Rick's Rap - November 2002
Practice 3 ...
Whole lot goin' on now ...
Eric brought over a drummer he's been working with. Nice fella called Dr. Joe. He's not familiar with the dead, so he suggested to Eric that they catch the DSO show at the State Theater. He and Eric went Thursday, and Barb and I went Friday (aside ... Damn those guys are good). When he showed up at Eric's on Sunday, we just kind of did our thing, and left him to flounder and see how it sounded.Pro's
I believe that the way we left things, was that we are each going to think about whether we feel this is a good fit, and make some kind of a consensus decision the next time we get together. My personal initial take on the situation, is that it looks promising enough to where I hope we go with it, and see if it naturally evolves into something we're all comfortable with.
Went over Johnny B. Goode, Mind Your Own Business, Not Fade Away, and You Win Again. The results were a little uneven, but at least we've now given a lick and a promise to everything on our original "to do" list. Operating on the premise that we're initially going to be playing to audiences (once we get out of the basement and actually start playing to audiences, that is) that pretty much either don't like the dead, or have never heard the dead, or both, we've decided that for now we're going to try and add tunes that are hopefully conventional enough to allow us to survive long enough to reach our target audience. With this in mind, Bob added Mama Tried to the tunes he's doing, and I've posted a couple of instrumentals (Honky Tonk, and Tribute To Elmore) that I think should pretty much not universally alienate people.
Barb added harmony vocals to Johnny B. Goode, Franklin's Tower, Candyman, and Big River. I think it was a noticeable improvement to the overall sound. Barb usually rides along with me to whatever gig I've got, and then spends most of the night just sitting around bored while I'm playing. I think having her come up on stage to add some tasteful harmony where appropriate, would be a nice touch. We'll see how it works out ...
We also took our first shot at recording, this time. Nothing has been mixed down and converted to mp3 so that it can be posted on the web site yet. However, I've had a preliminary listen to the raw tapes, and although I was pleasantly surprised, I don't know that we have anything worth posting. The impression I had while we were playing, was that the performances were pretty bad compared to what we did at the first 2 rehearsals. And while this time there were indeed some missed chords, bad notes, forgotten words, wrong tempos, screwed up arraignments, missed cues, and blatant brain farts, overall the playing was mostly competent, sometimes it was damned fine, and every now and again it was downright inspired. So there.
Unfortunately, what makes the tapes mostly unusable is the mix. Each instrument is mixed pretty well with the other instruments, and each vocal is mixed reasonably well with the other vocals, but the vocals are way below the instruments. In order to fix this, I believe we must deal with a philosophical conundrum. Right now the recorded mix is a pretty accurate reflection of the actual performance mix. Therefore, to get a useful recording, we can either fix the performance mix, or set up the recording mix to be separate from the performance mix. My first impression is that I think I'd like to take one try at fixing the performance mix as much as is reasonably practical, and then set up an independent recording mix if necessary. With a little luck, I don't think it will take more than 2 more rehearsals to get the bugs worked out, and after that we should be able to just routinely record as we go along.
Practice 3 Post Script ...
Just got an e-mail from Eric, who wants a conference call this evening, with me and Bob. I'm not positive, but I believe he may be wanting a consensus decision about some issues on which I suspect we actually have no consensus.
Ah yes, I'm beginning to remember why I've spent the last 12 years working as hired help in other peoples' bands, as opposed to taking an active role in putting together a band from scratch ...
Conference Call Post Script ...
I'm leaving out a bunch of stuff here ...
1. Dr. Joe will be the drummer for the Rock Creek Band.
2. We will initially start to perform as a 4 piece band. Eric will cover the bass lines with his keyboard(s). At some unspecified time in the future we will somehow begin looking for a bassist.
3. Eric has booked us for a total of 8 Legion gigs after New Years. We will play these jobs, and then begin looking for places where we can start to connect with the local Dead scene. Follow the links ...
4. With respect to preparing for the Legion gigs, Eric e-mailed me a list of tunes he currently sings. From this I culled a sub-list of tunes I'm reasonably familiar with. Then I added a bunch of tunes I already sing, that I feel are both suitable for this venue, and should be easy for everyone to pick up quickly. Finally I tacked on three pop and/or country tunes that the Dead have covered, in the hopes that Bob will sing them. Follow the links ...
Where ever possible I included words and/or chords and/or audio. Eric, please get me a copy of whatever words/chords/recordings you've got. At the very least let me know what key you're doing your tunes in.
We can, of course, make whatever additions, deletions, or modifications to this list that we so desire. Et. Al., get me the pertinent info as soon as you can, and I'll update appropriately as I receive it.
If we all peruse the list(s), and practice what we need to learn individually,
before we get together to rehearse, I think we can both:
a). make a decent basement tape of each of our original 15 dead tunes
b). adequately prepare an evening's worth of material suitable for the legions
by the end of this year.
5. We've got a lot of stuff on our plates right now, and I, for one, am ADAMENTLY OPPOSED to taking on any more tasks, until we have cleared away some of it.
Barb would like me to make it perfectly clear that she's only bored when the band sucks.
Practice 4 ...
Went over some Legion tunes. Check 'em out at:
Per suggestion from Doc (don't ever call me Guido) we each agreed to pick
5 tunes to go over at the next rehearsal. Everybody is going to email their
choices to me and I'll post them. What I've got so far is listed at:
Recorded pretty much everything at rehearsal. We didn't actually make an effort
to try and do a recording quality performance of anything, we just concentrated
on learning as much material as possible, as quickly as possible, and let Barb
just do the best she could to get it down on tape. The highly compressed mp3's
As far as I can tell, the only technical glitch in the recordings is some overdriven signals. I think the master tapes will have to be recorded at a somewhat lower level, to accommodate the dynamic range we seem to be comfortable with.
Practice 5 ...
Went over the tunes listed in:
Recorded most of them, no time to listen to the recordings yet. Barb found a tutorial from Tascam that may have given us a clue as to why some of the tapes from last practice were a tad overdriven in spots ...
Continuing on in our preparations to get ready for our side project as The Lounge Lizards, next time we're going to try and cover the tunes listed in:
I've reorganized the Tunes page. We're doing so many things at once, that I'm having trouble visualizing where we're at ( ... these days I just get confused so easily ... ). I started with 2 main categories, "Grateful Dead", and "Other" (o.k., so originality is not one of my long suits). I subdivided each of these into "In The Works", and "Ready To Play". From the "Ready To Play" lists, I culled individual song lists for The Rock Creek Band, and for our lounge act alter ego's.
Just posted the Practice 5 raw tapes. We keep getting closer to working out the technical details about how to make usable basement recordings. I think one more shot might nail it, and then we can start working on doing recording quality performances.
I dug up lyrics and chords for the tunes Eric is planning on doing next practice (you can get to them via the Tunes links). I don't know if the keys are what he wants. He may have given me that information earlier, but it wasn't included in the email he sent me.
Practice 6 ...
Went over more Lounge Lizard tunes. Yielded to Eric's urging that we need to postpone further work on dead stuff and concentrate exclusively on Lizard material. Recordings indicate that we need to put some time into performance quality.