I play the guitar, and sing. Sometimes I do both at the same time. I'm what you would call a Renaissance Man.

The Song

“Solitary Man” was written by Neil Diamond. The reason I know this is because my mom listened to Neil Diamond growing up. In fact, there may, or may not, be a picture that exist that features a very young NickelNDime in his pajamas, serenading his stuffed animal to, “You Don't Bring me Flowers.”

Yes, it happened.

Having this much exposure to Neil Diamond's catalog, I was well aware of, “Solitary Man” but never thought or cared that much of it. That was until I heard Johnny Cash's version. Around the late 90's early 2000's, Cash released a series of albums known as the American recordings. These albums featured Cash covering well known songs and that's where I heard the version that I fell in love with. Recently, I was listening to Cash's version and the intro lick on guitar caught my attention.

I wanted to figure it out and play it but I ran into a little problem. Every video or guitar website I looked at had the intro lick inaccurate or just completely wrong. So, I had to go through the task of figuring it out note for note. Expect a guitar lesson on the intro and chords very shortly after this blog.

Once I figured it out, I would play along with the Johnny Cash version. As I played along with it, I thought to myself, Man, this would be fun to record and make my own version of it. My only reservation to this is when I would try to sing low like Johnny Cash, I would sound like a prepubescent boy trying to sound like his nugs had dropped.

*Actual picture of me trying to sing like Johnny Cash.

Enter Tom

As I came to the conclusion that maybe I wouldn't be able to sing it the way I wanted it to sound, I began looking for other solutions. It was around this time that I discovered Tom's Cinnamon channel, particularly this video. Eureka! I thought to myself, I'm sure Tom will want to sing on this cover even though I've never talked to him before. Nick- you, my friend, are a genius!

That night, as I lay in bed in my jammies, self doubt started to creep in...

Inner Voice: Psst...

NickelNdime: Who's that?

IV: It's your inner voice here to bring you some self doubt. Nice to see you again.

NickelNDime: Oh raspberries, not you again!

IV: So, I understand you want to ask a complete stranger to sing on your rhythm track. Have you considered that he might laugh at you, because well... come on.


*Grace rolled over*

Grace: Nick, it is three in the morning, who the heck are you talking to?

NickelNDime: Never mind babe, go back to sleep. Stupid inner voice, getting me in dutch with the Mrs.

The next day I contacted Tom on social media and he expressed interest in working with me on this project. After a couple days he laid down the vocals to my rhythm track using the Choirless application, designed by this guy. It was sounding good but it was still missing something...

Enter James

I've known James for over twenty years. We both taught guitar out of a small music shop a long time ago. Correction, I taught guitar, and James taught: guitar, bass, mandolin, beginner piano, etc... James is one of those musicians that is just a gifted player, and to top it off, he's a humble person. That goes a long way in my book. We actually played a couple gigs back in the day. One that comes to mind, is when we played with a retired boxer. (Story coming soon!) I also hired him to play at my wedding reception:

If you didn't have bluegrass musicians at your wedding, then I'm not surprised if your marriage ended in divorce.

If you're asking yourself, “Wait Nick, you didn't play at your own wedding?” Here you go...

One of the few pictures of me without my hat. I have to wear it at all times or ladies cannot control themselves when they are around me. Blast these rugged good looks!

Worlds Collide!

One of the reasons I also liked working on this project was because it was the first project that I used people that I've met in person, and people that I've met over the internet or in the Cinnamon and Coil community. Although I was hesitant when I threw it together, I was extremely happy with the results. Take a listen!

Seeing as this went better than I expected, my plan is to get more musicians that I know, and more people in the Cinnamon and Coil community, together and see what I can throw together! I already have some ideas.

Thanks again to Tom and James for lending their talents to this project. Oh, and Matt for writing software to make this all possible.

Take it easy, but take it!

NickelNDime out!

With a subscription to Coil, not only can you read below this line, but you'll also be able to unlock a ton of creative content.


Did I get you to click? Good, that was my intention. I'm going to go over a renovation I did in my home and why some would call it a million dollar renovation. First, let's talk about what I did. You see, my wife and I purchased our home a little under ten years ago, and when we first purchased it, the carpet was not brand new, but in good condition.

Zoe is, and always has been, a pretty, pretty princess.

That was ten years ago, and after five animals and two little toddlers, the carpet now looks like this.

Keep in mind the above pictures are after I had steam cleaned it. The carpet got to the point where I would clean it, and it would still look awful. That's when I decided enough was enough. My home, like all the other homes in my neighborhood, were constructed with hardwood floors. The main reason I've been holding off on redoing my floors is because I was afraid of what I would discover under the carpets.

Let me explain.

