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Smoke Free in 2008

By Paul. Filed under: TweedBlog.

Today’s post comes courtesy of We share their enthusiasm for the impending smoking ban.

December 31, 2007
Thank You for Not Smoking
Chicago Goes Smoke Free
NO SMOKINGThere is lots to look forward to in 2008. Namely, the smoking ban in Chicago. Here are the top ten reasons this law rules:

10. No need for a full body scrubdown after a Friday night out.

9. If you’re not holding a cig, you can hold another beer.

8. You can stop looking for a fine piece of ash at the local bar.

7. You won’t have to worry about the black lung.

6. The only hot butt in the room will be yours.

5. Febreeze will no longer be your signature scent.

4. Guys will be forced to actually ask for your number, rather than bum a cig then hang around ’til last call being awkward.

3. You can take that $8 and buy something nice for yourself. Like three bottles of Listerine.

2. Manicurists for miles will be thankful for the demise of the yellow nail.

1. Clearer skin + healthier heart = totally smokin’.

Studio postmortem

We had a remarkably productive session with Mike at King Size yesterday. We cut six (!) tunes, far more than we had expected. In all, we have basic tracks for 15 tunes. We’ll take stock of what we have over the next few weeks and see what will work for our still-untitled 3rd CD.

The songs we cut yesterday:

  1. Sandy River Belle
  2. Trishenku’s Heaven
  3. British Army
  4. Lay Down My Old Guitar
  5. Dead Flowers
  6. Pick Poor Robin Clean

All were recorded the same way: with the band in a circle in the live room. Normally we just mouth the vocals for a song to guide the band through the tune. This prevents the guide vocal from bleeding onto the backing tracks and clashing with the overdubbed vocal. We had problems, though, keeping our place on ‘Lay Down My Old Guitar’, so I did an audible guide vocal on that one. We did far more takes of that tune than we usually do, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of ten. Normally we get a keeper take much faster than that.

The last two songs of the day, the Rolling Stones classic ‘Dead Flowers’ and the old raggy blues ditty ‘Pick Poor Robin Clean’ we pulled off in short order. We hadn’t necessarily planned to do either, but we plowed through the first four songs much faster than expected, so we took a crack at a couple more tunes. We may enlist some of our friends to augment those tunes when we get to the overdub phase next month.

More later.


Back to the studio

We’re heading back to King Size this afternoon to cut more tracks with Mike. We have a couple tracks that we want to cut for sure, and a couple that we’ll take a crack at if we’re feeling good. I just had a set of the World’s Most Expensive Tuners installed on my old F-2, so, hopefully, it’ll stay in tune this time.

The routine will basically be the same as we’ve done for our last few sessions: cut all the backing tracks live, overdub solos and vocals. The one change is that we will overdub some of the solos simultaneously, with Billy, Ryan, and me all cutting our overdub tracks at the same time. We have some songs with some tricky interplay between the instruments, and we want that to be genuine.

More later


Doc and Merle Watson playing The Cuckoo

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog, video.

This is a short clip from a BBC documentary, featuring Doc and Merle Watson playing The Cuckoo, a great modal tune with deep roots. The tune is in G Dorian, which Doc accommodates by capoing on the third fret.


Helvetica: if you see only one film about a font this year…

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog. Tags: , ,

I recently watched the film Helvetica, and have since been irritating my wife with my newly enhanced font-spotting skills. And, also, with lame jokes like ‘if you see only one film about a font this year, let it be Helvetica’. And, “I saw Courier Oblique last year. It sucked.”

It reminded me, though, of what an ugly, cheap-looking font Arial is. Arial, the most ubiquitous font on the web, was borne of cheapness, when Microsoft refused to license Helvetica for the windows operating system, and instead created a knockoff. As a consequence, I’ve tried to stop using Arial on this site. If you don’t have any other good sans-serif fonts on your computer, you may still see site content displayed in Arial. Otherwise, it’ll be in the more readable and aesthetically pleasing Helvetica.

