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Classic Rock Magazine

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    Two of our favorite jam acts will team up this October for a pair of shows at Family Circle Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina on October 4 and 5. Jam titans Widespread Panic will headline with Chicago-based sextet Umphrey’s McGee on as support.

    Panic and UM have crossed paths a number of times. Our favorite occurrence on July 13, 2010 when UM keyboardist Joel Cummins sat in with Widespread on Space Wrangler and No Sugar Tonight / New Mother Nature. We’d be very surprised if the two groups don’t collaborate in Charleston. Tickets go on sale this Friday, May 17, at 10AM ET via Ticketmaster and at the venue’s box office.

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    Equifunk was originally supposed to finish up after breakfast on Sunday morning, August 18. Today, Equifunk organizers have announced that instead they will offer a full day of music on the 18th. Jon Fishman and Pork Tornado have been tapped as headliners for Equifunk’s Sunday Series.

    For those who already purchased Equifunk tickets, you’ll get the extra day of music for free. Note that the “all-inclusive” part of the fest does still end at breakfast on Sunday. Organizers do say they will have food and drink available for purchase throughout Sunday. The rest of the Sunday schedule will be announced soon.

    Soulive and the Shady Horns with Maceo Parker, The New Mastersounds, JJ Grey with Mofro, Anders Osborne and Keller Williams with More Than A Little are among the acts set to play Equifunk 13′, which takes place at Camps Equinunk and Blue Ridge in Pennsylvania’s Poconos on Aug. 16 – 18.

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    If you’re a Phil Lesh fan who doesn’t live in the Bay Area, you can’t do much better than living in NYC. In addition to all the Phil & Friends shows he’s played in the NYC area and the recently-completed Capitol Theatre run, Phil has just announced four intimate shows with the house band of Phil’s Terrapin Crossroads venue – the Terrapin Family Band. These will be the group’s first East Coast gigs.

    Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band will play the extremely small Sullivan Hall in New York City’s Greenwich Village on June 4 – 6. Then, on the 7th, the ensemble will set sail on the 210-foot Infinity Yacht, which departs Pier 40 on West Houston St. in NYC at 9PM.

    The Terrapin Family Band features Brian James Lesh, Grahame Lesh, Ross James, Scott Padden, and Alex Koford. Phil is set to join them for all four shows. A limited amount of tickets are available via the Terrapin Crossroads Store. We’re sure they’ll go quick!

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    Close to seven years ago, I wrote a piece for Earvolution entitled The Ten Greatest Books About Rock And Roll. Motivated by arrogance, entitlement and a desire to prove that Largehearted Boy wasn’t the only Internet journalist that reads, I felt perfectly comfortable in proclaiming a finite set of books as the elite strata of rock and roll journalism. In a revelation that should surprise no one, I was quickly disabused of the motion that I covered the subject adequately. Even subjective endeavors such as “best of” lists can have some objectively egregious omissions.

    [Photo by Petr Kratochvil]

    With a little less arrogance and entitlement (but equal desire to show that others beside LHB can write about the written word), the original Earvolution list of ten has been refined and expanded to a full dozen. Anyone wishing to become well-versed and well-rounded in music from the business side to the listener side could do much worse than to stock their library, in no particular order, with the following twelve books.

    Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey In Rural North Dakota – Chuck Klosterman (2001)

    Klosterman begins Fargo Rock City intent on explaining and defending his fascination with heavy metal, especially hair metal. Acknowledging that his love of Motley Crue and KISS often brings puzzled, disappointed looks to his friends’ faces, Klosterman refuses to apologize or retreat from the music he unabashedly loves. In addressing the arguments of the genre’s detractors head-on, Klosterman focuses on the inclusiveness of the themes found in heavy metal, contrasting them to the exclusive, “we’re cooler than you” motif present in other genres. Klosterman disproves, or at least rationalizes in fascinating detail, the misconceptions about male chauvinism and Satanism always attributed to the genre, taking delight in pointing out the fallacies or logical missteps in the contrarian views.

    In defining why this music spoke to him as a teenager in rural North Dakota and explaining why it still does, Klosterman steps into the role of everyman; stretching beyond the singular, Klosterman explains the appeal of hard rock and hair metal in such simple, easy-to-understand terms, you’ll find yourself tempted to purchase Shout At The Devil based solely on his love for his favorite Crue album. Klosterman, a pop culture maven, doesn’t limit his discussion to bands like Van Halen, Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row and Warrant; he discusses practically every relevant or remotely popular band from the Eighties to the present. By the end of Fargo Rock City, Klosterman has gone beyond explaining his love of metal and written a treatise of why we like the music we like. In answering the question of why we are attracted to certain music, Klosterman may very well have written the best book ever about rock and roll.

    Chronicles: Volume 1 – Bob Dylan (2004)

    Only a handful of musicians have ever been as socially relevant as Bob Dylan. Even fewer have been as puzzling and enigmatic about their own music and concomitant celebrity as the mercurial folk singer from Minnesota. In Chronicles: Volume 1 (rumors abound that work is afoot on Volume 2), Dylan makes no effort to tell his story in chronological order, picking and choosing select points from his illustrious career on which to finally offer his definitive insights.

    Inspired by the writing style found in Douglas Brinkley’s compilation of Hunter S. Thompson’s correspondence, Dylan’s discourses are practically streams of consciousness. Although his story starts at the beginning – covering his travels to New York, his formative years in the folk clubs on the Lower East Side and the influence of Dave Van Ronk – he soon bounces around to various points of his storied legacy. Anyone looking for a narrative tale on the genesis of Blowin’ In The Wind or the making of Blonde On Blonde will be deeply disappointed by Chronicles: Volume 1; Dylan apparently doesn’t find these stories interesting.

