Life threw me a curve recently. My wife had a stroke on the 27th of December and has been in the hospital since. The good news is that she should be able to come home this Wednesday. These past weeks I have spent every day at the hospital so I have had little time for anything else including my music. After she gets home and is more on her feet, I will get back to the music. I want to thank everyone for their prayers and support!!!
Eight more days left in 2017, and this is some of what has happened to me this year…
My job is in Gainesville, Florida which is about a half an hour away. We are right around the corner from Christmas and heading into the New Year.
As we are still getting settled in to my new job and our new house, the album has been put on hold for now. I am looking forward to the day when I get my studio all set up and finish the vocals for the album.
I hope to get that underway starting in January of 2018. I found a use for a lot of the rug carpets we brought from North Carolina to Florida. Insulate and sound proof my Studio closet to make a recording booth!!! As I dive into that project I will keep everyone updated as to the progress!!
Till then, Have a safe and memorable 2017 Holiday season!!!
The album is coming along well! Of the ten songs, nine of them have all of the tracks recorded except the vocals. I have one song left to record the electric guitar then that will be ready for the vocals as well. I am really please at the progress of the project and can not wait to share it with all of you! I wanted to get all of the music right first before recording the vocals. One of the songs may have your name in it so stay tuned for the release information.
I am looking forward to the 4th of July for more than just the fireworks. This will be my 20th wedding anniversary!! It has been a great journey so far, and optimistically, I am looking towards the future. Peggy has stood beside me and my musical journey for the past 20 years. With this album I hope to start a new chapter and finally get a good portion of my music out to the world. I have been getting some house cleaning done with the Copyright Office, BMI, Sound Exchange, and CD Baby for starters. This weekend I will be getting back to the recording project.
I do believe I am at the point in the recording process to start adding in the guitars now. I’ll lay down the rhythms first, then on to the leads. It is a little ironic that with me being a guitarist for the most part of my professional musical career, that it would be the next to the last tracks I record on my debut album. The ten songs on this album reflect my take on life and love, with a philosophical lyrical approach. You might hear some classical influences in some of the passages as I drew on my formal study of music from college.
Gibson, Fender, Hartkey, PRS, and Takamine. Those will be run through my Line6 POD HD500X. Oh the sounds I’ll get with that!
Looking forward to getting back in the studio and laying the guitar tracks down, so I’ll say bye for now and catch up with you with my next blog post!!
It would be so kind if you could follow my music on Spotify, add to your playlist and share.
Be safe and have a great 4th of July!
Finally getting back to working on the album!! I’ve been busy as a bee at work and have not had much time to devote to working on the album. So this weekend is a nice treat for me as now I can spend some more time on the project!!! Yeah!!!!!!!!!!!!
I am at the point of laying down the drum tracks for the last three songs on the album. After that I get to do what I am best at; and that is playing guitar. You might figure that I would lay the guitar tracks first. Instead I am recording them next to last (vocals) so the parts can be additive and selective. I am sure you will enjoy the recordings as much if not more than those of which heard me perform live.
Time to go to work/play so that I can get this album done for you!
The album is coming along just fine! I have the main tracks for 6 of the 10 songs recorded so far. This weekend I will work some more on the project, and look forward to making more progress. I am super excited about getting this album out to you!!!
My workflow style may be different than other producers simply because my main instrument is guitar and that will be the next to last track recorded for each song. Right now the songs are sounding real solid without the guitar parts, so when I record those track that will be the icing on the cake!!
I would venture to say that so far the album is a lyrically clever, philosophical take on life and love. The final four songs will determine the overall landscape and persona of this project. I still have yet to consider a title for the album, but that will come about after all of the songs have been recorded and mixed.
The recordings are coming along just fine. Since my last post, I have laid the major tracks down for two (2) more songs. Yesterday I laid down the basic tracks for my fourth (4) song. I am so pleased with the progress as a result of staying on course with the project. I might be including a fiddle player on my song “Gypsy Eyes” to hopefully capture the ambience of Gypsy fiddle music. We will see how that works out. In the meantime, I have taken some of my old songs and revised some of the music and lyrics as well as even the titles. Through the years of playing music, and now getting into the recording/mixing process, I look forward to breathing new life into my songs. As my debut CD will include 10 new songs, there may be one or two previously recorded bonus tracks. I am not sure at the present time which songs will be released as singles. That decision will be made after the album is complete. Stay tuned, and I will keep you updated on the progress here on my blog.
Everybody stay safe on this Easter holiday weekend,
All is well in the studio! I finished all of the MIDI recordings for the first song “Gypsy Eyes”, and am working on the second song “Time Dimensions”. I am working each song from the MIDI functions to lay the ground work for the rest of my original song recordings. I got so buried with trying to record each part for each song in succession that I decided to work on each song by itself to get more in touch with each individual song. I have been making extensive use of VST instrument Plugins and my Pro-Key 88 keyboard. As it stands now, I will be using that for most of the album. I figure to lay down tracks with my electric guitars and vocal parts after finishing up with all of the MIDI parts. I am looking forward to using my line6 pedal board for the various amplifier selections, and multitude of guitar effects. I will be recording these parts next to last (Vocals) so I can maintain the continuity of the sound. I will let everyone else decide exactly which genre box they want to put the songs in.
The album will contain ten original songs, most of which I wrote sometime back.These songs have never been recorded for public release until now. I am very excited about this project and look forward to keeping everyone updated as to the progress, as well as when the album will be available for pre-order and the global release date!!
So stay tuned…
Looks like a big day for Football today. I am a life-long Buccaneers fan, but today it’s ALT!
As for myself, I am still working with the music. I have just set up a template for recording my Drum tracks. Although I have MIDI, I have included some WAV samples of a basic 5-pc kit and a Pearl Drum set to use for my songs. I am not really making up “beats” as much as setting up the actual drum parts/patterns for my songs. As you know I am starting to include cover songs into my catalogue of recordings. As soon as I work out any of the kinks in the process, I will start recording extensively with both covers and originals. I am looking forward to sharing not only my original songs with you, but original and remixed/mastered recordings of many cover songs I have performed in the past. Through this new journey of discovery, some of the songs should bring back memories and grooves of a time when music influenced mine and many others lifestyles.
And yes, some of you have heard me (a guitarist), play the keys. I will be including not only Piano and Organ, but Strings and Synthesizers as well on many of these recordings. The result will be the music that has been in my head for years, finally being put into a cohesive tangible form for everyone else to enjoy the insanity!! Be forewarned that some of the original songs might not quite fit into any mainstream music genres, and to try to place them would be a foolish task.
For all of you that do enjoy my guitar playing…I have a new toy that should prove to be quite versatile in coming up with a variety of tones and effects in the studio! It has 30 different Amps and over 100 Effects all included in the one pedal. I hope I don’t get too carried away with all of the different sounds that I now have available.
On the personal note, I have been dealing with an ear infection which has prevented me from recording and mixing for the present time. I am in good spirits that the healing process won’t take too much longer and I can get back to recording. Setting up the Drum template has been a good thing at just the right time. It has allowed me to continue the recording process by putting tools in place that I will have a great need for later in the recording process. Until the next time, take care, be well, and remember life is just a vacation!!!
Follow me on Spotify and hear my latest releases! Add to your playlist and share with all of your friends!
2016 brought about a lot of changes in everyone’s life.
Here in the Randall Lee world we saw the end of “The High Court” band, The release of an original song (6.7.8.) on TouchTunes jukeboxes nationally, the release of two cover tunes “If” and “Summertime Blues”, a blog that was as lengthy as a short novel, and retirement from public performances. That was just a little of what transpired in the music world of Randall Lee!!!
On the animal side of things, we lost our dog “Dixie” and our cat “Diablo” this year. But on the happier side of thing we did get a new cat “Hank”! He is a great addition to the family, but I think his accelerator is stuck on wide open!! I guess I should say kitten instead of cat. He has enough energy to keep Peggy busy non-stop!
Work is the best it has been in decades! In two years I have advanced two pay grades, as well as get to work from home every other week. When I do go in to the “office”, I only have to work four days of that week. It really is a sweet deal!!
All in all it’s been a good year, and I look forward to the new year! I do have plans to market some of my recordings through digital distributions, but beyond that…let’s just say we’ll leave that to the future.
Here are some links for you to check out:
http://bit.ly/2hX2Pzz http://bit.ly/2ip7FXF http://bit.ly/2hWRjnW http://bit.ly/2hWSkfJ http://bit.ly/2hWO27Z http://bit.ly/29ooIWJ
I want to wish everyone a very safe and Happy New Year!!!
I want to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! I hope Santa brought some of what was on your wish lists, if not everything!!!
Here are a couple more of my tunes for you to enjoy!!
I have just released two songs you might be familiar with. Here is the information so you can listen to (stream) and/or download (real cheap):
CD Baby, Apple iTunes, Groove, Spotify, Deezer, Google Music Store, Rumblefish, Slacker Radio, Shazam, YouTube Music, Tidal, Akazoo, 8tracks, kkbox, Pandora, and Line Music…so far. http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/randalllee25
CD Baby, Apple iTunes, Groove, Spotify, Deezer, Google Music Store, Rumblefish, Slacker Radio, Shazam, YouTube Music, Tidal, Akazoo, 8tracks, kkbox, Pandora, and Line Music…so far.
I am sure you will enjoy the tunes enough to add them to your playlists on any and all devices.
For Christmas I’ve decided to make some of my cover tunes available. I am waiting for the licensing to go through the process on two cover songs:
This song was originally done by Bread and David Gates. I have always thought it was such a great love song, that I just had to record it. I am waiting for CD Baby to secure the licensing so you can download it and/or stream it from your favorite streaming sites. I will keep you posted as to when it comes out to the world via internet. When it does share the links with everyone you know and just maybe it will climb up the charts. I hope you enjoy my version of the song and add it to your playlists on your smart phones, tablets, and computers.
This is the second cover tune I am releasing for streaming and downloads. It is the Eddie Cochran song “Summertime Blues”! I hope my friend and fan from work (Raymond) checks out this version. I am sure he will enjoy it as well as everyone else. I know we have a few more months to go before we get to summer, but this is the type of song that can make you forget about the freezing cold weather we’re getting right now. These songs will be available shortly through CD Baby, Amazon, and streaming on sites like Spotify and Pandora.
I will keep everyone updated on the progress of the release of these two cover songs. So if you like these songs show your support any way you can!!!
Merry Christmas and have a great and Happy New Year!!!
For those of you that do follow my blog, I just wanted to let you know that I am still working on recording “Gypsy Eyes”! It is a process that takes a little time to get the right sound for each instrument. At the present time I am working on getting the keyboards to sounding right. The next phase may be the bass line to set up the bottom end. Until then continue to check out my website and links to social media.
I was trying to figure out how I would approach the bridge of the song when I came across some of my Theory & Composition homework from college. It turns out one of my many homework assignments (which I got an “A” in – of course) was the perfect fit for the bridge. It’s a Bohemian style of a voice leading keyboard progression in the key of “E minor”. This will be a challenging modulation as the relative minor of “E” is “C#m” and not “Em”. But the tonality around “E” will make the rest of the harmony structure interesting. The trick will be re-entering the last chorus. I am looking forward to that!!!
I am currently working on the arrangement and the orchestration of the song to start laying down a tangible scratch track. I’ll keep you posted on that progress as it develops. From time to time I will give you a sneak peek of the recording process, so stay tuned to the blog, and for goodness sake subscribe to it because, this will be the main platform for sharing the development of the project.
I’ll be back in a week with next week’s blog…Tune in and enjoy!!!
Here is where YOU become part of the process, and it will take less than one minute!!!
Listen to the first half of the first verse in the Key of “C”, then listen to the first half of the first verse in the Key of “E”. You vote on which “Key” you like best, and the most votes decide which key this song will be recorded in. This is only the basic recording of the first part of the first verse of the song just for you, the fans to decide which key I will record the song in. I want to thank everyone ahead of time from the bottom of my heart!!!
Song #1: Gypsy Eyes.
I wrote this song in 1991 and copyrighted it old school (Manuscript). I interfaced my keyboards so I could get the exact score that I had written back then. I was a bit surprised to hear a lot of classical influence in the piano parts. Now it is time to breathe some new life into this song, add the additional years of experience, and incorporate today’s new technologies to it. I am looking forward to recording the newest version of “Gypsy Eyes”!!!
So, a little about the song: My brother and I were talking one day, and the concept about the eyes being windows to the soul came up. That set the songwriting gears in motion. As I thought about how not too many things in this world are constant (not counting death & taxes), I realized that no matter how much we plan out our life, in the end we are all like gypsies going through our time here on earth. Yes, we may have a home and live in the same place for all of our lives, but every day is still a journey fraught with many twists and turns. I wrote the lyrics to reflect that concept. The music was basically written to support a simple melody line. I did try to include some of my Theory & Composition knowledge to keep the music respectable. Now I’ll dive deeper into the (re)creation of this song about life.
The first track I recorded was a MIDI (Scratch) track of the piano part. I’ll use this as the foundation in which to build the rest of the song upon. The tempo is about 110=mm, in the key of C or E (You decide), the meter is 4/4, and it is in ABABCB form. Here are the opening lyrics:
You were born to see into the hearts of men,
and know how to look into the soul of a woman.
We learn a lot in this crazy life through Gypsy Eyes…
The new musical journey begins as the past 46 years has been packaged up, and is ready to be relegated to the stories of the past and delivered to the realms of memories. I want to thank everyone that read my blog up to this point. In doing so, you are privy to the back story of how I got to this point in my life with my music. From this point on, I will be writing this blog about the current process of my songwriting and the recording of my original songs. I am grateful for all of the musicians that have come in and out of my life, and would not trade the experiences for anything. With the many years of playing music, there will be musicians that are not mentioned in my blog. This would be because there have been so many gigs and jam sessions, that it’s difficult to remember everyone. If you are one of these few…leave a comment to help remind me, and let’s get back in touch.
The first part of this new journey is to record all of my copyrighted songs into a collection (which some people may call an album). Since I went to college for Music Theory & Composition and learned music notation, all of my copyrighted material was submitted with a form PA and written by hand in manuscript. The first step will be to decide which song to record, what key to do it in, and how to arrange it. I have MIDI software and I can transfer the notation of the original copyrights into actual musical notes. This will be part of the recording process (so as to keep the original creation of the idea in tack). Since I am predominantly a guitar player, a lot of the songs might lean a bit heavy on the guitar side of instrumentation.
My main recording rig is a Dell Dimension E520 (computer), Nuendo 3 (software), Behringer HENYX Q1202 USB (interface), SM57 Sure (microphone), and a Line6 POD HD500X (guitar processor). My Instruments: Bass-Hartkey, Guitars-Gibson (B-25 Acoustic, Les Paul Jr., The Paul), Fender (Telecaster), Paul Reed Smith (Custom 24), and Takaminie (F-385). Keyboards-Stage Piano M-Audio ProKey 88, and a Moog-The Rouge synthesizer. These are the main instruments you will hear on just about every recording.
My direction in music now is not to be associated with the “Starving Artist” syndrome. I have a great career with the Department of Veteran affairs, and a retirement in place for the near future. If any residuals are to be derived from my music, well that’s just great! And if so, it will be a product of the DIY American dream. The main goal however, is to share all of the songs I have written so far with everyone that has an interest in new and original music. After recording all of the songs that I currently have copyrighted, my efforts will turn to writing/copyrighting new songs and recording them to share as well.
I have no intention of trying to secure a recording, development, or distribution contract with any major or indie labels, so my original music will only be available through me. I will make each song available online for streaming and as a download. The album (when completed) will be available for purchase as a CD. I will have links where you can find these songs as they become available. Until then, follow the blog, leave lots of likes, shares, and comments.
This will be basically a solo album project since I will be playing all of the instruments. So strap on your seat belt and get ready for a journey that will take you through the complete process of recording my first solo album project. Who knows where this will go, but you will have the opportunity to follow it step by step from the beginning. I will try to add some pictures, sound bites, and/or webcasts to the blog as the project develops. I look forward to sharing the songs I have written with you, to share with everyone you think would like my music. Help spread the love!!!
Next blog…You are part of the process!
June 9, 2015- The gig went great except for the rain! Even the people were dancing, enjoying the music, and having a good time. The rains came and we had to cover all of the equipment. Then the rain was over in about 20 minutes so we uncovered the equipment and started playing again. We spent this practice day discussing the gig and where we could make it better.
June 25, 2015-Aside from the standard practice routine, we are trying out Taylor to be our “Sound Man”. So far he has just been listening to the band and playing on his cell phone. That may be taking away for the focus we need from our sound man. We’ll see if it is going to be a problem during next practice and address it then.
July 6, 2015- The practices are going well, so the band notes from now on will be about any issues or events instead of how the practices are going. I have been looking for places to book the band and it seems like we may have to increase some of the “Country” songs to be more viable to the local market.
