Connecting Songwriters Throughout Northeast Ohio
Finding A Voice in Founder’s Alley
Ken Moody-Arndt, President
|When the volunteer shoved the pylon to the side, I pulled into the spacious parking lot behind the Lorain City Center. I was official. I was legit: I had my “FireFish Festival 2019 Parking Permit” sticker on the dash behind my windshield. Thanking my flagging memory that I had (barely) remembered to print it out that morning just before I left, I drove on in, easily found a space. “I’m one of the performers,” I had told the volunteer. “Founder’s Alley.”
“Right back there, just follow along in the direction that limousine is pointed.” And she pointed.
Load-out was too basic to merit the term. Just my guitar, and some extra cables, an external pre-amp, and a water bottle in one of those tote bags you get for free at just about any event where freebies are proffered. I followed an imaginary line extending out from the hood of the limo, found myself in what might be called “Pre-Founder’s Alley,” followed that for about fifty feet, and I was “there.”
“There” turned out to be the back porch of a local eatery. Thankfully, they had moved the dumpster way over to the side. A decent sound system was set up. A friend, a local musician who has hosted many an open mic, many of which I’ve played since I came on the scene, was already performing to an alley that was empty, it’s bricks swept clean. Folding chairs were set up, but no one was sitting in them; no one was there “there.” But my friend, a man who has made his living solely by doing local music in one capacity or another for about 50 years, was undaunted. “This was fun,” he said when his set was done. “There’s worse ways to make a hundred bucks.”
I let his example inspire me as I dragged my minimalist set-up on to that back porch and the sound man got me going. Soon I was moving through my musical paces. It was late afternoon, I was facing West into an unseasonably scorching sun, on schedule, playing songs that I loved—songs I’d written; songs I wish I’d written. Foot traffic passed along; I’d get an occasional smile-and-nod. Some sat for a spell and listened. Okay. What it’s all about.
"Thankfully, they had moved the dumpster way over to the side."
|And then a young woman made my day (okay, okay, keep your smart comments to yourself, why don’t you?). I was playing a song of mine that was unlike most of my others: it actually has a groove to it, an alternating bass that I keep going with the thumb of my picking hand. I had always wondered, being the straight-ahead white-bread kind of player that I am—one who has to stop and think for a second which beat to clap on before he responds to the peremptory, obligatory"putcher hands togethah!"—if I had it in me to find a groove that someone who knows the moves could dance to, and, on this clear blue killer-hot Saturday afternoon, at this Festival I’d never heard of before, that a friend, out of another kind of clear blue sky, had invited me to apply to, this young woman proved to me that I could.
She sat in one of those formerly empty folding chairs, started clapping, then swaying—then she got up and started dancing. She moved off to the side, to the empty space, on to the clean-swept bricks by the two rows of folding chairs, dancing in a wide circle. When I ran out of lyrics, I kept that bass groove going, on this song I’d written, and she kept dancing till I was done.
"Thank you!" I said."You made my day!"
She smiled up at me, said"Thank you! You made mine, too!"
There is nothing like playing out, wherever you can. Yeah, there are hassles, hang-ups, times when you’re thinking what was I thinking, when I signed up for this?!, open mics with the crowd so loud and so into whatever it is bar crowds get into other than the music—sports, each other, whatever.
But then there are moments. Someone will start dancing. Someone will follow you out into the parking lot when you leave and tell you that your song about…was the most moving….
And you are reminded once again, why you do this.
Let’s get together, Elks Lodge, October 7th, and once again remind each other why.
🎵 Back In The Elks Lodge, Again 🎵
What Was Old Is New Again
|Go ahead. Whistle it. To the tune of"Back In The Saddle, Again." It will help you remember where we're meeting in October and for the foreseeable future. Back In the Elks Lodge.
Old timers - those who have been with the Songwriter Summit for more than a year - will remember we used to meet at the Elks in Cuyahoga falls. Then we found a place that offered food and, like all good musicians, we followed our stomachs. Then that fell through and we ended up at a very nice library that looked like it could be our home for a while. It couldn't. The room wasn't available other than that one, glorious night.
So once again we went on the hunt. As all hunters do, we searched where we had had been successful in the past. That led to the Elks and that led us to check out their renovated meeting hall.
A New Look At The Elks Lodge Meeting Room
|Starting with the October meeting we will be back at the Elks for our monthly gatherings. The room has been freshened since we were there last. In addition, we're told that there might be food available and that there is always soup.
So here we go again. New (old) location. Same friendly faces. Be sure to be there. Where?
2555 State Road Cuyahoga Falls. We look forward to seeing you.
Join Us For Our Next General Meeting
October 7th at 7:00 PM
2555 State Rd, Cuyahoga Falls
More Fun With Modeling Technology:
The Line 6 Amplifi TT
|Two issues ago I reviewed the TC Helicon VoiceLive Rack. Last issue I reviewed the Line 6 Variax range of modeling guitars. In my review of the Variax, I quipped that modeling guitars are the gateway drug to modeling amps. So inhale deeply, sit back as we dive through the gateway and take a look at the Amplifi TT by Line 6.
Line 6 calls the TT a “Desktop Guitar Effects Processor.” The thing that drew me to the Amplifi range is that it can be controlled with a smart phone (Android or iPhone) or tablet using a free app (using Bluetooth). This is very convenient in performance—no messing about with a bunch of toe tapping like you’re doing the Cucuracha.
