Thursday, June 23, 2011


Time for a hard to categorize navel-gazing, update-to-no-one-but-myself post.

It was rough going there for a bit, but I think things are improving. I'm still a bit over-scheduled and I guess that's what happens when you are in five bands. Just the same, I don't feel like I'm falling particularly behind anyone else and that any short-comings are likely only visible/audible to me. But I do wish I was practicing more and improving more quickly...but there is only so much time and energy in the day. I'm certainly not slacking very much or often.

Helping out at Girls Rock Camp this week. I wasn't sure how well I'd deal with children. I haven't really had to as it turns out because I've got teens. I AM learning though that these events are mostly about herding cats and much less about musical skills.

The new bass amp arrived and I've only barely messed with it. But it is nice.

Working to sell some old equipment that I don't use on Craiglist...and that's a mixed bag. Trying to both clear out space at the house AND feel better about spending the money on the bass amp.

Starting to bemoan the loss of the Boss BR-1180-CD multitracker again. I've gotten up the energy to ask a few folks about it and to post a question to Boss directly and on a discussion forum. I'm not optimistic that I can get it to work again. I've thought about maybe taking it to an authorized repair person...but I suspect that will cost at least a few hundred dollars and, at that point, I'm not sure if it is worth it or if I should just be looking towards new equipment. At some point I'll probably want to make the jump to a PC based recording system anyway. Just taking it as I'm able...the whole topic is pretty upsetting to me so I'm not really focusing too closely on it.

Monday, June 20, 2011

TD, 6/17/2011, Wisco

We played first in support of The Skintones and The Binmen. I used my black kit. I didn't drink at all. I had a decent dinner and but stayed up too late the night before (and had a gig the night before...see this post).

I found myself over-thinking this performance. The drums sounded weird to me and my mind was racing during songs. I was having trouble relaxing. I screwed up lots of things...but mostly the second fill on Gun In Your Grave (I need to nail this down. I've been trying to ad lib it each time and that really isn't working) and the bass drum on HSUL. Easy Life didn't go well either. I can't tell if I was just very sober or tired from the night before. I had the same problem with HSUL at the dress rehearsal. This was the first time we've played it last, so on Sunday I tested myself. I played it first thing at start of a practice session, and then again after having played for a few hours. Similiar results. It was close to perfect at start of rehearsal and a real struggle at the end. I found that if I slowed it down (like to the speed on the recording) I could play it at the end of practice.

I left right after load out. Several folks said it was their first time seeing me with TD. I wish I had played better...but really I'm not sure what more I can do but practice and eat well, rest, and stay sober. Maybe find a way to relax before the show...meditate or something. Definitely playing two gigs two late nights in a row is not ideal.

At the Door
Gotta Tell U
Easy Life
Going Down the Drain
It's Alright
Sent It
Gun In Your Grave
Better N Better
One is for Man
Movin' On
Haven't Seen You Lately

SSW, 6/16/2011, WORT

We played for Psychoacoustics' pledge drive. They posted our set list on Facebook and people could call in and request that we play songs. They set us up in the WORT vinyl library with 40,000 records surrounding us and a very nice sound engineer. The setup was weird...vocals were monitored via headsets and the rest was just live to the room. Very diorientating. My drums sounded weird (note here that my drums sounded weird the next night too...but I tried tuning them at home on Saturday and everything seemed great. I think the carpeted nature of my house produces a warmer sound than in other kinds of settings. Very hard to compensate for. It's worth saying that the drums sounded fine on the recording of the WORT gig).

I had plenty of sleep and ate well. Had three beers before the show, none during, and four after. This after a full week of nothing to drink at all. My playing was okay. The band had not rehearsed in three weeks and some of these tunes we haven't played very often over the last many months. I found myself forgetting some parts. Strangely my body would take over and play the right rhythm, but not always on the correct drums or with the correct sticking. Most of these songs I don't "practice" on my own anymore unless they are giving me trouble. So it is interesting to see what my brain does with things that I have played for a long time and know well, but that I'm not actively working on. It gives me a glimpse of the future of CJ and the 50-something songs that I have memorized for that band, but can't possibly actively practice every week anymore.

