Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dear Mr. Bush: Taking Off

As I mentioned before, I'm seeing a vocal coach, and after today's warm-ups, I decided to revisit "Dear Mr. Bush" without spending too much time on it.

"Dear Mr. Bush"

Yah, I wasn't going to do a demo version, but hell with it - it's two weeks before mid-term elections, why the fuck wouldn't I? I'm still a leather-jacket wearing, nipple-and-nose-pierced, fire-breathing liberal, so I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to puss out now.

Anyway - the response has been awesome. Over at MacJams, the song has rocketed to the top of the charts. I don't expect it to stay there or anything, but it's the first time that this has happened, so I'm going to suck it up while it's still there for the sucking.

On MySpace - I've added it to my main page and, likewise, it has gotten a great response, as well as some flak - which is actually quite good to include in the repertoire. Our lives are BAD if we only hear the ideas and points of view that please US. Am I right? For those of you who disagree, er.....ookay.

The EQ Bible

In the interests of passing along great information - here is a little guidebook, a bible if you will, to E.Q. settings for recordings. This article contains information originally sourced at EQ Frequencies and is used with permission from If you're familiar with working the knobs and faders to E.Q. your mix, this will be super-cool. If you aren't - this may be kind of a brain-drain, but nontheless - here it is:

Boost: To thicken up bass drums and sub-bass parts.
Cut: Below this frequency on all vocal tracks. This should reduce the effect of any microphone 'pops'.
Boost: For bass lines and bass drums.
Cut: For vocals.
General: Be wary of boosting the bass of too many tracks. Low frequency sounds are particularly vulnerable to phase cancellation between sounds of similar frequency. This can result in a net 'cut of the bass frequencies.
Boost: To add warmth to vocals or to thicken a guitar sound.
Cut: To bring more clarity to vocals or to thin cymbals and higher frequency percussion.
Boost or Cut: to control the 'woody' sound of a snare.
Boost: To add warmth to toms.
Boost or Cut: To control bass clarity, or to thicken or thin guitar sounds.
General: In can be worthwhile applying cut to some of the instruments in the mix to bring more clarity to the bass within the overall mix.
Boost: To thicken vocal tracks. At 1 KHz apply boost to add a knock to a bass drum.
Boost: To make a piano more aggressive. Applying boost between 1KHz and 5KHz will also make guitars and basslines more cutting.
Cut: Apply cut between 2 KHz and 3KHz to smooth a harsh sounding vocal part.
General: This frequency range is often used to make instruments stand out in a mix.
Boost: For a more 'plucked' sounding bass part. Apply boost at around 6KHz to add some definition to vocal parts and distorted guitars.
Cut: Apply cut at about 3KHz to remove the hard edge of piercing vocals. Apply cut between 5KHZ and 6KHz to dull down some parts in a mix.
Boost: To sweeten vocals. The higher the frequency you boost the more 'airy/breathy' the result will be. Also boost to add definition to the sound of acoustic guitars or to add edge to synth sounds or strings or to enhance the sound of a variety of percussion sounds. For example boost this range to:
Bring out cymbals.
Add ring to a snare.
Add edge to a bass drum.
Boost: To make vocals more 'airy' or for crisp cymbals and percussion. Also boost this frequency to add sparkle to pads, but only if the frequency is present in the original sound, otherwise you will just be adding hiss to the recording.
Specific Instruments
General: Roll off below 60Hz using a High Pass Filter. This range is unlikely to contain anything useful, so you may as well reduce the noise the track contributes to the mix.
Treat Harsh Vocals: To soften vocals apply cut in a narrow bandwidth somewhere in the 2.5KHz to 4KHz range.
Get An Open Sound: Apply a gentle boost above 6KHz using a shelving filter.
Get Brightness, Not Harshness: Apply a gentle boost using a wide-band Bandpass Filter above 6KHz. Use the Sweep control to sweep the frequencies to get it right.
Get Smoothness: Apply some cut in a narrow band in the 1KHz to 2KHz range.
Bring Out The Bass: Apply some boost in a reasonably narrow band somewhere in the 200Hz to 600Hz range.
Radio Vocal Effect: Apply some cut at the High Frequencies, lots of boost about 1.5KHz and lots of cut below 700Hz.
Telephone Effect: Apply lots of compression pre EQ, and a little analogue distortion by turning up the input gain. Apply some cut at the High Frequencies, lots of boost about 1.5KHz and lots of cut below 700Hz.
Get Definition: Roll off everything below 600Hz using a High Pass Filter.
Get Sizzle: Apply boost at 10KHz using a Band Pass Filter. Adjust the bandwidth to get the sound right.
Treat Clangy Hats: Apply some cut between 1KHz and 4KHz.
Bass Drum
General: Apply a little cut at 300Hz and some boost between 40Hz and 80Hz.
Control The Attack: Apply boost or cut around 4KHz to 6KHz.
Treat Muddiness: Apply cut somewhere in the 100Hz to 500Hz range.
Treat Unclear Vocals: Apply some cut to the guitar between 1KHz and 5KHz to bring the vocals to the front of the mix.
General: Apply a little boost between 100Hz and 250Hz and again between 10KHz and 12KHz.
Acoustic Guitar
Add Sparkle: Try some gentle boost at 10KHz using a Band Pass Filter with a medium bandwidth.
Try applying some mid-range cut to the rhythm section to make vocals and other instruments more clearly heard.

