Band Personality


Band Personality

I told you in my About Page that I’m in a band. I’m actually in several bands.

Sometimes when I step back and take a really objective look at the different bands, it’s a pretty educational and enlightening experience.

I think that people, me included, tend to think of bands as pretty straightforward and symmetrical. I’m not sure why I used the word symmetrical, but to me it means that everything is in balance and is the same. In other words, we tend to think of bands as just similar entities to each other.

I have found that this is pretty far from the truth.

The bands that I’m in all have very different personalities. I don’t mean just the personalities of the band members, but the personalities of the bands as a whole.

Granted, the personalities of the bands as a whole are a reflection of the personalities of the members and especially of the band leader. So the bandleader’s personality does definitely color the personality of the band as a whole.

I’m in a band that has a very fun and laid-back personality. Sometimes we have practices before gigs and sometimes we don’t. We all get a set-list by email and then I get acquainted with it and then I just show up and play. The lead vocalist and lead guitarist kind of makes the songs his own, often dropping measures or series of measures, and we and the rest of the band just follow him.

We have been doing Lee Greenwood’s song, Proud to Be an American. There’s a part in the original song where the vocals are held out for like three or four measures. In our version and our band, our bandleader just chops off that whole section and jumps right into the next line.

Stuff like that used to drive me crazy, but now I just kind of roll with it. It’s a low-key, informal band, and we have a lot of fun together. We get gigs regularly in local restaurants and bars around town. We tend to just fly by the seat of our pants. The thing I like about this band is that I’m free to experiment a bit and be creative with the lines in the song because of the informal personality of the band.

I’m in another band where this sort of informal approach would not fly at all.

This is a band that talks about being professional, meaning that we have rehearsals before we have gigs, and we show up for the rehearsals prepared. Prepared means knowing the music and having our particular parts completely ready. There’s no guesswork and no varying from the way the original recording has been done.

I’m in another band that is also a professional band but takes it to a truly professional level. In this band we get the set-list far ahead of the gig and the set list does not ever change significantly. We run through the shows from top to bottom over and over and we work out the details of each song so that every musician knows that song backwards and forward. This means that when we are on stage, we all know the music so well that we’re freed up to just have fun and engage in the experience. We can move around stage because nobody is stuck to looking at their chart on their iPad or whatever.

The music is basically all memorized and everybody knows exactly what they’re doing. The personality of that band is high energy and high-performance. We all sometimes make mistakes but we are all good enough musicians that we can basically cover it and just move on like the mistakes didn’t happen.

So all of these bands are different playing experiences for me. I like most of them.

One band that is the semi-professional one is the only band that I frequently think about ditching. That’s because I get so many revisions of the set list that it’s ridiculous. And then we don’t usually allocate enough practice time to really get the music down before we do a gig.

So it often feels messy and not professional at all. So that has been an education to me, just observing how different bands function and what my comfort level is with the functionality of each band.

Just Do It

Sometimes I digress from the topic of music, and this is one such digression article.

I’m going to write about plastic surgery today because it’s been a front-brain thing for the past couple of weeks.

One of my close friends—I’ll call him Rob—has had some body issues since he was a kid. He recently started looking into getting some plastic surgery done so that he can be free of the self-consciousness surrounding the issues.

He searched Google for plastic surgeons near me and plastic surgeons Orlando and best plastic surgeons central FL.

He found a number of results. He went to each practice’s website and looked at the services each one provided. He found that most of them offered both offered cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery.

Reconstructive surgery included specific procedures such as breast reduction, breast reconstruction, tissue expansion, cleft lips and palates, etc. Cosmetic surgery covered procedures like body lifts, fat reduction, facial balance, breast augmentation, breast surgery, etc.

Rob looked at all of that information and then checked into other aspects of plastic surgery: plastic surgery prices, plastic surgery facts, plastic surgery statistics, and plastic surgery photos. Of course he also came across pictures of plastic surgery gone wrong.

All of that information served him well as he started to explore the options available to him. Then he went to a couple of practices and checked out the facilities and spoke with the staff and the surgeons.

Armed with his research, he selected one plastic surgeon and decided to take the plunge and have the elective surgery done. His wife was totally supportive, as were his kids.

The procedure took several hours and the recovery took a lot longer. He was actually in the hospital for two nights after the surgery; he had some complications, I guess. Then he was released to go home, and the rest of his recovery took place there.

I talked to Rob a few days ago and he told me that he’s pretty much back to normal after the surgery. It was like talking to a different person. He seemed so excited and also so relieved. I could tell that having the surgery had lifted a weight off his shoulders and really freed him up to enjoy life more and engage in activities that before the surgery he hadn’t been able to do.

It made me happy for Rob that he had made the decision to just go for it. Seeing how happy he was with the results got me thinking about other people I know who struggle with body issues. If they ever asked my opinion, I’d tell them to do what Rob did and just go for it. Get a surgery done to correct those areas, and then be free of self-consciousness for the rest of their lives.

Anyway, that’s my digression article. Back to music with the next blog!

Kitchen Strategy

organized kitchen

Kitchen Strategy

I recently moved into a house that I’m sharing with another person. Specifically, I mean that I’m renting rooms in a house that someone else owns. The person has lived in this house for about seven years and organization is not his strong suit.