There is a recording of this show...but I'm having trouble extracting it from I-tunes. It will live online only for a week, so I'm not posting the link here. Hopefully I can back fill with the recording later. Note that songs with no curse words were played 9:30-10:00pm and those with curses 10:00-10:30pm.

Incendentally they made their pledge goal and brought in $666.

Setlist. Ah the setlist. We didn't have one. But here's what I THINK we ended up playing:
New Rose
Two Pints of Lager
Don't Give Me No Lip Child
I Hate the Rich
Teenaged Kicks
Boscobel Breakout
Suspect Device
Fucked Up and Wasted
Too Drunk to Fuck
I Am a Cliche
We Are the Ones

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The New Baby

I decided to go ahead and buy the Ampeg BA600-115 amp. And just in was out of stock and discontinued at every internet vendor I checked except Amazon...who had ONE LEFT. So I ordered it and hopefully the inventory was correct and it is actually on its way.

I'm hoping this is the last bass amp I'll ever need to buy. It was a financial stretch, but I had a little money from teaching coming in and I just couldn't get over the balance of tone, power, price, and weight. It was just exactly what I was looking for and once I had a testimonial and the chance to try it myself I was hooked.

Just for the record, I weighed my existing amp last night and it is 65 pounds. The new one is supposed to be 50. Awesome.

SSW, 6/16/2011, WORT

We're playing live on the radio tonight for a WORT fundraiser.

Tracks you can request along with your pledge:


10-10:30 [plenty of fuck the fcc violations]

Not listed here is Starman...shit we know 25 songs!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Monday, June 13, 2011

BBC 7 Ages of Rock Documentary

Not sure this is gonna work...but...
better link perhaps here for full "Left of Dial" segment

Gigs with Other Bands to Date

I know I'm forgetting some here...particularly the SPB

9/16/07 at The Klinic
(I'm sure there was a second gig in Sept 07 at Klinic)
10/11/07 at The Klinic
12/22/2007 at Escape Java Joint
(surely we had more gigs in winter/spring of 07/08)
4/19/2008 at Glass Nickel
(we recorded our record in May I think, and weren't getting along from Glass Nickel gig onward, so suspect gig list may actually be complete from this date onward)

7/4/2008 at The Frequency
8/4/2008 at The High Noon Saloon
8/16/2008 at The Annex (my last show with them)

The Lollards
11/6/2006 at Private Party
12/2/2006 at Cafe Zoma
12/28/2006 at Revolution Cycle for RW fundraiser
12/13/2006 at The Klinic
1/26/2007 at Electric Earth
2/28/2007 at The Klinic
3/9/2007 at Original Coffee, Brookfield, WI
3/15/2007 at The Local Tavern
4/14/2007 at Oshkosh Half Marathon, Oshkosh, WI
4/20/2007 at Cafe Montmartre for Darfur fundraiser
5/18/2007 at Vilas Park BTWW Final Fiesta

Note: There are a handful of other shows out there with various upstart groups at various private parties, weddings, senior centers, and open mics from about 1994 onward. They are probably not worth noting here however.

SSW Gigs to Date

This one is harder because some shows predate this blog...

4/14 Mr Roberts
3/10 Mr Roberts
2/13 Harmony
1/8 Crystal Corner Bar

12/11 WYOU Fundraiser
11/5 Wisco
10/7 Mr. Roberts
8/17 Frequency
7/25 High Noon Saloon
4/24 Frequency
3/30 High Noon Saloon
2/25 Great Dane
2/14 Harmony Bar
1/22 Mickey's
1/8 Frequency

12/19 High Noon
12/12 Mickey's
9/6 Slackfest private party
July Private party at my house (first show with RS)
5/14 Frequency
4/4 Glass Nickel

TD Gigs to Date

4/4 High Noon
2/25 Beaver Dam Best Western,
2/3 Great Dane

12/31 Mickey's
11/4 Great Dane

Note: TD played many years of shows before I joined them.

