Archive for the ‘shows’ Category

finally getting ahead of this learning curve


Hey, it’s Cyber Monday! I’ve got second-CD-shipping set to free, globally, on the band sales site, and second CDs are 20% off on CD Baby! Supervillain music: not only does it make a great present, but the locator chip in the jewel case tells us where not to aim the heat ray! GIVE THE GIFT OF NOT BEING SET ON FIRE! 😀

And now that’s out of the way…

I think I’m finally getting ahead of this learning curve.

I’m gonna put a couple of live videos on youtube, from the last stop on this past tour. I’m not sure what songs yet, I’m still narrowing that down. (Got any requests? Let me know.)

The deciding factor for what goes up will be video quality. It’s not how good the sound is, how good my mic discipline was, or even the performances, because really, that’s all just fine. It’s the video part.

And that’s new, and awesome. It’s taken a lot of work for all the many-more-things-than-you-know that go into a live amped and recorded show to come together this way. A year ago, I’d maybe get one live recording from a show that I’d’ve been okay to have public. “Something’s Coming,” on Dick Tracy Must Die, was recorded live at the Lyon’s Den, for example.

But most of them would’ve had one problem or another. Pops in the microphone. Some stupid fade. The minidisc player failing. Bad levels. The sound guy feeding my recorder the reverb effects return by accident, so all I had was reverb and not the actual music*.

Or voice problems! Singing isn’t my core talent, and I am leagues ahead of where I started, and ahead of last year. Getting good vocals was the hardest performance part of the studio album, by far; it took dozens of takes. Now, lately, I can pop off that level of performance without even thinking about it**.

Things like that. Live recording is hard work. So many things can and do go wrong.

But this year, this tour, and particularly, this last show, the first one where I have complete video? There’s also not a goddamn thing on this latest recording I wouldn’t play for somebody. Hell – I sing along.

Sure, there are flaws. It’s not perfect, there are always things I’d like to do better, particularly in vocals. And I need to patch together some way of getting genuinely separate vocal and instrument recordings, so I can do better equalisation and have better post-show mixes.

But this tour really was a level-up experience. Between the Spooky Action show, the guest spot with Leannan Sidhe that got me my own separate two-song encore***, the set I’m least happy with – the Sidhehaven show – being called “wonderful” on Facebook, and this?

I’m starting to think I might just be gettin’ the hang of this thing. I really do.

I like that. I like it a lot.

Stick around, why don’t you? This trip’s starting to get interesting.

**: I’ve got something I want to release for you guys SO MUCH but I’m still waiting for permission. SO. MUCH. First take, one take, true live recording (no separate vocals/instrument recording), BOOM and done. But it’s a cover, so release must wait.
***: and thanks so much again to them for putting up with that! <3 XD

that was totally awesome

First house tour is a wrap! Friday night I played my last show of this first set, out on Bainbridge Island, at Ann Lovejoy’s house, arranged by her son, Peter, and hosted by both.

And their cat

Every show this tour has been a great time and every one has had its own separate highlight – guesting with Leannan Sidhe and drawing a two-show encore, being all creepy and shit at Spooky Action at a Distance, enjoying the hospitality of the first official House Concert qua House Concert at Sidhehaven.

Bainbridge Island, tho’ – this one got a public review. Check this shit out:

Last night, Solarbird came over and did a House Concert out here, and totally rocked the house. And I mean rocked. It took me a long time to come down enough to drift off to sleep, with Stars still running through my head, and I’m still bouncing from it this morning… this was kind of in the same ballpark as having Lemmy or someone show up and do a set in the living room. It was awesome.

That kind of explodes my brain – with AWESOME! 😀 Thank you again, Peter and Ann, and I’m so happy that I did not disappoint. And thanks again to everybody, really; this was all new to me and I thank all of you for taking a chance on this.

I’m still in a bit of a daze, putting things back together and looking over video and inventorying what worked and what didn’t, working on my repair/new equipment checklist and and and that’s not important, I want to do this again! Now! Or in February, which seems reasonably possible. Anybody willing to host and invite people? Pleeeeease?

I’ve also been told that I should do conventions – anybody have an in, anywhere? Let me on a stage, I’ll play it. 😀

I’ll probably be too busy to post on Wednesday because of Second Thanksgiving. But maybe not, we’ll see. I still haven’t had time to pull the audio off the recorder yet, even! And next week is allll shopping and cooking. But here:

[poll id=”20″]

Finally, have some photos:

Bye, Seattle!

I love ferries <3

Hi, Winslow

Hi, Boats!

