Saturday, March 05, 2011

Vinyl is making a comeback (story #251)

Never gets old... latest installment from News Herald in Northern Ohio.
Vinyl records are spinning back around and gaining popularity.

Greg Beaumont, the owner of Record Den in Mentor for 38 years says he’s pleasantly surprised vinyl records are big once again... Vinyl is now 15 percent of Beaumont’s business and growing.

"If you would have told me vinyl would have made this big of a comeback 20 years ago, I would have said, ‘Yeah right, so will 8-tracks,’ ” he says. “The younger generation is very interested in it, and that seems to be fueling it.”

Nathan Tramte, a 20-year-old Painesville resident, says he got hooked on vinyl three months ago when someone at a skate store had him listen to a 45 rpm record. Tramte liked the experience so much, he immediately went out and bought a record player for $20 at a thrift store.

Such errors are rare... yeah right

Poynton Tce mural before Council painted over it

Vankansan bar owner John Brunton by the site of former mural. Photo: Jason Oxenham

Contractors paint over mural. From the front page of the Auckland City Harbour News.

This same story also featured in The Central Leader, but with one additional line of text at the end of the story. We'll get to that in a minute. Some excerpts from the article...

"When is graffiti art?

It's a question the Auckland Council struggled to answer after its contractors painted over a popular mural that was in place for more than a decade on Poynton Tce, near Karangahape Rd.
The mural was on the side of the Vansankan karaoke bar and was developed by artists over the years.

Bar owner John Brunton was shocked to find it gone early last week even though it had his and the building owner's permission to be there.

"It was a little bit like the graffiti gestapo turned up. It was painted over during the day and the bar opens at 9pm," he says.

"We've had no communication with the council. It's amazing they can waste so much money painting over it and then have to paint it again."

The council's website says graffiti art, or bombing, is permitted if the building's owners give consent.

Mr Brunton says the mural was a popular spot for people to visit. "Over the last 12 months that we've owned the business, I've seen people standing outside there numerous times getting their photos taken....

... The K Rd Business Association has also been negatively affected after printing about 10,000 pamphlets highlighting art in the area with the mural on the front cover. The pamphlets were to be handed out during the Rugby World Cup.

"It's really obvious if the business association makes it the front page, the community feels quite strongly about it," precinct manager Barbara Holloway says. "I'm not sure what was going on."

... Council manager for community development and partnerships Kevin Marriott says painting over the mural was a genuine mistake. "The council is taking full responsibility to rectify the situation and install a new artwork as soon as possible," he says. "Council contractors mistakenly painted over this mural after a request by an Auckland Council anti-graffiti volunteer," Mr Marriott says.

[and the closing sentence that made the Central Leader but not The Harbour News?]

"Mr Marriott says such errors are rare and the council's partnership with volunteers working on graffiti removal programme has been successful."

Rare? Ah, no. Here's a few examples. I heard of another one today  - a few years back, when Michael Lett Gallery was on the corner of Krd and Edinburgh st, they had an exhibition where the artist had work inside the a gallery, and also outside, on the wall. The artist had painted a piece that resembled a graffiti tag in his own style, and which was part of the exhibition, and was painted with permission of the owner. The Council painted it out.

The Council spends $5-6 million a year on graffiti eradication. Education would seem a better long-term option, surely. The Council's report on graffiti vandalism (see pdf at bottom of link) for the Community Safety Forum is 28 pages long, and devotes a mere 3 pages to education and prevention - it also notes that initiatives targeted at youth, while they are worth pursuing, "... are time consuming, requiring appropriate superivision and resourcing". In other words, too expensive, compared to hiring painting contractors. The rest of the report focuses on actions that essentially criminalise young people.

Also some education of Council's own staff on what is tagging and what is art would be useful. Here's an example why this might be cost effective.

A mate of mine, Greg, told me this story via Facebook.

"I was once signwriting a white ply hoarding down the bottom of town, y'know, old-school brush, stick, can of paint, middle of the day, wearing white overalls, all properly coned off with warning tape etc, when a council graffiti officer told me I might as well stop now cos she had already called one of the crews and they would be down to paint it out shortly.  I just laughed in her face and told her she better make some calls. I was painting a huge Westpac logo at the time."

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, March 5

New age steppers - My love
Quantic - Cuidad del swing
Barrington Levy - Shine eye girl dub
Jackie Mittoo - Totally together
Resonators  -Sweet dub affair
Dub Colossus - Negus dub
Smith and Mighty - B line fi blow
The Clash - Magnificent seven

Hypnotic brass ensemble -Alyo
Dennis Coffey - Don't knock my love Pt 1
 DJ Day x Miles Bonney - Skyy can you feel me
Daru Jones and Kissey Asplund - Please
Erykah Badu - Get munny
Mophono - The edge remix
UBB - I believe in miracles
Leon Haywood - I wanna do something freaky to you
Manzel - Evil wicked mean and nasty
George Clinton - Do fries go with that shake?
Mark Ronson - No one knows
Outlines - Waiting in line inst
Border crossing - Jump down
Ranking Joe - Don't follow Babylon - BAF meets Wai wan remix
Sugar Minott - Informer 
Sabres of paradise - Wilmot II
PD Syndicate - Ruff like me - ShyFX and T Power remix
Moody boyz - Destination Africa - spirit of freedom version

Soul Sessions postponed

Due to the weather. Stink

Friday, March 04, 2011

Double-check yourself

Just got a reply from Mayor Len Brown's office regarding the graffiti mural on Poynton Tce that was painted over by Auckland Council last Thursday (story on that here)... His response in full...

"The Mayor became aware of this situation last week and was briefed by council staff who were looking into it.

Staff had immediately started an investigation when The K Road Business Association alerted the council to the issue.

It was discovered that this was a genuine error and the council is taking full responsibility to rectify the situation and install a new artwork as soon as possible. Council contractors mistakenly painted over this mural after a request by an Auckland Council anti-graffiti volunteer. The council was under the impression that the business owner wanted the work removed.

Key staff have already met to discuss how the matter will be resolved and have had initial conversations with all parties, including the original artist, regarding a replacement mural.

This incident is unusual. It does provide us an opportunity for us to work more closely with business and property owners and our volunteers to ensure any private property, including murals, are not damaged.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen again, council staff have created a more robust process which includes always double checking with business owners and property owners before any graffiti is removed. In addition, the new art work will be placed on a ‘No Action List’ ensuring there is no confusion whether any artworks should be removed or not."

ADDED Just as I posted this blog, Askew popped up on Twitter and posted this: "Poyten Tce wall vs. Auckland Council = Political check mate. I won't be repainting that wall."

Dragons and demons

Couple of cool old videos from Herbs have popped up on NZ On Screen. Nice one! Che Fu sampled Dragons and Demons on his 2005 album Beneath The Radar on the song D&D.

Soul Sessions on tomorrow

SOUL SESSIONS is a free, outdoor, art/music event. An afternoon in which to enjoy a handful of established and emerging street artists featuring members of the Cut Collective, Cinzah Merkens and others painting live, to a soundtrack provided by DJ's Adi Dick, Peter Mac, Ed G and more.

Starts at midday and goes to 6pm, and it's free! Come on down. Part of the Auckland Fringe Festival too, so it's all officially arty and stuff. And Myers Park is an under-appreciated jewel. Come and hang out. Weather forecast for Saturday aint great, so tune in to BaseFM for updates.


When I was in Wellington DJing at Webstock a few weeks back, I managed to squeeze in an afternoon of digging at Real Groovy and Slowboat Records, which made me very happy.

I scored a handful of goodies at Slowboat, and walked up to the counter to purchase them. I had a Screaming Meemees 12" (Dancing with stars in my eyes, #375 of 1000), the IQU EP featured above, several Three The Hard Way CD singles on Deepgrooves, and a Sneaky Feelings CD. The guy behind the counter took my purchases, looked at them for a minute, then looked at me and said "Are you Peter McLennan?" He'd deduced who I was based on my purchases. Smart chap! His name is Jeremy.

Turns out we'd corresponded over the years and crossed paths on the internet, as you do. I had a lovely chat with him about the state of music and music retail, and he told me that new vinyl does well for them, but the problem is sourcing it, in some cases.

For Flying Nun's new releases on vinyl, because Warners no longer deal with small shops, he has to order it from a one-stop outfit in Wellington, who then order it from Warners in Auckland, who get Roger Shepherd to ship it up to them from his Wellington base. Funnily enough, it's easier for Slowboat to deal directly with Roger rather than do that ridiculously convoluted purchasing routine. Warners also handle the digital distribution for Flying Nun too.

There's a great article on record shops I posted a while back, that profiles Slowboat and Real Groovy, written by Gordon Campbell at the end of last year. Slowboat owns their premises, no rent overheads.

IQU were a studio outfit from Auckland, who released an EP in 1984 on Jayrem. From the liner notes for the EP, the band were ...

Betty Monga, Paul Agar - vocals; Jon Lowther - keyboards; David Meech - Guitar; Ryan Monga - Bass; Robert Mayo - Drums; Percussion - Jay Foulkes.

Engineered by Mike Farmer, produced by Paul Crowther and IQU. Recorded at Echo Park Studio, winter 84. Digitally mastered. Disc mastering: Roy Carr, EMI Wellington. Sleeve design: Jon Cooper and IQU. All songs composed by Jon Lowther.
IQU Organisation: J Lowther, R Mayo, A Lamont.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Record digging just got nerdier

Okay, this is nerdy as hell, and I love it. WANT.

"The iCrate iPhone app, which bills itself as the ultimate search tool for record collectors and crate diggers, provides mobile crate diggers with such features as a barcode scanner, record rarity, average selling prices, current offers, audio samples, location tagging, and guides to the best record stores around the world." Via Crate Kings.

Apple also announced the launch of the new iPad 2, arriving in NZ March 25. Best bit for music heads - it can run Garageband and iMovie, both available as apps for $6.49.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

More vanishing art

Credit: Component, from Cut Collective, Source

 Today I discovered there's a lot of disappearing artwork in our city. Here's the tale of one example (hat tip to Kost TMD). A mural was painted by Dan Tippett and DLT next to the Kingsland train station in 2006, and cost ratepayers $30,000. It was removed in 2009 to make way for improvements to the station for the Rugby World Cup.

Tippett says "It's sad to see it go because it was so well received by the community. It seems crazy that these cultural references to this area and Eden Park are disappearing. It's a shame, but just one of those things I can't do anything about.'' The mural was painted to discourage tagging. Read Art goes to the wall, from August 2009.

In today's New Zealand Herald, Ana Samways picked up my blogpost from last Thursday on the Auckland Council painting over a mural in the CBD.

A number of commenters in that earlier post also pointed me to more murals that have been buffed (painted over) by the Council. There are at least three of them in recent times, apparently. One was a mural painted as a tribute to a young couple and their baby, all killed in a car accident when a truck ran into their car.

The action at Poynton Terrace now appears to be part of a wider cleanup effort, possibly linked to the Rugby World Cup. The AKT blog reports that efforts are underway to paint out tagging and graffiti from the rail corridor. That blog, like the Council, seems unable to tell the difference between tagging and graffiti art.

Len Brown apologised via Twitter to Askew yesterday. He also replied to me, saying "looks like a genuine mistake by council staff. My office is moving to sort it out".  Today the Mayor contacted Askew via Twitter to say "council officers should be in touch with you, business owner & K Rd Ass. with options."

Hamish Keith suggested via Twitter that "a good plan would be to make a register of murals - in fact we need an audit of cultural resources of the whole damn town."

Do you love Kool Herc?

free download [140MB]

"We at Saturn Never Sleeps emailed our friends to put this compilation together - We Love DJ Kool Herc is our way of saying thank you for his contributions to music & culture. Please consider donating directly to Herc and his family on his official website to help with any previous and future medical costs he may have. More info, streaming player, and King Britt's personal thoughts on Kool Herc here.

This compilation features tracks from DaM-Funk, Damon Bennett, Dego, King Britt Presents Sylk 130, Ursula Rucker, Lushlife, ZIN, Hezekiah, Jneiro Jerel & Indigo, Soul Litchfield, Illvibe Collective feat. Ethel Cee, Rucyl, Shigeto, Galapagoose, Ras_G, Chuck Treece, Suzi Analogue, Stef Eye, and Peter Kirn."

Soul Sessions

SOUL SESSIONS is a free, outdoor, art/music event. An afternoon in which to enjoy a handful of established and emerging street artists featuring members of the Cut Collective, Cinzah Merkens and others painting live, to a soundtrack provided by DJ's Adi Dick, Peter Mac, Ed G and more.

Starts at midday this Saturday and goes to 6pm, and it's free! Come on down. Part of the Auckland Fringe Festival too, so it's all officially arty and stuff. And Myers Park is an under-appreciated jewel. Come and hang out.

Monday, February 28, 2011

What have you done my brother?

This great little story popped up in the latest newsletter from Daptone Records. Gabe Roth had planned to "tweak the lyrics to amputate all of the religion out of them ... It wasn't out of disrespect. Just like Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles and all the rest of the great R&B singers, we figured Naomi had to change "Jesus" to "baby" in order to sell some records ..."

Didn't quite work out that way tho...

Daptone Records Co-owner/Producer, Bosco Mann, on Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens and the recording of this album:

Recording this record was a challenge. When Cliff and I first conceived of it, we wanted to do an album of all message songs - meaning, we wanted to do all uplifting songs, songs about righteousness, but no literal gospel. Songs about "Love", but not calling Jesus' name. Kind of like the songs the Staples Singers and Curtis Mayfield did when they crossed over. We started rolling tape in 2006.

On Cliff's recommendation, I had gone through a lot of gospel songs that we were already doing on church gigs and tweaked the lyrics to amputate all of the religion out of them. I changed "Hem of His Garment" to "If All My Money Were Love", and "Pray On My Child" to "Walk On My Child". It wasn't out of disrespect. Just like Wilson Pickett, Ray Charles and all the rest of the great R&B singers, we figured Naomi had to change "Jesus" to "baby" in order to sell some records. There was a lot of precedent for this approach to recording a "gospel-tinged" soul record. I also wrote a handful of new tunes for these first sessions like "By My Side," "Am I Asking Too Much", "Rise Up,"and "Movin'" (the latter two never made the final cut for the record.) We were still recording on the old 16 track tape machine then.

The results were mixed. That first take of "I'll Take the Long Road" (a song I'd originally intended for a reggae group) came out beautiful. It was just one of those natural studio moments that just worked, and in the end it was one of the only things from this first session to make the wax. However, most of the rest of the session was not as fruitful, we shelved it and got into some other things for a few months.

We reconvened in 2007. We had some different back up singers, another drummer, and some new songs. I believe we kept "By My Side" from that session. Not because the backing was flawless, but because Naomi slaughtered it to the point where we couldn't ask her to cut it again. Other than that, the outcome was little better than the first sessions.

Again, we shelved the project. It was better than the first sessions, but we knew that Naomi deserved a great record. It was painful for me personally, because I knew how much she and Cliff wanted to get a record out. Cliff had seemed content to release the first sessions. I didn't want to hold them back, but Neal and I agreed that the sessions hadn't yet reached their potential.

I took a lot of time after those sessions, listening to tapes and comparing the performances to Naomi and the Queens' live show. At some point I had to acknowledge that they were just putting a little more into the songs about Jesus. These were women who were sincerely in love with Jesus and you could hear it in their songs. Not that they didn't dig in to some of the other songs that I'd written - Naomi had taken some of them to heart and was really breathing life into them - but the gospel songs would have to be just that: gospel songs. Neal and I shrugged and made peace with our place as two more Jews putting out records about Jesus.

In 2008 we brought them back into the studio with a fresh approach. Some things had changed. I called in friend and local jazz drummer Brian Floody for most of the sessions and Homer Steinweiss for the rest. The Queens' line up had changed as well, bringing Cynthia Langston in to sing the top parts, leaving Edna Johnson on the bottom, and solidifying Bobbie Gant in the middle. The studio had undergone some changes as well. By that time, we had abandoned the 16 track for an 8 track Ampex machine. This meant we didn't have enough tracks for each of the musicians and singers to have their own tracks.

My first instinct was to let the background singers just gather around one mic, which would open up a couple tracks, but just before the session, I changed my mind. We gave each singer their own mic and their own track. Some of these songs were new to them and they didn't have all of the parts and blends completely worked out. I needed them on separate tracks in order to make sure we could sit them right in the mix. Because of that, we had to economize the tracks for the rhythm section.

We put the bass amp and guitar amp facing eachother and stuck one microphone in between. It actually wasn't hard to get a balance and I could control the bass pretty well with the low end of an eq. Similarly, the piano and organ were mixed together on a single track. (There were a few tunes where I screwed up the balance between the keys. "Where'd the piano go?," Cliff would ask me. I had to group mix the backgrounds, fly them to another track, and overdub an additional piano on a handful of songs. You can hear the ghostly original piano poking through on some of the tunes.)

The other major change was giving Naomi and the Queens back the original gospel lyrics. Suddenly, tunes like "What More Can I Do" and "What Is This?" started coming to life. I think we recorded on a Thursday and Friday evening and took the weekend off. That Sunday I listened to the roughs and was much happier with what we had. It just felt that the record needed one more tune, something heavy and dark to balance all of the transcendent optimism of the record. I grabbed my guitar, strummed a couple minor chords and scribbled out "What Have You Done, My Brother".

Like the other's I'd written for Naomi, it wasn't a brilliant song by any stretch of the imagination, but it had a rhythm and a message that she could really get into. She took to it right away and we cut it in couple of takes. We decided to cut A Change Is Gonna Come on that last day two. Cliff put together the backgrounds and we overdubbed them afterwards. A combination of finally having the right line-up and the right songs (with the original lyrics) made this third session a success. After a few days of voting, fighting, and a lot of splicing, through which many songs and verses met there painful end on the cutting room floor, we chopped the tapes down to what the truly essential moments. Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens finally had a Daptone record.

What Have You Done, My Brother? is the only record that I've ever recorded that I could sit and listen to from the moment it was finished. Most records I can't enjoy for years. Like lots of great records, It didn't sell so well. Perhaps the irony is that after all that people actually couldn't get their heads around buying a gospel record. I have no regrets about going back to the Jesus lyrics, though.

We made a deep, natural, soulful record. I think we captured what makes Naomi the most beautiful and powerful singer around. I have yet to record another record that made me as proud."

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Milking it

I went down to BaseFM's annual Shake N Bake gig today in Western Park. The folk from Cut Collective were doing some live art, and this was what they came up with...

Vinyl revival #250

Yet another variation on a classic theme....

Vinyl Records Turn Up the Volume (NBC DFW)

Music store owners say vinyl albums are gaining popularity. "All of the sudden, a few years ago, it started coming back. It kind of amazed me, so we started buying more vinyl," Don Foster, the owner of Recycled Books, Records and CDs, in Denton said ...

... "With a CD, it is so flimsy and just kind of there," said Steven Rodriguez, a 25-year-old record collector. "With a vinyl, you can hold it and flip it over. The whole ritual of playing a record is satisfying."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Buju Banton found guilty

Via Miami Herald. - Singer Buju Banton found guilty in cocaine case

Grammy-winning reggae singer Buju Banton was convicted Tuesday of conspiring to set up a cocaine deal in 2009, a verdict that elicited anguish and disbelief among supporters in a crowded courtroom and from other artists in his native Jamaica.

A federal jury deliberated for 11 hours over two days on the fate of Banton, who won a Grammy last week for best reggae album for his work entitled "Before the Dawn." He was found guilty of three of four charges, and his attorney said he's facing at least 15 years in prison.

The 37-year-old Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie, remains wildly popular in Jamaica, and the trial - his second over the drug accusations - was packed with supporters that included other well-known reggae artists. The first trial ended in a mistrial last year after the jury deadlocked....

... Banton was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense and using a telephone to facilitate a drug trafficking offense. He was acquitted of attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine....

.... Prosecutors acknowledge that Banton did not put any money into the drug deal, nor did he ever profit from it. Markus said his client is "a big talker" who admitted to trying to impress the confidential informant but wasn't involved in any drug deal.

The verdict marks "the saddest day for reggae and dancehall," rapper Michael "Power Man" Davy said, adding he was "sad as a Rastaman and a Jamaican."

Singer Junior Reid called it a conspiracy against reggae artists. "With Buju gone, a big piece of reggae get chop off," he said.

Chch benefit gig in AK on Sunday

"In the wake of Christchurch’s most recent and devastating earthquake, Heaps of People present the “Kotahitangata (One People)” concert for the “New Zealand Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal”, happening this Sunday 27 February, 5pm at Sale St.

100% of all proceeds will go to Red Cross New Zealand to aid their ongoing efforts to support those affected by the quake.
The stellar line-up includes: Sola Rosa (live), King Kapisi, Homebrew, LA Mitchell, Anna Coddington, Coast, The Midnights, LatinAotearoa (Bobby Brazuka, Jennifer Zea & Isaac Aesili), Recloose, The Turnaround (Manuel Bundy, Cian, Submariner) & special guests.

No cost was incurred in the creation of the event with the complete line-up performing free of charge.

Doors open at 5pm and there will be a variety of auctions running during the day to also raise money for the cause. Tickets are $25 from Eventfinder and gig-goers are also required to give a donation of their choice on arrival – anything from $1 to $1000 - it is all greatly appreciated.


Fania Records has linked up with Strut to drop a wicked 2 CD set retrospective of the Fania label, covering such legends of latin music as Ray Barretto, Willie Colon, Joe Bataan, Celia Cruz, Mongo Santamaria and many more. If you've never checked out the Fania label, this looks like a great place to start.

