Tag Archives: Deep Ellum

A The Ramone Gig Recap- 3 Links 6-10-17

I have worked at the various mechanics of this performance for quite a while, so I didn’t have a lot of anxiety over execution
This seemed like a good opportunity for me to start working at separating the The Ramone live performance form Live karaoke
I want the stage performance to become a review of the cultural impact of The Ramones
The word “Review” having two different connotations

The traditional definition for review is “A type of multi-act popular theatrical entertainment that combines music, dance, and sketches. The revue has its roots in 19th century popular entertainment and melodrama but grew into a substantial cultural presence of its own during its golden years from 1916 to 1932.”

In my case, “music” is Ramones and the “sketches” are the snippets of video that I use in the transitions of the set (I’m still figuring out the dance part)
There is also a modern connotation of the word in that I see it as a review of The Ramones akin to what you would see on Youtube, hear on a podcast or read in a book
This is an attempt to approach the subject less from a traditional tribute band platform and steer it towards a One Man Show
just jack

This was the first performance where I employed the video as transition-intro to certain songs, plus the opening montage
I only had 30 minutes so I just rifled through the set
One of the things I learned recently was to give the audience a little time to applaud
I decided that the video segments were ample time for the audience to clap

The setup was quick but I got constructive criticism from the sound man (sorry, I forget everyone’s names when I am in setup-anxiety mode)who told me my tracks
coming out of the Roland P-10 Visual Sampler were too low and I should bring up the volume
That point was re-affirmed by my friend Carson who said that there was a hum during the quiet-er parts
I explained the volume deficiency and how it was probably because he had to work to get a decent gain level

I am using my own monitor coming out of a small mixer next to the video sampler because I have discovered an interesting thing about my hearing when onstage
I need different settings in my monitor over the course of a show and there simple wasn’t any time for me to keep asking the board for different EQ settings
My earbuds are still broken and I need to fix them as soon as I get the cash
Once they get fixed, I will be able to ditch the monitor and run everything through my in ears
The only thing I will need is my guitar through the monitor for feedback purposes
The majority of mistakes I made were as a result of me trying to adjust my monitors during a song
That’s when I fumble a chord or forget where I am
I need to train myself to fix those things at the end of a song and just work through it
The one and only monitor issue is the vocals and that is mostly because my voice is not in shape enough to project correctly at all the different pitches and dynamics
I currently have a headset mic running through a DOD Vocal processor but that is only for muting purposes (if I have to cough or there is a spike in feedback)
The only “effect” right now is the limiter to prevent feedback
That headset mic can be a little “whistle-y” and is not really designed for loud stage environment
I need to get someone with some knowledge to set an EQ for me
I also appreciate that the sound guy pointed out that I was a little too long getting my stuff off stage and I reflected that I was a little too disorganized in my breakdown
It’s mostly because of cables I need to tripe them together
They got all twisted around during setup and it took extra time for me to get everything untangled
My “send” cables from the guitar and mic are all triped together, I need to do the same with my other connectors

As far as the performance itself went, I had a good crowd during the beginning of the show which was half comprised of the friends of the bands and other customers
People seemed to enjoy the concept and it was fun to watch peoples’ faces as they realized what I was doing
I could even see people on the sidewalk stopping and watching what I was doing through the open bay door
They all seemed to be discussing what I was doing and pointing at the screen as they were watching, which is a great sign that the concept translated all the way out to the street
The crowd size ebbed and flowed but all in all I think it was a pretty good showing for the opening slot on a 4 band bill

I learned some new things to adjust and tested out some new concepts
Unfortunately, I got distracted when I set up the video camera
I turned it on but did not press record
This is frustrating because I have yet to get an entire performance that turned out well on video
There is only a small snippet of this show taken by Carson

My two future purposes are to finish the bass parts for the drum videos I recently made so that I can use the new setup live and offer a much deeper catalog for longer sets and Live Ramones Karaoke
The next thing is to book more gigs ASAP!

