On September 5, 2010, 364 days after posting the first Project 52 song, I hosted a grand finale show at the Brillobox in Pittsburgh. The show featured River is to Train (Joel Grimes), Karl Hendricks, Pairdown, Endless Mike and the Beagle Club, and the debut return of Developer-the band. The show was an incredible success with great performances by everyone and topped off by the live performance and recording of the 52nd and final song, “Finally Home”, which includes an audience sing-along and ends with Endless Mike and the Beagle Club jumping in for a giant rock ending. Thanks to Geof Comings (drums) and Chris James (bass) for being such quick studies and really fantastic band-mates. Thanks to Joel Grimes for playing guitar on “Solace” and “Finally Home”, and thanks to everyone who made it out to the show, enjoyed the birthday cake, and took part in my big experiment.
Here is the final song, all sixteen+ minutes of it. Massive thanks to Keith Tassick for pulling together footage from the live feed and cell phones to produce such a great video for me.
Here is the audio-only version of the final song. Please feel free to download it and enjoy!
Here are the videos of the entire show generously recorded and streamed live by the fantastic folks at Incredibly Thin:
ENDLESS MIKE & THE BEAGLE CLUB
KARL HENDRICKS, PAIRDOWN
RIVER IS TO TRAIN
Well it’s week fifty-one! I can’t believe it. I’m still running short on time and I have a lot of ground to cover with this post so I might skip on some of the regular stuff about the recording. A couple of notes about that – the female vocalist in the harmonies is my very own sister Brooke Layman. She deserves a much bigger part than buried in the mix, but that’s what was called for on this song. I was very happy that it worked out for her to be visiting while this was going on. We’ve had very few opportunities to collaborate in our adult years.
In just a few days I’ll be taking the stage for the first time with the new band version of Developer. I’m really excited about it. The show features some great local artists, and it’s at a great venue. The night will culminate with a live recording of the final song with audience participation and something like fifteen guest musicians by the end of the song. If you’re anywhere near Pittsburgh, please drop by. It’s easily worth the five dollar admission. But for all of you who’ve been following the blog for the last year and who aren’t in Pittsburgh, the whole show will be broadcast here as live streaming video thanks to the incredible folks over at Incredibly Thin! Just bookmark it and tune back in after 8 pm EST. The rough band start times are as follows: River is to Train – 8:30, Karl Hendricks – 9:10, Pairdown – 9:50, Endless Mike & the Beagle Club – 10:30, Developer – 11:10. I’ll hopefully be posting a remixed and recut version of the final song on Monday, September 6, which is the one year anniversary of the project, and yeah it’s my birthday too.
The grand finale show doubles as a CD release for Another Song for the Weekend, a newly remastered nineteen-song collection of some of the best tracks of Project 52. I’ll get the CD posted on the Developer Bandcamp site in the days following the show for sale as both the physical CD package or as a digital download.
Now on to the song itself. This track was heavily influenced by the band Polvo. I couldn’t help it. I was so thrilled to have been able to see them live here in Pittsburgh on August 12 after having never had the opportunity before, and they killed it so hard that night, that it was inevitable that the Polvo sound would creep back into one of my songs. I say “back” because oddly enough, nearly a year ago I had just acquired the brand new Polvo album and had been playing pretty much nonstop. It’s subtle, but that definitely influenced the song for week two, “Left to Chance“. So, it turns out that both the second song of the project and second-t0-last song of the project were pretty heavily influenced by one of my favorite bands. It’s bears mentioning too that I credit that second song with setting the bar for the project and forcing me to take every week seriously.
Thanks again everyone. I’m thrilled to be sharing this all with you.
This week’s song was one that I’d written and began recording a few weeks ago, but it hadn’t really fit in until now. It’s a very simple setup with just one guitar track, one baritone track, and two drum tracks. The guitar and baritone were both performed on the Orange Crush 30r, and miked with my CAD E200. All sounds were recorded with the iPhone using the Alesis ProTrack and the MultiTrack DAW app.
