Dogtones Debut (sorta…)

The new band played out for the first time last month.   Big Daddy’s on a Thursday night.  Great sound system and stage.   He’s a video compilation:


June 15, 2009 at 10:40 am 1 comment

In Ear Monitors

“Hey, could you point your guitar amp more that way?”   “Can I get a little more of my vocal in the monitor please?”   Have you ever found yourself saying that?   I did.   Years ago.   Back then I used to lay awake after a gig listening to the ringing in my ears.    Not anymore.   That is, not since I decided I was done fighting monitor wedges and open back guitar cabs and was going to figure out a way to hear better on stage without getting into a volume war.

I’ve been using in-ear monitors for over 10 years now.   I’ve used them with a small, three piece band and a loud, full production 4 piece rock band.   Here’s a few insights gained from my experience using them.

  • Give them some time.    It took me about six months to get used to playing with electronic plugs stuck in my ear.  The major drawback is the isolation they create between you, the audience and the rest of the musicians.   It’s like wearing a very tight pair of headphones.   I didn’t like it at first and still prefer to go with naked ears whenever I can. However, the benefit of being able to hear yourself sing greatly outweighs this disadvantage.
  • Get custom molds.   The Shure system I bought came with a variety of size and type of ear inserts. The yellow foam type seemed to work the best, but took too long to put in and were difficult to keep clean. I spent about $100 to get a set of custom inserts made to fit my ear. Getting a good seal is important if you want to hear the lower frequencies.   Custom inserts help.
  • If you sing don’t let your voice be too loud in your monitor mix.  This is particularly important if you sing Rock.  When your own voice is very loud in your ear you tend to not push as hard.  In extreme cases you may almost be whispering into the mic.  Your bandmates or audience members may mention how you don’t seem to be projecting or singing very hard.
  • Purchase the best system you can afford.   A friend purchased an inexpensive system and ended up returning them right away.  The system I use, the Shure PMS600, is extremely rugged and has never failed me once.
  • Attempt to get a separate monitor mix so that you have full control of what you hear.  If you can’t get a dedicated mix get a separate mixer for your in-ear system.   For example, I play bass and sing.  In the big production rock band I was in I only had a few channels mixed into my in-ear monitors:  Bass, my Vocal, all other vocal mics (not as loud as my vocal), and a touch of kick drum.  That was enough.   The live vocal mics on stage picked up an amazing amount of ambient sound like guitars, keys and drums.  In that band I had a dedicated mix.  In a smaller band I used the Shure P4M to mix a bass guitar signal, my vocal, and a generic vocal monitor mix from the main board.

I’ve purchased a lot of music gear over the years.  I’m always hoping that each new piece will help me become a better musician.   The in-ear system…by far…is the one piece of gear that has made the most impact on improving my musicianship.

January 6, 2009 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

The Popoffs

I had the pleasure of subbing for Larry of The Popoffs downtown at Fado this past Friday night.  It gave me an opportunity to play with my long-time friend, Jon Memolo.


Jon Memolo circa:  198?

We played about a 75 minute set that was a mix of songs me and Jon used to play together years ago and several not-so-usual classic rock songs that are standard M.O. for The Popoffs.    I had a great time and stuck around to watch Larry, Jon and C.C. run through an amazing set.   Their overall musicianship is outstanding, their vocal execution and arrangements are stunning, and the song selection is absolutely fearless.

Fado is laid out as several rooms that are separated from the “band” room.  As the Popoffs played I couldn’t help noticing how many people were being drawn in from the other rooms.    They were all smiling like they just discovered a long lost record collection…these are songs that were very familiar but rarely attempted by a cover band.    Check out The Popoffs soon.


Left to Right:  Jon, Rene, C.C., Larry.

Thanks guys!

December 22, 2008 at 10:06 pm 1 comment

It’s been a while…

I haven’t posted here in a long time. What’s been up? Dr. Hell No and the Yes Men played our first show in over a year a couple of weeks ago at the Tractor Tavern in downtown Ballard. It was big fun. The stage was roomy, large and loud PA system with attentive tech, and the best part…we went on first. The audience was great too.

I’ll be updating my “gear” page soon too…made some changes recently.

Also, I’ve been working with a three piece-general purpose-play anything even if you don’t know it-cover band. More on that later too. I hope.

More pics coming soon too.


December 2, 2007 at 12:44 am Leave a comment

Somewhere Over The Rainbow Bass

I’m a general purpose ‘Rock’ kinda player, and I’ve never done the ‘solo bass’ arrangement thing.  Here’s my first attempt and some comments on how it came about.

I thought about putting this little piece together after finding some guitar chords for the song on the internet. That was enough to get me started. I changed the key to A (original is in G# I believe) so I could take advantage of some open strings. Some parts were lifted from listening to the original (Judy Garland) version. Most was just cobbled together until I thought it sounded right. I’m not sure how harmonically ‘correct’ it is, but it may be close enough…for now anyway. It’s fun to play.  I made up the ending, of course.

My son shot the footage on his Sony Handycam then threw it up on ‘youtube’. The audio was recorded via the camera’s built in mic. I’m using a G&L L2000 plugged into my Line6 Studio 110 amp. The string noise is a bit excessive…maybe some flat wound strings next time.


May 7, 2007 at 10:53 pm 1 comment

Sign here…

Exactly 30 years ago today I signed on the dotted line and joined the U.S. Navy.  Excuse me while I go reflect a bit.

January 31, 2007 at 9:46 am 1 comment

The Redhook Pub

This past weekend I played the Forcaster’s Pub at the Redhook Brewery in Woodinville, which is more like a restaurant than bar really. It felt a bit ackward to me. I mean, I was getting used to playing dumps like the Blue Moon in the U-District where the patrons have a pretty good start on their evening buzz by (apparently) mixing beer with whatever drugs they’re on (legal or illegal). In some ways it’s so much easier to play to half-wacked people. On a good night they just don’t care which makes me not care, which pretty much means I’ll be having a good night. Other times they care a little too much, and they can get pretty vocal about it. However, being the seasoned veteran that I am when it comes to playing for drunken…ah…patrons, I know just how to deal with these folks. Play louder and faster and don’t stop between songs.

Anyway, the Forcaster’s Pub was different in the sense that there were more grownups present, you know…the kind with jobs and real responsibilities, and they were exhibiting all the classic symptoms of soberness.  Normally this kind of situation can make me slightly anxious, but on this night I had other concerns:  the band.  I had never played with these guys before. In fact, I had just met the drummer while we were loading in. This night was going to be an audition for me.   The band leader did his best to keep the pressure low saying things like, “no worries dude, these songs will play themselves.”   I did what I could to prepare, but I soon found out many of the songs were in different keys, or there were parts of songs added or deleted, or in the middle of a song the band leader would stray into a medley and then come back to the original song at some point.   I have a love-hate for this sort of thing.  The uncertainty and excitement is fun and challenging, but at the same time it can be a little nerve-wracking.  It’s particulary difficult when it’s a three piece band where the bass is essentially carrying the harmony while the guitarist goes off.  I did ok and managed to avoid any trainwrecks.

Overall, the night went well.   They asked me to work with them again.  Next weekend we’re supposed to be playing an Irish wake that’s for a Mexican family.   Seriously.   I’m not making that up.

January 30, 2007 at 10:38 pm Leave a comment

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