Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Memorial Day Set for LizFest 2010

LizFest is an All-day Garden Benefit Concert for the Elizabeth Weedmark Memorial Fund, held over Memorial Day Weekend to raise funds for the School of Creative and Performing Arts and instruments for the San Diego Children's School. Grammy winner Lori Bell, jazz players Jamie, Chuck Perrin and Carla Bizzet and a lot of other pros all showed up. We were asked to do a set for them, thanks to Nathan and Anita Weedmark for inviting us! This was the quickest thrown together session we've ever done, but the Nikbeats (in their regular street clothes) pulled through.

Valentine sang a quick version of Summertime, with a real tasty acoustic jazzy-bluesy solo by Curly Max -

Our opening number was the good old reliable Bossa Dorado with Max & Max, and those audience toes started tapping real good...

I practiced this all day, have never played Bron-Y-Aur Stomp before in front of any audience. They seemed to like it...

Valentine played two of her newest songs, these were giant hits with the audience, they kept asking her about how she wrote them, where she went to school, if she has a CD they can buy, if she could sign their posters,
she was...

The audience wanted another one, so after more questions she let them have it with this, and I think this is exactly the way a big black grand piano should be played:

Thanks again to Nathan And Anita!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A.R.T.S. Guitar Class And It's $5 Burger Night at the Corvette Diner

The A.R.T.S. Guitar Classes that Varsity Strings started back in January are getting bigger every week! Andy is doing a great job with the kids and right now we're learning to transition between some basic chords, so we can finally start playing some songs. Yay!

Mr. Smile E. Face -

A lesson about tuning: "Tuning a guitar is like tuning a piano; you can tune a guitar but you can't tunafish. Wait... what?"

This is our pal Mario. He's also a student teacher. I mean the guy with the guitar and black hair, not the Mario on Smiley's beanie.

This room is the epitome of chill! Instruments in every cranny, big leather couches, and two big posters of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead in one corner.

The guitar is bigger than she is!

Danny Riley is the guy the whole music room is dedicated to - this photo looks like it was taken in the acoustic room at 'The Blue Guitar' shop -

As soon as Andy's supervising eyes left the room, I jumped at the chance to teach the kids how to play the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil." Quote of the day: "That song sounds very holy!"

"Any more questions about theory? Yes, Billy? Yeah, Billy, I'll get your pick out from the inside of your guitar."

On our break I found this really really old record. It's not even called a record, its called a "Re-Creation", which turned into the name "Re-cording" or "Record" later. I looked these up on the internet and they were made by Edison around 1914-1918? No, I'm not making this up!

It's about 1/4" thick -

This would make a great t-shirt!

Finally its time for $5 BURGER NIGHT at the CORVETTE DINER, right down the street!

Gotta go, there's more burgers to be chomped.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Voices For Children - Night of the Nikbeats

We did a Nikbeat Classic Jazz set at Voices For Children, that actually made us $48 for for our charity Fresh Start, which is exactly $48 more than what we expected to make this night! Most of the money was donated by the audience after we nailed Miles Davis's "All Blues" and Valentine sang a hauntingly beautiful rendition of "Summertime." With an added spotlight solo of Curly Max's.

Somebody looks a little fed up with Dark Max's "camera-friendly" personality!

"Alright, you wannna-be jazzers. Let's give these guys a first-class ticket to Strayhorn's A-Train".

Here's our appetizer: a bossa-laden acoustic set boiling with bongos, spiced up with some snazzy snare work, marinated in jazzitude, and flamed to a crisp with red-hot finger-blistering licks. And if that don't sound hip enough for ya, there's a McDonald's down the corner, square.

Unfortunately for her piano fans, all Valentine wants to do now is DRUM.
She's actually pretty good! We're gonna keep working with her until she can pull off the intro for Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher."

Thanks to Susan and Megan at Voices For Children for a great night! These folks are really hard working, good people who run San Diego's biggest organization devoted to legally representing abused, neglected and abandoned children. They make sure these kids will have a safe and permanent home. We really loved helping them and played one of the best nights we've had all year, they really appreciated our music and Valentine singing. We'd love to do ANY event they throw at us!

Here they are at ...   

WOW! How Coolsville is this?
I can't believe we actually got certificates for playing jazz!

"Certificate of Appreciation for Contributions To Playing Jazz in a Way That Doesn't Annoy the Audience or Make Dogs Howl or Babies Scream, at Least During the Acoustic Set." Signed and dated.

