Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Looking forward to 2012

Hard to believe we're nearing the end of 2011 and rushing head long into 2012! Wow, how time flies. 2011 has been a year of transition for Zero Gravity as we moved through the year we've managed to seek out some of San Diego's best and are now settled on what's proven to be a solid combination that brings out the best in each of us. With ZG on the rise we're looking forward to focusing on defining a new and fresh sound built on a foundation that will showcase our original material. The first half of this year will be dedicated to recording followed by a series of showcases, private concerts and events. With the local club scene in San Diego becoming less and less able to accomodate live music due to the economic challenges they face, we anticipate fewer quality venues available to play and with this in mind we are planning to promote some of our own in-home concerts. If you want to be on our "VIP List" please join our mailing list to recieve personal invites to these "Invitation Only" events.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Night of Sweet Relief

It restores ones faith in humanity when you can get involved in organizations like Sweet Relief Musicians Fund and find venues and musicians that will enthusiastically get on board to participate in the effort to support the entertainers that continue to put their heart and soul into the art they so love, often at the expense of their own welfare. One such venue is Parkway Bar owned by Katie and Doug Halvin, in La Mesa. I didn't have to ask twice and they offered to move my scheduled gig to that date so I could not only support the annual event but additionally participate by playing live on the scheduled evening.

I contacted countless venues and to my amazement didn't even recieve an acknowledgment from many. I can only hope they will simply follow the supplied link and register. Mind you there is nothing to do but register the venue and take in $1 suggested donation,of coarse there are elevated levels of participation as well offered in exchange for premium advertising slots. All donations recieved are then placed in a fund to help disadvantaged, ill, and ageing musicians. Lord knows very few of them are able to fund retirements or afford healthcare insurance. Yet these very same venues will hire musicians for meager wages, expect them to perform like "professionals" charge them for drinks, food, a soda or bottle of water, expect them to bring the PA, and the crowd, do their own and the venues advertising and then refer to them as "flaky musicians" because they request a decent pay even during "hard times". I was also surprised with the lack of compassion and participation many musicians demonstrated with a pass or flat no response when they could have helped by simply encourging the venue they are already scheduled in to sign up, put up a poster and help their fellow musicians. If not to help someone else you'd think they would see the benefit of at least "looking" like they had some concern while getting the free advertising. WTF. It's really quite something after listening to all the whining amoungst both parties about the economy or what the government isn't doing to "solve this problem" for them, blah, blah, blah. The word Karma comes to mind.

So to those venues and artists/musicians that ARE willing to make an effort, Bless you, may you have good karma and I hope you feel this virtual hug! Please let's make a difference even if it's a small one. We could all use "A Night of Sweet Relief"
Join us Oct 15th http://deborahblake.com/shows.htm

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Evolution continues...

One of the most exciting (and challenging) parts of band life is the constant evolution and the strength or vulnerability that follows the changes. Since 1998 I have watched this band morph it's way through the years yet somehow maintain a relatively consistent sound. No doubt due to the reworking of some long held to favorites and re-incarnations of former band members together with new blood. This year 2011 (and part of 2010) the performance side of the band has picked back up and I must say I have enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the crowd and "party".  Of coarse getting back on track and ramping up means, work, work, and more work and now all I have to say about that is "It's worth it. We're looking forward to ROCKIN through the summer and if the wheels don't fall off I'm even beginning to plan on reviving one of my favorite private party gigs if I can get my friends to fly in from Texas. And if that doesn't happen well the fall looks good, the music is happenin', and we'll just have to see what the season brings us.
Wanna see us in your town, here's where to find us (sorry about the duplicate entrys on July 16th posting, can't figure out how to totally delete it yet)
View Bluesmonkey's profile on Eventful

Monday, May 9, 2011

In honor of Mother's of all nations...

We put our minds together

To give thanks to our oldest Grandmother,
The Moon, who lights the night-time sky.
She is the leader of women all over the world,
And she governs the movement of the ocean tides…
It is she who watches over the arrival
Of our children.

Through the skies and Indigenous star knowledge and symbolisms in the form of the morning star, where each day begins… our first prayer, to the feminine energies asking for balance in our lives, to the true warriors of the people… the women, our mothers… protected by the messengers, the eagle, the hawk, all the winged ones… looking towards a better future for all nations, all my relations, walking in beauty… together, down to the simplest of life forms.

