The Blast

Atomic Tom iPhone Concert on the B Train
October 16, 2010, 4:52 pm
Filed under: music, video

Brooklyn-based band Atomic Tom had their instruments stolen, but carried on, performing their single “Take Me Out” on their iPhones while on the B train.

Easily the best iPhone performance I’ve seen.

via The Loop


Varese on Charlie Parker
July 20, 2010, 9:11 pm
Filed under: classical, jazz, music

In the 1920s, french composer Edgar Varese held a certain contempt for jazz music. However, the advent of bebop changed this attitude, and Varese went on to hold workshops such notable jazz artists as Charles Mingus, and at one point almost had Charlie Parker as a pupil. Quoting Varese in an interview reprinted in Composers’ Voices from Ives to Ellington:

With jazz, the ones who could have been good become very conventional. I heard the man who was playing—what was his name? He died. He was a god of music in that field. He played a kind of saxophone—Charlie Parker. At that time he lived in New York. He followed me on the street, and he said he wanted to be with us. The day I left I said, “We’ll get together. I’ll take you for my pupil.” Then I had to catch my boat. It’s when I went to Europe for Déserts. And Charlie Parker died in ’55, in March. Oh, he was so nice, and so modest, and he had such a tone. You could not know if it was an angelic double bass, a saxophone, or a bass clarinet. Then one day I was in that big hall there on 14th Street, the Cooper Union. Somebody said, “I want to meet you.” She was the widow of Charlie Parker. She said, “He was always talking about you, so I know all about you.” And that man was a great star. He wanted to study music and thought I had something for him.

Recordings of Varese’s workshops with Charles Mingus and others made in 1957 can be found here.

via the always excellent Alex Ross

Edgar Varese

Despite All My Rage…
March 11, 2010, 6:04 pm
Filed under: music

Fantastic. I’d like to see more of these. Time for a 90s alt-rock binge.

via Curved White

Victor Wooten: Amazing Grace
January 22, 2010, 7:30 pm
Filed under: electric bass, music, video

Despite hearing and knowing about Bela Fleck and the Flecktones for years now, it has been only recently that I’ve been taking the time to explore their music.

Normally, I would have been inspired by the excellent work of Bela Fleck that I’ve already encountered, such as his multiple collaborations with Edgar Meyer and Mike Marshall (I was even lucky enough to catch a couple of their live shows).

However, it was Flecktones bass player Victor Wooten that caught my attention. Here he is, performing a solo electric bass version of Amazing Grace during their Live at the Quick performance back in 2002.

Inspiring stuff. Enjoy.

Charting the Beatles
January 20, 2010, 7:58 pm
Filed under: design, infographics, music, uncategorized

Michael Deal designed a series of visualizations based on the Beatles and their work. Here is part of one showing the Beatles work schedule (click to enlarge):

There are several others, including composition credits over time, song keys, and self references. Click here for all of them.

What a great idea… I’d like to see this done with all sorts of other kinds of music, such as hip-hop, classical and jazz.

via Kottke

Corporate Sponsorship Gets Another Weird Name…
January 9, 2010, 4:47 pm
Filed under: dc, music

The former Nissan Pavilion in Bristow, VA will no longer have the Nissan name attached to it. Evidently, Nissan’s contract with LiveNation for naming rights expired.

So what took it’s place?

Jiffy Lube Live

Frankly, I stopped letting the corporate-naming-rights-thing for sports and music arenas bother me a while ago, but in this case, I do wish that Nissan stuck it out a while longer.

via DCist

On the Best Music of the Decade: The New Yorker
December 11, 2009, 8:41 pm
Filed under: music

Sasha Frere-Jones sums up the past decade in music more succinctly than anywhere else:

If you’re reading this, you know what happened in the aughts. Radiohead was really good. OutKast was really good. Beyoncé got it right. The Strokes changed the sound of indie bands (or at least some of them, and for a long time). People stopped saying “electronica.” The South was responsible for an enormous amount of great hip-hop. Indie bands started singing way up high. Lots of these bands slowed down and caught the wet noodles, until they found machines and sped up again. R. & B. remained open-minded long after the moment when teen pop got stuck in some tepid fondue of Auto-Tune and laptop guitars. (Gross!) Nashville pop remained reliable (it helps when you have hundreds of songwriters on the job), though the goods drooped slightly in quality after 2008, and most of this country activity went unnoticed in magazines and blogs anyway. Metal experienced a resurgence in ideas and numbers toward the end of the decade. MP3s either destroyed everything or made everything possible. (I haven’t finished reading all the trend pieces, so I’ll get back to you on that.)

Count me in the camp that says that MP3s not only made everything possible, but also saved what mattered in music. More on music and commerce in today’s world on another post.