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Free As a Cloud

Free As a Cloud

[CD]

~ Dave Kish

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Product Notes

PLEASE NOTE: These songs are also available as individual downloads through Rhapsody, Napster, and many other services. This CD is a 'best of' selection of songs that I wrote and recorded some years ago after quitting the pro music scene. Not having to concentrate on a narrow range of style and sound anymore, I was free to pursue an idea no matter where it went. The result was that each song is a thing unto itself. The only element of sameness was the fact that I mostly used guitar. I don't think that any of the tracks have drums. (I learned that from listening to Les Paul's stuff.) Guitar can combine rhythm and chords so well that you can leave out drums, giving the sound a transparency. You can hear 'through' the tracks, and the whole thing just wraps itself nicely around your brain. Feels good! The recording medium was a Teac 2340SX reel-to-reel 4-channel tape recorder, connected to a scratch-built mixing board (Craig Anderton's Home Recording). My guitar went direct, so very little miking was used (outside of the vocals, of course). By pre-mixing and reusing tracks, I was able to get seven layers with very good fidelity. However, this meant that everything was in single-channel (mono). I always had hopes of redoing everything in a real studio, but family came first, so it never happened, and I'm now in my sixties. And here we are in the age of internet publishing, the most democratic of all mediums. It took quite awhile to decide to go ahead and release these songs 'as is', but I realized that the most important thing here was the enthusiasm and passion (and ability!) of the moment when the songs were newly conceived. It was an essential element of this presentation. And time and opportunity are not forever, so here I go. Every effort has been made to produce the highest audio quality possible. About the songs: OH, IF I COULD ONLY FLY! This is all about actually being able to fly, for real! The guitar solo is in two parts that combine and separate, then come together again, just like the fluid motion of a pair of birds in flight. FREE AS A CLOUD When I was about 8 years old, I was flying a kite on a breezy day in early spring. I remember becoming especially aware of the feel of the wind on my face, and the emerging beauty of the budding trees, and it just felt incredible to be alive at that moment. BELOVED Written for my oldest son David. He is a lover of the mountains. The grand scale of such surroundings has a very spiritual aspect to it, and this is where he is happiest. THAT'S HOW I FEEL ABOUT YOU I am especially pleased at how the guitar work came out on this one. For those interested, the rhythm part is two layers of complementary chord voicings. This 'fattened up' the sound and made it strong and buoyant at the same time. Check out the chord changes; ALL the chords are major! (No minors, 7ths,etc) THE STRANGER (Here is the first verse:) 'When I was just a little lad and busy at my play, I saw a stranger walking slowly down our street one day, the look upon his face seemed sad, although he smiled at me, I stood there and I stared at him and thought, 'Who could he be?'' FALL BOUQUET Instrumental version of a song about evening in late autumn, and the sweet recollection of times past. There are lyrics if you'd like to check them out. (See below) SLO TOWN This song is all about a little town on the Central California coast (San Luis Obispo). I don't know what it's like there now, but years ago, it was the kind of place you'd want to never leave. LIGHTER THAN AIR My romanticised impression of a bunch of hot air balloons floating toward you on a cool October morning. LOVESONG FOR THE SEA A synthesis of my very first encounters with the Pacific Ocean. It was frightening (my first time was at night) but wonderful! I fell in love! MYSTERY THEME My idea for a James Bond-type flick or TV thing about European spy stuff. Some of my better guitar work! FALL BOUQUET Paint with a sunrise color on the autumn leaves, wintertime is on the way, time to make a fall bouquet, take a day and fill it full of gold from the meadows, summer birds are on the wing, listen to the songs they sing, nothing like the songs of spring, when was spring? So long ago, when life was new, was it a dream, or did I know, someone like you? Laughter of children echoes in the schoolyard trees how they love to run and play, time to make a fall bouquet, a fall bouquet, Some other spring, when life is new, oh, could it be, someone like me, meets someone like you, Brave little cricket, singing by himself tonight time to make a fall bouquet wintertime is on the way, on the way. © 1981 Dave Kish Every artistic endeavor involves risk. Some will like your work, others may not. But you bare your soul