Fender Blues Junior III mods

 

Fender Blues Junior

Fender Blues Junior

Like many guitarists, I am the proud owner of a Fender Blues Junior amplifier. Picked it up for a song when a major Australian music retailer went bust a while ago. It’s a nice little amp but many people on the interwebs complain that, stock, it sounds “boxy” and lacks bottom end. This is mainly a symptom of cramming a 12 inch speaker into such a small cabinet. Fortunately there are plenty of ways of improving the sound.Continue reading

Live podcast available for download

As you might remember, Ben Craven & The Section performed live for a video webcast a few weeks ago.

We were interviewed by Kevin Mulryne from Yes Music Podcast in the UK and played four songs – Diabolique, Nobody Dies Forever, Golden Band and No Specific Harm. It was a grand experiment in online streaming and tested the limits of my internet connection and Google’s capabilities. Plus there were hijinks and mayhem and laughs all round. Especially hijinks.

The podcast is now available for download. Grab yourself a copy and if you have any requests for a future streaming event, please let me know!

 

Mailing List Update – Live Video Podcast 11 May

Hi everyone

Been a while since my last email, so I hope you’re doing well.

Just wanted to let you know that Ben Craven & The Section (that’s us), in proud association with Kevin Mulryne at Yes Music Podcast, will be holding a live video podcast this coming Saturday, 11 May, at 14:00 UTC.

I believe that’s 3pm in London, 10am on the US east coast, 7am on the US west coast (sorry about that – we’ll set a better time next time!) and midnight here in Brisbane, Australia. Please let me know if I’ve made any mistakes there..

We’ll have a chat with Kevin, perform a few songs live in the studio, and aim not to resort to all sorts of increasingly desperate measures to be entertaining.

If this works out, I plan to do more like it. If it doesn’t, I plan to get it right and do more anyway. It’s difficult to tour the world and get the message out, so I think this might be a good way forward.

The broadcast will be accessible via a YouTube link, posted to my website, Facebook and Twitter accounts right before we start. We’ll see how it goes!

Cheers
Ben.

Crippled Minds

One Friday in 1999, probably August, I was in a covers band called Shagpile, with Brad Douglas on drums and Jason Curtis on bass. Excellent band name.

Absolutely genuine photo of Shagpile, circa-1999.

Absolutely genuine photo of Shagpile, circa-1999.

We discovered, through a friend, that a prominent Australian alternative radio station (known for “un-burying” hitherto unknown and unsigned bands) was holding a competition for our city of Brisbane. Only trouble was, the deadline for song entries was the following week. This was the period before songwriting competitions had exploded across the internet, and way before I had figured out that (a) when they say recording or performance quality don’t matter, they’re lying and (b) the judging process is frequently more politically motivated than artistic.

Brad and I had already started writing songs together. Enough About You and If You Knew were in the can, but were nowhere near recorded or ready to release. We needed another song, and we needed it yesterday.

So I conscripted some music from one of the demos I had previously filed away for a project that would one day become greater and more terrible. Over lunch, we wrote lyrics for Crippled Minds, a cheery jaunt about the pleasures of working life. What followed was a whirlwind recording effort. We cut the instrumental track over the weekend and recorded vocals one night after work. Then the song was mixed down using cheap headphones. I thought the garage-like sound quality would fit the spirit of the competition. The package was express posted and we sat back and reflected on how clever we were.

Apparently Crippled Minds didn’t impress the one person at the radio station who maybe listened to it.

Shortly afterwards I became dismissive about the song. I felt the subject matter was too heavy and the production unrealised. So that was that.

Cue 2013.

How would Crippled Minds have sounded if I’d been able to mix it today? That’s what I suddenly started wondering. Perhaps I could have done a better job of hiding the limitations of the equipment we used at the time. I tracked down the original files and gave it a go. Many years later, I now realise that the lyrics Brad and I put down were way ahead of our years, and spot on.

So here is the 2013 remix of Crippled Minds. No re-recording, no new overdubs, and no prizes in the songwriting competition.

