As promised/threatened several weeks ago, this site has moved. Please point your browser at I have moved all posts from here over to the new site, and I will slowly be adding other content along with the usual posting. While using Blogger is convenient and fairly easy, it's difficult to extend the site past just being a collection of posts. I also wanted to move the site to a different host, which after this month will not be possible with Blogger. I am also using this as an opportunity to learn how to build a site with Drupal.

Tuesday night I spent some time arranging the scratch tracks I put down on Monday. I cut and pasted the most accurate performances of each part, then looped them and arranged them with the click track. I cut the seven songs I had started down to six when I started recording. I worked on five of the six, as one of them needs more writing. The arrangements are all tentative. I'll keep working them out as I go.

Wednesday, I set up the drums and played through all of the five tracks and worked out drum parts I like for most of them. There are two that still need work. One more than the other. As I expected, I noticed some issues with some of my arrangements when I was working through the drum parts. I haven't decided what I'm working on the Thursday night. It may be re-working the arrangements, or I might go buy drum heads and change them and work on the arrangements Friday before I start recording the drums.

Friday I will change the drum heads if I haven't yet, mic everything up and then start laying down drums on the tracks I have ready. I will also work on arrangements and maybe some new songs in between drum takes.

Saturday will likely be more of the same.

I finally got back to work today. The parts for my guitar showed up in the mail today, so I started off with some bass tracks. I played around and found some tempos, then put the bass parts I have for two songs down with a click. I didn't do the third because I decided I don't like it.

Then I grabbed my guitar, and pulled the bridge out and tore it apart and cleaned it up some while watching the third period of the Sharks-Leafs game. I installed the new string hooks, springs and screws then put it back together. I put the strings back on, tuned it up, adjusted the tension, tuned it again and it's playing better than ever. The springs have been worn for a while. Several years ago I cranked the tension all the way up to compensate, but it would lose pitch if I bent a string. Also, I've known those string hooks were wearing and I think I was having some trouble keeping in tune because they were shifting. No more.

After fixing the guitar, I went back and put down the guitar parts I have for four songs. One of them definitely needs something else, but I have a start.

Tomorrow night I'll start arranging them via some cut and paste. I'll look to add parts to a couple of them and maybe come up with some more new stuff. If not and I lose inspiration early, I'll finish rewiring the recording setup. I found the rest of the cables and such that were missing. I was planning on doing drum tracks all week, but it looks like Wednesday I'll set the drums up and play for a bit. I probably will put some tracks down on Friday.

Thursday night I went back over all the stuff I had done the previous two nights and came up with one more thing. The parts for my guitar shipped so I should have that up and running again soon.

Today I had originally planned to get some demos started. I had a bunch of other stuff to do as well and it all took longer than expected. I did get the computer moved and the mixer wired up and I fetched the mic stands from storage. Tomorrow I have two morning errands to run, a small amount of kitchen cleaning and a Super Bowl party. Around that will be solid work on demos.

Tonight was the Panthers' Season Ticket Holder team signing, so I went to that right after work, followed up by dinner at Stevie B's in Weston. After we got home, I unpacked my new, dirt cheap SX bass, which arrived this afternoon. I sat down with it in the living room and checked it out. It plays reasonably well. There's some buzz, but some of it is probably easily fixable. It's a "vintage" jazz bass, with the old neck style that's really narrow at the nut. It's a little weird as I'm more used to playing metal basses or 90s Jazz basses, but I think it will do the trick. I came up with the basis of three songs, so even though it was only an hour's work tonight, I think it was a good hour. I'm too tired for much else this evening, so it's off to bed to read for a while. Tomorrow I'll work on a couple more new things and maybe revisit the first couple nights worth of stuff. Then Friday's a night off for the Calgary game. On Saturday I'll start getting some rough tracks down.

This year I have entered the RPM Challenge. I have entered under the name "The Irony Set," which Liz doesn't like. No matter. I will make my ambient dub metal album nonetheless. At least that's what I'm anticipating now. No telling how these things turn out, especially if they aren't well-planned, which this one is certainly not.

I missed the first day owing to the very dull Panthers-Ducks game last night. I might as well have stayed home, but I wasn't feeling great and wouldn't have gotten much done anyway.

I started work this evening after dinner. I was thinking I would start to put together some guitar riffs, record them and arrange rough demos on the computer. I realized fairly quickly that I had a couple of problems there. One being that I'm missing a fairly important cable for my recording rig, the one that hooks the tape recorders to the sound card. The other cables for the sound card are too short to reach from the mixer to the computer. I was planning to buy longer cables in August when I was setting up this room, but never made it. So, I need to find the missing cable and I also need to move the computer closer to the mixer. I also left all my microphone stands in storage, so I will have to go fetch those later this week.

I gave up on recording for the evening and instead picked my guitar back up and kept working. I put together pieces for two songs and notated them in my usual shorthand so I won't forget them (in theory). I tried dropping to D for a third song but quickly found I didn't much like it, so I started tuning the string back to E. I heard a popping noise and looked down to see the hook that holds the string in place on the bridge had broken. My guitar is a heavily modified Japanese Telecaster. I replaced the original bridge with a Kahler 2230 back in 1995 because the original System I bridge had worn out. This bridge was given to me by Marty, our lead guitarist and was about 7 years old at the time. I think mine is the second or third guitar to have this bridge mounted on it. I'm fairly lucky it happened now and not several years ago, as Kahler is making them again and repair parts are readily available.

I grabbed my backup guitar (the less said about this one the better) and went back to work. After a quick tune-up, I played around some more and worked up the beginnings of a third song. I had to leave to check the chile verde again, and that ended up being the end of my work.

