Friday, December 18, 2009

The Carousel Lounge: December 17, 2009

The Carousel Lounge stunned us as we loaded in. Pleasantly. The stage area was clutter-free, neat and all the power outlets worked the way you think power outlets are supposed to work, without having to hunt along yards and yards of cable to discover: no outlet. Yes, it's still dark and murky at the back of the club (in deference to the plastic elephant, I suppose), but the ceiling-height Christmas tree worked fine as a source of illumination.

Usually there's a happy hour act, or at least there's been one in the past, but not last night. So in went Andy's drums, and the rest of the stuff, and we set up at our leisure. The regulars at the bar (big, old pick-up truck = barfly mode-of-transportation of choice) are the nicest in town, nodding hellos and politely holding doors open as we lugged in the gear.

The set went well, too. Nothing like playing a tight, 45 minutes worth of music to a rather large and appreciative crowd (special hellos to Andrew S., my parents, Katie L. and Shawn P. (go, Street Team!), Shane's friends and Scottie's entourage). Patrick did the set list (see below) and it worked really well, not least when I broke a string on the Rickenbacker and, thankfully, only had two songs left, both of which are acoustic guitar-friendly. (Thank you, String Gods.) The snappage occurred at the end of Everybody's Going Away, but I'd planned on swapping to the Gibson for the following Jam tune, anyway, lucky me. Sorta.

Oh, that tune: That's Entertainment. I think this is the second time in three gigs where I've completely lost touch with the words of the song. It's like having an out of body experience during an out of body experience. I praised "the smartest band in Austin" afterward, as the other four managed to keep going through what turned out to be an extra, lyric-less verse and several verses of word/synapse misfires and some sung gobbledegook as cover for my blanking on what I was supposed to be singing! I know why I went up, too. Mea culpa...Hank Schwemmer, a long-time fan of the band wandered in during the song, and I am always happy to see him in the audience. Not so brilliantly, I thought about looking for a way to incorporate his name into the song and, of course, as soon as I thought that, I forgot where I was (the first time) and gargled my way through a line or two before I recovered. The song's not hard, it just has a lot of words and it's imperative that I think about the first line of each subsequent verse in order to stay on track. Sure enough, as we entered the final verses, I reminded myself to pay attention and not lose focus as I'd done when Hank walked in and, bam! I went up again. This time it lasted for that extra verse...good thing the song only has verses and choruses. Its lack of complexity (easy for me to say) means we can survive an empty round (uh, or two!). At least I got the outro right and we finished nice and tight.

I dug Place:Away, too. We've set it up now to cut Scottie loose on lead guitar and, seeing as he had friends in the crowd, he really cut it up even better than usual. Makes for a grand finale, that song. Andy put in a stop in the final verse that we'd rehearsed and rejected, but Patrick kept playing bass through it. Shane, Andy and I were talking about it afterward. Total silence hadn't worked in rehearsal the night before because it killed the song's momentum. But with Patrick carrying on as the only accompaniment to my singing, the song's climax felt really punchy. We'll have to recreate that in the rehearsal room to see if it's worth keeping or if our satisfaction last night was just "performance-enhanced."

Kudos, too, to Shane on Windsor Road and Big Girls, where he's adding riffs and runs and more and more color. Now we'll take a couple weeks off and then back at it. New songs to learn and some more to clean up. Feels good.

Oh, and my mom snapped some shots from her front seat cabaret table. You can review the evidence here.


Set List
Weight of the World
Windsor Road
The Long, The Short And The Tall
Waterloo Sunset (Kinks)
Wigan Pier
Like Big Girls Do
Town Called Malice (The Jam)
Twisty System
Everybody's Going Away
That's Entertainment (The Jam)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Robi's rehearsal notes from 12/10/2009*

Rocked through tonight's 45-minute set for the Carousel, and it went rather smoothly. Uh, too smoothly? This, of course, disturbs if only because you want there to be some kinks in the works so you go into the gig feeling as if you still have work to do. No coasting! As they say in the theatre, "Bad dress rehearsal, good opening." On the other hand, it feels good to crank out a dozen or more tunes as fluidly as we did.

Of course two things diminish my concerns. 1. Patrick suggested that we probably didn't sound as good as thought we did. Oh, thanks, man! 2. He's right. Or rather, I think everyone knows he can do better (I speak grammatically; I'm not pointing out any flaws in Patrick's playing!). We all can always do better. That's what I love about making the music. Especially in the (dim) crucible of a live show. Speaking for myself, I know I'm not going into tonight's gig hugely overconfident. Uh, or overconfident at all. There are always way too many variables for that! Makes it exciting. Keeps ya young. But given the sounds last night, I'm looking forward to a good night of music. Let's say I'm confident and leave it at that.

