You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.

Apparently D’Angelo is back in action. This is good news, because his most recent album (now 12+ years old) is easily in my top ten albums of ALL TIME.

Be sure to watch the videos in the link above. Pino on bass, Chris Dave on drums… and D’Angelo has some pretty sick moves. Although, I’m not sure I’m feeling the more aggressive tempos on the tunes…

 

So, I’m playing with the synth-pop band Owl City now, and the first two shows with them were this week. We played in Anchorage, AK on Wednesday, and last night we played the Silver Lake Music Festival in Pattaya, Thailand. Akira Jimbo was playing a couple acts before us on the mainstage, and I met him and got this picture… although he made fun of my Droid and told me I needed an iPhone.

I had a Twitter conversation with some friends a few months ago about Pearl Jam’s debut record, Ten. I had been told by a few trustworthy sources that session great Matt Chamberlain had played drums on that record, ghosting then-drummer Dave Krusen. BUT… I hadn’t listened to the album for some time. I listened to it all the way through on the plane yesterday and I am now comfortable officially stating that Krusen DID play on Ten, as the liner notes state. Or maybe it wasn’t Krusen, but it definitely was NOT Chamberlain. The sound, the feel, the ideas… they don’t square with everything else I’ve heard from Chamberlain.

So, if you’ve ever heard that rumor, or if I’ve even told you that rumor… I don’t think it’s accurate.

Carry on.

Miles Davis meets Kenny G, reacts appropriately…

This morning I spent some quality time in traffic on my way to a rehearsal. However, I arrived at the rehearsal in one of the best moods I’ve been in this year, because I was listening to Bill Frisell’s Good Dog Happy Man album during the drive, and the traffic made the trip long enough for me to make it through the whole record. I cannot overstate how much I love that album.

The great Jim Keltner plays on that record, and his performance is tear-evoking. After lamenting the fact that Keltner plays on only one other Frisell record (Gone Just Like A Train), I realized that Frisell’s records feature an INCREDIBLE list of sick drummers giving sick performances. Elvin Jones, Matt Chamblerlain, Joey Baron, the late Paul Motian… these are some of my absolute favorite drummers in all of history, and they all play on Frisell records!

Please immediately go purchase:

1. The above-mentioned Good Dog Happy Man
2. Floratone (featuring Matt Chamberlain’s crazy awesome tones and live looping/effects)
3. Frisell/Holland/Jones (featuring Elvin’s signature elastic time feel)
4. Frisell/Driscoll/Baron (featuring Joey Baron’s amazing ideas and pocket)
5. Frisell/Carter/Motian (featuring Paul Motian’s awesome broken feel and endlessly interesting ideas)

All of these albums are incredibly beautiful, but also quite different from each other. Ahh, Bill Frisell… I love you so much.

Cool concept, although I thought they picked some lame ones compared to fills that I’d choose…

HT: Earnest

I’m assuming most anyone who pays attention to my blog is already familiar with Dirty Loops and their recent wave of youtube videos. Stunning pocket and ideas from these guys, not to mention complete command over their respective roles in the band…

Here’s the discussion for today: Does this video change your perception of the song they’re playing? Are you the kind of person that immediately dismisses Rihanna’s music as “crappy pop” without ever hearing it? Does her production and vocal alone account for the music snobs thumbing their noses?  Do Dirty Loops give the song new cred simply because they’re great players? What if the actual Rihanna version had always been like this, but just with her voice on top?

I think the Dirty Loops do a great job of exposing the genre-ism in all of us.

Wow. Awesome conversation on this issue, everyone!

In case you missed it, I posted some talking points and discussion questions about the issue of music piracy yesterday, and great comments ensued. Below is a quick summary of noteworthy points made, with quotes uncredited (just read the actual comments if you want to see who said what).

Ultimately, piracy is, according to the law, stealing. But “stealing” itself is perhaps a more difficult and complex concept than this, especially given the vague nature of the piracy laws’ wording, and the difficult-to-pin-down consequences of a lossless replication technology such as mp3s.

The water is further muddied by the “we all do it” ethic, which, considering the example of speed limits that even police officers regularly ignore, reminds us that some laws were never intended to be enforced to the letter. But a lack of enforcement doesn’t legitimize the “we all do it” ethic, because while the fact that “we all do it” is maybe a good excuse, it is no real ETHIC at all.

So it seems the issue of piracy revolves mostly around consumer demand and old vs new business models. Mp3s and the iTunes distribution platform changed the game in the music industry, and although the new playing field is still unstable, consumers still behave as they always have. If content can be easily obtained for a price that seems fitting to the consumer, then it will be purchased and not stolen.

Thus ends the summary of comments/discussion on yesterday’s post, so now I’m throwing in my two cents…

Laws don’t work very well when their express intent is to merely enforce old business models. Personally, I’m convinced that this is the bottom line of current piracy laws. Seth Earnest pointed out that, in 1992, my Pearl Jam radio-recorded mix tapes were actually not illegal at all. Nobody was accusing mixtape composers of “stealing” back then, and no new developments have been discovered in the ethics realm over the past 20 years. What has changed is the PERCEPTION of whether after-market duplication helps or hurts the businesses involved. Record labels and distribution companies PERCEIVED that grainy cassette duplications wouldn’t hurt their sales, but would rather probably help their music be promoted and distributed. But the perception reversed when the digital revolution happened, and now the after-market duplication all of a sudden poses a threat. But… this is all just perception, and as such completely unprovable. If it had always been apparent that what we now call “piracy” actually helps the music industry, then laws against piracy would probably never even have been introduced. But it is all speculation. Sure, there are stats to show how many people have pirated music or how many downloads have happened illegally, but there is no way to prove that those doing the pirating would have otherwise made legitimate purchases. Huge grey area there.

I’m venturing into waters I don’t necessarily trust here, so bear with me as I think out loud (um, in print). Consider the oil industry. They haven’t enacted any laws to stop the development of electric automobiles. Rather, it appears they just bought all the electric auto technology and sat on it, insisting on operating with the same oil-based fuel revenue model that they’ve had for the last 80 years, presumably because the infrastructure of this model is too big to easily reconfigure to adapt to electric cars. If the music industry perceived that mp3 file technology was a threat to their 1992 model, then they should have just bought the technology and squashed it. There are no laws against that kind of business behavior, as far as I know. That’s a sucky reality of capitalism for consumers, but it’s a reality nonetheless. The mistake for the music industry was deciding that mp3 technology was too big to squash while simultaneously deciding that the 1992 music sales model was too big to change.

Case in point: iTunes originally had an agreement with the labels that they distributed for, an agreement that mandated all files sold through iTunes would be encrypted with a code to protect against after-market duplication (Fairplay DRM). This was the record label’s doing, according to Steve Jobs, and Jobs thought it a pretty dumb idea. And then, in 2009, the LABELS (not Apple) changed their minds, and the DRM encryption was dropped from iTunes files. This change of heart was the result of sales INCREASING on DRM-free experiments like Amazon.

Wait, the “protection” against piracy ends up producing less sales, so you ditch it? So… you were never concerned about piracy anyway, were you? Of course not. Businesses don’t care about ethics, laws, or piracy. They care about profit and sales. The laws about piracy were brought about by concerned businesses, but the concerns were never ethical. The “stealing” rhetoric is simply an attempt to put the larger world of ethics and morality on the side of the concerned businesses. As was rightly pointed out in yesterday’s comments, real STEALING is when I take something from you so that you no longer have it. Copying/sharing mp3s is merely utilizing the aspects of a technology the way they were designed to be utilized.

Closing thoughts…

“Hey! You can’t put the soda fountain itself in the lobby of the restaurant! Then people will just refill their soda whenever they want instead of paying for more of it. That’s STEALING! Oh wait… maybe we should just offer free refills as part of our beverage service? That would be new and competitive of us! No, no… let’s not. Taco Bell already did that. I know! Let’s get those amazing new special soda cups that create more soda every time you take a sip! And this additional magic soda won’t cost us anything, because of the magic cup! Everyone will want to try it! But… we should make a law prohibiting anyone from sharing a sip with their friends. That way we can bask in our amazingly lower overhead costs (because the magic cups cost almost nothing to manufacture), and force everyone to buy soda the way they always have, pretending as if the magic cup technology doesn’t even exist! This idea won’t backfire on us, will it?”

More closing thoughts…

“No! You can’t buy an electric car! Your car will run without gas then! And every mile you drive without using gas is like STEALING money from those of us who sell gas and have always assumed that to be the only fuel for a vehicle.”

“Um, sorry dude… the electric car is what I want. Why don’t you just start building electric cars instead of drilling for oil? Or maybe you could make your gasoline cheaper than electricity. Or maybe you could invent a special glass that magically refills your soda every time you take a sip. Oh… Apple already did all of that? Hmmm… I see. So, what used to be your pie is now their pie and your pissed about it. Yep, that sure is a bummer for you. But I still like my electric car.”

With all of yesterday’s hoopla about SOPA, it’s maybe time to pose this topic for discussion: What constitutes piracy? How and when is it committed? What role does the owner of a copyrighted product have in preventing/promoting the piracy of their product?

Follow up questions: Was using my cassette player to make a grainy and bad-sounding duplication of a radio station broadcast of Pearl Jam’s “Alive” an act of piracy? Was making a “mix tape” for my friends in high school an act of piracy? What do I do if I want a copy of an out-of-print album that is not available in mp3 format?

Additional talking point: iTunes used to have a barrier (protective code) on their mp3 downloads, which the record labels that used iTunes insisted upon, fearing that they would lose money if users were allowed to freely transfer their mp3s to one another. Now the labels have changed their minds, realizing that they will actually SELL MORE mp3s if they don’t have the protective code. How does this decision affect the piracy discussion?

These are questions I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, and it’s been difficult to find a solid framework on which to build conclusions, despite each side of the argument acting as if the answer is obvious. Let’s get some conversation going here…

“It takes years of listening to find a drum part that perfectly suits a particular song. When I first started drumming , I just wanted to play a cool part I had been working on. Now what I want to play doesn’t matter… just make the song great!”

“Part of your musical growth , when you decide to play drums professionally , is to play on everything and anything. You will improve your skills, listening and ability to adapt to different musical styles and an artists mood and temperament. Music relationships are an important benefit of your visibility as a drummer.”

It goes without saying that reading Facebook status updates rarely leaves one with the feeling of having learned something, but lately I’ve been getting golden quotes like the above and many more at drummer Greg Herrington’s page. Well, technically it’s not his personal page, but the promo page for his recently-released book Drumming Career, The Next Step. Herrington plays for Martina McBride, as well as frequent session work in Nashville (Geoff Moore, Audio Adrenaline, others).

I haven’t read the book yet, but I’ve been paying attention to his Facebook statuses for a few months now and it has been worth it.

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