Low Frequency Hum, Duct Tape & Prayer

If I haven’t posted much in the past couple of weeks it’s only because I’ve been busy with one or two things. Besides the usual web design jobs, I’ve been working hard at getting in the Zone where recording my album is concerned. But I admit that finding said Zone hasn’t been as difficult as finding the space in which to enter it. Between the high temperatures and a broken air conditioner (which is why you always have to keep in mind some nice HVAC company for your heating & cooling needs), there was no place to set up that wasn’t either a) miserably hot and humid, b) populated by spiders, 3) dominated by the sound of fans, or 4) susceptible to outside traffic noise.

Beginning last weekend the university students have started returning so recording with a live microphone isn’t going to be easy; the sirens and the boom cars going past my windows have only begun to cramp my style. I have a very narrow window to claim: I can’t record in the mornings due to the strain on my night owl brain; I have only the hours between 1:00 (when Lynette gores back to work after lunch) and 3:00 (when the students and faculty leaving the university for the day drive past our house). It’s been too hot to retreat to the garage and the bedroom is just too cramped. Now I’m having an issue with what I think is a faultily ground in the living room AC outlets, creating a frustrating hum on my recordings. What’s an indie artist to do? I’m still trying to figure all of this out and t’s looking more and more like I’m just going to have to brave the heat, the dust, and the spiders in the garage.

Still, I was able to lay down two guitars and two vocals on the title track, A Polite Little Madness. This came out very well, although the vocals are only scratch tracks that will be replaced after Wild Bil McCombe lays down his slide guitar on Monday. I met Bil at Thousand Oaks Band Tree IV in 2012, where we became instant friends. I mean, I don’t remember ever just meeting him, or being introduced to him. We were just old friends who’d never met. Or, better, old friends who haven’t seen each other in a long time, but who picked up right where we left off. We sat at the same table, he asked me to babysit his guitar, and we were friends. I love when that happens, when someone new isn’t really new in my life, but is already an orbiting energy that somehow slips in and takes its proper place. I feel like I’ve known Bil forever. Besides all this, he’s an outstanding musician, well worn to the rigors of both the studio and the stage after a lifetime as a professional. I was completely stunned when he offered to help out on my album. What a gift!

Wild Bil McCombe
Wild Bil McCombe


Me and Wild Bil at Band Tree IV, 2012.
Yours Truly and Wild Bil at Band Tree IV, 2012.

A couple of days after I sent my files to Bil, another amazing musician contacted me about joining in on my album. Jim Rolfe, who not only has played in nearly every Thousand Oaks band that ever was (I exaggerate, but not much!) offered me his expertise on guitar, bass, drums, and basically anything I might need. Jim is also the organizer of the Band Tree Reunions, famous for his prodigious talent, his affable disposition, and his red sneakers. He currently plays in The Koles, which keeps his schedule pretty full. Like Bil, he teaches guitar when he’s not doing session work or performing onstage. I count myself fortunate indeed to have my music not only endorsed, but also enhanced by these two giants in California Gold Coast music history!

Jim Rolfe
The incomparable Jim Rolfe

On Monday the AC was fixed so I set up in the living room yesterday to record. I worked exclusively on You Leave Me Speechless, an original tune that once was frozen by Juice Newton (or I should say by her “people”), but never followed up on. My turn. I laid down the 12-string and bass tracks and then a solo vocal and two harmony tracks. These vocals are all scratch tracks that I recorded just to get an idea of where this song wants to go. The luxury of demos is that you can work them and work them until you get it right. I’d forgotten how much I love recording this way.

Somewhere along the line I came to the realization that this album isn’t going to be merely something to sell at my concerts. It’s taking on its own importance: I will perform to promote it, not bring it along to my performances like tee shirts or refrigerator magnets. Duh. Because of this I’ve postponed my house concert until the album is completed. Then the concert will serve as an album release party. I’ve penciled in December 1st as the date to send the files to the manufacturer, but if it takes longer, so be it. I want this album to be as good as it can be.

On the home front summer is winding down. The lawns are starting to turn gold, my Morning Glories are about to bloom, and my Libra tides tell me Autumn is around the corner. Joel’s computer went down for a week until the part he needed arrived. It’s running again, but my laptop is on its last legs, held together with black duct tape and prayer. We certainly can’t afford to buy a new one because Lynette needs new glasses, which is, of course more important. My present web design job will bring in enough money for us to get both so I’m hoping both her eyes and my computer will hold out just a little longer. I was hoping to put that money toward Christmas, but I should have known better. That never works out. Micah is on vacation until the 10th, basking in the sunshine of the Costa del Sol and today is Joel’s birthday. Tonight we’ll be dining at El Tapatio and then coming home to cake and ice cream. It’s a quiet day, but I won’t be recording; I have some running around to do and I must go.

Have a beautiful week!

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