Madman's Diaries OM12 Footnotes - The Ballad Of Hollis Brown Final Dry Run

Well now the official video has been posted, here guess its time to roll out the old dry run rehearsals, of which I have a selection for you this time around.

More than one you ask ? A long story as always, so stick the kettle on. :coffee:

So as I said at the OM I started working on this back in 2016 when I had just started the old IM course. Could not work out why the heck it sounded pants, until one of our old regulars @stitch pointed out it was in Double Drop D tuning (never heard of it !!) and also kindly tabbed out the reference video I’d been following, which was free from explanatory notes, just some geezer playing very very slowly. Anyway after a while I was able to play it but back in those days the thought of singing and playing was a distant pipe dream.

Coming out of Open Mic XI (11 / eleven :wink: ) and having been singing and playing for almost two years, I decided that this song would be the one for the next OM.

Getting the lyrics to match up with the riff style pattern proved a bit of a challenge but I finally sussed it out. Then came the dilemma, which acoustic to use. So 10 days before showtime and reasonably comfortable with the song I did a Dry Run on all three, then whizzed them over to my daughter via YouTube, to see what her preference was.

Optional viewing for you folks though but Mr @Durquhart may appreciate !

So the starter was my “new” Takamine GD30CE

I had to get hold of a Bill Hicks Capo for the Tak as the other 2 I had did not sit well with the radius.

followed by my Fender T-Bucket with a new set of 13s on

and lastly my ancient Encore W265 which I’ve had since the late '90 (1990s not 1890s !!)

Anyway after a couple of day the kid advised Fender. Hmmph !! So I said the Tak sounded better, so after another day or so of “discussions” she gave up arguing with this stubborn old fool. See what you think. Great all sorted, churn it out once a day for a week and good to go for kick off.

Then messing around with OBS one day I noticed a new audio input option, to capture application audio. So I immediately thought that will be handy for backing tracks. So decided to fire up EZDrummer2 on the PC desktop and generally mess around with samples and surprisingly capturing the sound on the OBS video. Cushty !!

So the plan was to park that for a future day/project but scrolling through the EZD2 samples stumbled on a set called Rebel Rock - old peeps here will remember the old Studio slogan - how could I resist. Tinkered around a little, thought of Hollis Brown and what old Mr Zimmerman might have thought and then hatched a mischievous plan for the Open Mic.

Out with vanilla and in with If Dylan Went Down To Dixie (The Ballad Of Hollis Brown)
trouble was, it was a grin a minute drum track and proved hard not to play the song without a crazy smile on my face, especially given the subject matter. Anyway the plan was “that will do nicely”.

The downside was when I went to check the recording levels in Zoom, I found the drums were coming a few milliseconds out of sync with me and the Tak, so for the show it was back to Plan A, which was actually Plan D after all the acoustic juggling.

So after much messing around trying to resolve the drum issue, I gave up a couple of hours before the show and decided it would have to be Plan D after all and plain old vanilla circa '64. Just in case anything went astray with the comms I decided to do one final Dry Run as per OM set up, with all inclusive IEDs and my usual titfer !

Come show time, a good time was had by all.

And the moral of this oh so long tale ? Never give up on your dreams, always keep that song you wanted to play close to hand and close to your heart. Oh and don’t p!$$ around with new technology the week before your next gig !!

See you on the flipside peeps.



only had time to watch the last video. Good job on both the guitar and vocals it’s not easy keeping a steady rhythm while singing. :beers:

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Haha, I came here for the drums as promised and you try to lure me into quintuplets! :rofl:
Good stuff :smiley: (but I’ll save the others for a rainy day)

I know you have a whole gaggle of guitars and basses, as well as your fancy IT suite, but I think this could use a little ‘banjo’ :laughing:

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there is one in the loft, with K2 style action, been around about the same time I got the Encore. One day u hu u hu :rofl:

That’s the one to watch, thanks for those tabs way back when !

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Nicely done Toby, I had a listen to all of them and was a bit shocked by the first 3; I expected your Tak to sound good but not your old Encore to not be far behind it!
I think that the middle one with the drums in wasn’t really the right idea but at the end you nailed it! Excellent in every way :+1::+1::+1:

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Hey Toby,
Good to see you with a Tackaminie in your hand! I have the Bruce Springsteen special and I love it. Very nice guitar for sure. Yours sounds great as I took in your last offering. Good steady play there and vox to boot. A lot to like on this one!

Now if I could just get my bedroom studio to sound like your cave, I would be all set!

All the best,

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Yeah the old boy surprised me tone wise. It had also been treated to new 12s but I swapped out the brass Bright Tone pins and put the original ones back in which I suspect are plastic. Its always had a nice rounded tone but preferred the “earthiness” of the Takamine for a classic Dylan doom and gloom song ! And yes the drums proved an interesting distraction but listening to both again, I agree the more original version was much better.

Thanks for reviewing all the videos Darrell, much appreciated.


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Ha the studio is pretty much a solid concrete box with thin MDF type panelling. I think the reverb on the audio interface was the greater factor but there is bound to be some frequency bounce especially using the condenser. At leat it didn’t pick up the freezer in the garage behind me, as my old Behringer Con Mic used to !!! Great old happy song from Dylan and a joy to play but hard work on the thumb. Actually did try a thumb pick to start with but it was a little too loud for the mic and I still can’t get a good tone from the pre-amp when I jack either the Tak or the Fender in. Need to faff a bit more with the Helicon Play Acoustic guitar set up, which was getting there but a little too late for me to be happy at the Open Mic. One for the future.

Thanks for listening bud!


Hi Toby. I’ve just listened to all these versions and thought they were all great although perhaps the drum track one less so. Your OM version was terrific. Well done.

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Thank you Gordon. In hindsight the drum backing introduced a little to much frivolity and I doubt there was much of that out in the dust bowls during the depression. Had to be careful with the analogies on this one, as the world is definitely cyclic. I am glad the OM version came across well, I think its my least snafu’ed performance to date and the adrenaline always raises the game a little. You’ll have to try it one day :wink:

Was thinking of you and Eric, as I just poured a wee dram of Jura, first malt I have had in a long time.


Nice collection of acoustics there Toby :smile: was om12 the first time you played acoustic rather than one of your electrics?

You made the right choice ditching the drums :+1: really enjoyed your performance the other night.

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That was a really great set Toby, wow you put some serious hours into the practice and kit selection! I listened to all the guitars and recordings and I must say Tok sounds great but I really dug Encore too! Fender was good as well but bit behind those two specimens :slight_smile:

As for the drums I thought it completely changed the mood of the song, but at the same time I think it was a bit catchy! If you performed during the night with it and we wouldn’t see you doing it pretty much undrummed we would all still very much enjoy it, or at least I would :grinning: great stuff Toby!

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Thanks David, they’re a little out numbered but surface now and then. Most of the OMs have been one sort of electric or another but the Takamine was getting its 2nd outing, as I used it for OM 9 when I covered Bad Company’s Do Right By Your Woman but it was a bit rushed.
With hindsight I am with you on the drum front, glad you enjoyed !


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Great vocals. I like the rhythm, and the bass note walk that you added on the last track added some nice variation. One of my favorite Dylan songs. Thanks for sharing!

Thanks for listen Benji

Your comment on the walkdown intrigues me.

This is an integral part of the riff and is played at the end of each line before the cycle starts again. It was played in each of the 5 recordings but your ears were intimating it was something new on the last track, was that what you meant ?

I ask because I had a fairly consistent position of the mic for all of the recordings, so wonder why it would jump out on the last one or not the others. Something I can possibly learn from for future set ups ?

Thx again.


Must have missed this when replying to David !

You could say playing this off an on for 6 1/2 years, serious practice hours :rofl: but to be honest the biggest issue was syncing the vocals, which took me a week to sus out but not 24x7 for sure !! After that I just rotated around the acoustic stable over two evenings but could not decide, hence recording all three 10 days before the show. At that stage I felt fully prepared and wonder why the usual problems had not appear, so heading into the week before the show I was totally relaxed, a first and just played it twice an night before the drum experiment. And yes its a catchy beat sample on EZD, would have worked on the night as most folk would not have know the song but glad I did not use it after all. Thx for the listen.

On the EZDrummer2 front, should anyone be interested the sample was
Vintage Rock>Slow Tempo Rock>Rebel Music Grove 01 > Groovevariation04
and the set was The Drum Kit From Hell - Soft Beat

I nearly used Americana > Mid Tempo Straight 4 > Amtrak DBL Time the verse of which has a chugging locomotive beat. I could not play straight faced at all with that and it made the song irreverent given the last verse ! So keeping that in the pocket for another day !


Hi Toby,
:sunglasses: :clap: :bouquet:
I listened to one without drums and with the drums very good…the rest was in the background while I was still reading and driving,…I liked it very much , :sunglasses:also the one with the drums… if only for a change of the first 3. :grin:…I liked it…and I like your daughter too, of course, that can’t be otherwise if she is the reason this is now written…


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Whoah Toby! That was great ! Loved it all, your playing was superb and the vocals were excellent! Seriously good stuff and thanks for sharing! :sunglasses:

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Not sure why I didn’t notice it on the first recording. You didn’t change anything with your guitar play?