Sunday, September 14, 2014

Farewell to My California Family: Departing Words and Melt Down From A Music Blogger in Exile


This following was written on notebook paper on Tuesday July 29th, 2014. I am choosing not to edit it as it is a reflection of how I was feeling that day so there is a fair amount of random thoughts and badly written syntax.

Today, on D day (Departure Day) my mind is reeling in a bipolar sort of way. Part of me feels as giddy as a travel log and part of me as empty as a suicide note. I have practically lived in Southern California my entire life and at this moment am speeding down highway 40 traversing an almost straight line to Flowery Branch, Georgia with wife, daughter, dog and cat all crammed in a mid-sized SUV. This journey started off roughly with a dead battery and a few hours later with my epic melt down. I am an extremely emotional man and father who is leaving 2 of my 3 kids behind to continue to pursue their lives in the Sunshine State. It must be said that these "kids" are adults. My daughter and son are in their twenties. We are such a close family. I am 56 years old and I knew that moving far away from them would be very difficult but I could not imagine how it would really feel until today when my heart has been ripped in two.

Maybe in an attempt to reverse time and undo all the months of planning and promises made to my employer, wife and daughter (who is going on this trek with me and who is so excited to attend UNG) I literally lost it. I felt as numb as the dullest headache and as manic as what I imagine a psychotic episode to be. I felt, truly, like I abandoned my kids and yes, even though they are fully into adulthood, they will always be my kids to love, cherish and hold onto. Now I knew I would not be able to hold them except for visits, 1 or 2 or 3 times a year. While I would rather not get into all the sordid details of this breakdown or my "episode" as it will likely be referred to for years to come, it involved a lot of vacant stares out of the car window and weeping.

My lovely wife came to the rescue and elected to drive the majority of the first leg of the first day's drive while I "composed" myself and in so doing I am composing this post. I know that over time I will feel better that I have to but now and I imagine over several weeks the sadness will come and go. Much of this is all too sensitive for this platform but it had to be shared at least a little bit. I will do my utmost to love and nurture my Cali kids from afar as I will love and nurture the daughter who is within arm's reach.

For the last 3 years, 6 months and 15 days I have been maintaining this blog. The name came from my son. Once while we were making homemade pancakes he asked jokingly, "Is that an American Pancake?" and a blog was born. I have referred to it as my shitty little music blog and it is just that. While I had early on aspirations to be a Buzzbands or something similar I soon found out that was not going to happen. I didn't have the sheer energy while working long hours at my day job. Still the blog has afforded me countless exciting memories.

I am a hack photographer and there are so many great photographers out there that my focus has been videoing bands. Nothing fancy, raw unedited videos shot full of flash pans and the best angles I could hit in an attempt to capture the energy of the live performance. Key in that was a camera that shot pretty good sound. I settled on an FZ100 Lumix fixed lens with a 25 optical zoom. These videos end up on my YouTube channel.

Being the oldest guy in the room has also been interesting. It has never been detrimental at normal venues but at some of the more underground shows I seemed to be cause for concern. One time at VLHS in Pomona, a girl who was obviously pretty buzzed kept coming up to me in a near panic saying, "You're freaking me out" (as she locked eyes with me) "You're a cop right??"  Another time when I was more dressed up than usual at the Echo, this kid kept looking at me and finally asked if I was the owner (what??). "No, just a blogger" I answered. He looked kind of disappointed.

Overall though, kids of all ages have fully embraced me in the indie scene and treated me with respect and a sense of fun. I have found common ground speaking to musicians about music based on my experiences too. I think the fact that I was involved in bands during the late 70's and early 80's which is one of those pivotal times in music that has shaped the indie sound of today in some ways has helped me make an almost instant connection with some musicians I speak with. I guess the ever-present camera bag hasn't hurt either.

I am truly going to miss the So Cal indie music scene and the great venues but most importantly it has been the gracious and inspiring musicians, promoters, bloggers, photographers and music fans who I will miss the most. I want to say a fond farewell to those of you who I have had the great fortune of sharing a smile with.

I did the standard male head nod to the prolific music writer and great photographer Philip Cosores back in 2009 at the secret FYF Peter Bjorn and John show. Ever since he has always been a cool guy to hang with at shows and provided me with valuable advise and resources. He is a smart guy and passionate about what he does. At times, he seems to be omnipresent. He writes for so many publications. Take care dude. Early on, I believe (at a Ty Segall) show I met Ben Irwin, Editor in Chief at Pinpoint Music, blogger and photographer who has always been a real cool guy as well with a big heart. At the Peter, Bjorn and John show I also met the talented and very cool Jamie Margolin from CatJam Studio. He then served as producer on the documentary "Peter, Bjorn and John: Digging Deeper" and I was fortunate enough to lend some of my video footage of the show to the piece and even received mention in the credits as did Alyssa Holland who shot photos at that show. That first year it was also a thrill to meet and speak with Ty Segall, Marissa Paternoster, Katy Goodman as well as Peter, Bjorn and John. All truly sweet people.

Besides covering shows, it has always been a focus of mine to review albums of merit that larger blogs may be (for whatever reason) paying little attention to. So many of those bands have shot me great notes of appreciation and I love that. You guys know who you are.

