Tuesday, December 09, 2008

tech in africa (and mali specifically!)

very interesting article on linux in africa, which mentions mali specifically. i have been dealing with this on a very micro level since i helped facilitate a friend buying a OLPC laptop for his daughter. she was in mali, but had been having fun with my laptop when she was here. so he had me buy a OLPC laptop for her, and sent it over. it was fine, however, she was frustrated by the seeming limited nature of the computer. in fact, if she had access to someone who knew linux, she could do tons more with the machine and its long charge, indestructible nature, etc than she probably could do with a crashing windows machine. this article explains the contradictions in the windows/linux problem in much more macro detail.


When Linux fails

Posted by Jeremy Allison @ 11:59 am

[The opinions expressed here are mine alone, and not those of Google, Inc. my current employer.]

Recently I was able to visit the Ontario Linux Fest. I love shows like Ontario, as they’re run by amateurs, not by professional show companies. Don’t get me wrong; the professional shows have their place too, but I don’t tend to listen to the other speakers at those shows as I’ve heard most of them before. I’m sure they’ve all heard my talks as well, so instead we tend to hang out in the speaker rooms trying to get the wireless network to work, and swapping airline travel horror stories.

I do listen to the talks at smaller shows. Amateur shows are a labor of love, and it shows. The line up of speakers at the Ontario show was fascinating. One talk in particular caught my eye, by Ian Howard, called “Free and Open Source Software in Africa - Emerging Opportunities for Linux”. The slides from his talk are available here. The talk itself didn’t disappoint, and it was quite shocking, at least to me. It was a positive and upbeat talk about his experiences in Africa promoting Linux and Open Source software. But what he was really teaching us was an understanding of how Linux can fail in places like Africa.

Ian had gone to Africa as part of an organization called Geekcorps, dedicated to promoting IT use in developing nations. He worked on a range of projects in Mali, a West African nation which, like most African nations, is very undeveloped as far as IT is concerned.

Nigerian students power up their laptopsAt first glance, Free and Open Source software should be perfect for places like Mali. The local economy is poor, and average salaries make proprietary software an unimaginable expense for most people there. Yet the place is overrun with copies of Microsoft Windows. This is the toxic effect of what is called software “piracy” of course, although it bears little resemblance to what occurs off the coast of Somalia and is better called copyright infringement, as that’s what it really is. Copyright infringement doesn’t sound as threatening or scary as “piracy” though, does it ? The outcome of this rampant illegal software copying is that Windows is seen as “the first world standard” and any attempt to push a cheaper alternative is strongly resisted. They consider it trying to cheat local people out of getting the same quality of software that is used in the developed world, even though it’s a legal way of getting quality software for free.

Ian’s group first worked on a custom Linux distribution called “Kunnafonix”, designed for local radio stations. Local radio stations are an incredibly important communication tool in Africa, and most of them run on proprietary systems imported from the West, ill-suited for the temperature extremes and power requirements found in rural Africa. Kunnafonix was designed to be easy to use, install and repair, could be run as a live CD, and contained copies of the Wikipedia encyclopedia and the Audacity audio processing software. Many problems in operation could be fixed by doing a simple one-click reinstall to reset the system into a known good state.

However, installation of Kunnafonix was resisted by many of the local organizations they had to work with. The local “computer support person” resented a solution that was so easy to use that it undermined the power and prestige they received by being the person to consult when a Windows computer had problems. It’s amazing to see the myth that Linux is hard to use, install, and support still being propagated in much of the media here in the U.S., when in reality it is resented by Windows administrators due to its ease of use and lesser requirements for professional support.

More successful was their project to extend the Internet into communities by wireless networking, creating innovative ways to extend the range of wireless networks. In the wonderful talk “A New Way to look at Networking” Van Jacobson, one of the creators of the modern TCP protocol, said “the Internet reaches everywhere in the world, it’s just that sometimes the latencies are really, really high”. Everyone in the world has access to the Internet, it’s just sometimes they get to it by bicycling to the next village to view content that someone has delivered to them by burning it onto a CD-ROM. Extending wireless networking to remote villages can cut that latency to the point where Internet access can make a positive difference to people’s everyday lives. They can check the local commodity prices to discover if it’s worth it before undergoing a day long trip to the market for example. This time they were able to teach local technicians to make and repair the wireless network infrastructure they were creating, which made a great difference.

In a region with no software development experience, even Open Source software isn’t going to help bootstrap a computer support or software industry where there is nothing to start with. Even though you can see all of the source code inside a Linux distribution, without local expertise and knowledge to support and maintain it, it might as well be a closed source Windows installation. In fact, as knowledge of Windows is already widespread in such areas, even though it’s due to illicit software copying, Windows may be a better choice until you can break through the network effects keeping it dominant.

What shone though clearly in Ian’s talk was that unless you can partner with the local people, and most importantly help them make money with the new systems you’re trying to get them to use, then you’re just another well-meaning interloper, trying to sell them something that probably won’t work. Making money is the key. Without the opportunity of economic benefits, people in developing countries simply don’t have the time to learn about Free and Open Source software, no matter how much it seems to fit their needs from an external point of view.

Jon “Maddog” Hall’s keynote talk at the Ontario Linux Fest also made this point in a very powerful way. Jon is a wonderfully entertaining speaker, and not afraid of controversy. Showing a picture of a child in the African bush holding a “One Laptop per Child” laptop he said, “I don’t care about this kid.” The audience drew a shocked breath. “He’s screwed,” continued Jon. “Five hundred miles of bush behind him, five hundred miles of bush in front of him. There’s nothing I can do to help here”. Jon flipped the slide to show a Brazilian “favela”, or slum city, with an incredibly dense population, seeming to cling to the side of a nearby hill. He said, “This is where I can help. These kids have electricity. They can get a network connection. I can do something with Open Source and Free Software here”.

Jon isn’t a callous person. He’s just decided to focus his resources on somewhere he knows he can help today. It’s hard to find fault with him for that.

Ian aimed higher, and when you aim higher you have further to fall when you miss. He’s recently completed an MBA, and is concentrating more on the business side of things than the technical. I learned a very valuable lesson from his talk though. Something I, like many Free and Open Source software geeks, often forget whilst concentrating on the technical side of the software we love. Sometimes, technical excellence isn’t enough. Linux and Open Source software can fail badly in the real world not because of technical issues, but because of economic issues. We have to remember the lesson learned in the US election of 1992, and again in 2008. Sometimes, “It’s the economy, stupid !”

Thursday, December 04, 2008

long tail is dead

so i'm on this list serve (FA Worldmusic) where I occasionally weigh in. today i weighed in heftily - check it out.


Nothing like being called out to make one sit down and start writing. ;) Thanks Dmitri!

Mark, I think the simple answer is that no one is making money from digital sales yet - even the top overall sellers like Katy Perry are not seeing large percentages of their income come from digital sales. 

Now onto the long tail of my response - The first thing I think it is important to mention in a discussion of the Long Tail is that it is a theory, or a concept. For those who weren't all geeked out when the term came to common use, the idea of the Long Tail as it relates to music and digital content was put forward by Chris Anderson, WIRED editor. For the Wiki history of this check out  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Long_Tail
His blog is now called The Long Tail (http://www.thelongtail.com/)
And the original article is here: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/tail.html
You can also get the book from the retailers he has linked to in his blog.

