Monthly Archives: July 2007

Brazilian Girls opening for Chris Isaak

Brazilian GirlsI had a great weekend and a busy Sunday. I hopped around town to catch wind (no such luck) and great shows (much better luck). The Brazilian Girls opened my afternoon with their fairy Summer Stage performance made of naked front(wo)man dressed in tight dragonfly outfit with wings, moogified dreadlocks, sweaty bouncing fans and guest stage appearance by The Himalayas (a marching band made up of more than a couple dozen roaming players conducted by Electric Masada’s drummer Kenny Willeson and saxophonist Jonathon Haffner).

I’ve seen the Brazilian Girls a few times and although they played largely the same repertoire again the quartet is still keeping fans dancing happily. Their cosmopolitan sound and trend-setting attitude irradiated the sun-bathing audience with a melange of electronic beats, fuzzy bass lines, cozy harmonies, light-hearted and funny lyrics and so on and so forth. Brazilian Girls are one of the very few bands (I can only think of the Young Gods right now) who sing in English, French, German and Spanish. Their international melting-pot flavor would work so well in the European scene, I am surprised their main audience is American (I guess new yorkers are European at heart, or as diversified as it gets in the US anyway)…

Chris IsaakAfter letting the strong 6pm sun turn my white neck into a red neck (no worries, that’s about the extent of my transformation), I took shelter in the shade of the Fillmore at Irving Plaza for a private performance by Chris Isaak. His performance was as glittery and shiny as his suits are and Isaak was amicable and genuinely nice during the show as well as after, when he actually took the time to talk with people briefly. The guy just has that charisma and that charm that so very few people possess and when you couple that with his songwriting and his warm voice he really makes you think you are the presence of a new “king”…

Chris Isaak guitarHe played his hits backed by a great band (the same guys he’s been touring with for 20 years). Three suits, three guitars, a mellow and intimate acoustic moment and the tradition of the nitty gritty lush rock and roll sound that made him the bright and slick star of Las Vegas and beyond (and with that tradition in mind, he had a bunch of random women get on stage and dance). A little over one hour of great music and great fun ended this night in the best of ways.

The concert was a benefit event with a silent auction. The main item being auctioned was a Gibson Epiphone Mr. Isaak drew all over both sides with a sharpie (way beyond the usual autograph). I did bid on the guitar, twice, but I didn’t get it in the end… Bummer!

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iPhone: to buy or not to buy

Apple iPhoneThat seems to today’s biggest Shakespearean dilemma for internet/phone-dependent networkers, gear-sluts and geeks alike (whether I fit in one, two or all three of those groups of people is subject matter for a whole other post)…

I absolutely ADORE the looks and feel of the iPhone. The user interface is just so easy, so great, so fast, so friendly, so slick: in one word so Apple!

The iPhone’s appeal to me consists primarily in knowing that the synchronization with OS X (which is vital to me!) is flawless when it comes to Address Book and iCal. I actually haven’t found out whether iPhone supports the Address Book’s groups and iCal’s categories but, considering it is Apple, I am sure that you can safely assume all the data will be in sync.

Having both Wi-Fi and EDGE internet on the phone is priceless. The good thing is that if you don’t need push email and you are happy with checking your emails every once in a while when you want to, if you live in a city like NY with hotspots or open router’s signals at every corner, you could easily just have a WiFi-enabled phone and not have to worry about paying for a $20/mo unlimited data plan on top of your voice plan.

The iPhone does have all of that but has some major issues, first and foremost, locking you into having to use a provider like AT&T (notoriously bad with voice and slow with data not to mention horrible with customer service) with plans that aren’t flexible and with the HUGE disadvantage of not being able to even stick in another SIM when you really need to (I go to Europe a lot so I have SIM cards for other countries that I would not be able to use ever again if I had an iPhone).

There are several things that the Apple iPhone lacks and that are making me strongly consider buying a different product (or waiting for the next generation iPhone).

Ever since the advent of smartphones (when PDA’s and phones became one) everyone had different expectations and needs from the device of choice. I have been a proud owner of some of the most ground-breaking devices this rapidly evolving market has seen (most notably Sony Ericsson P800 and P900) but recently I found myself using a BlackBerry, which has some nice things to it but which I hate for the most part (the Mac synchronization is crappy and the life-less one-column no-scripting-supported internet is awful – they call that SSR for Small Screen Rendering, I call it SSR for So Shitty Rendering!). Everyone’s bar has been raised and my most important requirements of today are:

1. ability to synchronize at least with Mac OS X’s Address Book and the iCal calendar

2. ability to check IMAP e-mail via Wi-Fi and EDGE/UMTS

3. unlocked (or unlockable) so I can use my European SIM when traveling

4. GSM (wait… are people seriously even still considering different networks?)

5. Wi-Fi (surfing the internet faster AND not have to have a data plan unless I really want to)

6. Bluetooth

7. good battery life (everyone except SonyEricsson seems to have forgotten that all together!)

