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Classic Rock Magazine

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    The String Cheese Incident made their first full-band appearance at one of Warren Haynes’ annual Christmas Jams this past Saturday night in Asheville. SCI’s set marked their first live performance since their summer tour ended in July. In keeping with Christmas Jam tradition, the Colorado-based band welcomed plenty of guests throughout their performance. For the finale, a cover of Bob Dylan’s Quinn The Eskimo (Mighty Quinn), Cheese brought out host Warren Haynes, keyboardist Nigel Hall, guitarist Mike Barnes, sax wiz Karl Denson and percussionist Count M’butu.

    Here’s a look at the guest-filled Quinn The Eskimo from Saturday night…

    String Cheese Incident w/ Guests – Quinn The Eskimo

    Head HERE for more videos from this year’s Warren Haynes Christmas Jam.

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    After a year long hiatus, this week we have the return of the Acoustic Mix (Vol. X). We open with a live in-studio performance of To Ohio by The Low Anthem — a beautiful version of a beautiful song. Staying in the same vein, next is The Barr Brothers with The Devil’s Harp, and its infectious little shuffle step. Following that comes Steve Kimock doing a solo improv I’m calling WV Solo at All Good in the summer of 05, and then an early rendition of Tangled Up In Blue with alternate lyrics.

    Jackie Greene offers a cover of Tom Waits’ great Heart of Saturday Night, and moving into the endgame moe. does Nebraska (with some great moe.banter following). Finally we close things out with 30 db and Susannah – a great, great song with amazing energy despite (or because of) the nature of the song. As always, enjoy!

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    CBS’s Sunday Morning has profiled many rockers over the years and has gained a reputation for smartly-produced compelling features thanks in part to their pieces on Levon Helm, Wilco and Tom Petty. Yesterday, the program aired a fantastic profile of Led Zeppelin that contains interviews with Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, both separately and together.

    Segment host Anthony Mason digs deep into the band’s history and brings us up to their 2007 reunion concert that was the focus of the recently released Celebration Day. The band reacts as expected to the obligatory “when will you play again question?” but we don’t blame Mason for trying. There’s also amazing footage of a 12-year-old Jimmy Page appearing on British TV and a funny segment where fans approach Robert Plant on the street. If you missed it yesterday, watch this enthralling piece…

    Led Zeppelin on CBS Sunday Morning

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    Ever since the Grateful Dead started their career there have been a contingent of fans who analyze every note of every song they have played. However, a recent addition to the Live Music Archive takes this particular brand of obsessive geekery to the next level.

    Deadhead Michael David Murphy has created a seamless audio file featuring an hour of the Grateful Dead tuning their instruments in 1977. Here’s his explanation…

    Tuning ’77″ – a seamless audio supercut of an entire year of the Grateful Dead tuning their instruments, live on stage. Chronologically sequenced, this remix incorporates every publicly available recording from 1977, examining the divide between audience expectation and performance anxiety.

    If this is the type of thing that floats your boat, and we admit it – we gave it a shot and just couldn’t turn it off – head over to the Live Music Archive to stream or download Tuning ’77.

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    2012 has been an insane year for Aaron Freeman as the artist formerly known as Gene Ween has released his first solo album, left Ween after 25 years and most importantly has remained happily sober. Freeman’s solo album, Marvelous Clouds, didn’t contain any of his own tunes as it featured 13 interpretations of songs by poet/songwriter Rod McKuen. Aaron has been writing more original material lately and has started sharing basic versions of his tunes on his SoundCloud channel.

    Just today Freeman posted a song called “Genene” and we couldn’t help but notice “Gene” being part of the title. Was it about his leaving Ween or a sex change? We contacted Aaron about Genene at his hospital room in Belgium where he is undergoing “a transformative procedure.” He immediately made sure to tell us, “This song is left to interpretation on purpose. To me it’s just an honest song about where I’m at, creepy, real and pretty, just the way I like it.” Freeman finished our chat by saying, “On one hand it’s about change and acceptance on a personal, spiritual level but can obviously be interpreted literally as a sex change.” We’re sure there will be plenty of interpretations of this one.

    Take a listen to Genene by Aaron Freeman…

    Freeman couldn’t be happier about exactly where he’s at as 2012 draws to a close, “I’ll be a year sober at the end of December and I’m really feeling great as well.”

