Editorial: Living In A Postcard 

Living in a postcard…

While trying to assemble photos of myself for an editor once, he complained that a lot of them looked like I was on vacation. He was clearly being acidic, trying to say the photos I gave him weren't professional enough. He was probably looking for something more like a Robert Mappelthorpe or Annie Lebovitz style shot of me holding a bulky Monette horn or one of those Dizzy Gillespie raised bell trumpets behind my head artistically while peering off meaningfully with the squinted gaze of a fighter pilot, possibly surrounded by other band members wearing Mexican wrestling masks, showing inexplicably stern expressions glaring into random directions in space.

Maybe he had a point but I'm old enough now I have the right not to be too professional. I'm happy. I get to write and play music frequently but not so much that I feel drowned by my schedule, and the crowds I play for are mostly very appreciative. If this is mediocrity I certainly don't feel crippled by it. I have time to live my life.

I'm very lucky to have gotten to where I am. I'm not a celebrity which means you've probably never heard of me and never will. I made a living parallel to my music career for many years which means I never had to be a starving artist, at least not for long. I've found a few good friends who help stroke my ego when I'm good and know how to smack me down a few notches when I'm bad. I've also found places to live and play that make me feel like I really am on vacation all the time.

Therefore I think of it as a compliment to be accused of trying to get away with using postcard photos I took myself as PR. To that end here's one for you to enjoy at the top of this page I took while riding my bike near the Dillon Amphitheater, one of the venues my band played at last year. It's beautiful, isnt it?


I want to play…Where to play…Where to play…

A young musician recently told me she was having difficulty finding venues in which to perform. She was looking for a specific kind of place and described a specific demographic she hoped would frequent this theoretical place in her mid sized city. I realize what she really was looking for is a feeling of safety and belonging within a social scene and to find friends. However, in my experience that personal challenge is a separate thing from trying to get gigs and perform. The specifics of her story are not important to this point: Venues are not concerned with any of that.

Venues are concerned with making money.

(It's an old, old story, so I'll tell it again…)

Venues are concerned with making money.

This is not as bad a thing as it sounds. Every musician wants a place to play but that means it's important those venues stay in business. They're not a charity. They have to sell tickets. They have to sell booze. They have to sell coffee/food/t-shirts/whatever. You, the performing act, are just a cog in that machine. Get used to it and make it work for you. (It's true - there's greed, corruption, and even criminal enterprises out there but once you learn how to spot the many telltale signs you can avoid those places…unless you happen to be a greedy corrupt criminal musician, then enjoy!)

It's your job to convince venues you're a good investment. This may happen anywhere from impressing the coffee shop's barista with a good open stage performance to your agent or manager selling your show to an arena's talent buyer. Being part of a particular social scene is not the same thing as getting gigs. The talent buyer doesn't care about your style, clothes, eyeliner or goth friends, only that all your goth friends showed up and paid full price for their tickets.

Maybe you fancy yourself a punk/queer/hippie/folk/rockabilly/jazz person and you want to build credibility and a reputation for that, but that's all secondary to whether the music you make is entertaining and interesting to people. You may even discover the music you thought you were making for one scene ended up doing far better with an entirely different crowd. Don't feel obligated to conform to what you think your current friends want you to play, letting those feelings dictate whether you become a successful musician.

If you make good music that people want to hear there will always be venues to book you. Think of the variety of big touring acts passing through all the big arenas and theaters: The only thing that diverse variety of acts has in common is they all sell a lot of tickets and often completely sell out their shows. That should be the scene you aspire to, not your identity politics.


Crisis Management 

After revisiting a song I wrote ages ago I decided to make a video love letter for San Francisco out of it. Crisis Management explores the city through video I captured in December 2007 as well as December 2023. If you're really paying attention you may notice the old bus terminal building before there ever was a Salesforce Tower and Salesforce Transbay Transit Center. Enjoy!


Split Window - Gypsy Dance 

Video for Split Window - Gypsy Dance - Live at Elevation Festival - Alma, Colorado - June 30, 2023.


Looks like it's a bright sunny day behind us but from the stage we were watching a dark storm creep over the mountain in front of us. Actually we had to cut our set short just a few songs after this one because the sky opened up with freezing rain that stung as it hit our faces and froze our hands. However a little under an hour later it was sunny again and the festival continued.

