Saturday, October 6, 2007

New video on Youtube; another jam session hopefully happening tonight

With tomorrow full of extravagant plans involving the Patriots and Red Sox, tonight is the last night of this weekend where we can jam. Last night, the Tremont boys had a little party, and for about 20 minutes I jammed some A blues with James on bass and his brother's friend Amary on drums. Amary was an amazing drummer, he seemed to be mostly educated in jazz styles. I was pretty much in the zone while we played, so I couldn't really tell how we sounded, but just about everyone said we sounded great. Finally got to try out my new footswitch, and it works just like I expected. Jamming will be a lot easier from here on out.

I've uploaded a new video of myself onto Youtube. It'll make its way on Facebook soon as well. I'm playing the same song I played in my first Youtube video, "Castles Made of Sand" by Jimi Hendrix, but this time I'm playing it on my own, and I got multiple tries at it. This version sounds about 100x better than the first on guitar. I added in synthetic drums, bass and a solo afterwards. I used Cakewalk Guitar Tracks Pro to record the music, and the video came from my digital camera, which would explain the quality of the audio far surpassing that of the video. The audio is what's really important to me, but I did want everyone to know I actually played this! I had to use Windows Movie Maker to make the final video, and syncing the audio with the video wasn't nearly as hard as I expected. Since it was so easy, you can expect me to make a lot more of these videos in the future. For now, I only have this one:

Hope you liked it! The only part missing is vocals, which I could have done separately but didn't bother. There's no way I've mastered the song enough to play the semi-complicated riffs during the verse and sing at the same time.

Jimi Hendrix is probably my favorite guitar player, so I plan on covering some of his other stuff. I won't go overboard, because it's pretty much impossible to duplicate his sound, but I enjoy playing his songs so much I can't resist doing a few more. Until next time...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Some off-topic stuff; excited about the new Coen brothers movie!

I'm sitting here in the office of the Disability Resource Center as the day, and my work week, is winding down...With about 30 minutes left and not much business around here I have some time to post about some things on my mind. As far as jam sessions on Tremont go, they got a lot better and easier today when my footswitch for my amp arrived in the mail. Now I can change my guitar tone on the fly! It's made playing a TON of different songs a lot easier for me. It only cost me $30 too; there's expanded versions that go for as much as $120.

You wouldn't know it at all about me from reading this blog, but I am a huge film geek. I own about 200 DVDs and that list continues to grow. I can be analytical about films and dissect their true meanings (I am a dual major of cinema studies in addition to journalism), but I can also sit back, eat some popcorn and enjoy a movie too. Case in point: Fargo and Finding Nemo are right next to each other on my DVD rack.

Speaking of Fargo, the Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan) have always been one of my favorite directors. I like to refer to them as one "two-headed" director, which they have been called in the past, because they are always working with each other. Their films always have a quirky quality to them, which I appreciate a lot. It's rare these days for filmmakers to make anything that doesn't look like it came out of some factory in Hollywood. There's other American auteurs who have similar qualities in their films, like Quentin Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese and Woody Allen (the latter two obviously have been doing it for much longer though). I haven't been a fan, however, of the latest efforts from the Coens. They seem more like cheap ripoffs of Coen movies than the real thing. Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers certainly had the star power and the style, they just lacked the substance of earlier Coen classics like Fargo or Blood Simple. I'm thrilled to say they may be finally returning to form with No Country for Old Men, which is due out in November.

From the reviews I've read, it's a mesmerizing thriller that starts and ends with the performances from the stars, none of which are Coen regulars. Javier Bardem is generating tremendous buzz for his performance as the villain Anton Chigurh; this could be his long-awaited Oscar. And from the clips I've seen, it looks to be just what people are saying it is, while keeping the same crisp, edgy dialogue the Coens are known for as well as a little bit of black humor. I don't expect much, because "gritty", "dark" and "visceral" are the words most commonly used to describe the picture. With my top two all-time films being Pulp Fiction and Goodfellas, this seems like a movie right up my alley! I can only sit and wait at this point, and hope that this movie becomes another all-time favorite of mine (the last film to do so was The Departed, and Lord of the Rings before that).

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

First official video; fun 2-man jam session

Last night's jam session was only myself and Justin switching off. James and Tyler had schoolwork to do, which is understandable. School always comes first. I've uploaded a video of myself playing Jimi Hendrix's "Castles Made of Sand" with Justin on drums. I apologize for the subpar video quality, but this was recorded on an old digital camera. The audio was a lot better than I was expecting. I actually hopped on drums for the first part of the jam, but Justin and I eventually switched. I might have a video of myself on drums, but I'm not sure. "Castles" sounded pretty good overall in my opinion, but I have played that song much better before. I botch the intro, and the main riff a couple times, but not a huge deal. I can't even venture to try and decipher the actual solo to the song (which is played normally then looped backwards onto the actual track), that's a project for down the road. I simply used James' audio looping machine (not even sure what it's called) to loop a G minor chord so I could play some G blues. I'm used to A blues so I get messed up a few times, but a solid improvisation in my opinion. If the video below doesn't work, the video can be found on Youtube here.

I'll make another post once the other videos are uploaded. Here's another shameless plug by me, it's for Mike T., our piano player. He put his first video up on Youtube, and it's an excellent piece put together by Mike himself. He wants to make it into an actual song, but I think it works well on its own. We'll see what happens with it. You can see his video here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

New audio demo; hopefully a jam session happening tonight!

Monday wasn't a good day for jamming. The Patriots are always first priority when they are playing, no matter what. We ran out of time to jam Monday night, and we're all usually tired by the end of the day anyway on Monday. Hopefully tonight Justin and/or James will agree to have a session, because my new footswitch arrived in the mail today! Now I can change my guitar tone in the middle of playing, something that is very important for a lot of songs.

I have a demo of a new song I've written available here (please let me know in the comments if it doesn't work; it's uploaded to Northeastern's MyNEU server so you might need authorization). It's a pretty basic rock n' roll song when it comes down to it, but there is a bit more complexity in it then the genres I'm covering. The first minute and a half builds to the heavy, fun part, and I'm very happy with the solo I put in at the end. It's not a completed song just yet, which is why at the end, it just ends, and there aren't any vocals (or lyrics) yet.

Enjoy the audio sample, and hopefully I'll be posting about our latest jam session very soon!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Busy weekend capped with my 21st birthday!

Sorry for the recent lack of pictures, I've just been forgetting to take it out. I had another busy weekend, including the big 2-1 on Saturday! Friday morning I felt very sick (which will explain why I didn't make class Friday morning, sorry!), but I was able to get home in the afternoon. I drove up to Foxwoods with a friend from home Friday night, and midnight Saturday rolled around right when we got there. I walked into their World Poker Room with $160 and left with $500, so it was a very successful night at the cash game table overall. Winning money made the 2 hour drive home feel a little better. Last night was pretty fun, I bought my first six-pack, a very exciting moment in my life!

Before we went out to a couple parties, I had a pretty fun jam session with Justin and James. The lineup was a little unorthodox: Justin on guitar, James on bass, and myself on DRUMS! It became more of a karaoke session, as we played plenty of easy-to-play covers off the cuff for our friends to sing along to. I had a lot of fun playing drums; I'm nothing special but I can hold a beat.

So all in all it was a very good weekend for me, and I'm hoping to make some real progress music-wise this coming week. I'm hoping for a legit jam session tonight, but since I'm at home right now, I might not be able to make it back in time to play at a decent hour. I'll finally get some videos rolling once we jam again. Until next time...