Is This Thing On?

Tap, Tap.

Check One, Check, Check. Is This Thing On?

Hi, my name is Erik Ellestad, and I write this blog.

Up until a couple years ago I wrote a Cocktail Blog called “Savoy Stomp“, worked as a bartender at restaurants like Heaven’s Dog, The Coachman, South at SF Jazz, &c., and helped host Savoy Cocktail Book nights at Alembic Bar.

However, as I was getting older, for various reasons, I was finding the balance of my ambivalence about cocktails, spirits, and drinking, was tipping towards, “You know what, the cons are now outweighing the pros.” So when The Coachman closed, I also decided to take that opportunity to take some time off drinking.

A sucky first month of not drinking turned into a good second month, and pretty soon it was a year. Now it is almost two years.

Up to this point, my strategy for not drinking has been primarily, to stop buying booze, stop making drinks at home, and to stop going out to bars. Period. Effective, easy; but I have friends and family that drink and I have friends in the bar industry that I miss, so I’ve started to slip back in, and sit at the odd bar stool. I’m talking again to friends I knew while working in the industry and realizing I do miss the social aspect of working and hanging out in bars.

However, the first thing I notice as a new teetotaler, is, outside of Food and Bev, myself and my old friends in the industry often don’t have a lot to talk about. Or we need to find new things to talk about. We worked together, navigated tough Saturday night after Saturday night, but small talk was more often about the drink nerdery, than what the kids are up to or what our hobbies or interests are. I mean, booze WAS my primary hobby there for the 10 years I was writing the Savoy Stomp blog. Partially my fault for being a bit of an obsessive personality.

Another thing I notice as a new teetotaler is that non-alcoholic drinks are often relegated to “Kids’ Menu” status in most bars and restaurants. If you’re lucky, a few lines at the end of a menu, and mostly drinks that are not very interesting to an adult palate. Literally, “Kid Stuff”. Sweet saturated fruit flavors with little challenge or bitterness.

Finally, I am noticing more that there are quite a few people who work in the Food and Bev industry who don’t drink for one reason or another. Or who are at the very least trying to work out a way to cut down on their drinking.

So, while learning to play clarinet at a grade school level is satisfying on some levels, I felt like there was something interesting to do with the experience I had with cocktails, the drink industry, and the fact that I was no longer drinking.

Maybe I could go out to bars and restaurants and look with new eyes at what they offered for non-drinking patrons, and be an advocate for giving more respect to non-drinkers on the menus and in the drinks they serve. Talk to some friends who didn’t drink about their choices while working in an industry that is pretty well pickled. Maybe post some recipes for actually tasty ADULT beverages without alcohol.

And most of all, kill the term “MOCK-TAIL” with fire.

Join me, won’t you?

042.OComeAllYeFaithful

Please turn to number 42 and join with the clarinets in “O Come, All Ye Faithful”.

Name: ADESTE FIDELIS
Meter: Irregular
Tempo: In moderate time
Music: John F. Wade’s Cantus diversi, 1751
Text: Latin Hymn, XVIII cent.
Tr. Frederick Oakeley, 1802-80, and others

Adeste Fidelis“, or “O Come, All Ye Faithful”, is another hymn whose origins are shrouded in mystery. Apparently, the earliest instances are from the notes of John Francis Wade, but others have been given credit for the origin, including a King of Portugal.

I hope you don’t mind me stealing more info from wikipedia articles. Who knew it would be such a great resource for information about old hymns? I guess the Christians are active on the Internet.

“The original text has been from time to time attributed to various groups and individuals, including St. Bonaventure in the 13th century or King John IV of Portugal in the 17th, though it was more commonly believed that the text was written by an order of monks, the Cistercian, German, Portuguese and Spanish orders having, at various times, been given credit.”