"Fania was originally the brainchild of musician and bandleader Johnny Pacheco who, when disillusioned with the label releasing his music, teamed up with lawyer Jerry Masucci to form a new imprint, named after a Reinaldo Bolanos composition. 
"At the time, the era of the ‘mambo kings’  that reigned supreme in New York from the late 1940s through the 1950s had begun to lose momentum. New York’s new generation of young Latinos were more interested in doo-wop during the late 1950s, then the ‘twist’ and the R&B of Motown. Younger Nu Yorican musicians began experimenting with new, energetic fusions of Latin music like boogaloo and what ultimately became known as salsa and Fania arrived at the perfect time to bring the new sounds to the huge Latin communities in Spanish Harlem and across New York."
Various Artists: Fania Records 1964-1980: The Original Sound Of Latin New York
(Out March 29th)

Track listing below...
CD 1
1. Johnny Pacheco - Dakar, Punto Final
2. Orchestra Harlow - La Juventud
3. Joe Bataan - Subway Joe
4. Ray Barretto - Mercy Mercy Baby
5. Bobby Valentin - Use It Before You Lose It
6. Willie Colon - The Hustler
7. Joe Bataan - Mambo De Bataan
8. Roberto Roena - Consolacion
9. Ismael Miranda con Orchestra Harlow - Abran Paso
10. Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz - Sonido Bestial
11. Willie Colon - Che Che Cole
12. Cheo Feliciano - Anacaona
13. The Fania All Stars - Quitate Tu (Live At The Cheetah)
14. Justo Betancourt – Pa’ Bravo Yo
15. Ismael Miranda - Asi Se Compone Un Son

CD 2
1. Ray Barretto – Indestructible
2. Willie Colon - Calle Luna, Calle Sol
3. Roberto Roena - Que Se Sepa
4. Bobby Valentin - Coco Seco
5. Celiz Cruz & Johnny Pacheco - Quimbara
6. Tommy Olivencia - Pa’Lante Otra Vez
7. Hector Lavoe - Mi Gente
8. Mongo Santamaria - O Mi Shango
9. Sonora Poncena - Bomba Carambomba
10. Ruben Blades & Willie Colon - Pablo Pueblo
11.Hector Lavoe - El Cantante
12. Ruben Blades & Willie Colon – Pedro Navaja
13. Celia Cruz Y Sonora Poncena - Sonaremos El Tambo
14. Fania All Stars & Celia Cruz - Cuando Despiertes

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


This is a statement of fact.
Webstock has grown from a small gathering back in 2006 to around 750 people this year. It's an incredible event; their attention to detail in every aspect of what they do is just jaw-droppingly good. And I'm not just saying that cos they got me back to be the official Webstock DJ for the second year running.

The speakers this year ranged in subject matter from comics to typography to content to music to infographics to all different aspects of the web... it really was quite mindblowing. What really gets me about Webstock is everyone who goes to it is totally engaged with what they're hearing. It's buzzing with energy from the very first speaker. It's buzzing even before the doors open - if the audience has managed to beat the queues at the coffee machine that is.

One very cool idea that popped up on the first day was making use of Google Docs to create an open document for each speaker that anyone could contribute notes to.  Go here to read the full list of notes on the speaker's talks. It worked brilliantly.

There's so many highlights it's hard to pull out a few. Some of my favorite speakers included Merlin Mann who gave a great talk using slides that were low-fi photos of index cards he'd scribbled on (unlike other presenters, who even had credits for the typeface in their sumptuously designed slides), and Amanda Palmer, who made her entrance to Webstock by busking outside the Town Hall, playing on the screen inside via video link from an iPhone. She walked inside the town hall, belting out Radiohead’s Creep while playing ukulele. The video link cut out half way through. Don’t know if the phone was connected to Vodafone or XT.

Whenever one of the Webstock speakers swear, all eyes shoot to the sign language interpreter to see how they sign it. The best example was Webstock’s Mike Brown introducing Palmer, as her full performing name, Amanda F**king Palmer, and turning to the sign guy and saying I want to see how you do this, and sign guy looks at Mike and says “is that a noun or a verb?”. Cue laughter.

Palmer talked about her experiences of being signed to a major label, how that worked really well for a while, then stopped working. She said that the major labels were like the Titanic, and they were already sinking and yet they were still in denial they were going down.

Palmer mentioned using Bandcamp as a great model for distributing music, and also using Twitter as a way of organising her tours - finding places to stay, and staging spontaneous 'ninja gigs' as she calls them.She talked about staging a ninja gig in Byron Bay in Australia, which was great, but all the people who came were from outside Byron Bay, not locals as there's no internet coverage there.

They best example she had of using Twitter was when she was flying from the US to UK to do some advance press before starting a tour there. The stopover was in Iceland, and she landed just after the volcano blew up. It quickly became apparent that she wasn't flying anywhere when the airline started talking about offering her a hotel to stay. So she got on Twitter and asked "Anyone here?"

She knew no one in Iceland, but a friend in NZ who was originally from Iceland, called her old schoolfriend back in Iceland, and they came and picked Palmer up at the airport and gave her a place to stay. Within 7 hours of being stranded, Palmer had sorted accommodation and a gig for that night, and borrowed a keyboard for the show.

Palmer said “Free content breeds success which might not be immediately visible or measurable”.
She said that giving your music away for free, if it's good, will make people pay for more. If it's shitty, they won't give you a cent.

DJing at Webstock is an entertaining gig - you're basically playing background music for folk while they have a break for morning/afternoon tea, or lunch. The people attending Webstock are so friendly - they would ask if I needed any food, or drink, and complimented me on the music. Thank you! You are lovely people.

I got to hang out with some awesome people at Webstock. Hope to see you again soon! Thank you for inviting me, Webstock.

