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Monday, October 7, 2013

Putting BlessTree on BandCamp......

and setting up a cozy little domain space complete with music tracks and album covers for your perusal and perhaps even purchase (please do visit us for samples and price listings here: is what's been keeping me extraordinarily busy as of late, preventing me from posting on the blog as often as would have liked. I have so many subjects I'd like to write about, including books, movies, TV shows, music, politics, spring/summer experiences, and my musings on the pros and cons of Ringer-ism. But for now, the focus is computer technology, online businesses, and cooking at a lake house. Allow me to explain.

     As most of you know, my father, along with family and friends, has recorded various musical tracks in recording studios under the band name "BlessTree." Until now, however, we only had two completed CDs fit for the public ear and a handful of half-finished conglomerations from earlier years when I was still a tiny tot. We managed to get some of the finished CDs sold in Catholic gift shops, but it was a mere handful, simply because there wasn't a large enough traffic of people coming in and out. Then my friend “Sasch” helped me considerably by directing me to a site called BandCamp where musical artists can upload recording tracks and sell them online. The concept of uploading the tracks onto the internet really enthused me. So much hard work had gone into our music, and I wanted it to at least get off the ground in the World Wide Web.

    I started off by discovering how to rip music tracks onto my computer. I copied the two completed CDs and then started the work of separating the wheat from the chaff with our unfinished symphonies. I came to appreciate how crisp my dad's voice was back in the day, and did my best to pick the cream of the crop from the songs recorded from 1994 to 2002. The background music was a mixture karaoke recordings and Charlie the elderly organist's well-intentioned but none-too-pleasant pounding. He had served in the navy during WWII, and his hearing was almost nonexistent, causing his playing ability at that late date to follow suite. Hence, I had to make the call that all songs involving Charlie had to go bye-bye, along with any songs involving the off-key yelpings of my 5-year-old former self and those lacking musical accompaniment. Weeding through the remaining karaoke tracks, several over-enunciated or slow-as-molasses vocal tracks from my dad had to be scrapped before I reorganized the remnant and saved it as an album.

    Next came the unfinished or overlooked tracks from later years, involving hymns of Marian devotion. Several songs lagged in pace and lacked proper music, so they were left out of the final draft. But we did manage to come up with enough songs from our two unfinished sets to organize a single album fit to be listened to. With all this done, I headed off to BandCamp and signed up for a domain for BlessTree and then typed out all the names of our tracks. I naively assumed that I would be able to upload the songs easily, but this was not to be the case. Evidently, I needed an adobe file update, and I was able to obtain the program through the skilled hands of my Richard, the brother of my librarian friend, Kat. He successfully downloaded it, along with several anti-virus program and Skype, onto a disc and had it passed onto me through his sister. 

    Unfortunately, I found that each time I tried to run the Adobe download, the connection died. I was beginning to think I might need to bring my comp into a tech shop and plug it into Wi-Fi lest dial-up rob me of my big chance to launch onto BandCamp. Happily, after quite a few failed attempts (Robert de Bruce with his double-bladed-axe and his spider friend hanging on a thread swing again!), I succeeded in my oh-so-tedious mission and found that Adobe could be downloading from home......after some 4 hours of waiting! I charged back to BandCamp, all prepared to download, when a flashing red pop-up sign informed me I was unable to do so because my tracks were in the wrong format. I whined and stomped around in technical despair for a little while, took a few deep breaths, and returned to my station to try and download iTunes, the online musical wonder which claimed to be able to fix the format of my tracks. But lo and behold, iTunes simply refused to even open up for me, no explanation given.

    Needless to say, I slept fitfully that night, bounced up in the morning, and called my other librarian friend, Lisa. She helped me find another program called WavePad Sound Editor that said it could end my format troubles if I could download it. For once, my fortunes improved. The download worked out, I clicked the icon on my desktop, and I was able to walk through the steps on the road to reformatting all the tracks. It was a glorious experience to watch it all going so smoothly. Once again, I returned to BandCamp to upload our products. It was then I realized just how hard that process would be, even if it had moved into the realm of feasibility. Dial-up is simply not the right tool for such a process, and it took some five hours to complete a relatively small upload, leaving my computer overheated and unhappy. We were going to have to do it all at the library. Until then, I finished writing up bios and descriptions and roped some of my friends, from Rachel in Texas to Richard Canada, into running tests with me to see if it was all visible to the public. 

    When we finally got to the library, I was truly in awe over the ease of high-speed! The green loading line on the screen skipped along so merrily, I was actually lulled into a false sense of security and neglected to save after each upload. The result was one of those shocking computer crashes that leaves nothing but a darkened screen and shattered dreams of early completion. I lost six songs, and that time took away from my loading the rest. The library closed early that day, so my dad and I knew we would have to return to complete the project. Still in something of a state of disillusionment with modern technology, high-speed or otherwise, we settled down to split a sub sandwich at a local Italian restaurant and mutter about the plans of mice and men, etc. 

    Putting our collective nose to the grindstone two days later, we returned to the scene of the crash and started to load once again. This time, I refused to me negligent, and made sure to save after every successful upload. Before long, the precaution proved to be a necessary one because the computer crashed again! Fortunately, nothing seemed to have been lost, and we finished all the uploads just in time to shoot out for a long-awaited meeting with Pat the choir director who recently moved out of town to spend his days at a new house in a lake community. We rendezvoused at the backroom of his old studio where are latter albums were made. I must say I felt a wave of déjà vous being back there after having such an intimate connection with our musical past through all the downloading and uploading. 

    We all piled into Mr. Maestro's van and drove off into the sunset towards lake-land. Although we initially didn’t realize just how far-out his new abode was, it proved to be about a 40 minute drive through some very scenic but altogether unfamiliar terrain. Along the way, he offered to pick up a pizza, and we mutually agreed to order one with mushrooms and onions, avoiding meat since it was First Friday. While we waited for the pizza order to be prepared, Pat and I went into a supermarket and purchased a few accessories for the meal. I must say I think I made a rather good "nagging wife" for a day, planning a balanced meal for my dad and uncle-figure including salad, bread, and carrot-cake to go with the pizza! 

     Going back to the pizza place, it was discovered there was a mix-up and our pizza had been given away to another! They offered to replace it with pepperoni, but we specified that we were Catholics and preferred to simply dine on meatless cheese pizza. And so it was we made landing at the lake house with pizza pie and groceries in hand, meandered on the dock overlooking the spacious lake and headed in the house to start to prepare all our goodies into something coherent. Once again in my futuristic "house-wife" mode, I gave the instructions and participated in cutting up the lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, carrots, and mushrooms, sprinkling the conglomeration with cheese and croutons and dousing it with ranch dressing. Then we started getting brilliant and decided to fry some of the leftover mushrooms and onions in butter, put them on our plain pizza with an extra sprinkle of cheese, and stick it back in the oven. When it was brought forth, we were happy to see that the different components were welded to near-perfection. 

    As we said grace and settled down to our feast by candlelight, I suggested that that Pat should pull out his iPad and locate our BandCamp site so we could listen to our music while we ate. He did so and set it at the center of the table, where we had the privilege to hear the music tracks the three of us had worked so hard on. In truth, we were just a little bit proud of ourselves, in a good way. We had put out our all to give glory to God through story and song, and now it was on the internet for the public to access. To make my day complete, we got back home we discovered that my dear friend Kat had successfully uploaded all our album covers for us after having generously offered to do so on her own time. The wheels were finally beginning to turn for BlessTree, and God willing they will continue to turn in a forward direction. 

BlessTree Striking Out........



  1. Good luck with the music stuff! The Internet really is one of the best ways to advertise music stuff nowadays.

    Random aside: I've used WavePad before (very briefly), and it really is a neat little program. I'm curious, though, that iTunes said something about fixing the format of tracks because I've never heard of its being used as a sound editor. Granted, I know it can fix some song formats so they will play properly on MP3 players...maybe that's what it was talking about?

  2. Hello!

    I'm interested in the image you have posted. A couple of years ago I found a full color image of an original manuscript page. I seem to have lost the reference to the manuscript and I've been looking for it everywhere. The image above seems to be a black and white rendition of it. Do you know its origins?

    I'd be exceedingly appreciative!

    Thank you.

  3. @Emerald: It may well have had something to do with MP3 players. I think BandCamp wants the music tracks to be in a format that works for almost any player imaginable! I'm just glad there were other options for ripping CDs out there.

    @kmspublic: My apologies for taking so long to answer your question! Actually, I was just messing around with google images and located it by typing in "Celtic Oak". I know next to nothing about it origins, but I'm sure you'll be able to find more if you repeat my search on google images. I can imagine that your color version must have been most interesting! I love Celtic knot designs!

    God Bless,
    Pearl of Tyburn