Where to sit for a concert?

You walk into a venue to see a concert first thing that comes to mind after coat check and getting your snacks/drinks/merchandise is, where should you sit? Excellent question, depending on the venue and what ticket you paid for you could get a designated seat, a general area, can go any way.

Standing Floor: Standing floor is an option for general admission, the cheapest ticket and can sometimes be the only option for a certain venue. The positive side to standing floor is you can get closer to whoever is playing that night and get some kind of interaction from the singer or band. The downside is that you wouldn’t be the only one in standing floor. Personal space would be violated, you’re pushed up against others or the barrier separating you and the evening’s act, and getting out would be harder than getting in the crowd.

Balcony: For a more aerial view, balcony is a good option. you’re able to sit during the act, relax, and get good pictures without worry about someone bumping into you. For some places you pay a little extra, sometimes that is not the case either. But the compromise is that you’re not close to the entertainment and if your eyesight is not as good as it used to be, it can be hard seeing from that far away.

VIP Seating: VIP seating, the most prime seating and with the extra perks. More expensive than the others but with certain VIP packages you see the performance from front row, or backstage, you meet the band, extra merchandise, autographs, etc. It is a financial commitment to invest so much into a concert and would be very hard to reschedule or get money back, plus if this is for a show or a musical artist you don’t appreciate or prefer not to see, it’s better not to spend as much money you would for a different band. On the upside, the experience would be unforgettable.


Ticket Scalping

In recent news, congress has passed a bill to ban bots or computer programs that buy event tickets first and resell them for a higher price. This goes for music, theater events and any kind of popular event where a ticket purchase online is needed. Its a seedy business and I am personally glad to see that action is happening to end it. Sites like StubHub charging you a higher price than what its retailed at originally but with no tickets to sell from the original sites, they’re cheating you out of your money. I have heard horror stories of buying tickets off the street in front of the venue but then figuring out that the tickets are fake. In simple words, you are being robbed of your money.

Now some phone apps and online sites are in the gray area of scalping. Such as the app Gametime, that sells music and sports events tickets up to an hour before the event starts. I have used the app before when going to a hockey game in Vancouver B.C. the day before it actually happened. I was called by a real person to confirm my tickets, and I got a fairly good deal and was able to enjoy myself when going to the event. I can see where some more investigation and research can be needed for this bill for local startups like Gametime.

Its a good start to a problem that has been going on for years with many victims trying to get in to see their favorite band.

Christmas is here, song suggestions for the season

It’s November 25th, you turn on the radio, maybe 94.5 KRTY here in San Jose, you’re going to get Christmas music. You might be thinking, “not another Christmas song remake, where can i find the good stuff?” Here are five songs I personally think should be added to any Christmas playlist this season.

Mariah Carey, ‘All I want for Christmas is You’

This Christmas beauty was released in 1994 and has been argued a classic, I would agree. Heard in the holiday movie “Love Actually,” this song gives you a Christmas song you can groove to that ‘Silent Night’ cannot. Its a great reference on the internet, its hard to get tired of it, bust a move this holiday season with this gem of a song.

David Bowie and Bing Crosby, ‘The Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth’

For a slower song mixed with a little of the old and with a little new during the 70’s on Crosby’s Christmas special, ‘Bing Crosby’s Merry Olde Christmas.’  With Bing singing ‘Little Drummer Boy’ and Bowie singing a countermelody of ‘Peace on Earth’ giving the song  a new refreshing twist for both songs. Such a collaboration was interesting to see, with Bowie recently releasing his ‘Heros’ album and sweeping the world with his new and one of a kind style. This song is perfect for a slow down for your Christmas evening.

Wham! ‘Last Christmas’

You have to admit, sometimes there is such thing as too much synthesizer where it can be very cheesy, but its the holidays, this song has enough cheese. Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’ is for all those heart breakers and the heartbroken out there with the 80’s feel for anyone not feeling as cheery this holiday, but still catchy to sing along to.

Idina Menzel and Michael Bublé (Baby It’s Cold Outside)

With a more updated version, Menzel and Bublé duet to this holiday classic with Buble’s jazz filled vocals complimenting Menzels clear theatrical voice. From the ‘Frozen’ star’s holiday album, this song is one for the couples and loved ones to stay in for the night with each other’s company to a song that has been sung through out the years.

