Category: Recording


Ryan Brown snare drum

Among the percussion instruments Ryan Brown brought to the recording session was a handmade snare drum. Ironically, the man that made the drum lives in Texas near San Antonio. He’s a woodworker who uses trees on his land for his projects. If I find out his name, I’ll edit this post.

He told Ryan he wanted to make a drum for him. He had made a lot of things out of wood, but not instruments. He wanted to give it a try. What was Ryan going to say?

When he brought it to the studio, he had just picked it up when he got home from a tour with Dweezil Zappa. My songs were the first songs ever played with that snare drum, particularly on a recording. As you can see, it is a piece of art. You can tell by the changing color and grain of wood that it is strips of wood, painstakingly arranged and fitted.

And you’ll be able to hear the first recordings with it on my cd. Incidentally, you can pre-order the cd at danroark.com.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

Dan Roark, Lou Castro, Ryan Brown

My oldest son, Conner, an audio engineer and owner of Refrigerator Records, and I arrived at Mikal Reid’s studio in Woodland Hills, California. We had come out the night before to get everything ready. So it didn’t take Conner too long to get things set up.

When Conner told me he had Lou Castro, noted LA session musician,

Ryan Brown, Lou Castro, Dan Roark

and Ryan Brown, drummer for Dweezil Zappa, lined up to play on my cd, I was elated, as you can understand. I had not expected to play with that level of talent. And I didn’t know what they would think of my songs.

Lou Castro

I sent Lou and Ryan the songs I wanted to record. A couple of days later, I talked to Lou and he said he liked my songs. So I felt a little better, but I hadn’t talked to Ryan. So I’m in the studio playing guitar and warming up while Conner sets up the mics and headphones. About twenty minutes later there was a knock on the door. It was Ryan Brown. Lou was going to arrive a little later. Conner let him in. Before I had a chance to react, Ryan walked up to me.

Ryan Brown

“Are you Dan?” I nodded. “I like your music. Awesome songs.”

I was blown away, to say the least. While Ryan was setting up the drums the way he wanted them, Lou arrived and got set up with his bass. After Conner got all the levels set, we started the session with the Aardvark song. Once we began playing, all nervousness left me and it was just fun.

Dan Roark

Four to five hours later, we had nine songs done, a couple on the first two takes. We didn’t take any breaks. Mainly because I got so involved in playing that I didn’t think about it. Nobody else said anything either. When you have a groove going, no reason to stop.

Except that after three hours of straight playing and singing, I felt a cramp in my right hand gaining intensity. My voice was sounding rough. We weren’t using the vocal track anyway, but I was still straining my vocal chords. The cramping was a more immediate issue.

I made it through the nine songs. I only had eleven in mind. Of the two we didn’t get recorded, one was a song I already had recorded, but wanted to redo it. The other song was more of an acoustic song anyway.

We spent the next hour talking about music and telling stories while Conner transferred the files to his hard drive. As well as comparing music scenes. It was a very pleasant way to end a good day of recording – with the exception of the throbbing in my hand.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

My show at Tribal Cafe on Sunday, November 12 was my second show there. I played a show with Gary Stockdale there back in April. It’s a funky little place in the Echo Park area of LA, not far from Dodgers Stadium.

The menu is healthy, expansive, and all over the wall by the order window. It’s best to ask what they recommend – the choices are overwhelming.                                                                           

The crowd was not as big as in April, but was just as enthusiastic. Neighborhood folks came in and lingered for a song or two while they waited for their order. Some stayed for a few songs. And the staff is always receptive to music.

I played a set of songs that included most of the songs on my new cd that I was to begin recording the next day. From the title song, Hello Out There, to the Aardvark Song, to Wishy Washy World and others.

Dan Roark

The upper picture is from my April show. The  picture to the left is my look this trip. After my set, I hung around to listen to the first few performers in the open mic. My thoughts on the performers will be in another post comparing Dallas open mics to LA open mics.

But if you’re in LA and want a funky neighborhood place to eat, check out Tribal Cafe. Friendly service, good food, innumerable choices – great place for coffee or smoothie. Entertainment pretty much every day of the week.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

 

In less than a week I’ll be in North Hollywood. I have eight shows in ten days, while recording during the day on six of those days. I have the good fortune to have noted LA bassist, Lou Castro, playing on my cd. Not to mention Ryan Brown, Dweezil Zappa’s drummer. Then there is Jimena Fosado, one of the hottest young guitarists in LA. With my son, Conner as engineer and producer. Conner also owns Refrigerator Records.

As if that wasn’t enough, I play at Rumi Cafe on Thursday and Friday. Then Tribal Cafe on Sunday and Ireland’s 32 on Monday. The Cork Lounge on Tuesday, then Guitar Merchant on Wednesday. Back at Rumi on Thursday and Friday. The Saturdays are in the works.

