Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Dead Live, Gratefully

By Lonny Strum

On February 22nd, "I saw Dead people." 5000 of them at the Carpenter Center at the University of Delaware. I was one of them. And I was thrilled to be there. It was a Furthur concert, the Bob Weir/Phil Lesh band. Doesn't get much more Dead than that. OK, no Hart or Kreutzman, but no biggee. And the band's lead guitarist is Jerry reincarnated.

The show was great. I've seen the Grateful Dead, Other Ones, Garcia Band, Kingfish, Rat Dog, Furthur, et al maybe 40-50 times. On the Dead Head scale that makes me a novice, but still puts me into the lower tier of serious fan. They make me feel good. Always did. Always will.

For you Dead Heads the set list was first rate:
Set 1: Here Comes Sunshine, I Need a Miracle, Estimated Prophet Candyman, Maggie's Farm Alabama Getaway, Black Peter Cosmic Charlie
Set 2: The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion), Jack Straw, Cold Rain And Snow, Peaceful Valley, Sugaree Revolution, Terrapin Station, Throwing Stones
E: Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues, Ripple

Alabama Getaway in the first set and Ripple as the encore were the show highlights.

But the Dead are far from just brilliant musicians. The Dead are, have been, and will continue to be brilliant marketers. They have understood "social media" long before PCs, blogs and twitter. The have always believed in building a community, sharing, the influence of others, and the power of belonging to something bigger than oneself. If want to appreciate and understand the brilliance of Dead marketing I encourage you to read Joshua Green's: Management Secrets of the Grateful Dead in the March 2010 Atlantic
It's an incredibly insightful, well written article. I learned a ton.

I leave every Dead concert smiling, but yearning for the songs they didn't play that evening. I will never be fully satisfied and therefore never have enough. This August it'll be 15 years since Jerry's passing, the same week as Mickey Mantle's death-a really bad week for my boyhood idols. Though Jerry's been gone almost 15 years, the music of the Dead lives. Nothing better than that.

Lonny Strum is Managing Director of the Strum Consulting Group which provides strategic business marketing and business consulting to professional services firms and companies seeking an independent audit of their marketing activities. Lonny has a 30 year background in marketing and has been CEO of two of the largest Philadelphia area communications agencies and had been part of the managment team of BBDO/New York, one of the nation's largest ad agencies.

For more information on Strum Consulting Group visit Lonny Strum can be reached at 856-770-1154 or Feel free to visit the Strum Consulting blog at

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Eric Clapton - Keeping 'Crossroads' to a Maximum‏

by Brent Warnken

He has hit many crossroads in his life - from drug addiction to father figure, celebrated musician to cheating husband - but all of these have made the slinging guitar man Eric Clapton a favorite amongst '70s hipsters and classic rock fans, as he continues to find audiences all over the world. A survivor in many senses of the word, Clapton has returned to his aptly named festival Crossroads with an outstanding lineup and hefty set of musician friends to join him for the 2010 show.

The Crossroads Guitar Festival has named Buddy Guy, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, ZZ Top, the Allman Brothers Band and even John Mayer amongst the list of musicians to join the slow hand man, though Eric Clapton tickets are bound to be the biggest sellers online as he remains the most legendary guitar man of them all.

Clapton's history has often been categorized with heartbreak and disaster, but that has not stopped him from remaining one of the most brilliant guitar slingers in history. He has maintained a successful career in the music industry, repeatedly bringing new sounds and moves into his genre. Now the stage is set for the June performance at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

"The Crossroads Festival is the realization of a dream for me," Clapton said in a press release, "to gather a group of amazingly talented musicians to perform on one stage. The Crossroads performers are all musicians I admire and respect." The event will benefit Clapton's own Crossroads Centre, a substance abuse clinic that was founded in 1998. Located in Antigua, the venue is a relaxing and peaceful environment that helps get addicts back on track.

Clapton will be all warmed up for the sixth annual event as he continues to add performance dates with another Crossroads act: Jeff Beck. The two Yardbirds alum have been slinging their pieces recently as their North American jaunt closed late February. Each musician praised the other's work throughout the five-date tour, the first time the two worked extensively with one another (though both Yardbirds alum, Beck actually replaced Clapton when he left the rock outfit in 1965).

The two will once again be paired up during the June show, sponsored by Clapton's new T-Mobile "My Touch." The event is sure to be a moment for many addicts to remember, as Clapton has been well known to be in the throes of similar turmoil. As part of the dedication, he writes, "My vision was to create a centre of the highest caliber to treat people of the Caribbean and throughout the world ... Crossroads is like no other Treatment Centre. It is the perfect place to begin the road of recovery ..."

Clapton has long awaited the arrival of this rehabilitation center and movement, in such a way that he continues to support the program. Besides hosting the Crossroads Guitar Festival, Clapton has hosted several other concert festivals including one at New York City's Madison Square Garden, which was later sold as a DVD. Additionally, the first Crossroad Guitar Festival, held in Dallas, was likewise filmed and sold as a DVD to earn profits for the Crossroad Centre.

This article is sponsored by StubHub. is a leader in the business of selling, sports tickets, concert tickets, theater tickets and special events tickets.

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Leonard Cohen - Live in London

By Bob Roper

Two things about this album, firstly it is one of the most enjoyable live recordings I have ever heard and secondly it is by an artist whose time has come. Recorded on 17th July 2008 at London's O2 Arena, 'Live in London' was released as a DVD and a two-CD set in March 2009. It has received rave reviews by the media and now in early 2010 he has received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award after being a singer/ songwriter/performer for over 40 years.

I have to admit that more often than not I find live recordings disappointing. How often have we heard artists who can't hit their notes correctly on stage? The balance and sound quality is invariably not quite the same and the crowd noises are annoying. In addition, the live recording doesn't help you enjoy the atmosphere that was present. None of these criticisms apply here.

Firstly, you have to say that the Cohen voice is still as powerful and deep as it always has been, in fact there is probably an added timbre that now comes with over forty years of performing. Unlike other artists as they get older, this septuagenarian's singing now seems to suit his work more than it has ever done. Cohen has always had a maturity of thought way beyond his contemporaries, so the aged voice is somehow even more appropriate.

Secondly, the live audio quality of this recording is the best I have ever heard. There has been plenty of criticism about the acoustics at the O2 Arena but you can't detect any problems here at all. What's more listening to the album you wouldn't know it's a massive arena as the warmth and intimacy of the event is captured perfectly.

Lastly, the instrumentation on this album is absolutely exquisite. Cohen collaborated with ten of the finest musicians including Bob Metzger (guitar, steel guitar), Javier Mas (bandurria), Dino Soldo (saxophone, wind instruments) and the sublime voices of Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters, Hattie and Charley. The accompaniments alone make this album worth buying, even if you have the original versions you can't help but be impressed with how beautifully and sensitively these songs have been re-arranged. My only gripe and it's not really a criticism is that Cohen hasn't made use of strings in his little band, I would love to hear a violin or cello as I'm sure this would add another dimension.

My other point was that Cohen is appreciated by his audience more now than he has ever been. The music,
spiritual but not sentimental, reflects the current popularity of poetry and anything related to mind, body and spirit. Cohen spent five years in a Zen Buddhist monastery in Japan between 1996 and 2001 and it has undoubtedly had an impact on his whole being. He has always had a presence but there is now an inner calm and peace which he can use to mesmerise his audience.

Cohen uses all his experience to win over the crowd. There's cleverness right from the start, welcoming his audience like guests with "it's wonderful to be gathered here just on the other side of intimacy." He chooses his words between the songs very carefully and his use of humour and wit never detracts from the mood he is trying to create. He ridicules his former depressions by naming all the anti-depressant drugs he has been on and reminisces about the last time he performed in London, 15 years previous when he says he was "a kid with a crazy dream." The patter is laid-back and droll but you can't help but love it.

He pampers the audience but his team of musicians as well. He knows exactly when to get the applause for his skilled performers. He has the timing of a true professional.

In the second half he recites some of this poetry including the incredibly moving "A Thousand Kisses Deep." You feel that this brings together a lot of aspects that are so important to him at the moment including love, anti-ego and ageing, "The ponies run, the girls are young The odds are there to beat You win a while and then it's done Your little winning streak And summoned now to deal With your invincible defeat You live your life as if it's real A thousand kisses deep."

There are too many excellent tracks on this album to mention them all. Suzanne, Bird on the Wire and So Long Marianne are classics from his two albums 'The Songs of Leonard Cohen' and 'Songs From A Room' in the late sixties. There are all his later favourites as well including Everybody Knows, The Gypsy's Wife, Anthem and Democracy. For anyone who has not yet found the works of this unique master there are 26 of his greatest songs over two and a half hours. If you missed the concert but have some of his records from the past, there is still plenty to enjoy here though.

