Friday, February 25, 2011

My GPS told me that I had to take a certain route which would best suit my punctual arrival at the Viper Room. I had always wanted to play there, but I had never had the chance until the gig on February 8. Other original bands that I had been involved with were either not up to par or they just didn't have an interest in playing there. It was an historical musical landmark; as far as my humble opinion goes. It had once been owned by Johnny Depp and the fact that River Phoenix passed-to-the-other-side there only served to romanticize it's mystique among in the L.A. hipster elite. The venue was - and is - indelibly cool no matter how you look at it. I left early to get there early. My wife Christina was with me.

405 North...get off on the Wilshire Boulevard, take a left on Santa Monica Boulevard. I took the left on SMB. Driving east I could see short glimpses of beautiful houses peaking through trees and fences. No people anywhere, man. No one walking. No one waiting at a bus stop...nothing. The streets were populated with people driving their cars...that was about it. And anyone from L.A. knows how everyone drives here: faceless masks with road rage emotion lying just beneath the surface of false engine tranquility. We passed a sign which read "Beverly Hills". The scent of money wafting in through the ventilating car windows. Except for the noise and movement of traffic; the streets themselves were still in relative repose. (A digression: we passed many nondescript streets until I happened to notice a street named "Camden". Camden happens to be the name of my as-yet-unborn nephew who is going to be born soon in Sacramento. At the time I thought that it was kind of a cosmic coincidence and it seemed to hold infinite significant meaning. Now it seems funny - and on the verge of stupid - that I should mention it here, but I guess this is the way my brain works and this is how I write.) We made a left on Doheny (I was still dutifully following every command of my GPS). The streets on Doheny seemed different; dark and a little mysterious. Trees mutely hung over the street still casting ominous twenty-four-seven shadows. The passing apartments probably housed musicians, actors, maybe an artist or two.

When we finally reached Sunset Boulevard, it was like a light went on. In fact everything seemed to be lit up like a Christmas tree, man. The streets were full of people walking around in black clothing (no doubt somehow silently exhibiting their varying degrees of hipness). The Viper Room loomed-up on the right side so I passed it and turned on the first street on the right: Larrabee. Parking was located directly behind the club. I turned in and paid the 10 bucks which would supposedly ensure my vehicle's safety.
"Is anyone going to break into our car?", my wife said jokingly to the parking attendant.
"They wouldn't dare! Over my dead body! I will protect it with my life!", the good-humored attendant retorted in mock self-importance.
(Wow...am I really experimenting with trying to add actual dialog to this story?)

Christina and I were allowed in through a side door. There was a small bar downstairs. We went upstairs to the room that I was going to be playing in. It was cool! Bigger than downstairs. Shiny black floor. Thousands of words floating around in the dense air blurring together like mixed colors. Loud music. Lots of activity. People were engaged in drinking, dancing, and the kind of conversations where you have to talk directly into someone's eardrum in order for them to hear anything that you are saying. Lots of people dressed in black up there too. (Must be a signature Hollywood thing.) We stood there for a few minutes and decided to kill some time elsewhere. It was still an hour and a half before the performance so we decided to go get some coffee. We went back out through the side door (where we had come in) and asked the cool bearded-guy at the door where we could go to get some java. He told us that the best place for coffee was the Hustler Hollywood store just up the street; one block west of the club. My first reaction was "really?" as I could clearly see that there was a Peet's Coffee right across the street. But my wife and I decided to trust one 'o the locals so we headed up the street just as he (the bearded-guy) had directed.

We walk into Hustler Hollywood and, lo and behold, there actually was a coffee shop in there complete with teas and all sorts of pastries! We decided that it would be best not to drink too much caffeine at that late hour so we opted instead for some de-caffeinated green tea. I noticed that there were a few empty wooden tables in there amidst porn mags, porn videos, how-to-fellatio-and-or-cunnilingus books, kinky leather gear, and handbags that had dyed fluorescent blue fur all over them. While waiting for the teas to come, a bearded-guy (another one) wearing a Green Bay Packers jacket and jeans comes up to me. I could tell that he had thrown back a few...if you catch my drift. He asks me whether he could 'borrow' a cigarette. Upon overhearing his request, the chick making our teas behind the counter went off. I mean...she was irate, man! She told him to get the hell out of the store if he didn't have any money. (Apparently she thought that the guy was trying to bum a few dollars off of an already self-proclaimed bum such as myself). He tried to explain himself, but the chick behind the counter wasn't having any of it. I didn't really know what to say to the poor guy as he was hazily trying explain himself in earnest. All I could say was that I didn't have a cigarette or something similarly obtuse. (Later I saw the same guy at the show and imagined that he might have snuck in through the front door as we were loading-in to get to the stage.) We drank our teas distractedly and then left to go back to the club. As we were leaving the chick behind the counter smiled and wished me luck at the show. That was cool of her, I guess...

