Hocus Pocus

Posted: June 6, 2012 in Audio, Music
Tags: , , , ,

It isn’t common to come across a song that is different from the rest. While yes, songs have their own identity, most of them follow a certain formula. Older songs have less of that, but it is still there to a point. Every now and then you come across something that doesn’t follow that. Let me tell you a story about a song that I only recently came across (although it’s been around since the ’70’s) that changed my perspective a little bit.

It all started one day when I was heading to the studio. It was snowing heavily and I had to walk through 3 feet of snow, uphill, both ways. Oh wait, this isn’t a story about my parents and their tough childhood. Sorry, I was confused. Let me start over.

It all started one day when I was heading to the studio. I had the windows down as usual, and I was listening to the radio. (There are two classic rock stations in LA that are awesome. It’s the first time since elementary school that I’ve actually used the FM radio function in a vehicle. Prior to that, it was CD’s only.) A song started playing and immediately the cool guitars got my ears to perk up. Then the drum solo came in and I really started getting into it. But then I heard something that made me cock my head to the side. I just had to turn it up to see what was going on….

As I listened, I had to look outside my window to make sure I wasn’t in the Alps, and luckily the Hollywood transvestites roaming the streets that afternoon confirmed that. As far as I know, the Alps don’t have transvestites, but then again I didn’t pay much attention in history class, so I may be wrong. (Would they actually teach about transvestites in history class? Would transvestites in the Alps actually be a topic in a history class? Maybe I didn’t pay much attention in school in general….) Either way, I went with my gut instinct and determined that I was, in fact, still in Hollywood.

You’re probably wondering why I had to question my whereabouts. No, I was not on drugs. Not good ones at least. What peaked my interest was the yodeling that was coming from my speakers. Yes, that kind of yodeling. The ridiculous, haphazard yodeling that us Californians only hear about, but never actually experience. I listened on……

More guitars, more drums, more yodeling. But what happened next really threw me for a loop.

Enter some chipmunk-style, fast-paced, sophisticated language that us Americans know as gibberish. Good old, random-ass gibberish. At this point I really wasn’t sure what was going on, but I did know that whatever it was, I LIKED IT.

Soon, there were accordions, organs, whistles, audience cheers and yelling flooding my truck. This song was literally turning into a cluster-fuck. And it was nothing short of fucking awesome. (And not for lack of a better term, fucking awesome pretty much sums it right up. 🙂 )

Hocus Pocus by Focus (the fact that they rhymed the song with the name of their group makes me love them even more) is a rondo tune that breaks the “rules of rock” and does something that most bands are extremely afraid of doing. They took a risk. They did something DIFFERENT. Not different like every other band, different as in nobody else was doing anything even remotely close to it.

Odd panning, random solos, and a massive amount of energy go in and out of this song like a dog that can’t make up his mind. There is even some clearly obvious mic overloading. And guess what? It’s cool! It’s raw, it’s real and it is so far from being perfect, that it actually provides some emotion. (Who’dathunkit?) It made me look at music a little bit differently that day. All of these rules and formulas that we all believe have to be followed, don’t. It doesn’t mean they always need to be broken, but sometimes the broken rules provide the outline for a masterpiece.

Some may argue that this song isn’t a masterpiece, but for me, it’s a game changer. It is a great example of just how ridiculous music can be. The song is fun, it holds humor, it confuses me, yet it somehow reminds me that in music, and life in general, stepping outside of the box is perfectly okay. It is a song that brings out the free spirit. My interpretation of the song is: “this is crazy, random and probably not right by the standards of rock, but we don’t care because it sounds cool so we’re doing it anyways. Have fun and enjoy the ride.”

Instead of listening to my opinion on it (although I appreciate you reading, Mom), have a listen for yourself. Take a moment and let your guard down. This song will surely allow you to get in that mindset. Enjoy.

Side note: After writing this, I learned from Thijs van Leer (lead singer for Focus) that Yodeling actually comes from Central Africa and India, but everyone thinks it comes from the Alps.

