MFI at the Brunswick Music Festival

Well once again the Brunswick Music Festival rolled around (it’s the opening of festival season – sort like daffodills and spring).

This year My Friend Ian (hereinafter MFI as usual) played on the PBS  Roots stage for the Sydney Rd Street Party , it’s the opening event of the festival.  He had the band  (Ian Bland & The Lamington Drive Orchestra) with him and they played really really well.

We threw a couple of cameras up and then ran around taking stills. Jools did the video edit using Sony Vegas (she wanted to see what it could do)


Ian Bland – Jesus of Hollywood – Live at the Brunswick Music Festival

Ian’s song “Jesus of Hollywood” was a real crowd pleaser when Ian was in the UK last year, seemed to go down just as well here.

Tales Of A Zoom H4n – Liz Frencham & Pete Fidler

Photo By Jools Thatcher
Photo By Jools Thatcher

Back in Early October My Friend Ian (MFI) scored a gig at the Clifton Hill Hotel, he was performing as a duo with Ed Bates.  BUT this isn’t about him (soon, soon my dark pet) this is about Liz Frencham & Pete Fidler.

All I can say is Wow, I remember hearing Liz play in Jigzag up at The National festival a couple of years back and noting at the time, what a cool bassist she was.  Peter Fiddler? I honestly can’t remember hearing before (and you watch – all these people will pop up and tell me all the gigs he was at and bands he played in) – I can tell you I wont be forgetting him in a hurry.

As a duo they put on a wonderful bracket, had a lot of fun (so did I), managed to showcase just how good they were (without looking like it)

I have picked out two tracks that I have had on my MP3 player since the gig.

First up is a song by Liz called All The Way Home, it’s a ripper
[audio:AllTheWayHome.mp3]

This one made me sit up and take notice, this was where they had settled down and were comfortable with the stage, the sound and the audience. When Liz and Pete hit the chorus I just knew that this was going to be a good night.

They followed that with one of Pete’s instrumentals called “Bell Street Blues“, I left his intro to the track on the recording.
[audio:BellStreetBlues.mp3]

Liz mentioned that they are two members of a trio called “Jimmy The Fish” and according to her recent tweets, they have just finished a recording – seriously looking forward to that.

If you get a chance to see Liz or Pete play in any combination  don’t pass it up. Especially Liz –  good bass players are rare, interesting ones are very rare.

ZoomH4nBoring Tech Stuff:
The Zoom H4n recorded in Stereo @ 44.1kHz/16 bit. It was sitting in a pocket on my messenger bag and just pointed at the performers. We were about 3.5m back from the stage. The room is a long skinny room with the PA at each end of the long wall.

The audio recording was edited in Sound Forge and all I did was cut out below 30Hz.

Leave Our Gigs Alone

Enda Kenny and Ian Bland
Enda Kenny and Ian Bland (photo by Jools Thatcher)

Jools and I went to see Ian and The Lamington Drive Orchestra (and yes this is the infamous MFI Ian for those of you who came in late). Needless to say I  had my bag of toys with us and for once all our tech worked.

This is one of those priceless moments where you get to capture a performance that while it was not one of  the performers best it WAS one of the highlights of the night.

Enda Kenny joined Ian and The  Lamington Drive Orchestra on stage for a song that had been written in response to some really really really stupid Victorian Govt. legislation that requires music venues to have security guards (mainly I suspect so that all the small venues will close down and their mates at the casino will be the last venue standing – but that would be me  – I may be cynical but it doesn’t mean I’m wrong – I digress)

So here it is, rough around the edges,  a PA that was struggling to keep up,  a song that had never been rehearsed before and so far from perfect that there is a gap bigger than the governments credibility on defending the arts, the musicians and the communities who are lucky enough to still enjoy the pleasure of a night down the local.

And for all it’s imperfections I love it.

Leave Our Gigs Alone [audio:LeaveOurGigsAlone.mp3]
You may recognise the tune but it is really totally different to that other song.

Recorded on the ZoomH4n and there will be some other highlights from the gig posted later.

Zoom 20090531 – Doodle

Fender FR50
Fender FR50

Here is number 2 in my “dilettantes with toys” Sunday morning recordings.

