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Musicians Kicked Off Gig Because of… Demographics?

Dancing With The Stars fires Longtime Band
Apparently a well-directed group of highly-trained musicians is not cool or hip enough for today’s younger TV viewers, who, according to highly-crunched data, polling algorithms, and ABC executive Lisa Berger, prefer machine-made dance music and DJs spinning mp3s. And there was also something about an 18-piece big band not being able to adequately cover songs by that ballroom dancing favorite, The Clash.

DWTS Will Sound Different in 2014
Trouble: Big Band Arrangements of Pop Tunes

Of course, I’m showing my age by using words like “cool” and “hip,” so the DWTS bean counters aren’t worried about my demographic anyhow. OK, so I never really watched the show, but I don’t like it when fellow players lose a gig for any reason other than doing boneheaded musician things.

Perhaps this is just an extension of today’s prevalent attitude that music should be free, that musicians don’t need to be paid to perform. Just give away the recordings, and we’ll buy the t-shirt. (Throw in a free sticker, too).

Dispatches from Sarge’s Garage

Dave Sarge is the go-to guy for amplifier repairs in this area, the guy that knows electronics, tubes, and speakers inside and out. You know the type – if he can’t fix it, then it ain’t broke. So, I felt both disheartened and relieved when, after checking on the status of my busted keyboard amp, he began his response with “Well, I certainly will not be charging this on an hourly basis.”
Traynor K4 Keyboard amp
Apparently neither he nor the Traynor/Yorkville company amp tech in Canada has come across this particular issue of loud constant popping from the speakers whenever the amp is turned on.

(Cool, my amp is SO hipster).

So, whenever Sarge does get it figured out, I suspect there will be an addendum made to the Traynor K4 Service Manual, and I can feel happy that I was able to fund his latest opportunity to further contribute to the knowledge base of amplifier repair, and make the Universe a better place.

(For the record, I love this loud, aggressive, multi-featured keyboard amp and miss it terribly… It enables what happens on my side of the stage to be more than just support staff to the guitar-gods I’m fortunate enough to play with).

The Music-Copyright Enforcers – NYTimes.com

LP record

Those who listen vs. Those who pay (Brian Rea)


Most places do, and it directly benefits me. My songs are registered with BMI, and whenever I play them in a public venue, I fill out a form on the BMI website stating when, where, and what songs I performed. Then, twice a year, I receive a royalty check from them – just like Willie Nelson and Lady Gaga.
Now if you bought a CD or downloaded an mp3 for personal use, then you’ve already paid for it – play it however you want. But if you’re a commercial establishment playing recorded music for your customers, it’s kinda like having musicians play all day/night long. You wouldn’t expect a live band to play for free, any more than you should expect a bartender or cook to work for free. And it’s good to know that some of the money paid for licensing goes not only to the superstars, but also to the little guys like me.

2013 >>> 2014

Of course I’m playing for New Year’s Eve!
This will be the 5th year in a row that I’ve had the pleasure of ringing in the New Year with Maxwell Strait and all our Phyrst Phriends. It’s been a real honor to share the stage with my amazingly talented bandmates: Molly Countermine, Rene Witzke, Ted Mccloskey, and Jack Wilkinson. Thanks so much for all the great music and great friendship. See y’all tonight!
Maxwell Strait's photo.

Drawbar Organ Voicings

OK, this post is just for me so I can easily find this webpage again. But if you’re curious, “drawbars” are the sliders on a Hammond B3 organ (or a Korg CX3 in my case) that you pull out or push in to mix the sound. Each drawbar corresponds to a particular tone or overtone, similar to a pipe organ. Most electric organs have 9 drawbars, and by pulling them out to different lengths you can create many different sounds.

The webpage I’m linking to has a list of many popular settings, such as the one used by Booker T for playing “Green Onions.”

Drawbar organ voice setting library provided by Keyboard Service.

The History of New Orleans Piano in 8 Minutes

This guy! Jon Cleary is the heir apparent to Dr. John, in my opinion, and this video demonstrates why. He effortlessly runs through a litany of piano styles, showing an easy mastery of each. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen him several times on the Bluescruise, and he is truly amazing. There are so many things in this video that I try to emulate in my playing, but I still have a long way to go. Click and enjoy!

Get Music for Free – Simply Don’t Budget for it.

Indie recording artist Nathan “Whitey” White got asked this question one too many times…

Whitey lashes out when asked to give away music for free – Disc Makers.

