Three Cheers for Holiday Cheer

It's been a great Christmas season for us. We spent holiday time with family in Florida and Beaumont, and got a little time to chill out at home.

In Florida, we walked on beaches, visited historical sites, and watched movies. And my sis showed us a great web cartoon I hadn't seen yet: Making Fiends.

In Beaumont, we made Christmas Tamales, played Sudoku (watch out, it's crazy addictive), and visited with friends & family. And Uberjam's bro showed us a great music video. Double true.

Now, with some time at home, I've been reading a book called Getting Things Done, and trying to learn some new organizational principles. I'm only up to chapter 3, but it seems pretty sensible so far. I've also made some radical changes in my personal software arsenal. I've switched from Life Balance to My Life Organized; from Metapad to Wikipad; and from Outlook to Thunderbird & Sunbird. I've also gone on an email cleaning rampage, and I'm now down to around 15 emails in my inbox (down from over 800). The real test will be whether I can get my To-do lists and scheduled organized to the point where I stop totally dropping the ball on things.

This evening, I'll be subbing on the air at KAZI 88.7 fm. Tune in if you're in Austin! It's a jazz show. I got the new Bill Evans box set (Complete Village Vanguard recordings, 1961) and the new Monk / Coltrane record that's been all the rage (both extremely thoughful Christmas presents). Both will make an appearance tonight, along with a few other gems from my jazz CD collection. If only I could play my show from my new xmas present ... :)


Hamster dance

If this isn't the coolest thing on the internet, I'll eat my hat. Check it out: music composed by hamsters!

Make sure you check out the sound samples. I wish I could write songs like that.


Trail of Dead

I am a fool.

Not for any of the usual reasons (staying up too late on my computer, forgetting to call someone, eating an entire bag of potato chips in one sitting, etc.). No, today I am a fool because I decided that, despite a complete lack of preparation or training, I would attempt to run the Trail Of Lights 5K.

Now, I'm in pretty decent shape. I am active, I move heavy gear on a regular basis, I eat more or less well (no soda, no caffeine, no meat, a good amount of veggies). But I'm not really a runner. My college-age experimentation with running ended up giving me shin splints and exacerbating my knee problems.

Well, being the eternal optimist, I thought "no problem!" and run it I did. It was beautiful, and I kept pace with Ujberjam and our friend MP - I ran 3.2 miles! Wo0T! Except that, right after, I felt like I was about to puke, and now I think my legs and feet are non-functional. Doh.

It could have been worse. I didn't acutely hurt myself, and I didn't actually puke or anything. But my overzealous optimism will certainly cause me some pain tomorrow.

I'm sure it'll be fine when we have to show up for Tai Chi at 9am tomorrow morning.



Uberjam and I made a visit to Cafe Magnolia on Lake Austin Blvd. last night. What a great little spot. Near our house, open all night, and they serve BrexMex! That word doesn't exist, but I'm coining it. They've got some Mexican Food, some Breakfast Food, and some crossovers (Migas, Huevos Rancheros, and the awesome Eggs Zapatina I had last night, which consists of scrambled eggs with queso over an English Muffin.) Great spot.

We also hit up the Nudge 2.5 film festival - a collection of shorts by students at a local cinematography school. Some of the films (including the one featuring music from Leap by DT) were extremely well done. Conversely, some of the flicks were amateur and nearly insulting. But it was still a good time.



Get this: Austin's due for a freezing rain storm tonight! Yeah, I couldn't believe it. Being a hardy Northerner, my first reaction was "eh, no big deal." But as someone a blog I read observed:
Yankees, don't drive tonight! You might be fine, but all of Austin will be sliding into you.
Nuff said.

That, coupled with the fact that our thermostat seems to just "stop working" sometimes, means we'll be in for a cozy night.


My Latest Project: ARP album

I've begun work on a new project: writing an album of ARP music. I'll be keeping a blog as I go, so feel free to tune in if you'd like. I'll post sound samples (and whole tracks) as I complete them.


googly goo

So, after a bit of prodding from the fam, I've updated my Amazon wish list.

I then went on to create a Froogle wish list. Now that's darn cool. If only there were a way for people to mark that they've bought something on the list.

