Hang drum

Huh, well this is kind of the sort of thing I think I could kind of maybe possibly use in a junk kit. Except this is made with precision hardened steel in Switzerland. But I like the timbre, and maybe it could be made to sound a little dirtier with some modifications.

Kutiman funk remixes of Youtube

This is great stuff. Israeli funkmaster Kutiman takes clips of people playing instruments on youtube and assembles dub/funk/reggae/hiphop/r&b masterpieces. Amazing.

http://thru-you.com

If you were waiting for the 2009 analogy to DJ Shadow's 1996 Endtroducing, this could be it. Lawrence Lessig would be proud.

On Attention Spans...

Wait, what?

Is a song that is only 20 seconds long still a song?

BET After Dark

Digging through some old recordings of mine and found this. Heard this melody on BET After Dark a few years back and once again recently on current.com. I basically recorded this little loop to remember the melody although I think the rhythm of it is different on the original. If anybody knows the name of the original song contact me cause it's been driving me crazy for years.

Attached audio files: 

Zombie - o - Zombie!

"In 1977 Fela and the Afrika ’70 released the hit album Zombie, a scathing attack on Nigerian soldiers using the zombie metaphor to describe the methods of the Nigerian military. The album was a smash hit with the people and infuriated the government, setting off a vicious attack against the Kalakuta Republic, during which one thousand soldiers attacked the commune. Fela was severely beaten, and his elderly mother was thrown from a window, causing fatal injuries. The Kalakuta Republic was burned, and Fela's studio, instruments, and master tapes were destroyed. Fela claimed that he would have been killed if it were not for the intervention of a commanding officer as he was being beaten. Fela's response to the attack was to deliver his mother's coffin to the main army barrack in Lagos and write two songs, "Coffin for Head of State" and "Unknown Soldier," referencing the official inquiry that claimed the commune had been destroyed by an unknown soldier." - w

Some new tracks

Two new winter remixes for ya'll.

Zirafa Remix of "Jazzanova - I Can See"

Zirafa Remix of "Public Enemy - Harder than You Think"

Attached audio files: 

Alternative Roads to Success

Spoke with Drew the other day about "getting creative" with distributing and selling music. How can an unknown band become successful without going the traditional routes?

"Success" meaning generating significant revenue off of music sales.

One idea is to use reverse bounties. A reverse bounty basically just means that people pay for something before they get it. So say Drew has a new album coming out. He would announce that his new album is ready for release but that he can't release it until he generates $1000. After he generates $1000 then the music will be available for download for free to everyone - with the people who paid for it having access to it a month in advance (or some other reward).

Chicago Graffiti and 7 other issues on the brain

Dear King Daley,

1) Repeal the spray paint ban.
Please repeal the idiotic ban against selling spray paint in Chicago. It does nothing to deter graffiti and makes it incredibly difficult to obtain for non-graffiti purposes.

Now I'm a big fan of graffiti. I love the idea of a city full of walls that are exploding with colors, letters, and crazy characters. It creates a richness and liveliness that is otherwise lacking in an urban environment dominated by dull, lifeless, muted colors. But I do hate gang tags, and I do think that a citizen's personal property should be respected. So I can understand that for some people graffiti is a problem that needs to be solved. And for those people I think the city has a great graffiti removal service - just dial 311 and within a day or two city workers will come and remove it. But by no means does banning spray paint reduce graffiti in Chicago. Graffiti artists will simply find an outside source for spray paint (thus making it harder to track), or they will choose to tag with acid markers, stickers, sharpies, or scratching implements (arguably more damaging and harder to remove than paint).

2) Stop selling out the city's infrastructure.
*Sigh* Apparently Chicago has just privatized it's parking meters, allowing Morgan Stanley to take control over the parking meters for $1.16 billion. Supposedly the rates for the meters will now quadruple to $1.00 an hour. The leasing of public infrastructure appears to be a trend in Chicago - recently Midway airport was leased to a private company for 99 years. This is some serious bull. We pay some of the highest taxes in the nation, only for our infrastructure to be sold to the highest bidder, yet we still have a major budget crisis and crappy roads. Could someone please explain to me how this is possible?

3) Stop trying to get the Olympics here.
Yes, we know you like to make yourself look good. But trust me, having the Olympics come to Chicago will NOT be good publicity for you. Just imagine athletes missing their events while waiting for their CTA bus, or by having their flight delayed to O'Hare, or by their taxi breaking down after hitting a 4 foot deep pothole. Kiiiinda embarrassing, no? In the meantime, you are wasting a lot of time, energy, and (thanks to Blagojevich) committing more taxpayer money to this endeavor while your city's infrastructure is crumbling.

4) Stop hating on street musicians and street vendors, and culture in general.
What is the point of banning hot dog vendors from downtown Chicago? Why can't musicians busk on the sidewalks of Michigan Avenue? Why are there so many restrictions for small venues? Almost every major city in the world benefits from street performers and street vendors filling their streets. It creates a sense of communal space and makes the public way something more than a transitory element. The sidewalk goes from being a slab of concrete that gets someone from Starbucks to Dunkin' Donuts and becomes something living and breathing on its own. This seems like such an easy and harmless thing to do. I really don't know why Daley wants to run this town like a police state...

