Archive for the ‘MUSIC’ Category

I know it has been a while since I have posted much, but in reality I have been pretty busy. I have a lot to catch up on, but for now I want to share a new song with you. I wrote the lyrics to “Trap” a while ago and now have music for it. The lyrics have changed a bit so I will include an updated lyric sheet as well.

I have a vocalist coming in to redo the melody track to replace mine, and I will keep my harmony track. Soon another friend will send me bass guitar tracks, but for now, here is “Trap”.

When you think you are making the right decision
Everybody you connect with is on your side.
Well, buckle up your seat belts and hold on to your cap
You don’t know it, but you just walked into a trap.

A trap you can’t get out of. X2
A trap you couldn’t see.
A trap of your own making.
Trapped for all eternity.

Still struggling and squirming trying to believe
Yellin’ ‘I don’t understand’, makes you look like a fool.
All bundled up nice with a box, bow and pretty wrap
However you say it, you’re stuck in a trap.
Lashing out at anyone that comes even close.
You keep pushing yourself further and further away.

Suddenly you hear a loud and powerful snap
Now you know it, you just walked into a trap.

When you think you are making the right decision
Everybody you connect with is on your side.
Well, buckle up your seat belts and hold on to your cap
You don’t know it, you just walked into a trap.

It seems like you are making your own choices
Everything’s going down just like you planned.
The box is smashed and you’re hanging from a strap
However you play it, you’re stuck in a trap.
Suddenly you hear a loud and powerful snap
Now you know it, you just walked into a trap.

I mentioned before that one of the more painful things about getting old is inheriting stuff from your friends that are either no longer able to access older technology or loved ones that checked out of life before you do.

Recently, many wonderful musical things of no real value have found a home in my house. Some make noise, some record noise, some avoid noise, but all have been turned into music by friends of mine for decades. The memories and cave-man-level responses to sounds from the past hits me hard. You probably grew up hearing these sounds, but you might have been in the womb or soon after to this world when hearing them. These toys literally created most of the pop – rock and country music you grew up to. The list is too long for TV and commercial applications.

Anyway, unless you know what this stuff is (and things weren’t small in those days) and how to make it work it might as well be a pyramid that becomes nothing a storage problem. As usual, I digress.

Recently, I was given half a ton of old 45 rpm vinyl records.

But not the ones you buy at a store. To avoid another really interesting connected tangent, I will simply say that these came from a company where my wife worked. It was one company and then absorbed then another company and Clear Channel picked them up when their critical mass became too big to ignore. I apologize for the brevity, as most people won’t be interested, but they conducted surveys for radio stations across the US.

They condensed the song – ALL of the songs you would likely hear on commercial radio decades ago – to a 5 or 10 second “hook“. Whatever it was that identified the song to listeners was the hook. They conducted thousands of live – in – person paid surveys across the country to get listener’s opinions of the NEW artist or POTENTIAL new hit. These are not for sale and not available at the stores. My people know I can still use vinyl and other technologies but more importantly I can take care of them.

This brings me to another tangent I cannot avoid. So many of the treasures I have been given are no longer operable or salvageable. A little more thought in storage would have turned so many of these treasures into true gems. Rust, mold, misuse – no use, all take their toll. My stuff still works. From the time I was in high school forward. I bought good equipment and accessories and I took care of them because I knew I could not afford to replace them.

I finally get to the point to this post. I have hundreds of records. My wife worked for years watching literally thousands of bands and their best efforts to make it big. Yes, I heard many of those as well. Some were interesting, some were cool and most were painful. But the thing I am getting to after listening to each 45 record after the other is a simple but powerful message if you are trying to ‘get a deal’: Don’t spend all your energy creating the GREAT HOOK. I hear failure after failure after failure trying to be something you are not. Maybe you have to be cute or edgy to get noticed. Just make it your own edge.

ANY of these bands produced records and demo’s that are much better than my in-home singer/songwriter efforts. They have money and backers and investors looking for the next best thing. But the great hooks are organic and time-locked so you are chasing a dream. So much potential dedicated to making your band sound like someone or something else already out there. To fit the cookie-cutter rather than make the cookie shape. It could be said I make the cookie shape and I am not famous. Mine is not a formula for success.

There are famous artists in this small collection so many do succeed, though I see so many failures because they are trying to find the magic lamp. Stop looking for it and create one for yourself. If it was that easy I would not be sitting here, lol. In the future I will share some of these records. They are not for sale, but I am not sure that means they are not for share.

