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It Never Entered My Mind

Actually, it did, but then I thought the better of it.

I started off the year playing with a new band for an established blues singer in town. It really looked to be fun, but it ended up being more trouble than it was worth. I’ve actually put a lot of it out of my mind by now so I’m not getting into the details here. I’d probably rather not dig them up anyway!

One issue was that the band had 15 rehearsals for one 45 minute gig of blues. You read that right. From January to March, there were 15 rehearsals. I actually missed two due to illness, and four because of conflicts. I’ve never missed that many rehearsals with a band in my life! That shows you there were too many. Several went quite badly for various reasons.

However, the gig went fine. I feel I was even paid well for it. But there are too many issues with the band. There has been some discussion about having me back. However, after giving it some thought, I don’t think it will work for me. It’s too bad as I like the music and some of the people in the band, but the past shows me how it will go. As Lori and I like to say, “it goes to pattern, your honor.”

Tue, 2016 07 12 at 10:00 AM | Permalink for this entry

Gig Report

I didn’t need to get there that early.

This gig with the Dooley James Band was supposed to be the first Friday of June, but it was postponed to Friday the first of July because of the storms that had affected much of the area and many of the people who would be coming. Sadly, that meant higher temps and it was an outdoor gig. There was plenty of cover as it was in the woods and in a covered pavilion-like building. However, it was so hot when I got there that just unloading my gear yet not doing anything significantly strenuous got me soaking wet.

We were supposed to set up at 2, sound check at 4, eat, and the gig would start at 8:30. The last two items happened on time. Sound check never happened. Some were still setting up as well as recovering from the heat. Did I mention it was hot out?

Despite the conditions, I changed a bit for the gig and I’m glad I did. It wasn’t a perfect performance by the band, but for the most part it went well. I/we received many compliments after the show. Even though only a few people actually got up and danced, it seemed that many enjoyed it anyway.

I was doing really well until near the end of set two (of three). Then I started to feel the tired. There was nothing I could do but press on and watch for how I was sitting or playing to make sure I didn’t make things worse.

For some reason, it seemed like the third set had the most problems. There were a couple of songs that didn’t go well at all. One was partially my fault. I simply forgot about that song and didn’t really know it. I’m not sure what happened with the other song, but it did seem like maybe some band members were playing it in the original key while the rest were in the new key. I could be wrong about that. We did end with a bang as planned, though.

After the show during the drive back to our room, I stopped the car on the dark FM road, turned off the lights, and we looked at the stars for a few minutes. It’s amazing how many more stars there are visible out there.

Fri, 2016 07 08 at 1:38 PM | Permalink for this entry

And The Number One Sign You’re In a Rehearsal or Hobby Band Is….

Turns out, I came up with nine reasons in that list, and thought of one more the other day

Drum roll please… And the number one sign that you're in a rehearsal or hobby band is

  • When you say, "we're spending too much time rehearsing," someone replies, "I don't care, I just like to play music."

Tue, 2016 03 29 at 10:05 AM | Permalink for this entry

No Major Adjustments Below 500 Feet

Stay on target…

WAY back when I was in high school, I took an aeronautics course. The teacher said it was basically the same as flight school without the flying part. While I thought the whole course was interesting, the biggest thing that stuck with me all these years was that when you’re landing, as you get closer to the runway, you stop making major corrections to your flight. A friend recently described this by saying you make major changes at the beginning of the landing procedure, and you make smaller and smaller changes on the way to the final landing point, sort of like a pendulum making smaller and smaller swings as it comes to a stop.

Why did this stick with me and what does this have to do with music? In general, I realized that the same philosophy applies to many areas of life. When you’re working on something, I think if you make big changes just before you’re supposed to finish, you’re asking for trouble. It’s almost like starting over at the last minute. “I know we’re supposed to release this tomorrow, but I decided to use X instead and replaced all of Y with it!”

In music, I don’t think it’s wise to change the set list or how you play the songs the week of the show. Maybe you’ve realized you’ve been doing it differently than the record, or maybe you think doing it some other way is better, but you’ve been doing it that way for weeks. To change that now could be asking for trouble. If what you have been doing isn’t bad, don’t change it. Save it for the next show if it must be changed.