CJ Gigs to Date

Looking back:

/27 Mr Roberts
5/21 Inferno
4/16 Mickey's
3/21 High Noon Saloon

12/4 High Noon Saloon
10/30 Mickey's
8/28 Mickey's
8/4 Frequency
7/8 Great Dane
6/4 Mickey's
5/19 High Noon Saloon
4/24 Frequency

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bass Amps when I forgot to post in a timely manner about the Mr. Roberts show I also forgot to mention the amp I used. And that's a real omission.

When we arrived at the show the Dead Beat Club had already backlined their equipment (pros). The bass player...who I THINK is named Andy and MIGHT be the bass player for The Shabelles too (dear this true? It is? Great!)...offered for me to play through his amp. Since his amp was nicer than mine...and mine was still in the car...and space was tight...I said "sure and thanks".

I did not get the model...which is a shame and might need to be righted (dear internet...can I friend Andy on facebook and ask him? I can? Great!). It was maybe the best amp I've ever used. And that is saying something, because for the Dane101 gig last December I played through a REALLY nice amp (note: I can't believe I didn't mention THAT amp in THAT show summary EITHER. I am really slacking and missing the whole original point of these gig summary posts. It was an Aguilar AG500 and GS412).

This one at Mr. Roberts was better, though...and here's why:
1. It weighed like...nothing. Less than my amp, and my amp is pretty light for a 15" combo amp
2. It was a human sized combo would fit into your car no problem. None of this giant cabinet bs.
3. Frankly I just liked the sound. Very clean and clear and loud. Just great. The boys commented on it too.

So...what the hell was it? It was Ampeg brand combo amp...probably with a 15" speaker. It had two channels...Andy told me only the "vintage" channel worked. It had two input jacks for different "dbs". It probably was an older model since one of the channels was broken. If he even knows what model it is...I'll be able to ask him pretty soon if I manage to remember. All the powerful combos listed at Ampeg now are more than 50 pounds...and this thing seemed to be more like 35.

Someday when my amp dies I want to be able to buy a new one based on some understanding of what I like and don't like in an amp. It's nice to have the Sun to fall back on, but it is too big to haul around and I don't feel comfortable using someone else's equipment long term due to the potential of damaging it and then having to figure out how one deals with that (fixing or replacing a decent vintage amp).

UPDATE: It was indeed an Ampeg BA600 just as I guessed. It sure did not seem like it weighed 50 pounds...but maybe mine, which I thought was 55 pounds is more like 60 or 65 due to replacement speaker. At Sam Ash this amp will run you $849...which, while more than I have to spend right now, might be a very decent deal in a year or so. 600 Watts in a compact package for less than 900 bucks is reasonable...and would be a solid step up from where I'm at currently. A side note...the 300W version of the same amp is $649 and is listed as only 40 pounds. I have heard bad things about Ampeg in the past...but maybe this is only with respect to the low end products. If it is good enough for Kim, it's good enough for me.

Status Update: Better

What a difference a week makes. I posted this kind of depressing status update on June 1st. That was 8 days ago. Since then I got some good practice time in (both of the songs in the sets AND of general exercise type things)...and maybe the pressure is off a bit too because I realized that I was maybe taking things alot more seriously than all of the other musicians involved. I feel pretty good about everything at the moment. Prepared and like I'm making progress and am where I need to be.

And, let's face it, I apparently am going to have a severe depressive episode about once a month for about a week for the foreseeable future. Them's just facts. I have to find some way to remind myself while it is happening that...this is gonna just a few days. Just ride it out, try to be kind to yourself, and when the motivation returns kick into high gear. When you are able, practice your ass off to carry you through the times when you can't manage to pick up a stick. If you do that, there will be general forward movement over time.

Brains...they are hard to figure out.