Bob Roper has a great love of music and listens for several hours every day, as he works as an accountant. It would be good to think that these positive reviews might bring some of the artists a bit of extra recognition. In these days of finding it difficult to make money from recordings talented musicians need as much help as they can get. Please visit his music library and journals at

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Cream - The Five Best Songs From Rock's Original Power Trio

By Jim Hofman

Cream, featuring the brilliant talents of Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton, is one of the most legendary bands of all time. Their influence is monumental and their music still resonates today. Here is our list of the five best Cream songs...

Formed in 1966 by drummer Ginger Baker, Cream is more than the sum of its three parts. Also featuring world class bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce and legendary guitarist Eric Clapton, Cream's musical chemistry is undeniable.

All three members were, and are, acknowledged as one of the best ever at their musical trade. The combination of talents was intense and sometimes explosive. Numerous bands of today credit Cream and its members as major influences. They were a ground breaking mix of jazz, rock, and blues, not only creating their own compositions but spotlighting old blues songs that might otherwise not have become popular.

Here is a list of our five favorite Cream songs. As with any list, it is subject to opinion. Some you may know, others you may not, but it is safe to say that each of these songs highlight the individual and collective talents of Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton. In no particular order, here they are:

White Room

From the 1968 Wheels of Fire double album, White Room is a Jack Bruce and Peter Brown composition, although the contributions of Baker and Clapton should have been noted in the songwriting credits. The winding, psychedelic lyrics are only surpassed by the musicianship. Listen to Baker's "Bolero" drum beat and his signature use of the cymbals. Bruce carries the vocals, lifting into soprano range and back to tenor. Meanwhile, Clapton pioneers the use of the famous wah wah pedal, giving White Room its familiar sound.


Crossroads is a Robert Johnson composition that deeply influenced Clapton as a young guitarist. The version you frequently hear was recorded live in 1968 and was released on Wheels of Fire. Clapton steals the show here with two dazzling solos that are recognized as among the best ever, and he also takes the vocals. Listen closely the next time you hear the song and take in Jack Bruce's driving bass. He plays counter melody to Clapton's guitar, and the results are extraordinary. This is Cream's musicianship at its finest.

Stepping Out

Another blues standard favored by Clapton, this is an instrumental. It is available as a bonus track in repackaged Cream releases, and on You Tube. Search for the 1967 version, played for a Swedish radio station. The blending of the three talents is mind boggling and it is easy to pick out the drums, bass, and lead guitar, as neither member outshines the other. This is a real under the radar gem.

I'm So Glad

From their debut release in 1966, Fresh Cream, I'm So Glad was originally written by Skip James. The unique guitar intro also serves as the songs coda. Jack Bruce shines on vocals and it is hard to believe he was only 23 when it was recorded. But in our opinion, Ginger Baker steals the show here. His sense of timing, counter beat technique, and use of cymbals is a real treat. Cream opened their 2005 reunion songs with I'm So Glad, so be sure to watch or listen to both versions.

Born Under A Bad Sign

Penned by the great bluesman Albert King, Cream played this song at their 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. The version is available on You Tube. Much like White Room, this song allows each member to shine equally. Baker's driving back beat kicks the song into overdrive, while Bruce plays the melody on bass and provides stellar blues vocals. Not to be outdone, Clapton scorches here with guitar riffs that are among his very best.

This is just our own personal list of favorites, recognizing numerous other Cream classics are missing. Which are your favorites?

Cream, the legendary power trio featuring Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton, is one of the most influential bands of all time. To learn more about this extraordinary musical collaboration, visit us today at:

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Cream - The Tumultuous Relationship of Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce

By Jim Hofman

Cream, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, has long been regarded as one of the greatest bands of all time. Their musical chemistry and intensity created some of the most enduring music of its era, and is still relevant today. But why hasn't Cream reunited more often? Let's examine the tumultuous relationship between two of its members...

Cream: An Overview

Cream, so named because of the musical proficiency of its members, is a three piece power trio formed by drummer Ginger Baker in 1966. For the previous few years, Baker formed his world class reputation in the Graham Bond Organization, a well respected English band that blended elements of jazz, pop, and blues.

The bassist in the Graham Bond Organization, for a time, was Jack Bruce, a Scottish vocalist and multi instrumentalist also known as the best of his trade. Both with strong, driven personalities, Baker and Bruce clashed onstage and off. The bands founder, Graham Bond, wanted Bruce out of the band and asked Baker to perform the task. Baker gave Bruce the news that his services were no longer required. Supposedly, to this day, Bruce thinks it was Baker's idea.

Despite their interpersonal conflicts, their musical chemistry was undeniable. Dubbed as the most volatile rhythm section in rock, they were also arguably the best. When the Graham Bond Organization disintegrated in early 1966, Baker sought to form a new band of his own.

Enter Eric Clapton, the legendary guitarist, who was unhappy with his own musical direction at the time. Baker approached Clapton about forming a band and Clapton quickly agreed. Clapton suggested Jack Bruce as the bassist, knowing his reputation and musical skill. Baker relented despite personal misgivings, and Cream was born.

The Breakup And Subsequent Pairings Of Baker And Bruce

Cream broke up in late 1968. All three members agree a major reason was the rocky relationship between Baker and Bruce. Arguments over touring, on stage volume, and songwriting credits undermined the already tenuous relationship. For his part, Clapton was continually thrust into the role of peacemaker, something he quickly tired of.

For the most part, the members kept their distance for the next 20 years, until Jack Bruce asked Baker to be the drummer in his new touring band. Baker initially refused, but relented when financial considerations forced his hand. The duo toured America in 1989 and 1990.

After a brief Cream reunion at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony in 1993, Baker and Bruce came together again as two thirds of BBM, a power trio also featuring guitarist Gary Moore. An album was released, to positive reviews, but a subsequent tour disintegrated almost before it began. Problems arose from all three members, with the prickly relationship between the two old Cream members being a focal point.
In a recent interview, Baker talks of BBM, and remarks how Bruce treated him as a subordinate, and more like a session drummer than an equal partner. It rankles Baker to this day.

Cream Reunion 2005

In late 2004, Clapton reached out to both Baker and Bruce to reunite Cream for a series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. By accounts from all three men, the concerts went exceptionally well. Baker and Bruce commented it was much like the early days of Cream, with all three members cooperative and getting along quite well.

Later that year, three concerts in New York were held. Old animosities between Baker and Bruce arose, with Baker accusing the bassist of turning his volume up so loud that it almost deafened him. For his part, Clapton professes his deep love and admiration for both men, but Cream has not reunited since.

Meanwhile, Baker and Bruce continue to heave volleys through the press. Baker states he no longer wishes to play as Cream due to Bruce's behavior. Bruce, on the other hand, wants to play as Cream but alternately praises then tweaks his old cohort in various interviews.

It appears the same volatile chemistry that made Cream great, both musically and interpersonally, keeps the band from reforming. And yet, periodic reunion rumors persist. Clapton states "never say never", while Bruce has been outspoken in his desire to reform Cream, even temporarily. Over the years, Baker has been known to play the press almost as well as he plays the drums.

The bottom line? Stay tuned...

Known for their ground breaking blend of jazz, rock, and blues, Cream is one of the most influential bands of all time. To learn more about Cream and its three members Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton, visit us at:

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MOVIE REVIEW: It Might Get Loud

By Daniel Dunne

Director Davis Guggnheim's movie "It Might Get Loud" is a very good documentary and a must see for every rock fan. The movie brings together 3 generations of rock guitarists: The legendary Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin), The Edge (U2) and Jack White (The White Stripes and The Ranconteurs).

Each guitarist tells a compelling story of how they got started and who influenced them. While some might question Guggnheim's selection of guitarists, all three are renowned for their contributions to rock and all deserve to be in the film. Furthermore, one would be hard pressed to find 3 other guitarists that have their skill, passion, dedication to their craft and the ability to articulate their stories to the viewer.

Guggnheim does a masterful job of interweaving the rock icons' stories together via old pictures, vintage videos and by having each artist give their own account of what happened. There is old video footage of a very young Jimmy Page telling an interviewer that his skiffle band was just a temporary gig and he wanted to go on to study biologic research in college. Later in the film Page explains how his job of as a session musician was unbearable and how he made the decision to give it up and join the Yardbirds.

The Edge takes the viewer back to his high school and points out the bulletin board where the ad was placed to join a band that would eventually become U2. He also shows the audience where the band played its first free concert at the school. The movie features early footage of U2 performing in a dreadful and unintentionally comical pop video.

Jack White tells of living in his largely Hispanic, working class community in Southwest Detroit and explains that it was not considered cool to play guitar but he did it anyway. He goes on to pay homage to Son House and explains how much the legendary blues guitarist' song "Grinnin In Your Face" means to him.

