Monday, May 23, 2011

X-Tension Chords' Hiatus to End at Mile-High Hoedown

After 2010's mournful "Year without the X-Tension Chords" at the ACE Conference in St. Louis, maybe you wondered whether they were gone forever.

Well, wonder no more! A 1-year hiatus just means those plucky pluckers can legitimately kick off their reunion tour--relaxed, reconstituted, rehabbed, and most of all re-committed to bringing you the sort of fun, entertaining dance music that will get your feet tapping, your legs moving, and your blood pumping. It's just what you need after a full day of sitting in chairs listening to stimulating presentations on moodle, memes, and communities of practice.

Practice? We don't need no stinkin' practice!

We just play the music, and you just dance. Got it?

You'll notice a few new faces on stage this year, and you'll miss a few old favorites ("Who're you calling 'old'?!?!" shout Owen and John-Boy) -- Hey, it's a different band every year! -- but you're sure to like what you hear, no matter what.

Look for the X-Tension Chords at the Hospitality Suite and various other venues over the course of this year's ACE/NETC conference, and watch this blog for new Band Profiles.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Local Fame Dogs the Smilin' Bluesman

Oregon State University' Life@OSU series recently posted video and written profiles on the slide-steel side of Learning Technology Leader and X-Tension Chords star, the smilin' bluesman, Jeff Hino.

Check it out --

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lady Rocks the House: Janet Allen (Band Profiles, Part VI)

Soulful chanteuse Janet Allen started singing before she could spell "USDA" -- before she could walk, even -- and she's always been happy to share her talent with family and friends. Christian music was her favorite right from the start. Age 13 saw her first formal performance, singing in a church choir, and you'll still find her there of a Sunday morning. Or at least you will be until someone on the board of elders stumbles across this blog and find out about her rock and soul alter-ego. (Don't Google me, bro!)

But on with the story. With Janet's teen years came voice lessons in high school, which led naturally enough to a music major in college, and then of course to -- wait a minute -- "a job at USDA?" Yes, folks, it was then that the still, small voice of Practicality (a concept one or two of us in the band have heard stories about) that cleared its throat, says Janet, and subtly suggested that "it might be better to work at a reasonably stable job with retirement than possibly bus tables on Broadway til age 50, still trying to 'make it big.' " Yeah, well you can take the singer out of the pipeline to fame, but you can't take the pipes out of this singer. Or something like that. And so say we all, right?

Since college, Allen has kept her chops up as a nights-and-weekends warrior. For a while she was vocalist with a top-40 cover band, but soon she and her husband, Ralph, split off from the group to make their own duo act, 2-4-U. It's a partnership that has worked out well both for the music and for the parties involved. Janet and Ralph play a range of rock, swing, hymns, country music, and jazz standards, performing mostly for private parties: anniversaries, birthdays, fraternal organizations, second (and occasionally first!) weddings. They've slowed down their performance schedule a bit lately so they can concentrate on their latest hit -- one-year-old son Conner, whom some of you met at ACE this June in Traverse City.

But not even a dozen babies could keep Janet from any true rocker's dream gig: a once-a-year engagement belting out the classics with the all-star international line-up of the ACE X-Tension Chords! She's been a regular with the band, adding her own vocal je ne sais quoi since Quebec City. We may have been playing with smoke and mirrors at Traverse City this year, but Janet Allen's voice is the real thing all the way through. Truly smokin'!

Monday, July 28, 2008

X-Tension Chords Shorts

In Traverse City, it appears, the cows come home at midnight. That’s what the X-Tension Chords and their fans learned at Shimmers nightclub when the witching hour rolled around to put an end to June 11th and an amazing night of dancing, fun, and rock ’n roll. This was the ’Chords 5th year performing at ACE, 4th time appearing in a pre-arranged room, 3rd time with a dance floor, 2nd time with a full PA (and official nametag ribbons), and 1st time with lights, fog, and a disco ball. True, we felt like we could have played another hour or two, but the early quitting time probably made for a more productive next day at the conference. Props to all the performers, “fifth Beatle” Randy Nemitz, and the crew at Shimmers.

An email note from the rental outfit that provided PA and most of our instruments: “I hope to work with you guys [sic] in the future! It’s very nice to get to work with people who are not jerks. Your band was by far one of my better gigs!” Clearly, the band has to work on its attitude.

The ’Chords Unplugged had its first performance on an Opera House stage the next night, opening for the house band. We started out a little shakey, but got going pretty quick with a set of blues and folk, and a little yodel tossed in here and there. Thanks go out to Debbie Hagenmeier and the conference planners who secured the gig for us, and to Judy Harrison & Swing Shift who so generously let us use their PA equipment. Also to 'Chords newcomer Brad Haire, who joined us on stage. My biggest fear was that I’d step up to the mic and see everything in our meager repertoire written down on Swing Shift’s set list, taped to the floor next to the mic stand.

Now everybody is practicing at not pronouncing our "S"s in preparation for next year's gig. All we can say is, “Look out, Des Moines!”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Top Ten Reasons . . .

For those of you who missed it, here are the Top Ten Reasons for having the X-Tension Chords play at the ACE conference (as read at the 2008 ACE Business Meeting in Traverse City, Michigan):

Reason #10. Five years of performances without a drummer blowing up.

Reason #9. Eric Estrada is not in the band.

Reason #8. Canadians are nice people to have around.

Reason #7. Proper use of Extension Chords can slow global warming!

Reason #6. They speak of the pompatus of love.

Reason #5. Two words: Rock and Roll.

Reason #4. They make you feel so young . . . by comparison.

Reason #3. Longest standing "community without practice" in eXistence.

Reason #2. John-boy is still kicking out the jams.

And the number-one reason to have the ACE X-Tension Chords play at an ACE conference:

They play real good, for free.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

After Midnight

Well . . . maybe only 10 minutes after midnight, but still . . .
Click below to see a few snaps of the 'Chords plugged-in gig Wednesday night, June 11:

XTC2008 Rocks

Friday, June 6, 2008

X-Tension Chords 5th Anniversary Tour

Get ready, folks: It's almost time for the ACE MuSIG to make some noise! The ACE X-Tension Chords is plugging in again, as we rock the Lower Peninsula and get that big Michigan hand clapping with the beat!

Get ready for a rockin' night at Shimmers nightclub Wednesday night, when the Chords' Compact Electric Edition will have you dancing from 9 pm into the wee hours with many of the few rock standards that we know, and maybe a few we don't. Then Thursday's "Night at the Opera" dinner will see the Chords' Unplugged Edition opening for local musical sensations Judy Harrison & Swing Shift.

It's a great complement to the excellent educational and networking opportunities that we all really come to ACE Conferences for. Really.

So be there with your dancing shoes on -- or off, if you prefer -- and remember as you cut the rug that it's the heat, it's not the humidity . . . and it's certainly not anyone's age!

Have a great trip to Michigan, and we'll see you all there!