Archive for 2010-08

Benefit Concert for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

02010-08-31 @ 13:08

Ottmar Liebert – Tour Schedule: Benefit Concert for Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
OL + Luna Negra at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque on September 30th.
You can buy tickets here – select “Search by Event” field and scroll down to Ottmar Liebert & Luna Negra.

Monday Music

02010-08-30 @ 07:08

Cedar Smoke. Recorded live at the HoB in Houston on 2010-07-31.

Audio MP3

You can download a 320kbps mp3 file here.

The guitar doesn’t sound 100% in tune throughout, but I like the energy of the performance.

Saturday in Santa Fe

02010-08-29 @ 07:08

A few links:

Tiny cardboard people appear all over Singapore – very cute.

Great idea, although I don’t love the execution.

A blobject gif from the nearly always entertaining CoyotePact.

Thursday in Santa Fe

02010-08-27 @ 16:08

Rode the Bullitt to Counter Culture for breakfast with Jon, which went on for nearly two hours – we don’t eat that slowly, but we sure talk a lot! Then I picked up mail and stopped by Mellow Velo to see David. He was going to help me find a different, curved handlebar, but wasn’t there, probably busy with his upcoming move down the street. The Bullitt is set up to be a racer’s cargo bike, light and fast, but I don’t like how much weight rests on my hands that way. I sure enjoyed the relaxed riding position of our manager’s Dutch bike… I am looking to do something like this.

Added a Y. sticker to he Bullitt:

In the afternoon I spent four hours in the studio, checking out progress on the re-release of The Santa Fe Sessions. I prepared three more tracks for Jon’s bass and keyboard work and made notes about adding new percussion and palmas. I think it will be a very nice album, quite different from the 2003 version.

More thoughts about the internet…

Once upon a time we thought it would be a great idea to connect everything with four or ten lane streets, to reconfigure all cities for cars, and to move homes to the suburbs. That was in the Sixties and Seventies, not really that long ago. Certain New York city council members are to be remembered fondly for resisting a big freeway that was supposed to cross Manhattan, and for inventing the term “mixed use”, allowing residential AND commercial real estate next to, and on top of each other instead of in ghettos… well, they didn’t invent the idea, because that’s how people have lived since ancient times, the butcher lived in an apartment above his store, like the shoe-maker and so on, but they had to come up with the catchy name “Mixed Use” to stop the terrible advancement of commercial-only real estate, which one might also call the desertification of cities.

Now we are betting on the internet and my gut tells me that one day, perhaps not that far into the future, we will realize that, just as a city created solely for cars is in fact soulless, lifeless, dull, and certainly inhuman in scale. The Internet works for some things and not for others. It should have never replaced the walk to the local pub for a beer and a conversation.

City planning circa 1960-1980 is the best analogy I can find for the internet. It works surprisingly well, I find.

There is the digital homogenization of humanity:

swissmiss | Our Digital Crisis
Most online experiences are made, like fast food, to be cheap, easy, and addictive: appealing to our hunger for connection but rarely serving up nourishment. Shrink-wrapped junk food experiences are handed to us for free by social media companies, and we swallow them up eagerly, like kids given buckets of candy with ads on all the wrappers”.

We all know that email is just hanging on against the advance of spam – like using a broom to keep the sandstorm from burrying one’s home… And maybe the Internet is broken already. See this article about Google search results being manipulated: Google get gamed by a crappy content farm.

I am not dumb enough to proclaim the Internet dead, as Wired magazin wrote on the cover of their latest issue – didn’t read it, but heard about it – but the shiny paint has come off. Like cars and badly engineered cities, the internet will be around for decades to come, flaking paint, potholes, rust and all…

I like what Neo bohemia wrote about autotune.

Monday in Santa Fe

02010-08-24 @ 17:08

Yesterday I listened, again, to the wonderful album A State of Wonder, which contains both the 1955 and 1981 recordings of the Complete Goldberg Variations, performed by Glenn Gould. I really like the 1981 version. Glenn Gould stopped performing in 1964, at age 32, and until his death in 1982 he only performed for the microphone. He recorded 50 hours worth of music.