The most commonly named Portuguese author is King John IV of Portugal (Portuguese: D. João IV de Portugal, pronounced: [ʒuˈɐ̃w̃]). “The Musician King” (1604–1656, came to the throne in 1640) was a patron of music and the arts and a considerably sophisticated writer on music; in addition, he was a composer, and during his reign he collected one of the largest musical libraries in the world (destroyed in the Lisbon earthquake of 1755). The first part of his musical work was published in 1649. He founded a Music School in Vila Viçosa that ‘exported’ musicians to Spain and Italy and it was at his Vila Viçosa palace that the two 1640 manuscripts of the “Portuguese Hymn” were found. Those manuscripts predate Wade’s eighteenth-century manuscript.[3] Among the King’s writings is a Defense of Modern Music (Lisbon, 1649). In the same year (1649) he had a huge struggle to get instrumental music approved by the Vatican for use in the Catholic Church. His other famous composition is a setting of the Crux fidelis, a work that remains highly popular during Lent amongst church choirs.

Interestingly, the song is also interpreted as a “Jacobite birth ode to Bonnie Prince  Charlie”.

The hymn has been interpreted as a Jacobite birth ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie.[9] Professor Bennett Zon, head of music at Durham University, claims that the carol is actually a birth ode to Bonnie Prince Charlie, the secret political code being decipherable by the “faithful” (the Jacobites), with “Bethlehem” a common Jacobite cipher for England and Regem Angelorum a pun on Angelorum (Angels) and Anglorum (English).[9] Wade had fled to France after the Jacobite rising of 1745 was crushed. From the 1740s to 1770s the earliest forms of the carol commonly appeared in English Roman Catholic liturgical books close to prayers for the exiled Old Pretender. In the books by Wade it was often decorated with Jacobite floral imagery, as were other liturgical texts with coded Jacobite meanings.[10]

Transposing it to b flat for the clarinet, does have the unfortunate side effect of changing already 4 sharps to 6 sharps. It’s hard to remember the a and e sharps, since they end up being b and fs: 042-ocomeallyefaithful

Whatever its origin or secret meaning, it is a wonderful hymn, and another of my favorites.

The current usual method, doubling all parts. Mixing across the field of hearing, then applying an Audacity reverb effect, in this case “Large Room”.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

Old Devil Moon, 09.09.2016

oldevilmoon

On the way home from dinner at Old Bus Tavern, we stopped by Old Devil Moon (Facebook Link).

The space which Old Devil Moon took over had long been a Latin Bar, but the owners wanted to retire and a group of folks who had been involved in the San Francisco Homebrew club wanted to open a bar. Win/Win.

The owners have been working on remodeling the bar for quite a while, six months to a year, while the neighborhood patiently awaits its chance to deliver a verdict on the new venue.

We were initially going to meet up at Old Devil Moon with some friends who have a 5 year old. When I questioned the owners via instagram whether the venue would be “kid friendly”, I got the following reply, “We welcome everyone! We’re more a “bar with food” than a “restaurant with alcohol,” so it’s the sort of spot that may feel a little too rowdy for kids after a certain hour.” We did stop by with our friends and their son, but there was no space to sit, and, at 6:30pm, already looked a little “rowdy for kids”. Hey, it is their first week open. So we went elsewhere for dinner.

Mrs. Flannestad and I wanted to get back in and check it out, without having to worry about whether it was kid friendly, so we stopped in last night.

They do have a very good tap list of beers, including a few under 5%, so nearly non-alcoholic. They even feature Cask Ales, at this time from Freewheel Brewing, on beer machine. So, if you don’t mind a little alcohol, there you go, a few options.

As is recently trendy in modern venues, they also have spirits and mixed drinks on tap: Fernet, Bourbon, Mint syrup flavored Bourbon (“Poor Man’s Sazerac”). I think they also sometimes have cold brewed Coffee on nitro, but I didn’t see this on the menu when I visited.

