Archive for July, 2021

Personal Touch as a duo with me and Ric Ahlers. Yes, he is that tall!

As a duo and later as a trio adding vocalist Ann Ellis, we tried to play popular current songs along with songs we wanted to play. As the Personal Touch we tried to play cover songs with an original flair. Often having Ann sing songs by male artists. She obviously had the best voice of the three of us so she often got the more challenging songs.

A much younger me (on the right) performing with Personal Touch

Continuing the 1st set Personal Touch gets creative with some cover tunes. I always tried to do something a bit different or fun, sometimes bordering on irreverent, with my harmonies or stage comments. For only three of us on stage we kept the music and the entertainment going. This was more of a country music fan setting so we played to the crowd a bit.

I had only been playing piano for about three months before we started booking local gigs. I owned my Arp Odyssey for a long time and used it for bass sounds and effects on my original recordings, but it only played two notes at a time! Then I purchased the new Yamaha DX7 programmable synthesizer. It was that purchase that started my musical career as a sound engineer and performer. Because I taught myself how to program the DX7, I was hired at a local musical instrument store. It is the little decisions that have the biggest impact.

In fact, the EV microphones we are using I won as a music prize from the old Swallen’s Department store where I purchased the Arp Odyssey. They had a local music contest and I entered a song called “Red On Your Blue Suede Shoes“. Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

My first touring band was a trio called Personal Touch

I know I haven’t been posting things for a while, but actually I have been pretty busy. During the Covid lock down I was fortunate to get my writing partners and band mates from The Merchants of Death on-line for Internet jamming. In a while I will post some tunes we recorded live from different cities.

I have also been working with a great friend of mine to re-mix and master a 16 track live recording of the band Euphoria. Those familiar with my blog know that I also played in Euphoria, but I am not in the band at this time. Clint Garcia is the keyboard guru for the band, and when he took a break for a few years, I filled in for him.

When not jamming or mixing I often return to my archive. My recording obsession started around 1970 or so and I have been working for a while reviving very old recordings. I am currently working on my cassette collection. I found the original live recording of Personal Touch performing including what I think is the best song I have ever written. See the lyric post here: https://midimike.com/2015/03/05/per-request-lyric-to-our-bodies-move/ While I have always struggled with naming my songs, this is either called “For Those Who Wait” or “Our Bodies Move”, depending on what I was doing at the time.

We perform a bunch of familiar cover tunes and throw in originals somewhere in each set. I have a few songs from the live Personal Touch recording I will post over the following weeks. This was recorded as I mentioned using a stereo cassette deck running straight off the mixing board. We have no sound tech, so I do the mix from the stage. We ran our sound in stereo even playing live, so I just took the main outs and recorded. Back then I used my home stereo speakers for the monitors and we all fit in a single van to travel. Ahhhhh. The good old times!

Ric Ahlers was my brother-in-law and talked me into buying and learning a synthesizer and an electric piano so we could form a duo. Ric played guitar, sang, and also controlled bass pedals and a drum machine. ( I detailed in an earlier post that he has triggers attached to his guitar so he can make a cymbal crash or a drum roll). I played my 12 string Ovation guitar for some songs, sang and played keyboards for the rest. I also programmed a 2nd drum machine to play a number of songs and could be used to add tom fills or crashes on the spot. Ann Ellis joined the band as our vocalist and soon we hit the road.

Vintage cassette recording of my band Personal Touch performing live

It is a lot of work but we met great people and had a good time playing our songs and doing cover tunes with a personal touch. I think there is a date in here somewhere, so I will try to find it and give you an idea how long ago this was. Enjoy.