The man we purchased this home from did all of the 'repairs' or renovations himself. His name was Dale. I remember his name because every time I go to do a home remolding project I discover some of Dale's wonderful handiwork.

For example when I renovated the office, I had to remove the stone paneling (Yes, he had stone paneling) only to reveal wallpaper. Damn you Dale, I thought to myself. Why did you cover up the wallpaper with paneling? The answer for my question waited for me when I removed the wallpaper and discovered a massive hole in the wall. This was not an, 'Oops I accidently fell and my hand went through the wall' hole, but an, 'I cut a massive hole looking for buried treasure' kind of hole.

There are so many discoveries I have made over the years. So whenever I start a home project, I will curse Dale under my breath.

Another reason for putting off the floors was the time it would take to do. Like I said earlier, we have two kids, and I've refinished hardwood floors when I worked for my brothers' construction company. It takes a lot of work with sanding, staining, then finishing. It's a good week before you can even step foot on the floors.

That's when the lightbulb went off.

This would be a fair depiction on the number of great thoughts I've had.

I'll hire a floor company while I take my family on vacation!

Once I decided that this was going to happen, I took a construction knife, and cut out a piece of carpet. I did this for three reasons:

1 – Once a piece was cut out, that's it- we've committed to it.

2 – I could assess the state of the hardwood to know what I would be dealing with.

3 – Surprise the Misses when she got home from work.

I pealed back the part of the carpet in the living room and this is what I discovered...

Damn it Dale, I thought to myself. You covered up a bunch of pet stains, didn't you? If you're about to ask how did I know it was Dale's pets and not my pets that left the stains? Well, because the padding in between the carpet and hardwood floor was not stained, and if my pets ever had an accident it was cleaned up immediately and not, you know... carpeted over like a savage would do.

There was another little gift Dale left for me on the floor... *nails*.

Lots and lots of nails.

A lot of people who install carpet over hard wood will put a nail down here or there to stop the squeaking, but this was all over the place! The only conclusion I could come up with was Dale would relieve his stress by driving nails into the floor after a hard day of home repairs.

I called a couple places to get quotes and the price I was getting from contractors was $4500 to $5500 for a crew to come in pull out the carpet, sand, stain, and finish. I was starting to think I made a huge mistake pulling up a portion of the carpet until I contacted one company. It was a two man crew and they both owned the company. They came out looked at the floor and quoted me $4000.00.

“What if I pull the carpet out myself?”



I spent the next month, cutting sections of carpet out, and moving everything on my upper floor, into the basement. This may not seem like a problem, but anyone with two children under 4 will agree this can be a daunting task.

Somehow I managed to finish in time for our family vacation. The morning of our vacation the house looked like this.

We went on our vacation and returned to this...

There was just one more problem.

That night as the four of us slept on a sectional downstairs, I asked Grace if she liked the floors.

“I do, but...”

“But what?”

“I hate the wall color, I can't stand the peanut butter and jelly wall color.”

I was completely shocked when those words came out of her mouth. “I hate the wall color, too! I never said nothing because I thought you liked it! Well, let's paint it.”

“Are you sure?”

“We've got to be down here for two more weeks while the floor finish hardens upstairs.”

So, I began to paint on the days we both had off, or after the kids went to sleep.

I didn't think my back was so attractive, but I can't take my eyes off those shoulder blades.

I don't know how Dexter had time to do this every week.

I've still got to paint the closet doors, and replace the outlets, and vents, but I think it looks pretty good!

Emmett has taken quite a few spills adjusting to the smoothness of the wood floor.

Wait, you said this was a million dollar renovation, yet this was nowhere close to a million dollar renovation... Why are you a liar, Nick? -The reader that is reading this right now

The reason it's a million dollar renovation is because of how I financed it. You see, I sold 20k in XRP when it was at .30usd to finance the floors, paint, and go on vacation. I've been told many times over that 20k in XRP is going to be worth a lot of money someday, well maybe, but I have my own views on that. In the subscriber section I'll go over my theory on why I chose to sell that much of my investment.

Join me for our next “Million Dollar Renovation” when I cover redoing my basement!

Basement flood from two years ago.

Don't let the grainy picture deceive you. That's not water...

Take it easy, but take it!

NickelNDime out!

For just a subscription to Coil you can read below this line. It's pretty cool below this line.


Dear MAGA Boomers,

I've been putting this conversation off as long as possible because I really don't like conflict. Quite a few of you are my relatives, neighbors, and friends whom I care about. However, I just have to ask:

Was it worth it to hitch your ride to the Trump Train?