Also, just got back on board with SETI@Home, using the new BOINC client. So cool. I can have my aliens and help mankind, too. I'm on the plastic.com team, but if anybody knows a cooler team to be on, I'm all ears.

Now back to playing with Google Earth. If you're on a PC and you haven't tried it yet, DO IT. It's really rad.


weekend exploits

Just came off a Thanksgiving weekend that was fulfilling and tiring. We had Uberjam's parents out to Austin for Thanksgiving dinner, which was fun, but it meant lots of cleaning & cooking. We did a big vegetarian feast (a first for the 'rents, which was very brave of them) and everything came off perfectly. Well, my home made pie crusts were a little, um, unprofessional looking. But they did the job. My Hokkaido squash with curry and apple cider was also a hit (thanks, Mr. Berley).

Uberjam and I spent the balance of the weekend watching movies (3 and counting ...) and going for runs. It was great to have some non-work time together.

On Sunday, I jammed with a band called Proteus. They're a prog rock band, and their music was so complicated they were seeking a second keyboard player. Rad. We hit it off, so I will play with them some more.

Now heading into a 4 day stretch in Houston - recording session with Orange Is In, a day in the cube farm, and a rad gig with JFJO. Should be a fun time, though I think all this uninterrupted time in Austin has made me soft on driving ...


Ex Em El

It was pointed out to me by a friend that although I had espoused the virtues of ye olde Google Reader, I didn't actually have an XML link on my own blog. So now I've got one.

BTW, one nice feature of Google Reader is that you can export & import your reading list. So I did. Check it out. You could import this and have all the same stuff I have.

(Except you probably don't want to do that, because some of mine are just folks I know personally, and they wouldn't be of much interested to you unless you know them too. Etc.)


Whole movements

Interesting article from the blog of John Mackey, the semi-libertarian CEO of Whole Foods. He talks about the ethos of Whole Foods as a company, while touching on a little politics as well.

Mackey (and whole foods) seems perched at the intersection of several philosophies, taking the most sensible parts from each - the virtue of freedom as an end (as valued by libertarians), the power of business to make a meaningful positive impact on the world (as valued by capitalists), the primacy of things besides the bottom line - things like community, health, environment, sensible choices (as valued by the left). It's not a random collage of beliefs, though; it's a thoughtful critique of the ways each "movement" we're familiar with fails by being too rigid and idealogical. Echoing what I've been hearing from several corners, he says:
I believe we need a new social/political/economical/environmental movement in the world today and I've got some definite ideas what this movement should look like.
An interesting read.



Sometimes, when you find something cool, you gotta share it with your friends. Right? Right. So I present to you: Google Reader.

What is it? It's a web-based newsreader. You just enter in the feeds you want to keep up with, and it shows you all new posts in one view, with easy keyboard navigation. You can also do Google searches of feeds, and subscribe with a single click. It's still in Beta, but so far I've not found much I don't like about it.

And did I mention how much I love my verizon wireless card? I'm at the beach visitng with Jill's folks right now, but I've been online the whole time. Woot! So it is good for something besides letting G-trick play poker while we're on tour.


Back For More

So, the other morning, Uberjam and I were peacefully making our way to our 7am Tai Chi class, (don't laugh, Tai Chi is a lot of fun), when we noticed a FOX NEWS 7 van in the parking lot. Probably doing a story on the bagel place next door, right? Sure.

We arrive in the classroom to discover our teacher, wired up with a lavalier mic, in front of a FOX NEWS 7 camera. He motioned to us to begin the form with him, and as we did, the cameraman gave the 5-4-3... and we were plunged into our debut Austin TV appearance. No fair! I had been awake for, what, maybe 10 minutes tops? At least it wasn't for getting arrested, jam offered.

So, tomorrow morning, as it turns out, will be my SECOND Fox Morning News appearance. This time, though, it's for something a little nicer (hopefully). I'll be playing keys with a blues guitar player named Sam, a relocated New Orleans musician. The upside is that I'll be playing music on TV. The downsides are as follows: a) I don't know any of the songs. Most are standard blues, which is no problem, and he's got charts for the others, so I think it'll be, um, fine. b) I don't know who else is playing, nor have we all rehearsed. The one rehearsal I went to, the bass player, drummer and clarinet player all flaked. c) I have to be there before 6am.

