A little experiment: Sharing the love at Patreon

So, here’s an interesting thing – I have a favour to ask. Would you be willing to be part of an experiment with me?

Back in September, I shared how I was moving most, if not all, my spontaneous creative work to Patreon. It’s why I’ve been so quiet here since.

A small number of people followed me over there, and I’ve been posting fairly regularly – new songs, impromptu jams, an unfinished novel, prompted poetry – you know, that sort of thing…

I’d like to get more people there but I came across something really, really ANNOYING about Patreon’s functionality.

Put simply, it’s REALLY difficult to find artists on Patreon, unless they’re already successful.

The flip-side of this is that it’s nearly impossible for an artist to find patrons on Patreon! Basically, you have to build audience elsewhere, and get them to Patreon to pay you.

[Patreon then reaps the reward of your hard work through their fee]

Sigh… Such is the way of things in the arts on the internet.

Still, it got me thinking – and the idea for my little experiment began to form.

Here it is in a nutshell:

For every 5 patrons I have at Patreon, I will ask the community to tell me 3 undiscovered artists who I can, in turn, sponsor on Patreon.

Basically, each one of my patrons will actually be sponsoring 1.6 artists just by sponsoring me at Patreon

[8 artists sponsored by 5 Patrons]

Though, of course, in reality it’s me sponsoring the extra 3.

[and yes, passing on 60% of my sponsorship]

My self-interest is simply to be able to afford to keep making music, writing books, and offering them to the world – but to be able to do that while also helping others do the same is just amazing.

So, here’s my question: Are you willing to be part of my experiment?

If so, all you need to do is sponsor me at Patreon – here are the per-month levels:

  • $1 – No reward – just for those who want to help me do what I do
  • $1 – Music Fan – you receive a physical and digital copy of any new CD I release
  • $2 – Avid Reader – you will receive a hard- or e-copy of any new novel I release
  • $10 – SUPERFAN! – you will receive physical and digital copies of any new CD or Novel I release, and private invitation to special events online and face-to-face

And, of course, you can choose to pay more than those subscription levels, but the amounts above are the minimum to get going.

So what say you? Are you willing to help me help you help my sisters and brothers in art?

Sponsor me at Patreon

2016 Whalie Awards Nominations

I am very, very lucky to be part of an incredible music scene here in South East New England

[some have suggested New London, CT is the Live Music Capital of New England – and who am I to disagree]

The Whalie Awards celebrate the breadth and depth of talent across our corner of the universe and I’ve am honoured and humbled to have been nominated across the past few years, including winning the Americana Record Of The Year for 2014 with Sparse.

While winning may be nice, I know of no musician here for whom the making of music is in pursuit of awards, and the same is true for me. Every year, the Whalies serve to remind me of how lucky I am to make music, and to share that music in collaboration with so many others. For this reason, you won’t see or hear me shouting that you need to go and vote for me or mine in the people’s choice awards. If it helps, you should know that I don’t vote for myself in the awards!

For those keeping track, though, I (or we) have been nominated for the following awards this year:

People’s Choice

Critics Choice

Voting for People’s Choice ends tomorrow (6th June) and ceremony is next Saturday, 11th June – immediately following that, Anne Castellano & The Smoke, are playing at 33 Golden Street, just down the street from the awards – so I guess we get the after-party!

Some things for you to ignore

Because right now, in all honesty, I’m tired of self-promotion and trying to persuade you to read/listen/enjoy anything I’ve put into the world.

So go ahead, please ignore…

Novels
Records
Poetry
Live Music
iOS Apps

Guitar Stuff | A new pedalboard build

Over the past few years, I’ve been simplifying

[well, that’s one word for it]

my guitar effects boards, and had ended up at a ‘big board’ which had lots of options, and a ‘small board’, which did the basics

[both of them very well]

More often than not, it was the small board that I ended up playing, because I used the effects on the big-board on only one or two songs during a multi-set gig.

Now that the new line-up for Monkey68 is practising regularly, I’m getting to revisit my approach to pedals; mainly in light of the fact that, as the lead singer in a rock trio, it’s really hard to tap-dance on pedals – and I need to get back to my point-and-click approach.

So, with all that said, what did I play at practice last night?

Reverend Guitars Double Agent III

Reverend Guitars Double Agent

 

I am lucky enough to own and regularly play a number of great guitars and, for my money, at their price point Reverends are very, very hard to beat. The Double Agent pairs a classic humbucker in the bridge with a fat P-90 in the neck, and it snaps and growls in just the right way for what I do.

But you don’t want to hear about the guitar, you want to hear about the pedals! So…

IMG_1832

 

Here’s the chain:

1) TC Electronic Polytune Mini – fantastic functionality, tiny footprint, what’s not to love?

polytune-mini-2-backstage-image

2) Xotic EP Booster – I’ve written about this one before, but it’s always on at unity just to add it’s special sauce to my raw tone.

