Tag Archives: general

Some Pictures

Two pictures were sent along to me that I wanted to share. The first, taken by Karen Royce, is from last Friday’s show with Skip Healy. Skip is on the left, Roger in the middle and I on the right looking very relaxed. Check out all the old drums behind us. They were rattling all night long.

Skip and Friends

The second is an aerial shot of the amphitheater that I will be performing in later this summer with the Ancient Mariners.

Augusta Raurica

From the photo it appears that there is no fence or gate or anything preventing the local yokels from wandering down to the Roman playground and knockn’ back a few Warteck’s. Only in Europe.

A Big Thanks…

Luke Stark
I have a long overdue ‘Thank You’ to send out. I’m going to cover may ass by telling you that I was waiting for the right time…which is now.

You see, about a year ago I was sitting in my office when my boss came a knockn’ and asked me if I could take a guy to lunch who had been interviewing at The MathWorks for most of the day. She said, ‘you don’t actually have to interview him, just keep him busy for an hour.’ Great. Do you know what a challenge it can be to take a complete stranger to lunch, be on your most professional behavior, not talk about the reason he is there to begin with, be interesting so the guy doesn’t think our company hires a bunch of bozos and not spill something? Since I like both my boss and my job I agreed to humor the guy for an hour.

The guy’s name was Luke Stark. Ten minutes into lunch we both realized that we had lots in common and before long we were yammering on about traditional music, electronic music, recording and audio on the web. I told him that I had started a recording a bunch years back but have been fairly inactive as of late, parked at a musical rest stop you might say. In any case, we exchanged contact info in case the job thing didn’t work out. Fortunately for me it did. It was the best non-interview I ever conducted.

Once at The MathWorks Luke began nudging me.
Luke: When are you going to get back to recording some of that fife music?
Me: Geez, I’d love to but I really don’t have any equipment, time, motivation…
Luke: Don’t be lame, I’ll bring in my rig and we can try it out.

Thus, he dragged me back onto the musical highway. We tried out some of his equipment, which was like dangling a hooked worm before a catfish. He then loaned me some equipment. Mmm, tasty worm. And then, he forced my to buy my own equipment, which I never would have done were it not for the barbed hook in my lip. Now I spend hours nestled away in my basement recording the Celtic equivalent of Time Out, which my wife is really thrilled about because she knows it will be just the biggest hit and once the royalties start rolling in we’ll be able to take that trek in Nepal that we’ve always dreamed of. Then, of course, I had to start a damn blog, sucking every last morsel of energy I have, so that I can share my progress.

So, Luke, in all sincerity, thanks. I’m sure I wouldn’t be doing this today if it weren’t for you.

Now, if anyone is interested finding out more about this Luke fellow and his cool music you can do so at his fresh new blog called Mighty Bee of Ynturest. I expect great things so pay him a visit.

RSS for Comments, WP Plugins and other Changes…

After some discussion I have added RSS feeds for comments.
Incidentally, if you don’t know what RSS is there are lots of good articles to get you started.

Also, I got rid of the music rating on the comment page. Everyone has been too kind and simply gave me fives. Unfortunately this was not helping with my goal of highlighting tunes that are most popular. So, in its replacement I am trying a different approach. I installed a plugin called Popularity-Contest that calculates popularity based on traffic. The most popular posts will show up on the right side of the page under ‘most popular post’. I still need to figure out how to flag most popular tunes.

So, while I’m at it, here is a list of the WordPress plugins that I use on this site:

  1. Popularity-Contest
  2. Akismet – Spam prevention
  3. Contact Form ][ – So you can contact me.
  4. Get Recent Comments – Used to display most recent comments – duh.
  5. Permalink Redirect – Permalink Redirect ensures that pages and entries are always accessed via the permalink. Otherwise, a 301 redirect will be issued
  6. podPress – Makes podcasting simple by automatically adding the necessary podpress elements to my RSS feed.
  7. Ultimate Tag Warrior – I use this to tag my posts and pages as I create them.
  8. Sociable – Makes it easy to link into social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us and technorati bookmarking

Where is your dot?

Google, what a wonderful thing. They’ve created all sorts of cool tools including one called Google Analytics. If you are the admin of a website you can sign up for Google Analytics and they will provide you with interesting information about the traffic to your site. For example, below is a map of the world personalized for me by Google. All the orange dots on the map represent the locations from which people, including you, are visiting my site. Cool!
Google Map

Now, before you freak out, let me assuage your fears. Google is not giving me your social security number, bank statements or the keys to your car. But what they do give me is a sense of who is visiting and what you find interesting. This information helps me shape the content I provide. For example, here is a view of the top content on my site.


