Saturday, April 13, 2013 added a guy to the band?!

Finally broke the password blockade on Blogspot.  Haven't been able to post for over a year. Tried onnne morrrre time today, and shazam - it worked. Onward!

Lots has happened since last posting. For over a year now we've had the wonderful addition of Michael Byron to the band. Yes, adding a guy breaks the all-female code. But Michael is a wonderful band member. Plays great bass, never complains, sings, writes songs and adds a nice balance to our quintet. He is also the frontman and lead guitarist for a band called Alpha Dogs and has mad lead guitar skills.

Michael Byron with Mood Swings. Photo by Alan Tubbs.
 Because he can play both bass and guitar, he and I get to swap instruments sometimes. When we need  lead guitar riff power, Michael plays guitar, and I get to play bass, which I love to do, just not all the time. I have this weird thing where when I play bass I can't sing. It's like that old rub-the-tummy while patting-your-head trick - everything gets out of sync, like getting your legs tangled up while skipping rope.

The weirder thing on that is it's only on some songs. Unless the songs are super-easy, I don't get to sing, and I love to sing. I suspect I'm not the only one this happens to; it's probably one of those brain-wire things. (That said, I notice it never gave Paul McCartney any trouble.)

We're playing festivals and having a great time with it. What's not to love? We don't have to bring the crowd, the sound system, or the stage. Just show up, rock out and have fun!

More later - just happy to get back into blogland.

Now if I can just remember the new password.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Changing Moods: Waiting for the Groove Bird

Our travelin’ bass player Carol (drives all over six counties to play with various bands, shazam) left the band last spring. ‘Twas a good run with Carol. At first we thought we’d search for a new female bass player – that rare bird hidden amongst the flocks of female guitar players in the Dallas area—but they are few in number and very hard to find. Until we find that Special Someone, we are overjoyed to let the boys fill in on bass.

Jack Reed, bass player with The Coppertones, Model Citizen, Alpha Dogs and myriad other configurations of musicians, sits in with us (no, he won’t wear a yellow sundress) and Michael Byron, lead guitarist/singer for Alpha Dogs, plays with us, too – he’s a bassist at heart, we suspect!  We love the guys for stepping in, and MAN can they groove – whoa! But it’d be nice, swell, groovy, awesome, I-know,-right?- if we could find that magic combination of deeply funkified groovin’ gal. Had one of our fans tell us recently that we need to keep it all-women. Pure.  ….mmmaybe. I dunno. It’s hard to look for replacements when the guys sound so good.

I’ve heard people say a band is only as good as its bass player.  I’ve heard the same thing said about drummers.  And “only as good as the lead singer,” “only as good as its lead guitarist,” ad nauseum. Heck, in my experience, all five pieces of the band have to be cookin’ to get it right, make it tight, get it “in the pocket.” Bart Elliot of the website has it right when he explains that “in the pocket” means: “To the musician, it feels like the music is playing itself, as though everything has merged together ... all the rhythmic parts being played by one instrument.”

That kind of playing is such nirvana!  I call it being “inside” the music, when the music is flowing and you are enjoying the ride.  It’s a lovely feeling.

Anyway – back to bass.  Moods Swings are still groovin’ with our temp bass players and loving every minute of it.  But if that special female Groove Bird flies into our nest, we’ll be happy to make the room.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Fifth Mood Swing

We are looking for a new bass player. Let's see: We prefer female, but will consider a guy; someone who lives in or very near Dallas and who can practice or gig every weekend. Must groove. We're in it for the love of music. That means we sometimes play for free, we sometimes play for tips, and we sometimes play for the big bucks. KYDJ - keep your day job. If you want more details, contact me.
Mary out.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

24 Hour Music Race

Holy smokes. Imagine writing a brand-new song AND recording it with a band in a studio ---in one day. Oh-- and the line "Was anything real?" HAD to be in it, as did a fortune cookie message pulled out of a bag: "When the flowers bloom so will great joy in your life."

Thus was the 24 Hour Music Race, organized by Tom Jordan of Garland Recording Studio (and lead songwriter, singer and rhythm guitarist for band Chin's Mojo). It wasn't a competition; it was just a way to get the creative juices flowing in the music community.