Our set was to start at 10:30pm. It was about 9:30pm. We watched the band before us. They were good. As they launched into their last number it was time to load-in. I schlepped my sparse gear (snare, bass pedals, and various cymbals) to the closed front door of the club. Brian, Mike, and Dan were already there. I could hear the last bit of a song humming, and then fading away, through the outside wall. Then the front door opened. The other band was leaving as we were entering which, of course, adds a little more chaos to the proceedings; but we got on stage and started to piece everything together as quickly as we could. It took me a few minutes as I was looking around for a tom to bang on. (The girl drummer in the last band used a minimal set which is blasphemy to me. I usually like to use everything humanly possible on a drum-set.) The sound guy (Chris) sets the mics on the drums and then asks everyone what they need. I tell him that I need some guitar here...a little more bass guitar there. Chris follows my directions to a tee. No 'tude' (as per usual with sound dudes in Los Angeles). If I asked him for a certain level on a certain instrument; the level was there! He was fucking amazing! Usually what happens on the circuit is that a sound man will ask you what-you-need and what-you-need is usually there in the monitor before the set. During the set is a different story. It's as if any conversation that you had with the sound man before the set was completely and utterly irrelevant.

We start playing and, from start to finish, it was one of those nights when everything goes right. A perfect gem of a set. I am of the belief that - besides the actual members of the band - the sound men played a big part in creating the vibe and how we were coming across to the audience. They were an integral part of the band. The songs flowed well...like going from one musical landscape to another. I had the best seat in the house as far as I was concerned. From the drum throne I watched Brian and Mike perspire profusely under the heavy bright lights. Dan, who does not perspire (or maybe he just perspires inwardly), dug into his bass-lines, keyboard, guitar, and percussion parts with self-absorbed efficiency. All three of them were twitching and contorting their bodies in all kinds of ways in order to get a particular note, emotion, or sound across to all those sets of eyes and ears. The audience was loud and receptive. They understood what we were trying to do up there. All of us were grateful. After the set - when it was time to get back to life and reality - the band said their goodbyes to one another and then thanked the genuine sound-man Chris. We hoped that we would return to the Viper Room soon. The entire staff there was professional, cool, and ready to help. Christina and I jumped back into our vehicle - our souls burning - and took a part of that particular evening's events home with us. No moon out. Just the night, the streets, and the snaky freeway.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Supernatural Convention in LA

There have been some rumors floating around that we'd like to clear up... We don't know how they started, but people have been saying that Jared and Gen will not be at the show on Friday. We just want to clear this up and tell you that Jared and Gen will be there on Friday. We're really looking to spending another lovely night with Jared, Gen, and all the Supernatural fans this Friday at 10.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Salute To Supernatural Convention. San Francisco, California.


The weeks leading up to the San Francisco gig were full of anticipation. We had been invited to play at the 'Salute To Supernatural Convention' at the Westin Saint Francis Hotel by Jared Padalecki and Genevieve Cortese (two of the lead actors of the Supernatural television series). It was decided that I should work a half-day at my day job and then leave there at noon in order to do some last-minute packing. I planned to leave my apartment in Redondo Beach at 1:00pm in order to get to Mike's place at 2:00pm.

When I got home from work - and parked in the garage area of my apartment complex - I thought that packing my drums into the wifey's Nissan X-terra would be easy and that fitting my luggage, along with all the drum equipment, into the vehicle would be child's play. I couldn't have been more wrong. Staring into the available space of my wife's SUV was like staring into an abyss of endless possibilities. I didn't have a clue as to how to fit anything back there. I manipulated various items of equipment this way and that. Nothing seemed to be working. There would either be room enough for all but one piece of equipment or - after painstakingly reconfiguring the whole shebang - everything would fit except for two small bags. It was maddening! I began to perspire stupidly. What would Kerouac, Lennon, Kennedy, Celine, or Bukowski do? After many agonizing minutes the puzzle finally fit. I rushed upstairs to my apartment, wolfed down a peanut butter sandwich (along with a red apple and a low-fat granola bar), and took a very non-committal and haphazard shower. The time that I had planned to show up at Mike's pad was off the mark by at least two hours.

