Its always something…..

Planning (producing) a big band show has a lot of moving parts. First there is the venue which could be expensive or cheap, but could be all inclusive (lights sound etc) or just be a box. I have done both. Its true that the more you pay, the more you get, but the more you have to charge to attempt to break even.

Then there is the band. A pretty stable group that loves the music and is willing to play for less than a 4 piece combo or whatever, because they love to do what they do, and its a nice venue and we feed em supper. But there are at least 17 moving parts, all with “items of consideration” along with working conditions etc.

The singer(s). Sometimes an asset and sometimes not. Depends. Some will go out of the way to make sure the band is on point and ready and some who just consider the band part of the “crew” that makes things happen for them.  All different variations of the above.

Technical issues and having really good people to help you run a show is key. Find someone you depend on and trust and you can let a good bit of your worry go.

Once you have those issues along with the box office and tickets and the such, you have nailed down everything. Or so you think.


Then the venue calls 10days before the concert and says their ceiling is falling down in the theater and they wont have it fixed by the time for your concert. SHEEESH!!!  Its always something.

But thru the good graces of some really neat people, you find a wonderful venue that is cheaper and better and EVERYONE wants to have it there. Praise the Lord!!

So it all works out……..eventually. Mostly. Usually. But, its always something.



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Another Year, but a lifetime of experience……

So this year was only another 365 day trip around the sun in absolute time, but I learned more in this year than ever. I have dear friends and relatives dealing with serious health issues. I have turned over the Medicare age this year myself. I had a cardiac event and was snatched back from the clutches of heart disease by todays technology and the wonderful expertise of some very talented health care professionals. Saunders gpc Fall 2018I have had another health problem that when corrected made me much more ill and distressed getting over the procedure than I would have ever thought, yet I learned so much about myself and my wife and life in general. IMG_2655eI learned that our time here is fleeting, and that we must continue to strive for a goal while we are logo  I made an international trip to play music with a Jazz group that will remain in my memory forever as one of the most satisfying events, in spite of sleeping on the floor in the Miami airport and dealing with the transportation system here in the USA.IMG_0904

Music has become my future and I have several great groups of folks that allow me to play with them. I have produced another CD (with massive help from many folks) that is in my mind, the best thing I have ever done so far.Presentation1

We dont have much more time left here. Some leave sooner than others. So use it wisely and with care.SJ at velvet note Life is short. Tell people what you think. If you love them, tell them that. If not, find something you do like about them and mention horn un assembled

Lets go make some more music……because we want to.poster

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We are the total of everyone…..

Comes the end of another great year with great people and great experiences. As we get older, we tend to reflect more because we don’t know what the future will hold for us. What I do know, and am convinced of, is that the people that are dear to us make us better every day. Either from something they said that day or someway they influenced us in years past, we are all a conglomeration of our experiences with these dear folks. Family, of course, but interestingly sometimes its people that you interact with that don’t even know they have passed something on to you that changes you. Maybe its something big, maybe something seemingly insignificant, but it molds us into who and what we are. For that, I am truly grateful. For those moments, or thoughts, or deeds that might even go un noticed in casual evaluation, I am truly fortunate.
Albert Schweitzer had a saying about this (supposedly) which speaks to this compilation. Everyone thru their day loses their way, or their perspective, or their “spark” as he calls it. And we all become rekindled anew with our repository of inputs and experiences from our close influential companions. Let us all be thankful in this season of Joy and Hope for those that we hold dear, and those we have yet to meet, that will join in our life. Thank you, dear friends and compatriots and fellow travelers thru this time. God Bless us EVERYONE.

spark ignites

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Superman’s Cape is muddy…..


