This ^

You can’t go wrong with a Pirate Flag and a life-size Darth Vador, it’s just to dam superlative! Surrender ye booty and give no quarter ARRR!



Gratitude: Searching for Sugar Man #inspired

I had the most amazing experience at the The David Minor Theater tonight that was so powerful and surreal, I would have to classify it as spiritual. I saw this amazing film titled “Searching for Sugar Man” about a folk rock / pop star from the early 70’s who’s career bombed after his second album release. Unbeknownst to the films protagonist Sixto Rodriguez he had become a huge Platinum selling icon in South Africa with Anglo protestors of apartheid subsequently starting a musical protest movement commonly known as the “afrikaans music revolution.” Soon after his popularity came into focus the sick twisted apartheid government planted a false propagandist story country-wide that “Rodriguez” has committed suicide on stage to squash the love of his music. As all history teaches us humans over and over it vaulted him to martyr status amongst South African youth. When will these d-bags ever learn?

Rodriguez so inspired music executives at the time of his budding recording Career no expense was spared in the production of his compositions for vinyl release. His first album “Cold Fact” was produced by Dennis Coffee of the infamous Funk Brothers responsible for hundreds of hits for Motown. Dennis Coffey is so iconic he introduced the world to the Wah Wah pedal on the Temptations Psychedelic Soul hit Cloud Nine forever changing the landscape of popular music and electric guitar. This amazing record was also co-produced by industry heavyweight Mike Theodore (NelsonWu-Tang Clan) who’s musical pedigree is near untouchable in the artist realm. Lastly, Bob Babbit the iconic amazing Elvis of funk played Bass and arranged this record. Names such as these are unheard of working on a sophomore release let alone a debut album, however record executives know the goods when they hear it. This was something they clearly believed in simply assesed by the talent they brought forth into the sessions.

Although Cold Facts failed to break into the main stream his label Sussex Music appointed Steve Rowland to produce Rodriguez’s next album. Who is Steve Rowland you ask? He signed Peter Frampton, The Cure and the Thompson Twins and was involved in production and management of these amazing artists, that’s who Steve Rowland is. Clearly the powers at be in the executive branch of record company-ville saw dollar signs in their eyes. In listening to this album you can see why this is and what it is in an artistic sense. I’ve listened to few singer song writers in my estimation that can compose on the level of Dylan, Woody and Jimi but Rodriguez does it for me. I’m hair on the back of my neck standing up straight inspired by this amazing singer songwriter.

As for myself I retired from this film to absorb the knowledge of the entire interwebz for simple reason. The film’s soundtrack was brilliant but… OH MY FUCKING GODS this man is amazing. One listen is all it will take most humans IMHO.

Anything I could share beyond this can be found @ Sixto Rodriguez website:

Keywords: Gratitude, inspired, talent

This pace is a bit to slow!

I’ve sat home recovering still from my surgery, the stitches are really starting to grow scar tissue which is really limiting my mobility and my life. What does one do when he’s played so much guitar in his studio every day he has to stop from painful fingers? Bluntly put I’m bored silly! I get up and there’s nothing to do so I plug-in the Les Paul and continue to record from where I left off the day before. In 4 hours I’m sore and have to stop. I’ve now read all five books I checked out from the Library before Surgery 2 weeks ago and am now forced to rely on my personal Library until I can drive in 10 days to refill my literary addiction. My library consists of Books I’ve read so many times I liken it to reruns of I love Lucy on Nick at Night. Then theirs net-flicks in which I believe I’m the only human being alive ever in existence to exhaust their entire online database of science fiction.

Seriously, do you all have any idea what can happen when a geek such as myself get bored to this extent? Things start to catch on fire and blow up! We revert to child hood chemistry scouring the house for any sign of Potassium nitrate to add different things like salt, sugar and dirt to change the flame color. Ohh Pretty! Just like really hot glitter that burns the crap out of you! God help me if I find some Chalk, the sidewalk will suffer my artistic inability! Or even worse, I might get so bored I decide to break the interwebz! Oh, geeks and boredom are a bad highly volatile thing. I mean if I was bored at let’s say the NASA scientific labs I could do something constructive like travel for instance. Being limited to things such as house hold cleaning products and wooden matches in all probability will most likely end up bad.

If you see a mushroom cloud coming from my neck of the weeds, you know where it came from :P

Remixing, whats it all about?

Remixing, whats it all about and can a musician remix with real instruments as opposed to a DJ? What’s ethical and what’s not? I have serious questions and I’m not quite sure where to get the answers, I desire to explore these here with the press community.

