Rumpus Rambles

Gently Down the Stream - How Do You Listen These Days?  

Music is awesome. Like water, it's constantly flowing and finding its level. We take it for granted, assuming it will always be a part of our daily lives. But the way we listen to music... well, I'm not sure we really think about that much. It just seems to change, and we go with it. But changing it is, and if you're a musician, how people listen to music matters. 

From LPs to CDs to MP3s, music reproduction has gone through some pretty major shifts over the past 60 years. 

Now it's streaming that seems to be taking over. The notion that you don't have to buy files and store them. Spotify really led the charge a couple of years ago. Now Apple is in the game. You pay $10/month for access to millions of songs, with no storage required on your part. 

I have been a fan of streaming since it began. Access to millions of albums and songs is exciting to me. But there are a lot of folks who think it's a scam, the streaming services getting rich off the musicians. That may well be the case. But it's no different than the record industry, which got obscenely wealthy on the backs of musicians. If you think that even the major stars got a fair portion of what they were owed by the record companies they were contracted to, well, I'd invite you to research the matter.

But you probably don't even care. And that's the thing - we all just want to listen to music. Sure, it's great to pay for it - it's the notion that the performers get the money we're spending. But they don't for the most part. And the important thing for a musician should be whether or not people are listening. If I have to buy an unknown work by an unknown artist, even for a buck, I'll pass it by. But if I can stream it for a $10/month subscription, I don't hesitate. 

What about you?

Summer Shows, Summer Thoughts, Summer Busy and Summer Not (see what I did there?) 

As the band gets ready for our next show on August 15 at our home base of Armando's, I am frankly astounded that our summer season is nearing the finish line already. I know it's trite to say things like "where did the time go," but honestly, where did the time go? 

As we head into the fall, we're looking around for new venues, new avenues, new musical adventures. The great thing about Caroompas Room, at least for me, is the organic nature of our trip. For instance, this year has been somewhat quiescent. We've played some great shows, and stuck closely to our familiar set list. Rehearsals for new material have been few and far between this year, due to those pesky day job demands, the need to attend to family matters, and just life being life. And that's ok. It is as it is, and we still find the joy of playing together when the opportunities arise. 

The intention moving forward is to focus on new, and largely original, material. I've uncovered a bunch of songs I wrote over the years, and come up with some new ones. These I record in a bare-bones way, and bring to the table. At that point, the band takes the song and creates the flesh and blood of it. The process is always exhilarating, though it can get frustrating at times. Birth is rarely easy.

I invite you to join us for the Aug. 15 show at Armando's. By then, we'll have a couple of new songs for you, and we'll be breathing new life into the familiar ones as well. As I mentioned before, this is an organic entity. Standing still is not in our DNA. 

On behalf of Caroompas Room, have a great summer experience. Be present, don't miss the joy all around you, and take in as much live music as you possibly can. 

The Official Launch of the 2015 Season 

The gig at Lake Chalet yesterday was great - perfect weather, a chill crowd, the band in fine form - we see that as a kind of spring training for the launch of our official 2015 season this Saturday, May 2, at Armando's. 

We have new tunes we are very excited about, and some old favorites we just couldn't purge from the set list. 

Bill and Mike have managed to up their game even higher this year, making them one of the best rhythm sections in these parts, for my money. They keep finding ways to lock in together in unexpected, spectacular ways. It makes for a rare kind of magic. 

Greg, meanwhile, has found new voices to express his already-soaring musical statements. For someone who seems so quiet, his combination of passion and skill comes roaring through on that little red keyboard of his. 

The Sisters have found even brighter smiles, slinkier moves, and an ever-more addictive charm this year. It is difficult to stand so close to these remarkable women and have anything like focus. 

So my own noises and squawks get to live in this amazing musical environment, and I am honored to be part of it. Honored to be in a musical conversation with them, and with you. This band goes places I never thought I would get to go, or expected to go. We hope you'll join us on the ride. 

Saturday, May 2, 8-10pm. Armando's, 715 Marina Vista, Martinez, CA. $10 cover, 21 and over, please. 

Lake Chalet on Sunday... maybe 

Ah, show business. We love playing Lake Chalet in Oakland on Sunday afternoons. It's right on the shores of Lake Merritt, the food is great, the crowd is always delightful, and there is room to dance if you're so inclined (and we hope you are). But the weather... well, understandably, the management is a little shy about bringing in the wait staff and other support folks if it appears that the weather is not appropriate for outdoor dining/drinking/music listening. So we never know until a few hours before showtime if we're going to play. 

Assuming this Sunday (April 26, 3pm to 6pm) is a nice day, please plan on joining us at this wonderful venue. If it looks cloudy, here are some other Caroompas Room opportunities in May: 

Armando's, May 2. Martinez - 8-10pm

Dallimonti's, May 23, Pleasant Hill - 9-12

I'll also be joining Paula Helene and her wonderful band on Sunday, May 17 at Armando's for a fundraiser to promote a single payer health care system in California. That show will be 3-6pm, and we hope to see you there.

A Terrifying Gig on Saturday 

A dream comes true for me this Saturday (April 18, 2015) at Roxx on Main in Martinez. In conjunction with some great players, I'm going to run through most of the album "From The Cradle," Eric Clapton's 1994 all blues album.

I saw him perform this at the San Jose HP Pavilion,and since have seen him many times on YouTube doing rehearsals for this record. I also, at one point, had a bootleg copy of his shows at the Fillmore, where he did a 10-night stand doing this album.

