Musicians! –>

Do you feel that you don’t have enough time in the day to do what you love?
Is it that there simply isn’t enough time in the day to do it all or do you feel you have too many responsibilities to really step back and work on your passion?
What if this time was magically given to you, do you need others?
What if the others were given this time to?
What would you do?

Studio NewZ

My band is going in to the studio in April. We’re not a start up enterprise anymore; we’ve been playing together for almost two years now, so we’re of the opinion that all this time and focus should show. So we’ve been taking some added steps to insure success.

For starters, once we realized the band was pretty solid it drew back all the attention on the singing because ultimately that’s going to be the focus. And if your band’s name actually starts with the full name of the lead singer, well, even more so. So we started a looong search for a vocal coach which ended up with us finding this lady. Here I cut this part of the story short because we just engaged with Emily and I don’t have enough to report other than I’m excited about this. The approach is geared to exactly what we are doing: help us with our harmonies and phrasing on these songs of ours. This simple request is harder to find than you might think.

We also know which studio we are going in to and we know the set up. We know that while we can record live, we will have to wear headphones and we won’t be in the same room with all our gear.

In a way, this is a blessing for me since I’ve wanted to convince my band to rehearse using headphones so we could get improved recordings in our own studio. I went online to purchase a headphone amplifier/distributor and a couple more headphones. Here’s a shout out to Sweetwater Sound because this stuff was amazingly affordable. I hope to upload something for you from our own efforts because this has been very successful. I am equally excited about doing further recording at Studio 312 (our own studio) as I am about going in to Carter Co Recordings.

So. Our approach now to rehearsal from now until we are set to record mid-April is to focus on the six songs we plan to record. Play/record a bit with amps. And then play/record sans amps with headphones. I’m being very critical of all our bad breaks. And also of tone problems with guitars etc.

I hope this proves fruitful. Identifying issues is one thing. Successfully fixing them may be another.

And April could come way too soon.

Night Train

If you’re not friends with Jonathan Toubin, then you haven’t met him. He is one of the most likable folks I have ever known; and if you’re with Jonathan you’re where the party’s at. But even better to get him to yourself as his catalog of Rock n Roll stories is hard to beat. The only negative I can think of is exactly what is going on right now: if you know Jonathan then you must be, as I am, completely soul-crushed.

Jonathan is currently in critical condition in a Portland, OR hospital four days after becoming the victim of one of the most bizarre and grotesque accidents I can imagine. He was pinned to the back wall of his hotel room, under a cab that smashed through the exterior wall of his room when the cabbie lost control of her vehicle due to a “diabetic emergency.” He is far from recovery and the situation is no news is no news at this point.

Toubin is now quite well known as DJ Jonathan Toubin (aka New York Night Train). He travels the North American club circuit doing his dj thing which is a very particular schtick: he only spins 45’s and mostly 60’s Soul. Before he became a New York dj he lived for a long time in Austin where he played in many memorable bands (Noodle, Cheezus, the Hammiks) and made many connections that have served him well throughout his career.

Before Austin, Toubin lived in Houston which is where I met Toubin. I was 18 or 19 years old and he was a few years younger than that. He wanted to be my band’s manager. You couldn’t find a more enthusiastic teenager. He’d where black dress shirts and a western bolo.  I can’t imagine what the club owners thought of him at the time. But us guys in the band quickly grew to admire him; and we’ve been friends ever since.

I’m still friends with a few guys from that band -including the bassist, Noah, who lives in Portland where Jonathan is now in ICU. We’ve been in touch quite a bit lately as Noah has been at the hospital, along with Jonathan’s family who have all flown in to Portland to be with him.  Yesterday when I called Noah, we talked shortly about Jonathan (there’s really not much to convey at this time unfortunately) and then Noah felt compelled to tell me how much he missed me and expressed his love. It was almost too much to take. I am literally crying right now thinking about it.