A couple of people I’ve worked with in the studio are two artists as well as friends are pretty slick at remixing, Chris Enve and Weapon X. I’m a guitarist, Bass player, Horn Player, a pretty fair Piano player ( I can get the job done if I wrote the song) and a fair drummer when using Alesis Pads with a Roland kick and High Hat trigger running through a sampler such as Superior Drummer or Native Instruments Abbey Road Drums. I really can create all of what I hear in my arrangements by myself so I’ve never had a need to remix.

However the thought has been on my mind ever since I fell in love with the greatest band in the work the Monophonics (can I get an amen!) Daily, and I mean every day I improvise to Goliath, Balboa Tree, in your Brain and Soul funk 45. This kind of Jazz-Funk-Fusion is an exciting place for me as a guitarist to explore improvisation, I never run out of ideas when I play with the Monophonics. It’s like a garden of musical melodies inside my head running on dilithium crystals, golden! and it’s different every-time, Platinum! Now I’m thinking I want to do a 3 song monophonic remix of Goliath, Balboa Tree and in your brain but wait, I’m a Guitarist not a DJ. Am I crossing some sacred line in Musicology? Is this going to be poo poo’d on? What’s the rules?

I guess at the end of the day maybe I should just go ahead an do it but i don’t want to anger anyone, I’m a fan I dig the Monophonics. Comments not only welcomes but needed.

I know leave you with the greatest band in the world, From San Francisco California


M@ over at Guitar WTF posted this very cool bee bop inspired piece using free Windows compatible VST’s (Sorry Apple folks) that as he put it “as an instrument sitting in a track in might just do the trick.” I think so, Read on and listen :)

Guitar WTF

I am always on the lookout for cool free plugins.  This week I came across two, that I think when put together, turns a guitar into a pretty decent fake organ.  I wouldn’t use it in situations where the organ is the primary instrument, but as an instrument sitting back in a mix, it might just do the trick.

The first one is the Stomp King SK-6 Ro-Tube.

As the name suggest, it’s a rotary speaker emulator.  This is one of the better ones I have come across.  It has a warm, retro, slightly over-driven, pulsing sound that reminds me of an old jazz organ trio album.  I also like its straight forward layout and simple controls.  I see myself using this one a lot in the future.

The second one is the 4 Band Shifter.

The cool thing about this one is that you can shift the…

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Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS, Iphone and iPad review Part V

As we come to an end to this series I can without a doubt say Garageband for iOS can be a serious tool for composers. The way you can create MIDI by touch is exactly like piano roll in the Pro Tools, Logic 9, Garageband, Cubase, Sonar etc. With the fantastic sounding on-board virtual instruments that are sound wise identical to Logic 9 and Garageband for OS X along with the deep editing capability, the only limitation I can see is how many tracks the memory will allow. I can do a CD on an 8 tracks that will sound great on any DAW. This is a VIABLE TOOL and not just a toy. For $5 it’s worth having for anyone who likes music to just goof off with as well :)

With Garageband’s on-board sequencing by genre algorithms you can sketch songs out then tweak them with ease on the computer or phone. I can clearly see how a fully loaded ipad and some of the Apogee gear for D to A conversion (what makes real world sounds like a car door slamming turn into binary numbers for a computer to sample and playback) which is top quality stuff in the pro recording world you could create, in at least part, instrumentation that could go on any finished CD or record with a pro sound.

Check out the four screen shots below, the piano rolls are all very similar on the high-end pro audio DAW’s:

The final tweaks came mostly with the arrangement of the strings and the mix. I didn’t have a chance to use Komplete 8 Ultimate on this project because it arrived in the beginning stages, I don’t install anything in the middle of a project. I’ve learned that it’s not only a very big mistake but also a good motivator to finish up what you have going in your work flow. Being limited to the strings samples that come with on the EXS24 compared to what NI has was difficult, but again I know better than to start walking down that road. I stuck with the EXS24 strings and changed the arrangement most noticeably some unison runs from every instrument on the track.

I added a 3 and 4 part harmony of guitars at the end in harmony with the violin counter melody and an additional rhythm guitar track in the first 2 verses and choruses care of my Egnater Tour Master and my Singleton Crossroads. I used a mic that is now my go to guitar mic, the audix i5 made right here in the pacific north-west. I haven’t used an Sure SM 57 on a snare or a guitar cabinet since I tried the Audix i5, they are amazing microphones USA made and built like a tank for under $100 bucks. I highly recommend them for guitar players and drummers.

EDIT: I also changed out the EXS24 sampler piano part for the luscious Alecia Keys Virtual instrument by Native Instruments that came with Komplete Ultimate 8, it sounds fantastic! It was right at the end and I had a decent mix so I thought WTH, I’ll install the new software. It worked out great on this end for sure. I’m impressed with how much NI has got their shite (that’s a technical term :) )together in the last few years with their service staff and the products they put out. IK multimedia, they’re a freaking toy company IMO and will never buy anything from them unless it’s really cheap on some kind of special buy out etc. It’s good to see NI move away from that and embrace real music crafting again.