The quick overview (cribbed from wikipedia) is that TLT (the long tail) describes the niche strategy of businesses that sell a large number of unique items, each in relatively small quantities. Given a large enough availability of choice, a large population of customers, and negligible stocking and distribution costs, the selection and buying pattern of the population results in a power law distribution curve. This suggests that a market with a high freedom of choice will create a certain degree of inequality by favoring the upper 20% of the items ("hits" or "head") against the other 80% ("non-hits" or "long tail"). The idea among those of us who live in the this long tail was that digital would free us from the oppression of major label domination and allow smaller labels and artists to make a living from sales within the long tail. 

From my own experience within a company entirely dependent on long tail sales (CalabashMusic.com), it was painfully apparent that the "negligible stocking & distribution costs" (along with other costs like licensing, marketing, software development, etc) were in fact major blocking points. To overcome these costs would require investment of outside money, which has (to my knowledge) not yet happened with this particular retailer. 

Others apparently have been seeing this and other flaws in the theory, and as Anderson noted on his blog, there has been a flurry of reappraisals of the Long Tail (http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2008/11/more-long-tail.html). These reappraisals I think are what caused Ian to originally post his note here.

So I guess the question for us in the theoretical Long Tail (if it exists), the question remains, where is the Long Tail as a theory today and how can we (if applicable) put it to use for our artists, our market, our companies? From what I'm reading and seeing, the general consensus is that TLT (the long tail) is dead, or that the theory has been disproven. 

Currently, I'm working inside a recommendations company (a key part of Anderson's original thesis), and what I see troubles me in terms of looking at "world music" and other related independent music. As has been well documented, overall music sales are declining (with the growth in digital not nearly enough to offset losses in physical sales, in which non-top100 sales are even more depressed), and has been amply stated, discussed, and anecdotally shown on this list, independent artists now do NOT make a living off selling recorded music (not sure if they ever did, but that's a different story). The existing modes of distribution don't work horribly well for long tail artists, and future modes (mobile phones) certainly don't. For most mobile services I've seen from the inside, only 1-3% of the catalog ever sells, and maybe only 5% gets looked at. These numbers just don't work for "long tail artists". We did just start working with a retailer focused on independent music, so it'll be very interesting to see how/if recommendations can drive customers down the long tail to more unknown content.

I am in agreement with a line in the original article "With cheap production tools and the internet as a new distribution channel, some costs of production are indeed lowered, and some artists can indeed cut out (or "disintermediate") the middle man. But those old rules still make a significant difference to your business strategy. "In particular, the division of labour and economies of scale still have tremendous relevance to understanding today’s market”, Page notes. The division of labour means it can benefit you to employ a specialist intermediary, while economies of scale mean the bigger you are, the better terms you can negotiate."

In laymans terms, I think the biggest blocking point to accessing new audiences, or to accessing an audience that cares are marketing (dollars & strategies) and filters. Megan discussed filters, and I concur with her - we should be cultivating sites that feature only certain types of music, developing good and interesting writers, cultivating fan writers/promoters, etc - creating & loving filters (Mondomix, Calabash, AfroPop, etc etc etc). 

That's the easy part.

The hard part is from that piece I quoted above and has to do with marketing & access. Small artists can't get the same terms as major labels. And even small labels can't get those same terms. And the kicker - major labels are not sharing their well negotiated terms with individual artists on their rosters. Also, majors have much more money to experiment with strategies of marketing & distribution to find their fanbase, or develop a fan base. 

Folks who are way smarter than I are saying that things are in general shifting the other way of positive (Google's Eric Schmidt says we're in a 90/10 economy - worse than the traditional 80/20 model for us in the smaller piece - http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2008/11/does-the-long-t.html).

And I think that Dmitri's comment "What I take from the Long Tail model is that artists who in the old model did not have access or ability to sell music or make a living, now can" is a misreading of the long tail and emergent technologies. Sure new technologies make artists available and accessible to the world in new ways. However, those technologies existence does not guarantee (or even offer in many cases) any financial return. 

Dmitri can place his clients all he wants on NPR, in the NYTimes, and in every other conceivable news outlet. But if those artists don't actually make money through sales, or aren't available (or easily available) in a sales outlet, then they don't have money to hire him again. More important than album sales, if those artists can't develop a fan network through touring or social network outreach, they won't have money to record again, to tour again, to hire marketers again. In short, most artists are in the same boat as before. Lowered costs of hosting, recording, etc don't change the demand equation, only the supply side equation. We have to be in the business of developing demand, not supply. Supply will always be there. But we have to be develop demand. 

Artists have to follow Megan's advice and build a career, build a fanbase, not just put out a digital release and expect to get rich due to the long tail. They DO have to know about digital technology, and how to use it. They do have to know that things are interconnected. For example, do you (or your artist) know what is on their wiki page? Or know that this page is then shot off to Last.fm for use on their pages? Or used in Songbird's music player implant mashTape? If that page is blank, your artist is a nothing to users of those services. 

Again, back to developing demand. This is our job - create audiences, find audiences, get them interested in the music we love. And we're not alone, which is great. This means we can work and share models and actual festivals/venues/etc with folk musicians, indy rockers, jazz artists, etc. These I think are the topics to discuss at APAP. How to collaborate, share knowledge, share resources, and build audiences. 

Anyway, that is more than enough from me at this point. If you want some more contrarian points of view, check out Will Page's critique of the 1000 fans model - http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/28/will_page_1000_fans/


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Helen Cleo Lumpkin Matlock

East Aurora, New York

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Helen Matlock, the center of gravity of our family for many years, passed away quietly this afternoon, in the presence of her children and their spouses, after a brief but intense illness, at the age of 85.

Helen was born on her family farm in Losantville, Indiana on June 4, 1923. She attended Purdue University, then Iowa State University, from which she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree. After teaching high school Home Economics for a year, she married Corwin Young Matlock in 1946 and moved to Buffalo, New York. Mr. and Mrs. Matlock were married for 52 years before Mr. Matlock's death in 1998. The couple lived in Williamsville for fifty years and raised four children, including Ann Ludwig, Paul Matlock, Nancy Lucow, & Peter Matlock. Mrs. Matlock moved to East Aurora in 2000. Her last years were enriched through her special relationship with Larry Kimber, a fellow member of Orchard Park Friends Meeting, whom she married in 2006. A devoted mother and grandmother, Helen was the cherished and steady pillar of strength, common sense and wisdom for her extended family.

We are all saddened by her death, and will miss her immensely.

Here are some selected photos that I had on my laptop of Boppee. . . more to come.

Helen / Boppee

Monday, November 10, 2008

Desmond Tutu on Obama

It is amazing when the people you hold up as heroes also are writing wondrous words about the man your country just elected as president. . .
Even if I don't always trust my own opinion, I do trust Mr. Tutu.


The Man of Tomorrow
His election has turned America's global image on its head.

By Desmond Tutu
Sunday, November 9, 2008; Page B01

CAPE TOWN I am rubbing my eyes in disbelief and wonder. It can't be true that Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan, is the next president of the United States.

But it is true, exhilaratingly true. An unbelievable turnaround. I want to jump and dance and shout, as I did after voting for the first time in my native South Africa on April 27, 1994.

We owe our glorious victory over the awfulness of apartheid in South Africa in large part to the support we received from the international community, including the United States, and we will always be deeply grateful. But for those of us who have looked to America for inspiration as we struggled for democracy and human rights, these past seven years have been lean ones.

A few days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, we had our first shock, hearing your president respond not with the statesmanlike demeanor we had come to expect from a U.S. head of state but like a Western gunslinger. Later, it seemed that much of American society was following his lead.

