June 07, 2010
Cool Music Site: TuneWikiCheck out TuneWiki, a cool music site, which I learned about at last week's Israel Conference. The below video gives you a taste of what you can do using TuneWiki....I only wish it was a little easier to find out what they do on their website since they don't even have an About Us section. Click play to learn more.
May 31, 2010
Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk Gets Santa Cruz Moving
The Santa Cruz Blues Festival is one of the Bay Area's Memorial Day weekend traditions, and Saturday's opening-day concert was a perfect introduction to the season, with a warm sun, cloudless sky, and happy dancing people stripping off winter clothes and starting on summer tans.
There were five performers on Saturday, including a group from New Orleans called Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk.
With a name like that you think of George Clinton and that's in there, but it sounded more Sly and the Family Stone with an extra bass and a rock-n-roll drum kit, almost like a funk garage band. I even thought about Edgar Winter a couple of times.
Two of the members are descendants of the Neville Brothers, with Ivan singing and talking from the keyboard like he was preaching from the choir, and Ian on lead guitar moving comfortably from funky counterpoint for the bass lines to guitar hero solos.
Ivan Neville Raymond Weber and Ian Neville
Drummer Raymond Weber played like the guy you want in charge of your Neighborhood Watch - substantial and secure without drawing attention to himself except when necessary.
What makes their sound, though, is that they have two bass players, Nick Daniels (below left) and Tony Hall (below right), and you can spend the entire set completely absorbed in what they are doing. Sometimes Daniels would put out a traditional funk sound while Hall would provide a lower rock-n-roll thump, at other times one line would be a quasi-solo with some wa-wa while the other was an accompaniment.
They used four-string and five-string basses to give them more range. With the variety in texture and pitch they often found that place between the bass and lead guitar, almost like the way violas sit between the violins and cellos in a symphony. It was always interesting and sounded new.
You'd worry that all this low funk would mean nothing but bass would be coming off the stage but the swirly keyboards and the vocals and Ian Neville's guitar, sometimes filling, sometimes virtuoso, all shone through. The absence of brass is another thing that gives this band a flavor that goes beyond traditional funk. It's bottom-heavy but doesn't get stuck in its swamp.
For the last number Ivan came off the keyboard and picked up the
that Hall had played for some of the numbers. Ian played a solo that
wouldn't have been out of place in early Pearl Jam and the rest of them
met in that perfect place where only music can takes you and not often enough and with their playing confirmed the
Nietzsche quote about how life without music would be a mistake.
What I liked most about the band was that I felt like I got to know them a little bit. I could imagine them playing around in the studio or a local club. There was nothing about their playing that made me think about market research, or that they built their sound or personality based on what someone told them would sell.
Some bands all you hear is how they sound like someone else, but not these guys. It's also easy to imagine them fitting into the ecumenical New Orleans soundscape, where the primary requirements are that you get your music to move and that you not be boring in how you do it.
May 30, 2010
Taj Mahal LIVES the BluesInternationally recognized blue musician Taj Mahal (stage name for Henry Saint Clair Fredericks) played at the Santa Cruz Blues Festival this weekend. His stage name apparently came to him in a dream about Gandhi and India.
Winner of two Grammy Awards, Taj played up a storm with guitar, banjo and keyboard and while he didn't play the harmonica yesterday, it is yet another instrument in his bag of tricks.
Every Blues festival needs performers like Taj Mahal, who sounds as though he's played the music every day for as long as he has lived. He had a set-long conversation with his guitar, mostly about women and lovin', and he welcomed us to listen in.
With passion and humor, he fuses sounds from Africa, the South Pacific, the Caribbean and traditional American blues to get his audience moving. He asks the girls to scream and the guys to hollar. He then asks all of us to shout and adds a bit of relationship advice for all the men in the audience - "men, do yourself a favor, learn how to dance and you won't have any more problems."
Below, Taj's bass player Bill Rich
What I loved most about his candid style was not just the fact that his music was all blues, but his raw authenticity, his quiet energy and his ability to make you smile with every note he hit on his guitar.....simultaneously he adds witty words of wisdom into the mix.
He has played with Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, Ry Cooder and Lightnin' Hopkins as well as in the legendary Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus. Critics describe his voice as "gruff, gritty, smooth and sultry" all at the same time.
Emphasizing dance more than once on stage, Taj is a musician who wants his audience to move and I might add: move as if you mean it. And believe me, I did and loved every minute of it.
May 29, 2010
Santa Cruz Blues Festival: Authentic & IntimateBrad Kava, co-owner of the Santa Cruz Blues Festival talks about this year's Blues Festival which is being held this weekend at Aptos Village Park.
The event drew more than 2,000 people today who threw down blankets and beach chairs and took in New Orleans style pork and ribs, draft beer and music from the likes of Ben Harper & Relentless7, Taj Mahal, Joseph Arthur, Eric Lindell and Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk. Sunday is sold out but those lucky enough to have purchased a ticket in advance will be able to take in Buddy Guy, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band, Eric Burdon & The Animals, and Coco Montoya Was (Not Was).
