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Hula Hoops

I can control only one area in my life. It’s diameter is that of a Hula Hoop. When Life is annoying, which is about every hour, I remind myself of the simple fact, MY LIFE CIRCLE IS A HULA HOOP!

Don’t forget it, Meat.

Hey! Back off! You’re in my Hula Hoop! No, No, No! You see that circumference? That’s my Hula Hoop; Back off, Jack. Thats my space. Stay out of it. It’s my Promised Land. It conveniently goes where I go. I can always depend on it. A comfort to my peace of mind.

That’s right! My Force. If you only knew the Power of the Round Side……..( My best James Earl Jones ).

There is not much I can do about most things. But there is my Hula Hoop. At least I have that.

Can we help you find the Round Side?

Remix

“Hey Bro’, I’ve got these tracks laid down. The song is finished, just need to pull it all together and do post-production. Can you help me?”

I cough up the usual excuses; not interested in working on someone else’s recording, not enough time for myself, too many irons in the fire…

“It’s all done, shouldn’t take much time at all.”

Alright, send me the tracks. I’ll take a listen. God, I cave easily.

The Master mix is dull, lifeless, spread with too much reverb. The individual performance tracks are clean and well recorded, others are ponged with multiple instruments. Then there are the vocals; good performance but super thin.

I’m hanging here with kind of a mess.

Recut vocals with a Neumann, using an UA LA 610 as pre amp, layering the vocals with two delays way back and a little plate verb.

Separate the ponged tracks to individual tracks; assigned a bass amp plug-in to the bass, compress and limit the track, squeezed tight and centered; EQ and compress guitar tracks; EQ keyboard tracks; Listen to each track individually, searching for audio artifacts, and, of course, finding a bunch of stuff that needed to be eliminated; assign sub mixes to everything, panning in place…

Drums, crap…great performance, but sub standard punch. Three great rim shot snares in the whole track. I created a sample of one the rim shots, cut and paste it across the mix. I replaced the kick track with my own sample cut with a vintage Bellari tube pre. Sub mixed the drums with SMACK, my favorite compressor plug-in, and light plate reverb.

Remix, remix, remix…weeks later, ready for mastering, and then we’re done.

Nope, shouldn’t take much time at all.

Is there anything we can help with?

Picking Low Fruit

Some days I find it hard to be inspired. When I reach a point of nothing, which can be alcohol induced, I usually plop down in front of the TV and enter a state of, “Since it’s TV time I should be eating.”

This condition usually shows up about midnight.

My basic understanding of Circadian Rhythm is quite limited. But the part I get the most is when mindlessness enters in to my brain. Which, frankly, is about midnight. If I’ve played a gig, mindlessness occurs about three in the morning.

For some reason, we humans are hard wired to be our most vacuous around bed time. Maybe its a precursor to sleepy time; maybe its precursor to sex, of which, these days, I have very little knowledge.

Mindlessness plus TV? Oh God, could I please sit here forever?

Karl Marx once said, “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

Sorry Karl, it’s a flat screen and a pizza.

Is there anyway we can help you?

Get A Clue

As a drummer, my most important function is to keep time. In the 80’s I learned how to play live with sequences, time delay, arpeggiators and click tracks.

In another band, we were recording an album, with out click, and I could not get past the fourth song. I was second guessing every beat and drum stroke and psyched myself into failure. Red Light Fever, I call it; a fear of failure so intense that I was paralyzed. A Ringer had to be hired to play my parts. To overcome Red Light Fever, I began investing in recording equipment.

I needed to learn to hear incorrect intonation. At the outset, I assumed people who performed often knew what they were doing. Years of performing does not preclude correct technique. Bad habits can be reinforced by constant repetition. Thank God for auto tune, Melodyne, or what ever piece of software we might use to overcome incorrect performances.

Questioning the inaccuracies of my playing through years of lessons and association with better players.

Reading wave files of recording sessions and discovering my kick drum leads the rest of my limbs by 6 to 10 milliseconds. Still working on this one.

Learning to hear audio artifacts whether from editing or from recording performances. People stomp feet, click their tongues and teeth, leave strings open when they shouldn’t, grunt and create all sorts noise while they record. Some of it so subtle that it won’t be heard until Mastering.

Be it as it may, just a short, non complete list of things I needed to address to achieve competency.

Is there anything we can do to help?

The Third Place

There’s your family, there’s your job. In your life, where is the Third place you derive your sense of community?

It used to be church, or civic clubs, some sort of lodge, maybe the library. Nowadays, Starbucks has laid claim to being a place of gathering. All I see there are people with coffee and laptop, getting some work done; social interaction is minimal.

Social media may have some claim, but I see it as being a superficial outlet. I do not consider the internet as a sane or rational forum for discussion. For me, community is derived from face to face interaction and shared interest.

For those who are musically minded, may I suggest various jam sessions and song writing groups provide A Third Place. In my own experience, I have seen close friendships develop within those “communities”. In this age of Tweets and Instagram, I believe this is super healthy association.

Aren’t most of our successes realized with the help of others?

Can we help you?

Steve Smith and The Seattle Drum School: Part Three

Artist Focus

Steve is an intellectual heavy weight; a modern renaissance individual.

Look for Steve’s upcoming book, Keys To The City.

https://seattledrumschool.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiA4Y7yBRB8EiwADV1hacJP6X-VNbOAh-Xd08qO269OQv8IqjU_gPWFF3ApOSXSiFRL-NntORoCyr4QAvD_BwE

Part 3 of 3

Mackncheeze: What inspired you to become an audio engineer?

Steve: I love listening to music, that’s what got it started. When I was going to Central I didn’t have a lot of money, I always had to work, going home on weekends to teach lessons. I also had bands; to have a band you need a P.A. I had worked at Hanford, I saved my money, and so I bought a P.A.

My mom would freak out because I was always bringing home some piece of new gear……

Mackncheeze: Oh, it started early?

Steve: Very early. My mom would tell me that I could not afford another piece of gear. My response was, “It’s worth it. It’s going to help me.” She didn’t believe it. She wanted me to have a job with a health insurer.

It got to the point where I bought a bigger Yamaha Mixing Console and put it right in the middle of the family room. “Here Mom, look what I got.”

We also needed transport so I bought a van.

Mackncheeze: This is sounding familiar.

Steve: We needed a place to rehearse so I would get the house with a basement. We would have to have a demo.

Mackncheeze: How many band houses were you in?

Steve: 4 or 5, 6 or 10, I don’t know.

I bought a stereo tape deck, we would set up in the rehearsal space and then I would try to record. I had two mics, trying constantly to get the demos to sound like an album; constantly experimenting with placement. Then I bought a four track and the possibilities blew my mind. I just got hooked.

I graduated to an 8 track cassette recorder, a Tascam 688. That thing was killer; ended up recording a demo of Kristy’s and my band, Billy Moon. My former student, Bill Rieflin, drummer for R.E.M., heard a copy of that session and he thought it sounded really good. I ended up using that demo for a Disc Makers unsigned band contest. Out of 508 bands in five states we scored the highest, made it to the finals.

I love recording, love learning from it.

Mackncheeze: When did you buy your first outboard processor?

Steve: That was in 1996.

Mackncheeze: That’s 20 years of recording before you bought a compressor.

Steve: With the recording contract we had after the Disc Makers contest, I picked up 2 ADATs, and two Empirical Labs Distressors, we recorded tracks off my 16 channel Studio Master Console. The record label brought in Don Gilmore to mix the single at Stepping Stone studios, on an SSL 4000 G Plus. He spent ten and a half hours remixing our single. On play back I asked him a lot of questions, then we put up the original track and everyone was blown out. Don thought there was no reason to remix the tune.

