Monday, March 12, 2012

Up to scratch

Our producer came into town on his way to El Paso, and we had lunch with him this afternoon. The conversation eventually drifted to our second album, which we're going to make happen as soon as we get certain logistics worked out. Drew instructed us to record every song he hasn't heard yet. Then, as he did for our first album, he would provide feedback on which ones we should consider using.

Just get everything down as quickly as we can, he said, without worrying about quality.

I told him that I wanted to take a little more care than that. Every now and again we post our live-from-Ron's-living room recordings on the blog, and even though we don't need them to be perfect, they should at least be free of egregious errors.

Said Drew: "That's a terrible idea."

Cinder Bridge is a brand, he explained. The only songs we should ever make available to the public are the ones that are good enough to go on one of our CDs. If we post a scratch recording—what musicians call a low-quality live track that gives listeners a basic idea of the lyrics and melody—we're allowing people to associate mediocrity with our brand.

I see his point. And I hate to debate him on this or anything else related to the music industry. He's been in the biz a very long time. He's one of the best.

And yet, a blog isn't supposed to spend all its time trumpeting the perfection of a brand. Nobody likes the blogs that read like press releases. A little vulnerability helps you connect with your audience better than a thinly veiled advertisement, and it's a lot more interesting.

Further, I don't generally just put up a scratch recording and say, "Here's a song, please listen." The song comes with a story, or it ties in thematically with whatever topic I'm writing on. At the very least, it's a follow-up to some post where I talked about writing the song. "Hey, remember how I struggled to find a rhyme for that one line? Here's how it all turned out."

What do you think? Should bands post their scratch recordings, or make their audience wait for the stuff that's ready for prime time?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Serendipitous musicians

It was almost 10 p.m. and the sushi restaurant was closing. Most of my friends had already decided to call it a night, but the small handful of us remaining decided to go somewhere else. This being Tucson, our late-night options were limited. One friend suggested Village Inn. I was tired and didn't want to drive that far. We settled on an upscale place called Kingfisher.

Maybe 15 minutes after we were seated, the band returned from a break. I didn't know who they were, but they were good. Really good. They started with a song called (I think) "Haunted," which grabbed everyone at the table. We paid much closer attention to them than people usually do for restaurant music. We weren't the only ones.

"Who's the band?" I asked the guy who came to fill our waters. He didn't know, but our waiter did: Amy Langley and Kevin Pakulis.

Wow. Really? Kevin Pakulis is a big deal in the Tucson folk scene. I'd seen him before. I hadn't heard Amy, but clearly I should have. Her voice blended so well with his.

As luck would have it, they were taking another break when we were ready to leave, and we introduced ourselves. Turns out Kevin and Amy had heard me before. They were at a songwriter open mic at Cafe Tremolo, and they really liked my sound.

Small world, Tucson is.

I'm happy we went elsewhere for dessert. I'm happy we didn't settle on Village Inn. It's amazing who and what you'll encounter when you alter your routine just a little.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Putting the mass in mass hysteria

If you've been following medical news over the past few months, you may have heard about some goings on in a little town called Le Roy. Over 20 high school girls from Le Roy High School have developed Tourette-like tics. The symptoms are severe enough that afflicted students have dropped out of school.

After the New York State Health Department failed to identify any known toxins or infections, a neurologist from the area gave his verdict. From the New York Times: was conversion disorder, he said, which meant the girls were subconsciously converting stress into physical symptoms. And because so many students were afflicted with similar symptoms, it was also considered to be mass psychogenic illness, which is another way of saying mass hysteria.
More recently, neurologist Rosario Trifiletti saw some of the patients and put forth a different theory:
... the girls were suffering from an illness similar to Pandas (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus), a disease in which the immune system alters the neurochemistry of young people suffering from strep infection ... [A] week later, after examining the girls, Trifiletti revealed on “Dr. Drew” that all nine of the girls he tested showed evidence of either strep exposure or exposure to the organism associated with pneumonia.
Dr. Trifiletti's patients have shown dramatic signs of improvement on antibiotics. That proves their illness is physical instead of psychological, right? Not according to skeptics of the PANDAS diagnosis; they say the antibiotics are only working as a placebo.

So who's right?

A few TV clips provide clues. Back in January, before Dr. Trifiletti arrived on the scene, the Today Show ran a couple of segments about Le Roy, interviewing some of the afflicted girls and their parents. There was a lot of footage showing the tics themselves, giving viewers a better idea of what it would be like to live with them.

Segments are here. The first tics begin at 0:22.

* * *

Did you watch?

So did a whole lot of other people. If what's happened to these girls is purely psychological, having nothing to do with area-specific toxins or infections, why hasn't the "mass hysteria" spread across the whole country?

Are there no stressed-out, impressionable teenage girls outside of Le Roy?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cinder Bridge at the Beau Brummel Club

Dr. Meatpie has broken up.

I'm unsure of the details. They were due to break up in May because the bassist was leaving town, but something accelerated the process.

At any rate, they won't be playing the Beau Brummel Club this coming Sunday as scheduled. Cinder Bridge will be taking their place.

If you can't make it to the club because of some lame excuse like living in another state, no worries. We'll be webcast.

Date & time: Sunday, March 11, 5 p.m.
Place (physical): The Beau Brummel Club, 1148 N. Main St., Tucson, AZ
Place (virtual):
Cover: Free!

We play for about an hour, and then get interviewed by Duke Standberry and Cat Vigil. Duke and Cat are most excellent hosts. We know this because we were on The Duke and Cat Show this past Friday. Video from that gig will be up very soon.

Come see us. It'll be cool.