This past Monday was the first day of school in Southern Nevada, and like much of the country the whole city was buzzing with the anticipation of the new school year. Sunblock, coolers and board shorts gave away to notebooks, pencils and jeans and the new school year wokeup the 200,000+ students of the Clark County School District in the early hours of the 25th. I was very happy to accept an invitation to the Alexander Dawson School located on the far west side of Las Vegas to perform for an assembly for the faculty, students and their families and to serve as a high energy start-out-the-gate for the 2014-2015 school year.
The facilities were immaculate, the students well behaved and engaging and the faculty was very helpful and happy to have me performing for their educational community. It was a great afternoon and rumor has it that I will be back sometime during the school year in full workshop mode. This is very exciting as they have top notch educators at the helm of their music technology and choir programs. I have a few ideas about the workshop that I haven’t implemented that I need to bounce off of them, but if it takes off…man….it’s going to be a very special time at the Alexander Dawson School!
Some of you may have seen the new banner I put up this week. Over the next couple of weeks there may be a few changes on it: added/changed dates or locations. There are a number of lines in the water that my team and I are following up on. Feel free to post it on your own Facebook page, website, blog, Twitter. That organic level of support is always great to receive from friends and fans of my music.
You may have also noticed the Electro Voice logo on the banner. The support they are putting behind the tour is amazing! Electro Voice has been a champion of my music for a number of years now and I am beyond thankful for their support. When I first started looping 5 or so years ago, I started out with an old mic I picked up somewhere. When the day came when I needed a solid, reliable mic that meets and exceeds all of my needs, I didn’t know where to look. So I did what anybody would do: I tried out e-v-e-r-y mic at the music shop. At the end of the day one stood out that was the perfect cross section of meeting my needs on and offstage, value and price point. That day I left with the ND767 mic and haven’t looked back since! If you looking to get into the vocal end of things or need it for your horn, drum kit or school music ensemble, give the ND767 a look…and a listen!
This next week I am going to putting up Volume 2 of my ‘How to Make a Pedal Board.’ If you remember a few weeks ago, I posted a blog about the construction of my new pedal boards. My old rig was close to six feet long, and now I have to smaller boards are far more portable and easier to get in and out of venues. I will need to take a few pictures of the new rig, and the new equipment I have added to it! Very exciting stuff and next level gear.
Hope as your summer starts to come to a close that you look back on it with great memories. I know my summer was fun and full of a lot of leaps and bounds. Keep an eye on my website for tour dates and info as it comes in. Thanks for all of your support….See you soon. Oh by the way….in just over a month, I will be on the road!
Las Vegas ,NV
August 29, 2014
Good evening all. Sorry I was of the grid for a little while last week. If you can imagine a guy standing on a train station platform and a bullet train going by and and grabbing hold of it and it whisking him away over the horizon in a fraction of a moment….that almost sums up my week and in it’s own sweet way…I am that guy on the platform and hurried off into the distance.
What started out as a simple Twitter message amongst two artists took hold and blossomed into something incredible that I was able to share with friends and fans, and forge new ones from the opportunity to do something good for the live looping community here in Las Vegas. Mike Why, a vocal loop artist based out of Pittsburgh, PA and I connected over Twitter and messages lead to phone calls, phone calls lead to him rolling through my neon soaked city and the idea for a shared night of music came into consideration. It took about 24 hours, for the time, place and venue to be secured with an individual here in town who has championed my music for over ten years.
Within a few days the line up came into focus: Daniel Park, a fixture of the live looping community who plays regularly up and down the Las Vegas Strip. Rein Garcia, whose organic grooves were much approved by a packed Hard Rock. Eric Ita, who is very much in the Ray LaMontagne vein of music. Mike Why, who is a gentleman and a excellent performer, Donzo’s Cosmos, a multi instrumentalist who makes live looping and compostion look easy and effortless.…and myself.
So how can you get six artists into a three-hour spot with varying degrees of equipment, rig size, PA needs, and backline requirements and keep the night running smoothly? Well……that was the best part of the night.
Each artist had their own friends and fans there, many of which were mutually shared between different artists, but everybody worked together in helping each other load in and out and everybody stuck around to listen to each other! Quick sidenote: We all have been there before, maybe an event, or an open mic where you are late on the bill and by the time you get up to play there is bartender, the sound engineer and a bored waitress standing in the corner. I’ve had nights like that, more than I want to admit to on my own website!
The transitions were seamless, and a streamlined sound-check between each performer, insured that each of us could sound the best we could that night. At the eye of this storm was Frequency Entertainment’s very own Rick Duarte. The Gibson Acoustic Asylum Showcase has been going on for a number of years with Rick at the wheel. The event is a reflection of Rick himself: multi-faceted, positive, supportive, talented and a level of professionalism that can be admired from any leading figure in any profession.
