A VOICE FROM THE PRESENT…
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Here are some clips from a full-production show we did in early October of 2018 – celebrating the 50th birthday of Erica, the wife of longtime band associate Jeff Stremmler, who provided artwork to several of our CD’s and has been an avid supporter of The Voice. Paul and Ed put 20-odd tracks to ProTools via the DANTE send of the A+H GLD board. I’ve been having some fun mixing these tracks down and adding them to the video I had made of the show. It’s much better audio than the room mics I had placed for the camera. As Paul delivers the tracks, I’ll endeavor to synch them up to my video and put more of the show up here. There were two more cameras involved but I’ve not seen any of that material yet. Maybe later.
The Voice got it’s start on a college campus back in the late 80’s and toured the college circuit for many years. We still play occasionally, for the right kinds of events. I enjoy playing the token long-haired hippie in the band. I’ve been with the band since 1990.
NEW MATERIAL FROM THE VOICE…
Here’s a small treat – something we recorded in 2015 along with a few other songs that in fact were released that October, on iTunes. Several others are in limbo pending Jovo’s return to the mixing desk, after a few surgeries and some healing time. Meanwhile, I do have this mix to share – “Why We Stay”, a fine voice original that has a nice melody and some lyrical depth to chew on.
A VOICE FROM THE PAST
From 1990 to 1999, and again since 2006, I have been fortunate to play with a group of West Michigan musicians called The Voice.
At the time I joined, the band was already a few years old, and had a least one demo tape out. They had been in flux, as tends to happen to college bands as their members graduate and drift off into career paths that can take them far and wide. Recruited by a mutual friend, I recall that after just one or two meetings, they let me know the position was mine if I wanted it. They were playing a mix of covers and originals, and the style was immediately interesting to me. Once I was up to speed, we resumed playing in the West Michigan area and began working on our plans for the band’s first CD project of original material.
The Voice (self-titled) was locally released in 1993 and contained 17 tracks of original pop music. The tracks reflect the early years of the band’s development, having a significant 80’s synth and underground influence, combined with flavors of British and American pop music. Contemporary christian music elements were present as well. Comparisons of the Voice to other bands like Crowded House and the Talking Heads were common, which probably just reflected the influences we all shared in those years. My favorite tracks? Listening now, I can really hear the clash of sounds from the CD being recorded at three different facilities, but I’d say Secrets, Sunday Love, and Tim Crying get my votes.
The follow-up CD, Happy, was an EP, containing only 5 songs, was released locally in 1994 and was recorded for the most part in a couple of smaller local studios. By comparison, it had an almost REM or country-esque edge to it. It was done on modest budget, and even the cover was a single-color (B/W) print job. Still, it captures several new tunes we had developed and worked into the set. The cover theme reflects environmental awareness, as does some of the music on the disc
The third CD, Surface, was more completely developed and produced, and ranged in styles from a very driven sound to tunes with a Jazz edge to them, to modern pop. A mid-late 90’s influence is present, as well as a certain discernable distain for some of the repetitive college gigs we had been performing – which means a lot of drunken university students in basement bars, who are already well plastered even as the equipment is being set up for the night’s gig.
The gig environment was a major issue within the band – who by this time were musically a pretty mature lot who wanted to be taken more seriously. The smoky air of those kinds of places had began taking its toll, with Joel sometimes finding his voice off the rails by the start of the third set. A long period of reflection set in about where and why the band should play, leading to a change in flavor of the types of shows we were playing, and how often. It was also about this time that a record deal was being negotiated with a broadcasting firm based in Chicago. As a group, we declared we all were charged with reading 1 or 2 books each on the recording industry, copyright and publishing law. In a sad meeting later we took that contract apart piece-by-piece and decided it was not a very favorable contract at all, and we stood to lose a lot of money, not the mention losing perhaps forever the publishing and performance rights to everything we had ever written. This is an important point here, do take note: most “record deals” are slick little legally-crafted documents that can leave a band in hundreds of thousands in debt if every little thing doesn’t go EXACTLY as planned. More caveats than there are peanuts in Georgia.
The most recent CD produced by The Voice was called Wake. It picks up where Surface left off, hence the name. Most of the tunes were recorded in pre-production at my home studio, so we had the benefit of having them pretty close to where we wanted to before we laid out cash for commercial studio time.This is a very clean sounding disk, with a lighter feel, more intricate arrangements with less reverb and production applied – the songs and performances standing more on their own. Much of this disc was actually finished after I had left for Germany, in terms of mixing and mastering. On one unfinished track, a new guitar player was brought into the fold and he skillfully and artistically tracked the arranged guitar parts in my absence. He remained with the band for about a year after that, although by that point the band was playing fewer shows and people’s lives were rapidly evolving in other directions once again.
During the time between Surface and Wake, three of us, drummer Chad, guitarist/bassist Jovo and myself were busy working on a trio-format, writing material for some limited live shows, and produced a CD of those tunes on my analog 8-track ¼” Fostex reel-to-reel machine. This was mastered and presented as a CD under the band name Jupiter Plume (Astronomical reference) with the title Bubble. More detailed information on the JP project, this CD and recording notes about it can be found under the page “My Music”.
IMPROVS FROM THE ARCHIVE
Here’s a couple of tracks I demo’d years ago, that I recently bumped into (digitally speaking) and it seemed they belonged here too. These are keyboard improvs that were taken a step or two further, with some fleshing out. There are more of these around, and as I find them they will go up here. I’ve just noticed that since these are .wav files, wordpress is not handling them the same – the titles are lost. Track 1 is an original called “Prism Glass“, while track 2 is an instrumental based on an improv called “Survivor’s Walk“.
MY STICKY FINGERS
A few years ago I was fiddling with our digital camera when it occurred to me I once saw some great concert video that included a camera mounted on the head stock of the guitar player’s instrument. It was a cool vantage point as the rest of the room moved while the neck didn’t. It’s just a pile of improvs, nothing specific. As for the sound, the amp is not as loud as it should be, as you can still hear raw string tone from the body as it was so close to the mic… Ah… what do you want for a 15-minute project? I think this is an interesting tool as a guitarist – I can analyze my moves and see where my bad habits are more clearly when looking at the video as I am no longer engaged in the moment of playing…. quite illuminating. I may play with this idea more – we recently got a new video camera that’s just begging to be used for some more of this…
Stumbled onto your site while looking for info concerning trading out a Fender 65r Frontman reverb tank into a Sears Silvertone 1484. Don’t know anything about electronics, just trolling the web to see what’s possible. Love your site and the band history music brought back many memories my younger days playing 80’s – 90’s pop. Thanks for the tour.
Dan replies: No, Joe it’s not a straight swap. Modern tanks are completely incompatible with the high-voltage differential drive circuit present in the Silvertone. You must install a reverb drive transformer or a solid-state equivalent. Tanks require current, not voltage drive, and matched impedances to work well. It’s a few hours of work but I’ve done several. Basically you are copying a blackface-era circuit and replacing the whole drive side of the reverb. The return side does not require so much change. The mod requires some reasonable tech skills and probably not a good one to try if you are not comfortable with such things. Any experienced local amp tech should be able to accomplish it – Thanks so much for your feedback!!
Thanks for the work on the Fender Pro Junior and getting it back to life, Dan. I just watched your “Sticky Fingers” video……very cool and gets my mind racing. Good luck to you on your next adventure in music. John Maxson