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4/21/10
5/21/10
8/5/10
9/27/10

2/15/10

Hey long time no update. Hope everyone had a great Holiday Season and everybody got everything they wanted. Due to my lazy ineptitude I missed my yearly Holiday rant but we've all heard that before. All in all things have been going reasonably well. I'm sure we're getting sick and tired of the winter, I know I am. I'm hoping for the snow to make a hasty exit and the beginning of some nice weather.

<you know the deal>Unfortunaltey I haven't really been listening to any new and different music these days. It seems that everytime I turn on the radio, which is pretty rare, I either hear the same Boston tune or some new formulaic homogenized tuneage that grates on my nerves. A while back I was in the car with my son and he always wants to hear music so I let him run the radio. Well, he puts on a pop station and I have to tell you that every tune I heard had autotune on it! I think this effect while in the beginning had some merit to correct pitch has become such an abused piece of audio processing. Its unbelievably annoying how absolutely cliche it has become. It's kinda funny how he's into a lot of the Hip Hop stuff. I find it kind of disturbing how much cannibalization there is in that genre of music. The sampling is so rampant and pervasive. It would be nice to hear a bit originality. I tried to educate my son with the likes of James Brown who of course is one of the pioneers of the funk genre. What's nice about the old school stuff is the fact that there are actual instruments being played. Nothing can beat a groove delivered by a human. Instead grooves and beats are derived from a machine. I really don't get it. Maybe I'm just too old. </you know the deal>

 

The new disk is going well. All the songs are written and the rhythm parts are all tracked. Looks like we have a total of nine tunes. I started working on melody lines and solos. I also have been working on the artwork and have come up with some of the visual counterparts to the music. I have a lot more work ahead but I think it will be worth it.

 

Things at UMusic have been slow as far as the band goes. Seems like we're on hiatus for the moment which is ok as it gives me more time to work on my project.

I have actually been recording some of the old Roadhead material over at Jeff's studio for the past couple of months. Things have been going quite well. We have the basics tracked (rhy guitars, bass, drums) for one of our tunes. it's been a fun diversion and quite productive as well. It's also great hanging out with Jeff and Dale again. There's nothing like making music with good friends.

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4/21/10

Back again! Things are greening up nicely. Now that makes me happy. I was really starting to get pretty tired of the cold, wet, snowy winter we were having. Hell we even lost power for a couple days due to that crazy wet snowstorm we had a couple months back. I had to break out ye olde generator and get that beast running so we could stay warm! Living inthe northeast certainly has its challenges. The good thing is that when the weather does start getting warm you REALLY appreciate it!

And so it begins...the first moronalogue of 2010. (Hey Gary!) This one even has a title ...Chasing The Dragon. (sounds like a cheesy metal tune, but its appropriate). Anyway as one of many bajillions of guitar players out there in the sea of wankery and chromatic hooha I am truly guilty of chasing the dragon. What the hell does this mean you ask? Well as I've continued down this extraordinarily long road of becoming a legitimate player I find that there have been many detours, potholes and dead ends. Now that's not to say that these detours and dead ends haven't been worthwhile its just that I maybe could have streamlined the learning process by avoiding them. Since the interwebz has made this world much smaller and has connected many like minded people it seems that I run across a new "killer" guitarist almost everyday. In addition to that we have the ability to see as well as hear our guitar heroes/influences anytime we want. This can have a positive or detrimental effect on our psyches depending on one's mood at that moment ...but I digress. Ahem ... So what seems to happen is that we want to have the considerable chops that these guys parade in front of us so we set out to find out all about these "new and improved" players. Maybe grab some of their cd's, or buy there books or instructional dvd's, download their tabs and study them etc etc. Now this to a point is good. For one, you are supporting said player (making a living as a guitar player can be a sad state of affairs), and also you see how music is conceived and played through another person's perspective. Going through this process many times, I feel, could have a negative effect on one's playing. It seems like we are always looking for that magic bullet, that mystical secret that only the really good players know about that gives them their godly guitar powers. I have students that come in looking for that "concept" or that "exercise" that will upon 5 minutes of practice take them into the realm of Allan Holdsworth or beyond. (If there is a beyond, beyond Allan). Anyway...The negative effect I'm talking about is the loss of ones identity. Ever listen to a guitar player who sounds exactly like Greg Howe, Allan Holdsworth, Jimi Hendrix or Jeff Beck? I have heard some absolutely uncanny imitators. Frightening really. My argument is, "what's the point?" Wouldn't it be more fulfilling to sound like yourself? Now I'm not railing against the old adage "good guitar players borrow, great guitar players steal." I still think that school of thought holds some water. What I am railing against is the idea of us sacrificing our voices as musicians because we want to be just like *insert name here* You, me and all the other struggling musicians have a lot to offer. We may just not know it yet because we're too busy trying to alternate pick like Steve Morse, sweep like Frank Gambale, and tap like Steve Vai.

