Saturday, February 27, 2010

picture pages - three

this is a preliminary drawing to a painting i'm working on. the boat is just one element to the painting and i'm practicing on those various elements before i start painting.

about this drawing: simply a quick practice sketch with pencil that i thought would look good inked. i just used a basic medium point roller ball pen and i'm fairly pleased with the outcome.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

recording diary - one

this recording diary thing is surely only of interest to a few people that like to be bored reading the ins and outs of the creative process. i don't expect many to read all of this so i'll get right to the details:

threatening clouds by traveling light

4min24sec; 192kbps mp3; 6.1mb

recorded 02 november 2002

mixed 23 february 2010

as i detailed in a earlier post, i've had a long history of home recordings. as i've renewed my interest and execution of laying down my musical thoughts i found some older recordings that i made when i switched from the four-track to DAW recordings (digital audio workstation, that's the fancy term for recording on the computer). the recordings i found are from 2002 and 2003 and the first one i looked at is presented to you here today. let's discuss...

this is an original composition recorded on a saturday in november of 2002. i called the song "built to rip-off" presumably because i felt influenced by a wonderful band called built to spill but listening to the tracks don't at all give me a bts vibe so the song no longer goes by that name. i decided to called it "threatening clouds" as a tip of the hat to my friends from the past. back in the early 90's we had a newsletter that we published on a VERY small scale called notes from the deep end... in it were short stories and poetry and drawings and music reviews...everything that captivated our young creative minds. before we settled on deep end... as the newsletter's title we hit around some other names. one that we really liked even after we decided on deep end... was threatening clouds. we decided to use the name as a title for our writing collective, it was just too good of a name to throw out. someday i will dig up those old newsletters and post them here. it's not that they were at all good, it's just another marker in my history...proof that i was here and identifying with my Creator by being creative.

so when i loaded the session into my recording software of choice (cool edit pro 2) i listened to the mix i had been working on in 2002. i thought, "okay, nothing special here" and then noticed that i had recorded twelve tracks of music for this one song. i started playing with the mix and found a depth that i had surely intended but, for whatever reason, had not achieved. the tracks and remix are as follows:

two tracks dedicated to percussion...the first a simple beat on a djembe drum, the second a shaker and snap beat meant to accent the djembe. overall, i'm pleased but there are some pretty rough spots were i just lose the beat completely. i guess my 28 year-old self didn't feel the need to match the tracks better since i seem to get it back together after the times i lose it. as my friends in nh used to say, "close enough for rock and roll." i guess that's why i've always been amazed when i have played with eric and antonie and marcus and the other fine drummers i've had the privilege to play with...they can actually keep a beat. i can't. as i remixed the tracks i tweaked the eq so they sounded a little more full and added a slight reverb, sending each of the two tracks slightly to the right and left to further add depth to the recording.

two tracks of acoustic rhythm guitar...i recorded the tracks as such: one track is the line input of my acoustic the other is from a microphone. i recorded both tracks at the same time, sending one input to the left side and the other to the right. in my remix i increased the volume and presence of the tracks, adding some eq to brighten the corners and make the acoustic rhythm more pronounced.

one track of bass guitar...i simply added some eq and increased the volume from the original mix.

two tracks of electric rhythm guitar...i recorded each track individually and sent one to the hard right side while the other is slightly on the left. i did this to give the recording more fullness and depth. when remixing, i actually lowered the volume on these so as to de-emphasize the fuzzy electric and try to increase the richness of the acoustic.

two tracks of electric lead guitar...i don't often play electric guitar and even rarely try to solo but this song has a hook to it that just sticks. i dig it. each of the leads are panned slightly to either side. i guess it should be said here that i am amazed with early rock and roll recordings from the beatles, buddy holly, elvis...everything was recording in mono so they didn't have the luxury of making a recording sound full by panning to the stereo left or right. now it is essential that mixes are defined and refined by utilizing the stereo spectrum. the days are now here when right and left have become passé due the advent of surround sound. bands like the flaming lips have spent the last several years remixing their older records to a 5.1 sound and record labels have found a new way to market and sell dated recordings. i guess all things must change.

