Friday, July 30, 2010

Films Inside The Tunnel

Expresion en Corto, the Guanajuato Film Festival started here on Wednesday. Always great films from around the world.

Guanajuato is a mountain town carved into several very steep valleys. Because of this and the abundance of mines in the area, someone decided that the best way to provide for motor cars was to blast a bunch of wholes in the mountains. If you could take an x-ray of the Earth, Guanajuato would look more like a piece of Swiss cheese than any other city in the world.

For the film festival, during the evening after 11pm, they close down a small section and show films inside the tunnel.

Here are a few fotos from last night. It's not so easy getting a good shot in a tunnel or in a dark "theater". With my very limited skill and equipment, these shots are the best I can get.

In the 1st foto you can see the traffic arrow and if you look closely you can see the no "E" Estacionar, Mexican no parking signs.
Leaving the tunnel.

Hotdogs and a movie, underground, high in the mountains of central Mexico. This is 1 crazy town.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Trumpet players are famous for spending countless hours and dollars on new trumpets and mouthpieces in search of some miracle cure.

I can remember as a child my father had a dresser drawer full of many different makes and models of mouthpieces. Although for as long as I have known what a mouthpiece is, he has played the same 1.

I have never spent too much time or money when it comes most to trumpet equipment except for mutes.

Since the very beginning of my love affair with the trumpet I have loved the sound of the muted horn. Nothing better than the sound of Kenny Dorham or Fats Navarro wailin' through a cup mute. Louis swingin' hard in a plastic straight. Cootie growling, making the horn speak with a plunger. Of course, the cool sound of Miles in a Harmon.

Mutes are by far the fastest, most economical and fun way to change your sound.

I always take 4 mutes with me to all of my TUBA JAM and "jazz" gigs.

From left to right;
Stone Lined cup mute,
Jo-Ral copper Harmon with stem,
Ransalear by R-Kay plastic straight mute (I don't think you can find these anymore),
and my favorite, a Rubber 4 3/4" Force Pump (Plunger) imported from England.

Every mute has a different sound and every mute plays different.

Here are my straight mutes;
Again from left to right. Aluminum TrumCor, TrumCor copper bottom piccolo, TrumCor Lyric, Dennis Wick, Stone Lined piccolo, plastic Ransalear, Tom Crown soft, Tom Crown piccolo, Tom Crown brass bottom, Tom Crown all brass.

My cup mutes;
L to R. Stone Lined Flugelhorn cup, Tom Crown piccolo, Stone Lined, aluminum Jo-Ral, TrumCor+extra felt lined cup, TrumCor piccolo.

Harmon mutes;

Copper Jo-Ral bubble and the standard aluminum Harmon.

As for the plunger mute. Any plunger the size of your bell will work, or your hand. I have even used small soup bowls in a pinch.

Too many cool sounds. 

I get no endorsement dollars from any of the above mute makers. I just wanted to be specific.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pigs Fat

Last weekend we went with a few friends to a small celebration in Marfil, GTO.

Here are a few fotos I took of one of the main events.

The object of this game was to get to the top of the telephone pole and grab the goodies off the top. If that doesn't sound hard enough, they cover the pole from top to bottom in the worst smelling pigs fat you can imagine. The bags at the top are filled with all sorts of exciting prizes like, toilet paper and cans of sardines (Heads up!). Like so many things in Mexico, it's a pretty fun spectator sport.


My Better Half

This is a foto I took of my better half Michelle and I on our 15th anniversary on the 15th of July.

I love this foto. I think it is worth at least 1,000 words. I'll let your imagination take you where it will.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Day Before

Ice cream with Robbie and Steve in San Fernando. This was the day before the most terrifying moments.

Terrifying Moments

Yesterday I witnessed one of the most terrifying moments of my life.

Over the last 3 days, I have been very fortunate to have my first trumpet teacher visiting Guanajuato. It's always nice to have someone to talk with who plays the same instrument as you. I started playing trumpet (cornet) the summer before I started 6th grade. The biggest advantage I have enjoyed as a trumpet player is having a father who was a trumpet player. Before I had ever pressed this crazy piece of brass tubing against my face, I already had many ideas in my head as to how it could sound.

My father Steve, was taught by his father Melvin Pettit. I never heard my Grandfather play. I did hear and eventually played with my father many many times. My father is a professional photographer, although he has played trumpet at a professional level ever since he was a student at Arlington (TX) High School in the late 60's. The trumpet was always the #1 instrument played at my house on our record player. Symphonic or jazz, it didn't matter, the music always had a trumpet flavor. My father is still playing and he currently leads the Swing Time big band in central Texas.

I have been in love with the trumpet for about as long as I can remember. My father is the person who started this very long love affair.

Yesterday the girls and I were showing my father and his wife Robbie around our land when I heard something and looked over to see my youngest daughter Rose underneath a horse who seemed to be tap dancing. Rose was looking directly at me. I didn't know what to do. I screamed and ran towards the bucking animal.

Rose, my sweet Rose came out with just a hoof sized scrape across the middle of her back. She didn't even cry as I held her in my arms.

It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bike Bridges

On a "Fun Safari" with the girls. They love the bike bridges in Leon,GTO.

Friday, July 16, 2010

3 Wheeled Bike Foto

Another 3 wheeled bike foto.

