The musical journey continues in western North Carolina with the rebirth of my band, “The High Court”. This will be the final entries for the accounting of the past 46 years of my musical journey. It may be a little lengthy as I kept a band log for this version of “The High Court”! A lot of people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to bands. These entries will show the difficulties as well as the high points of practices, rehearsals, and performances. It will be formatted for the most part chronologically as this is a record of band notes from practices, rehearsals, and performances. Pretty much I’m going to share with you the notes I took after each audition, practice rehearsal, and my opinions of our performances. It may become dry and lengthy, but it is the real deal!!!
Any up and coming bands might find this to be a good read for some of the things to do (and not to do) for having a successful working band. I will try to segment these entries according to major events that have happened with the band and my musical journey!
January 1, 2015 notes: The goal for The High Court band is to learn and rehearse number ones from 1960 to the present time, then learn other cover tunes if needed to fill up the set list for shows. Finally, start recording performing and marketing originals.
January 24, 2015-this was the first get together with Gary, Rob, and Ron. It turns out only Rob bass player and Gary the drummer showed up. Practice went well, I was the only singer and play guitar incident keyboards. Gary and Rob are on board to get something going. Kerry is not up for giving up a lot of weekends for the project. However, Rob is all in for it. Everyone is okay with “The High Court”. We all decided to add another lead vocalist-musician (either guitarist or keyboardist). I put an ad up on Craigs list on January 24, 2015 and decided to get together again at two o’clock on January 25, 2015.
January 25, 2015-This is the second get together with the High Court, Gary and Rob made it. We went through the eight songs we missed yesterday and in the past two days we covered 20 songs. New direction for the band is with number one songs: Stuck on You, Runaway, Locomotion, Sugar Shack, House of the Rising, and You Lost Loving Feeling.
January 28, 2015- This practice was just with Rob and myself because Gary was sick. It went okay though and Rob and I went through for more songs.
February 1, 2015- Scott bailed and said what we were doing was not what he was looking for. We are still awaiting a response from Michael and have no response from Ronnie as of the present time. The ad is still running on Craigs list for a second lead vocalist/guitarist and/or lead vocalist/keyboard player. This practice session we worked on chord progressions, form, and backup vocals for: Locomotion, Mony-Mony, Mind Your On Business, You Lost Loving Feeling, and Honky-Tonk Women. The following songs we just played through: Summertime Blues, When You Say Nothing at All, House of the Rising, Stuck on You, Sugar Shack, and Runaway. This Brings Our Total Number of Number One Songs to 11.
February 2, 2015-we tried out Glenn but he didn’t really show anything that could be helpful with a band. Rob, Gary, and I got some practice on a few songs that Gary didn’t get a chance to do yesterday. We try out Michael tomorrow.
February 3, 2015-we tried out Michael and everyone seems to be up for getting it together. This coming Saturday we will work on five songs to get the band started. The five songs are: Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Sugar Shack, Turn the Page, Hey Jude, and American Pie. I will be playing keyboard for those songs and Michael will be doing the guitar and vocal work. We will see how that goes, then had five more songs and start working on the song list of number ones.
February 6, 2015-we had a good practice with Rob and Gary. We went over songs that I hope to be playing keyboards on, and Michael will be singing and playing guitar. I am looking forward to tomorrow. We set up about 15 songs to go over.
February 7, 2015-everyone showed up… Michael was not prepared. He did not go over any of the five songs for practice. This may be becoming a bad habit. We will give him one more chance with 12 songs as a set list in two weeks. If you can get all of the songs down with vocals and guitar, I’ll have to let him go. The next practice with Rob Gary and myself will be Monday.
February 9, 2015-we got together with the new guitarist vocalist named Tommy. Finally, someone that can play guitar and sing a little. He’s been here in Asheville for about three years, and I believe he wants to settle down with a band. I’m not sure where Gary is at some times. He has heart, dedication, and the desire to put forth the effort needed to put a band together. I think he underestimates himself and his ability on the drums. Aside from the format of playing number ones, I’m not sure what direction the band will be going in. As long as I can keep us on track with the number ones, I’m confident we can have a very good band whether we are playing country, rock, blues, or pop.
February 12, 2015-we had a good practice. We went over all but six songs from the list. I played a lot more keyboards and were starting to sound good on the song Turn the Page, and Knocking On Heavens Door with a good separation of guitar and keyboards. Everyone seems to be all in for the project, and the sound is clicking pretty good. We are scheduling practice for tomorrow and we all want to get this project off the ground and running as soon as possible.
February 13, 2015-we went over the six songs we missed yesterday and it seemed like we just breezed right through them. We sat down and discussed where we wanted to go with the next practice. The plan is to do 11 number one straight through. Then, working on the beginnings and endings of those songs. After that, everyone will pick a song to add (it does not have to be a number one) to the set list for the following practice. I will pick one from the songs we have already done or another number one from another year to expedite the sessions.
February 16, 2015-due to the weather, we had to postpone practice until this Sunday. We are adding to songs to finish out the decade of the 60s. I sent you an e-mail to the guys with the current song list to work on staging, “let’s concentrate on the first 10 then we will work on the next 10. This should get us done with the 60s, and 70s by the beginning of March. This third set of 10 is from the 80s and we should have that knocked out by the first weekend of spring as well is getting into the 90s by then as well”. If we can get through the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s by mid-March, I’ll be confident that we will be able to start looking for places to play out in the local area before summer.
February 22, 2015-we went over all of the 60s songs exchanged a few songs for other songs that fit our vocal range. I gave Tommy a copy of guitar Pro five to help him learn more of the guitar work for the songs we’re doing as well as MP3s of all the number ones. Now it comes down to putting the homework and then getting the songs down. Gary will need to get the chance to listen to some of the songs that he will start the band with.
February 23, 2015-we had a good session! We went over our objectives and the vision for the band with number ones, played all 10 of the number ones of the 1960s. I’m hoping to go over them one more time at our next practice, then get on with the 70s. Tommy and Gary will do some practicing at Tommy’s place, since it will be closer for both of them sometime in the near future. I uploaded the song list and the MP3s for the number ones, so Tommy has something to practice with. It was good to have a band meeting before we got after the music. I think it helped to keep the goal insight. The next practice is designed to work on memorization of the lyrics to songs, and get started on tightening up the 70 songs.
February 28, 2015-Practice went well. Gary bought a cowbell to help with the songs Honky Tonk Women and We’re an American Band. We went over all of the 1960s songs and five of the 1970 songs. We are going to shelf the 1960 songs for now and concentrate on the 1970 songs for the next few practices. I have a cold that has challenged my vocals, but without straining it we did quite well. I am staying with the guitar for now and holding off playing keyboards until we get tighter with the songs we are doing. Our next practice will be Monday night at 7 PM.
March 1, 2015-practice went well. We went over the 70 songs a few times. Rob and I will get together Wednesday, and the next band practice will be for Friday at 7:00 PM.
March 4, 2015-Rob and I went over Sister Golden Hair and just hung out and shot the shit.
March 6, 2015-we got Gary hooked up with a microphone and it sounded pretty good. We went over all but two songs from the 70s. Since we are doing one song from each year of the decade that means we went over 8 of the 1970 songs. Because of the driving distance this Sunday Rob will be practicing here at my place and Gary will be practicing over at Tommy’s place. Then Monday night we’ll all get together again at my place. I am hoping to finish up with the 70s through the next week. Peggy and I are having a St. Patrick’s Day party on the 14th and we might just go through the 60s and 70s to see where we are. As long as we can stay on track and not get sidetracked, we might just be ready to be working through the summer and beyond. It seems like we are doing each decade in about two weeks on the average.