If you would like pre-order the cd, Hello Out There, you can do so on the store page of my website. Buying anything else in my store would also help with expenses.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Last night I went to Bedford for the Movie Tavern micro music festival. Dillon Moses was the host. They also have a micro music festival at the Movie Tavern in Denton on Thursday. With every performer playing four to six songs, and a relaxed atmosphere, it really was more like a micro music festival.

I seemed to be the only one who wasn’t from the “neighborhood.” There’s some good, young, local talent in the area judging from what I saw and heard.  We entertained the crowd having a few drinks before their showing of Thor came around.

I usually have a standing appointment on Thursday nights. It was called off for this week, so I headed to Bedford. With a recording session in LA coming up next week, I figure I can’t practice too much and there is no better way of doing it than playing an open mic, micro music festival, showcase, or the like. My plan is to play tonight at Mex-Go on Central in Allen. Then the LSA Burger Co. open mic in Denton on Monday, New Faces Tuesday at Love and War in Texas, Plano in the heated patio, and Songwriters Night at Guitars and Growlers in Richardson on Wednesday.

Then home to get ready for an early morning flight on Thursday that will begin ten days in LA. Which will include eight shows – a mixture of open mics and showcases – with an eye for setting up shows for a future trip. It will also include six days in the studio – an entire post in itself.

So come on out and join me at any of the places I’m playing through Wednesday. Come to listen or play. They’ve all got good food and drinks.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Genaro Sendejas

Genaro Sendejas

The second week of the Reach for the Stars competition at Harbor Point on Friday began with Little Anthony introducing Deano Isaac, winner of week one. He sang a couple of Frank Sinatra songs, and a song that Elvis Presley covered. James Idley began the week’s competition with a few R&B tunes. My fellow judges were Lonny Schonfeld, Pete Cormican, and Gus Garza. [Read on if you would like to play as a fill-in or compete.]

Darby Martin played next. As he did when he played the week before when he came in second, he played an original song. For his third song, he put his guitar down and sang to a track. Isaac came back up and sang a couple more songs in a fill-in performance. Then Jack King – the Magic Guy with the Bow Tie – performed a few magic tricks, also as a fill-in performer.

The competition continued with Rachel Schriver, who also sang the week before. She seemed to have more

James Idley

James Idley

confidence this week and did well. She is also a veteran, for which she received applause and support. Genaro Sendejas followed with three good original songs, accompanying himself on guitar. David Marcus followed Sendejas. Marcus has a very good voice that is reminiscent of Frankie Valle and singers of that era.

LTD is a man and woman duo. I tried to get their names, but was told just to put LTD. They sang a couple of songs, including a Doobie Brothers tune, before she sang the last song alone. Cheryl McGuire came on next as a fill-in performer. She sang a few of the songs she sings at her nursing home shows.

David Marcus

David Marcus

A guy named Dan Roark closed the show with of few of his songs before the winners were announced. Genaro Sendejas came in first and will open the show next week. James Idley and David Marcus came in second and third, respectively.

Come join us at Harbor Point next Friday at 8 p.m. to hear Genaro and see what the evening brings. If you would like to play as a fill-in or compete, call Anthony at    214-660-4799 (no texts). Good food, reasonable drinks, and friendly staff. And a lot of good music. See more pictures on my FB music page.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

Dan during video shoot

The week before we filmed footage for the What the Lord Intends (Sack Summer Hunger) music video, I kept practicing the song. I had already been playing it frequently in support of the program. But since we were going to film me playing the song, I wanted to be able to do it in as few takes as possible.

On Friday night, I played it numerous times. Then I got up Saturday and played the song to warm up. I arrived at the church at 8 a.m. I set up my camera and filmed myself playing the song a couple of times. Marcus Belmore arrived and began getting footage of the volunteers, including me, sorting and delivering the food to the families whose children received free or reduced lunches during the school year, but nothing during the summer.

I don’t know about other songwriters, but when I write a new song that I really like, I have a hard time getting it out of my head. And since I was playing it in support of the program during the summer, What the Lord Intends was really stuck in my head. I played it a couple of times after I got home from the church.

After a nap and dinner, I later decided to play the song again. I fingerpick on the song and couldn’t play the opening licks for the likes of me. My fingers just wouldn’t work together in the syncopated way they normally would. It was comically frustrating, if you catch my drift.

The lack of dexterity actually concerned me for a moment – even though it was only on that song. Working at the computer a lot of the time, I’m used to carpal tunnel type symptoms. I exercise my hands frequently. Playing guitar helps to stretch the fingers. Except in this case when the two worlds collided, so to speak.

Are there any lessons to be learned? Never play guitar after a nap and dinner? I don’t think so. Never film a video at a church on Saturday morning? Again, no. Don’t play the same song one more time, being tired, without playing other songs? That’s closer.

