Perfect way to start off a trip…

Today begins my two weeks on the road, traveling first to Atlanta for business.  Originally I opted to leave on the President’s Day holiday in hopes that I could get into Atlanta at a decent time, and be checked-in so that I could watch 24.  Unfortunately, it looks like that’s not going to be happening.

This morning I left a little early to have breakfast, but after that everything that could go wrong did go wrong in terms of delays – from the restaurant taking forever, to traffic being bad, to bad parking, to the stupid automated check-in not taking my  reservation (because it was too late and told me to go to the desk).  After waiting in line for 20 minutes, it was obvious that I was not going to make my flight.  Right now I am on standby and if all goes well I will be departing Denver at 7pm and arriving at 12am.  This wasn’t exactly the way I had hoped to start off my trip.  Argh…

Update: Well being on stand-by was no help for the 7pm flight.  Now I am stuck on the 11:59pm flight, which will put me in the ATL by 5am.   Not exactly happy with it, but at least I’m guaranteed a seat. I’m just glad that I managed to find some free Wi-Fi on the B Concourse at DIA.

Geek News Central – the tale of an unsubscribe

I’ve been a pretty avid Podcast listener for over a year now. What started in the beginning with 2006 with someone recommending I listen to The Daily Breakfast quickly grew into a plethora of podcasts. I quickly added more, with many stemming from the tech topics. Right now I have over 40 podcasts in my rotation. In the last year, I’ve added a few, dropped a few, but there has been a core of podcasts that lasted throughout that time. It’s been a while since I’ve distanced myself from one of the “core” podcasts, but this week I’ve decided to cut off ties with an old friend – Geek News Central.

I’ve been struggling with this for some time, and I’ve wondered if it’s a matter of outgrowing podcasts. Throughout the last year, there were podcasts that have been outgrown-able. GNC, however, hasn’t been the case. It’s a podcast that’s well-produced and well-planned, filled with great information. The problem that has been plaguing this podcast, has been the increasing narcissistic nature in the delivery of the content.

I don’t know what’s happened, but over the last few months the delivery of the content has shifted to this way. Now when I listen to the Podcast, each story or topic is given to us this manner: brief explanation of the topic, then right into how it impacts the host, how it impacts him on a personal level, how it impacts his business, his interests, etc. Each episode I’ve listened to over the last few weeks, it’s been tempting to count the number of times “I” or “my” are referenced in the Podcast. It seems to be increasing exponentially.

There’s always been a basic vanity in the podcast. Contrary to most successful radio shows and podcasts – which start with hooking the user to the basic content, and delivering the strongest material first – this podcast has always started with a personal update on the host and his family, usually talking about anything but tech. When users complained about this they were basically given the “my way or the highway” message, clearly unreceptive to critical feedback.

The major pitch of the show is “Tech news for the common man“, but it’s become “Tech news for the host, and if you get something out of it – good for you.” On a base level, there’s nothing wrong with this approach. However, podcasts that don’t concede this hit a glass ceiling. I know that this podcast has aspiration to excel, and in order for it to be successful, some allowances need to be made.

I understand that I am but one subscriber, and in the past anyone critical of the podcast has been basically told “don’t let the door hit you…” However, I know I’m not the first one to feel this way, as my friends have unsubscribed for the same reason. If this podcast is to succeed it needs a critical injection of humility. One can be flexible and make such allowances without sacrificing the ideals of their show. I’m not suggesting the host takes his personality out of the podcast. He can still talk about himself and his family and offer those personal updates – just not at the top of the show. As for the narcissistic delivery – it hasn’t always been like this, and perhaps the show can be challenged to appeal to a broader audience.

Unfortunately I’ve come to a place where I no longer enjoy listening to the podcast, and become increasingly frustrated with hearing a 1 hour manifesto on how the news affects the host. Over time, I’ve taken less and less away from this Podcast, and I fear that I can be entertained elsewhere. It’s sad because this was one of the first podcasts I’ve subscribed to, but it’s time to hit the “delete” key on my subscription.

The importance of musicianship, and supporting the musician community

Last night we had our Andolini’s show, and it turned out to be a pretty interesting experience.  We went into the show with a lot of anticipation.  We did a lot of promotion at School of Mines the prior weekend, and Andolini’s was a new place to play.  When we took the stage, we ended up having a great show, which turned into a great sound mix and video.  However, getting there was another story – and an example of poor musicianship and getting screwed over by another band.

A few weeks ago our band formed an “alliance” on Craigslist with a few other bands in the area.  The intention of this was was to allow us to collaborate, offer advice and help on bookings (we actually got a tip on a few festivals coming up).  One of the most important opportunities is to invite each other to booking opportunities.  We had a chance to contribute with this Andolini’s show.  When we booked the show, there was an opening for another band and we offered to get it for them. In comes one of the bands from “the alliance”.

Things looked great on paper.  An email got sent out and a band quickly filled the slot.  We were good to go.  Prior to the show, they asked if they could play first, with which we had no problem.  In hind-sight, that turned out something that came back and bit us.

We had a really good feeling when we got there.  The other band brought well over 30 people to the show.  The room was abuzz with energy.  They were really rocking out the place, and we were pumped to get on stage.  However, it would be a while before we actually took the stage.

The rule of thumb when playing multiple-band gigs is that when you finish your set, you need to get your gear off the stage ASAP to let the other band set up.  Too much time in between bands simply drives fans away.  This is especially critical for the drummer, who has the most gear. Somebody should have mentioned this unspoken rule to this band.