And when I wasn't DJing, I was probably on Twitter. Photographic evidence

Webstock also provide attendees with free grapefruit and lemon Frujus. Classy

Amanda Palmer entered the stage playing Creep by Radiohead

Apparently I missed the geek memo about wearing checked shirts to Webstock. Not these guys

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


About 1pm this afternoon, Christchurch was hit by a serious earthquake, of 6.3 (following September's quake of 7.1). There's been terrible scenes of collapsed buildings, shocked people and calamity all over the tv for hours. It's pretty horrific to watch. Sixty five people are reported dead so far, and there's still hundreds of people trapped inside collapsed buildings, as darkness falls. I hope they're going to be okay. Much love to the people of Christchurch.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Five bar loops

From a recent article in The Guardian on J-Dilla... no standard four bar loops for this cat...

"...Dilla was, perhaps, the only hip-hop producer to have studied the cello ("Not the instrument of choice in the ghetto," as his mother puts it in the sleevenotes) as a child, and his work is full of the sort of subtle but powerful differences that a composition-based education might provide, as Miguel Atwood-Ferguson noticed when he broke down the pieces ahead of arranging them for the orchestra.

"Dilla loves five-bar loops," he says. "He loves sevens and elevens as well, but within the phrases of five, he will have different parts of the beat looped in threes, fives and sevens a lot as well. Two of my other favorite musicians, Billie Holliday and Elvin Jones, very naturally phrase in three, five, and seven as well, without even seemingly being consciously of it."

Wave goodbye

I heard a whisper late last year that The Opensouls were splitting up, and this weekend just gone the band played their final show in Tauranga. Lead singer Tyra Hammond has recently had a kid, and drummer Julien Dyne has got a budding solo career cooking away, not to forget the other musical activities of other band members, so I guess it's a good time to wrap things up. The Opensouls produced some splendidly funky grooves. I'll miss em. Love this video too, you bunch of sick puppies! Laters, Opensouls....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More Fishbone

Got sent these clips from the fine folk at Turnstyle News... thanks!

"Actors and musicians including Gwen Stefani, Laurence Fishburne (narrator), Flea, Damon Wayans, Ice-T and Perry Farrell appear in two exclusive clips - obtained by Turnstyle News - of EVERYDAY SUNSHINE, a documentary about unique black rock band Fishbone. It is the untold story of fiercely individual artists in their quest to reclaim their musical legacy while debunking the myths of young black men from urban America."

Official site for Everyday Sunshine.

Everyday Sunshine: Fishbone Is Punk Rock from Turnstyle Video on Vimeo.

Everyday Sunshine: Fishbone In The Hood from Turnstyle Video on Vimeo.

Read more - Fishbone in the hood at Turnstyle News

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Straight to hell

Got sent this link, which reminded me to post it, cos I saw it a while back, I think.

NY77: The coolest year in hell, a documentary made in 2007 by VH1. This clip is 1 hour 25 mins.

"A two-hour VH1 Rock Doc that documents one of the most tumultuous years in New York Citys history. The Emmy nominated documentary examines everything from the birth of hip-hop, the burgeoning disco movement, the famed New York blackout, the Son of Sam murders, the sexual revolution and the citys ongoing financial and political problems. The list of people interviewed by Corra includes Mayor Ed Koch, Screw magazine publisher Al Goldstein, porn actress Annie Sprinkle, hip-hop pioneers KRS One, Afrika Bambaataa and D.J. Kool Herc, punks Richard Hell, Blondies Christ Stein, Studio 54 co-owner Ian Schrager and disco diva Gloria Gaynor."

Marc Campbell over at Dangerous Minds remembers the 77 blackout...

"I was living in the decaying Hotel Earle in the West Village when NYC went black. The power failure of July 13, 1977 knocked the city to its knees. I was sitting on the window sill of my room keeping cool or as cool as one could keep during a sweltering summer night in the city. I was drinking a nice cold beer and listening to the music of the streets when at around 9:30 p.m. everything suddenly went completely dark…and I mean dark, dark as Aleister Crowley’s asshole.

"It was the strangest fucking thing you could imagine. One moment the city was there, then next it was gone. The only illumination came from automobile headlights lacerating the night like ghostly Ginsu knives. My girlfriend and I clutched hands and felt our way down the stairs and out onto the sidewalk. We walked to Bleecker street in spooky darkness. We weren’t alone. The avenues were teeming with the dazed and confused. Not that unusual for the Village, but the confusion was different. Was the world coming to an end?..."

" NY77: The Coolest Year In Hell is a terrific documentary that captures a pivotal moment in the history of a city and its pop culture. Here’s the whole beautiful mess."

Net labels: Jahtari

Great profile on net labels, including reggae crew Jahtari, over at Dangerous Minds.  What is a net label? Read their handy intro here.

"It was after being shown the website back in 2006 by my friends in Mungo’s Hi-Fi that the penny dropped - I really could do everything needed to get music out there without the aid of another label.  All I needed was someone who could build me a website where I could host music for people to download. The concept of net labels had been floating around before, but nobody had done it as well as Jahtari, with such a coherent outlook and music policy. They took it to another level."

"As the name would suggest, Jahtari is a combination of old school computing and dub/reggae. In particular, the classic King Jammy/Wayne Smith-style digital reggae sounds of the mid-80s (records like “Sleng Teng” and “Walk Like Granny”), largely made on Casio keyboards, but here compressed even lower into 8-bit jams .... Most importantly for me was the format - “Net 7s”, a free download which comes packaged like a physical 7 inch record, with an A side and a B side (often a dub version), and corresponding inlay sticker art."

