Archive for June, 2006

June 26, 2006

Hearing Impaired

I’m part of a supergroup wedding band, which is a supergroup mostly because everyone (besides me) is a member of another major local band (including The Super Eights, The New Recruits, The Outtatunes, and YAR!) We did a one-off gig last year for the “reception” of our friends Adam and Erika and everyone had so much fun (us included) that the happy couple decided to throw an anniversary party and have us come back and play again. We learned about 20 songs and picked them according to what bands (and particular songs) the couple liked. We also tried to pick songs about relationships that would be rather questionable if played for a normal wedding reception–like “Lip Service” by Elvis Costello and “A Legal Matter” by The Who just to be a little snarky.

This year we’ve been asked to play an “actual” wedding reception (!) two weeks after the anniversary party, so we’ve just reconvened to whip ourselves into something a bit more danceable. The Groom has a specific request for a tune by that lovable 80’s duo Hall & Oates so I dutifully found a copy of the song and, being the lazy musician I am, started poking around on-line for tablature/chords/etc. What I found was typical of my experience with searching for such things–someone had posted a version of the song that was on the right track chord-wise but when played was missing key elements. I sat down with my guitar and powered through the song and in twenty minutes had it figured out. Sure, the chords were a bit on the jazzy side (lots of major and minor sevenths) but I was surprised–not at how simple the song was but how someone could post a version that was miles from being accurate.

I often wonder how other musicians do this sort of thing–do people buy fake books or does everyone else just know how stuff goes? My ear has always superceded my playing ability–that is, I could figure how to play almost anything (within reason) but couldn’t necesarily reproduce it myself. I’ve spent most of the last decade teaching other people how to play my songs so the need for me to hunker down and sweat through the chords of something has mostly dried up. In figuring out the Hall & Oates song (and other songs for the project) I’ve found that I still have the ear and that my playing and recall are even sharper than before. My first performances on my acoustic were playing covers and, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, I’ve come full circle with the wedding supergroup.

June 21, 2006

Everybody's Talkin'

The other night I was doing an image search for 70’s pop singer Harry Nilsson and found the usual assortment of his album covers, fan pictures, etc (I’m constantly on the lookout for images to use on compilations I put together or just nice things to put in My Pictures for the screen saver) and I found two new scans I’d not seen before. They were linked to this site which is for the production company of a new documentary called “Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody’ Talkin’ About Him?)” (warning: the Flash intro has very loud music)

I’ve been a Nilsson fan for a long time and had no idea this was even coming out! The press release (along with the extended trailer on the MySpace site) say that the documentary has footage of Harry as well as interviews from folks (and Nilsson friends) like Micky Dolenz, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Al Kooper, Randy Newman, Van Dyke Parks, The Smothers Brothers and Brian Wilson. Biographic info about Nilsson is out there, but he’s one of those legendary rock figures that never had a nice book published after his death in 1994. I even considered for a while the impossible task of gathering information to do a Nilsson bio just so I could learn more about his life and times–not so much to publish, but to satisfy my curiosity. I’m guessing this film will not make it to Madison theaters and will have to be a video pleasure, but I’m really excited for a look. I’m going to petition the Madison Film Fest folks to have this in the next round. Nilsson is famous for a couple of his hit songs but, like most successful folks, there’s much more to his story.