Similarly, when I was in college, I came up with a rationalization for not cramming. I decided that if I didn’t know the material by now, I won’t learn it “tonight.” Along those same lines, I think rehearsals the day before the show or worse, the day of, are a bad idea. Any problems probably won’t get fixed, and even worse, if the rehearsal goes badly, people’s confidence can get shaken and/or they’ll be drained spending a ton of time and energy trying to fix the problems at the rehearsal, making them less energetic for the show.

Happy flying!

Thu, 2016 03 17 at 10:00 AM | Permalink for this entry

How to Prep a Band for a Gig

It ain’t that hard, really.

  1. Hire good musicians and an interesting front person
  2. Pick the songs. Send them to everyone. If they’re originals, provide recordings and charts. For covers, make sure to send adequate info regarding which version. Don’t just say, “it’s on YouTube,” provide a link to the right version, dammit
  3. Give everyone a reasonable amount of time to learn the songs, then
  4. Rehearse once a week for a month to solidify
  5. Play the gig. Have fun
  6. Repeat as necessary

Mon, 2016 03 14 at 10:00 AM | Permalink for this entry

Wastin’ Time

Recently when I said I couldn’t make a rehearsal, I had a band member perhaps jokingly admonish me saying, “you have something better to do???”

Mind you, this is a band I have had problems with unproductive rehearsals. Later, I started thinking about it and remembered my last “square” job. The boss was a micromanager, and nothing I was working on would get approved until he got around to it. Since it was a small company and he was also the lead programmer, this led to a lot of downtime. Some might suggest that it was up to me to find something to do. Trust me, I did. But after a while I ran out of things to find and got burnt out trying to do things and having him eventually nix them or make me wait forever.

Anyway, the frustration that came from that situation became painful and one of the reasons I left. Yes, I was getting paid, but getting paid to do nothing was really annoying. If I had to do nothing, I would rather it be my nothing.

Coming back to these frustrating, unproductive rehearsals. do I have something better to do? I don’t know, but if I’m going to waste my time, I’d rather it be my choice of what I waste my time on, like writing blog posts such as this one.

Thu, 2016 03 10 at 10:00 AM | Permalink for this entry

Signs You’re in a Rehearsal or Hobby Band

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if that’s what you want to do

  • There aren’t any gigs booked. Or if there are, they don’t pay or pay enough.
  • Gigs don’t get booked because “we aren’t ready. We will gig when we are ready.”
  • There’s no set list and thus no one works on the material at home.
  • The set list or itinerary isn’t followed at rehearsal.
  • People don’t practice their parts at home and aren’t ready for rehearsal. (“Practice separately, rehearse together” - say it over and over)
  • People don’t show up on time for rehearsal or worse, cancel at the last minute leaving other band members there high and dry.
  • Rehearsals expand instead of contract. In other words, people want to have more rehearsals as the gig approaches instead of getting better and needing less. Or, they keep having rehearsals but that’s all the band ever does.
  • Replacing a member starts the whole process over. Instead of the new member learning the songs on their own and jumping in with maybe a couple of rehearsals (“Practice separately, rehearse together”), it’s like the whole band has to learn everything again.
  • Someone describes the band as “pro’s” [sic]. Could you imagine someone in another field (plumbing, dentistry) saying, “I’m a pro [plumber or dentist]”? Or, “I’m Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, and we’re a pro band with over 20 years of experience and we’re looking for a pro drummer with his own gear”?

Disclaimer: I don’t have anything against any type of band people want to do. My old band started out as a hobby band, never intending to play out. Some bands do want to play out a little, others more, and some hope to make a career of it or nearly so. As one friend of mine put it, “The beauty of music is that there are lanes for all types of musicians i.e. full-time, semi-pro, weekend warriors, hobbyists, etc. It’s really just a matter of finding the right lane.” Another friend replied, “Sometimes it’s difficult to find the right lane because what people say doesn’t necessarily match what they really want or do.” That’s the point of this post. I have had struggles “finding the right lane” for what I want to do as far as a matching (not marching) band. After discussing it with some musician friends, I came up with this list.

