A site dedicated to the music and musing of Carl Strempler

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Mustang Sally at the King’s Head

On Dec 17th the 3 bands I’ve been working played at the Unofficial, Unsanction, Holiday Party at the King’s Head to a full house of over 150 people. All the bands did a great job and people were on the dance floor all night. I multi-track recorded the proceedings and we video taped it. So guess what I did all Christmas Break? I mixed and merged audio with video. This last Friday the bands got together at my place for the “world premiere” of the recording (soon to be a fine commemorative DVD set). It was quite a challenge merging input from multiple tapes, dealing with the glitches in the video, and syncing everything up. In the end the bands were very satisifed with the end product and I’m pretty happy as well. However, I did have Don Voth make a modification to my amplifier after studying the results. I had an external switch added for the bright switch on the amp so I could run more treble from my overdrive pedals. I love the bright shimmering sound of the Metropolitan’s rhythm channel but when I put pedals in front of that for alternative lead sounds it was just too sizzling. Here is the final tune of the third band’s set, Kat and the Soul Dogs, with the fabulous Katherine Penfold on vocals, Gary Brenner on keys, Hal Ryckman on drums and vocals, Dave Christianson on drums and vocals, and Greg Boettcher on percussion.

On this track my signal chain is the guitar into a Durham Sexdrive Pedal, into the Tone King Metropolitan for the rhythm sound. For the lead sound I’m using a Diamond Boost-EQ pedal instead of the Sexdrive. I have a new GigRig switcher that allows me to control the amp and pedal in patches all at once…more on that in another post.

Mustang Sally

The Mountain Goats Practice Recording

IMG_2197_1024Last Saturday I decided to multi-track record one of the band practices for our HP (non-official) Seasonal (non-Christmas) Party (read, many disclaimers, etc, etc) on December 17th at the King’s Head. This band is one of three bands we have put together for the event. They are called “the Mountain Goats”. Reason for the name… our office has moved to Mountain Avenue, yes, there is a Mountain Avenue in Winnipeg, don’t ask why they would call it that given it seems to me to be one of the flattest streets in one of the flattest cities in Canada. Google searches have not revealed which city is actually the flattest though my guess is props will have to go to Regina. The “Goats” part of the name, well, not sure, if one of the band members can comment on why they call themselves “Goats” it may be helpful. There are no spring chickens in the band.

The line-up is:

Tim Grant – vocals
Mike Dyck – guitar (left)
Jean-Yves Pelletier – guitar (right)
Adam Halstrom – bass
Greg Boettcher – drums

Here’s a sample track…


NEW CD RELEASE – Katherine Penfold – Journals


It’s here, on sale now, Katherine Penfold’s new CD, Journals. Katherine is an very talented vocalist, song writer, and performer. Yours truly contributed to the project with guitar on a few of the tracks. The wah and auto-wah got a bit of a workout, most tracks were recorded with the Swart Atomic Space Tone and the trusty Fender Custom Classic Stratocaster and Telecaster. Here is a small sample of one of the tracks. Click on the here to order now!!!

Please Forgive Me

Out with the old, in with the new!

Summer has been a great break for me. Did a great gig in Russell with Katherine Penfold and then the family went to Newfoundland and Laborador for a few weeks. Tons of fun. But I’m back now and returning to posting on the blog. I’m in the process of reinventing my guitar sound. Every once and a while you just have to switch things up a bit. So out with the old and in with the new. The Fuchs TDS 50 and 212 cabinet are on the way out along with the MIDI driven rack etc… replaced by a new Tone King Metropolitan.

I saw this clip and knew this amp was something special. Tone King amps are what Mark Knopfler has been using for his clean sound and I’ve been mesmurized by this sound ever since I heard the Kill to Get Crimson album.

The Land That I Love – Part 2

20090518dano-001In Part 2 of Land That I Love I took a different approach to the track. I’m facinated by the intermingling of sadness and joy. It’s important to differentiate between happiness and joy. Happiness is a temporary emotional state that focus just on the immediate positive situation. To me, joy is a deeper state that revels in the full range of experiences of life. Regardless of what happens to you, a deep faith in an eternal hope results in joy. In this track I tried to bring the mornfulness of the slide sound evolving into the joy of the hope that stretches before us.

From a musical perspective I was inspired by the Classic Album DVD Queen – The Making Of: A Night A The Opera. The multiple layers of thick singing guitar sounds. I slowly bought in more slide tracks, fitting them together and then building it with more and more tracks with both licks and harmonies. Underneath the track I used the guitar as a percussion device, tuned to open E, hitting harmonics. You can hear more of that as the track fades. All slide was recorded with my Danelectro into an Fulltone OCD (version 1) into a T-Rex Replica and then into the Swart Atomic Space Tone. If you are wondering what the difference between different Fulltone OCD pedals is check out this YouTube clip.

