This is all still coming together and I have some avails left in there and am working to connect the dots -- please contact me asap if you'd like me to come to you to play, teach, or both! [email protected]
a couple of days ago, New Beard went down to philly to rock with our pals the Weird Hot at Philly's Kung Fu Necktie in Fishtown. It was an awesome night and was great to get New Beard out of town! (more photos coming soon!) see New Beard on Facebook!
A few weeks ago, NEW BEARD had our most recent video debuted by MTV (and then repeated by Liquid Television)
The video for our song "Solamente Cloud" off of New Beard City, was animated by Moscow-based artist Deems and features 1001 completely unique faces which sing the song.
New Beard is also featured in the Jan/Feb edition of Relix magazine.
TubaJoe Summer 2012 wrap up and photos. It was an intense summer -- I toured a lot in June through August... I went on the road with 4 different bands in consecutive trips.
The summer started out with some interesting projects around home in NYC Gato Loco de Bajo opened up its weekly residency at the lovely new ZirZamin in SoHo, and New Beard made another (big!) music video. Add that to the Red Hook Ramblers doing another historic Edison recording and the Ja Ja Jas hit the beach in Montauk ...that was in about the span of a week.
After the pre-tour in-town fury, it was then time for me to hit the road. In June, I was honored to be a featured performer in Austria's ‘Heavy Tuba’, an all-low-brass all-star rock/jazz ensemble that evolved as an offshoot of the legendary Vienna Art Orchestra. It was a thrilling experience for me to be amongst such amazing players. Heavy Tuba is a group I've known about for years... way back in Chicago, I managed a CD store and a traveling tuba player from Europe stopped in with his minidisc to play me this cool new stuff going on in Europe.
It was such an honor to just play with these guys, much less to be asked to be a featured soloist. It was an intense trip, mostly of rural Austria which is such beautiful country. Several full days of rehearsal learning new music, then a day of travel across the country, then a show at a folksy brass festival (keep in mind this is rural Austria!) made for an intense trip with no time for jet lag.
After a day in Munich of recovery and practice for my next trip, I had to rush to Canada, via NYC to join Toronto's amazing Saidah Baba Talibah and her kickass band. Saidah is somewhat of a hero in Toronto, with her soul-tinged rock called a cross between Living Color and Erykah Badu, ...with TUBA as her bass. I had to head to Canada twice, first to Toronto for rehearsal, then back to NYC for a few days, then back to Canada, this time to Montreal and to to meet the band for my first show with them.
Making the trip to Toronto from Munich via NYC was a trek. And unfortunately, as happens once in a while, there was a flight delay through London and my tuba didn't make the transfer. I arrived in NYC for my transfer to Toronto sans-tuba. No worries, a kind Canadian tubist lent me his Yamaha CC until I got mine the next day. Fortunately, my horn only missed a rehearsal day and I got done what needed to be done on the loaner. My horn showed up eventually...
The shows with Saidah were fantastic... first a large club gig in Montreal, then back to TO to play the main stage of the Toronto Jazz Festival in support of one of my favorite artists, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews. The Montreal show was a great induction for me, and TJF show was fantastic. While she is the niece of the legendary Andy Bey (she's the daughter of Salome Bey) her vibe is all her own... soul, blues, funk and hard rock (thats where my heart is too!) She embraces this mix fully in her sex-tinged power show. The first seated, surprised Jazzfest crowd absolutely loved it (not one II-V was played LOL!) and were on their feet screaming by the end of our set.
I got to meet Troy Andrews again (I met him a few years ago at the NoLa Jazzfest) he's not only an incredibly honest and dynamic performer, he's a complete class act as a person. He congratulated Saidah on her ability to kick the crowd in the butt! A good night.
I had a day or two to recover in Toronto (and to continue to shed!) and then we played the main Toronto Canada Day celebration to an estimated 25,000 people. That too was a rocking performance. 3 kickass shows with Saidah under my belt.
