ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-08-17 09:00 am

Bart’s Best Bass Songs List

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Okay. About five years ago I told Daron I’d do a Liner Note. Maybe six. Not sure. I promised some day I’d give you guys my list of best bass songs ever or something like that.

What this actually is, is the list of songs that probably influenced by young mind the most and why I play bass the way I do.

We’ll start in what they now call “classic rock” but when I was a kid was just called “rock.”

Pink Floyd’s “Money” was all over the radio when I was growing up. WBCN was the main station I listened to, coming out of Boston, when we were at the Cape during the summers, and WNEW from New York when we lived in Connecticut. That first instrument you hear after the money sound effects is the bass.

Speaking of Boston, a band from there was of course hugely influential, namely Aerosmith. Listen to the bass groove on this:

Maybe a touch repetitive, but a groove is a groove and the one in Sweet Emotion is damn near perfect.

I had to include this one from Queen, too, which was written by their bass player, John Deacon, so it’s no surprise it has a great bass riff. The story I heard was that the other guys in Queen were encouraging Deacie to write a song so he could make more of the publishing and songwriting money that Freddie and Brian were getting the lion’s share of. He was hanging around with the Bernie Edwards from Chic and came up with the riff, but the song didn’t develop until later. They weren’t planning to release it as a single, but Michael Jackson (who was a close friend of Freddie’s and loved their music) told them they should. They did and it went on to be Queen’s biggest hit all over the world topping pop, rock, and disco charts and selling more copies than any other of their songs.

Of course, two of the most influential frontmen of the late 1970s to early ’80s were bass players, Geddy Lee of Rush, and Sting of the Police.

(By the way, Anna Sentina, hottest bass player on YouTube and I don’t mean that because she’s gorgeous to look at either.)

In the above track, “Walking on the Moon,” you can particularly hear the way the bass and the guitar “talk” to each other. In particular it’s always been my theory of rock song composition that the bass asks the question that the guitar answers. It’s the like straight man who sets up the punch line in a comedy duo.

And of course The Police were hugely influential on me and Daron. We don’t sound anything like them really, since what we do isn’t reggae-inflected in the slightest, but as far as musicality and the way we utilize instrumentation, yeah.

So now we come to my top five actual favorite bass songs.

1. Duran Duran “Rio”
The bass is basically the lead instrument while the guitar is the rhythm. John Taylor was self taught. That didn’t stop him from being a genius. I later heard he was trying to play like Bernie Edwards in Chic. I was too much of a white boy to hear Chic while I was growing up, but Bernie Edwards influenced so many of these guys who influenced me.

This version is a dance remix where the bass part is a little louder than on the regular radio version so you can hear it better:

2. The Cure “Killing an Arab”
3. The Cure “The Lovecats”
I couldn’t decide between the two of these so here are both of them in my top five. “The Lovecats” is another one of those ones where I feel like the bass asks the question and the rest of the band tries to answer it.

(The song isn’t an anti-Arab song, by the way. It’s all a reference to a scene in Albert Camus’ book “The Stranger” but people assumed and/or have used it that way. The Cure ended up playing various charity shows for pro-Arab causes trying to balance out the karma.)

This video of “The Lovecats” is an acoustic version. Robert Smith plays slide guitar on it. The bass part is right on.

4. The Pretenders “My City Was Gone”

There are some great live videos of The Pretenders on tour this past April (2017). They’ve still got it.

5. Shriekback “My Spine is the Bassline”

This one might be a bit more obscure, but you can tell by the title it would have interested young, bass-loving me. And it did not disappoint.

There are lots more that I love but this collection pretty much defines what I’m about as a bass player. I grew up thinking that this was what bass players did. It never occurred to me that in huge swaths of pop music the bass is never this active or even audible. I only heard what I wanted to hear, and that worked out well for me.

Okay, your turn. What are your favorite bass songs?

ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-08-15 09:00 am

You Don’t Know How it Feels

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

We got our twenty minutes. We worked on one song during our soundcheck. We worked on it enough to make me feel like–at least on that one song–we tiptoed back an inch or two from the precipice. The rest of the Star*Gaze set was still going to be like crossing the canyon without a net, though.

Fine. I considered that as a group of professionals we could make the best of it, but I still wasn’t happy about it.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-08-10 12:56 pm

Thursday Fanworks: Vid Rec and Brief Delay

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Today’s post will be up tomorrow, Friday, due to massive writer’s block. In the meantime, here’s the song from the Hamilton Mixtape I’ve been obsessed with this month, “Immigrants (We Get The Job Done)”:

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-08-08 09:00 am


Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The stadium we were playing in Bogota was immense. It took my breath away it was so immense. And that was when it was empty. What was it going to be like full?

Well, okay, three-quarters full, since they didn’t sell tickets for the area behind the stage or alongside. But the general admission to the main field alone was probably still more people than we had typically played to in most shows in our lives.

That shouldn’t have intimidated me.

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ceciliatan: (default)
2017-08-03 05:41 pm

Schedule for #Outwrite2017 keynote speaker Cecilia Tan

This weekend is the Outwrite queer lit fest in Washington, DC, and I’m honored to be this year’s keynote. Instead of doing a dull speech about how ancient and wise I am (hah) I’m doing a pile of events and panels:

FRIDAY NIGHT I’ll be one of the lineup of storytellers at Smut Slam Cabaret, where I’ll tell a brief adventure of how being an erotica writer almost sent me to the emergency room. Don’t try this at home, kids. No wait, home is exactly where you should try these things…

Free and open to the public!

I’ll be exhibiting and selling books from 10am to 1pm and then sporadically between my many shindigs:

Panel on queer publishing. With me will be Lisa Moore (Redbone Press), Steve Berman (Lethe Press), Lori Perkins (Riverdale Ave Books), and moderated by S. Andrea Allen (BLF Press).

I’ll tell you a tale of how the past 25 years of publishing adventure has gone, and to keep it interesting we’ll make it a bingo game! That way you can win books. Come have fun with me.

I’ll be reading with three other authors, Christian Baines, Dena Hankins, and Michael M. Jones.

With me will be some of the writers and editors on the front lines of the intersection of sex writing and politics, Sunny Moraine, Michael M. Jones, and Lori Perkins.

All events except the Smut Slam are at The DC Center For the LGBTQ Community, 2000 14th Street NW, Suite 105, Washington, DC 20009.

If you’re on Facebook you can see the complete lineup of events here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/outwritedc/events/

If you’re avoiding Facebook for political reasons, unfortunately I can’t find the full schedule of events anywhere, and given that many LGBTQ folks have very good reasons to avoid Facebook it’s a bit disappointing that the event’s main website doesn’t seem to have a schedule up (but maybe I’m just not looking in the right place): http://thedccenter.org/outwrite/

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-08-03 10:00 am

Casting Call: Other supporting cast

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Character Overview

This callout is for characters who play smaller roles in DGC – mostly introduced via other more significant characters .

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-08-02 03:34 pm

Unexpected Bonus Post: Missing Chapter 748

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Like the title says, here’s a surprise bonus post!! Explanation below:

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-08-01 09:00 am

Fading Like a Flower (Every Time You Leave)

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

We were slated for two shows in Bogota with a day off in between. By the time we cleared customs and reached our hotel it was night. Ziggy was immediately whisked off to meet some press people. I did not mind not having to go with him, even if I wished we could have spent some downtime together.

I went to my room. Despite having had a long nap on the plane, I was bone tired and I was feeling anti-social.

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ceciliatan: (default)
2017-07-28 09:00 am

The #RWA17 Workshop on Creating Ensemble Casts

I’m at the RWA national conference in Orlando right now, where there’s always something more to think about, learn, or analyze about writing or romance publishing. In particular one writing craft panel I wanted to highlight was yesterday I attended a great panel workshop given by four New York Times bestselling authors: Lexi Blake, Cynthia Eden, Laura Kaye, and Rebecca Zanetti. The topic was on creating a large cast of characters to carry a series and the room was packed.

