Shane McDonald – keyboardist with Queen Tribute Band, Celebrating Queen

Shane McDonald – keyboardist with Queen Tribute Band, Celebrating Queen

New role as Keyboardist with Queen Tribute Band, Celebrating Queen

I’m delighted to announce that I am now keyboardist / musical director with the US based Queen Tribute act, ‘ Celebrating Queen’. The band ‘Celebrating Queen’ have many years experience in entertaining audiences with a powerful show both in the USA and Europe. The band are currently booking for 2021 shows, such as festivals, events and custom venues.

I have been playing Queen’s music for many years, and since 1993, I have been disecting the Queen songs and getting into the intricacies of each piece. This opportunity is a real dream come true for me, as it has been something which I have always wanted to do.

As it stands we now wait for the covid pandemic to ease so that concert dates in 2021 can be booked and actually fulfilled. For more details on booking Celebrating Queen please visit www.celebratingqueen.com !

The setlist of the band is varied, including all the Greatest Hits as well as deep cuts like March of the Black Queen, Stone Cold Crazy and Death on Two Legs.

So from here, mid-pandemic October 2020 it’s just a waiting game until such time as we know if concert dates can be booked. I hope you will join me on the journey and I will keep you updated on tour dates and any venues that are booked. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook via the links below.

I cannot express how happy I am to be a Queen Tribute Band keyboardist , a dream come true for me!  It’s sure to be an exciting time and I will upload as much detail on this site as is possible.

Hope to see you somewhere on the road in 2021 !!

 

Social Media Links

Some Queen related items for Sale

Some Queen related items for Sale

Some Queen related items for Sale in the Online Store

I have some items for sale in a new section of the site which Queen fans might be interested in. A Brian May Effects pedal and also some sixpences which guitarists may like to get hold of as that is what Brian uses as a plectrum.

The Brian May Guitar Effects Pedal

The Digitech Brian May guitar effects pedal helps you to achieve the distinctive Brian May Sound. this Digitech pedal models seven of the signature sounds that Brian May produced while playing with Queen, plus there are variations of those sounds, e.g. Bohemian Rhapsody solo and Heavy etc. You can recreate Brian May’s Red Special guitar sound with this pedal. This Digitech Brian May effects pedal is very much sought after and I believe it is discontinued. It is a hard to find model and I’m sure a guitarist who wants to recreate the Queen sound will want such a great effects pedal in his or her gear setup.

The DigiTech Brian May pedal features 7 control knobs including Gain, Level, Treble, Bass, Control, Guitar, and Model so the pedal lets you dial in the exact tone.

The songs / tones you can recreate include;

Keep Yourself Alive (2 tones)
Bohemian Rhapsody (2 tones)
Tie Your Mother Down (2 tones)
We Will Rock You / We Are the Champions
Crazy Little Thing Called Love (2 tones)
Wembley version of his “Brighton Rock Solo” (2 tones)
Deacy amp tone from “A Winter’s Tale.” (2 tones)
This product includes;

a Brian May Black signature gig bag
a power supply
2 English sixpence pieces for use a plectrums (as per Brian)
Original Instruction book.
Weight 3.4lbs.

 

1 in stock

 

The British Sixpece Piece

The British sixpence has a nice serrated edge and Brian may uses this to create his distinctive guitar sound.

Brian May started playing with a British sixpence coin after experimenting with a few different types of plectrum all with different widtgs and gauges.
He settled on using a coin, specifically the sixpence, because he said he had “total contact with the strings”, plus the serration added a new type of sound which a plectrum could not give.

34 in stock

I may have some more items to add to the store in the coming weeks so stay tuned… I will only be listing items of interest to Queen fans.

Tweet a Celeb about Queen #AskACelebAboutQueen

Tweet a Celeb about Queen #AskACelebAboutQueen

Tweet a Celeb about Queen

This is a new feature called ‘Tweet a Celeb about Queen’ which I am going to run on an ongoing basis. It is exactly what it sounds like. I will tweet a celeb, ask if they are a Queen fan and what their favourite track is. I will then outline on this post who I tweeted and what the reply was. 

