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2016 was Good!

What an amazing year 2016 was! 16 gigs, including 6 festivals, a radio broadcast and the opportunity to open for The Blockheads at The Roadmender! Oh, and we made an album too!!

As well as the Roadmender, highlights included the Northampton Beer Festival, Northampton Show and opening the All Saints Stage at The Northampton Music Festival. The radio show was in St Neots, but we are hoping to do one closer to home in 2017 … watch this space. Other gigs away from our home turf included Wellingborough’s Hart Brewery and the ….. in Bedford.

We were recently asked to produce a set-list for a wedding booking and were pleased to note that we can choose from over 40 tunes, not including the acoustic set, which tends to be slower.

Plans for 2017 include some of the festival stages in the summer, which are always fun if the sun’s out, and a return to the studio to turn out some new tunes. Early indications that these may include some original material!

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Another Good Year

Sound Check at The Roadmender prior to opening for The Blockheads

What an amazing year 2016 was! 16 gigs, including 6 festivals, a live radio broadcast and the opportunity to open for The Blockheads at The Roadmender! Oh, and we made an album too!!

As well as the Roadmender, highlights included the Northampton Beer Festival, Northampton Show and opening the All Saints Stage at The Northampton Music Festival. The radio show was in St Neots, but we are hoping to do one closer to home in 2017 … watch this space. Other gigs away from our home turf included Wellingborough’s Hart Brewery and The White Horse in Bedford.

We were recently asked to produce a set-list for a wedding booking and they were pleased to note that there were over 40 tunes to choose from, not including our acoustic set, which tends to be slower.

Plans for 2017  include some of the festival stages in the summer, which are always fun if the sun’s out, and a return to the studio to turn out some new tunes. Early indications are that these may include some original material!

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FESTIVAL SEASON IS COMING

Yellow Dog at The Hart

Following on from gigs in Northampton, Wellingborough and Bedford so far this year the Dog will be straying to a number of festivals this summer, starting with the Delapre Beer Festival on 21st May. Set in the grounds of the former Abbey the Beer Festival has become a regular in Northampton’s calendar and we’ll be taking to the stage mid-afternoon, so come on down for a pint!

June is busy! Friday 17th  sees us setting up the basket at The Guilsborough Festival which coincides with the start of the Northampton Music Festival, now in its 8th year. For NMF16 The Dog will be opening the All Saints Portico Stage with an acoustic set on Sunday 19th June. Pray for sun for us – it’s a beautiful setting on a nice day!! After our set, why not check out the scores of other bands and genre’s of music playing around the town – from classical to folk, heavy metal to  hip-hop?! The following week we’ve been invited back to the Wappenham Beer Festival again – that’s Saturday 25th June: we’ll need a beer after a month like that!!

Plans for July and September are sketchy but we’ll let you know when they firm up. In the meantime, feel free to join us on the 23rd April at The Albion Brewery on Bridge Street, Northampton. It’s a fabulous venue and you can hold a pint of history in your hand – Phipps, that is!!

Cheers!

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WHAT A YEAR!

Yellow Dog Blues Christmas Card

2015 goes down as a good year for The Dog! With an average of about two gigs a month and two sessions in the recording studio, that alone would qualify as a success but with a lot of help from our friends at The Lodge we managed to produce our first album – Box Deluxe! “11 tunes full of bluesy goodness!” as Tony says. And to top it all Bernie Keith gave us a play on his day time show and says he’s including it on the playlist for Saturday’s Rock’n’Roll Heaven Show ….. That’s one happy Dog, right there!!

We must also say a big “thank you” to our friends who have come to see us play throughout the year – especially those who have already bought our CD!

We’re ending the year with our Christmas Special back at the Old House on Wellingborough Road where we’ve played quarterly throughout the year. Thanks Old House: every Dog needs a home!! The Christmas Special is the night before the night before Christmas: the 23rd December. Hope you can make it ….. we have some Xmas goodies up our sleeve!

Merry Christmas everybody!

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Bose Service – 5 Star!

It may seem as if I am becoming a major fan of Bose equipment. Well, yes and no. There are alternatives, and Bose are probably the most expensive. But they are good, and do the job very well for me. They’ll never replace a Marshall Stack, or a Bass stack with 4×10’s and a couple of 15 inch drivers, but that’s not what they’re meant to do.

But I also have to say I have been very impressed with their after sales service. Alan’s L1 (model II) developed an intermittent fault. After an hour or two, it would cut out. We tried all sorts of combinations to narrow down the problem, but with little success – it took too long to re-create the problem and every time we swapped something round, the problem would go away.

Anyway, after a few calls to Bose, one of their technicians came to Alan’s house with a bunch of spares. Still it wouldn’t go wrong on demand. But, while the techie was having a coffee before leaving, it cut out as advertised. The technician discovered it was a fault in the base unit, lent Alan a spare, and took the offending article away to be repaired somewhere in Belgium. Even though it was, strictly speaking, out of the two year warranty, the fault had been reported, and discussed during the warranty period, so there will be no charge.

Now I’ve occasionally had to have kit repaired – I took a Fender guitar amp to Fender’s place in North London once, but I’ve never heard of a company sending a technician with spare units before. I call that fantastic service.

I guess you get what you pay for.

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Bose Tonematch Review

Bose Tonematch

If you’ve read my earlier review of the Bose L1, you will know that I use an L1 compact and Alan, our keyboard player, uses an L1 model II. You will also know that I was a little disappointed that the L1 compact has so few inputs and no reverb.