This is it, the final track of the series. I did not have the time to Master this track so keep that in mind, it’s only a mix. Of course it’s not what I wish I was presenting here but I think everyone feels the same way about endlessly tweaking knobs to perfection. If you only had more time to mix it again it could have been better. In fact Trey Parker says that very quote in the documentary 6 days to south park. ( or see the movie :p It’s so true, for myself anyway. I would like to revisit this someday with a vocal, anyone who want’s to give it a go hit me up.

Dream Jam for iOS Final Mix:

All the tracks from this article

Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS Review Part IV


Part IV of Garageband for iOS has us covering how bad instruments can sound by themselves and yet how great that same sound is in a full mix of instrumentation.

First I would like to pass on I’ve been very busy as of late. I would have liked the opportunity to work on this track a lot more but time didn’t permit that this week. Maybe when time is available I can, I think the “hooks” have fun potential.

Right! Now one constant has remained the same throughout the process and that was the original guitars (one somewhat clean one overdriven and saturated) from the iPhone track. They are still using the original virtual instruments that both Garageband versions share iOS and OS X. The guitars and especially the Bass sound good in the Mix but by themselves not so much. The artifacts in the more clean guitar are really noticeable as are the very digital gutless stale sound of the overdriven guitar. The bass just sounds overloaded to my ears but not very good. The bass was bounced without the side chain compressors.

Stick them in the full mix and they sound really good. Not like a million bucks but I’ve listened to far worse on A & R rock and pop radio. I decided I would isolate these tracks and let you listen to them solo and in the mix. There’s been something of a mystery to me since I changed from a real analog Multi-tracking recorder to DAW years ago.  How things sound in the mix and how it’s mastered are two very different sonic pallets. As for me? I blame the iPod as the instrument of death! but also the money people who backed the mp3 format in its infancy. mp3’s sound like garbage for the most part and iPone / iPod ear buds are downright crap sonically so no one could hear it anyway.

Mixing for mp3 as far as the industry goes (which includes software vendors) has everything to do with volume increases and nothing to do with pristine uncolored quality of sound. In the 90’s it was the Digital VS Analog crowds but these days it’s almost all facets of the industry, Mix and Master pump up the volume.

Case in point:

Go listen to any of the band 311’s studio releases, they were all recorded on 2″ tape completely analog no computers. Listen to The Eagles Hotel California, it’s an analog masterpiece but has a different sonic vibe in the mix that’s very noticeable. Now go listen to anything from the 90’s and on from 311 historically as a comparison and see if you can hear an over all difference in the sound. The reason I’m pointing out 311 because they’re one of the only bands left who record total analog, it sounds different. The Foo-Fighters recorded their last album Wasting Light in Dave Ghrol’s garage using the same type of equipment, see the documentary!

One to my ears is very different and one is good but a little harsh being the Digital recorded and mastered route. If these 3 tracks I’m adding here were in a Tape mix you would have to record them again, you cant fix garbage sounding takes in that realm that sounds like this by itself. However recording on a computer it sounds great as long as all the other instruments are playing along together i.e. the whole mix.

Lastly, there’s a lot of sound artifacts on the solo tracks you can’t hear on the complete mix. ALmost all of them are in the modulation starting at 1:19 Keep in mind these 3 instruments are MIDI running through amp simulators not a real player. The final track will have plenty of human playing on it as does the second version.

Here’s the examples of the isolated guitars and Bass. #3 is Over Driven Guitar, #4 is Clean guitar and #5 is Bass.

Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS Review Part III

In part III of this review we will continue to build the track and instrumentation to our Garageband for iOS arrangement. In part II we imported the raw Garageband for iOS project:

Garageband for iOS

Garageband for iOS

Titled “Dream Jam” into Logic 9 and did some very minimalistic tweaks with EQ and Garageband compressor leaving the song in a very raw form. Notice at 1:19 from the Part II review how badly the artifacts in the clean guitar fall apart when the melody modulated ascending up the score. I completely changed that sections guitar arrangement which will reflect in the Part III Track below. 

Here’s a screen shot from Logic 9 at it’s first mix right after import from iOS 5 and Garageband for iOS:

Garageband for iOS import to Logic 9

Garageband for iOS import to Logic 9

This bring us up to date. The track has now been significantly EQ’d and had a real percussion arrangement added to it Via Superior 2.0 and a sound library I put together piece by piece and input to Logic 9 via my percussion pads and triggers. In addition Grand Piano, Violin I, II and III, Viola I and II, Cello I and Double Bass I were added to the arrangement. The Kick drum and Bass Guitar have been side chained which was very necessary since we used a 32” Kick drum YIKES! It sounds really good during the Modulation at least for now, who knows what might change down the road.

