Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dear Santa

Dear Santa. For Christmas I would like a proper studio space for my house. As you can see from the video, setting up a session, even a simple vocal session like this one involves A LOT of prep and clean up time. And because of my noisy old buzzing house, I need to turn off the furnace (brrr), refrigerator and water cooler, put the clocks in a closet and wait for barking dogs, passing trains and Fed Ex trucks so they don't become part of my recording.......And I thought I lived in the sticks! If possible, could you throw in an engineer to help out my old ears and to run the computer so I don't have to race up and down the stairs in between takes. At least I'm getting my exercise, right? While we're on the subject, my computer is over 10 years old. I could really use a new one of these! It would go really well with this and this. I think protools 9 would make an excellent stocking stuffer as well! I promise I'll be a good boy and continue to make music on all of my ratty equipment until you make my XMAS dreams come true. I Love You! RD

Actually, I'm recording through some pretty good stuff like my Focusrite's and the Soundelux and Neumann mics. I'm utilizing the high ceilings of my foyer to try and get a some natural reverb sound. In the top photo you can see the Neumann facing the ceiling, capturing some of the "echo" the room is throwing. The whole idea is to try and make my backing vocals sound like a choir. So far I like what I have. For this track I also set up in my downstairs family room for the 1st verse and the bathroom for the 2nd verse. Whatever it takes!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In the clouds

Headspace by rickdobbelaer

I'm checking out, a new (to me) hosting site and figured I'd post some different stuff on there. This song, "Headspace" was done on a rainy night a while ago with only a 4 track, a guitar and a Digitech DSP128. The DSP 128 was my first delay/reverb rack unit and I really explored that thing extensively. Unfortunately it now sits on a shelf next to my broken Saldano pre-amp and an old Alesis compressor I don't use. Sadly, when I recorded this I wasn't too worried about hiss and distortion so there is plenty of it on the recording! It was done all live except for one edit that I did just now to clean up some really bad distortion. I'm going to post a few others and I would like to do more stuff like this.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Civil War

So, I saw Roger Waters doing "The Wall" this week and was blown away and inspired. That record (and movie AND band!) left it's mark on me as a young musician coming up. Thankfully, I was reminded this week that it's important to pay attention to the world around you and look at everything through unclouded eyes. When you are caught up in the race to stay alive, raise your kids, have a decent place to live etc., it's easy to become lazy, jaded and complacent. I am definitely guilty of this and my life has become more mundane as a result. I have also become musically lazy and this saddens me. My creativity has been put on the back burner because of the enormous responsibility that is on my shoulders and as I get older it's hard to summon up the energy that is required to be creative. Somehow it seems less important and insignificant. Shit, Waters is 67 and there he is onstage running this gigantic machine that is practically flawless. That is impressive enough but what really gets me thinking and inspired is the amount of commitment he and Pink Floyd put into each of their records, especially The Wall. It is so thoughtful and complete, and the level of intensity and patience is mind numbingly fantastic. People just don't make records like that anymore.

I've been writing a lot of new music as of late. I just decided to let things flow and usually if I sit down with the guitar or a keyboard something decent will squeak it's way out. The trick is to turn those snippets into something cohesive and meaningful. I'm just glad I'm allowing myself the time to experiment and free associate again. Time is a MAJOR factor in all of this. I usually end up in the studio after midnight, dragging ass 'til about 2 or 3. Tough to do when your 3 year old is up everyday around 6! But I will continue and winter is coming to save my soul again. What I will do with all of this stuff is the question. I've been at this "Recording An Album" thing for quite a while with nothing to show for it. Patience, right? "Is there anybody out there???"

"Civil War" is heavily inspired by Mr. Waters... I did it a few years ago....

I buried you just yesterday, but you've been dead to me a long time
It didn't have to be this way...
You let your head get a hold on you, you let your ego shine your shoes,
And then you walked all over me, good bye, good bye

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Unspun Evolution

Here's a condensed version of the recording of Unspun's 'Gospel Fiction' done way back in 2001 at Eric Helmuth's loft/studio in Portchester, NY. We pretty much tracked the song in a day and went back and did another session for vocals. We were fortunate enough to rent some serious gear such as the Neve Melbourne sidecar and an old Neve compressor that certainly helped improve our sound. This session also produced the songs 'Start' 'Stop me turning Gray' 'Souvenir' 'Resume' 'Universe' and 'Photograph'. The latter three are on a hard drive somewhere, unfinished.

