11-24-96


So, how do I know if anybody's reading this?  I guess it really doesn't matter, because I do it mostly for myself, as an exercise to keep my writing chops up. You never know when I might decide to pursue journalism again. You may not remember, gentle reader, but there was a time in the not-too-distant past that Maestro Minor (that's Mee-NOR) was being published somewhat regularly by the chronicle. My pieces on Unicorn Magic & The Horsies are still making the rounds in their press kits, I'm sure. Since this page is nothing but self-indulgence, anyway, as if anybody really cares about my petty showbiz influence peddling maneuvers, I'll dig up those discs and put the text here.

Meanwhile here is a new update:
I will tell you this, assuming you give a shit. Making a local celebrity out of yourself is as easy as falling off a log around here. All you gotta do is stick around long enough, and keep working at what you do until someone notices. People start whining about how they can't get a gig, or they can't get published, or they can't get a job, and I just tell them,"Be patient. Your time will come." Overnight success is for people in a hurry to be has-beens. Good things come to those who wait.

Special guests galore at the Free-For-All last night. I can't believe we packed it all in. In addition to advertised acts El Insecto and Meredith Miller made impressive showings, and unannounced guests Beaver Nelson, Miles Zuniga, Starfish (with returning Austin drum legend Bryan Bowden), and their new pals This Bike is a Pipe Bomb all contributed to another fantastic night of fun. The show ran surprisingly on-schedule, and I even got a great new t-shirt.
 

Press Release:

I want to get the word out about Rock & Roll Free-For-All compilation #2. So far, I have verbal confirmations from members of these bands or their various side projects-
Spoon, Wookie, Starfish, Damnations, Gourds, Sixteen Deluxe, Monte Warden, Beaver Nelson, Bigfoot Chester, Pocket Fishermen, Drums & Tuba, Dismukes, Dieselhed, Orange Mothers, Earthpig, Argyles, Superego, Fastball, Shindigs, & The Holidays.
The theme of this installment is of course self-indulgence. On my part, I got to pick the bands all by myself this time, and they are all made up of friends of the free-for-all and all would definitely be included under the heading of my personal local favorites. Since I am NOT working with Hamstein on this one or any other corporate broth-spoilers there are no strange publishing agreements or voodoo music-biz contracts for the bands to worry about this time. This also means I have a smaller production budget.
As far as self-indulgence on the bands' parts, I am allowing the bands to pick the song they choose to include with little or no intervention on my part, and I will be including selections from all different recorded media, including four-track, demos, live rehearsal and radio show cuts, and even some selections taped at the free-for-all. It's going to be the most motley hodge-podge you ever heard, but with the help of the geniuses at the Living Room digital mastering studio, I'll get it sounding kick-ass, trust me.

The Deadline for bands to submit their tapes for inclusion on the Free-For-All disc is Christmas.

If you're not on the list, but think you should be, bring me a tape, you never know, I may have just overlooked you even though you're actually one of my new favorite bands. However, if you know that I haven't seen your band, save yourself the trouble. Maybe next year.
The Monte Warden track is a song we wrote together a couple years ago and it features me and a couple Argyles on the session with Tejano accordion sensation Joel Guzman. The Orange Mothers track as well as Monte, Superego and The Argyles are from new sessions at the Living Room. Basically, they are giving me a deal and letting me record some folks to help get the word out about their state-of-the art new studio. The number is 451-0007.

