Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Wax Cylinder Recording

For Immediate Release-
How Lo-Fi Can You Go? Aaron Keim Releases CD of Wax Cylinder Recordings

Aaron Keim, multi-instrumentalist and founding member of Boulder Acoustic Society, is known for his old timey music taste and indie approach to the music business. At last year's Folk Alliance Conference in Memphis, he met Martin Fisher who is a sound archivist and recording technician. Martin was recording musicians at the conference on a turn of the century wax cylinder recorder. Aaron got out his guitar and ukulele, sat down in front of the recording horn and turned out 5 tracks.

Invented by Thomas Edison in 1877, the wax cylinder phonograph was the first commercial recording and playback device and was popular into the 1910's when disc shaped records forced them out of business. If you think a 78rpm record sounds old and scratchy, wait till you hear the lo-fi glory of wax cylinder recordings. To make these non-electrical recordings, the musician sings into a large horn, which guides a needle as it digs into the wax cylinder. Aaron transferred his wax recordings to CD and is releasing them as The Quiet American.

For this EP Aaron recorded three original indie-folk songs and two traditional songs. This includes help from Boulder Acoustic Society on Ruben's Train. You can see them recording in front of the wax recording machine at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOlH6YZZfjM. Also, included on the CD is a digital version of the song The Light The Dust, which was recorded at the same time as the wax version.

To celebrate this release, Aaron is squeezing two shows around Boulder Acoustic Society's busy schedule. Oskar Blues in Lyons on May 2nd and the Mercury Cafe in Denver on April 30th.

To hear a sample, check out www.myspace.com/aaronckeim and click on "Rove Riley Rove."
To Purchase, go to http://www.etsy.com/shop/LazarusBooks

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Video by Rosco

Check out this great video our friend Rosco made of my band playing Ruben's Train!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Oahu Lap Slide Project!

When I was working on my master's degree, I wrote a thesis project about the Oahu Conservatory of Music, which sold sheet music, lessons and instruments (mostly lap slide guitars) during the depression. They sold most of this stuff through the mail, which helped spread slide guitar all over the world and planted the seeds for dobro, electric lap steel, pedal steel and more. This paper was published in The Fretboard Journal and I also gave a lecture on it at University of Oregon.

Anyway, their cheapest instruments, which were probably made by Kay and Regal, are solid birch and built like tanks. I have owned one of their super fancy mahogany jumbo models but recently sold it. I have one of their electric guitars from the 1950's, but I have been meaning to get one of the cheap ones for an experiment.

First, I got this one off of Ebay for around $50. It had no tuners and several cracks and loose braces. It is OO size with a 24 inch playing scale. The bridge is cast aluminum and the whole thing is birch with a square neck.

Next, I glued up all the cracks, made a bone nut and set it up with the same string set I use for all my electric lap steels. 13-56 nickel strings where I move 2nd to 1st and replace 2nd with an .018 unwound string.

I harvested a single coil pickup, volume knob and tone knob from Leighton's old guitar, got a soldering iron and a book of schematics and went for it!

I put a couple of scraps in the sound hole to mount the pickup. I can use the screw to raise and lower the pickup. I drilled three holes through the top and mounted the rest of the hardware. The tuners came from the project box, and are re-pros of the old three on a plate Kluson tuners.

Lastly, I tuned it up to DADF#AD and gave it a whirl through the amp. It sounds great and puts out about 85% of what my electric does, which is just great. It has more sustain than a reso and less than an electric. Perfect. Also, I am out around $70 for the whole thing!

Oh yeah, I found another bug in the instrument, this time a Japanese beetle. This has happened twice in the last week!