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Monday, September 24, 2007

No Time Like the Future

Today's YouTubeness (with thanks for the link from is a SNL performance by Devo covering "Satisfaction". I guess I'm on a covers kick or something. These guys were always ahead of their time, and I guess they're still ahead of their time today! What's interesting is that even though they were all about the "future", at this point in their devolution they were entirely guitar-based.

I saw Devo back in 1980 as google so kindly reminds me. One game we used to play at Merriweather Post Pavillion in my hometown of Columbia, MD, was seeing how close we could get to the stage, eluding the ushers and security people. For this show I had seats pretty far back, but at the opportune moment I zipped up to the pit, the front row in fact. Usually this would last only a bit until the rightful seat owners returned to kick us out, but as luck would have it they never showed up.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Video Friday!

Today I thought I would do something a little different here. My friend Ted sent me this awesome video by The Zimmers, a version of "My Generation" for "persons of a certain age".

The second video is a bit more serious, but just as inspiring. Randy Pausch is a Computer Science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who recently gave his last lecture at CMU. Prof. Pausch is terminally ill with pancreatic cancer and has a very short time left to live. The lecture is 2 hours long, but is presented in 10 minute segments on YouTube. Here is the first part. You can visit YouTube for part 2 and beyond HERE.

Have a great weekend.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Q&A With Ted Johnson

I recently asked Studio 713's Ted Johnson a few questions about his music. Ted has played in numerous bands featured at BitWorks Music, including National Holographic, Johnson-Hendrix, Groove Stream Attractor, and Smokin' Granny.

BitWorks: How did you start working with Joe Hendrix?

Ted Johnson: Joe and I met through an ad I put up at the Music Loft in Carrboro, NC. When he showed up for our first jam session, I was impressed with the state-of-the-art synth gear he owned and the fact that our improv styles seemed to mesh well. I recorded our first session together which I later mixed down as the CD "Midnight at the Power Station." This CD has its moments but will probably not be released in its current form. I may extract ther best bits from it for a future "From the Vaults" collection.

BW: Tell us about the progression of the 4 albums you have released so far, 3 of which are now available for download.

TJ: All four albums were assembled from material that Joe and I recorded at Studio 713 over a two-month period. The music are spontaneous improvisations recorded in real time with no overdubs. Typically Joe and I would agree on a tonal center (e.g., Am) before beginning a jam and then let things evolve as we played. I would characterize the resulting music as spacey ambient electronica.

BW: How do you select your album artwork?

TJ: I listen to the music and see what images appear in my mind. I read a lot of science fiction so the images often relate to space probes, other worlds, time travel, UFO's, etc. I've been fortunate to find art work that matches these images by artists who are willing to let me use it on the album covers.

BW: What are your other current projects?

TJ: I'm currently working on a sequel to my solo CD "Ambient Realms." I hope to have it finished by mid 2008.

I also play with Groove Stream Attractor and National Holographic. Like the Johnson - Hendrix group, these bands specialize in spontaneous improvisation. (BitWorks features CD's from both groups.) I've also been fortunate to meet several other musicians in the Chapel Hill area that enjoying getting together for jam sessions when time permits. Several times a month, Studio 713 hosts a jam session for four or five musicians drawn from this pool. To date, these sessions have produced over 40 "home-brew" CD's that I distribute to the musicians and our friends. I hope to remix and release the best material from these sessions as official CD's through BitWorks. But first we need a name for this amorphous collection of players. Any suggestions?

BW: What is your current studio setup?

TJ: "Ambient Realms" was recorded entirely on a computer system using Sony Acid. However, I use stand-alone recording equipment (mainly a hard-drive ADAT system) to record most live performances and jam sessions. Since there is typically no vocalist at the jam sessions and all instruments (including drums) are electronic, we can send all parts directly through the board to the recorder (no microphones are used). A headphone mix is sent to the musicians. I use both powered near-field monitors and headphones for mixing. I like stereo FX so I have lots of outboard gear attached to my guitar and synthesizers.

BW: Do you have a message for your fans (and the rest of the aliens)?

TJ: I don't know whether I have any fans, but I'd definitely like to colloborate musicially with any interested aliens. You can reach me at

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Johnson-Hendrix: "Time Machine"

"Time Machine" is the 3rd BitWorks release from Johnson-Hendrix, the first of the 2004 trilogy from JH, with part actually recorded during 2003. We will have an online interview with Ted Johnson next week chatting about his various projects. Until then, you can purchase TM in lossless FLAC and high resolution MP3 and listen to the samples by clicking on Johnson-Hendrix from the BitWorks Music catalog.

In other news, we are making some improvements to the site, so expect miracles any day now!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Coming Attractions!

Labor Day weekend in the U.S. This weekend marks 10 years since my band Smokin' Granny performed at the annual Prog Day Festival in Chapel Hill, 1997. It also marks 10 years since the death of Diana Princess of Wales. We opened up the set on Sunday morning with this performance of "Ghost Catcher Box" dedicated to her memory. (You can stream it here without downloading the MP3 file.)

But enough about history--time to present the present! I know all of you have been glued to your screens awaiting the forthcoming release of Unit Vector's debut album, "Off the Tilted Edge". The album is complete and will be here very soon, available for your download enjoyment. Photon is hard at work on his multimedia album design. I am very excited to have the opportunity to release this album, as Photon has been one of our biggest supporters here. The Unit Vector sound is composed sampled and synth tones woven to create unexpected textures. I especially like UV's mix of string orchestra samples with other, more otherworldly sounds. This release will also incorporate the latest presentation software from BitWorks Music.

My mad geek skills have been in overdrive in the past couple of weeks to expand and revolutionize album layouts. If you are an artist, you should check out the demo album I have put together. Contact me for details.

I will close this holiday post with yet another exciting announcement. Can you deal with this much excitement? We will be releasing Johnson-Hendrix, "Time Machine" this week. Ted reviewed the album and has given his Studio 713 stamp of approval to release, so .. just a bit more uploading of the FLAC version of the album to go.

Have a nice remainder of your weekend. Don't forget the sunscreen, drink lots of liquids, and drive safely if you are.

Now if I stretch my head out the window and apply my maximum Spidey sense I might just be able to hear the crowds gathering for the 2nd day of Prog Day 2007, not 10 miles from here..