Brave New World: Effects

So my career as a bass player has been pretty low tech. The first three or four years, spent in Ye Olde Motor Primitves/Pants del Fwego, was me playing either a borrowed bass or a cheapie through a 30 watt practice amp. No effects. Not even really sure what all the knobs on the bass or amp did. In chapter two of my bass career, the Kim Deal project, I was still playing with no effects and crappy basses...through slightly better amps to be sure...but still only vaguely sure of what all the knobs were about. I learned to turn the volume on the bass all the way up and adjust volume using the amp...and that the other knob on my bass basically made things sound "sharper" or "muddier". Some things sounded better one way or another...but I stayed pretty middle of the road. I decided I liked a "clean" sound. And now I've entered chapter three...the Michael Ivins project...a man who said in Bass Player magazine "I never use a clean, Dave Matthews Band kind of bass sound—ever." So here I am...thrown into the world of effects. Luckily, with Ivins the education is pretty basic...possibly the best introduction I could have had.

Note here that, while I own an electric guitar, I've never played it what you might call "properly". Barre chords are still relatively new to me and the concept of power chords, though in theory understood to me, have not, in practice, become part of my toolbox. My history with the guitar is largely of playing chords in open position on an acoustic, usually with my thumb and index finger ACTING like they are holding a pick, but not ACTUALLY holding a pick (though I have started to use a pick now...perhaps in the last five years or so). I have never plugged an effects box into a guitar/amp rig...though the guitar amp I bought on a whim several years back has some crappy on-board digital effects.

So last night, our second FLIPS rehearsal, I learned several things about effects. Until now I've not understood any of this at all...and now it seems stupid and intuitive...but it was like a light bulb going on.

#1 Bass fuzz only sounds good on low notes. Turn it off if you know you are going into a high passage

#2 The volume knob on the bass can actually be used, you know WHILE you're playing, to do things like fade out

#3 Don't try #2 when you are "punched in" with an effect...cause you probably won't fade but instead will just suddenly drop out at some point while turning the knob (ergo, if you know you will need to fade out in an upcoming passage, "punch out" before you get the the note that needs to fade)

#4 The volume "punched in" is louder than the volume "punched out" all other things being equal. Try to adjust the volume on the pedal and the volume on the amp in such a way that this is less noticable (unless you WANT to be super loud punched in and super quiet punched out). For me I kind of want the level to stay pretty even. Suddenly...the design of pedals seems important. Can you turn the knobs with your foot? With shoes on?

#5 You kind of have to plot out when you will punch in and when you will punch out. For someone like me, who leans heavily on written notes while I'm learning a song, this means you gotta write in when to punch in/out onto your notes.

#6 If you only have one power cable and two pedals and both pedals need it...well there's some planning and bending over to switch the power cable involved in plotting your performance. For instance, my bass stays in tune pretty the only tuning I do during a show typically is when I have to tune down to low D or back up to E. So when if I'm gonna do that, I gotta remember to switch the power supply back and forth between pedals. Or I gotta buy another power source or make sure I got batteries in the tuner (but it eats batteries and is too hard to put new batteries in on stage cause there's a spring that could get lost). Now I understand the benefit of a nice pedal board case with an integral power supply...expensive as they are. I also understand why buying cheap pedals that eat batteries is bad. And I get why guitarists always have to have a "sixer" power strip available (you might have a lot of power supplies to plug in if you don't have everything integrated into one power supply. Six pedals...six the amp...yikes).

So yeah...suddenly I understand a lot more about all of that bullshit going on at a guitarist's feet. I still think plenty of it is unneccessary and I still can't tell the difference between 90% of effects out there, but I can appreciate all that's going into figuring that stuff out.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

CJ, 5/21 Inferno & 5/27 Mr. Roberts

My how I am slacking my duties of self-documentation. I completely forgot to document the last two shows.

They are probably best taken as a pair anyway...they are the tale of two was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

5/21 at the Inferno headlining with openers Knuckeldrager and Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies plus lots of naked art at an event called "Filth III". At this point there isn't really much to say that hasn't already been said too many times. The show did not run on time. We went on at 1:40am and despite being allowed to play until 2:15, had our set cut many songs short. It was kind of an unpleasant night that shook our faith in humanity. But, we got paid well. (EDIT: My amp was distorting for the show despite its new speaker...think it may just not be powerful enough for the venues we play. I had it DI'ed to audience, but on stage sound was poor. I had nothing to drink at this show.)

