It’s been a Guitar Fest here in NYC lately. I’ve seen Bill Frisell (always superb), Kenny Burrell (a very rare pleasure because he hates to fly) and Mike Marino (with new Blue Note pianist Aaron Parks). Tonight is a tribute to Fender's Jazzmaster guitar headlined by Nels Cline, J. Mascis, Thurston Moore and Tom Verlaine. Must be frets in the water or something.
The relationship between the internet and music continues to evolve in new and bizarre ways. The latest is Guvera, a site that offers free music downloads, that the principals say uses the sponsorship model in new and they hope successful ways and keeps everyonefrom artist to label to consumehappy. When you register for the site, they ask you a battery of questions about your likes and dislikes and then you’re free to search for a song or an artist. The site will then direct you to a channel or channels, sponsored by an advertiser, which has what you’re looking for. Using the information from those initial customers’ surveys and then your subsequent download history, the site’s algorhythms find the target audience for certain advertisers and grab their eyeballs in a better way than pop up or strip ads. They also tell the advertisers what music the customers they want to reach listen to. The advertiser pays the royalties on the music to whoever holds the copyright. In other words, either the record label or the artist gets paid. It ain’t stealing.
As songwriters go, Guy Clark has been touched by the muse more than most. Unfortunately, in recent years he's also been visited by illness and heartache. In June 2012, his wife of 40 years, Susanna Clark, who was both a songwriter ("Easy from Now On") and an artist (the cover of Willie Nelson's Stardust), died in Nashville. In the past several years Clark, 72, has battled lymphoma, had his knees replaced, and undergone an arterial replacement in one leg. He was being treated for skin cancer when I visited his home, south of Nashville, in October 2013.
You gotta hand it to The New York Times; they do try and cover the audio industry. And when it comes to dumbing it down, they truly aren't fucking around. Rather than have to read an article from last week's Circuits section on how MP3's might someday sound better, A Quest for That Warm Sound of Old (June 5, 2007), which was printed just above a piece entitled Making Tunes a Fixture on the Patio (snaring more Jersey readers is obviously an NYT priority) here are the some beauties, salient or otherwise.
"The more you turn it up, the punchier it sounds…"
"…tries to sweeten digital sound by putting back what compression has taken out."
"…what are people really going for, accurate reproduction or pleasing reproduction?"
"Our technology tricks your brain into hearing something that isn’t there."
"When you can't hear the difference anymore, it's overkill."
"The process is never perfect."
"With a good recording, the quality may be improved by tweaking the playback."
"Don’t throw away your records yet."
Do the singles in this boxed set which features a quality pressing job and nice if no frills packaging sound better than the CDs that both Rhino and the pair’s own label mentioned above have been releasing over the years?
The long overdue rediscovery and reenshrinement of Harry Nilsson that began with the 2010 release of the film, Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) shows no signs of abating which is a good thing for fans of the man’s songwriting and most of all, his peerless voice.
The worlds of creating and selling music have never been in such a dramatic state of change. While the CD declines, the LP is resurrected. As piracy charges along undiminished, downloads continue to increase in sales. And then there’s streaming….