Friday, March 30, 2012

One Way...Not Another

I was thinking today how the Pixies thing just captured my imagination so thoroughly and quickly...and I thought maybe that's just how I am with things. But I'm realizing that's really not the case. I was happy to play the Flaming Lips, but I haven't had any interest at all in listening to them or learning more of their songs now that we're done with it. Love and Rockets will be the same I can tell. And then I realized...I haven't gone looking for Frank Black tunes either. And that seems quite odd.

I find it quite sad to say that clearly a cute girl has to be involved or else I don't pay attention. Correction...a girl who's cute in a certain way. Girls who are cute in the traditional way don't interest me (I've been happy to let go of Blondie once we were done and never even formed an attachment). This makes me a terrible stereotype and everything that I hate about people who come to our shows to marvel at the "female musician". But what can I say. It's always about a girl. Always has been and I guess it always will be.

Love and Rockets

So I find myself compelled by external forces to investigate the bass stylings of David J. Why I can't say yet.

Love and Rockets is a band that I never paid much attention to. I was aware, as everyone was, of the song So Alive...and when pressed after the fact I suppose I had also heard No New Tale to Tell.

My biggest memory of Love and Rockets though is that there was the gang of half a dozen guys that I went to high school with. It was unclear if they were goths or druggies or what. But they made a big show out of being cool. One of them, who's name I forget but who always had long diagonal cut blond bangs hanging in his face, had a t-shirt that had the cover of Love and Rockets Earth Sun Moon album on it. That's how I remember him. Always.

Other than that I ignored the band. I knew that they were an off-shoot of Bauhaus...and that Peter Murphy was involved somehow. But that's it. And that's pretty much that Love and Rockets is essentially Bauhaus without Peter Murphy. And a little poppier and brighter.

A quick listen and I don't think the bass lines will trip me up...and if they do we live in an age where you can learn to play a song from a video game:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fundamentals Week 12

Cha Cha and nine stroke roll.

I've checked out. The most interesting thing about this week is that I've been playing cha cha in a TD song and didn't know it.

I turned in all the evaluations and told them I was disappointed in the course and wouldn't be taking more.

Monday, March 26, 2012

CJ, Mickey's, 3/24/2012

Got a late start setting up the new PA at Mickey's (so we had to cut our set). The Flips from Chicago opened for us. The bar cleared out towards the end of their set so we were worried...but it seemed everyone from the patio came in to listen to us, so it was full and hopping. Lots of compliments. Sold tshirts for first time (only a few). It was a good show. Got $230 ($20 of which was tips rest was cut of bar) and we gave $120 to Flips since they had driven up from Chicago (even though they played less than us). I couldn't hear my vocals well but I'm told they were fine. The new PA configuration was a little bit crowded (my mic faces speaker which is behind my feeds back and you have to scoot towards bar) and I kept stepping on my cables and tuner and such and being too close to RS. The speaker behind my head kind of blew my hearing (too loud).

Cecilia Ann
Rock Music
Bone Machine
Distance = Rxt
La La Love
I Bleed

In Heaven
Wave UK
Planet of Sound, Alec Eiffel, Is She Weird (all cut for time)
Crackity Jones
Something Against You
Blown Away
Manta Ray
Here Comes Your Man
Nimrod (cut for time)
Where is My Mind
Gouge Away

(originally planned Gouge and Tame in opposite order...but got told only one more song and let audience pick which. Then bar allowed an encore).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Tribute Bands and Legal Issues

Interesting article and another document

More on cnbc

and a website

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Two Years

I feel like I've already posted about this but I can't find it. It is possible that I posted about my trip to sxsw in my other blog and I'm confusing things.

On April 24, 2010 CJ had its first gig. If memory serves correctly, our first rehearsal together as a four piece was March 24, 2010...a Wednesday. It was the Wednesday after I returned from sxsw. I THINK that it was on 12/19/2009 that the idea was first brought up about doing the Pixies tribute thing to me. I thought it was in January, but looking at my records, I know that it was at a SSW gig at High Noon that the subject came up. I knew that the Escapists had fired their bass player, and in that way that I sometimes do things without really thinking about it...I asked RS if I could join Escapists on bass. It wasn't something I'd thought about much before that night. It was an off-handed kind of thing and I have no idea what possessed me to ask. RS said, no, no they were just going to be a three piece and that they didn't want a replacement bass player and that, anyway, they didn't really even know what they were doing or if they would continue. Except...except...well they'd tossed around the idea of playing Pixies songs, and if they did that than they would need a female bass player. I filed this information.