When war began, first in Afghanistan and not long after in Iraq, we read allegations of prisoner abuse at Bagram air base in Afghanistan and of rendition to countries notorious for practicing torture. We saw the horrific images from Abu Ghraib and learned of gruesome acts performed in the name of gathering information. Sometimes the torture itself was couched in the government's euphemisms -- calling waterboarding an "interrogation technique."

To the outgoing administration's record on torture we must add a string of other policies that have damaged the standing of the United States in the world: its hostility to the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gases; its refusal to assent to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, establishing the ICC's role in prosecuting war crimes; its restrictions on the use of U.S. funding to fight AIDS; and the arrogant unilateralism it has employed in declaring to be enemies any countries it deemed "against us" because they were not "for us."

The Bush administration has riled people everywhere. Its bully-boy attitude has sadly polarized our world.

Against all this, the election of Barack Obama has turned America's image on its head. My wife was crying with incredulity and joy as we watched a broadcast of the celebrations in Chicago. A newspaper here ran a picture of Obama from an earlier trip to one of our townships, where he was mobbed by youngsters. It was tacitly saying that we are proud he once visited us.

Today Africans walk taller than they did a week ago -- just as they did when Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first black president in 1994. Not only Africans, but people everywhere who have been the victims of discrimination at the hands of white Westerners, have a new pride in who they are. If a dark-skinned person can become the leader of the world's most powerful nation, what is to stop children everywhere from aiming for the stars? The fact that Obama's Kenyan grandfather was a convert to Islam may -- shamefully -- have been controversial in parts of the United States, but elsewhere in the world, Obama's multi-faith heritage is an inspiration.

And the president-elect has one additional key quality: He is not George W. Bush.

Because the Bush years have been disastrous for other parts of the world in many ways, Obama's victory dramatizes the self-correcting mechanism that epitomizes American democracy. Elsewhere, oppressors, tyrants and their lapdogs can say what they like, and they stay put, for the most part. Ordinary citizens living in undemocratic societies are not fools; they may not always agree with U.S. foreign policy, but they can see and register the difference between the United States, where people can kick an unpopular political party out, and their own countries.

In the midst of this celebration, however, a word of caution is appropriate. In the first days after 9/11, the United States had the world's sympathy, an unprecedented wave of it. President Bush squandered it. Obama could squander the goodwill that his election has generated if he does not move quickly and decisively on the international front.

On human rights, President Obama needs to signal the changes his administration will bring by speedily taking a few high-profile symbolic actions. One might be to close that abomination, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay. Another could be immediate replacement of guidelines on the treatment of detainees, thus putting the United States back in the mainstream of international humanitarian law. He could launch a comprehensive inquiry into who authorized torture and when. And it would be wonderful if, on behalf of the nation, he would apologize to the world, and especially the Iraqis, for an invasion that I believe has turned out to be an unmitigated disaster.

On humanitarian issues, he will be hard-pressed in the ongoing global financial crisis to match the current administration's generally admirable record. President Bush has succeeded in working with Congress to devote unprecedented amounts of money to fighting malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. But if the United States is to show that it places as much value on a human life in Africa as on one in the United States, Obama actually has to improve on Bush's achievements.

Obama's election has given Americans the message that hope is viable, that change is really possible. He galvanized huge numbers of his compatriots across the board, particularly young people who had become disillusioned with politics. He drew huge numbers of volunteers and raised record amounts of money, not just in donations from the wealthy but in relatively small amounts from many so-called ordinary people. Judging by the reception he received in Berlin earlier this year, he has given the world similar hope.

The renowned African scholar Ali Mazrui has pointed out that Obama could never have gotten as far as he has without an exceptional level of trust on the part of white Americans. In this, his achievement is similar to what Nelson Mandela had achieved by the end of his presidency; Mandela's party may never have drawn a majority of white votes, but he has come to be revered by white as well as black South Africans as the founding father of our democracy.

Mazrui likens Obama to Mandela in other ways, saying that both men share a readiness to forgive and show "a remarkable capacity to transcend historical racial divides." Both, Mazrui says, are "potential icons of a post-racial age which is unfolding before our eyes."

Such a post-racial age for me has the characteristics of a rainbow. We are in a different time now than when I first spoke of a rainbow nation, describing the South Africa that Mandela led for the first time in 1994. But my vision for such a place remains. It is a place where people of each race and cultural group exhibit their own unique identity, their own distinct attributes, but where the beauty of the whole gloriously exceeds the sum of its parts.

Obama is the son of a Kenyan man and a Kansan woman. He spoke movingly about his background during his long campaign. Now he's the president-elect. His triumph can help the world reach the point where we realize that we are all caught up in a delicate network of interdependence, unable to celebrate fully our own heritage and place in the world, unable to realize our full potential as human beings, unless everyone else, everywhere else, can do the same.

Desmond Tutu is the Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Krugman Strikes Again!

The Obama Agenda

Published: November 7, 2008

Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, is a date that will live in fame (the opposite of infamy) forever. If the election of our first African-American president didn’t stir you, if it didn’t leave you teary-eyed and proud of your country, there’s something wrong with you.

But will the election also mark a turning point in the actual substance of policy? Can Barack Obama really usher in a new era of progressive policies? Yes, he can.

Right now, many commentators are urging Mr. Obama to think small. Some make the case on political grounds: America, they say, is still a conservative country, and voters will punish Democrats if they move to the left. Others say that the financial and economic crisis leaves no room for action on, say, health care reform.

Let’s hope that Mr. Obama has the good sense to ignore this advice.

About the political argument: Anyone who doubts that we’ve had a major political realignment should look at what’s happened to Congress. After the 2004 election, there were many declarations that we’d entered a long-term, perhaps permanent era of Republican dominance. Since then, Democrats have won back-to-back victories, picking up at least 12 Senate seats and more than 50 House seats. They now have bigger majorities in both houses than the G.O.P. ever achieved in its 12-year reign.

Bear in mind, also, that this year’s presidential election was a clear referendum on political philosophies — and the progressive philosophy won.

Maybe the best way to highlight the importance of that fact is to contrast this year’s campaign with what happened four years ago. In 2004, President Bush concealed his real agenda. He basically ran as the nation’s defender against gay married terrorists, leaving even his supporters nonplussed when he announced, soon after the election was over, that his first priority was Social Security privatization. That wasn’t what people thought they had been voting for, and the privatization campaign quickly devolved from juggernaut to farce.

This year, however, Mr. Obama ran on a platform of guaranteed health care and tax breaks for the middle class, paid for with higher taxes on the affluent. John McCain denounced his opponent as a socialist and a “redistributor,” but America voted for him anyway. That’s a real mandate.

What about the argument that the economic crisis will make a progressive agenda unaffordable?

Well, there’s no question that fighting the crisis will cost a lot of money. Rescuing the financial system will probably require large outlays beyond the funds already disbursed. And on top of that, we badly need a program of increased government spending to support output and employment. Could next year’s federal budget deficit reach $1 trillion? Yes.

But standard textbook economics says that it’s O.K., in fact appropriate, to run temporary deficits in the face of a depressed economy. Meanwhile, one or two years of red ink, while it would add modestly to future federal interest expenses, shouldn’t stand in the way of a health care plan that, even if quickly enacted into law, probably wouldn’t take effect until 2011.

Beyond that, the response to the economic crisis is, in itself, a chance to advance the progressive agenda.

Now, the Obama administration shouldn’t emulate the Bush administration’s habit of turning anything and everything into an argument for its preferred policies. (Recession? The economy needs help — let’s cut taxes on rich people! Recovery? Tax cuts for rich people work — let’s do some more!)

