The end of an era – Goodbye Rheos

About 2 weeks ago I was driving along with the radio tuned to CBC, listening to an awesome cover of Everybody Knows this is Nowhere. Now that tune has always been a favourite Canadian classic, and from the voice singing the harmonies, even before the announcer came back on, I knew right away it was the Rheostatics, one of my all time favourite Canadian acts (as it turned out, accompanying another old time favourite, The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir). I had it cranked all the way up, and as the song ended the announcer came on to say we’d be hearing lots more Rheostatics leading up to their final concert, March 30, at Massey Hall.

I was gutshot, almost drove off the road. I mean, it’s not necessarily a surprise when I thought about it, they are all a couple of years older than me, all have families now, and have been making music and touring for over 20 years now. But it broke my heart – they were a young band with a cult album when I first started to go see them at shows in London, Ontario during my undergrad days, and I’ve probably seen them 8 times over the years. Each show was magic; the Rheostatics are one of those bands that, while they might not have the hugest fan base, have an extremely dedicated one, and live shows were like a communion. I will really miss them.

For your listening pleasure, if you’ve never heard them, a few excerpts of some of my favourite Rheos’ tunes

I got those “Stuck in the Airport Lounge” Blues

Now while in parts of Canada this image would seem commonplace, not so much in Victoria, B.C. where I live. If we get snow 1 day a year we’re usually lucky.

Well Sunday the weather conspired to bring us well over a foot of snow, which fairly paralyzed the city. Lucky for me I work at home; not so lucky when the power goes out, and with it the internet connection.

So it was with a bit of trepedation that I got up at 4:30am this morning to catch a flight to Cranbrook to visit some colleagues at the College of the Rockies. If the streets around my neighborhood were any indication, the drive to the airport was going to be treacherous.

But low and behold, the road cleared when I got to the highway, and I made it to the airport and then on to Vancouver to catch my connecting flight. Only to be thwarted by Air Canada, the bane of all Canadian travellers. Apparently no one told Air Canada that the temperature on the West Coast does occassionally drop below 0 Celsius, and so I am stuck on the end of an expensive Telus wifi connection (but at least a wifi connection, hallelujah!) with the Airport Lounge Blues (I now know the title for DJ Nessman strikes again! next recording!) – SWL

CCMixter Radio – Rockin’ the airwaves with Creative Commons music, 24 hours a day!

Kind of a non-sequitar, but I have been working away listening to streams of fully CC-licensed remixes and tracks from the awesome CCMixter site all day, and just wanted to tell someone. What brought me there was the announcement that my old favourite, Freesound, is now integrated into ccMixter via the Sample Pool API. Ahh, CreativeCommons content – think “Organic,” but for your brain 😉 – SWL

All I want for Christmas…

Brian and I have been trading links on wigged out music makers and visualizers recently. It started when he pointed to opening in his furl feed, which I replied back to with the whitney music box.

These are cool, but I dig even more things like Nintendo’s ElectroPlankton, really the only reason I would consider buying one of these Nintendo Dual Screen handhelds, though with a 7 year old son I am sure that will change 😉 And from a slightly different angle, I admit to coveting toys like Alesis Air FX Sound and Effects Controller or the Korg KPE-1 KAOSS Pad Entrancer. One of the reasons I love things like these – you can put them in the hands of non-musicians and see their eyes light up as they start to mangle and manipulate sounds to make new ones, something they never thought they could do. In my life, turning myself and other people onto the joy and power of making music is as powerful as any other teaching/learning I have done. Hallelujah! – SWL

Why does ‘Freesound’ succeed when so many learning object repositories fail?

Bryan Alexander posted a link to The Freesound Project and it was interesting to me for a whole slew of reasons.

It was interesting first off because I have been using the site myself for the last few months; I am getting more into making music with digital audio tools (yes, yes, I will post something, someday, give me time to build up my courage) and so turned to Freesound to find new samples for a drum machine. And it works; not perfectly maybe, but you can definitely find new samples fairly easily, and it has a number of other social affordances (‘users who downloaded this also…’ and folksonomies) that lead you to related stuff you might like.

I was interesting also on a personal level as it was built as part of the 2005 International Computer Music Conference. ICMC is dear to my heart because way back in 1995, I was responsible for building the first website to support a ICMC conference, when it was hosted in Banff (the only remnant of which I can now find is this reference, the ‘WayBack machine‘ not even going back that far, so safe to say Internet ancient history!)

And finally it’s also of interest as a ‘repository’ of shareable remixable content, and one that would have to be judged relatively successful at that, with around 10,000 ‘objects’ and almost a million downloads. So what makes it tick, why does it succeed when so many of our various ‘learning object repository’ projects are failing so miserably? Let’s consider (more)….
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