And I promptly went out and bought the Pixies greatest hits and started seeing if I could play and sing the songs. The first song I learned was Nimrod's Son. I listened to it on my mp3 player on the bus ride home from home...picked up the bass and played it by ear. Huh. Thought I. Maybe I can do this.

So I quietly learned to play all the songs on that cd and, every so often, would say to movement on that Pixies idea? And he'd say, no, no, we don't know what we are doing yet. And so it was when I left for sxsw.

But not long before I left, at a SSW rehearsal, RS started noodling and playing the bass line to Gigantic. And I started singing along. And what was that all about asked JG...nothing...just something we're throwing around about doing. I'm pretty sure that was my audition...though none of us knew it.

While I was gone at sxsw I got an email from RS...JG had an all covers show coming up he was booking and could we play Pixies at it. "I know it's crazy and there's probably no way we could do it" was the gist of the email. I think I replied by saying something like...well I only know 20 songs...

So I got back from sxsw like on a Monday or Tuesday...we had our first rehearsal on Wednesday...and a month later we played Surfer Rosa in total for an audience. And it went really, really well...and we were off and running.

We now know 61 Pixies songs. There are only 8 more album tracks left to learn...and only 21 more songs besides those even if you count ever cover and weird b-side.

The experience has been a revelation for me. It got me back playing the bass...which might just be where I'm meant to be in the end. Really, before Pixies, I'd never played bass. I'd played at bass. But now...sure, I'll say I'm a bass player, though a very basic kind of bass player. My vocals have really changed and improved and strengthened. I've had so much fun and it has done so much for my confidence to do something and actually be halfway good at it. I'm not used to feeling like I can do anything right. But I feel like, on balance, I get the Pixies right. I really can't even begin to say all that this band has meant to me.

I hold on to it lightly, because I know that the way to get hurt is to hold to tightly to the things that we love. I am grateful, oh so grateful. I hope for more to come...but am just glad for each additional practice and each additional gig and each additional song.

On Saturday we will perform probably about 40 or so songs on the anniversary of the first time the four of us played together. And that's pretty cool.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Madison Set

We should play this setn sometime...

01/25/92 Barrymore Theater - Madison, WI
Length = 75 Min - Complete
Quality = A- (audience analog)
Generation = ANA2 > CDR1
Setlist = Velvety Instrumental / Something Against You / Brick Is Red / Cecilia Ann / Levitate Me/Stormy Weather / Allison / Velouria / The Happening / Bird Dream Of Olypmus Mons /Planet Of Sound / Gouge Away / Dead / River Euphrates / Letter To Memphis / Palace Of The Brine / Subbacultcha / Here Comes Your Man / The Sad Punk /Motorway To Roswell / Crackity Jones / Distance Equals Rate Times Time /Trompe Le Monde / Wave Of Mutilation / Caribou / Head On / U-Mass



I was told this weekend to get a sonicbirds account. I'm not sure I'm convinced.

Fundamentals Week 11

I didn't turn in my assignment for Week 10.

This week is more jazz...swing...and para diddle-diddles. I probably won't turn in this week's lesson either though I read all the materials and watched the videos.

It isn't like me not to turn in assignments for a class...but I guess that I just feel like I'm not getting anything out of turning them in at this point except feeling bad about myself. He gave me a D on the last assignment even though I emailed him and told him how much I was struggling. I'm not taking the class for the grades are kind of demoralizing since I'm not doing well. I wish that they weren't giving grades...just a "complete/incomplete" would have been better for me. And his comments aren't helpful...amounting essentially to "you are doing it need to practice more." Duh. I know that. So turning things in have just become an exercise in stress and feeling bad about myself.

For sure this class didn't turn out the way that I thought it would. I thought I'd be so much further along at the end...but I'm really not. It reminds me of the last time I started lessons and thought I was going to advance so quickly...only to be crippled by the things I was struggling with and having to quit.

It's a strange and delicate balance between accepting where you are and feeling okay with that and working and striving to be better. It isn't lost on me that drumming is a metaphor for all the other things going on in my life right now. But I think that I'm learning that before you can really strive to be have to REALLY accept where you are at. Otherwise no amount of effort will ever feel like enough.

