Thursday, June 23, 2011

In the Studio

The Devil's Tailors are (finally) recording our first album! It will cover our oldest repertoire, the stuff we were playing pretty much when Susanne joined the band, leaving us with an additional album's worth of material for the next effort.

This past weekend, Jim came over to my house and we laid down five scratch tracks and four guitar tracks, and on Tuesday night Chris came over and we recorded a click track for one of his songs. Jim will be returning Sunday morning to record three more click tracks and four guitar tracks. And I've got a workaround in place for a click track for sets where we're changing tempo, like those with a strathspey/reel and/or march/strathspey transition.

We're very excited to be finally doing this, and hope to have an album to sell in the late fall. Not soon enough for the Virginia Games, probably, but soon after that.

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Performance Dates

We've just booked some interesting gigs. We'll be playing the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory's Diversity Day festival on June 8th, with Lilt's Keith Carr sitting in for Chris Lindsay (who's on travel), the Homespun Ceilidh Band's Jennifer Lubell joining us for some steps & bodhran, along with Rosemary Hall, who'll be returning to play with us for a third time.

On July 6th, we'll be playing an employee picnic for the folks at the Smithsonian on the DC National Mall, playing on one of the stages put up for the Folklife Festival (which will be on break). A lot of acts put in bids for this one, and we are very pleased to be asked to perform.

We're also finalizing a concert-on-the-lawn at the Carlyle House in Alexandria, VA. This is a new concert series they're putting on, and is open and free to the public, so come on out. Dates are still being discussed, but we're probably looking at late July.

We're also likely to play a birthday party in August, and are looking at a possible pub gig, before the Virginia Scottish Games over Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Some New Tunes

The Devil's Tailors will begin looking aggressively at new festivals & venues to play, and we're hoping to be performing a lot more in the fall.

In preparation for this, we've dusted off a few sets we haven't played in a while, specifically a great - and very challenging - set of stathspeys and reels in C and G (major and minor), a set of very elegant Scots Measures in D minor, a hornpipe/reel set, some old Highland jigs, and a set of equally old slip jigs. And a few songs we've performed a couple of times but really are looking to polish up.

Fun times are afoot!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Proud Moment

I had the good fortune to catch Laura Cortese "and friends" (Natalie & Brittany Haas, and Mariel Vandersteel) last week at The Lyceum in Alexandria. Great show, mostly focused on Laura's songs, showing Laura's continued evolution away from the strict Scottish/Celtic idiom.

Before the show, Kent Murray (who produced the event) was making announcements, and asked Sarah Brenzo, president of the Celtic Society of Southern Maryland, who was playing at their upcoming festival. After listing a couple of names, Sarah, sitting right behind me, proudly added, "The Devil's Tailors are also playing!". Kent nodded, and asked, "Great. Is Peter here?"

Thought that was a nice plug for a band yet to break out, like ours.


Micing the Smallpipes

One of the persistent challenges I've faced is how to amplify all my various instruments, and mute them individually where necessary. I've pretty much worked out the system for my fiddle, big pipes, and finally the flute. I use a 4-input mini-mixer to balance the levels of the various instruments, and a volume pedal (for the fiddle) and stomp boxes to mute the various channels.

The smallpipes have been a tough nut to crack. Previously we'd given them their own vocal mic channel, shared with Chris' bodhran. The levels on these two instruments were so different, though, that it proved impractical. And there's the issue of the sound guy forgetting to turn up the smallpipe mic (as happened at Southern Maryland last year). Chris loaned me a wireless vocal mic package to try to use, and we thought we'd got it balanced in time for the Tartan Day gig - but the mic was so hot it ended up being a feedback magnet.

So I'm going to try a new approach for Southern Maryland this year: I will run a vocal mic through my mini-mixer, and have a dedicated stand for it, which will also host the mic stand clips for my whistles and flutes. The mic and cable will be stored in my pedal case, and the levels pre-set, so it'll be transparent to the sound guy. It would also facilitate me using the border pipes as well, which I'd like to do on Tramps & Hawkers eventually.

Wish me luck!

In other news, look for some minor site updates this afternoon in the "Calendar" and "The Band" sections.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tartan Day 2011 & Band Update

The National Tartan Day Festival in Old Town Alexandria was one of the more challenging gigs we've played this year, mainly because of some very Scottish weather! Despite a forecast of 18% chance of 0.01" of rain through the day, we alternated between bouts of pouring rain and sunshine through the whole day. Much of the day was spent waiting for breaks in the rain to bring out our performers. Scheduling conflicts reduced our turnout of performers this year, but we had good crowds considering the weather.

The City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums put in a fantastic performance during one of our dry spells, and we did a long set early in the afternoon and a short set to wrap up the show. It was a lot of fun to have our friends at the Carlyle House, Celtic Society of Southern Maryland, and Virginia Scottish Games in the audience to hear us, and we appear in the video that the Washington Times put up, shown below:

Especially fun was having fiddler Rosemary Hall play with us again, and we've invited her to join the band for all future gigs for which she's available (what with starting college in the fall!).

We've taken something of a hiatus, performing only two public events, plus a birthday party and a Burns supper, in the last year, but we're back and trying to get into venues and festivals, and are hoping to be playing a lot more in the last half of this year. We've added new songs to our repertoire: Hi Ri Him Bo, John Barleycorn, and Craigieburn Wood; and are working on some new instrumentals, specifically some slip jigs, a hornpipe/jig set and a hornpipe/reel set.

And it's finally that time. Soon we will sit down and begin to record our first album.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Shows!

The Devil's Tailors are coming off a bit of a break and are playing shows again. Come check us out at Market Square in Old Town Alexandria, VA on April 2nd for the National Tartan Day celebration, and on April 30th at the Southern Maryland Celtic Festival!