Before you blurt out a confident, “YOU BET YOUR ASS IT WAS! 'MERICA!!!” I just want to go over some topics that maybe you'll read. I'll try not to litter this letter with stats and facts because you've chosen 'Feels' over, 'Reals' when it came to getting news. The right wing media was great at telling you what you wanted to hear, not what was really happening.

It's so biased that Fox's lawyers argued in court that you can't believe anything Tucker Carlson says on his show, and that it is for entertainment purposes only.

It's called confirmation bias, and it's a real big problem... especially with MAGA Boomers. I will leave links that support my concepts throughout my blog. Feel free to click on them if you like, or just keep watching right wing media if you prefer. The latter has made you a peach of a person to be around.

This letter is to congratulate you on consistently selling out future generations, and then yelling at them for being lazy. You were the first generation in the history of our nation to do that. Each generation that came before wanted a better future for the next generation, but not you guys... nope. If you want some reading material on this, here you go:

You're a generation that as a whole used all the advantages that social programs and unions provided, to climb up the economic ladder, then turned around, burned that ladder to the ground, and then had the audacity to ask future generations, “WHY AREN'T YOU SUCCEDING? IT MUST BE BECAUSE YOU'RE LAZY!!!” Rather than acknowledge the clear data that states that it is much more difficult for Gen Xs or Millennials to attain the wealth or standard of living you enjoyed (who are way more skilled and productive than you) it was easier to call all of us, lazy. Here are so more data points:

Well, your greediness and selfishness might finally have cost you. You've repeatedly voted people into office that want to destroy the very safety nets which your parents put in place, and many of you rely on.

Social Security and Medicaid

Before you shout in all caps, “THEY AIN'T TOUCHING MY SOCIAL SECURTITY! I PAID INTO IT!!!”

Yes. Yes they are, and you voted these people in.

If you're still shouting that, then you clearly don't understand how social security works. Your parents started social security to help their parents, so there is always a one generation gap. The generation paying into it is paying for the previous generation.

Just so you know, it's not just Trump's tactic. Republicans have been using this tactic for 40 years now.

Here's trickle-down economics in a nutshell:

Cut taxes massively for the rich, claiming it will generate so much capital that corporations will hire more people, which they never do. They just use that money to buy back their own stocks and artificially drive the price of their company up. Next, promise that with all this extra capital there will be so much GDP growth that the tax cut will pay for itself, which it never does, thus making the debt and deficit go bananas.

Spend like drunken sailors making the deficit (remember, Trump's Tax plan made the deficit balloon before the pandemic) go out of control. It's amazing that fiscal conservatives don't really care about fiscal responsibility when they are in power...

Last, they change the argument that the reason we have a deficit is because of entitlements. It's astonishing that it continues to work over and over.

This last tax cut, which plunged us into a massive deficit to benefit the 1%, was the equivalent of me taking all the equity from my home, withdrawing my life savings, maxing my credit cards, and giving all of it to the richest person I could think of.

“No no, you need it more, Mr. Bezos, I don't mind paying a 200k medical debt.” – An old NickelNDime trying to help the plight of the oligarch.

Don't worry, if a Democrat takes office, the Republicans will start to worry about the debt and deficit, and insist we have to cut a bunch of safety nets.

Eliminating the Payroll Tax

I'm okay with not paying the payroll tax if you're okay with giving up your Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. That's what I can't fathom. Why would you vote for a man that would take away something that was yours, just as you started to collect on it?

Even if you're a boomer who doesn't rely on SS, ask yourself this. How much is private insurance going to cost without your Medicaid or Medicare subsides, or if they roll back the ACA (Obama Care)? Imagine trying to get coverage after accumulating a lifetime's worth of pre-existing conditions. By the way, 'pre-existing medical conditions' is just an American term. In other countries it's just known as, your 'medical history.'

I don't care how much you've saved your entire life, you'd burn through a lifesavings if you didn't have subsides of some sort in retirement. There's a reason medical debt is always in the top three reasons for bankruptcy in the United States. Can you imagine what it would be if we didn't have what little protection we currently have?

You were sheep, you elected a wolf, and as the wolf ate your face, you shouted, “HEY! AT LEAST HE DID WHAT HE SAID HE WAS GOING TO DO!!!”

“It's okay, he won't eat **my** face. **I've** got a MAGA sign on my lawn.”


Let's get over this notion that we're going to stop paying taxes. The more important conversation is, “What is our tax dollars going towards?”

“Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.” In some respects, a “civilized society” is the rationale for government in the first place. – Oliver Wendell Holmes, former Justice of the United States

Look, I'm not saying Biden is a saint, or the Democrats are some champion of the people. I believe the people should push him as far to the left if he's elected. Keep in mind, placed on a policy scale, Biden is still right of the center. That's how bananas this government has gotten.

