DG and I found ourselves sitting with a couple guitars on an average-sized couch in Coffrin Lounge at Middlebury College. We were there to play three songs for the inaugural episode of The Tiny Couch Sessions (on it’s way to you soonish?). To hear it, go HERE. To see it, just look below.
Bardela played the Rusty Nail Stage at Tres Amigos in Stowe. In spite of the fact that the crowd was small (apparently Friday nights of holiday weekends in ski towns are spent checking in to your hotel and then hitting the hay to be rested for the next day) it was a great night. It was universally one of the most positive experiences I’ve had as a gigging musician. The entire staff was friendly and supportive, the green room was unbelieveable, the food great, my rig was firing on all cylinders, and the sound guy paid attention. Worth every minute of the slow, snow-hampered drive to get there.
My general rule of thumb at NAMM when I see something I covet is to ask myself, “Do I already own something that does what this does (if I read the manual)?” MOST of the time, this serves me well. I did see something I really want/need.
Although they didn’t have an official presence at NAMM the Stick was still represented (I met a bunch of Stick players – some of the best and brightest). In conjunction with all the other festivities, there was an evening of Stick music presented at a nearby watering hole. Emmett was there and playing a Railboard, the next evolutionary step for the Stick. Railboards are made out of hard-anodized or metal plasma coated aluminum. This is really appealing to me since I live in a climatologically-volitile area of the country (in other words, the weather here sucks for a good chunk of the year) and wood instruments are vulnerable to these conditions. Being made out of metal, the Railboard would be immune to the barometric changes we have to deal with ’round here.
At the gig, I made another important discovery about the Railboad that amplified it’s appeal. If you are playing a gig with multi-colored lights, you get an added bonus to the visual impact of the Railboard, thanks to it’s reflective fretboard. Pretty awesome.
Well, It’s that time of year. Time for the pilgrimage to Annaheim for the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) show. Here are the highlights:
My friend Juanito Pascual was here doing his thing in the Cordoba/Guild room. So nice to hear him play whilst not sweating over the sound.
My Guitar Circle/touring buddy Brad Hogg was also in the Cordoba/Guild room. That was a pleasant surprise.
Talked about frequency of Stick string changes with this guy. Tony something. I hear he’s played on a couple records.
One of the few instruments I was drooling over. No idea what it sounds like but look at it!
My “Nicko moment”* – Running into Dug Pinnick at the Tech 21 booth. He said, “Get this man a bass” and directed me over to test drive his new signature pedal (which is awesome). There is nothing like playing a Dug Pinnick bass through a Dug Pinnick pedal while standing next to Dug Pinnick to remind you that you will never be Dug Pinnick.
And the big highlight – meeting Emmett Chapman. It’s a pretty special and rare occasion for a musicain to meet the person who invented the instrument they play. I thanked him profusely and tried not to fawn or gush. I think I walked away with my dignity intact.
* A “Nicko Moment” is when I meet a person of a certain notoriety/fame who has had an influence and impact on my life and I lose restraint over my fanboy tendencies. Named after the occasion of meeting Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain last year.
Dave and I did a set at Crossroads tonight, opening for Staygold and the Ponyboys (a.k.a. our friends Ben and Bjorn). Second night in a row I’ve started off confident and then consistently fucked things up (mostly musical micro-aggressions conflated by monitoring struggles – all of my own doing). Still, playing with Dave is always fun, at least for me. Not making assumptions about the audience. The highlight was actually the two songs we did as a quartet (as Texas Headphones) between our two sets; Wayfaring Stranger and Willie Nelson’s Nightlife. I think we may need to explore the potential of this group. The other highlight for me was getting a few Super Ego + (the stompbox) ideas from Ben.
Had an amazingly fun time recording an in-studio performance with Bardela for the Burlington Music segment of Tim Lewis’s WBKM radio show. Cranked out 4 songs and some banter between. Tim is a great champion for local music (and has really similar tastes to mine – example: he plays at least one Fish song each week and we kept referencing the Genesis track (well, album side) Supper’s Ready. Things went pretty smoothly, tho’ fumbly-fingers, yours truly did drop the ball a couple times but recovered quickly if not gracefully. Just have to remember – make sure you can hear your instrument at all times and DO A VOCAL WARM-UP!
The session was done at Robot Dog studio, and it was a blast. Everybody was in a good mood, and a huge part of that is attributable to Tim’s supportive environment and (engineer/owner/mastermind) Ryan’s demeanor and efficiency. Robot the dog was also helpful in keeping the vibe relaxed. I think he’s my spirit animal.
Started mixing the first couple of songs for Dark and Getting Darker, the forthcoming Radio Underground album. I am hoping we will be able to release a tune or two as a digital pre-sale incentive. More on that plan as it formulates.
Bennett demonstrates how the hat is the most important accessory for mixing sessions.
So, as the year winds down, gigs get more sparse ’round here (“here” being the greater Burlington/Winooski area) allowing for some housekeeping and re-organizing. In the process I unearthed (or whatever the digital version of that is) the mix-downs of the abandoned “Marty” project (Mark + Arty = Marty).
About 12 years ago as the John Tower Group was slowly dissolving Arty booked some studio time to track some of the songs he’d been writing and he asked if I wanted to be involved. After about 4 seconds of consideration I said yes, but offered to play guitar as I had been more focused on that instrument at the time. So we assembled one our favorite rhythm sections, Mike Scott on bass and Zack LaVigne on drums and invited Mike Colbourn along to throw down an additional guitar solo or two. We worked intermittently throughout the Summer and Fall at Egan Media in Colchester, one of the most state of the art recording studios in Vermont that isn’t built into an Anastasio outbuilding, with Aaron Flinn and Rob O’Dea engineering. The session went pretty smoothly and I even got to stretch out on piano and resonator on a track or two. Got some mixes we were happy with and then…
… nothing. For 12 years.
So, upon revisiting the completed mixes we discovered we were really happy with them. I was startled to discover I really liked a lot of my playing on them. They also captured some songs in their infancy that had since evolved and become regulars in the Radio Underground cannon. After pondering it, we decided to release the album as a sort of archival release/fundraiser for the Radio Underground album we are currently tracking. We both agreed that as funny as it seemed to us, as an album title, Marty sucked. We decided to call it Tomorrowland after one of the songs in that batch o’ tunes. Now you, dear reader, can own this chunk o’ Vermont rock history for as little as… well actually you can have it for free if you want. Head on over to our Bandcamp page and pay as little (or as much) as you want. Really, our top motivation is sharing these songs with you so don’t feel any pressure/guilt. Just rock on. If you find you like the album, share it with a friend (or a hundred friends – I don’t know how popular you are!) and let us know what you think.
And as always, thanks for listening.
Radio Underground have been working on basics at Lovetown in Middlesex, VT with Bennett Shapiro handling the engineering. Arty and I had such a good experience tracking the Bardela EP that this choice was a no-brainer. So far, things are going pretty smothly. In an effort to keep things focused and moving forward, I am limiting the number of guitars I bring on any given day. So far the Rickenbacker 12-string and the Burny LP have been the heavy-hitters with the Frankentele and Gretsch baritone making brief but fiery appearances.
Did our first dudo gig at Recess for adults otherwise known as “Peterson Quality Malt presents a day of big stupid fun. Vermont Beer, Vermont Music, Vermont Food, Vermont Games.” Had an absolute blast tho’ I am still not sure what a “Vermont game” is. Dodge-the-idiot-flatlander-on-a-bike?
Dave G and me at Recess: