Monday, February 13. 2012
So often, almost every time in fact, when I'm playing some songs in a song circle etc. there is almost always one guy with a "look at me" approach to being a back up guy. You know the type - the hot shot guitar player that has to run leads all over the verse and chorus and bridge and then expects an extended solo to complete his performance. The worst case is when someone comes in with the ramrod approach but totally doesn't know the song and for some reason doesn't think about listening first to see what's happening! This is totally not what it's about. Whoever is singing the song is the star of the moment and the guy should be a back up not a forefront! If there's a guy like this in the circle, it makes me want to go home. If I'm in a camp situation, I will sometimes get up and travel around to a spot where each person in the cirlcle is playing a song and the other folks are listening and NOBODY'S jamming!
I often play some sax with various singer songwriters or bands. Most sax players will start right in on the intro playing lick after lick and finding every space to put in a fill. My formula, if there is such thing, is to wait until the second verse at least to come in. Then I play about every other fill, a little solo, then drop out until the end. I try to focus on the main person singing and hopefully add to it rather than take attention away and draw it on myself.
If you are a back up guy, everyone will like you better if you start off by playing HALF of what you think you should play, then take out a little more. Listen to the lyrics and SUPPORT the singer!
Saturday, June 11. 2011
When I first set out to do the mod on my Strat, I had a tough time finding out info so i thought I would write down my experience.
Years ago I picked up a Mexican made Strat at the local Banjo Centre for a really good deal. I once had a 76 Strat that I sold for $300 which now would be worth a ridiculous 3 grand but that's another story. The Mex cost less than $300 new with a case and played better anyway.
After a while though, the tone was a bit lacking so I replaced the stock pickups with Fender Vintage Noiseless. Tone was way improved, buzzing somewhat less but not enough.
Next I shielded the entire electronics cavity with some supplies from Stewart Macdonald and instructions on Gear Nuts. The guitar was 99% buzz free!
Somewhere along the way I picked up an Austin Chinese Les Paul copy for $180 on ebay with shipping brand new! These guitars are amazing deals. I ended up playing it a lot. So much so, I got used to the shorter scale and when I would go back to the Strat, it wasn't as comfortable.
I spent months cruising the net and trying t decide what to do until I eventually ordered a new conversion neck from Warmoth. I took a few risks as I opted for a rosewood fingerboard, guessed at the fret size, gambled on the compound radius option. I installed locking tuners - shoulda done those a long time ago.
When I got the neck, I took it to Ralph Luttrell, who's a great luthier in the ATL area. He did an amazing set up and the guitar plays as well as ANY guitar I have ever played!
I also swapped out the cheapo zinc trem for a Callaham package which turned out to be wonderful. Much more tone, a tremolo bar that actually makes sense, great manufacturing quality.
At first I thought there was a problem with setting the intonation as it seemed the screws were too short on a couple strings.Turned out to be not so. The vintage style saddles on the Callaham have an overlap that looks like the end of the saddle but there is actually another 1/4" or so.
Lastly, the doggone thing kept falling off my strap so I put on some Schaller strap locks.
The only original stuff on the guitar now is the knobs and the body. I've actually thought about replacing the body too and rebuilding the original Mex Strat but will probably part it out on eBay and build one from scratch at some point.
It's amazing how you get opinions on the net and they come in totally opposite. I saw a lot of praise for Warmoth and a lot of harsh criticism. I had pretty good luck though and no major problems.
I have to say, the guitar now plays better than any PRS or top shelf Strat I've ever picked up.
A friend of mine and I were talking about whether or not it makes sense to put 600 bucks into a 300 dollar guitar. Makes sense to me if it comes out right and is a customized monster that I won't ever sell!
Wednesday, February 23. 2011
Never worked with Gino as an engineer but I did play with him very briefly and I think it's a pretty good story.
I was doing a one man band single at a Mexican restaurant and some friends of mine came in with a friend of theirs who, on a break, started telling me about Gino and how he was good friends with him - blah blah blah. Seemed like total BS to me but he asked for a card and told me Gino was putting a band together for a Canadian and European tour. Would I be interested? What the hay I thought. Sure. Forgot about it by the time I got home that night.
About a month later, I got home from the gig, phone rings, and who is it but Gino himself! I about crapped myself. (First though, I thought someone was playing a joke on me and I was like, "Who is this really?")
