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Did a fun acoustic + electric gig at IOTA in Arlington, VA a few weeks ago.  Expert photog Chris Rief was on hand to document, & grabbed these great shots.

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Live gig w/the Laura Tsaggaris band this weekend. Gig was at a beautiful, huge church/theater space out in Fulton, MD. Great FOH sound system, sweet guys running the board; drums were behind tall plexiglass shields, which made the on-stage experience much quieter, but was somewhat difficult to really find the pocket, in that most of the drum sounds I was hearing were those that were reflected off the back wall. Thus there was a minuscule permanent delay to everything. Worked out fine in the end, though I would’ve preferred at least more kick & snare in the monitor mixes. Tasty playing as always by Wes Lanich on keys, Chris Brown on bass, Chris Keever on drums, and Laura on vocals & guitars.

I threw my iPhone on the drum riser during a track, & here’s the resultant video. From being on that riser, the shot bounces with every kick drum hit, so it’s kind of like that Seal video for ‘Crazy.’ Please excuse dated, unhip video reference. The vid:

This is what you do when you have a guitar that doesn’t work. You take care of it.

Radiate. 88.

Have I used that title before?

I’m a novice photographer, don’t have any training, don’t know any of the history of the art form, have never shot or developed film – but I like taking photos. As such, I bought a pretty fancy 1st camera, a Nikon D80, and a couple of great lenses. Then, they were stolen. Which sucked. Insurance, huzzah, I was able to replace almost everything. The D80 has since been discontinued, so I picked up a new D90 in its place. Similar specs, but the D90 also captures 720p video, which while initially something I didn’t really care about, has become one of my favorite features of the thing. Long story short, I love using the D90 in video mode with my f/1.8 50mm lens, cranking the aperture wide open (1.8), and working the resultant super shallow depth of field. Here’s a minimovie of baby G playing a little known Shostakovich piece….

Only in Daydreams

I spent yesterday and today working with Laura Tsaggaris on a new tune of hers. We tracked at the Field School studio, & got through about 95% of the process. The mix here is needs some tweaks, particularly to the lead vocal in the 2nd verse (there’s a volume spike in one of the doubled/harmony lines that needs to be ducked), and the acoustic needs to be limited at a few points of really hard strumming. There’s also a touch of editing required, snip a few loose ends, etc. But what we’ve got is pretty solid – check it out. But first, some notes on the process:

Acoustic: Guild F-50, recorded with a Rode NT5 about 8 inches from the 13th fret, angled a bit towards the soundhole, and a Rode NT1A about a foot overhead, angled down towards the hole. The mix is about 70/30 NT5/NT1A.
Bass: P bass, tone about halfway, direct into a Presonus Eureka. Thumb, palm mute (my fave thing).
Piano: Steinway grand, “prepared” with paperclips, binder clips, one guitar string, one whammy bar (which is apparently the single best item for doing this kind of thing), 3 wood screws; Rode NT5 about 20″ over the middle of the hammers, angled down towards the soundboard. Mono, baby.
Electric Guitar: Strat into 1965 Pro Reverb, Fulltone Supa-Trem (left speaker, arpeggios), Lovepedal Les Lius (right speaker, fuzzy stuff), Rode NT1A about 8″ off one speaker
Vocals: Rode NT1A, various “telephone” EQ’s on the “ooh’s”

My favorite element musically is the beginning of each chorus, where the bit hit comes on beat 1 of the second bar – I like the mini-delayed gratification of the big moment there. For whatever reason, kind of keeps me wanting more.


Sweet Beats, Kitchen Kit

Note the donuts. Searching for donuts.

Laura Tsaggaris Band @ Black Cat

Did a gig at DC’s fabled Black Cat last Friday the 26th. LT on guitars & vocals, Beardy Carluzzo on bass, Paul Garisto on drums, Josh Whatshisname on sax, me on guitars. Fun! Loud!

Overtime Records secret video assassin snagged a few clips from amongst the throngs of faithful attendees. Check a few out right here (warning: audio on these is less than stellar. I blame the liberals…)!

Birthday Tune

Winner’s Curse

Get Yourself Right


Our little houseguest, mid-rant in the tub. Check it out:

Phin’s Theme, V.1

This is old news, but as I’m trying to fill out the blog here a bit, it’s at least serviceable filler.

Back when M was pregnant, we were convinced that the thing was a little fella, & went so far as to officially name him Phin.  Turns out, Phin was a Gil.  Luckily we went with green for the kid’s room, so no repainting was necessary.  Meantime, I did up a quick tune in Garageband while we were eating ice cream one night.  I had my Gibson J-45 plugged into the audio in jack of the laptop via a 1/4 – 1/8 cable I’d picked up at Radio Shack at some point.  I did the electric tracks the same way with my Tele, & used the onboard amp simulation stuff in GB to get the dirt, delay, & reverb on the feedbacky background part.  I can’t remember if there’s a bass track on there, but if there is then A) I probably did it with the Tele & put an ‘octave down’ plugin on it, and B) it’s mixed very low because it sounds bad.  The “ooh’s” are courtesy of M & me singing together into the onboard mic on the laptop (between slugs of chocolate peanut butter).  Canned drum loops courtesy of Steve Jobs (unsure of Mr. J’s use of choc. p. butter during production).

I’d imagined this tune as a lullaby for the alien once it arrived; little did I know she would arrive with an unshakable personal disdain for sleep, thus rendering any and all lullabies wholly worthless.

Regardless, even though it’s called Phin’s Theme, this one’s for you Gil.  Phin’s Theme, V.1

Laura Tsaggaris asked me to help her with demoing a little tune over the holidays.  I obliged, & we did the tracking in just a couple of hours.  We ended up with 2 tracks of Laura’s Taylor acoustic, both mic’ed up with a Rode NT1-A large diaphragm condenser about 8″ from the 12th fret, angled a bit towards the soundhole.  Large d. condensers can get boomy as the proximity effect kicks in (as you put the mic closer & closer to the sound source, there’s a perceptible increase in bass response in the mic’s output), so I was wary of that with both the EQ on the way in & during the quick mixdown I did that night.  We also got a couple tracks of Laura doing some vowel-ish syllables to accentuate a few moments in the guitar track, & a whistle track that also fills out the melody on the ‘verse’ section.  That same NT1-A was also used to capture a boot-on-wooden-drum-riser ‘stomp track’ to make the pulse a little stronger as the tune progressed.

Check out a quick mix of the tune here: JJASOND Rough Mix.

Props to LT for a sweet tune and great playing.  Way easier to engineer & get things organized when the performance end is under control.