Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fixing a Hole

Marzell and I having a laugh about the hole in my jeans

I love my Levis 501 jeans. They never go out of style. Neither does a Hammond B3 or a Fender Rhodes! Same thing. But, just as a Fender Rhodes can have a rip in the tolex so can a pair of jeans... except when it's in the crotch area it can be offensive! I had this tiny hole there at the beginning of my road trip and after a couple states it grew into what you see in the picture above. While some may appreciate the "Winter Breeze" aspect of it or the "Hello how do you do?" shock value, I knew it wasn't going to fly (pun alert! haha). I had to get some new jeans so I managed to buy a couple new pairs somewhere off I-95 along the way to visit Francis Dunnery. What you see here is a quick "emergency pitstop" at a Laundromat in Virginia where a very sweet woman who worked there named Marzell had a good laugh at my expense! The "emergency" had to do with hot chocolate spilling all over the place in my car... don't even ask! But yes I'm a klutz. I "wear" my food and drink. 

A shrimp sandwich! I like to eat unusual things like this when I travel especially if it's a local favorite! The drippy sauce can also make a great abstract design if you happen to be wearing a t-shirt! :D

Right now I'm on my way back to Florida. I was going to stay up there and do a New Years gig at the Tin Angel with Francis which would have been a blast. But, I was feeling a bit of pressure and really need to get back so I can finish up the Rush tribute/fantasy band album built around Neil Peart Drums by Sonic Reality and wrap up final details for the release of the album "Dimensionaut" by Sound of Contact (a new progressive rock band I'm in with Simon Collins). I need to do that AND prepare for something called the NAMM show which is where music software and instrument developers present their latest products. 

I drove through Philadelphia yesterday and had a cheesesteak with "Uncle Jonny" (he's really my Dad's cousin) that was out of this world! I have family in Philadelphia, both my parents are from there and I was born there too (but left when I turned 2... not warm enough!!!!). 

A great little cheesesteak place in a HUGE market in central Philadelphia

Over the next few days I'll be making my way through Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia and then back through Florida to Miami (where the Sun's at!). It's been nice seeing a chance of seasons. I haven't seen snow in a long time. 

... where the rain gets in...

I'll hit a few Pawn shops on the way down. I wouldn't mind picking up a "jangly old acoustic steel string" that speaks to me. It doesn't have to be a Gibson or a Martin or anything expensive. I'd be cool with a Silvertone or some less popular brand. I was checking out some of Jon Brion's guitars at Ocean Way Recording studios when he was working on the Dido album and he had one exactly like what I'm describing. He has really good taste in sounds and instruments. The guitar I'm looking for just has to have character and be very playable... or let's just say that when you pick it up you can't put it down. That effect (similar to how you can't just have one Dorito). I actually found an acoustic I really liked in a pawn shop on the way up (pictured below) but my price range for a used old acoustic guitar right now is 8-10 times less than this one's price tag. I bought an old Beatle-Bass-Wannabe instead for a hundred bucks. 

Looking for a guitar like this for a couple hundy (not a couple grand!)

So, that's it for now. No rock legends this time! Just El Squidsarino and his travels. Gonna hit the hay here. If anything exciting happens I'll check back in and blog about it. Maybe I'll share some thoughts about the new year coming up. There are also a lot of things I haven't shared here but I post a lot of misc stuff on my Facebook page if you're curious. In case I don't get to post before New Year's Eve I'll go ahead and wish you all a Happy New Year! I think it's going to be fantastic. I really do! Let's all be positive about it and make it happen! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Cold, Tired & Hungry!

Driving up through Florida
Through South Carolina
All the way up to Pennsylvania where it snowed!
Freezing in the snow with Francis and his sister Fay
(Reference to "Cold, Tired & Hungry", is an old It Bites song of Francis's)

Drove up from sunny South Florida to get a dose of Winter weather! I spent X-Mas with Francis Dunnery and his family up in the Poconos mountains. It was his 50th Birthday as well but a very low key gathering. He considered the CKDCF charity gig we played in Cumbria in October his official "birthday celebration" because there were many fans, friends and family there. Plus, you don't get a better present than playing a gig with one of your childhood music heroes, Steve Hackett of Genesis, and a stage full of great musicians, an incredibly warm and receptive audience and the whole thing benefiting children with severe illnesses. He was especially moved when he received over a hundred thank you messages on his birthday after the CKDCF gave the sick children Christmas presents. He showed me the pictures of kids, some of them with cancer, filled with joy opening up presents with their families. He said, "This is what you did, Dave. It's what we all did."

I was thinking about the value of everyone who bothered to contribute toward that event in whatever way they could (some sponsoring the walk, some contributing their time and effort to the event, some paying to travel from all over the world and go to that amazing show). It could have just as easily not happened. But it did and these were very real results to see. What is the value of joy especially for a child who has a terminal disease? Priceless. Heart-breaking to think about any child suffering. After some very sad recent events in the US, my love, appreciation and hope for all the children has only grown exponentially. They come to this world ready to love and be loved, to learn and to teach, to PLAY and experience as much joy as possible. So did we! We were all children once. Our progress moving forward has a lot to do with reconnecting with the child within us... to look for and prioritize joy in life and to continue to be playful! I'm a big kid and I play all the time. I seek out the good things in life that make myself and others with similar taste smile.