Of all these potential problems, the only one that's actually got me concerned is c. All night coffee place, here I come.



Ah, how easy it is to let your blog go without updates. All you dedicated readers out there, please accept my apologies.

What's new in my world? Let's see.

Rock Me During A Hurricane

So, hurricane Rita, while it turned out to be gentle on Houston, certainly caused a lot of drama. We had a house-full of evacuees, and held a thursday night "party" with half a dozen people on the phone trying to find their parents and friends. Next time we have a party, we'll plan it not to coindice with a natural disaster. In any event, it was actually great to be able to shelter so many folks and we had a good time with our full house. Uberjam and I went to the Austin City Limits festival with a bunch of evacuees, and we all had a sweaty, dusty, happy time.

And for the record, everybody is OK, including Uberjam's family in Beaumont.

Home Improvement

Uberjam and I decided it was high time we removed the ugly, fleshy color that adorned the walls of our rental house in Austin. So, we picked out a new color and painted the living room and back room. The result? It came out a little lighter than we expected (my adjective being "toothpasty") but it is definitely a vast improvement. Painting is kinda fun. Next home improvement chore is to, uh, get some furniture.

Nephew Ian

Well, not really a nephew. My friends back up north had a baby, and he's really cute. And his name? Ian!

The New Album

The fellas and I have been hard at work on our latest album - this time, a live record from a jazz club in Houston. We're really happy with it, and it should be in hand this week (so get your orders in, nudge nudge). Here's a little sneak preview.

I guess that's about it for now. I'll try to update more than once a quarter. :)


Progressing across the north

I'm riding on the ferry to Martha's vineyard as I write this. Portable internet connection is, in fact, a wonderful thing. It was wonderful this morning when I needed a map while I was driving to Woods Hole. It was wonderful yesterday to allow me to work while sitting in 3 hours of traffic on the way to Boston. And I suspect it will continue to be wonderful.

Yesterday was spent with my good friend, Linear Magic Herd. He's in Boston, getting his doctorate in music theory at NEC. Heavy stuff. We listened to a bunch of music and threw tomatos.

The 2 days prior were spent with good old friends in upstate new york. Playing bocce, drinking beer, catching up.

This weekend on the Vineyard, I intend to sleep on the beach, in the sun. (Yes, with lots of sunblock on, mom.)

Ian out!


An adventure begins

Uberjam & I are just finishing up our packing, getting ready to go to Vermont (8:15 am flight on NWA ... that's right, I said NWA)! Just trying to get all my last minute stuff done. But it's OK if I don't - I just got one of THESE fancy things, so I'll have internet connectivity wherever I go.

Today on my drive back to Austin after a day in the Houston office, I got a bit lost (forgot to hang a left on 290 in Brenham, doh). But I just whipped out the trusty laptop, and mapped a route to correct course, with a little help from GPF (a very similar technology to GPS, only with more making fun of you for being stupid). So, anyway, it's already paying off, and I'm sure it'll be a great help on my trip northward.

We hung out tonight with our dear visiting friend Anna. Being with her reminds me of how important it is to keep old friendships alive, even when separated by distance.

I'll likely be journaling about my trip here, so stay tuned. Uh, that's going out to the 3 people who read this blog. You knows who yous are.


Exhausted and busy

Had a crazy weekend. Saturday night, we played a party at the A>S>H>S warehouse that was a) packed, b) full of free food & drinks, and c) wicked fun. But now I feel totally exhausted. I can barely focus on anything today. Stupid not getting any younger.

Spent most of last week in head-down mode, working and editing up our new record, Live at Cezanne. It's gonna be so rad! I'm excited about it. We managed to squeeze 77 minutes on there, though we may have to scrunch it down further if the duplication plant says that's too long. It's almost all piano (vs rhodes or organ) and we all feel great about the performances. Nuje & GPF are mixing tonight, though I won't be able to be there. :(

Our good friend Anna is in town from San Francisco for a couple days, so we're getting to hang with her a little bit too, which is awesome. I'm gonna make some rad salsa cruda and white bean salad tonight for dinner. And then freak out about how I'm about to go out on the road for 2 weeks, and I haven't prepared at all.

