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Bob Quinn, Songmaker / Blog

3.5_Where's That Darn Song??

Hi friends, Yeah...I know, where's that darn song??? I'm about 14 hours into screwing around with the lap steel guitar now. You see the problem is that I'm trying to get Pedal Steel sounds out of a simple little lap steel guitar. "Walking Down That Road (Together)" is made for it..you know that moment when a reverb drenched Pedal Steel comes into the mix, and the hardest meanest grown men... and women, reach for the tissue box. This song has that "moment" and all I've got is this lousy little lap steel guitar...undaunted, I've been exploring with it looking for a facsimile "moment" feeling...it's there now actually, and the song is 99 percent arrived...just one more spot where there are 2 guitar parts vying for the same space in the mix to clean up. That crunchy electric guitar bit that I didn't like last week, now is working with the addition of the steel part..just needs a little cleanup. Also, I added a tender harmonica part in the soft center of the song. So now we've got a clear beginning, middle, and a rousing conclusion. This thing is sounding wonderful. I had about 5 hours time on Saturday evening with the song, and I didn't want to repeat the sleep deprived disaster of the week before so I left it to roll around in my head for a few more days. The whole thing should tie up nicely this weekend. It's so lovely, I don't want to screw it up rushing to get something out. So...just stop fidgeting out there! It's coming! likely next week. Thanks again following along!

3.4 _Hell to Pay

I stayed up way too late on Saturday night. Lemming that I am, I was compelled by unseen forces to venture out to my studio space at 5pm and listened carefully to the prior weeks take of "Walking Down That Road" (Together), and decided it was just fine. So out with my trusty, but seldom seen bass guitar, and three hours later...a bass part voila! Yeah...it took a while. Bass playing is a whole different animal than playing guitar..It takes my brain a little time to adjust...yeah I know, it's just the last 4 strings of the guitar...yes Grasshopper, but it's whole different spiritual space to occupy in the song...in this instance, I learned, it's to be felt more than heard. Bass playing is wonderful, and difficult, and making the adjustment makes the traveler all the wiser to the mysteries of the song within. Ok...the bass part is done then LOL! In the 2nd half of the song, there is a crescendo that I thought might be a great place for some crunchy electric guitar chordal embellishments...well 2 hours later, at or just beyond midnight, I was shown otherwise. NO....the song utterly rejected my dream of crunchy electric guitar bits...oh well. Next weekend, we'll break out the Lap Steel, and see if the song wants it or not, and if so, then whatever pathways are opened for exploration. A big lesson...I don't do so well with late nights any longer...here Tuesday morning, I finally feel half human once again, there was hell to pay...I hope it's all worth it. The song is very strong now even with just guitar, vocal, and a bass part...it could stand on it's own, and may well...but I'm curious to see...and, if I find additional useful spices...we'll go there. If not I'll scoot her out the door to your ears, one way or the other...it's very close. Otherwise, I spent a bit of time last week working on another of my crooner type songs...that I may record after this..that's another series to come. And my left arm flared up a bit for a few days, so I've laid off the guitar for near 5 days now. Had to do my friggin' taxes anyhow. OK thanks for following along...more to come!

ON KEY?

