The first sound ever!

When I was a wee Laddie we had a 1969 Zenith model x547-1 stereo record player that, the family that is, was allowed to touch. This was because Daddy had about 4k wrapped up in professional high-end McIntosh pro audio gear that would mean certain death of you even breathed on it! Me Da was a bit of a music snob, honestly he was a big fat music snob! A graduate of the University of Southern California he played in their Wind ensemble and Orchestra all over the states and Europe as a contra Bass player. He was a very well schooled classical musician and about as broad-minded musically as Hitler was on coexistence. Rock music wasn’t the devil, it was for pussies who couldn’t sight read!

We weren’t even allowed to listen to Rock music in my home growing up under the penalty of mowing lawns and cleaning garbage cans for life! Poor Da, he didn’t have a clue about the bumper sticker me Màthair sported on the back of her AMC of a prism with a rainbow illuminating through it and just how very Rock and Roll it was. Aye, you guessed it, Mums was a Floyd fan! Mums also had The Byrds, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, The Doors, Cream, Badfinger, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, Fleetwood Mac, John Mayall and Who records. They were all well hidden away from Da and enjoyed daily by the family until we heard the garage door open. Then we all scampered like Mice stashing all the records in our various hiding places!

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Most Importantly me Màthair owned one special album containing the first sounds I can recollect hearing in my life, that album was The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour. Still today I clearly remember the very first note of side one, Roy Copestake and John Wilbraham on trumpets in the opening riff followed by John Lennon’s spoken word narration “Roll up roll up for the magical mystery tour step right this way.” It’s not by anything other than design I went on to play Trumpet for 16 years of my life I was so inspired by the very first sound I can recall hearing. I had no idea they were talking about tripping, I figured that out later on.

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The catalyst for this Press was finding the actual Zenith model x547-1 stereo record player today for sale I played this album on. Seeing it brought back a wealth of emotions that had eluded me since my early childhood in a Clairaudient  and Clairscent way. I could smell that room today recalling these memories I shit you not, it was wild! This musical happening took place when I was 2 1/2 years old but is still so incredibly clear in my mind I’m a little astounded at the accuracy I can still recall it with.

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I remember me Mums recalling how she was worrying about me in later conversations with my siblings. My mother, a special education teacher said I would rock back and forth in front of out little Zenith Record player for hours that summer playing Magical Mystery Tour over and over again. If anyone tried to interfere I would become quite out of control which was out of the norm of my very easy-going nature as a wee lad. She went so far as to have me tested by the powers at bay, they quickly confirmed I was a bloody nut case but, only when it came to music :D

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This whole “thing” that transpired today has my Vintage electronics fetish buzzing like Mosquito’s Tweeter! Now I absolutely have to have a 1960’s era Zenith Solid State Stereophonic Record Player Turntable Model X547-1. I’m completely obsessed! In even a more twisted event concerning the happening of this afternoon I have the very same copy of The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour from my Childhood in my Vinyl collection. I think I may stop the earth inadvertently from rotating in some really brilliant kind of Chaos Magick spell if I were to play that Record on that Specific Stereo all these years later. FUCK! That sounds like so much mischievous fun >:D

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Auditions, don’t let them get you down!

That’s a mouthful to swallow for any musician who’s had auditions blow up in their face. Honestly, I miss the days of auditioning in LA where there were 30 guitarists waiting in one room. At least you knew it was going to be a professional audition because you were at SIR. When I spit the concrete jungle for life at a slower pace I also found nearly no practical gigs in my new home town and the auditions were the most unprofessional I’ve ever encountered in 4 states. I felt like I was in the twilight zone, Toto Toto! It took years to begin to understand the sociology of my new musical cohorts and I’m still working on it.

After a while I just got used to these kinds of occurrences, after all I’d been in at least a hundred auditions where A & R people were shouting “NEXT” as a row of pickers where making a centipede trail down the hallway toward the voice of doom! I can take a licking and keep on ticking! I’ve played Music since I was 5 and guitar almost as long, I’m not going to let that stop me even if I end up in a room of players that blow me off the face of the earth talent wise. The only auditions that will get me a little snarky are the ones that waste my time because the talent is green and frightened or they just party too much and work to little. I live in Oregon, you can only imagine the party seen in weed city USA! I had one of these a few weeks back that made me pause and planted a desire to do everything within my power to make sure it never happens again. I’ve set a good set of rules up to combat this that I’ll share at the end of this press.

After 2 weeks of fooling around trying to get this audition booked I was going to blow it off, something I rarely do because it’s not professional and you can’t get out of 1st gear without finessing the clutch. Do or do not, there is no try! One of the players I was corresponding with was clearly talented and a gigging musician from another part of the country as well as a recent transplant. This was the reason I tenaciously solved every problem that was brought before me by one of the other people participating in this gig. This player was a consummate professional who has the goods and I know the goods when I hear it. I’ve been around the block to many times I have a great set of ears.

