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When I titled my monthly news 'from the front', I had in mind the front lines of gigging and creating American music. This month it takes on a different and more sinister meaning, as in cold front.

Winter has come crashing across the country with its usual northwest origin (thanks, Canada,) and I find myself wanting to "settle down for a long winter's nap," as the seasonal poem goes.

Instead, I am busy with gigs, rehearsals, teaching, recording, and keeping up with life in general.

Thanksgiving weekend kicked off with One World Tribe at Docksider's on Wednesday and Nietzsche's on Friday. Ken, the superb soundman at Nietzsche's, did his usual CD recording of the gig from the sound board, which should be online at www.oneworldtribe.com soon.

On Saturday I played at the Papermoon with Jim Madden sitting in for Basil Ronzitti. Tito came in for the final set, joining Dick Thompson in the rhythm section.

The following Thursday Cat's A Bear played at the new Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle in Erie. The gig was part of their ongoing Jazz Performance Series, which has done very well each time including this one. We had a great time bringing our original music to old friends and new acquaintances.

I switched Papermoon Saturdays with Joe Dorris so he could spend a birthday weekend with his daughter, so I played on the second of December with Tony Stefanelli and Basil Ronzitti, instead of on the ninth, as originally scheduled.

After having an unusual Saturday evening off, I play on Friday the 15th with Basil at the Papermoon. We will be playing duo, something we get a chance to do once in a while, and will no doubt present a fun evening of Jazz to enjoy.

On Saturday the sixteenth I join Preach Freedom of One World Tribe, Rickie Hopkins and Kenny Cornelius of J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm, and Michelle Martin in a new group called Venus. We will be playing some eclectic music at Scotty's Jazz and Cigar Bar on 3rd and German in Erie.

On Sunday Preach and I head East with One World Tribe to Brooklyn, NY, to play at Southpaw. We look forward to bringing our sound into the City.

OWT plays Shawbuck's in Jamestown, NY, on Friday the 22nd, and after I do another Papermoon trio with Basil and Dick on Saturday the 23rd, the Tribe will play at Docksider's in Erie on Christmas Night (Monday the 25th). Join us for this post-present depression party!

After staying home and huddling under the covers while watching TV for New Years, I rejoin One World Tribe at Shawbuck's on Saturday, January 6.

One World Tribe will begin recording album number 3 in January, readying new tracks for our 2007 release. We're looking forward to another all-original disc of club-tested tunes for your listening and dancing pleasure.

The Jam Along Blues CD is recorded and produced, and will be online on CD Baby any day now. This disc has eleven shuffle-style backing tracks, designed for jamming along. The CD is ready for an instant jam session, for a group of one, two or more. Teachers and students will find this practice tool extremely useful, and everyone will find it fun to play along.

More projects are in the works, and more gigs are on the horizon. Stay tuned to the calendar for updates on performance activities, and check out these other web sites for news and background information on the following groups.

Cat's A Bear
J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm
One World Tribe

peace - f

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Here in the Northeastern Great Lakes Region of the United States, the cold season of winter is rapidly approaching. Things never go in a straight line in nature, so there are days with sixty degree temperatures, and days where you just can't seem to get warm no matter how many extra layers you put on. (I gain twenty pounds of clothing every winter; they're the easiest pounds to shed in the spring, once it's warm again.)

Every year around this time I like to remind people about a few tips that make the transition into winter a little easier and healthier. First, an all-year-round tip about drinking water - lots of it. If you are in need of some statistical information, start here with an email that lists some facts about dehydration. Then, read Dr. Batmanghelidj's article on The Importance of Water. You'll be drinking (water) before you know it.

Then, get ready for colds, flues and digestive problems with the world's greatest cough drop, ginger. The link includes instructions for preparing the ginger, as well as some of the positive attributes of this cheap and highly effective root.

Another healing tool for colds and flues is acupressure. There are a number of books and articles that explain the basics of this healing art, but a few simple routines can get you started. One of the best pressure points for this is Li 4, or Large Intestine point 4. Follow the links for more on using this technique for health.

The knowledge that I have acquired over the years regarding self-healing and alternative medicine grew out of a long healing process that began over twenty years ago. When I was in my early twenties, chronic pain with a long history became bad enough to force me to change jobs and to walk with a cane. As a 22 year-old man, I was unable to move my own musical equipment.

Upon the advice of a friend (thanks, Barbara) I went to see an acupuncturist, and felt better than I had in ten years after the first appointment. This set me on a path that has continued to this day, a path of healing and self-help that has allowed me to stay in music and stay on top of my game instead of being side-tracked by health issues. In many ways, even aging is no longer a factor in my life, because my health continues to improve as I grow.

Of course, if I had not had a crisis directing me, I might have never began this quest for health. There is something to be said for being so thick-skulled that your life forces you to change when nothing else will. What can I say - I'm from 'Jersey.

Well, now that we have you feeling good and getting ready for winter, let's take a quick look at what's been and what's coming.

One World Tribe played our first gig at Shawbuck's in Jamestown. We had a kickin' time, and will return there on December 22, and for several more dates in 2007. OWT plays Docksider's in Erie on the 22nd, which is the night before Thanksgiving. If you're in Erie for the holiday, or with us all the time, stop in and jam with the Tribe. If you miss this one, we'll be back to the Dock on Christmas Night!

