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Author Topic:  New Plans, Youtube, Mickey
Mickey Adams


From:
Bandera Texas
Post  Posted 30 Jan 2012 1:29 pm    
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I will be adding another group to my online videos that will concentrate on the concepts associated with playing steel guitar in live situations..
I am now 53 years old and I can honestly say, Ive played with more absolutely mediocre bands, than I have REALLY good ones. In more and more situations I find myself totally intolerant when it comes to playing with: 1: Drummers that cant keep a beat, or know when and where to play, 2: Guitarists that have no clue what the term DYNAMICS means..3: Bands as a whole, that drown the vocals, as if its a volume competition....ETC...ETC...ETC...Im sure most of you can relate..
A common analogy of music is that every song is like a painting...If you use too much of one color..nuff said..You get it right???
As a steel player I think we are all striving for the same goals...Stop me if im wrong, but dnt we all want to be able to play entire songs melodically, and include speed, musical prowess, creativity, tone, definition, and emotion all in the span of 3 minutes or so. The fact is if you CAN do this, you've obviously reached a level of technical ability that will serve you well in the live venue arena.
But, this is usually confined to you playing at home, learning whole song melodies.. or at a convention...becasue in the live venue, you are ACCOMPANYMENT..You are the center of attention for brief periods, then you are part of the background structure of the song..
Unfortunately, most of the time, the rest of the band doesnt hear what you hear.
You have but to listen to any classic country song and you will find recurring formulas, for making the song work..Thes include but are not limited to..
1: A catchy, (usually based on the melody line) phrase by the intro treble instrument..ie: Steel, Piano, Guitar, Fiddle...
2:Rarely do you hear fills in the first verse
3:The fill instrument must be slightly louder than the rhythm section to stand out, and should be centered around the breaks in the vocal phrases (in most cases, its just as easy to try and get the band to CONTAIN thier volume so as to allow you to stand out, as opposed to beginning a continual escaltion in stage volume..
4: Dynamics create tension, and build to a climax in the song, and often (but not always) resolve themselves to a calming effect by the last verse, and the tag...Again, the DRUMMER should be the CUE to this...
3: The drummer should lead the charge, ALWAYS, toward turns, choruses, solos, and tags, and define the volumes required dynamically for the rest of the band to follow, by example..
Im sure we all agree that "country" music has changed drastically over the last few decades, but you can still find the same basic formulas in modern country...With these thoughts in mind, id like more input on the subject from all yous guys, and I will incorporate as many of your ideas that I can into my video series...Peace..Mick
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Wally Taylor

 

From:
Hardin, Kentucky, USA
Post  Posted 30 Jan 2012 2:28 pm    
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Excellent idea, Mickey, bring it on!!
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Lynn Fargo


From:
Fort Edward, NY
Post  Posted 30 Jan 2012 5:29 pm    
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Yay, Mickey!
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Billy Murdoch

 

From:
Glasgow, Scotland, U.K.
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2012 1:24 am    
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Well said Mickey,
I need all the help I can get with My steel chops but I guess I need greater help with My Karate chops if I am going to convice the Drummer that the ending of every song does not need the sound of a drum kit falling down a stair or to tell the lead guitar that the people in the club next door can only hear their heavy metal band when We take a break.
Keep up the good work Micky
See You at Dallas
Best regards
Billy
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Bob Hickish


From:
Port Ludlow, Washington, USA, R.I.P.
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2012 6:53 am    
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excellent idea Mick
The one thing that comes to mind is the common ground of the folks in any given band -- I think you can see my point in other fields - like the last Pro-boll foot ball game - all the players are the best of all the teems - but - when thrust together as a teem of there own , they look & play mediocre -- I guess you could say lacking the teem work that they had with the teem they trained with . Im sure this applies in a band situation as well .
Your on the mark with all the areas you pointed out - I had a friend call and tell me about a gig from hell he just played -- destroyed by the way the sound system was handled . even if a band is mediocre in nature there seems to be other areas that causes failure of any given band situation .