Gospel Fiction started out on my 8 track reel to reel like this:

From there the band shaped it into it's current state. Smith added some new lyrics to my melody. John Joyce's drumming on this was excellent and I remember being really excited with the pattern he developed. Christian Celaya's bass part was influenced heavily by Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same" and when he and John locked up it was really powerful. This song was a lot heavier than most of Unspun's tunes and it elevated our live shows.

As you can see we had a lot of fun with this group of guys and I kind of miss that camaraderie that comes along with playing in a band. Studio hours are long and take their toll on everyone involved though. Nonetheless, Unspun achieved a lot in the 3 years we were together, culminating with the release of 'When it all comes down' on Universal Records.

(DISCLAIMER!!) During the process of condensing the video file size a TON of distortion was added to the mix so listen cautiously!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Recordings

Dave and I are planning on a few new recordings, maybe next week. I'm going to try and keep it simple this time around with Dave not even bringing his whole kit, just kick, snare, high hat and maybe a floor tom. The tunes are called (tentatively) "When you loved me" and "September"... It's been a slow month as far as music production goes but I've written a few good ones. I was working on an advertising thing (it's just not for me, I hated it) and out of crunching for that a few songs appeared, one of them in a dream (again!) Also, I've been having trouble with my Facebook music page because it won't let me add anymore songs so I may put a few "b-sides" on here. These are finished tunes I just can't seem to find a place for. Dave says "put 'em all on a CD" but i don't know....

Can this
sit well next to mostly organic pop songs?? I guess it comes down to how good the songs are, right??

Thursday, July 22, 2010


This was a huge song in my childhood and continues to haunt me today. Way ahead of it's time I might add. The vocals I did on Unspun's "Flashflood or Fire" and "Clean" were totally inspired by this. I hadn't seen this video prior to doing those songs but I gave it my best effort to achieve similar results. Instead of looping, I sang individual notes per track and would go until my breath gave out, then we would blend the tracks together to create one long note. We did this numerous times because of the harmonies involved.....

Here is Unspun's "Clean"

Friday, June 11, 2010


This is pretty close.... Dave Ramie on drums (fantastic), myself on bass, guitars, Rhodes and vocals.

Friday, May 14, 2010


Been a while.... Dave, politely and in his own stealthy way started pestering me about finishing the record and he succeeded in getting me to at least finish a mix! "The Way We Are" (working title) started out as an odd little echoed Rhodes part played in 7/8 meter. From there I added very straight and basic drum patterns to help me with lyrics and phrasing. Dave came in and created a whole other vibe with a jungle rhythm at the top and an aggressive beat throughout. Erik Lawrence provided an amazing solo, bringing the song to new heights. During the session I asked him to channel his inner Wayne Shorter and I kind of hear it a little in the Steely Dan type bridge. (I don't think Steely Dan ever had a song in 7/8 tho....) I tried to get a few bassists to add their own 2 cents but to no avail, it just didn't work out. I find that it's very hard to motivate people of my generation to do anything, let alone practice and/or create something on their own time and then lug all their gear here for a recording session. Everyone leads such busy lives!! At times I kind of get tired of playing, recording, writing, mixing and engineering most things on this record. It's a (musically) lonely experience but it can be very challenging and rewarding as well. Not complaining, just telling it like it is. I hope the 7/8 thing isn't too quirky for most listeners....

This song was inspired by my beautiful family and it is a love song to them. My life is like a dream: reborn from set of serious circumstances into a domestic world of love and abundant life. I know it's a recurrent theme in my music but this is really my life on a daily basis. I'm a lucky man.


Here's the way we are right now:
She lays down upon my heart and then she says "You sound just like the storm outside our house tonight."
Listen to her laughing, look into her eyes
Listen to her laughing look into her smile
Let that light shine on you

And all he wants is my hand on his hand
so he knows deep inside he's my man, my little man
Listen to him laughing, look into his eyes
Listen to him laughing look into his smile
Let that light shine on you

And then there's you, you saved my life
and then there's you my lovely wife
and there's this love in our small house
and there's so much to shout about

And then there's me and all my faults
and all I want is you to love
All I want is you to love
Listen to us laughing, look into our eyes

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I put up a facebook page for my music past and present. I figured it would be nice to have a place to share the old with the new as this blog is mainly for the new music..... go here to see...... lot's of music is posted.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


rev·eil·le   [rev-uh-lee; Brit. ri-val-ee] Show IPA
a signal, as of a drum or bugle, sounded early in the morning to awaken military personnel and to alert them for assembly.
a signal to arise.

