Thursday, April 29, 2010

94th Aero Squadron Sunset Concert

We did a Sunset Concert for the Children's Charity Coalition yesterday, they have meet & greets once a month at restaurants around San Diego. This is the 4th one we've done for them (I think???) and the first with a really good sunset, even though they're always called Sunset Concerts.

This was all a launch party for Jeff Perwin's San Diego Institute of the Arts, a non-profit organization that brings together students, performers, artists and photographers. It's partnering with the San Diego Institute for the Performing Arts and the San Diego Institute of Photographic Arts to make some amazing things happen.

Oh, and here's Montgomery Field, a small plane airport next to us. The restaurant is basically on their runway:

They have these ambulances all over the place in case you get sick-

This plane missed the runway!

We kicked off the meeting with some music, music, and more MUSIC.

Did something fall on Curly Max's guitar? What's the mystery here? And who is that guy behind the keyboards? Let's spy on them!

I wore my red and black striped shirt with my red and black striped tie. They match!

And - who IS that guy to the right?

It's ALEX! He's a great keyboardist - composer - basoon - bass player.
He wears really cool black leather jackets.

Lets listen to him play some ragtime:

"Hey Max, you ready?"

"Yeah, I'm ready. You ready?"


And the one thing we found out yesterday is that Curly Max definately looks the most like a real musician. We're going to give him the Golden Violin Award for Service Above and Beyond What's Actually Really Needed and Being Able to Put On Cufflinks in Less Than 20 Minutes.

Thanks to Jeff Perwin at the San Diego Children's Charity Coalition,
and his newly launched San Diego Institute of the Arts!

Contact them at:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the Varsity Strings Program

Varsity Strings is a community service music program we’ve created for our Interact Club in La Jolla California, USA.

We love playing music, and it works really well!

Start Your Own Varsity Strings Interact Program 

1. Play fun, upbeat music at retirement homes, community centers, hospitals, elementary schools or after-school programs. Talk to your audience during the performance, tell them about the songs and why you like to play them. Our Varsity Strings program has been invited back over and over to any place we’ve played at, these people really need us! You can make this a regular event, once a week or twice a month.

2. Play in a group at charity events. Do a variety-style show of solo and combined performances. Especially children’s charities often need music for their events or benefit dinners. We have been overcome with requests for these types of performances, we can’t keep up with them!

3. Produce a Varsity Strings music CD that can be sold at your events to benefit a charity.

4. Hold concerts to raise money for a specific target charity in your area. Christmas or Holiday shows do well. Sell inexpensive tickets. Serve food, drinks or snacks at these events to bring in revenue. Ask a performance space/theater to donate it for your performance. Invite benefited children or organizers of the charity to the concert for free, have them talk to the audience before the show. If you can’t find a worthy charity, donate to a hospital; hospitals never have enough money.

5. Get more of your school’s best musicians to join your Interact Club! They’re often the most talented and focused students in the school, and full of enthusiasm.

6. Ask local businesses to sponsor your Varsity Strings group with “matching funds” – for every dollar you make, they will donate a dollar as well to your target charity. They donate this directly to the charity for a tax write-off, and you can cap the contributions at a certain amount so they know how much is the maximum they’ll be paying. Take pictures of you handing over the check to the charity. Add the matching funds business website to your blog as a link to promote them.

7. Teach how to play your instrument to underprivileged children in your city. There are often programs that already do this, ask them if you can volunteer. We do this twice a month, and once a week in the summer.

8. Put your performances on YouTube with contact information about how charities can reach you to perform for them.

9. Ask a famous musician who lives in your area to perform at one of your events. They can turn you down - or turn up at your event!

10. Do impromptu community concerts in busy areas of your city, as “buskers” or street performers. Do this in front of a charity’s location to popularize and promote them. Hand out flyers for the charity. Ask local media/news programs to film you.

11. Keep track of all your service hours as a computer file which shows the date, who played, and for how long. That way, individual players can refer to it when submitting their community service hours. These can all be either groups of musicians or individual ones - we find that guitars, violins, cellos, piano and keyboards, and of course singers work best.

12. Create a blog, or add a posting to your Interact Club blog about Varsity Strings. Update the single posting to show your latest performances, with photos and YouTube videos of you playing. List your next events. Link it to your charity's website. We use musicians from Interact Clubs all over our city, not just from our own, and it’s great working with other Interact Clubs and keeping in touch on our blog - we’ve been invited to their events as well.

And – if you do a Varsity Strings-style event, we’ll publish it on our blog. Just send us the YouTube link or photos. We want to hear all about it!

