Once again, I attended a night of talented singer-songwriters in a Nashville-style round, where four performers do four songs each in turn. What makes this kind of setup amazing is when the performers backup each other with guitar or harmony vocals.
The great thing about the Nashville-style setup is the interplay between the artists. In particularly, Augusta Ray lent her sweet country voice to other performers on stage. As well, Paul Malysa prompted the audience for random key words and improvised a song on the fly, with backup vocals by Augusta. It was a fun night and a privilege to hear such talented singers and songwriters.
I took photos of the performers, and offered to share high-resolution copies with the artists.
I recently purchased a new medium telephoto lens for my camera and put it to the test with photographing a couple of live music events. I enjoyed a “songwriters in the round” event at 120 Diner in Toronto. I already knew three of the performers, and got to meet and hear several new ones.
Beige Shelter was playing a show at Skeaky Dee’s, and I took photos of bands The Thick, The Cashews, and singer-songwriter David Dino White. For this show, the stage was bathed in a very bad blue light, so I converted the photos to black and white in post-production.
For another Beige Shelter show, I took photos of supporting acts Brian Sasaki and Wilson & The Castaways. The show was a great success at the Amsterdam Bicycle Club in Toronto.
The new lens is great for capturing sharp photos in low light. I find the keys to great photos on stage are using spot metering and adjusting the focus point as you shoot. I like to capture high emotional moments in the performances and where possible, get them with their eyes open. Framing with odd angles also adds a cool dynamic.
My singer-songwriter friend Jeff Greenway invited me to a BS Fridays music showcase at the Cameron House in August. I was pleased to also see Melanie Peterson‘s name on the bill. Melanie is also a friend and a very talented singer-songwriter.
All of the performers were unique and talented, and one singer-songwriter, new to me, really impressed. Don Campbell‘s performance had a great rock energy, and his songs were catchy and well written. I introduced myself to Don after his performance, and told him about Song Talk Radio. I also purchased one of his CD’s, Sail the Grateful Way. I took a cue from another fan of his and had him sign the album insert with a generic personal message like “Neel, thanks for the support! Enjoy the album.” (You can’t expect a personal message from someone you just met.)
After I got home that night, I realized I didn’t have his CD with me. I must have left it on a table at the venue and neglected to put it in my bagsatchelman purse messenger bag. I immediately messaged Melanie, who was one of the event organizers, to see if someone perhaps turned it in to her. No luck.
The next day, I contacted Don on Facebook and conveyed my woes. Don was very understanding, and graciously offered to give me a free replacement CD!
It took some back and forth, but last week we met for coffee and Don gave me another CD, again signed with a generic personal message. We shared a great conversation about performing, songwriting, and other stuff.
As for the person who snatched up my original purchase, you got some great music for free. And every time you open the CD you’ll see my name and remember what you did.
As part of the band Beige Shelter (drums, percussion), we played our biggest show yet at the historic Lee’s Palace. The crowd was receptive, enthusiastic and supportive. Of course, since this was a “real” concert venue, the stage lights made it almost impossible to see anyone in the audience. But we know what we heard.
The Beige Shelter line up is: Adi Aman (songs, guitar, uke, vocals), Neel Modi (drums, percussion), Tom Kuczynski (bass guitar), and Karan Sabharwal (lead guitar).
I’m thankful to be playing with such talented musicians and Adi’s songs are passionate, heartfelt, and even spiritual. This is music in fine form.
I’ve been playing drums and percussion for a while for singer-songwriter Adi Aman, aka Beige Shelter. The band name comes from Adi’s feeling that the colour beige is neutral and can express a wide range of emotions, and music being the place of shelter where he can best express them.
I started my collaboration with Adi as his producer. We’ve worked through twelve songs for his debut album release later this year. He expressed an interest in performing more to promote the album and get his music heard. I volunteered to back him up on percussion. So far I’ve played a drumkit when it’s available, and also cajon and shaker. In the future, we hope to rope in a bassist and lead guitarist.
Our gig at Page One cafe in downtown Toronto felt like our first “real” show. We had a great turnout, thanks to our friends and to FXRRVST and Madison Galloway, our supporting performers. I’ve branded my look, always performing in a pressed shirt and bowtie.
So far it’s been a high performing with Adi. His songs are very well written (we even co-wrote on one of them) and his performances are passionate and energetic. Together I think we make a good team, as I also give him tips on improving his performance and creating interesting song arrangements.
There’s nothing quite like getting on stage on putting on a show of great original songs. You get into a “zone” where the world around you fades into the background and for a moment, it’s all about the music.
The latest Song Talk Radio backup band jam session was for my own song, I Never Write Her a Song. We rehearsed for a couple of hours, and then performed about three takes for the video recording. Thanks to the guys who put their hearts and souls into the performance, especially David St Bernard who took on the vocal part with great verve! Phil (bass) also took us through an exercise to ensure all four instrumentalists knew each other’s parts well, and worked together to create a unified groove.
David St Bernard – vocals
Neel Modi – piano, songwriter
Joe Romasanta – guitar
Phil Emery – bass
Gary Duke – drums
Bruce Harrott – consultant
I captured the room audio, and the vocal audio to separate tracks so I could mix them in post-production to get the best sound quality and ensure the vocal sat nicely above the mix.
We practiced and developed our individual parts for about 90 minutes, then recorded several takes. Once again, I recorded both audio and video, and captured the vocals as a separate track and mixed them in during post-production.
All in all it was a fun afternoon, and I feel honoured to play with such talented guys.
The Song Talk Radio Backup Band, consisting of Phil Emery on bass, Bruce Harrott on acoustic guitar, and myself on drums, along with Eric Sorenson on guitar, and Alon Rodovinsky on guitar and backup vocals, accompanied Janice Ho on her soulful song, Dance Without Judgement, in an energetic arrangement. I got to channel my inner Phil Collins on the fill at the end of the second chorus :). Great fun and great performances from Janice and the band.
I recorded the audio and video, and captured Janice’s vocal as a separate recording, to mix it together in post production. I accomplished this by taking a send from the room mixer, and ensuring her mic channel was the only input going to it. The send ran into my Focusrite interface to be recorded in Sonar. In addition to this, I setup my Zoom H2N recorder in the front of the room, near the camera to capture the drums and guitar amps. My Nikon D7000 was setup on a tripod to capture the video. I didn’t use the audio recording from it, as the Zoom captures a much warmer tone, and I could manually adjust the gain on the Zoom.
In post production, I first got the audio mix completed in Sonar. EQ moves on the Zoom recording consisted of a high-pass filter, scooping out some of the muddy low to mid-range stuff, and a hi-frequency shelf to cut down the cymbals a bit. Then with Janice’s isolated vocal, a deeper high-pass filter and a high-frequency shelf to increase intelligibility and shine. Gentle compression on each track, gentle compression on the master, some multi-band compression, and finally a limiter to chop off the peaks, gelled the sound together. After that, a simple sync with the video track and I was done.
I was asked by my friend Kira Braun to record and photograph her “Weekend to End Women’s Cancer” fundraising recital. Kira performed with several of her friends and her teacher on some classical and contemporary tunes. It was a fantastic show, and the talent on stage absolutely top-notch.
My wonderful partner Hema was volun-told 🙂 to handle video while I took photos and recorded the audio on my Zoom recorder, which resulted in better audio quality than the camcorder. I then synced the audio and video and uploaded 13 videos to youTube.
The final performance was the highlight for me, and certainly they saved the most fun song for last!