Don Quixote Tries To Mount A Musical Comeback!


Believe it or not, I actually kinda sorta had a music career. In hindsight, it was strange that a kid who wound up never actually making it in the "big leagues" would lose his virginity to a now-legendary female rocker, or soul kiss one of Rod Stewart's exes in a super-secret after hours club in Chicago's meat-packing district after merely complementing her on her hat, or jam on an actual CCR song with John Fogerty in, of all places, an Indiana dive bar.

In hindsight, it's amazing how moments like that can propel you through the tough times and the endless indifference that faces most musicians who aspire to make their own music. Looking back on it now, I kinda wish it hadn't because maybe I'd have smartened up sooner rather than later.


Even though I never was able to get my fingers around that brass ring, I did manage to sell over 50,000 copies of four indie-released albums despite barely spending $500 in actual promotion over the course of my entire career. Sometimes, the what if's keep me up nights: What if I'd had more money to make the records? What if I'd approached this person to produce instead of that person? What if I'd moved to L.A. sooner rather than later? What if I'd stayed in college and gotten some sort of marketable degree, if there is such a thing? The list goes on...

Music is kind of like the mafia, though. Just when you think you're out of it, you get pulled back in. You get a song idea in the car or at the supermarket and the juices immediately start flowing. You start thinking about calling so-and-so to book time at their studio, thinking about which musicians you can call up to play on the session, and then you have to remind yourself, ahem, you gave all that stress and aggravation up for a steady (but laughable) paycheck and a quiet life in the shadows.

Even so, considering the fact that, from the first moment that I could, I chose to make music for the prospective record labels and radio formats of the day instead of for myself, I have been haunted by a nagging question: What sort of music would I make if I made it for ME - free of all outside interference?

This proved to be a question I could not merely ignore and so, for the past year, I've been trying to answer that question. Thing is, I had long ago sold all my guitars, amps and recording gear. 

This wasn't a bad thing, per se, as this would allow me an opportunity to embrace technology to streamline the creative process...right?

Wrong.

Anyone who presumes that the digital age and computer-based recording makes the creative process easier is too young to know how easy it used to be. There is certainly something to be said for the ease of merely hitting the "RECORD" button on your Porta-Studio or analog recording set-up and going to town, so to speak.

These days, analog recording is the musical equivalent of writing a book on a typewriter: It can be done, but you've got to really want to go that route - and go out of your way to take that route. If you are fortunate enough to get your hands on some vintage machinery at a decent price, what if something goes wrong and needs to be fixed?

Fearing that eventual reality and being on a limited budget, I chose to embrace technology as much as possible. So I found an outdated copy of Pro Tools, bought a MIDI controller and began the prospect of falling in love with music all over again.

I soon found Pro Tools to be buggy and completely counter-intuitive to the way I was used to recording. My hopes of being able to simply press "RECORD" when inspiration struck did not become as much of a reality as I had hoped and, many times, my desire to just "knock something out" found me wrestling with a myriad of technical issues.

I eventually decided to begin looking at other recording packages, such as Cubase and Ableton and something called Frooty Loops. I found myself spending long hours playing around with demo versions and scouring YouTube for tutorial videos, hoping to find the one DAW that works for me.

Fast forward to this week: I decide that FL Studio 12 is the best, most user-friendly DAW of them all and become just familiar enough with the software to get things done with a minimum of annoyance. After playing around with the demo version for weeks, which gives you complete use of the software but restricts you from re-opening song files that you closed, I finally pop for the full version of the software with a decent amount of musical plug-ins included.

Upon completing the purchase, it takes Image-Line (the maker of the software) 24 hours to deliver the registration codes to "unlock" the software. Literally within seconds of me completing this process and rubbing my hands with anxious anticipation of diving into the deep end, without any provocation, the USB connection on my ever-so-lightly-used Akai MPK Mini breaks off inside the casing, once again throwing a wrench into the proverbial spokes of creativity.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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