Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saturday Session - Housekeeping

Woke up at 6 am, showered, and went downstairs to the studio. Worked from about 6:30 to 11, then I had to take care of things in the real world. I finished cataloging all my songs and found only three that do not have any recorded version: "Don’t Let Me Down", "Roll Your Way (version 2)" and "See You Tonight (version 2)". I'll have to rectify that in short order. I also updated my recording chart logs for the last 6 or songs I have recorded. I ran across some idea clips and put them in the Bits and Pieces folder. This was all time consuming although it doesn't seem like much. My complete list of songs is now on the blog as a page under "Catalog" where I have attempted to list the year the song was written and a co-writer if there was one.

98 Songs total. When I figure out how to format the page better I will identify which ones are good enough to be played. I will also identify the ones I am going to record now.

I did get a chance to work on some vocals. I am still having trouble with the bridge in "Looks Like Rain". I think I will have to change the wording just a bit so I don't have to jump to that note with the word "rain". I played around with the choir part on "Sweet Celebration". When I can get it charted I'll get some vocals from my daughters and their husbands so it won't sound like a bunch of Steves :)

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I've been rehearsing some of my cover songs, working on playing and singing. I have also been going through all of the computer files I have of lyrics, mp3s, imported cassettes, etc. I have a lot of duplicate records which I am consolidating so I have only one version of each thing. It was fun listening to some of the old Blackstone rehearsals (circa 1981). I figured out how to save all of the TASCAM recording data to files on my PC. So I have backed up everything off the TASCAM studio.

I am cataloguing all of my songs with an approximate year it was written and a co-writer if any. I'll post that once I have it compiled. A lot of the old songs aren't worth anything but the learning experience. But some of these old songs make it into new songs. And a song is never finished. Even while recording "Must Be Love", "Sweet Celebration", and "Looks Like Rain" I was changing a word or a line here and there. There's a good 25-30 I feel are good enough to play in public.

I plan on doing some more recording this weekend. I want to play around with remixing "Sweet Celebration" I definitely want to redo the choir stuff at the end so it doesn't sound like a bunch of Steves :) If I can transcribe it to notes I may get Branson, Kate, and Nancy to sing the choir stuff with me. I definitely need to scratch most of the other songs and start over.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"Looks Like Rain" demo

I have a good vocal-guitar demo of "Looks Like Rain". There is one place in the bridge that I'm doing something with the vocal that I don't like, but it captures what the song sounds like so I have a record of it. That's the main goal right now.

I got out my old Yamaha DX27 synthesize and fooled around with some of the basses but didn't find one I liked the sound of.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

NASI Meeting

I spent a good part of the day in the studio. Wednesday I attended the monthly Salt Lake meeting NASI songwriters meeting. I had hoped to play "Looks Like Rain" and get feedback from the group but I didn't get the chance. There were a about 30 attendees and 12 or so wanted to perform their songs. The lesson part went to about 8:30 and I had to leave around 9. I listened to a few good songs and had to leave. Rich Parkinson gave a seminar on recording and gave me a good idea about using a mic behind the guitar. So that's what I did today. I put an SM57 and an AKG vocal mic in front of the guitar and my Audio Technica condenser mic behind my shoulder. I spent a few hours recording "Looks Like Rain" and I think I'm getting some of the best acoustic guitar sounds yet. Then I spent some time working on a second guitar part to make it fuller.

Monday's a holiday so I plan to record the two guitar parts and put a vocal track on it. It will be a good demo at that point. I've been thinking of drum and bass tracks for "Looks Like Rain" and other production and arrangements ideas. I have a synth thing running in my mind for "Us". I hope to spend some time programming some drum tracks on Monday as well. I'll start brushing off "Don't Let Me Down" and "See You Tonight" and reheasring them.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Basement Construction

This is the basement sometime in August 2009

This is the studio during construction:

This is the basement in November complete with the giant flat screen! LOL

And this is the cleaned and organized studio!

So this past weekend I did some recording.I wrote the song "Us" for my oldest daughter's wedding in September 2009. I had played it just enough to memorize it and had not played it since. I FORGOT the bridge and could not find the notebook I had written it in. I was in a panic about that because it has a lot of notes and ideas for songs. But I did find it and with some playing around on the guitar I recalled the bridge melody. Yay! So I recorded it this weekend along with a song I wrote back in 2001 "Peace Will Come". So that's two down! The songs left are:

Don't Let Me Down
Looks Like Rain
See You Tonight (2000 version)
Roll Your Way (2001 version)

When I get these down I will have 90 songs recorded. Statistically, I should have at least one or two you will like! In 1985 I recorded about 15 songs at Grace Recording Studios in New Haven, CT. I also had a 4-track cassette in the late eighties but I lost most of those tapes. Most of the songs were recorded using old cassette decks like these so the sound quality is pretty poor:

Friday, February 5, 2010


I've decided to start blogging to this blog that was set up six months ago. I keep hoping I can have everything ready and then put it up, but I'm finding it doesn't work that way. So let me catch you up to where I am today. Last August I attended the Summer Jam West three day conference and got fired up to really do something with my music. There were great workshops taught by industry professionals. I will post my Summer Jam pictures and more information later. I was in the middle of finishing my basement at the time (I will post some pictures of that, too) and was jazzed to get started as soon as it was finished. My son, Andrew (also an awesome singer/songwriter/guitarist) created the framework for this blog. Today is the first day I have signed in!

The basement was finished at Thanksgiving when the whole family descended on our home. It was wonderful! We had a fantastic time eating, playing Settlers, eating, playing Puerto Rico, eating... whoohoo! My studio area was filled with all of the stuff we previously stored in the basement (photos coming), so that became the next project. By Christmas it was emptied fairly well. Now all the stuff is in Nancy's camper in the garage. She's about ready to get back to restoring it, so the next project will be to organize the garage.

Despite having protected the room with plastic barriers, everything was very dusty from the sheet rock. The new project then was to clean everything and set up the studio. That is done! My equipment was never so clean. It's great. So I began recording.

First order of business was to pick songs. I went through all my recordings and identified six songs that have never been recorded in any format whatsoever. So I am making acoustic demos of those songs first. It's a bit frustrating because I have all these production ideas in my head, but I don't have a band, I can't play all of the instruments, and I am still challenged using all of the effects in the recording mixer. I have 100 times more recording and engineering gear in my digital workstation than the Beatles had when they made Abbey Road. So it's got to be possible to get a professional sound. My recordings are getting better.

I got the mixer in the summer of 2008 and immediately starting recording "Sweet Celebration" and naively thought I could get a release quality mix. It's got the guitars, bass, drums, cool piano, and the Steve backing choir. I'm satisfied with the vocal and very pleased with the guitar solo. It is washed with reverb and sounds like you are in the shower. I recorded several other songs with basic band backup and a bunch acoustic with me singing harmonies. They do demo the song, but are far from what I would want anyone to keep permanently.

Since then I've gotten better. I bought two professional recording microphones, studio near-field speakers, and upgraded the sequencing software to create drum sequences. But I'm not quite there. I recently recorded a cover of "Still You Turn Me Own" by Greg Lake so I can compare my recording effects (room space) to his and see if I can get close. I have about 10 mixes and it's getting closer. Once I have that, I can record acoustic vocal demos that will sound "real" and be mastered together fairly evenly. I've got about 15-20 songs I'll demo and want to eventually get full arrangements on.

We're moving forward!