I was a Teenage Band Geek

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

I remember sitting with a music teacher talking about instruments when I was in 5th grade, I vaguely remember holding a clarinet but I ended up playing the flute because my cousin Audry had one she no longer played, and that is what my parents could afford. The first tune I ever played was Hot Cross Buns, my mom says I practiced it all the time, I don’t remember that. I do remember practicing my flute sitting on my bedroom floor, legs crossed, and music on the floor. Perhaps the fact that practicing my flute was fun, not like homework, is why I don’t remember how much i did it.

A few weeks prior to starting my Freshman year at Azusa High School, marching band rehearsal started. I don’t remember being bothered that band cut my summer vacation short. My very first performance with the Azusa Aztec Marching Band was marching onto the field of Angel Stadium in Anaheim to open a Dodger game with the Star Spangled Banner. I was hooked!

The Azusa Aztec Marching Band was good, we won many awards. I had to memorize all my marching music, I still remember what our competition marches were. My Freshman year it was was Army of the Nile, the first march I memorized and as I type this I can her it in my head. French National Defile March my Sophomore year, “today-today-today, not tomorrow-tomorrow-tomorrow”. And The Southerner my Junior Year, (I might have my Junior and Sophomore years mixed up). We played the Southerner March in the community band a few years ago, it was fun playing one of our old marches. Except my 50+ year old eyes and the tiny little notes on that 6 3/3 x 5 piece of paper, I had to enlarge my copy so I could read it.



Azusa High School Marching Band plays “King Karl King”, by Henry Fillmore in SCSBOA parade competition. The recording is from a reel to reel tape converted over the years to cassette then CD then mp3. The performance is from November, 1973 and the photo is of the band that season.

 

Concert band was 5th period and marching band was 7th period (after school), we practiced halftime shows and did drill downs, but mostly did a lot of marching up and down Rockvale Avenue. Our rows, files, and diagonals had to be perfect, and my flute had to be parallel to the ground. A typical fall weekend would consist of a Friday night pep band at the football game, followed by T-Ping houses (for luck), then a Saturday morning marching band review. There was that infamous TP job of 1976… But that’s another story.

Because we were a competition marching band the uniforms had to be perfect. We had white shoes with white bottoms. We had to scrub the bottoms of our shoes with Comet to get them white before every parade, only to step in horse poo during the a parade, (I hated parades with horses!) The uniforms were hot and sweaty wool, with tall white fuzzy hats. The hats looked like a Q-tip and all our hair had to be tucked underneath, band moms would walk around as we were warming up and tuck pose strands in with a Rattail Comb and the spray with Aquanet.

Traveling to the band reviews was a blast, we got up early Saturday morning, loaded our gear, put on our uniforms, and bused to places like National City, Long Beach, Arcaida, and many more. During the parade we performed our best, and after we finished the parade we loaded back on our bus and changed into street cloths. Under our wool uniforms we wore socks, underwear, (girls wore a bra), and a cut off white tee, that was it. After the parade our cut off tee was usually soaked with sweat. We all changed on the bus together, boys and girls, ad took our sweaty tee shirt off. It wasn’t weird though. Our underwear showed no more than a bathing suit, and we were excited to get the the activities and the awards ceremony.

The Maytime Band Review in National City was our yearly overnighter. Each year the “prank” was everyone flushing their toilet at the same time to “flood” the bottom floor. It was funny until I got the bottom floor. No flood. Hmmmm.

Sometimes before the awards we had some free time to watch the other bands or do activities. At the All Western Band Review in Long Beach we were able to visit the Pike. I remember riding a big Ferris Wheel, it was dark and we could see the Queen Mary all lit up in the harbor. I rode that old Cyclone roller coaster too, It closed a couple years later. That same year they found a corpse inside a wax dummy in the “Laff in the Dark” ride while filming an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man. Thankfully I did not ride that one. For the award ceremonies all the marching bands piled into the Long Beach Arena and waited to hear if we won and award, Azusa often did, there was a lot of cheering and screaming at the top of our lungs.



Not all of the parades were band reviews, and those had horses. We would do a parade at Disney Land every year, the Azusa Golden Days Parade, and I think there was one or two others. If there was a pile of horse poo in the road we had to stay in rank and file and step in it. Did I say I hated parades with horses?

Back lot of Disney Land

When marching we had to remain focused on staying in form and on the music, looking around was not allowed. Faces forward. At one of our Disney trips my Grandma and Aunts happened to be there and were yelling a big hello to me, I didn’t look. The band was loud, I don’t remember hearing them either. She later told my parents how I ignored them. I always thought that was funny.

At the end of my Junior year my Dad got a job for Inyo County and we moved to Bishop, California. I liked our new life but missed the competition from the band reviews. Bishop’s band was different and focused on the concert band. No band reviews and only one or two non competition parades a year. We did take week long a trip to Simi Valley for a concert band competition and tour the Hearst Castle.

Bishop marching band did a drill down while rehearsing for an upcoming parade.There was one other member of the Bishop band who moved from a large school, He and I were the last two standing. A drill down is basically a competition within a band to follow the drum majors exact commands. If you fail to accuracy perform the command you fall out of line and stand on the side at attention. Last member standing wins. I don’t remember who won but I never got to the final 2 in Azusa!

Being in High School Band holds some of my best memories from high school. Yup, I was a band geek.



Mesquite Smoked Salsa Verde

Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Our Local Albertsons has a really great produce department, even for Wyoming. To be fair, the other grocery stores have good produce too, it’s convince items that I like. Pre packaged and/or prepped produce, costing a couple dollars more but my time is worth it. This year they added a new item, prepackaged do-it-yourself salsa verde, with instructions! I was a little nervous about FOUR habaneros but it sounded good so I thought I’d give it a try.

In short, the instruction said to blister at 350 on a grill or oven, about 3-5 minutes, de-seed, and put in a blender, salt to taste. When working with peppers, most recipes do not want the peppers cooked, just blistered so the skin can be removed. This recipe uses the skin, I followed the instructions.

My blender was a 30+ year old low tech blender that could not even make a decent frozen drink, (but that’s another story). I did not want to hassle with it so i put the peppers in my manual food processor, it came out like chunky salsa, but I was happy with the consistency but I think it did not work for this kind of salsa. I gave it a taste… HOLY HOT PEPPER BATMAN! The flavor was there but the heat was through the roof. I could not eat it, it overpowered whatever I put it on.

I looked out the back door at our new Treager Smoker Grill and a lightbulb went off… Cooking the peppers mellows the heat, and adding smoke just sounded yummy. Once we cooked a few meals on the Treager and got the hang of using unit, I tried again. But first I purchased a Ninja Blender, and it lives up to all the hype. It makes awesome frozen drinks, and for this recipe it worked perfectly.




I smoked and grilled the peppers and tomatillos per my recipe below. When I took the lid off the blender, WOW, the aroma blew me away, literally. I had to stand back, the heat from the peppers filled the air. I was a little nervous, I gave it a taste, the flavor was there, it still had heat, but the bite from the heat was gone. It did need salt and I have a variety of salts in my pantry. I smelled my concoction, then smelled the garlic salt, not a fit. I did this with my different salts and the Himalayan sea salt was the best fit. I added the salt to the blender and gave it a few pulses. Winnner winner chicken dinner! The salsa came out perfect, just the right amount of heat, the Himalayan sea salt added a great note of flavor, and the salsa was oddly addictive. So, I thought I better write down the recipe so I can repeat the flavor.

Mesquite Smoked Salsa Verde

Mesquite pellets for the smoker
4 – Tomatillos
2 – Anaheim Chili Peppers
4 – Habanero Chili Peppers
2 – Jalapeño Peppers
3 – Santa Fe Grande Peppers
3 – Serrano peppers
Pink Himalayan sea salt to taste

Wash the peppers.

Remove the husks and stems from the tomatillos, clean, and cut in half.

Bring the Treager to smoking temperature (160º) using the mesquite pellets.

Smoke the peppers and tomatillos for five minutes then turn up the heat to 350º, leaving the lid closed until you turn the peppers. When the temperature reaches 350 cook for an additional 5 minutes, turning the peppers when they start making a popping sound.

If your smoker does not have a temperate gauge, the popping started about the same time the smoker reached 350º.

You want the peppers cooked, with some marks, but not charred.

Take the peppers off the smoker and let them cool for a few minutes. Remove the stems and seeds from all the peppers, and cut the larger peppers in half.

Put all the cooked peppers and tomatillos in a blender and purée. Taste the salsa verde and add the Himalayan sea salt to taste, I used about a teaspoon.

Enjoy!

If you make this with a different wood pellet than the mesquite please comment below and let me know how it turned out.



Confessions of a Band Geek

Monday, July 16th, 2018

To make money blogging, one must blog… at least once a week. Bloggers make money by placing adds on their sites and getting page views (about a penny every 100 views), clicks, and in some cases sales. I have 3 main blogs, I’m developing an on line music library program, manage three business websites and one for a non profit, I’m a musician, I’m on the board of a non profit, and have 2 paid jobs outside my home. Then there is the weekend actives and summer visitors common to life in a resort town. So, as you can imagine, three blogs a week is nearly impossible.

My husband and I like to “glamp” on the weekends. We have this rolling piece of home we take to the river and get away from the rat race. I bring my iPad Pro and do a little typing for my blogs over coffee in the mornings. I don’t have internet access by the river so while home I set up blog drafts while on my big computer, copy them to a document on iCloud, and then download them on my device. The subject for this weekend was “I’ve gone to the Dark Side”, it was supposed to be about using my iPad to read music.

I started with a little background about my musical path to get where I am today. I try to keep my blogs under 1000 words, around 600 is best. I don’t want to lose my readers. Holy cow! I got off on all these tangents and before I knew it I was over 1700 words, and still had not gotten to my point. I sat back and gave it a re-look. I had several sub stores, so instead of calling it a fail, I decided to break it apart.

When I got home and a fresh brain I made a list, and set up my drafts dividing it up into separate blogs. I have 6 drafts! Most of which is already written, I just need to edit to read like a individual blog, not part of another. SIX! DANG! I’m a band geek! Who knew? So coming up with a name for my series was not all that hard. I quickly came up with it to 3 choices, Memoirs of a Band Geek, The Band Geek Chronicles, and Confessions of a Band Geek.

I hope you enjoy my series “Confessions of a Band Geek”. Subscribe to my blog for notices when I post a new blog.

411 words… 412 …




Confessions of a Band Geek