March 9, 2015-Gary did not want to hold up the band from getting to where we are going. Everything was good. He felt that the further along we were getting he would be holding us back from our potential. Losing a band-mate is a definite transition that can be very stressful. The honorable way to leave a band (if you must) is to find a suitable replacement and cover the gigs that you have committed to (if at all possible). Of course there are always extenuating circumstances that are understandable, like family emergencies and the like, but quitting because it’s not your cup of tea doesn’t mean you have to quit having dignity as well. Gary was honorable enough to let us know in advance, and not compromise any gigs. And so the musical journey continues and The High Court remains in session, well practice session at the least!
He was not really up to par with a lot of the songs we were doing or will be doing. So Gary is no longer a judge with the High Court. We did go over some songs but more for the benefit of Tommy than anything else. Tommy knows a drummer named Albert, and we will be checking him out Thursday. Rob and I will be getting together Wednesday night at 7:00 PM (maybe Tommy as well) to start going over some of the 80s songs. As well as refreshing some of the 70s and 60 songs. We are really sounding good but need to get the lyrics and progressions down tighter to be at that professional level I am used to.
March 11, 2015-Rob and I get together and went over the first four songs from the 80s. Talked a little about the direction of the band. We’ll see how it goes with a drummer Albert. We need to make sure everyone is doing their homework to keep this band on track.
A new drummer and a new sound was just on the horizon. There is only so much a bass player and guitarist can do to get the music down. Adding a drummer can give way to a lot of different dynamics that create the sound of a band.
March 12, 2015-This will be our 20th get together. Albert was the topic of this evening. He has good meter and timing. One issue was tempo, too fast for a lot of the songs and maybe that was because of the excitement. We will have to get a handle on that if it’s going to work. Tommy has some family health problems that will take him out of town for the weekend, but will be back for practice on Monday. Practiced Monday will be at 5:30 PM and that will be the regular time from now on.
March 14, 2015-St. Patrick’s Day Party! Rob, Albert, and I played 13 songs during the party. Six of which were 1960s number one songs. It was a great party. Jim from work, got some video of us playing. I’ll try to get a copy of it or the link where he might post it.
March 16, 2015-Albert is proving to be a great asset to the band, his timing is pretty much on spot, Temple was more in the pocket, and all in all I’m liking it as well as Rob is. Tommy made it back from Virginia. His wife’s sister passed away so I know there’s a lot on his mind. We are revisiting the 60s to let Albert get a handle on them as well as letting the rest of us tighten them up. Next practice is Thursday at 5:30 PM and the plan is to go over the 60s again. Two of the songs that need more attention are Paint It Black, and You Lost Loving Feeling. I still need to tighten up on the vocals of Pretty Woman. Starting this Thursday, I’ll be playing keyboards so we can get used to the sound and structure with that instrument in the mix. I am going to stay guitar oriented with run away for now, and maybe at a future date include the keyboards into it. I will be going to the dentist Friday, so Saturday practice may be more about what Tommy can sing than what I can say. We will see how that all develops after Thursday and into Saturday.
March 19, 2015-Tommy bailed! He e-mailed me and basically said that he could not keep up with the songs we were doing, or the timetable we are looking at. So we will be looking for another singer/instrumentalist to fill out the fourth position in the band. Until that time though, Rob Howard and myself will continue to persevere with the course. I will have to learn a lot more the lease for the songs as well as more letters to more songs. Practice went well I think. We went over to of our songs and made good headway with them as well as jammed on Breakdown by Tom Petty. I have a dental appointment tomorrow, so we’re going to postpone practice until Monday to give me a little time to heal up for the three extractions. I did move the keyboard over to have ease of access while playing guitar in standing up. I will work on guitar and keyboard parts through the weekend to get ready for Monday. The High Court is still in session!!
March 20, 2015-I may have found a great musician/singer. Joshua Elliott-he is 30 years old, plays guitar, sings and I think some other instruments that could expand the sound of the bank. He has his own label, and has recorded some of his original material. I like his singing style and songs. If he is willing to “get on board” with the direction of the band, I feel he could be a great asset. We set up a meet and greet/jam session for Monday.
