Friday, December 17, 2010

Seasons Greetings

Happy holidays everyone! I hope that you'll be able to be with your families and loved ones this season. For those of you that may be far from each other this time of year, keep your loved ones in your thoughts and just know that time will pass and that you'll be together soon. Remember to be thankful for who you are and what you have.

I've written a soft and sweet Little Man holiday song for all of you, so please download it for your personal music libraries. Share your comments and share it with others.

Listen and download it here:
FREE Little Man Holiday Song


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Little Man Recording Session 2010

I've got a group of tunes that I've written recently that have a general thick fuzziness (see New Sounds with ZVEX in a previous post) to them and wanted to get into the studio as soon as I could. So I had an opportunity to get down to Chicago to the old Ike lodge, with long time producer Ed Tinley, to start the process of getting them recorded. The studio has new wood flooring so I was excited to track drums in there.

Drummer Sean Gilchrist was able to come along. The process for this album was for me to first record basic guitars and then we'd add on from there.

We arrived on a Saturday evening and got basic tones and things ready to roll. Sunday was all guitars and vocals were tracked in the evening. Monday we finished up guitars and got Sean in to lay drums. We did things a little differently so we could use the entire big room for drum sounds so that Ed could design and shape the tones we were looking for with particular songs. After a full work-out of drumming we continued with vocals. Dinner breaks included classic Chicago faves such as pizza and Italian sausage sandwiches.

The lodge is great. Some of Soulful Automatic as well as most of Of Mind and Matter was recorded there. Ike Reilly was gracious enough to let us us it and camp out there too. My sleeping arrangement was this little nook up in a tiny loft. I felt like a gnome crawling up there after each night and then descending out of it in the morning. There's an old record player there with a bunch of great albums, so I would get the morning started by playing an LP and getting the coffee going. It was great to listen to early early Rolling Stones, the stuff they recorded in Chicago for inspiration.

I took a break one afternoon and stepped outside to the wooded and grassy yard. Beautiful out. Suns rays peaking through the trees. And out comes Ike from the bushes with a rifle. I know he likes to kid with me but I seriously didn't know what to think about this! He walks his way over to me and said he's been tracking and hunting some critters that've been getting into the house. "There's one." I say mid conversation. "POW!" "Thanks Squanto." he replies.
Back to work.

We were able to track drums, vocals and guitars for 6 songs in about 30 hours. Whew! A fantastic session. We are in the process of adding bass tracks with our bassist Brian Herb as well as laying down more overdubs here in the Twin Cities. Things are coming along really great and it's looking like it will be an EP. I can hardly wait till we get this out. Hopefully this spring.

It takes alot with recording expenses rising and all the work that goes into releasing a new piece of work. If you are wanting to be a part of the project and want an opportunity to help, you are welcome to leave a donation of any amount. I'll put your name in the liner credits as well as send you a free copy for your contribution of $20 or more. Of course your donation can also be anonymous.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Meditiation with Cat

I had gotten to my meditation spot for zazen, lit a stick of musk incense and sat on the black zafu pillow cross legged, set a timer and began. This is the usual format for my sitting meditation, but sometimes the cat comes into the room. Now I used to find this distracting and it's also good practice to do zen in the midst of things going on around you, but now I see my cat's entrance a little different.

Fiona is my cat's name, A.K.A. Funny Bunny because she's mostly black with one white hind leg as if she has a lucky rabbit's foot. She spends most of her day sitting in an empty plastic salad bowl. She sits right in the middle of it like a big bowl of fuzz, sometimes with her rabbit's foot sticking out. When I see her it reminds me of the zen saying to "empty your bowl."

I first sense her as she walks in, rubs up against my arm as she quietly passes and turns to sit in front of me. My eye's are partially open so I can see here there. I imagine our conversation:

Cat: Hi, what are you doing? You're sitting still on the floor.
Me: I'm practicing zen here so beat it. You're distracting me.
Cat: Pet me.Me:("Ignore her," I say in my head)
Cat: We'll I've been doing sitting around all day. (sigh...) I'm gonna explore the room for a while.
Me: Your ruining my zen time.

These feline visits got me thinking about my practice and how my mind reacts to the experience. First there is the sensation of touch when she walks by and my mind thinks "fur" and then "cat" then to "she's going to bother me" to "do I need to be on guard if she tries to take a swipe at me." The next sensation is sight by which I see and think "Fiona Cat," then one thought leads to the next and to the next. The zen practice here would be not to label the experience. Let things happen without your mind jumping to describing and categorizing. It's not direct experience anymore when doing such thought. Very difficult to do. Reel yourself back in. Thinking of what "could" happen with the cat in the room is not being present either.

