All About


Press Kit

Poster Gallery


Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Hey Everybody out there in Banjosnake land!

Just wanted to let you know that a "new band" and "art collective" has formed in the most roundabout and subtle of ways...

Les Nouveau Antiquarians is myself, my wife Kim Treiber-Thompson, and cellist Mark Dudrow. We've actually played several gigs at this point, usually billed under our names alone (once we were accidentally billed as the "Kim Treiber Trio" and she wanted to slink under the table she was so embarassed!).

Anyway, we play a pretty eclectic, mostly acoustic mix of all that we're capable of: my original folk-n-roll songs, Kim's country honky-tonk numbers, Mark's classical and multi-ethnic 'cello, a few choice cover tunes, and weird experimental mish-mashes of all the above. Not only that, but we collectively promote our non-musical art: Kim's photography, Mark's ceramic work, and my own fine and poster art.

We formed as an expedient group to do a couple of lightweight gigs last autumn, and we had such a good time that we decided to keep on doing it... not to mention (from my own point of view) that I can't help but see us as three-fourths of my own new Chipper Thompson and The Feast line-up, playing my own electric folk-n-roll when the time is right.... Soon, I promise... soon... hell, I like the name so much I may retire "The Feast" as my own band name and just use this!

Anyway, keep your eyes sharp as Mark and Kim and I are on the prowl, booked to play various upcoming gigs here in wonderful Taos, New Mexico, and all around the northern New Mexico-southern Colorado region. Not to mention our collective art opening at the Stables Art Center in Taos on December 4, 2009, where all our art will be shown and sold, and we'll play a short musical show as well. Watch for Le Nouveau Antiquarians on my "gigs" page... now that you know who we are!

Take care everyone, and I'll see you around, supporting local and regional music and art at its finest!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Artistic Economies, Part Two

Let me relate to you something that recently happened to a band I'm in. A venue that had often hired us in the past called to book more gigs, citing that we'd been bringing in a lot of people for them, and they liked us. We told them this:

"You don't even pay us enough that each band member grosses a hundred bucks for a three-hour show (not counting travel time, set-up time, and break-down time). We drive at least 140 miles round-trip to play your venue, and two of our band members drive about 280 miles. You don't give us any free food or drink, and you won't let us drink - not even water or a soft drink! - on stage. You make us drag our gear in through the kitchen. We have to pay to park, and at our last gig, you were so clueless you presented us with a performance contract - which you'd never needed from us before - in the middle of a set, in front of the audience!"

If we were going to play for them again, we asked (politely) for a raise to a hundred dollars a man, per gig. We wanted a parking pass for each vehicle. We each wanted a hamburger and a Coke. And, at the end of the gig, we wanted - if it was available - a room for our 280-mile bandmembers.

They wouldn't give us any of it.

A similar thing happened at another venue: I asked the booking agent, who also manages the food service at the joint, if he'd be willing to throw in a meal for each of us before the show. I said that I'd recently eaten a decent meal there, and that even with a tip it had only cost me ten bucks (thank goodness!). I figured that his raw materials must only cost a couple of dollars per plate, and he couldn't imagine how much goodwill he'd generate just by feeding us. He hung his head, deeply embarassed.

"I was doing that on my own when I took this job," he said. "I figured who would care? But when the boss found out, he nearly fired me! I'm so sorry, buddy, but this isn't the time to ask."

Really? He was nearly fired for feeding bands ten bucks worth of second-rate ground beef and a few fries? What the hell is the world coming to? And who's running this place?

Part of the impetus for this post is that a few nights ago, my lovely wife and I went out to dinner after a day's work - to a nice place, but far from the fanciest in town. She got a steak. I got a hamburger. We both had one glass of wine. The bill was ten bucks more than I gross in an entire day's work at the straight job. The point is that I ain't ever gonna be able to afford that house by the river if I can't afford a goddamn hamburger.

Playing music "for a living" is a lot like what Woody Allen says about sex: when it's good, it's great, and even when it's bad it's still pretty good. Most of the venues that I play treat me like a human being. They feed me, water me, and usually don't make me drag my gear in through the kitchen. Sometimes I play for a room full of indifferent drunks, but there's almost always at least one person out there who seems to "get it."

I've always had grandiose dreams, and I think a few of 'em are still alive (I don't know... maybe they're on a respirator). Mostly I'd like to make my living in full by creating art. This is not an issue of feeling superior to those around me... in fact, I feel more half-baked and humble by the day. It's just that for better or worse, LOTS of people can do the wall-painting, lightbulb-changing job that I do at the nursing home, but only I can do what I do: play my songs, write my stories, paint my pictures.

