Reflective Retrospective Recollective


AiXeLsyD 🎸 Gasoline Dion 🎸 Ernie and the BertsSo, recently turning 40 has me reflecting on life in general (which is pretty damn great) & on my accomplishments as a “musician” even though I’m not actively gigging right now.

I’m pretty self-deprecating of my musical talents, but I am proud of the major part of the aural art that I helped create.  I compiled and uploaded a few of my favorites after using Audacity to clip out some silence and mp3Gain to try to get all the volume levels somewhat similar.

If you’ll indulge me I’d like to give my thoughts & memories on each of these songs that I was proud to be a part of with AiXeLsyD, Gasoline Dion, & Ernie and the Berts.  If I have any of the stories, names, etc. wrong, please correct me in the comments.  Being that these are punk rock(ish) bands, you may find the content explicit and/or objectionable.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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  1. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy came up with this cool shuffling progression and I played a super easy solo over it.  I believe we kept the first take of the solo even though at the time I thought I could do better.  It’s not perfect, but it’s fun.  It was cool to open shows with this then rip into something completely different. It was called “Tommy’s Jam” until an inside joke on a local message board inspired the new name.

  2. AiXeLsyD – “Wait”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Probably the first song that I wrote that I liked, and probably the first original that we worked on in the band.  We dug on this & recorded it a million times.  It morphed a bit, but was basically the same simple jam.  Ben doubling the vocals an octave lower and the guitar part at the end really fills it out.

  3. Gasoline Dion – “Pickle Farm”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy had recorded this song solo, and it contributed to the itch that I needed to scratch when we formed Gasoline Dion.  I really liked the melody.  I think he stole the lyrics from Space Ghost or Brak.  This song to me is about not being a square peg that’s forced into a round hole.  I liked singing background vocals & playing guitar.

  4. Ernie and the Berts – “Toybox”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin wanted to start a band to play rocked-out Willy Wonka covers.  That never happened.  This did.  It was the first original that stuck, and an early recording became the soundtrack to a friend’s video project.  Dave learned to play drums in/for this band.  This is a nice simple driving groove and is the perfect vehicle for the introduction of Erin’s gnarly gravelly voice.

  5. AiXeLsyD – “Hopeless & Heartless”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I wrote this on the outside of seeing someone with a broken heart.  I thought it was pretty catchy.  The “whoa-oh’s” are overkill but oddly necessary in my humble opinion. I think An-Die, Ben, & I are all singing on multiple tracks here.

  6. Gasoline Dion – “Cold”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This riff was a leftover AiXeLsyD riff that almost became part of two songs but never really went anywhere.  Mike had some leftover Who’s.Keeping.Score? lyrics that Dave & I re-arranged.  Dave & I work really well on arranging musical parts & lyrics. I really really dig Tommy & I singing together on this one.

  7. Ernie and the Berts – “Fred Rogers”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin supposed that a local hero may not really be a hero on this one.  Maybe he read that weird urban legend.  I really like the guitar part here, although it’s missing some kind of effect in my head.  Wah?  Phaser?  Not sure.  Erin let me just go goofy with background vocals here.  I felt like Danzig or that Not-Danzig guy in the Cult.  I love how this song builds into chaos.

  8. AiXeLsyD – “Stand Up”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | This is where it all pulled together, and it was the last proper thing we recorded.  Ha ha. An-Die wrote the riff & lyrics, I arranged them.  Ben came up with the guitar noodling& octaves riff. I think I came up with the stupid  guitar part for the verse. I really dig my guitar solo here,even though I went too long.  (Oddly, this sounds a lot like “Anything, Anything (I’ll Give You)” by Dramarama as played by Buckcherry.)

  9. Gasoline Dion – “Political Songs (With Deep Meaning)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I was listening to a lot of the Unseen, I think.  I don’t really write political stuff that often.  This was taking the piss out of that genre.  Dave sounded better on it with vocals.  I scream “feet” in the background and give the creepy laugh at the end.  We lost the original lyrics, so Dave used what he remembered and made the rest up on the fly.  I don’t really think any one ever tried to intemperate a deeper meaning. If they did, they didn’t tell us.