We took that original track and remixed it in our studio, using my recently acquired knowledge from Don, two days later presenting it to our A and R person. I said to him, ” If I had a few choice pieces of gear I would be really good at this.” He told me to make a list and they would tack it on to the producers advance. That financed a lot of the really good gear I own. The mics, pre-amps and what not, including a Crane Song STC8. A lot of that gear is now on loan to Robert Lang Studios.

I am so blessed. I have put together another studio here at the Drum School. I get to record my wife, Kristy, who is an amazing singer/song writer, my band The 350’s, which are unreal, Danny Godinez and the stuff we have worked up with him. So blessed to be able to work with this caliber of people.

End of Part Three

Can we help you in any way?

Steve Smith and The Seattle Drum School: Part Two

Artist Focus

Steve is an intellectual heavy weight; a modern renaissance individual.

Look for Steve’s upcoming book, Keys To The City.

https://seattledrumschool.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiA4Y7yBRB8EiwADV1hacJP6X-VNbOAh-Xd08qO269OQv8IqjU_gPWFF3ApOSXSiFRL-NntORoCyr4QAvD_BwE

Part 2 of 3

Mackncheeze: With all that background, how did you come up with your Physics Analogies applied to your teaching methods?

Steve: It’s more of an intuitive understanding that I represent through music and rhythm. Frequencies and vibrations; everything is vibrating. There are no real particles; there are only particles when they are observed. Everything comes from waves and waves are basically constant frequencies.

In terms of music, you make rhythms that intersect with each other and create patterns. Like a 3/4 measure against a 4/4 measure. What is interpreted as a particle isn’t actually a particle until it is measured. You can measure 2 against 3, or 3 against 4, and those patterns become drum parts. They both come from the intersection of points. The concept is metaphoric, its poetry.

I read stuff about quantum physics, which I will reread 30 times. I’ll sit down to practice and I consider how form and matter relate to music. It can be argued that the same mathematical ratios that constitute music are the same ratios that constitute form and matter. It’s how things fit together.

There are certain things people say about music, if you think about it literally, people would say it is odd. “That drummer is solid.” Yeah, right. If you touch that person you can’t penetrate their skin. “The arrangement is solid.” What does that mean? To me that means the way the song is structured, the length of the verse and the chorus, the amplitude of each part and how it relates to the other parts, and the bridge, how all this fits together mathematically is how this all comes together as a pattern, or patterns, that all have order, with a magical musical contour that makes them work.

It’s like reading a great book; how much tension is there, when, how much conflict is there, and at what part of the story.

Two notes that are an octave apart; for every vibration of the bottom of the octave, the top is vibrating twice. That’s a two to one ratio, that’s the most harmonic interval in music. In matter, what is the most abundant compound on the planet? Water: H2O, two hydrogen atoms to one oxygen atom. What’s the most abundant compound gas on the planet? Carbon Dioxide: CO2, one part carbon to two parts oxygen. In molecules, the most common have the lowest ratios.

In music, the next most harmonic ratio is the perfect fifth. That’s a 2 against 3 ratio. The next is a perfect fourth, that’s a 4 against 3 ratio. In music, there are two kinds of meter: compound meter, which are groups of threes, and simple meter based on twos and fours and eights. Odd time signatures are combinations of both. These are defined by vibrating objects. Rhythm, drum set, everything I play, I can reduce down to these patterns.

The wave form that started the whole concept for my upcoming book, Keys To The City, I play 5 against 4 against 3 against 2 simultaneously, and it creates a chord. At 59 plus BPM, the chord is an A minor 7 , 2nd inversion, 8 octaves below middle C. When you slow down chords they become rhythms. These references are to mathematical frequencies. Rhythm turns into pitch.

My system of teaching drums is to show people how to understand time as hearing rhythm in tune. The most common thing people do when trying to get their time together is to tense up and rush. Basically what they are doing is playing sharp.

As well, I introduce the concept of singing these rhythms with their voice.

I have people play and sing in a continuum, as in a wave form. Similar to tuning a guitar with out a tuner. The strings are in tune when the wobbliness goes away; the strings are vibrating in sympathy with one another because they are in tune. With drums; playing rhythms that are in sympathy with one another. I teach people how to understand, from every point of view, what it is they are doing, all based on repetition.

End of Part Two

Can we help you in any way?

Steve Smith and The Seattle Drum School: Part One

Artist Focus

Steve is an intellectual heavy weight; a modern renaissance individual.

Look for Steve’s upcoming book, Keys To The City.

https://seattledrumschool.com/?gclid=CjwKCAiA4Y7yBRB8EiwADV1hacJP6X-VNbOAh-Xd08qO269OQv8IqjU_gPWFF3ApOSXSiFRL-NntORoCyr4QAvD_BwE

Part 1 of 3

Mackncheeze: Who are you?

Steve: I’m Steve Smith. My lot in life is that 34 years ago I started the Seattle Drum School. Most people know me by that achievement and I have had a lot of help building it, including my wife, Kristy, and this amazing staff. I play the drums, I also teach drums.

Mackncheeze: What was your education?

Steve: I earned a Bachelor of Music degree and a Master of Music degree. I have studied with the best people possible. Just had a lesson with Will Kennedy of the Yellow Jackets. Soon to be having a lesson with Peter Erskine from Weather Report.

Mackncheeze: What is your impetus for the Drum School?

Steve: I started formally teaching drums at 14. It seems to be an instinct and a passion. I like to see people grow and be excited about learning.

Mackncheeze: When did you get your first drum set?

Steve: My first drum set was my brother’s, of which he grew tired. It was a 1939 Gretsch kit, a 26 inch bass drum, with calf skin heads, cigarette burns and alcohol stains. I wish I still had that kit.

I was twelve and my brother was a couple of years younger. At seven I was actually playing Hawaiian lap steel guitar. I wanted to play regular guitar but my fingers weren’t big enough. After 2 years I graduated to Spanish Guitar, which was a Lyle Electric. I played that for a couple of years.

I joined the Tri Cities Drum and Bugle Corps in 1970. I fell in love with that. They put me on tenor drum, the ninth tenor drummer out of nine. I think they wanted to get rid of me because I was so bad. The drum was super heavy and I couldn’t play.

I taught myself how to read drum music, asking the snare drummers to teach the first lines of drum cadences. I would just analyze it. I’m good at math so I was able to deduce what meant what.

I didn’t really start to play drum kit till I was 18. I had some technique because I had drum corp training but I couldn’t swing. I learned how to play everything through pure determination, commitment and drive, not understanding proper technique or metronomic time.

Mackncheeze: The Hanford story is great; could you share that?

Steve: I’ve always been intrigued by science, my senior year in high school I got involved with one class. Only eight people could get in to it. You had to work to qualify. Go to school in the morning, study science and math, government and international relations, do studies and research projects, design experiments and run them.

Mackncheeze: You were 17?

Steve: We took one other class beside the curriculum; I took grammar, composition and revue. I’m grateful for the instructor because she taught me how to write.

In the afternoon we would go out and work at Hanford’s Nuclear Research Facility. I would hang out with really smart people in Nuclear Engineering. We did fast reactor dosimetry, materials testing and analysis for parts being used in experimental breeder reactors. One of the people I worked with had taught at Purdue, I could talk to him, he actually sounded like a human, he helped explain things to me.

They hired me full time during summer. That might have continued but a cover band hired me because I was the only drummer they could find. They were very ambitious and went on a hotel tour playing lounges 6 nights a week, paying me 200 to 250 bucks a week plus room and a meal a day. That was more fun than working at Hanford.

Mackncheeze: That was a great gig back then. Today, those gigs barely exist.

Steve: My Mom and my teachers were extremely disappointed in me, fearing I was going to change into an alcoholic lounge lizard. I managed to save $700 a month for one year with the intention of going to college.

