A General Update

Hello readers!  It’s been a while since I’ve ventured out, either locally or interweb-like and there’s been a bit that has happened.  Here is that bit in a nutshell…

I have a gig coming up in St Kilda at the Dog’s Bar.  I’m on stage from 9pm but I’m sure there’ll be plenty of fantastic talent for those who decide to rock up early and grab a bite to eat.  The menu looks affordable so I’ll be running with that option myself.  This reminds me…I should prolly put together a set list for the night…

I recently had the chance to visit San Francisco.  It was a whirlwind visit, but I was able to take my trusty Traveller Guitar, planning to play an Open Mic while I was there.  I found a night at a venue only a couple of blocks away from where I was staying and went to check it out.  Hotel Utah.  A friendly place bursting at the seems with talent.  There are so many artists looking to play and time was limited.  You get 6 mins or 1 song…what ever comes first!  Write your name on a bit of paper when you get there and put it in the beer jug (or pitcher) and the order of the night is determined by what name gets pulled out and when.  I think I got drawn out at number 500 or something silly like that so I sat back and enjoyed the company of fellow musicians and those who were out just to see a bit of music.  Some couldn’t stay to play as it was getting late, but it was great to meet you anyway Susanne and the others that shared our little table in the corner.
The depth of talent was nothing short of amazing, including those on the fringe like Dr Dreame, who created a soundscape with nothing but a microphone and some looping and effects pedals and then proceeded to begin storytelling…
And there was also Mike Fleming who was pretty good at drinking beer.
And then there was Lachlan Cross who beat me to the whole ‘not from around here’ angle when he played early on in the night.  I’m told that there’s an Australian in every pub in the world.
In the end, it got too late for me.  After travelling 13000kms and being up for 50 hours with little sleep, I lost the ability to put more than three words together…performing was no longer on the radar.  I just needed to get back to the hotel room and sleep.

So next month, I’m headed to New York City on business.  I’m looking forward to meeting up with friends and family, some of whom I haven’t met yet.  I’m also looking forward to checking out NY’s open mic scene.  I hear it is awesome, but it’ll have to be to top what I experienced in ‘Cisco!

Don’t forget to pop down to the Dog’s Bar in St Kilda, 56 Acland Street, St.Kilda on September 2nd to see me perform from 9pm.  The more the merrier!  See you there!

They’re trying to kill The Palace

In Melbourne, we love our live music with a passion.  Over the years we’ve seen the poker machines invade our city and wipe out many venues.  Many of those that didn’t convert to pokies lost patronage from those that became the walking dead as the lure of a few bucks pulled them away.

In later years, it’s been more about the threat of development.  Many of the inner city pubs are on land highly prized for it’s location.  The Espy barely escaped from the multi-story apartment complex built in it’s backyard.  When the original Palace in St Kilda was reduced to rubble some years back, the promoters moved to The Metro in Bourke St and renamed it The Palace.

This venue is the place where bands that aren’t commercial enough to play Festival Hall, Rod Laver Arena or the MCG get to play in front of around 2000 people.  It went up for auction last year and a consortium purchased it.  Those in the industry feared that they would come up with some plan for it that would threaten it’s future, not only as a heritage listed building but as an important live music venue.  The plans have been released…and that is exactly what they want to do.  They want to build a luxury hotel and apartment complex.

So what can you do about it?  Well, first off, you can sign a petition…
And then you can join this Facebook group to keep abreast of other forms of protest that are in the pipeline.

Stay strong.

Dawn EP

Hi all,

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for you, but let me tell you…I’ve been busy.  Not busy in a get out and play sort of way.  No, I’ve been recording, mixing, re-recording and I’ve got something together for you to enjoy.



Dawn contains 4 songs, all written, performed and recorded by me.

1. Dawn
2. Resonate
3. PiGGy COme HoMe
4. Em Juan

Dawn is taken from a future release that I’m organising.  The other 3 songs are songs that have changed in some way or are from a different recording session.  I’m sure they will appear on a future release but in a different format.  They definitely deserved to see the light of day as they are on this EP, so please enjoy them.

You can purchase a pack with mp3 files and artwork (the artwork is an A4 sheet of paper that folds into a CD sleeve) or packs that also include either flac or wav files in addition to the mp3 files and artwork.
Paypal handles the money and then you’ll be emailed a download link.  Pretty sweet for 75c a song…

– approx 83MB

– approx 206MB

– approx 256MB

XLR connectors

Why is there a little slot cut into the end of the male XLR connectors?
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It’s a locking mechanism of course!  You plug that into an XLR socket and a latch licks down on it so that the foolish singer or lead guitarist won’t rip it out of the PA when they trip over it.  (We all know that bass players could never do a thing like that…cos they don’t move around the stage.  Bass players groove on the spot.)

So in a live environment, this is a good thing, right?  Any band member that trips or gets tangled up in the mic leads will either fall over or strangle themselves but the show will go on!  This system has a few issues though. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you press in on that little latch to release the lock, it just won’t let go.  I dealt with this issue some time ago in the home studio environment.  I had to pull apart my Focusrite sound card unit in a crazy attempt to free my mic lead from it’s ultra clingyness.  From memory, it was a mixture of brute force and some kind of pointy implement that freed that mic cable.  So do I never use that socket on the Focusrite ever again?

Let me tell you right now that I didn’t buy a sound card with 8 pre’s to only be able to use 7.  There is only one other option.  Disable the locking mechanism from working.  I know that I’m not going to use these cables in a live environment.  That’s what the house PA is for.  And what’s the simplest way to disable this mechanism?  Cut the end out of the plug so that the slot is now open.  Now I just have to overcome that feeling of “I paid good money for this and now I’m gonna physically hack into it.”
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Since We Last Met…

Sometimes life takes hold and it won’t let you do what you really want (as in need) to do.  It’s been a bit like that around here lately.  At times, the ever present day gig demands all of your time and attention…And then when you do have time, a raft of “needs to be completed before you can do this other thing” hits hard.  All of this when I need to be recording vocals for some tracks that I laid down in December.

