Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Virtual Air Guitar

Makes real noise; virtually! A friend sent me a link to this, and then I saw it on the local news last night (nothing like good video and a silly story to get you on the local news!)

The really nice thing about this is that you probably don't have to tune it.

The Virtual Air Guitar project, developed at the Helsinki University of Technology, adds genuine electric guitar sounds to the passionately played air guitar.

Using a computer to monitor the hand movements of a "player", the system adds riffs and licks to match frantic mid-air finger work. By responding instantly to a wide variety of gestures it promises to turn even the least musically gifted air guitarist to a virtual fret board virtuoso.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Kids Say The Darndest Things...

Came across this story, that I thought was cute:

My boss leaves work, picks up her kid and brings her back to the office until closing time. The little girl (a sixth grader) likes to sit and talk to me.

The other day I told her that I had to leave early. I explained I had to pick up my Martin from the shop (Randy Wood Guitars) in Savannah. I told her that I was having a "pick-up" installed.

She looked at me very curiosly and asked, "why do you want a truck in your guitar?"

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

iRocker Your iPod

I've had my iPod for a couple of years, but I've never used it for anything other than playing music.

I did try one of the games once and was underwhelmed. It might have a calendar and an alarm, but I haven't used that either.

So now comes something that might almost be useful. iRocker software for the iPod includes the following:

200 essential chords (absolutely no, non-essential chords here!)
Tuner - well, it just plays an E it seems...
Metronome - 10 (count 'em! - 10) different speeds
Five (count 'em) chord progressions to jam along to.

All for $29.95.

Is it worth it? Hard to tell. Certainly not worth buying an iPod just for that. On the other hand, if you already have one, the chord library might come in usefull.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Chris Whitley 1960-2005

Chris died 20th of November.

Death Of Political Protest Music

To measure the state of folk/rock music (and has protest/political expression died?), I took up a challenge to listen and “jot down on a piece of paper what any random 6 songs are generally about”

Here’s what I heard on WUMB today at about 10:10am EDT

Song 1: Another Train: [something about] getting on a train. Maybe the next one is yours.

This song seems to be about if you’re lost and confused then another train will come along. I can’t help wondering if this is like that saying about girlfriends and buses? It’s kind of Celtic in flavor

Song 2: Second Wind: now we’re sailing and waiting for a southern breeze. Turns out someone gave him his second wind. Been chasing a dream.

I’ve got a reason to start living again; you’ve given me my second wind.

This song could easily be appropriated as a religious song. The performance is a little country in flavor

Only two songs in and I think I’ve detected a travel theme here.

Song 3: Love stood in my way. On a winters night.
She said the road goes on for ever, every day’s a change.

Definitely have a traveling theme going on here.

The song ends and oh, Peter Morton is introduced as the song writer of those songs (though only the last one was actually him performing.) He’s going to be in the studio later, which explains a lot.

Song 4: Three days in the storm, and three on the flood, the crescent moon her arc.
Deep in the pagan forest.

Hard to figure this song out. It seems to be about some pagan witch or something. I’m always so bad at figuring things out unless they are really obvious.

Song 5: Oh my little [someone] girl, better be making your wedding dress
Oh she wouldn’t say yes, she wouldn’t say no. All she’d do was sit and sew, sit and sew.
Oh, it’s already made, trimmed in red, gonna be married on Saturday night

Oddly, not a happy song, rather sad the way it’s played (with a slow tempo). It seems almost depressed that she’s getting married; like she has no alternative or something. There could be some anti-marriage message here, or equal rights thing, but it’s hard to get inflamed as the song … is …so ….sleepy….

Song 6: It’s a short life of trouble for a boy with a broken heart. You know what you promised, only a week ago, you promised that you’d marry me.
Now you’ve broken your promise.

I was really hoping for a political agenda in this one, but it’s more love and lost love. Now he’s off going round the world but he is still hung up on the person that broke her promise to him. This guy could be potential stalker material.

Could this failed marriage proposal be the result of the legalization of gay marriage? It’s not made clear in the song.

iTunes Outsells Tower Records

During the past three months, iTunes made it to the U.S. Top 10 sales list for the first time, analyst firm NPD Group said.

According to figures from the Recording Industry Association of America, digital sales accounted for slightly more than 4 percent of the market during the first half of 2005, up from about 1.5 percent during the first half of 2004.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Intel Inside

A few days back there was discussion on the UMGF about a Martin Guitar prototype that had a slot for inserting a PDA. I wondered what use it was; to keep track of your set list, remind you what couch you were sleeping on, or what a Bm7 chord looks like?

Well today I stumble across The Surf Guiter a Fender Telecaster with a tablet PC embedded in the back. Seems that Intel and Fender actually got together and built this. It includes a Centrino processor and Ethernet connectivity.

I can't help but wonder what damage your belt-buckle could do to the screen

It's assumed that this is just a demo for use at trade shows and Fender won't actually be mass producing these, but you never know...

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Chris Whitley

I am a big fan of Chris Whitley's album Living With The Law which contains - amongst others - the song Big Sky Country.

I just saw that Chris has entered hospice care suffering from advanced lung cancer.

I wish him and his family the best.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Shawn Colvin On Martin Guitars

Shawn Colvin played a benefit at Club Passim in Cambridge last night. A small, intimate show (just 145 fit in the room!) Her voice was amazing and her playing is really great; a good rhythm player with a percussive feel, she uses a lot of muting and mixes in enough finger-style to keep it interesting.

She told a lot of stories about her early days as a performer playing at the club. During a moment of intense guitar tuning she invited the audience to ask a question and someone shouted out ‘What’s that Martin you’re playing?’

Well she positively gushed about her Signature model Martin. She said that when she started out she had always wanted a Martin – she used to play a Yamaha that were just terrible she said – and she and a friend would go to the local guitar store and “play the Martin’s.” She eventually got enough money together to buy a used D-28 (a 71 model) in 1975.

“Martin came to me and said they wanted to make me a signature model,” she continued, “so I told them I wanted a neck that I could wrap my hand around, I wanted it to ring like a D-18, but have the bottom end thump of a D-35. Can you do that?” Then she turned over the guitar and showed the three-piece back and then pointed at the headstock that mimicked it and said “they did that, I had nothing to do with it.”

She was definitely happy with the guitar. “I gave one to Jackson Browne because he gave me a Gibson a while back,” she said.

“I was looking at the book of signature guitars they’ve made,” she continued, “and the thing I regret now is, I could have had my name written along here,” and she waved her hand along the fingerboard, “but I said ‘No, I want it very spare.’ It doesn’t even have fret markers. I was so stupid!”

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Geoff Emerick

Interesting interview with Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer that worked on several Beatles albums including Sgt. Peppers and Abbey Road.

Considering that you were using loops as far back as 1966 [on Revolver], it must amuse you that they are now so prevalent.

A lot of it was that Paul had a couple of Brenell tape recorders at home. You could disconnect the erase head on them, and he used them to make tape loops, putting new recordings over the first. He’d come in with a bag full of them—some long, some very small—all labeled with a grease pencil. We’d lace them up on our tape machine, and people would have to hold them out with pencils. I recall that on “Tomorrow Never Knows,” there weren’t enough people in the control room to handle holding them, so we got some of the maintenance department down to help. I think we put five loops up on faders, and then just played it as an instrument.

Of course, now, it’s endless, you can do anything. But often, all that doesn’t mean anything. If you just press a button and it’s there, you haven’t really created anything, have you? Going back to the artistic side of it, it’s the difference between painting by numbers or being a Rembrandt and painting a picture. Anyone can apply this technology to recorded music. But there’s that certain something that you can’t put your finger on, something that you can actually give to that piece of recording that the equipment can’t. It’s something that’s in your heart, that’s in you, that doesn’t come from any equipment whatever. It comes from what you hear.

Robotic Tuner

I just 'miss-placed' my tuner again. I know it's around somewhere, so I won't buy a new one....

But then I saw this today: String Master Robotic Guitar Tuner Woot! It's a robotic tuner: check out the demo video at the link.

It actually has a motorized crank that turns the tuning peg as it listens to you plucking a string. Works with electric guitars, but there's an 'attachment' for acoustic guitars (which I suspect is a microphone.)

Reviews at MusiciansFriend are mainly positive, though a few negatives. For $50 it's competitive with many others tuners, so I'm really tempted...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chickened Out

The big party happened, and for a variety of reasons, I didn't play.

#1. I just wasn't ready. I hadn't practiced enough; I'd left it until the last minute, and I thought I'd have a good shunk of Saturday to practice, but then the basement flooded and I ended up having to deal with that.

#2. The party had several scheduled performers, and then there was going to be an Open Mic at the end. Well, the party started just after 6, and the scheduled acts didn't finish until a little after 10:15, at which point there was dessert. And I had to start thinking about getting my daughter home, so really there was no time to even do it if I had been ready.

Oh well.

In the mean time I'm still practicing...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Have Book...

The book I ordered from Amazon arrived this morning, just in time.

So now I have all the chords to I'm only sleeping, and they are supposed to be correct. Sound's reasonable, and as long as I can play a B7 and sing at the same time, I might be able to pull it off. Have been practicing a bit. If I'd started a month ago I would be better.

Oh well.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cold Feet

Winter approaches. The boiler has been fired up in anger (and had to be repaired because it didn't come on the first day) and the party is this weekend.

That's the party where guests are invited to bring an instrument and perform.

I was [thinking about] / [trying to get up the nerve to] / [contemplating] doing a Richard Thompson song Wall of Death which seemed appropriate as it's a birthday party... but of course I haven't practiced or done anything in the past month...and it’s a comewhat difficult song to sing.

Then a couple of days ago I decided to go for something simpler. I was playing Revolver and it occurred to me that I'm Only Sleeping might be doable. Hey, when in doubt, go to Beatles, as a guitar instructor once said.

I searched about on the web and there's a version floating around that's got two sets of chords, and is partially complete. Partially as in the whole thing is not in both chords, and transposition is not one of my best skills....

soooo...I have a Beatles book that has riffs etc., in it. It had the song, but only the verse and the chorus, not the bridge. And it didn't match the web version either. *sigh*

Went down to the local music store and they had The Beatles Complete Vers. 1 & 2. $32 each. That's a lot of scratch for one song.

I considered buying it, but went home and checked Amazon. They only had Volume 2, and both volumes in a boxed set for $44. There was another 'complete' book The Beatles Complete Chord Songbook for $13.50 that had the advantage of being cheaper, and much smaller (easier to lose, but easier to cart around too.) So I ordered that one. It should arrive on Friday. Which gives me two days to practice.

Unless I decide to switch to another song.

Now I'm wondering; Should I re-string the guitar?

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Jerry Douglas Dobro, Weekend Edition Sunday

Jerry Douglas, 'the Jimi Hendrix of dobro playing' will be on Weekend Edition Sunday on NPR tomorrow.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Origins Or Dreadnought

A poster on the UMGF asked why Dreadnoughts were called Dreadnoughts.

I replied that they were named after a class of battleship, but then another poster corrected me and said it was named after a specific ship.

This prompted my reply:

Actually, not a minor detail! (as I discovered after reading your post!)

The Dreadnought was a ship, but it was also a class of ship. Just as the Forestall is both a specific aircraft carrier, and a class of aircraft carrier.

Martin's own history mentions the class yet I found a listing on that mentioned the battleship.

Most of the Internet listings seem to use the class story, though they are mostly borrowed from Martin's article.

Growing up (prior to knowing anything about Martin's) I was familiar with the term being used for a large battleship, but had never heard of the specific ship (until tonight!)

Here we get into a generational thing; I wonder if anyone would know whether CF Martin, back in 1916, was aware of the specific ship, or had just heard of these large ships, called dreadnoughts?

A little sleuthing; if you read this history of naval warfare it appears that the original ship Dreadnought was the first of a new breed of ships (it was launched in 1906), and that at the time, there was a race to build bigger and bigger ships. Dreadnought became the term everyone used for these very large ships, and by 1914, the original ship was outmoded.

It's clear that the ship Dreadnought resulted in the name being applied to all large battleships, but I think it's more than likely that the Dreadnought guitar shape was named after the class, rather than the specific ship.

You're probably wondering if this is just a distinction without a difference, but actually, I think it's a minor, but interesting issue (though it surely will not effect the tone of your D-28.)

I will admit that I'm taking a wild guess here, but I base this on the following:

1) The original ship Dreadnought was a British ship. It's unclear to me that this ship would have been widely reported or hailed in the US.

2) The term Dreadnought was used for all large battleships, and there was a race to build bigger and bigger ones. This was probably widely reported in the US

3) By 1914, the ship Dreadnought had already been superseded by even larger ships.

4) Why would CF Martin name it after a British ship (the US wasn't then involved in World War I) rather than an American one? I could understand it if the ship was legendary, but other than it being the first really big battleship, I don't think it was legendary at all, and by 1916 it was no longer the largest battleship.

But if the US Navy was building large 'dreadnoughts,' and they were frequently referred to by this term, then it would seem to make sense that the public would start using the term for other things and that Martin would then adopt the term as well.

I admit that there's an assumption here that the original ship was not widely known and hailed in America.

Counter to my argument, it's entirely plausible that when the Dreadnought was launched in 1906, it was so large (like the Titanic) and was covered so widely in the press, such that people immediately started using the term in everyday speech ("it's the Dreadnought of bed pans") and that using the description 'Dreadnought of' could have been rooted in speech for a long time and Martin just borrowed this phrase that was already widely used. I'm a little doubtful of this, as again, I don't think the ship itself was widely known.

I think we need to find a historian....

Sorry for the nit-picking, but I actually think it's an interesting story.

On reading this post, the original poster accused me of being neurotic! :(

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Neil Young on Conan

Neil Young is the musical guest on Conan O'Brien's show all this week (Tuesday through Friday.)

Wish I stayed up that late :(

Friday, October 28, 2005


It's that time of year again in the Northeast; time to worry about humidity levels (unless you own a Stratocaster or other solid body guitar, in which case skip this post...)

But for acoustic owners, you should be concerned about humidity. Standard disclaimers apply, and I'm not going to go into the whys and wherefores here, but I did come across this interesting specific information about what humidity levels you need to aim for in this post on the UMGF:

"Bob Taylor wrote in “Wood & Steel” a while back [...] that if a guitar was kept in a humidity range that was within 20% of its build conditions, its geometry (the relationship of its various parts to each other) would be fine.

If a guitar is assembled with seasoned wood in a 72 degree F room that is kept at a relative humidity of 45% (typical of the conditions most N.American guitars, including Martin, are assembled in) then a 20% plus/minus range based off of a 45% center would be
36% to 54%."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Everything's A-OK In The USA

Darrell Scott is someone that I wasn't familiar with until yesterday. A friend told me about him and recommended that I check him as he was playing at Club Passim.

Darrell is a singer-songwriter who I guess used to live around Boston, though he moved to Tenessee several years back. It turns out he's had some success with other's performing his songs; including Divie Chicks and Faith hill. He played We've Got Nothing But Love To Prove (which you'd think was titled 'Everything's A-OK In The USA' and was performed by Faith Hill on the album Fireflies.

Amazing guitar player, great voice, a really great performance. I really liked the song 'We've Got Nothing But Love To Prove' which he performed in the middle of another song; Mahala (which was great too) and another fun song: It's A Great Day To Be Alive

Friday, October 21, 2005

Lack Of Wood

For the past week or so there's been an ongoing discussion at the UMGF about Martin Guitars move away from mahogany necks.

Much to the chagrin of traditionalists (i.e. any Martin guitar owner) Martin has started describing their neck material as 'Select Hardwoods.' What does that mean? Well at the moment, most likely 'Spanish Cedar,' though if you order a Martin right now there's a variety of wood that might be used...

According to Martin's wood buyer:
Currently, all necks are either solid Mahogany, Mahogany with wings on the headstock, solid Spanish cedar, solid sustainable Cherry, 2 piece (glued up the center) Hard Maple, flame red maple 5 pc. (3 piece barrel with wings on the headstock) on the Archtops, or Stratabond (laminated birch - natural or color dyed) on the X series. There are even a few solid Indian rosewood necks out there.

The truth is, Martin is finding it difficult to get the wood it needs. Necks have traditionally been carved from a single block, but that can mean using a 4" x 4" square block of about three feet long. That's a big piece of wood.

The Taylor Guitar company changed their neck design a couple of years ago. The pegboard is now fingerjointed to the neck. This allows them to use much less wood to make a neck.

But it's harder for Martin to make such changes since they are a company with a long history.

But other realities are intruding. Witness this report about a new survey which shows that the Amazon rain forests are being decimated at a greater rate than previously thought.

Revealed: the true devastation of the rainforest.

The Amazon rainforest is being destroyed twice as quickly as previously estimated, according to a satellite survey of the region.

Scientists have discovered that previous satellite photographs of the Amazon have missed a form of surreptitious logging that is equally destructive, but not as apparent from space.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ten Most Expensive Guitars

This article is dated 1997, so it's out of date, but still an interesting compilation of expensive guitars. Guitar World:The 10 Most Expensive Guitars,

To Perform Or Not To Perform?

There's a party coming up and there's going to be some performers, some jamming and the question; do I want to play? And if I 'play;' what do I play?

I've only played for an audience (of more than three or four) once before. It was a New Year's party and I played with other people for a couple of songs; one of which I sang. So, not much crowd experience. That's my problem; I'm a big wuss when it comes to performing for others. I tend to avoid the possibility.

Also, I have no real idea what the setup is going to be. Is it actually going to be that you get up in front of a bunch of people and do a song, or is it going to be like a big song circle and people play together etc., etc., I have no idea, and I don't think the party organizers know either, so anything could happen.

I'm considering practicing a couple of things, just to be case...

Unless I decide to chicken out and not even take a guitar with me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

video iPod

Lots of new stuff today.

Apple unvieled it's video iPod. It wasn't exactly a huge surprise, and yet I kind of thought that maybe they wouldn't... I don't know why. I guess because I wasn't really that excited about the idea in the first place, and even after seeing it, I'm not that excited. Why would I want to watch video on such a tiny screen? I'm also not sure I want to spend $1.99 for a music video...

Maybe when I see one in person I'll feel differently. At least the price remains the same, so it's kind of like they threw in a new feature that you may or may not use, but it's not really costting you anything.

I guess I have to think about it some more.

This is cool!

Sony has announced the PCM-D1, a field recorder that features 96K-24 bit recording capability, 4GB internal flash memory, removable Memory Stick Pro high-speed storage and a built-in USB 2.0 port for Macintosh and Windows/PC operating systems.

Other features include: built-in condenser microphones in an X - Y configuration, Analog level meters and a battery life of about 4 hours.

That's the good news. The bad news; the recorder is expected to be available in December at a suggested list price of $2000.

One World

The E.U. is pushing to create an EU-wide copyright license for online music.
Germany is Europe's biggest online user of both legal and pirated music with 9.5 million people downloading, according to a Forrester Research report from August 2004. Some 89 percent of people questioned said they never paid to download music or video.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

#1 Benefit Of Being A Roadie

R.E.M.'s original four members reunited recently to play a seven-song set at the wedding of guitar tech Dewitt Burton. It occured at Kingpins Bowl & Brew in the Athens, Georgia.

Kingpins owner Ed Connolly told that the actual wedding band was taking a break when he noticed vocalist Stipe and company setting up in the bowling alley's arcade.
"I couldn't believe it," he said. "I was transfixed. I heard the count in and then 'Sitting Still,' and by the time they got to the first chorus, it was packed shoulder to shoulder."

The group went on to play some of its most beloved early tunes: "Don't Go Back to Rockville" (with bassist Mills on vocals), "Wolves, Lower," "Begin the Begin," "The One I Love," "Permanent Vacation" and "Radio Free Europe."

Monday, October 10, 2005

Nearly Purchased The Same Song Twice

This past week iTunes had a free song by James Blunt. As I went to download it, I recognized the voice, and that I'd heard another song by him that I'd liked. Looking in the iTunes 'popular download' part I saw the song listed: You're Beautiful and I was just about to buy it when I had a brain wave. Did I already buy this?

I looked in the Purchased Music folder of iTunes, and sure enough, there it was!


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

New Strings

A tip I came across when restringing your guitar; put on the strings, tune to concert pitch, then leave the guitar overnight before playing.

I guess that doesn't really work well if you're a performer or only have one guitar and really want to play...

However, advocates swear that it both reduces tuning issues, and increases string life. I haven't tried it yet; but would note that most of my guitars don't go much out of tune from day to day. Maybe it's the way you play, the type of guitar, or how you store them that has as much to do with it? My friend David was having a lot of problems with a guitar that constantly went out of tune until he discovered that keeping it properly humidified greatly reduced the problem.

Friday, September 30, 2005

NavFest 2006

Martin guitar fans are nuts! For the past five years they have had a yearly gathering in Pennsylvania (conveniently close to the Martin Guitar Co. factory.) NavFast is actually a fun event, with about 150 people turning up. I have been twice (I went this year and have been meaning to write up my trip report) and they just yesterday announced the dates for next years events.

Before the day was out, over 30 reservations had been made at the hotel; not bad given that there's only a block of 90 rooms is reserved.

I nearly missed out on a room at the Inn for NavFast 2005 because I waited so long before deciding I was going, so this morning I decided to call and make a reservation; even though I'm not certain that I'll go! I guess I just got caught up in the excitement.

When I called the hotel and said I wanted to make a reservation for Aug 4th the person said 'Are you with the Martin group?' right off the bat; I guess they had had a lot of calls about it! So now I'm counting the days; 309 according to the website!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Guitar Neck Tension

On the UMGF forum someone posted a question about hanging a guitar on the wall, and in discussing the pros and cons, someone posted: The weight of the guitar helps counteract the 160+ pounds of tension that the strings are exerting 24/7 which just doesn't make any sense to me. So my office mate Dave and I immediately set to work trying to figure it out with no knowledge or experience to assist us.

When I say 'figure it out' I mean; we speculated wildly.

We decided that we didn't think gravity would have much effect at all. But we're not sure. This is my reasoning (and I'm probably wrong):

Since we're not sure how the body of the guitar works in relation to the strings and neck exactly, I'd start with two other examples;

1) if you had a wire, and a weight on it, clearly gravity has a big effect on the wire when the weight is being pulled down.

2) A piece of wood with two nails at each end and a wire wrapped between them. Hanging that vertically would not seem to have much effect on the wire or the wood. (though I'm sure it has some, I'm just guessing it's so tiny you can barely measure it.)

A guitar would seem to fall in between these two, but I suspect much more towards example 2, than example 1.

In neither case can I imagine the effect of gravity releiving the tension....but as someone else just pointed out; I'm not a physics major!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Richard Thompson

From his website:

What hardware & software & mikes have you been using to record Front Parlour Ballads?

It was recorded on my Apple G4 laptop, using Digital Performer software. I used two Neumann KM184 condenser mics on the guitar as a stereo pair, and a Superlux CM-H8A on vocals. The Neumanns were used for most of the other instruments. The vocals went through a Universal Audio LA-610 Preamp/Compresser/Limiter.

Wow! The Neumann KM184 cost $729.99 each...but the Superlux CM-H8A is just $89!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

iTunes, iPod, and 'value pricing'

MTV news writes about Steve Jobs and the record companies bickering over song pricing (Steve wants to keep the 99cent price, and the record companies want variable pricing):
The source said the comment by Jobs was likely aimed at provoking a reaction from the music industry, which is generally in favor of variable pricing, i.e., higher prices for hot, current artists and lower ones for less popular or older material.
"Music is art; it's not a commodity," the source said. "Things that are more relevant command more money. The idea of saying it should all be 99 cents is absurd. Variable pricing is the norm in the music business and every business -- even the iPod business."

Variable pricing is the norm in the music business? It is? Maybe for concert prices, but I have never thought that CDs were priced that differently based on popularity. That's changed a little over time with new CD's being more than back catalog, but event here the difference seems minor; the location you buy the disc at can have as much effect on the price as anything.

I'm sorry; in my mind I have always thought that CDs cost around $11-$15, but it depended on where you bought them, not that the U2 album cost more than the new Ah-ha album because U2 is more popular.

Am I missing something? Have things changed in the last couple of years and I didn't notice?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Nothing For Sale

In the buy and sell section of a guitar forum someone posted: I have nothing for sale or trade. I currently like everything I own and I'm not offering anything. Very satisfied condition. Original cases also not available. Don't contact...

To which others responded:
Is this guitar still not for sale? Please don't contact me.
I wish you the best for your no sale or trade I have bought nothing from this member previously and have been greatly pleased with the results.
I've got plenty of nothing... not for sale but I might consider trades Let me know if you need my address so you can not ship what I've not bought.

and finally:
I think I'm not going to bid on this, but first I am going to have a cup of coffee without cream - nope, it wil have to be without milk because we have no cream....

Lennon Broadway Show Ends Run

After just six weeks a Broadway show about John Lennon's life will close this weekend. Various reports claimed that a) it focused too much on his later life with Yoko, and b) it was confusing because there were 9 (9!) people playing Lennon.

I heard an interview with one of the actors in the show a couple of months ago. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember the interviewer noting that there were several people playing Lennon throughout the show, and also asking how involved Yoko was, and whether she had changed things or interfered. He said that she didn't, though she was definitely involved.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Neil Young, Praire Wind

Scott Simon of NPR interviewed Neil Young on NPR's Weekend Edition. They talk about his recent health issues and the recording of the new album.

He also mentioned the D-28 he owns that used to belong to Hank Williams and speaks about how he thinks it's important to play it versus putting it in a museum.
Young wrote some of the songs on Prairie Wind in 15 or 20 minutes, he tells Scott Simon. "It doesn't take me very long when I get started. I just try to remain open." The album is released Sept. 27; a concert film directed by Jonathan Demme is also forthcoming.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

FlashMic DRM85

HHB has announced the FlashMic DRM85, a Sennheiser omni-directional condenser microphone with 1GB of flash recording memory. The mic has a small LCD panel, control buttons, and a USB connector at the bottom. It's supposed to be available in January (the image looks to me like it might be 3D rendered; but maybe I am too suspicious!) No price mentioned either, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was at least $200-$300.

I recently bought the Samson C01U Condenser Microphone with USB Output, which is a mic with a USB connector on the bottom, but you have to have it connected to your computer to record.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Martin D-28 Special "Walk the Line" Limited Edition

From a Martin Company press release:

To commemorate the Wind-up Records release of the original cast recording for “Walk The Line” chronicling Johnny Cash's life, Martin has created a limited production run of the Martin D-28 Special "Walk the Line - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack" Limited Edition. The guitar is a black D-28, labeled inside with the following:

"To commemorate the release of Walk the Line - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. In memory of Johnny Cash 1932-2003".

The production run has been limited to only 12 units, and number 1 is to be presented to Joaquin Phoenix (the actor playing Cash in the film). The remaining 11 guitars will be given away through a variety of exclusive contests.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Andy Griffith

Interesting article about Andy Griffith presenting his papers to the University of North Carolina.

Marting Guitar last year produced an Andy Griffith signature edition and there are pictures of him playing it at the above link too.

Mistaken iTunes Purchase

Damn! The other day I had the TV on and in the background I heard a song playing at the end of a news show about the Hurricane, and they played a song that I'd heard before, but didn't really know who it was.

I guessed that it was Sheryl Crow, and a quick search revealed that it was her song Safe and Sound, from the album C'Mon C'Mon.

I decided to purchase the song through iTunes, and I was in a hurry, so I put it on the iPod, and off I went. It was only in the car, when I turned it on, that I realized I'd purchased the song C'Mon C'mon by mistake (it's the song ahead of Safe and Sound), and I'm not sure if I got messed up in the heat of the moment by the title, or whether it was because I had trouble entering the password correctly and had to reselect the song after resetting the password and just miss-clicked.

Either way, I ended up buying a song I didn't want :( Oh well. I guess I'll have to pay more attention

Saturday, September 10, 2005


Wednesday late evening, walking down Boylston with my friend April, we encountered a guy playing guitar on the street. It's not uncommon to see buskers in Harvard Square and other places, but this is the first time I have every seen someone playing on Boylston Street.

He had his speakers up on the top of the cab of a truck (I'm guessing it was his) which was another first. And he was playing in a weird way - okay, an unusual way; he was fretting using his left hand over the top of the neck (most people usually play with their hand coming up underneath the neck)

I'm guessing he was playing in an open tuning, and he was mostly just barring the strings with one finger.

I said to my friend April that it was 'weird' and then ended up in a short discussion on the 'rights' and 'wrongs' of how you play. The reality is there is no right or wrong way; if it sounds good, who cares how you make the noise?

And he sounded pretty good; at least for that song. If he played everything the same way it might get a bit repetitive fairly quickly, but we didn't hang around to hear the rest of his set...

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Curse You Steve Jobs!

Apple went and did it again; they have announced another cool new gadget that I want...

Well actually, it's not really a 'new' gadget; it's the iPod Nano, which is a smaller, thinner, sexier, more likely to go through the wash in your pants, version of the iPod.

I already have a regular iPod, and an iPod Shuffle which I bought because I thought it would be more robust than the regular iPod; particularly at the gym where I'd already dropped the iPod a couple of times. The Shuffle has proved to be great for that purpose; it has very little mass and no moving parts. Also, I just hang it around my neck using the lanyard. Probably looks kind of dorky, but it never gets in the way, dropped, or forgotten as I walk away.

The iPond Nano is a cross between the Shuffle and the regular iPod. It's smaller, thinner and flash-based like the Shuffle, but it's shaped more like the regular iPod and has a color screen and a click-wheel controller. In most respects it is more like the full-size iPod.

The Nano is limited to 2GB and 4GB (500-1000 songs) and costs $199 and $249 respectively. I think it's pretty neat, and I'm torn since I already have a Shuffle.

Perhaps I'll give the Shuffle to my daughter.

iTunes Phone

Not unexpected, but Motorola and Apple also announced the Motorola ROKR. It's an iTunes enabled phone.

Unfortunately it's only available through Cingular and I just signed up for a two year Sprint plan *sigh*.

Also, the phone is limited to 100 songs (allegedly Apple was concerned that the phone would take sales away from the iPod.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

MP3 Players Cause Hearing Loss?

Well no, but maybe the headphones they are often shipped with can contribute to hearing loss according to a study published last year in the journal Ear and Hearing by Dr. Brian Fligor of Harvard Medical School. A short piece in the New York Times covers this.

It seems that the in-ear headphones are the worst offenders.

I'm not sure this is exactly news. And the word has gone out about headphone use; my daughter has told me several times that 'if you can hear the music from someone's headphones, then they have it too loud.'

Glad I have my Sony MDR-7506's, though they don't look that cool at the gym...

Monday, September 05, 2005

The British Are Coming!

HMV and Virgin have both rolled out online music services in Britain. They are clearly gunning for Apple:
'"How many customers know that in buying an iPod, they're effectively locking oneself into a walled garden?" said John Taylor, HMV's director of e-commerce.'

It seems that they are both offering a purchase option, as well as a subscription service where for about $30 per month you can download as much as you like, though songs are only useable while you continue to pay the subscription fee.

Bob Dylan - No Direction Home

David (my jam mate) is a big Dylan fan, and is looking forward to the upcoming Martin Scorsese biography No Direction Home. It gets released at the end of this month, and will be played on PBS (and BBC!) and released straight to DVD.

Oh! I see the DVD is released September 20, and goes on TV on the 26-27.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Fats Domino

11:49am Just heard on the radio that Fats Domino is missing after saying he was going to ride out the storm.

KSAT: Fats Domino Missing In New Orleans Floods

Fats Domino was plucked from the flooded city by a helicopter late Thursday. He was reported to be in good condition.

Walk The Line

First there was Ray, and now Johnny Cash gets the big movie treatment in Walk The Line starring Joaquin Phoenix as the Man In Black. You can see a trailer at the link above. It's due in theaters November 18.

Personally, I'm not a huge fan of biographical dramas; often they are changed drastically from reality, leaving you unsure whether you're watching a biography or fiction. It's like the difference between News and Entertainment. So I'm not sure I want to see this.

But hey, they have some nice graphics on the website, and there should be a nice soundtrack...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


More than two days later it's still impossible to imagine the scale of the devastation caused by Hurricaine Katrina. I'd like to encourage everyone to consider making a donation to the Red Cross.

On the T.V. tonight a guy was standing in front of a destroyed house holding a guitar and he said "I ain't worried about the house, I got the guitar."

Unfortunately, there's little to laugh about right now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Problems Ahead For Online Music Services

The record companies want to change download pricing to increase the cost of new/popular songs (maybe $1.49 per song) and lower the cost of some other songs. Reports suggest they are putting pressue on Apple to accept new pricing. The article has an interesting note:

A sore point for some music executives is the fact that Apple generates much more money selling iPod players than it does as a digital music retailer, leading to complaints that Jobs is profiting more from tracks downloaded to fill the 21 million iPods sold so far than are the labels that produced the recordings.

I don't know if I like the idea of $1.49 songs. I think I'll buy less music if the songs I want cost that much. I'm sympathetic to some of labels concerns, but then again, we're at the beginning of the cycle; I'm not planning to buy a new iPod ever year, but surely I'm going to buy new music...

Meanwhile, it looks like clouds are forming over the subscription based systems (Yahoo, RealNetworks and Napster) because of an impasse over license negotiations between the companies and music publishers over royalty negotiations.

The National Music Publishers' Association has asked for nearly 17 percent of subscription services' gross revenues, while the services have offered 6.9 percent instead. Seems like a bit of a difference.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

The World is Safe from Lip-synching

...or some of it.

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has ordered a ban on lip synching across the country, citing "a negative effect on the development of singing and musical art."

"Unfortunately, one can see on television old voiceless singers lip-synching their old songs," Niyazov told a Cabinet meeting. "Don't kill talents by using lip synching... Create our new culture."

Niyazov banned opera and ballet in 2001, claiming it did not conform to the national mentality. We can only wonder if karaoke will be next.

[Well that's something I think we can all get behind -Ed]

Monday, August 22, 2005

Robert A. Moog 1934 - 2005

When I was a kid the Moog synthesizer was the cool - but unknown - device that seemed to be the ultimate answer for the musically untalented. Of course, since I had no idea what this thing was or how it worked (other than it made cool noises) I didn't really understand that you still needed to know what you were doing to make beautiful noise with one.

For several years the name Moog was synonymous with synthesizer. The Beatles were one of the first main-stream groups to use the device. It appears on several songs on the album Abbey Road including, Here Comes The Sun.

Robert Moog, the create of the Moog synthesizer, died last Sunday.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

While My Ukulele Gently Weeps

Jake Shimabukuro is one hell of a ukulele player. This site has a QuickTime video of him playing George Harrion's While My Guitar Gently Weeps and it's simply amazing.

The really interesting thing about this is that George was evidently a big ukulele fan. So said Paul McCartney last time he came through Boston on tour. He had a ukulele that Goerge had given him, and he played Something in homage to George. It was quite a performance, though his ukulele playing didn't rival this video!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Lori McKenna, Mark Erelli & Jake Armerding

Lori McKenna, Mark Erelli & Jake Armerding performed a night of cover songs at Club Passim Thursday, Aug 18, and it was a great show! I've seen Mark and Jake before, but this was my first time hearing Lori, and what an amazing voice she has. Whether singing lead or backup it just comes out and grabs you. Very country sounding in a way, but wow; it knocked me out.

It was a fun, almost laid-back evening, as each artist took turns performing different cover songs, with the others providing backup or just listening with the rest of us.

It opened with Jake performing a Gordon Summer song (that's Sting to you and me) I'm So Happy I Can't Stop Crying, which, dammit, I wasn't even familiar with. Other highlights included; Lori's rendition of a Johnny Cash song -the title I didn't catch- and Bruce Springsteen's One Step Up. The audience laughed through much of Mark's performance of Randy Newman's Political Science, and Richard Thompsons I Feel So Good really rocked.

Jake did a hilarious cover of I LIke Big Butts (not sure of the exact title,) and a great performance of Michael Jackson's I Wanna Rock With You. Two songs that aren't thought of as folk or acoustic standards!

Monday, August 15, 2005

New Toy

It was a sales tax free weekend here in Massachusetts, and I went a little silly. I was at the local guitar store and they had a Hercules stand and I was taken with the fact that it has an auto-grab system; the weight of the guitar pulls down the frame on which the neck sits about an inch, and little fingers rotate up, keeping the guitar in place. You have to lift the guitar to release it. Pretty cool.

I spent several minutes just pushing down on the top and watching the little fingers rotate to keep the guitar in place.

Of course, I had to buy one. I already have a guitar stand, but you can always use a second one, right? ;)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Samson C01U

This USB condenser microphone, which I ordered about three months ago, finally arrived. I thought it would be fun to use with my iBook to make quick and easy recordings.

I first tried it hooked up to a machine running Windows XP. As soon as I plugged it in the system recognized the device (even knowing it's name and model number!) and when I went to the Sound Recording application it worked just fine. Couldn't really tell how good it was as there was a lot of noise in the office environment.

I had a lot more trouble getting it to work with the iBook.

There's a driver you can download from Samson's website and it said to simply install and away you go. Except that it didn't; the install went okay, but when I selected the mic nothing happened other than the small green light going on. I was worried that I might have damaged the mic by putting the cable in wrong (you really have to watch those USB cables!) but I tried it on another Windows box and it still worked fine. Back to the Mac.

It turns out there's a small application installed in the Applications folder (nothing that I saw in the installer talked about that!) Tried that; still nothing! Restarted; nothing. Unplugged, and replugged. Just about to give up when; suddenly it was working.

Only problem; I have no idea why it started working!

Anyway, it's working, and I tried it with Deck, and it seems to be working well. A bit of noise but I need to do some experiments to see how it compares with other mics.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

NazFest Preparations

I've been looking forward to going to NazFest this year, however, as always it has kind of snuck up on me and I'm not sure I'm ready for it! If things go as planned, I'll head out Saturday morning for the 6 hour drive down to Nazareth PA. But in the mean time I have so much to do; have to get various projects completed, get stuff packed, and decide which guitars to take!

I really need another month or two to prepare!

NazFest is a get together of the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum. A bunch of Martin guitar enthusiasts in other words. Two days of playing, as well as a tour of the Martin Factory and assorted fun. I went to this a couple of years ago and enjoyed myself a lot.

Now if I could just get everything done before Saturday morning.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sounds like...

There's a new Herbie Hancock/John Mayer song (Mayer sings!) that's started to get some airplay here in Boston. It reminds me a lot in style of some of Stings songs; can't quite put my finger on why; maybe it's the arrangement and the 'stitch me up' refrain. Sounds very Stingish.

And there's another song that's been getting some airplay that sounds really like something of George Harrison's; it even sounds a little like him.

Note that this is necessarily a bad thing, it's just what stood out when I first heard the songs.

OMG! Dolly Parton on the radio. I'm bouncing around the radio presets and I hear Dolly Parton! Or at least it sounds a lot like her. Now that's just not normal (for me) and I'm seriously wondering if I need to reprogram my presets when I discover that it's a duet....but I had to leave the car before I found out any of the details; and a quick search on the web hasn't turned up anything.

Oh, the song seemed to grow on me after a bit...

Beatles News: a news item on the radio; Paul McCartney recorded a two hour event in Abbey Road studios where he played some songs and talked about the recording process. Supposed to be released on DVD sometime...

A more accurate(?) report can be found here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Harvard Sq

I got to play with an HD camcorder on the weekend, so I took it down to Harvard Sq to shoot some video to test it out.

I walked around shooting various things; there were a bunch of street performers of varying quality. One of the biggest problems - it seemed - was the quality of the amps they were using. By necessity, everyone was using small battery powered amps, but some definitely sounded better than others! Not sure whether it was EQ problems, or the sound of the amps themselves. A lot of people seemed to have the Crate Taxi; and again, some sounded good and others didn't.

If I get around to it I'll try and post some of the video (now that I have figured out how to put video on the website.)

Monday, August 01, 2005

Getting The Cold(play) Shoulder

The Boston radio station WBOS is running a competition this week. Be caller number seven and you get tickets to Coldplay's concert. The grand prize winner gets a press pass to take pictures at the concert (usually this means you can only take pictures for the first three songs, but you can stand right in front of the stage.)

I'm not the biggest Coldplay fan, but it would be cool to be able to take pictures at the concert.....of course, you have to win first, and it's not easy even getting through. But I heard the ads and I got all excited and figured I'd give it a go; it's been a while since I've won something from a radio station ;)

But the problem is that the concert is this Saturday; and I'm not going to be in town that day. *sigh* Well, I guess it's not even worth trying....

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Howie Day Video

This is video from the Howie Day concert. The sound quality isn't that great (big surprise) but I really wanted to post this because I've been meaning to put together a little Flash Player that would make it easy to post other video.

So here it is. As I said, not the greatest sound, but you get the idea...

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Howie Day in Boston

Saw Howie Day at The Bank of Boston Pavilion last Saturday [July 24]. It's the second time I've seen Howie live; the last time was at the Orpheum. That show was solo, but this show he had a band. Personally, I think Howie is best solo. He's okay with a band too, but if I had a preference I'd rather see him solo.

The show was still great, and the Pavilion is an interesting place; it's like a huge tent, and it's right on the harbor, and if the weather is nice (as it was this day) it really adds to the whole experience. I'd much rather see an act at this location than the Tweeter Center or the Fleet Center (or whatever it's called now.)

Not a whole lot to say about the show; I'm terrible at writing reviews of these things anyway. But the highlight for me was the one song he did solo; She Says which was the first song of the encore. He didn't do Madrigals, which is another favorite, but you can't have everything. I hear he did a cover of Don't Dream It's Over at the 7/29 show; I would have liked to have seen that.

He worked hard and sounded great. Not a whole lot of between song chat, but some people like that.

Monday, July 25, 2005


You can read about NAMM news at Harmony-Central. Not a whole lot so far has caught my attention. Taylor has a set of Fall Limiteds with some interesting woods.

Martin has announced (drum roll please) the George Martin, Martin. A guitar for the 5th Beatle. Now George Martin is a wonderfully talented, yet modest person, but while he's pretty good with the piano, he's hardly known for his guitar playing. In fact, this guitar was - and Martin acknowledges this - not designed by George at all. Rather "George Martin detailed his preferences for a namesake Martin Signature Edition guitar to fellow musician and record producer John Kurgan, his specific goal was to create an instrument uniquely suited to the studio."

It has a funky headstock, with a kind of art-deco feel 'M' on it, that almost has me wanting one ;)

It's a shame that Martin won't be doing a Paul McCartney signature edition (Paul recently did something with Epiphone) so this might be the closest you'll ever get to a 'Beatle' Martin.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Ever Changing Internet

I love the Internet, but sometimes it can be frustrating. For example, just recently I wrote about the Street Musician website I had stumbled across.

Well, it's suddenly disappeared. Gone. Nada. 404 Error and all that. No idea what happened to it; though the guy mentioned that he'd recently lost his job...I wonder if he lost his Internet Service as well?

Well it's really unfortunate that it's gone, as I thought it had some interesting info.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I've never been, but the summer NAMM show runs July 22 - 24, in Indianapolis. NAMM is the show for the music industry, and it's where manufacturers announce new products. Of special interest to me are the announcements from guitar makers such as Martin, Taylor et. al. Both companies historically announce new products at this show.

I wonder what might be coming?....

NAMM happens just before Nazfest (part of the scheduling of Nazfest has to do with avoiding the run up to NAMM at Martin), so an exciting time is ahead..


The Harman Kardon Drive + Play is an iPod docking system that can be hard wired in an automobile. It consists of three components:
  • A backlit LCD pivoting display, which is designed to be mounted where the driver can easily see the screen while keeping their eyes on the road;

  • a five-button navigation control unit – the navigation wheel is similar to BMW’s iDrive wheel, but mimics the iPods controls;

  • a unit that connects everything together.

Looks pretty cool, as the screen is large; anyone who has tried working with their iPod while driving know's how dangerous trying to read the iPod screen can be. On the other hand, it's $199, which is a good chunk of change.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Concert Prices Down

...that's what they just said on the local news. Concert attendence is down 12% this year, and prices are down 6%.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Ring Tones!

This article; "Insight Out: Album sales tell partial story" covers the 7% downturn in album sales, but also looks at new forms of revenue for the music industry. It projects $104 million will be made by the labels from the download of singles in 2005. That's not a trivial number, but what shocked me was this:

The U.S. ringtone market was $300 million in 2004. Labels split the revenues with cellular carriers pretty much down the middle. That’s roughly $150 million in ringtone revenues.

So more money is being made from ringtones than from downloads?! Wow!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Wish You Were Here

Jammed with David last night. When we get organized we can accomplish quite a bit!

We decided it was time to murder Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd. I’ve always liked the song, though I have never bought any of their albums, and I don’t exactly know the song by heart.

I was having trouble with a couple of lines in the chorus,

Running over the same old ground,
what have we found - the same old fears?

I was messing it up badly, and then I remembered that I’d bought the song a while ago through iTunes, and I had it on my iPod. Hasty scramble to get speakers out of the office so we can play it, which worked okay, though something’s up with the cable I was using to connect to the iPod as I had to jiggle it a little to get the sound right.

So played that, and did a bit better, but have to work some more at it.

Meanwhile, David had learned the Guitar 1 riff and I was just strumming along, and he suggested I learn the Guitar 2 riff. But then (lucky me!) he decided that he should play the Guitar 2 part, and I should do the Guitar 1 part, so that’s my homework for the week!


Monday, July 11, 2005

DMB at Tweeter Center

I made my annual pilgrimage to the Tweeter Center to see Dave Matthews Band. I think I am getting beyond jaded. Not that it was a bad show, but having been nine rows from the front a couple of years ago (see picture) everything since just hasn’t measured up!

I also discovered that I was actually over dressed for the occasion. The weather the last few days has been all over the map, and so I put on a shirt and khaki pants and it was only when I got there that I realized I was basically dressed in business casual. If I’d been wearing shorts or jeans I would have been okay, but I was over dressed – or at least I felt that way. And this from someone who never overdresses for anything!

I made a point of getting there early as I wanted to see Dave introduce the opening act; not that I wanted to see the opening act, I just wanted to see his introduction. I got there about 6:30, read a book in the car for a while, then made my way inside, and was just in time to see Dave make the introduction.

As he had for his Howie Day introduction, Dave alluded to working on a hang over. He also revealed the secret to a good Margarita; cheap Rum. He sounded drunk; which I couldn’t figure out if it was an affectation, or he actually was. When he spoke later – if only briefly – during the concert, he didn’t sound drunk; but then he didn’t say a whole hell of a lot either. Is Dave Matthews the Dean Martin of this generation? Should someone stage an intervention?

The show itself started with Everyday, then moved into their latest single (the one after American Baby) and a mix of their catalog. They did #34, which I’ve never seen them do live before, and they covered Time of the Season, originally performed by The Zombies, which was amazingly faithful to the original.

I did the encore skip and dashed for the car at the end of the set. Got out of the parking lot in about three minutes flat (not counting the time it took to find the car!)

Oh, noticed that Dave did not play the Taylor T5, which is used in the American Baby video. I read that he used that for the video because they were just about to leave on tour and his other guitars had been shipped off to Australia already.

It's the time of the season
When the love runs high
In this time, give it to me easy
And let me try, With pleasured hands
To take you and the sun to
Promised lands
To show you every one
It's the time of the season for loving

Still Waiting

Gotta love the guy at Sweetwater. He just gave me the monthly call to update me on the status of the Samson USB microphone. They should have them in a couple of weeks...

Friday, July 08, 2005

DMB Tomorrow Night

Dave Matthews Band is playing at the Tweeter Center tomorrow night. I hate the Tweeter Center. Getting out of the parking lot is impossible (figure on an hour and a half wait.) About the only way to get out in a reasonable amount of time is to skip the encore. I hate doing that, but I hate waiting in the parking lot for so long too...

Last year I went and I ran (do not walk) to the car after they left the stage (before the encore) and was out of the parking lot in five minutes flat (I timed it!) Not too sure what I'll do tomorrow. The weather is so miserable tonight; if it's like that tomorrow I might even consider not going! Geez! What a kill-joy I'm becoming!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Nazfest 2005

Nazfest 2003
Originally uploaded by mchgtr.
I finally started to work out some of my summer schedule, and I've decided I'm going to Nazfest 2005.

This is the annual get together of the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum, and it's basically a big get together of Martin guitar fans and players.

I went in 2003 and had a blast, so I'm looking forward to it this year.


It was a repeat, but Dave Matthews Band was on Letterman last night, and I hadn't seen it, so I stayed up to watch.

I wish I hadn't.

Well, Ray Ramano was pretty funny, but DMB gave a rather lackluster performance. Dave seemed into it, but the rest of the band didn't seem that excited. Maybe they need a longer set to stretch their legs?

It might have been worth it if Letterman had actually interviewed Dave (or anyone!) afterwards, but nope...

On a related note: I have a recording of one of Howie Day's performances opening for DMB. Dave came out and introduced him (I think it's great that Dave comes out and introduces people that open for him; that's pretty classy, and rather rare.)

Anyway, Dave sounds like he's three sheets to the wind. He admits to having a hangover, though it sounds like he's working on one, not trying to get over it. Then he makes some joke about Howie's band being entirely made up of fudge. I have no idea what that is about...

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Denon Does iPod

Denon Electronics has announced the S-301 and S-101 home entertainment systems. Features include: front-panel USB port, integrated DVD and receiver, remote control, dual satellite speakers and subwoofer. A “Connect iPod” cable provides access to the iPod’s menu on the home theater screen. All basic iPod features, including volume control, menu navigation, play, stop and skip, can be operated using the Denon remote control. The cable also charges the iPod.

That's the good news...

The S-301 retails for $1,599, while the S-101 system costs $999. Both systems are expected to ship in August.

Eric Clapton - Acoustic Classics DVD

Just picked up the Eric Clapton - Acoustic Classics DVD

It covers a bunch of songs I'm interested in learning, including Malted Milk and Walkin' Blues. I actually have the tab from the unplugged sessions but it's kind of nice to have the visual reference as well. And there's some interesting tips for bits and pieces that just aren't obvious from the tab.

There's also his version of Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out, which I already know how to play, but the version on the DVD is a lot more complex than the version I know.

So far I'd give the DVD a thumbs up (am I allowed to do that, or is it a copyrighted term?) And it's not that expensive; $19.95, though I got it from Elderly for a little less.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Crooked Still

Crooked Still played Club Passim last night. They play bluegrass traditional I guess you'd say, though they jazz it up a lot. This is the second time I have seen them, and they are really great. Aoife O'Donovan has a wonderful voice, and Rushad Eggleston is a great cellist (cello!) and has a really warped sense of humor. Actually they all seem to have a pretty weird sense of humor and the shows are wonderful musically, as well as entertaining and often hilarious!

Check their site for info, as well as to see a photo with an interesting promotional write-up for them:
Crocked Still CAJUN BAND (from Boston) A fantastic 4 pce band with a complete sound

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hand Over Fist

Last night was jam night. David and I are almost getting organized; well I started writing the songs down in a book and now we go back to the list and start with that. So maybe those songs will improve over time.

David said he saw a girl playing Hey Hey My My in the subway the other day and she was making a bunch of money. I guess the classics are popular with people with money. He also said she did a really good cover of it.

We did some Dylan stuff (including Knocking on Heaven's Door and You Ain't Going Nowhere.) David is a big Dylan fan, and I think has a copy of just about every recording that's available. He mentioned that Starbucks is releasing a CD of some early Dylan concert tape.

Tried Sympathy For The Devil but I don't think we did it very well. Not sure it really works on acoustic guitar!

Messed around with changing chords and keys for a few songs. A couple we were doing I found it a lot easier to sing if I moved it up; put the capo on and play it a little higher (like You Ain't Going Nowhere.) I don't think my voice has much of a range. We experimented with playing different chord shapes too (like I played with the capo and he played without, and changing the chords)....easier to do for some songs than others depending upon what chords you have to play!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


Hardly unexpected, but Apple today released an update to iTunes (v. 4.9) that adds support for Podcasting.
Podcasting is radio your way. Defy programming schedules and listen to whatever you want, whenever you want — and on your iPod — wherever you want. Podcasts are radio-style shows — some from major media, others from passionate individuals — delivered over the Internet to your computer. Unlike streaming audio, which requires you to listen in real time, podcasting lets you control how and when you hear your favorite shows.

I downloaded the update to iTunes here at work, but I haven't down anything with it yet other than stumbled around trying to figure what they have (and how to find it.) Some stuff is easy to find, and others maybe not so. I think someone should do a podcast review site. Or maybe a podcast review podcast...

Probably someone already has.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Street Musician

Stumbled across a great site today; Street Musician which is by a guy that plays on the street. Just looking at some of the first posts there's some great stuff; performance tips, changing keys, alternate tunings and much more. I might spend all week reading this!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Harmony Central

Harmony Central is a great music news and info website that's been around for some years. I use it mainly to search for guitar tabs, but it also has user reviews of guitars and equipment that can be interesting, and a long list of manufacturers.

Well they've just announced that they have been purchased by Musician's Friend and though they say they will remain "an independent publisher and forum" you have to wonder; then why are they being bought?

Eh, well not that I care that much about it...

Monday, June 20, 2005

Did Someone Yodel?

Listening to WBOS this evening and just happened across an interesting song The Way I Am by Martin Sexton which I kinda liked......but is that yodelling I hear?!

Oh, oh, and now Jason Mraz is doing an acoustic version of Summer Breeze. I think I am entering the Twilight Zone.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Father's Day!

Gibson Ad
Happy Father's Day!

Gibson has been running a Father's Day campaign. It started with a TV ad with a father tutoring his daughter in the history of rock guitarists. After several tough questions, he says 'I think you're ready.' Cut to the girl and her mother in a guitar store and the daughter points to a guitar and says 'He wants that one!'

I also saw a Gibson Ad in Time magazine this past week.

The real question; did any father get a guitar today?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Back Order

There's a Pedal Board and a USB microphone in back order limbo that one day will find their way to my door.

I hope I remember why I wanted them when they get there.

This weeks car song: Standing in the Sun, Howie Day

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Jam Night

David and I are trying to get more organized. We've been getting together every couple of weeks and just jamming for fun. We've tended to do songs we're interested in each time, but a song might be done once and then forgotten.

So I suggested we make up a kind of set list, and play through the songs each time - adding new songs as we want. Since David had liked Hotel California and we had done that last time, I suggested (via email prior to getting together) that we start with that one.

So that was the plan, except we never did Hotel Clifornia. Instead, we started with 16 Tons, then moved to The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, and I took out the Last Waltz DVD and we watched that to try and figure out the beginning and what happens at the end of the chorus.

I also like Helpless which is also on the DVD, so we watched that, then I found the chords. It's a good Neil Young song; three chords. The listing on Olga said it was D - A - G, but when we played the DVD it was obvious they were playing it: C - G - F. I think I like that better.

David then mentioned that he had read somewhere on the web that you can see that Neil Young snorted Cocaine prior to going on stage as you can see some powder on his nostril. According to Wikipedia
The release of Martin Scorsese's movie of the concert was delayed while Scorsese re-edited it to deemphasize the lump of cocaine clearly visible hanging from Young's nose during his performance of "Helpless".

David just bought a Zoom multi-effects pedal via Craigslist. We spent some time playing with that; I liked the more subdued stuff than the way out effects that make an acoustic guitar sound like Jimi Hendricks is playing it.

Finished the evening with Loneliness House by Greg Brown. Pretty simple but captivating song; might be interesting to do with a looper.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Guy Davis

If you like Blues, Guy Davis is a special treat. A great guitar player with a voice like it comes from a gravel pit, he's both a great story teller and a talented bluesman. Some of his pieces start out as stories simply told with a musical accompaniment, that then lead into a song.


He also did a great harmonica piece which involved a story about a train traveling along, passing chickens, a chain gang, hounds and pigs, each part of the story imitated on the harmonica. Cool.

If you get a chance to, don't miss him.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Festival 47

Jake Armerding
Originally uploaded by mchgtr.
A while back I wrote a little about the concerts that Club Passim organized to celebrate their 47th anniversary. One of these, the Festival 47, A Concert for Cambridge, was held on a wet Saturday in May.

It was so wet that the last three performers played in the tent behind the stage to the 100-150 people that had stayed despite the weather.

I saw Christopher Williams and Jake Armerding perform on the main stage in the rain, and was tempted to stay for Chris Smither, but I had a party to go to and it was cold and wet...

I've posted a few of the pictures I took; photography was kind of ham-strung by the white tent over the stage, and the rain pouring down.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Keeping In Tune

Peterson makes a range of tuners that are expensive. The VS-II costs more than $200 and for that you'd figure it would change the strings as well as tune the guitar for you.

They have now announced a software version called Strobosoft that runs on Windows XP/2000 as a stand-alone application. A plug-in version is planned, and a Mac version will be available soon.

Standard Version $49.99; Features fully adjustable controls, several preset temperaments. Accuracy: 0.1 cent.

Deluxe Version $79.99; Includes Peterson Sweetened tunings, exclusive Buzz Feiten open string and intonation settings, full Sweetener and temperament package with unlimited user preset locations, user interchangeable tuning presets, oscilloscope, spectrum analyzer, MIDI note number output. Accuracy: 0.1 cent.

Now personally, I'm not a big fan of software tuners; they can be cheap (some are free!) but the problem is that you have to drag your computer around to tune your guitar and that can be a pain even with a laptop.

A friend - whose a bit of a computer geek - was learning to play guitar and found a computer based software program to use to tune his guitar. He was really excited about it and spent forever setting it up and using it to tune the guitar. I think he was more into the geeky-ness factor. My reaction; buy a damn tuner and save yourself the time and aggravation!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Where's Mic?

Sometime ago I came across the Samson C01U, a "Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone" that has a USB plug at the opposite end of it's business end. It's only $80 so it seemed like an interesting little thing to experiment with.

I ordered one about two months ago from Sweetwater, and was told they expected dellivery "at the end of the month." Three weeks later I get a call; they hadn't arrived, but they expected them in a couple of weeks.

Of course they called yesterday; still haven't arrived, but they expect them in early July.

Now, had I been really jonsing to use this thing, I'd be pretty pissed by now. The fact that I was getting it out of curiosity means that I'm kind of ho-hum about it. Part of me is hoping it takes a long time to come....then I'd have a real story.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Mammals

The Mammals played Club Passim last week. They play traditional music, though they jazz in up a lot. Or as The Boston Globe put it:
"The Mammals play old-time string band music the way Jack Kerouac wrote novels - with an abandon born of a deep understanding of structure and form. Their sound is wild, mirthful, and masterful."

Why are music reporters so much better at describing musical acts?

I've seen them before and enjoyed their show a lot. They do a version of Richard Thompson's 1952 Black Vincent that, even though not as good as the original, is pretty damn good.

At one point they mentioned how they had become the center of a small storm over censorship after singing a song about George Bush and people complained and the organization asked them not to do the song again.

There's a description of what happened in an article at The Independent Weekly Don’t Play it Again, Sam

...Ungar’s band, The Mammals, played a set at the Community Coffee Scène Lafayette stage at Festival International on Saturday, April 23. For its encore, the band performed its song “The Bush Boys,” which contains lines such as:

Listen up folks the votes are in
It was anyone’s guess who’d win
Democrats had the higher amount
But they lost ’cause Florida could not count …
You won’t believe what the Bush boys bought.

Ungar was milling about the hospitality tent the following day preparing for The Mammals’ next performance when Festival International VP of Programming Jimmie Duhon approached her and asked her not to play “The Bush Boys” again...

I see on their website that they'll be playing some shows with Arlo Guthrie on his "Alice's Restaurant 40th Anniversary Massacree Tour."

Monday, June 06, 2005


G.A.S. (Guitar Acquisition Syndrome) is a dangerous and expensive addiction. I’ve battled it (unsuccessfully) for several years.

It’s interesting – and almost satisfying – to watch the affliction infest others.

David and I have been getting together for the last few months and jamming. He originally appeared with a red acoustic guitar of unknown origin.

A couple of months later, he bought a Fender acoustic from someone that advertised it for sale on Craigslist. It was a good deal, despite the fact that he spent an additional $75 or so getting it set up.

He was pleased with the new guitar, as unlike the red guitar, it stayed in tune for much longer periods (he later discovered that humidity – or the lack thereof – was one of the reasons the red guitar didn’t stay in tune.)

Flash forward about three months and I get an email from him that reads:

I have my eye on a martin, and wanted to ask your advice on something. This martin does not have a glossy finish on it, so it smells like a carpentry shop. I know it will pick up scratches real easy. My question is, does this make it less stable of a guitar? Is it more likely to warp in severe weather? Or is this a cosmetic thing that won't necessarily affect sound?

He included a link to a page on Martin’s website that didn’t work; it loaded a page that basically was blank, but had the letters D-28 as part of the title, so I assumed he was looking at a D-28.

So I sent this reply:

The link seemed a little broken; it was labelled a D-28, but none of the details came up for some reason. Is that the model you are thinking of getting? The beat up old Martin I have is a 1970 D-28. They last a long time if a little care is taken with them (a guy in Allison Kraus's band Union Station plays a 1930's D-28.)

I don't know about the relative merit's of finishes, but the finish on these will withstand most normal wear and tear.

There's a thread at the Martin Guitar forum about the finish on these guitars; actually the thread is about a rumor that martin was changing the finish – which turned out to be untrue - but there's some interesting info there..

Let me know if you have any other questions and I'll take a stab at them. The Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum (not affiliated with Martin Co.) can be a good source of info!

I also included a link to the thread, but that is now gone as ezBoard was hacked and lost a lot of messages. Ahh, the joys of the Internet; we managed to exchange broken links with one another!

I didn’t hear from him until next week, when he showed up with a new guitar case. Turns out he bought a 000CX1E which he bought at Guitar Center. We did some searching and couldn’t even find the model on the Martin website (they had a black version only.)

Turns out he traded in the Fender.

“You traded it in? But you just got it!”
“Yeah, but it had a buzz. Only I could hear it but it drove me nuts.”

I could understand. I have a guitar with a winter buzz. Despite humidifying it, during winter months it develops a faint little buzz that I find annoying. Can’t do a thing with it other than wait until the spring.

Others might get rid of it, but then I’d just be tempted to buy something else.

David’s new guitar is a nice little box. It’s a cutaway with built-in electronics. Wonder why it was discontinued.

I can't help wondering though; how long until the next purchase?

We ended up getting dinner at the Bollywood Café, and while waiting walked down to The Music Emporium. We didn’t stay lone; I didn’t want to expose David or myself to too much temptation. They have some great guitars, including one I have had my eye on for a while. If it was half the price I’d buy it in an instant; isn’t that always the way?

I wonder if they’d take a trade-in.

Friday, June 03, 2005

The Ticket Gods

I’ve had front row tickets twice in my life. Once was to a James Taylor concert, and those weren’t really mine. A friend had them as part of a season package and couldn’t go that night, so swapped my seventh row tickets (which were for another night.) The other time wasn’t even a concert.

Of course, these days, just getting any seat to a popular concert is a feat in itself. And new technology doesn’t help; if anything it can make for more frustration. How many times have you tried to get tickets to a popular show on the day the tickets go on sale and watch in frustration as your browser fails to connect, load or generates errors in the middle of the transaction?

I thought I had a ticket to the U2 concert this year; and then after entering all my information, and waiting ten minutes on a ‘processing’ screen, an error screen appeared. And when I tried again, there were no tickets available.

Didn’t get tickets to Bruce Springsteen or Dave Matthews Band in Connecticut this year either; though in those cases I didn’t even get to select a ticket.

So I found out that tickets were going on sale this afternoon at 5pm for a summer concert I wanted to see. I checked the accuracy of my clock and had the web page set, just waiting for 5 to roll around.

I hit refresh about ten times, and finally got the ticket screen. Selected the number of tickets, hit the Okay button and got an “index error” screen. Damn! Tried again; same message. Switched to another computer; same thing!

Tried once more on the original browser, and it worked! Entered the details, and got a ticket. Much excitement. It was for Section 2, Row A, which didn’t mean anything; I got excited about getting Row D tickets once, and then found out that the theatre had rows AA, BB etc in front of row A.

But checking the seating chart revealed - assuming that the chart is correct - Section 2 is the center of the theater, and row A is the front row.

I’m excited; even if I had to pay $12.50 in handling and postage charges.

Out of curiosity, I tried again a couple of minutes later to see what row I’d get, and it offered me row E tickets, so you have to move fast!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

iTunes Royalties And Other Things

A friend and I were recently discussing the iTunes business model, and trying to figure out who made what on each song. This was partly prompted by the whole Pepsi free song deal and how that all worked financially, but I digress.

At the time I did a web search and found some information, but wasn’t sure how accurate it was. A recent suit over royalties for Tom Waits early catalog provides some interesting information.

The suit itself is also interesting because it centers on what royalties should be paid to Third Story (the publisher of Wait’s early catalog) for downloaded music.

[...] under the terms of the two contracts, Waits was entitled to royalties of either 25% or 50% from revenues derived from third-party licenses. Third Story maintains that digital music downloads constitute a form of third-party license, and that Waits is entitled to payment at that level.

In 2003-04 royalty statements to Third Story, WMG computed royalties from Waits' digital download sales at the same (and much lower) rate as royalties from the sale of physical product. Under the terms of the '70s Asylum contracts regarding album sales, Waits would be entitled to either 9% or 13% of the 67 cents received by WMG from each 99-cent download.

More On iTunes Royalties

An interesting post:

If you are an independent artist and would like to have your music on iTunes you can, for example, sign up with who will then get your music on a number of distribution services, including iTunes. The royalty you get from them is 59 cent (they get 65 from iTunes and keep 9 % of it), MUCH more then any signed artist would get.

...of course, you have to do all your own promtion...

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Mark Twain Played A Martin

I've seen this before, but I thought it was kind of interesting;

Mark Twain, one of America's greatest literary legends, was a passionate guitarist and singer during the 19th century's Romantic era [...}

Twain obtained this Martin guitar, style 2 1/2-17, shortly after the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. It was built by C.F. Martin Sr. in 1835, the same year that Twain was born[...]

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Audio Interfaces

I've been looking for a USB audio interface to use with my iBook. I really want to find something not too large or expensive, but it seems the more I research, the more confused I get!

I'm currently looking at the Tascam US-122 and the Edirol UA-25, but as I said, I'm getting more confused as I go; and I have found other products too!

Some of the music instrument sites have reader comments, which can be a way to find out more about devices; or it can just end up confusing you more.

There's an interesting resource at the "Audio Field Recording Equipment Guide"

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Recording Tip #1

When using a side-address condenser microphone, it works much better if you identify the 'front' of the microphone, and point that side at the audio source.

Seriously! Doh!!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pedal Board

I've been thinking of getting a pedal board to keep some pedals together rather than have them floating around in a bag. There's quite a few to choose from, and they aren't inexpensive. This one looks good as it has a built-in power supply, a hard top (SKB makes some cheaper pedal boads but they have a soft bag, not a hard cover) and hey, a life-time warranty. I have generally been happy with SKB cases I have bought.

It's been interesting reading the user reviews for different pedal boards on some of the music supply sights. Pedal boards seem to be something that really provokes the emotions of users. I just have to measure my pedals and see if they will fit in the space available (27" x 15").

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Since I don't write my own songs, I guess I can be considered a cover artist (if I can use such grand a term for jamming away on songs I like.) And because of this, I have developed a fascination with covers that "real" artists do of songs I like.

For example, I really like the cover of Wall of Death by REM. Got it playing on the iPod right now...

Yesterday the sound track to I Am Sam arrived. It's a movie that I never saw, but the sound track has a bunch of artists performing Beatles songs*; so I had to get it.

If you are thinking of getting a copy for yourself, note that there's at least three different versions of the album out there; the original with 17 tracks, a foreign import with 19 tracks, and an 'extra tracks' version with 20 songs. I bought the latter, but quite frankly, I don't think you gain a lot with those extra songs...

The first playing of the CD was somewhat of a bust. Sarah McLachlan does her usually excellent work on Blackbird and Eddie Vedder's You've Got to Hide Your Love Away is spell binding, but Ben Harper seems to be channeling Cat Stevens on Strawberry Fields and Golden Slumbers never worked for me as a song on it's own; it needs Carry That Weight to finish it off. It might have worked had Ben Folds version been drastically different from the original; but it isn't.

It seemed that for the last half of the album, each song was worse than the preceding one; Nick Cave's Let It Be, just about broke my heart.

Most disappointing (though not the worst song on there by a long shot) was Howie Day's cover of Help!

I have a live tape of him performing Help! solo, and despite the poor quality of the recording, it's phenomenal. The Beatles original - despite the title and lyric - is performed as an upbeat, fast rocker. In the live performance Howie slows it down, simplifies the accompaniment, and his voice really makes it sound like he's in therapy looking for help, rather than singing a rock song.

But either someone over-produced the cut on the album, or Howie's on Prozac, as the CD version - though it starts almost as slowly - adds in electric guitar and way too much "stuff" so that it loses all the charm of the acoustic cover. Howie almost sounds happy.

Okay, I'll quit complaining as I know I couldn't do anything half as good, but still; 'Uggh.'

By the end of the CD I was thinking I'd file it away and never play it again, but I gave it another go this morning. On second hearing, things weren't quite as bad as they seemed; but that may just be damning it with faint praise.

If only you could buy You've Got to Hide Your Love Away and a couple of tunes that you like (if you do) from iTunes; but they only have the partial album available, and none of the songs I'd have bought....hmmm.

*Full disclosure; yeah I am a big Beatles fan and that might color my attitude to these songs, but I can think of lots of cover's of Beatles songs I have liked.