Archive for dirty robots

Dirty Robots Play the Voltage Lounge and Penguins Pub, Philadelphia

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times, Reflections with tags , on April 2, 2014 by Verge

We got a middle slot last Saturday night to play all original material for an hour over the bridge at the Voltage Lounge.  It’s in the same building as the Electric Factory, and used to be called Whiskey Dix.  I don’t remember when they changed over.


We were on early enough not to piss me off, and late enough that there were actually people in the bar when we took stage.  The sound was awesome, and I truly enjoyed myself.  Monika and Cynthia came to the show as well, and we all had a good time.

You know, being in a band is really a bitter sweet kind of a thing.  I love playing, whether it’s cover songs or originals.  When it all comes together, it’s a great feeling to be part of a live performance.  But, like anything you love to do, to be good at it, it takes a lot of work.  A lot of hard work.


It’s kind of funny.  People I talk to about a lot of the things I do are often impressed.  Being in a working cover band.  Working for the NFL.  Going to the Super Bowl.  Brewing beer at home and working in a homebrew store.  Working in a yoga studio.  People are always like, “wow, that’s so awesome, you must love it.”

And the truth is, I do love all those things.  But there’s a lot of hard work in all of them, and sometimes the job at hand ain’t exactly a walk in the park.  If a brief introduction at a party with a stranger turns into deeper small talk about what I do, and they start to scratch the surface of my life, I start to sound cynical pretty quickly.  Hey, that’s just who I am.


I joke with people that I’m busy.  That I have 3 or 4 or 5 jobs.   I swear, just keeping my schedule straight counts as another one.  But, what you call a job is sometimes a lot of fun, and perhaps should just be called “something I do, and sometimes I get paid for.”

That’s what being in the band is like.  It’s nice to make some money.  And it’s great being onstage.  Being the center of attention for a few hours once in a while.  Having people look up to you, admire you, applaud you.  But guess what.  This is how my typical Wednesday night gigs go down.

4 pm:  Leave work after working a 8-10 hour day, in which I woke up between 5am and 6 am to get to.

445pm:  Arrive home, do normal house shit.  Collect mail.  Update my finances.  Let the cats out.  Normal shit.

6pm:  Begin writing the three 1 hour set lists that will be our show for the evening.  This includes my own personal set list with some of the chord structures printed out, because when your going to play 40-50 songs that night, sometimes it’s nice to remember what the first chord is.  Print all of them out for the rest of the band.


630pm:  Pack up the studio with all the live gear.  Make sure we have everything we may need for the show, which is pretty regular.  Double check that everything is at least semi ordered for unpacking, because at the end of the last show played, no matter where, it wasn’t an orderly pack up.

Items usually needed and brought:  Two bass guitars in cases, 2 9-volt batteries, a small tool case, three sets of strings, bass amp (80 lbs), guitar amp (another 80 lbs), power for both of them, power strip, two 50 ft extension cords, 2 or 3 extra power supplies, two power strips, two mic stands with clips, two microphones, 6-8 20 ft microphone cables, music stand, set lists for 3, mixer and mixer case, speaker cable (50ft), guitar stand, some random adapters for weird situations, a direct box, ear plugs, gaffers tape and some other random crap I can’t remember.


When I was in film school, they taught us some really important lessons that I’ve really held onto over the years.  When you’re on a shoot, and you’ve got every one on set, and everything set up, and everyone is really to go, you can’t have anything fail.  You don’t have the time or the resources or the money for a do over.  So, bring extra…of everything.  Double the amount of stuff you absolutely need, because if one thing you NEED fails you, everything else fails as well.  Good lesson for life right there.

7PM:  Finish my beer and get on the road.  The current gig on Wednesday is at Penguins Pub, which is just over an hour from my house, if there’s no traffic.  The back roads way to the gig is tore the hell up from the harsh winter, so I can’t go that way.  I have to take the NJ Turnpike to the PA turnpike, which is fine and all, but then I’m cutting into the money I make cause I’ve got to pay tolls.

815PM:  Arrive at the gig.  Find decent parking and start to unload ALL the gear.  This place is fine because they’ve got a nice parking lot and a back door to the stage.  But that’s a rarity.  Places in Philly are usually either double park, throw on your four ways, and unload all your shit onto the curb.  Hopefully the cops don’t hassle you and there’s a band mate to watch your shit while you go try to find a parking space within a few blocks of the bar.


