Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Not Again...

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What?? Another solo-ish gig?'s true, Matt Powers and I are returning to the stage at the RedBlood Club in Soon-to-be-a-Memory....I mean Deep Ellum. In case you don't live in the Metroplex area or you're more out of touch with the news than me - Deep Ellum, the largest and longest running "Arts District" in Dallas is in danger of being bulldozed to make room for upscale, urban-living and shopping areas in addition to other things we already have enough of in this town. In 5 years it will no longer exist, at least in any recognizable form.

But enough with the belly-aching; something needs to change down there, and I'm here to tell you that Voiceless Youth is opening the show some time between 6 and 7 (I guess), and the The Pickin' Polack and his Little Drummer Boy will then slaughter some cover-songs before being joined by that rounder Chadillac for the never-before-seen perfomance of Saddle Tramp songs with a drummer (and no mandolin/accordian, or bass for those playing at home). The headliners are local cats called The Battle Band playing some kind of Dub/Reggae mutant hybrid so it's an eclectic bill to say the least. It's a Free show and they have cheap beer & no dress-code at this joint so cobble together the dough you didn't spend on Aunt Trudie's Lotto tickets for Christmas this year and gather the freaks-with-nothing-better-to-do on X-mas Eve-Eve and head on down.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

King Khan & BBQ show changed my life (again)!

Photo by R. Otazo.

Real Rock and Roll isn't dead...

I know this isn't news to some of you, and there are still more of you that either don't care or have been blissfully listening to a neutered, watered-down version of what was once a genuine force of nature. I was lucky enough to attend another of those all-too-rare life-changing shows last Friday night in beautiful Denton, Texas. The King Khan & BBQ show are among a growing number of musical acts that appear to be making music for themselves first with the knowledge that doing so is the only way to produce "art" or at least kick-ass music that will find it's own audience. In a perfect world (and yes, that would be MY vision of a Utopia) their song "Waddlin' Around" (from their first, self-titled album recorded in 2004 and issued by Goner Records in the U.S.A.) would have been a number one, chart-topping single.

It's strange world we live in that loves nothing more than to forget the past. I'm often reminded of this phenomenom when people are unable to get into an artist(visual, musical, literary ot otherwise) that was clearly the template for one of their favorites seemingly for the reason that they aren't current. That would be a real shame in the case of this duo as they combine elements of primitive/early rock and roll with doo-wop and early punk and garage rock(with touches of psychedlia no less) to create a style that is both timeless and forward-thinking. This has been said about many bands before but it needs to said again. The music in itself is really great but with the addition of a truly spectacular stage-show they are NOT TO BE MISSED!

I won't go into great detail about them as there are plenty of other articles on the net that do so but here are the basics: Two guys. One plays the drums with his feet while playing guitar and singing. The other plays guitar and sings while dancing around and staring into the crowd with an expression that is hard to describe. They often wear costumes including dresses and wigs, Nazi helmets, and Swami turbans and/or capes. For a close-up look at the set-up you can consult this site:

I have loved their music for years now and had heard tales of amazing shows but nothing prepared me for this one.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mr. Boom Boom and Treble Boy on stage.

The Pickin' Polack "Sings"!

Saddle Tramp is the band I play guitar in and provide some vocals for. Chadillac wrote all the original songs minus 'Clear Syrup' which William wrote. To this date I have only written one song that was anything other than a goofy little ditty but for various reasons I still haven't felt like I could perform it live. This hasn't stopped me from wanting to play more shows, and music in general, than has been possible for some time now.

The band was booked to open for what was being referred to as a Czech Bluegrass band at the RedBlood Club in Deep Ellum, which contrary to popular belief isn't entirely dead yet, but still many are wondering "Who cares?". That's another story all-together. We had to cancel, and in a moment of madness I told my friend Justin who books at the club that I'd come up with something in our place. I figured I could whip up some cover songs to play with whomever I could coerce into doing so with me.

