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About Notes_Norton

  • Rank
    Hall of Fame


  • Biography
    Pro musician and style writer for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith.


  • Location
    Fort Pierce, Florida USA (almost paradise)


  • Interests
    Music, travel, music, photography, music, reading non-fiction, music, science, --- did I mention mus


  • Occupation
    Professional , career musician with a sideline of writing aftermarket styles for Band-in-a-Box and M

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  1. One thing I like about a laptop is the ability to choose what file comes next at a moments notice. In my duo we have close to 600 tracks. I don't do set lists but instead look at the audience and try to pace them so they have the best possible time. I'm not clairvoyant enough to know what they are going to need two or three songs from now, so set lists are definitely out. I have the song files all in alphabetical order in Windows File Explorer. I play them in Windows Media Player. Why the Microsoft software? They work, and since they are part of the OS, they load immediately and cause no conflicts. They haven't crashed since I went from floppy disk in a hardware sequencer to laptop on 2002. I don't do Mac because in the unlikely event my computer and the spare I carry both break on the same night I can scoot to a department store and get a Windows computer to finish the gig (everything is duplicated on a flash drive) Here is my work flow: To play a song I type the first couple of letters on the always available keyboard and the file is highlighted. Hit Enter and it starts playing in Windows Media Player immediately Hit Alt+Tab and the focus goes back to Windows File Explorer Type the first couple of letters of the next song and it's ready to play immediately Hit Enter and it plays (repeat as needed) Plus if I'm getting to the end of a fast song, I have a slower song cued up because I figure they should be getting tired, and I realize they could use another fast one, I can type a couple of letters on the always available keyboard, cue up another fast one, and when the one playing ends, hit enter and the next one starts immediately. Immediately is important for the age group I play for. Give them 5 seconds between songs and they are heading back to their seats and nothing will call most of them back. As I said I try to pace the audience. If it's a dance gig I go from song to song immediately, gradually increasing the energy until they get tired. Then I can take a moment before I do either a specialty dance (some like to Cha-Cha or whatever) or slow things down to start all over again. This is where I talk on the mic if need be. I tried this on an iPad, but the disappearing keyboard took a couple of seconds away from the next song selection and that is too much time. I can take my hand and hit a couple of letters on the fixed keyboard in a second or two, and then get my hand back on the sax, flute, wind synth, or guitar without missing a note. A tablet takes too much time. If you can do something like this without a computer, you have a customer here. Insights and incites by Notes
  2. Artist schmartist. I'm an entertainer. I'm a damn good sax player, wind synth player, and backing track maker. I'm a decent singer and an adequate but limited guitar player. I also play bass, drums, and keyboards. The composing I do is improvisations on sax, guitar and wind synth and I'm very good at that. But of course, there are others much better than myself, and others not as good. That's life. I'm in a duo that has worked steadily since 1985. Before that many other bands. At one time I was in a band that was the opening act for headliners when their hits were top 10 on Billboard. I was in a house band that hosted jam sessions where heavyweights, real jazz stars, used to come to sit in (the guitarist taught jazz at the University of Miami and was in Ira Sullivan's band for a while). I play rock, disco, jazz, country, blues, Musica Latina, Afro-Cuban, and many other styles. I've even played in classical bands and won "best" sax player in the state when I was in school. I'm not a rock musician. I'm not a jazz musician. I'm not a reggae musician. I'm not a country musician. I'm just a musician. I'll play whatever people want to hear and in whatever style they want (with the exception of rap and EDM, I don't think I could pull that off) Artist???? I don't think so. If others think so, that's ok. I'm just a damn good entertainer, making a living doing music and nothing but music, playing whatever puts food on the table, having fun playing it, and doing it to the best of my ability. I'm having a great life because playing music is better than any day job I can think of. I just have fun, entertain the folks, and bring home the bacon. To make things better, my wife, best friend, and lover is my duo-mate. We met when we were in different bands and when our bands both broke up, we decided to join forces. It's a match made in heaven. I don't know what it takes to be an artist, and I know that term is sometimes abused for commercial purposes, and whether it's Taylor Swift or Buddy Guy or me, we aren't artists, we're just singing musicians, and some of us have better gigs than others. When I was opening for major stars, most of them were pretty down to earth regular musicians. A few had the big ego, they forgot they were just musicians and singers and thought they were on that pedestal that the public can put you on. Right now in our area, nobody wants to pay musicians so the quality goes down. That's good and bad for us. Good in that we are desired more because we are better, bad because they undercut us so badly we can't charge what we want and haven't increased our rates in a long time. There are open mic nights around here, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Sometimes Tuesday too. What kind of quality can you expect there? It's variable, some are good, most are poor, some are terrible, but don't expect art there either. It's really easy. Practice your craft, be professional, play what the audience in front of you wants to hear, entertain them, do a good job, have fun, and don't worry about art. Life is short. Have fun. Some write run of the mill rock, jazz, folk, or country songs. Art? Not as far as I'm concerned. Some can be very, very good and well crafted, but not a thousandth of what goes into a great symphony. To me it's craft, perhaps fine craft, but craft non the less. You want real art in music? It's there, by the likes of Shostakovitch, Beethoven, Dvorak, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Suk, Mozart, Saint-Seans, Prokofiev, Grieg, Smetana, Janacek, Borodin, de Falla, and some of their modern contemporaries. Where to draw the line under that to separate art from craft and eventually from kitsch? I don't worry about that, I just play music. And I remember they call it PLAYing music for a reason. Insights, incites and perhaps a minor rant by Notes
