Saturday, December 12, 2009

Allan Holdsworth at the Continental Club

Allan Holdsworth returned to Austin for an early and intimate show at the Continental Club. This show was very similar to the show that I saw, a little over a year ago, at the same venue. And once again, the band consisted of Chad Wackerman on Drums, and Jimmy Johnson on Bass.

The show took off with the Fifth and Fred, touching base with Proto-Cosmos somewhere along the way before landing about 90 minutes later. The problem as always, is his shows leave you wanting more. And with dates announced for early next year with Bozzio, Mastellotto and Levin, as well as others with Alan Pasqua, I am left in a quandary concerning whether to blow my Frequent Flyer miles on a trip heading West or East.

The best part of the show at the Continental was the small crowd, and getting to actually chat with Allan, Chad and Jimmy after the show. I begged Allan to bring Alan Pasqua along to Austin one of these days, and he smilingly acknowledged that it he would enjoy it, as well.

Allan Holdsworth, Chad Wackerman, and Jimmy Johnson

South River City, Dec 12, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dweezil Zappa Plays Zappa at Stubbs

I saw Zappa Plays Zappa again after at Stubbs last night. Previously, I had seen ZPZ two times. Unlike those previous shows, I was a little tentative about this one. If I am to believe the rumors, all is not well in the ZPZ camp. There's squabbling with other Zappa Tribute Bands, special guests going AWOL, and musicians leaving the "core" band.

For this particular tour, there are no Alumni/Special Guests, the primary keyboard player, Aaron Arntz is gone, and there's a new lead singer, Ben Thomas. Ben was a very accomplished vocalist, but didn't have the extra umph and stage presence of a Napoleon Murphy Brock or Ray White.

The show started somewhere around 8PM, with Apostrophe and lasted approximately 2 hours, maybe 2 hours and 15 minute. Dweezil mentioned after the first song that there would be an Austin guitarist joining the band on stage, but didn't identify him at that time. I found the remainder of the show to be well done, but lackluster when compared to the two previous shows I had seen. There was some effort to play new material not covered on previous ZPZ tours, however they obviously avoided some songs.

Later, the special guest ended up being Eric Johnson. Once again, I listened to Eric's somewhat shaky blues improvisational skills. Now I like Eric just as much as the next fan, but jamming is not one of his strengths. This show confirmed what I had witnessed at a Robben Ford show a couple years back. Eric had the same problem then, although it was more obvious because David Grissom was also on stage. Fortunately, Dweezil helped keep this potential train wreck on the rails.

My remaining comments about the show: Sheila Gonzalez plays some absolutely awesome Saxophone (and Keys) during the show, and Billy Hulting on Vibes/Percussion, and Joe Travers were also impressive. This was however, the weakest of the 3 shows that I have seen. Then again, it's hard to top having Ray White, as lead singer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jean-Luc Ponty at the One World Theater

Oh, what a show! I've been looking forward to seeing Jean-Luc Ponty for several months, since purchasing the tickets. Admittedly, I have not kept up with his career lately, but JLP's music is like an old friend. It's hard to believe that Cosmic Messenger, Enigmatic Ocean, and Imaginary Voyage are over 30 years old. Time surely flies, as it seems like only yesterday that I was listening to these records in my college frat-house.

Last night, my friend Dan and I went to the later (and latter) of 2 shows at the One World. The seats were fantastic, being in the front row, putting us no more than about 10 feet away from Jean-Luc and his 3 band-mates:

I was unable to find a set list, but I reckon that they played close to 90 minutes, with each musician taking a solo, and a single song encore, Big Country. I can remember them playing Cosmic Messenger, and a new arrangement of The Struggle of the Turtle to the Sea. I found it somewhat funny that even though there was no guitarist present, I could hear the guitar parts inside of my head.

I was very impressed with the band, and keyboardist was fantastic. Jean-Luc joked that the drummer Damien wanted to get out of playing, and become a producer. That will be a shame if he does.

In closing let me just say that I now wish I had bought tickets to both shows.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Unaswered Question

This past weekend, I attended Pat Pattison's Songwriting Workshop, for the second time. Like the first workshop, it was a fantastic and fun weekend.

My purpose in posting however, is not to discuss that, but to talk about a set of video lectures, the Pat recommended. The Lectures are titled, The Unanswered Question, Six Talks at Harvard by Leonard Bernstein.

At the present time, I have only viewed the first and second talks, and these lectures are amazing. They tie together concepts that I have acquired over my musical life. Some of this information has already been relayed to me in the past, by my teacher, John Esposito. Over time, I had found similar threads and references, in interviews of Steve Reich and Victor Wooten. Of course, Pat is also very tuned into this meme.

Even though I still many hours of viewing to go, I can safely say that I know I will never look at Music the same way again. Among other things, the Lectures provide the framework for a Grand Unified Theory that succeeds admirably, in tying together Language and Linguistics with Music.

These lectures are must viewing for anyone that loves music.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Little Feat at the One World Theater

Little Feat played two shows at the One World Theater last night. I caught the late one with a friend of mine, and was expecting a good show, since I was in the front row.

I last saw Feat about around 2001 or so, at Stubbs. They played a fairly long show at that time. This time, I estimate that they played for approximately 90 minutes. I was surprised (and somewhat disappointed) that vocalist Shaun Murphy was no longer with the band, and that Richie Haywood was not on tour (for health reasons). The band presently performs as 6 piece:

  • Fred Tackett - Guitar and Vocals
  • Paul Berrer - Guitar and Lead Vocals
  • Bill Payne - Keys
  • Sam Clayton - Percussion
  • Kenny Gradney - Bass
  • Gabe Ford - Drums

I can't remember the entire set list, other than Times Loves a Hero, Oh, Atlanta, and Dixie Chicken. The show was good, but not stellar. There were some sound issues (something that I didn't expect at a One World Show).

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Ravens vs. Patriots - Week 4

It sucks to lose a game like this. Mark Clayton, you have got to catch that ball. Several Ravens and Coach Harbaugh will most likely be fined, for comments about the officiating. Harbaugh was clearly audible dropping the S* bomb on TV.

To be honest, the referees deserve every bit of criticism they got.

ACL 2009 - Day 3

... and it's still threatening to rain

Faced with another day of down-pours, and my allergies kicking up, I decided to punt! Would have liked to have seen Pearl Jam, but it's not in the cards.

Given the choice between rain and heat, give me the heat!


Looks like I missed an opportunity to slosh around in Dillo Dirt. Yum, yum!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

ACL 2009 - Day 2

... and it rained
Today was very reminiscent of SxSW 98(?), where it rained non-stop for most of the music festival. While welcome by the drought sufferers for sure, it really put the whammy on the festival. I had rain gear, but declared defeat at around 5:30PM, and headed home. Here's a summary of what I was able to see during this shortened day:

The Henry Clay People

They were listed as Pop/Punk, but they sounded more like a late 60's group to me. Towards the end of their set, the played of cover of Bang a Gong, by T Rex

The Virgins

A NY dance rock band, kind of like the Velvet Underground meets the New York Dolls. They were entertaining, and seemed to appeal to the under 25 crowd.
The Virgins


Had to cancel their show. They were replaced by a totally forgettable band from Austin, that took their place. My friend Dan and I both agreed to move on after hearing one song.

Soul Stirrers

An absolutely kick ass gospel/soul band. Quite the rhythm section!
Soul Stirrers

Bell X1

This was a great Irish pop band sitting somewhere between U2 and Van Morrison. The piano player was quite exceptional. I'd go see these guys again, for certain. Bell X1

Sam Roberts Band

A fantastic band from Montreal. They sounded somewhat like 3 Doors Down. Excellent vocals and musicianship. Made passing the time in the pouring rain, tolerable.
Sam Roberts Band

The Airborne Toxic Event

Another very competent pop band.
Airborne Toxic Event

The weather

At this point in time, I was cold and starting to get soaked, even though I had a Poncho on. I decided to make it the end of the day.

Friday, October 02, 2009

ACL 2009 - Day 1

Got up fairly late today, and decided to trek on over to Kerbey Lane for some Gingerbread Pancakes, before heading downtown. As a result, I was only able to hear the last chorus of Asleep at the Wheel's last song, as I entered the gate.

