How to Get a Singer for a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band

Singer in a Rock 'n' Roll Band
They picked up all their gear, Riley grabbed Mr. Snugglewhumps and they ran to Fairfax and Wilshire to get back on the 720.
This time the 720 offered a new surprise- a welcomed uneventful ride. The three of them sat in silence for a while, deep in their own individual worlds. It seemed that they all needed this down time. Sometime after the Westwood stop, Akemi broke the silence and said, “Riley, do you sing?”
“A little, I mean, I can sing back up and in tune. How about you?” Riley said.
“Oh, I can sing harmony and I can write some half-way decent vocal parts. Vincent, how about you—can you sing?” said Akemi.
“Back up, yeah,” said Vincent.
“Well I hate to be Debbie Downer and point out the obvious but don’t metal bands usually have a lead singer?” said Akemi.
“Of course Akemi, and that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking about while we’ve been sitting here. I’m thinking,” said Riley.
“Aha! Vincent once again rescues not one but two damsels in distress,” said Vincent.
“Oh, please!” said Riley.
“No, really—I know just the guy. He plays on the Third Street Promenade and he does metal covers in his own style—just his voice and a sunburst solid body electric. Anyway, he sings cool and here’s another plus –he is really good at coming up with original lyrics. Like, he can just come up with them on the spot,” said Vincent.

Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, California

Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, California

‘Wait . . . wait a minute –you know what? I know him. His name is Langston Labelle. I used to talk to him when I was playing for tips on the Third Street Promenade myself,” said Riley.
“Yeah, yeah, no, you’re right– 2nd and Arizona actually — that’s the guy,” said Vincent.
“Now that I think of it, I know him too. He’s that braniac kid with the 4.0. He’s never gotten a grade less than an A+ –ever! I heard that his mom is some bigwig, visiting science professor scholar from Nigeria,” said Akemi.
“That’s true,” said Vincent. “And his dad met his mom there in Lagos while he was a visiting Fulbright Scholar at the University of Lagos,”continued Vincent.
“Where is he originally from? . . . I’m just curious.” said Riley.
“New Orleans,” Said Vincent.
“That’s interesting. At any rate, it sounds like the acorn didn’t fall too far from the tree.” said Riley.
“For sure,” said Vincent.
“Anyway, for a guy with a beautiful sounding, four-octave range voice, he’s really quite shy. I told him that he should be singing for crowds in arenas, not singing on the Promenade for spare change. But according to him, if there are more than four or five people watching him, his voice just freezes up. I think he just needs some courage,” said Riley.
“That’s Langston alright and you know, as you were talking I was thinking—he’s a perfect fit—I mean each one of us is looking for something. That certain missing thing that we can get by joining this band– you know?” said Vincent.
“I agree totally and here’s the thing; He sings great– great attitude and . . . he’s easy on the eyes,” said Riley.
“Easy on the eyes? Oooh.” said Vincent.
‘Well I just meant that he’d be good for the band,” said Riley.
“Oh sure . . . sure . . . sure,”said Vincent.
“Touché,” said Riley.
“I don’t mean to interrupt or be the sour note in our celebration of the new acquisition to our band–lead singer, Langston, but how do we even know that he wants to join our merry metal pranksters? Maybe he’ll just say no. And just a couple of other questions, how and where do we find him?” said Akemi
“We’ll know the answers to all your questions and concerns soon enough—here’s our stop,” said Vincent.
“What?” said Akemi.
“We’re just a block away from the Third Street Promenade–Langston’s probably playing there as we speak. Let’s go,” said Vincent.

They got off the bus and walked down 4th street to Broadway and then walked west to the Third Street Promenade . As they made their way towards Arizona Avenue, they wove through the crowd of shoppers and tourists on the Promenade– passing by the Moscow metal red heads and the top hatted, tuxedoed Silverman. Looking down to 2nd Street, they saw a trumpet player and a folk guitarist—but no Langston. They went up and down the Promenade from Broadway to Wilshire a couple of times– still no Langston. Mr. Snugglewhumps said hello to the cat lady and her captive cats. The cat lady shrugged, the cats meowed. No Langston.
“Well maybe he’s on the pier,” said Akemi.
“No, no I know where he is. Let’s just catch the number 9 blue bus to Temescal Canyon,” said Vincent.
“What? Wait. How do you . . . ?” said Riley.
“Just . . . just trust me on this one, Riley,” said Vincent.
“Well . . . OK,” said Riley and off they went to catch the number 9.
The ride was winding but short and they got off at Temescal and Sunset Boulevards. They quickly walked through the park and they were soon at the trail head. At the trail head there was a sign which Vincent read aloud. “The Santa Monica Mountains are the natural habitat for mountain lions –exercise extreme caution when hiking the trails.” Then without hesitating in his reading, Vincent improvised, “Be afraid . . . be very afraid . . . ”

Mountain Lion in Santa Monica Mountains

Mountain Lion in Santa Monica Mountains

“That is not even funny, Vincent. And really, the lions are more afraid of us than we are of them,” said Riley.
Just then they heard a roar echoing out of the canyon and everyone jumped. Vincent then said, “Not to worry, I know who that is.”
“Who it is?” said Akemi.
Yeah, don’t you mean what it is?” said Riley.
“No. Because I know it’s Langston,” said Vincent.
“Langston!” Akemi and Riley said.
“Yeah, Langston loves the acoustics –the natural reverb of the canyon and he can be brave out here,” Vincent said.
And as they listened, they now could indeed tell that it was more like the sound of a very strong voiced, metal lead singer and not a lion.
“OK OK, now I get it. Vincent needs a brain, I need a heart and Langston needs courage,” said Akemi.
“The brain, heart and courage thing is another story, let’s just stay in our story,” said Riley.
“Well, let’s just hike a little ways. There’s a favorite spot where Langston sings. I know exactly where it is and it’s not too far,” said Vincent.

Share Button

How to Get a Bass Player for a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band

When they arrived at the bakery, they were immediately greeted –actually it was more like an interrogation—by the maître d’. “How many?” he said.
“You said what now?” Riley asked.
“Two,” Said Vincent.
The maître d’ then took the party of two plus Mr. Snugglewhumps to the back patio and directed them to the tiniest table that was ever created. “Here,” he said, as he practically shoved the menus in their faces.
“Actually we’d like a larger table, please—inside,” said Riley. She thought that that was a reasonable request especially since she and Vincent had their backpacks and she with her guitar.
“Large tables reserved for five or more—no cats,” the maître d’ said.
Riley was starting to get just a little peeved and said, “But sir, there is nobody else in here – there are plenty of large tables available and Mr. Snugglewhumps won’t bother anybody.”
“Sit anywhere you like,” said the maître d’ and then he walked away.
Riley rolled her eyes, Vincent lifted his eyebrows, they picked up their gear and relocated to a nice big round table in the front of the bakery looking out onto Wilshire. Moments later an attractive, petite lady, about the same age as the maître d’, approached their table. She was impossibly polite, courteous, genuine and very soft spoken. “Welcome to Lee’s bakery,” she said. “How may I help you?” Before they could answer however, the lady noticed Mr.Snugglewhumps and she said, “What a beautiful orange tabby cat—may I hold him please?”