It’s funny I started out with a totally different idea this morning and the bloody thing mutated into this.

As an idea, I would have to say it’s about half formed, when I listened to the playback I could hear a whole bunch of ideas that needed to be explored but sadly not today.

Here is a refresher on the  ground rules.

  • Wake up on a Sunday morning
  • Turn on Zoom H4
  • Tune guitar
  • Start stop watch.
    I now have 60 minutes to record a tune using nothing more than the Zoom and the guitar.
    No drop ins on a track, only the processing that is built into in the Zoom and only 4 tracks, no bouncing down tracks
  • Now play lots (the clock is ticking)

At the end upload the finished MP3 to the website and link it to the impediments post.

Elapsed time not to be greater than one hour.

In the words of Jeremy Clarkson “How hard can it be?”

Well as it turns out… you can hear today’s piece here

The things you can do with a Zoom H4 dept
“Doodle”

I’m not finished with this,  I will come back to it in a couple of weeks and see if we can put some polish on it.

Zoom 20090503: For Jools

Fender FR50
Fender FR50

As I mentioned I have a new guitar, and showing you a picture of it , while all well and good on the “Oooh. Shiny” meter. Well lets face it, you really need to know what it sounds like and ooh shiny just isn’t a good enough description.

So I recorded me playing a little something I was messing with in D(?).

Now here are the ground rules. A while back I was having a long email conversation  with Bill ( I have mentioned him before http://billcanty.com ) about things he could do to get his music heard. The short version is

  • Wake up on a Sunday morning
  • Turn on Zoom H4
  • Tune guitar
  • Start stop watch.
    I now have 60 minutes to record a tune using nothing more than the Zoom and the guitar.
    No dropins on a track, only the processing that is built into in the Zoom and only 4 tracks, no bouncing down tracks
  • Now play lots (the clock is ticking)

At the end upload the finished MP3 to the website and link it to the impediments post.

Elapsed time not to be greater than 60minutes.

In the words of Jeremy Clarkson “How hard can it be?”

Well as it turns out… you can hear today’s first attempt at this here

The things you can do with a Zoom H4 dept
“For Jools”

My Friend Ian, A Pub and a Zoom H4

Ian Bland at The Lomond Hotel © Jools Thatcher 2008
Ian Bland at The Lomond Hotel © Jools Thatcher 2008

It’s been a while since we have taken the Zoom H4 on an outing but last Sunday found us at the Lomond Hotel in East Brunswick (Jools and I used to live across the road from it a long time ago). My Friend Ian (hereinafter MFI) had a gig with his band, the Lamington Drive Orchestra.

Jools decided to take along a video camera we had picked up a while back  to see what it did in lowlight etc. We mounted it on a tripod about 3 metres back from the stage, set it on wide and then just used the pan to keep it all nice and simple. Like I said, it was it’s first outing and I’m an audio geek.

It didn’t turn out to bad really. There were no lights to speak of and the vocals were coming out of a PA that was 12 feet up in the air and not really focussed anywhere near where we sitting.  It’s a strange room but when you are there with the band playing it has a nice vibe about it.

Here is the video of “God On The 67 Tram” one of MFI’s more irreverent pieces of social commentary. It’s not one of the pieces that’s on the album, I think it was song Ian wrote for a performance he did on 3RRR a couple of years back.

Next up is a  video of  “Not Going Back”. This is one of Ian’s newer songs and it’s about change. I like this one.

Boring Tech Stuff:

Zoom H4 mounted on Camera Stand
Zoom H4 mounted on Camera Stand

The Zoom H4 recorded in Stereo @ 44.1kHz/16 bit. It was mounted on the video tripod using a Gorilla Pod, but below the pan head so as not to interfere with the operation of the camera. . It was 3 metres back from the stage more or less pointed at Ian (roughly stage centre) and as usual I crossed my fingers. The gain settings for the mics were on on L and the limiter was turned on.

The audio recording was edited in Sound Forge and all I did was cut out below 30Hz (bass lift from the proximity of the ceiling) and add 3db at 1.5kHz to help the MP3 along. I then used Vegas to drop the Zoom audio into the video. It scrubbed up OK I think for a first attempt at this stuff.