Big Weekend

April 30th, 2009 |

Big weekend coming up. Tomorrow night I’m going to see a reunion show of Dino‘s very first band, The Hype. I think it’s been twenty years since that band was formed. Fifteen maybe? Ten? I don’t remember. Anyway, the show marks some anniversary of the band’s forming or first show or something like that. I’m very excited to see them play. They will be playing a bunch of 80’s covers and I can’t think of many things that I enjoy more than 80’s covers. That was not facetious.

They’ll be playing at Helen Fitzgerald’s from 6:00 to 8:30 so come on out because I’m going by myelf and I hate that.

Then Saturday night Angel and I will be celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary by having dinner at The Melting Pot.  We did the same thing last year and I liked the food so much that we decided we’d do it every year. I don’t think anybody will be getting any tattoos this time but you never know.

After dinner we’re heading to the saddest fun show you could ever want to see. The Maxtone Four will be playing their final show and they’ve asked me to sing on a couple of tunes so that should be a blast.

So lots of milestones this weekend. You should come to one of them. Let me suggest that you not choose our anniversary dinner.

Why does every Rock idiot want a string section?

April 22nd, 2009 |

I’ve been in full obsess mode for the past few days. This is apparent from the fact that my desk is completely covered in food wrappers, empty coffee cups, and scribbled-on sheet music.

I’m working on writing and arranging the parts for a nine piece string section that will be in a song called The Groom and the Bride. This is by far the most epic sounding tune I’ve ever written and to say that I’ve bitten off more than I have the education to chew would be a gross understatement.

The process of arranging the strings is melting my brain. Did you know that the viola is written in the alto clef? Did you know there was such a thing as an alto clef? Yeah, me either. That is one of many puzzling things I’ve come across while trying to organize this mess.

One of the main things that scares me to death about writing string parts is that I don’t know anything about orchestral instruments. I just have to trust that when my orchestral software tells me that the viola can’t go lower than C3 that that’s actually true.  

I worry that my string parts won’t make any sense to real string players. Like if someone were to hand me the music for a guitar part and everything was played one note at a time on the low E string I would know that this person was utterly clueless about guitar. That’s what I’m afraid will happen to me when I hand these charts to the string section.

The Loser Truck

April 19th, 2009 |

This is what happens when Riley and I team up to make the most awesome Monster Truck movie ever. Even with a very limited supply of footage I was able to make cinematic history. Riley’s emotional monologue to set up the movie is the stuff Golden Globes are made of. Windows Movie Maker (in the right hands) provides more than enough power to stun even the harshest of critics.

You’re welcome. 

Brecker

April 17th, 2009 |

When I was in college it was said that there are two kinds of tenor sax players in the world, the ones who want to be John Coltrane and the ones who want to be Michael Brecker. I wanted to be Michael Brecker, and I believe Michael Brecker wanted to be John Coltrane.

As much as I love great pop songwriting, and soulful singing, and punch-you-in-the-mouth guitar playing, there are few things that will reduce me to a puddle of sloppy tears faster than the immeasurable virtuosity and expressiveness of Michael Brecker’s playing.

One of the tunes I’ve been using to pull my sax chops back together is one of Brecker’s tunes called Itsbynne Reel. This was always one of my favorites and it’s a real pain in the neck to play.

I was looking for a free version of this tune on the net so I could have something to play along with and I found this very unorthodox rendition on You Tube. You must listen to this. This is musical mastery of the highest order.

There is a long, solo accordion bit at the beginning that you might want to skip. Go straight to 2:45 and strap yourself in. Here is a transcription of the album version of the tune if you want to follow along with the head.

I was actually brought to tears twice today listening to music. Here is the other thing that made me a girl. This is Jonny Lang on Leno last night. Thanks to Jeff H. for the heads-up on this.

My Teeth

April 15th, 2009 |

I had a bit of a milestone in my life today.

Those of you who know me personally know that I have these awful, brown stains on my front teeth. I don’t know what they’re from but I’ve had them for as long as I can remember.

I was never all that self conscious about them until about six or seven years ago when The Drew Johnson Band made an appearance on channel five. I watched the tape of that with some friends and acquaintances and one person said to me something like “Dude, what is going on with your front teeth?” From that moment on I became acutely aware of those stains on my teeth.

I was going to dig up some pictures to show the stains but I’m too tired to go digging right now and the other thing is that I have very few pictures where I’m showing my teeth because I hate them.