Mrs. Lee holding Mr. Snugglewhumps

Mrs. Lee holding Mr. Snugglewhumps

“Sure” said Riley. Mr.Snugglewhumps was sitting on Riley’s lap and he just squirmed ever so slightly. Riley half rose away from the table and handed Mr. Snugglewhumps over to the kind lady. Mr. Snugglewhumps pretty much melted in the lady’s arms as she gently rubbed her cheek against him and he purred like, well– a —kitten. Then, as cat lovers are prone to do, the lady asked what his name is–how old is he– where did she find him and so on. Of course, Mr. Snugglewhumps was enjoying every minute.
Both the Lady and Riley realized this could go on interminably so the lady handed Mr. Snugglewhumps back to Riley and got back on message. “Oh, may I take your order please?” she said.
“Well thank you. We are hungry and we’re going to order but we really are looking for Akemi,” said Riley.

Akemi Lee--Bass Player

Akemi Lee–Bass Player

“Oh wonderful! She has been expecting you. Follow me. She’s in the back on break — she spends every spare minute practicing her bass guitar. Here, let me help you with your things. Don’t worry about Mr. Snugglewhumps–I’ll give him some nice treats,” she said.

“I like this lady!” thought Mr.Snuggelwhumps.

Akemi’s studio was a veritable shrine to the bass guitar– every iconic bass guitarist was represented. The walls were plastered with posters representing jazz, funk, reggae, metal, rock –every genre. No space was left open. You couldn’t even tell what color the walls were painted!

Akemi’s face was the portrait of concentration.
She was playing the Prelude from the

Bass Guitar Wallpaper

Bass Guitar Wallpaper

Cello Suite No.1 in G major by J.S. Bach. She was doing her own two handed tapping transcription on the bass guitar! It sounded like an electric cello but deeper, for she had arranged it in D major to accommodate the bass’s range. In fact she had dropped the fourth string down to D to further enhance the arrangement—particularly the pedal point sections. It was beautiful. Riley and Vincent were mesmerized.
When she finished playing there was a brief moment of silence and then both Riley and Vincent clapped like a crowd at an arena. Akemi put her bass on its stand, took an exaggerated bow, stood up, threw her arms out and said, “Thank you lady and gentleman. Thank you!”
“Hey, I know you—Riley, right? –you’re in music theory-7th period Fridays” said Akemi. Then she looked over towards Vincent and said “Hey.”
“So, Riley—giant guitar robots, battle of the bands –Save the World! Usual stuff, right?” said Akemi.
“Somethin’ like that,” said Riley.
“Anyway, I’m definitely in. Sounds like fun,” said Akemi.
“We’ll see,” said Riley.
“Oooh, ‘We’ll see’ said she so ominously,” said Akemi.
Meanwhile, as this conversation was taking place, another was occurring in the front of the bakery. Loud, angry voices could be heard. The stern maître d’ and the gracious hostess were really going at it. By this time, Riley had figured them to be Akemi’s parents—Riley didn’t need anyone to draw her a picture.
Near as she could tell, the father would yell something in Chinese and then the mother would reply first in Chinese and then trail off in Japanese. Then the father would speak haltingly in Japanese– then Chinese again.
“Welcome to my world,” Akemi said. “Apple slices, croissants, cinnamon rolls served with original soundtrack by Mr. and Mrs. Lee and just so you know; the argument is about me.
“My dad just believes in discipline—and that means practice. Practicing what he thinks I should know. He even sent me back to China for two years –rehabilitation. He caught me listening and playing that evil metal music.
“Then there is my mom—we must never ever say directly what we are really feeling. There is only politeness, courtesy– avoid showing emotion. And now my mom wants to send me to her side of the family—Japan. Seems they’ve lived on this mountain that is 200 hundred miles from Tokyo, for 10,000 years give or take. And here’s the thing, before you guys came along, that was starting to sound pretty good.
“Dealing with the expectations of my parents is draining me. It’s like I am devoid of any emotion. And to be honest, I could care less, except that it’s affecting my bass playing. There‘s just no feeling in it—I can play all the right notes at the right time but I want to play with some heart.
“So Riley, anything you throw my way—bring it on—I am so way beyond ready. But let me ask you straight up; Riley, if I go on this trip and play in the Battle of the Bands, will I develop feeling in my playing?” said Akemi.
Just then, it got real quiet in the front of the bakery and Mrs. Lee came back with the biggest bag of delectable goodies ever imaginable and said, “I sent your father on an errand but he will return soon enough. Go, go quickly. ”

Share Button

Drums and Guitar (Part 2)


drums and guitar As the bus approached them, Vincent said, “You know the drill Riley—Keep your head down, don’t make eye contact, don’t talk to anybody and let’s keep our own voices low as well. I always feel lucky if I arrive at my destination without somebody’s drool all over me. There are all kinds of crazy people on the 720. Be safe.”

Metro Rapid–720 Bus

Before they could even swipe their bus passes, they were greeted by a young man who was wearing a boat captain’s cap. “Welcome aboard—enjoy the cruise,” he said. He was smiling broadly and he was clearly enjoying his job as self-appointed greeter. Next they were almost tripped by the lady who was obsessively kicking her legs out into the aisle. People were sleeping, yelling, coughing and yes, puking. When Riley and Vincent finally sat down , Vincent found himself next to a tall man with the complexion of an eggplant that had been in the salad crisper way too long and his processed hair evidenced a doo-wop fifties singer whose shelf life had expired some time ago. He was wearing white high-topped shoes that were elflike in shape with ornate gold trim. After a moment or two, the man tapped Vincent’s knee, held up a drumstick and said “you dropped yo’ drumstick.” Vincent couldn’t avoid breaking his ‘don’t talk’ rule and thanked the man—better to talk and not show disrespect, Vincent thought. Just then Vincent noticed that the lady sitting next to Riley was getting up to leave and he quickly moved there. Vincent discretely (he thought) stole a glance at the elf shoe man and the man was staring back at Vincent with so much hate that Vincent shuddered. Riley turned to Vincent and said in a whispered voice, “If a movie producer ever wanted to make a film about a moving, intergalactic insane asylum… Well, all he’d have to do is turn on the camera and point.” They were both were never so happy to hear the words, “Next stop; Fairfax and Wilshire.”

Share Button

Drums and Guitar

drums and guitar
Riley could no longer control herself and let out a big joyful laugh. “That was fun—you are a crazy man, Vincent and I love you!!”
“I know, I know!! I was wondering who would break character first but still we both stayed in character for like I dunno –ten minutes?” said Vincent.
“Oh yeah—a little improvisation, a little plagiarism –It’s all good,” said Riley.
“Yeah, remember back in the day at St Camilla’s grade school?” said Vincent.
“And Sister Mary Modesta!” said Riley.
“The Benedictine nun that was full of fun,” said Vincent.”
A nun just wants to have fun,” Riley said.
“She’s a hard habit to break,” said Vincent.
“Rimshot, please,” said Riley.
“Remember she’d always save Friday afternoons for skits and that time you and I did a takeoff on The Wizard of Oz?” said Vincent.

