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Late last October, Toyboat (toyboatband) released a full CD of material, dubbed Toyboat (what else?). Seems like we managed to get it recorded and mixed in record time, with the only real catch being that our duplicator accidentally pressed about fifty copies (out of the lot of about 1000) with the right art, but the wrong music - twelve tracks of smooth jazz, instead of ten tracks of hard filk-rock. Oops! It was released at the Ohio Valley Filk Festival.

After something of a hiatus, I'm starting to write again, as well as dust off some of the work that I've done previously. I've enlisted the help of David Taylor II (DT's MySpace Page) to help out in songwriting, and have also asked Mike Nixon of Toyboat to play guitar on my tracks. I've also asked Aaron Krehl to play drums for me, as well as assist in engineering (Aaron is a recent graduate of Full Sail University in Florida).

That's all for now - watch this space for more developments...

...and here it is!

Toyboat has uploaded an .mp3 of one of the songs we recorded in the studio, and I'm joining in the celebration by posting a link to the song:

Roman Wall Blues

I think it's okay to say now that Toyboat, that bunch of scoundrels fine upstanding musicians that bill themselves as "Filk Gone Horribly Right", was in the studio last Sunday, with Yours Truly at the controls. We recorded three songs, basically by sending the four of them into the live room at once and recording them live, with only vocals overdubbed. We managed to finish recording ahead of time, leaving me the job of mixing the songs down over this week, with an anticipated release at the Duckon science-fiction/fantasy convention in about a week and a half.

By the way, for you gearheads out there, I finally got a chance to try out my new AKG Perception 420 microphone on the band's vocal tracks. Very nice mic, especially for the money - it's a different flavor than the Rode NT1-A that I had used all over jcw_da_dmg's Simply Entitled, though the Rode will certainly still see use. It's just nice to have a couple of large condenser mics around, rather than just one. I noted, though, that the AKG is rather heavier than expected, leading me to think that upgrading to a more solid mic stand might be something to do sooner, rather than later.

We ran most of the tracks (except for one guitar track and the electronic drums) through a PreSonus Digimax D8 preamp, thus justifying the purchase of an eight channel preamp for the studio (which, frankly, I didn't think I'd see full use of at the time of purchase). Granting that the PreSonus is about mid-level in the preamp department, it still did its job nicely. Still, when I have the money to throw at it, a really nice single channel preamp, mainly for vocals, would be a good investment.

Enough gear talk - the band rocked. I just have to finish sorting through the material and produce good mixes of the songs now...
A few things to update here:

Thing The First: Not that this is really the most important of things unless you like eye candy, but you might want to check out my web site. While the text hasn't changed much recently, I've updated it with a new logo (which I think is way cool) and a picture of the project studio on the Project Studio page (where else?). Graphics and photo courtesy of Annamarie Buchanan, who is available for doing CD art for any project in which you as an artist might be interested (shameless plug, of course).

Thing The Second: A couple of new projects look like they're coming down the pike. One is a singer/songwriter that I will be meeting with later this afternoon (Sunday), while another is a kind of a blues-rock trio for whom I'm going to be doing mixdowns. For that project, I'm starting with one song that has several problem children in it, not the least of which is a harmonica solo in which the player hit the last note too hard, sending the pitch all over the map. Enter pitch correction software, a fade out, and a touch of reverb ;) . If that mix goes well, there are about five others that wait in the wings, as I understand it.

Thing The Third: I'll be going to music business classes, starting in about two weeks, once a week for the next six months. They're being taught by the same school that I went to for music production training. Based on what I know of the content of the coursework, I expect it to be useful stuff.

Thing the Fourth: In case you missed it the first time I posted it, here's the link to the song that I wrote for the video series to be shown in the northern suburbs of Chicago, possibly extending to Chicago itself:

"The Road", by David M. Stowell

Even if you listened to it before, take another listen, as it now has a live drummer on it, playing my Roland V-Drums.

And that's all for now!

I'm gonna be your Sledgehammer...

...at least as far as my recording system is concerned!

