Hurdy Gurdy for Beginners

From a TED talk by Caroline Phillips – ever wanted to know about the hurdy gurdy? What a beautiful instrument.

Nick Cave – There She Goes My Beautiful World

One of the things I love dearly about Radio Paradise is the constant exposure to music I would never have found under other circumstances.
A couple times I’ve heard tracks from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and sometimes they’ve hit pretty hard, but the one that got me today is the track “There She Goes My Beautiful World”. It came up on rotation on my laptop while coding, and I had to pause to listen… which naturally made me look around for the lyrics (it’s a long song and doesn’t suffer from the common “there’s really only 3 verses in this song, we’ll just yammer them over and over again” beat so prevalent in modern music.
I decided to do a little googling, and found the lyrics on songmeanings.net (a little heavy on the ads, but some remarkably good commentary from listeners). The song is about someone longing for their muse – their inspiration and their drive to share, express, and excel, coupled with release and need.
Interested? Video and lyrics after the cut… I recommend headphones. Cave is an expressive and intense presenter, though no one would call his vocals beautifully melodic. The arrangement on this track, with the backing singers, is wonderful…

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The man I look up to in music.

My hero. This is Vic Wooten, to my mind the best blues/funk/jazz/fusion/whatever electric bass player alive today. I’ve met him in real life, after a Bela Fleck concert in Somerville. He’s not a particularly tall man, quiet, small hands, but is magic on the bass.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dWb-aCWR8U]
The instrument he’s using is of the same configuration as my Fender J-Bass, but with far better pickups and body than mine (it’s actually a 1983 Fodera Monarch Deluxe), but really, he can sound this good on just about any joe blow four string bass. As Vic has been heard to say “The bass make no music… you do.”
And, in the process of writing this entry, I just found out I’m a mere 3 days older than him.

Gigs.

I’m sore. I hurt. Ow.
Last night the band played a 3 1/2 hour gig in Marlboro. I’m beginning to understand why a lot of musicians, particularly folks who haul their own gear, are in reasonable physical shape.
For my part, I just have my smallish amp, my guitar, and a parts / stuff bag (music, eq pedal, cables, water, etc), so I can pretty much just carry in things in one go. Such is not the case for my bandmates.
Drummer? My gosh. Someone has to come up with a cost effective way of setting up a drum kit at a gig. He had at least a pickup truck full of equipment. Stands, the drums themselves, cymbal cases etc etc. Had to be 300lbs of stuff.
Our keyboardist? 2 keyboards, stand, amp, speaker cabinet, and assorted hardware. Another 250lbs.
And you’d think guitar players would be on the lightweight side. Nope! 2-3 guitars each, pedal layouts, amps, and assorted hardware.
This is leaving aside the PA speakers (60lbs each), monitors (30lbs), amp + monitor amp + 24channel mixer (something ungodly).
Loadin and setup took about 2 hours, teardown and packup took about an hour. Which makes a single gig a good 7 hour affair, not including unpacking the vehicles at home and putting things away until the next event.
And on top of this, I’ve decided I need a bigger bass amp. My little Behringer is just not cutting it for gigs (30w Just Aint Enough). Several people said I was distorting last night (overdriving the amp), but if I backed off, I simply could not be heard. This is with a pre-amping EQ pedal. This of course will mean additional hardware and weight to bring to gigs.
We need a roadie.
(Sideline – in reality, we’re looking for a lead guitarist. Interested in playing lead on classic rock and blues tunes? Think early Clapton, SRV, CCR, Beatles and Stones.) If so, drop me a line.

Deluded Blues World Tour, 2006!

Deluded_Blues_20051210_0059.sized
Wake the kids, phone the neighbors! Break out the VW Minivan, it’s time to hit the road and support your local band!
Yep, Deluded Blues has a couple kickin gigs coming up in the next few months. That means you should romp on out and come hear us play! If you like going back to the days where there were still blues in rock, we’re talkin Clapton, CCR, and Stevie Ray Vaughn, then this is the place you want to be.
Our next show is September 30th at the All Star Bar and Grill in Marlboro. This is in the Best Western Royal Plaza just off Rt 20, and is a great venue. The food in the restaurant is good and the space is clean and comfortable. No cover fee, just come down and kick back and enjoy the show!
We start between 8:30 and 9, and will most likely play 3-3.5 hours.
(On a personal note – this is a place we’d lke to play a lot more, so the more folks showing up, the better, as it’ll assure us of further bookings 🙂
Hope to see folks there on Saturday!

Moonlight Sonata goes Jazz!

At one point this weekend I wandered through the lobby and past a room that just had a single baby grand piano in it. I had an urge to just go in and -play-. Just to work some rhythms out, quiet music for myself and if someone wanted to listen, that would be okay. I don’t have that skill on a piano, but I sure had a longing for it…
This morning I found on a video on YouTube of a Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata done in Jazz form. It ends abruptly at about 2 minutes, but talk about a fascinating arrangement of what is (in my opinion) one of the finest pieces of music ever written.
Of course it’s making me think about the lovely Roland electric piano sitting not 15′ away from me, and not on the work I need to do. Ah distraction.

New Toy!

