As we all adjust to a new reality, the challenge for this blog will be to find inspiration with much less outside stimulus.
At least I have the studio to keep me busy. Others seem to have already begun to reach out from isolation with virtual open mic’s and online collaboration. I hope to be able to something along those lines soon as well.
I wish everyone good health. Stay home and wash your hands! And be well!
As our world begins to simultaneously expand and shrink, this may be a good time to make adjustments.
For me, it could mean taking more time on mixes, working on long-mothballed songs and learning more about recording techniques (thank you Internet!). Some household chores may get done more regularly too. All good!
Downside is no more catching other people perform for the next few weeks or maybe months, and some FatC shows in jeopardy.
At least I don’t have to make a living at this and my thoughts go out to artists, and service industry people whose lives are frozen in place. It will be hard, but when it’s over, please make it a point to tip both generously. They will need it badly.
I’ll leave it up to readers to suss out the title of this post…
It does convert the theme well enough regardless of whether or not you catch the reference, as both a at Winterfolk and this past week at the Linsmore, I was sound tech.
In both instances, I mixed sound from right in front of one of the FOH (front of house) speakers. The Tranzac offered me no choice, but at the Linsmore, it was my choice to bring my own mixer, and use the club’s as a power amp only. The reason is that the house mixer is BEHIND the band, so every adjustment means going on stage while the band is on. Simply not on, as far as I’m concerned.
On the plus side, besides being far less disruptive for the show, the sound quality was much easier to manage and I think made for a good mix, according to both the players and the audience comments I received. Thanks!
On the negative side, it was pretty intense given the console was about a metre from the speaker, especially when the band’s dynamics reached more energetic levels. Nothing wrong with the levels per se in the club further out, just loud up close.
This brought me to investigate hearing protection, which up until now I have not used (tsk, tsk) but I intend on investing in should I do this again. I found this site that does a good job of comparing models based on a variety of factors (cost, comfort, sound quality, etc.). I thought it may be a useful link for others too. Enjoy!
Last weekend was very busy, hence the advance post last time, but as promised, here is the wrap-up of this year’s Winterfolk ex-vee-eye-eye-eye (that’s 18 for the non-classically schooled types).
I had three shifts: Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The job was to help the performers set up, make sure everything was plugged in right and then make it sound good for the audience and the people on stage. Things got off to a great start at the Southern Cross room in the Tranzac Club, particularly working with Lori Campbell on Sound Assist. Saturday and Sunday, I worked solo, but was fortunate to have both Kevin Gould and Aaron Fund Salem drop in at transition times to help with the set up, and make fun of me for my choice of mics. All kidding aside, these guys are consumate professionals and I can’t thank them enough for their patience, expertise and trust. I would be remiss in not also thanking Jen Arima who coordinated the volunteers and made the whole event run seamlessly.
Below are the artists I had the pleasure of hearing and mixing.
All the performers were great, as you’d expect from a well-curated festival like Winterfolk. One aspect stood out for me, and that was the new young talent that appeared for the first time. This is a great move by the organizers to attract new audiences and expose them to established performers too.
Three in particular were notable for me.
The first was an Australian duo named Saije, whose sound was considerably larger than you’d expect from only two people. Great harmonies, interesting tunings and a cool use of percussion (hand and foot) showed what could perhaps be the new direction of folk music. Follow the link: well worth checking out.
Another new artist to Winterfolk was Just Jillian. I have known of Jillian for a few years now, first way back when she played in Remote Wonder who were a regular at the Only Café Saturday open mic. She even guested once at my now defunct ABC Songwriters’ Circle. It was great to hear the songs from her album What Day Is It and see how she continues to grow confidently.
Perhaps Taylor Abrahamse was the most interesting discovery for me, although he’s been around for a while despite his young age (hey, he has his own Wikipedia entry). Rather than go on about him, I suggest following the link to his YouTube channel. He is about to drop and album produced by the legendary (and I don’t use that word lightly) Eddie Kramer, who also has a Wikipedia entry.
Out and About
If you’re looking for a fun and cheap event on Tuesday, come to the Linsmore for Indie Tuesdays from 8 to 11. I’ll be doing sound for the Trollblazers at 8, Gary Edward Allen at 9 and Krove at 10. Eclectic doesn’t begin to describe what this will be like!