  10. Ernie and the Berts – “Don’t Fuck With Ernie”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It was hard to tell if Erin was serious or joking a lot of the time. He had a deadpan delivery, and it was hilarious. To deliver this ridiculousness so seriously is hilarious to me.  I think I sort of came up with this riff over top of his bass line.

  11. AiXeLsyD – “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | It’s “Dave Ugly’s Girlfriend”, not “Dave’s Ugly Girlfriend.”  People always seemed to get that wrong.  Dave Ugly played bass & sang for one of our favorite local bands, Useless Torment.  I don’t tell the story as well as An-Die, but Dave was apparently saying he loved him, and An-Die was playing the “even if…” game, and arrived at this.  I remember being “mad” when Sum 41 came out as a punk band rapping.  I think Boner played guitar on this one and Ben played Drums?

  12. Gasoline Dion – “Bitch Pants Opera”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | I don’t know if we could do this one today.  People seem so easily offended.  It’s just a joke.  We don’t really care if you wear girl pants.  We’re not insinuating or implying anything.  We look ridiculous too.  Another Dave vocals song, I am screaming the high parts.  All of us are in the beginning. I think the breakdown was inspired by hardcore /screamo kids in skinny jeans doing the windmill and Peelander-Z’s “S.T.E.A.K.”

  13. Ernie and the Berts – “Ikea”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Dave suggested I try a little more dynamics with space and clean.  Dave is usually right.  You can do a lot with the same 3 chords over & over. This was a slice of Erin’s life, full of his observations.  We almost got permission to go in & shoot a video there.  Somebody must have really listened to the lyrics.  He had “nicer” ones prepared just in case we needed to sell out.

  14. AiXeLsyD – “Love, Hopes, Dreams, & Smiles”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] |I think An-Die hated this one.  I liked the noodling& the melody.  The lyrics are super dumb & trite.  The song was made infinitely cooler when Ben put in that volume swell in the final mix.  That was never there, then we started doing it live after he did that to the recording.  This could probably be punched-up a little bit more.

  15. Gasoline Dion – “Two of a Kind”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Tommy sings like an angel.  I have no idea what in the hell he’s talking about here.  I think Dave & Mike made this honky-tonk-ish.  I played a little solo under Tommy’s vocals at the end because nobody ever told me not to.  The end sounds like the Misfits’ “NY Ranger.”

  16. Ernie and the Berts – “I Don’t Wanna”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Erin stole this one from a band called Suck-Your-Brains-A-Go-Go.  I don’t know if they ever recorded it.  I should ask the man who wrote it some time.  We made it ours. I think Bengt punched-up some of the guitar & added a bit of harmonies during the recording process.

  17. Gasoline Dion – “Shameless Plug (Reprise)”

    [SoundCloud/YouTube] | Same thing as the first track, second solo take by me with a wah pedal this time. Dave is also on guitar making crazy noises and soloing in between all of my notes.  Ha ha.  If you don’t “get” the speaking part, watch the Josie and the Pussycats movie some time.

I’d love to know what you think, or to read/see/hear your own memories about these bands or in any bands or projects in which you have participated.   Did I miss a song or two that you may have remembered or liked?  Comments (or likes or whatever is deemed social-media-appropriate) on the songs on SoundCloud or YouTube would be awesome and greatly appreciated, too.

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Check out the playlist on SoundCloud:

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Check out the playlist on YouTube:

Can you Dig it?

I think you should be able to download a zip of the collection on Google Drive or SendSpace if you’re so inclined.  If you can’t get it there, let me know and I can email it to you.

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The AiXeLsyD stuff:

The Gasoline Dion stuff:

The Ernie and the Berts Stuff:

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Check out some related posts:

NOTE:  Edited to correct links to YouTube videos, made new ones for some slideshows that were too short.  Also, check the comments!
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Gig Checklists


Jim Dunlop Tortex Fin PicksInspired by a post called Gig Preparation, I thought I’d make some checklists.  I think we’ll need one (and a half) for our stuff, one for setting up the gig, and one for doing stuff at the gig.  The lists would change depending on who’s working the gig or who set it up, but you should be able to help with the flow of things even if you’re not the organizer.  This is also from the point of view of a guitar player, because that’s all I’ve ever been.  I’m guessing it would be the same for a bass player & quite similar for a drummer.

