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Notes from My Listening Room #38
By Josh Bizar

We have two Joshes at Music Direct. It's normal to have people with the same first name in most any workplace, so it shouldn't be strange to have a second Josh. But it's not the most common name and now, for the first time, I am understanding what all the Jims, Johns, and Jennifers experience at their jobs. At least once a day, Other Josh and I both spend a bit of time fielding each other's calls. On the bright side, doing so gives us extra opportunities to stay up to date with one other. So it's really a blessing. No, really, it's not annoying at all to have a second Josh at work. Ha!

Our Other Josh is Josh Rudner, and he instantly became an excellent addition to our team. Not only does he possess a deep love for all the gear and music we sell, he happens to be one of the nicest guys around. He is helpful to anyone who can benefit from his expertise, be the subject New Orleans jazz, great food in the Bay Area, or the best bike paths to get around town. And he has vast experience with a wide variety of high-end gear, which makes him an invaluable asset to our customers.

I spoke with Other Josh a few days ago. We were discussing all the shows we had tickets to see but which had been cancelled due to our current situation. Both of us love live music and can't wait to get back to cramming into clubs and other venues. Josh mentioned he was thinking about writing about all the live music being broadcast for viewing over the Internet. What a great idea. There is so much great music available to stream in our homes nowadays. With the goal of keeping us up to date with our favorite artists until we can get back out there with them in the real world, these streaming shows are heaven sent. Please check out Other Josh's guide and click a few of his links. You will get lost in an endless sea of concert footage, just like us.

The Real Josh

Virtual Concerts to Watch While Under Lockdown
By Other Josh (aka Josh Rudner)
I've been into live music since sneaking into to my first concert when I was 14 or 15. I saw my local hometown heroes, the metal band Corrosion of Conformity, and I was immediately hooked! Ever since that fateful night, I've been attending all manner of live shows and festivals. With none of the latter on the horizon and musicians under lockdown like the rest of us, many artists are streaming past performances or putting on virtual concerts.

During the past few months, I've spent considerable time comparing the audio quality and features of the various live streaming platforms. I hope you find my simple guide useful and discover some great music to help pass the time.

Everyone knows YouTube, but what you may not know is the quality of its streams is awfully good and no where near as compressed as many other platforms. I've really been digging Public Access, Jack White's Third Man Records live series. Pedal-steel guitarist Luke Schneider's performance was especially memorable and not your run-of-the-mill set. I've also been enjoying The Birdhouse, a live DJ broadcast from a Berlin rooftop. It features a variety of DJs and musical styles, including house music and techno.

This popular social networking platform features countless live streams. Conveniently, it notifies you when an artist you follow starts a broadcast so you don't have to worry about missing a show. Most performance are also archived, which allows you to go back and listen to them later. The downside: lackluster sound quality. Nevertheless, I've been enjoying Sample Slayer Sundays from DJ Triple B. Displaying encyclopedic music knowledge, he flawlessly mixes jazz, funk, soul, rock, and reggae to create hybrid hip-hop, R&B, EDM, and more. It's a great way to start your Sunday. Also, one of my favorite jam bands, Widespread Panic, has a series called Never Miss a Sunday Show. It's a free webcast from the group's Nuggs.net archives and remains a real treat for us Spreadheads. Plus, it serves as a fundraiser for the Garrie Vereen Emergency Fund established to support musicians, artists, crew, venue and bar employees, and everyone who makes the world-renowned Athens entertainment industry thrive.

With more than a billion monthly active users, Instagram is an extremely popular platform for live feeds. Like Facebook, it offers a useful feature that automatically alerts you when artists you follow start a live feed. The downside is the sound quality ranks among the worst of all the major platforms. Another downside: Live feeds remain active for only 24 hours before they disappear. The good news is artists often broadcast on multiple platforms, so it's easy switch to a different platform with better sound quality. I've especially been enjoying the tribute mixes from Questlove of the Roots. So far, he's paid homage to Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, and Prince to name a few. And if you're into 90s R & B and slow jams, producer 9th Wonder continues to deejay from his deep music collection.

Twitch is predominately a platform where gamers can broadcast themselves playing live video games. However, it has rapidly become one of the most popular platforms for music artists to broadcast live performances and incorporate visual effects. Since it is built around video streaming, the platform allows a maximum bitrate of 6000 kbps – enough bandwidth for both audio and visual broadcasts. Twitch offers outstanding sound quality and a very enjoyable listening experience. And its user-friendly layout makes it easy to find, follow, and see who's broadcasting live. One of my favorite electronic artists, Bluetech, has regular broadcasts three times a week. He's a master at sound design, and the visuals he incorporates with his sets enhance the overall experience. I also recently discovered Colin Benders, who puts on live modular synth performances. There is just something cool and fascinating about a wall of analog synthesizer modules with wires going all over the place.

Nugs.net is the premier live music on-demand platform. It grants you access to more than 15,000 full-length concert recordings from bands like Pearl Jam, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant, Widespread Panic, Phish Dave Mathews Band, and Dead & Company. Nuggs also features a hi-fi service that offers CD-quality lossless and MQA streaming for shows recorded in 24-bit audio. I'm a big Widespread Panic fan, so it's been great checking out past shows in high-resolution quality.

May 22, 2020

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