July 26, 2010
Holy smokes – can you believe it? The 2010 Wolfe Island Music Festival is less than two weeks away. August 6th & 7th will see a ton of great bands coming to the lovely town of Marysville on Wolfe Island (just a short ferry ride away from Kingston) and if you don’t have your tickets yet you better get on it.
Despite my good intentions, I have totally neglected to say anything about it so far. I know, I’ve kinda dropped the ball. But you already know about the festival, right? It is one of the best in the country with amazing music and great, laidback vibe. The food is good, the beer is good (Beau’s is a sponsor which is fantastic and the entire balldiamond area is licensed so no beer tent ghetto), and there are always cool vendors.
There are no shortage of great acts on the bill this year. I am really looking forward to seeing Think About Life and Shad as well as Memoryhouse and Flotilla, none of whom I have seen before. Weakerthans, Cuff the Duke, and Diamond Rings I have seen before multiple times and I know they are going to bring it. It should be great.
In case you hadn’t heard the line up or need a reminder here it is with links so you can check out the bands.
SATURDAY, AUG 7
And here’s a little something from last year’s WIMF featuring one of this year’s mainstage acts – Diamond Rings. John O joined PS I Love you to open for Woodhands at the General Wolfe. I was late to the show as I was at the Town Hall show, but I was able to hear them play the two songs from their (now sold out) split 7″. There is some crowd chatter but I think the songs are too rad not to share.
See you at the Festival.
July 16, 2010
Something a little different here today. The kind marketing folks working for Sanyo have provided me with a Sanyo Xacti ICR XPS01M Digital Sound Recorder (more info here & here) to test out and tell you all what I think about it. Cutting to the chase, I must say I am very impressed with the tiny thing.
And I do mean tiny. According to them, and I have no reason to doubt it, the Xacti is the smallest and lightest digital recorder on the market. Despite being only ca. 9 by 4 by 1 cm, it seems quite substantial and rugged. When I first opened the package I worried that it would be on the flimsy side but have I have been putting it through the paces over the past couple of weeks and it seems to be holding up quite well.
It seems that the recorder is being marketed towards musicians and additionally aimed at students (to record lectures) but it also works for field recordings (ie, me). I think it would also be handy for journalists, anyone taking minutes and interviewers, although if the audio is going to be preserved (I am thinking of oral historians and tapers) an external mic should be used to ensure the best quality of sound. Which isn’t saying the internal mics aren’t good – in my less than rigorous testing of them they do admirably well – but a better mic will lead to better sound. [EDIT TO ADD: I tried our recording a set of live music without an external mic and I must say I am very pleased with the quality of the recording using the built in mics. Colour me impressed. ]
With the 2GB microSD card which is included with the unit you have 3 hrs of recording at the best quality (44.1kHz linear PCM). It is expandable to 8GB and cards are widely available for about $30. The battery life seems very good – 14-23 hrs of PCM recording (longer for other formats) depending on the backlight settings. Haven’t confirmed this but even if it is close that is very impressive. As there is no external power (ie can’t plug it in or attach an external battery as I can with my MD recorder), this long battery life is a very good thing. I am not terribly fond of having to charge through USB but that is becoming standard so it is to be expected.
The unit is optimized as a recorder and I am very pleased with how the Sanyo Xacti performed when I took it out for test in the field.
One of the things I greatly appreciate about this recording unit is that there is no proprietary formats: the recording is done in .wav or .mp3 (from 64-320kbps). There are automatic settings tied to a number of ‘scene selection’ settings which are optimized for lectures/meetings, interviews, music, or direct connection from another device.
Another thing I am like very much is the tiny but clear screen. It is bright and despite the small size of the screen the time elapsed, time remaining, and various settings are all clearly visible (particularly useful in the dark). And it remembers your last used settings so it is quick to restart recordings. The Record and Stop buttons are well placed and the other sensors took a little while to get used to (my large-ish fingers initially would stray onto the wrong section) but I think I’ve now have a handle on it. You can easily adjust the input settings on the fly to avoid peaking which is essential for me.