However, one of the best parts of the film is when Page, Edge and White interact with one another. There does not appear to be any egos on display, and it looks as though the three artists genuinely enjoy talking and making music together.

Dan Dunne

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Historic Rooftop Beatles Concert Locale Threatened

By Brenne Meirowitz

At the time of the infamous Abbey Road Studios rooftop Beatles concert, George Harrison was several weeks shy of his 26th birthday. The rooftop concert was performed at the end of January 1969 at Abbey Road Studios, in the fashionable London district of St. John's Wood.

Other famous artists and musical groups who have recorded there are David Gilmour and Pink Floyd, David Bowie, U2, Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras, Andre Previn, Yehudi Menhuin, and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Major motion picture soundtracks such as Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Star Wars Episodes I II III V and VI, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the Harry Potter film series were recorded at Abbey Road.

Despite it being nominated as 'Studio of the Year' by the magazine Music Week, EMI has not been able to keep the studio profitable and intends to sell it. The award ceremony is to take place on April 15. Paul McCartney, who has also recorded at the studio in non-Beatle projects, has not made public any offers, but has been vocal with his support to keep it open and running, rather than being converted into apartment buildings as some rumors have suggested.

Other sources quote an Andrew Lloyd Webber representative as stating that Sir Webber will buy the ailing studio at any cost. Additional speculation includes s possible purchase by the British National Trust, which would protect the building, but not necessarily keep it operating.

In 2007, Abbey Road Studios was taken over by Terra Firma, a private equity firm, although it continues to operate. It is the world's oldest operating recording studio, having opened its doors in 1931. The studio's website has posted its plans to open an online store, featuring t-shirts, laptop cases, and notebooks. If the store goes over well, the studio will expand its line of exclusively designed products. Perhaps it will coincide with George's birthday, who was born on February 25, 1943 in Liverpool, England. George was the youngest of the four Beatles and passed away from lung cancer on November 29, 2001; John Lennon was murdered on December 8, 1980. The Crossing, a private garden and restaurant, now operates where the 1969 rooftop Beatles concert took place.

In order to further improve its bottom line, the studio recently partnered with SoundCloud, an online music service founded in 2008. The service offers musicians and producers the opportunity to have their music mastered by Abbey Road engineers from anywhere in the world. There does not be a provision for users to upload files directly to Abbey Road; they must open an account with both SoundCloud and Abbey Road Online Mastering. Once the accounts are established, files are uploaded from SoundCloud to their Abbey Road account. Files must be in uncompressed stereo WAV or AIFF file formats. The cost is currently $139 per track or whatever the current exchange rate of £90 comes out to be.

On January 3, 1970 - a year later and almost to the day following the rooftop Beatles concert, the Beatles recorded their last song together as group - recording George's I Me Mine. George completed his first and perhaps greatest solo album All Things Must Pass several months later in Studio 3. As we remember George this year, many of us are actively trying to prevent Abbey Road Studios from being dismantled.

Written by Brenne Meirowitz, B.A., M.S., M.A. This article, Historic Rooftop Beatles Concert Locale Threatened was written while researching information about Rooftop Beatles Concert.

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One of the Greatest Songwriters - Joni Mitchell

By Jeff Bachmeier

Joni Mitchell is one of those performers that seem to be relevant no matter what the decade. Just this year, during the 2010 Olympics, she was asked to perform during the opening ceremonies singing one of her songs "Both Sides Now."

Joni Mitchell, a Canadian musician and songwriter, began performing in the mid-1960s and has never turned back. Writing songs seems to come natural to Mitchell, making her one of the most prolific writers in history. Rolling Stone magazine has gone as far to coin Mitchell as "one of the greatest songwriters ever". Many a musician has been greatly influenced by Mitchell's daring and innovative style.

As her career has stretched from the late 60s to now, it has also varied in that timeframe, with music ranging from confessional folk-pop songs to jazz-inflected experiments and multicultural world music. Songs she has written either have become well known through her voice or through the recreation of others. Mitchell's "Woodstock" went mainstream through the performance of it by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Many artists have enjoyed covering Mitchell Songs. Judy Collins took "Both Sides Now" and sent it up the charts to No. 8 in 1967. Annie Lennox covered "Ladies Of The Canyon" for the B-side of her 1995 hit "No More I Love You's". George Michael covered "Edith And The Kingpin" in 2004. Many of Mitchell's songs have been performed by numerous artists. Dianne Reeves, James Taylor, Allison Crowe, Rachel Yamagata, Aimee Mann and Sarah McLachlan have performed "River". Tori Amos, Michelle Branch, Jane Monheit, Prince and Diana Krall have sung "A Case Of You".

So how did this amazing artist first get discovered? Of course it was by starting small and singing in small nightclubs in her native Western Canada. She then began performing in the United States, becoming a critical sensation on the Detroit folk scene. In 1967 she signed with Reprise Records and in 1968 released her first album. On that album was "Both Sides Now", one of Mitchell's most notorious songs of her career.

Mitchell's album "Blue", released in 1971, reached platinum standings. It featured songs "Carey", "My Old Many" and "The Last Time I Saw Richard". Her song "Clouds" won her a first Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance.

Mitchell's voice has been easily recognized over the years for its distinctive harmonic guitar style. Her piano arrangements grew more complex through the 1970s as she became more deeply influenced by jazz, melding with pop, folk and rock.

Between 1975 to 1980, Mitchell began experimenting with jazz pieces. The transition was at first difficult. Her album "Hejira", written in 1976, is considered one of her most experimental albums ever. Audiences enjoyed the new sound but felt a bit confused due to the huge change in style. Her albums during this decade fell short of gold status and never reached the success that her first album had.

In 1980 she released "Shadows and Light" and her single "Why Do Fools Fall In Love" reached No. 38 on Billboard Charts. In 1983 Mitchell began a world tour visiting Japan, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Scandinavia and then back to the United States. Throughout the 80s, Mitchell began experimenting with synthesizers, drum machines and sequencers for the release of her album "Chalk Mark In A Rain Storm". With the album she collaborated with artists Willie Nelson, Billy Idol, Wendy and Lisa, Tom Petty, Don Henley and Peter Gabriel. Songs leaned toward more political themes. Her genre of style began to shift into world music.

By 1990, Mitchell rarely performed live anymore but continued putting out albums. In 1994 she released the Grammy winning "Turbulent Indigo". In 1996 it was her "Hits" collection that reached No. 161 in US and No. 6 in the UK. In 1998, Mitchell's style shifted again with the release of "Taming The Tiger". Mitchell's voice began to change as well. In 2002, Mitchell stated in an interview with Rolling Stone that she was retiring and that she was disgruntled with the music industry. But in 2006 she released the album "Shine", which was inspired by the war in Iraq, political and environmental issues.

We haven't heard the last of Joni Mitchell yet, despite her years of success, it is quite possible she still has a few good songs left to be written and performed.

Jeff Bachmeier is owner of, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50's thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile. For more information please visit

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Rock Stars Who Walk on the Tame Side

By Stephen Kahn

I'm glad I was never a British fan of Iggy Pop. I would be pitched into depression every time I saw The Stooges former wild man of punk tout car insurance in the current Swiftcover TV ad campaign. Somehow it doesn't seem to matter that Johnny Rotten plugs Country Life butter; there was always something vaudeville about him. But it's time to put your shirt back on, Iggy.

Nowadays every rapper drips bling, while each female singer is dressed in haute couture. But when I was young, my contemporaries and I shared this fantasy that the music we loved wasn't part of a money making industry like any other business enterprise. It was part of the youth revolution, man. Ah, the innocence of youth.

The music may well have always come first but once a musician's career was under way there were ex-wives to feed, managers to be exploited by, and record companies to placate ahead of the next album.

It was acceptable if your favourite artist or group lived life lavishly on the wild side throwing money at fast cars, motorcycles, and supermodels.

It was even OK for Eric Clapton to wear Armani - bluesmen always dressed nicely. But his gypsy drummer in Cream, Ginger Baker was a big horse polo fan. Alice Cooper was crazy about golf. This seemed almost as incongruous as George Harrison's fascination with motor racing and Mick Jagger's passion for cricket.

Anything Bob Dylan did, say, in finding country and western or religion was fine because, well, he was Dylan. Life-long fans, though, had to take a deep breath when he appeared in a Victoria's Secret commercial. David Bowie acquitted himself when the Ziggy Stardust star sang Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby. He didn't embarrass fans with his film work either unlike both Dylan and Jagger.

You can take authenticity, however, too far in pursuit of the rock and roll lifestyle. The members of the 27 Club - Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain - might now be selling car insurance if they had lived to see 28 and beyond.

I'm sure family and fans alike pray they had. So I take it back. It's easy money, go for it Iggy, you've earned the gig.

