Saturday video break: Literally!

The 80s is a gift that keeps on giving.

Go here to see more of this silliness under the Related Videos. Happy Saturday!

05/30/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: Get your game on

Next on the theme list: Songs about sports.

1. HOOPS Yes! (FC Dallas) - The Polyphonic Spree
2. The Stock Car Travels By Illusion - Austin Lounge Lizards
3. Centerfield - John Fogerty
4. Galway Farmer - Ceili's Muse
5. Catchers Drummers Anchormen - Eddie from Ohio
6. Sweet Georgia Brown - The Ray Brown Trio
7. Glory Days - Bruce Springsteen
8. Chess - Andersson/Ulvaeus
9. Surf's Up - The Beach Boys
10. Fight Fiercely, Harvard - Tom Lehrer

Yes, chess is a sport - it's a mind sport. So's bridge, but no one's written a musical about it yet. "Galway Farmer" is about a guy betting on a horse he'd dreamed about. We should all be as lucky as he was. Technically, "Sweet Georgia Brown" isn't about sports, but it's the theme song of the Harlem Globetrotters, so I say it's close enough. There's a whole class of stadium songs that could be admitted under a sufficiently loose definition of the theme, but I wasn't going to go there. What's on your playlist this week?

05/29/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: The state you're in

Gonna switch gears here for a couple of Fridays and do some themed lists. I was inspired to put a few of these together back when I did the spring songs and good songs lists, and I'm finally getting around to posting them now. First up is State Songs, ten songs about states:

1. New York State of Mind - Billy Joel
2. Stupid Texas Song - Austin Lounge Lizards
3. Garden State Stomp - Dave van Ronk
4. North Dakota - Lyle Lovett
5. Old Dominion - Eddie From Ohio
6. California Here I Come - Shorty Long
7. Massachusettes - Greg Greenaway
8. Carolina In My Mind - James Taylor
9. Georgia On My Mind - Ray Charles
10. There's A Panther In Michigan - Trout Fishing In America

I could have included more Texas songs, but I figured geographical diversity was in order here. What's on your playlist for this holiday weekend?

05/22/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Threatened by opera

I don't normally think of opera as being particularly controversial or threatening, at least not in this day and age, but apparently it can be.

The organizers of the second annual Opera Vista Festival suspected one of their featured operas would draw controversy. But when an anonymous letter threatening the founders of the Nova Arts Project arrived at founding director Amy Hopper's doorstep, she realized the show had potential to ignite a firestorm.

"We received this letter that was all about ignorance and hate, and that's the whole point of this opera -- to confront ignorance and hate. It makes it even more important to tell the story," Hopper said.

The opera is "Edalat Square," one of two works that won Opera Vista's inaugural festival competition in 2007 (think "American Idol" for opera composers). Written by Atlanta-based composer R. Timothy Brady, the opera recounts the true story of Mahmoud Asgari, 17, and Ayaz Marhoni, 16, who were hanged in Iran in 2005 for the crime of lavaat, or sex between two men. Brady was inspired by the story to craft a poetic work that offers an unblinking look at bigotry, but is also prayerful and mystical, said Viswa Subbaraman, artistic director and co-founder of Opera Vista.


On May 5, Amy Hopper found out the show was already pushing buttons here in Houston. She opened her mailbox to discover a hand-stenciled, anonymous letter that said: "You are pigs to mix Islam with gays. You must stop! We will not let you do it."

The festival's organizers actually are glad the opera could spark debate or criticism. That's part of the purpose of the performing arts -- to provoke discussion and ignite the emotions, they said.

Well, they did succeed at that. Click the link above to see a photo of the letter, and consider supporting Opera Vista, which makes me glad to know that there's still a lot of life in that art form. You can learn more about the 2009 Opera Vista Festival, and buy tickets for any of the shows, here. Thanks to Joe White for the tip.