BTW, we got a gig at Stubbs! That's a big deal, Stubbs is not an easy place to get in to. Woot. Anybody want to make a road trip for the gig? You can stay at our place.



Uberjam and I just went for a swim at Deep Eddy. Very nice & relaxing. That's one great thing I can say for Austin so far - lots of swimming holes.

Last night we hit the Alamo for the Dukes of Hazard opening. Chowed down on Beer, fries, burgers (a la veggie, of course) and mozzarella sticks. We had a blast, then came home and fell immediately asleep (beer will do that to ya).

Ooh, I bought a keyboard this morning. Stupid having no self-control when it comes to vintage analog synthesizers.

Now off to make dinner and then go see some music tonight.


Mo & The Lawn

Just got through hanging out with my friend Mo Pair. Mo's an Austin staple, as music personalities go. He's about to hit the road with Groovin' Ground (you Houston peeps, go check 'em out next Friday). Mo's a cool cat. He gave me some Navajo Peyote music to listen to that's totally intense.

Been finally getting back to cooking this week. Made zucchini & black bean quesedillas (yum) and sweet corn soup (nothin' finer than fresh corn soup, I tell ya). And yesterday, some fresh mozzarella sandwiches, and ice cream sandwiches. I don't know if making sandwiches can properly be called "cooking", as it's really more just assembling. Oh well.

No cooking tonight, though - Uberjam and I are heading to SoCo for 1st Thursdays (a big party they have down there that I've yet to witness). Nice weather today, so it should be good. May hit some art openings too. Jam's been working like a fiend this week, so she could use some downtime.

I've been working too. Mostly on "work" stuff, but also on my humble abode. I spruced up my music room with some foam, got some nice preamps, and have my sights on some good studio monitors, so I can really get down to editing the next DT album, Live at Cezanne. I've only got a week to finish it! I've also been assembling lots of furniture, and I also discovered a whole extra closet in our house that we hadn't found yet. Weird, eh?


And ... We're Back

As it turns out, if you don't pay your web hosting bill, eventually they turn off your web site. Oops. Anyway, all's well now, and we're back in business. (If you sent me any emails at ianvarley.com in the past couple weeks, please resend them, just in case.)

So ... we won best jazz, best funk, and best keyboardist this year! Sweet. I'm the best keyboardist in Houston, um, in Austin.

To all my friends in the greater New England area (NY, VT, MA, CT): I'm coming for a quick visit in late August. So, email me and tell me if there are any particular dates (from 8/17 - 8/25) that you're just dying to have me sleep on your couch. :)


Happy Bastille Day

OK, I know. I move to Austin and stop posting on my blog? Terrible. But the truth is, I really have been too busy. I'm behind many things, some of which are far more urgent than blogging. Like swimming, cooking, and relaxing. No, no ... like phone calls and emails and work. And swimming.

So life in Austin isn't wildly different from Houston. Well, OK, that's a lie. It's very different. I set my own schedule, which means I work late into the night some times and not at all other times. That alone makes a big difference.

I have also been cooking lately. Believe it? It's true. Last night we had a friend over for dinner, and I made a tomato & corn fritatta, with chilled avocado lime soup, salad, and chocolate cake (well, OK, Uberjam made the cake). Yum. The other day I made whole wheat pasta with salsa cruda (fresh tomatoes are sooo good in the summer) and a cucumber soup. And a warm white bean salad with sundried tomatoes and arugula.

Things are going great on the music front. I'm making some cool connections out here, always working every angle so I can make my avant-garde instrumental spaceship jazz band the world's most famous avant-garde instrumental spaceship jazz band.

OK, that's it for now. More regular check-ins starting ... now!


Who is want to come to Austin, I can invitate?

Hey, guess what? I live in Austin.

No, I haven't been here for a long time. Just got here, in fact.

Yeah, it's pretty nice so far. Still getting settled in.