On the other hand, as far as I can tell, the only truly non-alcoholic option, other than maybe nitro-coffee, is a self serve ice water dispenser at the back of the restaurant. It is flanked by stacks of the sorts of red plastic cups you’d see at a Pizza Parlor, down to the authentic tang of disk sanitizer. (Did they get them used?) Nothing on the food, drink, or beer menus to indicate even a single non-alcoholic option. And, so far, they’ve been so swamped every time I’ve been in, that I haven’t had the chance to ask if they could make me an off menu non-alcoholic drink.

I guess, like the kid thing, they didn’t figure non-drinkers would be going to a “bar with food”. (See update below, they do have non-alcoholic options, they just were not currently listed on any of the menus.)

Did I mention it is really loud? Sound baffling also must have been a low priority. For someone like myself, with incipient tinnitus from too many loud rock shows, it’s kind of a nightmare. Nearly deafening.

So, it’s an interesting addition to the neighborhood, but the noise level probably makes it not really my scene on busy nights, (which, fortunately for them, seem to be most nights,) despite the good beer and some off menu non-alcoholic drink options.

Updated 09.11.2016:

Received from following comment via instagram from one of the owners of Old Devil Moon. They do have some non-alcoholic options, you just have to ask. Next time.

“For the record, Old Devil Moon has all the nonalcoholic beverages any full liquor bar has, and more, including a variety of juices, ginger beer, and sodas (we even have grapefruit and clementine Izzy on the soda gun), as well as nitro coffee. Obviously, it’s been packed on the opening days after articles came out in several major online publications in SF. We’ve had families and kids in there every day during the early hours, regardless. We’ve been thrilled by the reception we’ve gotten from the neighborhood, almost to a person the locals we’ve heard from are super excited to have us here. If you give us another try, next time you’re in ask a bartender about drinks. Also, in the future when you do your write ups, consider reaching out to the owners or managers of the venues to verify your information, I would’ve been more than happy to have spoken with you via email or in person. Cheers and hope to see you in ODM again!”

Old Bus Tavern 09.09.2016

For my first field trip under the aegis of “The Reluctant Teetotaler”, I decided to pitch myself a softball.

Old Bus Tavern is a local brewpub myself and my wife frequent regularly. Recently Rachel Leiderman, who I worked with for several years on the Savoy Cocktail Book nights at Alembic Bar, started working there. She knows I haven’t been drinking, and is quite non-drinker friendly.

Old Bus Tavern is an unusual “Brewpub” in that the food is a bit more on the modern side, rather than the usual burger and fries brewpub fare. They are also one of the restaurants taking advantage of California’s “Type 75” license. If you have an onsite, small volume brewery, this license allows you to also sell hard liquor based cocktails, at a fraction of the cost of a regular “Type 47” license, which are very hard to come by in San Francisco.

One of our favorite newer restaurants in the city, it’s a fun place with good food, good beer, and good cocktails. A little expensive, maybe, but what can you do, we live in San Francisco, where it is nearly impossible to even get a decent lunch for under $10.

0% ABV at Old Bus
0% ABV at Old Bus

Old Bus has a section of the menu devoted to their “O% ABV” drinks. They usually have a seasonal soda.

Honey, Champagne Vinegar, Citrus, Soda.
Honey, Champagne Vinegar, Citrus, Soda.

In this case, their most recent soda has honey, Citrus, Champagne Vinegar, and soda water. It is quite refreshing, tart, and not too sweet. Dig the basil leaf garnish.

Ginger Juice, Citrus, Walnut Bitters.
Ginger Juice, Citrus, Walnut Bitters.

Rachel also made me something she’s been enthusiastic about since a friend turned her on to the “Thad Vogler Method for Ginger Juice”. That is, you take an equal amount by weight of sugar, ginger, and water. Either run it through a juicer or just puree it in a food processor and put it through a china cap. This drink was pretty basic, a fair amount of the ginger juice, some citrus juice, and a few dashes of Fee’s Walnut bitters on top. The Walnut bitters and ginger were an unexpectedly good combination.

