The Aural Retentive – Vinyl Portraits On Etsy (Made Exclusively From Vinyl Records!)

Well, my vinyl record interest has blossomed into something else altogether.

I bought a scroll saw for a few projects around the house and to make some wooden record racks, and decided to see if I could cut an actual record with it. I had seen this done on YouTube with various tools and techniques and some really incredible results.

It was sort of a natural extension of my lyric portraits. In fact… I started with a picture of Bowie (the Alladin Sane portrait) and began to imagine it cut from vinyl. I had seen lots of people make bigger pieces using the label, but I felt that the label was always distracting. So to avoid using the label, I cut the picture into sections that would fit on just the grooves and the deadwax and not use the label at all. Then I could connect all the pieces to create the final portrait.

My first portrait also had some colored parts and I was able to find some old 45’s in red and blue to create the colored highlights.

David Bowie – Alladin Sane (black red and blue vinyl)


So pretty jagged in some places, but overall I was thrilled with the results.

I immediately went for a bigger project and created a 17 x 20 Kurt Cobain.


I learned some great techniques through some of my fails, and had created a set of about 8 portraits. I posted them on my YouTube channel

the recap video

and got a very positive response from all my VC friends!

Before I knew it I had investigated, built and opened an Etsy store!

Click the link above to sample my store and my latest creations.

Musicians made from music by a music lover for music lovers!

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Vinyl Wave Crashing?

Records are here to stay?


I have seen a definite shift in vinyl sales in most of the locations that I am seeing vinyl being sold. More space is being added for new release records, and records that were in the buck bins are being pulled and are now residing in the “upper racks” with 2 or 3 bucks on them, still cheaper than the nicer used stuff, but marked up nevertheless.

In one store they have almost doubled the record section, added racks at the end of each aisle to display new records and installed a second “high dollar” bin where you will find bootleg copies and original rare items and limited editions.

I am glad that the vinyl is back in the mainstream, I think it is good overall for the collectors like me, but I still worry. As with any market, once there are new dollars to be made, someone will make them.

Kind of like collecting baseball cards. Once there were 5 or 6 versions of a player card. Now you could probably find 50 varieties of a players card. What you once had that was unique and collectible is now diluted with knockoffs, special cards, super sets and all forms of saleable merchandise.

Even stores that stopped selling vinyl YEARS ago are now selling it again.

Would you go to Target to get your latest release?

Target Records

How about Barnes and Nobles?   (this one’s for you Abbey!)

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I fully admit that I am 90% a nostalgia buyer, and 10% a new release buyer, so for many many years I will be digging in the bins of records from decades ago, but if I needed a new release I probably wouldn’t go to a brick and mortar store.

In my opinion the hipsters will get tired of it eventually and then the wave will crash. Every album will not be released in three different version at 3 different prices. I do think that the vinyl album is back to stay though, but if us old collectors wait long enough it will be again like it was when we started collecting. We will collect to get the music and not care so much about getting the red splatter or marbled color version and get back to the good old black.

Same as it ever was.

Same as it ever was.

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The English Beat – High Noon Saloon – 5/12/2016 with Something To Do

Not sure why, but I wrote this after the show but never posted it! So get in your time machine and go back to May. Lol.

I took Cindy to see The English Beat.


This would be the second time I had seen them. I was very excited to be down front for them as the High Noon Saloon is a great down front venue. The crowd is usually pretty mellow there.

We had dinner at The Brass Ring (great food) then wandered over close to show time.

Our friend Adam from work (and the local band State Maps!) was there…

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and we hung out near the front as the opener came onstage. The band was called “Something To Do” and were dressed for the part.

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The pictures are from my phone. My good compact Nikon’s memory card was at home on my desk. DAMN!! So much for worthwhile pictures at this show.

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As it turns out it was of no consequence as we didn’t remain down front.

“Something To Do” was very ska and quite good.  The horns were great and the band was rocking. About the middle of the second song was when the drunken leather coated dancer showed up. There is one in every crowd and usually a smile and firm body stance will go a long way, but this guy wanted to skank and despite being plenty of room, he had a way of working his way up next to me and bumping into me. I doubt he really had any concept that he was doing it, plus he likely just didn’t care who was in his swath. After several incidents I had to back out a bit. He was a confusing mess of throwing the rock horns and wooing and skanking. He kept trying to talk to the band between songs and they largely ignored him. Smart move. At one point during a particularly upbeat song another man in a red shirt off to stage left jumped forward and skanked in a polite and non-threatening way, just dancing to himself, clearly in tune with the music. Drunken leather coat dancer’s mind blew. I could just see him registering “one of my people!” and he immediately went right over to him to make a duo. He was promptly rejected by red shirt guy. So he came back to bother me.

We moved further back as a couple more drunken dancers wormed their way into the front.

“Something To Do” was a pleasant surprise and Cindy even bought their CD “Music For Fine Dining” after the show from the guitarist in the band. Also forgotten that night was my sharpie, so no signature.

Something To Do - Music For Fine Dining_

By the time The English Beat came on we were near the center of the room, but the sound was good and we could see just fine. I tried to get some shots but they came out sad. I need to put a spare mem card in my show kit!

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Dave Wakeling was quick to have some fun at the expense of drunken leather coated dancer, so we had some small revenge.

The show was phenomenal! I am always worried that the first time I see a band that the second time will be a let down, that maybe the first time was a fluke, but I am glad to say that this time, despite being chased out of the front, was perhaps even BETTER.

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They played all the great songs, Dave was chatty, the MC guy with the huge dreads was a riot to watch and got the crowd going and was taking selfies with crowd phones. The vibe was positive and the music was fantastic.

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I have my favorite English Beat songs, but when they played “Save It For Later” I swear I got goose bumps. The sound was just shy of overdrive and the horn guy was wailing! Everything peaked at that very moment. O M G.

Of course they did “Mirror In The Bathroom” and it was great but it was eclipsed by “Save It For Later” in my opinion.

Dave mentioned that they are working on a new album. I didn’t even think about it until now as I’m writing this.. and a quick Google search and… it’s for real! I just pre-ordered the signed vinyl!!!

My head is exploding right now. SO COOL!

Sorry my pictures were so bad. I learned a hard lesson at a great show.
P.S.   Annoying leather coated drunk guys at English Beat shows…

go home, you’re drunk!

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Organizing Records With Records

Record Dividers

I had seen this technique on some YouTube videos and I decided that it would be a perfect use for the scratched, unwanted and abandoned grab bag records that I had accumulated.

I picked up some vinyl letters for cheap and noted by the way when they arrived that they are the VERY SAME letters (packaging and everything) that my father used to use to do the lettering on his model planes. Registration numbers, pilot names etc. were always done in these letters, albeit different sizes and colors.

I still have one of his planes hanging in the garage.

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It was a trip to see that same packaging on the letters I bought. They haven’t changed a bit.

I got white 1 inch letters in block print and as it turned out I had exactly 26 records in a pile to become clocks, or art prints that I have been doing lately.

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I peeled and stuck my way to the full alphabet, although I have no albums starting with X. Here is the whole collection.

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Then I took them to the music room and added them to the shelves. They work great!

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The thing is, at this point I know about where everything is, but that is because I have lots of room and don’t split bands, but when I start getting low on space and everything is squished and not easily spaced, that’s when they will really come in handy.

Pretty cool though for under 10 bucks and some cast off vinyl.

Should I buy an album JUST to use the X divider.


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Beat Chefs and Natty Nation – Breese Stevens Field – 07/19/2016

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This show was mentioned to me by a coworker. I really hadn’t heard about it.

He told me on the Monday before, but how could I not go?! Natty Nation, whom I love and have written about many times, and The Beat Chefs, for whom Brandon Beebe plays guitar. All for free! Yes, free.

Cindy and I braved the heat that night and headed down with bag chairs and my new camera. When we arrived The Beat Chefs were already playing. We went to about the middle of the audience area and parked.

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The field has been through renovations, fresh turf in particular, and they have been having events here for quite a while, but until Steve Miller played I had never really heard of it. They had a stage set up and food vendors and drink carts in a few locations. It was a pretty nice setup. There were people of all types there digging the tunes. It was a nice scene.

The Beat Chefs were jamming as a 3 piece onstage. My new camera works great.





It was cool to hear Brandon playing electric guitar after seeing him play acoustic several times. He was still doing some looping, but this was more of a straight band just grooving it out. We were digging it. Cindy was surprised I think to hear some of the covers they were doing. It was a great time.

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I have seen him play acoustic, now electric, and this fall I will be seeing him play as Prince in a Prince tribute show.

To add to the power trio, after a bit 2 guys joined them onstage to add a brass section. It was a nice collective. Certainly different from the way I am used to seeing Brandon perform.

It was hot, no lie, but there was a bit of breeze and the music was fantastic.


The all too short set was over before I had a chance to go down front and get some closeup shots, but I’ll look for The Beat Chefs again. They were great.

Here are some links for The Beat Chefs:

After a quick stage changeover Natty Nation came onstage.

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Immediately a dancer came down to the front of the stage and unapologetically danced his ass off. He was jumping and moving and in the heat that night probably lost about 10 pounds. He was not bothering anyone, bumping into anyone, or drunkenly shouting at the band, it was nice to see that kind of enthusiasm for the music… although he slowed down and just stayed in one place after a while. Probably exhausted. You go mystery man!

That’s him in the sleeveless gray with water. Dance on man. Dance on.


What can you say about Natty Nation… they are solid and soulful and positive and just a great show always. They of course played songs from their new album and some old classics as well. I love “Cool And Proper”. The vibe was fantastic there that night, the crowd was into it and respectful, the heat that started out crazy hot cooled to a normal and bearable hot, and the sound was great in the Breese Field.

This time I made sure to get down front for some pictures of the band.





I have to say that I was particularly focused on Aaron and the keyboard and dub effects. I am really getting into Dub in a big way. I was not disappointed. I saw him use a bit of siren and echo in the show.


Moog. Nice.

I also tried to get some shots of Jah Boogie really bringing it. Got some great ones.



Love the look. You make the four strings sing man.

Got a nice rock and roll style shot of one of the guitar players too.


Sorry Mr. Drummer man, I didn’t seem to get you in any shots, but your beats were tight. I did not leave you out of the camera roll on purpose. You rocked.

Natty Nation’s set was great that night and confirmed my resolve to see them more often. They are always a pleasure to see perform live.

The moon came up as the sun started to set.


All in all it was a fantastic night of music, despite the potential for face melting heat.

Nice job Madison Parks Foundation!

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Blackhawk Lake – 4th Of July Weekend 2016

Spending the weekend at Blackhawk Lake just outside of Highland Wisconsin camping and boating and fishing.


Caught some nice fish that I threw back the first morning and marveled at the beautiful early morning lake.



The second morning I sat on the end of the Linscheid’s boat in their slip and fished in the shallows. It was 5:30 in the morning and foggy and I decided to listen to music. The perfect selection for early morning fishing?  Grateful Dead’s “Working Man’s Dead”. It was exactly right for the moment. Earthy. It drew the fish in. Caught some small perch after I started playing them.

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To be fair I broke my bobber and was too lazy to walk all the way to the parking lot to replace it. I’ll be back for you next year when you’re bigger!

Then later on the boat out on the lake I broke out the Mad City Music Exchange can coozie that I picked up on Record Store Day this year. I bet this was the first one in Blackhawk Lake.


Forgive the moleman glasses.

Rock Rock Rock!

Have a great 4th weekend everyone!

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Brandon Beebe – Lucky’s Waunakee – June 24 2016 – Part 2

The night of the show Joe and I headed down to Lucky’s, secured a patio table right by the stage, and had some dinner.

Brandon arrived and after he carried all his gear to the small stage I stopped up and introduced myself. He said he recognized me from last years show and thanked me for making the posters. After tuning and adjusting he started right in with some covers.


I kept looking at Joe to give him the “see I told you” face. He was digging it.


Brandon played Taj Mahal, Beatles, James Taylor, and Sam Cooke.

It was cool to see Joe watching the guitar work as Brandon played. I tried to learn guitar myself years and years ago so I could both appreciate the skills and the way that Brandon made it seem so easy and natural. His voice is smooth and the atmosphere there at Lucky’s was like he was playing at a house party in your living room.