Speaking of taste, when I travel I like to take advantage of some local cuisine. On the way up to PA there were some cool places to stop. One of them was Charleston, South Carolina. Paid a visit to the Hominy Grill for breakfast by recommendation and had something called "The Big Nasty" which is fried chicken, gravy and a biscuit. It's not something I'd eat often as I do prefer to eat more healthy but this was not to miss. When in Rome!

The Big Nasty

Francis's Studio

Alright, so for anyone wanting the skinny on musical activity on the travels of a man called Squids I've got some cool stuff to share with you. Besides dinner, table tennis and laughs with the Dunnerys I am also here playing on a new album from Francis. I can't really talk about it in detail because it's his production not mine. So I'll share more about that later. Here's a picture of my Nord Stage keyboard that I drove up with. What a workhorse! That and my laptop with Sonic Reality sounds and IK Multimedia software has the main staple sounds I need.

Here's another cool thing that happened over the holidays. I got a really nice email from Steve and Jo Hackett wishing me Happy Holidays and New Year. That alone made me smile. The guitarist from one of my favorite bands EVER sending me a nice message for the holidays? How cool!!!??? I emailed Steve back wishing him and his very sweet wife Jo the same. We talked about him guesting on a track in January that I'm producing for the Sonic Elements Rush Tribute "Moving Signals & Waves". I was originally going to ask him to play on the Sonic Elements film score style tribute of "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" that I'm doing with Francis Dunnery and friends. But, then I thought that was too obvious and plus he just did the "Genesis Revisited 2" album of his own (which Francis, myself and Simon Collins guested on). So, I figured it'd be interesting and different if he played on a Rush song featuring Neil Peart of Rush on drums (via his sample library "Neil Peart Drums by Sonic Reality") plus Keith Emerson and myself on keyboards and Bill Sherwood formerly of Yes on bass... talk about "Prog Heaven"! For one song at a time I'm producing and playing with the ultimate "Prog Super Groups"!!!! Emerson, Hackett, Sherwood, Peart & Squids!!!! (Neil is the only one who doesn't know he's played on it directly... he only knows that his sample library that features his drumming is going to be used by many musicians for both originals and covers... however, this one I think he'll really get a kick out of when he hears it!) Actually, I might have Francis play guitar on it as well today and when I get the tracks from everyone in January I may also fuse it into another original track that I co-wrote with Billy Sherwood. I know that sounds bizarre and vague right now but when the album is released I will explain what we did, how we did it, why we did it and MORE on video! 

So, that's what's happening in my world. I'm VERY excited about the coming year for many reasons. I've set up my studio specifically for the projects I'm producing and playing on. Actually, I'm still in the midst of getting it all wired up but once that's done it's going to be very conducive to the way I like to work. There are a number of creative projects I'm involved with and I couldn't be happier about that! I'm really looking forward to 2013 and I'm enjoying the rest of 2012 now. Happy New Year to you all! Thanks, as always, for taking an interest in my Squidly adventures. I hope you continue to find it entertaining and inspiring. Don't forget to go have some fun! Be safe, kind to others and optimistic! Enjoy the now and be eager about what's coming. Focus on what's positive to you. That's my 2 cents worth of advice anyway... 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Apocalypse (in 9/8)

I thought I'd give you all a little break on the Squids Travel posts. Those condensed trips really pack it in on the muso action. I've been in Miami since getting back from New York and I'm keeping busy as always. With Sonic Reality we're working on sounds for IK Multimedia's SampleTank 3 virtual instrument software for musicians. With Sonic Elements we're working on the release of "Moving Signals & Waves", a Rush tribute album I'm producing and playing keys on AND on 12-12-2012 we announced the official name of the new progressive rock band I'm in with Simon Collins, son of legendary Genesis frontman/drummer Phil Collins. The band is called "Sound of Contact" and the new album coming out in 2013 is called "Dimensionaut".

We've been working on this sci fi concept album, Dimensionaut, since 2009 starting with sessions at SR Studios in Miami. After Simon, Kelly and I had worked together on our cover of "Keep It Dark" and Simon's U-Catastrophe album and Simon had added multi-instrumentalist Matt Dorsey to his live band, Simon came to me in 2009 wanting to do a band project next instead of a solo album. This time we would all write together, play live in the studio and jam and craft a concept album around a subject that Simon and Kelly had been discussing... a story about a dimensional traveler. That's how Dimensionaut was born. 

Sound of Contact: Kelly Nordstrom, Simon Collins, Matt Dorsey, Dave Kerzner

Sound of Contact in the studio recording "Dimensionaut"

The first three songs we recorded didn't make it to the final cut of the album. Although they'll be released separately at some point (some as bonus tracks perhaps). Most of the album was recorded in 2010 with engineer Chris Holmes at Greenhouse Studios in Vancouver, BC where Simon lived at the time. When it came time to mix the album we brought in Nick Davis who has produced and/or engineered bands like Genesis, XTC, Marillion, It Bites and more. I've been working with Nick on a sample library for Sonic Reality recording the sounds of Tony Banks' vintage keyboards, Mike Rutherford's rare guitars and capturing the iconic "Collins" drum sound at Genesis' studio called "The Farm" in Surrey, England which I've also done with veteran Genesis/Collins producer Hugh Padgham. 

Nick Davis with Dave Kerzner & Ryan Holquist at The Farm

Squids fun fact of the day:  Today is both Nick Davis and Alan Parsons Birthday! 

