Friday, December 23, 2011

UGH, Not Another Useless Meeting

Seth Godin has a great blog post today about meetings. I haven't been in one of those big meeting (manager, record label, booking agent, etc) lately, but I dreaded them as nothing seemed to get established. Everyone got an updated agenda, but the agenda was always the same: single release date, what radio format would get it, album release date, etc.

Seth points out that firemen coordinate their actions, take action and save lives. They don't have subcommittees to make it happen. Why can't corporate meetings follow their lead. Leave the gunk at the door, get to business and everyone would be happy. Meetings should not be called because someone wants to hear themselves speak.

I'll leave you with his closing line.

How would you do it [meaning the meeting] differently if the building were burning down? Because it is.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Voice Of An Angel Was Born Today

It never fails that every December 21st I remember it's Carl Wilson's birthday. In my book and I'm sure by a lot of others standards, he had one of the greatest voices of all time. His crowning glory being God Only Knows. Carl died way too soon in 1998. Interestingly there was a press release floating around last week about the remaining Beach Boys reuniting for a 50th anniversary tour. Nowhere were Carl or his brother Dennis mentioned. Both played such a big part in the success of that band. It was criminal to leave them both out.

I found this clip from 1984's TV show Solid Gold. Carl sounds amazing. He's dueting with host Marilyn McCoo. Strange. Yes.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

America's Got Howard Stern

Howard Stern announced on his radio show that he will be a judge on next season's America's Got Talent. The live shows will take place in New York. He will go on the road for the tryouts, but it will not interfere with the radio show, although Robin was all set to move to LA. His involvement starts in February 2012.

Howard who takes judging siriusly (spelling intended) said, "There will be no goofy acts". I'm going to be a no nonsense judge."

As for his appearance on the show, he plans on wearing a suit with no tie. His hair will be "neat and coiffed."

"It's going to be something else. I am prepared."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Started Out Great and Then Fizzled

Kurt Sutter and company were building up to quite the season finale for Sons of Anarchy last night. Too bad that by the end of the evening the excitement had the air blown out of it.

The CIA connection came out of nowhere, but gave it a twist. It also hasten the exit of FBI agent Potter. Is there anyone who liked that character? Not that we were suppose to like him, but he turns out to be a bit more sympathetic by the time he departs.

Jax is between a rock and hard place. He needs to kill Clay. If he does, the Irish won't play ball and the CIA will destroy the club. By the end of the episode he has fire in his eyes. He is the new president. Clay lays in his hospital bed. But wait, that's not where the episode leaves us. The focus is turned to Tara vs Gemma. Not that I would mind another season of Katey Sagal knocking it out of the park as she consistently does each year. (Why is she not nominated for an Emmy????) Has Tara become Dr. Gemma? According to Sutter, look for Wendy (Jax-ex) to factor the duo into a trio next season. Could be what brings Gemma and Tara together.

Not exactly the ending I was waiting for, but we'll see SAMCRO in September.....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don DeVito: Producer and Esteemed Record Exec

Anyone that I've talked to about Don DeVito's passing said the same thing: "That's really sad. He was such a great guy. I liked him." That alone is a testament to his integrity in a business that might not always reward that attribute.

An encounter with Al Kooper led him to a short time on the road as a musician. When his band broke up, he was stuck in Arkansas and in a fortunate stroke of serendipity, he meets Johnny Cash there. Johnny later introduces him to Bob Dylan and Don produces Desire and Blood On The Tracks.

It's stunning that Don spent his entire working career at CBS/Columbia Records. Starting in 1967 in the sports dept, he is quickly transferred to CBS Records. His first job was as a local promotions guy and then moved to A&R. He was instrumental in producing The Concert for New York City, which occurred after 9/11. Don retired in 2007.

He is quoted in a lovely obit in Billboard as saying how he'd liked to be remembered: "For devotion to the music."

Rosanne Cash's tweet: Sad my old friend Don DeVito died. My dad intro'd him to Dylan, DeVito then produced Desire, profound influence on me.

Elvis Costello Emplores Fan Not To Buy His Record

Yes, Elvis via his website, is asking fan to wait till next year to purchase his latest release, The Return Of The Spectacular Spinning Songbook. He say no matter how he tried to convince his record label, they would not reduce the price of the record. He thinks it's too high. If you need it now, pirate it.

He goes one step further and actually recommends another artist if you're looking for a gift to purchase for the holidays.

If you want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving, we suggest, “Ambassador Of Jazz” - a cute little imitation suitcase containing ten re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived – Louis Armstrong.

The album (or I should say package: it's a CD, DVD and LP) which comes out 12/6 is at pre-order prices which run the gamut between $202.63 at Amazon to $307.99 at J&R (which it looks like is paid through Amazon at checkout). I'm assuming a single CD will be released in the new year, which will not be as costly.

I have not seen any comments from Elvis' record label, Hip-O Records which is part of the Universal Music Group and I didn't receive a response from his PR person. Would love to know their reasoning on the pricing.

A precursor to the tour that encompasses this recording was Elvis' 1986 Costello Sings Again Tour, which I saw on Broadway. He performed five nights at the Broadway Theater and each night was a different theme. I saw the spin the wheel, we'll play the song night. An audience member was called on stage to spin the wheel and whatever song (or name your request) came up, the band played it. Alison was played twice. I loved the show and it's spontaneity. My brother caught this most recent tour at the Paramount in Huntington and loved it.

Elvis/ Guster? Similar album covers:



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Rules of Civility in 1930's New York

I read about the author Amor Towles before I read The Rules of Civility.   We share a love for Edward Hopper's paintings.  His grandmother put off marriage until she was 30 because she was having so much fun.  This was obviously a thought in his head when he wrote the book.  He had a very regimented approach to writing.  The author is quoted on his website:

I decided it would be a distinctive first person narrative; all events and characters would be carefully imagined in advance; and it would be written in one year. After a few weeks of preparation, I started Rules of Civility on January 1, 2006 and wrapped it up 365 days later. The book was designed with 26 chapters, because there are 52 weeks in the year and I allotted myself two weeks to draft, revise and bank each chapter.

With this in mind, my expectations were high for the book.   We read it for book club and it was well received.   The characters are an interesting bunch, but I thought lacking initial substance, which may have been a result of that era.  I wasn't endeared to them as much as I wanted to be. The ones I thought would be the most true to their roots weren't and the ones I thought were crazy, might be, but they came to terms with where they wanted to be and left all their preconceived thoughts on how to find happiness behind.  The book is still a nice read despite my misgivings on character introductions. 

The book takes places in 1938.  It's just after the Depression and there are hints, but no one is anticipating World War ll.  (It's almost impossible to discard the Gatsby effect even though this book takes place a decade later.)  Katey, the main character seems to wiggle her way into the social scene. It starts by a chance encounter with Tinker on New Year's Eve. From there, she hooks up with other socially tied-in rich kids such as Dicky Vanderwhile and  Wallace Wolcott. 

