“The Street Below” (Live in the Studio)

This is a live in the studio version of “The Street Below” from my debut album, Jamie Bonk. I wrote this tune all the way back in 1991 when Sonya and I were living in an apartment on a somewhat busy downtown Toronto street. We’re living in an apartment in Port Moody now, above a different (and thankfully calmer) street, but for me not a lot has changed. I still like looking at the traffic passing by, still like staying up way too late and I still like (even after 30 years!) playing “The Street Below”. Thank you for taking the time to listen and, as always, I hope you like the music.

Art Focus Artists’ Association Virtual Art Show “Visions and Vistas”

So happy to have my music and some shots with me playing around Port Coquitlam included in the Art Focus Artists’ Association of Port Coquitlam Virtual Art Show “Visions and Vistas”. Art Focus, Babylon Film Studios and Tri-Cities Community TV did fantastic work putting together the four videos which showcase over 80 original artworks. For more info, please visit artfocusartistsassociation.com

“Rain” (Live in the Studio)

From my second album, “A Perfect Tomorrow”, here’s a live in the studio version of “Rain”.  I’ve played this tune on gigs for 20 years or so now and I’m still finding new things to add to it.  All of the outdoor/non-studio shots are from right around here — either by the Inlet (Port Moody) or Barnet Marine Park (Burnaby). 

Neumann NDH 20 Headphones

Studio Shot with Neumann NDH 20 Headphones (November 2020)

Very occasionally a product works pretty much exactly how I would like it to. Checks all of the want/need boxes and actually goes beyond what I was hoping for. The Neumann NDH 20 Headphones that I picked up a little while ago are just about perfect for what I do (whether that’s writing, recording or engineering).

First off, the NDH 20’s are extremely comfortable, so I’m able to wear them for long periods of time. If headphones are uncomfortable in any way I just can’t use them — simply can’t concentrate on the music I’m working on. The build quality is also incredible. They feel rock solid and substantial. My guess is unless you are really hard on gear (I’m not), these headphones will last for a long, long time.

The NDH 20’s are closed back headphones, which is important for me. My studio is by a somewhat noisy road and the NDH 20’s cut out quite a bit of the stuff I don’t want to hear. This isn’t to say the headphones completely isolate me from all of the V8 pickups, muscle cars and leaf blowers, but they do help me to better focus on my music.

Obviously, sound quality matters a lot and can be very subjective. Some people want headphones (and/or speakers) to give them a hyped vibe (i.e. boatloads of low end, sizzling high end, etc.). I’m the opposite — I want whatever system I’m listening to to be as neutral as possible. This is where the NDH 20’s really shine. I have an Apogee Element 24 and when using the Neumann’s with that interface, the sound is very flat and remarkably clear. The headphones are also loud — they have way more output than I need.

So what’s not to like? Well… I don’t like the sound of the cable rubbing against my shirt. Neumann used a texturally rough cable and you can definitely hear the cable when it touches your clothes. The sound transfers inside the headphones. Also, they flipped the cable output — put the cable out on the right headphone instead of the left. Not a big deal and it actually works better for my setup, but still it’s different than I’m used to.

Would I recommend these headphones to someone? Maybe. Really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re primarily a casual listener, then I’m not sure these guys are for you. I find the NDH 20’s to be very revealing — I hear details in music I’ve listened to forever that I never noticed before. Personally, when I’m listening to music for enjoyment, I can find it distracting to suddenly be aware of amp hiss, weird edit points, etc. On the other hand, if you’re working on the creative/production side of the equation, the Neumann NDH 20’s are an amazing tool and I’m happy I have the opportunity to use them.

Little Things and Why They Matter

More often than not, whenever I learn about someone who is good at what they do, I see some similar patterns. Sure the patterns are somewhat specific to their own area of expertise, but many (all?) care deeply about not only the bigger picture, but also the little things. I think it’s pretty rare to find a hockey player who doesn’t care about their stick or a violinist who is totally indifferent to their bow.

I’m certainly not immune to the battle between the forest and the trees and I’m never sure if I’m getting the mix just right. I have boxes and bags full of different bits of gear — all kinds of strings made out of a multitude of materials, picks in just about every shape and, of course, in a huge variety of thicknesses. I also have tons of stuff that I can’t even remember why I bought it. Must have made sense at the time and I probably thought I really, really needed it.

And that’s the point — those little things are part of the process for me. Every bit matters even if I can’t tell you now why something had value in the past. What’s important to me, is continuing to have some of my focus on the building blocks of my music — both on the gear and technical side of things and on the compositional and performance elements.