Saturday, April 26, 2008

Happy Birthday Ma Rainey!

Vocalist Ma Rainey, known as the "Mother of The Blues," was born on this date in 1886. She is not as well-known today as her protege Bessie Smith, even though she actually outlived her by several years. Her influence on the next generation of blues and jazz singers, however, is universally recognized by scholars and musicians.

Learn more about Ma Rainey at Britannica online: Ma Rainey
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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hooray For Earth-Warm Out

I saw this Boston-based band on Record Store Day at the Newbury Comics near Berklee. I liked it so much I bought their "Cellphone" EP and I've been listening to it ever since. A fascinating combination of drop-tuned guitars, unconventional chord progressions, shimmering keyboards, and catchy melodies. The video is funny, too!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

New NIN Single

Nine Inch Nails has just released a brand new single, which can be downloaded for free at:

You can also download the multitrack files at:

If freedom from record contracts means that artists like Trent Reznor will be releasing music more frequently, I say "bring it on!"
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Friday, April 18, 2008

Support Your Local Record Store

Saturday April 19 is Record Store Day. Independent music stores all across the country will be participating, with in-store performances, prizes, etc. Go to the website (link below,) find a participating store near you, and show your support. The "Mom and Pop" stores are an important resource we can't afford to lose!

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stay In Your Box!

I have always assumed that artists were much more willing to think "outside the box" than the rest of the world. However, I have come to realize that many of us have our respective boxes that imprison us, and the arts are certainly not immune. In fact, arts education seems to be a bit more prone to traditionalism, and music is often the worst offender. This is unfortunate, because if we need bold, out-of-the-box thinking anywhere, it is in education.

I saw this growing up, as the son of a music educator who often got in trouble for thinking too far outside of the box. However, I had always assumed that my generation would be the one to change things. Maybe some things never change.....
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Geek Credentials

So, I feel like I established my geek credentials early in life. I started wearing glasses in the 4th grade, and started playing trombone in the 5th grade. I voraciously read Marvel comics and science fiction novels, used words like "voraciously" in everyday conversation, saw every episode of the original Star Trek series multiple times, saw the first 3 Star Wars films multiple times in the theaters, played D&D, learned to program in Basic on an Apple II, etc. all before I graduated from high school.

Alright, so the third Star Wars film came out after I graduated from high school, but here's my point: Now that it's "cool" to be a geek, it's a bit annoying when I see someone I know was a jock in high school pretending they were a geek all along. I'm just saying....
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Recommended Reading for Music Types!

I recently read the autobiography of Al Kooper ("Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards,") and I am currently reading a book by and about Phil Ramone ("Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music.") I highly recommend both books for musicians as well as producer/engineers.

Al Kooper is a colorful character, and his book is interesting just for the stories. Throughout his career, he has worn many hats, including that of songwriter, arranger, recording artist, sideman, producer, A&R scout, and probably a few more I have forgotten. He first came to fame as the organist on Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone," and it's fascinating reading how he actually got the gig!

He originally came to my attention as the producer of the Tubes debut album, but he is much more famous for producing Lynyrd Skynyrd's early albums, as well as being the guy who originally signed them. He is multi-talented, and a true "renaissance man." Unfortunately, that also means that has never fit into the "box" that the music industry and it's associated media likes to fit people into, which is why he never became a big star. I hope someday he will get the recognition he deserves, and I hope he lives to see it.

On a more personal note, I discovered that, until recently, he was teaching at Berklee, and he lives in the next town over from me. If I ever get to meet him, you'll definitely hear about it here!

Phil Ramone's book doesn't have as colorful stories as Kooper's does, but it is interesting just the same! Ramone (not a member of the Ramones, btw) was a classically trained violinist who started his career in the late 1950's as an engineer, and didn't really begin making his name as a producer until the 1970's.

I was most familiar with his production work with Billy Joel, but I was surprised to see some of the records he engineered in the 1960's. He worked on some of the Burt Bacharach records, and even recorded some landmark jazz albums, such as the Getz/Gilberto record. I was surprised to learn that I grew up listening to some of the records he engineered, such as Dionne Warwick's late-1960's work, produced by Bacharach (my mother had it on 8-track!)

Ramone's book describes his working relationship with Billy Joel and Paul Simon, as well as other artists. He also talks a bit about recording techniques, so it's essential for engineers. It's not necessarily an autobiography, in that it's more about his work than his life.

Get a signed copy of Al Kooper's "Backstage Passes and Backstabbing Bastards" from his website.

Phil Ramone's autobiography "Making Records: The Scenes Behind the Music" at Amazon.
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Saturday, April 05, 2008

A social network exclusively for Mac users

This is an interesting social network, in that users install an application on their Mac, rather than interfacing through a web browser. This allows the social network to be integrated with other OSX services, such as the address book.

net4mac - Social networking for Mac users

I'm giving it a shot, because it looks interesting. If you decide to join, my username is "doc" (my nickname when I worked at the Apple Store last fall.)
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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Apple Is Now #1 Music Retailer

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Remix a new Radiohead track

A Twitter friend pointed out the following site to me:

Radiohead/ Remix/ Nude

If you do a remix and enter the contest, let us know so we can vote for you!
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Dealing with "bully" bosses

This is a little off-topic, but it's very important. Having somehow survived some recent jobs victimized by "bullies" as well as "toxic" types, I wish I had seen this at least 10 years ago. Thank God I don't have to deal with this at my current job.

Important information for everybody, no matter what field you are in. Don't be a victim!

How to Deal With Bully Bosses - - Business Technology Leadership
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