Monday, September 10, 2012

Little Man Mini Tour Log


It’s just a little mini tour. A beautiful day for travel as we packed up and headed for Madison, WI. Saw a bald eagle on the way! Once in town we got set up at the Hilton (great view of the capitol building from our room). The Iron Man Triathlon is happening in town so there’s a lot of people in florescent colored running shoes around.

We headed over to The Frequency to check the club out about two blocks over. Cool place with a lot of character and a great staff. We got a review in The Onion here! Picked up some fish and chips at the Irish pub a block over and then prepared to unload and sound check.

The show was solid. We played about an hour set. I was very happy to see a former guitar student of mine and her boyfriend there who had just moved up to Madison for college. The greenroom was super cool. We played one of those old slot hockey games and a Popeye Nintendo sit-down console. The band we opened, for was from Seattle and we were in such awe with what they were doing. It was jazz. Sax though some awesome effects, guitar, stand-up bass and drums. Very impressive.

Feels good to be out playing. We mention we’re from the Twin Cities and people talk about The Current and bands like The Melismatics. It’s cool to recognize the reach of the TC community on the road and play our part in that too.

A little bit of rain in the air today. We slept in passed the Triathlon. Lot’s of people huffing and puffing about, walking their bikes and such. Grabbed some lunch on the way out of town. Bass player Benji, for this tour, is killing us with his Paul Stanley and Christopher Walkin road directions. Drummer Sean is cuing up interesting info from his iPhone. We listened to David Lee Roth’s vocal track only of Van Halen’s Running With The Devil. Crazy high James Brown style stuff he‘s doing.

Arrived in Dubuque, IA. Beautiful riverside city with some cool bridges. We’re down a notch over at the Days Inn from the Hilton last night but at least we get free wi-fi and a continental breakfast. The club is The Bank and when we arrived I recognized it as it’s old name of The Silver Dollar Cantina which we’ve played before. Super hospitable staff and a complimentary meal.

We got to play two sets (just us on the bill tonight) so we were able to sneak in some acoustic songs here and there. It feels good to settle in with a couple of sets actually, but for me I’m pretty whooped afterward. Met some very nice folks here too that I feel can really help spread the word for us next time. Band party, just the three of us, back at the hotel afterwards. “We have Two Women waiting there for us” we’d say of the Wisconsin beer we picked up of that name. It’s been the inside joke the past two nights. Tomorrow’s last night is in Des Moines.

Today we travel over to the middle of Iowa to Des Moines. We hit the coffee shop in downtown Dubuque on our way out for a quick breakfast and had a better look at the city in the daylight. The weather’s awesome today. This part of Iowa is cool to travel through. Lots of hills and rivers. All farm land. About a 4 hour trek. The Stone’s “Exile On Main Street” and The Faces “Never A Dull Moment” are great albums to listen to driving through these parts.

We arrived at the Quality Inn and grabbed some Vietnamese for dinner. The restaurant was called A Dong, so add in your own jokes. We saw the sign and had to stop. Very good food. Also the architecture is really neat in this city.

The Vaudeville Mews is in a cool part of town. This club has one of the best sounding rooms. Tall ceilings with a balcony. The drums sound huge in here. We were supposed to play the middle slot with 3 bands on the bill, but we get there and now it’s just us and one other band, and of that other band, only two of it’s members were there. I would have loved to have heard the full band because I liked what I heard from them. So we ended up headlining the night and played a longer set.

We played one of our bests shows. A truly fantastic set. We opened things up and jammed quite a bit and enjoyed how the sound was on stage. The room it’s self was inspiring with it’s natural reverb. The turnout though was not so great, so that was a bit disappointing with such a super performance. You can’t let that get to you when you’re playing, especially having it be the last night of the run. We just have a fun time playing so we give it %100 no matter what. The folks that were there appreciate that and were very supportive. We sold some merch too make up for everything.

The next morning we hit the pool for a swim before heading back to the Twin Cities. About halfway there a nasty smell filled the van like burning rubber or plastic and then some smoke stated to come up through the dashboard! Hit the hazards and pull over!! The smoke stopped as we jumped out of the van wondering if we should start pulling the equipment out. We waited a while for everything to cool down. Started it up. Vitals were still all good and we tried to find the problem but couldn’t see anything. We decided to proceed with caution and everything seemed to be fine. Some sort of electrical problem. Getting it to the shop first thing in the morning. Whew!!