From this I can see that, other than the home page, people are visiting discography most, which is good for me to know since I have not really spent much time on that part of the site. Maybe I should. Other interesting bits of data…people spend only eighteen seconds on the music page but they never leave the site from that page, which implies that they are clicking on a link to music. I’m happy about that.

Some other things I’ve noticed…it took about a month before someone from Ireland finally noticed that I have a site about Irish music. I guess I have to work on my marketing strategy. Also, I had a dot suddenly appear in the Pacific Ocean one day. I though, ‘hey, turtles from the Galapagos are check’n me out!’. On further inspection it appears to be surfers from Hawaii. Surfers love slip jigs.

So, tell me about your dot! Do you play traditional music? Fife & Drum? Just passing by? Leave a comment and let me know!

Lastly, is anyone willing to fess up to which dot is sending me all the spam about Viagra?

Workspace Photo Essay

It appears that my friend Ned blogged about artist’s workspaces just as I was posting pictures of my studio the other day. So, after reading his post I decided to snap a few pictures and give you a closer look at my workspace.

Let me start by saying that I have many workspaces. For example, I have a workspace where I do most of my music writing. For some reason it just seems to be the car. I’m not sure if it is because it is the only time in the day that I am sure I won’t be interrupted or if it is the ever changing scenery. What ever it is, that is where my best ideas come from. I pull over a lot to write down ideas.

If I am going to write harmony, I work in my home study at night when all are asleep. I love this room because the colors make me feel calm, which is helpful when thinking about voice leading.


When I am done recording I mix in the dark. I don’t want to be distracted with anything visual at this point. I don’t have a picture of this workspace because, well, it would just be dark.

The following pictures are of my recording workspace and it is really the most interesting one.
This workspace is not ideal but it is as far away as I can get from everyone else in my house so as to not disturb them. It’s chaotic looking. I like that. It is the last vestige of chaotic space that I am allowed to have. Chaos is good for creativity.

I have lots of things in my crazy workspace that are actually aesthetically pleasing to me. Here is a painting back from my Museum School days, circa 1988. It is a picture of the kitchen in my Brookline apartment. It was depressingly stark, with an orange vinyl upholstered chair. The painting reminds me of a time when I was very much on my own and really didn’t own anything, not even that ugly chair. The fish bowl, and the fish sitting next to the bowl, did not really exist. I think I thought it would be mysterious to have the fish out of the bowl. How did he get there? I always imagined foul play. Also, I like the water pipe in front of it. Generally speaking, there is something I like about strong vertical and horizontal lines.


Here is another painting, from twelve years later, that I used for the cover of one of my books. Notice the vertical lines?


I also like old things. Sometimes people call them antiques. More vertical and horizontal lines. Isn’t that cool?


I also have a few pictures. Here is a picture myself along with some of the Ancient Mariners around 1994. Those guys in the picture are some of the very best fifers in the world. They are helping me perform Mandy Lynne and the Maiden Voyage, which was a fife trio that I wrote (and still need to post). Yeah, I know, there are more than three guys. Some of the voices were doubled up. I am the one standing behind the guy with the long hair…who happens to be John Ciaglia. He writes beautiful arrangements. Check out the cool stripes we have on.


Here I am on the left at about 19 with my buds. More cool stripes. That guy standing next to me was once a bounty hunter. That guy on the far right was in a Pepsi commercial. The guy with the Flock of Seagulls hair cut now owns a lovely sail boat called Indigo.


Here I am with my beautiful wife. Actually, we were only dating when this picture was taken…in 1988. No stripes in this one unless you count the clapboards behind us. I almost died water skiing the day this picture was taken.


I have a variety of other things in my workspace. Here is a fish lantern. I like fish, sort of like I like stripes. I don’t have a picture of it here but I once did an etching of fish with stripes.


I also like Phish. Here is a ticket to one of their very last shows I attended that is hanging, vertically, under my fish.

Speaking of Phish, I’m kind of a hippie at heart, even though I don’t look like one. I have a good friend named Andrew, you might call him a hippie. He once owned a VW Bus. I like old VW Buses. Splitties. He had the coolest bus. It was painted like an American flag…lots of stripes. AAA used a picture of his bus in an add once. Here is a picture of Filmore from Cars. I think I appropriated it from my kid’s happy meal one afternoon. It reminds me of Andrew and his bus. Andrew once lived in Alabama. While driving home to visit his parents in Connecticut he would usually get pulled over. Not because he was speeding, he couldn’t drive faster than fifty five, but because he drove a bus painted like an American flag and I suppose they thought the vehicle might have been constructed entirely out of grass. One time the officers had him empty his whole bus on the side of the highway. When their search turned up nothing they left him there with all his belongings strewn about the roadside. Sometimes it is a hassle being different. Another funny thing about driving around in a bus painted like an American flag is that other people are all too willing to roll down their window on the highway and show you their bong.


