App Review: SongKick Concerts

Guess what app I’m in love with right now. I’ll give you a hint:

I hadn’t really checked out any new apps on iTunes’ store lately, so I thought I’d glance through it and see what I could fiind. To my surprise, SongKick Concerts was featured on the main page. The app integrates with its web-based counterpart to sync your SK accout (if you have one; if you don’t, it’s easy enough to set up one). Best part is that it’s free.

This thing is incredible. By “incredible,” I don’t just mean, “Wow, hey … this thing is pretty nifty.” No–I mean this app makes Chuck Norris look like the E-Trade baby. That’s how enormously awesome this thing is. Here’s why.

1. It scans your iDevice and finds the musicians in its database, which is vastly superior to any other concert app database I’ve seen. This thing finds EVERYthing. I loaded one song from each artist from the first half of my library (A-M), excluding classical artists and new age/soundscape artists. It had representative graphics for almost everyone, including obscure artists like Hungry Lucy, Diane Birch, Howling Rain, First Aid Kit, Emily Wells … the list goes on.

For every artists that is on tour or a concert date is scheduled, it puts a little “On Tour” banner in the top left corner of the image so you KNOW that that artist/band is playing somewhere soon. Could be as little as a one-off gig at some bar in Rigby Idaho. Could be as extensive as playing Estadio de Luz

One thing that I would like this app to do, and it may  … I haven’t seen it do this yet, but it very well could–is to localize the list to my geographic area and provide that same banner for artists coming to the greater Salt Lake area. As it is, I sift through my artists and see if a particular artist is coming. If not, oh well–move on to the next one. If so, I check out date, ticket prices, venue, etc. But really … it’s not at all a large complaint.

2. The app links you out to ticket vendors. No need to go out to Ticketmaster or wherever. Links are provided to the venue, ticket purchasing, or wherever you need to go.

3. You can search for an artist and track when s/he/they are coming to your area. It’s a bit better than having to scan your whole iOS device library and look through at individual artists/bands, but at the same time, you have to manually search and select “Track” to get that localized effect. Again, oh well. 🙂

4. If 6you select the nearest large city to you, it will spit back who’s playing where, when and for how much. For example, tonight in the SLC area, we have:

  • Psychostick at Club Vegas
  • Soulcrate Music at Kilby Court
  • Taking Back Sunday at In the Venue
  • Pharoahe Monch at the Hotel Elevate
  • Craze at One Nightclub

I’m telling you … this is the ONLY concert app you need. Download it and check out what shows you didn’t know are coming to your area!

Conversation with Samantha Crain

A couple of  months ago, I found out that Samantha Crain would be coming to Salt Lake. I immediately sent her a tweet requesting an interview. At the time, I knew she was in Michigan on tour, so I didn’t expect a response for a few days. Imagine my surprise when she replied within a few minutes. “Sure!” So casual, so exuberant. So … Samantha Crain.

Over the course of the next several weeks, we exchanged tweets and emails, setting up date and time for the convo. We finally settled on meeting a couple of hours before her show at The Urban Lounge. We met out front and went in to the venue, where we took seats in “the green room” (i.e. the artists’ waiting room). She sat comfortably in the chair kitty corner to the couch I sat on, and looked just as at home as if she had been ready to curl up with a good book, or a movie and a big bowl of popcorn. But no … she was there to chat with me. And

Here’s the conversation I had with Samantha Crain and her band.

*ahem*

F: This is not your first time to Salt Lake.

SC: No, we played here with Langhorne Slim about 2 years ago when we were on tour with him, and then I played here earlier that year as well at Kilby with Thao and the Get Down Stay Down when we were on tour with them, and I think other than those two times … other than the first time we came here, which was a big, like 2 people came. That was a weird show. (turning to Will Sartain), Will, we came here here like 4 years ago before we ever played at any of your venues. It was this big, weird, completely butt-rock type venue, and like 2 people came to our show. It was kind of in the middle of nowhere. maybe by some warehouses or something? Palladium? Yah … that was where we played our first time in Salt Lake City.

F: That’s weird. I’m sorry.

SC: That’s okay. It was funny. I have that story.

F: So what do you think about Salt Lake?

SC: I like it. I went and sang karaoke last night in Salt Lake.

F: Where?!

SC: Cheers.

