Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Oh, new Video!"

"RAINFALL" video <click
This is a nice video of me playing and singing "RainFall". It's well shot and sounds good too.
Excellent job 'Chapdoc' films.
Enjoy,       Speaking of videos... The DVD of the "Rocket Scientists band" I'm a part of and touring with in March has some of the DVD footage from the "Looking Backward" box set up on Myspace. click

We'll be going to Mexico (Baja Prog Fest) then to Ohio!! I love that, what a trip and then... over to England. "Sounds like the tour was planned by a 'map on a dart board!' Lol.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Episode "6" Is it a network show yet!?

 Well this is exciting,. Episode number #6 is up and within 2 and a half days has gotten 352,000 hits. Ohhh it's gettin' popular. It also became a feature on YouTube. For those that don't know, I score the music for this webisode. Granted, there generally isn't a lot of interior music, the occasional gamer music which is fun and of course the theme. This show has it's own 'agent' at ICM trying to get the show syndication... imagine that, it has an agent but I don't. Well really, I've got a 'secret agent' .... I don't know him, he don't know me.... brump bump!"

I like this episode a lot. I'm not a gamer so the episodes with a lot of gamer lingo loose me in the translation, this one's got 'general funny' in it. The ending got a big laugh outta me.

You may recognize the lead charactor "Felicia Day" as she's on the "Cheeto's" commercial you've been seein'.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Between Laverne and Shirley"

I'm guessin' he had more fun standing between Laverne and Shirley than Dave and I. You remember him as "The Big Ragu!" (actor Eddie Mekka)  in the old TV show "Laverne and Shirley"

Well Dave (my brother) and I ran into him backstage while we were playin' the Frankie Avalon/Bobby Rydell show in Las Vegas.

He was a lot of fun to meet and hang with in the Green Room. Those era of shows just seem to bring the 'nice' out in everyone - like Peanut butter 'n Jelly. It's just good stuff.

The shows went over real well and without a hitch.

No one fell off the stage or anything..... Like last year when "Fabian" nose dived off the front of the stage. Ohhh it was hard to watch - but I had to. The 'back story" is that the day before the gig he gets into a car crash that flips his car 3 times. He and the other two passengers go to the hospital. The next night Fabian just leaves the hospital because he's got a gig. He shows up looking 'terrible' however feeling great. On 'his' side of it... he's feeling no pain, whatever they gave him was WORKIN' just great. However his body, though not feelin' it... was lookin' it.

Anyway Frankie tells him "Go back to the hospital, you need to recover". Well Fabian says, "Hey I'm here already!, I'm okay, I'll go on" and so he does. He tells the audience he's sorry he's still in street clothes, but his Tux was in the trunk of the car and the car was all smashed together and he couldn't get anything out of it. The audience cheers and is just happy he's okay and showed up.

He then goes to sing, walks to the edge of the stage (about 5 feet up) and .... thinks theirs more stage than there is... and over he goes. Face first on to the metal barrier that keeps the audience back. Ya hear an awful 'clunk' as his face and mic hit!!!! 

Oh I tell ya, my face hurt just hearing it. I ran to the edge to see him. He was on his back lookin' up with the mic in his hand, looking like he was thinkin' "Am I still singing or did I just fall off the stage"... I tell ya that pain medication he was on was still working a 110%. Thank God no serious damage was done... and in true performer fashion as they lifted him up to the stretcher he insisted on standing first to 'wave' to the audience that he was okay. 

Instant "standing ovation"... all in all, it made a great start to the show.

I later emailed him and he wrote back he was doin' just fine. I saw him later and.... he's good as new as well as the others in the car with him. Ah I love a happy ending.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"Hot Date"

