December 14, 2014

Semeron Gig Recap: Two acoustic benefit shows

We have wanted to play an acoustic show for years now, and this past weekend we had the opportunity to play two. The last acoustic show that Semeron played was in 2009 before I was even in the band. We are hoping this kicks off what we’re calling Semeron’s Winter Acoustic Vagabond Tour!


Semeron live at Wild Tymes in St. Paul.

Semeron live at Wild Tymes in St. Paul.

First up was a Friday night benefit gig for the non-profit S.O.B.E.R. Foundation (Solving Obstacles By Empowering Recovery) at Wild Tymes in St. Paul. Opening for us was the band Family Feedbag. They were a solid cover band & a bunch of nice dudes despite being lawyers. (please don’t sue)


Set List for both gigs.

Set List for both gigs.

Shchedryk/Carol of the Bells: Given that Santa was attending this gig, we felt compelled to open with some holiday music. Our cover was inspired by a solo guitar arrangement by Dylan Schorer.

Days at the Depot: We brought out this classic from Semeron’s first album because it sounds awesome in the acoustic format. As Jeff says, “It’s a simpler song from a simpler time.”

No Excuses: Alice in Chains is a huge influence for us, and we’ve been jamming on this song forever. It was a blast to play live.

Cannonball: This was the 2nd time the band has played this new song live, & it will likely be included on our next album. If you can tell me what piece the opening chord progression was inspired by, I’ll pay you $20.

Frank the Monster: We didn’t plan an encore, so we pulled out Frank. Although we’d never played this one acousticly, it turned out to be one of the best performances of the night.


Craig Peterson benefit

Benefit for Craig Peterson’s battle against cancer.

Our Saturday night gig was another benefit, this time for Craig Peterson, a young Navy veteran who is battling pancreatic cancer. Craig serves in the same reserve unit as my brother Mark, so we were more than happy to help raise funds for Craig’s medical expenses.

We had a few logistical hiccups when we arrived to set up. There was a giant aircraft carrier cake right in the middle of the stage area. Just like real life, it took a team of sailors to move it out of the way.

aircraft carrier cake

U.S.S. Get In My Belly


Adam's meatballs

While Jeff handles the vocals on Days at the Depot, Adam takes a meatball break.

We worked off of the same set list as Friday night, but dropped both Ship of Fools (too minor for this event) and Trees (for time). We did get to work in some fun jams as we played around the fundraising events. I finally got to play St. Jon’s Wart (a country rag by my college guitar instructor, Jon Finn ) live all the way through. At one point Jesse started playing a groove similar to Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song which we all picked up immediately & pretty much vamped on an F# minor chord. Kids, practice your improvisation if you ever plan to play live events.

Craig’s benefit was a big success with 500 confirmed people throughout the course of the night, and they raised upwards of 15k-20k.


Playing our first acoustic show in 5 years meant a big shift in our gear. For both gigs, JR played his Taylor GS5, and I dusted off my Godin Multiac ACS Slim SA. We both plugged into direct boxes for the first gig at Wild Tymes. Normally, I don’t like playing direct as it takes the control for my sound out of my hands, but we were trying to keep it simple that night.

At the VFW, we played through smaller amps we had so as not to overpower the crowd, but everything still sounded great. For bass, Jeff used his normal setup as none of us own a quality acoustic bass. Jesse played his usual kit, but with hot sticks to reign in the thunder of his usual playing.

Overall, we’re happy with how our music translated to the acoustic style & we’re going to book more acoustic gigs this winter. Local breweries, we’re looking at you.

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March 18, 2014

Shredding with Semeron: Guitar Riff Contest

Learn one of our riffs, record yourself playing it and post it online for a chance to win free tickets to our March 22nd show at the Fine Line or a Semeron t-shirt! Entries should be posted by March 22nd & videos are most welcome. SHRED!



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March 17, 2014

The Semeron Job

Behold! A Semeron original film! “The Semeron Job”.

See what the critics are raving about! Rated PG-13 for some language, action, mature subject matter.



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March 14, 2014

Hey bands, put down that backing track!

A treatise on backing tracks

 If you are in a rock band, and you’re playing to backing tracks while playing live… you’re doing it wrong. Way wrong.

This may ruffle some feathers, but this has bothered me for some time now, and is becoming disturbingly more common in the local scene.  If you’ve been to a live show recently, I’m sure you’ve heard it, whether you’re aware of it or not.  How are there 3 sets of vocals coming through, and only one guys singing?  I heard a melodic guitar part, but the guitarists are just playing power chords?  Wha?

How and why did this trend start?  When I hear a backing being played on stage, I immediately think two things: one, this band is not capable (or unwilling to put in the effort) of playing their own music live, two, this song must really stink.

Good songs should be able to stand on their own, without all the studio fluff.  If it can’t, and you really need that harmony part, or that dub-step backing beat, FIGURE OUT HOW TO PLAY IT!  Recompose, add another player, do something…anything.

Backing tracks also kill the spontaneity of a live performance; the best part about music!  I love watching live shows because you never know what’s going to happen.  Will the band screw up?  Will they add something interesting?  Turn that favorite metal song of yours into a soft ballad, pump up that acoustic interlude into something skull crushing?
No no no!

The moment you hit play on that backing track, you’re locked in.  There’s no deviation, there’s no surprises.  I’ve got a better idea, how about you guys just stand on stage and just let the album play from your iPod.  If you’re looking for perfection, it won’t get any more perfect than the studio album right?  Just stand on stage while we, the fans, watch, and listen to those 80 layers of pristine guitar tone with 5 double-double tracked and auto-tuned vocals.

The best musical moments occur when something random happens.  Something that showcases the talent of the musicians on stage, highlighting their ability to adapt and you know…make music.  Music is intended to relay feelings and ideas to the listener and when it becomes mechanical, it just looks so phony and plastic.

“But our music is so complex and layered, all those tracks add to the dynamic!” Go listen to some live Queen performances and get back to me.  Those guys adapted all their songs to sound amazing live (and flawless to boot).

As a fan though, I don’t need perfection; I just want a little effort.

So to answer my first question, who did this trend start?  I don’t know, I’m sure there’s a complex answer there somewhere; about the corporatization of modern music, short attention span of listeners, etc. etc

Meh, the short answer?  I blame Linkin Park.


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January 20, 2014

We’re baaaaaack!

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