At my signal, unleash a $3 VHS cassette.


So, browsing one of the local flea-market/yard-sale type groups on Facebook, I discovered this post…

Gladiator on VHS for sale. Only $3.00 American!

Gladiator on VHS for sale. Only $3.00 American!

As you can imagine because I’m blogging about it, many questions came to mind.  It’s hard to even know where to begin.

We’ll start with the obvious.  Who would pay $3 for a VHS cassette of any movie, let alone this movie?  I mean Gladiator was a good film… but here is a shortlist of better values available online…

This is just for physical media.  I didn’t even look into streaming.  I get that not everyone is set up to stream and that some people (myself included) like to put their hands on physical tangible media.

Who has a working VCR?  OK.  I do, but I’m odd.  It’s a VCR/DVD-recorder, and someday I will transfer all of my VHS tapes to DVD (which is already a dead format).  Who is still watching video tapes?  I mean, watching the old 4:3 aspect ratio drives me nuts these days.

The other side of this… who goes through their stuff, decides they can part with this, and assigns a $3 value to it?  I mean, I could see if this was a collector’s item.  I have Star Wars on VHS and I’ll probably have it forever, but The Gladiator?   Sure, it was a good movie… but not that good. Why were they even still making video tapes in the year 2000?

What do you need that badly that costs $3?  This wouldn’t be worth the gas money or the bus fair to meet someone to make the sale.

I have been strapped for cash, but never would think to list what essentially amounts to garbage for a negligible value on a Facebook flea market group.  If this sells, I really have a lot of stuff that I need to be listing for under $5 amounts.

13 Guitars in 2013! ⓭⓭===:::


13 Guitars in 2013!

13 Guitars in 2013!

So the other night while dining at Panera Bread, I was talking to my wife about guitars… and how I want a USA map shaped guitar painted like an old map with the pastel blue, yellow, green, & pink (red?) states.  Then, I said I needed 3 more guitars to have an “even” 13 by the year 2013.  With 13 being my favorite number… and us having a baby in 2013, it seemed like a good idea.  She laughed and rolled her eyes.  I said I could set up a Facebook page & get a million likes then she’d have to let me buy 3 more guitars.  She said that a million was too many, & suggested 13,000.

Like all good jokes, I took it too far & started a page.  Can I get 13,o00 likes by 2013 so I can add 3 more guitars to my collection?  I need 13 in ’13!

So, spread the link if you’re so inclined… and we’ll see if I can get 1300, let alone 13,000.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/13-Guitars-in-2013/209290145871186

Bands vs. Venues: Who promotes? Who makes money? Can everyone “win”?


Rick from the Fallout Shelter brought up a great discussion topic on Facebook, and it inspired me to blog about it.

That’s a private group on Facebook, so here’s what was said in case you’re not a member:

Rick D'Agostino Looking for some feedback from the music community out there. Do you think that the $5 cover charge keeps you or your friends from attending shows at the Fallout Shelter that they might otherwise attend to check out new bands? In other words, are folks only willing to pay a $5 cover to see bands that they already know? And as a band member, would you rather play to a larger crowd with a tip bucket or to just a few people and make some gas money? I am thinking of making some changes. you can reply here or message me if you want. thanks!

Rick D’Agostino is looking for some feedback from the music community out there..

Dig?  So now, you have the gist of it.  My blog may go on its own little tangent, you never really know with these things.  It’s certainly worth talking about.

First, it’s clear that I’ve never been in a band where making money is the ultimate goal.  I’m amazed over & over that venue owners let me come in, set up, and play in front of people.  Sometimes we get money from the door, sometimes we get money from tickets sold, sometimes we give it all to the touring band, sometimes it’s a charity gig, sometimes no one shows up to pay anyone, sometimes we get some gas money or a couple of bucks to dump back into merch or something.

