Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tom Brown



I have been performing as a one-man-band since 1975. Up until 1989, I had no computer involved in the actual music part of my act. For lyrics only, I had a little portable Radio Shack computer for which my brother wrote the program. That was in 1984 and man, was that exciting! Prior to 1984, I not only lugged around 3 guitars, but also the famous B-3 Hammond organ and two Leslie speaker cabinets, in addition to a sound system and all the rest. I had a little “beat-box” type drum machine, and played bass with my feet on the B-3 pedalboard. WOW....things have certainly come a long way! Incidentally, I was born and raised as a child in Hendersonville, but the family moved to Florida many years ago, where I developed my music. Upon getting the chance to buy the house I grew up in, I did so, and moved back to Hendersonville and into that house in the summer of 2004....a dream come true!

I won’t bore you with the details of how I create my backup tracks with the computer, but it is important to me for you to know that I personally record all of the backup tracks myself in my in-home recording studio. Every note you hear is my personal work. I spend anywhere from 10 to 40 hours per song (and some medleys take well over 50 hours) listening to each part in the original recording, and then learning and playing those parts (using a digital keyboard) into the computer as backup tracks which are called MIDI sequences (pronounced “mi-dee”, and stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface). These tracks include drums and percussion, pianos, organs, synthesizers, rhythm guitars, pedal steel, strings (violins-violas-cellos, fiddles, etc.), horns, backup vocals, and anything else the song needs to make it sound like the original recording. Then, when I perform live, I play lead guitar and sing along with the tracks I created.

I have come to realize that most of the musicians who do use backup tracks these days are not doing the work themselves. The reason is two-fold. First of all, it is very expensive, tedious, and time consuming. Secondly, commercially recorded sequences, as well as audio tracks (including karaoke tracks) are readily available on floppy disks or CDs from many vendors, or can even be downloaded from the internet....any of which are for minimul cost. Then they can simply be played through relatively inexpensive sequence or CD players....sort of a “plug-n-play” arrangement. Virtually, this is no different than someone who is just singing and/or playing along with karaoke CDs or backup tapes.

The reason I don’t take the easy way out is that I love the work of putting it all together as much as I do the performance itself, and . . . God has blessed me with the ability to do it. I hope you enjoy my performance!
MANY THANKS!    Tom Brown
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