Rachel also pulled out a bottle of a German non-alcoholic aperitif she recently discovered. It bears the unfortunate name of “Riemerol” (named after its creator Mr Riemerschid and I presume Aperol), it is a non-alcoholic Orange and Quinine based bitter. She made a drink with Riemerol, Citrus, and Soda water. Pretty tasty, a slightly bitter orange soda.

If you’re in Bernal Heights, Old Bus is not only the place to go for food, beer, and cocktails, but also for non-alcoholic drinks.

041.OnceInRoyalDavidsCity

My general process for these hymns is as follows:

  1. First I transcribe the SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass) hymn from the hymnal to a program called MuseScore.
  2. Using MuseScore, I transpose the parts from SATB to the 4 clarinet parts.
  3. I count the measures and generate a click track for the hymn in Audacity, so I can keep in sync with myself.
  4. At this point I play through the parts with only Soprano Clarinet, top to bottom, to get a rough idea of the melody and feel of the hymn. Also, if there are any serious technical challenges.
  5. After the initial recording, I usually let myself think about it for a day, or at least a period of hours, letting ideas about phrasing and tempo percolate.
  6. I start with the bass clarinet part and build the hymn from the bottom up, finishing with the Melody/Soprano part. Lately, I’ve been playing through the hymns at least twice.
  7. I mix these parts, panning them to different points in the left sound field.
  8. Then I repeat, starting again from the Bass Part and mix them to percentage pans of the right sound field.
  9. Finally, I tweak the mix, remove the click track, apply an Audacity reverb effect, and export the parts to mp3 and wav.
  10. On to the next hymn!

The whole process probably takes 4 hours per hymn, more or less, depending on the complexity and length.

After finishing the first rough recording of Number 43, “Once in Royal David’s City”, I had an impulse to mess around a bit with Audacity Effects on that track.

I’d been reading about creating distortion effects, using the Leveller and Compression effects, so I started there.

Leveller x3
Compression

At this point, I was kind of thinking it sounded pretty synth-esque, so I applied some more effects to increase the plasticity.
WahWah
Phaser
Inversion

It was now pretty cool, sounding a bit like the Stranger Things sound track, but there was something that I was thinking. It sort of had the character of the music I associate with Nintendo games, but it needed to be faster.
Change Speed 2x

Ah, yes, now that brings a smile to my face.

Ahem, and now, with “Once in Royal David’s City”, we return you to your regularly scheduled Lutheran Hymns played on clarinets.

Name: IRBY.
Meter: 8 7, 8 7, 77.
Tempo: Slowly. May be sung in unison.
Music: Henry J. Gauntlett, 1805-76
Text: Cecil Frances Alexander, 1823-95

The music is a bit folky, but the text of this hymn is not a super-awesome, I especially like how in verse three Alexander slips in some suggestions for how Christian children should behave.

“And through all his wondrous childhood
He would honor and obey,
Love and watch the lowly maiden,
In whose gentle arms he lay;
Christian children all must be
Mild, obedient, good as he.

Perhaps he was going through some tough times at home.

Here’s the clarinet arrangement: 041-onceinroyaldavidscity

For the hymn proper, I took the usual tack, doubling all parts. Since the hymn is a bit busy, I used the “Medium Room” Reverb effect, instead of the usual “Church Hall”.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

We Must Drink Something

Talkative old lady (drinking a glass of milk, to enthusiastic teetotaler, who is doing ditto), “YES, SIR, SINCE THEY’VE BEGUN POISONING THE BEER, WE MUST DRINK SOMETHING, MUSN’T WE!”

Reluctant Teetotaler
Talkative old lady (drinking a glass of milk, to enthusiastic teetotaler, who is doing ditto), “YES, SIR, SINCE THEY’VE BEGUN POISONING THE BEER, WE MUST DRINK SOMETHING, MUSN’T WE!”

