solarbird: (Lecturing)

Had fun at VCON, as always; Jamie Anderson (son of Gerry Anderson and Mary Robins, Gerry’s third wife) was great fun, and I think we hit it off pretty well on our panel, too. I didn’t get to as many room parties as I wanted – between agreeing to run Open Filk for the con, and just feeling kind of off on Saturday, I didn’t get to many. Other than the Dead Dog, of course, which was fun like always.

Talking of open filk, the braille poker chip accommodation for visually-impaired people that I posted about last week? It worked well. We had two blind people at VCON Open Filk, and they both reported that the lettering was very clear and easy to read, and the one who wanted to make occasional requests (and thereby participate in circle – neither perform) were able to participate exactly the same as everyone else.

We did have a couple of chips lose pips – interestingly, they were chips taken by sighted people who played with the dots a lot because “huh, this is new.” But even with that, we had more than we needed (I’d made five sets). My plan in future would be to continue having a decent supply, and just in case, take the glue gun along – it’s small, and takes less than a minute to make replacements, so why not?

I also rather enjoyed Eric Chu’s talk on designing for Battlestar Galactica, in no small part because given how well everything fit together, I would not have expected it to be quite so ad hoc. The time and budgetary constraints were far worse than I realised, as a viewer, so they did a fantastic job of making that not show up on screen.

Apparently, there are a lot of old VCRs in the background in Galactica’s C&C. lol, kitbashing. 😀

Oh, what else? Spider Robinson looked good and seemed happier than he’s been in a couple of years, which is great to see. Somehow, I managed not to make it to the art show, or even buy anything in the dealer room – I guess I was just too busy with panels and such. Concert went over well, the crowd grew while I was playing which is always a good sign. I went to a workshop on making cosplay armour, because I want to cosplay Pharah, even if it probably won’t happen. Rough idea of skill acquired.

VCON 41 GoHs

That’s a pretty good chunk of it, and all I have the brain for right now. Who else is going to GeekGirlCon this weekend?

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solarbird: (korra-excited)

So, yeah! Back at the lair, back directly from Clallam Bay Comicon! The Party on the Peninsula, Donna’s Weird Little Comic Show, Clallam Fun Days Adjunct and excuse to go relax on the coast for a weekend. Call it what you will, we even made the sign this year:

In a small town, that’s a big deal

Leanne Franson, this year’s GoH in from Montreal, does not stop. She’s the only person I’ve met who can match Donna Barr one-on-one. I bought a bunch of her books. I also finally picked up the Stinz collections – both volumes – and Volume 2 of Winging It, which I’d somehow never read back in the day.

Aside from the usual stuff, CBCC is where I will run little experiments, in front of tiny audiences who are just kind of surprised you’re there at all, so extremely tolerant. TO WIT:

Experiment number one! Remember “USSR,” that YMCA-based Soviet Disco song I wrote in response to a challenge on Tumblr? Well, here’s me doing it live, karaoke-style. I’d embed, but I had to put it on Tumblr because YouTube doesn’t like you uploading Karaoke performances, even if you wrote your own lyrics.

The crowd at the show was quite good, as you can maybe hear in the camera microphone, until about halfway through the show when the sky – which had been threatening all day – really opened up and the rain got serious, at which point an outdoor concert is not the most fun thing ever invented and a lot of people ran off. (Hey, I was sheltered…)

Still, a good day for me – as was, honestly, the whole weekend. You don’t go to CBCC to make money, but damned if I didn’t. Not sure what to make of that.

Experiment number two! I’d gone with the intent of running a panel on building old-technology microphones, but I realised as I was packing that I could haul along enough gear for people to hear their own voices, and make recordings I could hand them via Dropbox.

So I set up at our table, with the carbon mic hooked up to my laptop, and let people go at it all weekend. This was surprisingly popular. Several people made recordings – even when not in use, the microphone remained an attention magnet. Here’s Donna Barr singing an old Ukranian (I think) folk song, trying specifically to sound like a performer from the 1910s or so.

Interestingly, everyone wanted to use the carbon mic, and not the crystal, though they were curious about how both worked.

Experiment number three! I can’t tell you about experiment number three, so instead, have a picture of this other bay that’s on the way there, but I’ve never stopped to visit until now. Very nice.

The Other Bay

Experiment number four! Very similar to experiment number one, except for being “Kaiju Meat” instead of “USSR” and being able to properly mic up for a Godzilla footwear bridge solo. YOU WANT SOME GIANT LIZARD PODORYTHMIE I HAVE SOME GIANT LIZARD PODORYTHMIE

From a technical standpoint, this worked far better than it had any right to. As a performance experience… I think I’ll hold it for when I have an actual live band behind me. Doing it solo… with “USSR,” it felt like the Karaokeness added to the silliness in good ways. In “Kaiju Meat,” the combination didn’t feel like it worked as well.

