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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fat White Guys Killed the (Internet) Radio Star

Fans of internet radio were likely already aware that today, June 26, is a national day of silence for web-cast radio stations in protest of a proposed rate hike in royalty fees. More casual listeners, like myself, were probably shocked to find that their favorite stations were off the air for the day. In addition to smaller outlets, heavy hitters like, MTV and Yahoo! pulled the plug on their web-casts for the day. Nothing brings folks together like the almighty dollar, eh?

On March 2, 2007, the Copyright Royalties Board — a three member panel which oversees royalty fees for Internet radio stations — passed a rate increase of 300 to 1200 percent by 2010. The increase goes into effect on July 15, 2007 and is retroactive to January 1, 2006. Prior to the rate hike, internet stations were already paying more than twice what satellite radio stations are required to cough up for the same rights. So what gives?

The proposal was initiated by the Recording Industry Association of America, a monolithic organization primarily made up of fat guys in suits who live in constant fear of teenagers downloading the latest Jay-Z track from Limewire. RIAA's hired goons, SoundExchange — who handle royalty collections — were also in on the fun. Oddly enough, these are the same schmucks that were afraid of cassette tapes destroying the record biz some 25 years ago. Good call, assholes.

If the increase goes into effect, a significant chunk of small to mid-size stations — many of whom are already on life support — will cease to exist. For those of us that enjoy the eclectic, free-form nature of 'net radio, that's a big freakin' deal.

So what can we, the concerned public, do?

Go to Save Net Radio and click on the link to contact your state's congressional delegates. There are bills in both houses to overturn CRB's nefarious, greed-driven ruling. There are also several links providing much more info than I have time or space to print here.

If you love freedom, America and weird-ass radio, do your part and let your voice be heard.

On a lighter note, here's a picture of a puppy:


Friday, June 22, 2007

Class Clown Makes Good!

I'm guessing most of you have never heard of The Stuckey and Murray Comedy Empire. That's about to change.

Stuckey and Murray are a musical comedy duo from NYC. They're kind of like Tenacious D, only a good 400 lbs lighter.

In any event, I went to C.V.U. H.S. with co-emperor, Jon Murray. He was actually the front-man for my first crappy ska band, Ska-Ka-Doodle-Doo. Apparently, Jon's moved on to better things since then.

I've just received word that the duo has been selected to play Montreal's Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in July, and will then play the Edinburgh Fringe Fest during the entire month of August. Not bad, my old friend. Not bad at all.

As if that weren't enough, their new video was just featured on YouTube. Here it is, but I'll warn you: It's lewd. Very lewd. If you're underage or easily offended, please don't press play. However, if homo-erotic electronic phone sex gets you going, you're gonna love this. By the way, this ain't music.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Skinny

Have you ever been to a show that was so incredible you wanted to call everyone you know and berate them for not being there too? Living in Burlington, this is sort of a rare circumstance — not because performances around town are rarely good, but rather that nearly everyone I know usually attends most of the better shows in the area. Thus, it's always somewhat surprising to be at a venue in Burlington and not see at least 10 people I'm familiar with. Such was the case last night at the newly-christened crepe cafe, The Skinny Pancake.

If you've been following the bouncing ball through the music section lately, you might have noticed that I've developed something of a love affair with Portland, OR's Horse Feathers. Folks who are familiar with my past musical endeavors know that I'm a sucker for melancholia. If it's sad and pretty, I'm probably gonna love it. Perhaps that explains my crush on Feist — well, that, and she's totally hot.

Anyway, the group headlined the SP's inaugural show last night and, quite frankly, blew my fucking mind. I've been enamored with their album since it mysteriously appeared on my desk a few weeks ago — at that point there was no scheduled gig in B-town — and was floored to find that their live performance is even more intimately affecting than their stunning debut.

If you were to spread pancake batter on an over-sized griddle, sprinkle in bits of Nick Drake, a dash of Elliott Smith and smother it with sweet Hem syrup, than you, my friend, would be eating a tasty Horse Feathers crepe.

