The “P” word… Practice.

bass-guitar-lessonsEeeeek! Practice??

Allow me to lay some groundwork as to exactly what I’m referring to here. Practice as a word seems obvious, spend some time with your instrument to get better at it. This is absolutely correct and good on those who employ regular practice routines. If you’re a member of a group of any kind, the act of practicing has far more impact than your personal level of ability. Lately I’ve put more onus on my personal practice time as I feel I’ve understated it’s importance for more than just playing my part correctly.

Being a musician is great! You get to hang out in clubs with like-minded folks and sometimes get up on stage and strut your stuff in front of everyone. For that 45 minutes or 2 + hours, you’re in the spotlight. It’s a great feeling and one that isn’t matched by many other activities I can think of. Now let’s take a minute and think about the road to get there. How many hours do you think I’ve spent in my bedroom, friend’s house, band house or work space (yes I bring my bass to work with me) Practicing songs before I’ve ever played live? It would be impossible of me to provide and accurate figure but I can say it felt like forever! So, it would be prudent of me to maintain a particularly regimented practice schedule if I expect to hold on to these “chops” to not only continue to do what I love at the highest level of my ability, but also to improve to make what I help create better for those who dig what we’re creating as a band. Segue, this band is a joy to work with… point blank… 5 guys without, I’ll stress without, egos who all firmly believe the song should come first. If a bass line I’ve worked on for 3 hours sounds great but interferes with the vocal melody, it gets changed. If Scott’s solo doesn’t have the emotion the song needs, it gets changed… and we’ll all work on it together. After which, we go home and practice the hell out of it to be ready for the next rehearsal. I personally feel like I would be letting my band mates down if I didn’t show up prepared. These guys are great musicians whom I have a high level of respect for, so I owe it to them, not only myself to be prepared.

I know I’ve gotten a little side tracked here but all of this is to say, I’m shocked when I hear or notice anyone take offence at the notion of individual practice. Are you indicating that you’ve reached your plateau? Everyone needs to practice. It doesn’t just mean improvement, it means something far more important than improving, it means consistency. Consistency is also a major factor in what separates a good band from a Great one. If you are involved with a group of people who congregate on a regular basis with the expressed purpose to play music together, why would you not be prepared to play the music with them? Especially if they are prepared to play the music with you! This sort of thing drives others crazy and it’s a very easy way to find your invitation rescinded. I’ve been personal witness to people saying “that’s why we get together, to practice”. This statement is incorrect. As a group, active Band or a startup project, you get together to rehearse. These words are perceived as similar but in actuality are incredibly different. You practice the tune on your own time to understand structure and changes and, work on your own part. You rehearse the tune as a band or group to make the tweaks necessary for the song to shine through the way you intended when the writing process began… then you go practice it again with the newly made changes… wash, rinse, repeat until the end result is the very best you can produce. In this electronic world, distance collaboration is a very real thing and if you were involved in a project with someone far enough away that travel was required, how would you feel if you showed up ready to go and someone says, what’s that change in the chorus? It would probably feel like a giant waste of time. That’s an extreme example but the same can be said for any Band or group… if you get together and everyone hasn’t done their own work beforehand, it will feel like a waste of time while you sit there and wait for someone to learn what to play before you can continue as a group.

Bottom line, practice can’t hurt anything. As a string player, it will build strength and dexterity. It will help you get through a set without having to “remember what the next change is”. You will be a lot more comfortable in your performance which to the fan in the audience will be seen as confidence. And, you’ll just feel better about your own playing which at the end of the show, will translate into having more fun. So, give your bandmates the respect they deserve and put the time in…practice practice practice… let that talent shine and know that you’re doing your part to make the band the very best it can be!

Peace, Love, and horn up \m/…\m/

Music, spaning generations.

Ever since I can remember, from my very earliest memories of life in this world, I always remember my father playing a guitar… or singing… or playing drums. Something musical is tied to almost every early childhood memory I can recall. It saddens me I didn’t pick it up earlier in life but I suppose I wasn’t ready till I was I guess.

