Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Another great night at The Nag's.

Hayley from the band (with Yuffi) and T.J (Tim) Lee recorded some percussion.
In musical terms the day started quite early for some of the muso’s involved that evening as our special guest and support act for the evening, T.J. Lee ,having just released his album, Blossom, has already started recording his next album. He was to be found at BYs central with Hayley from the band laying down some rhythm tracks.
The night, as always at The Nag’s in Crewe, was a great night with music-loving regulars and people who came especially to see us giving us a real party. We are very much a band who like to pick and choose where we play, rather than do anything and everything we’re offered and this is the place we want in Crewe; a specific music-pub with musical events several times a week that looks after musicians and the music-loving regulars, not a cover-only karaoke-rock type of place. Super-intimate, great atmosphere and now even better looking and sounding band room, just great. Thanks to all who came along and Jacqui from the venue.

Gig highlight - stage invasion by Bumble, the Westie :)
Thanks to Helen Sladen for the photo.
An action-shot by Lorraine Cole Azmeh, showing T.J joining us on stage.

Indeed. Oh there's my twitter name btw, and the band's :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Recording day 2. Solo album with special guests Hayley Strangelove & Paul Senior.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014.

Day 2 at Orchard started in a similar way in that it was a do a couple of takes, come back round for a listen, repeat.. sort of a day up until my next lot of special-guest-heroes of the hour arrived.

Between them, the supreme vocal talents of Hayley Strangelove and Paul Senior have got a full rainbow of musical colours covered. They are both blessed with the sort of soulful, gritty, articulate singing voices that most singers would happily kill for. Hayley's vocal range is also so broad as to take in anything and everything from low and smokey, sensual and meek, to the kind of madcap playful soaring where only Kate Bush has been before. When I say they are blessed, that's not to say it's just down to luck. I know Hayley works very hard on her singing, and I'm sure Paul does too,  practicing and pushing herself all the time, as all musicians should (it's never just luck or talent alone but hard work too).

Least to say, they did an absolutely incredible job on the backing vocals for a few tracks, just magic!

Once again thank you so much guys!
L-R Hayley & Paul of Baxter fame, and producer/percussionist Dan.

An on-going hero of all the hours in the studio is of course Dan, but I can hardly call him a special guest as he's doing all the recording as we go along. But he got a chance to really go to work on some percussion today too, brilliant!

Hayley and Paul work together regularly as the musical duo Baxter, look them up HERE.

Paul is also the lead singer of the acclaimed rock band Son of Shinobi, Look them up HERE.

Quirky problem of the day; Not remembering words to songs I know well but am lost without playing the guitar, but getting a song I finished writing the night before recording right first time (and spontaneously "BrapappaBapapaBapp"ing during the song, hence the working title!)

It's all starting to sound fantastic now. Next session; Guitar bits. Very excited!
Dan's percussion kit, as played on a number of tracks.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Recording Day 1. Solo album, working-title "BrrapapaBappapaBap!" with special guest, T.J.Lee.

Lovely surroundings at Orchard

The intended final title of this recording is something which is in my head and will be revealed nearer to the release date. However "BrrapapaBappapaBap!" will do for now, for reasons you will see (or rather hear) when you hear or buy the album!

Tuesday April 8th, 2014

Day 1 at Orchard started off as mainly being about laying down the bare bones of the songs I want to put on this project and this was all going ahead steadily when my first special guest arrived, mid afternoon. This was friend of mine and super-talented singer-songwriter-guitarist T.J. Lee AKA Tim Lee
Tim in the live-room, Dan at the desk,
Radley on the deck!
Tim only had a few hours with us so we had to prioritise our time to make the most of him. Now among other things Tim has a lot of experience of recording, as readers of a previous post will know (by the way, the results of that session will eventually be out there in the public domain soon!). Tim was then able to take a lead in making some decisions and suggestions as to what he might try out on different tracks and so on. 
T.J. Lee on the Bass while Radders takes it easy!
I'm really thrilled he was able to come along, he played both acoustic, semi-acoustic and bass guitars on various tracks and not only came in with some sound ideas (excuse the pun), well crafted and professionally executed, but more importantly, he was feeling the music and was adding to the tracks with emotion and vivacity, which ultimately is really what it was all about. In fact he was bouncing around the live-room while playing bass at times! 

Tim's guitar intertwining with my initial guitar take, combined with Dan's drumming on a track which I think will be the first track on the recording had now developed much more "rolling" feel to it than it initially had, and I like it a lot!

He did an incredible job, he came in having never heard the songs he played on before, worked out the basic chords and structures and just went for itTop man! Thank you Tim!

