Sunday, May 31, 2009

Minuets, Sonatas and Politics in the West Bank


June 1, 2009
Minuets, Sonatas and Politics in the West Bank

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The shy Palestinian teenager raised her flute and dispatched the courtly melodies and cascading runs of an 18th-century concerto with surprising self-assurance.

Over just three years of study the flute had become a near obsession for Dalia Moukarker, 16. She was practicing so hard — sometimes retreating to a bathroom in her crowded apartment, sometimes skipping meals — that her wrist filled with pain, limiting her to two hours a day. But in a classroom here recently, the discomfort was nowhere to be seen. For she had earned an almost surreal reward: a master class with her hero, Emmanuel Pahud, a major international soloist.

Mr. Pahud circled, studying her intently. Then he took her instrument and sent out stunning roulades of notes to demonstrate. Dalia gaped in wonder and gave a soft laugh of amazement. The flute, she said later, “takes me to another world that is far away from here, a more beautiful world. Because it is not a beautiful place here. It is an ugly place.”

Dalia is one of a new generation of Palestinians who have been swept up in a rising tide of interest in Western classical music in the last several years here in the Palestinian territories, but especially the West Bank. The sounds of trills and arpeggios, Bach minuets and Beethoven sonatas, are rising up amid the economic malaise and restrictions of the Israeli occupation.

But as with many endeavors in this part of the world, the pursuit of classical music is fraught with tensions and obstacles, including a desire not to be seen as working with Israelis.

A small effort to teach violin at a refugee camp in Jenin, north of Ramallah, was banned in March when camp authorities heard that the students had played for Holocaust survivors in Israel, saying the concert “served enemy interests.” A lack of detailed knowledge about the Holocaust is widespread among Palestinians, who view that chapter of history as a catalyst to the creation of Israel and thus a source of their suffering. But the music teacher, Wafaa Younis, an Israeli Arab, scoffed at the complaint. “I don’t think it should be a problem,” she said.

In another incident a music school in Jenin was heavily damaged by arson.

Because of financial hardships, most students rely on donated instruments and a rotating cast of European teachers. Since traditional Palestinian culture frowns on the mingling of the sexes, parents are sometimes reluctant to send their children to music schools, administrators say.

And politics are never far away. Some Palestinian teachers couch the instruction in propaganda, calling it a means of “resisting the occupation.” Across the border in Israel, which has a mother lode of classical music talent, there is little awareness that Palestinians are pursuing the same artistic tradition. That is perhaps no surprise in a conflict where mutual ignorance is prodigious.

“We cannot perceive them as people who have their own cultural lives,” said Noam Ben-Zeev, a music critic for the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz.

Despite the opposition of some, many Palestinians see the study of Western classical music — part of a broader cultural revival in the West Bank — as a source of hope, a way to connect to the outer world from a hemmed-in and controlled existence, particularly at a time when hope for a Palestinian state seems ever more distant.

“Deep inside, it’s to demonstrate we are alive, that we deserve to be alive and have our culture,” said George Diek, a partly self-taught Palestinian oboe teacher in Bethlehem.

The presence of classical music is still tiny among a West Bank population of 2.5 million. But concerts pop up more and more. A Baroque festival took place across the West Bank in December. A piano competition for Palestinians attracted 50 entrants to East Jerusalem in January.

Sounding Jerusalem, a chamber music festival, will take place in the area for the fourth year this month. Music schools are booming and sending students off to study in Europe and the United States. An influx of money from foreign governments, local foundations and the Palestinian Authority has fueled the music revival.

Even in Gaza, pummeled by a 22-day war with Israel that ended in January, Palestinian authorities are trying to reopen a small music school that was heavily damaged.

One of the major players in the nurturing of classical music is the Barenboim-Said Foundation, established by Daniel Barenboim, the Argentine-born Israeli conductor and pianist, who is a forceful advocate for Palestinian rights, and Edward W. Said, the Palestinian-American intellectual, who died in 2003. It opened a center in Ramallah in 2006 to provide lessons here and coaching in nearby towns and villages.

Dalia is one of the foundation’s students. She lives in Beit Jala, a village close to Bethlehem, where she shares a room with a sister, Roudy, 11, a budding clarinetist. She is the eldest of five children in a Christian family. Her father, Sulieman, is a security guard at Bethlehem University, and the family survives on money sent by two of her father’s expatiate brothers.

Posters of the French-Swiss Mr. Pahud are taped to Dalia’s bedroom window, which overlooks Bethlehem and a tumble of white houses. She can also see a wall that is part of the lengthy barrier built by Israel in response to attacks. Hundreds of Israelis were killed in suicide bombings emanating from the area. Dalia said that she felt “in prison” because of travel restrictions. “Every time we look at this wall, we feel suffocated,” she added.

Friends at first made fun of her flute playing, saying music was not a serious endeavor. Some teachers supported her. “But the most important thing was the feeling the music gives me,” she said. “You feel as if you are flying.” She now hopes to gain a foundation scholarship to study in France, she said, and dreams of being a conductor.

At the master class, Mr. Pahud told her to lighten her hold on the flute to release tension. “Gentle fingers, small fingers,” he said. Later, in an interview, he pronounced her a real talent.

Mr. Pahud, 39, was personally invited here by Mr. Barenboim. In addition to its own activities, the Barenboim-Said Foundation also assists a group called Al Kamandjati (the Violinist), founded in October 2002 by Ramzi Aburedwan, a Palestinian who grew up in a refugee camp and studied viola in France. Having started with 90 students, the program now has 400, Mr. Aburedwan said. Among its students is Sondos Samarn, 12. Her teacher, Benjamin Payen, 28, of France, said she was one of the most talented violin students in Ramallah.

Al Kamandjati’s Jenin branch was the school struck by arson. No one claimed responsibility, and suspicion fell on an array of forces: Islamists (although religious authorities are said to have given their blessing to the school), social conservatives, people jealous of the school’s success, collaborators with Israel.

Classes were immediately moved to the garden, and the small stone school reopened within two weeks. On a day in late April children came bearing ouds, flutes and violins. The smell of smoke lingered despite the whitewashed walls. Iyad Staiti, the director, asked visitors to stay inside, to avoid drawing attention from the school’s enemies. Across town Al Kamandjati is renovating a building that will be a much larger home.

Just how complicated things can become is made obvious by the third classical music presence, the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music. Affiliated with Birzeit University, it began in the mid-1990s and has more than 650 students and a curriculum of theory, ear training, music history and performance, as well as an Arabic music program. It has ambitions to sponsor a Palestine national orchestra. The conservatory is putting up a modern glass-and-concrete building in Bethlehem about twice the size of its quarters there.

Though they share Mr. Said’s name, the conservatory and the Barenboim-Said Foundation no longer work together. A joint youth orchestra fell apart.

Suhail Khoury, the conservatory’s general director, said Barenboim-Said was siphoning off the best musicians for the Arab-Israeli orchestra it sponsors, the West-Eastern Divan. He accused Mr. Barenboim of effectively supporting the Israeli occupation by not using the orchestra to oppose Israeli policies.

“The fact on the ground is that Israel occupies Palestine,” he said. “If one guy’s foot is on the neck of another, you can’t sing together.”

Mr. Barenboim said that the orchestra was “not a political project” and does not endorse the Israeli occupation. Music, Mr. Barenboim said, is the best weapon the Palestinians have “against violence and ugliness.”

“If you go to a violin lesson for an hour,” he added, “in that hour you are not in contact with violence or with the occupation.”

Near Ramallah, hours after teaching Dalia’s master class, Mr. Pahud played a solo concert at a boys’ school. The call to prayer from a nearby mosque mingled with the notes coming from his gleaming golden flute.

Dalia sat in the third row, beside her main teacher, Ilia Karadjov, 40, from Germany. The two bent their heads over the score of each piece. At the end Dalia presented Mr. Pahud with a bouquet.

She said her flute was like a friend she could not live without. But it is borrowed, from an amateur musician in her village. Dalia will give it back when she gets her own and goes off to a university.

“This way,” she said, “I can give an opportunity for someone else.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

American Teens Text Nearly 80 messages per day

American teenagers sent and received an average of 2,272 text messages per month in the fourth quarter of 2008, according to the Nielsen Company — almost 80 messages a day, more than double the average of a year earlier.


Popcrunch's ten most disturbing books list

Popcrunch's ten most disturbing books list.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

André Michelle's Addictive Tone Matrix

A simple graphic interface to create your own sound loops. amazing, fun, beautiful: check it out.

