First of all, I want to thank everyone who voted for me! Once again, for the sixth year running, I’ve won the Down Beat Readers’ Poll in the “Best Musician In His Price Range” category! I couldn’t be more proud than if I had great paying work! Here’s to 2013….
Now, a list of:
THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN LIFE
1. Never address a police officer as “sport”
2. White men (speaking as one myself) should never, ever (a) wear baseball hats backwards (and, incidentally, unless you’re in a softball team, have skin cancer, or are under six years old, it’s probably a bad idea to wear them forwards, too) (b) do the “fist-bump” (or any other kind of “soul” greeting) and (c) dance to any kind of music (especially at weddings)
3. If you hang out, on purpose, at a “Chuck-E-Cheese” restaurant by yourself and you’re over 18, you will eventually be arrested.
4. You should never take your shirt off at the opera.
5. A hospital emergency room is probably not the best place to break out that jar of marinated herring you’ve been longing to try.
6. While most dogs like to be petted, they do not like to be shaved (the same rule applies to my friend Chuck Redd)
7. The term “drive-through window” should not be taken literally.
8. Despite the many times you try to casually work it into your conversations, the word “Nipples” will never be accepted as an appropriate nickname by your wife.
9. When one wants to express one’s overall delight to the guy in the next seat while exiting a funny movie or play, the proper expression is NOT: “I laughed so hard, I think I just shat in your pants!”
10. Important business meetings should not be interrupted by a “spontaneous” performance of “KP’s Puppet Theatre”.
(This is an update from something I put up on Facebook way back when)
OK, here’s how you use this: these are all good band names that are up for grabs – if you want to test them out, simply say the following out loud: “Hi, we’re ( insert band name here); thanks and goodnight!”
“David Bowie & The Spiders From Cleveland”
“The Flying Testicle”
“Ibrahim & The Discounts”
“The Gaping Wounds”
“Jeb Bush & The Fabulous Voting Machines (Formerly the ‘Flying Chads’)”
“Three Girls & A Credit Card”
“Jesus Christ Superstore”
“Pat O’Butter & The Loafs”
FOR THAT PSYCHEDELIC BAND:
“The Ungrateful Dead”
“The Stabbing Paynes”
“The Brainless Wonders”
GOOD BOY BAND NAME:
“The Five Improbable Straight Guys” – or, simply “The Five Improbables”
SOME METAL BANDS:
“The Jazz Disasters”
“The Deviants” (formerly known as “The Five Gentlemen”)
AND, FINALLY, FOR THAT HIP-HOP/RAP GROUP:
“”Half-A-Nitwit (Featuring DJ ‘Rabbi’ Benjamin Franklin)”
Is anyone else getting just a little overwhelmed with the whole Facebook/Twitter thing, or is it just me (that’s rhetorical – we’re not on Facebook right now, so you don’t have to really answer it, or, even worse, press the “like” button)? We spend so much of our time posting things about ourselves, or watching the endless parade of other people’s posts, or watching for people’s posts about us, it seems like there’s no time left to – well…live! In the last few weeks alone, I’ve seen people congratulating themselves for the following things: finishing a book; cooking a meal successfully; taking a vacation; and, well, working like everyone else. Have we nothing better to do as a society than to post photos of our restaurant meals – it’s like being trapped in a room watching a succession of holiday family snapshots, except you have to press a button every time to say you “liked” it, or, God forbid, everyone will stop “liking” your mind-numbing self -obsessed, self-reflective posts. When you’re a baby, of course you’re congratulated for your first bowel movement, but does everyone need assurance for everything once they move past that level*? This may be one reason America is in so much trouble – we’ve become a nation of infants, burying our heads in our toys and gadgets, hoping that the endless babble of the “net” will drown out our real problems. And with that, I have to go check and see if I have any new messages….
*(Guilty, your honor! But that’s probably why I stand on a stage for a living waiting for applause….)
The Newport Jazz Festival is now offering a special discount for all fans of Ken Peplowski. The offer is only good until April 30 so act now! To get your special discount please follow the below exclusive link…
KP’s House Party was just featured in a recent interview with Lee Mergner on JazzTimes. Please use the following link to read the article.
Ken Peplowski wants to play at your house. The noted jazz clarinetist and saxophonist isn’t really hurting for gigs. After all, he’s on the road roughly half the year, performing at clubs, schools, festivals and cruises. He just wants to do something different….