There's a vague local connection too - one of Jahtari's artists is a young fella who goes under the name Tapes, he's the son of former Kiwi resident and dub fiend (International Observer) Tom Bailey.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Free stuff

Love free stuff, especially good free stuff. Strut Records has a mean sampler going for free here. Mulatu, Fatback Band re-edited by Danny Krivit, Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics, all sorts a goodies. Get in there.


Jazzy Jeff explains the Transform scratch, hat tip to Crate Kings

Jazzy Jeff "The Magnificent" from The Cut on Vimeo.

More Coffey

There's a series of podcasts over at Bandcamp with Dennis Coffey talking about his musical career... first episode below

"Dennis Coffey Premium Blend Vol 1. In this episode, Dennis takes us on a musical trip through his career, starting with a track from his first solo record "Hair And Thangs" and ending with "I Bet You" off the first Funkadelic album. Along the way, we move with Dennis through the volcanic environment that was Detroit music in the 1960s and 1970s, including hot tracks from the likes of Honey Cone, The Temptations, 100 Proof Aged In Soul, and The Spinners.

"This is the first of a series of podcasts celebrating the career of Dennis Coffey, with a new funk inspired record coming from the guitar legend later this year. Future editions will include more hits from Motown, labels such as Hot Wax, Invictus and Westbound, as well as Dennis' hugely influential solo career."

RIP George Shearing

From Washington Post obit

"Mr. Shearing, who was blind from birth, forged an early career as England's leading jazz pianist before settling in the United States in 1947. Within two years, he was considered a jazz sensation for his fresh-sounding harmonies and the bold originality of his quintet.

He and his group had a huge hit with their 1949 recording of "September in the Rain," which sold almost 1 million copies. Three years later, Mr. Shearing composed the catchy tune "Lullaby of Birdland," which has been recorded by dozens of artists, including Sarah Vaughan and Tito Puente.
Mr. Shearing's career took him from sweaty jazz clubs to concert halls to Buckingham Palace, where he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 2007.

He was the focus of an extended passage in Jack Kerouac's 1957 Beat-generation novel "On the Road," in which he was called "Old God Shearing."

"Shearing began to play his chords," Kerouac wrote. "They rolled out of the piano in great rich showers, you'd think the man wouldn't have time to line them up. They rolled and rolled like the sea."


Out April 25, a brand new album from legendary Motown guitarist Dennis Coffey. I've heard a preview of it, wicked sounds, check the guest list...
"As a solo artist, Coffey is perhaps best known for a series of rare groove classics during the early ‘70s including the million-selling breakbeat staple ‘Scorpio’ and soundtrack to cult action flick ’Black Belt Jones.’ Alongside producer Mike Theodore, his ‘70s ‘Theo-Coff’ productions and his prolific guitar work ranged from raw funk to classic disco, including CJ & Co’s Devil’s Gun and The Sylvers’ Boogie Fever." 
Coffey and Theodore also produced the fantastic album Cold Fact by Rodriguez.
Check out Dennis Coffey's site for more info.
1. 7th Galaxy
2. Don't Knock My Love feat. Fanny Franklin

3. All Your Goodies Are Gone feat. Mayer Hawthorne

4. I Bet You feat. Mick Collins of Dirtbombs and Rachel Nagy

5. Miss Millie feat. Kings Go Forth

6. Somebody's Been Sleeping feat. Lisa Kekaula

7. Plutonius

8. Knockabout

9. Only Good For Conversation feat. Paolo Nutini

10. Space Traveller
11. Don't Knock My Love (Part 2)

Everyday Sunshine — Fishbone doco NZ screenings

I've been hanging out to see this doco of US punk/ska band Fishbone since I first heard about it. Love these guys. It's screening in Auckland and Wellington as part of the Documentary Edge Festival. Trailer below. Screens in Auckland - Feb 19, March 2 and 5. Screens in Wellington- March 12 and 23.

"Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone is about Fishbone, musical pioneers that have been rocking on the margins of pop culture for the past 25 years. From the streets of South Central-Los Angeles and the competitive Hollywood music scene of the 1980’s, the band rose to prominence only to fall apart when on the verge of "making it."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ring The Alarm playlist, BaseFM, Sat Feb 12

Ernest Ranglin - 54 46 was my number
Keith Hudson - Ire irie
Footsie - Cuss cuss dub
Kabanjak - Dub to go - Ancient astronauts remix
Manasseh feat Dark angel - People come to
Smith and Mighty - B line fi blow

Tubbs - Five day night - Fat Freddys remix
Alton Ellis - You're the one to blame
Dandy Livingston and Rico  -Rudy a message to you
Austin Faithful - I'm in a rockin mood
Colm K and the freestyle mellowship - Dancing skulls main mix
Cooking on three burners - Cars
George Clinton - Atomic dog
War - Me and baby brother

Mayer Hawthorne - Maybe so, maybe no
Four tet - Serious as your life
Belleruche - Gold rush
Caribou - Odesa

Mayer Hawthorne, Four Tet, Belleruche and Caribou all playing at Slore City, Auckland Town Hall tonight, door sales $85. It's gonna be sweet.

Colman bros - She who dares - Lounge mix
Souleance - La romance
Project tempo - Tomtom dub
Shannon - Let the music play
Thievery corporation - 38-45
Western roots - Bogus buddy
Luciano - Life - Da lata remix
Nicola Conte - Jet sounds
Dennis Coffey feat Kings go forth - Miss Millie
El Michels affair - Detroit twice
Liquid crystal project - Tribute to Dilla

Friday, February 11, 2011

We like living off the government

1978 NZ punk scene, profiled by Neil Roberts - watch out for shot of him with dodgy moustache in the Idle Idols interview. A bus full of Auckland punks heading to Wellington to play the Town Hall... first band profiled is Rooter (later the Terrorways).