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The Next Step in the The Ramone Evolution

My next show will be in a few days at 3 Links in Deep Ellum (I go on first!) and I plan to present a new stage show
Up until this point, I have pretty much played it straight and crammed as many songs as I could into my set
That worked when I was always going to play a quick set but I am planning for slots that are going to be 45 minutes to 3 hours so I need to learn how to inject some variety into the show
Not only that but I also need to use my video editing ideas to create a hybrid that is part Rock Band and part Musical Theater
I was trying to figure out the word that describes my concept and my friend Laura said “Revue” and that’s exactly what kind of show I want to build
There are plenty of strict interpretation tribute bands out there and I do realize that being solo is a novelty for sure but I want it to be intellectually different as well
One way to do that is to use archival footage of the band as transitions and intros to augment your performances and provide context
I have plundered all sorts of documentaries, interviews and have heavily sampled the film Rock N Roll High School and edited it into my set
In the nuts and bolts department, I figure the amount of time I will use up with video augmentation with be equivalent to one long song or two short ones, so I’m not sweating chewing up some of the clock with “non” songs

I will perform the first draft of this concept at 3 Links this Saturday
Hope to see you there and get there early because I go on first
The Ramone 3 Links 6 10 17 OMG

The Busking The Ramone Fri 10/15/16

There were two different factors that determined if I was going to be able to busk on Friday
1- There was rain in the forecast but it was done by the morning
2- The allergen count was in the 5s instead of the usual 11s (the highest is 12)

Thanks to my friend Laura, I got a ride over to the East Sieede and got to Ellum in plenty of time
My biggest anxieties in past busking experiences has been that I might not get a good spot
The drums are a very hard instrument to adapt to the street because it is hard to pack them all up into one unit. This usually means a couple of trips, which also means that you need to find a parking space fairly close to your spot
This means endless laps around the block and/or hanging out in your car until you see someone vacate YOUR spot

None of the issues come up with The Busking The Ramone because I can carry the whole setup in one trip
My first attempt took place over by 3 Links  during the car show so I set my sights on that spot
I had  walked through that area and had seen another busker taking that spot, so I got there fairly early
This is usually no issue with the drums because I can play all night but playing the guitar and singing is different
Especially the guitar because my callouses are in the developmental stages where they are getting rough but not enough to take hold up to playing all night
I started playing at around 9pm and didn’t mind that the crowd was thin
This just gave me a chance to run the set list and make lots of mistakes
After going through the set, I discovered 2 mistakes
1- I got there too early and never could have lasted until 1 or 2 am
2- I left the screen on my phone up and it burned half my battery life just doing the one set
I managed to keep the phone screen dark and squeezed enough battery life out to last until I was done
The Alesis TransActive PA/Amp has 3 lights for a battery indicator and I only used up 1 light
I also put Duracells in my distortion pedal and had no worries about that
I managed to play until 12 Midnight before I started to lose feeling in my fingertips and gave up
If I had waited an hour longer to start, I would have hit my stride during peak time
A lot of people saw me but I only managed to make about $10 in tips

CONCLUSION-
The spot I picked is very busy but I did not get much in tips
My amp is only 40 watts and I had a hard time competing with the band playing through the open patio of 3 Links, as well as traffic and crowd noise
It was also a bit hard to move around
If I expect to do well in that spot, I need more volume
I will try a different spot next time
Also, I like having the screen of my phone on while playing the tracks so I can keep my place
I need to get one of those portable USB power devices
All in all, I accomplished what I set out to do and that was to drill the 30+ songs I have already recorded
I am getting stronger fingers and thicker callouses
The small amount of tips is only an inconvenience
Overall, it was an OK night
Not bad but not great
My next target will be Denton

 

The very first edition of “The Busking the RAMONE”

I had originally intended to try out the busking concept last weekend  but I was offered a gig at 3 Links instead
Naturally, I took the inside gig and it went over well
This time, I had prepared 32 tracks for the street and they didn’t have to be perfect EQ
3 Links was very kind to allow me the use of an electrical outlet and i thank them very much

