Posts Tagged ‘#performance’

MIDIMike’s Reviews Are Coming Soon!

As a result of requests from fellow bloggers and ReverbNation members, we are just a few weeks away from launching the new ​MIDIMike’s Reviews Site.  This site will be dedicated to reviewing original music and creative writing submissions every week.  I assembled a​n amazing​ team of reviewers to work with me and they are ​also ​excited to help with this new project.

I have been writing and performing for decades, but recently I struggled to get my material professionally reviewed for my on-line presskit.  I have seen a number of artists struggle to acquire this simple but necessary stepping stone.  Several of you have asked me for opinions on your material and I want to make that advice available to everyone.  I want to be able to give back to all of you for the support and encouragement you’ve given me over this last year.

MIDIMike’s Reviews will  be free and honest.  I will be posting the reviews on my http://www.midimike.com site (which has thousands of views per month) and on the upcoming review site.  You are also welcome to use the review for your own website/blog/presskit when referencing MIDIMike’s Reviews as the source.  The individual review posts are not guaranteed for all submissions, but every submission will receive feedback from us.  I enjoy raw talent, but the submissions should be presented ​as professionally​ as possible.  Your creative works will be handled with the utmost care and you retain full ownership.  HOWEVER: You must guarantee you are the sole author and have full permissions to publish these works.

If you are interested in having your material reviewed, please e-mail: midimikesreviews@gmail.com

Music – You may submit a song or an album for review.  Please send a link to the material in full and any additional presskit material or websites (if available).

Poetry – Please e-mail the poem or poems in full to the e-mail address with any websites/social media (if applicable).

All levels of experience accepted. (If you have any questions, you can also e-mail them to us at midimikesreviews@gmail.com)

Please keep in mind; I do what I can, but sometimes life gets in the way. Please be patient with us while we get this up and running.  I tried to avoid as much legal jargon as possible but there are exceptions, exclusions and I have the final say on what reviews will be posted and for the content of the reviews.

On a more pleasant note, I get to hear a lot of great music from new bands and artists before they become wildly famous and read great poetry before it’s professionally published! Thank you for making the first half of 2015 a blast, and it is just getting started!

​MIDIMike​

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Think of the stage as a speaker sitting in front of the audience….. sometimes the club or venue actually looks like a box where the performers are positioned. You have the low-end Bass Guitar, Kick Drum and Floor Tom and maybe keyboard sounds or textures. You have the Guitar and Vocals in a mid-rangy area and at the upper end you have symbols and higher range Guitar and Keyboard sounds. All inside the same box just a blasting away at different levels and pointed in all directions.

Now you have a better understanding of the challenge of making these various chunks into a tasty audio stew!

For the best way to present music to the savvy listeners of today, we do what has been done for decades. In the stereo image, you want to create a “room” or “place” for the listener. We have become comfortable with the very low end sounds coming from both speakers at about the same volume. This places the sound to the center of the listener’s field.

We like the vocals or in most cases the melody line to be in both sides equally, again placing the singer in the middle of the left-right field. We are fine if other instruments or singers are more to the left or right as long as the main sounds are where we expect them. We usually place big speakers on either side of the stage facing the audience…… usually in front of the stage and performers…. But as mentioned above this is not a finely tuned speaker cabinet by any means. The components are not necessarily proportionally balanced in volume or location. Setting up the Stage and PA system with this in mind can help reinforce the natural stereo image out in the audience.

Now that I have made a connection that is awkward if not confusing, even though the PA system in all likely hood is a Mono mix coming from both sides or columns of speakers, the listener still hears this as a stereo field. They want the low-end sounds or tones from the center of the stage. Typically the drum – the Kick Drum to be specific for this example – is the most used and most amplified instrument in band situations or where you have audio media. The Bass Guitar player is usually next to the drummer. This helps them keep tighter timing and solid beat, but also supports the stereo image of the listener.