To work with Nick Davis on a music project was a whole other story! Because it was Simon and I in the producer chairs and Nick was just mixing (not producing) we had a really nice bonus "mentor" when it came time to making our decisions about what we wanted. It was like a "safety net" and both Simon and I learned a lot from that experience. We mixed the album at The Warehouse in Vancouver, a studio that belongs to Bryan Adams. Then, months later, we mastered the album at Lurssen Mastering in LA with my old friend Gavin Lurssen and Rueben Cohen. Gavin and I used to be roommates when I lived in LA. We had this house on the top of Mulholland with a recording studio and a panoramic view of the city that had a revolving door of musicians and engineers living there. One ex-roomy named Robbes ended up engineering at Van Halen's studio, 5150. Gavin ended up becoming a multi-Grammy-winning mastering engineer. You know what happened with me... and if you don't just keep reading and somehow it'll all make sense! I've got some great stories about the 90s in LA but I'll save it for another post. In the meantime you can read more about the Sound of Contact story on the new web site! Plus, there's a Facebook page for the band to follow if you're interested. 

It's the end of the world as we know it!

So, this business about the apocalypse and the end of the world... it's December 20th, 2012 here in Miami and it's already tomorrow in some parts of the world. There are a lot of interpretations about this particular time. A lot could happen in one day or in one hour or one minute or even one second. But the changes that are gradual are sometimes missed. What I've been seeing is a shifting of conscious awareness over time. I've often had thoughts, lately it's been partially fueled by the sad events in CT that I don't even want to talk about because it's too painful, that children have a very important aspect to them that is a clue to our ideal co-existence. They start off life in a state of being that is open, loving, eager to learn, wanting to play and experience joy. When a young child you don't even know looks at you in curiosity and doesn't know you're not part of their family and that you're technically a stranger they DO know something else on a deeper level. We're ALL related! We just lose touch with that when we get older. There's a disconnection from who we really are that happens to various degrees... and sadly from recent events going back to many other times in human history we have seen the extremes of that "disconnection". At the same time we're connected in other ways now more than ever. I know there are many who would agree that it would be nice to see the beginning of a new world of "connectedness", of harmony, peace and love. I think we are capable of it since we've all been there before as young children. We just have to protect and nurture that in children and find our own ways back to these qualities ourselves. 

So, when we talk about the end of ages and the beginning of new ones, the end of centuries and millenniums and the beginning of new ones, the Mayan calendar and all sorts of intriguing myths about this time with thousands of interpretations... I find myself simply open. I don't claim to know everything. A lot of people cling to what they think they know and their particular beliefs (or perhaps the ones imprinted on them from an early impressionable age) to avoid the fear of the unknown. Society wants you to pick a faith! Yet ironically those different believes divide us from each other and have been the basis of too much opposition and conflict throughout our history. Meanwhile we're constantly learning and expanding our collective experience. There are great lessons from the world around us. If you're flexible in your views you leave enough room for something new and exciting to reveal itself or room for more "universal truths" to be understood (as opposed to a divisive "man-made truths" that may have been created for unknown reasons in human history). The more open we are the more we'll be able to evolve. I'm all for that! Ironically part of our evolution is reconnecting with a state of being we all arrived in as children. A huge step is already here right in front of us! If we clear up the clutter, the distortions, the distractions and the wastefulness we arrive at the basic core of our existence. A "perceiver" that can interact physically and mentally "experiencing" life in the pursuit of happiness. 


On that note I wish you a great couple of days, an amazing week, a joyous time during the holidays if you celebrate them, a happy new year and a wonderful life! :) As for me, I'm doing more of what I love. Hanging with my friends and family, going to the Ocean, making music, cooking in the kitchen (I just had a STELLAR breakfast!), going to great restaurants (just did a crab feast with my bro last night!), creating, doing business, relaxing, laughing, thinking, reading, listening, collaborating, sharing... and continue looking for the good stuff! Later in the week I'm doing a road trip to visit Francis Dunnery. We're celebrating his birthday, doing some recording and a gig on New Year's Eve! I asked him what he thought about what people have been saying about the end of the world and he said "Not on the Dunnery clock! We've got too many things to do."

Here's Francis Dunnery's song "My Own Reality"

For anyone looking for an apocalypse have one in 9/8 instead. Here's me, Francis Dunnery and Simon Collins guesting with Steve Hackett of Genesis doing Supper's Ready (the three of us come in on vocals and keys from the Guards of Magog section to the end of the song):

Here's the Sound of Contact...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

That about wraps 'er up!

I like to quote movies. Some movies like "The Big Lebowski" have a ton of fun quotes to pull out at the right time. "That about wraps 'er up" is fitting for the end of another marathon run of Squids traveling. This time on the West and East coast of the USA. From LA to New York and now back to sunny Miami where I can relax for a minute... before I come back up in a couple of weeks to meet up with Francis Dunnery for some holiday hang time, a little studio recording and a New Year's Eve gig at the Tin Angel!
Here's me, Squids, with Francis Dunnery, Steve Hackett and friends performing one of Francis's songs called "Still Too Young To Remember" which he originally recorded with "It Bites"

Squids Travels Update: 

So, here's what happened over the last couple of days. A CD release party in upstate New York with Randy McStine for his Lo-Fi Resistance album "Chalk Lines" which I played keyboards on, co-produced and co-wrote 3 of the songs. At the same time I did a session with Keith Emerson remotely on the West Coast. I'll explain what I mean by "remotely" in a bit. I've been working with a very talented 3D graphics artist on something "secret" that will be launched this coming week (finger's crossed). Another cool thing that happened in the last couple of days is the release of an interview I participated in with writer Anil Prasad (Innerviews) who was doing an article for a guitar magazine and covered Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited 2 and Squackett albums. I also got a nice mention on Steve Hackett's website Thanks Steve! Thanks Anil!

