Friday, June 25, 2010

How I Roll

When we left the States about 5 years ago one of my favorite bits of slang was, "That's just how I roll." What a great saying. So, here's a little insight into how I roll.

At the beginning of the week I received an invitation on Facebook from world class Argentinian drummer Hernan Hecht. He is on a week long tour with tenor sax man Cristian Mendoza and Roberto Blanco on the keys.

Last night they were playing at La Encrucijada Jazz Club in Queretaro, QRO. about a 2 hour drive south of Guanajuato. I sent Hernan an email asking if I could sit in with the group and he agreed. Now, I have only met Hernan once about a year ago after a concert he performed in Irapuato, GTO. Besides being a monster drummer, Hernan is also a very warm and welcoming cat.

So, yesterday evening I packed up my trumpet, mutes, and camera and headed off to the big city of Queretaro. Going off the only directions I had (the name of the club) I drove straight to the heart or centro of Queretaro, found a place to park, got out and started asking people for directions. After 15 minutes or so of searching I finally found a taxi driver who knew where La Encrucijada was. I followed him there and payed him his $50 pesos (about $4.25 US) and I went inside.

La Encrucijada is a very cool club. Actually it is 2 very cool clubs. You first walk into the Rock House, the larger of the 2 venues, that has a stage for a 7 piece rock band and enough room to seat 300'ish. Walk through the Rock House out into an open air patio area that connects you with the more intimate Jazz Club that seats about 70. I introduced myself to the owner David and the guys in Hernan's group. They set up for a quick sound check. I got up and played on the 2nd tune of the sound check. All of the guys liked it and they invited me to play for the rest of the evening.

It was a very fun night of playing. Hernan just kills it. He sounds so good. Cristian and Roberto too. We used no music and just played. I had a blast. Fun making up harmony parts to the tenor lines. I love the sound of the trumpet and tenor together.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Yesterday I had a great time rehearsing with Heie Boles (world famous puppeteer) and the members of "Fiatti Scorrevole", Cuauhtemoc Trejo flute, Hector Fernandez oboe, Hugo Manzanilla clarinet for our upcoming show this Saturday at the Casa Simurgh in Valenciana.

I am playing, both with my trumpet and with a very small amount of acting, the part of "El Negro", a jazz trumpet player from New Orleans. If you're in town don't miss this show. It should be a very good one.

Directions to Casa Simurgh under the "Locations" link on the left side of the page.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Last Wednesday I went for an inspiring bike ride with my good friend Leigh Stowell. We rode less than 2 miles up and back on the paved road leading to Trinidad, GTO (off the main road to San Miguel). It may not sound very inspiring until you know that the big guy in the foto straddling his bike with the super happy grin on his face, 1 year ago was laying in a hospital bed completely paralyzed.

It was a little over a year ago when I heard the news of Leigh's sudden sickness. I was not overly concerned. The doctors said that most people who had what Leigh had were able to make a full recovery. Leigh is one of, if not the most, positive people I have ever met. I knew that if anyone could fight back Leigh would be the guy. He is, I would say about 99% back. During the ride he told me he only has feeling in the back half of his feet (his toes are basically the last little bit he has yet to recover). Riding along next to him, I tried to imagine what it would be like if I could only feel the back half of my feet. I couldn't.

Thanks for the inspiration Leigh.

Glad you're back on the bike.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Open Water Swim Club

Yesterday the Guanajuato Open Water Swim Club had it's first official swim. The Guanajuato Open Water Swim Club started out of a desire of mine to swim outdoors in a natural setting.

Tuesday we piled into my '88 4x4 Suburban and headed up to the mountains above Santa Rosa GTO. Presa Peralillo (in the above foto) is a nice clean mountain lake and a great place for a swim. 7 people were in attendance and 6 of the 7 got in the water, Ernie was to busy taking fotos. I told Ernie, "No worries" the Swim Club has no swimming requirements. It was a beautiful day. The water was very fresh. Several of us swam a ways out in the lake before returning to the warmth of our awaiting towels. It is slightly different swimming at around 9,000 feet elevation. I am hoping that we start making this a weekly swim and I can get a bit more comfortably relaxing my breathing and swimming more efficiently at this altitude.