But the Godzilla Footware Solo is definitely staying in.

Experiment number five! Field recording, using the new windscreen I’d bought, the kind that looks like a tribble got stuck on the end of your microphone. Result: SMASHING SUCCESS. Despite a constant ocean breeze, I got very clean recordings of waves on the shore, and of birds in the foliage nearby. Best investment is best!

Not as many photos this time, but I did take a few. As always, larger at the Flickr feed.

Clallam Bay

The Makah are building a canoe fleet

I realised I haven’t taken many or any pictures of the actual Clallam River heading into the bay. So I fixed that.

Fisher Who?

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solarbird: (korra-smug)

Back from Clallam Bay after a particularly successful event! More tomorrow, after I unpack and get things cracking here again. But in case anybody thinks there aren’t geeks out on the Olympic Peninsula, here’s one of several dozen wooden fence fish painted by students at the local high school.

That’s not how I’ve pictured the eye of harmony, but who am I to lecture people about their headcanons? XD

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solarbird: (pony-zebragirl)


all the ultimates, all at once

(stupid Overwatch addiction. stupid Zenyatta. stupid Zenyatta’s stupid orbs of discord always messing with my i’ll show him!)

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solarbird: (molly-content)

SO BUSY! We’ve landed back at the Lair for a couple of days, just long enough to help another supervillain unload gear into her lair – also mountaintop, also geologically active, good choice – and we’re headed right back out tomorrow. Really, it’s kind of a laundry stop more than anything else. Blogging will continue to be sparse for another couple of weeks.

I have a few photos from Westercon 69, though. Bigger on Flickr, of course.

Sunset from a Hotel Window

Society of the Crossed Keys cosplay. It’s from The Grand Budapest Hotel and utterly made my day.

Sometimes, the Gods are Kind, and you have one real pop in a sea of Shasta.

Panorama from a Hotel Room Party

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solarbird: (banzai institute)

Woo! We’re Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival official photos page. Wait for it and you’ll see Anna and me both! Front page! 😀 We’re in fact in several photos here – one where I’m performing solo (my extended version of Ten Finger Johnny) and later with Anna in session. 😀

(Sadly, the photos – by Rick West – were taken down in when they redid their website)

Newfoundland music on Newfoundland soil. That’s called the correct way Even if I do have an uncanny ability to blink just in time for the photo. XD

But now, back to business.

Last time, we talked about monitor speakers; what to look for when you have no money, characteristics to seek out, simple mods to improve their behaviour, and so on.

But unless you went with powered monitors, you’re going to need amplifiers to drive those monitor speakers. Since you’re reading this, you probably aren’t going to just go out and pay full retail for some very nice new equipment; let’s talk DIY!

First, I need to repeat something I said last time:

The cheap but rebuildable equipment you want mostly comes from the 1970s… There are a couple of key reasons for this: 1. By this time, transistor audio technology had settled down, and no longer sounded like ass. 2. The state of the art was finally good enough (in transistors) that the then-goal of broad and equal frequency handling – meaning, flat audio reproduction curves – became realistically attainable, and people were still trying really hard for it.

This is true in amplifiers, too. Some would argue that in amps, you want to stick to the early 70s. I don’t particularly agree, but be careful when you get into the early 80s, just because of audio fashion trends being what they were.

You can also step back a bit into the 1960s, if you’re willing to learn vacuum-tube equipment. In some ways, that’s easier to work on, and you’ll get fantastic bang-per-buck. Look for EICO, Dynaco, Harmon-Kardon, just for examples; and research tubes first, to see what’s back in production.

Tube equipment has downsides, though: you can’t tip them on the side, they use a lot more electricity, need more ventilation space, generate a lot more heat, and most importantly of all, the power rail tends to be hanging out in the 450 volt range. Careful with those pliers!

Think of it as the advanced class

So unless you’re okay with that, stick to the transistor era.

If you poke around, you can find a pretty good number of old 70s component-stereo-system amplifiers for very little money. Don’t buy the combined units, with turntables and tape decks built in; those were junk then, and are junk now. You’ll see nostalgia for some of that era, and entertaining tho’ that might be, it’s not our goal. Look for something that’s just amplifier and pre-amp – preferably a unit without even a radio.

Undeniably groovy, but still kinda terrible

Pioneer is usually a good, safe bet, as brands of the era go; it’s right in that sweet spot of quality and commonality. So is Harmon Kardon. Sansui, Kenwood, and Marantz are often excellent, but tend to cost more even now. My general approach is to keep an eye open and when I see something of the right sort, then search the web for it and see what people have to say. AudioKarma and Gearsluts are both pretty good data sources in this regard.