We head up to Buffalo on Friday the 24th to kick a few sets at Nietzsche's, all the while working out some new material, including the music for BMUC and Lockdown, two of my Hiphop lyrics. The group is developing a number of Hiphop cuts for the upcoming CD, and myself, Preach Freedom and D.J. Chilly J have been freestyling at most of the shows over the last year.

I play some jazz guitar with pianist Basil Ronzitti at the Papermoon on Saturday the 11th and Saturday the 25th, so stop in and have a drink in the classiest Jazz Club / Restaurant / Art Gallery in the region, and hear some great straight-ahead jazz. Tony Stefanelli of Cat's A Bear will be joining me on the 11th, and Tito can be seen dropping in for some conga work at any time.

Cat's A Bear plays November 30th at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at the entrance to Presque Isle in Erie. This is part of an on-going series at the Ridge Center, so come and join us for a fun evening of original jazz with the Cats.

For those of you awaiting the online introduction of the new Jam Along Blues CD, all I can tell you is that I am deep into the accompanying materials, including PDF files of the progressions, By Key solo scales, and By Chord solo scales and arpeggios. All of these will be online on a new web site within a month, so keep looking here for updates.

The students who have purchased the disc so far have all reported positive results from using the disc in jams and practice. The time-keeping practice alone is well-worth the effort.

I leave you links to two of the jams I have recorded using the Jam Along Blues CD tracks. I have taken the 'blues-shredder' approach to these, just for fun. Enjoy.

free mp3 files:
[note: mp3s require an mp3 player like free winamp]
12-Bar A (Bump/Turnaround):  download | stream
Shotgun Blues:
  download | stream

I see a break in the clouds, so I am off to do some yard work (gads, how suburban). Remember your health tips as we head off into winter, and drink your water year-round. We want all of our music fans to be healthy, happy, and ready to support independent music everywhere, all the time!

peace - f

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 OCTOBER 2006 

Ah, the smell of school bus fumes and damp leaves. It must be fall coming on. Vacations are over and kids and teachers are back in school. As the dust settles on the change from summer to fall, details come into focus and last-minute arrangements are made. As Sherlock Holmes used to say, 'the game is afoot!'

Actually, the main change to report here is simply that, due to some scheduling discrepancies, I will have the opportunity to play piano with Mike Ohm on guitar and Tony Stefanelli on bass on Friday, October 20 at the East Erie Turners Club. Jazz vocalist Kevin Mahogany is performing at 8pm in this JazzErie-sponsored concert. Those arriving early will enjoy the trio for a set from 6:30pm - 8pm, when Kevin will begin his set.

Tony and I will perform with the rest of Cat's A Bear the week before at Scotty's Jazz and Cigar Bar on the corner of 3rd and German Streets in Erie. We are looking forward to stretching out in this hard-core jazz bar, and we hope you will join Phil, Joe, Nick, Tony and I for our sets. CAB will also be performing in late November at the new Tom Ridge Environmental Center at the entrance to Presque Isle.

One World Tribe played Sherlock's in downtown Erie on the first Friday in October. This was our first foray into this long-time local establishment, and we look forward to the next. OWT goes to the Water Street Music Hall in Rochester, NY on the last Friday of October, splitting the jamming duties with The Buddhahood, who will be joining us at Docksider's in November.

I play at the Papermoon with Basil Ronzitti on the second and fourth Saturdays. I stopped in to the Greg Abate presentation a few weeks back, and had a great time. Greg is a fantastic player, and the show brought together some of Erie's finest with this East Coast icon. Roger Humphries of Song For My Father fame will drum on the first Saturday of November, with local vocalist Joe Dorris. Basil, Tony and Tito will be joining them for this special event.

On the studio front, the Jam Along Blues CD is complete, and I am working on the online development now. Soon a web site will accompany the CD which is currently available to my students. The site will contain information on how to use the disc, and charts with scales and progressions. For those of you out there that have done blues with me, this CD will cover all the fundamental progressions, including the cycle of fifths and substitute dominant work towards the end of the studies. If you can't wait for the CD to be for sale online, contact me at frank@franksinger.com and we'll figure it out from there!

Here's some fried-and-shredded Shotgun Blues for the patient.
free mp3 files: BLUES JAM 2 download | stream
[note: mp3s require an mp3 player like free winamp]

While you're waiting, get the winter windows ready, move the furniture away from the heating vents, and get the sweaters out of the closet. Rake those leaves and breathe in those bus fumes.

And keep your eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. The game is afoot, after all.

peace - f

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One of the best parts of my job is that I get to play with incredible musicians all the time. Many of these musicians over the years have been drummers and percussionists, as I am as rhythmic as I am melodic, so I end up playing with a lot of drummers. Mark Marchant of One World Tribe was one such drummer.

Mark passed away on August 26 at the age of 52. He was an exceptional musician, and it was my great fortune to have played with him, learned from him, and counted him as a friend. He played congas and percussion with One World Tribe for the first five years of the bands existence, and on the debut album Unity and Diversity, always contributing supreme playing skills, a great attitude, and a deep knowledge of Afro-Caribbean and Latin drumming.

Mark held a Master's Degree from University of New York at Buffalo in Fine Arts, Percussion Performance. He played timpani and percussion with Erie's Philharmonic, Chamber Orchestra, Ballet, and Opera Theater Orchestra. He taught at the D'Angelo School of Music at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA, and inspired many musicians along the way. He will be sorely missed by many, and our deepest sympathies go to his family for their loss.

Memorials can be made to the following organizations.

Mark Marchant Percussion Scholarship
c/o the Advancement Office at Mercyhurst College
510 E. 38th St.
Erie, PA 16546

VNA Hospice
1305 Peach St.
Erie, PA 16501

Sacred Heart Church
816 W. 26th St.
Erie, PA 16508.

Near Journey's End from J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm commemorates the loss of two other artists, jazz drummer Mike Smith and visual artist James Hall, who created four of the T-Shirt designs at the J.D. Hopkins.com T-Shirt store. Jim's Saxophone design was used for the cover of Near Journey's End. It is a beautiful silkscreen. J.D. Hopkins, the founder of the Sons of Rhythm, counts Mike Smith as one of his principal influences in music, inspiring him to excel in his art. J.D. grew up with both of these artists, and continues to produce art in both forms himself.

Near Journey's End is the twelfth CD by this prolific collective improvisation ensemble. Each CD release has been a double disc set, and these two sides contain 19 cuts of Jazz Fusion and World Music improvisations. More on this CD and the group can be found on the J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm page, and you can purchase the new CD at cdbaby.com/jdsons9.

After a very busy August, One World Tribe started September with a trip to Rockford, Illinois, where we followed Buckwheat Zydaco and some great stompin' music at the On The Waterfront Festival. The Tribe goes to Buffalo on Saturday the 16th for a late afternoon show, and Elkins, West Virginia on the 23rd for a post-drum-workshop performance. In addition to the OWT gigs, I play at the Papermoon with Tony Stefanelli of Cat's A Bear and pianist Basil Ronzitti on Saturday the 9th.

On the studio front, I am making headway on the Blues Jam CD, which will have 12-bar shuffle blues at various tempos for practice purposes. I am excited about this project, and I have already been field-testing some of the tracks with students in my private lessons. I am checking for things like balance and the flexibility to be played on different systems. I know that there will be times when a boom-box is plugged into a guitar amp with a headphone jack, so I have been keeping that in mind as I mixed.

Every once in a while as I am putting these tracks together, I get silly and do a little "blues shredding," so I am closing out this month with an mp3 of the Blues in A, with a bump and a simple turnaround, and a slightly-out-of-character guitar solo. Sometimes you just have to get silly, and celebrate life. Don't forget.

free mp3 files: BLUES JAM download | stream
[note: mp3s require an mp3 player like free winamp]

peace - f

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 AUGUST 2006 

Over the years, through observation, I have come to think of August as "change month," that time of year when cosmic adjustments are made to the fabric of reality. These adjustments can take the form of new neighbors, a different job, new friends, a miraculous recovery or bizarre accident, or any event, big or small, which can send your life in a different direction. For me, the changes have been subtle but profound, but I have often observed radical transformations, and these can just as easily be global as they can local or personal. All of this is simply to say; keep your eyes open. This is good advice in any endeavor, but making it through August seems to particularly call for it.

It has been said that fire is a sign of transformation, in this case a fire that signals the beginning of the cycle of change that August represents. Many of us in the United States have been through a kind of fire recently, in the form of a heat wave that left many fatigued or worse, and had air-conditioners working overtime. Maybe that's just more global warming. At any rate, one thing that doesn't change is that musicians have to work!

One thing that changed last month was that Dave Mason cancelled his appearance at the Rochester Party in the Park, so One World Tribe played a long set for the people, and then did another one later at Bob's Tiki Bar right down the street. The gigs must have been successful, because after Tribe's trip to Buffalo on the morning of the 19th, we came back to Rochester by request to play at the Liberty Pole for two sets in this outdoor park. After kicking off August with the Sherman, NY, Barn Dance, OWT plays a double on the 12th, beginning at Blind Baby's Holiday Festival in Western New York, then finishing off at the Pepsi Amphitheater in Erie, PA. We play Celebrate Erie the following Saturday in the afternoon, and finish the month at the Elmwood Arts Festival in Buffalo, NY on the 27th. Unless something changes.

Cat's A Bear had a couple of rockin' sets at Scully's during the JazzWalk, and we're looking forward to doing it again on Thursday the 10th in the Gazebo in Frontier Park (near the playground at the tennis courts on 6th Street). We play at 7, so come early to get a seat on one of the stone slabs. We are also looking forward to our first band visit to the Tom Ridge Environmental Center at Presque Isle on November 30. We just recently added a couple of new tunes to the repertoire, and we've been having a lot of fun breaking them out for these gigs. Of course, we still play the classic "Change," especially in August. Unless that changes.

The usual Papermoon gig with Basil Ronzitti will happen on the 26th. Our evening of duets was a blast, even though it was really a trio - Tito jumped in on the congas to keep the rhythm going, while Basil and I crunched the 12 pitches for some good times. Let's hope we can do that again sometime, just for a change.

On the J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm front, Near Journey's End is closer to completion. The covers are being printed now, and the disc will go into production in mid-August. This CD cover is beautiful. It is a drawing from Jim Hall, one of the T-Shirt artists displaying their work on the J.D. Hopkins.com Web site. Jim passed away earlier this year, so it is particularly poignant to see his Saxophone design gracing our latest collective improvisation endeavor. I look forward to bringing it to all of our Jazz Fusion music fans.

J.D. and Sons members Joe Frisina and Rickie Hopkins invited me to play some bass in the Too Big Power trio on the last Saturday of July. We had a great time at Angie's family reunion, and rocking out with this trio is tons of fun. It's nice to keep up with the bass chops every once in a while. Look for the release of the group's debut CD 'Ride A Wave' sometime this fall.

