art and artists I appreciate

Our good friend Carlos “Los Monster” Lopez passed away recently, suddenly, unexpectedly at 43. Too soon, too young. Los backed me up many times over the last 15 years on kit and conga not to mention made me laugh hundreds of times hanging after the gig. And I’m just one of many musicians in our circle who Los backed up and entertained.

We gathered at my place recently for a memorial Ugi Breakfast and Los Monster Jam. Thomas brought over a great old interview with Los and we all sat around and listened. Los was with us.

los-ugi-bfast The Los Ugi Breakfast Club — with Jonathan Boyce, Victor Bustos, Maile Broccoli-Hickey, Kimberly Bustos, Jason Molin, Doug Snyder, Evan Bozarth, Thomas van der Brook, Callie Lillepad, Gray Parsons, Charles Dugger and Jarle Lillemoen.

los-and-j Los on the left, backing me up on conga at Skinny’s Ballroom

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UPDATE: After reading a bit more about the science behind what Pono proposes – see Why Neil Young’s New Pono Music Player Doesn’t Make Any Sense - I’ve cancelled my pledge to the Kickstarter project. This raises lots of questions about what all those stars in the video were hearing, why they testified, and their motivations for doing so. I’ll be eager to follow the Pono player reviews when it comes out, but I’m backing away from being a first-gen guinea pig.

Neil Young’s mission may still very well be a good one, even if it simply returns us to listening to CD quality songs on our digital devices instead of MP3s. We’ll see.


Neil Young is on a mission to save us from the mp3 and I’m betting he’ll get us kickstarted. His Kickstarter video for Pono (Hawaiian for righteous) Music is the most persuasive I’ve ever seen. Artist after legendary artist gets out of his boat of a car and testifies to their conversion on one listening. It’s like he got them all high on music! They’re all searching for the words to describe the vividness with which they experienced songs they knew but never really heard like this before.

I watched the video and had to hear what they were hearing. I pledged $300 for one of the 1st Pono players and can’t wait to get it in October (projected). I’m investing in this reversal of the lofi trade for convenience, back to hifi richness and sound quality. Like every one of the artists who hears the difference in the video, this makes me hopeful.

This whole project stuck me as a profound idea in many ways:

  • I/we don’t realize what we’re missing or the sound quality we’ve given up
  • I/we have spent the last 17 years listening to mp3s
  • hardly anyone hears  the quality of music that musicians intended, spent to make in the studio
  • everyone born into this age has hardly heard hifi sound
  • everyone who is old enough to remember isn’t just nostalgic, their music actually sounded richer
  • there is a huge opportunity for artists to bypass all the institutions that normalize sound quality compromises for business reasons
  • there is a huge business opportunity to satisfy a market that is being ignored: people who want great sound
  • it recognizes that young people are uniquely qualified to learn from and enjoy this reversal particularly because they have undiminished faculties, undamaged hearing, senses
  • we’re now at a point technologically that we can return to hifi sound and have the convenience of digital
  • hopefully this will usher in a new era of sound quality and new level of appreciation for music

This a great idea. Like a strong wind behind great a new wave of connections to music and musicians. This leap in sound quality, combined with the great leap in artist autonomy that this crowd-funded model represents is… righteous.

When I pledge this afternoon at 6 PM, there were 5K+ backers for $1.2 million (the goal was $800K). It’s now 6 hours later and it’s up to 7K backers and $2.2 million. This is going to be big.

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A friend from DDCE got married recently and I was honored that she asked me to play at the wedding, especially because there were only 5 other people at the wedding, including the bride and groom! Jamie and Glenn got married atop the hill beside the Long Center, overlooking Auditorium Shores and downtown Austin shortly after sunrise. It was gorgeous, intimate and Austin. Here are the wedding pics that included me, shot by Kelley Denby.

Playing at Jamie's and Glenn's Wedding

Playing at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's Wedding
Playing at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's Wedding
Playing at Jamie's and Glenn's WeddingPlaying at Jamie's and Glenn's Wedding

Jamie and Glenn Wedding, a set on Flickr. Photos by © kelley denby photography, kelleyphotography.com.

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Earl made a cool experimental video from footage of my last concert in the creek, over an old unreleased instrumental version of I Can See You. (that features the keys). Love the colors, heart!

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Hank is a long-time friend of the family. My mom has a lot of his art, as do my sister and I. When I was at NYU I got to know him, sometimes sitting for him. Hank is a hero of mine for giving his whole life to his art.

Hank called me this morning, left a message saying to search for him on YouTube, someone had done a video portrait of him. Here it is.

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