May 31, 2004

This Business of Music (Marketing/Promotion)

I finished up a little book on marketing music to the masses. This was a pretty decent book, covering most of the basics of marketing as well as some of the odder things more specific to the music biz. Unlike a number of these books I've picked up over the years, this one has a few templates and step-by-steps that can be used if a musical group doesn't have any real idea as to where to start with their marketing effort.

Posted by Casper at 08:01 PM | Comments (0)

Do they make these for any other instruments?

No need to learn how to play the bugle anymore...

Thanks to Mark for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

Youssou D'Nour on the road

Youssou D'Nour (probably best known to most of the American audience as the guy who sang In Your Eyes with Peter Gabriel) will be touring the US this June and Jult. He's sure to bring a number of amazing Sengalese musicians with him.

DC Dates:
June 30: Glenside, Pa. (Keswick Theater)
July 1: Washington, D.C. (Lisner Auditorium)

Posted by Casper at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

May 30, 2004

Harry Potter meets Rent

The director of the Harry Potter movies has signed on to direct the film version of the play Rent. I'm having trouble envisioning the children friendly version of a story about hip arsty folk dying of AIDS in NYC, but maybe it will work out.

Posted by Casper at 04:54 PM | Comments (0)

More Flecktones dates

Not too long ago, I was wondering if the Bela Fleck dates that I noticed with the "Acoustic Planet" were going to be the full Flecktones or just Bela Fleck on his own. It would seem that the whole band is going out on the road.

You have to sort of picture me doing the happy dance here.

Posted by Casper at 04:51 PM | Comments (0)

JoS @ Main Street

Tonight was the third or fourth time that I have played at Main Street in Stafford. The venue is pretty good; there's a decent amount of real estate on stage, the acoustics are okay and there are a decent sized built-in audience (always a plus).

I got there a little on the late side (I forgot which exit it was off of 95), but load-in and setup went very quickly. However, as we were setting up, a table full of nice ladies asked me if I would be willing to strip. I declined, telling them that they really didn't want to see me even semi-naked (for their sakes; I'm so white that the reflected light would probably damage their retinas).

We played the first set, and the same table of ladies were hottin' and hollerin', but they had a good time, and that's always a good thing (They actually were nice). The crowd started to empty out during the second set, but then we got some return visitors and new people for the final set of the night.

I managed to play through yet another set of strings. The usual song (Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)) was the culprit this time -- I need to work on my plucking so it's not quite so destructive.

After we finished up, the crowd started to cheer for us and asking for an encore. We gave them one, and then did our load out. While we were loading out, one of the crowd came up and asked us to sign one of our CDs. Second time in a row that's happened....

Posted by Casper at 02:33 AM | Comments (0)

May 29, 2004

The Day After Tomorrow

For the life of me, I can't imagine why I voluntarily went to a disaster movie. I was expecting the effects to be top notch, but I cannot right now remember even a single disaster movie that was any good. The Day After Tomorrow keeps the tradition alive and well.

The effects are pretty good, though. The CGI of LA getting wiped out from a brace of tornadoes and NYC going several stories underwater was well done, and believable (at least, as far as the graphics go). The story, however, was completely rote. Yet another entry into this summer's cavalcade of clichés.

Just a word or two on both the politics and the science of this flick. The politics: I would just like to see the size and number of people they had to use to carry the ax. To say the writer/director had a very large ax to grind would not even begin to cover the bases. The US Vice-President in this film bears more than just a passing resemblance to Dick Cheney, and the US President is portrayed as a barely functioning dimwit. Not to mention the specific references to Kyoto and other similar matters. Just a touch on the heavy handed side.

The science. Note to the writer. Just because you include dialog that would seem to be vaguely scientific in nature ("We're pulling down air from the upper troposphere!") doesn't make it actually seem intelligent. It almost seemed as if they were stringing together really big words to seem impressive. "I think we are at a desalinization point that could lead to a cataclysmic climatological alteration in the endoplasmic reticulum!" Bravo.

Watch time -- well, there were two this go 'round. The first one was at about :04 into the flick when the opening stunt caused me to groan. The second time around was :27 or so.

-- Update --
If you want some actual, real science, check out a pro-warming guy and an anti-warming guy. Never let it be said that I don't try to show as many sides of an argument as I can.

-- Update 2 --
The guys from South Park were thinking about making a puppet version of this film at the same time. I think I would have rather seen that.

Thanks to Al for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

I can't even begin to count the ways that this is disturbing

Blackground records has managed to convince a judge that the singer Aaliyah was an asset of the company, rather than an employee. So now musicians aren't even human, they're an object? Does this mean that said assets could be bought and sold?

I've always suspected that a number of label execs viewed their talent as sub-human; now here's some confirmation.

Thanks to Simon for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 01:05 PM | Comments (1)

Simon on the RIAA lawsuits

That's what puzzles us most about the RIAA lawsuits - despite not making any impact on file sharing, they really do seem convinced that bringing all these legal actions is sending out a valuable message and making them look like fair-minded folks just trying to protect their farm. But how on earth can demanding half a million bucks from a single Mum on a twelve dollars an hour wage for music her daughter downloaded make the music industry seem anything like coldhearted, greedy cunts? How much music is this kid supposed to have "stolen" to tot up to 500,000? If we take the music industry's belief that 99 cents is a fair price for a track, that's getting on for forty-two thousand albums' worth of music - what sort of fucking computer has this girl got at her home? She must have an iPod the size of a small fridge to cope with the hard drive space. And yet, despite being an obviously fraudulent demand for money with menaces, the RIAA thinks that saying "give us four thousand bucks and we'll keep it out of court" shows them as being reasonable - jesus, why doesn't Cary Sherman just turn up at the woman's home with a bottle of cheap wine and sweat on his upper brow, suggesting "there are other ways of paying off your debt, love... make yourself pretty and we can make all this go away..."?

Posted by Casper at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

Avril on Britney

Avril Lavigne doesn't approve of Britney.

Avril Lavigne says Britney Spears' stage act is inappropriate.

The Canadian artist says the Toxic singer's act is also all about being a sex symbol.

Lavigne said: "Tons of mums come up to me and say thank you for not dressing like Britney Spears."

Posted by Casper at 12:48 PM | Comments (1)

A little help during a concert

The Concert Companion is the heldheld PDA that audiences may, in the future, be able to rent from orchestras, or might get free with special ticket deals. It gives real-time program notes, that change with the music -- ongoing descriptions of whatever you're hearing at a given moment.

... Everybody, absolutely everybody, said that [the Concert Companion] made them listen harder. In fact, they often used expressions like "analytical listening," to describe what the device made them do, contrasting that with the more relaxed, less directed listening they'd normally do without it.

This could be an interesting idea. I know that I enjoy watching DVDs (for a flick that I've seen before and am familar with the story) and listening to the commentary track to learn what the directory/actor/writer was trying to get across or just the random trivia. It helps me get a better appreciation for the work as a whole. Perhaps similar information about a classical piece might help as well. Then again, I'm a bit of an info junkie.

Thanks to Greg for the tip.

-- Update --
The NY Times reports on this as well. Their take is that some people like it, others hate it. Which would make it just like every other electronic gadget ever made.

Posted by Casper at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 28, 2004

Neil Gaiman on copyright

Granted, this is more in line with his writing, but it's another perspective.

I'd love it to go away, but it's not a genie that's ever going to go back into the bottle. Let's see, what do I think? I was delighted recently when I heard that the guy who'd been selling CDs with PDF files of the complete runs of Sandman, Preacher and so on on eBay is currently having close encounters with comics companies' lawyers. The stories weren't his to sell, after all.

Frankly, I think that the important thing is the wishes of the copyright holder in these things. Does it impact my sales when people post my stuff on the web? I've no idea. Probably not. I'm perfectly happy to put stuff up But I think that, for example, posting American Gods or Neverwhere on your website is, apart from anything, astonishingly bad manners.

As for Sandman and the other comics being out there on the web, well, mostly I'm not the copyright holder. I tend to think of it as being slightly more of a grey area -- I'm more sympathetic to people in countries where the work isn't available otherwise, for example. And I'm very aware that what's on screen is not the comic, not in the same way that an MP3 really is the song. (Anyone who's going to read all 2000 pages of Sandman on a monitor has my sympathy.) But I tend to lose all sympathy at the point where the "but it would cost money to buy the real thing" argument gets invoked.

On this note, if I post anything that any of the copyright holders take offense at (or just don't want me to do, please let me know).

Posted by Casper at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)

Some music to share

I've decided that I'm going to post a few mp3s to the site. Thanks to such good folk like David and Matthew, I've started to enjoy some music I would not have otherwise heard that they were so kind as to post. So, I'm gonna hop on that bandwagon.

For now, I'm just going to post up a song or two from some artists that I really enjoy and respect, along with some reasons as to why I think you should take a earful of the tune. Also, I'm going to include a link where you can buy the full disc -- support the artist if you like their work! And, as a final disclaimer, I know that the legalities of this are, shall we say, marginal at best. The longevitiy of this will depend on legal issues as well as bandwidth consumption.

Now, on to the tunes!

First up, we have Richard Bona's Kalabancoro. This is a great tune, starting off with a flute and a bouncy groove. Add in Salif Keita and you have a wonderful Afro-Jazz feel tune. The entire album is great, actually; I'd highly recommend it.

Second to go is a Bela Fleck and the Flecktones tune called Puffy (I'm doubting that this song is named after the rapper). This is a pretty representative Flecktones tune for anyone who is new the band. As with most jazz groups, most of the instruments take a solo during the song. From the Little Worlds disc.

Third on the block is Norm Stockton. I've included two of his pieces, The Race and Veggie Soup. I met Norm about a year or so ago doing a clinic. As it turns out, he's both a good player and a really nice guy. The Race is a pretty straight ahead modern jazz tune, featuring an interesting bass line under a piano/muted trumpet melody. Veggie Soup is a bass playing bonanza, with great groove and energy. Veggie also has the extra special bonus of being a "hidden" track on the disc. If you like what you hear, check out the rest of his album

And, at cleanup, Mike Stern's Wishing Well. Most of my pleasant memories of this tune come from watching Stern, Chambers and Bona play it live at Blues Alley, but it's a good, strong song in it's own right. This particular tune is very representative of the CD; tasteful, well-played guitar solos mixed in with ethereal vocal tracks and rock solid backing musicians. Do yourself a favor and check out the rest of the album.

-- Update --
After thinking about this for a while, I've decided to take these tunes down. It's disrespectful and just the wrong thing to do. I don't own the copyright on these songs, and I shouldn't act as if I did. Sorry if you came by looking for the tunes, but they're not here any more. The songs are still good, though, and I stand by what I said about them.

Posted by Casper at 03:26 PM | Comments (0)

How many of us have wanted to write one of these

A great resignation letter. Highlights:

In fact, I dare say that I would rather be dressed up like a pinata and beaten than remain with this group any longer. I wish you continued success in your goals to turn vibrant, productive, dedicated associates into an aimless, shambling group of dry, lifeless husks.

May the smoke from any bridges I burn today be seen far and wide.

Posted by Casper at 01:52 PM | Comments (0)

Marley kids on tour

Ziggy, Stephen, Julian and Damien Marley will be out on tour in the month of August.

DC Dates:
Aug. 7: Portsmouth, Va. (nTelos Pavilion Harbor Center)
Aug. 8: Vienna, Va. (Wolf Trap)

Posted by Casper at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

And I thought getting a frog in my throat was bad

Cyndi Lauper had a really, really bad day with a flying bird.

Veteran rocker Cyndi Lauper was left red-faced during a concert in Massachusetts recently - when a bird excreted in her mouth.

Thanks to Simon for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 09:53 AM | Comments (0)

Great article about Buffy/Angel

Andre has a great write-up on both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it's spinoff show, Angel.

The casualty is quality television, of course. Television that challenges and moves while it entertains, television that utilizes the medium’s inherent serial nature to really connect an audience with characters’ lives, television that goes beyond what television normally tries. Just look at Joss Whedon’s recent history: Buffy ended at seven seasons through a mutual agreement between Whedon and star Sarah Michelle Gellar, but his fledgling (and fantastic) Firefly was unceremoniously dumped after half a season, and Angel was hacked off at the knees during one of its most successful runs.

And I can’t fail to mention Tim Minear’s Wonderfalls. Minear co-produced Angel for years, writing some of the best episodes, and he left to develop a show about a strange girl who hears strange voices. It was yet another expensive, challenging endeavor, and Fox canned it after four episodes. The reality is that Fox will simply make more money by releasing the Complete Series DVD set than they would in advertising revenue by airing the remaining seven episodes.

I was a big fan of both shows; each one took chances and (for the most part), they paid off. The last season of Buffy never quite came together, and the 4th season of Angel (the next to last) was an all or nothing thing -- you either bought all the way into the entire ride, or it was a lost cause. Whedon's writing was some of the best I have seen on TV; I'm going to miss it.

Posted by Casper at 12:01 AM | Comments (0)

May 27, 2004

FoI rehearsal

The three of us got together tonight for a rehearsal. Initially, we just sat around and chatted. We talked for a bit about the current name of the band: Fire On Ice. It's a good enough name, and God knows it's hard enough to get a bunch of people to agree on a name for a band, but I suspect that we can do a bit better.

The three of us are a pretty odd combination. Shahin is a guitarist who plays Flamenco, Gypsy and Persian style. Brett plays straight ahead, Latin and jazz style. I play jazz, funk and some straight ahead stuff for the most part. Three pretty board styles that probably shouldn't work together, but they do. I think they work out pretty well.

I'd love to add a fourth to the group, though. The ideal would be a female keyboardist who could sing in any language that wasn't English (like French, Spanish, Urdu, whatever). I don't know if we can find such a thing, though (anyone got any suggestions?).

After we talked for a bit, we started to work on one of the newer tunes. A few weeks ago, Shahin and I worked out the rough outlines for a song called Roho. When we revisited it tonight, we couldn't remember what we had agreed upon a few weeks ago, so we had to fumble through things for a bit. In this case, we noodled around for a while, and Brett added drumlines here and there.

Eventually, things started to come together. Brett settled on a 3/2 clave beat, I changed my line to fit with his work and Shahin simplified out his part to be more rhythmic during the B sections (as opposed to melodic). We added some Cubano stop breaks in the middle and alter the solo sections. This one really moves; I hope that it will get better. We might add a scat vocal line to some of the verse/chorus as a counterpoint to the rhythmic guitar work, but we'll have to see what happens.

Posted by Casper at 10:20 PM | Comments (0)

Broken Angels

Over the weekend, I finished up Broken Angels. I had read Richard Morgan's first work and rather liked it, so I thought I'd give the sequel a go.

One of the things I liked about the original novel was the idea of stacks and sleeves. In this future world, humans have implanted a stack into their spinal column that allows their entire mental being to be captured to disk. Such technology opens the possibility of the consciousness surviving the death of a body -- which in this world happens regularly, as a person trades their current body for a new sleeve with regularity.

So how to create a sense of danger in a world where death doesn't mean the end? Morgan manages to pull off the tension with aplomb. By necessity, the motivations of characters are greatly different in this world, but not so different that everything is completely foreign.

In Broken Angels, the lead character from Carbon (Takeshi Kovacs) is back, this time leading a cadre of soldiers in some war (the details aren't particularly forthbomind or, indeed, pertinent). While there, he is approached by an unsavory lot about the existence of an alien spacecraft.....

Altered Carbon is a better read than Broken Angels, but either book is a worthwhile pulp read. I'd recommend it if you are into SF.

Posted by Casper at 01:42 PM | Comments (2)

Avril, your genius knows no bounds.

I can't think of a better summation of Avril Lavigne than her exegesis of Alanis Morissette's "Ironic": "I love how this song was written with all the different examples Alanis uses of things being ironic."

I just wish I had written it myself.

Posted by Casper at 01:32 PM | Comments (0)

Beautiful women not taken seriously in classical music

A rather good article in today's NY Times about some of the obstacles women -- particularly attractive women -- face in the classical music industry,

In sports, film and pop music, many leading women have turned their strength into an asset. But Ms. St. John is not the only evidence that classical music still seems to have trouble dealing with strong women. If you're attractive, it seems, you must also be cheesy and commercial.

