Category: music

Real Drums Are Better Than Electronic Drums

Real Drums Are Better Than Electronic Drums

It’s been too long since I’ve played an acoustic drum set. From my days in high school in the percussion ensemble, to the shows I played in the pit for, and the gigs out in New York with my band, I miss hitting things and making lots of noise. 

I attribute my hiatus from drumming on real drums to living in various apartments where, understandably, making loud noises with drums wouldn’t be looked upon too favorably by the neighbors. Thankfully, I’ve had an electronic drum set to get me by in the last few years. It’s not the same, but ’tis better than nothing. 

I found a rehearsal studio here in town that offers a drummer’s practice room; a small space which drummers can rent out for practice. It’s even “drummer budget friendly” also – $15 gets me two hours time – perfect! 

I went down the other day and had a lot of fun, and wanted to do it again; this time, I brought some recording gear with me and put together a little video. It’s not perfect by any means, but it sure did feel good to get back behind the real drums for a change. Perhaps it’s some motivation to find a band to play with now!

 

I’ve Been Busy in the Studio This Year

I’ve Been Busy in the Studio This Year

So far, 2017 has definitely been “The Year of the Studio”

I’ve been quite busy making music, and it feels great! First, with Tera Johnson’s album HOME coming out last month, now I’ve just added another to my list of releases. Another long time friend from college, Aaron Christenson has just released the first of many EP’s entitled “I Am Disaster” recorded by yours truly, in-house at my studio, JBRecording.  I also write a blog post about Aaron’s new release, in which you can also listen to the tracks we had done together. 

Aaron and I will be collaborating on 3 more tracks over the summer, so be sure to stay tuned for those coming up later on.  

Hold On

Hold On

Those two words can mean so many different things…

It’s a physical thing… Like, while on the subway, “The train is about to move… Hold on!”

Or… when you’re on the phone with someone, and you’ve got someone ringing your door bell…

“Hold on…”

Or if you’re going through a really tough time, and your best friend while consoling you says “It’ll be okay, just hold on…”

It’s also the title of a classic song from when I was growing up, that’s always been one of my favorites. That being said, just a little bit of backstory:

I’ve always been truly humbled and blessed to have such wonderful and talented people in my life. Last year, I started working on a project with one such friend, Tera Johnson who called me up out of the blue (we hadn’t seen one another in 15 years)  and said, “Hey, I’d like to do an album with you.”  The last time we’d been in a studio together was when we were both in college, and recording some project for either one of hers or one of my classes.

We’d kept in touch through Facebook as many of us do these days,  but it’s usually limited to seeing whatever someone shares to their profile. Pictures of kids, fun times, vacation posts, rants, etc… it’s not the same as staying truly connected.

I couldn’t say “no” to her request; I was truly humbled that she wanted to work with me again after all this time. She booked a plane and came down here to Austin some time after that phone call, and it began back in early 2016. She showed me some of the songs she’d been writing as of late, and some that she wanted to put together into a new album project entitled “Home”.

After the first day’s work in the studio, we were relaxing and unwinding, and decided to watch the movie Bridesmaids – a truly hilarious film. For those unaware, the song “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips is featured in the movie, as one the lead character and her bestie hold dear. As the movie was ending, Tera said “Hey we should go record that!” – Even after we’d worked all day in the studio, but both being the artists that we are, went up and did just that.

A few hours later, and some looks of surprise and exclamations of “Hey, this actually sounds pretty good!” – the song made it to the album, and is now the last track on Tera’s newest album HOME. We didn’t stop there, though. In addition to the song being the last on the record, it’s the first of a few music videos to come out for the new album.

You can find more information about Tera on her website, terajohnson.com,  her Facebook, and her YouTube Channel

Enjoy!

 

Update: June 2017:

After sharing this on social media, the incredible Carnie Wilson herself chimed in and said she enjoyed it! So cool!!

Favorite Music: Live Performances

Favorite Music: Live Performances

Music speaks to us in so many different ways.  It can make us laugh, it can make us cry, it can help to heal us during a tough time; it’s like the best friend that’s always there when we need it.

Periodically, I’m going to share posts involving songs or performances of songs that have special meaning for me. 

The first one, is one of the best live performances I’ve heard… but to simply refer to listening to this as “hearing” it, is just not doing it justice. This is the gold standard in live performance, because Whitney Houston takes an arena packed with people and transports every single one of them to a special place with her performance of “A Song For You” 

Listen to this with your eyes closed; it’s true beauty in simplicity. 

Since I’m specifically referring to live performances, I can’t neglect to mention Jennifer Holliday’s performance of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from the Tony’s in 1982.  

