Tag Archives: guitar

The Sudbury Session: Garrett Barry’s

Flutes
 
Here is a great sounding tune from Deidre on the pipe’s called Garrett Barry’s. She had some technical difficulty with the instrument about half way through and had to stop for a strain or two. It doesn’t really surprise me that someone would have technical difficulties with that instrument. The musician has to do about nine things at once and only two of them are related to pitch and tempo. Everything else has to do with harnesses, seat belts, air bags, bellows, barometric pressure, wind speed and what the current phase of the moon is. The fact that anything musical comes out of the instrument is a miracle. In my one attempt to play the beast it sounded like I was squeezing a pair of cats.

Anyhow, before I digress any further…Garret Barry’s.

p.s. I didn’t have any pictures of her playing the pipes, so I settled for this cool one of the flutes.

The Long Trip Home

The Long Trip Home   You know the old line:

Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.

Well, I’m gonna try anyhow.
 
I am supper happy to announce that my buddy Josh Dukes just released his first album. No, I’m not going to do a track by track album review, I think you should listen for yourself. But I will tell you this, the first time I listened I thought, ‘hmmm, this makes me want to get better at playing the flute…damn him.’ The second time I listened I thought, ‘well now, listen to that sweet guitar playing, why didn’t I think of that slick chord progression…ggrrrrr’. Needless to say, I was afraid to listen to it a third time…but I couldn’t resist. And I’m happy to say that Josh is the man. He, along with a host of other very talented musicians have put together an album of really tasty traditional tunes. Plus he’s got all the instruments I like on this album; his Olwell, guitar, the bunka-bunka (that’s the tenor banjo for those not in-the-know), ye ole goat skins and a variety of other cool instruments.
 
But, I’m sure that you don’t need to hear me ramble on about what a great recording this is and why you should get your own copy. So, instead, take a listen for yourself. Josh was kind enough to let me post one of his tracks here. Then, immediately following, I want you to head over to CD Baby and make one yours so that you can hear the remaining fourteen tracks. Also, if you are local or plan to be mustering in the rain at Sudbury this weekend, I have a dozen or so copies on hand for the reasonable price of $15.

I am certain you will enjoy it.

 

Growing a Tune: Josh Jazz

Guitar
 
Now things are getting interesting. First Unstachio sent along his idea for backing. Then, with Luke’s help, I recorded a completely different track. Now Josh has sent me a rough mix that is much more jazzy than the first two. All of them are great and it is really fun to see how the same melody can be interpreted in a variety of styles. The best part is that I don’t think we are done yet!

Busted!

My recording gear busted last week. Ughh!
 
busted
 
You know what that means, don’t you? It means that the only way I can post new music is by dusting off all the old crud laying around that wasn’t good enough to post the first time.

Here is a recording that I found settled in the dust. It is of an old American song called Shenandoah. I don’t even recall recording it, which can only mean that at the time I thought it stunk. Well, apparently time not only heals all wounds, if you believe that, but it also seems to wash away imperfections. That is not to imply that this recording is perfect. Far from it. But somehow I now find some redeeming qualities to it.

Having said that, I would consider this a learning track. In recording they say there are three things that make a good track; a good performance, a good arrangement and a good recording of the performance. When I listen to this track I hear a lot of “growth potential” in the vocal performance. For now I’ll refrain from any additional self deprecation on the topic of vocals except to say that listening to ones voice on tape can be about as much fun as gargling bumble bees.

I will say that I’m fond of the simple arrangement. Though, I think the melody may need something to break up the monotony, but I’m not sure what.

The actual recording was a challenge because both the vocal track and the guitar track were recorded at the same time. The downside to this approach is that I don’t have as much control over the tracks as I would like due to the guitar bleeding into the vocal track and vice versa. For example, I like to add a little delay to the vocal track. But if you listen closely to the guitar, milliseconds after a strum you can hear a ghost strum, which is the delay. So, I can’t add delay to the vocal track without adding delay to the guitar because of the bleed. Consequently, the guitar track is not as clean as it could be.

You might say to yourself, ‘why doesn’t he just record the guitar track first and overdub the vocals later’? Well that is sort of like eating one piece of bread with peanut butter on it and then following that up with another slab of bread with jelly. Even though it is all the same ingredients, it is just not as tasty as eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Anyhow, I digress…

With any luck, and some new gear, I may revisit this track again down the road. But for now, it is all I’ve got.

South Wind / Out on the Ocean

Two Old Stones
 
A few weeks back I convinced Unstachio (formerly Mustachio) to swing by and record a few tunes. We had been talking about doing just that for some time but the stars had never quite aligned. We had no real plan other than to just play through some things that we play on Tuesday evenings over at Stone’s.

We did all our recording together, he on bouzouki and myself on guitar. The next day, as I began to play with the tracks, I found that they were super-easy to overdub. It is amazing how playing music with someone else results in a track that is much more musical than anything you can do alone. It is that relationship between musicians that is the real magic dust and it is what transforms notes to music. I feel like we captured some of that here and, at the very least, it was a whole lot of fun.