EP Booster

3) Dunlop MXR Phase 90 – did somebody say Gilmour?

Phase90-11

4) Build Your Own Clone Silver Pony – A Klon Centaur clone for $79? Don’t mind if I do. One of the best overdrives I’ve owned.

5) TC Electronic Flashback Delay – using this as slapback on my clean settings, or as a specific front-of-house effect on particular songs.

Flashback_Delay_front

6) Xotic X-blender – here’s where it gets interesting, and this is a new solution this week (* see below).

XB_detail-1

 

7) TC Electronic Spark Mini-booster – the best clean boost I’ve tried, for one you just need more!

spark-mini-booster-persp

* So what’s the X-blender all about.

With Monkey68, I wanted a lead tone that really cut through the mix, with a reasonable helping of extended delay (because things get EMPTY when the rhythm guitar stops in a trio). With all the pedals described above, and with my amps dirty channel thrown into the mix, I can get the sound BUT it takes three pedal presses, often while I’m singing the chorus or middle 8 leading into the solo.

Not good.

Similarly coming out of the solo, needing to hit the vocals strongly, while hoping I’m pressing the right thing off.

Bearing in mind that I really, really dislike presets

[I used a Line6 Pod way back in the day in front of my amp, and hated not being able to switch things in and out on the fly]

and just needed something that was always available over-and-above whatever sound I’ve got going on, for a long while, I’ve been considering wiring an expression pedal to deliver a parallel loop functionality – off in toe-up, full-on in toe-down. While I was researching, I came across the X-blender while researching and it does exactly what I need

[though I’d still prefer it in an expression pedal rather than the large blend knob]

So, in the loop of the X-blender, I have an Xotic BB Pre-amp Mid-boost model, set to deliver a mids-heavy boost, driving into a Dunlop MXR Carbon Copy analog delay. It’s a searing lead tone on its own, but with the blend at about 50-60% against the regular signal, it’s just the right amount of boost and effects for what I need to do.

And one true bypass switch on/off (i.e. it’s there or its not there)

Great stuff.

I’ll be playing with physical placement over the next few weeks, but given how it sounded last night

[particularly with the Reverend]

it’s very close to done.

ADDENDUM – I FORGOT THE AMP!

I suddenly realized that, because my focus was on the pedalboard, and X-blender in particular, I didn’t mention the amp I was playing through last night!

It was my 1996 Marshall JTM-615:

marshall-jtm615-1995-1997-7580

 

[the picture isn’t of my amp, which is down in the practice space, so I can’t get a pic now]

It’s a 60W 2-channel amp, with independent channel volumes going into a single power stage master volume, and both series and parallel effects loops. Spring reverb with independent level controls for each channel. The transformer is UK-spec, but built to be rewired for 110V AC if necessary; an easy mod.

The main strength of the JTM-615 is that it has a clean channel to die for

[on the verge of break-up, it does just what you expect it would]

which takes pedals very, very well. I could gig quite easily on that channel alone, and have, because…

The gain channel isn’t much to write home about for what I play – it gets fizzy very quickly and, to my ears at least, the dirt sounds similar to a distortion pedal rather than valves getting pushed. OK, but not great.

Of course, I may be spoiled by the fact I’ve been playing Budda, Mesa-Boogie and Vox amps since I gigged the Marshall regularly with Grope, so I’ve got used to some pretty iconic tones

[and I’m also much better able to use those tones now]

The JTM-60 range of amps wasn’t around for long, just a couple of years. Came in a variety of head/cab sizes. Guitarist magazine gave it a great review and I got to try it at the London Music Show before plonking down my cash

[my original Sessionette:75 2×10 had blown up at a gig a week earlier]

I was mostly playing my Strat at the time and the 15-inch speaker rounded out its tone nicely. Even with that, it’s a very bright amp, particularly if you don’t angle it up

[a low level amp stand is a must for most gigs; if it’s pointing at your legs, it’s undoubtedly calling to every dog in the neighbourhood]

I think that Marshall thing of leaning towards all-frequencies-all-the-time is partly what makes the drive channel fizzy – dialling back the presence, treble and, particularly, the mids makes it much more workable

[which is why the Xotic BB MB booster cut through so well when kicked in]

The JTM-615 is my practice amp, and gives me what I need to woodshed tunes with Monkey68.

I do use it on a gig every so often now – ironically because it’s a great option when no pedals are on the ground; the guitar volume and tone controls can cover a lot of ground when both channels are used appropriately. Truth told, though, for live now, I much prefer my Mesa amps.

