Posts Tagged ‘#guitar’

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“Chase The Dream”

When one of the bands I worked with collapsed under the pressures of day to day life, it was quickly resurrected in a new form.  Most of Euphoria members did not want to stop playing so we regrouped with a new guitar player to replace one of the founding members and became The Chase.  We played out with about ten different names for a few months – Scenic Route was another favorite of mine – until we settled on The Chase.  These guys were great.  We had a solid rhythm section, a great lead singer and back up vocals that were tight and an amazing lead guitar player that could feel everything he played. We could play cover songs no other bands would play live.  We also threw in originals from time to time.  The banner was hung one each side of the stage vertically as seen in one of the photos below, and horizontally behind the drum set.  It was pretty eye-catching and a lot of people complimented it.

I am an archivist.  I record everything.  Audio recordings of practice sessions and live performances. Video of many performances and photos of major events.  Before YouTube I posted a number of them on our cable TV Local Access channels using their video editing suite.  I had my fingers in everything.  Some of the projects got finished, but a lot of the raw tapes have only been viewed by me and a select group of people.

I just put together a new video that uses a lot of this vintage raw video and some of the photographs from the time period.  The medium is so old that the quality suffers, but it does a good job of representing the events of the time.  We played in many clubs and outdoor events and I will create future videos to highlight more venues.   For this video I used an original instrumental song that Nick Robinson was working on and our new band, The Chase, made it our own.  There is no video of the song as we only played it out a few times.  Nicky has since re-joined Euphoria when it regrouped a few years ago and is still playing out with some amazing players.

Please check out my latest YouTube post (and other videos while you are there) of his original tune: “Chasing The Dream”.  Enjoy!

Chase The Dream

I’ve admitted in earlier posts that I observe people a lot, and that I get a number of ideas for songs from watching other people;  friends, family, co-workers, I steal from them all!  I can empathize with people as they face challenges and triumphs in life.  I try to understand what it feels like to be in those situations even though I myself might not be directly affected by them.

I also have some rather obvious political points of view.  I can understand why there are those that do not always agree with my positions but in many cases I can still understand theirs.  In this song I basically insult every group I can think of!  As you are more than likely in at least one of these groups I apologize in advance.  In a lot of ways, this song summarizes the items on my Love – Hate list.  I hate things that should work but do not, and I really hate personal and corporate greed.  The song uses a lot of references to things we would hear on the news, although it was written a long time ago.  Unfortunately most of the issues are the same today!

Recording this song took a LONG time.  We did rough mixes here and there changing this or that, but it did not feel right from beginning to end.  Eventually, I think we rearranged some of the chorus/verse structure and it just fell into place.  For some songs this is the agonizing part;  all the components are there and sound good, but the piece as a whole just does not grab you.  I might have even tried changing tempo on this one to get it right.

If this is not the first song I did using my new Alesis ADAT recorder it was one of the first.  I was also transitioning from the Atari computer to a Windows machine, so not everything went smoothly!  I played electric guitar on this one (I have a few guitars and do not know which one was used for each song but my guess this is either my Ibanez or a Yamaha 6 string) and did all the sequencing and drum tracks as described earlier.  My wife does the vocal main lines.  Using the limiter/compressor chain I described from other songs the vocals are recorded so they stay soft and spooky and a little eerie as the lyrics become more and more cynical.  A bunch of family and friends came in and did the voice add-ons.  You can hear both our daughters, my co-writing brother and a few neighbors help out with the spoken parts.  I ‘sing’ the chorus.

The bass line in this one is particularly cool because it is my Oberheim Matrix 6 synth and it has this patch or sound that continues to play an arpeggio (sequence of predetermined notes) as long as you hold a key down.  So the bass lines are done by holding one note for a while but hearing many notes played.  We even got to play with one of the audio samplers from the music store and used it to trigger the ‘broken word’ parts.   Once we got the arrangement right it was just fun to ‘decorate’ the basic tracks and add a little movement to the mix.   Have fun with this one.

One Last Time

Posted: September 29, 2016 in Poetry
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

msk-sun-and-clouds-1“One Last Time”              (C)  MSK  9-22-2016

There are no ways to describe

How much I would give

 

To see the stars one last time.

To hear your voice again.

And feel the warmth of the sun.

To hold you in my arms.

 

There are no limits to how long

I would wait

 

If I knew I would hear your voice.

To watch you as you laugh.

Or share the sadness of your tears.

And love you as you grow old.

 

But there is no chance.

