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

New IMN Podcast and Another Kind of Podcast

The new IMN podcast is up - download it or listen at the site or on WFYI HD2 Thursdays at 4pm.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art is also putting together art exhibitions based on iPod Touch-driven tours, and I'll be lending my voice to the Sacred Spain exhibition. The whole shebang opens October 11th, so go enjoy the art and hear me break it down Revelations-style.


Bass Weekend

There would have been more bass this weekend if I could have gotten into the Cincinnati Bass Cellar - unfortunately, it's by appointment, and I didn't have one. As it was, I did get to play around with a couple 8-strings at a music store near the University of Cincinnati for a bit, which was fun. I usually don't find one, but they had an Ibanez and Travis Bean right there. I was down there for Midpoint Music Festival, which had some interesting talk and good performances available for all. Nice work!

Sunday concluded with Marcus Miller at the Indy Jazz Fest, and the sound and performance was amazing - both inspiring and humbling.

I'm also finalizing plans for a "basscation" in Chicago in a couple weeks, including shows by Meshell Ndegeocello and Dethklok and a stop at the Chicago bass-related music stores. Any suggestions?


Fountain Square Music This Weekend

Radio Radio assists Mandy Marie and the Cool Hand Lukes in debuting their new CD with a party this Saturday night. This show will sell out - get there early. Sunday brings the Rosewood Thieves and The Dead Trees.

The Vollrath has Detholz!, Avagami, and Red Light Driver tonight. The Soft Pack drop in to the tavern tomorrow.

There's live acoustic music at Deano's Vino Friday and Saturday nights. Maria's Pizza present live jazz in that same time frame. Enjoy!


New IMN Podcast is Up, and The Dynamites are Tonight!

The new IMN podcast is up - download it or listen at the site or on WFYI HD2, this afternoon at 4pm.

Also, there's a dandy show at Radio Radio this evening. The Dynamites perform with Soulove Universe opening, and they're both well-worth your time and monetary contributions. Doors at 8pm - see you there!


Any going to Midpoint Music Festival?

Cincinnati hosts the Midpoint Music Fest this weekend, and I'm going to be on a regional "town hall" panel at the Garfield Suites Hotel Saturday at noon. Please, no screaming protesters or holstered weapons - I don't have control over your health care. Instead, some folks and I will discuss the regional music circuit and how you can get things rolling for your band. Check out for more information on the festival, and be sure to catch Kink Ador at one of their shows at the festival. Also, Indy label Standard Recording will be there in force - check out their showcase. Good stuff!

Then, after that, I'll hustle back to Indy for the Marcus Miller show at Indy Jazz Fest. Huzzah!


Dongles, Dongles Everywhere

Yesterday at work, I mentioned to a coworker that I was using software that required a dongle (Propellerhead Record, to be specific) for use. To be fair, you can also use it with online verification, but plenty of folks don't connect their music computers to the 'net for security and performance reasons. Therefore, they lose a USB port to the dongle. And, when you're operating on a MacBook Pro like mine, you've only got 3 USB ports to work with. And my rig includes:

  • A MIDI control surface
  • A MIDI keyboard
  • A MIDI-to-Guitar Controller
  • A MIDI audio card

An old-fashioned MIDI cable allows me to connect the keyboard through the control surface, but the dongle knocks the whole thing out of whack.

In any case, I mentioned this inconvenient dongle, and this computer-savvy coworker had no idea what I was talking about. Hardware dongles aren't a huge priority outside of specialized software, and it's probably because the general public wouldn't stand for it. The only other time I've run across them (outside of music) is specialty scientific software, and at least those dongles allowed pass-through connection of another device (even if it was just a parallel port). Toss in that the new POD Farm plugin I want to use requires an iLok dongle, and I've only got one USB port left. There's the possibility of a USB hub for the dongles, but I'm still down one and I'm not sure about the performance impact of using audio and MIDI devices on a hub.

I understand software companies want to protect their investment in their software development, but a loss of hardware functionality isn't the way to go. The Internet verification is a low-mess solution for those who can always count on playing or recording in a WiFi environment, but that isn't always possible. I've seen recommendation for time-window verifications, where one online authorization lasts for a certain period of time, and that goes a little farther towards a good solution. Ultimately, though, any loss of functionality represents a loss that users have to consider when purchasing their software.


Fountain Square Music This Weekend

Radio Radio brings in Nightjar, Chuckanut Drive and the Here Now this very evening. Tomorrow, look for the undead force of nature that is Unknown Hinson to take the stage, own it fully, and then celebrate with party liquor.

The Vollrath offers forth Everthus The Deadbeats, Surferblood, Essex Channel, and Imaginary Friends tonight, and video?, Yuki, and God Made Robots drop by tomorrow.

There's live acoustic music at Deano's Vino every weekend, and you can partake of live jazz this weekend at Maria's Pizza. But wait, there's more . . .

Wheeler Art Center open house tonight with live music tonight? Check.

Fountain Square Art Festival tomorrow with all kinds of local artists? Check.

Masterpiece In A Day tomorrow with artists and writers competing for prizes? Check.

That's a full schedule right there. Add in that I'll be appearing with Dorsey at Locals Only tonight for their Screw The Taxman benefit show, and there's simply too much to do this weekend. Sorry, but you're going to have to make some difficult decisions.


New IMN Podcast is Up, and You Can Win Indy Jazz Fest Tickets

The new IMN podcast is live - download it or listen at the site or on WFYI HD2 Thursdays at 4pm.

IMN is also giving away tickets to a few Indy Jazz Fest events, so have at it and good luck!

My laptop is now current with Snow Leopard, and everything seems to be running okay, with the exception of some software I rarely use (and updates are on the way). It was just a matter of using Carbon Copy Cloner to make a backup of the old, then reimaging the laptop entirely and migrating the information and applications back from there. I also did away with my Vista partition, so I'm back out of the land of Windows (at least at home). My edition of Record arrives later today, so I'm looking forward to getting that back up and running and maybe making some music again.


Please Try Again, iTunes

The big advances in consumer audio today are not necessarily targeted towards listening to music in an optimum listening environment. Audiophiles can argue over this, but for the purposes of this post I'm going to define an optimum listening environment as a decent stereo system playing uncompressed audio while you sit in a comfy chair and read the liner notes of the CD to glean the knowledge you can from the printed word. Instead, we're looking at compressed audio and easy movement based on a portable media player of some sort. Apple knows this - they invented the friggin' iPod after all. Given their move towards portable audio and the wonderful touchscreen interface on their iPhone and iPod touch, wouldn't it make sense to make their new iTunes LP feature available on those devices?

Or at least give me a PDF of liner notes? These digital booklets were available way before the iTunes LP was debuted last week. Such a feat should be easily accomplished, given that I'm holding a miniature computer with a decent-if-small screen in my hand while I'm listening.

At least for the near future, the answer is no. Which is a shame - iTunes LP is located squarely on your desktop or laptop, where you more than likely already have an Internet connection that would allow you to read up on an artist or watch video (authorized or otherwise) on YouTube. Hell, you can even embed text in the audio file itself to be read on the screen. A list of players on the track bought from the iTunes store would be genius. Bring it on, please.

The iTunes LP is nice eye candy, I suppose, but it's time for real functionality and information.

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Custom Bass Porn with a Technical Twist

lg_32Listening to Derrick Hodge on Robert Glasper's new album Double Booked made me wonder about the basses he used, and it turns out he favors the same manufacturer Owen Biddle of The Roots uses - Callowhill bass guitars out of Philadelphia. The philosophy on the website really made me like the company and the niche it's trying to fill, even if I'm a little more partial to Jazz basses than the builder. It's hard to argue with the tone these players get out of the instrument, though, and the final results look spectacular.

Toss in the Urbanus album from Stefon Harris and Blackout I'm listening to as well, and I've got another common thread. Both albums feature saxophonist/keyboardist Casey Benjamin using a vocoder on what are otherwise primarily acoustic jazz albums (with strong soul and hip-hop influences in a contemporary jazz framework, to be fair). It's not quite the glut of Autotune you may have heard in pop music to this point, but it did provide an interesting color in the albums. And it reinforced for me what I think about the tools of music technology - there's always a time and place for the judicious use of any musical effect. Yes, even Autotune, and even if it's just for use in the "Autotune The News" series. Or the T-Pain app for my iPhone.

People are sick of the overuse of the effect because . . . well, it's been way overused. What was intended to fix tiny mistakes and add an interesting color to specific vocal parts has been slathered on like too much ketchup on eggs you didn't want to eat in the first place. We've gone through too much of the same thing before with the Yamaha DX-7 (and crappy synth work in general) in the Eighties and the god-awful yarl in the Nineties (not a technical effect, but overused and annoying nonetheless). Things will back off, people will find good ways to use these tools, Jay-Z will leave "D.O.A." out of the setlist, and everything will settle down again. Until then, I'll just try to get some good stuff out of the T-Pain iPhone app.