Have a good week!

ferry ferry quite contrary

Today is the last stop on my autumn house tour, at 8959 Battle Point Drive NE, Bainbridge Island – a ferry trip! If I have to wait for a second ferry – as the transportation website indicates is likely – then it’d actually be faster to drive all the way around through Tacoma.

That seems… unlikely. But I’m not going to risk it. I’m going to leave stupidly early and probably not even have to wait a ferry and end up out on the island REALLY early. If you’re seeing this before, like, 1pm Cascadian time – where’s a good place to kill time on Bainbridge Island? Anything near the terminal?

I’m already planning out a February tour! Anybody willing to host? Please contact me! I really do want to do this, I handle all the tech side so you don’t have to worry about any of that, and it’s fun. 😀

mostly with the experiments

First: SHOW! FRIDAY! 8959 Battle Point Drive NE, Bainbridge Island, WA. Doors 6pm, show 7pm, $7 suggested donation, but if you can’t afford that, come anyway.

I’m starting to think I’ve got all I’m going to get out of the Cracksman Betty project. I’ve got one more song already recorded that I’d like to add, and maybe one bonus track, but I think it’s about done.

I have a few specific plans (Touring! The next studio album! nwcMUSIC 2012!) that’ll get underway for sure, but I want to wedge in at least one more thing on top of those, because I’m insane. Got any ideas?

[poll id=”19″]

Also, Sherry from Sidhehaven took a photo during the show, and said I could post it! Thanks!

photo courtesy Sherry Kirk

Several experiments from the Sidhehaven show worked to varying degrees. Yay! The camera, even with all the space left in the world, didn’t even come close to running out of battery or space on the card! But it shuts video off at around the 38m mark anyway. Note “around the.” The exact time is different each time, and has nothing obvious to do with space left. I don’t know why.

Sadly, the camera’s onboard mic is lame. But I had my good quality recorder hooked up! Yay! But it was through the monitor speaker, which, turns out, has kind of a crappy pre-amp, and the sound quality is kind of not good. Boo! So I have a post-tour goal: build a proper interface so I can use both monitor and recorder at the same time, without losing quality.

Also I need to rebuild that monitor’s preamp. It really does kind of blow.

Hm, sounds like the cats have turned on Radio Two again downstairs. THANKS CATS. Better go fix that before Anna wakes up. See you Friday, I hope!

i love touring

Hey, minions! Back up in the Lair for a couple of days before heading back out again. Thank you again, Sidhehaven, for having me in for a show, letting me crash in your yome, and for showing me such kind hospitality!

Anybody willing to host a house concert in February? I’m loving the house concert tour thing, I want to do more of it, and I already have one offer on the table in North Seattle. Please, let me know!

You Think You’re So Clever With Your Lens Flares, Abrams!

Sherry said I really should do a web single of the song I premiered at Sidhehaven. I’m going to work on that after the current tour and see what happens. I hesitate in part because I tend to revise songs a lot as I perform them out, and they improve for that, and this one’s new.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t do a version now and then a revised version for the next album. If I can get somewhere I like with it, I’ll likely do that.

Sidhehaven Gremlin says Hi

At home, now, I’m mostly replenishing supplies and the like – repairing a cable, dumping recordings to hard drives, things like that. K’ Wiley gave me some advice a few weeks ago about making up lyrics stickers, and wow, people reallllllllly like those! I’m out of several and have already printed up more for the Bainbridge Island show on Friday:

You get a MINION sticker if you bring a friend. 😀 Or if you help out with the merch table (thanks, Annie!) or something like that. I want to make buttons but nobody seems to have a button maker I can borrow!

That’s it for now. Come to the show on Friday, and don’t forget the new fan mailing list download. This isn’t going up on Bandcamp or Cracksman Betty or anything. So if you’re on the list and didn’t get a download code, tell me! I’ll fix it. 😀

haven of the sidhe

Hi from south of the Salish Sea, south of the Sound! I am safely ensconced in, as the kids used to say, “da house,” and on their LANd (ar ar ar) and have met many people! Many more than I can remember names right now. I’m working on that. I only made one wrong turn and that was Google Maps’s fault. (“Third left,” no. Fourth left, yes.)

Sidhehaven is even artier than I think I expected, and also much! larger! than I thought. It reminds me a bit of the original Murkworks, my old group housing, back in Ye Daye, including a cat who looks kind of like Ellen’s cat of the time, Sarah. But they’re far more organised. Sarah Doppelganger Kitty is very friendly and once in a while unexpectedly pointy, loving you with noms. I like him. But I do not nom his hed.

