Posts Tagged ‘#audio’

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.
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.

Thank you for your continued friendship. The story of friends and talented musicians, artists of all kinds was fun in the telling. Followers will know the names and projects I have been thrilled to be involved with. Sacrifices. Heart break. Overwhelming joy.

I have told the story but I also have my archives to share. I started recording with a reel-to-reel tape deck when I was 14. I recorded everything. Everyone. Everywhere (once I had portable recorders lol!)

The medium has changed many times over. Some of the video, for example, was amazing on a small tube television. It just does not stand up to the quality of large screens with high resolution. I did not include the ancient videos on this post because it just looks bad/old.

For some reason I did not take a lot of photographs in this time frame. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of the lead vocalist in this recording….. Shoeless Shawn was not with The Chase long before we stopped playing out. So I collected more recent pictures I had taken of group shots of friends, family and fans we have known over the years.

With a little free time on my hands, I have been going through my archives. This is an old recording from my Nakamichi stereo cassette player! I think it is straight off the board. I did not run sound for this recording. Our friend Dave Houston was at the helm.

Everyone stay healthy, and with social distancing, stay at home, grab a drink, and put up your feet. Press play and listen to some live music!

The Chase

Annette Rogers from jjaR at MSK Studios

Early in 1996 I was introduced to a Cincinnati band called “jjaR”. I met them while they were playing at a popular club called Top Cats. I was really impressed with the band and their original songs. Annette Rogers was the lead vocalist and she commanded the room with her emotional portrayal of each song. The band was intense and dynamic.

March 13th, 1996 we started recording in my home studio. They were troopers. I have a small space for recording with no isolation rooms for drums, vocals, etc. The band wanted a clean demo. They did not want a lot of processing and effects in the mix. A band after my own heart!

jjaR at MSK Studio in 1996

We did two separate sessions. The first session was mixed on March 26th, 1996. I was recording on the Alesis ADAT (Alesis Digital Audio Tape) machine for the first project. We only had 8 tracks to work with back then and no computer editing or effects. They were pros. They set up, got settled in and played their songs with obvious passion.

One of their tracks appeared in a collection of bands our local radio station WEBN (102.7FM) published on CD. They were featured on the second annual CD release. Deary Me Presents – Cincinnati Scene II included “Food Chain Of Love” on the 3rd track of the compilation CD. You can still find a copy or two on on-line.

Here are a few tunes from Project 1 for your enjoyment.

jjaR at MSK Studio – Food Chain Of Love
jjaR at MSK Studio – Super Size
jjaR at MSK Studio – Aliens
jjaR at MSK Studio – Misunderstood

Another addition for my Cover Tune Tuesdays project. For those of you just jumping in, I am not covering songs from well-known artists you have already heard. I wanted to play some of the songs written by people I have known over the years. I can pretty much guarantee none of us thought we would be famous authors – mostly because none of us tried to be. Like many others, we decided not to put in the eternal time, money and thankless effort necessary to ‘make it big’ in the music scene.

This is a song written by Tom Gorman, Lori Niemi and Tom Robinson. It was written in 1980 and has been recorded and performed by many people in the core group of songwriters I have mentioned previously in my posts.

This time I recorded the song using my Martin 6 string guitar. I usually use my 12 string but since my bi-lateral carpal tunnel surgery last year and plain getting old, it is hard for me to do difficult songs any more.

I used my Ovation 12 string for the 2nd guitar parts so I have not abandoned it completely. I use Sonar Cakewalk – now by BandLab as my recording software. The haunting melodic sounds are from a program called Dimension Pro. I sang and did a little harmony here and there but that is the essence of the mix.

Jackals cover performed by MSK


I would like to share some versions of this song with you and will post 2 other previous recordings. It is a good historical view. People change, equipment changes and the mood inspired by the song change over time.

          "Jackals"                                                           (C) 1980
Straight hollow blocks of buildings haunted with lives
Scanning you with hidden silence
They house the hungry Jackals who go prowling through the angled
Paths of night.
 
Watch out for the hungry Jackals, they’ll dull you with lies
Making like they’re you’re best friends, while they’re sharpening
Their knives.

 
Stalking unwary victims they sidle up
Cutting you with cultured voices
And punctuating death throws with a fluttering of gestures and a
Sociable smile.
 
Watch out for those hungry jackals they stalk in disguise
They clutch your hands with such courtesy but there’s murder
In their eyes.
 
 
Running that dreadful gauntlet every day
Mixed in with the gentle people
A Jackal sticks his paw as a cohort jabs a claw out as you
Hit the ground.
 
