Saturday, January 31, 2004 -
(Mike's first blog entry!)

We played in Tyler last night. What an eventful 12 hours! Here are some tales from our trip.

The trip to Tyler:

"The point of a journey is not to arrive." - Neil Peart

4:30 pm: As we get on the road, we suddenly realize that Tyler is actually 4 hours away and not 2. Doh! No problem, we'll just make good time on the road.

4:35 pm: Nino asks "Did one of you pack my bass in the van?" To which, of course, the answer was "no". Woodlands traffic cost us another 20 minutes to going back to pick it up. Ahh, we're already bit late, what does it matter?

4:45 pm: Bumper to bumper traffic on I-45. We all blame the superbowl.

7:30 pm: While listening to the Beatles' Abbey Road (with Ron proffering little known Beatles facts, as usual), Ian and Mike realize our exit was approximately 10 miles behind us on I-45. Typical Drop Trio ... we either leave a city in heading in the wrong direction, or pass our exit. We should really consider throwing the CD player away, it's too distracting.

7:45: We exit I-45 somewhere between Houston and Dallas, in the pitch dark, and Ian decides to drive at an "agressive" speed on a poorly lit frontage road without high beams. I plead "Ian, turn on your brights!" Ian obeys, and just as he hits the brights we all come to the immediate realization that the road underneath us is presently turning 90 degrees to the left. Whee! We end up bouncing on a makeshift dirt road, plummeting towards a small river. Hearts racing but happy to be alive, we navigate back to the interstate, finally going in the right direction.

At this point, I remind Ian that the point of this journey is not only to get to Tyler, but to also get there ALIVE. Ian agrees and takes our speed down a notch. We're heading east on highway 31 towards Tyler, with 40 minutes to gig time and a mere 60 miles to go. No sweat.

But then comes ... Athens. Athens, TX. While trying to follow the highway thorough the city, conflicting road signs send us north, then east, then back north, then back east, convincing us to officially boycott driving through this damn town ever again. Athens, TX is no Athens, GA. About this time the CD player begins remixing (skipping) the Indigo Girls CD Ian and I were singing along with (Nomads, Indians, Saints - "You and me of the 10,000 Wars" - best song ever!) Now we're in trouble, since the CD player seems to be overheating. We give it a little cool down time, so I naturally take up singing where it left off.

30 minutes late, we actually manage to arrive at Tyler. Doh! At least it is completely frigid out as we load in. The guys in Plump are gracious enough not to kick our asses for showing up so late.

Music for the trip out:

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Beatles - Abbey Road
Free Radicals - Arial Bombardment
Rush - Permanent Waves
Indigo Girls - Indians Nomads and Saints
MMW - Dropper

"The movie will begin in 5 moments, the mindless voice announced." -Morrison

The gig:

We eventually get all set up. I have the good fortune to be using Doug's (Plump) drums. I'm ready to play within minutes of our arrival - very nice. Gave me a little time to enjoy a beer and hang with Plump and some new friends. Ian, however, is going through his normal 2hr 15m setup, but something is wrong. His VK-7 seems to be fried. No power. Dead. It appears we are going to do the show with no organ.

Fine. We've done that.

When we start, both people in the audience appear to be none the wiser about our technical difficulties. That is to change.

Barmecide, our new most-requested song, begins the set. We get nearly halfway through the song when Ian stops playing, and just sits, staring at his Rhodes. He has lost power. Ron and I cover (quite nicely, I might add) while Ian fiddles with the plug and various cables.

Finally, he gets it going. Still, as far as we can tell, no one in the (now growing) audience has noticed our problems.

On the next song, Abbey Rhodes, Ian once again stops playing about 10 seconds in, cursing just a hair too loud. Ron and I try and cover again, but this time Ian orders us to just stop, displeased with all the problems. He resumes fiddling with wires and cables, and finally, unplugging all effects and changing the mixer's power cord solves the problem.

