Monday, October 22, 2012

Today's the day to celebrate...

October 22nd, 2012

I have arrived in London. Because I'm picky about my keyboards I brought my Nord Wave with me in addition to my other luggage. I underestimated what it'd be like dragging around gear AND all your bags through the airport and the Underground. I could have taken a taxi but the price difference was literally 10 times the amount!!!! So I roughed it. On the upside I think I lost a few pounds. Good workout! It was a red eye and I had a weird little two seat fetus position sleeping thing that ALMOST counts. That plus a little nap at the hotel and I think I'm about as good as it's going to get for the first day. Maybe jet lagged a little.

Tonight I meet up with Francis Dunnery at Steve Hackett's CD release party for "Genesis Revisited 2". It's a private event and I'm sure industry people will be there, I know some fans won tickets to go as well and of course there will be a variety of musicians who played on the album. Simon Collins couldn't make it out here unfortunately. Also Steve Rothery told me he won't be able to make it either. But I imagine John Wetton, Steven Wilson, Mikael Akerfeldt, Gary O'Toole, Roger King, Nad Sylvan, Neil Morse, Nick Beggs and many others will be. I guess I'll find out soon enough! I will have to snap some pictures. I hear that Steve is also going to be performing some of the songs so I'm looking forward to that. I've never seen Steve Hackett play live and actually I've never met him officially in person. Just phone calls and emails all this time. So, I'm very much looking forward to this evening!

Later this week Francis and I will be performing some Genesis songs and more with Steve Hackett which is so exciting I can't wait! To complete the Genesis experience I am doing a session at "The Farm" tomorrow with Genesis' producer/engineer Nick Davis. Earlier in the day we are recording Dorie Jackson on vocals and Colin Edwin on bass. I haven't met either of them in person either even though I've worked with them both. Dorie has sung on a variety of "Sonic Elements" songs with Francis and Colin recently played on an album with me called "Chalk Lines" by "Lo-Fi Resistance" that is coming out this year. So I'm looking forward to that! Afterward we start sampling more drums in the stone room (nothing to do with being stoned btw). I'll post more about that later. I have to go out and buy some clothes and get some food! It's a little foggy and damp out. I also forgot my running shoes for the charity walk I'm doing later in the week. So... off to the market!

Check out the news on the IK Multimedia site

Sunday, October 21, 2012

MC Dave the Wedding Crasher

October 21st, 2012

I'm getting ready to go to England tomorrow. I was going to write a blog the other day called "Last of the Mojitos" talking about this vicious hangover I had after drinking a few mojitos. The worst heartburn ever too. But I was busy preparing my speech for my brother's wedding which was yesterday. I was the  "best man" and he's my only brother so I had to make it good.

I talked about us as kids and the various games we used to play. I talked about how unexpected it was that we would end up working together especially since I'm the only musician in the family (a "piano guy") and he's more of a "numbers guy" into sales and business. He was helping me out years ago with my company Sonic Reality coming in a few times a week to do the books. One day the CEO of IK Multimedia was there and met him. He said to me "I want to hire your brother to be the managing director of the US office of IK" and when I called my brother to tell him he thought I was joking at first... especially about the part where he had to give an immediate yes or no answer. But he did end up saying yes and has managed IK Multimedia US for years bringing out all sorts of amazing products including the very popular 'iRig" series of musical accessories for the iPhone/iPad, the AmpliTube range of software that creates a virtual guitar and effects rig modeling the best official amps and pedals, the SampleTank range which I have contributed most of the sounds for with my company Sonic Reality and more! So in my speech I told a bit of that story and also how he met his wife Claudia. I was there the day they met because she was the receptionist for our accountant! It was a nice story and since many of the IK and SR staff were also at the wedding I don't think they knew all of that background.

Erik Norlander was there with his wife Lana Lane. Erik also works with both SR and IK. I've known him since 1989 when I lived in LA. He had a band called "Rocket Scientists" with my friend Mark McCrite. I used to work with Erik when he was at Alesis. I would provide samples for their Q Series keyboards and expansion cards. So many years later we were talking at a NAMM show and I said "It would really be great if I could find someone who could help manage things" and he said "I'll do it". So that was that! Erik splits his time like I do between working on music software/sound development and playing music. He's been playing with Asia Featuring John Payne and Big Noise (featuring members of Deep Purple, ACDC etc.).

