the dust settles… suburbia, santa fe, and sea change…

We made the move back on July 6th and Erin and I have been here over a month now. The whole process has felt like falling into a black hole and now we have emerged on the other side, dropped off in generic, white-bread suburbia. All in all though, aside from the unrelenting glut of corporate chain stores and restaurants and the clusterfuck that is the South Wadsworth and Bowles area in Littleton, which we avoid as much as possible, I like where we are now as it seems to be a kind of “no man’s land” that the greedy developers haven’t discovered yet. That of course, will change, but hopefully by then, we should be moving again. We went from Golden Ridge to Dakota Ridge, traded in a view of the dilapidated trailer park to watch the goings on at the dog park, which is infinitely much better, and we’re still about 15 minutes away from Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison.

The view to the northwest toward Morrison, afternoon thunderhead. Yes, we live next to a freeway but we hardly ever hear it.

The energy has shifted in a big way over the last month… so much that is new and all for the better, but I underestimated my down time in the studio; I am only now getting back to work and it’s August. The addition and incorporation of new gear in a new recording space always slows things down a little and some of that had been anticipated – the purchase of my first completely analog synthesizer since 1986 – but replacing a computer, operating system, and installing a new version of the music software I’ve been using was not expected but became necessary. A certain learning curve is involved. As a result, the full album, Outlier, will be coming out sometime in the first few months of 2019. I’m already hearing that this is a going to be a very different sounding album from what I first envisioned. A sea change. So now a 2-3 song single release is planned for October, early November as I finish up with what has already been recorded and mixed and only needs to be mastered at this point.

All that’s missing here is a unicorn…

The dust continues to settle and new routines become established… In the meantime, we took a short weekend trip down to Santa Fe last week for the opera and to do all the usual Santa Fe things we do.  And it became a kind of nothing-goes-as-planned weekend (brought to you by… Mercury retrograde, of course)… from almost getting fried in the Waterfall pool at Ten Thousand Waves when a lightning storm moved overhead to power outages in town and technical difficulties at the opera the next day. We ate enough excellent New Mexican food at Maria’s and the Shed with coin margaritas to make up for it. A much-needed road trip in the midst of all the recent changes. A brief pictorial here:

Sunday morning on Water St., downtown…
Santa Fe Opera House, waiting for sundown…
Another Santa Fe morning…
Art market on the Plaza…
Margs at the Shed… It’s very orange-y in here…
First ones at the Cowgirl on Guadalupe St., always a fun place…
Heading back home through the Springs, Pikes Peak in the center…

‘Til next time, when we’ve gone hiking for the first time this summer, just as it’s coming to an end (thankfully as always).

Cover artwork for the 3-song single/EP “Snow Day”, which was released on December 23rd, 2017. Available on all digital media outlets…
Cover artwork for the “The Wheels Are Coming Off” single, released on June 12, 2018. Click for the larger image…

The most recent releases from Nights on Venus are the 2-song single, “The Wheels Are Coming Off“, released this summer, and the 3-song single/EP, “Snow Day“, from December, 2017.

The most recent full-length release “We Are All Haunted by Something” was released in the summer of 2017 and includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All albums/singles/EPs from Nights on Venus are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, Amazon MP3. and the NoV website.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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the new single is out now, and move update…

Click for the larger image…

The Wheels Are Coming Off” was released this past week on June 12th and is now available on iTunes, Apple Music, Amazon MP3, Bandcamp, and all digital media outlets, including Spotify and Tidal. The final cover artwork appears below from the Bandcamp page.

The “B-side” on this is “Our Alternate Lives” which features Erin on alto sax. The mastering on the songs was done by Brian Hazard at Resonance Mastering as always. Thanks for listening!

Originally I had scheduled this release for the end of May, early June, but back then I did not know we would be in the process of moving during this time. We made that decision on May 4th and a month later, after the first and only weekend of showings, we went under contract (yes, the Golden market right now is hot, hot, disco… muy caliente). The inspection took place and has been signed off on this past week. We’re only waiting for the appraisal at this point but we will definitely be moving now in just 3 weeks, finalized as of yesterday.

It’s a sideways move, and speaks to the power of intention, the intent being that we would sell the house quickly and make this move with relative ease. So far it has been, and what seems like a puzzling move to some of our friends will ultimately get us where we want to go, which is back up to the mountains. Evergreen or beyond.

De-cluttering and packing is in full swing now. Even though we de-clutter twice a year already, there’s still a lot of stuff we’re getting rid of now – 6 years of being in one place. Moving is always a pain in the ass – it’s bittersweet, but you just can’t be attached to material stuff.

I won’t have too much down time in the studio during the move – the full album release is still planned for late November/early December, but if the release date slips into 2019, there will be another single release in mid-October.

It’s raining right now, finally… first time in a month. We need the rain, but no hail. Not here, not now.

All previous Nights on Venus albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and also the NoV Website.

Sunday afternoon in the The ‘Cave Studio, Golden,CO… one corner of it anyway. Fender Strat “Buddy”, red Reverend Charger 290LE “Prince”…Reverend Rocco “Goldenboy” in the background…

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

“Everything popular is wrong.” – Oscar Wilde

on the move in the summer of 2018…

After 6 years here at la casa NoV in west Golden, we are moving to new digs within the next couple of months. This is the move we didn’t see coming but now it has come to pass, and this week, the purging, de-cluttering, and packing has begun. So this summer will be completely different than the last 6…

And the month of June now will be spent purging and packing as well.
Anybody out there a big fan of moving? Yeah, neither am I.
I’d rather be hiking.

