Quotulatiousness

June 30, 2016

More tales from Garnet Rogers’ Night Drive

Filed under: Books, Cancon, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

While I’m eagerly awaiting the delivery of my copy of Garnet’s book, here is a report from the Local Xpress on Garnet’s upcoming appearance at the Canso Stan Rogers Folk Festival this Canada Day weekend:

The length of the journey to Canso, home of the Stan Rogers Folk Festival, is no deterrent to the hardy hundreds who’ve packed the event every July long weekend for the past two decades.

But that winding Guysborough road is just a fraction of the journey that the festival’s namesake made with his brother and bandmate Garnet Rogers prior to Stan’s death in 1983. Many of those miles are chronicled in Garnet’s new book Night Drive: Travels With My Brother, which he’s launched in time for Stanfest’s 20th anniversary. The book stretches from their parents’ roots in Canso and Pictou County to the brothers’ final conversation at the Kerrville Folk Festival in Texas. In between lies a rough and tumble tale of a furtive search for folk music glory, where it took more than talent to get ahead, and dreams seemed to get dashed on a daily basis.

    “Somebody made the comment that parents should buy the book and give it to any of their kids who decide they want to become a musician or a folksinger […] It really is kind of a cautionary tale.”

[…]

Decades later, much of it has been romanticized, and writing Night Drive was an opportunity for Garnet to strip away the rose-coloured glasses, and also tell his side of the story.

    “I got invited to this thing recently where the City of Hamilton is honouring Stan with a lifetime achievement award, making him a citizen of the city or something like that, sponsored by the Hamilton Spectator […] On the face of it, God bless them, but I felt like a bystander. There was no mention of the fact that I was there, or as far as Stan was concerned, 50 per cent of the equation.

    “Stan handed over 49 per cent of his publishing to me, half ownership of the songs, that should mean something in terms of how he at least perceived my contribution, but the average person doesn’t know any of that. So part of writing this was simply to say I was there. I don’t want someone coming up to me and giving me some blather about how seeing Stan changed their life and they’ll never forget that concert, but they don’t remember that I was there, because I bloody was.

    “So a lot of it was setting the record straight, but more importantly I wanted it to be funny.”

And much of the book is laugh-out-loud hilarious, as Rogers describes how he and his brother were performing the musical equivalent of “scrawling your name on a cave wall” while playing for distracted pit miners at a disco in Labrador City. Or in a pressure cooker of a bar in Jasper, Alta., where the audience was split down the middle between railway and oil rig workers who hated each other, which eventually erupted in a melee that nearly saw Stan charged with assault with a deadly weapon, in this case a mike stand.

    “There was something in that ‘three young guys in a van together’ thing […] Whether the gig was good, bad or indifferent, you could always find something to laugh about. Like the opening chapter about the non-existent gig in Baltimore and that young woman sitting on the couch with no underwear, every damn detail of that story is absolutely true, not even remotely exaggerated.

    “It was just as squalid as it sounds, and you come out of something like that, the worst disaster ever, but you’re laughing and laughing, and a few hours later you realize you’re miles from home and completely broke. But in the meantime you’ve got three young guys who are just dying with laughter because of the insanity of the situation.”

June 25, 2016

Night Drive by Garnet Rogers (the book this time, not the album)

Filed under: Books, Cancon, Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 03:00

I’ve just ordered my copy from his website (or you can buy it from him at a live show). I hope I’m not violating any copyright by quoting a bit from the introduction [PDF]:

What I do know is that over the years immediately following Stan’s death, there arose a cottage industry surrounding his music, and a closely managed version of what was supposed to have been his life. It turns out it is easier to market a carefully crafted and maintained legend than a real person.

It was frustrating to watch from the sidelines.

As time went by, the brother I had grown up with, and the complex and kind and frustrating man I knew and loved, and with whom I worked for nearly 10 years had been made into another person entirely, a caricature, and a man I never knew. And all trace of the part I had played in the music, and the part our parents had played in supporting and financing the whole operation had been erased.