I was supposed to be the "MC" for my brother Gary's wedding last night but fortunately they had someone doing the "let's get up and dance" part. I just had to do my speech and I was home free. But it reminded me years ago when I was asked to MC Simon Collins' wedding. I introduced all of the various speeches and did a fun little prelude to each one. It all lead up to the last one with Simon's father, Phil Collins, giving a speech. I went to town on that introduction pulling out all the best PC song puns I could. "The next person needs no introduction. But I'm going to anyway because I've been waiting for this moment all my life..." and then everyone knew what I was up to. I wrapped it up with "all the way from Switzerland, against ALL odds and there's no going back!" It was pretty funny. Afterward he was looking at me and I said "Am I in trouble?" and he said "Nah it was great." They thought it was a nice touch that I had even worked in "Going Back" which was his most recent (and possibly last?) album. So that was my cue to be able to sit down and talk with him. He told me about the situation with his hands and being frustrated about not being able to play drums anymore. We talked about the samples I do with Sonic Reality and he was particularly interested in Motown loops. I told him we had actually gone to the Farm with Hugh Padgham and Nick Davis to sample drums in that stone room. But of course he's had plenty of that! He was more interested in Motown style and other sounds. It reminded me of when Ringo and his engineer/producer Bruce Sugar were the VERY first to buy our "Ocean Way Drums" software/sample library. But when we came out with the "In the style of Ringo" sample libraries I asked Bruce what he thought. His answer was "Well... we're good there!".

Now this coming week I'll be going BACK to The Farm, Genesis' studio in Surrey, England, to once again sample drums. This time we're sampling the exact spec Gretsch kit as well as Phil's old Pearl kit that he used back in the Abacab/Robert Plant early 80's era. Those two kits courtesy of Graham Collins and Phildas Surakshadevi Bhakta. I met Graham through a V-Drums forum and Phildas through the old Genesis forum that Nick Davis used to frequent as well. Nick Davis is Genesis' engineer/co-producer who I've been not only working on a sample library with (called Nick Davis The Farm Sessions) but Nick also mixed an album I did with Simon Collins that is coming out very soon! So... I'm looking forward to seeing Nick again as well as Dale Newman, Geoff Callingham and Harry Rutherford (Mike's son who works at The Farm). Not only are we sampling drums but we're also recording me playing piano with Dorie Jackson singing "Great Gig In the Sky" and we're overdubbing Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree for the song "Time" which features John Wesley on guitar and vocals, myself on keys and sounds from the Alan Parsons Sample Project! In fact, there's ALSO a session later in the week with Alan but I'll have to save that for another blog. This first actual "traveling" will have some cool real-time updates that I'll do my best to post along with pictures and maybe some video too!

Alright! Back to packing. See you later!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Let it go

October 19th, 2012 - Squids Travels

There's an amazing power to letting go. I'm learning the art of it more and more. It's not the same as quitting. It's more to do with acceptance of whatever will be will be. You don't give up on your desire but at the same time your happiness is not dependent upon the outcome. Be happy anyway and let things unfold however they will. You may just be surprised at what happens.

The other day it was uncertain as to whether the "big session" at the end of this trip was going to be possible. It was a tall order! What I'm putting together is unique, special and amazing! It relates to one of my favorite bands (besides Genesis) and it's very delicate to pull off. I'm in the producer's seat and a lot of the weight of decisions on how things are to be done falls on my shoulders. That's a challenge! But so far so good. The other day I completely let go of my attachment to this session happening even though the studio and hotels were already booked. I figured in a worst case scenario I'll just sample instruments and record music anyway myself. Fortunately I'm musician as much as I am a business man so I'm never without something creative or productive to do. I just don't operate with unlimited budgets to book high end studios all over the world without a solid confirmation of who will be able to make the session but you know... sometimes in life you have to take risks.

Good news is that I got confirmation this morning that it is a "go"! The artists, the engineer, the tech, the cartage, the studio... ALL green lighted!!!! Ironically that feels even BETTER after I gave my expectations a lot more 'slack'. It became more of a surprise than if I was expecting it to happen. At the same time if it couldn't happen the let down would have been much smaller because I had already let go of my attachment to the outcome... with no less desire to do it, just more acceptance of whatever will be.