Here's an "oldy but goody" story I found in the archives going some years back, 12/2/02 to be exact. It was entitled "On The Road Dating!"
The band was "Stacia" and we were touring in support of the CD
called "Hush" -
.... I figure I'll be travelin' to Las Vegas while you're readin' this so you can pretend your in the back seat as I go into my "Story Tellin' Mode" (my son always loved that). When we were lookin' at colleges for him we drove to Humbolt county (6 hours from where we were stayin'). I didn't figure it out 'til later but he kept sayin' "Hey Don, there's another drive thru Starbucks, get yourself somethin' " and I would.
Well that was all just his secret plan to load me up on caffiene and keep me tellin' story after story'. If you ask my wife she'll roll her eyes and tell ya', "Yea, he Yaked the WHOLE 6 HOURS!"
And so sit back - relaxe- we just pulled out of Starbucks and I'm chuggin' my "Vanilla Soy Latte" my lips are flappin' as I take ya back back 6 years to another 'time, place and tour' to bring you;
"On The Road Dating"
Now we were on tour and flew in to Detroit to stay for a couple days. At the end of those couple days we're informed we have a 4 1/2 hour drive to get us to Torch Lake. We (the band "Stacia") figure we'll leave in the late morning and get there just in time before daylight ends. A good call, considering none of us has ever seen this place, plus snow and the possible "getting lost" factor - it just made good sense to get an early start...
We all had a nice "partying evening" when I decided to turn in for the night and get a good rest for the long "sit" in the car the next morning. Nice car mind you... "FULLY loaded, leather seats, Cadillac jeep of some sort... comfy but nonetheless, a long time to just "sit."
SOOoooooOOoooo long about 5 AM, I notice as I'm awoken, that I have a "Date" in bed with me..."Ahhhhhhhhhh" and "Oh no!" I say to myself... I've somehow gotten in bed with and dated one of the "Rhea" sisters. Now this isn't good...I've got a LONG drive ahead and here I am in bed with one of the Rhea sisters. As I know it, there are three sisters, we've all dated one of them at some point in our they're affectionately known as Dia, Pia and date that evening was Dia....yes, Diarrhea.

OY VAY!!!!! She was ready to rock as I hurried to the bathroom... For the first round I just "hung on to the seat rim" and blasted away for a good ten minutes. Whew, she was talkative, "Okay, back to bed for a little rest, with luck she's happy and tired too." So I pull the covers over, get comfy and put my head down... When....I got that feelin'....Ahhh! She wants to dance....hurry and scurry to the bathroom I murmur, "C'mon" be gentle I've got a five hour drive I don't have time to play...."

Well, I wish the toilet seat had a seat belt...Whoa can she dance! I'm weak, tired and concerned now about the "Fully loaded car with leather seats under my fully loaded butt!" what a time for us to not have the tour bus. Well, we danced the Twist, the Watusi and Cha-cha-cha until she decided she had had a nice enough time as she faded from the evening. I thanked her for her consideration for my plight of a long drive and bid her a "Farewell" as I headed for a nice hot shower and a breakfast of "Kaopectate." The car ride was "Cautious" but "uneventful."

Kapopectate, I salute you!

"We're on our way!"

Well almost on our way, we leave tomorrow for Las Vegas. I love the drive, (I have the option to fly) but since my wife is going and it's nice to have a car their.... we'll (and by we I mean I'll) drive. I always do the drivin', I'm not complaining, she's a wonderful driver I just can't sleep when she drives, so I might as well stay awake in front of the wheel.

I've proven myself over the years in all weather, high speed blow outs, skids, near misses and.... hits. We survived them all! (Dear God keep up the good record). I suppose we could say if I was really good at drivin' their wouldn't be any skids, high speed tire blow outs, near misses and hits... but alas, the bright side of all that is you never know how you'll re-act until you're called upon to act. Experience "I have".

The rains are over so... no floods, that's good and I suppose the desert may bloom after all the rain. That's one of the most beautiful sights when the yellow desert flowers are out ALL over. Short lived but spectacular. I've seen that rarity as well as the 'snow' over the desert... AND that my friends is why I love this drive... "and I can't sleep if she does". 

She sleeps fine, but back in the day though on 5 and 6 hour trips, she'd get restless and we traveled with a lovely small dog "Pete" -  who after being in a few of the "tire blow out" events at high speeds - became a 'nervous' traveler.  He would 'pant' sooooo much and So LOUD ... that the car would fill up with the smell of his breath (no dogs that cute, as cute as he was).  ...And the solution to all this long drive, close quarters and on each others nerves?......, "Pills for everyone!!!" Downers for the wife, downers for the dog AND a nice quiet and relaxing drive for me. Ah, those were the days.

Now days - with 3 cats and 2 dogs.... it's even simpler -  they all stay home with a sitter (except the wife). And with that she's mellowed in the passenger seat, reads, sleeps maybe I'll take the laptop so she can watch movies... oh and now she has her own iPod, so for her it's pretty much like a real nice flight, 4 1/2 hours long - but nice.

Well I better go take care of some loose ends, be safe, I'll write from "Vegas" if I get a chance.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"I took the Rap!"

I had a very fun session today unlike any other... a first in fact. I get a call to use my studio from a new "Rap" group. I've never recorded that style before in my studio. The gentleman that called is even a Hells Angel member so I thought, "Wow, this will be REAL interesting" and I asked "Will you come roaring in with your motorcycle!?" He said, no. (Dag Nabbit, I wanted the full effect). Oh well next time perhaps, and so he and his buddy show up and I tell ya, I had one of the funniest and fun times.