for those of you keeping track at home, that's only nine tracks when i said earlier that i had recorded twelve tracks of instrumentation. i really didn't feel the need to include the extra three in the new mix. two of the three were percussion tracks which i'm sure you can understand why i got rid of those.

in all, this recording is very exciting to me because it isn't the normal folk song thing i do. it's pretty well a rock instrumental which suits me just fine. i wrote in my history of home recordings that my friends and i always had goofy names for our songwriting/recording projects. my initial moniker was north dakota which later became justified sunshine. i've felt that now is a good time to start a new chapter with a new name so this project is under the banner "traveling light."

i do hope you enjoy.

Monday, February 22, 2010

lucero at mountain stage 02.21.2010

last night susen and i had the pleasure of going to a taping of the npr radio show mountain stage. the show included the sons of bill; the bottle rockets; bud carroll and the southern souls; sam bush; and lucero. it's a fine show and will be broadcast nationally beginning april 15. west virginia public radio broadcasts mountain stage on sundays (3pm - 5pm) and again on saturdays (8pm - 10pm) so tune in on april 18th or april 24th to listen to this complete show.

here is the lucero set from that show. it was recorded on a iPhone from about twenty rows back in the middle of the auditorium. it was converted to .wav in mediamonkey pro, split into individual tracks in cool edit pro, and converted to 160kbps mp3 in cool edit pro. further proof that i am a geek.

visit mountain stage on the web here.

unzip the file archive using a tool found here.


Friday, February 19, 2010

birthday haiku - six

happy days are these...

times when life calls out our name.

listen closely now.


for Jimmy Rader.


about the haiku: haiku is a japanese form of poetry that contains a metered verse in seventeen on (equivalent to an english syllable). generally, but not always, the english haiku consists of three lines with a five-seven-five syllable structure. the best examples of haiku paint a detailed picture using the fewest words possible, often only revealing a portion of the subject so as to give the reader something to ponder.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

birthday haiku - five

singing happy songs

dancing round with abandon

such is joy in life


for Marcus Gibbs.

my friend marcus is a youth pastor and a drummer. we used to play together as "shakespeare" and later "the wayback machine." i had so much fun playing with him. one show we played was in the parking lot of a rite aid in buckanon (i think it was buckanon, maybe weston). marcus had been toying with the idea of not using a bass drum. instead he rigged a kick pedal to a floor tom (that had been placed on its side) and rocked it out. for most, if not all, of this show he didn't use a drum stool. he stood behind the kit and played. marcus always had a blast when he played. even though marcus never missed a beat or a cue, i remember he would come out from behind the kit at the oddest times for no real reason other than because he really enjoyed playing. sometimes he would dance around, sometimes he would step to a mic for a well timed backup vocal. he just always made it back to his kit at just the right time. it was always a blast playing with marcus. he is a very talented and creative musician. maybe one day our paths will cross again and we'll gig together some more.

i've played music with so many different and talented people over the years. i'm very thankful. music has always been a complete joy in my life.

about the haiku: haiku is a japanese form of poetry that contains a metered verse in seventeen on (equivalent to an english syllable). generally, but not always, the english haiku consists of three lines with a five-seven-five syllable structure. the best examples of haiku paint a detailed picture using the fewest words possible, often only revealing a portion of the subject so as to give the reader something to ponder.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

birthday haiku - four

join in adventure

with your wits and master sword

a new heart you'll win


for Laura Phalen.

clearly so (or maybe not to everyone), this haiku is about the legend of zelda. i've been playing a lot of the ocarina of time game with chloe. all these years and i've never beaten the game...still haven't even played majora's mask, for those of you that must know. compared to the other zelda games (that i HAVE beaten) this is most difficult. im only about halfway through and i'm finding certain things very challenging. since i've been playing so much and it's laura's birthday, i thought a zelda themed haiku would be appropriate.

about the haiku: haiku is a japanese form of poetry that contains a metered verse in seventeen on (equivalent to an english syllable). generally, but not always, the english haiku consists of three lines with a five-seven-five syllable structure. the best examples of haiku paint a detailed picture using the fewest words possible, often only revealing a portion of the subject so as to give the reader something to ponder.

