Friday, September 28, 2007

FIVE TAYLORS AND COUNTING

I'm not a shop-a -holic. I'm not. Unless I'm in a big music store. Or even a good medium sized one. Okay, even little stores that have something quirky going on. Nearly bought a quatro in Puerto Rico once. That little joint in the hill country outside Austin also got me for some picks and devices.

So I'm in Sam Ash Music Center today. Because Cathy said I should go and get what I need. She didn't put a limit on me. She even suggested a down payment on a really fabulous Taylor 914ce. I learned a long time ago not to EVER second guess her on those moments. When she says, "Why don't you get a..." I'm out the door before she can finish the sentence. Who knows, maybe she said "Why don't you get a life?" Does "life" rhyme with "guitar?"

I have never ever raised a stink or an eyebrow at anything Cathy bought for herself. I trust her judgment and even her impulse buys. I guess that's why she encourages me to go crazy from time to time. I'm not gonna question it or wonder why. I'm putting my money down on a fabulous guitar that is made of the last of the primo Indian Rosewood and Sitka Spruce. There's only a four year supply of that good stuff left on the planet. After that, those of us with the foresight to buy it will have the last of it. I'm getting a custom neck too. I have little hands. You know what they say, little hands are busy hands. Or something. Little hands, deep pockets? Not sure what they say. I say, I'm headin' up the highway to make this deal.

Oh, yeah, I need a new recording software, Digital Performer 5. Protools crapped out on my new operating system and I should also look into--somebody stop me! Just try.

posted by Bud @ 10:52 AM
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Friday, September 21, 2007

BUD LITE, THE G-FATHER

My latest weight loss plan involves at least an hour of heavy aerobic a day. Advanced Yoga three times a week. Weights two or three times a week. I think mildly bingeing once a week actually helps too. Because I'm down a pound lower than when I went away to NY last weekend and ate myself silly for four days. Normally I'm at about 17 fat grams a day and an equal balance of protein/carbs. Pretty low cal. Six small meals a day. I think every person has to figure out what their body wants to stay trim. I've had it figured out before but things change as you advance. See what I did there? A simple swapping of A words. Does that make me an A-hole?

Twice a week my aerobic is spinning. I've also taken to jogging in the pool as a second aerobic during the day if time allows. I can't say that gets my heart pounding but it's kind of fun and better than sitting on a couch. Jitka, my lovely trainer, is taking Patrik back to the Czech Republic on Monday to be baptized without me. I did find my Baptismal certificate in a pile of other meaningless papers. So the Eastern orthodox church in Prague will take a look at that and name me THE GODFATHER. I love the irony in that. I am my own god and in that I hold only myself responsible for my existence. It's complicated but essentially, I'm just one lucky pile of chemicals digging my various molecular interactions with the other piles I encounter. That's not a basis for any kind of church, so don't get any ideas. Anyway, Jitka will be happy I'm getting back into shape before she leaves me to my own devices for a month. And I will be the best Godfather ever. I promise not to order a hit on anybody. Patrik will be a Czech/Irish guitar god by the time he's 15. I have it all planned.

I had a long animated video conference with my granddaughter, Stella, last night. Animated because she doesn't have a lot of words yet and she was heavily gesturing with her dinner as we spoke. I've had avocado tossed in my general cyber direction. I do cherish the moment. And I love my web cam. I ought to learn how to use it for other things not involving self-produced porn. Anybody know how to improve the sound quality? I could be doing music videos with it.

It just occurred to me that becoming both a grandfather and a godfather in the same year makes me a G-Father. There, that's my title.

posted by Bud @ 7:31 AM
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

FROM BLISSFUL TO (AB)NORMAL

Back from New York with nothing but pretty memories and work well done. I spent quality time with every member of my family and I finished my recording work on the CD.

I don't miss the Mid Hudson Valley where I spent most of my adulthood because I love living in Florida so much. But Cathy and I realized that it was the first time we were there in September without having to work. It was pretty damn nice! September weekends for teachers are not weekends at all. They're just extended prep times.

Bud&Stella So we had a fabulous time in a Catskill mountain resort for four days. My sister rented an entire resort hotel for the wedding. It was a big old rambling Victorian wood structure with an amazing porch, an indoor pool, a tennis court and, I kid you not, a six lane bowling alley. The bride, my niece, brought her dog who had the run of the place, including the dining room. So we had a hundred and fifty family and close friends just taking the joint over for four days. And a more diverse crowd would be impossible to assemble. Every race, creed, political and sexual persuasion as well as age group was represented. It IS a small world after all. There were no fist fights or even arguments. There were even Yankees and Red Sox fans there during a three game series of those two battling for a pennant race. Nobody poured beer on anybody.