I feel like many of you guys do. It seems like we have so far to go. The more we learn the more we have to learn. The more skills we get under our fingers there's always that next phrase/lick that's just out of our reach. Kinda depressing when you think about it. Then I had a semi facilitated epiphany the other day. I was talking to Lou (friend, partner in crime, guitarist extraordinaire etc) and he's a good bit farther down the road than me as far as playing experience. He said play what's in your heart. What sounds good to you is what you should do. Stop worrying about what everybody else is doing. He also pointed out something very important. He said that it seems like each player does one thing and does it well. The example I gave before, Gambale with the sweeping or Brett Garsed with the legato. These guys found their niche, their way of playing, their own fingerprint, their special "thing" that makes them identifiable in style and substance. What's unfortunate is we kinda pigeon hole these guys by their technical specialty as opposed to appreciating their work as a whole (but that's a whole other story). Anyway I guess what it comes down to is to really play for yourself and nobody else. Makes sense when you think about it. Now that being said that doesn't mean we should give up our ambition to conquer the world one note at a time. I just think maybe we should try to play our notes our way instead of somebody else's.

 

Like I said last time around all the basics are done on the new disk. I pretty much wrapped up solos/melody lines for 3 songs. There seems to be a lot more guitar work this time around. I'm not really the kind of person to just jam out to the rhythm tracks and hope for the best. I really like to try to come up with some melodically coherent stuff. (At least I like to think so). Progress is good.

 

Things at UMusic have been busy. I edited some video of the performances that we did and put them up on the site. You can check 'em out here. We also recently had a Improv Workshop that was videotaped and edited. Please have a look and see if it would be something you may be interested in. We recently had an Applied Theory workshop which was great. Video to come!

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5/21/10

I'd like to take some time to recognize two great losses to the music/entertainment industry that happened recently. Peter Steele and Ronnie James Dio.

Peter Steele:
I got into Type O in the 90's, probably when most of us did, when they released the seminal Bloody Kisses album. I remember when I first listened to the disk and was a bit taken back by this whole dark gothic, semi religious, vampiresque imagery and sound thing. I found Steele to be a charismatic front man and later found out that he was a bit of an unwilling front man at that. His look, vibe and vocals were intimidating and yet melancholic and but still fucking cool. His lyrical imagery generally dealt with love, loss, addiction and anarchy. Most importantly I don't think I had heard anyone in metal sing in that low a register before. I was used to the operatic or screaming style of singing that was the norm. The music I thought was facinating as well. Downtuned buzzsaw guitars. Distorted bass and pipe organ based keyboards provided a dirge like backdrop for Steele to sing about his dead girlfriends, vampire dreams and killing all the white people. That said TON were probably one of the most sarcastic bands to ever exist. They called themselves "four dicks from Brooklyn", they never took themselves too seriously. They put their first label Roadrunner on the map with the groundbreaking Bloody Kisses and from there never really deviated from their goth/punk/metal formula which propelled them to stardom. As with all bands there were some problems and unfortunatley most of them rested on Steele's shoulders. He suffered from clinical depression, drank to excess and indulged in recreational narcotics. All of these things, I think, probably contributed to his early death at the age of 48. He received help for his depression and checked into a hospital for his drug use. Unfortunatley he also got checked into jail for assault. Upon release his family and friends staged an intervention and insisted that he check into a mental institution to get additional help. Later on he became a self professed Roman Catholic which is somewhat ironic to how the public perceived him. Before he died he was in the midst of a long period of sobriety and was getting ready to write a new record upon signing with new label SPV. I feel he was a great writer, performer and a cool piece of my musical vocabulary. RIP Peter Steele, you are missed indeed.