July 11, 2015- The band is really staying on track with practices and rehearsals. Asheville does not have a very fertile cover band scene. It seems that having to pay ASCAP or BMI is an issue. The local original scene however is very much alive and well. We are on the home stretch now with the #1’s and soon will be working on crowd favorites that didn’t make it to number one on the charts. Checked out “Cowboy’s Lounge”, and talked with owners Tonya & James (introduced by son/bartender: Brandon) about booking the band. Tonya said she would contact us Monday to set something up. She said they are always looking for local bands for Saturday nights. We did get a gig here in Asheville at a place called ‘The Sly Grog’ on August 22, 2015.
July 18, 2015- Had a great practice. We went over the last of the #1’s for the 2000’s. We now have 50 songs to work with. For Monday’s practice we’ll work our way back from 2009 to 1960. I knew if we stayed on course, we would achieve our goals.
July 25, 2015-We got blindsided by Albert today. He decided to quit the band. He said that his heart was just not into the country music aspect of the program. When he pulled up with his SUV, and walked up to the house without his drumsticks are cooler, that was a sign that he had made up his mind and there’s nothing we could have done to change it. I feel even if we had changed the song list to a full on classic rock show, nothing would’ve changed his mind. That lends me to think there may have been more than just the material we were playing. That being said the rest of us in the band are going to stay the course. We are at the 55 number ones that we set out to do, and will continue to practice them. We are looking for a new drummer and hope to have one in the next week or two. If not, we may have to cancel the sly grog gig. I really hope that does not happen because it would make it more difficult for us to get booked here in the Asheville area in the future. We will just have to wait and see what happens.
July 28, 2015-we have three drummers coming over for auditions, and two others they’re willing to help out by filling in for Sly Grog gig. The perspective drummers will need to show us about 5 min. of drum solo work so we can see if they can play the drums and at what level. Then we will need to go over some of the songs in our list that they know to see if they can be a fit for the band. We will need to make our choice by the third or fourth of August.
July 29, 2015-Ozzie was okay but pretty much like Gary at the skill level. My first impression is to not go with him and see what other type are drummers are out there. Tomorrow we will check out Chris, then Friday Mark, and Sunday Michael. I hope somewhere in the mix we find a really good drummer.
July 30, 2015-Chris was impressive. He had good meter and knew most of the songs. He is definitely a candidate in the running. He showed that he knew where the backup vocals were, although we didn’t have him mic-ed up to sing. If we go with him that will happen. We will let everyone know by Wednesday if not sooner. I’m thinking possibly by Tuesday if the drummer from the Out of Luck band tries out by Monday. If he can’t make it Monday, we might make the decision that. If so we will only contact the winner and get to practicing.
July 31, 2015-Mark did a good job and has a good voice. He seemed to be up with the variety of material and technically proficient with it. His situation with his current band may be a problem. He can only get together Thursdays and Sundays here in the near future. That might be a problem with getting together for the Grog, whereas Chris would have no problem with getting together. We have another drummer (Michael), coming over Sunday. We will see where that takes us. Rob will get with the Outta Luck Band Drummer-Wayne, and maybe set up something. It would have to be Monday or at the latest Tuesday to be able to make the decision. After that we will get back on the stick, and get ready for the Sly Grog gig on the 22nd.
August 2, 2015-Michael only knew about seven songs on the list, of which only one that I sing. We play around with some other songs just to get a feel of how he played. For the most part he was okay, but not really what we were looking for. He was a little better than Ozzie, but not anywhere near Chris or Mark. I think I might swap songs with Josh–When you say nothing at all for Boot Scootin’ Boogie. I have more vocal power to do the Brooks & Dunn where he has a style that would make the Keith Whitley song more intimate. Unless Rob can get Wayne here for an audition on Tuesday, we will have one last drummer to audition (David).
August 5, 2015-we made the decision to go with David Costello. Chris had a family situation with his wife having a serious accident. Mark would not return our phone calls. Ozzie backed out, and Michael was too much of a light blues drummer.
August 6, 2015-we had our first practice with David Costello. We basically got him settled in, set up, and went over a few songs. I made a copy of our song lists on his thumb drive including the MP3s.
August 7, 2015-during our next practice we went over songs he knew well, that I also sing well. We also went over songs he was familiar with. I did sing a few of the songs that Josh normally sings just for David to get the feel for them.
August 8, 2015 we made a lot of headway during this practice session. We got through the 60s, 70s, and 80s. We will go through the 90s on Monday as well as going over anything from the previous decades. Through the week we will review all of the songs to date and hopefully go over the 2000 and-2010s. Maybe by the week of the gig we can touch on the 2010-2015 songs. I am thinking of bringing my CAT scan and video recorders to record the gate. This time I will take care of all of that, and it will be done. As for now, the concentration is on getting ready for the gig. I might play this gig without the keyboards and just go with the guitar. It would keep things simple, and I would be able to have less confusion to set up the recorder and cameras.
August 20, 2015-Yesterday we had our last practice before the Sly Grog Lounge gig .
August 22, 2015-Sly Grog Lounge gig at 8:00 PM with a five-dollar cover charge. We plan to record and film the band for an A/V demo for Internet and promotional purposes.
September 27, 2013-as of today, the High Court may be going back to a three-piece band. Our friend Josh is going back to Pennsylvania to be with his son. We hate to lose him, and will miss him but totally understand that family comes first. It looks like I will end up singing most of the songs in the band again.
October 31, 2015-as of late, we have since proceeded as a three-piece band. As in the past, many times I’ve had to become the lead singer. At least this time everybody is doing a little singing to help out. I guess I just have to resolve myself to being a front man. Sometimes it would be cool to just play guitar or just saying without having to do both at the same time as frequently as I have to. I think after we have got the showdown, I want to focus on recording original songs, and see where that leads to. Until then, the band is chugging right along with rehearsals, and are real close to having the sets organized and ready to perform. I need to work on memorizing the lyrics to a few songs. Our new goal is to be playing out somewhere around Thanksgiving.
November 10, 2015-the band is coming along as well is expected. We’re getting the songs down and our seeming to gel pretty well with each other. We are back to being a three-piece band, but that’s okay as that is how the band formed in the first place and how the band is played out for most of its history.
I have set a goal for myself. I want to record 6.7.8. Which is one of my original songs. This will be the three verse version. After I get a decent recording of it, I will update the copyright/publishing rights and put it out to the world for download and streaming only. I will have to get as much promotion, airplay, club/dance play as possible on a worldwide arena. I hope to release this version on January 1, 2016. I hope to get it plastered on as many Internet radio stations as possible through the rest of the winter and into the spring. I hope to make a music video for it in the summer, and released that by the end of the summer. I look forward to the challenge of do it yourself, and succeed in the music/artist/singer/songwriter arena. Maybe down the road, if the band gets into the recording group, we might include on an album later. As for now I just want to get it recorded and released on January 1, 2016!!
January 1, 2016-I reach my goal with 6.7.8. Ahead of time. It will be on Touch Tunes on January 7, 2016 nationwide, and in a competition for promotion with touch tunes and Warner Bros. records.
May 29, 2016-it has been quite a while since I entered anything into the notes of the Excel sheet that we used for band notes and such. We (David, Rob, and I) have played quite a few gigs at the American Legion Post number 47 in Waynesville North Carolina. The folks there are a great bunch of people to play music for!!!
The band is getting away from the original vision of planning number ones first, then adding other songs to fill up the show. I am working on getting us back on track… Even if I have to do it just by adding number one songs that I sing. I have come up with a list of number ones that I can do for solo gigs, and now I just need to learn, practice, and start introducing them to the band. As always, people (including my band-mates) don’t always listen. Therefore, I have to get back to staying on course, and not let their lack of vision and focus get in the way of achieving that goal. At the present time we have all of Rob’s PA equipment in my upstairs music room. We have added to-18 inch, 2500 Watt sub-woofers to the sound system. I tried to get the guys in the band to sign a ban contract, but that was rejected. Since they (primarily David) rejected the contract, we are simply side musicians to each other with no legal commitments. Because of that, I am limited with not being able to include the band into productions, promotions, recording (as a band), or marketing endeavors that may have with my originals. I have tried since day one to get multitrack recordings of the band as well as video footage to put together a music video promo. This direction has been consistently undermined with no forward progress on those projects.
May 31, 2016-Rob came over today and I had a little talk with him. I told him that we were getting away from the original vision of the band (playing number one songs) and that as far as I was concerned for myself, I was going to get back on course. I said if he and David wanted to do songs that were not number ones, I was cool with it but I wouldn’t be singing anything but number one songs. I also voice my opinion on the booking cluster-fuck. I also mentioned about the equipment that we have to lug up and down stairs, when I have a working PA system right here. He seemed to be okay with my viewpoint. He doesn’t want to rock the boat would David, but knows that I’m strong-willed and absolute in my decision about the number ones. He even put the song She Cranks My Tractor on the back burner for Chantilly Lace. I will finally get a chance to do some rockabilly piano for that sum. I also talked with him about how crappy and amateur we sounded at our last performance, and letting him know that we really need to get back to being serious about the songs. I am not sure how David is going to take this, but it seems like his agenda is more out for David and not about the band… I really don’t care. I think Rob is more concerned about that than I am. I told peg that this would probably be the last incarnation of The High Court. If it does flame out, then I’ll give up on the band thing, and start working on recording all of my originals.