This track is a combination of two traditional tunes. The first tune is called South Wind and is one we just started playing. The second is a popular jig called Out on the Ocean. I love how the bouzouki (left speaker) just seems to lick around the guitar melody (right speaker). Incidentally, I’ve added this track to the working album title called Two Old Stones (George, did I tell you we’re making an album?)
South Wind Out OnThe Ocean by baconworks

The Home Ruler

Bodhran
 
My long time cohort Roger Hunnewell, A.K.A the Beave, was visiting this weekend. Roger and I started the band that we eventually would call Amadán, many years ago. I have not had much of an opportunity to hang out with Rogi lately. Needless to say, we reminisced over a few cigars and couple of frosty brews. At about three in the morning, after being sufficiently over-served, we decided to flip on the recording equipment. After trying out a few tunes and discovering that we should have started recording long before all the ales and cigars, we opted for a tune with an easier pace.

I don’t think this recording will win any awards, but it was fun. It is a tune called The Home Ruler written by Frank McCollum from Ballycastle, county Antrim. Roger played bodhran while I played the flute. I then did a quick overdub of some guitar parts. All complete before the sun came up, well, close anyhow.

The Nobel Train

A classic corporate metaphor for teamwork is the crew team. In college I rowed in the two seat of an eight man scull and I can attest to that fact that if you are not pulling the oars in perfect unity, the boat moves like a duck.
 
teamwork
 
The visual simplicity of the crew is one reason it lends itself nicely to the teamwork metaphor. However, the stakes are low if the team fails and in the best case scenario, the winning crew goes home with a medal and a warm happy feeling. Nice, but not the most griping example of teamwork.

Recently I was reading David McCullough’s 1776 and I was reminded of an example of teamwork that I would prefer to see on those motivational posters.
 
The Nobel Train of Artillery
 

As winter approached, in 1775, George Washington and his untrained, ill equipped rabble in arms were trying to figure out how to dislodge the kings mighty army from Boston. By all accounts, including that of General Washington, the situation was untenable and the obstacles look insurmountable.

It was during this dire period, with Washington’s army perilously close to destruction and the hopes of liberty for the new Americans in jeopardy, that a young man named Henry Knox approached General Washington with a bold idea.

Henry wanted to take three hundred men and march them to upstate New York where they were to appropriate sixty tons of artillery from Fort Ticonderoga. He and his men would then drag the cannons back to Cambridge, MA during the dead of winter using wooden sleds and oxen in what Henry described as a ‘noble train of artillery’.

Henry left for Fort Ti in early December and for the next two months lugged artillery over Lake Champlain, through mud and snow and ultimately arrived in Cambridge on January 24th, 1776. Washington then set all fifty-nine of Knox’s cannons on Dorchester Heights during the course of one night and pointed them down upon the British army. When the British awoke to see the deadly line of artillery pointing at them they thought better of retaliating and within a few days were boarding their ships in Boston harbor and preparing to evacuate. A major victory for the American’s and not a shot had been fired.

History is a great place, of course, to find good tune titles. This tune’s title is a nod to the teamwork and perseverance of Knox and his men during the most trying of times. I was really intending on recording a quick demo of the newly written tune…and then I got carried away with the instrumentation. It was one of those rare evenings where the recording session went smoothly (i.e. my furnace didn’t click on during the perfect takes!). As a demo, unfortunately, the recording is rather short. Consequently, I expect to rework it into a longer set at some point.

 
The Nobel Train / Franklin’s Harem by baconworks

Planxty Grace Davis

Here is another track that I recorded a bunch of years back at Melville Park Studio. The tune is in honor of Grace Davis who was the wife of my great Uncle Stinson Davis, the schooner ship captain. You can find the music notation here. Also, I’ve added the tune to the virtual album Castaway.
 
Grace Davis
 
I always loved this picture. It makes me wonder how many evenings she waited on the shore for her husband to return…or would he ever? It is hard to imagine the complete lack of communication that often accompanied life during the age of sail.

flickr it to your blog

pluc
 
So, I’m just trying out this cool service from flickr where you upload your photo’s on their site…and they automagically post it to your blog. Cool. Here is a picture of my banjo buddy Brian in the back and me on the ‘ol guitar. This photo was taken a few weeks back during our St. Pat’s gig.

More Collaborative Recording

Bouzouki
 
My buddy, and fellow Plucian, George, A.K.A Mustachio, wrote a beautiful bouzouki tune a few months back called The Christmas Wish. About a week ago Mustachio sent me an mp3 that he recorded in his home, complete with trucks passing by outside and someone cleaning dishes in the kitchen. You gotta love home recordings.

I took his demo of the tune and added a bit of guitar and tried to remove the clinking glasses. I shouldn’t rib him too much because as I was recording the guitar track my interrupting furnace kicked on during the last few notes, forcing me to overdub a couple of chords. Ironically, it only ever ignites during the takes I want to keep. GRRRrrrrr. Anyhow, Mustachio will probably have my head when he finds out I posted this rough cut here. But, in spite of the passing garbage trucks, the dinner crowd in the kitchen and my background boiler, I enjoy the recording.

Nice work Mustachio.