8. real internet with JavaScripting, Flash and such (as opposed to SSR!)

Believe it or not, even stopping at only two of these eight requirements, there are just a handful of devices that pass the test! I looked into all of them: P990, Nokia N95, HTC Touch, HTC 8525, HTC Dash, HTC Wing, Smasung Blackjack, LG Prada and many more… For the longest time I was looking into getting a P990, since I know that phone is rock solid and I owned its two predecessors, but unfortunately I just recently found out that the latest Symbian OS that it runs, just do not talk to Apple at all! HTC stands out among its competition for having some of the most feature-packed, slick looking and versatile devices… Talented guitarist Robbie Angelucci (who pretty much has my same requirements list) uses a Dash phone and he almost talked me into buying one… I have only one major issue with all of these HTC devices: they run on Windoze!!! I have used Microsucks Windows in the past but I have been on a Mac for years and would NEVER EVER go back (and I dare anyone who has used a Mac for more than 6 months to say they would!). Although issues with sync-ing Mac OS X and Windows Mobile 5 & 6 seem to be addressed and taken care of by, the question still remains: do I really wanna have a reliable Mac and rely on a Windows operating system for my day to day mobile connectivity and productivity? Hell no! So I am still waiting and trying to decide…

At the end of the day, it would seem that when iPhone v2 (or even just a European iPhone v1) I just might have to get one… in the meantime, if I change phone, I’ll let you know!

Gene Martin photography: rock portraits at its best!

Gene MartinGene Martin’s photography possibly represents some of the finest examples of rock star portraits ever. His style is unique and stands out in the myriad of pictures available online.

Gene started out as a guitar player so his passion for music was true, deep an ever-lasting. This also gave him that special connection with musicians which went beyond just the lens. When he turned to photography he knew how to capture the true essence of the subject. He was creative with props and he was a master of lighting technique.

Although in most recent years he started shooting in digital, he was a true believer and supporter of film and he maintained that “go for THE shot” attitude (as opposed to the shoot-a-million-RAW-pictures-and-then-spend-a-week-Photoshopping attitude). I have seen Gene do things that I didn’t even know could be done without a computer… Shots that look like the result of some skilled Photoshop wizard, Gene achieved without the use of any software, with techniques and experimentation that go beyond my bare understanding of photography (for some examples check out the shots of Joe Chambers, Pat Metheny, McCoy Tyner, Ray Mantilla, Al Di Meola etc etc). Gene Martin was a true artist of photography.

I have been interested in photography for a long time. I picked it up as a hobby many years ago and then dropped it when the film development made it unfeasible to pursue such a costly hobby. Some years ago I got back into it again and have been enjoying it and doing more of it. With my girlfriend being in the photography business and having had a few of my own shots published in magazines and online, I even flirted with the idea of pursuing photography more seriously.

Gene had been around the recording studio several times. I first met him when he was shooting some of the Les Paul sessions but I distinctively remember him being in our studio at least two more times to shoot some major jazz artists I was recording. It is because of how inspired by his work, attitude and knowledge I was, that on one of those sessions I asked him if I could assist him on one of his next shoots, just so I could pick up some tricks of the trade and get better at my photography hobby. I offered to do it for free of course, I just wanted to learn a little bit from a professional like him. He said he’d keep it in mind and I for sure thought that I’d never hear from him again.

Not only did I hear from him one or two weeks later but he actually even paid me for the assisting job AND split the tip he got from his client 50/50 with me, which was completely unexpected and unheard of! I was really impressed by his character, his personality, his spirits and of course his work.

The ride to the shoot was about an hour so we had the opportunity to get to know each other a little better. We talked shop (cameras, lenses etc) but we also went into our backgrounds and of course we extensively talked about music. He told me about his guitars, his passion for the instrument, his past as a professional musician for 15 years and the many turmoils of his life. He also told me about how much Charles Carlini and Bob Cutarella had done to revive his career. He felt indebted to them and told me that some of his greatest shots had been a result of the acquaintance with Charles and Bob. Gene was secure and confident but he was also modest and gave credit were credit was due. Gene Martin was a fascinating person and a true gentleman.

When I got back from Europe this last December, I was terribly saddened by the news that Gene had passed away. Charles Carlini broke the news to me during the Ennio Morricone sessions and I couldn’t believe that a person as young, talented and kind as Gene was no longer with us. The world suffered a terrible loss! The people that knew him personally were completely surprised and devastated by the news. However it also makes me sad to think that not enough of his peers realized what a great photographer passed away. Gene’s career was definitely going through a climb. His popularity had been peeking and his photography was finally gaining the recognition and Awards that it deserved.

Luckily our common friend Charles Carlini has put together a tribute site that will make the spirit and the photography of Gene Martin live on forever:

Check out the website to see some of the biggest rock, pop, blues and jazz stars of our times through the eyes and the lens of Gene Martin.

More links about Gene for you to check out:

Rest In Peace…