Spring Grooving!!!

Hey Friends,

We are grooving with outdoor chores and yard work recently. It’s been a heck of a Spring! We are typically hustling off to other regions of the country this time of year to play but this year we are really happy to be home getting things done. Digging in the dirt never hurt and it rejuvenates the Spirit! There has been so many odd little jobs that just go to the way side once our “summer throttle” gets pinned back.

And how to “downshift” from that intensity anyway? It’s always a challenge to find the balance and I have been asking myself this question lately: “Where/How are you rejuvenated?” As I have said in my other posts (which I read before starting this one…a GOOD reminder) how do you just STOP, for a bit? Focus on ONE THING at a TIME instead of 1000? It’s such a “do do do” world and culture for us. Busyness is so highly regarded and honestly, I like to be a little busy. I like having things to do…but not TOO MUCH to do. Not so overwhelmingly so! I really LOVE jobs I can SEE the results! That is so rewarding! And to be physical, but my hips are presently telling me I’ve been TOO physical ha ha! (Those darn weeds!!!)

Stone hauling

Stone hauling

Our summer is for the most part, completely booked. I’m taking a solo journey mid summer in answer to the call of “rejuvenation” and “spiritual enrichment”. I so rarely get a minute to myself and I don’t say that as a complaint. I do love people and my partner (and of course my dog), but time to oneself is extremely important! Especially to a writer! It’s a deal breaker. No time to myself? No new songs. Pretty simple.

The great part about this life we’ve carved out is that I can be teaching a guitar lesson one minute, out in the yard the next, working on mixing a song, and at a show that night!. Also, we called in some amazing people to help us! What beautiful angels! One gal is helping us decide all our landscape needs. She has an amazing background in horticulture and has a waggy tail. Another is a sweet young man helping us to build a fence that has been needed for the past 14 years! (Have we really lived in this house for 14 years uhhh…wow!)

As you can imagine, tearing down a fence, hauling yard stone, digging, tilling, weeding, clipping, trimming has plum tuckered us out a wee bit! Ha! But here’s where we sit with the musical process aside from all of our personals, as I’m sure that is what is more interesting for all of you. You all have your own yards and chores and schedules etc.

demolition on the fence!

demolition on the fence!

Tilling the flower bed

Tilling the flower bed

Three truck loads of scratchy branches we took to recycling!

Three truck loads of scratchy branches we took to recycling!

Musically, we (finally) got the live tracks for the Sapphire show in March. I’ve never mixed a whole show before. What does that mean? What is “mixing”? It is the process of lining ALL the tracks (tracks are musical sound bytes - for example, Mo’s vocal is assigned to one track, her bass another and so on), labeling them, balancing all the sound so it blends and editing any obvious bloopers (just a couple of those *eye roll * )! It’s quite a complex process.

I use a software called ProTools. There a MANY software programs available. This particular one is considered one of the top standards by the industry. It can be complicated, especially if one is not tech savvy, or as I can be, tech challenged. I’ve grown A LOT in this department and I think this membership program has pushed me quite a bit to learn these things.

Mixing a whole show is taking about 1.5 hours of tracks, cutting them up, editing them song by song, balancing the sounds…letting your ears rest on it. Coming back and tweaking it again, panning all the players so they sound natural for a room.

For example, there will be a track for:

Cajon bottom, cajon top, Bass, Acoustic Guitar, Mando, Electric Guitar, Pedal Steel, Mo’s vocal, My vocal, Roxx vocal, Earl’s vocal.

This is not our session but what an open ProTools session looks like.  Each wave strip is a “track”.

This is not our session but what an open ProTools session looks like. Each wave strip is a “track”.

That is 11 tracks. If you set between 2 speakers, say in a car for example, listening to music, you want to hear it as if it’s being played like the band. If every instrument was coming at you from dead center it would sound flat and “unrealistic” and probably overwhelming. So, I set the tone quality just as if you were watching the show. You will hear the kick drum stage left, the electric lead stage right our vocals in the middle Earl’s pedal stage left. Make sense?

This is all very interesting for ME to do as I’m hearing impaired ha ha!!! But oddly, I do a decent job with all of that. The guitar may need to come up or down, my voice up or down…all that takes “automation”, boosting or cutting certain signals that may “get in the way” of each other, or rocking the slider up for effect at various parts of certain songs.

There is a WHOLE ART to this process and I never pictured myself with this ability! It all looked WAY too complicated for me! It also costs a minimum of $60.00 an hour and as you can imagine each song takes about 10 hours of mixing! So….we are saving ourselves a HEAP by learning this stuff! Right?!! (like 12K at least!) THANK YOU!!! You have been the motivation to get to this place! Truly! If I didn’t have music to make for you, I probably wouldn’t have taken on the task.

I’m no great producer…but this practice ground has made me aware and possibly a better musician because of this process.

So speaking of that…where are your new downloads??? Yes, I know…I owe you a few now. I am under a heap of what we call “rough mixes” and you WILL be getting a few new songs/covers this month. It’s all a matter of getting time to sit and listen and of course there is that technical “hidden bummer factor” that happens like space on the hard drive. Ugh! Another eye roll there!

I like that you folks are starting to request some covers to be recorded! We can totally do that! And will! But thanks for being so patient with us. We are on a bit of a “yard diversion” due to the cool weather and before we get rolling so fast. I will “diverge” BACK to mixing and completing these recording tasks…well actually, I do this when the Sun goes down. So, out in the yard do do do…Sun drops, eat, mix, walk away, listen, eat some more, mix. Ha ha!! That’s my life right now.

Wake up in the morning, go trim that tree, set the garden, come in; write a newsletter, publish a facebook event, listen to the mix, find files ect. Make sense?!

Oh yeah and practice! I have a FUN toy I will show you next blog thanks to a very special friend of ours! But I need to practice with it first! It’s quite mind blowing. There’s my “cliff hanger” for you all to come back to the cyber campfire with us!

Meanwhile, enjoy this BEAUTIFUL Spring! And thank you for all your support and love!