2. Superego will be taking the last two Sundays of 1996 off from the weekly gig to do some holiday shit, finish some projects, do some traveling, and make some money so I can afford to put out the next comp. We will be back with a vengeance in January, and I have made some ambitious resolutions, one of which is "more gimmicky theme shows and hoot nights." They are so much easier to book. For example, ARC owner Wayne Nagel is helping me put together a Stones Hoot night on January 12. His band the Arc-Welders and my cover band the Argyles will be the guest hosts, and I can guarantee some serious guest star action, and a top-notch back-up band. "Superego's Rock & Roll Circus" will also feature a screening of the new Stones film between sets. Jimmy from the Gourds and I have also been talking about doing "A Quick One, While He's Away," so Who knows?"
By the way, the movie is a gas, gas, gas. They were in their preening poseur prime and Beggar's Banquet had just been released, so it rocks. I hope to have Kevin from the Argyles and Superego providing a lot of extra percussion that night, because that definitely seems to be what drives those classic numbers. The dude in the movie on the congas absolutely had his freak on. Also, Pete Gordon (aka Wetdawg) will come off the road with Mojo Nixon to do utility piano on the Hole's new upright that night. He says he plans to brush up his Nicky Hopkins licks.

3. Thanks to the Chronicle for finally getting around to making us "Celis band of the week." They had some personnel changes in the Celis home office, so I was sure our packet got lost in the shuffle. I submitted all that stuff back when I was trying to push the anniversary show in Sept. I'm not complaining about free publicity, but why they had to go and use the old band shot that everybody hates, even though I have given the Chronicle numerous new photos that have the current line-up, I'll never know. Also, that copy was obviously written by some clueless marketing major who has never seen us play, but just pulled some lame bullshit out of our bio. Like Warhol said, "Don't read it, just measure it by the inch."

4. I am all sold out of the "Dope/Hemp in '96" Superego t-shirts. They went fast, and I considered making more, but it seems like old news now that that pesky election has finally disappeared. It was very gratifying, however to run into some folks wearing theirs proudly on election night at the Wilco show. The Hole has a new silk-screen shop as a tenant in the back building, so we'll work with them on the next one.

5. I am maintaining this page on my own now, and I would like it to serve as a newsletter/press release/mailing list type deal. Please tell your friends to check it out. I just bootlegged some cool sound-sampling and mixing software, so I am hoping to put some more sound files on soon. This weekend we had the powerbook on the road with the Argyles, and I sampled some dope beats off the rental car stereo. We had a backbeat and some classic riffs mixed in no time, so maybe some of that will show up here soon. I am also considering uploading some acoustic demos just for fun.

6. MTV's website has Superego's video in their underground music section this month, but I haven't gotten it to work right yet. If you have better luck, let me know. By the way, never trust anything said in the media by members of Buick MacKane about me and video director Tara Veneruso.

7. Portland-based Peter Szymczak, drummer for one of my long-forgotten bands, is helping me with the graphics on the new comp, the lovely Amy Emery will be designing some original art, and Ana Morales, official free for all photo-journalist, is compiling some shots for the cover.

8. Thanks to everyone for their support and gestures of condolence for my recently departed brother Jack. Selections from his extensive rock concert photography will be online here very soon, along with some words of tribute. He was a wonderful guy with a heart of gold, and I miss him.

Jack Wimberly Minor
4-22-58 to 11-11-96

Surely that can't be right, I tell myself as I write this.

I am sitting on a beautiful plaza in Houston with a fountain and a giant peacock made entirely of fertile green vegetation. It is a clear, cool, breezy, twilight evening, and the heavenly glow in the atmosphere has me thinking about how I have would like to write something about my big brother Jack, who passed away last Monday morning after suffering with liver cancer for about a year.

The funeral was Saturday, and I was moved mostly by the crowd that packed the small church on a drizzly weekend morning. There were so many caring folks from so many periods in his life that I couldn't help but think of Jack's favorite movie, "It's a wonderful life" where a decent, righteous, caring guy doesn't realize how many friends he's really got until he gets in some deep shit and they all rally around to save his life.

Except this time there there was no saving the protagonist, because cancer is much meaner than Mr. Potter.

Jack was sick for a long time, but I am determined to remember him by the mental image I have of him as an enthusiastic pursuer of life's most golden dreams. We reminisced alot this week, and in the process I discovered that I was not the only one who had some great stories to tell about my bro. Stories that reinforced the image of the Jack we all know and love, and stories that introduced all of us to new sides of his personality that we might not have been given the opportunity to appreciate.