And so I'm giving myself a pass on this class. I'm still taking in the information, but I'm not letting it beat me up. And I'm hoping to get back to a place where drumming is fun again soon rather than having it make me feel bad about myself.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

CJ, Frequency, 3/17/2012

Mad Rollin Dolls after party with Sexy Ester. I'm getting a head start on the redux (show is tonight). This has been an odd show to set up...we were only asked a few weeks ago and the details have been very...fluid.

In a perfect world there would be contracts for shows that spell out all of the details ahead of time so that everyone is on the same page with expectations. But that never happens in the world of shitty bar gigs. And to be fair...we as a band entity have our legal heads up our asses too...because we get paid in cash usually and have no proper mechanism to accept such payment (that is to say, the band ought to have a LLC or other structure in place). Anyway...going into a show we rarely have full details. We don't REALLY know how much we'll get paid or how long we will be allowed to play or what time we go on or what time we are supposed to be there. Usually you know a couple of those things...but rarely all of them. The flip side of all of this is...I've been shocked to find out how often bands book gigs and never show up. So the venues and the promoters probably figure there's always good odds of that why bother to nail things down.

Sadly, we are responsible to a fault. And good guys finish last.

So tonight we're playing somewhere between 45 and 75 theory first...and I'll be interested to see what really ends up happening. I suspect we'll be calling some audibles with the setlist. The other band that is playing actually draws well...but wasn't featured in any of the show that draw may not happen because people may not know they are even playing. And the after party gig is also supposed to draw well...but we found out that the after party is actually at three different who knows if they'll come to ours. is St Pat's day.

Here's hoping for positive star alignment.

We played really well. The set pacing got a little weird towards the end, Tame and Gouge both had to start over because RS wasn't ready. Someone requested Into the White and we played it and that was nice. I still hate that song and how my voice sounds on the low notes...but at least I remembered the words without notes. The set did seem to run about 75 minutes and that was just fine because Sexy Ester played their 45 and we were all still out of there really early. Dustin was the sound guy so was able to tell him we were going to play long. Darwin was happy to hear SE was playing though bummed that he didn't know ahead of time to promote.

We drew people into the was empty when we started and full when we finished. But they were kind of low key...they seemed to enjoy themselves but didn't really dance and act crazy the way that the Mickey's crowd usually does. A fair number of people left after we finished playing. I had three different people tell me that we sound just like the Pixies. Gave out a good pile of stickers. SE was of course awesome. I felt a little bad that we made them go second since they had a show in LaCrosse the night before, but like I said, we all finished up early anyway.

We got $100. No alcohol for me...drank a coke with no ice and 2.5 bottles of water during the show. Cough was bad during the day but resolved by show time. Had a nap in the afternoon and ate a decent dinner though I don't remember what.

Setlist as Played:
Here Comes
Caribou (dropped on fly and played requested Into the White instead)

Friday, March 16, 2012

CJ, 2/24/2012, Mr Roberts

I totally forgot to rehash this gig.

We played two sets. I've already forgotten who opened. I was tired. We played ten new songs. The show went pretty well though EH seemed out of sorts after getting lost during Rock Music.

Set One
Cecilia Ann
Rock Music
Blown Away
I Bleed
No 13 Baby (we cut this from set for time)
Bird Dream
Distance = Rate times time
Manta Ray
Here Comes

Set Two
In Heaven
Wave UK
Is She Weird
Head On
Planet of Sound
Alec Eiffel
La La Love You
Space I Believe In
Caribou (we were gonna cut but then had a request for it)
Into the White (cut for time)
Crackity Jones
Gouge Away
Where is My Mind

TD, 3/3/2012, Reptile Palace (Oshkosh)

I totally forgot to rehash this gig.

We drove up to Oshkosh. The show wasn't promoted and had three out of town no one really came. We played last (other bands Dangerfield and Perverse Engineer). I think we were all feeling a little inadaquate...but I think we played well. Drove to Appleton and bought an acoustic bass before the gig.

Reptile Palace is a long narrow bar like hundreds of other old bars in Wisconsin. Pool table in back and skateboards on the walls. There's a back door with a small parking lot in back...and another lot down the street a bit. The stage is at the front and the bartender ran the sound. We couldn't hear the vocal monitors. Sound in the room was good. They don't book cover bands.

It snowed. I drove home after the gig and it sucked. Got home at 4:30am and felt like shit for a few days afterwards.

At the Door
Gotta Tell U
Sent It
Gun in Your Grave
Going Down the Drain
Easy Life
1 is for Man
Bodies a burnin
Better N Better
Movin On

Worth noting that in the middle of this set things get pretty intense...but it seemed to work pretty well both sonically and physically. I wasn't so sure about Easy Life into One is For Man...but I survived.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fundamentals Week Ten

Here we are at week ten...jazz. Two more weeks to go. I've barely looked at this week's assignment. I can't wait for this class to be over.

