Thursday, November 25, 2010

CMS 2010: Day 2 and Updates

A sample of the stuff acquired at CMS*
From the tryptophan-hazes-make-bloggers-slow dept.

I'm in the process of preparing the content for the CMS Day 2 report but it may be a few days before the next post - it's Thanksgiving in the land of turkeys after all! There is a lot of great content that I'm way behind on editing together. Here's a preview of what's coming up:

Workshop 4 - How to Get Rich and Famous with Keith Mohr
I recorded a 30+ minute interview with Keith where we talked about the music industry, new media and how musicians promote themselves. It covered a lot, so I may break this on into 2 articles.

Workshop 5 - Music Publishing 101
Again, at least 2 article's worth of content.  Unlike the positive things that came out of the previous workshop this will be a little more, let's call it, "discouraging."

Workshop 6 - Tom Jackson
Always entertaining, Tom's session is like the pallate cleanser of workshops. Lots of video to splice together for this one.

Afternoon Worship with Jonathan Lee

I'll do my best to churn these out as soon as possible. Updates and notes below the fold.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

CMS 2010: Late Night Groove Lounge

Rick Cua smiling for the camera
From the John-Lee-Hooker-would-be-proud dept.

Every year at CMS Overlake the guys include a concert-after-the-concert event called the Late Night Groove Lounge.  It's essentially a semi-impromptu blues jam session between a number of the artists attending the conference.  The songs are massively extended versions of the originals with solos from most every band member each time.

There's an NSFW phrase* that describes type of musical self-indulgence that happens there.  In room full of musicians (who are often, in turn, full of themselves :) that type of thing is not only acceptable but encouraged.

This year, Blues Counsel was the core band with various guests including Peter Davyduck (warning: MySpace Link) and Newworldson.  I only managed to see about half of this before I had to leave but enjoyed every minute I was there.  I'll report on it more thoroughly for y'all next year.

Blues Counsel & Peter Davyduck
Jesus is Waiting

Blues Counsel & Newworldson
When Love Comes to Town

* my wife hates when I use the real phrase

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CMS 2010: Israel Houghton and Michael Gungor (Updated)

From the wouldn't-it-be-cool-to-be-at-this-guy's-church dept.

Next up at CMS was Israel Houghton featuring Michael Gungor. These guys love working together and you can tell from the results. You can also tell the sound guys loved them - perhaps a little too much. I put in earplugs at one point and it was clear that the distortion I was hearing was because the speakers being driven way beyond their limits. I was just waiting for the speakers to explode in a Hollywood-esque shower of sparks (you can hear it clearly in the videos below).

Israel also gave a great message about compassion for the less fortunate and how it is incumbent on us to help. It is a sheep and goats message not heard often enough in this politicized, personal-rights-espousing, what's-mine-is-mine cult that many of us claim as Christianity. He did a great song in that vein (which I didn't manage to catch) talking about how we ignore the sick and starving while complaining loudly about trivial minuta that inconveniences our daily lives. If anyone knows the song that I'm talking about, please mention it in the comments. I would love to include a reference to it. [update] User hamilton512 was nice enough to provide the name of the song - Love Revolution. I've included a shakycam video of the song below the fold.

Israel Houghton featuring Michael Gungor
Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So

Israel Houghton featuring Michael Gungor
Mighty to Save (beginning cut off)

One more bit of content below the break.

Monday, November 22, 2010

CMS 2010: Phil Keaggy

From the I-wish-I-could-be-this-good dept.

What can I say.  Phil Keaggy is just plain awesome.  He received the, "Roby Duke Creative Life Award" at this year's conference and rightly so.  There may be some controversy whether Jimi Hendrix called Phil the greatest guitar player in the world but we can set all controversy aside with my own words:

Phil Keaggy is the greatest guitar player in the world.

So without further ado, I give you Shades of Green and Salvation Army Band recorded at CMS Overlake 2010.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

CMS 2010: Brandon Bee & Blues Counsel

From the glass-is-half-empty dept.

Sorry all for the delay in getting things posted.  The next few articles are mostly videos, so they should come out in rapid-fire succession.

Friday afternoon at CMS had two musical interludes: a worship set with Brandon Bee and a concert with Blues Counsel.  Lets start with the worship set that wasn't.

Afternoon Worship with Brandon Bee

The main criteria of a worship set (in my reckoning) is that the crowd should be fully engaged in the music.  It not intended to be a concert where we sit back and enjoy the music.  Instead it should be much more like a big communal God-hug.  Brandon failed in that regard.

I can imagine that rabid Brandon Bee fans were tickled pink about the set, but considering that he's still quite unknown as an artist, that number is small.  Most of the songs he selected I had never heard of, and from the audience's reaction it seems they didn't know them either.  The words unfamiliar, the cadence unusual, the melodies unpredictable.  There wasn't a lot of singing-along going on.

Don't get me wrong in my critique here.  Brandon is a skilled performer, he just seems to have forgotten some of the basics of leading a worship session.

Afternoon Concert with Blues Counsel

If you like blues, you'll love Blues Counsel.  I'm annoyed that I managed to capture so little of them on my camera, and the bit I captured doesn't even show the good stuff.  These guys have more talent in the tip of their pinky fingers than I could ever hope to have.  The songs were engaging and I was honored just to be in the audience watching them.

I could go on and on about it but I don't think y'all are at all interested in my ramblings, so here's a better option.  A few posts in the future I'll have videos from the Late Night Groove Lounge where Blues Counsel perform along with Peter Davyduck and Newworldson.  That's the good stuff.

In the mean time, here's 18 seconds of of video I did manage to capture:

Below the fold: a couple of songs from Brandon Bee and Blues Counsel I found on YouTube.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CMS 2010: Workshop 3 - Ableton Live

From the what-I've-got-is-good-enough dept.

Workshop #3: Easy Click Tracks, Loops and Music Software: Ableton Live Training by Mitch Bohannon


I went to this class for the following reasons:
  1. They were giving away copies of Ableton Live.
  2. To evaluate Ableton Suite as a replacement for Logic Studio.
  3. I might actually learn something.
In baseball terms, a .333 batting average is quite good. In workshop terms it's pretty bad.  To start, the free copies of Ableton turned out to be a drawing for one copy and, as usual, I didn't win.  As for Ableton being a replacement for Logic Studio - not really.  At least I learned something.

Mitch did a good demo, showing how to layers tracks and put together songs for live performances.  He starts with a simple click track.  Next he adds a quickly played scratch track - usually himself singing along with an acoustic guitar.  That track is only used for reference while building out the song but never makes it into the final mix.

After that, add drums, guitars, keys, vocals, etc.  Finally, he added a track of vocal queues for the band members. When it comes time for the performance he only plays the tracks for whatever band members are missing and pushes the click and vocal queues to the in-ear monitors.

It makes a lot of sense.  Most churches don't have a huge talent pool to draw from and on those weeks where you can't find a drummer, keyboard players, etc., it certainly helps to fill things in.  He even showed how to tag portions of the song as bridges, verses, choruses, etc. and assign them shortcuts to keys on the computer or MIDI devices like foot pedals allowing him to change the arrangement on the fly.

I'm not a big fan of playing along with a track, even if it is more dynamic than a straight-up recording, but what he taught can be well translated to recorded music as well.

Here's the other thing I learned.  My copy of Logic Studio, in spite if it's user-unfriendliness and obtusity, is about as good as it gets.  It's not that Ableton Suite isn't good - it's just more of the same.  Just another pro audio software suite with its own flavor of obtusity and unfriendliness.  It's certainly not worth paying $800 for Ableton when I already spent $500 on Logic.


Mitch just posted this video on his YouTube channel covering the topics from the workshop:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CMS 2010: Mics and Mixers; Workshops 1 & 2

Does this look like a billion people to you?
I think I may have had a Glenn Beck moment
From the ministry of being-totally-unprepared.

Opening Session

Friday was the first day of CMS.  There had to be at least a billion people in attendance.  The opening session had good music and a decent message.  I'd tell you more, but I forgot to take notes and managed only one picture because I forgot to charge my camera battery.

Workshop #1: Fundamentals of Microphones and Applications with Steve Savanyu

I originally was planning to go to Guitar as a Voice with Chrissy Shefts (warning: MySpace link) but left the class after about 5 minutes.  The room was packed, but they only had enough chairs to fill half of it and I had no desire to stand for an hour.  I like sessions that move fast and are dense with information.  This one seemed more like a, "talking about my life experiences" kind of a deal, so I moved to on to my second choice.  That was a good call.

The class I ended up in was Fundamentals of Microphones and Applications with Steve Savanyu, a rep. with Audio-Technica.

The workshop covered fundamentals every sound tech ought to know about microphones: microphone technologies, how to read polar pattern and frequency response charts, and the applications each microphone is good for. I've asked Steve for permission to post the PDF of the presentation hear and am still waiting to hear back from him.  Y'all will want to take a look at it when I get it posted - there's lots of great information in there.

Workshop #2: N/A

I skipped out on the second workshop.  I found nothing really compelling on the schedule, so instead I decided to peruse the presenter's floor and talk to some of the reps.

Our church is building a new, though modest, sanctuary and I have been placed as the head of the A/V committee - God help their souls.  Part of the project is to replace our old sound system with a brand-spanking new one.

The system I was gravitating toward is the Roland M-400, but after talking to the Roland rep he convinced me to scale down that plan.  He downsold me to the 32 channel M-300 instead.  You heard that right, he actually convinced me that the best product for our application was something other than their top-of-the line product!  That's just awesome!  Not the usual behavior you'd expect from a sales guy.

When all is said and done it looks like we're going to get a 32 channel system with digital snakes and five personal mixers well inside our modest budget.  I have yet to get the quote from our reseller on the final price, but it's looking promising.

Coming up in tomorrow's post:

  • Workshop #3: Click Tracks, Loops & Sequencing with Ableton Live
  • Brandon Bee, the Blues Counsel and 18 seconds of actual video! (yes, my camera battery was still dead)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

CMS 2010: Content Coming Soon

From the way-too-few-details dept.

I just spent the last couple of days at CMS Overlake and it was a lot of fun. It was two solid days of end-to-end 'stuff' and I'm both exhausted and sleep deprived.

To sum it up: there was a lot of good, a little bad and some just plain weird. I have 21 GB of content to filter through including pics, concert footage and an interview with Keith Mohr of

There were many opportunities to talk with presenters, attendees and artists about Creative Commons and almost nobody knew anything about it. Even worse, most had not even heard of it. A very sad situation.

If you read that last paragraph carefully, you might notice that I said, "almost." The last person I talked on the last day as I was heading out to my car not only heard of it but was, dare I say, "excited" to talk about it.

I won't give away the details about that conversation just yet, but I'll give you a hint with the pic on the right.

Over the next week (or so) I'll be putting up posts here detailing my experiences.

See my photos of moderately well known people
Watch poor quality concert videos
Hear my not-ready-for-radio voice talking to industry insiders

Much fun to come!

Monday, November 8, 2010

But I Have Every Right to Steal Your Content!

From the Not-Exactly-About-Music dept.

You never know where you'll find discussions about IP rights nowadays but if the guys over at Woot are talking about it, you know it's going to be funny.

A few days ago they posted this blog entry about how the editors over at Cook's Source magazine reposted an article by Monica Gaudio without any compensation, notification, attribution, etc.

From the article:

[... Monica] wrote to the editor asking for an apology and a $130 donation to the Columbia School of Journalism. Here's what world-class bonehead idiot Judith Griggs, editor of Cooks Source, had to say in response:

"...honestly Monica, the web is considered 'public domain' and you should be happy we just didn't 'lift' your whole article and put someone else's name on it!... If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain... We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me!"

I know this doesn't really relate to music but to see such a completely perverse interpretation of public domain is at the same time both sad and wonderfully hilarious.

Read the whole story over at the Woot blog.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fun at CMS

This weekend I'll be attending my 4th CMS here in Seattle.  In past years my workshops selection focused on guitar & bass skills, but forsooth, many of the classes are ones that I have already attended.  So to better amuse and entertain myself I have come up with a cunning plan.

Instead of my usual fare, I will take a little diversion to attend workshops in the, "Songs & Indie Artists" category.  You may ask, "Why would you do that?"  Well, just take a look at titles for some workshops in that category:

The New Music Indie-Stry
[...] Learn [...] about the vital role indie music plays in the music scene.

Top Tips for Indie Artist Success
Learn [...] what it takes to make it as an indie artist.

How to Get Rich and Famous in Christian Music
[ed. note: I REALLY hope that's tongue-in-cheek]

Writer to Publisher - It’s a two way street ...
[...] A workshop discussing the role and relationship of writers and publishers. Learn the steps a writer needs to take to connect with a publisher. Discover the types of writers publishers are actively seeking. This is also a great opportunity to learn how writers and publishers work together for success. After a song is written, how does this team deliver music to the public? It’s a partnership.

Music Publishing 101
This workshop will provide a general overview of how music publishing works. Definition of publishing terms such as statutory mechanical rate, a single song agreement, co-publishing, administration, performing rights organizations, song plugging. We will describe sources of income for songwriters and how to get paid when someone uses your song. We will discuss what a publisher does, when you need a publisher, the best way to build a relationship with a publisher and how to be your own publisher.
(names redacted to stop me from being too snide :)

Workshops run by licensing agents and agencies - what a great place to spread the word about Creative Commons!  I wonder what they'll say about a business model which seriously challenges the foundations of theirs?  This will be wonderful fun.

I'm a bit rusty on my terminology so to avoid making too much of a fool of myself, this week's assignment is to read up on coolio things like CwF RtBdisruptive innovation in the music industry and the economics of scarce and free goods.

Barring being arrested, I'll report back on the good and the bad next week.