Summer NAMM 2014 Nashville -
So I was lucky enough to make it down to Summer NAMM in Nashville. To be honest the main reason for my journey was to see my cousin/brother Neil Rapaport. He's the owner of Pikcard and frequently attends the NAMM shows to do business and make connections. I hadn't seen him since the last NAMM I attended back in 2008. That's way to long. If you're not familiar with the NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) Show its basically a trade show full of music related gear/products. Many artists who endorsed specific brands are in attendance to play for the company they are affiliated with. Each company has a booth to show off their lines and will freqently have artist signings and other events to help promote their product. The show is a three day event and is closed to the public except for the last day. Needless to say it was freaking bedlam on that day. I went down with my friend Roger who had been interested in checking out the show after I had mentioned that I went to the winter version of NAMM in Anaheim California. Both shows are very cool and have a lot to offer. Both shows are quite different in vibe though.
Click the pics for full size.
So after another long absence I'm finally going to wrap up this update.
A lot has happnened since July so let's do the abridged version. The guitar playing has been going fairly well. I had a couple of New Years resolutions that I actully followed through on for 2014. For 2015 I have a couple of things in mind but 2014 proved to be more tangible in the actual outcome of my plans. Its funny I've kinda fallen into a mindset of "practicing" my guitar instead of "playing". That's one thing I have to change. More playing = more fun. Music should be fun.
In addition I took some time and wrote 50 songs for TV/film etc. This allowed me to explore many different genres which was a lot of fun. I touched on straight up rock, classic metal, jazz, latin jazz, blues and even a bit of country-ish type stuff. This is something I really felt was valuable in my development. I need to continue to do this as versatility needs to be something I'd like to pay more attention to. Also writing tight, concise melodies. This stuff is not about the chops, its all about content, punctuality and impact. It also really honed my engineering skills as well. Due to the sheer volume of work I was producing I had to streamline my workflow and really dig deep into the programs I'm using to save time and be more effective.
I also enjoyed a nice recording gig with the local band "Without A Net". Starting in August and wrapping in January we recorded 6 songs plus two edited versions of one tune for a total of 8. The process was fun and very interesting as the genre of music was something I wouldn't have done otherwise. Again another learnng process. Lots of instrumentation and vocal harmonies. I wish those guys all the best with their new CD.
At the beginning of October I was referred by Lou Ubriaco (U Music) to John Ford (Ford Piano) for a live sound gig. Live sound isn't necessarily in my wheelhouse as I come from a studio background but I figured that I'd like to give it a shot. The venue is The Hudson Room in Peekskill NY. Its a beautiful venue with a nice big raised stage with proper lighting and sound system. The food is absolutely top notch and it has a great atmosphere. Its been an interesting and very educational 5 or so months over there for sure. Initially we started with a Presonus 24 track digital desk which worked well for about 3 or so months. It then failed pretty much catastrophically. It was sent in for repair and on its second night back from repair it failed again. This was at the end of January. We were lucky enough to have John Ford's Mackie analog board which performed great in a pinch and came to the rescue. Within minutes we were up and running finishing the night in good form. Needless to say we parted ways with the Presonus and now we are using an Allan & Heath Qu-24 digital board. I have to say this board, so far, sounds beautiful. Much more of a full range sound and depth than the Presonus. It has a more logical workflow and much less aggravating to update. A nice upgrade for sure. So I mix there on Friday and Saturday nights which gets me out of the house and lets me check out the local scene a bit. :D.
I had been working on some new original music but I put it on the back burner due to time constraints. With the way things are in the industry I find it harder and harder to justify all the time and effort needed to put out music as it just ends up getting pirated. I was fairly militant about putting out new material within a certain time frame but these days I'm really in no rush. I treat that part of what I do as more of a hobby than a business...which is unfortunate but a sign of the times.
I'm planning on getting my "Betcha CAN Play This" video series back up and running soon. I have a couple of cool ideas I'd like to share and of course the general silliness sprinkled throughout those videos makes it all worthwhile.
Catch me on Facebook and say hi!
So another year has wound down and a new one rears its ugly head of seredipity. I have been quite irresponsible in updating my site, as you can tell by the dates below ;). I guess I was hoping to see if the time left in '13 would bring something mind blowing...it really didn't. A few things have occured that I will get into below but first its really time to start off the new year right with my first moronalogue of 2014!
