Archive for the ‘music’ Category

I do not have a direct line to the  music god(dess), but I am lucky enough to be acquainted with some who do.  Karina Denike and Lily Taylor are two exceptionally talented people who create amazing music and perform it effortlessly.  While they are both strong solo performers, together they create something absolutely magical.

 

 

  My personal footnote – Karina Denike is an excellent vocal teacher who coached me through all the recording sessions of my solo CD.  Lily Taylor does amazing things with a keyboard, a loop pedal and effects pedals and inspired me to experiment with a similar set up that eventually lead to my own solo performance set.  Guitarist, James Frazier, is also an audio engineer and helped me out a great deal on the final production of my solo CD.  

 

We had a fun little show at 50 Mason Social House on Friday, Dec 20th.  Here’s a clip of “Say Anything”, written by Pauli Gray.

Shot in the DarkWe’ll be back there in March, so stay tuned!

 

50-Mason-House-Flyer2.webjpg

It will be loud.

Join us!

Moog FXToday I dug through my all-things-old-and-forgotten cupboard of musical gear and pulled out my Digitech bass effects pedal.  Then I connected that bass effects pedal to my Moog Little Phatty and now I am in love!  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Moog before.  Nothing else sounds quite like it and I have consciously decided to build my sound in Shot in the Dark, my electro-rock project, around the Moog.  This just gives it an extra dimension.

Previously I had a T.C.Electronics multi-effects unit attached to the Little Phatty for a bit of chorus and reverb or the occasional delay, but it’s a second hand unit and it’s outbound signal is dirty, so it’s not anything I would want to take to a show and put through a PA.   Plus it is a rack unit,and the foot-pedal bass effects just work so much better for me.  I’m pretty excited to integrate it into my current set up for my next show with Shot in the Dark which happens on Friday, December 20th.

This will be the first show we’ve had where we can turn up.  Our maiden voyage, when we weren’t yet a band, happened in the front room of El Rio in San Francisco and we were a little unprepared when it came to understanding how our live sound needed to be handled.  Then we played at Wild Side West and understood we needed keep it down.  Finally we’ll be able to crank up the bass and drum machine and guitar and play the way we (mostly) play in rehearsals.

This will also be my first time out running Ableton as part of the performance.  I feel I use about 5 percent of Ableton’s capabilities, so I’m a little self conscious about getting on stage with a laptop and the Akai controller.  However, I’m also playing keys and singing so it’s not like I have an additional 2 hands to tweak the Ableton tracks on the fly.  Ableton is replacing my Roland SP-555 sampler which I had in my set up for a few years.  I felt really sure of the sampler.  It’s been a bit of learning curve, getting the feel of the controller down, and then I’m left with the question – what constitutes live performance?  If I’m triggering the samples on the fly, but I have a chance of screwing it up, wouldn’t it be better to just sequence everything?  And if I’m just sequencing everything, then what is my added value on stage?  Before I go spiraling out of control on these questions, I’ve promised myself to just keep everything as it is right now and worry about making changes after the December show . . . except for adding in the bass effects pedal; and re-recording a keyboard track for the Ableton tracks; and replacing the high hat part on one of the songs; and re-editing the ending on another song. But after that, I’m on lock-down, practice mode only.  Really. I mean it.

Post script on the War Horse entry – I actually ended up talking about watching War Horse to my therapist.  Isn’t that weird?  Also, that wasn’t even rock bottom. I’ve discovered Suburban Shootout.  I need to get out more!

 

A stretch limo, broken down in an underpass

I pull up behind because I know that this is my last chance

The driver reads the paper, he’s waiting on a tow

Do you mind if I sit in the back for a while?

We both have no where to go

And let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

Let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

The TV is broken, the wet bar is empty

It reeks of puke and perfume from last night’s bachelorette party

The windows are tinted to keep the rider in anonymity

Which I find ironic, since I want out of this obscurity

So let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

Let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

Let me ride to my glory, I want to ride to my fortune and fame

Let me ride to the big time where I can stake my claim

And all the kids from my high school

Now grown up and so mundane

Well they can still have the last laugh, because I am still the same

So let me ride

It’s the ride of my life

Let me ride

Yes, it’s the ride of my life

limo

In the wake of last night’s VMA’s I have come up with a subversive idea for the music industry.  Why not start promoting new pop artists who are over 35.  What more mature artists may lack in youthful good looks and reckless abandon witnessed on last night’s show, they make up for with years of experience, a serious understanding of paying your dues, and self-respect for one’s craft and performance.

Now I recognize that self-respect doesn’t really sell the way youthful good looks and wild abandon do. This could actually be a good thing.  It could be a reset button, a way to lower the bar for the young performers who feel the need to top all that’s come before, because topping all that’s come before is eventually going  to take us in to Annie Sprinkle territory and I can guarantee you that Annie Sprinkle has done it  better.

We’ve come a long way from Elvis swiveling his hips on Ed Sullivan, or even Madonna humping a wedding veil.  It takes a lot more to shock the audience.  There was a time when playing around with a bit of religious imagery was enough to get some cries of outrage.   However, religion seems to be on the decline in America so it’s hard to get the public riled up over something they may or may not care about.  Besides, Madonna drained that well dry in the 80’s and 90’s and Sinead O’Connor all but paved it over.