I was actually asked to audition in a public place at one point…. Whoa! I thought I had heard it all but this one takes the cake! I said absolutely NO! There are hourly rehearsal studios all over the place in Oregon, 3 within 8 miles of my home. Clearly I don’t invite people into my studio to run one of their auditions for security reasons but I do have the expectation that if you request an audition from me you will provide a professional location for it to take place in. I have very few expectations in life but that’s one of them. I mean think about it, I’m hauling my gear to come play for you for free in the hopes that we can get some gigs after we spend 40 hours rehearsing a 4 hour set. I don’t work for free for anyone, do you?

After I decided to rent a studio myself at $15 an hour to audition for their gig I had to step back and reevaluate the situation. I’m a nice guy who’s driven, but I’m not a sap. This was just to hard to navigate, I waited for them to respond and left the ball in their hands. Finally an email came with a location and time, it was a date! This was no easy audition, it was in the middle of the day which is difficult to navigate with short notice. I did my best as always and made it work.

I arrive and am introduced while I’m tuning up. I look around and there’s not a cart or a music stand to be found, red flag #1. I sent charts and had them on my iPhone but I didn’t have a smidgen of a clue about what they wanted to play. They had sent me 2 mp3’s but never spoke word zero about an audition piece . The one player who has experience immediately picks up on this just as I was saying “do you have any charts for me?” and produces a few basic chord / lyric charts. I’m in like flin Dad! The other person just sat there, in fact that’s all about this person did. When we finally got to where we were actually making a sound I could hear the player / singer next to me but the other musician was on the complete extreme far side of the room with this really negative body language. Arms folded looking at the ground, I was waiting Harvey Korman’s ghost to run into the room and shout for a Hurrumph!!

Once tuned I pluck the first chord on my Taylor which sounds just horrible. I’m playing change the world by Eric Clapton to warm up which is no easy piece for me to play, but it clearly showed I have the chops to get the job done even with this tinny unholy tone. Two days before the audition I had put my usual’s (Martin 12 to 54 SP 80/20 bronze) on my guitar with plenty of time to stretch them out, obviously I had a bad set. It happens once in a while with Bronze strings, they don’t have a very long shelf life. This is always a drag, having bad tone never helps with your playing but that’s not going to keep this minstrel down. We play through a couple of tunes and all I hear if the person on my side playing and singing really great, the other player is now looking for carpet fibers to kick and whispering at the ground looking more like Eeyore then a sound-smith. Eeyore-FlowersI never heard a single note and don’t know even now if this person could sing or play. I played as quiet as I could but nada, nothing, zilch, Null! In literally 15 minutes from the time we start playing Eeyore skids out the back door because it’s time to work? Wow, I took time off to be there.

Clearly this was an example of what I call the “Doe in the headlights musician.” This person is so scared and easily intimidated I wouldn’t matter how well they play and sing. I wouldn’t know I never heard a note to size them up, but I know what fear looks like and I know what fear acts like. I also know you can’t size up anyone chops in 15 minutes, no one was even properly warmed up. Intimidation is the fault if the intimidated not the intimidator, especially when your intent is to have a professional audition not an ego-fest acting like a spoiled child. I knew 3 days later when I received this somewhat rude seriously unprofessional email from Eeyore that I was dealing with a rank amateur. Amateurs are fine, everyone has to start somewhere, I did too. Treating someone poorly and / or unprofessional even if you sing like Elvis is no excuse. I knew something was odd when the “talent” was saying “oh but it’s Eeyore’s gig” and yet the “talent” was the one running around grabbing me charts etc.

The funny thing is after Eeyore ran out the back door the other player (i.e. the talent) said I have this “other” thing going if you’d be interested. Do you like to play (insert genre of music here)? I said you bet! Funny thing is I got a call from a promoter I’ve worked for before this morning that needed a trio for a winery gig Saturdays all summer long and was wondering if I was interested in auditioning for the gig. The gig pays $1250 for a 4.5 hour set with one 30 minute breaks and one 45 minute food break. I know one thing, there’s not a hope in Hell for Eeyore on this one. I wish Eeyore the best but my time will never be wasted again by this donkey with a pin tail. The “talent?” I’m giving them a call when I return from NAMM to see if they are interested. Only amateurs burn bridges with other players, I guess it’s the Gods way of separating the wheat from the chaff.

This is what I feel I’m going to have to resort too as a flexible set of rules. Back in LA all musicians have Bio’s, here only the ones who are experienced and play well do and that’s why it’s number one on the list!