and hope for the best. If you wish to share a thought or two about the music, my e-mail address is: soloflytemusic@clearwire.net ALL ABOUT ME (Way more than you wanted to know!) My parents were working musicians. They both played piano, and we had an old upright in what we called the solarium (sun room). It was pretty much in tune, and my parents kept it busy. Typically, afternoons were rehearsal time, and one or the other would be working on something new for a gig, or giving vent to some inspirational urge to just play. In the summertime, most of our windows would be open (no one had air conditioning then) and as they played, neighbors' doors and windows would open quietly, an invisible audience. When one is aware of this, rehearsal turns into impromptu performance. I never heard neighbors' applause, but I'm sure it was there sometimes. On top of the piano were two rather large stacks of sheet music. When both parents were gigging, it was my job to stay awake to babysit my two younger sisters until mom & dad returned home at 3am. When I got tired of TV, I would get the song sheets down and go through them one by one, looking at the artwork and occasionally peeking inside. However, it was not their activity that urged me toward music, although it influenced my approach to the music business. I'm convinced that I was just born a musician! At the age of three, I had a set of wooden blocks with the five lines of the staff, and a single note on each side. I would arrange them in various sequences, and bug my mom and/or grandma to play the resulting melody. At the age of five, I would try to 'sing pretty' to their accompanyment. Lots of vibrato, kind of operatic-like (Yes, Jesus loves me, yes Jesus loves me.........) I never cared much for piano, although I did a lot of 'pecking'. Mom had a 78 rpm LP record of Art Tatum (a mostly blind pianist with unbelievable ability and musicianship who was the inspiration and despair of pianists everywhere) and his rich, colorful harmonic approach to music made a very big impression on me. Arthur Godfrey, a radio personality, whose specialty was a mid-morning variety show with a very informal and relaxed format, was also a big afficianado of the ukelele. His instrument of choice was a baritone uke (tuned like the first four strings of a guitar). Although he was basically a strummer, he often featured virtuouso players who did incredible things on (mainly tenor) uke. If you haven't heard some of this stuff, you are in for a major shock. Anyway, I came into possession of a nice tenor uke and a little book called 'Gukerts 50 chords for ukelele'. At first I couldn't decide how to hold the uke (being left-handed) but eventually decided to do like the book said. I couldn't get enough of this thing, and practiced incessantly. In fact, I got to carrying it around with me on my bike everywhere I went. By this time, Godfrey was on TV (yes, b&w) and there I was, uke in hand. An interesting incident: I don't remember the year, but a movie musical called Moonlight Bay (Doris Day) was in local theaters. The songs were being played on commercial radio, and one of them, 'Love Ya Love Ya Honey' really grabbed me because the guy in the duet was playing tenor uke. It was a lively, perky little tune, and everytime it got played on the radio, I HAD to play along. In fact, it got so intense that I went to a local theater, bringing my uke in a paper bag. I was going to play along with the movie! Sadly, I chickened out at the last minute, and a golden opportunity was lost forever. And then there was this presence. Some guy named Les Paul. Arthur Godfrey was quickly fading into the background, and I began hovering around radios as much as I could, awaiting the sound of Les's incredible guitar work. When one of his songs did come on the air, whatever I was doing at the time was put instantly on hold. Compared to the soft-focus sound of other pre-rock pop music, his stuff had a crisp, bell-like resonance, with the captivating, uplifting quality and sense of happy anticipation of the sound of popcorn popping. I couldn't get enough of it. I had a pretty good ear and memory for music, so I would work on the chords for his songs as they were released. About that time, influenced by those virtuouso uke players, I started putting together full melody/chord arrangements of currently popular songs. On Main St. In downtown Akron there was a little arcade which had a recording booth. You dropped in 50 cents, pushed a button, and did whatever you were going to do. I did my first recording there, Lady of Spain, melody and chords. I was in grade school then, Fraunfelter elementary in East Akron. There in the library was a portrait of Captain Fraunfelter, big honking mustache and military uniform, and underneath, his sword. Yes, I even took my uke to school. One year there was a talent show, and of course I entered. There was no