I know with utter certainity that more attractive people are more likely to succeed in the music business; fair or not, this is an entertainment business, and people seem to want to be entertained by folks they consider to be pleasing to the eye. Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to untalented but pretty musicians triumphing over far more competent -- if less winsome -- ones.

Posted by Casper at 10:00 AM | Comments (1)

Janet Jackson: still a diva

Even with (ahem) less than stellar album sales of her latest outing, Janet Jackson can still come up with some interesting demands:

The singer stunned producers with her list of demands for her interview on the BBC show which is being filmed tonight.

First she insisted on a chauffeured limo to and from the airport and to take her around town.

For her dressing room, she told the show's producers she will need a chaise longue and 10 black roses - which don't actually exist.

Thanks to Max for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

Look how punk she is!

Avril is still fighting the machine. And MTV is way to quick to overreact.

Posted by Casper at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

Simon tells Posh to knock it off

Simon Cowell, apparently looking for new people to abuse now that American Idol has ended for this season, wants Victoria Beckham to just stop singing.

It's reported the Pop Idol judge was so determined to deliver his message he even took her for lunch in Los Angeles recently to tell her.

He told The Sun: "I saw Victoria when she was out here a while ago. I told her I thought she should concentrate on what she is good at and quit the pop.

Posted by Casper at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

The role of the government in music

To listen to the broad spectrum of people, there either is way too much government involvement in arts funding or nowhere near enough. James Allen Smith of the Getty Trust has a few thoughts on the subject.

The starving artist is a myth. Underfunded, underemployed, less well paid than others of similar education but not impoverished.

The lack of a government commitment to culture is also a myth. NEA and NEH appropriations are a fraction of what they were at their peak, but we do ourselves a disservice by ignoring the many other commitments to culture that the federal government has made and kept and that states and localities have expanded over the past two decades, even in the face of federal contraction. In our multilayered federal system the public sector commitment is fragmented and hard to appraise completely, but there is indeed a commitment, and it is substantial. Some argue that it remains stronger and more secure because it is fragmented, because there is not a single target for budget cutters to strike. We should also understand that some of our approaches are envied in other parts of the world, particularly the strong role played by private philanthropy. Sustaining and encouraging private philanthropy through the tax code has been a consistent policy choice since the 1910s.

For some of my readers who are into the more popular music genres (like rock, rap, metal, country, etc.), this is a non-issue. The marketplace will more than bear a plethora of bands. Some of the less popular art forms (like jazz, world, classical just to name three) have serious trouble scratching by without some assistance from large organizations. I consider myself fortunate to live in the DC area -- which has one of the stronger jazz communities in the nation -- and I'm well aware that not everyone has it quite this good.

Thanks to Andrew for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:12 AM | Comments (0)

LSC at Staccato

Some good friends of mine will be playing at Staccato's in Adam's Morgan on Friday night. If you got some free time and are looking for some good acoustic style rock, check 'em out.

Posted by Casper at 12:01 AM | Comments (2)

May 26, 2004

Being a rock star may be hazzardous to your health

If you ever wanted to know how most rock stars end up going into that good night, this list is for you.

Thanks to Jeff for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 05:32 PM | Comments (0)

To be played no more

A list of albums that one writer would like to never hear again in college dorms. Some items on his list:

Some of Phillip's reasoning for not playing, say Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon --

Alright, we get the next point. You like to smoke weed. I'm not going to stop you from doing so, but you're, like, so going to get busted if the RA hears "Us and Them" coming out of your room. I mean, people have been lighting up to that song for, oh, I don't know, only the last 30 years. Just giving you the heads up, man.

-- Update --
I suppose that I should say that I don't agree with all of the items on this list (I rather like DMB, mostly because of Beauford's drumming), but I threw it up here for the amusing chuckle.

Thanks to Karen for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 03:01 PM | Comments (0)

Madonna's new tour

If she ever gets around to actually having a tour, this is what people can expect.

Posted by Casper at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

Cookie monster speed metal

Yes, you read that right. Cookie Mongloid is a speed metal band from the Bay area that plays speed metal with a cookie monster as the singer. He even sounds a bit like Cookie Monster. It's not my cup of tea, but you have to give points for originality.

Thanks to Xeni for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Some bad dating lines

From The Sun:

  • Nice top – can I talk you out of it?
  • How do you like your eggs in the morning – fertilised or unfertilised?
  • The name’s Bond. James Bond.
  • I may not be Fred Flintstone but I could make your Bedrock.
  • Does God know you’ve escaped from heaven?
  • I think I’ve seen you on the cover of Playboy.
  • I’m here. What were your other two wishes?
Posted by Casper at 10:14 AM | Comments (0)

James Brown as opener

Could you imagine having James Brown as your opening act? Well, that's what the Red Hot Chili Peppers will have for some dates in the UK. I can't quite decide if this is great news for the Chili's or not so good news for James.

Posted by Casper at 10:02 AM | Comments (0)

Britney cancels

Britney has called off her latest show in Reisa, Germany. Something about only a quarter of the tickets being sold. Maybe that's why she was crying.

Posted by Casper at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Ringtones business hosing itself

Ringtones, as noticed a few times before, are suprisingly big business for the music labels. But maybe not for long.

As a result, prices for "sample" ringtones across Western Europe are on the rise, ranging from the equivalent of $1.38 from Web-based reseller F1-Live in Belgium to $7.35 from T-Mobile in Britain, Informa said.

In contrast, song downloads tend to follow Apple Computer Inc. iTunes straightforward pricing model of 99 cents per track. In Europe, downloads are priced in the range of 0.99 euros ($1.20) or 99 pence ($1.79).

Lemme see. I can buy the song legally for about a buck, or I can download a small portion of the same song for several bucks. The sheer brilliance of such a Hobson's choice is staggering.

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:10 AM | Comments (0)

Great article on copyright law

For those who think it might not be a good thing for Mouse-ville to keep Uncle Walt's copyright for another seventy years or so, this worth the time to read, even at the length.

The usual rationale for copyright is that it operates ex ante (which is lawyerspeak for beforehand): by promising authors a limited monopoly on copying and distribution of any work they might create in the future, we give them an incentive to create. After the work is created, the copyright monopoly leads to inefficiencies, but these are necessary because we have to keep our promise to the author. The goal of copyright is to keep others from free-riding on the author's creative work.

Recently, we have begun hearing ex post arguments for copyright, saying that even for works that have already been created, the copyright monopoly is more efficient than a competitive market would be. Some of the arguments in favor of copyright term extension are of this flavor. Lemley rebuts these arguments very convincingly, arguing that they (a) are theoretically unsound, (b) are contradicted by practical experience, and (c) reflect an odd anti-market, central-planning bias

From Feltin's commentary

Thanks to Ed for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:04 AM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2004

How to play reggae

From a fellow bass player, Max Valentino (I can't find his own home page, but here's some press for him), some well written suggestions on how to approach reggae. Note: this article has been reprinted from the TBL mailing list with Max's permission.

------------------------------------------------------
I have played a lot of reggae and other Caribbean styles in the past (I was born in Martinique), and have toured with a number of high profile Jamaican acts. Reggae is in essence a very simple form, but as with all simple music forms, there is great complexity in the nuance. The key to making it all work is feel. This is not just from the bass point, but from all the instruments involved.

The classic guitar rhythm, or skank, is counted as 16ths notes even at incredibly slow tempos. This is very important as the guitar rhythms fall on the "e's" of each beat, not the "ands". A common mistake many guitarists make when playing reggae is to apply this rather simple rhythm on the "ands" of the beat, which, in essence, turns it into a slow polka.

The classic "one-drop" rhythm is where the bass lays out on the initial down beat of each measure, following it by a 16th or sometimes even an 1/8th note away. This is also applied in many African and Latin music. The concept of "rhythmic displacement" although quite easy to explain, is quite difficult to master. And, as a sidebar, this concept is creeping right into the musical vocabulary of contemporary R&B via the work of D'Angelo , Raphael Saddiq and others.

Yet, the one-drop can be applied the other way around; where the drums lay out on the one, with the bass playing that downbeat, which applies another twist to the syncopation.

Other reggae rhythms, such as popular dancehall grooves, "steppers" and such, feature a more traditional 2 and 4 backbeat, but offer a great deal of give and take 'tween the bass and kick drum; with the drums laying back on the beat and the bass pushing -- or vice versa.

This sort of interplay between the kick and bass is very important, as rarely will you want to phrase with the kick, as is so common in rock, but rather engage in a dialogue with it; perhaps a dance with it would be a more appropriate metaphor.

Notewise, roots (hmmm, is that a pun?) and chord tones play a major role..........as does space. Lots of space. This provides room for the sublime rhythms of the style to take place. Add to this the very heavy and deep tone of the bass... well, those notes, though being few, occupy a lot of sonic space. I have found it important to have some treble on the bass for articulation and definition. Rolling the tone back by a half, on a passive instrument, works well. The tone needs to be deep, yet defined. A lot of this also comes from placement of the right hand. Try plying softly up by the neck for a really "dubby" tone.

Feel is very important. Robbie Shaklespeare, for instance, has a feel which sits very much at the back of the beat, even on up-tempo dancehall stuff, which creates that laid-back sort of feel we all associate with reggae. Family Man Barret, whose work with Bob Marley is a must study for reggae lines, on the other hand, tends to play way up on the top of the beat, in essence following the vocals (which are also phrased on top, or even ahead of the beat), and this created the classic Wailers groove; the other instruments would lag behind the beat while the bass charged on the topside.

Often players performing Marley tunes, will play behind the beat with a laid back feel, and then wonder why the groove doesn't quite work. Therefore it is really important to work with a metronome of drum machine and learn to feel the placement of the beat (behind, on or ahead of), as well as the concept of rhythmic displacement -- which are actually good practices for all bassists -- not just exclusively for those trying to cop the reggae vibe.

Posted by Casper at 09:52 PM | Comments (0)

Clear Channel to block live recordings

Clear Channel is doing their best to stop the new approach of recording a concert and then selling CDs of that same concert the same night.

...Clear Channel Entertainment has bought the patent from the technology's inventors and now claims to own the exclusive right to sell concert CDs after shows. The company, which is the biggest concert promoter in the world, says the patent covers its 130 venues along with every other venue in the country.

Thanks to Mike for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 09:47 PM | Comments (0)

Dude... my hand. It's moving

Yet more in web animation weirdness.

Thanks to Reen for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 09:40 PM | Comments (0)

Musicians by the Metro

You know those people who "play" music by the subway entrance? We have them around DC. There's the guy with the trumpet at LeFlant Plaza who can only play two patriotic tunes (Yankee Doodle and America, The Beautiful) as well as the bucket drummers around DuPont. There's also the more mobile ones: the guy with the Ibanez guitar, drum machine, mike and amp who plays a hammer-on/Stanley Jordan style of tapping constantly, the three/four guys with pan flutes and guitars....

For the most part, I ignore these people. I'm a struggling musician, and more power to them for trying to make it, but I haven't heard much from them that really gets me going. It would also seem that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Posted by Casper at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

No more Phish food

Phish will be calling it off after the Coventry show.

Posted by Casper at 06:23 PM | Comments (0)

You know, I think I'll pass

A rather distant relative of Adolf Hilter could sue for royalties from Mein Kampf, but he doesn't seem to want it.

Posted by Casper at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

Simon on Posh Spice/Victoria Beckham

You wonder how delighted Victoria Beckham must have been at the meeting where they decided that she doesn't stand a cat in a washing machine's chance of being loved in Britain, so it's time to target the US. And how the fixed smile must have lurched a little at being told that she's going to have to be branded as Posh Spice Victoria Beckham - or, in other words, "Nobody knows who the fuck you are, so we're going to hang a big sign saying 'Used to be a Spice Girl' round your neck for all eternity. A few years back, being a soap opera condemned you to never have any further success - the popular view was that once you'd spent some time as Matt Skilbeck, the public would never accept you in any other role. That's clearly passed now - you can't move for TV dramas cluttered with people who used to be soaps stars - but it seems the curse of typecasting has now moved on to pop stars. We're not entirely convinced that America will buy Beckham's ropey old rubbish, even if it has got 'Ex-Spice Girl' stamped all over it, but at least if she's off humiliating herself in New York it'll spare us for a little while.

We're also a little tired of the modern habit of labelling people "haters" if they don't like something - Fred Durst popularized the concept, trying to make out those that ridiculed him did so out of hate rather than simply because he's a pudgy middle-aged bloke trying to pass himself off as 18 - and now 19 are trying to blame Beckham's failings on people hating her. No, no, no: finding someone sadly hilarious isn't the same thing as hating them at all.

Posted by Casper at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

The wailing woman

Just speaking personally, I love world music. I own quite a bit of it and play in a world band. So, hearing world music in movie soundtracks has (frequently) been the only thing about some films that I have enjoyed.

However, some have noticed (Salon link, registration/ad required) a trend in having a single female perform a plaintive wail in the background.

The story really took off in 2000 with a quiet indie release called "Gladiator." Ridley Scott's Oscar-winner opens over a golden wheat field through which strides a haggard but homebound Russell Crowe. Slowly, a low female voice begins to separate itself from the murmuring strings. In lilting half-steps, the exotic melody rises skyward. It's foreign, but comforting. The woman's words are unidentifiable -- Arab? Indian? Bulgarian? -- yet speak clearly of home and family and long-awaited happiness just beyond reach. Throughout the film, each time Crowe dreams of this far-off resting place, the plaintive vocal returns, even as he finally joins his family in the afterlife.

Hans Zimmer wrote the "Gladiator" soundtrack, and is credited, along with vocalist Lisa Gerrard (formerly of Dead Can Dance), with delivering the vaguely ethnic wail to the masses. Five years later, the wail now makes more appearances in Hollywood "epics" than the requisite heat-of-battle beheading. Any movie with a foreign setting is a shoo-in for a wail or two -- "Tears of the Sun," "Black Hawk Down," "The Four Feathers," "The Passion of the Christ" -- although stateside flicks aren't immune. Probably the oddest recent wail sighting came in Danny Elfman's score for "Hulk," which featured the jolly green giant skipping through the Nevada salt flats to a quasi-Arabian rhythm section and a spirited female screamer of dubious descent.

John Debney, composer for "The Passion," admits that the wail is a full-blown fad, like many other movie music trends that came before it. Television and film music from the 1980s was stuck on the "Miami Vice" sound: repetitive, synthesized riffs over repetitive, synthesized percussion. In the 1970s, it was the saxophone (think "Taxi Driver"). In the '50s, the UFOs massed overhead to the eerie squeal of the theremin. Now, Debney says, the sound "du jour" is the exotic, warbling, ethnic "female vocal" ("wail" is so ugly). Has it been overused? Sure, says Debney. Has it become a cliché? Probably. Should it be banned from movies forever? Let's not get carried away.

Posted by Casper at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

WWJS (What Would Jesus Share)?

Salon magazine looks at file sharing amongst Christians (registration or sit through an ad required).

To the teens in the Barna study, "hooking up" a friend with a copy of your new CD is like giving a pal a free Coke if you work at McDonald's -- no big deal, and an accepted, even expected sign of friendship.

"Being faithful to your friends, giving them something for free, is more important than any kind of moral allegiance to a record company. Whether a teenager is a committed Christian, of a different faith or just has no religious affiliation, some of the patterns of how they make decisions transcend religious input," Kinnaman says. He believes that to change those kids' attitudes, you'd have to somehow influence those networks of friends, not just tell the kids that what they're doing is wrong.

Another complication: For some Christian kids Barna studied, sharing the religious hits that express their faith is their way of spreading the word. "They wanted it to be part of their ministry. They wanted to share some of the positive messages from their music with non-believers. It's an evangelistic impulse." He compared it to the old saw about the stolen Bible: "If someone came and stole my Bible, I'd be happy that they stole it, because they needed it."