I am busily at work at 1 Grizzly Cat Place Studio on an upcoming instructional CD. I am about half way through a disc of background rhythm tracks for soloing on standard Blues progressions in the old shuffle style that made Blues so popular in American Music. I am doing a few solos myself just for laughs, which I will post on the mp3 page when the disc becomes available. Of course, all of this is subject to change.

Well, we're deep into August now, and changes are happening all around us. Just keep your eyes open and observe, and while you're doing so, pick up a CD or two from the NKP page. Just because you're watching for those changes doesn't mean you can't have some jams on to enjoy the changes to. Isn't that what music is for?

peace - f

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 JULY 2006 

Fire and water are members of a number of ancient groupings. Astrology pairs fire and water with earth and air to form the four elements subdividing the twelve signs. Ayurvedic medicine adds space or ether to earth, air, fire and water, and Chinese Acupuncture Five-Elements Theory has its earth, metal, wood, fire and water.

All of these systems in some way are used to help restore harmony through balance. I have to wonder what kind of balance is being achieved in the United States with fire in the West and water in the East.

Here in the Eastern Great Lakes Region we are experiencing "funny weather"; weather created by being somewhat in the balance point between the fires plaguing the Western United States and the flooding water-logging the East Coast. Thankfully we have been spared serious repercussions from this meeting point. We hope everyone fares well through these dangerous times.

Few go untouched, however. One World Tribe was scheduled to play at the American Music Festival in Harrisburg, PA Independence Day Weekend. Due to excessive flooding, the entire festival was cancelled. We are glad action was taken to ensure safety for everyone involved, and we hope to be included in next year's festival.

The rest of the Tribe's agenda for the month of July consists of Thursday the 6th in Rochester, opening for singer/songwriter Dave Mason, Friday the 14th at the Central Pennsylvania Arts Festival in State College, a Day School workshop on Wednesday the 19th, and Discover Presque Isle (Beach 11) on Friday the 28th.

The cancelled OWT gig on the 1st was replaced by a night at the Papermoon (thanks, Basil and Joe!). I will also appear there on Saturday the 8th, and on Friday the 21st Basil Ronzitti and I will appear together from 8:30 - 11:30. Letting the two of us loose without a chaperone should yield an interesting evening.

Cat's A Bear finally gets to flex its paws and claws during the annual JazzErie Jazz Walk held in downtown Erie on July 15. The Cats will begin playing at 8pm at Scully's Pub, right across the street from the Erie Art Museum on State Street. We look forward to getting out of the basement, and will be unveiling a couple of new tunes for the gig. If you think there is nothing new in jazz, come check us out.

You can also find some cutting-edge jazz from J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm. Two more (sets!) of the masters are in my possession now, awaiting the final artwork to begin the process of production on discs 12 and 13, for a new total of 26 sides of collective improvised jazz-fusion. Look for more news regarding Near Journey's End and Colors of Time in the near future.

One of the newer members of J.D. and the Sons is Too Big Power founder Joe Frisina. Joe is threatening to include me in a TBP gig on the 29th of July, so keep your eye on the schedule to see confirmation and details as they occur.

Back home at 1 Grizzly Cat Place Studio, Vinnie Stefanelli and I continue to create projects and demos in the studio. Vinnie is helping me learn to stretch the limits of my knowledge, usually by saying something like "that's nice, but maybe you could....", and then I am off and running again, expanding my knowledge on the fly! Luckily, the ideas behind studio work are old hat, it's just that I've never had to engineer for clients before. While they're waiting. Right there behind me. I believe in language-learning they call this total immersion.

Speaking of immersion, if you need some incentive to remember to drink lots of water, refresh yourself with a sip or two of this article. The list of 44 reasons to drink water is sure to have something inspirational for you. During times of fire (summer), it's good to remember to drink, and water excels at hydrating you properly.

If you have been thinking of immersing yourself in music instruction, now is a good time to try and nudge your way into a good time slot for the fall. There are afternoon and evening openings which would fit in with a school schedule or after-work schedule. Due to greater flexibility in my summer schedule, I have been seeing more students in daytime hours, several for hour-long times. This has opened up some prime schedule "real-estate", so contact me by email or call me weekdays during banker's hours (10am - 4pm) if you are interested. My number is in the local Erie phone book, or ask around, and leave a message!

As we all enjoy our Independence Day celebrations, let's remember those that gave of their time, their lives and their spirit to work towards a day when we are truly free. Let's also remember those displaced, uprooted, harmed and lost by the elements of fire and water, wind and earth. Help when and how you can, and don't believe the hype that is used to divide us. As we say in the band, "We are One World Tribe, You are One World Tribe, and that is the Human Family."

peace - f

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 JUNE 2006 

Why throw the clock out the window? To see time fly, of course!

Well, the time is flying by now that summer is (sort of) upon us. May was a very hectic month, ending with One World Tribe's road trip, which began with a gig in New Jersey at the Union County Arts Center. The drummers held a workshop in the morning for a Music and Mentors program - a great group of kids who attended the performance in the evening as well. An OWT shout out to Alex and Lauren, two attendees who joined the One World Tribe mailing list with some very nice things to say! Thanks!

After performing in NJ, we sent half the band home in the rental and proceeded on to John Price Elementary School in Lancaster, PA, for a week-long residency with the kids from the school. We began the week presenting various Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and ended up helping the students present plays telling various traditional Afro-Caribbean stories, with some students helping the Tribe play music and sound effects for the plays. This is one great group of kids, and the teachers have clearly done a tremendous job with them. A shout out to Mrs. Reed, who wrote the grant for us to come, to Ms. Scott, who graciously let us take over her music room, the teachers for all their greatness (and for feeding us!!!) and especially to the kids, who helped us have a great week with them!

