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The Harvest Festival...


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The Harvest Festival gig went well, I think. It recalled Mick Jagger’s famous proverb: “You can’t always get what you want—but if you try, sometimes you just might find you get what you need.”

I didn’t get what I wanted—hundreds of adoring fans hanging on every word, selling all my remaining CDs (all 8 of them), and getting a fat check from the school at the end of the show—and I probably shouldn’t have bothered wanting it. I’ve played the Harvest Festival before. The entertainment is virtually background music; you’re competing with food and crafts vendors, and if anybody did listen to you, they may tell you afterwards, and they may not. The big old pole barn where the music (and everything else) is may be dry, but it’s cold because it’s October, and it has no sides, so if there’s a wind (which there was), it can get mighty uncomfortable (which it did).

On the other hand, I did get precisely what I needed. There was an announcement in the local paper, and the paper did have a reporter there, and he did take my picture, and all that was because I’d contacted someone I knew at the paper. I got to buttonhole the fellow who booked the entertainment afterwards, and plant the idea (also planted with the newspaper editor) that the Harvest Festival had the potential to become the Big Event of the fall, because nothing else was happening. I also volunteered to help with promotion next time.

Only one person showed up from the Friday Night Group audience, but she did come (and hopefully she’ll tell others how good it was). A few people openly liked the stuff; one was a vendor, and another was the sound engineer. And the 13 songs came in at precisely one hour, to the minute. The fellow who was on after me was good, but played for longer than an hour and started to get boring. I’m glad I didn’t volunteer to play longer.

What went over best? “I’m Giving Mom a Dead Dog for Christmas,” of course—it always does. (That’s why I usually have it as the closing song.) “Doing Battle with the Lawn” got some attention, too, mostly (I think) from guys. And “Armadillo on the Interstate,” maybe mostly from girls, because it’s a love story.

We’ll see what the paper says, but I probably have enough from this gig to follow up with. The first big festival coming up is the “Taste of Tillamook” in mid-March, put on by county economic development. I’m sure they don’t book their entertainment five months ahead of time—but it’s worthwhile telling them they should. And I’ll have more impact showing up at their doorstep right after something about me appears in the paper.

Time to record “The Well in the Glade,” Beth Williams’ Hallowe’en waltz. (Actually, it was my idea to have it be a waltz—and it’ll only be a waltz in the verses. The chorus will be a fast two-step in a minor key. Reminiscent of Hank Williams’ “Kaw-liga,” only with demons instead of wooden Indians.) First time I recorded it, the chorus (the two-step part) didn’t sound creepy enough.

This was my opportunity to experiment with the Audacity program, which I’ve had on my computer for months but never used except for generating click tracks. All I did this time around was record tracks separately on the Tascam, mix them on the Tascam (matching each up to a basic rhythm guitar track to control the volume), and then dump them into Audacity and do what the program calls a “quick mix”—just merging the files together without making any other changes. Added one Hallowe’en sound effect from my “library.”

Lining up the various tracks so they all started at the right time was actually a snap, because Audacity is very visual—I didn’t even have to have the sound on to do it, because I could see where sounds started and ended. Didn’t come out bad, in my opinion—but that’s my opinion; the opinion that counts here is Beth’s, because she’s the author. And I don’t know that yet.

Joe

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