New Demo Available For Download

November 11th, 2008 |

I’ve spoken a little about the orchestral piece I’m writing and I figured I’d let everybody hear what I have so far.

Click here to download a clip of the very, very far from even close to being anywhere remotely near finished recording.

I have no idea when this song will be finished. It won’t be any time soon. I do know that. Writing and preparing this kind of music is an incredibly lengthy process and I’ve got a bunch of stuff I’m working on for the band that is taking priority over this right now.

I originally thought this sounded like a hymn but the more I work on it the less it sounds like a hymn. I do have a couple of lyrics for it but I don’t know if it will end up having vocals or not. We’ll see how it progresses.

The working title is Sola Fide.

Recordings Page – New!!!

October 11th, 2008 |

It has become apparent to me over the past year that it is not an easy task to find all of my recordings. They are spread out over four years of blog posts and on two different sites. So I’ve created a “Recordings” page where you can find everything in one spot.

If you look all the way up at the very top of my blog you’ll find a link named “Recordings“. Just click that and you find a long list of songs and whatnots from the past twelve years or so. I’ve got them roughly categorized and even roughly-er placed in chronological order.

This is by no means an exhaustive listing of absolutely everything, but pretty much everything I think you might be remotely interested in is there.

One thing that is available for the first time is the wav file versions of all the songs from The Drew Johnson Band’s album “Invention of the Wheel.” Those CDs are very hard to find these days so I thought I’d at least put the files where they can be found in digital format.

That page probably took me eight hours to complete. If I had know how much work it was going to be I might have never tackled it. I’ve checked all the links and the spelling and I think everything works right. If you find any broken links or if there’s anything missing that you’d like me to add just email me through my Contact page.

The Lost Sax Solo

September 28th, 2008 |

It seems like many of my posts have started off like “I was going through some old recordings” or “I was digging around in my basement.” That’s because I have various hard drives on various computers containing recordings from various eras of my musical past. And it seems like by the time I make a complete pass through all of these recordings I can start over and will have completely forgotten what I found the first go around.

The thing I’ve found about all of this is that I have a precious few recordings of me playing the saxophone. I’m always talking about the things I learned as a sax player, which represents a huge chunk of my life, but there is really very little evidence that I ever even played the sax. So the other day I found another instance of me playing the horn that I had almost forgotten existed.

This is a thing The Drew Johnson Band did with Chad Rycenga. Chad is a singer/songwriter who used to run in our circle of friends back when we were playing around town a lot. Chad created our very first website for us and this recording was a little bit of us trying to return the favor.

Chad had a song called Thursday Night Song that was a favorite among his fans. A friend of his wanted to use the song in their wedding so Chad asked if we could do a proper recording of it.

This is Chad on guitar, Dino on drums, Steve on bass, and me on sax. I haven’t seen or talked to Chad in a long time so I don’t really think it would be right to post the entire song without his permission but this is the sax solo section which is started with a lick I stole verbatim from John Coltrane.

Download the mp3 here.

The Antinomian Strain

September 25th, 2008 |

A month ago I posted a little recording experiment I did and Kristopher Curtis asked if I could do more of the same. So I have – sort of.

The experiment involved playing a drum solo and then taking the MIDI notes from the drums and applying them to different instruments. The results were pretty bizarre and not terribly musical but it was at least interesting. This new one is far, far better and much more musical. This time I went for an orchestral type of thing and the results a pretty exciting I think.

Tuesday night I sat down and recorded about twenty minutes of me playing a very free-form drum solo. I then picked out everything that I thought was interesting which ended up being less than three minutes. Then last night I started applying the MIDI recording to various other instruments. I did quite a bit of rearranging of the notes to make it more melodic because in a MIDI drum solo there are basically only about eight notes that are used. However, everything you’ll hear came from the drum part. There was no further recording done after the drums were tracked. Then tonight I mixed it and giggled.

If you’re not a frequent downloader of my music I should encourage you to make an exception this time. This turned out much cooler than I thought it ever could.

This is “composed” in a linear fashion so it ends up sounding like the orchestral soundtrack to an old cartoon, only much more sinister. So you have to make up your own cartoon or movie scene in your head as you listen.

I am going to make the wav file available as well as a high quality mp3. This is an extremely dynamic recording so don’t get carried away with the volume right off the bat.

The Antinomian Strain

Download the mp3 here.

Download the CD-quality wav file here.

On a completely unrelated note: Happy Birthday to Dino Nicastro, one of my very favorite people.

Playing Purdie

September 23rd, 2008 |

One of the first things I remember my saxophone professor teaching me in college was that every musician needs to learn to play the drums. He said that Jazz was made up of three parts. In order of importance they are rhythm, melody, and harmony. Nobody cares how many notes you can play or how perfectly they fit over the chords if it doesn’t swing. I took his advice to heart and have now been playing the drums for probably about seventeen or eighteen years.