Spring afternoon, Golden…

Erin and I would probably spend another few years here in the quiet oasis (bubble) we’ve created with our home, but the surroundings outside that bubble are what’s precipitating this move now. Long story short, the neighborhood had begun its precipitous slide downhill over the last 2 years or so, but especially over the last 6 months, aided and enabled by the City of Golden (boooo!).

The neighborhood wasn’t like this in 2015. Now it’s the constant construction, the increased traffic on the narrow streets, the un-maneuverable roundabout on the main thoroughfare in and out, the behemoth “luxury” garden duplexes, the eyesore to our immediate south, the nascent competition between two biker bars that will turn a half-mile stretch of West Colfax into mini-Sturgis this and every summer to follow. It has been the druggies and the “Breaking Bad” DIY meth lab in the trailer park (which the police, to their credit, did find and shut down), and the fence – the Goddamn tattered, ragamuffin fence of said trailer park which is owned by corporate slumlords based out of Chicago (hey, City of Golden, you ever hear of code enforcement?).

Erin has called it blight and she’s right. Granted, it’s far from the worst blight I’ve ever seen but it’s more blight than we care to deal with. This ain’t wine and it’s not going to improve with age. To the buyers of those new $700,000-$800,000 “luxury” eyesore garden duplexes, you’re going to just love your views of that trailer park and the ease of access into your new [overpriced] home. Enjoy! I imagine you will be talking to the City of Golden (boooo!) a lot in the years to come.

So, our house goes on the market in two weeks and we’re gettin’ out while the gettin’s good… Or as Chuck at the nearby U-Haul said, “Oh, you’re cashing out…” Something like that. Well, we won’t be going far… just 5-8 miles away, ’cause we’re westenders.

Right now I’m finishing up on current projects including the new 2-song single from Nights on Venus – “The Wheels Are Coming Off / Our Alternate Lives” – will be released on June 12th (6.12.18), about 3 1/2 weeks, in the midst of all the packing and general moving mayhem which I’m hoping can be kept to a minimum. The mixes on the songs are finalized and are going to mastering this week. And here is the preliminary cover artwork…

“The Wheels Are Coming Off”…

Final cover artwork may vary. We will see you next month, in transition.

Album cover for “We Are All Haunted by Something”, released on July 23, 2017. This is the old abandoned Apache Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico – shot taken in 2009. The image of the night sky is from Justin Marsh, added with his permission.
Cover artwork for the most recent 3-song single/EP “Snow Day”, released on December 23rd, 2017. Available now on all digital media outlets…

The most recent releases from NoV are the 3-song single/EP “Snow Day” and the full-length album, “We Are All Haunted by Something“, both from 2017. “We Are All Haunted…” includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, and Amazon MP3.

Speed of Life“,Unearthly, Santos and all previous Nights on Venus albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and also the NoV Website.

Sunday afternoon in the The ‘Cave Studio, Golden,CO… one corner of it anyway. Fender Strat “Buddy”, red Reverend Charger 290LE “Prince”…Reverend Rocco “Goldenboy” in the background…

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

“Everything popular is wrong.” – Oscar Wilde

the more things change…

A couple of articles this past week from the Digital Music News that everyone should know about, if you didn’t already. For both listener/consumers of music and music creators, this is a heads up.

The first article:
Fair Warning: Amazon Music Will Delete All of Your MP3s on April 30th

Right there in the very first sentence… “Underscoring the death of MP3 downloads…” Well that sounds ominous. If you download regularly – and I do, though not necessarily from Amazon MP3 – you may be wondering: when did this happen?

Apparently, this has been an ongoing thing the last couple of years and as the article points out, “It’s a dying product, and Amazon is just managing the wind-down.” Not unlike, say… the 8-track tape in the early 1980s. Not profitable for them, I get it. But, as a music producer and record label owner, I do know that a fair amount of my sales have come from Amazon MP3. And the implications for you, if you are an independent recording artist producing music, are obvious: after this month, Amazon MP3 downloads will no longer be a source of revenue, a stream of income for you, and you will have to make that up somewhere else.

As an Amazon MP3 listener/consumer, pay special attention to this: “Users can choose to keep their tracks on the cloud simply by clicking “Keep my songs” under Music Settings“. That means their cloud is also going away.

On a personal note: This is the main reason I don’t trust “clouds” wherever they exist in cyberspace… just too nebulous for me.

OK, haha, pun intended… At least Amazon is giving you “Fair Warning”… Cue Todd; Edgar Winter on saxophone.

Second verse, same as the first:
An Apple Executive Says iTunes Music Downloads Will Be Shut Down

This news is significantly more alarming, again for you and me – the independent recording artist. The timetable seems to be set for the 1st Quarter of 2019. From Jimmy Iovine, now an Apple executive but as rock music fans know, a record producer going all the way back to the early 1970s: “There is no concrete timescale, but he said: “If I’m honest, it’s when people stop buying. It’s very simple.”

The takeaway from both of these articles: the big boys – Apple and Amazon, and others – are driving music listeners and consumers to their subscription services. Streaming.

Well, as I’ve said before, listening to music through your smart phone through ear buds really is not the way to listen to music (see my post from 2/4/2018). I don’t care how good the quality of the phone is or if you have Bose ear buds, I will repeat: this is NOT the way to listen to music. Music you care about anyway…

Sure, I get that a subscription service is convenient for the consumer, but really, subscription streaming is to music what Keurig pods are to real (i.e., good) coffee. And that ain’t good. Lazy is what it is.

