Archive for September, 2007

Sep 26 2007

An Early Drawing

Published by under Art,Family

What follows are two pieces of recently discovered art that were created back 1971. The first is an illustration, and the other text. Enjoy!

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Sep 23 2007

SoundWalk2007 Recap

Published by under Gratitude,Sound

I have to say that SoundWalk2007 was amazing. There was a HUGE turnout, and a very diverse mix of young hipsters, folks about our age with their kids, and older folks too. There were about 50 works and/or performances spread out over 4 square blocks. Some were in cars, or in the backs of rented U-Haul trucks, some on roof-tops, in store-fronts, alley ways, on the sidewalks, and in galleries.

Some works were astoundingly simple. For example, an artist took 100 music box innards and mounted them all in one large wooden box. Somehow, there was a main mechanism that would hold them in check. You could wind up any number of them then release the master mechanism and they would play. The effect was actually quite pleasing. There was also a performance of “Napping Music,” in which 6-12 people lay, with blankets and pillows, on the stage. At one point several children wandered by and decided to lay on the floor next to the stage. This same group also did a performance where the musicians would only play if you touched them. Sweet.

On the other extreme, there was one piece that looked like a beautiful delicate sculpture of wire and lights but, upon closer examination, one realized that it was actually a very complex electrical circuit that responded to changes in light and sound. People were interacting with it, and it was quite delightful to see the looks of wonder on their faces.

As for me, I’ll give you a brief description of what I was doing. I was talking on my Cel Phone. There were two parts to this. The first part was, as I strolled around, me saying complementary things about folks as they walked by, as though I were sharing this with the person I was speaking to on my phone. “There’s a woman in front of me who has the most beautiful hair.” or “I’m looking at an older man who has the nicest face.” I was intentionally trying to communicate positive, and specific, statements about people in the area. The 2nd part was using my cel phone in places that might be seen as inappropriate, for example during the napping music performance. Some people responded by ignoring me, obviously so, to the point where I called it “Cel-Phone Shunning.” Even friends of mine would act this way. Others would glare at me and, once, someone pointed toward the door, suggesting that I leave.

Overall, I’d say that what I did was a success, but I felt myself being somewhat timid and not really pushing things as far as I could. For example, there’s a very nice restaurant in the area, and a friend suggested I go in, stand at the bar, and talk on my phone. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, though.

My friend Dennis brought his video camera, and I rented a wireless microphone system that allowed him to stand fairly far from me and, hopefully, capture some of the interactions. I’ve not reviewed the tape, but look forward to doing so. If we captured anything good, I’ll post it.

My sincere thanks to all the folks at Flood, who invisioned, produced, and sustained this amazing event, and invited me to participate. Thanks to Marco, Shea, Kamran, Frauke, Shelley, and all the amazing artists who participated this year.

Well, that’s about it for now.

xoxo

srw

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Sep 17 2007

Phone Messages

Published by under audio tracks,Family,Sound

As I plough through the detritus of my life I occationally find tidbits, fragments, glimpses of times and places past, long forgotten connections, meaningful references, etc. No better example of this are phone messages. I remember feeling the need to get an answering machine at some point, mostly because 1) I was looking for a job and, 2) my friends all complained bitterly that they could never reach me, the elusive social butterfly that I was. Still, I don’t think the answering machine ever really solved any problems, and caused a few of its own.

I was living on 4th Street, just across from Chipper’s Corner (now the Pike) at Hermosa. I’d been working for Kinko’s but, at some point in this period, I lost my job. It took some time, but I eventually moved out of the apartment and back in with my mom, and started working for KLON.

Featured on the recording are Brian Hancock, Brian Nelson, Joanie Karnowski, Camille Smith, my roommate Jim Theibert, Larry Miller, Mike Dubois, Andrea Adkins, Rychard Cooper, Bebe Wolff, Marvin Wolff, and a few others. I am pretty sure that phone numbers from more than 20 years ago have no modern relevency.

      Listen To The Messages
– [this is a large 13MB file, so it may take a while to download]

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Sep 13 2007

Mystery POS Acoustic Guitar

All I know is that this instrument belonged to my mom, and that it was bought a long time ago, and probably for very little money. The neck is fat and thick, bowed, with frets that are super thin. It is difficult to play, and the intonation goes to hell if you wander above the 5th fret. It was intended to be a ‘classical’ nylon string guitar but when I replaced the frozen tuners, I strang (stringed) it up with phosphor bronze strings instead.