sub 0-60
bass 60-180
mid bass 180-300
lo mids 300-800
mids 800-2k
upper mids 2-5k
high end 5k up

Just remember these settings aren't magic, still use your ears and experience to get the type of sounds you want. This is just a general starting point or reference but by all means this isn't a rule to use these settings for those instruments all the time.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Coming Out Of My Hole

But for just a moment; the hole is nice.

I've been crazy-busy, which is a good thing, because it translates into "cash flow." Had a couple of video projects come up, went and did the shooting, am now in the editing phase. Also, I've been preparing for the trip up north to Ohio for Jerry Rockwell's 5th Annual Southeast Ohio Dulcimer Festival, where I'll be teaching workshops and performing on November 10th and 11th. I'll actually drive up there on the 9th, to get some quality time in with Jerry, whom I've never met, but have e-mailed and spoken on the phone with - I'm really excited to soak in his vibes, he's done so much for the dulcimer and really lives on the leading edge of progressing the instrument into the next dimension. This festival is a pure example of that - the workshops are very much cutting edge and I'd say the content seems to be of a very spiritual, primal nature. I love the tradition and history of the instrument, but I also love getting off of the same old paths and making the sojourn into the dirt roads of possibility. It promises to be a wild and fruitful weekend. Then to cap it off, I'll be staying with my dear friends Denny and Rose not far from the festival site. They come down to Florida often with their son Blake, who is a real joy, and it's been awhile since I've seen them on their home turf - so I'm making a week out of it.

But, before then - there's the Deland Original Music Festival on November 4th, and though I was originally scheduled to play a set at 10 pm on the Indiana Ave. stage (number 5), this week I picked up another set, albeit shorter, on the acoustic mainstage (1a) at 8 pm, right after the SSA Awards Presentation - which means there will be a nice crowd there, hanging out (at least until I chase them away, right?) Though it was sweet to get nominated in 8 categories - that in itself is reward alone. Personally, I used my votes to stuff the ballot box of Dan Walters, who is a phenomenal performer and songwriter - I don't care to win anything, but I do hope to sell a few CDs.