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Recording can be quite tricky at times. It is both a skill and an art and so much can go wrong, both technically and artistically. I know some will argue that you can’t go “wrong” when you’re dealing with something so subjective as art, but if you’re recording a rock band as if it were an orchestra, you’re gonna have problems.

On another note, there are many simple things you can do to ensure a higher quality in what you’re doing. It isn’t rocket science, and it can take your session from mediocre to great with little to no effort.

I put together a list of five ways you can take your next recording session to 11:

Without further adieu…….

Numero 5

5. Have water on hand. I know this sounds idiot proof, but try recording a singer with a dry throat and pallet. It isn’t fun and it is sure to set a mood. (Not a good one, by the way.) Musicians also get testy when they’re thirsty. It’s under $5 for a case of water. Save yourself the headache.

Four

4. Headphone mixes. Before you make your own mix, make theirs. It’s not easy to listen back to something when you have a guitarist complaining that he can’t hear any guitars. Yes, even when the guitars are making your ears bleed, it’s still not enough. Take the extra minute or two to give the musicians a mix that they like. If you’re short on headphone mixes, give your monitor mix away. It’s not ideal, but again, it’s better than having a level monitor mix with whining musicians.

The Third One

3. Check your gain structure. Do it twice. I promise nobody will find out if you’re naughty or nice. (I’m sorry, I went there. Please keep supporting my blog even though I’m a complete cornball.) Even when you tell the drummer to play as hard as he’s going to play in the tune you’re recording, chances are he’s not. Make sure you’ve got enough head room in all of your gain stages. This means check your mics, pre-amps, compressors, and any other gear you’re using. I promise it’s better to take the time to double or triple check than it is to try to fix a clip. Notice I used the word “try”. You will not be able to fix a clip, you will just sit there trying. Don’t waste your time.

2

2. Make sure the musicians are comfortable. Honestly, this is a big one. If a musician isn’t feeling 100% in their zone, you may end up spending a lot longer getting performances and doing multiple takes. Whether it means turning off the light in the vocal booth, getting guests out of the room, finding a better chair for someone to sit on, or helping an artist channel the mood they were in when they wrote the song, do whatever it takes. It will make your session run much more smoothly and the musicians will feel better. Better feeling musicians=Better playing musicians. Trust me.

And the number 1 tip…..

NUMBER ONE

1. Don’t be afraid to swap out gear. This includes microphones,pre amps, compressors, other outboard gear, and even instruments (depending on what you have available). We’ve all been in a position where we put up a mic, listened back, and just didn’t feel great about it. You have two options in this situation.

a) Proceed forward with what you’ve got, telling yourself that you will try to make it sound more in tune with what you’re going for after the fact.

b) Change out gear to get the sound you’re looking for at the source.

I think it’s pretty obvious that option b is the better one. Why take a satisfactory sound when you know you can get a better one? Sadly, it happens pretty often. Yes, it’s going to take some extra time. Many times, the clock is ticking and time is of the essence. However, it’s okay to explain to your client that you are simply looking to capture a better sound and that it will ultimately make their music sound much better. Most won’t argue that. If they do grumble about it, you’ll have to use your judgment and take it on a case by case basis. Regardless, at least put the option out there or better yet, just do it. Chances are, they won’t even notice.

So there you have it. All of the above are very easy things you can do to make your recording sessions more productive, timely and most importantly: sound better. While the technical aspects of a recording session are extremely important, often times it’s the little things that can turn a good session into a great one.

What are some tips that you use to make your recording sessions run better? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

In my last post, I alluded, ever so obviously, to the fact that I was embarking on a very big risk. Possibly the biggest risk I’ve taken in my life thus far. Let me give some back story…

My dad was the first person to teach me that if you want something, you have to go get it. It won’t fall into your lap and it isn’t going to come knocking on your door with arms wide open. Although it may seem like that happens to people at times, there is usually a lot of work and planning that goes on behind the scenes. The only time that happens in real life is when the Publisher’s Clearing House people show up at your door step with a handful of multi-colored balloons and a life-size check for a million dollars. (Just curious if anyone actually knows anyone that has won this? I’d love to hear about it! Admittedly, I used to try. 12 year olds can dream!!)

