We continued to add tracks to our recording of “You Won’t Even Know Her Name,” a song recorded in 1965 by the Starlets, and then by Josephine Sunday in that same year. Neither version was a hit, but both recordings are sought after by record collectors. The track seemed like a perfect addition to the IT’S MY PARTY! catalog.
Last month we mentioned that equipment issues forced us to step away from the recording process. The purchase of a Universal Audio Apollo Quad 2 interface solved our previous issues. Now the interface, computer and software are working in harmony to produce nice digital tracks.
On June 15, Matt Doi added baritone and tenor saxophones. Matt plays guitar in the band during our performance season, and in addition to guitar, plays some tenor sax parts. Matt is an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, and producer, John Giotto, is taking advantage of his many skills. “I wish I could clone Matt, and place him on more than one instrument,” said Giotto. Fortunately, with the advantage of modern recording techniques, this is possible, by recording overdubs, specifically, recording new tracks, while listening to pre-recorded tracks.
On the following Sunday of June 22, three talented students from the esteemed Kanack School of Music came into the studio to record violins. Daphne, Hassler, and Henry laid down four separate violin tracks, creating a nice layered effect. Engineer, Calvin May moved the microphone after each track to emphasize a particular violin in the ensemble during takes.
Next up, tracking back-up vocals, percussion, organ, and an additional guitar track. Hopefully, we will create the wall-of-sound present on the Josephine Sunday recording.
IT’S MY PARTY! is performing on Friday, July 25, from 7-9 for the Village of Webster. Please add this date to your calendar. This spot opened up late on the booking season due to a cancellation, and although we feel badly for the group who had to cancel, we are excited to return to Webster after a ten-year absence. Some of our singers attended school in the Webster district, and we expect a strong showing from the hometown crowd. The venue in Webster is Veteran’s Park, located just north of the intersection of Routes 404 & 250. There are plenty of food vendors in the area, but don’t forget to bring a lawn chair, as seating is limited.
(The ramblings of a drummer with too much time on his hands)
Breaking through the barriers that impede us, rather than find the path of least resistance, is good for the soul. In early June, I talked myself into taking the trip to Montreal to attend the F1 car race at Gilles Villeneuve Circuit. Just getting out of my comfort zone, and travelling to a different country took some self-persuasion. After all, with no effort at all, I could get the best seat in the house, in my man-cave, directly in front of the widescreen. The trip provided a needed break, and the race proved to be the most exciting of the season, with Daniel Ricciardo winning for the Red Bull Racing Team.
As an English speaker, visiting Montreal provided some language hurdles, however, as most of the residents spoke fluent English, it wasn’t too difficult to communicate. It was clear, none the less, that I was an outsider, “Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Montreal has the feeling of a European city, and I felt more than the hundreds of miles I was removed from Rochester, NY. I was determined to give a game effort at speaking some French, at the very least, to learn some polite responses. I picked up a few French lines with the help of the receptionist at my hotel, a nice young lady, who wore a backwards baseball cap. I think she got a big kick out of my questions and mispronunciations.
Once I had my bearings and figured out the subway system, it was time for
some recreation. I enjoy cycling, and Montreal, as it turned out, is bicycle-friendly, with designated, and clearly-marked, cycling routes throughout the city. I did not bring my bicycle with me on this trip, but that was not a problem. Montreal has strategically positioned bicycle sharing stations along its bike routes. The system is called the Bixi, which stands for “bicycle-taxi.” For $7.oo you can obtain a 24-hour subscription to the service. But there is a catch, as the hotel receptionist pointed out, if any of your rides exceed 30-minutes, you incur additional fees. Many a tourist has been surprised by this, and the Bixi is not recommended for visitors, who are unfamiliar with the fee structure. There have been some documented cases of folks buying a three-day pass for $15.oo, and racking up hundreds of dollars on their credit cards. The idea behind the additional fees is to have as many bikes available as possible. So, for a one-hour trip, you should stop before a half-hour, park the bike, then sign in again and take out a new bike, if you want to avoid the additional fees. I took this as a challenge, I would meet the Bixi head-on.
