Jam – 2013-11-21 – Carroll’s

ds131121Being a Thursday night approaching the Thanksgiving Holiday meant it would be difficult to get everyone together for a jam. This week’s odd person out was Scott, with Donna only making for the 1st set.  This left Lee to cannibalize the second unused drum kit in effort to surround himself with as many cymbals as possible. He seemed to accomplish this task yet somehow leaving enough space to peer into the room. Me on the other hand, made a bonehead maneuver when I accidentally packed my Roland Ready Strat into my gig bag instead of my 1979 hard-tailed Strat. This was a bummer when I pulled the guitar out of my bag, because my Roland Ready Strat does not feel as good in my hands as my other one and the sound coming out of the pickups is definitely weaker and more sterile. Once I was at the studio, I had to make the best of it, which I did. I didn’t freak out, I just played it the best I could. The only time to really freak out is at the end of a posting, so Freak Out!

The audio files are provided in the following folder:
http://deadstein.com/audio/11-21-13

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Jam – 2013-10-28 – Carroll’s

ds131028Once again this week we had everyone there to enjoy the festivities that is Deadstein and once again this week I hauled in my multi-track recording outfit to capture the sounds. As I have been mixing the music I haven’t had too much time to stop to write about the evening, and now that it is almost a week past, there is little to remember with the exception of the music which we I dutifully captured and reconstituted for your listening pleasure. Actually, this week there was little to reconstitution and in many respects, this weeks mix down was down much more expeditiously then the recent past. Nevertheless, as usual, the recording quality and capture of the night’s performance is heads and toes above what a stereo mic place in the middle of the studio provides us, so enjoy it.  Though he didn’t play it, Kevin brought in his Fender Starcaster for us to all check out.

In many respects, the songs selection from this weeks is a little of trying to get a few ore more songs that haven’t been recorded on the recent multi-tract deluge as well as getting back into songs that we are bound the repeat. The resultant setlist lacked flow and continuity buy tied up a few ends giving us a pretty open slate going into the final couple of months of the year. Freak from within and from a freak, Freak Out!

kevjazzmaster

The audio files are provided in the following folder:
http://deadstein.com/audio/10-28-13

Jam – 2013-09-12 – Carroll’s

ds130912For the first time in what seems like weeks, we had the whole band together to jam this week in Deadstein together, at least for the first set. By the time the second set began rolling on by, Donna had to catch her train out of Dodge. First the first time in like 5 weeks, I decided to take a week off from multi-track taping as I was falling behind, so I figured, I would leave it up to Rich to record the night’s music. As far as recordings, we on successfully got the first set as something in the setup failed for the second set.

The other big event for this jam was the fact that it was a celebration of Lee’s 50th birthday. That bestowed upon him the honor as well as the obligation to select the setlist for the night. Lee’s maturity really shined during this obligation as he spit appropriate song after appropriate song considering all that had to be considered. He had the Bob-Jerry trade-off to consider as well as the , what does Donna sign consideration. In the end, Lee was very considerate and set Donna up to rip through several of the songs she sings lead on. Lee’s choices were right on as he expertly ended Deadstein’s first set promptly at 10pm.

As far as guests we enjoyed the presence of Stu who was doing work at the back table while enjoying the groove of Deadstein. The we also had Monica with a new ultra-freaky guy, I think also named stu, who came in with a magical book of secret potions of art or something like that. In any case, he appeared to by quite the freak and seemed to fit in quite well with all the freaks that have preceded him. He asked us if we were “burners.” We didn’t know what that meant but it was a reference to going to burning man. You learn something new every jam at Deadstein.

Wishing Lee a super freaky Deadstein happy birthday for his 50th and we all look forward to celebrating another momentous birthday again when he turns 100. Can’t wait for that September 2063 when we can all freak out again.