“Well yeah, that’s exactly why I fell back into it!” said Riley.
“And we were dancing –you were my Ginger to my Fred. Hey, we’re good –Let’s take it on the road,” Vincent said.
“Actually. . .  ‘Take it on the road’ is a good choice of words,” Riley said. “What I mean is . . . some of the stuff I was saying is pretty much true; Battle of the Bands, Tarborgs, save the world and so on. And it’s why I’m here to see you—I mean It’s always great to see you and it’s been too long- but I am really serious about this mission. I really, really need you, Vincent.”“Hey, hey easy, easy. You know I’ll always have your back. Besides the things I was saying in our little skit were pretty close to true as well. I mean this tribute band is getting to me– especially the lead singer. He is totally anal. Everything has to be exactly like the recording—the rimshots have to hit the snare just right. Sometimes I think he’s going to take a tape and measure the notches on my drum stick to make sure I’m hitting the snare in the correct spot so the rimshots are to his liking. That’s why I just have to vent on my drumset sometimes, like I was saying before when we were playacting. But it’s just mindless– and of course in BUNS’N HOSES I don’t get to think –I don’t have to. I’m not allowed to –the lead singer does that for me! It’s like I don’t have a brain anymore. So I am ready. I’m in,” said Vincent.

Riley then told Vincent everything that both the Goddess of Guitar and the Travel Goddess had told her. Vincent now held all the information that Riley had.
“I’m your drummer,” said Vincent.
“Thank you Vincent. This band I’m starting is so important to me, thank you again,” Riley said.
“Hey, of course, no problem—you and I have wanted to start a band since the fourth grade –so it’s time,” said Vincent.
“Perfect. Now let me ask you. Do you happen to know that girl who’s always carrying an axe bass? I think her name might be Akemi—she’s in my 7th period music theory,” said Riley.
“You need a bass player?” asked Vincent.
“Yeah and soon . . . well, do you know her?” asked Riley.
“Yeah, I know her—Akemi Lee– she’s hot,” said Vincent.
“‘Hot’, as in you really like the way she looks or ‘hot’, as in she really plays well?”
“Yes,” said Vincent.
“Ooo . . . K,” Riley said.
“Seriously, Riley– Akemi would be perfect for your band. In fact, I jam with her all the time. When we play together, it’s like my kick and her bass are one instrument. We are a lock. She’s nice, too. OK?” said Vincent.
“OK,OK! . . . and you haven’t called her on your cell yet because . . . ?” said Riley.
“Because I’m talking to you but now I’m talking to Akemi.” Vincent said as he did the traditional extended forearm, raised index finger gesture combined with tilted head virtually attached to cellphone– and he was already talking to Akemi, “Akemi? Vincent . . . Yeah . . . Magical Time Travel Tour . . . Battle at the Twisty Road etc.etc. . . . Yeah, yeah yeah . . . Cool! See you soon!”and Vincent closed his cell.
“Done,” said Vincent.
“Cool,” said Riley.
“She’s at her parents’ bakery near Wilshire and Fairfax. That’s really not too far and we can take the 720 bus,” said Vincent.
Perfecto,” said Riley.
“Anyway you can’t miss it . . . it looks like two doublewide trailers connected by the Jolly Green Giant’s accordion,” said Vincent.
Riley laughed and said, “Yeah those things are weird.”
“Well, one good thing– It stops right here– I mean, like up the hill by the hotel,” said Vincent. They walked quickly up the hill and they were just in time, for they could see the 720 about a block away.

Share Button

How to Get a Drummer for a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band

Echo Park Lake–Los Angeles

When they arrived at Vincent’s house, they were greeted by Mrs. Parra, Vincent’s Grandmother. “Riley, Riley! Look at you—Blonde hair, blue eyes, oolala legs and high heeled pumps! You are getting to look like a grown up. You are dangerously gorgeous, girl and you‘ve probably broken some hearts already. And what is up with that big black guitar? It looks like you are ready to do battle,” She said.
“Well, actually . . . ” Riley said
Then Mrs. Parra rubbed her hand against Mr. Snugglewhumps’ face. “Hello kitty cat.”
“Mrs. Parra, I was wondering if Vincent . . . ”said Riley.
“You are wondering if Vincent will join the band you‘re starting . . . am I right?” said Mrs. Parra.
“Well yeah, but how . . . ”said Riley.
“I will answer for him. Yes, he will join your band. He is really frustrated with this cover band he is in now. They treat him like he has no brain and they make him feel so bad that now he is starting to believe them,” said Mrs. Parra. “Oh, it will be great for you two to be together again—you used to playact together so well as children. But tell me more about this band you are starting.”
“We’re going to play in a Battle of the Bands at the Twisty Road Café and . . . ”
“The Twisty Road Café? — Mr. Parra and I take our ’53 Chevy there on Classic car nights. The Twisty is our favorite spot in the Valley,” said Mrs. Parra.
“The Valley?” said Riley.
“Yes, sometimes we even see your dad with his ’53 Ford woody,” said Mrs. Parra.
“My Dad? I haven’t seen . . . ” said Riley.
“Oh, how rude of me– here I am talking about this, that and the other thing and you want to see Vincent,” said Mrs. Parra.
“No, I . . . ” said Riley.

MacArthur Park--Looking towards Downtown Los Angeles

MacArthur Park–Looking towards Downtown Los Angeles

“Well it just so happens, that he is at MacArthur Park today and he’s playing in a concert with that cover band — they might still be playing,” said Mrs. Parra.
“Great! I just can’t wait to see him!” said Riley.
“Look, I can always use something from the market in Westlake and it’s right next to the park—let me give you and your kitty a ride,” said Mrs. Parra.
“Are you sure?” asked Riley.
“Yes, I’m sure. It’ll be a good excuse to take out the ‘53 Chevy –Come on, let’s go!” said Mrs. Parra.
“Ok!” said Riley.

As they approached the Westlake area they could see that it was more congested that usual. The weekend flea market vendors, the everyday taco trucks and the various retailers with their signs and sidewalk sales competed for a very limited amount of space. While tables containing every imaginable type of items were starting to spill out onto Alvarado Boulevard, the sidewalks were so blocked up that now pedestrians (and there were many) were forced to walk onto the street. As if all that wasn’t enough, now the crowd from the concert was just starting to leave MacArthur Park and was moving towards Alvarado as well.
“Oh Mrs. Parra, please– you’ve already helped me out too much. Just let me off anywhere. I really appreciate it,” said Riley.
“No, I know. I’ll just drive to that old hotel that overlooks the park. It’ll be close enough for you and they have a driveway that I can turn in and out of and anyway I have a friend there I can visit. Ok?” said Mrs. Parra.
“That is fantastic! Thank you so much!” said Riley.