Gibson Victory Bass

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Sep 13 2007

Gibson Victory Bass

I am not exactly sure why I got this instrument. I think I saw a picture of one and fell in love with it. I found one in the recycler for a fairly reasonable price and purchased it. This is a fantastic instrument, made well, and solidly, with good electronics. It is American made. The only real downside is that it is incredibly heavy which, I’m sure, adds to its beefy tone. Still, I only use it for recording because, after playing one gig with it, I was in agony.

Gibson Victory Bass

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Sep 13 2007

Fender Precision Bass (Made in Japan)

When I joined Blue Dot it was made clear to me that my fretless instruments weren’t welcome. Although I borrowed a fretted instrument for a while, I decided to commit to playing one and purchased a pewter sparkle Fender P-Bass Lyte, which had active P/J pick-ups, a wonderful fast neck, and a lightweight body. It sounded great. Unfortunately, it got stolen out of my car after a gig so I was forced to play my Gibson Victory, which was back-breakingly heavy. After one gig with the Victory, I was hitting the recycler and found this very inexpensive, and somewhat thrashed, Japanese P-Bass.

After reading an article by Rick Turner (A co-founder of Alembic, and owner of Renaissance Guitars) I replaced the existing p/u with a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder, and had it wired directly to the output jack, bypassing both the volume and tone controls. This produces a wonderful, bright, clean sound with lots of low fundamentals.

This was my primary gigging bass for quite some time.

Fender Precision Bass

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Sep 13 2007

Taylor 110 Acoustic Guitar

I’d inhereted a real POS Fender Acoustic from my Poor Old Joe bandmate, Brian Nelson. I never liked it, but never thought to trade up either. I started playing the Fender more, just to delve into it, and began to dislike it more and more. It was just a poorly made instrument. I decided that I’d rid myself of it and get something just a bit better. I decided rather arbitrarily not to spend more than $500. After many months of shopping, trying a variety of instruments, etc. I decided that Taylor’s bottom of the line instrument, the 110, was for me. It is made in the same factory as their $5000 instruments, and by the same staff. I found one for sale on Ebay that was in my price range AND that included a hard case. End of story.

Taylor 110 Acoustic

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Sep 13 2007

Industrial Guitar’s Indy Rail

My good friend Mike Weber loves Lap Steel Guitars, also known as Hawaiian guitars. These instruments are some of the earliest electric guitars, and are played with a steel bar in the left hand to select the pitch, and strummed, picked, or plucked with the right hand. He was kind enough to let me play his lap steel and, in due time, I was won over by its charms. I consided buying a vintage instrument, but there is great demand for them, even the ones that are not that great. So, I found Chris Fouke who builds modern versions from modern materials. Although he makes instruments that are designed to be played acoustically, his Indy Rail is definately a screamer when plugged in.

Industrial Guitar's Indy Rail

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Sep 13 2007

Gretsch BST-1000 (aka The Beast)

I’d wanted an electric guitar for a long time, and was searching here and there rather aimlessly. I’d wander into a store and grab instruments just to see how they felt in my hands. I didn’t need to plug them in… I knew that I was looking for a fit, a feel, something indefinable that would eventually reveal itself. Sadly, one day, it did. I had the misfortune of grabbing a beautiful Paul Reed Smith guitar from the wall and it was as though the choir invisible began to sing, and light spilled forth from the heavens…. that is, until I saw the price tag. I wasn’t looking to spend $2000 on a guitar… More like $500. Still, now that I had the idea of what I was looking for, I continued my search. A friend, Jack Waterson, whose claim to fame was his membership in Green on Red, was working at a music store on Melrose. I described what I was looking for and, after trying a number of guitars, found this one.

Gretsch BST-100

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Sep 13 2007

Washburn Acoustic Fretless Bass

At some point I decided that I really needed an acoustic-ish bass. I was going for a more folksy sound at the time. My first act was to visit Jack Waterson who, at that time, was working at a music store called Guitar Guitar in North Hollywood. Jack, if you don’t know, was a founding member of, and bass player in, Green On Red, and by far the most ‘pro’ musician I knew at the time. He was steering me toward a beautiful, full bodied Guild which, without a doubt, was a finer instrument but, unfortunately, it was more expensive and didn’t come with built-in electronics, something I was looking for. They had two versions of the Washburn AB-20, a fretted and a fretless. I opted for the fretless. It has a simple piezo pickup under the bridge, and an on-board preamp/eq that was made by fishman (?).

This was my primary gigging and recording instrument for the early acoustic days of Poor Old Joe.

Washburn Fretless Acoustic Bass

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