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Some quick thoughts on Band Aid 30 November 17, 2014

Posted by Brian in Uncategorized.
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So there’s a new, reworked version of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” that’s been recorded to help in the fight to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa–and it just happens to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first version of the song, which was the work of Bob Geldof and Midge Ure (one of my personal musical heroes).

Buy the song. Stop the virus. #BandAid30
Download now on iTunes – http://po.st/DoTheyKnow
Google Play – http://po.st/DoTheyKnowGp
Please donate: http://www.bandaid30.com/donateCD single pre-order here: http://po.st/CDsingle
Pre-order it on Amazon here: http://po.st/DoTheyKnowAm

Overall, I really like the new version, which I didn’t really expect. I know it’s not the greatest song in the world–and both Geldof and Ure are its harshest critics at times–but it was groundbreaking for its time in 1984, when the goal was to help fight hunger in Ethiopia.

The Independent | Band Aid 30 lyrics: Reworked Ebola-themed ‘Do…

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Movin’ November 1, 2011

Posted by Brian in links, news, podcasting.
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Hey, folks. Just wanted to let you know that this blog is moving to a new site: http://tandemwiththerandom.com

All the posts from here should now be there, although some associated images and videos may be missing for awhile. And this one will still be here as an archive.

I expect to relaunch the podcast within the next few weeks, so please be patient. Stay tuned…

Putting a “Dream Into Action” October 22, 2011

Posted by Brian in Christian Beach, concert, Howard Jones, links, Music, technology, video, YouTube.
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Howard Jones

Howard Jones

This post started out as a recap of the notable moments from Thursday night’s Howard Jones show at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pa…but evolved into something completely different.

So, yeah…I went to see Howard Jones perform this past Thursday night, marking the fourth time I’ve seen him live. The first time was a solo performance of “No One is to Blame” on a digital piano during the June 1986 Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope Tour finale at Giants Stadium (where he was introduced on stage by Michael J. Fox). I saw HoJo again in June 1989, this time in full electronic mode in Holmdel, N.J. (with the incredible Midge Ure from Ultravox and Visage as the opening act). Then, I had the chance to briefly meet and talk to HoJo after seeing him perform in an “acoustic duo” format (even though he was playing a digital piano) in Blackwood, N.J., in January 2008 (I would have had a picture, too, if my camera batteries hadn’t died).

Thursday night, HoJo was in full electronic mode and, for this tour, is playing all the songs from his first two albums, both of which I probably listened to thousands of times as a teenager.  The first half of the set included all the songs — although not in track-list order — from HoJo’s 1983 debut, Human’s Lib; the other portion of the show featured all the tracks (again, not in album sequence) from his 1985 follow-up album, Dream Into Action.

Personally, what was great about this show was that Howard Jones was the artist who really inspired my teenage love of electronic music and served as the catalyst for my purchasing two pro-grade synthesizers, a sampler, a sequencer and a drum machine by the time I was 17. I felt I had the skills to create songs even though my technical musical ability was — and is — extremely limited. This prevented me from really working with musicians in a traditional band setup so I felt this equipment gave me the means to do everything myself, as well as correct all the flubs due to my craptacular playing ability.

Eventually, I found a like-minded spirit (at that time) in the form of my friend Christian Beach, who was my bandmate from around 1988 until late summer 1990. He lived just across town from me and also owned an array of synths, samplers and drum machines. There were two other advantages working with Christian – 1) his gear was better, and 2) he is much more talented and gifted than I could ever hope to be.

While many people in the mainstream have this idea that electronic music is easy to execute, the reality is this is not the case. You still have to write the music and lyrics, and play all the backing parts into the sequencer…and this took forever back in the 1980s and early 90s. To prepare for playing live, you needed to do a lot of programming of your instruments and saving those settings into a MIDI file stored on a floppy disk in the sequencer. The song sequences (which include the drum and bass tracks, and any other parts not being played live) were also saved on floppy disks. Since the instrument and song data took up a lot of room on those old floppy disks, we needed several disks…that needed to be loaded (quite slowly, mind you)…in specific order during our shows.