I also hope to put on one of the best solo shows I've ever done, because I've been doing some work behind-the-scenes. I've been seeing a vocal coach to help me correct some of the bad habits I've developed as a self-taught vocalist, and already, the results are very pronounced and I'm quite stoked about it. Also, I went today and picked up a Buzz-Off hum eliminator for my gear. Since I've been playing more solo shows, I've reverted to using my transducer pickup on the acoustic dulcimers and sending that signal through the amp, which brings a nasty 60-cycle hum along with it. So, a little investment and all of a sudden, that hum is history! I was picking up the same hum using the shallowbody electric as well - so hopefully this will mean better days for recording too. Don't know if I've mentioned it here or not - but I've got a Firebox on layaway - so that I can warm up the audio signals that I record into the Mac (meaning vocals, guitar and any other "real" audio.) This is quite a nice step forward, so perhaps by Christmas - the recording set-up will be truly ready to knock out some fun stuff. Of course, there's this little matter of needing a processor upgrade for the G4. Oof. It does NOT stop.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Music and Politics

Earlier this week, I got an e-mail from a armed services veteran in a folk music group who took issue with the MySpace profile pic that I'm currently using, which I've also posted here, along with protest photos. The link is there if you want to get deeper into it, but the bottom line is: we agree to disagree.

One of the statements he made was that "a musician should be defined by his music, and not his politics." Sort of a broad statement, depending on how you look at it. There's a time and a place for everything. And much like the sixties when Vietnam was raging and the public was voicing their displeasure with a very unpopular war, I believe that the time is now for musicians who feel the call to step up to the plate and address the issue. There are plenty of artists who will avoid this and that's just fine. I just don't happen to be one of those artists.

Music for me is not a business, it's not something that I methodically plot out to gain dollars and attention. When called upon to entertain, that's something that I do. When I have the opportunity to express opinions in a situation where it may do some good as opposed to harm, then I exercise that right. If I'm invited to a church to perform bluegrass music, then that's what I do. If I'm scheduled to perform at a songwriter's festival with a variety of musical styles represented, then I'll break out songs that I feel will speak to the folks that come to hear me play. I don't bank on them liking what I do; that's a risk that you have to take and that's where working the balance between full-out protest singer and entertainer comes into play.

In any case - I play festivals where it's clear that anti-war songs would get me booed off the stage - does not playing them mean that I'm selling out my convictions to remain involved? I don't think so. When I'm at a birthday party for my daughter, and I know that in my heart, my concern for policies of the Bush administration is seething, it's still not the right time to say, "happy birthday dear - and while I have your attention, what do you think of Bush's desire to get rid of an all-volunteer army?" There's a time and a place for everything.

This blog is a place where I'm free to post what I want. It's representative of the whole enchilada, though I keep it mainly music-focused and within that sub-area, usually dulcimer-centric. I have a completely socio-political blog that folks can peruse if they're interested in my activism. Do I worry about the lines blurring? Not really. They're both part and parcel of the same individual in different modes. If someone at some festival decides that I can't be trusted to stick to the theme and I'm not invited to play, then that's a decision I'll have to live with. It hasn't happened yet - but it very well could, and I'm aware of that.

Fortunately, many folks in the dulcimer community are not so narrow-minded, nor are they necessarily full-fledged supporters of war OR the Bush administration. After all, many folkies and Americana afficionados are old hippies and we pretty much know where they stand about things.

I guess I'm posting this because I wanted to address the issue before it ever became an issue. Songs like "Casualties of Faith" and "Dear Mr. Bush" aren't the first political/theological songs I've written and they won't be the last. I do know when and when not to break them out, and that's what makes an entertainer; the knowledge of when to lay your cards on the table and when to keep them close to your chest. However - when you come to this blog - rest assured that they'll be face up so that you can get a good look at them. When I'm home, I'm as see-through as the Pope-mobile.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Pictures from the protest today

Dear Mr. Bush

Here is a link to protests taking place all around the country today in support of getting Bush and his gang out of office. Many of the events are taking place late in the afternoon.

If you're sick and tired of the direction in which America is traveling, if the level of corruption has brought your blood to a boil, if you can't stand the thought of dealing with a never-ending war for the rest of your lives, then there's only one thing NOT to do.

Don't be inactive.

Get out there and join the others who are just as fed up as you are. Believe it or not, we are the majority. And majority RULES!

