Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I began this blog to share stories of people and events I have been lucky enough to be involved with over the last five decades. Along with my poetry and original music I also enjoyed sharing my pictures and personal observations.

While I am sure there will also be beautiful and exciting things to share in my future, I also want to chill. I need to make life simpler from here on.

I have enjoyed this community and those willing to share everything with total strangers. There were many times when this was the hi-light of my day. I could go on posting my views and thoughts on politics, religion, money and other hot topics but there are too many of us doing that these days. So this is a good time to phase out MIDI Mike.

While the site remains live, feel free to take a look at the topics on the top of the page to find something that might interest you.

I may throw in a post from time to time just to surprise myself. In my usual style, let me show you a few recent pictures I took at a favorite place of mine: Spring Grove Cemetery. We had a heavy rain days before these pictures with hi winds. Before that the fall colors were really starting to jump out. Unfortunately the rain hit a bit early and dropped most of the leaves, but I managed to get some good pictures.

Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 1
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 2
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 3
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 4
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 5
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 6
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 7
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 8
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 9
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 10
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 11
Spring Grove Cemetery
2019 MSK 12

To Be With You.

Posted: October 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

I am not here because I want to be here.

I am here because I want to be with you.

These are not my favorite things to do,

But I am happy just to share them with you.

The sounds that surround us are very nice.

Though to hear them with you is worth any price.

Beauty, Laughs, even our crying and tears,

Would thrill me for at least a thousand years.

Struggling together, working towards our dream,

Powerful emotions triumph over a panic of screams.

It takes work and time, nothing is easy or free,

So I thank God you are standing next to me.

Yes, I know it is Friday the 13th! And with it a full moon not to be seen on Friday the 13th for another 30 years. Not until August 2049! It is also a Harvest Moon for all you visitors from another planet. It will be late tonight but I am sure it will be worth it.

I think it is time for a campfire in my yard and maybe howl at the moon for a while!

Not To Worry

Posted: August 30, 2019 in Uncategorized

…… it has been a little busy. Got a full time job. Fun things had to go on the back burner for a while.

I’ll be right back lol!

Given an odd set of circumstances that would give you the choice of listening to your favorite songs and bands on a really weak radio signal (cheap, broken or terrible stereo system) or listen to songs you don’t really like in hi quality sound?

Being an audiophile and passionate about great music this is a tough question for me lol.

As many of you know I am not a professional photographer. I describe myself as a guy who likes to take pictures. Yesterday my wife and I were walking in our yard as it was getting close to sun-set. We heard some birds just chattering away and saw a pair of woodpeckers and very close by but much further up in the trees there was a hawk perched on a limb. He just sat there watching us and everything around him.

I am not good with names so I do not know what specific birds these are, but for the last few years the hawks have made this their home. Before then I don’t remember seeing or hearing them around where we live. I have always had a love for birds and I have a special fascination with larger birds of prey. Amazed we did not scare him/her away, I went into the house to get my Nikon camera and 70-300 mm lens. My wife stayed watching the birds because it is highly unlikely I would make it back with the camera before they flew away.

Here are a few shots I managed to get when I returned. I hope you enjoy starting the day in flight.

I would like to share another half-baked instrumental piece with you. When you have written over 175 songs you have to try very hard to discover new things. Sometimes we audio engineers can get stuck in a rut too. We use dependable tools and procedures until we slowly lock ourselves into a production-line-song making-engine.

If you are a label, publisher etc., you will appreciate the cookie-cutter assembly line model. You would benefit from the homogeneous funnel that affects all the broadcast music we listen to today. As you can tell from my previous posts, I choose not to be main stream and often try the unusual or untested. But this is where I will stop whining about a music industry that only wants to back the mega mega stars of today. Our favorite musicians from the past would never get a break in today’s world. Long live rock and roll.

This song is in the chopping block stage. For fun, I noodle with varied instruments all the time. Most of it is nonsensical and I archive or delete it. Often there are really good gems in a sea of debris. On occasion, most of what I created sounds good and for some reason I like it. There are parts that work well and others that need to be enhanced or deleted. The software is capable but fairly easy to edit and “copy – Paste”. If you like or dislike a section, please let me know the min/sec in your comments.

This recording was a little unusual in the process side of things. I started with a metronome click track in my computer. I picked up my guitar (always in tune) and set up the computer (always ready to record) and – I am being literal here – found a chord on the guitar. Without regard for key or scale or root, I just kept trying different positions until I liked the sound and voicing of the chord. I started recording just that chord in various styles for a few minutes. Each chord clean and distinct. Then I would play a pattern or arpeggio with the same voicing. Then a few hard hits. Next I stopped recording, found another chord and repeated that process.

Once I had a number of guitar parts that I liked, I arranged them along a measured grid to create a single guitar track. I used chords for different segments of the song to create the chorus and bridges. Once the guitar was assembled I listened to the guitar and recorded MIDI bass guitar, piano and drums using the plug-ins in my software (Cakewalk/Sonar/Bandlab). The drums have a jazzy dynamic feel and I like the way some of this song fits together. I imagine watching for the sunset or sunrise over the hill on a chilly but beautiful day. That’s just me.

I have to fix a lot of things and it is not complete as I cautioned, but I hope you like it. BTW, I call it “134” because that is the tempo! I really have to work on my naming skills.

