Three Minute Mini Rush Doc about the Austin Concert
I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the premiere show of the newly minted Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, RUSH. Austin Texas was the place and April 23, 2013 was the date. Imagine being able to witness your favorite band live in concert for the second time in five months on the same tour. I still find it amazing that the band I first fell in love with in 1978 at the budding age of 13 is still a full on touring Rock and Roll band thirty-five years later. Twenty some odd albums and nearly forty some odd years later the band and I are still travelling through life on this planet in distant circles of synchronicity.
There are at least three things that get better with age: Lerxst, Dirk and Pratt are among the top contenders for that crown. I marvel at the variety of song styles, breadth of music catalog and the high level of skill displayed by the band of Canadian brothers. There is no other band that can equal the volume of complex music and then perform that vast array of sonic bliss with such ease and fluidity. I continually hear and read arguments about the set list. This is the only band in the world that could easily compile five separate and distinct three-hour concerts without duplicating a song and still have quality material that would be left out. There is no way for the band to make every fan’s expectations of the perfect set list dream come true. I applaud them for playing the songs that they want to play. I think it makes for a more enjoyable experience to watch the band enjoying the songs they play.
Fans of Rush are blessed to be able to witness the live magic on such a regular basis. The touring schedule must soon wane. Therefore I urge you to buy a ticket and attend a show for yourself. Whether you are a rabid devotee or a casual listener. You will forever be changed by the experience. It simply can not last forever. Mortality, reality and eventuality will soon take its toll and toss a monkey wrench into the machinery of this well oiled prog rock train. Though they have shown no signs of rolling back on the coal shoveling, the steam will soon lose it’s compressible power to propel the wheels forward. I for one want to ride that train for as long as possible.
Enjoy a few pictures from the show in Austin, Texas 04/23/2013
This coming form the guy who wrote this article….. “Why Rush Should Not Be Inducted Into The Hall of Fame”
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE BOYS FOR
AN HONOR WELL DESERVED AND LONG OVERDUE.
Although I still stand by my views in the article I think this tweet sums up my thoughts on the current state of the Rushian fandom situation…
I watched some of the videos of the induction ceremonies online. The speeches were classic Dirk, Lerxst and Pratt.
La Villa Strangiato
“An Exercise in Self-Indulgence”
This is my Grand Opus. This is the song I would have, should have, wished had written if I were the virtuoso guitarist who happened to be a member of the burgeoning powerhouse prog rock trio of 1978.
This song has more creative and unique guitar parts than most top-tier bands will devise in their entire careers. Flamenco style intro, soft atmospheric arpeggios, smooth bluesy clean solos, monster power chord riffs, odd meter single note melodies and squealing distorted solos filled with shred licks. All this laced together with a composition that oozes moody and mysterious flavors. I won’t even bother going into the otherworldly bass and drum performances. They stand on their own as masterworks of master musicians operating at their peak of perfection. Needless to say at this point but I believe this song to be the perfect hard rock/prog rock instrumental song of all time. Hands down.
I have now been playing guitar for 13 years with pretty regular consistency. One of my ultimate goals was to be able to play this song. I have practiced many of these riffs independently as training and fun exercises. Now I find its time to gather all the parts together and attempt to churn out a decent cover song. I sincerely hope not to embarrass myself to grandly. I know that my skill level is a fraction of what is needed to perform this song with a decent level of justice. However saying that I grew as a musician while rehearsing, refining and recording these guitar parts. So with an unnerving lack of humility I begin the endeavour….
My first task is to scour the inter-tubes in search of a practical backing track. This leads me to a website that appears to have a large catalog of backing track CDs for sale and indeed they do have a Rush disc with a “La Villa” backing track. Only being able to hear a short snippet of a YYZ backer (which sounded okay) I order the product. I figure $12 was a fair gamble because the backing versions I have found free online were really bad midi attempts.
I receive the disc in the mail a full three weeks later. (unbelievably bad postal etiquette for the 2013 era) and to my extreme shock the tracks are midi disasters for the most part. The website language led one to believe that the tracks were “professionally recorded” and “not cheezy midi”. I wrote the company a scathing (and unresponded to) email pointing fingers at their distressing sales puffery and artful truth dodgery. With no better option I am stuck with this backer. So I whole-heartedly apologize for the unprofessional recorded and cheezy midi backing track.
