Friday, April 28, 2017

Waking Life Afternoon

I had the pleasure of recording this week.
It had been a minute (or decade) since I had spent any quality time in a studio. 
The night and a few hours before I got to the studio I had been exploding out of my face. Puke. I was puking my guts out. And it took all of my being to get in the shower and clean myself up before leaving the house. Though I truly do not remember recording some of the songs and it felt like my stomach was collapsing on itself, I did enjoy tracking my bass parts, watching the engineer set up the microphones on the drum kit and the like.
The engineer is great and I enjoy watching audio folks work who really know their room and gear. Ooh, I got to use an amp that sounds really good that I would never buy. And quite possibly the coolest- we recorded on tape!

The second day I was able to eat some saltines and an apple and record vocals. MY FAVORITE! I could record vocals all day. I have weird rituals I do before each song when I am standing alone in the iso booth. I shake my hands wildly and over accentuate my mouth with kissy face before taking my breaths to sing. Sometimes I "hand-jive." If you don't know what that is watch the movie Grease, they hand-jive during the dance scenes.
I put my hair in a side pony tail and stuff like that. 
Also, I really like to double my vocal. I like the sound of natural chorus and I think it make my voice sound better. The engineer agreed, so obviously he is brilliant, and so I was able to double all my parts. Usually I can nail them within a couple of go rounds. So even though I still felt like ass and all the time away from the studio, I still could do the things I used to do.
The tracks sound good and in a few months we will be able to mix. Mixing is fun, but in a different way. The performing part is much more physical and emotionally draining (I mean you don't want to do 50 takes of a song). The mixing portion is more cerebral and since there are 4 of us, probably more debating with a chance of an argument. With the time gap before the mixing happens there will probably be lots and lots of notes.



Friday, April 14, 2017

Louie Louie (Explicit Version)

Since my daughter was born, I have been doing my best not to curse and not just in front of her, but in general. And if I may be completely honest I really enjoy it. Cursing. My husband has said that I use cursing as a way to express myself. It is my poetry at times.

Now I have replaced some of my favorite curse words with "pickles," "dang it," "holy cow," jeeez Louise," and so forth and I feel pretty good about it. So with my alternative vocab to curse words I started thinking about how some of my favorites were inappropriate and extremely derogatory. Now I know what you are thinking- they are curse words. WTF?

I read an article recently about the use of non-gender specific pronouns and it got me thinking about the way I gender some of my cursing.
I know it may seem silly, but one can stay within the potty mouth rhetoric and not use slang for female genitalia. Does mother have to be in front of the f-word? Is there something else that will get the point across?
Anatomy parts, specifically below the belt seem cliche' and though I experience plenty of a-holes on a daily basis, I think there can be other words to use.

I have been experimenting with curse words and expressions here are some I have used.

A friend likes to call people sh*t necks. Not too bad.
At work the other day something crazy happened and I used the term sh*t bananas.
On BART the other day I heard someone say that something was pure stink.

So there are options.



Friday, March 24, 2017

People came from miles around, everyone was there Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air...

Y'know when you have so much you could write about that you write about nothing?
That is kind of where I am at these days.

Things seem so much more complicated then it did just last year.

Sometimes I feel like an Elvis Costello song, "what's so funny about peace, love, and understanding?"

I could comment on Trumpcare, dismantling of government agencies, DeVos, wiretaps, White House leaks, Wikileaks, poor people buying iPhones, and the list could go on and on, but instead I want to examine pedals.

For most of my bass playing life, I have not really been into pedals. Yes, on occasion I have played a distortion pedal. I also for a very short time played with an octave pedal, and yes, yes, I do like how my bass sounds playing with a bit of chorus on it. My main problem is that I don't want to deal with them when I play live. No muss, no fuss.
Aaand I don't want to appear to be hiding behind pedals.

There are many guitar players who I like that use effects to create soundscapes and some who treat them as another instrument within their instrument.
Since  I worry about effects for effects sake. I have been listening to some bassist who use different effects to see if there is something I am interested  to explore. My list offers players who I have been listening to for years and are some of my favorites-
Les Claypool
Tony Levin
Jaco (OF COURSE)
Kim Deal
Paul Barker
and my new obsession- Esperanza Spalding.

