Friday, October 29, 2004

Pioneer Pleasant Vale

This is the end of Red Ribbon Week and I've spent the last two days performing at two of my favorite schools. Both are schools I've visited many many times for RRW over the years.

The afternoon show at Locust Grove yesterday with 1st and 2nd grade was great as expected. One of the teachers requested "Lisa Lee Elizabeth" and I thought that song was tattooed to my brain so to speak - that I'd always be able to sing it - so I launched into it, and when I got to Tom Paul's name I hit a mental block! I just couldn't get it right. I muddled through, and the kids were very forgiving (they always are!). But it was rather frustrating, especially since looking back I realize that I hit the same mental block on the same song a week earlier at Pottery Barn Kids! Kids often ask if I ever get embarrassed and the answer is yes, when stuff like this happens I do, but I've learned how to be embarrassed without letting it bother me. I guess I will have to practice that song again-!! (My bass player, Bob Moore, would say I've got old person's disease.)

Well, some highlights from that show were "Loose Tooth," "You're a Dinosaur," and "Trick or Treat, Smell My Feet" (of course) all of which went over very well (and all of which will be part of the upcoming performances and CD with the band!).

Those songs were highlights today as well at Pioneer-Pleasant Vale school, just outside of Enid, where I sang for PreK-6th grade. "Our Principal Plays in a Rock and Roll Band" was a big hit too, especially when Mr. Coonrod came out playing the inflatable guitar! "Fifty Ways to Say No to Drugs" also had the kids clapping along and cheering. Three volunteers came to the front to give their input. Each verse presents a situation in which the singer is pressured to try a drug, and my volunteers gave responses which I then put into the song.

The kids at Pioneer were great - they were wildly enthusiastic with their participation but also very quick to quiet themselves for the next song. When I said "time for one more" the 6th grade began clamoring for "Trick or Treat." When I hit the chorus I was taken aback by the sheer force of the sound of all the grades singing along! I found out later they'd been listening to the tape.

After the show, and after Mr. Coonrod took a pie in the face (nothing to do with me), the kids headed outside for "Trunk or Treat." Parents had decorated the trunks of their cars and were handing out goodies to the kids as they walked from car to car. I stayed on and handed out flyers from the back of my car about the upcoming show in Stillwater, Nov 22. So I hope to see a lot of those enthusiastic Pioneer-Pleasant Vale kids at the show!

Several digital photos were taken both days. I'm hoping to receive a few by email soon, and I'll post them here if I do!

Thanks everyone for two great days. Hopefully I'll see you next year!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

On the Road in Locust Grove

Here I am in Locust Grove, killing time between shows. I'm at the Early Learning Center. I sang for Pre-K and Kindergarten this morning. They were a great group and gave me their attention for a whole 40 minutes. We ended with "Trick or Treat" which is kind of a tradition for me here at Locust Grove, and even though it's been a couple of years, the kids jumped right in on the chorus! It's always fun when they know my songs!

I'll sing for 1st and 2nd grade here pretty soon and the councelor assures me that they know the songs even better!

Last night we had our ninth band rehearsal. This time we didn't record, but just ran through the songs two or three times each, working out any kinks that still remain. For the most part the songs are sounding great! We'll have one more rehearsal before the big debut show a week from Saturday in OKC.

Hi Lisa and Evalyn! I love you!! See you soon!

Monday, October 25, 2004

Technical Rehearsal

Well we had our technical rehearsal yesterday at the Student Union Little Theater. Our sound guru, Steve McLinn, joined us to record. Our purpose was to make sure everything will run smoothly at show-time, and boy is it a good thing we did this.

I invited my mailing list but I don't think anyone showed up for a sneak peek. Which is just as well since the front entrance to the theater was covered with plastic because they were painting! (I didn't actually see anyone painting but I guess they had been.) If someone did try to come and was thwarted by a wall of plastic, my apologies. I wouldn't have invited the public if the Union had let me know this was going to be going on.

And this was just the first of our troubles! It took much longer to set up than anticipated. My voice had some wild distortion on it that we had to track down and eliminate. And then we were experiencing strange acoustic anomalies. I would sing and play and hear myself coming out of the sound system a split second later, which is very disorienting. Steve says it's not his system - it's the room, which is basically round, and focuses all the reverberation back to one spot, which was where I was standing. It's the visual focal point of the room, and right there the delay becomes noticeably much worse than anywhere else. (If you know the little theater, this is the rounded end of the stage.) Steve says it's acoustically the worst place he's ever stood. And Steve has stood in a whole lot of acoustic places.

