June 30, 2004
Monday 28 June 2004: Canberra Australia – It was an amazing concert, full of rhythm, dance and Cuban barrio atmosphere (cigars and all!) I had not intended to go, but a friend who was keen to seen them after seeing the video of the Buena Vista Social Club, then caught the flu, and asked if I would like to take her place at the concert. I agreed immediately – I too had seen the documentary of their return to fame. This is about a group of musicians from the 30s/40s whose ambition was one day to play at Carnegie Hall in the US. Cuban jazz musician Ry Cooder heard about them and set about making their dream come true – and these guys, aged between 70 and 90 finally had their big night – but that was just the start of a huge revival – and they are still touring!
Yes there are a mix of younger musicians and dancers, but there is real charm and style in the original performers – still so full of life – playing and salsa-ing the night away. It was truly spectacular – and well worth seeing if they are in your area :-)
June 27, 2004
Well I needed to find some Scottish tunes for a dance, and off I went googling – actually the kick start was in the ‘related’ links as a helpful suggestion in my gmail box – good old context-sensitive targeted advertising. except only one was for a a pay service, the other was Hans’ ABC music page – a real wealth of material in abc format. And sure enough I found what I wanted in the Athole collection. Strange spelling though – I remember visiting Athol in the Scottish highlands a few years back – gorgeous picturesque place with a wonderful castle that is maintained and lived in by the Laird himself.
Using barfly (for mac) I was able to hear the tune over several times, and followed the music notation until it made sense. It’s a great way to learn. I found that if you edit the tempo (L:1/8) to read L:1/4 the tune is played at half the speed, making it much easier to pick up the thread of the tune. So now I can play a passable version of the Gay Gordon’s – a traditional Scottish Country dance tune.
Not a bad way to round off an excellent weekend
June 23, 2004
Now here is a bolt from the blue! We get offers of gigs in sometimes unusual situations and unusual places, but this one takes the cake. The email said in part: “here’s the situation: the Beijing Caledonian Society is holding their Annual Highland Ball…” The Beijing What??
Well it seems that there is indeed a dedicated group of Scottish highland dancers in China’s capital – and they need a live band. Who better than Full Circle? So it would seem we are destined to go away on tour to the land of the Red Dragon – in a few months. In the meantime this er… Irish/Celtic band will be learning some new Scottish repertoire. Yes we do play some Scottish numbers, but some of the dances will have specific tunes. Anyhow we have already been requested to play one song in particular… The Devil Went Down to a Small Country South of Russia… Now this sounds like fun!
June 5, 2004
Well, the first mix was a bit over cooked with the delay – it sounded like this was recorded in someone’s bathroom! So another mix and it is sounding much better. Good enough to burn off some testers for the band members so we can agree on which numbers will make the final demo. I also took the opportunity to try out Belkin’s CD Launch Pad – CD labelling system. I bought it because it was the only one promising mac software for formatting the labels. The labelling machine has a rather twee ‘Star Trek’ look to it, but it is well shaped for a person to grip it easily and comfortably – even a left-hander like me.
I used the label templates for Adobe Illustrator (there is PC software included, but only templates for the mac) and selected a suitable background from the fairly wide range provided as free art, and placed the text within the boundaries… and guess what? It worked first time :-) It does an excellent job of positioning the label on the CD and the supplied labels worked well with my ink jet printer to produce quite a professional result. So I am a happy chappy!
Now to produce a CD cover and with luck, I should have a decent looking and sounding demo ready to post off on Monday…
June 3, 2004
Phew! after a hectic session we’re pretty happy with the initial pre-production results – some good raw material to work with for our demo CD. In case you were wondering why I haven’t been updating my blog the past two days – that’s the reason ;-) We now have enough material and hopefully I should be able to complete the mix-down and run off the first CDs this weekend.
I also designed and wrote a promotional pamphlet for the band so hopefully, that, along with the business cards, should provide a professional presentation for prospective folk festivals and clients. It all seems to be happening at once as most of the festivals for next year want(ed) applications in by 1 June this year! Oh well, we can but try.
At this stage it looks like we have four useable songs and two sets of tunes for the demo CD – a good few weeks work!
Now I just need to find a CD label-making kit and mac software…
Ah time for a beer and some sleep!