(Of course, music > coffee. I only make this analogy to reference the current popularity and convenience of the “product”).

In case you hadn’t noticed (or I didn’t make it clear previously), I am very passionate about music – very passionate about the way music is written, performed, and recorded, very passionate about the way it should be heard and listened to, and very passionate about the way music should be put out into the world. I really don’t care if it’s more expedient for music distribution companies to go all-in on streaming or what their bottom line is because in the long game of musical chairs these companies play on how to deliver music, it’s just another format for them. And just another format means that it can be easily replaced with some other format at any time.

In fact, this is the whole history of the music industry: selling the same music to us, the music consumer, over and over again in a never-ending smorgasbord of new and different formats. It keeps the money rolling in…

And it has done so, right up until the digital age…
I know, I’ve done it. I would have an album I loved on vinyl. When I didn’t have a good quality tape cassette recorder back in high school, I’d go buy the cassette tape of the same album because it was convenient and I wanted to listen to it in my car on the tape deck. A high-school classmate of mine, who has been a music lawyer in the industry for many years now, said at the time (and obviously, I have not forgotten it), “Boy, the record companies must love you.”

I’m sure they did. When CDs came out in the late 1980s, I kept my vinyl albums and bought many of the same albums on CD as well (look ma, no pops! And these’ll last for 75 years… or so we were told).

The Art of Listening
…is a lost art in the 21st century.
As Duke Ellington once said: “The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen.”

Truth… and I would say that applies equally to music listeners/consumers. Listen to music the best way possible – when you have time, on a good stereo system, not as background music on your smart phone to go with your “active lifestyle” or whatever. At those times, you’re not really listening. Sure, you hear some music. Hearing isn’t listening.

And it’s not just music. In the larger picture, not listening has become endemic to this culture (I’m speaking American culture since that’s where I’m situated). Very few people take the time to actually listen – to what’s being said, to others – without trying to get their own two cents in, talk over someone else, refute someone else’s argument, or interrupt, distract or deflect (watch any network news program). The act of real listening is something that is no longer really valued on a societal level, and it shows up here, in the appreciation and valuation of listening to music as well.

True listening to an artist’s music implies ownership of that music through an available format – that is, you have a copy of that artist’s music that you can listen to anytime you want, in-depth, at your leisure, and is not dependent on anything else, such as a platform to serve it up to you via the Internet. It is always there available to you because you paid for it.

You love a particular artist/band’s music? Then buy it. Own it. Listen to it all you want. Most of all, enjoy it. Their music has enhanced your life. Forever. It has made your life richer. I would say this even if I were not a musician/recording artist since I am and always will be a music listener/consumer as well.

Spend your money on the artists you love, not on a subscription service that does not pay artists nearly enough or a fair rate for their work, or in the case of Spotify, is only there to sell you… Spotify, the platform. What’s next? Spotify, the Movie?

The implicit message of subscribing to a music streaming service is that you really don’t care about the music you claim to love because you’re supporting the service and not the artist, by not investing in that artist’s work.

The music is the most important thing, first and foremost. Spend your money on the artists, not the techies. I say this both as an artist, but also as one of those ‘techies’, having been in the I.T. world as a web developer for 14 years.

As I said earlier this year regarding any particular streaming platform, you cannot put the cart before the horse. Because eventually you have no horse (i.e., the artists making the music). Spend your money on the artists and on those formats which have endured – i.e., CDs, vinyl LPs, MP3 downloads where you can find them in the near future (CD Baby, Bandcamp, eMusic for sure… Rhapsody?), and even tape cassettes. There’s a reason those formats have endured and continue to: they’re the best… for listening. Ownership of the music you love is the way to go. Always.

What am I listening to right now? My favorite ZZ Top album, “Degüello“… on vinyl. Yes, I did grow up in Texas… Tejas. Yes, I did grow up on vinyl records, reel-to-reel tape (very sexy in the early 1970s), tape cassettes, 8-track tapes, digital audio tapes, CDs, DVDs, digital downloads (MP3, MP4, FLAC, .WAV), and… occasionally streaming (but I don’t subscribe). Did I leave anything out?

What this means for me as a music producer whose revenue stream from downloads comes primarily from Apple iTunes at this point is that I will be releasing the next album and subsequent albums on CD with an eye toward vinyl LPs as the budget (me again, as record company) can accommodate. It also means I will be going through my previous albums, probably re-mastering a few songs, possibly re-sequencing a few things to put the entire catalog on CDs, again with an eye toward vinyl. Is there a demand for this? Most likely… not. So full speed ahead.

Nights on Venus News:
Just finished up the mastered demo for “The Wheels Are Coming Off” which will be featured in the forthcoming Bond movie, “Bond 25“… No, just kidding (but it should be). You can preview it right here via Soundcloud.

The Wheels Are Coming Off” will be released as a 2-song single at the end of May/early June with the B-side, “Our Alternate Lives“, and both will appear on the new album, scheduled now for late November, 2018. More details to follow… As always, thank you for tuning in and, most importantly, listening… – Craig

Album cover for “We Are All Haunted by Something”, released on July 23, 2017. This is the old abandoned Apache Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico – shot taken in 2009. The image of the night sky is from Justin Marsh, added with his permission.
Cover artwork for the most recent 3-song single/EP “Snow Day”, released on December 23rd, 2017. Available now on all digital media outlets…

The most recent releases from NoV are the 3-song single/EP “Snow Day” and the full-length album, “We Are All Haunted by Something“, both from 2017. “We Are All Haunted…” includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, and Amazon MP3.

Speed of Life“,Unearthly, Santos and all previous Nights on Venus albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and also the NoV Website.

Sunday afternoon in the The ‘Cave Studio, Golden,CO… one corner of it anyway. Fender Strat “Buddy”, red Reverend Charger 290LE “Prince”…Reverend Rocco “Goldenboy” in the background…

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Words to live by…
“Everything popular is wrong.” – Oscar Wilde

 

 

 

are musical tastes formed for life… by age 14?

This week’s post comes from an article that appeared in the New York Times a few weeks ago. “The Songs That Bind“… I found it via the Digital Music News and here’s their article on it.

That’s an interesting question and premise and of course, one that I would be very interested in as both a musician and a listener/consumer as music has pretty much defined my entire life (growing up in a musical household will do that).

The basic premise of the study, with data culled from Spotify, is that our lifelong musical tastes are formed in early adolescence – for men, between the ages of 13-16; for women, slightly earlier, between the ages of 11-14. In his study, Seth focuses solely on the songs that were popular for people of those age ranges throughout the years of popular music, for each generation.

I would tend to agree with his findings, for the most part, and I think the article and study is fascinating and a good one albeit incomplete as it covers only the data on songs – the “chart-topping songs” – and does not include genres, specific albums, or the conditioning aspects of hearing those songs repeatedly on the radio, or the additional conditioning influence of peer influence/acceptance which can be such a determining factor in those early adolescent years, or even, and perhaps more importantly, what a young listener might have heard in their home or on the radio before those early adolescent years.

I thought back to my own listening experiences, what influenced me the most during those years from 13 to 16 which corresponds to the years from 1969 to 1972. A visual list…

The 9 most influential albums for me personally from 1969-1972 (age 13-16) – influential as in most impactful from the first time I heard them. From left to right, top to bottom, in roughly chronological order: Led Zeppelin I, Three Dog Night – Naturally, Derek & the Dominos – Layla & Other Love Songs, Alice Cooper – Killer, The Who – Who’s Next, Mott the Hoople – All the Young Dudes, Todd Rundgren – Something/Anything?, David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars, and Lou Reed – Transformer.

I focus mostly on albums here rather than the chart-topping songs because even back then I listened more to albums than songs on the various radio stations although I might have first become acquainted with a band’s music via radio whether AM or FM (e.g., Three Dog Night). I can certainly remember the first time I heard Led Zeppelin’s debut album in 1969 – in full in Mr. Kyzer’s art class at St. Mark’s School (Dallas, TX) in the first quarter of 7th grade. That definitely had an impact, particularly the song “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You“… but I remember the song from that day in art class, not the radio. Eventually the song became an FM radio staple as did most of Led Zep’s songs.

As far as specific songs that hit the sweet spot of peak influence at age 14, I can think of several right offhand: “Layla” from Derek & the Dominos, Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come“, “One Man Band” and “Never Been to Spain” (and pretty much every song off the Naturally and Harmony albums), from the Jackson 5 with a young Michael Jackson, “ABC” and “I’ll Be There“, and from the heavier side of things, Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen” and “The Song Is Over” by The Who. That covers a lot of musical ground in just one year.

I can remember thinking, after the first few times I heard “Layla”, that it was the greatest rock song ever recorded. The Who’s “The Song Is Over” after all these years is still my favorite song of all time and probably will remain so (unless “Purple Rain” or “Take Me With U” eventually overtake it).

Initially, Seth’s findings would appear to hold true even if that list wasn’t all chart-topping songs. I asked Erin if she remembered what she was listening to and what her favorite songs were between the ages of 11 and 14, which for her would correspond to the years 1972-1975. She said she remembered listening to a lot of Chicago… like around the time of “Wishing You Were Here” (released in October, 1974) and a couple of others from the album Chicago 7 – “(I’ve Been) Searching So Long” and “Call on Me“. The latter I’ll include here because it comes with some vintage footage from The Caribou Ranch Recording Studio in nearby Nederland (CO).

She said she also listened to the Doobie Brothers, a lot of Aerosmith (covers everything from “Dream On” to “Walk This Way“) and the Stones during that time – think “It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll“, also released in October, 1974. From that same time period, “Do It Again” from 1972 is her favorite Steely Dan song.

So far so good, the study looks to be fairly accurate and you can try this out at home… Your results may vary. Having said that, there are songs, albums, and bands I can think of that I love just as much that fall outside of those peak years of influence and Seth acknowledges that as well. I know I love “Saturday Night” by Suede (a.k.a. The London Suede) from 1997 or most of Guided by Voices’ work all the way into the 2000s, up through their most recent releases in 2017, “August by Cake” and “How Do You Spell Heaven”, as much as anything from the early 1970s and the same could be said of a lot of Buddy Holly songs from the 1950s when I was too young to remember anything I would have heard then.

It would be interesting to expand this kind of study into other areas of how our musical tastes are formed. This study found the age range of peak influence for people’s musical tastes based only on songs but certainly musical tastes are formed much earlier in a person’s life. It would be interesting for instance, to do a similar study based on genres, particular types of music. If someone grows up hearing a certain genre or genres when they’re young, such as rock or country, jazz or pop or rhythm & blues, are they more predisposed to mostly listen to that genre to the exclusion of other genres after the age of peak influence? That might seem like an obvious thing but nothing’s set in stone.