No last minute plan.

The end of this dance

Is already at hand.

 

I wish to see the stars one last time.

To tell you that you are mine.

I’d love to help in times to come

Give you courage when you have none.

 

But there is no chance.

No last minute plan.

The end of this dance

Is already at hand.                                                                                                                                                  ————————————————————–

stock-photo-119544-two-holding-hands

The time is all right,

The music’s all right

But that’s not the way you feel.

 

You think it’s so sad,

You drove yourself mad.

Don’t forget, you made a deal.

 

What happened that day, made you run away

‘Til your world seemed so unreal.

All of your friends said, you were living dead,

It takes time for wounds to heal.

 

You stopped and looked around,

What you need could be found.

Don’t need a lucky break, to handle what we make,

We can make it as two.

 

Your mamma’s all right,

Your daddy’s all right.

They both love you the way you are.

 

Yes snowflakes can fall,

And not land at all.

Life is not quite so bizarre.

 

What happened that day, made you run away

‘Til your world seemed so unreal.

All of your friends said, you were living dead,

It takes time for wounds to heal.

 

You stopped and looked around,

What you need could be found.

Don’t need a lucky break, to handle what we make,

We can make it as two.

 

This song is on my new album Before The Chase available now on itunes!

 

michaelskennedy1

In many ways it is difficult to believe I am in my sixties.  While some of the energy and physical abilities are not what they used to be, the drive, passion and beauty in my life still motivate and push me forward everyday.  There is always something new, grand and amazing to learn or experience. 

 I have reached another time and point of reflection.  Early February of 2015 my daughter Alisa and I discussed starting a blog.  She had an idea powered by an amazing sense of urgency.  She wanted me to not only give more people the opportunity to hear the songs I have written and recorded over the years – songs she had grown up with, went to sleep with, woke up with and watched as the final versions became etched in what ever media was available at the time – she was firmly committed that I should also tell ‘my story’.  She insisted (over and over) that I have had a fascinating life and wonderful experiences that people would enjoy and even learn from.   

 I don’t feel special, exceptional or – I hate to use the word worthy, but it does fit here – though I have known and attracted so many amazing people and been very lucky to have been involved with them to become a focal point in their lives.  

 I was not sure what the benefit was and frankly I – as I often do – found it difficult to believe others would be interested in the realization of dreams, struggles and successes I managed to accomplish over the many years.  I knew how much the people and music meant to me, of that I had no doubt and never down-played.  I could talk about them for hours.  It was the subject of promoting myself that was always alien territory for me.  I just never considered going there.   

 She did not give in.  She refused to give up.  She did not accept my cavalier attitude when talking about my work.  She also saw me as a person who played by the rules – sometimes to a fault – and saw the limited acknowledgement and success I had achieved while others became famous by using ‘tactics’ that were not even in my personal vocabulary.  Her design was to use my vocabulary.  To ‘play the game’ on my terms, to reach out to an audience without standing on a drowning man’s shoulders to get above the water.    

 That month; February 2015, I surrendered.  We launched the MIDIMike blog.  I wrote articles and ideas for posts.  She pushed and pushed to make sure I shared my stories and the feelings experienced for them.  She worked hard to set up the blog site, reach out to other bloggers, schedule releases of songs and so much more.  In fact, reading this article she will probably say “you are doing it again!”.  She would point out this is not about her, but about my work and my life, which are so often one in the same.   Old habits and all that LOL. 

 I was not sure if this would survive three months but I was determined to put in at least as much effort into the blog as she did.  I was not going to be the reason if it did not match her goals and plan.  If it lasted six months we could say we gave it a great effort. 

 The first anniversary for MIDIMike came this month.  I look at the articles posted, the comments from followers, the amazing relationships and shear talent of this community and wonder how I could find anything more ‘worthy’.  I have learned so much from so many of you it is difficult to thank each of you individually, but I am sure you are aware that I try very hard to do so.  I do not take your selfless time, effort and caring for granted.   

 You have allowed me to share past events and the emotions experienced during those and current events.  From deaths of loved ones, creation of new songs and old ones, tragedies, fires and life changing events friends have been faced to new poetry, ancient videos and my recent unemployment late in life.  It has been an amazing year. 

 On this anniversary, I am also aware of your support.  Your kindness.  I am only driven harder than Alisa could drive me, if you can believe that is possible!  I will continue.  Not only with MIDIMike and our community but with more of the music behind everything I do.  Your comments have inspired me to bring more of these gems out of deep storage, or to take unfinished works out of the closet and record them.   