My current studio monitor amp is a Pioneer SA-5200. It was made for all of three years (1972-1975) and I picked it up at a thrift shop for all of $5. They go for under $35 on eBay, working to various degrees.

Not mine, but same model. Not so groovy, but far more competent.

It has no power to speak of (20w), but you don’t need it for this application; most importantly, it’s noted for being a very clean amp; very low distortion and very low noise, at least as it shipped from the factory. And it has enough power to drive all my mains, and reference headphones.

That said, it sounded pretty terrible when I bought it, and got worse over time. This is where you need to know something which may and may not make any sense to you, depending upon how much you know about electronics: electrolytic capacitors age and die. And every audio chain you’ll find in any of these amps uses lots of them.

You’ll have to rip out and replace every one.

I’ve talked often about how the most important item in your studio toolkit is the soldering iron. Amps of these vintage can be rebuilt, without complex tools. The parts are large and relatively easy to access. You’ll want a low-wattage soldering iron, so you don’t damage the board with too much heat. You’ll want direct-value replacement swaps on those capacitors, in terms of uF rating. (You can go higher in voltage if you want; that’s a matter of how much the capacitor will tolerate, so replacing with higher voltage is safe.)

The electrolytic capacitors look like this, on the circuit board:

Or Doctor Who. Are you The Doctor? No? Don’t reverse polarity.

Coming out of the bottom of each of those cylinders are a pair of metal wires. Those go through the circuit board and are soldered into place, making contact with the printed circuit on the other side of that board. You’ll need to de-solder those connections, pull up the capacitor, and replace it with caps of the same capacity.

As a side note, these are not the only kinds of capacitors. You’ll see many flat discs; those are ceramic capacitors. Barring physical damage, you’ll never need to replace one. Similarly, you’ll occasionally find flattish rectangular capacitors. Those are usually film, and again, leave them alone, they’re fine.

Doing all this is kind of a pain in the ass, but you generally need to do it in equipment of this vintage. Here’s a bit of a map:

It’s dangerous to go to Toshi Station alone! Take this.

Any stereo amplifier is really two amplifiers combined together into a single box, one for the left channel, one for the right channel. You can see above how this results in symmetrical layout of components! Anywhere you have that kind of symmetry, you’re dealing with the left and right channels, duplicated. Anywhere you’re not seeing symmetry, you’re probably looking at power circuits.

Advanced students will want to bypass the tone controls. There’s no single way to do that, so I’m not going to post pictures. But I will explain why: it’s because, as with the monitor speakers, you don’t want help. You want flat response, or as close as you can get to it. The ideal studio monitor amplifier would be a wire, with gain – that is, a wire that magically changed nothing about your sound other than volume.

Tone adjustment knobs and systems, by definition, deviate from flatness. They’ll also add noise, so just bypass them. It’s also one less set of components to rebuild, so saves you time!

And that’s how to get a quality monitor amplifier on the smallest budget – at least, that I’ve found so far. Next week: I dunno! Microphones, or possibly digital audio workstation software and computers to run it on. One of those. Happy rewiring! ^_^

ps: Let the kitty help!

No, no, not wire snips – can opener! Here, I’ll get it.


This post is part of The DIY Studio Buildout Series, on building out a home recording studio.

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solarbird: (toronto)

…and we’re back! Hiya! Back from St. John’s and Torbay and Shediac and Moncton and Joliette and Montreal and Toronto! Working backwards, more or less. There is far too much, and I’m still updating my written old-school journal, but there are things! And I have proof!

I stood in a Great Lake in Beaches:

Yes, my feet are in the water, even if it doesn’t look like it.

And The Mighty If, who was at the house concert later, posted video he took with his camera from the show, which is probably the first recording anywhere of “Get Out”:

Not you, you can stay

We hiked all over Toronto, or at least, downtown parts. This was an Eyesore of the Month building in the drawing stages some years ago and I looked at the drawings and totally agreed, but this is one of those cases where the drawings – and also what it looks like from a distance – are totally wrong, because on the ground once you’re nearby? It works great:

Look at this insanity. LOOK AT IT!

Holy Shit, Bay Street!

No left turns, indeed

Also for some reason some of their street cars have Elfquest pr0n names:

Intersects with Softsheath

And we found out where Cabbages Guy went after he left CabbageCorp:

My Cabbagetown!

And apparently:

Inspector Spacetime got a double-wide

Okay, okay, enough fandom crap. XD Toronto was awesome. How awesome? This awesome:

Canada Doesn’t Hate You

Thanks again so much again to Cow for having me in for a show (and for crash space!), and to both Cow and If for posting videos and pictures and everything! 😀

Next up: Montréal! This is already too many pictures, so I’ll post about that on Friday.