She wants to be pet.
Well, like a Bodhisattva, I do not want to neglect her. I want to show love and compassion for all beings and in cat language, petting does the trick. I also think of action and reaction. She's letting me know that she's saying hello and I should return the greeting. She acts, I react. If she somehow gets angry of my stillness and lerches out with a quick sharp clawed paw, I lean back in reaction like a Judo master. I extend my hand breaking the sitting pose and mudra hand position and pet the cat a couple times. Back to my position. Spontaneity is a key point in Zen. The thing here is to be clear in mind before, during and after the action/reaction experience. No thinking. Naturally React. Empty your bowl.

The cat sits upright in front of me closing her eyes slowly.
Look at her posture, she's in her own zen pose! She reminds me to check my posture. Straighten up, chin tucked in a bit, no wobbling on the cushion, eyes partially open. Thanks Fiona.
Her tail moves back and forth in a constant random movement. This is a true Zen moment. Does the cat think about it's tail and how to move it? No, I doubt it. The tail's movement is another form of it's body language too. Watching the randomness of the her tail movement helps me not to settle my mind into predictable patterns. To me here it's just movement.

The cat rustles around the clutter in the room and then leaves unnoticed.
Again, instead of saying in my mind "what's that sound?," "what is she getting into?" and then imagining all sorts of things from there that the cat could be doing, just let the sounds themselves penetrate. Instant sound without the reverberated thoughts that follow. Like clouds that come and go across the sky. Like our thoughts that come and go. Like a mirror that reflects an object but doesn't hold the image once the object moves past. Non-attachment.

Lastly, there is no cat.
This is the non dual philosophy of no "other." When we live with the perspective of Oneness we realize that all things are interconnected, ultimately making them one thing. An organism cannot come to be and live without it's environment. The conscious mind opens it's eyes to the world that is it's self. It originally sees the reality of things as they really are before ego gets involved. The great cause of suffering is the belief that we are separate. We are all One but don't realize it.

My meditation is a practice on being present. Being with the reality of now without assessment. Just sitting, with cat.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Little Man makes it to the Majors

Lifted Me Like A Curse,
a song from Little Man's Of Mind And Matter album, has been added to the Minnesota Twins Target Field playlist.

The uptempo, acoustic, back woods, sing-along found it's way to the ears of Twins baseball music director Kevin Dutcher, "I'd love to play "Lifted..." at the park, it's a great tune!".

The new major league ballpark has gained interest in adding local music during the games and is working to develop a Local Music Spotlight as well.

----"Just when I thought it could get no worse, you lifted me like a curse and I flew higher than expected further than directed...yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah...ah, ah, ah, ahhh."

Listen Here or just scroll down at the playlist over on the right side.

Purchase on iTunes
Full Album on CD

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fuzzy Face

My meetings over at ZVEX gained my interest in the building of guitar effects pedals. What I was hearing and seeing I was totally fascinated by. I had taken an analog electronics course in college too and wondered if it could be something to get into as just a hobby. I spent some time on-line reading about build-your-own kits and decided to go with the ESV Fuzz Face, a clone of the Arbiter Fuzz Face at They say it's good for beginners and it's a classic fuzz tone that Jimi Hedrix used. Sounds good to me.

The kit comes with all the electronic parts, hardware and metal casing. You download the instructions on their website. I went out and got my self a soldering iron and some tools. I spent some time reading about soldering electronics and made sure I understood the directions of the kit. Excited to have a project and to delve into something new, I got right into it.

It's a pretty simple design. I took my time and worked on it in stages. Meanwhile I thought about how to decorate the metal casing. Most people paint the box so I got some paper and a pencil and drew out some ideas. I knew it was going to cost me more to go out and get the paints and brushes I needed, so I thought I could glue on some fabric instead.

It's a Fuzz Face so I wanted it to by fuzzy like a muppet. I searched the fabric stores for something furry but no luck with matching what I had in my head. Then, while thrifting, my wife and I found an old fuzzy orange teddy bear. Perfect! After playing around with the happy bear and giving it a personality, I said goodbye, but that he'd be sacrificing for a worthy woolly cause and would be immortalized in fuzzdom. In with the scissors!

I glued it on, cut the wholes for the hardware and added some eyes to make it more like a fuzzy face. Then I soldered it all and connected the wires and gave it a test. Plugged my guitar into the box and was excited for the result of my hard work. Stomped on it. Nothing. Could be the battery, I knew it wasn't new. I thought to myself, well this is a good learning experience if it doesn't work, then I could learn why and have a better knowledge of this thing.

Before I got a new battery, I plugged the box into an AC adapter. The light went on, and off I sailed into a wicked guitar lick. SWEET it works!! Really nice. That familiar fat and fuzzy tone was there and I was so happy about it. Got a new battery in there too with the same good results. I'm calling it the Fuzzy Face. Check the video to hear what it sounds like.