March 21, 2015-Rob will be coming over to set up his mixer board for the rehearsal session around 2:00 PM (I can’t wait)! We got the mixer set up with three vocals and keyboards, and got the multitrack setup with three vocals, bass, keyboards, and my guitar. We have two more inputs for Albert’s drums and another instrument (guitar, banjo, mandolin, or ukulele) with the multitrack. This should help us record our practice sessions. Rob’s mixer is awesome. We’re using are better mics for singing so we can get used to the EQ set up for each microphone.
March 23, 2015-Josh seems to be a good fit for the band. He has a good voice and knows his guitar very it seems like he’s willing to get on board with the program of number one songs, and may have the time to practice the songs we are doing. We went through all of the 1960s songs, and will go through them again this Thursday. If all goes well, we will start working on the 70s Saturday and Monday. Hopefully we can get started on the 80s by next Thursday. We will see where we are by this weekend and take it from there. Josh has good roots and country which will prove to be a major asset window in the 90s and beyond. I got a good feeling about the lineup. We might need to work on getting Josh hooked up with electric guitar. For now, I’ll let him use my telecaster and Peavey.
March 26, 2015-band practice went really well as we went through all of the 1960s songs, and some more times than others. Saturday, Josh will bring his mandolin and we will find places to use it in songs. For the most part practice went really well. The only issue was with the sound system. Rob will be coming over earlier Saturday and I hope we can resolve that problem then.
March 28, 2015-this will be you Rob and my 25th get together. Practice went well and we went over all of the 1960s songs and for the 1970s songs. The songs are coming together nicely and we can actually see progress. I think we have got some of the foundation laid down, and now it’s time to start getting the rest of it underway. We used Rob’s mixer and power amplifier and it really makes a difference in the sound. We’re going to move some things around tomorrow, and do some more level and equalization settings. Maybe Rob and I can get down with the rest of the 70s, including My Sharonna, and Crazy Little Thing Called Love. I added some MIDI files to my laptop to use with guitar Pro five for learning some of the songs as well as well as my extensive word document library for charts of hundreds of songs.
March 30, 2015-we spent a lot of time on the 1970s songs. I brought up the concept of recording originals down the road for everyone to think over. Rob got Josh’s ukulele, guitar, and mandolin set up through the board. Josh played a song called I’m Yours by Jason Mraz, which was a number one song in 2008. It just got added to the list (my part would be the electric piano). I do need some more work on the guitar parts for The Joker, Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me, Pretty Woman, Sister Golden Hair, and You Lost That Loving Feeling. Then I’ll tackle the last two sons for the 70s; Ms. You, and My Sharona. That should complete the number one songs for the 60s and 70s by Thursday or Saturday. If all goes well, I hope to get started with the 80s on Monday until then I’ll concentrate on the 70s songs.
April 2, 2015-really good practice tonight, we went over all of the 60s, and a view of the 70s. Josh got Turn the Page down better-hitting the power vocals where they needed it. We started changing Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me, but we might have to revisit that one. Some of my leaves were interesting in a good way, but as well they need a lot more work to get them where I want. I think the tighter we get the songs, the more we will be able to play around with them. Stuck On You could use some backing vocals, Run Away still needs a tighter lead, Locomotion needs a good ending, Sugar Shack needs to be tightened up where the leads come in, on Pretty Woman, I need to find a better transition between clean and dirty guitars, as well as a better rhythm structure for the versus. We still need to work on Loving Feeling for all of the breaks and backup vocals. Paint It Black just needs to be played more. As with all bands every song can always use some polish. Saturday Rob, Albert, and I will get together around two in the afternoon.
April 4, 2015-this practice we went through all of the 60s, and 80% of the 70s area we even messed around with Crazy Little Thing Called Love from 1980. All in all, it was a good practice. As long as we stay on course we will get to our destination. I hope by Thursday we can be all but one song away from finishing the 70s, so that Saturday we can start on the 80s. We will see where we are by Saturday.
April 6, 2015-we sounded pretty good for the most part. There were a few songs that definitely need practice mostly for timing issues. The song My Sharona seems to be more of a problem for Albert than anyone else in the band. I feel we have a really good sounding band and really look forward to seeing the results in public performances!
