Pono Review – Stereophile April 2015

I have waited for a reputable audio publication to offer an in-depth review of the Pono Music Player.

Hopefully you haven’t insulted your intelligence by placing any value in David Pogue’s Yahoo Tech hackneyed test of the Pono Music Player. (C’mon David you are head of Yahoo Tech and you don’t have a state of the art audio testing lab? Shame on you and Yahoo. Really Mr. Pogue, you were a former professional musician and Chicago’s Saturday in the Park is the high-resolution audio file to test Pono. Let’s not be L7.)

People who are seriously considering purchasing a Pono Music Player should read John Atkinson’s article, “Pono Pono Player” from the Stereophile magazine April 2015 issue.

What you will appreciate is the depth of Atkinson’s testing analysis and subsequent findings. He shares with the reader what he learned as a result of listening intently. I especially liked his interpretation of Led Zeppelin‘s “Stairway To Heaven“. He has compelled me to buy Led Zeppelin IV Deluxe Edition.

Being a Pono Music Player enthusiast I am always interested in learning more about the dynamics of my device. I applaud John Atkinson’s well structured and balanced report.

If I may just quote two lines of his review:

Considered on it’s own merits, the Pono Player is a well-engineered, high-performance, portable player that is equally at home in a conventional high-end audio system, and is offered at a fair, affordable price. In combination with the Pono Music World app, it offers a plug’n’play gateway to high-quality music reproduction.

Laura Nyro Interpretations

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. My appreciation for the beauty of original songwriters sometimes arrives through the stylistic interpretation of other artists.

A singer and songwriter that I  treasure is Laura Nyro. I have written about her artistic impact several times on this music blog. This morning I happened upon a soulful music blog post, “Remembering Laura Nyro” by Richard Williams. It put me in touch with jazz pianist and composer Billy Childs.

Billy Childs

Billy Childs received a Grammy award for Best Arrangement Instrumental and Vocals for the choice, “New York Tendaberry”. The track features cellist Yo-Yo Ma, classical soprano Renee Fleming and Billy on piano.

Map To The Treasure, Reimagining Laura Nyro is a polished work. I like that Billy Childs and Larry Klein were painstaking in their choices of Laura Nyro’s songs. The album delves into classic hits and deeper tracks. Its a smart contrast that enhances the listener’s knowledge of Laura Nyro’s genius.

The Christine Spero Group

I discovered The Christine Spero Group by hyperlink very close after reading Richard William’s blog post. I was reviewing Steve Katz’s tour dates when I noticed that Steve Katz would be joining Christine Spero at My Father’s Place (Page One Restaurant) on Glen Cove, Long Island to perform the music of Laura Nyro on Friday April 10, 2015.

I thought about the Blood, Sweat and Tears album and their interpretation of Laura Nyro’s “And When I Die”. I had my synchronicity.

“Christine Spero and I shared a bill at the new Towne Crier in Beacon NY. I knew that Christine was doing a tribute to my old friend Laura Nyro, but I wasn’t prepared for just how amazing Christine’s performance turned out to be. She was able to channel Laura with all the feeling and intelligence that the music warranted, but, at the same time, made Laura’s music her own. A delightful evening all around – one that I hope will be repeated often.”  – Steve Katz

Dan Aykroyd Launches Blues Brothers Record Label

This is one Mission from God I support fully! What a public service for dedicated blues enthusiasts like myself. I am pumped to say the least.

Billboard Magazine reports that Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi’s widow Judy are starting Blues Brothers Records through an A&R and distribution arrangement with Blue Note Records.

The new record label is dedicated to development of blues artists. Blue Note Records President Don Was will be handling A&R duties for Blues Brothers Records, Judy Belushi will be the creative director and Blues Brothers manager Eric Gardner will run the administrative side of the label.

I respect the thought process given to the multi-prong distribution strategy. 1) The label’s music will be distributed by Capitol Music Group’s Blue Note Records.

2) Using BluesMobile to help tell, sell and promote the artists and their music. Elwood’s BluesMobile is the syndicated radio show Aykroyd has hosted for 22 years. A radio show I was completely unaware of until today.

3) Once the roster is large enough to produce a revue-style show, the Blues Brothers Records team envisions the artists traveling as a road show to Live Nation’s House of Blues. Aykroyd was one of the founders of the venue.

According to Billboard, still performing with Jim Belushi as the Blues Brothers, Dan Aykroyd hopes the label can generate new audiences for blues and vintage R&B the way Briefcase Full of Blues did in 1978 when it reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 3 million copies shipped.

