Since my computer’s hard drive started filling up with MP3s, music has been about convenience, not fidelity. Oh, I’d occasionally dig out old vinyl records and wallow nostalgically in the warmth of analog sound, and rant to the annoyance of anyone born after 1980.
Most of the time, though, the number of songs that fit on the head of a pin mattered more to me than audiophile sound pristine enough to hear a pin drop.
MP3s are the musical equivalent of instant coffee – all the caffeine and half the flavor. Most CDs aren’t much better. But you live with tradeoffs when all your music fits in a shirt pocket. When it’s possible to hear “Brass in Pocket” while jogging, shopping or listening at 35,000 feet, some tinniness is tolerable.
However, to appreciate a lot of the great music that’s recently remastered and released in surround sound, you need to be on the couch.
A year or two ago, I picked up “Tommy” in DVD-Audio, curious about how the Who rock opera sounded through six speakers. Pretty awesome, it turns out. Then the Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds” got the Dolby 5:1 treatment. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” was even nicer.
“Genesis 1970-1975” took what I consider to be that band’s best work and buffed it like a diamond. I listened to the opening piano runs of “Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” circulate through the room and began dreaming of system upgrades.
For the first time in a long time, that meant a receiver with HDMI inputs, not a new CPU, a bigger hard drive or more memory.
I long resisted Blu-ray, figuring it was just a trick to make me re-buy my DVD collection. Then the Hannah Montana movie came out with a bunch of Blu-ray only extras, a few days before my teenaged daughter’s birthday.
Oh, the sacrifices we make for our children.
Confession: I’d also read about the upcoming Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers live box set – 68 tracks in Blu-ray audio format, sounding 256 times better than a CD. Bob Lefsetz cried when he heard it.
So in between “Hoedown Throwdown” I bought and checked out Diana Krall and David Gilmour on Blu-ray. It was sonically brilliant. Better than that, it was music without multitasking – something I’d nearly forgotten.
There are some things you can’t do with an iPod. I may never leave the living room.
On to the rest of the week:
Thursday, Oct. 8: Almost Cool, Brown’s Tavern – Bill Temple and cohort Ed Goodwin have a collective 50 years of experience playing music, with the Gully Boys, Cool Waters and Thunder Jug. They’ve shared the stage with everyone from the Neville Brothers to Buddy Miles. Almost Cool is a more relaxed acoustic affair, with songs like “Bombing The Back Roads” and “Child Of Privilege.” Check them out on yellowhousemedia.com.
Friday, Oct. 9: Mari Rosa, Sunapee Community Coffeehouse – Fans of Norah Jones, will like this exotic singer. She was born in Boston, but acts and sounds like she’s from Buenos Aires. I loved her languid bossa nova take of the classic “Besame Mucho.” She’s an accomplished songwriter (in English, Spanish and Portuguese, no less) who won a Billboard award in 2005. “Honeyspot,” the title track from her most recent CD, is pure seduction..
Saturday, Oct. 10: Conniption Fits, Shenanigans – Their recent CD, “A Heaping Helping of Perspective,” is a delicious power-pop blend of swagger and finesse. Guitarist Stevens Blanchard’s metal kid past (with Motorplant) bleeds through, but the headbanging is tempered with four-part harmonies and the sort of musical discipline no power trio can survive without.
Sunday, Oct. 11: Layah Jane, Moonlight Café – It’s a great week for sultry female vocalists (see Mari Rosa above), with this Canadian import stopping in to Springfield’s Hartness House for a weekend-ending set of soul-infused folk – or is it folk-infused soul? Whatever, it’s called, Layah Jane’s lilting voice warbles like Phoebe Snow, with a Rickie Lee Jones whisky chaser. If you see one show this week, this should be it.
Monday, Oct. 12: Marko the Magician, Canoe Club – This talented prestidigitator has been wowing Hanover diners for years with a very difficult kind of magic. Marko performs tricks tableside, literally in your hands, and it’s impossible to tell how he does it, even though he has an excellent web site that provides all sorts of opportunities for you to guess. It’s up to you to make dinner disappear, however.
Wednesday, Oct. 14: Sejong with Ori Shaham, Hopkins Center – Sejong, a conductor-less 12-member string ensemble, is joined by the well-regarded piano soloist Shaham to perform Mendelssohn’s Octet, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 12 in A Major, and Four Scenes, a work written for the ensemble by 18-year-old American composer Jay Greenberg.