The discussion ranged over various details from the nuts and bolts of creating a series “bible” to keep all the details right from book to book (character eye color, favorite catch phrases, back stories, each character’s hidden secret or flaw, etc) to developing secondary characters into primary ones when “their turn for a book” comes.

I didn’t transcribe the entire panel since I was trying to focus on absorbing things relevant to me, but two questions in particular I got down almost every word, and I’m posting to share it with everyone.

Laura Kaye acted as moderator, asking the leading questions for the panel and then finishing off giving her own answer.

First she asked the panelists to describe the pros and cons of working with large casts.

Cynthia Eden: We’ve all heard the expression that no man or woman is an island? Characters don’t exist in isolation. You’re never just writing about one individual. You are by circumstance always writing about a cast of characters. You give them an instant background with their family and friends. With my romantic suspense novels I like to use teams. I write FBI teams. You’re going to need a lead investigator, a profiler, an ME, etc. You’re going to need all these people. So that’s a major pro. And any cast leads to sequels. That’s the biggest pro because it has your reader eager to go on to the next book.

Lexi Blake: Pro of a large cast? It’s fun! I like to write a lot of dialogue and you get a lot of dialogue when you have a big ol’ cast of characters. The con is… I guess there isn’t one. Well, maybe it’s that you have to make each character unique. That can be a challenge. (But that’s fun, too.)

Rebecca Zanetti: A large cast is great to show characterization. You act differently with different people. I have one sister I tease like crazy and one that I can’t. You can show different facets of a character and that’s one I like a lot. Also the slow burn character, I love. That person who shows up in book one and they build up for a long time before they get their story. You can develop them over a series. The con is you sometimes get too many people on a page. Even if you’re on book 4 or 5 of a series, you hope new readers are picking them up. You don’t want to confuse that new reader with too many new characters all at once.

Lexi: Well, and as you write the books they get longer because you keep having to put everyone’s favorite characters in there. Then you have to do the backyard BBQ scene to get them all in!

Laura Kaye: I agree, on the backyard BBQ. The thing that is great about having all these characters is you have the built in relationships where it’s easy to have humor, and it’s easy to have stakes because there are many people who could be hurt or feel lied-to or betrayed. Lots of emotional hooks for your readers. Not just for your sequels where they buy into a beloved secondary character, but for the tertiary characters who can manage to hook interest and get pulled into the story. You can expand a series if it takes off and starts doing well. It gives you the flexibility to do spin-offs. The cons are that your POV characters can’t just absorb a tennis match of other people talking. They have to be engaged in the conversation. Then there’s the giant pronoun problem when you have, say, five military guys on your team planning a mission and you have to figure out the mechanics of writing that dialogue so it’s not monotonous to the reader. The other con is if you’re going with a traditional publisher and you have 5 main characters, but your publisher stops after three books. You can end up with disappointed readers on your hands.

What are some tips for developing such a large number of characters? What are some tips for distinguishing them?

Rebecca: One thing I like is nicknames, if he calls her honey or sweetcheeks makes a difference. Also their motivations. If you play a joke on one friend, they laugh, another one never forgives you. They’re different. There are the little tidbits you put in. I have one guy that likes grape energy drinks and if I don’t put that in readers will write and say does he not like those anymore? Also their wounds. What hurt this guy, what is he still afraid of?

Lexi: if you don’t know those characters, the reader won’t know them. I think you don’t have to know everything before you start, but you have to know what makes them laugh, what makes them cry. I’ve written a lot of small town romance. And getting to know the neighbors and walking through the town can pull you in. But even an office building can have a sense of place. Put your characters around a table and see who talks first. If you’re just putting traits in a notebook and there’s no real emotion behind them it’s going to show. I love using dialogue. Some speak, fast, some slow, and you need to be able to hear them in your head.