Then, if you’re lucky, it’s not raining (which happens a lot, or some reason), and you get back to the gear quickly.  A lot of times, you’ve got to navigate a bar room full of people drinking to get your gear to the stage.  Hopefully the stage is nice.  hopefully it’s not the corner of the bar that they’ve just moved a few tables out of for you to set up.  If that’s the case, hopefully THEY have moved the tables, otherwise, guess who gets to.  Shit, hopefully THEY have stopped serving people at those tables, or literally people could be having dinner on your stage.  All this shit has happened to me.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg of the bullshit you have to deal with when your not  the only band playing that night, but one of four or five.  That’s a whole other mess and perhaps another blog.

Being a musician ain’t all fun and games, kids.

850 PM:  Hopefully my drummer and singer have set up by this point, because, lucky me, at this particular gig, I’m also the sound man.  So, I get to do sound check.  Luckily, I know to to run a sound board, but that doesn’t mean the last few people who touched it actually knew what THEY were doing.  So, this usually involves a good deal of trouble shooting and cursing.  Cue the first round of beers.

910PM:  We take the stage.  Since we don’t have a sound man most places we play, and because we’re using stage volume, and our own PA system most places (which thankfully, my singer brings, but I have to set up), inevitable the bar owner tells us to turn down our volume.  A bit hard when your using live drums.  We managed to lie and placate them somehow, having to neuter rock and roll down to mere jukebox background noise.  FML.

10PM:  First break.  We try to bring in guest acts to play some variety of music between our sets because it keeps the live music feel in the room, and keeps the attention the stage.  Since this gig I’m playing sound guy, I don’t get to go directly to the bar like my singer and drummer get to do.  I’ve got to wait around for the next act to set up and do a sound check for them as well.  Fun stuff.


10:30 PM:  Second set.  Usually my singer and I have done a shot or two during the break, which is nice because it gives just enough of the “I don’t give a fuck” attitude you really need when you realize that learning how to play bass all those years ago in high school didn’t make you famous, get you laid, or bring you any serious money.  No.  Sadly, it’s brought you to a smoke fulled bar north of Philly at 10:30 on a Wednesday night to play Oasis covers to a bar that doesn’t give a shit, an owner that hates musicians, and rednecks playing pool that only really know Elvis, Kenney Chesney and Jimmy Buffet.

11:20 PM:  End of second set.  At this point, we’ve played 30 or so songs, are pretty tired and sweat form the heat of the stage lights, and I’d just like to go home.  I realize this is very far away.  Second intermission band act goes on and I get another drink.  Sigh.

Midnight:  Start of third set.  At this point, my singer has had too much to drink, and that joint in his car during the break didn’t exactly “hone his skills.”  We stumble through the last set not really caring too much about things like correct lyrics, repetitions, and tight endings.  People are generally leaving drunk at this point of the night anyway, and the ones still there are drunk enough to care even less about how well we’re covering songs.  Shit, most people don’t remember how the 90s songs we still play went originally anyway, because, let’s face it, that shit is over twenty years old by now.

1:00AM:  We wrap up around this time, give or take 15 minutes.  Either we run out of songs, or we replay ones that people seemed to have liked from the earlier sets.  Then, we end the show.  But that’s hardly the end of the night.  All the gear on stage is ours, and we have to break it down and load it up into our respective cars.  The nice part of gigs where we are the the headliners is that we can take our time breaking down gear.  Other times, in shit bars on South Street, for instance, you have about five minutes before the next band starts bringing their gear onto stage, and ten to wind your way through the crowd out to the curb, which is where the owner, bar tenders, and sound guy wants you anyway.  When we play the whole night, we can at least grab a beer to drink while we are wrapping chords and taking amps off stage.

2:00 AM:  Sigh.  Finally done and ready to drive home.  This gig is about as far as I’ll drive these days.  About and hour and fifteen minutes.  I’ll stop on the way home at a Wawa to grab a sandwich because I haven’t eaten since the afternoon before.  Monica will be asleep by the time I get home.  I’ll make a martini to wind down, watch a little tv, open some emails and check the stats on my blog and browse the internet before I go to sleep.  Then I wake up as early as possible to get to work the next morning.

And here’s another reality of being “in the band.”  These are pictures of what backstage really looks like at a music venue.  Enjoy!


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There’s ugly sides to every endeavor.  But, I do enjoy playing.  I enjoy all my hobbies.  The cleanup always sucks, though.  Making a mess is the best part.  Realizing you have to put your toys away when you’re done having fun is always a drag.


The Seventh of July, Two Thousand and Twelve

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times with tags on July 10, 2012 by Verge

Last Saturday, my cover band played an all night show at the Flying W Resort in Medford.  Great times.  Two more to come this Summer.  You should try to make it out to one!  Always a good time.

