Douglas Baldwin is available for freelance and part-time writing and performing opportunities. Click here for his resume.
I have to wonder sometimes... is it age, or is it just becoming more and more attuned to the body's signals? Or both? Or something else?
So I played last night out in Matituck, got about five hours sleep and now it's Saturday morning, I arrive at the studio at about 8:45am and I am totally ON FIRE. I have Coltrane's "Mr. P.C." whirring in me, and I can barely plug in my guitar - I just start playing and playing and it's just flowing like mad science. I put on the recording of "Mr. P.C." from The Paris Concert and play along - I'm locked on it like a laser.
An hour-plus whirls by, and then my first student arrives.
Student after student, and four hours later I can finally resume practicing again. A slightly different challenge: play along with a practice CD, following a iim7b5 - V altered cadence, eight measures in C minor (Dm7b5 - G7 alt.), eight measures in F minor (Gm7b5 - C7 alt.), etc. following the circle of fourths.
And I just can't seem to focus. Low blood sugar? Lack of fresh air? Mental exhaustion?
Whatever. Time for a break, to clean up, to write this, and then reality interrupts again: gotta leave to go shopping and on to home.
Yesterday's disappearing post revisited:
While Taylor takes his oboe lesson, I like to take my Steinberger guitar along and practice in the waiting room. So I was just beginning to tackle the G melodic minor scale played in block diatonic fourths. (The first chord reads G-C-F#-Bb-E-A, low to high, just so you can get your bearings.) These chords prove relatively easy to play, fingering-wise, but are a bitch for me to remember. And I get to the chord built on the third degree of the scale (Bb-E-A-D-G-C) and - blammo! - this bossa nova marches out, screaming "Follow me!" And of course I do, and in a matter of twenty minutes I have this progression with a wisp of melody that sounds like Jobim-meets-Glenn Lyons. Taylor's lesson ends and I borrow a pencil and scratch out the progression on the back of yet another project I've promised myself I'll tackle ("Diatonic Fourth Exercises for Saxophone" by Dan Gaynor). I even have a title for the song: "You Were Saying?" Then, a few hours later, I look at the chart again and - blammo! - the second verse appears: the same as the first but transposed a tritone! The good ones are like this. They just reveal themselves. Of course you still have to wash them off and comb their hair, but they simply arrive.
One of the challenges of learning is to focus on a goal: "I am going to work on the G melodic minor scale played in block diatonic fourths." Very often, five minutes into that work, we find ourselves elsewhere: "Oh, I need to change my strings. Oh, what's that hard part in 'My Cherie Amour?' Oh, have to remember to call so-and-so." Or a song comes along. Sometimes the song totally sucks. If it totally sucks, then it's just as much a bunch of distracting static as anything else. "You Were Saying?" may totally suck. I don't know yet - it will take some more washing and hair-combing to see. But another challenge of learning, while focising on a goal, is to engage the heart. If I cannot put my head, my hands, and my heart into it, it probably won't do much, or go far, or lead to much. So "You Were Saying?" was a piece of my heart, a little crush on a chord.
y'know, I just wrote a post - after what? two and a half years or something - and before I could put it up, it disappeared. Sunnuvabitch.
Yesterday I had a walloping 250 visits to this web site, mostly in a six-hour period, mostly to the Writing page, mostly for a minute. Folks came from all over the world - Singapore, Finland, Australia, Uzbekistan, Guatemala, the far-flung Isles of Langerhan - to view what? My resume? My writing credits? My links to the Korg web site? 'Tis indeed a mystery.
In other news, I tentatively completed my second ambient CD last night. It's a recording from 2005, minimally edited and mixed for public consumption. Working title: "The Crystal Window." I burned a test CD and began listening in the car while driving home from the studio - always a good test. Gotta do just a little more listening, especially with headphones, but so far it's rockin' my world. I'm mulling over other titles. I'm thinking about buying an Epson printer that'll print onto CDs cuz my experiments in decorating CDs proved a bit too sloppy and slow. Next step - design a cover. Probably a fractal, but with higher resolution than "Dress Rehersal."
