Streams

John Schaefer

John Schaefer appears in the following:

Live music, and the price is right

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Now that Memorial Day has unofficially started the summer season, it doesn't take long for all the summer festivals to get their schedules out. Celebrate Brooklyn, in Prospect Park, has a particularly good-looking lineup this summer, but of course the usual suspects - Central Park SummerStage, the River To River Festival, and Midsummer Night Swing, to name just a few - have a wealth of concerts for the those who have a little less wealth this year.

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Reggaeton and the right to rap en español

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reggaeton might just be the most successful cultural export from Puerto Rico since Ricky Martin. But if Puerto Rican authorities had had their way back in the late 90s, this hard-driving style, with its often hardcore lyrics, would never have made it to 2004, when Daddy Yankee's out-of-nowhere hit "Gasolina" made reggaeton matter in the US. For years, reggaeton was seen by the authorities as a low-class, no-morals blight on society. It actually reminds me of another style of music... wait, which one was it again... Hip-hop? Jazz? Tango? Ragtime? The Waltz? Oh wait - I remember. It was ALL OF THEM!

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Rock opera - I know it when I see it. I think...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Rock has become so good at grand, anthemic statements - the kind that can fill a stadium with 60,000 screaming fans - that it already operates on a grand opera-like stage. So you might well ask, why would anyone bother to make a "rock opera." But rockers have been trying for over 40 years to do just that. Now, The Who's Tommy is marking its 40th anniversary as still the best-known "Rock Opera"; and Green Day is getting raves for the new 21st Century Breakdown, also billed as a rock opera.

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Get your earplugs, kids, we're going to the mall

Friday, May 22, 2009

Despite being a lifelong Yankee fan, I have not gone to a live game in several years. Yeah, it's too expensive, but it's also just too loud. You don't realize it when you're watching at home but the music blares from the speakers virtually anytime the ball isn't in play. That's traditionally when we'd get to discuss strategy and compare notes on who's doing well and who's not and how in our softball game last week we got a clutch hit in just this situation... I'm fine with "Enter Sandman" when Mariano Rivera comes in to save a ballgame, and "New York New York" when the game is over, but the music nowadays is relentless. This is all in an attempt to whip the crowd up, to convince us we're excited and having a good time - even if the game is a blowout. And most of the music is crap.

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Music as torture

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It sounds like a joke, so it was no surprise that when we first learned of music being used as an "enhanced interrogation technique" there were lots of jokes to be heard. But we're not talking about being in a store and feeling like the music being piped in is going to drive you crazy. We are talking about music deliberately being used in way that can drive you crazy. You can walk out of a store; prisoners cannot escape from the loud onslaught of the music they're subjected to.

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Turn the page - if you dare

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You've probably never given a second thought to the page-turner sitting or standing unobtrusively behind the pianist at a concert - and that's the way it should be. Page-turners, and their opera counterparts, the prompters, are like offensive linemen in football: you only notice them when they do something wrong. Their job is to be invisible, and to enable the star to do his/her job, whether that's negotiating a long and difficult sonata, or surviving the murderous charge of a 300-pound linebacker clad in hard plastic armor.

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Eminem's relapse

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I've liked Eminem since "My Name Is," his first real hit back in 1999 and a song which, while full of vulgar and violent imagery, also had something unexpected going for it - a sense of humor. With "Stan," his chilling tale of an obsessed and possibly murderous fan, Eminem ...

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a note on final notes

Monday, May 18, 2009

The opening of the 1983 film The Big Chill begins with a group of former college friends coming together for the funeral of one of their number. We don't yet know anything about him or them, but when the funeral organist launches into the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get ...

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The Hills Are Alive With The Sound of Noise

Friday, May 15, 2009

Most of us think we know the difference between music and noise. Bach, the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, Celine Dion, Youssou N'Dour... you may not like all of them, but they're clearly music. The garbage truck on a Saturday morning when you're not quite ready to wake up, or ...

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The New Sound of the String Quartet

Thursday, May 14, 2009

In 2000, I brought the Opus One Piano Quartet to Memphis to play at a public radio conference. Their cellist, Peter Wiley, and I got to talking about the various things he'd been doing - among them, playing the cello in the fabled Beaux Arts Trio - when he confided ...

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previously on the blog...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I've talked before on the blog about soundtracks, and how they can be more than simple background music - most recently, last week when Jim Jarmusch joined us. But Michael Giacchino's music for the hit ABC television series Lost is an interesting case. For one thing, we don't expect ...

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... and a side of Beatles please.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A restaurant tells you a lot about itself by the way it's lit and by the way it sounds. Bright and noisy, with pop and classic rock at full volume means eat your food (but maybe don't pay too close attention to it), have some drinks, and see who's at ...

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"born in a small town"

Monday, May 11, 2009

I hadn't noticed a particular upswing lately in the number of country songs proudly and loudly proclaiming their creators to be Small-Town Boys. (And girls, I suppose, though this does seem to be mostly a dude thing.) But then, I don't pay attention to the contemporary country scene all that ...

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AM I SHOUTING?

Friday, May 08, 2009

I'LL BE WITH YOU IN JUST A SECOND! I JUST WANNA HEAR THE END OF THIS SONG! 'CAUSE I REALLY LIKE IT, YOU KNOW?! OK - WAIT. THERE, I'LL TAKE THE EARBUDS OUT NOW! OKAY, SO... oh. Okay, so I guess maybe I was shouting a little. It's just that ...

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Jade Simmons Performs on WNYC's Soundcheck

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Concert pianist Jade Simmons performs live on WNYC's Soundcheck with John Schaefer.

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Music: luxury or a necessity at any price?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

When the economy tanks, everyone feels the pain. Even the New York Yankees, who in the run-up to the opening of the new Yankee Stadium gave every indication that they were immune to the effects of the recession, are finding themselves slashing their (ridiculously high) ticket prices in the face ...

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When music is more than just a soundtrack

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Film makers can sometimes be really obsessive about the music in their films. The late Stanley Kubrick, for example. He was notorious for falling in love with his placeholder music - the records he'd play to certain scenes before the actual film score was composed, just so he'd have something ...

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The real jazz icon

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

At first, today's Smackdown topic seems an easy one to answer. Which instrument has had the bigger impact on jazz, the sax or the trumpet? Gotta be the sax, right? I mean, sure, the trumpet had Louis Armstrong and Clark Terry and Miles Davis. But John Coltrane, Lester Young, Coleman ...

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The "Real" Adele

Monday, May 04, 2009

"Authenticity" has become a big part of the music conversation - usually among musicians and critics more than rank-and-file listeners, but still, the talk about who's raps are more "real" has certainly become more commonplace. The "authenticity" argument stalks through London's music circles too - when Kate Nash began to ...

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Was the Grinch right?

Friday, May 01, 2009

There's a scene in How The Grinch Stole Christmas where the Grinch is explaining to his hapless dog Max why he simply must stop Christmas from coming to Whoville. Being a grinchy sort, he hates all the good will and the presents and stuff, but what really gets him, he ...

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