Normally, I wouldn’t show up until an our or so before sunset because busking in the hot sun is extremely draining
In fact, I think I might have gotten heat stroke today but it was mild

I showed up early because of the Invasion Car Show and did not know what I was going to encounter
I knew that Elm Street was going to be blocked off but I didn’t anticipate that people would have those portable open tent like thingies
People weren’t happy to see me loading a bunch of equipment between the two tents just down the street from 3 Links
My second misconception was that all of the bands playing the car show were going to be at Trees
It turned out that they were playing the parking lot of Trees, which adds way too much noise to the environment
I opted to wait until the final band was off the stage to start playing but it was still hot at that time of the day (I need to start paying attention to times)
Keep in mind that I have already been exerting myself in the hot sun and getting shit figured out since about 3:30pm

Meanwhile, “Joey” from SEDATED- the world’s greatest Ramones tribute shows up in full gear and wants to sing
I tell him that he can sing the whole set if he likes and he pretty much did, except for the time he went to get a beer
This turned out to be a very good stroke of luck because this meant I didn’t have to sing a lot in the heat and he saved me some hassle

I would say that most of the performance went well
I recorded video of the performance with “Joey”  but turned the camera off as I went through the set at different points, so that I can get used to playing a request on the fly
I didn’t feel the need to document all of this because there are going to be plenty of busking performances in the future to record
I am exploring the option of live-streaming my busking session but we shall see….
My outdoor EQ skills leave a lot to be desired and it was hard to hear different parts of the music, especially the vocals
My brain gets distracted by all the things happening around me and I flub some chords or forget a word here and there but I am prepared to hammer that out with repetition
All of that will change with experience as well
Other than that, I can’t find much fault in today’s busk

ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ADJUSTMENTSThe first and most obvious adjustment will be the time of day
I will say that I did pretty well on tips and managed to catch the spilloff from across the street but I know that a normal busk in Texas  in the summertime should start just around sundown (you know how it is in Texas in the summertime)
Night time is prime time in Ellum and you can extend your busking time because you aren’t drained by the sun before you even set up

The second improvement is the obvious amount of repetition I need to get my physical stamina up as well as my technical prowess
This is one of the principal reasons for me to busk
Another positive aspect of busking  is that you get to fuck up and it doesn’t have as much impact
You will be playing that song again in about an hour, so it doesn’t have as much finality
Or you can play it in 10 minutes from now, because foot traffic will keep your audience constantly changing

As I mentioned, I took 2 more laps around the set by myself but omitted a few songs
I was going to take a break, maybe get something to eat but I started to feel queasy
It was then that I realized I probably shouldn’t push it
I had a huge ego about my physical prowess because of my drum busking experience
Many of my drum excursions on the street would last at least 5 or 6 hours if not longer
But I am a seasoned drummer and it was mostly after dark
Add to that the fact that I was getting sloppy because my fingertips were getting numb
I am playing hunt and peck on the keyboard with the middle finger on my left hand (how very “Manson” of me) because I still cant feel the tip of my index finger
It feels like when you burn your finger but with no pain, just disconnection
My right hand is no issue because it only comes in contact with a pick
Plus, I have decades of repetition built into my wrists from drumming, so I am good on the right
My ego tells me that Sunday night is technically Saturday because of Labor day on Monday  and I could busk again tomorrow night but I seriously better not push it

*BONUS BUSKING TIP
Always bring hydration to the street and try to avoid drinking large amounts of caffeine or alcohol
Try to avoid anything that dehydrates you
Plus, you wanna try to stay sober because a situation on the street can turn South quickly and you are going to need your wits about you
The main reason I lasted as long as I did today was because I froze a half gallon jug of water the night before and kept taking sips off the ice runoff

I won’t be busking again next weekend because I have a tourung band coming in on the 9th and I am going to see Kraftwerk on the 10TH!
My first ever Kraftwerk show!
See you soon!
R!

