Garage Band 001

June 20, 2009

Yesterday I began learning the most basic Garage Band features with Kevin, mighty Teacher of All. We worked on Redbird and I learned how to chop off unwanted parts of each track and how to do fade-ins and fade-outs.

Garage Band has all the ease of use that Apple is famed for. Especially once you get into any Mac program, you begin to pick up the inner logic, and one task follows sensibly to the next.

Kevin has mentioned previously that, at a conference he attended, an Industry Bigwig noted that most of the music we hear today as incidental music in commercials and such is made in personal recording studios and mixed in programs like Garage Band. Like Photoshop and Dreamweaver, Garage Band democratizes the creative process. It still doesn’t mean you’ll create great music; it just means your great music is easier to create on a low budget!

Our next challenge will be adding reverb to a bleed-through track. I was right on top of the Zoom H2 and Kevin was standing back a bit when we recorded, so my vocals are on both the “vocals” and “instrumental” tracks. We wanted to add reverb just to the instrumental but the bleed-through makes it impossible. We’ll find a happy medium. Kevin’s also going to teach me how to record directly into Garage Band.

I’m really looking forward to learning more about the tools of the craft—now if only I were writing songs to record!


Redbird flies!

June 13, 2009

Thursday night Kevin and I debuted Redbird on Carolyn VandeWiele’s Womenspace show on WFHB. It was a fantastic experience.

Due to other commitments, I arrived after the show had begun, but in time to hear Curtis Cantwell Jackson backed by Janiece Jaffe and possibly Bobbie Lancaster. Curtis is tremendously talented and has a great voice.

Kevin arrived with his hollow-body electric guitar and we nipped into a back room to run the piece and get used to the different sound. We then went into the studio to set up while Arbutus Cunningham had everyone in stitches. Krista Detor was in before us, prepping to play, so she was the only one with headphones. We couldn’t hear Arbutus but heard everyone in the sound booth and Krista bursting out laughing.

Krista dedicated her delightful Teeter-Totter on a Star to Arbutus. I could only listen with half an ear because I was keeping my nerves under control and staying “in character” for Redbird. In the midst of my stage fright, I suddenly got clear. I looked around the room and realized this was part of my dream come true—to be in the midst of truly talented musicians, performing music I’ve written the way I want to sing it, rising up in the hopes I could be anywhere near as good as they were, and having the scary-yet-exhilarating thrill of singing live. This is what I want to be doing with my life. It was a wonderful realization.

We had no time to run the piece, so I could only hear the mix on the fly. And I couldn’t hear much at that! I pulled one headphone off an ear so I could hear myself and kept the other in place to get a sense of the mix. Kevin played beautifully and I—well, I tried my best! 🙂

Everyone was very gracious afterwards, complimenting the piece and our performance of it. It’s been terrific to get the feedback and support of the family and friends who listened to it. I loved having my friend Bry in the lobby—it was wonderful to know I had a groupie no matter what I did! 😉

Since I couldn’t hear very well, I don’t know how well the piece worked, but Kevin thought it was our best effort yet, which is pretty damn good. And lots of people seemed to like it. I am very satisfied at having more of my creative path affirmed! It was a great night.


WFHB update

June 10, 2009

Kevin MacDowell and I will be debuting my original song Redbird on WFHB on Thursday night (11 June) between 9:30 & 10pm.

The show is Womenspace and it runs from 9 – 11. The show will feature live, in-studio performances from:

Krista Detor
Bobbie Lancaster
Curtis Cantwell Jackson
Jaime Sweaney
…and more 

You can tune in at 91.3 or 98.1 FM or listen online through the magic of the Internet. You’ll definitely want to stick around and hear the other talent!

Way excited!! Thank you, Carolyn VandeWiele for the promo! The show is to help promote the upcoming Rock the Shops event on 26 June at Wandering Turtle Art Gallery. Sponsored in part by the City of Bloomington, Rock the Shops encourages residents to shop downtown and support local business. Kaia will be performing at Wandering Turtle along with a boatload of others to help support the cause!

Please have a listen tomorrow night and then come out on the 26th! (For more info on the gig on the 26th, see Kaia’s site.)


Deadbird debuts!

June 7, 2009

Hey, Kevin and I will be debuting Deadbird this Thursday (11 June) on WFHB’s Womenspace. We’ll be joining a bunch of other artists in the studio, including Krista Detor and others you’ve heard of but I have no confirmed list yet.

