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Thursday, September 07, 2006

New York Trip Part 1

Still sorting out the problems of being away from home and blog for so long. I missed reading you. Only three bad things happened in the 18 days I was away. The rest was fun and high adventure. Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. I lost my Palm Pilot. Maybe in the rental car, maybe on the plane. But I have my data backed up and bought a new one. My 40GB iPod died in transit. Also backed up, of course. But Tuesday is supposed to bring the announcement of an iPod phone. We'll see about that. I need an iPod phone that's also a Palm Pilot. That way I could lose everything at once. Or I could have it grafted to the side of my head and projected to the inside of my glasses. Remember where you heard it first. The third thing involves my Cathy and her taking the wrong meds for 10 days before she swelled up like a sausage and realized it. She's nearly back to normal size now. We're still laughing about it.

See, so everything turned out fine.

My original intention for this trip to my old homeland 90 minutes north of NYC, if you remember or care to know, was to get some recording done. That was gradually amended to getting some arranging done with my dear friend and former guitar teacher Helen Avakian. It's difficult to quantify just yet how much I learned from this trip. Helen has made a huge contribution to who I am musically, to begin with. She continues to set new standards for me. Regardless of the final outcome on this project, I am a better person/musician for taking this trip.

Every artist should have somebody they trust and respect as much as I do Helen. The first thing I said to her was, "You can't insult me or hurt my feelings. I've been told everything imaginable by ten year olds for years and years when I was teaching fifth grade. So I'm depending on you to tell me when I suck." And she did. Lovingly but insistently. She got me to listen and to work harder than I ever have. And to give me more work than I've ever had. I have a lot to do.

We started reworking some lyrics where they were a bit nebulous or had forced rhymes, or too many of the same rhymes. What WAS I thinking? We didn't have to do too much to change the music, strangely enough. A few progression alterations here and there. Mostly to accommodate the layers of guitar I'm putting in. We managed to do one very quick demo of a song called Underground that I hadn't intended to release on this CD except as perhaps a hidden track as it was all Neil Youngish. Helen was totally enamored with it, however, and loaned me the new Neil CD, Living With War to make her point. Her husband, Terry Champlin, a highly respected classical guitar teacher and composer, gave us a riff as he was moving between coffee urn and practice studio.

BudBuckley & Helen Avakian We recrafted some lyrics on other songs that I have to work on now. The major work was done on Tattoo, which is probably my title track. We streamlined some lyrics and simplified the basic guitar track. Then I added two tracks of guitar underneath to give it the texture I was looking for. Helen added some light hand percussion and bass. Terry came home late from auditioning prospective students. (Yup, you have to audition to get into his classes as Vassar College), we ate a pesto dinner at 10pm and then he mixed the demo for us. Helen danced some flamenco steps around the studio to keep herself awake while I watched Terry edit blown notes faster than I could run a spell check. I don't think you can hear Helen's bass in it that well. But here it is:

We managed all this in-between multiple gigs that Helen had to do. Two nights before I left, she did this fun restaurant gig and asked me to join her at one point. It is always a thrill to play with her.

Next entry will fill in some more fun details.

posted by Bud @ 1:31 PM

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