Upcoming Gig – The Tempo Hotel 30 November

Only a few weeks to go now until the first outing of Ben Craven & The Section, right here in Brisbane, Australia. If you’re in the area on Friday 30 November, feel free to drop in to The Tempo Hotel (388 Brunswick St) for our inaugural live three-piece experiment!

There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps..

Live and more – Mailing list update

Hi everyone.

OK I’ve been pretty quiet lately I’ll admit, but not inactive.

Welcome to the mailing list if this is the first email you’ve received. And thank you of course to everyone who’s bought a copy of Great & Terrible Potions or Two False Idols recently, or ever.

Over the past few months I’ve been rehearsing with a three-piece band here at Desert Comb Studio, generally late at nights and very early in the mornings, and knocking together new arrangements of old and not-so-old songs. I’m excited to announce that the first live performance of “Ben Craven & The Section” will be happening on Friday 30 November at The Tempo Hotel, 388 Brunswick St, Brisbane, Australia. More details as the date approaches!

As you might imagine, I was fairly doubtful in the beginning that we’d be able to reproduce any of these songs without an army of backing musicians or backing tracks. But through the gentle art of refining and distilling (and potion ingestion), I think we’ve managed to pull it off in a traditional power-trio configuration.

Not long ago we spent a day recording and filming the new arrangements in the studio. Mainly so we wouldn’t forget them, but also with the idea of a commercial release in mind. The video editing is currently underway, and I’d like to point you to a very early test-edit of Diabolique.

This clip is not public on YouTube and won’t be in its current form, so you’re amongst a select few who know about it. In fact it’s only been seen so far by the band members themselves. For the eagle-eyed amongst you interested in continuity errors, we filmed several takes of each song during the course of the day, and we won’t be wasting any shots!

If you’ve missed any updates from my website lately, here are a couple links which might be of interest..

Recently I was interviewed by Music Web Express 3000 about the reissue of my first album, Two False Idols. It’s an in-depth piece which gives away all sorts of dark and dirty secrets about the making of the album and how it evolved from a band project to a solo record.

Also, in its barely-edited glory, is my audio interview with DJ Rael from the Prog Rock show on Voice FM in Ballarat. We hit on such topics as dueling banjos, Star Wars, Barry Williams, cloth-eared nincompoops and English accents.

And of course (gratuitous plug alert) vinyl copies of Great & Terrible Potions featuring a glorious gatefold sleeve designed by Roger Dean are still available from my Bandcamp site.

Thanks for making it this far. Be sure to follow my Facebook or Twitter accounts if you’d like more frequent updates!

An Interview with Rael

Here now, in its barely-edited glory, is my recent interview with Rael from the Prog Rock show on Voice FM in Ballarat, Australia.

Huge thanks to Rael for the long chat and for featuring so many songs from both my albums on the show.

Listen below as we hit on such topics as dueling banjos, Star Wars, Barry Williams, cloth-eared nincompoops and English accents (in that order).

Introduction: 
Part 1:
Part 2: 
Part 3: 
Part 4: 
Part 5: 
Part 6: 

New Interview – Music Web Express 3000

I recently was interviewed by Robert Silverstein from mwe3.com about the reissue of my first album, Two False Idols. It’s a terrific in-depth piece which gives away all sorts of dark and dirty secrets about the making of the album and how it evolved from a band project to a solo record.

Read on, if you dare.

Ready To Flange The Chorus

Here’s a rough mix of Ready To Lose, from the studio session with the three-piece a few weekends ago.

In the absence of a crowded roomful of musicians, there are a few different touches to the arrangement instead. They might have well gone into the original recording had I thought of them at the time..

Things To Come

Last Saturday the three-piece got together in the studio for an all-day session to capture our current live arrangements. This, we hope, will address our current habit of forgetting them. There were also a number of cameras present, so now there’s a double-whammy of audio and video waiting to be mixed and edited together. It captured a great moment in time and I’m hoping it will see an official release down the track.

Here is a sneak-peek of the opener, Diabolique. Just pretend your eyes are closed. Featuring Chad “The American” Borchard on bass, and Jason “Bloke Falling Down A Long Set Of Stairs With Drum Kit In Hand” Green.