After checking out the new lawn in Zilker, and filling up my Camel Pack with water, I headed over to the Dell Stage for Blitzen Trapper. As I arrived in the area, the lead singer was doing his best Robert Plant impersonation, but the rest of the show slowly wound down into some fairly uninteresting music.

Medeshi, Martin & Wood

The Livestrong stage was the next stop of the day. Medeshi, Martin & Wood is a trio, consisting of keys (mainly B3), bass, and drums. They were listed as a Jam Band, and I feel that was a fairly accurate description. Unfortunately, I can't say I'm a big Jam Band fan. I would have preferred hearing a trio like this in a pure Prog context.
Livestrong Stage
Medeshi, Martin & Wood

Coheed and Cambria

This a Metal Prog band from the Mid-Hudson Valley area of NY, my old stomping grounds. They are a fairly competent Prog/Metal band, and fortunately do not do the Cookie Monster vocals.

They drew a very respectable crowd, and played a cover The Church's song, Under the Milkyway towards the end of the set. Given the age of the crowd, I'm not sure how many present recognized it, even after the band acknowledged the band.
Coheed and Cambria

Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3

A good set of British Power Pop band, with Bill Rieflin on drums. A very nice change of pace for the afternoon.
Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3

The Greencards

The Greencards are a Bluegrass band from Australia, from what I could gather, they were all very accomplished musicians. There was a big problem however with sound bleed over, from the other stage. It was impossible to hear some of their songs, because the song from the Livestrong stage was drowning it out.
The Greencards

Them Crooked Vultures

Ok, they're supposed to be a super-group. I found this band to be pretty uninteresting, and it seemed like they mailed it in to me. Of course, I was only 1000 rows back from the stage. Actually standing on top of the hill in front of the AMD stage, in order to watch the video.

I'm a big Led Zep fan, but not a fan of Nirvana, the Foo Fighters, or Queens of the Stone Age. I find the latter 3 bands tiring, at best. Sorry, but I don't get this band, nor do I get the hype. These guys are no Chickenfoot. (LOL)

Yeah, yeah, yeah

The last band of the day. All I could say was No, no, no. Dan and I amscrayed during the middle of the set.


For some reason, several of the stages (XBox, Livestrong, BMI) seemed noticeably smaller. However, the PAs certainly weren't. In fact, there were multiple problems with bleed over. It was impossible to hear anything from the BMI stage, if Livestrong had something. Sound was also leaking from the Austin Ventures, to the AMD. This was truly annoying!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

ACL 2009 - The Quickening

It's that time of the year again. Friday 1100, be there, aloha!

Rosedale, Sep 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Ravens vs. the Browns - week 3

As part of my very extended weekend trip, I was present at M&T Bank Stadium, to watch my Ravens slaughter the Browns, 34 - 3.

After raining all morning, the sky cleared up just before kick-off, and we had nothing but blue skys. As luck would have it, my friend and I were able to swap our upper deck tickets for seats in the Club Level. What a great exclamation point, to punctuate the trip with.

Sharp Leadenhal, Sep 27, 2009 Sharp Leadenhal, Sep 27, 2009

Porcupine Tree x2

PT is presently one of my favorite rock bands. When the tour to support The Incident was announced, I was a little disappointed that I would have to fly to see them (again). I originally bought the tickets for the Philadelphia show, back in April. Things looked like they were working out well for me, since I could also visit my family, and catch a Ravens game during the same trip. I had also arranged to meet up with some friends from Austin, who were flying to see them in Philly, as well.

Several months later, a Baltimore show was added on Friday night, making my (and my friend's) schedule a bit more complicated. As a result, I ended up having to drive from Leonardtown to Baltimore, catch the PT show, drive to Philly the next day for the second show, then get up at 4:30 AM to drive back to Baltimore to tailgate, on Sunday morning. Needless to say, it was exhausting, but I made it. Fortunately, next weekend will be nice and relaxing with just the ACL Festival (LOL ;)

Rams Head Live - Baltimore, MD - Friday 9/25

In hindsight, this may have been the show of the year for me. It was the better venue and performance of the two shows. The only slight minus was the lack of seating. It's a GA venue, with one web site listing the capacity at about 1600 people. If it wasn't a sell-out, it was close, because the club was packed.

The openers, Kings X, played for approximately an hour, followed by 2 sets of an hour each, by PT. For this tour, the first hour set consisted of a complete performance of the Incident, with the 2nd set consisting of a rotation of some older material.

The band had posted a No pictures or recoding request at the venue, and I complied with their request, for both shows. I was able to secure a position, right behind the sound board for this show, which made for an excellent listening experience.

Afterwards some members of PT were out and about. In particular, John Wesley, Colin Edwin, and Richard Barbieri. I'm not much of an autograph collector, but I did get to chat with Colin for a second. I noticed Richard Barbieri high tailed it quickly out of there, and that unlike Houston in 2007, Steven Wilson was nowhere to be found. I asked Colin to talk the band into playing Texas more, and in particular Austin. It sounds like their agent is deliberately restricting them to large metros, because of concerns about the US economy.

Electric Factory - Philadelphia, PA - Saturday 9/26

This venue was also GA, and a bit bigger, holding approximately 2000 to 2500 people. The sound was good, but not exceptional. In general, there's a certain vibe that comes with attending a Philly/South Jersey show that detracts from the experience. True to form, a fight did break out during the show. I called it about 2 minutes before it happened, to my friends. It's kind of sad that this wasn't a surprise.

There were quite a few faces in the crowd that I recognized from the previous night, and this show was the first indication for me, that PT is becoming very popular. The set list was essentially the same, with some differences in the second set, as had been noted on the PT boards. One surprise however, was Normal from the EP, Nil Recurring.

I did talk to several people who mentioned that on previous tours, PT had played the Keswick when they came to Philly (where I saw King Crimson and which has seating). I also noticed, that there were a significant number of females in the audience, which is noteworthy for any band that might even tangentially have the label Prog associated with it. Perhaps this shouldn't be surprising since although they are labeled, Neo-Prog, they seem to be able to attract fans from the Prog, Metal, and Pop worlds in a way I've never seen before.

Opening Act - Kings X

My friends, Ron and Alissa, have raved about this band for a while. They are actually from Houston, and after seeing them twice, I am now sorry I didn't go see them at the Red Eyed Fly in Austin. The lead singer/bass player, Brother Doug, is awesome. The guy is one of those classic rock scream/singers like Robert Plant or Ian Gillian, but takes it to a new level.

I will go see these guys, next time the return to Austin.

Good News

Steven Wilson mentioned a Spring Tour! Here's hoping for a stop in TX.


PT has a blog and pictures from the Electric Factory show

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Living Colour at Emos

Living Colour is back! For about 2.5 hours, I saw this incredible band rise like a Phoenix, from the ashes, outside at Emos. To be honest, Emos seemed almost like an inappropriate venue due to its size. However, in hindsight, it was just fine.

The band covered material from Vivid, Times Up, Stain, and the latest effort, The Chair in the Doorway. Realizing that I don't have a copy of Collideascope, I'm not sure if they played any material from the album. (I just remedied that problem via the Amazon music store).

A highlight of the night was the band's cover of Crosstown Traffic to commemorate Jimi Hendrix. Ironically, this show occurred on the 39th anniversary of his death, 9/18/1970. The other highlight for me was getting to talk to Vernon after the show, and talk about our mutual friends, all associated with the late, great, Arthur Rhames.

In closing, let me say this was a great show, and I hope to see them again. Hopefully, next year!!!

Vernon Reid of Living Colour @ Emos
Vernon Reid, Will Calhoun, Corey Glover of Living Colour

Monday, September 14, 2009

Ravens vs. the Chiefs - week 1

Something strange is happening here. The Ravens had 501 yards of Offense, winning 38 - 24, with 5 TDs and 1 Field Goal. Joe Flacco had 300 yds passing, and the 3 headed monster in the backfield, Rice, McGahee, and McClain are really going to be something.

So this is what it's like to have an Offense?

Added bonus from yesterday, I finally found a Sports Bar in Austin where fellow Baltimorons congregate, The Tavern on 12th and Lamar. There's probably 30 of us.

Bela Fleck, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer at the Bass Concert Hall

An eclectic, but interesting show. Bela Fleck, was accompanied by Tabla Master, Zakir Hussain, and Acoustic Bassist, Edgar Meyer. I've seen Bela 3 times within the past two years at ACL and SxSW, with the Sparrow Quartet and the Flecktones. It is also the second time that I have seen Zakir, who is incredible. This is the first time that I have ever seen Edgar play.

The show last night, consisted of two sets of approximately 1 hour, with a short intermission, and a single song encore. The acoustics were fantastic, with this trio being almost tailor made for the Bass Hall.

All I can say about this show is that it was a fascinating fusion of Indian Classical, Bluegrass, and American Jazz, by 3 masters. Plenty of room was left for improvisation by each musician. Any further attempts at a description would fall into the Dancing about Architecture category.

This trio did record a CD, The Melody of Rhythm which I highly recommend.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Declan MacManis and Sugercanes at Bass Concert Hall

Before continuing, I should mention that I have been a huge Elvis Costello fan, since my highschool days. However, I must admit that I had not been following his post-punk career until SxSW a few years back. He was a keynote speaker that year, and I saw him perform that week with the renamed version of the Attractions, the Imposters, at La Zona Rosa. I started digging into the vault, after that show.

Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of seeing Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes play for approximately 3 hours, at the Bass Concert Hall. This time around, he has genre jumped into playing a sort of American/Bluegrass variant. The new album and material was produced by T-Bone Burnett, so I was looking forward to seeing the show.

Upon arriving, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in the 2nd row. There's no need to say anything about the sight lines, or the acoustics, since both were exceptional. The Bass Hall appeared to be close to full capacity for this show.

For the new album and this tour, Elvis was accompanied by an acoustic string band consisting of the following people:

  • Jeff Taylor – accordian
  • Mike Compton – mandolin
  • Dennis Crouch – double bass
  • Jerry Douglas – dobro
  • Stuart Duncan – banjo, fiddle
  • Jim Lauderdale - harmony vocals
I was somewhat disappointed to discover that T-Bone himself, was not present, even though he plays on the album. Regardless, this band was awesome, and I'm happy to report that there was no tinnitus from this event.

Over the past few weeks, I had already given his new album several listens, and believe he covered most of the material during the show. Elvis also performed new versions of some of his older songs, including:

  • (Angels Wanna Wear My) red shoes
  • Mystery Dance
  • Blame it on Cain
  • Alison
  • (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?
  • Everyday I write the book

After playing, for approximately 2 straight hours, Elvis and the band were called back out for 2 encores which ended up lasting almost an additional. During this time, they were also joined on stage by Patty Griffin. What a treat, and fantastic way to cap off a great evening of music.

Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes @ Bass Concert Hall
Patty Griffin with Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes @ Bass Concert Hall

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tom and Bert for the 3rd and Final Time

After the house concert last Wednesday, I was invited by Suzanne Oleson's mother to the last house concert in Austin, on Mt. Bonnell. An excellent evening of music once again.

Camp Mabry, Aug 24, 2009
Austin, Aug 24, 2009

Bert once again had pictures on his blog, as well. I'm glad he posted them, because the last picture I took with Tom, Bert and Suzanne with my iPhone, was too blurry to use. I can't wait to hear Tom and Bert's new CD to be recorded at the end of this tour, and am anxiously awaiting the return of CGT next spring.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Daily Morning Lifestream Experiment

Starting on July 31, 2008, I began taking a picture off of my balcony, of the Walnut Park area. To do this, I used the iPhone application, Airme. I have archived this as a stream on Flickr.

As of today, the count is up to 374, so I have more than a year's worth of photos. Looking at the stream, it appears there was an initial period of flux, after which I settled in on framing a consistent shot every morning.

I'm not sure how long I will continue this task, but I am surprised I have been able to keep it up this long. I think I will try to buy one of more of those 802.11g based webcams, since I think some other interesting things could be done with that.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tom Griesgraber and Bert Lams - Episode 2

Tonight I was able to see Tom and Bert play at a friend's house concert. Once again, the experience was fantastic. There is something special about seeing music in this context.

The show was further augmented by Suzanne Oleson, a local musician now attending Berklee School of Music, who sings and plays guitar and mandolin. Suzanne joined Tom and Bert for 2 encore numbers, including the Marsh.

Another fantastic evening of music, with some very special moments:

House Concert - Tom Griesgraber and Bert Lams
Tom Griesgraber and Bert Lams

Encore with Tom, Suzanne and Bert

Tom Griesgraber, Suzanne Oleson, and Bert Lams


Once again, the show at Ted's house made Bert's blog. You can see a much better picture (with a flash) of Tom, Suzanne, and Bert.

Extract Premier

I recently bought my SxSW 2010 badge and was entered into a contest for tickets to the World Premier of Mike Judge's new film, Extract. As luck would have it, I received an email last week that I had won a pair free tickets. (Of course, free ignores the price of the badge, but who's counting?)

The Premier was actually a benefit for the Austin Film Society, and Mike Judge and lead man, Jason Bateman were available afterwards for Q&A. It was held at the Paramount, and even though I was in Row R in the balcony, the screen was still visible.

I found it enjoyable, and would rate it as good, but not a classic like Mike's film, Office Space. I would still recommend it to people because it's certainly much better than the recent Terminator Movie or Harry Potter.

Other things of note were that I thought that I recognized that the exterior of the fictional company, Reynolds Extract, looked remarkably similar to Adams Extract on Rt. 35 south of Austin. Sure enough, one of the after show questions confirmed this. Many of the external scenes were filmed in and around Austin (Hutto), but all of the interior shots were done in LA.

Since I found the movie worthwhile, I won't post any plot spoilers. I will mention that my friend and I found the plot twist at the end with the neighbor, sick and twisted, but hilarious. I won't say any more than that.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tom Griesgraber and Bert Lams - Episode 1

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing California Guitar Trio member, Bert Lams, with Chapman Stick player Tom Griesgraber, alfresco in the FEFC Courtyard. This was the very first show of their mini-tour which will include playing multiple shows here in Austin for the next week, before moving on to a other Southwestern states. At the conclusion of this tour, Bert and Tom will be going into the studio.

When I arrived at 6:30, the duo was performing a sound-check, and the acoustics of the courtyard sounded fantastic. There was room for approximately 50 people, making for a very intimate setting. I knew I was in for a treat, and I was not disappointed.

I estimate that the show ran 90 minutes or so, maybe 2 hours. The show consisted of material contributed by both Tom and Bert, including one of my favorite CGT songs, the Marsh. (I've now seen 3 version of this song with CGT, the UT Percussion Lab, and this duo, all were excellent). Both artists performed solo pieces, along with several new, yet untitled pieces. The highlights for me were Victor's Chase, Tom's tribute to his grandmother entitled, Rebecca, and a rendition of Chopin's Revolutionary Etude, with Bert and Tom playing the right and left hand parts.

After the show, both Bert and Tom were available for a Meet and Greet. I purchased two CDs, and was able to chat with both artists. Tom and I talked at length about the Woodstock area, because both of us had lived in or around there in our past. I am anxious to see them play again later this week, and am considering catching them at the Cactus Cafe, next Monday, as well.

Tom Griesgraber and Bert Lams at FEFC Courtyard

Update from show 1

I noticed today that Bert had some pictures from the FEFC on his blog.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

RIP: Les Paul

Truly sad news today. Les Paul was one of the great ones, without him we arguably would not have the Electric Guitar or tape overdubbing. I haven't been this bummed out, since Bob Moog passed away.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Ronnie Biggs released

It all started this past spring, when I started refreshing my vinyl collection with digital copies. First it was Elvis Costello, the Clash, the Pistols ... About 2 months ago, I bought a fresh copy of The Great Rock 'N' Roll Swindle.

You see, in the late 70's, I was a punker. Naturally, I loved the Sex Pistols. One of the more outrageous stunts they pulled is on the Swindle album. It features Ronnie Biggs, as vocalist on two tracks.

Ronnie (for those that don't know) was a participant in the Great Train Robbery of 1963, escaped to Brazil, and evaded extradition back to Britain for 31 years. While I don't condone his actions which were clearly criminal, you had to laugh at this stunt.

Ronnie eventually returned to Britain voluntarily in 2001, for medical reasons and was promptly arrested, and incarcerated. What a surprise to see this headline today.

Can you guess what I'm about to go listen to?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

RIP: Michael Jackson

Being 2 years younger than Michael, I have seen every stage of his career. I'm posting because I want to relay one story which I think reveals how far the U.S. has come since 1982, the year Thriller was released.

At that time, I was in a Senior in college, and living in Hoboken, NJ, which is right across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Radio in NYC was representative of most of the nation. Basically, Rock and Urban music were not to be mixed. It was almost like you had to choose a side.

The two big Rock stations in NYC at that time, were WNEW and WPLJ. When Thriller was released, there was a bit of a conundrum. Beat It was rocketing up the charts and these stations would play it, but did not want to acknowledge that it was daring to cross the line. Of course, no one would ever question why Jimi Hendrix was acceptable, nor ask the even more vexing question about where the Rock genre came from.

In a handful of ridiculous cases, they would just focus on the fact that Beat It featured Eddie Van Halen on guitar, while sometimes neglecting to mention that it was Michael Jackson singing. Incidents like these stand out in your mind because they are so blatant. I think (and hope) we're past that.

In closing, let me say that after seeing Quincy Jones at SxSW this year, and Michael's death, I had to get a digital copy of Thriller, since I'm unable to play my vinyl copy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

RIP: Joseph John Pazik Jr.

First you may be wondering who Joe is, I usually only write about musicians. Joe was my 2nd cousin. By a strange set of circumstances, I have no maternal cousins, but close to a hundred 2nd cousins. My relatives on this side of my family are all descended from Lithuanian immigrants. It's a big extended family and we are all very close.

My cousin was a retired Naval Aviator. He had served as a Navigator in an F4 crew, off of the U.S.S. Midway. A real live Top Gun graduate. His passing stings, since he was all too young, at 58 years of age. Since he was 10 years my senior, I always looked up to him as I was growing up.

During the past two years, Joe and I had been collaborating on tracing the family genealogy, and to the surprise of many in our family, making good progress. From here on out, like Maverick, I'll have to go on without the Goose. I do hope to be at Arlington National Cemetery when he is interred in late September.

Geneaology Note
For those not genealogically inclined, 2nd cousins share a set of common great grandparents. In this case, our mothers are cousins and our grandmothers were sisters.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

How did I miss this? RIP: Uriel Jones

I'll use the excuse that it was during SxSW. None the less, Uriel Jones passed away on March 24th of this year. I'm not 100% certain, but I think he was the last remaining Funk Brother.

If you've never seen Standing in the Shadows of Motown, it's a must!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sonny Rollins at the Bass Concert Hall

When I noticed this show, I had to get a ticket. Sonny Rollins is a living Jazz legend. He was there when BeBop was born, and played with Miles, Monk, Max, and Trane (just to name a few). Now at 78 years of age, he is the last man standing... and still going strong.

The show tonight started promptly at 7PM, and as I entered, I was surprised to see a much denser crowd than the Five Peace Band. My seats were no where near as good as for that show either. I was almost in the last row, and my attempts to capture a picture at that distance were futile.

The band for tonight's show totalled six members:

  1. Sonny Rollins - Tenor Sax
  2. Clifton Anderson - Trombone
  3. Bobby Broom - Guitar
  4. Bob Cranshaw - Electric Bass
  5. Victor Y. See Yuen - Congas and African Percussion
  6. Kobie Watkins - Drums

The first number was an ostinato groove, with Sonny soloing all over the place. For the first 5 or 6 choruses, however, his sound was very low. This was remedied by a microphone replacement mid-song, during the Trombone solo. Sonny was greeted with thunderous applause, when the new microphone made his playing more audible.

I estimate the show lasted approximately 1 hr and 45 minutes, with a single encore. About 8 tunes in all, and two of which were ballads. Unlike Dizzy, Sonny still has the stamina to belt it out. I was particularly impressed with several long sustains, and his ability to draw upon every book of the Jazz Tenor canon.

From the band, the standouts for me were the 2 percussionists, and the Trombone player. I only wish that they had let the Trombonist solo more. I also enjoyed the several occasions, where he and Sonny played in unison.

At the end of the evening, Sonny went to the Mic and mentioned that it was the first time he had played in Austin, since playing Armadillo WHQ. Last but not least, he sang during part of the encore, a straight ahead Blues number.

Do I really need to convince you to try and see him? (I hope not).
Sonny Rollins at Bass

Monday, April 27, 2009

Stanley Clarke at the One World Theater

After Art City Austin, I attended the later (and latter) of 2 shows featuring Stanley Clarke, at the One World Theater. This was the second time in less than a year for me seeing Stanley play, having seen him before with Return to Forever.

For this show, Stanley was accompanied by 3 younger musicians (younger meaning under the age of 35), pianist, Ruslan Sirota, violinist, Zach Brock, and drummer, Ronald Bruner, Jr. The band was really accomplished and I was very impressed with both Brock's and Bruner's playing, the latter sounding at times, very reminiscent of Tony Williams.

I estimate they played about 6 tunes, for about 90 minutes, with Stanley playing Acoustic Bass throughout the show. For the encore, they did School Days with Clarke finally switching to Electric Bass. Other than the encore, the numbers were mainly arrangements of RTF tunes, and one song that Stanely wrote as a tribute to John Coltrane.

Stanley Clarke at the One World Theater

A very enjoyable show, which put the cap on a very hectic weekend.

Art City Austin 2009

Once again, I volunteered to help my friends at AMF, man their booth at Art City Austin. This time around, I was only able to work on Sunday, since the schedule conflicted with CloudCamp.

Art City Austin - Kim Reese @ the AMF Booth

It was a pleasant, although overcast day, never actually raining. I was able to see several Austin Artists including Nakia and his Southern Cousins, David Garza, the Hudsons, and Brent Allen. I like this event because it gets to the core of Austin, and puts it on display. The setting, downtown along 1st Street, next to Town Lake, gives it a certain vibe, as well.

Art City Austin
Art City Austin - Nakia and his Southern Cousins
Art City Austin

For the past 2 years, one thing that has astounded me, is the way the way they temporarily erect large sculptures on the 1st Street Bridge for the weekend. Last year it was a temporary hedge, this year it was a large metal barracuda. (Just for reference, I estimate that this statue is about 10 ft. tall at the apex, and about 25 ft. long:

Art City Austin - 1st Street Bridge

Of course, you can see the white dashed lines for a car lane, to get the relative sense of scale. Here's to many more years of attending this event.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


I attended my fifth barcamp Saturday. It was held to discuss the specific topic of Cloud Computing, and was thus called, CloudCamp. The venue was the same as the previous startup camp I blogged about (the UT ACTLab), with many of the same people. There were several local Cloud/Cluster/Virtual computing friends here in town however, who although on the attendee list, did not actually show.

Unlike previous barcamps, the topics were chosen through an unpanel process, where volunteers proposed topics, supplemented by suggestions from the audience. All attendees voted on the best topics, and then they were rearranged to fill all the available time slots in three rooms. It was an interesting experiment, I think that too much time was consumed in this stage, however.

Most of the information I obtained was valuable in some way, and I did get meet and network with one of the founders of Rackspace/Moosa. (In this economy, you can't have too big of a network!)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Twi-night Double Header

I decided to catch two different shows tonight.

Infinite Partials

Infinite Partials was first up in the evening. I have known the Cellist, Andrew Davis, through a mutual friend and we had corresponded via email and phone, about various aspects of mastering a CD. Seeing an ad for their gig on Facebook, I decided to go check this band out in person, after failing on 3 prior attempts (for various reasons).

The Partials do a mix of originals and covers, in what I guess you would call an Americana style. The venue was great, the acoustics good, and helping the band sound great. Added pluses were an early start, and a family friendly venue. The patrons were really enjoying the band, with some dancing occurring. I enjoyed the music enough I felt compelled to buy their CD.

I have made a mental note to see this band again:
Infinite Partials at the New World Deli

Ab Baars Trio with Ken Vandermark

I finished the night catching the second set of a Free Jazz show at the Victory Grill, featuring the Ab Baars (a Sax/Clarinet player) Trio from Amsterdam , and Ken Vandermark (a Tenor Saxophonist). I was already familiar with Ken's work from Powerhouse sound, and his solo efforts. I am a Jazz player, fan and like free Jazz. I have seen quite a few unusual improvisation shows in my past, the type where you have to be careful who you invite. This show was relatively tame in comparison.

This was also my first trip to the Victory Grill, and I must say that it is a great venue. It looks like it could get hot in the summer. It's nice to know that the Elephant Room isn't the only venue in town for Jazz.

The good parts of this show for me were the interplay between Ken and Ab. They did interesting things with their instruments, pulling out a lot of tricks. Over-blowing, playing harmonics, trading phrases, all coupled with some mutant counterpoint every once and while. I enjoyed the show in general, but I found the rhythm section to be a little mechanical for my tastes. I suspect I would have enjoyed them with a bit more swing (which probably really means that I would have preferred a different rhythm section).

Friday, April 03, 2009

Five Peace Band at Bass Concert Hall

Last night, I had the pleasure to see Five Peace Band, at the newly refurbished Bass Concert Hall. Having been to one of the last concerts there before the remodeling commenced, I was anxious to see what had changed. It seems that other than the acoustic treatments on the wall, and some painting, the changes were was not as dramatic as I had expected.

No matter, lets talk about the important stuff, the music. It seems that shortly after the Return to Forever tour concluded, Chick Corea started working with former bandmate from the Miles Davis Bitches Brew era, John McLaughlin. The original studio and touring line-up of Five Peace consisted of Chick and John, along with saxophonist Kenny Garrett, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta. Vinnie had to move on to the Jeff Beck tour (which does not appear to be traveling through Texas, damn it), and was replaced by the equally competent and spectacular, Brian Blades.

The band played for 3 hours, in 2 sets, with a 15-20 minute intermission. The acoustics, as always, were spectacular in this hall which used to host the Austin Symphony. My seat was in the 10th row from stage, with Chick almost directly in front of me.

The improvisational playing was spectacular. For me, the stars of the show were Chick, Brian Blades, and Christian McBride. Kenny looked like he might have been a little under the weather (but still played magnificently), and McLaughlin was his normal rock steady self. My friend commented that you really understand what a true MF'er Chick is on the keys, when you sit that close. I wholeheartedly agreed.

The crowd was older, and there were lots of gray ponytails again. None the less, most were attentive and seemed fully engaged in the show. I was surprised however, at the number of empty seats, given the standing room only crowds for RTF, last year.

A set list is available here. Although supposedly verboten, I managed to sneak a picture with the iPhone at the end of the show

Five Peace Band at UT Bass Hall.

If you have the chance to see this show, do it! Next up this month, Stanley Clarke.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

SxSWm - Saturday

The last day, and man are my dogs barking.


The Hold Steady Interview and Doug Sahm's Mendocino

I attempted to sit through a bit of both of these panels. I guess I was paneled out.

Neil Young Archives

Apparently Neil Young had been in town for 48 hours, but no secret shows. His manager however, was present to talk about the release of Vol 1 of Neil's Archives (a 10 Blu-ray set).

This is an extremely interesting project. Apparently, Neil and his manager have archives and recordings all the back to Neil's first band, the Squires. In fact, he says that they have recordings of almost every single show or concert for 40 years.

The release of the first volume will also be accompanied by a new documentary by Jonathan Demme. There was a screening at the Paramount for Badge holders, but it seems to me that it would have better to start it during the film festival. The time was inopportune and conflicted with several music shows.

The entire archive is expected to be 4 or 5 volumes in total, and will be probably take 25-30 years to be released. What they showed at the talk was incredible. I'm hoping that it is released on Netflix, because although I want to watch it, I'm not sure I would want to spend the money on the first 10 of what will be approximately 50 discs. I think it's fantastic that they had enough foresight to archive the material.


Afternoon at the HiLo

My buddies Ed Martinez and Dave Johnson (AMA winners for their band, More Cowbell) had their respective fusion bands Proteus and Ugly Elephant at the HiLo again this year. It was a fun time, the windows were open, and the music was great.
Proteus at the HiLo
Ugly Elephant at the HiLo

Echo and the Bunnymen at the DirecTV Bat Bar

This was the first time I had ever seen this band. There were some initial problem with the sound, with a low bass rumble. They eventually squared those away. They also managed to fit Lips like Sugar into the set before they finished.

Sparks the Rescue at the Cedar Door

After finishing dinner, I caught one song by this band. It was post-punk, power pop with the singer using a affected British accent. Seemed ok, I probably would have stayed for several songs if I had gotten there earlier.

Marc Winston and the Reflections at Prague

I had no idea where Prague was, until I arrived and saw that it was another converted Dance Club. No matter, the band was good. They were from LA, and had late 80's pop sound, reminiscent of Tommy Tutone or Greg Kihn. I enjoyed the set and stayed for its entirety.

Kudos to the band for driving from Los Angeles.
The Reflections at Prague

Zaki Ibriham at Buffalo Billiards

Stopped for one song, saw there was no band. Sorry, next.

Theoretical Girl at Latitude 30

For the past few years, Latitude 30 has been painted and set up as the UK Music hub during SxSW. What intrigues me is that I'm not sure what the building is used for otherwise. I will have to solve this mystery soon. (Perhaps it's like the old Coppertank Brewpub which was also open this past week).

I caught two songs from this British act which consisted of two females and a mercenary backing band. Interesting pop, not my cup of tea however.

The Tap Room

Golden Hornet Project

I showed up mainly to see Graham's band. If nothing else, he should get an award for cramming 5 of the 7 people in the Project, up on the tiny stage. The instrumentation included, a spinet piano, violin, cello, electric guitar, bass guitar, drums and xylophone.

The start was a little late, but the music was very powerful, and interesting. Typical of one of Graham's shows. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'm kicking myself for not catching Golden Hornet earlier. Will have to soon.
Golden Hornet Project at the Tap Room

The Elysian Quartet

This band is a string quartet from NYC that does totally improvised music. Unfortunately, the environment made this performance challenging, with loud dance music leaking through the walls from the club next door. It was not as noticeable when Golden Hornet Project was on the stage, but a string quartet was unable to compete.

My other complaint, I find this type of improvisation (from Classically Trained musicians) much less interesting than what you would hear from a seasoned Jazz player. Perhaps I just need to hear it Swing, I cut out of there before the set was finished.

Jimmy Webb

I returned to Prague to hear the last couple songs of Songwriting Legend, Jimmy Webb's set. There were several friends of mine that parked there all night long. What I heard sounded great.

The 18th Floor at the Hilton Garden Inn

I had met my friend Rick earlier in the evening, in line for the Echo and the Bunnymen taping. We originally started talking at an Adrian Belew show about 2 years ago. Since then, we have run into each other a lot. In talking at the Prague we both mentioned the 18th floor. As it turns out, we were both there for the infamous Andy Pratt show during SxSW 2007.

I had also mentioned liking Sarah Borges, and being frustrated at not being able to catch her with her band or the Doug Sahm tribute at Antones with Dave Alvin and others. He mentioned that perhaps I would like this band the Bridges, that he had seen at the Belmont for a day party. They were playing the 18th floor to close out the night. So we trekked down there to finish there.

John Fairhurst

was on the stage when we arrived. He is a solo Dobro player from England. Very accomplished, but since he had no vocals, it became tiring after about 3 minutes. I would like see what this guy could do as a member of a band.

The Bridges

This band is a group of 4 young women (ages 18-24), along with a drummer. It's a family affair with 4 of the band members being siblings, and last woman, a cousin. They apparently have been working with Matthew Sweet.

The band is pop oriented, and the strength their vocals. They were simply amazing singers, and often employ 4 part harmonies. I got a sense that the level of talent displayed, combined with their ages will result in them going very far.

Friday, March 20, 2009

SxSWm - Friday


Little Steven Keynote Speech

The morning began with a keynote speech by Steve Van Zandt (aka. Sylvio Dante, Little Steven, or Miami Steve). This E-Street Band icon was there to discuss his take on the state of the music industry.

The high points of his talk:

  • Artists no longer work on the craft of performing. Expect to skip steps, which should include putting in time to play out live. Rough quote, it takes about 10000 hours of focused work, to achieve greatness.
  • Spoke about the need to make music that people can dance to.
  • Runs an Indie record label with bands from all over the globe. Seems to have a high regard for Norway, as an incubator of talent.
  • Talked at length about the Underground Garage program he does on XM and Sirius. He promoted and pushed multiple bands, and in hindsight many warranted further listening.

Lots of sage advice, from someone with the music entrepreneurial spirit deep inside his core. He of course was dressed in his very distinctive garb. Later that day I saw him walking down the sidewalk outside of Latitude 30 still dressed that way, trying to be inconspicuous. This was fairly comical to be honest, I just wish I had gotten a picture.

Songs in Strange Places with Tiny Desk Concerts and Project Song

An interesting panel about several projects being conducted by NPR. I didn't stay for the whole session, but it included a segment with Nellie McKay.


Manhatten Love Suicides at the Sesac day stage

This was a very good Indie band from Britain. I heard them as I was eating and stayed for the entire set. They seemed to draw some attention from many of the passers by. Will have to investigate further.

Austrialian Music Party

I heard several bands, but the most interesting was Temper Trap, who drew on guitar ostinatos like Edge from U2, combined with a millennial vocal sound. It seemed to go well with good weather, and a couple of bottles of Dark Wattle Ale.

Juliette Lewis and the New Romantiques at the DirecTV Bat Bar

All I can say about this is that I'm tired of screen actors wanting to do music. This show was about as compelling and interesting as Dog Star.

The Proclaimers at the DirecTV Lone Star Lounge

This was another highlight of the show. The brothers basically did this show by themselves, since their band did not want to make the trip. No matter, they were awesome even without the band.

Although they sing with a thick brogue, their voices are powerful and their lyrics moving. There is a certain weird charisma that these guy have that draws the audience in. Like the Kin, they had everyone eating out of the palm of their hands. They finished with their hit, I'm Gonna Be, which was a delight.

I felt compelled to buy one of their albums after seeing this show.

Honey Ryder at the Thristy Nickel

This band was listed as TBA on Red Gorilla schedule, most likely because they had SxSW showcases, as well. They were a British band with a female lead vocalist and equally talented woman on backup vocals.

I'm not sure if everything they sang was their own music, but they were very talented. If time constraints were not a factor, I may have attempted to see their showcase.

I Am David Sparkle at the Karma Lounge

Karma Lounge is dance club that is temporarily converted into a live music venue for SxSW. My friends Ron, Alissa and I went to check out this band from Singapore.

Unfortunately, they had a late start because of power problems. I'm not sure who was at fault, but Alissa (a former SxSW staff member) said that they used to have people specifically assigned to handle this. I felt really heartbroken to discover that this band had flown 30 hours to get to Austin, and that this was there only showcase. Kudos for the effort.

This band was a power trio having a nu-metal/prog sound, and no vocals. I found the music interesting and actually would have stayed longer to hear more, if possible.

Igudesman and Joo at St. David's Church

I always try to go and see at least one show at this venue, given the exceptional acoustics of the room. I chose this show at random, and fate came through for me.

Igudesman and Joo are a classical violinist and pianist who have a comedic act in the tradition of Victor Borge. Let me first say they are phenomenal musicians. On top of that, however, they are extremely funny.

My best advice is to direct you to their website or one of the Youtube videos, so you can see for yourself.
Igudesman and Joo at St. David's

Monahans at the Tap Room

I erroneously thought that the Golden Hornet Project was playing in this slot. It turned out being a local Austin band. I happened across my friend Thad, before proceeding elsewhere.

Austin Music Hall


I ended up at the Austin Music Hall early in order to see Devo. As a result, I had to sit through Tricky. Honestly, I don't get this guy's popularity. His band was fairly tight, playing slow grooves. I'm not sure what his talent is however, certainly not much of a singer or performer. Yawn.


This was another highlight of the night. Even though a huge crowd was attempting to see Metallica on the other end of town, at Stubbs, the Austin Music Hall was still packed as well. For me personally, 27 or 28 years had transpired since last seeing them on the New Traditionalists tour on Halloween night, in 1981 or 1982, at Radio City Music Hall. I was one of those weird punkers in high school that went to go see them immediately after they were on SNL in 1979, and was always a big fan of this very innovative band.

The 5 Spuds from Akron came out and played for over an hour covering 2 new songs and a selection of their hits including Jocko Homo, Mongoloid, Gut Feeling, Freedom of Choice, Whip It, Smart Patrol/Mr. DNA, Secret Agent man, etc... Even though they are all old men now, it was amazing how much the crowd was into the show.

They are expected to tour this year, I may have to make a point to go.

Devo at the Austin Music Hall

PS. Boogie Boy did make an appearance for one song, Beautiful World.

SxSWm - Thursday

Thursday was a busy day early, I'm feeling a little fatigue since this is already day 6, only 2 more to go.


There's Still Lots of Money in Songwriting and Music Publishing - Jeff and Todd Brabec

This is the fourth time I've seen the Brabec twins speak, third time at SxSW, and once as an Austin Music Foundation Small Group Session. I have always been impressed with depth of the material they present, and how approachable both gentlemen are. I was able to speak for a few minutes with Jeff afterwards, and it appears that another AMF session is in the works. I always learn something new at their talks.

Placing Your Music in Film

This was a repeat of a similar session from last year's SxSW. The panel was mainly Music Supervisors, but also included someone from Subpop records, who manages licensing of their catalog. It was very interesting to hear about this process from the Label's or Publisher's perspective.

Quincy Jones Keynote

This was a marathon and went over at least 40 minutes. I found this write up via Twitter. It does a great job recapping the talk.

Devo Interview

This was one of the highlights of the show for me, all 5 members of the band were present for an in-depth interview. They talked about all of the highlights of their career starting with the Akron, OH days, Kent State, and moving to LA.

Some interesting comments were made about their rivalry with the Talking Heads, along with some choice comments about David Byrne. They also told a story about their label trying to convince them to have John Lydon (aka. Johnny Rotten) join the band, giving some fascinating insight into the Music Biz at that time. Also interesting was their discussion of their cover of Working In A Coal Mine, how it was dropped from their album by their label, yet still went top 40 via the Heavy Metal soundtrack. Devo


Abalone Dots on the Sesac Day Stage

While grabbing a bite to eat, I caught this incredible act, 4 women from Sweden playing upright bass, guitar/mandolin, violin, cello. They also did incredible 4 part vocal harmonies. Outstanding, I will probably look for their CD and buy it.

Von Bondie on the DirecTV soundstage

I caught the last 3 songs of this act from Detroit. Well done, but fairly mainstream stuff.

Peter Murphy at the Elysium

I accompanied friends Ron and Alissa to see the original Goth rocker, Peter Murphy. Pretty much as expected, Peter seems to be good humored and self-deprecating enough to not come off like an asshole. The band was very good, they were obviously all old pros.

18th Floor

I make it point to go to this venue every year because of the consistent quality of the acts I've seen here.

Andy White

I caught the last song of the set of this very talented Irish act. My only complaint is that I wished I had not dallied along the way, so that I could have heard more

The Kin

Another highlight of the festival. They are a pair of brothers (?) from Australia, who had a mercenary rhythm section composed of a bass player and drummer from the Austin bands, Wideawake and Vast.

To me, these guys sound reminiscent of Tonic and you could tell that they had the little something extra. They had the crowd in the palms of their hands before coming out and doing one number standing on two chairs, in the middle of the crowd. I think these guys will be stars some day. Kudos to them for handing out download cards of their music.