Welcome to my new site! I have exciting news – this year I’m initiating a series of private concerts called “KP’s House Party” – the idea is that anyone can effectively act as producer and put me with any musicians they think I would find interesting to play with! We will meet up in YOUR house (for an invited audience of your choosing) for the first time on the evening of the show, and have an open forum in front of the audience. I ask them questions about themselves, they ask me questions, I tell lots of amusing and ribald tales from my life, and we make music – all done spontaneously, and (obviously) one time only! As I listen to all kinds of music, I would encourage people to put me in everything from duet settings to larger groups, with differently – styled musicians (blues, rock, pop, etc.), even musicians from different parts of the world (India, Russia, Cleveland, etc.). The challenge, and fun, for me will be to see what we can come up with on the spot in front of the selected audience members. For more info and details of my fee (yes, I have to get paid for this!), please contact me.
It’s time to answer my question pile – I’ve had literally tens of queries since I started these blogs, so let’s begin:
1. What do you think of all these aging rockers still performing way past their prime?
Well, I’ve always felt that you’re as old as you feel, unless you feel like Strom Thurmond, in which case, you’re not only old, but dead…
I did see the Who recently in concert, and I couldn’t help but notice that when they sang “Tommy, Can You Hear Me”, there was a resounding cry of “What? What did they say?” from the audience, so it isn’t just the band members getting older. But I have a question for you – what’s the proper way to wish good luck to these elderly entertainers before they go onstage-
would yelling out “Break a hip” be too gauche? That would explain why the security people threw me out…
2. Are you a religious person?
I grew up Catholic, and used to attend the annual summer retreats, where we’d enjoy such appropriate fare for children as live crucifixion re-enactments, partaking of both the body and the blood of Christ, and, my personal favorite, being threatened with burning in hell forever for even thinking about a woman!!! When the head priest took me aside one day for a bracing game of “Pull my finger/That’s not my finger” I knew it was time to leave the fold….
I did briefly convert to born-again Christianity when I witnessed an evangelical preacher turning water into Fresca – a miracle!!! The bubble was soon burst when I remembered that I’d eaten a rather suspicious plate of mushrooms earlier that day; later that night I was entertained by a vision – it was Don Rickles, warning me that someone was out to steal my left testicle, so I should always wear a protective “cup” (reallybad mushrooms!).
My last bout with organized religion was about ten years ago, when a third cousin, twice removed, of John Travolta’s cursed me with gout for not making it all the way through “Battlefield Earth”. Coincidence? I think not….
3. Who is your favorite Beatle?
This is easy – there was a man known as the “seventh Beatle”-he grew up in East Liverpool, Ohio, and went by the stage name of “Beppo”. He could play the ocarina while simultaneously solving math problems, but, sadly, never met the other members of the group, as he died in a suspicious boating accident.
4. What was suspicious about it?
He was on dry land at the time….
5. What is the meaning of life?
If you’re one of the millions of people who believe, like Forest Gump, that “Life is like a box of chocolates”, then, my friend, you deserve to spend the rest of your life dining at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., a soul-less corporate restaurant created after a soul-less corporate movie about a moron spouting useless greeting-card epithets, a tradition of fake band-aid drivel which continues today with books like “The Secret” and anything that begins with “Ten Ways To…”
Think about it, folks – you have millions of people now reading self-help books, books on how to get rich, and the only wealthy people are the ones who write this stuff – and you’re out the $25.00 that it cost to buy the book!
Let’s do an experiment – I’ll come up with an idea, starting with “Life is like..” and fill in the rest with the first thing I see, then I’ll make a clever tie-in with some vague generalized principles that can apply to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Let’s begin: Life is like – a can-opener, because you’re always opening up something new; once in a while, you get a bad can, but your job is to keep opening until you find the things you like, etc.
Let’s try another: Life is like – a salt-shaker; you just keep shaking until all the salt particles have left the container – so stop worrying, just live your life to the fullest until you’ve “seasoned” all around you, etc.