Yet more special guests appeared on day 2, more about that in the next post :)

Check out T.J. Lee's supperb album Blossom at http://tjlee.bigcartel.com/product/blossom-t-j-lee-and-the-special-guests

The local area are keeping all this excitement to themselves!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Recording preparation 3. Scribble scribble, beep beep, zip zip, beep.

Plus this needs a haircut.

Scribble scribble; Writing out all the lyrics to the songs I will/might record so that a) producer Dan can follow where in the song we are and b) to avoid any potentially deeply embarrassing halts in recording due to brain fade.

Zip zip; Pack everything you might want to use equipment wise, plus 2 days worth of pot noodles.

All the beeps; Keep practicing until your days & nights, head, body & soul are full of the darned things (see previous posts).
Just in case..

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Recording preparation 2. BEEP Boop Boop Boop...

A screenshot of the click-track app I'm using.
a) Re-string all the guitars I'm using, I find this a complete chore, done before every serious gig and for recording. But wow the fresh strings sound so great.

b) Practice playing the songs to a click track. As far as I'm concerned this has two main uses at this stage of things, one is to work out the perfect tempo for each song I'm going to play. Live is one thing,  songs can be played faster or slower depending on the 'feel' in the room and the band, but a recording is something I will have to live with as a permanent representation of that song out in the public domain so in that version, I want it to be right for that version. Also, as producer Dan has advised, if I play exactly to tempo, he can make sure any reverb's, oscillations, or other types of cyclical doodars that I don't understand he puts into the sound will fit exactly too and sound better in the final track.

In the age of smart-phones getting hold of a metronome to give you a click-track is easier than ever. No longer would you have to go hawking around music shops to look for one (although those old wooden swingy ones are lovely) nor would you need to buy recording software, there's just loads of free metronome apps to choose from.

c). Practice, practice, practice with my headphones on and the beeps filling my head! The trick is being really used to it, playing perfectly in time, while not allowing the "beeps" to detract from your own percussive effects you make on the guitar while still playing emotionally - which is the most important thing of all!
Traditional metronome (clip-art image).

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Recording preparation 1. Meet the producer.

I already know the producer for my soon-to-be-started solo record, one Mr Dan Logan, illustrious sound engineer, musician and producer of the great and the good at Orchard Studios. It is Dan who mixed and co-produced All these things right now by The Blue Yellows and also once made a fairly tipsy appearance with us on stage, tambourine in hand, at a Christmas show we did. 
Dan is a multi-instrumentalist but perhaps best known as a talented and really interesting, distinctive percussionist. I'm hoping he'll be playing at some of my solo gigs this summer too (at which point I'll have to stop calling them "solo" gigs I guess).

So, I know Dan well anyway but a meeting was required to go over the plan, so much as there was one, Dan's suggestions as to what are realistic ways to use our time and resources in the studio in the most optimal way, artistically. 

This of course involved real ale, and Radley.
Dan, the-man-with-the-plan's Pooch Radley joined us.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A Tour De Force!

The audience seemed to love the show, here are some of them in the interval enjoying a hot drink or cold beer.
Like most or more likely all independent musician's, I've had my fair share of promoters, organisers and venues who treat the musician or band as a cheap (or even free) way to make money, perhaps through beer sales, without giving much time or effort over to trying to make make a success of the night, leaving that side of things entirely to the musician's involved. I'm delighted to say that this event was event was the polar opposite of any of that. Mike Willacy who runs The Cycle Junction bike shop near Sandbach is clearly as nuts about music as he is about bikes. An enthusiasm which clearly had an impact on the success of this sell-out event.

The 2012 live music act means that small venues, or would-be venues, are now able to host live music events without too much bother. (The M.U. have some fab advice and downloadable kit HERE for those who run cafes, pubs, village halls or any other potential venue that could host a live-music show). Now, I have read some criticism of the act, including the view that this will encourage more pubs to have bands on in any particular area meaning that the potential available audience for live music in that area would be more dispersed, making things worse for musicians, venues and punters (in terms of atmosphere in the latter case). I would hope though that the act will mean more potential venues will consider it. It was certainly a huge success in this case, and honestly the best gig I have ever done in a bike shop ;)

In this case it was the stunning vocal talent of Hayley Strangelove who was in a more supportive role on this occasion, and I will return the favour on the evening of July 31st when I support both Hayley and Paul Senior in the guise of Baxter

For the full run-down of ace talents appearing at these shop-sessions,have a look over HERE

Thanks to Mike & his team for the videos below. Now, I must dust off my Pinarello!

Other blogs about this event;

Read The Cycle Junction's own blog HERE.
Read Grateful Fred's blog HERE.

Hayley and Paul, 'back-stage' and back soon as "Baxter".