2019 Update

Well, I made my last post in December, 2017. It’s high time I made a new one. The TV show I alluded to in the last post still hasn’t aired in the US, and the production company has stopped replying to the band’s e-mails. It did air in the UK, but that’s a story for another time.

2018 saw me buying many keyboards and keeping busy with Dirty Revival. Things are still on the upward trend with them – we just signed a trial period with Nimbleslick Entertainment to handle booking. So far, so good, and it’s looking like 2019 will have us at about the same level we were at before. The band is also recording new songs, with the goal of a second full-length album. A while back I connected with John Neff on Facebook, who runs The Lab recording studios. Neff’s resume includes mixing countless films, and close collaborations with Walter Becker, with whom he owned a studio on Maui for many years, and David Lynch. We got to talking about Hammond organs, and he invited me over to play his B3. Turns out Dr. Lonnie Smith recorded an album on that organ on Maui in 1980. He even re-wired some of the presets, and John left those as-is. The Leslie needed a little love last I played it, but it was nothing that couldn’t be remedied quickly. He’s also got a Polymoog synthesizer, though it wasn’t working. His Clavinet and Rhodes have been serviced by Ken Rich, whose list of clients includes Herbie Hancock and the late George Duke. I hope to someday get my Rhodes and Clavinet to Ken for a fine-tuning, as he’s probably the best in the business. Just gotta make it coincide with a trip to LA where I can bring two really heavy keyboards, and plan a return voyage. Hopefully we can share the recordings we made at The Lab soon; they’ve been mastered and are being shopped to labels. We’re tracking a couple more songs two days from now, on February 6.

I finally got my mixing console set up in my “studio,” which is, for the most part, a room in my house filled with too much gear. The console is a 12-channel Ramsa WR-T812 that I got from Johnny Fontana when he moved away from Vancouver. I bought and traded boards with Johnny several times over the years, including my Ensoniq ESQ-1, which I eventually traded back to him with cash for his Ensoniq SQ-80. The console sounds nice, although the routing is fairly arcane and took some fiddling to figure out. For now it’s perfect for routing keyboards and an audio source (laptop, phone, etc.) into headphones for practicing. Next step is some monitors, sound-treating the room, and a proper desktop computer and interface to track audio. Well, maybe the next step is moving keyboards around so I have them all close to the board.

I bought several Hammonds and sold a few. One was an M3 I picked up in Eugene that I think wasn’t working when I got it. Dad and I replaced a tube and resoldered a couple connections on the tone generator and it was up and running again. We also added a 1/4″ line-out box, making it more desirable and sell-able. That’s my plan for two more M3s and an M2 I have. I also ended up with a chopped M2, but it’s just enough of a novelty that I might hang onto it. Same with the Model M spinet I got – Hammond’s first spinet organ, and the first to feature smooth drawbars instead of the ratchet-action kind used on consoles of that era. It doesn’t sound particularly cool or anything, but sometimes you want the spinet sound. Booker T. Jones famously used an M3 on Green Onions, and they’re wired a little differently from full-size consoles. For the most part, though, playing a Spinet feels like I’ve only got half an organ. Very little low end with the short keyboards and reduced pedalboard, and very little high end without foldback (a system of reusing tones instead of just cutting them out when they’re higher than those it can create). I also sold an A100 that Dad and I had since about 2000 or 2001 with a Leslie 122 I bought in Yakima. It was not getting played, and there were some bad memories attached to it from when Dad and I fried the upper manual trying to fix a really small problem. We had the upper manual replaced years ago, but I never felt like playing it. I’m also about to semi-permanently loan my first full-size console to Sarah Clarke, Dirty Revival’s vocalist. She’s a skilled keyboardist, and definitely reads sheet music better than I can. It’s a “B3,” kind of – A100 guts transplanted into a B2 case. It’s been sitting in my garage for too long. With it will be a Leslie 21H I picked up in Prineville, OR when the band was nearby in Bend. It wasn’t making sound, which turned out to only be a bad fuse, but I’d already ordered a rebuild kit, so I went ahead and replaced all the ancient wax-and-paper capacitors in the amp.

