Archive for April, 2010

cddb insinuates something…

…I’m told, via email:

Okay I finally got around to opening Sketchy Characters today, because I’m such a slacker with new music and ANYWAY I laughed so hard when my earnest CD-ripping software identified the CD as R. Kelly’s single “Fiesta.” Outbirds is apparently a remixed version with Jay-Z. You’re so connected to the rap scene! Hee hee hee.


BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! ^_^ I’m pretty sure I’m not actually trapped in the closet, but I have made fun of Scientology in front of John Travolta, so maybe that’s the connection.

And I hear from the sound of the lawyers outside that it’s time for a FREE PERSONALITY TEST! Better go! By the way – send help?


It’s official: I’ll be playing Centennial Park Amphitheatre in Redmond, Oregon on July 12th; a solo show, two sets starting at 1pm. It’s a new venue – they’re not even done building it yet! – so there aren’t pictures. This is where it’s going to be, though!

I’m all excited! I’ve never played this far south before and certainly never driven this far for a gig. It’s going to be an ADVENTURE! And scary. But awesome.

I would like to book another gig earlier that weekend in either Portland or Eugene, preferably Eugene. I’ve got crash space offers both places (thank you thank you thank you Andra and thank you thank you thank you Fred!) and if I’ve got one show I should surely have two, right? In an ideal world, I’d drive down to Eugene, do a show there, sleep, drive to Redmond, do the main show there, poke around at obsidian beaches that dragons left behind, then go up to Portland, sleep, do a smallish show there, and drive home after. Is that insane?

And btw, anybody got any connections at venues? ^_^

Oregon gig offer

I have an offer of a gig, in central Oregon, north of Bend, in a little town called Redmond. (Short story: I mailed the wrong Redmond, we figured it out, they listened to my stuff and are offering anyway.) It would be kind of awesome to take it, because it’d be the furthest away I’ve played other than Boston. But it’s nearly seven hours away by car, I don’t have lodging, and a hotel would be out of the question just because there’s no possible way to come even close to breaking even if I do that.

I didn’t expect to be facing this kind of dilemma this summer. Suggestions?

better than new

I found something!


After some work (including a new coil for the horn tweeter, $26), it’s better than new! Howcome?

Now with extra fusing!
The left fuse is for the entire speaker, the right fuse is just for the horn tweeter.

The loudspeaker is designed to be used as either a monitor (for large environments) or mains speaker (for smaller environments, and my use) and has a tripod mount point and everything. It’s also fuzzy! But not very, about which I have mixed feelings. One of the internal components had a manufacturing date of April 1990, which makes it almost exactly 20 years old. I love what the large main does for vocals. I mean damn. And the low end is super crisp.

I got really lucky stumbling across this in a pawn – it was really cheap because it looked ‘way worse off than it actually was, but they let me poke at it and it came up fixable! Yay!

mmmmm tasty success

I found a pawn shop speaker, a Crate UFM-15H. The horn tweeter wasn’t working but the rest sounded good, and $26 for a new coil later it’s all happy. I’m modding the crossover board to add fuses to prevent that kind of shit but I need another drill bit to surface mount the cartridges. (Fuses you can only change by opening the case are fuses that end your gig.) Tomorrow I will buy this.

strolling off with

So I found this Samson S63 while out pawn-shop trolling and decided, “yeah, I could stroll off with you” and did. It’s a six-channel power amp with onboard mixer and EQ (three-knob per channel and 10-band graphic for overall), 10 years old, in good working order. It’s missing a knob, but that’s what guitar picks are for. It also has a reverb effects box onboard that you can cut in on a per-channel basis. (It’s variable per channel, which is a neat trick. Voice smoothing much? Oh, much.) It also has separate monitor mixing and monitor outs, tho’ they aren’t amplified. Those’ll be handy later.

I wish it had a headphone pre-amp and I still need a loudspeaker, but it’s a start.

I have a second, separate problem

I need some sort of small, reasonably-portable sound solution for vocal amplification for my solo gigs. And maybe a mixer amp would be nice, so I could amp my zouk and mandolin as well. (They’re both much louder than my voice. Also I will need a reasonably rugged vocal mic for outdoor use. SM58, I presume?)

I’ve been poking around at pawn shop listings going, “um… this looks nice?” but honestly I have no idea. I found this Peavey for pretty cheap (assuming it works) but of course there’s no speaker there, and for all I know it could be total overkill or totally inadequate. And I have no idea about what to look for in speakers.