Ronnie James Dio:
I wasn't really a huge fan of Dio's but I respected his work and his work ethic but most importantly I respected him as a person. I never met him or went out of my way to buy his records as I felt it was never my taste but from what I've read in interviews and also from talking to his fans he was a genuine guy and someone you would want in your corner. I was saddened by his untimely death and it got me thinking about him and I decided to do a bit of research. It turns out that he was 67 when he passed. I didn't think he was anywhere near that age! That piqued my curiosity even more. I wanted to find out about this guy's long and illustrious career.

Ronnie released his first record/single in 1958. Yep 1958! The band was Ronnie and the Redcaps. He initially played bass in the band and then moved over to front the band later on. In 1961 they changed there name to Ronnie Dio and the Prophets. This lineup released many singles up until their demise in 1967. In 1969 Dio, then in the band the Electric Elves shortened to Elf, caught the eye of Richie Blackmore. When Blackmore left Deep Purple he called upon Dio and the members of Elf to form Rainbow. Rainbow released their first album in 1975. This is where I think Dio came into his own. He would then release 3 more records with Blackmore and then leave due to Blackmore wanting to take the band in a more commercial direction. A couple of sidenotes: Dio performed on Roger Glover's solo effort, The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast in 1974 and Dio also provided vocals for the songs "Homeward" and "Sitting in a Dream" on an album which featured former Deep Purple vocalists Glenn Hughes and David Coverdale. After leaving Rainbow in 1979 he joined the flagging Black Sabbath replacing Ozzy. They put out the landmark Heaven and Hell record thus revitalizing Sabbath's career. In 1982 he met Vinny Appice and finally formed his own band "Dio" thus starting his enduring solo career. Since then he's worked with notables such as Pat Boone, Tenacious D, and Queensryche (as the voice of Doctor X off of Operation Mindcrime). He briefly rejoined Sabbath for a year or so in 1992 to record Dehumanizer then left to resume his solo efforts. After many tours and records he then rejoined Sabbath one last time in 2006. They changed their name to Heaven and Hell for legal reasons and put out the wildly popular album, The Devil You Know. They had a great tour and were looking forward to recording new material when Ronnie was diagnosed with stomach cancer. This unfortunatley spelled the beginning of the end.

Like I said at the top of the column, I wasn't what you would call a real Dio fan. But that doesn't mean that I can't appreciate his talent, perseverance and body of work. He was a true cornerstone in the metal community and for that he will be missed.

 

The new cd is going well. Solos are done for 4 songs! Man this is a lot of work!

 

Things at UMusic have been going well. I edited some workshop videos check them out here!