Tue, 2016 03 08 at 12:03 PM | Permalink for this entry

Cutting the Crap

Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!

Lately, I have found myself cutting things out of my life. Most of them were not bad, but I have realized that in order to get where I am trying to go, I need to focus. I think all my life I have said, “that would be cool” and did stuff or tried things. There is nothing wrong with that, but lately, things I would have considered before just do not interest me anymore. For instance, I was looking at an iOS programming book at a bookstore and I glazed over. I’ve done programming for years and often considered it when I thought about doing something other than music. This time, I just did not care.

Some non-musical work opportunities have come my way, but I realized I was not interested in doing them. While I would like that big paper rectangle with the numbers on it that comes at the end of the project, I just want to focus on music.

There are some other activities that I’m ending because I have lost interest, and I feel that they distract me from music.

We started studying Italian last year, but one of the reasons I am taking a break from it is because I want to focus my learning on music.

I have even ended piano lessons (at least for now) because I feel that I need to spend time implementing what I have learned over the years of lessons. There is still tons more for me to learn, but right now I just want to “catch up” to what I have learned.

I have seen and heard a few people lately talk about “the one thing.” Apparently it has to do with a line from City Slickers, which I have never seen. But the point is, to get good at doing something, the one thing you have to do is “the one thing.” I would love to play classical piano, and pop, and whatever, but if I am going to pick one style right now it is jazz piano (do not ask me why I picked the difficult one). In order to get good at jazz piano, I have to focus on jazz piano. That means not playing other stuff, not spending lots of time getting ready for an audition for a rock band, etc. So that is what I’ve been doing. It has not paid off yet, but it is still early days. I hope.

The other big thing I have been allowing myself is doing recording at home, along with songwriting. It is still behind the jazz piano thing, but it is something I definitely enjoy doing and want to spend more time doing.

Mon, 2015 08 31 at 10:28 AM | Permalink for this entry

My Logic Pro Tips Blog

You hardly keep this blog updated…

Yeah, I know. I haven’t done a good job writing posts for this blog. I think social media is a factor. Stupid Facebook. And Twitter. And Instagram. And…

I have started a blog for tips and tutorials for Logic Pro (X mostly, though some older versions get covered), MainStage, and even GarageBand. If you use any of those apps, I hope you check it out. The more visitors I get, the more likely it is that I’ll write new posts for it. Also, feedback and questions will help, too. I love exploring these apps and seeing what they can do.

Check it out at http://logicpro.tips - yes, that’s the correct URL. Neat, huh?

Tue, 2015 08 18 at 10:25 AM | Permalink for this entry

The Problem with Streaming Music

I gotta eat, y’know?

I like streaming music. I like it better than finding some homemade video on YouTube. As a musician, I’m often referred to YouTube but too often, there are a zillion cover versions by people and I need to hear the original (and perhaps a live version) by the original artist. Streaming sites let me find actual official releases. Usually.

But the problem for us artists is that streaming sites want to pay based on their revenue. Maybe that will end up paying us a boatload of cash, but I doubt it.

The way it works is they take all the money they make from ads and/or subscriptions, take their cut (usually around 30%), divide the rest by the total number of streams* played, and pay based on that. It seems fair on the surface, but so far, it isn’t. See some of the many articles musicians have posted that basically say, “my song got played a jillion times and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.”

I can’t think of a single industry where the price paid for the product is solely determined by the revenue of the distributor. That being said, I don’t know what the answer is. We can’t expect the steaming sites to pay more than they make, not for long anyway. Or can we?

I don’t currently have a lot of stake in this, but I think we as artists should stand up together and say, “I’m not allowing my music on streaming sites until the payment is proper.” But, I don’t know what that number should be. Should I get a buck for every hundred streams of my song? Or every ten? I don’t know a good answer to that one.

* One stream is a single song played once. A song played ten times is ten streams. Another way to look at it is that popular songs will get paid proportionally more.

Wed, 2015 06 24 at 5:07 PM | Permalink for this entry

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