Steam-Powered Record Player

Go ahead and stop paying ConEd

A friend of mine has a rustic summer cottage on a private island pm a river. There is no electricity. This lack of everything modern is one of the main charms of the place except when it comes down to music listening: You can go through dozens of batteries in a week just powering a portable stereo which is both environmentally suspect and expensive. If only i knew this thing was available.

Source:
Steam-Powered Record Player
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Gesture-based Music Apps are Getting Good

Jimmy Page at the Theremin

I have been watching music mobile apps that harness accelerometer and gyroscope for a while. Many of these implementations have been pretty clumsy and toylike rather than offering a serious expression alternative that a serious musician/DJ might be tempted to use. This new $20 AirJ is looking really powerful. You can see it in use with Ableton Live here:  Sonic State – News (Video Item) BPM10: AirJ App Transmits Native MIDI Over Wifi

Put your hands in the air and trigger something.

RIP Solomon Burke

I have been listening to Solomon Burke today. Sadly, the eccentric showman credited for helping to keep the lights on at Atlantic Records in the early 60s has died. Burke had a subtle vocal style and wide eclectic influences that earned him respect from a range of artists. This has made his music wound tightly into the DNA of American Soul and Rock.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEu8DrO9PbY

Books by Musicans about Creating

David Bowie Diamond Dogs
Fold Out from Bowie Diamond Dogs LP

The creative process is often a solitary, tortured and somewhat mysterious act. I am always interested in learning how great artists (and great software developers for that matter) find a way to stimulate their creative mind, focus and produce their work. Aside from David Bowie’s new book ‘Bowie: Object’, there are a few other books by musicians on my list that interest me because of their promise to reveal parts of this puzzle.

Check out Thunder Soul

Anyone who knows me knows that I am often talking about how important it was for me that I had the opportunity to participate in a great high school music program. You can understand then how excited I am to see Thunder Soul – Mark Landsman’s documentary about the great Kashmere Stage Band from Texas and it’s innovative leader Conrad Johnson. This is the tightest, funkiest highschool band I have ever heard. I can’t imagine anyone not coming out of this film and demanding better support for the arts in ALL of our public schools.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4wFlZFF28Ps

Tim Perlich has written a great post on the back story of the project at  The Perlich Post: Thunder Soul takes over Hot Docs.

Marvin Isley

One of the funk bass greats has left us today. Marvin Isley was responsible for laying down the law for the crossover hits that kept the Isley Brothers on the radio for much of the 70s. Here are some great live Soul Train performances from 73-4.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAKfiP1oySg

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P6bC8GvSHxU

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x04iW-J6EhA

RIP Herb Ellis

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=337hbXJD9vk

I can almost always pick Ellis even when he is doing ‘strictly rythym’ percussive accompaniment as he does in the lead off here.  We will miss his clean, hard driving swing and unpretentious playfulness but we have lots of great records to listen to and I am sure OP is glad to see him up there in Jazz Heaven.

Mary Kaye Trio

I stumbled across this post on boing boing about the Mary Kaye Trio. I have heard this excellent singing group in various compilations but did not realize that she was the founder of the Vegas lounge show itself. These late night shows were credited with greatly expanding the success of the nascent casino industry by creating the party atmosphere that kept people awake and gambling the night away.  I had no idea. I am once again humbled by the interweb. Mary Kaye was one impressive lounge singer:

  • She was a Spanish guitar virtuoso and played the first fender Stratocaster. The 1954 Mary Kaye model is one of the most valuable models in existence.
  • She is descended from Hawaiian royalty in the line of Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s last reigning monarch.
  • In 1961, the trio were paid the $250,000 for a 22-week gig at the Sahara – that is $1,7M in modern dollars.

Still feeling like we have evolved to a higher plain of consciousness now that Celine rules the City of Lights? Then there is no hope for you.

Microphone Love

RCA 77 ribbon mic
RCA 77 ribbon mic

I have come to realize that a healthy lust for classic microphones is something to be proud of.   It shows an appreciation for the quality of a time gone by. It indicates a romantic desire to hold a beautiful sound in one’s hand. It is one of the affinities that separates men from apes. When I was a teenager I used to enjoy listening to the crusty old local jazz pros debating the relative merits of various models of RCA ribbons like some would argue sports cars. I am afraid I was never the same. My favorite mic site:

coutant.org