It seems that slow, acoustic waltz's are abundant these days... I wrote this when I was sick as can be and on the way out of this world. My little girl was crying in her sleep every night (as a lot of kids do) and worrying me. Early in the morning she would walk into our room chipper as can be, announcing she was ready to start her day regardless of how we felt about it. She would carry me through the day, not really caring about my melancholia... she just needed to be with me and to love me. Having that kind of energy around you during uncertain times can be an amazing motivator. Incidentally, after my heart transplant I received a letter from my donor's father. I could only imagine the pain that he was feeling and I responded to him as delicately as possible. I tried to let him know that the loss of his little girl and the gift that her family had given me had enabled me to love my little girl. I sent along a copy of this song to him with my letter......

Top of the morning, she comes and blows Reveille..
Tossed up and yawning, she always comes right to me
In her eyes there is something that only a child can posses,
It gives me a reason to get myself out of this mess, into the daylight

Caught in a moment, somewhere between space and time
Winter is growing all over this heart of mine
And she's so oblivious coming to give me a kiss
Alive and awake I am now in a moment of bliss

Everyone needs this in their life somehow, some way you need this..... Hallelujah

Chimes in the window ringing the sweet tones of life
Train whistle blowing, carrying hope through the night
And she's lying next to me crying her way through her dreams
She trembles and shakes but I know it's not as bad as it seems
And I will watch over you, I will protect what is ours
As long as you're next to me, always connecting me
All the power of daylight in my heart

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I've had this around for a while... I always liked the droning, slow feel of it. Euthanasia started out as another click-less acoustic demo and was nicely grooved by Dave Ramie and his syncopated beat. He's an amazing drummer. You can hear a lot of influences on this one.... Instrumentation is Rhodes, Reason Synths, Strat through a Fender Twin, Fender Precision Bass, Les Paul custom through a vintage Ross flanger into a tiny Crate amp, and my Taylor acoustic.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Not the tax refund kind of accounting.... these are things I think and sing about late at night....

Does anybody really care?
Does anybody really know what's fair?
Does anybody really know what's down the line?

Tomorrow maybe never come.....
and everything you know is all undone...
will anybody come around to pick you off the ground?

How lost we are without love....

Have you ever seen a smile that can send you to the moon for a while
and have you ever really known the love of a child?
Do you give it everything?
Do you open up your heart, let it sing?
Or do you always shut it down and live like a clown?

How poor you are without love....

It's all here, it's all here... you can do as you like.

Friday, January 29, 2010

If I fell...

Regina Spektor. I remember the day I discovered her music: I was feeling really crappy about life and I happened to hear a tune of hers on net radio. Although I can't recall the song, I was instantly hooked and proceeded to download everything I could get my hands on like demos, solo shows at little NYC clubs and of course album tracks. I think Soviet Kitsch was out and Begin to Hope was on the way at the time. The music lifted my spirits greatly and my blues were gone.

It's a great feeling discovering a new artist and my wife and I fell head over heels for this girl. We went to see her at Town Hall in NYC with some friends and we were all so impressed not only with her voice but her apparent shyness and humility. So, it was in this time period that I literally woke from a deep sleep one morning, reached over for the guitar and some paper and proceeded to write down the exact dream I had just had about Regina and I. Annie was like "what are you doing?" as it was about 7AM and I told her "I just fell in love with Regina Spektor."

"I Fell In Love With Regina Spektor" features Dave Ramie on drums, Erik Lawrence on sax, Steven Bernstein on trumpet (both of Levon Helm's Grammy winning band) and myself on bass, guitar, Rhodes and vox. During the tracking of the horns Steven said to me "Great tune. I share management with her so I'll make sure she hears this!" "Uh oh" I thought.

It's a small world.... my buddy Eric Helmuth an engineer and former music professor at SUNY Purchase did some work on her 11:11 album. Also, Richie Castellano who was the sound man for my old band Unspun produced and recorded that very same album. When Unspun was at Purchase rehearsing a few times per week I probably walked right past her on numerous occasions but never met her. Damn! I'm really not as obsessed as it would seem but I thought the story behind the song might be interesting.... really!

Anyways, I'm still plugging away on this record. I have about 75% of it done. Chip Larison came over the other day and brought me his Variax. Insane! I could have used this when I was doing a lot of gigging back in the day. I'm sure I'll find a use for it on this record. Chip is working on some slide rhythm stuff for "Hearts are Breaking" and we'll probably lay something down next week. Dave might be coming in to track drums for one more song called "No rest for the weary." It's a good rocker and I may need it for the record but I definitely don't want to prolong the release of this thing. I'm also hoping to pick up some Adam Audio A7's soon. I don't have the extra cash to do it but I think I need these speakers RIGHT NOW!!!!