KPFT Fall Concert Series

My band, The Flying Fish Sailors, will be performing this Sunday, November 4th at Miller Outdoor Theater (on the small stage) and it’s free free free!

Show is 4 pm – 6 pm

We’re sharing the bill with Constant Billy and the O’Maoileidigh School of Irish Dance.

Come see for yourself why The Flying Fish Sailors are the 2007 Houston Press Best Of Houston award winner for Best Pirate Band!

Houston Press 2007 Best Of Houston

Best Pirate Band (2007)
Flying Fish Sailors

From their name to their repertoire, historical nautical themes permeate all that the Flying Fish Sailors do. Each of their albums features a sea shanty or four, and even shanties about such landlubberly subjects as mowing the lawn, and U-Haul trucks. (If you ask them nicely, they’ll don “pseudo-pirate” attire for a gig.)

Guitarist Jay Lee fondly recalls playing a set on the tall ship Elissa in Galveston “” “When we would do the sea shanties, the volunteers on the Elissa knew the words and they would sing along, and it was really cool,” he remembers. So far, that’s been their only show on the briny deep, but they’ve played hundreds of gigs on land. “We’ve laid siege to every place from the Red Lion to the Mucky Duck and boarded many a bar,” Lee says. As the Sea Captain on The Simpsons might put it, “Arrr, this be the yarrest band thar be.

Blarney Fest

Back in 1995 and 1996 I organized two Celtic music events at the now defunct Rockefeller’s Nightclub.

The first event was called “Blarney Fest” and featured my band, the The Flying Fish Sailors, along with Ceili’s Muse and the first major public performance by the legendary band, Clandestine. The master of ceremonies was Jim McKenzie. The concert was completely sold out and by any measure, a huge success for all parties involved.

The second event was called “Son of Blarney Fest” and featured the same bands and also included Gordian Knot and a solo performance by Mary Maddux. This event also sold out and was again, a huge success.

Both concerts were recorded and a limited run of CD’s and cassettes were sold and they were never reprinted. But now, thanks to the digital age, these recordings are available once more via web download for ABSOLUTELY FREE!

Click on the following links to get your copy today!

BlarneyFest 95
Son of BlarneyFest

St. Pats gone for another year

As mentioned previously, the band had a busy schedule for St. Paddy’s day this year. The Wholefoods gig was surprisingly fun and there were some old fans in attendance which was very nice.

Saturday we knew we taken on a lot. Downbeat was 8:00 am at Brian O’Neill’s so we all met up there around 7:00 am. Spirits were high as we prepared for our 4 hour show.

If you ever want to see another side of St. Paddy’s day, go to an Irish breakfast. There were quite a few people present and many were getting off to an early start with a hardy breakfast Guinness or two.

Goose’s Acre after that for another 4 hour show and we wrapped up at The Big Top and did a few hours then packed it in and headed to the house to get some much needed sleep.

Sunday Morning Cynthia and I slept in a little bit, but not much. We had to take care of a few things before heading over to Jones Hall to attend a performance by the Houston Symphony. We had been invited to be the guests of someone we had met previously at the Chieftains concert.

The program included Bernstein’s Overture to Candide and Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 2 featuring pianist Yuja Wang in the first half and Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story to wrap it up. The seats were up close and personal and it was a very enjoyable experience.

It’s been a long time since I can remember being this tired.

The Blaggards

When it gets close to St. Paddy’s Day the Irish/Celtic music community starts gearing up for the celebration. All of a sudden EVERYBODY wants an Irish band from some event or another.

Patrick Devlin of The Blaggards contacted me because he knew of a gig for us and in the course of the conversation he asked if The Fish would be interested in opening for them at Fitzgerald’s on March 2nd.

I ran it by the boys and it was a done deal.

Good times, good times! A fantastic show with many old fans and many new ones!

Here are a couple of the pics I got that night. The link to many more are at the end of this post.

Turi Hoiseth
Turi “Tuffy” Hoiseth (click for larger version)

Patrick Devlin
Patrick Devlin (Click for larger version)

Click here to be taken to the gallery for more pictures of The Blaggards from that night!

Early warning

My band, The Flying Fish Sailors, has some shows scheduled for March!

Friday, March 2nd

Doors open at 8:00

We’re opening up for our friends, The Blaggards.
This should be a GREAT show.

Saturday, March 17th (St. Paddy’s Day!)

Bryan O’Neill’s from 8am to noon

Goose’s Acre Bistro & Irish Pub in The Woodlands from 2pm to 6pm.