Other projects include repairing and upgrading the many other Hammonds and Leslies I have. After getting the capacitors replaced in my chop, I realized that it’s something I’d like to ideally do to every organ I own. There’s so much more definition to the sound. Clearer highs, clearer lows. It’s so much more expressive and a joy to play! I also plan to put some custom high-power Leslie innards into a 760 cabinet, Leslie’s tolex “pro-line” road-ready model. The 22H I got with my Model A in Garibaldi, OR had a custom solid state amplifier and a massive JBL 2482 tweeter and Gauss 15″ bass speaker. The tone isn’t right for the classic Hammond sound, but they were used in some 70s rock groups like Blue Cheer. Lately, I’ve been playing more rock with LiquidLight (I have yet to do a show with them, but everyone’s pretty busy). It’s a perfect setting to use that, where the guitarists have Marshall stacks – I’ll be able to actually keep up! I also recently bought a Vox Super Continental combo organ, another rock keyboard classic. Maybe soon I’ll take my tech up on buying his “extra” Farfisa Compact Duo. I had hoped to buy a vintage synthesizer this winter, but continued problems coordinating with the seller and his raising the price on me prevented that from happening. There are so many vintage synths I’d like to own, but many of them have completely stupid prices these days. I can’t imagine paying much more than $5000 for any electric instrument.

There’s also the piano! I never did post the full saga of how I ended up with a 100-year-old, 9-foot Steinway concert grand in my living room. Again, another time. For now I’ll just say it sounds incredible and I try to play it every day. I feel extremely guilty if I don’t.

I suppose that’s all for now. Cheers!

-Snacks

Holiday Update

Hello all,

It’s been a good year – I amassed many new instruments and I’m still learning how to play them better! I’ll have to post a more complete story of the saga of how I wound up with my new piano – a nine-foot concert grand Steinway D made in 1915. It was at an estate sale, and I had it refurbished – it came home in July. I bought several more organs, including a “chopped” Hammond – it’s in a road-ready cabinet, and is designed to be taken out to performances. It’s still very heavy, but my technician, Matt Miles, went through it – and now it’s one of the best sounding organs I’ve ever played. It was a college graduation gift from my parents. Around Halloween, Dirty Revival went to Los Angeles to film an episode for a TV show – unfortunately, I can’t say much more than that until it’s officially announced, but it will be on a major network in January and should bring at least a couple more people to our shows in the following year!

Happy holidays, and thank you for your support!

Ben “Snacks” Turner

An Update

Well, I had a bunch of cool things typed out about our last tour, but my laptop got stolen in Chicago. All the text was on there and didn’t get backed up. I’ll try to make a post about the tour, but I’ve been working steadily since getting back into town, so we’ll see if I get to it. All things considered it was a good tour – I finally got a really cheap laptop tonight at best buy so I could do things like update this website. Got some fun shows coming up, I’ll try to post about them, but the most up-to-date calendar should be on my facebook page, http://facebook.com/bensnacksturner
Thanks y’all!

Winter Tour II, Day 10

Here’s some stuff I wrote on tour and never published. It was Saturday, Feb 11.

Tonight we’re in Nederland, CO. The space we’re playing is real new – it’s called The Caribou Room. From what I understand, it’s a sound engineer’s baby that he started for fun, and wanted to do everything right. Great sound onstage. While loading in, Terry (our drummer) said, “hey Ben, you’re gonna be excited to see what’s back here.” I assumed that meant there was a Hammond organ, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. In fact, there was a Hammond and Leslie – a Model A (the first organ Hammond produced) and a “tallboy” 31h Leslie cabinet. I shouted “F*CK” and surprised one of the staff who happened to be walking through the room. Turns out it’s more or less being stored there by one of the staff, so I won’t get to play it tonight. There’s a C3 and Leslie 122 available for rental, but because it wasn’t negotiated earlier, we’d have to pay like $200 to rent it. Hopefully we’ll play here again and get it covered in the contract; the engineers made it sound like they could hook that up easily.

Last night we were in Denver at Ophelia’s. I’d never seen a club set up the way it is – two levels with the stage on the basement level and a big hole in the ground floor. People next to the balcony can look down on the stage, and above the stage is a video projection screen for anyone further back.

The most exciting part was opening for Foundation of Funk – a supergroup featuring Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste and George Porter, Jr. (bass and drums respectively) of the Meters. They tour adding different guests – for this show, it was Eddie Roberts (New Mastersounds) on guitar and John Medeski on keyboard. Far and away the best keyboard setup I’ve gotten to use yet – he had rented a B3, D6 clavinet through a fender deluxe, and Nord stage. I namedropped one of my PSU professors, David Valdez, who had played with Medeski many years ago in Boston. “Man, he was just this punk kid back when I knew him. One of those really burnin’ players.” I got a hold of Valdez on facebook: “We played a lot of gigs together. Never expected he’d end up a rock star.” Medeski was kind enough to let me use his custom wah pedal that he’d had made in Greece since I always use the onboard wah on my Nord. He warned me it was $1000 to replace. The only mishap was that I managed to make the clavinet feed back, which I didn’t know was possible. I guess it was turned up too high when I turned the wah on in preparation for a solo.