So that's positive. Another thing I noticed last night while putting together a piece for IK Multimedia on Steve Hackett's use of IK plug-ins and Sonic Reality sounds is that, in besides 'keys and programming' on "Supper's Ready", I got an "additional production" credit in the liner notes of the Genesis Revisited 2 album. Check it out!  That may be the closest I'll ever get to being involved in the production of a Genesis album (bucket list!!!!). Granted this isn't actually Genesis but these are also some of the songs, era and style of the band I love the most. To think that this is something that could be happening in 2012 is mind boggling. As for the "additional production" credit, I wasn't expecting it even though I knew I was encroaching on that territory by bringing in artists to the project, doing various sound design and conducting vocal sessions with Simon. The thing is though... no one asked me to go that far into the production side of things. But I went ahead and did it anyway just to be helpful because that's what's natural for me. Again sometimes you have to take risks. The worst that can happen is they say no!

Here's a new video blog with Steve Hackett and Roger King talking about the Genesis Revisited 2 album:

If I'm working on something I give it my best. I'm not the guy you just put some sheet music in front of and ask that it be executed flawlessly. (In fact I can't even sight read music... I'd have to do it by memory after I figured it out by ear with a little bit of sheet music reference if that). My value to a project is that I'm more of a resourceful creative element.  It's better for me if I am given some creative freedom in a project to at least "co-produce" but that role isn't offered all the time so when it isn't I just go right up to the line for the sake of a quality end result. It's just not up to me what is kept and what is discarded in those cases.

Another album track I went beyond the call of keyboard duty on was "Bloody Well Right" from the album "Songs of The Century - A Tribute to Supertramp" It features me on keys with Joe Lynn Turner of Rainbow & Deep Purple on vocals, Billy Sherwood and Scott Connor on guitars, bass and drums. Billy was producing it and he didn't ask me to co-produce it with him... but I went up to the edge and really put a sonic stamp on it. A little more "Hodgson-esque ear candy" style added to it... with hints of "Blinded by The Light" and The Beach Boys. In fact, if I WAS producing it I would have taken it further and put those "aaah" backing vocals in there too and gone total retro 70's with it. But, that would have gotten a "ummm Dude? What are you doing?" so I left it at an "orgy of 70's keyboards". In all fairness, whenever I hire Billy Sherwood to play on anything I'm producing he does the same thing! He can't help it and I don't blame him. I fully understand.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sleep (or the lack of it)

Sleep (or the lack of it)

October 18th, 2012, Squids Travels

Just a few more days before I ship off to England. Today is a special day for many reasons. Right now it's early early morning. I fell asleep on the studio couch again. I'm a couch crasher. I can sleep anywhere. If I'm tired I'm out fast too. I should be sleeping now but there are so many things to take care of that I can use the time... and a lot of those things have to do with people in the UK who are 6 hours ahead. But I do need some more sleep so this one is going to be short and maybe I'll add to it later. 

What's new? I've been preparing for this gig I'm doing on October 27th in Cumbria, England. It's a charity event put together by Francis Dunnery. They do it once a year and each time they have a variety of artists on his label "Aquarian Nation" plus some special guests. In the past that's included Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin who Francis used to play guitar with. This time it's Steve Hackett, ex-guitarist for Genesis. With us all being long time Genesis fans that's an extra thrill to play with him. I say 'extra' because I'm excited to play all of it! I got to help pick all of the Frank songs we're doing and they are some great tunes! I'm playing keys on a song with Brett and Paul form the band Echolyn. They sent me their albums and I've been listening to the latest one over and over. It's really good. It's just called "Echolyn" (even though they've had many albums before it). They actually played Progfest '94 in LA which I also played at with Kevin Gilbert and Giraffe (we played The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway - or an hour of it anyway). However I didn't meet them then. I'll get to meet them now though!

The spirit of the event is fantastic. Cool people getting together for a good cause which is helping children with diseases like cancer. Every bit is used to make a difference in someone's life and I'm very proud that I'm 70% toward my goal for raising money for the charity from people donating to sponsor my participation in this 7 mile walk (can't believe I'm going to do that in the mud around a lake... should be interesting!). If you want to give even ten or twenty bucks you can on this page from wherever you are in the world.  I'm giving away some free downloads of songs recorded at the gig to whoever donates. 