Monday, February 15, 2010

picture pages - two

i've decided that while drawing figures is a strength of mine i am really lacking in a firm grasp of the human anatomy. i can draw certain poses very well, but i'm limited to those certain poses. the subject of picture pages - one put a spotlight on those limitations. i really had to try hard on the pose and felt as if i'd stretched my ability...slightly. as i begin illustrating in earnest, i'll need to become more accurate with my human form in different poses. angles are always central to the depiction of a pose and i'll attempt to draw poses from different angles. this afternoon i needed a guide since my sketching over the last week has been very comfortable for me with little artistic stretching. i went to the internets looking for photos to ape and came across a magazine cover featuring julia roberts. what really struck me is how beautiful she has remained over the years, so i decided to sketch her. i'm satisfied with the overall accuracy vs. my own style, yet i can see several places that i'll want to practice in order to achieve a better result.

about this drawing: the subject comes from the february 13, 2010 issue of the herald magazine. the photo was taken (and belongs to) photographer timothy white. it is the cover of the issue that features a piece on julia roberts. i looked at the photo on my computer and drew with pencils in my sketchbook. i spent maybe an hour on the sketch, presented here "as is" with no touch-ups or embellishments.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

birthday haiku - three

cold winds will soon cease

changing seasons bring new life

even birds will sing


for Stacey Canterbury.

i'm a big fan of winter but this one has been quite difficult. it's so nice that, while we're never sure what tomorrow brings, we can look ahead to a new season.

about the haiku: haiku is a japanese form of poetry that contains a metered verse in seventeen on (equivalent to an english syllable). generally, but not always, the english haiku consists of three lines with a five-seven-five syllable structure. the best examples of haiku paint a detailed picture using the fewest words possible, often only revealing a portion of the subject so as to give the reader something to ponder.

Friday, February 12, 2010

birthday haiku - two

as winter rages

passion bursts in with a smile

guide it through the storm


for Shawn Light.

another birthday, another haiku...

about the haiku: haiku is a japanese form of poetry that contains a metered verse in seventeen on (equivalent to an english syllable). generally, but not always, the english haiku consists of three lines with a five-seven-five syllable structure. the best examples of haiku paint a detailed picture using the fewest words possible, often only revealing a portion of the subject so as to give the reader something to ponder.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

birthday haiku - one

years mount up on wings

taking flight in sunset skies

memories will soar


for S.D. (Samuel) Smith.

back in january i posted a simple birthday greeting on my friend mike's wall (note the implied facebook reference, assuming that we "all" know what "mike's wall" is referring to). he jokingly replied that he had hoped for a haiku. so i wrote him one and sent it to him. now that i have this blog i'll attempt to write haiku for all the birthdays that appear on my facebook friends list. yes, i'm trying give everyone a deeper sense on why this blog is called "geekstyle."

about the haiku: haiku is a japanese form of poetry that contains a metered verse in seventeen on (equivalent to an english syllable). generally, but not always, the english haiku consists of three lines with a five-seven-five syllable structure. the best examples of haiku paint a detailed picture using the fewest words possible, often only revealing a portion of the subject so as to give the reader something to ponder.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

picture pages - one

so having as much free time as i now have i've been feeling ultra-creative...i've had time to write, record and draw pictures. the picture included here really excites me because the drawing was commissioned with a deadline that i was able to meet and was satisfied with the result. i can see that some technique i used could be refined (i should definitely start using a straight edge) and with more projects and more practice i could see more development as an artist. i've already set my mind on several projects that i wasn't able to work on while so engrossed with my store. i'm looking forward to the work that could develop.

when i was in jr. high (yes, there was a day when our education system used a junior and senior high set up) we were required to take a vocational exploration class. i remember sitting in the class while the majority of the students were complaining about the usefulness of the course. our teacher argued that the class was giving us exposure to the various possible careers we could choose and someone pointed at me and said, "why is chris here? we all know he's going to be an artist." well, to this point in my life that just hasn't been true. i'm not convinced that i have been called to be an artist but i feel a satisfaction knowing that with some discipline and refinement of the craft, i could make a living with my art.

