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Private shows are back! 

Hey, my friend! Hope you’re having a great day as we ramp up preparations for a fantastic week!

Due to protocols set in place by the leadership in our respective territories, many aspects of life are still on lockdown, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a celebration! Anything is possible if you’re creative enough!

To that end, I’d like to announce that not only am I booking new shows for private functions, but you also have the option of booking me for music through your own private stream.

What types of events do I play for? Anniversaries, birthday parties, house parties, conferences, festivals, etc. The sky's the limit!

I will be happy to coordinate with each and everyone of you personally to find out specific things such as: the date and time of your event, song requests, the type of atmosphere you’d like to create, and working within your budget.

For more information, you can find me at anyone of my social media platforms, you can email me at jonathan@jonathanlaird.net, or you can simply leave a comment below.

Thanks so much and have a fantastic week!

Fridays at The Glover 

Guntersville, Alabama is a very cool town. The folks there are nice. The atmosphere is warm. The lake is beautiful. Two weeks ago, I played a wonderful room called, The Glover. Beatrice (the owner) is the real deal, and she's not fooling around.

I can't tell you all the details, but long story short, this isn't the first incarnation of the restaurant. However, after a time, they have reemerged, and are taking the town by storm.

They're producing in-house classics such as homemade pasta, Creme Brûlée, and Beef Wellington. What's more, they have graciously asked me to come and play Friday's throughout the rest of the year, and I couldn't be more honored.

To find out more about this awesome restaurant, click here.

Bon Appetit!

Where, Oh Where Am I? 

Here are some questions I am often asked: "When can we see you play again?" "Do you have any local shows coming up?" "Are you still playing around?" The reality is that right now I would love to be playing more than I actually am.

I made a Facebook video about this very thing about a month ago, and I was pleased to see that I wasn't the only person that shared those sentiments. Truth be told, now is a harder time than ever before to book shows in public venues. I do not believe that there is any ill will or malicious intent behind it. I actually believe that most of it stems from otherwise goodhearted people delving into a certain effort without the rudimentry skills to be able to execute it properly. (Although, I've met ones who seemed to have nothing but contempt for the people they have to interact with. Maybe they shouldn't have that responsibility...)

As long as I've been at this, I have not done everything right. (I'm only human.) However, when I've been wrong, I have always tried to be quick to say, "I'm sorry." In light of this, I have no reason to believe that it's some personal agenda against me for two reasons: 1. Other musicians who have never set foot in those venues are having an equally hard time getting their foot in the door. 2. I've always tried to approach doing a job for another venue as if I owned that venue. That means I come early, I stay late, I bring the tools that I need, and I take seriously the desire to bring the best I possibly can to every single show I play.

While I do have some shows on my calendar, I am starving to play. I'm hungry to be out there pouring my heart and soul out in song and in spirit to anyone who wants to listen. That said, I do have some dates coming up in the very near future, and I would love to see you. As a consequence of basically being stonewalled by bookers, I am now privatizing most of my shows. House concerts are awesome, and if you'd like to see the ins and outs of one, click here because it is good stuff! 

Aside from that, I'm working on some behind-the-scenes work for a special campaign coming up that I definitely would like you to see. Whatever piques your interest at this time, I certainly hope you'll share this post with anyone and everyone via the share button at the bottom, leave a comment below, please signup for the newsletter, and I'll look forward to seeing you at the next show!

Introducing Host a Show! 

We have a new addition to the webpage. It's called Host a Show! Think you might not have the capabilities to throw your own concert? You might be surprised. Got a space? Know some people who love family, friends and music? Perfect! To find out more, hover over the "Host a Show" Button in the menu, or click here to find out more about Booking Info and Host Info!

 

Don't wait! Book your show with Jonathan while slots are still available!

BOOM Goes the Microphone! 

I love all things indie. Some of the best works I've heard in music, and in movies are in the Independent market today. The storylines are compelling, and the production is very interesting as well. However, as an audio engineer who has had to do his fair share of cleanup work on independent projects, I want to give away some helpful information that will help creative people get their projects sounding good at the source. Because believe me, if it's bad at the source, no amount of engineering on the other side is going to make a bad recording good. 

Why write this? Many people come to me looking for the audio magic to happen in post. What do I find? Actors aren’t miked. You hear the room more than the dialogue. Bad stuff seaps in and masks the good stuff. 

If you want a good quality movie, good sound has GOT to be there. Take the time, and get it right at the source by following some guidelines. 

Get a good quality capture 

There are a couple of different ways to do this: 

a. Boom Mics 

b. Lavalieres 

Boom Mics - These are "shotgun" mics on a pole. In this scenario, Someone has to hold the microphone over their head for a long period of time and remain perfectly still. The microphone should be as close as it can possibly be to the subject's mouth without being in the frame. 

