Monday, January 19, 2015

Photo Dump

Hey - can I show y'all some photos?
Below are some photos from some of the recording sessions that went on in December at Kevin Reynolds' house.  The ones of me layin' it down with my ukulele were from a recording session that didn't quite yield anything; the one of Dan Lodge-Rigal playing his guitar is from the sessions that bore some much tastier fruit.

That's me (below) playing bass yesterday at both services at the Unitarian Universalist Church here in Bloomington.  They stream the services online, but as far as I know, they don't archive them for people to check out.  Because if they did, I'd recommend that you check out yesterday's 11:15 service.  It is not uncommon to find people transformed or moved in some way during the service. Usually, I'm not the one getting teary eyed or spontaneously clapping or hugging people.  But I have to say that yesterday's services were the exception.  I'm not sure why.  If I'm being honest (and at the risk of sounding like a cranky old man), I don't have a lot of use for the "good feelings" that UU services can inspire, because often those go away on the car trip home when the kids start bickering or whatever.  But yesterday's services inspired in me a renewed sense of importance and determination to carry on the work of social justice passed onto us from Dr. King.  I'm not dissing the "good feelings" and the uplift that many folks seem to get from the service.  But for me, the spiritual sustenance comes from living the values professed in those services; better still, the sustenance comes from getting out of my comfort zone and doing what needs to be done.  Let's face it:  there's no sheriff with guard dogs and fire hoses waiting for me if I live a life that plainly but clearly witnesses to others my values. So it's the least I can do.  I'm being intentionally vague.  At some point I'll revisit this topic and say way I really mean.  Still trying to process why that service got to me so much.

ANYWAY - back to the music from this service.  I only played on one song at both services.  I played in a small band with the choir.  The band was me on bass, Dave Sharp on guitar, Patrick McNaughton on drums and Dan Lodge-Rigal on piano and lead vocals.  I think we played real well.  I have to confess the two times I played this song I was suffering from some major panic attacks.  I don't know why - I knew the song inside and out.  But my face was burning, my armpit odor was in overdrive, and a few times I startled because I thought I was fainting.  Very strange.  If anyone noticed, no one said anything.  I was real proud how everything turned out though.  Meant to ask the sound guy to record it at the soundboard, but I forgot.

I did decided to string my Fender Jazz Bass with flatwound strings to see how it would sound.  I had seen Esperanza Spalding use flatwound strings to great effect on her fretless Jazz Bass.  Granted, I can't play like ES, and her gear is a lot nicer than mine.  But I was looking for that mellow vintage sound that flatwounds gave most early rock tunes.  I think it has a lot to do with the room we played in, but the strings delivered exactly what I had hoped for:  volume and a full, vintage bass sound.  Of course, the sustain wasn't great, but I kind of expected that.  I think it would probably be different if my Jazz Bass was fretless; I don't know.  The one thing I found interesting:  between services, I would mess around with my bass at a very low volume.  I would pick at it with my fingernail - I was messing with the opening bass part for "Whipping Post" - and I was surprised at how ballsy that bass sounded.  Deep, strong, round, not bassy but not tinny and anemic sounding either.  Before I bought my Jazz Bass, I would've told you that the only bass that I knew was innately ballsy was a Rickenbacker 4001 or 4003.  You can make a Precision Bass sound ballsy, but you have to have the right set up for it.  But the Jazz Bass is not the refined lady I thought she was.  She's got a lot more range than that.  She's a keeper for sure - I love that bass.

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