Thursday, May 31, 2012


My "60 hours in Scotlandville, before returning
Their Songs would be played in Scotlandville, one day...
to New Orleans," has been semi-productive.''
I realized how tired I was Tuesday evening, when I needed to catch up on some sleep. I had been up until at least 2 a.m., each of the three nights in New Orleans, and had been distracted by Sue's presence the first night, and then woken up by her the third morning, pretty early "Aren't you going to get up early and do some things? Come on, rise and shine!" 
Wednesday (yesterday) was to be "studio" day, when I was determined to record all day, which I did; forgetting to eat, actually (having to build a fire first is a deterrent) 
My first project was a failure. I thought that I had the right drumbeat, but, as I started to do the song, the beat just wasn't right. I tried to modify my rhythm to fit the drums, but that made it a song that I never intended to write; or to scrap, which I eventually did. Lesson learned at a cost of only about 5 hours on Wednesday afternoon. 
Then, in the evening, I decided that I wanted to make a sidebar on this blog of my "20 best busking songs" and try to represent them there. 
So, I did one of them in the evening; woke up in the morning and scrapped the vocals and most of the "wah-wah" effected guitar -as that isn't representative of how I sound sitting on Bourbon Street- and redid the vocals after dropping the song one whole step in pitch.
Ocinero Gets Its Debut
I added the ocinera, an instrument that Alex in California sent me a long time ago, now, as a survival tool. 
If my guitar was ever stolen, I could (yes, actually) go out on Bourbon Street and play my guts out on the ocinera and, I wouldn't starve... Some people might think that my music is "case in point" that you can do just about anything and make money on that fabled street. 
But, here is my song, The Ballad of Richard Corey, which was a Simon and Garfunkel song originally, but I first heard it played by a local guy in Fitchburg, Massachusetts when I was an impressionable teenager, and I do the song more like that guy, whose name is Eric (and I can't spell his last name) than I do Simon and Garfunkel. 
When I eventually heard the S. and G. version, I had to smile at how much Eric had made it his own. 
Well, now it's both of ours, as I give you: 
The Ballad Of Richard Corey (click here)
  • Acoustic rhythm guitar (the part I would play on the street)
  • Second acoustic guitar, "doubling" the first (as this is a luxury of a muti-tracking studio
  • Ocinero (I don't play "my guts out" on it, because I have lost some of my confidence, lately)
  • Vocal
As close as I could get to what I probably sounded like, playing that same song for the guy who asked me if I knew any Simon and Garfunkel -just as well that he wasn't familiar with the song, as it is more Eric, the guy from Massachusetts* than any Simon or any Garfunkel...
I eschewed the bass guitar part (played on the acoustic and then dropped an octave, using the "pitch change" function on Audacity) because this song would require a really tasty bass part, like on a Steely Dan recording, that would take me another week to compose.
I also skipped the 5-gallon-bucket-hit-with-a-stick, though, just barely.
It was sounding really good; the bucket; but recording it was a problem...the level meters don't respnd fast enough to tell you that your bucket is too loud and is clipping the input. By the time the meter is ready to give you a bunch of red warning lights, the bucket hit has passed, and the meter has missed it.
Maybe it's a blessing (for listeners) in disguise that I wasn't able to capture the bucket at 3 in the morning by the boarded up building; but I was gettin' on it!

The Guy Who Blew Off John Lennon
*Eric Ellijoquist (sp?) is someone who was a local singer/songwriting "great" in Fitchburg, Mass. when I was just taking up the guitar as a teenager.
His voice is a cross between Van Morrison and Paul McCartney.
He was in New York in the mid 70's and John Lennon walked into the club where he was playing.
After listening a while, John invited Eric to his studio, where he was recording "Rock And Roll Music" (or a similar title).
Eric decided NOT to go to the studio....becoming "the guy who blew off John Lennon."
Eric was paranoid and thought (and probably still thinks that) the C.I.A killed Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and...lo and behold, about 6 years later...John Lennon, because of the "messages" in their music.
He didn't want to become involved with John because he had an intuition that the guy was going to be assassinated because of his politics.
That's the guy whose version of The Ballad of Richard Corey I am doing above. It's a song that won't draw any heat from the feds, I'm assuming, since it is Eric-approved.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Blues Jam On "The Grill Is Gone"
My first night back in Scotlandville, I was going to to a polished version of the B.B. King "Weird Al Yankovich" piece, but wound up just jamming on it in the fashion of musicians who have never met each other and settle upon "blues in B minor" as the congregation point.
When Elvis jammed with the Beatles, they just did a blues jam in E, not the greatest song ever (I mean Elvis AND the Beatles, what star power!)
So, here is last nights blues jam.
Today's song, I'm not posting because I picked the wrong drum beat, yet still went ahead with the project; with mediocre results....

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Grant Gives Me Serenity

The First Song with the "latency" problem corrected:
  • One acoustic rhythm
  • One Acoustic lead
  • One Harmonica
  • One Vocal
  • One Acoustic guitar dropped one octave in pitch to similate a bass guitar
The second guitar solo was run through a wah-wah effect that was so saturated that you can't really hear the original notes; I wanted to replace it with the last guitar part and then cut out the last part of the song, reducing its duration; but, at this point my prowess with the software could have resulted in an awkward glitch sounding at that I kept it the same.
This raw "one-take" version, probably sounds like a lot of the stuff that I do on the street, after a few Sierra Nevada's...there is a spot where it kind of falls out, at one point, which is almost appropriate, too.