Just Another Sunday…

Sunday’s jam got CRAAZY! I knew it was going to be good when I walked in just in time to see the Steelers roast the Ravens. And there was more heat when John Guyer brought his funky guitar to the stage, along with his harp-blowing-guitar-ripping friend Dave. Trevor twanged out some sweet riffs, and Anthony tore up the eight wires on his Schecter for maybe(?) the last time before he ships back Down Under. Jon and Nate thumbed some serious four-string bottomness while Joel & Josh & Arup kept a steady Mojo working.

But the joint really got to jumping when Natascha & Jackie & Joy & Eric put their voices to the microphones, powered by Cheech taking out his Ravenous frustrations on Stubby’s skins.

Of course, we couldn’t do it without Nolan keeping our glasses filled along with Phil’s tasty concoctions sliding out of the kitchen.  Sure beats sitting on the the couch tube-watching.

Just Another Week in Happy Valley

Rolling along, watching the leaves change, and playing music. Already have one rehearsal and two piano lessons out of the way, now it’s time for gigs.
Happy Valley Sunflowers
Thursday @ The Governors’ Pub in Bellefonte, 6:30-9:00. Stop in after the BHS Homecoming Parade; be sure and wave Hi to Grand Marshall Patti Hilliard, a fellow classmate.
Also Thursday @ The Phyrst w/Maxwell Strait, 10:30-2:00. Laying down the grooves w/Molly Countermine, Ted McCloskey, Rene Witzke, and Jack Wilkinson. Yes, we will rock you.

Friday @ Zeno’s w/The Triple A Blues Band, 7:00-9:00 – Serenading the PSU Homecoming Parade. If I wasn’t playing I’d be marching with fellow alumni in the Penn State Glee Club, along with Bill Besecker.

Saturday, PSU Homecoming – and I don’t have a gig. Really. What the hell am I going to do? Anybody need a piano player this Saturday?

Sunday we’re Jammin’, Jammin’, Jammin’ at the Darkhorse Tavern, 8:30-11:30. Bring your axe, sign in, and play some tunes. we welcome anyone willing to get up on stage. PA and backline (drums, keyboards, guitar and bass amps) all ready to go.

Thanks to WPSU for featuring my essay on “This I Believe”.
~~~~~~
Like most people, I get to feeling bad from time to time about one thing or another. Things don’t always go my way, and the march of daily disappointments often leaves me in the dumps.

But what gets me through the blues is music — music simply called “The Blues.” Blues music emanates from the roots of our difficulties. It’s music that has its genesis in the blood and sweat and toil of men and women who worked hard in the dirt and the dust and the mud and the grime of fields and forests long ago; men and women for whom music was one of their few salvations.

Some people still work like that, but many more of us in this day and age do our work sitting on our butts, talking on the phone, staring at a screen, pecking away at a keyboard. Now, I happen to love my work – pecking away at a piano keyboard. It’s not backbreaking hard labor. But I still get the blues, and playing blues music helps me deal with the bad stuff that inevitably happens.

The rhythms and chords and scales of the Blues may seem simple, but to me the sound of the Blues is as complex and contradictory as our lives. Minor melodies of experience play against major chords of desire, over a groove that pushes fast and pulls slow, creating a harmonic richness full of dissonance and resolution. I find great joy and satisfaction in hearing and playing through these moods of the Blues.

The stories this music tells are those of the human experience: our woes and sorrows, our joys and triumphs. When I play the Blues, the music has a way of distilling complicated troubles. It addresses the thing that’s really getting me down and brings it to light, allowing me to sing and dance in its face. When BB King cries “The Thrill is Gone,” Charles Brown warns about “Bad Bad Whiskey,” and Otis Spann proclaims “It Must’ve Been the Devil,” I know I’m not alone. Someone else has suffered just as I have.

The Blues also brings me together with a community that is not distinctly liberal, conservative, religious or secular. Rather, it is all those things. It is universal – everybody gets the Blues. There are Blues lovers and musicians all over the world who support live performers, listen to Blues radio stations, go to Blues festivals, form Blues Societies. They publish magazines, create podcasts, sponsor competitions, and present awards.

They do this because the Blues means something to them and the music speaks to their soul – just like it speaks to mine.

So whenever something gets me down, I get down to the roots of American music and rejoice in the immortal words of Little Milton who sang, “Hey Hey – the Blues is all right, Hey Hey – the Blues is all right.”

So yes – I believe in the Blues.