Friday, October 24, 2008

Interesting gig

This coming Sunday afternoon I get to provide music for a dance event with Propeller Dance and collective gulp. While I'm use to coming up with ideas for the 1.5 hour Propeller classes this event is for 3 hours. So the various synths, loop pedal, and acoustic instruments will be getting a good workout!

Here's the blurb:

Contact improvisation JAM

Join Propeller Dance and collective (gulp) dance projects for an introductory contact improvisation workshop and JAM. Live music by Mark Rehder. Contact improvisation is a dance form exploring the physics of two (or more) bodies in motion. It can fly high and fast, or be subtle, slow and soft. It’s about connection, gravity, and fun.

When: Sunday, October 26th, 2008; 1:30 to 4:30 PM
Where: Routhier Community Centre, 172 Guigues Street, 2nd floor.
Cost: Sliding scale $5-10

This workshop is geared to dancers with some experience in dance and are comfortable with touch and contact between dancers. LIMITED SUPPORT will be available.

Wear clothing you can move in. No jewelry or scents, please.
Questions? Contact: collectivegulp AT or phone: 613-794-1102

Monday, October 20, 2008

An odd yet cool little trike

I've come across this rather odd little tricycle. It was donated to re-Cycles, and when it came in we stared at the rusty frame and noticed the missing parts and went "what the heck are we going to do with this?". So I took it home to assess what was needed, and decided it could be revived.

It's a bit of a mystery as to who actually made this thing, but more on that later. For now we look at photos!

Here's how it looked when it was donated:

Nice, eh? The interesting thing about this little beastie is that the front half of the frame tilts! The pivot for the tilting mechanism (situated on the axis of the two rear wheel axles) was quite seized up, and the rear drum brake was also stuck.

Here's the back end:

Oil was applied to the tilter in a few doses, and after a few days and some wrestling it eventually broke free.

The 16" drum brake wheel was replaced with an identical unit, as through a stroke of goofy luck I'd had one lying around for a few years. It had come from a similar trike whose owner had left its parts at re-Cycles while he took the frame home to repaint, and never came back (one reason re-Cycles had to adopt a policy against bikes or parts being left overnight) .

Yes, that is a Shimano 3-speed hub with extra-long axle. Both chains had to come off for a good scrubbing.

Close-up of rear underside, showing pivot. The rubber sleeve encloses the U-joint the connects the central front chain to the right-side drive chain:

Here it is all apart, ready for some sanding and painting:

Since I was only painting with a spray can, I was not going to be anal retentive about making the finish perfect. I got most of the rust off, and the downtube is still a bit bumpy under the paint. I decided to go wit two strong colours, and settled on a dark green frame, with yellow fenders and chainguard. Of course I realize when I'm about to paint that those are also the factory colours for John Deere tractors...

So here is everything painted and awaiting reassembly:

The only original paint showing its robin's egg blue is the steerer tube, and a bit underneath the U-joint area.

And here's the assembled little beastie:

Yes, the entire front end tilts!

Halloween pumpkin and groceries fit nicely in the big Wald basket (it was missing its original one):

Now, back to the mystery. The head badge said "Sears" (of course the trike was not actually made by them), while the front fender flap says "Miyata". But there are no photos of a Miyata leaning trike to be found on the Net, outside of a few photos taken by my friend Richard of another local one here in Ottawa:

Note the design of the rear basket, as we'll refer to it later.

There IS a similar trike called the Bridgestone Picnica Wagon (and a newer Picnica that is a 2-wheel folding bike), and its rear frame, fenders and chainguard look to be identical to this Miyata / Sears. But the drivetrain is different, and from what I can tell this one does not tilt.

Here are two photos, one from eBay, and the other from random surfing (they look like twins, don't they? Maybe it's even the exact same trike in two different places.)

Now, recall the basket on the blue Miyata. It looks identical to the one on the above trikes! And so the plot thickens and I'm still going to presume that Miyata made my trike. Of course maybe Bridgestone made this trike for Miyata (not uncommon in the bike biz), but that does not explain the differences in the frame and drivetrain.

Mike Plummer and Kundstadt Sports recently confirmed for me that this was inded built by Miyata in the mid to late 1970's, as they sold a few of them back then. Since there's no info on the Net about a Miyata trike I'll perhaps become the main web resource for this little thing, just as my website seems to have the only info on the Auto-Mini folding bike (Google it and you'll see!). :)

I'd like to keep this trike for oddity's sake if nothing else, but it's way too small to ride comfortably. Its design really doesn't make much sense to me, but someone (or a design committee) put a lot of thought into it, and it got corporate approval to be manufactured. The tilting feature is cool, so it doesn't act like a regular trike and one can go around corners with ease, but then you also lose the stability while stopped that a conventional trike offers (because of course the frame will flop to either side if you're not paying attention). So all I can figure is that one gets the cornering of a 2-wheel bike, with the ability to carry a small load out back, and that's about it.

Oh, and just to make life interesting, Bridgestone makes a trike called the Minna, with two wheels in front!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Music and technology

The past six months have been a tad hectic, and I recently went through my photo collection and realized I had taken photos for blogging but had yet to blog them!

This post is about an ongoing exploration into using technology with my music.

Back in the mid-1980's I had a Simmons SDS8 electronic kit, which was cool for a bit but its limitations eventually bothered me and I sold it. Around 1990 I bought a Roland SPD8 drum pad (yes, a rather similar model number to the Simmons), and used it mainly for recording and triggering MIDI at home, and only rarely in a live context. It's still a pretty cool machine, even almost 20 years later, as it has velocity filters which allow one to change the sound by the amount of force used when hitting a pad, and some of the newer machines don't feature this.

I dug mine out for live use this past summer with the Orbiters, a group involving 3/4s of the Steve Berndt Quartet. We did this for our Thursday gigs at the Metropolitan Brasserie because we needed to differentiate our music from what the quartet played on Sundays at the same venue. I stripped my kit down to bass and snare drum and a few cymbals, and added the SPD8. Bassist Tom switched to his Baliset, and Steve ran his voice and trombone through an effects unit at times. We played a mix of 60's and 70's tunes, ranging from the silly Flintstones theme to funky RnB that many folks would call acid jazz.

One of the reasons I did not use the pad in live situations all that often was because it needs an amplifier, and I did not have one and was loathe to carry one around when I already had drums and a hardware bag to transport. And electronic drum sounds have strong transients that need more power than a small lightweight amp can provide. But I bought the Behringer amp earlier in the year to use both for this project and the rig I use for the dance class, and it has worked out just fine. I even ran the pad through the Boss loop pedal so I could be my own extra percussionist!

Here's my view:

Including the two drumkit pedals the electronic ones make for five in total. The middle one is for bypassing the looper and running the pad into a separate channel for different volume or effects, and the right one is for stopping loops (the loop pedal needs to be depressed twice to stop it, which is not all that accurate in the heat of live performance). Yes, getting used to these pedals while performing has been interesting:

Tom and his baliset, while Steve tests the PA:

Tom has more pedals than I do, and even Steve has a pedal board:

All this technology gives a musician much wider variety of sounds, but while it's great not to have to carry around a ton of extra percussion instruments I do have to carry (and wrap up and put away) a lot of connecting cables.
In a future post I'll talk about the new Roland hand percussion pad I just bought. Yes, it too needs cables...