Hello everyone and Happy New Year!
Feedback on the new record has been really positive, and we sincerely thank everyone for supporting us. I’m personally thrilled to be a part of this fantastic band, and look forward to getting out and meeting a lot of you folks in 2013.
We’ll keep you guys informed of any show/ tour info as it develops, so until then peace and keep rockin!
Sometimes it’s difficult to say “No”. In the midst of all my practicing, rehearsing, and promotion duties preparing for the coming concert performances of Presto Ballet, I was asked to record a drum track in a low-key studio session. For me, recordings have become an aural scrapbook, so I always try to accommodate session work. One day I’ll listen back to all those different recordings and say, “Wow… so that’s what I was up to for all those years!” Despite everything else going on, I decided to squeeze this one in for the sake of posterity.
I would be playing the song “Teen Town” from the group Weather Report, the seminal jazz fusion band. They achieved great success in the genre from the mid to late 1970s, on into the 1980s. Many famous master musicians performed in the various line-ups, among them Jaco Pastorius, one of the great jazz bassists of all time. He influenced many who came after him, particularly because of his mastery of the fretless bass. As with many brilliant artists, he was a victim of mental illness and substance abuse, and met an untimely demise after a violent altercation with a barroom bouncer. Such a meaningless passing for so gifted a musician.
The session was organized by Ken Coffman, a promoter putting together a Jaco Pastorius tribute project with bassist Spencer Campbell. They wanted my rendering of the song’s studio version so Spencer could play along to a “drums only” track in his preparations for playing Jaco’s style. I spent a couple of weeks practicing the piece, transcribing a note-for-note version of the original – check it out. My goal was to get the performance as close to this chart as possible. I learned that Jaco himself played the drums on the original, and apparently there was a hi-hat overdub part. I had to cover the bases without doing an overdub, so the song was challenging even though it was less than three minutes in length. What’s interesting is Jaco didn’t necessarily play like “a drummer”. Some figures were very difficult to execute because of his phrasing. Eventually the parts became memorized in my hands, so I wasn’t always looking at the chart.
The recording took place at London Bridge Studios in Seattle. A bit of history – London Bridge is where many famous and important Seattle recordings were made. It played a prominent role in bringing the “Grunge” sound to the charts with bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice In Chains. The studio even has a Wiki page. I’ve recorded there several times with the wonderful owner/producer/engineer Jonathan Plum. He has always pulled great tones out of my drums, and the big sound room at the studio is perfect for many musical settings.
Once the session got rolling we recorded the note-for-note version of “Teen Town” in three takes, the second one being the best performance. After that, Ken threw me a curve ball. He wanted to have a special improvised drum track that followed the song, but really showcased some flamboyant drumming. He wanted to hear some chops. This was intimidating because although I have some jazz fusion influences, that style has not been my focus in the last several years. Generally, I plan like crazy when I know I’m going to record. In this situation I had to “unlearn” everything and just let it flow. And guess what – it wasn’t half bad! I can hear the spontaneity in the performance, and instead of over-analyzing in the control room, I embraced the chaos! In playing this fusion music, I employed some fusion of my own – mixing careful, thought-out playing with reckless abandon… and liking it! Isn’t it nice when the unexpected turns out better than you expected? Moral of the story: When you decide to say “Yes” instead of “No”, just go for it!
We actually filmed the session, primarily as an assessment tool for me. You can really examine certain elements of your playing which just isn’t possible with an audio-only recording. Here’s some links to the videos –
Teen Town (original version)
Teen Town (improvised version)
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We’re giving thanks to all our fans today, you guys have been great! So great in fact, that we’ve sold out all of the band’s copies of the Relic CDs! You can still shop with us, but if you buy one from our website, it’s going to take you to this location: http://www.therecordlabel.net/progressive-rock/presto-ballet/. Don’t freak out, that’s just where all the CDs are!
We have lots of Relic vinyl albums though, that would make a great Christmas gift… just saying.
The band has been rehearsing for shows next year, and we’d like to hear from you. What songs do you want to hear? I started a conversation about it on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PrestoBallet, if you want to get your request to the band stop by and weigh in! Personally, I’m hoping to get ‘The Puzzle’ added, but don’t let me influence you…
Thank you all for your support, and I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season!
