No need for “making of the band” when the band is made.

Crew…
Hello. I hope this post finds u well. Over the last year or so, I’ve been having more and more discussions on the evolution of music, specifically commercial music, be it pop, urban contemporary, hip-hop, and the like. Many of you know I am a musician, and have been one since I was a teen (can you spot me??dont laugh!)

Black Frost, circa 1975

That being said, I’ve seen the evolution of R&B as I grew and played in different groups in college, even up until now. What I have also seen over the last 18 or so years, in R&B, is the decline of “the band” in this genre of music. When I say band, I don’t mean the loosely used term as in “boy band” (98 Degrees, NKOTB, etc) or as in “making of the band” (Day 26, Danity Kane, etc)…I mean as in the classical term of band…singers/musicians (SOS Band, The Time, Lakeside, Dynasty, EWF…etc).

I’d say the only ‘band’ that is mainstream in R&B is considered to be The Roots. I would define it otherwise, but I believe that definition is probably the most accurate. I say that there is no specific front man for The Roots (save Questlove, who is known to be the name one thinks of when The Roots are mentioned).

I could go on about why the decline of the band has taken place, with respect to the evolution of the music industry for the urban contemporary/R&B genre, but that is enough for another post. What I would like to do is post a quick video of who I consider to the only real band left in R&B that has toured consistently since their debut in 1991 on Jam and Lewis’ Flytetyme recording label: Mint Condition

I wont get on my soapbox about my luv for MC (you really don’t want that…LOL), but I will post some serious video clips of some original and cover material that they did specifically for AOL’s Black Voices. To me, Mint Condition is, and always will be, the “definition of a band”

Here’s MC doing Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Runnin’ ” …enjoy.

peace,
F!

Location Awareness – GPS can be cool but…..

Technology…the continuing boon of mankind, especially in the advent of wired AND wireless communication. I use four primary wireless communication devices: A Mac G5 Dual processor desktop and/or Mac G4 desktop, a laptop (Toshiba Satellite and Powerbook G4) with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, my Blackberry Curve smartphone, and an iPod Touch 2G. The creation of the Air Force’s Global Positioning System, or GPS has allowed anyone on the earth to determine exactly where they are on the earth. Since then, many vendors have manufactured GPS-enabled devices to harness this technology. Fast forward to today with the many uses of wireless devices and software applications developed for and embedded into cellphones, pdas, etc and you have the capability to now share with the world a very accurate representation of where you are in a very small envelope of time. Many of you reading this use this “apps” on a regular basis: Brightkite, Ubertwitter, Loopt, and tons of others allow not just people on your social networks, but the entire world, know where you are, depending on how you have your communication prefereneces configured for the location awareness app(s) you use. Many, if not all, of these apps allow you to send maps of where you are located based upon associated latitude and longitude coordinates given by the GPS system. You can send photos with your camera enabled device also associating your location. Frankly, I think it’s a fascinating aspect of communications technology that definitely bares its pros.

Last year I read a VERY good article in Wired Magazine about an iPhone user who decided to conduct a little experiment using the location awareness capability of his iPhone. The experiment was very interesting and for anyone interested in the social aspect of location awareness, I suggest it as recommended reading…the article is here.

As freely as it is used, I believe there should also be some thought in how freely one does use it. I’ve heard of many occasions where people tweeted, or otherwise posted there location over some timeframe which yield unfortunate results. One example was a business man who tweeted he was going on a business trip for a week and the location for the trip, only to return home and find his house…..robbed. Coincidence, maybe…but making your location easily aware to the public, along with the ancillary information u provided with it, should at least garner some thought as to what the consequences could be.

On a related note, I recently read a blog post by someone who I consider a super tech girl. (lol) and fellow Twitter user about how the EXIF data that digital cameras transmit (via wirelessly or not) can include the location and time of where that picture was taken (called “geotagging”) depending on if the hosting site of the pic strips out that data. One negative aspect of this is if the pic contained the outside of your house, or even the inside of it, complete with your VERY expensive belongings….you know where I am going with this. I also came across a great article on Lifehacker about how location awareness can change your life.

