Moving Blog to Blogger

Posted in Music on April 28, 2008 by Michael

Hey everyone,

I’m moving my blog back to Blogger. I gave this a try here at WordPress. This is a really nice product. But apparently they haven’t solved the technical issue of allowing Flash widgets on their pages without exposing themselves to security issues. Google’s Blogger seems to handle this just fine.

I wish the kind folks at WordPress the best of luck with their product. I may move back when the Flash security issues are handled appropriately.

For now, the new blog address is:

http://stratscorner.blogspot.com/

Hope to see you there.

Michael

City of Plano’s Blues Festival A Huge Success – Part I

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2008 by Michael

Take note city planners. The secret to a successful outdoor festival seems obvious in hindsight. But the City of Plano has created the example for all to follow. The formula is simple. All it takes is:

  1. A first class venue.
  2. A family friendly environment.
  3. Great weather.
  4. A liberal and inviting attitude.
  5. The best bands in town.

According to the promoter, the City of Plano reports that “300 to 400 people were turned away because they were at full capacity.” Jim Weir also said that “the approx. total count of paid attendees and those sitting outside for free could have easily approached 1,600 to 1,700 people.” At $12 per ticket, well, you do the math.

If you read my earlier post on the Bowl Full of Blues, I was a bit surprised when I learned that the City of Plano was hosting a blues festival. But I did my part to help promote the show and secretly wished for the best. Privately, I worried that there would be another empty venue with a few hardcore blues fans and another missed opportunity. I soon learned my fears were unfounded.

The night began for my family with many questions. Our plans were to meet with some friends in Plano and head over to the amphitheater together. But my wife was sick and headed to the doctor in the morning. Based on the diagnosis, I felt there was little chance. But by the afternoon, the drugs seemed to be working and she seemed noticeably better. A few phone calls and the plan was back on. My wife made a run to Whole Foods and got snacks and dinner. I made a run to the beer store and loaded up the cooler with beer and wine. I heard that it might cool off later that night, so we packed some jackets and extra blankets. Then we were off to pickup the rest of our party.

Once we had our group together, we headed for the amphitheater in two cars. We arrived first and I went down to the box office to purchase our tickets. The line was modest. But I could already tell that attendance would be high. I was eager to get my hands on some tickets. When I reached the front of the line, I purchased tickets for my family and the man said, “ok, that’s it, I’m out.” I was about to walk away but stopped immediately. “You’re out”, I asked. Yep. He was completely out of tickets. I knew the other family we invited to the show would be arriving soon. But I couldn’t risk it. I asked the other ticket agents if they had any tickets. Only one lady had any left. I bought four more and went to find our group. If we had gotten there fifteen minutes later, we would not have gotten tickets. And the show hadn’t started yet.

Hash Brown and the Browntones at Oak Point AmphitheaterWe made our way down to the right side of the stage. The Oak Point Amphitheater is a gorgeous outdoor venue with a large professional stage and row after row of grassy seating areas. It is very clean and well maintained. And there really isn’t a bad seat in the house. We laid out our blankets and began to unpack the supplies and set up our little picnic.

People, when it comes to living the stereotype, we went all the way at this event. As my wife begins pulling food out of the bags and handing stuff out, I quickly realize this is not going to be your normal blues show. We’ve got two different types of fancy salsa and chips, a cheese tray, an assortment of fresh fruit, bread, fancy chicken salad, three bottles of wine and some beer for me. The challenge was getting the chicken salad on these tiny slices of foo foo bread. But hey, I had a cold beer in my hand and the show was about to start. I look over at my wife and smile. This is going to be a good night.

While we waited for the show to begin, I had a chance to take in the whole experience. As I’m sitting there eating my chicken salad and drinking a cold Land Shark Lager, our kids are playing down in the grassy area by the stage. We are surrounded by other families doing similar things. The sky is blue and the air was cool. It really was a great family experience.

This was also a prime people watching opportunity. I had already noticed several people I knew. I headed down to the side of the stage where I found many of the bands getting ready to go. There I saw the promoter, Bob Fisk, Blue Lisa, Rob Donavan, Sherman Allen, Jimmy Mac, Darrin Denney, Melinda Haggerty and David White. They all looked jazzed up and ready to go. I was so jealous, but happy at the same time that these guys and gals were going to get to play to this great crowd. There were more notables out in the crowd. I saw Roger Crisler of Crisler’s Guitar Repair, Scott Lepage and many many others. It was great to see all my friends out supporting the blues. I was in seventh heaven.

In Part II of the review, I will dive into the music and share my thoughts on the performances. I’m also collecting some great photos from shutterbug friends who were there. I’ll be sure and share those with you as well. So check back soon for Part II.
Michael

(photos courtesy of Rick Moore)

95% of 18-24 year olds are illegally copying music

Posted in Music with tags , , on April 8, 2008 by Michael

Three decades after cassette decks first allowed people to make free music tapes for friends, a study by the industry group British Music Rights suggests home copying remains just as ingrained in UK culture.

Most of the comments on Digg appear to be in support of illegally downloading music. Of all the comments, the most predictable was one commenter who stated that, “the people who get most of the money aren’t the artists.” Makes you wonder if this guy goes into a grocery store and steals apples simply because farmers don’t get “most of the money” for the stuff they grow.

Most adults should realize that stealing is wrong. Most of us realize that the goods at our grocery store have to be shipped and packaged. They occupy space on the shelves. There are costs above and beyond simply planting an apple tree and picking an apple for us to eat. And the same is true in the music industry.

