Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Recording - December 12

It's been a good few weeks in the studio, after a three month break to get some enthsiasm back we're back for the final push. First up was the piano part on 'City Streets', then Carly & Graeme came in & did backing vocals on all ten tracks.

Mixing 'City Streets'

Carly doing her thing

Below is the first early mix of City Streets. It's mixed at a low level so you may need to turn it up.

Nearly there! Only horns on 'Only a fool' and the final mix to come. It'll be good to have this album finished.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Alex Chilton - JJF

Alex Chilton's kick ass 1970 cover of the Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash". Lean & Mean..

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A work of genius

Charley Patton - Pea Vine Blues. 1929

I think I heard the Pea Vine when it blowed
I think I heard the Pea Vine when it blowed
It blow just like my rider gettin' on board
Well, the levee sinkin', you know I, baby
 (spoken: Baby, you know I can't stay)
The levee is sinkin', Lord, you know I cannot stay
 I'm goin' up the country, mama, in a few more days
Yes, you know it, you know it,
  you know you done done me wrong
Yes, you know it, you know it,
you know you done done me wrong
Yes, you know it, you know it,
you know you done done me wrong
Yes, I cried last night and I ain't gonna cry anymore
I cried last night an' I, I ain't gonna cry anymore
'Cause the good book tells
us you've got to reap just what you sow
Stop your way o' livin' an' you won't...
(spoken: You won't have to cry no more, baby)
Stop your way o' livin' an' you won't have to cry no more
Stop your way o' livin' an' you won't have to cry no more
I think I heard the Pea Vine when it blowed
I think I heard Pea Vine when it blowed
She blowed just like she wasn't gonna blow no more

Monday, September 3, 2012

Mojo Acoustic - August 31 2012

Do It Right
Heavy Heart (You Am I)
Heavens Above
Relationship Blues
Kia Tatari Mou
Merry Go Round
Poison Tree

This was a fun set, I got Matt up for the first three tracks. He's really starting to get the harmonies down for 'Do it right' now and we managed to grab the audience right off the bat, which is always good. Next up was a cover of the band You Am I's 'Heavy Heart'

Matt bought his Uke along and played some improvised percussion which was cool & added some nice harmonies on the choruses. 'Heaven's Above' wasn't overly well received but it's really starting to reveal itself. Like 'Do it Right', I think it's going to take a few play through's before the song really reveals it's power, but it's coming. I believe in this track, I look forward to recording it. 'Lullaby' came & went, 'Relationship Blues' started  pulling the audience back into the set but surprisingly it was 'Kia Tatari Mou' which really pulled the crowd in. It was surprising because I've played it before & the Te Reo has completely alienated people. This time however it silenced the room & got the biggest applause of the night. Sometimes I just can't explain people's reaction to songs & this was one of those times. I've played this song many times both in English & Maori but I've never had a reaction like that for it. I kind of like the randomness of people's reactions, it gives things an unpredictable edge. Like when I feel I've played a song really well & it gets completely ignored : )

Merry Go Round is getting more & more fun to play. It has so many little bits & pieces to it it's always a challenge to play, which was kind of the point of writing it. It's a punchy song too so a good way to reach the audience. I finished with 'Poison Tree' which wasn't the finest rendition I've done but things were kind of going so well by this point it didn't really matter, everyone was just enjoying themselves, myself included.

Overall I give it a 7.5 out of 10. Started strongly, faded a little but brought it round & finished well.

I also played my first gig with the Polly Johnson Set but unfortunately with the adrenalin dump after my set I dropped back about three beers (too many!) and got lost at various points during the set, much to my embarrasment. I feel like I let the team down so will be looking to make that up to them. No more drinking until all my commitments are over!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Meow Cafe - Aug 09 2012

Polly Johnson, Ty Butterfield, Myself, Matt Reading

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Meow Cafe - 09 August 2012

Relationship Blues
Merry Go Round
Jimmy Jones
Poison Tree
Stones In My Passway
Do It Right
Together, Forever
Let Me Count The Ways (I Love You)

The night kicked off pretty good for me with one of my oldest friends surprising me by dropping in . He was down from Hamilton for work & saw my FB status update so called in. Shot bro! Unfortunately didn't catch a lot of Ruby James' set, but she seemed to be an earnest singer/songwriter (aren't we all!?). Nice voice. Mark & Carls played a good set, unfortuantely it took the sound guy about three tracks before he got them sorted, which I could tell was throwing the guys a little. Once they got going though they settles into their work. Once again Carly mesmerised when she was getting stuck into her tracks, particularly during a nice cover of Duffy's 'Warwick Avenue'. 