I can recount my own experiences on and off stage that night and even go play by play and quarterback my own performance, but that will be only one small facet of the night. Instead, I am moved to write about the level of camaraderie between not only the artists, but their own fans they brought out. No clicks, no groups, no dividing lines. One collective positive whole of humanity who for one night came together to cheer on their friend, boyfriends, cousin, fellow artist or looping teacher(!).
Nights like this are the nights that you remember when you might have a bad day at work, or a night in the studio when it is hard to find the intimate familiarity in your own music. It is nights like this that are hard to translate into social media…outside of “Wish you were here.” I have my own hopes that the fans and friends that came out knowing that they were part of something special that night. That only half of the magic came from the stage, the other half was culled in the audience and presented in cheers, applause and ready hugs and handshakes when the show was over.
With closer associations with the looping community here in Vegas and around the country, my own hope is to pay this forward in other avenues. Not only as a performer, but also helping other loop artists find a spot to perform here in Vegas. With any luck, there is just enough of the magic left over from last Monday, where they can use that to make their own night of whimsy and music…..and reflect on the magic *they* left behind.
I have been fortunate enough in my music career to be a part of some very incredible events. Be it on stage in front of hundreds of music educators, to competing in loop competitions with many of my looping inspirations all the way to discovering a new and exciting sound in the confines of my own home. Each has excited me and inspired me in it’s own way, and each has left a mark and provided a waypoint from which I have changed my musical heading. As unique as each of these events has been, are the serendipitous circumstances in which they presented themselves to me.
My initial foray into looping had me piecing together my first rig out of the same components of my leading musical heroes. As I progressed in my skill set, street performing gave way to clubs and corporate shows. Conversations on music in dimly lit backstreet bars lead to dialogues on music pedagogy to leading music educators in the public school setting and finally articulating my musical equipment with my feet lead to my having more control and a lighter touch with my hands than my feet inside the familiar confines of a set of Chuck Taylors ever did.
With this growth and a bit of experimentation, I noticed that my rig I had built for me was getting heavier and heavier and wasn’t condusive to the events and tours I was now part of, but also didn’t allow the ease of movement and set-up necessary to my needs. The time had come: I needed a new pedal board.
So the question remained: How do I keep all of my equipment but keep it in a smaller footprint? I was looking at smaller pedals, lighter materials, consolidating my rig into a laptop and other avenues that were brining me farther away from the organic approach I have subscribed to since my inception as Just Alliance, Loop Artist. After discussing it with a close friend of mine, he came up with the solution.
“Let’s make two smaller pedalboards.”
The answer, albeit elusive, was staring me in the face the entire time. Two boards allows me to carry the same amount of gear, but with each case being just big enough, it would increase the mobility and short set up time I was looking for. Gone are the days of wheeling a 5-foot tall, 60-pound pedalboard through the table games of Caesar’s Palace. Now it was easy in…easy out. The time had come: construction of my new pedalboards.
After a small redesign of my signal path and placing my pedals in a footprint in which my pedalboard and case would be constructed around, a quick trip to the hardware store, the same close friend I mentioned earlier and I were in his woodshop with the following materials:
2 lengths of 10-ply plywood
2 lengths of Birch
1 length of Black laminate
2 lengths of Aluminum Extrusion
The design had each pedalboard fitting into a space that was:
(36in x 15in x 5in)
Or quick metric conversion:
(914mm X 381mm X 127mm)
Boards were cut, corners sanded down, contact cement laid down, black laminate cut to size, aluminum extrusion cut and sanded and after number of hours, the new boards were ready to accept the pedals for which they were built for. I heard of numerous ways to keep pedals attached to a pedalboard. Musicians dismantling their pedals and screwing the chasse into the board or even heard of another guy using glue (!) to attach his pedals to his board. Both of these sounded like bad ideas, so my inner 10-year-old came out. Velcro.
You don’t need to attach your pedals to your board like it is protecting state secrets or hiding the crown jewels, but they do need to stand up to the rough rigors of the road. I cut enough smaller pieces of industrial strength Velcro to cover key points of the underside of my various components and soon stuck them to the newly minted boards.
I was done!
After purchasing the Planet Waves Pedal Board Cable Kit and having Bronson Garza, a guitar and pedalboard guru at the Las Vegas Strip Guitar Center instructed me on how to cut cables to size, my board was starting to look respectable and much cleaner than the one before. My next step was to figure my power needs and establish the correct power supply that would allow me to forgo the wallworts and power supplies that had long made a tangled, yet managed mess on the back side of my rig. The how-it-happened regarding the power management will be saved for a later blog however.