It started on a Friday evening at 6. Tom gave me the two lyric lines that had to be in the new song. Met with vocalist Mary Hestand at 7, and for two hours we pounded out lyrics. No time to get deep or brilliant -- all extraneous efforts were stripped away. After two hours Mary H had to stop - it had been a hard work week; we decided picking it up in the morning would be best. Before she left she sang a melody into my laptop computer (Audacity program) and we said goodnight; I worked til 11 on lyric sheets, chords, and a shift in chord progression for the bridge.

Next morning at 9 a.m. I zoomed to Mary's house. We still had to get the skeleton of the song to Martha, the drummer, and our bass player Carol. After another hour of tinkering and singing into Audacity, we emailed the skeleton. All that afternoon the inbox was punctuated with questions and scratch-outs, and slowly the song developed. The first chance we'd have to play it together was at the recording session scheduled for 6 p.m.

At 5 pm we gathered at my house and drove to Tom's studio in Garland. It is a small space, but plenty of Pro Tools and good speakers (and a great Gretsch drum kit that was borrowed) made it as big as was needed. Tom was amazing -- worked very fast, and was a breeze to work with. He also was able to make a few quick suggestions that made our song better.

Since we had prepared as best as we could, and because we designed the song to be easy to sing and to play -- no time for fancy tricks! -- we actually recorded it in just over an hour, with 45 minutes left to do some mixing work. Way cool.

Did I mention Tom did this all for free? We really enjoyed meeting him and his wife Bethany and their girls, and are looking forward to hearing the other teams' renditions on Saturday, March 19 at O'Riley's on Forest Lane in Dallas. Each team had different fortune cookie messages, but we all had "Was anything real?"

Wonder what they did with it?

I highly recommend doing something like this --it really knocked the barnacles off the songwriting process.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

In the Music Room

We were loading into the 2010 Deep Ellum Arts Fest and some guy with wild red hair came running up. "Hey, I'm Randy," he said. "We're friends on Facebook."

I had no idea who he was.

"I can't stay, but I want to invite you to play on my show."

He explained that he and his wife Helen have an internet radio show called In the Music Room, it was kinda like a house concert, but over the internet, and was mostly acoustic, but interested in all original music, and he had to go, had to pick up his son, and we would talk later.

Then he was gone.

I started to nose around. Over Facebook page threads, phone calls with Randy and surreptitious conversations with people who knew him, I concluded he was legit.

I've learned that Randy is passionate about what he does, passionate about music to the extent that he has built an excellent listening-and-recording room at his home, which he opens to music lovers every single weekend. All guests on his show play original music.

Even though most of the performers on the show play folk, country and indie acoustic, he was willing to open his doors to the Mood Swings. I warned him we were NOT like his other guests -- we were loud, we were rock, and we were sometimes inexplicable. He wanted us anyway.

As the recording date drew near, he emphasized that we needed to bring the volume down so we wouldn't overwhelm the room (it's about the size of your den), and we needed to arrive ready to play 7 songs. We gathered up as many soft songs as we could (five), tacked on two of our weirder ones, and crossed our fingers we wouldn't peg the meters on the sound board.

Five days before our recording date, he threw a curve ball: he was going to record us without stage monitors. This was heresy! We griped among ourselves, asked him again if he was sure he wanted to risk that, and he responded with a phrase that always makes my flags go up: "Trust me." But we figured what the heck, it's his show, he must know what he is doing because he's been doing it for a long time now, it's his room, so....we pushed out into new territory. We put Martha (drummer) on bundles and brushes, Diane (lead guitar) on acoustic guitar, and launched into the mellower side of the Mood Swings.

We had a lovely time. Randy and Helen did the interview with the band members, and it was surprisingly laid back and relaxing. Sweet love songs and a jazzy number and a mostly-instrumental; we even invited his dad, Harold, to sit in and play sax on one of the songs.

It was their 100th show, and we can't wait to hear the results. It'll take a month or so before the songs are mixed down, and a bit longer before they can be heard on the show site:

In the Music Room is located in Waxahachie, Texas, which is about a 45 minute drive south of Dallas. I can tell you it is worth going to -- you will hear excellent music in a small, intimate setting, and will enjoy the company of music lovers and even some good food, if you go on a Potluck night. The room is small, though, so be sure to RSVP before you go. I hear Bugs Henderson is playing there in December, and in the spring, Cary Cooper & Tom Prasado-Rao will be in the house.

Mood Swings will be back In the Music Room in Fall 2011.