I'm a retired former British national newspaper journalist who hasn't lost the writing bug. Visit me at my blog Here I post regularly on my take on the world around me. As for the website's title all is revealed in the blog's profile.

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Eric Clapton - When Good Guitarists Sell Out‏

by Brent Warnken

There's an old myth in rock and roll - and in all art, really - that you don't have credibility if the money is more important to you than the art.

Now, there's plenty of artists that have managed to keep people guessing about which they love more. But for most artists, and especially in rock and roll, "purity" isn't highly prized. They have to pay for those beachfront homes somehow, after all.

Eric Clapton is the latest casualty of the sell-out wars, with the blogosphere chattering about whether agreeing to appear in a commercial for T-Mobile's new myTouch - which features a wood grain "guitar" design and comes uploaded with several of the classic rock guitarist's songs - is actually selling out. It's just one commercial, after all, and behind the man is a trail of some of the greatest blues and guitar rock ever recorded. It isn't as if Clapton is pimping his own fragrances and selling commemorative plates on late-night TV. Like him or leave him, but Slow Hand is still dedicated to his music. Eric Clapton tickets are still available on StubHub.

And besides, there are artists who have made more blatant shills. Let's walk through a gallery of those who sold their souls.

Bob Dylan: Yeah, it's hard to lob mud at one of the greatest singer-songwriter's of the '60s. But by 2004, the times that once were-ah changin' had done changed. Dylan appeared in a Victoria's Secret ad featuring skimpy lingerie, pouty models, and his stony visage. Did it sell underwear? We're not sure. But it certainly fulfilled a prediction Dylan made as a young artist: When asked what he might be willing to sell out for, he replied "Ladies undergarments."

You have to pick and choose your battles, Bob. And you won that one.

John Lydon: How much more punk can you get than Johnny Rotten? Depends on when you're talking about. Circa 1977, Rotten probably personified punk for the mainstream more than anyone else (even if there were other artists that were more talented and, indeed, more punk). But by the '00s, Lydon was pretty comfortable with paying his bills using Country Life Butter's money. In a commercial that shatters all your illusions, you get to see Lydon in his terrycloth robe spreading delicious butter on his toast. Never mind the butter. If it funds a new Public Image Ltd. tour, then we'll support it.

Salvador Dali: Now, we're clearly straying away from the realm of rock here, but it's hard to mention shilling without bringing up Dali. Though Andy Warhol is often thought as being the ultimate artist willing to cash in, Dali did it first, and he did it quite a lot, appearing in commercials for steep fees. It's fairly excusable when you watch the commercials, which tend to all be pretty creative, and as ads go, pretty fun, too. We suspect he would have endorsed his own T-mobile phone with a melting clocks design.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eric Clapton Enlists Guitar Greats for Crossroads‏

by Brent Warnken

Eric Clapton will be joined by some of the best axemen on the globe for his Crossroads Guitar Festival, to be held in Chicago this summer.

Located just outside the Windy City, Toyota Park in Bridgeville, Ill. will host guitar-slingers like Jeff Beck, Steve Winwood, Cheryl Crow and more for Crossroads. All proceeds from the festival, which was also held at Toyota Park back in 2007, will benefit the Crossroads Center, an addiction treatment facility located on the West Indies island of Antigua founded by Clapton.

Eric Clapton released a statement about the upcoming one-day festival, set to take place June 26, saying, "The Crossroads Festival is the realization of a dream for me, to gather a group of amazingly talented musicians to perform on one stage. The Crossroads performers are all musicians I admire and respect." Other artists slated to appear at the festival are James Burton, Earl Klugh, Albert Lee, Hubert Sumlin, Bert Jaensch, Sonny Landreth, Joe Bonamassa, Robert Cray, Buddy Guy, ZZ Top, Dayle Bramhall II, John Mayer, Vince Gill, B.B. King and more - a total of 26 guitar virtuosos!

The first installation of the Crossroads Festival fundraiser took place at the 2004 Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The previous two festivals have been documented on DVDs while the 2007 edition was edited into a two hour special for PBS' Great Performances series. There is no word yet on whether or not Eric Clapton himself will perform at Crossroads, although he is currently on the road with Jeff Beck and has additional 2010 dates lined up with Roger Daltrey (who recently performed with his band the Who during the Super Bowl XLIV Halftime Show) and Steve Winwood, respectively.

With double-bills like these, Eric Clapton tickets are going to be some of the most popular concert tickets of 2010, so get yours online. Although Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck both played guitar in the Yardbirds prior to enjoying success as solo artists, the pair of guitar greats had seldom performed together onstage until a Tokyo concert last year. The duo's live collaboration featured them duetting on songs like "Brown Bird," "Wee Baby," "Outside Woman Blues" and "Want To Take You Higher," which received a Grammy nod for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals (Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" took home the prize).

Clapton also announced another collaboration recently, although this time with T-Mobile, as the guitar legend is helping market T-Mobile's new myTouch 3G Fender Limited Edition Phone, which arrived on Jan 20. Clapton follows in the footsteps of actress Catherine Zeta Jones (who appears in the company's cell phone plan campaign) in promoting for T-Mobile, while Whoopi Goldberg is among a string of celebrities featured in T-Mobile's myTouch ads.

T-Mobile's Fender device comes equipped with preloaded songs like Clapton classics "Layla," "Rock 'N' Roll Heart," "Wonderful Tonight" and "My Father's Eyes." The popular ad for T-Mobile's new myTouch 3G Fender Limited Edition Phone features the song "I've Got a Rock 'N' Roll Heart," which appears on his 1983 album Money and Cigarettes.

This article is sponsored by StubHub. is a leader in the business of selling, sports tickets, concert tickets, theater tickets and special events tickets.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cream - A Spotlight on Music's Original Power Trio

By Jim Hofman

Cream, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, is one of the most influential bands of all time. Three elite musicians came together in the spring of 1966 to form a band that can be best described as monumentally groundbreaking, even to this day. Let's take a closer look at why Cream is so enduring and influential ...

Cream: The Formation

Cream is the greater of three individual parts. Founded by drummer Ginger Baker, the band also boasts the immense talents of multi instrumentalist and vocalist Jack Bruce, along with legendary guitar virtuoso and vocalist Eric Clapton.

These three musicians had impressive legacies even before the formation of Cream. Baker and Bruce performed together in the Graham Bond Organization, a jazz fusion band that wowed British audiences in the early and mid sixties. Both performed in other influential English groups of the day, crossing paths with many world class musicians, including Eric Clapton. Before joining forces with Baker and Bruce, Clapton was a key member of both The Yardbirds and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, honing his guitar skills influenced by the great American bluesmen.

By early 1966, Baker, Bruce, and Clapton were both feeling constricted in their respective bands. Baker approached Clapton about creating a new three piece group, and Clapton quickly suggested Jack Bruce as the third member, having crossed paths with the brilliant bass player on the London musical scene. Baker, while initially hesitant due to some ongoing personality conflicts with Bruce, relented to Clapton's suggestion and the band was born.

The Chemistry of Cream

The musical chemistry between the three members is unmistakable and undeniable. In fact, the name Cream was chosen to represent each members standing as the cream of the crop at their respective instrument. Over the years, Ginger Baker has commented that playing with Bruce and Clapton was easy because he had an almost telepathic sense of what they would play next.

Initially, personal chemistry between the three helped propel the music. However, grueling tour schedules and squabbles over songwriting credits let to a strain in relationships, particularly between Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. Clapton, almost as strong willed as the other two, was continually thrust into the role of peacemaker. Compounding the situation was the fact that all three men have extremely strong musical directions, with each wanting to be in control. Substance abuse problems afflicting all three certainly didn't help, and a break up was inevitable.

Their shelf life lasted a mere two and a half years, from the spring of 1966 through November, 1968. During that time period, they toured relentlessly in Europe and the United States, building their reputation with their virtuoso performances and long, extended jams. Their style was influenced by jazz and blues music, and Clapton himself refers to Cream as a jazz rock fusion band, which is about a correct a moniker as any. Baker is a jazz drummer by trade, and to this day recoils at being referred to as a rock drummer.

During their life, the band recorded four landmark albums: Fresh Cream, their debut, in 1966, followed by Disraeli Gears in 1967. Wheels of Fire was released in 1968, and finally the aptly titled Goodbye in 1969, a few months after their farewell performance in November, 1968.


A band that is greater than the sum of its three parts, Cream continues to influence bands even today. With their unique blend of rock, jazz, and blues, Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton left an indelible mark on the world of music.

