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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Amazing Legacy of GEORGE MARTIN. And other news, serious & whimsical...

(Guide Blogspot edition no. 1,524.)
Bernie stuns Hillary in Michigan. Trump's mouth is beyond stunning anybody, anywhere. In the music world, you can't say you're stunned when someone dies who is 90 years old. But you can be stunned when you consider the legacy of contributions he leaves after that long life. And we do, in this edition.








# 1 news feature...


By Larry Wines

His influence is freshly renewed every day. He died last night at the age of 90.

It's easy to lose sight of something fundamental: that the way things came to be is usually the result of something quite specific.

All those classic albums that happily include free associations of tracks ranging from crisp acoustic to wailing electric? Albums by the Eagles, Heart, America, Bread, Eric Clapton, Crosby Stills & Nash, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Muriel Anderson, and so many others...

Individual songs that begin quietly with acoustic instruments, then build and build into anthems driven by electric guitars — "Stairway to Heaven" must come to mind...

Iconic acoustic recordings embraced in the pantheon of rock, like "American Pie"...

Thoroughly plugged-in bands doing all-acoustic performances and records, like the Five Man Electrical Band doing the landmark album, "Five Man Acoustical Jam"...

And the subsequent, long running MTV series, "Unplugged," which began with Clapton — and has featured a procession of electric guitarists and bands anxious to demonstrate their acoustic chops and revel in sharing that with their fans...

All were ostensibly rock acts making rock albums for their time, and all yielded both rock and Americana classics. But it wasn't always possible for a record to be inclusive like that, or a stage act to perform outside a narrowly defined identity. You couldn't be "ostensibly" anything. You had to be one thing.

Remember, Pete Seeger wanted to take a fire ax to Bob Dylan's electric guitar cord at the Newport Folk Festival. Play any early rock record: it's electric guitar, electric bass, vocal, and drums, with no room for so much as a harmonica.

The moment that freed music from the tyranny of narrow paradigms and singular identities? It was when the Beatles hired George Martin. Period.

Even when we cite the success of an "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" as blowing the doors open for the popular embrace of an Old Crow Medicine Show and a Mumford & Sons, and a general roots music revival? A cognitive framework had to be in place in popular culture to provide a place for its acceptance — a readiness for things outside the soundalike convention of the singular and mundane.

And that brings us right back to George Martin.

The Beatles' catalog mixes acoustic recordings in some classic tracks with electric instruments in others. It features complex studio magic that changes tempo and creates auditory landscapes. And when George Martin did those things, they weren't simply new, they were unthinkable. One act? Not doing one thing?

For the first time in the history of rock, all of it was driven by the artists themselves and made real by the genius of a producer who enabled their visions to be realized.

Suddenly, a signature thing wasn't the same singular thing, ad infinitum and ad nauseum. It was the unique expression of depth and breadth of all you could do, presented thematically. Rock became a session with a storyteller around an ancient campfire. The need in the human brain to explore variety was fulfilled, derailing the rutted road of rock's beginnings.

You can read any of many books about that, or you can read the feature story by Hillel Italie, AP National Writer, dated today, March 9, 2016.

It is not an obituary for George Martin: it is a celebration of his role in the legacy of recorded music, as established with the music of the Beatles. And we highly recommend it.

Here are a few excerpts:

"Besides the Beatles, Martin worked with Jeff Beck, Elton John, Celine Dion and on several solo albums by Paul McCartney.

"But his legacy was defined by the Beatles, for the contributions he made, and for those he didn't.

"Before the Beatles, producers such as Phil Spector and Berry Gordy controlled the recording process, choosing the arrangements and musicians; picking, and sometimes writing the songs (or claiming credit for them). The Beatles, led by the songwriting team of McCartney and John Lennon, became their own bosses and were among the first rock groups to compose their own material. Inspired by native genius, a world's tour of musical influences and all the latest stimulants, they were seekers of magic who demanded new sounds.

"Martin was endlessly called on to perform the impossible, and often succeeded, splicing recordings at different speeds for 'Strawberry Fields Forever,' or, for 'Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,' simulating a calliope with keyboards, harmonica and a harmonium that the producer himself played with such intensity he passed out on the floor. Martin would have several good turns on the keyboards, performing a lively music hall solo on McCartney's 'Lovely Rita' and a Baroque reverie (at studio-heightened speed) on Lennon's 'In My Life.'

"The Beatles were a miracle not only of talent, but of chemistry. No producer was better suited for them than the resourceful and open-minded Sir George Martin, who dedicated himself to serving their vision instead of imposing his own."

And therein is everything.

"If anyone earned the title of the fifth Beatle it was George," Paul McCartney said Wednesday following the announcement of Martin's death at age 90.

We've explored some of the significance and lasting legacy of George Martin's professional life. We strongly suggest you read Hillel Italie's fine story that offers a chronology and fascinating details of his critical role in the success of the four lads from Liverpool. It includes a video link from an ABC News interview with George Martin.

( )


#  2 news feature...


One of our favorite venues has a fine show.

