Cautious Optimism

The United Kingdom has approved one of the Covid-19 vaccines (Pfizer’s? I think?). They are starting to work on actual distribution.

There is suddenly a very tiny pin prick of light at the end of this long, black coronavirus tunnel.

The United States isn’t there yet. I’m not sure what the FDA’s timeline is, or even if they have a timeline yet. I’m not sure what Pfizer and Moderna need to do to proceed. I’ve heard that first responders and elderly folks in homes will be the first Americans to receive the vaccine. I’m good with that. After that, I don’t know what the rumors are. I hope my step son and his immune deficiencies will be near the front of the line. My weight problem puts me at risk too, but I want him taken care of first.

It’s still going to take months for that tiny pin prick of light to grow into an opening big enough for us to walk through, and it is WAY too early to start making plans. Still, we have a high school graduation in the Spring. We are hoping to go back to Disney World in the Summer.

I’m spending my lunch break today listening to a podcast where two part time musicians are fantasizing about getting their bands back together in the Spring and what that’s going to be like. I don’t want to look that far ahead. I don’t want to get optimistic. I don’t want to start fantasizing. But… that first band practice is going to feel like a victory parade. We’re going to play like garbage and it’s going to be the most enjoyable rehearsal in the history of rehearsals. The first gig… when we can fill up a room with friends and family and music lovers and people from all walks of life… that is going to be a celebration like no other. That is going to be an amazing experience. I mean, yeah we’re just a silly cover band, but it’s going to be a wonderful thing.

Don’t get cocky, Robert. Cautious optimism is all you get for now. Maybe stop thinking about that tiny little point of light at the end of the tunnel. Try, at least.

Procrastination as an Art Form

It’s been 23 days since the band’s last gig.  Today will be our first post-gig rehearsal.  We picked a few songs to work on.  Have I learned them?  Nope.  Not yet.  Even better, have I taken my guitar out of it’s case?  Nope.  Not yet.  Even betterer, have I touched any of the gear that I took to the 4/1 show since unloading it all into the garage that night?  Nope. Not yet.

I had a plan to re-arrange my pedal board to put the focus onto overdrive instead of fuzz. The green Muff pedal is coming off, a Tube Screamer is going on, the main source of dirt will be the OCD.  A good plan.  Have I done anything to implement it and test it out and see how I like it?  Nope.  Not yet.  Sigh of frustration.  I will leave the board at home today and just take my OCD clone and a tuner.  Then I have to make myself do the work I have been putting off for the last three weeks before next week’s practice.

You see, folks, there are people who are masters at procrastination.  They see themselves as skilled above all others.  Then they see me in (in)action and they realize that there is another gear.  Another level of procrastinationness.  I alone have reached that level.  I alone have elevated procrastination to an art form.  I am the king.  I am the lord and master of all put-offedness.  Kneel before my mad skills.

Band Practice

I haven’t posted any music from my band’s practices in a while and I just finished chopping up the recording I made with my iPhone on Sunday so I thought I’d try to remember how to embed hearthis.at files.

I wonder if this works…

Looks like it!

Who said that Lizardfish can’t bring the funk?

I think I need to do something new in the guitar tone department.  Maybe just add some top end to it?  The high knob on the amp is way down, and every pedal with a tone control has the highs rolled off.  Is it just the recording that sounds muddy or did I really sound like that in the room?  No idea, really.

Band Practice Firsts

Two things happened to me at tonight’s band practice that haven’t happened in all the years I’ve been practicing with bands.

First, my trusty Dunlop Cry Baby Wah-Wah pedal actually broke. I pushed down on the pedal to turn it on for a screaming psychedelic guitar solo and then stepped on it to turn if off when I was done… except it didn’t turn off.

After the song ended I tried to click the button with my hand and that didn’t turn it off either. The switch seems to have died a heroes death. I’ve owned three of those pedals over the years and I’ve never had one die before. I had one stolen once, but that doesn’t count. If I can’t fix it I’ll have to use the back up that’s in my cellar right now. Kinda glad I put together that stay at home pedal board.

The second thing that happened tonight that has never happened to me before is another tragic failure. I wear ear plugs when we play. Practice, gigs, whatever. If there is full band volume, I’m wearing ear plugs.

Tonight we sounded kinda loud. I chalked it up to last-rehearsal-before-the-gig-over-exuberance. Then at about the 2 and a quarter hour mark it happened. The ear plug in my left ear… fell out. How’s that for odd. That’s never happened to me before. One minute it’s in there, the next, boop, it’s on the floor. Safe to say that the reason for the extra volume can now be explained as my ear plug wasn’t in right. It felt okay going in, but I guess not.

Now everything on my left sounds like it’s far away and surrounded by ocean waves. Damn it.

Practice Time

Just getting ready to go to band practice. We’re going to be short a singer tonight (he’s in Chicago… I still think we should try rehearsing over skype) so the focus is on tightening up the rest of us.