April 8, 2015-I bought a new slide, the one I’ve borrowed from Rob was just too cumbersome and bulky. I put strings on my 1960 Gibson “Les Paul Jr.” and hope to set that up for slide playing by raising the strings a little bit, and tuning to an open E standard tuning. I will be playing slide on The Joker, and I think I’ll have a go at singing the lead vocals. I may have to take over lead vocals on Honky Tonk Women. We’ll see how it goes at practice tomorrow night.
April 9, 2015-this will be the 30th time I have played music with Rob. Another good practice. We started with the 70s that I play slide on. Josh played his acoustic guitar for most of the night. I am singing Honky Tonk Women until Josh can get the feel for better. He is going to work on Miss You for this Saturday. We are going to take small bites out of My Sharona every practice until we get that one down. Josh has been looking into electric guitars and that is a good thing. He’s getting some work done on his banjo and mandolin. I am going to try to get us through the 60s and 70s this Saturday is set Monday to start on some of the 80s. This will get us working on more songs and moving forward. I don’t want us to get hung up on songs like My Sharona, but I don’t want us to sound like we slapped the songs together either. The game plan for this Saturday will be to run right down the list from 1960 to 1978, work a little on My Sharona, then jam on the four 80s songs. This will give us songs to get started on for Monday. Maybe within the next two paydays I get my walnut Gibson “The Paul” fixed. I’ll be using that as my slide guitar for songs like The Joker, Sister Golden Air, and Like a Rock. I might be using it for more songs (as a steel guitar) when we get more into the country songs. We’ll see what works.
April 11, 2015-we went through all of the 60s, all but one of the 70s, and a few of the 90s. Monday we will do more of the same. We have added five of the first 80s songs to start working on for Monday. The 60s really sounded great–I can see the improvement in the band is really coming together and becoming much tighter. I put my Gibson “The Paul” in the shop and it should be ready by Monday. I’ll spend a day or two setting it up for slide, then I can work more on the slide songs in the set list.
April 13, 2015-practice went very well. We went through the 60s, 70s, and a couple of the 80s. Got a good recording of Like a Rock. Josh will start coming over on Tuesdays for more one on one with guitar and vocals with me (I guess you could call him my protégé). Rob will be coming over as well. This will give us a good chance to sit down and get parts together. We’ll run through the songs and fine tune them musically as well as start working on backup and harmony vocals. This will increase our practice scheduled to four days a week, and at that rate we should make a lot of progress in a short amount of time. I need to work on the website with pics and bios on everyone. We have scheduled a photography shoot for this Saturday as well as get bios and some individual pics from the guys.
April 16, 2015-good practice. We went over the 70s, and one song from the 80s. Spent some time on My Sharona and it’s coming along pretty well area Josh might be getting a telecaster before Saturday’s practice! That will be cool.
April 18, 2015-Practice went well. We went over the first 5 80’s songs. Josh had to work late at Harley Davidson of Asheville. There are perks to working there though, he might have the connection to get us some gigs in the Biker community. Sometimes a band is lucky enough to have a member that not only is a good singer and multi-instrumentalist like Josh, but also works at a venue that has musical events like the Harley Davidson of Asheville! We all decided to reschedule our practices to Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday so that we would have days in between to do our band homework.
April 21, 2015-Josh got his Telecaster and it looks and sounds great! We went over the 60’s and 70’s songs with very little problems. It looks like we are ready to tackle the #1 songs of the 80’s on Thursday!!
April 23, 2015- Went through the 70’s and 8 of the 80’s. We are making progress and some of the songs are really sounding good! Next practice we should get more songs down. All in all, we had a very good practice. I reminded the guys about getting their Bio’s and photos for the web site. Got some work done on the web site…It’s coming along nicely!
April 25, 2015- We are at a point where we will start practicing backwards from 1989 to 1960. I hope by this weekend we can set our sights on the 90’s!! I am getting some major dental work done in the next week or so and am hoping that Josh can take over a lot of the vocals while I am healing. I am going to hook up my Zoom 505 effects pedal. That will give me an acoustic guitar sound with my electric guitars, as well as an arsenal of guitar effects.