I've decided that the best route to fixing the system is to reinstall Leopard (the Mac OS), using the Clean Install option, which will wipe the system drive off in the process. Then I'll reinstall Pro Tools 8, along with the Music Production Toolkit, and then add the known good plug-ins. From there, there are a couple of plug-ins (mainly a couple made by Native Instruments) that aren't officially approved but I'll try, crossing my fingers in the process.
The main offender, it seems, is an instrument set made by Korg. That was my first tip-off that something was seriously amiss, as any session that included an instrument from that set would crash during playback. Badly. The other offender, as I implied earlier, is that a large portion of Native Instruments' products are not compatible with Pro Tools 8 yet (I can hear filkertom laughing in the background...). A few are, and a couple can be used if you are careful. Lo-ver-ly...

Anyway, that's the route that I'm going to take, and I suspect that I'll be back up and running pretty quickly.

Computers hate me, right about now...

I seem to be having a bit of trouble with my shiny new setup. Basically, what it boils down to is that Pro Tools 8 is a bit pickier about what plug-ins are installed on the computer. If one installs incompatible plug-ins, the plug-ins will misbehave, and the system (even if those plug-in are not active in a mix) wil eat a significant amount of CPU. I've tried uninstalling some of them, but that's only caused more trouble.

And iTunes on my Windows box has gone unstable, too. No Internet radio for me.

Foo on computers - I need to clean my apartment...

"The Road" redux

Short Form: So, I presented the same mix of "The Road" as was linked to the last post to the main person making the decisions for the video production, and to make the long story short (too late!), he liked it and wants to use it. His preference is to use it for the entire series that he is producing, which will start being aired (as I understand it) in the northern suburbs of Chicago and will eventually on Chicago cable.

Yay! Credits and references and listeners, oh my!

More as this develops...

Pre-mix of new song/project

Here, for your comments and edification, is a pre-mix of a piece I've been working on for a client. Without going into a lot of details, it's end credit music for a video program. Here's the link:

"The Road", by David M. Stowell

Let me know what you think - the model I had in mind was based on sort of a "Patrick O'Hearn with a dash of Geddy Lee" thing. I don't know whether there will be any voice-over on this or how much will be used, so I wanted to keep it simple.


Shopping? Shopping!

The last two days of 2008 saw some serious shopping on my part at Guitar Center for the new studio space. I thought some of of it worth sharing with you all.

On the 30th, I brought home a pair of Yamaha HS50M studio monitors. For those who know a bit about monitor history, these monitors are Yamaha's replacement for the discontinued NS-10 monitors, which were (and still are) highly prized for their ability to reflect the sound of consumer sound systems. The saying has been that if you could get a mix to sound good on NS-10s, it wound sound good on anything. Well, the HS50Ms are their replacement in the market, and by every review I've read, they do the same job as well. These will make an excellent second set of monitors to my Event PS/8s.

Yesterday, I brought home several other new toys. In the mic department, I picked up two AKG Perception mics - a 170 small diaphragm and a 420 large diaphragm. These will cover a number of uses - vocals, guitars, and other instruments, and will augment my Røde NT1-A. I also got a Presonus eight channel preamp, and a SansAmp bass direct box, which has frankly made my basses sound better than any other amp emulation or DI method I've tried.

I need to pick up a few more things yet, which will happen in the next few weeks. I need to re-up my Waves plug-ins. And I'm kind of torn about guitar amp emulation right now. I've been testing the current Line 6 Pod Farm product and frankly, I'm not completely impressed. I'm also testing NI's Guitar Rig 3, and while it has fewer amp models, it just sounds better. Both have the disadvantage that under Pro Tools LE, you can't run the effect while recording without dealing with latency unless you go through their hardware interface (an LE issue).

But aside from not being in the new space yet (grumble), I'm pretty close to having what I need for the next version of my studio.

How to fix a computer

Well, the vender of Pro Tools decided to fix my computer in a most timely way. They released PT 8 today, which I promptly downloaded and installed without a hitch. Good thing I did it early in the day - their web site is now down, most likely due to an overabundance of traffic. Le Sigh.

Once I've done some more software installation work, I intend to shut down the studio completely and take it apart, as I received word from my landlord that I will be able to move into my new space on January 1st, instead of February. That means I have to hurry up and pack and clean up this place, among other things, but I've been loking forward to the upgrade for some time.