Category Archives: Music


Speaking as someone who doesn’t “get” techno music, this is just perfect.

I did not Dance Naked last night

Gail and I were supposed to go to the Air Canada Centre last night to see John Mellencamp, but because of the storm, we had to miss it. We had the babysitter lined up, the boys were excited that she was coming over, we had dinner done early, the tickets were in my wallet, everything was ready. We waited as long as we could to make the decision, but the snow kept getting worse and worse as the day went on, and there were some ice pellets and freezing rain mixed in as well. Around 5:30 we made the decision that it was just too risky. If the show was in Hamilton, we probably would have gone, but downtown Toronto is a 45 minute drive with no traffic. With the weather as it was, it would have easily been an hour and a half, if not longer, and getting back after four more hours of snow would have been brutal. So, there’s almost $180 in concert tickets down the drain.

Earlier in the day, I had checked the ACC web site on the off chance that they had cancelled the concert because of the weather (they hadn’t) and was found out that Tom Cochrane and Red Rider were opening the show. I ordered the tickets back in November or something, and had completely forgotten about the opening act, which is surprising, since I was a big Red Rider fan back in the 80’s. They opened for Rush at my second-ever concert at Maple Leaf Gardens back in 1984. I’ve seen Tom Cochrane live a couple of times as well, though I think half his backing band on his “solo” tours were members of Red Rider anyway.

I’ve been a big Mellencamp fan since the early 80’s as well, and last night would have been my fourth time seeing him. He always puts on a great show. I haven’t been all that thrilled with his last couple of albums — the John Mellencamp album had a few good tracks on it (“Your Life Is Now”, “Eden Is Burning”), and Mr. Happy Go Lucky had a few as well (“I Saw You First”, “Just Another Day”), but the rest (including the entire Cuttin’ Heads album) was forgettable. I bought his latest album Freedom’s Road shortly after getting the concert tickets, and I think it’s his best album since Human Wheels Whenever We Wanted.(Update: I listened to Human Wheels again yesterday, and I think this new album is better.) “Someday”, “The Americans”, “Forgiveness”, and “My Aeroplane” are all really good, and “Our Country”, “Ghost Towns Along The Highway”, and “Freedom’s Road” are all flat-out great tracks.

Seeing how much snow fell last night and how bad the roads still are around here tonight, I don’t regret the decision not to go, but it still sucks. I called the ACC last night just before we made the decision and asked if the concert was cancelled and was told that it was not. I then asked if there was any possibility of a refund since we weren’t going to make it, and he confirmed my suspicions that I was SOL.

If Mellencamp comes back to Toronto (or even better, Hamilton!) on this tour, or even the next one, I’m sure we’ll try to go again. I just hope that it’s sometime between May and September.

Aside: For those of you who are not big Mellencamp fans and are curious (or frightened) about the title of this post, Dance Naked was the name of a 1994 John Mellencamp album.

I must own this

A guitar that tunes itself by measuring the pitch of each string as you play it.

Also in that story, another automatic tuning product that has a library of different tunings, and allows you to switch between them on the fly — even in the middle of a song.

Now, how do I convince Gail that I need this?

iPod Meme

iTunes Survey copied from cahwyguy:

How many total songs?
6919 songs, 20.9 days, 41.79GB

Sort by song title – first and last
First: A by Barenaked Ladies
Last: 99% Of Us Is Failure by Matthew Good

Sort by time – shortest and longest
Shortest: You to Me (0:04) by Bystander (entire lyrics: “Everybody says ‘ you’ to me” — the is an actual bleep in the song)
Longest: Octavarium (24:00) by Dream Theater (second longest is “A Change of Seasons” (23:08), also by Dream Theater)

Sort by Album – first and last
First: “Abacab” by Genesis
Last: “90125” by Yes

Sort by Artist – first and last
First: AC/DC
Last: 54-40

Sort by Album Artist – first and last
I’m not sure what this means – why is “album artist” different from “artist”?

Top five played songs:
The top song is In Between by Linkin Park with 4, and then the next 20 (the rest of Linkin Park’s Minutes to Midnight album, all of Saga’s debut album, and a Robben Ford song I was trying to learn on guitar) are all tied at 3. Not a very useful stat thus far. Ask me again in a couple of years.

Find the following words. How many songs show up?
Sex: 6
Death: 4
Love: 239
You: 535
Home: 42
Boy: 34
Girl: 60

First five songs that come up on Party Shuffle
1. Extra Pale by Goo Goo Dolls
2. 5 Days in May [Live] by Blue Rodeo
3. Naked Sunday by Stone Temple Pilots
4. The Journey by Joe Satriani
5. The Master & Margarita by The Tea Party

Scaramouche! Scaramouche! Will you do the fandango?

We went to see We Will Rock You in Toronto again last night. Gail and I saw it back in August, and we loved it, and since my dad’s 70th birthday is coming up, we decide to take my parents and my sister to see it. They all loved it, as did we, although the crowd didn’t seem to get into it as much this time as the first time. The guy singing the lead role (“Galileo Figaro”) was the usual guy, and he was very good, but when we saw it in August, the guy playing Galileo was not even the understudy, he was the second understudy, and he was simply amazing. He had easily as strong a voice as the regular lead, and I found his speaking easier to understand, since he didn’t have the slight French accent that the regular lead does. The female lead, Scaramouche, was played by a Toronto girl named Erica Peck in her professional stage debut. The fact that it’s her debut is unbelievable to me, since she was simply outstanding. Her acting was great, her singing voice is incredible, and she just looked really comfortable on stage. The entire cast was really good, but Scaramouche was my favourite character, and Gail’s too.