Got it? STOP BUYING THIS CRAP!!! There is no “secret” – we’re probably a biological accident that was put here on earth by the right combination of chemicals smashing together, so enjoy your short time-span here and stop reading about how to enjoy your short time-span here! Try telling a young child stricken with poverty or disease that he’s just not “visualizing” well enough…
I think Charles Bukowski had it right when he said , and I’m paraphrasing, that the secret of life was the same secret as the secret to his writing, which was “Don’t try”. Don’t force it – stop thinking too much – don’t worry, be happy – Oh no, here we go again – see you next time-
It’s been awhile since my last blog (I feel like I’m back in confession!), but I’ve been busier than a butt-tick at a Speedo convention, so I’ll have to catch up in a few installments. We’ll start with:
PARENTING SKILLS 101
So, I’m in Sweden, visiting my kids, Jeffrey, age 8, and Marty, age 6-we’ve seen “Pirates Of The Caribbean” Parts 1 & 2 so many times that I feel like I’ve definitely buckled my last swash . I decide to show them “The Mummy”-you know, the modern re-make with Brendan Fraser, kind of an “Indiana Jones” knock-off; funny, lots of adventure, and just slightly scary (or so I remember it). I explain to my boys all about mummies, ancient Egypt, etc., before we start the movie. They wonder if there’s anything scary in it. “Well, yes,” I say,” but not more scary than “Pirates”.”OK, daddy, let’s watch it,” Jeffrey says with those wide-open, innocent lamb-eyes. The movie begins-lots of laughs, excitement, the scene of the man being mummified, no problem, we’re having fun, passing the candy back and forth, the movie cuts to a few hundred years later, more thrills, some laughs, they open the tomb, a beetle crawls under a man’s skin, and this is where it gets interesting. I decide the visual just isn’t enough, so, caught up in the excitement, I helpfully provide a descriptive play-by-play. “Look, it’s going under his skin; now it’s eating his heart; now it’s crawling up—-IT’S EATING HIS BRAIN!!!!!!!”
At which point Jeffrey, on my left, bleats out, “Daddy, I think I’m going to throw up!!” Little Marty, to my right, merely bursts into tears, as I reach frantically for the remote to turn our little adventure off. Now, I’m not trying to turn this into anything but a classic example of “when good intentions go bad”, but I do keep forgetting that my kids grow up in a small town in Sweden and aren’t as inured to violence and jarring imagery as us tough Amurrricans…and I actually hope they stay that way for a long time…
Speaking of jarring imagery,here’s today’s trivia question:
How do you know you’ve rented a car in New York City? Give up?
Answer: When there’s two vials of blood in the cup-holder (most decidedly not mine), they won’t give you another vehicle, and the steering wheel shudders violently when you go above 10 MPH. True story!
Speaking of shuddering violently, I just finished listening to the rough mixes of my new CD-no, we kid the Poles!!!!Actually, I’m quite proud of this one-it started out as a duo record with myself and Greg Cohen, and became that and much more-there’s lots of surprises on this one, not least of which is that I’m putting it out myself! Yep, I’m tired of seeing everything deleted faster than the Bush administration’s e-mails, so I’m gonna own a few of my masters for a change-look in this space for further details….
And, finally, for now, we say a brief good-bye to Kurt Vonnegut.A couple of years ago, I played the clarinet part (as opposed to the part of a clarinet) in a fascinating production of Stravinsky’s “A Soldier’s Tale”, with a new book by Mr. Vonnegut, based on the true story Private Slovik.
To our delight, he showed up to one of the performances,and to mydelight,complemented me on my playing (there was a jazz segment we did in addition to the ‘straight’ performance),and told me that,yes, evenhe used to play the clarinet , and inquired, “Do they still call it the licorice stick?” I don’t really know if ‘they’ do or not, but God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, for your visionary works of art–you sure inspired a lot of us…..
See you next time! Ken Peplowski P.S. Thanks for the ‘typing tips’ go out to Jim Lawler (sincerely!!!); Jim responded to my last blog with this warm message: “Ken: Hit the space bar after each comma.” Who knew????…….
As I race through the lobby to the elevators,I’m accosted by not one,but two,”grippers” (an English musician’s term for the kind of person that latches on for dear life and won’t let go),a gentleman in his 90s who used to run a jazz party, and an elderly lady who is the bane of musicians and promoters alike. (She was once kicked out of a hotel for tripping a man with her crutches after he asked her not to block the aisle, and for breaking the lock open on the kitchen door at midnight – “well, I was hungry, and they didn’t have room service” was her defense!). These two charmers actually talk simultaneously and overeach other in their eagerness to engage me,so it comes out like this—
Broomhilda:”What’s wrong with your hair?”
