What a great time we had at Jeff Fest again! The band sounded good and the sound folks did an excellent job. Not to mention Rob and Sharon made us feel like a million bucks and quickly took care of any problems at hand. It is really one of the best festivals in the City and many thanks to the Jefferson Park Chamber for making it happen. If you have kids this is a must festival. For a mere $5 entry you get the bounce houses, arts and crafts, a fantastic family stage with many interactive acts not to mention the great music coming from the mainstage! With plenty of great food and beverages available I highly recommend you to put this one on next years calendar.
I would be highly remiss here if I failed to mention the show my friend and fellow Poochamungas bandmate put together back on July 16th. Alton Smith gathered some of the best musicians in the city (some of my favorite people too!) and once again paid tribute to the music of Bill Withers. For a mere $10 at the City Winery one got to behold the power and majesty of a tour de’ force musical experience. When and if they perform again I shall let you know and you should make haste to wherever they are playing. Thank you Bill, Wally, John, John, Gerald, Mike, Steve, Manny and Alton for doing what you do so well!
This Friday I get to play on the Kidzapalooza stage at Lollapalooza with some of my favorite Chicago Kindie Folk! Many thanks to Laura Doherty for setting it up and for Tor Hyams for having us perform. If you’re at Lolla stop on by Friday at 1:30pm. I will be performing along with some super talented Chicago folks including Little Miss Ann, Mr. Singer, Jeanie B!, and Ralph of Ralph’s World not to mention Laura herself! Make a visit it’ll be a lot of fun!
Posted in gigs, Kindie, live music, Music
Tagged Alton Smith, chamber, city winery, family, Jeanie B!, Jeff Fest, jefferson park, kids, kidzapalooza, kindie, Kingsize Sound Labs, Laura Doherty, Little Miss Ann, lollapalooza, Mr Singer, music, Poochamungas, Ralphs World, slab fork
Tonight is the benefit for Brickton Montessori School called The Big Leap. A bit of wordplay there because the schools mascot is a frog. A Fierce Frog to be exact. Fighting Frogs don’t quite fit the school and I for one like the uniqueness of the Fierce Frog. Well I decided the frog needed a theme song and in one of those motivated/inspirational/get’r done moments I wrote a song for the aforementioned Fierce Frogs. Having the song wasn’t enough because once written it NEEDED to be recorded (if only in my head). My kids really liked the song and my wife did as well so… after calling a couple studios on short notice with no luck I called a friend (Kevin Carney) who does remote recordings and with the help Cheryl Lacost (Head of the School) arranged for the song to be recorded at our school. The I got fellow parent Dave Degand to sing on it and Brickton Teacher John Huber to play on it (banjo was his idea) as well plus Frank and Don of the Poochamungas. A rough track was sent to everyone involved so they could practice at home and John and I got a rehearsal in on Friday and Saturday last week we laid it down. This as in last Saturday! The recording went well. John Huber’s banjo playing ended up driving the song as well as Dave’s expressive vocals. It was still missing something (again my artistic vision). Just needed to add some piano because in my head the piano is needed and managed to get Alton Smith (Poochamungas) to play and add harmonies and John Abbey to record on a Wednesday afternoon and then delivered those tracks to Kevin that night which he mixed and had to me by the next morning. You would think that’s enough but if your gonna have a theme song you should have a video to go with it. Wednesday I also spent the morning shooting clips in the school for the song which we had just recorded. Many thanks to Chris Wyer for coming out with his awesome HD camera and helping capture a Brickton School Day. So Kevin finished the song Wednesday night. Phew… But that’s not all. Fellow Brickton parent Joe Somers is edited all the video to go along with the song for the fundraiser tonight! TONIGHT! Saturday, February 15th at 6:30pm. TONIGHT!!! Which he has just dropped off and it looks AWESOME!!! All I can say is thank you to eveyone who helped it was a lot of work but a lot of fun. If yor interested in seeing the video it’s World Premiere will be at the benefit tonight and tickets are still available on the Brickton website.
Here is a shameless plug and link to all the artists that sent me CD’s for the benefit. Many thanks!!! Go support one of these kindie artists today!!!