In this foto (taken by Ernie) from left to right: Victor, Matthias, Debbie, Tom, Me, Mike. These are the few, the proud and the brave. Thanks to all of those in attendance. Great way to start a day.

Monday, June 14, 2010


It was a beautiful day here in Guanajuato so I went for a bike ride that I have done many many times since moving here almost 5 years ago. I literally rode around Guanajuato on the Panoramica. The Panoramica is a great ride offering many different and spectacular views of our historic town. The road takes you right by several of Guanajuatos famous mines, some active and some not. The larger and darker one in the bottom foto is still active, the other, my favorite is not.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

My 3 Wheeled Bike Fetish

Just in case you were wondering, my 3 wheeled bike fetish is alive and well. 2 of these fotos were taken on my last tour with the OSUG and the foto with the kid taking a ride I took this last Saturday returning from the boda in San Miguel.

Weekend Update Part 2

Weekend Update Part 2.

I almost forgot I played for a boda (wedding) in San Miguel Allende on Saturday. These fotos were taken before I played.

Templo Parroquia is the church located in the center of San Miguel. It's a very popular place to get married. On Saturdays the weddings never stop. The Mariachis and the giant puppets are waiting for the end of the wedding that concluded just before I got started.

Working weddings in Mexico is very similar to when I use to play with the Calypso bands in Chicago. I have pretty good memory for melody and the calypso guys never had any charts, other than a few ideas written out on napkins. Since I could remember where to put the horn lines they always called me for the gigs.

When I show up to play a wedding in Mexico the leader will say, "You know, this one.." and then he sings a bit and I nod and say yes I know that. Then he usually say's, "I'll point to you when you are to start." Alright, let's do it.

White Horse Parade

On Monday Pearl and I went for a hike out by our land. On our way out we saw a horse that had decided it wanted to have it's own parade. The road that the horse is parading down is the major route between Guanajuato and San Miguel. It's like a very busy FM road in the states. We both had a great time watching the impromptu "Solo White Horse Parade" go by.

Free Jazz At The Mall

Weekend update.

Had a blast playing last Friday at Corcho (see Do Whatcha' Wanna Do Video). Fun crowd. Nice having a drummer. The last few weeks at Corcho it has been just trumpet and tuba duets. It's always nice to have Lalo there to help us rock out. Saturday the same group played at Capellina. Fun, but we are mostly background music for the people enjoying their dinners. On Sunday I played with 2 very cool Mexican cats in the Plaza Pozuelos, our little mall. You know you've made it when you're playing in front of Sofa City.

They began construction of the "Mall" a few months after I arrived (fall 2004)in Guanajuato. All of the locals were very excited to have a McDonalds in our town. The Gringos, not so much. Since the arrival of the mall, Guanajuato has gotten it's first "American" grocery store, appropiatly named the "MEGA". It is convenient, however we still love supporting our next door tiendas, meat markets, and fruit/veggie markets. Mexico is set up perfect for living without a car.

Back to the gig. Sunday I played with Sibrian, bass and Lalo on drums. Free jazz at the mall. In this case "free" has 2 meanings. By the very nature of a mall the jazz we played was free of charge. Sibrian is a bassist from nearby Leon,GTO(the BIG city). Whenever he and Lalo and I play we never use music. Every song is completely improvised, free. Sunday we found some very cool places at the same moment. The one ballad (slower tempo) we played sounded like we had rehearsed it for years. We also played the Wayne Shorter classic "Footprints" in 4/4 not the usual 3/4.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Do Whatcha' Wanna Do (with Video!)