And that’s it. Just a few days on the road. At this point it’s hard to come home just starting to get into the groove of everything. You want to just keep going. But these short tours help out in the long run. All in all a real good time hanging out with these guys and spreading the music out beyond Minnesota.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Little Man at the Minnesota State Fair

The Minnesota State Fair (also known as the "Great Minnesota Get Together") is one of the biggest events in the country and puts a big stamp on all things local. Scott Herold a huge local music touter and head of Rock The Cause asked me if Little Man could be a part of their state fair line up that would be hosted by Rock the Cause and the Cities 97 radio station. I told him absolutely and that it would be an honor to play.

Scott said the stage was small, outside and that they wanted a sort of stripped down, more personal vibe so we decided to play an acoustic set as a band. We've only really done that sort of thing a couple of times. Usually I prefer to do a solo acoustic performance with that sort of request. It's great to have the band with me.

Sean Gilchrist (left) was on drums and for this show we asked Benji Conklin to come along to fill in for Brian. Benji helped us out on a two-setter a couple months back so he knows alot of songs and adds a nice touch to these acoustic numbers. Alot of these songs we don't normaly get to play in the full rock show. Our albums Soulful Automatic and Of Mind And Matter have lots of acoustic songs on them, so it was great to bring these into a set. If you haven't heard them, please check them out.

The fair is just a blast. Every food you can think of on a stick, the smell of fried food, rides, booths and a lot of color and sounds and things and people to see and watch. My wife printed us out "Fair Bingo" cards to play as we walked the fair, checking off boxes when we saw "adult with fair hair," "teenage make out," "child on a leash" etc. Pretty funny.

We played a really great set. Very cool to play outside at the fair next to these big orange tractors. We rocked out as much as humanly possible. We even got an on- air interview with the radio station. People were very attentive and loved the show.

Afterward we headed over to the Luminarium. This space-age blow up oasis of sound and color that was really quite interesting. All together a super fun time. You betcha.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Little Man On The Choo Choo Bob Show

Little Man does a spot on television! The Choo Choo Bob Show is a children's live action TV show that's broadcasted on Saturday mornings in the upper mid-west. There's actually a model train shop in St. Paul, not too far from my place called Choo Choo Bob's in St. Paul and it's the same people that created this show so it all has to do with trains.
The videographer called me up saying the show wanted to have some local music on the show this season and asked if I could write a song themed on trains and perform it with the band on the show. "Of course!" I said. Unique opportunity for sure.

I wrote a simple short song and set up some time to make it over to the TV studio.

It was really cool to have the band together for this one. Sean and Brian both were available to make this happen. The premise was was that Little Man would be performing at Tiny Land's Festival of Rain. They suited us in rain slickers and we performed the song on a green screen set so there will be some sort of background there on the show. We looked so goofy, it was hilarious. Brian's son was also with us so we had him push some gear in the background wearing his own rain gear. We played through the song a few times with our "happy-fun-faces" on with Choo Choo Bob helping out on acoustic guitar and vocals while the other show characters danced in the background. It was such a fun time. I even had a few lines! One in which involved me spitting out a mouthfull of water then saying, "I think your roof is leaking."

All the people working on set were terrific. I was also surprised that I had already known a couple of them as well. And just like how I've made efforts to include local businesses with Little Man, this experience with Choo Choo Bob surely furthered that sort of tie-in. Feels good to be a part of spreading the local love of talent and genuine hardworking people in the community. As far as I know the show airs on Channel 45 at 9am on a Saturday late summer or early this fall. The title of the show has something to do with rain.

Here it is!! Watch it on YouTube:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rock For Pussy IX: David Bowie Tribute Show Recap

Photo by Ben Clark
This show is absolutely one of the most fun shows to be a part of. Every year Twin Cities musicians come together to pull off this event at the First Avenue mainroom. Created and hosted by 89.3 The Current's Mary Lucia, this show attracts tons of Bowie fans while acting as a benefit for the Humane Society's Minneapolis no-kill cat shelters. We have the all-star band led by John Eller and then special local guest singers come up and sing their favorite David Bowie songs. The tunes span all of Bowie's career and for this shows second set we played the entire Ziggy Stardust album from start to finish. It's the 40th anniversary of it's release after all! I've been helping out on guitar in the band and sang a few songs this year. Without our past guitar player Randy Casey, I played alot more also with the help of Gary Vogel. I rehearsed at home for about a month before this one wanting to give the singers the best experience possible. There are so many intricate chord changes to some of these songs. It was a truly great show. But it was a rough start for me with my gear.