<moronalogue> This may be a bit disjointed as I'm pretty much going to type stuff that is running through my brain that has or is affecting me somehow. Ok first off, I'm really not getting along with winter this year. I have to say that where I'm at we're supposed to get 10" of snow this evening and while it is quite beautiful to look at, dealing with the logistics of everyday life with this is a drag. Are there places that get tons more snow than me? Of course. So why bitch? Because I can and its my moronalogue ;). I find that as I'm getting older I lean towards liking the warmer parts of the year than the colder. May can't come soon enough!
I really didn't feel Xmas this year. In general I am the living and breathing archetypal Scrooge. I really had no inclination to decorate anything or be infused with the Xmas spirit. I feel that Xmas plays an important role in two different phases of one's life. The first being when you are a kid as that's where the real magic occurs. The second is when you have kids of your own. My boy now is a teenager and as a boy of his generation he's more interested in the loot and communing with his bro's than hanging out with us. This is of course typical, kinda sad, but typical. I did it too. I am quite lucky to have him in my life. It seems I've learned quite a lot about patience, soccer and being a parent, but I digress.
Xmas Eve started at my parents. The food was very good and we got to hang with my grandmother who always seems to get a kick out of her great grandson. The boy is quite entertaining. The usual opening of gifts occured and the over indulgence of assorted pies, ice cream and candy was wide spread (pun intended). We left quite satiated and it felt as the struts in my truck were groaning a bit more on my side than usual. ;). Xmas day was filled with cooking and then traveling to Long Island for the yearly Xmas Day soiree. Again food and drink was consumed in copious amounts with minimum drama. New Xbox games all around and assorted gifts made themselves known to their recipients. One thing I found heartening was that my two nephews developed an interest in music, guitar especially. They're both waist deep in their teens and steeped in the hip hop culture. I found this 180 degree turn from MPC generated beats to organic music quite curious. So I felt quite useful while I was there tuning up their new instruments and explaining how TABs work and where they can download them. It put my playing in perspective as well. Here were two complete beginners just starting out down the road I've been on for years. I was actually a bit jealous. They have so much music to discover let alone all the great players that created it. They also received "Rocksmilth" which is an Xbox game that teaches you how to play guitar. Pretty crazy! I hope they stick with it. As all of us know playing an instrument and creating your own voice on it is extraordinarily rewarding but also very difficult.
New Years Eve was a slow night for me. My son and wife were under the weather so we left the carousing to the professionals while we turned in at the brink of the new year. 2013 was not such a great year. A close family member had to deal with cancer this past year which was tough. I'm happy to say that they survived quite handily and is now nearly perfect. I am indeed thankful for that. So I guess the year did end on a high note! I've made a couple of resolutions which I'll keep to myself so I don't jinx 'em ;). I hope everybody has a prosperous, fulfilling and kick ass 2014! </moronalogue>
Musically things have been creeking along. I've made a couple of decisions on stepping up my progress as a player. I have some goals to make and I'm going to try to remain a bit more focused and purposeful. I have the bulk of what I need to work on delineated and I have been shedding quite a bit to get where I think I need to be as a player. I also really need to try to promote myself a bit better and that is something I have to work on. I wish I had that gene that some players have that are able to do it so well and ambitiously.
I've been enjoying the group I've been playing in as of late. We consist of Nick Vara (drums - teacher), Ann Kripackyj (keys, voice - teacher) and Roger Figuroa (bass). We've been working up some tunes for reinterpretation and general maligning. We seem to get on quite well as a musical unit and hopefully will continue to work and progress further this year. As far as my own material I had a nice run for a bit nearly completing four new tunes. I got sidetracked for a little and recently started working on a fifth. I'm feeling I really need to submerge myself into writing again and start recording. Its always a bit of slog getting underway but once critical mass and proper momentum is achieved things can start to coalesce quickly.
A couple of musical high points for me this year was the acquisition of my Strandberg* designed Boden 8 guitar. I have to say that this instrument is a pure pleasure to play. Scroll down for a review and assorted gushing. Also my Fractal AXEFX II has been so much fun. The box is so deep that I think it would take me years to take full advantage of all its parameters and magical fairy dust that's been sprinkled over its guts. Its the gift that keeps on giving as Cliff Chase (inventor and in house genius) has been kind enough to consistently upgrade and deliver more goodies each passing month...for free.
Well that said I hope to challenge myself even more this year and start to deliver as well. This music/guitar thing? Once its in your blood there's no letting it go. Happy 2014!