  • First 50 Dollar Bill
  • Latency Corrected Music
  • Wireless Working/ Upload Not 
Saturday, 4 p.m., Bourbon Street
I arrived at my spot earlier than I had ever, before, in my whole life.
It was still afternoon, and the shadow cast by the condo had just spread enough to cover the spot where I sat.
Two Shifts Of Buskers
There are "day shift" buskers, those who only play during day-lit hours, and there are enough of them out, on a given day, to lead one to think that it might be lucrative.
I found it to be just that, as people were, in broad daylight coming over to throw tips in my case. By the time the sun went down, I had over 20 bucks. I wound up with right around 35 for the day, which ended at around 11 p.m. after the Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA Ale's started to catch up with me, and I stumbled on a couple notes on the guitar. The 90 degree day was a factor, I'm sure.
I could have moved down from the condo and probably doubled my take for the day, but, after not having slept much, in my excitement over encountering Sue, the Cambodian lady (Formerly known as Sue, the Colombian lady), and having started earlier than ever before, I ran out of gas at 11 p.m.
I didn't even lay down next to Sue that night, as I was ready to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the backpack.
Grant's First Appearance
Sunday, I started early, once again.
I was getting a smattering of single bills thrown in my case.
At one point, a group of people arrived. 
One guy in kind of a Hawaiian/vacation-looking shirt stopped and listened to whatever I was playing. He then requested that I play some blues, but then back-pedalled and said "Just do what you do..."
I played "Me And My Uncle," the Bob Weir-sung Grateful Dead "cowboy" song.
Then, the man asked me to play some blues.
Havin' A Fifty-Plus Dollar night
I played the basic rhythm to "Pride And Joy," the Stevie Ray Vaughn shuffle in E, and the guy sang over it, improvising lyrics to the amusement of the group of people that he was with. One couple threw three bucks in my case, the other couple matched it, both thanking me.
Then, the guy in the Hawaiian shirt stood up, and thanked me, told me that he had "really enjoyed that" and handed me the first 50 dollar bill that I have ever gotten from my whole life...
I finished the day with about 80 bucks, having gotten a little bit "lax" after having my concerns about money and my guilt over paying 2 bucks for a beer, assuaged...
Now, It Works
The laptop, as mysteriously as it started to fail to connect to any wireless signal, has started to function again, as if the computer knew that Sue, the Cambodian lady had checked two books for me, out of the New Orleans Public Library, both of them about Ubuntu Linux, and one of them delving into some serious shell scripts, having to do with  running the wireless related hardware.
So, against that inner voice of "better judgement," a voice which has taken on a cocky tone lately, after being right about the decision to post past music, I am trying to post the first latency-rectified song, but am getting an object Object I/O error message.
The two mp3 files that I saved most recently, won't upload to the hosting site.
The only thing I did differently was recording them as the new user that I had created, after the program had locked up for the other users.
Maybe there are "permissions" on the files, or something.
In one hour, Howard and I will catch the bus back to Baton Rouge, where I had hoped to get in some serious studio time, before returning here next Friday to do another weekend.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

