Thursday, November 29, 2007

Jozef Bobula, and other mid-week updates

I blogged a while back about another musician to relocate here recently, Slovakian born Jozef Bobula.

Couple of mp3 cuts he sent me last night: Partita in B Minor, and Sonata in G minor. Played solo on his tenor bass. Nice stuff. Check out his MySpace for more cuts (click his name).



I signed up for this "Digg" service today. Found this article right away. Interesting.

Universal Music CEO Doug Morris Speaks, Recording Industry in Even Deeper Shit Than We Thought

In the December issue of Wired, Seth Mnookin sits down with Universal Music Group CEO/supervillain Doug Morris for a pretty excellent profile. In it, Mnookin paints the 68-year old Morris as a crotchety executive who's upset that he can't focus more on simple product and artist development because he's too busy worrying about iPods, MP3s, and his company's digital strategy (which was never really supposed to be part of his job description when he took the gig in 1995). In a way, he almost comes off as cute, like if your grandfather were accidentally hired to run Google (at one point, Morris hilariously compares his embattled industry to a character in "Li'l Abner," a comic strip that stopped running in 1977).

As for his actual digital strategy, it's pretty much what we expected — Morris's singular goal these days is to limit the power of Steve Jobs and iTunes. He puts most of his energy into designing Universal's own Internet music store (Total Music, which is definitely doomed to fail), cutting deals with Apple competitor Microsoft for a piece of those massive Zune profits, and heroically doing all he can to make it even more difficult for consumers to justify paying for music online. But then he says something so ridiculous it sort of blows our minds.

When Morris is asked why the music business didn't work harder, in the early days of file-sharing, to build its own (legal) online presence, there's this exchange:

"There's no one in the record industry that's a technologist," Morris explains. "That's a misconception writers make all the time, that the record industry missed this. They didn't. They just didn't know what to do. It's like if you were suddenly asked to operate on your dog to remove his kidney. What would you do?"

Personally, I would hire a vet. But to Morris, even that wasn't an option. "We didn't know who to hire," he says, becoming more agitated. "I wouldn't be able to recognize a good technology person — anyone with a good bullshit story would have gotten past me."

Even though we shouldn't be, we're actually a little shocked. We'd always assumed the labels had met with a team of technology experts in the late nineties and ignored their advice, but it turns out they never even got that far — they didn't even try! Understanding the Internet certainly isn't easy — especially for an industry run by a bunch of technology-averse sexagenarians — but it's definitely not impossible. The original Napster hit its peak in 1999 — kids born since then have hacked into CIA computers. Surely it wouldn't have taken someone at Universal more than a month or two to learn enough about the Internet to know who to call to answer a few questions. They didn't even have any geeky interns? We give this industry six months to live.

One of the comments is instructive:

I worked at Universal Records in 1999 after graduating college. They had no interest in anything but the usual corporate cut throat path to personal success. Everyone was out for themselves and looking to spend on their company cards. There was no incentive to think about the future because years of record label monoplization blinded the sense of those in charge to Napster and progress. I don't think Morris didn't know who to ask, he legitimately didn't care.


(click the cartoon to enlarge)

Below, metaphor for RIAA music toll gates on the internet:


Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Nov 26th gig at The Palms - Fat City Central

Santa Fe list email today from Jerry Lopez:
Tonight is the last night that the original Fat City Horns will be with the band for a couple of months. As most of you know, Bette Midler came in to see the band and hired the whole horn section. They leave for New York in a couple of days and will spend a month out there, and then the month of January in Los Angeles rehearsing for her upcoming show at Caesars Palace. She is replacing Celine Dion in that showroom.

We are all very happy for our guys and will miss them. In the meantime we have assembled an incredible group of horn players to take their place while they are gone: Tom Delibero, Glen Colby, Wes Marshall, Dave Philipus, Eric Tewalt, Dave Stambaugh, and Miguel Rodriguez.

Come and have a drink with the guys and lets send them off to "represent" the Vegas musicians in New York and Los Angeles.
Here come The Fat City Ho-o-o-o-o-o-o-rns...!!! (mp3)


OK, 2:47 and I'm weedin' through my shots in iPhoto. I'll post incrementally as I work through all this stuff. What a great, great night. The energy level got wound up so high! First, Happy Birthday to Lenny Lopez, Jerry's much older brother, LOL!