June 4, 2016-we had band practice today and it went pretty well. I did not talk with David anymore about my goals with the number one’s. I don’t feel that it’s worth the negative confrontations, and he’s starting to realize this as I am not singing any non-number one songs.
June 11, 2016-I put a song list together for us to practice starting with number ones from 1960 forward. At one point in the practice, Rob wanted to get off track and play as original. Although I am for playing original songs, I felt our practice sessions would be better served by staying the course and sticking to the list. When Rob heard that Chantilly lace was on the list, he told me that he wasn’t going to play that for this Saturday night. Since it is such an easy song, I might sing it myself. I’ll need to let him know to at least learn the basic parts for the song.
June 18, 2016-David Costello called me last night, and was having a bone about the song list. He told me he wouldn’t play if we’re going to play the song list that included mostly number one songs. I reminded him that this was the vision of the band before he even came on board, and he agreed to it upon joining the band. He turned around and ended up texting Rob and then calling Rob to tell him he was quitting the band. This happened one night before the gig. Blindsided by yet another drummer. I am not sure where Rob, and I are going from here as far as the band goes. He will be coming over this afternoon, so we will take it from there. It has been a year and a half since we started down this road. I am ready to call it a day with the band, and adjourn The High Court. After meeting with Rob we have decided to formally and officially adjourn The High Court.
Next blog: The new musical journey begins…
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!
Making another life changing decision to pick up everything and move north to Indiana, was really a solution to a spiraling out of control downward situation. Even though I was working a lot of overtime hours, and Peg was working; the crash of the housing market, with the addition of a house guest was more than we could financially bear. Peg was ready to retire, and I was ready to change my situation and surroundings. The financial crisis caused us to lose the house to a foreclosure, and declare bankruptcy. With nothing holding us back, we made the journey to Markle, Indiana. In the winter of 2010 we packed the largest U-Haul truck & trailer we could rent, loaded all of our belongings, the cat and dog, and moved from the tropical sands of Florida to the snowy winter of the American heartland of corn and soy beans; Markle, Indiana.
I found work within the first week and started making the “paycheck”. Our landlords were friends of ours. Bill played guitar and had his Christian band. I sat in with him from time to time because he was a very close friend. The bass player (Terry) thought I was trying to move in and take over the band, which couldn’t have been farther from the truth. He didn’t like me much at that time. Funny thing is, later down the road when he realized I was just helping Bill out, things began to change. We would play at a Mission in Ft. Wayne, Indiana once a week for some homeless folks to give them a little inspiration. My friend Bill has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know!
I was looking for more of a commercial situation for my music (as this is what I had been doing for most of my life) and did not really think much about getting into the scene of playing with a church band. I’m not saying I’m an atheist or anything like that, it’s just I had always played secular music and that was what I knew best. I found that with two different groups there. One group consisted of a bass player and female drummer neither of which could/would sing. This left all of the vocal duties to me. I had no problem with that until they wanted to do songs that were way out of my range. Sometimes you can change the key of a song to a degree, but the more you do the more you lose the feeling of the song (as well as being able to re-create the riffs). The second group consisted of a drummer and a guitar player that wanted to swap bass duties. Now I can play a little bass, but by no means am I a bass player. That eventually became a bit of a problem when our audiences started telling the band leader that he needed to keep me on the guitar, because it was obvious that I was a better guitarist than the other guy. Of course this didn’t sit well with the other guy so he quit. Without a bass player, that band fizzled out as well.
I connected with a bass player (Dave Hilt) from Fort Wayne that seemed to be totally professional. He told me how he had played with this person, and that person, and was looking to get something going. He knew a drummer (Kenny Wylie) and the two of them had been jamming for quite a while. So I checked it out. We started the band pretty much as most cover bands do with writing down song lists, and going through some of the songs to see which one would work and what not. Time went on and all he wanted to do was talk about what we were going to do. This got frustrating quickly not only to me, but I could tell the Kenny was losing patience as well. But like all good rock bands, we forged on. I let Dave know that I had received my certification as a television producer in Clearwater, Florida and that when we, as a band were ready, that I could do all of the video promo work. I had the lights, cameras, green screens, software, teleprompter, and most of all, the know how to use it. Now you’ll need to know that Dave had his hands in a lot of things including managing another band. He asked me if I would do a promo for this other band. I told him that I would but in a professional capacity. He agreed and we signed a contract. I guess he thought that if he played in a band with me, he didn’t have to honor the contract. After hours of filming and editing the promo it was done. He and the band didn’t like it because I had put a watermark on it. I told him, when I’m paid in full the watermark would come off. I learned from that experience to get a non-refundable fee up front before doing any filming. Needless to say that the band I was in with Dave didn’t go any further. But wait…there is a twist to the story.
The drummer (Kenny) decided to continue playing music with me if I was interested (which I was). Now we needed a bass player…the twist…remember Terry (the bass player that thought I was going to take over my friend Bill’s band). Bill knew we needed a bass player and talked Terry into checking it out. Terry checked it out and became the bass player for the newly reformed band called, “The High Court”.
The High Court was back in session in Indiana! We rehearsed our asses off, and got really good. We all partied, so the name was once again appropriate! We got our first gig at the American Legion in Huntington, Indiana and the band went over great. I remember telling the guys that since we went over so good that night, that we had it in us to really be a great band and now is the time to really up the game. But tragedy struck one week later to the hour of our performance. Our drummer Kenny Wylie (Stycks) passed away from a heart attack. Terry and I decided to keep the band going because we knew that is what Kenny would have wanted. At this Terry and decided to keep the band going (as this is what Kenny would have wanted) and we auditioned some more drummers.
We decided on a drummer named Chuck McCoy. He was a great drummer. When I told him of how we lost our last drummer, it might have seemed to him like a bad omen. My wife must have really topped it off when she made some brownies and said, “here’s your brownies Chuck” (in a Hansel & Greta kind of witch voice). Three weeks later tragedy would strike again when Terry passed away from a heart attack as well. I was totally shaken at the passing of two very good friends and band mates so close together. The High Court was again stopped in its tracks. May my musical brothers rest in peace.
I didn’t play for a long time after that, and when I did, my heart and mind really was not in to it.
I stopped partying, and playing music, went back to college and earned my degree in Visual Communications. I did this going to school full time and working sometimes 14/hrs per day in manufacturing/production jobs. I graduated with honors (Magna Cum Laude) and was accepted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. Soon after graduation, I got a position with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Asheville, NC! A veteran helping veterans!!! One of my most enjoyable classes in college was photography!
I’ll share just a few examples of my photography to this installment of the blog for you to like and share.
These are a few examples of my photography. I hope you enjoy them enough to share them with your friends.
Next blog: The musical journey continues in western North Carolina…
Before I continue with my next blog, I am going to share some more pics of the musical journey from Florida. I recently retrieved data from another one of my computers and found some more pics of the musical journey in Florida. Here are a few of them.
St. Pete Gigs
90 Degree Artist
Hard Rock in Key West
90 Degrees Video Shoot.
The next blog will be the continued saga of my musical journey.
The journey revisits the past when “The High Court” reconvenes in 2005 with Rob Emmett on bass, David McPherson on Drums, and myself on Vocals, Guitars, and Keyboards. We changed the logo to portray a more “politically correct” image than we had the early days of the “Court”. With this new version of the band we played half of the songs Country, and played the other half Rock. This was an easy step as both Rob and Dave had played previously with me in the Dixie Rollers. We played a few gigs at the AM-VETS Post #8. One night two guys came in from the band “Whiskey Smith”, and told me they were going to steal my drummer away. Sure enough they did. It wasn’t that they were better than us, it was just that they had more gigs lined up. During those sessions with the High Court, Rob Emmett and I went through a lot of drummers. We played the American Legions in Tampa and St. Petersburg Florida, as well as a variety of other clubs, and parties. Here are some pictures of some of the drummers that had played with The High Court around that time.
By now I let my hair grow out a little and lost the ‘stash’. Here are some more pics from that time:
Then came the day I cut my hair for the “Locks for Love” charity:
When I finally met Randall Iearna, not only did he become my drummer and friend, but he also was the producer for my first CD titled “2 From the Suitcase”. Randall had heard one of my songs online and thought it was pretty good. The song was titled “New York Crazy”. That was until he heard my song “90 Degrees”. The title of the CD is “2 From The Suitcase”. The reason being, my wife chose those 2 songs from a suitcase containing a bunch of my songs and the concept just stuck. After the blog about this journey of 46 years, I’ll start recording the rest of them and take you on a new journey of the process!!!
Randall wanted to get me recorded in a professional studio to see what we could do with some of my original songs. We recorded an updated version of “New York Crazy”, and another song of mine titled “90 Degrees”. These songs can be found for download at: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/randalllee ! On upon finally completing this CD, we went on a mini promotional tour in various venues around the area. From a Mall in Clearwater to the top of the Pier in St. Petersburg everyone had a chance to hear some of my songs!!!
I sent out copies of the CD to hundreds of radio stations. During one of our gigs at Sneaky D’s, a lady came up and told me that the song (90°) was her mother’s favorite song. I asked her where her mother was and she said that she lived in Huntsville Alabama. And that she had heard that song on the radio. Both songs reached number one on various Internet radio stations, and music sites. During the time Randall was our drummer, we had a pretty good long running gig at a bar called “Sneaky’ D’s” in St. Petersburg, Florida. We played there as well as many other gigs around St. Petersburg and Tampa for quite a while. Throughout that time, we went through a handful of drummers but my bass player Rob Emmett was as solid a friend as he was a bass player.
I did make a music video for the song “90 Degrees”, so please favorite, like, and share it with all of your friends. Here is the YouTube link: https://youtu.be/NdAf0Axc4-s It was a blast putting it all together (TY Zack!). Yes, there is a meaning depicted in the video…
I continued playing with “The High Court” in Florida until I moved up to Indiana where my wife wanted to retire. Along the way, while still in Florida, I auditioned for the TV shows: “Nashville Star”, and “America’s Got Talent”. Neither one panned out, and maybe it was for the best. The year Kevin Skinner won they told me that I was good, but they were looking for great! I guess some of the people in the music industry think that someone that forgets the lyrics and chords to songs on stage, and sings off key is great…maybe I needed a back story that has nothing to do with musical talent. But what do I know…go figure! I continued to do some recordings and videos while in Florida so here are a few of my studio and me recording.
As well, there are some other Music Videos of mine on my YouTube Channel and you are more than welcome to like, comment, favorite, and share my channel with all of your family and friends. During the time I recorded in my “Garage” home studio, I had a chance to lay down tracks for a lot more of my original songs. I will continue to work on them, refine them, and polish them up for my debut album! The release date, and title of the album is still to be determined.
One last note for the musical journey in Florida is to mention the “Moondogs”. This was the last band I played with in Florida. We were somewhat of a Rockabilly band and had a great time. There was Dave DeArmit on bass, Mark Nathan on guitar, Frank Baptie on drums, and myself. These were a bunch of great guys and we made some really good recordings thanks to Mark!
Next blog: Making another life changing decision…
I got rid of the excess baggage after returning to Florida, went back to work, and started engaging in more musical and entertainment enterprises. Two of those enterprises that I had endeavored in, were modeling and acting. Some of the acting included an extra in the movie “Coup De Ville” at the Greyhound track in Tampa, Florida, and television commercials for the home shopping network. Some of my modeling and promotional photographs may be seen below. Of course models have a swimsuit shoot, so I included just one. I was much younger then, as we all were in the early 90’s! Musicians have to find other avenues of income when they’re not playing gigs. I just happened to live on the Gulf Coast of Florida at the time. Some of the best back drops in the world for film, movies, music videos, and just enjoying the beach!
While doing the modeling and acting thing, I hooked up with a couple of musicians and did some duo work. One musician in particular was a guy that went by “Kicker”. We played in the Ocala area of Florida for a private party (for a really good price). The funny thing about that gig was, after we had finished playing, the guy that hired us wanted to play some pool for money. I asked him if he was sure he wanted to do that, and he was insistent. After more than tripling my earnings from playing music in a very short time, he decided to call it a day. Sometimes in the music/entertainment world, the things that happen off stage can be just as entertaining as what happens while performing. Through the years of playing gigs and having slow nights, I had accumulated a lot of time on pool tables and had gotten pretty good.
I did the modeling, acting, side musician, and duo deals for another year. Then in 1995, I joined up with a family band (Black Diamond) in Riverview, Florida. We played pretty steady at the Showman’s Club until there was family dissension which broke the band up. I remember showing up for the gig, seeing my amp was over in the corner, and no band set up on stage. So I loaded it up, headed back home, and started looking for another band.
I continued to play as a side man, hit the jam sessions, talent contests, and started copyrighting and recording some of my original songs. One of the places I used to frequent was “Joyland Country Music Nightclub”. I met Lari White at a talent contest, (before she made it big in Nashville) and she told me that she thought I should have won that contest. I thought that was such a nice thing to say, and that this was a real classy lady! I was the first one to introduce “Friends in Low Places” to the club. I learned the song about a week after it came out. I just knew it was a cool song destined to be a hit. I was also the only one to date that played “Freebird” wireless, jumping off of the stage to walk around the whole club playing the leads note for note. At the time (the 90’s), country music was not the more southern rock influenced as it is today, so playing Lynyrd Skynyrd in a hard core country club might have been a little ahead of its time. Here are some pics of me playing live in Joyland in the 90’s. Wow it seems like the “fashion” hasn’t changed in 25 years!! Oh! Sorry, I forgot…I’m ahead of my time!! I still have the 1960 Gibson Les Paul Jr. seen in the photographs though. That guitar has seen more gigs in the 35 years that I’ve owned it, than I can remember. And I was the one playing it! LOL……
I let the facial hair grow out a little, but eventually lost the beard and kept the ‘stash’, and then around the mid to late 90’s, I connected with another family band (Ozark). Somehow we got it all together in a very short period of time and was out doing gigs all around the Gulf Coast area. We played a benefit for St. Jude’s, then on to a whole bunch of country gigs. We stayed pretty busy playing cover tunes even playing the “Strawberry Festival” at the Florida State Fairgrounds. It’s a pretty big deal in February in Florida when the strawberries get ripe. Shawn Norton, the lead singer wrote an awesome song about the fall of Savannah during the civil war. We recorded it but I don’t know if he did anything with it. We had a ton of promo pictures taken, and we really did look like a bunch of Outlaws!
Ozark was a great band but the Achilles heel for them was, it was not professionally managed. I was replaced by a lesser skilled guitarist (because of “connections”), and soon the band went downhill from there and broke up. I have no hard feelings and enjoyed the ride while I was on that train. Sometime down the road I even played a couple of gigs with the bass player’s (Don Phillips) band “Bullseye”.
In 1999, I started jamming with 4 other musicians: Tom-Guitar, John-Guitar, Rick-Bass, and Lee-Drums. We never really had a name, but we were a “Guitar Army” and played a lot of Southern Rock. When we finally got out and played 3 gigs (2 clubs and a Halloween party). I thought we might be a long standing band because one of the clubs we played, was one of the hardest in the area to get a gig in. It turned out to be just another part of the journey.
In 2003, I met Rob Emmett, (a bass player that was playing guitar at the time) who introduced me to Mark Evert. Mark had a band called the Dixie Rollers. I auditioned with them at a jam session, and as the journey continues, I started playing with them as their lead guitarist and additional lead vocalist. We had a great time, played steady, and gave the opportunity to really sink my teeth into some great songs. The bass (Tommy) player was a state champion bass player, and his brother (Timmy) was the Drummer. We predominantly played the Am Vets Post #8 in St. Pete on the weekends and as the host band for jam sessions on Sunday afternoon. It seemed like there was always a great turn out with that band. Then late in 2004 Mark got some terrible news about an illness in the family. The band disbanded and we all went our separate ways. Dave and Rob liked playing music with me and since we all got along really well, we decided to keep on playing music together. So what were we going to call this new three-piece outfit?
