Archive for ‘Music’

March 27, 2012

What the heck is this?

A friend of mine linked to her blog on Facebook and I read it (and dug it, since I hadn’t seen her or talked to her in a long time) and I realized, oh yeah I got one of those things too. I spend too much time on FB and playing Angry Birds. But I also play the piano a lot and, as of late, recording (finally) and trying to put out the 10+ years of music I’ve sworn I will finish.

Progress is slow. Time takes way to much time. And there isn’t enough of it on any given day to just get a decent take. And I’ve forced myself to get a take of something done every time I set the mics up and tune the guitar and let it rip. And the rule is that if I get the take done, I can’t listen to it until at least 24 hours later. My sense of objectivity will have some recovery time and then I can decide that, yeah it’s a keeper or nope, that’s going to need to be replaced.

Is anyone out there reading? Drop me a line, I’ll probably link to the FB once I have something interesting to say.

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September 22, 2008

Duit on Monday

I’m playing another show, this one totally solo, on Monday September 22. Along for the ride is Kyle Motor of The Motorz and Wendy Schneider who was the force behind Bugatti Type 35 and is now using the moniker Shooter Jane.

The real reason for the show is the last harrah for Nate “Waylan” Palan who is/has left Madison with his girl for the richer musical pastures of Brooklyn, NY. Nate has a mountain of shows this week, including a Tuesday at The Crystal Corner with the Hometown Sweethearts and a double bill on Thursday with his old band Electric Automatic and a cd release for his other band The God Damns. WHEW! Those other shows will be good but are starting late at night. If you gotta get up in the morning and work, our show at the High Noon starts at 8pm. Better get there early as you know how those singer/songwriter shows are mob scenes. It’s often hard to hear myself over the screaming crowd, dontcha know…

August 30, 2008

Mighty Mighty Fuh King

Thanks to everyone who listened to or downloaded the Beatles Universe show. I’ve gotten some fantastic feedback and we had a good time. For those of you who missed out: Dave 3000, Pete Selbo and I played some wacky records but also played some live Beatles songs on Dave’s Kosmik Radiation show. Everything went well until late in our second set when my amp decided to wig out and we couldn’t finish our last two songs. Perhaps the ghosts of long dead Beatles songs were weighing in on our renditions…

If you’d like to know what we played here’s a link to the set list and if you’re really nice I’ll send you or burn you a copy of the show. I think we gathered an appropriately insane list of songs, each with its own connection to the Beatle Universe. I was especially proud to track down the single by Freddy Lennon (John’s father, who sounds a bit like his son. Or is it the other way around?) as well as featuring a song by Paul’s brother Mike McGear. Our best pick of the show was the “The King of Fuh” by the mysterious weirdo known as Brute Force whose connection to the Beatles is scarce but real. And the song is very catchy and hilarious. We looked high and low for this song as the single is rare and oddly enough I found it on itunes for 99 cents

August 1, 2008

Now She's Hit the Big Time

I’m going to be on WORT next week. The show is Kosmik Radiation which is run by my friend Dave 3000. Long ago I hyped his program as it keeps me company on my Tuesday overnight cab shift. Over the past couple of years we’ve discussed show topics as Dave does a themed show of some sort on his first broadcast of every month. Being a Beatlemaniac (and knowing Dave’s affinity for them) I suggested a Beatles Orbit show and so that’s what we’re doing.

So, if you are up at 2 am on Wednesday morning August 6, tune in and hear us play all sorts of songs that have a Beatle connection. Some are obvious–the many many covers out there–and some are not so obvious–like the one where Paul is crunching carrots. Yep, we’re gonna play that one.

Of course, 99.9% of you will not be up at those hours to hear what we are up to. Fortunately, WORT is now totally digital and archives each show for at least 2 weeks on their site. Click through and you’ll find what you’re looking for. Dave also posts a copy of each show on his site that you can download and put on your mp3 player or computer. We have some fun surprises in store for you vigilant listeners. The hardest thing was to narrow down the hours and hours of stuff we have to a 3 hour slot. Who knows, if this one goes well perhaps there will be more Beatle madness down the road.