Can you tell the difference? Try this quiz: Arial or Helvetica.

Feeling resentful? Battle it out in Arial Versus Helvetica.

The Amazing Randi takes on Audiophiles

I have long believed self described ‘audiophiles’ and ‘stereophiles’ to be little more than gullible and vain conspicuous consumers. So it is with great pleasure that I read the exchanges professional pseudo-science debunker James (‘The Amazing’) Randi has had with audiophiles over a pair of ludicrously overpriced speaker cables.

The Pear Cable Company has introduced their premium “Anjou” speaker cables, priced at $7,250 for a pair of 12-foot cables. The technical details the company offers justifying the extraordinary expense are hilarious. And the company had no problem finding shills in the press to rave about their hokum.

“In extended listening sessions, I found the cables’ greatest strength to be its PRAT. Simply put these are very danceable cables. Music playing through them results in the proverbial foot-tapping scene with the need or desire to get up and move. Great swing and pace—these cables smack that right on the nose big time.”

– Dave Clark, Editor Positive Feedback Online

Speaker cables are made of copper wire. The copper wire’s job is to conduct electricity. Copper is a conductor, and, to paraphrase the band Shellac, it’s easy work. Copper, being an element, is pretty much the same. What makes one company’s copper wire worth over $300 a foot? Nothing.

Nevertheless, audiophiles refuse to allow either science or common sense deter them in their quest to consume conspicuously. I am always amazed, for example, at people who will drop 10 grand on a pair of stereo speakers to listen to music that was, in all likelihood, recorded using a pair of Yamaha NS-10s, and mastered on Genelecs, neither of which will set you back anything close to ten thousand dollars. I have yet to see any of this hokum used in an honest-to-god studio or production facility. If you would like a $10,000 pair of speakers that will allow you to hear what music sounded like in the studio, I would be happy to sell you a pair of used NS-10s and pocket the remaining $9,500.

Randi has offered these snake oil purveyors a simple challenge: prove that you can tell the difference between two audio cables in a simple, double-blind scientific test, and I will give you one million dollars. Has anyone come forward to claim the prize? Nope.

Remember, about fifteen years ago, many of these same shitheads were drawing green lines on their CDs to improve the sound quality.

Read more on Randi’s site:
More cable nonsense — the beginning of the Pear thread
The audio insanity continues
Blake withdraws from Pear Cable Challenge
Yet another snag in the cable Challenge
The latest on the Pear challenge refusal
The end of the Stereophile exchanges — for now


Major labels are not your friend: the Meat Puppets edition

This piece from Meat Puppets drummer Derrick Bostrom serves as an excellent companion to The Problem with Music, Anatomy of a Record Contract, and Sage Words from Dick Dale.

Perhaps it’s beating a dead horse by this point. Everyone knows major labels are evil. They’ve spent most of this decade releasing unlistenable crap and suing nine-year-olds. Nevertheless, Bostrom is in a unique position to look back and reflect on the wreckage of the 1990s. It’s an ugly story of a collision between art & commerce, of how a band can produce a gold record and still come out in debt. And, because of how the game is played (you’re always playing with your own money), the more accommodating you try to be, the deeper in the hole you get:

As the weeks went by and demand for us increased, we found ourselves continually whisked this way and that, back and forth across the country, constantly busy, constantly tired. And all the while, we piled up recoupable expenses for promotion and tour support at a rate of around fifty grand a month. When the dust settled, we were into Polygram for nearly a half a million dollars.

Read the full post at


The Clancy Brothers playing the Wild Rover

By Kenneth Rainey. Filed under: TweedBlog, video. Tags: ,

The Wild Rover has been my daughter’s favorite song for as long as I can remember. This is a great version performed by the Clancys and Tommy Makem on Pete Seeger’s old Rainbow Quest program. Beautiful.