The drum setup is one that I’ve been fooling with for the last couple of songs, and I think is the best that I’ve been able to get out of the drums with two mics into the iPhone. It’s pretty much a mono-style setup, but recorded as a stereo track to get two distinct channels. The left channel was a relatively close overhead mic and the right channel was the CAD E200 (which has a nice bass response) placed with the diaphragm just above the kick drum by four inches or so and out from the set by four inches and aimed down under the cymbals and toward the snare. Once I brought the stereo track into Reaper, I used the nifty option to “explode multichannel audio or MIDI items to new mono items,” which does just like it says and leaves me with two independent mono drum tracks which I can EQ and mix separately. I ended up panning them slightly just to expand the drum sound a bit, but it’s ultimately a mono drum recording.
I can’t believe I’m at week 50. I’m starting to think that I’d be feeling sentimental and regretting the end if I wasn’t so busy trying to hold everything together in preparation for the grand finale. I have some big news on that front as well: For better or worse, the live performance of the final song and possibly the whole Developer set will be available as live streaming video so that everyone who’s not here in Pittsburgh can catch the show as well. As a recap, the show is set for Sunday, September 5, and features great Pittsburgh-area acts Endless Mike and the Beagle Club, Pairdown, Karl Hendricks (solo), River is to Train, and of course the band version of Developer (that’s me). I hope that everyone that can make it out does, as the final song will have an opportunity for some audience participation and should be something to behold (one way or another).
The final show is also going to be a CD release show. I have just one more pass to make on the masters and the artwork for the album, which is titled Another Song for the Weekend, and features 19 of my favorite songs from the project remastered to sound way better than they ever have before. Stop on back in the coming weeks for more information about the show and the CD. I promise to have approximate band start times by next week.
One last thing: Please grab this limited time free EP that I put together of great songs that I couldn’t fit onto the CD. It’s a nice little six song collection that’s worth your hard drive space.
This song is a simple little rock/pop ditty. I hope you enjoy it. It marks the return of the Blue Mikey, which I used to mic all of the instruments and one of the vocal tracks, and the introduction of a new distortion pedal, the Maxon OD808 reissue, which I was prompted to pick up to get the live guitar setup up to snuff in preparation for the grand finale show. This pedal has the same design as the original “Tube Screamer TS-808″ as Maxon was the original equipment manufacturer for Ibanez. I absolutely love the sound of this pedal, and it’s even better when paired with my Fender Blackface Twin.
I wanted to share a free EP with everyone as a thanks for sticking around for so long. Head on over to my bandcamp site and pick up The Bitter Pill EP as a completely free high quality digital download.
Also, a quick update on the grand finale show: it looks like I may be able to have the whole thing broadcast as a live streaming feed so that friends and followers from all over the world can catch the show. I’ll have more info coming very soon.
This week’s song is a little different. It’s pretty thick-sounding, but at its core is a simple little finger-picked guitar part. I recorded just about everything using the Alesis ProTrack. The acoustic finger-picking was with the built-in mics, though there’s way more hiss and noise than I would’ve liked. If I had more time I would’ve gone back and re-recorded the guitars, but I had a lot of humming to track. Many of the other tracks, including the drums, were recorded using the mic preamps on the Alesis. That continues to be a godsend. I’m sure the preamps aren’t of the highest quality, but to get a nice large-diaphragm condenser mic directly into my phone, I’m not complaining.
The details continue to come together for the grand finale show. It will be Sunday, September 5, at the Brillobox in Pittsburgh. The show feature local acts Endless Mike and the Beagle Club, Pairdown, Karl Hendricks (solo), River is to Train, and the band version of Developer. We’ll be performing the 52nd song of Project 52 and recording it live to post here the following day.
I hope to see a bunch of you there. Have a great week everyone.
All you need is love.
For the first time in several weeks I’m getting a song up without franticly writing something at the last minute, and that’s a welcome change. We’ll see how long I can keep it up. With only six weeks left, I should be able to find the motivation.
I don’t have a whole lot to say about this song. It came together pretty well – even with the slightly ridiculous dual guitar solo at the end. This is another track where the recordings were all made on the iPhone using the Alesis ProTrack’s mic preamps to mic the guitar amp and the drums. The guitar on this one was my Dean Evo FT. It’s a great guitar that you should still be able to get as a steal if you can find one – it has a coil-tap switch! The guitar sound is just the Evo through my Orange Crush 30r using the amp’s distortion and miked with a CAD E200.
The drums were recorded with just two mics, both small diaphragm condensers in an xy pattern about four feet out in front of the kit. The vocals were recorded as usual with just the iPhone’s built-in microphone, and I added a tinge of distortion and delay on the back end. The melodica was also recorded with the iPhone mic. Everything was recorded into the MultiTrack DAW app and then mixed and tweaked in Reaper.