When Riley got out of the car she thanked Mrs. Parra again and Riley realized that Mrs. Parra couldn’t have picked a better spot, for it was right on Wilshire and a sign indicated that the 720 stopped right there. She could also see the entire park from this vantage point.

She immediately started walking towards the closest entry and since the entry led to a little hill leading down towards the lake, it was an easy walk. She was going against the tide however, for everyone was coming towards her up the hill while she was going the opposite direction. The t-shirts and hats being worn and various other swag being toted told her what band had just played– the tribute band, Bun’s ‘N Hoses.

Bun’s ‘n Hoses. It was a funny sounding name that made no sense at all and their logo just upped the nonsensical quotient- a hamburger bun with a garden hose running through it. Well, tribute bands often have a satirical element, even if unintended, and the name did have familiar ring to it. So audiences pretty much knew what to expect and the band did a more than fair impression of the famous band that they were imitating.

When Riley got right up to the stage, she realized that the temporary security fences had not yet been removed. She started to lean against one of them and saw a drummer on a riser with a massive set of shiny black drums. There was a double set of bass drums thumping like an 808 and cymbals of every style and shape crashing and shimmering. Snares, tom-toms, timbales—you name it –this drummer had it all! He was playing wildly –as if possessed and yet everything was in perfect time. Why he had more Paradiddles and Ratamacues that you could shake a stick at.

Riley then walked around the fence and climbed up the stairs to the stage so as to get a better look at the drummer. His head was shaved cleanly except it had purplish cornrows sticking straight up like spikes or antennae—about a dozen of them. He was wearing a shiny forest green workout suit—short sleeved and bicycle style shorts. His muscles were bulging everywhere. This outfit was completed with untied grayish black running shoes.

Vincent Tarrega--Drummer

Vincent Tarrega–Drummer

“Well it’s been a while, but that’s Vincent alright,” Riley said to Mr. Snugglewhumps.
While Riley was looking intently at Vincent’s spiked hair, she was wondering if he recognized her and then she noticed him smiling at her. After a moment or two she walked over to the side of the drum riser as close as she could and she gave Vincent a big smile. Mr. Snugglewhumps, however, stood his ground and hissed.
“Hello,” Vincent said.
“Did you say something?” asked Riley,
“Soitenly” said Vincent. “How ya doin’?”
“Fine, thanks,” replied Riley. “How are you doin’?”
“I’m not feeling so good,” said Vincent. I’m tired of playing drums up here all night.”
“Well why don’t you just stop drumming for a moment, get off your drum seat and come on down from your riser so we can talk some more. You know—in more of a relaxing way,” said Riley.
And that is exactly what Vincent did and now Riley and Vincent were face to face. “What’s up?” asked Vincent.
“I’m going to the Twisty Road Café to beat the Tarborgs in a Battle of the Bands,” said Riley
“That’s cool,” said Vincent. “But, who or what are the Tarborgs?”
“Why, don’t you know?” Riley asked.
“Nope, I’m an idiot, a complete moron—don’t know nuthin’ –all I do is play drums,” Vincent said.

“Oh, come on you most certainly are not a moron, you’re brilliant you are the Lord of Rhythm. In fact, anybody who can play drums like you do is a genius,” Riley said.
“Hey, you know, I‘ll admit I can do some stuff on the drums and I like some of the sounds I’m making but a lot of the times it just seems like I’m mindlessly hitting things– like I don’t even have a brain,” said Vincent.
“Hey, wait a second, I just thought of something!” Riley said “All you really need is focus.”
“Focus?” said Vincent.
“Yeah, focus” Riley replied. ‘Yeah, you need structure to focus all that crazy, wild energy you’ve got. You would be perfect for the metal band that I’m starting and playing in a band would give your drumming some real direction—I’ll bet you you’d become a thinking man’s drummer!”
“Do you think,” Vincent asked, “If I go to the Twisty Road Café with you, I’ll start to play like I’ve got a brain?”
“I really don’t know for sure,” Riley said; “but just come with me in the metal band I’m forming—the worst that can happen is that you’ll play in an apocalyptic Battle of the Bands—win, lose or draw, you know?”
“That’s . . . for . . . true,” said Vincent. “You see, I don’t mind putting myself down—I feel like nobody can hurt me if I tear myself down first before anyone else can. But honestly, I really don’t want anyone saying I suck –or that I overplay or whatever. OK?”
“I understand how you feel,” said Riley “If you join my band and will come with me to the Twisty Road Café I promise that I’ll do everything I can to give your drumming a purpose—I just know that you are going to play smart!”
“Thank you,” Vincent said. He then pulled an IPod from his pocket, pointed it at his drumset and digitized it in one easy motion.
“That was . . . interesting,” Riley said.
Mr. Snugglewhumps wasn’t sure if he liked Vincent or not so he just hissed silently.
“Don’t mind Mr. Snugglewhumps,” said Riley. “He never bites or scratches.”
“Oh, I’m not afraid of cats –I like cats.” said Vincent. “There is only one thing in the world I am afraid of.”
“What is that?” asked Riley. “People saying that you’re overplaying?”
“Nope,” said Vincent. “It’s a drum machine.”

Share Button

Goddess of Guitar

“Look little missy, I gotta go. The guitar is not the only thing in the universe that needs saving and it’s my job to give directions to everybody –I mean everybody. Soo . . . byee,” said the Travel Goddess.
“Hey wait a minute! You really have got a bad attitude –Goddess or not—just let me talk to your boss,” said Riley.
“If you mean the Goddess of Guitar, she’s not my boss–she’s my peer. But I don’t have time for this silly . . . ” and with that she flapped her maps three times and again the Goddess of Guitar was standing right before Riley.
“Eww, that didn’t go so well, did it?” said the Goddess of Guitar.
“No,” said Riley.
“Well The Travel goddess can be a little testy—she’s overworked, underpaid –just like everybody else these days. But Riley, you still need to show respect—she did, after all, give you directions –and they are good directions, so be thankful. And as far as what she said about the guitar not being the only thing in the universe. Well, you and I know different –it is our universe and our mission –your mission is of the utmost importance for millions of people.”
“Won’t you go with me?” pleaded Riley, who had begun to look upon the Goddess as a close friend.
“No can do–can’t do that,” she replied, “But keep your Explorer guitar with you at all times and you will be fine.”
The Goddess then clicked her Explorer toggle switch three times and disappeared.
“What would Mr. Otto Snugglewhumps think of all this?” Riley thought. “Surely he would have to accompany me on this journey to the Twisty Road Café. Well, he’s been sleeping with me all night but I guess I’ll just have to wake him up.
“Wake up Mr. Snugglewhumps! We’ve got to save the world!” Riley said.
“Meow,” Mr. Snugglewhumps said, as he stretched and unsheathed his formidable claws.
“With your orange tuxedo fur and your sexy striped, white tip tail, you’re the perfect escort for any occasion –and this is quite an occasion. Anyway, you are the best looking orange tabby cat in the universe,” Riley said.
Mr. Snugglewhumps was indeed a very nice looking American domestic, short hair, orange tabby cat. Mr. Snugglewhumps, however, thought of himself as Persian. He loves Riley as much as she loves him so just to be diplomatic, he simply answered, “Meow.”
“I thought you would agree,” Riley said.
Riley Started to think again about everything that the Goddess had said. She trusted the Goddess implicitly but the info she had was a little cryptic. Riley looked at Mr. Snugglewhumps and said, “We need more intel Mr.Snugglewhumps,” and with that she entered the words “Twisty Road Café” into her iPod. Her screen showed this:
The Twisty Road Café and Theatre
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Twisty Road Café is a restaurant and theatre located near Topanga State Park in the Twisty Road Highlands area. It opened in 1946 and, with its cobble stone exterior and large neon sign, evokes a film- noir roadhouse.