 To take your advice and to thank you again for so much, I am releasing a new EP on this first anniversary.  “Before The Chase is now available on iTunes and CD Baby.  A new song along with new/updated recordings are on this first release.  I promise you there will be more and I will continue to share the stories behind them with followers of this blog, and I guarantee to listen to and be guided by your comments.  

Like so many talented musicians and artists we do not start out thinking ‘this is a great career path’ and we will be rich making popular songs.  We start because we feel it and enjoy what we do.  The truth is probably closer to reality – we do not become rich until someone else realizes they can make money from those talented people and their works.

 So much in one year.  Totally appreciated.   

Before The Chase on iTunes

Start To Stop Again              (c) Michael S. Kennedy 

A worker cries when the day is done,

Wise man only cries for peace.

A lonely man cries for anyone,

I cry, but I am none of these.

 

My children say life is ours to hold,

Old woman says that it don’t matter.

The blameless say they do what they are told,

Broken hearts can’t live without her.

 

Crippled child wants life; however hard,

Hypocrites only want their share.

Starving eyes want less than we discard,

You want something that isn’t there.

 

Ooh, Ooh, the way it’s always been,

We stop to start again.

Don’t think you can’t help out my friend

Because we try, we control the end.

 

Nobody cares, if it isn’t them.

Cold voices only care by phone.

Rich people care about every gem,

Friends care when it’s one of their own.

 

Ooh, Ooh, the way it’s always been,

We stop to start again.

Don’t think you can’t help out my friend

Because we try, we control the end.

 

There were a string of original tunes in the early 1980’s.  Some you have heard here already.   These were very profound times in a lot of ways.  Real work worlds.  Kids.  Relationships.  Marriage. Responsibilities.  Debt.

This song was not written in one or two sessions.  It took quite a long time to make this fit together.  I Often find snippets in other writings and combine with others to make a full song.  This is one that I may have done that with as there are so many different topics and observations.  Part of my challenge in writing songs people can relate to is being able to state the obvious in a clever, funny or different way.   So I would think of these ‘one liners’ and write them down.   Some were my normal trite stuff, but a few were well said and became part of these lyrics.

I like to play a few different ‘voicings’ or positions on the 12 string and take advantage of open strings or cool octaves when I can.  (it also reduces the hand-cramps you get when holding down all those strings!!)  In some chord changes you can play the same chord in different positions back-to-back and it sounds like you are playing different chords.  The guitar part is sparse and melodic.   It sets the mood during the intro.  Allowing the intro chords to ring out with a slow rhythm lets the 12 string shine all the more.  The lyrics paint a pretty good picture of life experiences I had during that time.

Don’t think you can’t help out my  friend.  Because we try, we control the end!

If we start from the stage things actually be come easier.  If the mixing or sound board is the hub of processing sounds, the stage is the hub for generating sounds!  Most Live Sound Reinforcement events would benefit if the engineer spent more time here.  It is not uncommon for the sound guy to spend fifteen minutes making sure the kick drum has every frequency needed pumped up loud enough to message your spine (and ear drums) but they take two minutes to set up the stage monitors.  And most do that right after the band sets up  - – – – – when there is no music playing!

So let’s take a minute and walk up on stage and see what it physically looks like.  If you are familiar with the band you have a good idea of acceptable arrangements:  Overall dimensions.   Where are the riser(s).  How tall are the ceilings. Where are the AC outlets.  You may not be able to direct where the performers set up in a number of cases but you can influence some.  Where should the drums/keyboards/horn section go.  Where is a good central place for the snake (multi-connector cable connected to the mixing board).  Where do the monitors go (unless using in-ear monitor systems).  For me, this is also a good place to determine where the house speaker cabinets and amplifiers are placed.  BTW, if you are not familiar with the band or act make it a practice to find out.  Go to their website or media page. Get an idea of what they do live, if you can.  Ten minutes on-line will save you a bunch of headaches if they turn out to have specific requests for their instruments or performers.  I can also tell you from personal experience if you go up to Player C and say, “Hey, I got that adapter you need for your axe”, the player is going to notice the effort.  They will relax and you can let them know they are in good hands.  Getting the band’s cooperation is not necessary.  It is not in the books.  In some situations it might even be a waste of time.  I will still try every time.  Getting their cooperation…… sets up a great performance.  Then I focus on stage sound…..  and most band members will go out of their way to help during sound check and throughout the performance before 20 minutes of equalizing the kick drum.