Times like this make you count your blessings. They expose the poetic fragility of life. They crush your soul.


God dammit Jonathan. You’re always at the center of everything. I can only imagine now you’ll be at the center of the debate over the growing problem of diabetes in this country; and at the center of the great transition to driver-less taxis.

You can keep up with Jonathan’s status and learn about upcoming benefits for him here.

I love you guys.



p.s. photo above courtesy of Arman Mabry

I was figuring out why the lightbox image on our band website was not centered when

I noticed that the reverbnation events widget “no upcoming events” solution isn’t all that nice to display on a band website, especially since we do have an upcoming event.

In order to stop reverbnation from lying about 3Tons schedule I had to login to reverbnation; at which point I was met with a strange menu that advanced from Bank to Bill History to…at this point I can’t recall because I thought it disturbing to have had to attempt to process why the first two menu choices were bank and billing history.

But I did find a menu choice called “shows” and it was pretty simple to add a new one.

We’re playing a benefit for a community center. They run a recording studio where inner city kids can learn the trade. The kids will get an opportunity to mix a recording of the gig. I’m figuring out stuff to do in the possibility that it’s actually a decent recording in which case it would be cool to do a kickstarter thing to release it and give all the proceeds to Benton House.

I like being old some times.

With All Due Respect

The first Apple product I ever owned was an iPod Touch 4th Generation. It’s also the only Apple product I’ve ever owned. And it is a pretty good one. I don’t use it very much though. The screen is too dinky for browsing the web. Music technology has changed for the better to where it’s not necessary to tote your personal music library if you don’t want to. And when I walk away from a digital device (the ones upon which I can actually be productive), I’m usually also taking a step away from the constant feed of emails, twits and status updates.

I used to keep an iPad2 around the house. My company bought it so I could develop iPad apps. I stopped keeping it at home though because I noticed that, while I would indeed use it for its convenience, I was actually less productive when it was around. I wouldn’t bother attempting to do coding on it; the Google docs stuff didn’t work very well at all; and many of the online programs I like don’t work on the iPad2. The only thing I genuinely miss about keeping it around is the battery life.

So I’m not sentimental at all about Apple. And in fact I’ve always been a critic because of the locked down nature of these products – getting more so everyday. With Apple you pay for form over function – the Prada of technology.

I am however truly saddened by the death of Steve Jobs. And not because he changed the world with the iPhone. Because he didn’t do that. There is no one individual to be given such praise, it’s some engineer group over at Research In Motion (since it truly was the Crackberry that heralded in a new age and not the iPhone). What truly makes me sad is the statistic: Steve Jobs, a great and powerful man on the forefront of human inventiveness, was powerless in the face of pancreatic cancer.

The other day a junior developer I work with sent me an op-ed piece; one of those “technology is taking our jobs” numbers that make the alarm bells ring in my head. This article pointed to the toll booth operators losing their jobs to technology as one example. That sort of “point” is what rings the alarm bells because it seems clearly written to prompt a debate over the worth of the job. Of course “toll booth operator” is not a job worth fighting technology to keep. Especially given the bigger point: Steve Jobs died at the very young age of 56 due to a disease we have no power over. There is still plenty, plenty of work to do. And then, we will look back at these Apple toys and laugh at their uselessness.

Shopping and Tinkering

a digital piano recently,

and in fairly short order a MIM Silver Burst Telecaster (here’s a GearPage thread about this guitar that ruminates well on such purchase).

a Squire Bullet that you can fit a shot glass between the neck and the strings.

My preferred computer operating system these days is Ubuntu (***TRIVIA*** the same name as the font used for this post; this is also the default font in Ubuntu).

Ardour and impulsively Best Buy where they stock M-Audio MobilePre Audio USB interfaces.