Last Wednesday, after the Labor Day holiday on Monday, and some technical problems with the water on Tuesday, I swam at the pool where I usually go. It was around noon and for that reason a lady that swims laps like I do, in speed and number, was there. She and I used to swim at the same time but our schedules have changed and I usually don’t see anyone there to swim with. When she showed up I was interested because swimming by oneself is a solitary pursuit.
Swimming is a solitary experience. I use big goggles and I use a snorkel and listen to my mp3 player so I am limited in interaction to others around me. If you happen to have someone swimming in the lane next to you, it becomes a form of entertainment and diversion. Otherwise those blue porcelain diamonds going by are pretty monotonous. Seeing this fellow swimmer again was therefore entertaining and a challenge.
She was swimming such that I was finishing up my workout . I usually swim 50 minutes and she usually swims 30 or so minutes. I swim freestyle and she uses breast stroke and freestyle. She was just starting so she was relatively fresh and moving along pretty well. I like to keep up with fellow swimmers as a motivational tool and so I was trying to keep up with her. She was a bit ahead of me on my last 2 lengths of the pool and I really had to swim hard to make it to the other end of the pool at the same time she did or even better, before. So, I was really digging and pulling thru the last 2 lengths of the pool. I reached the end about the same time she did and really felt it. “IT” was a tight sensation across my anterior chest and front of both arms but, well, I just finished a tough workout so “it” wasn’t that unusual to feel a bit of muscle soreness or tightness.
I got out of the water and proceeded to the car as usual and thought to myself how interesting that I had never had this soreness persist as much as it was today!! Must be getting older and need to pace myself!! By the time I had reached the house, I was fine. No SOB or nausea or radiating pain or an elephant on my chest. Just felt like I had worked out pretty hard.
Rest of the day was un eventful and although I had some “it “soreness, I did all my usual activities. Thursday was band rehearsal, and Friday morning, I proceeded to the pool in the am like normal. I swam my usual 50 minutes and interestingly enough, I didn’t stop or change any of my workout. The soreness seemed to work itself out a little as I swam more. When I got out, I had a little of “it” but nothing really remarkable except that I conveyed to my wife that I must have really busted it on Wed because I was still “sore”. Saturday was football day and I watched grandchildren play soccer and football. After that I loaded the BAND VAN with a little help from my wife and then suffered thru the Ga Vs Notredame game. I did go to bed at halftime when we were ahead!
Sunday morning I arose early, dressed, and proceeded to pick up a couple of band guys and went to the Yellow Daisy Festival and came home around 330. Still no more “it” but I did spend the rest of the day in the lazyboy watching football!!
Monday was occupied with Cabin fever because of the rain and disasters associated with the Hurricane. I usually drive to rehearsal in Clarkston but it was cancelled because the college was closed so I just sat at home and watchd the rain. Tuesday morning I got up and since the pool was open, was going to do my usual Monday workout on Tuesday. I arrived at the pool at 8 am and hopped in. I started swimming and immediately began to feel “it” which wasn’t there before I started. And “it” got worse. I wasn’t hungry for air but I felt a bit winded and after 10 minutes of increasing discomfort, I decided to stop.
Understand that I knew it might be a cardiac event (Im not stupid, I am a doctor) BUT “it” didn’t feel like any of the descriptions of myocardial pain that I had ever come across. I didn’t know, but reason said,”If it is a cardiac event, you are NUTS to ignore it!!!! Chest pain of a cardiac origin is usually described in the texts as crushing substernal pain centered but radiating to either arm or the neck, possibly associated with Shortness of breath and sometimes nausea. Mine was NOT like that. In fact as previously described, it was sort of underwhelming. Pressure, maybe. I come from a family of exercisers. Mom and Dad both had their regimens with Mom it was ballet and with Dad it was Softball, Swimming, YMCA ,Volleyball,and hand ball and finally as he got some mileage on his skeleton it was Jogging. So I have made exercise as part of my life all of my life. So I exercise regularly. I swim 2000 + yards (one nautical mile) three times a week and in the last year I have been riding a tadpole trike on the Silver Comet trail and at the park and local roads. I don’t smoke or drink and never have. My family history does not have any significant cardiovascular disease except my maternal grandfather (incidentally a surgeon) who had a fatal MI, but this was a number of decades ago. So I felt relatively protected from any significant coronary event. I was a bit proud of this. My wife, who was a registered dietitian tried to emphasize the right diet for us, although like most Americans, we would deviate from the plan a good bit. {Good intentions!} So cardiac risk wasn’t in the fore front of my mind.

So, begrudgingly, I got out of the pool and went to the car and drove home. Felt pretty good. “It” had gotten better in the ride home but had not gone away. So I called my MD and took a shower and left a message as to what to do.
Upon occasion in life, we get the feeling that we are immune to the risks and problems of “normal” people because if we actually immersed ourselves in the trouble of others and worried about that being an outcome for us, we would be immensely burdened. So, ignorance or acceptance of some risk and being a bit pragmatic is necessary to survive life in general. That doesn’t not imply that we should completely disregard choices and risky behavior, but just that we should acknowledge it for what it is and do our best to continue on, knowing that Superman occasionally got some mud on his cape Im sure!!
I live across the street from my doctor’s home and my office used to be across the street from his office. So we are friends. His wife and all of us are all neighbors. He came to practice about the same time I came to town so we are also professional compadres. He is a direct sort of person who calls it like he sees it and does not mince words if they are needed to be delivered directly. He is also one of the last great family doctors. I had fixed his daughters ACL when she tore it and, suffice it to say, we got along well. But he knows that I am a strong willed person and deals with that well.
I went to his office and they ran an EKG and there were some slight changes in the inferior leads from May and so we drew some “Markers” (specifically troponin etc) and he gave me the tubes and sent me to the lab at the hospital to Betty Sue and told me to go on home and if there were anything there, he would call me. Because I used to use this hospital and knew a lot of the folks there, he gave me the tubes and said take them to Betty Sue in the lab. I coached Betty Sue’s boy in baseball and my partner and I fixed her supracondylar elbow fracture when she “powdered it” in a fall. So Betty Sue is my friend.
Sure enough, I got a phone call within the hour and he said the troponin level was up and that I needed to be evaluated by Cardiology at the hospital. So I left my socks and went to the ED.
I was admitted by Donna, a dear friend from our old hospital days and worked up by a really competently appearing ER doc. My nurse, Ellen, I had almost hired to work for me in the mid 90’s so she and I hit it off well. More enzymes, more EKG, more blood (a process that was to continue through my hospitalization) IV fluids, heparin and admission to the “Telemetry Unit”. I was put in room 305 which was a room I was familiar with because the orthopedic patients used to all be on the 3rd floor. I was taken up to the room by Keith who was an old EMT buddy from way back so I was well taken care of.
All of the rooms in this hospital in the section I was housed were built as double occupancy rooms so that if the hospital needed to increase the number of beds, they could just roll another bed in. Some of the rooms on other floors were double occupancy, but orthopedic rooms and telemetry were almost always private. So I felt right at home. Familiar smells and sights were present. All my old nursing buddies were now supervisors and would pop in upon occasion and we would tell stories. So I was not alone. Also, the younger nurses I could identify with because of my years of teaching at KSU in the nursing program.
Entering the hospital these days, you are confronted with a tiered care environment. Starts with the Hospitalist who does what the Cardiologist says, and his PA, followed by the Supervisor Nurse and the Charge Nurse and the floor nurse and the nurse tech and so on….. So although it works well, it does not appear to be doing so !! LOL!!
The hospitalist came in and gave me another H & P eval (one of about 4 that I got with all the usual questions, (“do you smoke, drink, use recreational drugs…….”)and we decided that with all the evidence so far and a troponin level that was up, why would we NOT do a cath to see what was cooking.
Thru all this, I still had “it” but was in no way uncomfortable. They scheduled my cath for in the morning.
The telemetry area is not a place to rest. They were trying to “keep me alive” so the monitoring of vital signs and output and lab work etc. is there job. And they did it well, but left little time for sleep. In addition, although those hospital beds are infinitely adjustable, they still aren’t just like home