I started at Columbia Basin College, trying to play in the jazz band, but better drummers were there that actually swung, so they were nice to me and let me sing in the jazz choir. That was a blessing because I actually learned ear training and how to sing. It’s funny how circumstances can change; where you feel you are being tortured and you end up being grateful.

The next year I went to Central Washington University. It has a very strong music program. I was a music major and took math and science courses to fulfill my requirements. I remember taking a college algebra advanced course and getting 100% on all my tests. The instructor told me to not bother with the final exam because even if I had a zero score, I would still pass with an A plus. I like math, being able to figure something out to the absolute, exact, definitive answer.

End of Part One

Can we help you?

Absurdity

The times are changing. It seems so much moves so quickly that is getting harder to keep up. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s my look of perceptive skills, probably, it’s the alcohol.

Looking for my sunglasses while I’m wearing them.

Another pointless meeting at the job.

One more cancelled studio date because people don’t block out their schedule.

Fellow band members not prioritizing – anything!!!!!

The endless revision in editing.

How many times you gonna edit this track?

For me, how many times must I repeat the same dumb habits that hold me back before I get a clue?

Stop monkeying around.

Can we help you in any way?

Happy Valentine’s Day

My girl friend and I had broken up at the beginning of February. As The 14 th. approached, I grew ever more nostalgic of our relationship. I suppose I missed close proximity with a woman I had spent a couple of years with. Having Einstein like qualities in my thought process, I decided I would begin the reconciliation of our love on Valentine’s Day.

Chocolates, flowers and a Teddy Bear; a perfect way to convey my true sentiments.

On my way over to her house, my cell phone notifies me of a text. I pull over before looking at my phone. Eric, my bass player friend: “Dude, our drummer crapped out on our gig tonight. You available?”

What the Hell was I thinking. I threw Teddy, candy and flowers out the window, drove off, chasing my dream.

Can we help you with your passion?

Driving By Braille

Why not drive without head lights? Isn’t that what curbs and side walks were made for? Just kind of feel your way down the street risking flat tires. For a time it seemed to partially work.

Example Number One: I spent a year traveling with a band that disregarded our booking agents parameters. The only reason we weren’t fired sooner was because the rooms we played liked us. I had a nagging concern that we were not fitting to the standards adhered to by the other acts they managed. Too much pot, not enough focus. I walked away from that one.

Example Number Two: For the longest time, without knowing my destination, I desired success in my ventures. Early twenties, on the road, missing part of my grey matter, as clueless as can be, thinking I had arrived, not understanding how lacking my associations were.

Today I see the destination; lots of water under the bridge. I now understand what I sight in the cross hairs can morph, letting the target evolve, discarding previous conceptions…Making sure whatever I seek aligns with my passion.

Can we help you with your passion?

Life Is Precious

Back in the day, when gigs were booked by the week, we played a one month stint in small coastal town. Four live music venues, tons of bars, and some pretty good restaurants. The local industry survived on fishing. Quite a prosperous place.

In a town such as this, it was quite natural to develop close friendships with said citizens. I, and others in the band, would be invited to people’s homes, met families, shared meals; amazing hospitality.

One February night, gale force winds were pummeling the coast line; because of weather, the club was deserted. Halfway through our third set, one of the locals came in and announced that 13 men had perished that evening. Three boats had gone down.

Locals took news like this badly; a sense of sorrow and loss pervaded for weeks. I would have never been impacted as greatly on news such as this should the event have occurred in my home town.

That night has stuck with me my whole life. Life is precious, family is precious, friends are precious. I try not to forget and not take life for granted.

Is there anyway we can help you?

Terry Jones

Guest Blog By Todd Ainsworth

I’m not dead yet!

Unfortunately, that’s not quite true anymore for Terry Jones of Monty Python fame.

We, who “got” the Monty Python humor ( and I remember many of my friends when I was younger didn’t ) were saddened on January 21st. by the news of his passing. Now, with Graham Chapman, two of the six geniuses who were Monty Python’s Flying Circus, are gone.

One of the final scenes in “The Meaning Of Life” has Burt Bacharach singing, “It’s Christmas In Heaven”, and I hope Terry and Graham are hanging out together again, if that’s “wha’ it’s all about.”

My introduction to Monty Python changed my life.

I didn’t know I needed it, but when I found it, I realized I wasn’t alone with my weirdness and “strange” sense of humor. I had already found Benny Hill, but it wasn’t the same; Hill was more vaudeville and had less biting satire.

As the show’s run on American TV was ending, there was a marathon on PBS that I stumbled upon and I must have watched for hours – laughing uncontrollably as a piano player got his arm ripped off and a fountain of blood spewed from the socket! Good times.

The unflinching look in the mirror the Circus took led me to realize that we have to laugh at ourselves and our society in general. That may be the only way to make progress…to point out how ridiculous we really all are, coming together in agreeing…”We’re all crazy.”

This isn’t as funny as it should be, but I didn’t expect some sort of Spanish Inquisition!

RIP, Terry…and now for something completely different.

Can we help you in any way?

Cognitive Dissonance

I’m stressed out. I believe I am the Cat’s Meow of players but the best of the best are not flocking to play with me. I don’t want to believe I am an average player but perhaps the proof lies in the pudding. Evidently I have an area of my brain that wants to avoid adversive outcomes.

Sounds like I’m taking an easy way out of my circumstances and rationalizing information that does not agree with my perceptions.

The fact of the matter is, if the work is not put in the outcome desired probably is not happening. Also, my associations may not be in line with my life goals. If nothing changes, nothing changes. You can’t expect different results by doing the same process over and over again; a definition of insanity.

Here’s to altering my behavior to fit my expectations.

Cheers, have another glass of Kool-Aid, Mr. Jones.

Can we help you?

With The Sea On The Horizon

And The Future In My Hands….

I’m not sure about you, but for me, I love looking out upon the ocean shores, looking at the expanse of the sea, peering into the horizon. My God, regardless of the weather, its so beautiful. And peaceful.

I could just sit and watch and write and let it pull me in, inspiring me.

The pounding of the waves, the smell of salt in my nostrils, the cawing of the gulls.

An escape from the city, the pressures, the BS, the people, the expectations.

Memories of driftwood fires on the beach, building driftwood forts and crab pots off the pier.

I wish I had time for a pooch. I would love to release said dog on the beach, watching Fido reign in birds that will never be caught. I almost cry, it tugs my heart so hard.

My God, I love this place.

Can we help find your place?

Bad Gig

Outdoor venue, great PA, big stage, no covering on stage; open to the elements.

One of the great analog synths, still a player.

Its the 80’s. Our keyboard players are running Roland and Oberheim gear.

I’m running a hybrid: acoustic snare, Paiste cymbals, Pearl DRX 1 Analog Drum Kit with an Emulator sample package for the kick drum, and Roland 707 Drum Machine.

We carried our own monitor system because most venues at that time were not set up for all the electronics and our stage reinforcement needs. Lots of sequencing, arpeggiation and digital delay timing.

Half way through the show the sky opens up and drenches us. The sickening feeling of pouring water out of the Pearl Drum Pads and watching one of the keyboard players drain water from his OB-8. I can’t even imagine how the sound company felt.

Total garbage and crap. Shame on the promoter for lack of attention to detail; shame on us for taking the gig. Stupidity.

Fast forward 17 years. Outdoor festival in the desert, middle of August. I’m playing a Roland TD-10 kit, the keyboard player is using Yamaha and Korg gear. One hundred and six degrees on stage, no canvas or protection over the stage, open to the elements. Our LCD displays turn to liquid, not able to read programs. My rubber cymbals melt. Total garbage and crap. Shame on the promoter; shame on us for taking the gig. My Mama always said, “Stupid is as stupid does.”

Keep your eyes open. It’s not always about the next gig.

Can we help you in anyway?

