Skyypilot Posts

Free Speech

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Free Speech

Free speech is protected in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  This is vital to our society.  Being an artist, one can see things all around you affecting your work.

The PC (politically correct) police are everywhere and will stop at nothing to reign in any view they disagree with.  If you run a social network or search engine, turn things over to your AI (artificial intelligence) algorithm, and it’ll clean up anything it can label “hate speech”, “racism”, “misogyny”, whatever…  YOU only have “free speech” if you share that platform’s views; if you don’t, you’re shouting in a barrel, suspended, or even banned.  

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa was one of the great 20th century composers.  His work encompassed everything from symphonic to rock to jazz to experimental.  He was an equal-opportunity offender who poked fun  at everyone (including himself).

Zappa upset many people because he believed in free expression, as did many young people in the 1960’s.  Frank was my biggest musical influence because of his fearlessness.  Here is a great documentary on his work.

The man knew how to push your buttons so you might actually think about things.  What a concept!  Music is ultimately communication, and Frank Zappa could certainly communicate.  Listen to his work if you aren’t afraid to be challenged.  

Sadly, Frank Zappa would not be allowed a platform today because he would offend someone at any time, and the mob wouldn’t let him survive.  It is especially dangerous to have an active individual thought process.  Let the “Central Scrutinizer” do ALL your thinking…  NOT!  (see Joe’s Garage if you’re not easily offended).  It deals with the government criminalizing music!  Don’t laugh…  Remember disco?

Joe’s Garage IS a tough three album set to get through, but my favorite Zappa album remains “One Size Fits All“.

Frogs in a Pot

We have been like frogs in a pot of water, slowly bringing it to a boil.  No one realizes the water until it’s too late to hop out.  There is always a way to parse anything into anything so that it can fit your agenda.  You’ll never know until it happens, but they’ll eventually come for you, too when it’s politically expedient.

Whatever word or phrase that anyone finds offensive will ultimately go away.  Soon, books will be banned and the flow of information will be completely choked-off.  Your “handlers” will then decide what you should and shouldn’t see from then on. 

It’s being done as we speak.  Your freedom of  speech is on the line. 

Speak out!

©2018  J. Mark Witters

Outlier Album Release

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Outlier Album Release

I’m pleased to announce the “Outlier” album release.  After doing this for forty-six (or so) years, I am finally starting to figure this stuff out!

Due to the advancement of quality audio plugins,  your average person has access to advanced tools available only to a select few up to now.


Thanks to Waves plugins, I’m on a level playing field.  No, this is not a paid endorsement.  I started using them a year or so ago, and they  make all the difference in sonics.  They have given me a warehouse full of vintage audio equipment for a bargain because I’ve taken advantage of their great sales that are always happening.  

Waves also has many great online manuals and tutorials that explain each plugin.  I’m a typical “get in there and start turning knobs” kind of guy, but I need all the help I can get, so it’s there for us!

The Beatles‘ music  (produced by George Martin) has had enormous influence on my music.  Now, I actually have software of the exact studios they used in Abbey Road Studios  (called EMI  studios back in the day), complete with their first solid state console channel strip, TG-12345.  I even have older Redd channel strips from earlier studios there if I want an even more vintage sound.   Rich analog sound is available  with a  J-37 (the Studer recorder used in Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band).  Double-tracking originated with the Abbey Road ADT (artificial double tracking).  I have the plugin.  The reverb plates and Studio 2’s Echo chamber are right there for me, too.  I essentially have  what The Beatles (Abbey Road) and Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon) used on the epic albums  afore-mentioned.  This way of recording with computer and plugins has been described as being “in the box”.

The Deal

Here’s the deal:  Outlier’s message is simple-either succumb to fear or forge ahead boldly.

Like many others, I entered social media expecting freedom of speech.  Evidence shows that is sadly not the case.  After a couple of minor “rufflings” with I’ll call “the major players”,  I decided to not continue to be funneled into their imposed obscurity because of my beliefs and Walk Away.  I’m the Outlier… I’m the counter-culture.

Outlier” features lots of twists and turns.  It doesn’t fit in a particular category.  That’s the point- not wanting to be like everyone else.  I especially don’t want to bore myself!

Videos for all the music are on the Skyypilot Vimeo page.  The videos are free to download! 

I don’t tour because the studio is my instrument of choice.  If you like what you hear, please support what I do by downloading or streaming my compositions from your favorite online source.

Hope you enjoy “Outlier“!



© 2018 J. Mark Witters

Rotary Connection

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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