In our conversation he said that his friend John had spoken highly of me and he went on to tell me he was in fact assembling a band for a tour. Too bad I was in Atlanta and he was in L.A.
Quick thinking on my part. "Well, as a matter of fact, I am going to be in L.A. in a few weeks. Maybe we could meet then." Gino said that would be great. Call him and let him know when I was coming and we would set up an audition. (The spot was for keyboard bass and sax.)
As soon as I got off the phone I made plans for the trip and went out to L.A., did the audition. The studio was in Agoura Hills in a "middle of nowhere" sort of place. We ran through a few of his songs, and then he had me sing a few to check vocals etc., then I played sax along with some tracks they had.
Gino was like some sort of metaphysical zen master mystic in conversation. All proverbs and philosophical sayings. Kinda weird. His brother Joe was the most down to earth guy you'd ever want to meet and was talking to someone about his lawn mower problem he was having.
Joe told me to try and get Gino to tell me about the time they were in Peru and he got up from the table at lunch, walked up a mountain in his sandals and was gone for three days. Came back and told Joe he had had an enlightening spiritual experience. Three days, just the clothes on his back. . . .
At one point there was a break during the audition and Joe was reading Keyboard magazine. There was an article and an ad for a new Roland keyboard. He said to Gino he'd like to check it out and then got on the phone with somebody. The new keyboard was dropped off a couple hours later by a Roland rep. Impressive.
We finished up and Gino said they had ten more L.A. guys to hear and he would let me know something. At this point I'm figuring well it was a pretty cool once in a lifetime opportunity and just cool as hell to meet him and hang out for a while.
I remembered driving my dad's old Mercury to high school and hearing "Mama Coco" on the radio and thinking it was the coolest sounding thing. It was very surreal to to meet him and audition.
About a month later, I get home from a gig at the Mexican joint and the phone rings again. "Hi Bill, this is Gino. Let me tell you what songs we're gonna be dong on the tour."
I was very calm and said, "Cool." Inside I was jumping out of my skin.
A few weeks later I'm in L.A. for rehearsal, having canceled all my Atlanta gigs.
The drummer's name was Vito. There was Italian slang bouncing all over the place.
Gino is driving the oldest clunkiest giant Dodge 4x4 truck when we go to lunch the first day. This thing has shag carpet and little tassled things hanging down from all the windows. It's a dirty coffee brown color and covered in mud. An ugly bouncy loud and smokey truck. I was amazed. I did not know rock stars drove stuff like this.
We get to the cafe and the waitress is taking drink orders. Gino says, "Double decaf iced cappuccino." Joe says, "Double decaf iced cappuccino." Vito says, "Double decaf iced cappuccino." I think I said "Sprite." I never felt less Italian than that day! (I have no Italian in me what so ever.) Right then I knew I was not a Beatle.
On Thursday of the first week, we go to lunch and Vito is freaking out. He says, " I can't do it Gino. I know it's ridiculous, it's been my life's dream to play in this band but I miss my wife and kids. My life is shit." Gino says, and I am not kidding or magnifying the story in any way, "A wise man once said, when life is shit, you must become a fly." (I was like what the?)
I show up for rehearsal on Friday and learn Vito has shipped back to Canada and dropped out of the tour.
Monday and Tuesday we start auditioning drummers including the guy who played on Brother to Brother! Mark Craney! But he had been really sick and did not look well on that day and his drumming was just not happening. I could not believe it was the same guy. Sad.
Later Tuesday afternoon there is talk that the tour is already $85,000 over budget! We hadn't even gotten on the road yet! Not only that but the pay for rehearsal will be less than what it was supposed to be and the actual pay for the tour will be closer to what the rehearsals were supposed to pay. Originally it was supposed to be $400 per week for rehearsals, $900 per week for touring plus a per diem of $25.
Turns out I will be knocked down to $200 per week for rehearsals and $400 per touring week with no per diem. This is looking a lot less attractive but still, it's Gino Friggin Vannelli! Also it was in 1990 or so - money went a lot further then of course.
Wednesday I show up for rehearsal and Gino says, "Bill I need to talk to you." We go out in the hall and he says I am not cutting it and they are sending me home. My stomach sinks. I think of all my musician friends and well wishers back in Atlanta and the chance to get out of the crappy bar gigs I had been doing and everything now going up in smoke.
Turns out I would go back home and land a house gig that paid more than the tour would and later find out that I was headed for a divorce. With a one year old son caught in the middle.
