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HowLiN Music https://howlinmusic.com Buford Southern Rock Cover Music Tue, 03 Nov 2015 02:41:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 Right Where You Standhttps://howlinmusic.com/right-where-you-stand/ Tue, 03 Nov 2015 02:40:30 +0000 https://howlinmusic.com/?p=671 Funny how life finds you… right where you stand.

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Funny how life finds you… right where you stand.

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3 Lessons from Our First Gighttps://howlinmusic.com/3-lessons-from-our-first-gig/ https://howlinmusic.com/3-lessons-from-our-first-gig/#respond Fri, 30 Jan 2015 21:46:58 +0000 https://howlinmusic.com/?p=533 We recently played our first public gig and even though it was an open mic night with maybe 10 people in the place, (other than the rest of the musicians), we had a blast. There’s nothing quite like playing out. As is our approach with everything that we do, we took some time afterward to […]

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We recently played our first public gig and even though it was an open mic night with maybe 10 people in the place, (other than the rest of the musicians), we had a blast. There’s nothing quite like playing out. As is our approach with everything that we do, we took some time afterward to talk about what we learned from the gig and what our takeaways were. Hopefully you will find them helpful.

Preparation Paid Off

We’ve been learning songs and preparing to play out for quite some time. A little more than a year actually. Prior to this gig, we have only played one other and it was for a private party. Our plan going in was to play the songs we felt like we could play best because we were pretty sure we would only get to play 3 songs at an open mic night.

For reference, we went with Cheap Sunglasses by ZZ Top, Watchin’ Airplanes by Gary Allan and Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Dylan. (Check out our videos page to see some our version of some of these songs).

We’ve played and sang each of those tunes so many times that we were able to totally focus on doing a little entertaining on top of playing. It felt like putting on your favorite pair of shoes in way; very comfortable and easy to get into. Overall, our performance was about 99% flawless. I took a few bars more than I was supposed to on Knocking on Heaven’s Door for my piano solo, but otherwise we SMASHED it.

That’s what preparation does for you. Practice the way you plan to play and you’ll play the way you practice.

Still Slightly Unprepared

So what’s that all about, right? I just bragged that we nailed it because of preparedness and next I start talking about being unprepared. But it’s true, as prepared as we were, we realized, just hours before the gig, that there were still some things left unattended as it relates to our drum and bass tracks.

We’d known for a few months that we really needed to take time to edit some of the tracks we had sourced to include a hi-hat count in for each song and a hi-hat tap to keep us on beat during the breakdown part in Watchin’ Airplanes.

We could have let ourselves off the hook and not gone out to the open mic night, but we didn’t. We took our chances and made a couple of slight adjustments to how we played the songs. Specifically, in Watchin’ Airplanes, we simply waited for the drums to kick in, which happens right before the verse begins. But we could do that because we’ve played that song probably hundreds of times. The breakdown didn’t end up being quite perfect from a time perspective, but it was close.

Needless to say, we’ve already begun addressing this issue as we spent several hours last night adding count-ins to the songs we plan to do at the open mic night next week. (Yes, we were invited to come back and compete for a weekend opening spot. Yay us!)

It Might Take a Song or Two

One of the things that we noticed was that, at least at this particular gig, the [few] people that were there, really didn’t warm up to us till near the end of the first song. Which is typical. But what we noticed was that they seemed to warm up to familiar tunes quicker than originals. There were several other musicians there and one other band. Most of the other musicians played original tunes. They weren’t bad, but there was zero familiarity for the crowd, so response and engagement seemed pretty low after each song that they played.

For us, however, we got some good response after Cheap Sunglasses. And even better response after Watchin’ Airplanes, (which is probably one of our top songs, so that was a good feeling), and Knocking on Heaven’s Door.

Overall, the lesson we learned is that an upbeat, familiar song is ALWAYS a better idea for your opening song than an original.

Conclusion

So, to sum it all up, we were prepared, but we could have been better prepared and we made a good move on our opening song. What are some of the valuable lessons that you have learned from playing out? Have you made mistakes that you are willing to share with others? Have you made great decisions that have helped lead you to success? If so, please share them in the comments section below.

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Mainstage the Heart of my Righttps://howlinmusic.com/mainstage-heart-rig/ https://howlinmusic.com/mainstage-heart-rig/#respond Tue, 30 Dec 2014 19:08:44 +0000 https://howlinmusic.com/?p=331 One of the things that I really enjoy talking about is what equipment people use when playing live. Whether it’s PA Gear, Pedalboards, Keyboards or Software, I’m completely intrigued by the core reasons that people have for using their gear. I’ll talk more about my entire rig as time goes on, but I thought I […]

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One of the things that I really enjoy talking about is what equipment people use when playing live. Whether it’s PA Gear, Pedalboards, Keyboards or Software, I’m completely intrigued by the core reasons that people have for using their gear.

I’ll talk more about my entire rig as time goes on, but I thought I start off talking about what is at the heart of my rig. What does everything revolve around. So, here goes…

MIDI

MIDI – Musical Instrument Digital Interface. It’s a standard that’s been around since the early 80’s. The official standard was published in August of 1983. Back in those days, I wasn’t even a musician, let alone a keyboard player. But I vividly remember two of my close friends that both got the same keyboard, a Casio CZ-101, for Christmas in 1985 (I think). I also vividly remember the three of us being fascinated by the ability to connect the two keyboards via MIDI and use one as a controller to tell the other what to play.

When I first journeyed into the keyboard world, circa 1993 or so, MIDI was only about 10 years old but it was alive and thriving. I remember experimenting by layering sounds with the multiple keyboards that I first purchased and spending hours on end cutting my creative teeth with endless sound designing experiments.

But back then, there was very little usable software that played into the equation. At least, very little usable software that ran on a computer.

Software

Speaking of software and MIDI… I bought my first MIDI/DAW software back in 1999. MOTU Digital Performer version 2.7. Needless to say, it’s come a long way, but even then it was ridiculously capable.

I don’t use Digital Performer any more, even though it’s still in my opinion, equally capable for recording as Logic or ProTools. But I do still utilize MOTU Hardware. More about that in another post.

My boy Joseph and I were introduced to a piece of Software known as MainStage some 6 or 7 years ago. Apple first introduced it bundled with their Logic Recording software. Being that Joe was using ProTools and at that time, I was still using Digital Performer, we both thought it was cool, but neither of us were ready to jump on that bandwagon. Yet…

MainStage

When Joseph and I decided to get HowLiN started, I was already accustomed to controlling my keyboards, a Yamaha S-80 and a Roland XP-80, from numerous external devices. But that was mostly in a studio environment, not in a live setting.

Fortunately, Apple decided to unbundle MainStage in 2013. Perfect timing. So, I decided that for the sum of $29 it was a no brainer to at least try it out. Needless to say, it’s brought a level of efficiency and creativity that far exceeded my expectations.

Here are the 3 things that I love the most about having Mainstage as the heart of my rig.

Rock Solid

First of all, the app is super stable. I don’t think it’s ever crashed on me in nearly a year of using it. By my estimation I’d say that the biggest reason for this is that it’s very lean on system resources. Even though it’s not a best practice, I almost always have 8 to 10 applications running on my Mac alongside MainStage. Many times I’m even running Ableton Live alongside MainStage. So far, not even a hiccup.

Consistency

I’m obsessive about practicing and rehearsing using the same sounds that I’m going to play live. Before MainStage this drove me nuts. No two Piano sounds are exactly alike unless you are playing the exact same keyboard every time. When I practice I want to hear the character and definition of every single note. Whether I’m playing an EP, Piano, Hammond or a Synth Pad, even the slightest difference will throw me off and affect my playing.

For me, I have a church gig that I play weekly and it’s neither practical nor ok with the church for me to haul their 88 key Nord Stage 2 back and forth. (Which is a bummer, cause I probably would if they would let me). As well, I generally leave my Yamaha S-80 at Joe’s studio because we rehearse there. I keep my Roland XP-80 in my home studio. So, by making MainStage the heart of my rig, it’s become quickly and easily transportable. Just pack up my 13″ MacBook Pro and my MOTU UltraLite and I’m ready to go.

So as you can imagine, I can practice and rehearse at home, using the same sounds that I will use live. This makes it so much easier to walk into any gig, whether it’s backlined or not, plug-in and be ready to play in a matter of minutes.

Interface

If you’ve been around any sort of MIDI or DAW software for any length of time, you know that figuring out how to use said software, is sometimes a challenge. With MainStage, there have certainly been some learning curves and I’m sure I’m probably not using it to even 30% of it’s potential capability. But, from the time I downloaded it to the time that I played the first note with it was a matter of minutes.

Setting up shows, sets and patch lists is a breeze, and having the ability to give each patch the actual name of the song that you are playing it for really helps take the guess work out of making quick changes on the fly.

Here are a few screenshots that will give you an idea about how some of the interface looks and works.

Mainstage Edit Window

What About You?

What’s at the heart of your rig? Is there something that you’ve found that could help others? If so, share it in the comments below or visit us on Facebook and share it with everyone else.