I could have gone with the one of Amplifi guitar amplifiers (30w, 75w or 150w) that can be controlled by the same app but I figured that I could run the Amplifi TT through any guitar amplifier—giving me app controlled multi effects capability. Also, it allowed for headphone practice where you can input something from your music library to play along to if you want.
The AMPLIFi TT from Line 6
|Here’s where we meet one of the cool features of the Amplifi app. You can, of course, use a mini plug to input your audio player into the TT when you want to play along with a song in your library. OR—you can sync the music library on your device (phone or tablet) to the app and it reads and plays music from your library.
This opens up another cool feature of the app: you can select a song from your library as found in the app and tell the app to look at the cloud where Amplif users have uploaded effects chains (presets) they have created for the song you have selected. For example, I did this for Across The Universe by the Beatles and came up with one preset that used a flanger and one that has a chorus. I downloaded them into the “My Tones” library on the app where I store the presets I create or ones I find using my library.
Here’s a look at “My Tones.”
|Here you can see the two versions of Across The Universe. At the bottom you can see I have a present for Sheryl Crow’s Soak Up The Sun. I looked for her song in the user cloud at Line 6 but no one had done one so I created this one. Let’s take at what I did for Soak Up The Sun so you can see how the app works.
|Here you can see the available effects at the top: Gate > Wah > Stomp > Amp/Cab > Comp(ression) > EQ > Vol > Mod(ulation) > Delay > Reverb. The bad news here is that you can only select one effect in each of those blocks (if you want more, you’ll have to pay up for something in the Line 6 Helix range).
When I selected this preset, it defaulted to the Amp/Cab setting—in this case, I selected “Tube Instrument Preamp.” I went with the default settings except volume—I have it at 100% for a gig I was playing.
The other effects used here are Compression, EQ and Mod. I used the default settings on both EQ and Compression.
|For the mod effect I couldn’t find a Tremelo in any of the menus and Sheryl’s guitar sounds like it uses tremolo. A fast chorus effect is about the same thing so I tried out some of the different chorus options and came up with this.
|For this song, this Analog Square Chorus sounded better that the stereo chorus option. I monkeyed around with the speed and depth until they sounded pretty close to the recording.
Other Features Of Note
If you look at the picture at the top of this article, you can see that several parameters, most notably volume, can be controlled on the front of the box as well as on the app.
What you don’t see here is that the unit comes loaded with a bunch of presets which give you a lot of options besides looking in the cloud or creating your own.
The preset “Variax Acoustic” was loaded on the unit and you can see from the My Tones picture above that I loaded it onto My Tones for easy access. I reviewed the Variax modeling guitar last issue and I can’t begin to tell you how amazing the Variax acoustic settings sound played though this preset. I’d tried the Variax acoustic on some of the other amp sounds but when I compared them to the Variax Acoustic preset on the Amplifi TT it was night and day. Not even close.
Some of you might prefer one of the amplifiers in the Line 6 Amplifi range. Whether you use one of these or go with the TT, you still have the option of controlling it with your hands by way of the Bluetooth-connected app. Maybe if I were more of a chimp, I’d prefer controlling everything with my feet. But I sure like how digital technology has allowed me to use the digits bequeathed me by evolution and save me the embarrassment of stumbling over a bunch of pedals.
My Favorite Open Mic Story
|Right off the bat let me explain that the names have all been changed to protect my friends. That said, let's begin.
A few years ago I was at an open mic out in the hinterlands of - oh, let's just call it - Ohio. It's a nice enough venue and the open mic is popular enough that those of us with a long way to travel usually let the host know we're coming so they (gender neutral pronoun to further stymie attempts to suss out details) can sort of hold a spot on the list in case everyone shows up before the list drops. It was such a night.
Many of the regulars I'd come to appreciate were there. Francine did a great set sounding a lot like a popular vocalist in a four piece group. (Yeah, I'm just not dropping any hints.) And there was a duo I'd heard before and sort of liked. And there were new faces and voices and that is what keeps me going out to these evenings of unscripted music.
But the highlight of the evening was a conversation I had with two of the musicians during a particularly long pause between sets.
They were brothers. One, Michael, had just done an amazing set of songs with some really nice fireworks on the guitar. It was clear that he had a jazz background and the talent he displayed just really awed me. As we were talking I mentioned that I was really impressed with his guitar work.
"I'm mostly," I told him,"a four chord kind of guy."
Without a moments hesitation his brother, Harry, an accomplished musician in his own right but one who arcs toward simpler, easier to grasp compositions, asked,"Four? What are the other two?"
I lost it.
Anyway, do you have a favorite memory of an open mic or performance? Write it up. Send it in. We're always looking for great stories about this business we call show.
Internet Find of the Month
Some Things Just Make You Smile
Our Next Meeting
|Our next meeting will be held on October 7th at The Elks Lodge, 2555 State Rd, Cuyahoga Falls. If you are presenting a song please bring 30 copies for distribution to the other attendees. Copies will be returned to you at the end of the meeting. You do not need to be a member to attend a meeting or bring us a song.
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Officers And Board Members
Member At Large
Member At Large
Member At Large
Member At Large
T. B. Announced, Jr.
Member At Large
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