So there.

After everybody went home, here's the very last song we did. This is the dreaded Midnight Set.

Bye! Thanks for Looking!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

the Nikbeats... are here.

Meet the Nikbeats!

First practice jam session - Valentine DRUMS!

More session work -

and more -


My only friends!

Ready for the big night, we got our threads and Wes and Miles said they might make it too, maybe we'll let them sit in on a jam if they buy us an espresso.

Friday, May 14, 2010

What's a Nikbeat Look Like?

Either groove with the Nikbeats or hit up the next train to Squaresville, Daddy-O.

Dig it, dad?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Where are the Nikbeats?!

A Nikbeat isn't ever square.
A Nikbeat has very long hair.

A Nikbeat doesn't wear silk ties.
A Nikbeat never brags or lies.

If you find one in your house,
She probably will be reading Proust.

If you find one in your kitchen,
He probably will be cooking pidgeon.

If you find some in the street,
Watch out for their size 12 feet.

So look around, stop and stare,
Cause Nikbeats could be ANYWHERE!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Nikbeats are Coming

Who, or WHAT are the Nikbeats?....


what are they doing on OUR BLOG??!!?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

KidsFest 2010

KidsFest is a giant two day celebration of children that wraps up all of San Diego's Children's Week celebrations. It's a big bash they hold for non-profit children's charities and businesses that specialize in activities for kids. A huge thanks to Tina Platt, who asked us to both open the festival at 10am and headline it at noon with two super-fun music sets.

Varsity Strings' singer/songwriter James is going to do an acoustic set to open the festival, first thing in the morning. Here he is doing a sound check -

I don't think our neighbors liked this, we don't usually play Jimi Hendrix at 8:00am on a Saturday - we start practicing with Red House before Declan arrives. Hey, Curly Max can play drums! He didn't tell me!

Meanwhie, back at KidsFest, James is doing a set of his own songs -

Then Declan shows up for morning practice and the Garage Band really gets loud. This is the last practice before we run to the festival for our set -

The Cheer Squad from Madison High shows up!

By now James is out enjoying the festival, no worries for the rest of the day -

And we're ready. With a brief, accurate introduction from the announcer, ("this is Varsity Strings; they're all hams) we kick off a fire breathing set, starting with Johnny B. Goode! I (Dark Max) get to have the honor of playing the first guitar solo of the day!

And - here's our Song List:
Johnny B. Goode
Paint It Black
Bossa Dorado
Sweet Home Alabama
Always On The Run
Cissy Strut
Red River Blues
Communication Breakdown
Batman Wipes Out

I think we finally painted that door and that line of cars black.
(You're welcome, Mick.)

Wireless amps are fun! A ham I am. With the right tools, you can make any audience member feel awkward and uncomfortable!

Okay, this is just nuts. Watch it.

The dream is realized. Playing Zep's Communication Breakdown for a more than a thousand people. I think we're all having lots of fun right now!

And of course, this is a Kids Fest, so we had to teach the kids about who's who in the world, right?

With a name like "Batman Wipes Out," you know that this is going to have a healthy dosage of devastating Declan drum solos, cool Curly Max basslines, and devilish guitar abuse by Dark Max.

Once again, we're all hams.

Channel 9 News got to Point Loma on the double when they heard about Varsity Strings's performance!

"And if we're lucky, folks,  we might catch 'Dangerous Digits'  Declan for a rare interview, so keep your fingers crossed!"

There was a pond with millions of plastic ducks at the kids fest. What else is there to say?

Sound check at 9:00am - This is the best sound man in San Diego.

James arrives at the main gate -

And has time for a few photos -

There are those dang ducks again!

Actually, this looks pretty fun! Does 17 years old count as a kid?

Declan and his loyal roadies set up as fast as possible -

"Well, Dark Max, we've made it to the big time."
"Wanna get a burrito afterwards? I'm hungry."
" ... "

AAA! A Drill Sergeant is here to make us do push-ups and... oh, wait, it's just Declan. Phew!

For the second time in a row, Curly Max gets Golden Violin Special Diamond Edition Award for Looking the Most Like A Rock Musician and Having Jeans That Are Genuinely Ripped, Not Those Expensive Ones You Buy That Are Fake-Ripped.

Tune in for the next exciting performance of
Varsity Strings!

Thanks again to Tina Platt at KidsFest!