Category: Flotsam and Jetsam


Do Ya Wanna Taste Al?

I still plan to get to more requests, but this one is going to be hard to beat, though I do regret filming it in portrait orientation. My friend Jennifer suggested I do the #Peacemaker theme song in the style of one of my all time heroes, “Weird Al” Yankovic. It immediately formed in my mind.


Consent Is Sexy

I saw a friend’s post about how consent is everything and this sent me off down a rambling mental rabbit hole that I will now inflict upon you all (with your consent).

I have always been super paranoid about NOT wanting to be “THAT guy.” I grew up raised by great, strong mother and always generally got along with women better than men, and consequently, heard plenty of women throughout my life bemoaning the fact that if they were even just friendly with a guy, that too many times guys took that the wrong way and thought it meant interest. So I never wanted to be that guy. And pretty much everyone I’ve ever dated will vouch for that by way of the fact that you have to really beat me over the head with your interest before I’ll even consider that it might be true.

I used to joke that someone could be standing naked in front of me with a flashing sign (pun intended) saying “I WANT YOU” and I would think “She’s just being friendly, let’s not make assumptions.” As a heterosexual male, I always wanted my female identifying friends to be comfortable around me and never have to worry that I was going to take anything the wrong way. Most of my past relationships probably started with the phrase “What took you so long?”

There’s one courtship in particular that will forever amuse me. I had a co-worker who I had become friends with and definitely felt some interest toward, and I thought it was possibly mutual. We started hanging out, going to movies, and just spending time together and enjoying each other’s company. At some point she started staying over. In my bed. Totally just as friends. Sometimes she would lay her head on my lap in my Nissan pickup. We took at least one road trip I remember to stay with a friend in Dallas and go to Six Flags and we stayed in the same bed. Totally platonically.

After a while of this, I started to think I had a chance. One night we were in my room, on my bed, listening to The Beatles and talking. By this point, the whole situation was pretty ridiculous, and yet still, somehow there was doubt in my mind. So finally, when the tension had become unbearable, I just blurted out “Do you want me to kiss you?” As I remember it, she just stared at me, a little in shock. I felt like she did, but for some reason was maybe afraid for us to go there or something. So then I said, “Okay, well I’m going to kiss you unless you tell me to stop,” and moved in, very, very slowly giving her every chance to eject or give me any indication that this was not a good idea. She didn’t stop me and it was indeed very mutual and we had a relationship. It really was very sweet, and not at all weird or icky as it could sound when written out like that.

I really wish we could all just be more transparent in that regard because even though we may feel like we give off totally different signals when we are interested, from the receiving perspective it often doesn’t look all that different. And I am most definitely someone who does NOT want to go anywhere I’m not wanted or make anyone uncomfortable. I always say that I’ve never really “dated” and it’s true. It’s always just been organically meeting someone, us becoming friends and falling for each other. I’ve never chased it or felt like I “needed a girlfriend” to feel complete, happy, or whole. I love being in love. I love being in a relationship and being a good partner. I love having a mutual partner in crime. But I’m also very much fine on my own. I’m certainly not going to “settle” just to have “someone.” I’ve never been a “hunter” in that regard. It has never been unusual for me to go years between relationships, although my current stint of 5 and half years may be the longest, but it also makes sense for reasons we don’t need to get into here.

I try very hard in all areas of my life to see the good and not live in gratitude and not from a mindset of lack, focusing on what I don’t have. There are definitely benefits to being single. I’m not saying it’s better, just different and that there are good points to focus on. I have no idea how to end this rambling brain detritus. So just imagine I ended it with some pithy, witty, yet deep and emotionally resonant point that wraps everything up really nicely. #JediMindTrick


A Few Musical Equipment Recommendations

If you know me you know I love sharing things I love. So I will link to two recent acquisitions in the comments. I recently got a new MIDI keyboard, the Nektar LX88+ that will be more suited for live use but also has TONS of great features for using with your DAW as well. When I started looking at new MIDI only keyboards (no onboard sounds built in) that had more controls for controlling various things, I was SHOCKED at most prices. Many were as much as a decent self-contained keyboard with sounds! This one however is a steal for what you get. Total DAW integration with most major DAWs and TONS of functionality, controllability, and customization. Super impressed. 88 semi-weighted keys that feel pretty good to me. Read the manual to really get the most out of this as there’s a LOT of power packed under the hood.