Artist Focus – Jonny Durango

Audio Engineer, Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Writer, Arranger

The Crew at the MOB: Josh, Zech, Jonny and Dean

Mackncheeze: Who are you?

Jonny: Oh, Man. I’m a human man. I’m a person who has always just loved music, it’s one of the things in this world that has made sense to me. As I grow older, I’m starting to see other things that are contributing to my existence.

I was more cynical as a kid; it was about the money and the system and the Man, man. As I grew up I realized it’s actually not so bad. For me, as a teenager, music was really the only thing that held it together. It was pure and made sense and gave me this emotional rush and vibe. Songs would pop into my head. Dreams would come up a lot.

When I was a kid I wanted to be an inventor or a scientist. I was one of those geeky kids studying lasers, magnets and holograms; taking stuff apart. It’s in my blood. My Grandpa was that way. He was the old man equivalent to me, representing part of the industrial revolution. His shop full of old Model T parts, wood working vices and all this crazy stuff. I got this bug from him.

Mackncheeze: Where did you learn all that you know about vintage equipment?

Jonny: It started as a kid. You have to have a pretty decent foundation in science, in general, and a foundation in how things work. I had a book called How Things Work. I would go through the book to see how gears and pulleys would work and all this different stuff. That really helps when you start layering those abstractions to higher levels, like electrons and stuff like that. A lot of You Tube videos. Lots of trial and error and fucking stuff up. When the magic smoke appears, I conclude my understanding wasn’t correct.

Mackncheeze: You’re not joking about the magic smoke?

Jonny: In the world of electroninics: you can think you understand it, but there is no subjectivity, it’s not like politics or social media. When there is magic smoke, you have been proved that you are wrong, and when you are wrong , you have to go back and figure it out. You have to figure out what electrons want to do, where they want to go.

Mackncheeze: The level you are at, there are absolutes….

Jonny: Yeah, definitely. If you got something blowing up, or you get zapped, or your circuit doesn’t work, that’s that.

Mackncheeze: Is that a comforting place?

Jonny: Yeah. I like the world of logic and rationality. That world has intrinsic beauty. Like mathmatics. It’s counter intuitive to the music thing.

Mackncheeze: What is your educational background?

Jonny: Basic High School.

Mackncheeze: You studied music, didn’t you?

Jonny: Not really. I literally stayed at home and played guitar for six to eight hours a day; obsessed, laser vision. I was sixteen and this was the time before You Tube tutorials. The best you could hope for would be finding some tablature, most of it inaccurate.

I had a CD player boom box. I would put on Stevie Ray Vaughn or B.B. King. It had a rewind feature with play/pause, one note at a time, learn it, move to the next note. For a while, I also took Flamenco Guitar lessons.

When I went to school for digital audio engineering, they made us take pretty basic keyboard theory which was really helpful, especially with writing. Afterward, I started thinking about taking it a lot deeper and almost went to Berklee in Boston. That involved a lot of money and a lot of debt. I saw the trap coming down the horizon.

Mackncheeze: The Fat Kids have been a big part of your life and you have toured with them.

Jonny: Yep. Its been seven or eight years ago. We decided to go on tour, no recording contract, just mainly for fun.

Our drummer is a pilot. We flew down to Portland looking for a bus, ended up buying one from a Mega Church in Kirkland. We put a lot of work in, creating sleeping quarters, bathroom and kitchen.

We did two and half tours with that thing, it finally broke down in Weed, California.

The Fat Kids is a great band, but I’m really pumped on a concept that could play all genres, from Rap to Heavy Metal to Flamenco to Surf Music to Gospel, you name it. There is merit to almost every style of music.

The way I write songs, they just pop in to my head, full verse, chorus, bridge, lyrics, melody, harmony, it’s all there. With the Fat Kids I couldn’t do old schoool country or old school gospel or hard rock songs.

With this base , I want to get the studio up and running. A real legit studio with digital and analog, with a lot of different rooms, video capabilities, different audio capabilities. One day I might be doing a modern pop song and the next doing a vintage thirties style jazz recording.

You’ll notice with the studio’s gear, I have modern designed gear as well as vintage old school counter parts.

Really looking forward to working more with the studio and getting away from the touring , as much as I like it.

Mackncheeze: Whats the vision for the MOB?

Jonny: First and foremost, we really want to have cool stuff coming out. We have a good team; paying the bills, staying in the black. The dream would be to have a Motown style of thing, recording, writing, creating hits.

Mackncheeze: What are the top sites you hit.

Jonny: A lot of time on You Tube, geeking out on electrical videos, applied science, prototyping stuff, how to build different things, philosophy, random podcasts.

Mackncheze: Is that firing you up?

Jonny: Yeah, a lot of audio books. Going through some pretty cool stuff.

Mackncheeze: What books and authors do you recommend?

Jonny: Hunter S. Thompson; David Goggins’ book, You Can’t Hurt Me, great stuff; a huge fan of Ayn Rand; The 50th Law; The 7 Habits of Highly Effective people has some useful stuff in it; Jordan Peterson’s The 12 Rules For Life; The Greater Courses; a lot of geeky stuff.

Mackncheeze: What’s your biggest struggle?

Jonny: Overcoming the results of depression. Since I was a kid I have been manic depressive. I went to a shrink for a while and tried Zoloft, Wellbutrin, Prozac. That shit would make me way worse; I would go from a two week cycle to a one hour cycle. It’s what got me into philosophy; trying to make sense of the world without completely changing my psychology with pills.

It’s quite a challenge to overcome: Going to the gym and being healthy, using philosophy, taking on as much personal responsibilty as I can and not making excuses for anything. The David Goggins’ book helped a whole lot.

Exercise is essential; one single factor that will change your outlook.

Mackncheeze: Whats the most exciting thing you have ever encountered?

Jonny: The first tour we did with the band. It was like so many great things wrapped into one. A little miniature Jack Kerouac adventure, but you’re with your friends, playing music, travelling, seeing new cities, that was awesome.

If there is a junky high in music that I’m trying to chase, that’s it.

Mackncheeze: What’s your greatest association?

Jonny: In some ways its like apples and oranges. My Dad, Zech Valette, Josh Menache. I have spent the last 10 to 20 years weeding out those who are not compatible with me. The folks who are in my circle of friends are good people who I actually connect with.

Mackncheeze: The most important thing you want to say?

Jonny: The world is very divided. I wish people could genuinely put themselves in other’s shoes. Most people in the world do not wake up in the morning and say to themselves, “I am going to be as shitty as I can today.” Most people are trying to get by and do a good job and put food on their table and not be dirt bags. If people could put themselves in other’s shoes with that in mind, it would lead to much better things coming out of the world.

Mackncheeze: I concur. Thanks!

Jonny: Sweet.

Toxic People

We all know them. We all run in to them. They are everywhere. I say, “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

The socio-political landscape is full of them.

My neighborhood is full of them.

The grocery store is full of them.

The streets are full of them.

Then there is your job.

The best solution: distant yourself as much and as far away as possible. If the toxic person is a good friend then perhaps a later time to re-associate yourself with them will work out. Your survival and sanity is paramount.

Need help with something? Please contact us.

Rhythmic Harmony Part 2

Guest Blog by Finn

Music Geek Stuff

Today we will look at one of my favorite tools. The Baiou’ rhythm and its modes. Baiou’ is pronounced Bayonne (The spelling? Someone kept yelling ” I’ld like a vowel, Vanna”).

You’ll need paper and pencil for this one. This is Linear Harmony as opposed to Vertical Harmony.

Draw a square and divide it into 64 symmetrical parts. Number them down the left side 1 thru 8. Number the top this way: 1 + 2 + 3 + 4, because we will be working with, you guessed it, eighth notes. The top line will be marked with dots in square 1; 2 and a half (+ of 2) and 4.

