Saturday, March 31, 2007

Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds

I'm a huge fan of Dave Matthews, and possibly an even bigger fan of his "solo" concerts with Tim Reynolds. I've seen them twice live, and of course have the Live at Luther College CD as well as several recordings from shows they have given.

But woe is me. I saw an announcement that they were going to play at Radio City Music Hall on April 22 and decided it was too expensive to go down there for a show; but I missed the announcement that they will be playing at Amherst College, MA on April 21 (and the tickets are all sold out now. :( )

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Massey Hall

I got the Neil Young at Massey Hall CD/DVD package a few days ago. The audio CD is definitely worth getting; great performances of classic Neil songs.

The DVD is an interesting beast; the footage is fairly low quality (maybe shot on 16mm or even 8mm) and it has a lot of grain to it either as a result of the poor lighting, the film stock, or both. While the performances are fairly well shot, there's nothing of the pre-post song banter [NOTE: I've read that the audio is from the Massey Hall concert, but that the footage might actually be from a different concert of similar vintage, and that's why there's no footage of the banter, etc.]

It's certainly an interesting window on what it was like to see Neil play back then, but I'm not sure that it really makes for compelling viewing; I'm not sure that I'm going to watch it again and again.

There is some interesting ancilliary footage, and the 'Extras' are definitely worth a look, if nothing else than to see the person he wrote the song 'Old Man' about.

Lap Tapping

My first exposure to guitar tapping was seeing Kaki King opening for Richard Thompson. Blew me away that you could play a guitar that way.

Today I came across a clip of Erik Mongrain, who plays 'lap tapping' (essentially the same as regular tapping, but sitting down!) Pretty amazing.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Gibson Guitar Stuff

Not that I'm a huge Gibson guitar fan, but they announced a few days ago the Gibson Custom Shop Jimmy Page 1275 "Aged" Double Neck Electric Guitar at $30,000 each, and now they have announced that they have sold out nine of the 26 they plan to make.

Well, fun.

Even more fun; they have announced the "Cleveland Rocks! Guitar Art Project," which sounds vaguely like the decorated cow parade that has attacked many cities. In this case, local artists are invited to paint/decorate a guitar, which will be auctioned off for charity.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

McCartney Signs With Starbucks

Starbucks has been dabbling in music for some time, but now they are getting serious - guess there's just not enough money in coffee. Paul McCartney is the first artist signed to Starbucks Corp.'s new record label, Hear Music.

In terms of album sales, McCartney's chart topping days are past; but he's still a big name.

Starbucks seems primarily interested in astablished acts that appeal to baby boomers (didn't they distribute Dylan and Stones albums?) it's not clear how they would - or if they could - handle fledgling acts.

Colbert And Nelson

I've been a fan of the Colbert Report since it began. It has it's ups and down's, and sometimes it seems a bit repetitive - or maybe I just need a break - but some days it's just magic.

Yesterday's show was one of those. Willie Nelson was the guest, and there was a running gag about Willie's ice cream (Ben & Jerry's have released ice cream for both Willie and Stephen.) Then Stephen brought out Ambassador Richard Holbrooke to broker peace.

All good fun, but then it went one better when Willie performed "On the Road Again," Stephen came out and joined him on the second verse, and then Holbrooke came out and sang with them too! And stage manager "Bobby" got to play rhythm guitar guitar with Willie - lucky b$##%!!

Maybe not great music, but a fun moment.

Robber Soul Cover Using Legos

Digger Digger Dogstar on Flickr has posted a series of Beatles album covers remade using Legos. They are pretty cute. Rubber Soul is my favorite, along with the Hard Day's Night cover.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mojo Does Sgt Peppers

The March issue of Mojo Magazine has a cover story on Sgt Peppers that has some interesting stuff; interview with George Martin, pics, a list of things that happened the day the album was released, and a CD of covers songs. The latter is kind of interesting; if only because the cover of All You Need Is Love had me thinking that Ringo could have done a better job. Ouch

The only track I really like is the version of Getting Better by Fionn Regan (never heard of him before.) It's a very spare, slowed down acoustic track, and since I like that sort of thing, I like that sort of thing. The rest I have a lot of difficulty listening too (and it's not because I hate all covers; there are a bunch of Beatles covers I do like....just none on this album.)

There were still a bunch at Barnes & Noble last Sunday, but since the magazine website already has June on it, you might want to step lively to get a copy.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Making of a D-28

Acoustic Guitar magazine has an article (with pictures) showing the steps in building a Martin D-28. Even though I've done the tour three times, it is interesting because you don't really get to see each of the steps in order...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Neil Young - Live at Massey Hall

The first I heard of this was yesterday when I went to Amazon and there was a sample video from this new album/DVD package. It looks very interesting. In trying to find out more about it, I came across a Neil Young News blog, which features a review.

Live at Massey Hall more than just captures Neil Young's triumphant return to his Canadian home town Toronto on January 19, 1971. It provides an intimate portrait of the artist opening himself up to his audience while becoming more confident and comfortable with his rising fame. While Live at Massey Hall has circulated as a bootleg for many years, this is the first time we hear a superb soundboard quality recording that fans have been yearning for with the Archives release series.

[...]In what appears to be an edited recording of 2 performances (early and late shows), the 17 song CD allows us to hear virtually what the Toronto audience experienced over 35 years ago.
If you read much more, you hear about The Archives, which I gather is an all-encompassing venture that Neil has been working on that covers other unreleased material. It *seems* that Massey Hall is a connected - but separate - part; i.e. The Archives, which is expected later in the year, won't include the Massey Hall material. At least, that's what I get from reading the reports on the blog...

[NOTE: I was going to include an image of the album cover, but Blogger isn't allowing me to upload images right now.]

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Home Recording Advice

An interesting thread on Harmony Central with some good tips on mixing home audio projects:

...use an EQ to cut the low frequencies (up to as high as 250Hz) in every track, save the bass drum and bass guitar. Cut them too, but only up to 60Hz maybe.

You can find spectrum analyzers that will help you see where frequencies are piling up, but you should mix with your ears. Start low cutting your tracks, and see how that changes things. Also, don't solo your tracks while you EQ - you likely won't like the sounds of your tracks while they're soloed, but they'll fit better in your final mix.

To get some definition on the kick drum, I found the fundamental frequency of the 'click' of the drum beater, and boosted that a bit. I found a boost around 100Hz helped too.I cut the bass guitar in about the same 100Hz region too.
Listening to [your] mixes in a great room and fabulous speakers is a revelation... a general rule I only leave the kick, snare, bass and lead vocal in the center. Only on very rare occasions will anything take over that coveted real estate. Often I'll pan things hard right and left.

If there is a sound (like acoustic guitar or backing vocals) that I want to position so that it is audible in both speakers, i'll often use a stereo delay set at 100% wet, where the left delay is set to 0 ms (no delay) and the right is set to somewhere between 5 and 15 ms. Just that little shift is enough to throw the sound to the sides and leave the center clear for the most essential information, while being virtually indistinguishable to the ear.

Use reverb sparingly. Too much (or poorly eq'ed) reverb makes for all kinds of mess.
Get a hold of a spectrum analyzer, sometimes called a Real Time Analyzer or RTA. I use Voxengo GlissEQ which is just an amazing eq in itself, and is also a fantastic SA. [...]

Try a limiter, multi-band compressor or sonic maximizer. Be careful because it's easy to overdo it and squash the crap out of (or maybe into?) your music...
...Listen to sgt pepper on your monitors over and over again.

Mix at lower volumes. really low even. definately helps with vocal and bass placement and ear fatigue.

Occasionally switch to mono to make sure nothing is sticking out of the stereo field too much (or disappearing).