Happy Mothers Day!

I wish to share this beautiful honoring statement sent to me from Native American Rights Fund; and sing praise to the beautiful and strong Chippewa women of The Little Traverse Bay Band of Indians of which I am a tribal member. I honor those who have walked the path before me and those who will now walk after___Deborah Kischassey Blake

A song for my children

Monday, April 25, 2011

The burning question...

"What kind of music do you play?" There it is again, the question that demands an answer but somehow never seems to leave me feeling like I have given an accurate answer. The only honest answer seems to be "Good."

While my music is most often categorized as "Blues", my repertoire is derived from a number of musical styles rooted in rock, blues and country; creatively merged and arranged to suit my personal vocal style and ultimately resulting in my own unique "sound". Because of the strong blues influence that runs through out my music it seems to be the best fit when forced to classify my "type" of music.

In regard to my band (Zero Gravity) The challenge that developing this "sound" has created for me/us is in finding musicians that are open, flexible and creative enough to go there with me. While there are an abundance of wonderfully talented musicians whom I feel privileged to play with, the tendency is to resort to compartmentalizing the styles resulting in the band simply performing 3 or 4 separate styles. All done very well but completely missing the goal of creating a new sound. I'm thinking my music might fall into the new "Americana" genre based on the description, however the listeners tend to refer to it as belonging in the "Blues" category.

I've been advised more then once to "stick to one genre so as not to appear to be un-focus". My response is "Why?". I can list a number of artists that cross over genres and are quite successful and probably more musically satisfied (at least if they feel like I do about music).

The obvious solution might appear to be to form separate bands for each style. Unfortunately this robs me of MY style (a merging of rock/blues/country) which is what I want to perform.

Of coarse there are occasions when putting together a "country band" to play a "country gig" or a "blues band" to play a "blues gig" etc... is necessary and appropriate, but these are generally gigs dictated by the hiring party, whether that be a club or private party. As a professional musician these are good gigs and a viable source of work. I am often compelled to follow this model by default, but it is no longer what I want to do except on occasion. At this point in my career I want to continue to develop and perform original pieces in my own style. I want it to be steeped in the blues, delivered with a rock n roll edge, have the soul of R&B and a southern/country heart.

It's a beautiful thing, music, and the challenge is one that sparks a feeling of aliveness in me. As frustrating as it can be the reward when it all comes together is so great it's worth accepting. The search for musicians is more of an opportunity then a chore and more exhilarating then exhausting but requires a dedication and focus that is unwavering to get it right. The best part of the journey is the wonderful musicians and music lovers that I have the pleasure of meeting and playing with.

Keepin the music LIVE

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stick N Stones

Just an observation over the years...

As I pursue the social networks and cruise the music scene it never ceases to amaze me what people have to say online or behind the scenes vs how they behave in person. As I read articles, blogs, posts or whatever, much of it is filled with good wishes toward each other, offering support and hoping for the best for one another. My spirits are raised and I begin to believe there is a community of supportive loving souls out there all wishing the best to one another. Until....

I come face to face with some of these "well wishers". Somehow the "warm fuzzies" are left at home and the "Sticks and Stones" start to fly. Granted this is usually a "new kid on the block" flexing his or her best competitive attitude in effort to appear "cool" and confident; or an "aging musician" whose time has past or at least he/she believes it might be passing soon, and the insecurities are showing. It's quite a show and really rather entertaining.

Real "Fans", are the best! No really, no sarcasm intended! They just love music and players that have a good time. Support every band they can and are the real deal, real LIVE music supporters. However, there are the few who call themselves "Fans" but are stone throwing "Moles" looking to start drama between bands. They are self proclaimed "band loyalists", the unhappy individuals that believe you can't support more then one band and call yourself a true "Fan". Whatever!!! Maybe they missed the audition for "Real World" "Real Housewives" or some other freak show and this is their simpleminded idea of support for the band they follow.

