Private shows are back! 

Hey, my friend! Hope you’re having a great day as we ramp up preparations for a fantastic week!

Due to protocols set in place by the leadership in our respective territories, many aspects of life are still on lockdown, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a celebration! Anything is possible if you’re creative enough!

To that end, I’d like to announce that not only am I booking new shows for private functions, but you also have the option of booking me for music through your own private stream.

What types of events do I play for? Anniversaries, birthday parties, house parties, conferences, festivals, etc. The sky's the limit!

I will be happy to coordinate with each and everyone of you personally to find out specific things such as: the date and time of your event, song requests, the type of atmosphere you’d like to create, and working within your budget.

For more information, you can find me at anyone of my social media platforms, you can email me at, or you can simply leave a comment below.

Thanks so much and have a fantastic week!

Minding my own business 

I haven’t been very active on social media lately. For one thing, my family and I have been trying to get some affairs in order for what life is going to be like after my wife and I have our twins. For another thing, I’m completely disinterested in knowing what’s on people’s minds 24/7 because it seldom leads to anything productive. 

My opinion on politics, culture, sociology, and practically everything else, is irrelevant to 99.9% of the population. That’s why I don’t share it here. It doesn’t build anybody up. It typically doesn’t win over hearts and minds. It simply reinforces people’s perspectives that they had to begin with. If someone comes along with a counter argument, the unmovable person rips that perspective down into a straw man. They’re losing friends, but hey, at least they won their argument. It’s all about priorities.

Anyhow, my main point is this: From now on social media is strictly a business platform for me. No more, no less. I will be exclusively on my music platforms, and if you’re interested in anything pertaining to that, I’d love to have you aboard.

Thanks! Stay safe and healthy!

Go With the FLOW 

Well, the Christmas activities have come and gone, and New Year's is right around the bend. It's at this time that a good bit of us make our well intentioned resolutions in an effort to better ourselves. As with all things worthwhile, challenges arise, and obstacles emerge. We want to be debt-free. We want to be in better shape. We want to travel more.

Whatever aspirations we may have may well be met with opposition. If they're worthwhile aspirations, this is almost always the case. Those opposing forces at work (time versus money, activity versus accomplishment, etc.) can either become a person's excuse for not doing something or the reason they're doing it. I suppose the real question is: Where do we find our motivation?

Earlier today, I became acquainted with the concept of flow training. The diagram below might be of interest:

To explore this on a deeper level of analysis, let's use exercise as an example:

If you want to engage in a physical activity, but that activity is too taxing, you will find yourself in the doubting, anxious part of the equation.  If the activity isn't challenging enough, you'll get bored. In between the two extremes is the flow, that steady channel of happiness where you are at your productive best. Let's say that the maximum amount of push-ups you can do is 10. If you were actually to do just 5 anytime you have your workout, you could do it without torturing your body, you could ramp up your energy levels, you can stave off soreness, and you can do the activity more frequently. Consequently, there will come point doing 5 push-ups is no longer challenging enough. So, you get the best of both worlds, consistently challenging activity with upward momentum, and the desire to come back day after day in pursuit of the goal in a pleasurable manner.

Maybe you're a musician. Is there a level of practice that's on the upper end of your comfort spectrum where you can get something out of it without the anxiety attached to getting instant gratification in the pursuit of an unrealistic goal? You may be surprised exactly how much you can grow over time, especially if you show up everyday and actually ENJOY doing it.

Whatever your goals, resolutions, and aspirations may be, I hope you find pleasure and inspiration in the process.

Happy New Year! Now go with the FLOW!

The Fedora Files #fedora #hat #fashion #classic #live #show... 

The Fedora Files #fedora #hat #fashion #classic #live #show #concert #calendar #music #video #audio #guitar #guitarcover #cover #coversong #song #lyrics #acousticguitar #electricguitar #vocals #drum #band (at Beatrice at The Glover)

Fridays at The Glover 

Guntersville, Alabama is a very cool town. The folks there are nice. The atmosphere is warm. The lake is beautiful. Two weeks ago, I played a wonderful room called, The Glover. Beatrice (the owner) is the real deal, and she's not fooling around.