I sent my wife home at about 8pm thinking I could get some rest. Nope. Not in this unit. The freaking alarms that went off every time I moved, the electrodes on my chest , the IVF in my arm, and the ever present seemingly q2hr vital signs kept me from enjoying any significant rest. And there is nothing on TV on TUESDAY NIGHT!
The worst thing thru the night was the fluids. I have a touch of prostatic hypertrophy but it is well controlled with meds (which I didn’t have) and by not drinking much after 730pm. Here, they were pouring IVF into me with heparin at 100cc per hour, so the urinal and I became great friends!! !! I was using the urinal every 60 minutes or so.
Thankfully, with coming of 8 am the next day, things began to happen. More blood, Chest xray ,then a portable Echo cardiogram(where she really worked over my chest wall with that probe!!!) The Cardiologist came in, and after a brief conversation, we arrived at the conclusion that he would do a PCI thru my WRIST!!! OMG, the radial artery. No concerns about hematomas and hours of immobility from a femoral artery stick etc.
So, after a while they wheeled me down to the Cath lab. The Cath nurses were an efficient team and had a lot of experience and were the “A Team” in my mind. Not a moment or movement or instruction was wasted. I usually get very sick with any narcotics so they gave me only 1mg of Versed and it just relaxed me so I could get comfortable. The PCI (percutaneous cardiac intervention) itself was completely painless with only a couple of brief moments (less than a second) of arm burning then it was gone and I listened and watched the efficient machine of the Cardiologist and his team doing their job. Then it was over. Bam. A balloon and a stent on a 99% lesion RCA and it was fixed.
Immediately after the procedure, “it” pain was gone. And then I realized that I really had experienced some chest tightness, by the fact that I didn’t have it anymore!!!!
The rest of my visit there was very uneventful, which included another night of peeing every hour and no rest and crappy cable TV with alarms going off all the time with any movement, BUT, I felt great!!
Went home the next day on 4 meds which will be tapered in about 4 weeks to two….but I feel MAVELOUS!!
So, what is the big deal? Well, I really don’t want to tell this story ten thousand times over and over again. The talking points are this:
1. Nobody is invincible (ask Dr Fick….google it)
2. Listen to what your body is telling you
3. Pride in your education and abilities do NOT trump events as they occur.
4. Good friends are always good friends
5. People in health care are irreplaceable by any “system” on earth
6. Technology is amazing
7. Even if you don’t think it could happen to you, it can
8. Exercise and living “correctly” don’t prevent cardiac disease but it can make it easier to treat when it does happen and prevent permanent cardiac muscle damage, so do it anyway!!
9. God is Good. All the time. Thank you!!


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Its Been a Long,Long,Time…..

Been soooo busy. I guess that is a good excuse to use because it means that you have not been self absorbed enough to write a blog so the world can see what you are doing.
After a great summer full of two trips to the beach IMG_2078with grandkids and grandmother, and the sale of our mountain house, MIL has sold her house in Atlanta and moved up here with us. She has bought a house and we no longer have a one hour trip one way to see Great Grandma!!
We have watched thru a season of soccer and ballet and football with the tricycle motors. Takes one back a few years.
Have continued to scratch for bookings of our big band. We even recorded a new VOCAL CD with Laura Coyle and Toni Byrd and Roberta. sj lightsThe EJS BIG BAND performed in a great concert in Dalton and we have some really great new talent. Don Sipos is playing first tenor and Clay Duke has added himself to the singing corps with and band 2
I resumed playing in PTC with the PJE on first tenor due to illness on the part of the wife of their previous tenor player. I had played bari sax with them for years in the past. It’s a lot of fun.
The CD that we recorded was done again at Madlife Studios and Ryan is again producing and mixing the tracks. They sound great so far, but we are in the early lab stages.


