This pandemic-enforced isolation has provided an opportunity to spend more time and energy on recording projects. Other than catching one live show (Fraz Milne’s Looper Madness at Relish), things have been consistently anchored to home.
This has provided an opportunity to work on new songs, some in the works as I write this, and collaborating with the band to record parts remotely.
However, and with all the necessary precautions, a few sessions have taken place here down in the ManCave, namely with Arch Rockefeller to track drums played in the cozy drum booth by the masterful Alonzo Moore for an upcoming album. Both are consummate professionals and I thank them for their patience as I continue to learn better techniques to record. The opportunity to get more and better gear is a benefit as well.
I’ve also had a chance to work with other friends to mix their songs: Salabama’s upcoming full album release has been pushed back due to the pandemic, so the plan for now may be to release singles as the tunes are done and mastered. There should be something up soon, so keep your eyes open on social media.
Chris Scian has also been a guest to discuss mixing techniques, which led to a reissue of his song Frontline, which is embedded below.
Lastly, Omar Saab, frontman for The Lonely Hearts, and soon to be son-in-law, has been beavering away in his home studio in Hamilton on original material. His first release, under the Mean Streaks banner is Teenage Rush which is also included in this post. Omar also put together the video for this song.
I hope you will take a moment to listen to these two artists’ songs.
I should have another post for you in November, provided the pandemic doesn’t get in the way. As such, as urge everyone to be extra cautious as we enter this second wave.
One benefit to the pandemic has been a chance to re-examine the tasks to which I have committed myself. Some new ones have been initiated, some strengthened, and a few may have to fall by the wayside.
Amongst the latter, this blog has been a consideration.
After some reflection, I have decided to change this blog’s publication frequency as compelling content seems harder to come by and, as you may have noticed, the length of the posts has grown shorter since I began a few years back.
Starting this month, the posts will appear monthly and will feature a greater number of smaller announcements, in many cases likely summaries of social media posts which I hope to make better use of. It will also allow me to devote more time to recording and practising, which need attention.
Things are in the works so there will be content, which I look forward to sharing with you next in October.
Again the days have drifted by and I lost track of “post day”, four days ago.
Still, better late than never.
This week’s post will be about one of the new songs written during the pandemic, although not specifically inspired by it.
Rather, the idea of things happening due to odds, the hope to beat them, and simply the concept of numbers themselves have fuelled this latest song.
Layered over that, I set myself the challenge of working in different time signatures (again numbers). This one has three – 7/4, 4/4 and 6/8. Huge thanks to NeMo and Chris for bass and drums, remarkably done remotely!
The title comes from the classroom game played many times when I taught.
This week, I’m featuring another fellow musician who has recently posted some interesting remote collaborations on social media.
I got to know about Joanne Park from her appearances at Relish and through her posts. Not only is she a great and fearless bassist (playing and singing Yes songs unaccompanied save for her on bass is remarkable), she also plays a great guitar, particularly in the Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed style.
The video below is Supertramp’s Logical Song, and besides Joanne, includes Joan Marshall on keyboard and Kristen Prince on saxophone. Worth a listen!
Thanks to Gary17’s weekly post, I was pointed in the direction of this quite spectacular cover of the Queen/Bowie classic Under Pressure. Please check out Gary’s post at Torontomoon.ca for details of the line up and how this video came to be. Also, please consider subscribing to his newsletter if you are a musician or a fan. It’s the least we can do to show support back for someone who has never given up on live music.
The days are drifting into one another. Partly why this post is late.
Anyway, now that heat has finally arrived in Toronto (nearly 30° today), there is impetus to install the window AC unit that had been sitting in storage since the rest of the fenestration was updated.
I’m happy to report it’s done. Even with only me in there, the computer and the rest of the electronics in the old MaCave put out quite a bit of heat over the course of a recording/mixing session. No excuses now to avoid ongoing projects.
Over the last week or so, I have engaged in exercising the one element that can improve my mixes in the old ManCave Studio.
Thanks to a suggestion by respected producer and excellent communicator Warren Huart on his brilliant YouTube channel called Produce Like a Pro, I subscribed to SoundGym, a pay-for-use website that lets users develop audio acuity through games that test a variety of skills all related to recording, mixing and production.
For instance, identifying the relative levels of instruments in a mix, or which frequency is bested in a sample, and so on. The result is less time guessing what to do to fix and improve recordings, as well as more confidence.
I am finding both very useful. Check them out – there is a free trial on SoundGym so you don’t have to immediately commit.
Every so often, a subject for this blog luckily falls in my lap. This is the case this week.
Isolation has meant that I’ve had to learn to work physically distanced from the rest of the band, so we have worked out technological solutions, including all of us set up for home recording. By sending each other files, we can play along to previously recorded bits and then sum them up for a finished product.
Good friend and Relish regular Dan Boggs wrote a pandemic ode, and recorded it solo on his computer (phone?). When I saw it, I could not resist the idea of fleshing it out with a full band arrangement.
But first, a few words about Dan.
Dan Boggs has performed many, many times at Relish (and probably other places too, but that’s where I know him from). His songwriting is original in the truest sense of the word, with subject matter often out-there (surgical anaesthetic?), and clever crafting of the lyrics. His latest is called Bunker Town and speaks to the isolation we all feel. I have included a before and after for your enjoyment. On the full band version, Chris Bender plays drums and piano, Neil Morris plays bass, and I added the electric guitars, then mixed the whole thing. It was a lot of fun to do.
There is a rumour that a compilation of locally written pandemic anthems may surface in the future. This song should certainly be part of that.