The audio files are provided in the following folder:
http://deadstein.com/audio/09-12-13

  • Saint Stephen
  • Shakedown Street
  • Samson and Delilah
  • Terrapin Station
  • The Wheel
  • All Along the Watchtower
  • Midnight Moonlight

Jam – 2013-08-21 – Carroll’s

ds130821Deadstein’s primary guest this week was the venerable Mackie MDR-24 multi-track recorder, making its appearance for the 3rd week in a row. Not making his appearance was Alan, who was our only no show as he was vacationing in the tropics. Short of that we had no musical guests with Donna singing with us for the middle part of the jam.

After last week’s themed evening based on the 1/10/79 Coliseum show, we had not such plan for this week. I was just hoping to get a good recording of some good music after having a good time. I think for the most part, the goals were accomplished.

As far as recording, things were relatively easy for me because nothing had been moved from the studio from last week. This meant I had the same mixing board, containing only 8 full channels as last week, but the extra mic stands were in the room, not moved from last week. Even the small extra screw-on boom stand I brought for Scott’s kick drum, and forgot to take home with me last week, was left in situ waiting for me to use. What I did change out this week, was to leave my Behringer 8-channel digital pre-amp at home and I substituted it for my Mackie small desktop mixer. It has 6 pre-amps in it, even though when I got to the jam, I found out channel 5 was dead, so it really only has 5 channels in it. So in total, I had 8 channels from the mixing board and 5 from my Mackie, for 13 channels in all. That was just enough for this week and I’ll have to figure something out when Alan gets back. Most likely I’ll expand the use of the mixing board’s sub-outs so I have more than 13 tracks at my disposal. Of the 13 tracks covered: 1-4: Vocals (Scott, Rich, Donna and Larry), 5 Piano, 6: Guitar, 7: Bass Direct, 8-10 Lee Drums (kick, snare and overhead) 11-13: Scoot drums (kick, snare overhead).

The reason I switched out the Behringer 8-channel pre-amp for the Mackie analog board was because the guitars from the previous 8-14-2013 jam had a disconcerting sizzle to them that I am thinking wasn’t necessarily a digital artifact as much as it was an artifact of a bad (cheap) pre-amp. I say this because I didn’t notice the sizzle on the 6 drum-tracks recorded though it. Maybe the SM-57/guitar combo wasn’t good for the Berhinger. More investigation needs to be done to determine the the Behringer unit is destined for the scrap heap or not, because it is a lot more convenient to use the Berhinger if it sounds okay. Nevertheless, sound is what really counts, and the tracks from this week’s jam all came through without any cacophonous artifacts to worry about.

Funny, last week I tried to perform the mixdown simulating Kevin’s desired amp setup as applied to the direct out feed I recorded of his bass. I split the bass track into two channels and applied both high end (guitar) and a low end (bass) amp models to each respective channel. After some work in trying to control the low-end bass, I approached the sound Kevin was looking for, if not going a bit too far on the high end of things. This week I figured I would go back to basics and try to get Kevin’s desired sound just using one standard bass amp model on his direct bass recording. At first I failed miserably. Kevin thought I did everything wrong when presenting his bass as an overly blobby mess of subsonic tones. This wasn’t the sharp attach that sticks out of the mix he was looking for. I took Kevin’s criticism to task and got back to work to reshape his tone. I applied an additional EQ to his sound after the bass amp model, which contained its won internal EQ. That added a bump around 2k while taking away quite a bit from the 100Hz area. I also hit the 1176 compressor much harder that I had done previously which added some nice warm distortion to the sound. This coupled with a mastering process that also concentrated on tightening up the woofy bass, gave Kevin the sound he was looking for. I am glad to see Kevin actively listening to the recordings. I does help me out to have another set of ears to listen, as well as another set of arms to wind up and pack the wires at the end of the night.