Just a thought
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Ken Adkins

 

From:
Galena, Mo
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2012 8:29 am     53
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You sure don't look like 53. I would have guessed around 40. That should get me a new mullen Hat. Ha
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Adair Torres


From:
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2012 10:22 am    
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Mickey, I totally agree with you. That's why I stopped playing live. Whether it's a small band or a great artist. The errors are the same. The noise is the same.
Congratulations on your initiative.

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Mickey Adams


From:
Bandera Texas
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2012 11:21 am     Afterthoughts
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After reading what I've written, it dawns on me...I think that most of us that have taken the exorbitant amount of time to learn the most complex instrument on the planet, are the ones that DO understand this concept. What we need is an educational series for the REST of the band???...LOL
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Adair Torres


From:
Sao Paulo, Brazil
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2012 12:32 pm    
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Mickey I was thinking about an intensive course: How to Play live without disturbing the rest of the band.
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Ron Pruter

 

From:
Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2012 12:32 pm    
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Great idea Mickey,
You might want to include ways to not want to kill the soundman. At the SWSGA show recently, Austin Stewart played an incredible set with a very entertaining Bluegrass/country band. Arguably the best part of the evening, but the volume was painful! People kept turning around and scouling at the soundman. I had to cock my head and keep a finger in my band facing ear the whole show. Painfully bright. RON

PS. The first and only time I played my steel on The Grand Old Opry, when it came to my solo, the sound man saw fit for it to sound like full fuzz tone/distortion. We "were" a bunch of Hippies, but was it an accident??
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Clete Ritta


From:
San Antonio, Texas
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2012 12:33 pm    
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Great points Mickey. Very Happy
Ive always said a band is only as good as their drummer (if there is one), haha. Drums really do cue intros, dynamics, turns, chorus, bridge, solos, endings, the whole nine. A band can easily follow the lead of a great drummer, or easily fall apart with a bad one. Once you play with a really good drummer, its harder to play with an average one. All those nuances you mentioned are gone.

Also the point about when not to play. Fills to me are much like a conversation with the singer in a question answer format. In other words, they cant both be talking at the same time! Laughing

As always, I look forward to your posts on YouTube. Very Happy

Clete
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Mickey Adams


From:
Bandera Texas
Post  Posted 31 Jan 2012 12:59 pm    
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Jim Lindsey and I just had a long conversation about the topics in this thread. He and I agree that first and foremost, any band needs a leader..just like any business. CEOs hold thier slots because they take thier companies into ever expanding, changing markets in order to stay profitable. Its MY Nature to never sit still...(any of my X-wives,hereafter reffered to as "plaintiff) will attest. This includes not "settling" on good enough...We always need to find ways to IMPROVE the band as a whole. We (us steel players)as individuals, begin this by practicing our own craft, in order to make a larger donation to the better good of the band as a whole. And after all that practice, the guitarist is so loud that he tells YOU to turn up...which youre not going to do...You're playing at a comfortable volume, and his ego is overpowering everything onstage..IF THE BAND WOULD JUST MANAGE THIER VOLUME AS A SINGLE UNIT with 4 or 5 voices, your life would be simple...and best of all, now that you can HEAR...YOU PLAY BETTER!!!!...what a win-win for eveyone..
If youre bandmates rush through rehearsals allowing technically BAD material to go un-edited...they DONT care, or they dont know better...This is where beginning a diplomatic push to organize, educate, and focus the TEAM makes a real difference..
A recent band I was in had 2 players that I could not deal with...A girl that sang flat most of the time, and a drummer thats idea of learning a song was listening to an MP3 on the way to rehearsal...no Notes, No tab, no talent..Didnt care...Still doesnt..
When I began stopping in the middle of songs, asking for them to dissect thier parts, and to improve them..(or just make them tolerable for Christs sake)...I got the cold shoulder...I eventually quit.
So where do we draw the line in the sand between TRYING to improve, and tolerating other musicians footprints on our faces all night..?
Hindsight is always 20-20, and I can say I would have done things differently if I had it to do over again. Like you, my time is valuable to me, and I dont want to waste any more it...Girls just wanna have fun...!! Laughing
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Bill Miller