Of course, he could not do that nowadays, with so few willing to pay for recordings. What a shame, had he not been able to live outside the concert stage… working strictly on recordings. Surely it would be our loss, and I wonder how many great hours of music will we never hear, because making albums – and never touring – is no longer viable.

Lately every time I watch a short video on the web that utilizes somebody’s music, I also view the video without the music, and then I try to calculate how much of the atmosphere was actually contributed by the music. Most of the time the music is really important (((duh!!))), but the composer or performer are not getting one damn cent while the manufacturer of the camera was paid, a host of people involved were paid (((or were asked and agreed to work for free))) and of course Google makes their advertising money. Where is the outrage? Why have we all swallowed the internet-line that musicians should be grateful for the exposure they are getting from any video. I would love to know who first came up with that line. Wired magazine? It sure was a convenient meme to latch on to.

Amazing evening light:

Friday Music

02010-08-20 @ 08:08

Untitled new piece, called “New Arabic” on set list, to be recorded for the next LN album. Recorded live at the HoB in Houston on 2010-07-31.

Audio MP3

You can download a 320kbps mp3 file here.

Please do not post or link these files anywhere. The song hasn’t been recorded/released yet. I don’t want to be paranoid about this, but I will search for embedded IDs of these files and if I find them in the wild I will shut down this Journal without further notice. I am not suggesting any one of you would do such a thing… and this notice is likely unnecessary, but…

The music started in April with this post:

Been working with an Arabic scale called Maqam Nakriz. The F is sharp and the B and E are flat: D, Eb, F#, G, A, Bb, C, D

Note the big three half-tone step between the Eb and the F#. Nice scale, very evocative. Here is the first music sketch using that scale, recorded at the dining table with my iPhone and the original Blue Mikey:

Audio MP3

Friday Morning

02010-08-20 @ 08:08

Great sentences. Here is one neo bohemia noted, from Anathem:

August moonlight . music « neo bohemia
“…everyone heard music but only a few actually knew how to make it.”
– Anathem
Neal Stephenson

I enjoyed this sentence yesterday:

Socks were no longer quite so foreign in themselves, but the weight of these, wet, still amazed him.

It’s from Spook Country by William Gibson, which I am rereading, getting ready for the new Gibson novel “Zero History” next month.


In addition to a drinking water crises there will apparently also be a Helium crisis. It’s those damn party balloons!

Un-gifting or un-branding – very funny.

Movement on the education front. Not sure this L.A. Times study is the right thing though. It doesn’t measure a teachers overall ability, only how well s/he does in raising test scrores. I am not convinced that all this standardized testing is the way children learn best. I remember fondly those moments that were not at all related to testing, when a teacher would take 30 minutes or an hour to talk about something that was often quite unrelated to the subject of the class, but inspired us and made us see a different angle.

Terrible! We need a redesign of cities:

Marginal Revolution: Parking fact of the day
Several studies have found that cruising for curb parking generates about 30 percent of the traffic in central business districts.

Thursday in Santa Fe

02010-08-20 @ 08:08

Check out the size of this touchscreen:

Touchscreens go mainstream for Tokyo vending machines – Core77
It appears that vending machines of the touchscreen variety could be set to go mainstream in the gizmo-mad megalopolis of Tokyo, if the new machine of local vender aCure, installed today in Shinagawa Station, is anything to go by. Vending machines and touchscreens are coincidentally, perhaps, the two favourite things of the Japanese, so it was only a matter of time really.

The first thing that came to mind was, that would make a great editing tool for music.

David Byrne compares the Interbet to hot water and makes a point for metered data:

David Byrne’s Journal: 08.12.10: “Don’t wash the dishes, I’m going to take a shower!”
Does anyone remember the days when you’d yell out, “Don’t wash the dishes, I’m going to take a shower!”? (For those who don’t, it was because a typical residential hot water heater didn’t hold enough hot water to provide for both usages simultaneously.)

Here is my take on it:
Many years ago I suggested that all industrialized nations pay Brazil to leave the rain forrest alone. A rain forrest tax. The rain forrest is important for the whole planet and yet one can’t expect Brazil not to use these natural resources when every other country already cut down their forrests to develop…

Well, here a similar pay-solution is appropriate.

David Byrne writes:

More and more businesses are emerging based on an assumption that consumers will be able to upload and download limitless amounts of data for a fixed monthly cable fee to their heart’s content. It’s like charging a flat fee for water, and then one day some segment of the population decides they’re going to water their golf course-sized lawns and also add a pool. The reservoirs, the farms and local industry would dry up and shrivel instantly.

I suggest that businesses that are formed on the basis of consumers moving great amounts of data, should pay a fee to the internet provider. Every time a video call is made via Skype, a few cents would have to go to the ISP, every time a person streams a Netflix movie a few cents would go to the ISP. Sure, Skype would have to charge the consumer something and Netflix would raise prices, but probably not much.

Letter to a Young Musician – 7

02010-08-19 @ 11:08

Dear Friend,

How to produce a sound, draw a melody from the strings, is a constant question. You can hold a guitar comfortably, which may choke the sound a little, or you can hold it a little less comfortably and produce a finer tone. Somewhere in between those two extremes lies the perfect way to hold your instrument.

In Flamenco, when the guitar was mainly accompanying singers or dancers and when volume was an important concern in the days before amplification, people often balanced the bottom of the guitar on their right leg. The advantage of this position is that the guitar is loud and sings. Unfortunately the guitar isn’t very stable in this position and has to be held up by the left hand, which is not free to move about the neck.

In the last fifty years most guitarists favor this position: cross your right leg over your left leg. Rest the cut-out of the Flamenco guitar on your right thigh. Lean over so that your body is collapsing on the guitar to a degree. This will put your right hand in a good position to strum the strings and your left hand in a great position to play the neck.

Actually, I haven’t done that during concerts for a couple of years. I have been using a footstool, but while classical guitarists put their left foot on the stool and rest the guitar on their left thigh, I put my right foot on the stool and the guitar ends up in the same position as if I were to cross my right leg over my left leg.

The trick, then, lies is finding a balance between holding the guitar securely and thus enabling both of your hands to move freely, and holding the guitar lightly, so that the instrument isn’t choked and can sing. Similar to many relationships, isn’t it? Hold your lover tightly and set them free – at the same time. How do you do that? With care.

Don’t forget to practice.

Wednesday Repeat

02010-08-18 @ 16:08

This a repeat from last year:

This is a piece I wrote for The Scent of Light. Since it soon became clear that I had more music than would fit on a CD I didn’t end up finishing this one. The title is Two Sisters: Hope + Sorrow, and I wrote it with Rahim’s Iraq in mind. In fact I was going to ask him to play an oud solo after the bass solo, and then I would have recorded a guitar solo after that. This is a rough mix of an unfinished recording, but you will recognize the beginning, which we have played as an introduction to Duende del Amor (from Solo Para Ti) for a few years now.

Audio MP3

You can download the 320kbps mp3 file here.

Tuesday in Santa Fe

02010-08-18 @ 09:08

Plans for 2011:

We are considering a look back at 21 years (3 x 7) of music. A Greatest Hits show of some kind. Current favorite idea: setting up a Bingo cage (((preferbly an old one, with a microphone catching the noise of the balls turning in the cage))) on stage, containing balls with the names of 40 popular songs from the 25 or so albums I have released. When the time comes, I might call upon you to help us select the 40 songs. At the beginning of the performance, and in between songs, I would turn the Bingo cage to select the song to be played. Depending on the venue perhaps an audience member could be invited to turn the Bingo machine. The band would have to learn 40 songs, but that could be done with a couple of weeks of rehearsals. The set, perhaps 15 songs per full performance (((meaning, not in clubs))), would be different every night!

Album releases:
I will finish the re-working of The Santa Fe Sessions for a Spring release. We will also record a new album, which will contain the new piece we started our performances with (((most recent tour))). I think Stephen Duros will have a new album in 2011, well worth the wait! And I have found a very promising, and completely unknown, guitarist who lives in Turkey and France – one of his parents is French, the other Turkish – who will make his debut on SSRI next year.

Wild sunset last week. One can see the rain in the distance:

That’s a water bottle, standing on a rug, in front of a lamp.

Marginal Revolution: What is emblematic of the 21st century?
A recent reader request was:

What things that are around today are most distinctively 21st century?  What will be the answer to this question in 10 years?

Click here to read Tyler Cowen’s picks. Interesting choices, possibly right on, but not very exciting, are they?

P2P Foundation » Blog Archive » Crowdsourced curation, reputation systems, and the social graph
Crowdsourcing is the only curatorial/editorial mechanism that can scale to match the increased ability to produce that the Internet has given us. As the former “consumers” become “producers”, we’re going to see better and better implementations of reputation systems, and better integration with our social graph, because they are the only mechanisms that are feasible, but also because we just love to share. Twentieth century mechanisms for curating/editing are built for a top-down, mass-production age, and they can’t keep up with us, the former audience, as we make the leap into production.”

Hm, I am not looking to have a mechanism, based on reputation systems and a social graph, tell me what to watch, read or listen to.

The Internet is not even twenty years old. What will it look like in a hundred, in five hundred years? Will comments keep accumulating at the current pace, meaning that each item on any shopping site, each video on YouTube, will have been littered with millions of comments? Will comments older than twenty years be deleted automatically? Will people, those who have survived climate change, water scarcity and so on, still use an Internet of some sorts, or will it have disappeared altogether? We stopped using it, because it didn’t work. Just a big bathroom wall, really, with scribbles and taunts and insults and advertisements from billions of people.

Letter to a Young Musician – 6

02010-08-17 @ 21:08

The fine art of dampening strings, or specifically stopping particular notes from ringing and thereby colliding with the other notes that you do want. I learned much about this by watching Jon play bass. The fingers of both of his hands are constantly refining the sound that comes forth from his instrument, adding a slow vibrato here and dampening a string that would otherwise clash with the next harmony.
You can observe this constant vigilance in classical guitarists like Julian Bream. While one finger of the left hand goes to a fret to define the next note, another finger is poised to dampen the string that rang the last note.

I recommend renting a DVD of Bream playing guitar as it is most interesting and educational. (((You might also observe how he bends certain notes to create harmonies that are in tune… the well-tempered scale is a compromise, especially on a guitar, and you will notice when you play an E major chord followed by a C major chord that the G-string, if tuned for the E chord, will sound off when playing the C chord and vice versa.)))

And the faces he makes while playing guitar are very entertaining, also.

This, of course, is most important when changing keys, but is always a good idea because even strings you haven’t plucked or struck with the right hand will ring sympathetically. By dampening those strings you focus more attention to the notes you are playing. Things become clearer, as if a fog has been lifted.

Music and Restaurants

02010-08-15 @ 09:08

Spoke to a young man who works at the Coyote Cafe yesterday. He told me something that is as true in the music business as it is in the restaurant business. Eric DiStefano, who is the owner and chef, told him he would always rather hire a young sous-chef who had a couple of years experience cooking than somebody fresh from cooking school. While the latter might have more theoretical knowledge, it would be unknown whether s/he is able to deal with the enormous stress levels that rule the kitchen of a successful restaurant, while the former is known to be able to cope and can quickly be taught the recipes of the chef. Not unlike soldering, I suppose.

There are lots of books about the music business, and they really don’t convey anything about the experience. Hustling gigs, dealing with some of the shady characters that populate the music scene at ever corner, performing, traveling, living on a bus with 5-16 people (((yes, some crew busses are known to carry nearly twenty people, 12 in the bunks, and the rest in the lounges…))) and so on. There is no school for this. There is no try, only do, as Yoda says.

Friday in Santa fe

02010-08-13 @ 15:08

iPhone photo from my Friday morning walk.

I think people love the idea of the “wisdom of crowds” or “collective wisdom” or “smart mobs”, because it makes them feel part of something larger, and it makes them feel smart, part of the smart crowd. I totally don’t buy it. It’s an illusion peddled by many on the net, some of whom make a lot of money writing books and giving talks on the subject, mostly cobbling together contrived examples to prove their point.

Here is another TED talk about the collective brain, by Matt Ridley – TED loves this sort of talk! This emphasis on the collective devalues the individual contribution. Why pay an inventor or author or musician, when the collective can surely create something equally great. If s/he won’t create that piece of music somebody else will. No need to support the artist. Hm, take an hour to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth and then consider whether ANY crowd could ever accomplish a symphony like that. A crowd might work well up to a certain point, but only an inspired individual can scale that mountain.

I grew up thinking of large groups as mobs, and I still do. Part of that notion certainly comes from going to German schools in the Sixties and Seventies, schools which emphasized teaching their pupils about Germany’s Nazi history, but I have seen similar crowd-mentality all over the world.

Crowds shine when an individual makes them shine. That individual can make the crowd shine or turn it into a a hellish example of the worst humanity has to offer.

The other night I had a dream in which nerds in Google uniforms, which looked a lot like the uniforms of Mao’s cultural revolution army, smashed printing presses and music stores, chanting songs that denounced all prideful individual efforts at creating, and praised the scanning of all books and digitizing of all music so that henceforth books and music will simply be recombinations and mashups of ALL stories & music that ever were. They smashed violins, just like Mao’s cadres did in the Fifties, and yelled you won’t need this anymore when all music is digitized, cataloged, analyzed acording to mood and tempo!!

This sort of communism of ideas that pervades the internet is even more surprising in a country that is unable or unwilling to have social health care or a decent public education system. Oh, and isn’t it interesting that computer science it taught in public schools, while art and music has been cut out altogether or cut back to nearly nothing!!

I actually find individual versus crowd arguments to be similar to the absolute versus relative view-points of spiritual discussions. They are postures, intellectual exercises that, in their extreme forms, are silly. One side will not work without the other. Both need to exist side by side, or rather one cannot be without the other. In the end I always arrive at the truth that they are one and the same, indivisible. Two sides of one coin. No, even that is two dualistic a view.

And now a few links:

I think this is the best iPad stand.

You know, this might be a good idea, considering some of the content that claims to be journalism:

Journalism Warning Labels « Tom Scott
Journalism Warning Labels
(Via Daring Fireball)

Love the name, since I like the movie a lot.

Good advice on how to focus on the task at hand.

Voogle Wireless

What a headline: Fructose-Slurping Cancer Could Sour the Soda Business.


Memory Lane

02010-08-11 @ 22:08

This evening I sat zazen as the sun began its slow descend. If you want to take photographs in Santa Fe, do it in the Evening, when the sun lingers for a long time. In the Morning the sun rises so quickly that it appears as if somebody switched it on… Then I celebrated this lovely August day with a walk to Santacafe, where I hadn’t been all year. I sat at the bar, like I used to, ordered the same three small appetizers I would have ordered two decades ago, plus a glass of Super Tuscan wine, and talked to the bartender who had worked there for seventeen years, about the rains that graced our town this Summer – like they used to twenty years ago, before the weather had changed.

After dinner I strolled through town – I can’t bring myself to call it a city – past the library, past the Anasazi Hotel, where we shot interview footage for my first Epic Records press kit in 1992, past the Frank Howell gallery on the corner of the plaza, past the Plaza Bakery, filled with people and once, and maybe still, the highest grossing Häagen Dazs store in the world. I took a left down towards Pasqual’s, and made a mental note to make a reservation there as I haven’t eaten there in nearly a decade – we ate there often while recording “Lava” – followed by a right onto Water Street.

I could swear the bike locked to one of the meters was Michael’s Dahon, and for a moment I listened intently, to find out whether I could hear live music somewhere. But maybe he was downtown to eat, enjoying the warm mid-summer evening.

As I moved on I noticed that Foreign Traders, a store on the corner of Water and Galisteo, had closed and my favorite bookstore in town had moved into the space and added a cafe. I continued on Water street, past the dark backside of a building, where I had more than once climbed up a fire escape to my girlfriend’s window on the second floor. I rounded the parking garage and headed back towards the plaza, thinking about riding a Harley along West San Francisco in the early Nineties.

The band had stopped playing on the plaza a while ago, and the crew had nearly packed everything away, but somebody was still playing percussion and singing, while a crowd kept clapping in rhythm. Left on Lincoln street, then right on Marcy Street. There were still people waiting to get a table in the tiny tapas restaurant La Boca. Diagonally across the street from La Boca used to be La Traviata. The Santacafe bartender and I had talked about that place. Until it closed it was our favorite restaurant in town. I must have gone there for lunch at least two, three times a week in the early Nineties. What was the name of the chef and owner? He was the chef at Santacafe until it burned in 1986. When it re-opened the position was given to Michael Fennelly and X then worked at Carriage Trade, which was where Geronimo is now, before opening La Traviata. I met him at Carriage Trade, where I played guitar three nights a week in the summer of 1987.

I crossed the street, walked past the library, past whatever took the space of the old Video Library, and headed home.

Michael Chavez

02010-08-11 @ 18:08

From Matt’s Flickr stream.

Wednesday in Santa Fe

02010-08-11 @ 17:08

Marginal Revolution: Spontaneous order on the road
Here’s a video of a small town in Britain that turned its traffic lights off.  Order ensued.

I updated the photoblog with new images.

Charles Lloyd recently sent me this link to a video for his new album, which will drop next month. I met Charles in Paris and Tokyo with Yohji Yamamoto in 1991. The new album sounds great!

Gerry on August 11th, 2010 at 03:32
‘For a while I thought that Creative Commons licensing was actually a good idea, but no longer.’
Could you explain a little more? Do you have any advice for musicians/ songwriters about protecting their work? I’ve been thinking about using an indepenent agent such as ‘protect my work’ who charge an annual fee around $50 but don’t know if it’s money well spent.

LAH – that stands for “laughing all hard”, which is the New Mexican version of LOL… I have a hard time believing that you will get much more than a few automated searches for the $50 annualy. Well, plus maybe they’ll send a form letter when they find that somebody is using or sharing your work. Copyright is automatic and you can send CDs to the Library of Congress or ask somebody, who’s done that before, to do it for you. I haven’t dealt with that in a couple of decades, as our publishing administrator takes care of this, but I remember doing this in the Eighties. I am sure you can find instructions somewhere on the internet.

Here are a few thoughts:
– what are you looking for: do you want to perform your music or sell recordings or both?
– do you want to use your recorded music to procure gigs?
– the value of your work increases with its popularity
– the value of your work may also increase because of its rareness (((e.g. clothing from the German fashion label Acronym is only available from a few retailers around the world. Acronym produce a limited amount which is highly sought after and sells out before market saturation)))
– your music is safest if you don’t let anybody hear it (((like keeping a painting in a vault, never showing it)))
– if nobody hears your music, it can’t become popular
– licensing of your music will only occur if the music is heard
– your music will be licensed if it is popular or fresh, or both
– at present protecting one’s music is a bit like trying to hold water in one hand
– do you want to spend most of your time creating music, or chasing after pirates?
– too much protection lowers the chance of the music being widely heard
– too little protection means that everyone already downloaded the music – why should they buy it?

I don’t know whether that helps. The truth is that I don’t have answers, and in fact nobody has answers. Some people (((cough Chris Anderson from Wired cough cough))) have made money from writing about the longtail and from giving talks about it, but I am afraid they are the only ones who have made money from that idea. We are all collectively stumbling about, looking for a way. Culture is moving down a tunnel, blindfolded, trying to determine what might work. In the opinion of many, popular music has never been worse… perhaps and perhaps not.

Last words: some people might suggest giving your music away, so that it might be heard and you gain a certain number of fans. Then you might be able to move to charging for the music or hope that these new fans buy tickets for one of your performances. However, those fans you gained will be fans of your free music and it would remain to be seen whether they would be willing to pay for the same music.

Ha! See, I am not helping at all… now you have likely more questions. Welcome to the rubber raft that musicians are currently in, after that ship that was supposedly iceberg-proof started leaking and went under.

That’s a funny headline… and the article is quite good, too:

Epicenter |
Why Google Became A Carrier-Humping, Net Neutrality Surrender Monkey (UPDATED)

Michael Chavez on Drums

02010-08-11 @ 17:08

From Matt Callahan’s Flickr stream.

Spontaneous order on the road

02010-08-11 @ 10:08

Marginal Revolution: Spontaneous order on the road
Here’s a video of a small town in Britain that turned its traffic lights off.  Order ensued.


02010-08-10 @ 11:08

Second half of the 2008 performance at the SOhO in Santa Barbara.

Audio MP3

Download the 320kbps mp3 file here.

OL – Guitars
Jon Gagan – Fretles Bass Guitar + Synthesizer
Stephen Duros – Guitars + Synthesizer
Davo Bryant – Percussion


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