Roberts -They've been playing together for a month. "How do you rate yourself - are you any good after a month's playing?" Kerry Buchanan: "We're better".

The Scavengers

The Idle Idols, interviewed in bed.

The Stimulators, who later became Sheerlux.

"we like living off the government..." The Normals, Assassins, Doomed and Suburban Reptiles

Carl Craig

From Factmag... "Carl Craig is marking the 20th anniversary of his Planet E label with a compilation album, live tour and monthly remixes of classic archive tracks throughout the year. "

I understand you’re also launching a competition around the vinyl edition of the compilation, or a kind of listener’s poll: can you explain more?

“Well, because there’s so many tracks I feel it’s better to let the fans A&R what they’d like to see on the vinyl in comparison to us just telling you what we’re going to give you on the vinyl, you can actually select. So, from the tracks that we have on digital the people can select what they feel that they are missing on vinyl, what they’ve missed or just what they’d really like to see on the compilation.”

The music industry has changed a lot in the last 20 years, especially in the last five years or so. How do you see the business side developing in the future? 
“I really hope that it can develop quite nicely, but now we are in a very tough situation. I don’t know if we’ve reached the bottom yet for the whole industry, but there’s only one future I can see that’s prosperous for the industry, for any industries, any new technologies – and that’s via the Internet...."

Read the interview here.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Oddisee is a very cool US producer who has dropped some great EPs via Bandcamp based aroudn the seasons (Odd Summer, Odd Autumn etc) and he's spreading the word about another talented colleague of his... it's a free collection of short beats that are funky as...

Oddisee: "When it comes to digging for samples I must admit, I'm not the best at. When you have friends like mine you don't have to be. I'd like to introduce you all to Maverick, a producer from Washington, DC by way of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Maverick & I have been friends for some time now, His knowledge on Hip Hop and records never ceases to amaze me. 
"The last time we hooked up, he played me some new beats he was working on. He's a busy guy who has his hands in tons of things. The one thing he has yet to dabble in was a release. I convinced him to let me share his beats with you all. Consider these tracks "The First Step" in my homie making a name for himself."

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


There's new documentary that has popped up online recently, celebrating the life and music of J Dilla. This month marks five years since he passed away.

"Created in 2006, this remembrance piece is created as a tribute to the memory and legacy of James "J.Dilla" Yancey. This is a piece designed for his fans and supporters who knew of his accomplishments before February 2006 and those that have grown to appreciate his genius. Here, we gain a greater insight and understanding about our musical icon."

There's a bunch of great stuf on Dilla over at Stonesthrow too...

We've joined with the J Dilla Estate to produce this poster of the 2005 photo of Dilla at work, photographed by Raph Rashid.

A clip from the video that turned into the cover of Donuts, with a back-story from the director.

Streaming audio from the definitive J Dilla mixtape by J. Rocc

"J.Dilla: Still Shining" from B.Kyle on Vimeo.

Splore tickets on special

Splore City hits Auckland Town Hall on Friday and Saturday night, and they've got a mean special on tickets...

"It's a last minute 24 hour deal for $75 + BF/night special starting midday Wed 9 Feb through to midday Thurs 10 Feb especially for all our friends of Splore. Simply add the word PARTY TIME into the promo box when purchasing online or quote the word PARTY TIME if purchasing by phone from the Edge here"

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Onelung (aka Kevin Tutt) is a local electronica artist who has been putting out cool, sample-based  jazzy funk/funky jazz electronica releases for a number of years. Last year, he quietly slipped out album number 6, called Dark Carousel, and it's available for free download over at his label, Punchy wah.

See Onelung full discography here. That link also includes some audio downloads for Tutts' previous musical outfits Cicada (also featuring one Andrew Spraggon, now of Sola Rosa) and Pink Frocks. To grab some of the earlier Onelung albums, scroll down here.
Punchy Wah Records site.

Earlier video from Onelung, featuring a cool puppet grooving around the place.

Monday, February 07, 2011

mahna mahna superbowl

Troy Polamalu is one of the star players for the Steelers, playing the Greenbay Packers in today's Superbowl. I first heard of him in 2007, when someone sent me an email about him, after they found my website about Piero Umiliani, an Italin film composer most famous for his song Mahna Mahna (from the mondo film "Sweden: Heaven or Hell"), later covered by Sesame St/The Muppets...

M Shirra wrote "Surely you've heard from many Pittsburgh Steeler's fans (Yeah, SuperBowl Champs!) about the parody heard in these parts regarding our probowl safety Troy Polamalu. Any chance of adding a link on your site? It's quite a tribute.Really enjoyed reading your site about a song that's been stuck in my head for weeks. It is truly amazing sometimes what you can find on the internet!" The song was reworked to help Steelers fans figure out how to pronounce Polamau's surname. He is of Samoan descent.

Oh, and his hair is insured for $1 million. Read about that here.

Piero Umiliani passed away in Feb 2001. In 2003, his daughter Elisabetta contacted me after a friend showed her my site. I was lucky enough to do an interview with her via email. She told me her father named his boat Mahna Mahna. Read the interview here.

Digi Bam Bam

Digi Bam Bam riddim, classic Bam Bam reworked by Seed Organisation, and they've got Sister Nancy on it too! WICKED! Free download too.

Digi Bam Bam Riddim by The Seed Organization