One of the most valuable things I’ve found about playing drums (from a singer/guitar player’s perspective) is the ability it has given me to play complex guitar parts while singing over them. Obviously one of the hardest things about playing drums is learning to have one part of your body do one thing and another part do another thing and another part do another thing and so on. This same discipline applies to singing and playing at the same time.

A few weeks ago I talked about the Purdie Shuffle. Since then I’ve been practicing it almost every day and I’m finally starting to get it. This is a beautiful beat and for someone who is not really a drummer it is much, much harder to play than it sounds. I still don’t have it swinging like it should but I’m at least in the ballpark. The next step is to get to the place where I can freely change up the kick pattern, but that’ll take a while.

Here is a short mp3 of me playing a simple version of the Purdie Shuffle.

Download the mp3 here.

The Experience Pedal

September 17th, 2008 |

I was playing around with my Experience Pedal tonight and I think Angel took it as an attempt to run her out of the house but it sure sounded cool.

I’ve had this pedal for probably twelve or thirteen years and I just never get tired of it. It’s got to be one of the greatest pedals ever conceived. I talked a bit about it in the Lulu’s Machine commentary┬ábecause of its extensive use in that particular song. The type of sound it gets is very similar to the tone Daniel Lanois used in the videos I posted a few weeks ago.

I recorded a little bit of my messing around just so you could dig its wickedness. This is a rough interpretation of the ending section to one of my new songs. Check it out.

Download the mp3 here.

More Lanois Imitation

September 10th, 2008 |

When I was looking around for that demo I posted yesterday I came across some short recordings I did a couple of years ago that I had forgotten about. Here’s one of them. This is another Daniel Lanois rip off. I really dig the guitar tone on this. It may have been my Dr. Z but I’m not sure.

Download the mp3.

My New Wave Demo

September 9th, 2008 |

I watched the MTV Video Music Awards the other night just to remind myself of how old and out of touch I am. I asked Angel “What’s with all the 80’s garbage? Are the 80’s back?” She gave me the “No doy” look.

Of all the possible eras that we could rehash why on earth would we choose the 80s? I mean, I love Winger’s first album as much as the next guy but can we please use a little discernment here people?

Thinking about the 80’s reminded me of a demo I did a few years ago that I don’t think any of you have heard. This was written (and never finished) for the project Brian McClelland and I were working on back when I was in The Formula Kid.

Before Brian and I started writing together he sent me some really great demos of some music he’d been writing on his own. One of them was pretty new-wave sounding so I decided I’d try my hand at that style.

This is another one of my “nah, nah, nah” demos until it gets to the chorus where I wrote some incredibly trite lyrics to fit the incredibly trite vibe of the tune. It’s highly stylized stuff so don’t laugh too hard please.

Download the mp3 here.

Back From Georgia

September 7th, 2008 |

On Monday Angel’s Uncle Rickey died. Rickey was 53 and was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy eighteen years ago and was given only seven years to live.

This is Rickey and Riley from a few years ago.

As soon I got home from work on Wednesday we drove down there so we could be at the funeral on Thursday. It was a pretty rough few days but it was very nice to see the people who came out in droves to pay their respects.

We got back into town late last night so if I haven’t replied to your email yet I’ll get to it soon.

We decided to take Lilly with us since Angel’s family hadn’t met her yet. Driving nine hours in a compact car with an oversized dog is not easy. Lilly tried every conceivable position she could think of to get comfortable. Here are a couple of pictures of her efforts.

Angel’s mother’s dog Picco greeted Lilly with a big old smile as soon as we got there.

This is Angel’s brother Matt, her mother Connie and Riley before we left for the funeral. Yes, Matt is really as huge as he looks.

Uncle Rickey was buried just a few feet from Angel’s brother Marcus who died of Spina Bifida in 1984. This is why Riley’s middle name is Marcus. This is Marcus’ grave if the pic is too small to tell.

OK now for some comic relief.

Riley always wants me to record him on the computer either talking or singing or screaming or rapping or whatever he’s decided would be funny that day. I’ve got hours of this stuff. So today Riley decided that raspberries would be comedic theme for the day. He was buzzing his lips so hard that he blew two gigantic snot snakes out of his nose that reached all the way to his bottom lip. Listen to this mp3 and you’ll hear the magic at about 15 seconds in. Then there’s some more general foolishness after that.

Download the mp3 here.


August 28th, 2008 |

Last night I was doing some work on the back end of my site getting things updated and whatnot. I ended up looking at some of the stats for the site and there were a few things that really shocked me.

The demo I did of me playing the intro to “Little Wing” to demonstrate the sound of my Tonelab pedal has been downloaded 260 times.

The mp3 of my rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” has been downloaded 283 times.

The mp3 of me showing some of the capabilities of my electronic drum kit has been downloaded 306 times.

Now, I am aware that these numbers are really small potatoes compared to a proper website, but for my little narcissistic project here I think that’s not too bad.