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?
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.
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:
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?
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.
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