This week's lessons... if you don't use your voice, you can't sing on key. Since getting back to working in front of the condenser mic it's been interesting to feel the changes in my vocals. "Walking Down That Road (Together) is a song with very upfront vocals, it's a very intimate song with the guitar pushed back into the background a bit. So every nuance in the vocal is right out front. Last weekend, I learned that if I want to sing on key, I've got to breath, open my mouth and push into some of the phrases. Without that push I go flat or sharp. This weekend I was much improved, and thankfully Sunday morning there were no metal heads around to mess up my session. Man..so close, I'm able now to get through the song with few problems, it's just that every new level I reach reveals another area that needs work. I had one take that was perfect..but I went just a few degrees flat on the last line. I left it Sunday afternoon with a take that is very good, and the few spots that were off key seemed to work with the flow of the thing, so it might be ok. Next weekend, I'll listen with fresh ears and see if I still like it. I can however now begin to sculpt the song with some additional instruments and delve deeper into arranging. If I leave a track open going forward, I can re-record the vocal take without playing the guitar at the same time and work it until I'm happy . I'm having real serious thoughts about getting into the studio now, and I'm looking at Tunecore, which is a publishing service that is very reasonably priced, can get my music into lots of places...and I retain all of my rights. All I need is one broadcast ready single to get at it...maybe this is the song? As long as the chops are up, we'll see? In the meantime, it's time to get at the taxes...only a few days left! Had a great time on Friday with a few of my co-workers who are also musically inclined, we had a lunch time Hoot-an-anny, guitars and mandolins oh my! it was fun, and it was fun to play a few of my songs for them as well. Looks like it's going to be a weekly thing. The biz owner has a gittaron he'll bring in... the big bass guitar the Mariachi's play..should make for an eclectic and interesting mix. Had an answer to my ad for musician's this weekend, a bass player nearby...it's developing...well maybe. More on that later. Thanks for following along...it feels a bit like things are turning.

3.2_Moving Blankets_2

Hello friends. It's turning to spring here in Seattle. The evergreens are just that, but between them and possibly in greater number, the deciduous trees are bursting forth in a show of neon green. Everywhere you look, the gray skeletons of bare trees are coming to life again. So we turn to longer days, and warmth...between us all, I always hope. I did a bunch of digging around on the interwebs..searching for a low cost solution for the slap-back echo problem in my work room. I finally chanced upon a site where a woman had used a few rolling clothing racks to hang moving blankets from with which she surrounded her microphone. Hmmmm...well we had 3 or four clothing racks in storage, so we got those out...went over to Harbor Freight and bought 4 moving blankets...built a rolling triangle around my mic stand...the mic at the point of the triangle using 2 of the racks, and the third as a wall behind the mic and my little table with my 8 track etc. I wasn't expecting much...but I'll be damned if it didn't take out enough of the echo to get a reasonably dry track...Gobsmacked!! I spent another 3 hours on Saturday evening working on "Walking Down That Road (Together)". I've got railroad tracks..real busy, to the East and West, a private airport, diesel trucks idling for long periods of time, and a metal band or 2 in the same complex. I have to keep my ears open and wedge my takes between this stuff...the metal guys are the toughest part...they do go on...all dark, weird, and distorted. I've got florescent tube lighting in the room, and you can hear the buzz and hum from the ballasts in the headphones...so there's the next challenge. Happily these problems are finding resolution without too much cost. I'll take a few incandescent lamps over next weekend. This song is so close now. I'm getting some good takes, but I'm still having some issue staying on key, especially at the beginning. I'm pretty sure it will come next weekend. As long as the metal heads give me a bit of room to work! I'm a happy camper now compared to a few months ago...it's so good to have a place to work in...there are 2 more songs coming behind this one as well. cleaned the little bathroom in there too...it's all looking good! Thanks for following along, more to come!

Ivan Camilli
Ivan Camilli  (22 days ago)

Cool! It's amazing how sometimes we can solve problems in the least expected ways! Godspeed Bob!!!

3.1_A Box and Moving Blankets

Hi Friends...It's another week. 3 hours at the mic working on "Walking Down That Road (Together)" and didn't hit a "take". I got real close to it about 4 times, so it's not quite there...I think next weekend we'll arrive on a decent take. I'm working on the performance, phrasing, and volumes now. I'm concerned about the sound in my room..I know that these things are just demos, but I want them to sound half decent if possible. Even though I'm using a small gobo device around my microphone and sending my guitar straight into the box...there's still a lot of slap back echo in my darn room. Thinking about a refrigerator sized cardboard box with a bunch of moving blankets or something...this is such a nice song, I hate to send it out into the world sounding like my untreated room..but I'll do it...I need to put something out there...we'll see what I can come up with next weekend. I've become an avid reader over the last year or so..I've been consuming books about musicians and the music biz at large...just to see what I can learn, and catch up on the stuff that was going on all around me in the 60's. I was dimly aware, and loved the music, but I was yet too young to understand the processes and goings of the musicians of my time. I'm catching up I guess. I just finished Pete Townshend's auto biography, and am now into "Three Chords and the Truth:" about the evolution of Country music in the 90's. I'm looking to understand how country music wound up in the condition that it's in today. I suppose someone's buying it, but I just can't imagine what people in Nashville are thinking about. Today's "country" stinks to high heaven...just my uninformed opinion. The movie, "The Wrecking Crew" is finally out, and we went up into the city to see it this weekend. It was great to hear all of those old songs from the 60's again. Who'd a thunk it?...every major singing group for about 10 years had a single group of session players doing their instrumental work. The Beach Boys, The Monkees, Gary Lewis and the Playboy's, Frank and Nancy Sinatra, on and on and on..they played it all. It's a fun movie if you get the chance to see it. OK then, life rolls on now...see you next week, thanks for following along!

