Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What You Don't See

Joe Keiser, the monitor engineer for Keith Urban on this tour, did a time-lapse video of a typical load-in and set up for an Urban show.

Says Joe:
" I shot that from 8am until 6:30 pm (doors) took a shot every 30 seconds and then dropped it in Final Cut and set a picture at each frame (30 Frames a second)"

This is what we do before y'all get there...

Rough sequence of the video:

1) Points are hung by riggers
2) Lighting trusses and stage are rolled in
3) Stage is built in foreground
4) Trusses, P.A. and video wall are flown
5) Stage is set with backline (hey, that's me!)
6) Stage is pushed into position
7) Stage is wired for power and audio
8) Line check and sound check
9) Chairs are put on floor by venue crew
10) Lights are focused

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vaya Con Dios, Les Paul

Lester William Polsfuss, of Waukesha, Wisconsin passed away today. If he had only inspired and championed the solid-body electric guitar, that would have been worthy of a tribute post. If he'd only pioneered the use of echo delay and reverb and double-speed recording, that would be enough. If he had only designed the first multi-track recorder on a bar napkin, got out the phone book, called an engineer and added a second playback head to his reel-to-reel tape recorder, that would be enough. But Les Paul, as he was known professionally, did all of those things.

Les tinkering in his garage studio

Not to mention his virtuoso guitar playing, amazing recording and production skills. Les Paul was thinking about making a guitar out of a solid piece of wood back in the 1930's, but was generally laughed at by the major manufacturers of the time. After Fender hit the market first, with their Broadcaster, Gibson remembered that guy with a "broomstick guitar" and together they created an American Classic in the Les Paul model guitar.

I bought my first Les Paul record, a duet album with Chet Atkins called "Chester and Lester" at Burnstad's Shop Rite in Mauston, WI. My Dad had some 78s of Les Paul and Mary Ford, namely "How High The Moon" and "Mockingbird Hill". I lusted after a Les Paul for years, especially when Peter Frampton came on the scene playing a triple-pickup Custom. Not to mention Jimmy Page, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Scott Gorham, Mick Ralphs, Mick Jones and nearly every Rock guitarist that interested me in the '70's.

Les at the Gibson plant in Kalamazoo, MI.

I went through a few cheap copies, made by companies such as Aspen and Hondo II, but once I got to college, I bought a real Les Paul, a 1974 Tobacco Sunburst model from Dave's Guitar Shop in LaCrosse. I went through a few over the years and now have a Reissue 1960 VOS version, an amazing guitar.

A complete obituary would take many pages, and I'm sure you can find them online. Suffice it to say that the music business as you know it, and definitely as I know it, would be vastly different without Les Paul, the "Thomas Edison of Wisconsin".

Thanks, Les. For everything.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Live Music

Just got home from a Counting Crows show, with Michael Franti w/Spearhead and Augustana. Nobody opened - or rather - everybody opened. All 18 musicians on stage for the first song, then people came on and off in various numbers and they played for 90 minutes.

Everybody sounded great, but it was at the Ryman, so odds were good of that happening. Very entertaining and exciting show. Had not heard Franti or Augustana before...liked them both.

Hanging With The Beatles

With the pending release of the re-mastered catalog on 09.09.09, interest in The Beatles will undoubtedly spike again, as it last did when the "Love" CD and Vegas show were unveiled. In my house, it's always a good time for all things Beatles.

As it turns out, Planet Waves has the licensing rights to put Beatles logos on straps and picks. I just received my samples and here they are:


Monday, August 10, 2009

Return to Fender

I am a fan of Fender guitar amps. Me and millions of others, of course. From the '59 Bassman to the Deluxe Reverb to the Blues Junior to the Champion 600, they just sound great. I own a vintage '67 Deluxe Reverb (a black-panel version) that I keep in top condition and it is my very favorite amp. I wish I could travel with it, since I'd love to record my Deluxe while laying down some guitar tracks on a tour bus or in a hotel room, but that's not really possible. Too fragile, too big, too heavy for airplanes and busses. So how can you get the Fender sound without a real Fender amp?

IK Multimedia's AmpliTube Fender software models 12 great Fender guitar and bass amps. I'm a big fan of the Line 6 models, as regular readers know, and I was curious to hear how the new IK version would hold up.

Well, it simply sounds great. I first used it to warm up a direct-recorded bass guitar track. A fat, warm bass amp model added just the right sound the more pristine D.I. tone and blending the two gave me just what I wanted. I had recorded a track direct on guitar to get the musical idea down before I forgot it, with every intention of recording it for real later on. Just for fun I put a Deluxe Reverb on that track. It sounded like my amp... a lot like my amp.

I think the Fender bundle from IK Multimedia is a great addition to the recoding guitarist's toolkit and will certainly get used in my current and future projects.