Saturday, January 11, 2014

Personal dispatch #10

This is a dispatch from Jeremy Voltz, who covered "Sweet Thing." Voltz siphons off the original's celebratory delight; his version is sparse and bleak and wounded and mournful. I was reminded of a busker I once saw: In a lonely subway station, he played sad songs on a blemished electric guitar, positioned awkwardly on a milk crate, a mini amp crackling at his feet, the pages from a discarded newspaper fashioned into a bowl that held only a few coins. And yet the busker looked so content.

Jeremy provided some background information, as well as why he recorded "Sweet Thing."
I'm from a small town in Northeast Ohio, but I moved to Toronto a few years ago for grad school (I'm working on a PhD in mathematics). I'm 29 and I've been a musician since middle school, when my dad let me switch from clarinet (which I hated) to a drum set. I fell in love with drumming, took lessons, and joined as many high school bands as I could, ranging from jazz to Irish punk!

It wasn't until senior year of high school that I started singing, when I joined choir on a whim. And well, if you want to sing, you have to play the guitar, so I started learning! I would perform at as many open mic nights as possible throughout college, but since grad school, I've only done shows a few shows in Toronto solo.

But I'm lucky to be a member of an amazing jazz vocal group, Countermeasure, that performs pretty high profile gigs regularly. (We're at the Jazz Bistro on April 13th for anyone in Toronto!)

My cover of "Sweet Thing" was recorded a couple years ago, when a friend asked me to perform at their wedding. She wanted to hear the songs I was planning on playing and though I had been playing sweet thing since college, I didn't have a recording of it. So I recorded it in my bedroom, just electric guitar (Fender Strat) and voice in Garageband, and if I remember, since I had played it so many times before, it was a one-take recording. And for mixing, I kind of just let Garageband do it's thing (the usual compression and reverb). But other than that, it's pretty much untouched.

My parents had the Best of Van Morrison CD when I was a kid and I fell in love with his classics. So in high school I bought Moondance and Tupelo Honey, but I've never listened to Astral Weeks. After looking at your blog, I'll have to give it a listen!

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