A lot of reviews point to Katey as being an outsider, but I felt she was only an outsider in that she wasn't brought up in a wealthy environment.  She came from Brooklyn.  Her father, who she loved, was Russian.  Katey seemed to work her way into any situation. She knew how to play the game whether she was dealing with her high level boss (she gets a job at a new magazine at Conde Nast) or Tinker's "godmother." I had the sense that she was taking life in and using it to her advantage. 

The great thing about this novel is that there is a real storyline. I know that may sound ridiculous, but most of the current fiction I've read lately had the feel of scenes written on napkins and then cobbled into a book.  I love that it took place in New York.  I think I've ODed on  Middle Eastern/Indian/Pakistani authors for the time being.

The title owes to George Washington’s “Rules of Civility”.   He was sixteen when he wrote it.  The rules basically taught respect for others, which would make the follower of these rules a better person.  The rules were based on teachings from French Jesuits.   By the end of that eye opening year, the characters each find their own place of civility.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy The Music Industry

Bob Lefsetz has a worth-reading post that was inspired by the reporting on the clearing of Zuccotti Park.  He nails the reasons why people stopped buying recorded music and/or going to so few shows a year.  (Could this be a warning for the financial institutions?)  He chronicles it beginning with MTV and the advent of the CD.  CD's cost more than vinyl or cassettes for the consumer and the artists received less in royalties.  He points out something I forgot:  
they [the musicians] settled for a reduced royalty, under the rubric that money was needed to grow this new technology. Ain’t that a laugh.
It was a laugh and pouring salt in the wound, long after the technology was "developed", the labels continued to enact the reduced royalty.

Here is where the article hits it's stride:
The bankers were overpaid because of a destruction of regulation and oversight and a thin layer of people got rich, and they used their lobbying power, their money, to institute lower taxes. And you wonder why the rank and file are pissed off?

The rights holders [in the music biz] have done a good job of labeling the public as ungrateful thieves. But is this an accurate description? Almost definitely not. The public was fed up with past practices and angry because they could not acquire music the way they wanted to
.

People are buying less and less music.  Will people rely less and less on banks and other financial institutions unless these institutions start listening to the consumer, instead of ignoring them?

Friday, November 11, 2011

ENERGY!

Crazy energy came from the stage at Terminal 5 last night.  Fitz and the Tantrums were nonstop.  The music poured from them. 


It was hard to take my eyes off Noelle Scaggs .  She's one third of the lead-singing duo (figure that one out) along with band leader Michael Fitzpatrick.  With the tambourine as an extension of her arm, she moved and grooved like her life depended on it.  She gets the crowd going. Participation is key.  She reminded me so much of Ranking Roger, the MC/toaster and creative half of The Beat/General Public.  She doesn't sound anything like him, just played the stage and got the audience going in that same manner. Her vocals are a wonderful mix for Fitz and their playful banter recalls the great 60's/70's  duos.  Think Marvin and Tammi, Tina and Ike.  Like Tina and Ike they took a song and turned it on it's head. For Tina and Ike it was Proud Mary, for Fitz it was Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).  It became a call out, dance party.  How'd they do that?

Leader Fitz stayed sartorial the entire show.  Moving like Pete Townsend meets David Byrne, he never unbuttoned his red suit (accented by a black striped T-shirt).  He sweat through that jacket, but never removed it.  When you're  having that much fun who can worry about the jacket?

The band thanked the sold out crowd many times, stating that New York was the first city to embrace them (they are from LA).  The crowd loved it.  The band gets the award for most impressive command of an audience.  I've never seen 3000 people squat down at the request of the performers.  During the encore MoneyGrabber, the crowd got down.  Fitz then instructed,  "New Yorkers lose your f**king minds".  In unison, the audience jumped to their feet. 


Instead of rehashing the set list, I'll just say Fitz and The Tantrums put on a party.  There music is not a revival of 60's/70's soul.  It pulls from all sorts of influences and leads you down a brand new path.  GO SEE THEM!

Note:  The band showed their support for Occupy Wall St and performed earlier in the day yesterday at Zuccotti Park.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Yorkers Buy The Most Country Music

On the heels of the CMA's last night (How wonderful was the tribute to Glen Campbell? How great are those Jimmy Webb songs?), this week's Nielsen report states that New York City is the biggest market for country music sales.  They attribute that more to the larger population of NY than say a city like Nashville.  Country is the new rock so it's no surprise that New Yorkers buy country music.  The surprise is that radio still ignores this market and has yet to bring back a country station.  Maybe there are a lot of Sirius XM subscribers in Gotham City. 

Monday, November 07, 2011

Chuck D and How Record Labels Pay Royalties

Universal Music lost its digital royalties case to Eminem.  Universal had been claiming in all ways, except with regard to playing royalties to musicians, that iTunes (also includes other digital sales and ringtones) purchases were licenses as opposed to sales.  A sale, according to Universal, was a physical unit such as a CD.  A license is typically the use of a song in a movie or TV show and as such, labels typically give higher royalties to musicians for licenses as they do not require any extra spending from the label (for packaging, marketing, etc). 

All of this brings me to the Techdirt post from a few days ago, which very clearly lays out the case Chuck D is making against Universal.  He wants to be paid for his iTunes sales as a license, not a sale.  According to the article, Chuck D is receiving  $80.33 for every 1000 units sold.  As his lawsuit claims, his rightful royalty payment should be  $315.85 for every 1,000 units sold.

This could have huge ramifications for major labels.  Their accounting to the artists has always been sketchy at best.  I've heard of big name artists who would audit the labels every 4 years and walk away with a couple of million dollars.  I don't believe there were any artists or managers who were deluded about this accounting practice. We were all aware of it.  Since the bands I managed never relied on royalty payments and didn't sell in the millions of units, it was a moot point.  It would probably cost more to hire a lawyer, then finding what might be a long lost royalty payment.   

It's great to see Chuck D pursuing this.  If these bigger artists can pave the way, it might mean a bit more transparency from the labels. 

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Scary New York

The New York Times has a photo essay from photographer John Conn who spent the late 70's and early 80's photographing the subway system.  For Halloween, the piece is titled When The City Was A House of Horrors.  

This was a great time for music in the city. I was going to college in the Bronx and riding the D Train at least once a week.  I remember taking those graffiti laden trains at all hours of the night coming back from shows downtown. It would be myself and a few girlfriends.  I look back now and say "What were we thinking?"  When you're in college and there is a band you want to see, you are fearless.

These photos brought me back to that time when it cost 50/60 cents to ride a filthy train downtown to see and hear great music. 

This photo to the right titled Trick or Treat, as well as others of Conn's can be purchased on his website. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Searching the MC Hammer Way


MC Hammer announced he and his partners are creating a new search engine called WireDoo.   The WireDoo site is in pre-Beta, which means you can give them your email address and they might get back to you.  His announcement came at the Web 2.0. Summit in San Francisco this week.

In his own question and answer pitch he said, "Do we really need another search? Of course not."  His theory is this one will be more about relationships and topics rather than keywords.

This is not his first foray into the tech world.  Billboard noted:   In 2008 he launched DanceJam.com, a video sharing site for dancers, he develops iPad apps and has investments in multiple online start-ups.

Of course I envision a search that no matter what keywords you submit, you will get redirected to this. where you will also have the option of buying harem pants.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

6 Reasons To Dislike Coldplay

The New Yorker rarely has articles like this.  When I saw the title Why I Don't Like Coldplay, I thought for sure it would be because they are so good, because the lead singer is married to Gwyneth, etc.  I was surprised to see a true-to-title analysis by Sasha Frere-Jones. 

He makes his case in a 6 point investigation. It's worth a read.  My favorite point is #5:

Seven out of ten times, Coldplay sound almost exactly like U2—the U2 that exists now, not the wiry, feral U2 of 1980 (which would be a decent idea). U2 have not broken up. This is inefficient. Coldplay should consider copying Big Star or The Monkees.

The songwriting doesn't really get much better than Big Star or the Monkees.  It's a sound suggestion. 

Lead singer Chris Martin seems to be a likable guy. He came across that way in a CBS Sunday Morning interview.  It just seems like the band is missing something.  Maybe Sasha is right, they need a ride on the Last Train To Clarksville. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Acetates: The New MP3's

“The goal is to have surprises.”  In this ever-changing world of advancing technology, director/editor Alex Steryermark is surprisingly using a piece of recording equipment from the 1930’s to expose recording artists of the 21st century. “It’s about getting together with the artist in an authentic way.”

Alex has been accumulating PRESTOs, which inspired The 78 Project.    The PRESTO was considered a “portable” recorder (it weighs in at about 50 lbs). Alan Lomax used one for his field recordings. One of the most famous uses of the PRESTO was by a reporter and engineer who were sent to cover the Hindenburg landing.  Obviously a disaster ensued and they were able to record the events as they unfolded and interview survivors for an on-the-scene account. 

The 78 Project is an ongoing collection of mini-documentaries, which run from 6 to 9 minutes.  Explains Alex, “We asked artists to do their take on a public domain song:  folk, blues or murder ballads and one of their own songs. The piece is centered around the cover song.  The artist picks the recording location. Recording is an excuse to see artists in an exposed, intimate way.”

A PRESTO records directly from one mic to the acetate disc, so it’s a live recording.  “It’s one mic and we have three minutes. We can screw up, they [the musician] can screw up.”  Dawn Landes performed the inaugural recording.  “Since it’s the first one we did, everything went wrong and we still got a great record.”   To date, they followed with two other recordings. The Reverend John Delore & Kara Suzanne recorded the early 19th century murder ballad Omie Wise.  Their updated version incorporates the OJ Simpson story.  The third piece takes place at an outdoor gathering with the Mynabirds.  

Per the Project’s website:

As it cuts, the PRESTO throws up a thread about the thickness and texture of human hair.  That’s the negative space from the sound!  But not only is it INCREDIBLY FLAMMABLE, it can also become lodged under the cutting needle if it isn’t constantly guided away with a brush.  You want to ruin the shirt you’re wearing?  Try being the one holding the brush as the record spins.  Guaranteed to make you sweat.

Alex was developing the project with the executive producer Erik Nelson when he decided to just start recording. He had the equipment needed to film and record and knew the musicians.  These would be low-pressure situations (unless you worry about the PRESTO catching on fire). The original TV show idea was redeveloped as a web series.

Along with writer/producer Lavinia Jones Wright, they have completed three episodes.  They’ve done a great job of giving us just enough with the three trailers to whet the whistle of curiosity:  What are they going to give us next?  The first full-length piece should be posted this week.

The anticipation for a new music project used to be fever pitch. You could mark your calendar for the next Clash release and you were there at the record store waiting to buy it.  This has been lost in the current overload of music.  Wouldn’t it be nice to get a regular email alert that an admired musician has just recorded for The 78 Project?  It would be 6 minutes of rediscovering music and the people who make it, a nice surprise indeed. 


Note on Alex Steyermark:  Music is always a big component of Alex’s work.  He’s a master at placing appropriate music in the right film scenes (music supervisor on films such as Malcolm X, The Ice Storm, For Love Or Money, Subway Stories).  His most recent directorial endeavor is Losers Take All, the story of the trials and tribulations of an indie  rock band trying to make it in the 1980’s. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Rock's Royal Couple Splits

After 27 years of marriage, rock's reigning couple, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon are calling it quits.  Matador Records released a statement saying that Sonic Youth will complete their November South American tour, but there is no word on the fate of the band or the European tour dates that are posted on the band's website.  

Kim & Thurston in happier times.
My hypothesis on what caused the split.

1.  First there was the move from New York City to Massachusetts a few years back. This stunned the indie community.  No one every thought they would leave the city. I can't say I blame them for wanting a more "human" existence, but they were synonymous with downtown.  This may have changed their world a little too much.

2.  Thurston's inability to say no to every music documentary producer.  Is there one film out there that he doesn't appear in?  My friend and I have a running joke.  We time it to see how long a music documentary can play before Thurston appears. I haven't seen the George Harrison piece yet, but it wouldn't surprise me if he had a cameo.

Scene at home:
Kim: "Where are you going  Thurston?"
Thurston:  "Out"
Kim: "Don't tell me you're guesting on  another documentary.  You never have time for me and the kid."

Friday, October 14, 2011

moe. Plays One For Steve Jobs

moe. performs the song Crab Eyes solely with their iPads. It's a trip. 

If bands continue to do this, more and more roadies will be out of work.  It would make touring a lot cheaper.

What Xactly Is Simon's Goal?

I haven't been watching faithfully, only a bit here and there, but I'm confused by what Simon Cowell's goal is for the X Factor as far as presenting an entertaining TV show. 

Last night contestants were broken into groups:  Girls, Boys, Over 30 years olds and Groups.  Each judge was at an outdoor location with one of the groups. This is where it lost me. This didn't add a thing to the show, in fact it was outright boring.

    -This type of auditioning does not lend itself to an outdoor setting.  There are vast rolling hills in the background, long vistas and poolsides.  If it were an athletic competition, it would be the perfect backdrop.  Singers without live bands (in almost all cases, I'll get to this later) shine in intimate settings. 

    -This week Simon set himself apart from the other judges.  Simon is in Paris, everyone else is in the US. Two are in California locations and one in the Hamptons.  Simon is the only sole judge.  The others all have a celebrity co-judge with them.  After a contestant sings and leaves the Paris performing area, three men crowd around Simon's feet like his harem. It conjured up images of those pictures of Jesus surrounded by children.  They are adoringly looking upward at this most sacred man.  This has got to be intentional. 

    -Simon looks like he came from Miami Vice's central casting.  Reclining on his couch, he is attired in a white shirt open to his navel, bare feet, one leg on the couch and sporting a tan.  Is he suppose to look more "American?"  I hope that's not the Brits impression of us.

    -From what I saw, only those auditioning in front of Simon had live musicians.  There was a piano set up poolside and a guitarist.  The other judges' contestants sang to recorded backing tracks. 

    -The singers seemed lost in these vast settings.  I think it was a nice change from American Idol to have the auditions in front of an audience.  They are looking for an entertainer, not just someone with a good voice.  The ability to win over an audience is key and this setting added to the show.  The outdoor locations, do not. 
      I'm having a hard time finding one good reason for shooting in these locales.  If Simon needed to be in Paris or was vacationing there, it does make sense.  Beyond that, I haven't got a clue.

      Wednesday, October 12, 2011

      No More Chicken Dance!!

      What is with females singers and the chicken dance?  I'm starting to see it way too often.  It appears to come with the other ridiculous epidemic:  Shoes with 5" heels. No wonder these women can't walk across a stage with ease.  Are those shoes really necessary?  How many times do they have to visit orthopedic doctors?

      The latest chicken dance siting was on Good Morning America.  Nicole Scherzinger performing this morning did an abbreviated version, which amounted to a few steps to the viewers left.  The move entailed walking across the stage as if you were tiptoeing in a Bugs Bunny cartoon while simultaneously  moving the head front to back to mimic the walk of a chicken crossing the road. (no joke will follow)



      Focus on the white chicken in this video.

      The ultimate grande dame of  chicken dancing is Carrie Underwood.  I saw her open for Keith Urban a few years ago and she was all over the stage looking like she was ready to lay an egg.   The move starts one minute into this video:


      Lose the shoes and lose the dance. Have fun on stage.  Do not be beholden to a 5" heel.
      In this case, don't break a leg.

      Wednesday, October 05, 2011

      It's Hard To Believe Steve Jobs Is Gone

      In almost my entire working career, I've used Apple products and Steve Jobs has always been there, well except for that span where the board kicked him out (what were they thinking?).   It's hard to believe that Steve Jobs will not be around to introduce a new product. 

      When I was growing up, I couldn't wait for the latest release of my favorite band. It was a time of anticipation and excitement.  As new record releases became less import and music was leaked, Steve Jobs slowly crept into that role of creating excitement.  The speculation on the latest iPhone was building for months and just yesterday the iPhone 4GS was revealed.  The talk leading up to it, could only rival that of the next Led Zeppelin record in the 1970's. 

      Steve was probably one of the most important people of past 25 years and yes he left the world way too young at 56.  He was here and he did make a difference and I certainly benefited from it. 

      The Low Energy of The Writer's Writer

      I've been an avid reader of the New Yorker for years and finally made it to an event at this past weekend's New Yorker FestivalThe Writer's Writer featured three authors whose works I have read and enjoyed: Jeffrey Eugenides (Middlesex), Nicole Krauss (The History of Love) and Jhumpa Lahiri (Unaccustomed Earth).



      The eye opener from the evening was Jhumpi's comments on an author's first piece.  “Everybody writes their first book with a certain innocence, a purity of vision.”  There are no guidelines when writing a first book, no pressures to write a certain way or to answer to your publisher, editor or PR person.  She believes a writer's writer keeps that purity of vision throughout his/her career.

      Her comments would ring very true for lots of recording artists, especially now, as musicians can make records for and by themselves.  I've heard some musicians say "I only had one record in me."  A song writing paralysis sets in when more is demanded of them.  There is a sense of innocence that is lost.  Does that mean that writers (and musicians) who can hang on to that innocence and purity end up in obscurity? Not necessarily, but the writers did seem to think that more times than not, the writer's writer is not selling a lot of books.  I think of a musician's musician as one who can play anything with anyone.  More times than not, that person is usually a side musician, not the one selling millions of records. They are making a really good living, but not in the limelight.  Deborah Treisman, the fiction editor of the New Yorker and the moderator of the panel relayed a description she once heard of a writer's write as "someone who lives at or below the poverty line."  This elicited a chuckle from the audience.

      An audience member asked how does an author deal with having either a screenwriter or a director take his/her work and morph it into something else.  Jeffrey said you have to realize that they are going to make it their own.  He said a director was true to his writing (Virgin Suicides) and another used the first 20 minutes of the movie as the basis of his story and then went from there. He said that was necessary as he wrote a short story (Baster) and they continued it. 

      With the exception of Jeffrey, the night was low on energy.  It could be the late start time of 9:30pm. If it were a concert, the time would have made sense, but for writers discussing  writers, it's late.  Deborah Treisman could have moved the evening along a little faster, but she was courteous in letting the authors complete their thoughts.  I also think the topic did not lend itself to elaborating.  Once an authors stated their definition of a writer's writer and listed their favorite authors (each panelist read from their favorite author) , there wasn't much to play off of.

      I've seen plenty of authors speak about their own works and it's been very engaging.  Maybe when authors speak of others works, it doesn't resonate the same way.

      Of Note: Jeffrey's new book, The Marriage Plot which comes out  on the 11th, has a publisher who decided a Times Square Billboard was necessary.  

      Thursday, September 29, 2011

      Lady Gaga 0, Fan 1

      Lady Gaga and/or  her management appealed to the National Arbitration Forum.  Her claim was that ladygaga.org, which was started by a fan, was a trademark infringement.  The owner of the site claimed that she was not gaining any profit from the site and using it solely to promote Lady Gaga. 

      This is where it gets tricky for an artist who fiercely wants to protect his/her image.  Is it worth alienating a fan who is clearly a superfan?  The website states on the homepage that it's an unofficial site. 

      For someone as popular and in the public eye as Lady Gaga, she would have to think situations like this would be sprouting up all over. This fan was smart enough to register ladygaga.org.  In checking other domains, .net is another unofficial website, .info redirects to a dance website.  It's surprising that Gaga didn't register every domain configuration and redirect them all to her official website. 

      The official verdict according to the Hollywood Reporter
      Three panelists at the National Arbitration Forum ruled that Lady Gaga had failed to show that respondent lacked legitimate interest in the disputed domain name.

      Fan 1, Gaga 0

      Monday, September 26, 2011

      Losers Take All



      In a Six Degrees of Separation moment, I have a few connections to the movie Losers Take All.  It's based on a story by Ed Bradin and Roger Rawlings.  I've know Ed for years. Our first encounter may have been my first day of college.  His sister and I were college roommates.  I had never met her prior to going to Fordham.   While I was out of the room on that first day, Kerri moved in.  You can always judge someone by their music collection and apparently Eddy, who was there to drop off his sister at college, approved of my mine.  There was plenty of Ramones, Blondie, Beach Boys and  Elvis Costello. 

      Ed joined us at Fordham two years later and he and Roger formed the band the Altar Boys.  This movie is based on their story.

      In another degree of separation, the film director, Alex Steyermark is one of the best music supervisors I know.  He has such a connection between film and music.  It makes sense that two of his directorial stints have been music related.  The other film being Prey For Rock & Roll. 

      The movie was seen at the Woodstock Film Festival this past Friday and hopefully it will be at a theater near you very soon.

      Movie Trivia:  Billy Kay who plays one of the band members was the baby in the movie 3 Men And A Baby.  

      Wednesday, September 21, 2011

      Two Lead Singers Are Better Than One

      The Jayhawks @ The Greene Space


      Two lead singers, singing each song simultaneously is a rarity in music.  The first groups that come to mind were duos in the 1960’s.  Do duos count?  Chad and Jeremy and Peter and Gordon.  The Smothers Brothers also sang together, but took solos.  Squeeze has a few songs that Glen and Chris took leads together such as Take Me I’m Yours.  I don’t remember ever seeing a whole show where two lead singers sang every song in the set. 

      Monday night’s Jayhawks performance at the Greene Space had me mesmerized.  Gary Louris and Mark Olson sounded like one.  It wasn’t that they weren’t harmonizing or singing different notes at times, while singing the same lyrics.  It just struck me that they sounded like a single unit.  The drummer, Tim O’Reagan and keyboard player, Karen Grotberg both contributed background vocals. Bassist Marc Perlman did not. 

      The intimate show was recorded for a future broadcast for Soundcheck airing on Sept 30th.  They opened the show with She Walks in So Many Ways.  I’ve been hearing the track on WEHM and love it.  It’s from the new album Mockingbird Time which is out this week.  Jayhawks and Mockingbirds are a good combo.  The album is the first full-length studio album featuring Gary and Mark (founding members of the group) since the wonderful 1995 release, Tomorrow the Green Grass. The duo wrote all the songs on the album. 

      When asked about the writing process, Gary said it was just the two of them.  Band members add to the recording, but the two are the writers.  Both Gary and Mark said they still write a whole album with a theme, the way they always have.  Mockingbird follows a biographical journey of the band and their lives.  They still spend time on sequencing, even in this age of pick and choose tracks. 

      Closer To Your Side brought thoughts of those duos: Peter and Gordon and Chad and Jeremy. The writing is more mature, but it follows in the tradition of great hooks and melodies.

      Mark played acoustic guitar and Gary electric.  Both have a great sound to their playing.  The night would not have been complete without the “hit” (or nuggets as Gary referred to their more familiar songs) Blue.  It’s a classic.  One of my favorite covers of all time is their version of Bad Time.  They did not perform it, which was to be expected in 50 minute set.

      It’s great to have Mark, Gary and their songwriting back.

      Of Note:
      Rolling Stone is streaming the new record.  

      Sunday, September 18, 2011

      Major Labels Still Using Payola The Same Old Way

      TechDirt alerted me to a post by the former president of Rykodisc, George Howard on TuneCore's blog.  As George points out, radio is the last stronghold for the major labels, meaning it's the last place they have some "control".   Getting most records on the radio involves lots of money, hiring "consultants" and being a part of the good old boys network, which still exists and has not been cracked in over 50 years.

      In my experience the route to getting a song played on radio has not changed in many years.  It started in the late 80's and was in full swing by the 90's.  George explains the process:

      Getting a song “added” to a station’s playlist to get a certain number of plays per week involves a rather byzantine process that brings in various parties, called independent promoters (“indies”).  These “indies” are first paid by the label.  It’s important to note that the money the indies receive isn’t necessarily compensation paid directly to them for getting Program Directors to get a song played.  Rather, they work more like an intermediary to pass the label’s money to the radio station. These indies, with the money paid to them from the labels, pay the radio station money for various listener give-aways, bumper stickers and so on. To top it off,  these very same indies are often also paid a second time by the stations themselves as a consultant to advise the stations on what songs they should play.

      This is essentially why very few indie artists are heard on any format other than college radio (there are consultants for that format also).  They have a better chance of being struck by lightening than hearing themselves on Top 40 radio.  The majors have the most money and are tied in to the good old boys network.  If indies have the money, they don't belong to the network.

      What George didn't touch on was the cost to the artists.  All this promotion money/payola is recoupable by the artist.  It goes to their bottom line.  It explains why Vertical Horizon had a big hit with Everything You Want and got paid nothing in royalties from their record label.    When I was working with the band, the album had sold about 1.4 million units and the band hadn't seen a penny in royalties.  The flip side of this is you are so happy a label has gotten behind you and is pushing you, that you ignore it as the spread sheet numbers keeps adding up.  It did make them a profitable touring band and the songwriters got nice publishing checks.   As an artist you weigh the outcome.



      Things are much different now than 15 years ago.  There are other ways to be heard than on the radio.  The good news for artists is they have access to all of them. 

      Wednesday, September 14, 2011

      A Sensible Musician

      After reading the NY Times article on Nick Lowe, I'm beginning to believe he's one of a small breed: The Sensible Musician.  He embraces his age (early 60's).  He had a stroke of luck by having his song (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace Love and Understanding covered on the Body Guard soundtrack.  The royalties allowed him to make music the way he wanted.  He didn't have to play the game.  He was financially sound.

      Nick's latest The Old Magic came out yesterday.   The cover sports a woman who resembles Karen Carpenter. 









      On the heels of Doris Day having a top 10 album hit in the UK this past week, my friend suggested Doris and Nick should record an album and call it Sense and Sensibility.  I think she's on to something. 

      For your ears: 
      Nick guest DJ's on All Songs Considered.

      Tuesday, September 06, 2011

      Happy Birthday Freddie!

      Today would have been Freddie Mercury's 65th birthday.  The Google Doodle honors him.





      I was lucky to see Queen at Nassau Coliseum during their Night At The Opera tour. He will always be one of the most charismatic front persons in music.  He was a great songwriter, singer and performer.  My friend Adrienne adored him. What's not to love?

      Monday, August 29, 2011

      Whose Convenience?

      Why don't they just call it what it is?  It's a fee to purchase a ticket.  It's not convenient for me to spend an additional $2.95 per ticket.  WNYC's The Green Space is not the first venue to label it a "convenience charge". 

      I just purchased two tickets to see the Jayhawks at the Green Space, which I'm excited about.  I haven't been there. I haven't see the Jayhawks in years.  I don't mind a $3 fee. It's definitely within reason, but I hate it being disguised.  Tell me what it is. 

      That being said, there are still tickets available for the Sept 19th show and the "ticket fee" of $20 includes a glass of wine or beer:  very civil. 

      Tuesday, August 23, 2011

      Two Great Songwriting Duos Lose A Partner

      Both Nick Ashford and Jerry Leiber passed away.  Both were part of two of the most successful songwriting duos of all time.

      Nick along his wife Valerie Simpson had their own hit with Solid (As A Rock), but penned the following for other singers:

      Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing
      Ain't No Mountain High Enough (seeing a pattern here?)
      I'm Every Woman



      Jerry Leiber was one half of Leiber Stoller.  A few of the acts they wrote for were Elvis Presley, The Coasters, Ben E King and The Searchers.

      Songs included:
      Jailhouse Rock
      Hound Dog
      Love Potion No. 9
      Stand By Me
      Is That All There Is?






      Monday, August 15, 2011

      News Radio Kills the Radio Star

      One of the last music format radio stations in New York has gone news.  101.9 went FM News over the weekend. The new call letters are WEMP-FM.  The NY Times reports it's a breezier version of the news. 

      Passion At The Work Place

      When there is excitement and passion in the workplace, people want to be there participating.  Eileen Gittins recognizes this.  She founded Blurb.  The company that started out as a self-publishing startup for mainly artists making their own art books.

      It has grown because
      1. They pay attention to details.
      2. Give the customer the quality they expect.
      3. Maybe this is the most important, as Gittins says "I just get energized by ideas and by people who are committed wholeheartedly to whatever it is they’re doing."  She says this goes for not only her employees but her customers as well.

      I remember the days (that makes me sound old) when it was exciting to walk down the halls of a record company.  There was music everywhere. Posters hung on the walls.  Boxed vinyl was stacked all over the place creating a labyrinth in the offices.  Laminates hung on lanyards from bulletin boards.  People would accost me to listen to the latest  not-yet-released songs from Paul Westerberg.  It was fun, exciting and there was passion everywhere.

      Fast forward to a story I remember hearing from Sony Music.  When Howard Stringer landed there in the late 90's, it was rumored that he asked Donnie Inner to turn down his music as it was too loud.  Can you imagine running a record company and being told to turn down the sole reason for the company:  music?  The corporate heads sucked out the passion.

      Mashable has an interview with Gittens, which is worth the read.  She talks about growing her company.  The original business model:  Could we make money as a business on a book of one? Meaning if somebody made a book, and they only ever ordered one copy, could we have a viable business? And the reason why that was so important was that’s the opposite of traditional book publishing and creating apps. 

      She's focused, smart and passionate.




      Saturday, August 13, 2011

      Cherry Pie Singer Found Dead


      Warrant's lead singer and writer of their hit Cherry Pie, Jani Lane was found dead in a Woodland Hills, California hotel room on Thursday.   According to the article in the New York Times, his manager said the death was alcohol related.  He was 47 years old. 

      An interesting fact the article also pointed out:
      Mr. Lane was born John Kennedy Oswald on Feb. 1, 1964 in Akron, Ohio. (His parents named him after President John F. Kennedy, undeterred by the fact that they shared the last name of the suspect in the assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald.)


      Wednesday, August 03, 2011

      Use Their Music Without Permission, blink-182 Is Rewarding You

      It's part of a promotion for AT and T.  What a fun idea.  To promote blink-182's first single in 8 years, they searched YouTube.  Any video that used blink-182's music without permission was given consideration.  They took clips from the selected videos and made one for the single, Up All Night. They are calling it the fan montage.  It's a lot of fun. 

      Embrace your fans.  How exciting is it for a fan to see themselves in a "real" blink-182 video? 

      Monday, August 01, 2011

      Happy Birthday MTV

      MTV turned 30 today and it's quite a different channel than it was in the 80's. 

      Friday, July 29, 2011

      Dueling Journey's

      A strange thing happened on morning TV.

      Good Morning America presented Tiffany and Debbie Gibson.  From the tight shots of the audience, I don't think there was a large amount of people there.  It was an interesting booking choice.  Both looked like they were enjoying themselves and Tiffany had a surprisingly strong voice. 


      Flip to the Today Show and Journey is performing.  Neal Schon and Ross Valory are founding members.  From there, the band has had a revolving door of players.  Steve Perry joined in 1977 as lead singer and the hits came.  He left in the late 1990's.  Current front man Arnel Pineda was plucked from his YouTube performances in 2007.  Schon, Perry and current member Jonathan Cain wrote "Don't Stop Believin'". 

      Journey to no one's surprise performs "Believin;".  The song is finished and I switch over to GMA.  Tiffany and Gibson are singing "Believin'".  That's two performances in one morning.  I thought Steve Perry has to be on CBS.  He was not.

      Tuesday, July 26, 2011

      Dan Peek Founding Member of America, RIP

      America started out as a trio.  I loved this band when I was in high school. One of older girls at school was a ticket scalper and I was able to get front row seats to see America. Eric Carmen opened the show.  Love him also.  If I remember correctly my friends Linda and Adrienne (sisters and twins) got the seats for Eric and part of America's set and then I switched seats for the rest of the show.  I saw them twice at the Nassau Coliseum.

      Dan Peek, who was my favorite, died this week. As of now they have not named the cause of death.  He provided the high harmony and lead guitar for the trio as well as singing lead on their hit "Lonely People."


      Dan left the band in 1977.  The road and living a rock star life became too much for him. He became a born again Christian. 

      The other founding band members Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley has this to say on America's website:

      "I am so sorry to learn of Dan’s passing. Dan, along with Gerry and myself, formed the band “America” as teenagers after being great friends in high school during the late 60’s. It was a joyous time for the three of us, full of excitement and laughter. We created lasting music together and experienced a life that we could never have imagined. Dan was an equal and integral part of that early history, and I have never forgotten the good times we spent making that music and learning about life together. Although we eventually went our separate ways, his contributions to the music of “America” have always been present and will last forever. This news brings great sadness. My sincere condolences go out to his wife, Catherine, and the entire Peek family. May Dan rest in peace, and his memory be cherished forever." -Dewey Bunnell

      "I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Dans passing. He was a dear friend for many years. Dan and his music will live on in the great songs he shared with us all. My sincere condolences go out to Catherine and the entire Peek family. May he rest in peace...."
      -Gerry Beckley


      In what must be a bittersweet moment for the band, their record Back Pages, which is an album of covers (Beach Boys, Fountains of Wayne) is released today.

      America is a big part of my musical tapestry.  I love their melodies and harmonies.  I loved their song from the film Music and Lyrics.  I always wondered what their lyrics were about.   Part of the fun was trying to figure out why we "shouldn't give up until we reach for the silver cup and ride that highway in the sky."    Now it all makes sense.

      Monday, July 25, 2011

      Cut The Middle Man

      Fred Wilson pointed to a blog post by Mark Suster, who is also a VC.  The post is a warning not to ceed too much control to the middle, whether it be a lawyer, PR person or your banker.  You are the one who should be pitching the deal/story.  You should be negotiating or setting the terms of the deal you want. 

      How true is this for the musician?  No one should know the music better than the musician themselves.  I've heard many a musician claim that they are misunderstood.  More times than not it was because they had someone else lay the groundwork for them.

      I'm not saying that musicians shouldn't hire people to do PR, manage them, etc.  In most cases it's more than necessary to have these people on your team. It's important that everyone is one on the same mission with the same message. The musician is the one who needs to make sure that is the case.  Don't lay back and let the chips fall where they may.  Don't think that just because you pay these people they're doing your work.  As Mark points out, they have many other clients and sometimes their long term goals are not the same as yours.  Make sure that they are.  Pay attention.  Take the time to looks at contracts. 

      Perfect example of this came out last week when Arnold Schwarzenegger asked the courts to not grant his ex-wife Maria Shriver spousal support.  He also asked that attorney fees and legal costs be jointly paid. Now according to TMZ:  sources said that although he signed the divorce docs he never read them, partly because he was dealing with a family medical crisis -- Christopher's boogie boarding accident ... and partly because he relied on his lawyer.  He is going to refile amended papers today. 

      Perfect example of why you don't rely on the middle.  This of course could be an excuse by the ex-Governor to cover up his audacious first filing after he once again, got slammed in the media.

      Make sure you are the one driving your ship.

      Saturday, July 23, 2011

      Amy Winehouse RIP

      Fellow musicians mourn the loss of Amy Winehouse:

      Tony Bennett said in a statement to Spinner, "Amy Winehouse was an artist of immense proportions and I am deeply saddened to learn of her tragic passing. She was an extraordinary musician with a rare intuition as a vocalist and I am truly devastated that her exceptional talent has come to such an early end.
      "She was a lovely and intelligent person and when we recorded together she gave a soulful and extraordinary performance. I was honored to have the opportunity to sing with her. It had been my sincere hope that she would be able to overcome the issues she was battling and I send my deepest sympathy to her father Mitchell, her entire family and all of those who loved her."

      Mark Ronson, who produced Back to Black, said: "She was my musical soul mate and like a sister to me. This is one of the saddest days of my life."

      Ron Wood said, "It's a very sad loss of a very good friend I spent many great times with."

      She led a life akin to Sid and Nancy. Her death is currently being classified as "unexplained" by London police.  Amy recently tried to complete a 12-leg tour and as famously shown on YouTube, was booed off the stage in  Belgrade.  She canceled shows in Istanbul and Athens with the rest of the tour to follow.   Amy's last public appearance was Wednesday as she joined goddaughter Dionne Bromfield on stage during the iTunes festival.

      With Dionne Bromfield on Wednesday Night
      According to the Guardian The Metropolitan police said: "Police were called by London Ambulance Service to an address in Camden Square shortly before 16.05hrs following reports of a woman found deceased. On arrival officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene."

      Her father was set to play the Blue Note in New York and returned to London.  She was a talented musician.  She brought excitement back to music.  She'll be remembered for that.  She was 27 years old, which is the same age that Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin all left this world.

      Tuesday, July 19, 2011

      Cats On 45, Literally

      Having a dance party?  You may want to think about hiring these three cuties to provide the music.  They seem to know their way around the turntables.



      Mashable pointed me to this video.

      Friday, July 15, 2011

      John Mayer On The Pitfalls of Social Networking

      The Berklee College of Music welcomed John Mayer (he attended Berklee for a short time), who gave the students a lot to ponder.  The Berkleeblog goes into great detail about his visit with the students. 

      John Mayer was the king of Twitter for a time.  He had millions of followers, my husband being one of them.  It was most interesting when he was talking about working in the studio and on his music.  Other times he got into trouble, but not as much as he did for his Playboy interview.

      He stopped using Twitter and explained why.

      The tweets are getting shorter, but the songs are still 4 minutes long. You’re coming up with 140-character zingers, and the song is still 4 minutes long…I realized about a year ago that I couldn’t have a complete thought anymore. And I was a tweetaholic. I had four million twitter followers, and I was always writing on it. And I stopped using twitter as an outlet and I started using twitter as the instrument to riff on, and it started to make my mind smaller and smaller and smaller. And I couldn’t write a song.

      Interesting analysis which makes sense.  He cut out all distractions while making his recent record. When the recording day was over, he went home and there he could do whatever he wanted, but not during the work day.

      Solid advice not only for musicians:
      • Good music (substitute your area of work) is its own promotion.
      • Manage the temptation of publishing yourself.
      • Anybody who tells you to have a fall back plan are people who had a fallback plan, didn’t follow their dreams, and don’t want you to either.
      • Anybody who’s made it will tell you, you can make it. Anyone who hasn’t made it will tell you, you can’t.
      Read the whole article.  It's an interesting take from someone who's been there and done it all.

      Wednesday, July 13, 2011

      The Man Who Gave Us The Brady Bunch & Gilligan's Island

      If you see the name Sherwood Schwartz you probably think,  how do I know him?  His name was embedded in my brain from watching the  closing  credits of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island.  He was the creator of the two iconic 60's/70's shows. 

      Sherwood passed away yesterday at age 94.

      He started writing for Bob Hope's radio show and continued to write for radio until he moved to television.   According to the LA Times, He made his move to television in 1952, spending two years writing for Joan Davis' situation comedy "I Married Joan." In addition to "The Red Skelton Show," Schwartz also wrote for the sitcom "My Favorite Martian" in the early 1960s.

      In 1965 Schwartz read that 1/3 of American households included at least one child from a previous marriage.  This was the inspiration for The Brady Bunch, which took him more than three years to sell.
      I remember being excited every Friday night to watch new episodes of The Brady Bunch followed by The Partridge Family, The Odd Couple, Room 222 and Love, American Style.  If I got punished, I was not allowed to watch the Brady Bunch. This was before VCRs, DVRs and On Demand.  This was torture. 



      Both The Bradys and Gilligan's Island were about family at their core.  Here were different people being thrown together in a created situation.  The Bradys were a combination of Carol and Mike's kids combined by a marriage.  The castaways were expecting to be with each other for three hours.  Why Thurston Howell III didn't have his own boat is a bit of a mystery as well as how Ginger was able to take all those clothes changes with her on a three hour tour.  Needless to say, these groups had their differences (as needed in all good sitcoms), but they truly cared for each other and looked out for one another.

      In a classic Gilligan reference, the Happy Days gang is sitting around the TV (Happy Days was a spin off from Love American Style) and Mrs Cunningham declares (I'm paraphrasing) "If the professor can build a movie studio, why can't he get them off the island?"  Good question. As many times as I've seen Gilligan's Island originally and in reruns, I don't recall ever seeing an episode where they got rescued.  I have a strange feeling years later there was a TV movie that handled this.

      Sherwood wrote the lyrics to the themes to both those shows.  Back then all you had to do was watch the opening and listen to the theme song to get the premise of the show.  It was brilliant TV and I thank Sherwood for it.



      Of note: Depending on what year the show was broadcast, the Professor and Maryann might be dissed in the theme song. They were at one point referred to as "and the rest."

      Tuesday, July 12, 2011

      Julia Nunes: DIY Musician and CNN Darling

      CNN loves Julia Nunes.  A year ago they profiled her YouTube success.


      This week they focused on her Kickstarter success.




      By using Kickstarter, she's getting her fans to finance her new album.  It looks like the fund drive has  unofficially ended.  Her Kickstarter page indicates that her goal was $15,000.  She raised $77,888 from 1685 backers.  Nice work. 

      There were different offerings available depending on how much money was pledged.  You can get the album download before it comes out or you could have her perform in your living room. 

      It's all about a musician and her music connecting with the people. She has done that. 

      Thursday, July 07, 2011

      Music Sales Are Up After 7 Year Decline. Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Are Hatched.

       Nielsen Soundscan data is repoting that U.S. music sales are up for the first half of 2011. These numbers are through the week ending July 3.  Album sales were up almost 1%.