46 Bucks Friday, 35 Saturday...

I got off the Hotard bus at 7:45 in the evening.
First, to the sign spot.
There were "signs" of Sue, the Colombian lady, in the form of plastic bags hanging in the trees, containing tiny little shirts and slacks, in the colors favored by that person.
I had a nickel and a penny in my pocket.
I headed along Canal Street, which had become my habitual route, the last time I was here.
I got about 300 yards down that street when I saw the first cop, sitting in his car in front of a hotel. He didn't jump out of his car, draw his pistol and order me to lie face down on the ground or anything like that; he basically gave me little notice.
Then, I found more than half of an American Spirit cigarette, laying by the ashtray in front of the same hotel. I don't think I had seen more than two examples of that expensive brand in Baton Rouge.
By the time I got to The Unique Boutique, I had at least a dozen butts, ready to be broken open and re-rolled, so that filters that have been in some mysterious person's mouth could be avoided, making these "ducks" a healthy and inexpensive alternative to the smokes behind the counter at The Unique Boutique.
Credit Denied
I went into that store, where they call me "Acarlu" (which either means "guitarist" in Arabic, or is the name of a famous Arabic guitarist; like calling someone "Del Grecco") and approached Sam, the guy who acts like he owns the place, because he will walk down the line of people which may be a dozen deep, who are waiting for the register, and, seeing what they have in their hands, will qoute them a price -"Give me ten bucks"- and then pocket the money and send them on their way.
After answering the "Where have you been?" question all around, giving the staff an update on Acarlu, and ending with "Yeah, I just got off the bus a half hour ago; I've got six cents in my pocket!" I asked Sam if I could get one beer on credit, on my way to go out and play, and assured him that I would be back to pay for it later. He told me that "the owner" was there and that I would have to ask him.
"I thought you were the owner, Sam"
"No, I'm not," said Sam.
The "owner" must have been in the back room, or somewhere else out of sight.
The Sullen, Brooding, Shaven-Headed Black Guitarist
I headed down Royal Street, pausing briefly at the brooding, sullen black guy who plays a guitar, but who is prone to sit with the instrument in his lap, unable to bring himself to create music, due to some random emotional devastation brought upon him by a look, or a comment or insinuation made by someone. He seems to be a bit sensitive.
"I'm supposed to spread love and happiness through my music; but how can I do that, after what that guy just said to me; he has put me in a negative mood..."
The sullen, brooding, sensitive black guy was babysitting two chairs, in front of which sat one of the baskets that I recognized as belonging to Tanya and Dorise, the violin/guitar duo, whom I have posted about in this blog. A white van, just like the one that belongs to the young ladies was parked right behind the chairs.
"I'm holding this spot for Tanya and Dorise," said the sullen, brooding black man. "They are playing a gig, but will be back."
He stood to make more money holding that spot for them than he did busking; illustrating the class disparagement between female violinist and brooding, sullen black male guitarist on Royal Street.
"You're Back..."
I didn't dally long. I was soon at the corner where Rouses Market is and had heard the familiar strains of Doreen's clarinet two blocks before I had gotten there.
I stopped to listen.
Paul the guitarist mouthed the words "You're back!" to me in between tastefully comped jazz chords; we chatted a while, after the song ended, myself ending the conversation with "Well, I've got 6 cents in my pocket, I'd better get to work.
Approaching "my" spot on Bourbon Street, I saw swarms of people gliding to and fro past it.
I sat down, after setting up the red and white striped towel that I sit on -my stage- and putting the nickel and the penny in my case.
I started to play and instantly noticed that I was psyched up and had a lot of energy and was looking forward to the next few hours in a way that was absent from my sessions in Baton Rouge.
I felt the 6 cents working against me. I was playing "For No One," by The Beatles.
One man started to head towards my case, reaching into his back pocket, and actually gave pause after seeing the 6 cents in the case, it seemed. I switched to "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," by The Beatles.
Another guy sat on the stairs a few feet away, perhaps listening. Soon he was joined by two friends.
I put my nose to the grindstone and tried to play my best version of the song.
When I finished, they each threw a dollar on top of the six cents. I had "broken the ice," "gotten on the board," and several other figures of speech. Then, I saw Barnaby, the guy who lives in the condo across the street, and who said that he often sits in his living room with the window open and listens to me.
He greeted me warmly, we shook hands. I told him that no, I hadn't been in jail "...the next best thing, though, Baton Rouge"
We chatted for about a half hour, he offered to print me up business cards, he mixed me a tall gin and tonic and gave me a couple cigarettes, while I watched at least 50 people walk past the spot where my backpack and guitar sat on either side of my towel.
I told him about the Audacity program and my tribulations with it, and how I unwittingly posted my first ragged attempts at recording, when I was more worried about watching meters and waveforms than I was about performing, and how I had almost alienated some of my readers.
"Proove them wrong," said Barnaby.
I told him that, yes, my patience is being tried by the fact that my laptop has mysteriously lost its wireless capabilities, and become "disconnected," so that I can't post any new music to prove anything...readers might have to think that I suck for another week or so, until I can solve the problem.
There is a Ubuntu Linux book at this very library, which has a DVD installation disk included. It is, I think a slightly more recent version than the one that is on my laptop (11.4, or something).
The thought crossed my mind to totally reinstall Linux on the laptop, but I don't want to do anything rash...
Maybe, if the laptop is older than the version of Linux, I would be opening a can of worms and possibly overpower the machine by asking it to run software designed for faster processors, or perhaps 64-bit processing, which is something which is pretty much over my head...
I think patience is going to be a virtue, and I should try to troubleshoot what I have before upgrading...though, I'm pretty sure that the re-installation leaves untouched such things as users personal directories, so that I wouldn't lose any Audacity projects, or documents or other music...
More research is needed before diving into anything. Online help groups, Frequently Asked Questions boards and the guy at Radio Shack might be more prudent to use, before popping that DVD in and clicking on "upgrade," although a quick and easy elixer, if it should be such; is very tempting.
It was 10 p.m. when Barnaby said "Get over there and make some money, there are people out!"
Although 10 p.m. was the time that I had agreed to stop playing at, about 3 months ago; the last time I spoke to the guy whose bedroom window is right behind my head, I went across the street, sat down, and in between sips of the gin and tonic, made 38 more dollars, to go with the $3.06 in the case.
Purple Boas, Purple Rain
A group of young ladies, who were all wearing purple boas around their necks came by and stopped. They were playing some kind of "scavenger hunt" game, where they had to walk around the quarter obtaining things, one of which was a picture of one of them as a street performer.
They told me that they would give me 10 bucks if they could get a picture of one of the girls sitting in my spot, pretending to be busking. They gave me 11 bucks.
Then, a guy came and listened and asked me if I knew any Simon and Garfunkle songs, whereupon, I played Mrs. Robinson, ending by telling him "That's one of theirs that doesn't have a lot of two part harmony." He agreed.
Then, I played him "The Ballad of Richard Corey," one of theirs that he didn't recognize, but after which he said "good job" and threw me a few bucks.
Then, a couple of young guys came by and asked me if I knew Purple Rain, by Prince. I played "When Doves Cry," by Prince, after saying "How 'bout this one?".
Then, one of them held his phone to my ear so that I could hear Bruce Springsteen doing an unplugged version of "Born To Run." He said that his friend was a big fan of The Boss, and as I figured out the chords and began to strum along with Bruce, through the miracle of modern cell phone technology, a 20 dollar bill went into my case. That brought the evening to the 11 p.m. mark. 41 dollars and 6 cents were all mine.
I knocked off at that time, being one hour over the agreed upon quitting time, and lamenting that there was still a swarm of people that seemed to be just getting started at that point.
I walked down to Sydneys (open 'til midnight on Fridays and Saturdays) and got the first Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA that I had had in two months.
I then walked with it, towards Frenchman Street and a certain Rasta Farian guy who carries the best medicinal herbs in the city. The 20 dollar bill and I parted ways after I saw him sitting in the same spot, as if he hadn't moved in two months.
"I've been in New York, I just got back," he said; which explained why he didn't know that I had been away for a couple months.
I sat on Decatur Street, trying to recoup some of the 20 bucks, but gave up after a half hour without financial gain. I thought I was playing well, but that could have been the medicinal herbs talking.
I started to walk back to the sleeping spot, which took me across Bourbon Street, where I decided to give it another shot; further down the road from the condo, and under a similar lamp post.
A group of three young black kids came by. Two girls and a guy.
One girl was shooting a video on her phone and kind of interviewing me. I played along and dropped a few anecdotes in between little snippets of music to go along with the anecdotes, and, eventually wound up freestyling chords while they all gathered around the phone and sang into it. The two girls harmonized while the guy rapped, and they actually sounded very good. We did probably about 7 or 8 minutes of music that way, after which I asked them (probably in vain) to put it on U-Tube, so that I could check it out.
They seemed very pleased with the outcome, the girl saying that the guitar was "tight."
"That was interesting, I'll bet there aren't many people who rap over late 60's psychedelic folk music," I said.
"That's what that was?!?" asked one of the girls.
"Yeah, that's my specialty, I've been studying that kind of music since I was a teenager. You've got one of the best guitarists in the world backing you up on that song," I added. -the things that you can get away with saying when you have the trappings of Bourbon Street surrounding you, to back up your claim-
They threw me 5 bucks, and that brought the evening to a close.
The 46 bucks that I made (in about an hour and a half) made me feel that I had done better than I had been doing in Baton Rouge, where I made 35 bucks (in about three hours) one Friday, followed by 14 bucks the next day...
In New Orleans fashion, I spent 31 of the 46 bucks, but that had a lot to do with catching up on things that I had totally run out of, and 10% of it went towards a gift of french fries for...
Sue, The Cambodian? Lady
Arriving back at the sleeping spot, after having taken the circuitous, but safest route, I espied none other than Sue, the Colombian lady, laying by the statue of Simon Bolivar, having been flushed out of the bushes by the presence of Howard, who had already layed down on his cardboard by the time she had arrived.
She waved and I went over and joined her.
Soon, we were cuddling and she was telling me that she had thought that I was far away, "by now."
I ran to Brothers Market and back with some of the seasoned french fries that Sue likes, after she said that she was hungry.
At one point, she asked me why I referred to her as a Colombian lady, then claimed to be a Cambodian lady, in actuality. I think that she fabricates, at times.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Speed Blogging

