Make That Four Days

You know what?  After four days of practicing, my fingertips are hurting.  I guess I am having a little bit of a callous issue.  I didn’t think that would be a problem, but here we are.

I said I was going to run through some of our more challenging songs.  I didn’t.  I just noodled for about half an hour and then tried to play along with a few Jeff Beck songs.  I still had most of Rock My Plimsoul in my head, and I can still nail that perfect solo in I’ve Been Drinking (it’s really simple but it’s one of my favorite solos on any instrument ever).

I’ve played the SG the last two nights, after playing the Les Paul the previous two nights.  Part of me is thinking that maybe the SG might be the go to guitar for at least the first set tomorrow.  I’ve never played it at a gig before.  Maybe it will have it’s debut.  We’ll see.

It is a little dusty though.

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Time to Get Ready

Today is a good day.  I got a bonus from work today.  That’s good.  I got my tax documents from work too.  By the time this posts my taxes might even already be filed because my wife is amazing.  That’s also good.  I just spent my lunch break working on a time sensitive issue and I figured it out with a minimum of stress.  That’s good too.

The RPM Challenge starts in less than nine hours.  That’s good, but I highly doubt I’ll be awake at midnight to celebrate.  We have a gig tomorrow night.  That’s good as well.  I’m not nearly as stressed as I was for the last gig and that is doubly good.

There are some things that royally suck but I am not letting them bring me down.  The triumph of authoritarianism over democracy is progressing in the US Senate right now as the republican party makes a farce out of the constitutionally mandated impeachment process.  That royally sucks.  I am beginning to think that secession is a viable option.  Brexit takes place today.  Midnight Brussels time, 11:00PM London time, That’s 6:00PM Boston time, I think.  That royally sucks too.

I’m weighing the good against the incredibly bad and choosing to ignore the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, the bad is infinitely more important than the good.  Today I am deciding that the good will outweigh the bad even though that is amazingly, shockingly naive.  Screw it, I’m going to Disney in a couple of weeks.

For now though, I have to start planning my packing for the gig tomorrow.  I need my Les Paul and my SG, my Bassbreaker 18/30 and my Vox MV50 with the 12″ cab, my full pedal board, the handful of new cables I bought (bright orange so you can see them from space), a couple of backup pedals (looking at you, Keeley D&M Drive) and power cables for each one, the microphones, stands, and cables I took home from the rehearsal room recently, the little pick/slide holding microphone stand attachment, and a new glass slide.  Then I’ll go to Mike’s house and get the rest of the mics, stands, and cables, my gig bag with all my emergency stuff in it, and the little stand I sit my amp on when we play.  Oh yeah, and I have to change the strings on both guitars!  Can’t forget about that!

Sunday after the gig I’ll put the amp and the pedal board (and the associated cables) back into my room where they currently sit (see the pic from last night), Setup a mic, stand, and cable on that amp and on the Bassbreaker 15 that is not leaving my room for the gig, then plug those into the 16 channel USB interface that I also took home from the rehearsal room recently.  I will plug the USB cable into my MacBook and make sure I can get both mic signals into GarageBand.  Once that’s done, I’ll be ready to record guitar parts in stereo.  When I record the acoustic guitar or a vocal or a saxophone I can just swing up one of the mic’s that will be on a guitar speaker and use that.  I also dug out my little acoustic guitar pickup that I got a few years ago and still haven’t taken out of the package.  I can use that to record as well.  I’ll keep the laptop and my iPad and my iPhone good and charged so if an idea comes to me I can play it into one version of GarageBand or another.  Once that’s all taken care of I just have to… you know… write a shit load of songs.  Yikes.

This year is a leap year so we get a whole extra day for the RPM shenanigans.  So really it’s no problem at all this year.

Yikes indeed!

But it’s still a good day.

 

Practice Goal Achieved (for today)

Raise your hand if you’re sick of guitar/Lizardfish/gig posts.

On second thought, don’t raise your hand.  I don’t care what you think.  Here’s another one.

Earlier today one of the guys in the band submitted 2/1/20 Set List Draft #2.  I was in the middle of my lunch break at the time so I typed the list into a Google Doc and sent it around, and then went to hearthis.at and built a playlist of the entire list and shared that around too.  I had an ulterior motive for that one though.

Jen has a work dinner thing tonight and I knew she wouldn’t be home until late.  Tonight is a dad night for the kids so I had the house all to myself for an hour.  I took that new playlist, ran my phone through a blue tooth speaker, plugged in the guitar with the full pedal board, turned up to (slightly less than) gig volume and played.

I made it into the second set, only one or two songs.  I think one song was missing from the first set though so I have to check on that.  I played for an hour solid without a break.  I did have some real pain in my left hand for about two songs but it lessened as I went along.  By the end of the hour I was noticeably tired and it was getting hard to bend the strings.  That’s time to stop for tonight.