Here’s a Screen Shot of the new Mix in Logic:

Garageband for iOS Review Part III

Garageband for iOS Review Part III

My preliminary conclusions thus far are Garageband for iOS can be used as a real tool for composers and Singer-Songwriters.  This app is no Toy. The MIDI composing interface can be used to nail down specifically every note in all rhythm  possibilities like any MIDI interface in any DAW. It can be quantized in Garageband for iOS at the touch of a finger even on an iPhone, no iPad required. I can’t wait for my next train trip, I’m going crazy with this app!

Here’s part III’s mix from Soundcloud, make sure and select Part III (3) as I set all the tracks for this review in 1 player:

Dream Jam – a Garageband for iOS Review Part II

When last I left I was just in the process of becoming familiar with how Garageband for iOS worked. It didn’t take very long to learn how to use it, it’s very simple. Two things I had to consult the documentation for where “how to undo” which is one of its great-grandfather Logic 9’s most famous for functions. You simply give the iPhone or iPad a good shake which triggers a window to pop up:

Garageband for iOS undo

Garageband for iOS undo

The other issue I needed to consort the documentation for was moving the Garageband .band file to OS X via iTunes to use with Garageband or Logic 9. This is a little convoluted but it can be done. As of this writing I could not get the upload to Soundcloud functionality to work properly. I had to upload from my PC.

I now have my Review track arranged in Garageband for iOS finished. This is the raw Garageband for iOS multi-track consisting or Drums, Bass, Clean rhythm Guitar and Over-driven Electric guitar. Other then the instruments being EQ’d (only the dead space at the top and bottom of the spectrum) and a compressor available in Garageband on a preset this is the raw Garageband for iOS arrangement. This next step will be finishing the recording of the arrangement in Logic 9.


Garageband for iOS first impressions

I have a new iPhone 4S due to my T-Mobile debacle that I’m still having to spend my valuable time fixing with my T-Moble representative “Chad.” Chad, resides in India, Imagine that! Yuppie Mothers and Fathers in India name their children Chad too 0.o – Yeah right! Enough with the Sardonic comments on with Garageband for iOS.

One of the reasons I went with the more expensive 4s is the dual processor technology. At 1.2 Mhz with 2 Core’s that’s 2.4 Mhz which would run Windows Xp flawlessly on the 512 MB of readily available RAM the architecture specifications come in at. Also, the carrier was out of the iPhone 4 which I inquired about who gave me a $50 discount off the 4S. At this point I’m thinking “T-Mobile who?” I know that’s enough processing power to actually be useful to a Composer and Musician, I run Reaper on a machine with less processing power and it’s brilliant!

On the first jump into Garageband for iOS I noticed two really fantastic features that I find incredibly useful; One is the fact that you can not only edit the piano roll like a real DAW but you can export the songs and data to use in Logic 9 as well as Garageband on OS X. The fact that I have a nice pair of Creative Blue tooth wireless stereo speakers made the sauce in the recipe I was cooking very tight. I’m about 20 minutes I had 8 tracks of virtual instruments that sound every bit as good as Garageband for OS X. If you’re in the know on Garageband for OS X you’re aware it has the same Virtual instrument technology running the EXS 24 sampler at the heart of Logic Studio thus it sounds very profession for a program that come with every Macintosh computer. The 32 bars of music I have so far pinging out of this little $4.99 program is in a word, KILLER! I actually think I may be able to finish a real composition in Logic 9 using what I now have.

If apple ever adds scoring imports from Finale or Scorch or its own scoring in general like logic has to this $5 app, I think it could be a launch pad for well over half the music I compose instead of the little Sony hand-held recorder I know use. I cant really say for sure how useful all this is because lets face it fiddling around with Garageband for iOS for 2 hours isn’t enough time to really know. However I have two version of this tune already running in logic that are pretty dam nifty IMHO. I’ll post the first song I actually finish with Garageband for iOS as its spring-board when I finish even if it’s bad. For now I’m having a blast playing with it!

Before I finish here I just want to note a few things that aren’t necessarily pertinent to this article. I like android OS better. It does much more the iOS 5 does all the way around even without rooting the phone. The problem with android is the lack of software especially for creatives, there’s 33% more apps available in the iOS platform the the Google play market. Plus there’s been several programs that have Trojans in them release on Google Play (formerly the android market) because no one checks the software like apple does. Admittedly apple let one slip by them last month as well but the android markets seen hundreds according to PC magazine. I don’t want a Trojan on my smart phone that will steal my client base from its address book, that would be the kiss of death for me. I wish I could have the software I run on my iPhone on my android but it’s just not happening that way at this point in time. That’s my 2 cents anyway. See you soon!