Was he my first choice?



Not really.

He could've been my 200th choice for all it matters, because out of the 200,948,641 people eligible to run for President in the United States, Donald J Trump comes in dead last for my pick to run this nation.

It's not even close MAGA boomers, and you know it. Just please don't act shocked when the wolf is eating your face off.

If you really think it is, then I don't believe you're being honest with yourself.

NickelNDime Out!


When boomer parents used to tell us, “This is going to hurt you more than it hurts me,” I didn't realize what they really meant was they were going to destroy the economy three times, make college unaffordable, and make home ownership such an unrealistic goal to attain.


Trump once claimed that he could shoot someone on 5th avenue and get away with it, I'd like to add another thing he could do. Trump could take a poop in the mouths' of MAGA people, and they'd smile as long as liberals had to smell it.

Part 1

The next morning, I got up early to fly the drone. Because I flew the drone straight upwards the night before, I felt like I was ready for more advanced maneuvers. As the drone went behind the cabin, I figured my piloting skills were good enough to use the video the drone relayed to my phone to fly it, in and out of the trees...

I think you can see where this is going. Below is the second and final video of the drone. It's titled, “The Drone's Final Voyage.”

After letting out a child-like yelp, I ran over to the crashed drone and assed the damage

One of the propellers was broken and some of the others were chipped. The LED light was busted off and the motor underneath looked pretty banged up. I tried to initiate take off to see if it would fly. Three of the propellers started turning, but the damaged one wouldn't. The drone lifted off the ground, but then would crash. It reminded me of a wounded bird trying to fly.

I yelled out a very loud cuss word. The one that starts with a, “F” and ends with a “K.” Grace and the kids rushed outside to discover what the commotion was all about. Grace looked at me holding the broken drone in my hands.

”...Everything okay?”

“Great, although I think we may owe my brother four hundred dollars.”

No matter how great a relationship is, there's always an annoyance when one feels like they are not being heard. Grace had voiced her reservations about borrowing my brother's drone and camera for this vacation and I had assured her that I would take the best care of it. I expected her to go in the, I told you so routine, but she didn't. Instead she replied in a very understanding tone.

“Well, let's not let it ruin the vacation? It's only money, and who knows, maybe you can fix it?”

There is something about being on vacations in nature that makes people take a step back and evaluate what is really important. I realized that she is trying to display how grown ups handle problems as an example for our children.

“Yeah, when I get a signal on the my phone I'll look up some videos to see if it is fixable.”

“Are you gonna come in and fix one of your, 'PB Breakfasts' for us?” The “PB” stands for Paul Bunyan. For those who don't know who that is, he's this guy.

The fence is there to not let Paul or Babe The Blue Ox out. Really smart thinking on the care taker's part.

“Sure thing, be right in.”

This really set the tone for the entire vacation, which was a life saver. In my opinion, the whole purpose of a vacation is to relax and clear your mind. That can be rather difficult when one is stressing over problems.

I went back in the cabin and cooked the family up eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, and toast aka, the 'PB Breakfast.' After the family filled up on protein and carbs, we all got dressed to hike the trail behind the cabin.

How awesome to have a nature trail from your own back yard?

Before we walked across the bridge, Grace pulled out an orange hunting vest. She motioned for me to put this on.

“What is this?” I asked puzzled.

“A hunting vest. The lady who owns the cabin informed me it's hunting season, and if we hike the trails, it would be best for at least one of us to wear it.”

I grabbed the vest and put in on as we crossed the bridge. It wasn't long before I came to the conclusion that it wasn't necessary. After about twenty minutes on the trail, Desmond informed us that he was done with hiking and wanted to go home in a very loud voice. After awhile I started to feel bad for any hunters in the forest because I could picture them in their deer blinds trying to be quiet, and hearing a four year shouting through the forest, “OKAY.... IT'S TIME TO GO BACK TO THE CABIN!!!” It took awhile to calm him down, and start to take in the scenery...

When Desmond finally calmed down, we asked him what he was so scared about.

“Monsters and skeletons.”

“Dez,” I replied, “There are no monsters or skeletons in this forest. I checked on the map, it specifically stated there are no monsters or skeletons in this forest.”

“No monsters or skeletons gonna get me?”

“Not a chance, big guy,” I assured him.

Sometimes I honestly believe I wronged someone in a previous life because I'm convinced karma likes trolling me. No sooner I spoke those words that we took a few more steps and came up upon this...

Now, I really haven't discussed death with my four year old, and I sure haven't talked to him about how we handle our dead

...but he knew what the crosses meant.

“SKELETONS!” He squeaked out, and then he shot me a look as if to say, I will never trust you again father.