Bobby, and Presto Ballet
We just want to say thanks to everybody for the great response we have gotten to the new album, we are thrilled that it has been so well received.
It’s always a difficult transition when replacing a singer, but I knew that Chuck would do a fantastic job.
The next order of business is to get Presto out playing live. We are quite convinced that we have to get over to Europe and the UK as quickly as possible. I still want the band to play here in the US as much as we are able to, so we will be soliciting the prog festivals both here and abroad. We had such a great time at the Studio 7 show and want to keep up the gigging, but I have to say that it’s going to be hard to draw a crowd around here playing prog. Lets try to change that, huh????????
On another note… I found it quite interesting that the same day the new album was released it was already up for download in its entirety on some of the pirate sites!!!!!!! So who ever it was that got a advance copy and uploaded it.. thanks a lot!!!! That really helps us out…. NOT!!
Okay, I will quit bitching… I know, I know, it’s the way things are now, but to have it available that fast was a bit much.
Again, thanks for the great response to Relic Of The Modern World. Just to let everyone know… the title track does set up the next album. It will be the continuing story of Andy and where he goes after he disappears from us. And yes, it will be a double concept album!! Of course it will be.. it’s the next logical step for Presto, right?? And yes it will be a double VINYL record. Having this new album on an actual record just seems to make it more real somehow. If nothing else it’s sure a whole lotta fun to make records again!!
Thanks everyone, and God Bless.
Well, it’s all coming full circle, and I for one couldn’t be happier! I have been missing vinyl records for a few years now, so last year I got a good old Pioneer turntable and dug out all my old records again. Not only is this just one hell of a lot of fun, it has made me realize how much of the whole listening experience has been lost since CDs and downloads have taken over. Also, since so many companies are re-releasing SO many classic titles on vinyl and 180 gram vinyl too, that it fits perfectly into what Presto Ballet is all about.
Since it seems that a good portion of the music buying public feels the same way these days, Presto Ballet will be making our next record for the vinyl format first. We will still be releasing our records on CD and you will still be able to download from the usual places… but it will be the vinyl format that will determine the design.
What that means is this….
The album’s length will be shorter (roughly 20 minutes per side), and the artwork design will be for a gatefold album cover. It will then be shrunk down to fit a CD booklet, not the other way around. (Modern CDs are just WAY too long these days, and I for one have CDs that I really like but still haven’t heard the entire album yet!) This also means that the recording and especially the mastering processes will not be the modern “FULL BLAST” method, which is the way CDs are mastered these days in order to sound good on today’s digital mediums.
One of the most important aspects of this return to vinyl is having a “proper” album cover… when you put the record on you will have an actual piece of art in your hands, not some goofy little piece of plastic with some pictures and text that you can barely read. When you buy an actual album you are not only buying the music but you are also getting something much more substantial… you are getting the ENTIRE experience that the artist intended. And one other thing, VINYL SOUNDS BETTER!! No more digital fatigue!!
In addition, getting back to actual “records” again will help keep music from being so damn disposable!!! Digital formats are very convenient, no question, but when you have to take a moment to pull the record from it’s sleeve, put it on the turntable and drop the needle, you’ll find that you will pay more attention to what you’re listening to.
And THAT is the way it should be.
So… the new Presto Ballet album will be in a not only be in a gatefold cover with a full color sleeve, but there will also be an actual poster included. (Remember how cool THAT was??) Again, we still be releasing it on CD, but if you want to experience the music the way it was intended then get the vinyl. Our plans are for the bands next records to be designed for vinyl first as well.
Everybody go out and get yourself a good turntable and let’s start listening to music the way we are supposed to! Treat yourself to the full experience of buying a piece of art again.
Also, here is a very cool link to check out!!
Finally another blog!! I know, I know, I’m really bad at this… but now that we have our new singer we actually have something to blog about!
We are so happy to have Chuck Campbell on board with Presto. It’s always so difficult to change singers because the sound of the band changes (obviously), but I’m sure you will totally dig what Chuck is bringing to the band. We sure do.
It’s been so hard having all these line-up changes, but I think we finally have stabilized. Everyone that is in the band now have been warned that if they quit for any reason that they will burst into flames!!