I am also a software guy. Here is the first piece of software documentation I ever wrote. I was in seventh grade and the software was written for the Apple IIe. It just kills me to read this. Ironically, I was failing math in seventh grade and as a result, was ultimately banned from the computer lab, which was my only access to a computer. The computer lab was run by the director of the math department who, incidentally had me hack a protected copy of VisiCalc for him. So, he promoted piracy and then denied me access to the one thing I really loved in seventh grade. Now, that is educators shaping the minds of the youth for ya. I continued to fail at math throughout high school, which kept me out of the computer lab and, consequently, I didn’t use a computer again until my junior year in college. For the final twist of fate, I now work at a company called The MathWorks as a software analyst for our web site. Regretfully, I am still not very good at math. Fortunately for myself and The MathWorks, math is not the skill they are asking me to use. They have lots of other brilliant people for that job.


Check out the stripes on this dude. This came from my Grandfather Peterman. He was a good man. He had it hung up in his basement. It has sentimental value to me. Plus, this guy can balance beer on his arm! I’m envious.


Here is my Buderus Boiler. Why am I showing this to you? Because it is an integral part of my studio and has proven to be a royal pain in my … as you can see, diagonal stripes. I hate diagonal stripes. When I record on cold nights it generally turns on five seconds before I have completed the most perfect track ever. I got into the bad habit of turning my Buderus off. Not only was my family unhappy about seeing their breath indoors but a week later the damn thing stopped working. Mind you, Buderus is the Toyota of all boilers. It is what other boilers hope to be when they grow up. Our maintenance guy talks about our Buderus like it is a Harley…’listen to ‘er hum, she’s f’ing gorgeous…’ Well, it stopped humming and it took four guys from our oil company, including the Electrical Engineer owner and a couple of Buderus consultants to fix it. Not to mention, this all transpired while we were supposed to be in Vermont. Needless to say, we didn’t go to Vermont. The woman in the picture above was not happy. The kids were not happy. I also don’t shut ‘er off anymore. So, if you hear humming in my tracks, you’ll know why.


What else? Oh yeah, instruments. Here is my Bacon Banjo. Bacon Banjo Company was one of the most famous banjo companies in the early 1900’s. As far as I know, I have no genealogical connection.


Someday I would like to build a banjo. It would be a Bacon Banjo. I have lots of other instruments (see the fifes, flutes and whistles vertically organized at the top of this page).

So, that is the tour of my workspace and I guess a little bit about who I am. Now I need to get back to making music.

Talk of the Town

After Ned posted about baconworks over at starchamber.com a follow up discussion ensued that has been quite interesting. How does good music get discovered? How is the discovery process that takes place today different from what it was in the 60’s or in the 90’s? What do entities like American Idol do for the music world?

Incidentally, Ned blogs on a wide array of interesting topics such as The Age of Organic Knowledge, Cheap DNA Sequencing and The Origins of Alcohol. It is worth your time to check it out.

Firehouse Photo Essay

My buddy Dan…

… recently moved into an old one engine firehouse that, at one point, was converted into a dance club and now is his home.

It has all sorts of character such as the stained glass that shines above his front door…
stained glass

…and this risqué firewoman painting he found under layers of drywall.

It is a great place for The Ancient Mariners

…to practice …

… so that when we get onto the street we’re all walking, generally speaking, in the same direction.

Incidentally, if you have never seen The Ancient Mariners perform, we like to clear the parade route with a cannon…

and a mutinous prisoner…

People ask me all the time, ‘Is the prisoner crazy?’ Yes, yes he is. Why else would he not be wearing a shirt and shoes on March 11th in New England? Still not convinced? You should see him during our Christmas parade!

Here are a few of the other characters from this years Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New Haven, Ct…
bobbyclintkevjoed & calbob

So, now that you’ve waded through a bunch of photos of people you don’t know, here is a recording of a tune we ran through at Dan’s firehouse over the weekend. The tune is called Katy Hill. It was originally a 2/4 but the Mariners decided to play it first as a 6/8 and the second time through as 2/4. This does not feel like any old 6/8 as you will hear. It really is rudimental drumming at its syncopated strangest, which is why I like it. I also like how you can hear people talking during the first half of the tune. Those aren’t bystanders you hear, it is the drummers debating.

I am Niche

My friend Ned wrote a really nice article last week about the activity that is taking place on baconworks.com. In his blog he asserts that ‘there has never been a better time to be an amateur musician than now’. This got me thinking.