Land That I Love – Part 2

The Land That I Love – Part 1

Keeley Fuzz Head
Keeley Fuzz Head

It has been a while since my last posting. I’ve been quite busy finishing Mike Blair’s “Alone Under The Stars” album. Last night the “GOLD” master was handed over to him to send to production. This will be available on iTunes and you can get a physical copy from other sources. A CD release party is in the works. Watch for Mike on tour across Western Canada this summer promoting the record.

In the meantime, I thought I would share more from the album to wet your appetite. There are two tracks on the album that I am featuring. In this posting I will focus on “Land That I Love” Part 1. This track touchs a sentiment that many of us who live on the prairies have, the love/hate relationship with our geography. I spend most summers in the Alberta Rockies fly fishing and getting away from our mosquitos. I guess you could say we are looking for “relief” in several ways. The bottom line is that, while we love the mountains, we belong in the prairies.
In Part 1 I would like you to focus on how a simple guitar part, actually just a two note alternating line, played on the Telecaster, really transforms the track. I wanted to get a bright cutting sound with a bit of “jangle” often associated with Vox amplifiers. To achieve this I used the Swart Atomic Space Tone and then used a Keeley Fuzz Head fuzz pedal to had a hint of fuzz using the germanium transistor mode. Germanium transistors are used in pedals like the classic Dallas Arbiter Fuzz Face used by Hendrix and others. A reissue of the original Fuzz Face pedal is currently made by Dunlop. Germanium transistors are also used in high end studio preamps to introduce a warmth and body to the tone. Germanium transistors of often criticized for being flakey and inconsistent in their performance. Its just this feature that gives them character. Alternatively fuzz pedals use Silicon transistors which provide much smoother performance. The interesting result is that this creates a harsher fuzz sound.

Land That I Love – Part 1

Inspiring Practice Spaces Make All The Difference

Every artist needs an inspiring place to write and practice. Hal Ryckman came by my office with the idea of renting some space for the various bands we are in. Wanting to really have a place to play were the band could hear itself and nobody would care how late we played had a lot of appeal to me. His son’s band has a practice space in a building near our office downtown. So…off we went to check out what was available. We found this space and knew right away it was perfect. I suggested to Hal that we pickup some fiberglass panels and wrap them in material. One Saturday we headed to Mitchell’s Fabrics in downtown Winnipeg and went straight down to the bargain rack. There we found three colours of the same fabric and right away knew this was the ticket. The next Friday right after work we set out to create 30 panels and mount them on the walls. The spray glue we used was a tad intoxicating and when I went to the bathroom during a break as I stood washing my hands I found that I was literally stuck to the floor. Opps. As I lifted my feet the tiles started to pull from the bathroom floor. I hope the building super doesn’t read this blog!

My Favorite Top 3 Recordings of 2008 – #1

Sometimes its worth picking up those little free download cards from Starbucks. I happened upon the song “Asking for Flowers” by just such a download. As soon as I heard the song I knew there was something very special going on with this record.

My favorite recording for 2008 is Kathleen Edwards, “Asking for Flowers”.

Song writing, perfect guitar tones, compelling and unique vocals. I just keep playing this record. You know you have something special when a record sounds better and better to you with every listening. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for sad songs. Perhaps I’m just a sucker for broken and evocative vocals. But listen to those guitar sounds, semi-distorted, layered, and throbbing with lush tremolo . Fantastic!

There is nothing flashy about his record. If you are looking for shredding, you are not going to find any here just beautifully composed, recorded, and executed parts and counter melodies. Colin Cripps, who has worked with Bryan Adams and Sarah McLaughlin, shows how its done. It doesn’t hurt that Benmont Tench (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers) plays organ or Greg Leisz (Wilco, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, Sheryl Crow) play pedal steel.

The record opens with “Buffalo”. I love how you can hear the creaking of the piano and the squeak of the pedals. From the opening bar you know this is not going to not be the usual sanitized pop album. The vocals haven’t been tuned to death and the raw emotion comes through.

The title track “Asking For Flowers” is a brilliantly crafted tune. The guitar solos have this scratchy bite that captures the frustration and anger of the tune perfectly. “Alicia Ross” is the true story of the murder of a young women in Markham, Ontario, one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard.

“I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory” with lines like “Your the Great One, I’m Marty McSorley” this is a piece of true Canadiana. Great pedal steel playing on that cut. Every tune on this record is strong ending with the atmospheric “Goodnight, California”.

Great music moves you and this record moves me every time I listen to it. The palpable mornfullness of these songs make this my #1 pick for 2008.

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