I can't tell you all the details, but long story short, this isn't the first incarnation of the restaurant. However, after a time, they have reemerged, and are taking the town by storm.

They're producing in-house classics such as homemade pasta, Creme Brûlée, and Beef Wellington. What's more, they have graciously asked me to come and play Friday's throughout the rest of the year, and I couldn't be more honored.

To find out more about this awesome restaurant, click here.

Bon Appetit!

Where, Oh Where Am I? 

Here are some questions I am often asked: "When can we see you play again?" "Do you have any local shows coming up?" "Are you still playing around?" The reality is that right now I would love to be playing more than I actually am.

I made a Facebook video about this very thing about a month ago, and I was pleased to see that I wasn't the only person that shared those sentiments. Truth be told, now is a harder time than ever before to book shows in public venues. I do not believe that there is any ill will or malicious intent behind it. I actually believe that most of it stems from otherwise goodhearted people delving into a certain effort without the rudimentry skills to be able to execute it properly. (Although, I've met ones who seemed to have nothing but contempt for the people they have to interact with. Maybe they shouldn't have that responsibility...)

As long as I've been at this, I have not done everything right. (I'm only human.) However, when I've been wrong, I have always tried to be quick to say, "I'm sorry." In light of this, I have no reason to believe that it's some personal agenda against me for two reasons: 1. Other musicians who have never set foot in those venues are having an equally hard time getting their foot in the door. 2. I've always tried to approach doing a job for another venue as if I owned that venue. That means I come early, I stay late, I bring the tools that I need, and I take seriously the desire to bring the best I possibly can to every single show I play.

While I do have some shows on my calendar, I am starving to play. I'm hungry to be out there pouring my heart and soul out in song and in spirit to anyone who wants to listen. That said, I do have some dates coming up in the very near future, and I would love to see you. As a consequence of basically being stonewalled by bookers, I am now privatizing most of my shows. House concerts are awesome, and if you'd like to see the ins and outs of one, click here because it is good stuff! 

Aside from that, I'm working on some behind-the-scenes work for a special campaign coming up that I definitely would like you to see. Whatever piques your interest at this time, I certainly hope you'll share this post with anyone and everyone via the share button at the bottom, leave a comment below, please signup for the newsletter, and I'll look forward to seeing you at the next show!

Introducing Host a Show! 

We have a new addition to the webpage. It's called Host a Show! Think you might not have the capabilities to throw your own concert? You might be surprised. Got a space? Know some people who love family, friends and music? Perfect! To find out more, hover over the "Host a Show" Button in the menu, or click here to find out more about Booking Info and Host Info!


Don't wait! Book your show with Jonathan while slots are still available!

BOOM Goes the Microphone! 

I love all things indie. Some of the best works I've heard in music, and in movies are in the Independent market today. The storylines are compelling, and the production is very interesting as well. However, as an audio engineer who has had to do his fair share of cleanup work on independent projects, I want to give away some helpful information that will help creative people get their projects sounding good at the source. Because believe me, if it's bad at the source, no amount of engineering on the other side is going to make a bad recording good. 

Why write this? Many people come to me looking for the audio magic to happen in post. What do I find? Actors aren’t miked. You hear the room more than the dialogue. Bad stuff seaps in and masks the good stuff. 

If you want a good quality movie, good sound has GOT to be there. Take the time, and get it right at the source by following some guidelines. 

Get a good quality capture 

There are a couple of different ways to do this: 

a. Boom Mics 

b. Lavalieres 

Boom Mics - These are "shotgun" mics on a pole. In this scenario, Someone has to hold the microphone over their head for a long period of time and remain perfectly still. The microphone should be as close as it can possibly be to the subject's mouth without being in the frame. 

A good boom operator needs to keep the microphone as close to the performer as they possibly can, even when they're in motion speaking their dialogue. The tip of the microphone should be pointed towards the mouth of whomever is speaking. In fact, the microphone needs to be positioned before the actor/actress starts talking. 