Jack's interest in computers was something that came about relatively late in his too-short life, but in a way, he was the perfect computer industry consumer. He was new enough at it to be excited by the new technology, and intelligent enough to learn how to best make such a powerful tool pay off for him in enjoyment.

I would like it if others out there would add to this page with their thoughts, and it could stay accessible for a long enough time for those who will no doubt require much longer to gain perspective on his tragic demise will be able to contribute later. I would like people to think of this small bit of memory in cyberspace as a small tribute to a great man, not unlike an online epitaph, or a cosmic shout-out.

I plan to soon undertake the project of cataloging and scanning the slides of Jack's rock & roll photography collection from the 70s. The artists include Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, The Clash, The Ramones, Leon Russell, Bruce Springsteen, and many others I am forgetting. I would hope that I could also gain access to some of the photography he did in the line of duty at the house of reps, since the subjects include such international luminaries as the Queen of England and Governor Ann Richards, not to mention several presidents, actors, politicians and other entertainers.

Jack was not interested in participating in the showbiz moments that he constantly recorded for posterity with his trusty Nikon. He was content to be the medium, which is such an underappreciated and necessarily invisible role in life. Jack's well-developed unflinching eye was the focus through which millions of people have seen some truly grand subjects.

With three energetic, attention-demanding kids like Jack's, I could see how one would want a day at the office to be as smooth a process as possible, and I think that is what he strived for in his work. Unobtrusiveness was his specialty. I would love to hear some more words from people who worked with Jack.

Here is one anecdote I find especially amusing, but it is not especially profound or ironic. It just captures Jack's charm at a particular age, an age well before the bigger threats in life came out to play.  I remember Dad telling me about Jack joining LIttle League at about nine years old. It seems that due to his non-proclivity for the sport he was given the position of right-field. He wore big, nerdy horn-rim glasses and that probably contributed to his skill quotient. He finally came in from a particularly intense barrage of fly balls, and he asked the coach what probably seemed like a sensible request to his young mind.

Jack wondered if it would be o.k. for him to wear protective gear like the catcher.

I really wished I could have given Jack some extra-strength protective gear this past year, he could have used it.

So look, I am just thinking out loud here, but I know that Jack would not want a lot of hoopla surrounding any kind of enterprise regarding his photography work. I honestly don't know how good it is, since I am sure I have family bias, but I am reasonably sure that the guy was a pro at his work, and everything I have seen is of the rare, straightforward, honest quality that I tend to appreciate in all forms of art.

Anyway, I won't be advertising this, but I would like to give people the opportunity to acquire some of his work and either donate the proceeds to Jack's children's college funds or the American Cancer Society. I would hope that being able to enjoy a high-quality printed and matted photo by Jack would be worth at least covering the cost.

So the catalog should be appearing here very soon. Watch this space and tell anyone who might be interested that some of the photos will be here for all to enjoy for free.

Most of all, Jack was just a great guy.

More tributes and obituary items can be read on  Jack Minor, Sr.'s webpage.
 

CD Saga and Pre-SXSW Update


2-27-97

Dear co-conspirators,
It's been a hectic month, but the fruits of all of our collective labor are soon to be realized. The free for all vol. 2 compilation is already back from the manufacturer and will be delivered to local retail outlets and our regional distributor Crystal Clear sometime in the first week of March. The art and graphics came out great and I could not be prouder. It features 22 songs by 21 of my favorite Austin bands, and it will be 10 bucks a pop.

Check out the Free-For-All Vol. 1 Page for grisly details of the production of the first compilation...
 