KevinRecordingSetup

As far as playing actual music, I was kind of excited to be the only guitarist in the room. If we play Jerry Garcia Band music it is more authentic and if we play Grateful Dead music, I can switch between Bob and Jerry’s roles without having to think about stepping on anyone’s toes. With this in mind we actually focused on Grateful Dead to start and the Here Come Sunshine typically has 2 guitar parts so this would be a test to see how empty my one guitar could sound. From the first note on, the music felt pretty good and comfortable, so issues of not sounding good were not really an initial concern. As a matter of fact, the openness of the one guitar provided lots of space to work and live. Additionally, Lee and Scott were having a man crush with each other and each others drumming and the play between, each other, so that feeling of comradery only helped in the fun of the evening and the quality of the music. Lee thought there was something special going on. I don’t know if I was privy to it since I was focusing on my own issues, but if they are happy, so am I. In the end, I think the drumming sounds really good on the recording. Lee’s Kit is in the left while Scott’s is in the right and together, they give us the full rhythm section we are looking for.

With so much more to say and so little time to write it, I’m going to have to cut off the commentary at this point and just wait to make some more history with Deadstein. Until then, Freak Out!

The audio files are provided in the following folder:
http://deadstein.com/audio/08-21-13

Jam – 2013-08-14 – Carroll’s

ds130814With Alan’s birthday passing us by this week, it was his turn to step up to the plate and suggest the songs to be played for the night. Instead of winging it during the jam, Alan pulled a great show and setlist out of the air and announced it was the show to be played on this Wednesday of Deadstein. The January 10, 1979 Nassau Coliseum show he selected was a very famous show in the annals of the Grateful Dead in that they played an unexpected Dark Star and Saint Stephen in the second set. I guess the fact they the Grateful Dead did both the Dark Star and Stephen at the New Year’s show and the Winterland 10 days prior could have been a clue, but I guess for those in attendance, it was a great surprise.

I know Scott went to that show, because he scanned what he believe is his stub from that night. I also assume Alan went and I have a feeling Rich also attended. For the rest of us, 1/10/79 was just another great date that bubbles to the top in the lore of the Grateful Dead. As we discussed during the jam, this was the ending of Donna’s tenure with the Grateful Dead as her 2/17/79 show would prove to be her last. In any case, the song selection proved to work out for our Donna in that most of the good beefy Donna songs happened just before the Dark Star in the second set. This gave a good early out for Donna as Deadstein would head down the spacy path that the Dark Star pointed to.

As I did last week, this week I lugged my multi-track taping setup to the jam in an effort to get a good recording. This week’s soundboard was different than last weeks and finding the insert’s second in-between click position to capture the signal of the vocal and Piano mics was difficult if not impossible to rely on. No matter what I did, my 1/4″ jacks would ease their way out of the position I tried to lock them into. My work around for tracks 1-8 was to use the post-fader direct outs for each channel rather than the more desirable pre-fader insert-out. My other isue with this board was the fact that it only had 8 true channels, while the remaining 16 channels were hybrids stereo channels that provided no insert outs and or direct outs to tap into. Fortunately for me, I decided to bring my 8-channel Behringer digital mic pre-amp which accepted 8 microphone tracks while forwarding the signal of each track to the Mackie MDR-24 recorder using optical ADAT cables. This initially caused a problem until I figured out how to sync the 8-mic pres to the recorder. Hopefully all these channels were recorded properly without and digital artifacts, because if there are any, the recording will be toast and we didn’t a back-up recording just in case. Another change from last week was the fact that we captured Kevin’s bass using a DI box, instead of trying to mic and capture the combination of his two amplifiers. We also did this without any back-up in case there was an issue with the DI. If we failed to capture Kevin’s bass, the recording will be bread and not toast since there is likely to be enough bass captured in mics use for other instruments to pickup the intent of Kevin’s playing. Let’s hope we don’t have to rely on that and the signal from the DI worked.