The show starts at 9. We’ll be on sometime between 9:30 and 10 and just do the one tune. You can tune in at 91.3 or 98.1 FM or listen online through the magic of the Internet. You’ll definitely want to stick around and hear the other talent!

Way excited!! Thank you, Carolyn VandeWiele for the promo!


Kaia at Farmers’ Market

April 5, 2009

Kaia got to kick off this season’s Farmers’ Market yesterday with an hour-long set. It’s the longest we’ve sung so far with this group (no break) and I think we did pretty well. 

Parks & Rec must have gotten new equipment or else they configured it really well. It was the best sound we’ve had so far (usually we can’t hear ourselves in the open air). Of course, we still over-sang! My lower register was just about gone by the time we finished.

We did a pretty good job, especially since we could hear the cloggers just down the way and we had the usual distractions of lots to look at and conversations to overhear.

The crowd response to “Death Came a-Knockin‘” and “Not One More Day” was terrific — the biggest got during the show. “The Farmer” was also a favorite, as usual. Also as usual, the slow songs lost the crowd. I made the mistake of putting 3 lullabies together, which dissipated the crowd almost entirely.

Probably my favorite part of the show was seeing 5-year-old Goddessdaughter #1 singing and clapping along with “Maquerúle,” which is no mean feat, considering the rhythmic complexities!

We’re building up our stamina in hopes of being asked to do Lotus, at which we’d do a 75-minute set — yikes! Big yikes, considering most of our songs are about 2 minutes long. It’s a big repertoire and each piece needs to be finessed mucho. I’m hoping to find out in a week or so about Lotus. Cross your fingers.

We sold a number of CDs and brought in over $100 in sales and donations! I love Bloomington. People can be so generous. It was a beautiful day, the kettle corn was right behind us, we remembered most of the words, and we had a great time. Who could ask for more?


All Around The Kitchen

April 5, 2009

On Friday I had another recording session with Kevin and Lara, this time to focus on “All Around The Kitchen,” an old Woody Guthrie tune. As usual, Lara’s funked it up with a jaunty beat and Kevin’s rockin’ acoustic guitar accompaniment. 

My part is to sing a counterpoint harmony and remember the bloody words! It’s one of those “put your hands on your head, put your hands on your shoulders” kind of tunes and I keep forgetting that hips exist. 

We had about 40 minutes to throw it together and it’s possible that the last cut was a keeper. We’re using the Zoom H2 (enthuse, enthuse) and it really picks out Every Single Thing you sing. I finally cupped my ear to make sure I could hear myself and hit my notes more squarely.

We end with this funky “all around all around all around” bit that I came up with and then Lara smacks the drum. Am hoping we nailed it to her satisfaction. I love these stolen Friday lunch sessions. We’ve got about 10 more songs to go and so little time to do them in!

Kevin’s tidbit for the day was that he knows a woman whose sense of pitch is so keen that, even if his guitar is not perfectly in tune, if it’s tune to 439 instead of 440, she’s in agony. I also have a dog’s sense of hearing, but this level of tuning is a curse rather than a blessing! 🙂


Kaia’s CD Release Party

March 8, 2009

It seems several years ago, but it was only a week ago that Kaia held our CD Release/Rent Party for Get Down, Rise Up!. We were at the Waldron Auditorium, one of our favorite spaces.

We’d decided, after the grueling and (literally) almost killing pace of last year’s show, that this year we’d do something different. And so we did!

To start with, it was an acoustic show, so there was no big hairy deal, messing with mics and monitors. The flipside is that we had a tendency to over-sing a bit and to push tempo.

We sang two short sets  of music, liberally sprinkled the show with small ensembles and audience sing-alongs, and spent the rest of the time talking and having fun.

The best part for everyone was probably the community art project we did with Joe LaMantia. Everyone had 5′-long ribbons to write a message of hope on. We then tied the ribbons to strings hanging down from a structure suspended over the stage. It was heartwarming to see everyone take it so seriously, and the finished piece was practically glowing with magical energy. The process truly helped bring us all together.

The audience was smaller than I wanted, but as usual I set the seating to make it look as much as possible like a full house. We had about 80 people. It didn’t help that it was ArtsWeek and there were five million other things going on, or that we didn’t have the benefit of BAAC promotions this year, or that everyone in town seemed to be ill!

But for all that, people had a great time. The goodwill was overflowing and the smiles were glowing. It was similar to the effect we achieved with the céilidhs, but not to their degree. It was deeply satisfying to create an event that people enjoyed so deeply and felt so moved by. Plus we raised nearly $500 for Rhino’s, our landlords!