The Nuclear Family has been released on Hancock Street Records! Ask for it at your local independent record store or buy it here!

28 December 2009

New mix of new song on website...

... here. Per some audience feedback, the instrumental has come up a bit with respect to the vocals.

22 December 2009

Damn, I've been busy...

The last post was almost a month ago when I had gotten back from Virginia on my Thankgiving break. First of all, the trip was good and my son (the accountant) is doing well. He made it through the snowstorm this week (the way NPR described it, it sounded like people were resorting to cannibalism. And God knows what's happened to that network - they're Twittering, too) and doing well at his first job. He's a good kid and the rest of the family back here in PDX is doing fine.

So musically...

Right before we left for Virginia, I bought a Godin Freeway Five Active bass from someone on Craigslist. It's a killer bass with a nice tone. However, the action was set up a bit higher than I normally liked. I did not have time to reset the action before...

The last performance of AMA took place on 4 December at Macadam's Bar and Grill (and thanks to all of you who showed up). We had a two-hour first set and came back after a twenty-minute break for another fort-five minutes. We played most of the songs we knew, including eight from the AMA repertoire and two of my songs. I'm actually amazed that I could get through a two-hour set without a break! All was not, though, as they say, "all beer and skittles". First of all, the PA system was completely torn down and it took us (as usual) about forty-five minutes to figure out the cabling to actually get sound out of the main speakers, let alone the monitors. The stage was small enough that my amp had to go behind the drummer and keyboard player and there was no room to get back to it easily after they had set up. Since after we got our equipment set up and the PA working, my bass rig wasn't working, I had to crawl back behind them to figure out what was wrong. I finally figured out what it was (not in the main amp at all, but an accidentally displaced plug on my pedal setup) about two minutes before the scheduled start.

That would be bad enough, but remember that 4 December was a Friday. That means I went directly from my day job to the gig. And that means I didn't have time to (as I normally do) set up the parts of the rig I'll be using that night at home, make sure the settings were right, tear it down, and repack it to make sure I have everything and that everything is working right. So, I just took the parts Friday morning, loaded them into my car, and went to the gig. While I was playing, I noticed that my low-end was ultra-loud, but my high-end, even with the pedals' and bass' tone setting maxed out was weak and wimpy. About halfway through the second set, I figured it out. At home, I was using the head I carted away as the low-frequency half of a bi-amped setup and, as such, because I did not take the time to set up the amp for testing before the gig, the tone controls were set for high low-frequency response and low high-frequency response. And, although I'd twiddled the volume knobs on the amp while crawling behind the drummer and keyboard player to figure out what was wrong with not having sound, I did not take time to look at the tone control setup. And, given that, in the middle of a set, crawling behind them to get to the amp was not an option, I just played it the way it was, boomy bass and all.

In addition, the late setup had me in no mood to play, so it took about twenty minutes of the first set for me to get warmed up. This was enough time to make several errors in the first few songs. Finally, I was still getting used to the five-string and, since the action was higher than I normally like, I mispicked quite a few notes and one song I actually started on the wrong string (Note that I recovered once the guitar came in and I noticed the mistake - I have good relative pitch, not perfect pitch. Also note that the day after the gig, I took the bass in to have it set up properly - I have it back now and it plays like a dream).

In any case, modulo those issues, the band did fairly well. A few of the new songs (yes, I learned five new - to me at least - songs for the performance) were actually quite brilliant. And the crowd had a good time. It was a good send off for AMA.

What is left of AMA will be auditioning guitarists - we'll be trying one out on 30 December. I'd like to find one before mid-January so we can start lining up gigs again by March. We'll probably be changing the band name, since the medical tie in is so attenuated and so few of the founding members are left. We'll see.

So, in the meantime, it's back to the studio - Dave (AMA's drummer) is tracking a solo album with his songs 13-15 January and he's asked me to play bass. I've agreed to do that.

In my home studio, I've also started tracking my next CD. This one is going to be an EP with only four or five songs. The working title is of the CD "The Next Opus Brevius" and the song is called "Four Kinds". I cut and rough mixed the instrumental tracks for the first song this past weekend. I'm hoping to have working vocals for in the next couple of days. The family is going to the beach this weekend, so I won't be able to do a final mix before we get back. However, with any luck, I'll have a rough mix of the song up on the Adrian web site before New Years Eve, so you can all play it at your parties!

I've bought a new live microphone. It's a Blue Encore-200. What I like about it is that it doesn't have as great of a distance drop-off as the Shure SM-58 I was using. On the SM-58, you had to eat the mike to get any sound and, as often as not, once I did that, I was distorting (because I have a relatively loud voice). As such, I had to be very aware of where, with respect to the microphone, my mouth was. The Blue is much more forgiving in that regard. You get approximately the same level within six-inch increments of distance and the drop-off is much less pronounced. As such, I can move about a lot more easily and mouth placement is a lot less fiddly. Also, the Blue seems to have more "sparkle" than the Shure has. I'm really happy with it.

Also, as those of you who read this blog are aware, I also play guitar. I've been playing through practice amps at home and because Shiver (the midwest band) is playing a gig in April, I need an actual performance head (I figure I'll use the cabinet with the four eight-inch speaker, but if I can pick up a half stack with twelve's cheap enough, I may buy that, too). I wanted three switchable channels with individual tone and level settings for each. I had a price limit of $1500, so I narrowed down the suspects to:

Egnator Tour Master 4100
Randall V2H
Peavey 3120
Bugera 333XL
Marshall TSL100
Carvin V3
Ampeg VL-503/-1003
Traynor YCS100H2

Also on the list (but above my price range) was the Randall RM100. However, I stumbled across one of these on eBay and won an auction at a price that was well below my limit. The head should be arriving this week. It's a system with modular preamps, so I'll have to pick up a couple of those to flesh it out to it's full three-channel configuration. However, even if I buy those new, I'm still waybelow my price limit.

So, that's about it for now. The voice lessons continue. I'm looking forward to the beach trip and to playing with Shiver in April. More next week.