Guitar and other amplified instruments on stage can be heard more from their side of the stage than from the other as an easy example, even if the volume through each side of the Main is sent the same level signal. If keyboards are on the opposite side of the stage from the guitar and also uses a monitor or amp, standing closer to them in front row can make it seem like the keyboards are too loud and those on the other side of the stage think the guitars are somewhat overbearing. It won’t stop them from standing there though! As you get further away from the front of the stage or if the venue is very large, this stereo effect has less and less meaning to the listener. Still, as a rule, most sound systems do not place low-end PA cabinets (or dumps) on one side of the stage and the mid or hi-end cabinets on the other side. It can be however, advantageous to place the low-end dumps in the center of the stage or along the front-center stage area. To make this more inclusive, it is also more comfortable to hear low-end tones coming from an elevation point lower (on the floor, for example) and the higher tones or frequencies coming from higher points (mounted above the stage or on tall poles).

If the volume on stage becomes to strong a level it will negatively affect all the above and more. To reinforce another post of mine, musicians just need to worry about performing great – we sound geeks will make them sound good and loud! I keep dreaming.

Like many songs or projects do, this song combines a number of events in my life with observations I make as an observer on the planet Earth.  I was outside and looked up in the sky one afternoon for no real reason and noticed there was a bright full moon.  I know they happen, it just seemed unusual and weird.  Do werewolves come out on a full moon In the Middle of the Day? I digress.  So I thought that is weird, and how would most people notice there was a full moon? When you’re looking up from the ground.  I worked in a call center for a number of years.  Some of those years get boiled down into a verse or two.  It expresses frustration with the extreme customer and how difficult it can be to ‘act professionally’ when under duress.  But there is also recognition of the people I have worked with.  It feels natural.  We work as a team with no agenda.  I have worked with some great teams of people, some very smart and some very dedicated and some very efficient.  All working together and helping each other. If only we could get big business and politicians to work like that.  On this song I programmed the drums and played bass guitar behind the 12 string and vocals. It was just a quick little ditty about work.  I like the arrangement of the song and it has a few twists to it.  It is fun to play and I hope you enjoy!

In the Middle of the Day

Muscle machine; glorified drama queen,

Held together by something in between.

There’s a full moon in the middle of the day,

Sometimes you just can’t get out of the way.

All the crazies, calling you on the phone

Never get the time to be on your own.

There’s a full moon in the middle of the day

Tell ‘em the Truth; Lies, they won’t believe you anyway.

But it feels natural like this

Everything works the way it’s supposed to be.

Know it with every kiss:
I’ll take care of you, if you‘ll take care of me.

It’s one thing, until you turn around

That’s when you notice, looking up from the ground.

There’s a full moon, in the middle of the day,

Gets to where black and white blurs into gray.

The dumb ones really get on your nerves,

And This One thinks everyone’s here just to serve.

There’s a full moon, in the middle of the day,

Don’t you ever wish you could say what you want to say?

It feels natural like this

Watch out for each other, learn from what you see.

Know it with every kiss

I’ll take care of you, will you share your life with me.

*It feels natural like this.  It feels natural like this….

There’s a Full Moon in the Middle of the Day,

There’s a Full Moon in the Middle of the Day

I was nominated for the Creative Blogger Award by https://toniumbarger.wordpress.com (Thanks so much for the kind words)

Here are the 5 Random Facts About Me: 

1) Before working at the music store, I worked for a Toyota dealership and sold – wait for it —– Used Cars!!!!  I even sold a used car to my future wife.  I knew and still know nothing about cars other than how to drive them.  I was quite successful and my strategy was not to overwhelm customers with specs and technical jargon.  I just found out what they needed and suggested a couple cars they would like.  I loved the work but hated the tactics and methods used by the managers, finance department and just about everything except the money.  It was not worth it to me so I quit selling used cars and started working at the music store for a lot less money. I also sold a car to my future wife.

2) In my last count including technical schools and college I have attended eighteen schools.  I did this count so long ago I can’t remember all the schools now! This is why I’m bad at names and good at getting to know someone very quickly.   I have a difficulties remembering names and places.  I knew family, but unless you were around for a long time, I simply didn’t try to remember names of kids at school, or teachers, or buildings, or neighbors.  But I was good at making friends and connecting with customers.  I can tell you every piece of equipment my music store customers owned, where they played (not by name… but location), and know what style of music they were into but could not remember their names. It is a real challenge in the sales and music industries!  If I could remember names and network, I would be dangerous!    

