Moonalice Interview: Music Technology and Art With Roger McNamee

Moonalice Interview: Music Technology and Art Discussion with Roger McNamee

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Moonalice continues their 2014 East Coast Tour this week. The band will be performing concerts in Connecticut and New York. I urge you if you are in the vicinity of any of these events to come out and see Moonalice perform live.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014, Fairfield, C.T., StageOne

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014, New York City, N.Y., The Cutting Room

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Thursday July 31, 2014, Norfolk, C.T., Infinity Music Hall

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I had a 75-minute Web discussion with Roger McNamee last week. I am providing “teaser” highlights of the interview that further explains Moonalice’s command of music technology. The next intent is to publish the “entire interview” along with the Moonalice Infinity Music Hall July 31st concert review at the end of the week.

It was my sincere hope that Roger McNamee and I would mesh as music technologists and rock music poster fans. When you read the interview Q&A I’m proud to say that goal was met. Roger is an affable person who openly shared his love for music, people, society and art throughout our conversation.

Question 1: Does Moonalice plan to make recordings available in high-resolution audio for Neil Young‘s PonoMusic?

Roger: It’s a great question. When we did our first album, Moonalice with T Bone Burnett the answer was an emphatic Yes! We recorded it on an optimized audio DVD with the music in high-resolution stereo 24/96 WAV. The expectation was that you had a mega DVD which had images that went by while you were listening to it, etc. As it turned out T Bone Burnett was nominated for a Grammy as Producer of the Year for our album and T Bone Burnett’s recording. His pioneering work with packaging, high-resolution and high-end masters gained him that recognition. (The album was produced using XOΔE (CODE), a high fidelity audio standard and optimization system created by Producer Burnett.)  

We’re very focused on high-definition video, 1080p and we embed the audio into the video so the high-resolution audio is there. When we got started T Bone, Bono and I were working on a project designed to help artists in a very meaningful way. The first album started us on this commitment with what I knew about technology and anything that came along to see what we could do with it. This notion where we can produce live concert videos at 10% of normal cost was really exciting, the math starts to be pretty interesting.

Can I just tip my hat to you? You are the first person to ask me about high-definition audio and its significance in at least five years.

Questions 2: What is the next technological achievement that you seek to achieve with Moonalice?

We’re more likely to do vinyl before we do another experiment in high-resolution audio. Within our fan base there is a really serious market for vinyl. I believe oddly enough a larger percentage of our fans would be interested in ultra high-definition audio if we could figure out how to deliver it. (We discussed Neil Young and PonoMusic at length which I will include in the full Web audio interview.)

Question 3: I wanted to ask if you would give more information about the Haight Street Art Center?

We created the Haight Street Art Center, okay. The reason you can’t find any information about it is because we haven’t said anything. But I’m really happy to talk about it. The original notion is that I am somebody who has always loved studio art. I always loved poster art from the first time I saw it in the sixties. When I moved to San Francisco in the seventies I had no money at all. But posters weren’t expensive in those days you could get one for $15, a first printing was $25, I could afford that.

T Bone told us we should be part of the San Francisco psychedelic roots ethos. I suggested we should be doing rock poster art. I spoke with Chris Shaw, a natural leader with great organizational skills about how can we create posters for the band. Chris then helped us produce a poster for every show, 100 posters a year and we’re up to 735 different posters now. Wow!

We’ve now had 24 posters artists do posters for us, at least half get 50-100% of their income from that poster art. The problem became how do we get their poster art to be appreciated as fine art and put them in a position to make fine art.

What I realized is that we had to move from doing mass volume posters in offset printing to make great screen art and lithographs. What really came together was that we needed a museum, promotional infrastructure and printing capabilities. The Haight Street Art Center becomes that reality. (There is more to this benevolent art story which I will share later this week.)

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Roger McNamee, Moonalice

Yesterday I had the rare opportunity to share an open, frank discussion, one hippie music technologist to another with Roger McNamee of Moonalice.

I am writing an article about Moonalice that will include that interview for their Infinity Music Hall concert which takes place on Thursday July 31, 2014.

