Skyypilot Posts

Rotary Connection

Skyypilot logo

Rotary Connection

Rotary Connection was a relatively obscure band from the 1960s.  Their music was fearless.  They were true recording artists and their unique arrangements took the listeners on a musical trip of sorts.

The Beginning

The beginning of Rotary Connection was as a project of Marshall Chess’  new start-up label-Cadet Concept Records- in 1966.  

The son of Chess Records‘ founder, Leonard Chess, Marshall wanted to produce  psychedelic music, different from the blues and rock that made Chess Records a Chicago mainstay between 1950-1975.   He started the Cadet Concept label and looked for the “hottest, most avant-garde rock guys in Chicago”.   He recruited Charles Stepney (classically-trained vibraphonist-arranger-producer), and three members from local band, The Proper Strangers (Bobby Simms, Mitch Aliotta, and Ken Venegas). Also, Chess songwriter Sidney Barnes, studio musicians guitarist Phil Upchurch and drummer Morris Jennings joined.   Vocalists Judy Hauff and (then-Chess receptionist) Minnie Riperton rounded-out the group.

Their First Album

Their first album,Rotary Connection, was released in 1967.  It featured a sitar and  the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  It was a huge undertaking at the time and went virtually unnoticed.  Art nonetheless.

Psychedelic Blues

In 1968, Rotary Connection’s  Stepney, Jennings, and Upchurch were recruited by Chess to be part of a psychedelic backing for albums for  Chess bluesmen Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf- Electric Mud in 1968 and The Howlin’ Wolf Album in 1969.

It was a bold experiment mixing the then-popular psychedelic music with blues.  It pleased few in the end, but it was a noble effort by Marshall Chess to unite the two forms,


Experimentation was the thing with the Rotary Connection.  They produced five more albums (including a Christmas album), never afraid to try it all.  Their covers of others’ songs were whole different animals.  Unfortunately, radio wouldn’t play this “uncategorizable” band. It was the square peg in round hole thing…

Minnie Riperton

Minnie Riperton’s mind-blowing voice lived in the so-called “whistle register“.  It covered over five octaves.  She used it as another instrument,  soaring way above everything else.  (I thought her  voice  was a Theremin when I first heard it!)  She eventually recorded the hit “Loving You” as a solo artist in 1975.  Here are a few highlights of her whistle-register singing.  Sadly, she developed breast cancer and passed away in 1979. Her amazing voice will always be here for us to enjoy.  (Side-note: Minnie’s daughter is multi-talented Maya Rudolph).


I have an appreciation for true recording artists.  Rotary Connection was a prime example.  They brought their music experiments to life.  There are still folks like us that still remember!  R.I.P.

© 2018  J. Mark Witters

Walk Away

Skyypilot logo

Walk Away

Walk Away” is the last movement of the “Outlier Suite” from the new Skyypilot “Outlier” album (soon to be released).   I have released it as a single from that album.  Download or stream “Walk Away” now from your favorite music source.  It would be greatly appreciated!

Now, the “Outlier Suite”  has been in the works since March 2018.  It is now August, and I have completed it, along with its video.

What’s It About?

So, what’s it about, anyway?  I’ve seen music homogenization over the years, and it’s painful (and boring) to hear.  As listeners, we are continually being channeled into specific camps.  Guess what?  There ARE some of us who like more than one type of music (including undefined) in an album.

I spent many years trying to mold my music into what I thought might be acceptable to others.  This goal is unattainable if you play by “their” rules. 


Social media will play you for a sucker while they sell your data AND take your money.  You’ll still live in a digital wasteland, abandoned by the algorithm of the moment if you are a certain demographic.  You might still feel good because you might have a huge fake audience giving you a huge fake play count, but why go through all of that? 

Be yourself.

Walk Away!

The Lyrics

Here are the lyrics for “Walk Away”:

Walk Away                       © 2018 J. Mark Witters

Outside the main influence sphere, censored and smeared.
I’m invisible here.
Funneled through a pre-opproved path,
A gauntlet of wrath in a volume of gaffes.

No one listens, so simply walk away, walk away.
Turn your back and simply walk away, walk away.

Outside, I’ve been looking in, locked away from the din.
Left alone with my sin.
Quarantined for what I might say, what I might play,
Better keep me at bay.

The unimagined lie in store for me.
An outlier I will always be.