I love technology and embrace it, but the best uses of technology occur with the greatest exercise of common sense! Just some food for thought..stay hungry.

Thanks for the read….

peace,
F!

Welcome To The Sunday Soundtrack – 19 Jul 09 (UltraChilled)

Welcome listeners….

I hope this blog post finds you well. It’s a mellow Sunday evening here, nice way to round out a busy day. In the background, here in studio, is the latest mix from fleep, Summer, some very soulful global deep house….definitely suitable vibe for me any day of the week.

Speaking of week, the last one was extremely busy, just coming off a big software design review at work, and now getting ready for the resulting work thereof. This brings me to the desire to do a laid back mix, featuring an artist who I consider to me definitive example of chill….Afterlife. Here is a small excerpt from the official MySpace page:

“Steve Miller is Afterlife. The top UK Downtempo producer. The most played artist in Ibiza, at least at the beach bars and anywhere into lush, lilting, chilled and totally saturated sounds of impeccable taste. He is the sunset phenomenon, purveyor of deep and soulful music….”

The words above provide an impeccable description of the essence of Afterlife. Frankly I think the music will speak far better than anywords ever could. That being said, here’s what I have on tap for this episode:

1. Lovedub – Afterlife/The Afterlife Lounge
2. Clear Blue Sky – Afterlife/The St. Regis Chill & Groove
3. A Way (Original) – Afterlife/The Album, the Single Remixes, the Journey… Disc 1
4. Deeper – Into Places – Afterlife/Simplicity 2000
5. Breather 2000 (Arithunda Mix) – Afterlife/The St. Regis Chill & Groove
6. Speck of Gold – Afterlife/The St. Regis Chill & Groove
7. Return to Margin (Afterlife Mix) – Afterlife/The Afterlife Lounge
8. Shine – AfterLife ft Cathy Battistessa/The Blue Ba
9. Miracles – Afterlife

You can find much more about Afterlife at the following sites:

Afterlife (The Official MySpace Page)
Afterlife – The Official Website

Thanks for listening as usual, I highly appreciate it. I’ll be taking the next weekend off for some PRIME relaxation, but plan on returning in August. In the meantime, in case you missed the post, you can help me develop the playlist for the next Sunday Soundtrack. If you’re so inclined, check out the details here.

I hope whenever you’re listening to this, your in a cool state of mind. Look for you next time…

peace and blessings…

F!

Workin’ it Out In The Lab (AfterSix Productions)

freshsolo_so
Fresh and Solo reviewing the vocal track
Photo credit :DBassist

Hey people…

Hope all is good, and that is including your weekend. My partner and I had a recording session, more so a work session for one of the tracks from our upcoming last night. In studio was one of our vocalists, Solomon “Solo” Parker, workin’ out his part of a duet I wrote called Starting Over. I decided to bring you in on a small bit of what we were doing, and a lil bit of a blooper (we like recording those) as well.

Dan and Solo working out the lyrical flow
Dan and Solo working out the lyrical flow….

Pretty happy about how the end monologue is developing:

For some reason, my digital audio interface had the hiccups (crazy…broken… šŸ˜‰ ):

The CD project is moving along, though it’s been a long timecoming. We plan on dropping it before the end of the year. Stay tuned for the official website launch

peace….

Doug

Feenin’ for my satellite radio…ugh

satellite1

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post, so….hello! LOL.

For the last week or so, I’ve been in a rental car while my regular ride is in the body shop. While I miss my regular auto and all the amenities therein, I really miss my satellite radio.

Mannnn….with the variety of programming provided by satellite radio, I really have found out how much I miss it when I start listening to…………urban contemporary radio. I’m really not hatin’ and yes I am post 40 years old but….where… is the talent in today’s urban contemporary R&B??? Somebody? The keyword, I believe, in this phrase is “contemporary”, which in itself (by default) describes the state of today’s R&B…most of it anyway.

Technology has made it such that anyone with some modest computer skills or (hardware and/or software) can compose music (if you want to call it that, in some instances)…or “beats” (ugh). Ok, a good deal of you reading this know I am a musician. I play three instruments, guitar, bass, and keyboards, in that order. Beats…..are what I know to be the drums and percussions in a song. Me, I like to make “beats” as part of my songs. Am I clownin’ the phrase “beats” (a term that has become all encompassing in computer and electronic music production systems), yeah…I am. I’m clowning it only because making popular music today, especially in the urban circles, has been really watered down and devoid of any true musical knowledge of theory and arranging. Gone (in urban music) is “the band”…the only known remnant of such today would be….The Roots. In no other genre (save genres of electronic dance music which never had bands anyway, except in the early days with the likes Devo, Kraftwerk, etc) of music is “the band” really dead, especially rock and country music. I think that fact draws a direct correlation to the lack of *musical* talent in popular urban contemporary music.

Is there anything *wrong* with where urban contemporary music has evolved to? No, I don’t think so. I do think that the music has evolved, but incompletely…the “talent” was left behind for the most part. I believe hip-hop has had the greatest evolution of any genre that I have listened to (especially being a listener BEFORE it went commercial radio). The evolution of those in charge of A&R has a great deal to do with where the music is as well. For years the marketing of R&B as long been about what the street says is hot…flash and show vs talent. Long gone are the long multiyear contracts for artists for various reasons, but with that leaves the great anticipation of your favorite artist coming out with a release of jams every year (I know some of u remember this….(wink)).

The music industry has evolved, as a whole, not necessarily for the best (in my own mind). I don’t think listeners in their 20’s would necessarily agree but, just as I was, it’s what you’re are continually force fed (as is said) or exposed to commercially that you determine as normal, and even good.

I’m sure my parents and yours would probably expound on the state of music I grew up on as teenager/young adult, in the same way I am in this post. I think the difference here versus then would be the inclusion of actual musical talent in what I was growing up listening to, versus what is prevalent now. There was a surge of “neo soul” that was big, seems like we just came off the “throwback” era of current artists bringing back that true soul sound (I actually like Raphael Saadiq’s “100 Yard Dash), etc…but they don’t appear to be fueled by the record industry with respect to what is “hot” and selling.

In defense of urban contemporary music, I would never say it takes no talent to create what is in heavy rotation. It does take talent to leverage the technology of recording to manifest the end product, it’s the theory, love and joy of learning to compose on a musical instrument that is lacking. I, too, am an electronic musician as well and love some of the genres that are strictly electronic (hence my features of such on my weekly podcast). I think the advent of technology will continue to make such a desire to learn an instrument diminish as times go by…IF…such a desire is not kept alive through various means (people and programs, etc).

As for satellite radio and especially internet radio, they both give a welcomed alternative to commercial radio. Couple that with the state of music distribution via the internet, the entire recording industry IS evolving. I miss my XM, not just because I dont have to deal with commercials every 10 mins either. I hope to have my ride back next week.

What are your thoughts?

peace…
F!

Welcome To The Sunday Soundtrack – 12 July 08

picture-1
Photo Credit: Sandy Betts

Good day listeners….welcome to another edition of The Sunday Soundtrack. It’s a gorgeous day out (which lets u know I am actually doing this Sunday afternoon…ha!) In any event, I will definitely be partaking of some of this sunshine. I hope things are well were u are!

