KUAR Listening Party: Daniel Black, Arkansas Author

M and I recorded for the KUAR Arts and Letters – Arkansas Authors featuring Daniel Black show called “Daniel Black, Arkansas Author.” We worked on instrumental versions of The Boy with the Broom and Campfire Song.

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Once everything was sent and mixed, we went to a small listening party with some of the people that worked on the show. M and I brought homemade caramel corn and hot chocolate with marshmallows. It was so much fun!

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You can listen to “Daniel Black, Arkansas Author” on KUAR Arts and Letters. The songs are on The Damsels in DistressSongs for KUAR Arts and Letters (2014)” album.

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KUAR Recording Studio

The Damsels in Distress were asked to record at the KUAR studio for a music performance and interview for KUAR Arts & Letters Valentines Day show.

We arrived at the KUAR recording studio and were met by Brad Minnick, Mary Ellen, and Chris Hickey. We followed Chris Hickey down the long hallways and maze of KUAR to get to the recording room.

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Once in the recording room, we settled in, played some songs, and answered some questions. Interviewing is a lot of fun. Brad had some really great questions. M was better at answering what specific songs were about, and I was better at answering the history and organization of the Damsels.

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It took us a couple of takes to play the songs without any mistakes. And I just couldn’t get a good whistle!


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We had lots of fun during the interview and there was much laughing taking place. The neat and weird thing about giving an interview was summing up 8 years of our work and life in a couple of sentences.

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We will write a Valentines Day song and go back to the KUAR studio for a follow up interview. The show will be released for a Valentines Day special.

Thanks Mary Ellen for taking pictures and videos of the recording session!

The KUAR Arts and Letters Fundraiser Showcase

The Damsels in Distress were asked to open as a part of a showcase for the KUAR Arts and Letters Fundraiser at Dugan’s Pub in downtown Little Rock last Sunday.

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We played with bands Heather Smith, Odyssey, and The Cons of Formant.

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Heather Smith band

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The Cons of Formant

We wanted to especially thank the Cons of Formant because they brought their own PA, which they let everyone use, they helped us set up our gear, and ran the sound for us. They also used to be our neighbors. Seeing them again brought back the nostalgic “summer nights” memory of sitting on our back deck listening to them play music in their own backyard with their friends singing along.

There was a great turn out and everyone supported the fundraising part as well as the bands. We even had a special guest star appearance by writer Sam Brown, author of “The Last Baby Angel.” Below is a video of Sam Brown reading an excerpt of “The Last Baby Angel” while The Cons of Formant play accompanying music.

The Set List:
Underwater
Picnic
I Don’t Drive
Arkansas
Neutron Rising
French Song
Rare Red Rainbow
D & D
Gailey’s
Mr. and Mrs.
Namesake
Twinkle Twinkle Emo

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We often change instruments for each of our songs. Changing instruments can take a minute or two, which ends up being a long time when multiplied by 10 songs – especially in a 35 minute time slot. We ordered our set list so that one person was able to go directly into the next song while the other changed instruments. When we timed the set during practice, it was 34 minutes. At the beginning of the show, we were having some sound issues, so it was cut short, and “Mr. and Mrs.” ended up being our closing song.

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Writing, Recording, and Performance
In terms of writing, recording, and performing, the performance is the most difficult for us. Imagine being in front of a room full of people (and if the room is full of people then wow – that is good). They are all talking, eating, and drinking. Maybe only 10 of the people in the room are actually there to see you perform – these are your wonderful, supportive “fans.” As a performer, your goal is to entertain in a way that is non-threatening, confident, and creates a seamless transition from the crowd having a good time with their friends to having a great time listening to the band with their friends. The best possible scenario is that this would happen while making more “fans” with the actual music.

Honestly, the art of performance is a very big part of a band, and it is just not one of our strengths at this point. However, I do think we collected 3 or 4 new fans!

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Thank you everyone who came to the show and for your support for the KUAR Arts and Letters radio program. We also wanted to give a special thank you to Dr. J. Bradley Minnick and his wonderful wife Mary Ellen for including us in all of their “taking over the world through the arts” schemes!

Thank you John and Janet with JJ Paquette Photography for coming out and taking pictures of our band!

Father’s Day Music

KUAR Arts & Letters aired a special Father’s Day show called “In Search of Lost Fathers.

The Damsels in Distress composed much of the music in this episode.

We wanted to write something that evoked a feeling of loss and sadness, but also of hope and reclamation. We wrote “My Namesake” – which was the theme – while writing for this show. Both Micah and I were raised by loving and supportive fathers, so we had to place ourselves outside of our own experience and imagine what it would be to not know our fathers.

My Namesake

Where is my father, the one who was to raise me?
Now I’m all alone. Now, I’m on my own.
He was to keep me and name me for his family.
Father’s name. Family name. Where is my namesake?

Below are images of  the Damsels in Distress writing and recording.

  

 
 

Listen to KUAR Arts & Letters “In Search of Lost Fathers” show here.

Listening Party Experience

This is a “selfie” on one of the happiest days.

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I went to a fancy listening party downtown in the 300 Third Tower. The listening party was in the party room and the view of downtown Little Rock was really nice.

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The listening party was for the KUAR Arts & Letters, “Searching for Latini” episode. UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson came to the event and even gave a short speech of his support for this project.

So, what does any of this have to do with me, and why do I look so happy in the selfie?

In December last year, The Damsels in Distress were hired to create music for a new program on KUAR called Arts & Letters. We wrote the opening theme music – also used for the radio spots – based from “Corey’s Song.”

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The first show, “Ethics Bowl” aired in January. It was about what “ethics” are and played a sample Ethics Bowl.

From left: Marla Cole, Angela Johnson and Dr. Allison Merrick hold a trophy after competing at the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. Credit ualr.edu

From left: Marla Cole, Angela Johnson and Dr. Allison Merrick hold a trophy after competing at the Texas Regional Ethics Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.
Credit ualr.edu

On one hand, we wanted the music to emphasize the experience of a game show -poppy, fast, bright, upbeat, but also with an edge (for the feel of competitiveness). We also wanted to put a serious tone for the idea and debate of “ethics.”

Here’s how it works.

As composers, we get a phone call. In the call, there is a title and description of the coming show. The discussion extends to what sort of music that specific show needs in terms of how many songs, length of songs, the general “feel” or “mood” of the show. This call is followed up with an email of the script. We (The Damsels in Distress) each read through the script and then together, we brainstorm general ideas – kind of like story boarding, but with music.  We grab our instruments and go to separate rooms and write.


  

We come back together and do a rough recording of what we wrote. We write off of each others initial song, and create a “sketch” – which is a more detailed recording with many different parts we can mute/unmute. Once we get the detailed sketch we like, we record on our more professional gear.

 

This does not all happen in one day! This process takes weeks. Once we have recorded and are satisfied, we email the files. From here, we may need to rewrite or rerecord songs based on what the producer wants. The show airs, and we get a check in the mail.

So, back to the Listening Party.

At the Listening Party everyone that worked on the show ate delicious Thai food catered by Chang’s and listened to “Searching for Latini” live. It was super exciting – much like an actor’s cast party when the production is completed. It was also the first time a lot of us got to meet each other because so much of the show is done through phone conversation, email, and separate recording sessions.

“Searching for Latini”  is about Brunetto Latini, the teacher of Dante and the first translator of Aristotle and Cicero into a vernacular language. We wanted the music to sound Italian/Italian Renaissance for this show.

Listen to Searching for Latini here!

Credit Parlor Press

Credit Parlor Press

Listen to the songs we wrote for “Searching for Latini” here.

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