Tomorrow, the first of the studio build-out posts! I’ve got a lot of catching up to do – in everything – but that’s okay. Time to get busy!

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solarbird: (Lecturing)

Over on his Tumblr blog, Mike Doughty lead an article on touring with this paragraph:

Radiohead wouldn’t exist without early major-label funding. The future won’t bring new Radioheads. All I want to say here, truly, is: let’s get used to it.

This far, I agree. Hell, I started with something damn near identical in Part I of this series, which came out before his, so I didn’t steal it. XD

He follows with this:

This means that there will be fewer bands.

I strongly disagree, but not in the obvious way.

A bunch of things I was going to talk about today – the way that old-school touring doesn’t work – he covered, just after I’d finished outlining this article. Go read his, if you’re curious. But to summarise: less money, fewer traditional venues (by which I mean live-music bars and clubs), the dissolution of concert-going culture (and it is mostly gone), much higher travel costs, and more. Lodging’s no picnic either.

Take that as read; they are the facts on the ground.

It’s kind of like this

One of Mike’s answers is: don’t have a band. They’re too expensive, it’s too much money, it’s $6000 a week for bare-bones, you can’t do it. Sound amazing as a soloist or duo.

I disagree strongly with that dollar figure, but leave that aside for now.

“Don’t have a band” is a solution, and it does work. And in fact you’ll have to do that to some degree – or most of you will, there are always exceptions. As part of that, you have to find new kinds of places to play and new ways to book and so forth; we’ll get to that, I swear to you.

But he’s absolutely wrong about fewer bands. Fewer bands is not actually the answer. More bands is the answer.

Here’s how it works:

You want to tour. A lot of musicians don’t want to tour, but do want to play. They’ll have day jobs they like, but they’ll want to play out and put serious work into it.

So you tour around as a solo or duo at first. As you’re doing that, you network the living fuck out of all the good local people you can, and build enough contacts to have a band in every town. Or, at least, have one in the central towns within an area that’s a day-trip away from shows.

This has actually been my game plan with CRIME and the Forces of Evil. A lot of people seem to think I want to be a solo act. Were that the case, I wouldn’t have a band-style name.

This isn’t bad planning; it’s a strategy. And that strategy has been: work my act up, play far above where my few years of experience would indicate (which involves a lot of catch-up in skills), write an assload of songs, get attention, get known…

…and start attracting Forces. An ever-shifting cloud of supervillains musicians, non-travelling or even travelling musicians with whom I get to play in different towns and venues. We meet up, we practice a couple of times together, we do a few shows, it’s awesome, we go our separate ways until we come back together again.

Not entirely unlike this

The best part is, everyone get something out of it. Touring musicians who want bands get bands without the travelling expenses. Limited-touring people get a chance to step up, play with more people, build into however much mobility they want. Non-touring musicians get to be a part of it, for reals, without any of the touring stress.

Alternatively, there are still a fair number of cover bands out there. This can and should be a new lease on life for them. They’re already all about covering other bands; now they can do it with the actual act.

And what makes this workable is the same technology that upended the old system: cheap, easy, reproduction. You make a scratch recording of how you want a song to sound live. Channel left is everything from the song except the musicians you’re meeting up with; channel right is the part they need to learn. Play both, you get the whole song.

When you get into town, you rehearse a couple times as a unit, mostly to practice timing, and then you do your shows.

Everybody wins.

so much win

Now, it’s a skillset, as with everything else. But it’s a skillset people can and will learn. I know they will, because I didn’t invent this. It’s already happening. SJ Tucker was my gateway for this, but it’s all over the place in both filk and nerdcore, two of the big forms of geekmusic.

It even has names. Sometimes it’s called the Instaband concept. I think of it as the Hive, but that’s my Teen Titans fandom showing, or rather, the AU fanon where…

Right. Sorry. Topic drift.

Regardless, I saw this happening and thought, I want that. I’m adapting it to my own needs, and I’m trying to build on it and improve it, of course, and I write about things because I’m one of those people who sees a problem and a possible solution and starts waving their hands wildly about going GUYS GUYS GUYS OVER HERE OMG!

Which I like to hope is a contribution as well.

Also, I recognise the connection to pre-recording-industry town bands and orchestras. If you don’t know; every little town, even really little ones, used to have a little band that played all the events – holidays, parades, whatever. It’d be made up of all the local people who had businesses or farms or whatever, but who liked playing music. Touring musicians would utilise them, too.

St. Pepper reporting for duty, ma’am!