But then there is my favorite bass player Mike Watt who said this from Bassplayer.com April 2013.

Though Watt used a few stompboxes on The Secondman’s Middle Stand, he’s wary of effect pedals. 

“I feel the debt the bass owes the band, and pedals fuck with that low end."





 With that being said, there are a few songs that I will be recording next month that maybe could be spruced up with some effects.






Friday, January 13, 2017

Fast Food for Thought

On December 29, 2016 I saw Henry Rollins speak at the Herbst Theater. I have been a fan for many years and have had the pleasure of seeing him perform many times. His spoken word has not always been a home run for me, but this night was probably the best talk I have ever heard him give.
There was no way he was going to avoid talking about the election. Last year  he predicted in his LA Weekly column that there would be a Trump presidency. You can read it here.

http://www.laweekly.com/music/henry-rollins-bend-over-america-here-comes-president-trump-5841096

So I knew he would be talking about it. And he did. His perspective was interesting and I have been mulling it over for a few weeks now and I am still, I don't think inspired is the word, hmmm... Motivated.
A couple of things that have stuck with me.
It is time to act. When things are going "okay," people fall asleep and now is the time to get up and stand up for what you believe in.
Donate, protest, support in any way that you can.
He talked about being 55 1/2 years old and even though he is getting older he can still clear the path so the younger and faster can push on ahead to create change.
Art is important and expression in this form will be vital for dealing with the next 4 years.
Don't be passive, if you see someone being marginalized or bullied, don't just stand by and do nothing.
Stay awake and be prepared to take many, many steps in the opposite direction.
Take the rest of 2016 to relax, get your breath and be ready for action January 1, 2017.
Henry Rollins is intense and at 55 1/2 he can make fun of it. He has matured and so have I. Now I am not quite as far along as Hank, but I close enough to relate.
I am ready to take action. Here are some good websites if you need inspiration.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5855a354cd0f68bab2089b40/t/5867cd26be65940ffdeeac1e/1483197741124/IndivisibleGuide_2016-12-31_v1.pdf

https://proactivesteps.info/

https://www.beforeitgetsworse.com



January 21st, I will be wearing comfortable shoes to march.




Wednesday, December 7, 2016

And clenching your fist for the ones like us who are oppressed by the figures of beauty. You fixed yourself, you said, “Well never mind, We are ugly, but we have the music.”

Pickles.
Another post reflecting on the loss of life.
Last weekend a fire broke out at an Oakland art collective called Ghost Ship. Over 30 people lost their lives and the building was completely destroyed.
It is a horrible tragedy that has taken me a few days to get my head around.
There has been much chatter on the interwebs about the building not being safe, the manager being a slime, and the number of illegal occupants.
First, can the family and friends of the people lost grieve?
With the immediacy and availability of media it seems like though news travels fast (and fake news even faster) that there is little to no pause in any information. I did not know any of the people personally who lost their lives, but I know and have known plenty of people who have and had occupied spaces like Ghost Ship. I mean, I was in SF in the 1990s.

I heard a conversation on BART between two people that truly had no idea what they were talking about in regards to the tragic fire.
One quipped that art space collective occupants should pay an extra fee (like a HOA), so that they can ensure that all codes are up to snuff. What?!? This guy had obviously never bought groceries from Safeway using only nickels. The other person wondered why anyone would want to live in such a big building with so many people. "The noise alone!"  (Erica plants her palm to forehead)
Had they been even slightly LESS clueless, I might have interjected, but I saved my energy for another time.

Once people have had a chance to grieve what kind of "solutions" will be proposed?
I am already reading about businesses close to spaces like Ghost Ship complaining and making the claim they are not safe- a popular term I have seen a couple of times is "crackdown."  Great. I am pretty confident that the artists will not benefit.
There is an alleged art grant specifically for Oakland artists that is supposed to help in securing spaces and keeping the creative scene vibrant. We will see. The press conference was canceled that was going address the grant. So stay tuned.

