Majors Creek Folk Festival 2007

Posted by jerry on November 19th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Music

There was still quite a bit of daylight when we arrived at Majors Creek near Braidwood in New South Wales and we wre fortunate in being offered a camping spot in a great location on the edge of the great sports oval on which the bulk of the Music at the Creek festival was to run.

The day was still warm and once we had set up camp, it was time to check out the layout. We were near one venue which had a number of excellent acts from bluesy duos to big sound bands.

As always the highlight for me were the informal music sessions where musicians come together to play and exchange tunes. I came away with a good list of tunes to learn, and pointed others to some great tunes I had picked up during the year.

There were excellent sessions on Friday night and on Saturday night which went until well into the morning. I had another great playoff with Tony Pyrzakowski from Mothers of Intention – a great fiddler and a great mate.

Majors Creek Festival

Rosie McDonald and Anne Ridgeway did a lovely set at one of the concert venues, as did Nick and Liesl – an up and coming young Sydney duo.

Will O’ the Wisp was there with stilt walkers and hoop shows and workshops adding to the festival atmosphere. The Morris dancers braved the heat on Saturday and the late afternoon thunderstorm provided a welcome cool change with teh sun returning in the morning to dry everything off before packing up.

Majors Creek Festival

Majors is a great festival – big enough to attract great talent and small enough to remain a friendly festival – I’ll be back next year 🙂


NZ Christchurch travel – The Bog session

Posted by jerry on November 5th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Music, Travel

The tee-shirt read “I spend Tuesday nights in the Bog” But on closer inspection it turned out that The Bog is in fact an Irish bar located at the end of the City Mall in Christchurch New Zealand – and every Tuesday night there is a traditional Irish music session.

The bog Irish bar

Traditional? Well if you count a guy playing trumpet while standing on a table traditional… but yes the music is mainly old-school Irish celtic.

The bog Irish bar

So Eve, having made sure I brought the fiddle over, suggested we have a few tunes at the Bog. I was just going to sit in a corner somewhere unobtrusive and play odd tunes as I knew them – especially when they said they were recording that particular night for a live album.

The bog Irish bar

I was directed over to where other fiddle players were seated. Eve introduced me around to a few of the main players and there was a kind of band all mic-ed up and they would lead the session.

The bog Irish bar

Then this guy leans over and asks if I play anything other than Irish? So I said sure – how about some scottish? and started off a couple of tunes. Suddenly it became apparent that most of the place had gone quiet and everyone was watching me. The fiddle layer in the band then leant over and said “wanna swap places?” I declined, but a couple of the main players came over and complimented my playing.

The bog Irish bar

Then the session got going and to my surprise I knew almost all the tunes.

The bog Irish bar

At one point Neville – with the trumpet – dragged me out to play with him on the front microphone. And when Athol Highlanders March came on it was only natural that I should dance to the tune as I played. That seemed to get a few people going and soon there was another fiddle player out and dancing too. So I kind of turned reluctantly into a guest celebrity.

The bog Irish bar

It was a grand session – very lively and a load of fun. And it’s on every Tuesday evening – so if you’re travelling through, why not pop in for a pint of the good stuff and have a few tunes yourself 🙂

The bog Irish bar


Talk (and fiddle) in SecondLife

Posted by jerry on August 4th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Music, New media, Technology

With the latest release of SecondLife comes a talk function – so I was eager to test it out. Anya Ixchel and Ailja Writer were already online and they were testing the talk function too. I invited them over to my modest block of land and was quickly joined by Sharon aka Teal Etzel, and soon we figured out the new menus and talked about talk. The quality wasn’t bad from my end – although the processing speed meant a slight delay between talking and hearing. And as more bandwidth was used the voices became a little broken – at one point I sounded like a Dalek from Dr Who!

But the real test came when I played fiddle through the talk function – it was hilarious! Anya rezzed up a dance object and soon all the avatars were dancing so I pulled out the Guarnerius violin from my inventory and set my avatar playing while I played in real life. And it worked really well – my first live concert in SL 🙂

SL fiddle

Interestingly some of the SL neighbours also flew in to see what the fuss was about, so we gave the function a good test with in the end about seven avatars together and nearby.

Certainly this build is MUCH more stable than the beta “FirstLook” version, and it was easy to set up the talk function. But the sound was much better through Sharon’s MacBook laptop than through the mac G5 as the desktop one seemed to pick up a lot of hard-drive noise. It also worked much better through headphones in order to prevent echo from the mic picking up the voice on its return through the speakers. So it can take a bit of practice to get the levels right. In the end I managed to get a reasonable talk quality.

Second Life – social dimension

Posted by jerry on July 22nd, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Music, New media, Technology

One of the aspects of virtual world SecondLife is the social interaction it enables between people from different real locations. I was curious as to how live music performances worked, and, having joined several live music social groups I quickly found a live performance in progress and teleported to a club lounge, where I found about 15 avatars dancing or standing around, and one with a guitar on stage animated to play the guitar, while the sound was streamed live into the sim.

The lone singer-guitarist seemed bemused that the host had vanished offline (perhaps their computer had crashed) and one of the audience indicated that they had a club and everyone could transfer there.

The new club “Sound Factory” was well set up with a dance floor, and several avatars were already dancing before the music had begun to stream.

Sound Factory SL

Conversations were broadcast across the screen and when the sound came through the performer, Mr Jonze, spoke in response to several of the comments being broadcast. He interacted with the small crowd and conversed between songs, as though there was a small gathering in his lounge-room.

I asked the crowd if there were any tutorials on sound streaming, and got a rather abrupt response from the club owner, Politically Beck to say “it’s so easy even a caveman could do it”. Perhaps its not etiquette to ask tech questions of a probably knowledgeable crowd in a social setting, but I found that a bit unhelpful.

Nonetheless the music was good and the sound quality was surprisingly good lending a good club/restaurant atmosphere to the scene. It differed substantially from any Real life (RL) situation in that you could dance, converse and interact with the performer to a far greater extent than you could in RL. I had a good dance and conversation with Marieke CLoetens and laughed at the antics of Peet the monkey 🙂

And with it being evening in Australia, the performer Mr Jonze had just been up for an hour in the US and others were there in the room from the UK and from NZ – quite a mix that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

I learnt a lot about the social side of SL, and look forward to checking out a couple more of the music venues.


Talk on SecondLife

Posted by jerry on July 17th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Music, New media, Technology

Tried the new talk browser on NMC last night – and it works 🙂 I had a conversation with Anya Ixchel.

First impressions – this is pushing the technology to its limits. The browser is quite unstable, causing me to crash a couple of times. The voice is clear, but then breaks up in segments with buffer over-runs as the processing power of the computer gets a bit overwhelmed.

I was able to play some fiddle into SL for the first time, using this medium which was great. But in the end Anya and I reverted to typing as the voice eventually became too broken up for clear communication.

It is certainly a good start, but I doubt if can be used if there are several people on the sim at any one time.

Separately, it was good to catch up with Radhika the other night – it’s amazing where former cyberminders are turning up 🙂 As she points out, it’s almost like the old MOO days.