As I get older, I'll be glad to appreciate the little things more, and happily settle for less. I'll find more joy in wind in aspen leaves and mountian streams that I will in crap I buy at Wal-Mart. As it is, I live in a healthy, comfortable home. I have health insurance, even though it costs me a fortune and the deductible is about ten hundred thousand dollars per doctor visit. I have lots of guitars to play with, and books to read, and a TV to watch when I cave in to temptation. I eat well (too well!). I don't think I need to be famous anymore, although I'm sure fame has its perks. And more to the point, I don't need to be rich. I just need to comfortably get by without getting up in the damn dark and coming home so exhausted I don't even have the energy to make love to my wife, five days a week.

This past weekend, I played a gig every night. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. The audiences seemed to like it. I had fun. And I made about a hundred bucks a night. Figuring set-up and break-down time, plus three hours of music, that's about twenty bucks an hour. Not stellar wages, considering the investment of years and years to learn how do play like I do, but not terrible wages either. The straight job isn't near as fun, and pays me half as much.

I'll never get rich on that kind of money, and I'll still never be able to afford that house by the river. But if I could play music five days a week, and get paid that same hundred bucks a gig, at least I wouldn't have to sit in this place that stinks of shit and decay, exhausting myself so deeply that I can't make any art; somebody else who really needs it - and will like and appreciate it - can have this job; and I can quit ranting about how artists in America are treated like dogs and get on with making music for a change. Hell, after these last two blogs, maybe somebody'll give me some gigs just to shut me up.

Anybody need to hire a band?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Artistic Economies, Part One

When you can't remember who you are, and all you can see is the view from the top of the cliff - with your toes hanging over the edge and the wind pushing your back - it's time to make a change.

I started my "straight job" here at the nursing home on Monday, January 5, 2009, just in time to coincide with the apparent economic meltdown. I say "apparent" because when I hear about companies like Goldman-Sachs posting quarterly earnings of 3.4 BILLION DOLLARS and granting an average of $700,000.00 per employee in bonuses, I have a hard time believing that our economy's bad behavior is simply the natural order of things... but that's another post.

In some ways, this year so far has been very good for me. I've mentioned before that I haven't had a straight job in almost 20 years, and after nearly seven months of working in the "real world" my bills are more-or-less paid, and I'm in better physical shape than I've been in a long time. My understanding of and empathy for the millions of people who have utterly no choice in the matter and will work like this for the rest of their lives has never been higher - these folks are all my potential fans, and every folk-based musician needs a big damn dose of humility in the faces of those who work a lot harder and longer and for less pay than a famous artist, and then spends their money and energy to come hear us sing and play. Hats off to you, workers - and fans - of the world.

But that implies that I'm making any money as an artist or getting more than locally famous. I'm not, to speak of. Most of our gigs barely pay for themselves, and they sure as hell don't go very far toward paying the bills. I've had a pretty big, healthy reality check, and the working and living conditions of most of the people of the world have snapped into focus for me... as bad as it is, I know I have it better than most. With a "refresher course" in what straight jobs are like on a day-to-day basis, my enthusiasm for getting my artistic career together is about as great as it's ever been, but I just don't seem to have the time, or the energy, to do it. No wonder people who have nothing else in their lives but drudgery go home every day and watch mindless TV, eat potato chips and deep-fried Twinkies, lose themselves in fundamentalist religion, and run up their credit-card debt. I feel really productive if I practice one day a week and read one book a month! How am I ever gonna get that house by the river I want?

I'm not sure where I read it, but someone once said that what an artist needs more than anything else to ply his trade is large amounts of unstructured time. If you don't have it, you ain't gonna create art. Aleister Crowley said something like, "You don't come home from a job like that and write epic poetry." Richard Thompson said something like, "'s hard to convince people you're working when you're sitting in a coffee shop staring out the window, but if you're a songwriter, that's exactly how it goes." I'm working 8 - 10 hours a day at the nursing home. On the weekends, I usually gig at least two nights. Where is that unstructured time? And tell me again when I'm supposed to sleep?

I've written enough songs to make three or four new albums, but I don't have (or is it haven't made?) the time to get in the recording studio. I've written a novel that is as yet unpublished, despite untold query letters. I've got artwork sitting around my studio, framed and ready to be sold, and no galleries will take it (even though they say they like it) claiming that with times as tough as they are, "...we're not only taking on no new artists, we're letting people go." What the hell are those Goldman-Sachs workers spending their bonuses on? Salami? Won't anybody actually pay for art in their lives anymore?

I've had those twenty years to get my act together, and even though I've spent a lot of it learning my art and writing songs and making all sorts of art, I didn't spend much time learning how to market myself, and I blame no one but me. Nor am I ashamed of the (non-artistic) work I'm doing. Better men than me have endured far worse and come out of it far better. Hell, if Bob Marley can work in factories in Delaware for months on end, I know I can survive until the end of July! But the wind is at my back, and as spectacular as the view from the edge of the cliff is, it's a long way down, and there's rocks below.

I don't know who I am anymore. I don't know what's gonna happen, but a change has Got. To. Come.

Photo Gallery

Buy Music

Buy Other Stuff




original artwork by Chipper Thompson

site by