The drive to Mike's apartment would have been a breeze except for the traffic. I was going along at a nice clip on on the 110 North until the sparse skyline of Los Angeles came into view through the windshield. As soon as I saw those nifty skyscrapers the traffic instantaneously slowed to a snail's pace. Two feet forward and then a 45 second stop. One foot forward and then a 30 second stop (and all the other insane variations on this theme). Upon reaching the transition ramp from the 110 North to the 101 North I found out, as did everyone else, that a driver had stalled. There he was with the hood of his car raised in surrender and his beige-colored pant legs (and idiotic dress shoes) sticking out of the driver-side door. I don't know what the guy was doing. Maybe he was trying to start the damn thing. Maybe he was trying to replace a fucking fuse. Maybe he was trying to contemplate the writings of Dos Passos. Whatever he may have been doing... it made no sense to me. If I was trying to start my car I would be looking under the hood or something! Anyway, I was irritated as all get out! I was late as hell!

Mike lives on nice street. Sidewalk slightly sloping up towards the north; tree-lined with palm trees and other nameless shrubbery. Joggers. The excruciatingly white letters of the "Hollywood" sign clearly visible at the top of a mountain. I pulled up at 4:00pm. The sun was getting low. Yellow city afternoon in Hollywood. I gave Mike a call and he tells me he'll be right down. Mike, and his significant other Jessie, show up all smiles and good vibrations. Mike didn't seem to have a lot of equipment which made me feel like I actually did a good job packing the SUV. As soon as I opened the back of the SUV up to put Mike's stuff in there, I knew that the fleeting happiness that I had felt moments before was about to dissipate into thin air. Again...I tried to put a few things here and there and absolutely nothing was working. After I few minutes I abandoned this plan of action and decided to pull everything out of there. Mike and I eventually found a way to fit everything in there, but it took a few minutes of trial and error...just like life, you know?

We left Mike's apartment and headed north barely making out of the late afternoon traffic congested streets with our lives and vehicle intact. Interstate 5 North only cleared up after we passed Magic Mountain Parkway. The sun was beginning to set behind the mountains - long shadows cast across the highway. We were finally on our way.

Along the way we had all sorts of interesting conversations about life, love, people, music, and our chosen field of expertise. It was the first time Mike and I ever had a one-on-one conversation beyond the distraction of the rehearsal room and/or the performance venue. I had been with the band for 5 years and I never knew the guy as well as I wanted to until this particular trip. It was great to have my wife's SUV at our disposal as Mike does not know how to drive stick-shift. We were able to take turns driving which helped me out a lot. I didn't get a lot of sleep (four hours at the most). The night before we had played a gig in Los Angeles, I got home late, and then I had to get up and show my bedraggled face at the obligatory day-job.

Although we were sitting for hours it still seemed as if the trip were passing in a blur of activity. I dosed, talked aimlessly, and put on some music that I thought Mike would like to hear. Mike let me hear some of the stuff had had been listening to recently too. Suddenly we found ourselves on Interstate 580 West. The drive into San Fran was beautiful. After paying $4.00 at a toll booth, we drove on the Bay Bridge and the lights of the city, set against the infinite blackness of the sky, could be seen on our right. I love S.F., man! The maze-like streets with luckless pedestrians sauntering on dimly-lit sidewalks. Positive energy surging through the streets and alleyways like a burst of electric blue life. I immediately felt sudden urge to go to Chinatown and get a late-night supper. Nothing doing, though. We had to get the equipment out of our car. We phoned Dan (he had already arrived) and he met us out on a sidewalk outside of the Westin St. Francis. Standing beside him was Randy. Randy was head of security at the hotel and he kindly directly us to where we should stow our equipment cases. Randy even helped us drag some of our stuff in there - which, I thought, was very cool and very unusual. (It is my experience that some hotel employees perfunctorily point the way - or half-heartedly answer your questions - and immediately disappear into their private oblivions leaving you to your own devices. But every single staff member of the Westin St. Francis was friendly and willing to help in any way that they could). We stored the equipment backstage in a huge ballroom which, at the time, was being used for a Karaoke event. I could hear very interesting, pitch-challenged renditions of well-known classic rock tunes. On one of the trips from-the-vehicle-back-to-the-ballroom I heard some faceless dude belting out 'Dead Or Alive' by Bon Jovi. He hit a note - in the chorus section of the tune - that made me want to hysterically laugh out loud, but I wanted to be polite so I didn't...on top of that I was much too tired from the drive to exert myself in such a fashion. It was all in good innocent fun...it seemed that everyone in that room was having an incredible time.