If you have any suggestions for which celebrities I should Tweet please comment below or send me a Tweet @ShanesQueenSite 

Current Celebs Who Replied

Apr 13 2020
Perez Hilton
@ThePerezHilton

Replying to @shanesqueensite
I don’t know if I can pick ONE. But, much like Madonna’s “Holiday”, I have a chemical reaction whenever I hear “Bohemia Rhapsody”.

 

Jan 29, 2020
James Corden
@JKCorden

Replying to @shanesqueensite Is this the world we created. 

Jan 14, 2020
Matt Lucas
@RealMattLucas

Replying to @shanesqueensite changes by the hour

Nov 20 2017
Ryan Van Poederooyen‏
@rvanpoederooyen     
Replied : Love Queen. Grew up listening to them as my parents were fans. To answer your question… My fave tune by them is ‘Tie Your Mother Down’.

Dec 15 2016
Claire Richards ‏
@_ClaireRichards
Replied: Who wants to live forever! Or under pressure? Or even don’t stop me now?

10th Dec 2016
Ricky Gervais
@rickygervais
Replied : Somebody to Love

Current Celebs Contacted

Dec 15
Claire Richards
‏@_ClaireRichards

Replied
Who wants to live forever! Or under pressure? Or even don’t stop me now?

10th Dec 2016
@rickygervais

Replied : Somebody to Love

22 Dec

The Ellen Show

No Response Yet

Dec 20

Matthew Perry
@MatthewPerry

No Reply Yet

December 18

Courtney Cox
@CourteneyCox

No Reply Yet

Dec 17th
No Reply yet
Dec 17th

Matt LeBlanc
@Matt_LeBlanc

No Reply Yet

Dec 16

Lisa
@LisaKudrow

No Reply Yet

Dec 13th

Joe Bonamassa

No Response Yet

Dec 12th

Taylor Swift
@taylorswift13

No Reply yet

11th Dec

Katy Perry

No response yet

9th Dec 2016
No reply yet
8th Dec 2016
No reply yet
Ryan Van Poederooyen‏ @rvanpoederooyen    Nov 20 2017
Love Queen. Grew up listening to them as my parents were fans. To answer your question… My fave tune by them is ‘Tie Your Mother Down’.
Jimmy Fallon

No Response Yet

Perez  @ThePerezHilton

Apr 13
Replying to @shanesqueensite

I don’t know if I can pick ONE. But, much like Madonna’s “Holiday”, I have a chemical reaction whenever I hear “Bohemia Rhapsody”.

RealMattLucas @RealMattLucas

Replying to @shanesqueensite

changes by the hour

2:25 AM · Jan 14, 2020

James Corden @JKCorden

Replying to @shanesqueensite

Is this the world we created.

11:26 PM · Jan 29, 2020

Keyboard Playing during Queen Guitar Songs and more…? : Visitor Query

Keyboard Playing during Queen Guitar Songs and more…? : Visitor Query

I always like getting emails, tweets and messages and during the week I got a Facebook Query from Ash in Wales asking some excellent questions about Queen songs. I have placed the answers here in case anyone else has the same queries about playing keyboards to Queen Songs. If you have any follow-up queries on this topic please leave a comment below. 

During the Queen Guitar Songs, what should you be playing on Keyboards? e.g. Hammer to Fall?

Hammer to fall, actually does have a keyboard part, which is about 53 seconds into the piece – I believe Queen called it ‘candyfloss piano’. It’s basically chords starting with A   D/A   A  D/A   A  D/A   E/A   A  … so really Hammer To Fall doesn’t fall in to the category of a Queen guitar-only song , i.e. one with no arranged Keyboard parts, however if you look at a song like Tie Your Mother Down, that song is 100% guitar on the album track. So, what would you do in that case? For something like Tie Your Mother Down, which is also in the key of A, you could use an Analog Synth Pad with a decent attack, or indeed a Rock Organ Sound. Take a look at Tie Your Mother Down from the Wembley ’86 concert, I’m sure Spike Edney is adding some level of keys during that song. Watching Live Queen Concerts is also another way to find out questions like ‘What did Queen do in this case’, because in the studio you can layer but live you only have Freddie, John, Roger and Brian and in the mid 80s Spike joined, so you look at what was used here.