Which isn't to say that the entire experience hasn't been valueable. Certainly it has. One thing I've learned is that there is a delicate balance between challenging and demoralizing. Not challenging enough = boring and you quit. Too challenging = you feel incompetant and quit.

And this is perhaps why CJ has been such a wonderful takes some effort and there's always tweaking improvements to be made (and the potential to fall down on your face at any moment)...but it isn't TOO hard. It is possible to accomplish what you set out to do and feel like it's presentable.

Martin Atkins tweeted something or other recently about the drive that people have to be excellent musicians. Like a drummer wanting to be "as good as X." What he said essentially was...forget it. You will never be as good as X...and in the meantime life is passing you buy. Get out of fucking bed and be the best you that you already are and get something done. will be demoralized and spend your lifetime noodling in your basement never getting to where you want to be.

Certainly this doesn't mean giving up trying to get better or working your craft...but there is some degree only can work with what you have. Making significant improvement will be slow. So either give up or make what you have work. Not a bad philosophy for life in general in point of fact.

What I could give two shits about:
-latin/afrocuban music
-crazy fast double bass metal
-crazy complicated progressive music (Applicable quote from last night's rehearsal "Rush were fascists." -RS)

What I care about:
-looking like I know what I'm doing
-feeling like I know what I'm doing
-playing some good old fashioned pop, punk, rock with other humans
-pushing myself a LITTLE bit, but not so far that it really hurts physically or emotionally
-learning more songs

Near the start of playing the drums I said that my drum heros were Dave Hower, Gina Schock, and Tre Cool. I've mastered some of those beats now...and I still say that's who I like to listen to. I've learned to appreciate Bonham...but Pert, Moon, or the billion others out there I'm supposed to like. Meh.

I'm guess I'm lucky because my goals probably line up well with my abilities and potential for improvement. Maybe I'm settling. But how is it settling to like what you like and not be interested in what you aren't interested in.

So probably some time soon I should really try to stop feeling bad about not being good at things that I don't give two shits about.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Friday, March 9, 2012

More Week Nine

So I'd almost given up on week decided not to turn in anything. I sent the instructor some questions and he sent me a totally canned response that amounted to...practice more. Not helpful.

I think what I've been struggling with in large part is not having good audio examples. The lesson basically shows only a measure or a few of each part of the pattern. I'm sorry...that's just not a long enough loop. And pulling other examples from the world is hard because they invariably have all of the parts together...not in isolation.

Then I found this:

Super great stuff. Just what I needed. And he's also very reassuring about...this is going to take a while to learn.

So I wish I'd found this days ago...but at least I have it now. I think that I'm going to try to learn JUST the bell part and turn that in tonight (going out of town for the weekend). But seeing this makes me feel like it MIGHT be worth revisiting some day...whereas last night I was thinking that I would avoid anything like this forever on.

Maybe I'm just not at the right level for this class...but I don't REALLY think that's true. I think I probably am at a fine level for the class. I just don't think the care is being taken to deal with unfamiliar topics. I thought that the very first week when supposedly they were introducing reading music for the very first time and by the end of the week had us doing a super complicated piece. I already knew how to read, so that wasn't hard for me...but for someone else it would have been ridiculous. And now we're on the things that feel ridiculous to me. And there doesn't seem to be any acknoweldgement of that. To me, if you can already do this stuff...why are you even taking the class? So in that case, it ought to have more consideration of things being hard for people.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fundamentals Week 9

So the assignment this week is to make up a drum part for an Afrocuban playalong...and I've pretty much convinced myself that I can't do it because I can't get the key Afrocuban patterns, Bembe and Abakwa:

I just watched the first assignment turned in my one of my classmates. As far as I can tell...he didn't use the patterns AT ALL. He just made up another part. So I'm totally doing that. Flunk ain't for credit and this shit is making me sad. Ask a fish to climb a tree and they will feel stupid all their lives. I'm all for challenging myself...but I'm done climbing trees.

