dennis & the vibraphonette

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

loose handle

when vitamin-d played the lakeside lounge a few weeks ago the handle started coming loose! i was quite concerned because i love this handle, which was made by my friend joe. he somehow interlaced climbing rope with the brackets that were already there. he had made a similar handle for a friend's small amp which i think is still in working order. maybe the 45 pounds of the vibraphonette was just too much for it. it started slipping out of the brackets!

even though i was there when joe put the handle, i was still weary of trying to fix it. i carefully unwrapped it - but not all the way - and tied a knot at the end that was slipping so that it would be more difficult to come loose. it might take a while to find out if the fixed worked. but even if it doesn't, the fix only took about 5 minutes so i could just do it again.

the next gig for the vibraphonette is my friends tom and kerry's wedding next saturday!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

hank's saloon

last week i joined chris moore at hank's saloon in brooklyn, ny. a cozy dive bar that reminds me of bars when i lived in nashville, tn. i had to work right up until the show so chris was kind enough to get it there (which is right down the street from where we live). he also was kind enough to set it up. he really screwed the legs in tight! they weren't going anywhere!

i was a bit worried about it being heard, even though it was mic'd. hank's is not known for it's sound system, but everyone said they could hear everything and it sounded great.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

the silo on the banks of the gowanus canal

this past january(2006) the vibraphonette accompanied myself, bruce cawdron, t. griffin and catherine mcrae as we accompanied a short film by jem cohen as part of an evening of "protest" music at issue project room on the banks of the gowanus canal in brooklyn, ny. i brought it over to todd's studio so we could rehearse a bit before the show. i really had no idea what the evening was about until we got there. i saw the film we were playing with, but it didn't seem to relate to anything protesting. then jem introduced the film and mentioned that a similar piece of footage from a moving train was confiscated by homeland security and had not been returned to him yet.

our friend bruce cawdron, from the duo esmerine and also godspeed you! black emperor, brought a few of his idiophones (a sort-of bass marimba and a not-so-high glockenspiel). he also brought along a few bows to get the sounds of the bars without the attack of hitting them. it is something you have to see to completely understand, i think. we couldn't bow the vibraphonette because it is set inside the suitcase and you need the bars to stick out a bit so there's room for the bow. there was a nice contrast between all three - vibraphonette, marimba and glockenspiel. in addition to the excitement of somewhat improvising to the film, there was the added mystery of playing in the dark!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

first recording

i just finished the first recording with the vibraphonette. it is on a mostly piano piece called 'hopscotch.' it sounds great, but i had to work around the motor noise a bit - gradually bringing in the noise before the playing started. it is a very noisy piece anyway. in fact, i had to make a bit of a rhythm track out of the noise from the electric piano.

the song was recorded for vitamin-d's 'undercover audio' which is unreleased recordings for the people on the email list. so, if you want to hear the song, you'll have to sign up! here's our web site -

i found this picture of when i first put the new belts on. you can also see the rubber bands that i used until i got the belts. i still have the rubber bands there as a backup, incase the belts break or squeak or something.

Monday, February 06, 2006

t. griffin coraline at the tank

i think the next show for the vibraphonette was with t. griffin coraline last november. that band is made up of todd on guitar and catherine on violin and every now and then me on trumpet, melodica, vibraphonette, lap steel, and any other instrument that i've never played before. i usually get wind that i'm playing these new instruments a day before the show. i think they have fun watching me try to figure out what the heck i'm doing. and i wouldn't be surprised if they had a wager on if i will try it or not. maybe it's like that mikey kid for life cereal. ''give it to dennis... he'll try to play anything!''

so, just like with chris moore, i was playing the vibraphonette on these songs for the first time. it turned out to fit very well with the music this time, too. todd mentioned that i really didn't have to come to anymore gigs if i didn't bring the vibraphonette. luckily, he has a car to help me get it to his gigs.

road trip :: providence, ri

the next show was with chris moore as we traveled up to providence, ri to play at as220. the vibraphonette made the trip with us in gary's van. in order to try and prevent more black plastic pieces from breaking i put a piece of superfoam about 3 inches thick inbetween the bars and legs. i would lay the foam on the bars and then swing the top over it to compress the foam.

it didn't work very well because there were more broken pieces. i think i was because we put it in the van vertically. after that i make sure it is either flat, or witht the handle up. it seems to be much better since i've been doing that.

the gig itself went great! the soundman didn't quite know what to make of it. i was playing mainly atmospheric or padding parts as we went along - it all seemed to work out. adam, the vibraphonettist, who can actually play vibraphone - played it on a song, sharing the full potential of the instrument with everyone. whoa!

1st show

the first show with the vibraphonette was last october at pete's candy store in brooklyn, ny. my friend laurel was kind enough to give us a ride in her blue saab and the vibraphonette fit perfectly in the trunk. adam, the vibraphonettist, is pictured along with konrad, the drummer.

when i tipped it to put the legs on, i noticed some small black plastic pieces fell on the floor. i figured out later that they were broken pieces of the plastic that kept the metal bars from touching the metal supports that keep the bars up. i think the plastic is so old that the movement of the bars in transit cracked them.

the was also the first show for my new guitar, which is actually a very old and very groovy supro hollowbody electric guitar. the audience seemed much more excited about the vibraphonette, though. after the show i spent quite some time telling everything i knew about it - which wasn't much.