This Earthworks SR40 is the microphone I have been using on my guitar for over a year now. I haven’t used it for recording in the studio yet, but it’s handsdown the best microphone for the stage I have ever used… and I have used a lot of different ones!
We are often asked which gear or tricks we use to ensure the guitar is loud enough, especially since I refuse to use a pickup on my guitars – I haven’t used a pickup on my flamenco guitars in at least a decade and a half.
Let’s face it, classical or flamenco guitars are puny and quiet instruments when compared against electric bass guitar, drums and keyboards. With this microphone we always have enough level and we don’t have to worry about feedback.
Of course sound level isn’t everything, the quality of the sound is just as important. I feel that this mic gives me the truest guitar tone and makes hearing what I’m playing a pleasure. And that is something we guitar players cannot take for granted.
Here is what Earthworks writes about this microphone:
You’ll love what the Earthworks SR40 high-definition cardioid mic does for your recordings and live performances. Its 30Hz-40kHz frequency response means you’re capturing a far wider range than most mics can touch. The result? Better depth and a truer sound that includes more high-frequency overtone content. You’ll also appreciate how well the SR40’s true cardioid pickup pattern rejects outside sources, and how it gives you impressive gain before feedback.
Last Friday we returned from a brief tour of California – with a new quartet that added accordion and keyboards to the trio of guitar, bass and percussion. We played several pieces from the new album “Waiting n Swan” and also performed a new band arrangement of “This Spring release 10,000 Butterflies”.
Rather than trying to remember the new arrangements I made a few notes and taped them onto my guitar.
On “Heart Still/Beating” Chris played the famous Reggae “One Drop” beat for the most part, except for the second verse. Here the cajon plays the Tangos rhythm. In addition one of the rhythm guitars plays Tangos rhythm throughout both of the verses. “Heart Still/Beating” and “Them Belly Full” contain trumpet-only horn sections that were written and performed by JQ Whitcomb.
The horn section on “Is This Love” and “Lively Up Yourself” consists of trumpets and an electric bass guitar. The bass guitar replaces the saxophone that would be used in a traditional horn section. I thought this would brighten the sound of the horn section and sit better with the Flamenco guitars.
On “Could You Be Loved” the guitar chorus melody is doubled by two accordions panned far right and far left. This is one of the things I always loved about Bob Marley’s albums – they were mixed so well. One finds keyboards or percussion elements hard-panned and out of the way. Marley albums weren’t a wall of sound. They were a large landscape, a wide-screen movie, with exciting stuff happening on the edges instead of everything being bunched up in the middle.
“No Woman No Cry” starts with the chorus played in Tangos Flamenco rhythm, with cajon and upright bass. The first verse uses a variation of the Reggae One Drop beat, together with electric bass guitar and pick bass. Pick bass is usually done on a guitar that plays in unison with the bass. Here, and elsewhere on this album, Jon performed the pick bass on a second bass guitar. On the third chorus the drumkit plays the Tangos beat (The kick drum sits between beats 2 and 3 and then on 4.)
On “Jamming” Robby plays silverware on the Choruses. The silverware stems from my great grandparents and is over a hundred years old. Robby “auditioned” a whole bunch of forks and knives until he found the right sound.
“Three Little Birds” – a cajon plays the Tangos rhythm throughout. Jon plays upright bass – there is no electric instrument on this song. The guitar solo wasn’t meant to stay. It was my first exploratory take and was supposed to be replaced, by something more “impressive and interesting”, but then a friend of mine heard the song and said “nice jam” and I realized that it was that kind of song. Guys making music around a camp fire, jamming, and not trying to impress anyone.
I have wanted to record a Reggae version of “Barcelona Nights” since the mid Nineties! Again, one of the rhythm guitars plays Tangos during the verses.
After the intro to “Them Belly Full” the cajon once again plays the Tangos rhythm, followed by the drumkit playing variations of the Tangos beat. In the chorus, a cajon plays Tangos and a drum machine plays a half-time Reggae beat. Char takes over the melody in the next section. Jon switches to upright bass and plays a Salsa figure (Salsa, like Reggae and Tangos, also avoids beat one) and the cajon is playing Tangos.
The original recording of “I Shot the Sheriff” was really a Reggae murder-ballad. I recorded fewer verses than are in the original. The third verse switches from Reggae drumkit to Tangos cajon. The drumkit plays “One Drop”, but with a snare added between beat four and beat one.
