Adventures in strings and things

I am a big advocate for artists getting paid fairly for their work, and think that when said artist choose to give away the milk for free, it hurts themselves and the community in the long term. However, fundraisers can be worthy and excellent exceptions, as was the Philippines benefit at the Slice on December 6th.

I thoroughly enjoyed all (but one) of the groups and individuals performing, most notably honest and stripped down sets by Tyson Wiebe and Pow Navarro.

I wanted to try something different for this show and used it as an opportunity to put together a different and excellent cast of musicians to throw some new songs through the ringer. I have always loved the sound of a string quartet, so I decided to try and mash the most contextually sensible version of one together - with guitars being violins, cello being cello, removing the viola, and adding upright bass. For additional happy fun times, piano and percussion were added.

Musicians were found and secured and due to the extremely limited timeframe in which we were working, basic acoustic demos were sent to everyone and I hoped for the best. I knew we would only get the chance for one or two rehearsals so, after spending to much time setting up and figuring out how to effectively fit six people with large instruments (har har har) in a tiny space, we went through the new and first song on the list, Can’t Go Back.

Now, as I get older, I find that I am constantly looking for new experiences that are genuinely new, enjoyable, satisfying, different, purple, etc. and for whatever reason, be it simplicity or witch craft, within the 15-seconds of playing music together I was graced with one of those ambiguous happy feelings and a good old fashioned shit-eating grin. The rest of the rehearsal, as well as the gig that followed were equally as enjoyable and satisfying. Long story short, I am on a new mission to figure out how to get that feeling bottled up, and Bowie willing, do at least one properly prepared gig with the group!

You can check out some pictures from the show below.

JonDecember 6th NWM
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Halloween pics

Thanks to everyone who came out to the Halloween show and to Bands as Bands! We had a hell of a good time and hope you did too!

Halloween 2013 8
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Reflections for the end of an era

With the coming of Halloween the band will be going through some changes that will mark the end of era, and the beginning of a new one. After 3 years playing with the New Weather Machine, Jesse Northey, the man that has dutifully served as the band’s bass player and main vocal harmonizer, will be heading to greener (or whiter) pastures as he moves up to Edmonton. The show tomorrow night (the 31st) will be his last with us.


On the other side of that coin, I would like to welcome Jason Schultchen as the new bass player. His first show will be on the November 1st for a fun secondary Halloween event where we will join several other local bands in dressing up as other bands to play their music. Check it out here.

(**I realized that I went on a bit of a tangent, so consider this a warning**)

Change is often welcomed, and nearly always inevitable.

When I think back to times when this type of change has occurred in other bands or situations I’ve been in, there is a pattern that always seems to appear.

For whatever reason, it feels like the time period where the change “action” is taking place passes at a slower rate than normal, while in the post-change period, it feels like the entire situation had been something akin to a vivid, yet quickly passing, dream.

You could extrapolate this idea on to any number of circumstances. For example, eating a delicious ice cream: 1) you obtain a delicious ice cream cone, 2) you eat your delicious ice cream cone, 3) you wonder where your delicious ice cream cone went. Ok, maybe that’s not the best example, but I’m a sucker for food analogies and I think you get the idea.

Specifically with events that cannot or are likely not to repeat, I think there is an artificial distance that gets subconsciously inserted in our memories after a short period of separation. I’m unsure of why this is, but I would imagine that it could be for any number of reasons, but I would guess it is some kind of psychological defense mechanism or a feature of human memory capacity maintenance, or some combination thereof. Alternately, it could be a byproduct of modern information accessibility that results in a repeatable interaction with theory of relativity. Wouldn’t that be fun?

I was actively thinking about this earlier today during what was our last foreseeable rehearsal for our last foreseeable show with Jesse, and I really expected that the active focusing of attention would change how the situation felt. But it didn’t. The rehearsal didn’t feel different at all. As soon as I was occupied by music and my thoughts shifted elsewhere and things proceeded in a normal fashion. As I write this, I can’t think about earlier today in a fashion that makes it feel artificially separated - today still feels like today. However, when thinking about yesterday evening, it feels like it could have been weeks or months ago, and, even though I know it was only yesterday, and as weird as it sounds, I don’t even really feel like the same person anymore!