Here’s the video I recorded

Post Gig Notes- the RAMONE @ 3 Links 8-28-16

I have only played as the Ramone 3 times in public before this and they were low pressure gigs
3 Links is a whole different situation because it is the most popular venue in Dallas for national punk acts
It is hard to get a gig there if you are not an established local act so I knew I had to pay some dues before I got booked
I emailed Scott Beggs, outlined my plans and asked him if he’d allow me to use a power outlet for busking
There is a decent stretch of sidewalk with no active business between 3 Links and the donut shop
He returned the message and offered me a Sunday gig that was less than a week away
So I scrapped my busking plans and concentrated on making my Audio/Visual show as tight as possible

I made sure to get there as early as possible and setup was a breeze
Blake is a really laid back sound engineer and made me feel instantly at ease
I would have to say that everything was pretty much perfect but I would soon find out different

99% of my stage experience has been in the back of the stage on a drum riser.
I have also been playing with in ear monitors for about 15 years
So, I am not experienced enough to understand how to ask for what I need in my monitors
I am also not used to hearing the PA so loud
Every performing musician knows that all of the time spent in the rehearsal studio cannot adequately prepare you for the sonic chaos that happens on a stage
I could barely tell what was happening and had to concentrate extra hard whilst trying to be entertaining as possible

My setup usually includes a mixer and in ear monitors but I tried to go as minimal as possible to make things easier on the soundman
I won’t make this mistake again

The other thing that the rehearsal studio cannot prepare you for is a live audience
This was the first time I had ever stepped on stage as a front man
I am lucky that I can switch to extrovert mode in situations like this so I think I did pretty well in the entertainment portion of the show

My singing was affected by my inexperienced ear on a loud stage so I am sure that I wasn’t on key all of the time
Other than that, I would say that my vocals turned out better than I expected
My guitar playing was less than spectacular and I freely admit that I need a lot more playing time to memorize the positions on a guitar so that I can play without having to look at the fretboard
My right hand technique has been solid ever since I picked up a guitar in the mid 80’s
My chording hand is the issue
Add to that the fact that I was wearing sunglasses that were fogging up and pooling with sweat and my guitar playing was the worst aspect of the gig

When I say “the worst” I mean that in the lightest sense because it wasn’t that big of an issue to the audience and I didn’t see any of their enthusiasm wane because I banged a clam
I only got lost once and one of my fellow musicians remarked later that I handled the fumble really well by treating it lightheartedly
You people don’t know how long it took me to get to a point where every mistake I made caused me to completely lose focus, which made things worse
Not just in music but in life in general

I got a lot of positive feedback after the show but the comments that really meant a lot were those from people who remarked at how original the concept was and how well I pulled it off
This is gratifying enough coming from an audience member but the bar staff and even the soundman were complimentary
Those people have seen hundreds of bands and for me to merit a unique status confirms that I’ve hit on a solid idea

This is the only time I have ever had people anticipate what I was doing before they had ever seen me perform
It was especially galvanizing to have Kimberly and Denny come down from Denton to see the show
Kimberly has been supporting me on Facebook both by spreading the word and messaging me
I look forward to exploring the various gigs I can play in Denton for her and Denny

All in all, this was an incredibly positive gig experience and galvanized me to keep working on making this better
Then I get off stage and realized that I forgot to press record on the video camera I set up so there is no complete recording of the gig
Here are clips from various audience members
https://www.facebook.com/denny.stalcup/videos/10207556917229736/
https://www.facebook.com/scott.beggs.75/videos/10210460042727365/

The next move is getting the busking set ready
Labor day weekend is coming up and I need to be ready
The forecast says Saturday and Sunday are going to be rain free
I need to make my plans……..
Thanks to everyone who came out
See you on the streets soon!
R!