Things are coming together pretty well for the Project 52 grand finale. I should be able to announce a show lineup pretty soon. The venue is set. It’s going to be at the Brillobox here in Pittsburgh on September 5th. I’ll be playing with a band version of Developer that features Chris James on bass (currently in Assembly & formerly of Life in Bed), and Geof Comings on drums (currently in Becoming Projections & formerly of Songs: Ohia). We’ll be playing a full set of Project 52 songs and then cap the show off with a live recording of the final song, which will be posted here the next day.
This was another rough week. I’ve had plenty of weeks where everything just fell into place, so I suppose that it’s fair to have one where it doesn’t. I may be overstating it. I don’t think that this is a bad song, but it’s a little sloppy, and I would love to have more time to work on it. The issues with this week were a result of having two Karl Hendricks Trio shows in four days, starting to spend more time and energy to get ready for the grand finale show, plus a kid who’s going through some rough sleeping spells.
With only a handful of minutes left in the week, I’m going to keep to the basics. All tracks were recorded with my Alesis ProTrack on the iPhone using the MultiTrack DAW app, except for the vocals, which were recorded with the iPhone’s built-in mic. The drums and the acoustic guitar tracks were recorded with the ProTrack’s built-in mics.
Thanks as always for stopping by. I’ll probably be sane again soon.
This was one of those weeks and songs that seemed to conspire against my meeting the deadline. With only eight songs left, there was no way that was I going to say “screw it”, but consequently some elements of the song, and all elements of my voice, suffered.
I was lucky enough to get one of those really awesome summer head-colds last week, right around the time that a heat wave blasted the Eastern US. On top of that foundation I added a hard-fought game of softball, the usual regimen of sleep deprivation, and a Karl Hendricks Trio show on Saturday night. I’m pretty sure that it was the really long show at a really smoky bar that did me in, because the next day, the day that the song was due, the song for which I hadn’t written lyrics and recorded vocals yet, on that day my voice was seriously shot. I soldiered on and tried to go through the process of restoring my voice as best as I could recall the techniques from my days singing in the high school touring choir over a long time ago. But to no avail. I couldn’t get anything other than a scratchy mess out of it and I was getting pretty frustrated. I put off the recording until the evening, and then finally just went through with my best effort to disguise my vocal incompetence by recording multiple takes in both octaves.
When I finally sat down to start mixing the song, and after a more liberal application of effects to the vocal mix, I found them to be surprisingly palatable, and with scratchier voice and sloppier guitar and drum performances than I would’ve liked, I made the deadline.
The recording is similar to the last few. The scratchy vocals were recorded with the iPhone mic as usual, and all of the instruments were recorded with the Alesis ProTrack, with the slight variation that the guitar amp was my Fender Twin instead of the Orange Crush for guitars. I broke out my trusty old Twin to begin the process of relearning some of the older songs for the first live performance of the Project 52 songs, which will be at the grand finale show, which I’ll be writing more about as soon as a few more of the details come together.
This week I broke full-on into the computer. I’ve been avoiding doing too much with computer-generated sounds for some reason or another. I think mostly because it hadn’t really been called for by the songs I’ve been writing, but also I’ve liked the idea that most of the songs have been live performances. In the case of this week’s song though, it just called for a simple beat and a little bit of horns. I can play a number of instruments, few of them really well, and I’ve made the most of the melodica over the year, but I don’t have any horns, and I can’t play them… at least not since I played the sax in 6th grade band.
Thanks to the great software Reason, I was able to drop in a nice tuba, a trombone, and a mellotron flute sound along with a touch of live melodica for good measure on top of a very simple beat, and I’m pretty happy with how it came out.
The acoustic guitar was recorded with the Alesis ProTrack using the built-in condenser mics, and the electric was recorded the same way as the last couple of weeks with the CAD E200 into the iPhone using the MultiTrack DAW app. The vocals were recorded with just the iPhone’s internal mic.
I only have nine songs left after this. I’m pretty excited about that, but I’m even more excited about the grand finale for the project. I’ll have more information about that in the coming weeks, but if you’re going to be in Pittsburgh over Labor Day weekend, leave your Sunday evening free and come out to help me celebrate.
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