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The Lighthouse and Whaler: One of the Next Great Bands…

Posted by admin on Oct 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

I was extremely lucky to have this amazing band in my studio for a recent Blip.fm Session. I can’t put my finger on it, but these guys remind me of Vampire Weekend, but with some very deep lyrics. In fact, the name of the band is reference to Herman Melville’s epic novel, Moby Dick. Yes, many of us were forced to read this in high school, but sadly, I believe I read the Cliff’s Notes version and failed to grasp the significance of the name of the band. Apparently, Nantucket represented all things great to seafaring men back in the day. The lighthouse was one of the first glimpses of sanctuary that tired sailors would see before coming to port. However, in the novel the great whale, Moby Dick, whom the whaling boat had been pursuing, surfaces between the whaler and the lighthouse. Instead of going to port, the whaler decides to chase after Moby Dick which eventually leads to the sailors’ demise. I’m sure I botched this, but you get the gist.

The band explains that the significance of the name of their band is that they often see glimpses of success, but are often led astray (hopefully not to their demise) in order to pursue their passions. Pretty cool and extremely deep for what think will be an amazing band and one to watch – not at all what their name might suggest in strict Mellvillian reference…

 
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The Parlotones from South Africa Play (and Drink a Barrel of Wine) at My House!

Posted by admin on Mar 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

Yesterday, The Parlotones performed in my basement studio in San Francisco for a special 2-hour show. The Parlotones hail all the way from South Africa, where they have established themselves as one of the biggest bands in the country. Additionally, the band has followed another passion of theirs: WINE. In the coming weeks The Parlotones will be launching several of their own wines in the United States. Learn more about their wine at http://theparlotoneswine.com.

The band performed first for about an hour and did a fantastic job. It’s amazing that they performed so well considering they are wrapping up a month-long tour in the US and drove straight from Portland for 10 hours to make our show on time. These guys are an incredible band and we were lucky to have them in the studio.

Being that we are from Northern California, we love wine as much as we love music. Currently, both the music and wine industries are going through a tremendous rebirth and we wanted to pull together some of the biggest names in Napa Valley. Joining us for our session was Paul Mabray of Vintank, www.vintank.com and Mark Oldman, www.markoldman.com. Paul Mabray is a strategic visionary in the wine industry and is the CEO and founder of Vintank. Mark Oldman is both a wine celebrity and author, known for his creative approach to tasting and understanding wine. We spoke with Paul and Mark for a bit, drank some wine, and then brought Kahn Morbee (lead vocals and guitar) and Paul Hodgson (lead guitar and keyboards) back for an interview… and yes, some more wine.

The show was a blast and there was much wine flowing. Enjoy and hang out for the afterparty as well!

 
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Pro Tools DAE errors 9128 and 6101

Posted by admin on Feb 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

I gotta say that this is why Pro Tools is the industry standard and why their customer support is world class. Please remember that I have no formal relationship with Pro Tools and I am writing this post SOLELY as a happy customer.

I was experiencing these awful clicks and pops during both playback and recording. The clicks and pops were so bad that my sound recording was basically useless. After reading some posts online, I went to the “Setup” menu and selected “Playback Engine.” For some reason, I had checked the box next to “Host Engine.” After unchecking the box, the screen looked like this:

The clicks and pops went away, but I encountered a 9128 error which had to do with CPU issues. I know this had to do with having multiple apps open, but I wanted to stress the system. Since I often do live streaming of bands, I also need to be able to keep a browser open so I can make sure that the stream is being picked up by the web. I also need to have my email easily accessible if the band’s management or label needs to contact me (I have a NO CELL PHONE rule when I record as it gets picked up my my mics). As such, I wanted to see how many apps I could keep open before I got the error message. In total, (you can see this in the app dock below) I had Mail, Chrome browser, Preview, iMovie, Skype, and of course Pro Tools 9 running at the same time. Obviously, this is excessive (particularly Skype), but it was a good test. The error message looked like this:

I also ran into several 6101 errors as well which was an indication that Pro Tools is having difficulty reading from the hard drive fast enough. I momentarily solved this problem by setting the DAE Playback Buffer to Level 4. The latency would cause such a delay that a live band would not be able to record and monitor their playing – obviously, this was not a long-term solution. Every time I set the buffer back to the Level 2 default, the 6101 error would pop up.

I then threw up my hands, cried “Uncle,” and emailed support at Pro Tools. They were responsive and gave me the impression that they cared about my issues. Cameron, the support guru, diagnosed that it was likely a hardware setup issue. I use a ProFire 2626 as the IO device and an older MacBook Pro with 6GB of RAM. I’m using a GT050Q Glyph external hard drive. We tried various configurations:

1) Profire 2626 via FireWire400 ExpressCard, external drive via FW800 port on the right side of the laptop… RESULT: NO DICE
2) External drive via FW800 port on the right side of the laptop and daisy chain to FW400 port of Profire 2626… RESULT: NO DICE

We then tried:

Profire 2626 via FireWire400 port on the right side of the laptop and daisy chained external drive via the FW400 port at the back of the 2626… RESULT: YES YES YES!

It’s really weird, but sometimes these configurations make a huge difference. Interestingly, I also kept ALL of the applications open that I had previously mentioned. I was able to run an hour long recording session. I also did several mixdowns with about 11 tracks. No problems and everything ran smoothly. Hopefully, this will be useful to someone out there on the planet… or at least the one person who reads this blog (hey mom… oh yeah, but you have no idea what Pro Tools is…).

Oh, here’s the report that I got from AVID – good work guys and thanks for saving my ass! BTW – if Avid has a problem with me posting their email, I’ll gladly pull it down, but they really did a good job for me… thanks Cameron!

 
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Paradise Lost: Weird, Short, and Loud – George Clinton at Yoshi’s

Posted by admin on Feb 9, 2011 in Uncategorized

I had a chance to see one of my favorite funk masters of ALL TIME the other night at Yoshi’s in San Francisco. I was looking forward to this show for months, but unfortunately, it turned out to be a disappointment for me. In some ways, I feel guilty and ashamed admitting that I didn’t have fun. Am I crazy? There were 20 people on stage in wild costumes having a great time playing some awesome tunes. But something struck me that the performance was more of a circus of various disjointed performers as opposed to tight knit band. Sure, I understand that Parliament Funkadelic often times takes an hour of random jamming to get going, but the masters of funk never really seemed to get their groove on. There were times when I felt that the musicians were nervously looking at each other wondering “is this the bridge” or “is it my turn to take the solo?” For the guys that were at the forefront of funk innovation, this was disheartening and WEIRD to see/hear that, well, the Mothership never really connected.

Pretty amazing that they could all fit on the tiny stage

It was also surprising how SHORT the set was… There were two shows: one that started at 7:30 and another at 9 or so. I could’ve sworn that the initial set ended at around 8:30ish. Maybe my memory escapes me, but I remember mumbling, “Is that it?” Granted, Parliament is known to live by their own schedule, but I was a bit surprised.

Tear the rook of the sucka!

While it was cool to see the band in a small venue like Yoshi’s, I was also shocked how LOUD the show was. Being the old fart that I am, I assumed that it was just me… until I turned around and saw several people with their hands over their ears. Granted, I forgot to bring my trusty ear plugs, but at one point I was cringing from the ringing. I’m sure the poor sound engineer had a hell of a time doing the mixdown for a band with twenty people. It was probably absolute madness just remembering what channel corresponded to what instrument/band member. Perhaps that had something to do with it…

I must admit that hearing Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucka) live was pretty awesome. It certainly brought back memories. George Clinton has made such an incredible contribution to funk and just the music world in general. I guess I was just expecting more from one of the greats.

Oh, and one more thing… George cut off his colorful braids. That alone was WEIRD and SHORT, but maybe not so LOUD anymore.

 
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Gotta Say That Pro Tools 9.0 is Pretty Rocking

Posted by admin on Jan 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

I just installed the latest version of Pro Tools thanks to Kevin and the good folks at Avid and I must say that the new features are great (BTW make sure you get the latest version). I particularly like the fact that I don’t need to lug the hardware interface with me every time I want to make tweaks to my latest project. My IO interface is M-Audio’s Profire 2626 – while it is totally portable, it’s a pain to have to hook up if I just want to make a slight adjustment to an existing project. Now, I just need to plug in the USB ILOK key and I can open up Pro Tools on my laptop. Pro Tools 9 automatically recognizes that you haven’t connected to your IO interface and will allow you to play the project through the speakers/headphone jack on your laptop. Really convenient.

I did come across some issues with clicking and popping, but they seem to have cleared up after installing the latest version 9.0.1. Since I record a lot of bands for our show, the Blip.fm Sessions (shameless plug I know), it’s totally important that I check for the latest updates. This has often cured problems that come up at the last minute when I’m panicked about properly recording a show and strange things start happening.

Also, the Pro Tools support guys suggested that when funky things happen, that I trash the preferences and databases. This resets Pro Tools when having strange issues. Special thanks to Cameron – here’s how to do it:

Deleting Databases and Preferences
These are important steps in order to resolve various issues, such as assertion errors, graphic or display problems, and other intermittent issues that are not specifically hardware or compatibility related. Listed below are the paths to all the database and preference files installed by Pro Tools. Once you have deleted these files, you should empty the trash and restart your computer. These files will be recreated when Pro Tools is launched.

Digidesign Databases

Double-click on the Macintosh HD icon on your desktop. (This would be your system drive if you have renamed it to something else.)
Go to the Library folder.
Go to the Application Support folder
Go to the Digidesign folder
Find the folder called Databases and drag it to your trash.
NOTE: If you are using Pro Tools HD, DV Toolkit 2 or Complete Production Toolkit, you will want to backup your Catalogs folder before deleting the Databases folder.
Pro Tools Preferences

From the Finder, click on the ‘Go’ menu at the top of your screen and choose ‘Home’.
Go to the Library folder.
Go to the Preferences folder.
Delete the following files:
com.digidesign.ProTools.plist
DAE Prefs
DigiSetup.OSX
Pro Tools LE/HD/M-Powered Prefs

Good luck!

PS – I’m not affiliated with Avid – I just think it’s a great product

 
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My Interview with David Hornik of August Capital

Posted by admin on Dec 9, 2010 in Uncategorized

I tried a new version of the Blip.fm Sessions last week. Instead of bringing in a band, I decided to interview a different sort of rock star… a VC that’s done a lot of cool stuff (like invest in evite and Aardvark) as well as being an avid music fan. I was actually really surprised to hear about his degree in Computer Music from Stanford… pretty wild stuff. Anyway, we talked about the industry, various trends, and advice for startups. Specifically we focused on 3 areas: 1) the intersection between music and venture capital, 2) how to pitch a VC, and 3) the importance of balancing work and play as a start-up entrepreneur. Check it out!

 
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A Weekend with the Mother Hips and the True Test of a Man

Posted by admin on Sep 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

I had a pretty music packed weekend last week thanks to our good friends at 107.7 The Bone. We kicked things off on Friday at 4PM by doing a Blip.fm Session at the radio station. It was different than our normal show given that I co-hosted it with Joe Rock, Music Director of the Bone (who btw is a GREAT guy), AND we did the session in front of a studio audience of around 100 people. I gotta admit, the newness, the crowd, the new venue, and also the first time I used multiple cameras got my nerves a bit frayed. Having said that, it was an absolute blast.

You can check out the action below


Watch live video from Blip.fm on Justin.tv

We then had a chance to interview the band which I plan to stream live this coming Friday, September 24th at 3PM Pacific. You’ll be able to see it at http://blip.fm/themotherhips or in the archive at http://justin.tv/blipfm. Tim and Greg of the Hips are just extremely nice guys and it was a blast chatting about their future plans for the band.

Saturday night rolled around and we got set up with a bunch of tickets to see the Hips play at the legendary Fillmore. There’s something about the Fillmore that makes it truly a special experience every time I see a show. Maybe it’s the history. Maybe it’s the numerous greats that have played there. Maybe it’s the palatal qualities. It’s almost as if the spirits of the great musicians that once graced its floors still come back for a visit to see who will be the next “great.” Who knows… but I can say that seeing the Mother Hips play was truly a highlight of the year.


Tim, Eric, and me goofing off at the Mother Hips show at the Fillmore on September 18th. (Joe Rock, who was equally a goof, took the picture… clever, clever man)

We then got invited backstage after the show – A first for me at the Fillmore. It’s kinda funny… before I was in the music biz, I always wondered what it was like to go backstage. All of the crazy stories of raging parties and associated baffoonery. Maybe I’ve seen Spinal Tap one too many times. The backstage section was pretty modest to be honest. Nothing crazy or grandiose. But again, that feeling of grandeur imagining all of the great bands that once sat in the tiny dressing room, getting fired up to play, and walking down the stairs to the stage made the hairs on my arm stand on end. Yes, of course, I paced the steps from the dressing room, down the hall, down the stairs, and on stage (I’m a dork, I admit)… It was pretty wild. What a great way to spend the weekend.

After a feast of Korean BBQ just down the street, I stumbled home and got back at 4AM. Nothing too crazy, except my 4 year old kid got me up at 6AM and asked me if I could play guitar for him. Hemmingway once said, “The true test of a man is his ability to work with a hangover.”

I got up, gave my son a big hug, and said, “Sure.”

 
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I’m So 5 Minutes Ago… The Never-ending Quest to be the First to See a Great Band

Posted by admin on Sep 20, 2010 in Uncategorized

I had a chance to see a great band called Oona a few weeks ago. I think these guys are the next Eurythmics… Anyway, how often does this happen to you?

ME: I just saw this awesome band the other day.

FRIEND: Oh really? What was the name of the band?

ME: I hadn’t heard of them before, but they were fantastic. They were called Oona.

FRIEND: Oh, of course. I’ve been listening to those guys for years. They’re great.

ME: (No sound other than a grimace on my face for being so F%!&ing 5 minutes ago.)

This is the almost constant battle for music lovers – maybe it’s what keeps music discovery so fresh and fun. We’re always trying to outdo our peers and be the FIRST (or at least amongst the first few) to find a great band. The above scenario has happened to me with countless bands (the English Beat, U2, Tears for Fears, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Violent Femmes, etc.).

Maybe someday, I’ll actually be one of the first to find a great band. Until then, I guess I’ll just keep trying.

Here’s a shot of Oona when I saw them at Milk on Haight St. in SF a few weeks ago

 
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Rush at Shoreline Amphitheater – August 9, 2010

Posted by admin on Aug 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

I had a chance to relive my mullet-doning youth by checking out the Rush show last Monday. I often judge a show based on the “did-the-show-make-the-hairs-on-my-arm-stand-up” factor. Sadly, I must say that the show gets a B-. I’m not really sure why to be honest. The beers were flowing. I was there with a good buddy of mine who also loves Rush. Shoreline wasn’t freezing… And, Rush fans were out in force!

Not to mention Shoreline at sunset is really a great view…

But it just didn’t do it for me. Perhaps it was the AWFUL videos that were playing in advance of the band. The humor was pathetic and I’m shocked that the fans didn’t outright boo. Having said that, I must say in Rush’s defense that when “Spirit of the Radio” blasted through the speakers, the hairs on my arm did stand up. It was pretty awesome and technically perfect. These guys are the prog-rock masters of the universe. Here’s roughly what the set looked like:

First set
The Spirit of Radio
Time Stand Still
Presto
Stick It Out
Workin’ Them Angels
Leave That Thing Alone
Faithless
BU2B
Freewill
Marathon
Subdivisions

Second set
Tom Sawyer
Red Barchetta
YYZ
Limelight
The Camera Eye
Witch Hunt
Vital Signs
Caravan
Drum Solo
Closer to the Heart
2112 (Overture and Temples of Syrinx)
Far Cry

Encore
La Villa Strangiato
Working Man

As you can tell the first set was a chance for the band to showcase some of their less popular tunes. Nothing stood out for me, though Freewill and Subdivisions were pretty rocking.

The second set was FAR better. I gotta say that Tom Sawyer was absolutely incredible. These guys can still rock and didn’t miss a note. And, Neil Peart is still just an incredible drummer. The solo was pretty amazing. Here’s a closeup.

Again, B- isn’t a horrible grade. I got plenty of those in school and somehow convinced my parents and prospective employers that it was a decent grade. Nonetheless my expectations were much greater. To see one of the greatest bands of all time perform just “decent” is always a bit of a disappointment.

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Jeff Bezos on Building A Good Product (as opposed to just marketing a mediocre one)

Posted by admin on Aug 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

I lifted this quote from Bob Lefsetz’s email “Quote of the Day.” This was from a recent interview with Charlie Rose. I really like how Bezos thinks and couldn’t agree with him more about the importance of building a solid product.

“Before if you were making a product, the right business strategy was to put 70% of your attention, energy, and dollars into shouting about a product, and 30% into making a great product. So you could win with a mediocre product, if you were a good enough marketer. That is getting harder to do. The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies…the individual is empowered… The right way to respond to this if you are a company is to put the vast majority of your energy, attention and dollars into building a great product or service and put a smaller amount into shouting about it, marketing it. If I build a great product or service, my customers will tell each other.”

I particularly like the quote given its relevance to startup entrepreneurs with limited resources. Most startups never have the resources to spend on marketing to promote their products. As such, I believe it’s key to build a product that gets users to excitedly tell their friends about it. Assume you will never have a single dollar to buy a user. Look at the recent explosion of Foursquare, Gowalla, or DailyBooth. At the outset, these guys didn’t spend but got users to tell others to hop on the bandwagon. Ego exploitation? Perhaps, but that’s a topic for a later post…

Anyway, you can see the full interview on TechCrunch http://techcrunch.com/2010/07/29/jeff-bezos-kindle-charlie-rose/

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