A good boom operator needs to keep the microphone as close to the performer as they possibly can, even when they're in motion speaking their dialogue. The tip of the microphone should be pointed towards the mouth of whomever is speaking. In fact, the microphone needs to be positioned before the actor/actress starts talking. 

Boom operators must watch rehearsals to get a feel for where they're supposed to be and when. Opt for a high quality, lightweight, boom pole with the cable already built-in. Since finger noise can travel up the pole into the microphone, the technique is to rock it back-and-forth in your hand instead of running it cross your fingers. 

Listen with headphones to see how much noise you’re making. Coordinate with your camera operator to adjust and make sure you’re out of the frame. The pole should be parallel to the floor above your head. 

Lavalieres - These need to be hidden in a movie setting. If you just put the mic underneath your clothes, this produces an unpleasing sound where clothes are brushing up against the mic capsule and producing a wooly, scratchy, rubbing noise. 

Solution: take two strips of gaffer’s or first aid tape and fold them both into triangles, but not tightly. The goal is to create a sort of cushion. Now sandwich the capsule with the two tape triangles. Now one side can adhere to the performer’s shirt and the other will adhere to the underside of a collar, skin (ouch), or undershirt. 

The cable can make noise, too, just as the boom can. By noise running up and down the cable, it puts stress on the cable and transmits into the recording. 

Solution: Start as though you’re going to be tying the cable in a knot, but do it just enough to create a small loop. You can then tape the loop and excess cabling to get it out of the way, and further reduce stress noise. 

Watch your recording levels 

If you’re recording your actors digitally, please please PLEASE watch your recording volume. If the little lights on your rig are glowing red, your audio will get clip distortion. This is nasty stuff. Opt for a moderate level, and use your ears. 

Hope this helps! Leave your comments, and techniques below, and keep the conversation alive. Happy moviemaking!

9 Ways to Bring Your Drum Loops to Life 

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, quite beats a good drum track. The right player, the right kit, and the right room can make a mix…..magical. But what if you don’t have access to a space where you can track in your apartment, or your recording gear is limited? In this post, we’re going to explore some of the ways you can breathe life into your loops. 

1. Groove 

Nothing is more essential for establishing a solid foundation in your songs than establishing the groove. If your kick and snare are displaced, and they don’t gel with the song, keep exploring presets until you find something that hits home with you. 

 

2. Tempo 

Now that we have our groove in place, play along with it. Does it feel off or forced? If so, you might consider altering your BPM’s to make sure you can play comfortably and sit in the pocket. 

 

3. Variation 

Bearing in mind that keeping your songs interesting should be your endgame, it’s fair to say that there should be some delineation between the verse, chorus, and bridge sections. Maybe you’d like to switch from your hi hat to your overheads, or play a section in cut time. Go with your gut until you get that “aha” moment. (Note: Be sure to check aspects of your kit for artifacts. As is demonstrated in our next example, even MIDI drums can suffer from phase issues. This is merely to illustrate a point.) Here’s a before and after sample using Scripter in Logic Pro X to create rhythmic variations in the very same drum sample: 

 

4. Live Samples 

If you’re a mix engineer and you’ve worked with multitrack sessions for other clients before, odds are you have at least a couple songs with well played, tuned and tracked kits. Even if you don’t, you have options. Several companies make high end samples of live drums on great kits, if you’re willing to buy them. Of course, if you know any total package drummers, you can always barter to see if they’d be willing to setup their kits and allow you to get clean samples of all the parts. If so, here’s a little trick for you: 

When you have your samples sounding right at the source (properly gain staged, of course) locate the beginning and end of your transient at zero crossings (the baseline where no audio is being played) and create a tight cut/fade at each point. Export the file into your sample library under the file name you’d like. Then you can pull it into your session whenever you want. 

5. DIY Sample Kit 

Many DAW’s have the capability to create and design your own custom drum machine. In this example, Logic’s Drum Machine Designer was used on the “Empty Kit” setting. 

 

From there, you can route the right part of your kit to the corresponding trigger. By clicking on an individual sample box, your panel offers you a wide variety of options and a vast array of tools for designing any singular aspect of your kit. 

 

6. Editing 

Occasionally, you may find something unnatural is happening like the tail of your snare is being cut off. No problem! Convert your virtual drums into a MIDI region and open your Piano Roll. 

 

Drag the clipped audio to another key assignment, and drag your snare sample into the corresponding box. As long as your sample isn’t being cut off from any triggers that follow it, you’ll be made in the shade! 

7. Processing 

As we talked about earlier, by clicking on an individual sample box in your drum machine, your panel allows you to do several things to each piece. 

EQ 

Each piece has zen simple high and low pass filters for cutting mud, harsh frequencies, and creative processing. 

Compression/Distortion 

I’m definitely putting these two in the same category. Both affect the dynamic range of your instruments, and both can raise your RMS levels while making your tracks sound fatter and more aggressive. Even many of your DAW’s stock compressors are modeled after coveted vintage gear, and have a make-up gain controller. This drives the amount of distortion going out of the circuit, and a wet/dry mix control enables you to blend the unaffected signal with the highly affected one. This is essentially parallel processing. 