But it would be fair for the new administration to point out how conservative ideology, the belief that greed is always good, helped create this crisis. What F.D.R. said in his second inaugural address — “We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we know now that it is bad economics” — has never rung truer.

And right now happens to be one of those times when the converse is also true, and good morals are good economics. Helping the neediest in a time of crisis, through expanded health and unemployment benefits, is the morally right thing to do; it’s also a far more effective form of economic stimulus than cutting the capital gains tax. Providing aid to beleaguered state and local governments, so that they can sustain essential public services, is important for those who depend on those services; it’s also a way to avoid job losses and limit the depth of the economy’s slump.

So a serious progressive agenda — call it a new New Deal — isn’t just economically possible, it’s exactly what the economy needs.

The bottom line, then, is that Barack Obama shouldn’t listen to the people trying to scare him into being a do-nothing president. He has the political mandate; he has good economics on his side. You might say that the only thing he has to fear is fear itself.

Friday, November 07, 2008

goosync psyched! psych?

i happily today was able to install goosync on my nokia e62 (i'm also now an ambassador for nokia's s60 program, so watch out, i'm gonna be pimping all sorts of things for them). 
so now i can see my google calendar appointments. HOWEVER (and this is a big one), i can only synch one calendar at a time unless i want to pay ~$80. . . . ouch. this would be a "for life" upgrade, but it is steep. . . 
very fun though.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

world circuit - years late, but now at the party

So World Circuit signed up with IODA, and announced the news today. Congratulations. Only 5 years late. . . I mean really - if any other genre's label that controlled the catalogs of the biggest acts in that genre had been absent from the digital space this long. . . . Buena Vista, Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate, Oumou Sangare, etc etc.

I would not be surprised to see the piracy numbers on these artists. I bet they have lost a non-insignificant amount of money over these past 5 years.


travel to festivals?

if you want to travel to some awesome music festivals around the globe, check out this listing. great stuff for sure.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Post-Canvass thoughts. .

I had the pleasure and honor of doing a small bit of campaigning for Obama in NH last sunday. 21 doors knocked, 5 hours of walking around rural New Hampshire, petting and calming many dogs, and enjoying the New England fall.

I did enjoy being back on the doors, something I haven't really done since I left the union. Being in the company of other committed, passionate people working on a singular political goal was also great.

As anyone who knows me knows, I generally take time to digest an experience before I can fully articulate my experience. Which can be good or bad, depending. I'm thinking that in this case it was probably good for me/Obama on the doors, but bad for my work productivity today. I'm getting a little fired up.

We were told at least 4 times that people were "undecided." ?? If you live in NH, and have been bombarded by politicians since at least January of this year, and 9 months later you are still undecided, then you certainly are ignoring some things. Either you self-interest, the news, or your future. I can understand ignoring the news, but not ones self-interest or future.

Our longest conversation of the day was with an "undecided" 9th grade english teacher who along with his wife was leaning McCain. I'm still processing that conversation, but some of the things I heard him say are certainly making me a little angry today. They are things that are straight out of the Republican playbook, and although I'm coming up with great responses, although I'm not certain that these responses would have swayed this voter towards Obama, I couldn't let them go unsaid. So instead I'll say them to the vast internet void that is the blogosphere. . .

First, I was somewhat unprepared - I didn't know the names/roles of some of Obama's key advisors/counselors to help beat back the inexperience rap.

Second, I didn't light into Palin the way I should have. The english teacher kept comparing her lack of experience to Obama's, but I think that she has had plenty of experience to prove that she is not ready/worthy to be considered for VP or Prez. For more on this, read this summary: http://tothecenter.com/news.php?readmore=7405

And more and more. . . there is so much more to say, but i'll leave it here for the moment or this will never go up.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

what's up with your multiple blogs dude?

so just a quick update - i use this blog for many things - to keep a record of random happenings, my travels, music, etc. it has at times crossed over into the "professional", especially as much of my life is a nice melange of profeesional & personal. it will continue this way i presume. however, i'm also keeping a "strictly professional" blog over at erichludwig.com
just another rss feed to add to your reader. . . ;)

Monday, August 11, 2008

water water everywhere

our street - clark st in somerville, in the middle of the rain storm yesterday. . .

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Boston Modern Global Music update

I've spent the past two Wednesday nights at the MFA and have loved it! Great shows, great atmosphere, great dancing. I mean, where else can you dance outside in a gorgeous courtyard surrounded by huge trees and an huge art museum in the middle of the city! Plus the shows are done early for all you early to bedders.

There are a couple great shows coming up there that you should join me at. Next wednesday (July 30) Daby Toure will be bringing his sick guitar chops along with his band "Extra Golden", and then August 20th, there are 2 shows (early/late) which should knock your socks off. An african tribute to james brown featuring cheick lo, vieux farka toure (ali's son), and a couple members of james brown's original band (pee wee ellis is one of them).

Also coming up this weekend is Lowell Folk Festival, featuring my friend Balla Kouyate who is playing both days:
SAT July 26 - 3PM - Lee Street Stage
Duo with Pablo Dembele on Djembe and Banjo

SUN July 27 - 1 PM - JFK PLaza & 4PM - Boarding House Park
Balla and his band, World Vision

For more info:

Balla Kouyaté, from Mali, is a virtuoso player of an ancient instrument called the balafon, the West African ancestor of the marimba, the xylophone, the vibes, and a host of related instruments. Kouyate's family roots go back over 800 years to Balla Faséké Kouyaté, the keeper of the Sosso Bala, the first balafon, and the first of an unbroken line of djelis, or griots, in the Kouyaté clan. Kouyate, now based in Massachusetts, continues this classic tradition, with his brilliant, dazzling instrumental solos and original compositions. He will be accompanied by Sekou "Pablo" Dembele on Djembe and Banjo, Raja Kassis on Guitar, Thierno Camara on Bass and Mackane Kouyate on Calabash.

Next week also is a different sort of music - Rusty Belle - an americana/folk/really cool band is playing Lizard Lounge on thursday night (july 31). these guys played a wedding alli & i were at last weekend. we'll be there dancing away for sure.

As always, you can stay up to date by going here to see the upcoming calendar, and subscribe if you want to my list of shows:


Friday, June 27, 2008

Thursday, June 26, 2008

your life. . .

is short. live it like you mean it.
or, for you techies and business school peeps:
"Your time is a zero-sum game, and only you can decide how to slice it up."

that's from david pogue, tech writer at the nytimes.

i think this is especially profound for me at this point in time due to the awful news of vinay's passing.

i never actually met him, but did meet his wife and family and friends, and this man clearly inspired many people, and brought light into the lives of those around him during his time here. surely as much as any of us can hope for with our impact on this world.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Boston Modern Global Music Calendar View 2

I'm keeping a calendar of shows I think are "cool" or interesting on Google Calendar - details below if you want to view or subscribe.

XML: http://www.google.com/calendar/feeds/538m1pu2to3gekfet2mbkqb280%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic

ICAL: http://www.google.com/calendar/ical/538m1pu2to3gekfet2mbkqb280%40group.calendar.google.com/public/basic.ics

HTML: http://www.google.com/calendar/embed?src=538m1pu2to3gekfet2mbkqb280%40group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/New_York

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Still a young man

I got this email (below) today, which is good/bad news. The good news = I'm still a young man, and not part of the old boys club which decides who gets to participate and who does not. The bad news = I'm still on the outside looking in, and they (the insiders) still don't "get it". [explanation further down]

I just hope that we are not subjected to another "panel of everyone" open blab sessions run by my friend DV over at RPS. He really is my friend, but I am slightly bored and annoyed by this format. Especially since he's done it now for a few WOMEX's and APAP's in a row. And of course a little jealous cause I want to be running a real panel talking about really how to do new and innovative stuff with digital technology, and bringing in people who can explain and discuss their methods.