This is how it’s worked nearly everywhere and every time I have played:  Most of the time, the cover is $3 to $5, unless we’re opening for a national act & it’s through a booker where we’re asked to sell tickets.  Some call the latter “pay to play“, and rail wholly against it.  Some people have no problem selling tickets.  Some bands like mine do, but we try anyway.  At bar gigs, the cover charge is usually $5.  Sometimes it all goes to the bands, especially if it’s a bar & if you provide your own door person.  Sometimes it pays for a sound guy (if there is one) & a cut goes to the bar, then the bands get paid.  Sometimes locals defer and let the out-of-town bands take the cash (if there is one).  Sometimes you can play for free at open stages, sometimes you pay to get in at open stages.  Sometimes no one comes out to see you, and no one gets paid.  Sometimes the band gets free or discounted drinks.  It’s generally a no pay or break even situation.  You hope to sell merchandise and/or CD‘s if you have them, and the bar hopes to sell drinks & food.  The bands should promote and the venues should promote.  Some venues think the bands should do it all, some bands think the venue should do it all.  Generally 3 or sometimes 4 bands are all on the same gig.  Sometimes, it all works out, sometimes… it doesn’t.  This is how bands who largely play their own music are forced to operate.

That’s only 1 way.  There are many other “scenes” here overlapping in the ‘Burgh.

Cover bands… or human jukebox bands, can generally charge a fee for playing a certain style, genre, or “songs that people know”.  This is to provide entertainment to drunken Yinzer patrons who want to yell out requests.  You probably usually play 3 sets, maybe 4… and you’re the only entertainment all night.  You’re probably playing pop country, classic rock, or a little mix of everything.  Professional singers/songwriters operate pretty much the same way as described above, but can get away with putting in more of their own material.

High-class…  I know a band that plays funk, and can get $5000 a gig at the least.  They put their twist on a bunch of songs, dress up, bring lights, and put on one hell of a show.  I’m pretty sure I could never command that much cash for what I do… but how is one less relevant or entertaining?  They do weddings, corporate parties, and “events”.

I’m sure there’s other stuff out there that I’m not even aware of.  I can’t really speak for any other parts of the scene than the one I’m in.

I’ve heard the argument that charging only $5 is devaluing our craft.  Bands should demand more to be heard live.  It worked for Yuengling.  They raised the price on their beer in the late 90s/early 00s and they took off ahead of the other “microbrews”.  Should we then put a higher value on ourselves & our art?  If we raise the price do we raise our expectations?  Do we raise our worth?  Do we raise the value of our music & entertainment?

I also see that a cover charge can make or break a show.  Times are changing.  People aren’t spending money on entertainment.  Music is seen like it’s all supposed to be free.  Why would someone pay for a live show?  To me, if you don’t have $5 on you for a show, maybe you shouldn’t be going to a bar in the 1st place.  $5 might get you 2 beers if you’re a butthole & don’t tip the bartender.  Then again, we hardly ever walk away with any money anyway (the Fallout Shelter is an exception here, we get paid well there, regardless of turnout), so why not let people in for free?

The tip bucket.  I’d play for one.  I have no doubt that we’re entertaining.  Why not, right?  Do all bands split the tip bucket?  Or go per performance?  That if the 1st band up gets all the cash & the “cleanup” band gets nothing simply because the patrons ran out of cash?  Are we nothing more than indoor buskers if we play for a tip jar?  Is it a better measurement of our entertainment value to work for tips?  Does it devalue our art to basically beg for donations to support the rock n’ roll cause?

I certainly don’t want to see my favorite venues close because they can’t afford to operate.  I like to play them, I like to see other bands in them… I want them to do well.  I want them to continue to host my band & other bands.  I even want them to make a buck so it’s all worth their while, and so they can do it to make a living.

I just want to play.  I don’t care where, or for how much.  I have fun doing it.  I think this is an important discussion to have, though.  What is the value of live rock n’ roll?

So…

  • Would you play for less of a cover charge?
  • Should we charge more for shows?
  • Should bands play for tips?
  • How should the tips be split?
  • How does the venue make money?
  • Who pays the sound guy?

Leave your opinions in the comments below!

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Goofy Little 9V Amplifier Project…


I have a Fender Mini Twin MT-10 9V amp that I recently dug out of a box in the basement. Obviously I don’t use it much. It’s the one in a plastic enclosure, and it sounds like… it’s in a plastic enclosure. The battery compartment cover has decided to move on to better things.  My little Smokey Amp kicks its butt where 9V rocking is concerned, and it drives a cabinet if you wanna get really crazy.

Fender Mini-Twin '57 & MT-10

I have the boring MT-10 on the right in the incredibly awesome sounding high-quality black plastic enclosure.

