Category Archives: Jill’s Blather

Blather and ramblings from your favorite bee girl (or stegosaurus girl, or ladybug chick or spaceman…)

Setting the bar to a new high

The Industrial Jazz Group’s east coast ROCKTOBER tour unofficially began yesterday, as a few west coast members made their way into the eastern time zone. Yesterday I rented the smallest of the three tour vehicles: an “arrest me red” 2009 Chevy Impala. This afternoon the rest of the band flies in, and we head straight to our rehearsal in Brooklyn, and then we’re off to Pittsfield, MA to play as part of that city’s Jazz Festival.

This tour is our most ambitious to date; I just loosely mapped it out via Google Maps and this is what I discovered: This tour, from city to city, is just shy of 2000 miles. Insane, isn’t it?

That's a lotta miles: 1938 of them
That's a lotta miles: 1938 of them

Another new high for us is the hiring of an official tour photographer. Out of the many photographers we know, we chose Steven Noreyko of Austin, Texas. I freakin’ love his work, and his specialty is capturing people interacting with odd environments. If a 10-city, 10-day, 2000-mile tour with 17 people crammed in three vehicles and sleeping on floors isn’t an odd environment, I don’t know what is. I told Steve that he could do with us as he pleased, as long as he got at just one shot of us in front of an Applebee’s sign.

For tour updates, keep your eye on this here spot, as well as on Twitter. Durkin, Dan Rosenboom (our skeletor/trumpet master), Matt (our mirthmaster), Steve (our photomaster) and yours truly (the bee-master) all have Twitter accounts and will be keeping you up to date in 140 characters or less. We’ll be trying to use the #ijgtour hashtag, character-limit permitting. If you attend one of our shows, please use that tag, too! (Unless you hate the show. Then use #KennyG.)

To the Impala!

Turn it up, turn it down…

eh?When I was living in San Francisco, one thing I grew to appreciate was the ubiquity of earplugs at bars, music venues, and thumpy clubs. Just ask the bartender for a pair, or grab a set as you paid your cover charge and you were good to go. You could hear the nuances of the music just fine, but your ears weren’t ringing for three days post-event. Lots of people wore them, and it wasn’t considered dorky.

I always keep earplugs in my pocket or purse, because I never know when I’m gonna be in an emergency rock-and-roll situation– yessiree, that’s the life I lead. One minute I’m shopping for soup, and the next minute: METAL!!1!


Singing for a big band means that I stand in front of 14 other people playing their hearts out, which translates into ow-ow-ow-ow after the second song if I’ve forgotten mah ‘plugs. You should see the fabulous set Tany has– I bet she’d show you if you asked nicely. (Her EARPLUGS people, her earplugs. Tany will show you her fabulous set of EARPLUGS. Good lordy, you are that pig!)

Because some venues let audience members sit close to the stage, I can see folks cowering a bit during the loud bits, and relaxing more during the quieter moments. But let’s face it: Even when 16 people are all playing softly, it’s still loud.

Folks, we want you to be able to enjoy our music for many years to come, so you have to protect yourself. Practice safe listening!

You can do this by:

1) Not listening to shitty music
2) Buying The Industrial Jazz Group’s albums, either online, or at a show
3) Supporting the band by donating to our fund raiser (Honestly! This is scientifically proven to protect your hearing!)
4) Wearing your earplugs.

As a comfy, environmentally friendlier, low-cost, effective option, we like Argus Hexagonal Polyurethane earplugs. Hexagonal design means there’s less production waste than round or conical earplugs, and they expand comfortably in your ear canal just fine. Polyurethane means no latex allergy concerns. And we buy them in black, because black is the (non-)color of ROCK.

So this is why I, Jill Knapp, The Industrial Jazz Group’s Patron Saint of Hearing Protection, will make sure that earplugs will be available at our east coast shows this ROCKtober. Like I said, we want you to enjoy our music for many years, but you can’t do that if we make you all deeef.

United breaks guitars

Our faux-mustachioed brethren, Sons of Maxwell, sing a true song of woe called United Breaks Guitars. The band’s singer/guitarist, Dave Carroll (no relation to our own Ian Carroll), had his Taylor guitar obliterated by the United ground crew at O’Hare, and when he didn’t get no satisfaction from that fine airline over the course of 9 months, he decided to get all songwritey and YouTubey about it. YES! I love this man!