Back to the point I was making, I learned at an early age that I was going to have to work for what I wanted in life. I’ve mentioned before that some people think I live in some type of “fantasy land”. And in all honesty, I do. I believe things that may possibly never even have a chance of coming true are a possibility. And people think I’m nuts.  (Which I don’t get because I am completely, 100%, purely normal…. ;-))

To me, those thoughts are the dangling candy. They are right in front of my face and although they seem slightly out of reach at times, they are always there tempting me. Maybe I will never get the candy, but as long as it’s there, I’m going to keep trying. (What can I say, I have a sweet tooth.) Some people think I’m crazy, but it is that mentality that has pushed me and continues to push me to accomplish my goals and continue setting new ones.

 

Recently, I began getting busier working on recording and mixing projects. I’ve become accustomed to always having at least two jobs, so working at the gym and doing the studio stuff on the side seemed very normal to me. A series of recent events led me to start wondering what would happen if I took the 25 hours I put in at the gym every week and dedicated that time to growing my business as an engineer. I sat on this idea for about a week (which in Lizzio’s impatient life, this is about 8 years) and finally came up with a game plan.

I woke up last Monday, headed to work at the gym, and quit. As I mentioned in my last post, the studio gig isn’t a guaranteed income. If there are no projects, there is no money. As I also mentioned in my last post, LA happens to be one of the most expensive cities in the U.S. to live in. You can see why this decision was one that has the potential to break me and either

a) make me homeless

b) make me get another part time job

c) force me to move back home to AZ

None of those options work for me and I am determined to not have to succumb to any of them. This is where the work horse in me comes alive. While it is scary, it is just as much thrilling. My career and income are based solely on me now. I don’t have the crutch of a steady income to support me when business is slow. And I couldn’t be more excited to take on this challenge.

My brain is working in full gear and I am ready to evolve. For the first time in my life, I have just one, single job. A passion that has become my career. One more reason for me to wake up every day with a smile and know that I get to do what I love.

Follow me along as I update this blog with my work. Also, my website is now up and running!

Check me out at http://www.lizziointhestudio.com

 

I spent the first 23 years of my life within the same 25 mile radius. The same people, same roads, same routine. The more I started travelling, the more I started realizing that Phoenix, Arizona wasn’t the place for me anymore. Although I can appreciate it and do miss some aspects (parking lots, not losing a race with a pedestrian, paying more for rent on a closet sized apartment than most pay for a mortgage on a 4 bedroom house, parking lots…did I mention parking lots? ), I grew out of it. I’m hyper, fast-paced, impatient and like to push myself to the limits. Arizona is slow, calm, and HOT.

One of my frequent weekend trips was to the LA area. My brother and former roommate were living there at the time, and I had a few friends who were equally as attracted to the city as I was. It made finding road trip buddies easy. Eventually it started to feel like home to me. As I’d make my way on to the last leg of the I-10 and start seeing the downtown buildings, a calm would come over me. Everything about this place just felt right. With that, I made the decision to move as soon as I was finished with school.

Hollywood in particular has always been a vortex for me. Music is what drives me and this town radiates that. The history is astonishing when you think about it. Yes, it’s changed drastically, but so many of the greatest bands in the world started here, including many that inspired me to get into music. The plan was to finish school, find a job out there that would pay my bills, and begin interning at a recording studio.

I finished school on May 12th and was on my way to Cali with a U-Haul behind my truck, driving 45 mph in 65 mph winds on May 15th. My dad was in front of me in his Escalade drinking a cappuccino and coasting at 80 mph. Thank you for the independence lesson here Gregg. 🙂

Anyways, a few months prior to moving, I had reached out to several recording studios in the Hollywood area. I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy to find a gig considering that there are thousands of other people with the same goal in mind. I probably sent out 20 e-mails and got 3-4 responses. Most of the replies stated that I should contact them as the time got closer. I did just that, and heard back from almost none of them. Apparently a lot of people say they’re moving to LA to live their dream. Apparently a lot of people never go. That wasn’t me.