For the first song, Promised Land, we will be able to test this theory since Kevin’s channel was unintentionally muted. Likewise, Alan’s vocal mic was also unintentionally muted for the first set. That’s what happens when you start panicking about inserts vs. direct outs just prior to beginning the jam. At least I was able to rectify this before the end of the night. Finally, the last changes from last week’s recording techniques relate to drums. This week I had a set of 3 mics on each of the 2 drummers. At some point, Lee’s clip on AKG snare mic fell to the floor, so we are going to have to see when that was attached to the snare and when it was on the floor. Probably no big deal because I had one of Scott’s Neuman’s acting as an overheads and I’m sure that will pick up the entire kit nicely. I was suspicious of Scott”s other Neuman, it was providing a very high amount of noise shown on the meters so I could trust the signal would be good. I therefore used my AT 4033 as Scott overhead while his snare had a Sennheiser 421 and his kick was captured by Scott’s Shure kick drum microphone. Enough of the recording information, we got started around 8:15, not bad considering all the setup but we had a full show to play and no time to waste so we didn’t. We kicked of the first set opener of Promised Land at 8:15 and closed out the first set closer of Music Never Stopped just before 10pm. Since Kevin had already made his halftime phone call about 3 songs prior to the end of the first set, the set-break was shorter than usual and we got going around 10:30 with the second set Shakedown opener.

I think the room had its sonic issues early in the night in that we had troubles hearing all the vocals and the piano for the first few songs. After a few more songs we got a more comfortable sound in the room but we were experiencing monitor squealing feedback on several occasions during the first set. A slight adjustment at halftime was effective in that they didn’t come back for the second set.

The dedicated setlist gave us good focus and drive and we waste no time and played with purpose. This left us with a pretty satisfying feeling. I don’t think I personally became comfortable with my guitar playing until the Passenger, when the unmitigated letting of my hair down provided for a formidable Passenger.

I really enjoyed some of the activities in the second set including the 3-song combo of I Need a Miracle, Bertha and Good Lovin’ That was a good time. The following Dark Star was one of our better ones that went all over the place. The drum solo that followed was a nice break and should be an interesting mix. Even the space had its moments.

While the Johnny B. Goode left us the 15 minutes remaining to play something additional not on the 1/10/79 setlist, we decided to call it a night at that point. There was talk of throwing in a Sailor-Saint at that juncture, but with lots of wires to clean up I think we made the right choice and just packed in in after the Johnny B Goode. Enough is enough. As far as guests we had Dr. Phil the vet and Walter. They were the two lucky ones to enjoy us. Now the hard work of mixing the recording is before me, so all I can do at this time is Freak out!.

The audio files are provided in the following folder:
http://deadstein.com/audio/08-14-13

First Set

Second Set

Jam – 2013-07-30 – Carroll’s

ds130730This week’s Tuesday jam felt as if it fell on the heals of last week’s Thursday jam. When I arrived at Studio 2 with Rich and Scott, we walked into the room to find Kevin and the same exact equipment we left last Thursday. It looks as if nothing moved or changed. I’m not ever sure if Kevin went home or if he spent the last several days in the studio. In any case, when we arrived, there was little to do, setup and tweak.

The PA, the monitors, the drums and all they amps were just like we left them last Thursday night. In some respects this bummed me out because I was looking forward to a new setup since we had a bunch of gremlins present last week. Kevin therefore switched out his buzzing Mesa Boogie rectifier amp for a Fuch’s Twin Reverb and used that for the night. The PA actually sounded strong this week despite last week’s issues. The Fender Silverface Twin Reverb I had last week, which I wasn’t thrilled with, was still my amp of choice for this week until the end of the first when I noticed it beginning to fall apart. For the second set I switched to the Mesa Boogie amp that Kevin abandoned and gave that a chance. While I was setting up that amp, Donna scatted through a New Speedway Boogie while I was getting my own Boogie established. Once ready with my amp, Donna began to singe verses.

For the night we had no guests, only a repeat of the seven of us with the exception that Donna only hung around for the first few songs of the second set. Before starting the first set we were relishing the fact that Jerry’s freakin’ holy week was upon us, with his birthday and commemoration of his death coming to us at the start of August. We therefore had the idea that we should dedicate this jam session to Jerry Garcia and his music.

