Cirdec’s Log: February, 2023

FEBRUARY 3, 20:58

The Reverberation Station

Outside, brutally cold. Parts of Lake Michigan are frozen. Inside, shaking a cold that has lingered most of the week. But it feels like I’m over the hump.

Bless YouTube for making it possible for me to enjoy a concert I was privileged to attend in 2017. Well, it’s not my gig, but the sets from Jimmy Herring and John McLaughlin are very similar. The video was recorded in Port Chester, New York. I saw the gig in Nashville. Either way, it’s worth the time investment to check out.

Attempts to restore order in the living room feel like I’m just moving piles from one side of the room to the other. At least it looks a little neater.

Jimmy Herring’s Invisible Whip just broke into Miles Davis’s “Black Satin.” I so want to jam with a band to this tune.

Camera lenses of 50-, 35-, and 24mm have arrived and reside in my bag. Now to learn how to use them for gigs.

FEBRUARY 12, 12:24


A third consecutive bright, sunny day. That I’m keeping score should be an indicator of how things have been.

It’s been a blue couple of weeks, but the last couple of days have been an improvement. The weather, the Thursday Night “Open Mic,” and a Saturday hang with Keith have helped. Plus, yesterday was a good day for homemade beef stew.

Still, shaking the blues has been a challenge. I’m getting help, but it’s a process. Sometimes, one doesn’t have the patience for these kind of things.

I’ve been invited to my first Super Bowl party since moving, so I will venture out of the house to take part. A couple of gigs and potential connections have been added to the calendar. So, things are headed in the right direction.

FEBRUARY 14, 13:21

Outside, the clouds are back, but it is bright. Rain later, but temperatures are in the 50’s. A window has been cracked open.

The daily (not exactly morning) read is in progress.

The sheer density of this tome makes reading in bursts the best way to absorb it. There is another book I’ve read the intro for and I’m eager to dive into. But I’ll keep that one to myself since I don’t have the time or energy to debate it’s merits.

Then it’s off to the office for a meeting and other business. Agent/book work will follow. I got dressed for work for the first time in quite a while, which is a good sign despite my mild glumness.

Casual listening has involved Steven Wilson, Adrian Belew, and The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die. Of the latter, Illusory Walls has become one of my all-time favorite albums.

Listening for writing comes later.

FEBRUARY 17, 13:41

The Reverberation Station

The sun shines post- last night’s snowfall. More like a dusting, really. I can’t imagine anyone in this town getting riled up about it.

Inside, it’s all about Sonar and David Torn for the moment. I got a sneak preview of their forthcoming album Three Movements, and it is positively devastating! It won’t be formally released until May. Meanwhile, I’m back into their previous releases, which still rip hair out of the ears and peel paint off the walls.

Last night’s Family Zoom meeting was as fun as ever. I even got to hear music from a couple of different family members who were unavailable for previous meets. I’m really glad I was introduced to these people. They always give me something to look forward to.

Meanwhile, my current goal is to learn about production value so I can give my interviews a little spice. The chats go over well, but I can always make things a little more exciting. These new learning curves are steep, but it will be a climb worth taking.

FEBRUARY 18, 15:55

The Sonic Sanctuary

A bright enough day outside. No doubt it’s helping with the drudgery. More interview transcriptions. More searches for soundbites. Everything slows to a crawl. The good news is, once these are done, I should be able to write pretty much non-stop from here out. I’d like to see a complete first draft by the middle of March. Then I can go back to edit and react to the notes left by Keith and Judie.

FEBRUARY 19, 12:40


Bright and sunny and most welcome. Even if I don’t step outside. (Though I really should.)

I was in a decent enough mood, then one chowderhead had to come along and ruin parts of it. On my Facebook group page, I was celebrating Jazz Sunday, as usual. While remarking that I was enjoying one particular album, a group member decided to chime in and attempt to make the post all about race. That’s NOT what my group is about. It’s a decent enough conversation topic, but that wasn’t the time for it. From there it was Mr. Know-It-All with a side order of unneeded snark. I finally got fed up and blocked him.

Dear Lord, WHY do these people exist?

FEBRUARY 20, 14:07

The Reverberation Station

The sun is out. King Crimson is thrashing away, and I’m buried in research. I owe Mother Nature a tree or two.