Wow. That might have been the worst analogy I've ever written.

In any event, if you're into sad music, do yourself a favor and check this band out. And if you're hungry, you should swing by the SP and check that out too. It's a nifty little joint.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Local freak-folkie, Austin Sirch, opened the show and was terrific as well. I'd never seen him before and was totally impressed. So much so that I'm going to mention he's playing Exposure on WRUV tonight. Tune in.

Oh shit. I also forgot to mention that the lovely folks a Tick Tick put the whole thing together. Nice job, guys (and gals).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

$1000 Wedding

When I left you last week, I promised to regale you with delicious stories of elbow-rubbing debauchery from  the "crazy-ass" wedding I attended in Omaha, NE. Well, I went. It was cool. But I'm afraid my hyperbolic descriptions of the event in the last post were a bit off the mark. Maybe it was a case of wishful thinking. In any event, here's the rundown.

Those of you who bothered to follow the links at the end of the post, perhaps connected the dots and figured out that the hitchin' involved some Saddle Creek Records folks — for those not in the know, Saddle Creek was founded by depressed-teen heartthrob, Bright Eyes (aka Conor Oberst). The groom, Steve Pedersen, is the guitarist/front-man for indie-darlings Criteria and married my girlfriend's college roommate. Thus, we were invited to attend.

In an effort to sell the idea of traveling to the mid-West in June, Joanna promised me that "all the cool kids would be there." Bright Eyes, Cursive, Tilly and the Wall, etc. There was supposedly even a chance that M. Ward and My Morning Jacket's Jim James would attend, as well a slim possibility that everyone's favorite shoplifter-cum-ultimate-band-floozy, Winona Ryder would be there.

The real kicker was that the reception was to be held at Saddle Creek's newly-minted Mecca of hipsterdom, Slowdown.  Part night club, part artist's co-op, the venue is intended as a means towards centralizing Omaha's remarkably vibrant music scene. Methinks it's an idea that could work well on a smaller scale right here in Burlington. Paging Lee Anderson . . .

Alas, Bright Eyes was in Munich, James and Ward were nowhere to be found and Ryder . . . well, who really knows? Maybe I should check San Quentin.

Notable absences aside, there was no shortage of indie icons at the wedding or any of the accompanying functions — Feist was there! . . . sigh. It was really kind of fun to watch the small enclave of thrift-store chic musicians try and keep up with (or flatly ignore) the frenetic physical movements of a full Catholic Mass — personally, I gave up after my first awkward attempt at a genuflect. In a sea of card-carrying red-staters, the Saddle Creek folks really stuck out, as did, I imagine, the bearded music critic in the back row.

There was a party at Slowdown, though the actual reception was at the stately Omaha Country Club and ironically featured the cheesiest wedding band in history. I guess even rock stars have musically challenged parents.

The party was an effort to celebrate with friends that were unable to attend the actual wedding and was chock-full of interesting folks. I had the pleasure of meeting several indie luminaries including members of Tilly and the Wall, Cursive and Criteria.

Oddly, there was no live music that night which, in retrospect was a good thing. It was refreshing to hang out with musicians free of agenda — mine or theirs. In fact, I'm not sure we even talked about music the whole night. However, we did discuss the beef capital's slogan — Omaha: Rare, but Well Done. Are you taking notes, LCRCC?

In any event, it was a great trip and a beautiful wedding. Steve and Emily, if you're reading this, my heartfelt congrats. And if you run into Bright Eyes, tell him I said hi.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Movin' On Up

Hey everybody.  Sorry for the lag between posts, but the last week has been a whirlwind. In addition to my normal writerly responsibilities — which this week are packed into a mere four days because of a crazy-ass wedding I'm attending in Omaha — I've also been moving . . . into Casey's old place.  Weird, no?

That's right. In addition to taking his job, I've also nabbed his apartment. And some of his furniture. And some silver platters I'm assuming were wedding gifts. And his cats . . . OK, that's a lie. I hate cats, but if there are any other remnants of Mr. Rae-Hunter left in Burlington, I suppose I'll assume those as well. Perhaps I'll check Pure Pop.