So, I did begin to write the stories down, starting one night in Grande Prairie, Alberta, sitting backstage waiting for the sound crew to return from dinner.

[…]

Being in a band is a bit like running away to join a low rent circus, or a badly organized pirate ship.

The band develops its own language and rules and strictly controlled and ritualized behaviour.

Any outsider is viewed with suspicion and hostility if they attempt to breach the inner wall.

Within the band, loyalties shift and morph, and hostility develops. Even something as simple as the way another chews his food is an excuse for a fight and a death grudge that can last for years, and a different person at any given time becomes the butt of all the jokes that day or week.

As a result, even a few months on the road will turn the closest and most well intentioned of friends into a small band of ragged savages, and the jokes are no longer funny. And your glasses are permanently broken, and you’ve lost control of the conch shell. And your former friends are now advancing towards you with sharpened sticks.

As a result some of the behaviour in this story will be inexplicable by any decent person’s standards.

All I can say is we got away with it mostly, because the first rule was to always have the other guy’s back when outsiders were present, even if you had plans to kill him later.

[…]

This is a really long book. I was horrified to see just how big it was the first time John printed it out, and I did my best to edit it down. I removed most of the “F” words. That lost 50 or so pages. I then took out all the sex scenes, which took care of a paragraph. (We were after all, a folk band.)

June 23, 2016

Kitaro – Theme from Silk Road (live in Tokyo – 2009)

Filed under: Japan, Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Uploaded on 18 Jan 2010

Song: Theme from Silk Road
Live in Tokyo Orchard Hall
September 26th 2009.

Love and Peace Planet Music Tour 2009 in Tokyo

June 20, 2016

AL STEWART TOUR in NYC interview w/PAVLINA

Filed under: Britain, Media, Wine — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 18 Jun 2016

Hey! I’m with Folk Singer/Songwriter AL STEWART in NYC at THE CITY WINERY! We talk greatest hits like the iconic YEAR OF THE CAT song, JOHN LENNON, todays world and happenings, his singing style, working with ALAN PARSONS, and MORE! Check out Al’s site for latest info and albums:) The Pavlina Show airs on radio stations across the nation:)

May 23, 2016

“Kiww the Wabbit” smuggled opera into middle American childhood

Filed under: Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Some actual opera stars admit that their very first exposure to opera music was through Elmer Fudd’s pursuit of Bugs Bunny in “What’s Opera, Doc?”:

Like many other singers and crew staging the 17-hour, four-opera Wagner extravaganza at the Kennedy Center, Ms. Bishop got her first taste of opera from a cartoon rabbit and his speech-impaired nemesis.

“I could sing you the entire cartoon before I knew what opera really was,” says Ms. Bishop, who performs the part of Fricka, wife of Wotan, king of the gods.

The rabbit in question is Bugs Bunny, who, in the 1957 Warner Bros. cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc?” finds himself hunted by Elmer Fudd, in the part of the hero, Siegfried.

“Kiww the wabbit! Kiww the wabbit!” Elmer, in an ill-fitting magic helmet, sings to the urgent strains of Ride of the Valkyries as he jabs his spear into a rabbit hole.

Bugs flees, dons a breast plate and blond braids, climbs atop an obese white horse, and for two minutes and a ballet interlude, fools the smitten Elmer into thinking he is Brünnhilde.

“Oh, Bwünnhilde, you’re so wovewy,” Elmer croons.

“Yes, I know it,” Bugs answers coquettishly. “I can’t help it.”

“Those of us who didn’t freak at the sight of a rabbit in a winged helmet sliding off of the back of a fat horse — we went into opera,” says Ms. Bishop, 49, who grew up in Greenville, S.C.