The weekend before this one, I felt it was time to clear out / tidy some of the clutter in my creative space.  This lead to me digging out some of the pieces of audio rack gear that I had stashed away.  Unable to use them without putting aside sufficient time to set them up, I found that I would never use them at all.  In amongst them, I found a gem that needed a bit of repair.  It’s a Symetrix 421m – Mic Pre, Expander, AGC-Leveller, Limiter.  All in all, a very transparent sounding mic pre.  I don’t know about all sound cards, but my Focusrite with it’s nice 8 channels of mic pres never allows me to get enough volume out of my mics and I’m forced to add extra gain in the digital domain, which is something I’d prefer not to do.  The 421m sits the volume right in the sweet spot.  Problem with this one is that one of the pots was sheered clean off in transit.  So I spent Sunday evening, soldering iron in hand, destroying the PCB while attempting to unsolder the pot.  After I calmed down enough to stop swearing, I figured that I could just re-route the next/previous component straight to the new pot with a bit of point-to-point wiring.  Success!  While I have still to use her on a recording, she was sounding really clean with the tests that I put through.  She now lives in a proper rack, ready to be used at a moments notice, although now that I’ve had this soldering success with her, I’m beginning to wonder what effort would be required to relocate the gain and phantom power switches from the rear of the unit to the faceplate…

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On Tuesday night, everything else got put on hold and I was lucky enough to score a late ticket to Kyuss Lives! at the Palace.  I was also pumped to see Orange Goblin, who I didn’t think I was ever going to see live.  I’m surprised to find that Ben Ward from Orange Goblin is only 6′ 5″.  He seems to be about 8′ tall on stage!  I thought OG played very well but the sound wasn’t there.  With a better front of house sound, I reckon more of the crowd would have got into what they were doing.

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Kyuss Lives! were loud…and they sounded fantastic on top of that.  There may only be 2 original members from their heyday as Kyuss, but they owned the Palace on Tuesday night.  It was interesting to note that most of the members of the other bands from that night watched KL! from the side of the stage.  You don’t see that too often…

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There are so many gigs for me to see in Melbourne over the next couple of months, that I can’t possibly afford to see all of them.  The next one for me is Neil Young at The Plenary (unless I decide to get tickets for an acoustic Tea Party show 2 days before that) and then the very next night Opeth and Katatonia play the Palace.  Interesting to go from Neil Young one night to Opeth the next isn’t it?
It also looks like I’m going to visit The Empress in Nth Fitzroy for a bit of open mic action on Tuesday night.  There’s no way for me to know what time I’m on or even if I can get a spot until I have registered on the night.  Regardless, I always enjoy watching other songwriters perform.  There are some real uncut gems performing out there.

A Busy Week

It’s been a busy week for me.  An inspiring week too.

On Sunday I flew to Sydney for an overnight adventure, all in the name of seeing Dead Can Dance who have been very quiet over the past decade or so.  When tickets went on sale, it was only one night in Australia.  That was in Sydney at the Sydney Opera House.  There was no way that I was going to miss this so I bought a couple of tickets, booked flights and hotel and was set.  Of course they added another Opera House show later, after I had already arranged everything…I could have paid some extra to stay on I guess but once you add airfares, accommodation, airport carparking fees, train tickets, meals…and for 2…well the budget unfortunately won out.

We missed the start of the Sydney gig.  Apparently 8pm on tickets in Sydney has nothing to do with what time the doors open, as it does in Melbourne.  Their performance was stunning and I quickly forgot my disappointment of being let in late.  I was mesmerised throughout much of the performance, which to tell you the truth, is one of the things that draws me to DCD.  To see a performance in a room that is built with acoustics in mind is another plus that can never be underestimated.  While we can never do away with the atmosphere generated in the square rooms of pubs and cafes, they would never be able to compete sonically with a venue of the Opera House’s calibre.

So back to work on the Tuesday to an almost deserted office.  The majority of my colleagues had travelled to New York for business.  I knew the dates were going to clash when I heard it was coming up, but I could not fail to experience DCD live.  There was plenty for me to do at work.  It was kinda lucky for some of my clients that I was available and not overseas.
Wednesday night came around very quickly and I was at The Palais in St Kilda to see DCD again!  Although they played the same set, although the sound was bouncing around in a squarish room; I once again found myself being lost in the moment.  Lisa Gerrard‘s voice doesn’t require a language beyond emotion and Brendan Perry‘s baritone pulls you in without a thought.

So now to the weekend…Sunday is a day for me to give blood (you should organise to do it too!) and then onto the Darebin Songwriters Guild Meeting to play some songs.  It’s open to the public and the entry fee is by donation.  I’m looking forward to meeting some new friends there…and some familiars ones when you arrive.
Now…what songs to play…?

Jan 2013

Here is a list of some of the albums that I’ve been listening to over the last few weeks…in no particular order…

  • Dead Can Dance – Anastasis
  • Dead Can Dance – Spiritchaser
  • Brendan Perry – Ark
  • The Decemberists – The Crane Wife
  • The Decemberists – The King is Dead
  • Low – The Great Destroyer
  • How To Destroy Angels – An Omen
  • Ozzy Osbourne – Tribute
  • Dax Riggs – We Sing of Only Blood and Love
  • David Gray – White Ladder
  • Townes Van Zandt – Delta Momma Blues
  • Steven Wilson – Grace For Drowning
  • Opeth – Heritage
  • Moab – Ab Ovo
  • Katatonia – Dead End Kings
  • Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell