Posts Tagged ‘#daughter’

My dad (MidiMike) asked me to share a poem with all of you that I wrote for him when I was younger. He has always been a huge influence in my life. I’m certain that my love of music comes from him, as does my love of poetry.  I hope this poem gives you a little insight on what it was like to be raised by a musician.- Alisa

Heritage Haiku

My dad wrote over

One hundred songs in my life.

I still quote the words.

 

If you think that your

Paradise is a place then

You’ll never find it.”

 

His basement band shook

My bedroom floor, creating

Huge waterbed waves.

 

Lessons learned from Sting,

David Bowie, and Pink Floyd.

“We could be heroes.”

 

Ran sound on weekends

I slept under his sound board.

Protected by wires.

 

For years he worked at

A music store. Customers

Were my fathers too.

 

Microphones, ADATs,

His baby grand piano.

Guitars not Barbies.

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Back before it was the thing to do, my wife and I took this picture.  Literally.  One of us aimed it and the other one snapped the photo.  But this was a special occasion.  This is one of the few photos of our wedding.  We got married in the winter in a local park overlooking the city.  It was an extremely small wedding, but we did have a few uninvited guests.  There were a couple of reporters looking for something to write about on a day when there is nothing to write about.  They saw my wife and myself, with our daughter Alisa in hand, as we were reading the wedding vows that we had written to each other and  exchanging roses. We were standing under the small gazebo in the freezing cold; as calm as you please.

They came up and started a conversation, I figure they thought we were just a couple of crazy people that wanted to know what the heck we were doing.  When they realized it was a wedding ceremony, they decided this was something to write about!  They took our pictures – the only others taken of our wedding – and wrote an article that ended up on the 1st page of the People – Events section.  The article was warm and friendly and captured the humor that you can see in our selfie.  If it is true that the bigger and fancier the wedding, the shorter the marriage will be…. we got it made!

Recently traveling for business I took pictures of the Navy Pier and the Windy City for my daughter, Teneca, as a reminder of her time there in the Navy.  I wanted to share a couple with you.

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I spent a lot of time in smaller clubs with crowded stages and audience sizes varying from handfuls to standing room only capacity. The challenges come from each of them and have different resolutions. In some ways, I think the large clubs and outdoor events are the easiest to set up and run sound for. If it is a big stage or large arena, you turn everything up so it is in the main mix or no one will hear it. The smaller clubs you don’t necessarily put a microphone on every instrument. You cannot out-power a guitar player with a stack of cabinets. You might not be able to set up independent or multiple Monitor Mixes (stage mix for performers) and many times you have to share monitors (the cabinets or speakers themselves in this case…) between performers with various needs. Add keyboard player(s) or a horn section and it quickly over burdens the PA or sound system.

Setting up the stage with a few solutions in mind can help in each of these situations. In smaller clubs you might not have many options for the arrangement of musicians on stage. Some restraints may be obvious at first. Some will catch you off guard. Knowing what you are up against though can trigger steps to prevent problems.

These are basic but can avoid a lot of small-headache issues:

Place snake closest to center of stage if that is closest to where instruments/vocalists are positioned. Shorter cables are better if they allow performers needed mobility.

Make sure you know where the AC power outlets are. It is a drag to set everything up and not be able to plug in your power amps. (I also recommend bringing long heavy-duty extension cords for versatility)

Try to plug all stage instruments and PA gear along with the mixing board and external sound gear to the same AC breaker box.

Try to plug all lighting or other powered systems to a separate AC breaker box. (If it does not connect to the mixing board to make noise; plug it into another breaker box)

Use balanced (three wire cables) whenever possible. (I have been caught by 1/4″ audio jacks without locks getting knocked out in the middle of a gig more than once and hate anything that does not lock into position. rant now over)

Keep stage volume as low as possible (this is a couple posts all by itself!)

Consider cross-firing stage instrument amps like guitars and bass – rather than pointing at audience.

Make sure sound board is in the best sounding location and also close enough to the stage to connect snake and all gear – especially if you have to route the snake around the outside of the event area for safety or other reasons.

Cables are the first thing to go wrong even when properly handled and maintained. Bring a lot of SPARES.

Turn all power amps (including ones that are built into the speakers OFF or all the way DOWN when connecting or disconnecting gear. (there are shortcuts and general exception practices we will detail later).