Film-noir Roadhouse

The restaurant is locally famous for its hamburgers, fries and apple pies served with vanilla ice cream. The central food preparation area is surrounded by a counter and red topped stools and there are red upholstered booths across the center aisle from the counter. The Twisty Road Café is open until 2 a.m. seven days a week. The Zagat Survey features the Twisty Road Café in various Top Lists including Burgers Tops and Best Buys.

A larger wood structure was added sometime in the ‘50s and houses the theatre. It is notable for having featured events as well as a wide variety of nightly entertainment, particularly specializing in guitar music. Each night spotlights a different genre of guitar playing—Country, Folk, Jazz, Metal, Punk, Classic, and Blues. Some of the more well-known events are the classic and exotic auto shows and the monthly Battle of the Bands is a crowd favorite attracting crowds from all over Southern California.
Riley closed out that screen and then entered “Seven Legends of Guitar” The screen showed:

Seven Legends of Guitar
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Seven Legends of Guitar refer to the seven guitarists of the Playing Her Guitar Suite story. They are separate entities possessing individual powers that when joined together become almost like deities. They have different forms and different names throughout the millennia but they are a constant force for the side of goodness and purity. Today they are Country, Folk, Jazz, Metal, Punk, Classic, and Blues. They all reside in an area just outside of the Twisty Road Highlands. This area is an eclectic mix of architectural styles reflecting the specialty styles of its inhabitants. Music industry suits and celebrities alike often refer to this area as Twisty Road adjacent. The Legends themselves refer to the area by its original name, the Magical Land of Guitar. The path running through the Magical Land of Guitar encircles the Twisty Road Café, starting with the Country section and winding up in the Blues section. Each legend resides in a particular section or neighborhood of the Magical Land of Guitar. The seven districts or neighborhoods are ruled by one individual Legend who best exemplifies the qualities and characteristics of its particular genre.
It is of important note that the name ‘Magical Land of Guitar’ was not chosen capriciously by its inhabitants. The ‘Magical’ aspect of the name is of particular significance as it has been recorded that under certain conditions, time, space and music have intersected and been manipulated in the ‘Magical Land of Guitar.’
How Riley Met the Drummer
“Ok,” Riley thought, “I know what the Twisty Road Café looks like. I know where it is and I know how to get to the Magical Land of Guitar which leads to the Café. I‘ve got to get to the Twisty Road Café and I have to play in a Battle of the Bands—all that much is clear,” She said to Mr. Snugglewhumps. So she hopped out of bed, grabbed her guitar (which was conveniently zipped up in her gig bag), and ran out the front door with Mr. Snugglewhumps right behind her. “But wait,” Riley stopped dead in her tracks– “If we’re going to play in a Battle of the Bands we’ve got to have a band. We don’t have a band.” She said to Mr. Snugglewhumps. “We need a drummer, a bass player and a singer. Well we sure the heck don’t have time to run a classified ad in the Weekly –we’ll just have to find them on the way—wwait what am I saying? — I know somebody already! — Vincent, Vincent Tarrega—my drummer friend from grade school.”
“Meow,” said Mr. Snugglewhumps.
“I’m glad you agree—let’s go over to Vincent’s house. I’m sure he still lives in Echo Park–he’s just a couple blocks away,” Riley said.

Share Button

The Curse of the Guitar and the Seven Legends of Guitar

 Ningal’s fear melted away as she realized her master’s face wore a look of amazement, not anger and the owner began to smile. You see, he was totally captivated by the sounds coming from the guitar. In fact, he was so enthralled that right then he said she no longer had to work and she was only to play the guitar. Soon after, the owner started bringing Ningal to market and she would play for the crowd– and the guitar had the same magical effect. Eventually, the slave holder freed Ningal and gave her his blessing.


                             The Curse of the Guitar and the Seven Legends of Guitar

Soon, Ningal’s guitar playing became legendary throughout the Kingdom and it followed that King Etana became aware of her playing as well. At first, the King was amused and intrigued but this quickly changed to fear and suspicion. Etana thought of himself as all powerful and he wanted to control everything but he simply could not control Ningal playing her guitar. He began to think of the guitar as a weapon which challenged his authority. So in a pique—a fit of paranoiac rage—he ordered his soldiers to break the guitar into seven pieces and had them thrown to the far corners of the world.

The guitar, however, had its own powers and put a curse on King Etana and all his ancestors. Etana’s power weakened soon after destroying the guitar and the King went down to defeat at the hands of Uruk, a city in central Sumeria. At the same time, the seven pieces of the guitar (later known as the Seven Legends of Guitar) became separate entities unto themselves possessing individual powers that when joined together would defeat any future threats to the guitar’s existence. At various times, the evil rulers’ ancestors would try to destroy the guitar but the Seven Legends would always defeat them. This was the curse and the legacy and this curse and legacy became known as the “Curse of the Guitar and the Seven Legends of Guitar” yet another integral part of Playing Her Guitar Suite lore.

                                       PRESENT DAY LOS ANGELES 2012

Los Angeles, California

Because of its unique characteristics, present day Los Angeles is about to become the sight of an apocalyptic guitar event—the Playing Her Guitar Suite endgame. Los Angeles, with its desert climate, culturally diverse population and innovative methods of irrigation, harks back to ancient Sumeria. In addition, the large concentration of guitar shops– and more guitarists per square inch than anywhere else in the world–makes Los Angeles a dramatic backdrop to what is about to transpire.

The final piece needed to complete this epic is a young girl who plays guitar-an imaginative girl who dreams of playing her guitar. This special girl will be chosen to play the central role in the continuing saga of Playing Her Guitar Suite.


Guitar player--Riley Ripintyme

Riley Ripintyme

Enter one Riley Ripintyme, a young girl who loves playing her guitar, playing guitar games, reading about guitar –anything about the guitar!! Then one night all alone in her room with all her music she drifts off to sleep and as fantastic dreams envelop her mind, she is visited by the Goddess of Guitar. And, as in the dream experienced by the young Sumerian girl, the Goddess plays guitar in an absolutely astonishing manner. In this present day dream, however, the music she plays is on electric guitar—a magnificent black Explorer with a reverse headstock and dual humbucking pickups. Soaring, melodic metal solos—heavily overdriven amplification but sweetly distorted and compressed for maximum sustain–all the right overtones and perfectly pinched harmonics. Pure magic!