mike, so when I got up to play, I suddenly realized that the uke wasn't loud enough to fill a phone booth let alone the hall, and I panicked. I had also neglected to wash my hands, and the combination of nervous sweat and dirt was like violin rosin. My fingertips were sticking to the nylon strings! The summer of 1953 was a big transition point. I graduated from 8th grade, and came to the conclusion that it was time to switch over to guitar, with it's greater tonal range. My stepfather had an old clunker of a guitar with cheese cutter action, due to the neck-body dovetail joint being loose, and this was my first instrument. Needless to say, I wasn't carrying this around on my bike! By this time, my head was full of Les Paul stuff, and I spent endless hours listening and trying to play whatever I could. Of course, my big dream was to have two tape recorders, a real Les Paul guitar, and a good amp. We had an old box-type record player that did only 78's, and I spent hours trying to keep up with 'The World Is Waiting For the Sunrise'. At first, it was like running alongside an airplane on it's takeoff roll, but gradually, I began to get there. Meantime, my chord chops were beginning to develop, and I did alot of experimenting with extending the chords I knew into other sounds that weren't in any of the lesson books. The Four Freshmen were at the height of their popularity, and I experimented with that kind of voicing and really fell in love with it. So things began to develop in two parallel lines: My Les Paul thing, and this thing with piano-like melody/chord arrangements. Eventually, that style would end up somewhere between Barney Kessel and Johnny Smith. Our neighborhood in East Akron was an eclectic mix of nationalities and cultures, so my friends and neighbors were a very interesting mix. Among these were a strong Baptist family of traditional country music lovers who had a son about my age who was also learning guitar. We would often sit on his front porch and teach each other anything new that we had figured out. He had a cousin Howard who was quite a bit advanced from us, and I had occasion to 'jam' with him also on his front porch. Those sessions were the beginning of stretching my abilities, being in a little over my head, and they were an important part of my musical growth. As to style, I was still neutral, so my interest in country music was not that great. But when I heard Art Tatum and some of the other east coast jazz artists, everything clicked into place. They were doing the same songs my parents were doing, songs based on the accumulating standards from Broadway and movies. I was learning 'the book', and in the future I would draw on this internal 'library' in my professional career. Here's how I ended up with my first decent guitar. A local TV station in Akron had a talent show, and I entered. My instrument then was that old clunker, the strap consisting of a sash cord-looking thing that cut into your shoulder pretty good. Although I didn't have any real speed chops, in true kamakazi spirit I decided to do a number that was at the crash-and-burn limit of my ability. It was Mammy's Boogie, one of Les's current tunes. At the audition, I played it sitting down. Well, the guy decided I was good enough, but said that I would have to play standing up, which I had never done. Like a fool, I agreed. Back home, as soon as I started rehearsing, I knew I was in trouble, mainly because of that 'strap'. But, I was commited, so 'forward, march'! All too soon, the fateful day arrived, and I did the deed. I was totally whipped by some girl in a drugstore cowgirl outfit pounding on a guitar and singing 'I Don't Hurt Anymore'. My buddies were pretty nice about what they had seen. When I asked what they thought, they were very diplomatic. Then a strange thing happened. A couple of weeks later, my stepfather came home with a Gibson ES125, the non-cutaway brother of the famed ES175. I was in total shock! The old clunker disappeared in the back of the music store, never to be seen again. My progress began to really accelerate. My hands were getting stronger, and my sessions with the Les Paul records were becoming more involved. One marvelous thing about his recordings was that you could hear the separate parts very clearly, and I would listen for hours to the same song, over and over, playing along on melody, bass part, rhythm, 2nd & 3rd tier parts. It was a first-class course on how to arrange, how to record, skills that would prove very valuable later on when I began to perform with others in groups. With this training I would know just how to fit in. Baubles, Bangles and Beads As a freshman I attended Hower Vocational High School in downtown Akron. It was where students showing ability and promise in some technical field came from all over the city. It was a pretty demanding place: You had all the regular academic subjects plus your