Anyone had this, or something similar, happen to them? Any other lessons to be learned? I laugh about it now, but it was scary for a while, not having the fingers work on a song.

Peace be with you.

jbl-harman-truckI’m on the home stretch – catching up-wise. On September 28, I had the good fortune to play one of my songs for a video in the EON ONE Take – One Song One Take contest from JBL Professional and Harman. I had been picked from a large number of people to receive a slot. I arrived at the Harman truck in the Guitar Center parking lot in Farmers Branch before my required time. I signed the required form and waited my turn.

J.T. – I’m pretty sure that was his name – had me tune and set up, then do a sound check. When the red line came on, I played my newest song at the time – Peace Be With You, which I wrote about the strange year we’re having and the shooting during the protest in downtown Dallas. [A live version will be available soon.] J.T. seemed to like the song. I’m sure he has to be careful lest someone misunderstand. He explained how the contest would go from there.

The tour around the country concludes about the end of October. Voting will take place the first couple of weeks in November and the top ten finalists will be picked and notified. I’m not sure how the grand prize winner will be picked from the finalists, but the grand prize is a trip to LA to record the song at a noted studio.                                                                                                                                                              akg-d5

As I thanked J.T. and left, he handed me an AKG D5 microphone for recording the video and entering the contest. I used the microphone when I hosted the Monday open mic at Angela’s at the Crosswalk a week ago Monday and the mic performed beautifully. A very clear sounding mic without any of the annoying whine or scream on the high end. At $99, it’s a great deal.

Hopefully, I’ll be asking for your help to do whatever I have to do should I be chosen as a finalist. But I’m not holding my breath.

Peace be with you.

West Texas Mammoths 1In a previous open mic tales post, I talked about the two guitarists of West Texas Mammoths. David Kapsner and Michael Jekot played an acoustic set that night. Michael sat in with me on my song, Chocolate Eclairs and Apple Fritters. Monday night I had the pleasure – as did all those in attendance at the Poor David’s Pub open mic, hosted by Mr. Troll, to see the whole band play. There was a decent crowd, there for both the band and the open mic.

The duo played a very good acoustic set the previous time. The full band played a fantastic set equally as impressive as the acoustic show, but on a different level. That level was set by the punch and drive of Tyler Rosa on bass and Joseph Noga on drums. The set began with Backwoods, and One More Beer, from their three song EP. And every band needs a beer song. Red Dress, and Moth to Flame, preceded Wasted Days, the third song from the EP. So Cold came next.

Pistol Point was the next to last song, but was easily the best song of the set. All of WTM’s songs are steady West Texas Mammoths 2driving songs with the nicely timed leads of Michael Jekot. Kapsner kept the rhythm in his own right as his vocals blended seamlessly into the songs. But, in Pistol Point, they pulled out all the stops. The band whipped into jam mode, with the two guitarists playing duel leads reminiscent of the Allman Brothers. Queen of Diamonds nicely wrapped up the set.

It is refreshing to hear a young rock band that is more into playing good music than outer trappings and a spastic stage show. They took control with the first song and never let go, with one song driving into the next. You have a chance to hear them for yourselves. They are playing at Trees tomorrow night with Bart Crow, Madison King, and Marcus Woolverton. Don’t miss the chance for a really good show.

Peace be with you.

Space Gringos 2The first open mic tales post of the new year is about the featured artist at the last open mic at Poor David’s Pub – hosted by Mr. Troll – of 2015. The featured artist was Space Gringos. Troll wrote a post about them being the featured artist, but their music is not online – yet, read on. So I had no idea what to expect.

Troll kicked off the open mic, as usual. Three other songwriters played their songs. Then Space Gringos set up on stage. The serious electronic drum set that Tim Moffet was setting up made me wonder what type of music we were about to hear. Then his brother, Dan, set up their personal monitors and broke out his AX-Synth Synthesizer and looper which took my thoughts of what we were about to hear in a totally new direction.                                                                                                                          Space Gringos

When they kicked off their set, there was a familiarity with some of their music I couldn’t place. Then either Tin Man Travis or Troll said the synthesizer reminded him of Edgar Winter. Which explained the familiarity I felt. Except that the keyboard, then synthesizer, that Winter first played was much bigger and bulkier than the sleek AX-Synth.

Space Gringos is an apt name. With the driving beat of Tim’s drums, and Dan’s synthesizer and looping finesse, the result is full sounding in-your-face rock –  with a liberal dose of otherworldly quality reminiscent of not only Edgar Winter, but some of David Bowie’s work. Which you will be able to hear soon – I told you to read on – their album will be on CD Baby soon. In the meantime, you can find them on Facebook and Bandmix. Be sure to catch their show when you can.

Peace be with you.

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