The Music Of JC Harris

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

positively the most intelligent progressive rock on this here planet

JCHRants

A compendium of musings on music and this business we call show

Flipping ‘Em Off

So the other speed bump to getting things rocking on the new album is the fact that I smacked my finger with a sledge hammer last month. (Don’t ask.) But I kept it on the down low. I was even playing a theatre gig and it’s not exactly Birds Of Fire-ish so it hasn’t been a huge musical problem.

Strum, strum, strum, strum. Strum, strummedy, strum, strum.

The only detail was that the gig was one of those ‘modern’ plays where the band kinda interacts with the audience a bit. And my index finger stuck out ninety degrees perpendicular to me hand. Apparently a ‘manager’ complained to the MD that it looked as though I was ‘flipping off the audience’.

“Hybrid picking technique. Absolutely essential for authenticity. Learned it from Albert Lee. Really.”

That HR crisis solved, I moved on to seeing a doctor. But apparently, by the time I got it looked at, the darned thing had already started to ‘set’. So $229 gets me a professional opinion that popsicle sticks and tape still work as well as ever.

Anyhoo, the delay is not in the break per se. But since I failed to rest it, the healing is going to be about twice as long. Or to blame someone else: I was brought up by hard working people who think that unless it’s cut off? Back to work. You know: morons.

Hope I Die Before I Get Old

There are a lot [...]

Sorry, My Voice Doesn’t Arrive Until 11AM

Well, there have been a few speed bumps on ‘The Rocky Road To…’ the new record. Nothing too dreadful but two (not five) things to report. Here’s the first. All the breathing stuff has created a musical problem I never anticipated. But as Morpheus might say while watching TV, ‘Life is not without a sense of irony.’

When you record vocals they’re usually done last. OK, that’s what I do. You lay down a ‘guide vocal’ for the other guys to play against. And after all that racket is recorded, one spends a day (or nine) recording take after take to achieve vocal magic. Now sometimes the guide that is the keeper because everyone knows the first take of any idea is often the best. And this has always been easy for me because one thing I could always count on was the consistency of my voice. You may like it, you may hate it but it’s always the same. I recorded some takes of songs that were on Positive and compared them with the original song ideas (one of which went back to 1985) and was fairly well astonished to realize that they were indistinguishable except for the background noise of magnetic tape. The pitching? Identical. Phrasing? Identical. Volume? Still competitive with Swedish Death Metal. No change after 20 years. My vocal cords were like a Holiday Inn: Predictable if not always first class.

Well not anymore. Now, depending on the [...]

Regarding Happy Kyne

Pondering That Age Old Question: Why Are Musicians Paid Peanuts?

I get at least one link a day from another musician, music lover, performing rights organisation, etc. that is broadly concerned with a generalised lack of ‘respect’, ‘wages’, etc. for ‘professional’ musicians. In short ‘why are musicians paid peanuts? It’s so unfair!’ There will be the usual bad guys (corrupt record companies, loathsome bar owners, evil corporations, ignorant consumers, etc.) Rarely is the finger of responsibility pointed towards musicians themselves. Well I’m here to point that filthy, nasty finger. :D

Timely Tips!

I especially love the posts where a musician gives one ’10 Tips for convincing club owners to pay you what you deserve!’ I’ve actually laughed out loud reading these (they sound like a headline from Cosmo.) They are generally about as useful as ‘Tips for convincing Walmart to pay you more!’ Puh-lease. Record companies and club owners pay what the market says they should pay. You really think well-expressed arguments work? Look, the only reason I pay a plumber $200 to deal with my sewer is because… wait for it… all the plumbers got together and decided that’s what it should cost. There may be small variations, but every plumber charges what they charge to do competent work. They don’t show up with a snake and then take time to ‘convince’ you of their merits. Same with doctors, lawyers, carpenters, etc. You’re paid what people think [...]

Gus 200? – 2014

I’m extremely sorry to have to report that Gus, mascot and brand identity of this little sideshow passed away yesterday. I’m not 100% sure but I think he was 16ish…

You well know, as much as I blather on about everything from highbrow aesthetics to low cost anaesthetics, I’m not much taken with sharing personal details. But Gus basically was the ‘the brand identity’ so it seems worth a mention.

Gus became that marketing identity in 2003 when I brought him to one of my first house concerts in Vancouver. Most of my nutty ideas are just that. But everyone thought it was cute as hell. And it didn’t hurt that Gus was more charming and better behaved than most people I know. All the little jokes about ‘is he your sidekick?’ seemed to beg the answer, ‘Why yes. Yes he is.’

Now everyone in the ‘prog’ world can get so stuck on the idea of sparkly capes and all that astral horseshit. Something about showing up with a guitar and a little dog just seemed like such a ‘fuck you’ to all that pretentiousness.

It also really lowers expectations. Gus made my performances a bit like Susan Boyle. In a blind test, she really doesn’t sing that great, but admit it, her looks make her sound twice as cool. Gus gave me that same edge with Prog Snobs. The point is that Gus was invaluable.

So now what? Gus was to JCHMusic [...]

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