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Keyboard rig approaches at Hall and Oates/TFF


JCRoswell

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Last night I went to see Hall and Oates on tour with Tears for Fears for their stop here in Atlanta. Two things I was struck by.

 

First, Eliot Lewis (H&O's keyboardist) was playing a Roland VR-09. That's it. A sub $1,000 keyboard on tour with one of the most successful groups of all time. I mean, it worked for him and he sounded good, I was just shocked it wasn't a Nord or some top of the line workstation. (Yeah, I know, it's the craftsman, not the tool.) Tears for Fears' keyboardist, on the other hand, played 4 keyboards and they also had tracks to cover the synth dense tracks.

 

Second, these two keyboardists pretty much encapsulated the constant inner battle I have: authentic reproduction of the studio version versus simplicity. I tend toward the desire to nail the recording and play as many parts as I can humanly cover using tracks as necessary. But...I know the freedom that comes with simplicity and limiting myself. It can even make me a better musician (sometimes).

 

I love sounds so I have a hard time keeping it simple. TFF's songs mostly sounded like the record. H&O reinterpreted most of their songs and just jammed the heck out them. Which did I like better? Both. For different reasons. Thus the inner turmoil. :crazy:

Live rig: Roland FA-08, Yamaha MOTIF ES 6, laptop for supplemental sounds.
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Mildly interesting that Wiki lists Lewis as endorsed by Hammond (as well as Reverend and Merida Extrema guitars).

 

A couple thoughts. RnB and Soul based artists seem to me to gravitate more naturally to reinterpretations, riding the groove and re-creating on the fly to see where it may lead.

 

Not necessarily connected to that thought, sometimes the order from on high is to get as many of the parts nailed as possible, whether you have to run tracks in the back or not. Just a different kid of gig entirely.

 

I find my preferences nudged by the fellas and gals I gig with. Some seasons the pendulum swings one way, sometimes the other.

 

The folks who are least-preferred to play with are the folks who cannot break free from somebody else's recorded version because they can't envision doing it any other way than what they heard. For those kinds of gigs, the paycheck needs to be worth the hassle. Just my 0.02.

 

..
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Indeed on the "Live with" show you almost always see him playing an SK-2/SK-1. But he's got all sorts of keys that he brings in and out for this or that tune, depending on the guest and what they are covering. For example, he's also got a PC3 LE. Side note: he's a hella useful rock/pop/rnb multi-instrumentalist, but shhh! the guitar is his love. That said, if the VR-09 gets the job done for a pro how can you argue with that? It gets the job done for a lot of guys - have you seen the length of the VR-09 thread on KC? And these days you never know what it's controlling over USB/MIDI (ie. MainStage).

 

The VR's have checked off the right boxes for players for years now. The complaints about the 09 are mainly about what had to go for Roland to find space in the sub $1k area. Trade off was mainly the build, action & number of keys, and the type of drawbars.

Yamaha CP88, Casio PX-560

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Who opened for who? If H&O were the openers, that may dictate a simpler rig?

I very seriously doubt that, even if H&O were the opener. Which they're not. It appears to be a "co-bill", with a third band being the official "opening" act.

 

Eliot is probably playing the instrument he is because he's used it a lot and is comfortable with it. I can relate. I use a tiny 61-key controller & laptop on some big gigs, I know it looks ridiculous on a big stage but, too bad! That's my axe, it's what I play. Even if I had a budget to add more gear up there, I wouldn't do it.

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OT: My wife and I were out one night and Private Eyes came on the radio at the place. We overheard a guy at the next table talking about Hall and Oates. He was saying, "Oates still has it, but Hall doesn't. He lost his voice years ago." :rolleyes:

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Who opened for who? If H&O were the openers, that may dictate a simpler rig?

 

H&O were the final act so while TFF was not technically the opener, H&O were clearly the bigger artist. I couldn't see anything else hooked up to it like a computer rig, but who knows what it was MIDI'd to off stage. Although a computer certainly doesn't address the shortcomings of the VR09 which are primarily physical. Yet that didn't seem to slow down Elliot.

 

Reezekeys, I wouldn't look at your light setup as ridiculous, I'd look at it the way that I viewed Elliot. To me it says "I don't need a 7 keyboard rig to do this gig; I'm gonna rock it with just 61 keys and you won't even notice that board once I get going."

 

To add my 2¢ to Tim's thoughts: I think the ability to break away from the original recording is at least partly related to musical maturity. Maturity is hard. Maybe someday I'll give it a real shot.

Live rig: Roland FA-08, Yamaha MOTIF ES 6, laptop for supplemental sounds.
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This is great to hear. I've seen various vids of Elliot Lewis covering gigs with a single Nord Electro, or SK-1. Taking the focus away from trying to nail every sound in a recording, and instead putting it on the groove and soul live, is refreshing. I've seen this, again and again, on Darryl's House.