Next blog: The journey revisits the past…
From Florida to the lights of Vegas was the next big musical adventure in 1992, via a Grey Hound Bus, and a little detour. My sister Cheryl, was getting ready to have a baby [my niece Nicole], and my younger brother Alan was in the Air Force stationed elsewhere at the time and just couldn’t be there at that time. So I left Florida, got on the bus and went to Tucson, Arizona to try to help out. Since the music scene in Florida was not really popping at the time, and there was not much going on in the regular employment arena, this was a much needed diversion. I did take an amplifier, and my 1960 Gibson Les Paul Jr. in an oversized guitar case big enough to put my clothes and things in (on the road again) and got on the bus Gus. I got settled in and in a short time and started doing some jamming in the area. One of the highlights was jamming on stage with the guys from the backup band of Bob Wills (I’m on the left with some of the original Texas Playboys). The fiddle player George was really quite good, and the rest of the guys made me feel right at home. I really didn’t do any paying gigs there in Arizona, although I did jam with an Air Force F-16 instructor pilot. After Nicole was born and Cheryl was doing okay, I headed north to my brother’s place in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Las Vegas was definitely a 24/7 town! When I first got there I worked at a lumber yard with my older brother David. He and my sister Debbie put me up in their place until I wore out my welcome. I eventually got my feet on the ground and went to work as a guitarist and backup singer with “You Can Be a Star” finalist, Daryl Cain and his band “The Mavericks”. We played enough gigs to get noticed and gain some buzz in Vegas. A reporter came by one of our gigs and did a story on us. The problem was when the story came out, it was more about me, (and how good an entertainer I was) then about Daryl or the rest of the band. When the article came out later that week it didn’t sit well with Daryl, and I was let go “in the interest of the band”. I guess an ego can be a dangerous thing, but also a necessary evil for an entertainer.
I started rehearsing with another band that ended up putting the cart before the horse. I knew they were not ready to publicly perform, but the other guitar player insisted they were ready. They ended up doing an audition gig (without me, or my knowledge at the time) at a club and basically got booed off stage. I found this out later when they told me they were dissolving the band. They ended up getting black listed in a lot of the casinos.
From that point on I pretty much just did side work, and fill in jobs as a guitar slinger for hire. I played a lot more as a side musician than I did working in a band. One of the gigs I really enjoyed was at a “Wet-n-Wild” with a band called Texas Gold. It was a hot day, a great audience, alcohol, and a lot of Bikinis with drunk girls in them! Here is another picture of me with my favorite electric guitar (my 1960 Gibson Les Paul Jr.)!
One night I was playing fill in, and a record executive from Black Horse Studios in Nashville was there checking out the front man of the band I was working with. All I knew was it was a paying gig, so I was working. The front man was trashed that evening, so I was left holding it all together. I sang most of the songs and we pulled the gig off and had a pretty good night. I was very glad about that. Before the executive left, he gave me his card and told me that he liked my singing, playing, and entertaining, and if I was ever in Nashville to come see him. I thought to myself well this looks promising. I ended up staying in Las Vegas for about two years playing as a side man for various bands and entertainers.
When I had enough of the 24/7 lifestyle of gambling, drugs, and rock ‘n roll; I decided to head back to Florida to slow my life down a little bit and clean out. From the lights of Vegas back to the sunshine state in 1994 was quite the road trip. I had been 2 years out west and I was ready to head back east. Being an Elvis fan, I made another detour and made the pilgrimage to Memphis, and Tupelo. After that, it was straight on through to Florida and family. I had driven straight through from Laughlin, Nevada to Pinellas Park, Florida by way of Tennessee and Mississippi. After 12 hours of much-needed sleep, I went right away to looking for work. I had found work with a temp agency, and started working the very next day. The good thing about temp agencies for a musician, is that you can set your own hours of availability. This worked out well for me because when I earned enough money, I headed up to Nashville to meet with the record executive I had met in Vegas. The only glitch was that I had brought along some excess baggage from Las Vegas. Because of her, the opportunity to work for Gaylord entertainment in Nashville dissolved. The next time I would be in Nashville was with an audition for the television show “Nashville Star” (but that’s another story).
This is another installment of my blog about a 46-year musical journey as a performing Country/Rock/Blues musician. Please LIKE, COMMENT, and SHARE with all of your friends. You can follow my complete musical journey with photos, videos, free mp3’s of my original music, and very soon some live webcasts at: http://bit.ly/29y9eBV Enjoy!!
Next blog: I got rid of the excess baggage…
A “One Man Band” goes back to Florida and becomes a Rock Star living the dream. It was the winter of 1986 and I was leaving New York and heading to Florida for the second time. This time though, I was an adult with musical skills. I got to Florida but all of the bands in the area had all of the players they needed. I went to work for a temp service and kept looking for players at jam sessions and the like. So one day, three years later in 1989, after work, I stop off at this local bar and run into a bass player that went by “Duce”. He was from Louisiana and Coon-Ass all the way. It wasn’t long before the conversation got around to music, and he was looking to get something going as well. He knew a drummer that went by “Cha-Cha” that had a double bass kick drum kit.
We set up at Duce’s house and found out really quick that we all had good musical skills and clicked together. We got right to work on a song list and in a very short time had a working show put together. Of course, I was the Lead singer and Lead guitarist because of the coincidence that we were working from the song lists that I used in my solo shows. We were ready to go except for one thing…. we didn’t have a band name. In the process of coming up with a name, I puffed, puffed, and passed that which contained “THC”. We all agreed to come up with an acronym for “THC”. Thus “The High Court” was born in the Fall of 1989. I had one of our groupies lay down on a sheet so I could trace her body for the design of our first logo/banner. The banner and logo has since changed to become more “Politically Correct”. But in 1989 is was simply a cool looking banner.
We had everything ready to go to start gigging except the favorable agreement of the local club scene. It just so happened that Duce’s house was on the same street as two local bars. So we decided to have a Halloween Party. It turned out that both bars lost a ton of money that night because all of the locals came to the party and decided to hang out there.
The next day, one of the club owners approached us to play at his bar. We agreed and became the house band at “Don’s Place”. The other bar the “Rusty Nail” had a less profitable during that time. We eventually played there and packed the house. The High Court from 1989-1991 packed “Don’s Place” at every performance. We were playing a lot of songs from bands like Poison, Guns and Roses, White Snake, White Lion, as well as an arsenal of Classic Rock. Yes, by this time some of the music of the 60’s and 70’s became known as “Classic Rock”! It really didn’t seem that long ago. You’ll have to remember that as we went into the 90’s, even the songs of the 80’s became “Classic Rock”. Until that one fateful day that Duce had to leave town in haste, and go on the lamb. I thought it quite ironic for a musician to be having trouble with the law and being a member of “The High Court”. Needless to say after a two year run, we went into recess at that time.
But by then my reputation as a singer/guitarist was well known and I hooked right up with a solo gig for a ladies’ night at “Lenny’s”. Some of the weekend bands weren’t too happy with me because, the local crowd would end up spending most or all of their money that night and not have enough to go out to see the bands on the weekend. The price you pay for being a local “Rock Star”! That gig lasted a good year until I knocked on the door one afternoon to set up for that night’s performance, and found out that the place was closed down for racketeering.
By then (1992), I was looking for any side or full time gigs (solo, duo, or full band). I performed once more in 1992 for an AIDS benefit at Williams Park in Saint Petersburg, Florida with a Broadway Star “Ann Hodges (I was definitely younger and thinner at that time). Again, I was ahead of my time playing benefits for AIDS. Of course at that time the disease was fairly new and there were little if not any real cures.
Then life, as it always will, got in the way of music. This time though, it was in a good way. So goes part of the journey of a musician. And speaking of the journey…
Next blog: From Florida to the lights of Vegas….http://bit.ly/29y9eBV
Classic Rock was just Rock back then (the 70’s), and I was on the ground floor of the phenomenon. Bands like Boston, Skynyrd, Doobie Brothers, Led Zep, Bad Company, Pink Floyd, Peter Frampton, and so many more artists were playing electric guitars in ways (and with effects) that were truly ground breaking. Back on the (Suwanee) river, I thought I had a large collection of music to learn guitar by, but joining the Air Force and getting out of the woods (so to speak) well, that’s when the doors to all kinds of music opened up to me.
One dorm room would have bluegrass playing, and right across the hall there would be rock, while two doors down there was R&B, and so forth and so on; so needless to say I was introduced to a wide variety of musical genres from 1976 to the present.
I went to a lot of live concerts back then and the one most notable was the Led Zep concert in the old Tampa stadium. After the rains and riots, they (the promoters), were willing to buy back the tickets. As of today, I still have my ticket and t-shirt from that show. I guess the ticket is worth more than the $10.00 I paid for it at the time.
Although the real major change for me and music came when I got an assignment to Okinawa, Japan. It was there I met one of my lifelong friends (Dan Blades) and guitar buddy. I had bought an Aria Pro II guitar that was a copy of the Les Paul Standard, and a Yamaha amplifier to keep me occupied. It wasn’t long before Dan and I hit it off and started jamming. During that time, I built an extensive collection of Japanese released albums and Tabbed sheet music. I was playing note for note songs from Aerosmith, Led Zep, Bad Co., Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Foreigner, Kansas, Kiss, Rick Derringer, Jimmy Buffett and Uriah Heep just to name a few. Not only did I spend time learning a ton of Rock songs, but I delved into some George Benson Jazz studies as well.