Finally, a feature I appreciate having is a ‘recycle bin’ so you can get back deleted files if you have second thoughts. I am sure there are additional features whose usefulness will become apparent as I become more familiar with the device.
As a music player it works well – you just drag&drop .mp3 files into the folder. While it works just fine, it is not the primary function and I don’t see myself using it as my everyday music player. What is a nice touch, though, is the FM tuner (which you can easily record from, naturally) as I love listening to the radio. When playing back recorded audio, though, there are some neat features such as being able to play back at anywhere from 1/2 to 2x the speed (without affecting the pitch).
The Sanyo Xacti Sound Recorder has a msrp of $149 (US, $50 more will get you a docking station) and I think it is well worth the price. It was released in Japan at the beginning of the year and is now coming on the market in the States. It is being sold at Guitar Center (they sell in CDN$ and appear to ship to Canada) but is not online yet. It will be available at other retailers as well. Hopefully it will get a wider distribution across the States and north of the 49. If you want an affordable yet high-quality recorder you should definitely attempt to find this one.
Now, as a music blog, I feel I should post something I’ve taped with my fancy new little recorder. Here are two great summer songs from the fantastic Jason Collett show on Wolfe Island last Sunday, recorded with the Xacti recorder (with my Sony ECM-17 mic).
July 10, 2010
Jason Collett is no stranger to Kingston audiences. At least once a year he brings his laid back songs to town. Time and time again he puts on a great show and, with his backing band Zeus who are now a great band in their own right, they professionally tear through the setlist but they never rushed or if they are forcing it. Collett makes it looks easy: his finely crafted lyrics and hook-filled tunes are conveyed with a nonchalance that is extremely inviting. There are no rockstar pretenses or theatricality- just song after song where not a word or a note are out of place. There is a familiarity in his narratives, and even when the lyrics are on the abstract side, you cannot help but nod along in full agreement. He writes songs that are perfect for lazy summer evenings, a drink in hand, friends at your side, and a contented smile on your face.
You really couldn’t ask for a better setting to see Jason Collett and Zeus play than on Wolfe Island. You may have seen him a few years ago playing the Wolfe Island Music Fest (go here if you missed it or want to revisit it) and they are back in Marysville tomorrow, July 11th, playing The General Wolfe Hotel. Tickets are still available (buy them until midnight tonight at ticketscene). It is an early show – starts at 8:30 – so grab your tickets, hop on the the 7 or 8pm ferry and have enjoy yourself on your summer Sunday evening.
The last time I saw Collett and Zeus was in February of 2009. I seem to remember that he came out and played an acoustic set of new songs before Zeus came out to play a set, and then Collett joined them for the last set. I can’t find my recording of the acoustic set (am I thinking of a different show?) but I do have the main set for you. At that time he was just in the process of finishing Rat A Tat Tat and he treated us to a bunch of new songs as well as some of his classics. Enjoy & I’ll see you at the General Wolfe on Sunday. Other upcoming dates include (for full details see the A&C site):
July 11th, 2010 Kingston (Marysville, Wolfe Is.) – General Wolfe Hotel
July 12th, 2010 Ottawa – Ottawa Bluesfest
July 16th, 2010 London,ON – Aeolian Hall
July 17th, 2010 London,ON – Home County Folk Festival
July 24th, 2010 Guelph – Hillside Festival
Jason Collett, Grad Club, Kingston, 21 February 2009
1. Tinsel And Sawdust
2. Roll on Oblivion
3. We All Lose One Another
4. rhymes with ornery (talk)
5. Sorry Lori
6. architectural details (talk)
7. Not Over You
8. Love Is a Chain
9. Charlyn, Angel of Kensington
10. Out of Time
11. Henry’s Song
12. Blue Sky
13. Brownie Hawkeye
14. Love Song to Canada
15. streaming (talk)
16. What Goes Gone
17. encore break/intro to HangoverDays
18. Hangover Days/Get Back
19. I’ll Bring The Sun