What else? All sorts of things. Putting together sounds for other companies to use in their products. There's always a bit of that going on. We have a Halloween crazy deal on our web shop  there's always something going on there and my team at SR and esoundz includes Erik Norlander and Erik Nielsen who both do a lot of work on the music side of things (the first Erik plays with Asia FJP and Nielsen is their photographer/web guy). Then there's Allen our support manager who holds the fort, Nikko who also works on the websites, Amber who does graphics and various other SR cast. They're all great to work with. 

That's it for now. I'm too tired to get into anything complex right now. Gonna hit the sack I think. Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It doesn't matter who it is... on the phone!

October 17th, 2012 Squids Travels (aka Captain's Log)

One thing I've learned in the years I've been doing what I do in the music industry, which by the way is completely out of the norm, is to stick to your guns and not be flustered no matter who it is you're talking to because it doesn't matter. The reason it doesn't matter is because you are clear about your desire to do whatever it is you want to do. The worst that can happen is they say no which would bring you right back to where you were before you had that idea. You're not going to be any less for not doing it. So there's nothing to lose. Maybe some money and time but that's transitional and can be replaced. Go with the flow and see what happens. You just never know.

I woke up this morning and saw the numbers "44" on my phone. Normally anything related to the number 4 makes me smile as it's my favorite number. I stop whenever I see the time is 4:44 and have a moment of silent appreciation. (No I don't set my alarm to do it all the time, just if I happen to catch it... sort of like catching the sun go down or an unusual cloud formation in the sky). But right now when I see "44" on my phone it means someone is calling from England and who knows who it will be? At the moment it could be a lot of people. Just last week it was Steve Hackett of Genesis! "Oh, hi Steve! How's it going?" We actually had a nice chat about music and all sorts of things even though the phone call was about the CD release party for his "Genesis Revisited 2" album. He wanted to know if Simon Collins and I were able to come.

Another time, maybe 6 months ago, it was Geoff Callingham calling me with Tony Banks on the line asking questions about sounds and plug-ins. Surprise!!! Because they're 6 hours ahead I was just sleeping so I had to quickly become coherent!

Now, I don't want to give you the impression that I get phone calls all the time from the musicians of all my favorite rock bands growing up (with the exception of Francis Dunnery who literally checks in with me every single day! Haha. But he's become a real friend and mentor... sort of like an older brother which I never had so it's nice). However, on occasion I've gotten some interesting phone calls. John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin called when he was doing "Them Crooked Vultures" and he was asking about "SampleTron", a product I made with IK Multimedia that captures the sounds of Mellotrons and Chamberlins. I got a phone call from Tom Waits and his manager asking the same thing when he didn't want to take his Chamberlin to the Wiltern (a venue in LA) to go in the orchestra pit for a musical he was doing. Ironically in 1989 I'm the guy who sold him his Chamberlin Music Master and it was one of the instruments I sampled for "SampleTron" so it couldn't be a more ideal solution for him!

However, talking to musicians and producers comes very natural to me as we speak the same language. This especially goes for keyboard players. It's like we're all brothers and sisters. Haha. Most of them love what I do with Sonic Reality, IK Multimedia and other partnering companies. There's a lot of mutual respect. With producers and engineers there's a certain appreciation I have for them with myself being one who has read the liner notes on albums over the years and has cared about their craft to read articles about them in magazines. I'm also a gear-head so there's that language many of us have in common as well. But, when it comes to the OTHER side of the industry... the managers, labels, agents and other business people who aren't even necessarily musicians themselves it's a whole other ballgame. However, the same thing applies. It just doesn't matter who it is as long as you are clear on your intent. 

So, this morning's phone call was of that nature. I won't get into details about who it is because that's private but let's just say it was a heavy weight on that side of the fence who has dealt with much much bigger deals than anything I have to offer with my niche MI industry outfit, Sonic Reality... even though the network of my company extends into some very big time cutting edge things, particularly IK Multimedia who has products literally EVERYWHERE (including all of the major consumer technology and music stores around the world). I'm confident what we're doing is great and has exciting potential. So I held my own. Stood my ground! Talked like a pro with conviction and determination to make something work... even if technically we're the underdogs. 

