Thursday, May 29, 2008

SECOND SESSION, Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Well, we reported back to Mandala Music after a weekend that featured a Friday night gig, a Saturday night gig, as well as two exhausting splashes in the pool on Sunday and Monday. Mary Lou was still in California, so we didn’t have the usual Memorial Day cookout, soiree, and ankle-bite, but we were still a little too much wined, dined and jaded by Tuesday morning. Thankfully, we had plenty of juice left for recording another four-hour shot that evening. As was the case the week before, Spring had completely disappeared and was replaced by full-on summer. It was right around 100 degrees when we reported for business.

Steve and I got there first, each of us having cashed in a food coupon that was part of our Saturday night payment at OrderUp [Colonnade]. Kathy was training at the gym and couldn’t join us until 7, so we jumped into the fire with the completion of “Fast.” When we play the song “live,’ we like to introduce it by saying “this is a slow song called ‘Fast.” The song’s inspiration was the passing of Steve and Kathy’s greyhound. Steve wrote most of the lyrics, asking my help with a second bridge. It’s a “personal” song that underscores the sorrow of loss by celebrating the vibrancy of life. It has caused many a listener to tear up, and Jöel and Bett were no different.

By the time Kathy showed up, we were well on our way to getting our stuff together for “(Some Days) Everything Sounds Like a Song.” This song has a sort of Irish folk song feel. I think it’s a bit sober and serious, but Mary Lou, Kathy, and Steve love the lyric and the sound, so who am I to disagree? This one we figured would be relatively simple to record since it features only Steve on the guitar and, with the exception of a small amount of harmony from Steve, all the vocals are mine. As with “Fast,” this number features the incredibly strong evocative sounds of Steve’s 2000 Taylor Koa K14c. Anything we do with this guitar gives us the equivalent of a third voice. It sounds gorgeous on this number.

We moved along to Steve’s arrangement of the Poco hit “Crazy Love” at this point. We knew that we couldn’t get it all down, since it’s a number that features all four voices, but we decided if we got everything down but Mary Lou’s vocals, she could come in a do a vocal track in a later session. Because this number begins with an a capella phrase, and because most of our performing cues are visual, Jöel suggested that we do a “scratch” recording – that is, record Steve’s guitar, Steve’s vocal, my guitar, and my vocal “live” on a single track. We could then use the “scratch track” as a template upon which we could record individual tracks, ultimately ditching the original altogether. However, we liked the “live feel” of the scratch track so much, that we kept it with only a few tweaks. Kathy then came in and recorded her vocal. Three-fourths of the song is complete. “All we need now is the girl!” Not bad; 8 hours in the studio and 4 ¾ songs down.

I had some time while Steve was playing and while Kathy was recording to wander around the “lobby” of the studio and to chat with Bett. There are several album covers on the walls – the most recent being Bett’s Myths and Fables. All the band members have been listening to that and loving it a lot. I also thought I recognized a guy in a photograph playing with a very young Jöel Dilley. Bett identified him as jazz guitar legend Herb Ellis. I also saw a photo of Jöel with a group of musicians one of which was Willie Nelson. Wow, I hope this isn’t a comedown for him!

LESSONS LEARNED: I think this time we learned that while it was a good idea to script out all the sessions – which songs first, which tracks to record first in each song – it was even a better idea to be a little flexible with our script. We recorded two songs “out of order” on this night, but for two very good reasons. First, we wanted to record three songs in a row that feature Steve’s finger-picking. This kept the koa as the primary instrument, and we were all very familiar with its dynamics. Second, we wanted to get Kathy in front of a microphone and in the can as early as possible. It was much fun for Steve and I to hear that clear soprano blending with Steve’s tenor and my baritone. Some time next month, we’ll have the alto back, and that will make all of us very, very glad – especially me.


The first thing you have to know about the location of Mandala Music’s recording studio, is that you have to KNOW about the location! Otherwise, you could drive aimlessly through the King William District for hours looking for a sign. There isn’t one. You have to drive around the back of a unpretentious block of professional offices and bang on a metal back door to be admitted. Luckily, we’d already scouted out the place and knew what to expect.

Our first session was from 6 until 10 that evening. Mary Lou was in California taking care of her mom who is recovering from surgery, so there were only three members of the group. Steve and I expected to do the actual performing, and Kathy came along to make sure we behaved and also to provide water and provisions – God bless Subway’s $5 footlongs! I wore my tee-shirt as a good luck talisman. I believe it worked its magic well.

We were greeted inside by the two people who make up Mandala Music, San Antonio jazz legends Jöel Dilley and Bett Butler. Jöel is a very in-demand bassist and Bett is a singer-songwriter as well as an outstanding jazz pianist. The studio is very funky looking. There’s not a lot of their budget that goes to decorations, that’s for sure, but the sound board looked sophisticated enough and the pair seemed to be as enthusiastic about recording us as we were about being recorded. After a bite of food and a sound check or 12, we began.

Now, usually you’d be happy with one “in-the-can” song for each two hours of studio time, but we did much better on this night. We led off with "Light in the Night" one of our earliest compositions. Like a lot of our material, Steve and I trade off on who takes the melody, and this can make life just a little complicated using the “one track at a time” recording method. But after two vocal tracks and four guitar tracks, we pronounced ourselves satisfied and moved on.

The next song up was our rocker "Take It Outside." Although this song was added only relatively recently to our repertoire, it is a rare gig indeed when we don’t play it. After laying down the guitar tracks – my rhythm, Steve’s rhythm, Steve’s scorching lead – I went alone into the recording area and laid down the lead vocal. There was obviously something very good going on in the universe at this point, because we didn’t need a second take, nor did we need any “touch-ups.” Once we got Steve’s backing vocal in, we put that one to bed also.