    Assuming that you already know who he is and what he’s done, Dylan tells his story the way he wishes to tell it: with disjointed eloquence. During the lengthy section devoted to the recording of Oh Mercy under Daniel Lanois’ supervision, he not once mentions the name of the album. The most fascinating revelations in the book come early on. Having unwillingly become the voice of his generation, Dylan’s unease at the attempts to position him as the leader of a revolution in which he had no interest only adds another level of depth to an already complicated persona.

    Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History Of Punk – Legs McNeill & Gillian McCain (1997)

    Presented in the words of those that lived through it, Please Kill Me presents the rise and fall of punk rock without exposition or outside context. Although McNeill & McCain credit the emergence of the MC5 and The Stooges from Michigan as punk rock’s starting point, the oral history attributes its development to the fertile soil that was New York City in the Seventies.

    Facing bankruptcy and rife with crime, Manhattan’s lower east side served as a Petrie dish for punk rock’s outbursts of guttural, aggressive guitar based rock. The glam of the New York Dolls, the poetry of Patti Smith, the hip, leathery cool of Richard Hell and Television all rose from the sheer decrepitude of Seventies era New York City. The music and its surroundings simply became inextricable from each other. In that regard, Please Kill Me doesn’t ignore the rise of punk rock overseas. However, the New York punk scene looked down its nose at its English counterpart, finding the anarchy, violence and gobbing to be a warped interpretation of whatever served as the punk ideal. Although many perceived The Sex Pistols to be the quintessential punk rock band, those close to the action saw them as an attempt to reinvent The New York Dolls and present punk rock to the mainstream.

    Sadly underscoring the narrative, many of the musicians that are emblematic of punk rock’s lasting influence could barely be trusted to run their own lives. It’s unclear whether McNeill & McCain intended to present the effects of heroin and drug use in an unglamorous light but the stories concerning Iggy Pop, Johnny Thunders, Richard Hell, Dee Dee Ramone, Sid Vicious and others paint a harrowing picture of how drug use both fueled and destroyed the punk rock movement. Besides being wildly entertaining – it seems everyone has a Lou Reed story simply more bizarre than the next – the true import of Please Kill Me is its affirmation of the fact that all true rock and roll movements are created by outsiders that don’t just refuse to conform to the status quo, they affirmatively and loudly reject it.

    The Mansion On The Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen and Springsteen and the Head-On Collision Of Rock and Commerce – Fred Goodman (1997)

    In the late sixties and early seventies, major record companies sensed the tremendous amount of money to be made from rock and roll. With The Beatles and The Rolling Stones paving the way, the earning potential of major superstar acts was just being tapped. In this era, music became an industry. Fred Goodman’s book tells the story of how rock and roll moved from a communal experience between the artist and their fans to a business full of management agreements and onerous one-sided record deals. In turning grass roots, populist sensations into mainstream superstar attractions, the square peg that was rock and roll got crammed, kicking and screaming, into the round hole of corporate America.

    The Mansion On The Hill tells the major stories of this time, beginning with the inculcation of the iconoclastic Bob Dylan into the corporate sphere. The erosion of the manager/musician relationship gets full treatment, best typified by the irreconcilable differences between Bruce Springsteen and Mike Appel that delayed the release of Darkness On The Edge Of Town and helped give birth to the modern day management agreement. (Mark Elliot’s Down Thunder Road, written with Appel’s assistance and containing deposition testimony from the lawsuit provides a more detailed account of the Springsteen/Appel rift). Through Neil Young and Don Henley, Goodman tackles the thorny issues of art-for-hire, examining the conflict between the artist wanting to create music that appeals to them and their label’s potentially competing desire for a marketable “product” to sell. All of the contractual conventions prevalent between managers, record labels and the artists evolved slowly, arising from the natural conflict that exists between art and commerce. Goodman’s book covers the maturation of the music industry with a detached but well-informed interest, making The Mansion On The Hill required reading for anyone with an interest in finding a career in the music industry.

    Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From The American Indie Underground 1981-1991 – Michael Azerrad (2001)

    Long before Clap Your Hands Say Yeah became MySpace heroes and Radiohead reached such simpatico with its fans that it could let them name their own price for an album, hardcore bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat, alternative acts like The Butthole Surfers and Husker Du and burgeoning legends like The Replacements and Sonic Youth sketched out the analog DIY playbook for connecting with an audience without the aid or assistance of a big time record label.

    In Our Band Could Be Your Life, Azerrad chronicles musicians from all over the United States that made their band their life and the small labels like SST, Dischord and Touch & Go that arose as truly independent record companies. Embodying the adage that necessity is the mother of invention, hardcore bands played afternoon shows for their underage fans that couldn’t come to clubs at night while others provided an outlet and rallying point for the straight-edge punks that eschewed druggy excesses in favor of an intoxicant free lifestyle. Fanzines, fan clubs, homemade record labels and endless touring were somewhat novel approaches in the Eighties and it bore fruit in the development of a truly independent universe of rock and roll.

    Indie labels weren’t boutiques designed to impress the world with their hip credentials, they served an integral purpose of attempting to meet the burgeoning demand with an extremely limited budget. The unifying theme of the thirteen chapters – each on a different band – is the self-sufficiency with which each band created their own underground movement and escaped obscurity. Once Sub Pop released Nevermind and Nirvana became the mainstream kings of alternative rock, the indie labels became big enough to no longer be truly indie. The moment passed but the DIY ethic would live on, taking on new dimensions in the Internet era.