Your blog host Squids provided some production work on Steve Hackett's Genesis Revisited 2 album bringing in vocalists Simon Collins and Francis Dunnery as well as playing keys on "Supper's Ready".

Lo-Fi Resistance Chalk Lines Just Released on CD!
Colin Edwin, Dave Kerzner & Nick Davis at Genesis' studio The Farm

It was great to visit Randy in his home town. We did a "CD listening party" in Binghamton, NY where we played some previously unseen videos including an interview I did with Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree at Genesis' studio The Farm in the UK about his participation on the album. We also played a video collage of various takes in the studio during the making of the album. 
Listent to a collage of audio clips from the album here.

Then we played the entire album from beginning to end. Randy put together a very cool visual of the beautiful album booklet graphics to accompany the music so there was something to look at while listening. There's a great thing when you hear something in the presence of others. You get a sense of their fresh perspective. I was very proud of the work we did on the album, especially when hearing it this way. It's well crafted with a healthy balance of songwriting substance, ear candy sonic production elements and musically tasteful performances from album contributors Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree, King Crimson), Dug Pinnick (King's X), Colin Edwin (Porcupine Tree) and John Giblin (Brand X, Kate Bush). I got to infuse some of my vintage and atmospheric style of keyboards and sound design in there, John Wesley helped Randy get great guitar tones and effects in his studio as well, we used Kevin Gilbert's old U47 mic on the vocals in my studio... a lot of quality ingredients! None of that would matter if the songs weren't there but fortunately that's the core anchor of the album following Randy's lyrical story and vision. It's a 51 minute 'concept album' with segues and tie ins at the end to earlier parts on the album... a very "put on the headphones and listen to the whole thing" type of album which I've always liked and you don't hear so often these days. 

After the album listening we did some Q&A which was recorded on video. So was the college radio interview we did earlier in the week which I will post at some point when I have access to it. It was great meeting everybody including Randy's family, friends and local fans. It was especially interesting hearing impressions from people who came there after hearing about it on the radio or by word of mouth. I remember one person came up to me after and said that he was totally blown away and it was instantly one of his favorite albums to come out in a long time. He was really sincere when he said it and I tried to imagine what it must have been like from his perspective. I think if you like artists like Jellyfish, Kevin Gilbert, Porcupine Tree, King Crimson, Beatles, Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Tears for Fears, Keane, Radiohead, Muse, Sigur Ros, Yes, Genesis etc. and you came to some local presentation of a relatively new artist's independent album release you might get a nice surprise. It's no ordinary production.

Chalk Lines is now shipping and available on CD from Burning Shed
Randy and I signing posters and CDs at the event. 

Keith Emerson Session Part 2!
Keith Emerson with SR's remote sampling engineer Simeon Spiegel

If you've followed my Squids Travels previous posts there was some back story behind a session I did in LA with Alan Parsons and Keith Emerson a week ago. It was incredible! Just the other day we had part 2 of that session which involved more sampling of Keith's incredible Modular Moog synthesizer and yet another music session as well for an album I'm producing with "Sonic Elements". The first music session in LA involved two different songs and albums. One is something I was assisting on for a progressive rock artist from Europe that I can't name yet but will be revealed at some point in time. The other was for a Sonic Elements album I am doing with Alan Parsons based on vintage sounds in the style of Pink Floyd. In fact, since I am doing a sample library with both Alan and Keith this is a really cool 'cross-over' between those two worlds sonically (in other words the Moog Modular vs. the EMS Synthi & Minimoog in a cool synth jam duel between myself and Keith!)
The rare EMS Synthi (not "Battleship")

For this session the other day Keith was playing a very ELP-Tarkus-style bit and full on keyboard solo on a track I'm producing again for Sonic Elements featuring Billy Sherwood (formerly of the band Yes) and Neil Peart Drums (drum performances from Neil Peart of the band Rush sampled by Sonic Reality and produced by myself and Nick Raskulinecz). This is one EPIC prog track! To have Neil's drumming (via the sample libraries I've done with him) and Keith's keys, Billy Sherwood's 'amazing bass' (very Squire-influenced... meets Geddy in this case) and an additional element I haven't even mentioned yet... WOW! I'm psyched beyond words and so grateful to Keith and all those guys for being part of my music projects. It's truly an honor to be able to work with such legendary talented artists. I'm having a field day with it. I love making music even it's just me with a beat up old piano or ragged guitar. But I also enjoy elaborate productions and mixing up the creative elements to see what happens when you collaborate with incredible musicians of different generations and musical backgrounds. 
Keith Emerson and Dave "Squids" Kerzner with the Mighty Moog (and Mini iRig Keys)

This time I had to do the session remotely from the other side of the country. Fortunately I have a long time friend and associate engineer Simeon Spiegel there in LA to capture what I needed from Keith. I have some incredible resources all around the world now to be able to do some amazing things I never would have thought possible 10-20 years ago. But thanks to the internet the world is smaller and your options are greater (but don't get too excited... thanks to the internet the music industry has practically imploded!!!).