F: Nice! That’s so funny!

SC: We all went and sang karaoke.

F: I hope everybody applauded …

SC: It was funny. We did a Destiny’s Child song.

F: Nice. How did it go over?

SC: Good. I guess … I dunno, it was crowded. It was karaoke, man.

F: So this is your band (sitting on the other couch). I read your bio on a site, and it said that you had met some guys when you were doing something back east? Pennsylvania? It was the Midnight Shivers.

SC: That was my band about 2 years ago, whenever Songs in the Night came out. Jacob, the drummer for that, plays drums for the Avett Brothers now. My old bass player is not really playing, and my old guitarist has own solo thing going on. I’ve had different forms of bands for the past two years. This is the current incarnation.

F: And who are these lovely ladies?

SC: Penny Hill. We’re friends from back in Oklahoma. She plays bass. And then Anne Lillis. She’s from Akron.

F: (Turning to Anne) I lived in Stow. There’s always a Stow connection!

AL: I lived off one of the main roads in Cuyahoga Falls

F: Well welcome to Utah. Is this your first time playing here?

AL: I’ve played  in Salt Lake City before.

PH: I’ve never been here.

F: Do you like the snow on the mountains? In June?

All: Yah … it’s great.

F: Not so much …

SC: Well, it’s awesome to me because I’m all over the place anyway, so I never really have to be around anything for too long. It’s cool, then I’m over it.

F: What happened to the tour van?

SC: Actually, it wasn’t a van; it was an SUV, then I had my trailer. There were 289,000 miles on it over the past 2 years, and … yah. Graveyard. It’s just hanging out until I can get someone to buy it for parts. It wasn’t like we were on the road and it blew up or anything, although I have had that happen to tour vehicles before. This was just one of those things where we got home from tour, and we had a few months off, and it was already in pretty bad condition when I got back home, and over the 2 or 3 months that I was driving it around, it was just kind of like, “I’m done.” But it did exactly what I needed it to do for 289,000 miles, so you know …

F: On your site, there used to be a link where you could go out and make donations.

SC: We’re still doing that.

F: Where is it? because I poked around on the site and I couldn’t find it.

SC: Oh … on our *website* website? They might have changed it. I need to put that back up because we do have a Feed the Muse account, and that’s still going on, but I have to re-post it on Facebook every now and then because it gets shuffled down through the things. We’re going to redo the website, so we’ll probably have a permanent link cuz yah–we’re definitely still doing that. We’re borrowing a car for the summer. Literally. My dad is letting us borrow a car of his, and my mom is doing without a car so we can go on tour this summer.

F: This is the part that blows me away. A few months ago, you were working in a diner.

SC: Pizza place.

F: And now, you’re on this extensive North American tour, and you’ll be playing at a festival in England. How did you do it?

SC: It’s not a “How did you do it?” thing. It’s how I’m able to tour sometimes. Touring, really, just like costs money somtimes more than it earns money. It’s not like it’s a success story by any means. I’ve been touring for about 5 years, and we’ve played some big shows, and we’ve played some really small shows. It’s a constant roller coaster thing. As long as I’m doing something. I realized that we didn’t have a tour vehicle, so I needed to be making money and not spending the money I had saved up, so I had to get a job.

F: I think that’s amazing.

SC: I would rather *not* have a job so that I could have time to write and record, you know, but whatever it calls for, I guess.

F: You’re working on new music.

SC: Yah, it’s coming. It’s slow, it’s coming a lot slower this time, but we’re working on stuff. We’re lining up recording times right now because what we’re going to do instead of doing a full album next, we’re going to, ove ra period of 8-9 months, release singles done by different producers, done digitally and also on 7″ with B-side recordings. It’s going to be kind of like a throw-back thing, more of like what they did in the 40s and 50s. So people will get a little bit at a time, which I htink kind of works for this digital media age that we live in now anyways, I think that kind of makes more sense to peoples’ attention spans now, than what a full album release does. It also makes more sense, I think. It’s not like I don’t like doing full albums, I love doing full albums. I like that a lot, but it’s getting to a point where people don’t buy albums; they burn them off their friends and get them illegally off the internet, or they download them of iTunes, which iTunes is good, but some of these other sites that sell them, like Amazon for example, sells my album for like $5, and I don’t know how they do that, but they do.

