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Monday, January 30, 2012

How Did You Learn ALL THIS STUFF?

This is not Mikey. This is Kokopelli. He lives in Oregon now. But he is cute and furry, like Mikey.

So I says to Mikey the other day, "How come you know all this studio stuff?" (Whenever I ask him how to do something, he gives me the answer. Mostly,  just like that. Sometimes he has to poke around, but not very often.)

He is one righteously smart dude.

 Today I got the answer(s).

Let me back up to yesterday, in which I am visiting with Lori B at the Colorado Springs Childrens Chorale office. She is giving me 5 new songs that need rehearsal MP3s for Sing! Raise The Roof!,  which is their annual boys choir extravaganza. These files are what Mikey has taught me how to do, and which I now spend a lot of time doing, and which is very fun (mostly, except for Carmina Burana, which is torture because of the original sequencer's penchant for locking stuff) and doing this lets me pretend I am a Real Musician.

She tells me about this terrifying solo she has in this Copeland piece they're doing in  Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble (she is the beautiful brunette in the center of the photo), and does Mikey have the ability to record her singing it at a rehearsal so she can evaluate what she needs to work on? Well, of course he can, I assure her, not having any idea that he sold the equipment for this years ago.

Here is a picture of him being smart again, and re-wiring the trailer. Who knows how to do that, I ask you?

So last night after dinner, I says to him, all sweet and innocent-like,  which he should know by now means that I am up to something, "Honey, I need to ask you a favor - for Lori."  He loves Lori as much as everyone else who knows Lori loves Lori, so of course, he's all ears. And then I tell him the problem, and ask him if he can do it. He tells me that he sold that equipment years ago, and then thinks for a minute, and then the magic happens. The wheels start turning, and I can see that this is just another puzzle for The Master to solve, and he is hot on the trail.

And all this time, Lori has been worrying that he is too busy, that she shouldn't impose like this, that it is too much to ask, etc, when really, it is just another Fun Thing for him to figure out. And so he does.

Eating leftover pie - one of his many talents.

So an appropriate cable or two are located and tested and found to be wanting, and more cables and adaptors are located and tested, and the laptop is loaded with Sonar, and generally Things Are Falling Into Place. I do some terrible test singing, which should have sounded better as I have already consumed the highest alcohol content beer we have in the house, and I always sound better with a bit of the old Loose Juice, problems are found and solved, and pretty soon he has a pile of stuff ready for Tuesday night.

Thank you, Lori, for giving him something fun to do. He is having a blast. He said so.


So now comes the part of the story in which we find out how he came to know all this stuff. If you have not already used this time to get a drink and a snack and go pee, I suggest you do so now.

So first, I need to tell about Mikey's dad, Jim, who is/was a physicist.  (I had to use spellcheck twice to get the spelling right. I am NOT a physicist.)
 How 'bout that tie, huh? Stylin'.
 When Mikey was in the 4th grade or so, Jim built a computer in their living room from paper clips, coffee cans, thread spools, switches and flashlight bulbs. And he and a couple of collaborators wrote a book about it called, "How To Build a Working Digital Computer". I am not making this up. There is a museum in Nova Scotia with an exhibit about him. I just can't find the link. But here is one that references the book.    The Paperclip Computer

Mikey has always had a natural aptitude for this sort of thing.  The Knack  In addition, he started playing bass guitar at 14, and was in a band all the way through high school, as well as playing football and taking calculus and physics and those other classes that make me cry. Turns out, he also had 2 years of electronic classes. In the band, he was the guy who "hooked all the s*** up by the seat of my pants". They all chipped in to buy a cheap Heil mixing board for their performances. And so it began...

This is a real vintage Heil.  I found it on a page where people complained about not being able to sell them.  (Imagine that.)  Well, Mikey said it had big knobs.  "You twiddle the knobs, and you learn. You can quote me on that."
 Mikey and the Boys In The Band also borrowed Jim's amplifier, speaker and preamp. 

Don't ask me which is which. It's all just visual gobbledygook to me.
The story is beginning to lead the reader in the proper direction. 

Synopsis: Jim had all this stuff, and taught Mikey about it. That's for those of you who weren't really paying attention so far.

During the U of M years, Mikey's bass amp blew up, and for lack of discretionary income, he was forced to fix it himself. This led to a job and training in a stereo store, Hi-Fi Buys on Main Street in Ann Arbor.  This is now the home of Overature Audio.

During this same period, the University Activities Club offered classes and weekend experience in Professional Sound Stuff. There were classes twice a week, and musical acts of all kinds on the weekends, for whom he then applied what he had learned to setting things up to make the musicians sound good. This is where he met Steve Tarnowsky, who we will meet in the next chapter.

After college, Mikey took a job in southern California with Hughes Aircraft.
This H-4 Hercules was way before Mikey's time, but it is a cool photo.
 He and some fellow techie types played in a band called DoppleGang. (This is not to be confused with a current band of the same name.) Their drummer, Heather, was a computer programmer, Steve T. on lead and rhythm guitars was an EE, as was a temporary keyboardist, Mark. Dave, who shared lead/rhythm duties with Steve, worked at a stereo shop. Not a right-brainer in the bunch.

I have a lot more notes, but I'm starting to lose interest myself. One can only imagine how you, Dear Reader, feels.

Oh! I almost forgot the part where he works in a real music studio, Premore, owned by the guy who owned Solo Cup.  (Look under the section 'Founder' in this link.) He really learns a lot of stuff here, and realizes he wants to have his own studio someday. When he and the first wife have house built in Black Forest, Colorado, a slab is poured for the future studio, but it is never built.

Let's wrap it up with we bought a house with an unfinished walkout basement, built a 3 room recording studio in it, then he learned Sonar, then he used it for the next band, Big Heater.
Ain't they some badasses, them Big Heater boys? Mikey, PLEASE grow that beard again.

      Thanks Mikey!

The truth comes out. I married him for his legs.