Showing posts from October, 2009

The Blahs

I was really flat last night. Not flat pitch-wise, but just flat energy-wise. It was really hard to get in a groove last night.

Thriller is tonight. It's sold out (actually over-sold by the promoters). It should be fun. I'll be glad to finish it.

"It's all free throws"

One of our regular Yacht Rock fans was so pumped by our performance of a few Michael Jackson songs last night, he told us "it's all free throws now!" to which Nick replied, "What if we're Shaq?"

Last night was a strange one. We had two keyboardists on deck, so I was mostly just playing saxophone solos, as well as a handful of minor synth parts. I was also back in the corner of the stage, so most of what I heard was Mark Bencuya's keyboards, bass, and drums. It's a much different sound than the other side of the stage.
A couple of the guys had off nights, and it affected the vibe on stage more than just "oops." Also, Nick is worried that he might have picked up a cold. He had a doctor's appointment this morning to try and see if he could hold off the plague until Sunday!
Bencuya threw the synth solo for Love Will Keep Us Together at me. It's been a while since I've played that one. I did ok wandering through it, but I didn&#…

Wednesday Yachting

Yacht Rock played a "blender" for Juice Studios Wednesday night at Magnolia Hall in Piedmont Park. It was a pretty low key affair--mostly people mingling and networking. We were the band on the other end of the room. It was a really easy gig. No problems (though I think we were all pretty underwhelmed by the sound company). I was standing next to the mains while soloing at the end of Reminiscing, and I checked after the song to see if my microphone was on. It was like that.

Backun Barrel

I upgraded my clarinet yesterday by buying a better barrel for it. It's a ringless Backun barrel. I wasn't looking to change my sound as much as I was trying to expand it, and the better barrel did just that.

I ordered four barrels to try--two by Clark Fobes and two by Backun. I tried the Fobes barrels first and then the Backuns. It was nice, nice, yeah, WOW! This one really seemed to make my clarinet go. I can get more air into it, and yet there's less back pressure. Just what I was looking for.

I'm off on a four day cruise (Yacht Rock).

Yacht Rock on Ice

Yacht Rock played an event for the University of Virginia alumni last night. Outside. In the cold. In a tent with almost no sides.

We thought we would die. We were sure we would freeze and be left to die in the cold at the horse farm in Buckhead.

But no! Although I did sit in my truck with the heat running for an hour before the gig started, we were ok once we got up and moving. The first couple of songs I was blowing on my hands, but beyond that we might as well have been indoors.

A couple of cold weather problems...both saxophones were pushed in about a quarter inch past usual. Other than that, they felt good. I had no trouble with reeds, and once I got the mouthpiece in the right place, the pitch across the horn was not as way out as I thought it would have been. Even the flute (pushed all the way in) felt normal.
The display on one of my keyboards was very slow in changing. The keyboard itself was fine, but the display lagged behind. Weird.

Kip Conner (soundman for Shawn Mul…

Jazz and Toyotas

I had no gig tonight. No biggie. I played an early afternoon trio gig with Louis Heriveaux (keyboard) and Tommy Sauter (bass) at Stonecrest Toyota in Lithonia. I even drove a Toyota truck to the gig. Here's the audio if you want to check it out:

I clearly had some trouble with my reed in the first couple of songs (the first tune we attempted was I Mean You; the last was Cherokee). Where's the first note? On Turnaround, I will eventually get the end of the head right. I can do it in private, but not in public, evidently. Also, the head on Ladybird? What the hell? I don't know. I bailed on it pretty quick, that's for sure. On the way out I attempted to substitute Half Nelson, but I obviously haven't thought about that one in a while. No dice. While I'm criticizing myself, how about not playing so sharp, Freeman? Are ya deaf? It is strange to me to hear this trio play. On the gig I want to scream sometimes because the time feels like it goes to hell…

Yacht Rock

We cruised through Yacht Rock last night. I would say it sounded pretty good, but I'm biased.

I think I played the piano part to for I'd Really Love to See You Tonight about three and a half hours Thursday afternoon. My fingers were sore, but I got it right at the gig. That and All Out of Love were my two biggies that I needed to spend some time on. All Out of Love got cut, so you can assume I would have nailed it.

We played Thriller as a sneak peak of the Halloween show. It never fails to impress me how many people know all the words to every song. I'm getting to the point where I feels like I don't remember anything, but the people in front of me did everything but the frikin' dance!

