New {ELSE} Album Later This Year

September 15th, 2019

It’s been another long writing, recording, mixing, and mastering journey, but the end is nigh! {ELSE} released a two-track preview of our new album, Through What We Knew. Take a listen!

Learning Mandolin

July 28th, 2019

Screen Shot 2019-07-29 at 11.07.57 AMSince early college, mandolin has been top on my “next instrument to learn” list. I did finally start playing a few years ago when my former bandmates from Whiskey Doubles gifted me a mandolin as a new-house gift, and I did end up playing two songs with that group on mandolin, but never really felt comfortable with the instrument. After a few years of it mostly just hanging on the wall, I started playing it near daily this year, usually 15-30 minutes a day, teaching myself some bluegrass and americana staples, as well as working on my own arrangements of songs like “Amazing Grace” and “When the Saints Go Marching In”. And now I’ve just finished my first gig with the instrument!

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Another Sighting of My Bosch Metal Tribute!

March 20th, 2019

I don’t know where she found it, but my wife found this French video detailing the Bosch painting which features a good chunk of my metal version of the ancient music!

Pay the Devil Releases “To Hell with Luck”

March 9th, 2019

Milwaukee’s favorite “shanty-grass” ensemble, the gruff and lovable, Pay the Devil, released their sophomore album, “To Hell Luck” last night at the Walker’s Point Music Hall. Though I don’t play with the group regularly anymore, I actually did contribute bass to all but one track, and played cello on three others.

The band recorded all of their parts at banjo-Ivan’s house (yes, there are two Ivans in the band, one on banjo, one on guitar), usually in a group setting with the vocals added later. I then rented a stand-up bass to lay down the bass tracks in my home studio, where I also recorded the cello parts. Harmonica was layered in all the way from Erie, Pennsylvania, performed by banjo-Ivan’s dad. Once everything was recorded and mixed by Ivan, he headed into my home studio where we sat down to a night of mastering and Thai food. It was a long but enjoyable and collaborative process.

A particularly collaborative song is “Buffalo Bill”, written by a friend of the band, Lucas Riddle. Banjo-Ivan plays guitar and performs lead vocals, I play cello, Ivan’s dad added harmonica, and the band’s new bassist, Jacqueline, provided backup vocals. The track turned out fantastic despite none of the performers actually sitting down to play the tune together!

Lovefool by The Cardigans for String Quartet

July 9th, 2018

This song harkens back to my formative golden year of music, that period in middle or high school where you formed a strong bond with certain types of music that carries through the rest of your life. When I wasn’t listening to No Doubt, Bush, Stabbing Westward, or Garbage, there was a strong chance I was listening to this song. It’s still a favorite, and it’s fun and cute quality has helped it age well over some of the more angsty things from my teen years. I’ve always enjoyed the songs great melody (it seriously is a study in melody-writing 101) and jazzy harmonies provided by the guitar and backup vocals.

For the arrangement, I decided to make the first verse stand out from the rest by means of the entire accompaniment playing pizzicato, with the cello take some percussive slaps. As the song progresses, I dug more into the harmonies and countermelodies, even adding a bit more color to them than is in the original recording. It’s a relatively simple, but effective arrangement in the end.

Now available on Sheet Music Plus »

Redbone by Childish Gambino for String Quartet

May 15th, 2018

Oh boy was this fun. This is such an incredible song, but I was afraid that it’s heavy use of a drum beat, very bassy synthesizers, and free-styled vocals would make it a poor choice for the more straight-laced string quartet. Once I set out on the arrangement though, I quickly found some intriguing harmonies I could dig into. I also heavily debated whether or not I should arrange the instrumental coda to the song not played on the radio, but when I eventually did start it, it turned out to be the best part of the song!

Now available on Sheet Music Plus »

Cello Appearance on Eponymous’s “Sea of Tranquility”

December 10th, 2017

MKE-based rock band, Eponymous, just released their second full-length album, Sea of Tranquility, featuring myself on cello on two tracks!

The first song, “So They Say“, features some cello throughout, has an aggressive bridge breakdown where I added some wild cello parts, and ends with a small passage featuring two cello voices.

The second, “Extortion“, also features cello throughout, slowly building, and rising to a counter-melody in the last refrain.

Make sure to give a listen to the whole album on Spotify!

Hold On by The Alabama Shakes for String Quartet

September 2nd, 2017

Closing out a recent flurry of quartet arrangements is the incredibly soulful “Hold On” by The Alabama Shakes. I initially hesitated on arranging this one as the melody relies so much on an intense vocal delivery, but it was actually the rhythm section that convinced me to arrange this. The main guitar riff works out beautifully as a cello line with some percussive slaps, and the key ended up lending itself to a lot of double-stops worked into the melody and harmony parts to bring some soul into the string delivery. And of course, I close the quartet with a bit of a round, pretty much a hallmark of my arrangements by now.


Blue Orchid by The White Stripes for String Quartet

August 27th, 2017

What a song! I don’t know anybody who doesn’t like The White Stripes, so it was finally time to arrange one of their tunes. It’s actually pretty difficult to find suitable arrangement material from musicians who excel at their instrument and feature it boldly, because no amount of clever arranging could make a quartet sound like a grand piano, a finger-style guitar, or in this case, one of the dirtiest blues riffs ever written. To approximate some of the bends and other guitar-specific techniques, I actually took the blue notes even further, adding even more diminished harmonies than in the original recording. I’m really happy with the result – a short, energetic, and bluesy rendition of a great song!

Now available on Sheet Music Plus »

Zero by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs for String Quartet

August 27th, 2017

A few years ago when I arranged “Maps” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I had to first spend a week or two if I was going to arrange that song or “Zero” as they’re both excellent songs with lots of potential for the quartet. Well, it took a while, but I finally got around to arranging “Zero” as well! The song features a good dose of heavy rhythmic techniques for most of the players as they simulate the synth and drums. The violins and viola add some harmonies to the song’s original solo vocal parts and the arrangement ends with a small round and a chorale.

Now available on Sheet Music Plus »