Now -
Go Interactors!

Max MacMillan
La Jolla High School Interact Club
April, 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Busking at the Roots Festival

It's Max and Max! And now we're STREET PERFORMERS! (Curly Max's secret long-time aspiration) We made sixty-two dollars for Fresh Start!

This neat little shop was right in front of us, and I tried out mandolins and a ukulele bass. I'm saving up for a mandolin now, because I don't know anyone that plays one!

We start out the day by loading up the Cube (aka the BeatBox) with our axes of mass destruction.

Then we hit the back alleys on the way to our special little busking corner.

Finally, Curly Max in his natural habitat.

Busking means that we aren't getting paid for the gig. Curly Max: "We aren't getting paid?" Dark Max: "No, we get our money in tips. Like waiters. And teachers who are easy to bribe."

Make a donation and take your 'pick' of these handmade 45 rpm record picks!
One dollar each, please...

Dark Max takes a guitar solo that's way over everyone's head.

No folk/blues/hippie festival is complete without a burrito stand. Well, this is California.

Here's another interesting booth at the Roots Festival. This was typical.

Here's a joke. What goes "Oink," then gets burned?

Answer: Lunch!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Declan Auditions

I've been trying to track down the legendary Declan for almost a year now. He's the best drummer around, and I finally got him to come over to our garage to try playing for us.

Our May 1st gig at the KidsFest is all classic Rock N' Roll, so we really need a drummer. And he's gotta be good.

Real good.

Here's Declan:

That's right, he smoked us and broke a stick along the way.

If he wants to, HE'S IN.

Linda Vista Fair

This was a pretty BIG DAY. Nobody else could show up in the morning to play, so I had to take this one on solo.

Here's the first bunch of music CDs we made up for the San Diego Children's Charity Coalition as fundraisers:

Have to get the CDs to the booth. But first we have to get through this parade. Our booth is on the OTHER SIDE!
You know you're gonna have a good time when Ronald McDonald is the leader of the parade!

Here comes the Vietnamese Boy Scout Troop #1100. Look out for that Chinese Dragon -

Told you to look out! It's already eaten this guy! -

The drummers have it easy, riding in the truck. Looks fun.
But the dancers have to dance -

I got there and nobody was at the booth! It was pretty lonely in the morning -

...but it picked up later, and got busy right after lunch.

People liked me playing, asked a lot of questions and these people from the WIC/American Red Cross want us to play now at one of their functions.

Howard Wayne is running for City Council and we talked about politics for a while. I don't think he knows I'm too young to vote. He's a nice guy.

And then we ran into Billy Colestock from the just-founded -
- this guy was great, he's gonna hook us up with their people and I'll tell them about our Interact Club/Varsity Strings program. He's also the Program Director for the Citizen Diplomacy Council of San Diego. The folks from People To People International are also involved with the CDC, and I had a pretty amazing talk with them too:


Hope to see Billy real soon. Anyway, we got Busking tomorrow and my history homework isn't getting done, so see ya soon....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Take Your Pick

So we were busking at Folk Arts last week, and they had a bunch of chipped 45 records that they gave us for free. At home, I tried cracking them and they were pretty hard to snap. So I got out the AX and tried that and it worked real good. There were all these shards of records lying around and they kind of looked like record picks, so I tried carving them down with an electric sander ...

Hmmmm..... this is looking interesting...

and suddenly it LOOKED LIKE THIS -

And it played real good. So I made some more, these are pretty easy to make.

Here's one up close.

Like I said, works good.

So here's what I'm thinking. Since these cost $0.00 to make and they play great and people probably want them, we're gonna make 50 of them and give them away when we busk.
One donation = one pick.
Take your pick!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Busking at Folk Arts

We hit Adams Avenue today to Busk (play in the street for money) for Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. Curly Max has actually done this before in PB, and we made a little cash.
It was REALLY fun.

Curly Max's arrangement of Bossa Dorado;

We realized we needed to be more in the center of the action, and took it down to Folk Arts Rare Records. They let us play outside pretty much all day.

Gotta tune up.

Looks like it's been here since 1967, that's like 25 years before I was born.

Folk Arts is a kooky-kool place. He has things like this taped to the front of his shop:

This actually sounds interesting....

Here we GO! The classic Hesitation Blues, the first guitar song recorded electrically, so in theory the first electric guitar song ever! -

Red Line Blues, we made these up on the spot -

We call this Molasses River Blues;

All in all, we made 12 bucks. It ain't much but we had a great day!
See ya kids!