Props to our bro' Jerry Jones of the fabulous Fifth Avenue for again sittin' in on "Come Together."

Carlos Perez, back in off the Ricky Martin world tour, stepped up to do "Oh, Nena," which he sang on the 2005 live CD.

New Fat City Horns alto cat Dave Stambaugh is a serious Bad Boy. He's gonna fill in for Phil Wigfall just fine.

Below, I copped a pretty decent shot a Gabriel tonight, dim light in the back notwithstanding. Shot that at ISO 1600. Below that, tryin' to get a decent shot of Pepe. His drum solo (preceded by a Rochon over-the-top bass ride) at the end of the gig during "We Are Nothing" blew the roof off the place, BTW.

The guys did two unreal new originals tonight for the first time, "What'cha Gonna Do With That Greazy Thing," (a swampy Dave Richardson funk thing that broke out in a New Orleans street jam at the end) and, totally in Spanish, "Si Te Vas," (co-written by Dave Richardson, Jerry, and Carlos Perez) with Jerry Lopez singing the latter in jaw-dropping fashion. Those tunes drews gasps and wild cheers. These cats are just too good, man, wow.

Country music star Brian White came to hang tonight (to Jerry's right). Very nice cat. He dug it, to put it mildly.


OK, Check this out. Pic of Brian White with our brother and frequent guest artist St. Paul Peterson (now touring with my hero Kenny Loggins).

Well, that explains a lot, LOL! Go to Brian's MySpace page, listen to his tune "When You Come Around." That puppy made me well up almost in tears. Great writing, great voice. I am all into the funk and jazz stuff, but, man, I love good progressive country music. The writing and singing can be so good (e.g. one of my favorite young cats is Aussie Jedd Hughes) and one of my old buds from Knoxville, Gary Loyd, who sang lead on my 1982 demo of "Without Loving You," now writes on staff for Clint Black. Serious writing goin' on in Nashville. Gotta love it.

Brian White just got added to my list.

More pics randomly below...

Below, Andy Ebon returns triumphantly yet again to the Seat of Funk to throw down his funky moves during "Soul Trilogy."

So, we say bon voyage to our esteemed Fat City Horns I for a couple of months as they go to NYC and then LA for intensive Bette Midler rehearsals. Enter Fat City Horns II. No problem.

What a band.

Remember, next Monday, December 3rd. Marco Mendoza, Joey Heredia, and Steve Weingart -- The TRIO -- will join us to throw down. Oh, yeah!


This is mainly for my friend Jessica Marciel.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Merry HallowThanksMas

LOL! Is it just me, or does it seem that these holidays this year are just running together in a blur? Tomorrow night will be just 4 weeks from Christmas Eve! Hmmm...what to buy?

Well, yeah, of course we want you to get copies of Dave and Lenny's now re-issued masterwork Christmas CD. Click here for mp3 samples and online ordering. You can pick 'em up at the gig on Monday nights at The Palms, too. Ten bucks. Buy one for every fireplace stocking!

Beyond that, you might find this website interesting as a worthy Christmas shopping venue. I ran into it earlier today while surfing one of my usual blog hangs.

Some background info on the Wiki about the parent organization here, SERRV International. From the website:
Our mission is to promote the social and economic progress of people in developing regions of the world by marketing their products in a just and direct manner.

Our goal is to alleviate poverty and empower low-income people through trade, training and other forms of capacity building as they work to improve their lives. SERRV has worked to assist artisans and farmers for more than 55 years through the following:
  • Marketing their handcrafts and food products in a just and direct manner.
  • Educating consumers in the United States about economic justice and other cultures.
  • Providing development assistance to low-income craftspeople through their community-based organizations.
SERRV International was one of the first alternative trade organizations in the world and was a founding member of the International Fair Trade Association (IFAT).

We offer our artisan and farmer partners up to 50% advance payment on orders. This advance helps them to purchase raw materials and have a more regular income so they can avoid high interest rates from borrowing locally.
They have a very extensive catalog of goods spanning a wide breadth of categories, stuff from around the world, most of the items extremely moderately priced. Check 'em out. You might find some really pleasing original gifts while helping spread the wealth to underdeveloped areas.

See y'all at the gig tomorrow night.

- BobbyG

UPDATE: "Art in general is not considered work"

Some stuff I just read by Academy Award nominee writer Joss Whedon about the ongoing Writers' Strike.

Reporters are funny people. At least, some of the New York Times reporters are. Their story on the strike was the most dispiriting and inaccurate that I read. But it also contained one of my favorite phrases of the month.

“All the trappings of a union protest were there… …But instead of hard hats and work boots, those at the barricades wore arty glasses and fancy scarves.”

Oh my God. Arty glasses and fancy scarves. That is so cute! My head is aflame with images of writers in ruffled collars, silk pantaloons and ribbons upon their buckled shoes. A towering powdered wig upon David Fury’s head, and Drew Goddard in his yellow stockings (cross-gartered, needless to say). Such popinjays, we! The entire writers’ guild as Leslie Howard in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Delicious.

Except this is exactly the problem. The easiest tactic is for people to paint writers as namby pamby arty scarfy posers, because it’s what most people think even when we’re not striking. Writing is largely not considered work. Art in general is not considered work. Work is a thing you physically labor at, or at the very least, hate. Art is fun. (And Hollywood writers are overpaid, scarf-wearing dainties.) It’s an easy argument to make. And a hard one to dispute.

My son is almost five. He is just beginning to understand what I do as a concept. If I drove a construction crane he’d have understood it at birth. And he’d probably think I was King of all the Lands in my fine yellow crane. But writing – especially writing a movie or show, where people other than the writer are all saying things that they’re clearly (to an unschooled mind) making up right then – is something to get your head around.

And as work? Well, in the first place, it IS fun. When it’s going well, it’s the most fun I can imagine having. (Tim Minear might dispute that.) And when it’s not going well, it’s often not going well in the company of a bunch of funny, thoughtful people. So how is that work? You got no muscles to show for it (yes, the brain is a muscle, but if you show it to people it’s usually because part of your skull has been torn off and that doesn’t impress the ladies – unless the ladies are ZOMBIES! Where did this paragraph go?) Writing is enjoyable and ephemeral. And it’s hard work.

It’s always hard. Not just dealing with obtuse, intrusive studio execs, temperamental stars and family-prohibiting hours. Those are producer issues as much as anything else. Not just trying to get your first script sold, or seen, or finished, when nobody around believes you can/will/should… the ACT of writing is hard. When Buffy was flowing at its flowingest, David Greenwalt used to turn to me at some point during every torturous story-breaking session and say “Why is it still hard? When do we just get to be good at it?” I’ll only bore you with one theory: because every good story needs to be completely personal (so there are no guidelines) and completely universal (so it’s all been done). It’s just never simple.

It’s necessary, though. We’re talking about story-telling, the most basic human need. Food? That’s an animal need. Shelter? That’s a luxury item that leads to social grouping, which leads directly to fancy scarves. But human awareness is all about story-telling. The selective narrative of your memory. The story of why the Sky Bully throws lightning at you. From the first, stories, even unspoken, separated us from the other, cooler beasts. And now we’re talking about the stories that define our nation’s popular culture – a huge part of its identity. These are the people that think those up. Working writers.

“The trappings of a union protest…” You see how that works? Since we aren’t real workers, this isn’t a real union issue. (We’re just a guild!) And that’s where all my ‘what is a writer’ rambling becomes important. Because this IS a union issue, one that will affect not just artists but every member of a community that could find itself at the mercy of a machine that absolutely and unhesitatingly would dismantle every union, remove every benefit, turn every worker into a cowed wage-slave in the singular pursuit of profit. (There is a machine. Its program is ‘profit’. This is not a myth.) This is about a fair wage for our work. No different than any other union. The teamsters have recognized the importance of this strike, for which I’m deeply grateful. Hopefully the Times will too.

- Joss Whedon

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tommy Alvarado!

OK, right before I got my brain cells (and ego) incinerated by Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns at Paul Purtle's insistence a little more than 2 years ago, I went to the (now defunct) jazz jam at the Hurricane Bar down on South Bermuda.

Tommy Alvarado (leading the host band that included the awesome Chris Gordon on bass and Bad Boy Joel Richman on tubs).

Yi-i-i-i-kes, man! Yoweeeee!!!!

Oh, those chops! Oh, that voice! Cat was totally, totally stunning.

And, BTW, a total gentleman, a major class act.

Tommy immediately reminded me musically somewhat of one of my musical mentors, Bobby "Ray" (Reyes, actually) of the novelty group The Hollywood Argyles ("Alley Oop"), with whom I hooked up in 1965. Photo below from 1960. That's Gary Paxton in the lower middle, Bobby Ray to his left (lower right as you view the pic).

They were all veteran road cats mostly in their early to mid 30's, I was 19. They called me "Mouser" and/or "Mouse Guy," as in Mickey Mouse player. I'd just happened to be in the right place at the right time (they'd just fired their guitar player). I'd met them out in the Chicago area the year before during my first foray on the road, and one afternoon in 1965 I was just ambling down the boardwalk in Seaside Heights NJ after The Zephyrs broke up, and bumped into the bass player, Jellyroll (monster cat, he was). Click here and scroll down to "A Blast From My Past" for the backstory on my first road band outa high school, LOL!

Well, Jellyroll remembered me, and literally collared me off to meet with Bobby and his singer-wife Tammy at the Beachcomber where they were gigging (along with "Rosco and The Little Green Men from Mars," these cats that had long dyed-green hair and wore silver lame jump suits, LOL!).

Go home and get your shit, you're goin' back out on the road, LOL.

What an experience that turned out to be. Bobby Ray played the hell out of tenor, in the old school Sam Butera mold (and, he would often get on the bar and walk all around it intermittently wailing away and stooping down to drink out of everyone's drinks, ugh. Cat could really hold his liquor.)

The cats were all so over my head musically, notwithstanding the schlocky "Alley Oop" schtick that was the waning meal ticket; e.g., I recall one day at rehearsal the other sax player we'd subsequently picked up out in Indiana (I forget his name) simply listened to Nancy Wilson's 1964 big band LP cut of "The Grass is Greener" and wrote out charts for all of us in about 20 minutes.

Joke- Q: How do you get the guitar player to Turn That Damn Thing Down? A: Put a chart in front of him.

I did my best to step up. It was a great learning experience for a young unpolished cat. Exposed me early on to the musical discipline of real pros (and to wild-livin' dudes that were shootin' up motel rooms long before it became fashionable!).

Real Pro. Two words that characterize Tommy Alvarado, y'all. Two more words: Insufficiently recognized.

Tommy's got a new solo CD in release, BTW (buy it here):

Mp3 samples page here.

OK, some additional links: Tommy's MySpace. And another. Website stuff here included his extensive rap sheet. Prior blog posts featuring Tommy, here, here, and here.

I am blessed to know this man. BTW, Tommy's now doin' the Wayne Brady Show gig at the Venetian along with Jerry.


I love these cats, LOL!

Google (and/or YouTube search) "Flight of the Conchords." Cats are funny, two young Aussie dudes. They recently landed an HBO series of the same name -- it replaced "The Sopranos."

This one is also hilarious, "Business Time."


Once again I take copyright law "Fair Use" liberties for y'all's edification:

The divine sound of silence

Britain's No Music Day offers a welcome hush over a noisy world. It can't come to America soon enough.

By Kevin Berger

Nov. 22, 2007 | One can dream. What if no music blared from airports, supermarkets, bars, department stores or restaurants? Imagine being able to sit down in your neighborhood cafe and hear your friend talk without having to parse her words through the strains of "Sweet Child o' Mine." My god, that would be something for which to give thanks. On Nov. 21, a surprisingly wide swath of Britain honored "No Music Day." Radio stations, stores, recording studios and scores of music lovers took a laudable vow of musical silence. Should No Music Day come to America tomorrow, it wouldn't be soon enough.

