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Nov 082010
I, Phone, Theatre Intangible

From left: William Davis, pimpdaddysupreme, Ryan Adams, Tony Youngblood, Mara Bissell, and Brian Zimmerman

Maybe it’s because I cracked my iPhone screen today. Maybe it’s because of that viral video with the band Atomic Tom playing an all-iPhone song on a New York subway. Whatever the reason, tonight’s episode is podcast 40, “I, Phone,” an improv made entirely with iPhones, recorded live at the WRVU studios on April 26th, 2009. That’s right, folks. We did it a year and a half ago.

Suck it, Atomic Tom!

Our iPhone show features six performers playing apps such as Noise.io, RJDJ, Balls, The Zombietron, Bloom, the Thereminator, Mobile Synth, Remix DJ: Speak EZ, Ocarina, Bebot, voicemails, and more.  William Davis from Oh No It’s Howard, his friend Brian Zimmerman, Ryan Adams from Sunshine Brothers and Sisters, pimpdaddysupreme, Mara Bissell (DJ Irony on WRVU’s Nerd Pron and Pocket Ninjas), and myself make one hour of pure iPhone goodness. Check out the cool things the creator of Remix DJ: Speak EZ had to say about the show!

If you like our show, share it with a friend or write us a review in iTunes.

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Mar 282010

On October 18th, 2009, seven of us got together and created a new soundtrack to the 1931 film Dracula, directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Legosi.  This is one of my favorite episodes to date.  The orchestration is extremely lush, and the performers were especially good at knowing when and what to play.

Before the show, we paired a performer with a character in the film and had that performer come up with a character theme.  Ken Soper on keyboard provided the theme for Dracula, for example.  Things really started to get interesting when the characters interacted with each other, and the performers had to find ways to mix the themes together.  Aside from coming up with some themes in advance, the show was completely improvised.

You can listen to this episode in sync with the film (and I’ll tell you how in the podcast intro) or you can just listen without the visuals.  If you can get a copy of the film (and the version we use is the 2004 Universal Legacy collection dvd) I highly recommend you use it.  But if you can’t get the film, don’t let that stop you from listening to the show on it’s own.  The improv still works great by itself.

Dracula Improv features Ken Soper on keys and Theremin; Jamison Sevits on Fender Rhodes; Craig Schenker on saxophone and flute; Charlie Rauh on electric guitar; Cody Bottoms on percussion; Melody Holt on musical saw, autoharp, and Theremin; and myself on a circuit-bent Cool Keys keyboard, musical saw, autoharp, and wind chimes. We had a small audience that also participate by making screams, etc.  They were Mara Bissel, Amanda Tucker, Pimpdaddysupreme, and Deklan.  I did the live mixing and post-production.  Enjoy.

Mar 022010

From left: Wess, pds, Paul, Jimmy, Charlie, & Tim. Taken by Paul.

Here’s an episode that almost never happened.  It was designed as a simple photo-op for an article The Tennessean is writing wrote about local podcasts.  In order to make the deadline, they had to shoot a photograph for the story by the end of the weekend.  The writer Dave Paulson thought our show would make for an engaging picture.  I quickly called in the troops; and we assembled last Saturday in my basement, squeezed tightly together to make for a nice picture and blindfolded because it looked cool and because . . . well . . . we’ve never done that theme before.

I’ve been working on a computer program that reads Twitter messages aurally via an open-source speech synthesizer called Festival.  I’m preparing that program for next Saturday’s Podcamp Nashville.  We’re doing a live improv for the conference where audience members can tweet to the hashtag #pcn10ore and hear those tweets in the mix.  This little last-minute improv was a perfect vehicle to test that program.

It was a complete coincidence that last Saturday happened to be the day when all hell broke loose.  Saturday was the day after the Chilean earthquake; the day of the tsunamis; and, if you searched for the keywords earthquake and tsunami in Twitter like I did, the end of the world as we knew it.  I fed those two keywords into my tweet synthesizing program, and the resulting narration became the backbone of the show.  Some of the tweeters posted on-the-scene updates, while others joked about the impending disasters, and others prayed for the areas affected and called out to loved ones.

