Monday, August 30, 2010

Live Music Archive in the Sky

A long time ago, there was a dream that one day, you could download virtually any live concert recording from the sky (now called the “cloud”) to enjoy at your leisure. That day has arrived.

The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purpose is to offer permanent access to historical collections that exist in digital format. It was founded in 1996 and is located in San Francisco.

You’ll find a treasure trove of live recordings from thousands of artists. The recordings are generally divided into two groups: 1) recordings from the band’s soundboard, which you can listen to streaming, or 2) high quality recordings from “tapers” or audience members which are available to download.

I recommend downloading the high-fidelity loss-less FLAC files, converting them to WAV files, and burning them onto a CD. That way you can build a library of your own favorites. FLAC, or Free Lossless Audio Codec, allows you to store CD-quality audio at a fairly small file size compared to the size of the raw data. But, to listen to them on your CD player, you’ll need to convert FLAC to WAV files. This maintains the high-fidelity (vs. converting to MP3, the scourge of us audiophiles).

The most common way to convert FLAC files to WAV is by using WinAmp, which is free. Download it from, and download the FLAC codec for WinAmp, which is available from

After installing WinAmp and the FLAC codec, open up Winamp and go into the Options menu. From here, select "Preferences," and in the Plug-Ins section, select "Output," followed by Nullsoft Disk Writer and click Configure.

If you run Windows 7, and you're saving the WAV files, you'll probably want to keep them in your Music library or wherever your music is stored on your computer. Once you've selected a directory, click the OK button and go back to the WinAmp main screen.

WinAmp will play your files and convert them at the same time, so go to File and hit Play File, then select the FLAC files that you want to convert. Press "Open." WinAmp converts them quickly, then you're ready to burn.

To burn a CD using Windows 7's Media Player, open Windows Media Player, and in your music library locate the WAV files you want to burn. Drag them onto your Burn List. Insert a blank CD, start the burn process, and the prompts should take you through the rest.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Handful of Luvin at Treehouse Point

The scene: a small barn open on one end, deep in a dark green forest, a river nearby. Torches smoldering in the early evening, guests twittering, cars parked on gravel, one by one, tight.

The band, Handful of Luvin, played at Treehouse Point in Fall City on Wednesday night. The venue was spectacular, the band was entertaining. The fiddler, Andrew Joslyn, was, however, extraordinary. Command of one's instrument is a given for any professional musician. The extra spark and wit set him apart, and without Andrew's talent Handful would be just another Dave Mathews-style pop band. With a little more work on their material, perhaps digging into their bluegrass roots, they could actually be something special.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jamming Eight Days a Week (Almost)

One of the best ways to experience live music is by attending any of the many Jam Nights around town. You'll see seasoned musicians, young upstarts, and people who just want to play. Surprising combinations of players can spark magic when you least expect it. It's truly humbling to witness the wealth of talent right here in front of us.

For a robust list of jam nights around Puget Sound, visit

Some of my favorites:

Blues Night Jam, hosted by Tommy Wall, featuring Andrew Cloutier on drums. Each week features a special guest guitarist. 7-10 PM
Raging River Cafe, Fall City
33723 Redmond-Fall City Rd.
Fall City, WA 98024

Open Mic Jam, 8pm
Lighthouse Bar, Des Moines
22239 Marine View S
Des Moines, WA

Open Mic Night, hosted by Tim Turner Band, 9pm
Wilde Rover Irish Pub & Restaurant, Kirkland
111 Central Way
Kirkland , WA 98033

Open Mic, 8pm
Barrel Tavern, Burien
11051 1st Ave S.
Burien, WA

Jam Night, hosted by Powercell (Lynn Sorensen), 8pm
Oddfellows Grill, Redmond
7979 Leary Way NE
Redmond, WA 98052

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Gnomedex 2010: New, New Media

Had a great time at the Gnomedex 2010 conference. Gnomedex was founded by Chris Pirillo, a local leading thinker in the new media space. Bill Schrier, CTO of Seattle ("chief geek") shared some interesting facts: Seattle City Light was created in 1905. Bill Boeing built his first airplane in Seattle in 1956. Starbucks was founded in 1971, now 17,000 locations worldwide. Microsoft has 94,000 employees today.

