Archive for the 'Noteworthy' Category

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We are officially homeless.

Yesterday we settled on our house in DC. In all reality it went pretty smoothly. The buyer had some issues with putting all her trust in the home inspector, which she had every right to. It just held up some details. All in all, everything went as planned and we are now officially retired.

The reason I say, we’re retired, is that most people end up going through the motions in their 9-5 for decades and live for day they can retire. We thought, “Why wait?” – We wanted to do what we loved when we had the energy to do it. Hence the recording studio. Hence ‘Retirement’.

I just like the sound of it.

So for the next few weeks, we will be vacationing, traveling and checking out studios in Seattle, Portland (& seeing Jamie get hitched – YAY!), San Francisco and Los Angeles. We hope to learn some of the do’s and don’ts from studios that have already done it successfully. Not to mention design ideas.

If anyone lives in those 4 areas, please, my all means, contact us. We’ll love to hook up and get a beer and/or beverage of choice. We’d also love it if you had a connection with a local studio.

Have a great September.

The Greatest City in America

So it’s done.

I put in my resignation yesterday. Emily put in hers last week.

There is something so satisfying about handing that letter in. Perhaps it’s the control you have over the circumstances. Perhaps it’s the thought of what the future holds. I think it’s a combination of both. I will miss the relationships I have built here, of course.

It all started a bunch of months ago when we found a house in upper Montgomery County for sale. It was an old General Store built in the 1890s on the MARC train line. Literally 100 feet from the tracks. It would have been perfect. It was huge. The first floor would have been the studio and we’d live above. There was major work that had to be done to rehab it, but were up for it. It was also a historic building, so we could get tax credits for the work we did. We were also thinking more about sustainable living and living “off the grid” then. Geothermal power was really turning us on. Not to mention septic tanks. Sadly there was a gaping hole in the roof and shortly after seeing the house the area received around 12″ of rain in a few days. Needless to say, at that point, it would have been foolish to have invested and built on this plot.

Our dream of being self employed was not over. The thought of having a 9-5 job working for the man was both terrifying and mind numbing. It was clearly not an option. It was now or never. We thought of renting space in DC. But where would we get $3,000-$5,000 a month for rent in a crappy ‘hood?

I am not sure how it came about, but the idea became to sell our house in DC, buy a new house in Baltimore and find a place to build out a recording studio. I did some market research and found that there were a few large studios with gold laced flooring. There were also a bunch of studios that were in basements, similar to my old one down the street that most bands grew out of after high school, but were cheap so they got the job done. The major void was in mid-level studios. Herein lies our future. After a final meeting with Al (who is a deep seed in the music community of Baltimore not to mention a music writer for the Baltimore City Paper) as well as other constituents we came to the conclusion that this was our destiny. Not to mention the exploding music scene in Baltimore and the possibilities of other related endeavours once the studio took off that Emily would be able to head up.

We lucked out and found a great commercial space in Charles Village. It was at one point the media ‘hood of the city. Now it’s more simply a business district. Regardless, it’s from the turn of the century and it has 12 foot ceilings. It’s perfect for a studio. You know, once we float the room while sound proofing it.

We also sold our house in remarkably fast time considering the market now. It was listed on a Friday. There was an open house on Sunday and we had our first bid on Monday. We even got our asking price. And we decided to rent in Baltimore rather than buy. Building out the studio is going to be pretty time consuming commitment so we’d not have the time to “build out” our own house at the same time, so why bother at this point. The prices in Baltimore are only going down, so we’ll revisit that idea in a year or two. What amazed me was the price of a turn of the century brownstone with 4-5 bedrooms would cost $350,000 or so. You couldn’t even think about doing that in DC for the same square footage in good neighborhoods. It was funny to think that we could live in a place for a few years and not even use the 3rd floor until we had kids. Anyways… It was around that time when I fell in love with Baltimore, hon. At least with the character of all the neighborhoods and homes. It was something I always appreciated, but it never went beyond that. To me, it was always a fun place to visit. Nothing more, nothing less. But that changed.

