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RVelectricity – Just Ask Mike (J.A.M.): How many of you are musicians or singers?

Welcome to my J.A.M. (Just Ask Mike) Session, a weekly column where I answer your basic electrical questions. If you’re a newbie who’s never plugged in a shore power cord (or ask – what’s a shore power cord?), or wonder why your daughter’s hair dryer keeps tripping the circuit breaker, this column is for you. Send your questions to Mike Sokol at mike (at) noshockzone.org with the subject line – JAM. Speaking of jam sessions, how many of you are musicians or singers?


 


Dear Readers,
I would really like to know what percentage of you are musicians and/or singers. The reason for this is that I’m gearing up for some solar-powered jam sessions this summer at a few of the RV shows and rallies where I’ll be teaching. Here’s my gig at the FROG International Rally in Goshen this August.

2022 FROG International Rally
Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds
Goshen, IN
August 14-20, 2022

Am I a musician?

You bet your sweet bippy I am. My mom said I started playing piano by the time I could talk. I played in a ton of bands during the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s using speaker cabinets and amplifiers I designed and built myself.

And, of course, I’m a pretty serious audio engineer. I have thousands of productions under my belt over the last 50 years using sound systems both great and small.

What will I be doing at these shows?

Well, since I have so much solar and battery gear to play with, I’ve been writing a series of articles for ProSoundWeb and Live Sound International Magazine on how bands can play outside gigs far away from an AC outlet.

These are essentially boondocking gigs for beach and woods weddings, parking lot reunions and worship services, and even traditional street busking. Read my ProSoundWeb.com articles here which detail my experiments in battery/solar music power:

  1. Unplugging from AC Part 1
  2. Unplugging from AC Part 2
  3. Unplugging from AC Part 3

What will I be experimenting with?

Well, I’ve just received test Portable/Solar Power Stations from Southwire, as well as Lithium Battery powered speakers from JBL and Fender. Here’s the new battery-powered JBL EON One MK2 which will run from a rechargeable Lithium Battery for 5 hours or more. And that’s one of my music colleagues, Mike Lushbaugh, who used it to play the National Anthem last Saturday out at the airport for hundreds of attendees.

And I’ve also cut down my own keyboard herd from a thousand pounds of Hammond B3 organ with Leslie cabinet, Rhodes Piano, Mini-Moog synthesizer, and an SVT bass amp with double 8×10 cabinets. I’ve replaced everything with a Nord Stage 3 keyboard that weighs 34 pounds. Talk about downsizing!

What’s the gig?

I’m already teaching three RVelectricity™ Master Classes for RV owners at the FROG Rally in Goshen, IN, this August. So I’ve invited my guitarist friend of 40 years, Karl, to come along for the ride. We’ll set up a solar/battery/inverter sound system that will be powered by a Southwire 1100 Portable Power Station and 100-watt solar panel. I’ll also bring along extra electric guitars and bass guitars, another piano/keyboard and some kind of percussion along with shaky toys from the crowd.

So while Karl and I will provide the core of the songs, you’ll be invited to pick up a guitar or percussion toy and play or sing along with us. We’ll feature all the groovy songs from the ’60s and ’70s which I’m sure you already know. But if you don’t play or sing, then just hang out with us and the other musicians. Groupies are welcome…

What else will I be doing?

Well, I’ll also be demonstrating how a Portable Solar Power Station can run a pellet smoker all day while simultaneously keeping a Vitrifrigo refrigerator full of craft beer at exactly 34 degrees F.

And there could be a few other interesting cooking experiments showing the types of things you can cook while boondocking in your RV without starting up the generator. For example, I’m bringing along a vintage electric hot dog cooker that will heat up 6 dogs in 60 seconds. Talk about fast food.

Please take this short survey so I can get a feel for the talent pool
(even if you’re not going to the FROG Rally)

OK, everyone. Remember that electricity (and music) is a useful and powerful force, so we all need to pay attention to safety precautions while using it.

Let’s play safe out there….

Send your questions to me at my new RVelectricity forum here.

Mike Sokol is an electrical and professional sound expert with 50+ years in the industry. His excellent book RV Electrical Safety is available at Amazon.com. For more info on Mike’s qualifications as an electrical expert, click here.

You don’t want to miss Mike’s webcasts on his YouTube channel.

For information on how to support RVelectricity and No~Shock~Zone articles, seminars and videos, please click the I Like Mike Campaign

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Ron Jewell
1 month ago

I still play clarinet in a semi-professional community band. I will take it on the trip this summer to stay in shape and be ready for next fall when I get home. It is, of course, an acoustic instrument, and I don’t need electricity to be heard.

Purple Bob
1 month ago

Hammond B3 and a Leslie, now that’s the sound of Heaven. We were playing at the beach and some surfer-dude asked about those “cool looking glowing things” in our amps. (1965 Fender Pro Reverb and 1964 Vox AC 30 and 1978 Fender Bassman.) He’d never heard of a vacuum tube. We’re just a bunch of old hippies playing fun rock & roll!

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Purple Bob

Far out !

Bill Coady
1 month ago

Actually you don’t have to plug me in. I play an acoustic vintage Ludwig drum kit from the 60’s in a 17-piece big-band/jazz band. Won’t be at Frog so this clarification comment is worth zip. Hope your gig(s) go well. Cheers!

Glenda Alexander
1 month ago

I’m a musician living at Escapees CARE. I play the keyboard every Sunday evening for our non-denominational church service and on Thursdays at an open jam session for any type of music. Occasionally, I play for a memorial. I barely read simple music, so I rely heavily on my ear. Currently, I have a Yamaha keyboard and 3 Native American type flutes (made of PVC pipe). In the olden days, when I lived in a house, I had a Story and Clark piano, Hammond B3 organ, Casio keyboard (one of the first on the market), a 1983 Fender Precision bass (made in USA), a violin and a silver flute. Those are the things (along with umpteen dozen books) that I miss the most since selling my house in 1992. Otherwise, I don’t regret making the move. I have thoroughly enjoyed all my trips in my Lazy Daze motor home. Best wishes for a successful FROG rally!

Steve
1 month ago

I was a FROG member for years, but never went to their Indiana rally. Now I guess I’ll have to see if Winnebago has similar gigs that you’ll be playing in Iowa!

You do know, Mike, that no one under 70 has a clue what Hammond B-3s or Moog synthesizers are!

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Not 100% accurate. The college students where I teach are in awe of my vintage keyboards. In fact the Steinway technician at Shenandoah Conservatory is rebuilding my 1973 Rhodes 73 piano for free, just for the experience and mentoring a student interested in becoming a piano technician. It’s a win/win/win situation.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mike Sokol
Les
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve

Oh contraire, I’m still in my 50s and know exactly what those are. Been a musician most of my life and a pretty good sound engineer too, but nowhere near the expertise of Mr. Sokol.

Richard Hughes
1 month ago

I play bass and have a Pignose amp that I use when in the RV, now TT. When I have a recording session coming up and receive the songs in advance, I like to go camping for a week and practice.

Mike Sokol
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Hughes

We love the Pignose. A little lighter than my original SVT… 🤣🤣🤣

wanderer
1 month ago

Hey Mike, is your poll for all readers or just those going to this event?

I have been surprised at how few musicians seem to be out RVing. Hope you are able to get some to participate.

Larry Bunch
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Sokol

I play guitar and I use a cube battery powered amp. It used flash lite batteries and also can be plugged in to 110 volt.

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