I played a lot in a short time.  Notice that I did not say I played well.  I guess I still have to work on that.  My improv skills are down to about 10% right now, Captain.  I need to open a ticket with engineering and get Geordi LaForge to work on that for me.

The gig starts almost exactly four days from now (9:00PM on Saturday).  I need a lot more practice.

I’m pleased with my dumb ass for the moment though.  I’m proud of me, fat boy.

My ears are ringing.

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Gear Inspiration

Man, youtube… every once in a while you’ll see something and it will just click for you.

I just watched an episode of That Pedal Show where they talk about delay pedals.  I have a really nice digital delay on my pedal board right now, a Wampler Faux Tape Echo, and I have been using the crap out of it.  I use it’s tap tempo switch and it’s subdivision switch and I get dotted eighth note delays and I make all sorts of groovy The Edge style rhythmic patters and it’s just so much damn fun.

It’s a great delay pedal but it doesn’t really do oscillation.  Oscillation is when the pedal feeds back on itself and makes all sorts of glorious noise.  If you mess with the delay time control it changes the pitch of the noise and makes it even gloriouser.  I have a really cheap analog delay that I am not currently using.  It’s from one of those generic, low cost, Chinese companies.  Donner, I think?  A Donner Yellow Fall?  I think that’s what it’s called.  After watching this video I am going to put it on the board too so that I can have noisy fun and still have the digital tap tempo and subdivision stuff.

In all my years of playing electric guitar I’ve almost always had a delay pedal, but I’ve never been a delay pedal guy.  Now I have all this youtube silliness to inspire me to do new and different (and yes, goofy and noisy) things.

Thanks, That Pedal Show!

 

Gig Day To Do List

Hello and welcome to June 3, 2017.  It is gig day.  The band is playing in Plaistow again and I need to write a to-do list for myself.

  • Decide which guitar will be the #2 for the night.  It’s always been the ES-335, but tonight I am about 56% set on it being the Fender Strat.  With the exception of Tempest Fero’s first couple of appearances back in 1988, when my guitar was a very cheap Hondo strat copy, I have never played a non-Gibson guitar in front of people.  There were a couple of times when I played my friend Larry’s Epiphone, but that is still a Gibson product.  Will tonight be my first time with a Fender?  Will I take it but not use it?  I have no idea yet.
  • Restring two guitars.
  • Velcro the Tube Screamer Mini pedal to the board.  Right now it’s just sitting there, not tied down at all.  That could be a problem come show time.
  • Set everything up at home for a warm up/practice/find a way to tame the mid range nonsense in my tone session.  Possibly use my new A/B/Y switch to let me play with my Fender Deluxe Reverb and my Fender Bassbreaker amps at the same time.  I don’t expect to do that at the show, I just want to do it because it’s awesome.
  • Pack everything up, including the box of picks, the mic stand pick holding device, and the glass slide.  I don’t have any reason to play slide tonight, but the pick holding device is also a slide holding device, so I am taking it with me.
  • Take a shower.  Very important.
  • Go to Mike the Bass Player’s house and pick up the stuff I didn’t take with me after last weekend’s practice.
  • Go to the bar.
  • Unload the car and set everything up.  Will there be a Fender guitar?  I still haven’t decided.
  • Soundcheck… maybe.
  • Play the show, all three sets.
  • Pack up the gear and load it back into the car.
  • Get paid (assuming we are still getting paid).
  • Go home.
  • Unload the car.
  • Go to bed and hope to sleep for 12 hour straight, but realistically only sleep for maybe four hours.
  • Wake up tomorrow and call it a successful gig.

No problem!

Boy Scout Fail aka Gig Recap

The band played out last night. It was our fourth show at Racks Bar in Plaistow, NH. Overall it was a decent show. The two day long snow storm kept a lot of people away so the turnout was lower than we’ve gotten at previous shows. Also, I think the success of the first three shows has left me a little over confident.

Mike the bass player owns one bass guitar. I own a cheap bass too and I’ve brought it to all of our shows so Mike would have a back up. I forgot to bring it last night. That was dumb of me. That was one thing that I look back on and wish I could do over.

There was one other thing that I felt was a bad move done in the spirit of over confidence. Picks. At every gig I’ve ever done in my entire life I have had a pick in my right hand and a bunch of spare picks in my pocket. In some cases there were picks taped to my microphone stand too.

Last night during one of the first couple of songs it occurred to me that I didn’t have any spare picks on me. I had a box full of them in one of my guitar cases, but nothing up on stage with me. I told myself that before the second set started I would fill up my pocket with spares.