Later on when Gino came through Atlanta, (I didn't go), friends told me the keyboard bass spot had been eliminated. The parts had been sequenced and a roadie came out and played sax on a couple numbers.
The next album did not do well and the tour was not well attended. Still it was a kick! My brush with greatness!
Wednesday, January 12. 2011
I'm in the process of updating websites and getting two more podcasts of the ground.
Back in May of 2011 I started a podcast called "pretty good gig" and it has taken off nicely. With a tag line of "interviews and conversations with musical people" it has been great fun interviewing friends and folks I've never met. Musicians, producers, and anybody who has some connection to music and the music business. prettygoodgig.com
UFOfarm is another project of mine. I started exploring instrumental music heavy with synths, drum loops, moody echoes, jazz influenced sax - just a wide open musical carnival. My tag line description of this is "music for technicolor daydreaming." I decided to add a podcast and plan to also do some video stuff on youtube and ustream with live performance, studio views and descriptions of the process. ufofarm.com
On my own personal site I've decided to add a podcast to called "Bill Kahler's Acoustic Corner" and the tag is "stories around the songs and techniques inside the music." I will be talking about how the songs came together, tunings, recording process and various stories. Another free style mish mash! There will also be connections to ustream and already there are links to youtube where views total in the thousands of capo techniques. billkahler.com
Thursday, September 9. 2010
Tess from Sonicbids left this comment and for some reason it never showed up so I pasted this from the email:
Tess has left a new comment on your post "Sonicbids, Taxi - worth the money? Scams?":
Hi Bill, Tess here - I'm the Community Manager at Sonicbids. Wanted to post a note here for you and address a couple of your concerns.
Your comments on the venues/submission fees are ones we?ve heard before ? so we?ve taken a lot of the feedback we?ve gotten and we are actually getting rid of submission fees for most of the venues and more accessible promoters you mention. The $2-10 fees you see for gigs like that were instituted as filters originally to prevent spam, but now we're shifting gears and turning them to No Cost listings and are currently in the works of developing the right kind of filters for these. As we do this, we already have over 150 No Cost Listings on Sonicbids. You can read some comments from Panos (our CEO/founder) on his blog about this initiative: http://panosbrew.sonicbids.
Also, sorry if you felt blindsided by your recent membership charge. Our membership plans are just like a gym membership where you set it up and it auto-renews you when your period is up. If you want, I can take care of that for you. Just send me an email. (tess at sonicbids dot com)
Thanks ? hope this helps!
Nice note. Still, you pay a membership, submit to a gig that only pays in tips, and you could just call them on the phone. For that matter why even go through the trouble of a free gig unless you think you can sell some product and make some tips. And, you can call some of those places on the phone yourself. It just doesn't seem like the kind of gig that most folks need help getting.
I find it interesting the way she compares the auto renewal to a gym membership. Health clubs are notorious for their automatic renewal of fees and make it very difficult to cancel at times. Their main interest is signing new members, just like Taxi and Sonicbids.
Additionally Sonicbids claims to have Nashville connections but in reality music submitted to Nashville publishers is never done in person. It goes into a drop box and then into the trash. Same thing for Taxi. Nashville publishers really have no interest in checking out outside submissions. They have writers on staff that they pay to write songs, usually on a draw. The only way they get this money back is if they get cuts on songs those writers.
I'm not saying either service is a scam or anything of the sort but I have plenty of musician friends with simlar stories and who eventually dropped memberships.
Tuesday, September 7. 2010
A couple things bother me about Sonicbids.The membership renewal without prior notification is the main reason I dropped them. I realize there is the "fine print on the contract" and so on but the first notice I had of renewal was on my credit card statement and I did not appreciate feeling like the fee was "sneaked past me."
Secondly, many of the venues you have to pay to submit to are a total waste of time. I have played many of the places listed and it was easy to book dates there with a phone call. Paying to submit to a place that does not pay anything makes no sense to me. Who makes money on these listings? The venue and Sonic Bids.
Might be too strong to call it a scam. . . might not. It is obvious that there is a bigger advantage to Sonicbids and many of the venues than there is for a musician or performer.
In some ways this is similar to Taxi, whose main goal is to sign up members, not to do the thing they sell. If you talk to publishers in Nashville about Taxi, they will tell you they have writers on staff and thousands of the worlds best writers at their fingertips. Why would they spend time going through Taxi submissions?
Friday, June 11. 2010
I heard an idea once from Alan Rowoth that I thought was brilliant was advice to a young singer/songwriter which could apply to a band. "Young" being the key adjective.
After college or so, pick a major metro area to live in that has a huge music scene within a one day drive. You could live in the Philly area and play New York, Boston etc. Live there for 2 or3 years until you know the town and gigs inside out and build a large email list and then move to another area like maybe Chicago, going back to play favorite Philly, Boston, N.Y. venues ocasionally. Next move again, maybe to San Francisco. Repeat.
By the time everybody is in their late 20's or early 30's the band, or duo or solo act will have enough places to play to make a living with three geographic locations as far as touring.
Lots of work but very doable if you have a dedicated band. (The idea probably works best for duos and solos obviously.)
All week I struggled with getting my podcast up on itunes - prettygoodgig.com. I set up hosting through godaddy.com, installed wordpress, and used feedburner to establish the RSS feed. It looks like feedburner would have all you need but I could not get my image to show up in itunes! No artwork at all. I also was missing the author tag and some other stuff.
While searching around I saw dozens of posts that said "can't get my image to appear in itunes using feedburner, wordpress etc."
During my search I came across powerpress which was rated very highly, so I installed it and struggled with that for days. Nothin'! Nada!
While looking at the site for the podcast called audionowcast, one I really am a fan of, for the information and humor about all things audio, I discovered they used podpress which was not as highly rated but should be at the top in my opinion because everything came together after installing that plug in. I did end up using a separate player for the mp3s of the podcast, and I also installed my itunes image in the wordpress "Resources" folder. If I had this step by step along with the other info I found about starting a podcast such as the Apple podcast help, it would have saved me 20+ hours of fiddling.
Lastly, to get an image to show up in album art on the itunes page, you embed the jpg in the mp3 file. With the file loaded into the itunes program, click on get info for that file, choose album artwork, drag the image to that location. The artwork shows up in the little box on the bottom left of the itunes view. After that upload this new mp3 to your podcast site. I had already done 4 episodes, so I had to reload the mp3 files and change the name of each one too.
Still working on trying to get the image to show up in search results!
This week was like a college course! Hope this helps!
Tuesday, May 25. 2010
Announcing my brand new podcast - pretty good gig. Check it out at prettygoodgig.com. The show features interviews and conversations with musical people - a behind the scenes look at gigging, songwriting, recording and working in all kinds of situations as a musician. Should be searchable on itunes very soon, but you can still subscribe to it through itunes. Instructions are on the prettygoodgig.com site.
First interview is with James Casto with a hilarious look at playing the Conyers Georgia Fall Festival and the prisoner skit. Show #2 features Justin Kahler talking about attending SAE audio recording school and working in a studio. Then show #3 features Charles Williams of the Bonaventure Quartet and his work with Bernadette Seacrest. Lots of stuff about Django and gypsy jazz.
Friday, March 12. 2010
But they edited the letter and here is what was left out:
I totally agreed with what Larry Crane replied to the part of the letter that was published but
I had just spent the money for the upgrade on the software a short time before they ended the product. I'm sure they knew they were selling an upgrade to a product that was going away. Might as well have burned some 20's in my front yard! I just think it's reasonable for a company to give you a heads up on when they are discontinuing something, since you have to register etc. and they have contact info.
Additionally, the $60 product they mentioned is pretty cool, but why didn't N.I. tell me about it? Seems like the company is a little screwy when it comes to customer service.
Then on the other hand, I bought some way out of date IK Multimedia software for 50 bucks, and they gave me a download link for the latest version of the 400 buck mastering software! Which company do you think I am going to buy from?
Saturday, January 9. 2010
So I picked up a copy of T-Racks Mastering software. Bought it online and the description seemed to suggest it would work with my current Mac OS. When the box showed up, I had my doubts. (I am using Mac OS 10.5.6 and the box actually said it would work with OS 9!)
I called Musician's Friend where I had purchsed the software and asked them if it was compatible and they said I would have to ask the tech department. I asked if they could transfer my call. No, I would have to email them because they can't take calls! (?)
So I emailed them and received a message that someone would get back to me within one business day. (That was a week ago and I still haven't heard back.)