Next I had to hi-tail it back to NYC quickly as just a few days later the full 10-piece Gato Loco was due to head to Europe. One quick rehearsal, laundry, and then it was back on the road.
Gato Loco's first destination was 3 shows in Bordeaux, France. We were returning to the place of that band's first 'big gig' and where we recorded our live record; Bordeaux's outdoor Festival du Hauts de Garonne, which is presented by Musique du Nuit.
Arriving back in Bordeaux was an emotional thing, this was the site of my favorite gig I ever played. We instantly had to visit our hangout, the famous fountain, as always with a handful of locals. I had to get a meal of steak tartare and a glass of... bordeaux. Bliss.
The gigs in Bordeaux were cool, albeit a bit weird (one was on a high-rise rooftop covered in mattresses, the others in sculpture parks) but the vibe there is always great. I did get a chance to sneak off to Saint Emillion to get an insider's wine tour and taste some great wines. Bliss again.
We had to leave Bordeaux pretty quickly though, even though we felt like we were just getting started - unlike our previous visit where we stayed for quite a while and made a record. This time the road called.
A long train ride and we were in Italy. I LOVE Italy. A lot. Our first gig was in a rock club in Torino that was literally ON the bank of the (smelly) Po river, in some sort of catacomb-type place underneath the town square. Sorta cool. A quick, loud, rock-style gig, and we then had just a couple of hours to be back on the train. Venice was calling.
We got back in my favorite city of Venice for the second time in 3 months. I like Venice not for it's history or unique situation, but for the fact that it's such a timeless bubble.
And... Venice LOVES Gato Loco. We were to return to the exact site of our first big show there, the beautiful Serra dei Giardini. Again, presented by our good friends from Microclima, our job this time was to provide festivities for after the fireworks of the Redentore. The Redentore is the 'Festival of the Redeemer', it commemorates the end of the second coming of the Bubonic Plague, which hit Venice for a second time in 1575 and they've been celebrating every June ever since 1592. It's one of the city's largest festivals and it was packed to the gills with revelers from all over the world.
On our arrival in Venice, the Gato Loco band was *very* weary by this point, our travels had been tough this trip. We all were trepidatious going into this last show, simply due to exhaustion. However just a few bars into our fast "Coconino #3 "merengue-on-crack" tune towards the beginning of our show, all worries vanquished. The 1000+ crowd instantly turned into a mosh pit and people danced like maniacs for the next two hours. We had to barricade ourselves as people kept falling into the band! ...and we played on and on. It was complete mayhem... just the way we like it to be.
We wrapped up the show at about 2:30am, but the night was far from over. The longstanding tradition is that on the night of the Redentore, after a night of celebration, you sleep on the Lido; Venice's adjacent beach-island. Of course, we went.
The entire beach was partying, but I decided to take a long solemn swim in the warm salty Adriatic Sea. Heavenly.
The sun rose and we left the Lido, boarded the vaporetto (bus boat) and headed back to Venice and slept.
The middle of the next day we had one last gig, an outdoor acoustic performance on the Zattere at one of our favorite Venetian hangs, El Chioschetto. This was great too, quite tiring, but a good Campari Spritz took the edge off.
The following day the rest of the band headed back to NYC, but I stayed as I had more business to attend to. Before I get to that, I want to sum up my night like this: In a turn of events, I ended up cooking pasta for Venetians (talk about pressure) WHILE I fought off bats that had flown into the apartment. That's how I roll. Cooking while battling flying rodents. I didn't end up smacking any of the recording equipment, and the bat finally left. Most importantly, the pasta came out great. Venice.
Anyway... the next morning (more like the middle of the night) I took a boat to a bus to a train to a bus... to go to the other side of the Adriatic Sea, to Pula, Croatia on the Istrian peninsula. I was on my way to visit the Accord Case company, the makers of the finest, highest-end instrument cases in the world.