Greg Boudreaux, keyboards for Caroompas Room, will be on hand, along with my brother Danny White on harp, and Rob McCloskey on bass. And Charles Waltmire is the person who was kind enough to offer this opportunity, since it's his gig at Roxx in the first place. Much gratitude for all to put this effort together. We're calling it Cradle Robbers.

I'm petrified at the notion of doing this. And thrilled to be petrified.

I hope you'll consider joining us. 8-10pm.

Derek Trucks - 10 Suggestions for Jamming 

Imma put this under 'Rant.' But it's a well-reasoned list for jammers by Derek Trucks. Biggest takeaway -- listen to the band.

My addition: be kind. If someone decides to play an instrument at a jam that they are perhaps not that adept at yet, and it's the end of the night, and not many folks are around any more, don't be a dick and call out tunes you know are beyond the reach of the person on the non-familiar instrument. It might make you feel good in the short run, but you'll create a situation where you're going to need to look over your shoulder at all future jams. . .

Healing with sound 

A friend of mine from my day job, Rene Jenkins, is an amazing trombone player. He sat in with us at Cline Cellars events in the past, and is one of the most delightful, genuine people I have had the pleasure to meet.

Rene, turns out, also plays instruments from around the world that are used for healing both the body and the spirit. Didgeridoo, various flutes, and other instruments we would call exotic, are at home in his hands.

It's said that the ancient Greeks (yay Greeks!) used music primarily to heal. So the tradition of healing with music goes back at least to the beginnings of our own culture, undoubtedly much further back.

Perhaps it's time to bring that notion back. Maybe get music out of the marketplace, where it most certainly does not belong, and bring it back to the private spaces in our lives. It has kind of wound up there anyway, since most people listen now through earbuds and headphones.

See a 5 minute video about Rene right here.

Gig Review: Surprise in Pleasant Hill! 

Dallimonti's, Pleasant HIll CA
March 14, 2015

Caroompas Room was not supposed to have our drummer, the fantastic Bill Horton, with us for our first gig at Dallimonti's in Pleasant Hill, now under new ownership and much more enthusiastic about live music than the previous owners. Bill, who also works for Kaiser Permanente, is in charge of running the big leadership gatherings, one of which was happening this particular weekend. He thought he'd be too tired from that to play the gig, so we were going to soldier on without a drummer. 

But Bill is nothing if not a total badass, and at the last minute decided that yes, he was going to join us. Exhausted though he was, he drove the night with his usual sense of taste, tempo, and good times.

We had not performed together in three months; that includes rehearsals. So I was a little concerned that the rust would be obvious to the crowd, most of whom would be new to our music. But it turned out that we just fell into our groove, using the sheer joy of being together again after so long a spell guide us. The crowd responded to our enthusiasm with their own, and it wasn't long before the dance floor filled up. Once that happens, things take on a life of their own.

In addition to many Pleasant Hill folks, we were thrilled and delighted to see a solid contingent of Martinez people make the drive and show their support. It never, ever hurts to see familiar faces in the house. In fact, we are always surprised to see how many folks return to our shows, and we are always grateful they do. It drives us to bring our A game to the shows, no matter what. 

We look forward to playing more gigs at Dallimonti's. The word is out that they are going to expand the room to make it more user friendly for bands and dancers. That would be a blessing -- right now it's a little cramped, to put it mildly. A restaurant-bar combination is always a challenge for live music, but the new owners seemed determined to make music as much a part of their operation as food and drink. A very wise business move, in my estimation.

I'm also glad our 2015 season is gearing up in just a few weeks. We are returning to our usual crime scenes -- Armando's and Lake Chalet -- but we are also on the lookout for more venues this year. This week we start rehearsals for what I hope will be entirely new set lists by the time of our first downbeat next month at Lake Chalet. 

I'm looking forward to seeing your face at our next show. And please don't forget to sign up for our mailing list! 

Jim Caroompas

April 12, 2014 Armando's Show: Back to Business 

April 13, 2013

It's been a few months since Caroompas Room has hit the boards. Scheduling snafus, new jobs, and family issues have kept us from more than one or two rehearsals in all that time. 

Thus, it was with with more than a little trepidation that Saturday, April 12 rolled around for our first show of 2014. I had envisioned hitting the Armando's stage with a setlist full of new material, some new choreography, and a dynamic, seamless transition of songs. 

But we managed only one rehearsal on the Thursday before the show, and that was without the Sisters of No Mercy, who were otherwise engaged. All we could really do was run over our existing material and cross fingers. 

The show, turns out, was a huge success. The band was just glad to be back together, and it showed. We brought our A game to the Armando's stage, and the audience, a full house, brought theirs, too. That is the glory of Armando's--people come to listen. You have to be on, and if you are, the audience will be right there with you. That's the exchange musicians are looking for; a conversation that takes place beyond the limitation of words. 

So thanks to all who came. And just know that I haven't put aside my intention to get those new songs in the show, craft those new moves for the girls, and make those seamless transitions. Hey, as they say in baseball, it's a long season. 

Meanwhile, I hope to see you at our next gig on Saturday, April 27 at Lake Chalet in Oakland. It's a great venue, with food and spirits on an outdoor patio on the shores of Lake Merritt. It's kid-friendly, too. Showtime is 3pm. 

Until then, enjoy the Spring, and keeping dancing.

jim caroompas

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