But fear not, from the audience everything sounds great. (So they tell me!)

So it took some time to try to figure that out, and after struggling through a couple of tunes, We finally decided I should stand further back, closer to the other band members. I usually like to be right up where I can see the faces in the audience, so I was now out of my comfort zone in that respect, but, I could hear a lot better, and we zipped through several songs sounding great.

Lisa and Evalyn (my wife and 3 year old daughter) arrived in the theater just about as we were starting to run through songs. Evalyn was cute - she came up on stage and whispered in my ear - "Daddy, be careful how you sound." I asked her if there was something wrong with the way I sounded. "You're too loud." (We were still making adjustments.)

In the end we had eaten up so much time solving problems that we only got through ten out of thirteen songs. (I was hoping to do them all at least once, some twice.)

But when Steve played back the recording it sounded great, and that is the main point!

As we packed up, little doubts were creeping into my brain. Will we be able to set up on time for the show on the 22nd? Will I be able to give a good show and make a good recording at the same time? It seems that the requirements of each often conflict. Plus general fear of the unknown - this band has not performed for an audience before and I'll be recording a CD!! Am I nuts?!

I guess it showed on my face because John and Steve and Bob and Lisa all offered encouraging words. I'm definitely facing a steep learning curve here, performing with a band for the first time. But I'm very lucky to have surrounded myself with talented people who care about the quality of their work! I know that if I give a great performance I can depend on the rest of the group to back me up and all will be well. So I'd better go put in some practice!

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Children's Music Web Award

The Children's Music Web Awards program has announced their winners for 2004.

My song "I Go Bananas" won an award in the Best Song for Young Children category!

You can hear the song, and all the other winning songs online at the Children's Music Web -

Congratulations to all the winners!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Tech Rehearsal - You're Invited

What are you doing this Sunday afternoon? (October 24)

We are having a technical rehearsal. This just means the band will run through the songs while the sound engineer records, making sure that all will go well for the real thing on Nov 6, 19, and 22.

One pair of mics will be aimed into the audience, but it would be a shame to record silence, especially on those songs that hinge on audience participation.

If you'd like a sneak peak (or listen) to hear the band before anyone else, come to the technical rehearsal. Drop by anytime between 3:00 and 4:00 Sunday afternoon and stay as long as you want (we'll be out of there by 5:00). It's kind of informal. We'll be starting, stopping, and doing over I'm sure, so it'll have a different feel from a concert, but it'll still be fun!

We'll be in the Student Union Little Theater on campus here in Stillwater.

Mark your calendar! Tell your friends! Hope to see you then!

Thanks, Fans!

I just had to post this and brag on and thank a few fans!

Last night I sent a message out to my email lists in Stillwater and OKC asking for help distributing some handbills about my upcoming concerts with the band.

Yesterday I printed up 1500 hand bills, feeling a bit nervous that I wouldn't be able to get rid of that many.

Then the emails started coming in, with folks requesting anywhere from 10 to 400+ copies to hand out. Now it looks like I'll need to print more!

I am always amazed by and thankful for the devotion of my friends and fans. I couldn't make music without you!

I hope that when each of you hear the new CD you'll get warm fuzzies for knowing that you helped make it possible!!


Thursday, October 14, 2004

Rehearsal Number 6

Last night was our sixth band rehearsal. Boy, sometimes it just feels like swimming through jello.

First we tried to take a photo for use in flyers and such. I may post the results here later - or I may just skip it. We wanted orange shirts - purple was the only color I could get in the right combination of sizes. We didn't have a camera-person handy so I set up the video camera on a tripod and we stood outside on an overcast evening while I ran back and forth adjusting the camera and posing in the shot. Well, the photos we got this way are grainy and shadowy - we all have very dark eye sockets so it looks like night of the living dead children's musicians. Well, photoshop helped a bit, and if I use them small enough, well... I wish I had a budget for photography - maybe next time.

So that ate up a good chunk of time, and after everyone filled up on Lisa's banana muffins (yum yum!) we worked on "The Great Green Squishy Mean Bibliovore." This one seemed to take forever to come together. It's a very complicated arrangement, which I never realized before, playing it on my own. We've been through it once with the group, but hadn't sweated the details until now. It just took time. But we got it - it sounds great!

