Bicycle riding is something I have loved since being a kid. I get exercise, fresh air, new scenery and a little bit of escape all wrapped into one. Recently cities in Ohio and other states have purchased unused train rights of way and turning them into bike and walking paths or trails. This is perfect because the train tracks are fairly level, the perfect width, and they go through neighborhoods that are rarely connected any other way.

Case in point is the latest addition of the CROWN section of the pathways including Wasson Way. When I-71 was built around 1966 to 1975 it split Cincinnati in drastic and unfortunate ways like every other town. Once built, many neighborhoods were completely severed from each other and in some cases from the business districts they created. This is a point in history for me as my family was renting a house on a street that was demolished and we had to move for them to build I-71. The neighborhoods I used to ride through with my friends were no longer accessible to a kid on a bike.

Strollers enjoying the Marburg Avenue section of Wasson Way

Anyway, they are about to extend that section next week so the Wasson Way path connects to one of my favorite local parks of all time! I have shared many pictures of Ault Park here and it is still a lovely place to see. When this section is completed I will be able to take bike trails (including on-road lanes) from my house all the way to Ault Park. The big plan is to have various trails in Ohio that will take you from the southernmost point in Ohio near the Ohio River all the way to Cleveland at some point in the not too distant future.

I took some pictures of the progress made to the unfinished section so you have an idea of the work they are putting into this.

They will start planting trees along the current paths next week. As old as I am it is still nice to get out and take a ride through familiar neighborhoods like I did when much younger. It is satisfying to see the city I have lived in for almost ever finally embracing these outdoor activities and unique neighborhoods long cut off from each other.

It is easy to blame the media for everything. Go ahead and try, it’s simple. My current beef has nothing to do with fake news, but irritates me just as much.

Once a catchy sound bite is written it is carried by every outlet and repeater station no matter how misleading it is.

Which brings me to the coverage of the Delta variation of Covid-19.

The general news line goes something close to this:

“The Delta variant is ripping across the country….

The country is ravaged by the Delta infections…

Over 95% of new infections are caused by the Delta virus… “, and on and on.

This intentionally gives the listener the wrong impression altogether. The Delta variation is not causing hospitalizations and death in the US……

People that are eligible but not getting vaccinated are causing the increase in hospitalizations and death in the USA.

Quit saying it is because of Delta. The vaccines work for the original strain and this one too. All we have to do (if eligible) is get vaccinated. That’s all.

In fact, it might be tempting to blame the unvaccinated for allowing this and next variation to take hold in this country.

But that is just as easy as blaming the media.

As a musician I look at time a bit differently than others might. I am reminded of this when I see movies or videos of people working out and doing exercises. Even the simple ‘count to ten’ is often a reminder that most people don’t count time correctly.

It is easy to count ten items – you start at 1 (one) and stop when you get to 10 (ten). To sound it out aloud counting ten items would go like this…….

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. You do indeed have ten items.

But counting time is different. A second is not a single point in time but a defined length of time. If you followed the above approach you would end up with 9 full seconds as shown below. (if tied to a metronome or equivalent)

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10.

Use the dashes to represent the full length of each second. Total them up and you end up with only 9 full seconds, not 10. There are easy ways to break this habit.

Start with the number 0 (zero) when counting time. This will give us 0 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10.

Now, when you total the dashes you get ten full seconds. A lot of people count faster when counting up, and but more accurately when counting down. Like a rocket launch or New Year’s celebrations, this steady rhythm has been in our culture for a long time. Try it.

For items start with the number 1, but for time, start or end with the number 0. Each second, minute or hour lies in between each pair of numbers, not within the number itself.

Just a quick observation for anyone interested. I have a couple bird feeders in my yard. It has taken us a while to develop a system that allows birds easy access while making it extremely difficult for squirrels to get to the feeders. (Watch my video for kicks if you have a minute.)

We normally use thistle in one feeder and a combination of mixed seeds in the other. They all seem to wait in turn to get to the feeders depending on species and social structures. They usually wait on near-by branches for the next open slot.

The other morning I was finished with my breakfast and took some of the dry cereal and put some in a small votive-style candle holder we have attached to the back porch railing. After a few minutes the birds found the cereal. At first a couple, then a few minutes later a bunch came to get this new bird feed. But it was not like normal. It was like they could not wait for their turn after having the first sample. Even the small birds would try to shove the others away from the candle holder.

It was a crazy feeding frenzy. Now I am not sure about the cost comparison, but when I want to give the birds a treat I KNOW that a little bit of Post Grape Nuts cereal in the feeders will liven things up real quick. Try it. But make sure the squirrels and deer can’t get to it first!

My normal bird seed

Little traveling over the last year but I did take some pictures I wanted to share at the time, but got sidetracked with other projects.

I hope you enjoy them even if they are a bit late.

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?

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.