So to a lot of people this is pretty weird to not have a “consistent and stable” job. But I am not even employed by the Government, I was merely a contractor and they could drop me at a seconds notice. Not to mention any job I could get or have had. So I am no better off today than I will be after my last date of employment. Which happens to be the 31st of August. Yay!

Regardless, this fits in with both of our future plans. And we’re not compromising anything. I think that’s what is most critical here. We’re living our dream and we’re doing it together. We’re so happy beyond anything else we’ve ever done.

Top 10 Favorite Prince Records

Because Prince is a Jehovah’s Witness, he isn’t allowed to celebrate his birthday today, but I can (and will!) by giving you my Top 10 Favorite Prince Records, as of 7 June 2006. Please note this list is known to change by the minute. This is just a rough guide and only pertains to officially released records. Perhaps in the future I will do an unreleased Top 10.

  1. 1999 (1982) – Without this record, Purple Rain never would have happened the way it did. It was the springboard for the serious synths to come in Purple Rain and beyond. As a rather obvious [to me] nod to Kraftwerk, there is a strange element of cold dancy kraut in this record. Prince really pushed the envelope [for 1982] with the funk drums overlaid with the Linn Drum in “Lady Cab Driver.” If you get a chance to hear the extended mix, it’s a treat. Dance on, sister.
  2. Prince (1979) – Here we have Prince’s second record based around R&B and funk with all songs sung in falsetto. This self-titled album was definitely an extension of his first record but with much better songs. His songwriting grew exponentially on this record, and perhaps he learned about how an edit of a song can make a serious difference by cutting the fluff, etc. Songs like “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Bambi” begin to show his strengths in his songwriting abilities. And, by the way, you can’t beat a record cover like that. Those words become an ongoing theme with Prince’s record covers.
  3. Sign ‘O’ The Times (1987) – While I did much more prefer the track listing for The Dream Factory (dated June 3rd. 1986), not to mention the involvement of Wendy and Lisa (and the rest of the Revolution) – Prince did eventually decide to ‘disband’ the Revolution and more or less put out The Crystal Ball (a three record – six sided album which included a few cuts from the album from the same time, Camille) by himself and rerecorded a lot of the songs solo. Prince was amazing if not equally frustrating in that respect. Luckily Wendy and Lisa’s influence had already been set in motion and he couldn’t avoid that. The record was rejected by the label due to it’s sheer volume and eventually got cut to two records or 4 sides and was released as Sign ‘O’ The Times. Songs like “Hot Thing” and “Housequake” brought back a lot of the funk that had been lost in previous records. “Housequake” was probably a nod to the growth of hip-hop during that time. Songs like “Starfish and Coffee”, “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”, “Sign ‘O’ the Times”, & “Adore” solidify the fact that Prince was the most versatile and talented songwriter of the 1980s. This was also a notably political record. Not since Controversy had Prince been so openly political. The stark production of “The Cross” is breathtaking and highly effective. This was also the last real double record of the 1980s. With record meaning vinyl. 4 sides, etc. The end of an era, some say. A remaster of this disc with the outtakes from Dream Factory and Crystal Ball would rule.
  4. Purple Rain (1984) – Yes, this record is clichéd but with good reason. It’s badass! “Take Me With U”, “Baby I’m A Star” and “Purple Rain”. Please note this was the only use of a sequencer, up to this point, serving as the bassline to “I Would Die 4 U”. The synth was synched up with the Linn Drum that was MIDI retrofitted. How’s that for a factoid?! Also noteworthy is the fact that “Purple Rain,” as well as I Would Die 4 U” and “Baby I’m A Star,” were all recorded at Wendy’s first show when she was just 19. That hot and humid August night in 1983 at First Avenue will forever been remembered. You should also realize that at that show was the first time Prince covered a song publicly. He covered “A Case of You” by Joni Mitchell. Oh yeah, and it sold something like 13 million units domestically. This era also was one of his most prolific. He was also writing, producing and performing on records by Sheila E., Apollonia 6, The Family and the Time. My favorite B-sides, “Another Lonely Christmas” and “17 Days”, come from the era. Note: the extended mix of “17 Days” is great and clocks in over 10 minutes.