During my tour in Okinawa, I took leave on occasion and went back to the river to visit my family. My younger brother and I were talking (this past 4th of July) and he reminded me of a time when I was on leave from Okinawa and was jamming at a party in Horseshoe Beach, Florida, and who walks up to the party and sits in….Jimmy Buffett!! I’ll have to admit back then I was doing a lot of things that had a negative effect on my memory! (Those were the daze my friends!!!)
The 70’s were coming to an end. I got married to my first wife Carol and that lasted for about ten years. We are still friends. She was realistic and I was idealistic.
My last Duty station was in Cheyenne, Wyoming. I took leave between duty stations and met another guitar buddy (Gary Peacock). We both had orders to F.E. Warren A.F.B. so we drove from Florida to Wyoming, rented a house off-base (that was haunted), did our Air Force stuff while on duty, and played a bunch of guitar off duty. Gary, being from Florida had a real strong affinity towards Southern Rock. It stands to reason at that time in my life I would be playing a lot of that genre of music. I had also won awards for Air Force music competitions while still serving on active duty. It was in 1980 that I formed my first paid-professional band (Equinox). Gary showed me the theory behind major, minor, and pentatonic scales. This got me interested in the formal study of Music Theory & Composition. I took a few college courses in music and Keyboards and I was hooked.
Another band I played with in Wyoming was “The Rebels”. We played one gig at a High School for a graduating class of “6”. The whole High School showed up for the Prom! We never played another gig after that. Ain’t it funny how musicians come in and out of your life. You make memories and maybe get to share them in a blog one day!
After serving almost 10 years, I received my Honorable Discharge from the United States Air Force, and went to college full time under the G.I. Bill for “Music Theory & Composition”. I attended the State University of New York at Binghamton and New Paltz. I learned so much about music theory, that everything up to that point seemed so basic. The exception being my guitar skills were more advanced than the college courses offered at the time (the class was an easy “A”, and I ended up helping to teach the class).
I started playing a lot of solo gigs around that time from Fraternity parties to bars in the local area. This is probably the time where I really started letting the performer in me out. I was very confident in my guitar playing and through earlier bands and college voice classes, I had a handle on being able to be a decent solo artist. I had a PA, Guitar, Keyboard, and Drum Machine! Alas.. a “One Man Band”!
Next blog: A “One Man Band” goes back to Florida and becomes a Rock Star…
1971 was a life changing event for me and my musical journey. The ride from Wurtsboro, New York to Kenneth City, Florida was a long one with the memory of an 8-track tape of the musical “Oklahoma” burning into my mind. I believe we had other 8-track tapes, but that one was prevalent. When we got to Florida, music was kind of like on the back burner for a while. The transition from the northern quick paced attitude to the slower paced southern lifestyle only took a few months. We had a Telefunken stereo system in the house and a lot of music, but this was Florida and plenty of sunshine and things to do.
We moved to Pinellas Park, Florida as I was entering Jr. High, and that is when I got back into music. This time I was studying from the “Mel Bay” guitar book, and listening to a lot of Pop & Country music. Of course I met other musicians that opened doors to other genres including the Rock of the early 70’s. During the early 70’s there were two musicians that had a major impact on my early musical development. The first one was actually my cousin Mike.
My cousin Ellen and her husband Mike thumbed their way to Florida (You could really do that back then) and stayed with us for a visit. During that time Mike had played a song he had written titled “Susan Loves the Lord” (I think). I just could not get enough of that song and I think I pestered him with play it again…play it again…play it again, until he was probably tired of it. There was something about the use of the word “pious” within the lyric that tied the story of this song together. That one simple song made me realize that there was so much more to a song than just the music and words. As the years go by I find myself continuing to search for the magic that makes the lyrics of a song a cohesive story. I want to send a shout out and special thanks to Mike and Ellen for those memories.
In 1974 we moved from Pinellas Park, Florida up to Old Town, Florida right on the great Suwanee river. We built a campground, and State Muzzle Loading Rifle range. Being that we were out of town (in the backwoods), we had chickens, turkeys, hogs, horses, pets of all manner of species, gardens, crops, and all the hunting and fishing a junior in High School could stand. But after all of the chores and homework were done; I had a lot of time to play my guitar, learn an arsenal of traditional country music, and even write my own songs.
The second musician that made a major impact on my music in the early 70’s was a guitar player named, Comer “Moon” Mullins. He showed me the basic blues boogie-woogie rhythm, and I have used that in my guitar playing since then and on to the present day.
My first public performance was at one of the State Competition matches at the rifle range. I performed on the flooring that would become the gun shop. I sang my first original song “Moon Shine & White Corn Liquor”. I got a taste of performing in front of people at the ripe old age of 16. The next time I played in front of people was in a bar, in Chiefland, Florida (yes I was still 16 and under-aged).
When I graduated H.S. in 1975, I joined the United States Air Force and left for basic training on August 11, 1975. After basic training was complete, the first thing I bought was a guitar. While waiting for orders to my first duty station, I played a lot of guitar in the off duty hours. Then came my assignment to Mac Dill AFB, Tampa, Florida. My first responsibility was to the Air Force, so music became more of a relaxing hobby.
Next blog: Classic Rock was just Rock back then…
It all started in 1969 when I pestered my mom relentlessly for a guitar. I did get a guitar for Christmas that year as well as a book called “Alfred’s Basic Guitar Method”. That’s where my musical journey began. I remember earlier that year I would pretend playing guitar with a broom, and I thought, I was the next Elvis. Woodstock was happening about 30 miles away that year and I remember one of the radio stations broadcasted that they were selling glasses of water there for $1.00. At twelve I thought that was pretty silly since our water was free. But none the less, the music of the era really influenced my musical interest through the years.
I tried out for the middle school choir that year. Being how my voice was changing at the time, my odds for a favorable audition were fairly non-existent. The choir director did put me in the right direction though, when he asked, “Randy, why don’t you take up the guitar instead?” I guess he was putting it in a nice way that I really wasn’t the greatest vocalist in the auditions. Of course that didn’t stop me, because I really started singing even more. It must have been hard on my family having to listen to my great singing with my great guitar playing. Since they never told me that I was terrible, I kept playing and singing until at one point I was not really so terrible [that story will be in a later blog].
I’ve been a self-taught guitarist pretty much all of my life, but there were two books that were instrumental (pun intended) with giving me the foundation to learn, not only the guitar, but music as well. Those books were Alfred’s Basic Guitar Method, and Mel Bay’s Beginner Guitar Course. After I got through those books, I was off to the races with any and every songbook I could get. I don’t really remember the transition between learning by ear or learning with sheet music. I guess when I didn’t have the sheet music, I would just figure it out by ear.
My mom had a great record collection, which I have inherited since her passing. She had not only country but rock and roll, big band, movie soundtracks, and many other genres that gave me a broad variety of musical influences. Through the years we all have a tendency to gravitate to the music we most identify with. I realize that I would gravitate to the genres that everyone around me was listening to. More specifically the music that other musicians around me were playing or talking about.
My first band didn’t have a name, but we did have two songs in our repertoire; “Ticket to Ride [The Beatles]”, “Sugar, Sugar [The Archies]”. No PA system, no amplifiers, no lights, and no management or booking agents. But make no mistake…..we were a “BAND”!!! But like a lot of bands, it came to an end in 1971 when my family moved from Wurtsboro, New York to Kenneth City, Florida. That band ended but my musical journey was just getting started. And that story will be left for next weeks blog.
Next blog: 1971 was a life changing event…
I have decided that for a limited time, I will leave “The High Court” merchandise available for anyone that might want to get some memorabilia. You can find links on my website to my Zazzle store where you can make purchases. These links will only be available until July 4, 2016 (at which time they will be removed from my website). I will, however, continue to sell and promote my original material on this blog, my website, and all of my various social media networks. I have changed “The High Court” page to “Discography” and this is where you will soon be able to find my original music. This will be the only page for “The High Court” merchandise. As well I hope to post videos, and a music player to the “Fan Page”. Stay tuned….
I have been performing publicly for 46 years, and have had “The High Court” for 27 of those years. It has been quite a journey, and I hope to write some of the stories of my 46 year career in music. I do want to thank all of the people that supported me in my goals and dreams. Equally, I want to tell all of the people that put road blocks in the way, and gave me stress during that journey to kiss my ass. And yes, to tell the story truthfully, they will be included. But most of this blog will be about the musical journey I have been on for the past 46 years, and all of the good musicians and friends I have met along the way.
It all started in 1969…follow the blog on my website (http://www.randallleemusic.com) for the rest of the saga!
Honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice this weekend. We, The High Court, salute our fellow service members for their sacrifice.
As many of you know, we play for the service organizations, but we want to let everyone know that we play for other venues and events as well. We are hoping to record a video promo demo soon and will post it on our website as soon as we are finished with it.