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What’s in a Band Name?https://howlinmusic.com/whats-in-a-band-name/ https://howlinmusic.com/whats-in-a-band-name/#respond Mon, 29 Dec 2014 19:03:42 +0000 https://howlinmusic.com/?p=307 When our band was conceived, December 31, 2013, we were very much like most other bands that were brand new. We had a little bit of vision, a healthy dose of talent and a very rough idea of what we wanted to “be” and the end product that we wanted to deliver. A big missing […]

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When our band was conceived, December 31, 2013, we were very much like most other bands that were brand new. We had a little bit of vision, a healthy dose of talent and a very rough idea of what we wanted to “be” and the end product that we wanted to deliver.

Why Naming a Band is So ImportantA big missing link, that remained missing for about 10 months was a name.

It’s not such a big deal on the front end or maybe even for the first couple of months. It takes some time for you and your band mates to start realizing who and/or what you will become from a musical and personality perspective. But, what we noticed is that once we finally settled on a name, it seemed like almost everything else began to quickly fall into place.

Here are a few reasons why we believe that serious deliberation about a band name is so important.

Identity

Without a name, there really isn’t much of an identity for your band. I can’t tell you how many times my musical ventures would come up in conversation and I would talk about the band something like this…

Me: Yep, I’m in a band, with another guy. Really we’re more of a duo. It’s just the two of us but we are totally digging what we are doing because it’s pretty uncommon.

Other Person: So, do you guys have a name?

Me: Not really. We’re working on it. We have like 197 names that we have just come up with off the top of our head. And there are some in there that are in the running.

Other Person: That’s cool man.

The identity of pretty much everything in the world revolves around it’s name. Do you have a dog? Yeah. What’s it’s name? Do you have a wife? Yeah, her name is Ginger. You get the point.

It’s one thing to say, “Yeah, I’m in a band.” It’s another thing to say, “Yeah, I’m in a band called HowLiN.”

A name gives your band an identity.

Vision

It might sound crazy, but there is only so much vision you can have for your band without a name. One of the things that we noticed is that once we settled on a name, acquiring a vision for a logo, colors, visual branding and other things happened at almost light speed.

Whether you take a DIY approach and take on graphics and branding on your own, or hire a designer to help with that sort of stuff, as soon as you visualize your bands name in graphic fashion, you immediately start latching on to things and you will quickly gain vision for how you want to be perceived.

Progress

For the first 10 or so months that we played together we probably worked as hard, if not harder, than any other band has when it comes to getting the ball rolling and ready to play out. But the funny thing is, in 10 months, (and even as of this writing), we haven’t even played one gig. Not the results that we’d hoped for, but honestly, we’re not ashamed of it.

We went to the woodshed learning cover tunes along with original music that we’ve written. And we completely busted our backs doing it. Believe me, lesser men would have bailed out long ago.

We did see progress along the way in our musicality, chemistry and ability to really know each other as musicians and singers. If we hadn’t seen progress, then I’m sure we would have pulled the plug.

When it came to a name however, we had not shortage of options. Part of that was our personalities. We’re not “flounderers” so much, but we are both the type of person that knows when something is right. We came close to settling on a name a few times, but I think we both knew deep down that the right name hadn’t been presented yet.

Here’s the deal though; once we finally decided on a name, we were so “Jonesed” about it that we literally kicked things into overdrive to move ourselves to the point where we are ready to launch not just as a band, but as a brand.

Band Naming Resources

While we were in the process of coming up with potential band names, there was really no shortage of ideas bouncing around in our heads. (Well, mostly Joe’s head). But in case you are in need of a little help for some band name inspiration, you can check out the following resources.

Random Generators

You can visit the website Music Industry How To and check out their band name generator. You basically just click a button and there is a display of names that appear randomly. Some of them seem pretty cool.

Another random generator you can check out is called 1728.org. The tool there allows you to click and generate either a two-word name or a three-word name.

Keyword Name Generator

Over at Band Name Maker you can enter one or two keywords that you want to use in a band name and then it will give you suggestions that include those keywords. Some results seem a bit odd, but some also seem kind of cool. Your mileage may vary.

What Else?

There’s probably 50 other benefits that I could come up with, but in my opinion, these are probably the most important.

While neither of us are ones to dwell on the past and what we should have or might have done differently, we have found that serious and careful deliberation will result in the right name for your band.

If we could do one thing differently, I would say that we should have made deciding on a name a higher priority than we did. But hey, if we had done so, we probably wouldn’t have come up with the name that we have.

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North Carolina Linehttps://howlinmusic.com/north-carolina-line/ Sun, 28 Dec 2014 13:33:39 +0000 https://howlinmusic.com/?p=299 All I can do is write about it (Ode to Ronnie).

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All I can do is write about it (Ode to Ronnie).

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Long Line of Leavershttps://howlinmusic.com/long-line-leavers/ Sun, 28 Dec 2014 13:32:06 +0000 https://howlinmusic.com/?p=296 Overcoming what you’ve been dealt and moving past it.

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Overcoming what you’ve been dealt and moving past it.

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