While looking through the program before the show started, I noticed a vaguely familiar name in the band — the drummer was a guy named Sean Kilbride, and it took me a few seconds to place the name. He was the drummer for Haywire, a PEI-based pop-rock band in the 80’s that I was a fan of. This is the second time I’ve noticed something like that at a musical theatre performance — when we went to see The Lion King a few years ago, I found that the musical director was a guy named Rob Preuss, who was the keyboardist for both Spoons and Honeymoon Suite back in the 80’s.

Eric Clapton vs. Elton John

Here are ten reasons why the guitar is a more difficult instrument to play than the piano:

  1. Once you tune a piano, it’s tuned, and can stay in tune for years. A guitar that’s perfectly in tune at the beginning of a song can be out of tune halfway through that song. Plus, the piano is always tuned the same way. The key that plays a C note on one piano will always play a C note on any other piano. Guitars can be tuned in any number of different configurations — the open top string is usually E, but it might be D, or F, or something else; it depends on the tuning.
  2. On the piano, the right hand and left hand are doing essentially the same thing. They play different notes and such, but basically the same thing. On the guitar, the left hand is fretting notes while the right hand is picking or strumming them. Fundamentally different actions.
  3. A chord on a piano is usually three notes, sometimes four. On a guitar, you frequently have to play six-note chords with only four fingers (the thumb on the fret hand is almost never used).
  4. On the piano, there is one set of keys in strictly ascending order. You always know whether one note is higher or lower than another based on whether it’s to the left or right of the other note. On the guitar, there are essentially six different sets of notes which overlap. Is the 3rd string, 6th fret higher or lower than the fourth string, 12th fret? Answer: lower, but unless you play the guitar or have one in front of you, it’s not obvious.
  5. Unless you press the sustain pedal on the piano, as soon as you remove your finger from the key, the note stops. On the guitar, you can remove your hands entirely and the open strings will ring unless you deaden them.
  6. If someone has never played a piano in their life, you can teach them a C major scale in about 10 seconds: Black keys are grouped in either 2 or 3. Look for the 2 black keys together, and the white key immediately to the left of that is C. Hit that key, then each white key next to it (to the right) until you get to the next C. That’s it. Teach someone that, and if they find themselves at a piano a month later, they could probably repeat it. On the guitar, it would be 2nd string from the top, 4th fret, then 2nd string 6th fret, then 3rd string 3rd fret, 3rd string 4th fret, 3rd string 6th fret, 4th string 3rd fret, 4th string 5th fret, and 4th string 6th fret. Or instead of 3rd string 3rd fret, you could do 2nd string 8th fret. Or numerous other ways. I’ve been playing guitar for 20 years and I had to do little air-guitar fretting motions in order to figure out how write it down here. Someone who had never played a guitar before would have no chance of remembering the notes a month later. (On the other hand, playing a C-sharp major scale on the guitar is easy once you know the C major – just move everything up one fret. On the piano, I’d have to think for a minute to figure it out.)
  7. If you don’t play the guitar often, playing for more than a couple of minutes causes the tips of your fingers to hurt. Piano — no pain.
  8. You’ve got grands, baby grands, uprights, and other types of pianos, and they all look different, but excluding quality differences, they play pretty much the same way. Playing an electric guitar and an acoustic guitar are very different. 6-strings and 12-strings are also very different.
  9. With a piano, you play a note or you don’t, though you can play it louder or softer. Same with a guitar, but you can also play the note and then bend it, or hit the note below and bend up, or hit the note and slide up or down, or hit the note above and slide down, or hit the note below and slide up. You can bend strings behind the nut in some cases, and if you have a tremolo bar (aka whammy bar) or a slide, you have even more options. Plus there are natural and artificial harmonics, which are impossible on a piano.
  10. The location of a note in relation to position of the black keys tells you immediately what note it is. I haven’t taken a piano lesson in over 25 years, and I can’t read music anymore, but if you asked me to fine a G on a piano keyboard, I could find it right away. On a guitar, you just have to know, or remember the notes that the open strings play and figure it out from there.

Note to piano players — don’t get all bent out of shape. This list was made tongue-in-cheek.

Am I a music thief, or not?

I understand the idea about why music sharing is wrong. If I want to listen to a CD as much as I want whenever I want, I should have to buy it, and the artist and record company should get some financial benefit from that. If my buddy buys a CD and I rip it, then both of us are listening to it as much as we want whenever we want, then the record company has only received payment for one CD. When I rip it, the record company and artist each lose some potential income so in a sense, I’ve stolen it. I get that.

Recently, I went to the local library and borrowed a CD by Liquid Tension Experiment. I listened to it for a while, and then returned it. Since then, every time I’ve been to the library and I look on the CD shelves, the one I borrowed is there on the shelf. In theory, every one of those times I could have borrowed the CD for another two weeks. I live in a small town, so the odds are high that I can get this album pretty much any time. I called the library (holy crap, look at me doing research for a blog entry!) and asked them if I was allowed to borrow a CD as many times as I want, and they said that as long as I return the CD to the library now and again (I can renew it without returning it, but only twice), there is no limit. This means that I can listen to this CD pretty much as much as I want whenever I want, and it’s perfectly legal, even though I didn’t pay to borrow it, the library doesn’t pay anyone each time I borrow it, and I didn’t pay to get the library card in the first place.

Here’s the kicker — when I borrowed the CD, I ripped it to MP3s. It’s now on my iPod. This means that I can still listen to it as much as I want whenever I want, just I could before, but I don’t have the inconvenience of having to go to the library to get it out or return it. The record company is still not getting any money, nor is the artist, but they wouldn’t have anyway. Was ripping this CD wrong, and if so, why? Who loses when I do this?