My friend Annie posed the question: What if the #Peacemaker theme was an R&B song? Dammit, people, I have work to do! Stop presenting me with ideas that just BEG for life! This may be my favorite yet.
This is all my friend Jennifer’s fault. She HAD to go and say the #Peacemaker theme would make a good ragtime song and so my brain wouldn’t leave it alone.
It all started (as so many things do) last Thursday with me being silly by myself. I was singing “Do Ya Wanna Taste It?“, a song by Wigwam which has become extremely popular as the theme to the great show, Peacemaker. I was singing it very properly with acute enunciation because it amused me. I then decided to make a TikTok of it.
Then as soon as I had posted this, I thought to myself, “Actually, this would make a really good dark, moody, stripped down ballad with an underlying sinister feeling to it,” and I immediately started working on that. Somewhere around 6 or 7 hours later, it was done. Or so I thought.Continue reading…
Recently I found myself needing a live gig keyboard. I have my trusty M-Audio Keystation 88 in my studio that I use with all my soft synths, and on the rare occasions that I’ve needed a live keyboard, I’ve taken it out with my laptop running my soft synths and it’s been fine, but as I’ve started to play more keys in a few projects I wanted a simpler solution. The thing is, I’m still mostly a guitarist and bassist and so that, combined with the fact that I was only playing some keys and I did still have my MIDI controller and soft synths made it hard for me to justify a high end Nord, Kronus, or the like.
That’s when my friend and bandmate David Houston introduced me to the Medeli AKX10 which he had just ordered for the same reasons, as he hadn’t played much keys in a while and had just taken on a keyboard gig. Now like a lot of musicians, I initially had my doubts about this keyboard for several reasons. One it’s sold as an “Accompaniment Keyboard” for one-person band type situations, like bistro singers who want to be able to have features like one-finger left hand chords and backing accompaniment that can follow your chord changes in various styles and arrangements. That plus the fact that any keyboard with built-in speakers, to my experience was mostly a low level keyboard that would make pros would turn their nose up. I found myself falling prey to some of these biases as well. Though to be honest, I do like some of the frills like the pulsing colored lights on the sides of the keyboard and the different color schemes you can choose from for the buttons. I just needed a big variety of great sounds, good feel, and a great usability, so why would I want to pay for a bunch of extra stuff I’ll never use like the auto-accompaniment and such?Continue reading…
As I get ready for some upcoming gigs, rehearsing, organizing sounds and setlists, I had a random moment of extreme gratitude aimed at teenage Heath. I remember as a budding young musician lusting after guitars and equipment that was so far out of my reach that it might as well have been a million dollars. I remember this amazing multi-effects unit, the Roland GP-8 that I wanted so bad. I remember my amazement when Scott Eddy brought over his Roland JX-3P synth and it was like magic to me.
Now I’m a professional musician with 5 amazing high end electric guitars, 2 acoustics one of which is made of carbon fiber, 2 amazing basses, a keyboard that makes that JX-3P seem like a toy, digital models of thousands of synths, effects, guitars, amps, cabs, mics, etc. at my disposal.
I would say I’m living young Heath’s dream, but that’s not accurate as I don’t think he could have dreamed this big or known what would one day be possible and in his arsenal.
…or a journey into my ever-overthinking mind.
I recently auditioned for a play. Because the casting decision have not yet been made and I don’t know how much information is okay to give, I will not be revealing the specific show or roles.
When I was a younger man, I thought the title role (henceforth known as “Role 1”) was one of my “bucket list” roles. Then in 2014, I actually read the play and decided that actually the other male lead (henceforth known as “Role 2”) was really my bucket list role. Meatier, deeper, more complex. I actually identified with both roles in completely different ways.
Cut to 2021. I’m doing another play and one night backstage I just happen to mention that Role 2 is a bucket list role for me. One of my castmates tells me that a local theatre company is actually doing that show next year. When I get home that night, I look up their website and see that they’re actually accepting video auditions at that exact moment and for the next couple of weeks! I video a short monologue and send it in. A few weeks later I get an email telling me they’d like me to come to callbacks! At this point I reply telling them that I’m really only interested in Role 2 and I hope that’s okay. They tell me it’s totally okay and thank me for letting them know. I download the sides and start reading. Once again I fell that dichotomous connection to both roles and end up thinking that they are both really great and might both be “bucket list” roles. However Role 1 says “early 20s to late 30s” while Role 2 is “late 30s to late 50s” so I figure they probably wouldn’t be interested in me for Role 1 anyway.
A week or so later, I get another email about specifics for the callback. On a whim I replied explaining that the reason I said I was “only” interested in Role 2 was because I just figured I was technically too old for Role 1 even though I do still get cast a lot in the mid to late 30s as well, so if they wanted to see me for that role, I’d be happy to read for it as well, or could also be happy only reading for Role 2. They reply that I could definitely read for both roles so that becomes the plan.
Immediately my brain starts wondering if I did the right thing. “Now you’ll have to split your audition time between both roles instead of really digging in to Role 2! The one you REALLY want!” Is it though? Role 1 is pretty amazing too. Getting to read for two amazing lead roles is a GOOD thing, I tell myself.
Callbacks arrive. First I read for Role 2. They give me some notes and a few minutes to prepare and I come back and do it a second time. Then for the next 2 hours and change, I only read for Role 1. I read 5 more times I believe. 3 different scenes with 4 different scene partners. So naturally my brain tries real hard to feel a little bummed that it sure seems like I’m out of the running for Role 2. Despite the fact, that I had an absolute blast in the scenes for Role 1 and felt like I really connected and brought something special to it. Regardless of whether or not I get cast, I felt totally happy and solid with my work in both roles and I had a blast with great scene partners and a director who seems amazing and a kindred spirit. So really, I feel nothing but great but have to laugh at my whirling maelstrom of a mind that wants to overthink and second-guess everything.
It’s up to the universe now. Well, that and the director.
I had to bring it into existence.
Let’s talk about my new guitar. Did I need this guitar? Absolutely not. My Variax will always be my number one and can get the sounds of so many amazing guitars all in one plus so much more (I could go on for days but that is not the subject of this post). Plus I have two other amazing electrics already. So why did I buy this guitar?Continue reading…
EDIT 1/19/2023: I just had to re-set up CSI and the newest version at this time is 2.0 and seems very different, so many of my original instructions aren’t relevant any more, I think. I’m still poking around and setting up the new version with custom layout. The instructions on his Wiki are great and this new version incorporated a lot of the things I had previously customized. I really only messed with the “buttons.zon” file and copied over a lot of the customizations I had made for my personal workflow as I don’t use a lot of the more advanced functions like VCA, or mapping FX parameters or anything like that. I did notice the X-touch had a firmware update I hadn’t installed (1.22) and still I could not get either of my AMD Ryzen machines to recognize the X-touch in update mode. Luckily I had an old Intel laptop around still that recognized it while in update mode and I updated the firmware. Overall CSI 2.0 seems way better right out of the box and eliminated the need for some of the tweaks I had previously made.
I have used Reaper as my Digital Audio Workstation software for about 15 years now and absolutely love it. Recently I decided it might be nice to get a physical control surface to use with it. I initially got a Korg nanoKONTROL to dip my toes in the water. It’s a decent little surface, but I very quickly realized that if I was going to go this route I wanted to go all the way and actually have motorized faders and all the bells and whistles, so at the suggestion of many other users I got a Behringer Xtouch. The Korg unit had taken a lot of setup and tweaking to get it working with Reaper. The Xtouch works right out of the box though with only basic functionality mostly. I thought I’d document my journey for posterity in case I ever need to remember what all I did or in case it can help anyone else.