3) I have studied Martial Arts for years.  My choice to pursue Tae Kwon Do came from the name (I was told it loosely translated to open hand – open fist, meaning no weapons).  The other thing that I liked is they start teaching defense postures rather than attack moves.  If you were challenged and the ‘attacker did not play fair’ we were also trained how to incapacitate them or simply take them out if needed.   One of my songs has a line – ‘I am a pacifist that just loves a good fight’!  I have never had to use it against an attacker but the training and philosophy have lasted a very long time.

4) In reality, with all my posts on musical theory,  I do not read sheet music!  I know how it works and if I had to I could, but I learn and play by ear.  (I have to work at it but I get there)  If I need to use the sheet music to learn a piece, once I have learned it enough to play, I never use the sheet notation again.

5)  Speaking of cars, I guarantee I can teach any licensed driver how to drive a car with a standard transmission in less than ten minutes……..

Instead of tagging a few of you, because I really do enjoy so many of your blogs on a daily basis, I’m encouraging you to share a few random facts about yourself with me – Anything you want to share is welcome. I love getting to know you all and I’m thankful every day to be a part of such an open, welcoming and diverse community.                                                  

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When looking at the keyboard as an example of note patterns and the arrangement chart I used for the numerical assignment for each note, it might be natural to think that the Black keys or Shaded fields represent the ‘Half notes’ or notes that are not within a scale. This however takes us down the wrong path. The keyboard offers a clean representation of the note relationships at a quick glance but we need to be careful how we perceive this relationship. ALL notes – no matter what the color – are HALF notes. The color of each key means NOTHING if we are not in the key of C Major. Look at many other instruments and there are no color designators for scales, notes or keys. The guitar has other markings to help know what fret is being used, and this can be helpful for knowing the range of notes in any section of the guitar fretboard, but again, does not directly indicate notes within scales.

Play any adjacent note on the keyboard going up (higher notes – right) or down (lower notes – left) and it is another half step. Each instrument will have its own lingo but the structure is the same. Start with any note and if you skip a note or single key in this example you will be playing Whole notes. For guitar players we would say up one fret or down one fret…. up two frets or down two frets. Brass, wind and other players will talk about sharps or flats. From here it is better to be color blind until you get familiar with other scales and keys. If we start with a Black note for example, it becomes the Root and all notes will stem from that Root note. Some scales will include more Black notes, some scales will include less. The fact that the keyboard pattern has two white notes side by side has little value when thinking about scales, it just helps us understand the amount of separation from the surrounding notes. It is that separation and relationship that we need to focus on. The Perception is the distance between notes and the pattern helps understand their relationship to each other. The Deception can knock us off track if we begin to think the color designators represent a constant scale assignment.

In fact, when I look at a drum set I think the same way……. each tom, for example, should represent a tone or note and they can be tuned to fit within scales. For right-hand drummers or percussionists, the smaller toms are usually to the left-hand side and getting larger as you move to the right. Smaller toms are tuned to higher pitches and lower toms and the kick drum are tuned to lower pitches. YES! I will tune the drums when doing recording sessions so the tone of the drums will fit within the scale of the song. I might re-tune if necessary depending on the song, but that is fairly rare for bands to use dramatic changes. I make sure each tom, snare and kick drum is tuned to the project (that might be easier to understand than tuning to each song….). Like Gary Jefferson would often say to our audiences while the guitar player is silently tuning, ‘we sound better if we are in tune’! If the percussion instruments are not arranged properly and not tuned correctly, it will clash with the other instruments. The result can be unnoticed by many, but even those of us that are not professionals will notice that the recording or performance (as I mentioned I often tune drums for bands I am running sound for) sounds cloudy or awkward and not as tight as it could be even though the players are amazing and well rehearsed. We may not know why…. but we know something is getting in the way of a great performance.

This was one of those amazing events that happen in your life. You get thrown together with really cool and creative people and work on a project. There are so many stories here it is a good thing that I need to break it up into a number of segments. I have already credited a lot of the experiences I had as a result of working at the music stores. This was another one of those. The employees were musicians by definition and we also had band and instrument teachers working there. Everyone played but quite a number of us wrote our own material as well. At the store I managed, we were a diverse group with a wide definition of styles. I did not own it, but it was MY store. I had an agreement with the owner that he not visit my location while I was there. I would run it my way and do the best I can as if it is my store. He agreed and for years I did exactly that. I took care of the people that worked and shopped there. I gave people real advice and information. We developed long-term loyal customers. It was a great team and we had a common goal – do good and we keep the owner out of our building! Great motivation.

