With our move to a new practice venue, namely Kelly and Joe’s finished basement, Garth, our official band photographer, figured it was time to visit for another photography session. Garth keeps his photography with us light and fun, which fits with our practice attitude. Sure, we can get serious when we critically listen to our recordings of our practices, but for the most part we strive for fun in our practices. After all, life is short, we’re not young, and we’re probably not on our way to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. 🙂
If you look carefully at the photo above, right between Scott’s and Marc’s heads, you’ll see a blue device on a tiny tripod strapped to a mic stand. That’s a Zoom H1 stereo recorder that we used to record the band that day, our first recording during a band practice with the new lineup. Although we had all of our multi-track recording equipment present, Joe and Scott hadn’t finished configuring it. However, this was the only practice for which we used the Zoom H1. Joe and Scott had the multi-track recording equipment properly configured for the following practice and we’ve been doing multi-track recording of our key songs in each practice every since.
Rick was still on his sabbatical during this practice, so he’s not in these photos. Despite that, below you’ll find our favourite shots from this session. Enjoy!
Marc in Action
Marc working his guitar. With the sea of microphones in the room, it almost looks like a studio shot. Except for the clean background, of course.
A beautiful closeup of Marc playing his Godin guitar.
If there’s one thing that should come across in our posts, it’s that Shades of Grey is all about having fun. We have the most fun when our audience is having fun.
Scott on Bass
Scott playing his five-string Fender Jazz bass guitar. This bass is only used on a handful of songs that need the lower bass notes of the five-string.
This is a really nice shot of Joe playing keyboard. Yes, that’s an Apple Watch on his wrist. Scott has one, too. Apple aficionados, both of them.
A Whole Lot of Knitting Going On
Whether it’s the personalities in the band, the music we play, or something else, whenever the Shades of Grey is in the house, the entire audience breaks out into spontaneous knitting. For a knitting good time, go see the Shades of Grey!
That’s Marc’s wife, Jane, on the left and Scott’s wife, Joanne, on the right. Knitters extraordinaire.
In addition to singing in our band, Kelly is a member of a competitive Sweet Adelines quartet, which is female barbershop singing. Presentation is an important part of such performances and closing one’s eyes is bad form. Kelly never closes her eyes during Sweet Adeline performances. But this is Rock & Roll. Go Kelly!
Here’s a great closeup of Scott playing his four-string Fender Precision bass guitar. This is the bass that Scott plays on most songs.
Garth takes some great photos of the band but we especially like the artistry behind many of his photos. In this one, we have a tight closeup of Ted playing cymbals. Sure, this won’t be a cover shot of an album where faces are so important, but there’s beauty in a shot like this.
The Rhythm Section
Collectively, bass and drums lay down the beat, which is the rhythm of a song. Guitars, keyboards, and especially vocals get all the glory while few people notice the rhythm section. Until they mess up. 🙂
Note the microphone on the bass drum. We’ve since removed the outside bass drum skin looking for a better sound on our recordings. We’re still working on it.
Joe Playing and Singing
Joe is playing his new keyboard and singing. For many years, unlike Scott, Joe has kept himself to a strict budget for purchases of, shall we say, toys. This served him well when he retired and he kept it up even when he returned to work as a part-time contractor. This keyboard blew his budget. And not by just a little bit. 🙂
High View of Ted
This is a nice shot from above of Ted playing. It’s tight quarters for Ted in the corner but once he’s in there, the magic just happens. Like all drummers, Ted has a very specific position for each piece of the kit, so it’s convenient to be able to leave it in place from week to week.
One thing that Marc has noticed over the years is that the air guitar is a much more forgiving instrument–and thus much easier to play–than the real guitar. 🙂
This is a really nice closeup shot of Joe playing his new keyboard.
Kelly singing. You could also say she’s playing the microphone, since the microphone is essentially an “instrument” that she plays with her voice. Or you could just say that Kelly is singing. Whatever. 🙂
Ted playing the drums. If you look closely at the drum pictures, you can see that there are microphones on each of the drums as well as the hi-hat. There’s also one microphone on the symbol in the foreground of this picture, which you can’t see because it’s just out of the picture, and one microphone covering both of the symbols in the background. Then, there are two microphones above the drum kit to give an overall stereo image of the drums and symbols.
The Pulsing Knob of Rhythm
Joe’s new Yamaha Montage 8 keyboard is quite sophisticated.
This particular knob allows Joe to blend two sounds together in whatever combination he wants. The colour indicates the blend, with one colour for only one sound, another for only the other sound, and a colour in between when there’s a blend of the two sounds.
The colour also pulses with the beat programmed into the keyboard for the current song, hence the somewhat provocative name.
Joe and Scott Singing
Joe and Scott must be singing Heat Wave, because, at the moment, that’s the only song in which Scott sings.
Kelly sings the lead vocal on Heat Wave. The rest of the band has spent a lot of time working on the harmonies for this song and we’re pleased at how it is, finally!, coming along. 🙂
Scott Singing and Playing
Scott’s singing backup and playing Heat Wave. From his finger position, he’s playing the walking bass line part that’s repeated several times in the song.
Kelly Encouraging the Band
Everyone who’s ever worked with a group of people knows that the personalities involved determine the success or failure of the group. We have a lot of fun in our band because we all get along really well and enjoy playing together. Everyone has their own roles to play in addition to their instruments. Kelly is always encouraging everyone with compliments and a very positive outlook. If anyone is struggling with a part, Kelly is the first one to remind us that we’re just here to have fun, so don’t sweat it–it will come eventually.
Marc is playing his guitar. In the background, you can see Kelly singing. In the very background, you can see the knitting club. 🙂
Scott Having Fun
Scott is having fun playing his Fender Precision bass guitar.
Another really nice shot of Joe singing. I love the way Garth isolates the subject against a blurry foreground and background. I know it’s not a novel technique, but it sure produces a nice photograph.
Joe and Scott
In the song Alone, by Heart, there’s a descending bass line in the break. Scott wasn’t sure how it went, so he leaned over and looked at Joe’s notes on Joe’s iPad. Scott still got it wrong. 🙂 But he had it right at the next practice.
Scott is playing his four-string Fender Precision bass. He’s plucking the strings near the fret board for the fattest sound. Plucking near the bridge gets a more metallic sound, which is used on Scott’s five-string Fender Jazz bass for the Alannah Myles song, Black Velvet. Tone controls and pickup selection also help recreate the right sound on that song.
Marc is having fun playing his guitar.
Marc Singing & Playing
Marc is singing and playing his guitar. It’s not as easy as he makes it look.
Joe is at the noteboard writing a note. We start each practice with a list of our main songs, warmup songs, and jamming songs. The mains songs are the ones we’re getting ready to perform. The warmup songs are ones that we enjoy playing but aren’t in any of our set lists. The jamming songs are ones that we’re trying. Songs can move from one category to another depending on our experience playing them.
Joe takes notes during practice and Kelly sends out the notes after practice.
This is another nice shot of Joe singing.
This is a nice shot of Scott playing his four-string Fender Precision bass guitar. Note Scott’s Apple Watch. Did I mention that both Joe and Scott are Apple aficionados?
At the left of this picture, you can see the cowbell for our drum kit. Every song sounds better with more cowbell!
We hope you enjoyed Garth’s photos of the band as much as we did. See you next time!