There is a lot more to the story of Cream. To learn more about this groundbreaking band, including their reunions and their relationships today, visit us at:

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Cream - An Anatomy of Their Reunions

By Jim Hofman

Cream, the legendary musical power trio featuring Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, and Eric Clapton, have reunited only a couple of times since their acrimonious break up in 1968. The behind the scenes story is better than any day time soap opera. Their musical chemistry is as intense as their personal relationships and their individual musical directions. All of it adds up to one great story.

Cream is more than the sum of its three parts, those being world class drummer Ginger Baker, bass virtuoso and vocalist Jack Bruce, and the legendary Eric Clapton. Their musical chemistry has always been undeniable, even to the three men themselves. But why have they only reunited briefly in the 40+ years since they broke up? It's a fascinating story to say the least.

Acrimonious Break Up

When Cream originally broke up in 1968, there were numerous bad feelings between the three men. Although a deep underlying affection still existed, squabbles over song writing credits, difficult tour schedules, and personality conflicts had the three barely speaking to one another.

Baker and Clapton worked together again in Blind Faith, a super group which lasted one album and tour. Jack Bruce went his separate way, and the three didn't cross paths until a chance meeting in 1976.

As the story goes, Baker, Bruce, and Clapton all happened to be at the same London record company office early one summer day. Almost eight years had passed since they had spent time together and some of the anger had mellowed. They agreed to spend the afternoon together at Clapton's home. Clapton speaks amusingly about the afternoon, noting the personal chemistry between the three still existed.

Both Baker and Bruce attended Clapton's wedding in 1979, but musically the three kept their distance. Unfortunately, all three were dealing with serious substance abuse problems at the time.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inducts Cream

In early 1993, Cream was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. All three members approached the induction ceremony with great caution, with each serving as an intermediary for the other. All three did attend, with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton delivering emotional acceptance speeches. A brief three song reunion followed onstage, the first time Cream had performed live in almost 25 years.

Backstage and later to the press, each member spoke glowingly of the experience. Baker and Bruce went so far as to state they would be willing to tour as Cream. Clapton, while intrigued, was cautious. He was still recovering from the recent death of his son and wasn't quite ready to fully embrace his musical past.

Cream Reunion

By the early 2000's, even the men themselves doubted whether a reunion would ever happen. In 2003, Jack Bruce became seriously ill and almost lost his life. Perhaps this was a catalyst, because after his initial recovery reunion rumors started to surface. Eric Clapton finally confirmed in late 2004 that Cream would indeed reunite in 2005, after a series of rehearsals. Four concerts would be staged at the Royal Albert Hall in London, just after Clapton's 60th birthday.

By all accounts, the six weeks of rehearsals went off without a hitch. Clapton alluded to "one little skirmish" during the first week, but added that each of the three realized how lucky they were to perform as Cream once again. The concerts were a sold out smash success and were filmed for a DVD and television special, both of which received glowing reviews.

New York City Concerts

Bouyed by their successful shows and presented with a lucrative offer, Cream agreed to play three nights in New York that October. During the first show, old animosities surfaced between Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. The shows went on, the music was favorably reviewed, but there was an awkwardness between the three on stage.

Further Reunion Prospects

Depending upon who is asked, the possibility of further Cream reunions is bleak or quite possible. Bruce and Baker performed together at a tribute concert for Baker in late 2008, and Clapton has spoken glowingly of the two. While Jack Bruce has pushed for more reunion dates, Clapton has been less than enthusiastic. Baker, on the other hand, says Cream will not reunite due to the clash with Bruce in New York.

Clapton maintains a heavy performance and travel schedule and has recently delved heavily into his musical past. Jack Bruce continues to write and perform, while Baker still drums while living in retirement in South Africa. Clapton wrote the forward for Bruce's new autobiography and it appears the three are in contact.

Will Cream reunite again? Stay tuned ...

The legendary musical power trio Cream is one of most influential bands of all time. Their combination of jazz, rock, and blues helped pave the way for many musical groups over the last 40 years. Cream's musical chemistry and interpersonal relationships are almost as fascinating as their music. For more information on Cream, visit us at:

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Every Beatles Fan Has to Make it to Abbey Road - And That Crossing

By Stephen Kahn

It is a clear sign of the enduring power of the Beatles that in daylight hours it is rare to find London's Abbey Road Studios not besieged by camera-wielding pilgrims. The building itself - a short walk from St. John's Wood tube station - is underwhelming. Its owners EMI have put the studio up for sale to ease the parent company's massive debt burden. No new owner will want to sever the connection with the Beatles.

Fans come from all over the world to pay homage and to test the patience of motorists by getting photographed on the pedestrian crossing outside of the studios. It has been moved slightly from the position on the cover of the Beatles 1969 album 'Abbey Road' - almost all their music was recorded at the studios between 1962 and 1970 - but remains one of the most commanding sites in popular music.

Abbey Road continues as a working studio and is not open to the general public. Beatles fans pay their respects by leaving messages on its outside wall in such numbers it has to be re-painted many times in a year. The crossing can be viewed on the studio's 24-hour webcam.

Given the wealth of songs produced by the members of the group - both before and since its split - to my mind 'Abbey Road', the album is a lesser work. The best songs 'Something' and 'Here Comes the Sun' were written by George Harrison and not the more prolific writing duo John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Abbey Road Studios has a colourful history in addition to its association with the Beatles. Pink Floyd, for example, was among the other groups to record there. No examination of the studios' place in British popular music should fail to mention that Cliff Richard and the Drifters (later the Shadows) recorded 'Move It' there in 1958. The song is a rare example of genuine home grown Brit rock and roll.

I'm a retired former British national newspaper journalist who hasn't lost the writing bug. Visit me at my blog Here I post regularly on my take on the world around me. As for the website's title all is revealed in the blog's profile.

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Hippies Spread the Word Online

By Joseph E Mcevoy

Hippies and the World Wide Web

Go ahead, call me a hippie. I don't mind, though I hope you're not being mean or sarcastic, because hippies have made positive societal contributions over the past few decades. The community of hippies is connected by simple principles and growing everyday, thanks in part to the world wide web.

Beliefs of the hippies have become so accepted that we don't think about where they came from or attribute them to the hippies.

Young and old Hippies are needed to reawaken and in some cases awaken for the first time, the spirit of Activism in Peace loving people. At no time before has the world needed the Hippie philosophy more.

Some say that you will recognize a hippie when you see one, but look deeper and you'll find the principles of the hippies everywhere. Historically, the hippies began in the 1960's, as a counterculture response to conservative politics. Fifty years later, the movement once characterized as embracing peace, love, and rebellion has evolved into a culture of activism.

Throughout society, people are now more accepting of difference, and some say the hippies deserve credit for that. Hippies, as a group, believe in social activism, stopping discrimination, and questioning the status quo. Speaking truth to power is at the hart of activism. - Why do you believe that? - It was the Hippies that asked that question. Politicians should always be able to answer, and we should always keep asking until they do.

For the hippies, the internet has provided the best opportunity for networking, it is the number one place today for learning, sharing, and joining a group of activists. Hippies don't want to talk about things, they want to get things done.

Hippies are not a selfish group. We are not in fact a real organization; the hippies are simply people around the globe who want to promote and encourage fairness. They want to give a voice to those who historically have not had one. If you are a Hippie, and you want to get active, the Internet is a good place to start.

What can you do? Don't think about stereotypes of the hippies but about their actions. Go online, with activism in mind, and give some thought to how you can make the world a better place. Start by commenting on blogs and forums, submit articles, share your ideas and tell others.

Thanks all of you who have made the Internet a cool place. Peace, Love and Well-Being!

Joseph McEvoy

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Led Zeppelin - Creators of Heavy Metal

By Jeff Bachmeier

The 70s and 80s was an era that saw the introduction of Heavy Metal. One of the leading bands who helped introduce and make heavy metal popular was Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin was an English rock band formed in 1968 by Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones and John Bonham. Prior to being labeled Led Zeppelin, the group came together as "The Yardbirds" a band that Eric Clapton once played lead guitar for. After Clapton left, the band later reformed under a new name, came to America and before long sold over 200 million albums worldwide including 111.5 million certified units in the United States.

The band Led Zeppelin also ranked #1 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Led Zeppelin released their first album in 1969 during their first U.S. tour. The album was considered a nice blend of blues, folk and eastern influences.

They were also described as the heaviest band of all time by Rolling Stone. Many even suggest that Led Zeppelin's album "Led Zeppelin II" wrote the blueprint for heavy metal bands. The title and genre assigned to Led Zeppelin of heavy metal had Plant concerned who at the time was afraid it would typecast the group. Plant said it was unfair for Led Zeppelin to be labeled heavy metal as a third of their music was acoustic.

Then, as now, the definition of heavy metal was music that has its roots in blues-rock and/or psychedelic rock. It is also characterized by amplified distortion, extended guitar solos and lyrics associated with masculinity and machismo.

