Unofficial View From The Stage and A Video.

When you’re a performer, you’ll often interact with large numbers of people. Seeing as they are people, it’s pretty safe to assume that they carry the plague.

I’m not sure if I have the plague or cancer. Either way, I’m dying at a slightly more rapid pace than usual. Everyone keeps telling me that I’ll get better, but I’m pretty sure they’re just trying to cheer me up.

I love getting to spend time with the people, but they’re disease carriers. Sometimes, you get strange women (not necessarily attractive) who will want to hug and kiss you. They don’t know my name, or anything. I’m in a cover band. They’re just drunk. It’s probably one in a series of regrettable choices they’re going to make that evening!

In ye olden days, it was a pretty good way to get nookie. However, I’m not in a position to take advantage of that job perk. Either way, I digress and, seeing as I’m nearing the end of my life, I don’t want to waste time on trivialities! (I suspect nobody is gonna believe that trivialities bit.)

Someone, probably the drummer, has infected me with their plague.

So, there’s a view from the stage:

Humans are just the tool things like typhoid use to survive. We humans are covered in all manner of disgusting things. You will catch the plague.

I’m not even sharing this article, like I didn’t yesterday. Don’t care. Got the plague. Nobody even offered to fill in for me. Nobody. So, I’ll do it myself!

Alright, I have a video for you.

I’ve realized my attempt to turn ‘pipe organ’ into a scientific unit of measurement is not going to be effective. There’s just too many damned variations in pipe organs!

(Also, I found a pipe organ in Massachusetts! I don’t have time to visit them yet, but I’m gonna email ’em and ask if they’ll let me play their pipe organ – with supervision, of course.)

I don’t know how to play a pipe organ. Nope. Don’t care, either. I’m pretty sure playing a pipe organ, skilled or not, is just about the most awesome thing you can do. Pipe organs players have more in common with a conductor than they do a pianist.

In my effort to find more information about pipe organ air movement quantities, I found some pretty sweet pipe organs! Some of ’em have pedals that you can stomp on – and they mechanically ring bells, bang drums, and all sorts of awesome shit.

HOLY BALLS! I previously did not know about the bells! I’m pretty sure you can understand my excitement! If you can’t understand my excitement, you’re on the wrong site.

And, yeah… I have no idea how to play a pipe organ – nor do I care. I don’t even think my ineptitude will diminish the sheer joy of playing a pipe organ. An instrument of that magnitude has no choice but to be awesome.

Man, my feet would be flying like horses and my fingers would rip out somber notes that reverberated through the audience I’ll probably have had to chain into the building. I’m pretty sure at least one of us in that group of people is gonna be having the best day ever. Pretty sure…

Alright, enough nonsense. I have the damned plague and I’m going back to my couch and tablet. If you want me, you know where to find me. If I don’t answer, I’m dead.

Here’s the damned video. It’s pretty awesome!

Now, the narrator is a little stupid – but it’s not their fault. They don’t realize that they’re listening to a very complex bitchin’ solo!

Seriously… Turn your volume up and listen carefully! They’re bitchin’ solos!

Damned right – and, unless I die of the plague, until next time…

Play quietly and somewhere else.

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TheBuddha Approves of Taking a Day Off!

I’m fucking exhausted, not feeling terribly well, and can’t sleep.

I’m pretty sure someone has infected me with the cancer. I’m seldom sick, so it must be cancer!

As such, I’m taking the day off. I’m actually around and not sleeping. I’m just tucked into the couch. I could take the laptop, but I’m just gonna use the tablet.

I don’t like anyone enough to write an article on a tablet. I don’t even like me that much! I don’t have a ‘Holy Shit’ article. I should write one. I had one, but holy shit happens.

Last night was good. I’m fucking exhausted. Everyone else was, too. I’ve pretty much been mostly awake by myself. Everyone here has meandered off to do quiet things or nap.

I wrote you a ‘View from the Stage.’ I did it while I was waiting. It was horrible and I’m not gonna be able to salvage it. So, I’m not gonna do any more.

If you’ve been diligently practicing – don’t forget to sometimes allow yourself a day off – and sometimes even force yourself to do so. Until next time…

(If you’re going to play us a song, do it quietly. Thanks!)

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Just a sort of FAQ thing today.

I’ve done these before. I get a lot of the same types of questions.

Sometimes, these are questions of fact and many are actually questions about opinions. “What do you think of …”

Because of some time constraints, I’m going to try to answer just one of ’em. It’s a pretty long answer. I’m hoping I don’t make it too long.