Adventures in Singing

The other night at practice I realized we’d reached a key point in band development which is to say the band is pretty damn solid; meaning that we make it look easy, however now all ears are on the lead parts – the parts that float above it and give it reason. Most particularly I refer to the vocals. So aAfter practice and a few drinks we started googling and crowd sourcing for a vocal coach and ended up contacting a fella at the Fine Arts Building, which is where I’d been focusing my search to begin with because I really wanted to get back in that place.

The Fine Arts Building, what that’s beauty can be flickred so, is a grand old building across from Grant Park and just about caddy corner to the Art Institute in Chicago’s downtown. It’s filled with artists’ lofts, music/art/dance instructor studios and other eccentric oddities of the Bohemian persuasion. It’s a nice Summer walk down Michigan Avenue from my work place. And for all of these reasons plus the fact that it still has elevator operators and elevators that require elevator operators made it the sort of place I fancied would be a nice experience for the coaching of vocals. Or at least just the sort of place we might go to find an eccentric old classically trained vocal instructor who would be half way to senile and balk at the idea of helping two country rock singers keep pitch and harmony while fussing up the melodies with something we might call style but he might call vulgarity and not terribly keen on the vulgarities of country music.

This was in fact something what we found but no matter it was a nice trip down the street and a nice trip up an elevator operator operated elevator and into and out of a senile old opera fart’s studio. It was strange to hear Wichita Lineman (instructor’s choice) without any consonants. B– but here’s to unexpected pleasant surprises. I think the old man was willing to make a go of it. I mean we had tried to get our story straight before we even set foot in the place. Fact is, he did seem to be was getting on the batty side of things. T;trailing off here and there and doing the sorts of things an old eccentric in a movie might do like wandering around the clutter looking for stuff while mumbling to himself. I think some indication of something could have led us to try to work with the guy but we mostly got indications that these somethings just weren’t going to happen.

I mean, for one thing, our songs aren’t that hard. When Erin gets to learningbrings us a new song, I pick up the chord patterns pretty much on the first go and kinda expect it would be nice to find a vocal coach who could sit behind a piano and do the same. And that’s what we were talking about at Bacchanalia’s bar over by my house where we sat for a couple of few beers after taking the Pink Line outta out of downtown. This was overheard by our bartender who promptly gave us the names of Joe and Wilfredoa nice couple who live in the hood and run a studio. One of these gents is a choreographer and the other teaches music; and the more we heard about these charactersJoe and Wilfredo the more we thought thattheir’s would indeed be our next stop on this adventure in singing. But we’ll save that for another time on account as it hasn’t happened yet. But what did happen that night was that the bartender introduced us to the barfly at the end of the bar with the slicked back hair who as it turned out is our Illinois State Representative and we spent the rest of the night hearing about how his loyaldutiful Mexican Catholic ass took an earful from the Cardinal over a nun-served dinner (of stuff he don’t like) to which he was invited on the account that the Cardinal didn’t appreciate our wonderful State Representative’s vote on a recent Civil Union bill.

I love my neighborhood more and more each day.Kiss it Cardinal, Joe and Wilfredo here we come…

Rockstar Fades

The winds of time may be blowing but they got me stuck in a daze. I went from working out of a granny room in my boxers blasting the Mighty Diamonds to sipping martinis watching the busking robots down my nose.

I’m spinning coming out of the dentist; sorting out my thoughts. I’m looking at dental images all day – filling goop, braces, models gnawing on bottle caps. I’m wondering what to make of this Filipino dental family. Do I really need a deep cleaning? How do I feel about male dental assistants wearing sockless sandals? I thought that gold molar shot on my office wall was a chocolate bar.

The wife won’t cut my hair any more. I haven’t looked for a barber in years. She tells me there’s one right across the street from the dentist and I agree and hang up as I’m walking across the street and into the shop thinking I get the Rockstar theme but still wondering what the Fade is and why all these young dudes in here are cutting hair and why all the dudes including the dudes in the chairs look like young marines except that they’ve got flowers on their heads carved out of hair. But I don’t even think about turning around as I get it I don’t even think about turning around.