Boom operators must watch rehearsals to get a feel for where they're supposed to be and when. Opt for a high quality, lightweight, boom pole with the cable already built-in. Since finger noise can travel up the pole into the microphone, the technique is to rock it back-and-forth in your hand instead of running it cross your fingers. 

Listen with headphones to see how much noise you’re making. Coordinate with your camera operator to adjust and make sure you’re out of the frame. The pole should be parallel to the floor above your head. 

Lavalieres - These need to be hidden in a movie setting. If you just put the mic underneath your clothes, this produces an unpleasing sound where clothes are brushing up against the mic capsule and producing a wooly, scratchy, rubbing noise. 

Solution: take two strips of gaffer’s or first aid tape and fold them both into triangles, but not tightly. The goal is to create a sort of cushion. Now sandwich the capsule with the two tape triangles. Now one side can adhere to the performer’s shirt and the other will adhere to the underside of a collar, skin (ouch), or undershirt. 

The cable can make noise, too, just as the boom can. By noise running up and down the cable, it puts stress on the cable and transmits into the recording. 

Solution: Start as though you’re going to be tying the cable in a knot, but do it just enough to create a small loop. You can then tape the loop and excess cabling to get it out of the way, and further reduce stress noise. 

Watch your recording levels 

If you’re recording your actors digitally, please please PLEASE watch your recording volume. If the little lights on your rig are glowing red, your audio will get clip distortion. This is nasty stuff. Opt for a moderate level, and use your ears. 

Hope this helps! Leave your comments, and techniques below, and keep the conversation alive. Happy moviemaking!

Distorting the Truth 

Digital recording has a lot going for it. 

It was, and is, precise, efficient, and convenient. The audio is clean. 

Sometimes, though, it's too clean. Something's missing….. 

Enter harmonic distortion. If you want to achieve mixes that aren’t only good, but warm and pleasing, stick around…. 

Distortion is like any other effect music makers have. That is, it’s alike in the sense that it’s widely misunderstood. 

Just think about it. When you think of distortion, where does your mind go? 

If it’s not fuzzy guitar sounds, I’d be very surprised. After all, that’s what everyone seems to think it is. 

There was a point that I certainly did. 

It turns out that the word “distort” actually translates to reshaping. When an image gets distorted, it gets changed. 

Audio is no different.

Sometimes it gets changed subtly. Sometimes it gets changed dramatically.

So, why is distortion a big deal? Well, if you’re a fan of character, color, and warmth, then it’s right up your alley. 

In this article, we’re going to explore harmonic distortion. We’re going to talk about different types of distortion, what each of them do, and the context for each one. 

1. Driving Ms Preamp 

Every preamp has its own character. Each has a signature sound that the creators had in mind in the design phase. 

So, let’s start there. This is the foundation for shaping. 

Preamp distortion will give your tracks a signature tone that can serve as a canvas for shaping the rest of your sound. 

Driving your preamps will help you add some very tasty distortion to your mix. Depending on what you use, different ones will add differing flavors to your material, and one will be more pleasing to your mix than all the others. 

On a plugin like the Kramer HLS from Waves, you can drive the preamp by taking the knob and cranking it. You can also drive more distortion into the unit by boosting the input fader.  

When you do this, adjust your output. You don’t want to fool yourself into thinking it’s better just because it’s louder. 

Wanna see this in action? Watch Andrew Scheps play around with preamp distortion while EQing the snare on Ziggy Marley’s “Fly Rasta.

2. Console Yourself 

Console plugins imitate the imperfections in the hardware they emulate. 

While these things are technically imperfect, character and color is often found in the imperfections. Oh, and by the way, we haven’t even gotten to the EQ and compression stage yet… 

One hidden feature your DAW may have is a console emulation hidden within your reverb plugins. When you insert this plugin in your mix buss and then bypass the plugin, you may be surprised just how much it influences the sound. 

As with the last example, adjust your “Wet” control so you keep your levels consistent. 

On a physical board, each channel has a different character. How do we imitate this when the character of a plugin is built into it already with consistency? 

