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January 18, 2015

Postage Due

Well, it's been three years since my last post, and it might have been another three years if it hadn't been for Karl Martino. He was at the last blogger meetup I attended six years ago, which I believe was the last one until this past weekend.

Back in 2008, I wrote about the end of the first blogger meetup. Then Karl stepped in to take over from Scott McNulty. We met one last time upstairs at the Grey Lodge in October (the World Series Edition) where I got to meet Scoats and Mark Gardner. That was fun, but by then attendance had tapered off to almost nothing. The meetup sputtered along for five years and threatened to come to life in 2014. Finally Karl proposed a date and got some commitments. We all had a fine time this past Saturday afternoon, and I was even inspired to get my blog working again (It had been crippled in late 2012 by a software upgrade; since I wasn't posting at all, I never bothered to fix it.)

So, my blog is working again, great. All I need is something to say...


Tell the lost-cymbals story! Alternatively, you could attempt to justify your decades-old affection for Anthro office furniture. The possibilities are endless, really.

Welcome back to blogging! I'm so glad Karl is reviving the meetups!

Yes, and he wants to hold meetups in various neighborhoods, including Center City, of course. Hope you can make one of those!

January 15, 2012

Gig: Andy Pratt at Roller’s (January 20 & 21)

I first worked with Andy Pratt back in October when we played together at Roller’s at Flying Fish. I was added to the band at the last moment and had to learn 15 or so songs fast. The first night went well enough, but by the second night, we sounded like a band. It was inspiring (not to mention fun) to work with such a creative and imaginative singer-songwriter.

Andy is coming back to Philly, and we’ll be rehearsing this week for his return shows at Roller’s on January 20th and 21st at 8:00 pm. Tickets are $20. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

For a time in the 1970s, it seemed that Andy Pratt was rock’s next big thing, with his one hit, “Avenging Annie” (a conflation of Woody Guthrie's “Pretty Boy Floyd,” prog-rock, and hippie culture sung in a great falsetto over dynamite piano playing), but he ended up a near-miss as a pop star. It was a shame, since the eponymous album that contained the hit also had some perfectly gorgeous, musically adventurous songs that were easily the equal of the era's more famed songwriters. If, like us, you find yourself listening to the vinyl original now and then and wondering what happened to the erstwhile pop genius, here's welcome news. He's been writing and recording for years... [Andy is working on his 29th CD; most of his catalog is still in print. —Tony]

Besides Andy Pratt on piano, guitar, and vocals, the band includes Jim Dragoni on guitar and Fred Weiss on bass.


Glad your still making the skins vibrate. you were made to play from the day the trash can broke.

January 9, 2012

Gig: Trinity Memorial Church (January 15)

Bassist Alan Segal’s “Jazz & Joe” concerts bring the message of jazz to the community, and he and his groups are now appearing at eight houses of worship in the Philly area. I’ve played a few Jazz & Joe concerts myself at churches in the Philadelphia suburbs.

This Sunday will be my first concert at a church in downtown Philadelphia, Trinity Memorial Church at 2212 Spruce Street. The trio includes Barry Sames, a distinguished pianist with a long history of playing jazz in church, Randy Sutin on vibes, and Jazz & Joe founder Alan Segal on bass. We start at 8:00 following the service.

UPDATE: We are playing the service as well, starting at 7:00.

January 6, 2012

Gig: Le Cochon Noir (January 13)

Sambagrilo is back at Le Cochon Noir for our third appearance on Friday, January 13. We had a very appreciative audience last time; I am really looking forward to it! Sambagrilo plays classic Brazilian sambas and bossa novas, sung in Portuguese.

Le Cochon Noir serves upscale barbecue and more (I can vouch for the food—it’s excellent). 5070 Parkside Avenue, Suite 5100E, Philadelphia. We hit at 8:00 p.m.

November 21, 2011

Gig: Salt Creek Grille (Princeton)

I first worked with Rosemary Benson (vocals) and Ward Marston (piano) at the Salt Creek Grille near Princeton back in September. It was a fun night all around, and they have asked us back this Saturday, November 26.

We’ll be playing danceable selections from the Great American Songbook. There’s no real dance floor, but a few people tried to dance anyway last time, and there’s a whole mess of comfy chairs near the bandstand for listening. We play from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m.