Finally the first stage was completed. I now have two smaller boards that have the same gear as my former pedalboard, but allow it sit in a smaller, lighter footprint! (See below)
The final length as a whole is 72in. As you can see in the pics below the final dimensions for each board fall into the (36in X 15in X 5in) footprint that was the goal from the beginning.
Of course any new gear can’t be properly tested until it is taken for a test drive…in this case, last week’s Summerlin Artist Showcase on the west end of Las Vegas. (Fortunately, the sun had gone down and the mid summer head gave way to…..well…. mid summer-not-as-much-heat)
In the next couple of weeks, I will be getting my new cases and will address the how and why I bought them. If you want to get in touch with the company I enlisted to help me construct the boards then feel free to contact me and I will be happy to connect you.Tonight's blog is the first of a series of blogs that will talk about my new set up. (Cases, power supply, etc) Oh…and if you can keep it a secret….I have new photos coming up soon. Stay tuned!!
Las Vegas, NV
July 7th, 2014
Good Evening Everybody,
Tomorrow marks roughly the two week mark since I launched the fundraising campaign for my fall tour. At the moment, just under $100 has been pledged to support the transportation, lodging and food costs associated with keeping this (one-man) show on the road. Oh, and before I forget, there was an anonymous pledger, whoever you are out there, thank you, and those that have pledged, like Santa Clause I know who you are! I have received a number of emails inquiring what one can do to help. My fundraising page is made very user friendly and in the time it took you to read this paragraph is about the the time it will take you to contribute!
There are few things in the works for the coming summer months. I won't be able to say too much here (yet), but I can say that a few places in town with beautiful venues and top tier management and events production has been in contact with me inviting me to a residency. This is exciting not just for myself, but for many of my peers in the looping community I would like to invite out to share the stage with me. The venues I have been contacted by lend themselves to a very warm, intimate setting but still have room for fans and friends to come out and have plenty of room to invest an evening with me.
I am in the process of redesigning my rig. In short: It is too big to manage in a way I seem fit. Fret not, I won't go trading in the loop pedal for a smaller instrument anytime soon, but I plan on making two smaller pedal boards I can manage separately, but still have the same area footprint when laid side by side on my table top. So here is my question to you the reader: Can you recommend a company that can construct custom cases? Preferably here in the U.S., shipping international sometimes costs almost as much a plane ticket! Drop me a line through my website or social media end of things if you know of a company, or know a guy-who knows a guy-who knows a guy.
In the past couple of weeks I have been fortunate enough to travel to Dallas, Texas on a personal trip. I couldn't possibly list enough positive things about Texas or the people I met there! What an incredible place! I had the opportunity to spend an evening in The Stockyards area of Ft. Worth, Texas. The Stockyards is an old area of Ft. Worth that is now a very vibrant tourist area by day, and by night the bars and clubs are teaming with live music. I was raised on Country and Bluegrass Music when I was little, so to see so many groups performing traditional country music in such a concentrated area, I was loving every minute of it!
The trip to Texas also served as a dry run to gauge the tour this fall when I perform in San Antonio and Austin. If the people in either town are as friendly the people I met two weekends ago in Dallas, then the tour is closing out in a very accommodating, cultured part of the country. I was reminded of this with a conversation I had with a local Dallas musician while I was there:
Musician: I think they will love you in Austin.
Me: Oh yeah?
Musician: Yeah, they always say "Keep Austin weird!"
Musician: "Yeah…..and you're weird!"
And that was when I knew I was in the right place!! Spread the work folks about the tour. Let's keep the contributions coming in. Keep an eye out on my tour page for the additional dates I was talking about earlier. If you have any info about (hard)case companies, let me know. Big love to all of you out there, and don't forget to check out the merchandise page as well!! Thanks for all the support!!
June 15, 2014
Las Vegas, NV---
Fans, Friends and Family,
Today marks the launch of my fundraising campaign. To help support my fall tour, go to my fundraising page to contribute. Every donation helps….and every donation will gets YOU something in return! Perks and prizes are all on the page! I invite you to share my fundraising page to your friends, fans, family and companies you think are interested in being a part of the campaign. I continue to appreciate your support. See you on the road!
Las Vegas, NV
Greetings Fans, Friends and Corporate Partners,
The past couple of weeks have been a huge push in the right direction for me. In the event that social media isn't your thing, or you are just joining me, I hope tonight's blog fills in the gaps and brings you up to speed. With so many new events, shows and musical adventures, it is hard to know where to begin and end, but I will do my best.