Two songs in the can after barely 3½ hours of actual recording. Not bad for two guys whose ages add up to 111! With about 45 minutes of time left, Steve and I laid down the guitar tracks for a third original, "Fast." The vocals could easily wait for our next date. This was a very productive session, and all five of us were satisfied and looking forward to round 2.

LESSONS LEARNED: Well, we learned to trust Jöel and Bett completely. Neither got even slightly frazzled and both were wonderful to work with. We need to minimize the time that only Steve and I are recording. Having Kathy along to keep us both honest was invaluable. It was her suggestion that turned an excellent guitar phrase at the end of Fast" to something absolutely exquisite. On the other hand, I learned not to come directly from the gym without showering first – especially since we have to turn off the a/c each time we record!

Saturday, May 24, 2008


The Tim and Bob Show was designed to be a cover band featuring familiar tunes from the 50s through the 00s. The band’s aural signature has always been tight harmonies to the accompaniment of amplified acoustic guitars. We’re popular because we play “locational music” – that is, people hear our songs and think “I was in college when that came out” or “that song reminds me of when we lived in North Carolina.”

Having said all that, almost from the beginning – August 2005 was our first paying gig – Steve and I have been writing songs together. Steve is primarily responsible for the melodies [and for arrangement and orchestration] and I’m primarily responsible for the lyrics. Generally, however, each of us has a suggestion or two about the other guy’s primary area of interest, and those suggestions almost always are incorporated into the song-in-development. Once they’re ready, we integrate our originals into our performances, and the audiences seem to enjoy them as much as our covers. When it came time for us to record, we decided to produce a CD with only two cover songs and fill out the album with songs first played by The Tim and Bob Show.

We still haven’t completely decided on what the CD will be called, but we’re aiming for a Fall 2008 release. Don’t worry, if you’re a relative, a friend, or a member of Tim and Bob Nation, you’ll find out when it is available for sale.

Friday, May 23, 2008

What a Super Night at Fralo's

Wow! Let me get to the punchline first. I am almost positive that we set a record for the greatest number of Tim and Bob Nationals at any gig in the history of The Tim and Bob Show. Fralo's was rockin'!!!!!!!!!!

It was steamy when we got there. According to the time/temperature thingy halfway to the site, it was over 100 degrees, and it was muggy. All of us were set up with back-up shirts and plenty of water for the night. As we ate our pre-gig pizza it seemed too hot even for the housefly air force that buzzed us incessantly. Set up was arduous, and we were kinda bushed before we hit a note ... but then we hit a note and then another and then suddenly it was a fantastic night.

The night was devoted to Katie and Sam, the latter celebrating his 24th birthday and the former off to Austin to nursing school. There was cake and good spirits, and there to enjoy the celebration with those two were, Karen, Sandra, Casey, Bethany, Matt, Hillary, Marcelo, Jerry, Moira, and their daughter Kylie Grace, Cathie, Elizabeth, Cristina and her fiance Ryan, Peter, Margarite, Brianna and her two German friends, Rob and Kimberly, John, Mike and Alice, Bret and Cindy, Sherri, Pete, friends and family, and local jazz players Morgan King and Joan Carroll. Wow! That's a lot. And we also recruited new Tim and Bob-ites Jason, Julie, and Vicki. The only name missing from of this is Mary Lou, who missed the gig because she's in California helping her mom recover from surgery.

Breaking a long-standing position of not having "guests" on stage, we had back up for Bye-bye Love, Eight Days a Week, and Katie joined Steve for Rocky Raccoon.

We also debuted our latest Tim and Bob original, South Texas Saturday Night and were pretty pleased with how it sounded and was received. There were the usual miscues and confused looks between the guys, but all-in-all we're pretty pleased with how the night went -- especially once the breeze came up. It cooled things nicely for us and blew away the flies.

Well, no rest for the wicked as we landed a last-minute Saturday gig at OrderUp. Then there's a recording session on Tuesday -- watch this space for information about this project -- and then two more gigs next weekend.

Hope to see y'all out and about soon.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Hot Summer Nights Came Early This Year

Well, San Antonio skated through all of 2007 without once hitting the 100 degree mark, but our chances of repeating that feat in 2008 died a month and a half before summer even had a chance to arrive. On an early spring Friday evening, The Tim and Bob Show played in triple-digit temperatures before an overheated but enthusiastic crowd at Beto’s Comida Latina. It was hot and hazy before we began playing at 7, and hot and humid by the time we finished at 10. Kathy was back with the group for the first time in several gigs as her play had concluded its successful run, but we still weren’t at full strength, as Mary Lou was in California with family.

We began the gig with a new number for us, The Beatles Revolution, and finished with our traditional Bye-bye Love. In between, we also debuted Jimmie Rodgers’ It’s Over and Conway Twitty’s It’s Only Make Believe. Because of the change in personnel, and the absence of a fourth voice, we altered the format slightly. The new format featured three three-part songs that Kathy sang lead on, as well as spotlighting Kathy in her own three-song set.

During the evening we had a good-sized crowd that was very responsive. Several members of Tim and Bob Nation showed up at Beto’s, including Hillary and Marcelo, Bethany and Matt, Doug, Marcie, Jim, Kathleen, Chris and Mario, and Connie and Edwin, as well as more of Connie’s friends. It was near enough to Chris’s birthday for the guys to sing the Beatles Birthday for her.

But enough name dropping, how did we sound? Well, we think we sounded great. It’s always fun to play at Beto’s – regardless of the weather – and there were plenty of hearty souls out to enjoy the good food, drink, and music that Beto’s features. All-in-all, it was another funtabulous night to be playing in a rock ‘n roll band.

And here’s where you can TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!