“What are these doing in the middle of a trail?” Grace asked.

“You know I'm not up on my Mesick, MI folklore, but I believe Donald McClish survived out in these woods during a frigid winter by carving a shelter in a tree while he was a teenager. He also befriended a peregrine falcon who he named Frightful.”


“Nothing, that was the plot to, 'My Side of the Mountain,' I have no idea who Donald McClish was, but now I'm creeped out as well.”

As the rain started to drizzle down, we made our way back to the cabin. The weather was mostly gray and rainy for the rest of the trip, but we didn't let it dampen our moods. That night for instance, when the kids went to bed, I snuck out to the gazebo and recorded these two songs:

This is how greatness must look like from other people's viewpoint.

Slip Sliding Away (Paul Simon Cover)

I had never played this song before, nor tried to learn it before recording it. It was all from memory, so my apologies if I hit a wrong chord. There was no internet so I had to recall the melody and lyrics from memory.

My favorite verse is the 2nd, the one that starts with, “I know a woman...”


Storybook Love (Princess Bride Theme)

A couple weeks back, John did a series about the greatest movie of the 80's. It was such an enjoyable series; I hope he does another one in the near future. Anyway, he did a video at the end and said his favorite movie was, “The Princess Bride.” If I must confess, I had an obsession with this movie growing up as well. I rented it so many times from the video store that I wore out their copy.

On my first date ever, I replied with the words, “As you wish” when my date asked me, “What are we doing tonight?”

...there was no 2nd date.

You get the idea.

The rest of the vacation was spent with hikes during the day, and family time during the evenings. One day we did a long hike that went through a dense forest that opened up to a beach on Lake Michigan. It was such a wonderful vacation that if you're ever looking for a great nature/family/meditative getaway, I'd strongly recommend this cabin.

NickelNDime out!

Coil subscribers get additional content below this line. I'm not overselling it, but below this line is the greatest content on the internet...



Okay, I know it's been a minute since I've written, but I've been super busy for the past month. My wife and I decided to refinish the floors of the entire house (blog on that exciting project coming soon!) The problem we ran into was we couldn't stay in our home while the floors were being stained and finished. That's when I got the great idea that we should take a vacation while the floors were redone. Grace was thrilled with the idea of moving everything off the main floor into the basement, and having complete strangers in our house while we were on vacation. After we made the decision to do it, we just had one question left...

Where To?

Seeing as my vacation planning privileges' had been permanently revoked, my wife found a little cabin in the Manistee National Forest. It resided in a little town called Mesick, MI. We booked the cabin for six days, and seven nights. Even booking the cabin for an entire week, it was still very reasonably priced. Once we clicked the confirm button, my wife let out a little sigh.

“What's wrong?” I inquired being the wonderful observant husband that I am.

“Oh nothing. It's just that our camera is so dated, and both of our phones really don't take great pictures... It would just be nice to get some great photos of this family vacation.”

That's when I got another brilliant idea.

Enter the Bird

This is my brother Jay...

I used the most flattering picture I have of him.

Growing up his nickname was, 'Jaybird.' Somehow, over the years, the 'Jay' part fell off, and now he just goes by, 'Bird.' The Bird never married, and as such, he buys himself a lot of toys. Two of his toys are these:

If you're wondering why I used a stock picture of the camera it's because I forgot to take a picture of the actual camera. Okay, It wasn't that I forgot, I kept asking myself “How can I get the camera to take a picture of itself?” I don't want to tell you how long I pondered this.

and also this...

The Spark Drone

When I asked him if I could borrow the drone and the camera, he was quick to agree to the camera, but the drone on the other hand needed to a little more convincing. He inquired if I had any aviation skills whatsoever. That was only fair, so I got my resume together and texted it to him.

He immediately agreed after seeing my impressive resume.

The Drive Up

It was a three and a half hour drive, plus an extra hour for a pitstop for food and to let the kids run around.

Yeah, you're probably pretty jealous your state doesn't look like a mitten, huh?

As we got off the exit to Mesick, my wife and I both lost cellphone service.

“I anticipated this happening. That's why I printed out the directions as well,” my wife said, as she opened the glove compartment and pulled out the directions.

That's right everybody, she's got beauty and brains!

Each road we turned onto was more remote than the last. Cement roads became gravel, which then became dirt. At last, we turned onto the street the house was on. It didn't take very long to see the cabin.

From the moment my eyes saw the cabin, a calmness washed over me. There was something special about this place. We quickly got unpacked, and got familiar with our surroundings. The cabin had a cozy and warm feel to it.