Now, about the "getting it" part - my proposal was about the use of digitial distribution and promotion methods to not only distribute, promote, and market artists, but also how groups are using music and digital tools to create social change in the local community where the artist is based. I thought it would be amazing to have a panel with the folks I had in mind. I still do. But I'll just have to do it my own way. . .

Thank you for your conference proposal for WOMEX 2008 in Sevilla, Andalusia, Spain.

This year again, we received many excellent proposals which were considered very carefully for our limited number of conference sessions. In fact, so many were so good that we were left with quite a dilemma. and as every year, with the given feedback of the Jury, the task consists in trying to balance new topics and new speakers with some others whom are known to be effective and informative communicators . This meant not being able to accept some very worthy proposals this time, yours, unfortunately, among them.

That said, please note that a WOMEX conference session is not the only way to present your activities at this year’s WOMEX.

With more than 2.800 professional visitors and 1.400 companies from more than 90 countries (2007 edition) around there will be many other ways to network across borders, whether these borders be musical, political, cultural or commercial and establish essential contacts for the future.

If you plan to attend, be sure to register at the most favourable smart rate. The deadline is Friday, the 27th of June. All registration details can be found at: http://www.womex.com/realwomex/register

Thank you for your interest and understanding. We hope to see you end of October in Sevilla, appointed as UNESCOS`s first city of Music.

Best regards

Your WOMEX conference team

Monday, June 02, 2008

Ramata Diakite - New Album coming!

I have just got a rough mix of a new album from Ramata Diakite! Very exciting. for those of you who don't know, i am managing Ramata, who is an amazingly talented singer from Mali, West Africa. the owner of her US label and i have been talking to her for a while about some new songs to complete an album, and she went ahead and got into a friend of mine's studio in mali (Studio Mali, run by Paul Chandler), and recorded 13 tracks. another friend brought back the ruff mix when he was visiting mali.
so, out of this friendly collaboration come 13 sweet, acoustic, stripped down tracks. i can't wait until we get the masters, and i can start to share some of these tracks. there is a great single in there, and a nice mix of driving acoustic grooves and some trancey vibes as well.
i am getting the lyrics translated so that everyone can understand what she is singing about. to start with, the album is called "Burutumu", which is the name of her great-grandfather's village in Wassoulou. so we start with some deeply personal roots music, and bring it to the world. again, i'm very excited, and can't wait to start sharing. . .

African Field Recordings (Hugh Tracey)

A friend is working on this project. I've been familiar with Tracey's work for a while, having helped get it on CalabashMusic and such, but to see some video footage as well in this trailer from the Tracey archive is really, Really amazing.

Rogier Kappers' next film is about one of them, Hugh Tracey, an amateur folklorist who spent 40 years recording music in sub-Saharan Africa. - this from a guardian article about the director

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Obama Inspriation

From Obama's speech at Wesleyan. My favorite parts up top, the full article below:

"There's no community service requirement in the outside world, no one forcing you to care. You can take your diploma, walk off the stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and the other things our money culture says you should buy," Obama said. "You can choose to narrow your concerns and live life in a way that tries to keep your story separate from America's. But I hope you don't."

"hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself."

"Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get to where you are today, though you do have that debt. It's because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation."

"At a time of war, we need you to work for peace. At a time of inequality we need you to work for opportunity. At a time of so much cynicism and so much doubt, we need you to make us believe again."

Obama asks graduates for sacrifice, service
Steps in for Kennedy at Wesleyan commencement
By Peter Schworm
Globe Staff / May 26, 2008

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - In an insistent call to public service and a personal tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Senator Barack Obama challenged graduates of Wesleyan University yesterday to "work side by side to take on the common challenges that confront all of humanity."

Stepping in for the ailing Kennedy, who was scheduled to deliver the university's commencement address before he was diagnosed with a brain tumor last week, Obama told an audience of several thousand to "be unified in service to a greater good," a cause he described as synonymous with the Kennedy family.

Kennedy, who in January endorsed Obama in a symbolic passing of the political dynasty's progressive mantle, was represented by his wife, Vicki, and his stepdaughter, Caroline Raclin, a member of this year's graduating class.

Obama, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said it was an honor to "pinch-hit" for Kennedy, whom he called "one of my personal heroes and a hero to his country."

"Surely if one man can achieve so much and make such a difference in the lives of so many people, then each of us can do our part," Obama said of Massachusetts' senior senator. "Surely if his service and his story can forever shape America's story, then our collective service can shape the destiny of this generation. At the very least, his living example calls us to try."

Under cloudless blue skies before a supportive crowd that punctuated his words with warm applause, Obama recalled his own decision as a college graduate to work for a small group of churches as a neighborhood organizer in Chicago for "$12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car," and how the experience gave him purpose and direction. Students, Obama said, owe it to themselves and those less fortunate to serve the common good.

Wesleyan announced Obama would be replacing Kennedy late last week and scrambled to prepare for his appearance. Security was tight and Secret Service agents surveyed the crowd from rooftops. Graduates of the college, known for its progressive politics, said they were thrilled by Obama's presence and inspired by his message.

"It was the best day of my life when I found out he was coming to speak," said Genevieve Angelson, 22, whose red graduation robe displayed the phrase "WES We Can" in black letters. "But this is even better."

"I was shaking, I was so moved by what he said," she added.

Graduates said they were particularly struck by the directness of Obama's call for expanded national and community service over the pursuit of financial gain.

"There's no community service requirement in the outside world, no one forcing you to care. You can take your diploma, walk off the stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and the other things our money culture says you should buy," Obama said. "You can choose to narrow your concerns and live life in a way that tries to keep your story separate from America's. But I hope you don't."

Obama pledged to increase the size of the Foreign Service, double the size of the Peace Corps, and demand greater sacrifice from the country if elected president.

Noting that 64 Wesleyan graduates have joined the Peace Corps since 2001, Obama urged students to "hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself."

"Not because you have a debt to all those who helped you get to where you are today, though you do have that debt," he said. "It's because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation."

Obama said individual and national sacrifice is urgently needed to tackle difficult problems such as poverty, climate change, and an energy crisis.

"At a time of war, we need you to work for peace. At a time of inequality we need you to work for opportunity. At a time of so much cynicism and so much doubt, we need you to make us believe again," he said to a standing ovation.

In opening remarks, Wesleyan president Michael S. Roth recognized Kennedy as a great supporter of higher education and healthcare, drawing sustained cheers from the crowd.

"His dedication to civil rights, to labor, to healthcare and to a pragmatic and principled politics has made him one of the most productive legislators in modern American history."

In his speech, Obama relayed a lighthearted message from Kennedy, prompting laughter and applause.

"To all those praying for my return to good health, I offer my heartfelt thanks," the message read. "And to any who'd rather have a different result, I say, don't get your hopes up just yet!"

Wesleyan students said they agreed the nation needs more youthful idealism and shared sacrifice, and that Obama's words had a galvanizing effect. Many, like Daniel Meyer of Arlington, said he was already considering public service, but said Obama's speech struck a chord.

"It definitely got me thinking more about it," he said, "but I didn't expect anything short of inspirational today."

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

get e-rich rolled!

what about me?

so remember when erich took off for mali in december of 2004? right after a sweet 2 weeks in fiji? it wasn't just to experience 3 red-eyes in a row. it was actually to help film a project, a follow-up to 1 Giant Leap. Mali was the first country on the voyage for the filmmakers, they continued on (without erich, who was just a local fixer in mali), and now almost 4 years later (!) they have something they are broadcasting . . if you are in the UK, you can see it on tv. every where else - the intertoobs must be your viewing medium.
fyi - this first chapter - bombardment features some one string violin (sozu) played by a friend in mali who i set up with the guys - Zoumana Tereta. I was also in the room when they filmed Noam Chomsky, acting as Jamie's chaffeur and guide about town here in boston. ;)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Billy Bragg speaks out - "The Royalty Scam"

From the NYTimes Op-Ed page. . .

The Royalty Scam
Published: March 22, 2008

Dorset, England
LAST week at South by Southwest, the rock music conference held every year in Austin, Tex., the talk in hotel lobbies, coffeeshops and the convention center was dominated by one issue: how do musicians make a living in the age of the Internet? It’s a problem our industry has struggled with in the wake of the rising popularity of sharing mp3 music files.

Our discussions were brought into sharp relief when news reached Austin of the sale of Bebo.com to AOL for a staggering $850 million. Bebo is a social-networking site whose membership has risen to 40 million in just two years. In Britain, it ranks with MySpace and Facebook in popularity, although its users tend to come from a younger age group.

Estimates suggested that the founder, Michael Birch (along with his wife and co-founder, Xochi), walked away with $600 million for his 70 percent stake in the company.

I heard the news with a particular piquancy, as Mr. Birch has cited me as an influence in Bebo’s attitude toward artists. He got in touch two years ago after I took MySpace to task over its proprietary rights clause. I was concerned that the site was harvesting residual rights from original songs posted there by unsigned musicians. As a result of my complaints, MySpace changed its terms and conditions to state clearly that all rights to material appearing on the site remain with the originator.

A few weeks later, Mr. Birch came to see me at my home. He was hoping to expand his business by hosting music and wanted my advice on how to construct an artist-centered environment where musicians could post original songs without fear of losing control over their work. Following our talks, Mr. Birch told the press that he wanted Bebo to be a site that worked for artists and held their interests first and foremost.

In our discussions, we largely ignored the elephant in the room: the issue of whether he ought to consider paying some kind of royalties to the artists. After all, wasn’t he using their music to draw members — and advertising — to his business? Social-networking sites like Bebo argue that they have no money to distribute — their value is their membership. Well, last week Michael Birch realized the value of his membership. I’m sure he’ll be rewarding those technicians and accountants who helped him achieve this success. Perhaps he should also consider the contribution of his artists.

The musicians who posted their work on Bebo.com are no different from investors in a start-up enterprise. Their investment is the content provided for free while the site has no liquid assets. Now that the business has reaped huge benefits, surely they deserve a dividend.

What’s at stake here is more than just the morality of the market. The huge social networking sites that seek to use music as free content are as much to blame for the malaise currently affecting the industry as the music lover who downloads songs for free. Both the corporations and the kids, it seems, want the use of our music without having to pay for it.

The claim that sites such as MySpace and Bebo are doing us a favor by promoting our work is disingenuous. Radio stations also promote our work, but they pay us a royalty that recognizes our contribution to their business. Why should that not apply to the Internet, too?

Technology is advancing far too quickly for the old safeguards of intellectual property rights to keep up, and while we wait for the technical fixes to emerge, those of us who want to explore the opportunities the Internet offers need to establish a set of ground rules that give us the power to decide how our music is exploited and by whom.

We need to do this not for the established artists who already have lawyers, managers and careers, but for the fledgling songwriters and musicians posting original material onto the Web tonight. The first legal agreement that they enter into as artists will occur when they click to accept the terms and conditions of the site that will host their music. Worryingly, no one is looking out for them.

If young musicians are to have a chance of enjoying a fruitful career, then we need to establish the principle of artists’ rights throughout the Internet — and we need to do it now.

Billy Bragg is a songwriter and author.

"The notion of cultural purity is a dead-end"

"The notion of cultural purity is a dead-end."
- Yo Yo Ma (speaking in relation to his Silk Road project

"Ma said he thinks 'nothing great was ever produced in isolation.' He said his study of history at Harvard University led him to realize that Eastern and Western cultures have mixed since at least the time of Alexander the Great."

"'Even something as basic as our Western major and minor keys may have originally come from the amazingly complex modes of classical Persian music,' Ma said. 'And there's a continual tradition in the West of incorporating music from other parts of the world.'"

This is such a great quote. In the world music (term used under objection) community, there is such an unspoken bullshit requirement for groups and projects to have some sort of cultural purity or authenticity in order to play in certain venues, and to be accepted by certain audiences. It is time for this to be brought out into the open ala Obama bringing the discussion of race out into the open. Once we acknowledge that certain audiences/promoters have these unspoken feelings, we can confront them and present interesting acts from all over without worrying about if these groups are "pure", "authentic" or meet some other unsaid criteria. They just better be good.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"The reality is, conscious Americans know that Barack Obama is the color of truth."

"The reality is, conscious Americans know that Barack Obama is the color of truth."
- Stevie Wonder

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

obama, race & the end of the soundbite

You can see Obama's awesome speech today on his own page and at the NYTimes (where I linked). I'm embedding the video below as well. One thing that is really heartening to me is the end of the soundbite. Even though this whole thing has flamed up due to a sound bite or two of a minister, the debate is really being done in longer pieces. Look at people talking on YouTube and you'll see 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and more minute long pieces. Amazing. People are really digging into the issues in ways that have not been possible since the days when people actually talked face to face. It is great to get these deep seated issues addressed and discussed in the public sphere, and if nothing else, Obama's candidacy is making America start to acknowledge some of the hidden prejudices in everyone of us.

And I'm also not going to resort to soundbites. Even though I usually grab a line or two out of articles and put them here, I'm not doing that with this speech. There are certainly some really choice lines, but the whole of the speech is very powerful. And it is only 38 minutes long, so watch it, or read the whole thing if you are pressed for time.

Monday, March 17, 2008

beards are back

I was going to start this post with the following sentence but then found variations of it on about 1.3 quadrillion other places on the net as a bunch of (cave-dwelling) dudes suddenly all came to the same realization i did: we are inadvertently cool.
"Who knew? I'm really cool, I didn't even know it, and I didn't try! Amazing! All I did was grow a beard."
Don't believe me? Do a quick google search for "beard is back" and you'll see what I mean. At least I'm in good company. The good soul over at Sepia Mutiny has a post like this, and I'm more than happy to be writing the same stuff as him.
And now I get to use my South Park inspired icon on all the social networks and have it mean something! Whoo hoo!
And my favorite line from the Time piece:
"In some particularly trendy areas, facial hair has become as essential an accessory for would-be chic men as oversized totes are for their female counterparts."

So I guess since my sister has to get one of them chic totes for her new job, I also had to get some facial hair for mine, since almost everyone at the company has some sort of face-do. Although my lack of shaving certainly is a cheaper new addition than them stupid arse bags. . .

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

great reading

Nobelist Stiglitz Tallies Iraq War's Outrageous Cost: Review

Review by Charles Taylor
March 4 (Bloomberg) -- The title tells the story of ``The Three Trillion Dollar War: The True Cost of the Iraq Conflict.'' Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes have produced a devastating argument against the American invasion of Iraq.

wow. great article. the book probably is great as well. makes me want to become an economist. for the people.
like my high school econ teacher said - the left needs good economists as well. . .

What is "Radiohead style"?

