Sunday, March 30, 2008


Colored VinylsThe nicest thing I've taken away from SXSW is a renewed excitement about listening to new music. There's always so much to check out between listening to the new, looking to the past to hear the evolution and feeding the current obsessions, that it just feels endless at times. But then I went off to a place where everyone's excited about all that music. And I guess all that listening and talking snapped me out of my doldrums. Case in point: I have next month's 40 emusic downloads already used which has never happened before. In the queue for next month: Bon Iver, Sandro Perri, some old Black Keys because they're coming through town next month, and Robert Nighthawk (courtesy of Document Records). This month's downloads got decimated in my current alt-country jag: Waco Brothers, Gillian Welch, and Eilen Jewell.

The last few weeks have been so awash in trying to roll the snowball up the hill at work, that I feel like I could write a love letter to the elevator that takes me out of that building, but the Stars already did that in this cool song but blah video.

In a random bit of synchronicity, I keep hearing about a resurgence in popularity of vinyl as a format, aka the "vinyl revival": donewaiting and idolator do the latest roundups on the topic and here's a blurb from the panel at SXSW with some exciting rumors included for those who care.

I spent last night on the roof deck of Reef trying to solve the world's problems with Andrew and Brian and Megan. Failed in that goal, but had a good time all the same.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Expressing Yourself

Continental Club SignThis apartment building burned down in my neighborhood while I was in Austin. No one was hurt thankfully, but the remains are a pretty crazy sight to walk by daily.

I got some grief when I mentioned that I didn't want Clinton to go down in flames in Texas and Ohio. For a bunch of reasons, I don't see the downside in extending the primary season to give Obama time to turn more smart, thoughtful Americans into believers, especially if his response to potshots is to turn them into opportunities, as he did in his recent thoughtful, impassioned discussion of race. But rather than go on about that speech, I refer you to The Journal of Abundant Media, who already said it better than I could.

Amusing moments caught in four days worth of World Figure Skating Championships coverage: this guy from Sweden dug out the Saturday Night Fever get-up and Sinead & John Kerr from Scotland imitated aliens, but at least he didn't go commando. I wonder if DJ Shadow knows he's got a new audience in these French ice dancers? Men's figure skating has turned into the land of sensitive metrosexuals, which makes Daisuke Takahashi's program to a hip-hop-esque remix of Swan Lake all the more entertaining. Some years you could get snockered if you turned the awful-costume-watch into a drinking game. This year, you sadly would have been stone cold sober. Aside from that, it's been a thoroughly entertaining few days of appointment television/competition.

I enjoyed myself at The Black Cat's Saturday dance night. A good time was had by all though the music was pretty unimaginative and the DJ confused the crowd at times. Still, judging by the booty-shaking, no one seemed to mind much. I'd go back since it was fun and $6 to get in.

Starbucks's record label Hear Music - for which I worked one summer when it was still a little chain of cool music stores - is learning how hard the music biz is these days: the straight and the snarky take on that.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Can I Do It Again?

Continental Club SignIn the event you're not tired of reading about SXSW yet...

Once you resign yourself to the idea that you're going to miss 99.9% of what you want to see, SXSW is a no-holds-barred great time. The whole conference has that feeling at times of a house party with everyone you've ever met. Hung out with lots of people, panels were interesting for the most part, I left with posters courtesy of Flatstock, the music was everything you want in a music festival (as long as you ponied up for a badge) and the whole shebang ran on schedule.

Bizarre sights: the blogger cage (scroll down for photo) and international speed dating.

Sadly wasn't invited to this party.

Here's the quick wrap-up on the artists (i.e. at least two songs) I caught:

  • Centro-matic

  • My Morning Jacket
  • DevotchKa

  • Waco Brothers
  • Wiley and The Checkmates
  • Herman Hitson
  • Andrew Collberg
  • Deadman
  • Jimmie Vaughan
  • Headlight - misheard later that night as "headlice"
  • Abra Moore
  • N.E.R.D. Watch video

  • Rhapsody's Tim Quirk wandered SXSW collecting drunk-dialing stories from musicians. He managed to get installments from The Hold Steady's Franz Nicolay, The Mekons'/Waco Brothers' Jon Langford, Gang of Four's Dave Allen and more. Don't laugh, you know you've done it, too.

    Even if I'd know that Bob Mould was in town on Saturday, I think I needed the silence by then. Still, would've been cool to hear Copper Blue live.

    Spunky hopefuls, huh? Pun was completely intentional.

    Oh, please.

    Thursday, March 13, 2008

    Future Leads to the Past

    Chick-fil-AOne severely overbooked flight, four hours of waiting, a three hour flight to a place I wasn't going to (Dallas), another overbooked flight to another place I wasn't going to (San Antonio), 3 hours of driving (Dallas to Austin) that included someone nearly ramming into us on the highway...and we made it to Austin at 12:45 last night...15 hours after I left my house. Insert sigh o' relief here.

    I've spent the day chatting and watching panels at SXSW to get ideas on people who can participate in FMC conferences in the future, to actually watch some panels and learn from them - something I don't get to do at our events, and to get a sense of what people are interested in learning.

    This afternoon's panels included an interesting one on "Selling Music As a Service." No doubt webcasts will be available in a few days here. The concept of treating music as a service instead of as a product is hardly a new one these days. It feels like the topic du jour, much like pro- and anti-DRM debates were a few years ago. The question that inevitably comes up is "what is the future?"

    If I could have the perfect world of musical discovery, what would it be? Would ownership of the music matter? There's certainly an allure to the idea of having the world's entire musical library at your fingertips from one device for you to access at any time for a fee. Portability of whatever system would be key for me. But giving up the idea of ownership would also be a shift in thinking. Our music and other collections define us in so many ways because they're indicative of who we are or were and what we deem or did deem worthy of spending money on or not tossing. What would replace that identification process? Would we have to (wow) go back to talking to each other and not making snap judgments based on that one Celine Dion or Backstreet Boys release that mars an otherwise worldly, eclectic and hip music collection?

    I'm off to dinner - possibly to a benefit concert for a documentary called Body of War and My Morning Jacket later tonight and as many other bands as I can see in between now and when I collapse. By the way, NPR is webcasting and broadcasting MMJ as well as Vampire Weekend, and Yo La Tengo and R.E.M. last night.

    Saturday, March 8, 2008

    Rhymes with Stealin'

    Metalwork ChairIt's been a travelin' kind of week.

    Monday was a quick trip to Philly where I visited my co-worker Kristin to talk through some website stuff. For lunch that day I had the most delicious vegetarian Italian hoagie at a place called Chickie's. They were stuffed with sauteed broccoli rabe, roasted red peppers, baked eggplant and provolone cheese. For the skeptical amongst you, I promise that broccoli rabe is GREAT in sandwiches.

    Wednesday I left on my tour of upstate New York. This is part of the same free-educational-seminars-for-musicians-project that I went to Syracuse for. That trip was so useful and productive that I sorta, kinda, maybe, OK, I really did volunteer myself for this second trip. I'm beat right now, but it was worth it. If I ever forget how much you miss on conference calls and emails, this was a huge reminder. I met some great folks who are eager to learn more and to get as many people involved as possible, so mission was definitely accomplished.

    I suspect the musicians' union as a concept is going the same way as other labor unions in that membership and leadership are aging and they're struggling to continue catering to their existing membership while also trying to find ways to appeal and be relevant to the younger, non-orchestra folks. Not an easy task.

    One of our project partners, The Arts & Cultural Council for Greater Rochester have a mini gallery in their office with a cool metalwork exhibit going on. The metal chair in the photo was pretty comfortable.

    I saw country/folk/blues singer Eilen Jewell (yup, it rhymes with stealin') last Saturday at the Iota Cafe. She opened there last year for The Holmes Brothers and I spent her entire set talking to them (and over her). And once I paid attention, I felt badly that I hadn't paid more. So, I wanted to see her and she of the smoky voice didn't disappoint. Her guitar player played the tastiest, honky-tonkish, chicken-pickin' licks, her upright bassist was slappin' away like one of those guys in the old black and white reels from the 40's wearing tails, her drummer brushed with abandon, and she crooned over it all to the dancers and watchers. In addition to originals, she covered Patsy Cline, Billie Holiday and Loretta Lynn ("Fist City").

    Heard on the radio while in a DC taxi cab on Friday night, sidekick says to DJ: "You know, this is probably the only hip-hop show with an all Will Ferrell intro."

    From Monday's NYTimes: the new, more personable Hillary Clinton "recently tried her hand at bowling an orange up the aisle during [her campaign plane's] take-off, a favorite game of the news media." If we have Clinton as President, will the White House Press Corps graduate to grapefruits or maybe even pomelos? Watch the party start then, yee haw!

    Off to SXSW next week. As wrecked as I feel right now, I'm still excited ;)

    Saturday, March 1, 2008


    pendantTwo [correction: two days later, I'm now up to three...] near strangers in the last week have asked me if I'm a jeweler. You see, if you google my name, I'm not the first "Chhaya Kapadia" that comes up. The first is the founder and designer of Maya Jewels. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but are there really that many people out there that get an email from my work email account, google me, think I'm a jeweler, and then wonder what the jewelry has to do with music?

    A crazy week of work travel is coming up. I'm heading to Philly on Monday and then I'm taking another run through upstate New York on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday where I'll be visiting Buffalo, Rochester and Albany (in that order). Oy. Not so bad though in that I love taking the train. After booking all those trains I'm convinced that Amtrak subsidizes all the rest of their routes by marking up the cost of the Northeast Corridor since it costs peanuts to travel the full width of New York but it's cheaper to fly DC-Boston.

    I didn't get to see Wilco last week since tickets sold out within hours. What a great bill, too with the always awesome John Doe (of X and The Knitters) opening. Lucky for me, NPR has the whole show online.

    On the techie front, I got to see Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) this week while working on my boss' new laptop and I think I have a gadget crush. I'm considering upgrading since the reviews look stellar. That and I've been looking into Office 2008. I'd be willing to pay a lot if Entourage (the red-headed, country bumpkin, Mac-based stepchild of Outlook for you Windows folks) worked better. Alas reviews are mixed.

    DC News

    The US Mint doesn't want to print "Taxation Without Representation" on the new DC quarter. Silly me. No doubt it's not necessary since our history-obsessed citizenry is fully aware that DC residents don't have a vote in Congress. Obnoxious.

    In addition to lacking a vote in Congress, DC is also without many places to dig through music for us non-turntable-owning types. DCist runs through the music retailer landscape.


    It seems 11 hours at the office, no dinner, three Chimays and staying up till 4 talking didn't result in my feeling the best this morning. Ya think? Greasy breakfasts fix many a problem though.