Interviews

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Robert Baird Posted: May 09, 2013 Published: May 01, 2013 0 comments
"You see that empty space?" says Willie Nile, motioning toward a lot between buildings on Bleecker Street, an impish Irish grin flickering across his face. "They haven't built anything there yet because Anna Wintour lives around the corner. And that red-brick house over there, the one with the white door? That's where Dylan lived. I used to see Bob around the neighborhood now and again."
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Stereophile Staff Posted: Apr 30, 2013 14 comments

At the 2013 AXPONA in Chicago in March, Cool Cleveland asked JA for his thoughts on the state of high-end audio. His answers might surprise you.

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Robert Baird Posted: Apr 09, 2013 4 comments
"While the selection and fine tuning of exhilarating-sounding vintage audio equipment is an exciting, often life-long search, let's not forget it's ultimately the music that matters—mankind's mysterious mastery of making air move in esthetically & emotionally thrilling ways. Most importantly, remember to ask yourself the age-old question: Can I dance to it?"
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John Atkinson Posted: Jan 27, 2013 4 comments
Bill Thomas at CES with the ground-breaking coaxial HF/MF unit designed by Jim Thiel (Photo: John Atkinson)

We reported last November that Thiel Audio Products, the Kentucky-based speaker manufacturer founded by Kathy Gornik and the late Jim Thiel, had been had been acquired by a private equity firm based in Nashville, TN, and that Gornik was no longer with the company. At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, held January 8–11 in Las Vegas, the Thiel display at the Sands Convention Center was packed. I met up with Thiel's new CEO, 55-year old Bill Thomas, and asked him what had led him and his two partners to acquire the company.

Robert Baird Posted: Jan 04, 2013 Published: Jan 01, 2013 1 comments
In a discussion about what their music is—and is not—Dave King, drummer for the Bad Plus, remembers opening a show for free-jazz patriarch Ornette Coleman at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. After their set, the band joined the audience to watch Coleman.

"After the first couple tunes—and this was in a seated theater—I swear, half the audience had left. Fifty years into your career, and he's still making people want to check it out and then decide if they can take it. And that's every night, I bet.

Robert Baird Posted: Aug 21, 2012 Published: Sep 01, 2012 3 comments
"We tried to do some work between the legs of . . .

"Ummmm . . . that sounds weird."

Rock musicians—do they ever think about anything but sex?

Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson chuckles. He explains that what he meant to say was that he, singer-bassist Geddy Lee, and the exalted, formerly mustachioed object of Planet Earth's most fervent drummer cult, Neil Peart, were trying to write songs during a break in a recent tour.

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Stereophile Staff Posted: Jul 10, 2012 0 comments
In May 2009, JA gave dems comparing hi-rez recordings against CD and MP3 versions at the three ListenUp! stores in Colorado. This was part of the Music Matters program, in which audio retailers invite manufacturers and the occasional member of the audio press to demonstrate just how great music can sound on a high-end audio system. Before the Denver event, JA sat down with Adrienne Alterman to share his views.
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David Lander Posted: Jun 20, 2012 5 comments
Imagine a speaker firm with an introductory product that pushes the outside of the performance envelope while tearing the pricing envelope to shreds. A reviewer in an audio journal that tilts toward the high end deems this speaker "appallingly expensive," notes he would have bought the test sample if he'd had the money, and confesses that being without it makes him feel "rather as though a member of the family has passed away." Now envision a speaker company at the peak of the industry sales curve, one so successful that a mainstream hi-fi magazine ranks it No.1 in market share for two separate years. Very different companies, right?
Steve Guttenberg Posted: May 03, 2012 0 comments
Photo: Aiyana Elliott

Even when Loudon Wainwright III (left in photo with Ramblin' Jack Elliot) was a young man he was writing autobiographical songs, and his old themes of family, sex, and death resonate more deeply on his new record, Older Than My Old Man Now. He usually performs solo, armed with just an acoustic guitar or a banjo, but most of his recordings present more heavily produced versions of LWIII's music. When I chatted with LWIII in late April I wanted to explore that dichotomy and how those transformations take place.

Art Dudley Posted: Apr 20, 2012 10 comments
In 1862, skepticism among the educated was exemplified by the medical establishment, which ridiculed Joseph Lister's notion of "animals in the air." By contrast, the professional skeptic of 2012—yes, it's now possible to make a comfortable living in the field—finds himself inconvenienced by 150 years of discovery, and makes do with ridiculing Lister for his Quaker faith. I guess that passes for progress in some circles.
Robert Baird Posted: Dec 20, 2011 5 comments
For the musically prolific, releasing too many records too close together can be problematic or worse. Just because you can make a record every week in your home studio doesn't mean you should. The impulse to commit every golden thought and performance to tape without self-editing or even pausing to reflect screams narcissism run amok. Asking listeners—even dedicated fans—to then buy and spend time listening to half-baked nonsense that might have become something, given more time and care, is a sure career destroyer. There's truth in the old saw about building demand, avoiding saturation, and creating a hunger among the listening public. Most critical of all, despite downloads, piracy, and Lady Gaga's pointy hats and eggshell entrances, the old Hollywoodism still applies: while spontaneity may sound like a radical idea, you're only as good as your last album.
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Posted: Dec 17, 2011 3 comments
We were saddened to hear of the passing, on December 10,of Audio Research founder William "Bill" Zane Johnson. Bill, who founded Audio Research in 1970 and became its Chairman Emeritus in 2008, is survived by his wife Nancy (left in photo) and family. We are preparing a tribute to Bill, to be published in the March 2012 issue of Stereophile, but meanwhile, we are reprinting here an interview Paul Messenger and I conducted with Bill that was originally published in the June 1983 issue of Hi-Fi News. (My thanks to HFN editor Paul Miller for permission. Stereophile's 1994 interview with Bill can be found here.)—John Atkinson
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Robert Baird Posted: Nov 15, 2011 0 comments
"So where did it all go wrong, George? When did the major-label record business begin slipping away?"

Before he can answer, I recall something George Avakian once told me over the phone. "Goddard Lieberson [former president of Columbia Records] said, 'I'm tired of sitting in A&R meetings with record guys. Get me some lawyers and accountants who don't want to argue about music.'"

"I don't remember saying that, but that's very interesting," Avakian says with a mischievous smile of recognition.

Robert Baird Posted: Sep 15, 2011 0 comments
Big bands died out back in the 1950s, right? They went away when the jitterbug faded and folks began dancing to music other than swing? And then real jazz fans departed when the bebop soloists came along and made big-band players look clumsy and quaint?
Robert Baird Posted: Apr 28, 2011 0 comments
Whistling ductwork, whirring fans, murmuring pipes—along with being jazz's most storied location, a living shrine to the memories of Bill Evans, John Coltrane, and so many others, Manhattan's Village Vanguard, on Seventh Avenue South, was, on this winter's night, the Das Boot of jazz. In every corner, every stairwell, every square foot of available backstage space, some kind of furnace machinery audibly ground, banged, and/or wheezed away.

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