The Westin St. Francis is beautiful place to stay. High ornate ceilings, hand-carved balustrades, marble floors, and a huge grandfather clock in the lobby were reminders of an era gone by. The hotel was built at the turn of the century so there was an incredibly cool vibe in there (regardless of the sordid stories about Fatty Arbuckle and Al Jolson). I felt safe and felt as if everything in the city was nearby and within walking distance. We checked into our rooms. I was starting to get really tired, but Mike and Dan were full of pent-up energy. I couldn't figure it out. Didn't we all just take a 6 hour drive? I stayed in my room - like an adolescent wallflower at a school dance - as they decided to walk around the hotel and scope things out. I tried to check my e-mails from my phone, but there seemed to be no internet access no matter how hard I tried to connect. In a daze of fatigue (and in a sort of counting-sheep-kind-of-way) I turned the television on and vacillated between the talking heads of CNN and other sundry channels before falling into a fitful sleep. The "sleep of the justified" as someone once wrote.

The next morning I walked around the hotel looking for a place to get some breakfast. To tell you the truth, I wasn't digging the price ranges...so I went outside. I found a great little restaurant on the corner named "Max's" where I ordered an omelet and some coffee. Afterwards, I felt like walking over to my favorite book store "City Lights Books" to check out the Beat lit, but decided instead to walk uphill on Powell. It was a beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky. The sun, even at that early hour, was shining down on the busy city like a giant eye of God. I could feel myself sweating under my hat. Everyone out in the street was bundled-up in jackets and sweaters. When I reached the top of Powell I tried to access the internet on my iPhone. Still nothing. Maybe the damn thing was broken. From where I stood I could see the hill that I had just walked up on one side; on the other I could see where Powell ended at the Fisherman's Wharf area. Visibility unlimited. I spent many fine minutes up there and then walked back down Powell towards the hotel. Upon arriving, someone informed me that there was free internet access in the lobby area. Once my iPhone linked up to the internet access in the lobby it worked in the hotel (and everywhere else) throughout my stay.

When I got back to my room I was told that we had to move the equipment from the ballroom to the 32nd floor where our concert would take place. In the lobby I saw that Brian had arrived with Natalia. We were all glad to see each other. I hadn't seen either Brian or Natalia up until that time because they had been staying somewhere outside of the city for the night. We hauled our stuff, via freight elevators, up to the Alexandra Ballroom. The Alexandra Ballroom had a small lighting system installed into the ceiling, a stage, and the huge windows in there offered very dramatic (and panoramic) views of just about every angle of the city. We were blown away. We set up our equipment, did a sound-check, and then went over to Harry Denton's "Starlight Room" (in another building across the street) to meet up with Jared and Genevieve for a few drinks.

Jared and Genevieve were awesome. I hadn't seen them in a while. Their friendliness and openness put me at ease. We gathered a few chairs around a huge couch and we sat and shot the breeze. Jared's sister and Jared's personal assistant were also there. We even got to meet the owner of the place himself: Harry Denton. The Starlight Room was a great place. It was moodily dark in there and we could actually look up into the sky, towards the Westin St. Francis, and see where we were going to perform in a few hours (the Alexandra Ballroom was brightly lit up from the inside). A few yards from where we were sitting there were some Jazz musicians warming-up for their set. A saxophone player was softly breathing through his instrument running various scales amongst the din of people talking. As I looked towards the west end of the city I noticed that a blanket of fog was slowly creeping in from off of the Pacific ocean. The city lights lighting the fog from the bottom up made it seem like the fog had a slightly orange tint to it. I drank two cokes. It was time to leave.