I really wanted to try the software so I emailed IK Multimedia. Received a reply in about half an hour! They told me I probably had version 2 and when I registered the serial number they would send me a download link that would work with my system.
When I was registering the number, it looked like I actually had version 1 and I thought, oh no, I had just wasted my money on an outdated version. I really expected to find out I would have to buy a new version or at the least, purchase an upgrade.
Immediately I was sent a link for downloading the version 3 of the software, which installed easily with no problems, and more importantly, sounds fantastic!
Way to go IK Multimedia. You just won another faithful supporter. Native Instruments should take a lesson from you!
Wednesday, October 28. 2009
It is so cool to listen to something that is very similar to radio except it's exactly the programming you want and there are no commercials! Heck, ya might even learn something.
Here are some of my favorite podcasts:
A Prairie Home Companion's The News From Lake Wobegon (If you never heard Garrison Keilor tell a story, you are missing out.)
CD Baby DIY Musician's Podcast (Great stuff about marketing and promotion and the journey as a musician)
EM Cast (From Electronic Musician Magazine)
Inside Home Recording (Cool recording show)
New Yorker: Fiction (Great for long drives in the car - one story equals 60 to 80 miles or so!)
Sessions With Slau (More recording stuff - very cool)
Sonictalk (And more - this one with a Brit twist to it though there are a couple Yanks)
Sonicstate (Video podcast of gear reviews, recording, synths, guitar stuff, studio tours - very well done)
Sound On Sound (Along with TapeOp, the best recording/tech mag there is - this is their podcast, again a bit of the Brit)
This American Life (NPR's show about things you might never imagine, sometimes interesting and sometimes riveting, with subjects all over the map. Ira does a fine job!)
Wednesday, October 21. 2009
I don't understand how a company can have such terrible support. It's like buying something from a guy on the street who takes your mmoney and then you never see him again!
Got the upgrade message for Pro Tools 8.0.1 LE and after upgrading my system locked up because the Native Instruments B4II is not compatible with the upgrade. Had to drag it out of my plugins folder. The worst part is N.I. is NO LONGER SUPPORTING THIS PLUG AND OTHERS. Arrggh! More money wasted on software that now is obsolete. I bought the B4 originally, then paid for the upgrade (less than a year ago) and now it's vapor. I will never buy another N.I. product again. I realize it's difficult to keep up with all the system upgrades etc. but isn't that what a company is in for when they go into this business? I am disgusted with this lack of support from N.I.!
Sunday, June 21. 2009
While watching a trailer on HBO there was a song playing that had the words "You addict me" in the chorus. There were some other lyrics that are now fading from my head like waking up from a dream. I thought it was a cool song and a great time to check it out on itunes. Couldn't find it.
I searched a while more and then wondered, if an artist whose song is on HBO is impossible to find doing a lyric search, what about me? So I googled one of my own oddball lyrics and it didn't come up. Then another - Nada. But on the third one I tried, from a more recnt CD, it came up on billkahler.com. (Check it out.)
Turns out it's a good idea to put your lyrics on your site somewhere in case someone hears a song of yours and wants to download it on itunes.
Of course that's just my opinion and I realize a lot of songwriters are afraid their songs are going to get stolen. Probably not. The bad thing is, no one will know about them at all.
So I finally got the extension tube for the Pro 44. It took a bunch of emails and calls to customer service before I finally got a reply. I was told I had to order the part (#MP-181) from a Hammond dealer. Strangest thing about it was that since it was drop shipped from Hammond, they couldn't tell me any details on cost!
I gave my credit card number and a couple weeks later got the package. Inside was a tube very much like the flexible gooseneck hose that originally came with the 44, only shorter - about 8" long. When you bend it and insert the flexible plastic hose, you gain about 2 - 3" which helps with the bending-over-playing position but it's not exactly ideal.
Originally I guessed the part would probably cost about $15 plus a few bucks for shipping. Ah, but hammond is really proud of their stuff and their price on this was $36! They apparently are very proud of their shipping too because for a one pound package shipped UPS ground they charged another $16, bringing the price for this up to $52 and the total for the Hammond Pro 44 to $602! Holy smokes.
This will be my last Hammond purchase I believe.
Had I known all this on the outset, I certainly would have figured a way to attach contact mics to my Hohner $125 melodica instead.
Then again, if one pays 10 times more for a Jaguar than a Honda, one doesn't get a 10 times better car. . . .
Please visit billkahler.com.
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