    Juliet, Naked – Nick Hornby (2009)

    In Juliet, Naked, Hornby examines the interaction between obsessive music fans and the object of their obsession. The story involves a reclusive rocker named Tucker Crowe who earned his spot in the rock and roll pantheon by releasing one of the finest albums of all time, Juliet, an album borne of heartbreak inspired by a married woman who Crowe loved and lost. Adding to Crowe’s legendary status is his mysterious withdrawal from the public eye after suddenly quitting the music business after a visit to a bathroom in a CBGB-style punk club in the midst of a tour.

    With the Internet providing a forum for Crowe’s small but fervent fanbase to scrutinize the meaning of his every lyric, share and critique their armchair psychoanalysis into his unexplained disappearance and disclose the results of their amateur sleuthing into his present whereabouts, his popularity amongst his fans refuses to wane. In disclosing the truth behind Juliet and separating the fact from the fiction of Crowe’s life with Lost-quality reveals, Hornby explores our desire to set rock stars on a pedestal. Suffused with the desire to find meaning where there very well may be none, do fans simply create their own myths to supply answers to unanswerable questions?

    In Juliet, Naked, Hornby thoroughly exposes the flaws of believing you can truly know someone solely through their art. The High Fidelity author addresses the point of view of an artist whose fans yearn for music from a bygone period of their life and the anger he harbors for those who appreciate art that he no longer values. It brings to mind Kurt Cobain’s refusal to play “Smells Like Teen Spirit and the fact that Liz Phair probably has conflicted feelings about the people who buy tickets to her shows in the hopes she sings twenty year old songs about a period of her life she has long outgrown. Though Hornby presents the conundrum in an interesting context, he resolves the scenario with his customary sympathy for the music fan.

    I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution – Rob Tannenbaum & Craig Marks (2011)

    In putting together their oral history on MTV’s formative years, former Blender editors Rob Tannenbaum and Craig Marks interviewed more than 400 people to assemble the definitive tome on the network that can lay claim to being the single most influential force on music in the Eighties. Replete with juicy stories about the decadence endemic to the music industry during one of its fertile periods, Tannenbaum & Marks give ample space to the emergence of the era’s superstars – Michael Jackson, Madonna, Duran Duran, Van Halen and Prince – detail the network’s’ reluctant embrace of black artists, rap and hip-hop and memorialize the conflicting accounts of who properly deserves credit for MTV’s success.

    Making this more than a colorful history of sex, drugs, lies and videotape, the narrative resonates beyond the simple story of MTV’s golden years (1980 – 1992). In shining an unflinching spotlight on the mindset of the music business in the ’80s, Tannenbaum & Marks unfold a story that presages a music industry doomed to repeat their historic blunders because they fail to remember the past. Many of the same missteps that resulted from the failure to grasp the benefits of MTV were repeated in the digital age. In the same way the major labels gave the house to MTV because they didn’t recognize its potential, they did it two decades later when Steve Jobs knocked on their door.

    Psychotic Reactions And Carburetor Dung – Lester Bangs (1988)

    One of the preeminent music critics of his era, Lester Bangs will probably be known to most casual music fans through Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of the socially dysfunctional writer in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. For those unfamiliar with Bangs, between 1973 and 1982, he worked as a freelance writer for Rolling Stone, Creem, The Village Voice and New Music Express. Bangs wrote with an earthy but earnest eloquence usually reserved for poets and playwrights. He wrote about music in a way that fanatics could immediately identify with and that casual fans could easily understand.

    Bangs not only captured the aura of the artist or the substance of the music but also its importance and relevance. He wrote with a sense of urgency that showed that he believed that music could be vital to one’s existential well-being. Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung is a compilation of some of Bangs’ finer articles, containing the best of his album reviews, interviews and screeds. Of course, no Bangs reader would be complete without a couple dissertations on the genius of Lou Reed. The review of Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks that opens the book is not only a fine example of Bangs’ scholarly manic writing but one of the most intelligently crafted, insightful album reviews ever written. Where Klosterman succeeds in explaining why music matters to us as individuals, Bangs goes further: explaining why music matters to us as a society.

    Appetite For Self Destruction: The Spectacular Crash Of The Record Industry in the Digital Age – Steve Knopper (2009)

    When did the music business become such a mess? Why is there an expectation that music should be free? When people seem to be more interested in new music than ever before, why are the major labels hurting so badly? How did the most informed and highest paid executives in the music industry – the best and the brightest – completely bungle the digital transformation of the business? Through countless interviews and meticulous research, Rolling Stone’s Steve Knopper answers these questions, compiling the myriad of stories and anecdotes about the major label’s handling of the emergence of digital technology into Appetite For Self-Destruction, a compact narrative that moves briskly through thirty years of colorful characters, questionable calls and misguided decisions.

    Starting with the death of disco and an entertaining explanation of Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, Knopper charts the ensuing recession in the music industry and its rescue by Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the invention of the compact disc and the rise of boy bands like ‘NSync and The Backstreet Boys. Documenting the major labels’ fascination with selling “pieces of plastic,” Appetite For Self-Destruction succinctly sets forth and explains the mindset that led to an entire industry missing the boat by refusing to embrace mp3s and online distribution.

    Unsurprisingly, the most interesting characters that emerge are Shawn Fanning, Napster’s boy genius that the labels tried to turn into the poster child for piracy and theft, and Steve Jobs, who co-opted the online market while the labels were more interested in suing their own customers for copyright infringement. Apple’s iPod radically transformed how people would listen to music and instead of foreseeing its arrival, the labels fiddled while their Rome burned.

    Ultimately, Knopper comes to the same conclusion that everyone had reached before his book was published: the music industry’s failure to adapt to the new digital landscape can be summed up in one word – greed. Too much money was being made on the markup of exorbitantly priced compact discs for them to relinquish their iron grip on their cash cow. Knowing the end of the story doesn’t diminish the impact of learning how it came to be.