I have used an Accord Case for almost a year now and it has changed my life. My personal case is an early model in their revolutionary tuba case design, and was due for some adjustments. I have come to rely on this case so heavily that a trek to the factory was warranted since Pula is only about half a day's journey from Venice. After I rode a crowded train to the edge of Italy, then a crowded bus through Slovenia, into Croatia (an adventure for me as I had never been to Eastern Europe before)...and I certainly don't speak the language(s)! I was incredibly sleep deprived and exhausted, as well as a little intimidated by the Eastern European border officials that kept boarding our bus, so I didn't end up taking many photos of this leg of my journey.
Once at the Accord factory, it was wonderful -- a team sized up the wear on my case and did some needed adjustments. What an incredible company (more on that soon...)
After they were done, I headed out for a nice dinner then back to my hotel - a groovy old hotel built when Croatia was ruled by the Austrians, which was adjacent to the colosseum ruins from Roman times. Interesting place.
But again, there was little time for rest, as I had to be up at the crack of dawn to get back to Venice in time to get to my plane back to NYC.
Back on Venice, I said goodbye to my Venetian friends and to that amazing city... I had to head back home.
Once back home, I had a little time to catch up and dive back into the swing of things in NYC, but that was only temporary. I had had two pending, consecutive trips with New Beard - our first touring ever. It was now time for rock tour.
We loaded up in the pouring rain to head upstate to New England. A delightful trip (despite some nausea on the way home from the first one....) We hit Burlington, VT, Northampton, MA, and some little town in between, which I forgot the name of!
That was a good start, but was not the end... just a few days later we had a second trip, this time down to Florida - as part of the Heart of Darkness comedy and rock tour -- it was 3 bands all travelling together. The Heart of Darkness band with comedian Greg Barris, the band Corrupt Autopilot, New Beard, and the soulful Yazan did some solo performances too. It was all presented by the Florida Beer Company. Mmmm beer.
We flew down to Orlando and congregated at the home of our new friend Tierney from the great band The Pauses. Tierney’s house also had a special pet... Garbanzo, the giant tortoise!
Several great shows, Orlando, Boca Raton, and then Ybor City, and we made it out just hours before Hurricane Isaac. A good solid first rock tour.
Ok... that’s enough for now. Many more things coming up....
8/23 - Will's Pub, Orlando
8/24 - Funky Bhudda, Boca Raton
8/25 - Crow Bar, Ybor City
Here it is! Video by Joel Barhamand
This amazing painting (featuring the main boss from the video game DOOM (holding my exact tuba) was done by the incredible Dima Drjuchin to commemorate NEW BEARD's leading track off of the upcoming epic LP release New Beard City which drops this summer. Yes, you guessed it, the song is about playing the game.
You can download New Beard's DOOM here:
The Deli Magazine, an important indie rock zine has nominated NEW BEARD for its "Band of the Month"
Please support us by voting for us in this poll!!!
Sunday, December 18th, at the Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg Brooklyn, indie-rock-band-with-tuba NEW BEARD will be doing a show to celebrate the release of our EP Moment of Peace. On this bill I'll also play with homeboys Gato Loco de Bajo as it will be a big family affair! ...and on the show our good pals Lavalier will play (with full-sized mics tho... ha ha, that's a joke), as well as the band Toys and Tiny Instruments.
This is exciting for me as the pre-release-release of Moment of Peace has been getting some kickass response! This EP is also to accompany the release of our video to the song "Given" which debuted a few weeks ago on Stereogum.
This is going to be an exciting night -- please join us!!!
Here's the video from New Beard's song "Given", produced by Gustav Ejstes of Dungen. (I'm thrilled about the tuba sound... which is the bass sound, but still nice and tuba-y!)
The link to it on Stereogum.com
*note, Stereogum's article mentions that the band will be playing on Dec 2, I will not be on that show due to a family commitment. James Schoen of the band Edensong will be filling in on bass, as will Ben Wigler. I WILL however, be back in the saddle as New Beard's bottom end for our EP release show on December 18 at the Cameo Gallery in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
The fall is always a marathon, and I now finally have a couple of days to catch my breath. This fall has been a time of constant motion... Have tuba will travel!
