Saturday, December 18, 2010


Here's my vote for 1 of the best deals in Guanajuato:

A chorizo torta from Tacos Roy. I get it "con todo" with everything. $25 pesos, a little less than $2.25 U.S. and well worth every cent.


3 Wheeled Bike

Today I went to Silao to try and buy a very cheap bike. After a bit of stumbling I found 1. During my stumbling's I took a few fotos. A few 3 wheeled bike fotos.

Christmas in Mexico.
The bike gang is ready to head out.
These ladies were more than happy to pose for a foto.
This one, not so much.

Christmas Cornet

I remember years ago walking into our living room on Christmas morning to find, still to this day, the most beautiful Christmas present I have ever seen. Sitting on the red velvet of it's opened case was a silver plated shepherds crook cornet. I have never seen anything put off such a glow. I had seen my Dad's silver trumpets but my new cornet sparkled in a somewhat different way to my eyes. It was mine. Later that following spring with my Christmas cornet, I played my first public performance for the 6th grade talent show at C.B. Berry elementary school in east Arlington. In the years that followed I would play my little Christmas cornet with pride in many bands and even at youth orchestra where all of my much older trumpet section mates told me, "You really should be playing a trumpet not a cornet in orchestra." Someone really should tell Berlioz.

So if I can recommend anything for a Christmas present it has to be a horn, trumpet or cornet. A trumpet makes a wonderful gift. And you need not spend very much at all to get a "pro" level instrument.

Those of you who have been paying attention may have noticed that I changed trumpets a few months back. And if you are really observant you may have also noticed that a few months before I changed trumpets I changed mouthpieces. Well to be more exact, the outside of my mouthpiece changed. The inside is the same copy of an old Mount Vernon Bach 3C with a 24 backbore I have played for the last year or so. The outside was made to look like an Al Cass mouthpiece. I wanted a mouthpiece that didn't look like everyone else and I love the look of the old Al Cass's. So I had the mouthpiece guy at Kanstul make me my own cool copy.

My "new' trumpet is an used Kanstul 610. All Kanstul products are made in the US. This trumpet was marketed as a "student" horn but it plays much better than my "professional" Stradivarius Bach which I had played for the last 16+ years.

In my own personal crusade against the insanely sky rocketing horn prices I have noticed over the last few years, I began to search for good trumpet deals over this past summer in an effort to find a great playing horn for cheap. During my search I stumbled across the Kanstul 610. It got great reviews online and I found 1 on e-bay with just a few dents for less than $250 so I emailed my e-bay expert who also happens to be my cousin, Matt. He bid and we won. My Mother actually paid for the trumpet and brought it down last summer. And I have played it ever since.

So when a relative told me her daughter wanted a trumpet for Christmas, I told her not to worry I know just what to do. I found 2 this time. 1 in excellent condition that we got for $211 and another that looks good just used for $103. Even with $15 for shipping I now have realised a small dream I had of getting a trumpet for less than the price of a custom Kanstul mouthpiece $125. I did it. I'm looking forward to trying out these "new" trumpets to see if they play as well as my current 610. You can't beat the price.

This may be late for this years Christmas shopping but just for future gift giving events for young children keep in mind the trumpet. I can't imagine getting more use out of a present than I have gotten out of the trumpet.

Here's a wonderful short story I was hipped to from my trumpet student Dianne:

Harry's Love  by Mill Horton
(From Steve Moss, ed., The World’s Shortest Stories)

He looked at her lying there, entranced by her sensuous curves,
her golden glow. But it was her voice that really moved him—sometimes soft and sexy, sometimes wild with abandon.  

Whatever his mood, she matched it.

He lifted her lovingly to his lips. Tonight they would make beautiful music together. Harry and his trumpet.

Now that's good writing.

Not sure why "beautiful music" is blue.

Mexican Recycling

Several years back Michelle asked me if we should separate our trash for the recycling. I told her that we don't need to worry because in Mexico they have people that do that for you.

The way recycling works here is like this: The guys in the trash truck pull up to the dumpster, they jump inside the dumpster and the recycling begins.

Here's a foto of the Mexican recycling program in action. I had a better shot moments before but I decided not to shoot until I was out of the middle of the street. The light was perfect and with the beautiful mountains of Guanajuato in the back ground it would have been better than the below foto but it still gives you an idea of what I'm ramblin' on about.
Also a few of the many power lines I love so much.

Quiet When They Shatter

Tomorrow after my concert at the Gene Byron, me and all my ladies will be headed north to Estado Unidos (U.S.). We normally take the bus, however this year we will be driving a friends car up. It's been a few years since we have driven up. I love driving in Mexico and we are all looking forward to our trip. We will meet our friends in Houston give them there car back and then head up to the DFW metroplex to begin our holiday traditions.

Before I leave I thought I would give you a blitz of blog posts to keep you busy.

I have had quite a few questions about our house and if we have made any recent progress. To this I have a few pieces of advice. If you are building a house and you are not independently wealthy don't quit your job (no matter how much you hate it) until you have finished enough of the house to move in. And if you don't finish it enough to move in, don't put a roof of clay tiles up. It's just to hard to resist throwing a rock to see what happens. I don't know why it is, but it is fun breaking things. Teja titles are surprisingly quiet when they shatter.
Around 300 teja tiles. 

