7/2/2022 A cover of the McCartney (and Lennon) tune by Ken Shano and myself recorded at one of the No-Muse-Is-Bad-News shows.
The recording is live with Ken on guitar and harmony, and me on piano and lead vocal. Absent the 3 part [Beatle] harmonies, the song is actually even pretty good without them (they were unavailable at the time of the recording:) The range of the lead vocal line is pretty broad so I'm hoping my pitch is in your comfort zone.
You can get a better look at the image on my cheese-ball promo page. Bob
6/17/2022 New music release. Something old and something new.
"The River" was originally slated for the "Sing For Your Stew" CD project in 2005 but wasn't ready in time and landed on a back burner until last fall when I came across a mix of the song and was pleased to find that the recording project was intact [on my computer] and sounded pretty dang good with the latest e-lec-tronic drum sounds and audio plugins. That and nearly 20 years was required apparently. The song was fully Bob'd though I had to pull triggers off my acoustic drum performance which I could then..make-right:) A professional drummer, I am not.
The song was pretty far along though, with a bass guitar, electric guitars, acoustic guitars, percussion, some midi keys, a decent vocal take and even some foot stomping from my son Todd but I was not loving the vocal part I came up with for the middle verse, so much so that I pulled it from the CD project. When I worked on it again in the fall of 2021 I just muted the vocal part I didn't like and continued working on the song without it adding some new lead guitars, some additional midi keys in a few spots and a new lead vocal take with altered (improved) lyrics.
As it turns out the de-vocaled middle verse actually sounded pretty cool so I was nearly ready to call it except that it was already October by that point and outside the normal tubing season in the northern hemisphere. I decided to hold off on it for the following spring or, as it turns out, summer, mentioning it to my friend Bruce Alger in case he was looking for a project to hibernate by over the winter. He did express an interest and sent me over some new organ and clavinet parts that I integrated into the mix along with yet another lead vocal take (even more lyric changes) resulting in the mix I'm sharing. Having now heard the song thousands of times, I'm happy to report that I still always listen through to the end when I put it on so I think it might be ok.
Not surprisingly, this song emerged (pardon the pun) from a rafting trip on the Penobscot river in Maine in the late 90s where the collective passengers on our raft did early inquires on death after failing to navigate a class 5 rapid, luckily surviving with only minor bruises and a renewed appreciation of air. In fairness, the song is really about our time tubing on the White River in Vermont for which we had zero near-death experiences and, in fact, many wonderful days afloat on the river (see cover photo). I don't know if I wrote the song at the now defunct White River Campground but we camped there a lot through the years and I usually had my guitar so it is certainly possible. I think of the river in that area when I sing this song. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. Bob
6/5/2022 A spanking new mix of the song from the album "Sing For Your Stew".
I got into the remix because I needed a version of the song with no bass guitar for training and the plugins used for the original mix were no longer available. As with any mix, it involved listening to the song dozens of times which can normally suck pretty bad but I found I still enjoyed listening through the whole mix at the end so I figured it might be a good candidate for a release.
There were lots of improvements but the stand-out change was the inclusion of a keyboard-flute solo by Bruce Alger that he gave me along with his other keyboard tracks for the song back in 2004. At the time, it felt like it didn't work with the guitar solo (which was one of my favorite parts of the song) but taking a fresh look in 2022 I think I found a way to wrap the two together into something pretty cool. Since I was in tinkering around I fixed a few notes on the lead vocal that were gnawing at me and actually ran it through a guitar overdrive plugin to soften it up. I feel much better about how the lead vocal sits in the new mix compared to the original. Another fairly big change was the level of the acoustic guitar which is more compressed and is now being fed through a rotating-speaker effect. I also brought up the level of the rain at the line "..but I hear it everywhere". Enjoy! Bob
Also see our Cool This Summer remix promo page
5/10/2022 Recorded live at the 2015 No Muse Is Bad News show. Updated 6/2/2022.
I was able to create an interactive landing page for this song that uses a very nice surface-of-water effect so you can "Watch the ripples.." and disturb the surface yourself by dragging. I had been planning on releasing the effect on a different song but the fit for this song was too much to pass up. It's relaxing to just brush the surface and watch the ripples move out but you need to agitate it a bit to get the more interesting warping. When you play the song, the title and credits move out of the way so you can just watch the water.