Still, last night, my little-big-old-UK Marshall brought the tone 🙂

 

 

 

 

Getting the band back together

Last night was our third practice with the new line-up of Monkey68

[Craig and I are pleased to welcome Trevor Chandonnait aboard]

and things are gelling really, really quickly, mainly because:

  • Craig has been playing with me for a couple of years
  • Trevor has a great feel to his drumming, and he and Craig are already locking together
  • We are playing in a pocket directly shaped for and by my songs

There’s also the fact that we are a bunch of old… erm… older dudes making music – dudes who have learned the critical skill of listening to what each other are playing. We’re old enough to appreciate constructive feedback, and collaborate to the best of the performance/song.

This line-up feels good. REALLY good.

[which is saying something, given how much I enjoyed playing with Tony, Pete and Patrick in previous iterations of the band]

Even at practice 3, I would have gigged what we played last night just as it was; seriously looking forward to how tight we’re going to become over the next weeks/months. As I near completion of the new record

[did I mention that?]

it’s also cool to hear those songs tried and tested with the band. I’m leaning towards, maybe, adding an extra player in at some point in the future

[keys – electric piano and Hammond]

though the core trio is my focus first and foremost.

Last night got hot and humid in the practice room, here’s a picture of as we were getting underway – and before the sweat started condensing on the walls!

IMG_1782

If you zoom in, you’ll see me in the mirror behind Trevor – so it’s officially a trio shot 🙂

Stay tuned for updates here, or even better join us at Facebook.

Love-peace-trust

Vince Sig 131x89

 

Songs we’re working on so far:

Wish-list, or coming soon!

 

Yes, but you have to have a pigeon-hole…

I’ve been called many things

[some of them nice, some not so much]

but the term I keep hearing is renaissance man which, according to dictionary.com means:

noun
1. a cultured man of the Renaissance who was knowledgeable, educated, or proficient in a wide range of fields.

2. (sometimes lowercase) a present-day man who has acquired profound knowledge or proficiency in more than one field.

Seeing as how I can’t claim Leonardo Da Vinci or Michelangelo among my contemporaries, I guess I must be number 2

[hehehehe… he said number 2…]

I don’t know that my knowledge or proficiency in any field is profound

[that’d be up to others to judge]

I generally think of myself as still being like I was when I was young: just plain  interested in everything that catches my interest. Which is generally good enough for me, and gets me to this body of artistic and professional work that I love so much.

Then I hear something like I heard last night.

Apparently, I was almost passed over for a solo show because

I need someone acoustic, he just does electric

Wait… What?!!

Did this not happen?

Or this?

It bugged me. It really did. Then I realized, I have the exact same reaction when people say they’re looking for a band but didn’t consider me. Even though this happens:

And this:

I can’t blame people – it can be tough for me to keep track of all the things I get up to.

And, of course, we live in a passive ‘push’ world, where everyone who wants to share anything has to compete against information overload. In this push world, I can build my audience here, and over at Facebook and only reach less than 10% of that audience per post.

And, unlike the world the internet talking heads rhapsodize, very few people share things onward

[those that do are a rare, and generous, gift]

So I have to repeat myself.

Again.

And again.

And again.

As someone who gets really twitchy about too much self-promotion, it’s exhausting to keep folk aware of what’s going on; constantly running the self-perceived risk of boring people with repetition.

I’ve been going through that this week with the release of Writers Flow – Music For Writing. The umpteenth post in the umpteenth direction and I feel like someone’s out there just grinding their teeth

Sheesh! Can’t Tuckwood just give it a rest with all his self-promotion?!!

But the truth is, I can’t, because I haven’t even mentioned:

  • Escalation
  • Family Rules
  • Karaoke Criminals
  • Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies?
  • Garbled Glittering Glamours
  • Grope
  • Writers Unblocked
  • We Are Story
  • mySetlist
  • myOrgDev
  • View Beyond LLC

and a shit-load of other stuff. If I don’t mention them, no-one else will. If I’m not in your face, telling you about my stuff NO ONE ELSE IS.

Exhausting.

Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to do one thing, to sit in one pigeon-hole – wouldn’t it be easier to just have to sell yourself as

the best [fill in the blank] in the world

then I really think about what that would feel like, the constraints, the constriction. I’ll take my exhaustion over that sensation any day.

Though, this morning, I wish there was some easy way to point out all the pigeon-holes I sit in at once.

I wish there was a Zagat’s guide for Vince.

I really do.

Love-peace-trust

Vince Sig 131x89

Talking of things I’d forgotten…

Taking of things I’d forgotten I’d put out there, while I was looking for vids for the previous post, this was in the listing at YouTube

This is the Combine The Victorious remix of my demo of Subside – a song yet to make it to a record – that I filmed while rehearsing for my solo show. Mark and Isabelle

[who also join me as part of the gang vocals on Sheep (One Of Those Days) from Grope]

really fleshed out my original version – both vocally and instrumentally – when I finally do a full release version of the song, it’ll have many of their tracks carried through.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the baldy Brit wailing in his basement 🙂

Love-peace-trust,

Vince Sig 131x89