It’s just one of those cases of art imitating art imitating art. Generations of people in the opera world grew up spending Saturday mornings eating breakfast cereal and watching Bugs Bunny on TV sets tuned with rabbit ears. For many, “What’s Opera, Doc?” was their first glimpse of opera and Wagner. Even if it didn’t exactly inspire their careers, it planted an ear worm that made the music recognizable once they heard the real thing.

May 9, 2016

Coming all-too-soon: your own data as a (paid) service

Filed under: Business, Media, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

James Pinkstone talks about the time he discovered that Apple Music had helpfully deleted over 100 Gb of his music files on his local hard drive:

What Amber explained was exactly what I’d feared: through the Apple Music subscription, which I had, Apple now deletes files from its users’ computers. When I signed up for Apple Music, iTunes evaluated my massive collection of Mp3s and WAV files, scanned Apple’s database for what it considered matches, then removed the original files from my internal hard drive. REMOVED them. Deleted. If Apple Music saw a file it didn’t recognize — which came up often, since I’m a freelance composer and have many music files that I created myself — it would then download it to Apple’s database, delete it from my hard drive, and serve it back to me when I wanted to listen, just like it would with my other music files it had deleted.

This led to four immediate problems:

1. If Apple serves me my music, that means that when I don’t have wifi access, I can’t listen to it. When I say “my music,” I don’t just mean the music that, over twenty years (since before iTunes existed), I painstakingly imported from thousands of CDs and saved to my computer’s internal hard drive. I also mean original music that I recorded and saved to my computer. Apple and wifi access now decide if I can hear it, and where, and when.

2. What Apple considers a “match” often isn’t. That rare, early version of Fountains of Wayne’s “I’ll Do The Driving,” labeled as such? Still had its same label, but was instead replaced by the later-released, more widely available version of the song. The piano demo of “Sister Jack” that I downloaded directly from Spoon’s website ten years ago? Replaced with the alternate, more common demo version of the song. What this means, then, is that Apple is engineering a future in which rare, or varying, mixes and versions of songs won’t exist unless Apple decides they do. Said alternate versions will be replaced by the most mainstream version, despite their original, at-one-time correct, titles, labels, and file contents.

3. Although I could click the little cloud icon next to each song title and “get it back” from Apple, their servers aren’t fast enough to make it an easy task. It would take around thirty hours to get my music back. And even then…

4. Should I choose to reclaim my songs via download, the files I would get back would not necessarily be the same as my original files. As a freelance composer, I save WAV files of my own compositions rather than Mp3s. WAV files have about ten times the number of samples, so they just sound better. Since Apple Music does not support WAV files, as they stole my compositions and stored them in their servers, they also converted them to Mp3s or AACs. So not only do I need to keep paying Apple Music just to access my own files, but I have to hear an inferior version of each recording instead of the one I created.

I didn’t sign up for the free Apple Music trial when it was introduced because I have a data cap on my internet connection: just a few hours of listening to my own music might well make a big dent in my internet usage for the month. That would be ridiculously wasteful. Even so, every now and again, iTunes cheerfully lets me know that this or that song from my collection can no longer be played (and has deleted it) with no chance to fix it on my part. When it’s a song I recorded from the original CD (and I still have the CD), it’s merely an inconvenience. When it’s a song I paid Apple to download, it’s much more than that. It implies that everything I’ve downloaded from Apple is actually just a rental with an indeterminate-length rental period.

It is, however, a sign of the future:

For about ten years, I’ve been warning people, “hang onto your media. One day, you won’t buy a movie. You’ll buy the right to watch a movie, and that movie will be served to you. If the companies serving the movie don’t want you to see it, or they want to change something, they will have the power to do so. They can alter history, and they can make you keep paying for things that you formerly could have bought. Information will be a utility rather than a possession. Even information that you yourself have created will require unending, recurring payments just to access.”

When giving the above warning, however, even in my most Orwellian paranoia I never could have dreamed that the content holders, like Apple, would also reach into your computer and take away what you already owned. If Taxi Driver is on Netflix, Netflix doesn’t come to your house and steal your Taxi Driver DVD. But that’s where we’re headed. When it comes to music, Apple is already there.

April 16, 2016

Indeed, none of them would be missed…

Filed under: Britain, Humour, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

H/T to American Digest for the link.

March 22, 2016

QotD: Barbecue, properly considered

Filed under: Quotations, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I was on the road in Texas last week, addressing Linux user groups in Dallas and Austin. I always enjoy visiting Texas. It’s a big, wide-open place full of generous people who cultivate a proper appreciation of some of my favorite things in life — firearms, blues guitar, and pepper sauces.

And, of course, one of the biggest things Texas has going for it is barbecue. And not the pallid imitation served up by us pasty-faced Yankees here where I live (near Philadelphia, PA) but the real thing. Barbecue, dammit. Red meat with enough fat on it to panic a health-foodist right out of his pantywaist, slow-cooked in a marinade sweeter than a mother’s kiss and eaten with sauces hot enough to peel paint. Garnish with a few extra jalapenos and coleslaw and wash it down with cheap soda, lemonade, or beer. Food of the gods.

I swear your testosterone level goes up just smelling this stuff. After a few mouthfuls of Rudy’s carnivoral bliss you’ll be hankerin’ to cultivate a drawl, wear a Stetson and drive a pickup truck with a gun rack. (I draw the line at country music, though. A man’s got to have some standards.)

Eric S. Raymond, “The Non-Portability of Barbecue”, Armed and Dangerous, 2002-07-18.

March 14, 2016

Pink Floyd – Another Brick in the Wall (Part II) (medieval cover by Stary Olsa)

Filed under: Europe, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 5 Oct 2015

Stary Olsa performing “Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd for Belarusian TV-show “Legends. Live” on ONT channel.

Produced by Mediacube Production. (Minsk, Belarus)

If you’ve liked this or the earlier covers, you might like to know that Stary Olsa has a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next album called “Old Time Rock n Roll”, which will include this song and at least the following:

  • “One,” by Metallica
  • “Another Brick in the Wall” part II, by Pink Floyd
  • “Californication,” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” and “A Hard Day’s Night,” by the Beatles
  • “Child in Time” by Deep Purple
  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana

March 12, 2016

Keith Emerson, RIP

Filed under: Britain, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

I was saddened to hear that Keith Emerson died yesterday:

Keith Emerson, one of the founding members of progressive rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer, has died.

The keyboardist died at the age of 71 at his home in California on Thursday night, the band confirmed.

Bandmate Carl Palmer said he is “deeply saddened” and paid tribute to his “brother-in-music”.

“Keith was a gentle soul whose love for music and passion for his performance as a keyboard player will remain unmatched for many years to come,” he said in a statement online.

“He was a pioneer and an innovator whose musical genius touched all of us in the worlds of rock, classical and jazz. “I will always remember his warm smile, good sense of humor, compelling showmanship, and dedication to his musical craft.

February 17, 2016

“Weird” Al Yankovic – Amish Paradise

Filed under: Humour, Media, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Uploaded on 2 Oct 2009

Music video by “Weird” Al Yankovic performing Amish Paradise. YouTube view counts pre-VEVO: 14,859 (C) 1999 Volcano Entertainment lll, LLC

February 15, 2016

Rush | Red Barchetta (BONUS TRACK) – R40 LIVE

Filed under: Cancon, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 13 Feb 2016

Get R40 LIVE on 3CD/DVD/Blu-ray!

February 7, 2016

That awful moment when music passes you by

Filed under: Humour, Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Kathy Shaidle recounts the painful moment of transition:

And it was during the 1990s — that is, my 30s — when That Thing I’d heard tell of and had dreaded ever since finally happened to me:

Every new! hit!! song!!! sounded like it was being played at the wrong speed. By an all-chimpanzee band. From inside a padlocked storage container. Kids these days

January 30, 2016

QotD: Government funding for the arts

Filed under: Economics, Government, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

People who oppose Soviet-style collective farms, government subsidies to agriculture, or public ownership of grocery stores because they want the provision of food to be a private matter in the marketplace are generally not dismissed as uncivilized or uncaring. Hardly anyone would claim that one who holds such views is opposed to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But people who oppose government funding of the arts are frequently accused of being heartless or uncultured. What follows is an adaptation of a letter I once wrote to a noted arts administrator who accused me of those very things. It articulates the case that art, like food, should rely on private, voluntary provision.
Thanks for sending me your thoughts lamenting cuts in arts funding by state and federal governments. In my mind, however, the fact that the arts are wildly buffeted by political winds is actually a powerful case against government funding. I’ve always believed that art is too important to depend on politics, too critical to be undermined by politicization. Furthermore, expecting government to pay the bill for it is a cop-out, a serious erosion of personal responsibility and respect for private property.

Those “studies” that purport to show X return on Y amount of government investment in the arts are generally a laughingstock among economists. The numbers are often cooked and are almost never put alongside competing uses of public money for comparison. Moreover, a purely dollars-and-cents return — even if accurate — is a small part of the total picture.

The fact is, virtually every interest group with a claim on the treasury argues that spending for its projects produces some magical “multiplier” effect. Routing other people’s money through the government alchemy machine is supposed to somehow magnify national wealth and income, while leaving it in the pockets of those who earned it is somehow a drag. Assuming for a moment that such preposterous claims are correct, wouldn’t it make sense from a purely material perspective to calculate the “average” multiplier and then route all income through the government? Don’t they do something like that in Cuba and North Korea? What happened to the multiplier in those places? It looks to me that somewhere along the way it became a divisor.

Lawrence W. Reed, “#34 – ‘Government Must Subsidize the Arts'”, The Freeman, 2014-12-05.

January 27, 2016

QotD: Are saxophones sexist?

Filed under: Media, Quotations, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

That men and women may also have much in common — opposable thumbs come to mind — I take for granted. I like to contrast both male and female humans with other sexually-paired primates, though this is another distinction that is becoming controversial. God made them male and female, in my frankly religious understanding, but this does not mean He did not do the same for other species. It instead points to a deeper profundity: Yin and Yang created He them.

Let us not be distracted by pettifog in this matter. Those who oppose, or even propose to persecute “sexists,” themselves frequently maintain a distinction between the sexes, but it is glibly statistical, when not incomprehensible. Consider for instance an argument I heard recently, amounting to a complaint, that the ratio of male to female saxophone players is too high. Why would this be so? “Because we have a male-dominant culture, and saxes are traditionally associated with macho.”

Both statements are lies, the first in a boring, but the second in an interesting way. Adolphe Sax invented the instrument (around 1840) to fill a hole between the feminine woodwind and the masculine brass sections in an orchestra. It was only after the fact that this gender-neutral horn itself selected for male players. And even feminists — who are seldom quite as obtuse as they pretend — can see that a woman playing a sax is making a “statement” in which she is paradoxically accentuating her “female sexuality.” The suggestion that this should be cancelled by sex quotas is thus demonstrably batty.

We could extend this by considering different aspects of masculine identity embodied in the voices of soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones, and then broadening to draw comparisons across the wind range, through the historical development of the heteroglottal reed, but that would make our discussion too lascivious.

As “diversity” is much prized today, let me mention that I am a sexist myself. Or, if I’m not, nobody is. I share the unreconstructed view of my diverse parents, grandparents, great grandparents, and other ancestors, back to Eve and Adam, on the existence of, and distinction between, the two sexes. Only one of them can have babies. Only the other can impregnate. But let me add that this is not the only distinction, and moreover, a large field of distinctions would anyway follow if only from that elephantine biological fact.

David Warren, “Sexes & saxes”, Essays In Idleness, 2014-12-03.

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