While the label "Led Zeppelin II" gave the band its heavy metal genre, "Led Zeppelin IV" showed off the band's unique talents. The album included songs such as "Black Dog, "Going to California", and "Rock and Roll." The album proved to be the band's best selling history thanks mostly to the track "Stairway To Heaven".

Stairway to Heaven, the most requested song by the band, was played at every tour from its release in 1971. The song was voted number three in 2000 by VH1 on its list of 100 Greatest Rock Songs.

The song was also considered controversial as some Christian evangelists suggested that it had hidden messages in the song that were masked. The technique, they said, was called backward masking and hid messages about Satanism. Some stated that in the section of the song where lyrics say "If there's a bustle in your hedgegrow, don't be alarmed now", if played backward stated "Here's to my sweet Satan" and "I sing because I live with Satan". The band ignored such claims stating that their 'turntables only play in one direction, forward, and that it would be a silly waste of time to record something like this'.

What was Led Zeppelin's biggest musical influence when first getting started that made them such a success? Certainly all the talent of Bonham, Jones, Page and Plant didn't hurt. Some state that with Page's layered guitar work, Plant's upper-timbre vocals, Jones' melodic bass playing and keyboard work along with Bonham's thunderous drumming created alchemy, how could they go wrong?

It was after the death of drummer John Bonham that the group disbanded in the early 1980s. Robert Plant went on to launch his solo career and Jimmy Page formed "The Firm" with former Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers. John Paul Jones began producing, arranging and scoring music.

The group did rejoin in 2007 for a concert in London. Surviving members along with deceased drummer John Bonham's son Jason performed. Whether the group performs again or not, it is hard to tell. But it certainly has already left a lifetime long legacy.

Jeff Bachmeier is owner of, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50's thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile. For more information please visit http:///

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OPINION: Top 10 Bass Guitar Songs

By Or Kynan

Let us try to get a best bass guitar songs list among the hundreds of wonderful songs that we have heard over the years. The list, though not inclusive of all the legends, is an attempt at listing out the top 10 bass guitar songs.

The number ten song on the list is Break on Through by the Doors and it is quite a wonderful way that the bass is used in this song that makes it such a hot favorite. Higher up on the list at number nine is Boris the Spider by The Who.

At number eight we have Whipping Post by the Allman Brothers band and at number seven we have Roundabout by Yes. Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin is at number six and at number five we have The Real Me by The Who. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple is at number four and at three we have Another One Bites the Dust by Queen.

At number two we have My Generation by The Who and the topmost position is occupied by Money by Pink Floyd.

There could be a number of people who will be annoyed that the list does not include the legends of bass guitar like the Beatles, The Eagles, Dire Straits, Black Sabbath, Taylor Swift, Guns N Roses, Metallica and many more wonderful, talented and gifted legends who had made the bass guitar a magical instrument.

The list as stated earlier is not a complete list and there are bound to be arguments and counter arguments about the validity of an inclusion. The list is just a starting point where beginners or novices in guitar playing can listen to and learn the wonderful skills from the legends who have strummed the guitars to perfection to bring out the best music that we had all loved and cherished.

Along with the list of top 10 bass guitar songs we must also have a list of top 10 bass players who have immortalized this humble instrument into a great piece of art. This list would again not be a complete list but just an attempt to identify the legends of guitar who have given us such wonderful music.

Paul McCartney from the Beatles was considered a legend that used to play the bass to perfection and most people thought that his fingers were magical when they touched the guitar and some of the most memorable bass guitar songs have come from this great man. Others on the list would include Pino Palladino, Flea, Jaco Pastorius, Mark King, Tony Levin, Geddy Lee, Bootsy Collins, Charlie Haden and John Paul Jones.

Here we spoke about great bass guitar songs and great bands. But if you want to learn how to play the bass guitar, If you want to play the bass in 8 days or less ... this is the place for you:

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A Brief Introduction to Jazz Improvisation - Part 1

By Olly Wedgwood

Many talented musicians seem to go pale when someone asks them to leave the music for a few moments and fill in those 4 bars with a bit of jazz improvisation. Some see it as a strange and uncharted land, full of weird things like Modes and Tritonal Substitutions. Don't Panic! Although jazz theory can get become 'involved', a great deal of 'good sounding stuff' can be played or sung with understanding of just a few basic starting points.

I have tried to distil some of these for you in this brief 'Impro-Info-Pack', which I hope you will find useful and enjoyable. After all, jazz improvisation should be satisfying and fun for all involved (that includes the audience!).

Encyclopaedia definition of Jazz:

"Jazz is an original American musical art form originating around the start of the 20th century in New Orleans, rooted in Western music technique and theory and marked by the profound cultural contributions of African Americans. It is characterized by blue notes, syncopation, swing, call and response, polyrhythms, and improvisation. Jazz has been described as "America's Classical Music," and started in saloons throughout the nation."

1. Have confidence!

Standing up to 'do a solo' can be daunting to say the least, especially when there's an audience in front of you! However, standing up, not flinching on 'duff' notes and projecting your solo to the listener will give them a sense that you are playing for them - a musical 'gift' if you like. It adds to your enjoyment and confidence. If you make a mistake - maybe a wrong note - use it! Slide confidently up to a 'right' note, for example! Don't be afraid of making mistakes, as they are a very good way to learn new ideas.

2. Know What You Want to Play

I once attended a jazz class held by an ace pianist. The problem was that all the improvisations he did seemed to be 'pre-programmed' in his fingers. There were set arpeggios, runs, twiddles ... and it was nice but all rather mechanistic. Improvising should be having an idea and then expressing it - communicating it - in the 'language of music'. But, we need to have the idea before even beginning to try and make it into music! We need to have an input of ideas that sound good to us.


... to music ... all types of music from Bach to Beatles, Van Halen to Van Morrison! Most of all, listen to the jazz/blues 'Greats' - folk like:

Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, Sonny Rollins, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Art Farmer, Freddy Hubbard, Stan Kenton, Herbie Hancock, Cannonball Adderley, Art Tatum, Billy Holiday, Monte Alexander, Louis Jordan, Glen Miller, Errol Garner, Frank Sinatra, Oscar Peterson, Dinah Washington, Gerry Mulligan, Miles Davis, Fats Waller, Stephane Grappelli, Zoot Sims, Charles Mingus, Count Basie, Ray Ellington, ... to name but a few!!!

Sing Along

Whether in your room, in the shower or walking down the street (careful - not too loud!), sing the melody line that you've heard and copy the player's/ singer's phrasing. Whistle it, tap the rhythm, go to sleep with it going round your head and wake up with it still going round in the morning (although this can get annoying!).

The more you can 'hear' and reproduce others' ideas, the more you'll be able to use them in your jazz solos, tailoring them to what you personally would like to hear. This process happens at a subconscious level too - an effective way to learn a language is by copying others.

So, Know what you want to play by listening to loads of varied music - not only jazz, it could be any genre!!

This series is continued in Part 2 ...

Olly J Wedgwood, jazz pianist and singer, leads The Jazz Soul Boogie Band - a professional UK function band performing live jazz, soul and dance music entertainment for wedding receptions, corporate events and parties. See for more information, audio and video.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

High on music

Jim Morrison pretty much summed up the hippie era when he said, "I like ideas about the breaking away or overthrowing of established order. I am interested in anything about revolt, disorder, and chaos, especially activity that seems to have no meaning. It seems to me to be the road towards freedom - external freedom is a way to bring about internal freedom."

The hippies were many different things. But the one thing that brought them together was music. Their music was greatly characterized by use of brilliant colors, hallucinogenic images, and free style under the influence of mind altering experiences of psychedelic drugs. The psychedelic music styles came in different forms like, rock, trance, soul, folk and others.

It all began when in the 60s many folk and rock musicians began to produce music under the influence of drugs like LSD and marijuana to disconnect themselves from reality. Musicians experimented with various instruments ranging from electric guitar to the sitar to tabla, organs and Mellotron; produced varied studio effects, did bizarre setups and wrote surreal and esoteric or even biting political lyrics. The psychedelic music reflected the counterculture of the '60s.

The 60s, especially, between 1963 and 1966, was a very volatile period and especially so in music. The complacent rock n'roll broke into three main genres: there was the Bob Dylan kind of socio-political songs, then there were bands that delved in studio techniques and odd arrangements like The Beatles and then there were the bands that were loud and created musical mayhem with their songs and the use of instruments like the Rolling Stones and the Who. 

Jefferson Airplane was the epitome of psychedelic rock bands and their singles like White Rabbit and Somebody to Love established psychedelic rock songs as a musical genre. When The Beatles came onto the scene they took over this genre like a storm and gave the immortal Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Strawberry Fields Forever.

The Rolling Stone’s answered that with Their Satanic Majesties Request and then Pink Floyd came out with their best psychedelic work with The Piper at the Gates of Dawn and Astronomy Domine among many others.