Gig Checklists…

-·♠·-

Before the gig:

☐ Get all the details in order:

☐ The bands
☐ The place
☐ The time
☐ The price
☐ All ages or 21+
☐ Is it a benefit?
☐ Any specials if it’s a bar?
☐ Selling tickets?

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Promote!

☐ …using social media – Link the crap out of details/event pages.
Flyers – Hang ’em up, pass ’em out.
☐ Word of mouth

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☐ Communicate with the other bands…

☐ Sharing equipment? – Cut down on changeovers between bands.
☐ Playing order?

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☐ Do you need your own door person?

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Stuff to take:

☐ Guitar – In a case or gig bag, I actually saw a guy use a bath-towel once.
☐ Backup guitar(s) – Don’t kill the show when you break a string.
☐ Amp head & cab (or combo)
☐ The merch box(es)
☐ Your gig backpack or briefcase. (“What’s that.” you ask? Keep reading!)

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|·| |·| |·| |·| | |:|  |  | · |   | · |   | · |  | · |   |   |

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An acoustic guitar string. 0.044-inch (1.117 m...I make sure to have my backpack full o’ stuff with me at every gig.  Over the years, every item in it has proved useful and one time or another.

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In The Gig Backpack or Briefcase:

☐ Tuner (Get a pedal one, so no one can hear you tune.)
Wireless system (Certainly not a necessity, but fun.)
9V battery (Are the lithium ones OK for pedals?)
☐ Guitar cables (1 more than you need)
☐ Speaker cables (1 more than you need)
Strings (At least a full set, …any leftovers you’ve got should be in there.)
☐ Extra power cord
Power Strip (w/ Circuit Breaker)
3-Prong to 2-Prong adapter (or 2)
Duct Tape or Gaff Tape (or both… Gaff doesn’t leave a mess.)
☐ Tablet (Setlists, Merch Prices, Boredom)
☐ A sharpie or 2 (Setlists, Rock Star Autographs)
☐ A Leatherman-type tool. (Crazy or not-so crazy.)
☐ Guitar picks (I use Jim Dunlop Fins.)
☐ An Extra Strap
☐ Flashlight (A really bright one helps)
☐ Extension Cord

[::( )::]

Stuff that I don’t have, but might be a good idea…

☐ Pedal(s) – Wah, Distortion, Foot Switch, Etc.
Mic clip(s)
String Winder
☐ Pick strip or holder
Slide / eBow / Capo
☐ Strap locks
Trem poker
☐ Ear plugs
☐ Nail clippers
☐ acetaminophen / ibuprofen / aspirin
☐ Band-aids
☐ Cloth or towel

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\m/_(-_-)_\m/

At the gig:

☐ Set stuff on the stage for the 1st band & any bands sharing
Backline the “main” act if there is one & set up in front of them.
☐ Tune (Silently! – No one likes the tuning song! – Tune your backup guitar too.)
Let the Sound Technician do their job.
☐ Set up a Merch Table/Corner/Counter/Box.
☐ Put your door person at the door.
☐ Using a setlist? Reach into that backpack & get one made!
☐ Have a drink? Water, Beer, or something harder.
☐ Tune Again (Silently! – No one likes the tuning song!)
☐ Unless you’re awesome & have a tech, get a string-wingman.

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Danelectro Vintage Power Source A cool looking...

I’m sure there’s stuff I’m forgetting, but I think this is a pretty decent start.  What do you think I’m missing from the list?  Do you have an emergency gig kit?  What’s in it?

D'Andrea Gmk1 Guitar Cleaner Maintenance Kit

Psst… It’s a bar, not a stadium.


Sound Mixing deskI’m always amused when I’m out at a bar gig (whether playing or just attending) and I hear bands spitting directions to the person at the soundboard.  Let the sound guy do his or her job.  (Is there a feminine or neutral  form of “Sound Guy” that doesn’t sound dumb?)

Sure you can ask for a level adjustment if something’s drastically off, but don’t demand.  It makes you look like a pompous ass.  Then again it’s rock and roll, and it’s a bar.  There are monitors at all?  What a luxury!  If you can’t plow your way through a set on instinct with your band mates & sound somewhat in-synch, it’s time to find a new band.  So shut up, grab a beer, and play… Rock Star.

