Category: Music

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The Players

Friends invited me to attend Spirit West Coast at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in 2008. I couldn’t guess what to expect—and, whoa, what a surprise. The atmosphere felt good and the overall ambience refreshed and enlivened. Christian musicians. Families. Young adults. All having fun at a festival where there was no alcohol or illegal substances. I was surprised. Transfixed.

I attended the following year, too. But those days are gone. The music festival no longer comes to San Diego County.

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Chickenbone Slim and the Biscuits

I came upon a blues band playing outside our auto mechanic’s shop on Oct. 16, 2021, while walking to fetch more Orijen dry food for our cats Cali and Neko. The place is closed on Saturdays (and Sundays, too). I listened for a bit before continuing along Adams Avenue, in San Diego’s Normal Heights neighborhood, to Pet Me Please.

My wife met me with the car to take home the 12-pound (5.4 kg) bag of kibble. I plodded back to the service station, where I used Leica Q2 to capture the Featured Image and companion, iPhone 13 Pro to film the one-minute video clip, and my hands to pay for and grab Chickenbone Slim CD “Sleeper”.

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Apple iPod Turns 20

On this date in 2001, Apple unveiled iPod, its fourth major endeavor for that year—at great risk, by entering a new product category for which the company had no prior experience and during a time of financial hardship. Recession gripped the United States; Apple had suffered share price and quarterly revenue setbacks as a result.

Six weeks earlier, terrorists flew highjacked American airliners into the World Trade Center (collapsing the Twin Towers) and the Pentagon. There was grim mood around the country, which created poor receptive marketing atmosphere for launching anything. Then there was the distraction dogging the tech industry: Windows XP’s impending global debut two days later.

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The Music Box

This must rank as the strangest thing seen in any University Heights yard—and I wonder what is the backstory. Is a harp inside the crate? Was an instrument delivered or waits pick up? Could the rustic box be placed as a lawn ornament, recognizing that no rain is expected to fall in San Diego for months? Surely even empty the wooden container is valuable—for collectible vintage, shipping usability, or both.

My wife and I passed by the crate, earlier today, while walking along Mission near Florida. Later, I left her at our apartment and returned to shoot the Featured Image and companion—both using Leica Q2. Vitals for the first, aperture manually set for both: f/4, ISO 100, 1/250 sec, 28mm; 9:36 a.m. PDT.

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What Does Popular Music Tell Us About Race in America?

Someone please explain this to me—seeing as I am an older white guy who is supposedly clueless about social justice matters. Today, I moseyed over to the Billboard Hot 100 to see where ranked controversial Cardi B song “WAP”, which is shorthand for “Wet-Ass Pussy”. The tune is Number One its only week on the chart. That’s an impressive debut.

Unexpectedly, I am perplexed by the other nine, in context of racial riots raging across the country; protesters demanding “no justice, no peace“; and U.S. representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) calling for “unrest in the streets“. Among the Top 10 songs, seven are from artists of color (the majority men); one is from a mixed-race troupe;  and two are from white male solo singers. If anyone is looking for someplace where there is black representation, look no further.

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Flickr a Week 7b: ‘The NYC Band, The Upwelling’

Our Sunday spot shouldn’t be, because of endings: The photographer is no longer active on Flickr, and I am unable to confirm that his subject matter still exists. But I can’t resist the portrait for looking to be exactly what it is—in purest, iconic, grainy, black-and-white composition: An indy rock group.

Steve Hardy shot self-titled “The NYC Band, The Upwelling” on Jan. 24, 2009, using Canon EOS Digital Rebel XSi. Vitals: f/2.8, ISO 1600,1/15 sec, 33mm. He describes himself as a “Grammy Award and multi-platinum, award-winning mix engineer”. He mixed the group’s album “An American Stranger”, which released in August of the same year that he snapped the photo.

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Jesus Christ Superstar in San Diego

This afternoon, my wife and I attended one of two matinee showings for “Jesus Christ Superstar”, which is making a 50th-anniversary U.S. tour. The new stage play started in Syracuse, New York, on Oct. 1, 2019 and is scheduled to end in Fort Worth on Aug. 30, 2020. As I write, two local shows, at San Diego Civic Center, remain: Tomorrow at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. PST. I enjoyed the performance enough to want to see it again, but that’s not happening.

Anne and I sat in the last row of the Orchestra section; seats 44 and 46. The location was close enough to fully see the performers and enjoy the music (the arrangement was fantabulous). Having not been to this theatre before, I chose to purchase presale tix that put us aways back but not too far. After attending, and seeing the musicians high over the back of the stage rather than in a pit before it, I might move forward. That said, because the cast performed across the stage, and above it, ORCHR3 V44 and 46 gave great vantage point. Closer seats are lower to the platform, perhaps too much so.

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Thanks, Tidal

Concurrent with the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 kick-off and other Day 0 announcements, music streaming service Tidal updated its Android app (hehe, sorry iOS users) to support Masters. Oh, yeah, baby. Gimme, gimme. Tidal unveiled Masters, in licensing partnership with MQA, two years ago during the same tech gala.

Abandoning Apple for Google products during summer 2018 meant my giving up Tidal Masters, which until today were only available on the macOS and Windows desktop apps. Because Chrome OS supports Android apps, I can now listen to Masters on my laptop, not just smartphone. You can, too (if not an Apple device user).

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I Lied About Quitting Tidal

I can count on two hands, which soon may not be enough, how many times that I cancelled the Tidal music service only to resume weeks later. I first joined on April 1, 2015, when the rebranded music streamer started. Three days before my then most recent renewal date, June 30, 2018, I pledged to end my subscription for good. Simple reason: The Wilcox household subscribes to too many services, and Tidal is among the most expensive at $19.95 per month. I terminated, as planned.

But as expressed six months ago, “the new rule is this: we will pay for what we get good value”. My aging ears derive too much value from music streamed as so-called hifi—Free Lossless Audio Codec, delivered at 44 kHz, 16 bit, and 1411kbps bitrate. I can hear the difference, compared to muddy 320kbps MP3 or 256kbps AAC files. Every time I switch services, the muddy sound—particularly pronounced in vocals—drives me back to FLAC, and to Tidal. About two weeks later, in mid-July, I celebrated my birthday with yet another return. My subscription is uninterrupted nearly six months later. 

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Grado GW100 Review

When I first opened the box containing the Grado Labs GW100 headphones, one word came to mind: “Cheap”. The cans didn’t look or feel like the classy Grado RS1i and RS1e, which I once owned, or the GS1000e that are still beloved and possessed. But after connecting to Google Pixel 2 XL (and later the 3 XL), via Bluetooth, I exclaimed: “Priceless”. The first offering in the company’s “Wireless Series” rises to an audiophile class unmatched by most competing cans; I prefer the GW100 to the GS1000e, which cost four times more to buy. Four words best describe the experience listening to music of any genre: Natural. ImmersiveBalanced. Authentic.

The GW100 are unique among wireless headphones by design: They are open-back like Grado’s wired models, but they are unlike all other major manufacturers’ wireless cans, which typically cover the ears and/or impose oppressively confining noise cancellation. I understand that commuters on noisy trains or travelers on rumbling airplanes might want NC, but the feature creates a cone of silence that is very unnatural. By comparison, the GW100’s open-air design allows music to expand, while—I must concede—letting in background noise going on about you.