An Ever Increasing Depth Chart

Perhaps the toughest part about this project is going to be motivating several people around the country.  I am dedicated to completing this, but if I need a specific part done with short notice I have to hope that someone in another timezone is available to lay down some tracks.

Check out the map to see our current distribution.

hooray for internets!

One remedy to this difficulty: keep on recruiting more musicians.  Redundancy is key!  If one musician is unavailable, then hopefully the next can take the reigns. I already have 2 banjo players, 2 bassists, 4 guitarists, and as of today, I have 2 new mandolinists!

I’d like you to welcome to the project Ann and Rob.

I met Ann through a friend at work.  We were discussing the project and my current need for a mandolin player, and she said “hey my sister can play, you should talk to her!”  I then learned that Ann also plays the violin!  Long story short, Ann was a shoo in.  Great to have her on board.

Rob is a fellow bandmate of Dan in The Hollows.  He has a great voice and definitely knows how to handle his mandle.  (I take full credit for that one.)  I met him at the last show I went to and he seems excited about being involved.  This is great!

And last but not least, we have another female vocalist on the roster.  I met Nicole at Michigan State University a few years ago after “rescuing” her from an apparently sketchy party.  Somehow we eventually got to discussing music and she sang a little tune for me.

From that moment, I decided that I must someday collaborate with her!  And now, I think we have the perfect voice for Abram’s wife.  Have a listen for yourself and check out the song Two Whys here.  She is actually releasing a CD very soon with her friend, check them out!

Cover art for Nicole’s Album “Us”

Things are looking good!  Of course a few more people couldn’t hurt…

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First Blood

So I showed the blog to my friend Phil the other day, and this is what he had to say:

“this is interesting. but, i mean… all this theory is sorta meaningless until you start recording”

And I thought, Wow. Spot on, Phil. Spot on.

So, as it went, I decided that it was time to sit down and record my first attempt at blackgrass, or bluemetal, or… whatever we’re doing here. I strapped on my electric guitar, and plugged it into one of these:

the Line6 POD X2. it's for people who can't afford amps.

and out to a macbook with garageband.  This is not the best setup, as you will plainly hear.  The tone is awful and there are all sorts of static and crackling.  I will be looking into other options, and soon.

Anyhow, here is the progression I started with:

It’s almost kind of bluesy/jazzy, but then again, bluegrass was influenced by jazz.  There are indeed many similarities between the genres.  Please keep in mind that this is also recorded on electric guitar.  I’ll definitely be doing this on acoustic guitar when we get closer to a final version. Needless to say, it wasn’t bluegrass enough for me, so I added some ukulele.  I know, I know, that’s not bluegrass either.  However, if you play the ukulele with a pick (usually a no-no) it almost sounds like a mandolin.  I strummed away on the 2’s and 4’s, and this is what I got:

Ok…better. We’re definitely getting there, but something is missing.  The guitar and uke put out plenty of highs, but we need to balance them out with a strong low end.  Andrew is the bluegrass bass player here, but for right now, I just used a midi keyboard to play what I thought was a bluegrassy bassline.  I’m no expert, so you’ll have to let me know what you think.

The player below will take you through the three tracks in succession, which is pretty neat.  The last one has the bass line added (use headphones.)

I think that makes all the difference!  We have a full spectrum of sound and a fun little progression to work with, good deal. It clearly needs percussion too, but this recording is way off tempo and thus unusable for recording drums.

"Always use a metronome, kids!"

Anyhow, I added an intro to create some tension/build up (this may also allow for some dialogue.)  Distorted electric guitar was also necessary in the middle so we can bring in the black metal. To spice things up a bit, I also sprinkled in some uke here and there. Our new friend atleastimhousebroken mentioned on this blog that he liked the tremolo guitar in our experimental track. Just for him, I brought that back in ukulele form at minute 1:21!  Finally, I added some more uke picking at the end… I think we really need a mandolin player

Without further ado, here is the first official Blood and Banjos rough draft (whatever that means.)  My apologies for the abrupt ending…I still have to figure out where to take this song!

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