A few weeks before I moved, I got a response from a studio in the heart of Hollywood. I talked to the guy on the phone and he told me what everyone else told me: call me when you get here. I assumed this would be another studio that I never heard from again, but miraculously, I had talked someone into giving me a job……that didn’t pay me anything. Honestly, I couldn’t have been more excited!

I assume most of you are aware that living in LA is…..how shall I put it……expensive as shit! All of my bills were about to double and I didn’t have a job. I had a few leads and a little bit of money saved up, but I knew it wouldn’t last long.

About 3 days before I was to leave, I got a call from the manager at Iron Gym in Santa Monica. She asked me what day I was moving. I told her I’d be there on Saturday, May 15th. On Sunday, May 16th, I found myself waking up to an alarm at 6:15am. I hopped in my truck and headed to my first day of work.

That following Monday, I met with the owner of the recording studio I was going to be interning at. We talked about his goals for the studio and my personal goals, which were to further develop my skills and eventually be running my own sessions. We agreed that I could work with him as much as I wanted and that when the studio was free, I could use it to experiment. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to my new life.

I began working at the studio several times a week. I was surprised by a few things. First off, my education had definitely paid off. I admit, I was nervous walking into a real studio in Hollywood. I remember thinking that maybe I really didn’t know enough to be doing this. Maybe I should go back to school. What if I make a fool out of myself? Then I remembered that I have been making a fool of myself since I was a toddler and I should probably just go for it anyways.

In fact, what I found was that every problem I ran into was something I knew how to fix. The foundation I had built at school had given me the tools I needed to do this for real. It gave me the confidence I needed to keep moving forward.

The second eye-opener was just how different the real studio setting was compared to the school setting. Of course, I had been to real recording sessions prior to this, but never as a first engineer. It was extremely different and continues to be an education in and of itself. It made me realize the importance of both a good education and real life experience. They go hand and hand and are useless without each other. Where the education comes from isn’t important, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a school, but the quality of it is. I was lucky enough to have gone to a school that was run by someone who gave a shit. Thanks Andy!

As time went on, I started really honing in on my skills. Being at the studio almost every day and night allowed me to learn more than I could have ever imagined and in a relatively short time. The more I experimented, the more I started figuring out what I did or didn’t like. I listened to others, watched what they did and why they did it, and then tested it out on my own to see my own personal reaction. Yes I’m a nerd and no I don’t need non-prescription nerd glasses to prove it like every other person in LA County. Especially because they wouldn’t do my blind eyes any good. Good thing I work with sound and not sight….

Eventually, I started to pick up my own recording sessions and could actually start to call my internship a job (although my “job” happens to be one of my passions). It always feels good to get paid, but when you get paid to do something that you’d otherwise do just for fun, it feels really good. 

So here I am, coming up on one year in LA. The time has literally flown by. Time goes exponentially fast in Los Angeles. I’ve been privileged enough to work with some extremely talented musicians such as Gary Mallaber (Steve Miller Band) , Marlo Henderson (Michael Jackson), Bonnie Pointer (Pointer Sisters) and Bernie Dresel (Family Guy, American Dad) to name a few. I’m building my own clientele, have repeat clients and creating a career for myself. I’m continuing to experiment and learning as much as I can along the way. It’s fun to feel myself growing as an engineer and to actually notice that I’m getting better. I still have far less experience and knowledge as some of the greats, still have my moments of “what the hell am I doing?” , but overall I’m working towards my goals and will never stop.

While many people sit on Facebook thinking my life is all peaches and creme, the music business doesn’t come without problems (understatement much?). This business is full of ups and downs, ebb and flow. As an engineer, you can be booked solid for weeks straight, and then the phone stops ringing. People make a lot of empty promises, they’re selfish, and they just don’t give a shit most of the time.  It is frustrating, scary, and completely unsettling.  I’ve hit several road blocks both with people, and myself. The important thing to remember is that there is always a way around the road block, you just have to figure out what method it’s going to take.