May 16, 2010
Who Said Venture Capitalists Can't Sing?Who said VCs can't sing? It's a funny thing when you see people from one environment in another one - your brain does a quick re-wire and you quickly remember that everyone has another side -- in fact several... Jill Sobule's fun-filled song Karen by Night says it all.
Below we hear from VCs and technology entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley most of us who live here all know - by day. By day, they make deals happen, are addicted to their mobile devices and sometimes dress like geeks. By night, however, these five well known names cut loose.
They call themselves Cover Flow and the videos below give you a taste of how much fun geeks can have after the lights go down.
Facebook's Prashant Fuloria and Ethan Beard are on guitar, Philip Kaplan (now with Blippy) is on drums, Norwest's Tim Chiang is on bass and Raj Kapoor from Mayfield shows us that it's not just his voice that has energy. Get ready to tap and perhaps even dance when you hit play.
May 10, 2010
iPod! Convenience! Mobility! Who needs Quality?
The New York Times is finally addressing a subject of concern for some time.
I have largely avoided the iPod revolution because listening to a Mahler mp3, particularly on decent equipment, is more depressing even than his songs about dead children. It is hospital food for the ears.
Now I am at last converting some 1,800 CDs because a 2T drive can be purchased at the dollar store and stuffed with tracks using lossless transfers. Finally, a reason to rip the "Ode to Joy" and the Hallelujah Chorus.
Broach this subject with the citizens of iPod nation and you'll be called a music snob, or worse, old. But you're really a preservationist, insisting on a quality of life as one would by not eating at Buffet Barf or by drinking something better than Chateau Sous-La-Table.
The iPod, in moderation, is a wonderful invention. It's good to have less stuff around the house. Cheers to the departure of those skinny six-foot high CD towers - especially the ones with the sinuous curves that make you think the earthquake is happening now, and that remind us of a future of interior design discarded sometime around Kubrick's 2001, or the TWA terminal at Kennedy.
It's even better to be able to have music with you wherever you go. (Supposedly Apple is working on an embedded player. The iBod will be placed in the torso - there's an Appendix for that - via a proprietary surgical procedure, with wireless file transfers. A blogger I know seduced a prototype host from a pub in Sunnyvale, so stay tuned and please, V______, bar your doors.)
"So, old snob, go ahead and listen to Stokowski on your tube system and crank up the Edsel, just don't preach to me." But when fewer people buy decent playback equipment then it stops being made or costs 10x.
And when the most important feature of a digital recording is that it be LOUDER than the last one so you'll pay more attention to it - as when commercials are louder than program content - well, it's no wonder Nietzsche went mad.
It ruins music, just like crap food ruins eating. Our expectations are gradually lowered so that we care less about quality, because we're not exposed to it and we're less able to discern its presence.
So play your iPod. Play it on the subway, play it in the shower. But go out and buy some decent speakers, man, and an amp or music system worthy of them. You don't have to make your house look like an old Who concert Good sound can come in small packages.
Even when it's only background music if it sounds better you'll feel happier, be more productive, get along famously with others, put this country back on the rails.
Don't pretend that you can't hear the difference, either, just so that you won't feel bad for choosing mediocrity. And if you really can't hear the difference.......listen.
Music is maybe the best thing we've been given in this life and it deserves our undivided attention.
And if you keep ripping at 128 may "Afternoon Delight" be your iPod's eternal recurrence.
May 09, 2010
SF MusicTech SummitThe SF MusicTech Summit hits San Francisco at the Hotel Kabuki on May 17, 2010. The event brings together visionaries in the music/technology space, along with the best and brightest developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians and organizations who work with them at the convergence of culture and commerce. Discussions on and off the stage evolve around where music interjects in the business and technology ecosystem. Buy tickets here.
April 28, 2010
Bhi Bhiman on Struggle & InjusticeBhi Bhiman is a folk singer who writes lyrics about struggle and injustice. Originally Sri Lankan, he now lives in San Francisco. His parents are Sri Lankan Tamils who overcame incredible odds to emigrate to the U.S. in the 1960s.
LOOP!STATION: Enchanting Mix of Dreamy Vocals & CelloLOOP!STATION is a musical duo: Sam Bass on cello and Robin Coomer on vocals. Together, they produce a dreamy, mystical, captivating and enchanting blend of sounds that brings you on a musical journey worth tuning into. I didn't shoot the entire song but below, you'll get a wonderful 3 minute experience of their style.
April 27, 2010
Gods Creation Embellishes Gratitude & MusicNew York street musicians Dell (lead singer in the orange shirt), Dez (second), Sergio (tenor), Prince (baratone) and Yossef (bass) sing on New York City streets not far from Union Square. They call themselves Gods Creation: 2nd Chance because they all feel they have been given one. Once upon a time, drugs ran their lives. Today, it's music and gratitude.