Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Wed - April 29. There IS no place like home. After a wonderful week in RI, and some time on the train, it is nice to sleep in my own bed, snuggle with the poochies and watch some TV. I have a ton of laundry to do, more when/if my suitcase comes from Providence, and I am ready to start preparing the next concerto, to be played in two+ weeks.

Thanks for following me on my journey, I hope you had as much fun sharing the experience, as I had sharing it with you. OCB tonight, I can't wait!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Tuesday, April 28 - Home tonight!!

Yesterday was kind of a weird day. I wasn’t feeling very well and managed to sleep most of the day. There was some beautiful scenery in Colorado as a result of the storm the day before. We stopped here & there and I took pictures of the train in the snow. They are posted on FB. Like I said, I slept most of the day. After lunch I came back to my room, put on “Bourne Supremacy” and promptly fell asleep. The dining car steward came around and took my 7:15 dinner reservation. When I didn’t show, he came and knocked on my door; I never heard him. My neighbor in Room D who DID hear him knock confirmed this. Anyway, I have been eating so much I really wasn’t hungry. At 10:30, I had Linda, my train attendant make up my bed. I put on “Bourne Supremacy” but didn’t make it through the opening credits. I woke at about (what I think was) 5:00 AM. I took a photo (posted on FB) of the desert, and went back to sleep. I got up at 6:00 showered; put on fresh clothes and went to breakfast. Broke fast with a nice couple from Denver (he runs a hotel in Aspen) and a retired gentleman from Pittsburgh. I am anxious to get home as I have SEVERAL Union matters that need tending, I need to start working on the Gregson, and I have my last 4 concerts of the year coming up.

The train is on time. If it STAYS on time, I’ll be in Emeryville at 5:20, taking the 547 Capitol Corridor at 7:20; home before 9. I hope, I hope.

On the Home Stretch.

2 more stops: Martinez then Emeryville. Then I catch the Capitol 547 home to San Jose. I had lunch with a young couple, he works for the railroads (Union Pacific) and she is a nursing student, working on her BA. Nice couple, just starting out we had a nice lunch together. I’ve been on FB most of the day, and answering emails. I have an important meeting with Team San Jose, regarding the shows in 153 jurisdiction as well as a broiling pot at OSJ. I am anxious for a report from my groups about my subs as well as sleeping in my own bed and snuggling with my spaniels.

Looking back, it was a great trip. I LOVED being in RI and hanging with the kids, soloing, conducting. Young musicians sought me out, asked for advice obviously wanting to spend time with me. It was really nice to feel respected, useful, appreciated.

Still, I missed my OWO, SVBB, TE & OCB guys. Can’t wait to see everyone at Zorba’s tomorrow.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday AM

As I write this, I am looking out my window at a beautiful winter snow scene. The ground is dusted with snow. It is either 7:00 or 8:00 (depending on if you believe my computer or iPhone). The sun is blocked by clouds and there is a peaceful serenity about all that I can see. I'll have coffee in a moment, but for now, I am enjoying the scenery. We are at about 4700 feet in elevation. Last night, in Iowa, we went through QUITE a thunderstorm, so I can only surmise that that storm was responsible for all this snow.

Last night, I had a wonderful steak dinner with a woman from Sacramento and her dad who lives in Pennsylvania. There was also an asian fellow who didn't speak much english. Try as we might to include him in our rather animated discussion, he didn't really get involved.

I DID manage a long hot shower in my room (WENDY!), and it really felt great. I tried to post some picts on FB of my accomodations, but only one managed to get uploaded. I also uploaded 2 picts of crossing the Mississippi.

Well, dear friends, I'll sign off for now, get my coffee and head to the dining hall.

More later...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sunday, heading home

Last night, after dinner. I went back to my room and promptly fell asleep. I guess I was more beat than I thought. At about 8:30, Sharon knocked on my door to make up my bed. After she did that, I went right to sleep and slept through Utica, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Erie & Cleveland, where I BRIEFLY woke up. After we left Cleveland, I slept through Elyria, Sandusky & Toledo. I breakfasted in Bryan and as of about 9 AM, I am 1/2 way between South Bend, IN & Chicago. I'll be at the Union Station for 4+ hours, waiting or the California Zephyr, which departs Chicago at 2:00 PM. One of my OWO guys, Mark Beyer is in Chicago on family business. I'm hoping we can meet for lunch.