  5. Parade (1986)- While not the critics’ favorite, this record is chock full of funky goodness. Songs like “Anotherloverholenyohead” “Kiss” and “Mountains” – Again the 12″ mix of Mountains is superb. If you can get it, do it. This was also the last record with the Revolution. There was still a little bit of left over psychedelics from the Around the World In A Day record, but it’s less obvious here. This record is becoming a favorite of mine. Oh, and don’t even bother seeing the accompanying movie, Under the Cherry Moon. It’s trash. But interesting to see Kristin Scott Thomas in it. Jerome Benton is however in excellent form, a la Purple Rain.
  6. Batman (1989) – Definitely not a favorite amongst fans and critics, but it was one of the first records that really spoke to me by Prince. I was 12 when I first heard this record on a cassette. What really got to me was the simplicity of the drum programming. Songs like “Vicky Waiting” and “The Future” still hold a special place in my pop life. And while “Batdance” did use the sampler to a sickening degree it was pretty innovative for the time. The breakdown groove is still to die for. That funky guitar is the sickness. And yes, we can all do without the Scandalous songs. Make sure to not buy the Scandalous Suite which has 18 minutes of that song. Yikes!
  7. The Love Symbol Album (1992) – All you need to do is make out to this album one time and it’s forever ingrained in your mind. Yeah, I made out with a girl from senior year of high school to this record the first time I heard it. The production is sickeningly good. Like Ocean Way good. It definitely gets interesting once you get to the deep cuts like “The Continental” and “7”. Speaking of “7” – that is perhaps the best cut on the record and despite its seeming simplicity. Acoustic guitar. Drum machine. Finger cymbal. Whip. Bass tones. And stax of vocals. Ok, maybe it’s not that simple, but compared to other music of that time, it sure sounds like it.
  8. The Gold Experience (1993) – The first record released under his new unpronounceable name. ( O(+> ) – Yes, it was a weird stunt, but it also got him out of a Warner Bros. contract. Genius if you ask me. This record was a response to his love of rock music and guitars that had been put to the side for the past few years. It’s not as funky and soulful as his other records, however it’s definitely an interesting one. It just reiterates how diverse his influences are. “Endorphinmachine” and “319” are standout tracks for me, but this whole album sans “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” is a keeper. “Gold” also has a great guitar solo, but the song itself borders on cheesy most of the way through. As a whole it’s pretty cohesive in a similar vein as the The Love Symbol record. Less pop and more rock, however.
  9. Lovesexy (1988) – This record as a whole sounds rushed and not well put together, but there are songs like “Dance On” and “Alphabet Street” which bring it all home for me. His drums on “Dance On” are funky as ever. It might be worth it based on that alone. You decide. A simple beat ganked from Sheila E. goes a long way. Also notable is the record cover, very Georgia O’Keeffe a la Penisville.
  10. Around the World In a Day (1985) – To release this record after Purple Rain‘s success was ballsy as it was so different from its predecessor, and definitely was not the Purple Rain II that everyone expected. That would have been the “smart” and safe thing to do, at least from a record label’s perspective. Prince wouldn’t have any part in it. He clearly was making a statement above and beyond. He decided to do something 180 from what was expected. Songs like the title track, “Paisley Park” and “Tamborine” are keepers and “Raspberry Beret” is quite possibly the greatest pop song ever written. Note the slight dis to Jesse Johnson for leaving The Time to pursue a solo career with the lyrics “And we went riding down by old man Johnson’s farm.”

Honorable Mention: the 3rd disc from The Hits 3-Disc set. Those B-sides are incredible even if they are the edits of most of the songs. A lot of those B-sides are better than the A-sides they mirror.

Thanks for humoring me with my obsession. And thanks to Feets for playing the role as Editor to save my writing from a seriously derailing train wreck.