Monday, 31 October 2016

2016 Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues

Rock solid ensemble
Festival organisers can be forgiven for opening the festival with a Blues Brothers tribute band as this bunch of musos are locals. After an hour we left the Hume Bank Blues Stage in search of something a little more sophisticated to please our ears. Steve and I are not jazz aficionados, we like our music light and easy. The Ronan Guilfoyle Trio were too fundamental for our ears so we sneaked out between numbers and took up residence in the Pinsent Hotel where Monique diMattina was on stage playing some accomplished piano and entertaining the crowd with her witty lyrics. We stood at the back until our legs were ready to sit down again and then we headed to the beautiful theatre at the performing arts centre (WPAC) to catch Melissa Aldana.  By now it was 10pm and I closed my eyes  and rested while Melissa played four tunes. When the one hour set was over Steve proclaimed  “tomorrow we need to find some acts with vocalists.”
Lovely room at Tony & Sue's B&B

We retired to our B&B and were sound asleep by midnight. Unfortunately we’d had to leave our tent strapped to the bike for the festival as our pre-booked camp site at Painters Island Caravan Park was cancelled due to flooding of the Ovens River.

Hetty Kate
We started our Saturday at the festival with the enchanting Clancye Milne in the WPAC hall followed by the wonderful Hetty Kate in the St Pats Hall. As we walked away from the venue we both agreed “this is more like it.” Early in the evening, Kimba Griffith’s powerful performance of The Songs That Saved Your Life made an impact on us, original, organic, and outside the box. We were back in the blues venue for the energetic JJ Thames and we were assured that the future of blues is in good hands.

Kimba Griffith
No doubt this year’s floods have presented some unexpected challenges for festival organisers. It seemed like there were two festivals going on; Blues at the outdoor Blues Stage, jazz in the concert venues and never the two shall meet. It would have been nice to see some acoustic blues in the concert venues and some easy listening jazz at the outdoor venue to create a more together atmosphere.

Fiona Boyes
Hetty Kate lured us back to The Pinsent Hotel on Sunday for a bottle of local wine and a light lunch as she was playing a three hour session. We were pleased we had caught Hetty in a concert venue the day before as the sound system in the hotel didn’t do her sweet voice any justice at all. It was great to catch Fiona Boyes late on Sunday afternoon at the Blues stage. Wow that babe has surely grown into an international artist that Australians can be proud of. We saved the best until last and ended our festival with a set from James Morrison in the WPAC theatre; and no one makes it look easier than James.

The man himself, James Morrison
2016 was our first visit to the Wangaratta Festival of Jazz & Blues, and thanks to the festival organisers and the army of volunteers for making it happen.  Fifteen minute tunes, with each band member taking their turn at a solo, seemed the norm amongst the jazz bands and it would be nice to see some festival artists presenting in a more popular format.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Six Hundred Outback Miles

While travelling on my motorcycle (The Red Devil, a BMW F650GS twin) I often get ideas for new songs.

The inspiration for “Six Hundred Outback Miles” came to me when riding between Barkley Station and Daly Waters in the Northern Territory, Australia. By the time I arrived at the camp site, the tune and the first verse were set in stone. Over the next few weeks I had the pleasure of musing with the lyrics while I enjoyed riding the roads of the Northern Territory and listening and learning about Aboriginal Culture and Country.

I have just finished recording this song, which is on my latest album, “Does it Rhyme?”.

The Photographs:
Charles Knife Canyon, Pilbara, Western Australia
Lake Argyle, Kimberley, Western Australia
Cape Range National Park, Western Australia
Great Northern Highway, Pilbara, Western Australia
Great Western Tiers, Tasmania
A Jump-Up, Channel Country, Western Queensland
Overlander Roadhouse, Western Australia
Kata Tjuta (The Olgas), Northern Territory
Daly Waters, Northern Territory
Pemberton, South West Western Australia
Aboriginal Art, Wyndham, Western Australia
Mt Roland, Tasmania
Playing Music Sticks @ the Katherine Markets, Northern Territory
Campsite Porongurup National Park, South West Western Australia
Porongurup National Park, South West Western Australia
Gig @ Kalangadoo Crafts, Narrikup, South West Western Australia
Uluru (Ayers Rock), Northern Territory
Aboriginal Rock Art, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Kimberley, Western Australia
Kings Canyon, Northern Territory
Kings Canyon, Northern Territory
Mabel Downs, Kimberley, Western Australia
Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory
Litchfield, Northern Territory
Kimberley, Western Australia
Porongurup National Park, South West Western Australia

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Does it Rhyme?