And speaking of the song, this one has Frank Sarcia and Ken Shano on drums and guitar/voice respectively recorded live at the last No Muse show in 2015 with bass from Jim Fabiano added last year. I added one or two backing vocals but otherwise the recording is live and all 5 people who showed up loved it! No, I'm kidding, there were at least 8.
Please note that purchasing this song helps promote live local music and small businesses; our only rocket ship is made of cardboard and is just big enough for my grandson.
Check Distrokid for more purchase options.
As I tested the water-ripple effect on different devices I found that it was choking on a few so I did a deep dive and optimized it so it seems to run ok on most, possibly all (yeah, I can hear you laughing). At any rate it appears in a box for all devices except phones but is a lot more responsive and now includes some choreography of the rain to the music. There ended up being a lot of triggers required to do an effective "rain" performance so I ended up adding a feature that allowed me to record the dragging and clicking of the cursor which now plays back when you play the song. It's a weird thing to try to "perform" since it gets mixed with random waves when it plays back but is still interesting.
Note that the water effect pushes hard on any device running it so its best not to leave it running if you are on a battery. You can also hear the song from the link above to avoid the device abuse.
3/25/2022 Happy Valentines Day! What? At least that was when I meant to release it. Well, in case you missed the first one, "Happy Valentine's Day - The Aftershock!". Why not? I think it was worth the wait.
You're obviously wondering how this magnificent recording came to be. It was a simpler time. Our war in Afghanistan was barely out of diapers when I first performed it. Where Frank lives, a drum studio is soon to follow and his Atomic Drums studio in Medford was where we recorded the drums, played by the Emperor himself: Mr. Frank Sarcia when the Afghanistan war was still in grammar school and definitely not interested in girls. The rest is me overdubbing here in Billerica, the guitar solos added just a few days ago, finally pushing it over the line in time to see the idiotic war finally getting kicked out of the house at 20.
3/5/2022 My acoustic cover of a song by Lewis Franco.
A live-in-the-studio recording with acoustic guitar and voice. #distrokid
Good advice for school children and Russian leaders.
Note that it is indeed a bad idea to put your coffee cup on your guitar as I am shown doing in the image. I could not bring myself to actually spill coffee on my guitar for the sake of art but I hope the danger is implied.
Probably A Bad Idea by Lewis Franco
Here's a problem that I see
and all across the land.
Each one of us is linked
by an ancient instinct
that we don't understand.
It fills us with an urgency
it feels like an emergency.
It makes you want to kick someone's rear
but it's probably a bad idea.
It's probably a bad I idea.
There's a fellow down the street
and every time you meet
he really makes you mad.
He cheats at all the games,
he calls you lots of bad names.
He brags about his dad.
But if you feel inclined
to whoop that boy's behind
as soon as his mom can't see ya
well it's probably a bad idea.
It's probably a bad idea.
A bad idea screams in your ear
and tells you what to do.
But if you hear that bad idea son
just let it cruise right on through.
Now even governments,
they ain't got much sense,
and here I under-state.
They cause great disruption,
death and destruction,
and then they escalate.
They find an explanation
to harm some other nation
and tell you that the choice was clear.
Well it's probably a bad idea.
It's probably a bad idea.
So if you get a feeling
to send somebody reeling
remember what you heard right here,
it's probably a bad idea.
It's probably a bad idea.
It's probably a bad idea.
2/14/2022 Happy Valentine's day! In celebration, I decided to release a 2022 mix of my sort-of love song "Brain Seizer".
No, not Brian Setzer or brain seizure; good and bad respectively. Seizer, as in something freezes, seizes, your brain. Like I did to the engine on my Galaxy 68 driving it when the oil light was on when I was 18. In my defense, I was stupid. But I also felt like I could just as easily go and dump the oil directly onto my parking spot and skip the step of getting dirty putting it in the car; it had a problem. And the problem got much worse after driving about 10 minutes with the oil light on. Also in my defense, I was trying to become less stupid; I was on my way to classes at U Lowell (now U Mass Lowell). So I literally seized the engine and had to replace it but that's not the only reason I bring it up. It's actually related to how I met my wife Susan. She stopped by my parent's garage in the company of a mutual friend one fall day when I was [painfully] changing out the seized engine in my Galaxy. We've been married now for 39 years so that may qualify as a love story.