And again, as in the first dream with the Sumerian girl, the Goddess knows that Riley wants to play the guitar as well. She lets Riley play this magical instrument and, miraculously, wondrous sounds come forth as Riley plays beautifully—not as good as the Goddess of course but pretty good. After a while of joyous guitar playing, the Goddess began to speak again. She told Riley of the Sumerian girl, the  “Curse of the Guitar and The Seven Legends of Guitar” and then finally issued a dire warning and edict,  “Today a new threat to the guitar is emerging. A Dr. Tarborg is creating Tarborgs in his own image and is going to have them play in a Battle of the Bands. His plan is to destroy all guitarists. You, Riley, are a vessel for the Seven Legends and you must defeat the Tarborgs at the Twisty Road Café and Theatre! ”


“Where is the Twisty Road Café?” asked Riley.

“It is exactly in the center of the Magical Land of Guitar and is owned and run by the evil Dr. Tarborg,” said the Goddess.

“Ok, ok let me just stop you right there and I mean no disrespect but If I’ve got to do all the things you’re telling me, I’m going to need some directions—Goddess, ma’am Lady,” said Riley.

The Goddess seemed a bit taken aback –miffed maybe even, for she wasn’t accustomed to being spoken to in this manner but she quickly gathered herself and said, “Alright, alright, point taken. That’s a little out of my purview however, so I’m going to turn you over to the Travel Goddess.”

And with a click of the toggle switch three times on her Explorer, the Goddess of Guitar was gone and the Travel Goddess was right before Riley. She was holding a stack of maps and bus schedules and without even looking up she said, “Take the 720 redline on Wilshire all the way to the end –4th and Colorado in Santa Monica. Hook up to the No 9 Palisades Big Blue Bus and take it to Temescal Canyon Boulevard. Oh, and just an extra tip—whatever you do, don’t take the 405.”

“Yeah for sure I won’t take the 405 –I don’t drive. But as far as the bus lines and stuff…don’t you mean ‘the 720 yellow line and the big yellow bus on various yellow brick roads?” said Riley.

Without even so much as cracking a grin, the Travel Goddess said, “No. That’s another story. Stay in your story.”

“Yeah Ok, you’re right. I’m sorry. Ok, so I’m at Temescal Canyon –what’s next? ” asked Riley.

“Follow the trail up to the waterfall then descend about thirty paces where you will come upon a path that is enclosed by trees like an archway. The entire path is an archway—follow it to the end and you will be in the Magical Land of Guitar,” said The Travel Goddess. And then she gave Riley a hard copy from her portable printer.

“Great, now about the Twisty Road Cafe…” Riley started to say.

Share Button

Playing Her Guitar Suite–Endgame

(A story and song about a girl playing her guitar.)
In November of 2013, four young musicians will travel through a portal where space, time and music intersect. They will play in an apocalyptic Battle of the Bands in competition with the Tarborgs at the Twisty Road Café and Theater. A record of that event in sight and sound will be released in the form of a CD and graphic novella. It will be made available the following day.


The story of Playing Her Guitar Suite has its roots in ancient Sumeria. It is the birthplace of the guitar. All guitar music can be traced back to this time and place and by traveling back to Sumeria in 3000 BC, we can better understand the events which are about to unfold.


Sumeria was situated in the fertile valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.(In today’s world, Sumeria would be in the southern half of modern Iraq between Baghdad and the Persian Gulf-an area of approximately 10,000 square miles.) Sumeria was a large oasis that drew people of different cultures from all over the region. The Sumerians were a talented people receptive to new ideas and technology and through their methods of irrigation they were able to create a prosperous society from a desert wasteland.

Tigris and Euphrates Rivers

Tigris and Euphrates Rivers

Political History

At this time, Sumerian political history was dominated by the institution of a ruling king. As the disputes between various Sumerian city-states grew more severe and furious, and as pressures from the more violent peoples to the east and west intensified, military leadership became more important, and the king became the most powerful man. Eventually the position of king, with all its privileges and perquisites, became hereditary.
Unified under a single strong leader, King Etana; the Sumerians were able to overcome and defeat various invaders. The Sumerians fought smart. Under King Etana, they were organized and had developed superior weaponry and military tactics. Inevitably, the strong willed King Etana was able to bring peace not only to Sumeria, but also to the entire region.


Sumerians enjoyed all types of music and it was a major source of entertainment both in the home and at the market. Many musicians were held in high regard and they became influential figures in Sumerian society. Music was also inextricably entwined with mythology and religion. There was a group of music gods known as Anunna and these music gods only appeared in dreams. Chief among these Gods was the Goddess of Guitar and she played wondrous music full of the most intricate sonorities- a rainbow of sounds. Her music, however, could only be heard in dreams in the heavens above.

The Story of Playing Her Guitar Suite begins

It was into this cultural and political milieu that Playing Her Guitar Suite was conceived. Here is what happened. Even though children were highly valued in Sumerian society, in rare cases they were sold into slavery and this is exactly what happened to a particular young girl in a small city-state in northern Sumeria. Her name was Ningal and her life was one of drudgery and despair because now she was just considered property. Her master forced her to work night and day-there was no escape, for she would be severely punished if she even tried. Dreams became her only relief from reality and dream she did—beautiful fantastic dreams of magical and colorful sounds of the heavens! Naturally, it wasn’t long before Ningal was visited in a dream by the Goddess of Guitar. Oh what a dream it was!! The Goddess played a rainbow of colors on her guitar—painting sounds in the sky. The music was so enchanting that Ningal thought she had entered heaven itself.

After a while the Goddess stopped playing and then spoke directly to Ningal. The Goddess said that she could read Ningal’s mind and she knew that Ningal wanted to play this other-worldly instrument. The Goddess then instructed Ningal to go and find a perfectly straight stick and to attach a string to it. Next, she told her to find a gourd and attach the stick and string to it—thereby amplifying the string’s vibration. Ningal followed the Goddess’ instructions, assembled her own guitar and began playing. Miraculously, beautiful sounds instantaneously came forth from her newly constructed instrument. Oh, it certainly wasn’t as good as the Goddess’ –but it was pretty good.

Then suddenly she was awakened and it was again time for the drudgery and stark realism of slavery. Ningal knew that what she had experienced was a dream but it was just as real as her slave world and so she spent every spare moment searching for just the right sized stick and string, as well as the perfectly shaped gourd. After several months of searching, she finally had the right materials and began assembling her guitar—the First Guitar! There was now a physical manifestation in the earthly world of the same guitar that she had seen and heard the Goddess play in her dream!

She immediately began playing and her slave owner came into her room. As she looked up to see her master she saw a face filled with anger and Ningal’s joy immediately turned to fear.
Would she be punished for such insolence? Would her master take her guitar—destroy it perhaps?