With the help of Residency Artist Tom Reese we performed for students, family and friends at the nearby New Song Church, where the church Pastor graciously allowed us to not only play there, but use the house drums, keyboards and a VERY nice Taylor acoustic-electric guitar. Thanks! The band performed a piece written by Tom and the students of Price Elementary, and then several traditional Afro-Caribbean songs, recordings of which are posted here.

The drummers in One World Tribe are doing a two-week residency in Westminster, PA, which will finish up with a group performance on Friday the 23rd. The Tribe also plays for the Presque Isle Summer Concert Series on Wednesday the 28th.

After returning home Friday at three in the morning and playing the Moon the next night, I was ready for a couple of days off with the family for Memorial Day weekend. I played solo at the Erie Club on June 2nd, and will return to the Moon on the 24th.

This week the members of Cat's A Bear set up at the Warner Theater for the annual Longs School of the Dance performance. Phil's company, Raven Sound, is handling the equipment rental, so Phil is pulling double duty this weekend! These gigs are always a blast, the kiddies are fun, and the adults and young adults are award-winning dancers, so there is lots to see and do as we hang out in the pit for the show.

On the 17th, Joe, Tito and I join Basil Ronzitti at the Papermoon with guest artists Ralph Lalama on saxophone and Nicole Pasternak on vocals. These guests are both critically-acclaimed jazz artists, promising to deliver a great show. I'll be playing bass which will be fun for me (and hopefully everybody else). Tickets are five dollars and the show starts at 8:30pm. Don't miss it!

On the studio front, I continue to work on my latest project, recordings of background tracks for practicing improvisation to. I started where I start in my teaching, given a choice, which is the blues. I will be making a CD of this available to students, and as an internet sale, once the tracks are assembled.

Vinnie Stefanelli and I are also working together, with some Burger King radio spots (that's Dave!) already in circulation, and some music licensing development projects in the air. Working with the gear on all of these projects helps me get faster, get oriented, and learn how to make better music. This technology is very powerful, and getting to know it is like learning another instrument. Ah, something to fill that spare time with...

The next J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm project is forthcoming, with work beginning on Near Journey's End. As always, I look forward to hanging around with these tracks while I put together the web promotion and prepare the discs for internet sales. The Sons have a healthy digital download fan-base now, with good monthly sales. CD Baby is working with over 25 internet-based digital download services, and all eleven J.D. albums are in digital distribution through CD Baby. Jazz-Fusion, like so many forms of music, is not dead after all! The internet is finally allowing music with marginal commercial sales to reach their fans, which in J.D.'s case includes Rick Calic and his Web Site, Jazz-Rock World.com. I'd just like to give a quick plug to Rick for all of the support and positive feedback he has given to us over the years. Go check out his site - if you like Jazz-Fusion, you will find it a great resource.

After you finish checking out Rick's site, put in the screens, cut the grass, feed the dog and head for the beach. Enjoy this summer while you can. I think I see clocks flying around up there somewhere.

peace - f

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 MAY 2006 

Sometimes the universe just seems to be in sync. Strangely, this can show itself in times of turbulence just as easily as in times of calm. As spring moves towards its goal of summer, the weather, the economy, and the music business all seem to be progressing like a chart of the stock market. Ups and downs are the rule of the day.

Reacting to this jagged surface requires flexibility and diversity. With a couple of teaching spaces open in the schedule, new clients for First Art Records and 1 Grizzly Cat Place pick up the slack, and more solo guitar work and school residencies and workshops fill in the gig schedule.

One World Tribe kicked off the month with a three-day, five-school performance workshop in the Western New York School System. It's great to see the kids sing, do the dances, and join in the percussion jamming. A five-day residency in Lancaster, PA will bring the same harmonious music to more of the Human Family, with a more focused, classroom setting. Tribe also plays two gigs this month, both private and/or out of state.

In addition to the usual good times with Basil Ronzitti at the Papermoon on the second and fourth Saturday, I will play solo jazz guitar there for Mother's Day. Another solo guitar gig for the Erie Day School rounds off the month of playing.

First Art Records says hello to songwriter and performer Roland Kljunich, with his four-song demo project in duplication. We are also working on the Too Big Power release, Ride A Wave, and J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm has a new CD in the beginning stages of development.

I have been spending time at 1 Grizzly Cat Place learning the ins and outs of computer-recording with Cubase. In addition to some more ad spots in the near future, I am producing more original music with the gear, including new tunes for Cat's A Bear and One World Tribe, and as always, more Hiphop. There is a vast amount of learning to do with this set up. It is really like learning a whole new instrument, and getting one's chops together requires time spent at the console, which is always at a premium!

As we dip and climb our way into the summer schedule, more gigs and projects are appearing on the horizon. So, while the ride is bumpy, the arc of the curve is rising. Stay tuned for more, and be sure to check the calendar of events for the most up-to-date information on gigs and new releases.

peace - f

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 APRIL 2006 

At last. Spring.

