Local Rhythms – God’s own iPod

Until recently, if someone said “squeezebox” I’d think of an accordion, thanks the Who song of the same name.

Now I know it’s the greatest tool a music fan can own.

The Logitech Squeezebox is a Wi-Fi enabled device that connects to a world of entertainment. I recently purchased the Squeezebox Duet, a shiny box that connects to my stereo system, and RF remote control with a 2×3 inch screen that acts like God’s own iPod.

With it, I can call up online radio stations, net streaming terrestrial radio, satellite radio, and musical subscription services like Rhapsody.

A year ago, I raved about how everyone would eventually be reading electronic books on devices like the Kindle.  With the hot competition between the Kindle, Apple iPad, and e-readers from Sony, Barnes & Noble and others, I’d say my prediction came true.

Think of that when I tell you this: you must buy a Squeezebox.

Right now I’m listening to political discussion on Sirius POTUS.  Earlier, the reissue of the Stones’ Exile on Main Street, complete with 10 unreleased tracks, played while I kicked myself for buying it the day before.

You see, Rhapsody has almost all the records I care about, and the list of back catalog stuff grows larger each day.

The remote control screen is so easy to navigate. If I like an album, I can add it to my library and call it up later.  This works anywhere – pick a record at Rhapsody’s web site, add it, and pick up the Squeezebox.  Presto! It’s there.

Get to the end of the disk with a whetted appetite, and from the remote you can choose more by the artist, or play a radio station with selections fans of a particular band might like.

For example, play Phish Radio, and you’ll hear selections from Guster, Wilco and moe.

How awesome is that?

Well, if you feel the need to share your joy, push a couple of buttons and post it to Facebook.

The Squeezebox Duo sells for $300-$400 depending on where you buy it (Amazon has a pretty good deal).

Of course, services like Sirius and Rhapsody are additional, but the monthly fees for each is less than the cost of a CD.

Weirdly, I’m listening to more terrestrial radio – when I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, my favorite station was KFOG.  With Squeezebox, it still is.

I also don’t have to struggle to tune into alt rock WEQX.  Even a local station like WCNL is delivered crystal clear on my Squeezebox.

On to the rest of the week:

Thursday, May 20: Bluegrass Jam, 5 Olde Nugget Alley – Adam Buchwald leads a group of musicians, many from the Vermont Instruments School of Lutherie, where he teaches.  This is a new venue to me, but a quick check indicates that the basement bar has been doing this for a while.  Definitely worth checking out.

Friday, May 21: Barnaby’s Bluegrass Blowout – Day one of a fantastic musical weekend.  Where do I begin?  Rockspring from Manchester is amazing and Jatoba is a fantastic band. Hot Day at the Zoo close out Friday and Saturday nights, and local girl Jandee Lee Porter provides the finale on Sunday. Go to www.barnabysbackroadjamboree.com for more.

Saturday, May 22: Andrew Wheeler Benefit, Claremont Moose – Revampt, Roadhouse and Little Memphis perform to celebrate the life of an 11-year old Claremont boy who was killed in a farm related accident last month. From a press release:  “The past weeks have been very difficult and incredibly expensive for the Wheelers. And while many of the medical and burial expenses have been satisfied there is still the issue of a headstone for Andy, and the cost of day-to-day life for a family wrought with grief.”

Sunday, May 23: Pete Merrigan, Digby’s – OK, now I know it’s officially summer, as permanent resident Pete is back in the Sunapee traffic circle playing good time songs to contented fans munching nachos and drinking cold beer and margaritas. There’s a new stage and an expanded 1600 square foot deck, as well as a new chef.  This is the 10th anniversary of the weekly event, which runs from 4-7 p.m.

Tuesday, May 18: Irish Sessions, Salt hill Lebanon – The weekly sessions continue in Lebanon, a mainstay, with a changing cast of musicians sharing a circle in the center of the room, playing whatever feels natural. It’s a perfect after work destination, with an early (6:30) start. Chris Stevens, Roger Burridge and Dave Loney are regulars, with interesting guests often stopping by.

Wednesday, May 19: Does Hip-Hop Hate Women? A forum/discussion, Dartmouth College  – This sounds interesting.  A panel discussion featuring Duke Professor Mark Anthony Neal; award-winning author Joan Morgan; Detroit rapper and activist Invincible; rapper Blitz the Ambassador; and moderated By Bakari Kitwana, journalist, activist and political analyst world music. Held at Filene Auditorium, contact Cristen Brooks, 603-646-2722 for more.