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Archive for January, 2007

Ryan Shaw’s Soul

I attended a showcase last night at the Cutting Room in NYC for a really awesome new singer named Ryan Shaw. His music is old-style soul and he just belts it out. His material is really catchy, his stage presence is very good, and his voice is awesome–very rangy and powerful.

He was accompanied by a 5-piece band, which only had 3 instrumentalists: a solid drummer; a bass player named “Tiny” who was about 6’5″ and grooved steadily on a 5-string throughout (and then blew away the audience with a virtuosic slapping-and-popping solo); and a guitarist who played lots of little three-and-four-note, high-voiced chords that were a throwback to Stax and Steve Cropper. The other two band members were male background singers who provided harmonies and counterpoint to Shaw’s vocal stylings.

Shaw’s CD will be coming out on Columbia in early April. Definitely watch for this guy, he has the talent to really go places. I’m also glad to see a resurgence in old-style soul music (check out James Hunter who’s another soul revivalist). Shaw will be touring soon with Robert Randolph, so check him out.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Mike Levine |

Reverse Switch

I read an interesting story this morning on MSNBC‘s Web site. It was written by a reporter who made the switch from Mac OS X to Windows Vista. You might enjoy reading about his experience. Just don’t skip to the end, though, or you’ll spoil the surprise ending. The URL is http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16873608/

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Related Topics: Emusician, Geary Yelton |

The Tony Levin Band at NAMM

One of the high points of last weekend‘s NAMM show was a concert by the Tony Levin Band. Tony Levin is one of the most sought-after bassists in the world. He has recorded with such luminaries as Pink Floyd and John Lennon, and he spent many years as a key member of Peter Gabriel‘s band and of King Crimson. The outstanding musicians he‘s played with are literally too numerous to mention. He‘s also well known for his mastery of the Chapman stick, and he‘s one of my musical heroes.

The band played on Friday night at the Clarion Anaheim Resort, a hotel just down the street from the Anaheim Convention Center. Passes were free from beyerdynamic. The Orangewood Ballroom in which the stage was set was almost too small to accommodate the standing-room only crowd that was lucky enough to catch the performance.

Another Peter Gabriel alumnus, Larry Fast, has been part of Levin‘s band since it began in 2000. He held down stage left, playing a Kurzweil 2661. Fast is probably best known as the pioneering recording act Synergy, who had a run of electronic music success in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Once upon a time, he was a regular contributor to EM, and in 1986 he wrote the foreword to my second book, The Rock Synthesizer Manual.

Also on keyboards, stage right, was Tony‘s brother Pete Levin, whose playing credits range from Gil Evans to Korn. Like Fast, he has been part of the Tony Levin Band since its inception. Jesse Gress, a member of Todd Rundgren‘s band for ten years and the Tony Levin Band since 2001, proved his mastery of the Fender Stratocaster. I was especially pleased to see and hear Jerry Marotta on drums. He was a member of Peter‘s Gabriel‘s band beginning with the latter‘s first solo album. Marotta has played with Paul McCartney, the Indigo Girls, Sarah McLachlan, and others too numerous. He‘s another of my musical heroes.

The concert began with an impressive set by Marotta Griesgraber, a duo consisting of Marotta and virtuoso stick player Tom Griesgraber. The music was genuinely amazing, and the audience definitely dug it. It was almost difficult to believe that so much sound came from a duo performing live. With its complex textures and intelligent rock arrangements, Marotta Griesgraber won over many converts.

Then came the main act. The Tony Levin Band took to the stage with a barbershop quartet composed especially for NAMM, followed by “Break It Down,” the opening track from their latest album, Resonator. The band rocked their way through most of that album‘s songs and eventually included Peter Gabriel‘s “On the Air,” King Crimson‘s “Sleepless,” Synergy‘s “Phobos,” and “Back in N.Y.C” from the 1974 Genesis album, The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, all of which members of the band had played on the original recordings.

Todd Rundgren joined them onstage about halfway into the set, whipping the crowd into a frenzy with a few of his hits, and then left the stage. He returned again for the encore, for which he sang a rousing version of the Call‘s 1984 cult hit, “The Walls Came Down.”

The evening‘s music certainly met my expectations, which were very high to begin with. A splendid time was had by everyone present. Unfortunately, the Tony Levin Band was so loud that from my position near the front of the audience, their entire performance was audibly distorted. Nonetheless, the concert was an experience I will remember for a very long time.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Geary Yelton |

Add more colors to Pro Tools

I just got back from NAMM, where–along with a lot of new gear (look for a full report soon on emusician.com)–I saw a cool Pro Tools trick for adding color to the parts of the Mix and Edit windows that are normally gray. (Please send me a comment if you’ve already heard of this.) According to Digidesign, this is not an official Pro Tools feature, but rather an “Easter Egg” put in by one of their programmers. However, they think it’s a cool thing, and had this feature turned on in all of the sessions I saw open at the Digi booth.