As you might expect, this led to some embarrassing moments like having a saxophone coming in as a hi-hat part, or the wrong song sequence popping up, or a footswitch not set up to start a song when it was supposed to be…stuff like that.

And Thursday night’s HoJo show reminded me of all the joy and pain electronic music has brought to me over the years. As exciting it is to create all the parts of a song on your own, I remember all too well the difficulties of making the so-called “easy-to-use” technology work for you when you need it to.

Two such instances cropped up Thursday night for HoJo. During the Human’s Lib portion of the set, it seemed like the sound assignments for his keyboards on “Don’t Always Look at the Rain” weren’t set up right. That threw the whole song off after a few measures, resulting in a total restart of the song.

But that was a minor hiccup compared to what happened during the Dream Into Action half of the show, when “Assault and Battery” — a song I was really looking forward to hearing played live — had to be restarted…TWICE! On the first attempt to play the song, HoJo got through the piano intro only to have the sequence from the previous song kick in (been there, done that…a few times). On attempt No. 2, HoJo completed the piano intro and the right sequence started…and then stopped inexplicably about four measures in. The third time proved to be a charm, however, and the audience was treated to “Assault and Battery” in all its glory.

Anyway, I was just happy to see one of my earliest musical influences. Granted, aside from the more recent organ/accordion work I’ve contributed to some of Christian Beach’s live shows and recordings, I haven’t done anything musically significant in my life (although Christian did use lyrics I wrote for a chorus in the song “What Does It Mean to You?” by one of his old bands, Slave of Id, that received some airplay on long-departed 106.3 WHTG-FM around 1993…that was kind of cool). But I still write songs when I can and still do all the parts myself, thanks to Apple’s GarageBand application…and Howard Jones’ influence.

Here’s Howard Jones performing “Look Mama” from his Dream Into Action album at the Keswick Theatre on Oct. 20, 2011 (courtesy of YouTube user Nostalgicflashback)…

Beach Haus Winter Rental…available soon October 20, 2011

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Beach Haus® Winter Rental

Beach Haus® Winter Rental

While the podcast remains on hiatus, I wanted to report that the makers of Beach Haus Beer, featured on the March 7, 2011, edition of the TWTR Podcast, are about to release their second brew…Beach Haus Winter Rental Black Lager. According to the Beach Haus guys, Winter Rental will be available in limited release by this Friday and should be more readily available by the end of next week. Look for it soon…

Read more about Winter Rental at Beer-Stained Letter.

New music: Kate Miller-Heidke – “Liberty Bell” October 13, 2011

Posted by Brian in artist, Ben Folds, Fatty Gets A Stylist, iTunes, Kate Miller-Heidke, links, Music, TWTR, video, YouTube.
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"Liberty Bell" - Kate Miller-Heidke

Note: Most of what was written here is from a June 11 “Artist to Watch” post showcasing Fatty Gets A Stylist (FGAS), which is the name of a side project featuring Kate Miller-Heidke (KMH) on vocals. The CD was released digitally in the U.S. for a brief period during the summer and then pulled (although I purchased it as soon as it was released). It was then repackaged here as a new KMH album titled “Liberty Bell” and released this past Tuesday, so I figured I would repost my thoughts on the album and change all the FGAS references to KMH.

“Libery Bell” (iTunes link) by Australian singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke is an 80s-influenced, mostly techno-inspired album that has been released in other parts of the world under the name Fatty Gets A Stylist, a side project with Miller-Heidke’s husband and collaborator Keir Nuttall (guitars, programming).

I have been a fan of Miller-Heidke’s since April 2010, when I saw her (with Nuttall accompanying on guitar) open for Ben Folds in Montclair, N.J., a show I wrote about here. I immediately became a fan — so much so that I did something I rarely ever do and bought Miller-Heidke’s fantastic CD “Curiouser” (iTunes link) at the show. It’s one of my favorite all-time CDs.

Miller-Heidke has a tremendous voice with great range. In fact, she’s a classically trained opera singer who has performed professionally with Opera Queensland. On “Liberty Bell,” she is actually singing mostly in a lower register than normal so, at times, I forget that the vocalist I’m hearing is really Miller-Heidke. I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not, but it’s not until a couple of vocal holds at the end of the album’s closing track, the Gary Numan-esque “The Plane Went Down,” when you really hear the operatic quality of Miller-Heidke’s voice break through.

People in the New York area may not realize it, but they have likely heard the album’s lead track “Are You Ready?” as it is being used in a current New York Lotto advertising campaign.

There is so much energy and fun to be found on “Liberty Bell.” After kicking off with the previously mentioned “Are You Ready?”, the album continues with “The Devil’s in the Details,” a pure dance track complete with banjo that recalls Rednex’s version of “Cotton Eye Joe.”

One of my favorite tracks on the CD, “Holloway Park,” immediately brings to mind techno/new wave acts like Missing Persons. Actually, it seems like little pieces of the album have been plucked right out of the 80s and placed into the 11 tracks on “Liberty Bell.” In addition to the previously mentioned Gary Numan touches on “The Plane Went Down,” the ballad “Let Me Fade” has elements of classic Howard Jones and Kate Bush while “Better in Spain” evokes Roxy Music.

By the way, since touring with Folds in the U.S. in 2010, Miller-Heidke has also opened for him in Australia and contributed backing vocals on Folds’ recent album, “Lonely Avenue,” featuring lyrics by writer Nick Hornby. While I haven’t been able to confirm it, I think Folds returns the favor by singing a five-second backing vocal around 1:55 into “The Plane Went Down.” I really hope it is him since I think it would be appropriate that the writer and singer of a song called “Landed” would also provide some vocals to a song referencing a plane crash, which is really just another kind of landing.

Check out the links below for Kate Miller-Heidke:

Web – www.katemh.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/katemillerheidke

Twitter – www.twitter.com/kmillerheidke

MySpace – www.myspace.com/katemillerheidke

YouTube – www.youtube.com/katemillerheidke

And watch the video for “Are You Ready?” — which goes from great fun to a somewhat creepy and weird ending — in the player below.

YouTube: “Are You Ready?” – Kate Miller-Heidke

Thoughts on Steve Jobs… October 5, 2011

Posted by Brian in Apple, iTunes, RIP, Steve Jobs, Think Different, TWTR.
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Unofficial Apple logo tribute to Steve Jobs

Unofficial Apple logo tribute to Steve Jobs

[Updated 12:42 a.m. ET on 10/6/11 to add paragraph from NYT article.]

On Wednesday, the world lost one of its great visionaries and corporate leaders when Apple co-founder, chairman and former CEO Steve Jobs passed away after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Since his cancer diagnosis first became public in 2004, I’ve thought about what this day would be like. Obviously, there have been pioneers in certain fields that have passed away since I’ve been alive, but not really anyone with a household name. I mean, someone like Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein or Walt Disney.

And it was Disney to whom I often compared Jobs in my head. Both were brilliant and pioneers in technology, entertainment and pop culture…and both were known for famous tempers, micro-management styles and their attention to detail. Strangely, in 2006, when the Walt Disney Company acquired Pixar — which Jobs purchased from Lucasfilm (where it was known as the Graphics Group) in 1986 — Jobs became Disney’s largest individual shareholder.

Jobs may not have invented the PC, laptop, MP3 player, tablet or smartphone. But he was brilliant at simplifying them for the masses to use, and at making Macs, MacBooks, iPods, iPads and iPhones seem like the coolest devices to have on the planet. And while there were music download services before it, Apple’s iTunes Store revolutionized the way we purchase and listen to music — and, later, the way we purchase/rent TV shows and movies.

Whether or not you use or like Apple products, it is still highly likely you were touched by Steve Jobs’ brilliance in some way — even products like Microsoft’s ill-fated Zune media player and smartphones running Google’s Android operating system were developed in reaction to the iPod and iPhone. And then there’s always the likelihood that you watched a Pixar film — another Jobs legacy.

Since originally posting this, I saw the following paragraph in this New York Times article and felt the need to include it here:

Vansi Gadey, 30, a designer who works at a large technology company, was visiting the Apple store near Union Square in San Francisco, to charge his phone. He said: “I’m from India. In my childhood, Gandhi was an inspiration. After that, it’s been Steve Jobs.”

So rest in peace, Steve Jobs. Your genius as an innovator and marketer will be missed.

And one more thing…perhaps, Jobs’ greatest legacy will be the many young minds he helped inspire and influence. Let’s hope future generations continue to think different and strive to change the world.

Below is video from a 1998 presentation in which Jobs announced the first iMac, the all-in-one computer that ushered in Apple’s return to prominence and was the first major product launch in Jobs’ return to the company he co-founded.

Tumbln & Bumbln September 21, 2011

Posted by Brian in Uncategorized.
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While the podcast is on a bit of a hiatus due to my busy work schedule right now, there are a couple of things I wanted to share with anyone stopping by the site.

First, I want to let you know that I’m going to start posting some specialized content at Tumbln With The Random — TWTR’s Tumblr page. While the main TWTR blog will be used for podcasts, show notes and more formal posts (such as the “Artist to Watch” posts that appear here from time to time), Tumbln With The Random will be the site for quicker and — you guessed it — more random posts.

Second, my good friend Christian Beach is performing at Buddies Tavern (277 Johnson Lane) in Parlin, NJ, this Saturday night, 9/24. And I may join him on a few songs on accordion. If you’re in the area, feel free to stop by…doors open at 8 p.m. And, by the way, you should do yourself a favor and check out Christian’s 2009 self-titled solo debut CD, which was ranked 67th among the top 100 albums released by New Jersey artists between 2001 and 2010 in Gary Wien’s recent book, “Are You Listening?”  Really good stuff.

Also, I plan on interviewing Christian for a future podcast.

Feel free to visit Christian’s web site (which I developed): www.christianbeach.net. You can watch the video below of me playing accordion with Christian on his song “Taking It Real Slow” from a 2009 performance at Fergie’s Pub in Philadelphia.

Tandem With The Random 014 – 08.22.2011 August 22, 2011

Posted by Brian in Brian Kelley, interview, Music, NJ, podcast, podcasting, Rider University, TWTR.
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Tandem With The Random 014 – 08.22.2011

[audio http://ia600703.us.archive.org/19/items/TandemWithTheRandom014-08.22.2011/TandemWithTheRandom014-08.22.2011.mp3]

Tandem With The Random podcast No. 14 (8/22/2011) features an interview with Margaret Fontana of the Italian American Girl blog (www.italianamericangirl.com) and a few random thoughts on the bands The Naked and Famous and Winter Gloves. File size: 8.2 MB. Time: 17 min, 42 sec. Host: Brian Kelley.

Show Notes for TWTR Podcast 014 – 08.22.2011 August 22, 2011

Posted by Brian in arts, Brian Kelley, links, Music, NJ, podcasting, Rider University, show notes, TWTR, video, WXPN, YouTube.
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Italian American Girl

Margaret Fontana - Italian American Girl

Tandem With The Random podcast No. 14 (8/22/2011) features an interview with Margaret Fontana of the Italian American Girl blog and a few random thoughts on the bands The Naked and Famous and Winter Gloves. File size: 8.2 MB. Time: 17 min, 42 sec. Host: Brian Kelley.

More info on Italian American Girl:

Also…below is a video of New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous (Twitter | Facebook) performing “Young Blood” during the Aug. 12, 2011, show my wife and I attended at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Also, check out TNAF’s opening act that night, Winter Gloves (Twitter), a fantastic band from Montreal.

Podcast schedule change August 8, 2011

Posted by Brian in Brian Kelley, news, podcasting, TWTR.
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Because of things going on in my life both professionally and personally, I’m finding it increasingly difficult to get the podcast up on a set schedule (every other Monday) — as is the case this week. So until further notice, I’m going to aim for posting a new episode every other week, but not on any set day that week. A new podcast should be up later this week…stay tuned for updates…and thanks for your patience and understanding.

– BK

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