The study showed people’s preferences for particular songs, songs they liked at a certain age, but then would the songs, genres, or bands they had an aversion to during the ages of peak influence preclude them from ever listening to that song or artist? To this day I still can’t stomach “Brandy” (Looking Glass, 1972) or bubble-gum pop.

Within a band or artist’s overall work, it would be interesting to see if a person had favorite songs or a favorite album that falls within the early adolescent period and then gradually doesn’t listen to much of the artist’s later music but still loves those 1 or more albums and songs from the peak influence years. Or maybe they come across an artist’s work much later, an artist who might not have existed when they were 13 or 14, but sounds familiar to what they listened to back then.

And finally, another thing I’d also be very curious to see in a study like this is what effect a major life event or otherwise intense experience (usually an emotional one) has as far as forming a bond with certain songs outside of those peak influence years. From my own experience, I know this does happen and is probably one of the factors that accounts for the author’s liking songs from artists that came out well before he was born.

Anyway, a lot of avenues for exploration here and some further food for thought.

From the top of the Lenawee Lift at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area last Saturday, at about 13,000 feet…

Nights on Venus News:
After an uncharacteristic one-month long break where I didn’t do anything after the release of “Snow Day” in December, which I’d never done before since NoV began, I’m back in the studio recording new songs while we’ve been skiing on alternating weekends up at A-Basin. The calendar says it’s about to be spring in a couple of weeks (the scourge of Daylight Savings Time is upon us again this weekend and you can read up on how I feel about that), but hopefully there should a few more good snows up in the high country and we can get another 2-3 ski days in before we call it a winter. New music will be coming soon – currently finishing up on three new songs, “The Wheels Are Coming Off”, “Outlier”, and “Our Alternate Lives” and will put a preview up here in the weeks ahead. ‘Til next time…

Album cover for “We Are All Haunted by Something”, released on July 23, 2017. This is the old abandoned Apache Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico – shot taken in 2009. The image of the night sky is from Justin Marsh, added with his permission.
Cover artwork for the most recent 3-song single/EP “Snow Day”, released on December 23rd, 2017. Available now on all digital media outlets…

The most recent releases from NoV are the 3-song single/EP “Snow Day” and the full-length album, “We Are All Haunted by Something“, both from 2017. “We Are All Haunted…” includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, and Amazon MP3.

Speed of Life“,Unearthly, Santos and all previous Nights on Venus albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and also the NoV Website.

Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT
My two Reverends… “Goldenboy” on the left (a Rocco from 2002), and “Prince” (a Charger LE with the P-90 pickups from 2014) – not purple, but it came to me from Minnesota.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

“Everything popular is wrong.” – Oscar Wilde

 

 

 

state of the union, 2018… of vinyl…

In which I revisit a post of mine from 2 years ago (January, 2016) and also offer up the latest from the Discogs blog: The Future of Vinyl

In the very first paragraph from the latter comes this little tidbit: “The format has become a cultural identifier — a badge of honor amongst the millennials…”

And that’s all you really need to know. The tide has turned: millennials are on board. Perhaps even more telling was when I was shopping in Target this past Christmas season for the DVD of “Wild Hogs” (which I didn’t find) and came upon a section – a small section – of vinyl records of which David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars immediately caught my attention. On vinyl. In Target… in Arvada, Colorado. Unrepentant suburbia! My next thought: is Aladdin Sane here too? It was!

I didn’t even know Target (Tar-zhay) sold vinyl records… ever. Even back in the 1970s. They’ve been around that long and it wasn’t where I shopped for records back then. So something’s going on here…

Vinyl is enjoying a resurgence in the 20-teens.
Who would’ve thought?

But a vinyl record, as a format, is enduring. It has proven itself. Like Miles says of Cabernet wine in the movie “Sideways“… it’s a survivor. The same can be said of the CD format as well.

Listening to vinyl downstairs in the studio on a Sunday afternoon… the first albums of an all-80s blitz.

From the Discogs article, completely agree with Henry Rollins when he says: “Every house and apartment should have records and record players in them. Things would be better.” Yes, they would be. I may be against most aspects of mind-numbing American culture, but I am decidedly pro-vinyl.

Elsewhere in this excellent article, comes this from Michael Kurtz: “I work with indie record stores and they need to be profitable on what they buy and sell to succeed. Right now, they are stocking more vinyl and are selling more vinyl than before. They are also buying and selling more turntables than ever before.”

And this from Bob Peet of Audio-Technica, manufacturer of turntables: “We are also seeing new customers enter the category as our demographics shift slightly to a younger audience. Many of our new customers are looking for “experiences” in their daily lifestyles – experiencing analog sound, album art and liner notes – and a stronger sense of community by gathering friends to see and listen to their curated selections.”

And finally, from Jason Hicks of Aperion Audio: “We can debate why vinyl keeps surviving these onslaughts, is it actual vs perceived sound quality, the collectible nature, the intangible cool factor, but the fact remains, records simply will not go away.”

All of this is good news. It is especially good that younger generations are becoming familiar with the vinyl format, playing records on a turntable, and listening to quality sound recordings through a component system with high-quality audio speakers. This is the way music is supposed to be listened to… not over the tiny, tinny little speaker in your cell phone or through ear buds from a subscription service, a platform, whose existence is to only sell you… their platform.