Back to Busking -or- The Parking Gods smile upon me

I have not lugged my drums down to Deep Ellum to play on the sidewalk in a while
There was a lot of construction and they tore up my corner
It was one of the few places where you could fit a drum set without obstructing the sidewalk and it was right in the middle of everything
The corner is back and the weather is getting warmer so I thought I’d take the new drumkit configuration out on the street and spend a couple of hours playing.
My biggest source of anxiety when heading out to Ellum is parking close enough to My spot
Then, there’s a chance that someone else has staked out MY spot
The keyboard guy was there for a while in my absence

The city has removed the parking meters from Elm street and I drove a lap around the area to check out parking
On my second go-round, a single spot opened up right in front of me so I took it
As I got out of the car to go across the street and stake out MY spot, I noticed that the new sidewalk right not 20 feet from  where I parked my car was the most perfect spot ever
Not only was it big enough but it is located just to the side of foot traffic
There are 3 different lanes where people can cross my path and it really maximizes exposure
Screw that old spot this is MY new spot

Drums are the best instrument for street performance because they are louder than a vast majority of the instruments used  for busking
When there are no clearly defined rules,the unwritten rule is “Early Bird Gets the Worm”. meaning that you can’t bitch when someone takes your spot by getting there earlier.
This adds an element of endurance to the act of playing on the street because getting there early means playing when no one is about
Likewise, it is not cool to set up too close to someone else, especially if you are competing sonically with the person in your vacinity
If you get to your spot first and you are playing drums, you needn’t worry about sonic competition.
That is, unless another drummer sets up….

I built a new ambidextrous modular drum kit for the street and was going to provide pictures and video footage but my stupid ass forgot to put a card in the camera
The new setup is designed to accommodate both right and left handed drummers with  minimal fuss
Picture this drumkit minus the electronics
The pipe-triggers were removed and replaced with 2 crash/ride cymbals (the 18″ on the left and the 16″ sitting on the floor)
The floor tom and china cymbal can float around
There is a regular snare in the center and a 10″ Mapex Black Panther snare just to the left than can double as a high tuned tom.
The small snare is better for electronic beats
IMG_1163
The cable hi hat can move to accommodate both left and right footed applications
IMG_1165
People were telling me that they heard my drums down the street and walked towards the sound to investigate
But it wasn’t until the first metal drummer sat in that I realized the insane amount of volume that the bass drum was getting!
Here’s a brief explanation of my newest and most amazing discovery but first, check out the picture of my bass drum assembly
IMG_1166
This is an 18″ marching bass drum that I have performed various experiments upon during the years
It is on a Drum Workshop cradle which raises it off the floor
The two benefits are 1- It raises the center of the head to the height of the beater and 2- It makes the drum more resonant by picking it up off the floor so that the sound waves have room to expand
The people who said they heard me down the street said the heard the bass drum first
Another benefit of the drums as a busking instrument is that even some drunk idiot can bash away at it and not do any more damage than I normally would
That is also why you bring “Guest Sticks”
I usually bring a selection of different weights as well as mallets and “rods” or “bundlesticks” which have the bounce of a stick and yet have the “flap” of a brush
You can really maximize your tips by allowing people to play your drums
Some people will not be that good but many drummers who are gigging in the area will stop by as well
But the point is to let people have fun with your performance instead of them standing there judging the experience based solely on your performance
Audience participation = More tips

I managed to stay out there for 5 hours and made a decent amount of money
It got me out of the house and I did some much needed work on my stamina
I can’t predict when I will go out again but it will be a lot easier next time
I also plan to make a Youtube series out of my experiences

How The Sore Losers changed my life

There were two reasons why I became interested in independent film and video in the mid 90’s
The first was a Dallas Tx cable access show produced by Joe Riley called “The Hypnotic Eye” in which he showed clips from all kinds of weird and obscure sources
He did a feature on a video store called “Forbidden Books” run by Jason Cohen
Go to the 48:00 mark to see the Forbidden Books segment
It was one of his main sources of material so I went down to Expo Park and checked it out
This second discovery opened up a new world of films that I would never have been exposed to in the pre-youtube world of the mid 90’s
Of all the films The Hypnotic Eye featured, one caught my attention in particular
It was a film that Joe had personally worked on as effects supervisor called “The Sore Losers”
This trailer was my first exposure to the film and is lifted directly from that episode

