A little while back, one of my bands was hired to perform at a family reunion. People from all over the country gathered at a hotel banquet hall to celebrate. There was food made right there by the families, games for all ages, and us, a 6-piece live, dance/party band complete with full sound and lighting!
Well, that was the plan.
Unbeknownst to anyone, the hotel’s power grid wasn’t equipped to handle the party, and the room’s circuit breaker broke every few minutes. It was embarrassing, but my little band wasn’t able to get our mixer turned-on without tripping the breaker. On the family’s side, they couldn’t even charge their phones. The hotel’s engineer wasn’t being much help either.
Imagine planning a massive family gathering, preparing a ton of food, hiring a live band, and decorating a hotel banquet room … only to not be able to cook the food, have the band play, and not have any music in the background.
So what the heck were we supposed to do? The only acoustic instrument available was drums. The clients were very understanding and were encouraging us to simply treat ourselves to the food that was prepared, even going so far as to tell us, “It’s okay. There’s nothing we can do about it. You’ll still get paid. Just enjoy the party with us.” Then I remembered! I just happened to have these with me:
No! Not my wife’s bass from her days of playing in a metal band. Those little speakers behind it.
They are a pair of Sunburst Gear speakers (http://www.sunburstgear.com/). Battery-powered PA speakers/studio monitors complete with a mixer, bluetooth input, and speaker stand ports. I ran to my car, grabbed, them, and in no time, there was finally music at the party! The batteries were already depleted from a prior show where I was using them, but they managed to hold out a couple of hours until some very creative cabling helped us get band-level sound going (musicians: we had the entire band–5 vocalists, 2 keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums–going out of a keyboard amp! Hahaha!)
Got another story I’d like to share, but before that, I wanted to talk about …
My story with Sunburst Gear
In February of 2015, I was performing at Folk Alliance International and demoing for John Pearse Strings and scouting talent for Stonebridge Guitars. I quickly made friends with David, Nina, and Julie from a new company called Sunburst Gear/Elite Acoustics. They invited me to come try out their products.
I immediately recognized that they were on to something very different from your standard fair of battery-powered guitar amps. First, the sound able to cut through the bustle and racket of the convention floor by highlighting the upper-mid frequencies. Second, the speakers had an actual mixer built into the chassis placed where it’d be easy to reach for a performer. Third, the battery system JUST. MAKES. SENSE.
A lot of battery-powered amps force you to use an inordinate amount of AA or D batteries, more than you’d care to carry with you out on gigs. Sunburst Gear forgoes the need for carrying batteries by placing a rechargeable battery inside the speaker (with battery meter). They also include a cable that allows you to, get this, charge the speaker in your car.
And wow, doesn’t that make a ton of sense for the touring musician who spends hours in … well … a car!
The outer casing is a beautiful, black carbon fiber, and there’s a very sturdy metal handle on top to facilitate easy carrying. On the bottom, there are robust rubber feet so that you can place these puppies on the ground without scratching-up the unit.
I’ve used these daily for the past 2 years. They are my go-to studio monitors. I use them any time I need sound reinforcement but don’t have access to electricity. I used them to provide music for my daughter’s baby shower. I used them when I was driving a big tour van that didn’t have a stereo. I used them as monitors when sound guys didn’t have one for me. I used them for busking. I used them when I was recording artists on location on a laptop. The list goes on and on and on.
This summer has been my most successful wedding season yet, and I owe a large part of that to my Sunburst Gear speakers. On several instances, I’ve had clients who were worried during our consultation because their perfect wedding was an outdoors wedding with no access to electricity.
For me, it was no sweat. I could not only amplify my guitar but also provide a microphone so that guests could hear the ceremony and play background music via bluetooth while I packed away my gear.
If you have questions about the speakers, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I’ve been very happy to see this company of wonderful people grow and expand their product line.
I want to thank David, Nina, and Ahn for supporting artists like me and creating amazing products that help us do our jobs! I also want to thank Todd and Julie without whom, I never would’ve met the folks at Sunburst Gear. Looking forward to seeing where everything goes an being a part of the movement!
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Wow! The tour is coming to an end in a month! Then I’ll be back in Philly for my homecoming show with my awesome friends Nalani & Sarina! Anyway, here are some snippets of my summer adventure.
Thankfully, my 2009 Subaru Forester passed its yearly PA state inspection. The week prior, I test drove my fully-loaded car to make sure that everything ran fine. Better to work out logistical kinks earlier than later! Here’s a video I shot of the before and after:
The drive to NYC went fairly smoothly with the expected delays. My generous friends and hosts Genai & Jacob put out a cheese and vegetable spread. Then we promptly crashed to be well rested for the day ahead.
After waking up and getting ready, I got some food from a food truck and picnicked at Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
After running some errands, practicing, and more eating, I attended my first rooftop party! The panoramic shot won’t upload, so instead, here’s a weird failed panorama. I assure you that the view was quite pretty:
Edit: Yay! Got the panorama to load!
Panoramic shot from a Brooklyn rooftop
I got together with some old bandmates to jam before eating loads of pizza and attending an Avishai Cohen concert. Avishai Cohen is my favorite touring act at present, and he hardly performs in the US, so it was an honor.
