Monthly Archives: April 2013

Steve Caston’s cover of Neil Young at The Junos

Steve Caston who played Neil Young at the Junos at my record release party in January (2013) for Giulietta Masina at The Oscars Crying is now on youtube.

One reviewer of the record wrote it was a song where I mocked Neil Young. Absolutely amazing how many people who suffer from head injuries find employment reviewing music.

Neil Young at The Junos is about liking Neil Young and thinking about the Junos, and how it might feel to be in the crowd when he received an honourary award in 2011.

Actually seeing someone you think of as larger than life in the real world is surreal. I met Don Jonas once when I was in grade 6, long before he was the Winnipeg Blue Bomber model for Tundra Sweaters. (Couldn’t do any better sponsorship-wise Don?)

But let us return to Neil Young at Kelvin High School in the 50s getting punched out (thankfully resulting in  Don’t Be Denied) oops no! –  I mean let us return to Neil Young at the Junos in the 2011.

Right. So I liked Neil Young a lot growing up. I was 14 when I got After The Gold Rush and I was off to the races getting everything else. Fortunately it was the mid 70s so I caught the next records in real time. The magic of buying America Stars and Bars the moment it was available and racing with David Hershfield to his house, unwrapping it and blasting it in his parents perfect living room on their superb stereo in the fancy part of Winnipeg and the bonus of discovering Emmy Lou Harris through that and Desire by Dylan.

When decade came out, it was 1976, and us teen fans of Neil Young thought how incredible it was that he had been making music FOR TEN YEARS. Astonishing. So in this song (which very soon I will upload a crazy video for) I was trying to give Neil Young my own award for what I like about him which is his relationship with song but also with community and politics. The idea that the Junos gave him an award for history of charity is just weird. As weird as giving any charitable person an award for being a charitable person. Here’s an award for fighting Apartheid Mr. Mandela keep up the fight there may be more medals later.

But I get it, probably it furthers the charities …yada yada. Be that as it may I thought a statue and ceremony missed more important details about him hence this song. Steve Caston lives in Washago (Orillia). His email is I am still embarrassed that I didn’t get the joke the first time when he helped me pronounce it.

He blogs here. This is the link to him playing Neil Young at the Junos.

How Much it Costs to Make a Record : Pt 2 in Reverse

Mix it and master it.

Everything is done. Now try to listen as though you never heard this stuff. This is the time to forget about trying to do something for free, don’t settle for second hand anything because this is the actual mix and if there ever was a serious time to use the best equipment it is now.

Doesn’t matter if you recorded on an upright or on a grand piano, doesn’t matter if it was a fender deluxe or something made by  k-tel. Doesn’t matter if some things aren’t in tune or speed up or slow down.  If you didn’t correctly catch those things when you should have, and if circumstances are such that you have to honour a deadline, then move on without a guilt trip and catch that shit next time by being more anal when you record. Too late to cry about it.

A higher end studio is (ball park) $500 a day and that won’t include an engineer. Anything less might be ok but you better do your research. There is so much bullshitting. If you are considering mixing in a place you’ve never worked and/ or with an engineer you haven’t worked with, don’t do it. You don’t want to be spending so much money and discover that the place is inadequate or worse, the engineer judgmental, unaccommodating or impatient. This is really the biggest deal. You’re making all the FINAL decisions about the music. Like, forever. Try one song there for 2 or 3 hours. Get recommendations from people you love and trust. Before you buy a new car drive it and read the consumer reports.

Due to the expense one might try to get a shitload of songs done per day. Don’t. Dumbest idea. This is quality time. You have to make peace with spending the money and making the song perfect. This is where Neil Young writes  “Pa send me money now I’m going to make it somehow”. There is nothing as amazing as knowing you hit the mark.

At most, 2 songs in one day. It takes that long to go through every track, remove any blemish, any hiss, any hum, finesse every moment, study each nuance, repair anything that might still require it, tempo, pitch, volume moves, pans. Listen to the whole thing as if you are the singer, listen again as though you were the bass player, listen again as though you are a music lover. Over and over you have to do that to fully realize the songs potential and make beautiful decisions. Listen on different speakers, listen in the control room, listen standing in the hallway outside the control room, listen to it on an ipod or in a car.

If you have any self esteem linked to making music this is where we find out if you have the goods or are just another Brad Wall / John Baird / Bev Oda. If the engineer is a creative, smart, insightful person, hearing your music for the first time, it is probably worth considering their opinions even if they hear it differently than you. It’s always smart to have a new pair of ears (that you respect) share their response. That’s why Hollywood has test audiences and why they don’t release the thing if it tests poorly. It means there is a great likelihood many people will have the same experience. It is a way of double checking that the bubble you are in isn’t insanely out of touch with reality.

If you are in a great studio with a great engineer you could master it too, right then and there. After all the mixes are done the engineer reexamines it for continuity of output levels. Not rocket science if your engineer is a pro. The mastering business feeds off musicians who bring in songs mixed in different studios. Songs with different levels or EQ. Save yourself many samolias by checking if the engineer can master it when you are done.