The theme was being helpless in the face of tragedy.  The blindfolds seemed fitting, though, I admit, they weren’t practical.  Most of the performers had them off within 10 minutes (exception being Charlie Rauh whom Jimmy had to poke to make him aware the rest of us had already de-blinded).

I’m quite fond of this show.  We were in the right time, the right place, with the right performers and the right technology.  Helpless features John Westberry on drums; pimpdaddysupreme on records, vocals, and effects, Paul Cain on accordian, saw, and water bottle; Charlie Rauh on guitar; Jimmy  Thorn on keyboard and chaos pad; Tim Carey on keyboard and mandolin; and Wess Youngblood on guitar and delay pedal.  I pressed the buttons on the laptop feeding the tweets and did the live mixing.  Portions of the show were edited for pacing.  The show ended before the tsunami reached Hawaii, so I continued recording the tweets for about 20 minutes after the show was over and inserted the most fitting ones into the show.

Special thanks to Jayesh Salvi for writing the initial Python program Talking Twitter Client and to Bryan Kemp for helping me modify it to suit my purposes.  Thanks also to the developers of Festival, to Tennessean writer Dave Paulson and to photographer Jeanne Reasonover.  Thanks to Paul Cain for taking the above-photograph.  A big thank you to all the performers!

Dec 212009

“Watch me as I pinch myself being bitten by invisible bugs of eroticism” — Dave Cloud — Get It On With Dave Cloud

Given the recent press we received from Nashville Cream about the show that got us kicked off WRVU — Get It On With Dave Cloud, I thought it timely to release it as a podcast.  You can find out more about the controversy at this previous post.

Featuring a band comprised of some of Nashville’s most talented players, Get It On With Dave Cloud sounds lush and bristles with detail.  Dispensing with our usual arhythmic soup, the idea here was to create jilted lounge music that conversed with Dave’s dialogue.  The band provided that, and in spades.  I only wish we picked a different mic for Dave to speak into.  WRVU Studio Mic 4 has a tendency to distort and Dave Cloud has a tendency to talk loud.  (I warned Jim Hayes about that mic before.  Am I the only dj that notices these kinds of things?)  Still, the slight distortion in Dave’s voice kind of works in a strange way.

For an hour and eight minutes (I just couldn’t whittle it down to one hour), Dave Cloud flirts with callers, reads from dirty magazines, takes long smoke breaks, and espouses his wisdom.  I’m quite proud of this episode, and it makes a fine sendoff to WRVU.  In a weird way, this episode is responsible for this blog and podcast.  If we hadn’t made Get It On, we still might be on WRVU.  If we were still on WRVU, I probably wouldn’t have invested the time in learning how to podcast.

This episode was an absolute blast to create (although lugging Joe Hudson’s Fender Rhodes into the studio was no easy feat!)  Participants include Charlie Rauh on guitar, Craig Schenker on saxophone, Joe Hudson on Fender Rhodes, Robert Carter aka Bobobobobob on analog synthesizer, Randy Hunt on stand-up bass, Melody Holt on various sounds (plus she’s one of the callers), and the legendary Dave Cloud on voice.  I engineered and did the live mixing.  Dave received calls from show regular pimpdaddysupreme and swarms of naked, nubile women.  Enjoy.

Excerpts from Dave Cloud’s bio: “By day a volunteer book reader for the blind, Cloud undergoes a transformation at night, and for over three decades has entertained patrons of local dive bar Springwater, often with his band The Gospel of Power. (Tony’s note: And also his band Cavalcade of Shit, featuring ~Ore~ players Joe Hudson and Charlie Rauh) Cloud’s unpredictable performances can be uproarious, jaw-droppingly bizarre events, delighting some while frightening others. His music—an amalgam of experimental garage rock and lounge crooning—defies easy categorization, but his delivery makes the experience hard to forget.Cloud has appeared in several films, videos, and television programs, including Harmony Korine’s films Gummo and Trash Humpers.”