Thursday, July 17, 2014

RFSC #30

So all throughout my blog blackout, Radio Free Song Club has been chugging along, putting out podcasts of wonderful songs by exceptional songwriters. #30 has just gone up today, for your edification and enjoyment. Be sure and pick around--pretty much every episode has had incredible songs to present.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


The struggle

We decided to bring bicycles to Lake Arrowhead last week, anticipating much family riding (like at our Chincoteague camping trips). We bought a brand-new fancy bike rack for the minivan which we felt would be a worthy investment as there are more bicycles to tote now.

How exciting!

The day we left on the trip, I extracted the new bike rack from its box and began the process of mounting it. In small letters in the instructions I discovered that, in order to mount children's and women's bikes on it, there was an (optional, unadvertised and, you guessed it, unpurchased) crossbar needed. So it went back in the box, and the old one went on.

I am convinced that the ultimate anathema to anyone preparing for a family vacation is fitting bikes on a car bike rack. After our week with the extended family, we had planned to leave Lake Arrowhead for home at 7:30 a.m. so as to arrive in time for pizza/movie night in the air conditioned comfort of our own home. Getting the bikes up on the old bike rack took the better part of 45 minutes (two bikes, one women's, one kids') so we ended up getting in too late for pizza or movie after the drive from Pennsylvania--granted, I also failed to pack my computer bag which I fortunately realized before we turned in the key for the gated lake development in which we were staying, and that added more time as well. I fought with the plastic locking straps, trying to get them around the bike frames; I struggled with keeping the carrier's straps taut inside the hatch door frames. It was a hard fight, Ma, but they stayed on for the whole trip with only a little attention.

And just how much did we bike, you may be asking? Apart from the 10-year-old going out on his for about 3 minutes, not one bit.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The new bass

I took the leap and got my first Fender Precision Bass a few weeks ago. (This, from the guy who's not really doing music anymore, right? Yeah. You can see how THAT is going.) A whole world opened to me by doing this. After a couple years of bumping along on a pretty-but-ultimately-not-completely-convincing Squier Modified Jaguar bass, I saw a blue P-bass hanging in my local Guitar Center at an unbeatable price. They gave me next to nothing for the Jag, but it really was of minor consequence; I knew I needed to upgrade, so I did.

First, I found that I could actually 'walk' on the P-bass with almost no effort. Having tried to do that with the Jag, I had never been able to feel comfortable without using a heavy pick or my thumb (ala Brian Wilson). The spacing between the strings on the P was so much more natural, and I was capable of effortlessly using my fingertips and coming out with a consistent and rhythmic sound. Can popping be far behind? Well, maybe not--the flatwounds are likely going on soon.

Also, the tone was a LOT more controllable. The Jag had some sort of active control that I never quite mastered, so much time was spent monkeying around to try to keep it from overdriving my amp. To hell with that. The P-bass is very simple. Pickup. Volume knob. Tone knob. Ideal for my small brain to wrap around.

OK, it is a little heavier, and I will have to do something about getting a case for it (I'm using a gig bag for the moment) since I plan on keeping this one.

But I feel as though I have finally obtained the correct tool for the job with a Precision Bass. It's not like I would ordinarily sit around and play bass unamplified while I'm hanging out, as electric bass doesn't seem like that kind of instrument in my mind. But I have done that with the P-bass, and it's delightful.

As many of you all have known about me, despite all the instruments I play, I have always been a frustrated bass player. Now I've been running bass in Baron Von Rumblebuss for a couple years, and I'm at last using the exact bass I have apparently always needed. Hooray!