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Bluegrass steps up with Mike Childree

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by Damon Rondeau, Jun 20, 2004.

  1. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    ... just posted a couple of new Eastwind Bluegrass Band tunes contributed by Mike Childree.

    The real thing, baby.

    Talkin' Bass
  2. This is some good straightforward playing. That New Standard is potent. I like the band as well although this is probably the first time I have heard a recording where the mandolin completely overpowers the banjo--not necessarily a bad thing!

    With regards to your playing I just have a little food for thought. You might consider using some passing tones or approach notes when moving between chords in a tune like the white cross. For example, when you move from E to G and back, try inserting an F#. Or during the C D E progression try walking up using C Db D Eb E. That definitely breaks the monotony of 1-5 and gives the music a little different feel.

    I liked the solo on the breakdown. It definitely goes beyond the "boogie-woogie" that is usually the limit of most b'grass bass solos. It does sound a little rushed in places. You might thing about breaking it up with a few quarter or half notes. I struggle with this myself--I feel like I have to play as many notes as the guitar/banjo/fiddle break and on a faster tune, it just doesn't translate very well.
  3. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Steve, thanks for listening and thanks for the tips.

    You know, when I play live gigs, I tend to do a lot more things with leading tones, harmony, etc. and it sounds fine. But for some reason (maybe because I've always had it drummed into my head that the general listening public can much easier grasp a "less is more" approach), I always tend to pare my lines down in the studio for the sake of clarity. I agree with you, though...some movement would definitely create interest.
  4. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Just got done giving several listens to the CD version of the tunes graciously provided by Sam. Since asking him to print labels would be a bit much, I can't tell which title is the vocal and which the instrumental, but I have several observations:

    1) The spirit and energy of the musicians in this group is great! I do most of my listening either in the car or on my cross-training machine these days, and you guys had my heart rate flying on the machine, and with a smile on my face, too.

    2) The Cleveland sounds FRIGGIN' HUGE. How was it mic'd up/recorded?

    3) I had no problem with the simplicity of the lines at all. Given all that's going on in the other parts, I think you played it just right.

    4) My one critical comment - and remember, this is from one who appreciates but does not play the Grass - would be that I think you would benefit greatly from paying more attention to the RELEASE rhythm of your notes, and of your sound in general. To my admittedly novice bluegrass ears, what propels an ensemble like this is the "thump" of the bass on the beat and then the "chick" of the muted banjo on the offbeats. As with swing, this very simple concept can be full of joy, dead flat, and/or anywhere in between. In this setting, I think your "downbeats" are dead on, and full of the spirit of the music. But much of the time, I don't feel that same "snap" at the end of your notes. My ear wants to hear your notes cut cleanly off right when the banjo click happens, but sometimes I'm still hearing lingering bass tones through the click. On the intro to the second (vocal) tune, there's a rhythmic kick which would also have sounded great with a more definite cutoff on the ends of the notes, as if it would make the whole band sound tighter as the silence defines the sound that just happened.

    Anyway, this is all from some decidedly uniformed bluegrass ears, so take it for what it's worth. But you sound great, and so do both your bass and your band. Keep it kicking, and you may give old DURRL a heart attack someday. :hyper:
  5. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Thanks a bunch for your input, Chris...glad you enjoyed the stuff. Bluegrass is truly a music where you must appreciate the the thing as a whole, and all the interplay involved. The whole ensemble is very much like a machine, which is what I enjoy most about it myself.

    We used the same mic setup on all three of our studio cds...an AKG C4000 about a foot away from the bass side F-hole, and a Shure SM-81 pointed at the bottom of the fingerboard.

    I agree with you that my notes don't have a clean cut-off like they should. I posted some questions a while back when I heard this and couldn't seem to fix it. My bass is so resonant that it seems that even though I mute pretty heavily, I still get a slight aftertone with both a mic and a pickup. The only way I've been able to stop this is to mute way up the neck, which is tough at that speed and from the first position. I am definitely finding out why bluegrass players like that dead-thud tone. Maybe owning a nice bass like this, strung with steels isn't the way to go....maybe some guts on the horizon...I dunno.

    Thanks a lot for listening!
  6. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    It all sounds great!

    The sustain doesn't bother me so much, although I hear what Chris is talking about. I think maybe the sustain isn't what's bothering Chris's ear, but maybe the sustain-to-attack relationship. Hearing it all live I would think that there is more string noise and thud at the beginning of the note happening than is being reflected in the recording and this would probably make up the difference. Try moving the F hole mic directly in front of the tailpiece and about a foot or so away, aimed right up at the bridge. The recording sounded a little f-holey to me -- a sound that you hear a lot in NYC with all of the 'ampless wonders' as a friend of mine calls them :)