I’m talking about Spotify of course… Here are a couple of recent articles that highlight the inherent problem with Spotify…
From Track Record: https://trackrecord.net/spotify-is-in-the-business-of-selling-you-spotify-not-1821912994

And from the Trichordist: https://thetrichordist.com/2018/01/08/the-slippery-slope-of-censorship-huffpost-pulls-story-critical-of-spotify-ahead-of-ipo/ 

The basic problem with Spotify and other streaming services: the platform CANNOT be more important than the music.  That’s putting the proverbial cart before the horse. The main driver is always the musicdon’t let them fool ya. Without that, Spotify et al. wouldn’t have any reason for being.

Yes, it’s Sunday… Super Bowl Sunday. The annual exercise in overblown hype and spectacle here in the U.S. where, strangely enough, people look forward to and tune in to the commercials they usually put on mute the rest of the viewing year. The advertising industry has succeeded in conditioning (brainwashing) people into accepting this as “normal” for the “big game”. Well, they do employ subliminals y’know. Not watching and couldn’t care less. Still amazes me what people get used to and accept as normal.

Larimer St. street scene this morning… sort of reminiscent of an Edward Hopper painting…

I’m listening to the Dream Syndicate‘s album The Days of Wine and Roses from 1983 (which is a great album btw, and you should have it)… on vinyl, fairly loud, but not your-neighbor-can-hear-it-loud-and-calls-the-cops loud. Go find your favorite album, put it on, whether it’s on vinyl or CD, cassette, whatever, and just listen to it – hopefully you have a good stereo system – nothing else, no multi-tasking. Give that album the time and the true listening and full attention it deserves. We are all too distracted now.

Every house and apartment should have records and record players in them. Things would be better.

In LoDo, Denver, earlier this morning, near the ballpark…
Album cover for “We Are All Haunted by Something”, released on July 23, 2017. This is the old abandoned Apache Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico – shot taken in 2009. The image of the night sky is from Justin Marsh, added with his permission.
Cover artwork for the most recent 3-song single/EP “Snow Day”, released on December 23rd, 2017. Available now on all digital media outlets…

The most recent releases from NoV are the 3-song single/EP “Snow Day” and the full-length album, “We Are All Haunted by Something“, both from 2017. “We Are All Haunted…” includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, and Amazon MP3.

Speed of Life“,Unearthly, Santos and all previous Nights on Venus albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and also the NoV Website.

Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT
My two Reverends… “Goldenboy” on the left (a Rocco from 2002), and “Prince” (a Charger LE with the P-90 pickups from 2014) – not purple, but it came to me from Minnesota.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

“Everything popular is wrong.” – Oscar Wilde

 

 

 

remembering what life was like B.I. (before the internet)…

Although it may seem like ancient history now since it happened last month and we’re into the third week of 2018 (and Happy New Year, all!), but last month the FCC voted to roll back net neutrality protections despite very vocal public outcry. The fight is far from over though, so if you have been calling your representatives in Congress to voice your opposition to the FCC’s action, continue doing so; they are definitely feeling the heat. Just. Keep. Calling at 202-224-3121. #SaveNetNeutrality

Below are three articles that will provide some background about this issue and what to expect in the near future:

From the L.A. Times: http://beta.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-rosenworcel-fcc-net-neutrality-repeal-20171122-story.html

From Digital Music News: https://www.digitalmusicnews.com/2017/12/19/comcast-cox-frontier-net-neutrality/

And the ACLU website: https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/internet-speech/trumps-fcc-nukes-network-neutrality-what-happens-now

My basic stance on this, on the price increases that are sure to follow in the months ahead is, “not one penny more to the ISPs”. We’ll get rid of cable first. But in the midst of all this, it got me thinking about a mythical time that once existed not too long ago… before there was an Internet. For you kiddos out there who’ve known the Internet for your entire lives, this may seem hard or even impossible to imagine, but really, it was only a short 25-26 years ago, the early 1990s… and yes, believe it or not, there really was life before the Internet.

So I wondered: what exactly did we do before we all connected to this web thing every day?

Specifically, what did I do on a typical morning before the Internet (B.I.)?

Well… that would have been coffee, breakfast at the house or out somewhere, on the way to work, and then go to work. There was no firing up the laptop first thing, no going out to Facebook, Twitter, no social media ’cause social media didn’t exist yet; no checking weather.com to see what the weather was going to be like that day. For that, you had to turn on the TV, if only briefly, and watch your local news for the weather. I know a lot of people would watch the mornings shows – The Today Show, et al. – but I never did, except for the local feed to check the weather or for snow closings. There was no checking of the e-mails.

If I went to a coffee shop back then, which I frequently did, I didn’t bring in a laptop to work on or surf the web. If I was writing there, it was either song lyrics, poetry, or a journal entry (I’ve been keeping a journal since 1986) and it was in a notebook, handwritten, not typed (thank you, Natalie Goldberg), and I wasn’t checking my cell phone for texts or later, looking at my smartphone every few minutes. There was this one place I used to go in Evergreen, CO – the River Sage restaurant on Bear Creek, and I’d get breakfast and after I had finished eating I’d sit over by the Franklin stove on cold mornings drinking a ton of coffee, writing away. Actually I miss those days.

Weekends were for getting out and about during the days, getting up to the high country and going hiking or skiing once I had moved to Colorado and I still do that now, so nothing much has changed there except now I have my wife Erin with me on those adventures which is a helluva lot better. A few other things…

Erin & me, first time out skiing in 2018 at A-Basin last week… We’re both wearing our Turtle Fur “brain shrouds” ’cause they’re the best inside the helmet…

When I was still back in Texas (and L.A. and Santa Fe) in the 1980s, usually I was working retail or bartending or some other service job on weekend days, sometimes nights; weekend nights, if I was in a band I was playing in a club somewhere and when we weren’t booked, I was going out to clubs listening to live music, checking out other bands, and certainly no one was recording a band’s performance with a smartphone to put a video with inferior sound quality up on YouTube – cell phones, smartphones, YouTube didn’t exist. I do not blame Chrissie Hynde and others one bit for not wanting concert-goers to record their live performances on video, in part because of the poor quality (usually) of these recordings… so respect the artist’s wishes! Always!

