Sunday, February 03, 2013

From a Voice Within is released

The songs on this this album were written and recorded in 1998. It was a prolific time for music in my life. I moved into the Carriage House on the Jenckes Hill Farm. It was a great place to write, record, and perform music. I met Steve Hodge and played with Essential Harmony, Casinelli & Company, Barnstormers, and Fable. I tapped into the voice within and music came out. 

You can download the album for free from Barnyard Sounds. Here is the direct link for the download...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Love in the 20th Century is released

This album is a collection of love songs that were written while living on the Old Jenckes Hill Farm in Lincoln, Rhode Island between 1994 and 1998. It seems appropriate to include them on one album as an audio diary. Many thanks to the women that were my muse.

You can download the album for free from Barnyard Sounds. Here is the direct link for the download...

John Spreier - Love in the 20th Century

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Memories in Boxes is released

The songs on this album were recorded from 1992 through 1998 in the Cottage on the Old Jenckes Hill Farm in Lincoln, Rhode Island. My muse was my one and only child Caila. She is my pride and joy, my little one, my raison d'ĂȘtre.

You can download the album for free from Barnyard Sounds. Here is the direct link for the download...

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Barnyard Sounds releases Peace Dale

The songs on this album were recorded in the summer of 1991 through the spring of 1992 at Ed Caswell's farmhouse in Wakefield, Rhode Island. The beginning was born from sorrow but the end is hopeful thanks to the wonderful folks that helped me to transition to Grace and Grace alone.

You can download the album for free from Barnyard Sounds. Here is the direct link for the download...

John Spreier - Peace Dale

10 Year Anniversary of Twenty Two Years

Sunday was the ten year anniversary of the release of my first album entitled "Twenty Two Years. The songs on this album were recorded during the last two months of 2001 with the help of my good friend John Guadagni. The songs deal with questions of the heart which we all deal with during our short time on this planet.

You can download the album for free from Barnyard Sounds. Here is the direct link for the download...

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Cherokee Story - Battle of Wolves

My cousin sent me this from Idaho. I thought I'd share.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?" The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Be good...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

"Space is the place."

Sun Ra once said, "Space is the place." The less music you play, the more weight each note has, and the more spaciousness this creates in the overall sound.

I had the opportunity to see this celestial musician at the Temple to Music in Rhode Island back in the early nineties before he died. It was a mystical experience that led me to believe that this brother is from another planet. It amazes me sometimes that more musicians don't know this simple yet profound philosophy. You don't have to fill up every available space with a sound or note. It's just too darn busy with everyone jamming up all the time. Make it musical and play a melody not just bunch of scales. Slow down once in a while so that your speed can have some contrast and meaning.

My friend and musical mentor taught me this almost twenty five years ago. In the autumn of 1983 Jon Jelleyman arrived to the shores of Rhode Island just in time to astound all with his guitar pyrotechnics, skank & bubble, soulful vocals, frightfully funky bass, impressive songwriting, and expert engineering. Jelleyman became a musical mentor for John Guadagni and myself and led us on a musical trip to Jamaica for reggae with frequent syncopated stops in Great Britain for roots rock. It was essentially a musical Zen philosophy. The absence of sound in music was taught to be the most important of all. Rhythm is made up of the spaces between the notes. It is the sound of one hand clapping that allows one to appreciate the sound of two hands clapping in time.

Be good...

Friday, March 02, 2007

No Brown M&Ms

Last month I had the opportunity to play a Valentine's banquet with a four piece band. I was asked what we needed for the performance and I gave the short list: Two microphones and two electrical outlets. The list was verified by the powers that book and I patted myself on the back for being so professional.