I need some solution I can run myself, and really, I’d prefer an all-in-one amp+speaker+mixer solution, but I have no idea whether that even exists. (And the Peavy amp being separate, I could point it at me and make adjustments on its front panel in ways that seem reasonable.)

So, um, hints, clues, and so on, appreciated. I know what kind of things I’d want for a full-band gig, but this is a totally different animal. What do I actually want?

I have a problem and I need advice

So I’ve been working on this CD, and I’ve been mastering against a couple of sets of really pretty decent studio headphones. And that’s all lovely and good. But lately I’ve been also playing things on this old Pioneer amp I picked up… somewhere… a long time ago… and a couple of halfway-decent cheap speakers, and all the levelling and such sounds totally different and not so awesome.

Obviously I shouldn’t level to the 35-year-old transistor Pioneer amp. But given that: against what should I be working? I can’t afford good studio monitors and amp; that’d be awesome and HAHAHAHAHAHA <cries>


…what do I do here?


New booking!

Just got off the phone with Everett Market, who have booked me for their 4th of July slot, 1-3pm at Everett Marina on, well, the 4th of July! Woooooooo holiday show! They have a stage tent and audience seating; I played there some as a fill-in performer last year and they wanted me back for reals. Best of all, it’s an early afternoon date so I can still watch fireworks later. I love fireworks. ^_^

You been holdin' out on me?

j0, all you engineers and producers – you been holdin’ out on me. How come never any of you felt it appropriate to explain to me exactly how goddamn useful automation is? Huh? ‘Cause damn.

And Ardour’s automation tools are both effective and easy to use! It’s freakishly unlike Ardour to be this way, so I’m appreciative. Even if it did assplode my machine today for a while, about which I will now rant.

Because srsly, it was like some sort of goddamn movieOS crash. Windows popping up everywhere scrolling errors at machine rate? Persisting across reboots and hardware resets?That was neat. I figured either something very obscure but trivial had happened and I’d lose a few hours to figuring it out, or I’d just lost weeks of work, ’cause I couldn’t even get Ardour stable enough to export individual tracks – no audio sources or sinks would stay online. I mean nothing worked.

So I started googling and eventually I found a French webaite talking avout something similar in another JackAudio-enabled app environment and ended up reading up on PulseAudio, which Ubuntu Studio won’t let you not install and which plays very badly with JackAudio. So I spent a few hours in the guts of the install making it not launch PulseAudio. (You can’t just uninstall it. APT also tries to uninstall the desktop manager as a dependancy. NOT FUNNY!)

And that’s something I’d been wanting to do eventually, because it’s been problematic for me and causing performance problems, but I had it reasonably working some months ago – they’re supposed to work together – and left it alone after that while I tried to get actual work done. But I guess the Time had Come, so I read up on how to force Ubuntu Studio not to launch pulseaudio (nontrivial) and hid all its utilities (srsly it launches this shit like five different places) and reconfigured Jack and, as I put on moo:

You say, “realtime kernel active… pulseaudio confirmed nonstarting… JackAudio running…”
You say, “outputs ACTIVATED”
You say, “automation engaging… engaged!”
You say, “running… FUCK.”
You say, “wait I think I see it”
You say, “fuck. restarting”
You say, “godDAMMIT that was behaving SO much better.”
Anna aw
You say, “it _is_ behaving better tho – enough to show me something…”
You say, “I think I have a corrupt automation event… <deletes> <restarts>”
You say, “…and outputs up… ”
You say, “…dsp at 29% and stable…”
You say, “about to start automation…”
You say, “automation running…”
You say, “so far so good…”
You say, “Jack and ALSA reporting no errors yet…”
You say, “approaching fail point… still running!”
You say, “past crash point…”
You say, “end of song!”
Solarbird collapses. “Automation shutdown orderly, transport stop normal, JACK and ALSA report all is well. It’s fixed. That was scary and unpleasant! But at least repairable.”

An hour and a half actually working on stuff, three-odd hours of fixing the world, really, that’s about what I expect. I go back and forth on all this – I mean, in the middle of All That, if somebody had squawked “OPEN SOURCE IS THE FUTURE!” at me I’d have punched them right in the face. But once it’s working again, well, at least I have tools.

Even if they explode sometimes at random, like people on LOST.

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