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8/5/10

As summer begins its peak its nice to see everybody and pretty much everything in full swing. Everybody, including me, is trying to do as much stuff as possible before the fall sets in and school starts up again. It's been a fairly productive summer so far for me musically and in most of my other endeavors. I still have much more to do but progress is being made. <moronalogue>

I've been thinking on how what would be the best way to release new music this day and age. Releasing in the digital format seems so impersonal and well...I don't know... cheap. I remember when I was quite a bit younger going out with my dad to Korvettes to pick up a new record. I was probably around 9-10 years old, just starting my album collection. I loved just picking up the record, be it Yes, Zeppelin, Tull, whoever and marveling at the artwork and design. I would be so psyched if it was a gatefold because I knew that when I got home I'd be able to remove the cellophane and open up the record to see what eye candy was inside. Even the record sleeves themselves had artwork and were an integral part of the whole package. Also pouring over the liner notes/lyrics hopefully to get insight of the band members and the vision that they had for the release. Back then there was no internet. There was only magazines and whatever the artist released. I think the absence of the 24/7 facebook twitter BS enabled a mystique to be formed about the band. As a 10 year old and a total Zeppelin fan I fell right into the whole mysticism and vibe of their music and the imagery that went along with it. The band Yes as well, with Roger Dean at the helm of their artwork and design. He created a certain mood and atmosphere in which the music was able to really take hold of your imagination. Try and do that with an mp3.

I remember going to my dad's apartment and marveling at his immense record collection. All the Beatles on vinyl (of which I snagged a few :-). Just piles and piles of records. I would look through them all and admire all the work that went into each one of these albums. And if one of the covers looked cool to me I would ask to listen to it or simply ask what kind of music it was. I was lucky to have grown up in a period where vinyl was kinda still around. I feel bad for the kids these days who weren't really exposed to the great vinyl medium. It seems that music has grown so disposable and devalued. The respect of the labor and time put into quality music has really been marginalized. I know that part of that is due to the industry itself. With manufactured stars and cookie cutter songwriting it seems that the days of artist development are long over. If you don't hit with your first CD you're done. There is so much great talent out there waiting to be heard that isn't affiliated with Disney or MTV or whoever. Hanna Montana? The Jonas Brothers? I obviously missed the boat on this one. I just don't see the draw. When you strip away all the glitz, sugarcoating, video bullshit all you have left is the music. I don't think I need so say any more. The other side of the coin is that all the great talent out there can attract a very decent following via the internet...which is good. Now in order for them to make money they somehow have to monetize their product...which is hard. You have to tour and sell merchandise...which is a gigantic pain in the ass. Hopefully you'll make money...hopefully. The days of recording a record and selling a million copies and then retiring are over.

I understand that "music" is a business as well as an artist's form of expression. In order for a business to be successful you need to make it profitable. These days with the major labels shitting the bed and people taking their careers into their own hands it seems that costs need to be reduced thus the packaging has seemed to take the biggest hit. (Maybe the best idea for me is to press a few hundred disks and let digital distribution take over after they're gone. I guess I could make the artwork downloadable so people can see what I see when I listen to the music. It just seems so detached and disjointed this way. You lose the impact of the whole sound/imagery thing, but I digress.)

Unfortunatley it seems that circumstances will take a huge role as to what the future of music distribution is going to be like. Also its not just music that is going to take a hit. Movies and books, games etc. Everything is already moving over to the world of downloading on to your computer screen, your Kindle and even your phone. At least the musicians aren't alone. The idea of "cloud computing" -

(Wiki says) Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid.

Cloud computing is a paradigm shift following the shift from mainframe to client–server in the early 1980s. Details are abstracted from the users, who no longer have need for expertise in, or control over, the technology infrastructure "in the cloud" that supports them.[1] Cloud computing describes a new supplement, consumption, and delivery model for IT services based on the Internet, and it typically involves over-the-Internet provision of dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources.

... is now coming down the road. I wonder how this will effect distribution of not just music but all media.

The idea of instant gratification is indeed a tempting one. But if one doesn't know what its like to wait for something good (a car ride home with your new record/game). Instant gratification will become the norm. We become spoiled. We lose perspective of how long something takes to be created. We lose respect of the process. We lose perspective on the love and attention a book or a piece of music gets during its gestation when we are able download it in a matter of seconds. I guess we are all victims of technology, for better or worse.

