Sunday, February 18, 2018

Names for Western Bands

I am always seeking names for bands among the daily barrage of broadcasts, news and media.  Yesterday I was listening to the Blues Brothers sing "Soul Man."  The opening line starts off "I'm comin' atcha on a dusty road...good lovin' I've got a truck load."

See the band name hiding there?  It's "Dusty Road."  I think that would be a good name for a country and western band.

A good band name, I think, is two words that create a mental image that ties in with the band's genre.  The two words are a noun and an adjective.  You can also use one word, usually a noun.

It's a fun exercise.  Some examples off the top of my head:

Side Saddle - a real name of a western girl band
Hellbent for Leather
Ghost Riders (name of a famous song)
Cinco Amigos -- A Mexican music quintet
Starlit Night
Campfire Cousins

My Bass Line for "Autumn Leaves"

My band had a practice yesterday.  "Autumn Leaves" was particularly good, even though our singer was a bit hoarse, and the instrumentation was quite good, I think.

I believe a credible bass line is emerging from my ministrations.  Have a listen:

Monday, January 15, 2018

Minor 7th Arpeggios

To change a major 7th into a minor 7th arpeggio, you flat the third and the seventh notes.  See chart below.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Major 7th Arpeggios

I just enrolled in Geoff Chalmers course, "Double Bass Arpeggios:  the Play Along Collection," at  The first arpeggios to learn are the major 7th chords, and here is a chart of the major 7th chords that I previously created in Excel.  Bass players are advised to know the notes in each key, and know them cold.  Here are those notes:

Geoff's course provides recordings of each arpeggio, played on a piano, to familiarize students with the sound of each.  He also provides staffs of notes for each as well, with notation on which string and finger to use.  This is very helpful.  You can't learn the proper way to play these arpeggios just by looking at the chart above -- you need to use the proper fingers and the proper strings.  Check out for courses and prices.

I am not proficient in using a bow, but I have a French bow and plan to learn. If you are not playing in an orchestra, you may not have much use for a bow.  However, using the bow for practice is highly advisable, as it emphasizes the sound of each note and arpeggio.  I ordered some Pop's Double Bass Rosin from Amazon, and should have it tomorrow.  Geoff's website also has a course in the use of the French bow, and I plan to take that course in a few more weeks.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Taking Another Crack at Double Bass

The Double Bass

I have two underused double basses.  When I got them, I imagined that it would be fairly easy to move from bass guitar to double bass.  I was wrong.  Double bass (aka acoustic bass, stand-up bass) is a very different instrument.  A double bass requires more precision in setting it up, and more technique to master.  Your left hand fingers have to be just right, creating a "handshake" on the strings.  You need to learn to use a bow, not for playing necessarily, but to practice arpeggios and exercises, because you can hear the sound better that way.

Further, getting a pickup attached so you can increase volume is important, and they are expensive, and you need one that helps stop feedback.

There is no easy or fast way to learn double bass.  I have learned the hard way, that you cannot just ignore the experts and use whatever fingering and plucking you like.  If you don't do it right, your hands will get very tired and you won't make it through a gig.

This week I realized that I do indeed want to be proficient on double bass, and that I need to stop fooling myself and learn all the proper techniques.  You must be patient and take it one practice at a time.  You need to pay careful attention to your intonation -- when playing anything, do it over again until you get the rich bass tones you need.  You need to replace the "thunk thunk thunk" sound with a nice "boom boom boom."

Want to learn double bass?  Do it right, and do it slow until you get it.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Christmas Gig

I was offered a charity gig in Salinas for elderly and disabled citizens.  My regular bandmates either couldn't or wouldn't make it due to work and family obligations.  So I invited a piano player and teacher who lives here in Hollister, one Wendy Starke. Wendy accepted, and so she and I played as a duet for the Christmas party of December 22nd.  It went well, and we were happy and gratified to have made around 100 seniors happy and merry.