The soundcheck for last night consisted of Human Nature and P.Y.T. I think we're in good shape. I don't have much on either one. The last song we need to work on is Lady in my Life. There's talk about tucking a saxophone solo in that one. Sweet! All play and no…

Thriller on my Mind

Thriller is killing me. I don't want to hear it anymore.
Yacht Rock had a rehearsal for Beat It and Billy Jean Monday night. We also checked a couple of the ones we'd previously worked on.
I spent tonight plowing through what seems like one million sounds looking for the right sound for a three measure solo in Human Nature. Fortunately (for my back and my sanity), I was able to find that obnoxious synth that I need for the chorus of P.Y.T. pretty quickly. I'm interested to hear what Bencuya came up with for the "Alvin" sounding vocoder thing at the end.
Tomorrow night we are doing Yacht Rock as a seven piece--Bielenberg has a gig somewhere else. I'm back on keyboards. I spent some time earlier today going over parts, and I'll do the same tomorrow. The only one I've never played before is the piano part on I'd Really Love to See You Tonight. I feel like I've got it, but I need to play it about 650 more times so I can feel confident about i…


What a weekend!

Thursday was our usual Yacht Rock gig. We added two more songs to our Thriller project, and I think they both went fairly well. It's always hard to tell. You figure out your part ahead of time, but you don't really know if it'll work until you hear in the context of everything else; at that point, you really know if you need to change your sound, volume, or scrap something in favor of another part. With Thriller, it seems like there are more things that two keyboardists and the EWI can physically perform, and so you have to make sure you're grabbing the parts that will be missed the most. That cool part that you had never heard until you really started analyzing the track probably won't be missed as much as the big synth pad.

Friday began waaaaaaaay too early (noon) with a studio call for Yacht Rock. We gathered at Open Sky Studios (in Avatar) to work on a Christmas tune--another mash-up of a Yacht Rock song with a Christmas tune. I don't …

Busy Beaver

Sorry for the lack of posts. I'm under the gun.

Yacht Rock is playing the entire Thriller album for Halloween, and we're desperately trying to throw the tunes together. Last week we tackled the first two (Wanna Be Startin' Something and Baby Be Mine). This week is The Girl is Mine and Thriller. Even though we have two keyboardists playing multiple keyboards, there are still parts for me on EWI. So...I'm trying to get those together. Mostly it's about getting sounds--writing out my parts is no big deal, but I can spend a long time comparing what I think the sound is to the actual record. It is super tedious.

Friday Yacht Rock is going into the studio to record a Christmas tune, and I need to do some homework to prepare for that. We have to be at the studio at noon, so there's no chance I can learn it tomorrow before the session. From there, I'm leaving to go to a gig at Lake Oconee, so Friday is shot.

This is worth noting because I have a Yacht Rock gi…

Saturday Night in Commerce

Last night Platnumb played a wedding reception in Commerce, GA (way up I-85). It was actually pretty fun. They hired a full horn section. The biggest news of the night was that I tied my tie a different way--half windsor instead of four in hand.
I gave up on a reed last night. It was a weird one. It felt mushy but it had some resistance. I started working on it by balancing the sides. That improved the response, but it was still mushy. The altissimo was not reliable--it'd do that thing where it would sound like I'd overblown it. I tried taking some wood off the back, but it was about the same so I gave up and threw it out. My next reed is better.
I'm into some reeds that I soaked too long. Lately my reed break in procedure has been to soak reeds for an hour or so, let them dry for a day (maybe play on the a little), soak them again for another hour, let them dry for a day, and then start trying to figure out what I've got. This box of tenor reeds was acciden…


nothing happened. if you saw me there, you'd know.

Three Day Trip

Here's the round up of this past weekend's Yacht Rock trip. I made notes along the way. Here they are.

We brought on Mike Bielenberg tonight as the new second keyboardist. He did very well. I think the band enjoyed hearing all the parts. Between Bencuya and myself, we have to drop parts from time to time (for instance if I'm playing a sax solo), so having the extra hands there keeps them going.

I was back across the stage, tucked in between the bass cabinet and Mark Bencuya's gear. It's such a gift to be able to sit and watch him play. He has great command of the vocabulary of this music. It's awesome. I didn't have nearly as much to do, so I tried to steal anything I could from him.

Mark Cobb had a good night. He was solid as a rock.

I had a problem with the power supply for my MIDI wireless. I solved it with batteries. Trip to Radio Shack!

Jimmy Fallon is having Christopher Cross on his show for a "Yacht Rock Party." We are en…

September 30 trio

I played a trio gig last Wednesday, September 30 with Louis Heriveaux (keyboard) and Tommy Sauter (bass). For your listening enjoyment, I have spent the past few hours trying to figure out how to post the audio. Here it is. I guess the player picks songs alphabetically--in other words, scroll up above Blue Monk to hear the first couple of songs.

There are a couple of tunes where the sound quality is not as good--I started with my recorder off to the side of the band. After a couple of tunes, I moved it to directly in front of us. Also, you can hear during Black Narcissus someone requesting Electric Slide or Cha Cha Slide. Seriously...we played a bunch of nasty Joe Henderson tunes (I mean, GEEZ! we played a free tune right before I started recording!), and some lady wanted us to play Electric Slide with no vocals and no drummer. What are we going to do, just play two chords for 5 minutes so that four people out of one hundred fifty can do a dumb dance? I said, "We're a …

Beth at 40

My beautiful wife, Beth, celebrated her birthday today.