I'd say more but actually I'm going to be late for a haircut! My brother's getting married in a few days and I can't look TOO much like a hippy. Well... I'll just tie it back and let loose on everyone when they're drunk. But that's today's early morning story. I feel like I just got off of a roller coaster ride. But I feel good! Not gonna hurl just yet! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Squids Travels October 16th, 2012

Many things happening at once! 

There's never any shortage of interesting things going on in my world. I design it that way so I'm never bored. Even if I had nothing going on with anyone else I'd be finding something creative to do on my own. That's just how I am. 

So, what's a day in the life of a Squids like? A mixture of things. Between yesterday and today it's been a blur of organizing this UK trip coming up between sessions with producers Nick Davis and Alan Parsons to a CD release party and charity gig with Steve Hackett, Francis Dunnery and friends. A lot of really cool things lined up for both Sonic Reality sample sessions and some of my music productions with Sonic Elements. There may even be a few things related to a project I have with Simon Collins if he ends up going as well!

I spent some time today at the SR office going over midi grooves with Ken Scott that he meticulously edited from the session we did with Bob Siebenberg, drummer of the band Supertramp who Ken recorded and produced back in the day. We recreated the iconic drum sounds of albums like "Crime of the Century" and "Crisis What Crisis?" for a Sonic Reality product series called "EpiK DrumS - A Ken Scott Collection". It's been an on going thing for many years now. But it still amazes me that I am but a phone call away from any question I may have about how he recorded The Beatles, David Bowie, Elton John, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Dixie Dregs, Mahavishnu Orchestra, America, George Harrison, Supertramp, Devo, Duran Duran, Missing Persons, Lou Reed, Billy Cobham and the list goes on! So many classic artists and albums it boggles the mind. The man was there! His very first orchestral recording session was "I Am The Walrus" at age 19 or something like that! Talk about being thrown into the deep end! He put together a fascinating book about his career in music called "Abbey Road To Ziggy Stardust" which is worth getting if you want to know more about those sessions and experiences making classic albums. 

I have a lot of stories of travels with Ken that I'll share here and there. I got to go to Abbey Road with him which was incredible and we rummaged through EMI's archives looking for photos of him from the 60's. I actually found some of Alan Parsons that I got permission to use as well. Here's one of them with Lenny Zakatek, the singer for Alan Parsons Project that I got to record a few years back doing the "animal percussion" noises he did in the middle section of the song "Games People Play". I never knew that was done with the human voice! Really unusual sounds to sample. That's a cool story itself that I'll tell at some point. 

So, that would be an eventful enough day if that was it but there was more. I downloaded a final mix to listen to of the Lo-Fi Resistance album "Chalk Lines" which I'm co-producing with Randy McStine. The album features Gavin Harrison and Colin Edwin of the band Porcupine Tree as the rhythm section with me on keys and Randy on vocals, guitars and everything else. The album will be released this year and I'm very proud to be part of it. 

Then there was some back and forth with Francis Dunnery who I talk to pretty much everyday. This time he's in England having just arrived and asked me to send him versions of "In The Cage", "Anyway" and "The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway" that we've done (work in progress still) presumably to play for people there. He's very proud of it as am I. Mark Hornsby and Nick D'Virgilio were the backbone of that and Mark also mixed the Lo-Fi album with Randy over at Sweetwater Sound in Indiana where he now resides. So does an ex-employee of Sonic Reality named Ryan Holquist who actually got the job initially because he came up to me at a NAMM show (musical instrument trade show) and said "Aren't you the guy who played the 'Mighty Wurlitzer' with Kevin Gilbert?" (or something like that). He also happens to be a Francis Dunnery fan, a Genesis fan and a 'muso' into the old 70's stuff (even though he wasn't born until after that decade had passed). Ironically, Ryan is one of the people who came with me to sample drums the last time we went to The Farm and a studio called British Grove in London to record drum samples in the style of Genesis and Pink Floyd. I'm going to England now to do something very similar but we'll have someone new helping us do that this time... I will say more about that later! 

So, you think that's it? There's more... there's always more. My days are filled up! I'm working on a slide show for my brother's wedding which is coming up this weekend just before I leave for England. Got family in town and if there's one thing my family has in common (and it isn't music btw... barely anyone in my family plays an instrument at all!) it's SEAFOOD! We all don't mind getting our hands dirty and being a bit shellfish. So... bring on the shrimp, crab and lobster! It's party time! 