Well, I think this means I’ve finally gone overboard. Ever since I’ve been playing ‘seriously’ with the band and actually going out and -gigging-, I’ve had to knuckle under and come to the realization that yes. I am a musician. In fact, I’m a bass player. I play a lovely Fender J-bass electric guitar I got on eBay 2 years ago, with hardshell case, for $190. I can’t complain, really. The guitar has been wonderful. I’m on my second amp with it (my original practice amp went missing after a weekend long retreat. Long story there). I’m happy with the Boehringer amp I have now, but there’s been one nagging problem.
I like folk music. Though much of my music collection is ‘classic’ rock with blues for the underpinnings, the stuff I really enjoy playing is folk acoustic, including older folk arrangements such as irish dance music. Though I’ve had a few occasions to try it, my big black electric bass just doesn’t meld into that scenario well, and its awfully hard to haul an 80lb amp out into the middle of a field or next to a campfire to play tunes.
I’ve looked at acoustic bass guitars for quite a while. The quality and price ranges all over the board. There’s a series that runs about $200 or so, but every review I’ve seen has been in the “Yeah, it’s a $200 bass acoustic. Sound is iffy, action is bleah, it’s a cheap acoustic bass. You get what you pay for.” I can’t bring myself to pay real money for one of these. There’s not a lot of demand for these instruments, so I don’t see them come across eBay or Craigslist very often.
Tonight I decided to stop into Guitar Center again to noodle on their acoustics. Dragging a recalcitrant Zach along with me, we wandered into their quiet ‘acoustic’ room, and there I saw something odd. A used decent quality acoustic bass right there on the stand, and marked at a reasonable price even. I took the instrument down and started playing on it. It had a good feel, good size, decent strings and action on it. It was an acoustic/electric – meaning it has pickups on the inside, and a small EQ and pre-amp built into the side. The cable patch is in the strap-mount on the bottom of the body.
But, was I ready to spend $300? That, was the real question. I checked in with Cat, and she said “Well, if you REALLY want it…”, which is always good to make me stop and think about things before impulse-buying. I knew however this was a good price for the guitar, and I wasn’t likely to get another opportunity like this for a while. It’s not like bass guitars are dropping in price like other technologies.
Finally I called up the salesdroid, and said “So, this Fender bass. Come with a gig bag?” “Nope, just what you see.” – he picked it up and noodled around – he had some chops on it, but I didn’t let that distract me. “Hmm, well, this is at the top of what I was thinking of spending, though I like it.” I sort of let it dangle there, and he got the hint. “Well, maybe I can get you a discount on a gig bag, lets go see.”
So we looked at gig bags. Now, acoustic basses are BIG. This was ‘shallow body’, but it was still the size of a normal ‘large’ guitar. Plus, bass guitars have long necks. None of hte ‘soft’ gig bags would work. He said something like “Let me check in the back. If we have one, I can let you have it for half price.” “Well, lets look at it.” Gig bags were listed right there for $40. $20? $320 for guitar and soft gigbag? Eh, I’m tempted, but still not satisfied.
After 10 minutes of waiting for him to reappear, I almost gave up. I started to write a note with my name and phone number, when he reappeared. “Couldn’t find it, but we found a hardshell case that should fit it. How bout that? They’re only $120.” “Umm.” “It’s right around the corner, lemme get it, you can check it out.” “Uh, okay.”
The case is unremarkable, but it fit the guitar, with a little wiggle room. It was a standard acoustic ‘cardboard-y’ case, with padding and stowage inside. It was definately not worth $120. “I’ll let you have it for $50.” Okay, this is sounding better. “Tell you what. Throw in an el cheapo nylon guitar strap, and we’ll call it a deal.” He turned around, pulled one off the rack (standard black with ties for the guitar head), tossed it in, and we were all set.
So, I got an awesome condition Fender BG29 Acoustic/Electric bass guitar, strap, and hard case for $350. I consider it a win all around. Naturally, when I got home, I started looking around the net for prices on these guitars. They seem to go for between $480 and $700 new, without cases, so I think I’ve done okay. The reviews I’m seeing are positive, noting things like a non-full length neck, and decent pricing. I feel fairly vindicated in the price I paid for it, and what I’m going to be using it for.
I spent a bit playing on it tonight, and I’m happy with the sound and feel. I’ll let ya’ll know how things go this weekend at NEFFA. Next I hae to learn how to accompany irish folk music! I’ll be bringing it to band practice tomorrow night to get more comfortable with it (and to test out the internal pickups). Wheee!

What sort of music do you like to hang out and sing?

We’re doing more and more ‘music hangouts’ hereabouts, and I’m looking for suggestions on what sorts of music we should be adding to our ‘songbook’. The standard fare are entries from Rise up Singing, but I’m looking to widen out the offerings.
We’ve added things like Allman Brothers – “Melissa” and the like, plus some Chicago, a lot of CSN&Y, Indigo Girls, things of that nature. If you were having a bunch of folks over, and wanted to play music together, with a bent toward classic rock and folk tunes, what would you add to the list?
I’ve added a list of the tabs I’ve already collected behind the cut.
The best type of songs are ones that play well on acoustic guitar, bass, and a hand drum. Good choral vocals are a win. Occasionally we have more involved musicians playing, so woodwinds or other instruments are often added, but it’s generally a few 6 and 12 string guitars, my bass, and the singers.

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Deluded Blues gig this Friday

This friday (12/9/2005), my band, Deluded Blues will be playing at the Cottage Street Pub (Map ) in Franklin, MA between 9pm and midnight-ish. Folks are welcome to come in, grab a table and listen in and/or say hi. It’s a very informal setup, and the pub itself is not what you would call a high society venue, so be prepared. I do guarantee the music will be good and plentiful!
Hope to see some folks there!