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The Failed Economy Show Video...


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Got the video of the Failed Economy Show, and alas, it’s probably not marketable. I don’t know if it was the microphones we recorded with or the awful acoustics of the hall, but the sound isn’t very good. The vocal is too faint, and so is the harmonica—sometimes the harmonica isn’t audible at all—or maybe it’s that the rhythm guitar (me) is too loud. I am not doing anything particularly interesting on the guitar, and it definitely shows.

Some of the songs come off too slow, too—partly because I was almost shouting to make myself heard, and that slows things down. If the vocal could be made more prominent electronically, the music could be faster.

So if I had (or have) the chance, I’d like to re-do all the songs. Which songs? Basically, everything except the Woody Guthrie ones—seven by me, and nine by other people, a maximum of 16 songs (which I understand is the maximum that can be fit on a standard CD, anyway). I’d want to contact the eight authors whose material we used; every one we got an okay from, we’d use on the CD.

I can think of two ways to do the recording, one with John’s new mixer and the other with mine. I have more confidence in myself as a recording engineer since putting together the “Broken Record” CD for Beth Williams; the four songs I recorded for that (all on the Tascam) were, I thought, as good quality-wise as the professionally-done stuff I was sent, and the fellow who did the mastering didn’t distinguish mine separately from any of the others. So I can do studio-quality work with what I’ve got, even though what I’ve got is old, primitive, strange, and operated by a mostly tone-deaf guy. Good to know.

I would record rhythm guitar, bass, drums, and a “scratch” vocal live, then overlay the harmonica, lead guitar (or other lead instrument), and “real” vocal. If we were using my equipment (the 4-channel Tascam and my ancient 6-channel mixer), I’d have to mix the guitar, bass and drums first, before dumping it to the computer, and then add the other three tracks separately. I would probably end up doing the mixing on the computer (in Audacity). I know John’s mixer has more channels; what I don’t know is how much more memory it’s got.

One of the frustrating aspects of the Tascam is its digital camera-chip brain, that can hold only one song at a time (I think I could make it hold two if we were real careful). That’d mean for recording the “base” tracks (drums, bass, and rhythm guitar) on the Tascam, I’d have to haul “Alice” the computer to wherever we were doing it, so I could upload the mix, song by song, and clear the Tascam’s chip-brain for the next song. Otherwise, I’d be limited to doing two “base” tracks a day, which would make this take a long time. It would be easier to use John’s equipment.

One nice advantage of doing the “base” tracks and then overlaying leads is I could get nice touches like a piano on Coleman & Lazzerini’s “So 20th Century.” There’s a piano in the music room at the Tillamook Library, and the librarian knows an experienced piano player. The Tascam can go anywhere there’s electricity (and if the electricity isn’t exactly close, I have a 100-foot extension cord).

Polly Hager, who sings with a rock band in Cincinnati, Ohio, is interested in doing a lead vocal on “Rotten Candy,” the song that was rejected two years ago by American Idol, but she’d like to use my band rather than hers. We can do this, I think, if the band are interested. I’d do it the same way—record a “base” track with rhythm guitar, bass and drums, have her record vocals to that and send ‘em back to me, and then I’d overlay lead guitar and Dick’s harmonica. It would be an interesting experiment, and good preparation for the rest of the recording.

Joe

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