One of the advantages of mixing in-the-box is that we have nothing, if not options. Consider Logic’s Vintage Console EQ. 

Even without any EQ shaping, we can use the drive control to saturate our signal. The “Output Model Section” will change the circuit giving you a different flavor of distortion with each selection. 

It also has a built in volume control for gain staging. 

In this example, our drive control is maxed out. Even with that, we actually have to drive the volume up a bit to make it volume transparent. 

Listen specifically to what happens to the lows and the excitement in the synths. Headphones work best for this, by the way. 

Pretty cool… As you can see, console distortion does quite a bit to glue elements together. 

3. Tubes and Tapes 

To this day, people who’ve never had to work with tapes and tubes are fascinated by them. Lucky for us, we have plugins that can emulate that sound.

They do a good job, too. 

Let’s move on to tubes… 

Stock compressor plugins have come a long way. Not only does the version above come with a stock circuit and six others modeled after some classic hardware units, but it actually has a distortion feature. 

Strangely enough, the “soft” selection is actually the most aggressive. By driving the “Make Up” gain, more tube distortion is sent through. 

By finding the right level of grit and using the “Mix” knob, you can blend in the natural sound with the distorted one to your tastes. Also, we want “Auto Gain” off for this. 

Here, we will use the Vintage VCA (modeled after the SSL 4000 G-Channel), and the mix control to add tube warmth. Since we’re not compressing right now, let’s turn the ratio all the way down. 

Want more contrast? That’s cool! 

Let’s cycle through some of these circuits and see how they alter the sound. I’ll begin by making our way down the list: 

Platinum Digital - (Logic’s Stock Circuit Model) 

Studio VCA - (modeled after the Focusrite Red 3) 

Studio FET - (modeled after the UREI/UAD 1176 Rev E “Blackface”) 

Classic VCA - (modeled after the dbx 160) 

Vintage FET - (modeled after the UREI 1176 Rev H “Silverface”) 

As you can see, each one of these circuits lend a character to your arrangement, and they’re all different. 

Tubes can make an arrangement sound fuller, and more pleasing. 

When you combine them with tape, ah…. That’s where the magic happens! 

Check out Graham Cochrane’s tutorial on tape saturation: 

These examples mimic the character of tape. They add a signature EQ curve, a pleasing compression, and often, a hiss. 

Depending on what you’re going for, that can be a pretty nice thing. 

3. Let’s Get Excited! 

Ever seen the movie, “Cars?” There’s a scene where the main character, Lightning McQueen, realizes if he wants to take a turn around the race track at top speed, he has to turn into the wall. 

I think of that a lot when it comes to mixing, because some of the best moves don’t seem to make sense on the surface. When people add reverb, for example, they can add too much thinking it will create hugeness. 

It doesn’t work that way. Likewise, if something just screams for heavy distortion, it helps if that sound isn’t in competition with other heavily distorted sounds. 

Using “Exciter” from Logic’s plugin suite or Phat FX dropdown menu, we can add distortion to select frequencies. Just turn the knob till it sits right where you want it. 

This adds brightness. That can be a great thing if something is getting buried in your mix. 

Here is an example of exciter being applied to a synth in our arrangement. 

This process is good on individual channels or an entire mix, if it needs a little perking up. 

Final Notes 

1. Have fun, but be conservative with it. You’d be surprised how much you can do with subtle moves here and there. 

2. There’s no point in distorting if it ruins your mix in the process. 

3. Try your hand at cycling through different compression circuits. Each has its own sound. 

4. Try a tape delay with the feedback and delay turned off, and drive that clip distortion. Above all, listen to what it does in the context of the mix. 

5. No one’s listening in solo mode. Change it up. 

6. Do what works for each part, and chances are your mixes will have that extra something you’ve been looking for. 

Alright, soldier! Let’s get out there and distort something!

9 Ways to Bring Your Drum Loops to Life 

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, quite beats a good drum track. The right player, the right kit, and the right room can make a mix…..magical. But what if you don’t have access to a space where you can track in your apartment, or your recording gear is limited? In this post, we’re going to explore some of the ways you can breathe life into your loops. 