5) Term limits.
Daley, you've been mayor for almost 20 years now, and your father was mayor for 21 years. Combined, the Daley empire has ruled Chicago for almost half a century. As the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely. With term limits, Chicago taxpayers could avoid the stranglehold of two decade mayors, forcing fresh blood in periodically and flushing out corruption.

6) Get rid of Lake Shore Drive.
The city has done an amazing job of preserving a lot of prime downtown lake shore real estate for public parks. Yet it completely ruins the lakefront for pedestrians by running a giant highway between the park and the lakefront.

7) Corruption.
Yeah, a no brainer, I know. But this city is way too tolerant of corruption. Part of me thinks that Midwesterners take a certain kid-like pride in Chicago's organized crime roots - as if it makes us tougher. The other part of me thinks that there is just a high tolerance for corruption because there has been so much of it, meaning Chicagoans will continue to support corrupt politicians, despite their scandals. If it isn't the police or the politicians, it's the building and zoning departments or the city inspectors. I think the first step in fixing corruption is to simplify and streamline bureaucratic processes (tangled and convoluted red tape means greater opportunities for corruption).

8) Segregation, Classism, and Gentrification.
Certainly these issues are a problem in any city, but in my opinion Chicago simply ignores these issues all together (or are so tolerant that change is very slow). The city focuses on improving downtown shopping and tourist districts while sweeping the voiceless away by bulldozing public housing and conducting arbitrary raids on illegal immigrant workers. There is certainly a lack of prioritization and focus going on.

I started this out as just a small rant about spray paint but realized I had more on my mind. Chicago is a great town, but it keeps shooting itself in the foot. What kills me is that a lot of improvements could be made to this city and it wouldn't cost a dime! They might actually generate more jobs and revenue. Let the street musicians play wherever, let street vendors sell hot dogs downtown, remove beaurocratic red tape to reduce bribery, let me buy spray paint in the store, reduce spending on cosmetic architecture improvements and focus on infrastructure development (but don't sell it), put term limits on the mayor, connect the park to the lake, and reduce the police-state of downtown Chicago.

I think the biggest obstacle in the way of any change is of course Daley. Being a corrupt Democratic incumbent mayor in a heavily Democratic town means that he will continue to win a re-election as long as he runs as the Democratic candidate. The only way it will change is if he leaves voluntarily, or if he makes such a big political blunder that he ruins any chance of re-election.

Here's to hoping things can get better for Chicago in 2009.

Happy new year ya'll!

R.I.P. Freddie Hubbard...

Another jazz great has passed away. Freddie Hubbard died this past Monday of a heart attack - he was 70. He was an amazing jazz trumpet player whose reputation and playing was second to none - he played on some seriously groundbreaking records. If ya didn't know, now you know! Check him out, and I've said it before - if you have the chance to see live jazz by a living legend, do it now...

Rest in peace Freddie! Hope you are rockin' out in the after life.

Commercialism in Music: Get Creative!

I just read this NY Times article about commercialism in music. The author of this article believes that as recording companies begin to fall, commercial licensing companies will begin to emerge as dominant players in the market.

I couldn't agree more. However, while the author suggests that this is somehow a negative turn of events, I'm not sure I quite agree. It feels like a lateral move towards status quo.

The musician today has more choices than ever. The digital age has enabled free music distribution and has allowed musicians to connect with more people across the globe than ever before. So why does it feel harder than ever to get noticed?

The answer is signal to noise ratio. With millions of bands out there, and infinite, unlimited access to all the bands, consumers and fans are paralyzed and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of music available. A new band in this environment has a tremendous challenge to get noticed. The ruthless ambition of a young band might lead them to a licensing company, who will in turn sell their music for the purposes of marketing a new product or promoting a new movie.

Whether or not you believe that commercial licensing somehow devalues the music, it isn't anything *new*! And that's the real problem.

We still buy into the old notions of how music can be bought, sold, and licensed. Much of the current music industry depends on old tactics applied to the internet. There is nothing particularly groundbreaking happening just yet, in fact most of the music industry is dominated with fear about the demise of traditional revenue streams. So bands are scared too, don't know what to do; they seek out licensing companies and sell their tracks on iTunes and sign multi-million contracts with Live Nation.

Our problem is that we all instantly became dinosaurs when the internet became ubiquitous. In less than 10 years the entire world changed. The old rules don't apply, yet we keep trying to apply them. Fear dominates every action, there is too much change happening - it's all disruptive and our natural human reaction is to shout out apocalyptic visions.

But we've gotta maintain perspective. The opportunities created by the internet and technology only serve to empower musicians, not stifle them. To say that bands can only make money off licensing and touring seems very shortsighted and old-world to me now. We've got to look beyond the old ways and think of new ways for bands to make a living. Maybe the concept of a music band needs to be stretched to involve filmmakers and artists. Maybe musicians have to become more like traditional businessmen. Maybe the concept of an album needs to be redefined.

The demand for music will never go away. So - for a musician to survive, that means that they've got to get creative and innovative with how they want to present themselves to the world - and realize that there are infinite routes and ways to measure success. It might take a few generations to become comfortable with all this freedom...but in the meantime we can at least remain positive about the changes that are upon us and see them as opportunities and not setbacks.