The day of respite was cooked up by musician and conceptual artist Bill Drummond, best known as the mad genius at the controls of the KLF, British progenitors of ambient house music. As Drummond testified in the Guardian last year, his love of music had been rattled out of him by its ubiquity. "I decided I needed a day I could set aside to listen to no music whatsoever," he wrote. "Instead, I would be thinking about what I wanted and what I didn't want from music. Not to blindly -- or should that be deafly -- consume what was on offer. A day where I could develop ideas."

Not being able to hear yourself think, or feel, or escape "Hotel California," is indeed what makes music in public places a nightmare. Your poor senses are crushed every time you step out of the house. By hammering you with pop tunes before a movie, Cineplexes manage to kill your appetite for a film. And can't we just daydream in a market's fluorescent aisles, ruminate over whether we want to prepare salmon or ravioli tonight, without having to hear "once, twice, three times a lady"?

I love the Doors, Otis Redding, the Clash, Public Enemy, Lucinda Williams and Arcade Fire as much as the next music fan. But why do bars insist on pummeling us with their songs at the decibel levels of NHRA drag races? Bars are supposed to be an oasis from work and noise, places to sort out life in conversations with friends and lovers. I don't understand why bar owners insist on undermining their storied and welcome culture with eardrum-splintering music and now panoramic TVs playing "Mission Impossible II." These days, I gauge the sound level before deciding to sit down and have a drink. One blast of "Once I had a love and it was a gas" and I'm on to the next place.

In fact, I know why music is piped into bars, markets, restaurants, department stores and Jiffy Lube waiting rooms. It's based on pop psychology and pseudoscience spouted by marketing and advertising executives. As David Owen informed us in a nifty New Yorker article last year on Muzak, "The Soundtrack of Your Life," the company for 50 years was based on a trademarked concept called Stimulus Progression, which held that "most people really were happier and more productive when there was something humming along in the background." Elevator music probably earned its name from the soothing tunes piped into early skyscrapers, designed to calm people as they rode the claustrophobic new contraptions to top floors.

In the '90s, Muzak reinvented itself with a new philosophy called audio architecture. The company sold music in public places not as a tranquilizer but as a means to enhance the shopping experience, as the marketing jargon goes. As Alvin Collins, a founder of the concept, explained to Owen, he was creating "retail theater." Muzak wasn't about soothing music anymore. "It was about selling emotion -- about finding the soundtrack that would make this store or that restaurant feel like something, rather than just being an intellectual proposition." That's why you now can't escape the Cure in Urban Outfitters or the Gipsy Kings in any Mediterranean restaurant; both are trying to match their wares to the music their target audience supposedly likes. Whether or not a particular business is a client of Muzak's, they are driven by the same concept: Retail theater is all about consumption and music is a star of the show.

That leads to a deeper reason that music in public places gets under your skin. You hear songs that once lifted your spirits employed to sell you a computer. I don't see much difference between using music to make you feel good about a dining experience and using it to sell you a car on TV.

I can easily picture the bright and musically savvy employee who came up with the idea to use Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" to promote Volkswagen's new Cabrio model. Pull an esoteric song out of rock's demimonde to show off Volkswagen's coolness to its college-crowd target. I have never been more disheartened by the use of a song in a commercial, or the response to it.

Afterward, many, including Drake's sister, said the singer, who died in 1974, an apparent suicide, benefited from the commercial because it exposed millions of people to his music. That's a pretty specious defense. One of the most extraordinary qualities about Drake's sad and lovely folk music is that it has grown in popularity over the years by being passed between friends like a tender secret. The commercial did help the Drake estate sell records but at a terrible cost to "Pink Moon." The emotionally fragile song, whose central image is a haunting metaphor for encroaching depression, is now forever bound to an automobile. It's an incredible shame and a phenomenon sadly taken for granted, even endorsed.

A few years ago the talented Moby made a splash by licensing his songs to Intel, the teen TV show "Charmed," Nokia phones and Rover SUVs, sometimes before they appeared on albums. Again, he succeeded in introducing his soulful pop grooves to a wide audience, but at the expense of having them associated with other media.