I got into Chicago right on time. I couldn't make a connect with Mark, DARN! I posted a pict of the Sears Tower (the best I could under the circumstances) that I posted in FB. There is a really nice lounge in which the sleeper car passengers wait. There are snacks available as well as baggage storage so I put my stuff there (tuba, too) and walked around Union Station. I purchased a Chicago T-Shirt and got a smoothie that in California would be called Horchata, cinnamon-y vanilla. I upgraded my ticket from a roomette to a deluxe room. The cost: $13. Thirteen bucks for all this extra room?!? I am waiting for the dining car steward to come to take my dinner reservations. After which I am going to take a loooonng hot shower!

I can't WAIT to see my Bay Area friends.

More later....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Saturday, heading home

After a couple hours in Penn Station, I'm on the 49 train heading towards (kinda) Chicago. My train attendant is Sharon, who gave me TWO roomettes so I can put my tuba in the other one. This sleeper seems to be older equipment. One level with a sink & toilet in each room. We are heading due North up to Albany (NY) then over to Buffalo. Then to Erie, PA; Cleveland & Toledo, OH; Elkhart & South Bend, IN before making Chicago. Tomorrow, I'll have about 4 hours to kill in Chicago. This leg of the journey is planned to take 19 hours. I have a 5:30 dinner reservation, after which I will shower and watch a movie, probably Casino Royal, the next to the last Bond film.

Day 3 @RIC and starting home

Day 3 at RIC. This morning I ran a brass master class. I coached the freshman brass quintet. Nice bunch of kids, good players and needed a little coaching. I adjusted their seating arrangement (DUH!) and worked with them on Monteregian Hills, & their own arrangement of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” That was fun. THEN, I coached a graduate-type tuba quartet who did ALL of their own arrangements. These kids play great and if they play their cards right, just might be able to make it as a pro group. They are talking about coming out to SJ to hang for a week or so. They offered to trade coaching & housing for work around the house. Maybe I’ll finally get my barn painted!

After a great lunch on “The Hill” (where all the Italian restaurants are) we had a tuba session with about 30 HS & College tuba players. I did my spiel on maximizing your warm up time, talked a lot about intonation & tuning. I followed the talk with a round of ‘Revolving Chords.’ We rehearsed 2 tuba ensembles, Song without Words and William Tell, to be performed that evening on the concert. After all that Rob & I went to a neighbor hood bar (there are these sprinkled ALL OVER Providence) for a little relaxation & Miller High Life. We went back to school to prepare for the concert.

RIC has a nice concert hall. I’m GUESSING it holds about 800-900. The stage is a little small for their wind ensemble, but Rob knows how to use the stage for maximum benefit.

The concert started with the TE, before which Rob gave me a wonderful introduction. After the tubas, the band played 'Creation of the World' by Milhaud. My concerto was played next; I was very pleased with the performance. I biffed a coupla notes, but overall, I had a good time, the band played great and Rob did a wonderful job of not only prepping the band, and of conducting the concerto. By this time, I was pretty tired so I went back to my dressing room and chatted with some of the kids. Last on the concert, I conducted Broughton’s Silverado end credits. The band played great for me in spite of my sometimes ‘unorthodox’ conducting technique.

Many of us went out to Gregg’s for a drink & food, the same place to which I went the last time I played at RIC. It was a lot of fun and when I went to the bar, the kids told the servers it was my birthday so after my sandwich, the wait staff brought me this HUGE ├ęclair with birthday candles. NO, I didn’t eat the whole thing!!!! I’m a good sharer. We got home after midnight after Rob missed the turnoff and we almost ended up in Massa-fucking-chussets!

I packed up this morning and Rob offered to SHIP my big suitcase, heavy coat and bag of laundry. THANK YOU, ROB! As I have THREE transfers, this will be easier as I will only have my tuba (it’s an F, Phil), my computer and my grip.

As I write this, I am on the 161 train from Providence to NY, Penn Station, travelling 110 mph! This train kicks ass. I am thinking back on my visit with the young artists, grateful for this opportunity, and look forward with eager anticipation on seeing my Bay Area friends.

Friday, April 24, 2009

@ Rhode Island College

Day 1 at Rhode Island College

Rob took me to Cindy’s Diner, a GREAT little breakfast place. I played my tuba after 4 days and my chops felt like CRAP! I talked to some music students at 1:00 about the ‘biz’ and had a question answer period that was REALLY FUN. Rob and I went to Warwick to have dinner with Bryan & Heather Doughty. Bryan (of BVD Press) has been good to the TE & BCMW so it was great to meet them finally. We had a GREAT meal, seafood appetizers and REAL MAINE LOBSTER. WOW, what a treat. Got home late.