But it was much harder in many ways, because while you could have sheet music, you couldn’t know what it should sound like. So quality was lower, and it was supplemented by touring bands as that became more possible. With large touring bands becoming economically unviable, we’re kind of going back to that system, only this time, with far better tools – and better quality.

In short, all of this can happen, because it is and has done before. Given the correct circumstances, it will again.

And we’re over 1000 words already, so that’s all for today. We’ll talk about where to play out in a post-concert culture, and ways to make money at it, next time.

This is Part 4 of Music in the Post-Scarcity Environment, an ongoing series of articles about, well, what’s on the tin.

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solarbird: (music)

OMG you guys Westercon was so much fun! Having Leannan Sidhe and Marcos Duran on stage with me for the show? Epic and I so need to do that again. Also, I can’t believe programming tapped me to fill in for Alexander James Adams on stuff – they ran me around like crazy and I damn well earned my attending pro badge, but in a great way. And Greg Bear called me awesome after our panel together on Sunday. AAAAAAAAAAA so much fangirl squee.  O_O /

to wit

Panels went great. I have a few things to add to the Kitting Out Cheap handout (talking of: WESTERCON KITTING OUT CHEAP PARTICIPANTS: This is your digital handout!), the alien music panel was all sorts of fun, and leading the Pirate Parade lets you go around being total jerks but since you’re doing it as pirates everybody loves it. XD I got to listen to the Building a Spaceship panel from back stage while dressing for the parade, I wish I could’ve been there for the whole thing.

Really, I wanted to go to that convention twice, once so I could actually attend it. XD

yeaaaah that webstreaming thing

I’m sorry the concert webstreaming didn’t work! It didn’t work for anybody. The video people had server issues and couldn’t get it fixed until Sunday. They should be able to get me the audio and video, however, and I’ll see how that came out and hopefully get some of it on YouTube. Both tech crews (audio and video) had to struggle mightily against travails this past weekend, and worked their asses off doing it – hats off for grace under fire to all of them.

I bought so much art. You should totally check out Céline Chapus’s work. Also Elizabeth Berrien’s wire sculpture if you can see it in person – photos give you an idea, but don’t do it justice. Also, Torrey’s Prince Zuko costume is really good, she’s nailed that whole accurate-to-the-totally-wrong-scarring-in-the-show thing, the detail work is super-nice.

Also: best convention afterparty I’ve been to in some time, a great way to end the show. Thanks all you guys! I’ll get the next RIAA/business of music post up tomorrow, and see you next weekend at Comic Sans/Clallam Bay Comiket!

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solarbird: (assassin)


Hey, it’s Cyber Monday! I’ve got second-CD-shipping set to free, globally, on the band sales site, and second CDs are 20% off on CD Baby! Supervillain music: not only does it make a great present, but the locator chip in the jewel case tells us where not to aim the heat ray! GIVE THE GIFT OF NOT BEING SET ON FIRE! 😀

And now that’s out of the way…

I think I’m finally getting ahead of this learning curve.

I’m gonna put a couple of live videos on youtube, from the last stop on this past tour. I’m not sure what songs yet, I’m still narrowing that down. (Got any requests? Let me know.)

The deciding factor for what goes up will be video quality. It’s not how good the sound is, how good my mic discipline was, or even the performances, because really, that’s all just fine. It’s the video part.

And that’s new, and awesome. It’s taken a lot of work for all the many-more-things-than-you-know that go into a live amped and recorded show to come together this way. A year ago, I’d maybe get one live recording from a show that I’d’ve been okay to have public. “Something’s Coming,” on Dick Tracy Must Die, was recorded live at the Lyon’s Den, for example.

But most of them would’ve had one problem or another. Pops in the microphone. Some stupid fade. The minidisc player failing. Bad levels. The sound guy feeding my recorder the reverb effects return by accident, so all I had was reverb and not the actual music*.

Or voice problems! Singing isn’t my core talent, and I am leagues ahead of where I started, and ahead of last year. Getting good vocals was the hardest performance part of the studio album, by far; it took dozens of takes. Now, lately, I can pop off that level of performance without even thinking about it**.

Things like that. Live recording is hard work. So many things can and do go wrong.

But this year, this tour, and particularly, this last show, the first one where I have complete video? There’s also not a goddamn thing on this latest recording I wouldn’t play for somebody. Hell – I sing along.

Sure, there are flaws. It’s not perfect, there are always things I’d like to do better, particularly in vocals. And I need to patch together some way of getting genuinely separate vocal and instrument recordings, so I can do better equalisation and have better post-show mixes.

But this tour really was a level-up experience. Between the Spooky Action show, the guest spot with Leannan Sidhe that got me my own separate two-song encore***, the set I’m least happy with – the Sidhehaven show – being called “wonderful” on Facebook, and this?