There have always been enormously talented musicians that fly under the radar. They don’t have the agents, the record deals or the good looks to be seen by the world. Thank goodness the record industry protects us from looking at ugly people, what a service. Agents, recordings and a perfect smile, however, have absolutely nothing to do with making real music, so it is a real shame that they get in the way.

Fortunately, three things are changing the music creation/distribution paradigm. First, there is a proliferation of low cost/high quality digital recording equipment. Second, it is ridiculously easy to distribute music digitally. No need to press expensive CD’s anymore. Third, and most fascinating, is the quickly evolving social nature of the internet. With relative ease you can now post your unrenowned mug on YouTube.com beat boxing to the Super Mario Brothers theme song if you like. If your music is indeed worth a listen, the world will let you know through ratings, comments and social sharing tools like ma.gnolia, Digg and del.icio.us. You no longer have to ask MTV or Capital Records.

Here is another way to think about it. Record companies focus on major markets because the hurdles of recording and the high cost of distribution made it impossible for them to produce music for niche markets. Instead, they intentionally dismiss the niche markets, otherwise known as the Long Tail. The Long Tail, depicted by the light brown color in the graph below is where I live. Ironically, it is where most people offering services or products live, and that is exciting. It is exciting because nobody really knows how long the tail is. Unlimited markets. A world where there is a market for everything and a distribution channel to supply those markets.

long tail

Think I’m crazy? Let’s do simple experiment. I surmise there is a market for ‘used socks’, surely an item Walmart does not carry. I searched on ebay.com for ‘used socks’. As of today there are 241 offerings in the ‘used socks’ category. Yeah, but ‘who is buying?’ you ask. Looking at all ‘Completed Listings’ it turns out that there have been 702 pairs of used socks sold. Incidentally, I ran the same experiment back in June, did some quick math and found that about, one pair of used socks have been sold a day on eBay since June. Here’s a pair that sold for $4.48.


The consumer that bought this pair of socks is definitely at the very end of the ‘Long Tail’ but they do represent a market and they have money they are willing to part with.

Do I have a market? I do. A small one. Major record labels are not lining up at my door. But that is ok because the current state of technology allows me to serve my market without their help. Ultimately, with the price of admission being so low more musicians than ever are stepping onto the digital stage thus creating the greatest display of musical diversity ever witnessed in human history.

So, while I agree it is a great time to be an amateur musician, it is a really fantastic time to be a music lover and it is my goal to provide you enjoyable music from the Long Tail.

Now, if you are in the market for a pair of used socks, I have the inside scoop on where you can get ’em.

Here comes the big day!

St. Patrick’s day is fast approaching and you know what that means? Green beer and shamrocks in your Guinness?

No Green Beer

No, not green beer. If I find out you’re changing the chemistry of a perfectly well crafted pint with food coloring you’re out of the will. And please, try to convince your bartender that the shamrock is really not necessary. Besides, when not drawn properly it runs the risk of looking phallic and you don’t want your friends laughing at you as you take your first sip. No, instead The Ancient Mariners have an annual tradition which involves libations at a popular Yale hangout called Rudy’s. Beforehand we throw eggs, bacon, taters and a bunch of meat on some grills in the parking lot. All this is in preparation for the New Haven St. Patrick’s day parade. Here’s a hazy old picture, back from the days of film, of the Mariners and the pre-parade festivities in the back room at Rudy’s playing some tunes. If anything noteworthy happens, which is why a go to begin with, I’ll report back on Monday.

What’s in Your Name?

Ever do a Google search on your name just to see what would turn up? Well, in the process of checking if baconworks.com would appear I did just that. For some unknown and, quite possibly, mystical reason the Greg Bacons of the world like to be musicians. It’s like I’m a member of some über-exclusive club. There is a saxophonist Greg Bacon from Indiana, which might explain why I was once requested to play at a party in Gary. Also, there is a self described Bass virtuoso Greg Bacon who plays in a variety of punk bands. Check him out on gregbacon.com. Looks like a nice enough fellow. It also looks as if this Greg Bacon has created a Wikipedia entry for himself. I found the following bit amusing:

Greg is a performer and his ability to “perform” has developed over the years. His mastery is listed below:

  • The Foward [sic] Lean
  • The Foward [sic] and Backward Lean
  • The Jump
  • The Jump and Kick
  • The Jump and Kick and Axe Swing

Fortunately, those are all things I can do on a fife so I was not really compelled to make any content changes. I did, however, update the spelling mistakes. I don’t want this guy giving me a bad name.

What alternate personas do you have out there?