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    December 18

    Dark Star > Comes A Time
    7/18/72 Roosevelt Stadium, Jersey City, NJ

    Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City was not a pretty place to see a concert but the Grateful Dead sure seemed to thrive there. Go figure. In fact, some of their most epic shows were played at Roosevelt Stadium – the birthday show from 8/1/73, the “hydroponic Eyes” show from 8/6/74 (Dick’s Picks, Vol. 31) and the Dark Star from 7/18/72 which is the focus of today’s selection.

    [Roosevelt Stadium - Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, NJ,9-JERCI,16-22]

    Instead of transitioning from Truckin’ into The Other One as was common at the time, the Dead switch things up and ease into Dark Star. This is the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of Dark Stars. The pre-verse jam stays close to the main theme and is an exploration of melodious beauty and nirvana while the post-verse segment is avant-garde, atonal, terrifying weirdness.

    Similar to the Star from 11/11/73 (Winterland), the band starts off with a very relaxed introduction indicating that they are taking their time and want to stretch this one out. The message is the musical equivalent to Harpur College where Jerry tells the audience to “Relax, we’ve got you all night.”

    The music drifts in a dream-like state for about 10 minutes. It truly is a joy to behold. At times Jerry’s guitar gets a little twangy as was the theme with much of this show (see Tennessee Jed for the best example). Eventually, Jerry picks up the pace and finds an exciting theme that leads into the first (and only) verse. Jerry’s singing is exceptional.

    Without wasting any time they leave all comprehension of the song as Phil plays deep and slow descending notes that dissolve into the unknown. Say farewell to Dr. Jekyll and his melodic, happy hippie smilefest you just enjoyed because things are about to get very heavy, very demented and very strange. Enter, the evil Mr. Hyde who serves up a sinister cocktail of shrill harmonics, overbent notes and oversaturated bass.

    The music turns dark, discordant and abstract as the band casts themselves deep into oblivion, searching for new and uncharted areas of the universe. At about the 22 ½ minute mark Jerry delivers a massive and devastating “Tiger” meltdown that must have completely annihilated Roosevelt Stadium. In its aftermath we are left with some violin tapping followed by sharp, angular chording which is finally resolved with a “Sputnik” jam at about the 26 minute mark (see the Dark Star from Live/Dead at about the 11:40 minute mark for the best known example of this kind of jam). This melts into a jewel-like Comes A Time that is beautiful in contrast to the preceding mayhem. Described best in the blog, “Comes A Time is nothing short of a church service where the light of the Lord is cascading out from the stage. Jerry’s solos just burn into your heart.”

    Download Link:
    LMA Link

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    Back on June 2nd, recent Princeton University graduate (Class of ’12) Brian Lesh teamed up with his father Phil, his brother Grahame, guitarist Stanley Jordan (Class of ’81), keyboardist Marco Benevento and drummer Joe Russo to play a special show at Dead Head Night at Terrace Club. The one-time ensemble tackled classic Dead tunes and covers from the likes of Mumford and Sons, The Band and Kings of Leon. Audio of the performance hadn’t circulated…until now.

    Thanks to our friend Ben Markowitz for sharing this pristine recording of the festivities…

    As our friends at Relix remarked, this performance marked the first time the members of the Benevento-Russo Duo performed together in a band that wasn’t Led Zep tribute act Bustle In Your Hedgerow since January’s Freaks Ball. The audio above appears to only be part of the show, with most of the songs Jordan sat in on missing. Hopefully the Terrace Club will post the rest.

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    My mom told me once that we were all born into this world with a special talent that’s unique to us. Well I’m sure glad excellence in handfarting isn’t my skill, but I can still appreciate the HandFartMaster.

    This gentleman has shared his “Handmonica” talents with the world through covers posted on his YouTube channel. Let’s start with HFM’s take on Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd…

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    Now how about Mumford and Sons’ oh so solemn The Cave

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence ain’t so silent any more…

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    I take back everything I said about never wanting to hear another cover of Hallelujah

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    Europe’s The Final Countdown was always missing something – handfarts!

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    When I find myself in times of trouble, I handfart…

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    Fortunate Son was a bizarre choice for this bizarre skill…

    Click here to view the embedded video.

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    From Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks to Beck’s Sea Changes, heartbreak has been the inspiration for a number of classic albums, and we might be adding another to the list courtesy of Josh Ritter, who will release his seventh studio album The Beast In Its Tracks on March 5. The talented singer-songwriter wrote and recorded his latest during the 18 months after his marriage had ended with fellow musician Dawn Landes (an experience you can read about here). Ritter, who is currently streaming the album’s lead single Joy To You Baby, will head out in support of the record in major way with his backing band The Royal Band in tow. The tour, which kicks off at The Egg in Albany on February 13, will also include a run of dates with HT faves The Felice Brothers beginning on May 8 and running through the North American tour closer at New York City’s cavernous Terminal 5 on May 18.