By now, even the most remote winter climates should be experiencing the beginnings of the thaw. We are finally stripping off one or two of the layers that have been keeping us warm all winter, and trying to remember where the screens are so windows can be opened. We are also coming to the end of that crunchy time (especially for musicians) between New Year's and tax time, where everyone battens down the hatches to see how rough the seas of finances will be. Students return to lessons, gigs return to the community, and cats dust off their summer stage wear, getting ready to sweat off those winter pounds jamming. Oil companies begin hoarding their profits for the next big heating season. Animals dig holes next to the house foundations so they can be cool in the warm sun.

All the sure signs that we are headed for summer, and getting there has been quite a journey.

March started out with a studio session at my new virtual studio, which I have named 1 Grizzly Cat Place, in keeping with the Cat's A Bear - Naked Kitty Productions theme started over 20 years ago. I am developing a web site with the services listing, which will include new music for advertising, arranging and modifying existing ads, music tracks, arranging and production for songwriters, general use performances such as the solo jazz guitar tracks I have been doing for my new B.C. Canada friends (hello, Pat and Dallas!), cleaning, fading and normalizing existing tracks, and file type conversion, such as wave to mp3 or large mp3 to streaming audio files. If you have need of small-scale virtual digital studio services, please contact me at frank@franksinger.com. I will be posting samples of the work done in the studio over the next few months so you can see what I've been up to!

3bop kicked off the gigs with a fun show at Scotty's. We enjoy kickin' back with the trio, and with the regular addition of preach freedom of One World Tribe, playing percussion and adding some vocals and scat. Papermoon gigs followed on three of the four Saturdays, with a solo gig at the Erie Club in-between filling in the jazz for the month. One World Tribe played a new club in the Jamestown, NY, area called the Big Tree. We had a lot of fun there for St. Patrick's Day, and were treated very well by staff and crowd alike. OWT also headed into the New York school system at Cattaraugus High School, where the drummers held a workshop for the music students, and they joined us for the last number of a live performance for the whole school. The kids got up on the floor and danced, joining in the fun that the Tribe always has playing original World Music.

April brings more fun, including two Saturdays at the Papermoon and a Sunday of solo jazz guitar for the Easter Buffet, a gig in Fredonia with Eric Wills at the Barker Brew, and a real project - a Marvin Gaye tribute at Erie's Docksider's Tavern on Friday the 14th. Members of four of Erie's most popular bands, One World Tribe, Familiar Spirit, Gem City All-Stars and Chocolate Starfish, will join together to play an evening of this excellent music. Horns, vocals, keyboards, guitars, basses and drums will all somehow have to find a way to fit onto the stage at Docksider's. This will be entertaining enough, let alone grooving to an evening of Marvin! This is definitely a one-time event, so join us for a night of great music on Friday, April 14.

In the mean time, put away that outer layer of clothing, dust off those screens, take a deep breath, and enjoy the coming of spring. To me, it can only mean that summer is right around the corner, and that means good times. It also means I lose those extra winter pounds - of clothing - just like an instant weight-loss program!

Remember to support local and independent music everywhere. It's a great thing to do in the spring and summer months, and your local musicians will thank you for it!

peace - f

 MARCH 2006 

In "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" there is a moment where Arthur Dent asks his friend Ford Prefect what going into hyperspace is like. Ford replies that it's a bit like being drunk. When Arthur asks "what's wrong with that?", Ford replies "Ask a glass of water."

February was a bit like going into hyperspace for me. In addition to an abundance of gigs, many other events and projects required very focused attention, the result being days when I would suddenly notice that it was five o'clock in the afternoon, or two o'clock in the morning.

For the last few months I have been updating the One World Tribe Web site. Although the site will continue to be refined and added to, it went online the first week of February (drop in and have a look around!). As any Web developer will tell you, getting a Web site up and running requires a very intense couple of days to make sure everything is where it's supposed to be, and then there is another week or two of double checking, kind of like measuring twice in carpentry. So far, everything seems to be where it's supposed to be. A tip of the hat to Derek Sivers (CD Baby's founder and programmer), who launched the Hostbaby Web hosting service exclusively for musicians, and made some normally really hard stuff really easy. Thanks, Derek!

One World Tribe also sends out condolences and love to the Colicchia family (Mark is OWT's drummer) for the loss of Mark C.'s brother Patrick, in a very sudden passing. OWT dedicated their weekend to Patrick, Mark and the family at Nietzsche's in Buffalo and Docksider's in Erie. Patrick was a regular attendee at our gigs and helped out with gear, a true sign of family! He will be sorely missed by all. One World Tribe plays on St. Patrick's Day in Jamestown, NY at the Greentree, and will be at Cataragus School in Buffalo for an in-school workshop at the end of the month.

3bop played some great gigs over the last month, starting with a three-night stint, followed by a performance at the Blasco Library for Valentine's Day, and a great night of hard bop at Scotty's. We followed up on the first Friday in March, digging deep and coming out with a high-intensity performance with our new "third" member, Preach Freedom of One World Tribe on congas and the occassional scat and jazz-vocal freestyle. 3bop is scheduled to play on April 8th along with Soul Clap, and is getting closer to dates with Umar Raheem and Greg Osby.

I freelanced some gigs, including a nice trio at Matthew's with Mike Ohm of J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm and Potato Battery, and Tito of Cat's A Bear. A Papermoon gig with pianist Basil Ronzitti and a Scotty's gig with AZQ (Allen Zurcher, Ed Hallahan and Matt Ferguson) rounded out the gigs for the month. Upcoming on the freelance schedule are Papermoon gigs and a solo gig at the Erie Club for members.