The downside for me right now is that I am exhausted to the point of distraction. I took a shower today at about 11:30 and ever since I sat down to tie my shoes following that shower I have been on the verge of sleep. I went out to run some errands and that was okay, but as soon as I got home I just wanted to sleep. I expect that this will carry over to practice tonight and I will suck something fierce.

13 days to our next gig. I am going to do a lot of practicing at home. Probably going to be noodling on the guitar while watching TV with the kids after work and stuff. I will be ready when the time comes. Hell, I’m almost ready right now. Just not tonight… Urgh. Is it bed time?

On a related note, my wife and I started binge watching The Man in the High Castle last night. After practice we expect to have enough time to watch two more episodes before we have to give up and go to bed…

We have three episodes left.

Nooooooooo!!!!!

Band Practice/Crunch Time

We had a band practice last night. Since it’s down to the last three weekends before the next gig we added an hour to rehearsal. We should have added more.

Boy, were we bad last night. Everyone was tired and hot and a little cranky and some of us were a little sick. We just did not play well at all…

…and that’s probably a good thing.

It’s been two months since the last gig. We took quite a bit of time off afterwards, and we’ve added a ton of new songs. Maybe we’ve been a little over confident. Sucking up the joint last night will probably have the beneficial effect of scaring us straight. The next practice will be much better. Bank on it.

I was trying to push through it and I gave myself a good blister on my left ring finger. That should be fun. I haven’t changed my strings since July 1st. If I pop a blister while playing I’ll probably need a tetanus shot. Totally worth it.

Music from this Past Weekend

I told you all that I played really poorly at this past weekend’s practice, and that the pain in my hand was significantly worse than ever before.

Did I also tell you that I recorded most of the practice and didn’t notice until we were done that one of the two mics on the drums was muted on the mixing board? Other than that the recording is almost okay. Next week I have to turn my vocal mic WAY up and maybe nudge the PA output up a smidgen. Also maybe turn up the guitar a bit. As for the drums, un-mute the right channel (you fat idiot), pull the low end up a little more (again) and maybe turn both channels down a hair so that the crash cymbals don’t blow your brains out when you’re listening with headphones on.

Oh yeah, and don’t play the guitar like a quadriplegic with the IQ of a salmon egg. That will help improve the quality as well.

Here are a few songs from Sunday. I picked the ones with the fewest colossal guitar screw ups, although the guitar is a touch out of tune on the Gaga tune.

Prep Time

I just put new strings on the ES 335. I cleared a bit of space off of the MacBook Pro. All I have to do is clip my fingernails and then I’ll be ready for band practice.

For tonight’s recording, I need to lower the vocals on channel five, raise my mic on the PA, lower Mike’s bass on channel three, and raise Kevin’s drums WAY up on channels one and two. I think I’ll give the bass end on the drums a bit of a boost too. If all works well I’ll be sharing some music later this week.

More likely I’ll be listening to a recording with pretty much nothing but boomy drums.

Boy Does Robbie Need a Hobby

Two band practices ago I recorded the whole thing. I used the iTalk app on my iPhone and just pointed the mic in our general vicinity. It worked well but it sounded like sludge.

Last band practice I recorded the whole thing again. This time I brought my MacBook, my USB interface, and one microphone. It worked well. It sounded pretty bad, but 100 times better than the phone.

Now how do I one up myself? Let’s see. We have three vocal mics, a guitar amp, a bass amp, and a drum kit. Also the USB interface only has two outputs. I won’t be able to record each source onto it’s own track. The best I can do is record a stereo mix. So how do I get that stereo mix? Three mics for voices, two more for the two amps, and let’s say two overhead mics on the drums. Seven microphones. What to do, what to do……

Untitled

I haven’t used this puppy in four years or so. It is a dusty mess. If things come together I’ll need a lot of compressed air to get the channels clean. I just performed an experiment. I plugged Larry’s piano directly into channel one. I plugged a guitar directly into channel two. I plugged a mic into channel three. The piano panned left, the guitar panned right, and the mic straight up the middle. Now unfortunately the PA we’re using does not have channel outputs. Mr Mackie here does. So we’d have to plug the vocal mics into this, then direct out them into the PA. So to test that out I direct out’d the piano track into the little toyish Marshall amp. Next I plugged the board’s stereo outputs into the USB interface and plugged the interface into the MacBook and brought up GarageBand. I hit record and strummed with one hand, banged on the piano with the other, and gabbed into the mic.

Success.

A stereo recording in GarageBand with the guitar on one side, the piano on the other, and the mic in the middle, and the piano coming out of the little amp. Now the only thing left to do is try and clean out the channels because there was a lot of scratchy dust induced interference that needs to be eliminated. Then it’s just a matter of setting everything up and tweaking the mix to tape as we go, although that would be more of a week to week thing because I don’t plan on listening to play backs until after practice. It’ll do though. Even better, when the day comes when we buy a real power amp to use for PA, the board will already be in place and everything will be ready to go.

This is all upside, right?

I’m not alarmingly obsessed, right?

Right?

Oh did I mention though… I don’t have enough microphones to actually pull this off. To the music store we go!