    If you’re not into a night with Mr. Ritter, then maybe you’ll be interested in hitting one of these recently announced tours…

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    After Gail Zappa and the Zappa Family Trust struck a deal with the major music subscription services in August, over 50 of Frank Zappa’s albums have finally turned up on Rdio, Spotify and Rhapsody today. Now you stream all of FZ’s classic LPs such as Joe’s Garage, Apostrophe and The Grand Wazoo as well as a handful of live releases including the You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore.

    Ever since the Zappa Family Trust signed a pact to bring Frank’s music to the streaming services, there’s been questions as to whether FZ would’ve approved of such a deal. Well, considering the legendary performer proposed an idea similar to today’s subscription services back in 1982, we think he’d be all for it. The folks at Rdio has created “An Introduction To Frank Zappa” playlist…

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    Back on Halloween Umphrey’s McGee teamed up with StageIt from webcast their All Night Wrong show from Maryland after the effects of SuperStorm Sandy led AXS TV to cancel a televised simulcast planned for the performance. Apparently both companies were happy with the broadcast as they are teaming up to stream all four Umphrey’s New Year’s Run performances live from The Tabernacle in Atlanta.

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    [Ryan Stasik Checks His Favorite Site on 1/1/13]

    The way StageIt works is that you buy “notes.” For $1 you get 10 notes. A “ticket” to webcasts for the first three shows cost 60 notes a piece (aka $6) while New Year’s Eve will run you 80 notes (aka $8). Fans can interact with the band via chat and contribute tips via a virtual tip jar. Just like the Halloween show, the stream will be via a Single HD camera from “front of house,” with soundboard audio. As of now 1,000 tickets remain for each of the four shows. Head to StageIt’s UM site to pre-order the webcasts.

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    We’re approaching the part of the year when many major music festivals reveal their lineup. Before these reveals, music blogs and message board users do their best to figure out who’s playing where before the official announcements. Sometimes this excitement leads to the spreading of false information such as the many sites that reported Prince would headline Bonnaroo 2012.

    [Screengrab via Listen Before You Buy]

    Over the past 24 hours word has spread that Daft Punk, Phoenix and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs will play Coachella 2013. What was the source of this information? An email from concert database site Songkick which showed those bands and The Rolling Stones aboard for the event. Someone took a screenshot of the email and word of the rumored appearances spread like wildfire. Even Rolling Stone picked it up.

    Now all three bands just might appear at Coachella as both the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Phoenix have new albums due this spring and Daft Punk are always thrown around as a possible Coachella band. However you must bear in mind that Songkick users can add events pretty easily.

    Here’s details from the site’s FAQ:

    Where Do You Get Your Listings From?

    We currently index over 100 different sources including all the major ticket vendors, a plethora of smaller vendors, local listings, ArtistData and a whole bunch of others.

    We also allow our users to upload events so that we cover everything from the biggest sell out shows at huge arenas, right down to your mates band at the local pub.

    [via Songkick]

    If you happen to enter an event just before Songkick sends emails to its users, that event will show in those emails. For instance, we’ve received Songkick emails alerting us that Radiohead would play The Middle East in Cambridge and that Deadmau5 was headlining Ultra Music Festival last year, both of which didn’t happen. In most instances Songkick will catch the erroneous/rumored dates and remove them before emails go out, but that’s not always the case.

    So, as always, don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. A statement from Songkick about DaftPunkEllaGate reads, “Regarding Daft Punk at Coachella: this was added by mistake. There has been no official announcement. Apologies for any confusion/excitement.” The official Coachella lineup is expected next month.

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    Two fixtures of the hard rock scene are coming together today as Dave Grohl is filming the video for By Crooked Steps by Soundgarden according to a report by Blabbermouth. By Crooked Steps is a track off the recently released Soundgarden comeback album King Animal.

    Grohl has been a Soundgarden fan for a long time even taking in one of the band’s 2011 shows from the floor and banging his head like there was no tomorrow. While the Grohl-directed video isn’t expected to drop until 2013, you can watch a recent performance of By Crooked Steps from Jimmy Kimmel Live. Check it out…

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    It continues to astound me how many ways there are to consume digital music and how they keep getting better and better. Many sites have music catalogs that continue to get deeper with drastically improved user interfaces, features that continue to grow and recommendation engines that seem to be able to crawl inside your head. Fortunately the overall audio quality continues to improve as well with better encoding and higher bit-rates. In addition, with such things as Google Music, iTunes cloud, Amazon Cloud Player or Subsonic making it easy to have your entire library playable with a simple click from any internet connected device – many people are now listening to more music through their computers than any other way. Yet without quality speakers, what’s the use?