040.TheFirstNoel

Please turn to number 40 and join with the clarinets in “The First Noel”.

Name: THE FIRST NOWELL.
Meter: Irregular. With Refrain.
Tempo: With Spirit
Music: Traditional English Carol
Text: Traditional English Carol

Another true Christmas Warhorse and another enjoyable song to play.

From the wikipedia:

The First Noel” (also written “The First Noël” and “The First Nowell“) is a traditional classical English Christmas carol, most likely from the early modern period, although possibly earlier.[2][3] Noel is an Early Modern Englishsynonym of “Christmas“.[4]
In its current form, it is of Cornish origin, and it was first published in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Carols (1833), both of which were edited by William Sandys and arranged, edited and with extra lyrics written by Davies Gilbert for Hymns and Carols of God. Today, it is usually performed in a four-part hymn arrangement by the English composer John Stainer, first published in his Carols, New and Old in 1871.[2] Variations of its theme are included in Victor Hely-Hutchinson’s Carol Symphony.

The melody is unusual among English folk melodies in that it consists of one musical phrase repeated twice, followed by a refrain which is a variation on that phrase. All three phrases end on the third of the scale. It is thought to be a version of an earlier melody sung in a church gallery setting; a conjectural reconstruction of this earlier version can be found in the New Oxford Book of Carols.[5]

Clarinet Arrangement: 040.TheFirstNoel

Doubled all parts and went with the “Medium Room” Audacity Reverb Effect, as I’ve been feeling slightly self conscious, thanks to some facebook comments from alleged friends, about over using the more extreme reverb settings. Which do you prefer? Are the “Church Hall” type reverb effects distracting?

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

039.GoodChristianMenRejoice

Please turn to number 39 and join with the clarinets in “Good Christian Men Rejoice”.

Name: IN DULCI JUBILO
Meter: Irregular
Tempo: Smoothly, in quiet time
Music: XIV cent. German Melody
Text: Medieval Latin Carol
Tr. John Mason Neale, 1818-66

Not sure why, but I find this music strangely moving. Maybe I’m just getting the hang of playing hymns on the clarinet or something. I do seem to enjoy the older hymns the most…

Clarinet arrangement:039.GoodChristianMenRejoice

Doubled all parts and applied the usual Audacity reverb “Church Hall” effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal

038.LoHowARoseEErBlooming

Please turn to number 38 and join with the clarinets in “Lo How a Rose E’Er Blooming”.

Name: ES IST EIN’ ROS’ ENTSPRUNGEN.
Meter: 7 6, 7 6, 6 7 6.
Tempo: Tenderly
Music: Geistliche Kirchengesang, Cologne, 1599
Text: XVI cent.
Tr. St. 1,2 Theodore Baker, 1851-1934
St. 3, Harriet R. Krauth, 1845-1925
St. 4, John Caspar Mattes, 1876-1948

Another of my personal favorite hymn melodies!

The text is thought to be penned by an anonymous author expressing fulfillment of the prophecy ofIsaiah 11:1 The piece first appeared in print in the late 16th century. The hymn has been used by both Catholics and Protestants, with the focus of the song being Mary or Jesus, respectively.[1] In addition, there have been numerous versions of the hymn, with varying texts and lengths. In 1844, the German hymnologist Friedrich Layriz (de) added three more stanzas, the first of which, Das Blümelein so kleine, remained popular and has been included in Catholic hymnals.[2]

The tune most familiar today appears in the Speyer Hymnal (printed in Cologne in 1599), and the familiar harmonization was written by German composer Michael Praetorius in 1609.[1]

Here’s the clarinet arrangement: 038.LoHowARoseEErBlooming

I doubled each clarinet part and added the usual audacity “Church Hall” Reverb effect.

Red Service Book and Hymnal
Red Service Book and Hymnal