I took this foto yesterday, while on a bike ride with my girls on one of the many nice bike paths in Leon, GTO.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

La Encrucijada Jazz Club

I love this foto from La Encrucijada Jazz Club in Queretaro. Green is the new black.

The Jazz Club at La Encrucijada has a very nice stage setup for the band. Sound, lights(here they are green), it's a great place to play.

Roberto Blanco keys, Hernan Hecht drums.

Rain Poncho

I had a great time playing with Jorge and Lalo at Zilch this past Wednesday. We played standards all night. Not many people at the club, so it was a nice chill evening. I know I am having fun when the guys in the band have to tell me it's time for a break or, "This tune and then maybe one more." When I am behind the trumpet and having a good time, time has no relevance.

It was only after we finished our last set that I noticed that it was raining. Guanajuato is a walking town so I walk to most of my gigs. Once it starts raining, if I remembered my rain coat and trash bag, I put on my coat, place the trash bag over my gig bag (soft trumpet case) and head out into the elements. Rain coats are OK but your legs and feet still get wet and the trash bag works unless it gets too windy.

I was excited Wednesday night because I got to try out my new rain protection. A few months ago in preparation for the rainy season, I purchased a military issue US made rain poncho (it can also be used as a tent!). I have already used it on long, rain filled hike with Rose a few weeks ago and just a few days ago for another rainy hike with both Pearl and Rose. The rain poncho is the perfect protection if you want to spend a little quality family time or alone time outside during a rain storm. It works well if you have to carry something that needs to stay dry like my gig bag. With the hood on,when I'm hiking through a rain soaked forest, I can't help but feel a little bit like Rambo. It also provides an excellent place for kids to hide. One handy piece of gear.

Walking up the Callejones during a rain storm is pretty cool. It's kind of like walking up water falls. Late Wednesday night(early Thursday morning) was not an especially strong rain storm, but even with just a small amount of rain, the Callejones turn into small, but sometimes deep rivers. Walking is much more fun than taking a taxi home and with my handy new rain poncho I returned home just about as dry as I was when I left the club.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Me and El Negro

After the show. If you look closely you can even see O.J. Simpson serving ham.

El Negro

Last Saturday I had a wonderful time performing with "Fiatti Scorrevole" at Casa Simurgh up in Valenciana. It was standing room only in the little theater and everyone seemed to enjoy the show. The show began with me performing, for the 2nd time ever, my Rubber Garden Hose Trumpet Silly Clown routine. It went OK. The crowd loves the fanfare at the end. After watching the video of my performance, I realized how much work I need. It was the worst clown performance I have seen. Of course, there is comedy even in a bad clown routine. Oh well, I'm not afraid of a little work. The next time I perform as a clown I will be better.

Now, back to the real part of the show.

After the Clown Fanfare, the MC for the concert, Kasper, introduced himself, talked a little about music, and gave a brief description of the first piece. Next he introduced the members of "Fiatti Scorrevole", Cuauhtemoc Trejo-flute, Hector Fernandez-oboe, and Hugo Manzanilla-clarinet. Kasper then asked who I was, and told me that there was no part for me on the first piece and if I would go wait off stage.

My character, El Negro, was played by myself and a black puppet holding a trumpet. El Negro could only wait through the first 3 movements of the first piece before he had to break out in a New Orleans 2nd Line style trumpet solo over the classical music of the woodwind trio. After a few confrontations Kasper finally puts El Negro in his place and I have to go wait, this time in the audience.

I had a front row seat for some great music accompanied by really beautiful puppet work. The trio played Beethoven's Variations on Mozart's Don Giovanni while Heie Boles, Andres Arellano, and Danae Trejo entertained the crowd with a wide variety of puppets.

After that was over, El Negro again interrupts with a fanfare. I get back on stage, join the other musicians, and after a little more waiting, during the final Gigue, El Negro begins to battle with Hugo on the clarinet. We were pushing and shoving each other trying to be the only one playing the part.

Kasper finally realizes that he knows El Negro, lets him in the group, and we all played "When the Saints Go Marching In" as a group, to end the show.

I was a great show. Much better than this trumpet player could ever hope to describe with words. I hope we perform this one again. It was so much fun. Many thanks to Heie, Andres, Danae, Cuauhtemoc, Hector, Hugo....

Thursday, July 1, 2010

In The Rain

The rain started yesterday afternoon around 5pm here in Guanajuato and it has been raining off and on ever since. Thank you Alex.

When you live in a desert climate rain is always welcome. Here at Casa Verde we like to embrace the rain. So, yesterday when the rain started we left the dinner table (vegetables still steaming on the stove, oops) the girls put on their "crocs", I grabbed my camera, put on my new rain poncho and chased after them out into the street.

When I was a kid growing up in Arlington, TX, I remember playing outside in the rain. Splashing without a care in the world. Nothing to worry about getting wet when everything is already wet. Watching sticks, leafs, pieces of tree bark, float down the gutter with the greatest of ease. The different world that only the rain can create. Ah, the smell.

Since my girls have only ever lived in desert climates (Colorado Springs and here) they are use to very long periods without rain. I think that may be one of the reasons they are so joyful when the rains come.

I tried my best to capture some of their joy and not drown my camera.

The next time you are caught in the rain, start splashing around a bit, get a little wet, it's a lot of fun.