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Showing posts with label fynnyus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fynnyus. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Grif Bamaisin: Playing Guitar, Singing, and Looping...Fynnyus reporting

Grif is one of my favorite live Second Life performers because he’s engaging, funny, and one helluva guitarist. His performances are never the same. This evening he started off with a couple slow songs, which I liked because Misty was with me. We danced and talked, and she mentioned that, “he’s very good, his guitar playing has complex phrasing, and that he loves using the pedal board.” She swears Grif sounds like Jimi Hendrix when he talks. She thinks his guitar playing sounds a lot like Buddy Guy, or Hendrix himself and that, “his singing is on par with old blues players that were mainly guitar players, even a little like Muddy Waters.”

Indeed, Grif is unique. His vocals are very distinctive. His guitar playing is incredible.
Tonight, he played, among many other songs, the Mood Blues, “Nights in White Satin,” but very much in his own style, with background instrumentation. His rendition of the Door's, “Riders on the Storm” was awesome. And he did an amazing version of “Apache” you just have to hear to believe. Tom Petty’s, “Break Down,” was his closing tune.
Grif's gigs are always interesting and fun with interactions from the “The Tambourettes,” and his band members. His profile says that he performs, “every note and word you hear.” He invites guest players on stage for fun and visual impact.  Regular guest players include, Drutim, Eva, Kallia, Mac, and Kimmi. Dru “drives” his avatar during performances. He spent 20 years as an arena level sound engineer.  He used to be engineer for Blue Oyster Cult. He plays bass, guitar and keys in real life local jams and in-World. I was able to talk with Grif and one of his long-time band members, Dru (drutim.bates) in the days that followed the performance. Their interviews are woven together in what follows.

Fynn: I remember when you first started you would play and in between the songs tell the most hilarious stories of being a roadie.

Grif: I know - I couldn't sing and didn’t have a lot of material.

Dru: He's a very interesting fellow. . . .  When he was just starting out, he would invite people to the stage, as he would say "keeping the band alive.” I've been with Grif over 10 years. Know that I'm not a musician and do not play on his stream. My job is to animate his avatar onstage. We use a remote-control guitar HUD. He always enjoys audience participation.

Fynn: You've come a long way.  Can you tell me how you and your music have evolved since then?

Grif: I still have similar tastes rock/blues-based, but spanning genres, not much pop. Show-wise I do more live looping and have a lot more loop-based songs. I don't do many songs where I have recorded the entire thing and then dropped the parts I play live. So a lot of the songs I do have never seen a computer.

Grif Bamaisin: Playing Guitar, Singing, and Looping

Grif: Music tends to be pattern based and repeats.  Drums obviously are repetitive by nature, and verses will repeat. That means you can start with a drum machine (more on that later) and then record a bass line loop which will repeat over that, then record some rhythm guitar over that. Add in a tambourine or shaker, and you have a full backing to play and sing over

Fynn: very cool

Grif: There is a tradeoff, there are some songs, for example, Lady In Black where the song repeats almost line over line, so I do that one fully live and I record all the parts in front of the audience and then play the song using guitar and keyboard parts on top of the looped parts. The tradeoff with live looping is that the songs need to be fairly simple - at least the backing - and they take time to set up. I'd end up doing 4 or 5 songs, so I usually do a couple to show I am not making it up, then the SL audience believes me when I tell them everything they hear is me, live or on track. It is a tricky thing in SL – if you do too much, people will think you are not live. Luckily, I also do Facebook live shows and people have seen me play the same show on camera, and my Facebook page has plenty of video of me performing the same stuff.

Fynn: So, "looping" is a music technique that’s unique to virtual playing, or is it known in real life, live performances?

Grif: It is very much a live tool.

Fynn: Tell me more about how it works.

Grif: There are quite a range of loopers from single phrase to 6 phrase behemoths, some aimed at vocalists some at guitar players. So, for drums I use a thing called a Beat Buddy, it’s a drum machine specifically for guitar players. You pick your song (I use MIDI from my iPad - when I pick a song it sends a signal to all my toys – looper, vocal processor, guitar player, Beat Buddy, keyboard, etc., and picks all the right settings for the song. It’s shaped like a regular guitar stomp box.  Tap it once and it plays an intro and starts the drummer (I have about 30 drum kits to choose from- really good samples) tap it while it is playing and it plays a fill to the end of the bar, tap it again and it plays a different fill and so on. Press and hold and it plays a transitional fill until you release it. So, it is a very expressive drum machine that is intuitive and has enough variation to not sound like a drum machine. So, everything except guitar changes is automated.

Fynn: I love this “behind-the-scenes” stuff!

Dru: He's a real professional and takes his shows seriously.

Fynn: Who are some of your musical influences?

Grif Bamaisin: Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Wishbone Ash, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore, David Gilmour, Status Quo - best band you have never heard of, lol. Status Quo is a Brit band that has headlined major European festivals for over 50 years. Wishbone Ash defined a style for me - they were doing twin leads years before Thin Lizzy, as were Wild Turkey (WIld Turkey was formed from some Ex- Jethro Tull members - notably Glenn Cornick).

Fynn: You seem to have a lot of fun playing. Can you describe playing in Second Life, your career, how it's influenced your real life?

Grif: Second Life gave me the courage to play in real life - I was doing blues jams – I went from playing guitar for three songs while looking at my shoes to actually talking to an audience and interacting and enjoying them.

Dru: Yes, he has recently made the local Portland (Oregon) music scene.

Fynn: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Dru: He keeps his shows current and dynamic. He tries to engage his audience and make you smile. He's famous for having girls dance with tambourines: The Tambourettes. It makes for a "party" atmosphere that keeps the show fun.

Grif: I still really like playing in Second Life and the audience is even more important now.

Follow Grif’s group, Electric Brit, and check him out at where you can find out more about his Second Life shows and see videos of him playing in real life.

Monday, June 22, 2020

The Underground Garage: Reopening with Jack Slade- Fynnyus Reporting...

            I met Layla (Layla Mesmeriser) a couple years ago at a blues club called Junkyard Blues. It claims to be Second Life’s oldest blues club and three-time Avi Choice winner of “Favorite Blues Venue.” It plays traditional blues music, country blues, soul blues, folk blues, blues rock and it has a Louisiana bayou theme. Layla and I became fast friends. She’s witty and charismatic and just fun to be with. She owns a club called the Underground Garage that originated in 2008. The club was starting to come back to life after a few years of being pretty much dormant. On this particular day, the club was having its first live act in a long time. Seasoned Second Life performer, Jack Slade was billed for tonight’s performance. I spoke with Layla about the club, her thoughts about music, and the influence Second Life has had on her, then listened to Jack Slade.

Fynn: So, tell me the origin story.

Layla: The Underground Garage was created for our love of classic rock and blues, however, the name came from Little Steven’s Underground Garage Radio station that digs deep into the soul of music and that is why we picked the name.  We wanted to not just play your traditional rock/blues music but dig deep into the history of rock.

Fynn: “We” being you and Mr. D (her former partner)?

Layla: Yes, he was actually the one that came up with the name. He is more the music genius behind it all, I created the grunge look and feel because I felt it best suited the music we wanted to bring to SL.

Fynn: What was it like to run a music club?

Layla: Amazing! We got to know a lot of people with similar music tastes that appreciated the love for deeper cuts of classic rock and blues. We worked hard for years to provide something that we felt was missing from other classic venues. We kept our music to 60's/70s and slightly into 80s, but our club was a true classic rock club with a mix of blues to give it an extra special feel for the love we had/have for music and the artist we grew up listening too.  It was all a labor of love and our guests and friends felt it. They would compliment us on the uniqueness of our style of playing.

Fynn: Tell me more about your love of music.

Layla: My love for music goes back to my younger years. Even in junior high, I remember getting lost in a particular song for hours, taking out my small record player, and playing the same classic rock song over and over again. It continued well into my teens and young adult years. It’s since developed into blues, but my love started with classic rock, had it from the day I received my first 45 disc of The Doors. Even now as an adult, whenever something is going wrong in my life music will always ground me and refocus me on what I seem to be feeling. It lets me escape and soothes me better than any drug around.

Fynn: What influence has SL had on your love of music, if any?

Layla: SL has actually helped me grow in my love for blues. I was always more focused on classic rock, however, meeting other people here and listening to other DJ's and live artist . . .  I have expanded my love for music to include Blues, Garage Rock, etc. It has shown me that we should never limit our taste to just one particular decade.

Fynn: I'm interested in your opinion about music in SL, the current situation, and how you've seen it change?

Layla: With everything going on in the world now, I have seen more people are returning to SL and finding solace in music much like I have been doing for years. I have spoken to so many now that have returned because music in SL has expanded to more live artists and even the DJ's have tried to cater to the heart and soul of what people are feeling. So yes, compared to 2008 when I first joined, music on SL has definitely helped a lot of people in finding that comfort, if only for those two hours that the DJ is playing.

Fynn: You just started the Underground Garage up again after a fairly long hiatus, had a couple deejays, a few friends hanging out here, how have things been going lately?

Layla: Due to real life we had to close some of the things down here, it got too chaotic to be here so many hours to manage this venue, but due to the recent lockdown I had more availability. It started with just rebuilding the club. The venue itself never closed down, I have never allowed that. It remained open for friends to still come and listen. I should point out we have an amazing stream called "Dirty Waves" that is run by a close friend IsisRea Diavolo, old regulars and new people will come even when I am not here to chill and listen to commercial friend classic rock and blues. And when I finally did return on a more regular basis in early March, it was easy to reach out to the few friends I continue to speak with, which led to more new friends joining and it’s been amazing!! It feels like it did back when we first started the club. It’s just a place for a good friend to hang out listen to some good tunes in a relaxing setting and have a few laughs.

Fynn: Was the UG popular back in the day?

Layla: Goodness YES!!! We had a great following. From day one back in 2008 we had a strong following, mostly because we kept it to classic rock and there was a very big need for good rock music. We'd have theme events every Friday. We had live music, tribute concerts that we use to produce ourselves, and we use to do an open mic. I would change up the club almost weekly and we had a strong following, but it was a lot of work and things were different in real life, I had more availability.

Fynn: And how is the club doing?

Layla: The UG is still a premier rock and roll club. Its urban grunge city setting features the best in classic rock, garage rock, punk, and blues. When we play our music it is from deep down in our core and we want our guests to feel where it's coming from—that we are playing so that they can feel the music just as powerfully as we do when we play it. I want people in SL to know that classic rock and music, in general, shouldn’t just be played without truly feeling the lyrics. The UG is here to give you that home you need if only for that single moment.

Fynn: Is there a future for the UG?

Layla: I hope that it builds up to how things were back when we first started, that it continues by word of mouth of what this little grunge venue provides, that it doesn’t just serve up one of the best classic rock music on the grid but that it also houses a great group of friendly folks that are always welcoming to anyone who needs a place to call home.

Fynn: Tell me about tonight, Jack Slade is performing, why him? What is your hope for this evening?

Layla: Jack is just fantastic!! He has a way of transporting you into his music. He sings about SL love/life and if you live here like most of us do. We can relate completely. I found Jack a few weeks ago at another venue and have been a fan since!! I hope that our friends and regulars will have the same experience I had weeks ago, when I listened to Jack sing for the first time.

            And it was a fun time! Jack played many popular tunes, but also many of his own songs. He sang Harry Chapin’s, Cats in the Cradle; Gordon Lightfoot’s, If I Could Read Your Mind; Bob Seger's, Turn the Page; Leonard Cohen’s, Hallelujah; Larry Norman’s, The Great American The Norman tune is a great protest song, and quite appropriate for today’s chaotic world situation. It's a great thing when a performer is in tune with world affairs Jack’s original music included titles as, “Did I Lie to You,” “I Don't Know,” and “I Don't Want to Write No Sad Songs,” and a few others. Indeed, Jack sang well beyond the hour you get from most SL performers. His sound is mellow, with a folksy-blues style, and the song selections were perfect for his voice. On a whole the performance was a synergy of space and sound, the vocals and the architectural choices all came together very nicely. His voice was sounded like warm, blueberry pie on an early spring day. Go see him and have a slice on me.

And so, the Underground Garage seems back in business.  Upwards of 40 people came by, so the restart was quite successful. Several old-timers from the early days of the club came by. People told me that it felt like the old days.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Waltzing to The Colorful Quiet: A Tale of a Harmonious Experience

            Sometimes in life, whether virtual or real, things come together, that is, life harmonizes as multiple entities converge to create an experience that one might call, transcendent, divine, even magical. The feeling this sense of perfect unity creates can be felt, but many times cannot be put into words. We try, but words are inadequate in expressing these feelings. But I’m going to try to tell you about just such an experience that happened to me in Second Life about a week ago when I went to Cape Halcyon to listen to a live music performance. Cape Halcyon is an outdoor music venue. It is described as “a new live music venue, that opened in January 2020, featuring only the best artists in SL.” It was very nicely landscaped. There was a small, square stage with a wood plank floor. Light bulbs were strung up around the stage. It was close to a calm river, with a sandy shoreline. A green grassy open area for dancing dominated the space. A tree-lined border with rustic buildings was here and there. A Black Lives Matter sign was atop a roof. A small herd of wandering sheep was off to the side doing whatever wandering sheep do. In all, it’s an idyllic setting for a picnic, or just relaxing on a blanket. So, this place was the first aspect of my harmonious experience that was about to occur.

The musical performance was the second aspect of my harmonious experience, and it was another one of those serendipitous occurrences I spoke of in a previous article. I accidentally caught The Colorful Quiet after another performer finished. I hadn’t gone there to see him perform, but a friend told me that this was his first performance since returning after a fairly long hiatus from Second Life, like four or five years away, I think she said.  So, I had to stay and listen. And I’m happy I did because he sounded wonderful. Indeed, this guy was really good! Great guitar playing. Picking notes and strumming chords. He sung Loser by Beck, Sex and Candy by Marcy Playground, Disarm by the Smashing Pumpkins, Basket Case by Green Day, Polly by Nirvana, Norwegian Wood by the Beatles, Man in the Moon by REM, and several others. His voice matches his name, colorfully quiet, in fact almost a whisper with quavering vibrato. A sense of mystery came to mind. My partner, who is well-versed in music, especially guitar playing said this:

misty Metaluna: a lot of acoustic guitar players play a set pattern of chord sequences and sound repetitive. He doesn’t do that. Yeah, he has skills.

Fynn : you are so knowledgeable!

misty Metaluna:  . . . like say Nickleback they are good but you hear the same chord phrasing in a lot of their stuff.

misty Metaluna: lol, I’ve been around music my whole life.

Fynn (fynnyus): You just schooled me on guitar playing J

            And so we come to the third element of my harmonious experience: Misty. She and I became partners not too long ago. With her, there was a connection almost immediately. Have you ever had that happen? It’s a sense of, “I want to know this person more.” Then, as you get to know them more, that wanting feeling turns to a feeling of need for them. The need turns to a desire. You miss them when they are not there. You start to fall in love. But she is smart and resisted at first, having been burned by love before. Heck, we have all been burned by love in Second Life, haven’t we? I mean, if you have spent much time at all in Second Life, you have experienced a broken heart. But damn, if love is not a powerful thing! And if love is there, it is a very hard thing to resist. And love was there. And neither of us could resist. The funny thing is that she and I are so different in many ways, yet those differences have made us more compatible than one could ever imagine. It’s as if our differences actually cement us together because we can talk about them, accept them for what they are, and get past them. Anyway, I digress. I could go on and on about Misty, but let’s just say that she is the catalyst to many special moments, the current one under consideration being one of them.


  And we come to the fourth and final element of this perfect experience: dance. Now, dance in and of itself is or can be, a transcendent thing. It is an ancient art form. Some would call it a form of communication. Indeed, dance has emerged as one of the more ubiquitous forms in Second Life. But why dance? Why has it become such an important part of our virtual existence? Perhaps dance is a way we express ourselves when words are insufficient. When we watch our avatars dance, we feel a sense of joy. Dancing is a way to express love. Perhaps we dance to show that we can overcome great sorrow or adversity, perhaps dancing reminds us of our youth and its passions, or it reminds us of the peacefulness of our softer and more graceful years.  A waltz, a foxtrot, or a rumba might be the best or only way to express ourselves more fully. We all want to be understood, and if we could truly speak the words that describe our feelings, how deep and powerful they would be. But alas, those words sometimes don’t seem right. So, maybe dance is simply how we translate what our heart is trying to say.

Waltzing in this place, to this performer’s song, with my partner, was special. Indeed, the waltz itself is significant as a ballroom dance style. It is a dance born in the suburbs of Vienna and in the alpine region of Austria. As early as the seventeenth century, waltzes were played in the ballrooms of royalty. Despite its social acceptance, the waltz was also criticized on moral grounds by those opposed to its close hold and rapid turning movements. Religious leaders almost unanimously regarded it as vulgar and sinful. In 1816 the Times of London condemned the dance in an editorial that said,

“We remarked with pain that the indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced (we believe for the first time) at the English court on Friday last ... it is quite sufficient to cast one's eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of the limbs and close compressure on the bodies in their dance, to see that it is indeed far removed from the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females.

So long as this obscene display was confined to prostitutes and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is attempted to be forced on the respectable classes of society by the civil examples of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.”

Fortunately, the waltz survived the various oppositional forces that attacked it throughout its history. Today it is one of the most popular forms of dance—even in the virtual setting of Second Life.

And so, these four elements, person, place, music, and dance coalesced into a singular unforgettable moment. There was a confluence of the music and the motion as we connected in this virtual setting. These primordial forms of communication transcended time and space. Indeed, they showed themselves to be quite important elements in this emergent medium of digital time and space called Second Life. Misty and I are one node of the whole of dancing, of dancing history, if you will. We were a singular point as we waltzed to the singing of The Colorful Quiet. It is moments like this that renew your faith in the feelings another can have with you a thousand miles away. It felt like a rebirth of faith in the unboundedness of love for another person, indeed for people in general. How differences can be reconciled with a touch, a kiss, a word, or even a visualization of two people dancing as their corporeal selves watch in wonderment at each other’s digitized beauty.