Turn all recording gear OFF or down all the way until all devices and channels are connected and tested.

Make sure speaker cables (Mains and Monitors) are long enough to reach the power amps. I bring two long length sets of speaker cables and two short length sets (no matter how many total speakers I have, I will have two full sets….). If one side of the stage is where the power amps are, I use the short cable and the other one might require the longer cable. Sometimes you need both long cables. If I need a spare, I have two!

Drum risers could need low end cuts and even gates to reduce unwanted tones and resonances.

Color Code anything you can. Cables, Mic stands, Monitors, In-Put Channel labels or External gear/boxes. Make it easy to identify in low light. Green microphone goes with green cable goes to green snake plugs into green channel….. I also add a number to make larger sessions manageable. Vocal green 1, 2, 3…. Drum blue 1, 2, 3….. Brass white 1, 2, 3……

Not rocket science, just some thoughts. But if you get in the habit of considering these and other tips each time before you start hauling in equipment into a new venue, your set-ups will become quick and routine, even if the environment is new. If you keep all your gear in one place there are short cut power-up and power-down sequences I will detail soon.

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I have shared a number of experiences that have been about loss. Unfortunately, when you get older, you have more experiences watching the achievements of a life’s work and loves dissolve.  There are many types of loss and a personal friend of mine has been going through a very difficult time.  I just needed to share my experience and thoughts. Over these posts I have often mentioned working at local music stores and the benefit of knowing some awesome people. One of the friends I worked with for years and formed a great partnership “co-owning” the music store with all those years ago has had a devastating loss. As social media is …. he found out from friend’s texts and e-mails that while he was traveling, his house burnt down. His job is demanding and a lot of people depend on him to be there. He could not get home and as we all need to do from time to time; he had to rely on his friends and family (many times they are the same thing).  He is still away and has not seen his home other than on the news and through social media.

I would like to let you know that we have successfully completed the ‘search and rescue’ mission.  We got anything we could out of the building during the days of rain with holes in the roof.  It was a scramble with trusted friends.  We hauled ass and a bunch of other things.  Some musical instruments are damaged beyond use or repair and some have hope of restoration or managed to remain untouched by the whole thing!   He is a musician and like me has an insatiable love for art, music, friendship and making the world better than it would be without us in it.  This has got to be devastating.  For me, carrying out each old and precious instrument or piece of gear,  had a deep impact.  Others worked on his art and personal belongings.  I have heard their stories and all have a deep sense of loss.  No one was hurt.  Many things can be replaced.  But as the fire and then the water took their toll, a lot of his life’s work did dissolve.

We are working now on cleaning and saving as much as we can.   As my daughter Alisa, who runs my blog, practically grew up in the music store and all my friends, she has known John Van Eaton almost her entire life.  She is creating a positive use of social media and spreading the word through this and other avenues.  We will have a number of benefits to raise money and support to help him work through this until he is able to come home and the resources he will need once he returns.  I will post more info as details come in and thank you – fellow bloggers – for letting me share this with you.  The sharing allows healing.

 For more details or to contribute to his fund, see below.  MIDIMike

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Even though I am very concerned and interested in the political challenges of our time, I do not venture into those topics in this blog.  My opinions are my opinions.  I have my reasons for voting the way I do.  Most of you have your own reasons for your private thoughts.   

 

…….. but today I want to acknowledge the announcement by the Supreme Court.  You may not agree with me – but in my humble opinion that does not make you my enemy – and I am CERTAINLY NOT YOURS!  I am not gay so this does not affect me personally, but it has directly affected one of my daughters.  What we have done in the past to many great and loving people was just wrong.

 

I am so thankful and happy this long battle for something so simple and assumed by so many as basic human rights has been decided.  There is a much longer battle ahead.  Like prejudice and racism, this is not over and is not easy to implement.  We still have so far to go, but let us enjoy this major change and how our country continues to move in the right direction and knows it is in our best interest as a nation and as a people to treat every citizen equally.  

I cannot stop smiling!

LOVE/HATE Challenge

I’ve been nominated to complete this challenge by several of you and after some convincing from my daughter, I’ve decided to give it a go. Instead of nominating 10 more bloggers, I would like to ask you all to post your favorite things in the comments so I can get to know you better.