 

From:
Gaspe, Quebec, Canada
Post  Posted 1 Feb 2012 9:45 am    
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I don't play drums but I imagine that like banjos, drums are very hard to play quietly. Maybe more drummers should use brushes, especially for slows.
The notion of mastering dynamics within a band is something that has interested me for a long time. But mostly any mention of it has drawn blank stares from my cohorts. It seems like a lot of bluegrass players really have dynamics down. The absence of drums may have a lot to do with that. Seeing that we are mostly just doing informal amateur night backup gigs these days, with an ever changing cast of singers, I don't even bother thinking about dynamics. But if I ever decide to put together another band with a formal set list, I'm only going to do it if I can get some musicians to allow me to be the bandleader. Careful attention would be paid to who is going play what parts and at what volumes. With very few exceptions the musicians I've played with in my non-professional career have steadfastly resisted any attempt at structure. In one way it's understandable since attention to detail is very time consuming and given the ever diminishing opportunities to play locally there's not much return for the time required to really get it right. Still, before I hang it up for good I'd like to make an effort with like-minded people, and see if we can produce something that we can truly be proud of.
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Clete Ritta


From:
San Antonio, Texas
Post  Posted 1 Feb 2012 10:45 am     Dynamics
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Its only hard for a bad drummer to play quietly with sticks! Laughing

One thing Ive noticed about bluegrass dynamics is that its often very similar to a good singers technique. Since the instruments are generally all acoustic, there are several mics on stage and the players leave a little distance between the mic. When it is their turn to solo, they simply step forward up to the mic. Several instruments can even share a single mic in this manner quite effectively!

This proximity effect is used by singers as well. When they are singing in a lower register and not "belting", they hold the mic right up to the mouth. Then as they go to a high register and really put a lot of lung power into it, they back the mic off about a foot or so. This is how a good singer controls their dynamics without needing a compressor/limiter, which actually reduces or limits the dynamic range.

Many amateur guitarists never use their volume or tone knobs, but rolling either back just a little is often all that is required to achieve it successfully. Dynamics really equals volume level (soft/hard : piano/forte). Fortunately for steel guitar, having a volume pedal enables dynamics easily. Playing at full volume all the time is like hogging the mic! Laughing

Clete
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CrowBear Schmitt


From:
Ariege, - PairO'knees, - France
Post  Posted 1 Feb 2012 11:25 am    
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Quote:
How to Play live without disturbing the rest of the band

i like that one !
here's a mail i got from a steeler in Calif, that had me laughin' :
You know in my 65 years I've come to know that most guitar players are egotistical wussy momma boys.
Most drummers are speed freaks and drunks.
most bass players spend more time in jail than on stage.
But I never have met a steel player that I didn't think was a decent, stand up dude.

all to often drummers & guitar players play too loud
it's recurrent w: a lot of bands that play blues, country & rock round here
Thank God though, there's always some kats, that know how to play right & kool
problem is, they're already booked up ! Winking
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Jerome Hawkes


From:
Fayetteville, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2012 6:00 am    
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i think the modern sound levels must also be a cause of this - i was recently at a restaurant where the band started at 10:00, after the dinner crowd. we were sitting at our table post meal having a beer and chatting. although we were a good 60ft from the band when they started it was ear splitting level to the point that we found ourselves screaming at each other across the table to even be heard. i have experienced this time and time again...small clubs (holes in the wall) that hold 50 people max and the band is pumping thru a PA fit for a thousand seat club.

i have come to realize that the louder the band/musician, usually the more amateur they are. i would say every good band/musicians i played with all LISTENED - they mixed themselves with the rest. Every sub-amateur (regardless of how many years they have been playing) musician ALWAYS listened to themselves first, as if the rest of us were there to back them up.
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Roger Miller


