While the Cat’s Away…

Hello friends, the internet at our house is finally up and has been functioning consistently since Tuesday. After I watched the five billion episodes of In Plain Sight  on Netflix instant view that it took me to get my mountain of untamed laundry under control and put away, I decided to tackle one of  the next big items on my list: catch up on my blog.

The Sarah Mac Band is unified on all fronts—including coordinated, intercontinental midnight showings of the final installment of the Harry Potter movie franchise.

Some of you may already know, the Sarah Mac Band is on a little break this week and next because Charlie is out of town. He is currently in Cambodia visiting his daughter. Actually, at the moment, he’s in Thailand because there are no movie theaters in Cambodia and the Vantures needed to see the latest Harry Potter release (some things take priority in life, folks!!). None the less, he’s out of commission as far as the Sarah Mac Band goes, although Claire and I did receive an email about booking from him yesterday: “Can one of you guys respond to this? My internet is spotty here.” Hmmm… that must be why neither of us ever got an email saying that they had arrived safely and that everything was okay after getting a cryptic text message about their flights getting delayed and the expectation of not making their Tokyo leg… and we had to stalk his son’s girlfriend yesterday to find out what the deal was…

Not cool, Chuck.

I’m just saying… Everyone here knows that I’m a worrier. I’m glad that Tommy’s girlfriend knew that they were safe because I had pretty much decided that they had been abducted somewhere between Atlanta and Siem Reap, and we should be looking now for their organs and passports on the Southeast Asian black market. I was already Googling the phone number of the nearest Interpol office to report them missing and start the investigation and the search and recovery mission for the remains. The only plus side to that scenario is that Claire and I made it very clear to Charlie that if  he does die while in Asia, that we’re selling all of his musical equipment to pay off any outstanding debts and expenses that come with closing up shop. And then we’d probably keep the extra to make up for the fact that we haven’t drawn any kind of respectable salary from the Sarah Mac Band in a long time… er… ever, really.

Anyway, with Claire and I decided to make good on the old adage, “while the cat’s away, the mice will play.” Without Charlie there to cramp our style, we loaded up our friend Leon Anderson and headed to the studio to put the finishing touches on a few new tracks that will be added to the growing body of work currently titled (but eventually will be re-titled): Late 2011 or Early 2012 New Album.

Equally important studio activities: drumming and cross-stitching.

Once the recording was done, we got to hang out for a bit and catch up. Even a month later, I’m still sort of high from my trip to Colorado for the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, so even though Leon was packed up and ready to go, I had to ask one last question since the festival piqued my fascination on the subject.  I was legitimately curious about the answer and then had a whole list of other questions if Leon answered as I expected that he would: “Leon, since you’re kind of a big deal jazz drummer and you always know people that we see on tv…. Do you by any chance know Futureman?”

Futureman: I’m not really sure what his deal is. I think that he might be a genius. He might also be kind of crazy. And contrary to how he often dresses, I’m pretty sure that he’s not a pirate or homeless.

Leon affirmed that they knew each other. I got the impression that it was more of a professional association and less of a “we’re the kind of friends that have each other over for dinner once a month to catch up” relationship. But none the less, Leon knows him. So, since I’m ridiculously curious, I started peppering him with all kinds of Futureman questions.

Either Leon knows me a whole lot better than I think that he does and he was trying to shut me down so that he could leave, or I was being a whole lot more intense than I thought I was and gave him the wrong idea, but he totally stopped me short with, “You know, Sarah, I think that he does have lots of girlfriends…” [Further explanation just in case you aren’t reading that sentence the same way it is in my head: The ellipsis at the end of the quote shows that Leon trailed off and let the sentence hang, insinuating that I could maybe date Futureman.]

“What the Jimmy? First of all, that dude is way too old for me! Second of all, he’s a little bit strange. And on top of all of that, I’m totally a one man kind of girl and if Ed Harris knew what you were suggesting, Leon, he would totally break both of your wrists so that you can’t play drums anymore.”

After he got done laughing at me (Claire did, too.), Leon said, “Yeah, the Telluride Bluegrass Festival… that place has a cool vibe. You know, lots of jazz musicians dig bluegrass.”

“Why yes, Leon. I am now aware of that as from the stage, Futureman gave us all a rudimentary jazz history lesson where he said, ‘Jazz and bluegrass is [sic] kissing cousins.’”