The lady we rented the cabin from seemed to be a very eco-friendly and meditative person. Why do I make this assumption? Well, there were lots of books on meditation and Buddha statues throughout the property, so there was that. Also, one of the notes she left said that when she stayed at the cabin, she tried to make as little of a carbon footprint as possible, and if it wasn't to much of a request, that all guests tried to do the same. There was a compost pile for organic waste, and all the firewood was claimed from deceased trees. I could tell the owner of this cabin was not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

The cabin even had an enclosed gazebo that overlooked the creek.

As my wife and I peered out of the gazebo into the forest she whispered, “How deep does the forest go?”

“I don't know, but I think I can find out.” I replied and walked back in the cabin, grabbed the drone, and set it up outside.

“Do you know how to fly that?”

“How hard can it be?”

I turned the drone on and it quickly took off. Grace, Desmond, and myself huddled over the controllers as Emmett got a lay of the land.

Once I got a handle on how to fly it and use it to capture photos and video, I took this baby as high as it could go (400ft/121.92m). I was amazed at just how remote from civilization we were.

It was such a blast just taking the drone up and down. There is a GPS tracking on the drone that if it flies too far away it will return to the controller, but I didn't feel like testing that feature out. After about a half hour of just going up and down with the drone, Grace said she was going to do some grocery shopping for us.

The Local Cuisine

Now, when I'm on vacation, I'll try any food that is native to the people, but I have to admit this is the first time I took a hard pass at trying the regional food. While Grace was grocery shopping she sent me this text, and my gag reflex kicked in when I saw this...

For those who've always wanted the zangy taste of Mircle (That's how they spelled it on the container) Whip, Bologna, and relish, but don't like the hassle of chewing.

“Absolutely not.” I texted her back.

“Come on, it will be funny!”

“Babe, if you bring that back to the cabin, I'll consult a divorce lawyer upon returning home.”

“You're no fun.”

“Love you, too.”

When Grace returned, thankfully she did not have the bologna spread. She picked up enough food to last us for the week. It was at this point that I had to cook my customary NickelNDime Vacation Steak (another blog post soon). I'll save the details for my next blog, but here are some shots of the magnificent steak:

If you're asking yourself would Nick be foolish enough to put his brother's very expensive camera close to the intense heat of the charcoal grill just to get a cool shot? The answer is, “Yes, yes he would.”

It was at this time the rain started. First a little drizzle with some light, breezy wind. Before we knew it, the rain turned into a torrential downpour with the wind picking up, blowing the trees in the forest back and forth... when suddenly our power went out. It was freezing cold outside and the temperature was dropping quickly so Grace texted the owner of the cabin and was informed we needed to get the wood burning stove up and going now because there's no telling when the power would be restored.

Now, the pressure was on. I had to finish cooking my vacation steak AND get a fire roaring in the wood burning stove. As I flipped the steak once more, I grabbed a bunch of wood from the side of the garage and hauled it to the cabin. Now, since the owner of this cabin was eco friendly, there was no lighter fluid for the wood burning stove. There was just pine needles and pine cones to start the fire. We're screwed, I thought. I put a bunch of pine needles and cones in the stove, followed by the salvaged wood and lit a match.

I never had a fire start faster.

Once the fire was up and running, I ran out and grabbed my steak and ate it by candlelight.

As I bit down on the steak by candlelight, and as the rain and thunder banged down, I couldn't help but smile.

This is gonna be a great vacation!

Stay tuned for the second installment of Meditate in Mesick, MI!

NickelNDime out!

Coil subscribers get additional content below this line. I'm not overselling it, but below this line is the greatest content on the internet...




Being someone that records both sound and video for my music, it can be quite daunting at times to record multiple tracks. Syncing both multiple sound tracks and multiple video tracks is enough to make me, NickelNDime, start having anxiety attacks! That's not to mention how much space projects will take up on your own system. For example, the project I did with Catera took up 300 gigs on my local solid state hard drive. After mixing each track, saving them, and putting them in another program, copy after copy is made. Is that a lot? Well, if I were to do four projects the same size, that would be over a terabyte of information. I don't want to age myself, but I can remember my father blowing his top if I installed too many games on our family's 8mb hard drive. Yeah, you're probably thinking, Wow NickelNdime is talking about how old he is. This guy really knows what readers want to read about.

What can I say, I've got my finger on the pulse of what is cool. I try not to brag about it.

*Everyone's natural response when I finish being humble about myself.


Doing audio and video with multiple people or instruments can get extremely overwhelming, especially if you don't have a lot of time to spend when you just want to lay down a song. If only there was an easier way to record a song with multiple tracks...

Don't fret! There's software that is in development called “Choirless” by this guy, and it could be revolutionary in terms of recording multiple live takes and putting them all together.

Here's the login screen. This is where you would login and what have you...