In the 1960’s as a preteen I started to develop allergic reactions. At first it was not obvious but when I was tested, (I don’t know if they still do it the same way, but when things got really bad I went to a hospital for an allergy test. They take samples of allergens (30 or so?) and place each one on a separate ‘pin” on a bed of nails. OK, I could not see it but that is the result. Each pin stabs you in the back with a sample. If that area gets red or irritated, they look up the corresponding pin and tell you what you are allergic to and what to avoid, etc.) they could not see an area on my back that was not welted up. The doctors and nurses jokingly said I was allergic to everything. So the road starts.

In my early teen years the allergies continued and reactions got worse. I started having breathing difficulties and was diagnosed with bronchial asthma (among other things – another story). If unfamiliar, from a child’s point of view it is like having an elephant sit on your chest while you are trying to breathe. Your air pipes literally swell up from the reaction to irritants and allergens. Restrictions in your throat cause a wheezing sound that can be terrible to witness. You can’t run, play, climb or laugh. They only make things worse. After an hour or so of this you start to get scared and that is when things explode. The fear causes panic so you can’t breathe. Oh, wait a minute; you already couldn’t breathe! The child is just not strong enough to lift the elephant off their chest. As it progressed I would be gasping for more than a day and would eventually pass out from exhaustion. Sometimes I would wake up doing much better. Some times not.

From what I have been told, the difficulty is not getting air IN to you lungs when having and asthma attack; It is that your lungs are full and you can’t empty them to get a fresh breath of air. So you get enough oxygen to keep you in a state of panic.

The medications at the time included prescriptions, injections and inhalants. I was given something that sounds like “phenobarbital”?? It made me feel like jello stretched in both directions. I admit it may have reduced the number of attacks but as a preventive medicine taken daily I could not take it any more. I felt like a zombie all the time and I hated not being in control of my own body. The other remedy was inhalants.

I am not sure if the inhalers you see today were available back then or if it was very expensive but they did have a product that I remember being called Asthmador? Not sure and not worth fact checking, lol. It was like incense that you would burn and drape a towel over your head so you could breathe in all of the smoke. I am not sure if it helped much at all, but when things got really bad I would use it. Things got bad more often. Molds, mildew, dust, pollen, animals, certain foods and more were everywhere and I was not really sure what to avoid. Middle of the night hospital runs to the emergency room were common. Missing school and activities became routine. I kept walking down this really long road and found out a lot about what was to come as I traveled.

To be continued.

MSK 3
MSK 1
MSK 2

See Part 1 by clicking here: https://midimike.com/2019/02/01/the-long-road-behind-continued/

We hear about local, national and international artists releasing new songs, EPs and soundtracks all the time.  Such fanfare and pageantry!  Producers, Engineers, Writers, Marketing Gurus and Designers are paraded through a gauntlet of praise.

Not so for me.  I write all the lyrics and music for my songs unless otherwise noted in the post.  Some lyrics take years to form after learning from time and experiences.  The odd one just jumps out at me and is written in one sitting.  There are verses or bridges waiting for a home.  Smashing them together will work in a pinch, but I have found that everything has its place and it is better to wait for the right project than to force a marriage. 

My early recordings find me singing and playing bongos or other cheap percussion toys that survived my pre-teen years.  I finally worked enough chores to buy an acoustic guitar that was a step or two above the ukulele and nylon guitars I would get for Christmas presents from my parents.  (As stated before – I blame my mom for all of this LOL)

Writing this I think that might have been my motivation for getting and keeping jobs at an early age….. It was so I could buy instruments, recorders, microphones, gadgets; toys no one would buy for a kid.  Hmmm.   

On this blog I post a lot of songs where I play all the instruments on the recording.  I use as many acoustic instruments as I can and these days the computer is also the recorder, FX, sound source and MIDI controller.  So I use a lot of strings, pianos, drum and mood sounds that are ‘sampled’ from the real instruments and stored on the computer so we can use MIDI controllers to generate the sound of each.  So, while I do not play violin or trumpet, I can do my best to recreate their behavior using various MIDI parameters.  I also have friends come over and record guitar or vocal parts.  My wife and I also sing vocals on the majority of my songs.              

After that I am the engineer, producer, promoter – ha!, and all the other knit-picking things one has to do to keep all this going year after year.  That, and have a regular day job and family.

Many recordings are not the greatest and are not as polished as I would like to see them some day.  I think a few are great.  I share them with you not as gleaming product ready for the digital consumer’s shelf.   I get a song to the point others can listen to get the outline and vibe.  Maybe the listener is a producer or band member that could see their group performing unique songs.  

With that in mind, thank you as always for your visits, and please enjoy songs I have written for the last fifty years.  I am excited to see what I will do in the next fifty!

Waiting for the band

JJAR in the Studio

Noodling at Night
Mix Session
Studio and Gig Set Up
Room to Play!
Careful with that Axe, Eugene!
Drums and Triggers
Full Studio
Racks at Night
Location Recording Rack

Here are a few pictures I took recently in the Red River Gorge, KY area.  We stayed in a cabin for my birthday and the first morning watched the sunrise over the hills and into the valley.  The fog was the best constantly changing eye candy!