No psychedelic rock band talk is incomplete without the mention of The Grateful Dead. With their free form and improvisation of jazz as rock music, it made them one of the greatest of all psychedelic rock bands. Another great songwriter and musician of this time was Bob Dylan. Although he was more of a protest songwriter, yet he had the knack of combining surrealist imagery with pop music and so became an inspiration to many psychedelic bands.

The 1960s was a time of musical revolution. Till the mid 60s, rock was a genre that was on the borderline with the blues. In fact, the music of the hippies essentially came from folk rock. But all that changed with the entry of psychedelic rock music. Weird sounds, drug inspired lyrics, eccentric fashion etc paved the way for psychedelic rock. With the arrival of psychedelic rock, other forms like hard rock, heavy metal, progressive rock, and other rock forms were just waiting to knock on the door.

Monday, February 15, 2010

OPINION: Why America Needs Musicians Like Dylan

By David Lorango

"But you who philosophize disgrace, and criticize all fears", a young Bob Dylan wailed off on a signature track for Times They Are A'Changin'. "Take the rag away from your face, now ain't the time for your tears". The emotional and social plea found in the musical halls of Dylan's The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll is emblematic of an era where topical songwriting, and songwriters, confronted injustice with the keen eye of an artist.

Today, music takes the safest approach to topics. Turn on a radio and you'll be whisked away by females protesting that you should "just dance" and male vocalists confounded by the prospect of "tryinna find the words to describe this girl without being disrespectful". And if you can identify these musical voices, they're not the only culprits. Name any pop star with a top ten album and you're bound to find the same three topics, regurgitated ad nausea. These are: dancing, women, and heart break.

Pop music has mostly relied on these tried and true topics. Even our most beloved figures sang about these topics 50 years ago (Elvis, anyone)? Dylan, and those like him during the '60s, captured the zeitgeist and political upheaval and managed to put this strife into lasting artistic impressions in the form of notes and sound.

America's current political state of being is perhaps one of the most tumultuous since the Great Depression and World War II. With two wars, record unemployment, a congress bought off by the ever increasing dominance of America's few major corporations, and an uncertain economic future, America is at a precipice. Yet for all this turmoil, America's music has ramped up the incessantly banal. Our approach, like it was after September 11th, was to just dance and shop away the concerns from our daily lives. A war is a world away, except at the airport.

Americans are seeking a way to reconnect with one another over the injustices in the world. There are tea party movements, Glenn Beck watch parties, health care rallies, and protest movements of all kind about the internet. Music has responded to its most precious task of bringing people together by doing so in the most inoffensive and uninspiring way it can: to induce a state of ignorant blind euphoria.

Listeners turn to music less and less to reflect about the world and their position in it, and more to get happy and dance drunkenly with one another. Particularly in the younger generations, the thought of listening to a song where a slightly disheveled young man croons "killed by a blow, slain by a cane [...] doomed and determined to destroy all the gentle" would strike them as "too depressing" to merit further listen.

There was a belief in the 1960s that music could change the world. This is not a belief that should be given up. America's plights, for better or worse, appear to be boiling, and music will need to do more than cultivate a sense of collective euphoria for whatever little amounts of joy remain at America's splintered core.

Music can heal and cull from America's depths the deep morals, ideals and promise always beating at its center. As a culture, we must open our eyes. If not, our cynicism will lead, just as it did in Dylan's song, to our "burying the rag, deep in our faces" and finding, unwillingly and unwelcomed, that "now is the time for our tears".

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A Starr on the Walk of Fame

By Louise Nelhams

Monday February 8th 2010 saw former Beatles drummer, Ringo Starr, earn his place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where he joins 2,400 other famous names.

Born in Dingle, Liverpool on the 7th July 1940, as Richard Starkey, Ringo was the last (and oldest) member to join the world-famous pop group, after George Martin ousted original drummer, Pete Best. Prior to his big break, he played with Rory and The Hurricanes; a popular band in the clubs of Liverpool and Hamburg, who unfortunately never managed a successful recording career.

After joining The Beatles in 1962, Starr's life was never going to be the same again. The Beatles went on to become the second biggest recording artists, only one step behind Elvis Presley.

Despite the unprecedented success of the band and the ensuing 'Beatlemania', the band were troubled by personality clashes - these clashes and constant disagreements eventually led to the band calling it a day in 1970. Because Ringo had always kept a degree of detachment from the hype and ego of being in the world's biggest band and a distance from the arguments, he managed to maintain strong relationships with the other 3 - he was the first to comfort Yoko after Lennon's murder in 1980.

Surviving alcoholism and becoming sober after a stint in a clinic in Arizona, Ringo continued to work as both an actor and musician, gaining success in both fields. He worked on solo recordings with each of his ex-Beatle friends and even hosted TV shows. His voice became synonymous with children's television, when he narrated the much loved Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends.

At 69 years of age, Ringo is still an active musician, touring and delighting audiences with his group - Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band will be touring America from June this year.

For a chance to own a limited edition print of Ringo and his Beatle band-mates, from a collection of photographs taken by an acclaimed photographer and BAFTA award winning cinematographer, visit The Beatles Hidden Gallery online and register your interest now.

I am a freelance copywriter, providing engaging and dynamic copy for a variety of different businesses. I'm currently working on an exciting new project involving some previously unseen and unpublished photos of The Beatles and I also work closely with many web designers, supplying SEO copy for their clients.

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Status Quo Rock Buck House With OBEs From the Queen

By Milton Johanides

Forget global warming, financial recession, Medicare, and non-stop rain and snow forecasts, all's well with the world if Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi, popularly known as Status Quo, can get an invitation to Buckingham Palace to collect OBEs.

With so much in the news that is disagreeable or depressing or provocative or irritating, it is so nice to have one thing that we can all feel warm and cosy about. I mean this is the band all us oldies played air guitar to back in the 70s and who made sure denim never went out of fashion. It was also the band you never mentioned in the company of purist rockers who went on about how "all the tracks sound the same." Rubbish!

I've got every album they ever made and no two tracks sound the same, and a lot of the time they even managed to use more than three chords. But that´s beside the point. It´s a bit like saying Picasso was rubbish because he only ever used blue red and yellow. It's the end result which matters, and in the case of Quo the result is an unmatched discography of high quality blues and rock, ballads as well as high powered R&B that jump as much today as they ever did.

Not only do they have a record breaking 64 British hit singles to their name, but at least a couple of dozen of those can be regarded as rock anthems. Who has never gone mental to "Rockin All over The World" or "Down Down". Played end to end these songs have the ability to relieve even the dowdiest bad day!

But it's not just about catchy tunes and melodies that stick in the mind, Quo also evoke an era of fast romance, the perfect soundtrack to the dawn of a new age of permissiveness and the rise of girl power. Status Quo lyrics are usually a mournful tirade against lost or difficult love, of young boys trying to cope with mature girls. For example:

She looked to me like a good girl
I played along like a fool
I paid a lot just to find out
She's no exception to the rule.

Even without the music these chorus lines of "Like A Good Girl", written by Rossi and Young, echo the frustration of generations of males since the sixties coming to terms with "New Woman".

Quo were there as a welcome alternative to disco and Motown and could fill the floor just as fast as Lionel Richie or The Jacksons, in a way that no other rock band could - at least not until Queen in their heyday. Like Queen, they managed to bridge the gap between stonking rock sounds, pure dance rhythm, and gut wrenching heartbreak.

Well, today, another Queen, the real Her Maj, at last pays the denim clad rockers the honour they deserve.

Milton Johanides is a retired businessman, church elder, writer and artist. He has been featured on BBC TVs Songs of Praise, owned numerous art galleries and once ran an award winning picture framing business in Scotland. The views expressed in these articles are his own. email:

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The Environmental Movement and the Civil Rights Movement

By Kevin L Barry

From the Black civil rights movement in America, we can learn something very important about the prospects of the environmental movement.

While the movements are obviously fighting for very different subjects, the parallels are easy to see. The green movement has powerful champions, such as Al Gore, Agnes Denes and Amy Balkin. Some of the most extraordinary people who have ever existed fought for civil rights, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

Neither movement has simply sprung out of the ground, but instead were a culmination of centuries of work, of abolitionists such as W.E.B. Dubois or conservationists such as Henry David Thoreau.

So what can we take away from the fact that the movements are similar? One is that we need fighters (you can call them artists, if you like) with bold ideas. African Americans waited long enough for Whites to hand them their rights before bold people stepped up the plate with bold ideas. Boycotts, sit-ins, marches, and other creatively organized resistance delivered justice to Blacks in America in the end.

Their efforts succeeded in convincing government to see their point of view. Black leaders did not end racism, though. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated before he saw his vision of the world. The American Government did not end racism. It was not until our modern era, the 21st century, that race issues have finally started to fade. Why now?