After a few songs, he started introducing his looping to the set. Just a little accompaniment on a Ray Lamontagne song “Beg Steal Or Borrow”.

So, not only great guitar, but foot work too to turn on and off the accompaniment.

Then to blow my mind he called me out and thanked me for the poster on mic between songs. It was the culmination of my nerdhood and a proud moment.

I then set in serious with my camera, moving to some different spots to get some different shots.



Then came some John Prine and some Paul Simon on which he used the looping to create a full lush vocal accompaniment using several layers of his voice. It was very cool. It must have taken quite some time to learn and perfect this looping, which he does live right in front of you.

Then he played one he wrote. It was called “I Want You There”. It’s not on his CD, but it was great. Hopefully that one will get recorded.

The sun began setting as he played “Angel From Montgomery”.

The tone of Brandon’s guitar is very smooth and he also played harmonica with a holder around his neck. Generally, it seems like this kind of setup is just to punctuate a song with a new tone and I find it usually seems like a horn in the middle of a great song, but he made it sound like a great compliment to the music with soft tones and very fluid lines.


He did a great “looping tutorial” song where he explained how he works the loops and how he builds a chorus and backing track. The song he did was Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” which featured the Wooden Frog and Cabasa in his looping. He also played the Melodica! The buildup was great and the solo in it was incredible. He made the acoustic sound like an overdriven electric guitar with his pedals. Joey noticed the wah-wah pedal in action and I think he was impressed and surprised by how it could all sound.


It was a lot of rhythm and sound from only one guy on stage. That’s the best part of a Brandon Beebe show!

Then he played “Alright” off of his CD “In This Place”

In This Place

Next up was a cover of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette”.  It was a slow soulful version that really worked. Loved it.

Brandon mentioned that he will be in a Prince tribute show in September, as Prince himself, at The Majestic in September. Mark your calendar and get tickets now!

Purple Veins

After Prince he pulled out Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”. It took me a second to recognize it, definitely a different style on acoustic and slower. It was awesome. Then Bill Wither’s “Ain’t No Sunshine”. There was a lot of soloing in this one and you were reminded that Brandon can really play that thing. Everyone was nodding their heads to the beat that night.

He played Johnny Cash and Paul Simon and Cat Stevens. Then he played “She’s The Moon” off of his CD. The looping in this song I think is the best he does. It’s upbeat and the loops come in and out, stop altogether and crash back in… it’s a great showcase of his looping skills. This song got the ladies on the floor for some dancing.


There was a break for a bit, and Brandon came over and got some bug spray from me. The mosquitos were BRUTAL. Eventually I was sharing it with half the crowd. The little spotlight that he had set up as the sun went down probably didn’t help… created a mosquito runway right to him. The perils of playing outdoors.

He opened the second set with Prince’s “When Doves Cry”. I had seen him do this one before and it’s great. I decided right then to get tickets to the Purple Veins show. See you there!

Then he played some Madonna “Like A Prayer”. It was a rolling fun version that was surprising. Never heard that one acoustic before. He did a great job.

The stage was dark by that time and he had his little light shining.


I requested some more off of his CD and  he played “The Gift” and “Outro”. These have some really great vocals and lyrics and rhythmic guitar that has some tempo breaks. At the end there is a fantastic section that is layers and layers of vocals stacked and flowing in a wonderful wave of sound that really makes you just sway in your seat. Fantastic.


Truly a lot of great sound from just a guy on a rollaway stage.

Next came a request: Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain”. Then Ben Harper’s “Steal My Kisses” mashed up into a song of his own “Wonderlove”, but it’s not on his CD. Come see him live to hear it, it’s great.

Another request came for Paul Simon’s “April Come She Will” and he ended the night with Cat Steven’s “Wild World”. It was a great ending that night.

Afterwards I asked Brandon to sign a copy of my poster and the night was complete. Joey got a copy of his CD and he signed that too.

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If you get a chance to see Brandon at any of his other shows, do. It is a great show!

Check where he is playing next on his site and Facebook page.


Tell him The Aural Retentive sent you!

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