 

garage rock……violence….tattooed rocker chicks…..boobs……more violence….
WHOA!
Who’s the REDHEAD!!!!?????
I immediately went to Forbidden and rented this film
I popped it into the VCR and my mind was completely blown

This film was like no other I had ever seen
I had tried watching just about every type of independent, low budget exploitation film  and most of it just didn’t appeal to me
Richard Kern was too raw and John Waters was too gross
I had reached a saturation point with  horror/gore films and I had virtually ignored the grind house genre, so my vocabulary on the subject was limited
I guess that’s why I wasn’t jaded on the genre and saw something completely new to me
Everyone in this film seemed to be very much like the people in my own life
Not just my current life but my origins as well
This movie was shot in The South and JMM showed me the same scenes I saw as a little kid
I was born in Atlanta but my family moved to Dallas when I was very young
We made frequent road trips to Atlanta and La Grange Georgia and the road would often travel through miles of abandoned and decaying  houses with yards filled with rusting cars on blocks
A good deal of the men who populated that route were old rednecks wearing overalls (and nothing else) that someone at one point has called “Paw Paw” (including my own Granfather)
Flash forward to the early 90’s Deep Ellum scene and this film could have been shot featuring the clientele  The Orbit Room
I even realized that I knew Dlana from the Orbit room
Both worlds had  the same Rockabilly Dudes, Alterna Chicks, Hippies and even the scary/beautiful/intimidating Red Head who made me feel 2 inches tall during my feeble attempts to chat her up

The next thing I am going to say is a statement usually included in the confession of some crazed film fan/stalker
But….

This film spoke directly to ME

I promptly dubbed it off to a tape, returned the original to Forbidden and proceeded to wear my copy out
There is no way to count how many times I have watched this film but you can see the influence on my video editing
You can credit JMM for getting me hooked on the Hypnotic Swirl used in “The Young American Mystic Cult Of Horrors”

 

You can also credit JMM for introducing me to another obsession which is image and persona of Kerine Elkins
She’s the scary/beautiful/intimidating red head and the personification of the type of woman that I went for

I contacted John Michael McCarthy, expressing my admiration for his work as well as my fascination with Kerine
He confirmed that there was a lot of her own personality in her onscreen persona and I started to realize that one of his biggest talents was finding people who already fit the character mold, so that it wasn’t much of a stretch for them to act like an amplified version of themselves
I wanted to ask him if I could contact her but I decided that would probably end up with a an outcome similar to the one  I experienced with the Dallas scary/beautiful/intimidating Red Head

The new millennium brought me to Minneapolis where I started my own Hypnotic Eye ripoff cable access show called “Countrockula’s Theater for the Insane!”
My first episode featured my favorite scene form The Sore Losers

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATnngd0OqBI
I saw Super Starlet A.D. at Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis on Halloween night and then contacted JMM with an offer
I asked him how much for a VHS of everything he had and saved up for it
I received The Sore Losers, SSAD, Damselvis, Teenage Tupelo and Shine On Sweet Starlet, a compilation of drive in trailers as well as a compilation of clips that would later become the extras on the SSAD DVD
He even thew in a soft core nudie video that Kerine had shot

Over the years, my VHS collection swelled to monstrous proportions, only to be whittled down to a few boxes and transferred to  hard drives but I will never part with my original Big Broad Geurillamonster merch
Those films have been played on video screens all over Minneapolis Mn, Dallas Tx and the various cities where I toured as a Video/DJ and those bare images work amazingly well when taken out of context and with no sound
No matter what kind of bar or venue I play, from goth-industrial, punk, metal, everyone likes the films
Super Starlet A.D. goes over especially well at Lezbeen bars

I owe a tremendous debt of artistic gratitude to John Michael McCarthy and feel  proud to have done my part in keeping these films in the public consciousness
I can’t help but think that he is partially responsible for the proliferation of burlesque culture

If you asked me the one reason why I think his films are so great is that he didn’t attempt to bring the film to me
He succeeded in including me in the film
Even if he never knew me before
He knows of me and the people like me