July 9, 2008

Got Me Some Press

I was interviewed in the Wisconsin State Journal this past weekend. The article is here if you’d like to read it. Like most pieces about me, I did the actual writing and it turned out pretty well. I don’t think anyone has asked those exact questions to me before so I had to stop and think for a few minutes before typing it up.

There was a picture that I sent with the article that got printed in the paper but did not make it to the online version. That picture is here and I feel it represents me quite well: slightly blurry, eyes unfocused, hair straight up, standing in my living room with abstract art in the background.

June 7, 2008

Plugging

I’ve been hard at work (still) on the recording. James loaned me a nice bass and a strange microphone which works great for bass drum and such. I’ve got a lot of guitar tracks down but have examined many of them and found things to be a bit out of whack. And so I plunge on with re-re-re-recordings of songs which I haven’t played for really anyone and wonder when I’ll be done.

There are days when I feel like things will really come together and I’ll get this thing out and play some shows and get the ball rolling again. Other days I feel like I should just wrap things up quickly, burn some Cds for the folks who have been bugging me about it for so long (you know who you are) and concentrate on other things. Such is the life of a musician. Plus the Low Czars have a double feature this coming Friday: a wedding at Olin Park and then “headlining” a show (more like closing a show, actually) at the High Noon. We’ve cranked up the wedding tune machine and have it working well right now but don’t know exactly what we’re going to play at the end of the night. Perhaps the wedding show redux? Come on down to find out…

January 22, 2008

Honesty

In my quest to play piano I’ve had to dig deep into my record collection to find piano-based stuff. In many cases, I’ve had to dig deep into records I used to own and tonight it dawned on me that I could probably figure out some Billy Joel tunes. He’s a baritone like me (so I can actually sing ’em) and I used to have his Greatest Hits and I played the shit out it–though it’s more likely I taped it and played the shit out of the tape. Nobody seems to take Mr. Joel all the seriously these days but I grew up in the late 70’s/early 80’s period where he cranked out some tasty hit songs. I immediately dialed him up on YouTube and found that, like many smart artists, his entire video catalog is officially posted. My immediate pick to figure out was “Allentown” as I’d always liked the way the chords flowed. I listened and watched for a while and fumbled on my guitar and couldn’t quite keep up with what was going on, so I searched for someone else’s chords–and, like usual, found a page that was about 2/3 correct. It got me on the right track and I figured out everything that was incorrect and then I noticed at the top of the page it said:

“Have you seen a mistake? Has someone defaced this transcription? Help Lovebolts by editing it or reverting to an older version.”

So I clicked through and found that you could indeed do real editing to an existing chord page. I spent about a half hour combing over “Allentown,” making sure I caught every detail and fixed all the broken chords. You can view it here. I added a little note at the bottom that explains that Mr. Joel adds lots of notes to his chords, thus making it almost impossible to render this song accurately on an acoustic guitar. I was impressed by the ease by which I was able to fix everything and it made me wonder why more chord sites aren’t set up like this. I’ve done a few Kinks chord pages over the years and corrected many more and I love to lend my ear to the world in this way. As I’ve said before, I love searching for chords and coming across disturbingly accurate work.

December 11, 2007

Blahrgh

I haven’t been here in blog-ville in a long time. I can’t even remember what I last wrote about but that’s not really important. I’ve actually been hard at work on my 5-years-in-the-making record but the weather is now starting to interfere a bit. My basement gets a quite frosty around December and so this year I’m breaking down and buying some sort of heater for the studio. Progress on this project only comes in small bursts but thus far my return to recording has been a lot of fun. I have my Wurlitzer electric piano more or less fixed (thanks Peter!) and have the Hammond Organ running well enough (it still needs some hum-zapping) and have come to the conclusion that my $700 acoustic guitar sounds good but my 25-year-old $250 guitar actually records better. Go figure.