On a side note...feeling overwhelmed and stupid after trying to learn those Afrocuban patterns I sat down at the drums and played the actual music that my actual bands play. I haven't been practicing any of it for months because I've been kind of demoralized about drumming in general. I had a great practice session and nailed lots of stuff and totally felt aok. Thank god.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

More to the Pixies Than Just Bass...and What It All Means

So it was kind of only a matter of time. As we head towards the point in time when I'll have learned all the Pixies songs on the bass that there is to learn...well then there's the drums. I've goofed with the drum parts off and on since the start, but I find myself more and more curious about them. Recently I realized that the modern era videos are really good for catching David. He's sitting right behind Frank...and so you see him a bunch. And Kim tends to stand close to him when she's not singing too. I suspect that David has modified many of the drum parts for many of the songs in the modern era...tending towards easier. Part of that is him relearning them 20 years after the fact and after having not drummed much in that time...but part of it is also probably just maturity. Your goals as a drummer in a new band in your 20s are different than your goals as you approach 50. You get over proving yourself and head towards serving the songs better and just trying not to hurt yourself. It's also true that they just don't play the complicated songs as much anymore. I don't know if that's because they are harder, less popular, or just bring up too much of the negative feelings of the latter part of their career.'s interesting because when we started this project I kind of thought David's drum parts were really hard. I was glad that it hadn't been me that had been asked to play them. Now though...sure there are more complicated ones...but on the whole they are relatively basic. They are within reach with analysis and practice. And that makes me want to learn them. Now what is interesting is...I've never heard anyone say a bad thing about David's drumming. He isn't an iconic drummer the way many are...he is mostly a sideman in a band dominated by other stronger personalities. But he's no slouch either. The best compliment you can give him perhaps is that he doesn't take away from the music. He makes the right choices. And for that reason, he kind of fades into the background.

The reason I mention this is because I'm always feeling so lame about my own drum abilities...but I could do a hell of a lot worse than to get as good as a David Lovering. And in a way he's kind of a middle of the road work-a-day drummer. He's not doing anything crazy...he's just playing pop-rock music.

The same could probably be said of Kim Deal's bass parts. They aren't hard...and that's actually a good thing. They are simple in just the right way.

I was listening to this week's drum assignment on Afrocuban music. It seems totally out of reach. Maybe it is and maybe it isn't...but I was thinking that in order to get good at it (or be able to do it at all really) that I'd need to listen to the music a lot to get the feel. And I really don't want to listen to it. I never have. It doesn't interest me. It's too gives me a headache. But the Pixies I've listened to hundreds of times...more than that? Nearly every day for 2 years. And itt doesn't get old.

I feel guilty that I'm not advancing or trying harder on these tough drum things. But two years ago playing like David Lovering felt like an impossible task. Today I can see it happening. And why aren't those kinds of goals plenty to attain? I don't want to listen to Latin or Afrocuban or Jazz or Metal or Prog...I want to listen to Pixies. And other alt-pop-rock stuff. I want a 2/4 backbeat and a nice melody with just a little something quirky thrown in for good measure. If that's what I want to listen to...why would I want to play anything different...or need to try?

Full Pixies Concert from Brazil 2010

Monday, March 5, 2012

Acoustic Bass Obsession Done, Bring Me a New Obsession

Bought the Breedlove after much hand wringing. Got it for a cool $345...and went online and bought a gig bag for another $25. The action is a hair high...but it doesn't buzz and the action only causes minor hand fatigue. I played the entire Pixies Newport set on it and didn't die. The bronze strings (the guy said that makes the tone brighter/louder) were a little hard on my hands, but I didn't quite form a blister. It sounds ok...better through the amp than not...but ok either way. I really liked that there were two strap makes playing it standing up much easier (having to run the strap to the nut just didn't work well on the Dean...the strap has to be too crazy long to do that and it really creates this weird off balance thing...with two buttons you can keep the body close to your own body and it makes it feel much more like an electric). Time to keep my eye out for another long padded or neoprine bass strap in the dicount bin at some music store.

The guy had a Tacoma Thunderchief he let me play too. It had flatwound strings on it (which are more mellow) so it was hard to compare, but I swear it didn't seem any louder.

Fundamentals Week 9

This week is Afrocuban...which I suck at as much as I do Latin. I am white to the core.

This week's assignments seem pretty much impossible. I'm not kidding. It's ridiculous. Just stupid four way independence. And we aren't reading our part we've writing it. I've also got less time this week too because I'll be out of town this weekend. So I've got through Friday night to make it happen. I'm pretty sure what I turn in will be sad, sad. I'm sure the instructor thinks I'm lazy and not trying hard enough. Blargh.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Winterlong and Pixies Vocals

I worked on the vocal harmonies for Winterlong a long ass time last night. I think I've got it, but I know that the minute RS opens his mouth and I don't have Kim Deal's voice to line up to...I'm gonna be lost. It's frustrating because I am actually working quite hard on it. I think that I should make a recording of just Kim's vocal part and listen to it over and over maybe.