The thing that is such a bummer about having those stains is that I actually have extremely straight teeth. Dentists always ask me if I wore braces as a kid but I didn’t.

So on to the whole point. Today I went to a new dentists. Angel’s dentist. I’ve been griping about mine for years and Angel finally talked me into making the switch. I went in for a basic new patient check-up sort of thing. He asked me “Are you happy with the appearance of these front teeth?” He knew there was an obvious answer to that question. Then he said “I think I can fix that.”

Within sixty seconds he handed me a mirror and asked “Is that better?” They were gone! I wanted to cry. I, like, totally wanted to kiss him right on the lips. I couldn’t believe it. He said “That’s on the house.”

Basically all he did was to grind off the very outer layer of enamel from those teeth and the gunk came off with it.

There is still plenty of whitening to be done because I was a smoker for many years but now at least there’s hope and I’m not afraid to smile any more.

Good day.

Two Nights in the Studio

April 10th, 2009 |

Wednesday and Thursday nights I was in the studio tracking my guitar parts for three different songs. I had hoped to do four songs but it turns out I’m very afraid of red lights.

I was having some trouble with this one particularly simple guitar part and Jacob said “Just imagine you’re in your basement at home. The only difference is that I’m pushing the record button.” I said “Yeah, but at home I do everything 200 times.”

Over the span of three songs I used five different guitars. Because I can, that’s why!

1) My G&L Strat

2) My Tacoma acoustic

3) My uncle Keith’s Country Gentleman

4) Jacob’s Gretsch Tennessean

5) Jacob’s Epiphone Les Paul

Caution! Name-droppings ahead.

I used Scott Bryan‘s old Fender Concert Amp for most of the electric guitars. It was pretty cool to take it out of the road case that says “Sheryl Crow Band” on the front of it. Scott played in Sheryl’s band for years and he’ll be playing various instruments and singing on my record as soon as we’re to the point that we’re ready for him. I’m definitely looking forward to that.

If anyone would like to donate the money needed for finishing the rest of the album I’ll name it after you. I’m serious – except for the naming it after you part.

Yesterday afternoon Riley and I went to the ballgame to test our bodies’ resilience against the cold and the rain. We didn’t hold up so well. When we walked out of the house the weather was nice and tolerable so we dressed accordingly. By the third inning Riley was saying “Maybe we should go home. I want to be warm with mommy.”

This picture was taken just before the hypothermia set in.

Country Gentleman Sample

April 7th, 2009 |

I recorded a short clip of me playing Chet Atkins’ Fright Train (poorly) just so you could hear what the guitar sounds like. I played it through my old Ampeg Jet so there’s all kinds of hum and buzz but what’s the point of using vintage equipment if you don’t get the hum and buzz?

Here’s the mp3.

Here’s the rig.

Strobe Tuner

April 5th, 2009 |

I found a software strobe tuner last week for $8.90 and the thing really works. It’s called the TB Strobe Tuner. I’ve been using it to adjust the intonation on my guitars and it sure beats paying a grand for a real strobe tuner. It also beats running your guitar to the shop ever time the weather changes, which, around here means every 15 minutes.

The Crib

April 4th, 2009 |

We finished up the living room today. This whole thing was pretty much Angel’s brain child from the beginning. She started off by wanting a dog that would ruin our furniture by urinating on it and then eating it. I have to admit, it seemed a strange way to go about remodeling our living room but I’ll be a monkey’s sailboat if it didn’t work.

Here is what our furniture looked like a few years ago before the urine and drool.

It doesn’t look like that any more.

We had to resort to buying some slip covers for three of the four pieces and they look pretty nice in a relaxed-fit sort of way. 

Here are some pictures of the process.

The stripes were Angel’s idea and she did all of the hard work. I think they turned out great.

Here’s the awesome Country Gentleman I was talking about.

I’m glad we’re done. Now we can get back to letting the dog tear up all the new stuff.

Cancelled

April 3rd, 2009 |

You know it’s been a long day when you don’t check your email until 9:45 PM.

There was a last minute cancellation of the recording session last night. Nobody’s fault, it was just one of those things that couldn’t be avoided. We’ve rescheduled for next Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Angel and I (mostly Angel) finished up remodeling our living room tonight. It looks really cool. We’re very please. I’ll probably have some pictures tomorrow.

Tired.

Good night moon.