We have decided to start lining up shows and get this train rollin’ before a wheel falls off or something. Anyone and everyone out there who wants to have Presto Ballet come to your town, or any bands that would like to do some shows together, get in touch and let’s see what we can work out. That means not only here in the U.S. but everywhere!
Now to the new album….
Now that Chuck is on board I can get back to work on the new album. I have to say that I’m REALLY digging these new songs. At this stage the album is now starting to take on a shape and a direction. It is still very much in the Presto classic rock/prog style, but for a change of flavor we have one HUGE epic track that will take up one side of what will be an actual vinyl record. The other “side” of the album will be a few more straight forward type songs. This time out we have our first song contribution from Kerry, and it’s going to blow your mind! It’s quite incredible actually. Basically the new album is laid out the same way 2112 is laid out. I just felt it was time to dig into the major epic thing, since we really haven’t done that yet. I guess that means next we have to do a concept album, then a double concept album, then a double live album ….. you get the idea.
Okay, I’m off to have some tea, wake up and fire up the Hammond and Leslie and make sure it all works before Kerry arrives on Thursday to track the keyboards.
As always, thanks to everyone that has stuck by the band. With all the changes we keep going through we really appreciate it and we promise to deliver the best music possible, and for many years to come.
Hi Presto fans,
Greetings from USA’s Pacific Northwest, where we’re FINALLY getting some sun- maybe Mother Nature is trying to compensate for not giving us a summer this year. Nice try mom, but too little too late.
I wanted to take a minute today and apologize to anyone who has recently purchased an Invisible Places CD on this site for the extended delay. The CDs we expected a month ago from our distributor in Germany are still not here. We don’t know if there are customs issues or what, but we’re trying hard to find out what happened and get that shipment delivered. Thank you all so much for your patience!
On a brighter note, some truly outstanding drummers have responded to our search, and we expect to be making that choice in the next couple of weeks. It will be nice to have a full lineup again!
Thanks everyone! And don’t forget to visit us on Facebook!
I feel I should address something. In the issue of “Classic Rock Presents Prog” they so kindly gave Presto three pages!! In this article I was talking about my plans to move to the UK and setting up “camp” Presto. That ended up not happening, and here’s why.
I got my house shut down and made arrangements to start making the move, and headed across the pond. After being there for about three days it became painfully obvious that there was NO WAY that I was going to be able to afford to relocate there. Due to the fact the the U.S. dollar is next to worthless at this time, my money was only going half as far as I needed it to. I ended up staying for the length of time my room was booked, drank a lot of great beer, and then came back stateside. I will just have to get Presto “launched” from here. So there you have it, just in case anybody was wondering what was up with us moving to the UK.
It’s something I would still very much love to do one day. I really dig the UK and the music scene for prog is very healthy there at the moment. But until things change with the global economy, we will have to settle for playing there as soon as we can, and as often as we can. Hell, I’d settle for just being able to find a drummer and playing a show anywhere!
I’ll rant about that later.
Thanks for reading!
Well, here we are at the release of the new EP “Love What You’ve Done With The Place“!
This is pretty exciting for me, in more ways than one. First it would be the fact that I’m trying to do this record company thing all on my own, and as I said earlier, its quite an experiment. However, after the past few weeks of really embracing the “new music biz”, it’s not nearly as overwhelming as I thought it would be. I’m very happy about that!
The other reason would have to be that we have tried a few new things on this record, which I hope opens even more doors for us creatively. The first couple of tracks are standard Presto Ballet fare, as “pompous” as possible. Then we have a couple of excursions down a few new musical paths, and then into what I like to call a straight forward rock song, but I think we retain that Presto bombast that we love so much. “The Faith Healer” cover was just something that I have wanted to do for many many years. I have always loved The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, and I thought it would be a good tribute to a great band. I hope you all enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed making it.
One last thing… as I’m sure most of you have figured out, the title and cover art of the record are basically a comment on the current ecological condition of the world.
Wow, what a day! Our new drummer quits, and the new record release is announced!
Also,there will be an exclusive premiere of the new EP on June 27th at 8pm Eastern on Delicious Agony Progressive Rock Radio, so you can hear it before you buy it.
If you are THE drummer or if you know anyone who might be please drop me a line at email@example.com
See you all soon!