From:
Cedar Falls, Ia.
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2012 11:37 am    
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You know Mickey, I have done the Nashville thing for a few years, moved to Iowa to marry and play with guys and gals I really love. But we are one of the few working bands anymore being 7 pcs, I'm so tired of playing top 40 crap and want to move more into my steel guitar. Well I don't play it in the band but I'm seeing the dancers we are attracting are country dancers, and they take so much of our music then go home. It's good and well put together, It's just tiring to me. As of this week, we learned a Lady GAGA tune and you gotta love it, I'm sorry I don't. These guys I play with are great musicians but our selections of tunes just suck. Who ever thought of giving a drummer his own monitor, shoot him!!!!!!!!
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Rich Peterson


From:
Moorhead, MN
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2012 1:03 pm    
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In one band, I had to point out that the chairs in the club were placed facing each other around tables, not lined up facing the stage. That's because the people are more interested in talking than watching and listening to the band. And they pay the band.

Also, in one tiny bar years ago, I always got complaints that I was too loud, which was unusual. Finally realized it was because we were so crowded on the stage, I was almost standing on top of the drummer. So I was hearing to much of him and not enough of my amp.
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Robert Jenkins

 

From:
Massachusetts, USA
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2012 2:47 pm    
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Q: How do you get a drummer to play more quietly?
A: Put a chart in front of him.
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Ron Pruter

 

From:
Arizona, USA
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2012 3:48 pm    
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Electric drums seem to be a good alternative in the churches. Very controlable but drummers don't like them because hitting those hard pads as hard as they are use to hitting them, really starts to hurt your hands and wrists. Also, the cymbols aren't the greatest. RP
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Clyde Mattocks

 

From:
Kinston, North Carolina, USA
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2012 4:23 pm    
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I have always found that the guy making the most mistakes will be the loudest person in the band.
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Michael McCoig

 

From:
Killen, Alabama, USA
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2012 5:15 pm    
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im a Bass player. About 10 years ago, I worked at a Theater in Pigeon Forge, TN. The stage volume was so loud you couldn't think!!! I stood beside the drummer's crash cymbal and he loved showing me how to use it! I only used a wedge monitor and no amp. I had to get the sound guy to take everything out of my monitor. I had him change the EQ and take all the lows out and all i had in the monitor was Hi-Hat and my Bass. i wore shooters ear plugs for the rest of the season and i could still think after the show!
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Johnny Cox

 

From:
Lives in Hallettsville Texas
Post  Posted 2 Feb 2012 7:05 pm    
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Now you know why I like playing in bands with steel, fiddle, bass & drums. Guitar players for the most part think its thier job to make a four peice band sound like an eight peice band. I hate, (yes I used the word hate) that. But I will disagree with you one one point, in traditional country music recordings (prior to Jimmy Bowen) you almost always hear fills in the first verse.
Very Happy
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Mickey Adams


From:
Bandera Texas
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2012 7:48 am    
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Some interesting responses in this thread already and Id hoped there would be....
Johnny, I was talking a gentleman just the other day about the bands in TX that play without a guitar player..Which he thought was absurd of course...and there are several, one of which is your current band...I think a few doses of structured country music void of guitar would be an effective lesson for any guitarist that thinks he needs to be center of attention..
I also agree that guitarists think they NEED To overplay...And I was one of them..It took me a long time to realize that its senseless to try to reproduce a studio mix by trying to play every guitar part that is sewn together by the engineer, onstage..
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Dick Sexton


From:
Greenville, Ohio
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2012 9:00 am     A good thing...
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I once saw an article on bandstand etiquette. Spoke of your very concerns... But lost it in a computer crash.

My offerings... And what I need.
The dynamics of silence.
Breaking bad habits.
When not to play.

Mickey I'll be looking forward to seeing your perspectives...
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