A common question is something like, “What is the best guitar?”

I also get variations such as, “What guitars do you prefer?” (People think they’re being clever with that one!)

And, that’s what I’m gonna answer. Because I get asked with so many variations, it might be a longer answer than I think it’ll be. I never actually know how long these will be when I start them.
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28. 28th guitarists better than Hendrix!

Last week, I sorta had a brief vacation – where Thursday was filled with news about Betts and I didn’t even have to write a real article. That was nice.

Yesterday, Nadeshda did it for me! Sweet!

By now, you know the drill. Each week, I name a guitarist better than Hendrix. Why? Blame Rolling Stone magazine. It’s their fault.

“Best Guitarist” should be a quantifiable term, as much as is possible. It should be objective, as much as is possible. Thus, it is a technical qualification and words such as “like” simply don’t belong as a metric.

And, again, I don’t dislike Hendrix. My liking him has nothing to do with the list. He just wasn’t a very good technical guitarist – as I’ve shown ya 28 times already! Sheesh…

This week, I’ve done things just a little bit different.

I didn’t initially want to include this guitarist on this list. I like them – and I’m worried that it may cloud my judgement. But, I think I can justify their inclusion.

Do keep in mind that this list has been (at least mentally) compiled over many years. This means that, for many years, I’ve been saying something like, “No, this one doesn’t really belong on the list.”

I not only think I was wrong, I think I was wrong – for years. Wanna see?
Continue reading “28. 28th guitarists better than Hendrix!”

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Quirky things Singers do?

So this weekend I had a show and noticed that most of the drinks had ice in them as I sipped away at it, I felt my throat tighten up. Silly me, I had just warmed up my voice and then cooled it down within a few minutes sipping a nice refreshing cool drink. Blegh, but thankfully I spotted some hot tea and a nice cup of tea saved the day!

I do enjoy teas of many kinds but please note that Green Tea isn’t that good for singing. Don’t get me wrong, I love Green Tea but it has a drying effect that reduces the lubrication around your vocal folds. It can make you more susceptible to developing things like a sore throat or even a vocal node. 

Drinking Green Tea is just fine on the day when you are NOT singing though.

As I was driving home earlier today I started thinking about this and generally about singers and what they do or don’t do before singing. I often achieve some of it but rarely all. Just knowing about them helps me to understand why my voice is sounding a certain way and what can I do better next time.

I haven’t had much time this week but I thought you may enjoy looking at some of these quirky habits with me even though I cannot cover all of it in one article the obvious point being;

Certain things you do, or don’t do, will hinder OR help the tone of your voice.

I digress but one of my quirky habits, highlighted in a conversation with the thebuddha the other day was that I collect scarves. Not a silly amount of them, I don’t think I ever have more then 10, but I wear them to protect my voice from cold drafts and they keep my vocal chords warm and ready.

Obviously, it’s best for colder weather but a silky-soft scarf that can you can tuck into your bag is ideal in a high AC environment, before a gig and after your warm-up. Now please, if it doesn’t suit your disposition or “aesthetics” don’t go buying a silk scarf just because I said so, okay?

YOU need to find your own groove and not follow everything you read on the internet, just know your voice, know what effects it and follow the best route for you.

On that note, here are some points to consider and get you thinking about what could help you get a better result.

  1. STEAM IT UP ! Yes, get a steamer to pass warm steam over the vocal chords before and even after a gig as it produces a healing effect. If your throat feels scratchy and sounds groggy, get it warm.
  2. SHUT UP ! When you are performing a lot, you need to make time to be quiet before and after the show and NEVER yell or scream outside your performance, if you can help it.

  3. AVOID CERTAIN DRINKS: Mucous producing foods such as dairy, stimulants such as caffeine and spicy foods, soft drinks, refined sugars, chocolate and iced drinks all effect the sound of your voice. LOVE THE TONE, skip the food and drinks that irritate your vocal folds.

HOLD ON! Sometimes these things just cannot be helped especially if you are like me and end up running around super busy and thirsty or hungry and you grab what you can, when you can.

This brings me nicely to point number four…

  1. DON’T WORRY: Just relax breath in deeply through your nose to your toes. Slowly exhale for as long as possible through your mouth. It’s going to be okay! Relaxing and knowing your voice will help you to naturally figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. Now DON’T SKIP the warm up and go sing your heart out !