Guitars have not been in vogue for a while. After doing a wedding this summer and learning a few songs on the piano (and faltering through them at the show) I decided it was time to live out my fantasy of being a competent piano player. So for the last four months I’ve spent at least an hour a day in the office, banging away on the upright we got a few years back. I’m approaching this in the same way I learned guitar: I practice my basic skills and try to figure out familiar songs. I look around on-line for cheat sheets and it’s the usual hit-or-miss but in this case even the wrong chords can help me find the right ones. And new songs open up new windows: for the wedding we learned “You Never Even Called Me By My Name” which forced me to learn how to do a walking bass line. My left hand was not happy and it made me sort of dizzy but I got it down and now can add that feel to just about anything. Learning “Hello, It’s Me” forced me to learn how to play major and minor 7th chords which helped a lot when I started working on Steely Dan songs (ha!).

I’ve always loved playing the guitar and really felt like it was my calling as a musician. In my late 20’s I actually became a good player but soon realized my limitations. I can’t really play leads, even with a lot of rehearsal. I can play lots of chords and keep my bands from going off the rails by being rock steady but time has not made me into anything fancy. Yet on the piano I surprise myself every time I sit down to play. My muscle memory has really come to life as sometimes when I try a new song I already know how to create an unfamiliar chord. And on the piano there are so many ways to create a chord. On the guitar you have 3 octaves spread over six strings and that limits you to 3 or 4 different ways to make even a three note chord. On the piano there are 100 ways and I’m just starting to tap into that reservoir. Plus all that music theory that I learned as a kid is suddenly so valuable when trying to figure stuff out.

So, sometime down the road I’m going to drag the Wurly out on stage with the Low Czars or whoever will have me. I wish I had a nice keyboard piano thing to tote around but that will have to wait (It’s a shame there aren’t pianos at every venue and bar in the world anymore, but that’s a whole other blog!) My current “figuring out” project is the Zombies’Odessey and Oracle of which I have about 2/3 finished. Look for that one coming to a future rock opera show near you.

September 19, 2007

Sweet Jesus, that's smooth!

I guess I’m pretty late to the phenomenon of Yacht Rock. For those of you who haven’t felt it’s healing powers, Yacht Rock is a fictionalization of the music scene in Los Angeles in the late 70’s and early 80’s, centering around the studio of one Koko Goldstein. Included in the cast of characters is Kenny Loggins, Michael Mc Donald, Steely Dan, Hall & Oates among others. Having lived through the radio of that era, I was truly stunned by the sheer genius of this show. The show description here sums this phenomemon better than I ever could. If you’re even half the music nerd that I am, scroll down from that summary and start downloading these episodes. Now. I’ve watched them all a dozen or so times and still can’t stop laughing.

August 22, 2007

Walken After Midnight

The Low Czars are preparing for another wedding coming up in September. We were provided with a list of stuff the bride and groom would like to hear and I believe we have the whole thing covered. Some of the songs are very simple (“California Stars” by Wilco is a three chorder) while others sound simple but run on strange rhythms (“In Dreams” by Roy Orbison). Last year we did “Stand By Your Man” and had the hardest time with that one, as it’s got two verses followed by a barrage of choruses and then BANG it’s over. I’m also digging out the keys for this wedding. I played my Wurlitzer electric piano and a very cheesy loaner keyboard at a couple of shows last year and was frustrated by my lack of experience as a player. I also had issues with volume (which was my error) and being able to sing and play the piano at the same time. The Wurly is a champ and fun to play but the cheesy keyboard doesn’t really double as a piano very well. And this year we’re doing “This Will Be Our Year” by the Zombies which, while possible on a guitar, really works best on a piano. So, I solicited my brother to bring up his very nice Yamaha digital piano. It’s a full 88 keys which is an embarrassment of riches as I tend to play mostly near the middle. The action is very accurate, the piano sounds are very nice and the extra organ/electric piano/synth/string sounds are a bit cheesy but of high enough quality that I’ll be able to fake my way on a couple of organ parts. I’m letting Bob sing lead on everything I play on the piano and have gotten pretty good at back-up singing while sitting at the keyboard. Playing on a “fake” instrument is a good lesson for me. I love playing my “real” piano and my “real” Hammond organ but know I can’t drag either of them to a show and the days of having either available to play at any given venue are long gone.