Been a while since I posted, I know, but I’ve been busy on so many fronts that I just couldn’t provide updates. Never mind, I’m here right now!
I had the great pleasure of playing last night in my lead guitar gig with Anne Castellano & The Smoke. We were playing at Strange Brew in Norwich, CT – a first visit for the band, and my first time at the venue. We were providing support for Ohio act, The Saturday Giant, who’s in the middle of a 39 date tour.
A few reflections and thoughts on the night.
For the first time in 36 years of playing live, I had a tube fritz out on me, killing the clean channel of my amp – didn’t have a spare tube, but wouldn’t have been able to replace it anyway (not quickly at least). Played the whole set through the dirty channel and rejigged all my pedals to make things work – got compliments, so it seemed to hit the spot
[a relief, for sure]
As ever, music has the power to help me overcome whatever angst this compromised set-up was giving me, and we played a tight set
[a tip for any up and coming musician - practice way, way more than you gig - the gigs will be much better for it]
The Saturday Giant is a loop-based one-man band, creating his loops live; quite complex sonic architectures. I use loops to practice improvisation
[so much better than a metronome]
I’ve never incorporated them into my live shows, because I’m still a little too song-based
[verse, chorus, middle 8, solo, etc.]
and prefer to focus on playing/singing rather than tap-dancing on all the pedals to control multiple parts.
With that said, The Saturday Giant is very, VERY good at what he does – at times his sonics touch upon Sigur Ros, etc. though with more of a hip-hop beat going on underneath. And several of us agreed that his version of The Pixies Where Is My Mind was one of the better we’d heard. Definitely worth checking out if you get chance to see him.
This morning, Jane asked me how the night went, and I was telling her all of the above. As we were talking, I realized that I wasn’t complaining about the venue at all. Typically, there’s some aspect of the venue that creates angst/leaves a bad impression – be it mic stands that don’t stay up
[oh, that one really, really annoys me]
monitoring that sounds like cloth over the speakers, sound men
[not meaning to be gender specific, but I've yet to meet a sound woman]
not listening/reacting to what’s happening on stage, playing in spaces not designed for a solo performer let alone a band. Either that, or the audience
[or lack thereof]
not being supportive of the music. I have to say it, Strange Brew is a GREAT venue to play. Jason was friendly and collaborative in setting up sound, the audience were listening and with us in the performance. In another place
[and sadly, I fear, another time - that has passed us by]
Strange Brew would be filled to the rafters. On a Thursday evening in downtown Norwich CT, it still had a reasonable crowd when we played, though it thinned out a little for The Saturday Giant – a pity, people missed a great performance. Hats off to Strange Brew, though – I look forward to visiting again, as a player and listener.
So, another night of music, of togetherness, of humanity. Live music is a power for good in our lives, thank you for supporting it in whatever way you can.
Just got back from a long weekend, camping in New Hampshire. What a great time! Some thoughts and reflections on the experience.
We were camping just outside Lincoln-Woodstock in the White Mountains region, so the first day was spent visiting a couple of river gorges.
First off, my favorite place of the weekend: Lost River Gorge – a long descent to the bottom of the gorge, then back up via caves and remarkable geology. The girls had a great time going through the cave formations and, when the cave permitted someone of my width to get through, so did Dad!
A bite to eat and then on to Flume Gorge – a longer trek here, less fun for the kids but with many more significant geological formations – vertical canyon walls, rushing waterfalls, vertiginous drops. Here are a couple of pics from the gorge itself:
Also, I now officially know where the treasure is buried:
[highly, highly recommended]
and both kids proved themselves to be willing to face whatever fear they had and keep going:
That afternoon, we drove over to Mount Washington, the highest peak in the north-east of the US – an 8 mile drive up the Auto Road proved that I’m still able to pull up some adrenaline when I need to! Of course, the summit was swathed in clouds, but we can at least say we’ve been there! And, continuing a trend involving t-shirts and mountain tops, I made sure that my Spindrift Guitars t-shirt went with me :)
All in all, it was a lovely weekend, though I do have to say that the region as a whole appeared to like Bro-country a little too much for my tastes… Despite that, I look forward to returning in the coming years – at a little over 3 1/2 hours drive away, it’s more than earned some more of my time!
As always with camping, I look forward to my own bed tonight, appreciate the wonder of rock, wood, water, fire and air, and value the sense of having disconnected from the machine even if just for a few days.
Those following along at home will know that I’ve been fairly quiet of late
[aside from lots of posts linking songs and videos]
There’s a good reason of course: this artistic life doesn’t keep the roof over our heads, nor food on the table and, frankly, I needed to get some paying work. Which I did. But to do so, I took a very structured choice to put all
creative projects on hold. I couldn’t give myself fully to growing my business while also diving deep into the pool. Neither effort would be successful – and, while my soul needs creativity to be successful, a LOT more rides upon my ability to put food on the table. It was a weird time all right, and I can’t say I fully enjoyed the sensation of constraining my creative energies.
But it is what it is
[and I still played the guitar throughout!]
