Redbird set free

December 3, 2009

Wow, this feels really good: Redbird is ready for release! After months of sitting on the mp3, I’m making it available here.

Except I can’t! Oh, I don’t believe this! <rant rant rant> Stupid WordPress won’t let me upload the mp3. Blast!

Okay, calming down. What I can do is make the mp3 available to anyone who asks me for it. So comment on this post or email me and I can send you the mp3 directly.

For those who haven’t read every post in this blog, Redbird is a song I wrote based on a children’s song that Lara Weaver wrote based on a snippet of a bluegrass tune she heard at some point in time. Her song is happy; my song’s about suicide. Just goes to show ya. I was fortunate enough to record the song with the amazing and astounding Kevin MacDowell. Who you can hear if you request the mp3 file. Grrrr….


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!


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! 🙂


When is it enough?

March 1, 2009

Kevin and I finally made a recording of “Redbird” (AKA “Deadbird”). Actually, we made four recordings, the third of which I immediately thought might be “it.”

He sent me a copy a week or so ago and I’ve been listening to it. This is a mistake. The more you listen, the more imperfections you hear. I’m now at the point where I’d like to record it again but it’s really up to him, since he’s managing it all as a favor to me. 

I keep remembering my recording session with Sam Lowry, where he was reluctant to re-record any of my lines. His belief was that recordings should carry a little of the imperfections of live performance. You obviously don’t want to include clinkers, but a little waver here and there adds texture and personality. Otherwise you run the risk of sounding like the Robert Shaw Chorale.

I get that on an intellectual level, but what happens if (gasp) people think I can’t do any better than what’s on the recording? What if they think that I can’t hear what’s not perfect? When is enough enough?

I have no answers. Just a song that I love and that I want to share with people who might actually care.


Roots & Sass (limited edition)

November 23, 2008

2007. A collection of pieces from Kaia’s spring ’07 show, Roots & Sass. The recording quality is not as good as we or the sound engineers would like, so we made this a limited edition and sell it in person only. We’ll be including some of the tracks from this on our next CD, Get Down, Rise Up!


Kaia Live! Spring 2006

November 23, 2008

2006. A live recording of Kaia’s spring show. It’s amazing how much our sound has changed. This is a great snapshot of the time. A good collection of lighter and less intense pieces than we do now. Available for sale at the Kaia website! 🙂


Sam Lowry recordings

November 23, 2008

2003. I wrote and performed the backing vocals on Sam Lowry‘s “Sometimes” off the album The September Letters

“Sam” said he wanted to lay down a gospel choir sound at the end of the piece and have me wail like Mahalia Jackson on top of it. My carefully constructed gospel texture was ultimately smothered by a wailing guitar solo instead of a wailing Mahalia-inspired me solo. I was most disappointed. At which point Sam gave me some sage if pointed advice: “Back-up singers sing back-up.”

Rather than post a postlette, I’ll just add here that in the same series of recordings we made for September Letters, Sam recorded me singing something for a Depeche Mode cover. I don’t recall the song or what I did, but I enjoyed it. How helpful.