Day 2 at RIC – NO breakfast as I am still full from dinner. We had a Concerto rehearsal at 2:00. After we went to dinner at Wildfire. Where we had a GREAT appetizer plate and I had lobster ravioli. CANNOLI NIRVANA OCCURRED! Chocolate covered shells with peanut butter flavored ricotta. Dress rehearsal at 7:00. We did Silverado first, then Rob rehearsed the other pieces. My concerto came up about 8:45. It went VERY well and a good time was had by all. After, a few of us went to Murphy’s Bar downtown Providence. Got home late.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Tuesday, Day 4, part 1

April 21, Day 4, 8:47 AM.

Up early and had breakfast. Took a hot shower; BOY did I need it after yesterday’s ordeal. As of now, it looks like I should get into DC right on time (1:30). I have a little bit of leeway, as the Northeast Regional doesn’t depart for NY and points north until 4:05. I “played” through the concerto once this AM as well as spent some time studying the score I am going to conduct.

I got to DC in good order so I went to the ticket guy to see if I could get onto and earlier train to Providence. For a few bucks, he put me on the 94 train, that goes through Baltimore. Philadelphia, NY & Boston. I’ll get to Providence 2+ hours ahead of the original plan. This might give me some time to actually practice because I didn’t buzz much tomorrow and haven’t touched the mouthpiece today.

It is pretty hot & muggy in DC.

I can’t buzz on this train because there are no private rooms. BUT, I clocked this train at 120 mph! It averages about 108 when moving. Why can the trains in Cali go this fast? Probably some self appointed safetycrat won’t let them; might run over an endangered desert rat!

Looking out the window is a bit depressing here, as I see a lot of squalor. A lot of run down houses, piled on top of each other in varying states of disrepair. Garbage everywhere and the view is pretty ugly overall. Of course the train tracks and train stations are never in the GOOD part of town, so I take that with a grain of salt.

Boy, did I miss my OWO guys last night!

More later…

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday, Day 3, MUCH later

WHAT A DAY! All day, the California Zephyr was between 3 & 4 hours behind schedule. We’d catch up, then something would happen and we’d lose the time we made. Originally the 6 was supposed to get into Chicago at 3:50. If we were 3 hours late, that gave me 15 minutes to catch the 30 train, the Capitol Limited, which was scheduled to leave at 7:05. As we approached Chicago, it LOOKED like we would arrive between 7 & 7:15. Amtrak would not tell us if they would hold the train or not. Come to find out, there were about 30 of us making a transfer from the 6 to the 30. STILL, they wouldn’t say one way or the other. I called the STATION MANAGER at Chicago’s Union Station and SHE wouldn’t tell me anything. The Zephyr rolled into the station at 7:01. Amtrak rules say (paraphrased) if there is a train IN THE STATION onto which passengers need to transfer, from a train ENTERING the station, they MUST wait for those passengers. So it looked like we were covered. Not only that but literally, from my 6 train, car 631 to my 30 train, car 3000 was 11 steps. Right across the platform, and next to the 631. I got on board, met my attendant, Brenda, offloaded my tuba & big suitcase and went right up into my room, 6. I walked to the dining car and made a 7:30 reservation with Lawrence in the diner. I ate dinner (flat iron steak, fixed PERFECTLY) with a man and his son from Dos Palos. He JUST retired from farming and his son JUST graduated from AMI, the mechanic school in Sacramento. He landed a job fixing diesel engines. They are taking a LONG train trip all over the US.

It’s 9:01 PM and I have had a long day. We are spending MOST of the night in Ohio & western Pennsylvania.

Trip Log, Day 3, Monday

April 20, Day 3, 8:04 AM

We got into Denver almost 4 hours late last night. We made up a little time and as of now, we are 3 hours behind schedule. There is some doubt as to whether or not the 6 train, the California Zephry, will meet up in time with the “Cap.”  If we stay 3 hours behind schedule, that’ll get us into Chicago at 6:50. The Cap leaves at 7:05. That will give us (and there are several of us) 15 minutes to make our connection. Typically the Zephyr makes Chicago 45 minutes to an hour early, so if we DO make up some time, we’ll be ok. Evelyn, in the dining car said, “If they have to get you a CAMEL, they’ll take care of you.” So I had some breakfast, stepped out onto the platform in Lincoln, Nebraska and now we are on our way.

 More later….

Trip Log, Day 2

Sunday, April 19, 12:38 PM.

 I slept well last night, unless you count the earthquake dream, which was a direct result of going over some rough track. The quakes in the dream had the same intensity and duration and interval as the train bumping when I awoke. Hmmmmm. Breakfast this morning was ok; I ate with the attorney and her son & his friend again. When you eat, they put you 4 to a table so three of them and one of me make a perfect seating arrangement for dining car personnel.