Well, this whole idea seemed overwhelming at first. How would I time my ride? Where was the next station, and was it within a half-hour’s ride? Would I be able to read the instructions at the kiosk? After some research and education on the Bixi, I was ready to take on the challenge.
Initiating a transaction at the Bixi kiosk was a little daunting, it was sunny, and hard to read the French directions on the screen, but, with some guessing, I was able to acquire a one-day pass. I obtained a four-digit code to unlock any bicycle at the station, and proceeded to travel east down Rue Rachel, toward the Olympic Stadium, my desired destination. I was sure I could make it to the stadium in a half-hour’s ride. The weather was perfect, and the ride took about 25-minutes. After a somewhat frantic search, I found a Bixi station tucked under a line of trees. I will say, they could mark these stations a little more clearly. Again, the locals know the locations of all of these stations. I placed the bike in the docking station with a few minutes to spare.
For the return trip, I was determined to take a different route, rather than choosing the safe option of travelling back the same way I came. I used the four-digit code to take out another bike, and proceeded to travel back by way of Rue de Rouen. Rue de Rouen was a smaller street, and did not afford an actual bike lane. I changed bikes again along Rue de Rouen, near a park. After heading north for a few blocks on Rue Frontenac, I finished at the station I started at on Rue Rachel. Conquering the Bixi, as silly as it sounds, was exhilarating, and made it more than a bike ride.
So, what does this have to do with the band? In an effort to improve and refine our act, I watch as many shows as possible. There are many talented musicians in this area, but rather than dwell on individual attributes, I am more interested in how the performers present as a group. How do they take the stage; exit; interact with the audience? How does the set list flow? What do they wear, and do they present a unified image?
I have picked up a thing or two by attending shows. However, as polished as many of these acts are, there is an all too common thread, most recall the same presentation, year after year: the same set list, same order, same banter. This is where we draw the line. Whether it’s new instrumentation, new songs, different stage banter, or improved technology, we will not be complacent.
The very nature of our group is a stretch, and clearly, we are not all things to all people. Does this backfire on us sometimes? Sure! A talent buyer once asked how many hits we played. My answer was enough to give the audience a familiar island here and there, but the presentation was more important to us, along with the ability to play some of the lost treasures of the ’60s and our original compositions. This attitude costs us some gigs, but we are not a good-time party band.
One season we decided to cover a Monkees’ tune, a bit of a reach for the group. After a show in Williamson, NY, an audience member approached the stage and said, “‘The Girl That I Knew Somewhere,’ it just isn’t working.” We are lucky to have such an informed audience. After some reflection, we eventually dropped this tune from our list. An experience like this, though humbling, will not stop us from thinking outside of the box when considering new material. In the words of the late Casey Kasem, “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.”
Then there was the show last season where we unveiled our new string section. Now the safe thing to do is have the keyboard player cover the string parts, but we wanted authenticity. During a break in the music, I introduced the string players, and asked the audience how they liked the sound. The response was lukewarm. Once again, after the show, a member of the audience approached me, and said that he couldn’t hear a single note they were playing. This wasn’t the soundman’s fault, the strings were positioned next to the drums that night, so, when the live engineer tried to bring up the string section, all you could hear were drums. As this was a festival, and we we were not the only act that night, we did not have the proper time to sound check. We could have easily scrapped the whole idea, and gone back to the synth-strings. Instead, we experimented with different microphones and placements of the string section, eventually coming upon the right formula. You can go to our You Tube page and hear the results for yourself. And, for the record, be kind to the soundman, he is a highly-qualified technician, who knows what’s going on.
Changing the vocal line-up, while necessary as girls move on, is, at times, traumatizing to some of our fans. Some followers are so infatuated with one group or another, that they stop attending shows when their favorites leave the group. Clearly, a new group’s first season will not stand up to an experienced exiting trio, but their growth potential has a huge upside. And while we salute the talent and contributions of former members, we strive to create a group sound that transcends any individual member.
Keep stretching, and I hope you will have a chance to watch us stretch as well!