Monday, June 27, 2011

La Dama Jonathan Winters

After our television set broke in the summer of 1978, my parents made a decision that may very well have had more positive impact on me than any other they ever made. They decided not to get another. My sister and I would listen to old radio programs on cassette tapes that our parents would purchase, Lum and AbnerThe Lone RangerAmos and AndyThe Green HornetPalidin, etc... You name an old radio show and I have probably listened to it. We had a few new releases as well. I remember listening to (tapes my parents had recorded from the radio) the first Star Wars when it came out. And when I got a bit older I could pick out things that I thought looked good and my parents would order them. 

Jonathan Winters was 1 of the first old school stand-up comedians I ever heard. What I always remember about his style was that he seemed to be improvising. It never seemed to me that he had much of a plan. Some of his jokes/stories don't work. I love it. It's not like almost every other recording you hear of modern comedians, where every joke is funny. Jonathan Winters is simply a very funny man and if you let him just talk and tell a few stories he's going to be funny. I didn't realize at the time how those old cassette tapes filled with Mr. Winters funny stories would forever effect me and my performing.

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Mr. Winters

When I joined the Air Force Academy band in 2000, they required that most of the performers speak at least a little during each performance. Getting the performers to speak makes for a much more audience friendly show and the AF knows that. While I have always been comfortable playing my trumpet anywhere and for anyone, I was not comfortable speaking in front of anyone. Up until this point in my life, I had never needed to. The 1st few times I had only a mic in my hands it was not pretty. I wish I had recordings of those early days. I know they would be very funny to hear. Since there was no way to avoid public speaking, I decided that there was no reason I could not do this. I worked on it and in less than 3 years I was doing my own improvised stand-up routine in front of the entire Af band, on live TV in front of a crowd of over 3,000. 1 of the best feelings ever, hearing that many people laugh at something so simple as a few words.

I have always followed the Jonathan Winters approach when it comes to my performing. I have a plan but there is no script except for the 1 in my head. To me it feels more natural and honest as a performer, and it is much more exciting as well.

It felt wonderful on Saturday just before I began the 1st complete BUZZ show. The show begins with 5 minutes of a rubber hose trumpet clown bit followed by 10 minutes mas o menos of me yapping about BUZZing into a tube. The final section of the BUZZ show is 20 minutes mas o menos of music where I am joined by the BUZZ Brothers and a drummer. All 3 of my brains cells seemed to align and I was in the zone as they say.

For the 1st ever full performance of BUZZ, I am very pleased. The audience love it. The band sounded great. The theater in the library was a perfect spot (it got better once they turned on the lights so you could see me, that's Mexico.) Petite Francois Perinet was the crowd favorite, even though he forgot to play the French National Anthem (the 3 cells weren't always aligned). The BUZZ Brothers, Dan Norman on the tuba and John Swadley on the slide trombone provided some good grooves over the stick work of Ramon Hernandez. Everyone wanted more, so we gave it to them. Very fun start to the afternoon.

After returning and unloading all of the BUZZ gear Michelle, Pearl, Rose and I headed into centro to late night dance club La Dama to see old friend Matthew Stadler at his book signing party. It's fun to be able to take the girls inside of the most famous late night club in Guanajuato. I'm not sure what time La Dama opens but no 1 gets there until midnight at the earliest and closing time is whenever the sun comes up. 1 of my favorite things is hearing an author read from his or her own work. Very cool. 

Pearl and Rose on the balcony of La Dama.
Rose's "belt", doubles as her jump rope. 
Matthew's latest novel is, Chloe Jarren's La Cucaracha. It's set in Guanajuato. I'm looking forward to reading it. I know Matthew's voice will slip into my head when I am reading his words. Let me know if you want a good mystery for the summer. I've got Matthew's info.

Friday, June 24, 2011

2 Shots

Yesterday I went to Leon and San Francisco del Rincon to get a few last items for the show. Another 3 wheeled bike foto was taken in San Francisco del Rincon. These 2 shots of the same guy on a 2 wheeler were taken in Leon. I wish I had a better shot. I love it when I see people using bikes.
Here he comes........
There he goes.


Another 3 wheeled bike foto:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Rather Large Puppets

Since much of the BUZZ show is focused on the history of buzzing I have been looking for the best ways to present history in a fun, interesting and entertaining way. 

With his invention of the self named Perinet valve in 1838, Francois Perinet may have change the trumpet more than any other person in history. Since I don't believe a man of Francois' age should be out on the road I decided to contact puppet master, Heie Boles for a little help. You may remember when I worked with Heie on a production about a year ago (see earlier post: El Negro and Me and El Negro July  2010). I told Heie my ideas and she was nice enough to let me borrow a German puppet to take home and experiment with.