    Ticket Masters: The Rise of the Concert Industry and How The Public Got Scalped – Dean Budnick & Josh Baron (2011)

    This past December, a seat on the floor to see The Rolling Stones at Brooklyn’s Barclays Arena cost $750 and the service charge exceeded the cost of a ticket to see Bruce Springsteen at Giants Stadium on the 1985 Born In The U.S.A. tour. How we got to this point isn’t that simple and the heroes and villains aren’t all that well-defined. Well, unless you are part of the ticket-buying public. Then, mostly everyone wears a black hat.

    In the present day, Ticketmaster serves as Bogeyman, Lucifer, Alpha, Omega, be-all and end-all of everything perceived to be wrong with the concert industry. A domineering, omnipresence in the ticketing process (just don’t call it a monopoly), Ticketmaster serves as the easiest target for the collective scorn of all disgruntled concert-goers. Whether that reputation is deserved turns out to be quite complicated. Throughout the ticketing giant’s battles with Pearl Jam, String Cheese Incident and the Grateful Dead, there are various shades of gray to stories that have traditionally been told in black and white.

    In documenting the evolution of the live music business from the days of Ticketron and overnight campouts through the rise of SFX Entertainment and Clear Channel to the secondary ticketing market, the narrative ends with the artists’ coming to the realization that the premium their audience will pay should fill their coffers. Budnick and Baron’s tome may occasionally take overly technical turns into the mechanics of the ticketing systems and the minutia of business deals but it also leaves no stone unturned in covering the development of the live music industry and documenting the exponential rise of ticket prices.

    FM: The Rise And Fall Of Rock Radio – Richard Neer (2001)

    In telling the story about the rise and fall of 102.7 WNEW, New York City’s greatest FM classic rock station, Richard Neer, who served as a DJ as well as the station’s program director, also tells the tale of the shift from DJ oriented free-form radio shows to playlists dictated by programming directors.

    Throughout the book, Neer relates anecdotes of the heyday of New York classic rock radio when DJs like Scott Muni and The Nightbird Allison Steele were given free reign to play the music that spoke to them, effectively becoming the link between artists and their audience. In relating WNEW’s history, Neer mourns the bygone days when a DJ and a radio station had a bond with their listeners and could be responsible, through the simple act of playing a song, make a star. Of course, with such responsibility comes corruption; Neer doesn’t shy away from that aspect of the business, confronting the payola issue head on and showing its effect on the creation, development and eventual dominance of the program director.

    Having been at WNEW through the best and worst of times, Neer shares his excitement of broadcasting young Bruce Springsteen’s legendary concerts from The Bottom Line, his shock over John Lennon’s murder and the difficulties of remaining on the air and the emergence of Howard Stern and the industry-changing effect his success had on non-talk radio. Neer revels in the fertile times in which radio played a vital role in the rock and roll community, offering a eulogy for what has been lost in the commercialization and homogenization of the industry. If anything, Neer gets bonus points for telling the true life story that inspired WKRP In Cincinnati’s classic episode involving the Thanksgiving Day turkey drop that inspired the classic line, “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

    The Commitments – Roddy Doyle (1988/1989)

    Better known to most from Alan Parker’s fantastic cinematic adaptation, The Commitments originally came to life in the first novel of Roddy Doyle’s Barrytown Trilogy (the only one to focus on the would-be manager Jimmy Rabbitte). Doyle’s basic story of a remarkably talented soul troupe that comes together in the ghettoes of Dublin, Ireland, only to burn out brightly instead of fading away, remains substantially untouched in Parker’s film.

    The story of The Commitments may be a universal, oft-told tale but it is one with multiple fictional and non-fictional variations. While Doyle’s narrative style wouldn’t put the book on this list, his description of the music does. Most novels with music at the thematic core fail to captivate the reader because the writer lacks the skill to have the music sing on the page. In describing the music played by The Commitments, especially James Brown’s “Night Train,” Doyle’s syntax, grammar and wordplay reproduce on paper the exact notes heard in the concert hall.

    To enjoy The Commitments, you don’t need to have ever heard any of the songs in order to hear them in your mind. Not an easy task under any circumstances. If you have heard the songs, Doyle’s literary accomplishment in making the audio component of music vibrant on the page becomes abundantly clear

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    One of the many cool traditions that Phil Lesh has instilled at his Terrapin Crossroads venue in San Rafael, Calif. is the Sunday Brunch. Diners at the venue’s restaurant are treated to mostly acoustic tuneage while they enjoy their meals. For instance, at this past Sunday’s Mother Day Brunch, Phil’s son Grahame led a few of his buddies through a set and was later joined by his father and Furthur guitarist John Kadlecik. Not a bad way to spend an early Sunday afternoon in the Bay Area.

    Watch Grahame Lesh, Phil Lesh, Kadlecik and Connor O’Sullivan perform Brown-Eyed Women at this past Sunday’s Mother’s Day Brunch, held at Terrapin Crossroads…

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    Yesterday was Daft Punk Day on the internet as Random Access Memories finally hit the world wide web. It seemed as if everyone needed to make sure to get their two cents in whether they liked the album or just wanted to get it out there that they felt the album was all hype and no substance.

    Connecticut’s the Stepkids got in on Daft Punk Day by releasing a jazzy cover of Random Access Memories’ first single – Get Lucky. The trio’s interpretation is incredibly smooth, but not in a cheesy Kenny G. type of way. We especially like the harmonies. Check it out…

    [via @MKDevo]

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    HT faves Grace Potter and Nocturnals have an extremely busy summer planned as they’ll be opening for the Dave Matthews Band, Robert Plant, The Avett Brothers and the Allman Brothers Band by the time September rolls around. The band will also headline their own Grand Point North Festival on September 14 and 15 at Waterfront Park in Burlington, Vermont.