Things are going to get busy this week as I have a few recording sessions scheduled. Plus, as of Friday, I will be mixing sound throughout the weekend at Winterfolk, as mentioned in a previous post. Tickets are still available and a really great way to catch outstanding music. I am looking forward to this, not just for the experience of mixing, but just for the pleasure of hearing so many great performers.
And speaking of great performers…
Planning a bit further ahead, I recommend catching The Lonely Hearts at the Dakota on Friday February 28th. I already have my tickets and hope to see many friends there as well. TLH always deliver a great show! Tickets are selling quickly so get them here asap!
This week’s post will be almost all about the studio, but I will let FatC drummer extraordinaire Chris Bender speak for himself.
I hope to able to confirm a new show at the Dock on Queensous peu. In the meantime, mark your calendar for Chris and Fraz Milne’s appearance at C’est What? along with another fave, the James Clark Institute on February 29.
The Black Swan show this past Sunday was a lot of fun as well as a satisfying challenge. Not only did the Cats+ (with the amazing Omar Saab on rhythm guitar) perform a mega-set to open, we played two sets with special guest Chris Scian, which involved prepping a bunch of songs some of us had never played. It all came off very well.
Here are some samples.
Following this “Two-Chrises” event, the Swan’s management were so pleased, they offered us a last-minute slot for this coming Friday. The show starts at 10 PM so we are looking forward to seeing all you night-owlish fans.
There is an affliction many guitarists suffer from. Beyond the obvious calluses or possible repetitive strain injury, GAS is the most costly (not that kind of GAS). Guitar Acquisition Syndrome affects many of our ranks; the need for ever more guitars is addictive. To mitigate the impact of GAS, some players have moved onto PAS – Pedal Acquisition Syndrome. Think of it as the methadone to guitar collection heroine.
I am dealing with this…right!
My latest geeky project is to rehab (get it?) my largest pedal board—one of three—to a more reliable and versatile arrangement.
The first concern was the “solderless” cables I had been using. I don’t trust them. While many have been in the pedalboard for years due, mostly to low profile of the connectors, a few have proven unreliable. They work by direct contact but if any part is loose, they will fail. There is little margin for error. I decided to revert back to soldered cable as they are more resilient and durable but faced the challenge of finding the same small solderable connector profile at a reasonable cost. I found a great supplier out of the States called Redco. Since they shipped via US Postal Service, it kept prices in line.
Original solderless connector cable
Contact fit detail
Small profile Redco connectors
Next, I felt it was time to get a dedicated isolated power supply for mostly each pedal to reduce hum and ensure good good voltage for each; the non-guitar folks’ eyes are glazing over…
Finally, I needed better access to certain effects that were less than appropriately on the upper row (the two Line 6 pedals – DL4 and Roto-Machine), and these. The entire board had to be re-layed out to bring these more under foot. It also led to a few content changes with the TC Electronic PolyTune and Visual Sound Route 66 compressor/overdrive pedals being moved to another board, and the Boss TU-2 tuner and EHX Soul Food overdrive plus the newly acquired TC Electronic Hyper Gravity compressor taking their places. It also made room for the Boss PS-3 Pitch Shifter/Delay.
The bulk of the work is done, although. few parts are still on the way to allow faster setup. Perhaps an update when that happens, along with a connected project (ha!) for a sideboard. TBD.
So yeah, I’ve got it under control. Thanks for asking!
Special Show Coming Soon!
I am working on something special and hope to have the details sorted out in the next few weeks. Details to follow!
In a few weeks, the Cats will be back at the Black Swan Tavern for a late afternoon matinée show. With two shows already done (guesting Salabama this past June and Omar Saab in November), the format seems to be established. This time – Sunday, January 26, 2020 from 4 to 8 PM – our guest will be Chris Scian, for whom the Cats will provide backup for two sets after we set the mood with one of our own.
Chris and I first crossed paths at a open mics, particularly at the one at Legends on Danforth, hosted by Amber Durette and Gary Edward Allen. Although Chris more often plays covers, he is an established and gifted songwriter, which led to an appearance at my Songwriters’ Circle back in July of 2018.
Chris’ solid vocals and deep catalogue of songs made him an obvious choice for our Black Swan matinée. We expect this to be a solidly fun show, so please join us, Chris (Scian) and Chris (Bender), along with NeMo and me. There is no cover, but PWYC donations are always welcome.
Until next week, where I may geek out on a new gear project, be well!