We’re finishing the day with a FREE show at The Big Top that evening.

Hope to see you there!

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Java, Cup of Joe

I can distinctly remember my first cup of coffee.
I was 12 or 13 years old so that puts it around 1973.

Yup, it was the “olden days.”

My mother used to go down the street to Mrs. Gladden’s house for coffee and gossip.
It was summertime and I was bored one day so I went with her to hang out. Mrs. Gladden’s son wasn’t around so I sat in the living room with my mother and Mrs. Gladden and Mrs. Gladden asked if I would like a cup of coffee.

I looked at my mother and she nodded her approval and I said “yes!” It seemed to me to be so very adult to get to hang out and drink coffee. There was the first sip of black coffee which was not too pleasant and then my mother and Mrs. Gladden coached me through the process of adding non-dairy creamer and some sugar which made it much more palatable.

I was hooked from the get-go.

Keep in mind that during my adolescence and early adult years I did not drink or experiment with drugs. That’s right, while the other kids rocking round the clock, I was hoppin’ and boppin’ to a thing called the Crocodile Rock Java Jive. While many of the kids my age were extolling the glories of casual drug use by doodling marijuana leaves and pills on their notebooks I was revelling in the iconic simplicity of a steaming cup of coffee.

There were plenty of head shops during the 70’s but not so many dedicated coffee shops. Places like Jo-Jo’s, Denny’s and Kip’s Big Boy served bottomless cups of coffee, but they were restaurants first and foremost. The wait-staff frowned on teenagers coming and ordering cup after cup of coffee without purchasing a meal. I can recall Rich Davis and me wearing out out welcome at the Kettle on S. Shaver (or was it Spencer Hwy?) in Pasadena, TX any number of times.

After I got out of the Navy and returned to Pasadena my coffee addiction was in full swing and now it was 1981. Coffee shops were still a rare commodity and I was pretty much hooked on coffee. I had a percolator my parents had given me and I kept that thing going pretty steady.

In late 1983 Hurricane Alicia came along and ripped the roof off of my small apartment and this was the catalyst for moving into the city. I landed in the Montrose and before long I was working at the Half Price Books on Waugh Drive. In the process of exploring my new neighborhood I discovered Tim’s Coffee Shop. It’s now Bambolino’s Italian Kitchen but back in the day it was a cozy little coffee shop/restaurant and I was there almost every day before heading in to work, reading the paper and drinking coffee and making friends.

Tim’s Coffee Shop became the formal gathering place of the Philosopher’s Guild, a small band of friends who would meet and stay up to all hours of the night discussing anything and everything while consuming mass quantities of coffee.

Tim’s eventually closed down and Charlie’s Coffee Shop opened just down the road in what was once a topless bar called The Boobie Rock and is now the lesbian bar Chances. I sometimes wonder if the patrons know the sordid history of that little piece of real estate…

Charlie’s, for all intents and purposes, was a gay Denny’s. While it was primarily a restaurant, you could still just grab a booth and sit and drink cup after cup of coffee. I spent a lot of time in Charlie’s and was very sad when it closed.

During this time frame two things happened that were directly influenced by my love/addiction to coffee.

My first radio show of any significance was on Friday mornings from 5-8 and when I was trying to come up with a name I thought of that glorious line from the 1984 movie Suburbia, “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee” (which was also later used in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in 1986).

The third album/CD my band recorded adopted the title “Give Me Coffee” from the first song I ever wrote of the same name.

Fast forward some years and I’m in The Heights after Cynthia and I first got together. Coffee shops are starting to pop-up like crazy. Starbucks has begun to explode and coffee drinking is becoming quite the fad. I found a place called Java Java on Heights Blvd and that became my new coffee haunt.

After I finally managed to get out of working retail and on to a more steady Monday through Friday schedule working in the corporate worlds my trips to the coffee shop began to dwindle as I opted for the grab and go convenience of Stop and Go coffee.

In all the years I have been consuming coffee I rather prided myself in being quite basic about it. No lattes, no cappuccinos, no espressos or mochas or anything fancy. Just a cup of coffee with cream and sugar or black in a pinch. As Starbucks rose to power, other specialty coffee shops sprung up but I kept true to my coffee roots.

I practically swore to myself I would never patronize a Starbucks. That was until our trip to the UK. While we were in Edinburgh, Scotland we toured The Edinburgh Castle. It was cold, wet and windy. When we got to the top there was a gift shop and in that shop there was a Starbucks…

I didn’t change my coffee stripes then and there. I was a coffee addict and this had the appeal and benefit of actually being available. Still, the chip in my coffee armor was there now.