I cover keys for an island rock - country mashup, four pieces plus vocalist. There's a lot I could do - with particular sounds, layers/splits, etc.. Jimmy Buffett arrangements are full of sounds that can be covered by keys. But on Margaritaville, for example, my leader doesn't have me jumping all over the place between piano, Rhodes, marimba, steel drums and ocarina. Instead, he covers electric guitar and grabs the ocarina lead from that. Meanwhile, I use a piano / dyno ep layer to capture the soul of the rhythmic piano and island metals tones. I'll use a more elaborately layered program when taking out a bigger rig, but many gigs are covered fine by my SK-1,73. I've yet to see an audience that stands there analyzing the live arrangements. If we're doing our job right they're too busy dancing and singing along.

'Someday, we'll look back on these days and laugh; likely a maniacal laugh from our padded cells, but a laugh nonetheless' - Mr. Boffo.

 

We need a barfing cat emoticon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eliot is a cool cat.

 

Ive even seen him using a Yamaha MX49 over the SK-1 on certain LFDH episodes, depending on who the guest artists are.

 

He doing a small club show down here in the Dallas area in a few weeks that I am going to. His solo stuff is quite good (plays mostly guitar...and very well)

David

Gig Rig:Casio Privia PX-5S | Yamaha MODX+ 6 | MacBook Pro 14" M1| Mainstage

 

 

 

 

 

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He is fits the bill with that band...Truthfully I wish I had that gig! A friend of mine knows him. I wish he gigged with an 88 note keyboard at least..I wish he would do a little more. He plays guitar.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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The Live at Daryl's House show is one of my favorites. I think I've seen just about all of the episodes. Keyboard player is minimalist and tasteful. He uses diverse gear - Electro, SK1 or SK2, MicroKorg XL (I think I have the model right), various controller keyboards. He is kind of like Benmont Tench in that you don't always hear the keys prominently, but you'd miss them if not there.

 

I'd love a gig like that.

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The guy can sing his ass off as well...here he is when he was in Average White Band a few years ago (and with darker hair)..

 

 

He played keys (and keytar), bass and I think guitar as well as singing lead when he was with them. Talented dude...

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Saw the show last night in Pittsburgh. It was great - hit after hit from both bands!

 

Doug Petty from TFF is using a Korg CX-3 organ, Rhodes (or DP in a Rhodes shell), Roland System 8? or a controller with Roland side panels, and maybe one other board. Some of the sounds had to be sequenced. It's not possible for one person to be playing the sounds live.

 

Daryl Hall is using a Grand Piano (or a DP in a Grand Piano Shell) and a new Roland RD-2000. Elliot was using the Roland VR-09, playing strings, Hammond, electric piano. Charlie DeChant (sax) also played a keyboard on several songs (Out of Touch DX Bells, for example). I couldn't tell what keyboard he was playing, might have been a Yamaha Motif series (61 keys).

 

Both acts were great! TFF sounded just like the record, while H&O were more jazzy with their arrangements. Great evening! Go if they are coming to a town near you.

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How was Allen Stone, the opening act? He was on LFDH, and was great. Sounds like a great show....2 nights at Staples here in LA

 

We missed all but the tail end of Allen's set. He must have started soon after the doors opened because we got there just a little after the time printed on the tickets and he was nearly done. I was hoping to hear him, too. So if you want to catch him get there early!

Live rig: Roland FA-08, Yamaha MOTIF ES 6, laptop for supplemental sounds.
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Reeze I was just there, I go to Albany 5 times a year for meetings. Damn I missed it. I did see them in 2004 with Michael McDonald. They sang each others tunes. That song "Kiss on my List" from Hall and Oates sounded really cool with him singing it.

"Danny, ci manchi a tutti. La E-Street Band non e' la stessa senza di te. Riposa in pace, fratello"

 

 

noblevibes.com

 

 

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If anybody in the Albany NY area wants to catch Eliot's replacement in AWB, there's a free concert on the river tonight! He doesn't play guitar or sing though!

 

http://www.albanyevents.org/events/event_map.cfm

:thu:

I'm on the phone with Eliot right now for a feature.

 

I'll have answers for you shortly!

 

Jon Regen

Editor

KEYBOARDMAG.COM

:2thu:

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Reeze I was just there, I go to Albany 5 times a year for meetings. Damn I missed it. I did see them in 2004 with Michael McDonald. They sang each others tunes. That song "Kiss on my List" from Hall and Oates sounded really cool with him singing it.

I think Michael McDonald would sound good singing pretty much any tune!

 

And just to be clear, H&O is not playing Albany tonight! AWB is.

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If anybody in the Albany NY area wants to catch Eliot's replacement in AWB, there's a free concert on the river tonight! He doesn't play guitar or sing though

 

But you - I mean the new guy - plays bass though? :thu: Wikipedia says so and that's never wrong...

 

Cool gig - great songs and musos.

 

Cheers, Mike.

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  • 2 weeks later...
... and it's holding a 12 lb. keyboard! A decent x-stand would hold a VR09 steady. But knowing the kinds of shows H&O do, I suspect there are probably a few of those "stage crew" people hanging around who can help out!
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