But there's more to the story than that. In the 80s, I did part time work doing mostly minor modifications to pro-audio equipment but started selling a sampler mod for the legendary Lexicon PCM42 by Gary Hall who was one of the original designers of the device. It was a small-time operation but one of my quick-tests of the sampler mod was to sing something into a microphone plugged into the device make sure it captured it and played it back. After a while I noticed that I was singing the same bass line over and over and started adding backups like "bop bop, ba-do-be do-be, bop bop..". It was funny but didn't make the cut when I finally got around to writing some words (as such) and recording it with a drum track. I had an idea of what I wanted on the drums but could not get midi drums to sound right and eventually sent what I had to Frank [we do blankets] Sarcia who worked it a bit and came up with the amazing performance you hear on this track. No edits or samples friends!. Anyway, that sampler mod ended up becoming the very first prototype of the Lexicon JamMan which came out around 1993 that you all surely love.
"So what does all this have to do with a tiny tea set?" you ask. Well, if I'm interpreting the author's lyrics correctly, and I'm the author, the phrase "she give me honey love and sugar in my tea." suggests that she gives him/me honey love and sugar in his/my tea whatever that means. It's February in New England. That's all I'm going to say. I also have no idea what kind of image goes with a silly song like this so a tiny tea set from Susan's collection would have to do. My well chewed thumb and finger were included for reference, NOT because I'm pushing a side gig as a hand model.
Though I wouldn't advise dancing around tiny tea sets, this is a dance number so you may find yourself inclined to shake a so called tail feather while listening. A routine was never choreographed except the explicit instructions in the lyrics: hop, shimmy, scream out for Jimmy. Check. That's about as far as I got. Please interpret as your body demands.
But the music moved on from the questionable lyrics and singable bass line with the addition of Frank's amazing drum part. Brian Templeton brought in the piano, literally, which we dragged down the embankment of the White River in Vermont and recorded on a raft under a bridge with brook babbling around him for acoustic perfection. Actually, he just recorded them on a MIDI keyboard controller in the studio but the river thing makes a better story. It's easy for a mix to get out of control but I made an explicit effort on this one to keep the Brian's amazing piano performance in the forefront it was so good. It's hit or miss when someone comes in to do some overdubs but Brian killed it on this one.
Several years later I was working on a remix of the song and, not really loving my own electric guitar work, checked in with my friend Brian Wood ("That's a lot of Brian's there Bob") who sent me back the guitar and talk-box solos you hear in the song. (You did listen to the song right? Just checking.) Brian W's contribution was big but it wasn't until just a few weeks ago that I finally got the mix to a place where I could listen to in the company of others (If you are a musician you know what that means). At some point I had added a double track of my lead vocal since I hated the original so much but in the process of putting together the updated mix I added an extra long call-response-type echo to the main talk-box solo as a final touch.
Enjoy! Happy Valentines day!
1/21/2022 New release with lyrically-enhanced interactive web site.
Continuing on our alleged winter "snow" series I put together an interactive page for one of my songs that came out just before Christmas: the No Snow Blues
The song enumerates a hypothetical skier's personal inventory of ski gear and feeling of "the blue" when it doesn't snow. With any such skier's song it, of course, devolves into a police chase and FBI standoff. And it`s a blues song with a great guitar solo.
The new release is an enhancement of a legacy recording of the song made with a group of then Lexicon employees at a holiday event in the 90s but I've created an interactive preview page for the song that gives it a little extra. In addition to some light snow and occasional mocking rain the page shows the lyrics in a karaoke format with triggers you can click to playback parts of the song and links to purchase options.
Featured on the recording are the musical stylings of Frank TE (the emperor) Sarcia on drums, Jim Fabiano on bass, Brian Wood on electric guitar, Mike Dejadon on electric piano and yours truly on acoustic guitar, voice and other funny business.
This is such a weird recording it is worth recounting the way it came about while the brain cells allow.
"Tell me more Bob"
It all started with the Otari 24 track tape machine that sat in the machine room at the second Lexicon building in Waltham (I forget the address). A major Lexicon product being developed at the time (Opus) interfaced with such machines so it was the in house example of big-time-studio equipment. And it was beautiful. Far too beautiful to sit largely unused, its heads never touching the very expensive tape that normally would caress it. Something had to be done.
Five totally independent things happened that made this a reality: 1. Lexicon had some business that could only be completed the day before Christmas (early 90s I reckn) so the company could not offer its normal half day. One for all and so on. 2. We had a pretty significant amount of people who worked at the company who had little idea what the stuff they built, sold and accounted did. 3. There was a change going on in the floor plan of the production area leaving a large space big enough for a band temporarily open. 4. I was able to find enough players to pull it off. 5. I could come up with the $150 for the tape (early 90s money here people).
I don't how I summoned the moxy to bring an idea to Lexicon management but they agreed to allow myself and a bunch of other corruptible lexoids (I think we even had a committee) to coordinate a "Get To Know Your Products Day" through the late morning and afternoon the day before Christmas that year. At the time Lex had second, third or maybe fourth generation surround sound and an amazing listening room that people could watch movies on, we had listening stations set up in the test department for people to try out the reverbs they were building at the time. I'm pretty sure these were the LXP years but we had stations set up for each product so people could check them out.
The big culmination was going to be a live recording followed by a demonstration of mixing using the new recording. Sounds like a lot huh? It was. We, and when I say we I mean Dave Chislett, caught the live performance of the No Snow Blues and a few other songs on the Otari but that's about as far as it went that winter afternoon. I'm pretty sure everyone had a good time even though they had to stay at work but we ultimately ended up with enough to try and mix it.
At some point Joe Waltz convinced his brother Tom who owned and operated Waltz Audio near Berkley to let us mix the tape and even add some sound effects.
I should point out that original recording was far from perfect. Silly me, I launched into the No Snow Blues straight away with no significant sound check. It's a miracle we got anything. Dave was not only making sure the levels going to tape were good but also doing a live mix for the room. Oh and the "mixer" was actually two 16 track Mackie mixers that we wired together in a late night soldering session the night before.
The setup managed to record everything except the bass guitar which we had to overdub but a full evaluation didn't happen until we brought it to Tom's. The lead vocal was cranked through the first verse and horribly distorted and the levels were off on a few other tracks for the first few bars. We had automation at Tom's place when we mixed it but it was still a challenge and the result is my least favorite part of the song. There's always one. We did manage to use the live lead vocal but I ended up doubling it last month for this release to fatten it up a bit and make it more legible. We were obviously very excited about the kick [trigger] but some of the sound effects we dropped in at Tom's are fun. I'm hoping to get a multitrack transfer of the tape and do a new mix at some point but this mix came out all right all things considered.
"But why release it now BBBBob?". Well, as it turns out my new music distributor allows me to release as many of my own songs as I want per year for a flat rate and this one was sitting in the vault collecting digital dust. With Christmas approaching, I wanted to get my one song with the word "Christmas" in it out there to cash in on the holiday frenzy. Oops. Oh Well. The song includes the line "the green Christmas depression" and I actually had an idea for a graphic: my old unused ski gear so I put the release in the DistroKid queue for Dec 23 (no need to rush things on the 24th. Ha.). As it turns out the song did in fact come out in time for Christmas but I was so far behind on Wake Me roll out that I wasn't able to do a proper one till now. For the sake of my blood pressure and sanity I've learned to be content with whatever I'm able to accomplish. At least it's still winter:) Enjoy! Bob
For your listening and interacting pleasure..
..our new interactive animated page for my song Wake Me When The Snow Falls. Click the image or go here. The page shows a randomly animated snow storm with wind that is coordinated with the song when you play it (there is a Play button). After staring at it for so long while working on it, it came to be like a window peaking out of my lab so I added a window "Panes" button to show or hide a window pane in front of the storm. Includes a Buy button with links to retailers and triggers on the words to play samples from the song. Dragging the mouse or your finger also invokes wind. The animation runs forever even without the music so it makes a nice background if you like snow.
The audio for this version Includes a new Mellotron track by my friend Bruce Alger with drums by Frank Sarcia. I`ve got purchase options here but the animated page includes direct purchase links as well.
11-12-2021 Another brand new track.
"Play" was going to be the title track of an album of the same name but, with that domain name long gone, the chosen album title became Play-age (play-age.com) though it didn't really work as a title for this particular song. I did feel like I was "of an age" to play music at the time I wrote this one, however and, having done several more complex songs I opted for a simpler structure focusing more on the main vocal melody. Full disclosure: I feel a lot better about the vocal melody than the lyrics but I'm not often visited by the lyric genie and have to make due with what I get.
It's worth noting that this is another of the No Muse recordings taken from the 2015 series finale with Frank Sarcia on drums and Ken Shano on guitar. My piano part is from the original recording but everything else was added after-the-fact including a great bass part by Jim Fabiano. We're considering doing a reggae spin on it at some point but this semi-live version surpassed even the studio production of the song that was in the works so it seemed like a good one to put out. I hope you like it. "..and if you listen, you'll hear the sound".
10/15/2021 And I don't really mean "farm".
I wrote "Back To The Farm" in about 10 minutes one night after getting home from a particularly unpleasant day at work (these are my pre-Lexicon years). Not surprisingly I left shortly thereafter and went to work for Lexicon where I stayed for almost 2 decades. Of course after writing it in 10 minutes it's taken me literally decades to get a recording I was happy enough with to unleash it. The recording itself is another great studio drum performance by Frank Sarcia at his Atomic Drum studio in Medford with everything else overdubbed by me here in Billerica. The most recent just a few days ago.
I don't think I qualify as a "farmer" but I did grow the orange cherry tomatoes appearing in the image (they are orange when fully ripe and delicious). I'm sure there was a barn on this property at one point and a farm but all I could round up was a few of the remaining odds and ends that I recovered from our recently-replaced shed. Though we got an excellent yield from the couple of tomato plants and cucumbers we planted this year, the garden was very much ad-hoc and not very photogenic. Certainly not something you would go "Back To" based on appearance but literally did put food on the table and provided some much needed garden-yoga exercise.
Note that Back To The Farm immediately follows Riding Along in the "approved playlist".
Check DistroKid for purchase options.
New old music: Riding Along
I'm not going to say how old this tune is but Ronald Reagan was governor of California and I had just gotten my first 4 track reel-to-reel "tape" recorder when I wrote it. Even this recording spans more than a decade with the bulk recorded in and around 2008, drums (by Frank) at Frank Sarcia's Atomic Drum studio (ok, basement) in Medford and the rest here in Billerica at (former bedroom, not basement) Stec Records Studios. The most recent, a few guitar chords and an entirely new vocal part in the chorus just a few days ago. An earlier lesser mix was/is released on Bandcamp but this is the first real public offering of this song and a pretty significant improvement over the countless versions that preceded it.
An interesting historical footnote about the recording: the main guitar solo by a Mr. Brian Wood was recorded on a legendary Opus digital recording system at the Lexicon factory in Waltham (the second one by the railroad tracks not the first one by the railroad tracks) one night in the late 90s. As even Brian recalls, we had the place shaking and could literally smell my little early-model Mesa Boogie amp we had closed up in a nearby storage room so we could crank it up beyond human endurance. Though I was able to digitally transfer the track into my current recording system, the tempo was slightly faster so the sample had to be stretched a bit degrading the sound but it was such a great solo, leaving it out was not an option. The recording also includes background vocals from Brian Templeton who also provided the dramatic accordion. Old as this song is, Riding Along was a staple for my band 80s band "Tracks" that featured a young Brian T on drums so he too may be getting old enough to forget this song. Motorcycle sounds were my brother Charley (and his Harley) and his friend Frank making our contribution to the audible motorcycle tapestry that is Billerica. I especially like the stereo cooling engine at the very end.
The primary reason for the release of this decidedly "summer" song today in early fall of 2021 has mostly to do with the release coming up next Friday, stay tuned for that, but this song preceded it on the album [project] and got a final bump when my friend and fellow music enthusiast and meditational-motorcyclist Paul Gallo offered up some motorcycle pictures he'd accumulated. There were several good candidates but Paul's shot of Torr Road in Northern Ireland was too good to pass up. Combined a spanking new part in the chorus and shiny new power chords, poor old Riding Along's time had come. Watch out for that first step Riding Along, it's a doozy.
