January 23, 2016
Hello listeners and readers!
Live365.com, the hosting service for Acoustic Pie Radio, will close its virtual doors on January 31, 2016, unable to remain viable with the uncertainty of future legislation regarding royalty payments. Acoustic Pie has always been a not-for-profit fan stream, generating no revenue and existing solely for the purpose of finding more listeners for my favorite singer/songwriters. Acoustic Pie and thousands of other fan streams will go silent this month.
I started Acoustic Pie Radio in 2002 and it’s been a joy introducing my favorites to you and, even more so, hearing from you ~ both what you like and what you don’t! I remember my first listener thank-you note came from a young lady in Japan. Your appreciation has been appreciated!
So, as always, thank you for listening and for reading! And I’ll look forward to seeing you at the next great show or festival :)
March 22, 2014
I’ve been rethinking the whole Acoustic Pie thing the last few months. Specifically… how to make this hobby of mine ~ the radio station, website, blog, mailing list, playlist reporting, etc. ~ more fun and less work. So far I’m thinking… more festivals and less typing!
So I’ve been to three festivals in five months and I think I’m on to something! The Sisters Folk Festival in Sisters, Oregon in September was just as exciting and relaxing as always. Greg Trooper is an artist that everyone should see live. I went to two of his showcases; I wish I’d gone to all three. His recorded work is often sort of country-rock arrangements with drums and bass but listening to him live on stage with just his guitar and harmonica is transfixing ~ a performance full of energy and insight and humor. Try out some YouTube videos for a taste.
I next went to the FAR-West Folk Alliance Regional Conference in Irvine, California in October. My favorite find there was the Canadian acoustic trio Red Moon Road. Great fun on stage, stylish and professional, and their album captures much of what I loved about them. You can screen and download their album on iTunes or Amazon.
And finally, my first national Folk Alliance conference in Kansas City, Missouri in February. Fun, fun, fun. They must have had a dozen stages running 30 minute showcases from 6-10pm every night and in every room you’d find a professional show with great sound covering genres from singer/songwriter to traditional folk to country folk to blues to bluegrass. I’ll be back next year.
Hey, on a side note, I didn’t realize Tylan of Girlyman had released a solo album. It’s absolutely wonderful. You should buy or download it at CD Baby.
Thanks for reading and for listening to the Pie!
April 3, 2010
I love CDs. The shiny, tangible little round silver things. I like thinking about the artwork, exploring the fine print ~ who wrote this pretty song? Who’s playing that sweet mandolin lead? But, like so many artists nowadays, the last two featured artists on Acoustic Pie released their newest work in digital format first. I had two choices: wait and hope for a CD version… or leap into the world of digitally released music. I leaped.
Not too bad, I found! I tried a bunch of sources including The Giants Who Have Practically Everything ~ iTunes and Amazon. But for my music, I bought from two smaller services that I liked much, much better ~ eMusic.com and 7digital.com. eMusic turned out to be great for mostly independent artists, the singer/songwriters I love to find and promote on Acoustic Pie, from Patty Griffin to The Chapin Sisters. 7digital proved to be a wonderful resource for international songwriters like John Spillane of Ireland and Helgi Jonnson of Iceland. CD Baby’s digital download service worked well, too, although I only found MP3 versions for albums that were already issued on CD.
The bottom line is… I liked it! There are drawbacks, for sure. Like most people, I’m tending to buy single songs rather than whole albums and in choosing songs based on a few quick listens to a small sample of the track, I’m sure I’m missing music that I would come to love over time. I miss the album text; I especially miss knowing who the songwriter is for each song. I have to Google and dig for that now and it’s not always easy to find. I have hope that more song data will be provided in the future.
