Caligari

So much fun, and yet…

Show day finally came for the Caligari pit band. The audience was great, the band did well (maybe with the exception of one guitar/Stick player).

First, the positives:

  • The idea of taking known songs that (kinda) fit the narrative and then deconstructing/distressing them into a soundtrack for the 1920 horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari was inspired and really fun to tackle (Kudos to Andrew Bedard and Leo Ashby).
  • Every musician was someone I knew by name and reputation but I had never played with and every musician brought something exceptional to the table.
  • Everyone involved is a top-tier improviser and got to flex those muscles going zero to weird in the blink of an eye.
  • The rhythm section of Ploof/Henkel/Huisman can be best described with one word: wow.
  • Great venue and staff at the Main Street Landing Black Box Theater.
  • MVP status to Adam Ploof, our go-to guy for musical questions.
  • The audience seemed to dig it.
  • The entire process was a lot of fun.

Rehearsal…

Colin and Andrew

The calm before.
These cats are the best. L-R: Niels Huisman, Greg Rothwell, Avery Cooper, Colin Henkel, Andrew Bedard, Jack Valance, Sam Atallah, Andriana Chobot, Adam Ploof, M.C.

The other side:

  • The date fell right after a period in my schedule that didn’t allow for a lot of practice time so I went in feeling a bit rough and ill-prepared.
  • I usually have multiple instruments on a gig (there’s always a spare). This case? Nah. So when my B string went wonky just before the climax of the proceedings, I did what I could to remedy it, but… Well, the out-of-tune dissonance might have worked thematically. Yeah, that’s how I will rationalize it.
  • I have never had as big and confidence-shaking instrumental meltdown mid-song (thanks, errant B string!) yet sang the right words and harmony. All within a group of musicians I was still getting to know and hoping to connect with.

Still, so many happy musical moments and good memories of working with this crew! Rumor has it this might start an annual tradition. Time to practice.

Up Next…

Monday, October 31st (a.k.a. “Halloween”!).

Andrew Bedard (best known as drummer for innumerable bands/projects around Burlington) directs/conducts and ensemble of local all-stars providing a musical score to the classic silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Considered by many to be the first horror film ever made, the film will be augmented with tunes both well-known and vaguely familiar (and occasionally from somewhere beyond what we know and understand). I have had an absolute blast working on this and can’t wait to share it with an audience. More details can be found at: https://fb.me/e/6LEGMF1V5

Clearly, Nothing Changes…

Well, it’s February and my second post of the year. Big round of applause for consistency! Yay!

Not much to report. Projects all moving forward. S-l-o-w-w-w-w-w-l-l-l-y-y-y.

Oh yeah, I did get to work with Zoe Keating at my day job. Long time dream come true. It was both a blast and very educational (as interactions with her usually are). Bonus points because her sound guy, Alex Nahas is an amazing Stick player.


Making an effort to stay on top of social media presence so watch this space for some archival scraps in addition to the usual (hah!) updates.

Nothing Changes…

Buh-bye 2021. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

2021 was arguably one of the worst years of my life, for reasons I won’t go into as they don’t really apply here. Suffice it to say, while I am not holding my breath (unless around the unmasked), and having abandoned what most people call “hope”, I am starting the year off with cautiously reserved optimism.

So, what is on the horizon? Well, since booking isn’t really happening right now, The Arty LaVigne Band is pivoting into recording pre-production mode. Currently I am reviewing hours of multitrack rehearsal recordings (a very useful tool) and working out arrangements, hooks, sounds, etc.

I am also continuing to spelunk through the archives* and organizing and digitizing multitracks from long ago. Amongst these are a wealth of Regional Science Fair recordings (several I don’t even remember doing) as well as all the demos/experiments from my teenage years when I was just learning how to do this stuff. Some of this stuff might actually make it to your eardrums one of these days.

What else? Well, I have my Stick rig rebuilt and I am trying to get back into a practice routine. My plan is to finish my own album soon-ish. All the members of Ghost Ghost are working on their own stuff but cross-pollination/collaboration is a definite possibility. Also, while Stone Document is in mothballs, Dennis and I continue to plot and conspire our next steps as a team. No idea of a direction but it will doubtless be eclectic.