Watch out for those hungry jackals disguised as they are
They’ll send you out to save the world but you won’t get very far.

 
Watch out for the hungry Jackals, they’ll dull you with lies:
Making like they’re your best friends…….
Gary Jefferson on vocals
Bob Enderle on vocals

As part of My Cover Tune Tuesdays, I wanted to do an acoustic version of one of my favorite Grateful Dead songs. The story I heard about this song is that Stella Blue refers to an old cheap guitar Jerry Garcia played when he was much younger. I tried to look up references but nothing conclusive so I stopped. I am not a reporter, after all.

In either case, this song has been an inspiration for me in many ways. As I get older, though, the message is much closer to home. I hope I will be able to dust off the strings for years to come, but I still find each moment I have to make and play music precious. Without it I would be insane, lost or dead (but not grateful)!

So I got out the Martin 6 string acoustic/electric guitar I got from my older brother and changed the strings. It was not enough to dust them off! Then I pulled out my Ovation 12 string acoustic/electric guitar and dusted off those strings. The Martin I ran a guitar cable to the Universal Audio Solo 610 mic pre-amp. After recording the main guitar track in Sonar by Cakewalk/Bandlab I used the Ovation 12 String guitar for a light/filler guitar track. I used a AKG C214 microphone plugged into the Solo 610 for recording the Ovation. Vocals used the same microphone and pre-amp set-up so it was a quick session.

All the years combine
They melt into a dream
A broken angel sings
From a guitar.
In the end there's just a song
Comes crying up the night
Through all the broken dreams
And vanished years.

Stella Blue         Stella Blue
I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
One more time
Gonna make them shine. 

When all the cards are down
There's nothing left to see
There's just the pavement left
And broken dreams.
In the end there's still that song
Comes crying like the wind
Down every lonely street
That's ever been.

Stella Blue         Stella Blue 
I've stayed in every blue-light cheap hotel
Can't win for trying
Dust off those rusty strings just
One more time
Gonna make them shine.

It all rolls into one
And nothing comes for free
There's nothing you can hold
For very long.
And when you hear that song
Come crying like the wind
It seems like all this life 
Was just a dream.

To Stella Blue         Stella Blue

Songwriters: Jerome J. Garcia / Robert C. Hunter
Stella Blue lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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.

© MSK 10-2017

This song has taken a while to finalize the arrangement.  It is only part of the song it started out as.  Diced, sliced, edited and rewritten, I hope this first mix sounds like it belongs!  Sometimes you are guided.

I will play other sections in the future.

Please enjoy “Deep Inside”

Deep Inside me, Deep inside the eye of the storm

Deep Inside you.  Deep Inside the eye of the storm.

Deep Inside me, Deep Inside.

 

Sometimes you are guided

And sometimes you are not.

The road is long; it never ends

No matter what you thought.

 

The place you are standing

Was never meant to be.

Lost when your memories

Created what you see.

 

Pound after pound

Life gets laid upon you hard.

Sound after sound

As the dealer plays his cards.

 

Sometimes you are guided

And sometimes you are not.

The road is long; it never ends

No matter what you thought.

 

Deep Inside me, Deep Inside the eye of the storm

Deep Inside you.  Deep Inside.

 

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The songs in this session are simple two-channel recordings.  These are not multi-tracks of isolated instruments to be mixed down later.  This is down and dirty history.  I enjoyed recording and listening to each of the gigs.  The rest of the band were ok with it, but they were really into the performance and live audience vibe.  As a result, I did not get much assistance or cooperation with my projects.  We never did a sound check for recording levels.  We did not set up differently or use additional gear.  I usually taped separate mixes from their sound board or by using a combination of mono mix and single hi-quality microphone up on stage.  See my LSR series for recording configurations.

Unlike the other players I have jammed with, I had not been playing in bands since I was a teenager.  I did not start playing in front of a ‘real’ audience until I was probably 31 or older.  I started playing keyboards (technically different than playing a piano or organ) when I was 30.  Before that I wrote songs and played my 12 string guitar for parties and such but that was about it.

Lacking confidence and years to sharpen my skills, I tried to make up for it in other ways.  I practiced a lot                     compared to the other players.

I helped in tech – light – sound – marketing.  The recordings were for me, LOL!

This is a live recording of a medley we came up with.  None of us really liked disco, but no rocket science to keeping guys in the club is to keep the girls on the dance floor!  We smashed together popular dance songs and other select songs toward the end of the 2nd set.  Enjoy.