Also as usual, I will be doing my regular Saturday morning gig tomorrow at the wonderful Daily Brew café in Cataumet. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been there pretty regularly for almost four years. It was a gig I kind of fell into – my friend Dave Peros and I were having coffee there one morning and he called the owner over to the table and convinced her she should have me play. At that time I was just beginning to explore doing all-instrumental gigs, something I’d wanted to do for a long time. I do sing (I was a voice major in college, for what that’s worth… not much if the truth be known!) but I felt it was time to challenge myself with learning a variety of tunes that incorporated bass lines, chord comps and the melody. I now have a nice little bunch of tunes with my own arrangements and while some of them are relatively easy, some require my complete attention and quite frankly I never really know when I launch into those just what will happen. I love it!!
The upshot is that my playing is probably better than it’s ever been, which is gratifying. Plus, having a regular gig inspires me to learn new songs and I’ve gotten to know most of the regulars at the Brew, some of whom have become friends and others have decided to take lessons. I sell a few of my CDs from time to time too, a nice little bonus. I hope my time at the Brew continues and I am sincerely grateful to owner Kathy Hickey for keeping me on board for all this time.
Having said that, I’ve been feeling the need to get back to some singing and I’m still actively seeking a playing partner for other gigs. This might be easy in a more metropolitan area but here on ol’ Cape Cod it’s a bit of a challenge. Yes, there are players around but I’ve gotten kind of picky (cranky?) about the music I want to put in the effort to rehearse and play. My ideal playing partner would have reasonably decent chops (both rhythm and lead) on guitar and/or perhaps mandolin, bass, ukulele, keys, whatever. He or she would need to sing of course but I don’t expect the next American Idol. Professional experience would be nice but is less important than enthusiasm and empathy. Guitar Heroes need not apply! An interest in and knowledge of swing jazz, blues, country, singer/songwriter material, bossa nova, or any combination of those things is required. Finding the balance between jamming and focused rehearsal is also very, very important. So – are you out there??
My quest over the next couple of months is to delve into the world of computer based recording. My first three CDs were done on my Tascam DP-04 and while the results were satisfactory, it’s become apparent that using some decent recording programs and my computer may be a better option. Another aspect of that is moving into cloud storage of my students’ weekly practice material. I now use a portable CD recorder to make recordings of what each student will be practicing but that technology is rapidly disappearing. I’m a bit concerned that some of my older students will be somewhat challenged by retrieving their lesson music electronically but it’s looking more and more like this technology will offer many more options, things like the students playing along and recording their efforts for review – and the option of then forwarding their efforts to me so we can examine them and work on the songs.
On a related subject, I am going to download a program called The Amazing Slow Downer, which purportedly allows you to isolate parts of songs (or the entire song) and then play it back as slowly as 20% of its normal speed – without changing the pitch. I think this will be hugely helpful when I want to learn a particularly challenging solo or chord sequence. Very psyched to work with this program and I will post the results in this space in future entries.
Finally…. I made a totally silly purchase this week, a brand new Martin 000-18. Martin has redesigned this long-standing model with scalloped braces, bone nut and saddle and a 1 ¾” nut width. One of my students recently purchased the similarly redesigned D-18 and it impressed me so much that I thought I’d try out the 000-18, a model I’ve always liked. It is gorgeous and although it needs some playing time to “open up” it already sounds great. I will have my favorite guitar tech, Fran Ledoux of Bay Fretted Instruments install a K&K pick-up and will put the new 000-18 through its paces at my Brew gig. It joins my stable of a Martin M-36 and a Gibson J-15, both of which are different in many ways but equally great guitars. We all love new toys, right?
Peace & good music,