    [Photo by Brian Jenkins]

    Joining Grace and the Nocs at this year’s fest will be Gov’t Mule, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires, City and Colour, Felice Brothers, and Shovels & Rope. Other acts set to play include Scott Tournet & Ver La Luz, Natalies Prass feat. Benny Yurco, and locals Kat Wright & The Indomitable Soul Band, Rough Francis, Joshua Panda and the Hot Damned, Paper Castles, Alpenglow and Belle Pines. Potter has also added a handful of headlining dates to her tour.

    If you’re not into a night with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, then maybe you’ll be interested in hitting one of these recently announced tours…

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    Toubab Krewe & Ghost Owl @ Brooklyn Bowl – May 10

    Photos: Andrew Blackstein

    HT faves Toubab Krewe completed a two-night stand at Brooklyn Bowl in NYC on Friday night. The Asheville-based band brought along Ghost Owl as support. Friday night’s Ghost Owl set was the group’s first NYC performance as the band has only been performing live for a little more than a month since Perpetual Groove (which featured three members of Ghost Owl) started an indefinite hiatus.

    [All Photos by Andrew Blackstein]

    Photog Andrew Blackstein was on hand an captured both bands in action…


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    Ghost Owl Audio

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    It’s exhilarating capturing video from action sports or adventures like mountain biking, white water rafting, scuba diving, skydiving and other intense sports. Sometimes it is also fun to capture footage on a stroll around a festival site, a leisurely hike through a mountain pass or even a back-road trip on a 4×4, snow mobile or a Jeep. Yet unless one was willing to drop a couple hundred dollars, there really has not been an affordable action camera for the occasional user. Until now.

    Monoprice’s MHD Action Camera is one of the most affordable POV camera yet. Opening up action videography to a huge market (that may only be a sporadic user and unwilling to spend $200-$400 on offerings from GoPro, Sony and others) the Monoprice camera doesn’t skimp on quality, durability, or ease of use. Offering 1080p HD video in a fully waterproof body with good battery life and a compact, lightweight form factor, this camera is quite amazing for a little less than $100. Read on the view examples of videos and learn more about this camera.

    In A Nutshell: This is a bullet-style action camera weighing less than four ounces and able to record three hours of video at up to 1920×1080 resolution on a single charge. Fully waterproof to 30′ deep along with being shock, dust and freeze proof allow you to record practically anywhere your adventures take you. An intuitively designed recording slider switch allows for quick recording on the fly even under intense conditions. The video quality is very good at 30 frames/sec. and 24-bit color depth. An included handle-bar or pole mount coupled with the standard 1/4″ threaded mount allow for many mounting options. Optional helmet, suction and board mounts are sold separately.

    Use: Charge the camera with the included USB cable and insert a micro-SD card (not included) into the slot and you’ll be ready to shoot three hours of video on a single charge. The top slider initiates recording and is accompanied by a relatively strong vibration so you can be sure you are recording if you can’t look at the recording LED indicator (say, if mounted on your bike helmet). All the settings are accessed through a utility program when connected to your computer. Barring a toggle switch that changes between 720p and 1080p, there are no settings or switches on the camera to be accidentally bumped or switched to ruin your recordings. An HDMI output allows for viewing on any monitor you want. You can also simply mount your camera as an external storage device to your computer and drag your files over and do what you want with them like any other digital camera. Likewise, you can of course remove the micro-SD and insert into anything else you want. The quality switch, USB port and HDMI port as well as the SD card slot are all located behind a small cover that twists on and off and locks into place.

    [Back of camera with locking cap in place and attached to quick release mounting adapter]

    Video & Sound Quality The video is surprisingly high quality for a video camera of this price and size. The 1080p HD resolution provides not only great detail but also fantastic colors with great saturation. Filming outdoors with plenty of light provides the best results offering bright blue skies, lush green grass and intricate detail with no digital noise or other aberrations. Filming under low light situations, the quality becomes less pristine but still acceptable. The frame rate is only 30 frames per second, so with extremely quick movement or jarring camera movements, you’ll get some wobble effects. Likewise, there is no anti-shake built into the camera, so if you have excessive shakiness, you may need to use a video editing program to take care of that. Below, is an example of video when driving with the camera attached to the front bumper of a Jeep with the included bar mount and then hand carried for last minute or so. You’ll notice great colors, nice detail and minor shakiness here and there. The field of view is about 120 degrees which is relatively wide but not quite as wide as more expensive competitors. (No post processing has been done to any of the video files embedded in this column except for adding a music track.)

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    [Attached to bumper of Jeep]

    The audio quality is acceptable and what you would expect from a waterproof camera or mobile phone. The microphone is very sensitive and can pick up dialogue and other quiet sounds relatively clearly. Even loud sounds like boat motors come across clearly and not blown out. Don’t expect stereo recordings that you’ll want to listen to solely for the audio quality. In other words, the mic is great for capturing your action event but not for archiving concert audio.

    Click here to view the embedded video.

    [Underwater yields great results also - rich colors and fine details]

    Build Quality and Design: I love the design of this camera. A simple slider for recording with great form factor and lightweight. The included bar mount and the other optional mounts all click into place with a satisfyingly loud ‘click’ to give you the assurance your hardware is mounted properly. The design of the mounts allow you to quickly change from mount to mount if needed without any hassle. While the camera feels sturdy with it’s one piece design, much of the body is made from plastic. Tough to test a device for longevity in a short time, but the limited amount of abuse I was able to direct towards the camera was all taken in stride. Only time will tell how much abuse the camera can take, but early indicators are quite good.

    Other Things to Know: 

    • The Action Cam can also be used as a regular camera with a shutter release button right in front of the recording slider. A press of the button snaps a picture of relatively good quality and 5 megapixels. (Example below)
    • The lens has a sensor and will automatically adjust your video 180 degrees if you have to mount it upside-down so playback is orientated properly. If you have to mount your camera at 90 or 270 degrees, you’ll have to edit your video in post-production.
    • You can use the Action Camera as a web-cam but only for 32-bit Windows systems.
    • Besides the mount, other included accessories consist of a wrist strap, neoprene carry case, and USB cable.
    • The optional suction mount is extremely powerful and offers quite strong suction power.

    [Sample Picture taken with camera]

    Drawbacks: In addition to the framerate, which is good, but not great, and camera shake and rolling that can happen in some circumstances, there’s a few other things to be aware of as well. The battery is internal (like an iPhone) and can’t be changed. This obviously could be an issue if you wanted to take it into the field for a multi-day event or hike. You’ll need to bring an external power supply (like Monoprice’s very own external charger) as you can’t merely bring along a few extra batteries. Also, talking about the battery, there’s no battery life indicator. The LED will start flashing if your battery is low, but other than that, there’s no way of knowing how much life you have left in your battery which can be disconcerting when heading out for a shot and not knowing how long you’ll be able to shoot for.

    Finally, I found the various mounts (board, helmet and suction) a bit confusing. The parts come in a small box with no instructions or even pictures of how the parts are supposed to work and they are not intuitive in the least.

    Bottom Line: The Monoprice Action Camera is a great choice for a POV camera for people not needing more expensive offerings and looking for an outstanding value. HD video quality is impressive and will allow you to relive your adventures without breaking the bank. No additional enclosure is needed for waterproofing so you can take it underwater or to the top of a frozen mountain.

    MHD Action Camera $98.88

    – WIN! – Interested in shooting some great action footage with your very own Monorprice Action Camera? The rules are simple. Just leave a comment here to be entered and promise to send us some of your video if you win. Tweeting or “Liking” the column is not necessary to enter, but as always, very much appreciated.


    Hidden Track Technology Tuesday

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

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    Two organizations close to our hearts, Phish’s WaterWheel Foundation and the Mimi Fishman Foundation, have teamed to offer ticket & CD packages for every show Phish will play this summer. All proceeds from the auctions will go towards a charity/organization picked by WaterWheel in each city Phish will visit on their 2013 Summer Tour.

    You can check out the offerings via the Mimi Fishman Foundation auction page as each auction is now live. The bidding will come to a close on Wednesday, May 29.

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    We all know just about anything musical that involves a submarine is destined for a Beatles reference, but Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. really goes into full on Fab Four mode with their video for Dark Water (off their newly released EP, Patterns). The video combines claymation figurines of the Detroit duo piloting a sub with a curiously interwoven storyline of a woman rehearsing for a stage production. It’s hard to believe Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has only been a band for three years, as they have wasted no time in proving themselves to be more than just a clever band name.

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    This past weekend the Purple Hatter’s Ball took place at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida. One of the performances we most had our eyes on was a Sunday set dubbed “Roosevelt Collier & Nigel Hall’s Gospel Surprise.” Our friend and Collier’s publicist, Margaret Willard, was so moved by the set she penned a review and we’re honored to run it along with photos.

    Roosevelt Collier & Nigel Hall’s Gospel Surprise @ Purple Hatter’s Ball – May 12

    Words: Margaret Willard
    Photos: Timothy Borland and Jeffrey Dupuis

    Mother’s Day took special meaning this past weekend at the Purple Hatter’s Ball, when a fellowship of musicians uplifted the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park with an emotional Sunday gospel set dubbed “Roosevelt Collier & Nigel Hall’s Gospel Surprise.”

    [Photo by Tim Borland]

    PHB founder Paul Levine introduced the ensemble shortly after 1pm, with a prelude dedicating the afternoon to Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, whose life is remembered each year at PHB, and to all others who had lost loved ones recently — most notably Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff of Lettuce, who hadn’t performed for a live audience since he lost his mother Rita April 29. The sun shone brightly as the amphitheater stage transformed into a place of kinship and worship, with Smirnoff and the afternoon’s other special guests Lenesha Randolph (Robert Randolph & The Family Band), Pete Shand (The New Mastersounds), Jermal Watson (Dirty Dozen Brass Band), Jonathan Lloyd (Dubconscious) and The Shady Horns - Ryan Zoidis, Eric Bloom and James Casey(Soulive, Lettuce) all joining Nigel Hall (Warren Haynes Band, Lettuce) and Roosevelt Collier (the Lee Boys) for an inspired series of classic covers and old gospel tunes.

    [Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis]

    The service lifted off with a church-step cover of Stevie Wonder’s Standing On Shaky Ground, with Hall and Randolph’s powerhouse vocals artfully trading time with the sorrowful song of Collier’s sacred steel. Needless to say there were tearful eyes and smiling faces of both artists and audience alike. Lettuce’s Eric Krasno also joined the celebration on Wade in the Water, followed by drummer Adam Deitch on Higher Ground.

    With a just few songs left in the set, Hoffman’s mother, Margie Weiss, took the stage to say a few special words about the memory of her daughter, and to thank Levine and the park for their support of the Rachel Morningstar Foundation. “Together we will end the confidential informant system in our country,” she vowed, adding, “just saying those words gives me chills.” Weiss, Levine and a collection of artists and friends then released 23 butterflies — to represent the 23 years of Hoffman’s life — before the band continued into Frankie Beverly’s Back in Stride, which brought up special guest Erick “Jesus” Coomes of Lettuce.

    [Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis]

    The hour poignantly ended with Hall, leading what can only be described as a congregation by this point, in a rousing version of You’ve Got a Friend (as arranged by Donny Hathaway in his 1972  live album). “Winter, spring, summer or fall / All you have to do is call / And I’ll be there / You’ve got a friend.” The words rang true, and each person present in that moment gave thanks for the strength of friendship and the universal healing power of music in all of our lives. “I felt a lot of people’s spirits being lifted on this Mother’s Day,” said Collier afterwards. “It was much needed.”

    [Photo by Jeffrey Dupuis]

    … Let the church say amen.

    Set List

    Standing on Shaky Ground (Stevie Wonder)

    People Get Ready (Curtis Mayfield)

    Going Up the Yonder (Walter Hawkins)

    Wade in the Water*

    Grandma’s Hands (Bill Withers)

    Higher Ground (Stevie Wonder)^

    He’s An On Time God

    Back in Stride (Frankie Beverly)%

    You’ve Got a Friend (Carole King)%

    * with Eric Krasno

    ^ with Eric Krasno and Adam Deitch

    % with Eric Krasno and Erick “Jesus” Coomes


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    The recently reunited Black Crowes have just been added to the lineup for this year’s Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival, which takes place at Stephens Lake Park in Columbia, Missouri on September 20 – 22. The Crowes are set to perform on Saturday, September 21.

    There’s HT faves a plenty on the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival lineup including Blues Traveler, John Hiatt, Steve Earle, Mavis Staples, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys, Phosphorescent and Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. The festival was first launched in 2007 and includes BBQ from local and national vendors as well as plenty of music.

    Single-Day and Multi-Day Passes are available now through the event’s website.

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    Late last year Umphrey’s McGee played their first-ever four-night New Year’s Run, which took place from Dec. 28 – 31 at The Tabernacle in Atlanta. The run saw cover debuts of Wang Chung’s Dance Hall Days and Nine Inch Nails’ Wish, an impressive Phil’s Farm > Puppet String > Phil’s Farm sequence, a ridiculous version of Higgins as well as rarities Sweetness, Bad Poker and Water. Today, the band has announced a massive 5+ hour video release culled from the four performances dubbed “Picking Up The Tab.” The set is available for pre-order in DVD, Blu-Ray and multiple digital download formats via, with orders expected to begin shipping on May 31.

    UM’s new video release was shot in Hi-Def and contains 5.1 surround sound audio. You can purchase video from each night individually or together as a bundle. Those pre-ordering via Umphrey’s online store will receive a free MP3 code for an audio download of the show of your choosing, while those pre-ordering any digital download package from TourGigs will get a free HD download of the Boulder Theater show from 09.15.12. Heading to Summer Camp? UM will have a limited number of copies available for sale at the merch booth.

    Watch a jammed-out version of Plunger from Picking Up The Tab…

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    Starting tomorrow, Reid Genauer and Friends will kick off a three-night stand at Garcia’s within The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York. For these shows, Genauer will be backed by his Assembly Of Dust bandmates Adam Terrell, John Leccese, Dave “Sweet Caroline” Diamond and Jason Crosby.

    In addition to the previously mentioned performers, Genauer has revealed the guests for each night of the run. Tomorrow, Reid will be joined by saxophonist Kenny Brooks of RatDog as well as Pete Levin (keys) and Joey Williams (guitar) of The Blind Boys Of Alabama. On Friday, God Street Wine’s Aaron Maxwell (guitar) and Dan Pifer (bass) will sit-in along with Ryan Montbleau Band percussionist Yahuba Garcia. Finally, on Saturday, Genauer and Friends will be joined by Yahuba, Lucy Chapin, guitarist Scott Metzger, Steven Bernstein (The Levon Helm Band, Sex Mob) and Tom Arey (The J. Geils Band, Ghosts of Jupiter). Tickets are currently available for $10 a show.

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    Mickey Hart Band @ Stage 48 – May 10

    Words: Chadbyrne Dickens
    Photos: Vernon Webb

    The devil is in the details. Mickey Hart, aka former member of Grateful Dead drum duo The Rhythm Devils, entertained a nearly sold-out Stage 48 venue in New York City last Friday night. Born in nearby Brooklyn, the consummate drummer, only months shy of his 70th birthday, Hart still knows how to satisfy his loyal fan base. In addition to his storied tenure as drummer for the world’s all-time greatest jam band, Hart is a multi-Grammy winner, a drum historian and successful author. Upon taking the stage he exclaimed with authority, “Let’s find places known and unknown together!”

    [All Photos by Vernon Webb]

    As Hart’s five-member band took the stage, the proceedings commenced with Hart’s lengthy cymbal smashing as if a symbolic start to the evening. The band blasted off into the saucy fan favorite, Shakedown Street, the dancing ditty about which Bobby Weir once said in 1979, “we tried to make a disco song.” The predominantly mature crowd paid tribute to Hart and company by clapping, singing and dancing throughout the joyous Shakedown Street romp and subsequent exploratory jam. Some people may have difficulty chewing gum and patting their head at the same time but Hart, hands adorned with white surgical gloves, snapped hard at his gum while working an elaborate varied drum kit that he stood at for the entire performance.

    Hart mixed in material from his extensive repertoire while keeping ardent Grateful Dead fans happy by performing staples like Bertha, Fire on the Mountain and an exuberant encore of Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad including vocal lines alternated between Joe Bagale and Crystal Hall. Hall’s vocal added a soothing bluesy sound. Bagale’s guitar doesn’t attempt to emulate Jerry on these selections but rather follows his own lead and fills in within the original organized structure. Although Fire on the Mountain was strong and delivered with purpose, many fans clamored to hear the Mickey Hart Rap version that gained notoriety in 1974 although never formally released.

    A highlight for those in the know, was the honor to hear Greatest Story Ever Told, a familiar Grateful Dead song, originally based on Hart’s Pump Song from his 1972 debut album, Rolling Thunder. Hart derived the song’s rhythm section from the sound of a pump.

    At a time when his former colleagues are struggling with a myriad of issues, the only trouble Hart gets into is the kind he creates himself like the clever and hilarious picture of his being faux arrested last year that quickly went viral among fans due to its authentic look. Hart remains a man not complacent with his alternate and unique take on Grateful Dead classics, but shares his own original mind-bending compositions. The satisfying show ended in symmetrical fashion as it started, with Hart banging on the drum in finality. Fans came to see a famous rhythm devil do his thing and many left with a satiated smile.

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    Back in February we shared the news that Trent Reznor was reforming his Nine Inch Nails project. We were particularly excited to see guitarist Adrian Belew and former Jane’s Addiction bassist Eric Avery would be aboard for this new version of NIN. While Nine Inch Nails has two months before the new band makes their debut, today they lost a member as Avery has called it quits.

    Avery has decided to focus on his musical life in L.A. and felt “overwhelmed” by what’s planned for NIN. According to a note on the bassist’s Facebook Page, Trent was understanding of Eric’s decision.

    Here’s Eric Avery’s statement via his Facebook Page

    its with very mixed emotions i tell you all that im pulling out of NIN. i know. its been a tough call and i don’t know if its the right one. but i really want to focus on my musical life here in la, on film work in particular. as the tour dates kept growing… i just got overwhelmed. i just got home from a year of heavy travel with garbage, the idea of leaving town for another year and a half, and with all the intensity that nails demands… fortunately my friend Trent understands all this and appreciated my pulling the plug now instead of deep into 2013 and 14. go get em gentlemen.

    Nine Inch Nails will play their first gig at Japan’s Fuji Rock Festival on July 26. The group’s first U.S. performance will be as a headliner of Lollapalooza. No word yet on Avery’s replacement.

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    [Originally Posted: January 10, 2013]

    Live tweeting a concert is one of the great functions of Twitter. For those not in attendance, following along on Twitter is, short of a webcast, the next best thing to being there. I’ve live tweeted for @Hidden_Track and for @YEMblog and while I don’t claim to be an expert, I thought I’d compile some tips to serve as a guide to live tweeting a concert. Some of this is admittedly somewhat basic stuff, and most of it boils down to: be smart and don’t be an annoying jerk. This list is also most certainly not exhaustive so please add your tips for anything I missed in the comments.

    10. Announce: Before the show give your followers a heads up that you’re going to be flooding their timeline with live tweets. It also doesn’t hurt to send a tweet to the band – they might help promote you with a retweet.

    9. Hashtags: Do some research before you head out to the show so your tweets will be easily searchable among other similar ones. Try and find commonly used hashtags and add them to your phone’s dictionary for faster typing during the concert.

    8. Battery Life: Set your phone’s display to dim to avoid annoying others around you with an overly bright screen and to save battery power. It’s dark enough in during the show that a dimmer screen shouldn’t hamper your tweeting.

    7. Pictures: Have your phone’s camera settings ready for maximum quality in dark lighting and prepared for instant tweeting through whatever image sharing service you prefer.

    6. Dictionary: Like with hashtags, enter the names of song titles, band members or any other associated but uncommon words to your phone’s dictionary ahead of time so you don’t get embarrassingly auto-corrected during the concert.

    5. Timing: If you plan to shoot pictures, be courteous to those near you who paid to see the show too. Discreetly take a couple shots at the very beginning of the concert and (if you must) at the very end. Don’t snap pictures from your seat all show long, that’s annoying to everyone around you. If something of particular note takes place during the show go ahead and snap a quick shot (if you must).

    4. Space and Place: If you plan to shoot video be aware of those in the space around you, especially those placed behind you. The light from your phone is distracting to others so try and stay to the sides or hold the phone close to you to lower impact on others. Do this sparingly and discreetly during the show.

    3. Interact: Retweet others also live tweeting at the show. This helps add color and gives multiple angles to the live review. You may also get new followers this way.

    2. Report: Be descriptive and not just opinionated. It’s great that you think “X Song” is “awesome” but it’s far more informative to detail the various aspects of the venue, crowd, stage set up, band attire, and other details that make up the whole show experience.

    1. Remember: It’s about the music – if someone is tuning in to your live tweeting it’s usually because they want to experience the concert from afar, so be certain to focus on the music and as best you can help your followers understand what they can’t hear themselves.

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    One of the many wonderful people I’ve met through running YEMblog is Drew Hitz, an accomplished tuba player who’s toured the world and literally written the book on the instrument. While he focuses on more classical pieces during his decade-plus long tenure as a tuba player in Boston Brass, he’s never hid his love for his favorite band – Phish.

    [Image via @duanebase]

    Drew regularly tweets about Phish at his @drewphish account and yesterday shared news that gave us goosebumps. Hitz has been hired by the National Symphony Orchestra to play the Trey Anastasio symphonic gig on May 22nd at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C. We’re so excited for Drew to get this dream gig and apparently he’s already started practicing. Watch a brief clip of Drew’s tuba-only version of the You Enjoy Myself jam…

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    The Flaming Lips visited NBC’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon last night, where they not only performed Try To Explain off their new album, The Terror, but front man Wayne Coyne also sat in on a game of Pictionary with fellow Fallon guests Julie Bowen and Demi Lovato.

    As if that wasn’t enough, The Flaming Lips performed a triumphant cover of David Bowie’s 1977 gem Heroes as a web exclusive. Watch the Lips’ impressive cover…

    And here’s video of Try To Explain and Coyne playing Pictionary…

    [via Consequence of Sound]

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