Our next performance will be at the VFW in Waynesville, NC on the 18th of June 2016 at about 6 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday night.
We are looking forward to playing at the VFW in Waynesville, NC on the 18th of June 2016. There will be a “Fish Fry”, so bring an appetite and get ready to party with Randall Lee & “The High Court”!! We will have some new songs to get your feet to dancing!! Let your friends know about the band so they can enjoy the music as well. Randall Lee will be incorporating keyboards into the sounds of the band, so that ‘little ole 3 piece’ band from North Carolina will have a much fuller sound. We are really stoked about hooking up with the East Coast Entertainment booking, and here in the near future we hope to be playing more regionally. Right now the ticket prices for our shows are free, so get on out and check out Randall Lee & “The High Court” at your first opportunity!!!
We are looking forward to performing for the Ladies Auxiliary Bike Benefit on May 7, 2016 at 1:00 p.m., and then play again that evening from 7:00p.m. to 10:00p.m.! We have a new pair of 18″ Sub-Woofers and can’t wait to hear how they sound inside the club. Bring your dancing shoes and get ready to party! We will be playing a lot of your favorites as well as some new songs and a couple of originals. We may be recording the show so come on out and make some noise.
We want to thank everyone for the support they showed for needy Veterans at this 86th Annual Ramp Convention in Waynesville, NC! A lot of people stepped up for this event and it was the biggest convention in many years.
God bless you all!!!
We hope to see all of our fans at the 86th annual Ramp Convention in Waynesville on May 1, 2016 @ 2:00 PM!!! We are going to record our performance with audio and video so we can post it to YouTube. All of our fans are welcome and encouraged to upload any smart phone videos to YouTube. All we ask is that you title it “The High Court Ramp Convention”. We love our fans and can’t wait to perform another show for you!!!
If you want to learn a new Country line dance, you are in luck! My song “6.7.8.” has a brand new line dance to it. You can learn it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/CiPTn5uPdJ8 as well, you can download it from iTunes to have for your playlist at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/6.7.8./id1068305770?i=1068306491
Remember to let us know you were there with a thumbs up and like to show the love. Enjoy the video and follow my band “The High Court” on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/thehighcourt
For all of you that haven’t heard our band, you might want to save the date of March 19, 2016 for the St. Patrick’s Day party, Saturday night starting at 7:00 PM, at the American Legion Post number 47 in Waynesville North Carolina. We will be playing country, rock, blues and pop number ones from 1960 to today. We look forward to a great evening of music, dancing, and in general great honky-tonking!!! The band consisted of myself-Randall Lee on guitars and vocals, Rob Wall-on base and vocals, and David Costello on drums and vocals. Bring your dancing shoes/boots and cameras/smart phones to take a lot of pics. Maybe we can get them up on the blog and/or website!!!
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First I want to thank you for being a fan of The High Court!!!
I am excited to let you know that my song “6.7.8.” is fast becoming a new line dance standard globally. So not only will you be able to enjoy 6.7.8. here on the internet, but at many line dancing establishments as well. Do you remember when “Bootscootin’ Boogie” by Brooks and Dunn came out and it was the song that got many people dancing, and when “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks was unleashed to the public and became somewhat of a Honky-Tonk anthem? My new song 6.7.8. is similar. It has the foundation of being a great country line dance song as well as an entertaining lyrical journey. Take a listen at any of my various streaming sites and decide for yourself (there is even a YouTube (Lyric Video, Line Dance Video, with a full music video in the works):
If you like 6.7.8., download it to you phone from any of the following sites:
Be the first to have it on your phone’s music library!!!I hope you enjoy, leave comments, and share this song with all of your friends!!! You can also follow my band on twitter https://twitter.com/thehighcourt !!
We are updating our blog for our fans. Right now we have about 5,000 subscribers, very few of which leave comments or interact with the band. So we are starting over with our fan base. You will have to solve a simple math problem to become a registered user. On the registration page we would like it if you filled out your name and a little bit about yourself so we know who we are talking to. This is in an effort to reduce all of the spam we have received lately, and allow us to become more approachable by our real fans.
One of the changes in place now is that the blog can be found on the band website. In the near future we plan to include information on where to live stream the band for performances, rehearsals, and some behind the scenes type of things. We will try to make this blog a little interesting as well as interactive. Stay tuned as we get underway with more tid-bits about the band, as well a giveaways and contests.
We will be performing in Waynesville, North Carolina at the American Legion Post #47, on March 19, 2016 @ 7:00p.m. We look forward to seeing everyone there again, as we have been continually working up more songs. We have played there twice and have yet to play all of the songs we know. I guess that makes us sound like a new band every time we play!!! This will be a Saint Patrick’s Day Party so remember to wear something green and put your dancing shoes/boots on!!
I want to thank you for subscribing to the band’s blog! Here is the place you can find out what is happening with the band. We want to make sure we reduce the spam subscribers so the real fans can get news-letters, giveaways, and information about upcoming gigs, and new music. Take a moment to add your name to your username and email subscriber account to remain a subscriber. You can now follow the blog on our website as well at: http://randallleemusic.com/TheHighCourt.html ! I am updating the blog to activate all of our subscribers so they can get the new updates in their inbox…(the one you used to subscribe with). This may take a while as we have over 4,500 subscriber/fans.
One of the additions to the blog will be a live video stream. We will let you know when that is up and running (Hopefully we can hook that up for you at one of our gigs soon)! We look forward to having you as a fan!!!
In the meantime here is a link where you can get you some “Court” merch: http://www.zazzle.com/the_high_court/products
The High Court will be performing on March 19, 2016 at the American Legion (Post #47) in Waynesville, NC at 7:00PM.
Not only did we have a great time for the first performance of the new year, but we also had a great time at the American Legion Post #47 in Waynesville, NC on February 20, 2016 for the Dare to Bare Bikers in Boxers benefit. The benefit was for a good cause to help the elderly pay their heating bills. I am getting our blog in sync with our website so we can keep more in touch with our fans.
We will be playing the Legion again for the St. Patrick’s Day Party on Saturday March 19, 2016 at 7:00 PM. We will be putting up more information soon, so stay tuned to our blog for what we might have in store for the gig!!!!
The first gig of the new year will be held the 16th of January 2016 (7:00 PM) at the American Legion Post #47 in Waynesville! The address and phone number is:
171 Legion Dr; Waynesville, NC 28786-4499; (828) 456-8691
We look forward to the first session of the year, and are honored for it to be at an American Legion Post! We look forward to seeing everyone there ready for a party!
I remember when “Bootscootin’ Boogie” by Brooks and Dunn came out and it was the song that got many people dancing, and when “Friends in Low Places” by Garth Brooks was unleashed to the public and became somewhat of a Honky-Tonk anthem. My new song 6.7.8. is similar. It has the foundation of being a great country line dance song as well as an entertaining lyrical journey. Take a listen at any of my various streaming sites and decide for yourself:
If you like it download it to you phone from any of the following sites:
I hope you enjoy, leave comments, and share this post with all of your friends!!!
The High Court is going retro! As you know we lost Josh Elliott our former 2nd Front-man. Not to worry though, The High Court was conceived as a three piece and has returned to its roots! We are putting the finishing touches on the show, and will have demos available for those interested in bookings. We look forward to performing for our fans again.
On another note, endeavors have been underway for recording some of our original music. We will have something out by the first of the year.
We recently we lost our drummer Albert Norris (I think the sound-man misplaced him), but wish him well in all of his endeavors. We are still looking forward to performing at the Sly Grog in Asheville on the 22nd of August. We will keep you updated here on the blog.
The High Court was in session on the 5th of June at the Harley-Davidson of Asheville for their June Friday night Bike Night! The rains came and put the court into an early recess, but as the wet weather cleared The High Court was back in session. It was a great gig other than that and we have photos to share with everyone. Go to the website Fan Photos page and check out some more. We will let you know when the next session will be soon. We will be video recording our next live show, and post that for your enjoyment! Thanks to all of our fans that showed up for court!!!
The High Court will be in session on the 5th of June 2015 (Friday Night) at the Harley Davidson of Asheville, NC from 6:00pm to 8:30pm! We look forward to performing for everyone in the Asheville area. We want to welcome everyone to the music of The High Court!! Check out the website to get to know a little more about the band and it’s members (Just click on the Band’s name)!
The High Court may be in session in Asheville, NC real soon! When we have the details confirmed, we will let everyone know where and when we will be playing. As for now the band is coming right along. We are getting a lot of great songs down and can’t wait to perform them for you!!! We do have merchandise available on the website, and it will soon be available at the shows. But get ahead of everyone else and show your support by wearing a t-shirt with The High Court logo to the gigs!