Then we had time for only two more - "Hanging Out With Heroes at the Library" and "Love This Baby." On "Love This Baby" Bob is playing Mandolin and John is playing bass. The mandolin on there sounds really great and it'll lend some color and contrast.

After grinding through six songs last time it was a bit frustrating getting to only three. Meanwhile the number of rehearsals left keeps dwindling!

But we're very close. Bob only has three more songs to learn, and then we can start just playing through the set over and over to reinforce everything. Most of the arrangements are pretty well set. Tell me to just quit fretting and keep practicing!

Bartlesville Show

Well, we've added one more show to the Family Rock Concert live CD recording tour!

This one is in Bartlesville, November 19 at 7:00 at Tri-County Tech in the Osage Room. It will be part of Tellebration, put on by the Tallgrass Tellers. The band and I will perform either before or after a set of stories by several tellers. It promises to be a really cool eveing of entertainment. Mark your calendars! Tell your friends!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Rehearsal Number 5

We had our fifth rehearsal today. We worked on "Loose Tooth," "Horny Toad," "Frog Song," "You're a Dinosaur," "Can It Be Over?," and "Big Red Fire Truck" - that's half the lineup. This time our drummer, Cody, went all out and wore his plastic fireman's hat for the fire truck song. Don't ask him why he has one, he just does.

It was our first with a new bass player - Bob Moore of Oklahoma City. Bob is a full time musician and sits in with all sorts of bands around the OKC area. We're very glad to welcome him to the group - for a while there it looked like we might not have a bass player at all. (Brad had to back out due to the time committment.)

It also looks like we'll be adding one more public performance, in Bartlesville. This one has been tentative on the calendar from the start, but we had trouble with the venue. It's a long story, and not all that interesting. Suffice it to say, it looked like a yes, then it looked like a no, now it looks like a yes. More details soon.

Boy if I'd known how difficult this would be to coordinate I - well, I still would have done it, but I probably wouldn't have planned on getting anything else done! Now I just have to promote the shows and fill those seats. Tell all your friends!!

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Get Your $5 Coupon

There are two shows scheduled for recording the new live CD. Saturday Nov 6, 2:00 PM at City Arts Center in OKC, and Monday November 22, 7:00 PM at the Student Union Theater in Stillwater.

I'd like to know how my promotion is going and how many people to expect at the shows, so I've set up a registration page. If you fill in the short form you will land on a page with a printable coupon. The coupon is good for $5 off any CD at the sales table. That will include advanced orders of the new CD. No catch! I'm basically paying you $5 to register and say you'll come to one of the shows. (I also ask for your email address so I can keep you informed about the shows, but I won't use it for anything else, I promise!)

Register Here

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Latest Rehearsal (and more)

Wednesday's rehearsal got us through the rest of the songs I hope to use on the CD - "Horny Toad," "The Great Green Squishy Mean Bibliovore," "Love This Baby," and a new one, "Can It Be Over?"

I put together a mock-up of the entire CD using recordings from rehearsals. I listened in the car today, taking a few notes on spots that still need work. For the most part we are right on track and I'm very pleased with the sound. I can't wait for you all to hear it. I keep saying that, but, hey, I'm excited!

I visited with Steve McLinn today in Oklahoma City. He'll be our sound and recording engineer at the programs. We tested out some headset and guitar mics. Steve says he'd like to play in the band, but he has gigs those days, ha ha. If only he had four arms! He's a great musician as well as a brilliant equipment nut. The CD will be in great hands with Steve!

I also dropped off an armload of flyers at the City Arts Center. Now the promotion has begun, so it feels like I've passed an important point of no return.

While we were there at the children's theater, Lisa, Evalyn and I took in a production of "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe." We were wondering how such an expansive book would be presented on stage. They did it with two actors in 40 minutes! It was done in the round, and each actor switched rolls to cover all the parts by switching hats. There were only a few props - it was mostly pantomime, and they went from narration to acting by stepping in and out of the "magic circle." The kids' stayed focussed on the story very well and all seemed to enjoy it. I thought it was great how they drew you in even with such a sparce production.

Now Evalyn is anxious to check out "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe" from the library.