After seeing what Alan’s Tonematch can do, I decided to pull the trigger and get a Tonematch for myself. Now they are eye-wateringly expensive for what is essentially a 4 input mixer, but I have to say it’s made a really big difference.

It has built-in shaping for a variety of microphones, instruments and so on. You can add echo, reverb, chorus and other effects to each channel, and/or to the overall output.

I have to admit I did actually read the manual first but, once you have a rough idea of what to do, it’s not that difficult to find your way around – although it could take a while to experiment with all the options.

I tried a few pre-sets for acoustic guitar and microphones till I found the ones I liked best and then added just a little “pixie dust” reverb and echo to the vocal channel. To be honest, I haven’t really bothered with adjusting the parametric EQ – the presets pretty much nail it.

I was then able to save my settings as a “scene”. I have three so far:

Solo – vocal mike in 1, acoustic guitar in 2 and iPad (for backing tracks etc.) on 4 – a stereo channel.

Yellow Dog Blues Band – Bass guitar in 1, vocal in 2, head mike in 3 and 2nd keyboard in 4

Dave Barry Jazz Band (I sing with them) – all mikes – mine is Senneheiser, the others are Shures.

So, when I set up in any configuration, I just load the scene, and the individual settings are all there – no more fiddling during set up other than master volume.

I have used my L1 compact for playing bass through, and it does a decent job provided I don’t overload it. I use a bracket to attach the Tonematch to my mike stand, so I can change things on the fly if I have to without turning round.

I found the “Active Jazz Bass” setting did exactly what I wanted to shape the sound, and also found the combination of the “mute” button and the tuner function really useful to check the tuning during a gig without upsetting everyone.

No – it won’t shake the earth like a big rig, but it’s a really classy sound and fine for small venues.

We now link our two systems together. My Tonematch daisy chains into Alan’s and his auxiliary output (with all channels) goes into my Compact over on one side while his main out goes into his Model II on the other. That way we can increase the overall volume if we need to and still hear what’s going on, even if we’re next to the drums. The two L1’s are at the back, and everyone can hear everyone else – just like an acoustic gig, only louder. What we hear on stage is a nice, even sound, the same as it is out front. We can fine tune our balance and sound as required. I’m sure it is no coincidence that we all felt our sets to be “tighter”. We were just having fun playing, without having to concentrate to hear what others were doing.

Overall, I’m becoming quite a fan of the Tonematch and the Bose systems, even if they are expensive.   They give a good quality sound simply and with minimum fuss.

I’m sure all gigging musicians will have been in situations where they can’t really hear what everyone else is doing, and sometimes even what they are doing themselves. The usual remedy is a seriously expensive rig, with backline going into a pa, and fed back into monitors, and a sound man twiddling the knobs. Compared to that, the Bose system is simple and cheap!

One word of warning – you can find the early L1 model 1’s occasionally on eBay, and they are noticeable cheaper than the model II’s. Sadly, there’s a reason for that – Bose are no longer able to repair them due to lack of availability of parts. So, if you buy one and it goes wrong, it’s pretty much junk. I believe Bose are rumoured to offer a deal on a model II replacement, but you can bet it won’t be as cheap as a repair!

It will be interesting to see how the new F1 powered speakers perform too. As far as I can see, one of those is not much different in price to an L1 model II, although Bose expect you to buy a couple. It will be interesting to compare the two. What it needs now is an 8-16 channel Tonematch, controlled by an iPad. I wonder if I can get a mortgage to cover that?!

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Summer Fun!

Yellow Dog Happy Days!

The Dog has had a great summer so far! As you can see from the smiles in the photos, we’ve really enjoyed ourselves and our audiences tell us that it’s rubbed off (like dog-hair, I guess!)
Starting with a road-trip in early June we played on the back of a truck to the good people of Northampton who lined the streets for the carnival before tucking into something a little stronger at the Wappenham Beer Festival, near Towcester, for the second year running, later in the month. After an acoustic gig at the Charles Bradlaugh at the end of June we went on to celebrate Independence Day with a Village Hall event in West Haddon.
We need the weather to be kind for our next two gigs, which are at The Navigation at Stoke Bruerne, where we are back for the second time this year, on the 31st July and then at The West Haddon Beer Festival on the 28th August.
In between, come rain or shine, we’ll be back in the studio to lay down the last few tracks to complete our album. It has been suggested that this latest photo collage would make a good CD cover ……

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MAY IS MAYHEM – TOUR

Yellow Dog Acoustic Blues Band

It’s great to be in demand, but the Dog won’t be spending much time in his basket in May!!
Following our first gig at The World Upside Down in Raunds on the 30th April, where they have a weekly Blues Night, May starts with an acoustic set back at Papa Cino’s, one of our favourite restaurants in Town on the 12th May. It’s a charity night on behalf of The Hope Centre – tickets from Stewart at Papa’s. Two days later, on Thursday 14th, we’re at The Old House on Wellingborough Road for our regular monthly electric Rhythm & Blues night. This is then repeated on 21st May with a Charity Night for Northampton General Hospital – tickets available from The Old House. A week after we have been invited to join the bill at The George & Dragon at Mill Street, Bedford.
Don’t imagine we’re curling up on the rug for long after that: we’re back for the Northampton Carnival promoting The Northampton Music Festival on 13th June. ‘Sgonna be a rockin’ good summer!!

Yellow Dog Acoustic Blues Band at The Navigation

Yellow Dog Acoustic Blues Band at The Navigation

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