In typical fashion I waited until the last minute before putting much thought into the set. I had a handful of what I considered to be classics in a variety of genres that seemed to go together in my often-non-linear mind. There were selections from Tom T. Hall, the Yardbirds, Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt, the Compulsive Gamblers, Blue Mountain, and Doug Sahm; some I knew well, some I thought I knew, and some I had no business attempting at such a late date. So two days before the show I called up Matt Powers who has a practice space and a bunch of instruments including a drum-kit which he can keep a beat on at least as well as Meg White; he was stoked.

We met the night before the show and with the aid of some Tecate hammered out the set. We were scared at first but things began to gell quickly...either that or the beer kicked in but we were making progress. We decided we'd better meet there again the next night before the show to run through it one more time which we did. There was a respectable crowd for a Tuesday night gig in barely-breathing Ellum which I credit to loyal friends(whom I wanted to keep this secret from initially) and the headliners Austin Lucas and the Pressmen. After a little Irish courage we took to the stage and it was fun and apparently "a lot better than we thought it would be" so I'm happy.

Voiceless Youth was next and he was a train-hopping young man with an acoustic guitar singing what I would call punk-folk. (really folk in style but a punky look and spirit if you will). He was pretty entertaining! The headliners were up next and I could tell be their warm-up/tune-up that they were REALLY professional. Turns out that Austin is an American living in the Czech Republic and his band is mostly Scottish but hey close enough, right? I guess some of those cats are from hardcore(or something similar) band Oi Polloi. I could only stay to hear the first few songs but they play soulful, melodic, passionate and beautiful traditional bluegrass that is slower than what one would typically think of as bluegrass. These guys are good and I even bought a cd and a 45. I feel lucky to have been on the bill with these guys and I hope they come back.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Long Over-due in many ways...

Well, in typical style I'm too late on this one but I wanted the world to know how proud I am of my Dad, Grant Krakowski, for being selected as's Hog Thumper of the Month last month. He's a man of many passions, but he's primarily into hunting with a growing focus on archery in it's various forms including primitive archery which I find fascinating. He's the guy on the right and though it might be hard to tell from this photo my "mug" is largely derivative of his; could be a lot worse, right?! Most of my best qualities come from him so I feel pretty lucky. (Don't worry Mom, your times a'comin'.)

In other news, I've considered doing away with this blog as I don't really have the time to make it anywhere near as cool as most of the ones I peruse regularly. I guess it gets me writing a little bit so depending on how things go it might change dramatically. There's a lot of change going on right now, both in my personal life and in my creative pursuits. Too early to comment on this too much, but I can tell you that one of my oldest friends and I are starting a fine art press/studio kind of thing but despite the way this sounds it's not going to be boring, pretentious or typical so LOOK OUT WOILD!!!(mispelling intentional to imply pronunciation like some East Coast character of days- gone-by. Possibly Jewish.)

Oh yeah...HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY EVERYBODY!! The Weather sucks, but my wish for you is that you spend it with friends, and/or family with good food, the beverage of your choice, and hopefully some truly great music; you know like "Insert Name of This Weeks Disposable Pop Fabrication". "They/He/She"'s got soul, baby!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

It's like ART, man!

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Drawing, related, and unrelated matters.

I used to draw a lot as a younger man. I often wonder how I managed to sit for hours on end happily drawing when I find it so difficult to do so now. A diminished attention span is certainly one factor to consider. After graduating from college my interest in creating art seemed to diminish somewhat...we'll not really my interest but my actual output. Art school was a lot of fun, and I produced a fair amount of work but for a variety of reasons I became disillusioned with the "art" world, whatever that is. Apparently things have changed a bit since then but when I was taking art classes the focus seemed to be on conceptual work, and abstract expressionism, which were basically the polar-opposite of what I was interested in producing. In many ways I am a traditionalist, an old-schooler, a luddite - call it what you will. I value drafting ability, and a well-composed and rendered image, though many would be surprised to hear this based on my love of lowbrow, kitcshy and often "ugly" art and cartoons.

Upon entering the workforce and dealing with a full-time plus job and leaving behind my cozy, liberal-arts college with all it's inspiring denizens I found it difficult to stay motivated creatively on my own. Coming from a small town with an amazing music scene like Denton back to Dallas I re-discovered the guitar and without the intimidation factor of the brilliant players I knew I started to progress and play for enjoyment again. One thing I enjoyed about playing the guitar was that it seemed so spontaneous and non-committal - meaning that unless it was being recorded the tones just kind of floated away into the ether. This was so different than the relationship I'd had with visual art. With art you had a permanent record of every success, or failure you produced. Well, I suppose you could destroy the stuff as you go along but it's difficult to part with something you've invested so much time in.