This, my friends, is why The Industrial Jazz Group is a Southwest Airlines kind of band. I love their low fares, snarky attitude, no-change-fee policy, blah blah blah, all that. They just freakin’ rule.

You know, for all the cross-country flying that we do (which is a lot, considering we’re 17 people), I think Southwest should give us some kind of corporate sponsorship. Don’t you think? “The Industrial Jazz Group: The official avant-garde party band of Southwest Airlines” sounds pretty good to me.

Jill is beaten with a Clue Bat

Every singer knows the old adage “When you pee clear, you sing clear.” (Grammar be damned.) This requires copious water-drinking, which poses a challenge when I’d rather have a delicious cup of coffee with a metric ton of cream and sugar.

(When my mentor Eugene Thomas saw me fix up a cup o’ coffee many years ago, he said, “So you don’t really like the taste of coffee, do you?” I digress.)

Even now in the middle of summer, I’d still choose a cup of hot coffee (even crappy coffee) over water. This isn’t a good thing, especially as I get a little older (perish the thought!) where the ol’ pipes require a little more care than they used to.

So here’s my revelation:
Whenever I go for a massage or some kind of spa visit (which isn’t very often, sadly), they always have big glass pitchers full of cool water with lemon slices or cucumber slices floating in there. Is there anything tastier or more refreshing in the world than that? NO THERE IS NOT. When I’m there, I drink 27655 glasses of this stuff because it’s just so damn tasty. And hey, what do you know: I’m suddenly hydrated. Weird, that.

If I spent more time in spas, this wouldn’t be a problem. But alas, my throngs of adoring fans do not buy me spa treatments I’m cheap and I always have something else going on. (and really: Does it make sense to pay $150 just to drink some water in a bathrobe?)

So I solved this dehydration quandary by doing something insane: I bought a dang lemon. And now I can’t stop drinking water. I don’t know why it’s taken me 30-plus years to figure this out.

You know, I’m really good at figuring out pretty complex problems; but the obvious occasionally escapes me.

Thank you, drive through.

Greetings from sunny California

Greetings from sunny California, where IJG has been rocking the house!

We’re having a great time; our shows so far have been very well-attended and received — can’t really ask for much more than that. A woman stopped me as I was leaving El Cid last night and said how much she loved the show, and that she thought we were “like a fusion between anime and jazz” which I don’t entirely understand, but it sounds cool. :-)

My love affair with this band, the music, and its members continues full steam ahead. Durkin’s written a batch of all new tunes, and they’re just killer. What’s especially interesting about the new songs is how the vocals aren’t really highlighted; we’re used almost like instruments. It’s a blast to sing this stuff, and it’s also fun to come up with non-obvious ways to count rests in mixed time signatures. :-P

Last night’s show at El Cid was a really great exercise for me. We didn’t do any “lead vocal tunes” (songs which spotlight the vocals, e.g., Big Ass Truck, The Job Song, You’re In Love With My Mother, or any of the little interludes we do), and the audience (who was a largely new-to-IJG audience) really dug it. Since I come from a musical theater and singer/songwriter background, I’m most comfortable in the “lead singer(s) plus band” format; so figuring out neat ways to connect with the audience sans lyrics is a like satisfying yoga stretch. The feedback, even from IJG fans who are familiar with our “lead singer” tunes, was very positive.

Granted, I don’t ever want the vocal tunes to go away; I think they broaden our reach and widen our audience (plus, they’re fun as hell to sing– let’s be honest). But it’s nice to know that if we don’t have a piano / room in the set, we still rock without them. In a way, it takes some pressure off.

Speaking of the El Cid show: Immediately after the PLOTZ! and IJG sets, a DJ transformed the place into a goth club. I’ve never seen such gothy goths; I even saw a pair of amazing tranny goths which made me feel totally understated and demure in my silver spaceman suit and chrome yellow eyeshadow. Anyway, it was a comical (though pleasant) intersection for an hour as audience tides shifted.

Anyway, tonight is our last show. We’re heading down to San Diego to do our annual show at Dizzy’s with the Mesa College Big Band; PLOTZ! is also on the bill. I am so grateful to Jim Romeo from Mesa for not only being so supportive of IJG, but for being a propelling force in the San Diego jazz scene. It’ll be good to see him and his band tonight.