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About Shaster

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    Vancouver, BC

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  1. I've only had one gig offer since the lock-down. It was for a backyard BBQ, and I turned it down. Our chief medical officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, has done a great job of locking things down and keeping the rates of Covid very low here, but I still feel a bit Corona shy. I was feeling pretty sick for awhile and actually went to get the test. Felt like a hot poker up the nose (the test have improved since). The test was negative, but it was a sobering experience. I'm happy to ride things out, and work on my massive TO DO list. I try to practice guitar for a couple hours a day, just in case a gig comes up that I'll feel comfortable doing, but like I said, I'm in no rush. Have fun on your gig, and like Dr. Henry always says; be kind, be calm and be safe.
  2. Yes it's really hard to say when gigs might start flowing again. Maybe not until a vaccine. Having said that, I know of one fellow solo musician, that got flown (in a helicopter) over to a town to do a parking lot serenade. He played 15 or 20 minutes in a parking lot to a third floor balcony (with small PA) and then got flown home. I'm assuming social distancing and/or a personal protective device was used on the helicopter. Maybe "Rapunzel" gigs are the wave of the future. As I mentioned, and as have others, I've been saving for emergencies. Just didn't know it would be for the Zombie Apocalypse. In Canada we have the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit which bridges the gap for self employed and gig workers. It pays a taxable benefit of $2000 every four weeks, currently for a maximum of four payments. It's not a bundle but it's way better than nothing. And kudos to the programmers. As long as you have filed your taxes and have an online tax account, the whole process takes under three minutes! I feel for folks like Notes that have to jump through their EI... hurdles. In BC we also have some rental and other reliefs, although I own, so they don't apply to me. Other than that, I think I'll start working on Xmas tunes. Just not sure if they'll be for Xmas 2020 or Xmas 2021...
  3. I played March 16th, and that's been that. It was arguably the largest lounge in my town, so social distancing was not an issue. Oddly enough it was a really good night. Afterwards, the bartender joked that I was like a musician on the Titanic, playing tunes while the ship went down. The manager also bought me a beer at the end of the night (only the second one in three years) and wished me well. I've been playing the gig for three plus years, and specifically, every Monday for over two years. I had never missed a Monday. It was very strange not playing there this past Monday. Lately, I had been loosing lounge gigs to DJ's, so my gig count had gone down, maybe 15 gigs a month, but now all my end of March gigs and April gigs have been cancelled. One of my favourite yearly gigs was playing a 45 minute (sometimes less) set of Jazz standards with great musicians, to a great crowd, and free drinks! All for $200 each. They actually are paying us half: now that's classy. Anyway, I have emergency savings, and I had also planned on doing a little CD, so I guess I could use those funds if I had to. The trouble and strife has a pretty good pension, and my kid still lives at home and still has a job, so I don't have to worry about that... I've only had two vacations in twenty-five years, so while this pandemic is of course, a life and death situation, and a very serious economic hardship for many, I am in some ways relishing the time off. I just wish it wasn't under these circumstances. Take care all, and stay safe.
  4. Just got to L&M today. So my thoughts. I liked the weight, quite light. The factory action and intonation were good. The neck was a little clunky, reminded me of an old Gibson acoustic a friend of mine used to have. The strings were too heavy for me to feel like I was playing electric, but worked stylistically for acoustic. I played a Mississippi John Hurt song (The Candyman) plus a few other finger picking and classical tunes. It seemed fine for that stuff but I felt like the strings were very close together. If one likes them close, then it's not a problem. The acoustic sound was okay, not as good as an Ovation IMHO - and people complain about those guitars. The electric sound.... I dunno. Maybe in a solo setting it would be just fine, but it would never be an Ibanez AS200 or a good Strat, Les Paul.... I did not try the guitar through a PA monitor but rather a Dr. Z amp (great amps). The only effect I used was an envelope filter (I was thinking of buying one, got a mini wah instead). As I've stated in the past, I would probably rather get a dual Mono bag and carry two guitars, but I understand the need to switch to an electric sound for solos. I had issues with the neck, string spacing and the lack of tonal variance, but others might find those things pros not cons. It was odd though; the young due that set me up in the demo booth basically tried to steer me away from the guitar. He said it was a great couch guitar but he would never buy it. But it's a big world, and we all need guitars for different reasons. I did enjoy playing the guitar, and maybe that's the most important thing. There were a lot of knobs to play with, and there very well might be some sweet spots that I didn't get to. I would be happy to talk to one of the managers I know (very talented guitar player) or ask my buddy who I think has one.
  5. Hi Steve, I hope to get to the store this Saturday or Sunday. I'll take your questions along and see what I can find out. I am possibly looking for something like the Godin myself, so I'm hoping to get some answers. I'll get back, once I do a test drive.
  6. Although I have never owned a Godin, I am a big fan, based on the three or four guitars I've tried, including their 5th Avenue, and Electric Nylon models. Judging by the link I'm referencing, my local store has an A6 in stock. I wouldn't mind trying it, and reporting back. Are there any specific questions you might have, or specific tests to put it through? Actually, I am thinking that I might know someone that gigs with one. Too bad I just saw this post, he was gigging tonight, maybe he was playing it. I'll investigate further. https://www.long-mcquade.com/23631/Guitars/Electric-Guitars/Godin-Guitars/Electric-A6-Ultra-Guitar-w-Bag---Koa.htm
  7. Good advice Notes. Regarding playing the same for a large crowd or a small one, it's not just lip service.... I have had many comments, and scored a few nice gigs from folks that saw me at a really dead gig, and were impressed by the way I gave it my all. I might have mentioned that recently, the head of my booking agency was in attendance on a pretty slow night. They were hiding in a corner where I couldn't see them until after the show. I was so glad that in-spite of the small crowd, I still joked around, took requests and put out my usual effort. Remembering times like that makes you smarten up when your energy starts to falter.
  8. So.... are you guys playing in two different rooms? Why wouldn't you be able to hear each other? I've played guitar in two and even three guitar bands, and it's been my experience that the other guitar player is always too loud. I couldn't stand the thought of having another guitar player's out of time rhythm playing chords. blasting through my amp - wait, did I say that out loud?
  9. January is gonna be slow, so I took whatever gigs I could this December. I haven't checked in for a bit. As Christmas is over, I'll just say Happy Holidays, and all the best for the New Year.
  10. Happy Holidays as well. I'll miss playing This Christmas. Great melody and cool chords, and I like the way the musical interlude alternates between a bar of four and a bar of three. Donny Hathaway sings it in F, but even in D it's a little high - I sometimes hit the "A", while trying to keep it lounge volume. Anyway, I'll miss that one. Maybe the instrumental version of Christmastime Is Here, because I can play jazz without getting yelled at! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oswkllz_Lvs BTW: I played a Jazz Vespers show a year or so ago and the singer did a Soul version of Mary Did You Know - good tune.
  11. I use midi files converted to MP3's. Even if I find an internet file, I generally have to redo all the hi-hat, snare, kick velocities, correct all the insane non drummer fills, fix all the bass notes and remove all the ridiculous horn, strings and melody tracks. It's often easier to just build a track from the ground up. The original "pick your track" devices included the Roland MC500 and later Roland MC50. These stand alone sequencers had small screens but really great quantizing and other features that are still hard to find. I stopped using mine (I had four) years ago and switched to laptops and then later to Android using Music Folder Player to play my midis. So far that program is the most robust I have found in an Android player - tons of features BUT no track mutes. It's not set up like that. Setlist helper is also a pretty cool way to organize lyrics, and you can attach sound files to the song that will either play automatically when you select the lyrics, or that will load and wait for you to press go. Setlist helper doesn't have a Graphic EQ though IIRC, so the file needs to be perfectly processed or EQ'd at the mixer - the latter isn't a big deal. Considering the fact that most drummers won't like playing to a track (or won't be able to without a click...) you could probably just have bass and drums with drums being Right and bass being left (midi will put the hi-hat on both the left and right if you use MIDI tracks). Then just mute the bass track if you've got a bass player jamming. If you play a chordal instrument you won't need more than bass and drums. If you've got a drummer, forget the tracks and just have fun. Use something like Anvil Studio (free) to clean up your tracks, and pan the bass and drums, and then convert to MP3 (I use an old version of iTunes. My method is pretty old school but it works for my needs. I have well over 500 tracks and play well over 100 solo dates a year, in a very competitive market, so if it ain't broke....
  12. Every once in a while I play a song that moves someone in the audience so much, that they come up and tell me. I remember the time I played We're All alone (Boz Scaggs) and a lady came up to tell me how much that song meant to her (at length). I've always thought that reaching people on a deep emotional level was the ultimate. Think I might have changed my mind on that one. The other day I was at a function and I was really mixing it up.... Black Magic Woman, On The Sunny Side Of The Street, The Wind Cries Mary, King Of The Road, I Don't Need No Doctor and so on. I also played How Deep Is Your Love by the BEE GEEs. Afterwards a guy came up (with what I later realized were tears in his eyes) and mentioned something about his wedding and so on. At first I thought he was making fun of the song (even though I play it more like Tommy Emmanuel's version it's still kinda sugary) but I realized he wasn't joking. It sort of made me uncomfortable. I mean it's good it brought back good memories and such, but I'm so used to people staring at their phones while they're doing their best to ignore me, that I didn't know how to deal with real emotions. Go ahead and share if you've had similar experiences.
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