New Orleans Guitarist Snooks Eaglin (1936-2009)


I have been waiting for a good obit for Snooks. As always, Offbeat comes through:

Snooks Eaglin 1936-2009

By Jeff Hannusch

The generation that made the defining records in New Orleans’ rhythm and blues became a little smaller when Snooks Eaglin died February 18 from cardiac arrest. He was 73. Eaglin is remembered for his ability to mimic almost any song after a cursory listen and his unique guitar style. His fretting hand often completed chords with his thumb, or he used it to play bass runs that complimented his rhythm and lead playing. Instead of picks, he flailed at the guitar strings with his thumb and fingers. It often appeared that his fingers were bent backwards at a 90 degree angle.

“He can play a job with just a drummer and make it sound like a four-piece group,” said the late Earl King in 1987. “I’ve seen Snooks play for years, but I still shake my head every time he picks up the guitar.”

Fird Eaglin, Jr. was born January 21, 1936. He was rendered blind at the age of 19 months, after an emergency operation to remove a brain tumor. Being blind though didn’t keep Eaglin out of mischief as a child.

“That’s how I got the name Snooks,” said Eaglin, in 1987. “There was a radio program with a character named Baby Snooks. Baby Snooks was always getting into trouble. They started calling me Snooks, because I was always getting into something.”

Eaglin was five when his father brought home an inexpensive Harmony guitar. He learned to play and at age 11 won a talent contest at WNOE for his rendition of the, “Twelfth Street Rag.” At 15, he purchased his first electric guitar, a Twintone, and a small amplifier. He briefly attended the Louisiana School for the Blind in Scotlandville, but withdrew to play music professionally.

In the early 1950s, Eaglin hung out at Victor Augustine’s curio shop on Dryades Street, where many musicians rehearsed. Augustine, a part time songwriter with his own label, got Eaglin to record one of his songs, “Jesus Will Fix It.” Around this time, Eaglin was approached by Sugar Boy Crawford who was looking for a guitarist to replace Irving Bannister—who was drafted—in the Shaw-weez. This led to the historic 1953 Checker session where Eaglin provided the slashing rhythm guitar on the Carnival classic, “Jock-a-Mo.”

When Bannister returned and reclaimed his job, Eaglin joined the Flamingos, a group that patterned themselves after the popular Hawkettes. The band featured Allen Toussaint on piano.

“Snooks was phenomenal even then,” said Toussaint in 1987. “People in the audience would call out a popular song and Snooks would play them note-for-note. The rest of us just stumbled on behind.”

In 1958, folklorist Dr. Harry Oster and Richard Allen recorded 57 Eaglin performances that appeared on several labels. Allen and Oster had heard about Eaglin from his neighbors and recorded him playing traditional blues, pop songs, folk and rock ’n’ roll. The liner notes on the original albums portrayed Eaglin as a troubadour who busked for spare change in the French Quarter. That didn’t sit well with Eaglin.

“I never played in the streets once in my life,” said Eaglin. “I was making plenty money playing in nightclubs.”

Eaglin tried to persuade Oster to record the Flamingos, but he wasn’t interested, and the group disbanded when Shirley and Lee raided it for a tour. In 1960, Imperial’s Dave Bartholomew signed Eaglin and produced several uninspired singles under the name “Ford” Eaglin. “I thought those records could have come out better,” said Eaglin. “Dave had his way, and I had mine. But by him being the producer, he won most of the arguments.”

After Imperial folded, he cut one other single on the Fun label before moving to Donaldsonville, Louisiana in the mid-1960s to play clubs along Bayou Lafourche. In 1970, he moved to St. Rose and began playing regularly at the Playboy Club in the French Quarter. It was there that he encountered a young Quint Davis, who was in the early stages of organizing the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Davis paired Eaglin with the newly rediscovered Professor Longhair, a coupling which benefited both musicians and produced some mind-boggling recordings.

The following year, Eaglin made an LP for Sam Charters’ “Legacy of the Blues” series that appeared in Europe, and he recorded two legendary albums with the Wild Magnolias in 1974. But after that, it was more than a decade before he returned to the studio.

“The money wasn’t right,” said Eaglin, “I had several offers, but I want my money up front. I don’t like royalties.”

Eventually, Eaglin struck up a relationship with Hammond Scott, who won Eaglin’s trust. In 1986, they recorded Baby, You Can Get Your Gun for Scott’s Black Top label. Several more Eaglin/Black Top albums appeared, which exposed Eaglin to a wider audience. Tours of Europe and virtually every important American blues festival would follow.

In recent years, Eaglin’s appearances were confined to the Jazz Fest and the Mid-City Lanes’ Rock ’n’ Bowl, where he regularly packed the house. A well-attended visitation for Eaglin was held at the Howlin’ Wolf on February 27 which included musical tributes by Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint and Deacon John. A traditional jazz funeral followed. Eaglin was laid to rest in Providence Park Cemetery in Jefferson Parish. His passing is the end of a chapter in New Orleans’ music history.

Published May 2009, OffBeat Louisiana Music & Culture Magazine, Volume 22, No. 5.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Offbeat interview with James "Sugar Boy" Crawford

The indispensable New Orleans Magazine OFFBEAT interviews James "Sugar Boy" Crawford, most famous for the song "Jock-a-mo," later to be known as "Iko Iko." I believe this is from 2002.


BackTalk with James “Sugar Boy” Crawford

By Jeff Hannusch

Whether you call it “Jock-A-Mo” or Chock-A-Mo” or “Iko-Iko,” it’s one of the greatest of all New Orleans Carnival songs. James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, who recorded the original version in 1953, rarely performs these days, preferring to bask in the glow of his incandescent grandson Davell. “The only place I sing is in church now,” Sugar Boy confesses.

“Jock-A-Mo,” one of a select handful of truly memorable Carnival songs, has had multiple personalities over the decades. Originally recorded in 1953 by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, it was turned into an international hit over a decade later by a trio of New Orleans teenagers, the Dixie Cups, as “Iko Iko.” Since then, the song has been covered by Willie DeVille, Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, the Bell Stars [their version was in the Academy Award-winning movie Rain Man] and Cyndi Lauper, although none have approached the magnificence of Sugar Boy’s original.

An early shaper of New Orleans rhythm and blues, Sugar Boy was a master of the B-flat ballad, as demonstrated on “I Don’t Know What I’ll Do,” “Early Sunday Morning,” and “No One To Love Me.” Sugar Boy maintained a tremendous regional following for over a decade, and his popularity extended well beyond “Jock-A-Mo.”

Born October 12, 1934, he attained the “Sugar Boy” moniker because he was a sweet kid. He learned to play piano at a neighbor’s house, and at Booker T. Washington High School, played the trombone and formed a band. The group caught a break in 1952, when Doctor Daddy-O invited them to perform on his Saturday morning radio show. The group didn’t have a name until Daddy-O dubbed them, “The Chapaka Shawee” (Creole for “We Aren’t Raccoons”), the title of an instrumental the group played. The popularity from their radio appearance led to a regular work at the Shadowland and the Pentagon clubs, as well as an Aladdin Records contract. Under the guise of “The Sha-Wez,” the Aladdin record was a flop, but the group’s itinerary steadily grew. The following year, Chess Records president Leonard Chess was in town promoting some new releases when he heard Sugar Boy and the group rehearse at WMRY. In exchange for five dollars, Chess taped an audition demo and left town. A month later, disc jockey Ernie the Whip called the group and said he had a surprise for them. When the band gathered at WMRY, Ernie presented them with a 78 r.p.m. recording of “I Don’t Know What I’ll Do,” credited to “Sugar Boy and his Cane Cutters.” [Chess couldn’t use the name Sha-Wez as the group was still under contract to Aladdin.] Chess released the primitive audition and it did well locally. Sugar Boy then signed a contract and Chess directed him to the J&M Studio for more recordings. With guitarist Snooks Eaglin in support, Crawford waxed “Jock-A-Mo,” the song he will forever be known for.

Sugar Boy had one other release on Checker—“I Bowed On My Knees”—before moving to Baton Rouge, where he and the Cane Cutters were installed as the house band at the Carousel Club. Sugar Boy returned to New Orleans in 1956, and signed with Imperial Records where he waxed several memorable releases including “Morning Star,” “You Gave Me Love,” and the brilliant “She’s Gotta Wobble (When She Walks).” After his Imperial tenure, Sugar Boy had singles on Montel and Ace before his career, and nearly his life, came to an abrupt halt.

Sugar Boy and his band were on their way to a job in North Louisiana in 1963, when state troopers pulled him over for the then-crime of being a black man in a flashy brand-new automobile. One of Louisiana’s “finest” took exception to Sugar Boy’s attitude and proceeded to pistol-whip him on the side of the road. Sugar Boy spent three weeks in the hospital and was incapacitated for two years. He attempted a comeback, but after 1969, he confined his singing to church. He then went to trade school and learned to become a building engineer. For several years, Sugar Boy maintained the Masonic building on St. Charles Avenue (where OffBeat’s previous office was located). Luckily for Sugar Boy, over the years the royalties generated from “Jock-A-Mo” continued to accumulate, as the song was covered by more and more artists. Today, Sugar Boy owns his own company—C&C Locksmiths—where he spends his time practicing his trade and following the career of his talented grandson, Davell. OffBeat recently chatted with Sugar Boy Crawford after he duplicated a few keys for us.

Why were so many of your early records in the key of B-flat?

That wasn’t a comfortable key for me to sing in, but it was a heavy key for ballads. Back then we were a bunch of kids and just learning to play. We weren’t very advanced musically, so we could only play certain arrangements in certain keys like B-flat. Later on, I recorded in E, G and E-flat—those were easier keys to sing in.

Who did you listen to back then?

I used to love Roscoe Gordon’s “Saddled the Cow and Milked the Horse.” That was my favorite record.

Where in New Orleans did you grow up?

I lived at 1309 La Salle Street. We called the neighborhood “The Bucket of Blood,” because there were a lot of barrooms around there. It seemed like every Saturday night there was a cutting or shooting there. It was also a neighborhood where there were a lot of Indian tribes.

Where was The Battlefield?

That was an area bordered by Claiborne, Galvez, Tulane and Perdido Streets. That’s where the Indians met on Mardi Gras day. I wasn’t too keen on going down there, because when they met, there would be a lot of cutting and shooting going on.

Did you ever mask as an Indian?

Oh no, I never did go out for that kind of thing. You might not believe it because of “Jock-A-Mo,” but I was afraid of the Indians.

How did you construct “Jock-A-Mo?”

It came from two Indian chants that I put music to. “Iko Iko” was like a victory chant that the Indians would shout. “Jock-A-Mo” was a chant that was called when the Indians went into battle. I just put them together and made a song out of them. Really it was just like “Lawdy Miss Clawdy.” That was a phrase everybody in New Orleans used. Lloyd Price just added music to it and it became a hit. I was just trying to write a catchy song. Leonard Chess [president of Chess & Checker Records, then Sugar Boy’s label] contacted me and arranged for me to go to Cosimo’s [J & M Studio] and record it. That was in [November] 1953.

Listeners wonder what “Jock-A-Mo” means. Some music scholars say it translates in Mardi Gras Indian lingo as “Kiss my ass,” and I’ve read where some think Jock-A-Mo was a court jester. What does it mean?

I really don’t know (laughs). It wasn’t my idea to call the song “Jock-A-Mo”—Leonard Chess did that. If you listen to the song, I’m singing C-H-O-C-K, as in Chockamo. Not J-O-C-K, as in Jock-A-Mo. When Leonard listened to the session in Chicago, he thought I said “Jock-A-Mo.” When I saw the record for the first time I said, “That’s not the title, it’s ‘Chock-A-Mo’.”

How did Snooks wind up playing on it?

I think it was as a favor to [disc jockey] Dr. Daddy-O. Daddy-O knew a lot musicians and he knew Leonard Chess. Snooks never was in my band. The day I recorded “Jock-A-Mo,” there were about four or five other guys recording too including Snooks and Slim Sanders [their sides weren’t issued until 1976]. We didn’t have much time to record, but we got “Jock-A-Mo” on the third take.

How did the record do when it was released?

It did pretty good around Mardi Gras [in 1954] but after that, people forgot about it. I did go to New York though because I remember when I got on stage there they had to stop serving alcohol because I was underage. Nobody paid attention to the song though for over ten years.

Were there any other popular Carnival songs before “Jock-A-Mo?”

Professor Longhair’s “Go To the Mardi Gras,” but it wasn’t the version you hear now [the 1959 Ron recording]. He’d recorded it [on Atlantic and Star Talent] long before I started playing music. After “Jock-A-Mo” came “Mardi Gras Mambo,” “Carnival Time,” “Big Chief” and “Second Line,” so I guess I had one of the first Carnival records.

Did “Jock-A-Mo” get you more bookings?

At the time my band was already working every night of the week so we couldn’t handle any more work.

Along with Fats Domino, weren’t you one of the first New Orleans R&B artists to develop a white audience.

At one point, 99 percent of our work was at white clubs. That started from playing for the fraternities at LSU. Somebody from the Carousel Club heard us and wanted to hire us. That was a white club across the river from Baton Rouge. We stayed there two years. The Carousel attracted a sophisticated crowd. At the beginning of the night we played “I’ll Walk Alone,” “Unchained Melody” and “Danny Boy,” but once the crowd got a little rowdy as the night went on, we could loosen up and play the harder stuff.

After the Carousel you came back to New Orleans and recorded for Imperial?

Dave Bartholomew heard us and said he’d record me once my Chess contract was up. The only thing was that Imperial was a company that only released your records in the area where you lived to see how they’d do. If they didn’t do very well, they wouldn’t release your records nationally. My [Imperial] records stayed local, so I only did a few for them.

Then you did “Danny Boy” for Montel?

Sam Montalbano [Montel’s owner] heard me do the song at the Carousel and asked me to record it. He recorded the background music in Baton Rouge—he had some guys from LSU play on it [likely John Fred & the Playboys]. He sent the tape to Cosimo’s and I overdubbed the vocals. Then I went with Johnny Vincent [Ace Records]. Mac Rebennack had something to do with that. He wrote “Have A Little Mercy” which I did.

Who were the Sugar Lumps?

They were Linda and Dianne DeGrue, Irene Johnson, and Mary Kelly. They were singing with Wardell Quezergue as the Little Raelettes when I hired them [in 1960]. The first place we worked was the Safari on Chef Highway. When we got on the bandstand, “Batman” [saxophonist LeRoy Rankin] announced us as “Sugar Boy & the Sugar Lumps.” They made a record for Don Robey [Peacock] while I was in the hospital.

Considering the circumstances of your injury I’ve always been amazed that you’ve never shown any bitterness about what happened.

I’ll tell you what, you’re going to be at a disadvantage if you spend your life dwelling on something like that. I’ve just tried to forget it and write it off as one of the mysteries of life.

You did make a brief comeback though.

Yeah, but I never felt like I had recuperated to the point where I was before I was injured, so I looked for other things to do with my life.

Do you still get requests to perform?

I do but that’s pretty much out of the question. The only place I sing is in church now.

I have seen you perform with Davell at the Jazz Festival though and you were great.

Well Davell talked me into that. I did it because he’s my grandson.

Are you close to Davell and give him advice?

Oh we talk all the time. But I can’t give him any advice other than “Stay out of trouble.” I never played as well as he can, so what can’t I tell him about music? He could play better than I ever could at the age of 12.

Were you surprised when you heard the Dixie Cups cover “Jock-A-Mo” [as “Iko Iko”]?

Not so much that they covered it, but I was by how well it did. It went all over the world and was Number One in a lot of places [“Iko Iko” reached Number 20 on the Billboard pop chart in 1965]. At the time, Joe Jones [the Dixie Cups’ producer] said he was going to cover one of my songs and I’d get royalties, but that never happened.

You get writer’s royalties though don’t you?

Eventually—after many years and court battles. Chess [who placed “Jock-A-Mo” with BMI] sold his publishing to the Goodman brothers. The Goodmans sued for publishing royalties and they’re responsible for me finally getting my just dues. But truthfully, I don’t even know if I really am getting my just dues. I just figure 50 percent of something is better than 100 of nothing.

Do you run into many people from your days as an entertainer?

All the time. The other day I was going to the drug store and ran into Aaron Neville. He was taking his dog to the vet and we talked a long time.

When you’re doing a service call, do people ever associate you with your music?

Sometimes. The other day I was changing a lock at a lady’s house and she found out who I was. She wanted me to sing while I was trying to work. That made me laugh.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Danger Mouse album to be released as a blank CD-R


The Tech Blog

New Danger Mouse album to be released as CD-R -- blank CD-R

Mon May 18, 2009 11:36AM EDT

Nowhere in the world will you find more creativity than that of musicians who are taking old music, mixing it together, and coming up with something new. Danger Mouse took the mash-up mainstream with his watershed The Grey Album, the audacious 2004 blend of The Beatles' The White Album and Jay-Z's The Black Album, and since then the man has exploded into superstardom.

The problem of course is that The Grey Album was totally illegal, and record label EMI (which owns the rights to The White Album) went to outrageous lengths to prevent its distribution. Those efforts failed, and the bootleg was copied far and wide and eventually earned it serious mainstream coverage (even lowest-common-denominator media rag Entertainment Weekly reviewed the album, giving it an A), despite the shaky legal footing the album sat on.

Now, Danger Mouse -- after hitting the mainstream with his Gnarls Barkley act, among other projects -- is back with a new album, one which is set to be just as controversial. Citing his ongoing feud with EMI over the prior album, Danger Mouse's new Dark Night of the Soul will be released and sold exclusively as -- get this -- a blank CD-R. It will be up to the buyer to find the music through other means and burn it onto the CD.

Per a statement from the Mouse:

Danger Mouse's new project Dark Night Of The Soul consists of an album length piece of music by Danger Mouse, Sparklehorse and a host of guest vocalists, along with a collection of original David Lynch photography inspired by and based on the music. The photographs, which provide a visual narrative for the music, are compiled in a limited edition, hand numbered 100+ page book which will now come with a blank, recordable CD-R. All copies will be clearly labeled: 'For Legal Reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.'

Now I'm not entirely clear what this album has to do with EMI specifically -- does it borrow from new EMI tracks or is this just about the old Grey Album kerfuffle? -- but regardless the idea is pretty spectacular. Fans get what sounds like a really impressive piece of art and are supporting the artists financially by purchasing the album, but since there's nothing infringing on the album, the record industry can't legally prevent its sale. I have visions of EMI executives with steam billowing out of their ears over this one.

And don't forget: You can always copy it to audio tape!

The End of the Music Album as The Organizing Principle

A great April post by Gang Of Four's Dave Allen on Pampelmoose:


We live in an era of MP3 players, streaming internet radio, web apps - not to mention the iTunes music application and its ability to shuffle your entire digital music collection - now the cloud and almost-mobile ubiquity, the list goes on; in what part of digital music culture does an album-length piece of work now reside?

I’ll answer that question - I believe it has no place in a digital future.

The original organizing principle of music was of course hand written, composed. It then moved along to sheet music and with that came revenue from sales to the musical public and by so doing helped to move revenue income beyond just ticket sales to the opera or orchestra performances. This wasn’t enough though. It was as if music was demanding to be organized and soon enough inventors jumped in to the fray and began organizing music recording and playback - at first on tin foil.

“From the earliest phonographs in 1877, courtesy of Mr. Thomas A. Edison, the cylinder was the preferred geometric form for a sound recording. The first records were made on strips of tinfoil, the predecessor of household aluminum foil, wrapped around a 4-inch diameter drum. The drum was hand-cranked at about 60 revolutions per minute (RPM) and the phonographic apparatus made sound impressions upon the foil. The expected lifetime of a foil recording was short because after a few playbacks the sound impressions were either worn down or the foil had ripped.” [Source:]

And then along came the wax cylinder which turned out to be too fragile for popular use. Music lovers had to wait until 1930 which was when RCA Victor launched the first commercially available vinyl long-playing record, marketed as “Program Transcription” discs. These revolutionary discs were designed for playback at 33â…“ rpm and pressed on a 30 cm diameter flexible plastic disc. [Source: Wikipedia]

Technically then, we can say that 1930 was the year that the organizing principle for the length of a popular music album was implemented, and with the advent of that organizing principle it is worth noting that musical artists had no control over the length of time their masterpiece would run; they were at the mercy of contemporary technology. Album length, roughly 35 minutes over two sides of vinyl, was simply a decision made by technologists who did not consult artists. [The gatefold sleeve containing double and triple albums became the norm later for rock bands with more to say - for better or worse.]

If musicians and bands were not part of this decision in the first place then why would they complain of what modern technology now brings - their craft has been unchained from early technological limitations and they now have endless amounts of time and bandwidth to spread their creative message far and wide; along with unfettered artistic control.


Music fans are no longer patiently waiting for their favorite bands to deliver new music according to the old customary cycle - album, press release, video, radio, tour. No, the fan base has to be regularly and consistently engaged. Some Ideas:

* First, communicate openly and ask your fans what they want from you
* Listen to what they have to say. Really listen
* Provide unique content such as early demos of new songs
* Never under estimate the power of a free MP3
* Forget completely the idea of an organizing principle. Invent a new one
* Use social media wisely. Twitter and Facebook Pages are best, MySpace is too cluttered
* Don’t push messages to your fans, have a two way interaction with them
* Invite them to share, join, support and build goodwill with you
* Scrap your web site and start a blog
* Remember to forget everything you know about the CD “business”
* Start to monetize the experience around your music
* Remember - the browser is the new iPod


Read the full post HERE at PAMPELMOOSE.

Why Music Matters by Richard Florida

Nice blog post on the Daily Dish:

Universal Music Group, the world's largest recorded music company, is once again trying to adapt to the new world of digital music. It's created a new venture named Vevo in partnership with Google, according to the Wall Street Journal. Vevo aims to generate increased advertising revenue from streaming music videos.

But the enormity of the creative destruction sweeping the industry goes far beyond the iPod killing off the CD. The Gang of Four's Dave Allen argues that we are seeing the "end of the album" - a construct initially created by the limitation of vinyl technology in 1930 - as the organizing principle of musical production. He sees this as potentially liberating for musicians - or those musicians that can adapt. Industry veteran Bob Lefsetz predicts a return to the pre-LP era, when artists constantly pumped out singles and toured.

Read the full post here at the original post.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Former NBA star/bassist Wayman Tisdale dies at age 44


Former NBA veteran Tisdale dies at age 44

Wherever Wayman Tisdale went, whatever he was doing, chances were he was smiling.

Tisdale was a three-time All-American at Oklahoma in the mid-1980s before playing a dozen years in the NBA and later becoming an accomplished jazz musician.

But those who knew Tisdale, who died Friday at a hospital in his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., recalled not only his professional gifts but a perpetually sunny outlook, even in the face of a two-year battle with cancer that took his life at 44.

"I don't know of any athlete at Oklahoma or any place else who was more loved by the fans who knew him than Wayman Tisdale," said Billy Tubbs, who coached Tisdale with the Sooners. "He was obviously, a great, great player, but Wayman as a person overshadowed that. He just lit up a room and was so positive."

Jeff Capel, the current Oklahoma coach, noted Tisdale's "incredible gift of making the people who came in contact with him feel incredibly special."

After three years at Oklahoma, Tisdale played in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns. The 6-foot-9 forward, with a soft left-handed touch on the court, averaged 15.3 points for his career. He was on the U.S. team that won the gold medal in the 1984 Olympics.

Gov. Brad Henry attended Oklahoma at the same time Tisdale did and later appointed him to the state's Tourism Commission.

"Oklahoma has lost one of its most beloved sons," Henry said. "Wayman Tisdale was a hero both on and off the basketball court. ... Even in the most challenging of times, he had a smile for people, and he had the rare ability to make everyone around him smile. He was one of the most inspirational people I have ever known."

State senators paused and prayed Friday morning after learning of his death.

Tisdale learned he had cancerous cyst below his right knee after breaking his leg in a fall at his home in Los Angeles on Feb. 8, 2007. He said then he was fortunate to have discovered the cancer early.

"Nothing can change me," Tisdale told The Associated Press last June. "You go through things. You don't change because things come in your life. You get better because things come in your life."

His leg was amputated last August and a prosthetic leg that he wore was crimson, one of Oklahoma's colors. He attended an Oklahoma City Thunder game April 7 and later that month was honored at the Greenwood Cultural Center in Tulsa. During the ceremony, he spoke about his cancer, saying "In my mind, I've beaten it."

He recently told Tulsa television station KTUL he had acute esophagitis, which prevented him from eating for about five weeks and led to significant weight loss. Among the causes of that condition are infections, medications, radiation therapy and systemic disease.

Last month, Tisdale was chosen for induction into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

He was the first freshman to be a first-team All-American since freshmen were allowed to play again in the 1971-72 season. He was also one of 10 three-time All-Americans. Patrick Ewing and Tisdale were the last to accomplish the feat, from 1983-85.

"On the court, he was an offensive machine that could score with the best of them," said Dallas Mavericks president Donnie Nelson, an assistant on Tisdale's Suns teams. "Off the court, he was grounded in faith and family."

Tisdale played on an Olympic team that sailed to the gold medal in Los Angeles. The squad was coached by Bob Knight and featured the likes of Ewing, Michael Jordan, Sam Perkins and Chris Mullin.

"Wayman was kind of a catalyst for people accepting roles," said C.M. Newton, the manager of the '84 team and now chairman of the NIT selection committee. "Michael was the leader of the team but Wayman was special in that way."

Perkins and Tisdale shared a love of music and became friends during the Olympics. Perkins later was the best man at Tisdale's wedding.

"That's a real friend who's got your back and would do just about anything for you," Perkins said. "That smile just gets you."

As a musician, Tisdale recorded eight albums. A bass guitarist who often wrote his own material, his most recent album, "Rebound," was inspired by his fight with cancer and included guest appearances by several artists, including saxophonist Dave Koz and country star and fellow Oklahoma native Toby Keith.

His "Way Up!" release debuted in July 2006 and spent four weeks as the No. 1 contemporary jazz album. His hits included "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," "Can't Hide Love" and "Don't Take Your Love Away."

"He was truly an inspiration to me, paving the way for an athlete like myself to pursue a passion for writing and performing music," said Bernie Williams, the former New York Yankees star turned jazz musician. "I had the honor and privilege of having Wayman perform on the title track of my new album, and was looking forward to collaborating with him again."

Tisdale averaged 25.6 points and 10.1 rebounds during his three seasons with the Sooners, earning Big Eight Conference player of the year each season.

He still holds Oklahoma's career records for points and rebounds. Tisdale also owns the school's single-game scoring mark -- 61 points against Texas-San Antonio as a sophomore -- and career marks for points per game, field goals and free throws made and attempts.

In 1997, Tisdale became the first Oklahoma player in any sport to have his jersey number retired. Two years ago, then-freshman Blake Griffin asked Tisdale for permission to wear No. 23, which Tisdale granted. Griffin went on to become the consensus national player of the year this past season as a sophomore.

"I spoke with him pretty frequently this past season and he helped me in ways he probably doesn't even know," Griffin said.

Tisdale is survived by his wife, Regina, and four children.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Travis Edmonson, Influential Folk Singer, Dies at 76


May 14, 2009
Travis Edmonson, Influential Folk Singer, Dies at 76

Travis Edmonson, who brought a Mexican flavor to the fertile San Francisco folk music scene of the 1950s and who, with the duo Bud and Travis, influenced Bay Area groups that lasted longer and became better known, died Saturday in Mesa, Ariz. He was 76.

The cause was heart failure, said Mike Bartlett, a friend and family spokesman. Mr. Edmonson had an aneurysm and a stroke in 1982 that curtailed his performing career and had been in declining health recently, Mr. Bartlett said.

A witty and mischievous man with an irrepressibly arch style of stage patter, Mr. Edmonson was a gifted natural singer, with a bell-clear, versatile tenor capable of romantic crooning, cowboy yodeling and folksy, up-tempo harmonizing. Along with comedians like Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl, and musicians like the Kingston Trio, Lou Gottlieb of the Limeliters and the Smothers Brothers, Mr. Edmonson was among those who made San Francisco generally and two nightclubs particularly (the hungry i and the Purple Onion) a rebellious center of Eisenhower-era hip culture.

With Mr. Gottlieb, he was a member of the Gateway Singers, a seminal quartet. In 1958, Mr. Edmonson and another guitarist and singer, Bud Dashiell, formed the duo Bud and Travis. Over the next seven years they recorded eight albums and played innumerable concerts and club dates, and their musical virtuosity and seemingly effortless comedic teamwork — not to mention their telegenic looks — earned them appearances on television variety shows and even comedy series like “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.”

In a tight-knit music scene, Bud and Travis shared stages, a gift for potent harmonizing and even individual songs with the Limeliters, the Kingston Trio and the Smothers Brothers; according to Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Edmonson claimed to have lived in the same house with Tom and Dick Smothers in San Francisco at one point, and to have been their landlord.

In performance, what distinguished Bud and Travis more than anything was Mr. Edmonson’s passion for mariachi and the other Mexican musical traditions that he had absorbed as a boy in Arizona. Many Latin numbers — “La Bamba,” for example — were part of the Bud and Travis repertory, and Mr. Edmonson’s own signature song, one that he considered his favorite piece of music, was “Malagueña Salerosa,” a folk lamentation with a tinge of both heartbreak and religious supplication.

“I idolized him,” Bob Shane of the original Kingston Trio said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “He had command of the stage better than anyone I’d ever seen. He had a wonderful feel for whatever music he was singing. And then, of course, he was this straight-looking white guy who sang these beautiful Mexican songs.”

Travis Jerome Edmonson was born on Sept. 23, 1932, in Long Beach, Calif., but he spent much of his childhood in the Arizona border town of Nogales, where his mother, Lillian, was a teacher, and his father, Everett, a social worker who also ran a grocery. Everyone in the family — Travis had three older brothers — played guitar, and he spent a good part of his young life in Mexican villages, chasing after the sources of the musical sounds that drifted across the border.

His parents sent him to high school in Tucson, and he later attended the University of Arizona there, studying anthropology (and also classical guitar, his first formal musical training). He never graduated, but he and a friend, Roger Smith — who would later star in the television series “77 Sunset Strip” and marry Ann-Margret — became locally famous for serenading college girls on behalf of themselves and classmates who would hire them for the purpose.

Mr. Edmonson served in the Army in the early 1950s and afterward began his career as a solo act in San Francisco before Mr. Gottlieb invited him to join the Gateway Singers. Playing a gig with them in Los Angeles, he ran into Mr. Dashiell, an Army buddy of his older brother Colin, and their partnership was born. It lasted for seven years, after which Mr. Edmonson continued to perform solo until his stroke in 1982. Mr. Dashiell died in 1989.

Married and divorced five times, he is survived by his companion, Rose Marie Heidrick; a son, Steven, who lives near San Francisco; five daughters: Tammy Edmonson of San Francisco, Elizabeth Edmonson of Las Vegas and Ellen Murphy, Erin Kissel and Linda Schneider, all of Tucson; and several grandchildren.

“We didn’t think of ourselves as folk singers; we were entertainers,” Mr. Shane said of the circle of San Francisco performers that he and Mr. Edmonson belonged to. “And all of those early people you could say were influenced by Bud and Travis. Of course you could also say Bud and Travis were influenced by them.”

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Finnish teacher unlocks music for special-needs students


Click to the original story for photos and sound samples.

Simplified, accessible music notation lets their talent, not their needs, take center stage.
By Stacy Teicher Khadaroo | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

Helsinki, Finland

Jamming on keyboards, bass guitar, and drums, four young men fill a basement room with harmony. The only unusual items here are the colorful squares, triangles, and circles up on a magnet board. The symbols are stand-ins for conventional musical notes – the keys that have unlocked music for the students here.

The Special Music Center Resonaari has a humble, cozy setting – a converted two-story home in Finland's capital. But for the 170 people with intellectual or developmental disabilities who take music classes here each week, it's a place where their talents, not their special needs, take center stage.

For music teacher Markku Kaikkonen, the director, it's also the nucleus of a "cultural revolution."

"Our pupils, many of them, have lived in the margin of society. But now, with the help of ... music education, they are coming closer and closer to the center of society," Mr. Kaikkonen says, leaning forward with excitement, his brown hair hanging loosely about his shoulders.

The effects spread far beyond the students, Kaikkonen says. They change attitudes among families, neighbors, and the audiences who see them perform.

Figurenotes, a system of notation and teaching, has been developed and tested over the past decade by Kaikkonen and codirector Kaarlo Uusitalo. Students learn to play by matching the symbols to keys on a piano or frets on a guitar. Colors indicate notes, shapes show the octave, and arrows show sharps and flats. It's a simple way to convey all the information in traditional notation.

The Figurenotes method has spread to Japan, Estonia, and Scotland.

"What they're teaching us is that people with learning disabilities are capable of doing so much more in terms of their musical ability than what we previously knew," says Brian Cope, artistic director of Drake Music Scotland, a charity that uses Figurenotes in both mainstream and special education.

Students often arrive with no concept of rhythm, melody, or other basics. Some can use only one finger to play. Others are very shy. It can take years to reach the point of performing in annual concerts, which draw hundreds. Kaikkonen and his teachers patiently rejoice in every step of progress.

"In the beginning, it's only colors and symbols, but then suddenly it starts to be music, and it's the miracle moment," Kaikkonen says. "When a person is playing for the first time in his life, and he understands, 'I played music!' ... I call it the big-smile effect." It kicks off a lifelong cycle of learning, he says.

When student Marko Koivu arrived for classes about 10 years ago, he had only two friends: his mother and a nurse. "He was a really passive boy," Kaikkonen recalls.