Howard is sitting by the bus stop, waiting
I'm in a hurry, and so mud volleyball is the best image I can come up with in a pinch...
for me to come out of this library and then we will take the bus to the terminal to wait for the Hotard "LA SWIFT" bus to New Orleans (for 5 bucks).
I guess the name stands for the fact that the bus runs in Louisiana (LA), but they had probably better change the "swift" part, given the recent fatal bus accidents caused by drivers who were a little to swift...
Um, I still am unable to connect to wireless and post my better music, but problems have solutions, and it might just be one of the mysterious toggle switches on the body of the laptop that has been shut "off" by contact with a shifting of a jar of instant coffee as I maneuver my head around my backpack pillow...
We are going to New Orleans, to pick up cigarette butts off of the sidewalk, and will probably return after the weekend is over...unless, in the typical fashion of that city, there will be some magnanimous event coming (in a couple days..."Oh, you've gotta stay through the Lesbian Rally, I made 500 bucks last year...") type of thing.
That city conspires to keep you there like those machines that you drop quarters into and your quarters get pushed into other quarters by a sliding piston-like device, and the whole pile moves and pushes a few quarters over the edge to you, sometimes more than you put in, and so you put them back in (because they were free) and in the meantime, the 100 dollar bill, wrapped around a Snickers bar, inches closer to the precipace, and you drop more quarters in, because you are playing with "house money," but, after you have killed an evening, you leave...down the one quarter that you started with, if you're lucky -you walk away from the machine, which seems to be smiling and saying "Y'all come back real soon, ya hear?"
That is New Orleans. A hundred dollar bill wrapped around a Snickers bar.
That's about it.
Howard is thinking that I might make enough money there, so that we can take a bus to "the next place" "to get out of here" and eventually get to Austin, or San Antonio...
I'm just trying to think of where I can plug in my laptop and make excellent recordings...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wireless Not Enabled

So, now that I have a song recorded that actually sounds good,
my laptop will not connect to the wireless network.
The "Enable Wireless" bar on the menu is grayed out.
So, I can't post up the latest music...but I can create more in hopes that the problem will be solved.
So, you're back in my world, guitar man...good...
And I can go back and delete the stuff that I put up before I figured the latency problem out.
It's always something, it seems. Like a cosmic joke. I work around the clock on a piece of music, then my computer won't connect to the wireless network, when, just a while ago I was connecting from behind the boarded up building, using a signal that was coming from the LSU stadium, I think...
I worked around the problem with Audacity by creating a new user account and then copying all the Audacity files for that song into the new users folder. Then I could get at them, as the other guy.
Still, the computer is running more slowly now, and now I can't connect to wireless.
This is the reason that I want to go back to college to get a degree in Information Technology -just so I can understand my laptop....
New Orleans
Howard is going to meet me tomorrow morning at the boarded up building, and then we are going to take the bus to New Orleans, supposedly for a day; or two.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