After tweaks to a couple of songs in the set, we picked up Haymarket Rain and started some reworking. I swapped to rhythm guitar (acoustic) and Scottie picked up the lead. We slowed it down a little. I don't know. It's not done, so it's too soon to tell if it's any better than the "express" version of old (it's not the "local" version we've done when sans drums, that's for sure). Patrick suggested it was somewhere in between. Which is where I get uncomfortable. The last thing I want to do is smooth it out so much it's just all soft underbelly and no spiky dangerous bits. It needs teeth. Spines. It is, as my wife Michelle pointed out, a song about teen angst, after all.

Plus I realized in my insomnia last night that one of the things I like about the higher-energy version is that it recalls the sound and energy of a train clackety-clacking down the tracks; the fast train to heartache. Or it should! Maybe that's a clue to the rhythm shift we're searching for: Something driving, energetic (I like to say, "crisp") but not as out of control as before. It's early days on this one: That train's only just leaving the station!


*A note about these rehearsal notes. In an effort to expand my writing for this blog, I'm going to post about rehearsals, recording sessions, gigs and anything else in the quotidian life of the band. Those interested in the deep dive, dive on in!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Long, The Short And The Tall

Robi: I wrote this one back in the days of Lower Wacker Drive, my Boston band, so it's one of the first songs I ever wrote. Date? eh...probably 1986. The Reagan years, when everyone wanted to look good in fatigues. We're all going on a summer holiday: in Grenada! If you're a Brit: oh, those summers in paradise, Las Malvinas!

In my little tune (a waltz; gentlemen, grab your ladies), the too easily tarnished shine of soldierdom provides the grist for this gritty tale of a young man who enlists, finds the perfect girl over a cheap drink, then gets shipped off to foreign climes and an untimely end, leaving her bereft at home. A sadly familiar story in these days of perpetual conflict.

The title came from a play I read in high school, a cliche-ridden yet intensely moving piece about a motley collection of British soldiers under siege in the steaming Burmese jungle. It didn't end well for them, either.

This recording is from our Saxon Pub gig, 7/12/2009.

Can't find the music? Ah! Sign up for our mailing list and you'll receive links to these hidden gems! Click here and make sure you don't miss a trick.

The Long, The Short And The Tall

Down on your luck or down and out
It gets so easy to say:
"I'll take the benefit of the doubt,"
And sign myself away

The uniform looks good on me
I walk to watch hips sway
And a dollar a drink and some mighty cheap talk
Is enough to make her stay

I don't want to go home
I just want to stay here all night
The animals moan or hide in the shadows
And everyone's afraid of the moonlight

Making a life out of making men dead
It impressed her so much she'd make me she said
But we lie to ourselves when we lie on the bed
Is that war game you play all in your head?

I don't want to go home
I just want to stay here all night
We're up with the sun to fly to the shadows
Where everyone's afraid of the moonlight

My face pressed to the glass of a greasy bus window
It runs on blood and gas and jokes about who'll go (first)

First off the bus, first in the ditch
We're pigs in the mud, a rifle's our bitch
And the sergeant's so cool but the heat makes me itch
And everything's too smooth, when it just takes a touch

I don't want to go home
I just want to stay here all night
I can't remember her face anymore
I can't find the letters she writes

A woman pressed to the glass watches the planes fly away
It's here and then it's past and I canĂ­t bear to see her wave

It's a "Come on, my boys!" to the top of the hill
We're rabbits with rifles we're pigs to the swill
And the first sign of life is the first sign to kill
And if you get dirty they'll send you the bill

I don't want to go home
I just want to stay here all night
The animals moan or hide in the shadows
And everyone's afraid of the moonlight

I don't want to go home
I just want to stay here all night
The animals moan or hide in the shadows
And everyone's afraid of the moonlight

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It Never Rains But It Pours

Trying to outwit Mother Nature through old architecture, an elk and a break in the weather

Whenever The Late Joys are asked to perform at a party, a function, a fete or some other gathering of a celebratory nature, we say, "Yes! We'll be there!" And we mean it.

Lately, however, a run of bad luck -- or bad weather -- has meant that large gatherings to which we've been booked have been canceled. To whit: Last May the Oak Hill Youth Sports Association asked if we'd play the spring BBQ "Yes!" we exulted, "We'll be there!" Alas, that day a front steamed through the region. And by "steamed" I mean the way a steamroller might steam: lethargic, leaden, chugging along with no inclination beyond its own inclemency. In short, it started raining in the wee hours and didn't let up until late in the afternoon. The sodden day meant our gig was a wash out. Sod it!

Roll the clouds jauntily forward to October. Having survived a blistering summer, suddenly the fall offered more sopping than sunshine. Sure enough, having been booked for the fall BBQ for our area soccer club (to which we said, "Yes! We'll be there!"), we awoke to another day of stagnant action in the heavens, which shed their tears on our endeavors and washed out yet another gig.