Let me describe the Amtrak Superliner: the train is two stories tall, about 45 feet long. As my friend Benny says, it is KIND of reminiscent of an aluminum cannoli. On the lower lever there are 3 bathrooms, a shower, 4 roomettes, a family room and a ‘special needs’ room. The luggage is also stored across from the stairway that leads up. Up stairs, there are 5 DELUXE bedrooms, 10 roomettes, a bathroom and a refreshment station.

The roomettes are for one or two people. They have two comfortable seats facing each other. At night, they slide together to make a bed, and there is an upper berth that folds down for sleeping. There is an electrical outlet into which I have plugged an extension cord for my iPod, iPhone and Mac. There is plenty of lighting and view from the upstairs roomettes is wonderful. The deluxe bedrooms have a couch and a chair. The couch folds into a double bed at night (for 2 people) and there is an upper berth, rather like the roomette, that folds down. The Deluxe bedroom has it’s own bathroom/shower combo that, to put it nicely, is small. Even when I had one of these, I showered in the communal shower so I could at least wash myself. The family room stretched the width of the train and can easily house a family of 5. The special needs room is completely handicapped accessible with its own bathroom. This room also stretches the width of the train.

On the California Zephyr, rearward of the sleepers is the dining car, where your meals are taken. Rearward of that is the lounge car, where people hang most of the day. There are side facing seats big windows and tables where you can play cards, eat or I saw some young people doing their Geometry homework. Below the lounge car, snacks of all kinds can be purchased, as can alcohol.

 The train workers have a good union, but the conductors’ branch of that has more clout than that of the people who do all the ‘real’ work on board. This harkens back to the day when the workers were all black and the conductors were all white. This I got from SEVERAL of the train attendants as well as the dining car workers. I’d love to do some real research into the railway workers union.

 I took a shower after lunch (hamburger, cooked Chef’s way, and you’ll LIKE it). The shower was quite roomy. It is a BIT disconcerting, however, to look down and see the tracks flying by. Apparently, the shower dumps right onto the tracks; no tubes, no pipes, from the drain to the tracks. Attached to the shower is a nice dressing room where you can put on fresh clothes and do your hair and use an electric razor. I went upstairs to use my disposable.

 I’ll buzz the concerto a couple times and get back into The Whole Truth.

 We were sidetracked for some time with problems with the rails. Up ahead there was a terrible storm two nights ago and the 5 train westbound was 4 hours late; they expect the same with this train. If that is the case, I’ll miss my connection for the “Cap” and they may have to put me on the Lake Shore limited to NY, which would be fine IF I were to end up with the same accommodations. I do NOT want to ride coach.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Trip Log, Day 1

10:03 AM

My dear Linda took me up to Emeryville to catch the California Zephyr heading out to Chicago.  We got off about 5 minutes late. By 9:05 I was ready for breakfast and they served an abbreviated meal, scrambled eggs, bacon, croissant, coffee, juice. I got back to my sleeper (train 631, room 2) and hooked the Mac up to my iPhone. Jake came over Thursday night to make sure I could get onto the internet with my Mac through the phone. It works like a charm as long as I have cell service. I logged right onto Facebook (what else?) and checked my email. As I write this we are going over the Carquinez Straight, near the mothball fleet. It is HOT in my compartment so I asked Miriam (train attendant) to look into the fan.


4:43 PM. I had lunch in the dining car. A turkey sandwich on something they call a “pretzel roll.” It tasted good, but wasn’t enough food to feed a little old lady. It came with a small salad, yes, Sandra a crappy SIDE salad. After lunch, I walked the train and stopped in the club car for a sandwich. I went back to my room and got out my mouthpiece and buzzed long tones and lip slurs for about 20 minutes. After a stop in Reno, during which I actually got OFF the train for 10 minutes, I came back to my room, put on the recording of the concerto and buzzed along with the recording. My biggest concern is actually having chops when I step off the train in Providence. I took a couple of pictures and posted them on Facebook, one of the photos is Miriam, my train attendant. She seems like a nice lady and hope to chat with her some more. The dining car guy, Jack, just came by and took my dinner reservation. I’ll eat at 5:30 tonight. I started reading one of my books, The Whole Truth by David Baldacci. It’s a spy thriller. After dinner, I plan on buzzing the concerto again, buzz some scales and in the TRITONE OF DEATH. More later….

 6:35 PM. I had dinner with a woman attorney, her son and his friend, from Sunnyvale. They live in Boulder right now and the boy plays the trombone. I’m going to buzz some more, wash up and watch STAR WARS!

 More tomorrow!