Business done, and can now turn my attention back to those projects that have been lingering:
- Grope – the record progress well, some vocals to retrack and mixing, but it’s sounding pretty much as I wanted it to.
- Vincent Tuckwood Band – I’ve recorded and performed my original music in a band setting as Monkey68 for a number of years. With the release of Sparse, and my solo work under my own name, beginning to get some traction, like my recent public access television appearance:
it doesn’t make sense to maintain two separate brands – so Monkey68 will be retained for more esoteric recording excursions, but the band will now be under my own name.
- RUFUS – this novel was about 30,000 words in when I put things on hold, I like what I have, and Rufus (and his journey) is pretty cool, though I admit I have some story arcs to refine before I can take it much further, not least of which is the presence of a very dangerous, yet passive suite of bad guys – they’re bad all right, it’s just that a lot of it’s under cover – I have to figure them out before I can go much further.
- ASYLUM – originally a short film project (that got to about 1/5 of its funding target via KickStarter), I always knew that Sol’s journey was more than the short film, and over the last few months, the expanded story has been tickling at me – too early to share specifics, but I have begun mapping out the book. Like ESCALATION, I believe it’s going to be a quick write. One thing I do know is the title of the novel, which won’t be Asylum, but I’m not sharing it just yet
[yes, I am a real tease]
It’s interesting to dive back into these pools, and their welcome embrace. Like many artists, I wish I could do so without the constraints of considering where the next buck is coming from, but I’ve managed
to balance things out. For a long time now, I’ve been putting faith into building a body of work that folk can dive into when they become interested. With 4 novels, a handful of screenplays, a poetry collection and one record out, that faith is beginning to feel justified now. With what’s coming it’ll feel even more justified.
Interesting times indeed!
Why I gave the National Association of Broadcasters, DiMA and CCIA the Shirt off my Back during Congressional Panel
Because it, like, toooootally makes sense that, in the digital era, songwriters are governed by a temporary law passed in 1947!
Originally posted on The Trichordist:
Diverse group of Washington DC lobbyists.
The major webcasters and broadcasters decided to convene a nearly secret last minute congressional panel to urge Congress and the DOJ to keep in place the 73 year old “temporary” consent decree that forces songwriters to let companies like Clear Channel, YouTube, Sirius, Pandora, Amazon and Spotify use our songs without any negotiation whatsoever. The consent decree also empowers a single appointed-for-life federal judge to arbitrarily decide what a “reasonable” rate is for songwriters. In effect we have been forced by federal courts to provide subsidy to corporations that have a combined market cap of more than a trillion dollars.
As I demonstrated in this an earlier post as a songwriter I received less than $17 dollars from Pandora for over a million spins of my song Low.
How is this a “Reasonable” rate?
The panel was hosted by Greg Barnes of…
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Warning – this is a guitar geek post – go no further if you’re not interested in such matters.
I recently spent some time back on my Fender Stratocaster, a guitar I wrote about here, and that feels so incredibly comfortable. I was trying to work out why my strat (a long scale guitar), felt small to me, while my Telecaster (same scale length) felt much longer.
There are a number of factors that go into it, of course:
- neck width – my tele neck profile is thicker
- color – my strat has a rosewood neck, my tele’s is maple – as I look down, the lighter wood is more visible
- radius – my strat has (I think) a 9.5″ radius, where my tele has a compound radius fretboard, which looks wider at the body, because it flattens out
But, of all the variables, I think it comes down to how each guitar hangs on the strap.
Believe it or not, I’ve spent the past few days paying a lot of attention to how I stand and hold each guitar.
On a strat, the strap button is above the 13th fret, on a tele it’s above the 16th fret. And because it has a longer body, my strat hangs kind of diagonally, putting the pickups in front of my right hip, so I tend to pick/strum closer to the neck pickup. Here’s Stevie Ray Vaughan and his strat (no picture credit, unfortunately), showing how the strat’s neck often ends up more diagonal and in front of the body.
The tele, however, hangs more horizontal and puts my picking hand closer to the bridge pickup. Take a look at this picture (credited to Laurie Paladino) of The Boss
[who has been known to play a tele just a few times!]
to see how the telecaster hangs more horizontally and away to the side of the body:
Angling the tele the same way as the strat feels really, really odd. Similarly, angling the strat to the horizontal feels just WRONG!
And, it turns out that the reason these guitars feel so markedly different in size, isn’t down to size, but instead to the fact that my left arm has to extend further out to reach the end of the fretboard on the tele – no matter what height I have the guitar on my body. Interestingly, I also notice that I ‘hunch’ over the strat more when I’m playing, like I’m coiling around it. This isn’t an uncomfortable feeling, it’s kind of warm and centered. I don’t get the same sensation playing the telecaster – it’s a great guitar, but just doesn’t have that mojo I get with the strat.
As I think about spiritual and physical centre, and striving to remain in balance with the energies within me and around me, this all seems to make sense – and perhaps explains why I feel like I’m coming home when I play my strat – or indeed why the guitar seems to have a life of its own.
Either way, it’s just another reminder of how blessed I am to have these instruments in my life, and how grateful for the music they help me channel.