but that just recently the Italian government declared it no longer a government holiday. Franco said the people still celebrate those days, but they don’t have work off like they used to. Boo.

I wish that Oct. 31, Nov. 1, Nov. 2 were official government holidays here in the U.S. October 31st is a crazy/fun night, and November 1 & 2 are days to reflect on life and think about our ancestors and our posterity. I truly believe that how we think about death fashions our character in life. There’s a time to make fun of death and laugh at it (Oct. 31), and then there’s a time to be solemn, pensive, and have peace about it (Nov. 1 & 2).

So, after I talked with these organ companies at NAMM, I headed over to Fender. Sigh. I have a beautiful Martin guitar that a friend hooked me up with, but it turns my fingertips to pulp (because I’m still learning and am slow with getting the chord positions solid). I want to save up and buy a really nice electric guitar. My good friend, Ian Fowles (many of you might know him through The Aquabats! and Further Seems Forever – a most excellent player) let me try out the action on his Gibson and I loved it! It doesn’t hurt my fingers! So … I will acquire one such beauty someday soon and have a ball.

I was able to attend NAMM because my good friend, Kevin, works at Ludwig Drums and gave me a pass. So, he introduced me to some nice, Ludwig-endorsed drummers. I chatted with Mario Calire of Ozomatli – very nice guy. I gave him my CD and he asked if his kids would like it. Absolutely. It’s for all ages. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jon “Bermuda” Schwartz, the drummer for Weird Al Yankovic. Again, very nice guy. Such nice drummer boys! We chatted for a while about virtual drums and recording programs. I’ve been especially interested in this since working with Micah Anderson and the program Reason for my Samhain song.

I also met Jeff Friedl of ASHES dIVIDE and Puscifer. We discovered a mutual soft spot for cats and Halloween. He showed me his iPhone screensaver – a picture of his two beautiful Burmese kitties. Ah, now there’s a musician – rocks hard on the outside with pure kitty-loving tenderness on the inside. Good music is guaranteed. I liked him – I felt a nice friendshippy connection. Maybe we’ll work on a cat song someday (hang on! ding, ding, ding! I already have another cat song written that needs jazz drums … hmmmmmm ….). I love meeting fellow cat people. I met a fellow runner/fast walker yesterday who was being followed by a beautiful orange-and-white stripped cat. We stopped and petted it and chatted. Instant understanding between cat people.

Outside of the Ludwig group, there was one drummer I wanted to meet. I was told he was somewhere around NAMM. And I chased him down. Hunted, more like it. Vatos. Johnny “Vatos” Hernandez. The drummer for my favorite band, Oingo Boingo (now disbanded). I told him I’d been a fan since I was 10 years old. We bantered for a while. I told him I’m a pipe organist who writes Halloween music and gave him my CDs. He told me that he does Halloween concerts at Magic Mountain and other places and might give me a call for this year’s concert. Now, wouldn’t that be neat? Why, yes. Yes, it would. So, we shall see.

Why did I meet so many drummers and not keyboardists? I don’t know. It just happened that way. When I’ve played live with bands, I must say that the most thrilling part for me was to be playing with drums. Totally electrifying. Really. Electrifying down to my toes and fingertips. Those beats get into my blood and move me like I can’t explain. Purr! See, I’m used to playing for funerals, church services, and weddings – not a lot of drum action. Although, I did play a gig for a modern worship service with drums and guitar. That was interesting.

And I played a Spanish wedding mass with a mariachi band – that was cool. We weren’t slotted to play together, but they were up in the loft with me and I invited them to play Wagner’s wedding march with me. Why not? I usually play it in B-flat, and they said in their awesome accents, “Can you play it in the key of C?” Brilliant.

Well, my dear Trick-or-Treaters, it’s been fun. I hope I’ve filled your satchels up with a lot of good candy. Enjoy your munchings. And please, don’t put hydrogen peroxide in your eyes.