It’s all about transcribing those interviews. We already know how I feel about that. But it must be done, so that’s what I’m doing.

It’s slated to be a busy week, with shows on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Probably my busiest week since moving up here. THIS is the way it was supposed to work — three to five shows a week in the evening, writing about them the next day.

The back will still be an issue, but I only plan to photograph two shows (assuming I get permission for the Saturday), so I can go about moving carefully.

Here’s hoping …

FEBRUARY 21, 16:27


A bright start to the day, but the clouds are rolling in. There’s ice on its way. I’m hoping not too much. The rest of my week is supposed to be busy.

Gearing up for the first gig with my new camera lenses, which should solve a myriad of problems. It’s a relatively small gig, which is exactly where I should start. This is the first of the “entry for me, photos for you” gigs, or which I hope there will be plenty.

I’ve actually been feeling more than a little nervous excitement. It seems weird, but at the same time, it makes perfect sense. This is the first serious step into this particular room of the new life. Photography via iPhone will only get you so far. Now it’s time for the next level.

Saturday’s Remain in Light show has become a working gig. It won’t pay a ton, but it’ll cover the cost of the ticket I already have. That’ll do for now. I’m still trying to wrangle a photo pass. Hopefully that’ll come to pass.

Most of my time is being spent on transcription, as I seek to break up “cinder blocks” of copy like this one …

… and try to turn the words into intelligible sentences. It’s amazing to see how many “likes” and “you knows” people use in conversation. But there they are, waiting for me to work around them.

Time to get cleaned up before work.


Fulton Street Collective

This town has a knack for tucking away its venues. For a couple of minutes, I thought my Uber driver had dropped me in the wrong place. Fortunately, a young lady toting cymbals walked past me, so all I had to do was follow!

What a cool room this is. And the people are great! I was told to consider myself part of the staff, so I can sit in the green room and chill. My back is eternally grateful. And the band doesn’t mind my presence.

I got here in time to photograph the band during soundcheck.

Meanwhile, the images on my professional camera have me more than a little excited. I’m on to something!

FEBRUARY 22, 14:28


Clouds and rain. Ice is a distinct possibility. Mercifully, my next gig is tomorrow night.

As for last night, back pain aside, it was a wonderful evening. The Sangalang/Farace Quintet are a bunch of talented young musicians. They played Gerry Mulligan Meets Ben Webster and made it their own.

Jimmy Farace
Arman Sangalang
Pete Benson
Clark Sommers
Cami Mennitte

They even had an artist painting the band in real time, which was very cool.

Julian Camacho

Fulton Street has definitely made my “Venues to Visit Often” list. I truly felt at home.

Grooving to Fractal Sextet while I handle virtual appointments and phone calls. The biggest goals for the night are making soup and getting more transcribing done.

Made another appointment with the pain center, then found myself thinking of Einstein’s definition of insanity. How many times am I gonna go through the “visit, injection, brief relief, visit” cycle, expecting a different result each time? Another phone call must be made so I can take things to the next level.

It would seem the 50mm camera lens is my new best friends. Did a lot of trial and error work at the gig. More error than success, I think. But there were some hopeful shots I think will amount to something with editing. We’ll see in time.

More phone calls, then cooking.

FEBRUARY 23, 13:33


Cloudy. And the wind is a-whippin’.

Looking forward to my first trip to the Promontory tonight, where I’ll be catching a Chicago-based jazz trio led by Roscoe Mitchell. Junius Paul (another interview ambition) is playing bass. The best part of the gig is that it is literally down the street. Can’t complain about that, can I?

My back is crabby, but I’ll do what I can. I’m seeking another opinion that may or may not lead to surgery. I thought I’d have to wait a month to see the doctor, but I actually got in Monday. Go figure.

Surprise, surprise … I’m werning and twerning away with King Crimson while I await a 14:00 Zoom chat.

There’s so much I love about this band. This lineup, I mean. I wish they had carried on. But, I’ve come to believe a band goes on for precisely how long it’s supposed to. And that’s the end. Pity.

I’ve been (happily) torturing myself by learning to play “Dangerous Curves.” I’m taking Adrian’s part. The notes aren’t difficult, put the strum pattern requires correctness, consistency, and confidence. I’m getting there. Using a metronome is helping.

Good times. I’ll get it yet.