It seems we’ve lost the knack for subversive imagery and we’re left with nothing but the actual acts we once artfully paid homage to via creative symbolism.  Or maybe we have nothing left to rebel against.  However, there are things that still seem subversive in our society – conspicuously aging, being fat, being poor, being gentle, being average and being okay with it.  Unfortunately, none of these things make a marketable train wreck.

I maintain that here are a lot of musicians in this world, who in my opinion deserve way more attention than some of last night’s VMA acts received.  Here’s a list of some  artists/bands that would have shocked and amazed the audience both by delivering a compelling performance and also by breaking the ever devolving pop-star mold.  Check them out if you get a chance.

Diggsville

Adam Beach

The Hodges

The Clarences

Bite

Zoid

shivers

Those who are Second Life savvy,  come by Shiver’s Summer Jam on Sunday, August 11th at 12:00 PM PST to hear Shot in the Dark play a short set.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Miami%20Beach/43/222/22

Second Life is free to join, although a little tricky to navigate when you first start.  You can set up an account and download the viewer here www.secondlife.com .  Should my post inspire you to check it out, feel free to look me up in-world under my avatar name, Demolicious Wonder.

 

 

Just a quick post of some videos to illustrate my summer.

First up, two clips from the Debora Iyall Group at the WorldOne Festival in El Cerrito on July 4th.  We opened the set with a song called “99″ which is off of Debora’s solo CD Stay Strong.

 

We recorded the Elvis Costello tune, “Watching The Detectives”, as part of a compilation called Beyond Belief: A Tribute to Elvis Costello. The song worked out so well for us that we’ve added it to the set list.

 

Finally, here’s a video I just completed for Zoid.  I really enjoy the creative freedom involved in doing these videos.  Nate Toutjian, the main force behind the band, will give me a few suggestions, some video of himself singing the song, and the rest is up to me.  The music is so different from my typical listening fare, and also so evocative, that I find myself coming up with visual ideas that seem out of the realm of my usual repertoire.  Hope you enjoy it!

 

 

 

 

 

As crafty as I get

As crafty as I get

 

Summer has hit the bay area.  Here in my neck of the woods we’re weathering temperatures as high as the low 70′s.  Don’t laugh, that’s really warm for us.  I haven’t worn my black hoodie all day and now I’m sporting shorts.  I’d take the kids to the beach but I know it will be packed with people who are pretending they are in Hawaii and that just gets on my nerves.

Our favorite beach time is in January and February when your rain boots can do double duty to both keep your feet dry and the sand out of your socks.  Nothing like sitting on a deserted beach, bundled up in a jacket and a scarf beneath a hazy winter sky, watching all the hardcore surfers bob up and down in the arctic waters waiting to catch the perfect swell. And you always get the best spot on the beach too, a little nook in the rocks to shelter you from the winds.  Don’t forget the sand toys.

With the kids home from school we’ve been checking out the local attractions. We’ve hit the bowling alley, the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve,  and the San Francisco Zoo.  Next on my list is Playland-Not-At-the-Beach in El Cerrito. In between the big outings we do the usual things like parks, playgrounds, the library, and of course arts and crafts here at home.  My kids live for the next Oriental Trading Company catalog to show up in our mailbox so they can make plans for a dozen inflatable beach balls or juggling scarves.  This time around we ordered some wooden fish to color and I splurged on a bag of self adhesive jewels, which I plan to stick to everything and everything I can think of, knowing that eventually the glue will dry out and they will all fall off.  While others may feel that spending money on cheap sundries is a waste, I feel it teaches kids a valuable lesson: everything falls apart, nothing is permanent.

With all this frenzy of summer fun, I am doing my best to put in some music practice time. I have a show with the Debora Iyall Group coming up on July 4th at the World One Festival which should be a blast, even without all the fireworks.

I’m also finishing up the tracking and mixing of two songs for my side project, Shot in the Dark.  We played our first online/Second Life show on June 23rd and received a positive reception so I’m excited to get some finished music out there, wherever “there” is.

Finally I’ve got a video project in the works for Zoid.  The ball is in my court and I can see where I want to take it, but the work involved is a little daunting as it requires a lot of sitting quietly at my computer and fiddling with Adobe After Effects.  It’s much easier to go outside with the kids and bop around a dozen or so beach balls from the Oriental Trading Company, because these warm days, like all those beach balls are not here forever.

It really is all about finding balance, isn’t it?

Here’s a couple of things for you to give a listen and look. First,  here’s a song from the Shot in the Dark online show:

Fan Fic (Sexy Serial Killer) – Shot in the Dark, live

And the last video I created for Zoid, which I think turned out pretty well.  Would love to hear what you think in the comments!

 

Shot-in-the-Dark-Flyer

Saturday, May 18th marks the debut of a side project I’ve been working on with guitarist, Pauli Gray, called Shot in the Dark.   Pauli comes from a hard rock/punk perspective in his guitar playing and I of course am all about the synthesizer. We decided to meet in the middle with out influences, and so we’ve put together songs built on an electronic rhythm section with hard rock guitar to roughen up the edges.  Vocals tend to be a bit punk and we’ve got touches of dark wave and industrial thrown in for good measure.  The goal is to keep it high energy and fun.  It all takes place at Wild Side West in San Francisco with a start time around 6 pm.  It’s also a fundraiser for AIDS LifeCycle.    It would be great to see you there!