susen has encouraged me to submit t-shirt designs to and she even gave me an idea. my wife is always looking out for me...i like that. i'm sure future picture pages will contain those designs. i've also been gathering old notebooks to scan and post. i know it will be interesting to me, i hope someone else out there with find it to be edifying.

about this drawing: this was a combination of three sketches. my initial sketch of the subject (fictional character sarah watson from s.d. smith's fledge series) was included on a page with several other attempts. i liked the head, mainly the expression, but wasn't satisfied with the pose. a second sketch yielded the couch and teevee but the figure was woefully inadequate; i hadn't gotten the pose right, the face was bad, it just wasn't right. i decided to make a third attempt similar to the first in that i only drew the figure, not the setting. in this third sketch i was most pleased with the pose but liked the first head better. this problem prompted me to pull out my light box and, starting with the scenery, i traced from the second sketch adjusting it marginally. i then traced the pose that i liked onto the couch and finally traced the head from the initial sketch. i'm sure that with the right equipment this is done frequently in photoshop, etc. since i am not very adept with photoshop i was thankful to have tools on hand that would expedite this process.

after finishing the final sketch i used micron art pens of varying thicknesses to ink the drawing. i defined the sofa and shaded the teevee. i intentionally gave the subject minimal shading so that she had more of a "cartoon" look. finally i went to the internets to find a photo of the new river gorge bridge which i then freehanded onto the picture behind sarah on the wall.

while completing this piece i was listening to switchfoot's hello hurricane and the david crowder*band's can you hear us?

from start to finish i spent four hours on the piece.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

recording diary: a history

music and sound recording has been an interest to me for years. i remember sitting in an empty church listening to jeremy playing u2 songs on the piano. as jeremy went through these self-discovered arrangements, the songs took new life in my very keen relationship with the irish band. the thought kept going through my head that this is the music i wanted to listen to: relevant, personal versions of songs i was familiar with. sooner than later jeremy would play for me original songs, put together a band and started playing shows. i caught the dream when jeremy gave me the first cassette he recorded in his bedroom on an already outdated boom box. i gave my girlfriend's little brother twenty bucks for an old stella harmony acoustic guitar that he found at a yard sale and i tried to teach myself how to play. jeremy and i would get together playing originals and covers for each other and it became inevitable that we would begin a series of home recordings that would last for years to come.

bob, the bassist in jeremy's band, spent three months out of state at 'the recording workshop' and soon after we had pooled our money to get a tascam porta-studio four-track (the porta07). within no time, following suggestions and tips from bob and our own trial and error, deep end records... was born and homemade tapes came with astonishing frequency. jeremy and i would take turns with the equipment and usually when we made the handoff from one to the other we would write and record some tracks together. one such project was all original holiday music, songs written for christmas, thanksgiving, etc. i remember even having a labor day song. each song was certainly meant for our own amusement rather than mass consumption but that never deterred us from laying the tape. we always named our projects. the collaborations with jeremy were named something so completely strange and tossed off that i can't even remember what it was. i think it had something to do with clouds or pillows, maybe pillow cloud. whatever it was, it was goofy but that was just the beginning of the goofiness. jeremy, jamie and i recorded a couple of songs live with drums and keys (to this date, my favorite recordings) that we called the dakota bug factory, we even named the sessions "panana beel." like i said, goofy as all get out.

during this time eric was writing lyrics at a steady pace and mailing them to me to arrange into songs. we got together as theodore and played a couple shows, one of which we were able to sell copies of a cassette that our friend zac recorded for us. years later, on the first day of work at a new store, i was introduced to dunlap whose first statement to me was "weren't you in theodore? i still have that tape i bought at one of the shows you played." at that time i hadn't even realized that anyone would remember theodore nor that i had met dunlap while he was in high school and even had photos of him taken while we hung out with mutual friends.