My father has been playing music for decades before I was born and continues to this day. From a period between 1960-1975 his band actually had quite a lot of success for a band from Halifax… playing with the likes of The Guess Who and Grand Funk Railroad. Playing the old Maple Leaf Gardens to a capacity crowd of close to 20,000. His band, Pepper Tree, was actually the first band to ever play a concert on the hill in Halifax… pretty neat stuff… and some neat stories too ?

Now, all this is in no way an effort to brag about my lineage… it’s just bring to light the history I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of.

If you’ve spent any amount of time on our site or follow our band at all (thanks! btw) you probably are aware we’ve received our shipment of our debut CD that we’re all incredibly proud of… It’s %100 completed in house and it’s something we all take great pride in showing off.

I don’t say it as much as I should I know but, I love my Dad and I just couldn’t wait to show him our first release. I picked up my batch at 6:30pm and by 7:30 I was at my parents place! Of anyone I could want to have “the first copy I give away” I wanted it to be him. He’s been a part of an album release in his career and a few single releases that followed so he knows the feeling… and for the first time in many years, we shared a moment. No words were spoken, just a mutual appreciation for the moment… something words really wouldn’t be able to do much justice anyway. After a minute or two.. and him flipping the CD over a couple times.. he looked up and said “I’m proud of ya buddy”. I know it’s a cheesy but it really hit me.

This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and has brought me closer to my band mates and moreover, my family.

I hope you all enjoy this CD even a fraction as much as I enjoyed being a part of making it.

Joy & Pain – Gear!!

Gear! As a gigging musician it’s something you need to have. From as little and out of thought as a 1ft patch cord, to your live stage amp rig, it will be as much of a necessity to your career as the air your breathe to live. It’s a joy when you get a piece you’ve been wanting for a long time and it’s a pain when it doesn’t work for whatever reason.

Now, gear is a pretty general term so let’s narrow it down to Amps. This has become a sore spot for me of late and, as such, my opinion has varied somewhat. I was always a firm believer in the world of Live Amp Rigs the saying “you get what you pay for” holds merit. I subscribed to that belief whole heartedly from the minute I could identify what was considered higher end. As a player of a stringed instrument, the selection of amplification systems is literally endless and finding the one that fits your sound is, in most cases, a tireless journey. One that when over, is incredibly gratifying!!

I haven’t been playing bass for very long in the grand scheme of things and I feel like I’ve been somewhat fortunate to have had the opportunity to play through a number of different setups. My Favorite to date was the setup I had.. I’ve wanted this amp head since the day it was released and I can’t tell you how excited I was to finally have it in my possession… Gallien-Krueger Fusion 550. It’s a hybrid amp with a tube pre-amp and a solid state power stage. 500watts at 4ohm running into two Traynor TC115 cabinets.. tone heaven! I loved it!! I Still do.. but when the speakers started blowing a total of 3 times enough was enough. After 4 or 5 months of going back and forth to the repair shop I said F’ it and returned the entire setup. Dropped over 2 grand on the gear and never got more than 3 weeks of reliable use out of it at any one time. I’ve read reviews and spec documents, even tried it in store more than once and I was convinced this was going to be the Rig I would use for many years to come. The term disappointed doesn’t even come close!!

So, did I get what I paid for? This is a sole reason my opinion has changed. I also realize in the world of electronics failure is imminent without warning and, one poor experience shouldn’t sum up the whole of a brand. Every brand have manufactured units that just don’t work right.. tis the way of the beast. But, at what point do you say enough is enough and cut your losses?

Here is what I think now: I’m going to get the gear that make me sound the way I want to be heard. If I find that in something that costs less than half of another brands similar offering… so be it! I’m not going to chase the popular vote any longer.



Welcome to my blog

Hey Ya’ll .. I’m going to give this blogging thing a shot.. seems I’m a little late to the game but better late than never right?

Anyway.. check back every now and again for my thoughts, views, experience on just about anything I can think of.. if you have suggestions, fire away!!