Thursday, February 28, 2008

Feels Like Home...

I've been playing a weekly open mic here in Chicago on Wednesday nights since September. I started because I wanted to get more practice playing our songs in front of a real crowd of people. Since we record SO much, we don't get out to play live very often, which is OK because I LOVE the songs we get out of our studio time. But, playing live is yet another skill to be developed, practiced, and honed and I found that the few times we DO get out to play per year, I was WAY rusty in my skills - especially as a singer. So I figured the best way to work out the kinks was to get out to open mics and get experience and practice. Well, I was right, but...

...I found so much more out there. I found more than just a venue and an audience and a place to perform a few songs. I found a group of talented people so passionate about playing music that they come out week after week, stay up 'til after 2 on a school night, cheer each other on as we each get up and play and we all sound good, sometimes great, sometimes OK, and it's always OK whatever happens up there as long as it's fun. And it's always fun.

Tonight was the first night after our host Scott Besaw from Old Town School moved our regular Wednesday open mic from Cullen's to Bad Dog Tavern. Cullen's was just starting to feel like home, being there week after week and all. I was a little apprehensive about a new venue, but as soon as I walked in the door and saw all the familiar faces I realized that "home" was the people not the place. And the open mic was awesome as always!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Cost Of Studio Time

Stuff costs money. Studio time costs money. That's why we have our own studios in our homes. We spend a bit up front on hardware and software and get a LOT of use out of it without having to pay hourly studio rates. That is, unless you are trying to record bari sax past 11pm on a weeknight and your studio happens to be in a condo with neighbors. There's a four foot thick brick wall between my studio and my nearest neighbor, but bari sax is REALLY loud.

We're seriously under the gun trying to get our album done by Saturday. The project is going very well, but last night was our last chance to get saxes recorded on one song. I actually had to bribe my neighbor last night for an extra half hour of bari sax recording. In essence, I had to pay for time in my own studio. Argh.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Open Mic at Pint

Yesterday, I didn't think I'd end up playing the open mic at Pint, but once I got to my class last night and started playing my fatigue dropped away and I had to get out and play some more. So I actually DID make it to Pint last night.

Pint is a pretty neat place - comfy couches all around and a fireplace. The format is pretty different from Cullen's - The host, Brian, doesn't announce anyone - you just get up and announce yourself and play. You get 15 minutes to play and Brian hits "play" on an iPod when your time is up (NOT in the middle of a song, though). The open mic is in the back room and people from the front bar tend to wander in and out to check out who's playing.

Pint is definitely mellower than Cullen's (my usual Wednesday night open mic) and is sometimes really quiet. Since I hadn't played for most of the people who were there before (about 12) I did a bunch of my standard open mic songs - Under The Radar, I Don't Want To Work Today, Do You Mind?, and Two Twenty-Nine.

I'm undecided on my 2-song set for Cullen's tonight. I'm thinking of some anti-Valentine's day songs (read: break up songs). Maybe "Are You Happy Now?" by Richard Shindell and Two Twenty-Nine. We'll see...

Monday, February 11, 2008

It's That Time Of Year. Again.

Well, we're deep in the middle of recording for RPM Challenge 2008! If you haven't heard of RPM, it's a call for bands and musicians to create an album complete with artwork during the month of February. For you writers, it's like National Novel Writing Month. It's not a contest and no one is singled out as a "winner." You win by participating.

Last year at this time, for RPM Challenge 2007, we were in the middle of writing and recording the songs that would become our album All In A Day's Work. To kick off the effort, we held one writing session from which emerged I Don't Want To Work Today, Get In Line, The I.T. Department (Super Heroes of I.T.), and I Don't Work Here (I'm A Consultant). It was a crazy month - fully producing an album in less than 28 days (we started late). I was also dealing with reconstruction of my condo after a water pipe break, so I had to move Bad Cat Studio to a temp apartment. I also spent many hours at various Home Depots picking out paint colors and tile for said reconstruction, keeping me from my recording tasks. But that goes to show that with a little determination (plus caffeine and sleep deprivation), anything is achievable. I love All In A Day's Work - I think we picked a great theme (work and technology). It's full of great writing and recording memories plus wonderful and tiring late nights mixing and mastering, culminating in one night of just 2 hours sleep before getting up to mail the CD off to RPM Headquarters on March 1 and then go into work.

So here I am again, in the middle of RPM 2008, stocked up on Diet Code Red Mountain Dew and ready for some serious lost sleep. Less than a month from now, we'll have another new album and more great memories from the experience. At least this year we get an extra day...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What goes around...

I've just been practicing Bunsen Burner for an upcoming Wednesday night open mic at Cullen's in Chicago (I'm there nearly every Wednsday to play a couple of songs and hang out). I was just thinking how oddly the world works sometimes. After Dave (one of our trumpet players and also the "Dave" of Dave, Where Are you Dave? - oh yeah and He's A Cop Now) suggested we should write a tribute song to the Bunsen Burner, I wrote most of the lyrics from research I did at Wikipedia. So I finished the song mid-last year and we posted it in July. Then, what appeared in that same article at Wikipedia? A link to the song (and not added by me or anyone in the group, I think)! It's funny how things come full circle sometimes...

A New Feed

Hey folks!

Although some of you are quite happy to get a song every week, we know that others want to get songs every day, like last year. Well, we created an encore feed just for the people that want music all of the time.

Just follow these instructions to subscribe.

Beatnik Turtle's Encore Song of the Day Podcast

Want music every day? Use the encore feed to get it!

  1. Click on Enclosure Podcast RSS Image (You can right-click or option-click for a shortcut).

  2. Copy the URL in the address bar of your browser (or from your clipboard) and paste it into your podcasting application.

  3. Alternatively, click on iTunes Podcast RSS Image to open this podcast directly in iTunes.