Starting in September, New York's notorious Ja Ja Jas kicked off our Oktoberfest tear with shows in New York at our home base of Zum Schneider. It was madness as always; a line down the street to get in (and we heard that someone actually slept in their car to get a good space in line!)
Right after rehearsing in NYC, the Ja Ja Jas immediately hit the road for the south, first down to North Carolina, then up through Virginia, back to NYC for a few shows, then back down to Virginia again.
(here I am with Herbie Abernathy of Valient Thorr -- was at our show!)
Big festival crowds and new friends and great food and... beer. Those shows are a lot of work, but are worth it for the vibe and the crowd!
I took a break from the Ja Ja Jas' constant string of Blaßmusik rocking, to head overseas again with the mighty Gato Loco for our third European trip in just over a year. We brought our "Psycho-Mambo" brand of jazz-rock to headline the Salzburg "Jazz and The City" festival in gorgeous Salzburg, Austria. (original home of W.A. Mozart, who I share a birthday with)
Gato Loco all converged in Munich, from what seemed to be a million different flights. We finally all made it in and got a great afternoon of rehearsal in a gorgeous art loft transformed out of an old post office in Munich's West End.
Here I'll mention that this was the maiden air flight for the famed Accord tuba case. This is the hi-tech carbon flight case which weights only slightly more than a soft gigbag. It worked great - I had to take 2 different airlines to get to Munich and they obviously put the case to the test (scratched the crap out of the outside of it, and beat the bumpers) but the ultralight case held it's own - no tuba damage! It came right out of baggage claim, right up the conveyor with the normal-sized suitcases, and I was able put the horn right on my back and walk right out of the airport and hop on a train. Tuba players will understand what a HUGE deal this is!
We visited this retro place called a CD store and look what we found displayed prominently!
and of course, we hit some bier halls!
The next morning, we got up early and hurriedly headed up the Alps toward Salzburg.
Once in this very pretty town, we got to the hotel and the band quickly befriended the dirndl-laden hotel staff and everyone got a quick nap to chill in our nice digs before soundcheck.
The venue was great - a large ballroom type of venue. The band and house staff got quickly to work putting together our sizable setup of two separate drum setups, two separate bass setups, guitar plus seven different horns.
During our soundcheck, a representative came to our venue in Salzburg from the Accord Case company in Croatia to modify my case for me! (Rockstar treatment! yeah!!) He set me up well!
Between soundcheck we had the pleasure of heading up the mountain to one of the most notorious restaurants in Salzburg which overlooks the entire town. Amazing! There we dined on Deer and got a chance to catch up with our festival-mates Bobby Previte and Steve Swallow, who had just finished their set. We didn't linger long tho... Gato Loco was on the clock and had a job to do!
We started our usual off-stage entrance and quickly surprised the crowd.
The band threw down for the entire extended-length set. The kind Austrian crowd ate it up, got out of their seats and danced the night away. It was a great show.
After the show, per Gato Loco tradition, we joined some of the locals for some reveling on the town.
Upon my return to the Big Apple, there was no time to rest! First, immediately, the De Bajo portion of Gato Loco played at our favorite home base of Barbes in Brooklyn, and New Beard was in rehearsal. I then headed with the Red Hook Ramblers for a quick jaunt to Boston, then rushing back for a show at Lincoln Center in NYC. Right from LC I ran to a CMJ spot with New Beard at Union Hall in Brooklyn. The next morning it was back to the studio with NB and then break and run to play an orchestral gig at Carnegie Hall, all of this within about 3 days time. Whew!
Fortunately this week I have a few days to recover and then in a week it's back to the studio with New Beard, Halloween with Gato Loco de Bajo, then back to Germany for a few more shows with the full Gato Loco.
Lots of things to come... some great media from both New Beard and Gato Loco to be released soon and more shows shows shows with all sorts of bands. Tuba Life is never boring in NYC!