Once I had worked with Heie's puppet for a bit I knew what I needed to get the job done.

I sought out local artists Mika y Felipe. Besides being highly recommended from several different people, I had seen some of their work before and I though if they couldn't help me they would know of someone who could.

When I went over to Mika y Felipe's I brought Pearl and Rose along. I thought it would be an interesting place to look around and boy was I right. So much great art lying around everywhere. Felipe is know for his rather large puppets, that are used in parades and other festivals. Super cool, but not exactly what I need.
The adult size puppets.
Pearl inside a child size.
Rose and her tongue.
Those are too cool but I needed something much smaller and more French.
1st Felipe sculpts a head.
Around the head he forms a mold.
Then he pushes a paper solution into the mold.
After a little smoothing of the edges, some paint and costume,
 petite Francois Perinet is born.
I had Felipe make 2 just in case something unexpected happens.
So whenever I show them together, they will be brothers.
Francois and his younger brother________.
I'm open to any ideas for a nice French sounding name for Francois' younger brother. Fire away.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Super Saturday

This is going to be a great weekend in Guanajuato. 

Super Saturday, the BUZZ show world premier at the library in San Miguel and then we'll hustle back to Guanajuato for old friend Mathew Stadler's book signing party. Mathew's newest novel, Chloe Jarren's La Cucaracha, sounds very interesting and is set in Guanajuato. I'm looking forward to reading it. I have a number of professional writer friends who also read my ramblings here. I try not to think about it.

I am too excited about my upcoming BUZZ premier. While creating BUZZ, I have been assisted by many wonderful artists along the way. Over the next few days leading up to Super Saturday I will do my best to show you some of their contributions.

Here's the BUZZ logo:
This was designed by my old friend Joel Smith and myself.
Joel is 1 of the few people not from Guanajuato
who has worked on BUZZ.

Friday, June 10, 2011


1 of the things I love most about Mexico is the abundance of burros.

RANT #1:
I look forward to the day when my main means of transportation has 4 legs. I'm not kidding. I hate driving the automobile. Been there, done that. The automobile is convenient for the way most of our modern life's have been set up. That doesn't mean I have to like it. I'm trying to figure out ways to live without the automobile. Bikes, burros, our handy feet. I would rather not drive. It's also horrible for my posture. Don't get me started.

Sorry about that.

Anyways here are a few fotos I have taken of the burros I have seen around Guanajuato and out by our land.
I took this foto on a hike with my girls out by our land,
This is just a few blocks away from where we currently live.
 How's your Mexican history? The statue is Pipila.
On our way back home from Pipila.
I took this foto right before I "lost" my camera.
The guy on the burro and those like him, ride around town selling
firewood and topsoil/mulch kind of stuff from the mountainsides
around Santa Rosa.
I thought this was the last foto I had taken.
Burros outside Carbonera .

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Version

For those of you who have been asking about the new version of the Garrapatas Mexicanas, here's a foto. I think you know the trumpeter, Michael Kent Smith guitar and Dan Norman on the tuba.

The program for this Sundays Gene Byron concert is mostly Latin jazz and a tinge of traditional. Should be fun.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Usual Suspects

Yesterday my good buddy Cuauhtemoc Trejo sent me an email asking if I could put together a program for this Sundays concert at the Gene Byron. So I rounded up the usual suspects and I am pleased to announce that the new version of the Garrapatas Mexicanas will be performing this Sunday at the beautiful Casa Museo Gene Byron in Marfil, GTO. If you are in Guanajuato stop by and see what you think of our "new" sound. We may even have a special guest on percussion.

I took this foto yesterday in Leon. I have seen this sign before and for some reason it's funny to me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Plush Lives

When I arrive early to pick up the girls from school, I park a short distance from the school in the nearest bit of shade. Yesterday as I was waiting in the shade I watched as a father and his daughter walked up a few meters in front of where I was parked and began sifting through a pile of rubble. As I walked past to go get my girls I asked the father what they were looking for. He showed me the small rusty bits of metal that they were searching for. As I returned with my girls I asked the father if I could take a foto. He agreed and I took 2 fotos. He didn't ask for anything but I gave him $100 pesos (about $10 US) and the girls and I headed off to our car and our very plush lives.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


As I was preparing for a bike ride with my good buddy Leigh (see earlier post Inspiring June 2010) I found my little Canon point and shoot resting peacefully at the bottom of my ridding backpack. Glad to have found my camera.

I had a foto shoot yesterday in Leon with my friend Ricardo De La Tejera. He spotted my little point and shoot and got a few fotos of us hard at work.

I'll be posting a few sneak previews of BUZZ soon. Please stay tunned.