Second, in my quest for a more easily mobile guitar rack for my small space, I found a GREAT one that I’ll link to that’s on rollers. As a bonus there’s a LOT of space between guitars that helps protest them more, leaves space for acoustics or electrics, as well as protruding vibrato bars and room to tuck straps away or what not.


Immersed In The Beatles

The Beatles have always been my #1 band for as long as I can remember since childhood. They are in my DNA and my biggest influence. So it makes me silly excited and happy to be sitting in on keyboards with the legendary Austin Beatles tribute band, The EggMen at the end of February on 2 afternoon gigs where we will also be accompanied by 2 different orchestras.

I’ve been doing nothing but practicing and getting my sounds and other technical stuff sorted and it’s been bliss. In all my years of playing music I had never sat down and learned “The Long And Winding Road.” I love all the beautiful chord voicings Paul chose. I decided to notate them in case I needed to easily remind myself later, so if you want some very basis sheet music that basically goes through a verse and the bridge but covers all the chords you will encounter, then here you go! Enjoy and play it yourself! That’s actually been refined a little bit to be more accurate since I made this video of me practicing it.

I also was surprised that of all the songs I’ve been learning, “Piggies” has challenged me the most. It’s got some really intricate parts, played by producer, Chris Thomas. As challenging as it is, it’s also a lot of fun.


Tremmory Review

If you play a guitar with a floating vibrato unit (commonly known as incorrectly Tremolo units as Tremolo is the modulation of volume while vibrato is the modulation of pitch), then you probably know that involves a lot of compromises. Because these units strike a balance between string tension and springs in the back, you can’t change tunings, if you break a string everything else goes out of tune, and if you do a double stop (bend one string while fretting another) the fretted string will be pulled flat by the bending of the other string.

Continue reading…

Pedantic Music Nerdery

I was just discussing with my Yacht Z band mates how I have a strange and irrational hatred of doing songs in keys other than the originals. I know this will likely get me some flack as so many bands do it, usually to make it easier for vocalists. Now to be clear, this is not meant as any kind of attack on anyone as this is just my personal preference and it is a subjective opinion that is not “right” or “wrong.”

Firstly, if I can’t sing a song in the original key, then I just won’t do it. I subscribe to the school of thought of only doing songs I can do. I find it interesting that altering keys for vocals is a standard practice but yet it would not likely be cool if someone was like “Eruption is too hard to play. Can we do it 20 BPM slower? That will make life easier for the guitarist.”

Secondly, often altering the key makes life hell for other instrumentalists, especially guitarists where chord voicings are often very key dependent. Especially if they use open strings or such. Sure you can use a capo if you’re going up but if you take a song down (usually the way it goes) a lot of guitar parts become impossible to play without completely retuning (a MAJOR issue if you have a floating vibrato system) or using some artificial digital detuning which never sounds or responds quite right.

Thirdly, and this is probably the most subjective of the bunch, different keys just literally have a whole different sound, feel and vibe. I’m always amazed at how altering even a single half step can make something suddenly just feel completely different and off.

One caveat here is when a band plays in a different tuning. For example Guns N’ Roses, Stevie Ray Vaughan and other liked to tune a half-step down, so in those instances if you are in standard tuning , you will actually be playing the song a half-step up if you play the correct chords, voicings, lead lines and such. While that will still be affected by my third point, that’s the least important and it’s far more important to be able to play the parts as they were played. For example SRV’s “Pride And Joy” has lots or low E string and open strings in the leads and such, so playing that in Eb in standard tuning is a ridiculous and impossible prospect. In instances where a band detunes, the playability far outweighs the sonic differences of playing it in standard tuning.

I will admit that one recent gig had a song lowered by a half-step which made the piano part WAY EASIER for me, so I just counted my blessings on that one.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk on Pedantic Music Nerdery.


The Minutiae You Miss

Let me begin by saying that in general I’m totally fine being single. I’ve never been someone who needed someone else to feel complete or happy or who felt this desperate NEED to find a relationship. I try to focus on the benefits of whatever my current situation is as both have their perks. Going years between relationships is not unusual for me.

That being said, sometimes I’ll miss the most strange and random things. I’m sitting in a hotel lobby waiting to be seen for a fitting that’s running late, and I just found myself missing that constant connection that’s always there when you have a partner. Someone you maybe text/chat with throughout your day and just that feeling of always being connected even if you’re not actively communicating.

So yes, basically it boiled down to missing someone to text mundane boring fluff to. “Still waiting. Love you. I need to go get an oil change.”


A Moment Of Gratitude In Honor Of My Past Self

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.