Down The Rabbit Hole...

In Rothschild, Wisconsin for the 18th Annual Blues Cafe - 3/11/17

In Rothschild, Wisconsin for the 18th Annual Blues Cafe - 3/11/17

It's finally spring and, being the hot-blooded creature that I am, it's great to be seeing warmer temperatures, especially after a particularly frigid trip up to Wisconsin earlier this month for the 18th Annual Blues Cafe.  Once it was obvious that I'd be driving in single-digit temps for the first time, I quickly began checking into cold-weather (nah, make that FREEZING-weather) camping and whether or not I needed to take special precautions.  

Turns out, not so much.  But there are certain things that folks from cold weather climates know that us sandy-beach, sandal-wearing types have no experience with.  Like, don't turn your defroster on full-blast with a frozen windshield.  I was just starting to make the trip out of Charleston, Illinois, where I'd performed at Jackson Avenue Coffee, when I heard what sounded like ice cubes cracking in a glass full of slightly warmer liquid.  Horrified, I looked at the windshield, which had a small spider crack in it from picking up a rock on the road, as it began to spread.  I knew I should've gotten that fixed when it first happened.

Thankfully, Florida insurance law has a zero-deductible replacement clause and now Imua has a brand new windshield and I've got a valuable lesson learned.  

Beyond that, nothing crazy happened, though I did get to witness the odd sight of my gray tank leak forming two Jack London-esque icicles as I drove through America's Dairyland.  Y'all can keep that cold stuff.  Give me blazing hot any day of the year.

Had a great time up north and stopped over in Nashville, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky to visit with the Grand Old Dulcimer Club and Louisville Dulcimer Society before coming back home. With nothing but a private party gig planned, I had time to sit down and finish recording the music for "Milagro Canyon Jam Trax Volume Two: Mountain Dulcimer Edition."  This book and CD set is geared especially for mountain dulcimers, though any instrument can play along. Designed to help players embrace improvisation, the 23 tracks are all in keys easily navigated by the lap dulcimer and the book introduces key elements of improvisation, making it more accessible to beginning and intermediate players.  I'm doing the final mixing of tracks today and will complete the book next week, so this new addition to my library of titles should be out and available to the general public by mid-April.

Of course, my patrons on Patreon are enjoying it right now, since I've been posting the rough tracks and chord sheets during the production.  This is how it rolls with all of my projects; patrons get it immediately.  To get a sneak preview, visit my Patreon page and look for the Featured Tags section on the left side.  Click on "open house" and download a track from the upcoming book as well as a whole bunch of other goodies.  For as little as $5 per month, you can get access to all new material and all of my self-published books, CDs and HD episodes of "Dulcimerica", among other fun stuff! 

Also, on Patreon, I've started posting "The Improv Files", a monthly four-song offering for Turquoise Level ($12) patrons and more.  This will be an ongoing series of tunes, crafted on the fly and recorded in various situations and settings, from in the studio to out in the woods.  I love creating new music and the challenge that it brings to deliver four new pieces a month, so I hope you'll sign up and pledge today!  All funds go towards helping maintain and acquire new software, hardware, gear and accessories for creating music and video as well as providing school and library programs for districts with no arts budget and keeping an emergency fund on hand for road traveling.

Damn, that's cold!

When I get busy on a project, it's down the rabbit hole I go.  The workings of the ADHD mind are mysterious, you know?  We're easily distracted by shiny things and are horrible multi-taskers (it's a myth anyway, right?) but give us something to be passionate about and don't even bother knocking on the door, man.  We're busy.  It's been that way with MCJTv2 and it's been even more so with my pursuit of aerial photography via the 3DR Solo quadcopter.  At least I have a music background, but this drone stuff is all freshly-fresh to me, so it's been an eye-opening journey farther down into that burrow.

My latest video is a collection of practice shots gathered between January and March.  I take the Solo with me on every road trip, looking for new places to get sweet imagery.  With the lionshare of this footage gathered in Florida, I decided to edit together a video called "Florida Flight" and posted it earlier this week.  Shooting from an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle is one thing, but editing the footage is a little different than the work that I'm used to.  After reading up on things like propeller, motor and gimbal vibration, I went back to this video and made a number of post-production changes to improve the overall image quality and flow. If you've the time or inclination, check out both videos below.  If you're running on a tight schedule, just watch the second video.  

What a lot of people don't realize is that cameras, especially the kind that you find in professional rigs, don't capture the world the way that we see it.  There's a lot of image editing that needs to take place in order to make the visuals pop, sing and thrill.  Things like color correction and scaling, filters and adjustments, removing fish-eye from GoPro lenses and using rolling shutter to get rid of video "jello" are all part of the routine and it's all fairly new to me.  Yet, if you watch both videos, you can see the big difference between some of the shots.  It's been an amazing week of discovery and I'm looking forward to using the Solo in upcoming travelog episodes of "Dulcimerica."

Well, the studio beckons, so I'm going to wrap this up and get to mixing, something that's second nature to me and as comfortable as a well-worn pair of shoes and a styrofoam cup of boiled peanuts.  The next big road trip is next month as I head up to New York City for a pair of shows and an in-studio radio interview and performance on WFDU-FM "Traditions."  Until then, keep up with new stuff via the mailing list and please check out Patreon to see what it's all about.  There's a lot going on right now and it's just about to get busier.  I can only hang out in this dark rabbit hole for so long, you know.

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