It started after a lovely and very filling Thanksgiving dinner at our house. It was a cozy affair with my parents, who had driven all the way from Jacksonville, FL to share this yummy holiday with us, and our good friends Laura Kepner-Adney and Tom Moore. Of course there was food, food, and more FOOD. After the carnage, the folks were tired and had gone back to their hotel room, so the four of us were chillin’, listening to music and chatting while digesting the huge feast.
We were still living in our “old” house (ie, the tall concrete block house with the spiral staircase we’d rented for three years until 3 weeks ago). It was a radical structure for downtown Tucson – the ceilings in the main room were up to 30 feet high. Jamie and I would muse, wouldn’t it be cool to do some kind of video party here? Take advantage of the wild space, do something really different? But the years passed quickly and we never got around to it. The prospect would throw a spark but soon our attention would be drawn elsewhere (usually to rehearsal or recording) and the glow would die out.
Until that fateful early evening, the old idea popped out of one of our mouths. Instead of the notion floating back out into the ether never to return, a lightbulb fired up over Tom’s head. We knew, but had forgotten, that Tom has an extensive background in film in Austin and Seattle, even working on Bill Nye, the Science Guy’s show . He, like, knew how to do stuff like this. Tryptophan be damned, soon we were all leaning towards each other, hatching a plan to actually throw this video party. We didn’t have any details yet, but Tom figured a date when we’d all be in town and available for whatever this turned out to be: December 20th.
I wrote the date on the calendar and in the back of my mind, my don’t-get-your-hopes-up-too-much voice drawled: yeah, we’ll see what happens. But then, we’d never worked with Tom before. After a couple of weeks, he brought up the party again and we started talking details. We wanted to keep it simple, it was an experiment, we’ll take it slow.
First, the bands – who would be in the show? Out of all the actual gigging , experienced, long-lived bands we knew of, we ended up choosing two very young projects who were very different from each other: The Cordials (power americana pop rock w/ me, Laura and Courtney Robbins) and The Cleavers (massive stoner rock with two basses and no guitar w/ Jamie, Brian Green and Eric Schumeister). Then a synapse fired somewhere. Why not include a cooking segment for each band? Sure, that could be fun. - we’d hosted and attended many a BBQ laden with creative culinary offerings from our friends. The first episode fell into place: The Cordials would play a song live and then Laura (an experienced bartender, among her many many talents) would walk you through a perfect Manhattan. The Cleavers would bang out a chaotic tune and then show us how they grill some steaks. Simple, easy, no big whoop.
We didn’t really put much thought and effort into it. The only thing left to figure out was a host – and because of his unpredictable but hilarious persona, we settled on [Bruce Halper (better known as one of Tucson's most experienced, happening drummers, but we had seen him as his alter ego, Phony Bennett.)] We had the date, we confirmed the people and that was about it.
The day of the shoot, Tom came over with some gear and set up lights around the house. Somehow various friends heard about this covert operation and showed up. Now we had a studio audience! Nobody had actually thought about having enough food for everyone to actually eat – but I’d picked up some veggies to grill and somehow there was enough for everyone.
And the day just flowed. It was long, it wasn’t perfect. Most segments had maybe one or two takes. We were definitely not going for perfection here. But Tom’s eagle directing eye and our joined forces created something. A few weeks later, he had edited the various pieces of footage (I even did some ‘filming’ with an 8mm iPhone app) and wanted to show us. It was quirky, it was rockin’ and rather delicious. We called it Rockin’ Gourmet, slapped it up on YouTube and here’s the first episode:
This is still a very young project but I couldn’t predict how much fun it would be. So among our already busy schedules, we’ve managed to put together some shorter music/food segments and another full episode since. The second episode was filmed during Rodeo Week so there’s a western theme throughout. So far I’ve been involved mostly as one of the producers (ie, I help organize and deal with obstacles if I can). It’s been enormously fun and fulfilling figuring these things out. Tom is the creative engine behind RG but it’s so cool how so many of us end up pulling together to raise that barn. We are part of one EFFIN’ cool community.
Here’s the second episode with Amy Rude and Loveland – a truly charming piece:
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