Simple, Post-Summer update:
This time of year is always a point of change and rejuvenation. Leaning into Oktoberfest is always symbolic - it's more than a bier-soaked gropefest powered by Oom and Pah, It's a transition out of the slower moving, fragmented summer into the work-frenzy that Autumn always is for me.
Summer was good, but I am glad the fall is here. As usual, I been working with quite a few bands and ensembles, but here's a few summer highlights from a few of the groups I am more vested in:
Big growth for the indie rock band of New Beard... from the big show we all put on at Littlefield, to the recent pre-hurricane show at Union Hall (which kicked ass!), and Zebulon and others between, that band just keeps getting better (and soon will hopefully release the awesome CD that we spent a year recording...!) The songs and dudes are just great.
I spent a lot of time in the trad trenches with the Red Hook Ramblers... we played all over place, and did several records. Highlights included our residency at Galapagos' Floating Kabarette, and now to add the Way Station. We made a live EP of original tunes recorded direct on to wax cylinder on an original Edison cylinder phonograph from 1908. The Ramblers will also appear in an upcoming episode of TLC's hit TV show "Four Weddings" to air in January.
Gato Loco has been working hard, much of it behind the scenes. We've kept the fire burning around town, but more importantly we've been working on two trips to Europe: Austria in October, then a larger trip in November which includes, Germany, Switzerland, and Holland. We have a number of trips already in motion for 2012. Stay tuned for upcoming media coming from this group!
Stay tuned for updates from NYC's legendary Mösl Franzi and the Ja Ja Jas. This coming Saturday kicks off our rockstar whirlwind that is Oktoberfest. Wish me luck!
Other CDs are coming out or recently came out with me on them: Recordings by Jack Grace, Kiku Collins, Voltaire, and Sabrina Chap' in addition to bands listed above. I go in this week to record another... I don't yet know who it is for!
I am writing about this event after-the-fact as I was so wrapped up in the planning I was not able to do much else beforehand! Last Saturday night, 3 bands (2 of which I am a part of) came together to create a fun event called “Farewell to Normal Scene” this last Saturday night.
This event involved a host of performers: 3 main bands, an acapella ensemble an aerialist, and a cook. It all started about 6 weeks ago, when representatives from New Beard, Yula and the eXtended Family, and Gato Loco, descended on “The Hive”, the Bushwick, Brooklyn lair of my friend Yula Be’eri.
Representatives of each ensemble started to meet about 6 weeks ago and we came up with the concept in a really synergetic way and produced this promotional video.
We booked the show at this beautiful space in Park Slope called Littlefield, and worked it out to rock a Saturday night. The show turned out GREAT. We brought in a great crowd over the course of the night and all 3 bands rocked it. It was a big accomplishment for me as I had not been involved in the production of a big show in quite a while (it's a huge task!)
It was a night of great performances, New Beard emerged from it’s long hiatus with a bang, Yula and her family charmed the crowd, and Gato Loco, was well... Gato Loco! Our aerialist was wonderful, and while we had to squeeze the Bandanna Splits into a different slot, they were charming as well. I thought the whole night really went wonderfully. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. Response was great. Special thanks to Andrew Dunn and Stefan Zeniuk for really digging in and doing a lot of the legwork involved... special thanks to Darren Morze for the sound, Dmitry Drjuchin for the poster, and Caroline Craighead of Craighead and Company for publicity.
The New Beard record was an outrageous process. We started right away, probably a month or two after the first show. We tracked the tuba and the drums directly to tape, right in the heart of indie country, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, USA, 11211.
It was an intense process, it took us a good chunk of a week. Fortunately the studio was very close to a beer hall (just because it's Williamsburg does not mean one has to drink lame PBR!!). We worked like crazy, and it sounded good! We went about it in the traditional *rock* way... doing the drum tracks first, then tracking the bass (in this case, tuba). The drums got the large studio and we tracked the tuba in the un-airconditioned upstairs of the small complex. It was a sweaty process, but that's ok, this is rock after all. We recorded the tuba with a bi-mic setup, which I frequently use in the studio.