A local radio station WOXY in Oxford, OH sponsored a Local Licks radio segment I think every Thursday night for a few months. I had submitted a few of my songs and one of them got played one week. Nice feeling to hear your stuff on the radio. I submitted a few more original tunes and suggested one of the other employees to enter some of his songs. He had more of an urban beat box groove thing going and he did all his own recordings. He did not think anything would come of it as his stuff is even more eclectic than mine! So he gave me a cassette tape – yes, a cassette tape! – and told me to pick the best songs and send them in under his name. I took his tape home and consumed it for hours. Then I made my decision and picked three songs to submit.  This is one of those funny things too. I sent in a song I thought had a great hook a nice arrangement and was really catchy in the genre he was in. I entered my next favorite that really pushed the drum/percussion thing he had going. I thought they had a good chance.

For the third song I threw in something that in all honesty was my attempt at ‘comedic relief’. I figured if I threw something out there that was really bizarre and off beat, they would think the other two songs were great by comparison. Not that the song was not great, but not a match for this heavy-leaning college radio station (… “the future of rock and roll” …..) The third song of his featured a banjo player and an off beat kind of groove. The Local Licks segments lead up to a radio version of battle of the bands. Songs played on Local Licks weekly segments would be entered into an elimination round on the last week the program aired. The finalists would have their songs played one more time as the winners were announced and then the bands would perform for just under an hour in a well known club in Cincinnati for prizes and glory.

As we listened to the local radio station during the elimination round there was a funny feel to the ‘winners’ moving ahead. There was an unusual flavor where songs you thought would be a shoe-in were dropped, and unusual tunes were advancing. Some songs were down right off the wall. There must have been a shift in judging but there were songs with unusual instruments in them getting to the finalists position. There was a song by a band called Tuba Blues. Another one I can’t remember had another unusual lead instrument and to think of it, as you remember one of my friend’s songs featured a banjo player!. Sure enough……. his song kept advancing. We were floored when they picked my friend’s third song! That night on the radio they announced the four finalists that would compete in a live battle of the bands event at Bogarts. Without pulling out records I think the event would be in about three or four weeks time from the announcement.

None of us at the store expected any of us to go that far, let alone to finalist. But none of us could believe that was the song that won! It was a fluke that I entered the song and that the judge apparently was looking for unusual instruments in rock and roll bands that year. Who da thunk? Once we met at work and talked it over it became obvious my friend had one problem; he was a soloist and there was no band! HA! The guitar teacher had a band called It. Ellen and I would join on keyboards and guitar and vocals and another employee and great friend over the years would join in on keys, guitar, vocals and a mean shaker! Each of us put in original songs to perform as a band and we rehearsed for a solid two weeks to try to get ready for this show. We knew numbers-wise we did not have a real chance of winning, but we were determined to make a show and event out of it.

……. All the while in the depths of a cave far from civilization, a Master of Ceremony was writing a series of short speeches that would be an added theatrical presentation between songs. Only the day of the performance did we see how this fit together and we had no idea what he was going to say – with the exception of a few word keys that would trigger a response from the band members, and occasionally the audience in return.

Fortunately we were all musicians currently involved in original songs and live performance. We had pretty good gear and we knew how to use it. We knew how to learn songs and how we can add to them or subtract as needed. Practice went well and started to be fun. The writer of the winning song chose the band name, and we made T-Shirts for all band members with the band name and studio logo; Willie the Ferret Studios. We worked out vocal parts as we had a number of vocalists and lots of harmonies and added speech. The lead guitar player was killer. His drummer was awesome and the bass player in their band IT, was solid and blindingly fast. With that foundation we just had to do our thing and it would all blend in fine. So we were ready enough but nervous as hell. A lot of things could go wrong here.