This web site is hosted by Bandzoogle, and they do a great job of providing a user-friendly interface. One of the features they provide is a page that shows "site traffic." It tells me how many unique visits I get per day, how long the average visit lasts, how many downloads of audio take place per day and, most fascinating to me, where people are connecting from. Last month (July 2008), ferinstance, there were the usual connections from Long Island and other parts of the continental United States, but there were also a significant number of connections from London and the UK, Brazil, and Germany. In this first week of August I'm seeing folks fly in from Viet Nam, the Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Austria, and France.
So if you're webbing your way onto this page from some distant location - and most Webbers are visiting the Writing page, according to my Traffic Report - why dont you drop a comment in the little comment box below, next to the date of this post?
Life whirrs by too fast to spend time clacking away at a computer keyboard, rehashing whirred-by life. I prefer updating these here web pages, scrapbook-like. You want a piece of me? Then start left-clicking all over this site.
Back in the saddle with some live giggery. This past Saturday, June 30, it was with Johnny Volume at Port Jazz in Port Jefferson. This was as a sub for Skip Krevens, who is Johnny Volume's first-call guitar guy. My Number One Groupie, Miss Elk, was so devoted to my performance that she only took photos of me! However, the Fabulous Babe hanging with Mitchell Ames (Johnny Volume's front man and leader) got a shot of the two of us attaining some kind of expressive blues-rock moment here.
Here's a shot of drummer Hodge and I being overseen by the cartoon DJ...
Here's a nice sweaty shot towards the end of the set. I'm playing slide with my favorite chromed steel finger appendage: a Sears Craftsman 5/8" hex core deep socket wrench.
This gig was pretty much a template for the right way to do a bar gig. I got the CD of songs and songlist (including notes on background vocals and appropriate directions for certain songs: "cop horn line at intro," "add chorus effect on bridge to simulate Hammond," etc.) from Mitchell about three weeks in advance, got together once with Mitchell, got together once with the full band (including not-yet-shown-but-vital Phillip Gardner on bass), did my homework in between (practice with and without CD, prepare charts), alerted the local fan base, and BOOM! Now it's on to the next gig, and the next, and the next...
Lessee... I guess it was the weekend before last that the Mighty James Keepnews came to the Beach of Sound to visit and make all manner of atonal squawks with the Coyote. Great fun and lots of great playing all around, but the audio record of the event is flawed. We're just gonna hafta try again. Jim's photos prove it actually happened:
Coyote agow in the stew-dee-oh...
still further aglow...
Back at home with my favorite professional wrestler and Black belt candidate...
The Elk, smiling the smile that only Jim can bring...
The two loves of my life. Note naughty bunny ears...
Some brief updating in an otherwise hectic life:
Changes at GuitarOne have downsized my income a bit. Just annoying enough to make my life difficult. I MUST MUST MUST send out a blanket e-mail to let the community know I want to get active with the gigging thing again. Also thinking about other sources of income, which means maaking up and sending out resumes, demo CDs, etc. etc.
Finally saw Ethan perform with Rob Balducci at the Patchogue Theatre. A great performance all the way around, although Rob and the headlining band deserved a larger crowd. Those that were there were very supportive, though.
The last few weeks were dotted with trips to the hospital for tests and pictures of my naughty bladder, which developed an infection again. One more lovely cystoscopy next week, and hopefully I'll be done with that for a while.
Sold a few guitars on eBay, which generated just enough money to pay some debts and maybe help through the Christmas season.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, for which I have much to be thankful.
After the rainy, blustery weekend, Hallowe'en rose bright and warm. After school, Taylor and friend Kevin transformed into Darth Vader and pro wrestler Rey Mysterio in preparation for demand for treats from the helpless population of Sound Beach:
Accompanied by a Coyote and a certain Collie (dressed as TV star Lassie), Darth Kevin and Taylor Mysterio flee a particularly spooky haunted house:
A little later the sky erupted in an appropriate display of orange and black. Thanks to the relentless tugging of A Certain Collie, all I have as proof is this semi-abstract composition:
Now, three days later, a gallon-sized plastic bag remains full with Nestle Crunch Bars, Reese's Pieces, Snickers, Kit Kats, Tootsie Rolls, Hershey Take 5 bars (a personal favorite), M&M's, and countless other treats to rot the tooth, fatten the soft belly and acidify the stomach.