I think something that makes the Pixies harmonies particularly hard is Charles and Kim's ranges. As a young man, at least, Charles had kind of a high range. A sort of "my testicals haven't fallen yet" range. Conversely, Kim has a bit of a lower range for a woman. And then they do this thing where half the time she goes high and he goes low...and the other half the time they reverse it. So there's no hard and fast rule about what they are going to do. People always talk about Charles screaming violently and Kim having this sweet voice...but that's not always the case.

Take Subbacultcha for instance...she's doing this gravelly low thing. That happens on Caribou too...and on the last section of I Bleed. I Bleed is actually a really interesting study. The song starts with him singing low and calm and her singing really high and sweet in a head voice, almost falcetto. Then it shifts and she goes ultra low and he starts screaming higer.

Winterlong is pretty challenging to dissect actually...because they are both kind of in a mid-range. Neither of them is at the extremes like usual. I think that's what gives me such a hard time with Oh My Golly in the Rosa part too...they are closer together.

Last night I sat down to play some Nields tunes. I thought maybe I'd whip one out at a party in April where there's going to be an open mic. These are songs that I sang every day for years...but haven't touched much in the last couple. I was really surprised to notice that the vocals were higher than I remembered...and that the way I'd been singing them all those years was totally out my throat...with no breath support at all.

I'm not an expert on singing and breathing...but when I started singing Pixies I changed the way I sang. I tried to push air from my belly and sing more in my chest...rather than using my throat and head voice. It's weird concepts to grasp and I'm still not sure I use the terms right or do it right...but I call tell the difference. I changed with the Pixies for two to get more power and be heard (even with a mic I was having trouble competing with RS's strong vocals and the rest of the band) and the other was that Kim Deal does have this range that is lower than my natural range. So I just needed more air to push the lower notes out. I kind of knew that I did this and that I really struggled with it at the start (my throat hurt all the time those first few months and I was constantly slipping back and forth from head to chest voice...Monkey Gone to Heaven being a great example of a song that can be done either way and it took me a long time to figure out which way to go...I still struggle with that song a little bit even today) but I had kind of forgotten about all that...or maybe thought I hadn't done as much of that as I thought.

But trying to sing the Nields last night was a real eye opener. It THRASHED my throat. It just felt WRONG. Even when I sing in my head voice with Pixies still feels supported. It doesn't feel like a strain. But the Nields were almost impossible to sing.

So I guess I'm making progress even though it feels slow. Progress towards being able to sing like Kim Deal anyway...and maybe away from being able to sing like the Nields. It makes me wonder if the Nields just have higher ranges, but do all the breath support stuff...or if they just don't use chest voice at all.

Observations About Drum Skills

The entire Berklee experience has been a bit demoralizing. As low as my confidence in my drumming was before...I realize now that I'm not even as good as I thought. One thing in particular that has come to my attention is that I have a horrible internal sense of time. I used to think I was pretty good at this...but no.

CJ recently started playing "Blown Away" and there's this part where in the middle of the song the bass line hangs its ass out with nothing but the vocal and I've been painfully aware that I really don't know if I'm slowing down or speeding up or holding steady. I just pray for the drums to come back in two measures later. And that's what I've noticed with the Berklee lessons too. For instance, this week the assignment is a pretty easy 12/8 tune. But there is a 3 beat (well, 9 beat I suppose) cymbal wash and then a "10,11,12" fill into the song. I totally lose my place during the cymbal that when the rest of the instruments come in on the next downbeat I really have no idea what the tempo is anymore. I have to make micro-adjustments to get with the recording. By the end of the first full measure I'm with the recording and can keep with it pretty well.

I'm used to either playing with a live band (who will adjust to my changes in tempo) or with a recording that has the drums on it (so that I can stay with the drummer the whole time). But if you remove the element of someone else playing...I get lost. I don't have an internal "pulse".

This is a really bizarre thing to realize after having played for 6 years. The solution is to play with a click more often and work with turning it on and off and see if I stay with the imaginary clicks. This is hard, of course, because that means not playing along to recordings...which is kind of boring. Short of just doing exercises...I suppose I could play the drum charts for songs from my books along to a click but without the backing tracks.