Still Reading? I'm impressed! :) 

So you've seen a lot of cool stuff happen on here in the past month or so, especially with regard to some big names in classic and progressive rock. As you might imagine I'm dangerously close to getting used to being spoiled here with all these amazing musicians willing to work with me! But I've kept it all in check. When it happens like this it's great but there are no guarantees. You just have to ride the wave and be clear with your intentions... and bold enough to take some risks while ready to accept that it may or may not happen how you want it to. 

Being in the production chair and directing the music or sample session is a place I'm very comfortable with even in cases like this where there are high profile players involved. Not just to pat the inner fan in me on the back for finally getting to work with my childhood music heroes but more so I have the opportunity to do my best to help make it great whatever it is or ends up being. My motivation to make sample libraries is to offer the sort of sounds that inspire me when I make music or the kind of sounds I feel people can make great use of in their music. My drive to write, produce and perform music is to give back to other listeners the type of qualities I myself have enjoyed in music over the years. That's in every aspect from songwriting to arrangement to production to sound design to performing with any of these guys. The music, the performances or the sampling itself is the priority because that has to be good no matter who it is you're working with.
Neil Peart, Terry Bozzio, Dave "Squids" Kerzner & Nick Raskulinecz
SR in the studio with Ken Scott, Keith Emerson, Rod Morgenstein

One thing that ALL of these guys have in common no matter how "famous" they are (I bet both Neil Peart has been listed as "best rock drummer" and Keith Emerson as "best rock keyboard player" at the same time in some poll somewhere) is that they are MUSICIANS and REAL PEOPLE first and foremost. They have a vitality to them and they don't rest on their laurels. They continue to create. I'm sure they appreciate the accolades, the success, the role they play and position they're in etc. but that doesn't mean they want everyone to worship the ground they walk on. They want the respect they have earned. But from my experience I think most of the truly great musicians enjoy it if you're just real with them and work like you would with any other musician you respect, famous or not. If you think the take could be better you say so. If you want to get a great performance recorded you do what you have to do using wise psychology and social skills combined with proficient technical chops and most importantly a vision for what you're after. That and a sense of humor is key! Don't take yourself too seriously and don't take them too seriously either. It's a balance! Each person's ego is different and you always have to feel the situation out, take a few chances and see what happens. What will be will be. But when it does all come together... it's absolutely amazing! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Brubeck to Emerson to Squids in Binghamton

Road trip!

I drove up to Binghamton, NY to meet up with Randy McStine who I've been working with both on my own project Sonic Elements as well as his original music project called "Lo-Fi Resistance". This past year I co-produced, co-wrote and played keys on his album "Chalk Lines" and I came up to celebrate the release of the album in his home town!

Here's the "Chalk Lines" album in a record store 
(as a joke we put it in the Nickelback section just for the photo)

It was a 3 and 1/2 hour drive from where I was in Connecticut. But when you're into music like I am you don't talk about how many "hours" driving. It's how many "albums"... like this: "It was 4 albums away". That's nothing! What a great chance to listen to 4 albums all the way through... and with cool scenery like shown above. I listened to all of ELP's Tarkus and I listened to all of Chalk Lines as well. I put on the roughs of my own solo album and I cranked up Led Zeppelin's new Celebration Day live album. It was quite an enjoyable ride! 

When I arrived we immediately head over to a college radio station called The Signal, WHRW 90.5 in Binghamton for a live interview promoting Chalk Lines. They played 3 songs from the album, one song from Randy's first Lo-Fi Resistance album "A Deep Breath" and they also played the Sonic Elements version of "Limelight" by Rush which features Randy on vocals, me on keys, John Wesley on guitars, Billy Sherwood on bass and Neil Peart Drums by Sonic Reality (Neil Peart of Rush performing the drums via a sample library I did with Rush producer Nick Raskulinecz). It was a lot of fun. 

The next day, while I was waiting for Randy to personally send out CDs to his Kickstarter backers, I gave Keith Emerson a call. We had talked tentatively about doing another session this coming weekend so I wanted to confirm. The 45 minute epic conversation I had with Keith was very emotional because today Dave Brubeck passed away and he was a huge influence of Keith's. He was telling me how he had just spoken with Dave's son a few days ago and they were making plans for Brubeck's 92nd birthday which would have been tomorrow. I had actually read that on Keith's girlfriend Mari's Facebook page... and also that they had been crying all day when they heard the news. So, I knew this was going to be a difficult conversation for him to have emotionally but it was good we did. Pretty amazing that here one of MY musical heroes was telling me all about one of HIS musical heroes. What an honor to see Brubeck through Emerson's eyes for that moment. Keith was telling me how Dave Brubeck signed something for him once and that Dave had asked Keith "How do you do that spinning piano trick?" and Keith replied "I don't recommend it"... a lot of fond memories that I was privileged to hear. 

Dave Brubeck and Keith Emerson in 2009

We talked about Brubeck's musical legacy and of course I reminded Keith that we all feel the same way about him. He knows that. But I think it's safe to say that it means a lot to him to know that he's influenced younger generations of musicians. He even said at one point in the conversation "we should perform a dual piano thing live" and I thought to myself "uh oh... how good does he think I am????" haha. It'd be a thrill for me and I'd just have to embrace my inner Tarkus. I suggested that Keith join me and Francis Dunnery for one of the charity event gigs at some point. He seemed to like that idea a lot and it just so happened that Francis called through while I was talking to Keith. Some nice serendipity there! I love that. 

Keith and I talked about many other things including some very funny stories as well. You can imagine how many great stories someone like Keith Emerson might have to tell. I have some good ones too and we both agreed how important it is to have a sense of humor. We also talked about how music has a life of its own and lives on past the people who have made it. Dave Brubeck has an amazing legacy and his music has had a huge impact on so many people. He lived a long life and we should all be so lucky to make it within a day of turning 92. We sometimes think people will be around forever. But we all have to go sometime. C'est la vie. Dave Brubeck will be missed and will continue to be celebrated by many. 

On the way back it started to snow. It was really beautiful. 

Monday, December 3, 2012

East & West coast vocals and some more travels...

I'm back with a travel update. I spent most of the day today in Connecticut recording with Lorelei McBroom, sister of Durga McBroom-Hudson who I recorded with Alan Parsons just a week ago in LA. One sister on the West Coast and the other on the East Coast harmonizing beautifully. Their voices blend so well together and since they've both sung with Pink Floyd, and Lorelei currently tours with the Australian Pink Floyd tribute act they are right on the... oh I was going to do a really corny pun right there but I stopped myself. It was a word that rhymes with "honey"! haha.

Lorelei McBroom

Seriously they were both great! We recording backing vocals for the Sonic Elements tribute to Pink Floyd which is coming out next year and involves all sorts of interesting new 'artist' sample libraries from Sonic Reality (discussed or hinted at earlier in this blog) plus a wide range of talented guest performances from the likes of Alastair Greene, John Wesley, Colin Edwin, Francis Dunnery, Dorie Jackson, The McBroom Sisters, Steve Rothery and more! It includes beautiful renditions of the songs from Dark Side of the Moon which I'm recording with Alan Parsons who originally recorded the album back in 1973. Pretty amazing stuff! There's even more to it than that... but little bit little all will be revealed.

Dave "Squids" Kerzner, Durga McBroom-Hudson, Alan Parsons

So, what else is going on in the travels of a man called Squids? Many things. I got an update from Francis Dunnery who is 'on the road' with Dorie Jackson doing house concerts on the West Coast. He's heavy into astrology so I get tales of the tail end of "Mercury in Retrograde" from him! He's hanging in there doing his thing. I helped him get going with some 'sounds for the road' for his laptop running SampleTank and Sonic Reality samples in Logic. 

Late last night I did a rough mix of a Keith Emerson session I recorded for a prominent modern prog artist overseas. It was a special session because Keith hadn't played his Moog in quite a while... over a year at least. It's now in the best shape it's ever been in! So perhaps we'll be hearing more Moog from Keith. Speaking of that I was setting up a time for some more sampling of the Moog remotely and Keith, who is a very charismatic and unpredictable guy, told me that he could be available this coming weekend but he has to schedule it around jamming with a punk band! Yep! That's Keith. 68 going on 29! What a character. I love it. He's so cool! 

Keith Emerson stashing away IK Multimedia's iRig Keys in his shirt. 

On Wednesday I head up to Birmingham to meet with Randy McStine for the release of the new Lo-Fi Resistance album "Chalk Lines"  We're going to do a radio interview as soon as I get there and then some video stuff and a variety of other things leading up to a listening party on the 7th which is open to the public. Randy just got another good review of the album here. I got an email from Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree who played bass on the album wishing us well with the release. A shame he and Gavin Harrison are in the UK or they would have come to the CD Release Party too. They'll be there in both spirit and on speakers! Very proud of the work we all did on this album. I co-wrote three of the tunes on it as well toward the end and it really trips out! 

There's even more than that going on such as directing visual graphics with a talented 3D artist overseas for the band project I'm in with Simon Collins, turning in samples for an upcoming IK Multimedia product and all sorts of things that go on in parallel in many different parts of the world. The only reason I am able to do so many things at once is because I work with a lot of people who are great at what they do.... that and the multi-tasking tentacle thing. It's good to be a Squid! 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Back in New York City!

Before I left LA to go to NY I was fortunate to see Francis Dunnery and Dorie Jackson perform a live gig! They were kicking off a two week tour of the West Coast by doing a show in Fullerton, just an hour outside of LA. It was a club called “Steamers” and was put on by Calprog who are also putting on a Steve Hackett gig on April 1st. Small possibility I may go to that show with either Simon Collins or Francis Dunnery as I know both of them want to see Steve play live as do I.  We’d also love to sit in on a tune. Francis and I already had an amazing opportunity to do that at his CKDCF charity event mentioned earlier in Squids Travels. Here’s another clip from that. An acoustic medley and “Blood On The Rooftops”

So, I went down there with Simeon who I had been recording with. My friend Gavin Lurssen who is an award-winning mastering engineer (and does all the mastering for Sonic Elements) was also going to try to make it to the show. It was great to see Francis and Dorie again. I've actually never seen them perform live together. Dorie couldn't make it to the charity gig we did. But Francis has been telling me I have to see what they do with the harmonies. It's really tight. Their voices blend so well together and individually they're two of my favorite voices and people. It was a shame I couldn't stay a few more days and hang with them some more. But I had a flight booked to New York the next day. 

That's a YouTube link to watch Back in NYC from the gig. Just a clip shot from my iPhone. 

After the gig they wanted to get some food and for some reason they chose Denny's. To me that's a late night last resort and it wasn't even that late. But, it was more about the company than the food. I did end up having French Toast just because I couldn't handle watching everyone eating breakfast without me (my original plan was to eat nothing and like it). 

The next day I had to prepare for my flight but I did a quick trade with Simeon for yet another one of his guitars. He has an incredible guitar collection and most of them are boutique gorgeous "don't touch it, don't even look at it' type guitars like these:

They are beautiful instruments. I don't have anything like that. I tend to get more ratty beat up guitars or ones that have a quirky charm to them or are just easy to play and have a vibe. Some of them I've gotten from friends and my favorite guitar of all time is a Dan Electro Convertible Acoustic/Electric guitar. I should really name it. Guy Pratt told me a story about how he named his favorite bass "Betsy". I did a great video interview with Guy that's coming where he goes into detail about many of his basses. It made me think about my Dano. (or if it's a she "Dana", "Dani", "Daniella"?)

Look at that lovely 70's kitchen counter top formica! 

Believe it or not Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin used a very similar guitar with the same lipstick pick ups as this one. He had a "Silvertone" guitar which was sold by SEARS! Yep. The same people who make washer and dryers. I believe those guitars were really made by Dan Electro and licensed to Sears under the "Silvertone" brand name. The Silvertone Page used was cool because the guitar case had a little mini guitar amp in it! Not a very good one though. Jimmy played the perfect note through an old Supro amp and I actually had that exact model amp too and sold it to Simeon years ago. Maybe he'll sell it back to me. Well, anyway, what I did manage to accomplish is a trade involving his Jerry Jones electric 12 string. He's had it for decades and I've rarely seen him use it. It's a similar style as the vintage Dan Electros. It has the lipstick pick ups, it's light and easy to play... but it's a 12 string! Every time I've picked it up I've wanted to start writing something. That's how you know the guitar is good in my opinion. It has very little to do with its book value or the brand name or how collectible it is. I mean that counts for something but what trumps that is how it feels when you play it and how it makes you feel, what it inspires in you... that's what makes an instrument great. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to present the latest member of the Squids family of instruments. Jerry! (the female Jerry... you know... like Jerry Hall? No? I'm not sure about this naming thing. But here she is anyway):

Found the perfect case to take my ghostly black and white electric 12 to take on the plane.

So, I flew to New York and now I'm in Connecticut visiting my Mom. In a few days I head up to Binghamton, NY for some radio interviews and a CD release party of an album I co-produced with Randy McStine called "Chalk Lines" by Lo-Fi Resistance. You can still download a free track from it called "The Silent War". I'm not sure how long that will be available so go grab it and check it out! It features Randy on guitar and vocals, me on keys, Colin Edwin and Gavin Harrison of Porcupine Tree on bass and drums respectively plus other guests. Randy's previous Lo-Fi Resistance album "A Deep Breath" which has contributions from my old Thud bandmate Nick D'Virgilio is now also available from Burning Shed. 

I'm also planning a few cool sessions while I'm up here including one with Lorelei McBroom, Durga McBroom-Hudson's sister who also sang with Pink Floyd as well as Rod Stewart, The Rolling Stones and many others. So... more to come! Might slow the blogging down just a little and relax though. I'm sure you don't mind. It's been an onslaught of stuffed Squids lately. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

... to the show that never ends!

Here's part two of the Emerson, Squids & Parsons session plus a wrap up of this incredible LA trip before I head off to NY. Besides thoroughly sampling the iconic sounds of Keith's Moog for an upcoming Sonic Reality sample library bearing his name I also had a few other things I was hoping we'd get to before Alan and I had to leave to go to the other studio to work on what he originally came down to do. One was a session I was recording for an artist for a prog label. I won't mention the artist or the label yet because I'm not sure if they want it to be a secret. Probably. So, anyway, that went well. Then there was this fun idea of Keith playing on a Sonic Elements track or two. He was game! We fired up the track and he improvised a wicked keyboard solo. When I get home I'm to 'trade solos' with him on my Minimoog and EMS Synthi (vs. his Modular Moog). What a dream that is. Dueling keyboard solos with Keith Emerson! What a lucky man I was for that to happen!!!!

Uncle Alan and Uncle Keith! My pals and musical mentors. 

So, that wrapped up an amazing first part of the day with Keith and Alan. We then headed over to Sherman Oaks to record at Simeon Spiegel's incredible "Blue Forest Studios". I've known Simeon since 1989 and he's into "quality" like I am (food, music...). He's also a major gear-head so his studio has the right analog and digital gear for what I need when I come to LA. I love working there. It's like having a second project studio. We had a few things on our to do list before former Pink Floyd backing vocalist Durga McBroom-Hudson was to arrive. But we didn't have a lot of TIME. So we did a rough mix of the song "Money" which we were covering using Sonic Reality sounds. Billy Sherwood (Yes, Circa) was on bass and Alastair Greene of the Alan Parsons Live Project was on vocals and guitar, me on keys... We were also there to get to mixing Nick Mason's drums that we recorded several weeks prior in England. 