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Sam’s Visit

Posted in Daily Pictures, Friends and Family, Good Times, Vacations with tags , , on August 23, 2011 by Verge

I met Sam back in 2005 or so when I was the manager of Sam Ash and one of my employees, Tom, suggested I give her a job.  She was working at Tower Music with him at the time, and was only 19 years old.  I didn’t know when she walked in for her interview that she would become one of my best friends, that I would care about her so much, that she would become such an important part of Monika’s and my life.

She and her boyfriend drove in from Ohio for a weekend of, well…

They arrived Thursday evening and the first order of business was a stop at Eulogy.

but we soon headed to Triumph across the street for some home made beers

this appears to be a flight of beers, but you'd be foolish to not assume it's actually a round of whiskey shots.

the girls express their fondness

this is Donovan who works with me at Films, and John, the friend that tagged along from Ohio, hanging out on Chestnut Street close to 2 am.

Monika hanging outside with Hurtuk

Sam and Donovan, laughing. Alcohol does that sometimes

Friday morning an immediate trip to LBI was in order. Neither Monika nor I had to work that day, so we headed off early after Cory and Erica arrived.

we went swimming, even though there was a ton of jellyfish, and the storm clouds were rolling in. Got in a decent Frisbee toss as well. The girls did some beach yoga as well.

and then we finally found Lorie, and headed to a local pub for some dinner over a live band.

the six of us had a great afternoon. I hadn't been to LBI in years.

then, that night, we headed to Yakitori Boy for some good old fashioned karaoke! This is the traditional elevevator snapshot.

Sam and Monika sing a along with some Queen

the next morning we met up with Steve and headed to Gloucester City to visit with Sam's family.

Sam made a ton of gifts for everyone. I played football in the front yard until I was covered in sweat.

Saturday night we stopped by my brother's birthday party, but we couldn't stay long because I had a show at the Indian Chief, both of which produced any memorable photos. And then, as crazy as the weekend was, Sunday morning Sam headed off to the speedline to return to Ohio

it's always sad to see her go, and I'll have photos from our Ohio trip hopefully sooner rather than later.

gone...for now

Sam brought us a bunch of hand made gifts and left us with a bunch of memories.  We hope to make more of both with her and Steve for many years to come.

The Twenty Eighth of August, Two Thousand and Ten

Posted in Daily Pictures with tags , on August 30, 2010 by Verge

Even though it was Saturday, I had to work anyway.

they're like robots that eat film

"I won't even dignify that question with an answer"

our first show at the Indian Chief with our new drummer

with guest vocals by Jimmy

Weekend Review #1 — Samantha’s Week

Posted in Good Times with tags , , , , , , on April 29, 2010 by Verge

Sam was in town for the weekend.  She arrived Friday evening; That’s when the debauchery began.

Friday evening I wasn’t sure if and when Sam would show up.  We played it low key and hung out  at Plunge, a swanky little joint located two doors down and run by my best friend.  Shorty later, Lorie and Sam showed up with Clint, and libations were plentiful.  All three ended up spending the night and Clint was gone when I woke up.


As promised, I phoned my friend Mike in the morning and planned to meet up with him at Atsion for an excursion in the Pine Barrens.  I wasn’t sure if he was going to show up with his daughter or not.  We planned to meet in at noon, and we met at the old Mansion there, among other hikers.  We set off on the abandoned rail line that once ran from Atco to Atsion, along what is now Raritan Ave in Atco, and a simple dirt road called Railroad Ave in the middle of the woods nearest Atsion.

Mike showed up with John, one of his good friends, but also, one of our work peers.  He is also a seasoned outdoorsman and knows the area well.  The six of us found the trailhead easily.  I was looking specifically for some concrete evidence that this was the path of the old rail line.  Mike and I had also loaded around 25 goecache locations into his GPS the day before over lunch.

The planned path was ambitious — around 8 miles.  If you know the area, the hike was this:  Atsion on Railroad/Raritan Ave. to the first intersection, which is Railroad Ave and Sandy Causeway, then left onto Sandy Causeway until meeting the abandoned rail lines which run nearly parallel with Fleming Pike back towards Atsion.

We had a beautiful day for a hike.   We tracked down a handful of goecaches.  Best of all, the hike was not carefree.  We had to navigate huge puddles, thorns and thickets and a seriouss lack of bourbon after the first half.

Here are some Geocache finds….

and another one…

crossing the washed away bridge…


Sam’s friend is about to move to Germany and she was having a sort of going away party at some of her favorite spots in Center City.  We met with her and some of our friends after taking the Speedline.

