Friday, September 16, 2011

Bassist Belinda Underwood Coming to Monterey Bay Area

Belinda Underwood
Belinda Underwood is a jazz bassist and singer from Portland, Oregon. The lady has talent, and she inspires me to go pick up my bass and practice. She will be coming to the Monterey Bay area soon for public performances. I hope to go see her.  In the video below, she plays bass to "Don't Get Around Much Anymore."  This is the kind of music I want most to play:  jazz swing/jazz standards.

I never heard of Belinda Underwood before today.  I learned of her through a link on the Monterey Bay Craig's List (under Musicians).  I watched a couple of her videos on YouTube and became an instant fan.  As well as being an accomplished bassist, she is also an incredible singer.  I purchased her first album online and downloaded it as mp3 files for instant listening.  You can buy her albums at this link.

It's hard to believe someone so talented (not to mention beautiful) isn't better known.  Vocally, she is as good as Diana Krall or Norah Jones.

What Should a Musician Do When He Doesn't Know Where He's Going?

What should you (a bass player) do when you are at a crossroads in your music career, and don't know what to do, how to plan or where to go?

Simple.  Practice your scales and arpeggios until your fingers bleed.

The basics are always worth repeating, over and over again.  Then when you do figure out your next step, you'll be ready for it.

Saith the Brahman of Bass, the Shaman of the Strings, the Mystical Musician, the Nadir of Notes.  Bass 17: 34-48.  You can look it up.

And yes, I will follow these commandments, just as soon as I finish folding my laundry.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Wither Am I Drifting? My Musical Future Reconsidered

Lately I notice a feeling of angst, malaise or simple boredom with my musical efforts.  Right now I just don't know where I am going music-wise, or where I want to go.  I haven't touched my bass in three weeks, focusing on singing practice instead.

Sometimes it's good to take a step back and give it a rest.  I will let my subconscious mind sort things out and clarify my goals.  Briefly, they seem to be as follows:

1.  I want to play string bass very well.
2.  I want to sing.
3.  I want to play mellow jazz, jazz swing and jazz standards.

Classic rock isn't really a big turn-on for me.  It holds little challenge.  I am just not excited about being in a "classic rock" band.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Bornia Boys Blues Band Plays at Bolado Park in Hollister, September 10, 2011

On Saturday, September 10, 2011, the Bornia Boys Blues Band played at the first annual Hot Cars and Guitars festival in Bolado Park, in Hollister, California.  I was there and managed to get some video of their performance.  Like a moron, I forgot to bring my tripod, and eventually my arms got tired of holding up the camera and there are a lot of shaky scenes as a result.  Hope you don't get seasick, but you should love the sound.

The Bornia Boys have an interesting history that is detailed at their website at this link.  The main page of their website is located here.

Here are the videos in the order they were taken:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Sing "That's All Right Mama," a High Key Elvis Tune

I've been practicing singing exercises for about two weeks now and I can feel my voice getting stronger.  My latest challenge was to sing Elvis's great hit "That's All Right Mama."  This song is in a high key, but I wanted to be able to sing it and hit all the right notes without my voice cracking or changing radically from one register to another.  I think I succeeded.

At first I was hitting the highest notes all wrong -- going up a whole octave when such a jump was clumsy and unnecessary and produced a harsh, strained sound.  Finally, I listened to the actual Elvis recording and studied how he sang these most difficult parts, and then I copied him.  It worked.  Of course, I can't sing like Elvis, but listening to his singing certainly helped me in hitting the high notes properly.

This recording was made through the built-in computer microphone and the quality is only so-so.  I have ordered a soundblaster sound card for my laptop  that should allow me to both play and record simultaneously from the sound card, thus eliminating the noise you get by recording from the built-in computer microphone.  It should result in significant improvement in the quality of the recordings:  better balance, clarity and consistency.

Have a listen:

Self-evaluation:  Roger Love in his book "Set Your Voice Free" talks about commanding your middle voice, and indicates it's tricky to get just the right sound.  I think my voice in this recording needs to be brought down just a bit more towards chest voice.  Right now it is a tad too much in the direction of head voice.  I am not talking about changing the key, I am talking about changing the timbre:  a slightly lower voice (but in the same key) would add warmth and resonance.  I will work on it.