There's even more but... you know. I'll be back with plenty later. I hope you're enjoying this though. I really do! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Overcoming Obstacles

Squids Travels: October 15th, 2012

In the music and entertainment business I've learned that the hard part isn't doing the actual gig. It's juggling options quickly to solve a problem or navigating your way through whatever obstacles come your way. This is the part they don't tell you! Great musician? Congrats. Skilled engineer and think you'd make a fine producer? That's nice but it's only part of it. If you can't think on your toes and solve problems as they come you can pretty much forget about doing it professionally. That's what I've learned in my years working in music. I had to learn it early on because when you get an opportunity to do a big gig you are thrown right into the water and it's sink or swim. I'll tell you about that in a moment but first let me tell you what reminded me of this today.

This morning I was faced with a possible cancelation of a session I have booked at the end of this UK trip coming up this month. I didn't panic even though I already have the studio, the hotels and the engineer (who happens to be Alan Parsons!!!!) all set! I even extended my stay one more day so I could do this session. So instead of freaking out I calmly examined the problem and came up with some reasonable solutions. I had to let go of my expectations and not be attached to the outcome. Whatever happens happens. You have to give some room for things to flow the way they naturally will and you can't force things no matter how much you've set your heart on something. What will be will be. Fortunately in the end the solution turned out to be even better than the original plan. Now instead of it being one session that almost got canceled it's going to be two sessions with one done during this trip and another at a later date to cover the rest! Whew! So this morning started off with uncertainty and with some thinking on my toes I was able to turn that around into solid confirmations with some extra icing on the cake!

Take a little trip back!

Now let's go back to December 1993... young Squids in LA doing all sorts of unusual gigs including this big one that came along!

One of the first times I learned these valuable lessons about what other skills you need to have besides being good at what you 'think' your job is (ie. playing your instrument well if you're a musician) was when I was part of Barbara Streisands's New Years Eve concert event at the MGM Grand in Vegas 1993/94. I was hired to play keyboards from the side of the stage but instead of playing actual music with the 70 piece orchestra conducted by Marvin Hamlich I was off on my own with a little TV monitor you can see in the picture above that showed me everything Barbara was doing in the acting sequences in between the music numbers. My job was to trigger the sound of actors' pre-recorded voices and follow the script to respond in a virtual dialog between Barbara and unseen "psychologists" in a skit written by Barbara and the Bergmans (see below)

To me that gig seemed EASY! You needed to have the technical know how to sample everything which I did. You also needed to have some sense of comedic timing to know when to wait for the audience to laugh and to respond naturally as if you were the actor yourself. Kind of an unusual gig for a keyboard player but Barbara was confident I could do it from the minute she met me when I walked in the door and explained it to her at the Sony lot in LA where they rehearsed the show for 2 weeks. 

But, even though I was confident I could do the actual performance and even though I even went to her house many times with the Bergmans to go over it in addition to rehearsals there was something new about that gig that I was not prepared for. First, everyone there was at the top of their game. Some of the best session players, top engineers and you pretty much knew everyone there had done something impressive to be hired to do this gig which was a big deal because it was her first concert in something like 20 years. It was the opening of the MGM Grand in Vegas on New Years. A lot was riding on it and there was no room for any screw ups. I actually got to see a video crew get fired. I saw Barbara and this crew not understanding each other on something as simple as rewinding the video to the right spot. She kept asking and getting frustrated when it didn't happen. The next day they were not there! So... yikes. The shark pit! Then it was my turn...

I had the phrases of the actors from the script in order mapped chromatically across my 2 octave keyboard. No problem! But then she surprised me and wanted to jump back 6 lines. Just then I realized that I didn't prepare to pop in on any line at a moment's notice. So she says in rehearsal in this big echoey room with everyone else silent "David? Where are you? Are you? Are you..." and meanwhile I am looking at the script and counting my keyboard notes backwards so I hit the right one... because if I hit the wrong phrase she might think I could do that live and there's no way she'll take that chance! That's the shark pit button pressed by me! So, I told the engineer to tell her to hold on a second while I  find it. He says that and she says in this big Wizard of Oz-esque voice "David, we can't have this..." and then I got the line. The whole thing was probably only about 15 seconds but it was terrifying. That night I learned the script backwards and forwards, I practiced dropping in at any moment and I labeled my keyboard with notes. I realized quick that the hard part wasn't doing the gig itself but actually getting through the rehearsals! 