Check DistroKid for purchase options or inquire of your electronic overloard: "Alex, Play Riding Along by Bob Sellon".
Bad, bad boy!
"..but can we make the guitars sound bigger?" Yes. Yes we can.
The drums (Frank Sarcia), some of the guitars (Ken Shano) and keyboards and vocals (me) were recorded at the No Muse Is Bad News Spring 2015 Music Series finale with a pandemic-ready bass added by Jim Fabiano and overdubs from me on guitar and vocal last year.
It`s worth noting that the over-the-top guitars were edged closer to divinity owing to the wonderful CrushStation plugin by Eventide that graced them. Though the instrument was my [awesome] new Line6 Variax, it was plugged directly into a line input on my audio interface so the overdrive tone was entirely from the plugin. The Variax, if you didn`t know, is a guitar that just "models" (copies the sound of) other types of guitars. I`m pretty sure I used the "Lester" preset which is a "model" of an early Les Paul guitar for the Bad Boy overdubs but there are lots of great other ones. Not to digress but the acoustic guitars presets are amazing. 12 string, banjo, sitar, a couple of Martin acoustics. Good stuff. My biggest surprise for the Variax however, is that it`s a really nice guitar. I got the blue strat version. My two main guitars, my strat and Ibanez acoustic are both in bad need of a fret job so it's been a treat playing an instrument that is set up properly with shiny new frets. The Variax also does alternate tunings on the fly which is handy if you have a few tunes in drop-D or one of the other many tunings you can dialup on a little thumbwheel by the neck.
Also note that you can wash you clothes in the very washer depicted (dog excluded) at the photographer's (Frank Sarcia) Port City Laundry, "Laundry to your door" in Newburyport, MA.
Check the DistroKid landing page for the song for purchase options.
Who's a good boy?
New music 8/20/2021.
Another great recording from a No Muse Is Bad News show at the Billerica Elks. This one features a Mr. Ken Shano on guitar and harmony vocals, Frank Sarcia on drums and bass (after the fact) by Jim Fabiano. The keys and vocals are your`s truely. It`s worth mentioning that the only overdub on this recording was Jim`s bass, the rest is live.
Like all of my recent releases, you can find this on Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, iTunes, TikTok or your other favorite music source. The DISTROKID landing page for the song also contains links for the song on major outlets. "Alexa play Bob Sellon Bad Boy". There.
I'm pleased to announce the worldwide release of my song "Pay" featuring Frank Sarcia and Brian Templeton.
To have and to hold (in your playlist) for all time, we bring you the legendary recording of "Pay" featuring Frank Sarcia on drums and Brian Templeton on harmonica, piano and backup vocals. My contributions include authorship of the tune, lead vocal, acoustic guitar, bass guitar and guitar-synth-generated-brass as well as recording, mixing and "mastering" the recording. After some troubled attempts recording the song with electronic drums, Frank took on the challenge and delivered the masterful performance we recorded at his studio in Medford. I was in touch with Brian who had the time and inclination to work on a piano part which we ended up recording the same night as the harp and background vocals. A long but productive night indeed. A final pass with some guitar generated brass (GR-33) we were good to go. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Search for Bob Sellon on Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, iTunes, TikTok or your other favorite music supplier. The DISTROKID landing page for the song also contains links for the song on major outlets. It`s worth noting that this page tends to lag the actual release so it`s best to search your music service if its not listed.
You can now get a minute of surf for your media collection for beach-sound-emergencies.
A search of your music service for "A Minute Of Surf by Bob Sellon" will yield a [sound] song that you can have in your phone or other media device when you need to convince yourself that you are at the beach.
It's worth noting that this recording ends out my version of Haitian Divorce on Sing For Your Stew and that the recording was made at Camp Ellis in Maine though the picture is of Magnolia beach in Manchester-by-the-sea in Massachusetts.
A new worldwide release: my song "Fourth Of July"
AND the new (cover) song "Sunny Afternoon"
..with Frank Sarcia on drums, Ken Shano on guitar, Jim Fabiano on bass and Bob on piano and voice.
Both now available on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Instagram & Facebook, TikTok, Amazon and many, many more.
"Cool This Summer" now available on Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Instagram & Facebook, TikTok, Amazon.com and the gammit.