Last night at the studio I spent an hour-plus exploring the Digitech Expression Factory, a pedal the size of a wah-wah or volume with seven different tone/modulation effects (two wahs, one preset from Digitech's legendary Space Station, Whammy, Uni-Vibe, simulated Leslie, and A/DA Flanger) and seven different distortions (Jeez! I can't remember them all, but they include a TS-9, a ProCo Rat, an excellent Big Muff, a couple of Metal models, and more). Any of the seven tone/mod FX can be paired with any of the seven distortions and called up as a preset, or the seven tone/mod FX can be called up alone, sans distortions. It's also possible to set the tone/mod FX to neutral settings to hear the distortions alone. So much firepower demanded that I chart and list all kinds of stuff so that I can recall how to use the damn thing the next time I crack it out. Great fun to use.
Also at the studio, I dealt with the Never-Ending Headache of Replacing Tuners. The short form goes like this: Original tuners on Epiphone J-45 were big and clunky, so I installed vintage-style Grovers with butterbean keys. After a year or so with these, as I was changing strings on the J-45, one of the tuners began to slip repeatedly. Unacceptable. Rather than go through the rigmarole of complaining and getting a replacement, I decide to just order different tuners (Gotoh's near-identical design) and complain afterwards. So the Gotohs arrived yesterday (along with Lou Caronia's locking vintage-style tuners for his Les Paul after having them on back-order, waiting for a month and never hearing from Allparts, causing me to re-order them, but that's another story...). I begin to install the Gotohs, and AFTER I've installed two or three, discover that one of the keys is mismatched - it's a plain oval key, not a butterbean. So I take the Gotohs off, re-examine the broken Grover tuner, find it easily repairable, and put the Grovers BACK ON the J-45. So now I have three things to waste my time complaining about:
1) The crappy Grover tuners.
2) The mismatched Gotoh tuners.
3) The lack of followup on the back-ordered locking tuners.
If the locking tuners weren't for Lou, who is An Angel Who Makes Miracles Happen and A Nice Guy Besides With Patience to Match His Saintliness, and if the Grover and Gotoh tuners weren't for my own guitar, my repair business would have the Stink of Unreliability in the air.
Okay, enough bitching and moaning. Time to do the weekly floor-cleaning chores.
A visit from Michael and Christine Barber this past Saturday. They braved the tail end of a wicked rain storm with high winds to drive from warm Manhattan to the wilds of near-Eastern Long Island. They first took in a tour of the Coyote Music Studio, then headed further East to the Baldwin home in Sound Beach, then scurried still further East to see Wardenclyffe, the former laboratory of Nikola Tesla. "Who's Tesla?," you ask. Ever heard of a little thing called alternating current? Ever listen to a thing called radio? Ever turn on a flourescent light? Tesla invented more fundamental uses of electricity than little Tommy Edison could dream of in three lifetimes. You might start with Wikipedia's biography of Tesla . Then look at these photos Michael took of Wardencliffe in its current condition:
The large white industrial construction to the left is the remains of a film developing laboratory that took over the lab in the 1940s and remained active until the 1970s. They built quite a bit of tasteless white boxlike crap around the original building. They also used the pit Tesla dug (as part of his resonance tower designed to generate free electricity worldwide) to dump toxic chemicals. Here's another view of Tesla's lab:
...and the plaque honoring Tesla:
On a lighter note, we headed back from the lab to Brightwaters Dr. and had a delicious baked spinach ziti, salad, and apple/cranberry pie, all cooked by the amazing Elk herself. Michael and Douglas found themselves on the floor, talking music and making plans for the recording of tracks for D's next book, Play Mandolin Today!:
(Douglas is looking about ready for jusht one more glassh of that delishusss wine M&C brought.)
As promised, here are the Fabulous Babes:
That's Christine on the left and Deborah on the right. Behind them is the armoire that Deb's sister Gail painted for us.
I'm hoping to post some of Michael's music on this web site, but that won't happen today. It is now 10:40 am and I have two product reviews to complete for my employer. Of course this is webland, too, where 10:40 rapidly became 11:00 as yrs truly had to relearn how to post photos on his bloggish blogosity.
Ta ta for now!