Comfy chairs? Hmmm....

November 14, 2011

Gig: Le Cochon Noir

I’ve been rehearsing with a new band (“Sambagrilo”) for a few months, and we had our first gig at Le Cochon Noir a couple weeks ago. That night went very well, so we are back there this Friday, November 18th. We play classic Brazilian sambas and bossa novas, sung in Portuguese; it’s some of my favorite music in the world.

Le Cochon Noir serves upscale barbecue and more (I can vouch for the food—it’s excellent). 5070 Parkside Avenue, Suite 5100E, Philadelphia. We hit at 8:00 p.m.


When will this band play again?


J. Fink

We have nothing on the schedule at the moment, but soon, I hope. We had roughly twice as many folks come out for this second show; it was a good night.

THIS JUST IN... Sambagrilo has just been booked for a return performance at Le Cochon Noir on Friday, January 13thth, 2012 at 8p. Don't miss it!!!

Hey, whose blog is this, anyway? :-) It's true, we're back and we're glad.

June 22, 2011

Gig: Katie Eagleson and Friends

I've always enjoyed working with singer Katie Eagleson, but this is the first time we’ve worked at an event open to the public. Psyched!

The concert is this Sunday, June 26th at Jacobs Music Recital Hall (at Jacobs Music, 1135 North Easton Road, Willow Grove, PA) starting at 2:00 pm. Since Jacobs Music is a piano store, I'm betting there will be a niiice piano there! Tickets are $12 at the door. Light refreshments (including Katie's homemade chocolate-chip cookies) will be served at intermission.

The program includes fresh arrangements of some classics from the Great American Songbook (aka "standards") and some jazzy instrumentals as well; late-night, smoky jazz on a Sunday afternoon. Katie will be joined by Lenny Pierro on sax, Tom Lawton on piano, and Madison Rast on bass. (For drummers only: I'm also excited to be using my new-to-me classic Sonorlite snare from 1985.)

April 27, 2011

Gig: Roller's at Flying Fish Again

Appearing again with the Jazz Doctors (Joe Camardo, piano and Justin Fink, bass) this Saturday, April 30 from 8:00 pm to midnight. Special guests include Richard Orr (sax, flute, and clarinet) and vocalist Michael Andrews.

Roller’s is at 8142 Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. $10 cover, please call 215-247-0707 for reservations.

I had been planning to go to the Battle of the Brewery Bands at Stoudt's in Adamstown Saturday (6:00-10:00), but obviously now I can't. I have two tickets available if anyone wants to go. $60 face value; $50 OBO. My email is in the footer. Thanks!

March 26, 2011

Gig: Roller's at Flying Fish

Last-minute gig with the Jazz Doctors (Joe Camardo, piano and Justin Fink, bass). It’s a jazz brunch at Roller’s at Flying Fish, Sunday, March 27th from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm. Roller’s is at 8142 Germantown Avenue in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia. $10 cover, please call 215-247-0707 for reservations.

January 11, 2011

Gig: Chris' Jazz Cafe

If it looks like I lost my blogging mojo (and I obviously did), I can tell you that most of the juice is in drumming now. In early 2009, I started practicing again for the first time in decades (long story) and by 2010 was again a devoted student of the instrument. I even started taking lessons. This here site could evolve into a drum blog, who knows?

Anyway, I hope to be playing more in public in the future and have a gig coming up on Tuesday, January 18 at Chris's. I’m privileged to be working with Ward Marston, a charismatic and dazzling pianist, and vocalist Rosemary Benson. Also in the band are Jack Hegyi on bass and Jim Levendis on trumpet. I'm also looking forward to playing Chris' house set, a sweet custom kit made by Philadelphian Matt Gaither.

Chris’ Jazz Cafe is at 1421 Samson Street. We are on from 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM. Cover is $10.


Awesome! We're moving on Friday, but a break from unpacking would be nice. We're gonna shoot to be there.

That's great news! Let me know if you'll be playing out in February-- I may be around.

Thanks for adding my blog to your links list! I am enjoying readin your site and if I ever make it your way would love to check out one of your gigs. Thanks again for reading.

Glad to do it, you have a great site and an amazing collection!

July 20, 2010

Where’s Wilkinson Sword?