In 2011- I interviewed Crystal Antlers. I had gotten Bells Palsy which caused half my face to kind of droop and that affected my speech pattern. I almost called off the interview because of this bit of bad luck but pressed onward. The interview turned out great and after so many CA concerts it has always been a pleasure running into and speaking with Jonnny, Kevin and Andrew (not to mention Andrew's lovely girlfriend who is one of the sweetest people on planet Earth).  Another band that was so fun to interview is Kera and the Lesbians who are truly sweet and special people. Daiana Feuer, Executive Editor for LA Record, music writer for LA Weekly, The Los Angeles Times and more and singer / songwriter /ukelele player for the weirdly wonderful Bloody Death Skull has always been super cool allowing me to write some reviews for LA Weekly and inviting me to cover the New Los Angeles Folk Festival which she founded. I have admired her from afar for her ability to multi-task with her own unique exuberance and I hope our paths cross in the future. Thanks so much to Sheri and Joe for giving their time, their support to those who matter to them and opening their home to the DIY music scene in LM. That is no small task.

There are so many fun times and memories from FYF, Burgerama and Viva Pomona shows. Thanks to Sean Carlson for press creds as well as Burger Record's Sean Borhman who has sweetly built better musical mousetraps and people come in droves. When I think of Burger I also think of Bobby May who is one hell of a nice guy who always remembers my name. Love that guy. I will also miss seeing Rene Contreras who has forever coupled Viva and Pomona together. You can't think of one without the other. I remember being amazed at all the different sections of LA I would see him even when I knew he didn't have a vehicle. Hard working and doing it for all the right reasons.

When I think of Fullerton, California I think of Audacity and Canyons. I have been writing about both bands since the beginning of this blog.  Audacity has found that large audience and Canyons with their devoted fan base can too if they so desire. I will always feel a kinship with Canyon's Nicholas, Maegen and Jeremy.

Part of covering shows is being in the photo pit. I have always considered myself to be an interloper and pretender for the simple reason that I am not a skilled photographer. Yes I know how to compose a shot but haven't the foggiest notion how to take a great picture. I am a guy with a camera shooting video and in so doing has had a blast and met some really cool people in the process like Tiffany Luong, Austin Bauman and Marisa Rose and the ever fun loving bear hug of a man, Sammy Dorian Perez who is also the drummer in Melted. Thanks to Preston Thalindroma from Say Cheese and Die, Ivette Orenos from Grimy Goods and Joshua Lovelife from the Hear Gallery who helped me out in the past. After meeting Sounds of Noise in Pomona I got together with Paul, Eddie and Eric to shoot some music videos. Good times guys. See you on the other side someday. Gianna Gianna from BLOK is a classy young lady who knows the importance of family and being able to re-imagine her life the way she wants it to be. Stay true and thanks for lively chats.

Some of my favorite videos I have shot are of Pangea, yeah I will always refer to them that way. The Together tagged on in front just doesn't feel right. I don't know William and Danny well but we have shared some cool conversations here and there and shooting their shows is always fun. Early on I met audio engineer and producer Andrew Schubert while he was working with Pangea and God Equals Genocide.  What an absolutely sweet and genuine guy. I have always enjoyed seeing him at local shows and chatting awhile. Shooting The Garden, always a trip. Wide Streets are a band that I champion. Reviewed their last two albums and vowed to do a video interview with them but it never happened. Maybe some day if they tour on the east coast.

I really enjoyed interviewing Roses, such nice guys and I wish them all the success they desire. Good luck to Michael Christopher Morin who promotes the best shows and is involved with many bands and always made me feel welcome. Every time I would run into Aaron Paustian I would feel like my creative spirit was lifted a bit. A talented photographer and director and one hell of a mustache grower.

If American Pancake was a late night talk show then the house band would clearly be The Lovely Bad Things. For purely artistic and personal reasons they are a band that is closest to me and themselves closest to a nuclear family that you will ever meet. Lauren and Brayden, the cool parents and Cam and Tim the mischievous kids. I love them with all my heart will miss them so much.

So many more people I could mention who have made the California experience sweeter. You all keep pursuing your dreams. Someone once said that if you are doing what you love to do you will never work a day of your life. Words to live by.

Rock on and see you sooner or later on this shitty little blog.-

Robb








Crystal Antlers. I am holding up the wall.



















Kera and the Lesbians Interview






Me in the blue beanie shooting
Pangea at Burgerama 3













With Sea of Bees (Julie Ann Baenziger) 














Shooting Sounds of Noise Music Video




















Mac DeMarco at Burgerama 3

September 2014 Exiled in Flowery Branch, Georgia


4 comments:

  1. Wow! So beautifully written and literally made me cry like a baby. The selfless and endless love, support and encouragement you have given, not only to our own, but to all of the young, up and coming musicians is so admirable. You have documented their memories and gave them recognition they may never have received otherwise. Some may have given up and never continued to pursue their dreams, if not for you and your "shittty little blog" You and your family will sorely be missed by so many! Looks like I am going to have to step up my game in the video department haha. PLEASE continue to write, photograph and video the new, the established and the undiscovered for all of our viewing and listening pleasure! We wish you great success and happiness In Georgia, though somehow I think we will see you all soon. :)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words. I know you and Joe have given of yourself to you know who as well as so many of the local bands / kids etc. The experience has enriched my life as I know it has yours and obviously I hope I have enriched some of these bands lives. I totally plan on continuing with the blog. The balancing act between work and play has been difficult so far but things will calm down. I am also hoping to set up a community of writers to work with in California, New York and Georgia so I can spread out the work / play load. I literally get submissions daily for review and cannot keep up. Plus I would like for other people to do a bulk of the live show reviews. In the end the blog should keep growing and all the while I will seriously miss California and my Cali family.

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  2. Music is a great thing, music and movement go together: Children naturally respond to music by moving and being active. Music helps children learn about rhythm and develop motor coordination.
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  3. So sad I wont be seeing your bald head around shows anymore :'( but I'm excited for you and your next adventures in a new area and era of your life! You're the man! Come back and visit and we'll hang out in the press pit for Burgerama 2k15! Love ya Robb!

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