Split Window - Stray Valet 

Listen to Split Window perform Stray Valet from the AvonLive concert September 15, 2022.


I suppose it's worth mentioning that this was the first time we performed this song and Lucas and I were making it up as we went along. That isn't an excuse, though. Making it up as we go along is how we do horn parts for this band. As we play each song in more shows our horn parts start to sound more like written parts. However we make it a point to mix things up a bit every show, making up new melodic lines and rearranging parts, even for the songs we've been playing for years. It's more interesting that way and keeps us on our toes.

Split Window - Summer Concert Blog 

The Split Window summer calendar is beginning to come together. (Actually, I've been sneaking in here every few weeks and updating our calendar as things get added. -ed)

Hope to see you at our shows.

FIBArk was on a beautiful warm sunny day. We played on a large stage in a park next to the Arkansas river. The band after us was an all girl AC/DC cover band that had thousands of people cheering and dancing. Much grass was trampled down that day.

Elevation Music Festival in Alma in the mountains at over ten thousand feet elevation was actually kinda cold. Sleet blowing in our faces caused us to end the set early with numb hands and frozen faces. Shiver!

Festival In The Clouds was also in Alma but what a difference a couple of weeks makes. It was warm, sunny and a huge crowd turned out to see us play. Fans of the band were singing along to the songs. I met a nice band called Bedford from Kentucky.

We played Burro Days for our first time this year and it was a fun little street side stage with the crowd dancing in as well as across the street. Our show was the evening before the big race so one of the burros even came by the stage for a visit. I like to call it Donkey Daze.

It was really sunny and hot for Silverthorne First Friday but at least I remembered to bring my shades and sunblock. Someone told me there was some sort of commotion during our set involving the police but I didn't see it.

Summit Sky Ranch is a neighborhood block party with lots of friendly people and a beautiful clubhouse. This was where I discovered that you can actually grill a peach. Mmmm! I want some more of those grilled peaches!

Dillon Amphitheater is kind of like Red Rocks but even prettier. I think that gig counts as the most powerful PA system this band has played through. Thanks for buying all of our T-Shirts! I didn't even get one. Also let me know your thoughts about my CD if you picked up one of those.

Somehow we threaded the needle weatherwise and did our set at TwinFest in Salida just after a rainstorm ended and just before the next rainstorm began. Good planning skills displayed by all those people who wore swim suits to the festival.

SunsetLive in Avon had their Summer's End celebration a few weeks before Summer actually ends but the show was fun, relaxed and we watched the sun go down during our set right as we played our song, Sun Shining Somewhere.

BMFR stands for Black Mountain Family Reunion. That means it's near one of the hundreds if not thousands of hills in the world called Black Mountain. However the family reunion part is purely figurative. Even if it's untrue, I like to think of this as a Burning Man “afterburn” party.

Salida has been tremondously supportive of us this year. Maybe some of that has to do with the influence of Jodi and her family having moved there. Tres Litros is a night of noisy fun and dancing which we've done once before. I brought my little red horn partly because it's a small stage and partly because people love to see that trumpet up close.

The radio station KHEN threw a fundraiser and called it Chickenstock. I don't know why but the name makes me giggle, but in more in the way of “Wait. They named it WHAT???” Okay, so they have the word “hen” embedded in their call letters so I guess we'll allow it. Lots of people showed up for one of the last few warm Saturdays in the mountains. We were missing a couple of honeymooning newlyweds in the band (Congrats, Audrey and Mike!) and one or two others, so it was a bit roomy onstage.

So, that about does it for the Split Window 2023 Summer Blog. Hope you enjoyed seeing us play. We sure enjoyed performing! Be sure to catch us for our New Years Eve show, which I think is going to also be in Salida this year.

Burro Days 

The donkey scored front row seats for Split Window's show! (July 29, 2023, Burro Days, Fairplay)

40th Day 

Yesterday as I was driving home my phone played the song “bloodseconds” by 40th Day in my car. I don't expect you to know who 40th Day is. This is the year 2023 and that band hasn't been around in any form I'm aware of since they had a reunion show in Denver around 2013. (Yes, I was there.) They broke up sometime in the nineties.