What you would want here is to fill out the sound while remaining in the background a small bit, and the keys would also support the guitarist while the solo is progressing, so that the signature chord progression is still in action.

If you are a casual player and just want to accompany the album tracks on keyboard, there is certainly no harm in looking at the chords of the songs and playing along. You will find that you will get your own feel for what you can do with each song. So if you were looking at Keep Yourself Alive, which has no keyboards, you might just play Octaved 5th chords on a low register piano sound to create a support for the bass line, or, White Man you could do a Spacey Pad which would add to the ethereal mood of the song. Look at the song, see what instruments your synth or keyboard offer you and see where those might fit. You could also look into purchasing the ‘Off The Record’ music books which transcribes in much detail, the keyboard tracks for each song.

Remember sometimes Not Playing in a section can be important too! Don’t feel you have to fill every bar with an instrument.

 

What Sounds Should you Use on a Synth or Keyboard when playing along to a track?

Sometimes this is obvious, e.g. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ / ‘Somebody to Love’ will always be piano. But for something like ‘Son and Daughter’ you could look at other tracks written around the time and perhaps a Rock Organ might fit well with the proggy style sound of the first 2 albums. For a more modern song like ‘Radio Ga Ga’, they were using synths such as the Roland Jupiter-8 which created the arpeggio Bass Line, and for the higher keys part it’s almost like a Bells sound, so I would look for a patch on your keyboard which has a pad/bells sound or if you don’t have that, you could use an electric piano with some extra chorus or reverb depending on what you have available.

Really when you pull a song apart you need to listen to what is being played, perhaps search google for ‘Queen Radio Ga Ga Keyboard Only’ as there are some tracks out there which only have the keyboard tracks and you get to hear what is really being played.

I will do a version of ‘Radio Ga Ga’ very soon amd will place it on to my YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/ShaneMcDonaldIE and this will show the instrument used and also how I incorporate a little of the bass line after the chorus, so you can do a little mixing and matching to suit your style.

 

If you can only play chords with 3 fingers, how do you play more complex chords such as 7th chords?

This is tricky ok, but 7th chords are really there as a further embellishment to make the sound of the chord fuller and normally the 7th chords will allow a transition into a certain other chord – i.e. you just don’t start using 7ths for the sake of it. They are an important link-pin in the architecture of the song. If you can only play 3 notes of the chord, and you want to play the 7th, you have 2 options.

So, if you look at the chord C7 which is C E G Bb you could

(a) Play  E G Bb  or  Bb C E  or  G Bb C  so you have the 7th note , the Bb, incorporated.

or

(b) if you had a sustain pedal, you could play the chord  C E G  and then incorporate the Bb almost like a run-on arpeggio so you play  C E G  (sustain pedal down) and then  E G Bb  and you get to hear the full C7 chord and nobody is the wiser.

Again, it is understanding why the specific chord is used and which note in the chord is making this work for the song. You can see this in action if you look at for example “Doin’ All Right” where the chords are
E   F#m/E   Emaj7   F#m/E
(NOTE: EMaj7 which is D# E  B in this case … you can omit the G# note as it’s not played)
… so if you were to play E   F#m/E    Emaj    F#m/E  (so you are not playing the EMaj7)
You can very plainly hear that the D# is very important in the tone or the feeling at that chord progression.

 

Some Software Tools to help during LockDown

Finally, if you do want to play around with Bass Notes and building up Chords a Good iPhone app is Acapella. It has been used by many on YouTube and allows you to record yourself playing one track and then build up your track with more and more layers. The link is below

‎Acapella from PicPlayPost

 

Any Other Questions

If you don’t know me, I’m a Queen Keyboardist and I run this site with the aim of helping those know more about Queen, Queen’s music and I love giving tips on How to Play Queen songs.
If you have any questions please do leave them in the comments below and I will either answer your comment or update the post.