5/27 at Mr. Roberts opening for Dead Beat Club and Archie Powell. We went on at the right time. We played our whole set. We played "Hey" on request and pulled it off as well as we ever have. The crowd was awesome. We had a good time. Our faity in humanity was restored. But, we got pretty much stiffed on payout. (EDIT: see post about awesome Ampeg BA600 amp I borrowed for this gig. My bass sound was great on stage and I assume in audience...Mr. Roberts does not have a DI for bass or mic it was just on the power of the amp. I had, I think, one beer before and one beer during this show. I had drank earlier in the day too.)

Compare, contrast. Whadda ya gonna do...that's rock and roll in the gritty city. For my part I played pretty well at both shows...though better at Mr Roberts....based solely on the fact that I was exhausted by the time we hit the stage at Inferno and was making dumb brain mistakes.

Here's us at the Inferno playing Dead way better than I thought we did at the time. Something about waiting to play for hours and hours and staying up way too late just blows your brain up:


Filth 5/20/11 at Inferno
Broken Face
Holiday Song
Bone Machine
Break My Body
I Bleed
Is She Weird
I've Been Tired
Levitate Me
No 13 Baby
La La Love You
(we were cut off after La La Love You...but rest of planned set as follows)
Nimrod's Son
Gouge Away

Mr Roberts 5/27/2011
Wave of Mutilation
Mr. Grieves
Isla de Encanta
Bone Machine
Trompe Le Monde
Is She Weird
Ed is Dead
Here Comes Your Man
River Euphrates
Monkey Gone to Heaven
Manta Ray
Head On
Gouge Away
Nimrod's Son
Where Is My Mind
(planned encore was Vamos, but Hey was requested so we played Hey instead)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June 2011 Drum

The June 2011 issue of Drum! magazine was really outstanding. Mainly I liked the Career Guide.

Some thoughts/things to follow up on...

Derek Roddy's website

David Jarnstrom

Cobus Potgieter
This guy records drum stuff for youtube

Danny Gottlieb: Student of Joe Morello

Mark Schulman: Metal guy with light touch

Blondie Detroit 442

This will be fast and hard

General Status

So a couple of things have happened recently of note.

1. I kind of had a breakdown
I've been feeling really overwhelmed lately, and in particular feeling like my drum skills are on a slippery slope downward. I find it hard to force myself to practice tunes for the three groups that I drum for...and the more I avoid doing that the worse my skills get. My general skill and endurance has really been on the decline. And stuff that I used to be able to play with no problem is now really tough. Motivation is hard...but I really want to push through to getting in more alone practice time...both of the songs themselves and of basic skills.

2. I bought a practice kit
I've been thinking about doing this for a long time but it never seemed worth the expense. But in part because of #1 above, I was feeling like the time that I spend away from the kit is far too much. So I decided I needed a kit that could pretty much go with me everywhere. And that "everywhere" is pretty much to my girlfriend's basement and to my couch in front of the tv. I thought at first that I'd leave it in the girlfriend's basement...but as soon as I got it and set it up while watching tv at my house I could see where it's main home will front of the tv. Not only is it super easy to go through instructional dvds like makes it easier to just do exercises while "resting".

3. I wrote out a practice regime
For in front of the tv. I made up an exercise sheet that is essentially the same pattern of opening hi hats (on 1...repeat measure 4 times...then next measure on + of 1...on through all the possible combinations) with 2/4 snare and 4 on floor bass ...then with 1/3 bass...then with 1+/3+ bass...then with +1/+3 bass. The purpose of this is to 1) improve strength of my left foot 2) improve independence and 3) get to a place where I can play all those Clem Burke disco patterns. And then running single stroke rolls with right and left lead...and double stroke rolls with right and left lead...from 80 bpm to failure...on snare. Hopefully once I build those skills I can start running the singles and doubles around the kit. My ability to do rolls around the kit has always sucked and my left hand is really weak...I'm hoping this will improve all that. I haven't timed it yet, but my intention is for this to be a 10-15 minute exercise for all of it. We'll see.