So why am I bringing them up?

While listening to the song I had a flood of memories of my time in Denver in the early nineties come back to me. 40th Day along with several other bands in the Denver scene used to trade headliner slots with the band I was in at the time. One show, say in Boulder, we'd open for them. The next show, say in Fort Collins, they'd open for us. We also shared costs on renting PA equipment as well as share drums and backline so we could all travel light. It worked that way at the time with a lot of local bands on Colorado's front range. The great thing about it was that we became friends with a lot of other bands and we all supported each other. We also got to hear a lot of great music that would influence what we were doing and it made everybody sound better over time.

Later I moved to San Francisco assuming I'd find more of that same kind of social scene among bands but it was unfortunately not like that. The bands I played with seemed to want to isolate themselves and viewed other bands as competition. It made building a fanbase much harder because you had to rely on marketing and self promotion instead of encouraging your friends to listen to the other bands you like at your shows while knowing those bands were doing the same for you. It didn't feel like anybody had our back which made it also feel kind of lonely.

40th Day to me now sounds like it could have been right at home in the shoegaze scene, their sound having similarities to bands that came long after they were gone like My Bloody Valentine, Chapterhouse, and School of Seven Bells. You can listen to some of 40th Day's music on Bandcamp (although it looks like that song I mentioned was left out) or try your luck finding their CD on the internet.


The National 

Question: What do you do when Matt Berninger comes up to you and sings a song?
Answer: I'm not really sure. Take his picture, I guess?

Tonight I will perform with Split Window as part of the Town of Frisco's Concert In The Park series. Last night I was getting warmed up and inspired by seeing The National at the Dillon Amphitheater. I was able to get tickets and gave them to Carrie for her birthday. The band had several moments of funny banter between songs and seemed very relaxed, happy, and friendly, acting almost like a local Summit County band rather than a famous touring headliner. In my experience playing an outdoor show here in the mountains kind of does that to you. Whole families come to the shows and the feeling is more friendly and less confrontational than some venues and festivals I've been to in larger metropolitan settings.

I also liked that their trumpeter didn't feel he had to live in the high, fast, and loud range like so many touring rock trumpeters do, even pushing all three buttons down and belting out a few low C-sharps from time to time. As the band played through their diverse back catalog we watched the sun set this summer for the last time after eight in the evening reminding me that we're quickly moving into autumn as daylight shortens and soon the lake, all the flowers, and this amphitheater will be covered in snow.

The opening act, Bartees Strange were very impressive. Notably, their drummer whose style reminded me of a cross between Michael Bland and Rudy Royston. As if either of those boys could swing their sticks around so well without yanking out two giant hula hoops worn as earrings! Bartees Strange did a cover of Lemonworld which made it three times we heard that song yesterday counting the two times The National played it, once during soundcheck and again during their show.

Last night's show was the first crowded concert event we've been to since the pandemic began. Signs around the venue said at "artist's request" masks were advised. We decided it would be a good idea to wear them, considering I have two shows this week and don't want to have to miss them because I got sick. We ended up being approximately the tenth of one percent of the audience that was masked. C'est la vie.

If you want to see Split Window this week, tonight's free show at six o'clock will be in the Frisco Historic Park gazebo. On Saturday afternoon we will be appearing as part of the Elevation Festival in Alma.


Gigging In The Summer 

It may seem pretty quiet around my website these days but it's because when it's summer here in the mountains I tend to spend a lot of my time playing shows with Split Window. We're a ten person band of talented musicians playing original music for parties, festivals, and concert venues in several mountain towns. While there are a few recordings of us floating around out there it's the live shows that matter most with Split Window. If you're in Frisco, Alma, or Keystone this month, be sure to come see us!


Editorial - Is It Better On CD Or Should I Just Stream It? 

Disclaimer: The text within this editorial contains a cleverly disguised advertisement for a product.

Buy my CD! The CD is absolutely the best way to experience Du Bist Kein Toy. If you listened and liked it in your tiny Alexa speaker or through your phone's earbuds, you'll love it on a CD. By playing Du Bist Kein Toy on a good CD player, you'll encounter no sudden stops due to network glitches and you'll never have to worry about lossy compressed file formats which make the music sound like it's coming from inside a paper towel tube. Every time you play my CD it will sound perfect, just like my talented guest performers and I are in your listening room performing Du Bist Kein Toy for you live.