If you go to line 2 (down one), you can make the same spacing but to the right one box: + 1; 3 and + of 4. Follow this idea on lines 3 thru 8 and you will have the The Modes of Baiou’, each time moving each dot by one box. It should look like connect-the-dots.

I recently used mode number 3 as a Hi-hat pattern for the first measure of a two measure phrase, putting beat 1 at the beginning of measure two.

Feel free to make a copy of what you have drawn to take advantage of the two measure phrase. Or make a four measure model and you will be glad you did once you see the possibilities.

But lets start by making two measure examples.

Think of the odd numbered lines as resolution and the even ones as tension.

Line 6 is interresting because the two off beats would tend to make it a tension line, but it has a nice big fat 1 that makes it usable as a resolution line if you combine it with any other tension line (I tried using a pie chart but I think you can guess how that ended up).

Write a ton of your own examples.

Just for kicks, take three lines of a tension line and make the fourth a resolution line.

Take any line and make it a mirror image of itself.

Take line one and a pair of scissors and group the beats in reverse.

Anything that is musically useful goes.

Have fun! But keep a straight jacket handy…

Can we help you in any way?

Rythmic Harmony

Guest Blog By Finn

Music Geek Stuff

Lets use the example of a bass drum and a kick drum part. Lets say I decide to match each note of the bass and the kick drum. This would be an example of Rhythmic Unison.

Now lets say I decide to add kick drum only to those bass notes that need extra weight (anchoring) or extra movement (momentum). This would be an example of Rhythmic Harmony.

The point is that unison can be useful at times, but in my work, Rhythmic Harmony usually gives me more bang for the buck.

If I overdo it, a bad harmony is created; the notes do not complement each other. If I use too few notes, it may lack energy.

Must The Kick Drum Notes Always Be Married To The Bass?

If my bass line covers only a measure and a half of a two bar phrase, does that mean the bass drum has to stop?

All of this is very simple , but it is best to start from a place of total clarirty if the concept is to work.

I recently finished a composition that uses a two measure kick drum pattern like this: 1; ‘and’ of 2; 4; ‘and’ of 1, and 3 (some of you may recognize this polyrythm). The ‘feel’ or through-line of the piece was a hi-hat of eighth notes accenting downbeats 1, 2, 3, and 4. So, how did I get these patterns, hi-hat and kick drum, to connect with each other?

After trying many ideas, I noticed that opening the hat on ‘and’ of 2 and closing on beat 3 gave me what I needed. The kick drum was already giving me all the beats in question; it was just a question of a balanced connection between the two.

I could have accented those beats on the hat, but the feel I wanted would have been compromised. Better in this case to use other instruments, including the bass, to create harmony. For me, the kick drum by itself did not do it. By putting the ‘and’ of 2 on the open hi-hat, the first measure was now connecting on 1; ‘and’ of 2, and 4, thus creating enough of a Rhythmic Harmony to connect the two patterns.

It comes down to avoiding two things: overstatement and understatement, and this varies from one harmony to the next.

Can we help you in any way?

Depression

The grim truth; many of my artist type friends have depression running in their gene pool. It is in my family as well; seemingly prevalent in the families of creative types. One study shows entrepreneur start up founders, who are extremely creative people, revealing 50% with mental conditions and a 30 % depression rate.

The challenge with depression is that there are hundreds of markers that vary from individual to individual. With all the variables in persons affected there is incongruity in overall consensus regarding identification, diagnosis and treatment.

Many of my friends tell me that they needed to be more aware of their mental space and to keep pills and sharp objects out of reach. It’s not a joke. Those close to me have taken years to figure out triggers, medications and therapies. The path to ‘normalcy’ can be long and arduous.

Interestingly, everyone I know with Depression Symptoms are amazingly talented and brilliant people. I scratch my head in wonder. Why this curse?

The best course is to be there for them, listen with empathy, and give them a hand when they need the help. I would hope I would heed my own words.

Is there anything we can do to help you?

Happy Holidays

Wishing all a great Holiday Season and a Big Shout Out for all Those Supporting Mackncheeze Music.

Thank You!!!!

What to Expect in the Coming Year.

We are going to be focusing on creative folks of all types in a large variety of different endeavors; Photography, Filmography, Custom Instruments, Writers and, of course, Musicians.

Super excited about the up coming year’s possibilities.

If we can help you, please contact us.

Drama

Got that right; I love the whiners who whine about the whiners. How about taking a few seconds and listening to what it is you are actually whining about. I have found that those who complain the most are usually on the weaker part of the chain. The weakest link; Right?

I get to decide how much of my life is tragedy or comedy. No one else controls me.

I have no time for this. All of you who are whining who think I’m listening, I’m actually not. I smile, nod my head, maybe agree with you to get you to shut up, and move on.

I don’t have time for your drama.

Can we seriously help you?

Michael Clune and Moondance

Artist Focus

https://www.facebook.com/Moondance-Van-Morrison-Tribute-1851895661575428

Mackncheeze: Who are you?

Michael: I am my friendships and relationships. I am very blessed that my friendships are from all over the world. My glass of water, I can honestly say, is half full or close to full. I work hard to keep it that way.

Its music, or what I do to motivate myself, or sitting practicing scales, or whatever I want to accomplish.

I am well supported on the planet.

Musically, I have always been drawn to very good vocalists, Stevie Wonder, Billy Joel, Michael McDonald. Motivationally, great jazz players. I’m like every other player; I need inspiration.

I really enjoy a great melody coupled with great vocals. I’ve always been partial to Black Music and Swing. Classic Rock, I would call a squared off sort of rhythmic structure. I have experienced those, and they really don’t do a whole lot for me. I’ve always had swing in my music, one way or another. I was born with a quarter note triplet in my blood.

I have been thinking about the bands I have been with through the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and Millennials and how much they have really defined what I was doing and accomplishing. The last twenty years I have been trying to focus more on being a singer/songwriter, more of a front line approach.

I am focused on producing videos for my first album, Easy Street, and for current musical projects. Its really the task at hand.

Mackncheeze: What is Moondance?

Michael: A Van Morrison Tribute band, comprised of five really solid musicians who really enjoy Van Morrison’s music. We have great respect for Van who has been recording since the 60’s and even today is doing it at a very high level of success, which is really amazing.

Moondance captures the essence of the really great vibe of Morrison’s poetic ballads and pop tunes. We are not an orthodox tribute band; we don’t play note for note, but we certainly capture the essence, intros and hooks. We also inject solos within the arrangements, because we have accomplished people who know how to improvise.

Mackncheeze: What are your passions?

Michael: As a Berklee drummer, I would like to be playing drums in some sort of intelligent ensemble. I grew up being a drummer and vocalist, for me, those usually went hand in hand.

I just wrote a song called, Say Goodbye, looking forward to recording that. I’ve also recently written a more modern, hip-hop kind of song.

Presently I’m feeling very creative. This year, after taking a trip to Europe and visiting friends in Germany, Poland and Iceland, I had a switch come on. I can be inspired to write music by walking down the street. I’m learning how to make it tangible. Its the combination of things; the video perspective of capturing an image, learning how to listen better, conversations inspiring a lyric or a feeling, something I can visually see.

I love singing. Talk about passion. These ballads, when I sing these songs, I sing them to the bone, I feel them and I think about my own life and how the songs interact with the lyrics.

Presently, it’s an exciting, creative time. Considering the lack of sun in the Northwest, this is a good thing.

Mackncheeze: You are your sun. Whats the most exciting thing you have ever encountered ?

Michael: Helping deliver my daughter. She was born in the back seat of Volkswagen Bug. I was in the backseat with a midwife, as we were on the way to a hospital after forty two hours of labor.

My passion list would actually be long; things that actually changed my life. Moving from the east coast in ’74, ’75. Playing in front of 85,000 people at Seattle’s Bumbershoot when it was in Pioneer Square. In 1986, playing at the World Expo in Vancouver, British Columbia . Bake’s Place, Moondance, August 2019, the only band to sell out the club on a Friday night. Being debt free and a home owner; anomolous for most musicians. There are alot of successes.

My health and my music are somewhat intertwined. Right now it’s about being in the trenches and disciplining myself everyday, everyday. I’m learning that more and more.

Mackncheeze: What are your struggles?

Michael: Writer’s block, that’s been a struggle. I’m trying to write down everything: documenting, documenting, documenting.

Mackncheeze: Anything else?

Michael: I’m really thankful for all my friends. And Jasper, my Maine Coon Cat. What would we do without our cats?

Mackncheeze: Alright, Buddy. Thankyou.

Is there anyway way we can help you?

Practice Safe Sound

Yeah, Baby. I want to keep my hearing. Entropy has decided to work against me, so I fight back.

Every practice session, every rehearsal; ear plugs. Reviewing tracks; I listen at extremely low volumes, often times in mono, mixing off my IPhone, mixing off head phones set across the room, referencing Blue Tooth speakers in close proximity.

At 10 to 15 db, I make sure I can hear every instrument, placed in proper perspective, panning in place.

Here’s an important note: at very low decimal volume, inaccuracies in performance jump out. Not only must the mix sit well at high volume, it must sit well low. High volume playback easily punches, not so much low volume.

Keeping my hearing is crucial.

Depending on the gig I may, or may not, where ear protection. At extremely high volume, yes, definitely. At lower volumes, depends.

A snare hit, even with a bundled stick, can register at 140 db., so it is best to be careful.

For two years I played next to a Marshall Stack. The result was an eardrum which would pop at the slightest high frequency sound. That took years to heal.

I marvel at my fellow players who never even consider protecting their hearing. Those cymbal crashes certainly can’t be fun, especially from the high frequency sizzle. Yikes!

I have great friends who espouse custom fit ear plugs. The cost can be prohibitive. My challenge with those kind of ear plugs is the same as reading glasses, they are easily misplaced. The cheapest hearing protection is toilet paper wadded into my ear canal. Good enough for George Jones, good enough for me.

Is there anything we can do to help?

Island Time

Have you ever lived on an Island? Is “Laid Back” a term you would use for island life?

This mind set actually exists, having lived on an island and experiencing it myself. For many, regardless of ability, attainment, and professional accolades, this pattern is endemic.

Why? I don’t get it. I can’t be late for my job. Isn’t the pursuit of musical endeavors a commitment to work with others? Aren’t others expecting realiablity from their fellow collaborators?

I used to take it personally. No more. Its not a judgement on me. I am not responsible for my peer’s behavior.

In my experience, this challenge exists on every level of musical success. I just shrug my shoulders. How does anything get done? How do these businesses succeed? Why am I not able to take a person’s word at face value? Perhaps these are rhetorical questions.

What I have learned is to take my fellow musicians with a grain of salt. Creatives can pulled in so many different directions in so many different ways that their mind’s focus on the most important tasks at hand regardless of prior commitments or ideas.

The issue at hand is not my fellow musicians actions, its my relationship to those actions.

My favorite situations are when I have comfirmed place, date and time and no one shows up. Passive Aggressive behavior? In most circumstances, no. I chalk it up to habits of distraction and inattentiveness.

My survival is dependent on planning; always having plan B, C and D in place. Options make the difference. When so and so doesn’t show up or is late, what task is at hand in which I can make some progress in lieu of said players nonappearance?

Besides, my vision of success lies in my mind, not anyone else’s. I am totally dependent upon me.

Anyone along for the ride?

Can we help you with your plan?

Today Was A Good day

I, for one, am happy to be alive. I have my health, my mind is somewhat right ( my friends may differ ), friends, a loving family, I am well fed, have a warm bed to sleep in, income ………the list goes on.

I do suffer from a slough of first world problems. These challenges mean very little in the big scheme of things.

The person in the grocery line holding us up because they forgot an item or have fouled up the payment method. Stuck in rush hour. A fellow coworker who whines incessantly while in the habit of under performing. Prima Dona Players. Politicians, AAAAAAAARG!!!

Hey, another day this side of green; doesn’t sound that bad.

If there is any way we can help, please contact us.

Don’t Drink The Kool Aid

I should not make light of this, but the fact of the matter is if you aren’t all in, you’re not all in. Hence the purpose of this blog. It could be argued I’m not all in either, because most of my income is earned outside of music. Seriously looking to change that.

All you can do is all you can do. We all face limitations, but how many of those limitations have been conceived in our own minds? Is it a road block or an excuse?

If I drink Too Much Kool Aid Will I Become This Guy?

Non Sequitor

Vodka’s not such a bad thing,

especially mixed with barbituates.

Good for the whole house.

There is a lot to said for fanaticism. The folks I know who are really doing it are truly, absolutely rabid about their chosen path. Hell or High Water; Wind, Rain or Weather, Hell Bent For Leather…What else is there? There is no choice.

I suppose this is my point: Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it. Are you prepared for the process and the results of the outcome?

Is there anything we can do to help facilitate your dream?

The Labor Is The Reward

Yeah, you got that right. It is the love of music which sustains me. The love of the people, the process and the execution. What God given talents I have been blessed with have only been the starting point; a flame that kindled. Continually feeding that fire is the process. More accomplishment, greater love, more desire for accomplishment; and the wheel turns.

What is wealth when all is said and done? What is accomplishment? That is for each one of us to decide.

I believe the money thing relates to our physical well being, with out it we don’t eat, Baby.

The accomplishment thing relates to my mental well being; when things aren’t in motion I start to vibrate.

Amen and Amen.

When I was seven I failed as a pianist. I now blame that on my instructor because kids need to be able to be kids, and he was a kid too. He was forced by his mother to teach me, and being seventeen, he had better things to do on Saturday mornings than teach the brat next door how to play piano. He hated teaching and I absorbed the hate.

I still fiddle with the piano.

Then at twelve my mates wanted to be drummers. Television taught me that girls really dig musicians. There you have it. Guilty of creating the affectations of my environment. The lessons began.

Let the humiliations continue.

By the way, the women did not care about me being a musician till I was in my twenties. Then they cared, greatly.

But that’s another story.

Till this day, all I want to be is better at my craft. The more accomplished I become, the more passion reigns in my heart. The more passion, the more desire for attainment. More turns of the wheel.

Keep on keepin’ on.

Is there any thing we can do for you?

The Seasons Of My Life

Guest Blog by Marvin Manning ( My Uncle )

Written at age 94

As I move through the seasons of my life and summer turns to fall, I find that the Golden Years are not so golden after all.

The junk food that I loved so much has been replaced with lettuce, celery, carrots and such, and the steaks I thought so fine now taste like old sawdust seasoned well with pine.

The golf balls I could hit with ease now fade from sight as I approach the tees, and the fly line that I could cast so neat now falls in a pile near my wobbly feet.

The rides that I would so joyfully take about the countryside has been replaced with trips to offices where doctors, dentists and chiropractors preside, and the strolls around the neighborhood with a dog along are just a memory of days so quickly gone.

The best clothes that I could afford to buy are hanging in a closet shrinking down in size, and my feet which good leather would adorn now hosts calluses, bunions and corns.

My hands which could tie flys so nice sometimes feel like chunks of ice, and the grip which I could apply force now drop spoons, knives and forks. As they are not steady and shake while I eat, I need to wear a bib just to keep myself clean and neat, when a meal is over and I can eat no more, you can safely bet there will be a mess upon the floor.

My ancient ears miss many sounds such as the doorbell ringing when company comes around, and my voice once clear and strong now loses power when I talk too long.

Things falling to the floor are an irritation beyond compare simply because I cannot bend down to pick them up from there, and trying to get an item from the cabinet shelf up high is frustrating and just not woth the try.

