Posts Tagged ‘#musician’

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.

Life on the outside is cruel and often mean.
Life on the inside can be what you make it to be.
You have more than I do and it’s still not enough.
If someone ‘wants you’, you think that they’re in love.

I find the simple pleasures we share
Can provide the answers for hope and prayer.
Literally, just stop and face the other way
We see so much clearly in the light of day.

In Summary;
There’s a bunch of things I haven’t done yet.
In Summary;
Far too many things I’ve learned to regret.
In Summary;
The important ones I try not to forget.
In Summary;
I’m not a gambler
But there were many times
I should have placed my bet.

The difference between the haves and the have-nots
Or more like the players that miss all the free shots.
Learn to appreciate everything that goes toward the Sum
I’ve gotten old and slow, but I’ve never been dumb.

Let me get this straight;
You worked all your life to be this?
So many opportunities to learn and grow
Yet here you remain, still.

Asking me to wait;
As if you found the life of bliss?
Doesn’t matter to me if I will ever know
You’re The Only One who will.

In a world full of half-truths and disrespect.
The Only One
Reality converted – digest and dissect.
The Only One

So much given yet;
You feel you should complain, complain?
Hard to remember lies so move on to the next
Double down, dumber, dumber.

In a world full of half-truths and disrespect.
The Only One
Reality perverted – digest and dissect.
The Only One

Unbelievably;
We land inside another chance?
But it looks so much like The Other Ones
You are a song with no beginning.
A chorus that never ends.

A song with no beginning.
A chorus that never ends. A chorus that never ends. A chorus that never ends. A chorus that never ends.

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.

I found a drawer full of lost keys.
So many things worth locking away;
All forgotten.

Each one closely holding memories.
Some were tarnished and worn thin;
Some wrapped in cotton.

And if it is the right key
I will hear the greatest song.
And if it is the lost key
I will try to play along.

There were more than I could easily count.
And I knew some of them must be mine;
Saving things.

Connected to lock or door not found.
Left to remind me of other days;
The bell rings.

And if it sings in the right key
I will hear the greatest song.
And if it is the lost key
I will try to play along.

I hold some in my hand for hours.
Much more than time has drifted by;
Unrecovered.

I remember a field covered in flowers.
But I know I’ve never been there;
Undiscovered.

In no specific order here, we have our third vocalist working with my cover band called The Chase. Performing with us now is Sean Bandy (Shoeless Sean to his followers). I don’t think I have any real pictures of this time. I will keep looking but so far nothing great.

Sean also played acoustic guitar and does a great job of working with the audience. We played songs from the Beatles to Zappa and from James Brown to Queen and he kept up with them all. I am playing keyboards and electric rhythm guitar, as well as back up vocals. I am not running sound at this point from what little I can remember. I posted a couple videos of us on my You Tube channel earlier. See the following links THE CHASE LIVE 1 and THE CHASE LIVE 2. These are more like music with pictures and old video clips. The video recordings I made for that time did not translate well to the leap in resolution 30 years later lol.

The Chase and vocalist Sean Bandy performing “Cross Eyed Mary” by Jethro Tull
The Chase and vocalist Sean Bandy performing “I Feel Good” by James Brown
The Chase and vocalist Sean Bandy performing “Freeway Jam” by Jeff Beck and “Black Friday” by Steely Dan

Which vocalist is your favorite from the few examples here?

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.