Even with those uncertainties, I can honestly say that each day I walk into the studio, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I often feel like I should pinch myself because I must be stuck in a dream. In fact, this is my life. I get to be creative, I get to work with different people, different music, and different instruments. If I don’t like something, I have the ability to change it. I feel that I’m surrounded by several like-minded people and although most know me as a pretty outgoing person who gets along with everyone, I finally feel like I fit in here (which is kind of scary if you think about it).

In my next post, I’ll fill you in on the changes I’m about to embark on. I’m about to take one of the biggest risks of my life….

Here’s to hoping I get the cheese…..

There’s something to be said about things moving quickly. It seems as though no matter what we are doing, we’re trying to do it in a speedy manner. The advancement of technology is growing exponentially faster as time goes on, driving to our destinations is typically a race with ourselves even when it doesn’t need to be, finishing projects we’ve started is a task to be done as timely as possible. After all, not one of us is guaranteed any time on this planet so we might as well get as much done as we can. But what are we losing by living with that mentality?

When my grandparents were kids, it wasn’t uncommon to pull up to a gas station, be greeted by an attendant, have your gas tank filled, windshield washed and tire pressure checked. That was the norm, and there wasn’t an extra charge for it. When you walked into a store, you were most likely greeted by name and asked how your day was. If they didn’t know you, there’s a good chance they’d introduce themselves and try to find out a little bit about you as well. When you bought a piece of furniture, it was pretty likely that it was built by hand and checked over several times before being sold. There’s a reason that today we still have furniture that has been passed down from generation to generation. If your Ikea coffee table lasts more than 5 years, I’ll be pretty impressed. Over the years, a shift has happened.  Somewhere along the way, we got smart. We realized that we could accomplish things much more efficiently by getting rid of the extras. Technology began evolving more and more and we were even able to cut out the middle man and have a computer do a human’s job. Sounds pretty good right?

Today, when you buy a laptop, you know in the back of your head that you will only have it for one or two years. While you may just want the latest and greatest piece of technology that comes out the next year, the odds of you actually having a choice and it lasting much longer than that without having some type of problem that needs to be fixed, are slim to none.

We are living in a society with many more luxuries than any previous generation could have even imagined. Hell, you can order a pizza and TRACK where it is up until the moment your doorbell rings. Of course, the pizza’s probably going to be made of styrofoam and laden with as many chemicals as your pool. Actually I take that back, your pool probably has less chemicals.

What once took a great deal of education to accomplish, is now being taught on YouTube in under 5 minutes by a 35 year old dude that still lives in his parent’s basement. Don’t misunderstand me, that doesn’t mean you actually CAN learn how to become an expert at something via YouTube, but try telling that to the “recording engineer” that bought a laptop and Pro Tools and suddenly became the world’s top producer. It’s interesting because I didn’t realize that you could be a top producer and still be living in your parent’s basement at 35. I’m doing it wrong.

It seems that the progress we make with technology keeps taking us further away from real, raw talent. I feel bad for the next few generations. Something really important is going to break and not a damn soul is going to know how to fix it. I really hope it’s not YouTube.  How would anyone know how to fix it without a YouTube video?

The state of the economy has brought on even more problems. With a lack of stimulus in the economy, businesses and industries have lowered their prices. In an attempt to make up for this loss in revenue, there is an urge to get things done more quickly and with less man power. Steps taken to ensure a quality product are being cut down to their bare minimum and in turn, we are allowing piss-poor performance to become acceptable. The slow economy is everyone’s cop out and to be quite honest? It’s pathetic. 

When did “good enough” become the goal to strive for? Why do consumers accept the fact that what we are purchasing, whether it be an item or a service, can be “just okay.” I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard a little kid say that they want to become the most average baseball player in the world. If your kid says that, you should punch yourself in the face for being a terrible parent.