I want to take this moment to thank all of you again for your very kind and encouraging comments. I have truly enjoyed reading your blogs and getting to know you better. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Here it goes…

Love:

  1. Writing and recording music
  2. Biking
  3. Photography
  4. Nature – in all it’s glory and mystery
  5. Family and friends
  6. Reading great books, poetry, stories
  7. Creative music – artists and performers
  8. Teaching and helping others
  9. Science, education, discovery and truth
  10. Finding solutions to difficult problems.

Hate:

  • Wasting natural resources
  • Thinking that money makes you special
  • Personal and corporate greed
  • Things that should, but do not work
  • Violence
  • Thieves, scammers and swindlers
  • Demanding people
  • Bigots
  • Liars
  • Corporate and government politics

I have been busy lately and responses have been a little slow lately.  Work and projects are always taking up too much time, but it’s always the unexpected that throws you out of whack. While we had history, the recent reports of my mother-in-law’s health continued to decline recently.  She was 93, so we knew there would not be a lot of time left.  The death of family member or loved one is never easy.  As we get older, we travel this path more and more as those we grew up with grew old too.  There are very few friends and same generation family left if you live past 90.  Those alive probably no longer travel easily.

Her request was to have her ashes spread in the river in the same location her late husband’s ashes were released.

My daughter, Alisa, takes care of this blog for me and she lost her grandmother.  All the kids called my mother-in-law Nannan.  Shortly after midnight on Memorial Day 2015, Nannan did not hold on any longer.  This Memorial Day was for her.

Much of my early years I had tons of energy.  Like most people my age, I got up early and stayed up through the evening.  Unlike most, I got a bit extreme with this and as I started working I seemed to be able to handle the after hour and evening shifts quite well.   Staying awake for 24 to 48 hours at a time was almost normal.  I obviously was not!  As most of the household was quiet and recharging their internal batteries, I would pull out my 12 string guitar.  In the very late and dark hours, I would reflect on the day(s) past and go over experiences I or friends had.  The fullness of the 12 strings (when I could afford to replace the old strings with new ones…) for me is just an amazingly soothing and inspiring environment.  The guitar noodling started to reflect a mood and the experiences would turn into words, phrases or thoughts that I would repeat and refine until they started to gel into lyrics.

I would use this method over and over.  Alone at night, lights out and everyone quiet or sleeping.  Even now, decades later, this is still my favorite time to reflect and create.  If you can, find your own time and environment that you can settle into quickly.  If you cannot find the time – MAKE it.  It does not have to be hours at a time.  Rarely do we write a masterpiece or complete a painting or poem in an hour or so.  The important thing is to set aside time – even little bits – and noodle, sketch, sing, or even think.  Build your stage for creativity and perform there as often as you can.  The masterpieces will create themselves…

Quiet Nights – An original tune I wrote based on this idea.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dark-energy/id962943592

As demonstrated in the past, I have shared my compositions and songs with friends and family.  When asked by a blogger (and now a good friend) in a comment on my blog if my songs were available on i-Tunes, I replied that I believed they are but have not checked.  I know this sounds strange and it is!  Of the number of things I have learned and accomplished over the decades, I have not learned how (or desired…..) to promote my own work.  That is one of the reasons why my daughter had to give me a big KICK to start this blog and get my songs out there.

It appears I need another big KICK!  I placed my songs on CD Baby as I am an independent songwriter/performer and I do not have the backing of a major label (Yet???!!).  Thank all of you for checking out this blog and for comments I truly feel are precious and thoughtful.  Many of you are encouraging and supportive and I very much appreciate it.  I want to help others understand the music environment and cut to the root of many systems or procedures we use that seem too mysterious or challenging to beginners.

I did check and I want to make sure you know that my songs (individually and as CD’s) are available on i-Tunes, and they can be found in streaming services like Pandora, Spotify, X-box and many other channels.   If plans go well I will also be releasing more songs this year and early 2016.  My daughter posted the i-Tunes links on the midimike blog recently, and I wanted to let you know if you are not familiar with CD Baby that the songs are available in other channels.  Deep down, maybe everyone wants to be a famous rock star, but I simply want to create original music, help others do the same and share them with people that are as passionate about life as I am.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/retrograde/id962542260

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/dark-energy/id962943592

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/touch-down/id962542289