Once that was done, they wanted to let the tracks sit for a bit..., but the madness had started! The record grew and grew and Grew and GREW!! This rock band now had an entire orchestra behind it with the arrangements becoming so lush! Tracks were added (all LIVE instruments!) in Brooklyn, Long Island, Yonkers, North Carolina, and later, Sweden! Dunn and Wigler had far outdone themselves! We had also added another member, the backhanded shredder Yazan Shouldertap to fill things out even more.
The sound of the band had grown immensely. Every week more tracks and players were added!! (including some by Gato Loco's Stefan Zeniuk)
This record had turned into a massive project with a massive sound and a honourably massive scope. It became obvious to us all that we needed a set of "outside ears" to unify it.
The Swede Gustav Ejstes and his band Dungen were huge inspirations of New Beard’s basic sound. So, why not just go to the source for this fresh perspective?! Ejstes enthusiastically accepted the band's proposal to mix the record, and not only creatively mixed it, he completely threw himself into the project and even appears on many of the tracks on a host of different instruments. Gustav gave it all a unified sound; a sound which was already organically inferred from the get-go. This full-circle really made it wonderful and only enhanced the heart that Wigler and Dunn, as well as Tony and myself and everyone else had put into it.
Now that the arrangements had metamorphosed to such a size, naturally, the application of the tuba parts had changed a bit. I retracked and retweaked many of the tuba parts right as the record went to mixing, this time with a slightly better bi-mic setup. We tracked it again in Brooklyn, but this time in Carroll Gardens. It was another sweaty process. The results were far better this time around, simply as my role in the band was more defined, my sound better understood, and the songs better ingested.
To add to this great synergy and new energy was the final musical step, the mastering by the legendary Greg Calbi (google it)
On top of the great songs and great vibe of the band, I’m THRILLED about how the tuba sounds! As of recent, on other records with other bands, I’ve had some tragic results with how the tuba tone was mistreated by bumbling engineers post-tracking...once it is officially out of my hands. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have the tuba sound so warm and clear, present but with no edge, even when within a large landscape of hoards of different instruments all rocking simultaneously.
It’ll be a little while before this record goes public. I simply cannot wait to play it for you.
Over the last year I've reasserted my real roots; my rock roots. As a kid brought up on radio, then MTV, rock is a huge part of who I am. As a tuba player, it can be a pain in the ass to assert; not in my own playing as it’s always a part of how I do everything, rather the issue becomes how the instrument is viewed and treated by other musicians. It's difficult at times to get taken seriously and to avoid that expected dopey "schtick"; that common road so many tuba players so easily and expectantly slide down.
Enter NEW BEARD. About a year ago, through a common friend, I was introduced to the songwriting team of Ben Wigler and Andrew Dunn, both formerly of the band Arizona.
Singer-songwriters contact me pretty regularly. Usually it is to add tuba the one or two “different" tracks of their record. It's cool, I don't mind doing it, and have done it on probably a dozen or more different records, and with some wonderful, honest folks.
New Beard was different. They actually wanted a tuba player full-time as the bass player of their band. This idea is not necessarily new, there have been a handful of bands that have done it. This specific situation, however, had a unique honesty about it that really intrigued me. They wanted to rock and were serious about it, and wanted the tuba for what it is: a solid, serious and kickass bass instrument!!
New Beard does rock, and to power the band they have a mighty prog-loving drummer with a right foot that's as fast as hell. Tony Waldman of the band Edensong drove and embraced the tuba vibe right from the very first note. (this is crucial, as the drummer is the #1 factor in how a tuba fits into a band riding the bass role)
The band has an incredible commitment to the music. It rules all. Right off the bat, I realized these guys were for real. They welcomed me with open arms, and made a solid commitment to make the tuba sound RIGHT.
We rehearsed our asses off for the band's first show, which we rocked. The vibe worked. They consequently asked me to join the band, and we soon thereafter headed deep into the trenches to make the RECORD.
Here's a clip from New Beard's very first show ever
On to read about the record...