Even McPherson, the Christian computer scientist who takes a hard line on file sharing, has mixed feelings about the trading of religious movies and music. When he heard that "The Passion of the Christ" was the most widely available pirated movie on the net in April, his e-mail response was to quote the following scripture: "The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice" (Philippians 1:18).

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 10:17 AM | Comments (1)

American Bandstand brought back by a Brit

American Bandstand is going to be resurrected by Simon Cowell's company (the same good folk who bring us American Idol).

Posted by Casper at 10:16 AM | Comments (0)

Music business improving

And, in somewhat related news, EMI is convinced that the music business is getting better -- despite a poor performance this quarter.

Posted by Casper at 09:54 AM | Comments (0)

Filesharing goes underground

Even with the lawsuits, people are still trading files.

Posted by Casper at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

More lawsuits

In yet another "Damn the torpedos" move, the RIAA has filed suit against 493 more people. This makes a grand total of 2947 people being targeted.

Yet, as Simon points out, none of these cases have ever made it to court.

By sending out demands for thousands of dollars per tune, and then saying "but if you agree to settle, we'll only roll you for a few hundred, mate." Very reasonable. Curiously, Reuters report that people have already been sued - but as far as we know, not a single case has actually reached a courtroom yet. It's funny that the RIAA insist that these lawsuits are about educating the public - the very Cesearesque stance of 'to encourage the others' - and yet they actually seem really, really reluctant to have the exposure that a proper legal case would bring. But, surely, if the people they are suing really are defrauding artists out of tens of thousands of dollars, and the RIAA is confident of its case, what would be the logic in bending over backwards to try and keep it out of court? Unless, you know, they're fibbing a little and don't really have any confidence in their actions at all?

Could this be just a massive intimidation campaign rather than an actual, honest legal attempt to remedy the situation?

Posted by Casper at 09:40 AM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2004

More music marketing thoughts

More good ideas from Andrew...

...[W]hen you look out on an audience at a performing arts event, or watch people enter a museum exhibit, you are not seeing a bunch of qualified prospects for future engagement. Less than half of that room contains qualified prospects, the other half are those they invited to come.

Of course, you may say, there are husbands and wives, arts lovers and their dates, parents and their children, but that's only part of the story. Brown suggests that there are actually two types in any audience -- initiators and responders -- and only one of those two is really likely to buy another ticket.

Like his last set of observations, there is a lot that can be taken away for any musician.

Posted by Casper at 09:14 PM | Comments (1)

RIAA vs. CEA

In a battle royale of the acronyms, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America, the 600 pound gorilla that argues in favor of the recording industry) and CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) have been going at each other over the impending spectre of digital radio. The RIAA sent a fax to the CEA, requesting the CEA ask their members to change the hardware in digital radios to prevent end users from recording signals (much as the RIAA succeed with prevent digital TV transmissions from being recordable via broadcast). The CEA pretty much concisely told the RIAA to stick it.

...[T]here is no content "license" at issue becuase RIAA members have no licensable right that could be a basis for imposing limitations on free broadcasts.

Finally, you state that you do not wish to limit the ability of consumers to record over-the-air radio broadcasts. Instead, you apparently want to force them to buy what they have received for free since Fleming and Marconi first made it possible for consumers to hear new and music over the public airwaves.

As you know, we have love been concered about content owners seeking to change the "play" button on our devices to a "pay" button. At least you have addressed the semantics by suggesting new devices come equippred with a "buy" button.

... As you are aware, hundreds of thousands of digital radios have already been sold in Great Britain, yet you offer no proof of harm to the recording industry. Indeed, the various consumer recording practices your letter warns of could easily be accomplished today using commonplace analog radio data service (RDS) technology combined with the digitization of FM broadcasts, but there is no evidence this is occurring. The FCC docket is also devoid of any showing linking digital radio to the unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing of music.

Hear, hear. With friends like the RIAA, musicians don't need enemies.

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 05:44 PM | Comments (0)

It's just not fair

In more American Idol related news, Jasmine Trias -- who was voted off the island last week -- has been offered a record deal. She stands to make a guarenteed $100,000 from the contract.

Posted by Casper at 05:05 PM | Comments (0)

The real meaning behind the praise

Just because someone tells you they liked your playing doesn't mean that they do. The article is more aimed towards screenwriters and such, but it still applies. Some highlights translated to music:

Comment: "The music really flowed."
Meaning: "Everyone just babbles on and on and on and on . . ."

Comment: "I loved the ending!"
Meaning: "You can't imagine how happy I was to finally be finished listening it so I could return to watching paint dry."

Comment: "I loved it!"
Meaning: "I love my Grandmother too! Doesn't mean I want to hang out with her for three hours on a Friday night though! Jesus I need a drink!"

Thanks to Defamer for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 05:01 PM | Comments (0)

I almost don't care about this...

But I know that some people do. My caption for this photo of the spastic white guy (his name is Clay Aiken or something, right?) from American Idol: "Really! I'm not gay! See!!"

Posted by Casper at 04:55 PM | Comments (0)

American musical taste changes

A great post/riposte between McWhorter and Ezana. Worth some time to browse, if you want to learn something about musical construction in American music.

Posted by Casper at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

File sharing 70-80% of all Euro bandwidth?

The latest Hollywood movies, television shows and albums zipping between Internet users accounts for 70 percent to 80 percent of all Internet traffic handled daily by European Internet service providers (ISPs).

Color me skeptical, but I'm sort of doubting this. I would have figured at least a third of any given bandwidth on the web to be sucked up by porn.

Thanks to Brad for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

Survey results

The blog survery results are in. Thanks to everyone who stopped off and answered the questions.

Posted by Casper at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

Heatstroke-estival

In local DC news, the HFStival at RFK over the weekend left quite a few hospitalized with heat related maladies. Given that this past weekend was one of the hottest on record and the ever so low price of liquid luxuries (like water) at outdoor concerts, that the number isn't higher is probably the real story.

-- Update --
A further review from today's Washington Post.

Posted by Casper at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2004

Jewel wants some attention

Going for the much more direct approach, Jewel has taken to asking her fans to just stare at her chest.

Posted by Casper at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

Shrek 2

Tonight, I took the time to catch the sequel to Shrek. The original flick was good, kind of an anti-fable with dark humor. Accordingly, I had some high expectations for the second go 'round.

I rather liked this movie. Antonio Banderas voices the part of Puss In Boots, and he was easily the best character in the story; anytime he was on screen, I was almost always laughing (particularly with the eyes). The writing took some time to get started, but it coasted along on the same dark rail as the first film, slyly working over the fairy tales with a rather modern sardonicism.

No watch time; I was enjoying the movie so much, I didn't look down.

Posted by Casper at 09:32 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2004

Down in Richmond for a few days

I'm off, visiting with family. Blogging will be sporadic at best.

Posted by Casper at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

May 21, 2004

FoI at private party

Tonight, the three of us played for an associates reception at a DC law firm. The law firm itself was amazingly well appointed (I understand that it has won a few awards for interior decorating in the past). We loaded in through the freight/service entrance, set up in one of the conference rooms and did a quick sound check. With no one in the room, we had to turn down under '1' to keep within the noise restrictions of the firm.

About 5:30, people started to file in, hanging around the food and the bar while talking to each other (you know how these parties tend to go). We started off with an improvisational piece, holding down two or three chords while we took turns soloing. Then we started up the written set list.

Throughout the entire evening, we all took tourns to solo at least one each per song. There were reasons for doing this, but I'm hardly complaining. It reminded me of some jazz gigs I've had where it was de jure for each member of the band to take a few bars of solos in every song. Just speaking personally, I don't have as much soloing experience as I would like to have, but I can get by with enough panache to sell it.

The first went well; we stretched out six songs over sixty minutes. After a short break, we came back and started up again. I had originally been scheduled to start out the set with my all-alone solo. That was abandoned for more upbeat, ensemble pieces in the hopes that we could retain the crowd. The crowd that was pretty much ignoring us to focus on each other (which is to be expected, since we were background music to their function), but we'd rather they be around than not.

The rest of the set went well, and then it became my turn. I started to play and went about five notes before I noticed that I was in the wrong key. I managed to transition to the right key and kept going. The first real problem that I encountered was me getting a bit cocky. The first part of the solo was going really well. Then I started on the Canon and went through the opening two iterations almost flawlessly.

Earlier in the day, I spent sometime studying with Anthony. While I was there, I played my solo for him, hoping that he could give me some pointers. He did, primarily suggesting that I add an additional chord to part of the tapping piece, as well as filling out the Canon piece by simultaneously hitting the bass notes top of the melody.

Having gone through it twice without even a slight hitch, I thought I'll go for the bass notes. Bad idea. The first stanza succeeded, the second started to falter and the third was a complete failure. I got out of it by tapping my way through an series of arpeggios down the start of the thump section.

At that point, Brett jumped in on drums and we started to improv together for a bit. Then I told him to drop off and I rounded it back to the opening tap theme, throwing in the additional chord for good measure (that one I could do).

Then Brett had his solo and we were pretty much through with our set. Having a half hour or so left to play, we played several more improv pieces and then reran a song or two. I think that most of the people had a good time.

I know that I would do another one of those shows again in a heartbeat. The crowd wasn't all that into it, but we got paid a ridiculous amount, had fun and picked up some good experience in the process. It's easy to get people into your shows when there are a few hundred people hanging around, but it's really hard to get three people all by themselves to get into your playing. Learning how to do that, though, makes getting the hundreds all the more easy.

Posted by Casper at 09:56 PM | Comments (0)

Jessica Simpson vs Simon Cowell

A new rivalry, perhaps?

Simpson instantly became a household name for her many ditzy quips, including her failure to identify chicken from tuna - which AMERICAN IDOL judge Cowell believes was staged.

He says, "The odd thing about the music industry is that here's a girl who's career wasn't exactly on fire and then she goes on television, pretends that she thinks that CHICKEN OF THE SEA is actually chicken and on the back of that sells two million records. It's weird, isn't it?"

I'm rather tempted just to let the two twits have at each other for a few rounds and then shoot the victor.

Thanks to Simon for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

Simon on Avril (again!)

Avril Lavigne reckons that she's matured and so have her fans:

"That's important to me ... writing about things I'm going through at the age I'm at. My fans are pretty much like my age."

Oh, yeah? What sort of twenty year old would go down the Mall to see a free performance from a teenscenster, Avril?

Posted by Casper at 02:30 PM | Comments (0)

File sharing helps bands

As the band Moe found out, online music trading can help a band out.

The first time Moe played San Francisco, the band didn't have a song on the radio. It didn't have a video; it didn't even have a record deal. Yet the group sold out the 750-seat Great American Music Hall.

The secret to Moe's success? A community of West Coast music fans had been trading tapes of the New York band's concerts, duplicating bootlegged recordings and distributing them to friends. The members of Moe never saw a dime off those concert tapes, but they arrived in San Francisco to a full house.

Thanks to Brad for the link.

Posted by Casper at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

Acid Reflux affects singing

Just a PSA for any singers out there. It happened to the dude from Darkness....

Posted by Casper at 04:54 AM | Comments (1)

One way to build a classical audience

So how many standing ovations do you think a modern - as in still living - composer of orchestral music could get in one night? The answer, as I saw it the other evening at the first live concert of video game music in the United States, is upwards of five, because after that I lost track. And while this might have been a wonderful bridge between generations, a pseudo-classical concert for the kids, I'm also worried that the musical establishment will, in response, just get angrier and more elitist.

I've never been to a symphony concert so giddy with palpable, almost insane excitement. Nobody's parents were in sight, the participants were young and willing, and the adolescent spirit of the whole event came complete with a premature ejaculation of cheering and applause the instant the first song started. Being there (I am a fan, myself), being part of the crowd who jumped to their feet and hollered their appreciation and who took multitudes of photos, even though photography was forbidden, I suddenly thought of the refrain - "why can't we get kids into the concert halls?" And that question was silly, meaningless, because here they were, in their Korn t-shirts and their yellow sneakers, filling the place (tickets sold out in 72 hours), experiencing an orchestra that honestly looked bewildered, maybe even envious, at the response their performance received.

How was this managed? By the LA Philharmonic playing the theme music from the video game, Final Fantasy.

While this does sound a bit dubious, there's some things to take away from this for any musician. Just because the source of some type of music might not be as "acceptable" or "appropriate" as other more well established fare does not mean that it is either illegitimate or unwanted by an audience. In fact, there just might be a brand new audience just waiting to be found.

Posted by Casper at 04:49 AM | Comments (0)

Another abyssmally late night

Tonight was another ridiculously late night at work (there have been far too many of them lately). I know that there are reasons for this; I also know that none of them are good.

I did notice something tonight, though. I seem to be spending a lot of my time in this management slot working on ways to get around problems that other people are causing rather than actually solving the customer's business needs. Rather frustrating that.

Anyway, the blogging might be a bit on the light side for tomorrow, since I plan to sleep in for a bit.

Posted by Casper at 04:02 AM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2004

Okay, I get it now

I was driving back to work tonight (yes, there are times when my day job really sucks) and I caught a little of the local smooth jazz station on the radio. There was some sax player working through a tune. It had a decent enough driving thump to it, so I thought I'd give it a bit more time. If only I had changed the station.

It turns out that it was Eric Singleton (remixed by XL) doing his version of Take Five. I don't know if it was Singleton's treatment or XL's, but they made the song 4/4. Jeez! That completely defeats the point of Take Five; one of the major accomplishments of the tune was the breezy and grooving way that it made a 5/4 time feel both normal and natural. Making it 4/4 throws away Brubeck's genius.

And therein lies one of the major reasons why a lot of jazz cats dislike the smooth variant.

Posted by Casper at 11:05 PM | Comments (0)

Some new Van Halen tunes

Van Halen's upcoming Best Of CD will feature three new songs. All three new tunes are to be sung by Sammy Hagar.

Posted by Casper at 03:15 PM | Comments (0)

Digital Monies

Some good ideas on additional revenue streams in today's marketspace:

This digital era allows content owners to make money off the footage that didn’t make the cut. Loyal fans of successful TV shows, hit movies and established bands will pay money for content they cannot get elsewhere. Artists will be able to make money on songs that never made it to a CD, or perhaps video footage that never made it on MTV/VH1 along with concert footage and backstage/bus footage. ... The revenue possibilities are endless in this digital age, and the opportunity is at hand to monetize these valuable content assets.

Thanks to Gerd for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

There is no god

David Hasslehoff and Ice-T are going to do a rap album?

Posted by Casper at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

Some musicians name their child strangely

It's not just actresses naming their children "Apple." Nope, musicians almost have a corner on the market.

Posted by Casper at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

Madonna changes her lyrics

I'm thinking this is a pretty strong sign of her decline...

MADONNA has changed the lyrics to her hit single Vogue to honour today's musical starlets. Instead of name-checking Garbo and Monroe on her forthcoming world tour, the Material Girl will reportedly sing: "Britney Spears and Minogue, Aguilera and J-Lo, Jessica Simpson, Avril Lavigne, on the cover of a magazine. They have style, they have sass, Missy E kicks some ass!"

Thanks to Lindsey for the tip.

-- Update --
Adding to the decline of Madonna, Simon comments on the "new and improved" stage show:

Further evidence that time has moved on and left Madonna looking more than a little desperate comes with the news that she's planning to make her new stage show "the most shocking yet" - we think she means shocking as in "good god, that's shaking the very foundations of everything I hold dear", but it looks more like it'll be shocking as in "the state of traffic in Brighton city centre these days is just shocking": Simulated lesbian sex (yawn), images of war on a big screen ("note to self: see if Bono has finished with Zoo tour video"), Madonna being strapped in an electric chair (hands up who else liked No Doubt's It's My Life promo) and "a parade of scantily-clad pregnant women" - one for Patrick from Coupling there, then.

If you needed any more proof that Madonna isn't Madonna any more - they're having to leak the details to the papers in a bid to try and get anyone interested at all.

Posted by Casper at 12:28 AM | Comments (0)

Marketing arts and culture

This article is focused more on the traditional arts and culture, but it's also rather applicable to marketing any kind of music.