Posted in family, Kindie, Recording, songwriting
Tagged Brickton, Frogs, kindie, Kingsize Sound Labs, Montessori, music, Poochamungas, School, theme
Last week I went to the first ever Chicago Kindie artist meet-up. We had pizza and discussed venues, a collaborative show and CD, etc. Some of us swapped CD’s as well. My favorite way of getting new music. Today in my car I was playing two of the CD’s I received. First up was Human-Tim+Robot-Tim You are an Astronaut. This is a CD already shown props by ZooGlobble and Mr Jeff2000. It’s an joyous effort by a man who’s been rocking the Chicago scene for a few years now. The quality of the CD is excellent and noticed it was mixed at the same place the Poochamungas use, Kingsize Sound Labs in Chicago. The stand out tune for me is Little Bob’s Big Day. You immediately recognize the homage to Bob Dylan and it’s just a great song written from a kids perspective. My Friend Paul is a quirky little pop ditty about animal friends. Definitely songs that should be heard on Kids Place Live. It’s a CD worth buying. Click the link below.
The other artist who swapped with me was Istvan and His Imaginary Band. I had read abut them playing local venues but had never crossed paths with them. The Rock Father (James Zahn’s review is here) had asked me about them and was impressed with one of their CD’s but I had not heard them at that time. Well their was no disappointment in listening to their Sweet! CD either. The rock it with both kinds of guitar (acoustic AND electric), relate-able lyrics and a rockin’ jump out of you seat rhythm thang! I think I lived the second track Too Much Stuff. That and Makes Me Happy are both songs deserving airplay as are all the tune on this record. Fine work indeed. So go support this and buy it at the link below
Posted in CD reviews, family, Kindie, song reviews
Tagged Bob Dylan, Chicago, Children's, Human Tim, Istvan and his Imaginary Band, kindie, Kingsize Sound Labs, music, Robot Tim, Windy Kindie
There is a very excellent documentary called Sound City out about the history of a recording studio called? You guessed it… Sound City in Van Nuys, California that recorded many great bands but went out of business in 2011. Bands including Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, etc… and of course Nirvanna and Dave Grohl. Dave now owns the Neve 8028 analog mixing console he bought when they closed (Dave also directed the Documentary). The Neve Board was the main reason why many of the bands went there to record because of it’s amazing ability to deliver great drum sounds and everything else. It’s at the center of the story. Well as luck would have it the Poochamungas recorded a good deal of our music on a Neve board (No not that board)… It seems our engineer at Kingsize Sound Labs, Mr John Abbey, was playing a gig at WGN (pretty good bass player as well) when he spotted the Neve board laying in some corner. Unwanted… Unloved… Unused… So he made an offer and bought himself a pretty fine recording board indeed. Now I know John was very happy when he got the board, (midway through our recording of Block Party!) but I had no idea of the history of that type of board till I saw the movie. Color me impressed! But her comes the bit of irony in the movie for me. Some individuals in the documentary claim that digital technology and specifically Pro Tools are one of the main reasons why Sound City went out of business. That technology made the recording on tape and the Neve obsolete. That no one wanted to record the hard way when Pro Tools can fix everything. Well we recorded on a Neve into Pro Tools. Blasphemy you say? Well I don’t know about that. What I do know that is what we did and thanks to Pro Tools many bands can now afford to record. That tape is expensive but worth it if you can afford to and are good enough (less margin for error with tape). That each has a place. That anyway you can get the music out is a good thing. Anyway I suggest you go see the Film as it is available for rental or purchase it here… buy.soundcitymovie.com/
Art by Joe Somers
In other news our CD is now in the hands of Breakthrough Audio and they are going to make many copies which we will be able to release in the coming months. Yea!!! Here is the slightly modified final cover art by our amazing artist Joe Somers!
Posted in Recording
Tagged Block, Breakthrough Audio, Cheap Trick, Dave Grohl, Fleetwood Mac, Joe Somers, John Abbey, Johnny Cash, Kingsize Sound Labs, Neil Young, Nirvana, Party, Pro, REO Speedwagon, Sound City, Tools
The Chillin and Grillin for a Cure Block Party!.