Bar Band Show Timeline


Dive Bar, Plate 2

Here again?

So, I recently posted a link to Guitar Squid’s quite humorous timeline of a bar gig.  Whether in a band, or going to see a band, we’ve all been through similar situations.  Here’s how it usually goes IMHO…

  • 8:00pm | Arrive at gig early to load-in because the flyer says 9:00pm.  (Assuming your GPS/Phone/Google Maps has brought you to the right place.)
  • 8:30pm | Finally get into the bar, because all the lights have been off & no one has been there.  Bartender looks at you like you’re a vagrant.
  • 8:32pm | Notice that there are no posters or marquees at the bar telling of the gig.*
  • 9:15pm | Band wives/girlfriends begin to get annoyed that no one’s there.
  • 9:30pm | Promoter comes in looking quite rushed, says that they want to start bands at 10:00pm.
  • 9:32pm | Start setting up.
  • 9:47pm | Get told some other band is playing 1st, so & so in 3rd band has to go work night shift, so you’re playing cleanup.
  • 10:00pm | Hear bartender or promoter tell band #1 to hold off, to wait for more people to arrive.
  • 10:03pm | Band wives/girlfriends have perfected the stink eye.
  • 10:23pm | Band #1 plugs in, and tunes… at full volume, no pedals/tuners.
  • 10:32pm | Band #1 gets the go ahead.  Vocals inaudible.
  • 10:41pm | Equipment malfunction on 3rd song.  Someone scrambles to change a string, get a new amp head, get a new kick pedal, or borrow a guitar.
  • 10:50pm | Band #1 resumes after finding a solution while someone form the band or the crowd sees the chance for an open-mic night comedy routine.
  • 10:51pm | Vocals now audible.  Wish they were inaudible.
  • 11:15pm | Band rocks on, stopping after the 3rd “OK this is our last song” song, to remark “oh, we didn’t play ‘such & such’ yet!”
  • 11:23pm | Band #1 on 37th verse of “such & such”, heading into extended solos.
  • 11:35pm | Band #1 is done, starts “tearing down”.
  • 11:52pm | Band #1 finally off stage.
  • 12:15am | Band #2 up & ready to go.  Inexplicably sets stuff down & walks off stage.
  • 12:16am | People who have come to see you have asked for the 497th time what time you’re going on.  Wives/girlfriends give them the stink eye.
  • 12:29am | Band #2 comes back, double-fisting beers… ready to apparently rock.
  • 12:35am | Band #2 has successfully cleared the room, they bill themselves as “performance art” and “experimental”.
  • 12:42am | Despite the experiment gone horribly awry, you realize so & so that was supposed to leave for work hasn’t done so yet.
  • 12:51am | “This is our last song…” starts out, with a story about the last song.
  • 1:01am | Last “song” finally ends & tear-down begins as your band is placing stuff on the stage.
  • 1:10am | Sound guy yells at you for taking too long to set up, bar owner says you have to be done by 2:00am.
  • 1:15am | You’re set up, plugged in, & playing.
  • 1:16am | Realize no one from band #1 or band #2 is in the room.
  • 1:30am | People looking at their watches… except the old guy who is almost on stage with you & is so drunk he thinks you’re his favorite band from the 70’s.
  • 1:45am | Old guy professes his smelly drunken love for your band as you decide which songs to cut from the set list & what to end on.
  • 1:55am | Tear down/clean-up.
  • 1:59am | If you can find promoter, he tells you he gave all door cash to band #1 or band #2  because they “drove in from B.F.E.”
  • 2:15am | Head to a diner to get some breakfast… because you sure won’t be awake during normal breakfast hours.

*This being said… it is not the bar’s job to promote your show.  Bands need to learn to advertise.  Promoters need to advertise too.  Take posters to the bar, I bet they’ll let you put them up, or even do it for you… but a marquee or dry erase board would be nice.

So, what does your timeline look like?

Bar Gigs – Are you experienced?


Guitar Squid | Timeline of a Bar Gig
Guitar Squid | Timeline of a Bar Gig

So, I found another amusing Guitar Squid article; Timeline of a Bar Gig. It made me laugh.

