Sunday, September 16, 2012

WWII Invades Worcester Airport

The Collings Foundation brought its Wings of Freedom tour to Worcester Airport this weekend. I spent a few hours there this afternoon, resisting the temptation to take another "once in a lifetime" flight in one of their historic aircraft. The P-51 is a little pricey but I could take a flight in the B-17... maybe next year (I flew their T-6 Texan just last month, can't get greedy).

So I just enjoyed a gorgeous afternoon talking with other historic aviation enthusiasts and checking out an especially nice group of their flyable airplanes: B-24 Liberator (which I flew last September when they visited ORH), B-17 Flying Fortress, P-51 Mustang, and new this year, the FM-2 Wildcat (WWII Navy fighter) and the A-36 Apache (the dive bomber version of the P-51 Mustang, which I had never seen). They also had a couple of WWII era ground vehicles including a Sherman tank. Here are a few pictures. More pictures on Flickr.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Drambuie (a New Oldie)

Words and music by Bruce Irving and Rob Simbeck (c) 1978.

Yes, 1978! This is a new recording of an old song of mine, which I wrote with Rob Simbeck back when we were trying to develop a music career in Rochester, NY. We eventually wised up and moved to Los Angeles, and Rob later moved to Nashville, where he still lives. But I digress.

"Drambuie" was mostly Rob's lyric, based on the observation that some people like Drambuie, and others prefer beer. Or something like that. I wrote some semi-jazzy music on a classical guitar. I've always liked this song, but I never tried to make a serious recording of it. This week I was fooling around with a music arranging and songwriting program I have called Band-in-a-Box (2011), trying out some of their "RealTracks," which are prerecorded audio files of various riffs, chords, and drum parts played by professional musicians. I have quite a few of their RealTracks styles, and every few years I upgrade and buy more. In this simple, jazzy "classy ballad" style, the instruments are piano, acoustic bass, and drums with brushes. They sound pretty good to me considering I simply entered the chords for my song, chose the style, and BIAB did the rest, except for the singing (me) and the electric guitar, which was played by Roger Lavallee.

I exported the audio tracks from BIAB and imported them into Sonar X1 for further recording, effects, and mixing. This version is not quite final. I am not happy with the vocal, and the mix needs some work. Roger played some pretty nice guitar lines around the keyboard riffs played by someone years ago, probably in PG Music's studio in Victoria, BC.

Where It All Began

I meant to post this when it was actually 50 years to the day, but now it's after midnight. Oh well, it's still cool. Fifty years ago yesterday, September 12, 1962, President John F. Kennedy gave a speech at Rice University in Texas in which he stated the goal of landing a man on the moon by the end of decade. The famous part of the speech is this:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
Guess what? Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, fulfilling JFK's pledge. There's a lot more to the story of course. But it's still a pretty good story. 1962 was right around when I started to get crazy about space and all the associated technology. It's pretty amazing that when he made this speech, only four Mercury astronauts had flown in space, two very quick suborbital flights (Shepard and Grissom) and two brief orbital flights (Glenn and Carpenter), three orbits each. Wally Schirra would fly six orbits a few weeks after this speech. It's a long way from three orbits to the moon.

There's a video here. The text of the speech and other links can be found here.