The holy grail of tech nuts everywhere – the all-in-one device – got a bit closer this week. RadioIO (pronounced “radio eye oh”) is one of the earliest Internet radio services, and currently sports an eclectic array of niche channels, everything from an all-Grateful Dead station to “Rock,” whose generic moniker might shock boomers unprepared for its mix of Broken Social Scene, Rilo Kiley, Snow Patrol and the English Beat.
That’s cool enough so far. But the big news is IO2Go, the company’s latest offering, which streams Internet radio to certain so-called “smart phones.” All it takes is a web-enabled cell phone, like a Treo or a RAZR, to enjoy great music. It’s in beta, but IO2Go works like a champ on my Treo 650.
For the moment, it’s a free service. Be warned, though – RadioIO’s ad-supported website is stuffed with the sort of cheesy pop-up come-ons you’d happily pay to make disappear, and commercials interrupt the webcasts every 20 minutes or so. For five bucks a month you can buy a pitch-insulating “Sound Pass” – it’s not 100 percent effective, however.
But the music is sublime. In 1982, I worked for KFAT, an FM station in Gilroy, California that played a then-unprecedented hybrid of country and rock. On a given night, my air shift might include George Jones, Woody Guthrie and Elvis Costello, with Utah Phillips’ “Moose Turd Pie” thrown in for comic relief.
Listening to “RadioIO Country” brought back those days, with Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City,” Gretchen Wilson’s cover of the Kris Kristofferson gem “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and “Lubbock It Or Leave It,” a sweaty rave-up from the Dixie Chicks’ latest, all keeping perfect company there.
All of RadioIO’s stations apparently share the essential ingredient for good Internet radio – good lawyers. I assume that’s the case, given the number of big names on their pop playlists. Even the Beatles, though bands like Big Star, Sweet Thursday and Caravan tend to get me more excited.
You don’t need a phone to listen, either, just an Internet connection. But to me, the notion of the cell phone I already use to surf the web, track meetings, grab email and instant message becoming my iPod is bliss defined.
I admit that I’m an extreme example, thoroughly seduced by technology, right down to the Bluetooth bug in my ear. But 15 years ago, everyone told me no one cared about the Internet, and that e-mail was for geeks. Look how wrong they were then.
Onward to music – what’s happening in the next few days?
Thursday: Dave Mallett, Colburn Park – One of Maine’s finest folksingers plays a free show on the Lebanon common. Everyone from Emmylou Harris to the Muppets have covered Mallett’s songs. He does his own work best, though, with a baritone voice that’s equal parts soothing and sad. The well-traveled “Garden Song” is just about an American classic. Sing with me – “inch by inch, row by row, I’m gonna make this garden grow.”
Friday: Spiral Farm Band, Sophie & Zeke’s – After an epiphany at a Bela Fleck concert, soft rock fan Peter Dane-Dickenson became a bluegrass convert. His band channels “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” with purity and reverence, performing around a single microphone and trading leads with aplomb, like a polite Southern family passing the black-eyed peas. This is honest, pure music.
Saturday: Tom Pirozzoli & Gerry Putnam, Flanders Stage – Pirozzoli reminds me of Gordon Lightfoot without the morose overtones. He co-wrote the raucous “Jesus on the Grille” with Willy Porter, about a truck driver’s divine highway vision, so he knows how to have fun. He’s also a talented guitarist, and tonight he performs a free show in Sunapee Harbor with sound engineer Putnam.
Sunday: Dave DiLorenzo, Court House – I finally had a chance to check out this downtown Newport restaurant. It combines the charm of a B&B with the elegance of a multi-starred bistro. The Sunday brunch, with young DiLorenzo’s subtle, capable piano playing as a backdrop, is terrific. For more upscale dining, try the 5-course Italian dinner, complete with wine pairings tonight (Thursday).
Tuesday: Dickey Betts & Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Hampton Beach Casino – The old and new order of blues-rock share the stage. Betts parted ways with the Allman Brothers Band (the second, and apparently final time); his “Ramblin’ Man” was recently named the second greatest Southern rock song of all time by CMT. Shepherd studied at the feet of Stevie Ray Vaughn and carries on his blues tradition.
Wednesday: Tammy Jackson, Sunapee Ben Mere Bandstand – Pure country from a local favorite, and a free show at that. They’ve opened shows for Alan Jackson (no relation), Charlie Daniels and others; their set list includes favorites from those artists. TJB originals tend towards ballads in the Patsy Cline vein – “Like I’m Cryin’ Now” is a particular standout.