They were so nice, really held a great vocal rhythmic groove over top their pre-recorded tracks. I asked how they usually track and so he said that they will bring a cd of their music track and I'll record them rapping over that. 

Easy enough and I had heard a few of their songs from their Myspace and though I'm not offended by cussing I'm just not used to hearing that much in so short an amount of time! And so I joked, "Well okay then bring the tracks on over, I'll load them in my studio and you can then cus over top of it!" I got a good laugh and wasn't killed.

We had such fun and they were all so nice. I kinda felt old because I don't listen to much rap and they were in their 20's but I REJOICED when I loaded in their tracks and it was old school R&B!!! I love that! 

After they left, I started mixing to send them a copy tomorrow. I couldn't resist 'not playing' and I enjoyed the R&B so much I figured to lift the chorus's I'd add some live hammond organ and clavinet parts. Hey, I had fun, I'm done... I'm up late writing this post... and find myself thinkin'...."Hmmmm it could be so much better if "I" wrote and recorded some R&B riffs for them... TO CUSS OVER! LOL

Friday, January 11, 2008

"Flash Back - and Forth"

Well here's the hotel we'll be stayin' and playin' at. It's the Orleans Hotel and Casino. I've been their many times, good seafood restaurant and I'll be eatin' their again. "Frankie Avalon and Bobby Rydell" will be the acts I'll be playing for. It's a "Blast to the Past"... end of the big bands and the beginnings of Rock 'n Roll. It makes me nostalgic. I tried to find older (1974) pictures of the Flamingo Hilton as that's when I first went to Las Vegas right out of high school. As many of you know, I not only played the showroom their.. I started out bussing tables their. A great memory, just not so great when I was actually bussing tables! 

Anyway, the Flamingo was a grand hotel with beautiful park like grounds in the backyard and a giant pool with pink flamingos on the bottom. Then, like everything, change took place and it became a GIANT hotel... so large the sun didn't shine on the pool anymore so they had to relocate it to another area.... It's once again a beautiful hotel... just not the way I remember it... with Bugsy Seagle and the mob drivin' through the casino standin' on running boards shootin' their tommy guns... Ahhh just kiddin'.  However, in the old park like grounds, their was a sign that stood outside the gorgeous rose bushes that said somethin' like: The roses here grow so well because of the bodies Bugsy planted here: Lol... what a sense of humor they had back then.

Occasionally I used to hang out after the gigs (2 in the morning) at the bar with the other musicians. Different players from different bands would just hang out at a certain bar. Usually the bar with the cheapest drinks. Well, the Flamingo for a while had 50 cent drinks... I remember my buddy sayin' "Heck, at these prices I can't afford not to drink!" I laughed my head off, spoken like a true drinker. On the up side of alcoholism, "They ain't quitters".

I used to live in an apartment on the strip across the street from the Flamingo. Actually right next to Caesars palace. At the time I was the bassist for the Flamingo Showroom, talk about a convenient commute as I'd put my tux on, grab my bass and walk across the street to work.

Back then they had a 'real' drainage problem on the strip and every 4 years or so it would rain fast and hard for a short period of time. The whole strip would flood. I remember cars at Caesars were flooded in the parking lot up to the windows... The strip turned into a large and long running stream. That evening when I went to work, I rolled up my tux pants, held my bass up and waded across the strip to the hotel. The conductor and I were the only ones that showed up for the show... no one else could get through
! I loved it, what an exciting place.
Okay, enough nostalgia for now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Amp Praises

I did a solo show a few months ago in San Diego. Pictured is the amazing - Mike Alvarez joining me on cello for a couple numbers.

The part I like the best about this picture is my trusty blue Tuck 'n Roll Kustom amp. It gets one 'good' sound and one only. Fiddle with the knobs and.... "Eh," ya always go back to 'the one good sound. Funny little amp. but it does the job for small venues and delivers my sound.

Back in the day when these where new, late 60's early 70's a had a couple... then amps came out with "Graphic EQ's" Ohhhhhh somethin' new I had to have and tossed these aside for the "Acoustic 360" (remember thoughs amps. --- 3 useable sounds lol.) Well after 4 decades of "gotta get that amp." I find the Kustom just plan easy and what it may lack in "Superb" hifi sound it makes up for in looks! Just look at it - it's an Italian restaurant booth wrapped around some speakers... who would of thought it!