  3. If the tracks are recorded separately on a DAW it's possible to mute one or more tracks. (that's a big if) The open source Audacity can do that, again if the tracks are separate. I have a friend who does that. He contracts musicians for his gigs, and mutes what he wants and plays what he doesn't have for the gig. He uses Audacity but I don't know where he gets his tracks. Notes
  4. I was in a 7 piece road band and we all had a feeling of ownership. We had to fire a guitarist because of alcohol problems and it had to be a unanimous vote of everybody but that guitar player before letting him go. He made it easy for us by showing up sloshed too many times and it severely affected his performance. I've never played in a band where the 'leader' owned the band and I was just a hired hand. Insights and incites by Notes
  5. As Vito said, sometimes the old entertainment purchasers just want variety. Sometimes a new committee member, or new F&B manager or new somebody else arrives and they have their favorite band so it's out with the old and in with the new. We played at a yacht club once a week for over 20 years. The people loved us, and we were like family after all those years. A new General Manager comes in, and never hires us. We see our old friends who say they miss us, and indicate that they ask for us, but we've never gone back. OK, it's a little disappointing, but I prefer to think of it as a really, really good run. On the other hand, we just got invited back for our 12 season at another marina. Lose one, gain another. As long as I'm gigging, I'm happy, and we've had this duo since 1985 and have never gone hungry. Insights and incites by Notes
  6. I do all our own backing tracks, my duo partner isn't capable of that, although she has a great musical mind and can make some nice suggestions. Does that give me more ownership than her? Not in my opinion. We all contribute what we can. But that's our situation - everybody and every duo and every band is different. Insights and incites by Notes
  7. I'm still here, but don't have much to say, except gigging is the most fun I can have with my clothes on!
  8. I hope the companionship is even more than you expect it to be. Notes
  9. I can't count the number of times we were told "You guys are great! We can't wait to have you back." Sometimes we never come back, sometimes in a couple of years, some times we find the same person working elsewhere and asking for us. It's just part of the gig. If I go and see another band I'll go up to the person who ignored us this time around with a big smile on my face, extend my hand and say something like "Hi! How are you doing?" and never let him/her know I feel slighted, and I might even ask how the festival is going this year or whatever. I don't take the slights personally anymore. Some people just feel that variety is important and that people want something different next time. Sometimes a committee makes the decisions. Sometimes favors are needed to be handed out. On the other hand, we have people who have hired us every year for over 25 years now. You just have to do your best at every gig you get, and keep in contact with the promoter, but not too often (which is a hard thing to judge). Insights and incites by Notes
  10. My wife and I own the band, we even trademarked the name. We make all the decisions, profit from the good ones, hopefully learn from the bad ones, get all the income and pay all the bills. I make all our backing tracks, we play all the live instruments, we do all the singing, pay Uncle Sam taxes on our profits, and other than crumbs from a couple of agencies, we do all the booking. It's like our own little mom & pop type small business. We are not wage slaves in some faceless corporation, we are basically two of the shrinking breed of free people in this country. Notes
  11. I didn't know about your wife's accident. I do hope she heals quickly and completely. Notes
  12. There are things on the sax that are easier than the guitar, and other things on the sax that are harder than the guitar. It seems every instrument I've learned has it's easier and harder than other features. Notes
  13. I care not about Dusty's sexual orientation, but I think she was an excellent singer with good control and taste. Some songs just work better with a sax, others with guitar, others with trumpet. Here is an example of an Elvis Presley song that my older sister had on an album that I dearly love. The sax solo is by Boots Randolph and IMHO is one of the all-time best Rock/Blues sax solos on record. I don't care for Boots Randolph on his own albums, but I understand you have to do what pays the mortgage. As a session player for something like this it's superb. The recording was obviously done live with all players playing at the same time, and you can hear them musically interacting with each other. Everybody's performance on this track is excellent. The sax comes in at about 1:32 I play sax, wind synth, flute, guitar, bass, drums, keys and vocals, so I am not saying a guitar couldn't do this better because I'm biased, it's because the vox humana of the sax is exactly what is needed in this cut. When I was a little kid, this is one song that made me want to play sax. This is why I love saxophone #1. Insights and incites by Notes
  14. I love the saxophone, it's my primary instrument. But whoever did this solo IMHO did not play with appropriate expression to compliment either Dusty or the arrangement. I've heard inappropriate sax, guitar, piano, synth, organ, trumpet and just about anything else solos. If it were me, I would have played it on tenor so as not to compete with Dusty's excellent vocals, I would have not used those inappropriate pitch bends (scoops), I would have matched Dusty's expression to start the solo and then perhaps gently drifted off to slightly different phrasing. Or else, I might have started with Dusty's phrasing on the melody and then drifted off to what I hope would be appropriate, minimalist, improvisations with a lot of air space. When you aren't the "star" of the record or song, your job is to do your best to support the star, and too many musicians would rather compete, disregard or outshine. But, every performance can't be our best one. Insights and incites by Notes Why I love the saxophone, here is another bossa nova [video=youtube;0-vlX8uRLMQ]
  15. Sorry. Due to extensive editing before I posted, it ended up saying exactly the opposite of what I meant. Sometimes things get past my inner proofreader. No, the person doing a short quote should not be punished. That's what I meant. Notes
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