Actually I think he’s the kind of person that really likes for things to be organized but doesn’t have the attention span or adequate interest in making the organization happen.

So when I moved in, I was given free reign to reorganize however I wanted to. It took me a bit of time to believe that the homeowner was serious about that. I also had a couple of false starts.

In one of my organizing sprees, I moved a bunch of things that I had been told not to move. I didn’t remember that I had been told not to move those things. What I did wasn’t malicious or intending to assert my own control. Nevertheless, my moving the things I had been told not to move caused the homeowner great distress. I understood why after he explained it and I felt very badly about doing that and causing him so much stress.

It was an education in how to go forward in the reorganizing and moving of things around his house. I understood at the point that some things I needed to be very careful about in how I moved them and what I did with them.

The kitchen needed a lot of reorganizing. I went through the kitchen and reorganized the cabinets and the drawers and then put up sticky notes on the fronts of the cabinets and drawers with the contents written on them. The idea was that while we were all learning where things were in their new places, that the sticky notes would reduce the guesswork.

So this article is about how to organize a kitchen.

Your main traffic area in the kitchen as a cook is the area between the sink and the stove and the fridge.

So when you’re thinking about what to put where, you want to put your most often used items—both food items and utensil type items—close to that triangle area.

I put the pans close to the oven in the base cabinet. I also put small appliances in a corner base cabinet close to the oven. Utensils for cooking are in drawers that flank the oven with some in crocks on top of the counter.

The wall cabinets above the stove and around the microwave contain all food items. The bottom shelves are soups, honeys, peanut butter, teas, and coffee. The second shelves up contain pastas and canned goods. The top shelf contains cereals, proteins, and bulk items.

The corner cabinet close to the stove contains spices on the bottom shelf, oils, vinegars and the like on the second shelf, and more bulk items on the top shelf.

The wall cabinet to the right of the sink contains mugs and glasses on the bottom shelf, more glasses on the middle shelf, and on the top shelf, wine glasses and miscellaneous glassware.

The wall cabinet to the left of the sink contains large plates and small plates on the bottom shelf, bowls on the second shelf, and larger bowls and miscellaneous ceramics on the top shelf.

In the cabinet next to that there is coffees, candles, and cookbooks, all in the wall cabinet over the coffee pot and the Keurig.

To the left of the sink is a base cabinet that contains baking supplies and snacks. Next to that a base cabinet contains large pans, bowls, and casserole dishes. Over from that is the base cabinet that contains storage containers and baking pans.

Above these shelves are drawers that contain silverware, napkins, towels, clips, mitts, and ties.

That is the bulk of the kitchen. In additional cabinets are dog chews and pet supplies, pictures, bases, crockpots, and tools.

Hopefully you can use this as a rough guide as you set out to organize your kitchen!

My Process

garrett on guitar

After a number of years of being in bands and preparing for gigs, I finally have a prep process down that seems to work for me. I’m going to share it here with you in case you’re struggling to find a process.

Step One:

As soon as I get a set-list for an upcoming gig, I will sit down and in a session that usually lasts an hour or more, pull up all of the charts and all of the audio files. Sometimes audio files aren’t provided, and in that case I’ll pull up a YouTube video.

For this step, I have to make sure that if I’m pulling up the YouTube video, that it’s the right one for the song that we’re doing. There are variations of original songs, there are live versions, and there are often covers. So part of my step one is confirming with the band leader that the YouTube video that I’m going to be working from is actually the version that he or she has in mind to do. It sucks to prepare for a song, show up at a rehearsal, and discover that I have been practicing with the wrong version.

Step Two:

After I have pulled up the charts and gotten all of the audio files in one place, then I start listening to the music. I create a folder with all of the audio files and YouTube videos so that I can listen through the playlist sequentially and without stopping. I’ll usually listen through the playlist once unless there are brand-new songs, in which case I’ll listen to those a couple of times.

Step Three:

My third step is to listen carefully for my particular part in the music. So if you are a keyboard player, then you would isolate your part in the recording. You would figure out at that point if you’re going to be playing pads in a certain section, or piano, or if you’ll be filling in with some other line—like a cello line or something that would require you to have that patch on your keyboard.

Or if you’re a guitar player, you’d listen for which guitar part you are responsible for.

So step three is that I listen to the recordings and isolate my part.

Step Four:

I listen again with my part in mind while I’m looking at my chord chart. I will make notations on the chord chart so that I know what I’m playing where. At this point also if I have a riff that I’m responsible for, I’ll start learning that riff. If I have to write it out, that is the point where I will also sit down with my instrument and my notation platform, and actually commit the riff to paper or to a digital file. Then I will start practicing the riff.

Step Five:

Step five is to sit down with the recording and the chord chart that I have already made my notes on and play through the song, including the riffs, to the best of my ability. I will play through several times then walk away and leave the practice session.

Step Six:

I will come back and try to remember my parts without listening to the recording. In other words, I will play through the chart with no recording running in the background and I will include my riffs and all parts that I’m responsible for as I’m playing through it.

Step Seven:

I will play again with the recording to confirm that I have everything correct and that I have the timing right and the riffs right, the entries right, and the kicks and stops and breaks all correct. I also will confirm that I have the structure of the song written down correctly and that I know exactly where I’m going in the song and when.

I do that process until it’s time for rehearsal and then I go to rehearsal feeling prepared.

Hope that helps!