Since starting my blog, whenever I play somewhere I try to remember to give my camera to someone to take a few fotos. Last night at Corcho de Baco the lady that I gave my camera to took her job very seriously. She somehow figured out how to take video (I don't have any idea how to do that, I'm pretty lo-tech) so you guys can listen to the Garrapatas Mexicans (TUBA JAM trio) as we cover the Re-Birth Brass Band classic "Do Whatcha' Wanna Do". Dan Norman on tuba. Laloc Vallejo on the drums. We had a good crowd and we all had a lot of fun.

Sorry, but I can't seem to get the video to upload. I told you I was lo-tech. I'll try to figure out how to post the video asap. For now you will have to settle for more silent fotos. This foto is of me walking through the crowd while playing "St James Infirmary". Always a crowd pleaser.

And now the video.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Pancake Recipe

With the weekend almost here I thought I would give you a little taste of what most Saturday and Sunday mornings are like inside of Casa Verde.

Ever since I can remember I have loved pancakes. My Mother began my love affair with this simple and perfect breakfast bread. When I moved away to Chicago for college I began for the first time preparing my own. I started with the no-fail Bisquick premixed dry ingredients that you add a few of the wet ingredients and you're ready to go. They are pretty yummy. Throw in some mini chocolate chips and I'm a happy guy. Somewhere along the way I started making pancakes from scratch. Not the most sophisticated of culinary feats I know but for my money it's hard to beat a nice fresh hot short stack of flapjacks. On the weekends in Casa Verde this is the #1 most requested breakfast.

High Altitude Whole Wheat Cinnamon Nutmeg Pancakes
Sounds good, huh? I also like the title The 1.5 Pancakes but that doesn't sound so delicious.

They are easy to make. Here's what you do.

Combine in a large mixing bowl.

1 Cup flour (for High Altitude add extra flour)
1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
1.5 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoon cinnamon
1.5 teaspoon sugar
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Mix dry ingredients well.

Melt a half stick of butter mas o menos.(4 tbs+-)
Add a few drops of vanilla.

In another mixing bowl combine
1.5 Cups milk with
2 large (3 small) whipped eggs.
Add the butter and vanilla mixture.

Make a crater in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet into the hole. Fold (mixing gently) the dry and wet. They don't have to be perfectly mixed together. Just a minute or two of folding should do the trick. Then let the batter sit for as long as possible.

For cooking you want the griddle hot enough so that water droplets will dance. Once the bubbles in the pancakes start to pop you are ready to flip um'.

I hope you enjoy this recipe. On my blog you never know what I may post. I'll post the Golden Snake Nugget recipe soon.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Natural Born Clown

Yesterday I performed for the first time as a clown. Now, any of you who know me would probably argue about my use of the word "first" in the previous sentence. Many of the teachers I had during my years in the Arlington (Texas) public schools would probably even go so far as to say I was a natural born clown, but I never listened to them much. In the last few weeks I have been an audience member to several different clown performances. Guanajuato seems to be a bit of a hotbed for this type of performance art. Even before "My Part Of The Show" (earlier post on May 15th) I have been interested in the art of being a clown. So many varieties. Happy, sad, circus, street, rodeo....... I love the silent clowns. There is something so beautiful about being able to affect people without the need for words of any type.

Both of my girls attend the Yeccan Waldorf school. It is a small private school that is a perfect place for my girls. Pearl is in the 4th grade and Rose 2nd. Yesterday we (the parents from 2nd grade)put on a show for the children of 2nd grade. There are 11 kids in Rose's class so it wasn't a big show. It was a very cute show. The costumes and makeup were good and funny. Most of the parents even memorized their lines. It's fun to watch the kids watching their parents. Lot's of beautiful smiles. Good friend and actual Swiss Miss Anna Knecht, Michelle and I were tasked with playing a little music during the performance. After Michelle and I played an opening "Intrada" for horn and trumpet by Arthur Frackenpohl from his wonderful book, 10 Duets For Trumpet And Horn, I walked to center stage and did a silly clown rubber hose trumpet routine. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. I even got the crowd to laugh a few times. Very fun. I not sure, but this maybe the start of something.