NorthernBandit / Burt K. Arthur
NorthernBandit / Burt K. Arthur  (about 1 month ago)

Hi Bob...great to hear you are put it together...wishin you the best with your creations!

3.0 Coming Soon!

Hello everyone. It was a busy weekend, and I was working in my rehearsal/recording space last night, that's why I'm writing this evening. I hooked up the 8 track last night, and a big condenser mic, and worked on 2 songs rehearsing them to record. It always amazes me just how many levels of rehearsal there are in a song. The thing is born and played in my living room for some weeks, then maybe performed for an audience at some open mic. But, when I get those headphones on, and the red light goes on, and I'm singing into that big mic...it's a whole new layer of performance to master. You hear...everything, and it's sublime. Going into "Reverb World" under the phones, that's where the polish goes on. All the nuances of the performance can be worked out, and it's much easier to hear where the thing is weak or strong. There are a few songs posted here...but there are many, many more, most of which haven't been heard by but a few people. I'm preparing "Walking Down That Road (Together)" it's a fine love song that I wrote a few years back, and the newest one "Just Call Me Moon" is developing really well. I'll be posting a new song in a few weeks I think..the machinery is getting back into position now that I have this wonderful work space, and there is a lot of material I need to record. So stay tuned, there's a lot of new work coming soon. Thanks for following and being there while I've been working through this transition. See you next week!

Ivan Camilli
Ivan Camilli  (about 1 month ago)

Can't wait the new songs Bob!
Keep us on the loop!
Take care hermano!

2.9_I Try to Understand

An interesting week...the new job is going fine so far. Monday morning on the way in, I was rear ended so I was a bit late. My car had no visible damage, nor did the other fellows. just a bump, but an inconvenience..I've had a stiff neck for a few days now, but nothing that a bit of Tylenol can't handle. I closed the insurance claim. The fellow who bumped me was in no better shape than me, just a working guy coming off of a double shift. I found a heater for my practice space yesterday and spent 3 or 4 hours last night running through a bunch of my songs. I've got this big Fender Acoustasonic amp that I bought some years back..It's intended to work as a PA/ Guitar Amp...I hooked up a dynamic mic..the ubiquitous Shure SM58 and got busy practicing at volume. Man, what a luxury. To be able play and sing freely..it was great to practice like that. My friend Jordan will come around next weekend..he's going to try to gather some additional musicians. Pedal steel, Bass, Drums etc. What a hoot that might be...I'll let you know next week how this all works out. The new space is great but, there's a metal band across the hall. I had to turn up my volume to hear myself at one point. They turned down and so did I...my first Saturday night there, I suppose that's to be expected. Any recording I do there will be in the morning hours when metal heads are less apt to be at their craft...they're good though, real technical stuff. My eldest son is a metal player...a really strong drummer, and an amazing guitar player. I believe he'll surpass me as a guitarist before long. So, back in the saddle working again, but now have a space to practice, and create. There's too much echo in there for recording as yet. I plan to build a set of gobo's very soon...then I'll resume my recording work. I'll be making the transition from my little Tascam 8-track over to digital via the computer, I just have to buy an interface..I'm looking at the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 it has 4 mic inputs, and 4 instrument inputs. I've been frustrated that I could only use a 2 mic setup...hopefully I can expand that and keep learning about recording as I go. A final note...today is the 10 year anniversary of the passing of my younger brother by his own hand. I'll never forget the good times, and I try to understand.. Thanks for reading along, we'll see you next week.