05/17/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Couldn't stand getting metaphysical

Time for your weekly dose of random music. Ready, set...

1. Banish Misfourtune/Rabbit's Moon - Paisley Close
2. My Manda - The Mollys
3. Couldn't Stand The Weather - Stevie Ray Vaughan
4. Let's Get Metaphysical - David Gilmour
5. What Are You At? - Great Big Sea
6. Something So Right - Paul Simon
7. I Gotcha - Joe Tex
8. Her Modesty - Trish & Darin
9. Variations on a Theme by Eric Satie - Blood, Sweat, and Tears
10. Sometimes A River - String Cheese Incident

Today is an exciting day at our house, as Olivia's preschool has its gradution ceremony/party for the kids and their parents. Olivia's been telling us for weeks about the music they've been rehearsing for it. I'm about to find out just what's in store for us. She'll continue to be at the school through the summer, but will be saying good-bye to some friends now and many more in a couple of months as most of them will be going to other schools for kindergarten. She's eager to move up, but I know she'll miss her friends, and hasn't realized what that means yet. It's going to be an eventful year, that's for sure. None of this has anything to do with music, of course, but it is the backdrop for today. What are you listening to?

05/15/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Faking it convincingly

I totally relate to this.

For classical-music fans, nothing ruins a good story about a violist beating the odds, or love in the woodwind section, quicker than musical fouls.

So the moment in The Soloist when Jamie Foxx picks up a cello for the first time is a delicate one for the classical-music buff. Not only does Foxx have to convey joy, loss and redemption, he has to look like he can tell the bridge from the fingerboard.

Does he?

"He was very convincing," said Norman Fischer, cello professor at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, a premier Texas music program. "To do what he was doing was very impressive."

"String playing is a very hard thing to really do," Fischer added.

I know next to nothing about playing a stringed instrument, but having played the saxophone for 30 years, I'm very critical of any attempt by a non-musician actor to "play" a sax, or really any wind instrument. It's easy for me to spot faking - the position of the instrument on or in the mouth, the way they breathe, the way their fingers move with the sounds they're supposed to be making (arms in the case of a trombonist) - there are many ways to get it wrong, and it's a distraction once I see any of them. Faking it in a convincing manner is a hard thing to do, and I respect anyone who can do it.

05/11/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Now with more randomness

Back to the well we go with ten more songs taken from the Every Song I've Got In iTunes pile.

1. The Boxer - Simon and Garfunkel
2. Guinness Dog - The Rogues
3. Take The "A" Train - Joe Henderson
4. Warmer Place to Sleep - John Mellencamp
5. Cakewalk - Asylum Street Spankers
6. Free as a Bird - The Beatles
7. The Mountain - Heartless Bastards
8. Cotton Club Stomp #1 - from the soundtrack to "The Cotton Club"
9. 11 Easy Steps - Trout Fishing in America
10. Come On (Part III) - Stevie Ray Vaughan

That's "Free as a Bird", not Freebird, which I think would have required a time machine to have been performed by the Fab Four. Which would have been awesome, but I'll leave it to the philosophers to debate. What are you listening to this week?

05/08/09 | permalink | comments [0]

"Quality Rock"

In case you've ever wondered what "classic rock" will be called when the format is updated to include stuff recorded after Ronald Reagan left office, here's your answer: Quality rock.

KDBN/93.3 FM, which had aired the classic-rock "Bone" format for more than seven years, underwent a format change Monday to "93.3 FM Quality Rock." The new format sounds like a mash-up of adult-album alternative and classic-alternative formats, with familiar tracks by acts such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Train, Counting Crows and Eric Clapton, and occasional sprinklings of less-familiar artists such as Gomez and nonwarhorse songs by the likes of Everclear, Barenaked Ladies and Beck.

The format flip followed a weekend stunt during which 93.3 played nothing but music by the Dave Matthews Band from Friday evening till 5 a.m. Monday. Dallas-Fort Worth radio fans with medium-range memories might recall that before "The Bone" launched in January 2002, the station played similar material first as "The Zone" and then as "Merge Radio."