  • Howard's Proposal
  • I don't miss much about New Orleans, except...
  • Excellent Recording Finally, But...
I solved the problem of "latency" on the laptop, but...
After working on a piece of music all last night, until the sun was coming up, grabbing maybe 4 hours of sleep and then going back to work on the piece of music, I was very pleased with it.
Pushing each new track back in time around 40 milliseconds, placed them right back in time with the previous tracks (the cymbals didn't even sound out of phase, which is the true test of syncronicity).
Then, at about 3 p.m., when I was adding a third guitar (while recording the second one, the recording stopped somewhere in the middle of the song -that event wasn't necessary to make me save my work, I was saving it regualarly; having learned from experience that the Audacity program can just freeze any second) the Audacity program froze.
The Gist Of The Problem
Clicking on anything was fruitless. I finally had to hit "Ctl-Alt-Del" (a throwback to Windows) to log out.
Now, when I try to open Audacity, a box pops up telling me that "the system has detected that Audacity is already running; running two copies could corrupt your files or cause your system to crash" -the only way out of that dialogue is to hit "OK."
And, when I log on as "user" I can't use Audacity, because it is "already running," and when I log in as Daniel, I can't use it, because it has been already running for him for almost a week now.
I tried to create a whole new user account, hoping that the new user would be able to use Audacity, planning to copy the project files from "user"s folder, to "the new user"s folder, I even did it as "root" which is the super admistrator, but, the file never appeared in the new users home directory...
I have downloaded a UNIX reference manual, and will probably be qualified for a job as an administrator by the time I solve my Audacity problems!
Now, I am on one of the library computers, because wireless is mysteriously disabled -can't even get the menu which includes the "enable wireless" button, but I'm not letting it all get me down.
I'd rather have a laptop that's frustrating me than not have one at all.
I made an excellent recording (finally) one that sounds as good as stuff I used to do back in the 90's when I had a Tascam 4-track Portastudio with DBX.
Playing back what I had done made me eager to come over here and post it on this blog as an example of finally getting the procedure right, then it crashed.
Luckily, it crashed after I already had saved:
  • Rhythym guitar
  • Lead guitar
  • Harmonica (vastly improved harmonica)
  • Vocal
  • Second vocal to pick up where the first one stopped recording mysteriously in the middle of the song (which was the first sign that the program might crash)
And, I was in the process of adding a bass guitar part, when the thing froze.
I tried opening a "terminal" and running the UNIX "ps" command, which is supposed to tell me all of the processes that are running; so that I could then run a UNIX "kill" command to stop the one (Audacity) that was running amok; but the "ps" command didn't list any running processes other than itself and the shell that invoked it...

I mention the above because there might be one of my readers that might have a suggestion, some of the more technically savvy ones....I would have to look at it....
I am off to find a "help group" or forum online, where I might detail the problem, and maybe get help...that's what I was going to suggest...
It's frustrating to have put about 10 hours into the project, only to have it freeze up. And discouraging to embark on another one.
There will be opportunity to travel, soon...
The song sounds great, though, and I'm pretty sure it has been saved for whenever I get Audacity up again;  I am totally going to delete all the previous debacles from "the latency era," when I was fighting a losing battle against time itself.
Howard: How 'Bout We Go To New Orleans?
Howard suggested that we go to New Orleans this weekend, even offered to finance the trip.
He reasoned correctly that I wasn't making any "extra" money here -enough just to cover the minimal expenses; but no extra. He seems concerned about my well-being. It will be a calculated risk, going there and having a warrant hanging over me, but, I really only encountered the police every 5 weeks or so, on, Sue, the Colombian Lady is probably still there, and she is one of the things that I miss the most about the place; that, and the potential to make 80 to 100 bucks on a Friday or Saturday night...
One of my tuning machines is starting to mess up on the guitar. I have to wind the string in the opposite direction, so that it gets traction. I have had the same problem before, and have already replaced two of the six of them. I find that, once you have to use the machine in the opposite of its intended direction, it is on its "last legs"..
The zipper on my guitar case is broken; I am using a bungee cord and nylon string to fasten it. These are all the "hidden" expenses that put a 50 dollar night into perspective.
We are just too close to the feeding frenzy which is New Orleans (a 90 minute bus ride each way, at $5 a trip) to not dip into it, at least once a week. We could always scoot back here- the bus runs about 5 times a day....I think Howard might wind up staying there...
Well, I am on the prowl for help with Audacity...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Latency? Let's Wait And See...