J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm spent three nights in Midtown Recording Studio, turning up the heat with an evening of overdubs and two nights of full ensemble playing. There was some deep playing, which always seems to happen in the dead of winter around here. With energy tucked deep in the body for the cold, drawing that energy to the surface tends to bring depth to the surface as well. Tony Stefanelli of Cat's A Bear and David Blaetz of Potato Battery played some dual bass one evening, with David on a new electronic upright that is basically (no pun intended) the neck and a post. You could almost play it like a guitar! Phil Papotnik of Cat's A Bear and Sheldon Peterson of Potato Battery joined the Hopkins family for the sessions. I look forward to more releases following the latest, Astral Worlds.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this I finished the music for Soul Saving: Common Threads of Kindness, and began the sequencing and recording process. J.P. Jamous, my computer tech, set up a new tower for me (Grandpa: R.I.P.) and within a day of putting the operating system on the drive, I was recording the music with Cubase. This technology is truly amazing. Even though there are more steps than there perhaps could be, the fact that a recording can be made from music entered into a score is amazing, more so because it can be made to sound human in performance. It also made a project possible - writing 25+ minutes of classical music and recording it in two and a half months - that might not have been without the current capabilities of home computer technology and a great tech (thanks, J.P.).

Somehow, word got around, and Vinnie Stefanelli found me and already recorded a project for a local radio station - a real fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants operation but successful, thankfully! We imported vocal audio, scaled the time to match drum machine time, and added virtual instruments to complete the first project in three and a half hours. Can't wait to actually know what I'm doing!

More projects are already in the works, and more gigs are on the horizon. So far, April looks calmer, but there is still time for things to fill in. I will hang on to that sense of calm as long as I can, probably right up to the point at which hyperspace starts drinking me in - again!

peace - f

NOTE: 3bop will NOT appear on March 18 at Scotty's, and Greg Osby will be rescheduled for another time.

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I'm told that the principle of opposites creates balance and harmony, and that the changes of the seasons are natural demonstrations of that principle. I have also heard it said that without the changes of seasons, so familiar to us here in the Northeastern Great Lakes Region of the United States, that I would miss those changes and think of them with fond memories. I have given this a great deal of consideration, yet as the wind howls and the thick, slippery snow gloms down upon us, sticking to everything like that rapidly expanding insulation foam they use on all the really up-to-date tool shows, I can only conclude that this is a load of beans.

The fact is, we have had a thankfully mild winter for the most part, especially at a time when home-heating costs are almost double what they were last year. Even so, we are still cautious here in the northern snowbelt, so we make a few plans as possible for travelling in these times, for ourselves and our fellow musicians who might come from out of town.

Thus, 3bop is doing more trio and local guest formats, getting to play with friends like saxophonist Dave Callagan and vocalist, percussionist and drummer Preach Freedom, as we did last weekend at Billy's-Avalon. Preach has been working hard on his swing drumming, and did a great job for us in the first set at Billy's, filling in for Brad Amidon, who was performing earlier with the Erie Philharmonic Orchestra. After Brad rejoined us, Preach also added his soulful vocal touch on some originals, standards and even some 3bop-style covers of Marvin Gaye tunes. Steve Trohoske and Brad burned up the last two sets, bringing our three-day stint to a successful conclusion. Joe Dorris of Cat's A Bear also joined us on Friday, adding some vocal touches of his own. Thanks, Joe!

3bop continues the month with gigs at Matthew's, Hirt Auditorium at Blasco Library and Scotty's. Please also note that while 3bop will still play Scotty's on March 18, Greg Osby has been postponed until later in the spring or summer (hmmmmm, wonder why?).

I play my regular Saturday with Basil Ronzitti on Saturday the 11th at the Papermoon, which is always a gas. We will be joined by Cat's A Bear's Tony Stefanelli for a night of controlled-for-dining chaos. After my Friday with 3bop at Scotty's, I return on Saturday with Allen Zurcher on sax, drummer Matt Ferguson (Potato Battery), and bassist Ed Hallahan for our first quartet gig with a new project; so new I'm not really sure what to call it yet! The music is freer and more spacious than some of my other projects, with more collective interaction and textural changes. It is very enjoyable to flex these chops with such great players, so I hope you'll come join us for our Scotty's debut.

Even One World Tribe is sticking closer to home for the winter months, with only one short trip to Buffalo to play Nietzsche's on the 24th of this month. This kicks off a Tribe weekend, with Nietzsche's on Friday, Erie's Docksider's on Saturday, and an early evening gig at Villa High School in Erie on Sunday. Another trip to Buffalo and one to Jamestown, N.Y., in March will see us through the worst of it!

J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm seem to find themselves cloistered away in the studio during the winter, and this year is no exception. We go in the week of the 13th, with three evening sessions planned. Of course, with spontaneous collective improvisation, all that is really planned is who is showing up on what night, and sometimes that's even an unknown. These are always challanging and adventurous jam sessions, for what could be better than spending time with great drummers, guitar players, bass players, keyboard players and sax players exploring this collectively improvised jazz fusion.

The last two J.D. and Sons releases, Astral Worlds and Moving Through the Elements, are part of a series of five double-disc CDs that are being prepared and released over time. The next CD release is beginning to stir, so I will keep you posted as details become available.

I am a bit more than half way through the composition part of the score for the film Soul Saving: Common Threads of Kindness. I am finding Coda: Finale to be indispensable in this project. Immediately hearing what you have written is powerful enough for a life-long composer from the ol' skool (pen, pencil and paper), but the MIDI implementation will save me ghastly amounts of time creating the music sequence and recording. By altering the playback file for dynamics, articulations and phrasing, you create the instructions in the MIDI file to reproduce those details when the data is exported into the sequence file.