I guess I've reached that point in my life when I start to yell at those damn kids to get off my lawn and get those damn white things outta yer ears! At least I get to look at the wall of my studio and admire all eight of my Led Zeppelin records, framed and forever preserved for the pleasure of my optic nerves. </moronalogue>

 

The new cd is going well. Solos are done for 5 songs! Been doing some test mixes. Starting to sound half way decent.

 

Things at UMusic have been going well. I edited our first open mic video. check it out here!

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9/27/10

While working outside this weekend I noticed that the leaves were falling (cue Ramble On ;-) So it looks like I'll be on my way...who am I kidding I ain't goin' anywhere. It was kind of a bummer though. I still have a lot to build, stain, paint and I gotta clean that damn green stuff off the house by the deck! <moronalogue>

I figure I've been a bit lackadaisical about updating the site so I should try and be a bit more consistent on that front. I updated the reviews section a bit got rid of dead links and put in pdf's where necessary and touched up on the splash page. Since it looks like I'll be doing a full on website re-do with the new release I'm not gonna get nuts :-). Since I really don't have a specific topic for my moronalogue this time out so I figured I'd go for a more "stream of consciousness" approach and see how much trouble I can get in :-)

Mid-term elections coming up and I am somewhat underwhelmed by who and what I see out there. I did not find it to comforting to see Steven Colbert testifying in front of congress in character. I thought it was a waste of time and money. When I was a bit younger I kinda thought the whole government, congress thing to be quite abstract and was quite disconnected from it. Since I've seen pretty much every Bugs Bunny episode I watch the news a bit more these days and I realized that all these people that we elect are not what they seem to be (I'm being obvious and respectful here). The career politicians are getting a bit of a wake up call now which I think is a good thing. These senators and congressmen/women are supposed to SERVE the people...right? They are on our payroll, right? But it seems like they serve themselves instead. They all find an easy time of dodging the law and getting away with a lot more than the average citizen. Tax evasion, bribery, hookers etc. I know I'm not telling you anything that you don't know. I guess I find it a bit disheartening.

My great-grandmother lived til 102 and I was fortunate enough to be quite close with her and got to know her quite well. My son even got to know her too which is a rarity. She died when he was 2yrs but he remembers her very well. What's cool is that she was born in 1899 and lived in 3 different centuries and my son was born in 1999 and hopefully he'll do the same. Anyway the reason why she pops into mind is that she was such a genuine person. She meant what she said and was a straight shooter. She lived through WWI, The Depression, WWII, The Korean War, Vietnam and all the other good and bad times in between. She saw the birth of the automobile, telephone, TV and was the first in her area to have indoor plumbing. She was a treasure trove of wisdom and had volumes of anectdotal humor stored away in her brain. She worked fulltime til she was 84. She invested money in the stockmarket and did quite well. She drove until she was in her mid 90's. And she was responsible enough to realize when to stop. She even made her own clothes. I don't hear about people like her nearly enough. Everybody seems to be worried about the next cellphone coming out or what the next Apple gadget du jour is going to be. I do miss her quite a bit.</moronalogue>

As far as guitar goes I've been working hard on getting my left had together a bit more. Lots of legato work. It's been very challenging getting my timing accurate and convincing. Also the feel is important. Not trying to sound so mechanical but also keeping the slop down to a minimum. Working out on a lot of different exercises and ideas. YouTube is a real boon if you're looking to learn something new. There is nothing like being humbled by a kid half your age! All you can do is pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going!

 

The new cd is going well. Solos are done for 6 songs! The last song I worked on was tough! It's over 9 minutes. Not sure how it got that length but it just seems right. I have been working very hard to make the melody lines different and convincing. I've been coming up with some very strange stuff. But to me it seems to fit the song. Been doing more test mixes. Posted one here.

 

Things at UMusic have been going well. We had another open mic and it was a lot of fun! Check it out here!

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