Lately, I’m digging all the stuff that I find at Guitar Squid, Guitar Fail, & The Guitarz Blog.

While amusing, their bar gig timeline runs completely different from one that I’d put together.  I’d like to make my own, maybe a little less jaded.  There’s several subsets of bar-gigs, and it depends wholly on the bar, the type of band, and the crowd.

Before I do that, I’d like to see yours.

It doesn’t matter if you’re in a band, just a person who goes to shows… or even the bar, promoter, or the sound guy.  I’d like to see the timeline from all parties involved.  If your drummer can read, is he tired of the drummer-bashing?

Envisage Your Ideal Concert


Okay.  You just found out that you’re secretly related to Oprah, and since she knows you’re a huge music fan… she’s letting you put together the concert of all concerts to celebrate.  Since you have Oprah money, you pretty much have no limit there, but you are limited to bands that are alive and actively together, or that you believe could be reasonably brought back together with a little grea$ing of the wheels.  Example… you’re probably not going to get Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite or (even the Illusions tour) lineup to get on stage together… but you probably could get Steven Tyler & Joe Perry in the same room.

Put together the whole thing…

  • The Venue: A small club?  A stadium or amphitheater?  Your living room?
  • The Run: Is it a one-night-only deal, or is this a 3-day festival?
  • The Name: Every killer show has to have a killer title.  No “w00t-stock”, please.
  • The Bands: Who’s playing & in what order?  Bonus points for linking to ’em.
  • Added Insanity: Want a 20 minute drum solo with Neil Peart & Lars Ulrich?  Want an unplugged duet with Danzig & Shakira?  Want GWAR to disembowel you on the stage?  A guitar battle between Eric Clapton and Slash?  Want all the bands to do nothing but Black Sabbath covers?  Can’t hurt to throw the idea out there!
  • Micro-Manage: If you really want to get nuts, what do you want to see in each performer’s setlist?  Either highlights or the whole thing.

I’ll think about mine while you post yours in the comments below, and in a few days or so I’ll revisit the whole idea in another blog post.  Links to bands’ websites, videos, and music strongly encouraged!

 

Ernie and the Berts


So, I’m in a band again.  We’ve only been jamming for a short while now, but the chaos is already well underway.  We decided to play an open stage night before we were ready, just because we could.  I dig this momentum/vibe.  Plus, I got to break out the FlipOut guitar for its first show!  I didn’t realize how much I miss gigging out.  It’s addictive.

As far as a style, it’s still taking shape… but right now it’s stripped down punk/rock/pop, and it’s sloppy.  We’ll have some covers, some originals, whatever we feel like as time goes on, I guess.  Most importantly, we’re having fun.  If you’ve seen a handful of local ‘Burgh bands in the past 10 years, chances are you’ll recognize all the players here.

For more about E&tB in the future, keep watching…

To see what you missed, here’s almost our entire 3-song set thanks to Bethany.  Watch your speakers… her camera didn’t like our volume, I guess.

Ernie and the Berts “Suffragette City” (Live) Mon. June 28th, 2010 @ the Thunderbird Cafe

URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHX_H9bg4uA

Ernie and the Berts “Radio, Radio”/”Hot N Cold” (Live) Mon. June 28th, 2010 @ the Thunderbird Cafe

URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzbwYG0Sa0I

And, there are a few photos (thanks again to Bethany)…

Ernie and the Berts @ the Thunderbird Cafe - Mon. June 28th, 2010 - Lawrenceville (Pittsburgh), PA

Ernie and the Berts @ the Thunderbird Cafe - Mon. June 28th, 2010 - Lawrenceville (Pittsburgh), PA

I also have to say that I also learned that the Thunderbird Cafe in Lawrenceville is awesome.  It’s a great room, it has a menu devoid of shellfish, and the crowd was a nice mellow mix form all walks of life.  While I’m at it, host band Craig King & CBG Connection were awesome dudes.  They were very welcoming, and they rocked the place out with some funk/blues/rock/jazz insanity.

If for some reason you want both videos, you can get a zip of both of them in mp4 format here:  http://drop.io/EatB_06282010_TBC