Alan Parsons, Simeon Spiegel and I with the amazing Durga McBroom-Hudson

At 5 o'clock on the dot (even earlier) Durga McBroom-Hudson arrived. We recorded backing vocals to Sonic Elements' tribute to Dark Side of the Moon with Alan Parsons engineering. We also did "Great Gig In The Sky" which I am putting together with a variety of amazing singers including Dorie Jackson who I saw later that day performing with Francis Dunnery! Durga was incredible. Such a powerful voice! She was a pleasure to work with and I think it was a thrill for her to do the session with Alan Parsons who originally recorded Dark Side of the Moon. She's had quite a Floyd experience! We had sushi after and she told us some great stories about being on the road with Pink Floyd. Fantastic stuff! Looking forward to working with her again. 

Hanging with Francis Dunnery and Dorie Jackson after the gig at the luxurious Denny's Bistro. 

Once again I have to run (always 'on the run') and grab myself a breakfast sandwich before I run a few errands and prepare for my trip back. I'll continue on with the rest of the "LA Story" perhaps while I'm on the plane! It's not easy squeezing in these blog posts during actual LIVE action! But if I don't jot these things down while they're happening I may forget certain details so I've been as diligent as I can be about it. At least I think and type fast. ;)   See you again soon! If you came here from my Facebook page then make sure you click "like" so I know you like it. Otherwise I feel like I'm talking to myself... which is fine because I do it all the time (I'm the guy muttering things to himself and chuckling down the street). But, it's encouraging just to know that people are into it so let me know! If you're not 'friended' to me on Facebook then don't be shy and understand that I'm a Facebook whore so until they stop me from having more friends on there I'm fine with the unrealistic friend numbers (you know, no one could possibly have thousands of actual friends?). So if you like lots of GEAR, lots of MUSICIANS, lots of FOOD PICS and OCEANS, SKY and TRAVEL shots then that's going to be a fun place to be. 

Here's my personal FB whore page: 

Here's my personal MUSIC 'fan' page:

Here's the Sonic Elements fan page:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Welcome back my friends...

I'll have to do this blog post in two parts because there's a lot to talk about from yesterday's MONSTER session with Keith Emerson and Alan Parsons. The two of them have met only once before briefly but I'm friends with both of them so I thought to try something. If they get along with me they'd surely get along with each other and they did! It was quite an EPIC session! I was originally going to do two separate sessions on different days but somehow it ended up all on the same day. A bit nerve-wracking but it all came together in the end! I don't know if I would have been comfortable doing that if I didn't know already that these two guys are some of the coolest, easy going and friendly 'legends of rock' there are.

So it started off with Alan Parsons arriving just outside of LA coming down from Santa Barbara. He first marveled at an electric car built by Gene Stopp, a technician who has been working for the past year on fixing and 'hot-rodding" Keith Emerson's massive Moog Modular system. Apparently Gene's car proves that such a thing can be made, a car that would cost 8 times less than gas to run and it does go up to 85 mph. He has a blog about it.

While we were there waiting for Keith to arrive up in the hills just north of and west of LA we set up video and talked to Alan about what he's up to musically. We asked more questions about classic Alan Parsons Project albums and made good use of the time. When Keith showed up we all chatted for a bit and then got to work! Now, because Keith's Modular Moog System is so huge and heavy, instead of bringing it to a studio I brought a studio to it! I had one of the most portable high quality recording rigs you can get with me on this trip. A MacBook Air, ProTools 10 and an RME UCX interface. I had my IK Multimedia iRig Keys handy as well. Fortunately with a direct signal you're not concerned with the acoustics of the environment being a factor.

Squids New Portable Studio Rig

So... what WAS I doing with Keith Emerson and Alan Parsons and a recording rig? That's a very good question. Well, I am co-producing two sample libraries with them for my company Sonic Reality. One is the Alan Parsons Sample Project and the other is the Keith Emerson Keyboard Collection. They're not 'officially' announced yet and this is all advanced 'being the scenes' stuff I like to share in the long process of making these types of products because... well, because it's fun! The end resulting products will be a series of authentic sounds these guys are known for which my company SR puts into software products that musicians can buy to use in their own music. It's essentially like having a virtual reality Keith Emerson play on your song with his amazing rare equipment. Or it's like having Alan Parsons engineer your drum sounds or cool esoteric keyboard sounds. It's sort of like that in that you can use these authentic elements in your own music if you purchase their Sonic Reality products when they become available. 

We're sampling the keyboards Keith Emerson has used with ELP and more for his upcoming sample library with Sonic Reality. 

The other thing we're doing is making music! I like to 'mix up the elements' and go for the unexpected chemistry of people, gear and sounds. Since I've been fortunate to meet and work with some amazing artists and producers I've had the chance myself to combine interesting cameos and collaborations on music I'm producing with my own music project, Sonic Elements (aka "The Sonic Reality Progressive Rock Project"). So, one VERY cool thing we did during this session was have Keith Emerson play a ripping synth lead on a song that Alan Parsons and I are working on with Sonic Elements. I'll tell you more about that in the part 2 of this blog post. Right now I have to get ready for another session with Durga McBroom-Hudson. She was one of the backing vocalists on the Pink Floyd Momentary Lapse and Division Bell tours. More to come!

Alan Parsons, Dave Kerzner & Keith Emerson

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