BOB’S BLOG
DECEMBER 2009

Completing the project at Specs and my “band” and life philosophy

It’s hard to imagine two months flew by and we went from the Halloween and the Fall season to the Holiday season in the blink of an eye.

In my life, to say it’s been a busy time is NOT a big of a deal.  It’s ALWAYS busy for me, but yes, these last couple months have been particularly crazy.

The anniversary of my arrival on planet Earth passed uneventfully, which is probably a good thing although more people remembered this year than usual.  Thanks to all who did!

At the beginning of this range of time, I was playing in FOUR different bands.  Two of those bands have since gone into “hiatus” mode, which kind of turned out to be a good thing, but each experience is valued, past or present.  

My work life as a tech guy at Specs Howard has been busy, sometimes stressful or at least challenging.   The good part is the “peak” of my work has more or less come and gone for the current project.  

In January 2010, the Specs Howard School of Media Arts is set to unveil its computer-based audio delivery system in 21 of its practice studios.   Part of that involved replacing existing computer technology with newer equipment. Part of the hardware decision was made mostly by me, somewhat late in the game.  

Connecting everything to digital consoles twenty-one times – then tying everything together to a central server (as it would be in a traditional broadcast facility) became my “baby.”  I feel like I learned a lot in the process as the software interface is also brand new (Enco Systems DAD “Presenter”).

After the holidays, students will get to learn what I learned in bits and pieces. It will be much easier, however, because I’ve already completed the physical wiring and installation for them!

How does one get past such brain-stretching experiences – literally figuring out the method of installation for these studios -- almost on the spot -- and have them actually work?

I have used music – either listening or playing as a stress-reliever.  During my commute home, I always have a CD or two or three to listen to closely, but that’s not all.  Some nights, I also actually had band rehearsal, which is my creative outlet, and listening to those CDs is sometimes a form of “practice,” for those sessions as well.

During the period I worked on the studios, two guys – band leaders, veteran musicians and good friends – have helped to preserve my sanity whether anyone knew it or not.

About three years ago, I was invited to become the bass player for “Tri-County Blues” – a six-piece classic rock and blues cover band during a period I really was NOT in the market for any kind of “new” band.  Yet a long time friend urged me to hook up with these people -- that I would be a “good fit” and all.   The band was struggling with keeping members in place.   Anyway, I put off making that call for a week or two, but I got a friendly “reminder” and I finally did.

I was introduced to a line-up of tremendously talented people, but mostly a method of management which tuned out to be identical to my philosophy.  I feel like musically and philosophically, we hit it off from the first meeting.

SECOND TIME IS THE “CHARM”
In addition, this year, I was also invited to re-join the new version of “IMPACT 50,” a band I was in a few years prior.  One of the better local guitarists in the Detroit area was sort of at the helm. Having worked with him in the past and being familiar with his focus and demand for details, I always felt that was part of what made me “good enough” for “Tri-County Blues” and even more high-octane adventures such as sitting in at Memphis Smoke with the “Super Session Band.”  It’s not always fun “getting there,” but once you do, it a kind of “high” that beats anything you can do with chemicals.    

So now the current version of the Impact 50 features two other guys who are somewhat newer to the circuit, plus this guitar player and myself.

People who know him would saying while they love his playing, he’s a great friend and all, but they “couldn’t be in a band with him.”  

Why?


Is it because music is just a leisure activity they’re not that serious about?  

The philosophy I have at work is the SAME as my band activities:  I want to be the best I am capable of being, and be associated with people who have that same desire. It’s a lot more difficult to accomplish this than it sounds!

I can guarantee you I would NOT have survived in broadcasting and be working at Specs today without that drive.  The projects I have attacked with the amount of self-initiative I have would still not be done.  This project at the school had some time constraints and we actually considered hiring extra temporary help to do some of the wiring.  After some research, a call or two to my friends at Enco Systems who created the software, I decided to press forward myself.   I kept working on the project single-handedly – and in fact, completed it entirely myself with one of Enco’s techs on-site for one day.  

During this period, evenings after my Specs work, I would almost religiously attend practice with Tri-County Blues and Impact 50.   While seeing others who were sometimes late to band practice, I did whatever I needed to do to make it to band practice on time.

When one commits themselves to a project of any kind, it needs to be a firm commitment and this applies at all levels.  Write it in blood, or do whatever you have to do to get that mindset.

Honestly, I was NOT sure I could complete the Specs project by a deadline that was set, but I never stopped working at it.  In fact, I DID complete it a DAY EARLY!

All the while during this period, in the world of bands, making music with Tri-County was easy and fun, even when others would struggle with getting it “right.”

The band Impact 50 (take 2) was, as expected, filled with challenges because the songs were more difficult and the mixture of talent we had available were not always familiar with the tunes at first.  I knew anyone would be given a hard time when (it was felt) they were not practicing enough at home on their own time.  Working with people who mostly have “day jobs”, family or other responsibilities outside of the band is yet another factor.  It IS a balancing act for everyone. 

It’s always a test:  Where do you put your priorities?   The source of ones income always has to be Number One, even in my case, where “my job” never seemed like “a job” in the traditional sense.   

In my life, fighting for that #2 and #3 spot is always a tough battle.  Often, but not always, music pushes everything out of the way EXCEPT for Numero Uno.   But that’s another part of how I got “good enough” to sit in with some pretty talented people who DO put music the Number One role in their lives.

But this is what I’ve “signed up for” …in life:  Being The Best or at least as close as I could get to The Best.   I want to be the BEST that I can be, and to only be associated with those kind of people.   Of course there are circumstances in life that can and do slow down the process, and as mentioned, it is more difficult than it sounds.   The “playing” part is EASY!   Wiring studios and fighting with pesty sound card drivers is also EASY.  It’s easy for me, because that’s what I do, and I’ve done both most of these things since I was a teenager.  

It’s the “unknown” variables that make it tougher and can sometimes get in the way, as well.   
Yet those other two bands that are in “pause” mode could spring back to life when least expected.  I’ll be ready when they do.   

In the meantime, my co-workers and upcoming students at Specs:  Enjoy the new technology – and feel free as always, to ask questions.  If I don’t know the answers, I know the people who do, who are the best in THEIR specialty.

SECOND, in one of my “other lives” as bass player, guitarist, stage sound assistant and whatever other roles I’ve played:  We’ve shared a lot of “working” and playing moments. 

Everything is not always perfect, but for what it is, it has kept my interest and made for some incredible times that helped to make life complete, and believe it or not, preserve my sanity!

Thanks to all (they know who they are) and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
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