First stop was the Rum Bar.  I had only been here once before for Dave’s bachelor party.  It was pretty crowded but the music was good and we got to the drinkin’ pretty quick.  The bartender was kind of a freak and I think it may have been his first time at a real bar or something.

Perhaps it was my tips, or his inexperience, or my sharp suit, but he was making ’em strong and I got pretty tore up there. So much so that the bouncer at the bar next door nearly didn’t let me in the place.

I wasn’t surprised that our friend Don and his crew were in the city, but I was definitely drunkenly confused when they showed up at the bar unexpectedly.  But, the bar had gotten crowded and it wasn’t our scene so much.  We poured into the busy streets and hailed a cab to Ulana’s near South Street, a bar I know well and like well enough.

I can’t possibly say that I was completely sober when I took a spill in the club and banged up my arm, thumb and face, but I was soberish.  Monika had cut me off back at Rum Bar, so I was certainly in better shape than earlier.  No matter, though, I was fine and the scrape on my cheek  was gone within days.

We spent some time at Ulana’s until everyone was drunk, tired, or broke.  We found our way back to the train.  It was after 2 and the train was packed.  We didn’t even get to sit down the entire ride from 8th and Market to Lindenwold.

Sam got in an argument with two losers somewhere in Jersey and had a bit of a shouting match with them.  Sam was obviously drunk and they were obviously one of only a few people on the train who weren’t at least buzzing.  She kicked one of them as they slipped through the doors and I tried to hold her back.

This is me the next morning.  That’s a breathalzyer in my hand.  I didn’t feel right.

Monika and I had to work all week, and Sam had plenty of things she wanted to do and plenty of people she wanted to see, so we mostly didn’t see her during the week.  But on Thursday night, we all went to Manny Brown’s for


That’s my cover band.  Anyone who hadn’t gotten a chance to visit Sam while she was in town had their last opportunity Thursday night.  A lot of people showed up and most of the people in the bar were there to see her.  Some friends who had never seen me play before finally got to check out the band.  This includes some people who had never seen me play a bass even though I was their manager for years at Sam Ash.

It was also the farewell show for Faith, a girl I only knew from our shows.  She was there almost every week and was always a sweetheart.  Her husband was serving in Iraq when I met her, and is coming home to be stationed in Washington State.  Faith and Sam both got leid and received their Hawaiian names.  I hope to see her and her husband walk into one of our shows one day when they’re back visiting old friends.


Our last adventure of the week was a day trip to New Hope, PA.  Out of the four of us, I ws the only one who had been there before, and I’ve been there a lot.  I got to play tour guide for the day, which I enjoy.  Let’s face it, I like being the one in charge.  I also like leisurely roaming around with three beautiful women.

three blind mice

We wandered around pretty aimlessly for a while, checked into the kitch antique store and spent a good deal of time there.  I was looking for a good fedora, and the girls tried on numerous things.  We crossed Bridge Street into Lambertville, NJ where the annual Shad Festival was taking place.  Since it’s pretty family oriented, we bailed rather quickly and headed back to New hope for Lunch.

We headed towards Sprig and Vine, a new vegan restaurant that was very recently opened.  The head chef was a former chef at Horizon’s, one of Philly’s finest vegetarian spots.  It was a beautiful day, the sun was out, and we dined on the patio in a peaceful, outdoor setting.  We all ordered something different, and were all satisfied.  Admittedly, their menu was small, but in comparison to regular restaurants, I could eat everything, and so the menu was hugely awesome!

Since Sprig and Vine was a BYOB, and we didn’t bring any with us, immediately following lunch, we headed to Triumph Brewing Company.  A mere 200 ft away, it is  a craft brew pub that has live music, the freshest craft brew on tap, and a great, glass-walled atmosphere.  Here, we had many libations…

Okay, so craft brews are kinda’ my thing, so I (not so) reluctantly agreed to visit my favorite restaurant in New Hope, Wildflowers.  Right on the water in the center of downtown, this place is everything awesome about this town:  great people watching, super nice staff, very quaint, on the water, full service bar, and most of all, amazing home made sangria.  We ordered a nice liter carafe of half white-half red sangria, and I let myself get talked into one of their signature Margaritas.

We wound down here over light conversation and reflections of the week behind us.  Eventually we made it home.  The next night, we drove Sam to the airport so she could finally get back to the one she loves.  But, like an emotional see-saw, I know that she must have immediately missed us as much as we miss her.  On her final night here, she said something to Monika and me that assured us that for the rest of our lives, we’ll all remain together.


Poll # 1 — Cover Song

Posted in Polls with tags , , on March 3, 2010 by Verge
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