  • Please take a moment to imagine Tiny Tim singing “Spelunk Through the Archives”

Summer’s Over

credit: Mike Conley

Well, its the first post of 2021 and it only took me until mid-October to get around to it. Haven’t been as productive as hoped what with COVID avoidance, working from home, battling depression, digging through personal and professional archives and dealing with losing family and friends…

So, here we are in October. Summer is behind us. A Summer that saw the renaming of one band (from Winooski Falls to the more accurate/descriptive Arty LaVigne Band), and we did manage to play a handful of outdoor shows. It was so good to be playing for people again! Now that gigs are moving indoors, we have temporarily stopped booking and have shifted into album pre-production mode. Oh and the guitar maintenance and pedalboard reconfiguration goes on ad infinitum.

Selected Solo Improvisations, vol. 1

Selected Solo Improvisations, vol. 1 is the first in a series of archival recordings taken mostly from live performances. Quite often the pieces employ real-time looping to create a complex soundscape. This collection also includes some Chapman Stick practice experiments that attempted to synchronize a drum machine with the loops as they were being created.

Here are some details about the tracks:

  1. Raga Ndbone – A fretless guitar improvisation (with some odd delays writhing in the background. The title is a play on the terms “raga” and the English slang “rag and bone” (a rag and bone man is an old term for a peddler who collected discarded items for resale).
  2. Post-normal – A guitar/guitar-synthesiszer/looper piece taken from my solo spot in one of the shows I did with compadre Kevin Peckham. My main moment of unrestrained weirdness in each show.
  3. Stick Practice Improvisation – Forgive the following descent into techno-geekery. The Chapman Stick is a multi-stringed instrument with the range of a bass and a guitar that is played by tapping the strings with both hands; essentially using piano-like technique on astringed instrument. In this instance (and the ones that follow in this collection) the treble register of the Stick was looped using an Electro Harmonix 2880 multitrack looper and the bass register was looped using a Lexicon JamMan, both of which were synchronized to a Roger Linn Adrenalinn III drum machine/processor. These are the only pieces that weren’t created in front of an audience.
  4. Like for Part 2 – Ambient guitar/looper exploration of type I am typically “known for”.
  5. Return of Stick Practice Improvisation – More basement experimentation with synchronization.
  6. Any Questions? – Probably too many if you’ve made it this far.
  7. Son of Return of Stick Practice Improvisation – Yeah. You guessed it. Might make a good bumper for radio if any of my friends in broadcasting are reading this. Wink wink.
  8. Part 2 – Another ambient guitar noodle dish. Pairs well with a Pinot Noir and/or Strawberry Cush.
  9. Son of Return of Stick Practice Improvisation (Slight Return) – Just some playing around with the loops from Track 7 that was at the end of that recording.

Available exclusively at BandCamp

Tuning Up the Hot Rods, vol. 2

Next up is my trusty Vox Standard 25 (or what used to be Standard). This is the first really good guitar I owned, purchassed from a friend in High School. It started life as a stock Vox Standard 25 which could best be described as “if a Strat and a PRS had a child that traveled in time back to the mid-80s”. It was my main guitar through the end of the 80s and into the early 90s. Not sure if it’s just long term familiarity but it is one of the easiest and most comfortable necks I have played.

A long time ago…

It was also the first guitar I played around with modding. It’s been through several personality changes and the current set-up is:

  • all the usual (straplocks, locking Neutrik output jack, graphite string trees)
  • custom cut pickguard
  • single coil Dimarzio in bridge position
  • Gibson Bill Laurence humbucker in bridge position
  • Roland GK midi pickup
  • momentary stutter button

The Dimarzio single coil was the original on the stock version, the humbucker came from a mid-80s Les Paul I did some work on for a friend (and the pickups that were replaced were given to me as payment). The wiring is a mix between custom and accidental: the first (volume) pot was replaced withthe momentary button, the third pot is a tone control exclusively for the single coil (this makes going back and forth between the e-bow and regular playing super-easy). The middle pot was supposed to be a master volume but somehow just rolls off some of the overall high frequencies. I’m not sure where I messed up but it’s been interesting playing around with this configuration. One of these days I might correct it, but for now…

Tuning Up the Hot Rods, vol. 1

One of the upsides of “downtime” is catching up on my instrument maintenance. So I started with the hot-rodded ones: they started life as basic and unremarkable and were then transformed into… well, you’ll see. Number one is only modded a little. Neutrik locking output jack and Dunlop straplocks (both standard on most of my modified instruments), and a momentary killswitch where the old jack used to be. It already had the graphite neck and LSR tuners. Usually tuned to E-flat and my main go-to for Strat sounds.

This was one of my main guitars used on the Bardela EP. The Crow is a good demonstration of it’s capabilities.