Geoff Groberg

Snippets from Small Time Bluegrass

These are excerpts from a documentary I made in 2005 about playing in a small bluegrass band.

Mormon Artist interview

I was interviewed about my music for Mormon Artist (web magazine). Read the interview here.

BYU Folk Dance tour 1996

“You know Cecilie I’m just calling because you are a friend of mine and I want to tell you that you have a pretzel in your ear.”

I was digging through some old video tapes and found this, from 1996. I took a video camera with me when I toured with the International BYU Folk Dance Ensemble. I was musician and I had the time of my life traveling around on a bus in Scandinavia with a bunch of college students.

I apologize in advance that not everyone from the tour is represented equally here. But I hope this brings back some good memories. I had forgotten a few things and it made me laugh out loud more than once.

Nebo Loop

Skipped work on a rainy morning.
Strapped a video camera to the front of my truck.
Drove the Nebo Loop.

Created in 2004, I think.

Koosharem

Koosharem is a place in Utah. It’s out-of-the-way. I don’t even know if it qualifies as a town. In fact, I’m willing to entertain the idea that it’s not a real place, but just a distant memory or a dream.

MegWed_453

On September 6, 2008 we loaded Trent’s SUV with banjos, mandolins, and other instruments and drove to Koosharem for a wedding gig. It was outdoors, in the middle of nowhere– the kind of gig that reminds me why I love bluegrass. There were 5 of us crammed in the SUV and we listened to music and talked as we traveled thru small towns.

Our band name was Miles To Go, a fitting name. Traveling is one of the blessings of bluegrass. Here are some more:

  1. Tons of super good barbecue.
  2. No one cares if you actually know how to play.
  3. You get fantastic ideas for how to put on a beautiful, memorable wedding.

We followed hand-made signs. Some of them made us laugh. They led us down dirt roads and eventually to the wedding site: an open field in the middle of ranch-country. Food was prepared while we set up our sound equipment. There were strings of paper lanterns, wood crates, and coke bottle vases filled with wild flowers. Glass jars with tealight candles hung from an old tree. And on the ground in front of us there was a makeshift wooden dance floor.

It seemed like the perfect place at the perfect time. The mountains were in silhouette as the setting sun turned everything to gold. We breathed the early autumn air as the sun disappeared completely and the sky filled with stars.

MegWed_573We played traditional tunes while people visited and danced. I remember Cassie and the bride sang Blackbird. I remember realizing too late that the arrangement I knew wasn’t standard and would probably throw them off. I also remember that we had to play for longer than normal, which meant we got to try out a bunch of songs that weren’t quite ready. Tamilisa improvised on mandolin while I tried out my newly discovered classical-steel-string-banjo-guitar and sang, “One morning, one morning, one morning in May.”

We ate dinner on a picnic table in darkness, away from the lights. That’s the best way to eat barbecue, when you can’t see what’s on your plate. You just dish spoonfuls of bean/corn/spare rib surprise into your mouth: wave upon wave of sweetened tomato sauce deliciousness.

Thinking about Koosharem makes me hungry and nostalgic. I’ll probably never have a reason to return. But I do have a souvenir to help me remember. It’s a drink holder that says “Eat, Drink, and be Married! Rickenbach Ranch, Koosharem, Utah, USA.”


Pictured above, Miles To Go (in 2008) was Geoff Groberg, Tamilisa Wood (now Miner), Cassie Singley (now Gadd), Trent McCausland, Hillary Barlow (now Harris). All the beautiful photos in this post were taken by ?, the wedding photographer.

I redesigned the blog, again. I’m trying to simplify. Also, Goudy Oldstyle is cool.

What’s your favorite instrument? A truck.

A very short video snippet featuring Isaac and Mark Geslison.

The road to Lund, Nevada

In October 2012 we had a bluegrass gig in Lund, Nevada. What? You’ve never heard of Lund?! It’s a tiny town in the middle of a desert. The drive there can be spectacular.

A few fellow travelers on this fun road trip…

Arizona Road Trip

Unbelievable scenery on our way to a family reunion in Arizona…

Final Limit


Final Limit is an audio effects processing plugin. It’s a “limiter” designed to be the final element in your signal chain. It brings the overall volume up, without distorting. (Unless you want a bit of distortion, which it also provides.) I created the plugin using SonicBirth.

How it works

The main slider increases the gain of the input signal which is then processed with a compression algorithm I designed. Any leftover peaks are attenuated using a shaper function curve. There are also options for EQ, attack and release characteristics, and maximum output level.

The user interface is inspired by an old Ensoniq synth I used to own. I avoided naming the limiter’s attack and release characteristics with technical numbers and labels (like milliseconds). Instead the controls are labelled with fun/zany titles like “Dog Slow” and “Burnt Toast.” They sound funny, but the idea is that they actually describe the sound better than a label like “80ms.” The UI was also designed with the idea of minimizing visual feedback. All too often audio engineers make adjustments based on what they see (like the curve of an EQ) instead of what they actually hear.

You can download it here. It runs on OS X as an AudioUnits plugin, but unfortunately it is 32 bit only because sonic birth doesn’t allow exporting 64 bit plugins. It won’t run in hosts that are 64 bit applications.