Musicians DIY: fixing your shockmount

I don’t own truly expensive microphones (not yet anyways) My newest mic is a  GLS Audio ES-57 I love this mic for micing guitar amps in my home studio and at $30 thru Amazon it was a steal I now own 2 of them but I digress…

The Problem

My best microphone for recording vocals is my large 1 inch gold sputtered condenser mic from Behringer the B-1 this is an excellent mic at just $99 it comes in a very nice mic case and complete with a high quality foamie and a shock mount… The shock mount is not the best out there, the main shock ring is riveted to the mic stand attachment and after just a few days it had become very very “floppy” and because it is riveted and not attached to the main ring via a screw or hex bolt it cant be re tightened. So when positioning it I had to account for its “droop”.

The Fix

Being a relatively clever person I tried to come up with a way to make this firm and steady as it had in the beginning. The degree of motion is small and the gaps very tiny, just enough to be annoying and it was far to small to wedge a shim in. Then it occurred to me… A bit of hot glue squirted into the crevices and gap would firm it right up and if it comes out later I can just reapply. There were 6 tiny areas I could apply the hot glue and I hit them all being very clean about it and not getting glue everywhere. This did the trick! Now when I position the mic it stays at the angle I set and doesn’t droop a couple of more degrees.

 

Better Songwriting in 3 Steps

writing songsThe original article was written by Scott Hawksworth at Recording Excellence and Im adding it here because it really helped JoJo and I out. Writing is sometimes hard but since I got evernote for my Android phone, tablet and PC, those snatches of lyrics that seem to always evaporate later are now being captured and utilized. JoJo finds song writing tougher but he is only 14, not to say 14 year olds cant write good songs its just that JoJo his a little closer the vest with is feelings than I am. Mr Hawksworth makes some great points here about song writing that anyone at any level should be able to apply and use in their songwriting.

How to Write Better Lyrics in 3 Easy Steps

When it comes to songwriting, lyrics hold a tremendous amount of impact (unless you only write instrumentals… in which case, lucky you, you don’t have to worry about lyrics)

When mixing songs (across many genres), much of the focus is on getting vocals to sound great and have excellent placement in the mix. We emphasize the vocals and want them to be heard and understood. Considering that, if the lyrics are awful, it certainly can take away from an otherwise excellent song.

Lyrics are also another great avenue for expression. Music can make us feel so many things, but adding impactful lyrics on top of great beats and instrumentation can turn a song into something truly special.

Unfortunately, unless you’re a naturally gifted poet like Bob Dylan, or a lyrical wizard like 2Pac, writing lyrics can be quite challenging. So today, I’m going to offer up 3 easy steps to help you write better lyrics. When you sit down to put pen to paper… keep these steps in mind!

Step 1: Show, Don’t Tell

This piece of advice has been thrown around so much it’s almost cliche… still, I think it’s thrown around often because it’s just so fundamentally important. It’s the first step to writing any great lyric in my mind.

  • Don’t write something like I’m feeling lonely and missing you
  • Do write something like I count the minutes til I’ll see you again

The action verb (“count”) is key, and will draw your listener in and help them connect with the song. In my second example, the listener can see what’s happening, as opposed to simply being told about it. Action gets listeners more engaged with your song.

Step 2: Include Details

Think of lyrics like painting a picture, or telling someone a story. Would you tell your friends a story and leave out important facts? Would you paint a picture of a forest and leave out all the trees? Including detail is tremendously helpful when writing lyrics, and you should focus on that whenever you can. Now, you don’t need to go overboard with the detail of course, but consider these two examples:

  • Don’t write something like she throws the flowers on the ground, and runs into the house
  • Do write something like she throws the roses in the mud, and runs into the dingy foreclosure

Which picture or story is clearer in your head? If you can add times, locations, landmarks, brand names (e.g., for you country singers out there…don’t just write about a truck, write about a Chevy or something!), and more to your lyrics your listeners will be able to connect much more easily.

Step 3: Utilize Imagery

So far I’ve been listing actions and details which can beef up any lyric and make it better…but those tips are nothing without the use of powerful imagery. If you’re writing about intangible things such as love, joy, sadness, and anger… the use of imagery can be tremendously helpful. Consider something like this:

  • I slammed the door then clenched my fists as I stomped out to the car.

Clenched fists, slamming doors, stomping… these are all words that provide tangible imagery to convey something intangible (anger). The best songwriters are able to convey complex emotions, stories, and the like by using imagery.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the ways you can write better lyrics, but to me these three steps are at the core of every great lyrical endeavor. When you sit down to write that next great song, consider these and ask yourself, “do my lyrics follow these steps?”

New Songs and Jamming with David Smash

Its been awhile (dang 4 months) and I do apologize but we’ve have been busy in the studio writing and getting a couple new songs down with an eye of releasing our first EP in September. tentatively titled “Were Not Jokin”. We are also working on a new logo that’s more “us”, pirate themed with a JSTRs twist so keep a look out for that. I’ve been going down to Aces Live Music here in Bradenton and doing their pro jam and last night I got to sit in with some of the best musicians I have had the distinct pleasure to play with David Smash, Allan Cook, Jack Berry and Sammy B. Warren IV. and special guest players: Zooey Seraphine Warren (violin), Jere Preisinger (Bass) and of course myself Kinetic Roberts on Djembe Marty Leise was there keeping things runnin smooth as this cat always does.. Davids band is an amazing group, they spent the night free styling rock, blues, jazz, even a Russian drinking song, pretty much what ever struck their fancy and did an amazing job. I got to sit in for 3 or 4 songs and they put me thru the workout. It was 4 am before I had calmed down from the music buzz I was feeling from jamming with such amazing players.