Don’t forget to sign up to my YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/c/ShaneMcDonaldIE for Queen Videos and Tutorials.

Shane’s Queen Site joins in Brian May #JamWithBri MicroConcerts

Shane’s Queen Site joins in Brian May #JamWithBri MicroConcerts

As you may know, Brian May is doing some MicroConcerts during lockdown. These are live played snippets or full songs played on his Red Special guitar from his living room in Kensington. Brian May is aware that lockdown can be hard and his briallian Instagram feed has been updated every week, sometimes a few times per week, with a song. So I decided to add keyboards to these songs where applicable.

Below I have outlined each of the MicroConcert videos and at the end of the post I have outlined the process I use to record and output these videos, should you wish to do your own versions.

Hammer To Fall

This was the first song I did on the #JamWithBri Microconcert. The only problem is that the keyboards don’t really have much of a role in this song. Infact, keyboards don’t come in until 53 seconds have elapsed on the track, and when they do, it’s simple chords of A and D/A, so not really rocket science. But I added those and it was a pleasing enough result in the end and spurred me on to do more. Because Hammer to Fall wasn’t exactly the most challenging or interesting ones, keyboard wise, I didn’t upload that to YouTube but it certainly fired the eagerness to do more.

Bijou

This is one overlooked song from the album Innuendo. It’s one which I did an arrangment of back in 2010 and had not played since then. I decided to use a nice soft synth-pad, as close as possible to what was used on the Innuendo album. Brian was doing the fantastic solo parts and I was filling in on the synth as per the album. I think it worked out really well and the video got great responses on my Facebook Page and youTube. The video of the #JamWithBti MicroConcert version of Bijou is shown below.

Love of My Life

The version of Love of My Life which I would play when I sti down to a piano is not the version played on A Night at The Opera, instead, I arranged a version which uses the original album version but at the piano solo, I drift into the nice guitar solo which Brian plays live. So I used this to accompany Brian on this version of Love of My Life. If I had my time again I would do two things differently; (a) I would have slightly reduced the piano volume and perhaps compressed it slightly and (b) I would not have played along with Brian’s guitar solo. You can watch the final #JamWithBri version of Love of My Life below.

We are the Champions

Of all the videos I have done so far this is my favourite. Brian did this on his own and then Roger joined in on Drums, before Adam added a vocal track, so there are actually 3 versions of the MicroConcert out there. I had already joined in with Brian before Adam completed the Queen+ trio.  Therefore, I decided to do a second version with me doing the Freddie on piano. I really love the way this sounds and so far, this one is my pride and joy. Since they released the We are the Champions on Instagram, Queen have released the track officially as ‘You are the Champions’ in order to raise funds for PPE equipment to help NHS staff helping Covid-19 patients. The ‘You are the Champions’ track is available on Spotify and you can find more information on the Queen Official Instagram page which is also mirrored on Brian and Rogers Instagram accounts.

Please feel free to watch the full version of my #JamWithBri ‘We Are the Champions’ video on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g5ryxdUJv8 or you can click the video below.

My Setup

Basically, this is how I record the additions to the MicroConcerts. I link my digital stage piano and output the audio into garage band while I simultaneously record the video on a Canon DSLR mounted on a tripod and pointed as an overhead camera. Then once I have recorded the audio on GarageBand, as I found Audacity had a 100ms latency for some reason, I output the audio as MP3 and then line the audio and video up in FinalCutPro, and then I mute the camera audio so that the output video only has the pure isolated audio from the piano. Within Final Cut I also take Brian’s Instagram video and splice in my video to create a new #JamWithBri video.

Hope this helps.

If you do create a video please leave a comment with the YouTube link!

Subscribe

Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/c/ShaneMcDonaldIE for more videos.

I have also collaborated with US Queen Tribute band Celegrating Queen with the track ‘ Under Pressure ‘ and I will write about that soon.

