Friday, February 26, 2010


my mt. juliet groove has been immeasurably enhanced
by the addition of a new local indian restaurant
called Shagor, only five minutes from StudioBelew.
this is big stuff for mt. juliet and fortunately the food
is delicious, the prices are affordable, and the vibe is cool.

Shagor, has been open two weeks
and I've already eaten there six times.
I am a pretty decent cook of simplistic meals,
(well, I'm decent perhaps, but not pretty)
and since I really enjoy cooking, as often as possible
I try to cook dinner at home for the four of us
but most evenings martha and the girls are busy
with various homeschooling endeavors
(dance classes are from 4:30 to 8:00 3 nights a week)
leaving me on my lonesome for dinner.
so I like to drive one of my precious vintage cars, park it
in a spot within my loving gaze (yes, I know it's ridiculous)
open my iPhone to an interesting app (say, the latest
tenori-on-like app called Soundgrid) and enjoy a great meal.

while I'm not an adventurous eater I love all kinds
of food especially italian, seafood, mexican, middle-
eastern, chinese, sushi, american, french, etc.
and while I wouldn't want to go without places
like J. Alexander's, Bricktop's, Capital Grill, or delights
such as chocolate Haagen-Dazs, or Skyline chili
(which, by the way, reminds me of indian curry)
I absolutely adore indian food and could probably live on it.

all good indian restaurants must play indian music
but Shagor takes the concept a step further by showing
highly amusing Bollywood clips (indian girl meets indian
boy on a mountaintop where they sing and dance
at each other) on a small screen in the corner of the room.

I especially love indian pop music. the female voice,
which always sounds like the exact same singer,
reminds me of diana ross on helium and the backing tracks
are wonderfully multi-cultural at times including such
seemingly disparate choices as banjo with sitar or chinese
flute with an english harmonium. and of course
the drumming is nearly as delicious as the food.

ah, favorite dish.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

variations of wave pressure.

when albert einstein was asked if science
could someday explain everything his reply was,
"it's possible, but why would you want such a thing?
it would be like describing a beethoven symphony as
variations of wave pressure."

hence the title of the newest composition
I've been working on for the last several weeks.
variations of wave pressure will be performed live
for the first time ever at the Big Ears Festival
in knoxville on saturday march 27 at 1:00.

I am hard at work fitting the various sections
I have written thus far into one coherent piece
and practicing the very delicate performance necessary.
it involves playing two guitar parts and a bass part
simultaneously, something which might not
even be possible except for the mighty Axe-FX Ultra.
I've taught it to be three musicians
(the title of one of my favorite picasso paintings)

as often happens for me a new technology (the axe-fx)
creates the need for a different technique
which then forms the basis for a new avenue of music.
as well as writing this one-man composition
I'm hoping this will produce a vocal song or two.

I'd love to explain how the variations technique works
but I'm meeting with my tutor daniel in just a few minutes
so I'll leave it for a future post.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

the poor man's tenori

you may remember my raving about a new musical device
I tried at this year's NAMM show called tenori-on.
for those of you who have an iPhone there is now a new
app called tone pad pro which is a very simplified
version of the tenori-on and which I highly recommend.

guaranteed to be one of the most entertaining $.99
you've ever spent, the tone pad pro can easily be played
by anyone, musician or not, and of course if you make up
something you like you can save it to hear again.

there are $698 worth of differences between the tone pad
and an actual tenori-on, little things like 256 sounds
to chose from and to alter any way you please (tone pad
has 1 sound, but a lovely sound it is) and the ability to
create 16 different layers of loops. but the idea is the same:
you touch the dots on the screen and a loop is created
instantly. to undo a dot you simply touch it again.

trust me, you need to try this. it will keep you occupied
for hours on end and beats the heck out of reality TV*.

*well, except for maybe pawn stars.

Monday, February 15, 2010

nerd alert!

warning: the following material may cause
drowsiness and a foreboding sense of ennui.
do not read while operating heavy machinery.
suitable only for gearheads, or bonafide nut cases.

as promised here comes the update on my attempts
to downsize my huge guitar gear arsenal while moving
forward into the 21st century. thanks to daniel rowland
and the good graces of a few very smart manufacturers
I'm blazing ahead, more confident than ever, writing new
material, and creating some smokin' new sounds!

a quick summation at this junction has my rig as follows:
1 apple macbook running apple main stage II,
and soon to be running all my necessary synth programs,
as well as looping, piano and orchestral samples, etc.
1 fractal audio axe-fx ultra providing the bulk
of my guitar sounds and the impetus for so much more;
1 roland vg-99 the virtual guitar system which allows
for essentially a second guitarist with different tunings.

thus far all of this can be amplified any number of ways
for international shows where amps are supplied,
but sound amazing through the 2 bose L1 towers I use,
which will be my amplification performing stateside.

still to be added: a small midi-pedalboard to operate
all the program changes needed and 4 expression pedals.
I'm intending to use the new pedalboard from fractal
which is made for the axe-fx and is called the mfc-101,
but is not yet ready for production.

all of this should fit elegantly into two luggage-size cases
as compared with my current rig which fills half a cargo van.

I'm also trying a myriad of new pedals which may be added
to the "effects loop" section of the axe-fx. ones I love most
so far are soundblox pro classic distortion (which is
midi) , gig-fx pro chopper (also midi), and digitech
harmony man
. I'm waiting to try the eventide pitch
. I prefer the small light roland ev-5
as my expression pedals. likely I'll need 4: one for master
guitar volume, one for master vg-99 volume, one for master
laptop volume, and one for any and all expression effects.

next topic: StudioBelew's new tabletop recording studio.

Monday, February 1, 2010

february already?!

wowee, we must be having fun.
in fact, a very unusual situation has presented itself:
nashville has snow! if you're a fan from say, sweden,
try not to laugh but nashville has about 8 inches!
in the 15 years I've lived here we've had real snow

so on friday night around 9:30 the family unit
joined pretty much the entire neighborhood
in a sledding extravaganza. now, that was fun!
good thing many of our neighbors had sleds to share,
they don't even sell sleds in nashville.

even though my house is surrounded on the sides
and in the back with 5 acres of woods and a stream,
I live in an actual subdivision called "Briarwood".
the subdivision contains perhaps 30 homes all
seated around a large circular drive.
I never realized how perfect the undulating hills
of Hidden Ridge Circle would be for sledding.
our house is on a cul de sac and even it has a
treacherous slope, treacherous at 20 mph on a sled.
under a full moon-lit sky we had a ball until midnight
when the spell of being 10 years old again finally
wore off and we turned into frozen pumpkins.

my days are spent gleefully exploring new sonic
possibilities spurred on by the recent NAMM show
and a serious desire to downsize my guitar rig.
I'm still working on laptop guitar
but I've added a new wrinkle which I believe to be
the answer to most of my needs: Axe-FX Ultra.
this two-space rack unit will supplant everything
I do with my Johnson amps and then some.
I'm discovering things I've never heard before!
also, many manufacturers are sending out
new things for me to try, making this a very fertile
period not just for musical discoveries but
for new song fodder as well. wish me luck.

I'll keep you gearheads posted on my progress.