Friday, December 28, 2012

Merry Christmas: Santa Screen Saver Prank Call At Work

This voicemail was waiting for me this morning when I got back from doing some other jobs around the building.  It cracked me up pretty good!

Merry Christmas: Cirque de Vargo Update A Christmas Classic

When it comes to Christmas music, I'm a bit of a traditionalist.  I like the classics and never really seek out new Christmas music.  But let's face it:  some of those old tunes would benefit from a bit of an update to make them feel more timely and relevant.  Here is a good example, and embedded in this post is another great example.  I love the energy of this, the enthusiasm, the rapping skillz and HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THAT BACK FLIP?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas: George & Kitty Read The Story Of Christ's Birth

On Thanksgiving Day of 2010, I slipped away from the feasting and football and met my parents in the guest bedroom of my sister's house.  I had asked them to read their favorite gospel account of Christ's birth.  After a couple of takes, we had what we needed.  It was funny to see them slightly nervous to record for this project, which at that time was meant to be a surprise for my wife.  They wanted it to sound just right.
Because I did the post production on this, you'll notice the quality of this recording isn't great.  For example, I have no idea why they sound like their noses sound like they are being pinched.  On the original tracks, their voices sound fine.  For all my shortcomings as a sound guy, this is one of the most moving audio tracks I have.  It is one I return to a lot.  I don't want to go into why I feel that way, but I will say this track fills me with respect, awe, and love for my mom and dad. 

Reader #1:  Kitty Zink
Reader #2:  George Zink
"Away In The Manger" performed by Kevin Reynolds.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Merry Christmas: Here Is The Creekdogs Covering "While Roving On A Winter's Night"

Let's continue the holiday audio assault with the Creekdogs' cover of "Roving On A Winter's Night".  I guess this is an old traditional tune, but the version we based our cover upon was the Darol Anger/John Gorka/Dar Williams tune.  Hope you enjoy!

The Creekdogs are:
Dan Lodge-Rigal:  12-string guitar, lead vocals
Kevin Reynolds:  National resophonic guitar, harmonica
Matt Zink:  upright bass, harmony vocals
A hearty thank you to Kevin Reynolds for recording and post production.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Post Script: Would You Like To Contribute To The Christmas Project?

I wrote earlier that I'm going to be posting Christmas content from folks I know.  Truth is, if you're a person reading this anywhere in the world, you can contribute if you are moved to do so.  All you have to do is leave your name and email in the comments section (if privacy is a concern, I'll delete your comment right after I get a hold of you) and I'll make arrangements with you on your contribution.

Your contribution could be funny or serious, humorous or grumpy, related to Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa - whatevs!  Just make it interesting.

Want to contribute but you're not sure how?  I've got a ton of ideas:

  • Compose/read an original story/essay/poem.
  • Read "The Night Before Christmas".
  • Read "How The Grinch Stole Christmas".
  • Reenact/read a scene from "A Charlie Brown Christmas".
  • Sing an original Christmas song
  • Read an account of Christ's birth from the Bible
  • Group Karoke.  For example, you'd call and Karoke to "Do They Know It's Christmas?" I can edit it so that like the actual song, you'd get a line or two from the whole song. &nbsp
. . . and on and on.  I can help you with ideas.  Don't want to use your actual name in the performance?  That's why pseudonyms are so fun!  So get off the bench and get in the spirit - leave your contact info in the comments section of this post.

Merry Christmas: Here's The Creekdogs Covering "Spotlight On Christmas"

In the next few weeks, I'll be trotting out some cool Christmas stuff performed by folks I know and love.  Some of it will be spoken word/readings, and some will be music.  I thought I'd start off with the Creekdogs' cover of Rufus Wainwright's "Spotlight On Christmas".  I think it sounds pretty damn good and I hope you do too.

The Creekdogs are:
Dan Lodge-Rigal:  12-string guitar, lead & harmony vocals, accordion
Kevin Reynolds:  mandolin
Matt Zink:  upright bass
Recording and post production by Kevin Reynolds.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Brief History Of One Of The Greatest Christmas Songs Of All Time

The Guardian has an interesting piece on the Pogues' "Fairy Tale of New York".  It talks about the song's painful - but ultimately necessary - birthing process.  Included with the article is an early demo of the song, and it provides a great contrast for just how far the band had to come to shape the song into the perennial Christmas hit we have today.  Thank God they stuck to it.

At any rate, check out the article here

Friday, December 14, 2012

Why Don't We Go Ahead And Review Last Year's Holiday Music Posts?

When do you start playing Christmas music at your house (if at all)?  If you're ready for it now, enjoy the Cosby Sweaters' version of "Blue Christmas".

Why do I like "Do They Know It's Christmas?" so much?  It's such a fucking condescending song.  Is it Phil Collins' competent drumming?  Is it Bono's part, a part wherein he says that he wanted to sound like "Bruce Springsteen on the toilet"?  (By the way, bravo on that, Bono.)  Is it George Michael's overwrought singing, complete with that little piss shiver vocalization on the word "ones"?  I don't know for sure.  How can I like something so awful?

I took a moment to contemplate Robert Earl Keen's masterful writing on "Merry Christmas From The Family".  This is definitely one of my all time favorite Christmas songs.

Dig on Leslie Donovan's a capella version of "Silent Night" (and listen closely for the car that drives by outside); then check out the Cosby Sweaters' "Peppermint Stick Shiv", a song with a connection to the holidays that tenuous at best.

And then there is the "Parental Advisory" Christmas playlist.  Aside from the fact that one of the best tunes is missing, this is a phenomenal mix for your holiday comings and goings.

After he visited our house, Santa left a thank you message (and a text!) for our kids.  Note Prancer's identity confusion in this message.

. . . there now.  Feeling like some spiked eggnog yet?  Not yet?  Stay tuned - some more great Christmas-y posts coming up soon!

Fat Friday Feature DOUBLE SHOT: Vince Guaraldi Trio's Fred Marshall And Big Country's Tony Butler

Every other Friday, the focus of this blog is on great bassists/bass parts.  Today, we have the Vince Guaraldi Trio's Fred Marshall as well as Big Country's Tony Butler.

I hold firm to the conviction that amongst all the great Christmas music ever released, you really only need one record for the holiday season:  the soundtrack from "A Charlie Brown Christmas".  Everything about it is delightful, and it stands on it's own as an excellent jazz record.  I've been asked that if I can be in any band ever, what band would it be?  Almost every time I say the Vince Guaraldi Trio.  Most folks think I'm kidding, but I'm really not.  Who wouldn't want to back up a smokin' piano player like Vince Guaraldi?  And listen to Marshall's bass - it's always in the pocket.  Always.  Check it, yo.  And if this doesn't get you in a festive mood, nothing will.

Next we have Tony Butler.  Butler has played bass for Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and the Pretenders; but you might know him best as the bassist for Big Country.  Understandably, most have never pursued anything by Big Country beyond "In A Big Country"*; perhaps because the band is guilty of being a little overly sincere.  Poor Stuart Adamson (the band's guitarist and principal songwriter) felt like everything had to be an anthem.  But like many bassists featured on Fat Friday Features, everything Butler plays on has great bass work.  For that reason, it's hard to narrow down what to showcase.  However, I must, so check out the work on "Where A Rose Is Sown".

It's also interesting (at least to me) that Butler's bass tone is a hallmark of the 1980s sound:  it's got a TON of chorus or flanging, or possibly a combination of both.

* - I was glad to find this version of "In A Big Country" because it features the dope extended drum introduction.  This was the version that was on the cassette I had and it's the version I know and like the best.  But for some reason, it's not the more common of the two versions of that song.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Micro-Rant: Your Music Stand Is Not Very Rock And Roll

Try to think of and visualize some of the greatest performances/performers of all time:  Hendrix at Woodstock, the Who at the Isle of Wight, Dylan at Newport, Mingus at Antibes, the Ray Conniff Singers at the Nixon White House*.  Hell, you don't even have to think of anything that monumental.  Just try to think of the best performances you've seen.  Unless you spend a lot of time checking out shows with orchestras, I'll bet you don't remember seeing a single music stand on stage.

Without tipping too much info, I've seen recently two performances in which one musician in the group was behind a stand, reading music.  (Both bands were more or less rock bands.)  In one case, the band was to play one song as a part of a larger performance.  One.  Freaking.  Song. It was that performance that set this little rant off.

Before I get rolling, let me tell you who is exempt from this rant:  folks who play in orchestras/chamber groups/choirs - jazz, classical, choral groups, etc.  Folks who are playing sophisticated, non-improvised pieces.  I think you know who I'm talking about.  For the rest of you, no love. 

Maybe I'm supposed to take that musician(s) more seriously because they're reading music.  If you skip around this blog enough, you know that reading music is a skill I lack and a skill I deeply value (oddly enough).  But instead of taking that musician seriously, the opposite is true.  As a member of the audience, seeing a music stand says to me that you're not all there in the performance.  It says that you couldn't be bothered to memorize and/or interpret something you are supposed to be playing for me.  It says your being lazy.  It says I and my time are not really that important to you, and that kind of pisses me off.

I realize I'm blowing this out of proportion.  But if I'm coming to see a band live, I want them to be there, in the moment, giving me everything they've got.  You're not giving yourself to me (or your audience) if you're up reading music in your dopey cover band.  I can't think of anything less rock and roll than your music stand**.  So ditch the fucking stand and try practicing.

* - I'm being serious here.  This was an amazing command performance for Tricky Dick and some others that culminated in some of the members of the group holding up anti-Vietnam War signs.  It was really intense.  I really wish I could find the footage of it online.

** - Okay, I actually can think of one thing that is even less rock and roll:  setting up those folding chairs you always see at outdoor weddings in a fucking rock nightclub.  Like we're supposed to sit there and be good little boys and girls why you bore us between songs with your name dropping and shitty stories.  Fuck you, Over The Rhine.


I heard from Jamodo tonight - as I suspected, I did not win the job.  Lots of lessons learned from this experience.  The big question is will I have the discipline to get my shit together?

Thanks to Jamodo for letting me come and play with them!  In addition to being great musicians, they're a pretty fun group to be around.  Keep an eye out for them as it sounds like their aim is to make 2013 a busy year.