I’ve got a good mix of tracks for this edition, presented in my usual “rush hour” mix – uptempo (leaving work) to a slow pace (winding down at home). On tap is some Incognito, Blue Six, ORG Lounge, Keston and Westdal, and the like,

Kudos to my many listeners, especially those on Twitter, who continue to provide me with links and visuals to help my present this podcast in a unique way. Shout outs to my Facebook group members as well. Thanks for listening…Kristoff…much thanks for feeding my global goodness for the podcast. That being said, I present to u the playlist for 12 Jul 09:


I Can See The Future – Incognito/No Time Like The Future [Bonus Track]
Sanctuary – MJ Cole/Sincere
Reel Life (Evolution II) – The Cinematic Orchestra/Man With a Movie Camera
Good Morning London – Kaya Project/Elixir
Aquarian Angel – Blue Six/Aquarian Angel
Onikoroshi – Keston and Westdal/Super Structure Baby
Musikkvennen – ORG Lounge/Has It Come to This
Nobody Knows Me -Aya/Strange Flower
Florent 2 A.M – Blank & Jones/Relax Edition 3 (Sun) – EP
Right Is Right [Full Version] – Paradiso/Paradise II Paranoia

Another weekend come and gone. I enjoyed it, spent some time at the pool, working on some personal tracks in studio, advancing work on our CD project, etc. I hope that your weekend was as enjoyable, and that your work week is even better.

If you’re on Twitter and Facebopk, please feel free to follow The Sunday Soundtrack there as well. The links are in my blogroll….over there ——->

Keep it chilled…

peace,
F!

Welcome To The Sunday Soundtrack – 05 July 09

picture-2
Photo Credit: 2Serenity

Hello listeners….

Happy Independence Day weekend for those stateside. I hope it was and will continue to be safe. Welcome to this edition of The Sunday Soundtrack. I hope all is well with u.

This edition of the podcast brings an eclectic mix of ambient, electronica, latin vibes, and classic jazz onto the musical palette, so I hope that u can find a color to suit your mood. Per a recent conversation, I’ve got some Vikter Duplaix for one of my new listeners, Tiffany…I hope you enjoy the track. Jazz guitar great Kenny Burrell is on tap as well…that track goes out to fellow guitarist and Twitter buddy Ray Betts.

I’d like to take a moment to give thanks to all my listeners, globally and locally. I always appreciate the comments and encouragement in bringing this podcast to you on a regular basis. Props to my podcasting crew over there on the right, in my blogroll. They bring a style and finesse that oftern aspire to. Thanks for doin’ it big.

That being said, the playlist is as follows.

As Possible (feat. Baschin) – Chris Zippel/Genuine Horizon
Nowhere (Crazy P’s Heatwave Mix)/Aquanote Bare Essentials, Vol. 2
Around, Arrived – Chris Zippel/Genuine Horizon
Let Go – Kuba/Inside Out
The Number Readers – Subsurfing/Frozen Ants
Dentro De Cien Anos – The Metitxell Project/The Metitxell Project
Slight Accent – Ray Obiedo/Modern World
Another Great Love Gone By Featuring Esthero – Vikter Duplaix/Bold & Beautiful
Tenderly – Kenny Burrell/Lucky So And So

All the tunes above can be found on iTunes, and I am sure Amazon.com. The Sunday Soundtrack podcast is also available on iTunes.

Thanks for listening, as always. If you’re on Twitter and or Facebook, please feel free to follow me there as well. The links are to the left, in my blogroll.

Have a great week….keep it chilled.

peace,
Fresh

The Session…Jazzy vibes in The ‘Lab

The Lab.

So….I had a recording session tonite at The Lab. A fellow musician, friend, and talented keyboardist came by to record some original material he records live when we do sound checks early Sunday mornng…so much so, that he has 4 CDs of various musicians (including me) improvising over very nice arrangements he just comes up with as the audio crew gets us ready for the service.

What was cool about this session is that it was just him laying down keyboard tracks. I record in Logic Pro which really has some NICE drum loops across a great deal of genres, not to mention EXCELLENT acoustic and electric piano emulations as well.

About seven track were recorded, but only one, an uptempo tune with a Latin feel, used an acoustic piano. The rest we use a Suitcase Mk II Fender Rhodes electric piano….very nice….fit the vibe of the tunes perfectly. I couldn’t find specific drum loops to fit every track we recorded, but the absence thereof even lent a new feel to the track itself, in some cases.

I have some drum programming to do…looking forward to that in hopes of seeing what new life will be breathed into these songs….

It was good….very good.

peace,
F!