Good penmanship is not a forte of mine, but what happens when I sit down to write is purely asinine. Sentences wander aimlessly about the sheet and words bunch together like a flock of frightened sheep. But while lined paper solves the sentence problem, and a detailed and tedious approach to keeping words apart help matters much, I can’t help but think when I review my work that it sure looks a lot like chicken scratches in the dirt.

Sleep I much adore and will try nearly anything for more. But when bedtime comes about and my body responds to discomfort caused by bursitus, arthrits and gout, I lose good sleep just spreading gels, liniments and ointments about. Then just as I think I have control, my dear old bladder signals it is full and to the bathroom we must go.

As my balance is not too good and my legs don’t function the way they should, I use grab bars, walkers and canes to avoid falling about the house. And being equally cautious, I avoid certain recliners, rockers and couches, for if I get too close, they may entice me to sit down and then keep me there until help comes around.

My days start early in the morning when there is little doubt I can complete the tasks of my personal care while no one else is up and wandering about. These are many and include only a few of the more common, such as bathing, shaving and flossing, which I assume most male people do. When these are finished I sit down with a cup of coffee freshly perked and check to see how much time was spent in performing what was once thirty minutes of work.

Since my early childhood I have been dressing myself with ease, wearing whatever, whenever I pleased. But back then I was blessed with being flexible and didn’t realize that anything could be so difficult as putting on my clothes – that fabric sticks together like it has been painted on with glue, that buttons don’t always align with opposing buttonholes, that what I need to grip is beyond my fingertips, and that clothes can be snagged by my bigger toes. And then, when I am trying to dress and not accomplishing much, I often wonder why industry has not built a robot that can do this kind of stuff

My eyesight is not as good as I expected it to be, but what I didn’t expect was double vision and just how entertaining it can be. For if I place an object on a surface that is flat, I can play my version of the old shell game by trying to determine precisely where it is at. But I am being facetious here, for I find in this particular ailment that getting two for one is not really all that fun.

This I have saved for last as it involves my wife who has shared a great portion of my past and who now has dementia, requiring constant care and attention. As part-time caregivers deal with the most critical and difficult of these, the leftovers are the responsibilty of untrained me. While this particular phase of my life has been somewhat devestating, the results achieved for coping with it have been more than somewhat satisfying, which causes me too truly feel that I am succesfully performing the most important job with which I have ever had to deal.

The changes mentioned here have mostly happened over many years and now reflect one thing quite clear: the downsides of getting old and being old will prevent them from ever having a glitter equal to that of shiny gold.

Thanks for reading.

If there is anyway in which we can help you, please contact us.

I Have A Dream

I once dreamt I was a chicken. I am not sure what the underlying psychology of chicken dreams means in relationship to reality; but there it is.

Cocking my head and eyeing the gravel, looking for that kernel of corn. Thrusting my beak towards that tidbit of seed, grabbing it and swallowing it down my gullet. Feeling it reside in my crop, my stomach turns to acid. Seems the previous evenings pizza turned my belly, ensuing to chicken perceptions of existence.

What Are Your Dreams?

My dreams are not as all encompassing as those who dream of the betterment of Human kind. My dreams are self centered aspirations for the betterment of Bryan Kind. Call me selfish and self centered. Ain’t no one taking care of me when I’m 95 except the hired help.

I Want To Reach For the stars

All kidding aside, hope and aspiration drive me. After all these years I can honestly say, “When I’m not at the job I am living the dream.”

Interspersed with the dream is a constant reminder of how much further I need to go.

Fat Fingers

Last weekend I had plans to do a three camera live video and audio shoot of a gig I was playing. My audio interface has the possiblility of recording 24 tracks simutaneously. Thursday evening was spent linking ADAT light pipe to the Focusrite and laptop. I get to the gig and spend two hours preparing for the shoot. Ten tracks to audio, two cameras runninng independently and one video cam off the Mac. Plug everything in, and, viola, no audio to Logic Pro. Spending another hour trying to figure out what command I Fat Fingered, I gave up. Better to keep my cool and play well than to end an evening of joy in pure frustration.

The path to success is littered with failure. There’s a lot of litter on my path.

Thanks for reading. Onward and upward.

If there is anything we can do for you please contact us.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Another Night Buried in the Trenches at The Metropolitan Grill

I love to play music, I love to record, and, to the best of my abilities, I love to produce music. But what I also love is a super cool job, health insurance and stability. Call me double minded.

I have been a Sommelier with a restaurant group for the last 29 years, the last 16 spent at The Metropolitan Grill in Seattle. We are one of 91 restaurants in the world which have been recognized by the Wine Spectator as a Grand Award Winning Wine List.

Yes, my friend, I am blessed with a super cool and exciting life and feel so incredibly grateful for the opportunities given me.

One of four wine rooms at my Sommelier gig.

I have always juggled my love of music with my love of food and wine. They seem to be inextricably linked. Both are expressions of my inner most passions. Maybe I have hedonistic tendencies………ok, I have hedonistic tendencies; passion reigns in my interests.

The biggest challenge is juggling a job, requiring working evenings, week ends and holidays, with music, which usually requires gigging evenings, week ends and holidays. The days are pretty free, however, and I am not strapped with a teaching gig. Working around all this is super challenging and frustrating. My heart is in the music; my belly pays the bills.

Thanks for taking the time.

If we can help you in any way, please contact us.

Superpower

I have been reading a lot about tapping in to my super power. Most people who know me know that I am not super powerful, which is disappointing to myself since my own self expectations are so high.

I wish I wasn’t prone to error. I wish I would not forget arrangements. I wish that a fellow musician’s bad meter would not affect me.

Shouldn’t I be able to transcend bad meter? If I could have just one super power that would be it.

Another super power I wish I had – I wish that I would not suffer from Delayed Intelligence; also known as CRS syndrome. I have heard it’s terminal. I don’t know how many times I have thought back on a situation and said to myself, ” I wish I had said that!”

What are your super powers?

I can’t control elements, don’t have Telepathy, Telekinesis is out (for sure), nope on time travel, Super Speed is not my specialty ( yet I’m still working on those paradiddles ), Invulnerability ( just ask my last girlfriend about that ), Super Strength ( Hah ), Teleportation ( I’m still stuck here ).

The best super power I can actually think of is Association. Yeah, if I have one super power, that’s it. Association: My family, my friends, my mentors.

After all, maybe thats the best super power there is.

If there is anyway we can help you, please contact us.

Ice-T At The RKCNDY, 1992

Guest Blog By Todd Ainsworth

By the time I heard that Ice-T was going to play the RKCNDY, I had been listening to him since “Power”, which came out in 1989; along with Public Enemy, NWA and others. Some of my “Rock Only” friends looked at me sideways and wondered why. I knew I was going to see Ice-Motherfucking-T!

You might remember the uproar over “Cop Killer” and the attention it got from then president, George Bush. Not “Mission Accomplished” George, but, “Read My Lips”, George. The chain of events that led to that song being banned and deleted from future copies of the Body Count Album are worth revisiting, if you are interested in how business, politics, religious groups and the First Amendment are thrown into a blender. The record company removed the CD from the shelves until they re-released it with out the “offending” song.

I still have my original pressing copy of the CD, complete with “Cop Killer” on it.

But I digress.

I had 2 tickets and as the day of the show came around, I was reaching out to my list of usual suspects until I talked to my good friend, partner in crime and guitarist for several metal bands ( more on that in a future article ), Russ, and told him, “Your’e coming with me tonight to see Ice-T.

There were 2 shows and our tickets were for the late show. We showed up and got in line along the sidewalk. As the early show got out people were streaming out, chanting “Fuck the police!”.

Russ and I looked at each other with shit eating-grins and said to ourselves, “This is going to be awesome!”

