Well I finally worked it all out. I have figured a way to play my music live and hopefully make it interesting enough to keep people from falling asleep.
I’ve looked various at technologies and about a thousand different ways to work it from a technological level, but no matter what I came up with, I couldn’t find anything that would work for me. I found this a little disappointing being a technology nerd but there doesn’t seem to be anyway (that I can find) that will work with my situation and requirements. I looked at various iPad apps and even considered at one point getting a mac laptop and running LOGIC Pro live which still would not work for me.
So the only thing that I could do is take the tech down a couple rungs and work it from the ground up. Also I didn’t really want to spend any huge amounts of money on something that will probably have zero return (not that I’m doing this for money, but it’s a consideration for sure). What actually got me thinking in this way was something I read in a online form discussion about playing live. I was trying to determine what technologies other musicians used for playing live and I came across this one online form entry. The gentleman stated his live music sequencer was his iPod. He had loaded all his bed tracks on his iPod and just played along with his bed tracks. Someone else on the form asked him what other musicians thought of this when they came to hear him play. His reply was, “It doesn’t matter, they don’t know the difference anyway!” That really put things in perspective for me and potentially saved me a bunch of cash.
I purchased a little mixer off of eBay along with an el-cheapo D/A converter. The reason I bought the mixer was so that wherever I played, I would always have a consistent, ready-to-go, guerilla style set up that would be quick and easy to set up.
The computer I will be using is my old netbook which I am hoping to use as is. It’s light and has a ton of solid state disk space. I will mix down my bed tracks to WAV files play them back as required into the mixer via a D/A converter.
The beauty of this setup is being able to go from an acoustic to an electric sound almost instantly. I am also building a very basic footswitch to switch from bridge piezo to single coil pickup output. Actually the switch will alternately short out each output, emulating the way the inboard sector switch works on the guitar. The guitar I’ll be using is a Parker Nitefly fed through my old Line 6 POD 2.0 w/pedal board. For the acoustic sound I plan to feed the signal straight into the mixer. I’m going to compress both outputs from the guitar separately.
I may change it up a little and add a few things as I go, but for now I’m looking at speed and weight factors. I don’t have a road crew and I don’t plan on playing in any super-swanky places either. The whole thing might be a bust. It’s hard to say. I’m trying to stay optimistic as possible.
I was really worried for a while that I may not be able to come up with a clean, relatively worry-free, setup for playing live but I’m sure this will work. Once I get it all set up, I will be rehearsing the set list like there is no tomorrow. Playing live is nerveracking and a lot different than playing along with a computer in the privacy of your own home.
The real focus in making this project work will be the bedtracks. Because some of the tunes I wanted to work on are over a decade old, the technology and files that went in to create them are long gone from my life. At first I though recreating these old tracks would be a huge pain in the posterior but it actually turns out to be a huge blessing instead.
I now have an opportunity to totally reboot the arrangements and sound quality of the old tunes and super charge and package them in the form of a “Best of Kevin Atwood” CD concept project. Although at this point there may never be an actual physical CD, it’s hard to say how things will go but we’ll see how it plays out. (It depends on how much more money I will feel like loosing.)
I have started to work on some tracks and I think it’s going to be really good. In fact I’m counting on the tunes to be my live performance ace-in-the-hole. I will be able to wield the power of my DAW with all it’s 3rd party plugins to take the quality of the tunes up a couple of notches and also create a “live” presentation type of arrangement. (i.e – won’t be standing idle like a dork on stage while waiting for an oboe solo to end.)
I am actually excited to see this project come to fruition. Things are coming together quite nicely.
I will keep you (all) posted.
BTW – If anyone has any questions they would like ask me about this post (or any music item), please ask away. I’ll try to answer as quickly as possible.