As an aside… Contrary to what you might think, you, as a ticket-holder, are not “entitled” to do that (e.g., think of those secret live “bootleg” recordings of concerts from the 1970s – essentially the same thing). Take pictures, sure, forego the video, but mostly just enjoy the show… like we did. Paradoxically, it will be more memorable and you’ll have a  much better time. Actually, everyone will.

In general, I know I went out a lot more back then and engaged with the actual, visceral (i.e. real, non-cyberspace) world a lot more than I do now, because… well, that’s all there was.

A lot of not going out as much now has to do in part with being older and remembering that “former” world (still real btw), but it also has to do with the way a lot of people are these days and just not wanting to be out in the “mass mind” (unconsciousness) very much.

For example… If my girlfriend and I went to a restaurant B.I., we just ate, we didn’t take pictures of our food when it arrived with a smartphone to put it online. I had a pretty decent Canon SLR camera in the late 80s/early 90s, during my grad school days; it was a film camera, it wasn’t digital. Could you imagine sitting in a restaurant and your meal arrives… and you whip out a camera like this and take a picture of… your food. People, rightfully, would’ve looked at you like you were nuts. Insane even. (Along those lines, Erin and I have a strict no food pic posts online – unless we happen to have our food stylist over for dinner that night).

Seriously, think about this. Why would anyone do this? Simply because it’s become popular nowadays?

And since I brought up dating… Well first of all, there was no online dating back then, obviously. There was no match-dot-com or craigslist, plentyoffish.com or other dating sites. If you were single and went that route, what you did have was a little thing called the personal ads, in newspapers or in a weekly paper like Denver Westword or the Dallas Observer and in other cities across the country. And if you did decide to meet – sight unseen with no profile pictures – it was pretty much a crap shoot. You never knew, exactly, what you were gonna get (but by the same token, you didn’t have people showing up, looking way different from the photo they posted that was taken 10-20 years ago). From my own experience, sometimes that worked out, most of the time it didn’t, but eventually the meetings made from both the personal ads and later online became mostly awkward job interviews for a position I could never possibly fill (too restrictive).

Call me old-fashioned, sentimental, an old fart or whatever, but the best hookups in an online world are still with those you meet offline, in real reality, in person, when least expected, and where you can see (almost immediately) if there’s any of that elusive chemistry people always talk about or not, or at the very least determine whether the other person is a psycho (always look at/in the eyes) and act accordingly (run!). Hey, sometimes you get lucky (cue Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers from 1986)…

As far as crap shoots go, unfamiliar restaurants were definitely one of those. You took your chances B.I. Now at least, we have Yelp and Google reviews…

And remember a time before there was Amazon… Amazon-dot-com. I’m surprised they don’t have as their slogan, that old slogan, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.” (For those wondering why I’m putting in the “dot-com”, apparently WordPress adds the link automatically to popular websites. I don’t like that. Stop that, WordPress.)

Because Amazon has everything under the proverbial sun. When they first came online, it was cool because you could find anything on there, it was convenient, and it was kind of a novelty. So they got big. And eventually, i.e., now, they got too big. But before then, I used to go into bookstores and record stores all the time wherever I was, B.I…. used to spend hours in those places. On those days when I had hours to spend, there was nothing better than being in these stores, just looking through the bins of used vinyl (you did keep your turntable, right?) and all the shelves of books, both new and used. Which is why I’m sure I eventually incorporated both a record store and a bookstore in my art gallery in Empire, Colorado. How many bookstores and record stores did Amazon put out of business in the meantime? Like the local stores Wal-Mart put out of business?

I can hear the business people and entrepreneurs screaming that the stores that went out of business (I’m thinking of Blockbuster Videos here) didn’t evolve their business and change quickly enough, and yes, that is certainly true. They did not adapt to rapidly changing conditions and paid the price. But… the very fact that there are still small record stores and bookstores out there, locally, attests to the resiliency of the experience of going to those places because it is an experience you can’t get online. It also attests to the ubiquity of the all-pervasive Internet.

I remember I got online toward the end of 1996 and used a 56k external modem to connect to the Internet. I – like pretty much everybody else and their dog – used AOL initially. Back then there were the free ISPs – I remember Netzero and Juno. Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator were the de facto browsers. At first it was pretty cool to connect to all these different websites and connect with people, and it was something of a novelty as well, but it didn’t take long to figure out that although you could connect with this whole new online world and people you didn’t know, being connected to this new world also isolated you at the same time. Because you’re sitting in front of a computer monitor, not a real person or a real-world environment. One of the paradoxes of evolving technology.

I started out on a 286 computer, DOS, Microsoft OS that I bought from a used equipment sale at the company I worked for during the early 90s, then quickly moved up to a 486 and I could connect to the Internet. The company was very tech savvy at the time so even when I didn’t have the Internet at home, I had it at work. And then I started learning HTML, CSS, and JavaScript markup languages and soon became a web designer/developer and worked in that position as an I.T. contractor for various companies and the government up until 2011. Further back, B.I., I got into computers through music – through MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) keyboards and sequencers in the early 1980s, so this is also some of my background, when I wasn’t bartending and all those other odd jobs I mentioned earlier.