Listen to Du Bist Kein Toy on CD on a well amplified two channel (better yet, add a subwoofer) system, with the volume high. It goes without saying, that you, as a discerning listener have invested in a pair of very high end speakers and have spared no expense on your amplifier and disc media player components. Sit on a nice, cozy chair or sofa optimally placed between the speakers to get the full experience. Put your phone down and just relax, rest your head on the cushion and close your eyes. Let the sounds wash over you.

On CD what you will never hear are the inappropriate and awkward pauses most streaming platforms unhelpfully put between tracks. You will hear Du Bist Kein Toy uninterrupted from start to finish. It's nearly an hour of sculpted and artful listening pleasure.

Repeat the CD listening meditation frequently to maintain your peace of mind and sense of well being.

People who buy and listen to Du Bist Kein Toy on CD are scientifically proven to be healthier and happier!*



* Not by actual scientists.

Ron Miles - A Personal Story 

Ron Miles was a great friend and mentor to me. Recently I had gotten in touch with him to share some of my new music, but it was immediately apparent that something far more urgent was going on when he said he’d been in hospital for a long time. Tragically he died last month. Since then I’ve been revisiting memories from the years I knew him. 

Ron and I met as students at University of Colorado College of Music. During those years he and I traded a few mixtapes. It was the eighties and that’s what we did back then! Sharing a small collection of music on a cassette tape was how people like us bonded with each other. It was almost twenty years before social media, curated playlists, and Spotify. I once asked Ron to make me a tape of what he thought I should be listening to. My university trumpet teacher at that time probably would have given me a mix of jazz and classical trumpet players. Ron returned my tape with some James Brown, Siegfried’s Funeral Music by Wagner, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Ornette Coleman, Anthony Braxton, and several Bad Brains songs. Trumpets were definitely on there somewhere, but Ron was surely sending me a different and wider message! 

Several times he invited me to a bar near 9th and Pearl in Boulder, either to watch groups of his own perform or with ensembles led by Fred Hess. It was a cold, damp basement space under a lively bar upstairs but the that really didn’t matter. By the time they’d played a few songs, the space was packed, hot, and hoppin’. One show I remember well was in a dark art space in Denver on Blake street near where they later built the baseball stadium. Ron’s trio was playing with Mark Simon on bass and Mark Fuller on drums. The atmosphere was like a punk show with the band in the middle of the room and the audience crowding around them on all sides. The drumset included planks of sheet metal, short lengths of rebar, and circular saw blades. The show was wild and exciting, concluding with a song called Whoring With My Pants On. Ron told me that the song’s title was about how he often felt about gigs he’d agreed to play against his better judgement. He decided to think more carefully about how he decided where to play and with whom so he could have more fun. “One night I was looking out at the room and kept thinking ‘I wouldn’t even hang out with these people!’” 

Saxophonist and composer Fred Hess was working on his doctorate at CU. He’d formed a group to perform his transcriptions of early jazz band works as part of his thesis. This group eventually grew into the Boulder Creative Music Ensemble, performing new works from the eighties up until Fred’s death in 2018. Ron’s work with Fred’s group resulted in many beautiful and sometimes even cacophonous recordings. If you like Ron's music, you would be well served to also become familiar with Fred's. In the early nineties I occasionally helped a creative jazz fan named Alexander Lemski stage concerts as part of his newly formed Creative Music Works organization, which frequently featured Ron Miles and Fred Hess groups. It was always a delight to meet new musical friends Ron had made as he performed with them at those concerts like Rudy Royston and Bill Frisell.

Over the years I’d started to think of Ron as something of a gearhead, always finding new mouthpieces, new leadpipes, and even new horns, trying to get the perfect “dark” sound. Once, after he’d made a significant new purchase, I visited him at his house. “Try this out!” he said. He handed me the heaviest and most ornately decorated hunk of trumpet I had ever seen. “It’s called a Raja. Dave Monette made it for me.” He showed me all the personal engravings and metal cuttings he’d had built into the horn. It was perfect for Ron. “It goes with your glasses,” I joked. At the time he was wearing avant garde round glasses with thick black frames that had what looked like little screws sticking out of the sides of the frames. 

