Band-In-A-Bag (solo)

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Bob Deutscher - guitar, vocals, keyboards, Midi

    I had bought a Teac 144 4-track Portastudio as an aid in my songwriting and with the advent at this time of  programmable drum machines I decided to take the one-man-band approach to my solo act. I bought an Oberheim drum machine, programmed parts for the songs I'd perform, then dubbed them onto one track of the Portastudio. Then I added bass parts and occasionally, backup vocals and keyboard parts from my also newly purchased Yamaha DX7 synth. Technically this gig was a learning process. I started out recording half sets of songs on the cassettes but soon discovered the limitations of that format so then I picked up some blank cassette casings and spliced in one song at either end. Unfortunately, at the beginning, I used low grade tape. At this time I couldn't hear much loss of quality but later on after playing these tapes over and over my mistake was evident so I commenced using good chrome tape although ultimately they all stretched somewhat and I had to utilize the Teac's pitch control.

    I wrote a few songs though this period of time and as they were recorded on the Portastudio I'd perform them occasionally at my gigs. Once, in the winter of 1984-85, my wife and I were leaving a bar in the Chinook Mall in south Calgary and as we were walking across the parking lot in sub-zero weather she commented 'Brrrrrrr Take Me Home and Tuck Me In'. We got such a kick out of that obviously country music title that we wrote the song on the way home and once we got there put it on tape.

    As my repertoire was expanding and I was playing a good number of gigs my wife and I decided to move to Souris, PEI, her hometown, as Lisa had an offer to work for her father in his fish processing/restaurant business. I even considered learning the trade of an inspector at a fish cutting plant but my father-in-law talked me out of it. Thanks, Cyril!

    Before we moved, in the spring of '86, the City of Calgary put on a songwriting competition for a theme for the upcoming 1988 Winter Olympics. While driving east through Illinois I came up with the song The Face Of Calgary. I entered the song and got a nice 'Thank You' note for entering from our then mayor and now Premier Ralph Klein. I  didn't win but still think the song is pretty good! Can anyone name the winning song let alone hum a few bars??

     It was in PEI that I started calling my act "Band-in-a-Bag". I had been carrying my tapes from gig to gig in a blue and white striped beach bag - hence the name. I had thought my particular one-man-band approach would be a lot more successful than it turned out to be in PEI. I can speculate indefinitely as to the reasons but, although I did get a smattering of gigs at first, suffice to say I couldn't really crack the local scene. In a nutshell I'd call it a stressful, character-building experience.

    There were some high points. I entered a song I had more or less written in my sleep into the CBC Maritime Songwriting Contest of 1987-88. My song Right Now was the ultimate co-winner out of some 400 entries along with a tune by a Halifax group called the Screaming Trees. I got the news while on vacation in Calgary in January '88 where I had also picked up a gig, for the heck of it, at Fernie, B.C. The prize was supposed to be a recording session at CBC Halifax after which the song would be included in the next forthcoming CBC Coast To Coast album. Well, the powers that  be at CBC Toronto wound up rejecting everything that was submitted out of  Halifax including those so-called winning songs. The sessions, produced by Glen Meissner were, however, a gas. I recorded another of my songs in the studio, The Turning Point, playing and programming all the tracks as I had with Right Now. In this case a local singer, Cheryl Lescom, did a nice job on the lead vocal. However, it never did get to the final mix stage.

    Right Now got a small bit of  local CBC airplay and I appeared on Charlottetown CBC's '88 Children's Miracle Television Network telethon for the IWK (Isaac Walton Killam) Hospital in Halifax. I altered the lyrics of  Right Now a bit for the fund-raising pitch. I also performed Take Me Home And Tuck Me In. Even with that kind of exposure the gigs were hard to come by so I became fairly frustrated. That, along with a downturn in the fish industry, sealed our decision to move back to Calgary which we did on New Year's 1989.

    I commenced to continue my solo gig in Calgary upon our arrival. By this time my older tapes had begun to show their wear-and-tear including stretching. I had to constantly tweak the pitch control on the Portastudio. My newer songs were sounding great but the venues that I was being booked into wanted to hear the older-type material that happened to be on the now crappy sounding tape. This led to a lot of personal frustration onstage and the decision to go MIDI instead of tape. I had picked up an Atari computer in '86 and used it to re-work the gig. Still, I guess my heart really wasn't into it much so I let it fizzle. An incidental detail - for a short period of time we lived next door to Todd Kerns (Age Of Electric, Static In Stereo).

    From there came a series of stabs in the dark playing gigs with such local bands as Big Trouble, The Ravens, Babalouie,  Presto Tango, Ginger Street and Crossroads. I even spent some time being a DJ! Not my cup of tea.

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