Now people have noticed, obviously. But Ian, being the Zen master that he is, comforts the crowd (and the band). Problems just can't hold us down. "Technical Difficulties Trio" will play the show, come hell or high water. The show proceeds with no organ, no effects, and, not surprisingly, little fun.

I noticed something at this show: Nino was wearing a wrist watch on stage. One of my pet peeves about bands is to see any member wearing white tennis shoes or a watch on stage. I think it's not only tasteless, it also causes bad luck. So ... I officially blame Nino for all of Ian's hardware troubles.

Anyway, after our set limped across the finish line, we settled in to listen to the boys from Plump lay down a good set. We find, upon trying to use the bathroom, that the club has a ladder blocking the door to the restroom with a sign declaring it "broken". Figures. About that time, we also fielded an enthusiastic (but DRUNK) fan trying to rip Ron's "bean picking" hat off his head. Strange, eh? The guy then proceeded over to the broken bathroom, pushing the ladder to the side. Tyler rules!

The highlight of the night was definitely watching Plump rock out. They have a new touring sax player, Jason, who simply rules, like the rest of the guys. And Ian even rocked out with the boys a little bit. Stupid not having an organ. But Ian rules, even without the organ and effects.

Everybody at Elmo's was super super nice. So nice, in fact, that we were lulled into a false sense of security and ended up forgetting the mailing list. Crap! If any of you reading this were on there, please subscribe again. :)

The trip home ...

"Never travel to a place that takes more time to get to than you plan on staying." -Raf

1:15 am - we opt for driving back to Houston the same night rather than getting a hotel. I say "we" but that "we" means me and Nino. Ian passed out in the back seat, using Nino's beautiful new SWR bass amp head for a pillow. Mmm, must've been comfy.

Nothing like driving on a two lane in the middle of the night afraid of oncoming drunks in the rain. This obviously slowed the trip home a bit, but made a great setting for Sting's Soul Cages and later Pink Floyd's the Wall which I hadnt heard in it s entirety in 12 years. It is so much more disturbing at an older age. Genius! Ian had the nerve to sleep even through this work of brilliance.

Damn, by the way ... Whataburger rules for being open so late. We usually hit Whatabuger for late-night breakfast taquitos when we're on the road. Tyler wins for having the worst. They were drenched in grease, even more than usual (if you can belive that).

We did have the pleasure of meeting the meanest man in Texas - gas station attendant somewhere along highway 69 with a GIANT cowboy hat. For no apparent reason, this dude insulted and yelled at Ian from inside the station while Ian pumped gas. Former band mates of mine would have bloodied the guy. Ian, the still reigning Zen master, was friendlier than ever. Ian wins for being the nicest guy ever. Mike still loses.

And of course, the music for the way home:

Plump - new CD - MOST excellent CD ever. These guys outdid themselves, as did Mark up at Bungalow Studio (in the heights).
REM - Automatic for the People - Nightswimming just hits you right sometimes, you know?
Sting - Soul Cages
Pink Floyd - Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd - The Wall

Wednesday, January 28, 2004 -
Those of you who were tuned in to KTSU (90.9 - Houston's Jazz station) today around 5pm might have heard a little something familiar coming over the air waves - DJ Jeff "Jazz" Kelly spun some tracks from Big Dipper today on the air, during his show "Modern Jazz Showcase". If you're a regular KTSU listener (or even if you're not), give 'em a ring (713-313-4354) and say "THANK YOU for playing local artists like Drop Trio". KTSU is a great resource for jazz lovers in Houston, so if you're not a listener yet, tune in now.

Monday, January 26, 2004 -
There's a great new site for fans of improv & jam music in Texas ... it's called TexHeads. They have a calendar of shows happening in Texas, downloads of live shows, a photo gallery, and a discussion group. It's just getting started, so join the community!