specialty, in my case aviation mechanics. But being downtown put me within walking distance of Akron Music Center on Main Street. At least once a week, I'd hurry over there with one thing in mind: To look at, touch, and even play a real Les Paul guitar. It was displayed on a stand in a little enclosure, like a performer in the spotlight. I was 13 years old with no money, but soon a clerk would come over and ask me the question, 'Would you like to try it out?' He might as well have said, 'How would you like to make love to the most beautiful girl in the world'? We would then go to a room in the back of the store, where the latest amps were displayed and plugged in. He hooked it up and handed me the guitar. The first chord I hit wouldn't quit resonating! I was totally unprepared for the incredible sustain of a real solid body electric guitar, and the thing just ran away from me. But the full rich sound, that gold finish, the weight of it, even the aroma of the Polish; I was hopelessly in love! But it was a lunch hour, so in a few minutes I was reluctantly on my way back to reality, and afternoon classes. One thing began to bother me. The Les Paul guitar looked like the one Les played, but it didn't sound like the one he played! With the super-sharp hearing of a teenager, I'd noticed a big contrast between the warm, fat tone of the LP and the crystal-clear ring of a Fender Strat, which sounded much more like what I was hearing on the records. None of the clerks in the store had a clue as to why, since in those days there wasn't widespread technical knowledge of why pickups sounded the way they did. My first guitar method was a thing called the Gibson Method For Guitar, a Manila envelope containing a bunch of three-hole punched lesson sheets. There were quite a few full-page pictures of amateur music groups, and judging by the dress, instruments and poses, it must have been published in the 20's. And the lesson music sounded like it! From there, I turned to another 20's icon, Nick Maniloff. His stuff had a dark, 'Lower Slovobia' ponderous tone, like background music for a miserable rainy day in November. I fled that scene in a hurry! Then there was Mel Bay. I've always had a fondness for light classical music, and his simplified versions of such were a delight. Meantime, I had begun to accumulate hand-made pages of chord diagrams. I began to understand the logic of strings, the repetition of fingerings, how the same form in different locations had different aliases. In 1956, I went to live with my natural father in the little town of Wadsworth. My dad opined that I might do better with guitar if I took some lessons. So, I signed up with an elderly man at a music store on Howard Street in Akron. When I showed him my chord sheets and do-it-yourself notation (such as it was) he snorted and told me it was all garbage. (A real diplomat!) Then he opened a piano lead sheet of a currently popular song, a kind of calypso thing called 'Mary Ann', recorded by the Ames Brothers. He instructed me to play the first chord, which he insisted was a G minor, while he played the melody. The first melody note of the song was a B natural. Unfortunately, the third in a G minor chord is Bb! Hey, I knew better than that! We argued for a bit. I tried to tell him that it just didn't sound right, but I couldn't tell him why, so I just clammed up for the remainder of the session. That was the last session. Back to Mel Bay! In November, I was finally able to buy a real Les Paul guitar! I must have opened and shut that case a hundred times just the first day! First to just look at it. Then to touch it. To smell it. It was one of the last ones with the soap bar pickups. I now needed an amp, so my dad, who was into electronics as a hobby, got in touch with a friend who had a medium-power amp for home 'hi-fi' use. I built a cabinet for it out of 3/4' plywood, and put a 12' speaker in it. It weighed about 45 lbs. Dad made me a handle out of a piece of iron flat stock, 1/4' x 1'. Our high school had a Dukane tape recorder, and one night I decided to take my guitar and amp there and lay some tracks down to play along with. Dad couldn't be bothered with taking me in the car, so I lugged the whole thing there on foot. Iron flat stock makes lousy handles. It happened that there was a school play in rehearsal, so I just walked in and went to a room nearby where the tape recorder was. I was working on my rendition of Clarinet Polka, so there I was, trying various parts. An hour or so later, two men walked in and started questioning me about why I was there, and did I have permission. I had asumed that the rehearsal group knew I was there, but they had left, and nobody had said anything to anybody. At least I got a ride home. I graduated from Wadsworth High 0n May 30th, 1957. Free at last! Well, not quite. I had enlisted in the Navy Air Reserve the previous summer, and