As soon as they other band stopped playing their drummer left his drum set behind and ventured into the crowd.  Talking to virtually everyone in the bar.  While he was doing that, his drum set sat untouched, leaving me burdened with anticipation and nothing to do.  I tried to send the hint by moving all of my drum equipment right next to the stage, but he didn’t get the hint.  When the guy finally returned to his set, he sat there and took his set apart piece by piece, packing it up.  This goes completely against the “unspoken drummer code”, that you move your as much of your equipment off the stage and worry about it apart later.

I can understand the need to reach out to your fans, but to spend 15 minutes going around the room when you have another band waiting for you!  These guys went around with a swagger like they were playing a 4 hour set, not sharing the stage with another band (and 2 more for that after).  This move was completely classless, a slap in the face to our band.  We started 45 minute after our scheduled start-time, and as one would expect all of the fans left, leaving only our most devout.

Speaking of being disrespectful to other bands, here we are getting the gig for them, and not only did they screw us with the delay – but they didn’t even talk to us prior to the show, stay afterwards, or even offer a mention/plug at the end of their set.

This caused me to reflect on the musicianship, and the honorable way to treat other musicians in a shared-stage setting.  This band taught us a lot of what not to do, reinforcing lessons that were are important to us:

  • Be professional about changing bands, get your gear on and off quickly.  Move as much of your gear off stage as you carefully can, worry about packing it up when you’re off.
    • It’s not unreasonable for the sound-engineer or club owner to penalize you by taking time out of your set if you take too long.
  • Don’t go over on time.  If you are told you have an hour, take an hour.  Going over by 1-2 songs may make the band feel good, but in the end it leaves a sour taste in a lot of mouths.
  • Offer support to the other bands, which them luck and be courteous.   A good way of doing this is sticking around for part of their set.  Bands before you may not have had the choice to see you, but they watched you regardless.  Show them that respect.
  • If you can, offer plugs to both the band before you and after you, especially after you

On a personal note: no drummer should break 5 sticks during a show.  I understand that sticks get broken (and it should happen over time).  If you’re breaking five sticks in one night, then your technique is simply bad.  What it tells me is that he’s either hitting the rim with the neck of the stick, or the bead of the stick is completely missing the head (with the neck striking the head directly).  Ultimately, throwing a broken stick directly into the crowd is a bad idea on any count.

Bye bye Studio 60 – we hardly knew thee

I was going through my RSS feeds when I found this interesting post on Lost Remote. It looks like Studio 60, which has been on life-support for some time, and now it seems that it’s all but canceled. Even now it looks like it’s not even going to live out it’s full first season.

I’m really disappointed to hear this. I was a big West Wing fan, but I didn’t get into the show until many seasons in (through the DVD’s). But early on I fell in love with Aaron Sorkin’s writing. The first four seasons of the West Wing were awesome. The show managed to hold in a bit after Sorkin left, but by the 7th season it was spiraling out of control. When I heard about Studio 60 coming out I was excited to see a Sorkin series “live”, not after-the-fact.

I love Studio 60. It’s definitely got a lot of dialog, but I find the show witty, funny and cleaver. I actually thought they had one of the best depictions of a Christian character in network Hollywood today. I was a little confused and pretty sad to hear that it got low ratings, because all of my friends who watched it also liked it. It may be safe to say that Studio 60 may have been the new best show that nobody watched.

Ultimately I think what killed it was NBC and their promotion of the show. I got pretty annoyed early on when the commercials they ran made Studio 60 look like either a comedy, or a soap opera. It’s gotten progressively worse as the season has gone on, where the only commercial depicts “Who is in love with ….” and “The ending that will have everybody talking…”. Look, the show is simply not sensationalist, and it shouldn’t have been depicted as such. If you want to get shocks and awes, watch Heroes or 24. If you want a prime-time soap opera, watch Desperate Housewives. Don’t make Studio 60 out to be something that it wasn’t.

With stupid sensationalist promos like that, the audience that would have likely been attracted to the show had no incentive to watch it. I was hoping that the grassroots word-of-mouth evangelizing of the show would have been enough to save it, but it looks like NBC has caved. It’s also disappointing because it seems that if the show isn’t an instant success, it’ll get canceled in the same season.

Well bye bye Studio 60, I will definitely miss you.

Gearing up for the gig tonight

The anticipation for tonight’s Greenfoot show at Toad Tavern is winding up. It’s a bit funny that we woke up this morning to frigid weather here. It always seems like the weather does crazy things on days of shows.

I’m pretty anxious about today’s show, probably moreso than the other shows. I think a big part of it comes from the fact taht I have such a packed schedule. I’m winding down my day here at work and am getting ready to head over for class. Afterwards I head over to the gym, grab a quick bite to eat and then go to the start of a meeting. Then I’m going to duck out early (like pretty much make an appearance and then leave) so I can get down to Littleton in time. If all goes well, I should roll in at 9:00pm, which gives me an hour to get all of the gear set up and ready to go.

The other reason I’m so anxious is because we did such a marketing blitz for these shows. We hung flyers with CD’s at all the area colleges, including 15 flyers/CD’s at the Toad Tavern itself. I’m anxious to see if we get any return on our marketing investment. It would be exciting to have a good turnout for tonight.

We learned some pretty good lessons from our flyer distribution day a few weeks back, the most important: that nothing beats a personal invitation. If can look someone in the eye, give them a CD and invite them to the show, the better the likelyhood of them actually coming. We’re going to apply our lessons learned this weekend by spending our promotion time at the student center in the School of Mines (which is close to Adolini’s) for the show on the 15th. I hope that both shows go well.

If you’re in the Denver area and would like to come down and support us, come to the Toad Tavern at 10pm tonight!