Project: Recording Kaleidoscope

Looking for an opportunity to learn and grow? Record a CD.  Better yet, record a collaboration CD with a friend!

Lisa Ferguson and I took the plunge in March of 2012.  Being that neither of us are the type to go into anything lightly, nor are we quick decision makers, the mutual accountability really helped move this project along.

I live in northern Illinois and Lisa lives in Chattanooga, so distance also proved to be an issue for us.  In order to plan and rehearse, we met up in Louisville, KY several times during the winter.  These long weekends, cooped up a room at the Country Inn & Suites were exhausting, but they really prepared us for what was to come.

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In mid-March I drove to Chattanooga to spend a week recording at Lisa's home.  Steve Seifert was our sound engineer.  He essentially brought the recording studio to us. 

We recorded for 7 days, 12 hours a day.  Stephen Humphries played percussion on 5 tracks so we spent about 1 day total recording percussion.  

What a roller-coaster!  By the end of the week, we'd finished off several bottles of wine, a couple boxes of thin mints, an entire bag of pistachio nuts, and who knows how many pots of coffee.  There was a lot of laughter mixed in with the disagreements.  After a week, the three of us had bonded. Steve likened it to being at some sort of "weird" summer camp. He is a master of metaphors.

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Upon returning home and listening to rough cuts, we decided that a steel pan part in one of the tracks wasn't where we wanted it to be, so I called upon a local friend of mine, Mike Schwebke, to help out and record a new steel pan part for After Midnight. We recorded this in late April at a studio in Aurora, IL.

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In the end, the project was worth the sweat, tears, and thousands of miles on the road.  It was completed in June of 2012!  I'm so thankful for Lisa, Steve & Stephen Humphries for putting so much into this.  I'm also grateful for Dan Landrum for allowing us to borrow his recording equipment and Mike Schwebke for lending his steel pan talents on short notice!

Project: Steel Band T-Shirt

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I've been a member of the Waubonsee Steel Band since early 2009.  If you want to have fun, improve your musicianship, and work on your upper-body strength, join a steel band.  I'm not kidding.

In 2012 the director of the band, Frank Check, asked me to design t-shirts that we could wear at the dozens of gigs we play each year.  The idea had been tossed around for years, so it was great to be able to finally get the ball rolling.  

I've done a few promotional posters for the steel band, so I had a lot of practice illustrating the instrument, but screen printing can be fairly limiting. I tried a new technique of illustrating the notes on the pans.  Then I incorporated some half-tone dots to give them more dimension. It seemed to work pretty well. I wanted to steer away from just having one steel pan (which seems to be pretty typical in steel pan themed designs) since most of the band members play 2 or more pans at a time.  

The main goal with this design was to portray the overall feel of the music we play.  For the most part, it's upbeat and fun.  The band has a good time playing, and audiences have a blast listening to the eclectic island sounds. I wanted to translate that into something visual without being cliche.  Also, because this is a community band, the group is very diverse. This meant I really needed to make sure that it looked like a t-shirt that people of any age or gender wouldn't mind wearing.

Once I got the design hashed out, I sent a bunch of color variations to Frank to pick from.  While it wasn't our first choice, we wound up choosing two color blue and white because that's what the screen printer was capable of.  I really think the blue worked out well though!

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