Monday, I wrote a country song in support of our president.....getting the HELL out of office. It's called "Dear Mr. Bush" and I'm in the process of rehearsing it to perform at the Deland Original Music Festival on November 4th. I don't know if I'll record a demo or not, because my idea of the song would get obliterated by a demo with computer instruments and whatnot - so I'm going to wait, I think, until I can get some stellar folks together and really make it an event. Got a pianist, bassist, fiddler in mind - looking for a drummer. In any case - here are the words:

Dear Mr. Bush
I've got a thing or two to say to you
with all the best intentions and respect that is due
I cannot wait til America's through with you

Dear Mr. Bush
while you and all your friends in Washington
have squandered our good name and flushed this country down the john
oh, rest assured, we've been catching on


from sea to shining sea, we are aware
that to you, in times of war, all is fair
we will pray for one fine day when we can kick you in the tush
and finally be free of all your drama, Mr. Bush

Dear Mr. Bush
these sentiments should come as no surprise
after all, you led this nation into war based on lies
do you think of that as every soldier dies?

Dear Mr. Bush
if you're dreamin' of martial law, you might think twice
and that goes for Cheney, Rumsfeld and that Condoleeza Rice
don't even try it, you're slippin' on thin ice


from sea to shining sea, we are aware
that to you, in times of war, all is fair
we will pray for one fine day when we can kick you in the tush
and finally be free of all your drama, Mr. Bush

Your image of a cowboy on the range
infuriates the sanest democrat
but the posturing won't ever really change
the fact that you're no cattle and all hat

Dear Mr. Bush
I thank you for your time, to let me spout
where we stand as Americans, I hope there is no doubt
don't let the door hit ya while you're on your way out


from sea to shining sea, we are aware
that to you, in times of war, all is fair
we will pray for one fine day when we can kick you in the tush
and finally be free of all your drama, Mr. Bush

you might've been a better president if you weren't such a puss
bring it on, the day you're gone away
George W. Bush
bring it on, the day you're gone away
George W. Bush

Copyright © 2006 J.O.B. Entertainment Inc.

Recent Recap

I think it's been mentioned here at some point that I've got ADD, so each day is a real struggle to maintain clarity and I refuse to take medication, because one needs to be able to handle life without the aid of something that can suddenly not be available to you. If it ain't in ya, then you're in IT. Anyway - I've been hunkered down over a complete and total re-do of the J.O.B. Entertainment Inc. website - which is harder than it looks, since I've got to edit video, re-encode it, do the designing and whatnot. The new site will be up later today (I hope) - and I've just hired an assistant to help me with the push. I've been so wrapped up in that, I didn't even post about the gig this past Saturday at First Presbyterian Church of Maitland. It was a blast - just like last year, only more so this time around. Jae was there, which certainly made it more fun for me, and this marked the first time that I've done a set primarily consisting of instumentals - mostly tunes that I learned over the summer. (Check out video from the event!)

Well, it all went astoundingly well - and David Schweizer is such a great guy - I enjoy working with him whenever I get the chance (he gave Mohave its first gig, after all, not to mention producing a very fine record for us) and it was great to have him join in on washboard with some of the songs. Uncle Charles Stansell was there too, and he joined me on mouth harp for a couple of songs - so it was just a whole lot of fun; played for a cakewalk, got to see and hear some great music, had barbecue - you know, excellent! Then later that evening, Jae and I went out on a date - had a nifty dinner, great conversation and then went to a place called Dessert Lady, on the suggestion of our friends John and Yoko, and ate ourselves into a sugar coma. How sweet it is indeed.

And on Tuesday, my dulcimer club got together for the first official jam of the fall and that was a blast as well. We always have soup and bread before getting into the music, visit with each other and talk about the shows and festivals we've been to and the ones we're planning on attending. Dulcimer playing is like church - it's so much easier to walk each day when you've got that fellowship going on.

Now, it's back to the designing grind - I've got a wedding to shoot this weekend, the production traffic is picking up after summer, as it always does, so I've got to be extra-focused and balance between the world of video and the land of dulcimer. It's pretty hard sometimes, but I just keep saying to myself: "I love doing this." And that makes all the difference in the world!