    I was knocked off my chair and blown away when listening to Audioengine’s A2 speakers the first time. With a rich, lush and impossibly bold and bass filled sound for the sub $200 price-point, the A2′s pushed a massively powerful sound that probably puts some people’s stereo system to shame. The build quality, striking good looks, compact size, easy connections and built in amplifiers make these really everything someone could possible be looking for in desktop or bookshelf speakers.

    In a nutshell These powered speakers offer tremendous audio quality in a relatively small form factor. They offer two inputs with either traditional RCA or 1/8″ mini-jack that allow easy connections to just about any audio device including laptop, desktop, iPod, mobile phone, Sonos Zone player, game console or even a TV. The left speaker is the one with an integrated amp and offers a peak 30W of power per channel. The passive right speaker is connected with traditional speaker wire which comes with the speakers along with RCA and mini-jack audio cables.

    Sound I’ve listened to many desktop speakers and there are many great deals out there that offer terrific sound without breaking the bank. I was thrilled earlier this year to find a pair of Altec-Lansing speakers with a good value proposition. Yet, for only a few dollars more, at $199, the A2′s offer far superior sound and an extraordinary value. Stunning clarity, room filling bass and beautiful tones make these speakers comparable to ones costing many times more. Unlike most speakers in this price-category, like the aforementioned Altec-Lansings or the Bose Companion series, Audioengine is able to produce this great sound without a subwoofer unit. (Of course, if you want to add a subwoofer, you certainly can). It is kind of a paradox as you look around for what is providing the large sound and thinking there must be a hidden speaker somewhere.

    However, in addition to the great power and large sound, what makes the A2′s so impressive to me is how articulate and detailed they are. You can hear every little nuance in the music even with the ample bass. The great low-end is accomplished by the design of the speaker cabinets and the speaker ports creating clean, deep bass without the fake sounding circuits of other budget speakers.

    If you can afford the desk or bookshelf space for these speakers that measure 6”(H) x 4”(W) x 5.25”(D) and can dispense with the ultra-portability that a single-speaker unit can, you’d be absolutely insane to fork over similar cash (or more!) for such speakers as the Big Jambox ($249) or Beats Beatbox ($499) for use with your computer.

    The A2′s sounded great regardless what type of music I played or what source I used. I tried running some FLAC files on my computer through a portable DAC and the sound was simply stellar. I had equally pleasing results from  my phone’s headphone jack and a simple YouTube concert video. Hooking the A2′s to a TV next to my desk is where I think I will keep this pair. I can connect the TV’s RCA out and my computer’s line-out simultaneously without the need for a switch- so whatever is playing will be output through the speakers. As far as the TV, they provided crisp, clear and clean dialog and likely outperform many soundbars that cost a lot more.

    [Rear Panel A2 Speaker]

    Build and Design I love the speaker cabinets which are solid wood (well, actually MDF) and hand built with a nice finish and details in a choice of black or white. I haven’t seem the white option in person, but the black ones have an extremely high end look and feel. The woofer speaker cones are made from bullet-proof Kevlar which makes them super durable and eliminates the need for a speaker grill giving them a striking appearance. However, the smaller tweeters are made from silk and you’ll definitely need to be careful that those are not poked or damaged. All the connections and volume dial are on the rear of the left speaker and depending on preference can be positioned either straight up or on their side. The volume dial in the rear does allow for a nicer, cleaner physical design but if you prefer to use it verse volume controls from your playback device, it can be inconvenient.

    A couple of things to consider The A2′s are the little cousin to another flagship set of speakers in the Audioengine line: The A5′s. Deciding between the two might be the only decision you need to make other than color choice when shopping for desktop or computer speakers. The A5′s are larger and cost about $100 more, but also offer much more volume and improved overall sound. The A2′s can provide absolutely everything you need for desktop listening and are just stunning for the price. However, if you want to use them to fill a much larger room and can afford the bump in price, the A5′s are certainly the way to go.

    These speakers sound fantastic right out of the box, but like with any speaker, a little fiddling with placement and positioning can further improve sound quality. The speakers come with almost 7′ of speaker cable allowing you to position them in many different configurations. Additionally, optional speaker stands ($34) designed for the A2′s can help direct the tweeters at your ears and eliminate the sounds bouncing off your desk or shelves and distorting. I didn’t opt for the stands but did end up propping up the speakers with a make-shift wedge and it really added to my enjoyment.

