Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cuttin' Loose

Video time!  Turns out that these days, all you really need is an iPhone.  And maybe some video editing software like iMovie to make yourself a trailer.  We snuck ourselves into an undisclosed alley (our filming studio) in South Minnie.  Snow flurries were just starting to fall; it was cold.  

Dan got himself into my wedding suit jacket and donned Jake's Mad Men hat (Dan doesn't have clothes of his own).  Then pulled out a cigar and mournfully whistled (just like the devil himself)!

And so we provided a sneak peak of the music from our song Wall Street which had recently gotten a shiny new organ part courtesy of the unflappable Jon Schmig.  We had to track Jon separately at his practice setup with the group Dallas Orbiter, but my Focusrite Saffire was more than capable to record his synth.

He played along with our mix probably three times and was set to go.  I was excited to work with him and he talked me into finding an accordion for him.  We procured a loaner from the Hummingbirds and ran him through a few tunes.  The guys liked the new twist.  He would join us for Happy Folkin' New Year despite practicing with us for less than a month!!

From this point on there wasn't much else to do.  We had practice, not much because of Christmas.  I had been in touch with John Peters for quite some time regarding the live recording of Happy Folkin' New Year.  He was ready to go and I knew he'd do a quality job!

The only thing left to do was watch my Badgers lose on New Year's Day, eat sausage and sauerkraut (New Year's tradition in my house) and fold cds up into quaint little paper bag packages.

Origami 2013!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Hard Part..?

Graphics - check
Songs - check
Happy Folkin' New Year date - check
Leeroy Jenkins!!! - check

Record and do it quick.  We went into the day with five songs prepared.  We'd worked out our harmonies, and made a few changes.  Instrumentation was ready to go.

Diamond Jack was also... ready to go:

The TOUGHEST part of recording live is if you or your band is unprepared for recording.  That can be awkward mostly because it becomes a waste of time for you, your band, and a good sound engineer.

We had a couple of things going our way.

1. We had been playing these songs forever - by that I mean about a year.
2. There wasn't much to lose besides the money for recording.
3. We were all pretty excited to be going in and doing a live recording session.
4. We had a good sound engineer.

I had my fill of individual tracking from my first album and I believe it has a place in recorded music, but the Folk 'n' Thieves were going to be live.  There was (and is currently) no other way for us.  Too long to track individuals, not enough money, and there is a liveliness to recording that's done in the moment.  No time to obsess endlessly over parts.

So we set up microphones with Ryan Worthman of RisingSide!  He kept the session energetic and light.  We spent time joking between botched tracks and good takes.  Ryan laughed at Jake's jokes. Played each track once, twice, three times.  When we we all looked up after a take and nodded, we knew we had what we wanted.  Move to the next take.  (That happened most of the time.)

Starting around 10am and finishing around 1pm completely blew my expectations out of the water.  My fingers were raw, but we left the studio feeling pretty proud and excited.  Kicked back at Anchor Fish 'n' Chips (very near the site of Happy Folkin' New Year) for a beer and some burger.  Talked shop.

The brainstorm session was fruitful, a movie trailer with organ... was born.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cookin' an EP with the Folk 'n' Thieves

Cookin' up the latest EP release from the Folk 'n' Thieves has had its fair share of 'seat of your pants' moments!  Happy Folkin' New Year (as an idea) was on the books since October.  Inspired by a trip to the North Shore for a wedding (aided by whitefish, dandelion wine, cigars, and fresh pressed cider), we dared ourselves to get an EP together before the New Year struck!  No sweat right?

We needed songs (check), a bit of practice (check), a sound engineer, graphics, a venue to release it (check-- 331 Club...yes!!), and a finished product.  Oh...and a band of willing participants.

Start the whole thing out with a band discussion--questions about moving forward.  Could we make the EP happen?  What was the point?  How much $$$?  What bands would share the spoils of Happy Folkin' New Year?  Who would record us?  What's the square root of 8,000,651?  etc.

 --- And the result? ---

Well, one thing's for sure, Folk 'n' Thieves has been a ragtag combination of musicians and songwriters perty much from the beginning.  The structure is loose in terms of who/when performances happen (at least that is the trend).

So naturally, heading into the project, yet sticking to our formula, we lost a member of the band (banjo) and picked up a substitute/potential new member (organ/accordion) later in the project!

At some point, the decision on the EP came down to what many earth shattering decisions in life come down to:            

--------'Why the hell not?!?  (pardon my french) Let's do this!!'--------

     Our graphic man from the get-go, Jeffrey Nelson, had been feeding us great graphics for a time.  We figured we had those in the proverbial grocery bag (read on).

Self-releasing an EP isn't too grand of an idea as long as you can figure out how to get graphics on a cd.  Memorex CD Labels work great. So do nicely folded grocery bags and some sort of graphic/photoshop program.  Me?  I use GIMP.

To be continued...