The next day she did the same test. She said "Let's go back a few pages" and then immediately said the line. She was JUST about to say "Davi..." when I had the line ready. That was it. She knew I 'got it'. She didn't try to test me again and didn't say a word about it either. Ironically after that it was back to being a pretty easy gig and at the end of the second show the late great Marvin Hamlich came up to me and said "You were perfect!" His wife came up to me after and said I should be proud because he rarely says that! 

So, that's one of the times early on for me where things weren't how I thought they'd be and I had to think on my toes and react. It's sometimes sink or swim and all you can do is your best. But your best isn't just how well you can play your instrument. It's your people skills or how resourceful, how organized, how punctual or how good you are at problem solving and many other things that get you through the challenges you will likely face. To be able to overcome the obstacles is as important as being great at what you do.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Squids here in Miami

A Quick Introduction

Dave Kerzner (aka "Squids") here in Miami writing my first Squids' Travels blog. Since this is the first entry I'll give you an idea of what this blog is going to be like. Over the years I've had many unique adventures related to the music industry. Because I chose an uncommon path as a producer, sound engineer and musician by carving out my niche as a sound developer (I'll explain what that is later), I've been able to be part of an enormous variety of interesting music projects. Many of these experiences involve working with other producers, engineers and musicians that I've admired ever since I was a kid... the artists and technicians who have made albums with The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, Rush, David Bowie, Supertramp, Elton John, The Police, XTC, Jeff Beck, Steely Dan, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Peter Gabriel, Pat Metheny Group, UK, ELP and so many other favorite classic rock, prog rock, alt rock and jazz artists. 

Not only have I had a priceless education from these amazing people I've also had and continue to have experiences that are fun stories to share whether they're from the past, the present in real-time or from the planning of events in the future. I would think this blog would be of particular interest to musicians or music fans who like to have a look 'behind the scenes' in studio, concert and traveling situations. In this case it would be a rare diversity of activity you don't normally see from just one person's perspective. That again is because of the nature of what I do with Sonic Reality, the sound development/music software company I started in 1996, as well as what I do myself as a musician, writer or producer of music and more. If that still sounds vague don't worry. It will be more clear along the way and if it makes you feel any better even my own Mother still doesn't really know exactly what I do for a living. Truth be told I'm a strange breed in that I am part creative/artist and part businessman/salesman. I stir the pot and I can be pretty bold. But boldness is often rewarded and that's how many of these crazy things happen so here we go!

Squids Travels Blog: October 14th, 2012

I'm here in Miami preparing for a big trip to the UK next week. It starts off with a CD release party from Steve Hackett for the release of his album "Genesis Revisited 2" which I got to play keyboards on and I also engineer/coordinated Simon Collins and Francis Dunnery's vocals for the songs "Supper's Ready" and "Dancing With The Moonlit Knight". I'll tell more about that story digging into the not so distant past but for now have a look and listen to Steve Hackett and Roger King talk about our involvement with the album: 

The day after the CD release party, as ironic as it may be, I am actually doing a session over at Genesis' studio called "The Farm" in Surrey, England. I'll share the details of what I'm doing there with Nick Davis, Genesis' co-producer/engineer, in a forthcoming post to the blog. But it's going to be interesting! 

The next day I head up to Cumbria, England where I will be preparing for a charity gig on October 27th where I'm playing keyboards with the incredibly talented singer/songwriter/guitarist Francis Dunnery and all sorts of fantastic artists will be joining us on stage including Steve Hackett! We'll be doing a few Genesis songs all together live as well as some unexpected surprises. I'm actually preparing for that right now here in Miami on a Sunday afternoon. 

The day after the concert is a 7 mile charity walk around Ennerdale Lake where we are raising money for Francis Dunnery's CKDCF foundation which helps children with health issues and terminal diseases. I've got a web page up where people can make donations and sponsor me in the walk. I set my goal to raise a thousand dollars to help these children and I'm happy to say that I'm more than half way to that goal already! 

The next day I have several sessions back near London. I can't say where or with whom just yet except that one of the sessions is with Alan Parsons engineering. That alone is exciting enough! But it gets even better and I will reveal more in future entries in this blog including some updates in real-time as things are happening! 

- Squids