Fortunately I have been around long enough to have found a great number of humble talented and devoted player but I certainly had my share of band drama and if you've maintained a band for any length of time you know this guy.
The band member that got dropped, cut, or quit in a fit of drama for whatever reason and is now willing to tell anyone who'll listen how shitty the band, the material, and the talent was any way. He/She will murmur to any ear that will bend and gets a real thrill if the listener is a "Mole" who will help perpetuate the drama. Even worse, the band member that stays on board and talks shit during every break about how none of the players measures up to his/her skill level but they need the money. This is usually the same guy that bitches about how much they are not getting paid (right in earshot of the club owner!), never makes rehearsals (he's to good for that)and jumps ship for an extra $20 bucks. To them I say "How's that working for ya?"!

Fortunately even though there are a few bad apples, for the most part, my experience with people (musicians and Fans alike) is always a pleasure. I love people, good and bad. Besides, if I'm patient and watch carefully, the bad apples always float to the top and are easily moved aside or scooped up by the "takers" who are to busy to notice. To them I say "Good luck with that!".

It's a short time we have here on earth and the time is even shorter when we get to do something as rewarding as making and sharing music. if you can't laugh at this maybe you should ask yourself a few hard questions...just sayin'

...PS...this is not directed at anyone in particular just an observation over the years so if you're a "Mole" and reading this, sorry but this is not fuel for your burning need to gossip. You know who you are (most of us do too).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nice goin Lads and Lassies...

What can I say, Riley's turned out to be a really fun spot. Nice staff, great sound engineer, friendly patrons, cozy couches, good drink specials; just an all around nice evening. We'll definitely put them on our "let's do it again" list. Hope everyone had a safe and fun St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring is in the air...

Aah the sweet smell of spring, the sound of chimes blowing in the breeze, flowers startin' to peek out of the flower beds and birds in the air. Can't help but get excited about all the cool outdoor events, concerts and venues!

The only drag in sight is the ball-n-chain of this lousey economy and how it's effected the model for booking arrangments. I'm all for band members beinging asked to be active in the promotion of their gigs. Gone are the days where bands get a flat fee per set guarenteed by the venue and the venue handles the promotion, cares for the patrons, runs specials and books good entertainment (i.e. bands)to bring them in. In turn their patrons have a positive experiance, stick around and spend their hard earned money for a good time and come back again to party with the band they just had such a great time with. Todays model has shifted to the "pay-to-play" model and the venues are being assisted by middle-men booking agency's who make their cut from both sides leaving the bands wanting and the venues pleased not to deal with booking or paying out any share of the bar or food profits. Basically the band pays the middle-man by selling of tickets for which they are offered a small percentage and the promise of a bigger share IF they reach a pre-set tier. But wait there's more! The band should realize the agent is doing them a favor by "getting a slot" in the line up so they can "gain exposure"! Now doesn't that sound like a deal?! LOL This model dosn't seem to ultimately benefit the venue or the band. It just splits the money into even more bite-size pieces. My observation (since I don't work under this model) is a noted lack of effort on the part of the venues to promote the bands, or even the events. They do promote their venue, their specials, other up coming events and general info all during another band's event night, on their ads, flyers, and FB walls. Venues and booking agents now demand the bands/artists handle ticket sales (including advance) sales and offer small percentage as compensation, while they benefit from free advertisement, guarenteed ticket sale profits, new patron soliciation, and cost free entertainment. Then they book 5 and 6 bands and load you in and out like cattle and treat you about the same.

The other model is "Open Jams", where the house band (or at least the band leader/manager) gets a set amount and the hired back-line gets a petty sum and maybe a free drink. They play the first set and other musicians fill the night and the house for them and the venue.

What happened to sharing the night, we spilt the door and get a percentage of bar after a set minimum is reached. We all promote together. Bands use to at least get one free drink or meal. Good luck with that these days.

DJ's, Karaoke...don't get me started!

Just sayin'....

Well it's a good thing I and the foundation members of ZG enjoy the music and the people we play it for because there's little motivation outside of the fun. Fortunately it's what's important in my life; to share the music, the fun and build lasting relationships. I would, however, love to support the band with much needed cash now and again and fund a recording project. So "thank you" to all the fans who come and pay the covers, drink the drinks and eat the food; and to the awesome number of musicians who continue to be optimistic and willing to play first for the love of music and second for their selfless nature and willingness to share their talent. You are all what keep the wheels greased.


Keepin' the music LIVE,

Monday, February 28, 2011

What a cool night!