Johnny Mathis ‘Sleigh Ride’

At first an instrumental piece written in the 1940’s and later with lyrics ten years later, the Velvet Voice Johnny Mathis did his own rendition in his christmas album, ‘Merry Christmas.’ This song is a personal classic for me, being that he was a first choice for my grandmother on Christmas day making food for the family. With me finding an interest in him would play this particular song over and over again until told to stop. This upbeat bouncy song of a sleigh ride in the snow is sure to put a smile on your face when played.

Music 101: Time Signature

To go along with our music theory, time signature is very important on sheet music, it helps with the style and the “speed” of the piece of music a musician is playing.

The most common time signature for a piece of popular music is in 4/4. This means that in a measure of music, you count four beats, that could be four quarter notes, ( one beat per quarter note). Also two half notes (two beats per half note), or one whole note (four beats per whole note). It can be a combination of any of the notes as well such as two quarter notes and a half note.

For time signatures there is also 3/4 (three beats per measure) or 2/4 (two beats per measure). The bottom note also changes as well. The bottom note means what kind of notes to count. With 4/4 it means you count by quarter notes, if its 2/2 then you count by half notes, or if you see something like 6/8 your’re counting by eighth notes (half a quarter note) but six beats in the measure. Most of the time you will see 4, 8, 16 for the bottom numbers.


Music 101: The Saxophone

This instrument is well known in the music world that can be used in different genres including jazz, rock, pop, etc. The saxophone is part of the woodwind family (flutes, clarinets, etc.).

It is played with two hands, the right hand toward the bottom of the instrument and the left hand at the top of the instrument with each finger on a key except the right thumb will be on a thumb rest to hold the instrument and the left thumb will be on the octave key. Like the clarinet and its octave key, the octave key on the saxophone changes the notes to a higher octave, same notes, but sounding higher than the original notes.

The saxophone consists of three pieces, the mouthpiece where you place the reed and play into, the neck, and the body that curves up to the bell. where the sound is expelled along with the openings along the body the keys are covering.

The most common saxophones used are the B flat soprano, E flat alto, B flat tenor, and E flat baritone saxophone. the B flat soprano is the smallest of the four that plays a higher range of notes that has physical similarities as a clarinet. The E flat alto saxophone that starts to curve the bell upwards The B flat tenor saxophone physically looks like the E flat alto saxophone but bigger to the point when sitting down it has to be played with the saxophone body to the side of the leg. Lastly, the E flat baritone saxophone stands at three and a half to four feet tall with the bell reaching almost to the neck of the saxophone and having the lowest range of notes out of all four saxophones needing a strong steady stream of air to be able to play.

With many variations of this woodwind instrument, all four play with singular reeds that are held on to the mouthpiece by a leather or metal strap to have you blow a steady stream of air to make a note from the instrument.

Music 101: Trombone

Similar to its brass relative the trumpet, much longer, lower range, and looks a little funny and has been used in comedy sketches and movies. The trombone has some different physical differences. Depending on what type of trombone you receive, you might get a trombone that has valves on the tubing by the bell.

This two meter instrument is just like the trumpet, has tubing that starts at the mouthpiece and ends at the bell. It has a slide you hold onto with the first and second brace, using your left hand to hold onto the first brace and your right hand to hold to the second brace to slide the slide to make certain notes. The tuning slide is up at the top of the trombone and can be removed for cleaning. The slide and mouthpiece receivers are what hold the mouthpiece and the bell piece together and can be taken off or put on by twisting a ring to tighten or loosen the grip. If you don’t want your slide to move anywhere while sitting, or walking, you can use the slide lock to leave it in place by the mouthpiece receiver.

Playing the trombone is very similar to a trumpet, but the difference is the mouthpiece you play into is larger and the tubing is farther you need more breath support to be able to make a note that can be helped with breathing exercise that focuses and strengthens on your breathing helping you play longer and a stronger breath for larger instruments like the trombone or even for a tuba. When playing a note, there are certain slide positions that make a note, the slightest movement can change the note to either going flat, or sharp depending on what note you’re trying to play. It is an adjustment but can be fun to play.

Music 101: Trumpet

This instrument, I have not personally played myself, but i know many friends and acquaintances that are professional/student musicians mastering the instrument. You have most likely seen this instrument if you’ve ever been to a jazz concert, or maybe even a rock concert sometimes a band will have something called a “horn line” with a trumpet, trombone, saxophone, etc.