But Jeff Catlin, the operations manager for KDBN and other Cumulus Media Dallas-Fort Worth stations, says there is a key difference between "Quality Radio" and the earlier 93.3 formats.

"The two main differences between FM 93.3 and any other station on the frequency in the past (Zone, Merge especially) is that we will be playing familiar songs and artists," Catlin said via e-mail. "All the way from classic hits and classic alternative, through the '80s and '90s up through currents from the likes of U2, Coldplay and Radiohead." The new format even dug into the '70s, with Van Morrison's 1970 hit Domino.

Not exactly a radical change, and I'm sure after a little shaking out the playlist will shrink down to the usual 500 songs or so. As I've noted before, that may sound like a lot, but it really isn't. Go ahead and create a 500 song playlist on your iPod, then listen to only that on shuffle and see how long it takes you to get tired of it. Look at it this way: At 45 minutes of music per hour for a commercial radio station, and 4 minutes per song, it would take two days to go through their entire catalog.

Anyway. I imagine the main difference will likely be the retirement of some 70s-era warhorses, to be replaced by a selection of approved songs and artists from the 90s. In commercial radio, this counts as innovation. Link via Mike McGuff, who notes that this may be coming our way to the Cumulus-owned 103.7, formerly known as Jack FM.

05/03/09 | permalink | comments [3]

Saturday video break

Because even mad scientists need love:

Happy Saturday!

05/02/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: The whole enchilada

Finally, a Random Ten based on a shuffle of every song in the collection, not just a slimmed-down-to-fit-on-a-Mini playlist. What will the new much-bigger-than-a-Mini Touch give us?

1. The Mosstrooper's Lament - SixMileBridge
2. Jim Malcolm - Losin' Auld Reekie
3. Steamsville - Trinity University Jazz Band
4. Jim and Jack - Carolyn Wonderland & The Imperial Monkeys
5. Gobbledigook - Sigur Ros
6. The Star Spangled Banner - Eddie from Ohio
7. Split Decision - Steve Winwood
8. Be Bop I Love You - The Bobs
9. Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye - Ceili's Muse
10. Worlds Apart - Bruce Springsteen

I should add that the song that came on next was "The Will", by Maggie Drennon, who was the lead singer for both SixMileBridge and Ceili's Muse. I think the new Touch is trying to tell me something. What's your iPod telling you this week?

05/01/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: If at first you don't secede...

04/24/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: When the going gets tough, the tough download some free tunes

04/17/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: Good songs

04/10/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: Once more to the well

04/03/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten, Hawaiian style

03/27/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Life is skittles and life is beer

03/20/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Your weekend moment of Zen

03/14/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: Special guest star edition

03/13/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: You say "70s throwback" as if it were a bad thing

03/06/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: The eighties strike back

02/27/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Friday random ten: You say it's your birthday

02/20/09 | permalink | comments [3]

Friday random ten: Beginning to see the light

02/13/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: Flight of the Genius

02/06/09 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Still more new music

01/30/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Friday random ten: We the people

01/23/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: New music, take two

01/16/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Bye-bye, DRM

01/12/09 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: New year, new music

01/09/09 | permalink | comments [2]

Friday random ten: My sister's list

01/02/09 | permalink | comments [3]

Seeking iTunes help again

12/29/08 | permalink | comments [11]

Friday random ten: Sleigh bells ring

12/26/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Karaoke!

12/19/08 | permalink

Friday random ten: Let's get groovy

12/12/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: No Genius for you!

12/05/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: A little jazzy, but not too much

11/28/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten - TGIF

11/21/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Don't cross the streams, but do cross the genres

11/07/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: And now a short break from politics

10/31/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Putting it all together

10/24/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: That's more like it

10/17/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Blues Genius

10/10/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Friday random ten: How station managers do it these days

10/03/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Genius!

09/26/08 | permalink | comments [0]

RIP, Cary Winscott

09/19/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Houston: Hot or not for college grads?

07/14/08 | permalink | comments [3]

It means "Suave and Debonair"

06/29/08 | permalink | comments [0]

"I got a leather from my Fred"

06/27/08 | permalink | comments [4]

Fight for Rice, Rice fight on...

06/25/08 | permalink | comments [1]

RIP, Bo Diddley

06/02/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Robinson versus Peveto, the continuing story

05/15/08 | permalink | comments [0]

"Kuff and the Buttheads"

05/02/08 | permalink | comments [3]

RIP, Danny Federici

04/18/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Live in concert

04/18/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Top 100 novelty songs

04/17/08 | permalink | comments [1]


04/15/08 | permalink | comments [6]

Oh Danny Boy, you can come back now

04/09/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: Genealogy time

04/04/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: Why are there so many songs about rainbows?

03/28/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Pearland attacks

03/14/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Oh Danny Boy, please go away

03/10/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: Post-primocalyptic edition

03/07/08 | permalink | comments [4]

Friday random ten: Post-primocalyptic edition

03/07/08 | permalink | comments [4]

The death of radio, part 572

02/28/08 | permalink | comments [4]

Friday random ten: Debate this!

02/22/08 | permalink | comments [3]

Friday random ten: Super Friday!

02/08/08 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: Actual randomness!

02/01/08 | permalink | comments [3]

Friday random ten: Same name, different song

01/25/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Friday random ten: Three times a cover

01/18/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: Cover-two

01/11/08 | permalink | comments [2]

Friday random ten: Cover me

01/04/08 | permalink | comments [6]

How I spent (most of) my iTunes money

01/01/08 | permalink | comments [1]

Help me spend some money at the iTunes store

12/28/07 | permalink | comments [9]

As always, Merry Christmas, Mel Torme

12/24/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Not silent enough night

12/23/07 | permalink | comments [5]

Not silent enough night

12/23/07 | permalink | comments [5]

Reports on the effects of the smoking ban

12/02/07 | permalink | comments [4]

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling...again and again

11/30/07 | permalink | comments [0]

The Lizards and Consumers Union team up again

11/24/07 | permalink | comments [0]


11/23/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Less local, more national

11/08/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Cactus Records resurrected

11/06/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Sing for the cure

10/14/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Jack comes to the radio dial

09/04/07 | permalink | comments [4]

"National Brotherhood Week"

08/27/07 | permalink | comments [0]

iPod noise pollution

08/06/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Walton and Johnson move to 950 AM

08/02/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Talk radio changes coming

07/23/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Don't stop downloadin'

06/21/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random music question

06/01/07 | permalink | comments [4]

CD Death Watch: One more Christmas

05/30/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Selling out

05/21/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Digital singles

05/18/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Talking 'bout my generation

05/14/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: The group participation edition

04/27/07 | permalink | comments [3]

Spinal Tap!

04/26/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Monday random thirty

04/23/07 | permalink | comments [2]

Friday random ten: The other side of the CD shelf

04/20/07 | permalink | comments [1]

Friday random ten: The "Better Late Than Never" edition

03/31/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random ten: The next playlist

03/23/07 | permalink | comments [2]

A radio blast from the past

03/06/07 | permalink | comments [0]

A radio blast from the past

03/06/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Friday random eleven

03/02/07 | permalink | comments [0]

Salvaging my lost music

02/28/07 | permalink | comments [11]

Friday random ten

02/16/07 | permalink | comments [3]

"Pancake Mountain"

01/12/07 | permalink | comments [0]

A few things about my iPod

01/11/07 | permalink | comments [14]

Kids' music

01/10/07 | permalink | comments [5]

CD death watch: Car stereos

01/08/07 | permalink | comments [2]