Matt Richards Group at Taste of Woodbridge 10/8/10. Matt guitar; Adrian Valosin - drums; Chris Lough - upright bass
…steadily, though not as quickly as I prefer. The group was even better at the private date in Woodbridge NJ (which took place in a Knights of Columbus hall with, believe it or not, great acoustics!). There was no way to get the Tascam up and running as we were on a stage facing the audience. We almost didn’t need amplification…. I did play the Hagstrom Viking and fell in love with it once again. (I guess my mid-life crisis with guitars is better than a crisis with fashion models and I’m sure my wife agrees….)
I am in the planning stages of putting together instructional videos — armed with my trusty Kodak Zi8 I am actually trying to plan these things out and have my son do the behind/next-to the camera work. I will send out email blasts (If you’re not on the list go to http://MattRichardsMusic.net and sign up!).
I’m not a great fan of Verizon — while there are the political reasons (they did allow the Bush adm to access private phone records at their leisure) their service is pretty miserable. We’ve had intermittent service since we moved in July. You pick up the phone and more than 75% of thee time it’s static in the receiver. After no fewer than six calls and ‘on-site’ service they determined the problem was in an old line about one block away and switched the wires over to another relay. In the meantime I’ve had some up-and-down time with the DSL and a number of emails have been tucked away by when they couldn’t be sent. Of course, I just discovered them and now have to re-send and apologize with the ‘Verizon excuse’. (Interestingly, one of the parties who received a follow-up told me he had no internet service due to phone line problems with the big V and my apologetic email was the first he’d gotten in two days!)
The next major question: Steel strings or nylon?
I’ll be back with more…..
…but it seems I’m posting everywhere most days and, in the end, something gets overlooked. When I’m expressing myself in a more personal way my tendency is to get the professional items out of the way first (contracts, press releases, etc.) — to be honest these things are easier to do. While I generally drive myself a bit crazy whenever I write something, I’ve gotten the ‘promotional approach’ together and can minimize the anxiety for the most part. Writing a first-person account of my activities is another thing….
Well, several performances have come and gone; the most visible was the Taste of Woodbridge with the group last Friday evening. This is an annual event which we been featured on for the past three years and it’s great. It seems the township of Woodbridge wants us to play the way we prefer to play with the energy and complexity that (I hope) is our trademark. My son did shoot some video footage, but the ever-moving crowd of attendees walked in front of the camera too often and, while that’s a professional hazard in these sort of gigs, it does get tedious. We’re going through the footage, nevertheless, and may post at least one tune. The group sounds exceptional (in my humble and un-biased opinion) and we’ll be working on live sound and video recordings as much as possible. In addition to a private event in Woodbridge NJ next week the group will be at the Kimmel Center on November 12th for a free performance on the ground floor lobby. I had the opportunity to perform last year as a solo on the same bill as Flamenco virtuoso Paco Pena — I am so glad to be able to bring the group in this time. The Kimmel is Philly’s Regional Performing Arts Center and, in addition to being physically impressive, it’s a great venue with a great staff.
My favorite solo venue Avril is still on hold — I’m hoping we’ll have that moving forward again soon.While it’s become a catch-all phrase, the economy is strangling a lot of small and not- so-small businesses. Christian and April are working very diligently to establish their restaurant and, being a small-business proprietor, I do understand. I’ve lost quite a few festival dates this year due to reduced or non-existent budgets.
The almost-CD is still in post production — I’m having problems with the sonic integrity of my studio environment (Professional-sounding, yes?) and it’s almost impossible to EQ and tweak and do all the necessary things when your listening space isn’t just right. I know I’m famous for laboring over the albums for weeks beyond reason…. One weekend I’ll just sit down and get it done.
Also, in the event that the Lab L3 is still of interest to anyone (if you recall, Matt had achieved one of his dreams by locating a pristine single-speaker version of his much-loved Lab amplifiers — however, the evil powers at FedEx intervened and dashed our hero’s dreams by dropping the well-packed container containing the magical amp from a fantastic height and literally cracking the front panel allowing the speaker to become a free and unattached party in this fiasco). I’ve disassembled the amp and rebuilt the front panel with cross-beam style reinforcements (Lowe’s employees are now my friends) and will, hopefully, screw and glue everything in place this weekend and power it up, It actually sounds great with the speaker connected lying on the floor, so I can only imagine what the end result will be….
Man, am I long-winded? I’ll post more a bit later.
… a lot during the past two nights, really pushing Summer out quickly. That season seemed a lot longer when I was younger, plenty of time to get things done. Maybe I was doing less (?)
Nevertheless, it looks like Avril is coming back on the schedule. In addition to being too short on time, Summer is always too short on business, especially in Philly. Being a very new business, the restaurant struggled thru the warm season and the owners are looking forward to bringing things back to speed for the Fall. I’ll probably be returning for my solo Saturday evenings beginning 9/25. It’s not listening room, unfortunately, as it seats about 40 in total and it’s BYOB — but Christian has a great menu and knows how to prepare it. The food is French bistro-style with a hint of northern Italian and the room is small, relaxed and friendly. Check it out: http://AvrilBYOB.com. Worth the trip even if I’m not playing….