One of the most interesting speakers was Larry Wu, master of consumer-based innovation. He developed a one-cup french press to go! How great is that? He believes the most important Macro-Trends of 2010 are: Artisan products; Cultural Fusion (easiest way is Food and Music); Mass Personalization; Products that help you monitor your own health; Hyperlife (multi-tasking); Nostalgia Marketing (2010 Mustang); Merit Badges (collecting experiences like archeology vacations and bungee jumping); Ready, Set, Go! (innovation plus convenience); Torking (design element)--multiple uses, highest power, most memory, that amps it up for the consumer. Will your product/service/idea be successful? Can you combine macrotrends?

Then you have the super-scientist-artist-geeks, of which Scott Draves is a king. Engineer in the Mapping Division at Google, he's the one who created "Electric Sheep," the Flameout algorhythm-based screen saver that utilizes the super-computing power of users' computers across the internet to render. It is mystically beautiful, and a favorite of John Perry Barlow's, and incidentally would make one killer light show behind a live music performance! Download the screensaver here:

And finally, let me mention Jason Barger, who wrote the book "Step Away From the Baggage Claim." He just wants everyone to take a step back and be a little more grateful and compassionate. Photo by (CC) Randy Stewart,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lynn Sorensen: Rock Superstar

Living in the Seattle area it's not rare to hear great musicians jam; last night it was in tribute to a fallen brother, Joe, taken two years ago. When a rock superstar takes the stage it's something else, something magic. That's what happened last night at Oddfellows Grill in Redmond.

Notable musicians like Manuel Morais and Eddie Mendoza from the Aury Moore Band, Roger Fisher from Heart, Darlene Tyler from Heartless, Pete Butterfield, the Thornburg brothers from Jar, among others, all amazed us with great musicianship and passion. Never thought I'd hear a pounding "Moby Dick" played live ever again, and it takes a great drummer to do that (Jeff Kathan).

Later, Lynn Sorensen (bass player for Bad Company) absolutely transformed the stage. Inventive, powerful, spectacular bass playing. Thrilling to hear him play a rocking "Helter Skelter" with the young Russ Thornburg on lead guitar.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Unplugged on Orcas Island

Birthday, time out. Itinerary goes something like this: glide over cold black-green water between gum drop islands, check in to enchanted cottage, swim in turquoise pool, roast in sun until medium-rare, repeat. Crack chilled pinot gris, ponder spectacular sunset view, dine on fresh Alaskan halibut and blackberry cobbler a la mode while bucks and does and rabbits play games, old vine cabernet, count comets and planets, and plot paths of satellites, sleep on lofty cloudlike covers.

Wake up to roosters crowing, head to virgin forest, wander around pristine lakes under periwinkle skies, dive into crisp aquamarine water, stretch out on ancient cedar dock...contemplate...


Some of my favorite Orcas haunts are soulfully depicted by local artist, David Densmore. David has lived and painted on Orcas for many years, and to me, he captures the heart of the island best.

When you're there next, I hope you can experience some of these:

- Deer Harbor Inn Restaurant (dinner on the back deck)

- Cascade Lake in Moran State Park

- Darville's Gallery

- New Leaf (best Eggs Benefict anywhere)

- Rosario Lounge (best Bombay martini anywhere)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Muscle Cars Rock

Nothing says "Summer" like a good car show. Especially when they showcase the muscle cars of a golden era: the '60s-'70s. Polished beauties heel patiently on green grass as owners proudly hover. Pontiac, GTO, Mustang, Challenger, 'Vette, to my ears.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Live Music Around Town

Starting tonight, you can enjoy great live music every night through the weekend. Local legends and new stars, all living and playing with passion. Check out some of my favorites.