The article below bothered me. Or, rather the headline did. What does "Nine Inch Nails Release New Album Radiohead-style" mean? And why I have I seen this same headline above different bylines?
Does "Radiohead Style" mean that the album is offered for whatever price consumers want to pay? Because that IS what Radiohead did, but it is NOT what NIN did.
Does "Radiohead Style" mean that the band is experimenting with various modes of distribution? It seems like NIN is doing this.
Does "Radiohead Style" mean that NIN is trying to jump on the Radiohead publicity bandwagon and make some hay of their own? Again, I'd say this is the case.

Anyway, the bottom lines are these - NOW is the time for experimentation. There is no ownership in the digital age - there is no "Radiohead Style" or anyone else's style, for that matter. There are merely a bunch of ideas floating around, being experimented with, and new ideas coming along every second. We are all trying to figure out how to deploy these ideas for our customers/clients/friends/selves in ways that help make the artistic economy a viable "ecosystem" (see, i _was_ paying attention at the digital music forum east last week). Those seeking a silver bullet, or magic idea, will NOT find that single solution. Each project will have its own rules, its own definition of success, and its own benchmarks. No More Cookie Cutters!


Nine Inch Nails Release New Album Radiohead-style
Authored by Mark Hefflinger on March 3, 2008 - 12:59pm.

Los Angeles - Nine Inch Nails has launched a Radiohead-type release for its first offering since the band's major label contract with Interscope expired last October, including a mix of free and paid downloads, regular CDs and various limited edition versions. "I've been considering and wanting to make this kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn't have made sense until this point," Reznor writes on his website. "I'm very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference."

The instrumental "Ghosts I-IV" album is a four-volume collection of 36 instrumental tracks, which Reznor says are "the result of working from a very visual perspective -- dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams."

The first nine tracks are available for free download as high-quality, DRM-free MP3s, while $5 delivers all 36 tracks in a variety of DRM-free formats.

The album will also be offered as a $10, 2 CD set; a $39, four-LP vinyl edition; a $75 limited edition CD set; and $300 ultra-deluxe edition four-LP vinyl set, limited to 2,500 copies signed by Reznor himself.

"Ghosts I-IV" is being released under the Creative Commons license -- a less restrictive copyright scheme -- and fans will be able to access multi-track versions of the songs on the album for remixing purposes.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Last FM Playlist

Kakande w/Mory Kante

I'm at it again. Time to promote the stuff I'm promoting. In this case, Kakande with Mory Kante.

Kakande will be playing Johnny D's featuring a guest appearance by Mory Kante! This concert is a CD Release Party for much anticipated new album Dununya.

Mory Kante is an international super star from Guinea, West Africa, and rarely backs anyone up. However, Kakande (led by Famoro Dioubate from Guinea) has touched Mory so much that he'll be appearing with them for this show.

"Kakande takes a unique approach to Mande music—acoustic, kinetic, textured and grooving. Dioubate's virtuosic balafon riffing is rightly front and center, backed harmonically by a sweet blend of electric guitar (Mamady Kouyate), cello (Raoul Rothblatt), flute (Sylvain Leroux)
and sax (Avram Fefer). These players step out occasionally, but mostly hang with the crisp rhythm section, creating textures that work as well in a dark, roiling jam like "Paya Paya," as on a slow, mellifluous praise song like "Mariama Traoré.""
- Afropop Worldwide's Review of Kakande's album "Dununya"

Come on out and have a great time! More details below.

Press Release:
On Thursday February 21th, Johnny D's presents Kakande, a 9-piece West African band based out of NYC, celebrating the release of their much anticipated album, Dununya (http://www.JumbieRecords.com). The West African music scene has been steadily growing in the U.S. in recent
years and it is sure to explode when this groundbreaking new disc hits stores. To celebrate Dununya's release, African superstar Mory Kante will join Kakande on stage, in a rare U.S. appearance, and an once-in-a-lifetime chance to see this legendary musician supporting another group.

Kakande is a 9-piece collective that demonstrates how the balafon (xylophone) has electrified African music for 800 years. Lush vocals, flutes, sinewy guitars, cellos and countless melodic textures are propelled by the power of Famoro Dioubate's balafon virtuosity. Layers of intricate melody come together in Kakande to create this explosive
new groove. Mory Kante's support for the group is remarkable, especially since he was the first African artist to sell a million CDs (see http://www.MoryKante.com).

February 21th will be a historic chance to join Kakande and Mory Kante as Boston writes a new chapter in the history of griot music.

Who: Kakande with special guest Mory Kante

What: CD release for new album Dununya

Where: Johnny D's
17 Holland St.
Somerville, MA 02144

When: Thursday Feb. 21, 2008

Price: $15 advance/$18 door
Advance Tickets at: http://kakande.eventbrite.com/

Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes We Can Song

Just wanted to post the text that accompanies the Obama video below. . . Inspiring stuff, just like the man himself.

The Yes We Can Song
by will.i.am

I was sitting in my recording studio watching the debates...
Torn between the candidates

I was never really big on politics...
and actually I’m still not big on politics...
but 4 years ago, me and the black eyed peas supported Kerry...
And we supported Kerry with all our might...
We performed and performed and performed for the DNC...
doing all we could do to get the youth involved...

The outcome of the last 2 elections has saddened me...
on how unfair, backwards, upside down, unbalanced, untruthful,
corrupt, and just simply, how wrong the world and "politics" are...

So this year i wanted to get involved and do all i could early...

And i found myself torn...
because this time it’s not that simple...
our choices aren’t as clear as the last elections ...
last time it was so obvious...
Bush and war
no Bush and no war...

But this time it’s not that simple...
and there are a lot of people that are torn just like i am...

So for awhile I put it off and i was going to wait until it was decided for me...

And then came New Hampshire...

And i was captivated...


I reflected on my life...
and the blessings I have...
and the people who fought for me to have these rights and blessings...

and I’m not talking about a "black thing"
I’m talking about a "human thing" me as a "person"
an American...

That speech made me think of Martin Luther King...
and Lincoln...
and all the others that have fought for what we have today...

what America is "supposed" to be...

and truth...

and thats not what we have today...
we think we are free...
but in reality terror and fear controls our decisions...

this is not the America that our pioneers and leaders fought and
died for...

and then there was New Hampshire

it was that speech...
like many great speeches...
that one moved me...
because words and ideas are powerful...

It made me think...
and realize that today we have "very few" leaders...
maybe none...

but that speech...

it inspired me...
it inspired me to look inside myself and outwards towards the world...
it inspired me to want to change myself to better the world...
and take a "leap" towards change...
and hope that others become inspired to do the same...
change themselves..
change their greed...
change their fears...
and if we "change that"
"then hey"..
we got something right...???...

1 week later after the speech settled in me...
I began making this song...
I came up with the idea to turn his speech into a song...
because that speech effected and touched my inner core like nothing in a very long time...

it spoke to me...

because words and ideas are powerful...

I just wanted to add a melody to those words...
I wanted the inspiration that was bubbling inside me to take over...

so i let it..

I wasn't afraid to stand for something...
to stand for "change"...
I wasn't afraid of "fear"...
it was pure inspiration...

so I called my friends...
and they called their friends...
in a matter of 2 days...
We made the song and video...

Usually this process would take months...
a bunch of record company people figuring out strategies and release dates...
all that stuff...
but this time i took it in my own hands...
so i called my friends sarah pantera, mike jurkovac, fred goldring, and jesse dylan to help make it happen...
and they called their friends..
and we did it together in 48 hours...
and instead of putting it in the hands of profit we put it in the hands of inspiration...

then we put it on the net for the world to feel...

When you are truly inspired..
magic happens...
incredible things happen...
love happens..
(and with that combination)

"love, and inspiration"

change happens...