P:”-fat.I said you’re really-”
B:”I mean,it looks like you’re losing hair. Are you going-”
Mercifully,the elevator doors open-I dive in and stab frantically at the ‘close’ button.I’m free-except for a couple standing in the elevator,who seem kindly enough,but have a habit of always bringing up my LAST marriage.Now,I’ve been with Kim for five years,but to many fans,you’re frozen in their memories to some past time of their choosing-in this case,I’m still married to my Swedish ex-wife,and only have one son with her,an infant (who will miraculously be shaving soon!).
“How’s that little boy?” Now,should I say that I’m re-married,have fourkids in total,my ex is living in Sweden with my two sons,etc.-No,that won’t work,because then the elevator will turn into a scene from The Sorrow And The Pity,and I’ll have to recount the whole divorce,the fact that my children are so far away,etc.,while keeping a sorrowful expression on my face throughout their solicitations of sympathy,and trying to reassure them that “No,actually,everything’s allright now”….
Instead,I say,”Fine-thanks!”Oops-this backfires big-time,because their follow-up is:
“Your wife’s English is amazing!”
Now,I want to reply that,although Kim grew up in Kansas City, and so her knowledge of evolution could justifiably be questioned (actually,she’s quite familiar with the descent of man-she’s seen Dick Cheney on CNN),her English is exemplary….
Instead,I say,”Thanks!”The doors open to my floor-I break into a run for my room-as I nervously insert the key and the door clicks open,I hear one more,”Hey,Polack-are you going for some kielbasa and sauerkraut? We still haven’t heard a polka yet!”(see last entry) SLAM!!!!Safe…
P.S. Just as an aside,if you think events from my life are frozen in time with certain fans,consider the plight of a fellow saxophonist (he shall remain nameless),whose father passed away almost three years ago.He runs into one elderly gentleman about once a month,who has a habit of approaching my friend at the most inappropriate times,shaking his hand,and offering a “I sure do miss your daddy!!!”This means that my friend has to drop whatever he’s doing (in one case, a hot date!),and start ‘grieving’ again,no matter what his actual mood is….But,once again,I digress…
I’m doing the opening set at the Newport Jazz Party-this is always a good one,because not only do I get to play with some of the West Coast’s finest musicians,but Joe Rothman,the organizer,and I have a long-standing tradition of insulting each other mercilessly over the microphone throughout the weekend,and I get the opening salvo….
Now,Joe Rothman is a bachelor for life-he’s never been married,never will,so,naturally,my jokes lean in that direction-for example,two years before,I’d lowered the bar significantly with this joke:”You know,if you laid all the girls in California end-to-end…then you’d be Joe Rothman!” This,incidentally,was funny to everyone but his first-time date that night-who knew?????So this year I softened things up a bit-here’s my comments:
“It’s great to be back here in Newport Beach,and I’m glad to see Joe Rothman healthy again (some murmurs,some titters in the audience).No,you know he’s had some health problems-I don’t think he’d mind me telling you-for the last year,every time he had sex,his upper body burned like crazy-but a team of doctors finally figured out the cause-pepper spray!!!!”This was followed by,”No,I shouldn’t kid Joe-at his age,he has more testosterone than Rosie O’Donnell in a women’s prison!”These jokes,again,got a huge laugh from everyone but,alas,Joe’s date,who subsequently referred to me as an “asshole” and a “jerk”-again,I didn’t know she was in the audience,and I really didn’t think that she’d be offended,considering that (a) Joe “gives” to me as good as he “gets”,(b)we’re close friends,which is clear to everyone,(c)these jokes were pretty mild on the offend-o-meter,and(d)our banter is just an act.(I tried this reasoning on Joe’s date-she informed me that “I’m not an act!!!”).OK,to anyone not in our inner circle (all 2,000 of us)-I’M JUST JOKING!!Joe’s a great guy,he really is a perfect gentleman and a good,loyal,friend,and I love him-if you don’t believe me,I have an elf in Irvine who can testify on my behalf!!!!(again,see last entry)
Bye for now-Ken
P.S. You should sign up for Joe and John’s West Coast Jazz Party in Irvine on Labor Day weekend for more great music and hi-jinks!!!