We’ve been pretty busy mostly with band stuff lately so there hasn’t been much to update on the property front though Britton has still worked steadily through it all and the chanfles (siding boards) are almost all fully installed. We are moving on to the next stage soon.
Playing out at Pool Bar
It’s cool being swept up in the excitement of the tourist season and that includes our band. We had a gig recently at Pool Bar in Puntas which was fun even though the bass amp caught on fire! Fire, fire in the bass amp! So there was a last minute scramble for something else which sort of threw us off a little. Overall though we did really well and are constantly improving and adding more songs to the repertoire. We have gone through so many different possible band names, but I think we are pretty solid now as the Rincón Continentals!
The after party! We didn’t get home until after 4am!! That’s the problem with being both the “stars” and the roadies haha
Besides the fun and excitement that we make (more to come soon as we foray into television….!) life in Rincón is still just mellow and slow. It’s drying out quite a bit and so we’ve had to water a few of our plants by hand. Humidity is much lower and I get a bit cold in the middle of the night (with the doors and windows open in February). I just love how the rural and modern mix in this little town. You are just as likely to see live music as live moooo-sic!
Friendly bull and barb wire fence
And I recentely saw cotton growing wild. I have never seen it growing before. It’s pretty cool stuff. Amazing that the majority of our clothing comes from this fluffy plant. I just had to pick a little of it. Now Britton calls me cotton-pickin’ Cassie. Perhaps my new band nickname. Hasta la próxima -C
Our experience in Puerto Rico has been somewhat like a dream. Maybe that’s because it really was a dream of ours to move here, but it just seems like a sort of magic occurs more often than not. It’s a convergence of people, energy and just simply being at the right place at the right time mixed together to form experiences that even in the moment you know are special.
The most recent magical experience happened just this week when we recorded one of our band’s original songs. Our singer/guitar player wrote a great, funny song called No GMO (We Want Natural). It is super catchy and fun and we all believe in it -both the message and the song itself. The chorus goes: We don’t want no GMO, just go outside and grow your own! We don’t want no GMO in our food….we want natural!
Anyhow, he made some arrangements with some big names in the musical industry even on a non-existent/ shoestring budget. And we were on our way.
Practicing to the click track at Rob’s House
We spent the last week or so before recording practicing to a click track which is much harder than you might imagine if you’ve never done it before. It is the most annoying metronome sound you can imagine and we had TICK TOCK in our heads for hours on end. Probably is some form of torture. If not it could be!
Habish getting Rob’s drum mics all ready in the studio
Finally the moment came for us to record. We had two full days set aside to do this. We recorded at Spectra Studio in Aguadilla where the owner Habish Rosario welcomed us. It took a while to get all the equipment ready and so there was a lot of hanging out before each of our parts.
We spent a lot of time hanging out under a beautiful flamboyan tree -Kevin, Chris, Me and Britton
One of the special guests of the recording was retired sound engineer Corky Stasiak. Corky’s resume in the musical industry is crazy impressive. He has worked closely with Kiss, Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith, Beatles and so many others. He has been retired now for nearly 30 years and lives part time in Rincón. To have him come out and help with our production was quite simply amazing!
Corky Stasiak with a new book about the making of Kiss’s Destroyer album
So not only were we recording in a top-knotch studio where some of the best bands in Puerto Rico have recorded, we were also working with world-renowned industry heavyweights.
Some of the awesome bands that Spectra Studios has worked with!
What was really cool was that our producer/friend Giovanni could totally hang with them. He knew just what and how he wanted things and kept the schedule moving at a great pace.
What a crew on day one! L-R: Rob, Chris, Corky, Giovanni, Cassie, Britton, Habish
In the studio with Britton, Habish, Chris, Mark and Giovanni
Making a studio song is nothing like making live music. It is all deconstructed and then put back together again. We started with the rhythm which meant Rob on drums, Britton on bass, Chris on guitar and Chris and I on scratch vocals. Scratch vocals mean that they use it just for keeping the reference in the song. We would record our full vocals the next day and dub them over.
Britton made the comparison that this first stage is sort of like the batterboards in building a house. You want the song to be right on beat and time to the metronome just like you want your house to be straight and level. Everything else will build from there so it is very important. This was a tough stage and we took many takes. At one point we were so frustrated we had everyone except the band members and Giovanni leave. We finally decided to play it without the click track and we rocked it -but to a slightly higher beats per minute! So Giovanni reluctantly turned up the beats and we were able to finally get a great rhythm base to build the song on.
Camping out under the flamboyan
The day was just flying by! We basically camped out and had a couple of food runs but spent the entirety of the day at the studio. From 10am to 12midnight on day one! We got all the rhythm including some fun stuff like my tambourine part, stomps, and claps.
Cassie on tambourine
Day 2 was another long day. We got through a lot though! We did the lead guitar part, trumpet part, lead vocals from both Chris and me, gang vocals, keyboard and backup vocals. It is sounding awesome!
Mark on lead guitar! Sounds sweet!
I was pretty nervous doing my part solo. When I was with Chris it was a little easier because we are always joking around. But alone it is a little intimidating to have people behind a window that can hear you but you can’t hear what they are saying unless they pipe through to you. I took a few takes and overall I think it went really well. I tried to have fun with it.
On day one when Corky was in the studio I received probably the best compliment about my voice that I have ever heard, especially coming from him! He said I sounded a little like Kate Pierson of the B-52s and that I have a really upbeat bright sound that is fun and will carry in a band because it adds such personality. It’s probably partly because I really do just have so much fun with this band and the music we make! We are always making silly jokes, wittisms and double entredres. So I am constantly cracking up.
Chris and I have a great rapport together and are always joking around
Day two ended pretty late as well at around 11pm. When we were in between parts there was a lot of just chilling out in the barn area or under the tree.
Pizza time! With Kevin, Chris, Rick and Giovanni
And time to chill between parts -Britton, Cassie, Caitlin
What an incredible, dream-like experience! We can’t wait to see where this dream takes us next! Yesh. Tiptop indeed.
We live just down an offshoot of the main road of the 413 in Rincón and about 3/4 of a mile from the beach. So whenever possible we try to walk. Walking provides a different sort of perspective on the world. You are much more likely to stop and talk with your neighbors along the way, you notice the small details and life just slows way down. We walk down to the bakery, friends’ houses, the gas station, Sandy Beach, food stops and other spots. When Sean was here we took even more walks because we pushed pause on a lot of our other projects.
Britton, Will and Sean hanging at Jackie’s Gyro place
While I literally hung out
Sean also took a few solo walks and found a path from our house directly to the beach and so we all decided to go for the hike to check it out. Britton and I have been curious about a trail that would supposedly end up at the beach but we hadn’t ever actually taken the trip.
Through the back jungle
We took a machete and just followed Sean’s lead through little creeks and over small bridges, bamboo clumps and flower-carpeted trails. We took our time and stopped to admire all the things we came across.
Flor de maga -Puerto Rico’s official flower -looks like hibiscus but is not
We even came upon these beauties covered in burrs that made their manes look like Rasta dreads
We then popped out of the jungle and right into civilization at these mostly empty condos
And onto this beautiful coconut palm fringed Rincón beach It was a fun little side quest that took us only about a 30-40 minute walk through the jungle. You never know what awaits just out your backdoor. Sometimes the best adventures are found on your own two feet.
Our band played out our first show as the final performance for the 3rd annual Legends Surf Classic at Harbor Restaurant right near the public beach in Rincón (balneario). Not 20 feet behind us the moon was glowing on the lightly lapping waves. It was a great show with a nice turn-out. We have practiced long and hard for it and while we are still improving, I would say we rocked it!
Thanks Daisy for this photo. For this show the band included (L-R): Caitlin (vocals), Mark (guitar), Isabella (vocals and tambourine), Me (vocals and tambourine), Rick (keyboard), Chris (guitar and vocals), Britton (bass), Kevin (trumpet), Will (guitar) also not visible Rob (drums) and Dave (saxophone),
As for the band itself, it’s sort of hard to describe our sound, but I suppose the closest description for genre would be psychedelic funky reggae rock with a surf twist. Yah, quite the mouthful! Or someone described it as a mid-60s Greenwich Village vibe. I’m not sure. It’s very unique I think because we all bring very different musical backgrounds. We just play what we like. Over half of our songs are originals and our covers are quite a bit changed.
Caitlin, Chris and I sing
It’s a big group. We started with only about 5 core people this summer but can accordion up to 10-15 depending on availability and season since so many people are here only part of the year. We try to keep to the roots of a jam band with long songs and slow builds. It’s been a fun process and a lot of work practicing to get to this point of playing out.
Under the tent(thanks Robin for most of these photos)
We’re still learning a lot about being a band. It’s like having 5 or 10 boyfriends/girlfriends. Each with unique needs and desires. And communication is key. It has helped me appreciate bands that can stay together for a long time. It’s truly almost like a marriage with a bunch of people. Not to mention that once money is introduced into the equation it changes things a bit.
Thanks to Squid for this video (we had some mic technical difficulties but at least it was a jam song)
We still have a few kinks to work out and we are constantly adjusting and improving, but I can say with certainty that this night was one of the best moments in my life. No matter what happens I can now add “band member/singer” to my resume of things I have been/done in my lifetime. And to be able to do it with Britton and these amazing people just adds to the sweetness. Pretty awesome.
Yah! Get up, get down! We even had an unexpected guitar hero! (photo source: FB)