Share Button

Teen Battle of the Bands

Mission San Louis Obispo

I am at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and as I approach the entrance, a priest stops me and says, “I must warn you young lady, El Diablo has descended upon our church.”
“Excuse me, Father,” I say.
Then the priest says, “Guitars of steel speak through wooden boxes; and voices, screaming with the power of a thousand thunderstorms, shatter the air.”
If Riley were here, she’d probably say, “Sounds good to me, padre.” And she’d walk right in.
Me? I’m going to give pause. Yes, I’m a journalist . . . Inqiring minds want to know . . . but I’m a little bit hesitant to risk my soul to eternal damnation just for a story.

I enter the church slowly . . . very slowly. As my eyes adjust to the much darker lighting, I see Him. I see the Antichrist . . . on . . . a . . . Slayer T-shirt. The wearer of the T-shirt is carrying a silver metallic flying ‘V’ and he is shouting, “Satan’s Vomit, Satan’s Vomit!” Then he notices me and says in a very soft, almost sweet tone, “I’m in Satan’s Vomit.”
“Well that can’t be good,” I say.
“Not good? It’s great! Satan’s Vomit is gonna win the Battle of the Bands!” he says. Then he quickly walks away, and takes a seat in front of the alcove-like, proscenium stage. Gradually, I’m becoming acclimated to the inside light, and I see Gunther on the stage. He’s moving a couple of guitars and a stagehand is moving an amplifier. Then I notice to my left, a music stand, containing the rules for the Teen Battle of the Bands.

Now Gunther starts to speak to the small assembled group, which (I assume) is comprised of all the contestants in the Teen Battle of the Bands. “Before I talk about the Battle of the Bands itself, I’d like to say a couple of words about the building in which you are sitting right now– Miles Memorial Playhouse; and the person who is in charge of it. This Spanish Colonial Revival building is almost one hundred years old and has a history that could fill volumes of books. Juan Carlos, the building superintendant and stage manager, treats this building with reverence; to Juan Carlos, it is sacred. Let’s try to keep these things in mind when we are setting up and rehearsing.


“Well, enough of my speechifying; let’s talk about the Teen Battle of the Bands.” Then Gunther does a one hundred and eighty degree turn, switches personas and goes into full impresario mode. He is totally animated.“You’ve got a band! The perfect band members have been chosen and the chemistry’s just right. You’ve rehearsed, you’ve got a set. You’ve even played at Sally’s birthday party, and everybody loves you. What‘s the next step? You’ve already taken it–The Teen Battle of the Bands!


Teen Battle of the Bands

Teen Battle of the Bands

“I know you are all enthused, excited and psyched about this competition; I know I am. I have listened to all your music and watched your videos, and the battle is now down to six bands. All of you–whether you just turned 13 today, or are 19 years, 364 days and counting–deserve to be here.

“Whether you finish first or last, this competition will be a boon to your career. There is something about a battle that sharpens your skills, gives you focus . . . a goal. It will create a special bond between you and your followers, and your fan base will increase dramatically. Finally, this battle will give you exposure like you’ve never had before.”

A little girl with a booming voice asks, “What about other musicians—I mean . . . have there been like, famous ones who’ve been in battles?”
GP: “Well, Ray and Dave Davies of the Kinks have been battling it out with each other for decades and then there’s . . . oh, I’m sorry. I’m an idiot . . . I know what you mean. Yeah, sure, there have been plenty of famous musicians who’ve participated in competitions just like the one that you’re in now. Let’s see . . . oh yeah . . . John Lennon’s first band, the Quarrymen, competed in skiffle contests; and I’m not sure if they even won. Also, members from Faith No More, Deep Purple, Mr. Big, and Metallica have all been in battles of the bands. It’s probably safe to say that most famous and near famous musicians have played in a battle of the bands at one time or another.

One of the older contestants asks, “What about the prizes? I heard that the prizes have changed.”
GP: “They have. They’ve gotten better. First prize now includes an opening slot with Laura Wilde on her next tour, a full day shopping spree at Guitar Center Hollywood and 50 hours of studio time at the Village recording studio in Los Angeles. Second prize is a shopping spree at Guitar Center West Los Angeles and 25 hours of studio time at the Village. Third Prize is $500 cash plus a full Pro Tools rig.”

“Any further questions? No? OK then, thank you for your support. I’ll see you all again in four weeks.”
The little girl with the big voice asks, “What time should we get here?”
“The Battle is scheduled to start at 7:00 pm and will end at approximately 10:00 pm. Plan to be here all day, however; there will be dress-rehearsals, sound and lighting checks, and interviews with the local press. One other thing–be prepared for any eventuality. Good luck, practice hard and rehearse ‘til you get worse.”

As the contestants are leaving, Gunther comes down from the stage; he sees me and says, “Jayne! You made it. Were you here for my whole shpiel?”
JJ: “Oh yeah! Cool pep talk. You’ve really given me some great material for a ‘Battle of the Bands’ post. Thank you.”
GP: “You’re welcome. Well, it’s your last post before starting the novel.”
JJ: “Yeah . . . about that.”
GP: “Uh, oh.”
JJ: “Gunther, I don’t want to sound ungrateful; I really appreciate everything you’ve done for me. And, of course, I want and need that scholarship, but I still have some trepidation about writing a novel.”
GP: “How so?”
JJ: “Like material—what are my posts going to be about . . . specifically.”
GP: “ Ah . . . look , whatever Riley does or whatever you do, for that matter, is all grist for the mill . . . a jumping-off point. Just write. You’ll be fine.”
JJ: “OK. I can handle that. I’m used to doing posts every day; but writing fiction–that….that is something I’ve never done before.”
GP: “Here’s a basic rule for writing fiction: Show, don’t tell—instead of telling the reader that something is beautiful, show that it is.
JJ: “Alright. I understand. That’s a good tip.”
GP: “Here’s another thing; even though you’ll be writing fiction, there must be an illusion of reality. The setting and the characters must come alive to the reader. There must be an overall logic, even if it’s an absurd logic.”
JJ: “Well, a story that includes Riley will certainly be absurd.”
GP: “Be nice.”
JJ: “I’m trying to be, but she’s so easily distracted–like she just got this Pro Tools rig and that’s all she’s into now. Gunther, I’m afraid my novel won’t work because it will be directionless. Riley will start doing this, that and the other thing and she’ll never . . .”
GP: “Don’t worry, Riley has to get a band together and soon; she has entered the Teen Battle of the Bands.”
JJ: “But the rules on the entry form state the applicants must submit an Mp3, CD or YouTube video, their band name, ages, type of music and so on.”
GP: “Well, in addition to the Teen Battle of the Band’s rules; I have one other rule.”
JJ: “What’s that?”

GP: “The rule that says ‘rules are made to be broken’.”