1. Groove 

Nothing is more essential for establishing a solid foundation in your songs than establishing the groove. If your kick and snare are displaced, and they don’t gel with the song, keep exploring presets until you find something that hits home with you. 


2. Tempo 

Now that we have our groove in place, play along with it. Does it feel off or forced? If so, you might consider altering your BPM’s to make sure you can play comfortably and sit in the pocket. 


3. Variation 

Bearing in mind that keeping your songs interesting should be your endgame, it’s fair to say that there should be some delineation between the verse, chorus, and bridge sections. Maybe you’d like to switch from your hi hat to your overheads, or play a section in cut time. Go with your gut until you get that “aha” moment. (Note: Be sure to check aspects of your kit for artifacts. As is demonstrated in our next example, even MIDI drums can suffer from phase issues. This is merely to illustrate a point.) Here’s a before and after sample using Scripter in Logic Pro X to create rhythmic variations in the very same drum sample: 


4. Live Samples 

If you’re a mix engineer and you’ve worked with multitrack sessions for other clients before, odds are you have at least a couple songs with well played, tuned and tracked kits. Even if you don’t, you have options. Several companies make high end samples of live drums on great kits, if you’re willing to buy them. Of course, if you know any total package drummers, you can always barter to see if they’d be willing to setup their kits and allow you to get clean samples of all the parts. If so, here’s a little trick for you: 

When you have your samples sounding right at the source (properly gain staged, of course) locate the beginning and end of your transient at zero crossings (the baseline where no audio is being played) and create a tight cut/fade at each point. Export the file into your sample library under the file name you’d like. Then you can pull it into your session whenever you want. 

5. DIY Sample Kit 

Many DAW’s have the capability to create and design your own custom drum machine. In this example, Logic’s Drum Machine Designer was used on the “Empty Kit” setting. 


From there, you can route the right part of your kit to the corresponding trigger. By clicking on an individual sample box, your panel offers you a wide variety of options and a vast array of tools for designing any singular aspect of your kit. 


6. Editing 

Occasionally, you may find something unnatural is happening like the tail of your snare is being cut off. No problem! Convert your virtual drums into a MIDI region and open your Piano Roll. 


Drag the clipped audio to another key assignment, and drag your snare sample into the corresponding box. As long as your sample isn’t being cut off from any triggers that follow it, you’ll be made in the shade! 

7. Processing 

As we talked about earlier, by clicking on an individual sample box in your drum machine, your panel allows you to do several things to each piece. 


Each piece has zen simple high and low pass filters for cutting mud, harsh frequencies, and creative processing. 


I’m definitely putting these two in the same category. Both affect the dynamic range of your instruments, and both can raise your RMS levels while making your tracks sound fatter and more aggressive. Even many of your DAW’s stock compressors are modeled after coveted vintage gear, and have a make-up gain controller. This drives the amount of distortion going out of the circuit, and a wet/dry mix control enables you to blend the unaffected signal with the highly affected one. This is essentially parallel processing. 


Here’s an example of a dry sample, a compressed sample, a distorted sample, and a compressed and distorted sample blended into the original: 


This is a tricky one. Many novice engineers drench everything in reverb because they think it makes the mix sound more lively. The truth is that if you oversaturate a mix with reverb and delay it will sound incredibly washed out. To combat this, consider only four or five things that could really benefit with the addition of reverb. Maybe on your kit it’s the snare or the overheads. Be conservative with it, and if it doesn’t need it, don’t add it. Here’s an example of our kit before and after adding a bit of reverb to the snare. 


8. Panning 

Wider is better. There are only three real positions in your mix: left, center, and right. Use the extremes to your advantage. Pan the more spaced elements of your kit to the extreme. It’ll sound bigger, and we like bigger. Here’s our kit in mono followed by an example with the toms and overheads panned hard left and right. 


9. Processing the whole kit 

Sometimes, a plugin can be used to add flavor and character to your entire mix. iZotope Vinyl does a pretty good job making music sound like it’s being filtered through an old radio. 

Thanks for tuning in. Armed with this knowledge, hopefully there’s something that benefits you and your music. Now let’s go save the world one mix at a time!


Behind the Song - "Over and Over" 

Full disclosure: I'm conflicted. Not by this blog initiative as a concept, mind you, but because the basic crux of this series is to take you into the corners of my mind. It's a scary prospect. I like to write songs steeped in introspection, deep thought and fearlessness to explore ideas that people may otherwise avoid. Who knows? Maybe that's the point...

In the days of court jesters, yes, they had a role of being entertainers in the king's court, but they had the king's ear as well. Often, they were the only ones who could deliver bad news to his majesty without fear of reprisal. Today, reprisal is easy to find, and fear is all too commonplace. Today, musicians have taken the reins, and they have some real questions they ask themselves often. For me, it's namely, "How can I add value to people's lives because I'm doing this?" It occurs to me that there's is still a place for telling stories, for exploring things in ways that may be antithetical to the paradigm of the cultural norms. How very punk of me.

Let's dive right in...

"Over and Over" is, by far, the most involved production I've ever created. By the end of the session, there were 119 tracks in the orchestration. I hope you can enjoy it and get something out of it. You can listen here, and if you'd like to have the song for yourself, I'll include links below. 

I learned a lot from that experience. Some things I'll replicate. Some things I'll do differently next time, but I stand by the work, and am generally pleased at the result. Now for the inspiration:

I had a torrent of emotions pouring over me while writing this one: boredom with a homogenous, one-dimensional society when it comes to the universe of ideas, anger with the new righteous who believe they have the morally superior high ground and act in immoral, unethical ways to prove themselves, and no civility in public discourse.

I get exhausted seeing the same links, the same complaints, the same never-ending cycle of information day-to-day. I get frustrated with a culture that places no filter on itself when it comes to the ideas they instantaneously believe, but never test.

I get infuriated by the arrogance of the people who control the flow of information, who take for granted that they are accepted as disseminating the truth. People tend to confuse "truth" and "information." The fact is that these are two separate terms that are not necessarily interchangeable. Many of those who control the flow of information prey on people who will not question the paradigm. Probably because it feels good to go along with what everyone else says. You're much less likely to disturb the status quo by opting for the path of least resistance.

Maybe most of all, I get saddened by a people who've lost all believe in themselves and the world around them. That devaluation can't be anything short of pejorative. One of its effects is a people comfortable with casting blame on everyone else, but even if they have a point, what are they prepared to do to get back up on the horse?

Ultimately, this is a clarion call to help a culture struggling with approval addiction to maybe not rely on the outside world to be responsible for one's self-esteem. After all, if they can give it to you, they can also take it away from you. I hope for a people who have self-respect born of fighting for what matters most, while not allowing others to dictate to them something conflicting with what they know in their hearts are right.

Feel free to share this with anyone you'd like! If you like what you hear, and would like to have the song, you can find it at these fine links with more to come:

Apple MusicSpotifyiTunesGoogle Play/YouTubeAmazonDeezerTidal

Principles are your pals... 

Yes, I know the learning aid is actually for the word "principal," but hear me out...

My dad spent a lot of time teaching me several valuable things, not the least of which were cultivating diligence and hard work. Those principles are still with me to this day. 

For many people, work is the ultimate four-letter word. However, I do believe there is something to balancing good work with smart work. 

What constitutes smart work? 

For me, it is about stepping back and getting a lay of the land. It's about evaluating what needs to be done away with, what would be preferable, and what is downright essential. Hopefully, at the end of it all, you see more assets in your life than you do liabilities. 

I'm sure I'm like most of you in that I owe my parents a debt I'll likely never be able to repay, but it won't keep me from spending the rest of my life trying. 

I learned the value of making educated decisions, and calculated strategies to set my family up for success rather than failure. 

So, cheers to my dad, mom and all you wonderful folks who've supported me through thick and thin. 

To creating your portrait of a destiny, 

Jonathan Laird 

Subscribe to the blog so you never miss a new post!

Join our mailing list for the latest news