Tuesday, March 31, 2015

POSTED: Monday, November 4, 2013, 12:00 PM
YouTube Music Video Awards' host Jason Schwartzman.

Tuning (webbing?) into last night’s first YouTube Music Video Awards,  on-line viewers got another warning  that streaming internet video is not ready for primetime, let alone ready to take over the world.  

Though funded by Google, with access to its'  immense server “backbone” and pulling at most 200,000 viewers (according to an  on-screen counter) the live stream repeatedly  froze up and required a “re-start,”  at least on Gizmo Guy’s home computers  (a Windows 7 laptop connecting via Internet Explorer, a Mac running Safari.)   And the expensively mounted event wasn’t viewable at all on Smart TVs loaded with a YouTube app.

Ironically – the YouTube award is a simple block decorated with a “play” arrow.

POSTED: Friday, October 25, 2013, 11:28 AM

It’s really tough, when one of your major role models turns out to have feet of clay, a sordid secret.

Today, many  Philadelphia and New York–centric music lovers spawned in the progressive rock era are scratching  heads and drooping them low over the “bust” of Dave Herman in a government-steered sex sting operation that casts him as a would-be pedophile.

In the late 1960s,  identified just as “Herman,”  the guy  was at the forefront of  the album rock  revolution with an evening  show on WMMR called “The Marconi Experiment.”  He had great taste in music, a voice of God intonation, adding an air of class and importance to everything he said and played.

POSTED: Thursday, October 24, 2013, 10:03 AM

Is there room for another brand in streaming music services? When it’s YouTube, smart minds are thinking “yes,” which is why the leader  in on-demand  music video is poised to take on the likes of Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio,  MOG, Sony’s Music Unlimited  and the rest.

Already luring more music lovin’ teens and young adults than radio, YouTube is set to launch a subscription music service as soon as December, according to “informed sources” cited by the L.A.  Times. If so, it will likely be announced at the first YouTube Music Awards, to be streamed Nov. 3 with appearances by Lady Gaga, Eminem, M.I.A. and the hot crossover EDM artist Avicii.

Getting into the game – matching the “fifteen million track” offerings of established rivals  – would seemingly be daunting. But the YouTube service will be able to tap into and integrate the already up and running Google Play Music All Access Service (YouTube is also a Google property) and up the ante with a  super search engine and video music options that rivals can’t match.

POSTED: Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 12:46 PM
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Love the way the Brits do theater, but hate the cost of getting there?

Make way tonight to one of the Philadelphia area theaters participating in the NCM Fathom Events closed circuit screening of “Merrily We Roll Along,” a West End London production that’s won rapturous five star reviews from critics on both sides of the big pond. Plus composer Stephen Sondheim himself , who’s touted it as “not only the best I’ve seen, but one of those rare instances where casting, direction and show come together in perfection combination, resulting in the classic ideal of the sum being the greater than the parts. “

While beamed via satellite  in high def and surround sound -  as are other  NCM Fathom presentations of concerts and this coming Saturday’s Metropolitan Opera feed of Shostakovich’s darkly comic opera “The Nose” - the show is presented with a conventional theater intermission (or two, for the operas). It’s also packed with 20 minutes of exclusive backstage content, running during said break. Not bad for $15 a head.

POSTED: Tuesday, October 22, 2013, 2:56 PM

Here’s the fast and dirty on today’s Apple press conference. No iWatch. No news about  Apple TV. No fingerprint recognition or gold casings for the new iPads. Darn!

There’s a new, free operating system upgrade (Mavericks) for recent vintage computers. Better/cheaper MacBook Pro portables coming at $1299 (down from $1499) and up. Plus a super engine, cylindrical  MacPro, perfect for editing your next Ultra High Definition (4K) movie, starting at $2999.

On the software side, iPhoto gains custom book printing capability (another profit center for Apple), Garage Band  now takes 16 tracks.

POSTED: Monday, October 21, 2013, 12:04 PM
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"And we take credit cards!"

Killer blues and soul singer, songwriter and harmonica wailer John Nemeth  had this music lover from the first notes of his first set last night at 2nd Street’s Twisted Tail  Bourbon House and Juke Joint. Then he won my gizmo lovin’ heart, too, when he pulled out a portable credit card processing machine mid-set and launched into the grooviest product pitch song I ever heard - “Get Your CD.”

 Every musical artist carries “merch” on tour with them these days. Usually the CDs and T-shirts get hawked at a table in the lobby or club alcove.  That requires an extra warm body, tending to the goods.  And if you want a disc signed, you gotta hang around for 15 minutes or longer after the show, for the artist to show up.

Nemeth has come up with the ultimate in  direct response advertising – and he’s “frankly surprised nobody has copied me.”  He doesn’t just announce “I have albums available in the lobby, and I’ll be signing them after the show.” He launches into that groovy “Get Your CD” chant and  pitch as part of the performance   – pushing his latest, multi-blues award nominated   “Blues Live” and “Soul Live” concert albums  and inviting you to come right down and nab  ‘em.  In the process, he’s bringing the audience into the act,  boogalooing to the stage  and  testifying to  their admiration for his work.

POSTED: Monday, October 14, 2013, 1:00 PM
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Get your "Ticket to Ride" here.

Philly musicians looking to raise their profile and earn “opened for John Legend” bragging rights should be hopping  on the magical mobile recording studio pulling in to regional World Wide Stereo and PC Richard locations tomorrow and Wednesday.

Sponsored by Polk Audio (and tied to the  gear maker’s 40th anniversary), the “Listen to the Music” competition demands you put vocal and/or instrumental chops to the Doobie Brothers song of the same name in a  high tech tour bus.  Participants  get to access and share a video of their performance, to be posted on https://www.facebook.com/polkaudio/app_572559272806327?ref=br_tf.  And, if  elected by popular vote,  to open for the former Philadelphia-based Legend and the Canadian pop rock cover band Walk Off the Earth at a Polk  party in January at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas tied to the International CES tech show.  “All expenses paid,” natch,  for the trip.

Recording locations include the PC Richard outlet in Lawrence, N.J. on  Tuesday (2-5 p.m.),  then an all afternoon stop  Wednesday (starting at 1:30 p.m.  ) at  World Wide Stereo’s Montgomeryville location (754 Bethlehem Pike.)

POSTED: Thursday, October 10, 2013, 12:30 PM

What did Philly folk do for visual entertainment before motion pictures? You can get a sense tonight  at 6 p.m. as the Wagner Free Institute of Science (1700 W. Montgomery Ave.) hosts  the first ever Philadelphia Lantern Slide Salon.

Using  glass (not film) slides and an early electrified projector (newly restored) to blow up images real good, lantern slides provided good fun as well as educational insights to the world. Wagner’s selection tonight will range from turn of the (20th) century views of Philadelphia neighborhoods and engineering achievements  to international snapshots- travelogue style depictions of Japanese life, 1930s peace demonstrations in Berlin, the Jewish immigrant experience and more.  

Part  and parcel of Archives Month Philly and the Global Philadelphia Exposition,  the show also taps into the historic lantern slide collections of local treasure troves  like the Morris Arboretum, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Anthenaeum of Philadelphia and Wagner's neighbors at the Temple University Special Collections and Research Center.

About this blog
Jonathan Takiff covers all manner of high tech gadgets – and the entertaining stuff you play on them – for the Philadelphia Daily News, philly.com and the McClatchy Tribune News Service. Reach Jonathan at takiffj@phillynews.com.

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
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