I hopped on the internet and $61 later, I have a whole new set of string hooks (might as well fix them all), a pair of springs and set screws for the saddles. If I'm ordering, I thought I may as well fix some other parts that are showing their age.

Tomorrow, I will have to work in some cleanup and studio setup into the evening. That is provided the Panthers Season Ticket Holder autograph thing doesn't take forever. I have that right after work, then we'll head home and eat the chile verde. And then it's back to work.

I'm hoping to have rough arrangements of seven or eight songs by the weekend. If I can do two to three per night, I should be in good shape. I want to have rough demos recorded by the end of the weekend. Then I'll spend the week (Monday to Sunday) laying down drum and bass. Then the plan, such as it is, calls for guitar overdubs, then I'll work on lyrics, record vocals and then add whatever else seems necessary. Since I'm working on a DAW, I will be working up mixes as I record, meaning that I can hopefully mix very quickly at the end. I'll nail the plan down a little better as I go along. For now, I have three songs started and hope to get two or three more tomorrow.

Phish 2009-12-30 20.50.57
Set 1: Soul Shakedown Party, Runaway Jim, Jesus Just Left Chicago, Dixie Cannonball, Stealing Time From the Faulty Plan, Corrina, What's the Use?, Tela, Gone, Rocky Top, Chalk Dust Torture, David Bowie

Set 2: Sand, The Curtain With > Lifeboy, Back on the Train > Wading in the Velvet Sea, Hold Your Head Up > Love You > Hold Your Head Up, Free, Boogie On Reggae Woman > Run Like an Antelope

Encore: Frankenstein

After a sleepless night following discovery of the robbery while we were at the second show of the run, we tried to pick up the pieces a bit. I spent most of the day trying unsuccessfully to fix the broken window. I got it mostly working, but the control arms were too bent for the bottom pane to close properly. Liz dealt with the police report and finding the serial numbers and getting better descriptions for stuff. Neither of us ate all day. We finally took off for the show around 6:30, arriving well after door time.

We went up to the 400 level to check out our behind-stage seats. They told us that we could trade our 400 level tickets in for 100 level seats, also behind the stage. I didn't want to trade my mail-order tickets in, so we went to check out the assigned seats. They were up pretty high, but offered an interesting view of the stage and the rest of the arena. Plus the section was empty. Before the show, groups of people would come in, look at the seats and, more often than not, leave. But a few other groups remained by the start of the show. The arena staff seemed pretty put out that they couldn't close the section on account of about 20 people who wouldn't leave. But too bad for them. After a really rough day, we were happy to sit way up in a sparsely populated section.

We went back down to 300 to pick up some food. I got a sandwich and some fries. It was passable arena food, better than what the BankAtlantic Center is serving, for the most part. It felt good to finally eat.

But what does this have to do with the music? Not much, except to explain my mood at the show. The band opened with some reggae, namely the first Soul Shakedown Party since the fateful 2004 Vegas run that led to Phish's breakup. But tonight it got the party started. Most of our section were up and dancing. They kept it uptempo with a nice Runaway Jim with, again, a concise and tasteful jam out into Jesus Just Left Chicago, the first of the year and my first as well. This was to be the theme of the evening, as it often is for December 30 shows.

After the bluesy Jesus Just Left Chicago, they kicked the tempo back up with a quick country tune I'd never heard, which turned out to be a Hank Williams song called Dixie Cannonball. Stealing Time from the Faulty Plan and a rare Corrina, which they had played for the first time in ten years ten years to the day on December 30, 1999 at Big Cypress.

After a quick break, Trey let out some feedback and they lurched into a familiar-sounding groove. Amazingly, someone down below us was apparently hollering for What's The Use and the band obliged. I couldn't believe it. This rarely played centerpiece to The Siket Disc is one of my favorite pieces of Phish music. By the time they segued into the first Tela since 1998, I had an enormous smile on my face and my mood had lightened considerably. At the first chords of Tela, the entire audience lit up and the band responded with a gorgeous rendering of the rarely played fan-favorite.

After the Phish debut of Gone, from the Party Time CD (aka the Joy box set bonus disc), the rest of the set was high octane: Rocky Top, Chalkdust and a blistering Bowie. I was left wondering what they were going to pull out for the second set.

Phish 2009-12-30 19.42.45
The second set kicked off with only the second Sand since the last time Phish played New Year's in Miami back in 2003. That, naturally, got everyone dancing again. The Curtain With followed, in a much better performance than the last encore at Coventry. That gave way to the underrated Lifeboy. And in a continuation of the tempo shifting approach the band had been taking the entire run, they followed the mellow song with the uptempo Back on the Train and the quiet Wading in the Velvet Sea.

After wading, Page started playing the chords to Hold Your Head Up and Fishman emerged from behind the drum kit. Trey hopped up to the drums and they launched into Love You, the song that had held the last vacuum solo of the 1990s during the all-night set at Big Cypress. After the second verse, Fish stated that as they had announced his last vacuum solo of the decade two nights earlier, he couldn't play another one as "that would make us liars."

"Can anyone hear play the vacuum? It can't be just anyone, it has to be someone dressed like me, and that sir, is you." He motioned to security to let a guy from the front row up, a man dressed in a t-shirt patterned after the dress Fish wears on stage." The guy from the front row said his name was Rich and proceeded to play a fairly impressive solo. So impressive that Fish gave him the vacuum cleaner before returning to his drums.

With the audience raging, Phish finished up the set with some more high energy tunes, Free, Stevie Wonder's Boogie on Reggae Woman and Run Like an Antelope. Edgar Winter's Frankenstein (a fixture at special shows) was the encore and we were sent back off into the night. We drove home a lot happier than we arrived, and as there were no extra lights on when we got home, we relaxed a little more and actually managed to get some sleep.