Tomorrow there will be biscuits and gravy! Vegetarian style. I haven’t had biscuits and gravy in a very long time and am looking forward to it. 😀 And then there will be setting up for show and rehearsal and then we figure out all the shit I forgot XD SHOW! Doors are officially 6pm, but really, it’s flexible, and show starts at 7.

I should probably have some sleeps. Or at least should probably head in that direction. Maybe I will see some of you tomorrow! Say hi, if I do!

I have a present for the fan mailing list

If you’re on the fan mailing list, you have a present waiting for you. It’s from last Friday’s show with Leannan Sidhe. Several people have already downloaded it since I put it up a little while ago. If you haven’t, go check your inboxes. A URL awaits! 😀

If you aren’t on the fan email list, you can’t download the present! NO LINK FOR YOU! And it won’t be put on Bandcamp. But you can still sign up – and if you do, you’ll get a link! A tasty, tasty link. With smarties!

Leannan Sidhe Sound Check, last Friday. Also enjoy videos.

I should’ve tried to record the Spooky Action show, but I didn’t. The lighting wasn’t anything my camera’s video function could handle, and also, I was lazy! But I did get a couple of nice cellphone pictures of the fire. The 3GS’s camera is a lot better than the old first-generation camera, f’srs:

Fire and Sparklies

Next show, third of four on this mini-tour*: FRIDAY! At Sidhehaven! (evite, Facebook.) I’ve got an idea for Dark and Light sets and I’m going to try them out here. Come! Bring a friend! It’ll be awesome.

Also, I REALLY WANT TO MAKE SOME BUTTONS and bring them to the show! Does anybody have a button maker I can borrow, like, today?

*: Weird trufact: I was very, very briefly in a band called Minotaur. I can’t type “Minitour” without seeing them instead. And no, Minotaur never had a minitour. It almost had an EP, tho’…

one hell of a start

So, wow. The first two stops in my first House Concert Tour are over – the guest appearance with Leannan Sidhe on Friday, and the Spooky Action at a Distance party and show on Saturday. Thank you so much, Fern and Corvi and Juli, for throwing these events and letting me be involved! I had a great time, and I hope everybody else did too!

The new Transformation Sequence edition of “My Boyfriend” worked about as well as I’d hoped. I came up with one more component literally on the way to the show, and added it without rehearsal, and it worked great. I do need to fix the headdress, tho’ – adhesive-attachment worked fine in rehearsal, but not on stage, so I’ll have to do that the right way for next time.

And! I got called up for an unplanned! encore! at someone! else’s! show! I still can’t believe that happened! The audience was all “YEAH!” and I was all “lol sure!” and then was like, “wait, seriously?” And I ended up going back up and doing two more of my own songs. Thanks so much to Leannan Sidhe for putting up with that 😀 because that’s not an experience you get to have very often!

I’m still all O.O over that one.

I am also told that I need to come up with a way to do Dalek Boy – “Danny Boy,” as sung by a Dalek, a Cyberman, and a Mechanoid, a.k.a. the Bacon for Birds people and myself – live, and also, I am told I need to write a song about Munchkin.

Then Saturday! and SPOOKY ACTION! The party got going a little late, which was actually kind of good since it let me get in a little nap after the drive down, and a little warmup before people arrived. Incidentally? Corvi and Juli put on quite the spread of hospitality out on their little farm, I gotta tell you. I think my favourite were the chocolate covered pomegranate seed clusters, because they weren’t dehydrated in any way, so it was chocolate and pom and juicy. So simple yet so good.

But then people started arriving, and everybody played with flash paper and sparkle chemicals around the bonfire, and after a few visits from the Bad Idea Bears I realised I had to do an impromptu rendition of Paul and Storm’s Ten Finger Johnny. I think we managed all the really bad ideas except for flash paper hats, but somehow, everybody still had all their fingers at showtime! And only a couple of blisters.

Bad Idea Bears

Then, showtime! Around 12:30am. Hey, only four and a half hours later than planned, and we get one of those back thanks to the return of Normal Time! I had lots of fun doing the spooooky creeeepy set, complete with candlelight and growls in the dark. That’s fun. <3 But I wasn’t going to send them off into the night that way, so closed on “Stars,” which is an even lighter song performed without all the bass solos and drums and such – the mandolin alone can carry that song, because when I’m doing it solo, I really just tear loose with the mandolin work and am basically playing chords and simultaneously soloing the whole damn time, only ducking the complexity down for lyrics.


Were you at either show and made your way here? Tell me what you thought! This tour is my first set of house concerts, so it’s all new and exciting! And I’m making it up as I go along and having one hell of a good time so far. Best of all, I get another go on Friday! Yay! o/

So I’m really looking forward to this Friday at Sidhehaven. Please come out for it! And if you can’t, there’s the Bainbridge Island show on the 18th.