Jam with old friends & bandmates
I got to play at the Hollow Nickel in Brooklyn. Really great crowd, awesome host, and a goofy, light-hearted vibe for the evening. Got a lot of great advice on how to improve my act as well!
No NYC experience would be complete without being given a parking ticket in a residential area without any signs that indicated restrictions. My EZ-Pass also malfunctioned on my way out of the city. Imagine the lovely line of patient NYC drivers who were stuck behind me because the cross bar wouldn’t lift to let me through. Anywhoo, on to Connecticut!
Well, my performance from TEDxStanford is finally up thanks to the hard-working folks behind this massive undertaking. Without further ado, here’s the video of my performance!
It was amazing listening to all the brilliant speakers and getting a chance to spend some time with them. I’ll be sharing their talks on my Facebook page in the coming months. Some non-TEDx highlights from my adventure to California:
- My flight was delayed due to mechanical failure. Glad they caught it while we were still on the ground
- Because of this I got put-up at a really nice hotel suit compliments of Delta Airlines (I give a video tour on my Instagram)
- It was fun driving a Mazda, although the tiptronics are reversed from my Subaru and took getting used to
- Philz Coffee makes absolutely delicious mint coffee. I’m not much of a coffee drinker but wow, never had a more refreshing ice coffee
- My brother and I saw Spiderman 2 after a nice hike through Alum Rock Park. The hike was beautiful, hilly, and included a run-in with a wild turkey. I enjoyed the movie; apparently far more so than the critics. Maybe I’m just easy to please
- I’m super relieved that my Stonebridge made it through traveling safely
Here are the pictures I snapped along the way:
Some pictures from my travels:
An unexpected stop through Salt Lake City, UT
Now I’m a part of the Sky Team!
My guitar got a window seat!
Umami burger with my brother
And TEDxStanford begins!
Brothers and cookies.
Blah blah blah.
Website (shelteredturtle.com) — central hub of everything I do
Facebook (/shelteredturtlemusic) — interesting articles, fan moments, & general media
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YouTube (shelteredturtlemusic) — original & cover music, tutorials, & live footage
Instagram (/shelteredturtle) — pictures on the road for both gigs & travel
I might be a klutz and spill water on myself, but even clumsiness can lead to something lovely:
Before I made preparations to leave for a small weekend away, I got a little something in the mail from AAA: namely travel & camp guides for the places I’ll be visiting on my summer tour!
I then head out to a rain-soaked West Chester, PA to play at the Higher Grounds. It was a really cool spot complete with an open kitchen, a fireplace complete with sofas, and a nice, open area carved out for musicians. After my set, I managed to break yet another zipper on my Reunion Blues Continental guitar bag. Nothing that a little strand of paracord and a lighter couldn’t fix!
The next day, I had a spot at the Ambler Music spring festival. Some light drizzle and ominous storm clouds scared some people away before my set, but the sky opened up once I started playing. I bumped into my friends at the Engle guitar hammer as well as many other talented musician friends. Overall, it was a fun day of hanging outside, eating food, and listening to great, local music.
My friend Geoff C. also managed to snap some great shots from me playing on my lovely Stonebridge G22CR-C outfitted with Miniflex Model 1 Two-mic system:
Sunday had me over in Princeton for their Communiversity Festival of the Arts. I really did not anticipate the scope of this event! I spent nearly two hours trying to find parking with no luck. I happened to run into my friend Michael M. who got into my car and parked it while I rushed over to the stage with gear in hand. The kindness of people always floors me. Everything was fine after I took a deep breath and started playing.
After a really fun set in front of a great, interactive crowd, I hung with friend and awesome/funny/hypercreative songwriter Sarah Donner, her foster kittens (pictured below), and her bassist Jay. About the most relaxing way to spend an afternoon.
I then hiked back into town, grabbed some Chinese food, a root bear float, and jammed in the audience to my friends and favorite multi-instrumentalist, twin sister, musical act, Nalani & Sarina who always put on a killer, high-energy act. After walking around town for a bit, I drove to visit my folks in their beautiful country home. The next morning, I found out that sometime during my time in Princeton, I managed to put my first scratch in my Stonebridge. As Roger from Stonebridge said, “The first cut is the deepest.”
And there you have it! A weekend nicely bookended by my clumsiness, hahaha!
Looking ahead, I’ll be at the Spring Picking Bluegrass Festival to demonstrate the Engle Guitar Hammer this Thursday and Friday! Then I’m off to California to perform at the TEDx Conference at Stanford University! What a dream come true!
Love and Peace,
Phew! Five months of hard work by Video Guy Coop (E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for all your video needs!), and it’s finally done! This is easily my favorite music video yet.
The footage was shot on an extraordinarily nice November 2013 morning/afternoon at Valley Forge National Historical Park in King of Prussia, PA. The spot is notable in American history as the encampment where General Washington rallied his troops over a brutal winter to win American independence over the British.
The audio is from my debut album, Runaway Sketchbook (2013).
Here’s a little production screenshot as I made some final edits to Coop’s footage:
Coop and Ashley (who helped a TON with the shooting logistics):