I have been writing about songs I wish I had written so this time I am going to discuss some of the songs I have written and how they came to be. The title track My Favorite Summer Day (Block Party) was a song that really took a journey for me. Block parties are such a city specific event. For kids it’s like Christmas in July. We never had a block party on my street growing up but we would visit a few that friends held every year. I think the reason we never had one on my street is there were a lot of older people on our street. Block parties are for kids and thus if you have no kids why would you want to do all that work… But I digress. This song started as a simple E chord, A chord strum. Lyrically it was triggered by my own kids running around our yearly block party. Remembering how I loved block parties and now seeing my own kids run around like I once did. So I wrote it in first person as a story of then and now. Then I worked out the bridge, finale and sent it to the band so they could listen and bring their own ideas along with mine to the studio. The other thing is the we record pretty much all our songs live with a full band. It brings a lot of energy and spontaneity to the music. It’s what works for us. Stevie Ray Vaughn used to do that and the Motown – Wall of Sound was all about that as well. Some bands lay down bass and rhythm track and then layer in guitars etc. But not us. Piano, guitar, bass and drums all at the same time. We do record the vocals later using a scratch track during recording and we do overdub when needed. From the moment Alton hit the keys to open the song I was astounded. The piano really changed the dynamic and filled the room. The guitar solo after instrumental middle was organic. Instead of singing I left it open and Pete at his best just feeling the music just filled it in perfectly. Alton’s idea was then to build it up, take it down and then build to a furious finish. Especially with the drummer. When you listen notice how the drum part builds. I think the song turned out pretty well with John Abbey doing a great job on the recording and mix. But don’t take my word for it. Have a listen using the link below and let us know what you think!http://www.poochamungas.com/#!music/c1yi7
A pretty good day
So I have been going through a bunch of my CD’s that were in a stack in the living room drawer and have been ripping them to my laptop. A couple of the songs that stand out for me are about slice of life. Small stories about lifes happenings with a bit of a nostalgic feel. Similar to a few songs I have written. One of them got a lot of airplay here in Chicago, was featured in the movie 13 going on 30 and Wilkepedia says peaked at #39 on Billboard. The other one is by a very talented local artist who if you haven’t heard of I am happy to make the introduction.
The first song is “Good Day” by the band Luce (click for live version.) This song just always puts me in a good mood. This is actually a day in the life song to be specific. Lyrics like
“So I lace my boots up and step outside
Catch a cab because my car died
And I go to work with my friend Dan
Paintin’ houses the best we can” What I like best of the song is the easy, rolling feeling of the day. Things happen and you just keep going whether they’re bad or good. About appreciating the moment and moving forward. Plus a killer horn section complimenting the musical groove. One of my favorite songs of the last 10 years. Tom Luce the author really did an excellent job penning this tune. Have a listen and I promise your day just got a little better.
The other song I learned about when the band was recording over at Kingsize Sound Labs. I was going through the John Abbey CD collection when I found Daytime Fireflies by Emily Hurd. He had produced it and offered me a CD to take home. The first song on the CD blew me away called “Kids in Red Wagons” (song and lyrics at the link). It’s about remembering youth which is a lot of what I do in my writing. The refrain perfectly captures a moment that repeats in time always reminding the author of what was. “When the sidewalks are flowing and the windows are open,
Then nobody feels like they are lonely.
When the time starts a-draggin like the kids in the red wagons,
Then we’ll always have Chicago, won’t we? Emily is a very talented songwriter and it is well illustrated within this song. Go check out her new band as well Stone Blind Valentine
That’s all today. Just a couple song examples I think exemplify the craft. Feel free to make suggestions for other songs to listen to in the comments section below. Band schedule and CD update’s the next time I visit here!
No more NEVE or Kingsize Studios for awhile.