We get there and listen to the bands that were playing before us and there is a pretty good crowd at this point. We have our equipment squeezed up next to the stage entrance so we can rush in as soon as this band is done and moves their gear out. We set up fast. My keyboard controller does something funny and it takes me a while to fix it. No problem – tune guitar and ready to go. We look around and there are only a few microphones so we ask for more as we have a number of vocalists. They tell us no, that is what everyone gets. So as you see us a little unorganized and running from one side of the stage to another, it is changing instruments and trying to find a way for all vocalists to sing – or speak their part.  After a while it was just funny and we worked it out quickly for the most part and had fun with it.

The audience is not sure and a little uncomfortable with the speeches at first, but after a couple times and solid music everyone got the idea and joined in. The band has to settle down a little and the monitors and the mix takes a while to get used to. It is hard to hear some of the keyboard and vocal parts in some parts but that is to be expected. The writer of our winning song does not perform until the last song, so he helps with the Main House mix in the club. We were a little more involved than the regular rock band so he was able to plan ahead. I wish the lighting guy had help too. They seem a little lost at times but over all still a cool event.

As a member of a cover band, I was given the opportunity to add something to my personal profile on the band web site.  I added a statement that went something like this; “we will play anywhere for free…..we just charge to move the equipment in and out”!

If you think about it, you would have to pay an awful lot of money to have ‘professionals’ move that much equipment.  Then they have to pack it all up and take it back at the end of the gig.  I have played keyboards, guitar, percussion and back up vocals in most of the bands I performed with.  Sometimes I also ran sound at the same time!  I was carrying so much gear for myself that I probably had more than the sound guy!  Once you haul equipment out of your house (I did not have duplicates, so what I used in the studio I had to tear down and take to the gig, set it up, tear it down, take it home and set it up in the studio again) and set up the gear you are all hot and sweaty and exhausted and now get to play for 4 plus hours, pack it all up and take it home.  Ahhhh, the glamourous rock and roll life.   Knowing all that, I think most people would be amazed at how little the local band playing the bar scene gets paid for all that work.   Maybe it is confusing because we call it ‘play’.  If I figured out an hourly rate I would probably get really depressed!

We also had to practice, individually and as a band.  No weekends free….  you get home at 3 or 4 in the morning and have to recover most of the day, then you play that night and do it all over again.  I always worked at a day job and still do, so this was about all the free time I had.  Now time for family, writing and recording projects and hopefully a little time in the sun.

Is it fun?  Absolutely.  I am an introvert and very shy in public, but it is a thrill to perform with great musicians and have the audience appreciate what you are doing.  I would not give it up, and if I were a bit younger I would still be out there.  At one point I told the band members that I would quit gigging out when I turned 50  – or my van broke down, whichever came first.  My van did break down first, but our light guy fixed it himself for free.  So I kept playing out.  Way past 50.  I recently stopped because tinnitus (a ringing in the ears from long exposure to loud sounds) got pretty bad in the last few years.  I only play out for special occasions these days, but it is still a blast.

For this project, we needed a few volunteers and some inexpensive themes.  We took advantage of the resources available.  Ric worked as an auto mechanic so we started there.  I made a couple cameo appearances but the story is about working hard and no time for creating and performing  (you have heard this theme before !) During the Jeep ride up the hill you do not see the driver (Gorgeous George…) but he is still in the Jeep as Ric appears to be pulling it (and metaphorically his career) up the hill.  George is pulling in and out on the clutch so there is real tension and sometimes Ric is literally being pulled back by the Jeep.  Who needs acting skills!

When we moved to the live Personal Touch segments it is the duo before Phyllis Ann officially joined us.  You can see Ric is kicking bass pedals and controlling an accompaniment system.  On his guitar you can see him tap two silver round pads. The one triggers a drum crash from the accompaniment system he is controlling. The other pad triggers a drum pattern change to a drum roll for as many times as he taps the pad.  He is the lead vocalist for the song and yes, he is also playing guitar…….. I am playing my Arp Odyssey, a Yamaha electric piano and my Yamaha DX7 and doing back-up vocals in this video.

For this I think we went into the club the day of our regular performance and shot the raw video segments for the Walking Man video.  We played other tunes for other projects but there is no real audience and we only had to set up once to do the video shots and perform later that night.  I try to be within budget (usually none….) and also with no wasted effort!

For a duo, we packed a lot of punch.  Not only because it was just two of us in the beginning, but  also in the space we could fit.  We had no live drummer or bass player.  I could play guitar and sing and when I was not playing guitar (and indeed, in some songs I would play guitar and keyboards) I could play keyboards and/or control the drum machine that I programmed.