They said I can't have anything sharp, but just look at this! Bwah-ha-ha!!

Everything Sampler Pack

The “Everything” Sampler Pack from West Coast Shaving

When I started wet shaving in 2008, I ordered a small sampler pack of five kinds of blades from West Coast Shaving, and when they ran out, ordered 100 of the Derby “Extra” blades. It took over two years, but I finally used them all up. I was very satisfied with the Derbys, but was craving a little adventure (I want to be more like the Old Spice guy), so I ordered the “Everything” pack with 15 kinds of blades (but no Wilkinson Sword?!). By the end of 2010, I’ll know if the Derbys have met their match.


Your deadline has passed... what's the verdict? :-)

July 14, 2010

Drinking Our Way Across Pennsylvania

Nothing breaks up a long car trip like good food and drink, so we were looking forward to trying some new places on a trip to Erie over the Fourth of July weekend. The detours added at least three hours to the travel time, but made the trip seem shorter and certainly far less grueling.

I was not familiar with places outside the southeastern corner of the Keystone State, so for guidance we turned to Lew Bryson's dead-tree compendium “Pennsylvania Breweries,” an iPhone app called Find Craft Beer and, of course,

The first stop was Selin’s Grove Brewing which had the most imaginative and best-executed menu of any place on the trip, including many vegetarian options. Their beer was good, too. We sat outside in perfect weather. A delightful experience, and only a mere three hours from home!

Next was Blue Canoe Brewery in Titusville. Blue Canoe occupies the building formerly occupied by Four Sons, which we had visited in years past; not much has changed. More good food and beer and even live music.

Considering its size, Erie itself disappointing, almost devoid of craft beer, at least according to our references. We had lunch at Matthews Trattoria & Martini Lounge. Fine food, but macros only. From there, we walked a few blocks to the only brewpub, The Brewerie at Union Station, which, in the middle of Friday afternoon was basically empty. Andy’s Pub had an acre of pool tables, but only two beers on tap: Bud Lite or Miller Lite. Fortunately, their bottle list included some winners even though they were out of many of them.

On the way home we stopped for lunch at Otto’s Pub & Brewery in State College. They had the best beer of any place and fine food as well.

Overall, we liked Selin’s Grove best followed closely by Otto’s.

June 17, 2010

Gig: Art All Night-Trenton

This Saturday, I am very excited to be playing a part in “Art All Night-Trenton,” an arts extravaganza that includes visual arts, demonstrations (glass-blowing, graffiti demo, iron pour and more), and music. Last year, 650 artists participated and 8,000 people attended. The festival begins at 3:00 PM Saturday, June 19 and runs straight through the night until Sunday at 3:00 PM.

There are two stages, one indoor and one outdoor, with bands changing every hour. Check out this lineup. I am playing with the Rhythm Kings, a classic-swing/Dixieland jazz band from 7:00 to 8:00 on the indoor stage. Location is the former Roebling Wire Works building (675 South Clinton Avenue) in the Chambersburg section of Trenton. Linky for full info. Free!

March 27, 2010

Brewing with Glacier Hops

So what did we do with all those hops? Well, in the spirit of Sly Fox’s Hop Project, we decided to brew a single-hop pale ale. We picked a simple pale ale recipe (“Gone Fishin’” from The Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian). I was advised that fresh hops are equivalent to pellets, so we measured out the same amount by weight.

To get maximum hop extraction, we tried something called the Texas Two-Step, which splits the boil into two stages. Previously, we boiled 2.5 gallons of water and added all the ingredients to that, then added 2.5 gallons to the fermentation bucket. The Two-Step has you split your ingredients and add half to each 2.5-gallon boil. Even with that, the beer tasted weak and watery at first. Disappointing. Now that the beer has been in bottles for a few weeks it tastes much better, but it still has virtually no hop flavor. Either our hops are “weak,” or we didn’t use enough of them, or both, probably.

For our next batch (a Hoegaarden clone), we will be using pellet hops and adding some of our Glacier hops for aroma. Hoping this batch will be much better.


Fresh hops are nowhere near as potent as pellets. Approx 5 oz of freshies to an ounce of pellets.

That's good to know, thanks! We started some Columbus hops this year. They did well, but won't have enough for a batch. We should have enough by next year this time, we hope.