JJ: “Oh, Gunther, come on.”
GP: “I don’t mean to pull rank, but it is the organizer’s privilege to invoke this unwritten rule. I don’t use it lightly; but in this instance, I truly believe I am correct in using it. I’ve accepted Riley’s application. She’s an official entrant in the Teen Battle of the Bands as Rip ‘N Time.”
JJ: “Well, I don’t know . . .”
GP: “There is also the element of trust. I trust that Riley will start a band and perform in the Teen Battle of the Bands; just as I trust you to write that novel. I am also asking you, Jayne, to trust me.”
JJ: “I trust you.”
GP: “Good . . . your novel starts with tomorrow’s post and ends, four weeks later, with the Teen Battle of the Bands.”

Share Button

How to Get the Right Guitar Recording Gear

guitar audio gear
High up in the woods and hills of Holly, there is a castle of sound and light. Behind its walls resides a wizard-prince of generous and magnanimous character. Riley and I are here at our appointed time to meet the wizard-prince who is to reveal the secrets of sound reproduction–the way of the Pro Tools.

As we enter his private chambers, the wizard-prince is standing amidst counters and display cases filled with software and hardware. Speakers, mixing boards, midi controllers and microphones are everywhere–like subjects awaiting his command. We wait patiently to be received by the master.
The prince sees us and says, “HI, I’m Pilar.”
RR: “I’m Riley; this is my friend, Jayne.”
Pilar: “How may I help?”
RR: “Pro Tools, I want to learn everything I can about Pro Tools.”
Pilar: “A wise decision.”

I stand aside as Riley sits in front of a monitor. Pilar, with mouse in hand, hunches over Riley’s right shoulder. He gently guides her through a dizzying array of terms and concepts: Wave forms, digital vs. analog, 16-bit, 24-bit, sample rates, latency, Digi Rack interface, sessions, tracks, regions, playlists, Mix Window, Edit window and finally, plug-ins. Riley is totally mesmerized by Pilar’s words. She has completely surrendered herself to this omniscient, yet unpretentious wizard- prince.

Pilar: “Here’s a tune I did in Pro Tools. Listen to it, but also notice how it looks in the Pro Tools Mix Window.”
RR: “Very cool.”
Pilar: “I’m using 48 tracks, and their volumes and panning have been automated.”
RR: “The faders look like they’re dancing.”
Pilar: “Do you like stomp boxes . . . I mean, you know, guitar effects . . . pedals?”
RR: “Oh, yeah.”
Pilar: “Check this out. it’s a totally customizable plug-in with every imaginable guitar effect.”
RR: “ Whoa! It looks like you took the whole store and put it on the screen. I’ve never seen so many stomp boxes in one place before. And they look so real, it seems like I could touch them.”
Pilar: “Would you like to?”
RR: “What?”
Pilar: “Touch them.”
RR: “I’m not sure what you mean.”
Pilar: “Do you really want to get into Pro Tools–I mean . . . literally . . . get into Pro Tools?”
RR: “Um . . . yeah, sure.”
Pilar: “Watch this.”
Pilar then holds the mouse in both hands and clicks it three times—two right and one left.
A virtual version of Pilar is now inside the computer on a tron–like matrix. Riley does the same and now they are both part of the Pro Tools software application. The two ‘physical’ versions of Pilar and Riley remain sitting in front of the monitor. Their heads are weaving and bobbing in a sort of semi-circle—their movement is only minimal. It’s as if Riley and Pilar are asleep or in a trance. However, the virtual versions of themselves on the monitor are quite animated.

I turn up the volume, and can clearly hear their conversation.

RR: “Can I try some of the stomp boxes?”
PIlar: “Of Course–let’s use the Waves GTR3 software plug-in. We can string together as many effects as you like. How about . . . chorus, delay, metal and reverb?”
RR: “OK, sure!”
Riley plugs a virtual ESP Explorer into the Guitar Interface; she starts playing and says,
“How did you know that that was the sound I was looking for? It’s perfect!”
Pilar just smiles.
Just then, “Pilar, paging Pilar in audio. Pilar in audio.”
Pilar: “You don’t have to shout, Jayne. I can hear you perfectly fine—just speak normally.”
JJ: “How will you answer your page?”
Pilar: “I’ll just return to my physical body— no big deal. Riley and I have just about exhausted our allotted time inside the software anyway, so it’s time we both returned to our physical bodies.”
JJ: “Is there anything I should do?”
Pilar: “Just hold the mouse in both hands, and click it three times—two left and one right.”
I click the mouse three times, but nothing happens. “It doesn’t work, Pilar.”
Pilar: “That’s OK, don’t worry . . . just try it again.”
I do, and again, nothing happens.
Pilar: “Jayne, Jayne, listen to me. Riley and I have about 30 seconds left–click again. If it doesn’t work this time, RILEY AND I WILL BE STUCK IN HERE . . . AS PERMANENT PARTS OF THE PRO TOOLS SOFTWARE APPLICATION . . . FOREVER!!
Pilar: “I’m just joking. I can take care of it from this end.”
And with that, their lifeless physical forms transform back to normal and the virtual versions of themselves are no longer on the screen.
Pilar: “Excuse me; I’ve got to take this call. Mmhmm . . . yeah . . . sure . . . great . . . OK . . . bye.”
Riley asks, “OK, since we’re back to reality, how much is all of this going to cost me?”
Pilar says, “No hurry, no worries . . . pay when you get your first royalty check.”
RR:” Are you joking again? Is this for real?
Pilar: “No joke, it’s for real. That’s what the page was about; management heard you play. Your future is solid. They’re confident that you’ll be able to pay.”

A stock person, pulling a huge cart, brings all the equipment that Riley had been using. He says, “Is that everything?”
Pilar: “Yeah, thanks guy.” Then Pilar turns to Riley and says, “Here’s all the gear– enjoy–it’s yours.”
RR: “But how will I get all this stuff to my house?”
Pilar: “Just wheel it out front.”
I’m thinking . . . ‘free delivery’—of course. When we exit with all the equipment onto Hollywood Boulevard however; it all disappears. In fact, we’re not on Hollywood Boulevard at all. We are at the corner of Princeton and Broadway in Santa Monica–right in front of Riley’s house.
We open the gate, walk up to the stairs and go inside. The gear has already been delivered and set up.

Riley lays down a programmed drum track. She creates another track and records the exercise she was messing around with at the courthouse—this becomes a rhythm track. She then records the lead she had created at her lesson the day before. This is the third track.
Rewind. Playback. It’s magical—dreamy.
JJ: “Tomorrow, I’m going to meet with Gunther at Miles Memorial Playhouse. Want to come?”
RR: “Wh-huh?” Riley is totally transfixed and preoccupied—she doesn’t even know I’m there.
JJ: “I said, there are fifteen foot tall extraterrestrials on your front lawn, playing triple-necked guitars.”
RR: “That’s cool.”
Riley puts on her headphones, stares at the screen and half-heartedly waves as I leave. I think to myself—a couple of days ago, it was transcribing; that’s all she wanted to do. Now it’s Pro Tools. Sheesh.

Share Button