What's the Big Deal?

What makes Choirless so great and have such potential is its ability to make what can be a complex task, and simplify it. Every aspect of recording multi audio and video music tracks and then putting them together is streamlined. Once you create an account, you are taken to your Dashboard.

This is my Dashboard. Your Dashboard will look different because you're not me.

From there you can create or manage a choir that your working on. Think of choirs as separate projects that you can invite anyone to. You could be managing a choir with three people that's a bluegrass trio, while simultaneously mange an A cappella choir with thirty singers.

Here are some examples:

This has gotta good groove...

This is 308 bagpipers... bagpiping?

Here's me taking a crack at some flatpickin'

There are so many possibilities with this software! Not only as a way to throw down some music but this could also be used as a great teaching/learning tool for musicians. Someone learning an instrument could, for example, record a rhythm track, then go back and try to record the lead on top of it. That's just one idea I had off the top of my head, you don't have to thank me. Choirless, I'm just doing ya a solid.

Fist bump Matt!

Only Choirless members enrolled in the Premium membership are eligible for the super rings. How premium you ask? Well, let's just say I'm the only one that has a special ring, and Choirless never gave it to me...


...pretty premium.


What could be Improved?

When I asked Matt if I could write an article on this software, he said, “Be as honest as you want.” which I respect. While I see the promise in this project there are some items that could be improved upon.

Syncing Issues

The first track a user records becomes the lead track. All other tracks sync up to that track. I noticed when I played back the tracks I record they were not in time or sync. I messaged Matt and demanded that he fix it immediately. He knows how much weight I pull...

“It would be a shame if I were to give your software a negative review. You do realize that I have 250 combined followers from all my social media?” -NickelNDime, having to flex his muscles.

All joking aside, Matt synced up the two tracks. As much as I appreciate the first rate customer service, this could be problematic as the user base grows. It would be really great if the software got the tracks close, and then the conductor could adjust the tracks manually.

Mixing and Audio

As of right now, there's not an option to modify the audio in any way. I've never met a musician who didn't want to play around with the recording in some way. Basic options such as volume, EQ, and some simple effects are almost a must in recording software.

On a side note, Choirless kept using my camera microphone instead of my condenser microphone. I had to disable all other microphones for Choirless to use the condenser microphone. In fairness, that could be user error... I consume a ton of edibles.

Video Quality and Options

I noticed the video quality on my video was a little pixelated. I don't know if that has to do with uploading the video, streaming it, or whatever. It would also be nice to be able to adjust brightness, contrast, and saturation.

There should be a default button to create a track with NickelNDime

I can't believe there isn't already a function for this...

Bringing it all back home.

If I recall correctly, Matt submitted this for IBM's Call for Code Grant and came in 2nd place! That's a pretty impressive accomplishment considering they received 6,500 submissions from 28 different countries. Well done, Matt! Hopefully he submits this project for GftW if/when they do another round. Until then, it will be Matt and two of his co-workers working on this project in their spare time.

If you're a musician or are learning how to play, record, or do any multi-tracking, I strongly recommend trying out this software. This software will work for just about anyone, from a beginning novice trying to record two basic tracks, all the way to recording the entire Soweto Gospel Choir, who is trying out the software as we speak!

Be sure to check it out!

NickelNDime out!

#ChallengesByCin – #JustTheTwoOfUs

Recently, I've been doing a guitar tutorial on how to play, “Blackbird” on the Coil and Cinnamon platforms when I realized, I haven't played an example of this song. Usually when I'm showing a student how to play a song, I'll play the whole song through so they get a sense of the structure of the song. It's also a chance to show how I'm a bad ass rockstar to my students...

“Yeah, I don't like to brag, but I've played gigs that were on a school night, kid.” NickelNDime recalling his rock and roll exploits to a captured audience.

When I realized my error, I got to recording it right away! There was only one problem: I didn't like how my vocals sounded on this piece. It wasn't that they sounded bad, I just envisioned a female's voice over what I was playing. That was when I decided to take a stab in the dark and ask Catera if she would sing vocals on my track.

If you guys don't know Catera, check out her Coil blogs and Cinnamon videos when you get a chance. She is an extremely talented actress, and she's even performed in a couple musicals.

I recorded the guitar track even before I contacted her. My thought process was, why ask someone to collaborate with you when you don't have anything to collaborate on? It didn't take me long to record it because I've played it so many times over the years. As soon as I finished recording, I uploaded it and reached out to Catera.

To my excitement, she was on board with joining me on this project!

There was just one little problem: she asked me to change the key of the song to B flat.

When she made the request, I handled it as well as the cool cat, and well functioning adult below...