Sitting on a Jump-Up in Western Queensland,
How could I not be inspired to write a song?
In January 2016 I knew I couldn’t procrastinate any longer ~ I had the means, I had written the songs ~ the time had come to knuckle down and record another album. We don’t take projects like this lightly at Studio 453 and perhaps that’s the reason there had been over ten years since I released my last album, The Moods I’m In.

The fourteen original songs I selected for my third album, Does it Rhyme?, came right from the heart and span genres folk, pop, blues with a touch of jazz and novelty. After I selected the songs I realised the Australiana flavour of the album, with six of the fourteen songs inspired by our land Down Under. 

Playing to the Kangaroos during a break in recording.
I created a booklet containing a lyric sheet for each song. This became my bible, the place where I would write down my ideas on the arrangement for each song including intros, outros, and other instrumentation and harmony that would be added after the vocal and guitar tracks had been laid down.

Alas, recording an album is twenty percent inspiration and eighty percent perspiration. And so began the hard work of practicing and then recording each of the tracks that would make up the album. My husband, Steve, is my recording engineer and twice we took my mobile studio down to The River Road, our country hideout, for some uninterrupted recording time.

My recording studio is made up of the following components:
·         HP Envy 17” (Intel Core i7-4700mq processor, 16GB RAM and 1TB hard drive).
·         Cakewalk Sonar X3 DAW.
·         Roland Octa-Capture Audio Interface.
·         Rode NT2000 Microphone.
·         Adam F7 Studio Monitors.

The recording process for this album was as follows:
·         Record fourteen guide tracks.
·         Record fourteen guitar tracks.
·         Record fourteen vocal tracks.
·         Record bass guitar on Six Hundred Outback Miles; The Wobblebox Song; The Coal Miner.
·         Add bass guitar, recorded by Lindsay Gould, to Take You to Vegas.
·         Record lead guitar on Six Hundred Outback Miles and In The City.
·         Record a second acoustic guitar on the title track Does it Rhyme?.
·         Record harmony on Jump Up; The Spell of Acrospire IV; In The City.
·         Add Session Drummer track to In The City.
·         Record stone flute on The Wobblebox Song.
·         Record music sticks on Six Hundred Outback Miles.
·         Record tenor saxophone (Lindsay Gould) on Secrets of a Bass Player; Purple Poodle; Mr Dinosaur Bones; Take You to Vegas.
·         Record soprano saxophone (Lindsay Gould) on Trackless and Windforce.
·         Record clarinet (Lindsay Gould) on Kilkenny.

At The River Road
On average it takes us one hour to record a track and one hour to edit a track. The total time to record and edit this album was 120 hours (there are 61 recordings).

The mastering of this album was a reiterative process of mixing down with the required effects (eq, reverb, compression), creating an mp3 at 320kbs and then listening to the song on a variety of devices, checking for clarity of sound of all the instruments and the overall volume. This process took us about one day (8 hours) per song totalling 110 hours.

In total we spent 230 hours (6 weeks full time) just to record, mix and master the songs. This doesn’t include the countless hours spent rehearsing so that we could create solid, clean recordings.

A special thanks to my friend, Lindsay Gould, for his inspiration and magic touch on the saxophones and clarinet. 

Lindsay and me ~ gigging
Lindsay and I collaborated on writing Secrets of a Bass Player and Take You to Vegas. I wrote the lyrics and Lindsay wrote the music. This was a thoroughly enjoyable experience and it is a pleasure to include these two songs on this album.

Also, thank you Steve, for your patience during the recording process and your diligence during the mixing and mastering phase of the project. You have a wonderful ear for the final product and I’m lucky that you are part of the music I create.

Of course the creation of this album is only the beginning as we work towards finding avenues so that you folks out there can hear Does it Rhyme? I’m very proud of this album and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed writing the songs.

You can listen to sound bytes on the player below or on the Does it Rhyme? page on my website ~ Enjoy!

Six Hundred Outback Miles
written while riding my BMW F650GS though Northern Australia

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Radial PZ-DI

It had been evident for quite a while that the piezo pickup, in my twenty year old Maton EM225 acoustic guitar, wasn't delivering the volume of sound I require at gigs with the 1/4" input plugged directly into the PA. This had been on my mind for so long that I nearly lost sight of the wood through the trees and thought of upgrading my guitar to solve the problem. Enter the Radial PZ-DI. This is the neatest piece of stage kit I have ever laid my hands on. Amongst other features, you can adjust the load to suit the pickup so it works well with my bass guitar too and there is enough sound colouring for my requirements with a variable low-cut filter that works like a charm.

This little box is so easy to use as all the input and output panel features are clearly labelled on top of the box so you don't have to keep picking it up if you need to make an adjustment. Of course I now have headroom beyond my wildest dreams; I should have bought a PZ-DI years ago.