I read through all kinds of Audacity
Tutorials and "help forums" and the like, and I made a discovery which should solve my recent problems with the studio.
Latency Test
After reading about "latency," I recorded a click track on Track 1.
Then, I made a recording on Track 2 of the very same click track, by running my headphones, to the microphone.
I then played back the two tracks in parallel, and discovered that the clicks were 45 milliseconds apart, due to latency (the difference in time between a sound hitting the microphone and the computer actually recording it).
The two out of sync click tracks sounded eerily familiar in their disjointedness.
For the past month, every note that I played exactly on the beat was being delayed by 45 milliseconds before being placed in the recording.
I was jamming away, keeping time with the drums or click track, "feeling the groove," thinking "this is a really cool rhythm, I can't wait to add lead to it."
But Then, when I played back the first two tracks, the guitar had fallen behind by 45 milliseconds; not enough time to run to the store for a beer and back; but enough of a delay to make the guitarist sound like he has no rhythm, and make him want to run to the store for a beer, to help drown his anguish over how something could sound so good during recording, and then have the life squeezed out of it upon playback. 
When I DID go right to step 3, to add lead guitar, or bass or vocals, I couldn't feel the relationship between the drums and guitar because they were out of step, and it wasn't very inspiring of playing a good part.
The Audacity program has a setting for latency, which comes "from the factory" already set to correct a 130 millisecond delay. This may be tailored around desktop computers. 
I will either have to set mine to correct for 175 milliseconds, or just shift every new track that I make back in time, 45 milliseconds, manually. I've already tested the second method and it worked...
This comes just in time, as I have run out of money, my lighter died last night, the zipper on my guitar case has broken, and I will have to get out on the street and busk. At least I won't have to devote so many hours a day, trying to figure out the studio...

Monday, May 21, 2012

First, A Correction

Help On The Way?
Yesterdays Post Title,
Quoted my mother as referring to this blog as being "repetitive."
She actually used no such poor grammar, she was the Valor Victorian of her high school class, and holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration (or something like that) and knows full well that "repetitive" would imply that I had so many blogs, including this one, that are so similar in nature that this blog just reiterates all the others.
She used the word "repetitious," indicating that certain themes "repeatedly" arise in my day to day posts.
Toning My Audacity
Secondly, my focus is now on digging into the Audacity Software Manual, in pursuit of that elusive good sounding recording that I have been trying to make for the past almost month.
I don't know how many readers echo the sentiments of Alex in California, who had been very supportive in the past and who probably feels that he has wasted his time on someone who not only is a terrible musician, but a terrible musician so stupid that he endeavors to make a living playing terrible music.
It is on Facebook that I will eventually "unveil" my stuff, once I deem it worthy. 
Many readers of this blog are people who have encountered me on playing on the street, from Saint Augustine, Florida, through Mobile, Alabama and into New Orleans, who had asked me for tis blog address, interested in "following" me, usually after complimenting me on my music, curious about where it might "take me," and wishing me luck.
Apology In Order
I've let down a lot of people...
I fear that I have done a disservice to all, by posting up my initial crappy recordings and it hasn't been fair to people who would probably otherwise want to tell their friends "this is the guy we saw playing on Bourbon Street; this is the song we were telling you about" but are too embarrassed to do so now.
I was so excited about being able to actually publish music that I never bothered to make sure it was sounding right. I guess I kind of wanted to start with crappy recordings, like the Grateful Dead one's from 1966, and then grow and develope them, along with my studio skills into the masterpieces of that same band from the late 70's through about November 4th, 1985...
Alex said something to the effect of not wanting to suggest one of his favorite songs for me to work on, out of fear of having it massacred by me in my studio (see yesterdays comments), after saying "You're awful."
I am taking that as a personal challenge, and I hope he made his comments as a means of giving me a "reality check" and is just trying to help me.
I hope he doesn't want his hat back!
Give Me One More Chance
"Those Are Your Best Songs, I Think" -Larry (right)
I will make a good recording, if it takes me all night and will post it in a day or so. It won't be an original which I am writing as I go, but will be one of my "best songs," (as judged by Larry, the other street musician that I met in Jacksonville, Florida about 5 years ago, now. "Those are your best songs, I think," said Larry, referring on one of the songs that I am going to record tonight.)