Stars Go Dim

I caught the first 4 songs of this talented band from Tulsa, OK. I felt sorry for these guys because they had to follow the Kin.

Somi at Elephant Room

After an extra long setup, Somi managed to do one song. Things quickly derailed by PA/sound problems. After waiting 20 minutes, I left.

Leni Stern at the Copa

This was the last act I saw of the night. Leni is a NY based guitarist, who is married to Mike Stern, another famed guitarist. She was part of a 4 piece band, with her self, an Upright Bassist, Drums, and Bazuki player (who also had Tablas and other percussive nick-knacks)

The music was sort of new age mishmash of Persian/Middle Eastern sounds with a light Jazz twist. In general though, I find her playing a bit understated.

Needing sleep, I headed home a little early.

SxSWm - Wednesday

I managed a fairly early start to the first day of the music segment of SxSW. Of course, the most interesting panels are always the first couple of days.


Annoying Things that Bands Do

This was an entertaining panel of Club Owners and Bookers giving their collective horror stories. Nothing surprising here really, and I noticed that the group was predominantly people from the Chicago area. I wish there had been a few Texans on this panel, although I guess there were some universal aspects to what was being said on this panel.

Artist as Entrepreneur

A fantastic panel involving one artist, Rachael Sage (who I had seen at SxSW several years ago), along with Panos Panay (CEO Sonic Bids), Jeff Price (CEO Tunecore), and Derek Sivers (of CD Baby Fame). Jeff and Derek are fountains of information, and seem to really care about their fellow artists. Like Martin's panel later, repeated attendance may be required to catch the gems presented.

Loudness Wars with Bob Ludwig

A very interesting session with legendary Mastering Engineer, Bob Ludwig. This talk worked on several levels, and was very engaging because he spent considerable time A-B'ing mixes off of his laptop. The whole talk got of to a good start when he chose Frank Zappa's, Dumb All Over, the first listening.

This session was also fun because I ran into old friend, Scott Hull. I recorded a 4 song demo project over in Scott's parent's garage in Poughkeepsie, NY in 1985. He's now one of the giants in the NYC Mastering scene. Scott informed me that he had bought Masterdisk this past year.

Martin Atkins

This was essentially a repeat of Martin's talk from last year. Regardless, repetition is needed to fully absorb the jewels that Martin leaves on the table. He is truly a champion for the DIY crowd.



I started out the night at the Copa on Congress. I had never been in this club prior to tonight. It apparently is a Latin, Salsa Dansing club having a fairly large dance floor and a stage big enough to hold an 8 or 9 piece band.

El Tule

A very good local Latin dance band. The dance floor was packed, I'm sure Little Steven would have approved, given what he said during his talk.

Invincible Czars

The Czars were the main reason I went to this venue. Helping to support my good friend, Josh Robbins, from AMF. Their set was good, but the sound suffered because their Keyboard player is out of commission for a while.

Contra Coup

A local Dub band. I listened to the first 3 songs, but was not really that engaged with their material, so I ventured onwards.

Monster Big Band at the Elephant Room

I walked up the street to Austin's main Jazz Club, the Elephant Room. There was a local big band with about 14 members. I was impressed that they managed to fit into such a small space. I enjoyed to a degree, however, my preference has always been for my improvisational, small Jazz combos over Big Bands. There is however, a certain sonic strength to Big Bands that you have to like.

Del Castillo at Antones

I stopped in here to hopefully hear some of the new material from Del Castillo's new album to be released, next month. I believe that I heard two new cuts. As always, they killed. I noticed several people with out of town badges, who appeared to be impressed.

La Zona Rosa

I trekked down to LZR just to see what was going on. Was very disappointed to see button pusher/DJ called Deadmau5. Given the size of some of the temporary venues in town during SxSW, why would you sacrifice a good large stage?

The Tap Room

This was the first time I had ever been in this venue either. There was band named Wild Moccasins from Houston. I listened to one song and wondered how the hell they got accepted for a showcase.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SxSWi & SxSWf - Tuesday

Yesterday was the SxSWi close out. I attended three panels (that I can recall), one was about current attacks on Fair Use and was very well done, the second was about NUI interfaces which was also somewhat intriguing, and last but not least, I attended one of the Platinum Track sessions out of curiosity. I don't see what was supposed to be so special about the Platinum Track session, it hardly seemed worth segregating this talk from the others.

The most interesting thing of the day was the film panel with Richard Linklater and Todd Haynes. The conversation turned to the previous night's screening of Superstar. It was a great session because both directors answered a wide array of questions, from a very engaged audience. Great panel.

I finished the night with two films, You Won't Miss Me and the Austrailian film, Horsemen. I must say that the former was too artsy for my tastes. Some interesting usage of multiple cameras and media formats, but the story itself didn't appeal to me. Horsemen was a bit more engaging, sort of a Walking Talk meets Dead Alive vibe. Basically the story of a father who goes on a rampage after his daughter dies as a result of being involved with the porn industry.

The long days start tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

SxSWi & SxSWf - Monday

I got up a little later than usual today, and was unable to park in my usual spot, the Parking Garage. The weather has finally broken, and it was absolutely beautiful, warm and sunny.

In the morning I bounced between two talks about managing employees in startups, and protecting domain names. The first was somewhat interesting, but for the second talk, all I can say is god save us all from lawyers, please. This panel members (all lawyers) and some of the other Esquires in the audience came to the great conclusion that there is a problem with ICANN because they turn a profit, and that all of interests would be best served by having the government regulate this function.

After a nice leisurely lunch on the roof of the Iron Cactus, I spent the afternoon at two talks:

  • A film panel focused on the topic of 3D, with Robert Rodriguez and Henry Selick, the stop action animator of Nightmare before Christmas fame. This session was fantastic and went by way too fast. They both presented short clips of their work in this domain, and answered a large volume of questions. It was great to be able to see into the minds of these two fantastic artists and see what makes them tick. Having the audience so engaged, made the session enjoyable on several levels.
  • Bruce Sterling's keynote speech finished the day. I think he portrayed the general state of things, with some good commentary on today's Internet, Social Media, etc. I would say that although he tried to assume the mantel of an objective journalist or observer, his political agenda did leak out on several occasions. I'll just say that this, Bruce is lot more enamored and impressed by Politicians and Policy Wonks, than I am.

For the evening, I went to two film screenings:

  • Luckey - at the Convention Center theater. First let me say, this facility was surprisingly good. It is by far, the largest screen of the festival and great sound. The film itself was fantastic and very moving. If only most reality TV could aspire to this level.

    The film is a documentary about the life of sculptor, Tom Luckey, who became a quadriplegic from a fall. The deadly irony of this, is the fall was the result of one of his own architectural decisions.

    The film covers his present day business, building elaborate climbing tree sculptures that you would find in a Children's Museum. The documentary details the interactions with various family members as they prepare one of these climbing trees, for the Boston Children's Museum.

  • The second film I saw last night, was listed as TBA on the Alamo Ritz list. This intrigued me enough to want to go see it. While in line, I recognized that the person next to me in line was originally from Baltimore (my home town), and we had a fun conversation while waiting.

    Entry to the screening was delayed. All we were told is that the film was 30 years old, historically significant and that projector setup was taking longer than expected. We finally entered the theater, I was surprised to see Richard Linklater introduced as the MC. He then explained that we were about to see Todd Haynes' banned film Superstar, the Karen Carpenter story, and that Todd might be available after the screening for Q&A. Richard also spoke about seeing this film back then, and the impact it had upon him.

    The entire film is done with barbie dolls, interspersed with segues of real people at various points. I found it extremely creative, and found it interesting to hear about why the film had been banned. I was really happy I made this decision to just wing it.

Looking forward to another great day of weather and the close out of SxSWi.

Monday, March 16, 2009

SxSWi and SxSWf - Sunday

Sunday was a great day, but one contributor to that was the turn in the weather. It finally resembled an Austin spring. It was almost a crime to spend part of the day inside.