Moby and a new legion of pop fans may be puzzled that I see that association as regrettable. The artist was exploiting new avenues of distribution, and what does it matter whether you hear a song on the radio, a TV show or a commercial? The difference is that today's retail theater, designed to coerce and sell, robs music of its own visual and emotional power. I once admired Moby's album "Play" but never listen to it because of its association with the oppressive drone of consumerism. Is that the legacy a musician wants? Does the human spirit find release in a phone commercial? I can't believe that Bob Seger and John Cougar Mellencamp don't regret the choice that eternally welded their music to Chevy trucks.

The offensive Muzak philosophy that music can condition consumer behavior or create a psychic soundscape shows up in all kinds of public places. I was once talked into going to a rural spa where, after sipping tea in a Zen garden, you are placed in a tub of hot cedar chips to drain the toxins and stress from your body. I must confess I began to relax like Buddha, except for one thing. Once I was in the tub, the whispering attendant asked me if there was anything else she could get me. Yes, I said, could you please turn off the soporific New Age music? Once she did I could listen to the rain outside hitting the spa's roof, and that's when I began to sink into genuine tranquility.

I don't mean to sound crotchety. I can be sitting in a bar and smile in solidarity with the bartender who programmed the wistful and witty Mountain Goats song into the sound system. And I relish the Chopin nocturnes that my corner cafe sometimes plays in the morning. I also don't mean to raise the hoary complaint that music in public is further fraying some grand social fabric, as if life in America in 2007 is supposed to resemble a 1920s Paris salon. I'm in love with the modern world. I am.

Social critics like to bemoan the iPod, complain that society has collapsed into everybody living in their own private Idahos. But in fact listening to music on an iPod, or accumulating songs through file sharing, is a way to reclaim music from the manipulations of the marketers, to escape the claws of the behaviorists. Carving my way through the crowded city, while listening to music on my iPod, allows me to feel in touch with my surroundings. Art that doesn't manipulate is what forms real social bonds.

"We do not like to be pushed around emotionally," the avant-garde composer John Cage once said. "The purpose of music is to sober and quiet the mind, thus making it susceptible to divine influences." I know that sounds high-minded, but it also sounds right to me. I daresay the spare piano pieces by Erik Satie and the minimalist organ works by Arvo Pärt owe their enduring popularity to how delicately they slice through our congested soundscape. They allow us to hear the hum of our own consciousness, to hear something like enlightenment.

Which brings me back to why No Music Day is wonderful and why we should launch the aural holiday in America. What it's really about is not escaping the incessant and unwanted drone of music in public. It's about learning how to listen again.


Well, my gig at PT's Gold was pretty much a bust because the weather turned so cold. Thanks to those of you who showed up to freeze your butts off with me. I was OK for about 5 tunes, then my hands got so cold I kept losing my grip on my pick.

My PA sure sounded great. I'm still learning how to get the best sound outa the XR8600 head. Below, it wasn't even breathing hard and sounded loud and clear as could be. Those are the settings from the gig, the main pot was up maybe 25%, the monitor pot maybe 20%. Channel 1 was my vocal mic. The gain on it was only up about 25%.

The unit has a lot of EFX alternatives, but you can only vary the level of EFX sends to the mains & monitors. Beyond that, the EFX setting choice is global across all 8 input channels. Still, lotta power and utility for $599.

Below, from the 'make lemonade' department. I bought one 500w par can for $49.99 at The Guitar Center, 'cuz I knew I'd otherwise be playin' in the dark. Used a tin can as a guide to cut a 2" donut hole in the middle of the gel with an X-acto knife. That way you get a "spot" and a color wash all in one.

Buy 3 of these puppies (with, say, red, blue, and magenta gels), cut spot holes in the gels of the two to be positioned 45 degree front L & R, use the other as a back wash. Done. Effective spot/color flood lighting on the cheap. It ain't rocket science.

The patio thing ain't gonna work till next spring. I think our extended autumn run of above average temps is over. Alyssa, the manager, wants me to play inside next week. We'll see. The floor layout isn't real conducive; the place is pretty compartmentailzed. Stay tuned.