2.8_A New Chapter Begins

Hello Everyone, A new chapter begins tomorrow. I met with a new solar energy company on Wednesday, and they came back with a job offer on Friday. So tomorrow it's back in the saddle again. Good thing for sure. I was afraid that I was going to lose my workspace and god knows what else. So here we go into a new chapter, I'll be keeping the workspace and be moving forward now. I noticed a few guitar cases around the new shop..there are some players in residence. Might work out to be a fun place! This week had me working on the the new song "Just Call Me Moon"...once they're born, they keep growing. You just have to play them over and over again, and at some point the song begins to tell you what it's about. It's mostly fingerstyle work, but it's got some strummy bits in it now as well. I changed a few lines to point it more, and it's shaping up nicely. Moved some more things into the workspace this weekend. There's no heat in the place so a new heater will have to be purchased, and from there I'll be looking into some wall treatments, and building a gobo or 2. Then I can get back to recording. I'm really looking forward to that. I'll meet with my friend Jordan again next Sunday, and we're talking about getting a few other musicians to join us. I'll let you know how that goes. I'm breathing a sigh of relief, but still concerned for my friends at the other shop. Thinking positive thoughts for you fellows! OK then, Still working on Buck Owen's biography...what a busy life he lived. I've gone back to listen again to some of his hits...amazing levels of musicianship he and all the Buckaroos. Don Rich...amazing Telecaster work..somethings to strive for. Thanks for following along and we'll See you next week.

2.7_The 3am Blues

HI Friends, Well I made it through my first week of unemployment. With it came all the usual discomforts, but also a gentle easing of the uptempo life I've been living since we arrived here last August...a welcome respite...well at least until I'm awakened by my troubled mind with the 3 am blues. Played out at an open mic in Puyallup last Tuesday night...the first time I've played out since early last summer. It was great fun, and I plan to do it again this week. I started moving stuff into my workspace this weekend, and in a few days should have everything wired up and ready to get into some recording again. You can only bang your head on the job search for so many hours a day, without going crazy. I've got a backlog of songs to record from the last few years. I wrote a new song on Saturday night..."Just Call Me Moon". The chorus has been rolling around in my head for months...when I stuck it together with a guitar lick I've been playing around with for a little while, there it was. It feels great to have created a new song again. I started reading an autobiography of Buck Owens last night "Buck Em" ...amazing parallels, he lived all around AZ, Bakersfield CA, then up to WA...Puyallup..imagine that; kinda like some car you like, and suddenly you notice them everywhere. Brought back a memory of a long time ago...I was a rocker kid then, with my Gibson guitar, who played lead a little like Frank Zappa...One night in the old neighborhood I was living in there In Phoenix, I met Marty Robbins son....we talked that hot summer night...I was so sure then that Country Music just wasn't that interesting...."I'm older than that now"...wish I could re-do that one. Keepin' on now.

2.6_The Axe Falls

Hi friends. As life is wont to do, here's yet another bend in the road. At the day job last week, "that" email made it's way round..."As you know we've been experiencing some financial difficulties"...As is customary, late Friday afternoon the axe came down and a half dozen good men were culled from the herd. I am among that number. So back to the "fools journey". I have to chuckle at life sometimes...just as some level beyond simple, "bare life" existence is achieved, fate yanks the rug out from beneath my feet. All castles are built on sand it seems. I know it rains on everyone, so off we trundle down the road to the next...whatever it will be. I managed with the help of my beautiful mother to procure a work space, and with a little luck perhaps I'll be able to hold it for a time. Anyhow, between sending out resumes, I'll be getting back to my music which has been languishing all this time. "This Dancing Dream" is the last song I wrote, and I'll get that one recorded and posted. I have a lot of songs yet unheard, and I'm hoping to get as many of them recorded as I can...So, down the road I go. See you next week.

NorthernBandit / Burt K. Arthur
NorthernBandit / Burt K. Arthur  (2 months ago)

...I know you don't need somebody elses advice.
Be cool stick to your music school. It will make for a brighter day!