We did it. We finished tracking the Block Party CD. I didn’t think it was gonna happen. Especially after the way we started. It was as if nothing was going right. We had an 11am start. First we had problems getting the MIDI keyboard to work. We solved that, decided not to got that route and the board power source for the main board started smoking a little. So John Abbey(our fantastic sound guy) shuts it down, makes a call and we move to the other control room. We get vocals done on a track in there but have to be out by 1pm because Johns partner needs the room. So we finish one song, we’re two hours in and moving back to the original studio. Johns partner arrives, checks out the board we started on, declares it safe and after some setup we are off and running! We got the vocals, the sax, more vocals, the acoustic guitar and done. Frank Rose our sax player layed down some cool stuff, Alton and I sang on some tunes, John recorded it all and we are DONE TRACKING! I feel relief and sadness. But I think Poochamungas fans and any music fan is gonna like what we’ve been doing. Now it lays in the hands of John Abbey who’s going to mix it. Then Alton and I will give it a listen and go from there. The four songs he’s finished so far sound great and I look forward to hearing the final 8. The goal is Kindiefest and I think we’re doing pretty good.
The bunny eared Pooch!
A very Happy Easter to all the Poochamungas fans. Hope you’re enjoying a beautiful Sunday as we are right now. All the sunless lousy weather days make you appreciate days like today. We spent the morning riding bikes and playing guitars out in front of the house. I hope to get a walk in while my son naps. If you missed an earlier post I have a fitness bet with Jeff Bogle at Out With The Kids (Kindie Rock Fitness Challenge) so I have to stay after it. You can read about it here or follow on twitter at #alittleless fat. I suggest you go enjoy the weather and I promise to do the same. Fitness walk here I come.
Next Sunday we hope to complete the Poochamungas Next CD Block Party! We’re headed back to Kingisize to add some instruments, vocals and final mixing and mastering. If you’ve visited our Reverbnation page some of the new songs have been posted and we gave away some free downloads as well. We shall be posting some more new songs in the future as well. We have pushed the release date to July so we can properly promote the CD this time. Photos, PR and other stuff to do before the release. Lots to do, Lots to do!
So prior to the New Zealand adventure and after I have been endeavouring to book gigs for the band. Not only am I the Songwriter and Executive Producer for the new CD Block Party which should come out in the spring I have a host of other duties as well. They are as follows – Manager, publicist, roadie, sound engineer, equipment manager and Guitarist/vocalist. Not uncommon in the world of music but still a lot to do when you add Husband, Parent of 2 and Chicago Firefighter. So I try to book one gig a day or at least send an inquiry as to playing a gig somewhere. I slowed up on this back in December as we were working on the new CD and the holidays were upon us. So now I am back to the grind. If anyone would like us to play an event in their area let us know and we would be glad to inquire. Now to send another email and make another phone call…
The 4 song demo is nearly ready in time for the Grammys. All sorts of industry folks are supposed to be there and I should be appropriately prepared. At least that is the intention. John Abbey at Kingsize studios has been doing a heck of a job mixing along with Alton Smith who has been doing a heck of a job getting us the right sound and leading the band in the proper direction. The four songs that are going on the demo are Imagination Train, Bah Humbug Halloween, End of the day and My Favorite Summer Day. Each is different than the others with four different singers and 4 different styles. Like a band buffet. Hope those that get a listen like what they hear.
And since we mentioned the Grammys it looks to be a busy couple of days. I fly on Friday in the late morning and then go where I don’t know (remember to pick up tickets!) It’s free day so I’m going to try to visit family and friends. Saturday it’s off to the Children’s Grammy Nominees Family Concert. There I shall get to see Bill Harley, The Pop-ups, Elizabeth Mitchell, The JumpinJazz Kids Band and our family favorites and friends The Okee Dokee Brothers. I look to enjoy the show and it’s followed by the ANNUAL NETWORKING LUNCHEON for the children’s recording arts industry (I took it right off the web site!) Here is where I hope to hand out a few CD’s. Then the next day it’s the main event as the 55th Grammy awards take place with this guy in attendance. The seats are a bit high up. (I may take a picture with a Lakers championship banner if you get my meaning.) But I will be there! Also the kids Grammy is given earlier in the day (it’s much more informal) in a completely separate building followed later by the main event. Then to the main event and then dinner with Bill Harley, his wife Debbie and some others. Looking to be quite an enjoyable evening indeed!
Posted in family, gigs, Recording, Travel
Tagged Alton Smith, Bill Harley, Demos, Elizabeth Mitchell, Grammys, John Abbey, Kingsize Sound Labs, Okee Dokee Brothers, Poochamungas, The JumpinJazz Kids Band, The Pop Ups