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Happy 153rd Birthday, Recorded Sound!

Posted by on Apr 5, 2013

The Phonautograph, first sound recording device

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!

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Bret Michaels and His Hair Extensions Are Coming to Healdsburg

Posted by on Apr 5, 2013

Celebrity gossip fans, take note: Bret Michaels, singer of Poison and star of TV schadenfreude fest Rock of Love, is coming to Healdsburg on Saturday, June 8.

Michaels and his band (and his hair) will play at the finish line festival for the Grapes of Rock half-marathon, which ends at Lake Sonoma. Pete Stringfellow and Pop Rocks open the shindig, and the whole thing’s hosted by (who else?) KZST-FM’s Brent Farris. Benefitting the Salvation Army, and wine, beer, food, etc.

If you’re not running the half-marathon, tickets to the festival are currently $80. They go up to $90 on May 1, and then $100 on June 6.

Here’s Bret Michaels talking about his hair extensions on Rock of Love:

For more, see the Grapes of Rock website.

Roger

Posted by on Apr 4, 2013

I “hated” him. Then I loved him. His post on books is essential. His script for ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls‘ taught me camp. But his reviews—they’re going to be read and re-read for the next week, to everyone’s benefit. A valiant battle to the end, but moreso a hugely influential presence hovering over all reviewers, whether they like it or not (many do not). He never grew bitter like so many cranky writers, and he navigated the changing media landscape with aplomb. For every small grain of disagreement that grew in me while reading his reviews when I was younger, he earned back boulders of respect and support for longevity, insight and… that other elusive thing, that movies are our lives, that the human element is paramount, and that making sure it remained untainted was the job of a good reviewer. Anyway, I’m kinda crushed. Back to work.

In News

Neutral Milk Hotel Cover Song Contest Winner Announced!

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013

Sure, we knew there were some creative musicians out there who might enter our Neutral Milk Hotel cover song contest. But how could we have expected what musical treasures you, dear readers, sent in?

There was the in-the-red, gleefully distorted version of “Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone” sent in by Ted Farber, and the horn-flavored version of “A Baby for Pree / Where You’ll Find Me Now” by Chris Alarie. John Gaby’s autotuned “Communist Daughter” changed the time signature to 6/8 with a circus feel, and Brian O’Connor played with chromatics and fretboard slides in a version of “The King of Carrot Flowers, Part II.” We even got a crazy cut-and-paste edit called “Two-Headed Sex Machine Man” from Ricardo M’ohaire that chopped together samples of James Brown, Neutral Milk Hotel and various spoken-word recordings.

But when it came time to select a winner, we went with Dustin Heald’s imaginative cover of “You’ve Passed,” played on guitar, darbuka, zils and melodica. Without trying to emulate the letter of Mangum’s delivery, the version captures the slight Middle Eastern spirit of the intro lick and takes the song to another place entirely. Congratulations, Dustin, you’ve won two tickets to Jeff Mangum’s sold-out show at the Phoenix Theater on Tuesday, April 9.

Hear Dustin’s winning cover song here.

Thanks to everyone who sent in their songs!

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The Weeknd Printed Fake Signatures On His $200 “Signed” Trilogy Vinyl Box Set

Posted by on Mar 30, 2013 10 Comments

Well, here’s a weird one: The Weeknd has faked his own signature on his $200, individually numbered-and-limited-to-500-copies, “signed” vinyl box set of Trilogy.

Chatter around the announcement of the ‘Trilogy’ vinyl box set was mostly about how expensive the damn thing was$66 per double album—but in the ever-increasing trend of pricey deluxe vinyl editions that sell out quickly, lots of fans and drooling record-collector dorks decided it was worth the cost for something special. After all, there’s only 500 copies, and hey, the thing’s signed.

Except the Weeknd’s ‘Trilogy’ vinyl box set isn’t actually signed. (more…)

Live Review: Iceage at the Rickshaw Stop

Posted by on Mar 26, 2013

Elias Bender Rønnenfelt staggered onto the stage, a Hamm’s in one hand. He clasped his other hand around the microphone, and then looked blankly from under his canvas hat, out onto the audience, all detachment and potential energy. Unimpressed with what he saw. The show had not started yet. Rønnenfelt was a walking magnetic field.

In ten minutes, Rønnenfelt would be falling into the crowd, wishing it was a mattress and beating the people in the front rows when he realized, over and over again, that it was not. He would be curling in a ball in front of the bass drum. He would be refusing offered replacements for a broken guitar strap, opting to sing lead, dropping his guitar on the ground. (more…)

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Renee Fleming, Izthak Perlman, Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, Jessye Norman, Herbie Hancock to Play Green Music Center

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013

Made public in a season announcement today, the Green Music Center‘s second season includes Renee Fleming, Izthak Perlman, Hilary Hahn, Lang Lang, Jessye Norman, Herbie Hancock, Richard Goode, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Mariza, Bryn Terfel, Garrick Ohlsson, Ruth Ann Swenson and more.

Without a doubt, this is another star-studded season for the center, which opened on the campus of SSU last year. Classical enthusiasts, especially, have reason to celebrate.

Renee Fleming will appear in a season opener on Sunday, Sept. 15, at 3pm.

Lang Lang, who performed at the hall’s grand opening last September, returns on Sept. 17.

Tickets for the season range from $27–$140 each, with subscription packages available starting today for donors in the $1,000 Benefactor Society and higher; Tuesday, April 2 for current subscribers and all MasterCard holders; and Monday, April 22 to the general public.

SSU students receive 50% off.

Ticket sales and more info. can be found at the Green Music Center’s site.

Other dates are as follows: (more…)

Review: Reggae Legends Sister Carol & Mykal Rose In Santa Rosa

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013

Sister Carol took the stage ten minutes before midnight. In dark glasses and tall rasta head dress, the 54-year-old radiates reggae empress on stage. Born Carol East in Kingston, Jamaica, Sister Carol is celebrating three decades of bringing women up in a culture dominated by masculinity. Part roots singer part rhymer, her signature chatty dancehall style has crowed the “Black Cinderella” one of the most eloquent women in reggae music.

A fashionably late entrance is standard affair in reggae culture. The practice is a gesture of sorts, giving the crowd a chance to appreciate the DJs and fill the dance floor. In fact, a seasoned fan knows to arrive no earlier than 11pm so as not to wander aimlessly until someone gets on stage. Arriving just before show time, the venue had already filled with people who had seen Sister Carol or Mykal Rose several times before. Fans came down from Mendocino County, Lake Tahoe, and up from the City owing to the significance of having these two reggae legends play such a small venue with a live band.

Now in its second year as the only reggae genre night in Santa Rosa, Casa Rasta has garnered a steady following of local fans. Resident DJ Kieran “Sizzlak” Eagan is lead seleckta, building on experience as a late-night reggae music programmer with San Jose’s KKUP, 91.5FM. And now taking to the decks is DJ Dinga, better known for his MC techniques with the wildly popular mixed martial arts event, Cage Combat.  With Bay Area sound system Jah Warrior Shelter dropping in on a regular basis, the dynamic duo are coming into their own, booking quality live talent and attracting a fan base four counties wide.

Sister Carol’s performance was memorable. Having seen her perform on festival stages for thousands of people, it was an entirely different experience to see her engage a small audience. She took care to give attention to those in the front row and was absolutely on point with the back-up band. Going into several free styles, even within songs, the clarity of her rhymes was beyond impressive. It was if she had played a thousand times yet this time’s rhymes had renewed potency. Flawless renditions of “Rasta Girl” and “Womb-Man” sounded like album recordings, and the classic anthem “Reggae Arena” was, as always, the highlight of her set. Not a minute of lagging, just pure concentration in the music and the vibe. To our dismay though, the crowd did not realize “Wild Thing” was her last song and failed to produce an applause worthy of an encore. When she did not come back on stage, a sense of somber awe filled the room. The crowd knew they were not ready to say goodbye.

(more…)

What It’s Like to See Van Morrison in Belfast, Northern Ireland

Posted by on Mar 17, 2013 20 Comments

VAN MORRISON
EUROPA HOTEL, BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND
MARCH 16, 2013

“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Europa Hotel. Tonight, this is the best place in the world to be.”

Truer words were never spoken. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I discovered Van Morrison would be playing a) during my trip to Ireland, b) on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, c) in his hometown of Belfast, d) in a tiny 250-seat venue and e) that I was able to get a ticket. Granted, it was £140, but seriously, was there ever a question?

It was an eclectic crowd, pretty much the norm for a Van show. Some were dressed to the nines to honor the occasion, some looked to have paid nine dollars for their duds. My hopes, though, were that they were all actual fans who would appreciate the event properly, not just there to be part of something. I guessed that I might be the only single at my table, but my seatmate was Alan, who had flown over from Denmark for his first Van concert, a definite fan. I thought perhaps I’d traveled the furthest, from Northern California, but apparently there was someone there from Australia. More fans, a good sign.

Shana Morrison was there to help out pop and she “opened” the show with an abridged version of the band, doing three quick numbers, including “And It Stoned Me” and a kickass “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher.” With barely a break, the rest of the band was onstage and broke into the intro for “Only A Dream.” With a simple “Van Morrison” from one of the band, the man appeared—and magic happened. (more…)

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BottleRock Releases Comedy Lineup: Rob Delaney, Kristin Schaal, Jim Gaffigan, Demetri Martin, Tig Notaro, More

Posted by on Mar 12, 2013

BottleRock Napa Valley has finally released their comedy lineup, which includes Rob Delaney, Kristin Schaal, Jim Gaffigan, Demetri Martin, Tig Notaro, Jim Breuer, Wyatt Cenac, Greg Behrendt, Aasif Mandavi, Anthony Jeselnik and J. Chris Newberg.

No word yet on which days each comedian will appear, but expect a schedule soon.

BottleRock runs May 8-12 in Napa, and features a hell of a music lineup including The Black Keys, Alabama Shakes, Zac Brown Band, Furthur featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, Kings of Leon, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Primus, The Flaming Lips, Jane’s Addiction, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, The Shins, Bad Religion, Iron and Wine, Dirty Projectors, Dwight Yoakam, Edward Sharpe, Mavis Staples, Best Coast, Sharon Van Etten, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Cake, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Wallflowers, Blues Traveler, Brandi Carlile, Donovan Frankenreiter, Grouplove and many, many more.

More info here.