I’m gonna go ahead and call it like it is: laziness. People are becoming lazy as shit. We’ve come so far with technology that there is basically some type of gadget for everything we do. I mean, god forbid you don’t have a Kindle.  If you’re an unlucky soul like myself that has to physically turn the page, make sure you stretch and warm-up first so you don’t pull a muscle.

As it relates to music and recording, I could probably rant all day about it. I’ve barely even gotten my toes wet in this industry and I’ve definitely seen a side of the business that I didn’t expect. I finished school a mere 8 months ago, but thanks to good teachers and some great mentors, I’ve been lucky enough to learn how important the quality of your work is. I may not be as talented and know as many tricks as some of the top engineers (yet ;-)), but I can tell you this: I don’t produce poor quality ANYTHING and I never stop trying to learn. You will never hear a track with unintentional pops and distortion by me and if you do, you can bet I’ll be back in the studio to re-record it. Notice I didn’t say “fix it.” That’s another lazy tactic that people think is just as good. Newsflash: It’s not.

These teachings of quality were solidified almost immediately when I moved to LA. I’ve listened to recordings done by engineers that have been in the biz for 10-20+ years. A lot of times I’m blown away by it in a great way. But to be honest, I’m surprised at how often I’m completely disappointed and appalled.  Let’s just say my initial reaction to some of the recordings I’ve heard have been “Really? You’ve been doing this for 15 years and it still sounds like you were lighting fireworks while you recorded it?”

The scary thing about this scenario is that nobody seems to care. Everyone seems to have an excuse for why they are putting out less-than-optimal quality work and when confronted, just seem to pawn it off on something or someone else. I may not be able to change that mentality, but I can at least bring awareness to it. If it helps, bring yourself back to the days when your dreams were completely reachable. At the age of 5, you were 100% positive that you would become the best at whatever you wanted to do. Whether that was a firefighter, a bus driver, or a musician, you KNEW you would be the best at it. As we age, we tend to lose that fantasy mentality. I’ll be honest, I still live in my fantasy life. Maybe that’s weird or unrealistic, but it keeps me pushing forward to become the best at what I do. It keeps me learning, trying, experimenting, and exposing myself to anything and everything that can make me better. Most importantly, it reminds me how important the quality of my work is.

Whether you’re a cashier at Target or an executive at a Fortune 500 company, make your worth prevalent. We may not notice how lack-luster the quality of our products or services are, but I can guarantee that exceptional quality NEVER goes unnoticed.

There’s nothing quite like listening to a great song that was recorded, mixed, and mastered really well. The moment the music hits your ears, you start to get chills and your adrenaline starts pumping. It’s the sign of something amazing and is why I got into this business in the first place. But regardless, there is something about a live performance that just cannot be mimicked. No matter how technologically advanced our world becomes, a live performance will never be replaced by robots. And if it is, remind me to cut vertically.

When what you’re seeing, hearing and feeling all connect, it is a sensation that cannot be confused with any other. The lights, the sound, and the vibrations throughout the room is what gets your blood moving and your body rockin’. I go to a lot of concerts and while many of them are really good, there have only been a select few that stand out as great.

I have compiled the top 5 bands that you MUST see live in my humble opinion. Regardless of what type of music you listen to, these are all around spectacular performers and musicians. I can’t forget about the behind-the-scenes guys either. Some of these bands have done such a fantastic job in hiring the perfect lighting and sound person for their gigs. It makes such a difference in the overall entertainment aspect.

Without further ado……

5. Incubus

I had to rack my brain a little bit for the number 5 spot. There are several bands that could be here, but I finally settled on Incubus. Brandon Boyd is probably one of my favorite vocalists. His lyrics are actually meaningful, thought-provoking and comforting, his voice is amazing, and his emotion is completely exposed when he performs. To add to the mix, bassist, Ben Kenney and guitarist Mike Einziger are  two of the most talented musicians I’ve ever heard. As a whole, Incubus really puts on a show. I’m not sure that their newest music is my favorite, but they always play the classics at their concerts so it is definitely a performance you won’t want to miss.