A week later we showed up on time ready to set-up and play. I was handed two microphones and they showed me where we could plug our two amps into the two electrical outlets. They didn't show me where to plug the microphones in and there was no sound engineer. The hall was equipped with two massive JBL speakers hanging from the ceiling that were blasting out every love song you never wanted to hear again. There was a cordless microphone & stand on the other side of the stage. I asked the MC if he could plug in the microphones for us but he didn't have a clue. He said we could plug them into our amps. He also offered the use of a wireless lapel mic that we could use. I told him that we were going to be singing not giving speeches at a Kiwanis club.

Ken's bass amp didn't have a low impedence input but my Ibanez acoustic amp did (although I had never used it before). I plugged one mic into my amp and we borrowed the cordless mic (not the lapel) for Lori to sing. I discovered that the mic input on my amp used the same effects that I put on my guitar. If I wanted chorus on the guitar I got chorus on my vocals. I haven't heard that effect on a vocal since the Doobie Brothers used it on "Listen to the Music". I decided to stick with reverb so we wouldn't sound too dated. I ended up sounding like Buddy Holly instead.

They had us set up back in the corner of a sunken stage because there were rows of chairs set up for a "Newlywed Game" that was the main event for the evening. Apparently someone had spent 5 minutes getting them just right and they couldn't be moved. Since we were stage right half of the people couldn't see us and half of them saw us huddled back in the corner of the cavern. The acoustics were less than desireable but it was par for the course we were playing.

We ran through our short set while the lovers dined on pasta. I forgot how much I dislike playing while people eat. I'd much rather have them dancing because it inspires me to entertain, not just perform. I found myself thinking of songs that would help them digest. The only thing I could think of was a scene from Lady & the Tramp when they're eating spaghetti and accidently kiss. "Oh what a night. It's a beautiful night, and they call it Bella Noche." I didn't see any Disney recreations but I did see some folks that could use a primer on table manners and chewing with your mouth closed.

Lori's disembodied voice was projected about twenty feet in front of us. There were no monitors so the only thing we could hear was her voice bouncing off the back wall coming towards us with a pronounced delay. My voice pushed loudly in my back mixed with my guitar in a lush reverb. It would have been perfect for Duane Eddy surf music but we hadn't rehearsed any of his classic tunes. I thought about turning it down but if I did they might not hear me at all and we had worked out some nice harmonies. Matt kept a good beat in spite of the mix and Ken hung back with him in the corner keeping the bass beat going. I was wishing that I was playing bass back in the corner instead of watching the masticators. Despite all the hardship our brave little combo thought it could and we chugged and chugged up and over the mountain. The MC came up after three songs and cut one song from our set list. Apparently the folks were done eating and were ready for the Newlywed Mayhem. It was over almost as soon as it began which was just about right for me although he did cut one of our best songs.

I didn't actually mean to make this a rant on a gig. It wasn't the worst I've been on and certainly wasn't the best. I believe that I should learn from my mistakes. I've made lots of mistakes so I'm getting smarter everyday. The lesson for today is about a contract rider. The contract rider includes specifications on stage design, sound systems, lighting rigs, as well as an artist's wish list. The list can include everything from transportation and billing to dressing room accommodations and meals. In some cases a promoter will refuse a demand but most stars usually get what they want: No Brown M&Ms (Van Halen); Two packs of rice cakes and a container of hummus (Beck); Four "soft head" toothbrushes, a bottle of Listerine, two small tubes of mint-flavored toothpaste (Sensodyne or Tom's of Maine), two packages of Altoids breath mints, four organic lip balms, and some Gold Bond powder (John Mayer); The audience shall not be more than six feet from the stage, food & beverage service shall cease five minutes before the performance and shall not resume until after the concluding numbers (Tony Bennett).

You don't have to be unreasonable (Gold Bond Powder?) but it is important to be specific, i.e., two microphones plugged into a PA system run by a sound engineer. It's also important to learn from those who have been doing it a long time like Mr. Bennett, "food...service shall cease five minutes before the performance and shall not resume until after the concluding numbers". I'll let them slide on the drinks Tony. I might sound better after they've had a couple but I don't want to watch them eat while I'm singing.

Be good...