A key element of convincing potential audiences to choose you over their other opportunities for money, time, and attention, is 'managing evidence'. Since people cannot make an informed decision about an experience they haven't yet had, they must rely on other evidence to help them make their choice. That evidence isn't just your web site or brochure or even media reviews (although that's a big one for some art and media forms). That evidence includes every past experience they've had with an art form, an organization, an artist, or a cultural destination. That evidence includes what their friends and mentors and parents have to say. That evidence includes the resonance of your message with what they already understand, or want, or need. Ultimately, that evidence plays against their entire life experience up to the moment they engage your message, your art, and your organization.

Posted by Casper at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2004

FoI pre-show

Tonight, the three of us congregated over at Shahin's place to do the final run through of the set. We each played our solos for each other, so we would know what to expect. Shahin will probably be playing two during the gig. Tonight, I learned that we are playing for two hours, not one and a half. But for this kind of money, I'm not complaining.

I think that we're still several songs light for the amount of time that we'll be playing, but I think we have one or two possible solutions:

  1. Do some improv, just winigng it as we go
  2. After the set break, announce over the mike that "we've had some requests to repeat some of the songs from the first set, so we're going to do what we can to make our fans happy"
  3. Wing our way through some of the originals that we only half (or a quarter) know

In case I have to do more, I worked out most of Victor Wooten's rendition of Amazing Grace (with all the harmonics). Trust me, it's nowhere close to even approaching the same zip code as Vic's version, but it will allow us to eat up a five of six minutes.

Posted by Casper at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

Simon Cowell speaks

Simon, from American Idol, does the 20 questions thing.

HEFFERNAN Several of the "American Idol" performers have gospel in their pasts, and in interviews they make frequent references to God. What do you make of the religious element to the show?

COWELL Well, you know the answer to the question, don't you? Obviously a lot of people are using it to gain votes. Come on. You know that, and I know that. I also don't like the constant dedications to children. Give me a break. Like Fantasia, who has an edge on her. I think she's used her kid twice now in the show. And you just think: "Enough. You're now behaving like a politician rather than a pop star." It all becomes a bit gruesome.

Posted by Casper at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

Me and my fellow geeks are screwed

Soda causes cancer?!? Then what the @)#$* are we supposed to drink a half case of a day? Beer?

Thanks to Lindsey for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 04:35 PM | Comments (0)

A famous not-funny joke

As performed by Cartman from South Park.

...[T]he world's filthiest joke. The joke, known as the "Aristocrats" is one of the longest running in-jokes in the standup comedy industry, being passed amoungst comedians backstage for years. The joke, which is not really funny (which is part of the joke - you see), is about a family auditioning for a talent show using the most obscene behaviour possible.

Thanks to TMFTML for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

A preview of Joey

If you were wondering what the Friends spin off Joey is going to be like (and I know that some of you are), here's a sneak peek.

Really. This version could happen....

Posted by Casper at 03:51 PM | Comments (0)

Wonderfalls unaired episodes?

It would seem that there are at least three full length epsiodes floating about on the web (mostly via bit torrent). However, at least one place has them. Only problem here is that two of the episodes don't seem to play nicely with Windows Media Player.

Thanks to Frank for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 02:17 PM | Comments (2)

Jessica Simpson on TV update

Her sitcom didn't get picked up (everyone now, "Awww, darn it"), but at least she'll be making commercials for breath mints.

Posted by Casper at 02:11 PM | Comments (0)

The war might be over

If this is any indication, the whole online music war might just be over.

More than half of young Americans with Internet access continue to download free music even though they know that they are breaking the law, according to a poll released today.

Eighty-eight percent of the respondents know that most popular music is copyrighted, but 56 percent download it anyway, according to the survey of 1,183 children, ages eight to 18. The survey also found that more kids worry about downloading computer viruses with their songs than about getting in trouble with the law.

Okay, so when over half of the up and coming generation of music consumers choose to download music -- even while knowing it's wrong -- that should be a pretty darn strong indication that the music industry needs to wake up from it's sporific slumber and find the way to answer this need rather than attempting to sue it out of existance (an approach otherwise known as the "ostrich method" -- if we keep our head in the sand, those new fangled thingees won't stop us from following our present business model).

Posted by Casper at 01:40 PM | Comments (0)

Simon on Creed

Someone has pinched four guitars from Creed. "What did God do about it, eh?" asks Playlouder. Answered everybody elses's prayers, surely?

Posted by Casper at 01:35 PM | Comments (0)

And here I thought it was a calculated effort

Avril Lavigine is claiming that the anger on her latest album comes from not eating well.

Lavigne, who is currently promoting her new album, Under My Skin, says she was "eating bad stuff, lots of sugar and carbohydrates, junk food all the time."

The Canadian singer added: "It makes you very irritated. I spent some time with a nutritionist and learned I had low blood sugar. Now I eat accordingly."

It couldn't have anything to do with angry lyrics selling better, now could it?

Posted by Casper at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

Britney overcome by tears

Britney Spears rushed off of stage in Berlin even before the last song was finished in tears. Hopefully, everything's okay, and it was only her realizing that she's ripping her fans off by denying people the privilege of hearing her sing, as opposed to lip synching.

Posted by Casper at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

Fighting music piracy with garbage

Two researchers out in Oklahoma have patented a way of foiling file sharing by injecting distortion into the datastream.

Downloading music, movies or software illegally might become less appealing if every third song or film scene was suddenly interrupted by white noise or worse, announcements urging "next time, pay for what you take!"

This "gotcha" technique - circulating flawed or reproving digital copies of songs on the Internet - has been tried in some form by a few pop stars hoping to thwart online music piracy. Two weeks ago, a University of Tulsa professor and a former graduate student of his won a patent for software that analyzes and monitors illegal music swapping on file-sharing networks, and then systematically inserts decoy files into the mix.

Posted by Casper at 12:03 PM | Comments (0)

Lower price = more sales

I know this is hard to believe, but lowering the price on items leads to more sales.

Posted by Casper at 11:34 AM | Comments (0)

Radio DJs make a difference

A useful little chart showing the impact of radio DJs on music sales.

Posted by Casper at 11:19 AM | Comments (0)

A great drummer moves on

Elvin Jones, best known for his work with John Coltrane, died yesterday in NYC.

Posted by Casper at 10:42 AM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2004

Not much blogging today

Some bad Thai food from last night isn't quite tasting as good as it did the first time around.

Posted by Casper at 12:38 PM | Comments (0)

All alone

I think I've finished stringing together the solo piece for Friday's show. So far, I've got a tap opener, which bridges into Pachelbel's Canon in D. From there, it transitions into a thump/tap section and then returns to the theme of the opener. It's rather sloppy right now, as my technique isn't quite up to what I'm playing yet. Now that I've written the piece, though, I can work on improving my hand motions.

I'm planning on playing this for Anthony tomorrow to get his criticism and suggestions for improvement.

Posted by Casper at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

A good article on record contracts

USA Today (of all places) has a good overview on some of the ins-and-outs of record contracts.

The record business abounds with tragic lore of music pioneers cheated out of earnings by predatory managers and labels. Today's industry is cleaner but still too byzantine to seal any deal with a handshake. And no aspect is thornier than royalties, which lend record contracts a Rube Goldberg complexity and cause for conflicts.

If you want more information on this subject, check out either All You Need To Know About The Music Business or Confessions Of A Record Producer.

Thanks to Joe for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:22 AM | Comments (0)

One of the reasons why I love the Daily Show

Jon Stewart is one funny guy. I know you've seen this quote before, but it's still great.

You fix this thing, you’re the next greatest generation, people. You do this—and I believe you can—you win this war on terror, and Tom Brokaw’s kissing your ass from here to Tikrit, let me tell ya. And even if you don’t, you’re not gonna have much trouble surpassing my generation. If you end up getting your picture taken next to a naked guy pile of enemy prisoners and don’t give the thumbs up you’ve outdid us.

We declared war on terror. We declared war on terror—it’s not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I’m sure we’ll take on that bastard ennui.

And, just to add that extra special CM goodness, one more:

I am honored to be here, I do have a confession to make before we get going that I should explain very quickly. When I am not on television, this is actually how I dress. I apologize, but there’s something very freeing about it. I congratulate the students for being able to walk even a half a mile in this non-breathable fabric in the Williamsburg heat. I am sure the environment that now exists under your robes, are the same conditions that primordial life began on this earth. ...

I am honored to be here and to receive this honorary doctorate. When I think back to the people that have been in this position before me from Benjamin Franklin to Queen Noor of Jordan, I can’t help but wonder what has happened to this place. Seriously, it saddens me. As a person, I am honored to get it; as an alumnus, I have to say I believe we can do better. And I believe we should. But it has always been a dream of mine to receive a doctorate and to know that today, without putting in any effort, I will. It’s incredibly gratifying. Thank you. That’s very nice of you, I appreciate it.

Posted by Casper at 12:03 AM | Comments (0)

May 17, 2004

Hung more than Backstreet Boys

William Hung out ranks the Backstreet Boys.

The Backstreet Boys were congregating backstage at Saturday's Wango Tango On-Air festival when a herd of security guards nearly tumbled them.

"They were like, 'Move out of the way, get up against the wall,' " Nick Carter recalled later, smiling and likely embellishing a bit. "And then William Hung came through."

Posted by Casper at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

Glenn! Glenn! Glennnn!

I just saw a commerical for Starbucks double shot expresso in a can. It featured the 80's group Survivor singing a little ditty about a guy named Glen. To the tune of Eye Of The Tiger

Glen!
Glen Glen Glen!
Glen Glen Glennnnn!

Glen's the man
Goin' to work
Got his tie,
Got ambition

He knows one day he just might become
Supervisor....

You really have to see this. They're dolled up in leather pants and bright silk shirts, playing the song as Glen goes to work.

The years have not been kind to them, but at least they have work.

And, as a side note, if anyone can find the audio to this, I'd love to have it for work....

-- Update --
I managed to find a clip online.

Posted by Casper at 08:22 PM | Comments (2)

A coda to a career

How would you like this little gem affixed to your name:

Lionel Richie, the father of the reality star Nicole Richie, appears on ABC tonight to introduce "Motown 45," a celebration of the 45th anniversary of that Detroit label.

Not that he was all that great once he left the Commodores, but still, give the man some credit for what career he did have....

Posted by Casper at 02:52 PM | Comments (0)

Blog survey

If you have a little bit of time, drop by here and take a short survey. When you get to question #22, please put me (Chromatic Musings) in there so I can track the results. Thanks....

Posted by Casper at 02:49 PM | Comments (1)

Ringtone business in jeopardy

I find the ringing noise of cell phones to be rather annoying. Add to the annoyance level something "musical" like a cell phone playing Beethoven's 9th, or Crazy Train, and I hit choking-someone levels of irritation. But, some people like them, and are willing to pay good money to get them.

And there was much rejoicing in the land of the music labels. However, the party may be ending.

The quest for a distinctive cell phone ring has created a $3 billion global market for everything from computer-generated renditions of such classics as The Temptations ``Just My Imagination,'' to near-CD-quality snippets of popular songs like OutKast's ``Hey Ya!.''

Ringtones are brisk business in Europe and Japan. They're catching on fast in the United States, where sales are expected to reach $140 million by year's end, according to market research firm Yankee Group.

But just as the record labels have begun hailing ringtones as a welcome windfall to help offset free-falling CD sales, along comes Xingtone.

Posted by Casper at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

Online music provider survey

Brad over at Digital Music Weblog has provided an overview of all the major online music providers.

Posted by Casper at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

An alternate copyright proposal

William Fisher, one of the many professors up at Harvard, is proposing a new way to handle copyrights and licensing. It's a bit of a long read, but worthwhile.

...[T]he government would raise, through taxes sufficient money to compensate registrants for making their works available to the public. Using techniques pioneered by American and European performing rights organizations and television ratings services, a government agency would estimate the frequency with which each song and film was heard or watched by consumers.

I rather disagree with his overall concept (which shouldn't be all that suprising, given my rather libertarian leanings). I do not think that both the inherent inefficiencies of governmental bodies and the rife opportunity for politically motivated corruption that would come with the heavy hand of taxation would be the best way to address this issue. The marketplace will get there, slowly but surely; there are already signs to that effect.

Posted by Casper at 01:55 PM | Comments (0)

Walk on the left

I don't know if this is just a DC thing. Here in the district, we have a, well, a protocol for using the escalators coming in and out of the Metro stations: If you're just going to ride, stand on the right. If you're going to walk, move to the left.

You can always tell when it's tourist season, because the left hand side of the escalators fill up. I try to be polite in those situations, but it can get on your nerves after a while.

But one of the things about which I am curious is if this is just a DC thing. Do the same rules hold in NYC? If so, I'm not aware of it. Or are they reversed Coriolis-style in Sydney?

Posted by Casper at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

Simon on Britney and Sex

Britney Spears has apparently told German FHM that she doesn't think she's sexy in the least, which you can see in the way she takes the stage dressed in any old thing. She also claims to have "secretly been just as sexually active as Janet Jackson", which makes it sound like they're comparing notes or something. Unless "as sexually active as Janet Jackson" has become a new half-way staging post between virgin and slut: "I've broken my chastity pledge, but I won't sleep with just anyone. I'm only as sexually active as Janet Jackson." Spears elucidates further:

"But as far as sex goes, I've done similar things to what Janet Jackson has done."

Which we think means she's shagged James DeBarge, which is a frightening thought.

Posted by Casper at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

Sayonora, Jimmy

Apparently, this weekend was the last show for SNL's Jimmy Fallon. Good luck with whatever comes next, Jimmy.

Posted by Casper at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

A way for women to succeed

If you want to make it as a woman in the music business, be angry.

Ms. Morissette and Ms. Lavigne tapped one of pop's secret mother lodes: the suppressed female anger at what men get away with. There's an eager market for songs in which women strike back. At Dixie Chicks concerts, the loudest cheers greet "Goodbye Earl," about a wife who murders her abusive husband.

Posted by Casper at 12:19 AM | Comments (0)

A great overview on the copyright issue

A law professor at UVa has written a great write up on the history of copyright law and some of the conflicts that have been going on for the last century or so. Absolutely worth the time to read it.

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2004

Rush's new album

Rush will be releasing a new CD at the end of June. This disc will be a departure from all of their previous records, as this one will be all covers of other artist's work.

Posted by Casper at 11:59 PM | Comments (1)

Van Helsing

I have seen what may be a perfect movie. Van Helsing should be shown in film schools as an object lesson; both in what not to ever do and in how to cram as many clichés into a two hour span as possible.

There is nothing good to say about this movie. I knew it was going to be bad when I went into the theatre (I was hoping for at least some good CGI and effects), but I had no idea it was going to be Battlefield Earth kind of bad. Really, you almost have to see this to appreciate the true atrociousness of this cinema piece. Don't, but you know what I mean.

I would honestly expect a movie this bad to be a career killer for some of the people involved. Not Beckingsale, as this is the second bad vampire movie in which she has been involved in a row. But this may be the last we see of Jackman for a while (at least until X-Men 3).

If someone asks you to go and see this movie, they are not your friend. Watch time :24.

Posted by Casper at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

JoS @ Laughing Lizard Lounge

Tonight, I dropped in on JoS at their latest show. I had never been to the Laughing Lizard before (which is ironic, considering that I lived up the street for about two years). It's not the worst place I've ever played, but I wasn't particularly blown away by it. The acoustic of the room were actually pretty good, but the lighting left a little to be desired (a single pole with two cans using a blue gel on it).

Rob pulled the first set, and I sat in for some of the remainder of the show. When I got to the show, there were a few people hanging around the bar, listening to the set.

After the set break, Rob and I chatted for a bit, then I got up to play. The set list had me singing some pretty hard parts right out of the box, but I think that I managed to pull the vocal okay. I had been rehearsing with FoI earlier in the day, so I was plenty warmed up on bass (fortunately).