Before long, Marko was learning to play the keyboard. "His mother called to say, 'Marko is teaching me how to play chords. Are these real chords?' " Kaikkonen says. "It was a great moment ... when the son ... had knowledge about something that the mother didn't know anything about."

Marko started exploring bus routes to rehearsals, instead of relying on his free taxi card. He befriended some famous Finnish musicians, who joined him and other Reso­naari students onstage.

"Music is my life," he says. "When we have concerts, it is giving me a good feeling."

Kaikkonen studied music education and music therapy at Helsinki's prestigious Sibelius Academy long before good methods for teaching music to the disabled had been found. But as a teacher at a secondary school and as a music therapist at a mental hospital, he learned to turn chaos into order among students with behavioral problems. And two "master teachers" showed him how to bring out people's hidden talents.

"When working with special-needs people, Markku treats them with respect and humanity, with trust in their potential," writes Ulla Hairo-Lax in an e-mail interview. A music teacher and researcher in Helsinki, she has observed his work and credits him with "boundless 'innovativeness' " and a "hilarious sense of humor."

Kaikkonen joins Marko's band practice, tapping a plaid-slippered foot on a set of bongos on the floor, his hand tucked into a back pocket of his black jeans. Mr. Uusitalo leads the group as they play (and sing in Finnish) John Fogerty's zesty "Proud Mary."

Perhaps they'll perform it at the next concert. The Resonaari players' professionalism, and their ties to the well-known artists who perform with them, are central to Kaikkonen's "cultural revolution."

They challenge people's notions of who can be a musician, he says. "People are coming because the music is so good. For the audience, it is the moment when they start to think [about] the power of these people." Maybe they look a bit different, but what the audience finds isn't a needy person. It's a "person who is as talented as anybody."•

Photoshop Art Contest at Worth1000 is having a photoshop contest whereby entrees are to have a cartoon character inserted into traditional paintings. These two beauties by Miro and Whistler are my favorites hands down, but see them all HERE:

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Singers tell Congress: Money (That's What I Want)


Singers tell Congress: Money (That's What I Want)

By RYAN NAKASHIMA, AP Business Writer Ryan Nakashima, Ap Business Writer – Sun May 3, 1:18 pm ET

Jack Ely, the singer whose 1963 version of "Louie Louie" still makes the rounds on oldies radio, lives with his wife in a mobile home on a horse ranch in Oregon. Ely says they share $30,000 a year from her teacher's pension and his Social Security checks. They are paying down a mortgage.

So sometimes it bothers Ely, 65, when he hears his voice singing "Louie Louie" on the radio or in sports arenas, knowing he's not getting paid.

"It gets played twice a day by every oldies radio station everywhere in the world. And I get nothing," said Ely, who recorded the song with The Kingsmen before getting drafted by the Army and leaving the band. "I got one check for $5,000. That's all I ever saw from the sale of `Louie Louie.'"

Since the advent of radio in the 1920s, songwriters have made a little money every time their tunes are played on stations in most industrialized countries. The six children of "Louie Louie" songwriter Richard Berry today share more than $100,000 in royalties every year.

But performers like Ely don't get a dime.

A bill moving through Congress aims to change that. It would let performers and the recording labels get a share of the ad revenue that radio stations collect from playing their songs. This pool of royalties could be hundreds of millions a year — which would be crucial for the record industry, as compact disc sales plummet and digital song sales aren't making up the difference.

It could also unlock an estimated $70 million to $100 million per year that is collected by radio stations abroad for U.S. artists, but never paid out because U.S. stations don't pay foreign artists in return. France, for example, takes the U.S. artists' portion and puts it into French cultural funds.

There have been more than half a dozen attempts since the 1970s to enact a performers' royalty on Capitol Hill. All have faltered to a powerful radio station lobby headed by the National Association of Broadcasters. The association says performers and record labels are already compensated — they sell songs and concert tickets because of the radio airplay they get. The NAB says the long history of record labels paying disc jockeys for extra rotations helps prove the point.

This time, however, the music industry thinks it can win. In the last two decades, recording companies have secured royalties from other formats: Internet radio, satellite radio and music channels on cable TV services. Mitch Bainwol, the chairman of the Recording Industry Association of America, says he's prepared for a "multiyear" fight.

The bill has the support of the Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., and is set for final revisions this month before possibly being sent to the House floor for debate.

Radio stations say the renewed push couldn't have come at a worse time.

The recession has pushed ad revenue at radio stations down by double-digit percentages from a year ago, and thousands of jobs have been lost.

Randy Gravley, the co-owner of five small radio stations in northern Georgia, says he can't afford even the special rate of $5,000 per station per year allowed under the bill for stations with less than $1.25 million in annual revenue.

His 20 employees cover everything from high school basketball and football to the student of the week in the towns of Hiawassee, Jasper and Ellijay. Salespeople set up equipment in the field and some reporters double as live commentators at games.

Gravley says a $25,000 hit would mean one of three reporters would have to be let go or his stations would start to lose money. While more than half of his stations' air time is devoted to music — oldies, classic hits and southern gospel — he says can't afford to pay the performers who recorded the songs, at least not now.

"We're not trying to take away from anybody, but we're trying to stay in business," Gravley said.

He argues that unlike songwriters and their sales and collection agents, the publishers — whom his stations pay about $32,000 a year — performers can sell albums and go on tours to raise money. Without radio airplay, he said, performers would never have that ability at all.

It's unclear how much radio airplay entices listeners to buy music. But if the "payola" scandals from the 1950s to this decade are any indication, major recording labels have long valued radio airplay, and sometimes paid cash for it. Some regulators have considered such payments bribes, and the federal government in the 1960s forced radio stations to disclose when they are paid for song play. Several years ago, then-New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer forced three major labels into multimillion-dollar settlements for having independent promoters act as payola intermediaries.

Yet economists disagree on the promotional benefit of music on the radio.

The NAB commissioned a study by Rand Corp. economist James Dertouzos, who concluded last June that radio airplay helps boost music sales by $1.5 billion to $2.4 billion annually. NAB-made radio ad spots running now accuse the "fat cat" recording industry of "biting the hand that feeds him."

In its defense, the recording industry found its own expert, University of Texas economist Stan Liebowitz, who told the House Judiciary Committee in March that airplay may boost individual song sales, but doesn't increase music sales overall. "Is radio making the pie bigger or not? The evidence is that it's not," he said.

It's also unclear how much performers might make if the bill passes. Many lawmakers have pressed the radio and recording industries to negotiate. But NAB president David Rehr has said he would rather "cut my throat than negotiate on this," according to trade magazine Radio & Records. It's a comment he has never denied making.

Without negotiations, if the bill passes, the final royalty rate would likely be set by the federal Copyright Royalty Board.

As a benchmark for what performers might demand, two of the three U.S. bodies that collect fees for songwriters and publishers took in a combined $473 million from radio stations in fiscal 2008. (The third group is private.) Experts peg the total sum at about 3 percent of music U.S. radio station revenues.

The bill prevents songwriting and publishing royalties from being reduced to make room for the new fees. On a given song, half the new fee would go to the copyright holder of the master recording, typically the record label; 45 percent would go to featured performers; and 5 percent would go to background performers and backup singers.

The recording labels have already made inroads. In the late 1990s, they won the right to collect royalties for performers when songs are played on satellite, Internet and cable radio. A body called SoundExchange collected $151 million for performers from those formats in 2008.

"All the other platforms in the U.S. make payments," said Bainwol, the head of the Recording Industry Association. Traditional radio, he said, "sticks out like a sore thumb."


Ely met songwriter Berry for the first time in 1983, at a 63-hour "Louie Louie" marathon at a college radio station in California where more than 800 versions of the song were played or performed.

Ely borrowed money to make the trip. Berry, having long before sold the song rights for $750 to buy a wedding ring, was on welfare, said Eric Predoehl, a student who helped organize the gathering and is now making a documentary about "Louie Louie." Ely later urged Berry to regain his rights to the music, and he did so, with the help of Chuck Rubin, the president of Artist Rights Enforcement Corp.

Later that decade, the publishing rights sold for millions of dollars, of which Berry got half, Rubin said. Berry died in 1997, but his heirs will continue to collect the royalties until the copyright expires 75 years after his death.

Although he died in the house where he grew up, in south central Los Angeles, Berry managed to cash in. He bought a sport utility vehicle, took trips, helped pay off his mother's mortgage and sent money to his children. He took his family out for lavish dinners.

Ely doesn't begrudge Berry's wealth, but rues what might have been for himself. He admits to squandering the money he made in the short period he toured after his version of "Louie Louie" became a hit. He said a performer's royalty would have made a big difference.

"I would have had a nice bank account when I got out of the Army," he said. "As it was I ended up being a musician playing in bars for 35 years."

What is your sampling epiphany? (Massive Attack samples)

UK Guardian Music Blog

Check out the original post HERE for lots of embedded hyperlinks and media examples of the samples discussed.

What is your sampling epiphany?

An unofficial compilation of tracks sampled by Massive Attack showcases the group's aesthetic through the songs that informed it – and provides fans with the thrill of discovering the originals

Posted by Simon Reynolds Thursday 26 February 2009 16.43 GMT

Sampling is weird. We're so used to it, it's been such a commonplace part of pop music for so long (since the late 1980s), that it's easy to lose sight of what a peculiar thing it is. Although sampling is often compared with collage, I think there's a profound difference which relates to the added dimension of time that music inhabits. With recorded music, however much it's doctored and enhanced through studio techniques (multitracking, overdubs etc), there generally remains a kernel of life inside it; what you are hearing is a sequence of human actions happening in real-time. (I'm talking about played music here, as opposed to programmed music. But it is overwhelmingly the case that played music is what gets sampled – music of the 70s particularly, when analogue recording quality was at its peak but drum machines and sequencers had yet to replace tight rhythm sections.) To take a chunk of living time – which is what a sample is – and chain it into a loop isn't just appropriation, it's a form of enslavement. But to pluck several different segments of live playing from separate space-time contexts and force them into unholy congress with each other … that's sorcery.

When sampling first made waves in the mid-80s, most journalistic discussions focused on the legal aspect, typically framing the samplers in punk-like terms as renegade, naughty, larcenous, irreverent. Likewise, academic studies of sampling in pop over the ensuing decades have largely concerned themselves with copyright and corporate power, typically siding with "the streets" versus the entertainment-media complex. These are perennially interesting issues, for sure, especially when given a postcolonial inflection: not just pirating and bootlegging, but the fact that non-western or pre-capitalist folk cultures typically have much looser, more collective notions of authorship and originality. (A friend of mine who's both a DJ and a law student is currently doing dissertation research in Jamaica looking at the "fluid" – a euphemism – notion of copyright in dancehall culture.) None the less, there appears to other crucial dimensions to sampling – its aesthetics and its philosophical implications – that are relatively neglected. (I could be wrong here, of course, and if you know of really penetrating and provocative work in this area, please point me in its direction!)

What got me thinking about all this was the arrival several weeks ago of an advance CD called Protected: Massive Samples. It's the second in a series started by Rapster Records compiling the original tracks that a well-known group has sampled, in this case Massive Attack. The first volume, released a year ago, was Discovered: A Collection of Daft Funk Samples, which showcased raw material for all those hot hits by Daft Punk. These compilations have not been done as a collaboration with, or even with the blessing of, the group in question; the titles and packaging take great care not to use either band's full name at any point, presumably for legal reasons. And I wonder if Daft Punk or Massive Attack are happy about having their sources so clearly signposted.

The sample-source album isn't a brand new idea. When Kanye West was first blowing up circa The College Drop-out, I recall a vinyl bootleg LP in circulation that collated the tunes he'd sampled, such as Chaka Khan's Through the Fire – the basis for his Through the Wire (although "virtual entirety of" would be nearer the mark, give or take the drums and West's rhymes). I expect there have been other such unofficial compilations. I didn't buy the Kanye Samples record because I was reluctant to interfere with my enjoyment of his album. Similarly I was slightly nervous about playing Protected: Massive Samples the first time. Would I ever be able to listen to Blue Lines the same way again? Would knowing the extent of Massive's debts diminish my admiration, sabotage my sense of awe at their achievement?

This dilemma is unique to pop music of the post-sampling era. There's no counterpart in other artforms that I can think of. It's not like looking at the sketches for a painting, or the rushes for a movie, or even like seeing the original movie from which remake is based. It's sort of like a scenario where you venerate a particular painting and then get presented with tubes of the specific colors of oil paint the artist used on that work. Except not really, because the groove of Billy Cobham's Stratus simply is – in a direct and exact and supremely concrete way – the groove of Massive's Safe from Harm. So we're back to that idea of the sample as a living thing, a portion of time and energy wrested away from its original owners and put to service. Idea for a feature: track down the players on that Cobham session and find out what they really think and feel about being used in this manner. I assume Cobham, as composer of the tune, has at least been remunerated (he gets a credit on Safe from Harm) but quite possibly not the other players (Jan Hammer, Lee Sklar, Tommy Bolin). It's not just about the money, though, it's about having one's performance taken out of its context, severed from its original artistic intent. For what is interesting about comparing Stratus with Safe from Harm is how much all the stuff that clearly mattered to Cobham and crew (the noodly, improvised jazziness – there's a long abstract intro, for instance) gets jettisoned as Massive Attack, being typical B-boys, focus on the driving bass-and-drums groove. Indeed, they focus on the most linear, straightforward segment of the rhythm track, which gets looser and wilder at other points in the song.

I'd heard Stratus before and immediately spotted the Massive connection, so its appearance on Protected didn't surprise me. But I was slightly startled by how extensively Daydreaming – another killer tune from Blue Lines – is based on Mambo by Wally Badarou, a session keyboardist associated with Island Records's Compass Point studios in Nassau, who came to moderate renown in the 80s through his work with Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Grace Jones, Black Uhuru and others. Indeed, it makes me want to hunt down Badarou's solo albums to see what other gems are secreted there.

The overall effect of Protected: Massive Samples is less "gotcha" sample-spotting, though, and more like listening to one of those Back to Mine albums: it's a delectably consistent and mood-unified collection of plushly produced, mostly downtempo soul and reggae. Lowrell's Mellow Mellow – the gorgeous source for Blue Lines's Lately – defines the vibe precisely. Getting stoned to these tunes – as you can be sure the Massive boys did on many a Bristol afternoon in the 80s – must have been like lolling around on a gigantic sofa made of marshmallow. Protected also resembles the Under the Influence series: like a photographic negative of a Best Of compilation, it showcases the group's aesthetic through the listening that informed it.

Some self-consciously arty or iconoclastic exponents of sampling recall the appropriation artists of late 70s New York, figures like Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman, whose work involved gambits like copying famous pictures and appending your own signature, or rephotographing photographs (sometimes famous shots, sometimes iconic adverts) and then cropping or otherwise reframing them. That seems quite close to what the early Justified Ancients of Mu Mu did, or avant-pranksters like Plunderphonics and Negativland, where the whole point is sampling a group or song that is universally known and freighted with associations.

But the approach of Massive Attack, Daft Punk and their peers was not based on exploiting familiarity; only the real cratedigging headz ever knew the sources they were drawing on. If the Rapster series continues there's no shortage of potential candidates for this treatment: DJ Shadow, RZA, Chemical Brothers, J Dilla. Most likely the crate-diggers types have got there first and already pulled together unofficial sample-spotting compilations for these artists, and many others besides, for circulation on the web. Similarly, there's a whole site dedicated to identifying samples used in jungle, but for the moment it contents itself with simply citing the source, as opposed to offering MP3s or embedded YouTube audio streams.

Talking of jungle, I'm reminded of how sampling has created a unique and unprecedented form of pop rapture: the epiphany of suddenly, accidentally encountering the source track for a favourite tune. This happens all the time if you are a fan of jungle and hardcore rave. I vividly remember the thrill that ambushed me during a James Bond movie when suddenly I heard a portentous orchestral theme that I'd loved for years as a key element of Acen's 1992 rave classic Trip to the Moon. (The source in question: John Barry's Space March, from his score for You Only Live Twice, soundtracking the moment when a Soviet capsule in orbit is swallowed up by a mysterious shark-like spacecraft).

But probably my all-time favourite sample epiphany relates to a mystery tune, also from 1992, by an artist who trafficked under the period-evocative moniker E. I taped this track off a pirate radio show and have no idea if it ever saw proper release or what its title is. But it's a real lost classic, propelled by the most boombastic breakbeat loop and featuring a comic little vocal hook that coarsely roars "Oi!!!! I've got a little black disc wiv me tune on it!". But there's also an incongruously plangent guitar part and a slow fade where the groove drops away leaving just an aching guitar solo and a totally blissed raver gasping "I... I... I … luvvit!!!". Several years ago, idly channel surfing, I landed midway through The Wall and realised with a shock of delight that the lead guitar on E's tune was actually David Gilmour. But it was only a few months back, once again chancing upon Alan Parker's overripe farrago, that I realised the whole "little black disc" bit was a parody of Nobody Home, specifically the bit that goes "Oi! I've got a little black book with me poems in!"

The French philosopher Paul Virilio argued that every new technology comes complete with its own unique catastrophe; the invention of the aeroplane, for instance, was also the invention of the plane crash. The corollary of the sample epiphany is what I call the "sample stain". But that's a subject I'll return to in a future blogpost.

Kutiman mixes YouTube

Kutiman's virtuosic series of mash-ups of YouTube video clips into "new" music is available HERE.

UCSD's new Conrad Prebys Music Center

UPDATE: I added the photo after visiting this building. As with many things UCSD, they have some extraordinary resources and people and extraordinarily ugly architecture. I cannot believe somebody thought that a world class recital hall venue built in the 21st century should look like this, but then again, it was probably commissioned to match the prison-block concrete warmth of the rest of the campus' buildings. Oh, and the "boldly-colored" smaller theater mentioned below is a generous way of saying they picked hot neon orange for the seats.

SD Union-Tribune

In the zone
Performers will find a perfect place to play at UCSD's new Conrad Prebys Music Center
By Will Bowen

2:00 a.m. May 3, 2009

Hungarian-born graduate student Katalin Lukacs was one of the first musicians to play in the state-of-the-art small concert hall in the new $53 million Conrad Prebys Music Center at UCSD. Lukacs sat down at the grand piano, carefully opened her Liszt score, and began to play. She played for one hour straight, as if mesmerized – transfixed and transported to other dimensions by the rapturous quality of the sound in the hall.

Soon the public will have the same opportunity to experience an acoustical environment that UCSD hopes, in the words of Rand Steiger, the music department chair, “will develop a reputation as being one of the best small concert halls in the world.”

The 400-seat Prebys Concert Hall, which opens Friday, is the centerpiece of the new Conrad Prebys Music Center. It's named after the Point Loma developer and piano aficionado, who contributed $6 million to ensure that the music center's construction, which was facing possible shutdown due to state budget cuts, could finally be completed.

“So far as I am aware, there is no other dedicated music facility – for presentation, exploration and learning – anywhere in the world that can match the CPMC facilities,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and UCSD faculty member Roger Reynolds.

The Prebys Concert Hall is the brainchild of renowned acoustician Cyril Harris, who teamed up with his associate of 23 years, architect Mark Reddington of LMN Architects, based in Seattle, to produce a masterwork of acoustic design.

This is the last project and perhaps the crowning achievement of an illustrious career for the retiring Harris, who in June will turn 92. Harris, a legend in acoustics circles, has won numerous awards (including a 1997 Gold Medal from the Acoustical Society of America) and has authored many books (including the 1950 “Acoustical Designing in Architecture,” the bible of acoustical design).

Harris has been involved in the construction of more than 100 halls, among them the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego and the highly acclaimed Benaroya Hall in Seattle, upon which the UCSD concert hall is based. Some experts believe that with each project, Harris has gotten a little better. And his last one may be his best.Harris' assessment: “There is only one hall like it in the world.”

Architect Reddington listens to the needs of his clients rather than coming at them with an agenda. He disavows any stylistic labels, claims no heroes of architecture or buildings he trembles before. Rather, he is a man interested in building projects that serve people while minimally impacting the environment.

Reddington and Harris' design “demonstrates a mastery of basic principles, and elevates them by pushing their limits,” Steiger said. “This is possible only with the freedom for, respect for, even expectation for innovation. In a way, the concert hall is a physical manifestation of what this department has always stood for.”

The music center was constructed on the eastern part of the UCSD campus near the intersection of Russell Lane and Gilman Drive in what is known as the Arts District. Like its twin, the Theatre District, built around La Jolla Playhouse, it is part of UCSD's Neighborhoods Plan, meant to bring the feeling of community, warmth and a sense of belonging to a campus once known for its social alienation.

The new facility replaced the old single-story CRCA (Center for Research in Computing and the Arts) building. CRCA was fondly loved for its moldy carpets and at night its furry scampering creatures but also for great music, experimental performance and art shows, and the best receptions on campus. Many miss it.

The music center is a three--story, rectilinear, gray-colored modernist structure measuring some 46,880 square feet. It is mainly constructed of concrete and has open areas on the various levels offering expansive views. The basic theme is one of openness, transparency and access. There is much attention to detail with an artistic flair.

In addition to the concert hall, the center's first floor contains a 150-seat Experimental Theatre for multimedia presentations, a more conventional, boldly colored 150-seat theater/lecture hall, offices and a large orchestra practice room. The back wing is almost entirely devoted to the percussion department.

The second level houses a computer lab, recording studios, a conference room, faculty studios, and classrooms. On the third level, there are numerous practice rooms, faculty offices and a unique, artistically inspiring chamber music practice room.

Some may wonder if in these difficult economic times, with so many state cutbacks to education, if it was a bit extravagant for the university to spend so much money on a new music building.

Music department chair Steiger points out the building had been in the planning stages for more than 20 years, long before the budget crisis. The music department, which has 178 undergrad music majors and 85 graduate students, has been spread out in five locations. Its Mandeville headquarters, built in 1974, is hopelessly out of date and acoustically inadequate. To renovate Mandeville would have cost more than a new building, according to Steiger.

Steiger said the new building passed through two rounds of value engineering to cut costs, trim the fat and eliminate any frills. However, if not for private donations (not only from Prebys, but also $1 million from John Moores, $350,000 from Ann and Joel Reed, and others), construction would still have been halted due to budgetary concerns.

But putting all concerns about costs aside, what ultimately makes it all worthwhile is the concert hall. Ultimately, a da Vinci is worth it because of how it enriches the spirit. For this project, Harris was given complete freedom to design the physical manifestation of all his theories of acoustics. And Reddington said he set out to create something that would make patrons' hearts “beat faster upon first sight.”

The stage, although too small for a full symphony, is ideal for a chamber ensemble (the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, which incorporates UCSD students, will continue to perform at Mandeville Auditorium). The ceiling and the walls are constructed of fitted triangular panels, attached to metal frames that are hung securely from the high ceiling on numerous hidden cables with shock absorbing springs. Thus, if a jet plane rumbles over, the sound will not penetrate the hall.

On the back wall are long strips of wood paneling that can be covered with fabric and can be adjusted to “tune” the room's acoustics. The effect of everything in the hall on the sound has been precisely calculated – from the absorption of sound by each seat to the glue on the paneling.

Harris points out that the key factors affecting sound quality in the room are reverberation (the length of time sound takes to fade) and diffusion (how sound moves through the room). When you have both, he said, “you hear the sound from all directions.” All the shapes, absorptive materials and reflective surfaces in the room have been precisely and scientifically constructed to produce the optimal reverberation time and the optimal diffusion of the sound across the spectrum, in an effort to create the best possible acoustics for music.

“The initial sound coming from the stage is clear and true, no matter where you sit in the hall,” Steiger said. “And the beautiful reverberation that follows creates a rich, enveloping sound without sacrificing clarity.”

As Reynolds puts it, “the sound blooms around you in a way you may have imagined, but have never experienced before.”

The Experimental Theatre is equipped with more than $150,000 worth of sound equipment from Meyer Sound of Berkeley. Steiger calls it the concert hall of the future. The actual acoustics in the Experimental Theatre are quite dead, but with a push of a button you can digitally alter the sound to create a virtual acoustic environment. Many of the faculty are as excited about it as the concert hall.

“My own interests are particularly in the Experimental Theatre and in the new concert hall,” Reynolds said. “Doing innovative work in the arts is inevitably challenging. This building removes many of the usual obstacles from one's path and leaves the responsibility exactly where it ideally should be: with the creative imagination itself.”

There is an old folk belief that to dream of a building during sleep is actually to dream about the self in a metaphorical sense. UCSD's now realized its dream of a new building; it should be the site for a new and renewed self for the department that will have far-reaching consequences.

Still, some days department chair Steiger stands by the large window of the Experimental Theatre and gazes at the vacant lot across the street. He dreams of an even larger symphony-sized concert hall along the same lines of the small one UCSD now has. Steiger is hoping that once people experience the phenomenal acoustics of the small hall, they will want more and they will find a way to fund an even larger hall.

Yes, Steiger is a dreamer, but he is a visionary who knows how to do the hard work to make his dreams come true. He is truly unique in that he is inspired to reach out of the closed elite circles that characterize many UCSD departments to touch humanity. He wants to share his music and his concert hall with all of San Diego and perhaps all of the world.

Will Bowen is a San Diego writer.