It started with an idea. A genius government official took a doll of a white girl and a doll of a black girl and asked little black girls, "Which is better?" When the girls chose the white dolls, the world was moved. Segregation in schools was ended. A new era of school reform slowly took place. Every year since, the idea of tolerance has been more engrained in the mind of every student in the United States. Our generation in New York has had this idea (correctly) brainwashed into us: we are all equal. The result is a society with less racism as more generations are born.

People become hard set in their ways with age. It is during youth that ideas and preferences for life are fixed. The green movement needs to understand this. Changing the minds of adults is very hard, although necessary. Teaching kids if the most effective plan for the future of the movement.

From elementary school, kids need to learn how plants grow. There should be community or school gardens where children can experience this act of Creation on their own. They should learn the taste of their own fresh fruits and vegetables.

They should be taught in easy lessons how, with these gifts, a responsibility is given to them to take care of the earth. We can teach them to be disgusted by the idea of pollution. Their world will be cleaner than we can imagine and they wouldn't even understand how anyone could live another way. Can you emphasize with a slave owner, or understand why people would discriminate against a soft-spoken, well dressed black man? The idea is absurd.

This is my art project. It is in our schools that change must come. While we adults must do our best to lead a good example, it will all be for nothing if we don't start, today, teaching children how to love the world, and how to love the smell of growing life on a spring morning.

If you liked this and live in Ozone Park, head over to and eat pizza.

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Martin Luther King and Persuasion

By Kevin L Barry

Before reading Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", the extent of my knowledge on the Reverend was his most famous "I have a dream" speech, only. Reading it now, I am most struck by the character of the author himself. I knew he was a passionate man and a powerful orator, but am now interested in analysing some of the more interesting parts of his character.

King succeeded in a rare balancing act. He was a highly introspective and logical scholar, yet a pious reverend at the same time. He demonstrated this in his letter through appeals of logic, and through appeals to the heart. Throughout it all, I am impressed with King's mastery of human persuasion.
It is rare today to see a leader defend his views with logical reasoning, but King does so with eloquence.

A great part of his letter is a step by step rundown of various issues his opponents have, but several excerpts spring to mind. The clergymen have asked him why he would butt into Birmingham, but King does not pen down an, "How dare you?" in outrage. Instead, he starts building pieces of evidence supporting his case. He gives his impressive credentials in the field. Knowing that is not enough, he details how he was invited to Birmingham by town representatives. To his Christian audience he relates his cause to biblical ones, saying that it is his Christian duty to interfere when injustice has taken place. To make sure no hole is left unfilled, he states a final truth, that Birmingham is indeed rife with injustice.

He does not stop the clear headed thinking anywhere in his letter. Later, he writes, "You may well ask: 'Why direct action? Why sit ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis ... that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue."

He guesses a doubt in the mind of his audience, and validates the importance of the audience's opinion. He then used the same idea raised by the audience against them, and argues logically, saying that negotiation is indeed necessary and without direct action negotiation would not occur. He does not scream his point, nor tell his fellow clergy that they are outright wrong. His subtlety worked well on these occasions.

At the same time, King's speeches were strong because of their emotion, and this letter is no different. King gives a heart-wrenching appeal to the demand of "wait", of which this line is but a small part: "Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, 'Wait' ... but when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky."

It is not just segregation, it's the 'stinging darts of segregation" which plague black people. It is quite easy to empathize with the Negro father, who stammers to his daughter. The "ominous clouds of inferiority" hang over the reader's minds as well, and the term "little" invokes a great feeling of sympathy of the child. King influences his reader's emotions extremely well.

I could go on about either of these topics endlessly, as King's skill in both subjects is among the best in history. His character and ability to argue from both sides of the spectrum allowed him to achieve what others could not, for being too emotional like Malcolm X, to not being nearly so like many who stood aside and are not remembered.

If you liked this and live in Ozone Park, head over to and eat pizza.

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The Jimi Hendrix Story‏

by Chris Chew

He was called Johnny Allen Hendrix or James Marshall Hendrix but was most popular known around the world to his fans as Jimi Hendrix.

Hendrix was born in Seattle on November 27, 1942 and passed away in September 1970 putting him in the "27 Club". The Club's creation were the deaths of a seemingly unusual number of prominent 27-year-old musicians within a two-year period of time, exactly. These musicians include Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.

Jimi Hendrix, even until now is well regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in the history of rock and roll music.

Hendrix first became well known in England, and then became famous worldwide after he played at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. He was a self-taught guitarist and was usually seen performing with his Fender Stratocaster. As Hendrix was left-handed, he would play the guitar upside down with the strings attached in reverse order. In the year 2003, some three decades after he passed away, Rolling Stone magazine named him the Greatest Guitarist Of All Time.

Hendrix had a hard childhood life as he grew up in a poor family and saw his parents divorced when he was only nine years of age. His mother passed away when he was only 16.

His love for guitar playing was so passionate that when he was 15, he finally managed to own a proper acoustic guitar for $5 from his father's friend. His first electric guitar was a white Supro Ozark that his father had bought him. Since Jimi could not afford to have proper guitar lessons, he picked up his guitar playing skills by watching the legendary greats like Chuck Berry and Elvis Presley.

Jimi never got to complete High School education and he told reporters in the late 1960's that he had failed High School because people were racist there and did not like him because he was an African-American, although some people think that it was just because Jimi did not get good enough grades to continue his education.

The young Jimi was an Elvis Presley fan and he watched "The King" Elvis play live at Sick's Stadium in Seattle on September 1, 1957. His admiration for Elvis stayed with him until his adult days. Even as an adult, he still loved Elvis.

Jimi also liked other musicians and bands such as Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Lightning Hopkins. The young Hendrix even managed to get a gig to play alongside R&B star Little Richard. Unfortunately, Hendrix and Richard couldn't get along and so they fell out after only a brief stint.

After being arrested for stealing cars on two occasions, Jimi had to choose between going to prison for two years or joining the US Army and he chose the latter and entered military service on May 31, 1961. While in the army, his officers complained that he was often caught sleeping on duty and needed to be watched at all times. But it was during his tenure in the army that he met another soldier and bass guitarist called Billy Cox to form the band The King Kasuals.

Jimi's unique style of left-handed playing on a guitar made for right-handed people made him a delight to watch. He later joined a band called The Velvetones, who played at the Yesler Terrace.

After leaving the army, Hendrix and Billy Cox moved together to Clarksville in Tennessee where they played in their group, The King Kasuals. They performed in small clubs and bars but they did not make much of an impact and so they moved on to play in Nashville.

After the Nashville stint, Jimi moved on to Northern New York City to ply his trade. In 1964, he moved to Harlem where he played at bars and clubs there. He eventually won first prize in an amateur guitar contest at The Apollo Theatre.

In 1966, Hendrix formed his own band, Jimmy James and The Blue Flames instead of joining other bands. In 1966, he became friends with the girlfriend of Keith Richards, the lead guitarist for The Rolling Stones, Linda Keith. She liked Hendrix' music and introduced him to Chas Chandler, the manager for The Animals. Chandler told Hendrix to write a rock version of the song "Hey Joe". Subsequently, Chandler brought Hendrix to London to sign a contract with him and Jimi's new band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience was born.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience made its first album, "Are You Experienced?" in the year 1967. In June 4, 1967, The Jimi Hendrix Experience played their last concert in London before going to on to perform in America. Jimi had already hit the big time and his audience in America included big guns in the music industry such Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Brian Epstein.

Jimi launched his second album "Axis: Bold As Love" in 1967. The album had famous songs in it, the most famous being "Little Wing". There have been several other versions of the song by other musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Henry "Hank" Marrion, Metallica, Eric Clapton, Sting and Pearl Jam. The album reached number 3 in the US charts and number 5 in the UK charts.

In 1969, August 18, Hendrix played at the famous Woodstock concert taking the stage with world famous singers and musicians. Hendrix was supposed to play on Sunday evening, but did not arrive until Monday morning, which was unfortunate because of the half a million people who had paid to see him play, around one third had already left.

Hendrix then went on to play a two-hour concert that was described as awful. His band had not practiced enough and could not keep up with Hendrix' fast guitar playing. But to make up for all of this, Hendrix played a version of Star Spangled Banner. He played this anthem with heavy distortion and screams from his guitar that people thought that he was being anti-American and was making fun of their anthem and country.

September 18, 1970, Jimi Hendrix was found dead in a basement of the Samarkand Hotel in London on September 18, 1970. It was said that he died after drinking too much and taking too many sleeping pills. He choked on his vomit and did not regain consciousness. He was buried in Renton, Washington in Greenwood Memorial Park on October 1 1970.

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