Keyboard Playing during Queen Guitar Songs and more…? : Visitor Query

Piano Day 2020 – Queen Medley

Piano Day 2020

Today, March 28th is Piano Day. Piano Day is a worldwide celebration of the piano every 88th day of the year – because of the number of keys on the instrument being celebrated.

The Piano Day website, pianoday.org says that ‘it doesn’t hurt to celebrate the piano and everything around it: performers, composers, piano builders, tuners, movers and most important, the listener.” which is actually a quote from Nils Frahm who is a German musician, composer, and record producer based in Berlin. I tend to agree with this quote.

Every year in Waterford for the past few years, through Piano Day Waterford there has been a piano in John Roberts Square where people could come and play. Last year there was even a live stream via a camer on the piano, so people could watch live on Facebook. With the current world-wide Corona Virus Lockdown in place there was no choice but to make this an online only event for 2020. Piano Day Waterford requested that people submit videos which would then be shared during the day. I submitted 2 to the Piano Day Waterford event and I did an extra one for my own use on the day.

Now that Piano Day 2020 is almost over and the videos have been shared, I can inlcude here in one place so you can view them. I hope you enjoy. I have done Love of My Life, Forever and a Queen Medley which is based on suggestions which I got from Twitter followers of my account @shanesqueensite.

The songs are introduced and shown below via the videos on YouTube. Enjoy!

Queen Medley

I asked for suggestions via Twitter on songs to include in a Queen Medley. Within 5 days I got 27 suggestions of songs and I then worked on finding songs which were either in the same key or shared a common chord. I was able to then link songs so that I could do a 4 minute Queen Medley. Considering I only had about 2 hours on the Wednesday and recorded it the next morning I think it came out ok.

Love of My Life

I always enjoy playing this song from A Night at the Opera. My version has the usual classic entrance and structure however at the solo I use Brian’s Guitar style solo as I think it fits well and we all know it from the Queen Concerts anyway.

Forever

A beautiful song from A Kind of Magic, Forever is a great song to play. I slightly re-arranged this one also to include those lovely minor chords near the end, Em, Cm, Am, Fm, Dm, Bm, Gm and then back to Em – though not in the version on the album I think it rounds off the song nicely, especially when it resolves through the lovely arpeggio in D before the final E5 chord ends the song. A Masterpiece by Queen.

I really hope you enjoyed these Piano Day songs and hopefully for Piano Day 2021 we will be back doing live performances.

Stay Safe and if you have any Piano Day performances of your own please drop me a line on Twitter @shanesqueensite or drop a comment below.

Coming Soon

As you know Brian May is doing MicroConcerts on Instagram. I am @shanesqueensite on Instagram also but I will be running some MicroConcerts next week. This will be anounced on my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ShanesQueenSite/ so if you play guitar, bass, sing or play drums please keep an eye out and I would love for as many people to take part as possible.

New – Interactive map of Queen places to visit in London

New – Interactive map of Queen places to visit in London

New Section – Interactive Queen Map of London

Have you ever been to London and wondered where members of Queen lived or where a certain Queen video was shot. A new section on Shane’s Queen Site, is the Interactive Queen Map of London.

I have manually verified and linked over 25 locations in London where a Queen related item is of note.

Some of these include the following. The location of;

  • Queen’s first Top of the Pops appearance
  • Freddie Mercurys House at Logan Place
  • We are the Champions video shoot
  • John Deacons Wedding
  • various recording studios where Queen recorded in London
  • Some of the notable filming locations for the Bohemian Rhapsody Movie
  • apartments where Queen lived in their early career
  • The stall where Roger and Freddie sold clothes and art on High Street Kensington
    and many more Queen related locations in the area of London…

So far the Interactive Queen Map of London has proved very popular with over 600 hits in the first 48 hours of the system. 

I hope to add even more locations in the coming weeks and my plan is to expand the system further and wider to give a more complete view of Queen related locations in and near London.

If you have any locations that you know of, which are not listed on this Interactive Queen Map of London, please do leave a comment or drop me an email.

