The Bass Geek - Words about Music, Circuitry, and New Orleans
The Bass Geek

New Podcast Is Up and SNOWPACALYPSE!!!

Feel free to download the new IMN podcast or listen to it at the site's Flash player.

There's an excellent First Friday coming up in Fountain Square this month, including the re-opening of Gnosis right there in the Murphy Building. The fact that this puts issues of "Wax Poetics" within walking distance of my home fills me with no end of joy.

Therefore, it is with great trepidation that I see we have SNOWPACALYPSE '08* scheduled for that very day. I'm hoping this is an inflated weather event used to justify the approximately 13,000 Doppler radars blanketing our fair city with UP-TO-THE-NANOSECOND!!!! weather coverage and potential safety. Make every effort to come out and enjoy, please.

*I don't think it's a registered trademark or anything, but thanks to Kristin and Rob G. for bringing the term to my attention.


Warner Gear Update

We're starting to record some more songs for the Warner Gear, and we're going to look at some different ideas for recording the bass.  Last time, we ran it through a SansAmp Bass DI direct into the computer - we're going to stick with this setup, but we're going to toss in quite a bit more highs and crank up the "presence" knob a bit.  We're thinking about some advice "Duck" Dunn put forth in "Bass Player" magazine a few years ago (and there's really no better source) about tossing in every frequency and letting it get adjusted in the mix.  After all, it's easier to take frequencies out than to boost them when they're not there.  I don't normally cut them in my playing, but we're thinking it might make things easier down the line.  Last time, we also did some faux "tic-tac" bass sounds using an old Danelectro (it just sounded right on some of the songs).  I'm not sure the material is leaning that way this time, which is another reason to try increased high-end.  We should be doing bass and drums in the next few weeks, so I'll know soon.  Duck wouldn't lead me wrong, though.Is it wrong that I'm contemplating this issue while watching a bass lesson about slapped arpeggios? 


Bass Porn For Today

Moses Vertical Jump Bass

Although the name makes me think more of extreme BASE jumps, the Mos Vertical Jump Bass still looks pretty intriguing. I know it's not going to please full-on upright players with accuracy, but the ability to shift to that position is slightly intriguing to the hands that didn't quite make the transition to the doghouse. And I like the graphite - I found it by searching for replacement necks for my weary Stingray, and my Jazz bass was purchased in no small part due to the graphite inserts that help keep the neck from twisting.

How does it sound? Dunno. This isn't a review, it's just bass porn. Enjoy.


Is Qtrax the Real Deal?

The basic premise of Qtrax is that the service provides free and legal downloads of major label tracks to users' computers.  Stellar idea, no?  Especially if the artists involved are getting paid their fair share.  I'm getting conflicting stories, though.

  • This story claims that all the major labels are behind it, that it's not compatible with the iPod, and that DRM and proprietary software will be involved (fair note: I'm a user of iTunes and the iPod, which does include provisions for proprietary software and DRM - however, the files I've ripped from my CDs will transfer to other media players and software.  According to the article, the tracks won't move at all).
  • This story backs up the first article on every point but the major label support - the claim here is that nothing has been put in place yet.
  • This story claims that the deals aren't in place but could be soon, doesn't worry about the DRM or software issue, and claims that iPods WILL be supported (again, I'm noting iPods here only because they are a dominant product in the player market - I'd be interested in hearing whether other media players are compatible as well).

So I'm getting conflicting information, the PC service is still in beta, there's no Mac version yet (it's promised on 3/18), and there's still the issues of DRM and ad-supported music (how will the ad revenue be distributed to artists, if at all).  That's a bunch of red flags to me at this point.

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This Weekend In Fountain Square

  • Shirtless Biddles at Deano's Vino tonight - 'round 7:30
  • Boilermaker Jazz Band at the Fountain Square Theater for Swing Night tonight - 'round 7:30
  • Orquestra Bravo! at Radio Radio tonight - 'round 10pm (highly recommended - it's fun, and they offer salsa lessons 'round 9:30
  • Jenn Cristy and Chad Mills at Sam's Saloon tonight - 'round 9
  • The Roundups, Jethro Easyfields Band, and Evan Snyder at Sam's Saloon Saturday night - 'round 9

The "'round" indicates a general vicinity of time, usually later, at which you can plan on at least being in the presence of the musicians. I take no responsibility for when they actually start playing.


Crank That Podcast!

The new IMN podcast is up and running - you can download it from the link or listen via the Flash player on the main site. You may thank Soulja Boy's appearance at Conseco for the blog title.

On a somewhat-related topic, I was perusing a Techdirt article regarding the value of free music (Soulja Boy, of course, catapulted to fame via the appropriation of his song and accompanying dance on YouTube on other online sources) - although I'm uncomfortable with the way some of the statements and statistics are thrown around, such as:

"the numbers suggest more bands than ever before are performing live and making more money than ever before performing live" (I'd like to see a larger sample and further data on how fuel costs and other factors are eating into that higher payday - at least anecdotally, I'd suspect folks on the lower end are feeling a huge pinch)


"In fact, more people are making money from music today than at any time in history" (Although I understand that the writer is using this to point out a shift from selling CDs to other revenue streams, this statement begs for more context and a larger sample of artists)

Despite my quibbles, I understand what the writer is saying here, and I'd agree with his displeasure with the hopefully-soon-to-be-dying DRM model. I'll even back his assertion that recorded music can be an effective loss-leader, if you will, for other parts of the artist's career, like live shows and merchandising. Technology has forced musicians to adapt before - recordings in general, jukeboxes, and synthesizers all forced them to change and modify how they play.

It's the difference between the ability of music to be distributed freely versus the attitude that the listener is entitled to receive those recordings for free. Although, in an earlier post, the Techdirt author noted that he did not endorse the unauthorized downloading of recordings, there are obviously quite a few other folks with the opposite opinion. And the theoretical models of using free tracks as loss-leaders only works when the listeners actually goes forward with the artist. While my experience may be anecdotal, the vast majority of unauthorized downloaders take the recordings because that's all they want (even if it was never offered by the artist). And this story always gets me.

My concern ends up at a weird intersection of economics and ethics - I can see how the money part works, but it's dependent on behavior that I've observed as unreliable at local and mid-size levels (and the jury still seems to be deliberating at the national and international level). Finally, not every artist is going to have a dance to back up their recordings - there can be only one Soulja Boy, after all.


Mustaine Ensures Intra-band Harmony on Gigantour

"Besides the bass isn't a difficult instrument to play. It's one step up from the kazoo isn't it?"


If I'm whoever got suckered into the bass gig, I'd be tripping Mustaine with my cord at every opportunity.

He should try playing kazoo and bass at the same time. I have, and it's not easy.


Goddamn, Garageband made my day . . .

The production of the IMN podcast doesn't usually involve the use of Garageband - normally, I just take our chattering off of the recorder we use and dump it into Soundtrack Pro for all of the clip sequencing and audio manipulation and such. This week, though, we recorded straight to my laptop using GB, and I was fully prepared to go through the steps I'd used before:

  1. Perform the cuts and track insertion in Garageband
  2. Export final file to iTunes as an AIFF file
  3. Wonder again why I can't just export the file straight from GB to the disk
  4. Watch as iTunes automatically adds a copy of my new podcast to the library and begins to play it
  5. Move the final file from my iTunes folder to the podcast folder
  6. Curse GB for having to do this
  7. Remove the podcast file from my iTunes library and delete extraneous folders
  8. Curse GB one more time
  9. Open file in Soundtrack Pro and go from there

This is my first time producing in the relatively new version of GB, though, and they finally managed to get it right - export straight to disc as uncompressed audio that I can work with, not as a compressed mp3 or AAC. Skips iTunes entirely, meaning that I reduce my workflow by five or six steps and a lot of cursing. Joy.


Weekend Music and Task Summary

After some great music on Friday and Saturday (including Punkin Holler Boys, David Moore, Cameron McGill and 19Clark25) , I had to spend a lot of the weekend around my laptop getting some writing done.  Current projects include the revisions for MySpace For Dummies, an eDiscovery book, and the upcoming Laptop: Just The Steps For Dummies project.  My master scheduling skills appear to have found windows for these projects, but it's going to be a little tight for the next few months.  Luckily, the Warner Gear schedule is malleable due to recording now, and the Playboy Psychonauts are preparing for a February March show.  My house of cards is stable for now.


The Big Guns

I'm being blown away recently by this CD my wife picked up for me in New Orleans from the Lil Rascals Brass Band, if only because of the audacious take on "For The Love Of Money." That's a hell of a lot to ask of a tuba player, but he manages to pull it off.

I think it's that need of space for breath and stamina that makes it so appealing, though. Each note has to be chosen and executed well, because you've got to take another breath to get ready for the next round. Consequently, you end up with some spare but extremely funky lines for the rest of the horns to play over.

This whole CD doesn't let up - good stuff all around. The place where she got it from (Odyssey Records) doesn't have a web presence, and the band's site seems about ten years out of date. It looks like you can order it from this location, though. The site seems to have better liner notes than the CD, too - I'm just now noticing the Cyril Neville and Kermit Ruffin credits. It's not a new recording by any means, but there you go.