We played mostly Christmas songs, but threw in two or three non-Christmas tunes as well.  I recorded the whole performance and posted it at SoundCloud.  It is here if you are interested in listening:

If you don't want to listen to the whole performance, you can just listen to "The Christmas Song 12222017" to get the flavor of the gig.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Moment's Notice Practice of 11-25-2017

Our band had a practice yesterday, in preparation for a gig on December 3rd.  We are using Jay of "Ship of Fools" as our keys man, since our regular keys man, Raf, is out of town.

If you wish, have a listen at this link:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Musical Progress! Things Are Coming Together! A Musician's Growing Success.

I have noticed a growing success in my musical endeavors.  I am making new contacts and acquaintances who are musicians.  I recently quit the big band I was in -- the Cats' Jazz Band of Los Gatos, California.  I had been with them three years and did not feel they could provide me with more personal progress.  I needed the time practicing with my newer group, the Moment's Notice Jazz Band of San Jose, California.  I recently created a FaceBook page for MN Jazz at this link:

Meanwhile I made the acquaintance of Jay, lead singer and keys man for the band Ship of Fools. I met him through the guitar player, Gil DeLaRosa, who plays with Moment's Notice.  Jay has been wanting to do more jazz and invited Gil and Gil's bass player (me) to gig at a coffee shop in Big Basin, California,in an upscale business district near Saratoga, California.  We gigged with Jay on October 28, and Jay was happy with the result.  We will undoubtedly gig more with Jay in the future.  Jay is an important contact, and contacts are what a musician needs to find opportunities to gig.

I recorded the Big Basin gig (most of it anyway) and posted it at my SoundCloud page,  If you click on this link, the first song links you will see have a ship logo -- all of those are the gig with Jay (listen with headphones).  Scroll down and all the rest of the songs are of Moment's Notice practices.  Our singer Kelly Aynes does a nice job on vocals.  Most of these songs were played for the very first time in practice, yet still sound good.  Experienced musicians can do that.

Another contact I made recently is that of Wendy Starke, a piano teacher and pianist (who plays electronic keys) and who loves jazz.  I practiced with her once and will do so again soon.  We are doing a charity gig for disabled vets on December 22 in Salinas. We need a guitar player to join us for better results, and I will look for one.

Sucess as a musician involves (1) learning songs and expanding your repertoire, (2) jamming and gigging with other musicians, and (3) getting known in local music circles.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Great Names for Bands! Maybe. Ideas. Market Yourself!

In my prior post I discussed bad names for bands.  Avoid names with negative connotations or bad visual images. Now its time to discuss GOOD names for bands.

A good name shouldn't be overused, trite or hackneyed.  Ideally, it will create positive visual images that reinforce the types of gigs your band seeks, e.g., weddings, balls, corporate event or drunken orgies.   Well, if you are seeking the last of these, you are on your own.

It's a lot harder to come up with positive, good band names that have not already been done to death.  However, here is a small few.  I may add to the list as I discover other possibilities.  Suggestions are encouraged.  Consider:

Get the idea?

BAD NAMES FOR BANDS! (Avoid at All Costs!)

My jazz band recently selected "Moment's Notice" for the band name.  I hate it.  It is overused by many bands, isn't unique and conveys nothing positive.  However, I decided to live with it because it is a minor issue at this point in time.

While researching great names for bands, however, I came across worse names for bands.  Based on marketing research and psychological principles, there are some band names that you should NEVER use.  Here are some of them:

Bulbous Buttocks
Rusty Hinge
Ugly Woman
Toenail Fungus
Ingrown Toenail
Worms and Slugs
Bad Body Odor
Fingernails on a Blackboard
Full Spittoon
Rock In My Shoe
Festering Wound
Moldy Bread
Abscessed Tooth
Compound Fracture
The Drunk Tank
On Parole
Highly Infectious
Ripe Cadaver
Dead Fish
Sour Notes
Purple Bruise

You have been warned:  these band names will not provide the public with a good impression of your band or your music.