Click Here to view the Interactive Queen Map of London

The Tribute Bands Section is live again

The Tribute Bands Section is live again

The Tribute Bands Section is Live Once More…

When I moved Shane’s Queen Site from shanemcdonald.org to shanemcdonald.ie many of the scripts ceased working under the new design. It has taken quite some time to get things back in order but it is happening slowly but surely. I am pleased to announce that the Queen Tribute Bands section is now fully live again on Shane’s Queen Site.

I have painstakingly reviewed and manually updated over 60 different Queen Tribute Acts. Each Queen Tribute band has a screenshot of their website, a brief description of the band, what they do and any important elements which need to be mentioned as well as a link to their website. In some instances, if I know the band or have seen them perform, the descriptive data might include details on band members, gig dates and other information.

Within the Queen Tribute Bands section, there are two from the island of Ireland, namely Qween and Flash Harry, 14 bands from England, 13 from Italy, 7 from the USA, 4 from Australia, 3 from Germany, 2 from Holland, 2 from Brazil, 2 from Canada, 2 from Scandinavia, 2 from Portugal, 1 from Poland, 1 from Belgium and 1 from Argentina.

Because of the fact that I’m based in Ireland, very few international tribute acts visit here, so in effect, the only one of these bands I have seen is Flash Harry and I was hoping to catch Qween when then visited Waterford in March, but things did not work out for me and I missed the gig. Thankfully I later saw Qween in December 2019 and they were excellent.

If there are any Queen tribute acts which I have missed please do let me know. Also, if you are one of the tribute bands lists and wish to enhance your listing, change the text etc, just get in touch and I will be glad to update your section.

This Queen fan site is updated as much as possible, normally once per week I do a few hours in keeping the content fresh, so if there is anything incorrect or if you want your Queen Tribute Band to be added just drop me a line!

The band that I am in is called “Custom160” and we play in the south of Ireland, we do a lot of Queen, so if you see us advertised please come along and say hello. But there may also be news of me playing keyboards with a US based Queen Tribute Band at some point in the coming 12 months so stay tuned for that news.

Visit https://shanemcdonald.ie/queen/queen-tribute-bands-list/ if you wish to take a look at all the bands in this Queen Tribute Act Section.

Flash Harry – Queen Tribute Band 

Flash Harry – Queen Tribute Band 

Flash Harry are one of the best Queen Tribute bands. I recently saw them at the Academy in Dublin and they rocked the place. They played Queen hit after Queen hit for over 2 hours. My voice was hoarse from all the singing. Plus, as far as I could see the songs were not transposed for ease of singing – the lead singer was simply “doing a Freddie”!

Flash Harry Upcoming Gigs

Check out their website for details

 

Flash Harry’s Official website is at http://www.flash-harry.co.uk/ if you want to learn more.

Photos – The Academy Dublin, 2017

Below, I have some photos from the Flash Harry gig at the Academy in 2017.
(Some harsh lighting but I was shooting without a flash so not to interfere with the show)

Listing on Shane’s Queen Site – see below

Flash Harry Tribute

Click on an image to view or simply watch the carousel (3 seconds per image)

 

If you like this post or if you have seen Flash Harry Queen Tribute in concert, don’t forget to share to post !

What Queen songs do you want to learn? Learn Queen Songs

What Queen songs do you want to learn? Learn Queen Songs

Do you want to Learn Queen Songs? I will soon launch a Learn to Play Queen section on Shane’s Queen Site, so I’m asking visitors to the site the question “What songs do you want featured on this section?” – If you want to Learn Queen Songs which are the ones you really want to play on piano?

I am taking a shortlist via comments / Tweets or Facebook comments until the new year and after that I will go from there.

If you want to see a certain song featured on the site, so that you can watch and learn to play on Piano or keyboards, please comment your choice below.

The Queen back catalogue is huge, so I will be choosing the shortlist based on its difficulty, how many people want to Learn that Queen Song and also the likelihood that other would be interested in it. In the meantime don’t forget to check out the Queen Chords and Tab section of the site which already has chords to many Queen songs.