It wasn’t long before some guy ( lets call him “Douche” ) pulls around the corner in his newer Corvette, blasting out “Cop Killer”, with the convertible top down…right down the street in front of the club where we were standing…dropping the hammer and roasting the tires in a smoky haze…when he had to suddenly stop because of traffic waiting for the red light. That’s when a bicycle cop pedals up to him and makes him pull over to write him up. All of us on the street had a great laugh. The doors opened and we made our way in. It was perfectly ironic.

Ice-T opened up the show with “regular” stuff from his albums. The crowd was packed tight against the raised stage. RKCNDY’s stage was probably just under four feet tall and some of the band’s posse – including some women in very short skirts – were standing off to the side. Apparently, they didn’t realize that at that height, it was pretty easy for us on the floor to see that there was no underwear under those miniskirts!

After the first set was over, and an intermission, they came back on stage – with some variation in musicians – as Body Count. The room was sweaty and ready for Ice-T’s brand of Metal and we were moshing around to the point of Ice just looking like he wasn’t expecting this kind of reaction!

One chick got herself on stage and went back by the drums. Ice was just standing aside at this point and looking on, speechless. She swipes her feet a couple of times on the ground – like a bull getting ready to charge – and gets a running start to the edge, and just flies out into the crowd, who dutifully stood by to catch her. She took 3-4 guys down with her. Ice-T was laughing his ass off and just looked dazed…he stopped to say Seattle has the ” Craziest Motherfuckers I ever seen!” The show went on with some more stage diving, including yours truly; we exited the club chanting “Fuck The Police!”

Now, more than 27 years later, the RKCNDY is long gone, Ice-T has had a great acting career and reality series. I’m pretty sure that night was my last real stage dive. I still drive by there fairly often and can’t help but smile, thinking about all the great times we shared ( not just at RKCNDY ) now only existent in our memories.

Thanks for reading and there’s more to come…Rock On!

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Distractions

A Normal Morning In My House

Get out of bed, wander down to the coffee maker, get some Joe brewing, wander over to the lap top, fire it up, oops, my feet are cold, wander back up stairs, put on some socks. I got to pee, wander in to the bathroom, pick up the tooth brush, oh, coffee is ready, never mind, wander down stairs. Oh, that load of clothes needs to be dried, throw those in the dryer, wander back to the lap top, sit down, pull up my daily habit check list, itemized in degrees of importance, oh, some one’s texting me, return the text, back to the check list, coffee cup drained, wander over to the coffee maker, sit back down …How in the heck do I get anything done? Check my daily habit list.

My friend Pete wrote a poem ( thanks for the contribution, Pete )

Roses are Red ,

Violets are Blue,

Let’s ride bicycles!

Can I mow your lawn?

No, I’m not ADHD; some times I just can’t focus. Wait a minute, I got to check Facebook, maybe some one’s gonna mention me.

Its intersting, despite the slow warm up to the day, oh wait, just got a text, it says, Hey, what do you think about compressing the crap out of that guitar solo? Thats a good idea, maybe it will hang in the mix better.

Got to let the cat in, Master of the realm. Anyway…Yeah, I got the set list…What was I talking about? Oh yeah, focus, yeah, focus. Thats the ticket.

The surest way to focus is to turn off my I Phone and I Pad, oh, the blasted message app went off on the Mac Book, who is that?

Never mind, I’m turning off today’s Blog.

After a while, Crocodile!

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The Phantom

“Someone’s talking in the guitar solo.”

“What?”

“There is someone talking in the guitar solo.”

I listened to the track over and over and could not hear the voice. I went through every single track. Nothing. During the guitar solo I muted every track that was inactive. Nothing.

“Dude, the voice is still there.”

“What? It can’t be.”

“I guess we we’ll just live with it. There is still someone talking in guitar solo.”

Mix down; listening over and over again, until one pass, I heard it. There was a voice in the guitar solo. Some one was talking. How could that be? The amp was in isolation. Not possible. But there was the voice.

Getting to the bottom of it

I scrutinized every track. No voice was recorded any where, yet the talking continued. Then, paying close attention to the panning, I figured it out. The rhythm guitar track. The EQ was too concentrated in the 1.5 to 2 k range. I dropped those frequencies and, behold, the talking voice disappeared.

Wow! Who would have thought? Guitar solo saved.

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Hyberbole, Standard Operating Procedure

Aggrandize, to increase the power or reputation of something.

For me, it implies some sort of exaggeration.  It is endemic in the world of music.  Please understand, I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to past pretence.  

I see it in Facebook adds.  I see it in band names.  How many times have you heard that this group of individuals has recording contracts, management, connections and it all turns out to be drivvle?

How about going on tour?  What exactly is a tour?

I have friends that travel hundreds of miles every weekend for a single gig, and never once have they claimed they are on tour.  I have spent month after month after month on the road and the bands I played with never called it a tour.

In an original act I was once with, we did three nights in a another state.  Sure, the semi hauled the staging and lighting out a week before.  Yes we flew out to the gigs.  The band leader told us we were on tour.  I’m like, what are you smoking?  

Sounds like a long weekend to me.  It was. 

Are we really the next greatest thing?  Are we really on the cusp of whatever it is we pretend to be on the cusp of?  

I get that we want to be more important than we appear.  I do think its possible to put aside the BS and be honest about what really is going on in our little worlds.

Lets stop being wannabees.  Only true success attracts true success.  Be real; lets quit pretending to be something we’re not and go out and kick some ass.

Cheers, Go Getters.

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Habits

I have read the books.  I have stood in front of the mirror yelling at myself.  I have gone to the conferences.  I have read the blogs.  I have reaffirmed my affirmations.  Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah.

I have found out what habit is – its habit.

The daily routine is what moves me forward.  No matter what my day entails, two hours minimum on the drum kit, period.  I wish I had more time but its the best I can do.  Drums are my passion.  Drums are the foundation of everything; my recording studio, my bands, this blog, performance, recording, production, song writing -everything.

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bryan@mackncheezemusic.blog

Somewhere, In The Very Early 90’s

By Todd Ainsworth

Writing for a music blog hasn’t been on my radar, but music is one of my passions and an important part of my life. As my generation gets a little older ( I never expected to live to 50 when I was 18 ) and I start to look a little more inward to try to figure out exactly how I got here, I find myself thinking back to that great time in Seattle I was able to experience and be a small part of-the late 80’s and early 90’s

The media called it Grunge and I’m not refusing to call it that ( even though we didn’t call it that as it was happening ) – but I’ll probably get some push back from those who were there ( maybe even at the same shows! ).

It was a hell of a time to be young and freshly able to drink in bars. Plenty has been written who had more to do with what was going on in the Seattle music scene in those days and who actually write for a living ( you can watch “Singles” in your well worn flannel to see Cameron Crowe’s take ), but for what its worth, I’m going to try give you one man’s perspective who spent many a night loitering around Pioner Square and licking fresh hand stamps to get friends in the Off Ramp if they bought a beer.

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bryan@mackncheezemusic.blog

Prodigy

So I’m hanging in the lobby waiting for my lesson, listening to what I perceive as a high school student laying down a super congruent groove. I’m saying to myself, ‘Man, I wish I could have played like that when I was 17’. This goes on for another 5 minutes till the groove stops. Super impressive. Wow!!!

My instructor comes out of the lesson room all smiles and excited. In tow ( my jaw hits the floor ) a three year old toddles out, hands clutching drum sticks, all smiles and excited.

My stomach churns and spirit collapses. Bryan, what am I doing? Wasting time, fooling myself, pretending to be something I’m not? Those questions flooding my mind.

Hey, wait a second……I don’t care who you are, there is always someone out there who is more dialed in than yourself. Always! Deal with it, accept it, respond to it with gratefulness.

As for me, I’ll drink some more Cool Aid.

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