now it was time to go to boot camp. And of course the guitar went along, minus the amp. I wasn't allowed to touch it for the first couple of weeks, but as we progressed in training the DI let up on us a bit, and I was able to keep up in my practice. After working a few months at the same chemical plant where my dad worked, I moved to Pasadena California in November of 57. The following March I 'shipped over' to regular Air Force, and off to basic training - again! After a few weeks of basic at Lackland, I was sent to Warren AFB near Cheyenne Wyoming for tech training. It was there that I decided to move up to a newer Les Paul model guitar. My dad loaned me the money, and I placed the order directly with Gibson. It was a gold top with the new PAF humbuckers. I specified an ebony fingerboard with ES-175 inlays (double parallelograms). It came to $400.00, and I would have to wait nearly a year, since guitars were made in batches, and it would be awhile before they got around to Les Paul's again. After training, my first duty assignment was Lincoln Air Force Base in Lincoln Nebraska, and there was where things started to really come together. I hadn't been there more than a few months when a 'friend' asked me if I wanted to play at a jam session in town. Well, okay. 'Just call this number, and somebody will pick you up'. As we drove to the house, the guy kept shaking his head and apologizing. And there was his wife, Gibson SG in hand, a stack of Elvis Presley 45's, and a little box record player! Let's jam! 'H-don't be cruel, to a heart that's true', (etc etc etc) and meantime she's cranking out chord changes on her SG. I fit in the best I could. After about an hour, I excused myself. All the way back to the base, the husband kept shaking his head and apologizing. And so ended my budding friendship with the jerk who put me up to it. There was a USO in town, run by an elderly couple, and that's where all the guys hung out. Quite a few young ladies were showing up regularly, and once in awhile,one would host a gathering where they lived. It was at one of those parties that a huge breakthrough occured while I was listening to a Sal Salvador record. I had begun to understand that the fingering pattern of a scale had a tendency to lead you in certain directions by what was hard or easy. And, the same note on different strings had very different sounds. So it was possible to listen to someone play and visualize their fingering. That night I suddenly realized that Sal was using the same scale pattern, moving it up and down the fingerboard to play in different keys, in the case of All The Things You Are, seven keys. I immediately left the party and went back to the barracks and got to work. With a little experimenting, I discovered that there are five distinct patterns, overlapping one another, that cover the entire fingerboard up to the thirteenth fret. At the twelfth fret and beyond, the whole sequence of patterns repeats itself. And, if you slid the whole thing up a fret, you were playing the entire board in the next higher key (Db). Up another fret and you were in D. Another fret up and the highest pattern could now be played at the 1st fret, and you have the entire board in Eb! I went nuts, practicing the sequences like a crazy person. I had discovered the essential logic of strings! At that time, I really had no idea of where to go next, but I had enough to keep me busy for the time being! Chop Busters One day at the USO, my guitar and I were gliding along through a ballad arrangement when a couple of strangers walked in. After I finished my number, one of them asked if he could play my guitar. He asked me if I would play bass for him, then proceeded to tear into a brisk uptempo Sal Salvador-like rendition of 'I Remember You'. It was like Sal was playing my guitar. Meanwhile, I fumbled and struggled with the high action and unfamiliar feel of the bass, looking like a complete nincompoop in the process. After, he handed back the guitar with that triumphant look of a jerk who is taking pleasure in knowing that he just got to show off and humiliate you in front of your friends. I salvaged what I could by sitting down with him and asking alot of questions. Turned out that he was with the Glen Miller band, and he was from San Francisco, and that he had been a student of Sal Salvador. In a way he had done me a favor. Now I realized how dull my music had become, and I needed to perk things up. And I did. I had been working on the full-fingerboard scale thing for about a month, and to try it out, I got together with my bass player. Apparently I had improved, because he looked at me as though I had two heads! That felt good. It was there in Lincoln that I began teaching. Through a fellow guitarist on the base, I met Dave Hahn, a very nice gentleman who owned a music store in downtown on 'O' Street. The other guitarist was teaching in an