I’m starting to think I might just be gettin’ the hang of this thing. I really do.

I like that. I like it a lot.

Stick around, why don’t you? This trip’s starting to get interesting.

**: I’ve got something I want to release for you guys SO MUCH but I’m still waiting for permission. SO. MUCH. First take, one take, true live recording (no separate vocals/instrument recording), BOOM and done. But it’s a cover, so release must wait.
***: and thanks so much again to them for putting up with that! <3 XD

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solarbird: (molly-happy)

First house tour is a wrap! Friday night I played my last show of this first set, out on Bainbridge Island, at Ann Lovejoy’s house, arranged by her son, Peter, and hosted by both.

And their cat

Every show this tour has been a great time and every one has had its own separate highlight – guesting with Leannan Sidhe and drawing a two-show encore, being all creepy and shit at Spooky Action at a Distance, enjoying the hospitality of the first official House Concert qua House Concert at Sidhehaven.

Bainbridge Island, tho’ – this one got a public review. Check this shit out:

Last night, Solarbird came over and did a House Concert out here, and totally rocked the house. And I mean rocked. It took me a long time to come down enough to drift off to sleep, with Stars still running through my head, and I’m still bouncing from it this morning… this was kind of in the same ballpark as having Lemmy or someone show up and do a set in the living room. It was awesome.

That kind of explodes my brain – with AWESOME! 😀 Thank you again, Peter and Ann, and I’m so happy that I did not disappoint. And thanks again to everybody, really; this was all new to me and I thank all of you for taking a chance on this.

I’m still in a bit of a daze, putting things back together and looking over video and inventorying what worked and what didn’t, working on my repair/new equipment checklist and and and that’s not important, I want to do this again! Now! Or in February, which seems reasonably possible. Anybody willing to host and invite people? Pleeeeease?

I’ve also been told that I should do conventions – anybody have an in, anywhere? Let me on a stage, I’ll play it. 😀

I’ll probably be too busy to post on Wednesday because of Second Thanksgiving. But maybe not, we’ll see. I still haven’t had time to pull the audio off the recorder yet, even! And next week is allll shopping and cooking. But here:

What're you eating for Second Thanksgiving?

  • AHM NOM NOM NOM TURKEY! (25%, 5 Votes)
  • What, First Thanksgiving isn't enough for you? (20%, 4 Votes)
  • I don't get you, Tickie. (20%, 4 Votes)
  • HAM! PONYO LOVES HAM! (15%, 3 Votes)
  • It's all about the pie. If you know what I mean. AITYD. (10%, 2 Votes)
  • Is that the one with the scary bolo tie man or is it something else? (5%, 1 Votes)
  • If tofu was good enough for the Puritans, it's good enough for me! (5%, 1 Votes)
  • Something else (answer in comments) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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Finally, have some photos:

Bye, Seattle!

I love ferries <3

Hi, Winslow

Hi, Boats!

Have a good week!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (music)

If you’re on the fan mailing list, you have a present waiting for you. It’s from last Friday’s show with Leannan Sidhe. Several people have already downloaded it since I put it up a little while ago. If you haven’t, go check your inboxes. A URL awaits! 😀

If you aren’t on the fan email list, you can’t download the present! NO LINK FOR YOU! And it won’t be put on Bandcamp. But you can still sign up – and if you do, you’ll get a link! A tasty, tasty link. With smarties!

Leannan Sidhe Sound Check, last Friday. Also enjoy videos.

I should’ve tried to record the Spooky Action show, but I didn’t. The lighting wasn’t anything my camera’s video function could handle, and also, I was lazy! But I did get a couple of nice cellphone pictures of the fire. The 3GS’s camera is a lot better than the old first-generation camera, f’srs:

Fire and Sparklies

Next show, third of four on this mini-tour*: FRIDAY! At Sidhehaven! (evite, Facebook.) I’ve got an idea for Dark and Light sets and I’m going to try them out here. Come! Bring a friend! It’ll be awesome.

Also, I REALLY WANT TO MAKE SOME BUTTONS and bring them to the show! Does anybody have a button maker I can borrow, like, today?

*: Weird trufact: I was very, very briefly in a band called Minotaur. I can’t type “Minitour” without seeing them instead. And no, Minotaur never had a minitour. It almost had an EP, tho’…

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (music)

So, wow. The first two stops in my first House Concert Tour are over – the guest appearance with Leannan Sidhe on Friday, and the Spooky Action at a Distance party and show on Saturday. Thank you so much, Fern and Corvi and Juli, for throwing these events and letting me be involved! I had a great time, and I hope everybody else did too!