Over the years my resolve to stay away from designer coffee shops has wained.

Cynthia enjoys a “good” cup of coffee on Sundays. She’s not interested in Stop and Go coffee and suggested a few years back that we stop at Starbucks on the way to the grocery store. Her offer was to buy the coffee if I would agree to stop there. I capitulated and now it’s our Sunday tradition.

It wasn’t long before I was hooked. I can no longer drink the coffee offered at the local convenience store. Now I get a Starbucks pretty much every day on the way to work and often one in the evening.

But it’s still a matter of pride that I don’t order those designer froo froo coffee drinks.

No frappacinos, no half caff no fat grand mochachinos for me, no sir. Just a LARGE house coffee to go, thank you very much!

Goodbye Texas Renaissance Festival, we hardly knew ye

As we are in the heart of the Texas Renaissance Festival season I must confess I am of two minds about not being hired this year.

One the one hand I have the entire series of fall weekends to myself. That means we get to play the Austin Celtic Festival and I can go to the Airshow and the Quilt Festival and do all those things I have been deprived of in the fall as a result of 15+ years of dedication and sacrifice to the festival.

But there are things I miss. There are some very good memories tied up in that experience.

I was poking round the Internets and I found some pictures someone took that time Istanpitta pranked us by dressing as us and parodying the Flu Pandemic a few years ago.

Click for larger image

Click for larger image

The Sailors are amused
Click for larger image

Seeing Sahira dressed as Joe was about the most ridiculously funny thing I have ever had the opportunity to behold.

Avast ye scurvy pop-music lovers!

One thing you can say about my band The Flying Fish Sailors is that we lack a broad commercial appeal. There’s just not that many people in the world all that interested in a rousing sea chantey or depressing sea ballad. Still, it’s good fun music and we enjoy our fair share of loyal fans and seem to draw new ones when we play.

On top of that, there’s certainly no shortage of nautical bands scattered around this small blue planet.

Movies like Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and the recent sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest have had some effect in recent years in popularizing all things piratical. I noticed this most strongly in my recent visit to San Francisco. I suppose this whole “Pirate Pop” thing will only benefit us when we play in the future.

Why do I bring this up? I bring this up because last Friday I had a “when worlds collide” experience.

I may play in a folk band but I love alternative rock and even some popular music. I would say my tastes are ecclectic and diverse even if my band plays mostly within a certain niche.

Friday night I was in Sig’s Lagoon and Thomas (the proprietor) called my attention to a CD that had just come into inventory. The name of the CD is “Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys.”

Ok, a Sea Chantey CD…cool. Their not all that hard to find and I kinda shrugged. Thomas drew my attention to the producers…Johnny Depp and director Gore Verbinski. Ok, Interesting. But Johnny Depp? I’m so tired of Johnny Depp. You can go to your local ren fair and see a dozen or more Jack Sparrow wannabes wandering the site. Bleh.

At Thomas’s urging I took the CD in hand and gave it a closer look.

The song list was not surprising. It’s a two CD set featuring the expected songs like Cape Cod Girls, Mingulay Boat Song, Shenandoah along with some bawdier one’s like Good Ship Venus and The Mermaid.

But what was really startling is who the performers are. The CD is billed as “various artists” but those “various artists” include Lou Reed, Loudon Wainwright III and his son Rufus, Stan Ridgeway, Bono, Sting and the list goes on.

I bought the CD on the spot and I have REALLY enjoyed it so far.

Here’s the song list:

01. CD1: Cape Cod Girls – Baby Gramps
02. CD1: Mingulay Boat Song – Richard Thompson
03. CD1: My Son John – John C. Reilly
04. CD1: Fire Down Below – Nick Cave
05. CD1: Turkish Revelry – Loudon Wainwright III
06. CD1: Bully In The Alley – Three Pruned Men
07. CD1: The Cruel Ship’s Captain – Bryan Ferry
08. CD1: Dead Horse – Robin Holcomb
09. CD1: Spanish Ladies – Bill Frisell
10. CD1: Coast of High Barbary – Joseph Arthur
11. CD1: Haul Away Joe – Mark Anthony Thompson
12. CD1: Dan Dan – David Thomas
13. CD1: Blood Red Roses – Sting
14. CD1: Sally Brown – Teddy Thompson
15. CD1: Lowlands Away – Rufus Wainwright & Kate McGarrigle
16. CD1: Baltimore Whores – Gavin Friday
17. CD1: Rolling Sea – Eliza Carthy
18. CD1: The Mermaid – Martin Carthy & the UK Group
19. CD1: Haul On The Bowline – Bob Neuwirth
20. CD1: A Dying Sailor to His Shipmates – Bono
21. CD1: Bonnie Portmore – Lucinda Williams
22. CD1: Shenandoah – Richard Greene & Jack Shit
23. CD1: The Cry Of Man – Mary Margaret O’Hara
24. CD2: Boney – Jack Shit
25. CD2: Good Ship Venus – Loudon Wainwright III
26. CD2: Long Time Ago – White Magic
27. CD2: Pinery Boy – Nick Cave
28. CD2: Lowlands Low – Bryan Ferry w/ Antony
29. CD2: One Spring Morning – Akron/Family
30. CD2: Hog Eye Man – Martin Carthy & family
31. CD2: The Fiddler – Ricky Jay & Richard Greene
32. CD2: Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold – Andrea Corr
33. CD2: Fathom The Bowl – John C. Reilly
34. CD2: Drunken Sailor – David Thomas
35. CD2: Farewell Nancy – Ed Harcourt
36. CD2: Hanging Johnny – Stan Ridgway
37. CD2: Old Man of The Sea – Baby Gramps
38. CD2: Greenland Whale Fisheries – Van Dyke Parks
39. CD2: Shallow Brown – Sting
40. CD2: The Grey Funnel Line – Jolie Holland
41. CD2: A Drop of Nelson’s Blood – Jarvis Cocker
42. CD2: Leave Her Johnny – Lou Reed
43. CD2: Little Boy Billy – Ralph Steadman

La la la la la la, live for today

Alejandro Escavedo

Last night at the Continental Club was one of those nights where the past does not so much collide with the present, rather it pulls up along side and waves kindly and you smile and wave back with a stupid grin as recognition slowly creeps in and pries open the recesses of memory.

On the bill for the evening was Alejandro Escavedo. For all that Alejandro has accomplished I still remember him for his efforts in a band called the True Believers back in the 80’s.

Most of the fans seemed to be more recent converts but there were some from “back in the day” as the kids like to say.

Most notable were long time friends JR Delgado and Toby Blunt.

JR and Toby

JR owned and ran one of the most well known punk clubs in Houston, The Axiom. During the 80’s and early 90’s I attended many shows at this particular club. Often referred to as the “Mecca to the Houston Underground” it now enjoys a lesser notoriety as the home of Infernal Bridegroom Productions. My band, The Flying Fish Sailors, had the opportunity to play there on a few occasions. The best show was the one where we opened for The Dead Milkmen.

Toby Blunt is most well known from Mary Jane’s Fat Cat over on Washington but I met him back in the days when he played for Fab Motion. This was a band that had a lot of potential and was even the Houston Press 1989 Band of the Year. I even located this old flyer from the mid 80’s when Fab Motion and The True Believers were on the same bill at Cafe Mode.

I halfway expected to see Chuck Roast and Austin Caustic from the old Funhouse Show on KPFT show up at any given point.

It was a good evening and a great show. It’s good to see Alejandro doing so well. I got some nice pics from last night. Click here to see them.

2006 Houston Press Music Awards Showcase

Our showcase performance for the 2006 Houston Press Music Awards will be at Pete’s Dancing Marlin at 5:00 PM on Sunday, July 30th.

We hope you can join us for this event.
If you have not yet voted, there’s still time!
You can also cast your vote at the event.

We play for about an hour and there are many other great bands to see that day.

You gotta love the write up in the Houston Press:

“Traditional folk music for the 21st century” is the stock-in-trade of these sea salts and Zappa- and Devo-loving buccaneers. Regular denizens of the Continental Club complex, these fish can also be found flying in allied bands such as Beetle and Light Rock Express. Their stated goal: “To find a way to keep enjoying the music business”; their dream is an “animated appearance on The Simpsons.” (We can see it now: They’re playing on the docks, and the Sea Captain introduces them thusly: “Arrr, this be the yarrest band thar be#201”) Feel free to request “pop songs from the ’60s and ’70s” at their shows, but don’t holler for “Danny Boy” — you might get a harpoon through your midships.

2006 Houston Press Music Awards

My band, The Flying Fish Sailors, has been nominated in the World Music Category of the 2006 Houston Press Music Awards.

You can cast your vote by clicking here

If you have a few minutes please take some time and cast your vote. You are not required to select a band in every category, just fill it out as much as you like.

Pass the information along to anyone you think may be interested, please!