Posts Tagged ‘#michaelskennedy’

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
When we decided to be Personal Touch

As mentioned in the first post of this series, we played original songs in each set. Here is the only recording I am aware of for the song “For Those Who Wait”. We were touring in Corpus Christie Texas and I met with Ric in the afternoon to do a little practice and system fine-tuning. After we were settled he said, ‘hey, whip out the lyrics you are working on. I have a few chords I want to try. We worked for about half an hour going through his chords and arranging them into a song.

In very short time I came up with the melody and we were able to finish the song enough that we performed it later in the tour. I programmed the Yamaha RX7 Drum machine to fit the arrangement. Ann and I sang the lead vocals and Ric did everything else. In the picture above you can see the two silver discs on the lower section of Ric’s guitar. While playing guitar, he would touch one of the silver pads to make a cymbal crash sound from his drum machine and the other one triggered a pre-programmed drum fill pattern for each time he hit the pad. He also kicked bass pedals and triggered string or piano sounds. Pretty amazing when two out of three are just singing to get all that sound.

For “Those Who Wait” by Ric Ahlers and Michael S Kennedy

This is easily the best song I have co-written. Years ago I posted lyrics and said that I wrote this duo for existing country stars at the time. It was my hope to have Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers do this song. I think it would have blown the charts for the time. But who knows. I think we sounded pretty good.

Personal Touch as a duo with me and Ric Ahlers. Yes, he is that tall!

As a duo and later as a trio adding vocalist Ann Ellis, we tried to play popular current songs along with songs we wanted to play. As the Personal Touch we tried to play cover songs with an original flair. Often having Ann sing songs by male artists. She obviously had the best voice of the three of us so she often got the more challenging songs.

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.

My first touring band was a trio called Personal Touch

I know I haven’t been posting things for a while, but actually I have been pretty busy. During the Covid lock down I was fortunate to get my writing partners and band mates from The Merchants of Death on-line for Internet jamming. In a while I will post some tunes we recorded live from different cities.

I have also been working with a great friend of mine to re-mix and master a 16 track live recording of the band Euphoria. Those familiar with my blog know that I also played in Euphoria, but I am not in the band at this time. Clint Garcia is the keyboard guru for the band, and when he took a break for a few years, I filled in for him.

When not jamming or mixing I often return to my archive. My recording obsession started around 1970 or so and I have been working for a while reviving very old recordings. I am currently working on my cassette collection. I found the original live recording of Personal Touch performing including what I think is the best song I have ever written. See the lyric post here: https://midimike.com/2015/03/05/per-request-lyric-to-our-bodies-move/ While I have always struggled with naming my songs, this is either called “For Those Who Wait” or “Our Bodies Move”, depending on what I was doing at the time.

We perform a bunch of familiar cover tunes and throw in originals somewhere in each set. I have a few songs from the live Personal Touch recording I will post over the following weeks. This was recorded as I mentioned using a stereo cassette deck running straight off the mixing board. We have no sound tech, so I do the mix from the stage. We ran our sound in stereo even playing live, so I just took the main outs and recorded. Back then I used my home stereo speakers for the monitors and we all fit in a single van to travel. Ahhhhh. The good old times!

Ric Ahlers was my brother-in-law and talked me into buying and learning a synthesizer and an electric piano so we could form a duo. Ric played guitar, sang, and also controlled bass pedals and a drum machine. ( I detailed in an earlier post that he has triggers attached to his guitar so he can make a cymbal crash or a drum roll). I played my 12 string Ovation guitar for some songs, sang and played keyboards for the rest. I also programmed a 2nd drum machine to play a number of songs and could be used to add tom fills or crashes on the spot. Ann Ellis joined the band as our vocalist and soon we hit the road.

Vintage cassette recording of my band Personal Touch performing live

It is a lot of work but we met great people and had a good time playing our songs and doing cover tunes with a personal touch. I think there is a date in here somewhere, so I will try to find it and give you an idea how long ago this was. Enjoy.

I am a sponge
Fill me with your life
I will not overflow
I absorb.

I am a sponge
Bigger from inside
Everything you spill
I will hold.

Too often filled with grief?
I can be unexpected relief.
Each visit is painfully brief.
Can you give your heart to a thief?

I am a sponge
I will hold all of you
And will want for more
I adore.

I am a sponge
Though I weigh nothing
I have more than strength
I remain.

I do not own the land I am standing on.
The house I live in does not belong to me.
I Own Nothing.
They were given to me by my forefathers,
Who took it from native peoples of long ago.
They Owned Nothing.

The sky and the sunsets are not mine to keep.
The shore that calms the evening hours is not mine.
I Own Nothing.
Unprepared for the depth of lies from wicked men
Too many died learning what true cruelty is.
Now Own Nothing.

In my heart a wildfire burns
It burns out of control.
Everything buried in ashes
Darkening my very soul.

In my head a chaos reigns
No music can console
Nothing stands long in its way
Tearing and deepening the hole.

I do not own the land I am standing on.
The house I live in does not belong to me.
I Own Nothing.
They were given to me by my forefathers
Who stole them along with so many lives
Pray for nothing.

We count our possessions measured in gold
But the down payment was paid in tribal blood.
I Own Nothing.

Of all the treasures I have saved.
Hidden away for a better day.
Of all the gems I’ve written and played
Moments captured then stored away.

Of all the hours Frozen in time.
You had yours and I had mine.
If you give just a little rhyme
You get back so much the darkness shines.

Of all the instruments I’ve played
Inspired to communicate.
Of all these feelings often betrayed
Words are meaningless left unsaid.

Words are Meaningless left unsaid.
Like a song that’s never been heard.
Words are Meaningless left unsaid
Silent now Default and Preferred.

Of all the tears many came with smiles
The benefactor of many trials.
Of all the years measured in same miles
It never ends renders or compiles.

A surprise April Fool’s Day Snow got to our goblin.

I have been pretty busy lately. I have been jamming on-line with my originals band “The Merchants of Death”. We have not played together in almost forty years! They were champs with handling the technology, but the latency or delay you get is a bit frustrating. A couple weeks ago – after all of our Covid 19 shots and waiting periods we got together and played live – IN THE SAME ROOM!

That was really very neat. Our on-line sessions have been a blessing during the lockdown and restrictions. Playing our old original songs and mixing them in with current cover tunes is just a perfect environment for me. I will share some of our recordings soon.

I also did a live recording session a few weeks ago. It was a cool project. I was to record the drummer playing in isolation as the drummer listened to a mix of the other recorded instruments and vocals! The drummer did an excellent job in following the band as drummers usually try to lead the band. The recordings were clean and after a little post production I sent the final tracks for assembly and final mix.

I have also been doing a lot of long-needed outdoor yard work and landscaping around my house. This winter and spring were bizarre. I wish I had posted these pictures earlier, but it is a challenge sometimes deciding which project to focus on. I hope you enjoy a look back at this year’s snow and blooms. All of these pictures were taken within a few days of each other. It was an amazing sight.

Setting up my drums for the first recording project of 2021!