I know that Jesse’s departure will mark the end of this era of the New Weather Machine, and while I am exited for change, I know that our show tomorrow is the last bite of the this ice cream cone. Wait, that sounds weird (note to self: only use food analogies for mixing). The Halloween show will be recorded, and barring some catastrophic technology failure, I will share some or all of it with you in the near future.

Anyway, if you followed me all the way through that rant, I applaud you and sincerely hope it made sense! Stay tuned.

Jon

Delayed Sound City thoughts

I know I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I finally decided to watch the copy of Dave Grohl’s Sound City that has been sitting on the shelf for 6 or 7 months. Before it was released I was pretty excited to see it. There seemed to be a lot of musicians and engineers involved I’m a fan of, and, any opportunity I have to dump more useless information into my landfill of technical knowledge is usually welcomed.


Eventually I got to thinking about why exactly I hand’t thrown in on at some point and realized that I go through the same cycle of excitement, apathy, then “sober intake” with things all the time. I would like to think that it’s something fun like a subconscious device my body uses to remove me from the bias caused by the hype surrounding something new, but it’s probably just a sign of my slowly depleting attention span.


Anyway, Sound City was decent, if not a bit dry. I’m a big fan of awesome recording gear and instruments, and had heard that there was a significant amount of Neve and analogue tape chest beating, but the amount of times that people reference the console (or “board,” or “desk,” etc) is ridiculous. Yes – we get it. You spent all of the hours sitting at the Neve while it sprayed everything with its unicorn gun.

The more interesting bits, however, sit somewhere between the lines and directly in front of you - mostly having to do with actually performing music in some capacity. Specifically, there is a little bit at the end, where, after recording a song, Dave Grohl asks Paul McCartney something like “Why can’t it always be this easy?”. Paul quickly replies, “It is,” and sums up everything that was important in the film.

There were some interesting things and interviews, but it’s the last little bit that I’ll be thinking about later.

Halloween scare tactics

Long time! First off I want to say thanks to everyone who came out for our acoustic performances during Lethbridge Arts Days. We met some really cool people and had a blast working out acoustic arrangements of our songs. This is an area that I want to explore a little bit more, although I’m unsure if it’s in a live or recorded (both?)capacity. Because we put a lot of focus on the electric elements of music, I find it hard to find opportunities where acoustic instruments and strings are appropriate. Without entering a technology vs nature discussion, there is something very natural and satisfying about the tonal palette of acoustic instruments, particularly strings (and more specifically the cello), that does not surface nearly as much as I think it should in modern music outside of country or audience insulting-garbage like Mumford and Sons. Put it on the long shortlist!


Anyway, we’ve got 2 killer shows coming up at the end of the month, both of which are Halloween parties, and both of which are at The Slice. The first is on the actual 31st of the month and will feature Cosmic Charley, Jesse and the Dandelions, and New Weather Machine. You can check out the poster below.

This one will be somewhat of a special show, as Jesse, who has served dutifully in the role of bass player for the past couple years, is moving to Edmonton at the beginning of November. This will be his last official show with the band, although I’m sure he’ll still pop up around town given the awesome local music community and the inherent geographic challenges that exists for musicians in Alberta.

The October 31st Halloween show will be recorded and will probably be put up in some fashion on the website.


The low-end empty spaces left by Jesse will be filled by a good friend of mine and bass extraordinaire, Jason Schultchen. i have played with Jason in different capacities over the last 10 or 12 years and the band is exited for him to be joining us. His first performance with us will be at the second Halloween party on November 1st.

The November 1st show has a fun and simple concept, where local bands dress up and perform the music of other bands. “Bands as Bands” so they call it. There are some really good band choices made by some really good bands (you can check out the list on the event page by following this link). The New Weather Machine has decided to take a shot at tackling Queen. I have been trying to think up some sort of a good synthesis pun of the names, but the best I’ve been able to do is “New Weather MaQueen” - a name that may better suit our bizarro-world Irish counter parts.

Jon


Halloween 2013 Poster low jpeg


Upcoming Event

This Saturday The New Weather Machine will hitting the stage with Tommy Alto (Vancouver) and Matt Robinson (Lethbridge) for one of the last weekends before the school season begins again. You can get all the details here and check out the poster below.

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Pictures Pictures

A few pics from the show last week: