If you’re a record collector, you’ve probably read that there are very few vinyl pressing plants left in the USA today, causing massive delays for popular releases on vinyl. But, if you’re a cassette tape collector, you may not know that there is only ONE factory still making analog, magnetized cassette tapes for music.
When all the other manufacturers moved to CD replication in the 1990s, the National Audio Company held on tight to their tapes, even buying out their former competitors’ equipment. With a major re-emergence in the last decade of cassette-only music labels and album releases from independent musicians everywhere, this Springfield, MO, plant is busier than ever.
Learn all about National Audio Company in this cool little video from Bloomburg Business and relive the salad days of the Walkman.
All lovers of vinyl need to check this out. It’s the audio of the earliest known gramophone recording, which is the grandfather of the modern vinyl record. Sure, Thomas Edison had his cylinders in the 1870s, but Emile Berliner invented the flat version of records in 1887. In the prequel to Betamax vs. VHS, or HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray, Berliner’s gramophone disc dominated the recording industry and Edison’s neat little vertical audio cans remain mostly as footnotes in audio history.
The cool thing about this recording is not that the record itself has survived since 1890, but that it doesn’t actually exist. There are no known physical copies. So how does one hear audio from something that doesn’t exist? The Media Preservation Initiative at Indiana University, Bloomington, had found a way to take the photographs of the physical specimens from reference books and advertisements of the time and recreate the audio from those records. The result is discernible audio recordings of speech, song and a voice memo recorded as a test from the inventor to a friend.
But wait, there’s more.
These are not the first recordings ever made, nor are they the first reproduced sound. Edison’s invention was the first to reproduce the sound audibly. But it was “Au Claire de la Lune,” an 18th Century French folk song, which Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville sang slowly into a vibrating diaphragm, that changed music forever. The long tube transferred the sound via hog’s bristle and a piece of a feather into waveforms. There was smoke, a rotating barrel and a hand crank involved. Though the phonautograph was a complicated and temperamental device (well, maybe not compared to an iPod in a WiFi-dead zone), audio could now be captured. And in 2011, a mere 151 years later, archivists have found a way to play it back. The recording was made on April 9, 1860 (before the American Civil War)–marking the birth of recorded sound.
Telephones, speakers, microphones–everything we know about audio today–is based on Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville’s hog’s bristle and feather recording device. From one audio engineer to another, thanks, brother!
Forget 40s of Old English. Forget Patrón. Here’s Moe Green, Cameron Washington, and Jairo “Rojah” Vargas with “Wine Country”—filmed in Sonoma:
Reunion tours are out of hand, yes, but that’s a longer rumination for a longer day. Let us simply enjoy this story of Harley Flanagan, founding bassist for seminal New York hardcore band the Cro-Mags, who last night—apparently because the band was playing at Webster Hall without him—bit and stabbed the current members. The Age of Quarrel, indeed.
Tom Waits has always been an advocate for the homeless, whether in songs like “On the Nickel”—a beautiful ballad from Heartattack and Vine about Los Angeles’ Fifth St.—or in lending a song to the soundtrack of Streetwise, a 1984 documentary about homeless teenagers in Seattle. Most recently, he penned the sympathetic ode “Cold Water,” from Mule Variations, a lovely and sad song in the voice of a homeless teenager.
Today, Waits has announced a 12-page poetry chapbook titled Seeds on Hard Ground. A “long, lyrical ballad in the voice of those who walked, fell, or were pushed to the margins of society,” Seeds on Hard Ground is being printed in a limited edition of 1,000 copies.
When I was born
My folks wept at my beauty
I was the package that all
Their good luck came in
I was bright and shining, magnetic
Am I just something that got eaten
By the gods
Am I only just the bag
That it came in
Here’s the thing: Waits is donating all proceeds from the book to Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County Homeless Referral Services, and the Family Support Center in Santa Rosa. Hell yeah, Tom!
I just ordered my copy, and with shipping, presale for the book comes to about $34.00. It ships on Feb. 22. You can order your copy here, but make sure to do it quick – they won’t last long.
UPDATE 1-15: It’s only been two days and a second edition is already sold out, too.
Krukow: “And that’s a wrap. Stick around for the postgame show. Our next broadcast is WE DON’T CARE. The first pitch is at WE DON’T CARE. The Giants are the World Series champions.”
