Sunday, April 10, 2011

MARCH 2011 UPDATE


I’ve been busy this past month.  We started the South Jordan Singer-Songwriter Series and I did some recording. I recorded a Tim Pearce tune, writing some new songs, reworking some older songs, continuing lessons with Chuck Gilmore and Sony Acid Studio classes. And we saw a good show up in Logan. And there is always the choir.

Recommended Utah artists to check out:
Tim Pearce http://www.reverbnation.com/timpearce
Ryan Innes http://www.reverbnation.com/RyanInnes
Red Pete (Keith Callister)  http://www.reverbnation.com/redpete

New Ryan Innes tune – Long Fall From You!
You have to check this song out. This is by far the best tune I have heard to come out of the valley yet! Yes, I said the best ever. Not everyone out there is going it alone. Though it is not as common as one might hope, I have seen some good collaboration in the valley. Ryan teamed up with Caleb Blood to write “Long Fall From You” and then Ben Sorenson, and others to record this outstanding song. Everything is done just right, and it doesn’t hurt that Ryan has one of the smoothest, sexiest voices out there right now.

Collaboration
I haven’t done any real collaboration so far. I’ve had some good contact with a few over the Internet, but we haven’t gotten down to brass tacks and done any real work.  I’m grateful to John Revitte (www.reverbnation.com/johnrevitte) for his critique and suggestions for my lyrics to “That’s The Way It’s Supposed To Be.” I also ran it by Nancy and between both of their suggestions I have headed in a slightly different direction. It may end up being titled something else altogether!  When I have to explain what I am trying to say then I obviously have not expressed the lyrics correctly.

Some whining – I’ve been discussing with a few people my disappointment  with trying to get artists together and trying to build synergy and be involved with the music community. The problem may be that I am not promoting my music; in fact I am down playing it to the point where I did not put myself on bill for the Songwriter Series. I am not pursuing a full time career with music. I write songs, but not with the idea of recording a CD and touring; not with the thought of writing a #1 hit or studying what the industry is looking for now. I just write what comes to mind for me. Perhaps because I consider this a hobby for me and not my whole life I am perceived as “not real.” So I will focus on the Songwriter Series and see where that goes. I do love to perform and hoped to be supportive of younger and hungrier performers and to get some reciprocation for artists that I have set up for shows and hosted. I will set up the outdoor house shows so that I am more of the focus as a performer and make them more about “me” than others. Maybe I’ve been too “humble” and too successful at getting my ego out of the way.

South Jordan Singer-Songwriters Series
We have the first show set up for April 14 at the South Jordan Library. We put the word out, posted on some music sites and Face Book, and got some good response.  We invited three of the better ones to participate. When I started gathering bios and pictures to do promotion I got NO response from one of them. I was surprised an worried that something may have happened to her, but since then I have seen her on the bill at various places around town and she is posting on Face Book. So, sadly I realize that I’ve been blown off! That’s the strange kind of behavior I’ve been seeing. Part of it of course is the musician ego, and part of it is there are several cliques without much cross breeding and perhaps a little bit of competition. Some performers I find to be very courteous and friendly no matter if they are interested in what I am talking about. Others just ignore communications. The ones that baffle me are those that communicate sometimes and ignore others and generally don’t hand out “thank you”; it might tarnish their attitude. -OK, enough whining J

So we have three terrific artists lined up: Molly K Nye, Above Snakes, and Gregory Scott. There are many sitting in the wings for next shows. Molly is a young girl with a wonderful voice and a gift for writing songs. Above Snakes is Keith Callister and some buddies from Red Pete, Linus, and Starmy.

Tim Pearce Song!
It’s pretty obvious that I have been impressed with Tim and like his music a lot. One song in particular really strikes a chord and has some awesome riffing going on called “A Weary Soul to Get Me through the Day.” It is very cool and done in open D tuning. He basically wrote four lines which he repeats after an instrumental bridge. I wrote four lines and recorded my version so it uses his four lines, then the bridge, then my four lines. Time does the title line just once at the end of the song in a distorted, almost spoken and growling voice. I think that is an important line that adds real meaning and dimension to the thoughts expressed in the single lines. So I worked up a melody for it and repeat it twice over the bridge section. My bridge section riffing is also a little different than Tim’s; partly because I was having difficulty figuring out what Tim was playing and partly because I started to hear something a little different when I was working on it.

It’s always a little scary to cover someone’s song, let alone rework it and mess with it; especially when the writer does not know you are doing it. I was a little apprehensive when I showed it to Tim but he was pleased and said he liked the changes and my performance. You can check out his version on his site www.reverbnation.com/timpearce but I have to warn you that he does use the F-bomb.