A couple of songs into the second set it dawned on my that I never grabbed that box of picks. I started getting nervous. What the hell am I going to do if I drop this pick and can’t find it? There was another pick with my second guitar, I could grab that one if I needed to. Still, that would suck. I told myself I’d get that box out of my Les Paul case before the third set.

Fast forward to the third set. Did I get those picks out of the case? Of course not. Sure enough, we were playing one song that has a great solo section where I always try to come as close as physically possible to shredding like a demon. As the moment approached, I stepped on the pedal I was using as a volume boost for solos and…

Whoosh, out of my hand went the pick. I knew it was going to happen eventually, and there it was. Fortunately it landed right at my feet and didn’t get lost, but I had to finger pick through the rest of the song. I lost my chance to shred like a madman and then I had to get down on my knees and pick the stupid thing up. I should have just been able to pull another pick out of my pocket and keep going like nothing happened.

I did screw up a lot last night. There were some small miscues all through the first two sets. The third set… I train-wrecked a little. The other guys held it together but I was off the rails once or twice. I think I know what happened to me. We had a lot of snow overnight Friday and I was planning on getting up pretty early to dig out so that we could drive up to see my step daughter perform with the all-state choir in Concord, NH at 1:30. The stress of it all must have popped me awake at about 3:30 am. I couldn’t get back to sleep no matter what I did. So when the third set came around I was at about the 20 hour mark. I didn’t feel tired. There is too much adrenaline pumping for that, but I think I was really mentally fatigued. Things that I usually do without a second thought suddenly escaped me. Guitar parts that I usually nail became challenging, or I just flat out forgot them. It pissed me off, but I took out my frustration on a couple of solos and it got better. Still, stupid snow storm.

We booked two more shows for later in the year so we have three booked now. Every show we’ve done and every one we have booked has been at the same bar. That’s not really a good sign, but I am too old to care about such things. My days of seeing music as a career are so far gone that I can barely remember when it was an actual thing.

The next show is in early June. I promise I will have spare picks at all times.

Left Overs

For this year’s RPM Challenge I worked on 23 songs. One was just too awful to keep alive and I dumped it. One other never got further than one or two bass lines on the iPad. Of the remaining 21, 10 made the final cut. Eight were completely finished but I put them on the B list. Three others were pretty far along in the process, but I ran out of time before I could finish them. Those three might have been good enough to make the final submission, but now we’ll never know.

I made a playlist for the left overs, including the three unfinished songs. I will finish them in the coming weeks, but for now they are just rough mixes of instrumental nothings.

I think if you listen to both playlists you will see that dropping the songs on the B list was the right thing to do. At least I hope so. Either way, I got a ton of new tunes.

Finished

Finished.

Done.

Complete.

…and with a little over an hour to spare!

This makes five years in a row for me. Feels like quite a milestone. I had 18 songs and dropped eight of them for the final album. Are the 10 that I kept the best songs? I think so, but I feel way too close to this right now so I can’t say for sure.

I zipped up all of my mp3 files and a jpeg with the cover art and shared it with RPM via dropbox. Hopefully that works and they get it. My profile has been updated with the 2016 submission, but I’m way too tired to deal with any more than that tonight.

For now, here’s a soundcloud playlist with my 10 goofy songs. Hope they don’t suck too bad.

Dazed

When I left work on Friday I think I had six songs mixed, two songs ready to mix, and a whole pile that were a guitar part away from being ready to mix.

Here we are on Sunday afternoon and I have 15 songs mixed. My head is spinning. I’m not done though. I have to stop for tonight so I can go to band practice and then eat dinner with the love of my life and watch The Walking Dead (priorities, right?).

I still have to mix one more song tomorrow night, and like a moron I actually added a song last night at about 10pm, and then added another one this morning at about 7am. I only need to add vocals to those two and then they’ll be ready to mix too. Vocal tracking will happen tomorrow before work in a great bonanza of get-it-in-one-or-don’t-get-it-at-all.

Beyond that, there are still four more unfinished songs that will have to wait for another day. One or two of them are just awful and were abandoned by choice. At least one of the others was working for me before, but I just ran out of time.

So I expect to have 18 songs available for the finished product tomorrow. I’ll probably drop at least four of them, maybe more. I really want to try and trim the fat for the album I submit this year. Not to imply there’s greatness here or anything like that. I just want it to be less crappy than some of my previous submissions (looking at you, 2015).

Caution: Bad Guitar Playing

There are three new devices that need to go on my pedal board.  There will eventually be a fourth, but for now it’s three.  Here’s a video of me noodling with the new toys.

 

A Joyo Ultimate Drive (which is a clone of a Fulltone OCD)
A Seymour Duncan Vapor Trail analog delay
And for the first time ever, a DC power source for the pedals!  It’s an MXR DC Brick.  No more 9-volt batteries for me!*

 

*well… I think I have more pedals than the brick can handle, so maybe a few more 9-volt batteries.