Looking forward to seeing Preston Reed this Saturday at PSALM in the Overbrook section of Philly. Since he’s moved to the UK he doesn’t show up stateside much so this is rare. I’ll be on my way up from a gig in Delaware so I may be a bit overdressed….
We did have a great gig at Witherspoon Grilll in Princeton — a bit light in attendance (post-holiday, after all) we kept pushing the music throughout the night. I am getting very comfortable with the Cort-Steinberger on the group gigs. It may not be what comes to mind for a jazz musician to use but it plays easy and sounds just like my Hagstroms….! Still dealing with mid-life guitar crisis.
About time I slept. Actually indulged in some TV programs via DVD, namely Moonlight — great series with great storylines and acting. I’m not a vampire fan but this was an intelligent, well-produced show. Canceled after less than one season, I believe, which puts it up there with Firefly, Invasion, Jericho…. rare TV shows that weren’t homogenized templates week after week. I guess reality TV has an impact and numbers (of viewers) speak louder than quality……
Until next time, stay well.
… you’re probably saying as you see this long-absent blog posting. Quite honestly, a lot of things have been foremost in my consideration. I can, however, put some blame for my usual delay in doing these on Verizon - it seems that our phone line has gone screwy five times in two months. We get this miserable loud hum on the line, cannot hear a thing and the DSL works intermittently. (There’s always some mystery as to how it starts working again - they just say “The problem has cleared up. Call us if it happens again.” While my timeliness is suffering in terms of my communications, I have managed to catch up on the long-neglected bookwork (as in ledgers and figures and receipts) and house maintenance.
Dates are falling into the calendar as I speak; I’m doing several private gigs during September and the Group is back at Witherspoon Grill. October gets a bit more in the swing with two Group dates in Woodbridge NJ (our favorite city on the east coast). Of course, I will be at NAMM again in January 2011 - last year was a blast and my son has agreed to travel along (no arm twisting needed). He’s going to be my official videographer for the trip — last year I was always too early or too late to get recorded during a performance. (Of course, he may end up chronicling the USA Bikini Team when they march through the main hall….)
The live recordings are sitting happily on/in a hard drive - I’m not getting the optimum conditions to do the EQ and post-production in terms of sound. Then again, it may be a convenient excuse…. I always suffer through production and post-production of my CDs. In the studio the clock is ticking and the cash is flowing so I reluctantly push myself forward. At home, however, it’s a different matter, thought he productions costs are much lower.
On the technical end I’ve just procured a long-sought-after Lab L3 amplifier (1X12, 60W) via Ebay. I’ve pursued several during the last few months and always have some sly fox flip an outrageous bid in at the last 15 seconds. Last night was different. I’ve used the L5 (2X12, 100W) since they first came out and currently have two. With the smaller venues I’m currently playing the single 12” speaker version is perfect. Interestingly, the Lab amps, which were designed and manufactured my Moog Industries, are always undervalued in terms of wattage. The older L5 clocks in around 150W. (That’s also the one that flipped out of a van and end-over-end right before we opened for National Health - it worked perfectly at the gig and only needed the reverb tank replaced about five years later.)
I’m also hitting some of the local jam sessions here in Philly. It’s the first time in about ten years and I’m enjoying it, especially finding the songs I still need to learn.
I’ll post more soon.
… letting time slip by between postings. But it has been pretty busy in general: I’m wrapping up another homeschool year with my son and preparing to move and performing with student concerts and practicing with the classical guitar — in fact, I actually played it on my gig at Avril this past Saturday. Amazingly, I received more compliments and more resounding applause than ever before (FYI, this is while people are eating their dinner) and I can honestly say that both the guitar and my playing chops came together Saturday evening.
I’ve been a bit hesitant to approach this instrument with confidence, especially since I’m so acclimated to the Lowden steel-string. The LaPatrie guitars are a bit stiff-feeling acoustically, but that seems to work out once they’re plugged in. Most classical instruments that I’ve played change in dynamics when you use their piezo pickups. In fact, when I first used this LaPatrie live I used a mic and a tube preamp and got a fantastic live sound. However, using a mic in a small setting carries its own list of problems…. sometimes a compromise must be reached.
While I used high tension Savarez Corum/Cristal strings for Saturday I just restrung with a set of LaBella high tension 2001s and the guitar really seems to be waking up. Then again, this is probably all just a phase I’m going through — mid-life guitar crisis(?) I do appreciate the assistance I received from Godin in getting this guitar for what was a one-time performance. I admit I was tempted to go with a Godin ACS or Duet, but I figured I needed a full acoustic to play Recuerdos de la Alhambra and some of the pieces I contracted to do for that performance. I can’t handle the very strict classical material with a steel string so….. perhaps I just had to have a new guitar to make myself feel better (?) Whatever the reason I am enjoying the detour for the time-being but I do miss the steel string dynamics…..
With the preparations to move foremost in my consideration I need to put the new CD on hold for several weeks. I’m planning on just sinking my teeth into it once we’re settled in and surprising everyone with a speedy release (Famous last words uttered many times before!).
I’ll be continuing with the Avril dates through the summer for as long as they go — visit me on Facebook at the Matt Richards fan page (http://facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Matt-Richards-guitarist/31968599234?ref=ts) and the Matt Richards Group fan page (http://facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Matt-Richards-Trio/45588045676?ref=ts) for up-to-the-minute information.
Until next time stay cool (literally and figuratively) and safe and I’ll post again soon.
..since I sat down to post something. Things have been moving along rather steadily and between reviewing over fifty tracks from the Crossroads Cafe gigs in March and re-learning my classical repertoire for a private booking (Recuerdos de la Alhambra anyone?) I’ve been short on time and focus to record my thoughts and observations.
The live tracks are coming along — I followed my habit of letting new recordings sit a while before listening. I am amazed by the recording quality of the Tascam DR-1. Two of the dates were recorded with the internal mics and two with one condenser mic (MXL 991). Talk about quality! I am very impressed with these recordings — the only down-side is the espresso machine that kicks in during quieter moments. In several places I need to decide if it detracts from the end result or if it adds authenticity to the live setting.
I also ended up using the same MXL mic for the private wedding booking Saturday evening. The pickup in my new LaPatrie is being temperamental in balance and overall sound, so I braved using a mic and preamp and it worked. In fact it was the best classical sound I’ve ever had. (Though this doesn’t mean I’ll be playing more classical guitar in the future.)
I’m heading in to the Witherspoon Grill with the Group Tuesday with Chris Lough on bass along with Adrian Valosin on drums. This one’s always worth the trip to Princeton NJ as the WG is a great place for food and drink (as well as music). They really support live jazz every Tuesday and we get some serious playing in, to be sure. I may play a solidbody guitar again (which is getting to be a habit now….).
Of course I’ll return to Avril this Saturday, 5/22, for my weekly solo guitar feature. This is a wonderful restaurant - small, relaxed dining room with great food and ambiance. And I’ll be playing the Lowden…..
Except for a very occasional loss of traction, I keep making progress and keep my determination revitalized every day. I hope you’ll get the chance to stop by in person or on the website.
Until the next time….
I don’t do a lot of solo restaurant dates anymore — even the most elegant settings prove to be noisy and few are interested in featuring anything other than lounge-esque renditions of standards and old pop tunes (think 80’s). Perhaps I’ve just had some bad experiences…
Avril is different — the husband and wife owners are both artistically-driven and interested in bringing something different to their patrons. The relaxed atmosphere and easy feel of the room proves a great fit for my playing. While I do turn it down just a bit from my concert-level intensity, I still approach with the inventiveness that I want to bring to my playing. The response from the dining audience was amazing — I had more compliments throughout the evening than I’ve ever gotten in a dinner setting. I will be returning next week with consideration for additional dates in the upcoming months.
Check out the website: http://avrilbyob.com. The menu is French and a la carte and it’s BYOB — it’s the perfect place for a special celebration where you can bring your own wine/beverage of choice.
In the broader view I’m still combing through the tracks from Crossroads, dealing with many hours and several versions of a tune. The improvs are easy, though, as they’re different each time and either good or bad. I’ll probably get tose done first and post them int he next week or so. I always feel like I’m giving birth to a new lifeform when I work on recordings. In a way, I guess I am (or I’m reading way too much sci-fi….).
See you all soon.
I played the last of my month-long Sunday afternoon gigs at Crossroads Cafe in Philly today. No, it wasn’t a pace-setting big ticket booking (I knew that when I booked it) but it gave me a unique opportunity to bring my music out to the same environment each week and tweak it and take chances with it that I usually won’t do. I also recorded each date which gives me a lot of music to review, consider and sweat over. I would like to release a live solo CD and this has worked exactly as I wished.
This is a great setting for acoustic-based music — singer/songwriters are usually featured, so I did manage to change the pace a bit. The staff is very accommodating and they have a great menu and superb dark roast coffee (Forbidden Drive Dark, named after an actual stretch of graveled footpath along the Wissahickon Creek). I would like to book there again, possibly in May for another month of Sundays. These are sort of opportunities that Philly sorely lacks and I’d like to cultivate this (and others) not only for myself but for other solo instrumental players so the listening public can be further acquainted with the capabilities of solo guitar.
Now I get to shift gears a bit and PLUG IN for my show with the Matt Richards Group at Chris’ Jazz Cafe on April 5th. Yes, I did type PLUG IN….. it’s time for another step in the development of this trio. The archtop will be at home….