Falcon Ridge Folk Festival ’11

July 25, 2011

This year, we got selected again to play at the Emerging Artists Showcase at the FRFF (main stage!) The previous and first time we did was 4 years ago, just before we were preparing for a 6 months trip to China. I remember this well, it was a hectic period for us! Packing for 6 months is no small task. We had to organize a small curb sale for all our stuff (so many things – our recurrent life theme!), pack, put things in storage AND at the same time, organize our band for the gig. I’m mentioning this because we had to practically beg our drummer at the time and find an replacement guitar player at the last minute!

This year however, we knew better! And with only the two of us and a guitar to worry about, things were quite a bit smoother.

So we had an idea of how things would be once at the festival, having played there once before. The one thing we didn’t know though, was that the second experience was going to be so much richer than the first one! Back in 2007, we went and played, and pretty much spent all our time going to swim at a nearby lake, chilling in a field with our friends, and occasionally listening to some of the acts playing on the main stage.

This year, we decided to mingle a little more with the crowd and I am glad we did! On the first night, after all the shows were over (except the dance stage, where they never seem to stop!), we participated in the nite owl song swap. Imagine a circle of people, all sitting around a fire, everyone is welcome to join in and play or listen… So you sit, and listen to the other people playing, some of them originals, some of them covers, all from the heart – no pretense here. Then comes your turn – the mood is set, the moon is slowly rising -, and as has happened with the other performers, people listen, respectfully, letting you express the music you decided to offer the circle. What a treat!

And then, it’s late, we don’t want to camp as we know the next day is gonna be scorching, and we’re not quite ready for it. So we drive home… (which by the way is another story; almost ran out of gas, met a van driver signalling to us on the side of the road who had run out of gas, so we gave them a ride, and filled up our tank as well!)

But the next day, still pumped up about the previous day, we decide to drive back! (it’s a 2 hr drive from our home to Dodd’s farm).

And so unfolds the second day, we sit in front of main stage, enjoying the evening with the Saturday night’s headliners (it’ll be us one day!) Then show’s over, we decide to go check out another circle; there seem to be many! We stop at the Front Porch where there’s already a bit of a crowd and sit. Then people start playing, and unlike the night before, the atmosphere here is a little different. People play and everybody else picks up their instrument and accompany them, picking up the chords and lyrics as they go along, a bass player joins in, a strum stick player starts strumming, people improvise harmonies, guitar players take solos at the command of the performer whose turn it is. Such a collaborative approach! And don’t be mistaken, these people may not be on main stage but they can play! This truly was an awesome experience, a true testimony to folk and I’d say even more, to Music.

This year, I feel like we lived the festival as it’s supposed to be, full of interesting encounters, of music and of collaborations. The kind of weekend that reminds us (in case we need it!) why we play music. I am now eager to go back to Falcon Ridge, and hopefully have such a great time again (and maybe see you there if you’re going too and want to say hi!)


Elie

Las Vegas – The Making of

July 1, 2011

Las Vegas was a fun song to record. We had a very definite idea of what it should sound like and I think we managed to capture the vibe fairly well.

I wanted something with lots of guitar but still sounding a little hollow, a bit like a ghost town. So we ended up having 4 guitar tracks; One is the acoustic guitar (which is a kind of a base, present in many of the tracks on the album), which I recorded. The three others were record by Thad DeBrock. In this song he plays the pedal steel, an electric with bottle neck, and another electric with a somewhat dirty bluesy tone. Oh, and he also played the banjo part that starts in the second chorus.

The result is a very nice texture that fitted perfectly our vision of the track’s atmosphere. I made a bounce of just the guitars and the banjo so that you can hear what it all sounds like (I left some of the bass drum to fill those empty spaces)… Listen all the way to the end! At points I find this mix almost eerie…

Las Vegas - Just Guitars... Oh Yeah!

Another thing we ended up putting in the track is something our drummer (the awesome Chris Schultz) came up with. I’m not sure when he came up with it but he played a really high pitch sound, not very unlike chalk screeching on a board, by rubbing the tip of a stick on the cymbal. So here’s to give him the credits, and show you how it’s done: the sound snippet that made it in the final recording, and a video of him recording it!

The Cymbal Screech

http://www.thewhisperingtree.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/LasVegasCymbalFX.f4v

Hope you’ve enjoyed this second post in the Making Of series. Don’t hesitate to post a comment if you have any question about it, or about any aspect of the recording, I’ll do my best to answer all of them!


Elie