Archive for the ‘ ebooks ’ Category

The Front Act and the Legend

September 15, 2010 Memorial Hall, UNC, Chapel Hill, NC: Earl Scruggs with “special guests” The Red Clay Ramblers

That's Rick Good, me, with Rob Ladd on the drums

We’d all really been looking forward to this show — the renovated hall is a great concert venue, we were on the bill with a bona fide legend, and it’s our hometown crowd, a lot of the elements of the elusive perfect gig. Even the weather was favorable.

The Scruggs bus was parked in tight to the loading dock as we headed in for sound check. Since we were first on the bill, our sound check was after the Scruggs’; they were picking away, Earl’s son Gary standing in for Earl to check his setup. Nothing unusual, I wouldn’t have expected to see the man himself. Our own Rick Good hoped to get Earl to hold Rick’s “guitar/banjo” for a photo op (that’s the instrument Rick is holding in the picture), we were definitely on the lookout.

Our sound check followed, practically uneventful, and we headed for the thin meat (maybe we should specify in our rider that we would like a bit thicker cut??). We hang, we wait.

Showtime was 7:30; at 7:25 there is a knock at the dressing room door, and the suddenly serious producer has bad news. Earl is not well and won’t be performing. Woah- an instant let-down and an immediate tizzy. We are asked to lengthen our set a little as it will comprise the whole of the evening’s entertainment.

It wasn’t too cheery backstage, with the Scruggs crew packing. It’s a terrible feeling, a show that won’t go on, a disappointed audience. Musicians, actors, dancers, it’s the same for all of us, the worst of the worst. And we have to worry a bit about Mr. Scruggs at 87.

But for us the show must go on. We did fine and the audience was very sympathetic (is that good?) and responsive. Unfortunately I made the mistake of high expectations, and the end result left me wanting.

Earl Scruggs, in the Bill Monroe band in 1945, invented bluegrass banjo. In 1959 he was a headliner at the very first Newport Folk Festival. He’s been playing gigs for probably 70 years, I wanted to see him, to hear him, maybe even talk to him. There is something about just being in the presence of true legend, you don’t want to miss an opportunity.

But that one is gone. Let’s hope Earl comes back strong, maybe there will be another time. It’s all about chance, and odds, and as bad as the odds are, there is always a chance.


Here’s a review of the show in the campus news, some real quotes for our press page….


Links, Links, Links

A chapter from Folk Music 2.0: Better odds through science.

One thing you’ve got to admit, the internet is what we call reality-based even if the reality is virtual.  And it’s based on science, isn’t it? Acts logically, mathematically, to make it all work. You want better odds on being heard, an increased chance of success, so put SCIENCE ahead of ART for a few minutes and consider this:

Go to Google and start typing. But just one letter, say A. Whoah. What do you see? I get Amazon, AOL and American Airlines suggested to me. Mind you, you may get different result, especially if you are logged in to, say, a Google account; they know everything about your browsing habits and will attempt to choose what their computer’s think you are looking for. But no matter, Google is still using science to make those suggestions.

OK, so what? Well, let’s examine how they come up with these suggestions.  If you want to do any testing (you know, the scientific method), log out of any account that might affect your searches, again, especially google. You also might want to delete your browsing history. This takes any ‘user bias’ out of the equation (notice how we can smartly bandy these math terms about)- try the A test again.  I still get the same big three, and I bet I know why. There are 671 million reasons for Google to pick Amazon first, as that’s how many LINKS they found for that term. What’s more, I can see from Google Keyword Analytics that 83 million people a month search for that term. They are just laying odds that Amazon is likely to be what you are after when you start typing with an A. Number two, AOL, as you might expect, has lower numbers than Amazon, take my word for it or check for yourself.

Get to the point! Read more


e-books for musicians….

There’s no room in the mini-van for a maxi-book collection, and there are some great ebooks available aimed at the working musician, on every aspect of the player’s life. We’ll keep you up-to-speed on the latest.

The famous “Dummies” series has an excellent home recording ebook, with a definitely dumb title,  Home Recording For Musicians For Dummies. You don’t have to be dumb to get something out of this one

Info includes:

  • Create a studio around your budget
  • Direct signal flow to maximize your sound
  • Apply the best microphone techniques
  • Use compressors and limiters properly
  • Build a space for optimum mixing

Get it here…