A few weeks ago I was interviewed on the Bruce Radel Radio Show. Bruce has always been an incredible host, not only in his on-air duties in his studio but also as an patron of my music. Always supportive in my shows and curious what lays just around the next curve in the road of my career, I am lucky to have him in my support network. The first half of our interview covered everything from local music, to live performances and also conducting live looping workshops at schools and music shops around the region. The second half of the interview is a live performance of Capital Cities' "Safe and Sound." (My very first public performance of it) and a short piece about my new online shop with all of my merchandise available for purchase. Contact Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about appearing on his show!
A number of fans have sent me emails asking about additional dates on the tour or expanding it to other states. At press time, what I can say is that I am working hard to accommodate as many performances as the schedule allows. If the opportunity presents itself to expand into another state and/or country, then my creative team and I are open to looking into it.
Just this past week, I learned that a vocal loop artist from Ohio, named FreshFX is coming. I have been keeping an eye on his videos and social media posts, and look forward to enjoying my peers (the other being Mr. Tim) live for a few nights this coming fall. I am very pleased to get word that Angela Sheik is coming on tour with us for a few dates in Texas as well. Angela's music is incredible. She possess the deft touch as a songwriter, and her thorough understanding of live looping and the textures she weaves has always amazed me. I was a fan of live looping before I ever became a proponent of it, I am not ashamed a little hero worship here and there! Angela was also the BOSS 2011 U.S. National Champion as well, and deservedly so. Her talent and musicality are unique and deserve that level of recognition.
This past was an exciting day full of live looping workshops and performances at the Northwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, NV. This is a magnet school that hosts engineering, medical, hospitality, early childhood and also media programs. However, tucked into this top tier curriculum is a music technology course (provided at three levels) taught by Mr. Mark Carroll, the conductor of the Las Vegas Youth Philharmonic. Mr. Carroll's students were very much on point in their participation and thoughtful questions.
My favorite part of the workshop (and ANY workshop I conduct) is getting the students/musicians involved that came out to perform. I am enclosing a few candids from that workshop and also the lunch performances in front of 1800+ students. Actually, just writing this paragraph provides me with inspiration to write another blog that covers "How Does One Teach Live Looping?" More on that later though…
To close, I want to let you all know about my fundraising for the upcoming tour. Not only financial backing, but also services (lodging, transportation) will be needed and a part of the fundraising effort as well. I am hoping to make a short video outlining the fundraising campaign this week as well. If you want to contribute right now, my merchandise for sale on my online store and drop ships to you then and there. They ship worldwide as well!! (Finnish fans…I am looking at you!) So stay tuned for the upcoming fundraising videos and links that I will provide to make the fall tour happen. If you yourself are interested in becoming a corporate partner, then contact my team here on my website, and we can have that discussion.
Thank you for all of your continued support. The emails. social media contact and your faces at my shows are all incredible. To all of you celebrating Mother's Day today, I hope it is as wonderful as the person you are celebrating. Have a great week everybody and talk to you a further down the line.
P.S. Below is a few of the captured moments from last Friday's looping workshop!
Las Vegas ,NV USA
May 11th, 2014
I am very pleased to announce my 2014 Fall Tour! This has me very excited and I am working hard to get in as many dates as I can to accommodate as many fans, cities and venues as possible along the way. In the next few weeks I will be launching a fundraising campaign to help offset my touring costs and invite you to help me reach my fiscal goal to get and keep(!) this show on the road!
I will also will also be posting information about there where, when's and who's of the tour. I am beyond excited and quite humbled at who I will be sharing the stage with along the tour route. Oh, and if you are looking for Just Alliance shirts, hats, sweaters, flamethrowers, etc....the online store is in the works. If there is anything in particular you want, please let us know.
I continue to appreciate all of the support at the individual and corporate level. A few short years ago, I didn't even know what looping was.....and now all of this. Thank you all and I will keep you posted about the tour.
See you on the road....
April 7th, 2014
Hi friends, fans and family! Thank you for dropping by my blog. There are so many things going on right now, and in the coming weeks I will be dropping new dates, equipment reviews and other goodies for you to take a look at listen to. There is one group I need to thank that has been very helpful (and then some) on my creative journey, and especially on this next chapter that will begin to unfold in the coming weeks, and that is the creative team over at Torreso Photography. This talented group has helped me in the majority of my graphic design for my events and new(!) logo in addition to my pictures that many of you are familiar with. If you find yourself in Southern Nevada and need photography and graphic design done, contact them. Beyond accommodating and very easy to work with.
To close, keep an eye here on my blog. In addition to "day-in-the-life-of" sort of writings, I will also post equipment reviews, website exclusive pictures and more here. Feel free to comment and connect with me here....that's why it's up.
Just Alliance's Blog
Thoughts, ideas and musical musings from this Silver State Loop Artist.