Later in the evening, I practiced the song to the link on Spotify. It was running through my TV and sound bar, which which produced this image:

Granted, it’s not the band that recorded the song, but there are MORE Crims, and they appear to be staring at me, particularly Robert Fripp. I have never been more intimidated by a photograph. It looks like they’re just waiting for me to make a mistake. When I did fail to hit the riff correctly, I made the mistake of looking up to the picture. Yikes! Well, perhaps I’ll get their approval one of these days.


The Reverberation Station

What’s that movie? Everything, Everywhere All at Once? That’s been this afternoon. I made one phone call and suddenly texts and emails were coming at me from all over the place! The good news is I managed to get everything under control with only one minor fail. I’ll take it.

And now, to make dinner.

FEBRUARY 25, 19:10

The Vic Theater

Pretty chilly outside. But mercifully, there was no wind to speak of. So, standing outside for an hour was fairly tolerable.

I knew that if I wanted to get right up front for Jerry Harrison and Adrian Belew, it would be in my best interest to show up at around 18:00 for doors an hour later. I arrived at five after, and found myself second in line. I’ll take it.

Alas, the VIP crowd kept me from properly centering myself. I’m stage right, but the view is just fine.

My hunch is that Adrian will be off to my right. I was bummed for a minute, but come on — how many times have I been situated directly in front of the man? But I’ve never been in front of Jerry. I’ve never even seen Jerry in concert. We had a great chat for the book, but that’s as far as it goes. A different view will be good for me.


I got my first full dose of the Chicago avant-garde scene at the Promontory two nights ago, courtesy of Art Ensemble of Chicago members Roscoe Mitchell, Juinus Paul, and Vincent Davis. Roscoe is a jazz legend in this here town.

And I’m always happy to catch Junius in action.

Vincent is a solid drummer with very good touch.

I’d be lying if I said I fully understood this particular jazz scene. But I’m trying to learn. I still have a ways to go. But listening to the band put together improvisations was very interesting. It’s not somewhere I want to live, musically. But it was an interesting change of pace.

Concert season is kicking into gear. I checked off 18 shows I’d like to see/cover for the month of March. And I’m sure a couple of others will sneak in there. This is what I wanted. This is why I moved here. Let’s hope I can figure a way to help my back hold up.

Bloody hell, it’s chilly in here! Outside, I get it. But would it kill them to pump a little heat for a brotha? I guess so.

A nice crowd has gathered behind me. Normally odd when the opening act hasn’t gone onstage yet. But here they are.

FEBRUARY 28, 18:40


The Bulls are on TV. I should be pulling my beard out within the next few minutes.

Spent some quality time in the office, trying to get all my plates to spin in the same direction.

Progress was made. The CirdecSongs whiteboard has been cleaned and awaits refilling. It won’t take long. There’s a LOT going on. And I’m only gonna get busier. March is shaping up to be the most “why I moved to Chicago” month since I made the transition 27-plus months ago.

The two writing assignments I knew about were suddenly augmented by two unexpected ones. Fortunately, they weren’t difficult. I’ve already been paid for one, and the other one could lead to interesting places. Time will tell.

The show:

Jerry and Adrian were every bit as enjoyable as I imagined they would be. As I guessed, I was almost directly in front of Jerry.

Adrian was a bit off to my right. But he found me easily enough and managed to engage in a little eye contact more than once.

My back was KILLING me, so it was difficult for me to muster up more than an earnest grin when he saw me. I was worried he’d think I wasn’t enjoying the show. During one look, I grinned and nodded my approval. (Not that he needed it. It’s just nice to connect to a friend in the audience. More than a couple of musicians have told me this before.) And I sent him an email explaining what was going on. I got a most sympathetic reply.

The audience was wonderfully receptive, and the band was more than happy to return that energy. The review was easy to write, even if I did have to keep it contained to 450 words. Well, ya gotta prove you can sink the layups before you can take three-pointers.

The biggest drag of the evening was begging off the party I was supposed to hit afterward. It was almost 11 when I left the Vic and I wasn’t 100 percent sure the train would get me where I needed to go. Plus, pain. There will be other parties, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, I contemplate my time management skills as I try to fit 36 hours of activity into a 24-hour day. There are solutions. Time can be rationed. Certain things can wait for certain days. I just have to figure out how that works.


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I’m in the process of writing my second book, The Wizard of WOO: The Life and Music of Bernie Worrell

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