F: But you still get full royalties.

SC: I don’t know if I do … I don’t really know how it works, honestly. I know that it’s something through Sony. So maybe Sony’s not getting paid or something? I don’t really know how that Amazon thing works. But a lot of people do that, so … albums really don’t make money for artists anymore, and so they end up spending all this money on making an album, recording it, printing it, then they never get any of that back. They never recoup any of that. I think this way, people are more likeyly to say, “I have $3-4 to buy a 7” or something like that. Then it becomes a more gradual payment. People are more readily able to buy a 99 cent single download than they can $9.99 full CD download. I don’t know. We’re just trying something new, seeing if it works out any better.

It’s also a better model for me right now too, just because of like the way I’ve been writing lately, which has been slowly so this kind of lets it be no so overwhelming about thinking about “I need to write 11 songs for an album.” This way, I can think about having 3-4 songs for the next 3-4 recording sessions, and then I can focus on the next 3-4 songs.

F: Do you have free time? What do you like to do in your free time?

SC: Free time … yah, I’ve got free time. I mean, I guess I’ve got free time. Probably have more free time than the average person actually. When you’re touring, you’re in the car a lot, so that’s I guess free time cuz you’re not really doing anything but you CAN’T do anything cuz you’re just driving. When I’m at home, I guess I have free time. I don’t know if I’m the wisest user of free time. I do read a lot, and I started painting a lot this winter but more out of necessity. I like painting, but I needed to sell some paintings so I could get some money, so it was more out of necessity.

F: Did you do the album art for “Songs in the Night”?

SC: No, that’s actually a friend of mine from Oklahoma City named Chad Mount. He’s a painter, and he did that album.

F: What about Confiscation?

SC: Yah. The first printing of COnfiscation, I did the cover for that.

F: I think that’s the one I have, which sadly I couldn’t find because I actually have physical CDs. I mean, it’s cool that you can download them too, but to have CDs? I tried the download model for a while …

SC: I know that there are people that do like CDs. I’m one of them. I like to have physical CDs too, but it just so happens that I gues sthere are more people that don’t, and they’re ruining it for everyone else.

F: I know! Jerks! So, what is the most random CD you have in your collection?

SC: Oooh … most random CD …

F: Obscure, random …

PH: Do Vinyls count?

F: Sure.

PH: French Girls?

SC: Oh yah! That’s pretty random. I got this vinyl album back in January called “60 French Girls Can’t Be Wrong,” and it’s a choral CD from the late 60s of this French girl’s choir singing 30s and 40s pop tunes. It’s actually really awesome. It’s pretty random why I would have that in my collection. But I have embarrassing stuff that I’m not embarrassed about things, like Hanson, Britney Spears …

F: I think everyone has those kinds of CDs.

SC: Yah. I have them, and I’m not embarrassed by them.

F: I had Weird Al …

SC: Oh. Umm … yah. I don’t have that. (Laughs)

F: Well, thanks for your time! Good luck tonight.

SC: No problem!

===================

So, some comments about the convo. The thing that struck me is just how down to earth she is. She sat on the couch and chatted with me and my wife as if it were no problem … probably because it *was* no problem. She’s friendly, her smile could warm Barrow, Alaska in January, and she effortlessly carries a conversation like we’re long lost friends catching up.

Her star is rising at a meteoric rate, yet she doesn’t wait for the world to come to her; she goes and takes the world as it is and recognizes what needs to be done to make her dream stick. I point to the part of the conversation about working in the pizza place. She makes this incredible music, does all kinds of interviews with all kinds of organizations and magazines, goes on tour, THEN goes home and works at the local pizza place so she can go back out on tour, borrowing her parent’s car?! Come on. That’s NOT a success story? I 100% disagree. I think it is THE success story against which all other success stories should be measured. Why? Easy: she’s fighting tooth and nail to keep her dream alive. She goes on tour, then comes home and goes back to a normal, every day life, and thinks absolutely nothing of it. Nothing is being handed to her. Well, almost nothing. This is the other part that I just love: her parents lend her a car so she can go on tour, while her mom goes without to give her girl the dream she so desperately fights for. Yah. That’s success.

If she comes to your part of the world, make an effort to see her show. You will be a better person for having gone.