Photo by Ben Clark
I set up my guitar rig, played a bit, shut it off and had a little break before all of us getting on stage for a soundcheck. Turned my amp back on...nothing. Tried different cables, plugged in directly, prayed to it, banged on it repeatedly. The band had there soundcheck while I totally missed out. Got on the phone right away to Twin Town, a reputable local guitar shop fairly close by, and told them the situation. I needed an amp ASAP!!! They said I could swap mine out but I had to get over there within the hour before they closed. I hopped in a car and stage manager Conrad's brother zipped me out of there, through traffic almost getting hit by a car that ran a red light and we made it there. Swapped amps, got back to the club. Whew!!

My view from the stage.
Photo by Charles Robinson

Photo by Steve Cohen
It took me a good while to come down from the stress of that one.
I slipped into the VIP parking lot to decompress in my van for little bit. From there I changed into my glam rock threads, hit the make-up and hair table and prepared to hit the stage. We rocked. There were many moments of blissed out rock and roll happiness going on for me (Starman and Moonage Daydream!) and so many others I'm sure. It's fun to be a part of this. And God bless David Bowie.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

All That Glitters Is Gold

No I didn't sell 500,000 records yet, but I did find gold!

Play the audio, and read on! 

My wife and I found a place in Wisconsin where a big asteroid hit the Earth and a whole bunch of rock got busted up. We heard it was a good place for gold hunting. After gathering up Brigid's prospecting pans we headed over there. Upon arrival we noticed a gentleman in the parking lot loading up all his prospecting gear. My wife wasted no time introducing herself. Being beginners (I've never done this before) we had alot of questions and he was more than happy to show us the ropes. He even invited us to come pan with him. We walked through the park and found a real cool spot on the creek to set up. This man, Mark, has been prospecting here for 8 years. He let us use his gear and assigned us each a job. It was like having a private lesson in panning. He was really great.

Mark and Brigid dug up dirt and rock and put it into a classifier bucket and then I took the sand and rock from that bucket and put it through a sluice box (pronounced "sloose") It's a little, metal, waterfall-like piece of equipment with riffles along the inside of it and what was called minors moss to catch finer gold, sand and much smaller pebbles beneath that. Then all stuff that was caught in this we panned. We actually found some gold! very small specks, but still very neat to actually see.

At one time I was working the sluice when a big snapping turtle, about the size of a steering wheel, crossed my path within about a foot of me! Just working it's way down the river. That was quite a surprise.

It was a beautiful area. I enjoyed the sound of the river and the zen-like experience of circling the pan around and paying very close attention to finding shiny bits. It takes some practice with the pan and it was great to have a lesson in that. We also found the ruby red colored Garnets and clearish quarts. Real fun experience for sure. We'll be back.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tube Dreamer

This is the OD2 Tube Screamer clone from BYOC. It comes as a kit that you build. This is the 3rd build I've done (see previus posts of my Fuzzy Face and Fat Rocket) I call my version the Tube Dreamer. I took a picture from one of my LP covers and stuck it on there and painted the enclosure green like the original Tube Screamer. This guitar effect pedal is an overdrive. It's great when used with a clean tube amp and then this bumps it up a couple notches. Stevie Ray Vaughan is probably the most notable guitar player that uses this. It's a very popular classic pedal. BYOC's pedal also has a separate boost on one side, that gives you an increase in volume and that "just right" break up tone from amp.

The build ables you to make some modifacations or "mods" as they say from the orginal TS808 Tube Screamer it's built off of. I chose to (and here's the tech talk if you want to skip ahead) replace the final 470 ohm for a 220 for a little more gain. Added Mosfet B5170 clipping. Replaced the .22uf Tantalum capacitor for a .15 for better tone knobe frequency responce. I did some research on the mods to learn about them and figure out which ones I wanted to do. It even has three trim pots inside that you can adjust for Louder, Min and Max drive. I also added the blue LED's.

I had just gotten a new record player and a whole mess of albums from a friend so it was really cool to put on an LP and work on this project. The build was fairly easy but a little more difficult then the others I built.

I tried this pedal with my little Silvertone tube amp. Playing the amp at half volume gives a nice clean tone, a little dark, that's just the character of this amp. Using the boost of the pedal I can make it sound like it's up all the way breaking up nicely. With just the "tube screamer" side on, it gives a great overdriven distortion brightening up my amp and giving it a little more of a Vox amp sound. Both sides on lurches out a ripping tight zip tone kind of similar to a low batteried Fuzz Face.

Listen to the demo:

Friday, March 23, 2012

Here is "Seekers of  Space" a demonstration of the Korg Monotron Space Delay I just got. It's a really cool little analog synth that sounds oh so spacey. Added with some of my favorite space girls and LP covers.