The crowd sort of came and went throughout the evening. We never had all that many people, but we were never alone, either. One guy in particular (thanks again, Jon) was completely into everything that we did. He even asked us to autograph the demo CD when we finished up for the night.

Posted by Casper at 02:17 AM | Comments (0)

May 15, 2004

FoI rehearsal

I got together with Shahin and Brett to do some more practicing in preparation for Friday's show. We went over the set list a few times, and then we worked on tightening up some of the more problematic tunes.

One of the issues we noticed is that Brett is having problems hearing the looper unless it's so loud that it's going to affect the overall performance. After some tooling around, we found an amp that allowed him to use headphone to stay in time with the looped track without cutting out the main speaker. I decided that I was going to talk with Ryan (from JoS) and see if we could borrow a pair of speakers and his powered head to use instead; that we could run one speak as the main and the other as a monitor. Brett could then turn the monitor volume to whatever works for him while the main speaker runs at a more balanced volume.

The problem here is that we are using a looper as a poor man's sequencer. The more "proper" solution to this approach is to use a sequencer to create each individual part, and use a MIDI out to keep a drum machine locked to the time. That way, we would have significantly more flexibility for programming, we could parcel out the parts into individual tracks and then have a dedicated click track for Brett to help him stay in time.

Otherwise, we had a good time working on the parts. We also spent some effort on the individual solos. For this show, we don't quite have enough material to make it all the way through the night without repeating. We are already planning on stretching out the tunes (it's instrumental, so easy to do) as well as just doing some improv pieces, but we've decided that each of us are going to play an stand alone solo.

This will be my first one of these. I've been working on at least a part of it for the past few days. So far, I'm doing a tapped melody/chord type of thing, and then I'm going to go to a rhythmic thumping routine. How I'm going to get from the one to the other, I haven't quite worked out just yet. If I can manage it, I'm going to try and record the result (which I'll then post, natch).

Posted by Casper at 10:19 PM | Comments (0)

A history of the electric guitar

It's actually an interesting read. And it's always good to understand from whence we came.

Thanks to David for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

JoS @ Lord Culpeper

Tonight, the three of us headed out to Culpeper VA for a last minute show from James Turner (our booking agent). Culpeper is out there. Like an hour and forty minute drive one way kind of out there.

This was the first time I had ever set foot in Culpeper. It reminds me quite a bit of my hometown, and I don't mean that as a compliment. If you ever want to watch the mating habits of the moden day redneck, this would be a good place to start.

The venue itself was in the basement of a restaurant/hotel/bed & breakfast. Seven foot ceilings, with a rather out of place nautical theme as the decor. While we set up, there was probably a half a dozen people hanging out. Unforunately, that was going to be our crowd for the first set.

The management also asked us to turn down. When I say turn down, you really need to understand what I mean here. We were down so low that I could clearly hear the conversation of the group of people at the other end of the bar over our playing.

As the night wore on, more people came in and the energy (and volume) picked up. For some reason, the bar didn't seem to like this, though. As people would get up and dance for a bit, one of the bouncers would come over and talk to them and they would go sit back down. I have no idea what he said to them, but it happened pretty consistently. Maybe this is another place that doesn't allow dancing. I had always thought that Footloose was just a fictional movie from the 80's. Silly me.

Towards the end of the night, we reran a few songs at the request of the audience. Normally, I hate to do that, but tonight we made the exception because we needed to fill some music as well as get any kind of reaction from the crowd. One of the tunes that we repeated was Sweet Home Alabama (which has to be one of my more hated songs -- only three more times do I have to play it!). As we were playing it, a group came into the bar. They apparently share my distate; they wrote us a note saying

We have been all over this town trying to get away from this song, and we came into here and you're playing it. So we have to head on out now.

Believe me, I share the sentiment.

Posted by Casper at 03:45 AM | Comments (1)

May 14, 2004

Filesharing not the enemy

Some more thoughts on file sharing:

"That's the heart of this debate. In our experience, we've found that downloading both hurts and aids the sales of CDs, and it's pretty much a wash."

Posted by Casper at 04:04 PM | Comments (0)

Another Japanese video

This time, how to fold a shirt. This clip is becoming very popular as people marvel, wondering just how does she do it.

Posted by Casper at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

Atlantic hefting the ax

Quite a few bands (3rd Eye Blind amongst them) are being shown the door by Atlantic records.

Posted by Casper at 03:07 PM | Comments (0)

Mp3 player compatibililty

A handy dandy little chart that compares mp3 players to the various services and formats.

Posted by Casper at 02:12 PM | Comments (0)

Take 6 in DC

Take 6 may be scheduling another date in DC. However, I can't verify it on either their site or on the Kenndy Center's site.

Posted by Casper at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

RIAA fudging numbers

It seems like the RIAA is being just a litle on the deceptive side when it comes to reporting album sales.

That's 13,000,000 more units, almost a 10% increase in sales since last year. He also confessed that 1st quarter "album sales" (as opposed to overall sales) had increased 9.4% since 2003.

What gives? Didn't Cary Sherman recently attest to the "fact" that there was a "7% decrease in revenue since last year." (This quote was taken from Mr. Sherman's speech to Financial Times Media at a Broadcasting Conference in London.) ...

[The representative from SoundScan said] "The RIAA reports a sale as a unit SHIPPED to record stores. Whereas Soundscan reports units sold [to the consumer] at the point of purchase. So, you're talking about apples and oranges."

A great article. A must read, if you will.

Posted by Casper at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

Alicia gets the job

Alicia Keys ended up getting the acting job. Sorry, Christina...

Posted by Casper at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

Simon on Avril

Avril Lavigne has decided that it's time to quit her native Canada, for the odd reason that "it's too cold" (Tomorrow, Toronto is expected to be a chilly 21 celsius overnight, while Montreal is looking at a chilly 24 during the day on Sunday). Presumably, she's using the "weather" excuse to hide the truth, that she's a bit vacuous and wants to live in a shiny town where they make films and you can get sushi at any time of the day and night and the shoeshops are large. But in case any Canadians feel a bit miffed that she's pulling a Lennon ("pulling a Lennon: to mythologise a birthplace you flee as soon as your bank account allows you; to continue to express your love of a place despite wild horses not being enough to drag you back there"), she has pledged that she'll bring up her kids "to visit Canada. See? How bad can it be if she'll let her children treat it as a vacation location?

Posted by Casper at 02:11 AM | Comments (0)

A good chuckle...

The UB40 official website has a wonderful picture of the band's severed heads roasting in Hell - this is the only good thing I can say about them. UB40 were a testimony to the unifying power of reggae - as in their hands any song, be it country, rock or AOR, sounds basically the same. A mid-tempo shuffle ornamented with Campbell's graceless Brummie whine, the music of UB40 brings to mind fag ash floating in half-drunk cans of stale Red Stripe and joints made out of tea leaves.

Thanks for the laugh, Tonya.

Posted by Casper at 02:01 AM | Comments (2)

MP3.com's founder comments on the rebirth

Michael Robertson voices his thoughts on the new version of the site.

”At the time I started MP3.com none of the music sites had any music. They talked about music and had pictures of musicians, but were largely silent. The few that had any music had very low quality (think early real audio) 30 second clips and even then it was only for bands that paid.

”Ironically, MP3.com has now been transformed to be like those early music sites that were around before I started MP3.com. Namely a music site that talks about music and has pictures of music rather than focusing on zapping music digitally through the internet. Life sure takes interesting twists.”

Would this be one of those sites that talk about music rather than zapping it around? To a large degree, yes. There is some music on this site, but most of the content that I produce is written. I think the written stuff is still pretty decent (if I may be so immodest), but it can always be better.

Posted by Casper at 01:31 AM | Comments (0)

May 13, 2004

Late night

I pulled an all nighter last night at my day job. I'm not as young as I used to be; I can remember pulling one of these and then doing a regular full day. This time, I was just about hallucinating on the drive home.

But, on the plus side, I managed to drop by the new WWII Memorial at about 3am. I rather like visiting the momuments on the Mall at night. The night really sets off the architecture. At the abyssmal hours of the wee mornings, there's no one around and there's a nearly overpowering feeling of peace. If you are interested, here are some photos that I took of the new memorial.

And, as a side note, I slept in (can't imagine why), so I'm just now getting caught up for the day.

Posted by Casper at 11:42 PM | Comments (2)

Fire On Ice rehearsal

Tonight, I got together with Shahin and Brett to get ready for the upcoming show. We went over most of the set liist (although we didn't quite make it all the way through). Some of the tunes really came together. We reworked some of the old songs that we did back in the A&S days to fit the new instrumentation. It's starting to come together; the three of us are listening better and getting a lock on each other's playing.

We also decided on a name for the band. Fire On Ice. The website will follow soon.

Posted by Casper at 10:21 PM | Comments (1)

A strong defense

Eppy lets a pompous critic have it who is making "The Case Against Rock And Pop" (you can hear the capital letters as the guy writes). I've been sitting on this for a few days, trying to come up with something intelligent to add to this, but I can't. He's pretty much covered the bases (and did a darn good job in the process).

Posted by Casper at 04:14 AM | Comments (0)

Crossing over

Two more singers try to make the jump to acting. Unfortunately, they are both good singers. If they're trying to diversify, that can't be good news.

Posted by Casper at 04:11 AM | Comments (0)

May 12, 2004

Some new Flecktones dates

More dates have been announced. DC area shows now include

July 4: Acme, PA (Love and Music)
Aug 29: Columbia, MD (Merriweather Post Pavillion)
Aug 31: Norfolk, VA (Harbor Center)
Sep 1: Richmond, VA (Brown's Island)
Oct 2: Easton, PA (State Theater)

A word about the middle three dates; the Flecktones site calls this "Acoustic Planet" tour. Acoustic Planet just happens to be the name a solo CD from Bela. So I'm not sure as to what these dates are or are not going to be.

Posted by Casper at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

Mp3.com not so good

I haven't made it over to mp3.com since they reopened for business, but it doesn't appear that I'm missing all that much.

Posted by Casper at 07:18 PM | Comments (0)

The sanctity of the set list

The other night, I was chatting with one of the guys in the band, and we started talking about the set list. It got me to thinking about set lists in general, their purpose and their utility.

The purpose of a set list should be fairly obvious; to have a semblance of order to a show, so that every member of the band knows what song is to be played at what time. Kind of what's on my mind right now is the fidelity to which that list must be paid.

I have played in bands were the set list was God and we all conformed to it, rehearsing the same songs in the same order over and over for weeks. On the one hand, it was a very put together show, with spot on transitions and good flow. On the other hand, we kinda had to hope that the crowd liked the order and flow of the songs; otherwise, it was going to be a long night (and there were more than a few of those).

Other times I have played, there was no set list whatsoever. The band leader would signal the key of the tune: 2 fingers up to indicate D (2 sharps), 3 fingers down for E flat (3 flats). He would flash his fingers, start a tune and all of us joined in (either we actually knew the song, or we just faked our way through it good enough). Since we were mostly playing standards and the usual workhorses, we could get by just fine.

For myself, I'm find that both of the above examples are a bit extreme. I prefer to write up the set list just before going on stage. This allows us to check out the crowd at the venue, take into account how we each are feeling and adjust the set accordingly. I think that a band should have a number of transitions and combinations worked out in advance that can be plugged in where they're appropriate and dropped when they're not.

One of the shows that I played recently is kind of a case in point. We had a written out set list for three sets. The first set we played as written, since the crowd was completely ignoring us (basically a paid practice). The second set, though, had people up and dancing, with a good energy to them. That energy fed us as well. So we stripped tunes from all over the place, trying to keep them in the groove. It worked, but it meant completely throwing out the written list. All things being equal, that's a good trade.

Posted by Casper at 06:30 PM | Comments (0)

Another royalty battle

Actually, this is something that have I wondered about (sometimes, I have too much free time on my hands). If you were to record a public domain song (like Amazing Grace or Pachelbel's Canon in D major), what happens to the songwriter's cut of the royalty check? Does it get deducted (probably) and, if so, to whom does the money go? Well, it seems that there is an answer to the question:

"When a song is in the public domain and you record it, it's standard practice in the music industry to say 'adapted and arranged by' whoever sings it," Seeger said in a recent interview. "Why let the record company keep all the royalties? They didn't write the song."

But who did? The answer isn't always clear. Seeger said he was once told by Joseph Shabalala of the South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo that when the word "traditional" is used, "it means the money stays in New York."

So there you go....

Posted by Casper at 04:49 PM | Comments (0)

Simon on David Cassidy

In the list of pop stars you'd expect to go slightly nuts, David Cassidy would seem an unlikely figure. Even so, he managed to pull off the trick of pissing off the Welsh while playing a gig at Cardiff International Arena. It's not bad enough that he demanded total silence during one song, or stopped playing 'I Think I Love You' because - horror of horrors, fans were singing along - but he also took the piss out the Welsh accent and observed that he didn't know how people could live in Wales "without slitting your wrists." The official line is that "the weather was getting to him and he was exhausted" - so, apparently, if David Cassidy gets caught in the rain he turns into a pompous prick.

Posted by Casper at 04:48 PM | Comments (5)

Some changes to the schedule

One or two shows have been added as well as one or two dropped. Hope to see you out at one of them.

Posted by Casper at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

I guess her skin isn't all "smoothy" anymore

Jennifer Capriati over the years.

Bonus points if you get the reference in the title.

Posted by Casper at 01:09 PM | Comments (0)

Invention/Innovation/Diffusion

An interesting article about inventing new things as oppsed to innovating with existing concepts.

...you can see a similar trinity of types in what artists and arts organizations do: 'invention' is the creation of radical new ways of saying and ways of seeing; 'innovation' is the preparation and packaging of those ideas to connect to an audience; 'diffusion' is the final delivery of that innovation and the economic models that keep it flowing. ...

This innovation and diffusion in the arts has been a glorious thing, to be sure, allowing more people access to more creative experiences in more places...in small towns and big cities. But what if we stepped back to ask how we might increase invention in the arts -- completely new ways of seeing, saying, and being -- rather than innovation? Then, it becomes essential that we know the difference. According to one column in the MIT issue by Michael Shrage (free registration required for access), that difference is fundamental and complete:

The simple truth is that the economics of invention are profoundly different from the economics of innovation. Being 'first to file' has nothing to do with being first to market. Being first to market has nothing to do with being first to profitability. Being first to profitability -- and this is key! -- has virtually nothing to do with how quickly, deeply, and ubiquitously an innovation spreads. In other words, there is no meaningful correlation -- let alone causality -- between a 'successful' act of invention and a 'successful' marketplace innovation. None. [Italics in the original]

Other articles in the issue suggest that big companies are not the ones to most successfully advance invention. In fact, in many ways, they are the worst. Big companies are overly responsible to their shareholders for maximizing gains (in the arts, substitute boards and donors and sustainability), leading them to emphasize innovation rather than invention. Further, because they aggressively seek their dominant niche (electronics, genetics, biomechanics, etc. -- in the arts think dance, theater, musical performance, etc.), they draw inflexible boundaries around the questions they ask, often missing the cross-connections where true invention may arise. [my emphasis added]

This trend has been pretty clearly borne out in the music industry. The major labels hardly ever discover anything new or radical. Being an A&R person is such a high risk endeavor that they are more likely to green light yet another act that happens to be really similar to an existing success (witness the horde of clones when Britney Spears became popular) rather than to try something genuinely new.

Want an example? Rap music quickly comes to mind. Russell Simmons sold albums out of the trunk of his car because no major label was willing to bat an eye at him until the economics of the situation forced them to jump aboard the train before it left the station.

The true changes in the music scene (both innovations and inventions) arise from the underground/indie scene. Always have, and probably always will. The majors are too risk adverse to take the kinds of chances that are required to come up with something genuinely new.

Posted by Casper at 12:30 PM | Comments (0)

Avril manless

Avril Lavigne is complaining about her lack of a boyfriend.

"I don't get out in public much but when I do, guys come over sometimes. Most of the time, though, I have bodyguards who push them away from me."

-- Update --
Always good for a chuckle, Simon voices a thought or two

So, Avril Lavigne reckons the reason why she doesn't have a boyfriend is because whenever guys try to get close to her, her minders push them away. You don't think it could be becase you're a twenty year old woman who dresses like she's twelve, and your songs give the impression that a conversation with you would never rise much above 'see spot run'?

Posted by Casper at 11:05 AM | Comments (0)

Whitehead shot and killed

John Whitehead, one half of the 70's R&B duo McFadden & Whitehead, was shot dead in Philadelphia last night.

Posted by Casper at 11:03 AM | Comments (0)

A followup to Super Size Me

In a response to Super Size Me, a journalist goes on an all McD's diet and loses weight.

Posted by Casper at 11:02 AM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2004

A closet bassist

Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) plays bass, in addition to his other accomplishments.

Thanks to Neil for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

If I was still DJing

I'd be all over these. Just like the SL-1200 MK-II's that I used to use (being a vinyl kind o' guy).

Posted by Casper at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

Sony's music property killing the electronics goose?

Cory has some interesting thoughts on Sony's business model -- particularly in the failure of the Connect service to be even vaguely user friendly.

Back from 1976-1984, Sony was the company that spent hundreds of millions on the defense of its VCR, bringing it all the way to the Supreme Court, arguing that the entertainment industry didn't have any right to its business-model; that if new technology could make the old business irrelevant, that was tough shit, and the movie companies needed to stop pewling and get with the program (they did, and made lots of money, besides).

But ever since Sony "acquired" Columbia, it's been acting like its electronics business was a minor business unit that couldn't afford to disrupt its precious entertainment arm (despite the fact that the entertainment arm's contributions to Sony's bottom line are minimal when compared to the gadget biz). When the first MP3 players appeared in the market, from little companies like Creative Labs, Sony brought out proprietary devices that played stupid formats like RealAudio and OpenAG, which no one wanted to hear. On the other hand, these formats did come with use-restrictions that kept Sony's music execs from getting too anxious and sad.

The result was that Creative Labs, a little outfit in Singapore, ate Sony's lunch, followed by a bunch of late diners to the table, including a bunch of no-name Korean companies, and most recently, Apple. Sony, who invented the walkman and made billions off of it, has now become an irrelevant player in the personal stereo market, with a market share that's barely a blip on the chart.

Posted by Casper at 11:38 AM | Comments (0)

Gloria Estefan hitting the road

Ms. Estefan will be touring the country for the latter part of the year, hitting major venues.

DC area shows:
Sept. 8: Washington, D.C. (MCI Center)
Sept. 10: Philadelphia (Wachovia Center)
Sept. 18: Atlantic City, N.J. (Taj Mahal)

Posted by Casper at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

The author reviews the film

A Wrinkle In Time (a book from my childhood) was made into a TV movie (it aired tonight, but I had a show and missed it). The author of the book had a pithy review:

NEWSWEEK: So you’ve seen the movie?

Madeleine L’Engle: I’ve glimpsed it.

And did it meet expectations?

Oh, yes. I expected it to be bad, and it is.

Thanks to Maude for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:08 AM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2004

JoS @ T.T. Reynolds

Tonight, the four of us went to T.T. Reynolds for their "New Music Fest" (AKA a battle of the bands). Tonight, there were only two contenders: JoS and Locust. Locust went up first. They played originals, in a melodic rock kind of vein.

We got up and went through our usual set list, but there wasn't much energy on stage. We were playing for free. If we won the Battle, we'd get the chance to come back and play again. For free. And if we won that night, we'd get some money and then get a weekend gig at T.T.'s. All in all, not quite enough to get my heart all a flutter. It didn't seem to be all that motivating for some of the other members of the band.

The crowd seemed to enjoy our set, but at the end of the night, Locust won the battle. Good show guys, and congrats again.

Posted by Casper at 10:45 PM | Comments (0)

Maybe a new NIN album?

Trent Razor is making preparations to release his next album.

Posted by Casper at 04:40 PM | Comments (0)

It's one way to get started

Even the rejects from American Idol seem to do pretty darn well for themselves, finding some success with record sales.

Posted by Casper at 04:30 PM | Comments (0)

A new pair of CCM blogs

Simon is plugging two blogs focusing on the Contempary Christian Music scene -- Music Spectrum and Mondevotions.

We were slightly surprised to get an email from a real live pastor asking if we'd be interested in recommending his sites on No Rock, mainly because we've always thought of ourselves as a godless hole. But we were surprised to find the two sites Music Spectrum, a review site, and Mondevotions, which uses music as the basis for a weekly sermon are actually pretty interesting. If you're interested in music from a Christian perspective, you might find some stuff to interest you here, whether you're holy or not.

I checked out both sites; they seem to be pretty well done with some good content. I rather liked the setup of Mondevotions, deconstructing the lyrics and comparing them to Biblical verse. CCM isn't my particular cup of tea, but I know that quite a few people enjoy it (especially since it's one of the better selling musical genres out today).

Posted by Casper at 01:28 PM | Comments (0)

Some interesting scales

Here's a web page listing some of the more interesting scales. I'm using some of these when I play with Shahin. The scales as written are for guitar, but they can be applied to a bass with a minimum of effort.

Posted by Casper at 01:05 PM | Comments (0)

Today's healthy dose of surrealism

A Japanese commerical for soy sauce. I like Neil Gaiman's take on it:

I am certain that this TV commercial for Soy sauce would be much less interesting if I could make sense out of it (cat-headed shrimps: why? the cat who hangs itself: why? the little girl who goes to bed with him at the end: why?) As it is, it becomes a zen cohen: what is the sound of one fish-headed soy-superhero clapping...?

It's truly bizarre.

Posted by Casper at 10:56 AM | Comments (1)

More news from Bizarro world

Prince -- Prince!! -- is supporting the FCC's crackdown on indencency. Isn't this the same guy who celebrated his Controversy?

Thanks to Simon for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 08:52 AM | Comments (0)

Good advice for any writer

Jim Henley's approach won't necessarily be apt for anyone, but it's not a bad starting place.

Don't take this wrong, _____, but fuck your own voice. Your own voice will take care of itself as your craft matures. Your own voice will, if you're going to have one, insist on emerging. In the meantime, learn the craft. Learn the vocabulary and practice of meter. Learn rhyme schemes. Learn the ways that free verse gets written that yet contains music. Reread poets you admire, read about them and then read the poets they get compared to.

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 08:50 AM | Comments (1)

More bad news for Sony

Coming on the heels of the NY Times rather unfavorable review, the Washington Post unloads another thumbs down.

If anybody can get Internet music downloads right, it should be Sony Corp. The company has years of experience selling records, consumer electronics and personal computers -- and it's had plenty of time to study earlier digital-music ventures.

So how could the Connect music store, unveiled on Tuesday, have turned out so badly? It gets a few things right, but by forgetting that customers want to feel like they actually own their music, it repeats -- or exceeds -- the mistakes of other music stores. ...

This service is an embarrassment to the company that gave the world the Walkman.

Posted by Casper at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

Ladysmith Black Mambazo on the road

In a fairly daunting schedule, the good fellas of LBM are going to be on tour for a while. I caught these guys out at Wolf Trap a few years ago, and it was a really inspiring performance. I would highly recommend the show.

Some DC dates:
10/21/04: Norfolk, VA (Attucks Theatre)
10/22/04: Richmond, VA (Carpenter Center)
04/07/05: College Park, MD (Clarice Smith P.A.C.)

Posted by Casper at 07:59 AM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2004

Celine's latest venue

I was outside with the pallbearers from the undertaker's. I gave the nod to the crem attendant. He pressed 'play'. Well, it was Celine Dion, it was 'My heart will go on' ... but it was the dance remix.

As a thumping drumbeat massacred the gloopy song, one of the pallbearers turned to me and said, "So are we meant to take the coffin in at this pace?"

"No," said one of his colleagues, "it isn't a drum, it's the deceased knocking on the coffin, trying to get out!"

It became one of the challenges of my ministry to maintain dignity and not burst into hysterics during the funeral.

Today's episode of amusement comes to us from Simon.

Posted by Casper at 10:46 PM | Comments (0)

Musicians are not wimps

A violinist becomes an arm wrestler.

Posted by Casper at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

Rehearsing with Shahin

I got together with Shahin tonight to tighten up some of the songs from our last go 'round. Just the two of us, working on blocking out the songs, agreeing on what we are going to do when.

We also rewrote one of the newer tunes (Roho). Originally, the song was following the standard key and chord progression, just raised five half steps. We reorganized the song, changing the structure to a more standard format (intro->verse->chorus->bridge->chorus->outro), and then shifted the verse pattern to ascend from A to D (instead of descend through the same chords). It's a more formal song, but I think it works better.

Posted by Casper at 08:16 PM | Comments (0)

Spoliers on TV

Personally, I rather dislike spoilers. I'd rather find out what happens over the course of the story rather than skipping to the end of the book. But that's just me. Other people like spoilers.

It's an odd wish — for control of the story, for the chance to minimize your risk of disappointment. With spoilers in hand, a viewer can watch the show with distance, analyzing like a critic instead of being immersed like a newbie. The emphasis isn't so much on the plot's outcome but on how the writers get there, and on the unexpected twists they add along the way. But the price for that privilege is that you never really get to watch a show for the first time.

Posted by Casper at 01:53 PM | Comments (0)

A 30 year Rush

A nice recap from Reuters on one of my favorite bands.

The complexity of Rush's songs led some critics in the '70s and '80s to accuse the band of being pretentious. But the innovation that sustains its career commands deep respect from fellow musicians. For some, the members of Rush have been personal mentors.

And few accomplish what Rush does onstage. A band that built its following with hard touring, Rush is most alive in front of an audience. Its stage productions, while entertaining, never overshadow its performance. The onstage grandeur belies the group's small size.

Posted by Casper at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

DMCRA act in congress

Congress is currently considering a bill that would modify the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) to be a little bit more consumer friendly. The Digital Media Consumers' Rights Act (sponsored by Rick Boucher, congressman from my home district) would:

  • Require clear, visible labels for "copy-protected" audio compact discs that identify their limitations and applicable return policies.
  • Restore consumers' fair use rights by amending Section 1201 of the DMCA to allow circumvention of copy protection for non-infringing uses of the material. For example, it would allow someone to bypass the copy protection on a lawfully purchased DVD in order to view it on a computer running Linux.
  • The bill's CD labeling provisions will make certain that consumers know what they are getting when they buy music CDs. If record labels choose to sell "copy protected" CDs that offer consumers less for their money than the CDs they are accustomed to, these dysfunctional CDs should, at a minimum, be prominently labeled.
  • The bill also amends the DMCA to make it clear that technological protections should not trump the public's traditional fair use rights under copyright law. Since the DMCA's passage in 1998, it has been used not against copyright pirates, but instead to chill the legitimate activities of scientists, journalists, and computer programmers. Rep. Boucher's bill will go a long way toward restoring in the digital world the traditional balance between the rights of the public and those of copyright owners.

For the full text of the bill, check here.

Posted by Casper at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

And all this time I was doing it for free

May is Masturbation Month; May 16 is the Masturbate-a-thon!

The Masturbate-a-thon is an event where you get your friends to pledge money for every minute you masturbate on this day (no one has to watch - this is an honor system event). After you have masturbated to your heart's delight, tell your sponsors how long you masturbated and have them make their contribution checks out to "Fenway Community Health."

If there's anything further to say here, I can't begin to know where to start.

Posted by Casper at 01:58 AM | Comments (0)

Brave New Bass

I finished up Brave New Bass earlier today. It's mostly a collection of interviews from the pages of Bass Player magazine, with the occasional odd "lesson" thrown in about some detail of the interviewee's playing style.

I found this to be a good book; the lessons weren't particularly insightful, but it was very interesting to learn about the influences and attitudes of some of the best bassists in the last twenty years or so. Of particular note (hah! no pun intended -- really) were the interview with Tony Levin, John Patitucci, Pino Palladino and Bakithi Kumalo. These four are some of the true unknown greats of bass playing; they tend to be both overlooked and somewhat private oriented, so it's not often that any insight can be gained into their methods.

If you are a bass guitarist looking around for some inspiration or just wanting to pick up some new ways to approach the instrument, I'd recommend picking up this book. In fact, I liked it enough that I added it to the essentials list.

Thanks to Rob for suggesting this book to me in the first place.

Posted by Casper at 01:24 AM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2004

I think I'll pass

From Rasputin:

Perhaps the artist who recorded you is expressing a desire for his fans to come to his house and rock with him. Knowing what I know about the gentlemen, I would politely decline and offer instead to rock with him and several other attendees at a certified music concert venue.

Posted by Casper at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

I can understand why

A gentleman in Canada has legally changed his name.

-- Update --
Sue me for not reading closely enough. To make matters worse, it's a lady who changed her name. My apologies.

Posted by Casper at 07:42 PM | Comments (0)

The true story of Rock Star

Tim "the Ripper" Owens is the actual true story on which the rather bad movie Rock Star was based. Today's Washington Post has a good write up on his experiences.

This wasn't 'sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll.' It was a job, and if you don't treat it like a job, you won't last." (Ripper takes naps before every gig, and all day long chugs not booze but odd teas that he's heard are good for the vocal cords.)

But Hollywood got the biggest thing right. "I had a dream, and my dream became my job," he says. "I got to live it."

For seven years, he toured the world with Priest. But last year, Ripper was -- well, defrocked.

Posted by Casper at 07:33 PM | Comments (0)

Super Size Me

I'm sure that many of you have heard about this film; it's getting lots of attention in the press. Some of the media coverage is using this film as a weapon against the corporate culture of the American food economy; others use the film as a jumping off point to talk about personal responsibility.

It was a pretty good documentary, in the Michael Moore "Choose a conclusion and pick evidence to fit it" sort of way. Very entertaining, though. It was amazing to watch this guy's reaction to thirty days of non-stop eating at McDonald's (with a few caveats: he was eating a more or less vegetarian diet both beforehand and afterwards, so changing to all meat and grease would be a shock to the system, and he pretty much ceased all exercise). I know as I was watching the film I started to feel badly about the soda I was drinking. And deciding to eat a salad with some water on the way home.

A good friend of mine came up with his own answer to the obescity problem, melting off about eighty pounds over the last year or so (congrats again, Mikey!). How did he do it? He ate less and exercised more. Imagine that.

Watch time 1:42.

-- Update --
And, in related news, some doctors want McDonald's to install thinner doors. Why, you might ask?

FAST food restaurants should fit narrow doors to stop fatties getting in to eat more junk, medics claim.

Chains like McDonald’s should have size limits just as theme parks have height restrictions on rides, the docs say.

Posted by Casper at 06:50 PM | Comments (0)

Apple tries to hold firm on price

As an update to a previous story, Apple is denying the anticipated price increase for iTunes.

"These rumors aren't true," Apple spokeswoman Natalie Sequeira said. "We have multiyear agreements with the labels and our prices remain 99 cents a track."

Apple's commitment to the 99 cent retail price point--which is shared by other music services such as Musicmatch--comes in spite of wholesale prices for music that are already beginning to fluctuate, according to record labels and other download services.

Posted by Casper at 01:33 PM | Comments (0)

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, by Vince Flynn, is a straight ahead military thriller. More or less a story about Al-Qaeda terrorists attempting to detonate a nuclear weapon in the United States (by the way, this isn't a spoiler; it says this directly on the dust jacket), the book unfolds with some of the standard problems of a character driven mil-fic book. There's a single character who knows everything, can do anything, walks on water, sees through walls; you know, the usual kind of thing. Someone's about to kill lots of people? Anyone want to bet that he stops them?

A side note on this book. If I were planning on keeping it (it's on sale at Amazon, read only once!), I could use it as a bookend. The author (and this text) leans so far to the right, I think it would hold back quite a bit of weight. I don't particularly mind politics in my fiction, but this was a bit much. The Patriot Act didn't go far enough, torture for terrorists is a good thing (which is just a bit in the wrong, not to mention very poorly timed) and women in power are shrews and sluts. Not the most enlightened of works, I would dare say.

-- Update --
Nevermind, it's already sold. God, I love selling off all the useless crap in my house on Amazon!

Posted by Casper at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2004

Phrasing in funk/hip hop

Some interesting thoughts from a Belgian guy.

It made me think (not for the first time, but with the kind of focused clarity that only seems to happen while driving, for some reason) about how unimportant pitch is compared to phrasing and intonation, in making a solo funky: a handful of notes, repeated over and over, but in consistently wonderful, groovy patterns and with fittingly greasy attacks.

Early this week, I was studying with Anthony and we were working on soloing; how to approach the individual notes, ways to lay back across the bar lines and the like. One of the more important things that Anthony kept trying to get me to focus on was to stay in syncopation with the beat, working the pocket a little before and little after the beat. Mwanji's writing is on the same wavelength as what Anthony was saying.

Thanks to Eppy for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 06:07 PM | Comments (0)

Replacing the Simpsons

Apparently at one point during the salary negioations, the good folk at Fox told the voice actors that they could all be replaced. Great strategy, guys, particularly for a show that the CEO of the company has called "Fox's greatest single asset."

Thanks to Defamer for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

Online porn vs. Acacia

A group calling themselves Internet Media Protective Association is working the legal angle against Acacia Media. A little digging shows that IMPA is more or less a front for online porn vendors.

On the one hand, I wouldn't shed too many tears if the online porn folks dried up and went away (it might even lower the amount of spam that I get on a daily basis, but I doubt it). On the other hand, quite a bit of the forward motion in online technologies (secure purchasing, streaming audio/video, animation just for starters) has been pioneered by the adult industry.

And, as pointed out here, a successful push by Acacia could very easily result in a patent cost to anyone using streaming media.

Acacia claims its patents cover just about every form of digital audio and video distribution. According to Berman, these kinds of activities violate Acacia's intellectual property rights: pushing MP3s from peer-to-peer groups, streaming newscasts from Internet radio sites and delivering movies through cable networks.

Off the top of my head, that sounds like just about everyone would be affected. Even someone as small as me, who has the occasional sound clip on my own site.

Thanks to Xeni for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 05:28 PM | Comments (0)

Big Tom off of Survivor

Big Tom has been voted off of Survivor. Normally, I wouldn't care, but Big Tom is from a part of the world where I grew up. I remember watching him on the Africa show and being really jealous of him when he got to go to the Serrengetti (somewhere that I've always wanted to go).

Posted by Casper at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

10 Classical Music Dirty Secrets

Just in case you were wondering.

Thanks to James for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)

No show for tomorrow

Continuing the trend of shows not happening, Nick from NGB rang me up earlier today to let me know that they've decided to go with another bass player for tomorrow night's show. While I'm sorry to hear that, I wish them well.

Posted by Casper at 01:22 PM | Comments (0)

Downloading music and traffic cameras

I live in the DC area. There are a number of traffic traps around, where camera try to catch people doing bad things (like blowing through a stop light or going 52 in a 25). If Jane happens to be a bad person and gets caught by the traffic camera going a few miles over the speed limit, she doesn't receive the traffic ticket personally. Rather, the owner of the car gets the ticket and has to pay the fine (with no points on the license). The owner may or may not be Jane.

What in God's name might this have to do with downloading, you might ask?

The RIAA is suing personally the owner of the computer (or, I think to be a bit more accurate, the leasee of the broadband connection) for copyright infringment -- regardless of the actions of the actual legal leasee. In other words, Jane could download the entire sonic collection of Barenaked Ladies using her next door neighbors connection (and just think for a second about people "hijacking" WiFi from home users who haven't locked down their access point).

So would Jane get sued or Ted, her neighbor? Judging from the RIAA's suit against the NC grandmother, it would be Ted. And that's just a little bit disturbing.

Posted by Casper at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

More fun & games with the RIAA

The RIAA is back in the headlines (well, I suppose they never really left). Not only are they suing a grandmother in North Carolina for some songs that her grandson downloaded using her machine (which brings up an interesting point that I'll try to come back to here in a bit).

"Those 520 songs will cost you $750 and I said, 'What?’” Johnson [the grandmother] said.

That's $750 for each song but the association says it will settle for $3,500.

"I said, 'You know what? You won't get it because I don't have it,’” Johnson said.

Johnson said it's not fair to hold her financially responsible for what her grandson did. She doesn't let him use the computer without supervision now and she's hoping RIAA leaves her alone.

You might learn of all of these RIAA suits that are going on a decide to go and download songs legally, right?

The sources claim Apple has now signed agreements with EMI, Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG), Sony, Universal and Warner that will see prices on some songs rise from 99c to $1.25, an increase of over 26 per cent.

Still, that's better than the $2.99 price point some labels had been pushing Apple to introduce.

Album prices are going up to. Many are likely to continue to be offered for $9.99, but some are appearing in the ITMS for $16.99, a rise of 70 per cent.

As one music industry source told The Register: "That will really ingratiate the public and discourage piracy, won't it?"

Ah, what a brilliant idea. For some good commentary, let's check out what Simon thinks:

It seems that the RIAA and its members just can't resist squeezing more money from the consumers (that's us), and, hey, if golden-egg laying geese get slaughtered as a result, that's business, yeah? The big five labels are forcing a25 per cent price increase on Apple for songs on iTunes. Now, it's true they wanted the price to rise to USD2.99 per song, but even so - USD1.25 for a single track, which doesn't require any packaging, distribution or storage? They've got to be kidding.

In effect, the RIAA are pricing legal downloading out the market. You can vote with your peer to peer networks.

Posted by Casper at 12:47 PM | Comments (0)

Descending from power chord mountain

Boston (you remember them, right?) will be touring this summer. Wow, I can remember these guys from when I was a kid; my friends and I used to play baseball and try to sing along with Brad Delp. Even in those pre-testosterone days, we couldn't hit those high notes.

DC Area shows:
Sat 07/17/04 Baltimore, MD Pier Six Concert Pavilion
Sun 07/18/04 Atlantic City, NJ Borgata Hotel / Casino

Posted by Casper at 11:15 AM | Comments (0)

NGB Video

NGB joined up with Stoked.TV to produce a video for one of their tunes. Check it out.

Posted by Casper at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

Leading off today's irony news

Victoria Beckham/Posh Spice is releasing a rap album. However, her voice will be 100% absent from the recording.

Posted by Casper at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

NBC fights TiVo

I've noticed this for some time with the NBC scheduling.

NBC has scheduled the final broadcast of Friends to start tonight at 8.59 p.m. Why? To beat TiVo recording, obviously. I'm not sure if they don't want us to watch the penultimate episode of Survivor: All-Stars (confession: I'm addicted). But it's clear that starting it a minute early is intended to disrupt digital recording of shows that run 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. The fix is simple. On my ReplayTV, I just set a manual record from 9:00 to 10:00 for NBC (or I could set an 8:00 to 8:59 Survivors recording). But it's clear that this is a direct DVR pushback. But how does this help the network? I link to a post about Fear Factor in which the thread explores on a discussion board why Fear Factor was getting chopped or not recording.

My solution? NBC loses with me. So I don't watch a few shows on NBC: hardly a big loss for me. I'll take the freedom that TiVo gives me any day of the week over "Must See TV".

Thanks to Xeni for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

Lenny Kravitz's sexual secret

If I only known before that this was the secret to getting the ladies.

Posted by Casper at 12:11 AM | Comments (0)

Darkness to the dogs

Darkness will be recording their next album with Shania Twain's husband, Mutt Lange. Maybe they're praying that the Def Leppard lightening will strike again.

Posted by Casper at 12:09 AM | Comments (0)

Band names that almost were

A list of bands that almost could have gone somewhere slightly different.

Actual NameDiscarded Name
RadioheadOn A Friday
The CureGoat Band
Chuck DChuckie D

Thanks to Frank for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:02 AM | Comments (0)

May 06, 2004

Rehearsing with Shahin

Tonight was the first time that I have played with Shahin and Bret since A&S went their separate ways. We went through some of the old songs to loosen up and then started on some new material. We have a gig at the end of the month for a law firm downtown that pays a ridiculous amount, and I don't really know if we are going to be ready for it or not.

We went through this one new tune (I can't recall the name of it) that's really a nice world fusion, fun song. Shahin was playing a somewhat traditional Arabic meledy, Brett gave it a samba-style drum part and I was playing a syncopaited funk bass line. You might think that all of this wouldn't fit together very well, but the melange of styles worked. It was just a really fun groove. I'm looking forwards to playing this one again.

Christine from DH/CC sat in with us for a while, too. The three of us have talked about adding a keyboardist to the mix, to thicken out the sound and add more coloration. She didn't play all that much, but I think that mostly due to unfamiliarity with the material. I think that we'll have her back a few times.

Posted by Casper at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

A review of Sony's music site

Earlier, I mentioned that Sony's online music site Connect was open for business. Maybe the champagne should be corked for now, though.

Music fans already had to contend with two incompatible music copy-protection formats: Apple's AAC files (compatible only with iPods) and Microsoft's WMA format (used by Napster, Musicmatch, Wal-Mart and others). Sony's music service employs yet another format, called Atrac. Predictably, Atrac files don't play on any of the three million iPods or the four million WMA-compatible players in use. Unless you have a Sony player, Atrac may as well be 8-track.

Posted by Casper at 04:44 PM | Comments (0)

Lifespan of CDs/DVDs not so good

Like many musicians that I know, some of the bands in which I play distribute their music on homemade CDs. We burn our music from a computer on to a CD-R and then either give away or sell the result to people (Whether we give it away or sell it depends on both the purpose of the disc (demo, final product) and the popularity of the band). I'm sure that a number of other bands probably do the same thing.

Well, here's some information that might change that approach.

Manufacturers cite lifespans up to 100 years, but without a standardized test, it's very hard to evaluate their claims, Byers says. The worst part is that manufacturers frequently change the materials and manufacturing methods without notifying users. ...

Part of the problem is that most people believe that it's the clear underside of the CD that is fragile, when in fact it's the side with the label. Scratches on the underside have to be fairly deep to cause skipping, while scratches on the top can easily penetrate to the aluminum layer. Even the pressure of a pen on the label side can dent the aluminum, rendering the CD unreadable.

Posted by Casper at 04:21 PM | Comments (0)

Music Pricing online

Some thoughts on the pricing model for online music.

At the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit in Washington, D.C., Glaser recounted his general frustration in getting the record labels to offer creative pricing beyond the 99-cents-per-download model. In fact, some labels -- emboldened by consumers' apparent willingness to pay a buck a song -- are talking about raising per-song fees rather than lowering them to increase volume.

"Can you explain what planet the record labels are on?" asked Walt Mossberg, tech columnist for The Wall Street Journal and moderator of a one-on-one interview with Glaser at the conference.

Glaser smirked. "I guess I'd call it Planet Spreadsheet," he said. "The problem is that they don't look at it holistically."

Glaser has tried to convince the labels to compromise -- perhaps by charging more than a buck for newly released songs (and more than $10 for newly released album downloads), but then slashing the price a few months later to drive demand after the new-release sheen dulls.

So far, response has been muted, Glaser said. On a host of packaging issues, he said he can often get a couple of major labels on board. But then they hear that a couple of other labels aren't playing ball, and they back off for fear of being the only ones to make a mistake. The result, according to Glaser, is the "lowest common denominator."

Glaser's proposal seems immently reasonable to me. Not only does that address the needs/desires of the market, it also has the added benefit of mirroring the pricing model of CDs in the physical world. The brand new CDs are sold for full price (or discounted as a loss leader in some stores), the not-so-new CDs are sold for less, and the older/poorly selling CDs are sold as "budget". Musicians are compensated for sales in these strata as well -- full royalties, then 70-80% royalties and finally 50% royalties. Why the labels are resisting this is beyond me -- it would simply be an application of their existing business model to the internet.

The labels should really be focusing on answering this consumer driven need. Otherwise, people are going to fulfill their needs on their own.

"The best-selling CD in the country is blank," said Flansburgh [from They Might be Giants].

Posted by Casper at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

The FCC and Trusted Computing

The FCC is considering new regulations with regards to the radio spectrum and Trusted Computing. The EFF has responded, listing several reasons why it's a bad idea.

...in order for Trusted computing to effectively curtail malefactors and the merely clueless from turning their PCs into malignant emitters, it would have to restrict PC owners' ability to run software that addressed either integrated SDR devices or the components that make them up, such as DACs. The Commission did not specify exactly how Trusted Computing would do this and it is not clear whether the Trusted Computing implementations currently contemplated could serve this function in the PC environment. "Trusted Computing" should not be used as a catch-all term for "tamper-resistance", not least because the actual amount of tamper resistance included in Trusted Computing systems may vary widely.

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

Some chutzpah on a traffic ticket

I don't know if I would have tried this approach, but it seemed to work for this guy.

Posted by Casper at 02:53 PM | Comments (0)

As America's collective IQ rises 3 points

I don't know if you've heard about this, but some show is going off the air tonight. All I can say is "Finally."

-- Update --
If you happen to miss this episode (and gosh darn it, I've got a rehearsal tonight), the Friends finalé will be released on DVD within a week.

Posted by Casper at 01:17 PM | Comments (4)

Okay, this is kinda nifty

I can just imagine people stoned out of their gourd, looking at this, drooling and saying "Ccooooolllll......".

Thanks to James for the link.

Posted by Casper at 10:56 AM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2004

Ya might not want to sue your customers....

I wrote this article with iTunes humming in the background, shuffling random tracks from my collection. And just as I got to the end it surprised me by playing Bowie's A Better Future, the refrain to which is "I demand a better future or I might just stop needing you".

I could not have put it more clearly myself. If we do not get a better future from the record companies then we will stop needing them and the stars they promote.

Bowie should realise that he cannot demand ownership of every piece of work that is based on or inspired by his music, and the record industry should realise that it cannot sue its audience into submission.

Just a thought.

Posted by Casper at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

Foolio's is a no-go

The JoS show scheduled for tonight has been cancelled. No word as to whether or not it will be rescheduled as of yet, but I'll let everyone know if that happens.

Posted by Casper at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

Varekai in DC

The Cirque du Soleil show Varekai will be in DC from Sept 16 through Oct 10. Tickets are available for special people now, and I'm not sure when they will be available for everyone else.

Posted by Casper at 02:37 PM | Comments (0)

I want my Al-TV

No, not Weird Al on MTV (that I might even consider watching). Nope, Al Gore is starting his own TV network. Yippee.

Posted by Casper at 02:33 PM | Comments (0)

Limp Bizkit not breaking up

Despite our best hopes, Fred Durst is saying that Limp Bizkit isn't going to break up soon.

Posted by Casper at 02:29 PM | Comments (0)

Great salsa/latin jazz band in the Boston area

JP Tropicale is a pretty darn hot band; I've caught a few of their performances on CD and I hope to catch them play sometime soon. I'd recommend you check them out.

Posted by Casper at 01:34 AM | Comments (0)

Some disappointing news

The Funk Brothers and the producers that popularized them are suing each other.

I don't know the details on this, or why any of it happening, but I just find it a bit side.

Posted by Casper at 01:06 AM | Comments (0)

Howard Stern's fans complain to FCC

Since Howard's little difficulties with the FCC, he suggested his listeners complain to the FCC about Oprah. Here are some of their letters.

Thanks to Mark for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

Sony launches their online site

Connect will be competing directly against iTunes.

Posted by Casper at 01:00 AM | Comments (0)

May 04, 2004

NGB rehearsal

Tonight, the four of us got together for an upcoming show. We have to play for about four hours in an upcoming show, and we only have about two hours of tunes. Needless to say, this should be an interesting show. We went through the same songs that we have been playing for awhile, revisited some songs from the first time we got together and fooled around with a cover or two. I suspect that we will be spending quite a bit of time on Saturday doing improv and free wheel jamming.

Posted by Casper at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

MS has new DRM scheme

Microsoft has come up with a brand new way to license music in the digital age. Janus will allow consumers to download music and then transfer it pretty much as they see fit. That's the good news. The bad news is that the license to listen to said music expires from time to time and has to be renewed (for a small fee).

The Washington Post does a good job of summarizing the situation.

It's not hard to see why the industry and the labels are big fans of this approach:

"Online music-subscription services like MusicNet or Rhapsody offer a seemingly appealing proposition: all the music you could ever listen to for a flat monthly fee. But there has always been a hitch. The songs remain locked to your computer, unless you pay more to buy them outright." [San Jose Mercury News] noted that the Janus announcement "potentially removes that obstacle," because "the software will allow consumers to move rented music, movies or games onto portable devices or distribute them across home networks. ... The new software has an internal clock that keeps track of the return date on a particular song or movie. Every time the portable music player or a Pocket PC connects to the Internet, or to an Internet-connected PC, the software checks the return date to see if the file has expired.

Ah, so I get it. It's not enough that I bought the latest Rush CD; I have to buy again and again every so often. Wow, I'd like to get in on that deal, except for that whole completely hosing the fans aspect.

Thanks to Eric for some of the info in this post.

Here's Simon on this development:

YOU'LL NEVER BUY A SONG AGAIN: Not if Microsoft has its way - it's just launched a new version of its Digital Rights Management gubbins for the unpleasant Windows Media format which will make it possible for "content owners" to ensure you can only hire songs and movies for a brief period, with them becoming unplayable after the hire period is up. This really is a music company's dream: in the past, they had to invent a whole new format to make us buy our record collections all over again; now, our collections can be made to evaporate every Thursday.

Sometimes you really have to wonder if the record industry isn't going out of it's way to tick off every last person who might have bought something online.

Posted by Casper at 01:00 PM | Comments (0)

An interesting take on copyright

From 1983, a science fiction writer comments on copyright issues and how it affects his livelihood. It's still relevant today, and some musicians might want to peruse it for themselves.

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

Britney exposes her erudition

Britney gets a tattoo on the back of her neck. It's just too bad that the Hebrew letters she put there say complete gibberish. Then again, maybe that was intentional; a reflection of what's on the inside.

-- Update --
Just to compound the issue, the Torah forbids getting tattoos.

Posted by Casper at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

Senator tells music industry to go Darwin

Senator Norm Coleman (R-Minn) suggested to the music industry that they might want to adapt to the new enviroment rather than fight it.

Coleman said the recording industry is going to have to develop more competitive alternative business models in order to keep the industry running in an era of digital technology.

But suing customers, he said, is not a good business strategy.

"You are the creative force in America; be creative," Coleman said. "I don't believe you can stop illegal use by suing a few people."

Posted by Casper at 12:31 PM | Comments (0)

Labels to pay up

More good news for musicians.

Major recording companies have agreed to return nearly $50 million in unclaimed royalties to Sean Combs, Gloria Estefan, Dolly Parton and thousands of lesser known musicians under a settlement being announced Tuesday.

A two-year investigation by New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office found that many artists were not being paid royalties because record companies lost contact with the performers and had stopped making required payments.

Although I'm having a really hard time believing that Sony couldn't find P Diddy, Ms. Estefan or Dolly Parton. I mean, Dolly isn't that hard to find; she's got an amusement park and everything.

Posted by Casper at 12:27 PM | Comments (0)

Simon on Prince

Prince seemed to have been too kicked back during his current reappearance in all our lives, so it's nice he's still found something to kvetch about: being described as a 'comeback' artist:

"I would ask people who want to call this a comeback, where they think I'm coming back from?"

Well... years in the wilderness, a bunch of largely ignored, not-very-good stuff, what seems to have been over a decade of not actually being the funkiest little guy in the globe and spending time dicking about changing your name to something from the Dingbats font and writing words on your face, since you ask.

Posted by Casper at 12:19 PM | Comments (0)

May 03, 2004

Photos added

I've put up some photos from both the Thunderdome show and the Grog show with NGB.

Posted by Casper at 08:29 PM | Comments (0)

Geek joke

From Neil Gaiman:

QUANTUM TV RIVALS PLASMA DISPLAYS said the headline in the New Scientist that I blinked at over my early morning cup of tea this morning. "Great," I thought sleepily. "A television you can either watch, or know where it is, but not both at once."

Posted by Casper at 08:14 PM | Comments (0)

From the mouth of a sailor

Diane Warren, writer of such sappy love songs like Unbreak My Heart and I Don't Want To Miss A Thing, apparently is a bit of a boorish jerk in real life.

Before meeting Warren, I'd been warned not to expect a gushing, poetry-spouting sweetheart; instead, think a Beavis and Butt-Head-type who favours four-letter words that aren't "love". "She's liable to eff and blind, and come out with words that would make men blush, let alone women," laughs EMI UK's chairman Peter Reichardt, who's known Warren for almost 20 years and handles her songs outside the US.

Thanks to Emma for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 07:52 PM | Comments (0)

A new approach to classical music

Mr. Haimovitz closed his eyes, put bow to string and laid into the Prelude of Bach's First Cello Suite. He did not stop at the end of the movement but went on to play the entire work, about 20 minutes of music. It was some of the most moving and soulful playing heard by this listener in a very long time. The music seemed to pour out of his cello and wash over the huddled group, over the sea of empty tables and flimsy plastic chairs, over the bar and over the television flickering quietly in the opposite corner of the room.

What came through in that moment was the simplicity of the basic musical connection, and how it requires so little of the glittery packaging that can often pass for the concert experience itself. Ultimately, Mr. Haimovitz's tour may be proving the under-recognized value of new music in attracting new audiences. But the enraptured faces in the semicircle suggested an equally important insight into the power of smaller numbers, the richness of direct contact.

Perhaps classical music's audience problem could be solved if there were more living, breathing, palpable moments of exchange like the one that took place in this beer-drenched corner of a Mississippi pizza parlor. "It's so simple," Mr. Haimovitz said when happily back on the road, "to just take out your cello and start playing."

This sounds like a very good thing.

Posted by Casper at 05:02 PM | Comments (0)

Richard Bona in NYC

As much as I would love to see this show, I can't make the time in my schedule. However, for my readers in the NYC area, I would strongly suggest you find the time to check this cat out. He's amazing to see live. "An African Jaco," as one writer puts it.

May 11-13 Zinc Bar in NYC

According to PollStar, Bona's also playing at some festival in Jersey at the end of August, but I can't find any more information about it, nor is there any reference on Bona's website.

August 28 Stanhope, NJ Riverfest

Posted by Casper at 01:59 PM | Comments (0)

Steven Levy on online music

An opinion piece about the RIAA and their real constituents, the labels.

Posted by Casper at 12:59 PM | Comments (0)

Musicians like downloading

This is actually banner news! It's a large PDF file, but worth reading the whole thing

When asked what impact free downloading on the Internet has had on their careers as musicians, 37% say free downloading has not really made a difference, 35% say it has helped and 8% say it has both helped and hurt their career. Only 5% say free downloading has exclusively hurt their career and 15% of the respondents say they don't know...

67% say artists should have complete control over material they copyright and they say copyright laws do a good job of protecting artists...

Some 60% of those in the sample say they do not think the Recording Industry Association of America's suits against online music swappers will benefit musicians and songwriters. Those who earn the majority of their income from music are more inclined than "starving musicians" to back the RIAA, but even those very committed musicians do not believe the RIAA campaign will help them. Some 42% of those who earn most of their income from their music do not think the RIAA legal efforts will help them, while 35% think those legal challenges will ultimately benefit them.

Hey, gals and guys over at the RIAA? Take the hint. The lawsuits are not an effective means to stop downloading; the actual musicians (you know, those people you ostensibly represent) don't want you suing their fans; what's it going to take for you to finally notice that big ol' barrel of coffee in the main room?

Thanks to Cory for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 12:51 PM | Comments (0)

The Life Of Brian re-released to theatres

Monty Python's The Life Of Brian will be rereleased to the theatres. Great film, great satire on religion. I'd recommend it to anyone who likes British humor.

Posted by Casper at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

20 best guitar lines

Total Guitar magazine in the UK has compiled a listing of the 20 best guitar tracks in rock.

  1. Guns 'N Roses -- Sweet Child O' Mine
  2. Nirvana -- Smells Like Teen Spirit
  3. Led Zeppelin -- Whole Lotta Love
  4. Deep Purple -- Smoke On The Water
  5. Metallica -- Enter Sandman
  6. Derek & The Dominoes -- Layla
  7. Metallica -- Master Of Puppets
  8. AC/DC -- Back In Black
  9. Jimi Hendrix -- Voodoo Child
  10. Black Sabbath -- Paranoid
  11. Ozzy Osbourne -- Crazy Train
  12. Free -- All Right Now
  13. Muse -- Plug In Baby
  14. Led Zeppelin -- Black Dog
  15. Van Halen -- Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love
  16. Aerosmith -- Walk This Way
  17. Cream -- Sunshine Of Your Love
  18. Queens Of The Stone Age -- No One Knows
  19. Guns 'N Roses -- Paradise City
  20. Rage Against The Machine -- Killing In The Name Of

Some of these I haven't heard of (Muse?), and some of these are being overpraised (No One Knows is a decent enough song, but not quite the top twenty ever). Take it for what it's worth.

Posted by Casper at 11:13 AM | Comments (1)

Silly me, I meant to say "huge rock"

One of the urban legends about Sting is his affinity for tantric sex. Apparently, it was all just a big mistake.

What he really meant was "frantic" sex.

In an interview to be broadcast next week on the BBC, Sting confesses that the whole story of how he used yoga to achieve prolonged states of ecstasy was "a joke".

Asked if he knows what tantric sex is, Sting, whose real name is Gordon Sumner, replies: "I haven't a clue."

I don't buy this, though. I remembering watching some show on A&E about Sting where he was talking to the camera about yoga and tantric sex. "Really, I was just joshing" just falls flat to me.

Posted by Casper at 10:32 AM | Comments (0)

Prince's novel CD sales avenue

Prince has devised a rather interesting way to sell his latest CD:

The storyline began weeks ago when Prince announced that a free copy of his new CD, “Musicology,” would be given to fans who attended his concerts, a promotional promise repeated in advertisements for his now-under way tour.

It turns out that was an imprecise description … according to promoters, the cost of the CD was in fact figured into the ticket prices. In essence, fans were buying the album (although it was at a discounted price), and they had as little say in the transaction as they would on ticket surcharges.

The entire matter took on much more interest for music industry executives last week when Nielsen SoundScan decided that each “Musicology” disc handed out at shows would be counted as a sold CD, the same as one sold at retail.

There's something to this. The increase in price wouldn't be all that much, and the people who were going out to see him were almost certainly going to buy the album anyway. It just might catch on.

Posted by Casper at 10:23 AM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2004

The Washington Post wakes up

Did you know that you can find unsigned bands on the web? Amazing. Even more amazing that this qualifies as news. Perhaps next they'll report to us about some new fangled technology that's really close to a CD, but can hold more data. Movies, even.

Posted by Casper at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

Simon on Madonna

I know it's been a while since we've had a quote of the day (well, at least offiically).

We always thought Warners desperate bid to try and pretend the fact they were calling Madonna's label a cash-sapping pain in the ass wouldn't affect their working relationship with the former pop star was a bit of a desperate hope - like Seymour Skinner trashing his mother in public and then whispering "We're still going antiquing Saturday, right?" to her - and so it turns out. Madonna hasn't taken the demands for her to pay squillions to cover the cost of piles of unsold Tyler Hilton and Home Town Hero albums that well, and Warner's "but we can still be friends" has been thrown back in their face. In fact, she's called Warners suit "nothing short of treason". As our man in the capital David McIntosh asks: "So does she consider herself a nation, a sovereign or perhaps both? Will a successful legal action result in the death penalty for Warner bosses? Or is she just a ridiculously self-important pop star without a dictionary? We should be told."

Posted by Casper at 10:01 PM | Comments (0)

NGB @ Grog & Tankard

Tonight, NGB pulled closing duties for Down To This' CD release party. There were three opening bands (Souls Release, EC-65 and Chrysalis).

This was the first time I have ever set foot in the Grog. In general, I've just refused to go; most of the bands that play there do not appeal to me. It's a pretty decent venue, though. It's not very deep and pretty wide, but the acoustics are respectable and the management has a relaxed and open attitude towards the acts (a nice change of pace).

Things were going pretty well; Souls Release had a great set of melodic power pop, EC31 put out high energy, pop friendly punk and Chrysalis played, well, rather downbeat, depressing, goth hard rock. Then Down To This (DTT) took the stage. They worked through most of the tunes on their new CD, pushing out hard, semi-trash rock. They had about sixty or seventy people hanging out, grooving to their music.

Once they were done, we got on stage. I didn't have to bring my own rig, as Jason from DTT let me play through his cabinets. We started off with about thirty people or so, and they started to get into our set. Unfotunately, things changed in the second song.

Fire Trucks Inside GrogIt seems that a fire broke out in one of the restaurants up the street. About halfway through the second tune, the ladder truck right out side the door turned on all their lights. Blinding white light poured into the club, attracting everyone's attention (It definitely attracted mine). Trust me, it's awfully hard to compete with the fire department trying their best to fight a fire.

In short order, the club emptied out as people went onto the street to watch the firefighters. We stayed and played out the rest of our set, both for ourselves and for those few people who did stay. I think they had a good time, grooving on the rest of our set.

Fire Trucks Outside GrogGetting out of the club was it's own adventure. The police had the area closed off, so we could leave but not get back. I ended up making a run with my guitars and such to my car, then sneaking around to the back of the Grog, hopping a fence and then making another trip. Not the easiest of things.

Overall, it was a good show. The club liked what we did and they've already invited us back. We made some good friends with the other bands and even picked up a new fan or two.

Posted by Casper at 02:12 AM | Comments (0)

May 01, 2004

The Wayans brothers must be stopped

By any means necessary. I have seen the trailer for this, um, movie twice now. I can only hope it dies the quick death it so clearly deserves.

Posted by Casper at 05:41 PM | Comments (0)

Mean Girls

Today, I made the mistake of going to see Mean Girls. Written by Tina Fey (who's writing on SNL I really like), I was expecting a well written, well crafted flick with a healthy dose of sardonicism and satire.

What I got was fairly insipid, completely formulaic and predictable teen humor. There were the occasional flashes of cleverness (mostly throwaway lines between the adults in the flick), but otherwise, you could see what was coming a mile away.

On the one hand, it's good to see Tim Meadows working again. On the other hand, I really need to go and see a movie that has at least an IQ over room temperature.

Watch time 1:00.

Posted by Casper at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

A Michael Jackson conspiracy?

Michael Jackson may have had assistance in his "activities" with various young children.

Posted by Casper at 05:21 PM | Comments (0)

Simpsons probably not going to strike

Fox played hardball, and they caved.

Posted by Casper at 04:08 AM | Comments (0)

Change any image into a wall sized mural

The Rasterbator will change any image into a larger one -- up to five meters in size. It does this by breaking the image down into smaller tiles that you can put together on a wall, on ceiling, wherever. Pretty cool, actually.

Thanks to Lindsay for the tip.

Posted by Casper at 04:05 AM | Comments (0)

JoS @ Main Street

Tonight, JoS returned to Main Street Bar and Grille in Stafford VA. Both Rich and I had played there before, althoug it was acoustically that time.

The show started out pretty well. A few of the people in the crowd came up to me as I was writing out the set list. They were friendly and seemed to be interesting in what we were going to be doing for the night. From what I could tell, there was a strong miltary presence (which would make sense, as Quantico was just up the road).

While we were playing, we would occasionally get some people up front dancing. One of the member of the audience told me that there wasn't likely to be much in the way of dancing at this venue, as the club didn't have the legal permits necessary to sanction dancing (accordingly, they didn't move any tables out of the way or do much of anything to assist). Still, they got up and started to move for a few songs here and there.

Otherwise, the crowd mostly hung around the bar, taking with each other and enjoying themselves. I could hear them singing along with us from time to time (particularly doing the fill-ins for Margaritaville). All in all, one of the better shows with JoS.

Posted by Casper at 02:01 AM | Comments (2)