I got to spend some time with Stella, my granddaughter. We even danced. My 91 year old mother got to see her for the first time. It was sweet. I'm determined to get out to California more often to see Stella. And her parents.

On Sunday we drove down to West Point to visit Cathy's niece and her amazing family. We love those guys so much. The weather was perfect and we took a leisurely walk through the Hudson side of the post. The youngest, Jake, climbed on every ancient canon they had. We stayed at the Thayer Hotel, a rather famous edifice on the post that has catered to far too many famous statesmen and soldiers to name.

Our flight home was uneventful. The airline opened my guitar trunk and didn't steal my Taylor. For that I'm always grateful.

I redid vocals on three songs in the studio and now I'm happy. I can't wait to hear the final mix with the back up vocals by Helen Avakian and Beth Reineke. We are probably a month from all that being finished. So I'm left to work on the packaging and promotion angles.

Trying hard now to return to some normal schedule around here with constantly shifting lesson times and gigs and rehearsal and working out and just taking care of the music business. Did I use the word normal? Did that describe normal? Frantic is normal for some of us, I guess.

posted by Bud @ 10:04 AM
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Monday, September 10, 2007

WHAT I LOVE AND HATE ABOUT RECORDING

Getting back in shape wears me out. My summer started with a NY studio trip (read that-restaurant food every meal) interrupted by a cruise and then another three week NY studio trip. I gained ten pounds. I've lost six of that in the past two weeks and I'm worn out and stalled. I'd like to lose two more pounds before Thursday when we fly back to NY for one more studio date and a wedding. This could easily be a five pound weekend. I'd kind of like to do my album cover photos without the frightened blow fish look. Know what I mean?

Here's what I love about the studio process: you get to collaborate and the production leaves you with textures you hadn't thought of in your songs, making a far more complex and satisfying listen. Here's what I hate about the studio process: You have to learn how to play your songs all over again to sound a bit more like the production.

Are there a lot of people out there who believe that most studio productions are done in one take? Every song you hear on a CD is a edited version of many many takes done over the course of days. Or even weeks if you have the money. And that doesn't include the time spent on mixing and mastering. There's a lot of cut and paste involved in any good production. When it's done, the artist or artists have to learn how to sound like the record.

In my case, since I'm a solo acoustic act, I have to come up with arrangements that come close and are actually doable for one person. There will be times when I use the backing tracks but other times when that's not really doable. Or even desirable. Did I ever mention what a slow learner I am? A slow growing late bloomer. At least I don't look my age. Or act it. Oh, yeah, and I get to do this while suffering from diet/workout fatigue.

I should be booking more gigs for the fall and early winter but I have too much to do with this project. I have to sell a ton of these things but you have to sound good before you can sell them right?

This weekend should be an absolute blast, though. First of all, I'll be with my family. Including my granddaughter, Stella. My 91 year old mother will get to meet Stella for the first time. And we all hope not the last. Seeing my niece get married (to a musician no less) will be a thrill. I love to see her glow. I can remember dancing her two year old self around the room and telling my sister, "I want one of these." As luck would have it, my first wife was carrying Bree who was to become my little sack of sugar powder. And, yes, I wrote a song with that line in it. Coming soon to a CD provider near you, blah, blah, blah.

We'll end the weekend by driving down to West Point to spend some time with Cathy's niece and her amazing family. Army brats, the lot of them. We love them all so much! We'll get to see how a colonel at The Point lives. That's one beautiful place too. And, no, there are never any discussions about the surge, the timing of the withdrawal, the body count, Bush jive or any such thing. It's refreshing to feel family love and forget the world outside. Except for my studio finale, that's what my weekend is all about.

posted by Bud @ 3:36 PM
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Monday, September 03, 2007

MEME ME NOT

Qunn sent me a meme. I explained that I DO NOT DO MEMES. But she doesn't know me well enough to know that. I did need a break from working on arrangements for this weeks's gig, however. So writing nonsence is sometimes a welcome distraction.
So I answered as many of her meme questions as I could plus some of the ones she left out that I found Golfwidow had included.

As far as a lyric goes, it's crap. I don't like to do more than three verses. I like the chorus to make sense after each verse. But its better than some self indulgent meme. And no, I won't tag anybody. Ever. Here ya go, Quin. Don't say I never did anything for you.