Photos from Aces on 4/5/2016 David Smash Band

 

 

Getting the Site up and running

Well its official JSTRs is a real deal we have 7 songs in the pipeline with 2 almost ready for release so now we are getting the site ready for our fans and venue owners articles music photos videos and a way to talk to us and hire us for your venue, wedding, party, or special event

The Right Gig for the Right Bar or Restaurant

This letter was posted on Tampa Craigslist by a bar owner, If more musicians clued into this perspective, the club scene would be much better:

A bar, that is, an establishment that earns its revenue primarily from selling alcoholic beverages, measures its success by the ounce and the accounting is done everyday because we mostly live on the edge. So we spend our time trying to figure out how to sell more ounces. It’s not just how many people are in the house or how great the atmosphere is (that’s certainly important), but how many drinks, preferably premium, we sell in a day. That’s it.

Live music is important to most of us (if we have that kind of venue). But it is a significant expense and is only worthwhile if it produces more than it consumes, just like advertising and anything else we spend money on in order to sell more ounces. But so many of the bands that come through here have no clue what their job is. Your job is to sell booze. You’re not here for any other reason.

There are some truly awful bands that actually chase customers away. But there are also some bands I would call mediocre who do a fantastic job of selling my product. There are also some really good bands who rock the house but not the cash drawer. While I appreciate good music and would never have an interest listening to that mediocre band’s lame CD, they’re coming back next week. Here’s why:

1. They play simple music people recognize. People don’t dance to brilliant guitar solos or heady changes, they dance to the hook lyrics of a simple chorus. (If you’ve ever wondered why pop is popular, that’s why). When the ladies want to dance, the guys show up and everybody drinks. Simple truth.

2. They don’t ask me for drinks, they ask my customers. This is a subtle art and if it’s done well, the band can more than pay for itself. Here’s a few obvious techniques: If someone offers to buy the band a round, you order shots of top-shelf. Even if you don’t drink it, ask for it anyway. If someone asks for a request, try to make a deal with them. If you buy (your date, your table, the band) a round, we’ll play your song. Some bands beg for tips, and that’s fine, but it’s not what I’m paying you for. (Try to play request anyway. At least you wont chase them off.) We had one front man hold up a mixed drink and make a wonderfully cheesy but impassioned pitch that you simply had to try this because it was, as he put it, “a glass of pure happiness”. It resulted in over a hundred bucks in the drawer in just a few minutes. Those guys are busy.

3. They may not be the best band in town but they look and act professional. I cringe when I see a supposedly professional band wearing frayed khaki shorts, flip flops, mildly offensive t-shirts and greasy baseball caps (the standard bro uniform). I don’t care if you’re bald, a baseball cap is unacceptable. Live music is a visual form of entertainment. If you dress well, even if it’s hipster, funky, weird or flamboyant, as long as you look like you care about your appearance, and show a little self respect, you’ll go over better with my customers. The good bands also respect their gig and the customers. They show up on time, they don’t make a racket while they setup (hint: keep your drummer quiet especially when the jukebox is on.), they choose their set list carefully, they pace their sets well and stay engaged with the audience (don’t stop playing if the dance floor is full), they don’t get hammered and and they don’t leave a mess. All this adds up to what we call retention. Customers don’t leave. You would be surprised how many customers leave because of the band. And it’s usually not because the band is awful, but because it’s too loud, it’s the wrong repertoire, it’s rude and dismissive, it’s not engaged and basically no fun for anyone else but themselves. And here’s a little tip: Your continued employment is directly dependent on my bartender’s opinion of you. That’s probably true for every single bar you play.

One last thing. It’s hard to find work. You might be surprised at how much competition you have. I get emails, voicemails, regular mail, fed-ex packages left for me, all with earnestly concocted press kits and demos and I ignore almost all of it. I get walk-ins who, if I’m there, I’ll give a few minutes to. Again, you’d be surprised how many show up in their bro-clothes, tell me how awesome they are, and hand me a business card with a URL to their reverb nation page or YouTube channel. They probably go home and wonder why they don’t get a call, but I’m not going to visit your website or listen to your demo. You’ve got maybe 60 seconds to make your “elevator pitch” and just a few more minutes to make it stick. There is a sales technique I’m seeing that’s impressive, stands out and really works, but out of respect for the bands that figured it out, call it a trade secret.

Bottom line: A bar is a business. My bar is my business, my life, my success or failure. What I do in my business is entirely up to me because the risk is entirely mine. If I have a jam night, an open mic, solos, duos, bands, karaoke, or just a jukebox, that’s up to me and no one else. Whatever helps make the most revenue. I have great respect for working musicians and would rather not hire them at all than to short-change them.

The open mic and jams that seem to get so much criticism here are not about me getting free entertainment, they are about bringing in paying customers and keeping them here. People who play and sing, but not in a professional band, like to get out, get a little stage time, have some fun, bring their friends and I offer them the place to do it. And yes, these nights are pretty good for the bottom line. If having bands was better, I’d have bands every night. It’s just reality, man.