upstairs studio in the store, and encouraged me to 'have a try at it' with one of his students while he observed. He seemed to think that I did well, and encouraged me to start building a student roster. It was at this store where I bought the best guitar amp I would ever own, a Fender Twin. It was a perfect match to my new Les Paul, which had finally been shipped to Lincoln direct from the factory. There was a shortage of guitar players in town, so Dave got the okay from the Musician's Local in Lincoln to use servicemen if no locals were available. Thus began my professional career. An interesting tidbit: Dave was a long-time friend of Lawrence Welk, who lived and played in that area before hitting the 'big time' in Southern California. For a time, they often played across town from one another, in friendly competition as to who could draw the biggest crowds. Occasionally, Dave would visit for a week or two at his old buddy's place in So. Cal. I met my future wife, Donna, at the USO in Lincoln, and on April 8, 1960, we were married. About six months later, I was given a new duty assignment. Greenland! Although painful, the isolation did provide me an opportunity to solidify my recent gains in knowledge of the guitar and music. There were weekend gigs at the officer and NCO clubs, and many jam sessions at the service club. In November of the following year, Greenland (and the Air Force) were finished, and our little family were off to Pasadena California. While unloading furniture from a boxcar at a warehouse, I severely sprained my left thumb, and it was a year before I was able to play guitar at all. In fact, other than visits to Berry & Grasmuek on Colorado St., there was nothing happening. Eventually, through a piano player at the store, I found out about a possible gig at an Elks club in El Monte. I had no idea who to call, so he recommended a vibe player named Merv Kennedy. Being of a somewhat cautious nature, I asked Merv if we could get together so I could verify his ability. Well, it turned out that he was miles ahead of me, and thus began a relationship that would prove pivotal in my knowledge of music theory and musicianship. Merv and a friend were co-authoring a book of simplified music theory. It skipped over the deep, formal stuff of classical music, and focused on understanding of the mechanics of chord progressions, the cycle of 4ths and 5ths. Merv decided that I was a prime candidate for this stuff, and so without charge, he began taking me through their new book. I wasn't the best student, but when it began to make sense, I took off like a rocket! Like the insight I'd gained about the fingerboard, this understanding about theory put everything together. Now there was a way to make sense of everything I was hearing and playing. And thus began years of gigging with many fine (and not so fine) musicians in the San Gabriel Valley. I began teaching at Cronen Music Center in Montebello. And so, in my own generation and in my own way, I was following in my parents' footsteps. The music business was still much as they had known it. The holy grail was to be steadily employed, playing six nights a week. Then you were making your living by playing music. Those in that position were usually part of a group, unless you did a single playing organ or piano in a restaurant or bar (the ultimate musical exile). For a group, getting six nights for the whole group was always a struggle. Some club owners would insist on splitting the group, having one or two of the players come in only on the weekend nights. Where were the gigs? Bowling alleys were numerous and quite popular, and most had cocktail lounges, where musicians were brought in on weekends, Friday and Saturday nights. Restaurants, steak houses, bars. These came as close to steady work as one could get. Also, depending on time of year, there were one-timers at private residences. Birthdays, bar-mitzvahs, wedding receptions, things like that. Usually trios (chord instrument, bass & drums) were the best one could do, because of the money. But other musicians who were not gigging that weekend would stop by, and 'sit in' for a couple songs, and of course, the club owners were happy about the freebees. The standards of musicianship were generally rather high, and you had to be very adaptable, being able to at least fake many different musical styles. Since most gigs were of short duration, and people varied alot in their willingness to pay, groups took whatever form was needed for that gig. In a given area, there would be a few each of guitar, bass, piano players, drummers that would constitute a pool from which one could draw for a gig. Since there was a wide variation in abilities, the better players were much more in demand. So if you were leader for the gig, you worked your way down the list from best to worst. Starting Wednesday night, phones would be ringing. 