Wed Aug 11:

Jam Night with Powercell/Lynn Sorensen and Doug McGrew, 8:30 Oddfellows Grill, Redmond

Thurs Aug 12:

Cory Wilds Band, 7:30 Red Dog Saloon, Maple Valley

Magic Bus with Lynn Sorensen, 6:30 Lake Wilderness Park, Maple Valley

Bubbles & Fog with Doug McGrew on drums, 8:00 Oddfellows Grill, Redmond

Fri Aug 13:

Aury Moore Band, 9:00 Papa's, White Center

Cory Wilds Band, 9:00 J&M Cafe, Pioneer Square

Magic Bus w Lynn Sorensen and Terry James Young from RAIL, 8:00 Festival at Mt. Si

Sat Aug 14:

Magic Bus with Lynn Sorensen, 6:00 Taste of Edmonds Festival

Cory Wilds Band, 9:00 Red Dog Saloon, Maple Valley

Michael Powers, 7:00 City of Everett Waterfront Concerts

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cool Little Venue: Treehouse Point

Ever feel like you've fallen down the rabbit hole and suddenly find yourself in another world? A leafy, enchanted cathedral of giant trees, soft bark pathways, and wood sprite dwellings?
That's Tree House Point in Issaquah, Washington. Among the several new inns cropping up in the Cascade foothills, THP is special: you'll find some of the most interesting bands playing here. You'll also marvel at the spectacular tree houses on the grounds that give Treehouse Point its name.
Drive about 20 minutes east of Seattle/Bellevue: 6922 Preston-Fall City Rd SE, Issaquah. 425-441-8087

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Summer and R. Kenton Nelson

Heat, sound of sprinklers, taste of iced tea. One of my favorite painters captures the essence of summer: R. Kenton Nelson. Born in Los Angeles, CA, he's been creating his haunting yet familiar images in his Pasadena studio for decades.
Next time you're in L.A., stop in to the gallery that features his work:
Peter Mendenhall Gallery, 6150 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
Nelson traces his interest in painting back to his great uncle, Roberto Montenegro, renowned Mexican muralist and Modernist. The style of Nelson's paintings have their origins in American Scene painting, Regionalism, and the work of the WPA artists of the 1930's.
Nelson paints figures, landscape, and architecture bathed in light. The objective in his paintings is to idealize the ordinary with the intention of engagement, using the iconic symbols and styles of his lifetime in a theatrical style to make leading suggestions.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cory Wilds, Cory Wilds, Cory Wilds

I get out and see a lot of bands. It's rare that I'm literally stunned by a searing, lightning-bright talent. One that makes me stay until the last note is played. Cory Wilds, Cory Wilds, Cory Wilds...

Whether he's stroking an old Fender sunburst, or coaxing a heart-ache out of a cherry-red hollow-body, Cory plays with the expertise of a long-time road warrior and the soul of a true artist, adding a fresh twist to the music. With his long-time kimosabe Mark Fluegel driving the bassline, Cory absolutely sparkles with wit and inventiveness. The venerable Doug McGrew on drums, new to the trio, made it seem effortless, as if he'd been playing with them from the beginning twelve years ago.

Maybe it's the Jazz influence: Cory listens to everything, admitting he voraciously consumes a wide array of music. His first jazz album was Kind of Blue, and I can hear the Miles influence, call it soulfulness, a voice that grips you and takes you along. Rock/Blues influences abound, from Stevie Ray Vaughn to Freddie King to early R&B. Yet there's a certain british-invasion hard rock edge to his playing that's at once arresting and compelling.

Easily a rock star in every way, from his tall, elegant presence, to his impressive talent and repertoire, why isn't Cory famous and riding in limosines? "I prefer to play locally," he says. A Renton boy, he likes it here, and plays plenty.

Check them out at Benders (Renton) and Red Dog Saloon (Maple Valley). Get their calendar here