Here is a record by Gipsy Kings I thought was pretty cool.

In no specific order here, we have our third vocalist working with my cover band called The Chase. Performing with us now is Sean Bandy (Shoeless Sean to his followers). I don’t think I have any real pictures of this time. I will keep looking but so far nothing great.

Sean also played acoustic guitar and does a great job of working with the audience. We played songs from the Beatles to Zappa and from James Brown to Queen and he kept up with them all. I am playing keyboards and electric rhythm guitar, as well as back up vocals. I am not running sound at this point from what little I can remember. I posted a couple videos of us on my You Tube channel earlier. See the following links THE CHASE LIVE 1 and THE CHASE LIVE 2. These are more like music with pictures and old video clips. The video recordings I made for that time did not translate well to the leap in resolution 30 years later lol.

The Chase and vocalist Sean Bandy performing “Cross Eyed Mary” by Jethro Tull
The Chase and vocalist Sean Bandy performing “I Feel Good” by James Brown
The Chase and vocalist Sean Bandy performing “Freeway Jam” by Jeff Beck and “Black Friday” by Steely Dan

Which vocalist is your favorite from the few examples here?

Continuing on in this series, the cover band I performed with is trying out new vocalists. Fortunately I record often and want to share with you some of the live performances during this time with The Chase. The songs were performed by James Fidelli and he also played a bit of electric rhythm guitar.

The Chase vocalist Jamie Fidelli singing “Stone Cold Crazy” by Queen and “Red House” by Jimi Hendrix
The Chase vocalist Jamie Fidelli singing “Tight Rope” then “Digging in the Dirt” by Peter Gabriel
The Chase vocalist Jamie Fidelli singing “One” by Creed

For a quick recap, I have been going through archived recordings I have made over the years. Recently reviving performances with the bands I have played in, I want to give you a few samples of recordings I made with The Chase.

For a period of time we were reforming the band Euphoria and looking for a new vocalist. These recordings were during that transition period working out with different vocalists. Short story for new visitors, I worked at a local instrument store as a salesman when asked by The Chase to fill in for their sound man while he was on vacation for a few weeks. I had never run sound (with the exception of one hotel gig band that was in desperate need for one night.) I filled in, loved it and the band, the sound man could not return and I became their regular sound guy. The band was smart and paid the sound engineer the same as the other members of the band. They knew the house sound was important.

Once running sound, the keyboard player took a break for a few years and I worked really hard to fill in for him. Soon after that I started playing rhythm guitar too………. and yes, in the early years I ran sound, played keyboards, rhythm guitar, back-up vocals and percussion all at the same time from stage. For a period of time I ran sound from the audience and had my instruments next to me. Not as strong a player as the others in the band I tried to “earn my keep” by being a jack of all trades.

I have recorded music since I bought my first four-track reel-to-reel when I was around 13 years old. I am closer now to 70 years old. When working with bands as a sound engineer or member, I record for a lot of reasons. Some were not intended to be hi-quality recordings and often were stereo cassette or DAT machines connected directly to the main outs of the sound board. Usually there was no level test and the band members would not know I was recording at all because it was so basic.

In the next few posts I will share cover songs we played live with three vocalists. In some I am playing Keyboards, rhythm guitar etc., and some I am running sound using various techniques to find quick ways to get a decent live recording. Many of these I have detailed here in my Live Sound Reinforcement Series.

Here are a few samples, starting with Gary Jefferson as the lead vocalist.

Vocalist Gary Jefferson performing The Rooster by Alice In Chains
Vocalist Gary Jefferson performing Middle Man by Living Colour
The Chase performing cover of Cliffs of Dover by Eric Johnson

I have a rough version of a new song called “What You Want”. Well, it is called that now because I put lyrics to it from an earlier Lyric Post.

This is a tune using an old Yamaha drum machine I recently became caretaker of. I set up a nice but simple drum pattern using my Alesis MIDI drum pad and recording again in Studio One 5 by Presonus. I am using the internal sounds in Studio One 5 to play the bass guitar parts, triggered by an M-Audio MIDI keyboard I got with the drum machine and some other cool toys.

After the beat was down and feeling a bit more fun to play with, I added the two guitar parts using my Ibanez electric guitar. I recorded two tracks but instead of hooking up my amplifier and all my pedals, I plugged straight into the mixingboard so it would go direct-out to my computer input.