Now that you have a good idea of the dimensions and set up requirements, place each performer in the best location and set up their respective microphones and monitors as needed.  Set up House gear and test.  From the mixing board, use a ‘talk-back’ microphone sent to the stage monitors to test and communicate with the performers.  Band members might feel like they are inside a cage at the zoo, looking out at the visitors!  Sometimes all you can see are the stage lights in your eyes.  The venue may be quite dark.  So the more comfortable they feel; the more like rehearsal you make it feel, the better the blend among performers.  The better the blend, the better the whole event will unfold.

Going forward I will go over a few details and outline this process to make it easier as well fun!

________________________________________________________________

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

For another look into the times, Lack of Concern is a gem in a time capsule.  These were good times.  I was still working at the music store.  Playing with toys, buying a few here and there and energy I can only imagine looking back, LOL!   It was a period where a lot of music was written and performed.  Lots of projects.  Learning as much as we could.  Showing it to others!  That was the fun part.

The words in a number of my songs are important to me.  In the same way I have been told that aromas and fragrances can help recall a specific event in the past, lyrics do for me.  They are a portal that allows a connection to create itself again.  With that memory brought to the surface I can recall many of the events that inspired thoughts that somehow managed to become poems or lyrics.  I surround myself mentally in the time.

“Tease me with the truth, baby, don’t tempt me with a lie” is one that puts me back at that time, in that mood.  This song contains a number of those portals.  This song asks the basic question; … ‘do you know what you are doing and still do it, or are you completely unaware of what you are doing?”.  I just love the upbeat arrangement in this song.  For this song I had the Yamaha DX7S, their updated model and a drum machine.  My wife Ellen and I do the vocals. I play acoustic rhythm guitar parts and Shawn my buddy! comes over to play the lead and decorative guitar parts.  I just let him run wild during the entire song and pick the gems to accent parts of the song.   This may be the only time I have recorded this song.  It is also one I rarely play out, but I think it is catchy in its own way.

Through the beginning to the end of the last chapter, we have concentrated on the hub or the central nervous system of a Live Sound Reinforcement assignment.  I have been focusing a bit on live performance in a typical band or musical event.  We now understand how most equipment for the House PA, the stage monitors, effects, and even lighting systems use the mixing board as the central hub.  The mixing board’s usefulness does not end there!  Once equipment is set up, connected, turned on and confirmed functional, most of the adjustments made for the rest of the evening will happen because of changes to the mixing board.  It also becomes the Master Device, and all other connected devices are ultimately controlled by the mixer.  The sound engineer is the ONLY person that should touch the mixing board.

The next logical step would be to describe the components of the House PA system and how much power (or how much money do I need to spend….).  After all, this is what most people hear, right?

Obviously, I set up as a trap question.  The answer seems obvious.

If I said, “I sound like a broken record”, most young readers will not know what that means! But I will repeat myself on certain themes and I feel one a’ comin’!  The next important thing is not the House PA and the number of speakers and amplifiers you need.  Most small venue mixing engineers go straight for the house and main systems, completely ignoring the most important ingredient guaranteeing a great performance.  We will avoid that trap now and focus on the stage and more importantly – the musicians on the stage.

When bands practice, they ultimately find a good use of space and volume so each member can achieve the two primary goals;

1) Hear myself (usually louder than any one else.  This is not ego and we will get into that later)

2) Hear the other performers (usually not as loud as the performer wants to hear him/her self!!)

Once they settle in and can accomplish the above – practice is comfortable and productive.  Each member can hear themselves and can also hear enough of the other members to blend with them.  If you saw a live symphony orchestra and all you could hear were the trombones, it would seem like an awful performance.  If you were a musician in the orchestra and all you could hear were the trombones……………

Now we can go back to the band members standing on a stage or venue they have never seen or played in……   and now understand that this is a very real challenge, and the smaller the venue… the smaller the budget.  Lack of Resources can be difficult challenge to overcome.

In larger venues it was quite normal to have a smaller mixing board off to the one side of the stage.  All the instruments and monitors would connect to this mixer, and it would ‘split’ all channels and send them equally to the House mixing board out in the audience area.  (it can also be used to send signals to a recording van parked outside).  The sound engineer on stage makes the band members happy by concentrating on the performers but does not affect the signal going to the House board.  That way the House Engineer has full control of the unaffected incoming channels from the stage board.

Good enough for now and in the next few sections I will focus on the stage sound and mix.