Of note for SxSWi, I attended talks on Version Control, and the status of CSS3. Having used svn every day for the past 4 or 5 years coupled, with bzr, then git for the past 18 months, I felt like I could have given as good of a talk on the subject, as any of the panel members. Of course, there were several corporate types still pushing their proprietary wares. My only question, why? You put any of these up against git, and I believe that git will win every time (now that the documentation problem is being addressed).

The CSS3 talk was more interesting with the lead Mozilla developer, a member of the IE8 team, and the CTO of Opera there for the discussion (no Safari representation, however, boo Apple). As much as it pains be to say, kudos to Microsoft for finishing a fully CSS 2.1 compliant version of IE8.

The highlight of the day however, was hearing lifelong Kubrick friend and producer, Jan Harlan, talk about Stanley. It was a real treat to hear Jan in person, since I loved the documentary he prepared that is included the Kubrick Box Set, from Warner Brothers. The room was filled with people (like me), who were all passionate fans of SK's work. The highlights for me was hearing about two projects that Stanley was never able to complete, Napolean, and the Aryan Papers, a Holocaust movie that was scrapped because of concurrency with Shindler's List. Jan did say however, that a new book will be published with Stanley's notes, storyboards, etc. from his extensive pre-production process for these two movies, and AI. He also mentioned that a 2nd (and cheaper) edition of the Taschen Kubrick book was going to press.

I finished the night with 2 films, Humpday, and a Sneek Peak presentation of Sasha Baron Cohen's new movie, Bruno. Humpday was shown at the Alamo Ritz, and although I miss their original downtown location, I must say I am growing to like this location. I also really enjoy the whole process with having a Q&A with the director, after the screening. Talking to some film people in line from LA, I also discovered that the Alamo concept is still unique to Austin. It's a shame, I think it would take off anywhere.

For Bruno, all I can say is that Sasha seems more and more like Andy Kaufman every day. If you thought Borat was over the top, then all I can say is that he has pushed the envelope even further. I laughed pretty hard at the footage they showed. The only thing I didn't like was the heavy handed security. There were actually hired security for this screening, to ensure that no screeners appeared on the Internet. Cell phone confiscations were threatened.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

SxSWi, SxSWf and Barcamp Austin IV - Saturday

Although I'm taking in the whole SxSW experience this year (Interactive, Film and Music), I punted day one because of work commitments, and crappy weather Friday. I opted for a more manageable 9 straight days, rather than 10 (LOL). Today, I popped my Interactive and Film cherry.

Having never been to the Interactive portion of SxSW before, I was working with a clean slate of expectations. It did seem however, as though the Barcamp or unconference model has started to diffuse over into the conference world. Given the subject matter and people at SxSWi this was not too surprising.

I attended a number of sessions about startups and bootstrapping, and several specifically focused on Ruby on Rails. These were not new subject areas for me, I was more interested in seeing their mainstream adoption. Mid afternoon, I also managed to sneak out, and walk down the street a block to the Barcamp Austin IV location, at the old Paradox nightclub. I must say, although the location was great (relative to SxSW), the actual venue did not work for me. In fact, this is the first Barcamp I would call a Fail.

For the remainder of the day I hit several of the outside parties, saw Doc Searls interviewed, and straiffed the Dorkbot event, which included a guy that had built a large modular analog synthesizer (from modified PAIA kits and I ended the night with a pair of films, including Daryl Wein's and Zoe Lister-Jones', Breaking Upward. An absolutely fantastic movie in the narrative feature realm.

Now, off to prepare breakfast, and head downtown for my day 2.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

California Guitar Trio at the One World Theater

CGT is one of those groups that I will never grow tired of, particularly at a venue like the One World. Last night, I attended the late show. It marked the first time that I had sat in the balcony, where the acoustics turned out being absolutely awesome. Of course, I was right next to the sound-man.

Some elements of this show were exactly like the last show I had seen in August, 2007. Once again, they sold CDs of the soundboard mix, and were available for a meet and greet after the show.

This show featured a new set list, and they did not perform Bohemian Rhapsody or Freebird. Paul did indicate after the show, that they were ready to play Rhapsody if requested. The most interesting part of the night ended up being the special guests, 3 music students from the University of Texas Percussion Lab.

Apparently, CGT posted the arrangement scores for some of their music on their website. Three music majors from UT, learned the pieces as a Vibraphone Trio, and posted videos of a recital on You Tube. Paul said that the band was amazed when the students contacted them.

CGT decided to rehearse with the group upon arriving here in Austin, and have the 3 percussionists join them on stage. The double trios played the Marsh, and Melrose Avenue during the encore. Both numbers were very well done, and moving. Touche guys!

The highlights for me, were the Shadow Walk during Apache and the meet and greet after the show. During the show they talked a bit about their history. It seems that my path had crossed theirs 20 years, leading to this story:

Sometime last year, I stumbled across a video of Robert Fripp's League of Crafty Guitarists on You Tube. It was from the 1989 - 1990 timeframe. Watching it I noticed that all 3 members of CGT and Trey Gunn were in the League at that time.

I had the good fortune to see LoCG at the Chance, in Poughkeepsie, NY around 1989 or so. The particular show featured one unusual incident. A King Crimson fan (better described as a stalker) was circulating in front of the stage singing songs from Starless and Bible Black while the LoCG was playing. Robert Fripp reached his breaking point, stopped the show and had him removed.

I asked Bert Lam if he was in the LoCG during that timeframe, and he said possibly. Once I described this incident Paul and Bert both started laughing and confirmed that they were all there that night. It was very fun sharing this 20 year old memory with the band. Although the incident was annoying, it made the show memorable for both the audience and the performers.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

RIP: Billy Powell

Billy Powell passed away yesterday. Even though I grew up in the 70's, I wasn't a huge Lynyrd Skynyrd fan. I spent most of my teen years first being into Prog, then getting into Punk. There is no denying however, that Skynyrd's tragic history and music, are both archetypal. They created and defined a whole genre of music.

As I grew older, I started listening to and playing a lot more Rockabilly, Blues and Roots Music. From this, I gained a new found respect for Billy Powell. There is something mythical about Billy's story too, both in how he stepped up from roadie to musician, and his being the only survivor of the Plane Crash. If the story wasn't true, it would be hard to believe. You'd almost expect Josef Campbell to be telling you his tale.

It was sad to hear of his passing. I know that I will be reminded of him when I go see the California Guitar Trio next month, if they play the Freebird encore.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bill Bruford Retires

I'm bummed. One of my favorite drummers ever, Bill Bruford, has announced that he's hanging up the cleats, and will no longer be performing live. Of course, one immediately wonders what is behind this decision. Hopefully, his health is well.

I will look back with fondness at the shows I've seen with Billy B. They include Yes/Union, King Crimson, Earthworks, with David Torn, and with Patrick Moraz. If I have one regret, it's being too young to have seen him in Yes the first time around, with the 1974 KC lineup, with his Solo Project (Holdsworth, Berlin and Stewart) and with UK.

Bruford is one of a small group of artists that I can honestly say that I listen to at least once a day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

RIP: Patrick McGoohan

If I didn't listen to Gardner Goldsmith's podcast, I would have never heard the news that Patrick McGoohan (aka. Number 6) has passed away. Major bummer.

Kind of disappointing, since there was some talk of a remake of The Prisoner, a few years back. Now more than ever, I think McGoohan's message needs to be heard.

This show taught me to question all uses of the word we.

Ravens wrap up

I have mixed feelings about this season. On one hand, I feel they exceeded all expectations. With 16 players, including 3 defensive starters, on IR, a Rookie QB and Head Coach, the thought of playing the AFC Championship game seemed almost absurd. Losing the game however, was bitter sweat. Windows into the big game are hard to come by, and nothing is guaranteed next year.

Fate unforunately, conspired against the team. Hurricane Ike forced the team to take their bye in week 2, rather than originally scheduled, week 10. As a result, Sunday's game was the 18th straight week that they had played. I knew in my heart that they didn't have anything left in the tank (running on fumes, as they say).

Well, it's 8 months until Camp and Flacco is clearly a Franchise QB! I guess I'm rooting for the Cardinals in two weeks ;)