Cynthia: I like to work with opposites on a team. You’ll have one guy who’s the hothead and always jumps right in. Then I have a team member who likes to sit back and get all the info before jumping in. So she and the first guy are going to have a clash. My action-first character, if he’s angry, he’s not just going to sit still. He’ll be pacing and clenching his fists and all that. All this body language that this character is doing with reveal his personality. The one who is the analytical sort? She’s not going to just kick in a door. She’ll be trying to talk the person down. Those personality styles lead me into what they should do in each scene. You don’t want them doing something that isn’t their normal nature without a really, really good explanation. Be aware, though, I’ve had New York editors tell me that the way I talk isn’t real, people don’t say that. I’m Southern. Something that seems so normal to me was something they didn’t like. But I think bringing in realistic dialect is a great way to distinguish the characters.

Laura: Think of it as a shorthand for your character. I learned a lot about creating unique characters from reading JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series. One is the blind king who wears the weird sunglasses. And one is the sarcastic one with the dragon tattoo who sucks on lollipops all the time. Then there’s the black-eyed, scarred one who is soulless and never speaks. I don’t even have to use their names: they’re immediately distinct. And when all twelve are in a room having a briefing session, you don’t have to use their names, because you know when so quickly from their distinguishing characteristics who’s who. Also, what are things that make the reader see them as endearing or real, that make the reader fall in love with that person? That grape energy drink or they’re a dog-lover or whatever. The more you can create those personal things the better, beyond scars and tattoos, beyond eye color and hair color. I have a lot of guys who swear but they can’t all say “Aw, hell.” Only one of them can say that and the other guys have to say something else.

As usual, the conference has been fantastic. If you are writing romance, or any kind of commercial fiction, I highly recommend attending one of these if you can afford it. In romance, I really feel I can’t afford *NOT* to be here!

Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-07-25 09:00 am

Cold Shot

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

The “inspection” required all of the equipment to be unloaded. From some things Barrett said I gather they didn’t believe we’d actually go through with it. Thank goodness we weren’t traveling with a full lighting rig and stage set, I guess?

That still took hours. The crew were none too happy about having to go do it, either, but better them than risk having the government goons move the stuff and possibly break it.

Hours and hours. I’m honestly not sure if we ever would have gotten off the ground there if some other governmental types–who had gotten better schmoozed at our post-show party, I suppose?–hadn’t intervened. I don’t know. All the details are fuzzy.

I’ll give you one guess why the details are so fuzzy.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-07-20 10:00 am

Casting Call: The music biz

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

Character Overview

Not just a story about a talented musician navigating the music scene in the ’80’s while being gay – DGC shines a light on the biz itself.

This callout is for characters who work (or hang onto those who work) in the music biz.

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ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
2017-07-18 09:00 am

Road to Nowhere

Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

(A couple of quick reminders!

  • Remember to have a look at last week’s Casting of Carynne, Colin, and a few other folks!
  • RSVP if you are coming to the August 20th meetup in Louisville, KY!
  • There are still a few slots open for Fanworks Thursdays!
    Love you all! -ctan)

  • I was more alert while getting on the plane this time. I still felt like a jerk for having other people carry pretty much everything for me, but at least I didn’t give myself a cramp in my hand, and we could proceed with my non-show-day medication regimen.

    This time I noticed that the different parts of the entourage were in different parts of the plane. The roadies and stagehands were all the way in the back. The band was in the section in front of them— behind the bulkhead galley and the overwing table section. The dancers were in front of the table section. Management had taken over business class. And what I guess I have to call Ziggy’s inner circle took first class and the upstairs lounge.

    Read the rest of this entry » )
    ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
    2017-07-13 10:00 am

    Casting Call: Friends… and more

    Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

    Character Overview

    The story covers a number of years and throughout, friends and love-interests appear – and disappear.

    This callout is for characters who play an important part in the life of our hero Daron as either friends or lovers.