April 28, 2015- We got a lot of work done on the 80’s songs, and will do the same practice style with the songs working from 1989 backwards to 1960.
April 30, 2015- We went over all of the songs from the 80’s, and will set up 3-5 songs from the 90’s to start up on for Tuesday. Still need to get Bio’s and Pics from the guys to be able to update the web site.
May 3, 2105- Very good practice. We went over all of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s and for the most part everything grooved. After Albert left, we went over four of the 90’s songs that we might want to do for Tuesday. Josh will try to get us an audition to play the Friday Night Bike Night at the Harley Davidson of Asheville in Swannanoa, NC. We should be ready to do at least a two-hour show.
May 5, 2015- Good practice. Went over the four 90’s songs and they came off well. So far we have been able to stay on course, and that is one of the hardest things for a band to do. Josh will talk to his boss one week from this Thursday to check out the band.
May 9, 2015- Practice was a comedy of errors!!! Of course every band will have them from time to time. We spent most of the time trying to set up the recorder. We tried to record everyone together but that didn’t work because we couldn’t get the right levels because we didn’t mic everyone independently. I think we are going to have to hold off the recording until the band has most if not all of the show down. Rob really gets stressed out when it comes to recording for some reason. With me being on medication for my dental surgery didn’t help matters much either. I left leadership of the band up to the rest of the guys for the practice but that was a fiasco as well. In the future everyone will have to concentrate on the parts they are supposed to cover. I am going to have Josh simplify his electric guitar playing to basically clean guitar with no distortion of effects. As well as playing acoustic guitar for the acoustic parts. We have also been changing songs from the original keys to adapt to Josh’s voice. In these cases, I may have to take back a lot of the lead vocal duties to get the songs sounding right again. Another issue is to ween Josh off of his tablet. It’s okay to a degree in practice, but an eye sore during performances. We need to stay focused and on course with the end goal of the vision of the band and stop getting of course. So far we have covered the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and half of the 90’s. As much as we all want to get out and play, we are starting to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel. There were a couple of songs we really did an injustice to, and therefore I will bring that up to the guys at the next practice.
May 19, 2015- Jeff and Amy from Harley Davidson of Asheville came by and listened to the band, and were very impressed! We got the gig for the first Friday Night Bike Night in Swannanoa on June 6, 2015 at 6:00-8:30PM. I’ll need to get with Jeff for the W-9 and any promo material for the band. After they left the practice session, I enlightened the band about some of the areas of improvement I found through the recordings of the last practice session.
May 21, 2015 – Practice went well. Albert, Rob, and myself went over some of the non #1 songs. When Josh got here we went through the 60’s, 2 of the 70’s and 1 of the 80’s. We plan to work on the songs we need the work on this Saturday. Between now and then I am going to try to figure out the order of the songs for the show. We might start off with “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” or something that starts with acoustic guitar. It’s time for me and the band to kick it into high gear with learning the songs.
May 23, 2015 Josh had to sing again because of my dental situation. I should be good for next Tuesday’s practice. I timed out the songs for the #1’s we have down pretty well so far and they come out to 112 min. With 8 min of talk we can do a non-break show (but we will take at least a 20 min break in the middle of the show). It looks like we have enough material to do the gig with all #1’s! We just need to tighten them up! The plan for after the gig, is to work on the last 5 songs of the 90’s. Then a major focus on the last 15 of the #1’s that will take us up to the present. When we’ve completed that, we can start on the filler songs to work up the rest of the sets to have the two nights’ worth. The light at the end of the tunnel is starting to become visible. When we have 4-5 sets down, I will start looking for one-nighters (Saturday Nights) to book for the band to start getting some paid practices in.
As you can tell this is really a detailed representation of what a band goes through to be able to entertain an audience. continue to follow the blog and see how the performances in the future relate to the hard work practices and rehearsals play in the big picture!!!
Next blog: Gig at the Harley Davidson of Asheville!