A pattern, tropical, was starting to emerge. Perhaps a change in name to accommodate the shifting weather patterns that kept us at bay? The Wet Joys? No, we persevered: Better "Late" than...well, you know...and we accepted an invitation to perform for a large party for friends in another as-yet-untried venue. The forecast? Rain. And lots of it.

But last night we had the better of our most savage, saturate critic, Mother Nature, who again rained her negative review all over Central Texas yet couldn't dampen our spirits. No, this time the party to which we celebratorily declared "Yes! We'll be there!" was held indoors. Don't say we can't learn from our mistakes! The event took place at the Elks Lodge (hence that animal head tacked to the top of this tale; it's the first (and last) thing you see coming (and going) from the lodge). It's a fine old spot, with a shallow stage and picture windows that look out over downtown Austin, featuring a precipitous drop to the shimmering pool below that induces vertigo until you realize it's the pool that's shimmering, not the floor.

And a rare old time we had. Oddly enough the Oak Hill Sports liaison who had booked us for what turned out to be that May day mayday was present at the fete. I hope he liked what he heard!

Below: Though you can't see it, it was one wet night out there. Those little lights out the window, behind Robi's Ric and rig? Though you can't see it, it's downtown Austin's high-falutin' new skyline.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Say Fear Is A Man's Best Friend

Robi welcomes the pre-performance butterflies

I remember when I'd get butterflies before playing soccer games as a kid. I also used to get them as an adult: Yup, I'd get nerves before kicking off with my local men's Sunday league club, Havoc. Usually the butters flew in as I wondered how I'd last the first five minutes of the game. But once those five minutes had passed, I'd feel stronger and stronger. Dispelling the butterflies helped me to focus and (hopefully) play better. Now, sadly, I don't get butterflies before games, a sign that I've caught up to the freight train of life as it chugs towards some terminus best left undetermined.

But the nerves: I think they came down to wanting to do well, to prove myself, to be there for my teammates. Face it, I didn't want to let down the side by playing badly! I looked forward to the butterflies. That extra energy, unnerving, unfocused, when finally harnessed, sharpened the senses and filled me with exuberance -- how fun to be alive!

The same thing goes for my music. I'm quite comfortable getting up in front of people who've come to listen to the band. It's a blast to perform. And I don't feel nervous about the possibility of messing up when I play with the band -- we're all there for each other and that big sound hides lots of little faults. It's a team effort and it works well. But up on stage alone, when there's nowhere to hide, no other musicians to lean on, I get butterflies. Mostly I think it's because I don't want to perform the songs badly, because I wrote them and I want people to like what I wrote (it's a short hop from liking what I wrote to liking me, isn't it? and we all want to be liked, if not loved, right?). It's a horrifying thought I could do some disservice to my own material and have people walk away unsatisfied! That makes me nervous. Which is a good thing.

So the last couple of weeks I have had the satisfying frightening pleasure of performing solo at Momo's. Driving to those gigs I've felt all those old soccer/soloist butterflies alight. This past Tuesday, I played to dark, cold empty room (yes, even when no one's there, ya still gotta perform as if your life depended on it). So I pulled a cafe chair to the microphone, sat down, tuned up and launched into a solo set. And, having confronted my nerves, I gotta say, it sounded pretty good! Felt good, too. When a pair of friends arrived for a drink and a listen, it was even better. Nothing beats interacting with folks you know while you share your music.

I love chasing a soccer ball and that is enough to keep me feeling spontaneous and alive when I play, even when I don't get the butterflies (though I still look for them as I drive to each Sunday's game). Musically, I reckon nerves help me to focus, to will myself to get it right. And then to dispel those butterflies, let myself go and have a good time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Late Joys (Nov.) Newsletter

Who ya gonna call?
October 29, 2009

Hi, everyone!

You may not be afraid of no ghosts, and, uh, neither are we...ahem...but seeing as we're about to pass from All Hallow's Eve through the Day of the Dead (a two-day affair -- what's with the dead getting to double...uh...down on their "day" anyway?), we're about as joyful as you can be that the days are shorter and nights longer and we're heading for November. And why not: four happy hour gigs at Momo's, some under-the-radar events, new tunes and, on the horizon, a first gig at Cedar Street: our joy meter is doin' the monster mash!

The Late Joys
Andy, Patrick, Shane, Scottie and Robi

Check out the sound and the purple people eaters of The Late Joys.



Tuesdays in November, 5pm-6:45pm
Momo's Happy Hour
618 W. 6th Street, 78701
No cover
All-ages show
Catch us in a variety of lineups -- from full-bore band to acoustic bandlet -- as we return for the happiest of hours at Momo's all month long! Read more below.

Friday, November 20
Private party!

Monday, January 11
Cedar Street Courtyard
208 W. 4th Street, 78701
Lookin' forward to a big gig in the heart of the warehouse district! (Happy Birthday, Denise O!)