The new Transformation Sequence edition of “My Boyfriend” worked about as well as I’d hoped. I came up with one more component literally on the way to the show, and added it without rehearsal, and it worked great. I do need to fix the headdress, tho’ – adhesive-attachment worked fine in rehearsal, but not on stage, so I’ll have to do that the right way for next time.

And! I got called up for an unplanned! encore! at someone! else’s! show! I still can’t believe that happened! The audience was all “YEAH!” and I was all “lol sure!” and then was like, “wait, seriously?” And I ended up going back up and doing two more of my own songs. Thanks so much to Leannan Sidhe for putting up with that 😀 because that’s not an experience you get to have very often!

I’m still all O.O over that one.

I am also told that I need to come up with a way to do Dalek Boy – “Danny Boy,” as sung by a Dalek, a Cyberman, and a Mechanoid, a.k.a. the Bacon for Birds people and myself – live, and also, I am told I need to write a song about Munchkin.

Then Saturday! and SPOOKY ACTION! The party got going a little late, which was actually kind of good since it let me get in a little nap after the drive down, and a little warmup before people arrived. Incidentally? Corvi and Juli put on quite the spread of hospitality out on their little farm, I gotta tell you. I think my favourite were the chocolate covered pomegranate seed clusters, because they weren’t dehydrated in any way, so it was chocolate and pom and juicy. So simple yet so good.

But then people started arriving, and everybody played with flash paper and sparkle chemicals around the bonfire, and after a few visits from the Bad Idea Bears I realised I had to do an impromptu rendition of Paul and Storm’s Ten Finger Johnny. I think we managed all the really bad ideas except for flash paper hats, but somehow, everybody still had all their fingers at showtime! And only a couple of blisters.

Bad Idea Bears

Then, showtime! Around 12:30am. Hey, only four and a half hours later than planned, and we get one of those back thanks to the return of Normal Time! I had lots of fun doing the spooooky creeeepy set, complete with candlelight and growls in the dark. That’s fun. <3 But I wasn’t going to send them off into the night that way, so closed on “Stars,” which is an even lighter song performed without all the bass solos and drums and such – the mandolin alone can carry that song, because when I’m doing it solo, I really just tear loose with the mandolin work and am basically playing chords and simultaneously soloing the whole damn time, only ducking the complexity down for lyrics.


Were you at either show and made your way here? Tell me what you thought! This tour is my first set of house concerts, so it’s all new and exciting! And I’m making it up as I go along and having one hell of a good time so far. Best of all, I get another go on Friday! Yay! o/

So I’m really looking forward to this Friday at Sidhehaven. Please come out for it! And if you can’t, there’s the Bainbridge Island show on the 18th.

And while we’re at it – how was your weekend?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (music)

If you’re reading this on Friday, listen up: I’m playing tonight, providing some instrumental backup for Leannan Sidhe, at a house concert at 13309 23rd Ave. NE in Seattle. RSVP info here.

It’s mostly their show, of course, but Leannan Sidhe’s lead singer has also asked me to perform one of mine: My Boyfriend, which is my political Sailor Moon song about writing out queer characters in US translation. (If you don’t know the story, listen to it before the song.) This is pretty much the opposite of her and her music – so really, I’m there to throw her into sharp relief. XD

But the request got me thinking, “Y’know, this song is missing something, live.” Of course, what it’s missing is a drum kit. But aside from that, I realised that I think it’s also missing a really terrible costume change mid-show.

I have taken possibly disturbing steps to rectify this situation.

Then tomorrow, all the way down in the wilds north of Olympia, in the South Sound, I have Spooky Action at a Distance, where I’m contributing a set and Juli will be doing a short reading and hopefully some glasswork and maybe some other things! All of which I hope happen. It’s been a while since I’ve done anything Seriously Arty. One way or another, THERE WILL BE ART!

Oh, the latest Trad o’ th’ Month, Red is the Rose (with Leannan Sidhe) is, like the rest of the Cracksman Betty project, a free/pay-what-you-want download.

I’ve had a couple of people say they feel bad about downloading without hitting the tip jar, so don’t download free things. Really, if I minded, I’d put a price on it. This is what Cracksman Betty is for, along with experimentation and learning. Put another way: I need ears more than I need a dollar. NOT THAT BOTH WOULDN’T BE GOOD. But if I want your money that much? Don’t worry. I’ll steal it from you. XD

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (music)

It’s Friday! Friday very early in the morning, Cascadia time – really still Thursday night, socially, you know how that goes.

I have something I can’t talk about yet! But I can talk about November 5th. Doesn’t November 5th sound nice? I think it sounds nice. Maybe nice for a trip down to the south sound. Just, you know, for fun. That evening.

This should not be confused with the House Concert at Sidhehaven, which is on November 11th, and further south! Please RSVP there or here, and come and stuff – it’s my very first house concert! And I’ll have a new song.

I also have something else I can’t talk about too specifically, but I’m hoping to release as a new free/pay-what-you-like Cracksman Betty track! It’s a cover song. Of sorts.

See, I’d heard this song, and liked it, and when I was prepping for the Talk Like a Pirate Day show at Juanita Bay, I realised with a little tweaking it could be a really good modern pirate song! So I was trying to remember how the music went from memory and reconstruct it, and, um, I kind of… missed. By a LOT.

By which I mean I wrote new music, like y’do. Oops. XD

But I really like my version. o/ So I’ve got permissions request in to the original artist, and we’ll see! He’s not opposed in principle, but wanted to hear it, and he has an mp3 waiting for him. It’s still mostly his lyrics, so I really hope he signs on. The original music was traditional, so we’re good there.

Oh, mustn’t forget this:

What else? I found out that some people missed a bunch of the horror film polls entirely – like, didn’t see notice of them or anything! That kind of explains the low turnout. Are people seeing the final championship poll?

Or are people just not as into horror film as I thought, even this time of year? That’s kind of a shame, since all of these are really good in different ways, from Quatermass and the Pit‘s postwar British SF to what is for my money absolutely Carpenter’s best film Prince of Darkness, which has…

A lot of films use the warning/message-from-beyond shtick. Lots of them. That part of This Island Earth is the part that’s actually really effective, creepy, and weird. I love that first reel to death. (In the MST3K treatment, it’s almost entirely cut out – it’s too unironically good. You could mock it, but why? Best to cut it out.)

But in horror – for my money, no film plays that game better than Prince of Darkness. None. So much ambiguity, so much uncertainty, but at the same time, so much existential need to act. Fantastic.

And! Bride of Frankenstein. For my money, the best of the classic era. So luscious, so lovingly filmed, so weird. It’s like an art film, in the best senses – experimental, daring, a story of defiance with a cold heart of hardest stoic inevitability, wrapped in a tight little horror plot, bundled in some of the most beautiful visuals of the classic Universal horror set. What’s not to love?

I’ll leave you with this bit of WTFery, IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS from a box of labels I bought three days ago:

I had an HP IIIp – in 1994. And guys, even grandma’s not using that printer anymore. It’s not even like that’s generic print art; these are instructions specific to those printers. And to no other printers. Just those. Print cartridges for them haven’t even been available since 2007. Guys – let it go. Okay? XD

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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solarbird: (music)

Leannan Sidhe is in the Lair, working out some vocal scratch tracks to hand to her minions (no) guitar slaves (no) bandmates for the next set of songs she’s writing. (Gods dammit it’s hard working with musicians who aren’t supervillains, I gotta tell you. All the terms change.) She’s already thinking ahead to her next album, which is what any good supervillain musician really should be doing if they have a lot of ideas.

Ambitious ideas. Muah.

But also, I’m trying to put together a little late autumn/winter house concert tour! I’ve already got a bunch of people to contact – and have sent a bunch of mail – but if you host that sort of thing and I don’t know about it already, let me know! I haven’t done this before, so I’m mostly looking for small house concerts – even 6-12 people would be fun. I’m wanting to do a series of intimate and unique house concerts up and down the Cascadian corridor. So, LET THE CONCERT …. TRAIN …. THINGIE …. START!

Goddammit I should’ve rehearsed that. XD

Anyway, send me mail if you know somebody, anywhere between Vancouver and Eugene. Also Victoria! I’ve never been to Victoria. NO REALLY I HAVEN’T IT’S JUST SAD. HELP ME FIX THIS!

The Botanical Apocalypse poll is still going! If the answer you want isn’t on there, comment and I’ll add it. This isn’t a contest, it’s research. (My gf Poison Ivy wants to know.)

Finally, enjoy a conversation from the Lair:

Solarbird: Why is this surprising?
Minion Paul: It’s black! It’s disgusting!
Solarbird: Sesame ice cream is black and that’s really good!
Minion Paul: Sesame ice cream doesn’t come out of a creature’s orifice!
Solarbird: Milk comes out of a cow!
Minion Paul: MILK is not BLACK!
Solarbird: Now I need to genetically engineer a cow that makes sesame ice cream.
Minion Paul: …
Minion Anna: Well, what’s what you get for living with a supervillain.

Leannan Sidhe announces that she has determined that Cthulhu’s weakness is soy sauce, and hypothesises about the wisdom of Cthulhu sushi. She’s hoping for a Guild grant. I think she may have supervillain potential after all!

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
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