Toni, Roberta , and Laura

The plans have been made and finalized to go to Portugal with the combo this next May and Toni Byrd has said she would go with us!!! So there is that……..mission of 6 portugal
Sunday, the BBC Big band (or the DON KASTEN BIG BAND) is playing without a singer (as requested) and offering some great jazz and patriotic tunes. WE do this every year and they seem to like it and it’s a fun gig.
Jason Passmore, a great friend and fabulous sax player, died this year and we are still a little shocked over the whole deal.IMGP5068 All the bands that I am in that he played with have raised over $6K for his family. We also played a benefit concert for him at the VELVET NOTE. I got to meet some great folks he knewl
I did some free form “busking” at the downtown plaza one night and it was good rehearsal. TODAY, I just got back from Hartsfield Atlanta Airport and the auditions that they held for players to play in the Airport for the arriving and departing passengers. Interesting. It was cold and wet and windy and OUTDOORS!!! Whatever happens to that will be OK.
Clay Duke was heard singing by one of his dads friends IMGP1584who wants to get together a R and B type band so John Houghton and I and another player (bone) somebody recruited are playing in a horn section in a band that plays all your favorites. So.that is coming up in October.
This season of life promises to be a lot of fun………….stay tuned.



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Guilt of the web blog…..

The weblog is a great place for me to put down my thoughts in a more complete way than FB or Twitter or whatever and to let “everyone” know what is going on with my music etc.  When things get really busy, however, I’m working and not writing.

So, booking a big band is a work/job in itself. Since the first of the year, I have booked and produced four events, all of which were well received but not great big moneymakers.

Back in November, we booked a fundraiser at the (Name deleted to avoid repercussion) and I made sure that we had confirmation about the date etc. because I had to sign some contracts and pay some monies to folks. I repeatedly asked for confirmation about the date and was told to go ahead in no uncertain terms.  So I went ahead, we had some rehearsals, got some new charts………and the venue “texted” me about 4 weeks before the gig and said they couldn’t “go forward, due to circumstances beyond their control”. Sheesh!!  So I’m out $2K and got no way to get it back!!  Thanks a lot!!!  So we move on to the next gig.

We played a great fundraiser for a High School and raised $1500 for their band program and it was a great rehearsal for a Country Club gig we have coming up.  We have another gig at the Yellow Daisy Festival coming up again and are working on some other dates. Just seems that a big band is not at the top of the general population’s preference.

EJS is booked in May and again in July.

I had a great trip to Portugal and played a Jazz Club, a number of churches and schools and had a great trip with the combo. You can see some pics at our FB page (Saunders Jones Music) and see all the fun times!  I hope to go back again next summer!!

So, we have not succumbed to life but have been swimming in soccer games, mission trips, church drama, etc. Life goes on!!!


Playing for a corporate gig at a Hotel in Atlanta


Playing a fundraiser


Toni Byrd at the fundraiser


Sax section


Toni, Roberta , and Laura


Roberta and the band

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Who says you cant play in a marching band as an adult??

I know there are a lot of drum and bugle corps out there and very good ones too. But Monday , on Craigs list and on FB there appeared this ad for 75 marching band players from 6am to 12 noon on Friday. Uniforms furnished, music furnished, Bkfst and Lunch furnished for a corporate gig.  $175 plus parking.

So, since I wasn’t doing anything else, I signed up. Many emails went out from the hiring guy who has a deal called the Patriot Brass, and they contract out bands for mostly veteran events. But this was a corporate deal. So…….off I went at Oh Dark Thirty to ATL.

78 of my closest musician friends and I all gathered in a classroom, were issued uniforms complete with hat and shako, and rehearsed, and at 11:15am or so, marched into this big room and played 2 tunes and marched out to a cadence. What fun!! Click on the links at the end for the video!!

hyatt-8hyatthyatt-7hyatt-4hyatt-3haytt-5hyatt-6the performance!!!              Marching in and the first song


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