It's actually a totally kick-ass apartment. My girlfriend, Joanna, and I made the leap — well, not THE leap, but A leap, anyway — and moved in together last night. This is new territory for me and frankly, it's a bit frightening. But the first 18 hours have been bliss-ish! Although, my sweet little baby-eating pit-bull, Buckley, is freakin' the fuck out. Can't win 'em all.

Anyway, I apologize that there's not more of musical substance to this post, and also regret that "The Man" removed the Sarah Silverman clip from my last post. I hope people checked it out, cuz it was fuh-nee. Here's something to tide you over until next week.

Kinda sounds like Lee "Scratch" Perry, doesn't it?

When I get back, I'll tell you all about the afore mentioned crazy-ass wedding, as well as the Best Wedding Reception Ever.

I'm also working on a pod-cast that should done sometime next week.

Until then . . .

Thursday, June 07, 2007

One Night In Paris

I don't have cable, and I haven't watched MTV since they pulled The State but a friend told me about this yesterday, and it's one of the funniest things I've seen in a while. From the 2007 MTV Movie Awards:

God bless you Sarah Silverman.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

File Under: I Told You So, Jackass

Regular Solid Staters likely remember last week's brouhaha concerning my debut blog post,  (Solid) State of The Union Address. If not, put down the pipe, bro', it was only a week ago.

In the post, I lamented the relatively recent passing of several "big" local bands and alluded — apparently poorly — to a few local bands that while still playing, seemed to have stepped back from the limelight somewhat. While I stand by what I wrote — though it was admittedly vague — one of the groups I wrote about just contacted me with some great news.

The Cush have been selected to perform at this year's North By Northeast festival in Toronto on June 9. For those of you who don't know, that's kind of a big deal. NXNE is like South By South West in Austin, TX, only instead of rowdy Texans, there are polite Canadians.  It's kinda like the difference between SNL and SCTV. They're both sketch comedy shows with some cast crossover, but one is distinctly . . . well, Canadian.

It's a great opportunity for the band and I wish them luck.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go wrench my foot free from my mouth.

Godspeed, You Black Emperor

Casey Rea will be leaving Burlington in roughly one week — or as Casey might say, not fuckin' soon enough. I'm not sure that he planned it this way, but I do find it curious that the week he and his lovely wife Brooke chose to fly the coop is the one week that I'd likely have too much to write about in my column to publicly acknowledge his departure . . . Or maybe he just doesn't like jazz. In either case, shrewd move my dark friend — but you ain't getting off that easy.

I've known of Casey for some time, originally as the the guitarist for local metal heroes Rocketsled, then later as the quintessential record store guy at Pure Pop. It was there that I had my first real encounter with the man, the myth, the legend that is Casey Rea.

About four years ago, I wandered into the dank music Mecca to all things hipper-than-thou, looking for a birthday present for my younger sister, Ariel. At the time, she was particularly enamored with a certain cheesy songwriter named Mason Jennings, who'd just released a new album which, for the life of me, I couldn't find anywhere in the store. I'm typically not the type of person to ask a clerk a for assistance unless it's absolutely necessary, and what follows is a perfect example of why.

I approached the counter and asked an attractive young girl if she knew where I might find the record in question. Puzzled, she turned to the man in black behind her and asked if they had any left in the store. Looking up from some sort of paperwork, a pained expression crossed his face. "Bleccchh," was all he said before turning around and exiting the store through a door in the back.

I ended up buying the album at Borders, and Casey, you were right. The album was totally bleccchh.

I won't bore you — or piss off Casey — with fawning flattery. But I would like to say thanks. What we do isn't easy and Burlington has been very lucky to have an advocate — and critic — of your considerable abilities. I truly do have some big black shoes to fill.

Also, on behalf of Burlington, I'd like to say, Fuck The Washington Post.

I'm kinda broke, so this is all I could do as a parting gift, but I think you'll like it.


Good luck, man

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