MEME ME NOT Chorus:
You want to know about me? Pull up a chair, one you can sleep in
Lots to joke about me, every thing's fair, but you won't get deep in

I like my accent on the back beat but I can't always pull that off
Don't need a bra 'cause I work out, I'm jockless 'cause I'm tough
My wife paints and I do my laundry-- role reversal's nothing large
Everything I own is electric, I always need to recharge
Repeat Chorus

Everything I like to eat is forbidden, I'm allergic to fat
But I won't eat veggies that smell like intestinal gas
I don't smell like anything, and rather like it that way
Don't wear gold or silver, rather spend it any day
Repeat Chorus

Philly, Jersey, New York took up most of my life
Living now in Florida, love every minute with my wife
Kids are grown and gone, even the ones I taught
Don't waste time with religion, this is one soul they haven't bought
Repeat Chorus

I'm the President of Self-gratification, a job that suits me nifty
I'm good at accepting criticism, especially if she's pretty
Don't keep pets 'cause I rather watch creatures running free
My only fear is wasting time and not getting the most out of me
Repeat Chorus

Now I'm warning the rest of you out there: NEVER ask me to do a meme again.


Several of you mentioned that you had difficulty getting to hear my basement tape version of my song Let Me Go on MySpace. For some mysterious reason Blogger is letting me upload a sound file Try this :
CLICK HERE

posted by Bud @ 10:06 PM
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Saturday, September 01, 2007

Labor Pains

This is the weekend that for my entire life, I used to start things I wish I had done all summer. It held more meaning than New Year's resolutions to me. Having been an elementary school teacher my entire adult life, that cycle was just a continuation of my student cycle. I remember such things as building a fort in the woods when I was about 12. This meant that I would start seventh grade with poison ivy closing my eyes to slits. Starting workout routines to beef up for school sports was a yearly ritual. And that of course meant that I would walk more stiffly through the corridors of Camden Catholic HS than even the shirt, tie and blazer demanded. Getting my car ready to drive back to college was routine but a comedy of errors. Ancient VW's with bald tires are not exactly express trains on the mountain roads of New York. Early in my teaching years it was a mad dash to organize my classroom and my teaching plans. I learned later to do this in July so I could do things like building a porch or reshingling a roof on this last weekend.

These days, I just check in with all those who are still in school. See how they're doing. FaceBook and MySpace have been very useful that way. Although I probably look like a predator among all those young faces. My daughter, who is starting her middle school teaching job was told to ditch her MySpace account. Probably very wise advice. I doubt there are more child molestations these days than there ever were but the publicity is just so much easier in this digital 24 hour news era.

I've been chatting with a lot of old students who have either started school if they're in college or living down south, or about to start school. I see a general pattern and some surprises too. Kids going away to college are a lot more enthusiastic. But I'm fairly certain this has more to do with total freedom than with love of academia. The junior college kids are working and taking classes they are generally bored with as they try to figure out what to do with their lives. And all the while they are still living with their folks with high school rules. So the difference in enthusiasm is understandable. I still think junior college is a fantastic deal. Especially when you have no stinking idea what you want to do with your life.

The kids still in high school are much less enthusiastic all around. But they are also into not sharing much info. The kids who didn't go to college really vary. Labor day is just a day off for them. Unless they work in a place where there are no days off. That is, fast food and retail. But this group shows a lot of different attitudes toward life in general. Some are happy to be working two or three jobs and living on their own. Some are paralyzed and not moving forward and getting down on themselves. Some are finding careers that are not what they hoped for but they are happy with them and feeling like they are self sufficient. Some are really drifting. Some are treading water, waiting for an opportunity.

I know that the college kids will fit into many of those descriptions at the end of their four years. Or they might go to grad school to prolong the process. And some will come out sitting on the top of the world.

Cathy had a beautiful idea. She thought it would be fun to send my daughter a mug of flowers on her first day of school. So we did and the card reads, "Here's the first of hundreds of teacher mugs you'll receive in your career!" If you've never known a teacher with an enormous mug collection, perhaps you have given a few away to teachers. Or your kid's teachers. It took us many years to break all those mugs. I managed to keep a few from crashing to the floor or sink.

And so I raise a caffeine laden mug to those of you who are still working 9 to 5 or 6 to 2 or both. Better days are ahead. It's called retirement. Plan well.

posted by Bud @ 10:23 AM
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