With four Tuesdays to play with we're showing a little flexibility with our lineups (seeing as not all of us are available for all four gigs!). Please peruse the following menu and choose as many dishes as you like:

Tuesday, November 3: Songs You Ain't Never Heard Before*
Robi plays acoustic tunes that the band either hasn't performed in years or has never done, including the Wigan Pier Suite (or, in this case, maybe "suet" is the more apt word). *Disclaimer: You may have heard some of these songs before.

Tuesday, November 10: The Late Joys play all-out rock AND roll in our full lineup. Might even debut a new song or two...hint...

Tuesday, November 17: Songs You Ain't Never Heard Before II*
Robi's back for more acoustic strumming and warbling, swapping out some of those old tunes for still older ones. *Disclaimer: If you dropped in on 11/3, you may be disappointed at the novelty aspect of the proceedings. On the other hand, Scottie should be strumming along this time!

Tuesday, November 24: Another full lineup outing for the Late Joys. Technically our last gig of 2009, but you never know...



Download our tunes via this way-cool site in all sorts of familiar and unfamiliar formats!

Get your free Late Joys music here.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Late Joys Poll: Who's Your Favorite Team?

Do you follow the fall pigskin follies (pearls before swine)? Or are you an aficionado of o jogo bonito (not to be confused with a singer for U2)? Both games are enjoyed by 11 men (or women) and one ball. We're told the ball quite likes the attention. Who do you like?

We know, for instance that one Late Joy fancies himself a bit of Glasgow's blue team; another supports the Reds of Liverpool...

Let us know the name of your favorite team and we'll put in a good word for your gridiron egg tossers or Beckhamesque ball bashers at our next gig!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

How can a new act stand out from the crowd?

From the Guardian Music blog. Not exactly encouraging reading. Except for the concept of focusing on your actual friends and fans. Not trolling for numbers, but connecting directly with people who truly like you/your work. Nurture those relationships. See what happens.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My First Guitar

When I was about 12 my aunt and uncle planned a move from upstate New York to Davenport, Iowa. Because they were taking two cars they wanted a way to communicate and they wanted it cheap. This was before the advent of cellular telephones (I said I was 12, right?) and aunt and uncle weren’t interested in investing in the latest fad: CB radio (d’y’all remember that old song about the CON-voy? Put the hammer down! 10-4, y’all!).

But they knew I had a pair of semi-decent walkie-talkies, so they offered to trade for them and in exchange they’d give me an old acoustic guitar my uncle possessed. I don’t mean he haunted it. I mean he owned it…never mind. I remember not thinking too long about agreeing to the trade. I’d get to learn to play the guitar.

Deep down, I think I always wanted to play the guitar. I know I used to daydream as an even younger kid that I was part of a traveling group of friends and family, putting on rock-n-roll shows and moving on. There were plenty of precedents on the TV at the time: The Monkees, The Partridge Family, Josie and the Pussycats. I liked the idea of making music, hogging some limelight and generally having a good time with friends and strangers.

Anyway, of course I said I’d make the swap and that summer when I returned from the annual visit to my grandparents’ place in New Jersey, having offered up my walkie-talkies, I brought back to Phoenix an old beat-up Gibson acoustic guitar, with nylon strings. My mom took me to a music store where we showed it to the guitar tech. The idea was to put steel strings on the thing, which meant dropping the truss rod back down the neck. The tech gave the guitar the once over and asked its provenance. I told him how I swapped my $15 walkie-talkies for it. He said, as he surveyed it, that I got the better end of the deal, as the guitar was an old LG-1, probably from the late 1940s, and even though it was paint-spattered and a bit worn in places, it was worth around $1,000, give or take.

I’ve been playing it for more than 30 years now. It’s seen its share of clubs, street-side busking and plenty of traveling. It’s soaked up sweat and beer and the occasional rain shower. It’s sat neglected in the back of the closet or hidden under the bed, out of sight of curious youngsters. I pulled it out after a few years of a song-writing drought and, lo! it still worked! Now it’s hanging on my study wall in easy reach for a late-night strum. It’s got a mellower tone than my other guitars, and it’s even more worn and beat up than when I got it. But it’s still a fine guitar. Catch you on the flip-flop!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Death Of Music Criticism, Or How Crowd-Sourcing Killed Indie Rock

Christopher R. Weingarten regales on criticism, new music and why you can't follow the crowd (first found on this excellent blog).

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Late Joys Perform "Black and White" for EXSE

Live Appearance on the 2009 Edition of the Televised Festival

Three Late Joys on the goggle-box! This acoustic take features Robi, Shane and Patrick.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Late Joys Announce, "Everybody's Going Away"

Nine-Month Gestation and Voila! Music!

Says Didi, looking at the album cover art: "Look! Everybody's flying up into the sky!"
"They're going away," says Dad.
"They're having a party!"
"Because they have balloons?"
"Everybody's going up into the sky! But not that guy on the ground. Maybe he's you. How come they're not going to let go of the balloons and they'll float down and the balloons will float up? You said some are coming back someday..."