Concert Review: Samantha Crain in Salt Lake City

I don’t even know where to begin with this one. Should it be the fact that she went out of her way to grant an interview? That during the interview, she was so down to earth that I couldn’t help but feel like we had known each other for years instead of mere minutes? How about the fact that this tiny little spitfire put on a show that kept people coming on to the floor immediately in front of the stage?

Where to start …

I guess I’ll just go in chronological order. At this point, it seems to make the most sense.

First off, I should mention that this is going to be a two-parter post: The concert review, and the discussion/interview we had. Again … damn. They really don’t come any more laid back than she.

So concert review. Here it is, from the top.

The venue was The Urban Lounge. I hadn’t been to a show there, so I did some poking around. Not a lot of favorable reviews, sadly. Even my friend in Colorado who had been to a show couldn’t think of a good thing to say. “It’s hot, AC sucks, sound system sucks … not my favorite place for a concert.” For all the reviews I read and all the dialog about the place I had had, I can’t help but say this: y’all are wrong. Okay … not about the AC. It was really warm in there. However, the intimacy of the venue trumps pretty much everything. The stage is tiny. The dance floor is tiny. Actually, the whole venue is tiny. It’s only designed to hold about 300 people, and there were possibly 200 people there last night. Very, very intimate place for a show. And I *loved* it. Our “seats” were bar stools on the fringe of the dance floor. I could have thrown a feather and hit the stage (if that feather were tied to a tiny pebble, or maybe a wad of semi-compacted paper).That’s how close the seats were.

My intent was to take pics and video the whole show. Both were accomplished, but not in the manner I had anticipated. I was hoping that I could just prop up my phone and record the show. That was tossed out within the first 2 minutes of the first song as everyone rushed the stage and staked their claim to band proximity. Hey … who am I to complain? Newbie to the venue, rules already well-established … who am I to demand a straight shot at the stage? No … I adapted and made the best of my newly acquired understanding of how the vibe works there. I held my phone aloft for all 10 songs (11, if you want to count the Britney Spears tribute for Will), and it looks great. Even better than I had planned. Lots of crowd interaction, lots of needing to maneuver to get a better angle because of the crowd … all of whom were awesomely enthusiastic to be there for Samantha, Penny and Anne.

Samantha opened her set with “Lions,” off her newest CD You (Understood). The first thing I noticed, and I love this about an artist, is that she sounds even better live than she does on her CDs. This takes NOTHING away from her studio performances, but man … the girl can rock out. And rock out she did. She danced and stomped around the stage with her guitar, threw her head back and let the moment sink in, never missing a note or a beat. Her feet were constantly moving. Her music and moves were of one mind. And her smile! What a genuinely awesome smile she has. Her music and love for it is so sincere that she cannot keep from smiling while she’s playing. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. The passion she displays for her art and for making sure the fans get everything out of her show that she can offer are the only things she’s worried about while on stage.

She’s also aligned herself with Penny Hill (bassist) and Anne Lillis (drummer). They equally throw themselves into the moment. Anne set my “wow” factor for drummers to an all-time high. Just … WOW. One quick note from the interview: Penny and Anne were on another couch while I chatted with Samantha. Very unassuming, quiet, and low-key. Yah … that was all left in the green room once the show started. Anne took her sticks, and with fluidity like I’ve never seen, she began pounding away in anthemic rhythm. She was Niagara Falls, flowing relentlessly and careening over the edge in one million gallons of pure drumming, crashing down upon her drumset with unbridled passion. Penny, the bassist, matched Anne pace for pace in her energy, constantly bouncing around the stage and enjoying every minute, her fingers flying up and down the frets as she sweetly and crooningly sang harmony and back-up. MOST excellent.

Their energy and playing was infectious, which the crowd obviously picked up on this vibe cuz the floor kept filling up with each passing minute, all longing to be part of that energy. And let’s face it … who wouldn’t want to be part of that energy?

On the next song, “Songs in the Night,” Samantha traded in the mini-guitar solo opening for a kazoo solo.  I don’t know if the guys next to us were digging or making fun of it, but we loved it. Practically no one uses a kazoo anymore, but it fit so perfectly with the intro that going back and listening to the studio track almost seems … incomplete? This is the magic of Samantha Crain–“Surprise! Here’s a kazoo intro. Didn’t see that coming, did ya?!” Love it!

