Saturday, January 22, 2011

Music For Finding A New Car

Well, this is sort of about music this time.  I had a car accident at the end of my last day at work on Tuesday morning just past.   I was tired and made an error in judgement and the short of it is the car is totaled, I'm out of work a week recovering from a minor injury and Karen and I need to find a new car,

This would have been easy thirty years ago if we had the money we have now. I remember buying three cars in one year back in the 70s and I don't think I spent more than $250 total for the three of them.  One was $50.  All I really required was that it ran and had a radio.  It HAD to have a radio that WORKED, because I have to have music while I drive. These days you can't get a reliable car for less than $2000 without buying a whole mess of someone else's headaches.

This need has often been a source of friction between my current wife and I as she will often ask for silence while she is driving, which isw most of the time while I am in the car with her.  Infer what you will, but she feels safer if she drives while we are both in the car. It is a rare occasion that I drive while she is a passenger.  But back to the music.
When I travel more than just to work (which is just 5 miles away and hardly worth listening to anything in depth past the radio's offerings, I usually bring music to listen to in the form of mixtapes or CDs. Right now we have borrowed her son's car until we find another so it's tapes (the departed car had a CD player that struggled to play MP3 CDs, so in that sense it will not be missed).  That means that later today I will be pulling oh, at least ten for what may be a four hour stint in the car.  Now we actually won't be in the car for four hours, but I will bring along enough to cover that eventuality.  That means I will gather a selection of tapes from a rack just outside my door leading to the garage where I've been snaking titles from my 25 cassette long boxes.

I have about 5000 cassettes from the mid-80s through the early 90s when I was still accumulating cassettes as they were cheaper than CDs for me at the time.  I converted wholly to CDs in the mid-90s but still buy the odd cassette (and vinyl and shellac, but that's a different tale to tell) here or there when I see a title I like or don't have (I hope) in any other configuration. So I have a lot to choose from in my cassette archive. I know I've pulled a couple of my 90s mixtapes and some of the more esoteric collections to the side as I've browsed through the boxes that appeal to me and are deserving of being heard again.

There's something wonderful about controlling the music that you hear in the car.  On short trips I'm okay with whatever the local NPR affiliate has on, be it music or talk.  We'll be getting close to the 'City' today, so I am sure I'll tune in to the NPR/Americana station for a while, too. But I'm also sure that I will do my best to match the mood of the day, the weather, our ('new' car) expectations and road conditions with something I hope will provide an appropriate soundtrack to our traveling.

This is something most Americans have gotten used to in the last fifty years.  In fact, it seems to be almost a Baby Boomer necessity that there is music while you drive.  I don't think I've had more than three cars of the fifty or so I've owned that didn't have a radio, 8-track, cassette or CD player on board. We had a rental for three days and I got to use the CD player twice. It was a 2009 Chevy Impala so I was able to not only play a couple MP3 CDs without problem but also experience the next wave of technology by being able to plug my phone's MP3 player into the car and hear it plat through the car speakers for the first time. I know. I am SO solid behind the times.

So I did make a mix for the other day when we wennt up to pick up my stepson's car and drop off the rental (they only give you THREE days of rental when you total the car). I called it "Looking For Some Outside Help".  I give all my mixes a title, hoping to define the mood or expectation as to how it will be used. This time I was doing my best to be positive. When I make a mix, often It's a compilation of songs I have recently acquired that allows me to sample what I hope is the best of my choices.  That's what this one was on one level, but the other purpose was to soothe and uplift my wife and myself during this time of woe and inconvenience.

Hopefully you'll find some of the same HERE also, providing I can imbed the link.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Raising The Bar

It seems strange to be gearing up for something new as I get ready to end my 59th trip around the sun. Not strange that I should be looking for change, because I am always open to that. Strange that I should be approaching 60 and still want to do something new and demanding.I guess I was already doing that when I started my latest band, Pied By Moe. That's Me, Fran And Kendall below, left to right.

It just started as Fran Cary and I getting together and playing music. I needed to have someone to play with, someone I could bounce ideas off of and someone who could play just a little better than me on guitar to pick some leads between verses. We both found each other working nights at the same group home and discovered we had a lot in common musically. Suddenly we had a setlist and started playing benefits for two local Hospice Houses. I also called in some of my friends to help at these gigs which helped to make it seem like old times: the Dady Brothers, Hunu, Dave Donnelly & Frank Selitto, Don Christiano & Rita Coulter, Maria Gillard, Jeff Riales & Jedd Curran, Steve Piper and Dave and Dee Adams (lotsa links to the right for most of these guys). Soon Fran and I added a third, Kendall Wilt, whom I had met while I was a substitute teacher for my first several years in Naples. It had been 'Duncan, Fran & Friends' on the cards someone made for us, but as the group began to congeal with Kendall, it only seemed fair to have a group name. Through polling friends on Facebook, I was reminded of the name Joe Dady had thought of based on a personal tale of my past. I had used it briefly when Don Christiano and had a musical partnership and so I dusted off 'Pied By Moe', which seemed to fit us three stooges very well.
I had moved south out to Naples, NY from Rochester back in 2002 and left the easy access I had to music venues and weekly meeting places filled with the crew of musicians I'd become accustomed to seeing and playing with on a regular basis. I still had ties to Rochester because I was booking The Park Ave Festival and The Brockport Summer Arts Festival since 1998. But moving 60 miles and an hour away did ask me to sacrifice interfacing with a lot of my friends and subtracting myself from being available and floating on top of the pool as it were. And there was something else missing.

Out here in Naples there were no record stores, no extensive news stands, no place to plug in to the information stream I was used to; I would have to drive back to Rochester to get my 'music' fix. That usually meant making a choice and picking up a copy of Mojo, Uncut, Q, (these first three usually had an attached compilation) No Depression, Paste, Dirty Linen, Sing Out, Acoustic Guitar and /or Guitar Player and trolling the cheapo ($1-3) bins at the local indie stores and maybe picking up one mid-priced used selection or really springing for a new CD.

At least my new wife, Karen had a working computer and an internet connection, which (due to my life choices) was more than I had at the end of the century. So I began exploring the brtave new world of online music. At first I accumulated record company lists and applied for promo status banking on writing for the local papers. I was offered free MP3 downloads by many forward thinking labels and artists, but at the time our computer was sputtering along with barely enough speed and memory to stay online. I think I tried to download one song and it took me 35 minutes so THAT wasn't working for me. Our computer was for basic email and that was it!

However, times got a little better and we thought we could afford it so we took a risk on a Dell from QVC (not a good deal, we were later to find out) which got us an up to date computer with ample memory and storage (funny how little 150 GBs seems now), a flat screen monitor, a CD burner, wireless keyboard & mouse and with a high speed Roadrunner connection suddenly we were up and running. Time to go looking for some music. Somebody told me to check out Bear Share. Next I moved to Lime Wire. Then I found the Usenet. Then I found Mp3 Music Blogs.
As I wised up and saw how it worked, I ditched the P2P which seemed risky for viruses and nasty and unknown sneaky agents. At first I punched in names on Bear Share and Lime Wire testing what was out there. Rarely did I get a hit which meant there weren't too many people using those services who were in the same league as I was or into the same music as I was. After all, I had owned over 250,000 recordings in my life so far (78s,45s, LPs, Cassettes, CDs) and worked in Record Stores from 1971 to 1998. There really wasn't TOO much I didn't already know about (or so I thought; more later on that) through my own collection or from working in new and used stores for so long. In fact I was (in)famous for my encyclopedic knowledge of music.

Then one buddy hipped me to the Usenet. BINGO! there was plenty there I could relate to and if I was willing to take what showed up there, I would be able to download huge amounts of music for a low monthly fee that seemed altogether very reasonable. Pretty soon I needed an external hard drive, an extra 150 GB just to free up the CPU hard drive to operate efficiently. Pretty soon I moved up to a 500GB drive and started to fill THAT one up. It took a while, almost a year but I did fill it, mostly because I'd found the last missing piece of the puzzle for me...the MP3 Music Blogs.

And this is where I am heading, one small step at a time.