Ric sang and played the guitar and almost all lead guitar parts as he also controlled the accompaniment system that had preset drum patterns, bass pedals, and a foot pedal and switches that let him add backing instruments like strings or piano sounds and at the same time determine if the backing instrument chords were played Major, Minor, 7th etc.  We fit anywhere, as long as they had tall ceilings LOL!!!

Believe it or not, MTV started off as a media outlet for – VIDEOS!  It was not what it is today.  Music videos were still relatively new and there were not that many out there but they started being produced in numbers once MTV provided an outlet for them. The Chicken or the Egg thing all over again.  I did not own any video equipment, but I was familiar with photography and music, so it was a natural interest for me.  Back then, cable companies were starting to set up monopolies in various cities throughout the US and we were in the Warner Amex territory.  As part of their agreement with the city to provide cable and other services, Warner Amex made some of their equipment and channels available to local citizens. They provided training and allowed non-profit citizens to go through camera and editing training and once completed you could schedule use of their equipment to create content for viewing on their Public Access channels.

I was one of the first (my card was # 000090!!) to sign up for the training classes.  I would borrow their equipment and film bands and live performances, family growing, along with a number of other projects.

My first project was to make a video that introduced the idea and benefits of the Public Access program, (we hoped if we had a complimentary message it would be good for PR and relationships with the people that administered the program, (we were right). and a music video idea we had been working on.  This is by definition low-budget and is dated by equipment and resources available today. But it was a learning experiment and was a lot of fun.  To do a lot of what we did it took a bunch of planning and trial and error.  I had been playing keyboards for a very short time and there are a bunch of mistakes, I was new with the video editing and production, but not this was not bad for the first release.  Usually, I am also the cameraman, but filming my own band required additional operators.  I edited the video from the collection of raw tapes and a live performance of the song.

This video features my younger brother as the narrator and the music is from the duo I was in at the time called, “The Personal Touch.”  The intro theme is a musical piece called “The Big D Jam”.  The video is based on a song the guitar player wrote called “Transaxle“.   We took vague ideas and filmed them all.  Then edited them into something semi-cohesive!  There are a bunch of funny stories that went into the making of Walking Man but I will spare you for now.  The end credits use a song of mine introduced earlier called “The Pleasure Tax“.

As with many of these blasts from the past, there are lots of good memories and a number of painful ones.  Looking at this video again so many years after, I see my youngest brother Chris in his healthy days doing the narrative part introducing the musical video before health problems including throat cancer took their toll.  This is when we thought we would last forever….. there was no end in sight.  We do not last for ever.  For him, the end was so close to the beginning.   We all have our vices, but with legal ones like tobacco and alcohol killing people every day, we all know someone that has been affected by the results. Here is the real message we should be sending; These drugs may not kill you.  You will not lose ten years of your life.  You will survive – and grow old – and suffer – for decades, with a disease that is eating you from the inside out. I am glad I was there to help him a little as he faced the end.  I would have given anything to find another path for him, but he knew where he was going.  It did not stop him and neither could I.

I am fairly new to the blogging world, but after a few months I have learned a lot. Recently, I was amazed at the response and the thoughtfulness in the lists provided by other bloggers in the community  on my Love/Hate post. Comments mentioned knowing me a little better and with so many of you posting your list I have been able to know some of you better as well. In addition to that, I thought it was actually a lot of fun. I would like to suggest another sharing of ideas. I would LOVE to have your thoughts on bands, artists and musicians that have influenced your life. I do not want to restrict this to bands per se, but to include individuals, songs, groups and bands or musicians. I will continue to post articles highlighting bands you may not be familiar with and I hope your answers will make me aware of new bands or artists out there that could be stellar, just not known to me. In fact, over the years I have depended on friends to direct me to great artists and musicians. They do my filtering for me and I get to hear or see really great performances I would never have come across on my own….. I don’t get out much LOL! If you will, please post a list of your favorite artists and maybe recommend a song from each. I am not sure about most of you, but the ‘popular’ songs and hits on a CD or album are often not the best or favorite tracks. I hope this is as much fun as the last one! All genres of music welcome.