I think Didi might understand the song better than the guy who wrote it...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Everybody's Going Away: EP's Away!

Our latest three-song EP is out and available for download via Bandcamp (for you tactiles who wish to hold a CD in your hands we plan to have some versions available via CDBaby soon).

Download the songs here.

And let us know what you think about the tunes. Leave a comment below, we'd love to hear from you!

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Late Joys Seek Vocalist

The Late Joys, an Austin quartet (guitar, bass, drums, trumpet), are looking for a vocalist/instrumentalist to add harmonies and some musical texture to our Brit-Pop flavored, mostly uptempo, energetic, original rock music (with the occasional choice covers). Guitarists and/or keyboardists who sing are highly encouraged to contact us, but we're interested in anyone who can sing and play -- if you have an instrument, we can find a way to use it.

You can listen to and learn about The Late Joys on the band's official site or on MySpace if you are so inclined.

We rehearse as a band once a week (usu. Thursday nights); newcomers get extra sessions as we get you up to speed.

Although we'll consider anyone who can sing (and play some sort of musical instrument), we think we're more interested in a female vocalist. In the past we've sung with an alto/contralto and that seems to work a treat for our harmonic needs.

Professional attitude and punctuality improve your chances.
So does having your own reliable mode of transportation.
No drugs, please, at least not while you're rehearsing/performing with the band.

If you know someone who might fill the bill, please let us know (uh, and let him/her know, too!). If you think you're our match, great!

Please contact Robi ( for more details.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Assume the Position, Here Comes the Boy

A sleeper's (futile) guide to self defense.

It's my fault. For the last week Didi has been sleeping through the night, no longer running into our room at 4 a.m. to join us in our bed. This was a major turning point and a welcome one: No matter the size of our bed (we recently upgraded from queen to king), our wee lad finds a way to thrash, roll, push and muscle himself into every nook and private part (see the photo for correct technique for self-defense). He triggers my insomnia, despite refinements to my sleeping position, right from the moment I hear his door slam shut and those little footsteps pat-patting down the hallway towards our door.

I say it's my fault because the thing that triggered his renewed forays into our bed was an episode of House I let him watch, where a young boy thought he was being abducted by aliens. The story ends happily, and at the conclusion Didi appeared content that everything had worked out. Too bad Didi's only three! The idea of aliens evidently stuck with him, and he was less and less sure of himself as he went to bed that night. Hence the revival of his nocturnal trespasses and my renewed, futile contortions.

That was Saturday, but it seems eons ago now that he's back to his early morning routine. So protect yourself when you hear the patter of feet. When your door opens and slams shut. When the little dickens calls out for "mom" but you know he's going to kick you in the ... well, see the photo for proper defensive technique.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Play Late Joys Bingo at The Carousel

The Late Joys Newsletter Special Edition

Hi, everyone!

Quick reminders of the current slate of gigs in Austin.

Momo's in April
618 West 6th Street, Suite 200, 78701
Tuesdays in April, 5pm - 6:45pm
No Cover
18 and over (though we've noticed that kids are welcome, too)

We have two more gigs at Momo's. We love the staff and the sound. And the deck. If you're downtown for Tuesday happy hour, please drop by. The deck overlooks the neighborhood and the stage and fees great in the sun. So far Tuesdays have been sunny and just fine for sitting outside and sipping your favorite after-work beverage in the mild outdoors, while we rock it up inside.

Play Late Joys Bingo at the Carousel Lounge

1110 E. 52nd, 78752
Wednesday, April 22, 9pm
No Cover

Yes, it's another round of Late Joys bingo at The Carousel. The song randomizer will spill out the tunes as you play for Late Joys prizes and cut loose on the ballroom floor. Everyone's a winner!

Plus: Check out The Late Joys on this cool-n-moody new site!

Turn2live is a website where you can input your mood and the site will tell you what musical acts are performing to suit how you feel. "Mellow" or "Intense?" "Melancholy" or "Quirky?" There's music in Austin for you! The Late Joys are a dapper combination of "Energetic," "Sunny" and (our favorite) "Sensual." Me-ow!

What sort of music fits your mood? Find out now!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Rehearsal Blues Turn to Reds

The days I don't want to go to band practice are the days that my body hurts in places I didn't even know I had; when I didn't get even a hint of a good night's sleep (thanks, thrice-a-night meowing cat; thanks early morning boy space-invader); when the workday drags like some biblical figure carrying some hulking great piece of wood to his death site; when I have ideas for songs but don't get to do any prep on them; when I know I have to bring all that gear back to the music lab because I took it all home after the gig; when I read about some other band's tiny success and wonder "for us: when, when, when?"

