BillyRadd Music

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Color of Sound

Vibration is omnipresent.

And, every thing is always in motion.

Ask any scientist, artist, or kid on the street.

Their answer is the question.

Colors can be seen, heard, and felt.

All one must do is look, listen, and feel.

As humans, we are equipped to soak it up as sensory meaning.

Or, broadcast it as light waves, the motion of air,

or the on-offing vibrations of the fabric of everything.

Poets have been saying it for eons.

Musicians sing its praises in mantras of hope and love.

Sculptors reveal it from stone and clay.

The dance has no beginning nor end.

The humming sum of it is free for us to use at will,

but, many waste it without a conscious thought.

It emits beauty-in-motion,

and cannot be created or destroyed,

only used.

It is always everywhere forever.

-Bill Raddatz, Asheville

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Notes From The Production Side

Anita with Anita's Diabetes Menus DVD

Working Class
While working closely with Anita (who also happens to be my wife of almost 38 years) does have its perks, our continuing investment of time and sweat equity in producing her cooking show together is an interesting exercise in diplomacy and tact, although I must admit that I'm still learning these skills.  Since I have years of experience in NOT telling her what to do in our day-to-day interactions, but have also logged an equal time period spent professionally directing on-camera talent, I realize that Anita must be cutting me massive amounts of slack during the challenges of shooting her show since my directions to her tend to be rather direct and to the point (which most likely could be construed by others as downright curt).

So, luckily for me, Anita, the performing artist, exemplifies forgiveness and professionalism, and it shows on the screen.

Music to Our Ears
Editing has begun on the second Anita's Diabetes Menus cooking show series of DVDs. And, like the first disc of five programs, I personally produced all the theme and background music myself.

I'm finding that composing and recording the music for the programs is one more appealing aspect of creating these shows.  Using GarageBand on my iMac is a hoot and gives me all the recording and editing tools I need to create multitrack tunes that can be adapted for Anita's series.  But, the best part is that we actually own the rights to all the music I make.  No needle-drop or license fees for us.  Nuh-uh. 

However, in the last year or so we have made a substantial investment in musical instruments, microphones and other recording gear needed to build a professional quality recording kit.  But, having creative control and ownership seems worth the expense.  Plus, it just feels right.

I can only hope that our accountant allows us to take deductions for my guitars, bass guitars, midi keyboard, claves, canjo, bowed psaltery, amplifiers and assorted other stuff used to make the tunes for our DVD series.

Our Artistic Bottom Line
Working on Anita's show also makes us respect and admire the work done by other media artists everywhere.  Original ideas flow from the heart and hands (and sometimes feet), and while many times they are not truly appreciated for their many hours of labor, musicians, actors, and other pro artists in all creative pursuits can usually sleep at night with the knowledge that they can get up the next day and personally invent something from nothing. Sometimes other people will even pay for it.

Most of the working artists that I have come in contact with during my career that eek out a living creating original, high-quality art/product don't do it for the money, per se. Neither do they do it because they hope to be famous.  Most do it because they want to give to others what they have to give, which is called talent.  It's the particular trick they do that makes them an individual, a one-of-a-kind phenomenon, and truth teller: an artist.  

I believe we need more artists in the world.

Can I get any thoughtful comments on this final observation?

Monday, August 8, 2011

In the Shadow of the Master

Bolokada Conde, Djembe Master

Last weekend drum aficionados from the Asheville area were treated to a great concert at Jubilee sponsored by Skinny Beats Drum Shop and Gallery. The performance featured notable West African djembe player Bolokada Conde, Chikomo Marimba, and Billy Zanski with his Skinny Beats Drum Crew (also featuring Billy's multi-talented musical partner, Linda Go). Attending with my wife, Anita, I was privileged to videotape the Friday night performance (a still image from the show is above) and experience first hand the power and beauty of this percussive feast. Besides the quintessential drum of the Malinke people of the Sankaran region of Guinea, West Africa, the djembe, the show also featured doundouns, krin, balafon, various small to large marimbas, and assorted other percussion instruments.

But, for this sound fest, no amplification was needed.

The most striking aspect to me personally of the experience of recording the concert was the vibrations produced by many large drums flowing right through my body with an almost electric intensity. Since I was wearing headphones which limited the intensity of the sound of the music to my ears, I was better able to sense the vibration effect as a tactile sensation rather that an aural one, especially in the center of my chest. I must say, it felt pretty good.

The rest of the audience of probably 100 or so fans could hardly hold their seats. At the end of the second song, Billy Zanski asked the crowd to go ahead and dance, or he'd have to come out to the audience and make them. That was all the invitation they needed to hear and they poured out of their chairs to wriggle, jump, and bop to the wildly energetic but tightly synchronized world beats.

And, of course, Bolokada put on a great exhibition of his rhythmic talents. As a world-renouned djembe player, he's got the "chops" AND his authentic Guinea, West African tribal costume to prove it. Bolokada Conde is known worldwide as one of the most exciting and dynamic djembefolas (a master of the djembe drum). While on tour with Les Percussions de Guinea, Bolokada and Billy Zanski became friends. The following year Billy traveled to Guinea to study with Bolokada, and has worked closely with Bolokada ever since.  Billy tries to bring Bolokada to Asheville once a year, and I hope he continues this tradition for many more years.

As an added bonus, Skinny Beats Drum Shop and Gallery also hosted djembe lessons with Bolokada last weekend.  Anita and I both attended a class last Sunday and were able to spend an hour with the drum master and a class of about 20 djembe students.  It was an enjoyable but too short hour that left all in attendance smiling broadly.

Some of Bolokada's CDs and DVDs can be found by clicking the link.  Check them out.  He's the real thing.