The trumpet is made up of multiple parts. Starting at the mouthpiece where you use your lips to make a buzzing sound to making a note on the instrument all the way to the bell at the end of the instrument where the notes expel from the instrument. In between we have three valve casings that hold the valve pistons. The valve pistons are cylinders with holes in them that you press down into the casings to make a note. there are three valve slides that can be removed to be cleaned and are positioned to help the musician playing the trumpet change the pitch. The long tube that starts from the mouthpiece all the way to the bell is the leadpipe. Any bumps made to the leadpipe can create a change in the tone of the trumpet.

A trumpet is easy to clean, I hear friends who play trumpet how they give their trumpets baths. Now that is something your’re unable to do with a woodwind like a clarinet or a saxophone because that can ruin the padding that covers the holes in the instrument. Now a brass instrument like a trumpet or a trombone can be exposed to water because there are no padding or water sensitive pieces to the instrument.

Playing the instrument is a interesting transition from a woodwind instrument to a brass instrument. The mouthpiece is round that has an opening that gets smaller. You have to put your lips together and make a small opening at the center of your lips to make a steady stream of air. To change the notes you press down on the valve pistons to make a combination of notes. Who knows? Maybe you’ll be the next Miles Davis or Louie Armstrong, you don’t know unless you give it a try.


Presidential Inauguration: Who will play?

On January 20th our new president will swear into office in front of the capital building with thousands of people in attendance. Over the years, at the inauguration standing in the cold, or inside at the inauguration ball there have been performances and musical guests playing for the president such as Aretha Franklin, Kelly Clarkson, and even Beyonce singing for both the 2009 and 2013 inauguration of President Barack Obama. But the big question for 2017 is, who will play for president elect Donald Trump?

There have been musicians in 2016 who have expressed how they felt about Trump, from making statements to the media, or even writing songs about him in a bad light, just as the band Death Cab For Cutie has with their song, “Million Dollar Loan.” There was an announcement from Trump’s staff  that Elton John would be playing for him, but later John responded by strongly stating that he would not be playing in the inauguration.

This is a sensitive situation for performing artists. The country is at odds about Trump becoming president in January and musicians can have influence over fans but can also lose fans with one move. If accepting this opportunity, they are telling their fans who they support politically and that can help them, or fail them if their fan base don’t share Trumps political and personal views.

There is recent news that young vocalist Jackie Evancho will be performing at the swearing in ceremony for president elect Donald Trump. Evancho is a classical vocalist that is 16 years old, she has sang in the talent competition America’s Got Talent at the age of 10 years old and winning runner up in the show and continued her singing career up to today. She has performed many venues and events and has said that she is excited to be performing in January. With a young voice performing at the event, it should be an interesting day in Washington D.C.

Electric Daisy Carnival

Electric Daisy Carnival is coming back to Las Vegas. From June 16-18 you can attend the festival with eight stages, artworks, performers, and rides spread out at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Tickets have been on sale and can be purchased for $355 for General Admission, and $699 for VIP.

I personally ave not been to EDC but I have been to an outside festival and can imagine some similarities and what is to be expected if you do decide to go. It is not announced who will be performing on their official website but will be announced a month or two before the actual event happens. In the past there has been The Chainsmokers, Dash Berlin, and even Bonnie X Clyde who are known in the electric dance music scene.

Colorful scenery is expected in Las Vegas, fun and full of excitement for all there in attendance with activities to do such as riding on carnival rides and they even perform marriages if you have a loved one you want to share your life with that share an interest in this festival.

Remembering Leonard Cohen

The recent death of Leonard Cohen back in November of 2016 was a great loss for everyone in the industry and fans everywhere. A poet and a songwriter, he is well known for writing his song “Hallelujah” which has been covered by hundreds of musicians such as Rufus Wainwright and Willie Nelson and many others. Cohen is also known for his songs, “I’m Your Man” and “Ballad of the Absent Mare.” You’ve heard the saying that some wines get better with age? The same thing happened with Cohen and his deep rugged voice.

Cohen won many literature awards and have been inducted in both the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his folk and soft rock music that have been covered for their great lyrics. The world lost a great writer that day but people will still be singing his songs.