Then, of course, those nights of rehearsing are the best. Invariably. A soul-reigniting kick-start from the music as played by guys who really enjoy making it all sound good. This is going to be one of those nights.

UPDATE: It's still "one of those days" as life and scheduling play their cruel tricks: Drummer Andy is stuck at work tonight. No matter, I still think it'll all sound/feel great, even if it's just me sitting on the back patio and warbling at the back yard.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Late Joys grow peaches on the cherry tree

The Late Joys Newsletter

April 1, 2009

Hi, everyone!

I remember in some early grade school classroom learning the "April Fools Day" song. Something about gorillas in chicken coops and peaches growing on cherry trees. That sort of thing can really stick with a young mind. Uh...and an older one, apparently. Even if the fauna and fruit are phonies.

Don't let the date of this missive fool you, however: Everything below is absolutely TRUE!

The band's busier than ever this April: TRUE!

We've scored the Tuesday Happy Hour slot at Momo's, as well as the more traditional night-time gigs at The Parlor and The Carousel Lounge. Please come out and hear us!

We're cutting up that DVD from our EXSE acoustic show: TRUE!

Look for cuts from the live taping coming to an online destination near you soon.

We're on Twitter: TRUE.

But everyone is these days, from your kids to your Congressman, so I suppose this is not really news. On the other hand, you can follow most of us if tweeting is your thing! @robipolgar, @lopezepol, @andy_macleod. Shane is a self-proclaimed Luddite and will have nowt to do with tweeting. And that's the truth!


The Late Joys

Andy, Patrick, Shane and Robi

Check out the sound and the truthiness of The Late Joys.



The Parlor, 100B East North Loop, 78752

Monday, April 6, 9pm

No Cover


Acoustic Trio (Patrick, Shane and Robi) perform for pizza & suds

Momo's 618 West 6th Street, Suite 200, 78701

Tuesdays in April, 5pm - 6:45pm

No Cover

18 and over

We're making Happy Hour happier every Tuesday in April

The Carousel Lounge, 1110 E. 52nd, 78752

Wednesday, April 22, 9pm

No Cover

Kick up your heels on the dance floor in front of the pink elephant


More About Momo's

This is our first foray into the swank upstairs live music room and you can tell we're excited...we want to be sure to fill it with happy smiling, imbibing faces. Yours!

If you work in the downtown area, or if you know anyone who works downtown, please drop by/entice them to drop by for one of the upcoming happy hours. We'll be giving stuff away from the bucket-o-merch to lucky winners each week. Thanks!

Catch us for Happy Hours every Tuesday in April (4/7, 4/14, 4/21 and 4/28 if you're keeping score!). Fun starts at 5pm.


Sign up to receive The Late Joys monthly newsletter here.


The Late Joys

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Moving some pots around on the back deck and came across this three-foot beauty. I don't know what it is about snakes, but I think they're beautiful, sleek, sexy, mysterious animals, though oddly approachable. I was born in the Year of the Snake according to the Chinese Zodiac, so that might explain my affiliation with our forked-tongued friend.

Michelle (my missus) said she was glad she wasn't the one who discovered the snake. Unlike me, she's none too fond of them, though she does think they're pretty. From a distance.

For you curious folks out there, Michelle informs me this is a Texas garter snake (if you know otherwise, please say), so it was pretty much full size. It hung around the back patio for a spell, then slithered off into the grass. The description M. read said the snake was domesticable. We could have added it to the cat menagerie we've got going. Except M. said she'd freak at the idea of having a snake for a pet. Just as well, as I think the thing should live outdoors and just visit from time to time.

Though I'll be a bit more mindful next time I'm moving plants around on the patio!

Monday, March 23, 2009

EXSE redux: TV is an agent of the devil and your guardian angel

We did EXSE in 2007 and it was fun, a bit chaotic and really odd to have a huge television monitor in eye-shot where we could see ourselves playing. Sadly, the final product didn't sound so hot. Too loud, no reverb on the vocals (so you could hear every off note, of which there were, sadly, lots!)...but fun, nonetheless.

As this year's EXSE approached, I tuned in to see some of the other bands and thought the sound was really muddy, "uh-oh, even the solo guitar player sounds loud..." I said of the guy with acoustic guitar and the tambourine stuck on his foot.

So with a little trepidation and much enthusiasm Patrick, Shane and I (Andy was sunning himself in Florida!) set up in the cavernous studio and ran through some material while the good people of channelAustin set up their cameras and led us through a sound check.

I have to say, as I listen to the rough draft of the DVD from the taping, things sound pretty good. Not perfect, but way better than I'd hoped. Michelle (my missus!) said that the sound was clear and clean, and it is! So thanks to Steve & company for what turned out to be a rather good little live session, forever captured on DVD.*

Patrick pointed out that he never looked at the monitor, for fear of screwing up. As for me, I looked at it once and almost went dry! But on another occasion I suddenly forgot where I was in a song, looked up at the monitor and saw my fingers on the fretboard and realized where I was supposed to go next, chord-wise. TV: agent of the devil and guardian angel.