I begin the recording process. During my traditional process of multiple mixdowns to gauge and critique each part I grow more and more distressed with the backing track. There are timing issues and quality issues. The backer is a full 3 seconds shorter than the song. What’s up with that? Some of the parts are not synced with the original. I can adjust for slight timing irregularities but I can not adjust for the unbelievably horrendous drum and bass breaks.
This song has a number of breaks with only drum and bass and they are very important to the feel of the song plus are just sheer Rush genius. I almost scrap the entire project because of these woeful midi parts. The midi sounds like the Tinman from “The Wizard of OZ” having an epileptic seizure. Then I get a bold idea. I decide to try to carefully patch in the drum and bass breaks from the original song. It works in my head but sometimes these plans fall short when put into live situations. In this case I think it works pretty well. Light years better than the digital train wrecks I was previously hung with.
There are 6 of these “Original Patches” in the song they lend an air of authenticity to the file in my opinion. My hope is that you don’t even notice them. I am glad I could find a way to make them work because I was about to give up on the whole project. The last original patch is the ending and with that I decided to leave in the outro chord stab played by Alex and mixed in my own chord. This is my small homage to the genius of Alex Lifeson. With this dual singularity chord stab I feel at one with my guitar hero at least for one brief quarter beat.
My approach to playing this song started with a desire to remain as faithful as possible (or as possible as the backing track would allow) to the original. The rhythmic themes are so iconic that frivolous alterations would only detract from the entire experience. The solos are a different animal. I watched many videos of Alex playing these two solos. First the shreddy fast solo (A Lyrxt in Wonderland) and then the quirky solo (Danforth and Pape). Alex plays the solos differently every time. I never heard one version that was even close to the original recording. I decided to do my own thing with the solos. I simply can not recreate the Lifeson style of soloing so why try. I followed the basic framework of the solos but played my own charted solos. Believe me when I say this would have been even a larger disaster if I had tried to note for note the solos. Even the tab version I found on the net did not agree with each other as to the solos. So the solos are my own creations with bits and pieces of the originals mixed in.
Once again I have come to a whole new level of respect for the musical writing and performing abilities of Rush. This song is a masterpiece of uniqueness, variety, skill level, mood and timing. How they play this song live all the way through I’ll never understand. The guitar riffs alone are clever, unique and complicated yet bold and memorable. The drum and bass work is second to none. The composition goes in so many directions but always circles back around to retrace familiar territory but with new twists and turns.
I spent the best parts of January and February of 2013 recording and mixing this song. I had professional help and critique along the way. My Canadian friend Guy Dagenais, bassist extraordinaire was a great help with critiques and suggestions. I value his fine commentary on the song at various stations in the project.
Please enjoy this song as the performer intends. It is a tribute to the genius of the original. It is an exercise in expanding one’s craft and a source of pride and accomplishment. Now I ask you to lend me nine minutes and thirty odd seconds of your valuable music listening life……
La Villa Strangiato: An Exercise in Self-Indulgence
Music by Lee, Lifeson & Peart. 1978
I: “Buenas Noches, Mein Froinds!” (0:00–0:26; 0:26)
II: “To sleep, perchance to dream…” (0:27–1:59; 1:32)
III: “Strangiato theme” (2:00–3:15; 1:15)
IV: “A Lerxst in Wonderland” (3:16–5:48; 2:32)
V: “Monsters!” (5:49–6:09; 0:20)
VI: “The Ghost of the Aragon” (6:10–6:44; 0:34)
VII: “Danforth and Pape” (6:45–7:25; 0:40)
VIII: “The Waltz of the Shreves” (7:26–7:51; 0:25)
IX: “Never turn your back on a Monster!” (7:52–8:02; 0:10)
X: “Monsters! (Reprise)” (8:03–8:16; 0:13)
XI: “Strangiato theme (Reprise)” (8:17–9:20; 1:03)
XII: “A Farewell to Things” (9:20–9:37; 0:17)
My latest project is nearing completion. I have been working on this one for over a month now. Clocking in at a little over 9 minutes and thirty seconds and using 39 tracks. Below is a screenshot of the Navigator view of the overall project from start to finish. It is a cover and an ambitious cover to say the least. There are some parts I seriously thought I would never get even close to the original. It will not be perfect but I will finish! Stay tuned for the final product soon to be unleashed.
Latest song from The Lofty Oaks studios “Neon Sprites”
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 26,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals