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June 28, 2009

A great artist has died. I've got to respect the work Jackson did, even though I'm not particularly fond of it. He was a great artist in the sense someone who worked hard and advanced his craft.

But there was something of the trained poodle in it. Same goes for those 12-year-old piano wizz kids you see on the 'tube. Working hard at control is what they do. Driving themselves and their bodies to the peak of their abilities. I'm much too lazy for that!

Maybe this new brain-reading technology will eliminate the need for all of that boring practice.

implantz      the box

It's for gamers right now, but why not hook this up to a couple of MIDI expression controllers and use it for vibrato, volume, timbre? Or maybe, as a technician, use it to remotely control the transport of a recorder, or set mix levels, or effects parameters?

I can't wait until I look as cool as this guy-

Dr Schuette

Silly, right? But why not? Hide those implantz under a fedora, or a Steve Van Zandt headscarf-

MJ    Willie    Stevie

You'll be the essence of cool when you THINK your next screaming guitar lick!

But seriously, I can easily imagine bio-feedback devices being used by musicians for live music performance. After all, they've been using the mood-enhancing stuff for years...

June 27, 2009

This one was the second one Friday- hey, a two-fer! I might call it Big Arm Blues because when you play that Fats right-hand on the pie-annie, after the third or fourth time through the song your forearm tends to swell up like Popeye!

Rough around the edges, but succinct. Again, recorded with the i-pod, but this time pretty heavily treated in Goldwave (what a great little editor that is) to remove some of the digital splat that I was getting due to how quietly I had to play. Darn thing needs an input pad, for sure! That sort of noise you hear in time with the music sometimes is actually my fat fingers hitting the keys- the sound of playing the keys almost as loud as the sound of the piano itself. I'll need to re-do this one... now who do I know plays bari sax...

Lost Love Blues

I know in my heart that my baby loves me so
I know in my heart that my baby loves me so
Because I feel like crying when she tells me she has to go

I get shivers in my fingers and shakes down in my knees
I get shivers in my fingers and shakes all in my knees
She won't have nobody else, she's so damn hard to please

If you see her out walkin' won't you tell her I said hello
If you see her out walkin' won't you tell her I said hello
And if she's with somebody, I don't have to know

Lost Love Blues.mp3

June 26, 2009

Not via angel this time, perhaps... I think it was because I was talking to Dr Mo last night, and he mentioned that he was getting his Bakersfield thing going. I woke up this morning, not with a Bakersfield vibe, exactly, but something from somewhere out west. More Oklahoma, probably.

Anyway, again I woke up with a song in my head. By the time I found my i-pod to make the recording, I had the line about fishing, and by the time I got the chords untangled, I had the hook.

It ain't rocket science, folks, and while this isn't the Illiad or anything. I have learned from the master that it doesn't really matter how trite your songs are, it's all in the delivery. Everyone feel free to take a crack at a verse, I'll be more than happy to share a credit. I feel that "walkin' in the park" scans well, also "run down to the store" (which is a particularly Pennsylvanian thing to do), or "underneath the pines", so those might inspire a rhyme or two.

My Pennsylvanian Girl

Fishing on a river
Sure has its charms
It don't match the feeling
When I hold you in my arms

I'll be alright
My Pennsylvanian Girl

She's got a lot of frontyard
Even more out back
Put it all together
There's nothing that we lack

Yes I'll be alright
With my Pennsylvanian Pearl


Sunny in the daytime
Sure gets dark at night
But long as we're together, I know
Everything's alright

(your verse here)

I'll be alright
My Pennsylvanian Girl

Pennsylvanian Girl.mp3

June 24, 2009

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Out here on the web there are some handy tools for keeping up to date with your favorite websites (like Steam Powered). I'm going to try to make one of them available here today. If you know what an RSS Feed is, then you should find this useful. If not, I'm not sure I am the best one to explain it, but it's something that checks to see if I've posted anything new here, then lets you know automatically. I think.

We'll give it a shot- there's a small version of this icon at the bottom of the left column there- click on it to add this site to your reader... I think...

June 23, 2009


Poor old Chuck Connors. Every week he'd have to live through the humiliation of being drummed out of the army. That tag line really got to me- "Wherever you go for the rest of your life, you must prove you're a man." It makes an impression on a ten-year-old.

That TV show was about being branded a coward, and it showed us that the fear of being branded is a highly motivating force, a fear that can even pass itself off as bravery. We viewers knew that Chuck was not a coward, but we witnessed the hell that his life had become, fair or unfair. Maybe we came to question the idea of branding itself.

Going meta like that was big in the 60's. The system was flawed. People were being branded unfairly! Old standards of conduct were being questioned. Meanwhile the art of branding was being refined, new pathways to the heart were being discovered. I'm talking about branding as a marketing tool.

June 19, 2009

A new featured song, by a guy known to some of his close associates as "Psycho".

Kenny relaxing

A good song for summer, I think. No timeless heroes, yeah.

June 16, 2009

Yes, this actually came to me via angel...

Why would you not believe that?

The 8-Fold Path.mp3      The 8-Fold Path.ogg

June 14, 2009

Sort of more practical, here... I was trying to transfer some piano improv over to a computer, so that I could edit a few timing errors. It's been sort of hard to do this.

The piano would not talk to the computer. I had to use the "upstairs" computer to save this song. I downloaded some nice software, called Reaper, that helped make this happen.

Here's two versions of that piece. One is being played by the Yamaha, the other by the Kurzweil. Which do you like better?

User2 on Yamaha.mp3

User2 on Kurzweil.mp3

(This piano improv stuff is fun- not sure if it's excusable! But years ago I was trying out for a band that Tom Stumpf was going to manage and a bunch of us met at his parent's house on the Marietta Pike to run through some material. One of the players failed to show so there was no attempt at forming a band that day, but I did get to hear Kirk Evans play some improv at the baby grand piano that was there. It was amazing to me- he probably played for ten minutes or so, and was never boring or predictable. Someday maybe I too will be able to do this...)


Here's another one- I forgot about the new Kurzweil, I forget that it's a piano, too. Actually, it's probably the same samples as the older one, but the older one has some sort of distortion happening that I just noticed. Here's the K 2661 playing that same improv. (And, thanks Doug, yes that old file was inadvertantly coded at the wrong sample rate, and it does make a big difference! I also tried to get the levels close to the same this time- people generally think that the louder thing is better. It's just the way we're wired. User2 on Kurzweil.mp3 is now at the same sample rate as the others)

User2 on Kurzweil 2661.mp3

June 13, 2009

I am trying to stay up to date with my movie watching. Yesterday I watched Blowup. Today I'm trying to figure it out a bit.

It's about Antonioni and his art, of course. The visuals are stunning, still fresh. This was his genius.

The plot, the actors, all of that was merely a framework to hang his images from. The same way that the photographer, Thomas, hangs his images from the framework in his studio.

He stands back to admire them, to judge the SEQUENCE of them for his book, how they look next to each other, what story they tell.

In the process he discovers a truth. It's contained IN the images, not in the sequence or story he seeks. He's saying that truth is in the pretty pictures themselves, not in the story. This is essential.

The rest of the movie describes how impossible it is for him to get people to see the truth he sees. In the end he questions whether it was ever there, or what it matters.

Stepping back, now, and we are left with the effects. His images are still striking- they function at this direct level as well as ever. It is difficult at times to know what decade it's in. We still seem to live in the world that was created in the 60's.

If taken to its conclusion, Antonioni means us not to see the story as being ABOUT art and the nature of truth and communication. He means the movie to BE true. We may not know, or be able to effectively communicate, what that truth is, but he has done his best to frame it. You are to decide what it is, or even if it is, for ourselves.

One more thing that strikes me is that none of the criticism I've read so far makes the (seemingly obvious) comparison between this movie and La dolce vita. Fellini also seemed to convey the sense that the message was entirely in the images passing before us, and not in the storyline. Same swinger/cynical leading man, same pretty women, same mute ending...

June 10, 2009

Well, despite how slow things move around here, I actually like working fast. This afternoon I discovered this interesting thing about the Simi Valley way out west in California. Seems that this outfit called Rocketdyne did a lot of work up in the hills there in the 40's and 50's, and some of it wasn't exactly healthy.

Now, the first thing you notice about Simi Valley, if you look on Google, is that it's packed full of houses. It's this place up in the hills that must be wonderful, for all the people willing to live there. Yet just a little bit higher in the hills is this research facility where all sorts of spooky things have been going on for years.

Hey, ain't that America, yadda, yadda, yadda. Still, it inspired this song, and I hope to get that Jeff Gibble to lay down some amazing lead guitar...

Simi Valley Rocket Club Demo.mp3

June 06, 2009

Good ol' Robert Bobby stopped over to the studio this afternoon and we recorded his latest epic. Bobby and Joanie. Another MP3 by Midnight production.

Bobby and Joanie.mp3  or  Bobby and Joanie.ogg

June 03, 2009


Here's a setup I hadn't tried before- the table-top slide guitar thru the Traynor. Yes, that works.

This is probably going to be on a song built around something I overheard in a conversation. I happen to think it's one of the best blues lines ever- $32 a week to pay for my auto gas. We'll see how the rest of it goes, but so far I've got a recording of a diesel tractor that is playing a 6/8 shuffle, some piano, and this slide.

Mr Bobby has promised to come over and record his latest concoction, called (I think) Bobby and Joni. Oh, and speaking of that, I have one about a high maintenance woman that I'm working on. Sort of a different kind of high maintenance, tho...

June 01, 2009

I ended last month with some ideas about an application that would make it easier for people to keep track of their sponsorships- and of their sponsors. I've gotten some good feedback from that post, and while running down one of the references I found something from just over a year ago which is eerily similar to my idea of running this studio by lining up 3,000 sponsors- it's called 1,000 True Fans, a post by one of the founders of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly. Kevin follows his post up with a couple of examples and rebuttals, and there's some great comments, but there is one thing that brings this flighty bird of a great idea back to ground, and that is how very difficult it is to reach the number of people necessary to find 1,000 True Fans (or 3,000 sponsors).

When you consider that powering Steam Powered by sponsors has been a central interest of mine for many years, think what it means that it took a year from his (widely read) post hitting the net for me to have heard of it! The net is a wonderful thing, but it's huge, and many things disappear there or otherwise fail to connect. However, there is a silver lining to that...

A link from Kelly's page led to an article by Michael Jensen called The Deep Niche, in which he summises that Eventually, when every adult person is online (say, three billion people, a third of whom speak English), that deep niche audience will be a continuous, rolling market of special interests. On any given Wednesday, if 0.001%—one in a hundred thousand—of the English-speaking Web includes people who are newly interested in Elizabethan costumery, that’s still 10,000 people poking around online that day. Perhaps 0.2% of them—or 20—might be willing to purchase a high-value scholarly publication (with illustrations) on that topic. Even if only 0.01% of them actually make a purchase—one in ten thousand—that’s still one sale per Wednesday, and one sale a day, while not a bestseller, is still enough to be a business. If it were two or three a day, for most publications and publishers, life would be good.

Basically he's saying that there are a whole lot of people searching the web, passionately, every day, for something that interests them. That something is often music. That gives me a lot of hope for the future of this Steam Powered enterprise.

And on that hopeful note, here's a new featured song, Commit A Crime, by the eternally hopeful Willie Marble.

Featured Song:

Kenny Gross
The Taking

mp3  or  ogg

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Repairing a Kurzweil piano key.

Repairing a Tascam Porta-Two.

the End of an Era.


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May, 2009

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September, 2008

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