 

Here’s an example of a dry sample, a compressed sample, a distorted sample, and a compressed and distorted sample blended into the original: 

Ambience 

This is a tricky one. Many novice engineers drench everything in reverb because they think it makes the mix sound more lively. The truth is that if you oversaturate a mix with reverb and delay it will sound incredibly washed out. To combat this, consider only four or five things that could really benefit with the addition of reverb. Maybe on your kit it’s the snare or the overheads. Be conservative with it, and if it doesn’t need it, don’t add it. Here’s an example of our kit before and after adding a bit of reverb to the snare. 

 

8. Panning 

Wider is better. There are only three real positions in your mix: left, center, and right. Use the extremes to your advantage. Pan the more spaced elements of your kit to the extreme. It’ll sound bigger, and we like bigger. Here’s our kit in mono followed by an example with the toms and overheads panned hard left and right. 

 

9. Processing the whole kit 

Sometimes, a plugin can be used to add flavor and character to your entire mix. iZotope Vinyl does a pretty good job making music sound like it’s being filtered through an old radio. 

Thanks for tuning in. Armed with this knowledge, hopefully there’s something that benefits you and your music. Now let’s go save the world one mix at a time!

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Behind the Song - "Over and Over" 

Full disclosure: I'm conflicted. Not by this blog initiative as a concept, mind you, but because the basic crux of this series is to take you into the corners of my mind. It's a scary prospect. I like to write songs steeped in introspection, deep thought and fearlessness to explore ideas that people may otherwise avoid. Who knows? Maybe that's the point...

In the days of court jesters, yes, they had a role of being entertainers in the king's court, but they had the king's ear as well. Often, they were the only ones who could deliver bad news to his majesty without fear of reprisal. Today, reprisal is easy to find, and fear is all too commonplace. Today, musicians have taken the reins, and they have some real questions they ask themselves often. For me, it's namely, "How can I add value to people's lives because I'm doing this?" It occurs to me that there's is still a place for telling stories, for exploring things in ways that may be antithetical to the paradigm of the cultural norms. How very punk of me.

Let's dive right in...

"Over and Over" is, by far, the most involved production I've ever created. By the end of the session, there were 119 tracks in the orchestration. I hope you can enjoy it and get something out of it. You can listen here, and if you'd like to have the song for yourself, I'll include links below. 

I learned a lot from that experience. Some things I'll replicate. Some things I'll do differently next time, but I stand by the work, and am generally pleased at the result. Now for the inspiration:

I had a torrent of emotions pouring over me while writing this one: boredom with a homogenous, one-dimensional society when it comes to the universe of ideas, anger with the new righteous who believe they have the morally superior high ground and act in immoral, unethical ways to prove themselves, and no civility in public discourse.

I get exhausted seeing the same links, the same complaints, the same never-ending cycle of information day-to-day. I get frustrated with a culture that places no filter on itself when it comes to the ideas they instantaneously believe, but never test.

I get infuriated by the arrogance of the people who control the flow of information, who take for granted that they are accepted as disseminating the truth. People tend to confuse "truth" and "information." The fact is that these are two separate terms that are not necessarily interchangeable. Many of those who control the flow of information prey on people who will not question the paradigm. Probably because it feels good to go along with what everyone else says. You're much less likely to disturb the status quo by opting for the path of least resistance.

Maybe most of all, I get saddened by a people who've lost all believe in themselves and the world around them. That devaluation can't be anything short of pejorative. One of its effects is a people comfortable with casting blame on everyone else, but even if they have a point, what are they prepared to do to get back up on the horse?

Ultimately, this is a clarion call to help a culture struggling with approval addiction to maybe not rely on the outside world to be responsible for one's self-esteem. After all, if they can give it to you, they can also take it away from you. I hope for a people who have self-respect born of fighting for what matters most, while not allowing others to dictate to them something conflicting with what they know in their hearts are right.

Feel free to share this with anyone you'd like! If you like what you hear, and would like to have the song, you can find it at these fine links with more to come:

Apple MusicSpotifyiTunesGoogle Play/YouTubeAmazonDeezerTidal

While We're On the Subject... 

Greetings! Every now and then, I like to curate content, find out what's going on in the world, and share that with good folks, like yourself. Here are some of the latest juicy bits from the interwebs...

Sam Shepard dies at 73 after battling ALS

 

 

 

via ABC

 

 

 

 

 

What Sort Of Evil Did Scott And His Pack 'Let Out' On 'Teen Wolf'?

 

 

via MTV

 

 

 

 

England into Women's Euro 2017 semi-finals - reaction

 

 

 

via BBC

 

 

 

 

20,000 evacuated after fire breaks out at music festival in Barcelona

 

 

via CBS