I love to see people who truly connect with the material, and show it in their performance. This is another one of those performances that, if it comes up in a YouTube “watch this again” feed, I always stop what I’m doing and do just that. I think Jennifer Hudson did a fine job in this role in the Dreamgirls movie, but I can clearly see where she took her inspiration.  Holliday isn’t just singing this, she’s feeling it, which makes for a unforgettable performance.  Do you have any favorite live performances? Post a comment, let me know! 

 

Crank Up Some Classical Music

Crank Up Some Classical Music

Classical music can sometimes have a bad rap; some say it’s not “cool.”  I’m here to tell you that it’s not all about tearjerking violins and operas sung in a different language –  this genre of music truly has something for everybody. I’m a firm believer that music should be enjoyed at the right volume, and in this post, I want to share songs that should be played LOUD. There’s an intrinsic “cool factor” to pieces like these, because they were written so long ago, long before some of the known composers of these times were even born. 

So, put your headphones on – the better the headphones the better the experience. I’m listening to this first one on my Bose Quietcomfort QC15 headphones… you won’t get the full effect on EarPods, but either way; if it’s all you’ve got, put them on and crank it up to full.

 

1. Mars: The Bringer of War – Gustav Holst, from “The Planets” — Two reasons I love this: It’s written in 5/4 time, and it was clearly an influence for a well-known film composer that’s scored many box office mega movies. Can you identify the composer I’m referring to? Take a listen!

2. Also sprach Zarathustra – Richard Strauss – This was the opening to one of the greatest movies of all-time: 2001: A Space Odyssey which, if you hadn’t seen it, you really should. I really love the emphasis on the percussion section, and that this piece incorporates a pipe organ. One of the many items on my bucket list is to see this performed live in-person. Until that happens, listening to this with the volume turned up on a good set of headphones or speakers gets me every time. This particular performance has a few special treats… and I’m not referring to the visual of the conductor and what you hear being out of sync… enjoy! 

 

3. 1812 Overture – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – One of the few composer’s names that make me grateful for copy-and-paste. This piece is most often heard around July 4th, but it’s mostly known because the percussion section gets to use cannons. Yes, you read that right: cannons! If cannons aren’t available, though, whomever is playing the bass drum is given free reign to put the mallet through the head. They’re expected to hit it quite hard… I remember being in high school band playing this piece… in the percussion section… damn, that was fun. The epic part of this is toward the end, so if the video doesn’t automatically do so, start around 11m40s. The rest of the piece is nice, but the loud part is from that part and onwards. Enjoy, and look out for incoming cannon fire. 

4. Carmina Burana: O Fortuna: – Carl Orff — I don’t know much about this piece, but it makes the list of epic pieces for sure. For whatever reason, it seems that Hollywood made us all think this music is, shall we say, “evil in nature.” – It really isn’t, it’s just intense. I think there’s a difference. Whatever it is, it’s big, it’s epic, it’s loud, and it’s damn beautiful. 

5. The Ride of the Valkyries – Richard Wagner – “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit…” I couldn’t complete this list without this one, and this is certainly not all there is out there when it comes to pieces of music best enjoyed at a higher-than-reasonable volume. 

 

 

Bonus:

The above were written long before any of us were even born, but I offer you this from the not-too-distant past:

Whatever your music preference,  always enjoy your music at a reasonable volume unless you’ve got  good pair of headphones, and you don’t subject your ears to it that often. 

Sure, it’s great to listen to music and truly feel it, but don’t forget about hearing safety. Just like anything, enjoy in moderation, but every now and then, enjoy it LOUD.

Any pieces you think would be a good fit? Throw a comment, let me know!

-J

 

A Great Little Mic!

A Great Little Mic!

I was in the market for a small lavalier mic for use in an upcoming video project, and wasn’t interested in going with an elaborate wireless set up. I didn’t want to spend more than $150 or so per microphone, since I needed two of them, and most of the wireless rigs were starting around $300 for one microphone. Thankfully, I stumbled upon the Audio Technica Pro70 as a great option. I’m a big fan of Audio Technica products, so I figured I’d give them a go.

I did a basic review of the microphone for my YouTube channel, since I do enjoy doing product reviews from time to time:

…and then realized that it came with hardware to mount it to an acoustic guitar. As it turns out, my acoustic guitar, a Taylor 110, does not have any electronic pickups so this would be all the more useful. Talk about bang for one’s buck, eh? Here’s the mic on acoustic guitar:

As you can hear, it’s a great mic for the price tag. I picked mine up for $99 per mic at a local camera shop. I’ve seen the mics ranging from around $100 per mic up to around $150, so be sure to check around your local professional audio shops for the best deals to be had.

One thing to note: You will need some type of audio interface to connect this microphone to if you’re looking to use it for doing vlogs, YouTube videos, etc. This is not a USB microphone. If you’re new to this type of equipment, I’d recommend calling the folks at Sweetwater since they are very knowledgeable and helpful, and happy to get anyone started regardless of skill level or past experience.