1) No professional Bio no time from me unless your going to pay me Period! No Exceptions
2) Request ASCAP or BMI information if people are communicating they’ve been published.
3) Give them 4 chances to communicate with you in which ever medium they choose, if something isn’t tangible by then cut your losses and move on.
4) Have a full set of charts in your hand that they want played for the gig before you even start to put that guitar in its case and make a hermitage to a rehearsal facility.
5) Show me the money! Request a list of Gigs the band has played in the last year.
6) If you can’t find some music on the Internets based on your conversations make a request. If none is available move on!
7) Make sure all the players are of close or Equal talent. It doesn’t do any good if ones a suppahstar and ones a rank amateur, even if talented it will show at gigs, the audience is listening. That’s why they call it paying your dues!

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Why I’ve avoided twitter and what I’ve surmised by journeying to the dark side

I work on the Internets often, almost daily, but I don’t live here. I dated a girl who lived vicariously through the Internets, she was scary the “Duchess of Cold.”  She wasn’t even a gamer, how can that be proper? Seriously, for good reason I’ve avoided twitter and Facebook . Without going full jacketed geek on you there’s this little thing called a TOS (terms of service) that every user of anything you sign up for on the Internets says “sure, it’s not like you hate these cans or anything?”

Before I get into what most people don’t know about Google+, Twitter, Facebook etc I want to talk about the good things that have happened on twitter other than the Polynesian guitar stalker that is. One, I got to hook up personal messages with both Peter Hodgson and Tal Wilkenfeld. I met Tal the year before she got the Jeff Beck Gig at NAMM I think in 07? I was standing next to the guy that shot this video of her and Marcus Miller as I was shooting my own with my friends Cannon GL2, unfortunately that was taken off YouTube by some complaint.

I’ve never forgot it because I had no idea who she was and I don’t think Marcus Miller may have either. You have to be an amazing player to be able to Jam with a living legend like Mr. Miller and Tal just was amazing, especially considering she was 20 years old in this video and a relative unknown compared to her behemoth status in the music business now. The next year saw her playing with Jeff Beck and winning “The Year’s Most Exciting New Player” in Bass Player magazine readers’ choice poll. I actually have that video I shot, I was shooting her not Miller. I was filming her as I was completely amazed by her brilliant playing. I want to get a copy of it to her at NAMM because I don’t get to go every year now that I don’t live in LA. People still talk about this musical coming out to this day, it was amazing to be there in that moment! I still have mad gratitude for  the stars aligning just right giving me those moments. 7 years later I’m still inspired by reflecting on these moments.

Peter Hodgson (also from down under as Tal is) has been writing for Gibson.com, Guitar Magazine and a host of other as well as being just a killer player! I’ve frequented his website everyday since I ran across it 3 years ago. It’s a great site and he has tons of fans, me being one. If you’re a guitar player check outiheartguitar.com. These are two things that happened this week (I had the week from Hell too believe me) that were really sweet.

But…. There’s the dark side.

Have you ever read Facebook’s or twitters TOS? Have you ever read the Constitution? See where I’m going with this? I’m the one geek you follow in WordPress land that not only carry’s a pocket constitution but reads the TOS agreements from time to time of such services (here comes my Sam Kinison voice) of blood sucking pit vipers spawned by all that’s evil such as Facebook and Twitter that want to eat your children!

Basically, as I learned by uploading a picture of my son to FB that was used globally for years as an online advert image, they own everything even the image of your minor son. Not just the images of your family or your ramblings, they own the serial number to the network card, Pentium or AMD processor, Motherboard in your PC, the name of your ISP and the IP address you most commonly have more than likely used since the last time your power went out for more than 5 minutes or you rebooted your modem and wireless.

After months and sometimes years in this span of time (because you haven’t lost power or you internet connection in a few years) of watching everywhere you go, everything you scribe, every image you post from any location because your iPhone / android phones serial numbers for it’s all its similar components are all tied to your home PC’s and network identification / components, they sell that information to all kinds of people, its big bucks, it behemoths the porn industry in profits (epic run on sentence in a Kurt Vonnegut kind of whay don’t you think?). No one knows this when they click “sure my dad said I could get on Facebook”

But, to be fair it is free…. sorta….. well no it’s not free they’re making money hand over fist by selling your personal information without you ever knowing it. Haven’t you ever noticed that all the advertising is tailored to your taste when you do a Google search? Have you noticed a random website knows your location?

Just be aware, there’s no free lunch on the Internets!

You can follow me on twitter @Dinofond

Guitar Forums… I thought I’d seen it all until today

Wow, I really thought I had seen it all trolling or otherwise in music gear and or guitar forums then I read this and I quote from the guitargeek.com forums posted by Scruff: “There’s just something about a Duncan Custom in a mahogany body that makes me pop wood in my guitar panties!”

WTF?   O.o

Then I saw his picture in his profile and it somehow all made sense ;)

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