    Finally, one of the things that I really like in desktop speakers is a headphone output on one of the speakers. My desktop tower is in a grossly inconvenient location to access the headphone port. This is my only major gripe with the A2′s as there is no headphone out and it becomes difficult when I do want to use headphones.

    [White A2's with optional speaker stands]

    Bottom Line  It is hard, if not impossible to beat the A2′s for ease of use, value, sound, looks and overall performance. They really help your music sound great and can be used with mobile devices, computers or any other audio device. With integrated power and no subwoofer needed, there’s no amplifier or other connections to have to deal with. With a MSRP of $199, these are a great deal. However, shopping around and waiting for deals, you may be able to find these closer to $150, or even $129 in which case you’ve scored a tremendous deal.

    Happy listening! I hope you enjoy these as much as I have!


    Audioengine A2

    Amazon $199

    Audioegine $199

    (Audioengine A5) $299


    Hidden Track Technology Tuesday

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    Have an idea for an article?

    Product, app, or web service you are passionate about? Feel free to get in touch with me.

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    Great news for fans of The Black Crowes as it appears the band will end their hiatus early next year. The HT faves last performed in July 2011 before they all went their separate ways for tours with their respective solo projects. A listing for “An Evening With The Black Crowes” was posted on The Capitol Theatre’s website for April 2nd, 2013 and quickly removed. According to the listing, which did include an image from 2010′s tour, tickets for the Port Chester show go on sale tomorrow at 4:33PM ET. We’ve got to imagine a full tour announcement is looming.

    Chris Robinson has spent the hiatus building up his Chris Robinson Brotherhood project. The CRB has recently finished a lengthy tour and only has one gig left on their schedule – a New Year’s Eve performance in Denver. Rich Robinson and his solo band also wrapped up a busy year of touring this week. We’re excited to see what the Crowes have in store for 2013.

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    December 19

    Jam > Jack-A-Roe
    11/20/78 Cleveland Music Hall, Cleveland, OH

    Here is something different – a second set that begins with a JAM! Sadly, this rare deviation from the norm was attempted only a handful times and in each instance greatness resulted. Two shows immediately come to mind: 6/23/74 Miami (Jam > Ship of Fools) and 6/26/74 Providence (Jam > China > Rider).

    Much like those instances the band begins this jam from Cleveland Music Hall with some noodling that gradually develops like growing tendrils.  The drummers are relentless the way they drive the jamming. Garcia makes several attempts to slow things down but the drummers must press on with important tribal work. Jerry offsets the heavy percussion with a spacey wah-wah toned solo that is dark, drippy and manic. Over the course of the jam he trills, bends and throws notes all over the place. Eventually this drops into Jack-A-Roe of all things. The reason we love the Grateful Dead is for moments like this when anything can happen. Jerry’s vocal delivery is beautiful. Especially notable is the subtle way he sings, “your cheeks too red and rosy…” Who could have predicted that Garcia’s voice would be completely shot four days later at the Capitol Theater?

    Download Link:
    LMA Link:

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    When the Dave Matthews Band paid a visit to the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon earlier this month in support of the revitalizing new album, Away from the World, the producers had the foresight to record a live rendition of Christmas Song, the standout holiday song off Remember Two Things, which eventually aired on the show this past Monday night.

    Hard to believe it’s been almost twenty years since this album came out. Pay attention to the lyrics of this song if you’ve never done so before. They tell the story of Christmas straight away, albeit with a unique perspective. Here’s Dave, Carter Beauford and Tim Reynolds performing Christmas Song…

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    Conferrin’ with the flowers…

    Anais Mitchell: Young Man in America

    I had forgotten how much I had enjoyed this album when it came out earlier this year until I saw Mitchell perform live a couple weeks back. Her sound is a mix of Ani Difranco, Neko Case and Lucinda Williams, equal parts sweet and dark. Her songs follow in the mold, sometimes haunting, oftentimes producing chills, this is a good album to have at the ready as dark winter nights beckon. One of the best Americana/folk albums of 2012.

    Spotify: Anais Mitchell – Young Man In America

    Here We Go Magic: A Different Ship

    This is kind of a breakthrough album for a band that seems poised to break through, an album for folks who want to listen to a well-made album from start to finish. This is intelligent, dreamy indie pop that could be anything you want it to be. Floating melodies swap places with more tangible, twangy moments. It’s arty without being pretentious, danceable without being techno.

    Spotify: Here We Go Magic – A Different Ship

    Radiation City: Cool Nightmare

    Every song on this quick listen starts like a dream: hazy sounds from an old record player in another room. Then they grow and grow and along the way seem to gobble up the entirety of western music of the last 100 years with bits of folk, doo wop, dance, rock, pop and beyond sewn together in some highly listenable fever dream before inevitably fading back to nothing.

    Spotify: Radiation City – Cool Nightmare

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    There’s two types of music aficionados. Those that know and love Daytrotter and those that have yet to discover it. The Horseshack Recording Studios is located in Rock Island, Illinois a small city of less than 40,000, on the mighty Mississippi in the country’s heartland. It may seem like an odd destination to attract some of the premier and most exciting up and coming acts in the country, but attract they do.

    Stripping down the music to its bare essence, more than a dozen bands per week lay down tracks in a live mini-concert with no editing, overdubbing or other effects. The session is recorded in analog with minimal mic’ing straight to tape. The sessions are ultimately transferred to a computer and digitized and that’s what appears on the Daytrotter site. However, what you hear is exactly what happened that day. Often raw. Often spine-tingling. Often soulful. Often compelling. Often brand new. Often intimately familiar but with a twist. Daytrotter delights not only with the outstanding recording, but likewise with unique illustrations and interesting biographies and write-ups that accompany each session. This is a music site without many peers.

    I recently had the pleasure of asking Daytrotter founder, Sean Moeller, a few questions about the studio, the recording process, the bands and the technology that make Daytrotter such a magical experience. So no matter if you’ve never heard of Daytrotter before or already a fan of the site, read on to learn more about one of my favorite music sites on the web. In addition, we have a complimentary subscription for one of our lucky readers.

    The problem with music on the web now is certainly not quantity. Music is ubiquitous with hundreds of streaming and download sites. Many services offer tens of millions of tracks from virtually any artist or genre you can imagine.  Many services let you check out what your friends are listening to or even listen in with them. Others offer up suggestions based on a computer algorithm. However, it is tough to find a fresh stream of quality content that you can’t find anywhere else. Seemingly, everything is everywhere. Yet on Daytrotter, you’ll find recorded sessions that you can’t find anywhere else.  You can either enjoy by streaming from the website, listening  from mobile apps or downloading for playback on any device. With the likes of such bands as Mumford and Sons, Los Lobos, MGMT, The Avett Brothers, Bela Fleck, Grizzly Bear, Bon Iver, Umphrey’s McGee, The Tallest Man on Earth, The Barr Brothers and hundreds and hundreds more, the Daytrotter catalog is stocked to the gills with an archive absolutely busting at the seams.

    The archives continue to  expand as every week over fifty tracks from a dozen or more bands are added to the site. It is always a treat listening to these sessions as you really feel like a fly on the wall during the recording. An intimate setting, a stripped down recording process with no over-dubs or editing and stunning clarity in the analog master reel adds to the mystique and enjoyment of the final recordings. While not every artist can appeal to everyone, Daytrotter has an extraordinary knack for culling not only the best quality performers but for getting the best out of them on each performance.

    Tracks can be saved into custom playlists or you can enjoy playlists put together by Daytrotter. The “Daytrotter Artists Nominated for Grammys (2013)” is but one of many playlists and also demonstrates the depth of the catalog (Carolina Chocolate Drops, Alabama Shakes, Fun, Mumford and Sons, Jimmy Cliff, Aimee Mann, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes among many others). In-depth band biographies and write-ups accompany every session. It is much more than just a streaming site – Daytrotter is a beautiful music blog coupled with the unique artwork that is also custom painted for every artist.

    In addition to the new weekly sessions that are served up every day Monday through Friday and the archived sessions, Daytrotter offers access to videos from their Barnstormer Concert series and other performances. Live sessions where you can listen in at the studio as the performance happens and a great shop with one-of-a-kind vinyl LP’s, posters and other hard-to-find merchandise are but a few of the other aspects of the Daytrotter experience.

    I figured the best way to learn a bit more about this peerless studio and website was to ask the visionary behind it all, the founder of Daytrotter, Sean Moeller, a few questions. He was gracious enough to find the time between welcoming all the artists into the studio, the writing he does for the sessions and planning the upcoming schedules and Barnstormer tours to answer all my questions.

    [Daytrotter Webpage with integrated player controls]

    Parker Harrington: Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me a little bit more about Daytrotter. I guess I should start right there. What exactly IS Daytrotter and how did it come about? It is a lot more than just a recording studio right?

    Sean Moeller:  Well, we’re mostly a website that happens to have a bunch of recording studios all over the world. We like to think of Daytrotter as this finely curated land of wonderful music, with a lot of art and love rolled into it. We’re a place that you can come and listen to familiar things feel unfamiliar again, where you can make incredible discoveries.

    PH: Definitely, I have found a slew of new music lately that I never would have discovered without Daytrotter. What was the first session you recorded? Did it click immediately in your head that you were onto something special that was going to work and appeal to a lot of people?

    SM: The first two sessions we did were with Catfish Haven and Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin and while it didn’t click immediately that we were onto something special, it did feel right and while we were making up as we went, there was a really cool feeling coming out of that afternoon that did make it seem like maybe this was a good idea in a lot of ways.

    PH: How many sessions have you done so far? What are some of your most memorable sessions or favorite ones?

    SM: We’ve taped over 3,000 sessions since 2006. Almost all of them are memorable in different ways for me, but the ones we did with Glen Campbell, Will Oldham, Mumford and Sons and Kris Kristofferson will always stand out no matter what else happens.

    PH: Can you tell me a little bit about how the scheduling works? How many bands per week do you typically record? Is it a combination of you reaching out to performers and them contacting you? How do you decide who would be good fits for Daytrotter?

    SM: It really all comes down to what I like — what I think we can do something great with in the studio. Everything goes through me. It’s a bit of everything when it comes to booking the sessions. I reach out plenty, but I’m bombarded enough to not have to do that if I didn’t want to. We tape between 15-20 sessions a week — sometimes more and sometimes less.

    PH: Is every session that is recorded made available or are some not released due to quality or other issues?

    SM: Everything goes up on the site. We don’t really let a band leave unless they’re happy. There have been only a couple of occasions over our seven years when we haven’t been happy with the finished session, or when a technical mess up occurred. You could count them on one hand.

    PH: How does the artwork come about? Is it done day of performance?

    SM: The great Johnnie does all of the artwork by hand — markers and ink. They aren’t done the day of performance, but typically from photographs that we take the day of the sessions. Johnnie uses those as the basis for the drawings.

    [Every Daytrotter Session is illustrated with artwork. Here, the Carolina Chocolate Drops]

    PH: So in addition to these illustrations by Johnnie, every band gets a pretty compelling essay written up, correct? I find these such a fascinating part of the Daytrotter experience. How many writers do you have?

    SM: Just me. I’ve written every essay and Johnnie’s drawn every illustration.

    PH: Another pretty cool thing about Daytrotter for me is seeing up and coming bands featured side-by-side with international headliners and other major acts. All receive equal treatment – in regard to not only session length, but quality of the essay as well as everything else. Was that a conscious decision or did it just evolve like that?

    SM: It’s the way I’ve always wanted the site to be — a level-playing field where we’re not giving anyone any preferential treatment. I’ve always liked the idea of presenting artists and not giving a grade or blowing something up more than you would for someone who only 50 people know about, just because they’re massive superstars. I like the idea of everyone getting the same fair shot to have their music heard and it’s pretty tough to do. I’m really proud of how we’ve done it and we’re going to keep doing it that way. If someone’s on Daytrotter, it’s because I think they’re good and worthy of a lot of people listening to them. It’s up to the listeners to decide if they like it or not. I’m not going to try and influence them any more than presenting the bands to them.

    PH: What bands that you’ve had in over the past year, that may not be well known, do you think will have a big 2013?

    SM: I think Night Beds made a beautiful record. I think PAPA should be huge. Shovels & Rope, Esme Patterson and Rayland Baxter made wonderful records. I really like the On An On and Big Harp records. Duologue is sick. Anna Ash and Jenn Grant are tremendous. I’m really excited about Wampire, Magic Man, PHOX, Swim Lessons, Pacific Air, Murals, Future of What, Mean Lady, Wild Cub, Ponychase, Shakey Graves and Kelsey Waldon too. So much good stuff out there!

    PH: What is a typical day for a recording artist or band that comes to Daytrotter?

    SM: The whole thing takes about two hours from arrival to departure. There’s either some coffee or beer drunk and we shoot the shit for a while and then they’re sadly back in their vans, headed away from us to a bar.

    PH: Can people visit Daytrotter… sit in on any of the recording sessions?

    SM: Not really – they need to know the secret handshake. Some days it works, but most of the time that doesn’t work. We might start letting more secret handshakes work soon though.

    PH: How can Daytrotter fans keep track of all the new sessions – there’s a Twitter feed of upcoming sessions? And you can opt-in for email notifications?

    SM: Yeah, we’re pretty active on social media. It’s a pretty constant flow coming out of us. And we have a daily email newsletter that tells people about the sessions and live streams that are happening that day.

    PH: The sessions really sound amazing acoustically. What makes the sound so crisp and warm? Are people too accustomed to overly post-processed music? Sometimes I really feel like I am right there in the recording studio.

    SM: I think we just have some great engineers and importantly, the bands that come in to do sessions with us put themselves in our engineers’ hands. They have heard our recordings and they realize that they can trust them to make them sound good. I think that’s a huge thing. We record to tape. That’s another.

    PH: So people can stream from the web and members can download the tracks and listen back anyway they like, correct? What format are the downloads? Can people also listen from apps for Android and iOS? How about connected devices like Sonos?

    SM: That’s correct. The majority of the downloads are at 320(kbps). There is a small amount of stuff at lossless, but we can’t afford to do that for everything so that’s a premium and we’re not really adding to that list these days. We have iPhone and Android apps, yes — both of which allow you to listen to everything on the site as well as tune in to the live audio streams of the sessions as they’re being taped. We’re looking into Sonos. [Parker's note: I ended up discovering that most of the Daytrotter sessions are accessible from Wolfgang's Vault if you are a member there. Sonos streams Wolfgang's Vault so you can access them that way already]

    PH: Besides being able to download the sessions, what are the other benefits of becoming a Daytrotter member?

    SM: We’ve started releasing limited editions of Daytrotter sessions on vinyl and members get a great deal on those (all members get 25% off of everything in the Daytrotter store). We have promotional deals with each vinyl release where if a person purchases a new annual membership or gifts an annual membership, they get the vinyl being offered for free (minus shipping).

    PH: In addition to the sessions that you record there in Rock Island, you also put on highly acclaimed tours. Can you tell me a bit about those for people that have never attended one? What makes them different than any other summer concert?

    SM: We put on shows in old barns, mostly here in the Midwest. They’re pretty difficult to describe in that you can’t fully understand how incredible it is to see Delta Spirit or Dawes or anyone, really, play in a beautiful old barn in the middle of nowhere without actually having been there yourself. It’s truly magical!

    PH: Any details that you can let us in on for the Barnstormer 2013 tour?

    SM: Not yet. Hopefully soon.

    PH: What most excites you as you begin looking forward to next year?

    SM: A little bit of everything. We’ve got some exciting plans for this coming year, many of which are going to get going very soon. Can’t wait to see the new year.

    PH: If you had to pick one band or artist that hasn’t yet visited Daytrotter- who would it be?

    SM: Willie Nelson. Let’s do this!


    Membership is just $24/year which affords the member not only the ability to stream an unlimited amount of HD tracks from either the website or robust Android or iOS apps but also to download unlimited tracks, access to all the videos and a 25% discount at the store. And if all that isn’t enough, in a current deal that seems too good to be true, with a yearly subscription of $24, you receive a $20 coupon for use in the Daytrotter store. Pick up a hoodie, T-Shirt, poster or other one of a kind rock memorabilia. If vinyl is your thing, there’s some interesting choices including Trampled by Turtles, Doc Watson, Dawes and various compilations.

    Hidden Track has a complimentary one-year subscription for one of our lucky readers. Just leave a note below telling us that you want to enter the contest and we’ll randomly pick a winner sometime early next week.

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    The third annual SnowBall Music Festival will take place in the “majestic mountain paradise” of Winter Park, Colorado on March 8 – 10. Today we got our first look at the lineup as the initial artist announcement has been released. HT faves Pretty Lights, Portugal. The Man, Rubblebucket and Big Gigantic are all aboard as well as Zion I, Kendrick Lamar, Datsik, Flosstradamus, Porter Robinson and Crizzly w/ Lil Flip.

    The event combines a music festival with a skiing/snowboarding event. All in all, SnowBall ’13 will feature approximately 65 acts on four stages, so there’s plenty more to be announced. “From the beginning, SnowBall has always sought to offer a unique experience, and to create something that hasn’t been done before. It’s incredible how many people who attend SnowBall ski and snowboard each day of the festival, and somehow still have the energy to experience the music festival from beginning to end, followed by the late-night shows until two in the morning. Our fans’ energy and attitude is ultimately what shapes the event, which is why I know they are going to love Winter Park and the vibe that the town caters to,” festival founder Chad Donnelly explains.

    While Snow Day and Early Bird Tickets are sold out, there’s special Holiday tickets available for $149 a pop at the event’s website as well as VIP Advance tickets.

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