“Who does she think she is, making a request like this from the great NickelNDime?” NickelNDime's totally cool, calm and collected reaction.


Typically this wouldn't be a problem for someone as smart and talented as myself, but having played, “Blackbird” one way for so many years, I kept making simple mistakes. I knew I could get it, if I had time, which I didn't have much of. That's when I decided to cheat... just a little.

The recording software that I use is Ableton, and it has an amazing feature, key shift or pitch shift. I tend to stay away from shifting keys in software, because it always turns out sounding digitized. Seeing as this wouldn't be used as the end product, just something Catera could practice singing over, I wasn't too concerned. When she finished the vocals, I could rerecord my guitar in the proper key without using pitch shift. When I opened up the project, I was surprised to discover how easy it was to change the key of the project.

In the original key


Here's the same track with the key shifted:

After I got the song to her in the key she requested, I sat back and waited...

Oh and I smashed my finger.

This was seconds after I slammed my finger in a sliding door. If you're asking, “Did he cry?” The answer is yes, yes I did.

This is relevant because my plan to rerecord the altered guitar track once I got the vocals back from Catera was now compromised. Even though it was the smallest finger on my right hand, which isn't even used for finger picking, the pain made it virtually impossible to use any fingers on that hand. Oh well, I thought to myself. If worse comes to worse I'll just use the altered guitar track and nobody would know better. That was my thought process before I heard Catera's vocals.

When Catera got the vocals back to me I lined the guitar and vocals up in Ableton and listened to them. I was floored by her vocal talent! Not only did she nail every note with clarity and vibrato, but she also added some improvisational melodies that were not in the original Beatles recording. Once I heard the two pieces together, I knew I had to rerecord my guitar in the right key, and not have it pitch shifted.

Recording tends to be a little tricky at my house at the moment. With a 4 and 1 year old running around and screaming, it can be rather hard to get absolute silence when I'm trying to record. I look back to all the free, uninterrupted time I had circa pre-kids and it makes me weep when I think what I did with that time...

One of my more productive days, pre-kids.


Nowadays, the only time I have to record is when my wife takes the kids to the park, or for a walk around the neighborhood. This gives me about 30 minutes to an hour of time to record. I've discovered that when I only have a set amount of time to get a project done, especially musically related, I can hyper focus. When my wife took the kids out for a stroll, I sat down and recorded the new guitar part in one take. Even with the pain in the hand, and not being 100 percent sure of the how to play the song in the a different key, I nailed it.

Once I got the recording done, I mixed the two pieces together, edited the video, and ended up with this:

Honestly, it was such an enjoyable experience that I hope Catera and I can work on more projects in the future. It's always great to work with extremely talented musicians. It forces you to be a better player yourself.

Thanks so much, Catera, for working with me!


I was getting a little burned out on the Open 'E' chord lessons, so I figured I would start you guys on this one, and then double back to a lesson on Yellow Ledbetter. Let's jump right into finger picking and learning the first picking part of this song!

Crash Course in Finger Picking

Let's get in starting position. Here's a picture while I explain finger placement.

Thumb rest on the 6th string.

Pointer rest on the 3rd string.

Middle rest on the 2nd string.

Ring rest on the 1st string.

Once you have all your fingers on the strings in their proper place, take them off just a little bit. This is known as resting position.

Notice how they are barely touching the strings. That's how you want them to be. Now that the basics are covered, let's dive into the song, shall we?


I want to start off really slow, as to not put too much at your feet and then have you guys tell me to, “Screw off! This is too hard, you're an awful, awful guitar instructor!” With that in mind, I'm going to cover just the first three beats of the song.

Beat 1

line your 3rd finger on the 3rd fret of the 6th string like so.

Now, with your picking hand, you're going to pick your thumb and middle finger at the same time.

Next, pick the 3rd string with your 1st finger.


I can't stress this enough. Learning how to finger pick can be overwhelming, to say the least. Start off very slow and take your time on training your fingers to go in the right places. I always tell every single one of my students...

I'd rather hear you play it slow and right, than fast and wrong. Speed comes with time.” -NickelNDime

**Beat 2

**Next you're going to place your 1st finger on the 1st fret of the second string.

With your picking hand, you're going to move your thumb down to the 5th string. Now you're going to pick your thumb and middle finger just like in the first beat.

...Followed by your 1st finger again.

Beat 3

For the last beat of this lesson, you're going to place your 1st finger on the 2nd fret of the 5th string, and your 4th finger on the 3rd fret of the 2nd string.

The picking pattern is exactly the same as beat 2.

That covers everything you need to play the first three beats to “Blackbird.” Get this picking pattern down, because in the next lesson I'm going to go over the more complex picking pattern. Good luck!