Saturday, January 24, 2004 -
Have you ever heard of the Free Radicals? Chances are, if you're living in Houston and you've ever been out to see live music, you have. These guys are the quintessential free improv jazz / funk / eclectic / politically active collective, from right here in H-Town. They've won "Best Jazz" in the Houston Press for the last several years running, and deservedly so.

Well, tonight, they are having their CD Release Party, for their new CD! We've got an advance copy (Ian played a track on the CD) and I can tell you, it is awesome. If you're free tonight, come on by the Super Happy Fun Land for what is sure to be one of the biggest, weirdest parties in town. Ian will be playing on a tune or two, as will most well known folks in the music scene in Houston (Guy Schwartz, Harry Sheppard, Gloria Edwards, etc.). So come on up to the heights and celebrate.

Thursday, January 22, 2004 -
Hey, if you are looking for good local music here in Houston, look no further - there's a new web site that's just been started called They've got an online radio stream that hosts exclusively Houston artists, and they have some really quality acts - folks like Mandy Smith (on currently, as I'm writing this), the Buddhacrush, David Craig, Felix Madison, Opie Hendrix, and the Psychodillos. And as of this month, Drop Trio as well. So if you're looking to hear some new local music, well, go tune in.

Big thanks to everybody who came out to the Industry Cafe last night! We had a great time. Sorry we got started later than expected, but THANKS to everybody for coming out. Go Spread Your Wings was awesome, as was Lights Out On Sound.

We're getting closer and closer to doing our first entirely non-Big-Dipper show (i.e. a show with all new tunes and nothing from the album). Last night we debuted a new tune called "Adcock Ice"; we also played recent tunes "Barmecide", "Martini", "Wake The Whale", and "Cognac Morning". We'll get some recordings of these tunes up on the site before too long. We've got a whole bunch of new stuff in the works as well, so come by Brasil this Friday if you want some sneak previews.

One cool thing for me was to see how some of our fans were really into the electronic music bands that played before us. One friend referred to Lights Out On Sound as "Glitch Hop", which is a term I hadn't heard before. But it seems like there's a great crossover potential between what we're doing and what they're doing. Ceeplus and I, by the end of the night, were even talking about some team-ups in the future. Who knows ... ?

Wednesday, January 21, 2004 -
Tonight, Drop Trio will be playing in what I think must be one of the coolest shows we've done in a while. It's a show at the Industry Cafe, with "Lights Out On Sound", "Go Spread Your Wings", and "Work". Here's a description of the show, from DJ CeePlus:
Lights out on Sound, (that's Me and Dj Samp's live electronic band) will doing a rare Houston live performance set. If you like Clouddead, Prefuse 73 or Live electronic bands and such, then you will probably enjoy what we have to offer. We use drum machines, samplers, multi efx processors, various vintage keyboards/synths, tape loops, various pedals, guitar and a few more interesting things.

We have asked Drop Trio and a host of others to come along for the ride. This will be an evening of Abstract and Diverse hiphop, lofi electronica, funk, jazz soul, rock-n-roll and more. Try and make it out and have some fun with us.

Wed. Jan 21st 2004 - Reprogram Music + Reprogram Radio present:


djs sets in between acts by:
Rob Mozell + more TBA

$5 cover / all ages / 9pm
@ Homegrown at Industry Cafe
2110 Rusk at Saint Emanuel

Listen to Reprogram Radio 90.1 KPFT Mondays 3:30-5:30 for more info.
There you have it. Should be a sick show, if you're looking for cutting edge music, this is it folks.

Sunday, January 18, 2004 -
We had one of our best shows ever this weekend. The people of Lubbock really know how to treat you.

Friday morning at 6, after a late night at Cotton Exchange, we managed to drag our sorry funk jazz playing asses out of bed and hit the road (Mike took the "latest person" title away from Ian, the previous champion for 15 months running). After a bit of Whataburger love, we were off.

9 hours, 584 miles, 5 taquitos, 6 Dr. Peppers and 1 child doll in a skeleton costume holding a leash connected to a stuffed dog on a kitchen chair by the side of the road* later, we rolled into the booming metropolis that is Lubbock, TX. The tumbleweeds looked happy to see us. It was a rainy, gloomy day. We were wondering if anybody was going to brave the elements to see our set.