Satuday night, Feb 26th at Tango Del Rey was a great time! Here's a big "Vitual Hug" to all the loyal friends who braved the weather and made it out to Tango Del Rey. The surprise B-day party was a total success and the evening in general was filled with great music, conversation, food and dancing. Thanks so very much to the Scottie "Mad Dog" Blinn band, (thanks Scot, Al and Stephan) who got things off to a great start. To Rebecca Russel (from Red Door Interiors) for all the time and effort she put in on decorating and staging. To Jay Berman, for sharing his incredible talent on the grand Piano with my band of awesome players. ZeroGravity's line-up included: Kurt Kujawa - guitar, Jerry Cox - Bass, Tony Garrick - Drums, Wayne Marcus - Harmonica/vox, and Dean Smith - percussion and special guest Steve Burns (Burnsville Band) sitting in on 2nd guitar. It was a true pleasure gentlemen. Many Thanks to the staff @ Tango Del Rey. To Mario from MUSICologySD.com for videotaping the evening, " Thanks Mario" I look forward to seeing what special moments you captured. To all those wonderful new friends we made, thank you for sharing our good time and welcome to the party! If you're not on my/ZG's email list take a minute and sign up so we can stay connected. With you there to share the music we have a party.


Deborah Blake

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


You know as time passes it becomes more and more apparent just how small the world really is. SD has always had a "music scene" how ever good or bad it's described depends entirely on who you talk to, and how things have gone for that particular musician. My experience in this town has been a long and winding road complete with ups and downs. It's been a friendly neighborhood filled with great friends and experiences, as well as a dark and sinister back lot at times. Through the numerous transitions ZG has moved through I'm left with precious memories and of coarse a fair number of disturbing ones recounting those occasions when friends/band members move on or are shoved aside, (hence the penning of "Dear John") lol.

2011 is starting out with what's shaping up to be firm foundation. We've been "dating" our newest members for enough time to have answered the tough and intimate questions like; Is this guy willing to put the time in?, Does he come with a lot of drama? How is he going to treat us when he's "in a bad mood"? And, is he willing to promo his own band or does he just have his "hand out"? Assuming our impressions of one another are true and not "acceptance out of desperation", we might just have something that could be the next 10 year (or more) stretch for ZG. Not a feat easy to accomplish when everyone in the band are all past the age of  the "Let's all rent a house and start a band" phase. It's time in life to make room for families and life out side of the band too.

I have a feelin, it's gonna be a good year and anticipate a lot good music and fun in store. Starting with a fun party/gig we have scheduled on Feb 26th, followed by a rockin St. Patty's Day.

Signin off
Death Before DJ's, Keep it Live!

Here's the scoop

Friday, February 4, 2011

Getting started...

Well it's 2011 and things are getting off to a nice start. As usual there has been the continued hunt for the perfect mix of players who have the skill, heart, time and desire to help forward the band. SD has a rep for being a difficult (i.e. unfriendly) town for bands to call home. Lots of  "hired guns", not a lot of experianced players willing to settle in without a lot of  "guarentees". However with a good spirit and proper use of time so as not to lose motivation during the "dry" seasons the band can survive albeit "virtual" at times.

On the bright side the hunt has turned up some really fun collaborations and resulted in what appears to be a really nice combination of veteran players and we seem to be stumbling upon a very cool vintage sound with a freedom only we pirates know. I have to say I'm quite excited about getting together for rehearsal these days because it's proving to be just plain FUN. We're preparing for a show this month and it's one of the first I've done in a while that I know will be a "good time" just based on the playing with this group in this venue. Now if the turn out is a good one - and I have reason to believe it will - that will just put it over the top.

Here's a shout out to my now long time performance and writing partner Kurt Kujawa - guitar, our bass player for the past 7 months Jerry Cox, newest members long time friend and fellow jammer Terry Padgett - guitar, and drummer Tony Garrick. Topping off the list will be Wayne Marcus, killer harmonica player and one of the most soulful singers this side of Chicago. Joining us when the venues will support those cool embelishments is percussionist Dean Smith. Yet to be added - that elusive B3/keyboardist, but we have his scent and will flush him out soon enough.

Not a bad start to 2011, right?

That's it for tonight, signing off___Bluesmonkey