At the Coffee Gallery Backstage, 2029 N Lake Av, Altadena 91001. Reservations, 626-798-6236.

√ Wed, Mar 9; 8 pm; Tix, $15:

"Laurie has got to be from another planet. I've never met anyone - except maybe Richie Havens - who is so open-hearted and full of love for humanity, yet who appears to experience life on a different plane than everybody else. Her music is as innocent as it is informed by experience, as playful as it is rooted, and as detail-oriented as it is grand in scope. Lucky for the rest of us, she's translated her Earthly experience onto record, and called it 'Ascend.'" -Devon Sproule.

"Laurie is a true artist. She opens hearts and sings from a place of depth and love. She held my tough NYC audience with her masterful storytelling, strong lyrics and vulnerable voice, moving them to tears and laughter. If she is performing anywhere near you, run to see her. You will not be disappointed; you will be transformed." — Kathryn, Kathryn's House Concert Series, NYC.

"Laurie's voice has a raw, genuine classic folk resonance that pulls you into every song.” — Singer Magazine.

“Laurie turns each venue into her own living room, and each listener into a new friend with her disarming humor and passionate performance. Laurie's songs explore the themes of identity, growth, friendship and love in a way that always honors the fundamental mysteries of the human journey. In this Mecca of songwriters, she is a gem of uniqueness and authenticity." — JM Kearns.

Plus the talents of DAVE MORRISON. . People have been saying nice things about Dave Morrison. Legendary Philadelphia Folk DJ Gene Shay played a couple of Dave's tunes on his radio show during the last "Philadelphia Folk Festival," which Gene founded and hosts. He compared Dave Morrison's music to Steve Goodman's. Acclaimed Chicago duo, Small Potatoes, has recorded two of Dave's songs and calls him, "Our second-favorite songwriter." (Who's their number one? Michael Smith, who wrote "The Dutchman." Not too shabby.)

√ The CGB show tomorrow, Thursday, March 10, "A Tribute to P.F. Sloan" is SOLD OUT.


# 3 news feature...


By Terry Edelman

(Terry's story, fresh today, seems an unlikely tale, until you realize the tactile nature of old systems with knobs is being rediscovered everywhere. It's coming back at a furious pace because multiple screens of virtual controls can't possibly have the "feel." Enjoy.)

(Hollywood, Calif., March 9, 2016) – “Today’s student is very much an entrepreneur,” says Jonathan Newkirk, Chair of MI’s audio engineering department.

He continues, “They want to be able to wear all of the hats, whether it’s learning how to play the guitar, self-branding, or familiarizing themselves with various aspects of production.”

The Musicians Institute was formed in the late '70s under the guidance of members of the Wrecking Crew, a collection of crack Los Angeles session musicians who played on countless hit records. Initially designed to train the next generation of session musicians, it focused exclusively on music performance until the mid '90s. But as the industry evolved into the digital age, the Musicians Institute added course offerings in audio engineering and other disciplines. Now, most of their students seek to acquire a diverse range of skills to achieve success in a rapidly evolving industry.

After visiting the BAE Audio booth at the Audio Engineering Society convention in 2013, Newkirk reached out to BAE’s Colin Liebich to present a unique seminar at the school on analog signal processing featuring BAE Audio products.

The Musicians Institute supplements its course offerings with seminars led by industry-recognized producers, engineers, and manufacturers, so it wasn't a unique contact. But it turned out to be a significant one.

Finding the Right Tool for the Job

For Newkirk and the Musicians Institute, BAE Audio’s range of preamplifiers and signal processors make for an ideal teaching tool.

“BAE is the most authentic recreation of the classic console channels available,” Newkirk says, adding, “Their history and reputation for quality make them exactly the right fit for the classroom.”

Liebich, who does technical seminars — as many as a dozen times a year — designs his presentations to demonstrate the versatility, sound quality, and workflow of vintage-designed hardware.

“Colin brought in a wide range of BAE mic pres and we ran everything through the console so students could go up and hear a live mic through the different signal paths,” Newkirk says. “Colin is really engaging and the students loved the sound of the gear right away.”

A Feel for Analog

For Liebich, it’s part history lesson and part studio tips-and-tricks session. He says, “There’s so much tradecraft to bring to them, such as to how a recording was originally made through an analog desk, and how they can recreate that with a few simple pieces of gear. We talk about everything that would be done in the recording studio in 1970 and how it still applies today.”

For some students, Liebich’s seminars are their first extensive hands-on with analog gear.

“Many of these students have grown-up in a completely digital world where everything relating to music production is done on their laptop,” Newkirk says. “We have to educate them on where audio came from and how these techniques and this gear remain important to creating great recordings.”

Newkirk observes that the students react strongly to the sound of the BAE gear as well as the tactile nature of manipulating the knobs.

“The whole thing really sinks-in for them when they’ve got their hand on the EQ and they’re clicking through and hearing the results,” he says.

Musicians Institute has BAE gear installed in the racks of several of its on-campus recording studios, so students have the opportunity to apply their new knowledge to their next recording project.

“I always encourage the students to drain the brain of the clinician and take it back to our rooms and start using it right away,” says Newkirk.

Liebich encourages students to experiment with making decisions on input. “I’m often asked if I commit to an EQ setting when recording a vocal or something,” Liebich says.

“'Absolutely,' I tell them! It gets them thinking in a more analog way than they’re used to when they’re working completely in the box,” he asserts.

The Best of Both Worlds

Newkirk says his best students intuit how important analog gear is in the modern studio, explaining, “The students that really get it know they need a blend of analog and digital. They want high quality hardware to create a great signal chain combined with the flexibility of fine tuning in the box.”

Liebich relishes his role in spreading the good word about analog and gear from his employer, BAE Audio.

“It’s really important to educate young people about analog,” says Liebich. “These are the future hit makers, and its crucial to teach them about how much they can benefit from having access to an awesome analog signal path in the studio.”

Newkirk says that after his seminar, many students mention they would like to own BAE Audio hardware in their future studios. 

Liebich adds another fact that makes it obvious the students love both his BAE gear and his workshops: he can’t get rid of them.

“They always stay after,” he says.


# 4 news feature...


By Bob Stane

(Bob is the impresario of the Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena, often named the best intimate acoustic music venue in Southern California. His long history in show biz includes founding the world-famous Ice House — as a combined music and comedy haven — and before that, running the Playboy Clubs. He often shares brilliantly funny tales with the subscribers of his CGB newsletter. Sign-up for that, free, by emailing him at: )

Here's Bob's latest tale...

Did I ever tell you the story of when I won a baby duck at The Orange Show in San Bernardino? We can never have too many yellow duckie stories.

Yes, many decades ago in a place called San Bernardino there is a yearly event in the Spring called The National Orange Show. It is a fair where long gone agriculture is celebrated with weasel racing and carnival frauds. These are not those crude weasel races, where a monkey sits on the back of a rodent, but a real trotting event with little carts driven by a whipping monkey pulled by a thoroughbred weasel.

The Sport of Rubes and The Easily Deceived.

Last year was the 100th birthday of The National Orange Show. One-hundred weasels and a hundred monkeys duked it out for the big trifecta of simian speedsters.

A banana went to the winner. The weasels ate the losers.

Enough of that. I, as a preteen, had too much time on my hands and an urge to see the bright lights of the midway and smell the stench of the unwashed carnival barkers.

Show business is my life.

So, with my four shiny quarters, I ventured into the sinfulness of the midway destined to never be without poultry for a long time.

My first game of chance was some sort of ring toss and luck smiled. I won a yellow baby duck.

The barker stuffed the mini-quacker into a Chinese take-home box and I, not to press my luck when good fortune stretched out her hand, immediately hoofed out of the show grounds to show my prize to my parents (one of whom is now, also, over 100 years old).

It peeped all the way on the bus ride home.

This was the most fortunate of ducks. It was won by a former farm boy who knew how to take care of it, with parents who just did not mind as long as the messy guy lived outdoors. Ducks have poor toilet manners. They need a big yard and we had the perfect amount of land.

We named him "Duck Rogers."

So I dug a pit for him in the back yard and filled it with a garden hose. Guess what? He took to his pond like a duck to water.

Time quickly passed and "peeps" turned into quacks and our back yard became Mr. Roger's neighborhood. And he prospered and ate lots of mash and grew to be large and white with a fine curly butt tail feather and became as much a part of the family as the law allowed. And he was never eaten nor had a tragedy of any kind.

Eventually, we had to leave San Bernardino as do so many, many, many people. And we had to part with Duck Rogers. So one afternoon I took him aside and told him that...

1. There was no Santa Claus and that I bought the mash that he had been eating all these months. and

2. He was a duck.

He took the Santa thing like a good soldier, but was uncomfortable in his own feathers per the duck expose. He had always wanted to be a real boy and own a bicycle. Of course he wanted Santa to bring the bicycle, but I had a plausible lie every Christmas which he always "bought."

After all, he was a duck, and not a rocket scientist. You can fool them. But you must be smarter than a duck. I was but, let's face it... I talked to ducks, so I barely got over the bar.

The time of parting finally came. One morning I took him to the big lake in the park and pointed him to a gaggle of orange billed, web footed guys wearing feathers. I said to him, "This is Pleasure Island and you can live here forever and swim until you are water logged, do as you wish and eat pollywogs and worms and smoke cigars and do Groucho Marx imitations for the rest of your life. And you do not have to wash behind your ears."

And he waddled to the big gang of waterfowl, who welcomed him with open wings, and he never looked back.

Good bye, Duck Rogers, bird of my youth. This might not be a great story, but it had a happy ending for us all. And that's the most any of us can hope for.

Tell me your animal story. Go to: for more non-duck features.

(Thanks, Bob. Being birds of a feather, we'll send you the "bill." But that would be quackery.)


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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS and views of interest to artists everywhere, more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music, both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues, and schedules and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues monumentally large and intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the roots of the blues and where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell.

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