I tried this in Pro Tools LE v. 7.3, and I know that it works in the latest version of HD as well. I’m not sure about earlier versions. I tried it on a Mac, but I assume it also works in Windows XP versions of Pro Tools, although I haven’t had a chance to try it yet (the keys to press would be slightly different, obviously). protoolswithcolors_2.jpg

Here’s how you do it: open the Color Palete, hold down the command, option, and control keys, click inside any color, and then drag your mouse upward. You’ll see all the tracks fill in with color corresponding to their original color selections. The higher your drag the mouse, the more instense the colors. If you decide you want to revert to normal, drag downward. Turning the colors on is global, and will affect all of your session files. Turning it off will do the same.

This shows parts of the Mix and Edit windows,side by side, with the colors turned on.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Mike Levine |

Trouble in Paradise, Part 2

It has been two months since I first complained here that iTunes 7 wouldn‘t let you view or delete podcasts located on your first-, second- or third-generation iPod. Since then, Apple has done nothing to remedy the problem, and I‘ve been unable to find any third-party utilities that would do the trick.

In “Trouble in Paradise, Part 1,” I suggested that the only obvious solutions were to reformat your iPod–which I was unwilling to do–or remove iTunes 7 from your computer and reinstall iTunes 6. Weary of waiting for another solution, I decided this morning that the time had come to revert to iTunes 6. As I soon discovered, though, deleting iTunes 7 was easier said than done.

Because Apple doesn‘t provide a utility for removing iTunes 7 from your Mac, you need to manually:

1) Delete iTunes from /Applications.
2) Delete iTunes.pkg, iTunesX.pkg, and iTunesPhoneDriver.pkg from /Library/Receipts.
3) Delete com.apple.iTunes.plist from /Users/[name]/Library/Preferences.
4) Move your iTunes folder from /Users/[name]/Music to another location.
5) Restart your Mac and empty the Trash.
6) Download iTunes 6.0.5 installer from Apple and run the installation.

If you try to install iTunes 6 without taking the prior steps, when you reach the installer‘s Easy Install step, it will say, “You cannot continue. There is nothing to install.” If you choose Customize, all the installation options will be grayed out, and the only action displayed will be Skip.

After iTunes 6 is installed:

7) Run iTunes and connect your iPod to view its contents. (Don‘t worry that iTunes will indicate there‘s no music on your computer‘s hard disk.)
8) Delete the podcasts from your iPod‘s Music Library (finally!).
9) Quit iTunes and update iTunes to version 7.
10) Replace your iTunes folder back into /Users/[name]/Music.

If you replace your original iTunes folder before you update to iTunes 7, iTunes 6 will say, “The file ‘iTunes Library‘ cannot be read because it was created by a newer version of iTunes.” If you don‘t replace it after the update, iTunes will lose track of your music library‘s contents, and rebuilding it could take a very long time.

If someone (preferably Apple) comes up with a more elegant solution, I‘ll be grateful. In the meantime, I‘m unlikely to listen to podcasts on my iPod again, knowing how difficult it will be to remove them. That‘s a real same, because I really preferred listening to podcasts on my iPod to listening to them on my Mac.

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Related Topics: Emusician, Geary Yelton |

Hard Drives, Hard Times

My main recording drive failed on me this weekend. It was only a couple of months old. Although I am pretty fanatical about backing up, it croaked in between the time I recorded a session on it (on Saturday afternoon), and when my automatic backup was scheduled (1 AM on Sunday morning). As a result, I lost the entire session. Ugh!

This has caused me to rethink my backup strategy, which relied too much on those daily automatic backups. Although I’ll continue to have the software perform automatic backups once a day, I’m also going to run a manual backup at the end of every session. Had I done so Saturday when my session finished, I wouldn’t have lost a day’s work.

This incident also reinforced to me the utter fragility and unpredictable nature of hard drives, in general. The drive that went down had a name-brand mechanism and should have lasted several years, not a couple of months. Needless to say, it’s under warranty and will be replaced by the manufacturer. However, it goes to show that you should never depend on the reliability of your drive, and you should always backup, preferably as soon as you’ve finished recording.

For more on backup strategies, see the article “Better Safe than Sorry,” in the May, 2006 issue of EM.

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The Bus, EM's editorial blog, features posts from all the EM editors on topics related to gear, recording techniques and much more. It's also home to posts from a selected group of guest bloggers.

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