My next point will offer a counter complimentary melody to theBuddha who has graciously provided me with a space here to blabber away about something I love.

Obviously he is going to  tell you to “Shut up and play him a song”! so when you are done with that…

  1. SHUT UP AND SING ME A SONG !

Sorry I missed my early segment of writing today but I really enjoyed writing it now and I hope you enjoyed reading it too.

If in doubt just read Point Number Five again and have a holler of a day!

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Lessons about Performing #blahblahblah: Set lists!

‘Snot that I’ve really stopped my lessons for performing musicians so much as I’ve just kinda mashed ’em into a pile of gibberish and stopped numbering them or even organizing them into a remotely usable fashion!

You’re welcome!

Today’s article really belongs under that heading and I’ve been meaning to write this for quite a while.

Yup… I’ve mulled this over countless times.

Unfortunately, one word for you. Weed.

Well, two words. Weed and time management. I told someone that I’d been planning on writing this one and that I’d try to get to it. So, today’s that day. ‘Snot gonna be good, coherent, or even useful – but it might be fun!

Yup. I’m pretty sure that’s all the intro this needs!
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Keep your equipment clean, seriously…

Yesterday, I told you about Paul. That was fun.

Today, I will tell you about Mike. Mike might be more likely to set your house on fire than Paul. He’s pretty awesome.

Mike is not his real name, but I’m using the story with permission.

On Saturday, I had people visit and one of them was Mike. I think Mike can be best summed up as being in his late 40s and still playing small bar gigs. Mike is very much the stereotypical small bar guitar player. I’m pretty sure that Mike said this when I first met him. “My name is Mike, and I live off the women I meet.” Mike’s pretty honest.

This might sound like a terrible job, but Mike doesn’t actually even have to be a very good guitar player. Mike doesn’t have to give two shits about his wardrobe. I am not sure if Mike even pays for the copious illicit substances he imbibes. If he does, I don’t know how. Mike has no money.

Mike isn’t in it for the money. No, Mike is in it for the lifestyle – which is more accurately stated that Mike probably isn’t able to be gainfully employed in an alternative industry. I like Mike, but I’m pretty sure he’d get fired on the first day as a fry cook.

Mike does have to worry about reliable transportation and reliable/affordable equipment. His transportation and equipment are about as reliable as a meth addict.

If Mike has ever had a new guitar, he probably stole it. Or conned a girlfriend into buying it for him. Seriously… If someone says they play guitar, they’re a walking example of a series of bad life choices.

I don’t think Mike actually has a driver’s license. I’ve seen his name in the paper! It distinctly tells me that they arrested him for exactly that reason. Mike drives – everywhere. I have ridden with Mike. It’s like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Mike is distinctly not allowed to drive anything I own. Mike is never even a little sober. He’s a fucking mess!

Which is to say, Mike is one of my favorite people! I fucking love hanging out with Mike. There’s pretty much no point in time when Mike is doing something that isn’t interesting.

Mike brings me treasures – often hoping that I’ll buy them.

On Saturday, Mike brought me a treasure – except he was very confident that he didn’t want to sell it. (That’s a good thing.)

Mike brought me a 1991 Fender Strat. He loves Strats.

When he finally conned me into letting him bring it into the house, my first words were. “Holy shit, Mike. That’s fucking disgusting.”

It’s 27 years old. It’s probably seen zero maintenance and I’m pretty sure it’s never been cleaned. None cleaning. None.

‘Snot even the least bit unusual. It’s definitely not even the least bit unusual for Mike. Mike knows they’re disgusting. He calls it patina. That’s probably an old French word that means ‘too lazy to clean my shit.’

‘Snot like Mike’s going to keep this guitar. No, this guitar will last him maybe a year – and he’ll be on to his next treasure. This isn’t a collector piece. I’ll give him $200 for it. $250, if he fucking cleans it.

It’s in terrible shape. He loves it. Mike doesn’t care one bit about things like intonation. Mike does not make faithful replications. Mike does make (some of) his own music. He once made me feel so bad I bought one of his CDs!

Mike gave up selling CDs pretty quickly. He now informs me that my CD is a collector’s item. He even signed it. Thank you, Mike. It’s a treasure!

Mike can’t actually sell merchandise. Mike doesn’t have his shit together well enough to do that. He’s tried – and it always gets stolen or given away.