Yes, it’s true that distribution of music has gotten a lot cheaper. You can ship a song around the world for the cost of the electricity and internet access. It’s true that production of music has gotten cheaper. Many musicians have production level studios in their homes these days. And believe it or not, costs are going down for consumers as well. Many bands are offering their music for discounted prices. But the major record labels still invest A LOT of money into the marketing side of things for their bands. Their costs aren’t going down. So, just like at the grocery store, you’re going to pay through the nose for name brand. Someone has to pay those ad and network execs.   ;)

In the meantime, I for one will make sure that my kids know the difference between wrong and right. If 95% of our teens are stealing music, then we as parents are not doing a good job of instilling the right values in our children. We cannot allow this trend to continue. If you are a Christian, it’s right there in black and white: Thou shalt not steal. If you are not a Christian, then you at least subscribe to certain cultural norms. And I have yet to speak to anyone that believes stealing is ok. And yet we allow our children, nearly ALL of them, to steal on a daily basis? Why? Because record companies are evil?

Take it from a musician. I’m no fan of big record companies. But they served their purpose and they’ll continue to serve their purpose. They are the distribution arm for nearly every great album you’ve owned in your lifetime. Have they ripped off artists? Sure. Have some artists signed BAD contracts? Sure. But none of that gives anyone the right to steal someone’s hard work without even so much as a thank you.

We must all strive to change this trend. It starts with me and you.

read more | digg story

Bowl Me Over

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2008 by Michael

Hey, I admit it. I’m a big fan of American roots music. And when it comes to roots, is there a root that runs deeper in this country than American blues? Not many, not many indeed. So when I heard that the City of Plano was hosting a blues festival on April 12th, I was more than a little surprised. When I think of blues, I think of the Mississippi delta, not the north end of the Telecommunications Corridor. But blues fans in Dallas have long known that we are blessed when it comes to talented blues musicians. The scene is full of venues that feature blues music many nights a week. And our history is ripe with world class blues musicians calling Dallas their home. But Plano? How did this happen and who’s behind it? I used my contacts in the scene and got the answers. Here’s the scoop.

The lineup for the show is:

So lets look at this lineup. Holy Moly people, that’s almost every big name in Dallas blues on one stage. Mr. Funderburgh alone has won 4 W.C. Handy Awards including Band of the Year, Song of the Year and Album of the year. Guitar Player Magazine said, “Bugs Henderson should be declared a national treasure.” Jim Suhler has toured as George Thorogood’s guitar player and played around Dallas for years with his band Monkey Beat. Mike Morgan is one of the heavy hitters in town on blues guitar. Hash Brown is well known around town for his famous blues jams and deep knownledge of the blues. And the Bulldogs and Blues Lisa round out a very talented lineup.

I’m telling you, this is going to be an amazing night of live Texas music. It doesn’t get much better than this. How did this happen? How did this all come together? Well, I asked around and found out that this was put together by local blues fan and musician, Bob Fisk. I was able to get a hold of Bob via email and he gave me the scoop on how he pulled this together. Here’s the interview:

Legend:

  • SC = Strat’s Corner
  • BF = Bob Fisk

Bob FiskSC: Hey Bob, thanks for taking time out to answer a few questions. How did you come up with the idea for the Bowl Full of Blues?

BF:  I contacted the City of Plano through mutual friends and pitched my ideas for an annual blues festival.

SC: How helpful was the city of Plano in setting this up?

BF: They gave me a budget and the venue and I was off to the races.

SC: Have you talked to other cities about doing something similar to this?

BF: Yes [several] other cities and they like this concept very much. [For example,] McKinney, Wylie, Garland, Addison, Richardson & likely do [one] maybe [two] more events this year.

SC: You have some great bands in the lineup for this show. How did you manage to land local
legends like Anson Funderburgh on this bill?

BF: All of the musicians know each other and it was just a few phone calls and it was done. That was easy, but the hard work came later. I have know Anson, Jim Suhler, Hash Brown, Mike Morgan for many years and Bugs Henderson and myself have mutual friends and that is how we go together. I feel blessed to have met and played music with many other major talents over the years and i know I could put together many more shows.

SC: What are people allowed to bring to the venue? Is this a kid friendly event?

BF: Anything they want. Coolers with food alcohol, anything they desire.

SC: And what does the future hold for the Bowl Full of Blues Festival?

BF: It looks like it will grow bigger next year with more money available for talent and more bands booked.

You can find out more about Bob on his MySpace page at:  http://www.myspace.com/texasbluescruise

I hope to see you at the show. Also, checkback soon for my review of the Taste of Flannel show. And I have more stuff coming after that. Thanks for stopping by.

Michael

 

Welcome To Strat’s Corner

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , on March 28, 2008 by Michael

Howdy friend,

Welcome to my little corner of Al Gore’s cyberspace. I’m really excited to announce that I’m starting up Strat’s Corner again. I gave this a shot a while back on Blogger and wasn’t too excited with the results. But this time it’s going to be different. And here’s why.

I’m proud to announce that I am partnering with Pegasus News to provide content to the Music section of their webzine. That means … well … I need to provide quality content on a regular basis. Oh the pressure! But, the good news is that this will provide the necessary kick in the pants to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Ever since I started NorthTexasBlues.org, I wanted to help document the fantastic music that happens in our town night after night. Finally, I’ve found the right vehicle to communicate this information. And hopefully, with the help of the good folk over at Pegasus News, I’ll be able to reach a larger audience.

If you’d like to learn more about me, simply click the About link at the top of the page. That’s where I’ll share my background, affiliations and aspirations in music.

So pull up a chair and kick off your shoes. Stay a while and we’ll explore the DFW music scene together.

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