Up to the room for a quick change into the clothes that I would be performing in and then a freight elevator ride to the Alexandra. When I got there, crowds of people were already filing in. I was nervous as hell and felt like vomiting. The band had to play a good show. Not only for us, but for Jared and Genevieve who had so graciously invited us here. We weren't certain of the kind of response we would illicit as the fans of Supernatural (and of Jared and Gen's great work) were not familiar with us and/or our material at all. Would they like us? Would they think we sucked? It was all up to the gods. The room darkened and Jared went up to the mic to make our introduction. Again, he was able to put the band (and me) at ease. His introduction was warm, appreciative, and full of excitement. He was able to single-handedly set the crowd's mindset for what was to follow. We launched into our first tune "Bye Blue Sky" and when we finished it the Supernatural fans were so elated. The rest of the set was a success. There were huge cheers and applause coming from the crowd whenever there was a quiet moment in a tune! They were so amazing! We couldn't have asked for a better audience!

The next day, before making the long trek back to the City Of Angels, we had an interview with someone who writes for the Supernatural blog. We all met in the "Green Room" for the interview. While we were waiting for the interview to start Jared walks into the room and we got to sit and talk with him one more time. A few minutes later Jensen Ackles comes in and I got to meet him for the first time. He's as nice as Jared. We did an interview for about 30 minutes and then it was over. As we were walking in a hallway towards the lobby to get our cars, a girl saw us as we walked by. Apparently, she had been at the show: "Hi Brian Buckley Band! You guys rocked!" We all went down to the lobby to pick up our cars and leave. All of us had a fantastic time! Mike and I left San Francisco at about three in the afternoon.

I, on behalf of the band and myself, would like to thank all of the great Supernatural fans who came to the gig to hear us play and to hang-out with Jared and Gen. The success of this performance would not have been possible without your warmth and support. Thank you for taking a chance on us! Many thanks to the great people at "Creation Entertainment" who gave us the green light. A special thanks also to Jared and Gen for inviting us to play at the "Salute To Supernatural Convention" and whose constant belief in the band's potential is unalterable and greatly appreciated. Much love to you all. See you at the next one! :-)

~Albert Estiamba Jr.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WITH GRACE EP

Friends and listeners, We are happy to announce, that before we release our new record 'BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE' in the next months----we wanted to give you all a small taste---hence, our WITH GRACE EP---that has five songs from the new album for your listening pleasure. It will be available in the next couple of days on our band camp site and will only be up for a limited time, so please take a gander and tell us what you think! We are terribly excited to hear your response... Many blessings to all, BBB

SUPERNATURAL CONVENTION IN SAN FRANCISCO


This Saturday January 15th, we are playing a special show to support the television show 'SUPERNATURAL' in San Francisco at the famous Westin, St. Francis hotel. One of the stars of the show, Jared Padalecki, has been a long time supporter of ours and in conjunction with Creation Entertainment---is presenting us to the audience of the hit series on the CW. We are so grateful to be associated with this incredible evening and even more excited to share our music with their loyal fans. The show begins at 9:15 and will last an hour. Jared and his wife Genevieve have been kind enough to auction off seats to the show to support both his personal charity and our band's cause----so please come out if you are in the Northern California area and come join the festivities. Should be a wonderful event----so again, our thanks to Jared and Genevieve for making this possible and spreading the faith... Blessings, BBB

UPCOMING SHOWS and ONE SHOW DATE CHANGE

Friends, We have a busy couple of months ahead of us and are grateful for it! We had originally planned a show tonight at TAIX in silverlake, but it has been postponed until this Thursday January 13th, at 10:30 so all apologies to any inconvenience this may have caused. we would love nothing more than to see you there, drink in hand, swaying to some tunes, so please come join us!!! That being said, we have another show in Santa Monica this next Tuesday, January 18th at O'Briens in Santa Monica, starting at 8:30 on Main Street. We are doubly amped about this gig, because we are playing the show alongside our favorite musicians in the city. BJ Allman will open the evening, Socks and Chimes will follow, Mimi and Teft will make their Los Angeles debut, and Casey Hurt will end the night, featuring the incomparable Six Brooks. It will be a lovely magical night, to say the least, so if you must miss Thursday---come by and jam with us at O'Briens. From us to you, Blessings, BBB