eventually i moved to new hampshire and for the first year or so recording on the porta07 had become my connection to the friends i left back home. i sent down a couple of my north dakota tapes while getting tapes from eric (eightball), jamie (ladybug) and jeremy (xy and panic strikes a chord) as well as local (wv) bands; falooda, richard's anger, and the urban renewal project. it was a good time.

while in new hampshire i started a fourteen year stint with a retail corporation and found my songwriting and recordings curtailed considerably. i recorded some things with melinda (clary sage), madelynn (maddy & the evil five), barbara, chris press (crispy), the beloved jay jungles (lost blues), matt (tin foil star), and others that i'm sad to say i can't even remember. eric and jeremy came up to visit once and we recorded some stuff together. i remember sending jeremy tapes with unfinished tracks of song sketches and jeremy would finish the songs and send them back.

during this time i became much more serious about my faith and concluded that it was pointless to write and record songs about trivial subjects. i wanted to focus on the personal and practical exercise of my faith. my wife, susen, calls it God-music. justified sunshine became the new moniker of my own recording projects, leaving behind the name north dakota.

eventually, eric moved up to new hampshire completing our church band, damascus road, as well as drumming with a band called crimson bridge. i recorded some of their songs with mixed results. it was new to me to multi-track a full band and the sessions presented challenges that i hadn't encountered before. i had always recorded to satisfy my own muse, so missed notes or random feedback often made their way onto my recordings. recording the band caused me to use the input and preferences of a separate group of artists. i had to get on tape what they desired to sound like. it was a wonderful experience that gave me the dream of recording bands as a full-time gig. unfortunately, i never really pursued that as a career goal. my retail life consumed me and i was never disciplined enough to pursue it on the side.

that retail life gave me the opportunity to move back to wv and start a family. i'm not sure what happened to that porta07, i assume that jeremy kept it but maybe it just bit the dust. it had served us well for more years than we could have expected. i didn't really do anything musically for a short time but soon i discovered the recording possibilities of the personal computer. while in a band with bob (shakespeare), i was involved with some recordings on marcus's computer. they both knew what was going on with the software applications and the equipment used so i just soaked it all in while the wheels turned in my head for a new recording outlet. almost immediately i purchased a small mixing board, a versatile soundcard, and a copy of syntrillium's cool edit pro (v.2). my love for recording was rekindled and i recorded a few things as time allowed. at one point a band that dunlap was playing with (sarasota) asked me to record some of their songs. just like the crimson bridge sessions, i encountered challenges that excited me about the possibilities. and, just like the previous several years, my retail life took over and i never really pursued those possibilities.

now here we are in 2010, close to twenty years away from that afternoon in an empty church. my retail life is over and i'm open to new possibilities. i purchased a new (to me) digital four-track that combines the porta07's simplicity with the versatility of the pc. my new equipment is the tascam dp-004. i'm looking forward to a new paragraph in the story of my recording life.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

i'm just going to try this...

this is a song i has an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar and is a song originally written and recorded on u2's joshua tree album...enjoy...

Monday, February 1, 2010

geek style is GO!

i started a blog by this same name several years ago...actually it was six or seven years ago, before our daughter was born, around the time my wife came back. i never really found time to write even though i have many things to write about. last month i saw the opportunity arise to write and many other things as my schedule became freed up considerably. i decided that i would start this blog again. now to decide what to include in this blog...i figured that i could tell my story, the story of my life. i know that i have plenty to write about but i'm not really excited to let everyone in to that extent. i figured that i could write opinion pieces of the various media i consume..."a pirate taking inventory" would be a great title for essays on the plunder i find to download. that just seemed too broad and less interesting than the alternatives. i figured that i could write a blog that critically analyzed newspaper comic strips or featured essays on such varied subjects as the neo-soul movement in mainstream music, the current renaissance in situation comedies or the factors currently in motion that will spur on another boom period in the professional wrestling industry. i figured that i could create an illustration blog of drawings that i've made, a photo blog featuring the clay figures i would make or a recording diary of songs made on my four-track.

you can see why i am calling this "geek style 101." i'm kind of all over the place and will most certainly include most of these topics in this blog. i'm hoping that people will read it and be encouraged. encouraged to think and create.