Outside, nothing’s holding you down  since you’re branded “a clown”
Making “un-sanctioned” sounds.
Imagination carries the day; keeps you out of the fray.
Matters not what they say.

The unimagined lie in store for me.
An outlier I will always be.

Outside, I’m not pressured by rules,  unaffected by fools,
Unfazed by “cool”.
Unafraid to forge on ahead in wherever I’m led.
No one’s in my stead.

No one listens, so simply walk away, walk away.
Turn your back and simply walk away, walk away.

Walk away from contention
Walk away from convention.
Walk away from indoctrination.
Walk away from idolization.
Walk away from expectation.
Walk away from division.
Walk away from indecision.
Walk away from evil.
Walk away from darkness.
Walk away from hatred.
Walk away from violence.
Walk away from envy.
Walk away from falsehoods.
Walk away from ignorance.
Walk away from defeat.
Walk away from revenge.
Walk away from emotion.
Walk away into light.

Please Yourself

“You can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself” is a line from “Garden Party” (written and recorded by Rick Nelson in 1972).  How true!

I simply walked away…  A happy man.

© 2018  J. Mark Witters  


The Outlier Saga

Skyypilot logo

The Outlier Saga…

The Outlier saga begins in March, 2018.  I had retired from a job I had for thirty years to devote more time for music and video pursuits.  I scrapped my web hosting service, began learning WordPress, set up a new website, fired YouTube, Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn, learned a new video editor (Filmora),  began a blog, and just walked away from anything that I could not support.  Also, we began a two month home renovation, so it was a very transitional time,  indeed.

Now What?

Now, we began by getting a  couple of sounds together…  I chose Waverazor to get a bass we can drop in when needed.  Then, I added a couple more sounds using Waverazor (again) and Syntronik.  SampleTank 3 is a VST I often use, and this time is no exception.  These plugins are made by Ik Multimedia.  I chose a 16 instruments-worth of sounds that I think might work.  My philosophy is simple- use a lot of instruments for small stretches.   If I’m bored, you’ll be bored, right?

I needed to have a title track for my new album-“Outlier”, so now what?  First, I had to shove away the clutter by getting the Skyypilot website back up, start a blog, switch my video host to Vimeo, learn  Filmora (for editing my videos), and began to use some new, essential Waves plugins.

Let the Music Begin!

After choosing 87 bpm (beats per minute), let’s let the music begin!  I just started out on Waverazor and got sounds for the two tracks that those two instances occupy.  Then, I picked a sound that Syntronik would trigger.  These samples are from vintage synthesizers, so that’s always interesting.  Putting old sounds with new is a good thing for we short-attention span folks!  No instrument is totally set in stone at any point (in my view).

OK, now I let the recording roll along and sparsely fill the space with sounds and little themes that I attempt to stitch together.  After starting and stopping for about 8:37,  I decide to end the free-form with a little rock.

I  put a rhythm and two slide electric guitar parts through Amplitube 4, another fine Ik Multimedia product for guitar and bass processing.  You can completely change any guitar tone AFTER the recording-invaluable!

I decided the bass parts would be shared with a sample from Ethno 2 , Waverazor, and Waves’ Codex.

Get a Groove Going

Time to get a groove going on the Outlier saga…  I put together midi loops from Waveform 9,  DrumCore 4, and various odds and ends.  Usually, I have a couple of different-sounding midi kits that blend together.  I selected drum kits in DrumCore 4 and one of in previously chosen SampleTank 3 instruments.

Now, I put my simple blues guitar theme on it- two slide and one rhythm guitar.  Next, I added a simple bass part, trading with a Waverazor instrument track.  I filled in a couple of chord progressions with SampleTank 3 instruments and percussion from Waveform 9.  

Taking Shape

This song is taking shape.  Next, I wrote  the lyrics to rock section- “Walk Away”.  After singing along a few times, I have a melody in a framework.

The end has a call and response thing going on.  I decided to be the three piece one-man chorus, so there you go…

The Choices…

All the choices we have in audio plugins are staggering.  I use mainly Waves and IK Multimedia plugins, but I’ll describe these and the others more in depth as my blog slogs on…  You have to “fish or cut bait” at some point, and live with your choices.

I’m finishing up this 16:30 monstrosity soon…

To be continued,,,

© 2018 J. Mark Witters