This project did finally force the issue of the second tower for my system to run Cubase on. I will need to get something new, as Grandpa (original computer tower) is not up to the task of running XP with any stability. I will need to run Cubase to create the final music for the score, and that requires that I get the second tower, meeting the demands of my uses and the system requirements for the program.

As it turns out, Reason is a great sequencer with great sounds, but the program does not do tempo maps with changes like ritardandos and time-signature changes. What looks like will happen is that I will transfer the sequence into Reason from Finale and work the sounds to get things where I want them, and then record the sounds into Cubase on the other machine. Once in Cubase, I can apply the tempo map, possibly even importing it from Finale. That's why I need to get going - it's necessary for a classical-style piece with all the time and tempo changes throughout, and I don't have the luxury of figuring out a work-around, like playing the tracks live with no click-track.

As always, it's a learning experience, so I look forward to expanding my knowledge and producing a piece of music in the process. I hope to post the music in a number of forms over time, including the Finale score and the MIDI files from Finale.

All of this should keep me distracted enough to ignore the howling winds and whipping drifts outside my office window (qouth the Raven: shut the door!). We can only hope that the weather continues to be inconsistent and this all goes away as fast as it came in. For those of you local to Erie, I look forward to seeing you in these local settings, and for those of you out there in the traveled lands - look for us with the first blooming of spring, or when the budget is just too good to pass up.

Have a great year - see you there!

peace - f

NOTE: 3bop will NOT appear on March 18 at Scotty's, and Greg Osby will be rescheduled for another time. 

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 JANUARY 2006 

Well, we made it! The year 2006 is upon us, with much to look forward to, and much to look back over. Last year was a great year for jazz in the Northwestern Pennsylvania area, with visits from Lou Stellute , Tony Campbell, Claire Daly, Dwayne Dolphin, Christian Howes, Dave Schiavone, Cecil Ruckers and Eddie Baccus, Jr. (with Steve Trohoske's 3bop), Cheryl Hodge (with Cat's A Bear and Basil Ronzitti) and Valerie Gillespie (with Cat's A Bear, opening for Maynard Ferguson), and Dominick Farinacci and Carmen Intorre (with myself and Steve Trohoske as sidemen).

Erie also had performances from artists Kenny Blake, Stephen King, Joey DeFrancesco and Joe Lovano, who closed out the year with a great JazzErie-sponsored show at Porter's. In addition to being a great musician, Joe Lovano was friendly and personable, signing CD covers and telling some of us afterwards about the two-barreled saxophone he played for a few of the tunes. Very cool.

One World Tribe had a great year as well, playing out our first full year of PennPAT membership with trips to Lancaster, Baltimore, Atlanta, Niagara Falls, and Pittsburgh and Buffalo School Systems (performance presentations for districts). We also made our usual rounds, playing festivals in the summer and club dates throughout the year. The capper had to be opening for War in Baltimore, which was a fun show to play and then to see!

J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm saw four more double-disc CD releases, Crossing Oceans of Time, Beyond Attention, Moving Through The Elements and Astral Worlds, the latest release. The group played a few shows last year, with a good summer gig at Cootie Harris' Birthday Jam in Meadville. J.D. and Sons members branched out into two new groups, with Rickie Hopkins, Mike Ohm and Ralph Reitinger joining Swerve, and Jayson Hopkins, Joe Frisina and myself recording a soon-to-be-released CD with Frisina's Too Big Power. TBP played a rockin' show at Sherlock's in December, joined by bassist Kelly Smith, son of another J.D. veteran, Tim Smith, with myself on keyboards.

Looking forward to the coming year, 3bop has much on the horizon, including the re-scheduled Umar A. Raheem show snowed out in December (thanks again, Eddie Baccus, Jr., for filling in so well!). We begin our season at Scotty's on February 17th, and at Billy's the first weekend of February.

The Papermoon continues to show its unflinching support for jazz in Northwest PA, committing to guest artists throughout 2006. I return with Basil and Tony on the 14th, after filling in at Billy's for Jim Madden on Friday the 13th. I also appear with Basil at the Moon on February 11th, and most of the second and fourth Saturdays throughout the year.

One World Tribe returns to Erie on February 25, coming off of a gig at Nietzsche's in Buffalo on the 24th to play at Docksider's. We are looking forward to another great year of growth and exposure, including some school system residencies in the spring. Cat's A Bear continues to develop and record new material, and we hope to be in the clubs a bit more this year as well.

Some new projects are in the works, including a recording and gigging project with saxophonist Allen Zurcher, bassist Ed Hallahan and drummer Matt Ferguson, more recording with J.D. and the Sons of Rhythm, beginning in February at Midtown, and a writing project for a video release. The video release is called 'Soul Saving: Common Threads of Kindness', and tells the stories of Holocaust survivors who were recipients of seemingly small acts of kindness that were monumental and in many cases life saving. New York film maker Isaac Dostis enlisted my services for the music score, so a couple of months of writing and sequencing are just ahead! This is a powerful and thought-provoking video, and I am proud to be involved with it.

There are other things afoot for 2006, so stay tuned for future information. After a nice break with family and friends, we are all getting back to work to create more high quality music for the world.

Have a great year - see you there!

peace - f


NOTE: Although 3bop will still appear on March 18 at Scotty's, Greg Osby will be rescheduled for another time.

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