My set went well, it started a bit iffy, again with 'Relationship Blues' I blanked on the new lyrics. I finally wrote a third verse the night before so it was always going to be tough remembering the odd structure of the song and all the lyrics, but it was worth the risk as it could've been a nice opening track. Nevermind, it went ok but not spectacular. 'Merry Go Around' didn't really take off either but I wasn't losing the crowd so it was still there to be taken. I got Carly up next to do 'Jimmy' and our lack of practice showed a little. She kept signalling me to slow down & I think I kept speeding up, but we got through ok. Again, gotta be prepared for these things! The set really took off from here with 'Poison Tree' really hooking people in then 'Stones in my passway', which I dedicated to my buddy, keeping things going. It was the best I've played the song so far, it just flowed straight through me, no mistakes & really flew. It was a joy to play. It still amazes me everytime I hear or play a Robert Johnson song, the level of his talent. From there Matt got up & we ran through 'Do it right' which was also the best I/we have played this song, it felt like this is the first time the song has actually come through and been heard. Lastly, another a couple of friends got up, Polly & Ty & we played 'Together, Forever' & 'Let me count the ways' as a Uke four-tet. This was a lot of fun & got the crowd going & was a good way to finish. Overall I give the set a 7/10. Could've been higher if I didn't have the dodgy opening couple of songs but a good set I was happy with & the night really was succesful due to my old mate being there to experience it.

Next up, back at Mojo on the 31st.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Comings & goings

I've taken a few weeks break from recording/mixing as I was starting to get a bit jaded with the whole process. As it stands I have mixes of every song but there's still work to be done. The volume levels of the tracks aren't all equal, which is going to require re-mixing some tracks in order to get them to the same volume level as the others. There's also some recording to do which I'm putting off until I have good mixes of every song. Still to come is BV's, horns on 'Only a fool' & piano on 'City Streets'. I may also put a lead on 'I'll wait for you' but I'm not 100% on this as it sounds nice just as it is. My friend Shalesh advised not to as he liked the sparceness of the track but I'm not so sure. Best to record a lead then see if it works or not.
To tell the truth I'm really looking forward to this being over as I want to get started on a solo record. I'm looking forward to recording a bunch of songs with just guitar & vocal. I'm even going to attempt the BV's as well which means I'll be harmonising for the first time. I'm actually starting to hear harmonies now, which is a first for me as traditionally I've been a melody only type of singer. I figure learning to harmonise can only be good for me so quite looking forward to that! Anyway, first things first, gotta finish this goddamn record. I really hope this is the longest a record ever takes me to complete. What a mish!

Solo gigs coming up on August the 9th & 21st.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mojo Cafe - May 23 2012

And so another Mojo cafe gig comes and goes.. This was actually a really fun evening, it started a little worryingly with only a handful of people there. So few in fact that we delayed the show starting to allow more people to arrive. The opening act was someone I'd met a month or so earlier at a friends bbq, he played his own tunes on both ukelele & guitar. Nice thoughtful songs with some intricate playing, particularly on his uke. A good guy to boot, we exchanged details after the show, I'm sure we'll play together again. Next up was Carly & Mark doing some of Mark's own songs & one cover - Adele's 'Someone like you', beautifully sung by Carly. The evening really kicked off once these guys started. The lights got dimmed and they really captured the crowd (which was by now nearly a full house). Again, I'll get them back, there's real potential with these two so it'll be interesting to see them progress. I finished the evening off with a short seven song set:

Relationship Blues
Do it Right
Poison Tree
Merry Go Round
Stones In My Passway

It went ok I started badly, 'Relationship Blues' is a new song which I haven't finished yet & I as hoping to wing it & improvise on the spot. I've done it before & had good results, having to make it up as I go has actually made me come up with some good stuff, but not tonight. I leaned in to start singing & completely forgot the few lyrics I actually had written. So I started mumbling instead. Then I couldn't figure out the structure of the song so started playing the same thing over & over again - not cool. Anyway, I mercifully ended the song, by which time all the attention I had after Carly & Mark's set had been lost. I started 'Do it right' & things got worse, I just didn't play it well & I could feel the set slowly slipping from my control. It was threatening to slide into a forgettable evening. By the time I started 'Poison Tree' the crowd was talking over me & I was starting to panic. I decided instead of trying to play over them I'll play quieter and see what happens. Funnily enough, when I settled down, so did the crowd. This was where I pulled the set back around, about half way through this song the crowd went quiet. A small victory! From there, Portrait went well, Lullaby not so much & I finsihed well with another new tune, Merry Go round & Robert Johnson's 'Stones'. 
Overall a good learning experience and good moments but certainly not my best show. I'll give it a 6/10.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lordy, Lordy, Lordy - Mixing

And the mixing has started.. I now have rough mixes of all 10 tracks, it's pretty amazing to hear songs I've heard in my head for up to 15 years finally starting to take physical form. I had a pretty emotional response the first time I heard the strings on 'Fallen'. I wrote that song in 1997 and always heard the string section you can hear below & to finally actually hear it when my buddy Dylan added them was a pretty intense moment. Anyway below is three more works in progress 'Oh my lover', 'Portrait' & 'Fallen'.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

In the studio - A Photographic Essay

Sorry for the lame post title, I couldn't resist.. some shots from in the studio last Wed night, with John putting piano & keys down. The results of which can be heard on the two tracks in my previous post.

Alan & John prep the piano

Let it be
Paul taking care of the recording
 The fab four looking on making sure we're doing it right

 Looks familiar...

My hero

John & George Bush strike a pose

 Switching to the Rhodes for "Secret Garden"

The drive home

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mojo Acoustic - March 30, 2012

Played Mojo Acoustic again last night with Matt Reading guesting with me for his first full set, bar one track.
This Old House
Do It Right
The Old Man & The Sea
Together, Forever
I Remember
I'll Wait For You
Stones In My Passway (Robert Johnson)
Heaven's Above

This was a tough show. Matt & I practiced pretty extensively leading up to it but unfortunately it just didn't go our way. I had a funny feeling leading up to it that it could turn into a forgettable gig, the setlist I chose was ballad heavy and that's never a good thing. There's only really three tracks of the eight that have any kick: Do it right, I Remember & Stones in my passway but by the time I realised the set was so wussy it was too late, we were too far into practicing for me to throw some new tracks on Matt to learn. I tried to cover it up by pacing the set as best I could, we broke the ballad's up so the tempo of the set never got to dull by always having a slow song followed by something with a bit more kick but in the end none of that mattered because the sound dominated everything.

Unfortunately Alan set up his massive Bose P.A in the tiny mojo acoustic room & it was just too much for the small venue. We had to stop twice mid-song due to feedback, and onstage Matt and I couldn't hear anything at all. We couldn't tell if it was too loud or not loud enough, I could feel the power of the p.a everytime I leaned into the mic so I never felt like I could actually sing with any purpose without completely going over the top. In the end Matt stopped singing and playing his shaker, two things that we had practiced heavily, and resorted to just sitting still and playing guitar on a couple of tracks. Needless to say it was a very frustrating set. As always there were a couple of songs that I thought went well, Stones in my passway, which was my first time playing one of Robert Johnson's songs was pretty awesome to play live (even though most people had given up on us by then), we played 'together, forever' and 'Heaven's above' well too, but by then it was too late. The audience had moved on to their beers and chatting.

Still, there's always good things to come out of these nights. I learned that I need to get bigger, Mojo acoustic is too small & I need the challenge of a bigger stage. Also that I need to control the sound of my shows or find a reliable sound man that I trust.

I give the gig a 3/10. A couple of nice moments for Matt & I personally but overall a forgettable show.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Old Man & The Sea - Feb 2005

Here's an old live recording of us doing 'the old man & the sea' at Indigo (now San Fran Bathhouse). I came across this while trying to find an example of a harmony for it as Matt is helping out on it for the show on the 30th, and Carly was always the perfect harmonizer for my tunes..

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Lissie covering Lionel. Actually rather awesome.

Monday, February 13, 2012

In praise of beautiful, talented women..

Natasha Khan - aka Bat For Lashes
(she also gets points for having the worlds hottest drummer)

Leslie Feist - aka Feist

Chan Marshall - aka Cat Power

Lana Del Ray

and potentially, Birdy. Although as she's only just hit her teens we'll have to reserve judgement for now, although I do enjoy her cover of Phoenix's 1901..

Give it up for the ladies.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Dorothy Parker - Resume

My favourite Dorothy Parker poem;

Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp.
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Gun's aren't lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful,
You might as well live...