Upon hitting town, we made straight for the Texas Tech campus and found our way to the radio station, KTXT. Our host, DJ Pan, led us into the waiting room - which was full of vintage video games (aw yeah). It took some effort on her part to drag us away from that. She did a really nice interview with us, with lots of people calling in saying "What is this? It's great!"

After our interview, we felt like rock stars. Yeah. There's nothing that kills that feeling faster than having to move several hundred pounds of gear by yourself in the rain. Stupid not being rock stars!

The gear load-in was made infinitely more pleasant by the fact that as we were setting up, a traditional Irish session (or seisiún, if you prefer) was getting underway at the pub, with a band called "Last Night's Fun". Chris Smith, the band leader, invited Ian to sit in on piano, and they played a few reels before Mike and Nino managed to drag Ian away to a nearby brewery. (Hmm, playing and drinking or eating and drinking? Choices, choices.)

After dinner we caught up with Jay Reichard, the editor of Lubbock's HubStuff magazine, and his awesome wife Shirley, at La Diosa, a nearby wine bar that they had just done a cover story on. We chatted over some Texas-made wine (very good) and got the scoop on what's been up in Lubbock lately.

When we returned to Klusoz, we saw the set by openers One Big Groove, our new-found favorite band from Lubbock. They rocked out - definitely a band to catch if you're in town (and hopefully they'll start to travel before long). And contrary to our last experience at Klusoz, the sound was awesome.

By the time our set started, the bar was already starting to get crowded, and we talked to bunches of people who'd come quite a ways to see us (even as far as Midland, a 3 hour drive!). Our fears were alleviated by this point - we knew that there was some really special energy going on at Klusoz.

But we had no idea.

You people in lubbock are monsters. Seriously. We started playing after 11 and didn't stop until after 2 - people were up dancing the whole damn time. We couldn't get off the stage without playing 2 encores. People were really freaking out, and that's awesome. It's nice to just catch the groove in the right way, at the right time, and open yourself up for something like that to happen.

Needless to say, a completely miserable load-out (hundreds of pounds of gear, this time in the *pouring* rain) and a fitful sleep in a level 2 motel, did nothing to dampen our spirits. We rode home feeling psyched to have connected with the good people of Lubbock again.

Our 9 hours of driving home included lots of music, a Subway stop (where they hadn't even heard of the veggie patty sub, let alone served it), and lots of trains. I'm told we just missed a rare north texas snow storm on the way out. That's too bad, it's been a while since we've seen some good snow (though our wives would've killed us if we'd been snowed in!)

We did get to groove out to the new record by the Buddhacrush, and we have decided that ... they rule. It was recorded by Mark at Bungalow Studio in the heights, and sounds awesome. Some of the other random stuff we listened to on the trip, in case you care: a Magnatune electronic music collection, Corey Stoot, Herbie Hancock's Headhunters, the Les Claypool Frog Brigade (Skerik rules!), Close To The Edge by Yes, 10 speed, the Vines, Indigo Girls, a completely burnin' tune by the Michel Camilo trio called "On Fire" (El Negro is clearly from another planet), Niacin, Pink Floyd's "Meddle" (any votes for a Drop Trio version of Echoes?), and plenty more that I can't recall right now.

Phew, OK, that's it for now. Stay tuned for more trials and tribulations from the road.

* - Would I make something like that up? Seriously, right there on the side of I-20.

Saturday, January 17, 2004 -
I'd like to apologise to everybody who went out to Brasil this past Friday for Funk Jazz Fridays. We got a call on Friday afternoon (while we were in Lubbock) that Dave Hinson was really sick and that they wouldn't be able to make it for the show. We're sorry they weren't able to play for you guys, and hoping Dave is back on his feet soon so they can come back and do a make-up gig.