FFA Vol 2.  Production Notes (or "Anti-Technology Manifesto part 1")



You could not imagine the logistics involved with compiling, mixing and mastering 21 different tapes, but suffice to say that I will be happy not to have to work on a project of this magnitude again for at least 6 months. I am already considering the next project, because I plan to continue pursuing my entrepreneurial visions into the next millenia. (Unless of course the great white comet destroys us all and assimilates our collective consciousnesses into its own greater truth, which would be cool, I guess). Yes, dear readers, I want to be part of the solution. On his deathbed, Bill Hicks told his parents to keep spreading his message as long as anyone cared. In case anyone wonders what my message is after I am gone, it can be found in between the lines of the liner notes and grafitti and press clippings of all this text. Allow me to spell it out for you: "All things are possible when humans cooperate to bring about their ideas."
I have had some decent ideas and some of them I have even followed through on. This latest project has been quite the learning experience.

Here's a short outline of the process, in case you care:
In December, I got the word out through the grapevine and the media that I was taking submissions from bands that had played the free for all. The phone started ringing like crazy. I started telling people to get their shit together by christmas, and the disc would be mastered by Feb. 1. 
As of New Years, I still had not received any tapes from the bands, so with the holidays finally over, and all the party gigs behind me, I got on the horn and started making connections to get the master tapes. I also scheduled remixing sessions for several of the bands that had unfinished projects. The tapes started trickling in and I started a file, actually an old manila envelope, of the master dats and cassettes. 
Meanwhile, superego still had not recorded a track for the disc, and there were several songs by other bands that had been recorded at the Living Room (the digital editing and mastering facility owned by my other band the argyles) but were yet to be mixed. The sessions kept getting canceled because the studio was expecting shipment of some new equipment, including a brand new yamaha automated digital mixing console, and it was already two weeks late. While we waited for that stuff, we did a couple of sessions with the old gear, but every time we had to patch in the old equipment, it was a sticky problem for the engineers to get everything hooked up right. So here I am with a looming deadline, and a studio that is halfway disassembled and in a constant state of transition. 
Needless to say, some stress was building over the project.
Once the shiny new board was hooked up, several sessions got canceled because of bugs in the new system. It works in conjunction with a hard drive editing system called sonic solutions, and that works together with the adat digital tape machines to put the music together. They had to send one mixing board back and get a loaner, then the brain that controls the adats ended up being fried. 
Pocket Fishrmen guitarist and digital audio guru Cris Burns came to the rescue for the first of many times to get the adats working, and we were back in business, albeit about 12 days behind schedule.
During the midst of all this chaos, I am still working my 40 hour gig at the state school, and after my shift ends at 11, I would show up at the studio hoping to find out good news about the state of the project. While Bryan and John worked out the kinks with the gear and the patch cables, I worked the phones and started making drafts of the liner notes and graphics on my powerbook. I had a rough idea of the art layout, and I took several rolls of mediocre photos of hole in the wall landscape, but was not satisfied. Paul Ahern of the Adults offered to take time out of his own busy schedule (maintaining the sxsw webpage for one thing) and took some great shots of the club, which he got developed and brought to me at work. Roommate Amy Emery did several versions of the monotype print from my photograph of the hole that adorns the front cover. The smashed guitar on the back was destroyed by our old buddy Jacob Schulze and hangs on the wall behind the stage with his autograph. I used photoshop to replace "dismukes" with "free for all" on the bumper sticker, and I got a real nice scanner from a mail order catalog, did the scans myself, and then sent the scanner back just under the thirty day money back guarantee deadline. 
Finally the day arrived when it was time to cut the Superego track. We did the basics with just drummer Kevin "Tweaker" Pearson and me in the studio, and without the distractions of the rest of the band, we got the first basic take so fast we decided to cut another song. I had been asked to contribute a track for a german compilation, so we figured we could submit them both. 
We did Andrew's pumping bass, Jonny's super tasty acoustic track and lead guitar, and vocal overdubs over a couple of subsequent sessions, and on one saturday in late january, we mixed superego and four other bands' songs in one long session from various tapes. Starfish came over with their four-track, as did the Jimmy from the Gourds one blustery night, and Jacob from Dismukes dragged in an old tascam 4 track reel to reel. Needless to say, much alcohol, tobacco, caffiene, grease, and other lubricants were involved. 
All the tracks finally in the can, we assumed the mastering would be a slam dunk on the fancy hardware. It wasn't. 
With only a couple days left before the Feb. 1 deadline, we started learning the hard way that audio mastering is a mysterious and scary little world that can drive you mad very quickly. Why? Basically, because there is only so much sound volume you can produce before your signal starts to degenerate, and I wanted this cd to be as loud as the fuckin' foo fighters last disc. I hate that feeling when the cd you have been toiling over comes back from the manufacturer and you pop it in to find that it is only half as dynamic as your storebought cds, which are totally tricked out with all the tools of the trade to make them come blasting out of your box. 
The long and short of it is, don't even try to "DIY" this part of the process unless you have access to a studio that has the most kick-ass vintage analog compression and preamplification coupled with the most state of the art digital peak limiting processors. We tried everything, even sending the whole sequence out of the computer and on to a half inch reel to reel deck, just trying to squeeze more sound out of it. The best we could do with our limited gear was a disc that sounded comparatively loud next to the storebought ones, but had slight moments of staticky digital distortion that was not very noticable on most cd players, but definitely there. It's all about those pesky little peaks, man. They drove me batty. 
The upside of all these delays was that we were able to add three more last minute bands: Hot Wheels, Sunshine, and Silver Scooter. The disc ends up being 73 minutes and 51 seconds long, which is 9 seconds under the limit of a recordable disc master. I alerted the media of the latecomers and got a little mileage out of it, especially since Silver Scooter had a big write up in the XL.
Frustrated with the lackluster mastering results, I came to the studio at midnight on a brisk wet night to give the somewhat demoralized and disgruntled engineer the news that expert help would have to be enlisted. I took the cleanest master we could produce over to Cris Burns facility, where we ran it through his "L1 Look-ahead peak limiter"program in an addled, hallucinatory all-night session. I emerged from his cave at 7 am with a finished cd, and took it straight over to the manufacturer, where he reassured me the delivery date of March 3rd could still be accomplished. I immediately went home and crashed into a deep peaceful winter slumber, the job finally finished, I thought. 
The phone rang at around 3, which is fortunate, because I had to be at work and the alarm had not woke me. It was the engineer, telling me the manufacturer had called and said there was a problem with the master disc. It wouldn't copy in their disc drive. That night after work, Bryan took the cd from Cris' place, recopied it into the sonic solutions system, reset all the index points, and made me one last, perfect, pristine, stompin' cd.
With the final master cd being processed, and no bad news, we turned to the next deadline, the artwork. After several drafts and visits to the art department of the manufacturer, sound recorders, where professional graphics expert Robert graciously allowed me to peer over his shoulder, I finally approved the final liner notes and tray card art via fax as The Argyles loaded the truck for a friday evening gig. Sound Recorders owner Matt Wiedemann asked me if I was absolutely sure there were no more typos or missing credits on the final proofs, and I gave him the word to send it to press, and then we went and played the gig.
It is now 10 o'clock on the 26th of February, sxsw is two weeks away, and the discs will be here next week.
Now all I gotta do is promote the fucker. Journalists representing the chronicle, the statesman, arena, mike's feedback, no depression, and texas beat are in possession of advance copies and most plan to run items before the conference, so watch those spaces. We have done interviews and had airplay of the advance copies on KLBJ, KUT, 101X, KVRX, and KGSR already thus far, thanks to Jeff Johnston, Andy Langer, Loris Lowe, and Angie Edwards, and the following events are scheduled:

Fri, Feb. 28-KGSR: Kevin Connor's Local Show at 7 pm will run a taped interview and several songs in conjunction with texas "independents" day.
Fri. Mar. 5th - Angie's Local Show on KVRX will feature an interview and some cuts. Sunday, March 9- Free For All record release party, hole in the wall, over half the bands on the record are confirmed to appear. Which half, who knows? I am too sick of logistics to pin it down any more than that. It will be a clusterfuck, rest assured.
Saturday, March 15 - Superego will appear on AM-15 Live on the Air from the Sxsw convention hall at 4:30.
Saturday, March 15, 6 pm. - Damnations, Earthpig and Superego will entertain at an invitation-only cd release barbecue at the Nickel & Dime Records World Headquarters, which has its new home at 4618 Bennett just off of airport and 45th. Bring your own fun (this is your invitation).
Sunday, March 16 - Superego showcases at the hole in the wall at 11 pm.
Friday, April 4th - Free for All in-store at Tower records on Guadalupe, 3 pm. Acts TBA. Possible show at Hoel that night.
May 2nd - Cd release show at Liberty Lunch with Superego and others.
May 13th - CD release show at Stubbs with Superego and more...

All the people mentioned in this synopsis deserve a very special gesture of gratitude for their having to put up with me at my pushiest during this process.

Another persistent little project of late has been the p.a. system at the hole, which I basically got so sick of hearing that I decided to make some improvements on my own. If you are interested in the technical aspects, here's a quick run-down: 
The place could use a soundman. It has always been impossible to optimize the vocal level throughout the room to match the volume of most of the bands without creating a feedback-prone, distorted wall of noise. I think that with the new gear we installed this week through a painstaking process of replacing all of the drivers and crossover components in the existing set of p.a. cabinets and adding a second, smaller pair of speakers in a wider range of the room, Austin's most well-established live music venue should get the most efficient use out of the fender mixer and the new CS-800 poweramp and stereo 16 band graphic eq. The idea is that we could eventually tweak out the trouble frequencies in the room and be able to hear bright, clear vocals throughout the space. I appreciate the Damnations willingness to be guinea pigs for the new speakers I was trying out Tuesday night, delivered by an old-school Jam Scam pal of mine Ronnie "James" Dittmar). Everyone agreed that once the feedback was corralled (mostly by the heroic efforts of ARC technician David Green) their stellar vocals came through loud and clear. Rob Bernard's banjo picking adds a souped up hillbilly flavor to their sound these days and with a decent preamp he'll be in business. I am in the process of showing all the doormen how to work the new knobs, but the idea is that the e.q. and power amps would remain unaccessible to the bands during the show. We also hope to see some new electrical work done behind the stage for some clean new circuits. It has become a project, so I won't quit until it's up to at least my low standards.
By the way, videos for a couple songs on the comp are in the planning phase, as well as some sort of short-form free-for-all rockumentary for cable, but don't hold your breath. I was all high on digital desktop video editing for awhile, but it got real expensive real quick. The extra memory requirements and huge storage capacity shoots your start-up cost way up right out of the gate.
I 'll stick to Super 8 thank you. The newest technology is the worst technology, because like the synthesizers of the 80s and the grunge of the 90s, it is immediately dated and obsolete before it even impacts and proves worthy of preservation.
My Uncle Chuck sent me a great-sounding vintage 50 watt bassman head, so anyone with a cabinet for sale let me know. Alan Durham at Moneytakers on Lamar is the best vintage tube amp technician in town, plus his able assistant Jeff Johnston makes the visit so much less painful.
By the way, Steven Doster and Buick MacKane's new albums are both damn excellent. My hat goes off to bassist Dave Fairchild for his phenomenal work as the drive behind that band of colorful characters, and Steven Doster is a true saint for letting me and all those other young upstarts abuse his custom made Newman Jones Special guitar at all those years of Sunday night jams on 6th street back in the day. I used to whip out a mean "Bang a Gong," on a band that sometimes included Van Wilks, Tommy Taylor, and a Sexton or two. Buy me a beer and I will tell you about the time I jammed with Doster, Miles Zuniga, and Cheap Trick's Robin Zander at Steambone one unforgettable summer night back in the innocent Austin "pre-slacker" days.
Gotta fly now...See you at SXSW. Look for a coupon in the Chronicle for a free cd at the conference. I am gonna give 'em away like candy...


Again, and I am not kidding when I say this, "These are the good times...."

(and remember: "You create your own destiny...")





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