"change for the better"
Inspiration breeds change...

"Positive change"...

no one on this planet is truly experienced to handle the obstacles we face today...
Terror, fear, lies, agendas, politics, money, all the above...
It’s all scary...

Martin Luther King didn't have experience to lead...
Kennedy didn't have experience to lead...
Susan B. Anthony...
Nelson Mandella...
Rosa Parks...
Anne Frank...
and everyone else who has had a hand in molding the freedoms we have and take for granted today...

no one truly has experience to deal with the world today...

they just need "desire, strength, courage ability, and passion" to change...
and to stand for something even when people say it's not possible...

America would not be here "today" if we didn’t stand and fight for
change "yesterday"...
Everything we have as a "people" is because of the "people" who fought for
and whoever is the President has to realize we have a lot of changing to do

I'm not trying to convince people to see things how i do...
I produced this song to share my new found inspiration and how I've been moved...
I hope this song will make you feel...
and think...
and be inspired just like the speech inspired me...

that’s all...

Let's all come together like America is supposed to...
Like Japan did after Hiroshima...

that was less than 65 years ago...
and look at Japan now...

they did it together...
they did it...

"We can't?...

Are you serious..?..


Yes we can...
A United "America"
Democrats, Republicans and Independents together...
Building a new America

We can do it...

Please visit www.yeswecansong.com

Thank you for reading and listening...

Why Toni Morrison is endoring Obama

Here is the letter that Toni Morrison wrote when she endorsed Barack Obama. I like this line "I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me "proud."" that she writes when she talks about the race/gender conflict dynamic so many people are struggling with. I am voting for Barack because it will make me proud. Not proud to be voting for a black man, just as I would not be proud to be voting for a woman. But I'll be proud to be voting for the person who I think offers these United States the best chance to move forward, to start to make this country and world a better place. Someone who can move things forward, not someone who will get bogged down in the gridlock of political patterns of fighting and the blind rage that some people feel towards Clinton. Someone with the vision and the fortitude and enough experience to get us to someplace better. Someone who will inspire millions of Americans and other around the world to join in this cause, who has already inspired people to dream of a better future, and someone who will work for tomorrow's challenges today.

Toni Morrison's letter:
Dear Senator Obama,

This letter represents a first for me--a public endorsement of a Presidential candidate. I feel driven to let you know why I am writing it. One reason is it may help gather other supporters; another is that this is one of those singular moments that nations ignore at their peril. I will not rehearse the multiple crises facing us, but of one thing I am certain: this opportunity for a national evolution (even revolution) will not come again soon, and I am convinced you are the person to capture it.

May I describe to you my thoughts?

I have admired Senator Clinton for years. Her knowledge always seemed to me exhaustive; her negotiation of politics expert. However I am more compelled by the quality of mind (as far as I can measure it) of a candidate. I cared little for her gender as a source of my admiration, and the little I did care was based on the fact that no liberal woman has ever ruled in America. Only conservative or "new-centrist" ones are allowed into that realm. Nor do I care very much for your race[s]. I would not support you if that was all you had to offer or because it might make me "proud."

In thinking carefully about the strengths of the candidates, I stunned myself when I came to the following conclusion: that in addition to keen intelligence, integrity and a rare authenticity, you exhibit something that has nothing to do with age, experience, race or gender and something I don't see in other candidates. That something is a creative imagination which coupled with brilliance equals wisdom. It is too bad if we associate it only with gray hair and old age. Or if we call searing vision naivete. Or if we believe cunning is insight. Or if we settle for finessing cures tailored for each ravaged tree in the forest while ignoring the poisonous landscape that feeds and surrounds it. Wisdom is a gift; you can't train for it, inherit it, learn it in a class, or earn it in the workplace--that access can foster the acquisition of knowledge, but not wisdom.

When, I wondered, was the last time this country was guided by such a leader? Someone whose moral center was un-embargoed? Someone with courage instead of mere ambition? Someone who truly thinks of his country's citizens as "we," not "they"? Someone who understands what it will take to help America realize the virtues it fancies about itself, what it desperately needs to become in the world?

Our future is ripe, outrageously rich in its possibilities. Yet unleashing the glory of that future will require a difficult labor, and some may be so frightened of its birth they will refuse to abandon their nostalgia for the womb.

There have been a few prescient leaders in our past, but you are the man for this time.

Good luck to you and to us.

Toni Morrison

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Andy Palacio

please hold andy palacio in the light. he is currently fighting for his life. he has been tragically taken ill within the past week. i'll paste the email from his label & manager below.
andy is a musician.
andy is a humanitarian.
andy is a mensch.
andy has made a positive impact on this world.
andy is an inspiration.
andy is a hero.
please pray for him, hold him in the light, carry him with you in your heart, your head, your ears, your mind, your body and your soul.

i have so many words to describe what this man means to me, and who am i? and yet, i have so few words right now. . . just hope.


email from friday (jan 18th):
Dear Friends:

We're deeply saddened to report that Andy Palacio has experienced what was apparently a severe heart attack and is in grave condition. He is currently on life support and the prognosis is not good. We are all hoping for a miracle and that Andy will regain consciousness, but at this point this does not seem likely.

Andy started feeling poorly a few days ago and visited a doctor with complaints of dizziness and blurred vision. On Wednesday he began experiencing seizures and was rushed to a hospital in Belmopan, Belize and then on to another hospital in Belize City. The doctors initially though Andy, who was still conscious and communicative at that time, had experienced a stroke, and were even diagnosing multiple sclerosis at one point. At this point, we were all hopeful Andy would recover.

Yesterday, Andy's condition worsened and he began experiencing more seizures. Andy is a national icon in Belize, and the story of his illness has not only been big news there, the Prime Minister has been putting his full support behind Andy's treatment. When Andy's condition started to decline, he was placed on an air ambulance to Chicago where he was expected to get treatment at one of the premier neurological facilities in the country.

En route to Chicago, the plane stopped in Mobile, Alabama to clear immigration. At that point, Andy was unconscious and it was determined that he was too ill to continue on the flight to Chicago. Andy is currently in a hospital in Mobile, Alabama where he is in a coma. His cousin is by his side and Andy's daughters will be arriving shortly .

It is impossible to describe the pain we feel from this unfathomable tragedy. We will notify you if we hear any significant updates on Andy's condition. In the meantime, keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Ivan Duran (Stonetree) and Jacob Edgar (Cumbancha)

Monday, January 07, 2008

DRM is Dead!!

today is the day! drm is dead! it was very exciting to turn on today and read these kind of headlines:

* Napster Goes DRM-Free on Downloads, MP3s Ahead
* Sony BMG Confirms Initial DRM-Free Strike, Retail Play Emerges

Amazing stuff. i think that iTunes is going to be the only place to get DRM'ed tracks (except for some SOL little independent sites) within 6 months. and that (DRM on iTunes) only because the majors are pissed at apple/jobs and won't give them their catalogs fully DRM free.
Imagine how much further along we'd be if this had happened 5 years ago?!?
Instead of this rapid downturn of sales, maybe we'd be that much closer to actually developing a working market for artists.
I know people who still haven't downloaded music, think that it is too complicated, haven't opened up to paypal or putting their credit card info in online, don't use itunes, have been scared off by "DRM" talk (either it is too hard to use, or that someone will be tracking them), or any number of other reasons/excuses. Now that they know that their music will play everywhere they want it to, maybe they'll try buying something somewhere. Imagine if the 844 million tracks bought in 2007 is just from the early adopters! wow. that is some power.