He might actually have more stories than I have. Ain’t no way Mike is ever gonna write them down. I’d consider writing Mike’s story, but I’d be really hard pressed to fool people into thinking Mike plays guitar better than Hendrix.

Now that I think about it, I don’t think Mike is in it for the music. That might actually be a brilliant idea. I think he just likes the attention and lifestyle – which includes vast amounts of time spent inebriated and picking up ladies from the bar. He does have a fascination with the equipment used, but that’s probably developed from constantly needing to replace and repair it.

Huh… I’d ask Mike if he even likes music, but I’m pretty sure he’s sleeping and I doubt it’s in his own bed. I assume he has a bed, but I’ve never seen it. I’m not sure that’s fair. Mike has slept at my house and seen my beds. Then again, I’m never sleeping at Mike’s house – ever.

Either way, I’ve touched on some of these subjects before, but I feel like writing about ’em today and, well… ‘Snot like you can fire me…
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Today, I shall introduce you to Paul.

I could probably start a ‘Reader’s Gear’ category, with all the questions I get ’bout things people have.

This probably doesn’t make sense to most normal people, but I’ve explained it before. We’re hoarders, possibly in need of an intervention. Try as we might, we just keep amassing stuff.

I’ve had my hands on a lot of guitar related stuff, so I often know something about it. If not, I ain’t scared. I’ll go find someone who does.

This particular stuff is something @mustard_of_puppets appeared with and said he’d acquired at a garage (or lawn) sale – at like $25. That’s probably Canadian dollars, so like $5.45 USD!

This particular lump of stuff is a guitar amplifier – if you can call it that. It does, technically, amplify a guitar. I’m going to tell you about his new amp.
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TheBuddha Approves #4: The Concise History of the Classical Guitar

So…

I have fuck-all for time today. I am not complaining. I have had a lovely morning that involved a fairly long ride on the motorcycle and the wonderful company of the eldest hoodlum.

Today is her day, ’cause it marks the date of her birth. As such, she not only wanted to go out for brunch, she wanted attention. The bike is pretty fancy and gets quite a bit of attention and commentary from people who know anything about bikes and she really likes to ride.

Don’t worry! I go reasonably slow, make her wear all the protective gear – including chaps, and keep both tires planted reasonably firmly on the pavement! There are twisty mountain roads, so we maybe go a little fast – but I keep it well under the triple digit marker. I can risk my life, but I can not recklessly risk her life.

I’d hoped to get her to write today’s article. I’d hoped that she’d write an article entitled, “Why I want to play guitar.” She pointed out that today is her birthday and told me that she’d be doing nothing of the sort. There went that idea.

I had nothing prepared for today. I have limited time this afternoon. I tried bribing her to get her to write the article. She was having none of it. I even tried asking the missus. She was not even a little helpful. I even tried asking the dog. He seemed willing, but he doesn’t really have fingers – or play any instruments.

I’m sure you can see why this is a problem. It’s hard to find good help these days!

Fortunately, we have a solution! That’s what the whole “TheBuddha Approved” is meant to take care of! Without further ado…
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The difference between a classical and a flamenco guitar.

This is an older piece that I’ve decided to edit up and post here on the blog, as it’s never been seen here before. I figure I’ll throw it in the queue and use it when it’s needed.

If you’re seeing this – it means I’ve otherwise spent my time. It also means I need a new spare article!

Someone was mentioning that they liked flamenco and another person had mentioned wanting to hear some too. Thus, I figured I’d sit down and work on that. It’s really, really hard to change styles of music rapidly. I hadn’t been playing much flamenco lately – as in not in years.

I dug out my favorite flamenco guitar last night and threw new strings on it. Only, today, I realized that the action is much too high and the intonation is out. Rather than adjust the truss rod myself, I’m going to send it out to have it done. Can I do it myself? Absolutely. However, he can do it much faster and much better than I can. I’ve already called, I’m going to bring it down this weekend and I’ll have it back in just a few days.

So, I sat here and practiced a bit on a classical guitar and I’m really, really not happy with the tone.

But, Buddha, aren’t they all the same? The headstock looks the same, they’re both strung with nylon, and they’re both acoustic and made of wood!

Alas, no… Can I play flamenco on a classical? Yeah, pretty much. It doesn’t sound right and, by now, you’ve probably noticed that I aim for perfection in my playing. My art is faithful reproduction and I do try to be as faithful as is humanly possible.

So, what’s the difference?
Continue reading “The difference between a classical and a flamenco guitar.”

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