After moving out of state I always made a point to visit Ron during my trips to Colorado. A few times we played duets in the studio he had built onto the back of his home. I was always proud to show off whatever new music I’d recorded. Once he gave me a recording of an early version of his album My Cruel Heart. It was edgier and noisier than the version that was ultimately released but I always cherished it more because it reminded me of the friend who had gotten me into Bad Brains years earlier. 

Over the years his music seemed to mellow as he collaborated with people like Ginger Baker and Bill Frisell, but there were always moments in whatever he played where he’d show his unique talent for coaxing a new sound out of his trumpet or going in an entirely unexpected melodic direction during a solo. He was fearless about doing things that most trumpet teachers would teach their students not to do. He taught himself how to transform trumpet playing no-nos like teeth gritting, throat growling, airstream pinching, and other things like that into ingenious techniques to bend notes, distort, or even create multiphonics. Several years ago he told me after a show he was trying to learn circular breathing. During that evening’s show he had played several solos using the technique quite convincingly, if not flawlessly. “I think you’re pretty well there,” I replied. Recently he told me he was learning “anchor tonguing” and said it was a steep learning curve. Completely overhauling his technique and facing a lengthy period of sounding really rough in order to learn a new way of playing. Yep, that’s Ron! 

I’m having a hard time adjusting to a world without Ron Miles in it. I’m sure it will always feel like something’s a little off somehow from now on, but I know I’m far better now for having known him.


Single Released - There Is Beauty In Waiting 

There Is Beauty In Waiting with the additional performances of Danielle de Picciotto (voice, violin, autoharp) and Alexander Hacke (voice, guitar, mixing) is released in single form now. It would have been nearly impossible for me to have travelled to record this in person with them in Berlin during COVID-19 times, so this song became my first virtual collaboration. We sent huge files to each other across the globe, each of us responding to the other's contributions until it was done. I hope you enjoy listening to it!


Editorial - Chelsea's Protest 

Before today I had never heard of Chelsea Cutler. She is a famous singer. As of this writing I still haven’t heard any of her music. The only reason I mention her is because I read an article about her in the Washington Post this morning. My favorite quote from the article: “...Her anxieties about social media on social media struck a nerve throughout social media...” That’s a lot of social medias in one sentence! 

In a nutshell, she said she’s tired of having to be a content provider for social media in addition to being a performer, a sentiment which stuck a nerve with many music artists, hundreds if not thousands of them apparently, who vigorously clicked the Like button next to her post or something like that. The thunderous piling on of me-toos has made her a big news story. Every young celebrity wishes they'll say or do something that will go viral and make them even more popular and for Cutler, this apparently is her moment. Congratulations, Chelsea! 

A music reviewer admonished me that if I wasn’t active on, at the very least, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, reviewers like him immediately pegged me as not serious about my music career. Gee, I remember when being a serious musician meant practicing my instrument several hours a day, making new music to hone my abilities as a composer, and playing lots of gigs! 

Not going into any specifics of why I closed my social media account many years ago, I think a music career stymied by my reluctance to contribute to the social media discussion isn’t such a bad thing. No one needs to see videos of me kvetching about what to eat for dinner or fighting tangles of cables in my studio and turning it into a goofy dance loop video. Being locked outside the gates of the walled city of Facebookia may make it harder for me to get attention or build relationships with those people who insist any contact with them must be done via that platform but I’m willing to live with that. 

I make music. 

If you enjoy listening to my music, that’s enough. We have an excellent relationship. Let’s keep a good thing going with that.


Du Bist Kein Toy - Released Today! 

The best laid plans...

This morning I started to work on updating this site and my others to announce today's release of Du Bist Kein Toy. Then the internet went down. One thing about living in the mountains is when it gets really windy things can suddenly stop working. The good thing is it actually did come back up later after two little outages, but all the bits and pieces of the release like the website and CD purchasing widget may take a little bit longer to get working right. That said,


Listen now at Bandcamp or SoundCloud or on your favorite streaming device.