Monday, 6 May 2013

Featured artist in Fraught land

So here we are just a few weeks into this get-together stuff on google plus and I'm booked to be the featured artist for the night on Sunday the 5th May. Time to get all my gear together and make sure I make a good impression. I order a new pickup for my acoustic as the old ones just decided, at this crucial hour to break down on me. That arrives by Thursday and works like a dream so I'm pretty confident I can get a good sound with my new mini mixer and graphic it's all going to be so easy, now I know the ropes. I also want to up the anti on this show and so I ask Ewan, the guitar player from my band if he would like to do the show with me.Now I know Ewan and equipment can prove to be a loose cannon, but I'm prepared to take a chance that together we can put on a good show.

So come Saturday, a full 36 hours before The show I get all my equipment, well when I say all I mean my mini mixer graphic and tasty mic set up in our back room at home and start to do some tests to iron out any bugs there may be. With a we bit of tinkering I manage to record some video and audio to the app in my laptop. Sounds good looks good, great start and I'm at least 24 hours ahead of the game

I try doing a dry run with Street jelly where I can check my feed offline without committing to a broadcast, and with a bit of fiddling I also get that sounding fine. Next thing will be to try a test Hangout with Jackies laptop in the front room and me in the back room. We can do this a bit like a skype call just me and her with no on air stuff. We pop open a bottle of wine and try it out. Unfortunately this doesn't seem to work at all well. Turns out I'm coming over very distorted and no amount of fiddling with input and output levels seems to cure it. We decide to try a live broadcast, where we just invite each other to this test to see if that makes any difference, it doesn't, and we're both getting a bit tipsy and frustrated that we can't get rid of the problem. Must be something to do with the new gear, or maybe my laptops running slow. It's pretty new, well very new, but maybe it's got a setting ticked somewhere that at the wrong end of a bottle of wine we can't find and resolve to work on it tomorrow morning, the day of the show.

Sunday morning comes and we decide to have a clean up of my laptop to speed things up and get rid of programmes that we don't need. That will speed up my 'pooter and cure the problem. The other thing that we decide is that perhaps using the one modem to send and receive a hangout on air in our house from the front room to the back room via silicon valley in the States could also be an issue here.

So once the clean up is complete Jackie goes off to her office at Ford Park where I'll do this invite thing on a private call to see that it is all working fine, it's about 1pm. She calls to say she's ready and I try to open up the get-together app to connect with her but the whole thing freezes part way through the startup screen. No matter how I try it's not working. Guess what we deleted lots of files and cookies that must have affected the bloody google plus programme. DISASTER!!!!!!!!!!!!, Jackie abandons the remote modem station and comes back home. The only course of action open to us is to try to do a restore on my laptop. This takes about 45mins, but at the end of watching a silent screen all this time it brings up a message that says it can't do a restore because you have anti virus software enabled. Disable your anti virus and try again. WHAT!!!WHY ON EARTH DIDN'T IT WARN US TO TURN OFF ANTI VIRUS BEFORE STARTING TO DO A RESTORE. At this point Ewan calls to ask what time I want him to come around to get ready for the hangout, I calmly tell him we're experiencing a few technical issues and will get back to him.

We sit watching paint dry whilst the machine goes into restore mode, now we've turned off the Norton stuff. Another hour goes by, and the prospect of a good outcome to all this is starting to fade. But at last the machine restarts and when I try to start a hagout all the right boxes open up and things are starting to look decidedly rosey. Jackie gets in the car and drives to the office, turns on her pc and accepts my invitation. BINGO, it works. OK now to check to sound over this Ulverston -Silicon Valley_ Ulverston link. LO and bloody Behold it's coming through loud and clear. Thank god for that, OK so looks like that's the issue, you can't send and receive on the same modem without distortion, not on the voice, but definitely on the guitar.
So after a fraught night and day we think we have it sorted, I call Ewan, and go and collect him and his gear.

It's 4.30pm now and three hours away from blast off, enough time to plug in a mess of wires, go through some more tests to the pc, rehearse a bit, have some dinner and wait for the invite from Johnathan in the States at 7.30pm.

We connect, do a sound check that we get the OK on. It sounds good at his end, so all the grief of the last 24hours melts away and the show looks like it's going to be a good one. What is a surprise is that we've got Christina Cerle doing a spot tonight, who's one of my favorite artists that I've seen on these shows, so that's a plus, and also we've got Doug Jackson who I also have a lot of time for.

Now almost a veteran of these get-togethers, I'm easy with all the artists, I feel like I know them, they're familiar to me and me to them. It's a very lively and entertaining couple of hours. Me and Ewan do a good show with no real problems playing to, as it turns out 21 people in the audience. Now they say there's 500 million people on the web, and tonight we got 21, but hey it was a lot of fun.

I'm not sure where this is all going, maybe I'll eventually try running my own get-together with UK songwriters. Maybe, but there you go from nervous novice to seasoned featured artist, albeit via a wrestling match with the techy side of doing this, I'm up for doing more and with the new Beat combo album about to be put in the can maybe we can connect with a bigger audience than our local world, and connect with the whole world, well all 21 of them.