If you’ve read this far (thank you), where I’m going with all of this is that I am and have been seriously curtailing, cutting back on my Internet usage over the last 1-2 years and I urge everyone to do the same for the following reasons. First, because like anything else in real life, the Internet is subject to the fulfillment curve and the law of diminishing returns (see E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful… this book should be taught in all schools in the U.S., btw). The last couple of years I’ve noticed that with hackers, fake news and its sensationalistic headlines, all the freakin’ ads, and the general contentiousness of social media, the Internet is delivering less “satisfaction” and a lot more hassle. Certainly more hassle than it’s worth, i.e., diminishing returns.

Secondly, when you get right down to it, the Internet is just TV, the tele, a big all-pervasive TV (think Orwell) with innumerable channels on it, and I always tell people to “turn off the tele!

Erin would tell you that I watch the least amount of TV of almost anyone, 1 hour at the most on any given day, and that’s not even TV – we watch DVDs at dinnertime, maybe a movie so that might be 2-2 1/2 hours tops. That’s not even network programming so it’s not TV. That’s it. So why do I have the Internet, this big all-pervasive TV on all day at work and at home in the morning, and then later even at night? Would I leave the TV on all day? No. (Although we did have 24 hours of ‘Ralphie’ on in the background recently on Christmas Day.)

And speaking of ads, this is what the Internet of today has become:

Speedway Blvd., Tucson, AZ… from the late 1960s, early 70s

This picture is from the late 1960s I believe, Speedway Blvd. in Tucson, Arizona. Does this look even remotely appealing to you? It’s ugly, right? All the signage and billboarding is nothing but visual clutter. It’s an eyesore. Tucson eventually did the right thing and enacted a sign ordinance to rid themselves of this kind of just plain awful visual clutter. The Internet should do the same.

One of the best reasons to curtail your Internet usage is the proliferation and constant bombardment of all the advertisements we are all subjected to, particularly on Facebook, YouTube, and most news sites. Hey, your ad blocker might not be that effective after all – it can’t screen out everything. There was a time in web development when real estate, the visual canvas of the web page, had something more of an overall aesthetic as kind of an ideal, something to strive for to make pages actually look their best and be functional at the same time and that involved the use of negative space on the web page. Or, put another way, the judicious use of space for content. A lot of the development books back in the 1990s talked about not inundating visitors to your website with too many visuals, in most cases meaning advertisements. Most people don’t know about that, a lot of long-time I.T. project managers have forgotten that, and most of the current crop of developers don’t even care about that.

The big change in web development occurred back in 2010 with the implementation of the Web 2.0, so subsequently after that you’ve seen a lot more ads in your Facebook newsfeeds and elsewhere. I was there. After 2010, it has been all about ads, nothing else mattered; any kind of aesthetic sense or even how web pages worked – think of those long-running scripts that hang up your browser – has been tossed out the window. Seriously, the last couple of jobs I had as a GUI designer (Graphic User Interface… hey, new position title for me – feather in my cap), I worked with a few developers who couldn’t even relative path their way out of a paper bag so I would fix their code – basic stuff – but boy, they made sure those ads worked.

Another good reason to cut back on Internet usage is just simply the time factor involved. It’s for the same reason that I limit my time in front of the tube: it’s just another way to be distracted and waste time. We tend to act like we have all the time in the world and of course, we really don’t. If we all knew and realized this, would we spend so much time in front of the TV? Or the Internet? Would you spend that much time in a casino? There’s a reason they don’t have clocks in there.

Am I saying don’t get on or avoid the Internet? Of course not. That would be impossible at this point and not even desirable. It is an integral part of our lives, for better or worse, and besides, those Yelp and Google reviews can really come in handy sometimes. The same can be said for a lot of websites and much of my work takes place on the web anyway. It’s somewhat ironic that I’m currently in a re-design of the Nights on Venus website as I write this post.

But I would definitely cut back on spending too much time on the Internet, particularly on social media which is what I have been doing – regulating how much time, how many hours I spend on the platform each day, just as I do with TV. The point is to resist the ads. Resist the programming. Human beings exist for far greater purposes than just being told and/or programmed to buy all this stuff or just to be entertained/distracted. The order of the day on the web would seem to be mostly greed and narcissism. Steer clear of the narcissism, but shut down the greed. Please join me in this endeavor.

Album cover for “We Are All Haunted by Something”, released on July 23, 2017. This is the old abandoned Apache Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico – shot taken in 2009. The image of the night sky is from Justin Marsh, added with his permission.
The cover artwork for the new 3-song EP “Snow Day”, set to release on December 23rd

The most recent releases from NoV are the 3-song single/EP “Snow Day” and the full-length album, “We Are All Haunted by Something“, both from 2017. “We Are All Haunted…” includes the 2-song single “Speed of Life” and “Confirm Humanity (I’m Not a Robot)”. All are available on iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, and Amazon MP3.

Speed of Life“,Unearthly, Santos and all previous Nights on Venus albums are available as MP3 digital downloads on Bandcamp, CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon MP3, and also the NoV Website.

Cover artwork for “Unearthly”… photo/design by CCT
My two Reverends… “Goldenboy” on the left (a Rocco from 2002), and “Prince” (a Charger LE with the P-90 pickups from 2014) – not purple, but it came to me from Minnesota.

Follow Craig and Nights on Venus on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

“Everything popular is wrong.” – Oscar Wilde