    Read the rest of this entry » )
    ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
    2017-07-11 09:00 am

    What Can You Do For Me

    Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

    I woke some time in the morning to find I was snuggled against Colin. No panic this time. He was deeply asleep and I didn’t have enough energy or neurotransmitters to panic at that point.

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    ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
    2017-07-04 09:00 am

    Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing

    Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

    (Happy Fourth of July everyone!)
    I was not in the mood for a party after the show, but there was going to be one whether I was in the mood or not. When you drag a bunch of young, creative people partway across the planet and then have several thousand people scream adulation at them, some partying is inevitable, but especially on opening night. And especially given that everyone knew how hard we’d worked to get this show to where it was.

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    ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
    2017-06-27 09:00 am

    Top of the Pops

    Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

    Tell me. When do you think the worst possible time for my hand to cramp up would be? In the middle of the show? Right at the beginning of the acoustic segment with me and Ziggy? Right in the middle of “Candlelight?” The fact that it happened the in the five minutes before we went on proves that things could have been worse. Right?

    Read the rest of this entry » )
    ceciliatan: (default)
    2017-06-26 02:39 pm

    Coming Out as a Slytherin

    Ars Technica published an article by me on Pride Day (yesterday, traditionally the last Sunday in June) entitled “Coming Out as a Slytherin.”

    In the article I detail how there have been a series of “closets” whose doors I have had to kick down, from coming out as bisexual in the 1980s, to coming out as a pro who also wrote fanfic in the 2000s, to, eventually, realizing I had to come out as Slytherin, too.

    In the article I talk about the pervasiveness of the anti-Slytherin bias in the books, which carries right through from Harry’s first hearing of the word through the epilogue:

    “One of the magics of the Potter books for me was that as I read them, I was transported back to feeling like a kid again. … My journey as a fan… started from a childlike devouring of the books where I took Harry’s journey at face value. Harry hated Snape and Draco? I hated Snape and Draco. Harry thought all Slytherins are bad? I thought all Slytherins are bad. It’s a book for kids, right? A simplistic worldview is appropriate and comforting.”

    “But the moment I leapt into fandom headlong was also when book six, Half-Blood Prince, came out. In that book, Harry keeps on thinking that Snape and Draco are villains. It’s also a book where many adult readers started realizing that Snape and Draco are victims. I went back and re-read the entire series through Snape and Draco’s eyes and what I saw was very different.”

    “I guess you could say it was the Potter fandom equivalent of being woke.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Mirrored from blog.ceciliatan.com.

    ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
    2017-06-22 10:00 am

    Casting Call: Family

    Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

    Character Overview

    Growing up, Daron’s family life left a lot to be desired. When Daron moves out on his own, he tries to leave his family behind.

    Read the rest of this entry » )
    ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
    2017-06-20 09:00 am

    One Shot

    Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

    From an objective viewpoint, the Star*Gaze opening set was probably a perfectly adequate performance.

    But I don’t have an objective viewpoint. I thought it was excruciatingly terrible.

    Read the rest of this entry » )
    ceciliatan: (darons guitar)
    2017-06-17 12:42 pm

    Sometimes It’s a Bitch

    Mirrored from the latest entry in Daron's Guitar Chronicles.

    (This Saturday chapter brought to you by generous donations to the Tip Jar! Thank you especially Frank and Bill and Wendy! -ctan)

    The first time I saw Ziggy that day was when I arrived at the venue with Carynne, who brought me over separate from the rest of everyone. He had a gaggle of Spanish-speaking press around him so I didn’t approach.

    The venue was another space-age wonder. On the day sheet it had been listed as “Estacionamiento del Poliedro de Caracas.” I was under the impression that “estacionamiento” meant parking garage but I thought maybe I was wrong, or maybe Venezuelan Spanish didn’t use the same words as the mishmash of Castilian and Puerto Rican that I could normally make out. “Poliedro” was a mystery until our driver used the English: The Polyhedron. The name made sense as soon as I saw the place. The roof was polyhedral, one shallow slice of a geodesic dome. Groovy. So to speak.

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