Lubbock updates coming soon ...

Tuesday, January 13, 2004 -
We've got a cool Houston show coming up this week - our first time at a downtown bar called the Cotton Exchange Bar. You should come check it out!

"But I'm too tired, and downtown is hard to get to, and ..."

Nonsense! Here's some good reasons to come out for this show:
- You can take the light rail (if you haven't done it yet, give it a try, it's great!)
- Cotton Exchange has great food
- We're playing this show with guest bassist Thomas Helton, which is a rare joy.
- The room has very nice acoustics - I've seen the guys from The Trade play there, and they sounded super
- Since you're downtown anyway, you can stop in on our pals Little Brother Project at Dean's Credit Clothing.

See you downtown on Thursday!

Monday, January 12, 2004 -
Hey, there's more voting to be done (is there ever enough voting?) This time it's for the BarStar "Hot 100" bands from Houston. It'd be nice for us to eventually make it in there. Just click this picture and choose "10":


Sunday, January 11, 2004 -
New photos from this past Friday's show are up in our photo section. Our good friend Tony Endieveri (from End Marketing) took them. (You may already know some of Tony's work - he does the artwork for Houston band RowZero, as well as other great looking stuff around town.) These shots are really unusual - ghost-like, because of the long exposure time. They really show the energy and motion of live music better than most concert photos I've seen.

Saturday, January 10, 2004 -
Thanks to all who came out last night - it was shoulder to should in there, even more packed than last week. Keep it up - this coming Friday, Righteous Buddha will be rockin the house. (See the full schedule for Funk Jazz Fridays.)

Thursday, January 08, 2004 -
The first Funk Jazz Friday last week was a great success - standing room only! We'll be back this Friday, so come early for dinner and stake out a table. (If you've never tried the 4 cheese pizza, we can highly recommend it.)
Drop Trio - Funk Jazz Fridays
Brasil - 2604 Dunlavy
10 pm - All Ages - FREE
This week, we've got a special guest guitar player sitting in for a set. Here's a hint for avid blog readers - he reads GQ magazine. Any guesses?

Wednesday, January 07, 2004 -
Know anybody in Lubbock, TX? We're heading out there to do a show on Friday the 16th and we'd love to spread the word. If you have friends out at Texas Tech University, let 'em know to head over to Klusoz next Friday night!

Tuesday, January 06, 2004 -
More studio time last night - working on our top secret new track for the Sugarhill compilation CD. John Griffin rocks! He's a super engineer, and extraordinarily patient too. Make sure you go see him play in the Southern Backtones (Mike's old alma mater as well) on the 14th of this month at the Proletariat.

Monday, January 05, 2004 -
The official barstar 2003 "Best of BarStar" ballot is out. Help Drop Trio and your other Houston favorites win - vote right now! Click here for the ballot, and fill out as much as you feel like filling out.

Sunday, January 04, 2004 -
Drop Trio songs are now available on a new online music download service called StudioDownloads. We're one of very the first artists in the catalogue. Take a look - you can download an mp3 version of Big Dipper for $8.

Saturday, January 03, 2004 -
Wow - what a start to Funk Jazz Fridays! Brasil was packed last night, both with DT regulars and new friends. Check back in next Friday - we've got a surprise guest guitarist coming to heat things up ...

Friday, January 02, 2004 -
Don't forget about Funk Jazz Fridays - starting tonight, there will be instrumental funk & jazz music at Brasil every Friday night. Often it'll be us up on stage, but when we're out of town, we'll feature friends of ours in similar genres - hopefully, introducing you to some of the best new instrumental music from around the country. Check out the January & February schedule to see who's coming up soon.

Here's a writeup about FJF in this week's Houston Press: Drop Everything

FYI, music starts around 10 and goes till 12:30 (so you can come by after whatever else you're doing - Brasil has great desserts!). Admission is always free, so come for dinner and stay for the music. See you tonight!

Spaceship jazz from Texas.

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