Art is the what makes life interesting.

And in the current climate of the world we need art more than ever.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Don't you know me Kansas City?

It has only been two weeks since the election? Holy tomatoes! I thought it was like a month ago.
I have read crap on social media, traditional news outlets, blogs, had many conversations in person and online, and watched political satire television on the subject. My head hurts.
Am I surprised? Not at all.
Did I think that the next president was going to be a woman?
I wanted the next president to be a woman.

Speaking to a colleague about the election, I wanted her perspective on the whole thing.
She is African-American and part of the LGBTIQA community and I super respect her opinion on just about everything, so I felt comfortable asking her thoughts on the election.
This is the brief summary of the conversation.
Wear a safety pin, a Black Lives Matter teeshirt, donate to the ACLU, protest, create a support group or whatever. Just stand by what you are doing/wearing.
Be okay with yourself.
 Racism (and all the rest of it) didn't magically reappear after an 8 year absence. Yes, it is horrifying to read the news, but it has been here all along. Hateful people are lashing out at those they think oppress them. And because Trump was elected they think that shit will be okay.

It is not okay. That is why I can't subscribe to the "let's see how this all plays out," attitude.


 Here is a website that a friend has put together-
https://www.beforeitgetsworse.com/

There are some really helpful resources and great links to all kinds of ways one can take action.

There are many ways to protest. As a responsible parent I have to protest, but as a responsible parent I am not going to follow protesters onto the freeway.

I want to support my community and if you do to, I am sure there are organizations in your own backyard that could use some help.
Can't donate much time?
Money is always good.
If you are not sure how the money is spent. Call the organization.
Want to check on the politicians who represent your district, city, state, and the like? Call them. Email them.
I called Barbara Lee, my representative for my district and left a message with her office. I got an email back that she was part of a coalition of representatives who were putting pressure on pres-elect to not have Bannon as his strategist.
I called some publishers who have titles that focus on bullying and asked them to send free copies to Oakland Unified School District.
I am putting together a list of local resources for the students I serve, who are afraid for their safety.
After this post I will probably donate some money to Planned Parenthood.

Being heard is important. Nothing is going to happen overnight, and I cannot sit by waiting for someone else to make noise.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Memphis Skyline

Pretty much all of my 2016 posts have been about death and  loss and I will be starting this one with the same subject.

A friend of mine was killed in a hit and run a month ago. Helping her spouse was my main concern and I honestly can say that I did not really cry about the loss of my friend for about a week or so after it happened.
In the age of texting, I have grown accustomed to sending a quick message to a friend about something random and it seems that I have wanted to do that about 20 times since she died.
I have been writing them down in my journal. I guess it is part of my healing process.
This terrible tragedy has banded the tribe together. I check in with them a lot more than I did 4 weeks ago. I don't think there would be a dispute that I am the planner of the group, but even with that unofficial title I have got caught up in my own stuff and not been as active of a participant in my friendships.
Not to sound cheesy, but life is too short.

It is strange to me that a death has given me a new lease on life. Though I don't think of myself as a person who is uneasy trying new things, or a "uhhh, I can't do this."
This does not mean that I am going to jump out of an airplane or get a some kind of botox done, it means that I am going to seek out opportunity and not fall into the daily ruts.

I love my friends, I am going to make plans to see them more often.
Don't think that I can submit an article for possible publication, because I don't have time, or it won't get published anyway. Bollocks. I can put something together.
I want my daughter to try roller skating. BAM! She has an interest in something. As long as it is not totally unfeasible, I say let's give it a go.

I had a conversation with someone awhile ago that said to me that keeping up friendships was too much work. She was too old to bother with all the egos, opinions, and personalities. Thinking back on this conversation I have to chuckle a bit. Isn't that what it is all about? I love that some of my friends are needy, picky, flaky, and really I could go on and on and on and on, because that is what makes them who they are...
Can it be annoying? Absolutely. But who cares?!? As I said before, life is too short and as long as they want to hang out with me then it is all good.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I love my friends and I am really going to miss my friend who died.