I used one of the many plug-ins included with Studio One 5 to add effects to the guitar. The built in guitar tuner plug-in is also really handy and I like the way it operates. So no need to connect to a tuner after each practice take. Each guitar track used the same plug-in but set to different guitar effects.

I am working on adding vocals but for now here is “What You Want”.

Music for my new song “What You Want”

Sonar Track Panel Wave and MIDI files that generate sounds from computer programs called plug-ins

I mentioned experimenting with an on-line jamming program. It became the clipboard for a few guitar sections I created while waiting for one thing or another to work. I titled each as verse, bridge, chorus, etc. I had to give it a project name to save the clipboard and I came up with “Not Now”.

I used those short pieces and assembled them into a song arrangement. Once the chords and arrangement were in place I naturally started thinking of lyrics (as I have a tendency to do). The file was named Not Now so I kept it as my Cakewalk (BandLab) project name. So it becomes the theme of the lyrics. In one hour they were written. Getting them to match the odd rhythms and sparse instrumentation became a challenge. It took me a few days to come up with the melody and then practice it enough to get the rough tracks down. To all just joining; I get things down to rough tracks and then write another song, poetry, lyric or instrumental. When I was young I hoped some band would do my songs correctly in a studio. I am not young now.

Here is a rough mix of “Not Now”. I used a Martin Acoustic/Electric guitar for the guitar track. Using my MIDI keyboard I pulled up a plug-in for drum sounds. I imported the original noodling guitar parts I did from the clipboard but they were not recorded to a metronome or drum pattern. I listened and figured out the tempo of the segments and set Cakewalk to match. That way I could listen to the short guitar segments as I created the basic drum parts and arranged all the segments in order. I pulled up a bass guitar sound and played the MIDI keyboard to generate the bass line.

Next, I Muted the original guitar tracks and recorded a new track to replace it. The song seemed to cry out for strings but that is usually just me. I like good sounding strings in various styles of music.

Lyrics were posted here: https://midimike.com/2020/06/01/not-now/

I use two monitors as there is a lot of information to keep ‘track’ of even for a small project.
This is the Piano Roll view. Each color represents different instruments. The lower group triggers drum sounds.

I gave a link to BandLab above. Full disclaimer this is not a commercial and I do not get paid for anything I do here. However….. if you are interested I used to pay hundreds of dollars every year or so to keep this great recording program updated. They now offer the program and all updates for FREE. No kidding.

I hope you enjoy “Not Now”. Each time I listen to it I like it more. Again, this is just me as each new song I write becomes my newest favorite.

If just for a little while.

The Chase

I just posted another vintage video to YouTube. This is a live recording of Euphoria in my early days with the band. We are playing live at Hollies in Springfield OH. for some of this post. This was a transition period as members of Euphoria took time off and a new band formed later to be called The Chase. I did use some video from the events but compared to hi definition available today, it just looks dated, because it is! Enjoy at night at home and some great live music:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAW_cJVFFog

Euphoria and The Chase Live

I posted songs from the first half of our live set when I was playing with The Chase earlier. Today I would like to share with you select songs from the second half of our set. The recording is decent – though this is ancient as it was recorded on a cassette tape!!!

Anyway, people all over the world are having tough times. Stuck indoors is the least of our concerns. Sit back, stay at home and listen to a live band performing classic rock songs from Jethro Tull to Santana and Creed.

As a note of mild interest; I have no pictures of the vocalist in this particular recording. I have video, but compared to the hi-res available today, the videos just don’t look very good. Sean (Shoeless Shawn) Bandy is the lead vocalist this evening.

Have a drink and a great evening in and stay safe!

My former band, The Chase performing live

Thanks for the visit!

It’s a hand grenade of high frequencies
Placed right between your eyes.
Easy to guess now where it came from;
Years of rock and roll caught you by surprise.

So much harder just to sit and talk these days
In a thin blue funk of purple haze.
Forcing the rhyme within tired rhythms
Simple technologies each a new craze.

You’re in it. You’re on it.
But can’t admit that you want it.
You buy it. You waste it.
Much more than a phase. It’s the New Craze.

It used to take talent and a lot of hours
People loved you for who you are.
Now it’s the beautiful, the extreme
Making a grab for your last dollar.

You need a law degree, and some Marketing
Even web design or sound engineer.
Craft miraculous songs but it won’t matter
Without looks and cash there is no career.

You’re in it. You’re on it.
But can’t admit that you want it.
You buy it. You waste it.
It’s just the New Craze.