Now I know how a tile floor would look.
Yesterday my friend Luis (see earlier post My Friend Luis) and I replaced the teja tiles with a metal roof. Not very pretty but much stronger and much less intriguing.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


As I am writing this the sounds of explosions fills the air of Guanajuato signaling Dia de Guadalupe. I love Mexico. 
I had a great time playing with organist Ann Riley yesterday evening in San Miguel de Allende. I felt good about my playing. It's different playing "classical" trumpet after my recent focus on playing more "jazz".
We had a wonderful crowd and I received many nice comments after the concert. 

Last year we played an arrangement of Handel's Hallelujah from the Messiah as our encore. This year it was the last piece on the program. It's a beautiful way to end a concert. Last year the audience began to stand after we began. This year I invited the crowd to stand and if they wanted, to sing along. Most of the audience did both. And they actually sounded pretty good. It's a great way to end a show. You are guaranteed of a standing ovation and if you chops are a bit tired it's harder to hear with everyone singing.

The fotos were taken by Pearl who is 10. She also sold 10 of my Christmas CD's. That's my Pearlie girl.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Piel Seca

Yesterday I was in San Miguel de Allende for the final rehearsal before my concert of trumpet and organ Christmas music at Saint Paul's. I will be playing with the lovely and talented Ann Riley. Ann got her masters from De Paul University in Chicago, the same place where I meet my wife and all-time favorite horn player (see earlier post Horn Player) Michelle.

Anyways, I am looking forward to the concert tomorrow evening. I love playing with great organists. The organ and trumpet combo is a perfect match. I haven't been playing much "classical" trumpet lately, so I have been practicing. It should be fun.

On my return trip I took the left turn onto Piel Seca, my favorite street in San Miguel. I have made enough trips to San Miguel over the last several years and I have turned my random stumblings into a very rudimentary knowledge of the town.

Piel Seca is a street that has stayed with me since the first time I drove down it. The first time I drove down it I had the reaction, "Cool, there's a tree in the middle of the street." You don't see that every day, unless of course you live in San Miguel.

Yesterday, after a fun rehearsal I turned left onto Piel Seca and decided to take a few fotos to show you guys what I am ramblin' on about. Here they are:

The guy in the middle of the Piel Seca is doing the same thing as I.
I hope he puts a foto of me on his blog.
In this foto you can see something pura Mexicana.
Kids, anyone can ride in the back of or on the back of anything.
That's a beautiful street.
I can see how people can fall in love with
San Miguel de Allende.

Wonderful Family

I traveled to Texas a few weeks back. When I knew I would be returning to my hometown I made a plan to try and play some of the music I play in Mexico for my family in Texas who have not had the chance to come to Mexico and hear me live. I was really most interested in playing for my Grandparents. Who are now to old to want to travel much of anywhere very far away. 

I contacted Terry, the outlaw chef and owner of Fred's Texas Cafe in Fort Worth Texas and asked if he had any place for the Texas edition of TUBA JAM to play. Terry is an old friend from back in my bike racing days and he said, "Yes."

I then contacted tenor sax player Gerald Burnham from Plano Texas. A few years back Gerry spent a year teaching in Guanajuato. We ran into each other on the street and during our conversation he mentioned that he played tenor and was looking for some guys to play with while he was in Mexico. Gerry is a wonderful musician and an even better person. We played many times throughout the year and I was fortunate enough to have Gerry play on the 1st TUBA JAM recording we made in 2008. Gerry is always up for just about anything and when I asked about playing at Fred's he said, "Count me in." I love this guy.

Now with a group named TUBA JAM you kind of need a tuba. I sent out an email to a few of the tuba professors around the DFW area. Don Little from North Texas responded that I should contact tubist and bassist De'Marcus Walker. In Don's words, "You won't be disappointed." He couldn't have been more correct.

I meet up with De'Marcus at North Texas the day before we were to play at Fred's. Interesting feelings as I walked through the halls of the school of music I first walked through as a freshman back in 1991. The halls still have the same smell. I love the way smells can instantly take you back. I walked into a room where I took music theory and ear training and found De'Marcus and his tuba. We ran through most of the tunes that we would play the next night. De'Marcus has a wonderful tuba sound and is plenty funky. It's great having a world class tuba player who also plays bass. I have a feeling I'll be able to say, "I knew De'Marcus back when....."

The next day a cold front blew in which I would normally not write about except that we would be playing outside at Fred's. It was a cold and windy night. And the whole evening I felt like playing the trumpet was about the hardest thing I have ever attempted to do. I felt as if I were in a cage match with an angry Mike Tyson. That's why I get the best cats I can, so they can rock out even when I can't figure out how to play the trumpet. Despite the cold temperature, De'Marcus and Gerry sounded just as good as I knew they would.
Gerry Burnham and De'Marcus Walker rockin' the house.
The cold temps didn't keep my family and friends away. Even though I was struggling with the trumpet the entire night, it was a treat to play for so much of my family and friends. Thanks to all those tough enough to brave a cold night. For those of you not brave enough to get out in the cold, my 88 and 86 year old Grandparents made it out and when my cousin Zac told them that he could take them home my Grandmother who was bundled up in blankets said, "I'm not ready to go". I have a wonderful family.

Thanks to Terry and everyone from Fred's. Thanks to the cats, Gerry and De'Marcus. I was my pleasure to share the stage with such talented, hard working nice guys.