Sunday, January 3, 2016

Less volume to play louder.



Sunday night—it's time to hang up the work flannels and iron the dress flannels. It's time to go to bed before 1 and wake up before 9. It's time to go back to work. 


I'm happy to have a great start on the upright, reminding me at times of a Viking ship and at others of an old hot rod. Below is a shot of the sitka spruce top. I've burnt in the soundhole outlines which will fair better than pencil marks with all the sanding that still needs to happen.


It's a funny thing, that in order to play louder you need the instrument to play softer (take the electric guitar for example). Acoustic projection is feedback's friend. These soundholes will be burnt and not cut through, making the name rather inappropriate, but helping with potential feedback issues. Keeping with this, I've installed what many rockabilly players use—a double soundpost system.


The sides remind me of a Viking ship's sail or perhaps Beetjuice…


The side planks slowly fade from top to bottom. The walnut remains consistent and the planks between go from pale cherry and birdseye maple, to ziricote, then knotted cherry (which looks quartz-like when sanded), to jatoba.


 But like I said, it's Sunday evening and the shop needs to become a drawing den again.


Friday, January 1, 2016

I don't know how to build a bass. Me Neither. OK, let's build a bass.

I spent the last couple days with my folks. We brought in the new year watching endless FantomWorks episodes on Velocity while looking through old family photographs. The days were spent with my dad in his shop working on my new double bass project. It was a good little trip as I don't think we've spent that much time together in over ten years. Dad taught me some new things, we tackled things new to both of us and mom helped make some final design decisions. 

Progress has been made and this pile of wood is looking like a bass. Here is the run down. Use what you got. "Econo" (Mike Watt). Rat Rods. I started by pilfering the garage rafters again. The possible table below was dismantled and repurposed as the back of the bass.


I started making plans although they are essentially vague which makes following them very easy. This bass is roughly based on the Kolstein travel bass. If I had a bit more liquidity in the ole budget I would definitely pick one up. The plans are a good place to jot down measurements, notes and points of reference…


I also keep this book in the general area and sometimes look at it…


The garage lumber with bracing and kerfing…


My dad has built a couple kayaks, so he was able to take my idea of striped sides and really make it work. Here are the bead and cove planks in process…


The inside with endpin and neck blocks in place.


Side planks cut to size (approx. 180 pieces), dad getting started or acting goofy because I took out the camera…


Side planks, glued and tacked…


Me pretending to adjust the soundposts because dad took out the camera…


Getting ready to pack up for home…


Back home, looking like a bass…


Steel reinforced neck—yarrr!


Monday, December 28, 2015

work/play resolution


It has been a different kind of year 2015 with it's good and bad. I've been called bass player, woodworker, car guy, outdoorsman, beard guy, rocker—not a single hepcat space viking or deep sea poem painter. As I take these partial truths and blatant inaccuracies under consideration I look forward to 2016. I figure I'll play the bass, paint on paper, build from wood, eat some pizza (with salad) and watch Saturday night Svengoolie. Aside from from Saturday night Svengoolie, Curio has been a catalyst for all of the above. 

Two years into my time at Steppenwolf, I feel like I have a place of work instead of a day job—allowing me to refine my communication skills and bring all this extra-curricular experience into the creative and collaborative Steppenwolf world. My resolution is to have a balanced and exciting year of work and play. I'm not a wordsmith, but there should be a word meaning work/play—did Shakespeare invent one? The closest sentiment is this anecdote from a photo class I took in college: 

student: it [your art] just seems like you're fucking around.
teacher: I take my fucking around very seriously.

The above drawing is something I put together for Curio's free digital release—a live recording of our last 2015 show. It's based on a line from Gallows: "Drag a knife across your evil eye, the truth sounds better when you lie."



Monday, December 21, 2015

Ground control to Major Frank

Sad and heavy news today as Redmoon announced their closing. If ever I had an artistic home (that wasn't me, hermit-like at home) Redmoon Theater was that place. Redmoon gave me the opportunity to lead a team of talented illustrators in creating an ink and shadow science fantasy world projected onto the Museum of Contemporary art, later that year (2010) allowing me to paint cows in space, then letting me draw and co-create the bonkers story of a drunken sailor on hundreds of feet of scroll set to classical music and performed at Symphony Hall, design work, painting human scale pop-up books, puppets… what a place. A place where spectacle, incredible work ethic and uncensored imagination made magic.

…When I was a kid I watched and rewatched Star Wars innumerable times. I built robots out of empty five gallon plaster buckets and cardboard boxes. I was at the same time enamored with the magic of the world they created and inspired to build things that could live in that world. Movies (generally speaking) and certainly Star Wars have lost that element, but it's what Redmoon has done so well—creating a world of magic and wonderment, but letting you see the craft, the hand in it. The magic at Redmoon didn't just appear through some arcane conjuring, it was built.

So this drawing here is a bit of an epitaph. Some may recall rumblings of a "space band" here on woodenwater earlier this year… well that was to be a Redmoon collaboration for this year's Winter Pageant. Unfortunately the Curio guys and myself couldn't make it work because of scheduling. The idea was for it to be my songwriting powered by Curio's grit—parts Ornette Coleman and David Bowie, Mary Halvorson and Man or Astroman?, Giacomo Balla and Svengoolie. Maybe that can happen someday, but when and where remains to be seen.



Homes change, be they artistic or domestic. Despite that change, the people remain—living or dead, present or distant, together or separated—they remain. Although home may smolder into glowing embers, we build again. And what that new construction will be… only the future can tell.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015