So I guess I made the digital leap. I’m e-musical now :)
November 1, 2008
I was drinking my afternoon iced mocha on a bench on the San Diego State University campus where I work when I heard the most beautiful harmonies. I looked up and saw two young girls walking toward me, maybe 14-15 years old, singing a vaguely familiar pop song. They were at the head of a pack of young men who were all carrying electric guitar cases and drumsticks. The smaller of the two girls was singing lead and strumming the unamplified electric guitar slung around her neck. The taller was providing the vocal harmonies. They were lovely girls and a teeny bit self-conscious, singing and strumming and striding along the busy path. But what I mainly noticed was that they were having so much fun. They were bursting with the kind of joy that springs from a favorite song and the power of being a part of that song ~ with the joy that is a naturally occurring inclination, arguably a genetic predisposition, in just about every age and every culture of human beings. And I thought, as I often do, that nurturing that joy should be the paramount goal of music lessons.
I found out later that this group of happy kids was on campus attending the Power Chord Academy’s Rock ‘n Roll Music Camp. They were coming from a music lesson. And they had been so inspired that they couldn’t stop singing and playing even as they made their way across campus to return to their dorm rooms. Why is this so surprising? It shouldn’t be. Children are universally drawn to music. There’s some pleasure response that is programmed into our genes. Yet I know that most kids leave their piano and clarinet lessons wanting to get as far away from their instruments as possible. Playing music becomes a chore sandwiched between dusting and taking out the garbage. Kids have to be forced to “practice” something that is a natural, primal source of happiness and satisfaction.
Obviously, I’m targeting conventional, typically classically-based, music lessons ~ the kind most of us adults reading this went through. The kind where the principle goal is to learn to read musical notation and your first “pieces” are limited to the simplest versions of the least interesting of the classical repertoire. I do believe there are valuable mental and cultural gains that are attained with that approach. But unless the pupil is a budding Mozart-style wunderkind who came out of the womb humming Rachmaninoff concertos, I think it’s an excellent way to squash the passion and rob a child of her chance to really experience the wonder of music, the elation of being a participator and the exhilaration of being a creator musically.
The most important goal of any music lesson should be to provide the student with the ability to play the music they love and to create their own music. In a single piano or guitar lesson a child can be taught two or three chords and be singing along to a simple version of a favorite song within 30 minutes. There is no need to insist on “practicing”. She’ll be dying to learn more chords so that she can play more songs. And by the time a child has five or six chords under her fingers, there are few who won’t feel that urge to write something of their own. We have a natural drive to create and to participate musically. Why do we countenance a style of music lesson that kills this natural joy?
If you’re looking for a music teacher for your kids, think about what your goals are. If your goals are strictly to provide mental exercise and the ability to play Hayden sonatas, then you’ll have no trouble finding qualified teachers. But you also have a very high chance of producing a grown-up who gives up her instrument and any form of musical study by the time she leaves home. If you want a child who connects with music, who will exercise her creative muscles, and who will develop a lifelong avocation, perhaps even a passion, then find a teacher who will help her to play music she loves and will give her the tools to create her own music and to discover new music loves. Find someone who will focus on ear training and chord theory and supplement with music notation reading. Someone who will encourage them to play the music they already love while introducing them to the wonders of Beethoven and Jobim. “Discipline” and technique are inevitable with this kind of guidance. And joy, too. Did I mention joy?
September 17, 2005
I just finished Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves – a very funny and instructional book about punctuation; I loved this quote about the threat the Internet poses to correct language usage:
“… by tragic historical coincidence a period of abysmal under-educating in literacy has coincided with this unexpected explosion of global self-publishing. Thus people who don’t know their apostrophe from their elbow are positively invited to disseminate their writings to anyone on the planet stupid enough to double-click and scroll.”
So watch your commas, kids! We don’t want to contribute to this descent into literary anarchy any more than we can help it!
August 25, 2005
I’m thinking that this blog will be a place to contemplate different aspects of the singer/songwriter as a genre (is it a genre?), the song as an art form, its place in popular music, and why we’re drawn to this musical form. As to that earlier theoretically rhetorical question “Is it a genre”? … I’d love to collect some definitions of the singer/songwriter as a genre (or the “performing songwriter” as some are saying nowadays).
Please share your thoughts! You may either click below to post a comment or email me directly using the “Contact Acoustic Pie” link on the blog home page.