No, I'm keeping my job. Yes, the band is staying together. No, I ... say, you ask a lot of questions, don't you? Maybe this will explain things better:

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) About Ian Moving To Austin

Read that, then ask me anything else you want. :)


ten steps behind

So, yesterday, I grabbed dinner at this cool new restaurant in the Montrose called Alladin. It's a Meditterranean place. From the outside, it looks terrible - gaudy signs, flashy neon, big pots of flame (really). But the food ... rules! Good hummous, good falafel, fresh baked pita bread, etc. Yumm. I highly recommend it.

Oh, and also yesterday, I did a phone interview with Jimmy Chamberlain (of the smashing pumpkins). That's pretty cool, eh? Yeah it is. He seemed nice, we're playing with his new band tonight at the Meridian. Also interviewed Mark Towns, a Houston guitarist, and that was great as well. He pulled out a track of him jamming with Pharoah Sanders, and a bunch of other awesome out-there basement tracks.

Now, here it is Monday and I'm feeling totally behind. Between trying to promote a big show we're doing on Saturday, and trying to make some big "life decisions" with Uberjam, and deal with all the usual day to day stuff too. Gah.


I am sitting at UH watching the graduation. Uberjam just graduated! Woo hoo!


Wow! What will they think of next. I am posting this message from my mobile phone, via a text message. Rad!

Steps & Llamas

Have you seen this animation of Giant Steps yet? Totally incredible, I just want to watch it over and over again. (Hat tip to Dan Workman for the link.)

And on the subject of random flash movies, have a llama. (Thanks to Ren for this one).



I'm sick. I hate admitting that, but after 4 days where every muscle in my body aches, and every cough makes people around me say "Dude, are you OK?", I can't really avoid the facts any longer. I'm sick.

Of course, where am I? I'm at work. Mainly because I can't find my boss, to ask him to give me a lap top and let me go work from home, for the love of god. So I sit and toil away and cough.

Saw an interesting article on music in Japan, by Derek Silvers of CD Baby. I've always liked Derek's writing, despite the fact that his blog often resembles rough notes scrawled in Notepad more than it does a finished piece of writing.

I did see HGGTTG with Uberjam the other night. My review? Great! It's been long enough since my last read of the book that I wasn't annoyed by the inaccuracies, and I'm a big Martin Freeman fan. So, all's well.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll get back to my coughing.


And there was much rejoicing

Uberjam is done with ye olde Masters Thesis & Defense. Now it's time to party!

Um, I'm too tired to party. Can we just play Atari and eat popcorn?



Here I am! I'm 30!

I'm also tired. I've been in a van all day listening to really intense music and hanging out with my good friends Nuje and GPF. It was a wonderful trip, we played with the fred and got all up ins. It was strengthening. But now I could use a nap.

So far, my 30s have been so rad. I hope every decade starts this well. Shout outs to K'Monte, Switzer, Zermeno, Lomax, Jerry, and all you other folks with birthdays this coupla weeks. And to my mom, sis, and in-laws for calling me on my birthday. And of course to my starling, Uberjam. Apply heat, I turn straight into ether.

Now, where's that new Atari I got?


Speaking of the radio

I'll be on it tonight. I'm subbing in for the funk & soul show on KTRU. Rad! Something to take my mind off being all lonely 'n shit.

Then I'm going over to Rudz later to hang with Mike 'n them. Then maybe a little Continental Club for some Haaga & Tody. Anybody wanna come with? It's my last free night in my 20s ... :(


Case of the blues

So, dropped Uberjam off this morning at the airport. She's gone off to Vancouver for a conference - won't be back until Sunday. So I'm left to chill by myself for a couple days. I'm sure I'll enjoy it some, but right now I just feel kinda lonely.

Listening to the radio right now, it rules.


Happy Easter

Happy Easter! From the Varley clan.


South by southwest

So, I'll be heading out tomrrow for SxSW. Am I ready? Heck no! But time waits for no man.

If you like, you can follow along with my adventures, I'll be blogging about it over at Jamhouston.com. Check it out.



This is sure to be controversial, but looks like Houston has passed a smoking ban in all non-bar restaurants. To that I say: it's a good start.

