Today I’m going to write about how cool it is to be a musician and a producer in this wacky world of internet technology and modern travel.
(Picture above – International bunch headed to Seldovia, Alaska for a concert after the Acoustic Alaska Guitar Camp with camp director, Joe Becker; Scotland’s Jill Jackson ; yours truly (from Canada) and legendary Nashville mandolinist Roland White.)
I live in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, not exactly a major music centre by any means but with todays technology I am able to work with musicians from all over.
Lots of times, I don’t even have to leave my basement to do it.
Shoot, I don’t even have to get dressed. (oops, maybe that’s too much information!)
As a Dobro player and slide guitar specialist, I get my fair share of session work from musicians hailing from all over. They simply send me whatever they want me to play on , usually through email or dropbox. I play on it in my small home studio and send it back. I love it!
(Pictured Above – My home studio – small and simple but I have produced music here and contributed to sessions for projects from India to Africa, from Europe to the United States and of course, Canada.)
I usually send 3 versions of their song back to them and they can chose which parts of each take to use.
- The first take is what I think of as keyboard ‘pads’, a more atmospheric background part that can be fully or partially used in the mix.
- The second take is a more melodic, counterpunctual approach where I think of the Dobro as a second voice to the lead singer or the lead instrument – this usually includes a solo section and I will often send alternate solo takes as well. I usually edit and compile these takea at home before I send them off. That way, I know I can live with whatever they use.
- The third take is usually a more loose approach – more like what I would do live.
Two of the more interesting sessions I have done in the last couple of weeks include a session for Jill Jackson’s band, The Chaplins (pictured above) and California-based artist Dan Navarro. For those who don’t know, Dan co-wrote the song he sings in the video link above – have a look – I bet you know it!
Dan and I both currently serve as board members for the Folk Alliance as well, which is another way of networking if you don’t live in a major centre. Plus, it’s a wonderful community and a blast to attend the conference. But that’s another blog.
It’s so easy to focus on the negative part of being a musician right now, especially if you compare the current situation to what is used to be years ago – and it’s only getting worse in regards to failing royalties and less gigs – but it’s important to remember the positive in all this.
- I love playing music. I get to play music with really cool people.
- I am fortunate enough to have found a career I love.
- I have made many lifelong friends in the music industry and have watched many of them grow and succeed.
- beyond making literally tens of dollars, what else is there?
I get to work with musicians from all over the world in live situations and this is largely thanks to the web. This past weekend, I played the Islands Folk Festival in Duncan, B.C. , with a brilliant musician who is also often thought of as a sideguy, Radoslav Lorkovic.
Rad lives in Chicago, not really that close to Vancouver Island but we are planning a CD together and most of the rehearsal work/planning will be done over the web. It’s hard to remember how significantly different this makes things just over the past few years!
There are other things I do on the web to help supplement my income as a player.
I compose and record music for film and TV and have had numerous placements in that world.
I teach via skype.
I learn lots through the hours and hours of youtube stuff.
I complain about how easy it is to find everything you want to learn or listen to for free and then I take advantage of it.
And I buy stuff from other musicians and pay for lessons when I can.
I study online with Berklee which is an amazing thing to do from my humble home in Cumberland, BC. Isn’t it?
I guess my point is the world has changed. I hear many musicians complain about that and I complain myself. But it’s actually amazing what’s going on. It’s an amazing time to be an artists if you are interested in the world around you – we all have access to it.
What do you do from your basement to reach out to the music world?