Soupstock Music & Arts Festival 2015 – Shelton, CT

Today the 2015 music lineup for the annual  Soupstock Music & Arts Festival to be held in Shelton, CT at Veterans Memorial Park June 20/21 was announced.

Looking forward to the first of several area summer music festivals and for the snow to melt away…



Mark Mothersbaugh + Adam Lerner in NYC

I have to hand it to the Strand Bookstore. They get the best music author signings and talks.

Are you in NYC this Thursday March 19th? Then you should come join Mark Mothersbaugh and Adam Lerner as they discuss Mark’s new book, Myopia. Wes Anderson wrote the foreword.

Are We Not Men?

His first major solo exhibition, “Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia,” opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver on Oct. 30, 2014 and runs until May, 2015. It then travels to five other cities, including New York.

SXSW Music 2015 – Austin, Texas

We are on the eve of SXSW Music 2015 which takes place in Austin, Texas from March 17-22. I’d love nothing more than to be there in person, experiencing the energy and live music in measure.

Since that is unrealistic this year (I’m holding out for SXSW 2016, right dear ;)) I rely upon the on-the-scene independent music bloggers from my community to keep me informed. To their credit they have produced an invaluable music preview guide, The Independent Music Bloggers Guide to SXSW.

The SXSW 2015 Music Preview Guide

Over 25 independent music bloggers put together a guide of up-and-coming SXSW Music showcasing artists that shouldn’t be missed.

The Independent Bloggers Guide to SXSW highlights 100 bands that should be seen live and in person at the 2015 SXSW Music Festival.

Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Mitterhoff Concert

Acoustic Duet
Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Mitterhoff
Stage One – Fairfield, Connecticut
Saturday, March 14, 2015

We saw Jorma Kaukonen and Barry Mitterhoff perform a warmly inviting acoustic concert at the Fairfield Theater Company last night. It was amazing sitting no more than 15 feet away as Jorma and Barry got into their zone. These accomplished musicians played period Americana music I grew fonder of as the night progressed.

I loved witnessing their interplay. Jorma plays fantastic guitar augmented by  reassuring vocals. His mastery of the guitar helped to gain a deeper appreciation for the guitar workshops he leads at the Fur Peace Ranch in Pomeroy, Ohio.

Barry Mitterhoff complemented Jorma smartly. I marvelled at his command of the mandolin among other instruments he played. It was like watching a hummingbird’s wings evoke crystal integrity. Barry portrayed the patience of Job as he waved his soft, magical touch over twelve strings.

The high part of the evening was “Good Shepherd” which they played extended going off into “Volunteers of America” for a spell as they eased back to “Good Shepherd”.

First Set:
1. Dime For Beer
2. I See The Light
3. Heart Temporary
4. Hesitation Blues
5. Ain’t In No Hurry
6. How Long Blues
7. Where There’s Two There’s Trouble
8. River Of Time
9. Barbeque King
10. I’ll Be All Right Some Day
11. The Other Side Of The Mountain
Second Set:
1. Suffer Little Children to Come Unto Me
2. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
3. The Terrible Operation
4. Brother Can You Spare A Dime
5. Candy Man
6. Death Don’t Have No Mercy
7. Let Us Get Together Right Down Here
8. Come Back Baby
9. Good Shepherd
10. Bar Room Crystal Ball
11. Water Song
12. I Know You Rider
13. Encore: Embryonic Journey

Jackie Greene – Light Up Your Window

Photo by Jay Blakesberg

Jackie Greene is a busy and fruitful musician. He recently made a stop to film and record in historic Hillsborough, NC for the Yep Roc Sawyer Sessions. The live songs were shot at Tune Your Sound USA, the home of a massive collection boasting over 1,500 guitars.

He performed “Light Up Your Window” and “Silver Lining” which are due to be released by Yep Roc Records as a 7″ EP for Record Store Day on April 18th, 2015.

Jackie Greene’s full album, Back To Birth is scheduled to drop on August 25th on Yep Roc Records.

State of the Blues – Jeff Dunas

I picked up a copy of a new magazine to me, American Photo (March/April 2015) yesterday. The issue focuses on music photographers of then and now.

I just can’t get enough of music photography books. State of the Blues by photographer Jeff Dunas is an incredible portrait study of the artists who define the blues.

A hardcover book and paperback of the same title (1998) published by Aperture Foundation, includes photographs by Jeff Dunas, interviews with leading blues performers, a preface by John Lee Hooker, and an introduction by William Ferris.

Photograph Copyright Jeff Dunas