'Are you playing this weekend?' 'I've got a bar-mitzvah at this guy's house in Woodland Hills, Saturday at 3:00. It pays ____.' Typical response was 'Whose playing with us?' Then a discussion might ensue about prior experiences with so-and-so. If there were marginal players involved (all the good ones are booked up): 'Oh hey, it's just one afternoon'. The music This is my personal perspective on what happened. From the 1940's through 1960's, music was taking two parallel paths: Music written for movies and Broadway shows was of very high quality, and dominated the airwaves. Many of the best written songs became a permanent body of literature, referred to as 'standards', being rerecorded by various artists over the years. At the same time, a pop culture had developed, producing lesser quality music that was not as well crafted, but was fun, novel. The pop culture was a reflection of the really good stuff, and like reflections, often not very good. That's why most of those songs were so forgettable. In fact, as time went by, they became imitations of one another, an inbreeding that produced weak (and at times, idiotic) offspring. Ballads became so overly precious as to be nauseating. When rock came along in the 50's, it was a bucket of water in the face. The energy and excitement were overwhelming. This broad genre began to accumulate it's own 'best of' list, and this new music became a solidly fixed entity. One big difference: the standards were revered for their musical craftsmanship and excellence, and were almost exclusively written by highly skilled and schooled people who stayed in the background, while others publicly performed their works. Such was the quality of writing that performers could endlessly invent new interpretations of these songs. Meanwhile, pop music had become a realm of personality performers, and songs were usually identified by the recording artist, who had become as important as the music itself. In fact, the original performer of a pop hit pretty much 'owned' the song. Generally, subsequent recordings of that song were often critically compared to 'the original', as knockoffs, an attempt to cash in on a trend. Actually in some cases that was true! In those days, musicians who had learned to play through lessons from an instructor (school or private one-on-one) had decent music reading skills. Others with discipline and motivation taught themselves out of instruction books. I'm not referring to 'sight reading' which is a special skill that was rarely needed. But some reading ability, along with a really good memory, was a definite asset, especially if you were doing any arranging. Since individual song sheets were costly, and there were literally hundreds of songs, those who relied a lot on having the written music in front of them found ways to cut corners. Bootleg photocopied collections of music, called 'fake books' were sold under the table (usually at a music store) if you knew somebody. Somehow, without buying it, I came into possession of one for awhile, and remember leafing through it's crudely-printed pages, drilling myself on things like what the original key was, who wrote it, etc.. Ironically, I don't remember seeing anyone actually using one of those books on a gig. However, there was one publication that had widespread use, 'The Musician's Dance Band Guide' (I think that was the title.) It was legit, a listing of songs in various categories, with original key and starting note. I remember my parents using it to get a playlist together for a gig. Although it contained no actual music, it was a great memory aid. Other than that, we played 'head arrangements', cautiously working our way through songs we all knew from that 'book' of standards in our heads. There was an understanding that you adjusted your playing style (simple to complex with cool substitutions of chord changes) according to everyone's level of ability. If, say, the bass player was really good, you could drop in a nice alternate change at a certain spot, and when you hit that same spot the next time around, play it that way together. Or the bass player would do something and if you were paying attention, you picked it up. We were often no more than background music to the crowd, so these little excursions into creativity kept us on our toes, and were alot of fun. Only the band knew. On very rare occasions, someone in the room would pick up on what we were doing, and would come over and comment on it. That was especially nice. We had connected with someone! (TO BE CONTINUED)

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    Details

    Artist: Dave Kish
    Title: Free As a Cloud
    Genre: Easy Listening
    Release Date: 11/28/2006
    Label: CD Baby
    Product Type: CD
    Catalog #: 5637265304
    UPC: 634479432187
    Item #: SRD943218
    This product is a special order

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