Felt good, then, this taping. Shane said he felt really comfortable, I reckon so! Then off he rode into the West for a well-earned vacation. Patrick and I settled for the Green Muse, a Guinness and an unexpected jazz combo.

*Once we cut this puppy up into its individual numbers, we'll post the best and alert ya!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Diving in the deep end

It appears that to make this durned social medium truly social, I gotta tweet, facebook (is that a verb) and, most important, get blogging on a regular basis. Here I was all excited about those long-form entries, full of deep background, and I know I'll still post those, but now -- somewhere between twitter word counts and my wordy tomes, lies this blog.

So update it I shall. Regular-like. la!

I promised the guys at last night's rehearsal that I wouldn't include any "locker room" stuff -- some things are gonna have to stay in-house; but I'll do my best to crack open the door to what's going on with me and the band in ways that (I hope) are of some small interest.

Start with last night: Patrick and Shane and I did a couple of hours of rehearsing for tonight's EXSE gig (more on that soon!). My fingers ached -- the Gibson has "light" gauge strings, but sometimes I think it's like trying to push down razor wire. I have this image of martial arts men thrusting their hands into fire-hot coals to toughen up their mitts. I'm not saying I'm going to do that, but there it is...tempting me.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

You Shoulda Been Here 10 Years Ago

Talkin' a bout with my generation

Let's assume, for the sake of this blog, that each generation takes about 20 years to turn over and be replaced by the next generation. And you know what they say about the "next generation," right? It'll be diametrically opposed to its immediate progenitor. If your authority-figure antecedents wore crew-cuts, teetotaled and swam laps at the YMCA pool, you let your hair down, smoked pot and slid in the mud at Woodstock. If your mom wanted you at the table by sundown for a dinner of meat and two-veg, you preferred the greasy burger, fries and shake at the local diner at two-o'clock in the morning. If your parents were Republicans, you were doomed to be a Democrat. Or perhaps it's the other way around. Come to think of it, it is. Well, you get the idea. It's generation gaps like this that lead to phrases like "You've never had it so good," "Eat your peas" and "Axis of Evil."

Now think about the half-generation that precedes you. Ten years isn't all that big a difference; we have much in common with the elders of our generation. But there's a sibling-rivalry in thinly veiled detente between us and those who have that decade's extra under their belts. And don't they let us know about it. Except that rather than push us around like our parents/betters they tend towards one-upmanship. (Because we're younger and fitter and can out-box them, that's why!)

To whit: In Boston I knew a gal -- a sweet, generous soul, usually, but 10 years my senior, so she took on the aspect of my better-heeled big sister on occasion. And on such occasions she liked to paint a picture of the town in its heyday, 10 years before I got there. Everything worth doing occurred during that inaccessible window of spent time, 10 years ago. Anything worthwhile anywhere seems to have happened that magical decade ago. I might point out contemporaneous experiences to match her vintage ones, but to no avail. Her trump card? The night The Jam -- unknown in the U.S. and doomed to stay that way -- played at some now-defunct club in Kenmore Square to a tiny house of aficionados. "You shoulda been here 10 years ago, when The Jam..." Sigh. True, I shoulda, but something kept me what was it? Oh, yes: I was 13 and living in Scotland at the time.

The same thing happens here in laid-back Austin. Well, formerly laid-back Austin. Now it's more "easy-going," but not so laid-back as the city has grown into a, well, a city. If the trend continues we'll mature through the inevitable growth stages: "fun loving," "friendly," "hard working," "serious," "stressed out," "hardened," "bitter" and, ultimately, "dangerous." Sort of like Boston these days. Ha-ha! Take that! Yet I digress.

"You shoulda been here when the Armadillo World Headquarters was around," is the approximate equivalent to the now-defunct-club-in-Kenmore-Square jibe, and it galls just the same. Sure enough, the place shut down 10 years before I got to town. Anything that happened worth happening happened at that happening haunt. Huzzah! And I missed it. All of it. Ten years ago and to this damned day.

At least I was here long enough to see my fair share of gigs at Liberty Lunch. What? You've never heard of Liberty Lunch? You shoulda been here 10 years ago...

Photo by Steve Hopson

Friday, January 16, 2009

Austin Stories, No. 1

More wayward musing in another wayward series

I arrived in Austin in July, 1990, settled down in "the hut" and began to gear up for graduate school by drinking lots of margaritas (almost an exotic drink, yet so plentiful in Austin!) and checking out the cool, local music scene. Not long after, August 27, to be exact, the helicopter flying Stevie Ray Vaughn from a Wisconsin gig crashed and he and the other passengers and crew were lost. News of his death led the morning radio shows and one (or maybe several) local stations set about planning a gathering to play the man's music and let people congregate to comfort each other and remember.