For better or worse the common perception that life's hardships, and trying times foster a nurturing environment for the production of great works doesn't seem to ring true for me. I tend to shut down creatively under that kind of pressure, or perhaps I just feel justified in not living up to my potential. The image at the top of this post is a cheesy collage depicting a quick sketch I did today, and the cover of a new sketchbook I bought recently with a thrown together vinyl image I emblazoned upon it. I gave myself permission to draw anything, regardless of quality or meaning within it's pages. I'm trying to get back to the freedom I once felt in creating art, that is so similar to how I often feel about playing the guitar. Yeah, I know there's a war on - Boo Hoo.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Saddle Tramp at Fred's Texas Cafe 3-10-07.

Creativity comes full circle.

Hi you two! Did you miss me? Yeah, I know...we've all been busy. It's so hard in this work-a-day world to keep up with the things that matter, or even my attempt at a blog. Heck, I still haven't made it to the point where I'm comfortable posting an Mp3 on my site or tucking in my shirt. Oh well, there are plenty of great music blogs out there if that's what you want. And in my defense I've been pretty distracted by recent events that I won't go into right now.

It's been months since my last post but a lotttttt of stuff has happened during this transitional time in my life. That picture at the top isn't just to show off the rugged good looks of our band Saddle Tramp; It also serves to illustrate the completion of a great circle(cycle?) that began when I met some friends, and one stranger for what I thought would be the first practice of a new punk/garage/rock and roll band. In what I thought was a typical result of this meeting the band never did practice or even get together again but we did go to a cool place called Fred's Texas Cafe for burgers, and beers afterwards. That's when Jeremy Diaz gave me my first decent amp just for the promise of getting it fixed and then using that to play some tunes. Thanks again for your generosity Jeremy, and for those of you that have ever seen the Riverboat Gamblers, Dead Sexy, or his newest band the Strange Attractors he's been instrumental in the sound and formation of all of them. Sure it was a smallish, solid-state Fender Deluxe 85, but it was LOUD and it had a springer-reverb so I was happy. In fact I still play through that amp and last Saturday night we played at Fred's, where the photo was taken by J.T. Deadbones , thus the circle was completed. In fact just by playing some fun, little shows and getting a decent response I feel that I've accomplished a life-long goal that I was beginning to think was impossible.

I've always been a creative type of person, and I've gone through many different stages, and phases in the expression of my creativity which usually manifests itself in the form of art and music. I've always felt more qualified to say that I'm a visual artist than a musician but in recent years I've tried to even up the score a bit. I play guitar and do some vocals in a simple, Country/Folk/Roots/Americana/Texas Music band but compared to most professional musicians I'm pretty untrained in technical terms. Still, I feel like I've come a long way from the bedroom recordings I used to make with friends that were little more than musical comedy for the sole purpose of entertaining ourselves. I've always been a big music fan but for a variety of reasons including: the fact that I was disillusioned with the "art" world (I wasn't sure where my place was between that and the advertising/illustration world), I needed a change of pace, and I was plagued by personal hang-ups/copping-out I pretty much blew off art for music. I'm ready to strike a balance once again.

I'm excited about not only making art, but also checking out what's going on in the art world once again. My niece Lauren has been doing some incredible paintings and it's been very inspiring to me and there are more interesting galleries and alternative art-spaces around the Metroplex than ever so the time feels right. I have this sick fantasy that the years of back-logged creativity will just pour out of me to produce interesting results but one thing I've learned is that most of the "romantic" notions of the artist/poet/musician, etc. are nothing more than justifications for one thing or another and are not based in truth. You have to create and maintain your own muse because creativity is like a muscle that needs to be used and strengthened or it will wither and die.

We recorded six songs for an e.p. thingy and the rough mixes sound pretty nice. You can listen to three of them here:

and here's a link to the fabulous Fred's: