Posted by Billyjam, January 20, 2010 01:00pm | Post a Comment

Shing02's NAMM 2010 report (Video Version)

The winter NAMM is an international music products event held annually at the Anaheim Convention Center. The event showcases thousands of exhibitors featuring new instruments and gadgets. Although it is not open to the general public without Vestax's president Mr. Nakamainvitation, tens of thousands gather from all over the world every January to check out the latest trends. Basically, the four-day experience is Guitar Center on 'roids, or, to be more appropriate, a Disneyland for music geeks (coincidentally, the real Disneyland is right across the street from the convention center).

I've been coming to the NAMM show for over ten years, both as an exhibitor (for Vestax) and as an attendee. Surely the main attractions are the new products by your favorite brands. You can forecast trends before they happen, as most exhibitors debut product lines at the show, and engineers on-site are eager to hear critical feedback from musicians. It's quite impressive when you observe the long process of how products are conceived, designed, and manufactured from innovative ideas. Equally motivational as far as getting people to show up at the trade show is the camaraderie factor. In this open and crazy atmosphere, you bump into many DJs and producers, so you can chop it up with them and trade contacts. Sometimes mega-stars (Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Bootsy Collins, Snoop Dogg, to name a few) come around and show face as well.

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Posted by Billyjam, January 19, 2010 08:56am | Post a Comment
Kate & Anna McGarrigle
The Canadian folk artist Kate McGarrigle, best known for her work with her sister Anna McGarrigle, died last night (Jan 18th) following a battle with a rare form of cancer. She was 63. Her musical career (songwriter/vocals/piano/guitar) began with sister Anna in the mid seventies. They recorded ten albums together. Additionally, she was also known to many as the mother of musicians Martha Wainwright and Rufus Wainwright from her marriage to musician Loudon Wainwright III. In fact, when reports that the artist was critically ill surfaced over the weekend, son Rufus reportedly canceled his tour of Australia and New Zealand, scheduled to begin in two weeks, to be by his mother's side. 

The McGarrigle Sisters debuted in 1976 with the critically acclaimed album Kate & Anna McGarrigle, which was even named "album of the year" by UK music magazine Melody Maker. Over the years tracks from the sisters' repertoire, which included songs such as "Heart Like a Wheel," "Goin' Back to Harlan," "Heartbeats Accelerating," "Talk to Me of Mendocino," and "On My Way to Town," have been covered by many artists, including Billy Bragg, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmylou Harris. Below is a video of the McGarrigle Sisters performing their beautiful song "Heart Like A Wheel" in 1990. And below that is an amateur video of Kate, Martha, and Rufus Wainwright all together onstage two years ago at Radio City Music Hall in NYC performing "Talk to Me of Mendocino." Rest in peace, Kate McGarrigle!

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Posted by Billyjam, January 18, 2010 06:01pm | Post a Comment

If you only go to one benefit concert event this year it should be one to benefit the unfortunate victims of the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti. And if you are in the Bay Area tonight there is such an event taking place. Rebound in downtown San Francisco tonight will be featuring none other than Rob Garza of Thievery Corporation fame, along with several local artists / DJs, including J-Boogie. The benefit starts at 7pm this evening (Monday, January 18th) at Vessel in San Francisco. The goal of the event is to raise as much money as possible for the World Food Programme to go directly to Haiti.

What is significant about this evening's appearance by Thievery Corp's Garza is that as a part of that popular group he is used to playing large venues (I saw them in a sold-out show at the Greek Theater in Berkeley two summers ago). But to do his part to benefit the Haitian earthquake victims, he has volunteered his time to play at an intimate SF venue. All the performers are also donating their time for this very worthy cause. Others on the bill tonight include J Bowman, Chris Clouse, Gordon Waze, and David Harness, who will not be DJing but instead will be the host of the evening. At 930pm Haiti quake survivor Angelo Viard is scheduled to speak.

Vessal is located at 85 Campton Place, San Francisco, CA 94108. More info here.


Posted by Billyjam, January 17, 2010 03:55pm | Post a Comment
Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" from The March On Washington (1963)

Above is the full version of the famous "I Have A Dream" speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from The March On Washington on August 28, 1963. And while in the 47 years since MLK made this historic Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.and moving speech things have definitely changed for the better and taken big strides towards racial equality in America (including of course Barack Obama becoming the first black President of the United States just a year ago), we still have not fully realized Dr. King's "dream." Specifically we have not  reached the part where he hoped aloud, "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." Or when he said, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" -- considering that racial profiling is still very much a reality by many police departments across this country.

But as MLK himself once noted, the road toward equality and change is usually an arduous one; one that takes time and calls for much patience and perseverance. And this year's Dr. Martin Luther King Day (observed Monday, Jan 18th) is a perfect time for each of us to stop and consider both how far we have come as a nation since The March On Washington, and what we can personally do to help create positive change toward reaching the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Posted by Billyjam, January 15, 2010 10:00am | Post a Comment

Luis at Amoeba Music San Francisco with HIp-Hop Top Ten

Amoeba Music San Francisco Weekly Hip-Hop Top Five Chart: 1:18:09

J. Stalin

1) J-Stalin Prenuptial Agreement (Town Thizzness/SMC/Fontana)

2) Blockhead The Music Scene (Ninja Tune)

3) The Grouch Three Eyes Off the Time (Legendary Music)

4) Slum Village Fan-Tas-Tic Vol. 1 (Barak Records)

5) BlakRoc Blakroc (V2/Cooperative)

6) DJ Drez Jahta Beat: A Path To Light (S.I.L. Music)

7) Snoop Dogg Malice N Wonderland (Priority)

8) The Clipse Til The Casket Drops (SONY)

 9) Souls Of Mischief Montezuma's Revenge (Clear)
10) Edan Echo Party (Traffic)

Luis' underground release of the week: 
Ya Boy Mohawks & Heavy Metal (self-released CD)

Special thanks to Luis at Amoeba Music San Francisco for this week's Hip-Hop Top Ten chart in both text and video versions (above). He also gives his "underground release of the week" pick, the mixtape CD Mohawks & Heavy Metal from San Francisco native Ya Boy, whose latest is the artist's 13th release (including mixtapes and official albums) since 2004. Coming next, sometime this Spring, from this rapper (born William Joseph Crawford, cousin to both San Quinn and Messy Marv), will be the mixtape CD The Fix 2. And speaking of prolific Bay Area hip-hop artists, West Oakland rapper J. Stalin is this week's number one with Prenuptial Agreement. The artist can count this latest as his 14th release (including mixtapes and official albums) since 2006. Some months ago as a tease/taste of the new official album, he released the mixtape CD Prenup: The Leak, which helped propel this official album on Town Thizzness Entertainment (a sub-division of the late great Mac Dre's Thizz Entertainment) via SMC/Fontana to number one this week. Below in the series of videos (many slide shows or stills with music) is a sample from the new album -- the song "Self Made Millionaire" that features L'Jay, Lil Retro, and Lil Blood.

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