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Sunday, August 3, 2008
International Surfing Museum Surfin' Sundays
Huntington Beach Pier, CA

Another day, another show.

How do I prepare for a 6 hour live music show? By going to bed at 2:00am, and getting up at 7:00am. Of course.

Yesterday, August 2, 2008 was the Surf Guitar 101 Convention which started at 12:000 noon, and the live show afterwards which ended at 1:00am. Naturally I was there the whole time recording. By the time I got home at 2:00am, I still had to start downloading my recordings to my computer, to free up space on my CompactFlash cards (I only own 2, and filled up both). I then got up at 7:00am to swap CompactFlash cards and finish downloading all the music from my other card (takes about an hour). After that, I downloaded 100+ photos from my digital camera. It was then shower, breakfast, re-assemble all my recording gear and camera into my bag, and leave by 9:00am to get to the pier in Huntington Beach to setup to record the bands starting at 11:00am. The International Surfing Museum works with the city of Huntington Beach to have live bands performing on the beach. This year it is 6 bands, performing from 11:00am until 5:00pm. Can you think of a better way to spend a day than listening to live surf music while on the beach?

Because there is substantial sound system, the first time I recorded here, I also asked permission of the sound crew to setup on the stage and to ask where I could set up so that I wouldn't be in their way.

I arrived in time to set up my gear and talk with the band. I always ask the band for permission to record if I have not previously received permission. It turns out I had recorded this band once before (about 5 months and about 100 bands ago). It was their first ever live performance in front of an audience. They did remember me, and again gave me permission to record them. We discussed them paying for a copy of both the prior show, as well as the current show. I gave them my card, and they said they would be in touch.

11:00am Norm and The Surf Rockers was the first band up. They filled the stage with musicians. They even had a horn section. They did a number of cover tunes, including some that are not surf tunes. 12:00 noon The AquaSonics from Colorado was the next band up. A much more traditional lineup (2 guitars-with reverb, 1 bass, 1 drum kit and no singers). I did not ask permission to record them this time, as they remembered me from last year when I did ask their permission to record them. The last year when they were in California they paid for my recording of them at the Doll Hut in Anaheim. They still have some of those Doll Hut recordings on their MySpace page . Nothing is finalized yet, but they also expressed an interest in paying for my recording of them from today, as well as from the previous day at the Surf Guitar 101 Convention.

Because I set up my gear on the stage at this venue, and because the International Surfing Museum sets up a booth to the right of the stage where the bands prepare their gear before playing, and because there are tables and chairs set up for the bands, I offered to help the AquaSonics help sell their merchandise. The band accepted, so in addition to keeping an eye on my deck, and taking photos of the band (I take photos of all bands that I audio record), I also had to keep an eye on the merchandise table.

As much as I like to help out bands, I don't sell merchandise for all bands. Think about it, how many bands do you think would be willing to have someone they don't know sell their merchandise? 1:00pm Pollo Del Mar from San Francisco. Same basic lineup as AquaSonics (2 guitars-with reverb, 1 bass, 1 drum kit and no singers), however a very different sound. While this band has never purchased a recording from me, they have given me permission to record them in the past, and are very easy to deal with. Last year at the pier when Pollo Del Mar were on the same bill with the Insect Surfers (I am the Insect Surfers audio archivist, web master, ListServ manager, ... as well as the person who recorded their live album) and I was selling the Insect Surfers merchandise, Pollo Del Mar allowed me to sell their merchandise. This year they asked me if I would sell their merchandise for them. I said I would. Which added extra complication. Pollo Del Mar was not here with their regular lineup. Temporarily they had a guitarist from Meshuggah Beach Party. Who has a band of his own (Tomorrow Men that I had taped in June 2008). However, he know me because Meshuggah Beach Party had paid for a recording from me back in July 2007. So, I volunteered to sell their merchandise as well. None of the bands had a cash box, and at this point I am selling merchandise for 3 bands. Fortunately, I had enough pockets that I placed the cash for each band in a different pocket. 2:00pm Madeira from the midwest. Again, the same basic lineup as AquaSonics (2 guitars-with reverb, 1 bass, 1 drum kit and no singers). Again a very different sound. At this point, many of the audience members assumed I was selling merchandise for all the bands, and they kept coming up to me and asking to buy merchandise for this band. About half way through their set, I walked up on stage (between songs), and asked the band member closest to me what price they were selling their merchandise for. He told me, so I proceeded to set up their merchandise and sell it for them. At this point, I now have merchandise for 4 bands on the table in front of me. Plus I am recording all the bands, and trying to take photos of the bands while they are performing.

Normally I don't walk on stage while a band is performing unless one of my microphones have been knocked over. Since I have been recording at this location for a number of years, and all the backstage crew knows me, I did not have any problems with walking on stage and talking with a band member. I do NOT recommend walking on stage while band is performing. I have been at many shows where someone trying that has gotten tossed out of the venue, or even arrested. 3:00pm Relix are another local band. Again, the same basic lineup as AquaSonics (2 guitars-with reverb, 1 bass, 1 drum kit and no singers). Again a very different sound. I asked this band if they wanted me to sell their merchandise for them. They immediately said yes. I do have a history with this band. Just about every time I have recorded them, they have paid for a copy of the recording. They also use 5 songs off one of my recordings on their CD.

4:00pm Surftones are another local band. This time a 5 piece. One of the members switched between guitar and keyboards. This band performed only cover tunes, mostly surf music related. A couple of band members were singing, as they were doing covers of Beach Boys as well as other surf music bands that sang (and a few non-surf music covers).

Surftones had no merchandise to sell, and the other bands were picking up their unsold merchandise. So I finally had a chance to relax a little bit and ONLY worry about trying to get a good recording, and get some pictures.

My usual procedure when recording bands is to write down the start time of the recording, names of songs where known or placeholders if unknown, and take pictures. If I know the number of songs the band is performing, it is easier to make a CD afterwards. Specially if some tunes are run together. Obviously, when I am concentrating on selling merchandise, I am not able to focus as much on the main reason why I came down here in the first place (recording).

Even taking pictures is not as simple as you might think, because while I am taking photos, I am trying to stay out of the way of other people who are taking pictures, as well as the people with video cameras who are recording the show.

As you can see, I was a bit worn out by the end of the day. However, this day was not over for me yet. Before I could even think about my hour plus drive to get home, I still need to stop in at a client in Santa Monica for another couple of hours of work before heading home.

Chrome Oxide
have audio recorder will travel

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Last updated by Chrome Oxide on 08/03/2008

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