Artistic Amplification | Duck Guitar Amp ($125.00)

If it looks like a duck, and sounds like a cat getting its tail pulled, it must be a... guitar amplifier?

One of the clamps inside that was supposed to hold the speaker busted off of the plastic enclosure anyway, so it was all in there rattling around.

I have been a fan of the stuff that the dude from Artistic Amplification is doing for a while.  The other day I got the brainstorm to turn my Mini-Twin into something like that dude does.  He uses the Ruby circuit from Runoof Groove, but I already have guts to a perfectly good amp.

9-Volt Battery Connector

9V me!

All I need is one of those 9V battery connector things (the amp has a stupid box w/ prongs), a fun shell, maybe some longer wires, a drill, some time and I’m good to go.  Even my level of poor soldering skills should work for this venture.

I was thinking something neat and goofy like a skull model or a Darth Vader helmet would be cool…

Vader Mask / Skull Model

These would certainly make badass little novelty amps.

I could possibly route out the eyes of the skull for the Twin Speaker placement.  Was thinking the same with with Darth Vader’s eyes, or even mount them in the mouth-piece.  Somehow I could maybe even work in that control panel…  If the speaker was in the mouth, I could make the eyeballs light up or something even crazier.  I can even use the integrated AC adapter, but I have read online that sometimes they produce an additional unwanted hum.

Then again, I thought trolling an antique store or two for an old box or transistor radio or crazy piece of kitsch would be kind of fun.  I might come across something that hits me as the perfect vessel for the Frankentwin.  (And a wooden box or old leather-covered transistor might sound better than yet another plastic enclosure.)

Fender Mini-Twin MT-10

HELP ME!

I pulled the amp apart with ease… I’m sort of stuck with the knobs.  They’re not coming off with a gentle pull, and while other goofy replacements might be fun, I don’t really want to bust these (or the circuit board inside) yet.  I guess I’m going to have to try to get something thin in behind them to pull them off.

The world of cigar-box guitar & amp building & case-mod type hacks is neat.  There are a ton of mini/travel amps out there, why not make one that’s all mine?  (Check out this coffin-shaped mini amp, this one from a mint container & this cracker-box amp!)

I’m asking you the reader if you have any tips, tricks, advice, suggestions, etc.  Have you done this before?  Have you seen anything similar?  Have you ever had the urge to build your own amp?  Would you buy one if I learned how to make a circuit & started making/selling weird stuff?  (Provided it sounded cool?)

Validate my goofy guitar habit?


So, not too long ago, I submitted some photos of my favorite toys to the Tone Fiend blog’s Mutant Beauty Pageant.  If you’d like to follow the saga at the Tone Fiend blog, check these posts out:

You can pick your 3 favorites, and list them in the comments here: Mutant Beauty Pageant: Choose the “Winner!” You can also email your votes if you’d like them to be anonymous.  Of course, your 3 favorites could be for all 3 of my guitars, but… I do encourage you to vote for your actual favorites.

No prize was apparent at the time of my entry, but now I see a nifty little custom-built Uglyface stompbox is being offered up as booty.  I certainly wouldn’t mind playing around with the little thing.  At any rate, it was cool that people got to show off their weird guitars, and we can all share in our inherent oddness.

Mutant Beauty Pageant: Choose the “Winner!”

Mutant Beauty Pageant: Choose the “Winner!”

Even a 3-year-old can do it…


This article is just awesome:

http://kingstonthisweek.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?archive=true&e=1136778

It’s about Alex Pople the three year old who used an EpiPen to save his infant brother’s life.  Holy cow, this is good stuff.   I’m amazed that a three year old could successfully use an EpiPen, and did it when it was called for!

The tear-jerker?

He also tells his brother, “I love you and I saved your life because we are best friends.”

Crazy!  This proves that a child is never too young to start learning about food allergies for themselves or for anyone in the family or even any friends.

Chili Cook-Off Fliers


If you know me, you know I dig making fliers. I used to make them for my old bands all the time, now I have no band, and no need of fliers… so the annual chili cook-off at my place has become my fun with fliers time. As you can see, I was a little rusty on one… not quite sure where to go. On the other… well, I think it all just fell together nicely.

Should I use both? Get rid of the corny one?

If you’re interested in the chili cook-off itself, stay tuned!