Friday, September 24, 2010

Clando Donates More and Everybody is HAPPY!

Clando Brownlee gave us another donation from the Brotherhood Lions Club, he's trying to make his Club the most community active one in California. Here he is with another check for us to give to Fresh Start Surgical Gifts, and also promoting the upcoming Childrens's Day Celebration.

We're planning on playing for his Tuesday, October 19th fundraising event at Tio Leo's, 5302 Napa St., where we'll actually have a real stage and sound system!

Thanks again, Clando!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Night of Shakti Rising

We want to thanks Shakti Rising for inviting us to their private volunteer appreciation and fundraising event. It was really fun, we got to play whatever we wanted, we had some great snacks, Jake got to sing some Doors and Animals, and we listened to some really moving talks about what these people have accomplished. It was a classic Varsity Strings night - The Night of Shakti Rising!

This was a Friday, so everybody but me and Jake were busy doing afterschool sports. Here we are making up the song list at the last possible moment. This is the result of excellent planning and machine like scheduling:

Sunset ballooners in Del Mar:

I do a few mandolin songs -

Valerie is the evening's host, there was a raffle and prizes. We didn't win anything.

Shakti Rising was really grateful to us for bringing the mic and amp to talk through, more people showed up than they expected and it was really useful. Even though it's just an audio mic jacked into a guitar amp, it works great. This has become Varsity Strings' most important purchase of the entire year!

The guests arrive - that's Debbi at the front left, hi Debbi! She invited us to this event after hearing us at the Children's Coalition meetings.

One of Shakti Rising's volunteers. This organization provides a home for abused or drug-recovering young women. It takes a very small amount of money to house them for a year, and it's mostly a volunteer organization.

A testimonial from a Shakti Rising woman, she was so thankful they were there for her when she had a lot of trouble in her life. She made everybody cry.

Then it got dark and the moon came out. This was really magical, it was like being inside a Harry Potter book.


Jake & Max rip it up.

Then - SNACKS! I still don't know what this is. You eat it.

More snacks! These mushroom caps were our favorites. Voted #1.

More snacks! I had 6.

And after, right beside the Shakti Rising event there is this legendary McDonalds restaurant that is 1/2 McDonalds and 1/2 French Gourmet Bistro. It's like 0.5 and 0.5. It's called the Bistro Gourmet McDonalds. Never been here before, but come inside with us......

Here's what the food looks like -

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Marvelous Musical Mira Costa College

Let's go to Mira Costa College!

Why?! Because it's the best equipped music recording, teaching, and performance public school in California!

And nobody knows it's here!

Where is it? It's hiding right BEHIND that building I'm walking to!
C'mon for a walk with me and Christy Coobatis, head instructor of their music program!

Lets have Cristy explain the first control room, this will give you some idea of what's going on here:

And this is the OTHER mixing control room, next to the control room you were just looking at:

This performance hall was 8 years in the planning, 2 years being built, and cost 15 million bucks.  It just opened last January. That's an $18,000.00 Steinway Grand Piano sitting in the middle of the stage. All performances are shot to digital video for use by the students. Christy designed the entire building and all the fiberoptics that connect it to their mixing rooms:

From the audience side:

The theater's lighting and audio mixing room:

The practice room beside the theater:

Now just to contrast how we do things at Varsity Strings, here's how WE amplify our music. We put a mic on the end of a cord and push it into the top of a Vox amp. Then we turn the amp on and crank the treble down.

That's it. Here's the entire system:

Back to Mira Costa College! Everywhere you look there are instruments. Drums:

Acoustic baffling on all walls:

Recording Studio A, mostly used for large symphony groups:. That's a mini-grand piano and full drum set you see at the very back:

Recording Studio B, for small sessions:

More equipment sitting around in case you need it:

The keyboards and digital sampling room, I don't understand this stuff, I'm a guitar man myself:

The Protools room:

Rooftop lunchroom, Pacific Ocean in the far background:

See you later, Mira Costa! Adios but not goodbye!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Community Concert #1 - Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla

This is the first experiment in doing a Community Concert on weekends at different locations all over San Diego. That means we basically go someplace interesting and sing and play guitar until somebody kicks us out!

Here we are up on this weird ledge at the back of the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla. Jake is doing some work there and knows the place inside and out. This ledge overlooks a beach swarming with weekend tourists. It was a LOT of fun.

We learned two things:

FIRST, Jake is a bigger ham than I am. Give him a guitar and a tambourine and he turns into the Street Musician Monster.

SECOND, next time we bring a tip jar! Peoplke were watching us and hanging out, they looked like easy marks for Fresh Start donations!

It was REALLY fun. Jake's in for the next one. Next time we get Curly Max, too.

Nothing like a Dylan song....

Go Jake!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Beatnik Tiki Bongo Drums

Just unearthed from our files: this early recording of Max & Max & Valentine on the hand-carved Bongo Tiki Drums.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Gift of Grace Recording

Here's us doing a practice recording of Jake's "Gift of Grace" song for Fresh Start Surgical Gifts. We did this about 4 times...

Don't worry, I'm not sick. I'm lying on the floor because we get better acoustics off my guitar that way.

Here's the video -

See ya soon, we're practicing tomorrow again!