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mom: Blog Repetitive

Bates and Thigpen, my second favorite spot. 333 Third Street,
unfortunately was roped off for construction
forcing pedestrians to the other side
I will have to agree with my mom,  who in her first e-mail to me in like three months said that she reads this blog, but finds it repetitive.
Last night was the worst busking experience that I have had in at least two years.
I kind of was expecting it. Sometimes in life, when you least expect it, things go awry.
I have developed a pretty good sense for realising when I am "least expecting" things, and as I walked towards downtown Baton Rouge, I thought to myself "This could really suck."
For the most part, when I go in with very low expectations, things exceed even high expectations, maybe because if I'm not expecting to make much, I am doing it just for the love of music and more prone to do stuff that isn't typical, which will bear fruit, more often than not.
I also considered: "I might have a killer night," asking myself what it feels like to be on the precipice of having a killer night. Usually, it is when I force myself to go out, maybe after having knocked off because things were slow, that I wind up making really good money and then wind up thinking "...and I was ready to quit; good thing I didn't..."
A Day To Eat
I woke up that morning (Saturday, the worst busking night in two years) and went to get an all day bus pass.
Wal-Mart and some frozen tilapia, olive oil, tomato sauce, bananas, corn on the cob, potatoes and a quart of beer later, I was on the bus for Scotlandsville.
I grilled behind the building and stuffed my face.
Insulating the rest of the fish and hiding it along with everything else, I got on the bus for downtown.
Well Fed And Ready To "Suck"
I was running behind schedule; I wanted to grab the AT-T spot before the horn players did.
I had about given up on that, as it was past 9 p.m. when I was within sight of downtown, walking along Florida Street. I got another quart of beer (is this the part of this blog which is repetitious??) and sat and took my time drinking it, content to be heading to my second favorite spot.
Once there, I saw that there was a huge area cordoned off at the building next to it, which was under construction. In effect 80% of the pedestrian traffic crossed to the other side of the street, to avoid it. Only four of them walked across to throw me dollars.
My dilemma was: should I stay in the acoustically superior spot where hardly anyone is walking by but where those that do were more likely to stop and listen, or should I go to the other side, just to be in the flow of traffic, but where I would be half drowned out by a club nearby.
I kind of did neither. I crossed the street, but never took my guitar out because of the volume level.
Then, after sitting there a while while the malt liquor combined with the heavy meal to make me lethargic, I went back and shortly got pissed off because I did "Comfortably Numb" and nailed the vocals and everything, and it resonated in the space where I was playing; but nobody threw me anything.
I have come to expect at least a buck to go into my case the times that I really nail every note in a song; I guess I'm conditioned that way. When you are "on" it usually produces fruit...
But, there are those people, especially college kids who are pissed off because their parents are sending them less and less money each month because of the economy, and want to vent their frustrations over the fact that the "college experience" that they had been raised to think was going to be all theirs ("the best four years of your life" - a regular "Animal House" re enactment) is turning out to be much more subdued.
They may have begun to wish that they had taken up a musical instrument so that they could at least sit on the sidewalk and make 14 dollars on 3rd Street, if nothing else...
Yelling "You Suck!" at a street musician, might afford them this opportunity to vent these frustrations, and the better the musician actually sounds, the more traction their insult might get -kind of like when a pretty girl tosses her head the other way dismissively and my reaction is to say, "You're ugly!"
Of course, blog readers who have been listening to my creations using the Audacity audio editing program, might be thinking "If those recordings are any indication, you DO suck, and I wouldn't even waste a dollar on you, myself..."
Well, one reason that I am posting them is that, when I get it right, I don't want people to suspect that it isn't me. People will know what I sound like, basically, at least my voice.
That being said, I either lost a few readers after not posting for about 5 days in a row last week, or for posting "not ready for prime time" recordings that I am making as I trudge through the Audacity Users Manual...
To Alex in California, in particular; I had come to enjoy reading your previously almost daily comments, which seemed to have stopped. I can really understand how someone into guns and motorcycles might be repulsed by the music that I have been posting, trying to be kind of "artsy."
The idea that I have is: Request a song that is one of your favorites "of all time" and I will use IT to work out my issues of syncing tracks and dropping pitches without changing speed and equalizing an acoustic guitar dropped an octave to sound like a bass, so that it actually sounds like a bass...etc.
If you're still a reader, that is. Leave a song suggestion in a comment, and it doesn't have to be one that, after listening to my stuff so far, you think would be "up my alley" or my style.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ooops, Where Are The Vocals?

Yesterdays Song Fixed

I slept in until about 10 a.m. after having been up until 2:30 on 3rd street making $13.70.
That was kind of like what I would have made last Friday night, had there not been one man who gave me 25 bucks by himself.
Like hermit crabs, the group of horns and guitar>
moved into my favorite spot, forcing me to move
to my second favorite spot...
There were three "acts" performing on Third Street:
The guitarist who stands up was standing at his spot, and seemed to have about the same amount of money as I did at the point that I saw him, maybe a little more. There was a 5 dollar bill in his case, making it look like a little more.
I was kind of chagrined that I hadn't gotten any fives by the end of the night, but then discovered a clump of five ones, folded together; that counts as a five dollar bill (just minus Abe Lincoln) so the guy that stands up had nothing on me.
He tends to use a singing voice which is designed for loudness alone, and comes out as a croak rather than a smooth note a lot of the times. But, that is his market; people who like the "alternative rock" that he does, and don't expect him to sound as good as the mega-star artists who recorded it.
Then, there was the group of horns, guitar and upright bass, who moved into my AT-T alcove spot the first break I took to run to the store for a beer, like hermit crabs.
This morning, a train hopping guy who I was talking to motioned to my guitar and told me that I ought to play "on Florida Street," like a group of horn players whom he had seen last night -said that they made "500 dollars" (and he believed them because they were right across the street from the Hilton Hotel, "so, they could have..."). 
Maybe they did; that's a lot of five dollar bills, though, from the same kids who walked past the rest of us and only threw a buck here and there...makes me wonder if I am playing the wrong instrument; LOL!
I had gotten there early enough to get the spot first, but then lost it by running to the store. Lesson learned; maybe buy my stuff at the store first and ice it down and have it in my pack with me so I don't have to run to the store, waisting time, and losing spots. Of course, I started out with only 20 cents yesterday, having squandered a lot of playing time, working in the studio on gems like...
Jungle Sailing Fixed
I was embarrassed to realize that, through yet another quirk, the vocals were entirely missing from yesterday's posted song, Jungle Sailing, making it a boring 6 minutes of rhythm guitar and drums with very little to do with crossing the Mississippi River.
My first order of business today was to remedy that.
I had to use the "Mix And Render" option from the "Tracks" menu, in order to get all the tracks into stereo, which I have changed the link to. I never seemed to have had to have done that before, yet, yesterday's song, for some reason only exported the first two tracks, leaving the vocals out.
It may be due to the fact that I recorded as a different "user" that time. When I am user "Daniel," the studio interface comes up with a black background, whereas when I am user "user" it comes up with a white background. Every user has his own preferences and environments, which are configurable by anyone who can find the time to read textbooks on the subject. Maybe the preferences are set so that user Daniel has to "mix and render" before he can export all tracks...only Audacity Help might know for sure...
Saturday (today)
Today is "usually" the day that I get an all-day bus pass, and go to the Cortana Mall, where there is the Wal-Mart, with it's cheap food to go on the grill, and the Guitar Center, where I have had to buy picks and strings on consecutive weeks.
Then, I "usually" go to Scotlandville, and grill behind the building, wash up and change clothes, before taking the #10 back downtown by sundown to start busking.
The Howard Matter
I might shuffle that routine in some way, lest I become as predictable as Howard who, by the way, has not been seen after having left Scotlandville in a huff over having been disturbed at his habitual sleeping spot
This is, I realize a golden opportunity to part ways with the guy in a way which would make it appear that he was the one who initiated our parting of ways.
I am seriously considering not going to LSU today or tomorrow, just so I won't run into him. If he doesn't come downtown to find me tonight, then the matter will have been settled and then...
California, Here I come! 
But, first, Texas.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Howard Run Off

