Highlights of 2012: Hopscotch

One thing I had to look forward to for almost all of 2012 was Raleigh’s Hopscotch music festival. Kelly gave me Hopscotch tickets as a Christmas 2011 present and for months just thinking about the show made me smile. When September showed up I was ready to go. And you know what? It lived up to its hype!

I scoured all the local websites and picked the brains of my musically hip friends to find out what bands to see. Some of those suggestions were unbelievably good while others were so-so. With a festival as big as Hopscotch you can usually find something that you like.

I decided at the end of the festival the perfect plan for picking what to see at Hopscotch. I will take all the band suggestions gathered from friends and music authorities and then go see all the other bands! I found the most interesting bands were the ones that no one was talking about. Those gems made it all worthwhile.

I hope we can go again to this year’s Hopscotch so it can make next year’s list of highlights!

Giving the gift of music to Gates County

As I walked out of my son’s piano recital at Ruggero Piano last month, a colorfully-painted piano, decorated with pencils, caught my eye. A sheet on a nearby music stand carried an explanation:

My name is Arnav Subramanya. I am asking for your help in obtaining a new acoustic piano for a rural elementary school in Gates County, North Carolina.

Last year my brother performed with a group at several elementary schools in the eastern counties of our state. He came back with horror stories of elementary schools which thought that a 51 key casio with no pedals and no speakers was a piano. I doubt very much that the students sitting on the gym floor 15 rows back even heard the music being played!

I decided to do something about improving this situation. I can’t fix our country’s budget deficit; but with your help, I can change the musical lives of 1500 elementary school children in one district. To achieve this goal a fund has been set up at Ruggero Piano. 100% of all money donated is going towards the purchase of a studio piano, to include delivery, 2 years of tuning, and a “truck”/dolly for the piano to sit on.
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Mali: no rhythm or reason as militants declare war on music

Here’s an update on the deteriorating situation in Mali from the Guardian’s Andy Morgan. Islamic militants have declared “war” on music in northern Mali.

The pickup halted in Kidal, the far-flung Malian desert town that is home to members of the Grammy award-winning band Tinariwen. Seven AK47-toting militiamen got out and marched to the family home of a local musician. He wasn’t home, but the message delivered to his sister was chilling: “If you speak to him, tell him that if he ever shows his face in this town again, we’ll cut off all the fingers he uses to play his guitar with.”

via Mali: no rhythm or reason as militants declare war on music | World news | guardian.co.uk.



Ever since I’d missed out on the Afro Cubism show at the North Carolina Museum of Art earlier this year, I’ve been doing a little volunteer work with Friends of World Music, setting them up with a new website and keeping its Facebook page up to date. In my work of updating these pages, I learned that Grammy-winning artists Tinariwen would be coming to Carrboro’s ArtsCenter on a Saturday night. From the moment I learned this band was coming I knew I had to go. Last night my expectations were not only met, but wildly exceeded.

When they took the stage in their traditional Tuareg garb I really didn’t know what to make of them. The audience was also a bit hesitant. Before long, though, the crowd was clapping along. Soon a dancing group of audience members took over the area in front of the stage.
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SiriusXM’s awesome customer support

I have been enjoying a 6-month deal from Sirius XM to keep my satellite radio running but that deal runs out tomorrow. I called SirusXM to find out what the cost was to renew it or if I should cancel. It turns out the same 6 months for $25 is still in effect, so I was easily able to renew. What’s even better is that it was almost free for me as I had a $21 balance on my account.

To get my radio renewed I had to wade briefly through a voice-response system, which I detest. As soon as I’d selected the “cancel” option, though, I was connected with Sally, a woman with a Midwestern accent in SirusXM’s Listener Care department. Sally had just the right amount of small talk and business, chatting about her dirty glasses before finding my information. Her folksiness conveyed readily over the phone and I never heard any apologies for “slow computers” or other excuses. In short, I can tell Sally loves her job and I have no qualms spending more money with SiriusXM. Heck, she almost had me ready to buy the company’s higher-priced service.

In an age when many companies outsource their call center operations and treat customer care as an afterthought, I was delighted to discover SiriusXM treats its customers right. Outstanding job, SiriusXM!

Rights, wrongs, and royalties

So for my audition Friday night I decided to buy the sheet music for the song I sang, Somebody’s Baby by Jackson Browne. An outfit called sheetmusicplus.com sold me the song’s sheet music for $5.

After thinking it over a bit I realized just how absurd a price that is. I can buy the song in MP3 form for a buck with Jackson Browne singing and playing it (far better than I can), or I can spend five bucks and do all of the singing and playing myself. Seems a bit backwards that with the sheet music I’m paying more and getting less.
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Hopscotch weekend

Way back at Christmas, my lovely wife Kelly got me two Hopscotch tickets for my present. This weekend we cashed them in during Hopscotch 2012.

It was everything I’d hoped it would be. We saw many, many bands from the start of Hopscotch Thursday evening until our last show around midnight last night. Kelly’s parents stayed with us and took care of kid duty while Kelly and I got out to see the shows.

We’ve had a busy day today and so I have not had time to properly blog about my experience but I hope to catch up a bit tomorrow. As for tonight, I’ve got a lot of sleep to catch up on and won’t be describing my incredible Hopscotch experience tonight (yes, it sucks getting old).

Good night, y’all!

Little Raleigh Radio attracts a crowd

Little Raleigh Radio

Last night a volunteer open house was held at Kings Barcade for Little Raleigh Radio. It seems the publicity the station got from the recent write-up in the News and Observer drew a crowd of over 75 potential volunteers, ranging from radio newbies to grizzled radio veterans.

It was inspiring to see all the support. I could hardly sleep afterward, I was buzzing from all the energy!
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