RECORDING
I’ve been experimenting for quite some time with microphones and placement for recording the acoustic guitar and vocals. For the guitar I have settled in on an arrangement that gives me an acoustic guitar sound I like. I place the SM57 near the 12th fret about 4” away. The AKG is set up in front to my right pointing directly at the front of the guitar about 6” away. I set the AT Vocal condenser microphone about head height center and about 18” away. This gives a really good guitar sound and I usually do vocals separate with AT about 18” from my mouth. But if I can play the song live without mistakes I get a much better sound because the vocal track leaks into the guitar microphones giving a fuller sound. But I can’t go back and correct the vocal when I do that because the original vocal will still be heard in the background on the guitar tracks. I have also settled into the reverb and room space settings I like and just a little compression. I wrote earlier about my woes trying to figure out compression. I’ve played enough that I have settings that fatten the vocals just a hair. This configuration of microphones and effects can be heard on all my records un the past couple of months and what I will be using to finish out recording acoustic/vocal demos of songs that I haven’t recorded yet. I’d also like to go back and remix some of the stuff I recorded two years ago. Some of those I would just like to record from scratch really.

Voice Lessons
I am really enjoying my lessons with Chuck Gilmore. I can already feel a difference and my range has increased a little already. He records our sessions and puts it on CD so I do the exercises from the lessons just about any time I am in the car. I used to have great range into the notes above the C above middle C, but I rarely performed up in that range. But what it did do was let me be very comfortable at A above middle C which is a good crescendo area for my voice. Until now it has been a strain to get up there. With Chuck’s help I am getting up there, not real strong yet, but I am getting back into that territory. We’ve been working on my song “Note Enough Love” so that it is comfortable and consistent. Because it has parts in my baritone range and also parts in my upper tenor it kind of sounds like two different people. Chuck is helping me to a consistent tone throughout all of my range.  I’d like to record “Over and Done” but it is definitely too high at the moment. But I am starting to get the notes and that’s exciting!

Sony Acid Studio
I finished the first eight week introduction to Acid Studio taught at Highland High by Steve Auerbach and signed up for another eight weeks. He will be teaching how to use some of the tools for part of each session and then giving one-on-one time to help us with our individual projects. I showed him that I had imported all the tracks for “Must Be Love” and want to remix it using some of the effects plug-ins available for ACID. I also want to start using MIDI to program drum and percussion tracks using the extensive voicing libraries available. I have downloaded over 3000 free drum and percussion sounds along with about 2000 actual recording clips of drum fills and percussion elements. All kinds of other instruments are also available. I can use my Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer as a MIDI controller to interface with Acid Studio to create any number of backing tracks for song ideas I have. But I need to learn more about the tools and interfaces before I can really get going creating my stuff.

Great Show in Logan with a bonus!
We went to Logan and saw Accidentally Involved. Tim Pearce was the interim act. There was a young girl that opened and did some nice things but was not comfortable with performing yet. I’m embarrassed that I can’t remember her name. Tim was disappointed with his performance claiming he had an off night. Maybe so, but I enjoyed it immensely. He didn’t hit every note right; he cut a couple of songs short; and he generally let each song sort of just drift away without any clear ending. Despite that, he had intensity when he sang and I came away a bit rejuvenated, which is what a live performance is all about. He connected with me. His music can be dark and themes depressing, but I went away feeling positive. Funny how that works.

I enjoyed Accidentally Involved demo tracks on their site. Two things stand out: 1) the vocals and harmonies, and 2) the drumming.

Vocals: Cindy has a great voice, nice songs, and a lot of energy on stage and fun to watch. What's missing is all the harmony. I didn't realize that Emeline (bass player) doesn't sing. I just assumed she was doing the harmony, but I guess Cindy does her own harmony on the recordings. Some of the tunes have three- part on the records with a nice bubbly sound similar to the Go-Go’s. Unfortunately I was a bit let down that the live performance did not stand up to the studio work. Getting a bass player that sings or adding another vocalist or two would make a world of difference.

Drumming: Ricky Lyons is a fantastic drummer and percussionist! What he does, that a lot of drummers don't do, is play to the song. He put touches and nuance that fit just right and elevated each song well above its acoustic/vocal arrangement. I especially appreciated his use of side snare hits and the variations he got from using different sections of cymbals. A lot of drummers play basic beats or try to show the audience how good they are. Ricky is all about the songs, he’s just great! If I had a band I’d be doing whatever I could to get him to play with me.
The BONUS is that my son Andrew and his wife Margie came down from Ashton, ID and met us for the show. Then we retreated to Wolf Creek for the rest of the weekend and had a relaxing fun time. We ate some of the best pizza ever in Logan at Fredrico's Pizza - 1349 E. 700 N. I will definitely go back there again!

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