Stanley Hammer Singer Part Two

        Since I came up with the Stanley Hammer vocal harmony method in Moose Dooley’s garage, I have expanded the concept to other venues.  For example, when we were in the studio, I fixated on a set of blinds that covered a window on the far side of the room.  I picked out several of the dividers as reference points and cut my baritone part by the intervals between the blinds. 

        Whenever we play a show I will focus on something in the distance, such as a set of bleachers, and concentrate on predetermined focal points to find my pitch.  I guess it is an obsessive doctor way of doing things, but it works, though I am no great singer by any stretch.

        However, as I mentioned in my last post, the method can have its pitfalls, and it did let me down once.  One time we played the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention competition.  It was the year after we cut our record, so we were on top of our game.  After the first round, the rumor mill was we were in the top five.  The buzz around the campsites was that Neuse River might just win the thing.

        We picked a gospel number for our second selection.  It was Doyle Lawson’s ‘Sea of Life.’  If you have ever been to the Galax Fiddler’s convention you know there is big concrete grandstand where folks sit and watch the bands on the stage.  It was an excellent set up for the Stanley Hammer method.  All I had to do was focus on the steps.  In particular a handrail that divided the concrete stairway was perfect, and I set my notes all up and down the handrail.

        All that went fine until the second chorus.  Moose looked over and knew I was in a panic.  He leaned away from his mic.  “What’s wrong, Doc?”

      “Look at row twelve.  That’s my Stanley Hammer note.  Those kids have gotta move.”  Moose looked up in the stands.  Two kids had been walking holding hands and stopped at at my B natural note, leaned on the rail right at the spot that served as my focal point, and began to make out.

        “Oh, no.  Man, I can’t find my note.  Dang it kids, move for heaven’s sake.”

        Well, they didn’t take their clothes off or anything, but it still was a distraction.  Sure enough I was flat on my opening note when we came back in.  We finished 12th.

        I was dejected, but Moose was philosophical.  “Don’t worry Doc.  We weren’t gonna give up our days jobs.  It’s just a thing.”

        Of course Moose was right.  I’m still a Doc, and I got over the loss pretty quick.  I don’t know what happened to those two teenagers.  They wrecked my gig, but I forgave ‘em, and hope they lived happily ever after.  It was the only time the Stanley Hammer method has failed me, so it still has a good track record.

Dr. B

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6 Comments on “Stanley Hammer Singer Part Two”

  1. Billy Says:

    I don’t know if you know what you are doing when you write visual scenes like that but it is amazing how you showed me abstract truth with this visual.

    After I read it I kept seeing of all the ways it could “translate” to problems that I have: trying to make a delivery date, trying to write a poem late at night and even trying to explain to myself why my wife thinks the way she does.

    A genius writer knows they want to transfer a universal truth to a reader. I don’t know if you realize how universal true your voice is.


  2. Ruined by the loving gropes of two teenagers! Disgraceful behavior indeed. Those danged kids! :P
    The method’s drawback is that it does depend on your vision not being obstructed by anything, but other than that it sounds like a sound and perfect method.

  3. drtombibey Says:

    Billy,

    I appreciate the kind words. To me the two bedrocks of Southern Literature are the King James and Mark Twain. Mark Twain was a genius. I knew Mark Twain, and I am no Mark Twain, but I’ll keep on trying to be like him.

    Of course no one is up to the level of the King James. We just all have to keep doing our best.

    Dr. B

  4. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. slightly,

    Oh well, I was young at one time, so I guess I better not be too hard on them.

    You touched on a interesting point. Maybe I should work on taking line of sight out of the equation. I could make my back up plan to close my eyes. Of course, then I might think my Marfar and I are young again, and wreck my concentration a different way. Even though we are old she is still cute.

    Dr. B

  5. Cindy Carter Says:

    Doc, you need a back up plan! You never know when someone is going to “raise” the blinds or move into your field of vision. At that time, close your eyes and “see it” with your mind’s eye. Obviously, you have stared at these focal points enough to have them in your head.

    I get this picture of Wile E Coyote when he leaves the piano for the Road Runner to play and if the bird gets the musical notes right, a anvil will smash it. Well, you know what happens, the bird hits the note above or below but not the right note. And, of course old Wile E pushes it out the way and hits the right note. Those kids were doing that to you.

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Ms Cindy,

    You’re right. The thought of those blinds going up while singing in the studio is a nightmare. I can just hear the notes going sharp.

    Over the years, my concentration has gotten better, so I am not sure I would still be as distracted, but it is always best to have a plan, and a back-up plan.

    That poor old Coyote always came up one note short huh?

    Dr. B


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