I welcome anyone to convince me why we shouldn't ban smoking immediately in all indoor public places (besides designated smoking areas). I'm all for everyone's freedom to do what they want, but not when it hurts other people. 2nd-hand smoke definitely hurts others - both in terms of diseases (cancer, etc.) and in terms of basic comfort. Every time I play a gig, I come home reeking of smoke, coughing, etc. No thank you. Let's ban smoking in public places. Let's do it nationwide, so all the people bitching about losing tourism will shut up.

So there.


busy weekend

It's been a busy few days. I'm (almost) fully recovered from my illness, but I've still got a lingering cough. Go away, cough!

Friday night, me & the guys had a surprise chance to open for the rad band Particle. Um, holy crap! It was great, we really enjoyed it. What a novelty, to play at a club that has a real backstage room.

Saturday during the day I got to play on "Smokin' Joe's Roadhouse", a show that's broadcast live on KPFT from the Rhythm Room. That was fun. I got to meet two of the folks behind the excellent web site JazzHouston.com ... Kelly Dean, a local sax player, and Andrew Lienhard, a pianist who has been living in New York for a number of years but is now back in the Houston area (Bellville, specifically). Andrew snapped this shot of me during the show:

Sunday found me relaxing at home with Uberjam, and then hosting my regular show on KTRU. I had the band Drop (from Boston ... not Drop Trio) on as guests and it was a fun old time.

Now I'm back at work and the realities of being a work-a-day stiff are settling back in. I'm off to the gym. Whee. :)



I am sick. Straight up, flat out sick. Yuck. I'm coughing up stuff, wheezing, sneezing, and aching.

So am I at home getting rest like I should be? Of course not. I'm at work. Because I'm a dumbass. *cough*


zogg is coming

Apparently I don't post enough. That's fair I guess. It's not like I'm busy or anything.

What's been up? Buncha drop trio shows recently, all great. Played at the Continental Club with Moses Guest last night, that was fun. Playing with kenny Cordray in Galveston on (fat) Tuesday.

Not that any of that matters much, as we've only got a few years before Zogg takes over anyway:


anxiety? who, me?

I had 2 strange anxiety dreams last night.

First, I was DJing at KTRU, and I had some music playing. Then I fell asleep at the console. I woke up the next morning and realized I had been broadcasting dead air all night long! I tried to cover up for it and read the MRA, but I couldn't get the faders to work.

Then, I had to run to class (at some college, I guess) and I was late, and it was the last day, and there was a test, and I didn't know any of the material, and the instructor wouldn't let me take the test later.

I didn't realize I had all this stress in my life. I thought I was living a pretty easy going life. Come to find out I'm a roiling cauldron of anxiety just under the surface. Who knew?


Rodeo time

It's gettin' towards that time of year again: time for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. As always, pete sums it up quite nicely.

Uberjam and I went a couple years ago thanks to free tickets from my company (gee, thanks). We saw ZZ top for 5 minutes, ate some curly fries, and got the hell out of dodge. Can't say I'd recommend it for even that long, though it was worth the trip to have discovered the existence of deep-fried corn on the cob. Wow.


Weird days

It has been a weird couple of days. Yesterday my office had some rather extensive layoffs. I was not among those laid off, but now I'm in a big empty office. Also, Uberjam was off in Austin last night, so I was all alone at home, too. What did I do? I went out for sushi. :) I also went and checked out David Fahl at Last Concert Cafe and Mark Zeus at Cosmos Cafe (my first time going to the latter). Turned out to be a good evening, to cap off a weird day.

Now I'm back at work and ... there's still nobody here. Hmmba.


More of the same

Uberjam and I had a nice New Year's celebration. We trucked over to Austin for the evening, with intentions of staying in a little B&B that we'd reserved. We got there to find that it was, as far as we could tell, completely out of business. Nice of them to let us know in advance, eh? Anyway, we called around and found a cheap rate (relatively speaking) at the Driskill hotel. So we figured, what the heck, it's New Year's Eve! The room was nice, and we bopped around 6th street a couple drinks (it was crazy) before retiring to the room for Champagne at midnight. All around, very nice.

And now, here I am back at work. I don't feel like much has changed, either externally or internally. I'm in a "stay the course" kind of mood. So no major resolutions, just incremental improvements. Maybe I'll feel more like celebrating the new year in a few weeks, and do some resolutions then.

Any resolutions for you all?