And while we’re at it – how was your weekend?

This should be fun

If you’re reading this on Friday, listen up: I’m playing tonight, providing some instrumental backup for Leannan Sidhe, at a house concert at 13309 23rd Ave. NE in Seattle. RSVP info here.

It’s mostly their show, of course, but Leannan Sidhe’s lead singer has also asked me to perform one of mine: My Boyfriend, which is my political Sailor Moon song about writing out queer characters in US translation. (If you don’t know the story, listen to it before the song.) This is pretty much the opposite of her and her music – so really, I’m there to throw her into sharp relief. XD

But the request got me thinking, “Y’know, this song is missing something, live.” Of course, what it’s missing is a drum kit. But aside from that, I realised that I think it’s also missing a really terrible costume change mid-show.

I have taken possibly disturbing steps to rectify this situation.

Then tomorrow, all the way down in the wilds north of Olympia, in the South Sound, I have Spooky Action at a Distance, where I’m contributing a set and Juli will be doing a short reading and hopefully some glasswork and maybe some other things! All of which I hope happen. It’s been a while since I’ve done anything Seriously Arty. One way or another, THERE WILL BE ART!

Oh, the latest Trad o’ th’ Month, Red is the Rose (with Leannan Sidhe) is, like the rest of the Cracksman Betty project, a free/pay-what-you-want download.

I’ve had a couple of people say they feel bad about downloading without hitting the tip jar, so don’t download free things. Really, if I minded, I’d put a price on it. This is what Cracksman Betty is for, along with experimentation and learning. Put another way: I need ears more than I need a dollar. NOT THAT BOTH WOULDN’T BE GOOD. But if I want your money that much? Don’t worry. I’ll steal it from you. XD

wow this got long

It’s Friday! Friday very early in the morning, Cascadia time – really still Thursday night, socially, you know how that goes.

I have something I can’t talk about yet! But I can talk about November 5th. Doesn’t November 5th sound nice? I think it sounds nice. Maybe nice for a trip down to the south sound. Just, you know, for fun. That evening.

This should not be confused with the House Concert at Sidhehaven, which is on November 11th, and further south! Please RSVP there or here, and come and stuff – it’s my very first house concert! And I’ll have a new song.

I also have something else I can’t talk about too specifically, but I’m hoping to release as a new free/pay-what-you-like Cracksman Betty track! It’s a cover song. Of sorts.

See, I’d heard this song, and liked it, and when I was prepping for the Talk Like a Pirate Day show at Juanita Bay, I realised with a little tweaking it could be a really good modern pirate song! So I was trying to remember how the music went from memory and reconstruct it, and, um, I kind of… missed. By a LOT.

By which I mean I wrote new music, like y’do. Oops. XD

But I really like my version. o/ So I’ve got permissions request in to the original artist, and we’ll see! He’s not opposed in principle, but wanted to hear it, and he has an mp3 waiting for him. It’s still mostly his lyrics, so I really hope he signs on. The original music was traditional, so we’re good there.

Oh, mustn’t forget this:

What else? I found out that some people missed a bunch of the horror film polls entirely – like, didn’t see notice of them or anything! That kind of explains the low turnout. Are people seeing the final championship poll?

Or are people just not as into horror film as I thought, even this time of year? That’s kind of a shame, since all of these are really good in different ways, from Quatermass and the Pit‘s postwar British SF to what is for my money absolutely Carpenter’s best film Prince of Darkness, which has…

A lot of films use the warning/message-from-beyond shtick. Lots of them. That part of This Island Earth is the part that’s actually really effective, creepy, and weird. I love that first reel to death. (In the MST3K treatment, it’s almost entirely cut out – it’s too unironically good. You could mock it, but why? Best to cut it out.)

But in horror – for my money, no film plays that game better than Prince of Darkness. None. So much ambiguity, so much uncertainty, but at the same time, so much existential need to act. Fantastic.

And! Bride of Frankenstein. For my money, the best of the classic era. So luscious, so lovingly filmed, so weird. It’s like an art film, in the best senses – experimental, daring, a story of defiance with a cold heart of hardest stoic inevitability, wrapped in a tight little horror plot, bundled in some of the most beautiful visuals of the classic Universal horror set. What’s not to love?

I’ll leave you with this bit of WTFery, IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS from a box of labels I bought three days ago:

I had an HP IIIp – in 1994. And guys, even grandma’s not using that printer anymore. It’s not even like that’s generic print art; these are instructions specific to those printers. And to no other printers. Just those. Print cartridges for them haven’t even been available since 2007. Guys – let it go. Okay? XD

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