– Ceremony’s new record is called Rohnert Park. The cover photo is awesome. I talked to vocalist Ross Farrar about it before the band left for Korea; it’ll be in the Bohemian next week. “I have mixed feelings on Rohnert Park,” he told me. “I do have a little bit of tension. A lot of things happened when I was growing up here, but I realize now that I’m very appreciative of it. So calling the record Rohnert Park is a balance between homage and hatred.”
– The Christina Aguilera record has leaked. Don’t laugh. She’s got an amazing voice that’s always wasted on poor material, and I’ve been waiting for the material to catch up. This could be the one. “Bobblehead” is straight-up Manaj / M.I.A. Stylez.
– The wedding of the year took place over the weekend, and on the decks was the erstwhile DJ Broken Record. While Ben and Desiree walked down the aisle to a throng of cheering friends, this remix of “Rebel Girl” played triumphantly. Specially curated for the Star Wars obsessive and/or Bikini Kill fan. Way to go, Edgar.
– The Arcade Fire is putting out a new record. Despite attempts to be blasé toward it, the first couple teasers sound really good.
– Eric Lindell recently left Alligator Records, started his own record company Sparco Records, recorded an album at Grizzly Studios and put it out on vinyl. It’s the best record he’s ever made. Includes a stunning version of the Impressions’ “It’s Hard to Believe,” and even a song dedicated to Bodega. He plays the Forestville Club this Saturday, May 29.
– I saw Jeff Ott at the wedding, which reminded me that Fifteen has a new 7″ coming out. You read that right: it’s an old recording of the band’s cover of “Caroline,” the Jawbreaker classic. I’m pretty sure it previously appeared on Eggplant’s tape, Later That Same Year, which I still have. I do know that Hanalei contributes the B-Side; a cover of “Petroleum Distillation.” Order it here.
– Hanalei has an amazing new record coming out this weekend called One Big Night. See him play on Friday, May 28 at Thee Parkside and Saturday, May 29 at the North Bay Film and Art Collective. Also playing the Collective show are the New Trust, now (again) with a fourth member, Chris Brum, and also Paper Hands, the new band of Michael Richardson, Kevin Buchholz and Dio McLeod. Pants will be shat.
– I was pleased to see the New Yorker‘s Sasha Frere-Jones give a tip o’ the hat to Type Records and the noise scene in general this last week. As previously mentioned, the Yellow Swans LP is magnificent, as is Grouper’s Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill. I stopped in at Amoeba after the Giants game on Sunday and bought Jóhann Jóhannsson’s And In The Endless Pause There Came the Sound of Bees LP, which is rather beautiful classical-ish music written as the score to a film. To counter, I also picked up RRR-1000, which may be the most ridiculous record of all time. (Since RRR-500, at least.) Quite an incredible essay on the subject of locked grooves, and RRR-1000, is here.
– David Byrne is suing Florida governor Charlie Crist for using “Road to Nowhere” in a campaign ad without permission.
– What’s that about Mike Richardson? The Benton Falls album Fighting Starlight is reissued on vinyl? No way. Also: Converge’s Jane Doe and available as a pre-order from Plain Recordings, Spiritualized’s Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space.
– Do take pleasure in this video for E-40’s “Lightweight Jammin’.”
– Lauryn Hill is headlining this year’s Harmony Festival, and it will either be so bad that people will flee to the gates and demand their money back or it will be the greatest comeback in ages. Assisting the chances of the latter: she’s rumored to be doing her entire album The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in its entirety at select Rock the Bells shows this summer. Or maybe not. Or maybe so. At any rate, if she hits the stage in Santa Rosa to the album’s first track “Lost Ones,” shit could go off.
In this space, I’ll be updating the many charity benefits for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti that have been hastily thrown together in the North Bay. It goes without saying, but the destruction in Haiti is immense and heartbreaking; if you can’t attend one of these benefits, you can always help out by donating to one of these organizations.
Are you hosting a benefit? Please let me know by emailing me here.
Thursday, Jan. 21
Linda Ferro has organized a benefit called ‘Reach Out to Haiti’ at the Last Day Saloon to benefit the Red Cross. Featured performers include the Linda Ferro Band, the BluesBurners, Dr. Joel Rudinow and Rude Notes Galore, Levi Lloyd and the 501 Band, the Pulsators, Seraphin, Spencer Burrows and Kris Dilbeck of Frobeck, the Thugz and DJ Sister Yasmin spinning music from Haiti. Presented by Keynote Productions and sponsored by 95.9 KRSH-FM and the Last Day Saloon. 120 Fifth St., Santa Rosa. 6pm. $10. 707.545.2343.
Friday, Jan. 22
Students Mari and Casey Castaldi have organized a benefit called ‘Shake the World’ at the Phoenix Theater to benefit the Red Cross. Featured performers include Decent Criminal, Bum City Saints, Ben “Sudman” Suddth and Gigio. Sponsored by the Phoenix Theater. 201 E. Washington St., Petaluma. 8pm. $10. 707.762.3565.
Sunday, Jan. 31
The Baby Seal Club has put together a benefit auction called ‘To Haiti With Love’ at the Hopmonk Tavern to benefit Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders. Each guest is encouraged to bring an item worth $25 or more to donate to the auction. From their description: We also encourage gift certificates, artwork, event tickets, coupons… Please let us know by email (email@example.com) what you will be donating. Auction items may be dropped off in Santa Rosa at New Arts Project, 606 Wilson St. Please consider making a donation even if you can’t make it to the event. Many store owners and wineries already have! (Though discouraged, items will be accepted at the event if early drop-off is not possible.) Those looking to volunteer can respond to the email above; those looking to attend will find plenty to bid on. The Hopmonk is donating 50% of each drink sold during the event to the cause. Music and DJs well into the night follow, starting at 10pm. Presented by Baby Seal Club and sponsored by the New Arts Project, the North Bay Bohemian and the Hopmonk Tavern. 230 Petaluma Ave., Sebastopol. Doors 2pm; auction at 3pm; cash or check only. $20-$25. 707.829.7300.
Sunday, Jan. 31
The Muir Beach Community Center hosts a benefit for Partners in Health and DG Educational Services Haiti. Mark and Myriam Pasternak of Nicasio will speak about their experiences working with relief efforts in Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake in Port-au-Prince. The event will include a supper of organic foods from local producers, including Drakes Bay Oyster Farm, Della Fattoria Bakery and the Straus Creamery. Sponsored by the Muir Beach Community Center. 19 Seascape Dr., Muir Beach. 5:30pm. $50. 415.300.6686.
Friday, Feb. 5
Cellars of Sonoma and Aioli Delicatessen have paired together to create a fundraiser for the Red Cross’ Haiti relief fund. A $20 cover charge gets you a flight of four wines; $10 of the cover charge goes directly to the Red Cross. Aioli will be providing tapas for $1.00 each with all proceeds going to the relief fund. There will also be a silent auction with massages, magnums of wine, auto and computer repair and more. Please call 707.887.2476 to RSVP or to donate an item to the auction. 133 Fourth St., Santa Rosa. 6pm-9pm. $20. 707.887.2476.
Ongoing Through February
D’Argenzio Winery is donating 100 percent of their tasting fees from now until the end of February to the relief effort in Haiti. The D’Argenzio tasting room is located at 1301 Cleveland Ave., Santa Rosa. 707.280.4658.
And It Don’t Stop: There was a lot of talk about rap fading away this year, just like there has been each year since, oh, around 1986. What sat beneath the talk was the fact that radio wasn’t hip-hop’s breeding ground in 2009. Luckily, Passion of the Weiss presents a year-end explanation of the 50 Best Hip Hop Songs of 2009 that you wouldn’t have heard if you weren’t scouring. They also present a download of all 50 tracks. I agree with most of what I’d already heard, and like most of what I hadn’t; check it out here.
Carles Strikes Again: By far the most insane/genius/essential reading for those into “Music of the Decade” writing is this beyond-epic post, The Most Authentic/Relevant/Successful Artists of the Decade. If you’ve never come across Hipster Runoff before, brace yourself. Recoil, then settle into the style, and realize the “raw meta power.”
You’re The Parking Lot, Motherfucker: If you or anyone you love has been injured, psychologically or emotionally, by the Counting Crows’ horrendous cover of “Big Yellow Taxi,” then this cathartic, wonderful, smart and very funny piece of writing honoring it as the #1 Worst Song of the Decade is for you.
Quiz Show: This week’s year-end Bohemian has some excellent cartoons, comprehensive arts and food reminisces and my multiple-choice quiz about the wacky world of pop music in 2009. Gather ’round and test your knowledge here.