      According to TechCrunch: 155.5 million albums were sold in the U.S. in the first six months of 2011, compared to the 153.9 million albums sold at this time last year, resulting in that slim 1 percent hike. Of course, when one includes single-track downloads (generally speaking, 10 songs are the equivalent of an album) the number of albums sold comes to 221.5 million, resulting in a 3.6 percent rise. 

      These numbers are not exactly a breakthrough.  I don't think the record labels will be doing a dance yet considering Adele is the number one record and she sold just over 2 million copies. 


      It's going to take a few more reporting periods to see if the trend continues. 

      Thursday, June 30, 2011

      Oh How The Mighty Have Fallen

      I never liked MySpace even when everyone said you HAD to have a MySpace page.  It was ugly.  After they let users personalize their page, it got worse.  Half the time the music player worked.  It was a good way to hear a musician's offering, when it did work.  For awhile it was the big game in town.  How quickly things change.

      I was a consultant on a project that was geared towards high school kids. I worked with Scott Gerber, who was a student at NYU at that time.  He showed me his Facebook acccount.  It was only open to college students then.  He told me this was the future.  Lately people are writing Facebook's obituary.  The latest cry is that Tumblr is taking over Facebook.

      MySpace was sold to ad network Specific Media for $35 million.  Newscorp paid $580 million for it in 2005.  Now there's a write off.

      Facebook will be launching their music offering.  Not quite sure what that will mean.  About 85% of the people in my circle are on Facebook and are active users.  I've seen people post some really dumb things and I've seen it as a great way to keep up with my relatives in other parts of the county.  I'm not an active user.   I haven't used it to listen to music or keep up with my favorite artists.  It will be interesting to see where music and the social network go.

      Thursday, June 23, 2011

      Sound Bouncing Everywhere

      Rosanne Cash and John Leventhal Performing Seventh Avenue
      Last night's show, The Bottom Line Presents:  New York On My Mind, was moved from an outdoor show at Rockefeller Park to the Winter Garden at the World Financial Center (it rained), which was unfortunate.  It's a glass enclosed atrium with ceilings reaching to the sky.  Sound bounced everywhere.  Mojo Mancini was the house band.  Their dark (what other kind should there be?) arrangement of Summer In The City somehow cut through the acoustically challenged room.  I loved it.

      Performers included Bottom Line staples: Garland Jeffreys, Christine Lavin, Willie Nile and Loudon Wainwright III.  I only saw Rosanne Cash at the Bottom Line once (it was a wonderful songwriters in the round night with the very talented Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter).  She too was a part of the evening and fully played out the New York theme by performing her own Seventh Avenue with John Leventhal on guitar and brought the band out to sing The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).


      Pete Fornatale hosted and Vin Scelsa read Walt Whitman (inaudible in the atrium).  At any given time, there was at least one DJ from WNEW-FM at the Bottom Line.  

      My friend Sean and I left after Rosanne.  We had been there for over an hour at that point and couldn't deal with the cacophony. The show was intimate and should have been in an intimate venue.  Unfortunately the rain can't be stopped in NYC.

      Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      Happy Birthday Kris Kristofferson

      Some people just don't age (clarify:  they do not become old thinkers, rest on laurels or washed up), whether musically, physically or mentally.

      Kris Kristofferson is 75 today.

      Friday, June 17, 2011

      Friday Morning Music Wars

      Kenny Chesney wins.


      On Friday mornings I tune into the three network morning shows to see who's performing. 

      CBS is perpetually struggling to come remotely close to GMA or Today.  I think they hit rock bottom today.  It's not because the music they had was bad, it's just that Jennifer Hudson was on GMA last week!  They couldn't have a exclusive?  There is so much music out there.  Why not try something completely different?  Not much is expected of them so they can experiment.  Make a positive statement.   They message I'm getting is we're so low on the totem pole, we can only get guests that have already played the other  shows the week before.  Yikes. 

      Good Morning America had the Disney girl, Selena Gomez.  Makes sense.  ABC is part of the Disney World, she has a new movie and album out.  Lots of young girls in the audience with their parents. There's nothing new here.

      Kenny Chesney is a seasoned performer.  It showed in his Today performance.  He puts on a show. 

      Thursday, June 09, 2011

      The Obit Column

      I'm almost afraid to get the latest from Bob Lefsetz.  It seems like everyday someone new has gone to rock and roll heaven.    I wrote about Andrew Gold and Gil Scott-Heron.  Two behind-the-scene guys, without household names passed away and are worth mentioning.

      First Martin Rushent best know for producing the Human League and the ubiquitous Don't You Want Me?  He worked on so much music that was part of my collection: T. Rex, The Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, XTC, the Go-Go's, Generation X and Pete Shelley's first solo single Homosapien.
      Here's the Telegraph's obit



      Steve Popovich started the label Cleveland International.  Without him, there would be no Bat Out Of Hell.  He signed the Jacksons to Epic Records when they left Motown. He was instrumental in the careers of Cheap Trick and Ian Hunter. Here's the Plain Dealers obit.

      These are the people that mean so much to music and the music business.  You may never know their names, unless you are like me and read every word from every liner note, but they left an indelibile mark on your ears.

      Monday, June 06, 2011

      Thank You For Being A Friend

      There were many rituals, rites of passage, events whatever you want to call them at my high school.  One of these was ring day. It occurred when we were juniors and it was a ceremony to get your high school ring.  Buying a ring wasn't an option, you had to do it. I didn't want one, knowing full well I wouldn't wear it. I chose the cheaper silver version. I think I was the only one in my class that didn't have the gold ring. It cracked in the back about a month after I got it.  So much for the Jostens' ring.

      Girls (there was no male students at my high school) would perform songs. If I remember correctly we wore the rings on a red ribbon around our necks and when the ribbon was cut, we were presented with our rings.  It took place in the school auditorium.

      Having learned to play the guitar, I joined forces with two others to perform. We really wanted to sing Hall and Oates' It's A Laugh, but we couldn't get that song choice approved, so we went with Thank You For Being a Friend.  It was all about having fun and turning the song into a clap-a-roo.  Anything to shake up an otherwise, slow moving, predictable event.

      Thank You eventually became the theme song for The Golden Girls.  For my birthday this year, my  high school friend Jill, gave me a card that played the song.  It's been in my DNA since it came out.

      Andrew Gold, the writer and singer of that song died after a battle with cancer.  I seem to expect musicians to live forever (think Keith Richards), so it always comes as a surprise.  Andrew's other hit was Lonely Boy.  I always liked the sweet Never Let Her Slip Away.  He knew how to write a hook.  He was a multi-instrumentalist who played on, wrote and/or arranged songs for Linda Ronstadt, Carly Simon, Ringo Starr, Celine Dion and James Taylor.



      What I didn't know about Andrew was his musical lineage.  His mother is Marni Nixon who was the singing voice for Natalie Wood in West Side Story and Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady.  His father is Ernest Gold, the Oscar winning film composer.