The guitar riff at the end of “Lively Up Yourself” is one of my experiments that combines Flamenco rasguado techniques with Funk.
On “Waiting In Vain” the drumkit plays the Reggae “One Drop” beat. A cajon, playing the Tangos rhythm, is added for the second verse and during the guitar solo.
I hope you will agree that Tangos and Reggae are siblings who, although separated for centuries, are completely comfortable together.
eTown Hall in Boulder, Colorado
Reviewed by All-About-Jazz:
Ottmar Liebert: Waiting n Swan
This is the music of Bob Marley done with grace and finesse—with all the pomp and panache that Liebert is acknowledged for—and the proper respect and integrity it deserves.
I had a whacky dream last night.
Formula One cars had changed from the current hybrid engines to 100% electric power + were quietly circling a race track, except for a few tire squeals.
Then they had the idea that the drivers, who recently had to pick a lifetime race number, must also pick a theme song that would be blared by a powerful sound system in each car. This way fans could not only hear the race car approach, but could also identify the driver by his music.
There was lots of heavy metal + drum n bass, but also a few Eighties hits. One former champion had selected Rick Astley’s big hit.
The POV switched to a grandstand. The camera followed a car that raced around the corner, dead last but resplendent in bright colors, and the sounds of “Barcelona Nights (Reggae Version)” blasted through the stadium section.
POV the grandstand: everyone is nodding in time with the music.
POV close up of the car: the driver’s helmet also bounces in time to the music.
Then I woke up. The End.
Waiting n Swan CDs are not available in stores yet, but will be very soon. So we decided to sell the CD on this website for a short while. And then we thought why not do something special and sell signed and personalized CDs! The holidays are approaching and CDs still sound better than mp3s. :-)
This offer will be only be available until November 10th.
The stage at the Lensic Theater on 8. October:
We had a great time performing for a sold-out audience here in Santa Fe. Thanks to everyone who came and supported a good cause. I was most impressed by the fellow who drove all the way from Houston to experience the concert. :-)
CDs of the new album arrived the day before the concert and so we brought some to the venue to sell. Since Marita: Shadows + Storms in 1989, this is, I think, the first time that an album of mine premiered on Santa Fe radio – last Wednesday at KBAC Radio Free Santa Fe – and was first sold in Santa Fe. That makes me smile.
I updated the webpage for Waiting n Swan today. It now contains previews for all of the songs. These previews are good quality and are in stereo, but are limited to one minute each. I will add links to iTunes (download), Amazon (CD and download) and HDTracks (high definition download) as I find them – the official release date is Friday 10/23. Unfortunately the music will NOT be available from our ListeningLounge because of the licensing process involved. We will, however, sell the CD at our concerts.
Ottmar Liebert + Luna Negra will perform at the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe on October 8th, 2015.
Santa Fe 2015 – One Million Strong
Join us for a special evening featuring Santa Fe’s Grammy Award nominee Ottmar Liebert and Luna Negra. Enjoy the music of Ottmar Liebert while contributing to the fight against the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. among men and women combined.
Regarding the title of the new album, “Waiting n Swan”, the word “waiting” refers, of course, to the song “Waiting in Vain” and the phrase “n Swan” is Caribbean creole meaning “and so on”.
Last year I decided to record an album of songs that mix elements of the Tangos Flamenco rhythm with Reggae beats.
Reggae and Tangos Flamenco — not to be confused with the Argentine Tango — are deeply connected. Tangos has a lilt and features the same avoidance of beat one that Reggae and Salsa have, and to my ears it always sounded very different from other Flamenco forms.
I read that some believe the Caribbean rhythm was brought to the Spanish port Cadiz by sailors from merchant vessels, and that the catchy rhythm soon traveled to Andalusia, where it blended with local musical styles and became Tangos Flamenco. The word ‘tangos’ itself might be derived from the onomatopoeia ‘tang’ which resembles ‘the sound of the drum‘, while in some parts of South America the word ‘tangosa’ refers to Africans dancing to the beat of drums.
The deep roots of these three rhythms, Tangos, Reggae and Salsa, of course, lie in Africa.
The new album will be released on October 23rd.
Recorded live during the last tour: