New Recording: Is It Safe?

Just in time for winter, I finally finished a rough mix of Is It Safe to Go Outside?.

Musically it’s sort of a power-pop song, but with some clever interplay of parts and a bass line that seems to turn the time around. The song was written by Martin and my version is based on his demo. In fact I kept his original guitar and bass parts. The song has been mostly done for a while, but it took a long time to track the backing vocals and piano parts. My velocity on the recording project is down this year, because first I was finishing my book and then I joined a band was focused on learning new songs and upgrading my gear. Now that’s all done and hopefully progress will level out again. I have a few more mostly finished songs that I hope to polish off soon, and then a few halfway-written ones to dig into in the new year.


Well it finally happened. The electric company came and cut down our sick elm tree the week before Xmas. First time they came around the left the main trunk standing with the major limbs. Next time they came they cut all that down but left a ten-foot high stump and a huge jumble of logs all over the front yard. Apparently the trunk is so massive they need a special machine – basically a combi crane and saw – to hold it while they cut it down. Supposedly they’re coming back this week to finish the job and haul away the wood. Meanwhile our yard is a mess, but in an interesting way. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone. If anyone wants some wood for free, come and get it.

Reindeer Games

Rewinding again to catch you up, and like I said we been busy. Thanksgiving day we woke up and realized for the first time since Labor Day we have a stretch of four or five hours where no one had something they needed to do or anyplace they needed to be. We had TG dinner out on Long Island with family. A very nice day. Next day we declared Slack Friday, in which we all laid around the house and played videogames and that sort of thing, and diligently avoided the mall. Jeannie turned me on to Candy Crush. Finally something useful I can do on my Android thingie.

Last few weeks have been busy at work. Year-end reviews. Planning. Strategic planning, technical planning, roadmaps, many meetings. It looks like the whole middle-tier project is a go. More on that as it unfolds. We’ll be taking the ring to Mordor in a fellowship of nine companions. Hope we don’t run into any spiders.

We only have three weeks between TG and Xmas this year, compressing the whole works. Getting the tree up and all the decorations, doing the cards, shopping for gifts. We’re up to twelve nieces and nephews this year, as well as two wonderful kids, and a wife and siblings and in-laws and everyone else. I guess that’s a blessing if there ever was one. The good news is we figured out good gift ideas for almost everyone by now and have most of them bought.

We’ve gotten snow three times now in the last week, mixed with a bit of sleet and freezing rain. We have a good 6″ on the ground now, maybe more but not yet a foot. Also our front yard is full of giant logs. The tree people finally came to chop down our elm tree, but they only did half the job. They cleared away the minor branches, left all the big limbs on the ground and the trunk is still standing. It’s amazing how tall that tree is. Still over 100 feet without the crown. I wonder if I can sell the wood for lumber.

They’ve been canceling and rescheduling the kid’s event left and right cuz they’re all very skittish about the weather. Up in Buffalo they get three feet of snow and they just carry on, but not down here. Last night Lizzy had her Christmas show, rescheduled from Saturday, with her group Young at Arts. They’re very good and do fairly highbrow stuff like Benjamin Britten and Aaron Copeland, and some pop stuff too. Lizzy is in the a capella group, whose performance of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah was to me the highlight of the show. They had the whole hall spellbound. Michelle was in the Xmas pageant at ICS tonite, which was carols and the nativity story, very warm and festive. Saw lots of friends from school I haven’t seen a while.

Three more days until vacation. One more big demo deadline. We’ve all been extremely busy and can use a break. The big thing I’ve had to let slide is my ongoing recoding project. Over the weekend I finally finished tracking Is It Safe?, adding some backing vocals. I have three songs pretty much ready for mixing: Is It Safe?, Now and Forever, and Black Swan. In addition I have three older songs that I want to tweak/remix: Rocket to the Moon, Sea of Tranquility, and Karn Evil 9, 2nd Impression. This will give me an album side, with the ELP tune as a bonus track. My goal is to have this done by the new year and start in on a batch of new tunes in January.

Relix Rewind

Rewinding a bit, The Relix played two shows the week before Thanksgiving. Both went well and some great moments, but revealed some things we need to work on. For the first show, we had some feedback issues with Lee’s hollowbody and pedalboard interacting with the PA, and some issues with the vocals not being loud enough. Lee’s gonna start bringing his rig to rehearsal rather than use the house setup until he has some better control of his sound. Also we’re gonna do a vocal-only practice soon and set up our PA and see if we can make sound killer or if we should replace it with a newer board with better reverbs. The other issue is we need to figure out how to draw a bigger crowd. The Thanksgiving Eve show was kinda disappointing because we all knew it’s a good bar night, but the weather – freezing rain mixed with snow – kept people away. Still it was a good show on a musical level and a fun time.

Here’s a video montage of the show at Victor’s.

And here’s some pictures, mainly of gig at Seaside.

After Thanksgiving half the band was sick and one guy fell off a ladder putting up Christmas decorations. I’ve been fighting a cold and sore throat on and off. Not enough to knock me out but enough to make my singing kinda croaky. This week we finally got together for a rehearsal. We spent about half the session tightening up endings and transitions, and the rest of the time on new material. We ran down six songs, all of which feel like keepers: Domino by Van Morrison and Touch Me by the Doors were both suggestions of mine. Domino is just a great feelgood song and gives us another horn-oriented 60’s tune while getting away from the Motown thing. Touch Me has some really weird changes when you try to work ‘em out, and one of the all-time classic sax solos. The others were Are You Gonna Be My Girl by Jet, a bit of change of direction for us, and Runaround by Blues Traveler, which has a great harp part for Paul, and Devil With the Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly, which is right in our core zone.

Origami Animal Sculptures Pre-Order

Yikes! It’s mid-December already. Winter has come. Earlier this week we got our first real snowfall and today the first snow that stuck around for more than a few hours. Both kids had a snow day and I worked from home and tried to catch up on a few random tasks. It snowed again today and we’re fairly settled in under a blanket of white.

We’ve been really busy over here. I hope to catch y’all up in the next few posts. For now the news us you can now pre-order my book, Origami Animal Sculptures from Amazon and from B&N as well as from Tuttle. I’ve updated my web site with new links here and here too:

In related news, I got back a second proof of the book from my publisher and they implemented most of my recommended changes for typography and layout. We’re just haggling over the last few details. Hope to be done with that soon.