Here’s the entire set list from the show:

  • Lions
  • Songs in the Night
  • Equinox
  • Holdin’ that Move
  • New Song (not sure what it was called … something about convertibles)
  • Scissor Tales
  • Get the Fever Out
  • Religious Winds
  • Two-Sidedness
  • Toxic (Britney Spears cover, tribute to Will)
  • Up on the Table

Here are some pics from the show.

 

Videos of the show can be found on my YouTube channel.

For supposedly being an “opening act” for Langhorne Slim, she got the crowd on their feet and kept them there until well after the last note. After the show, I made it a point to get her attention before we left so that I could once again thank her for her time earlier in the evening for the interview and for such a spectacular show. What ended the night on such a personal high note was the huge, glowing smile that greeted me. I’m telling you … the girl has class. She knows how to make people happy, which is simply by being her good-natured self. I’ll get more into it when I write about the interview/conversation, but for now, just know that she is as geniunely friendly and kind a person as you can imagine, and my life is better for having met her.

Samantha Crain, thank you. 🙂

Pre-Interview Jitters

Tonight, my wife and I are going to see Samantha Crain and Langhorne Slim, in that chronological importance order. I fully admit I’m not familiar with Langhorne’s music, but I’ve seen some clips on YouTube. He’ll be a good show, definitely. Not sure if I’ll have enough battery to record EVERYthing tonight, but here’s hoping.

Along with going to the show, Samantha Crain has been kind enough to grant me an interview! I’m seriously stoked about this. However, I have some reservations, none of which have to do with her specifically. From what I’ve noticed, she’s totally down to earth, easy to chat with, and extremely gracious. My nervousness stems from the venue itself.

The Urban Lounge prides itself on being a hipster hangout, replete with all the nonchalance of clearing out voicemails on their phone, not really caring about what someone orders drink-wise as long as said orderer has a drink thrust in his or her hand … really, I get the feeling that the employees there are really just riding the “I’m getting paid to watch awesome music” wave. So here’s my problem. She asked that I meet her at the venue at a specific time. That’s fine … except the doors don’t open until 9, and no one shows up until then to let anyone in. So … what am I supposed to do? Wander around to the back and say, “Yah … I’m looking for Samantha Crain?” Sure you do, buddy. You and the other 298 people coming tonight. “No, really … she said I could interview her here tonight.” I bet she did. Tell ya what, why don’t you text her and tell her you’re here?

See, if the venue employees can’t be bothered to show up before the show actually starts, our meeting time becomes kind of a hit-and-miss thing. So, while she has been kind enough to set up an interview, I don’t know if it’ll actually happen. I really hope it does, but if it doesn’t, I won’t be surprised. I’m even bracing myself for it, just in case it falls through.

Proud Parenting Moment

My wife is off galavanting with the cub scouts today. I had to go to work. Therefore, my daughters needed to be watched. As my wife had to be to her designated meeting place at 6:15, I took the girls to our friends’ house on my way to work. During the drive to drop them off, System of a Down’s “Streamline” came on. As the girls were sitting quietly in the back seat and I was semi-half-heartedly (so … does that make it a quarter-heartedly?) singing along, basically to myself, it got to the chorus. “(I wasn’t there for you) You are gone  (I wasn’t there for you) Goodbyes are long, Goodbye … (I wasn’t there for you) Goodbye. I wasn’t there for goodbye …” And so on and so forth. My six year old pipes up from the back, “Hey, daddy! He sounds like YOU!!!”

Well! That’s quite the high compliment! Granted, it’s coming from a 6 year old who thinks Justin Bieber is the end-all of music (which is precisely why I’m playing other stuff around them when I can), but hey–I’ll take it!

Maybe it’s because my throat is really sore … not sure if it’s allergies or a cold settling in my larynx, but either way, today, I just couldn’t keep up with him.  Normally, I can hit that last “BYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYE!” that lasts something like 10-12 seconds or whatever. Today, though … nothin’. Gave it one shot, and decided my voice needed the rest more than anything.

So a bragging moment. Sort of. Mostly because my daughter is starting to be able to recognize voice similarities and such. THAT is excellent. And I will never tell her to her face that I think Justin Bieber is useless when it comes to contributing musically to the world, She will come into her own as to her musical tastes, and I will not quash anything along the way. Unless it’s hard-core gansta rap or incites a riot. My mom gave me the same gift growing up–excellent music. Of course, she bought me stuff like Ravel’s Bolero, William Tell’s Overture … classical music, which to this day I still love. On my own, I discovered Hall and Oates, Huey Lewis, The Cars, Madonna, Journey … bands that *I* liked. At no point did my mom ever try to tell me, “Umm … no. That sucks. Turn it off.” It was only later in life that I learned just how cheesy Hall and Oates were, and how 50s-era rock-influenced Huey Lewis really was, and how risque Madonna was/is/probably always will be. My daughter will have the same privileges that I had growing up, with the added knowledge of my ever-expanding music collection.

So maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to put up with Beiber-esque junkie hud crap when she ends up collecting her own music. Here’s hoping.

 

iTunes and iCloud First Thoughts

It is here. iCloud is now a reality. What does that mean for those of us with an iTunes account?

Truthfully, I’m not sure.

Here’s my thing. I have Audiogalaxy installed on my phone. It’s free. From anywhere I can get a semi-decent signal–wi-fi or 3G–I can listen to my entire music collection … not just 25000 songs worth. APparently, that’s the cap on how many songs you can have iTunes match. Why there’s a cap at all is beyond me, but whatever. There is. At an average of approximately 10 songs per CD, that’s 2500 CDs. I’m fairly certain the average listener doesn’t have that much.

I do. And them some. So what am I supposed to do? I can’t create 2 accounts because my phone can only be recognized by one account at a time. If I try downloading songs from another account, I’m sure I’ll get lambasted for trying to. So that’s not really an option.

Now I’m back to the fact that Audiogalaxay has EVERYTHING I own available through its app. Granted, I can’t download a particular song … but I do not have to because IT’S ON MY FRIGGIN’ HARD DRIVE AT HOME.

To be fair, I do see one application where iTunes in the Cloud could be useful. It makes for a handy back-up system. I’d create multiple accounts to host 25000 songs each. Ha ha! Then if a hard drive dies or goes kaput, I can re-download them. But then again, where their songs are only encoded at 256kbps, mine are all encoded at 320kbps. Gain some hard drive space; lose some sound quality. And yes–I’m one of “those” audiophiles.

One thing I *really* like about this new cloud service is the availability of apps I’ve long since forgotten I had due to a reformat and loss of all apps. THAT is pretty cool. ANY app I’ve ever purchased is available to download. Slick. Hopefully, Apple doesn’t “fix” that little hiccup (cuz it kind of seems like it shouldn’t be that way for some reason, right?)

Anyway, I’ll reserve judgment for when I actually start using the service. Maybe I’ll find more to like. Maybe I won’t. For now though, I’m content to download my old apps!

 

Google Creativity

Say what you will about their apps: Google is just downright creative. Have you seen their homepage today? In honor of Les Paul, they created a pretty cool little guitar string logo. And yes–you can strum it and record your tracks. Pretty nice, eh? Here’s one I came up with from “doodling.”

Thank you, Les Paul, for some amazing guitars. Thank you, musical artists, who have supported Les in his guitar making endeavors and making some incredible music. I mean … just look at this list. It’s practically a “who’s who” of the guitar world.

Maybe it’s just me, and maybe it’s the fact that Les Pauls tend to carry a certain mystique to them, but it just feels like, for a guitar player, touching a Les Paul is akin hoisting the Stanely Cup. It’s the coup de grace. The holy grail. Not being a guitarist, I can’t say that definitively, but it just seems like it. And why shouldn’t it be? Is there a more recognized name in guitars? Not that I’m aware of.

Going to A Perfect Circle!

Kingsbury Hall holds just over 1900 people: 1030 in the orchestra level, 730 in the balcony, and a smattering of seats along the sides.

On August 1, A Perfect Circle is performing. Looks like the show sold out already, too. Not a surprise, given the fact that it holds less than 2000 people.

I’m in. The truly amazing thing is that we’re going to be within 60-70 feet of the band. That’s pretty cool.

This is going to be an incredible show. It’s an intimate venue, and it’s A PERFECT CIRCLE. Don’t see anything about an opening act, but the show starts at 7, so I’m guessing there probably will be someone opening for them. Questions is … who?

On one of APC’s tours, The Mars Volta opened for them. Seriously? How sick would that be?! Cedric AND Maynard in one night? Sadly, I didn’t make it to that show. The last time Tool was here, Trans Am opened for them. Still don’ tknow who they are. Anyway, I highly doubt that TMV would open for APC again, much less on this tour since I haven’t seen anything about it, but still … I can still hope.

Can’t wait. Less than 2 months away now.

Fund This Project on Kickstarter: Rise and Fall of Tower Records Documentary

Sorry for the posting flood. My fellow bloggers over at New Band Day posted this earlier today, and I have to repost. I grew up in southern Ohio and Western New York. As far as I know, we had no Tower Records in our area, but that doesn’t change the enormity nor the importance they played in the music industry. If nothing else, I can respect that immensely.

Their doors closed in 2006. The empire was dead. The story, however, remained relatively unheard.

Enter Colin Hanks. He has taken it upn himself to make a documentary of Tower Records’ history. In an effort to curb funding issues, he’s created a Kickstarter project, and it is literally exploding. While I was perusing the page, over $1000 in donations poured in. Looks like the funding will definitely be there!

For any interested in helping with the project, you can read about and make a contribution here.

The Goodness of Joanna Newsom

A fellow blogging buddy of mine last night wrote that Joanna Newsom was just not her thing. Couldn’t quite get past the voice. To be fair, I understand completely. When I first heard her voice, I was blown away by the raw, unrefined sound to it, and it really caught me off-guard. Her music, with its amazing depth and lushness, was what really kept me coming back for more.

As time wore on and after repeated re-listens of “Milk-Eyed Mother” and “Ys,” I realized just how much I really enjoy the unparalleled uniqueness of her vocals. Some have called her child-like. I disagree. I said it before and I’ll say it again: Alison Shaw has the most child-like voice I’ve ever heard. That’s including Mari Smith, who is 12, so … you know … take that for what it’s worth. As you all should know by now, I *adore* Ali’s voice, and you’ll never read otherwise from me. Which brings me back to Joanna’s uniqueness on her first 2 CDs.

It’s definitely an acquired taste. Her voice can be, dare I say it, un-nerving. One of my other first reactions was the strinking similarity to her style and Bob Dylan’s. 20 years ago, If I were a record producer and I was the one in the studio for his first recording and all I heard were his vocals, I probably would have tossed him out. Yah, that may be met with some harsh criticism and backlash, which is what I would expect from a well-educated musical community. 20 years later, I cantruly appreciate his music for the overall package and not just his nasaly, semi-non-singing approach to vocals. Joanna Newsom is the same way. She is a package deal, and to accept her as an artist (which, just my opinion here, she is very much moreso than 90% of musicians out there today) is to accept the fact that her first two albums were vocally raw and unpolished. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

Now … having said all that, I would *highly* encourage anyone who has any mis-givings about Ms. Newsom’s vocal abilities to please pick up her 3-CD release, Have One on Me. Her vocals are drastically different, and truthfully, I was a tad disappointed when I first heard them. However, I now underestand that we’re just flat-out lucky to even have these new CDs (long story short, she developed vocal nodules and it literally left her voiceless for 2 months, after which she was never able to sing the same way). Her voice now seems much more … normal? I guess …? For wont of a better term, I guess that will have to do. Sadly, in my opinion, it takes just a bit of mystique away that she had in the first 2 CDs.

As my good buddy Kip pointed out the other day, we do not tell someone that their musical opinions are wrong. It’s just not cool. We may disagree and we may present our opinions … heck, some of us may have incredibly strong opinions (read: I do indeed have incredibly strong opinions …) but I will never tell someone that their opinion is wrong because it’s not and never will be. It will always be their opinion, to which he or she is perfectly entitled, just like I’m entitled to my opinions. If they’re similar and we see eye to eye, great! If we have a differing view point, so what? There’s too much music to agree upon to get caught up on telling someone that their opinion is wrong. That’s just ludicrous.

So to you, my SF blogging buddy who may or may not even read this, I respect your opinion to the hilt. I hope you know that by now. You’ve shown me some amazing, fantastic music, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. I just happen to disagree with you on this one small point. Joanna Newsom’s vocals, in my opinion, made her first 2 CDs that much more exhilerating.

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