Howard left this morning, bedroll in tow...
Last night, after I thought about busking at the store, but then changed my mind after sensing that the dynamic was similar to the previous Thursday night (the "I hate these people" night) then thought about busking in front of the other store (300 feet down the road and owned and run by the same people) and went down there, but sat there, listening to the noise of car stereos and the store next door to them, which was pumping out its own music, and thought that I wasn't even going to take my guitar out.
Then a black man (they're all black here, except myself and the owners of the two stores) walked up and said "You're not playing that thing tonight?" and handed me a dollar. The second dollar that I had gotten that day; the first, I borrowed off of Howard, in order to get one beer "to get me going."
I took the dollar and walked back to the original store, where the guy was set up selling DVD movies and CDs, but wasn't cranking free samples of his product out the back of his PT Cruiser, and sat and played.
I was really getting the feeling that it was going to be similar to the previous week, but did the only thing that I have found success with in the past; keeping myself in a good mood, and persisting in playing.
At one point, one of the guys from the store came out and stood listening to me. He smiled and nodded his head.
I had gotten about 3 dollars, all of them from black ladies. The first one had to ask me where to put tips, because I hadn't even opened my case, so pessimistic was I.
I spent the second dollar on a second beer, and had three in the case.
I Find A Folded Up Ten
I didn't have my glasses on and so, I thought there was a folded up discarded scratch ticket or a receipt of some kind sitting 4 feet in front of me, up against one of the support poles. Something about it drew my attention, maybe the color of it.
I took a couple steps forward and realized that it was a 10 dollar bill, folded up in a manner that some people use on a windy day when they don't want the money to blow out of the buskers case.
I knew that it couldn't have been there very long, not with all the foot traffic in that parking lot, coupled with the fact that you cannot usually even find a half smoked cigarette laying in that parking lot; as soon as someone throws it down before going in the store, someone else swoops in like a seagull and snatched it up.
I think the 10 bucks was left intentionally by the guy who works in the store; maybe for some reason he wanted me to see it and pick it up but maybe didn't want me to know it was from him; maybe it's a Muslim thing having to do with giving anonymously...
I grabbed a pack of smokes, and headed towards the boarded up building/studio where I went to work with gusto on a piece of music that I will call "Jungle Sailing."
I had come to Scotlandville more than a week ago with the explicit intent to record music at the boarded up building, all day and all night, perhaps.
Howard kind of followed me there. After running into him at LSU and informing him that I was strongly considering hitching a ride out of town in the next few days, he arrived Monday morning on the #10 Scotlandsville bus and kind of took up his place beside me.
Well, last night, I was inspired to record a fresh piece of music, using a drumbeat that I had downloaded called Jungle (something) and juxtaposing a rhythm which is probably nothing like the producer of the jungle beat was envisioning when he recorded the jungle beat.
At some point, Howard disappeared from his spot 3 feet away from where I was wailing on the guitar and singing, (mostly mumbling the melody until words came to me) -took his blankets and went to sleep behind the building. I was so focused upon the song that I never noticed him leave. I may have missed a classic facial expression of annoyance.
That is the spot where we originally slept here, it being darker and more quiet, and myself having the barbecue pit back there, so he shouldn't have had a problem sleeping there. But, this morning, he grabbed his blankets and disappeared again, maybe to LSU, maybe to Timbuktu, I don't know.
He should have figured out that I am obsessed with learning the studio and will basically stay up all night on it, since that is when it is most quiet.
So, at this point, the guy has left; acting as if I had been inconsiderate to break out my guitar and play it rather hard at 2:30 a.m. until the sun came up.
The Recording That Drove Ol' Howard Off
So, this is the song which drove Howard away. I give you:
Jungle Sailing
I plan upon listening closely to the lyrics to figure out what I was singing about. I know it was about crossing the Mississippi River...
I have to grade this one a B+ because I managed to not bite off more than I could chew, by keeping it simple; one guitar, the jungle beat and myself free styling lyrics (then cutting and pasting them in different spots, using my newfound studio skills -which I wouldn't have cultivated if I had caved in to the pressure of having Howard trying to sleep 4 feet away from me and nixed the project- He's supposed to be hard of hearing...)