I looking forward to saying hello to Roger and the band, then watching them do their magic that evening.

Here is a video clip of Moonalice to tide us over until then 😉

Rest in Peace, Larry Ramos of The Association

I am saddened to share that Larry Ramos of The Association has passed away. He was my favorite member of The Association.

We had the good fortune to meet Larry Ramos after a wonderful concert by The Association at Infinity Music Hall in Norfolk, Ct. in 2010. He spoke with us after the show and showed a warm, friendly smile. It was an honor to meet him that evening.

Here is the group photograph that Larry Ramos and his fellow The Association band mates signed that night. We are blessed to have such a memento.

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The music of our heart goes out to his family, fellow band mates, his fans and his management.

Larry Ramos goes to prepare a place for us.

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Donna The Buffalo Tonight at Infinity Music Hall

One of the rewards of a devout music fan and journalist is meeting the artists who perform the music. I was recently asked to write about the band Donna The Buffalo and their new album, today, tomorrow and yesterday. Tonight will be my initiation to join and dance with The Herd (a self-organized “tribe” of people who meet at the group’s concerts and festivals) at Infinity Music Hall.

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The article I am writing will feature an interview with the band and a concert review.

Right now I’m sitting here in the beautiful Infinity Bistro, having soup and a salad before the show. The food is always delicious here. If you ever attend a concert at Infinity Hall be certain to include time for one of their great meals 🙂

I’m eager for the concert to begin. My plan is to publish the concert review and interview with Tara Nevins and Jeb Puryear sometime this week.

Sipping my tea and thinking of how the music will set us free 😉

Donna The Buffalo – Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday

I love to witness musicians that dedicate themselves to their craft and their fans. Donna The Buffalo is a band that has performed music for close to 25 years. They will soon release their 10th studio album, Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday on June 18th via Sugar Hill Records.

Donna The Buffalo is founding members and songwriter-vocalists Jeb Puryear (vocals, guitar) and Tara Nevins (vocals, guitar, fiddle, accordion, scrubboard) in turn joined by band members David McCracken (Hammond organ, clavinet), Kyle Spark (bass) and Mark Raudabaugh (drums)

“We tried to do the record and keep in tact the things people love about us,” says Puryear. “We’re really excited to start sharing Tonight, Tomorrow and Yesterday,” adds Nevins, “because making this record was a very personal process that was also a lot of fun.

Their first video for the new album and The Herd is called, “I Love My Tribe“.

Donna The Buffalo is scheduled to appear at Infinity Music Hall in Norfolk, Ct on Sunday July 14, 2013. Its a lovely, intimate venue featuring great acoustics and quality line of sight viewing. I urge you to come out to see the band if you are in that neck of the woods that weekend. 🙂

Littlewolf

I made this gem of a music discovery today. Littlewolf is the name of the group. They perform blues tinged with country. Their sound is sharp and magnetic. Give them a listen and see if you agree ;)

They will be appearing at Infinity Music Hall in picturesque Norfolk, Connecticut on Sunday June 16th at 7:30 p.m. Prices are reasonable $20-$30 per person.

Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY Plans Triumphant 2012 Return, Part I

The concert venue that started me on my journey to attend live music events for 42 years is the Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY. It was a haven of great music in the early 1970s. I attended 12 concerts there from 1970 through 1974. I am elated to learn The Capitol Theatre will resume its preeminent role as a concert venue in our market in 2012.

The New York Times music section featured an informative article yesterday about The Capitol Theatre titled, “Live Music to Return to a Storied Theater” by C.J. Hughes. (See Related Articles link below).

The gist of the article is that Peter Shapiro who owns the Brooklyn Bowl plans to produce 100 performances a year there. The Capitol will undergo a two million dollar, four-month renovation project. This could translate into a late spring/early summer grand re-opening. Peter Shapiro is also the publisher of Relix magazine, which provides excellent coverage of the jam band scene.

I’ve never been to the Brooklyn Bowl but my son has and he really likes the venue. I am a long time reader of Relix. The magazine does a fine job of covering the alternative and rock music scene. Peter Shapiro is very well-connected in the music industry and this bodes well for us concert goers. The addition of The Capitol to the New York/Connecticut market sharpens the competition for the concert dollar. I think this may cause a couple of existing promoters to be more price competitive now.

The proximity of The Capitol Theatre in Portchester, NY was beneficial for Fairfield County Connecticut residents. The lower drinking age of 18 just across the state line made it attractive to see shows there. Portchester was more adjacent than The Fillmore East in the East Village of New York City. I find it amazing that Howard Stein was able to book so many premium top rock acts at The Capitol in lieu of New York City and Bill Graham’s organization. It’s going to get interesting with Connecticut having so many venues in 2011, such as the casinos, The Ridgefield Playhouse, The Klein and The Fairfield Theatre and Infinity Hall. My concert dance card will be full later on in the 2012 season. 🙂

The NY Times Capitol Theatre article motivated me to finally write this music blog post. In order to do the topic justice, I will break the blog post in two parts. As a faithful progressive music listener, I would heard The Capitol Theater radio advertisements on WNEW-FM 102.7. My second concert at The Capitol was Traffic, Silver Metre and Swallow on June 27, 1970. We attended the 8 p.m. early show. I was fortunate to be able to buy tickets in those days at a local head shop in Norwalk, Ct. The shop owner always offered us seventh-row center seating.

The English Rock Groups at The Capitol Theatre

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Traffic and Jethro Tull were my favorite two bands in 1970. I recall that Steve Winwood wore a long sleeve white t-shirt that was covered in silver stars. It was a shirt I would later buy at the same head shop that sold me tickets and wear it the next time we saw Traffic, much to Steve Winwood’s chagrin. (He kept looking over at me puzzled where I got the shirt I was guessing…) Traffic consisted of Steve Winwood on Hammond B3 organ, guitar and vocals, Chris Wood on saxophone and flute and Jim Capaldi drums and vocals.

Notice on the bootleg cover that Steve Winwood is wearing the shirt I mentioned in the picture from that night. The two songs I remember the most from Traffic’s set were “40,000 Headmen” with Chris Wood playing the flute and “Pearly Queen”, which featured Steve Winwood performing a riveting guitar solo.

Our third concert was Jethro Tull, McKendree Spring and Livingston Taylor which again was an early show. Jethro Tull featured their third album Benefit that night. It was my second time seeing Jethro Tull (the first time was at The Fillmore East in July of 1969). It was our first Livingston Taylor concert. Little did we realize we would see Liv nine more times in later years. We bought his first record on Capricorn Records the following day as we fell in love with his music and charming wit.

I am going to go out of chronological order here to collect the acts we saw at The Capitol Theatre under the proper headings. We saw Traffic again on Halloween night, 10/31/70.  By then Traffic was increasing strongly in popularity due to FM airplay and the chart success of John Barleycorn Must Die. We noticed that the audience was more enthusiastic the second time we saw Traffic. It felt like a band I had treasured for my listening pleasure was beginning to move out of my reach. But isn’t that the way it’s supposed to work in music industry circles.

We experienced this again six months later with Jethro Tull on 4/27/71 at the late show. Aqualung was receiving lots of accolades from the music critics and was getting heavy airplay on FM stations like WNEW-FM and WPLJ-FM out of New York City. My request to interview Ian Anderson and the band for our local college radio station was turned down the day of the concert by their publicist. She felt we were too small a radio station and market for the fast rising Jethro Tull. The audience was ravenous for Tull that night and I could feel the band being swept along by the success of Aqualung. Having been a loyal fan of Jethro Tull for three years I should have been psyched for their greater acceptance instead of feeling like others were tearing them away from our midst.

It proved monumental that The Capitol Theatre served as the launchpad for the fueling rocket success of Traffic and Jethro Tull in America.

Part II of my music blog about The Capitol Theatre early concert years will be posted tomorrow. It will cover the San Francisco era with such bands as Santana, The Grateful Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Jefferson Airplane, Hot Tuna and Big Brother and the Holding Company.