My brother (Dave who was in the Navy Commodores band - ohhhh very prestigious and elite section of the Navy) was on tour and at sea. The band he was with at that time carried those Kustom amps and they fell overboard and 'splash' right int the ocean! "Well," he said, "They floated and after they fished them out and dried them ..... They WORKED!"

Once on tour when I was a teenager touring threw Europe with these amps... we plugged into the wrong voltage... all the other amps immediately smoked and blew out.... Not the Kustom, it held on. So ya see... great look, durable, one good tone... and after ALL these years, I still use 'em. Did I mention, they're great to sit on too... And after all these years, that's gettin' to be a nice bonus too! Lol

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cool picture with Hilary Swank

Here's an picture I found off the internet with Hilary Swank and myself. We met at a Stanley Cup party for the Red Wings Hockey Team some years back. She was so nice.

The party was a blast and was held at Luc Robitaille's house. Well there was a bunch of us there and they LOADED the 109 year old Stanley Cup up with all kinds of booze. Luc stood on top of a table and would hoist (Ohhh it's big) the trophy cup up and then pour the booze into your mouth. Sounds simple, so when it was my turn (notice the nice suit) I figured to steady the cup I'd clamp my teeth on it. Soooo now my view is from my head halfway in the cup... teeth holdin' on.... and now all I see is the Tsunami wave of beer, vodka, whiskey mixed together headin' toward me. Before I could think 'bad idea with the teeth clamp' - the WAVE crashed over my  mouth, nose, past my ears and on over my head and beyond. Notice the nice suit... that's Pre-Tsunami... Oh it got wet. What Fun! 

Great evening and cool moment to 'drink in' and touch the history of this cup!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Las Vegas!

Well as the title suggest... we're Las Vegas bound. I've got a few more weeks til the gig but I'm excited as my brother Dave will be on the gig too. We're gonna have a blast! This will be a travelin' year as I also be touring to England, Mexico, Canada and Ohio! Hey, what can I say, it's on the books, Ohio's nice especially in the Spring and Fall.

Some of the touring is with the band "Rocket Scientists" some with "Frankie Avalon" and some will be my solo show. I don't have a name for my group so I should call it something... how about the "Hey it's me!" group.

The "Rocket Scientists" "Looking Backward" box set CD and DVD is doing good. I got an email from the bands publicity agent Sandy. She got a request from a radio station in Florida that is playing our CD's for some ID's from us. We recorded them in our own studio's (Since each of us have them in our houses) coverted the tracks to mp3's and sent them onto Sandy who will group them all together and send them all onto the station. They consist of you saying something like: "Hey, this is Don Schiff - Stick player for the Rocket Scientists band sayin' thanks for listen to {insert radio station name here}. Keep on listenin' and we'll keep on playin'!" or something witty like that. You always think you can do a better one, however the first one's usually the best. I sent three... "Let them decide". They're fun to do. I put on my best AM radio announcing voice.. full of over the top excitement - 

Later in the year it's onto Vancouver, Canada to do a solo concert and Stick Seminar. That's gonna be great. I've been to Canada quite a few times however I don't recall ever being to Vancouver. Last time I was in Canada however..... I'm in the airport gettin' ready to come home when "Lassie" the drug sniffin' police dog strolls over on her own and flips the bottom of my coat up with her snout!

I think nothin' of it until two policeman then head over and invite me to join them in a private room. "How nice I think".... special treatment, their dog likes me. Really though, I knew... And so they grill me for half an hour as to what drugs I've got, what I've takin' and who my friends in Canada are. Well, it's a simple answer for me. "I've got no drugs, don't take drugs.... (and for the privacy of my friends) and I have no friends in Canada. The SEARCHED my stuff real good... pulled my credit cards out and checked them for drug residue.... had Lassie give me another proper sniffin' and finally to their great disappointment couldn't find anything and let me go. They said, "The dogs never wrong". I said, "I believe you but???? What can I say?" and so I came home.

After thinkin' about it for awhile, it hit me!!!! As incredible as it may seem, the day before I left Canada I walked past a park and could smell someone nearby was smokin' some weed. That "Lassie's" got quite a nose if she could still pick that up! Good girl, now go save Timmy whose stuck in a well.

When I get back to England I'm gonna have the Blood Pudding again. I've had emails from England sayin' when I get back friends (Cheers Jase) will take me to a place to have it. Yet, it still sounds awful but once I get past thinkin' about the name... I like it. It's like Denny's little round sausage paddies but tastes better... "It just don't sound so nice". 

Alright, dinner time, the wife's hungry, I've cooked nothin' (just like always) and so we'll go out.
Take care,