I don’t usually participate in the Music Monday Meme, but I thought on this Memorial Day, I’d provide a few videos remembering those who have given so much for our country
Christmas in the Trenches Music Video
The Fureys - Green Fields of France - WW1 Memorial
and the band played waltzing matilda 2007
I remember, years ago, proudly playing my bit parts in high school theatre productions. Our town didn’t have a daily paper but the neighboring town did, and inevitably as we prepared for our second performance, someone would rush in with the paper’s review of our play. The stars would be elated or devastated by the reviews and bit part actors like myself would feel ignored and unnoticed.
It is with these memories in mind that I offer up my review of Amity High School’s production of Rent. It is not an objective unbiased review. It is strongly influenced by my youthful memories, and even if the show was not as spectacular as it was, I would probably still feel compelled to praise it. But Amity’s production of Rent deserves no false praise. Instead, it has earned every word of praise it receives, and then some. Likewise, the actors and actresses shouldn’t be relying on any local reviews of their performances. They should all know that they have done a stellar job and should be elated.
I have to start off by applauding the theatre department for tackling Rent. It is a great play, and given all that is going on in our country as we deal with a difficult economy and problems with our health care system, we need more schools putting on challenging productions like this.
I have tons of personal reactions to the production, which I’ll save for a different blog post. Instead, let’s look at the production. Ethan Sachs and John Jorge, as Mark Cohen and Roger Davis, a young musician and a young filmmaker living in New York City’s Lower East Side, gave great performances that established a solid foundation and steady tempo for the whole play.
This provided a wonderful platform for some outstanding performances, such as Richie Lucibello’s rendition of the drag queen Angel Schunard, and Amanda Robles characterization of Mimi Marquez, the other lead character that dies of AIDS in the play.
Connor Deane, Melissa Vernick, Marla Morris and Ken Adair rounded out the group of young bohemians and their friends quite nicely.
Even if you don’t know the musical, you may know one of the songs from it, “Seasons of Love”, which starts “Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes” and asks “how you measure a year in the life”?
As we look at large numbers, whether it be the trillions being spent on revitalizing our economy, or the half million minutes in a year, it is useful to break them down into small management amounts, like $15 for a ticket to a great musical and the 120 minutes to watch it.
The first two performance of Rent at Amity High School sold out. There are three more performances and you can buy tickets online.
Could virtual worlds become a new platform of choice for musicians? If Darryl McDaniels (DMC) is successful, it will be. Later this month, he will be launching DMC World, a virtual world running on the Worlds.com platform. He was at Engage! Expo along with Thom Kidrin, President and CEO of Worlds.com, to talk about what their new world might be like. One person who viewed it summarized it saying, “This is Club Penguin for Hip Hop”. That’s a cute summary, but I suspect it could be much more than that if they do it right.
The Worlds.com platform is highly scalable and one goal is to be able to have concerts in DMC world. Fortunate musicians might also get the opportunity to jam with him online. Yet what is perhaps more interesting is that DMC hopes to sell not only his own music there, but the music of emerging artists that catch his interest as well.
There are already good venues for buying music online, from iTunes to Snocap. You can find new artists on sites like MySpace. DMC World could take this to a new level.
Will DMC World have what it takes to succeed? There are various issues that need to be addressed. The client is a relatively small download, compared to the size of other virtual world downloads. Yet it is still a download and not yet browser based. On top of that, currently, it only runs on Windows. A MAC version is expected in about six months. It should have many of the other features that Second Life users have come to expect such as the ability to build, as well potentially the ability to upload and download content. Worlds.com is also part of the virtual worlds interoperability committee, so progress on that front will hopefully make its way into DMC world as well.
Additional features that are in the works include a port to mobile platforms and the ability to chat from DMC world to phones. All of this presents a further challenge to the existing models of music distribution. In essence, each artist has the opportunity to become their own technologically savvy micro-label, facilitated by DMC World. Will it be successful? Time will tell.
Every year we go to the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. We camp for several days and listen to folk music. It takes place in the summer, and it seems like inevitably there are rainstorms. After attending the festival for many years, the events all run together, but there are certain events that stand out.
For example, there was the year that I was going through my divorce. Mairead was probably about nine. She loved dancing at the dance tent. Generally speaking Falcon Ridge is a pretty friendly place and I felt comfortable letting her go off on her own to dance while Miranda and I went to listen to a set at the workshop stage.
During the set, came the announcement that every parent fears. Those fears are compounded if you are in the middle of divorce negotiations about who gets custody of the children in what circumstances. “Would the parents of Mairead Hynes, please report to the medical tent?”
Here, things become a little bit blurry. Did I take Miranda with me? Did I get her to stay with a friend while I ran to the tent? I don’t recall that detail, but Miranda might. What I do remember is that Mairead had been dancing barefoot on the raw plywood floors of the dance stage, and had gotten a horrible sliver. They were working on ways of getting the sliver out. They wanted to use a local anesthetic to numb her foot and they needed my permission. They also hoped that I might be able to calm her down.
In the end, there was a nurse that had a pet ferret or two, again the details are a bit blurry at this point. The ferrets kept Mairead occupied as the medical staff managed to get the sliver out. Later, we ended up getting ferrets as pets.
This has almost nothing to do with Red Molly, and just about everything to do with Red Molly. You see, Red Molly is a band that started at Falcon Ridge five years later. At the campsites, musicians get together and start making music. Three women ended up forming a band one-night singing together at the campsite.
The next day, there was one of those Falcon Ridge rainstorms, and I was riding out the storm under the dance tent. Was Mairead back on the dance floor? Perhaps barefoot again, risking another splinter? The details are blurry. Where were Kim and Fiona? I think they may have gone up to the tent, to get some food, or perhaps for Fiona to take a nap. Fiona would have been about two and a half at the time. I’m pretty sure it was the day after they had first started playing together, but things are blurry.
Maybe it was the following year, when they had their EP out. I do remember getting their EP and Kim asking who they were. Whenever I first heard them, I was struck by how good they were. In 2006 they came back and were the top vote getters on the Emerging Artist Showcase. We picked up their CDs and they ended up becoming one of Fiona’s favorite bands.
When we heard they were going to be doing a free concert at the Ridgefield Public Library, we had to go. We didn’t tell Fiona who the band was going to be until we got there. Tickets were supposed to become available at 1, the doors were to open at 1:30 and the show was to start at 2:00
We got there at about one and already the line was thirty or forty people long. We weren’t sure how many seats there were in the library room, so we waited hopefully in line. Finally a woman came along handing out tickets, and we got ours. I ran over to get hotdogs from the hotdog cart in Ridgefield. Kim had often read about the hotdog cart and wanted one of their dogs. They were very good.
Finally, the line started moving. We walked past a sign that had been put out announcing that the event was full and we were grateful that we had gotten tickets. Inside the room was already mostly full, except for a couple rows of reserved seats in the front. We sat fairly far back and Fiona grumbled. Then, they announced that children could sit on the floor in the front. Fiona went you, with a little coaxing from Kim. Next, a woman told us that two of the seats in the second row were available, since the people whom they had been reserved for didn’t show up. So, we had great seats and Fiona was front and center on the floor.
They started off with a wonderful a cappella song which I hadn’t heard before. Then, there second song, again, if I remember properly, was Summertime. Summertime is a song written by Carolann Solebello, which reached #1 on the Folk DJ Charts.
“In the middle of a field, in the middle of Kansas, in the middle of the summer on the Fourth of July. The wheat was waving. The day was waning. The stars were falling and the world was right. It was summertime and the living was easier back then.”
It is one of Fiona’s favorite songs, yet somehow, it seems like the lyrics ought to be, “In the middle of a field, in the middle of Hillsdale, in the middle of the summer at the end of July. The folks were singing. The day was waning. The stars were falling and the world was right. It was summertime and the living was easier back then.”
Well, Sunday wasn’t summertime. It was one of those first golden spring like days that Robert Frost spoke about in his poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay. Yet the gold did stay. The world was right for two hours as Red Molly sang. They ended off doing an encore singing the wonderful song by Susan Werner, “May I Suggest”.
“May I suggest? May I suggest to you? May I suggest this is the best part of your life? May I suggest? This time is blest for you.”
Well, it was a blessed event. If you get a chance, go hear Red Molly play. If not, at least pick up one of their CDs.
Barring any unexpected events, Thursday will complete another month of getting at least one blog post up every day of the month. The idea for this grew out of National Novel Writing Month. Various bloggers that wanted to make some sort of writing commitment but didn’t want to write a novel, so they created National Blog Posting Month. It grew and every month, bloggers commit to writing at least one blog post each day. Some hardcore people are even shooting for writing a blog post every day for a year.
Initially, I didn’t feel inclined to commit to this. My life is too uncertain, and I have so many other things going on. Yet, I have managed to make the goal, so far, every month this year. I had doubts about whether I would pull it off for July, since I was on vacation for a week, and then at a folk music festival for five days. However, using my cellphone, I’ve managed to get in a post every day.
How did I do it? Different people have been asking me about different ways of posting from cellphones, so I thought I would go into a little detail here. For blog posts to my blog, I send a picture to Flickr, with title and text attached. Yet I also send content a bunch of other ways, so I thought I would give you the full picture.
I like to send a mix of data. Not only do I send text messages, but I also take pictures and videos which I send as MMS messages and I leave voice messages on various audio sites.
My cellphone is a Motorola Razr V3xx, which allows me to have mailing lists for messages that I send out. It allows me to take 640x480 pictures and videos. The videos are limited to 17 seconds. I've added 2 gig memory card to it so I have more space for pictures, videos, as well as music that I've downloaded to it.
For text, I send my text messages to Facebook, Twitter, Utterz, and my wife Kim. When you set up an account with Twitter, you have an option of linking in your cellphone. When you do that, it sends a confirm message to your cellphone. Once you've confirmed, you can just send a text message from your cellphone to their special code, and it shows up on Twitter. Facebook and Utterz works pretty much in the same manner.
For pictures, I send them to Facebook, Flickr, Kim, Ringo and Utterz. Kim's message goes as a message straight to her cellphone. The others go via email. When you set up mobile accounts at Facebook, Flickr, Ringo or Utterz, they give you an email address you can send pictures to. The pictures are typically posted immediately, or almost immediately. If you add text after the picture, that goes into the description. You can set the title by entering the subject in the sending options.
Typically, I don’t bother with a description or title because I want to get pictures uploaded and pay more attention to the event. However in some cases, I would take a picture and then save it to send to a special Flickr account that is set up to automatically cross post to this blog.
It is basically the same process for videos. I send my videos to Blip.tv, Facebook, Kim, Utterz, and Youtube. They often take a bit longer to process.
Then, I tie a lot of this together with various other linking. For example, there is an application to tie together messages on Twitter to messages on Facebook, so, I could omit Facebook, and my messages would eventually show up there. However, I send it to both places to cut out some of the lag between different sites.
Likewise, I subscribe to both Twitter and Facebook from FriendFeed, although I rarely post anything directly to FriendFeed, with the exception of commenting on other people's feeds.
Now that I’ve been home for a while, I’ve had a chance to go in and add descriptions, titles, tags, and format the posts better.
For sending audio, I’ve mostly been using Utterz. It is good for messages that I speak into the cellphone, but doesn’t do well at picking up music in the background. Utterz has the ability to cross post as well, though I rarely use it.
Now that I’m home, I’ve uploaded pictures and videos from my camera to my computer. I have a Canon SD 1000 with an 8 gig memory card in it. I can store about an hour of high quality video or thousands of high resolution pictures. I typically take a lot of pictures and then select the ones I like best to upload to Flickr. The videos I run through Movie Maker to compress down to a more manageable size. You can see several of these videos on blip.tv, or on various places, like this blog and MySpace which blip.tv cross posts to.
I also have a Panasonic GV-39 camcorder, if I want to record more longer videos. However, now that I have the 8 gig card in my regular camera, I use the camcorder less and less.
To get a sense of what I did at Falcon Ridge, check out the music section of this blog, my Twitter account, my Flickr photos, my Blip TV and YouTube videos and my Utterz. Also, check out my FriendFeed which aggregates many of these sources.
One problem with posting content like this from the cellphone is that you don’t see many of the comments that people make until you get back online. However, you can build a wonderful view of a festival by using these tools.