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December 31, 2009

2009 growth

End of the year numbers for this website. I like that upward trend. Thanks for visiting.

Also, thanks for downloading. And linking. Commenting. I used to be afraid that people coming here would think "aw, what a poor, sad little web site- no comments. I'll bet hardly anybody comes here". Thanks again.

The thing is, it isn't about the numbers, but what kind of numbers. If you run a website and want a lot of numbers, all you have to do is post about celebrities. And sex. It's such a winning combination, all the news shows are doing it.

Here's another chart, for December of this year- the "time per visit" chart.

December time chart

As you can plainly see, the bulk of the visits here are under 30 seconds long. Unless these people are on very fast "tubes", I discount these visits as being from people who instantly realize that this isn't the celebrities and sex site they were looking for. From 30 seconds to 5 minutes the numbers are pretty low- less than 5%. But then look what happens.

From 5 minutes to more than an hour is 20% of the visits. I've got to assume that these are people who either got up to use the bathroom and forgot to come back or who are interested in reading/listening to stuff that's on here. It's the length of attention that matters, not the raw numbers, and one out of five visitors actually spending time here sounds good to me!

Well, that's about it for the year. Most important, thanks, sponsors! There aren't a whole lot of you yet, but every one of you helps to keep this mess running. Every day I read about how the record industry is failing, about where will new music, good music, come from, and I am more and more convinced that we are doing the right thing, that we are the future of music- at least a good part of it, anyway. Now, if you would each kindly sign up 2 of your friends...

Hey- need a rockin' tune for your party? Here's a new featured song by Dark 30.

Happy New Year!



 
December 28, 2009

Here's Ralph Toro again. Over the years this is one that he's whittled down as he removed elements from the song he felt were not working right. I've taken the liberty of posting the most complete version I have. In fairness, it's an incomplete work- I don't have a version with an intro.

It's one of Ralph's piano-based songs, and there are two parts to it- the romping verse part and vamp-y chorus part. There's a cool sort of guitar (or bass) accent line, and as usual, a clear, precise vocal.

This may have been one of the first Toro songs I ever heard, so the sound of it and the effort he's put into it are in many ways essential to his style for me.

Watered Down.mp3

Watered Down.ogg



 
December 26, 2009

This one is hard. I'm not sure I've pulled it off. Maybe it's about 3/4 of the way there.

The hard thing is finding a path that doesn't lead directly to Neil Youngland. This is something Freedy Johnston found a way to do. I'm trying to be like Freedy, learning to cry when the red light's on.

Freedy has one great advantage. He's created a mythical Freedy-land where his losers and loners can cavort, without actually reflecting on himself. It's his great talent. Me, I'm not so good, and can only tell you things I know about first-hand.

Of course, there may be some embellishments here and there...

Meet Me At The Grange.mp3

Meet Me At The Grange.ogg



 
December 25, 2009

black cat number one


My friend Steve asked if I ever spend time on the Google Streetview thing. Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. I now know where a black cat crossed their path. I wonder if there's any more of these?



 
December 23, 2009

Kregger was over last night and we had a blast, re-recording vocals and guitar on his latest song and re-mixing Still Making Sunshine, one that's been around for a while now. Plus I got to hear a slew of his tales from the early years. Maybe I was thinking of that earlier, because I began writing a song yesterday about an experience I once had at a grange...

There's a bunch of Christmas songs from the studio that we post every year. The list keeps growing- enjoy.

santa and angel

Here's Dr. Mo and a bluesier side of the season:

Santa, Bring My Baby Back To Me   mp3  or  ogg

My Christmas Tree is Hung with Tears   mp3  or  ogg

Next up, that Ezra Shade with his well-loved song- it's even a ring-tone!

Christmas Time   mp3  or  ogg

Then there's Ralph Toro and a bunch of kids.

Season of Joy   mp3  or  ogg

And finally, Mr. Robert Bobby, who adds a new one to the mix this year.

Regifting Your Love   mp3  or  ogg

River   mp3  or  ogg

Four Inches and Dreaming (currently featured)   mp3  or  ogg

Merry Christmas!



 
December 19, 2009

We are having a bit of snow here today. We passed the four inches mark sometime before 3 pm. Anyway, it's a good time to roll out a new featured song, this one by Robert Bobby, with Bill Nork playing the dobro.



 
December 18, 2009

Back in the day there was a thing about letting your "freak" flag fly. It's a line from a David Crosby song, but it wasn't really about your haircut. Being a freak meant breaking out of type, whereas being a "hippie" could be summed up with some well-chosen items of apparel, drugs, and dogma.

So there never was "a" freak flag, but thousands of individual freak flags. Mainly, a freak flag was more about something you did than about something you wore or carried with you. But if there was to be an actual freak flag for this studio, this would be it- the Steam Powered Banner.

Steam Powered Banner


(later)

I did the best I could to bring this in by midnight... The freak anthem.

Hail To The Freaks.mp3



 
December 17, 2009

I was given a new digital camera this week. You might expect I'd be posting some more of my "taken out the window of my car" shots. You'd be right.

snow trees

Cameras are a lot more different from each other than guitars are. This one has got slightly more megs-o-pizzles, a slightly weaker optical zoom, a shorter shutter lag, a better low-light response...

shop

None of which means anything to me, other than I wanted something I could point out the window of a moving car and take better pictures than what I had been taking. But "better" is a relative thing...

waves

That's album art there, I think.



 
December 15, 2009

OK, well, the radio show continues, and we're beginning to get into some of that Old Road Hog material now, with Arthur in the role of Witchita, just'a kickin'er off, boy...

Arthur, What Have You Got.mp3

Now Arthur settles in a little bit on one, which might be a Deacon Brumfield tune of some sort...

Possible Hawaiian Chimes.mp3

The bandleader opts to save the day with a little humor and some singin'

Born To Lose.mp3


(later)

I just put three hours into a new mix for Still Makin' Sunshine. There is a lot of fun stuff on those tracks, and I wish I could keep going on it, but... later.



 
December 13, 2009

I was feeling a little down today- until I saw this.

fear salesman


Yes, he planted himself in the path of the Google "Streetview" photo van, with a portable sign for his band. I think he actually pulled this off twice- let me know if you find his other location.



 
December 12, 2009

Greetings to our Russian visitors! I should have run this graphic for the Ramblers gig.

Sporting Hill Ramblers


We're suddenly getting a bunch of hits through Yandex, a popular Russian search engine. Yandex is spelled like this- yandex, which I understand is a play on the
"i-Something" trend in naming things on the web.

Between the Russians and the Chinese I have no idea what they are finding on this site that interests them. If you speak Russian or Chinese (and English), please write to me and let me know how and why you found Steam Powered. I'd love to have some of your money!

Yandex offers a web page translator which returns some interesting results...

in Russian


Dr. Mo is getting a lot of downloads lately. We'll be posting those sort of seasonal songs in a little while. It's still too early for that, as far as I'm concerned.



 
December 11, 2009

Damn, I am slow! Around here it can take a long time to complete a project. Joe Ellis and I worked for three years on his To Not Have Been Misunderstood CD. The Gadjo Playboys latest is inching forward, and may be done in two. Robert Bobby still hasn't finished the ultimate Christmas album, and that's been about ten years so far.

And yet here's Olds Sleeper, working all by his self, he's put out another new record before I had a chance to listen to the last one. And started a new website besides. And done some videos. Doesn't sleep, I guess.

I'm going to feature the first song we did here. Call it entry-level Sleeper if you will- this was recorded before I understood the sort of thing it was 'sposed to be. We did three songs here, and the last one was getting closer to full-strength, but was done at just about the speed of thought. Olds needs to move faster than that.

So he's been recording on his own and just cranking it out. The album I just listened to is rise and rust and it keeps you listening. It can be downloaded, and so can the latest one, and the upcoming ones, right here. Better hurry.



 
December 10, 2009

Sporting Hill Ramblers


They tell me I'm the mayor of Sporting Hill. I don't believe this, but if I were to run for the position, I know a winning platform- Whatever It Is, I'm Against It.

The Ramblers will be appearing at McCleary's Pub tomorrow night at 9:00.

(later- meat and per-tater)

NPR has been running a series on music, and today it was about the demise of the big pro studio. This is a sad thing, to be sure, but the good thing is that people are inventing new ways to work, like the project they featured from Philly, the Weathervane Music Organization. Weathervane records songs for bands and they make videos of the process. Funds are raised for this purpose via Kickstarter (and via gear manufacturers, I see). Private sponsors get different rewards based on their level, stuff like VIP performances and whatnot. The videos are great! I love to see other people at work.

Thanks, Bert, for remembering your old friend this time of year with another sponsorship.



 
December 08, 2009

bullwinkle


Craig Wise stopped in tonight and we laid down tracks for one new song and added some new lyrics on another one. A good time was had by all, I believe. Dr Doug is hereby invited to play some mando on the love song



 
December 06, 2009

I played around a bit with the new amp. Here's a thirteen second long segment of a song I'm working on, using a Les Paul through the Kona's distortion channel. I had to turn off the reverb for this- it seems that the little thing has that reverb tank screwed tight to the bottom of the cabinet, and it tends to get to shaking along with the vibrations of the speaker cabinet. Weird sounding that way.

Barroom Blues Intro.mp3


I'll be "shock mounting" that reverb unit soon. The amp hangs in there with the Les Paul, breaking up fairly smoothly, and yes, it's cheesy transistors, not tubes, but life isn't all tubes, now is it? I mic'ed the front and back of the amp and spread the pan a bit- I left the mics in phase, which gives it more midrange, but really they should be mixed out of phase (when you're not channeling Thin Lizzy) because the sound coming out the back of an amp is 180 out of phase with the sound coming out of the front. Imagine that!



 
December 05, 2009

Some Harvard prof has done a study finding that people prefer to pick and chose which songs they pay for, rather than be saddled with an entire album they may not want. Imagine that.

Making a living by selling songs is a piss-poor way to go. Obviously, even the majors, with (at least technically) the best product and talent and seeming unlimited promotional budgets, are barely able to eek out a profit when they bundle in (and charge you for) a bunch of songs you don't want. Sponsorship, baby!

Speaking of which, here's a word from our sponsors- Six Frets....

Ronnie Cook A Word From Our Sponsors.mp3

Next up on the radio program, Armour joins in on a harmony- another song that had to be shortened due to the antics of some kids recording themselves onto dad's tape.

Ronnie Cook You Are My Flower.mp3

We close this portion of the show with a fiddle tune. By half-way through whoever it was that was stompin' their feet gives up and we actually get to hear Ronnie play!.

Ronnie Cook Sally Goodin.mp3


(later)

my little Kona

I'm having a hard time getting a picture of my new amp that will give you a sense of the size of it. It's pretty small- 14" by 15" by 7" deep. It fits in a laundry basket- it almost fits in that cooler there. For its size it delivers an amazingly big sound.

It's My First Kona. Or, it's My Little Kona. Whatever it is, it has an 8" speaker and a real spring reverb tank. I think the reverb is what convinced me to buy it. That and the fact that is was used and cheap. But is has "channel switching" and reverb and a headphone output that also works as a direct out, and real metal knobs and real metal corners... and a built-in guitar tuner.
Gee, dad!  It's a Kona!


How can you pass up a cheesy amp with all of this for under $50?



 
December 03, 2009

Can you feel it? I think that stimulus is starting to have an effect. Tuesday Craig re-sponsored the studio, and last night John joined up. Thanks, guys!

(later)

David and Gillian


Isn't she gorgeous? And she sings even prettier than she looks.

That's Gillian Welch, of course, with David Rawlings, her partner in music behind her. Now, Gillian is something of an icon among certain musical circles I run in, and she stone knocks me out with her songwriting and her uncommon sensibilities. One thing about her always bugged me though, and that is her song about file-sharing, Everything Is Free.

I could never figure out why it bugged me so much, but then today she was interviewed on NPR about it, and forced me to think about what it was about it. I decided that it's her sense of entitlement.

And I don't mean it's a flaw with her. If anyone is entitled to make a living making music it's Gillian Welch. I think the flaw is in the system which allows someone who as deserving as she is to be cut out of their living. It isn't because people are listening to her music for free- it's because they could be supporting her work directly if they only knew how.

But no- Gillian wants to make me feel real bad because I have her first record and I didn't pay for it. I didn't download it though- I got it on cassette, from a friend, who wanted me to hear this amazing music they'd discovered. Guess what- that free tape made a life-long fan out of me. Let us sponsor your career directly, Gillian, and drop this whole selling records idea. Please.



 
December 01, 2009

We'll start the first day of the last month with a new featured song, the next in the series by Ralph Toro. Ralph is a man of mystery. I'm not certain when or where this recording was done, but it sounds to me like The Single. It's the tightest and best produced of the songs I've heard by him. This might be something he'd done with his band Zane Trace when they did their LA thing, or something he did there after the band broke up.

There are some musical themes in this one that you'll hear again in his music. The basic harmonica riff shows up in an instrumental mix he calls Goes Without Saying from a different session and some lyrics from this song wind up in others... I've had a hard time keeping them all straight!

Every now and then I look around to see what Britney Moore is up to. Back around 2003 Steam Powered was being hosted at Online Rock, a free service, and among the bands there was this kid from North Carolina who had made her own CD. I thought it was pretty good, in that quirky, home-made way I like, but when I went to order it she had sold all the copies. Well I guess she's made some more. I came across a review of it, and found out she's got it on CD Baby, where you can hear some samples. And now I've got my copy...

I'm slow. I just found out who did the amazing soundtrack for Eraserhead- Alan Splet.



 
Featured Song:

#72
Dark 30
One Lucky Roll


mp3  or  ogg

4:52
 
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