I hadn't really listened to any SRV, though in hindsight (hindhearing?) I must have listened tons of his stuff on the radio as I puttered about town that summer in my jeep. Anyway, I was hardly an aficionado, and it was my interest in hearing lots of his music and learning a bit more about it that got me thinking I should attend the evening's memorial. Plus it was clear that his death had a profound effect on the town, which further compelled me to drive down to Zilker Park and sit among the masses as they listened to the man's music and commiserated. It was like immersing yourself in Austin's life-force.

There's a certain sense to the loneliness you feel when you travel to a new place. It's almost dream-like, as if you're suspended from real life, your senses heightened to the minutiae of your new setting, which soon wears off as you get more familiar with your surroundings and the people in them; yet simultaneously it can all drift away in an instant and you seem to appear in places you've never seen, unaware of how you got there, what landmarks you passed, the people you might have seen or to whom you've spoken. I don't recall driving downtown that late afternoon, where I parked or whether there were others making the same journey towards the music playing far away across the huge open space. I felt utterly alone. Not sad, just alone.

What I do recall is that I walked about halfway down a long field and sat on the grass for a while, taking in the music and watching people move together and apart, forming and breaking small groups, always flowing towards the source of the music at the far end of the field. The sun was going down behind me and these little groups were like glowing bits of driftwood, easing past me. Mostly there was laughing; some engaged in quiet, insistent conversations, the edge of melancholy tempered by camaraderie and the meeting of friends in the heart of Austin.

I sat with my arms around my knees, staring out at the passing figures slipping by, when a hand touched my shoulder and this angelic girl looked down at me and asked, concerned, "Are you okay?" That took me by surprise: I was not sad, I hadn't just lost some vital part of me; new and disconnected to the city and its people, I had just drifted in my mind, taking in the sound and sights. I garbled a quiet, "Yes," and she smiled and floated on. I thought, how sweet everyone is, here in this new town. I liked it here before; I like it even more now.

After a while, no longer in my reverie, I got up and slowly moved against the tide of people, who, though tinged with sadness, exuded such positive energy and hopefulness. The music clearly lived (and lives on) in everyone who's heard it. That's a pretty sturdy life raft to cling to when things get dark.

The sun gone, I climbed back into the jeep and headed home.

Monday, January 12, 2009

How I Wrote the Song: Everybody's Going Away

The latest in an occasional series

There was a week back in June when I helped a long-time friend load out what was left of his furniture that was still sitting in his ex's place. They'd split, and my friend couldn't find a job in Austin, so he planned to move back to Kentucky where at least he had family. He'd rented a truck that morning and we moved out a sofa, artwork and other bits and pieces. I said goodbye to him and drove off as the day grew warmer. Later that night, Michelle called him to say her goodbye. She was sad, but then we figured we'd see him again in the future. Or we told ourselves this, though neither of us seriously believes we'll be going to Kentucky. Will he come back to visit Austin? I don't know. It seems unlikely.

That same week I helped an intrepid French family we know store their remaining possessions in a rental facility near our neighborhood before they took off in a used RV to tour the world for three years. Some things they gave to me to store at home while they were away: large dark boxes to tuck away in the closet not to see the light of day until their return years hence.

As I drove to work I thought, "Everybody's going away," and immediately the idea for a song started forming. Michelle and I talked later and we agreed that quite a number of our closest friends had upped and left town in recent years, with still more planning to go. Everybody was going away! I told her I already had the chorus to a new song:

Everybody's going away
Though some of them say they'll be back some day
But I've seen people leave here before
And when they go they don't come back no more

It didn't take long to write the rest of song. The first two verses tell the brief stories above. The third is a litany of people we've known (not even close to half!) who've moved away from Austin, in all likelihood never to return. The last mentioned is our dear friend, Don, who, having fought off cancer seven times, opted to take a journey of a different kind. He succumbed to the disease on his own terms, peacefully in his bed. We miss him.

We miss all our friends who have left.

It's funny that while I can recall the moment the song began to come together in my head -- another one that formed as I drove along on Austin's highways -- I cannot remember how I wrote the music. I can vaguely recall strumming my acoustic guitar and the chords appearing in an acceptable order; or, rather, my hands shifting to form a progression of chords that made sense and fit the words. The chorus came first, of course. Then I made a conscious decision to keep the verses simple, and I guess that was that. I wrote the song in a matter of days.

A couple of minor notes: I hadn't expected to keep the "oh-oh-oh" part between choruses and verses, which appeared out of the blue as I sang an early demo of the song, but once I did it, it stuck. And, slyly, I put in a little play on words for the part about Don. I thought he'd get a kick out of it.

Everybody's going away
Though some of them say they'll be back some day
But I know we won't see them again
So raise a glass to all our absent friends

Listen to Everybody's Going Away on The Late Joys website.