4. 10 Years

This is a band that I listened to in high school and somewhat forgot about. But last November I went to a Sevendust show in Anaheim that they happened to be playing. I wanted to watch them play since I hadn’t heard them in so long, and they ended up totally stealing the show (love my Sevendust boys and they killed it as well). Their presence on stage really ramped up the enjoyment factor, but what really caught my eye was the man behind the drums. Matt Brown is a hard hitting, very talented drummer and he really brought the dynamics of the band together. I ended up seeing them again in Tempe, AZ in March and they left the same impression as they did in Anaheim. The band is on tour now, so check to see if they’re coming to a venue near you!

3. RX Bandits

A punk band at heart, the RX Bandits have a way of combining rock, blues, and even some Latin flavor to their music. The use of horns is another factor that sets them apart from others. I listened to these guys when I was in middle school and high school, but didn’t get into them again until a few years ago. A friend of mine had told me that they were playing a two night sweep in Tempe, AZ and that I had to check them out. Their albums are very instrumentally huge and I wasn’t about to pass up seeing how well they could transfer that to the stage. To sum it up, I ended up going to both shows. Vocalist/guitarist Matt Embree shows his talent and passion for what he does and the rest of the band speaks to the crowd with their instruments. I’m not sure how much longer these guys will keep playing shows, but I see they’ve been playing in Southern California quite a bit lately. Make a point to check them out if you know what’s good for you. 😉

2. Eric McFadden Trio

I’m guessing you’ve never heard of this band. I hadn’t either until recently. I went to visit my aunt in San Francisco last month, and she happens to be a big music fan as well. She had been raving about this guy Eric McFadden who was supposedly a mind-blowing guitarist and told me we had to go see them that weekend. I was all for it, but little did I know that I’d be seeing some of the greatest talent I’d ever seen or heard.  The Eric McFadden Trio consists of Guitarist/Vocalist Eric McFadden, Upright Bassist James Whiton and Drummer Paulo Baldi. I saw them in downtown San Francisco at the Boom Boom Room and left wondering if any show would ever be able to top what I had just experienced. To put if briefly, Eric McFadden would give Jimi Hendrix a run for his money(bold statement, but valid), James Whiton could walk a dog with his bass alone, and Paulo keeps them going throughout it all. If you are ever in the bay area of northern California, there is a good chance that these guys will be playing somewhere. Do yourself a favor and just GO SEE THEM.

And finally, the number one live band to see……..

1. Korn

I have never been a hardcore Korn fan. I appreciate what they did to music and the influence that they brought to the table. I have always liked their songs, but was never a die-hard like some. However, I had the pleasure of seeing these guys play in Tucson, AZ this past March. To describe the experience is unfair because it doesn’t do it justice. Jonathan Davis rocks out HARD, Ray Luzier is a MONSTER on the drums, and the rest of the band holds their own with a massive stage presence. In addition, I think their lighting engineer was rocking out harder than most of the fans. He had his shirt off and was jumping around so that he could match the music with the lights. Their sound engineer did a fine job of portraying what the band was doing and I literally had chills the entire show.  Whether you’re a Korn fan or not, there is a reason these guys have been playing together for 20+ years. It is WELL worth your money and will leave you with a new appreciation for their music.

 

Who are your favorite bands to see live? I’d love to hear suggestions!

Thought #1: An instrument is only as good as the player behind it.

I don’t care if you have the most kick-ass guitar on the planet, if the person playing it sucks, it’s going to sound like shit.

This leads me to my next thought…

Thought #2: A good player can make Nickelback sound like a real band. Wait no, that’s not possible. Let me try again. A good player can take trash cans and turn ’em into a good sounding drum set. (Just ask Steve Smith)

My point is this: Don’t come waltzing into the studio, talking about how great you are, and then start complaining that if only you had the Gibson Les Paul Model POS834 Made in Japan on August 14th 1976 by Johnny Tsunami that THEN you’d sound better. How about spend less time stroking your ego, and more time practicing your instrument? Just a thought. 😉