This led to an interesting, vivid conversation (that I may be about to completely bastardize in my attempt to synopsize) about American music as a whole—jazz, blues, and bluegrass. Leon talked about how they originated in different places in America with different groups of people, but that they still have some common elements, even down to the types of phrasings in musical riffs. Another thing he mentioned that struck me was that musicians of those styles of music are largely unskilled and self-taught because the music is a “lifestyle music” written into and birthed out of the DNA of the culture instead of the kind that you would learn in formal lessons.

Shut the front door! That is for real Sarah Mac and Jerry Douglas standing there together. Bela Fleck was on the other side of me, but he stepped out of the photo. Not kidding.

Unfortunately, hearing that was a bit discouraging. If you heard the guys that I heard in Telluride playing bluegrass music and learned that they were unskilled, self-taught musicians, you would never even LOOK at an instrument again for shame. Leon assured me, “No way man, by the time they get to that realm, they’re well trained. Even though they play bluegrass, they really can play anything.” He then proceeded to tell Claire and me about the time that “this guy who plays that kind of guitar with that bluegrass girl who plays violin” [translation: Jerry Douglas, who often plays dobro with Alison Krauss and Union Station] sat in with him and his band. “We were playing jazz songs, but that cat kept up with us and he was good. He was crazy all over the place on that guitar.”

Whatever Leon, so what if you played with Jerry Douglas? Did you run into him on the street in Colorado and shake his hand and get your picture taken and then were so star struck that you walked away without every thinking of telling him that you were in a band and he should love your band? Probably not.

Boom! Sarah Mac= 1. Leon Anderson= 0. Try again, son.

Since we’re all about big deal people and rock stars tonight, here’s another photo from the bluegrass festival.  This is when my super loud friend Heidi got shushed by the Decemberists as she was talking at the side of the stage during Sara Watkins’ set. Heidi doesn’t know a Decemberists’ song from a Bangles’ song, but she remembered what they looked like from the “this is what you need to know about music” lesson that I gave her. So in response to their “shussing” she said, “Oh my gosh! My friend totally loves your band. I’ll be quiet if you give me your best hippy-man poses and let me take a picture.”

 Hang on folks, I’m circling for my landing. Really, I am.

There are a couple of things I missed while I was without internet that I wanted to make sure that you were aware of.

·cool·video·

 Our friend Jer made another video of a bunch of extra footage that we had laying around. The audio and most of the video for this were recorded at the From the Heart of Sopchoppy Studios in Sopchoppy, FL. We were playing a gig across the street and after wards, we stopped in and did a few live tracks. In spite of the fact that it was probably about 2:30 in the morning, it was really fun and the recordings sounded great.  I thought that it was especially fitting to include it in this blog entry since tonight, we’re all about roots music and this song is all acoustic and “agricultural.” Enjoy!

·newspaper·article·

 Somebody please tell Leon that the Sarah Mac Band is a big deal, too. At least in small circles… like Mama Bear’s exercise class ladies!! Our local paper did a fancy article on us. It’s actually quite impressive and it makes me feel super-legit. I’ll go ahead and let you know before you read it that I’m back on the booze train– and if we’re being honest, I was just about as soon as I stopped taking painkillers after my surgery last winter. I mean, I’m not like a raging lush or anything, it’s just that I feel like if this relationship is going to go any farther, we should be honest with each other.  I currently drink alcohol and consume quite a bit of caffeine (you’ll have to read the article to understand what I’m referencing). And yes… I used to be blonde. Like probably 6 months ago. I promise that it wasn’t long enough ago for everyone to have forgotten already!!

·other·updates·

 As soon as Charlie gets back from Cambodia, we’re hitting the road for some Georgia dates and then have a relatively busy Fall schedule. Check the website  for the latest in our tour dates. You should also check back at least once a week to see the latest “Question of the Week” video. We’re answering fan questions via video and posting a new one once a week… until we run out of questions, I guess. So, keep the questions coming because they’re kind of fun.

Okay, that’s it for me. I’m out. Let’s see if I can sleep tonight…

Rock steady, folks.

-SM

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2 responses to “While the Cat’s Away…

  1. Don’t forget to check “Update/Catch-up Blog” off your list! ; ) xx00

  2. Sorry mom, didn’t know I was supposed to call. We are fine and except for a close call crossing the Cambodian – Thai border we are fine. (man am I glad Sally speaks Khmer) and yes we did see harry potter in Bangkok. But everybody died in the end. Is that the same ending you got in america?

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