We opened with a simple Jerry Garcia Band number, And It Stoned Me and that got us going in that direction. Thinking of a Jerry song that I sing where Donna would have a significant role lead me to select Brothers and Sisters as the next song. Before we knew it, someone was suggesting that since we played a song that began with “A”, then one that began with “B” we might as well keep the alphabet going and work towards a song that began with “C”, then “D” then “E”, etc. This kept us going ordinally through the end of the first set where a Might As Well followed the Loose Lucy. I also provided some stranger song/set juxtapositions including a first set Eyes of the World, He’s Gone followed by If I had the World to give. Even the midset Deal was played in early 1970’s style to signify its set location as the 4th song. Our only stretches to the concept were the first two songs which were JGB songs, yet not written by Jerry. At the time we were doing these two songs, the alphabetical Jerry concept wasn’t realized and it was only the happenstance of the Brothers and Sisters that dictated our destiny. When we got to “K” we had no Jerry songs so we cheated a played the Knocking on Heaven’s door as an honorary Jerry song. Likewise, we had to stretch a bit on “J” as Jack Straw had to fit the bill. Good thing we played it because it was one of the better moments of the first set.

We had potential to keep the alphabetical setlist going for the second set but I wasn’t quick enough to think of the Other One as an “O” song as it was naturally being segued into out of the New Speedway Boogie. It was a bonehead maneuver on my part that brought this whole theme to a crashing halt. That got us to the “S” song Donna was looking forward to all night, Stagger Lee which she took the lead vocals on.

a-z-uploadableAs a side note, on the Friday night following this jam I opened up a half-case of wine I picked up on my way to the jam at the Wine Library. Unbelievably and coincidentally, the wine is called A to Z. Oh my G-d.  Is that subliminal or what?   I had no idea the name of the wine I had just picked up, I don’t pay attention to that.  What a cool thing it was to find this out as a pulled a bottle out of the case.  This is actually 3 days after I wrote the posting and made the weekly setlist poster.  The box, as show in the picture was staring me in the face all the time.

With Donna gone for the final hour and the alphabet blown out of the water, we still wanted to stick to a Jerry Garcia theme and did some interesting stuff like trying to pull off a China Cat –> Doin that Rag. That didn’t quite work as we didn’t have the Doin that Rag introduction in our heads when it was time to play it. That brought this transition to a screeching halt. The Mission in the Rain and the Cats Down Under the Stars were serious Garcia efforts on our part. The Ripple represented the nice positive closer foe the night’s Jerry theme. Since we tried the Jerry theme before the actual freaky holy week began, we can still pay tribute to Jerry when we jam again next week. Until that time, Freak Out!

The audio files are provided in the following folder:
http://deadstein.com/audio/07-30-13

Jam – 2013-07-25 – Carroll’s

ds130725We had our core group with us this Thursday at Deadstein.  Donna was there for our first set, sans the Here Comes Sunshine.  It seemed destined to go into a Viola Lee Blues, but with Donna ready to go, I veered the band to a Bertha instead.  I think it was a good decision and got us into a good flow from a set list perspective that followed though the end of the night.  We had a few guest including Steve and Lindsey and Scott’s friend Julian.  It was nice how he picked up on the Richmond 11/1/85 vibe I tossed into the second set with the Sailor/Saint, She Belongs to Me followed by the Gloria closer.

Funny, Julian told Scott that he wanted to hear him sing the Box of Rain, so when looking for that encore type of song just before midnight we were thinking Box of Rain.  A chant of “We want Scott” started and wouldn’t you know, in comes Scott Bayer.  This wasn’t what we were looking for, but we got the Box of Rain closer nevertheless.  It was a good feeling version and left us on a good note.  It was such a good note that we agreed to call it a night with 5 minutes left on the night.  Probably a good decision.

This week’s recordings are from a single MP3 recorded slung from the back wall of Studio 2.  I did all I could to get some okay sound out of it.  No need to freak out, so I will Freak out.

The audio files are provided in the following folder:
http://deadstein.com/audio/07-25-13

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