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The KPAC Blog features classical music news, reviews, and analysis from South Texas and around the world.

Dublin Drag Orchestra by Way of Alternate Routes


Thanks to my Facebook friend Lauri Pearson for setting me up for today's Alternate Routes. Lauri is a real listener, a true fanatic of music who does the mid-day shift at Magic 105.3 FM. Although she and I do most of our listening within different genres (there's more overlap than most might imagine), Lauri's observations about music are almost always spot on.

Today she referenced a blog post by Bob Lefsetz where he describes himself as "famous for being beholden to no one and speaking the truth, [addressing] the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself."

I browsed over to Bob's blog, The Lefsetz Letter, and did some reading within a post titled "Everybody Knows." Although I could never quite get the Leonard Cohen song by that title out of my mind as I read, I nevertheless distilled a few things as food for thought. Under the sub-heading "The sound of mp3s suck" he writes:

"People just don’t care. They don’t want to sacrifice portability. A higher res format will not succeed by telling people what they’ve got is bad, but by creating something so incredible people flock to it."

Bob goes on with a three part list: Everybody Knows, What Everybody Should Know, The Silver Lining. It's interesting and provocative reading, the sort of thing which makes me wonder what the world of music would be if the creators of the music and the performances were truly allowed to be creative.

Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra once gave the directions: "When you get to the fork in the road, take it." I did and I found myself reading about a new record label called Heresy Records. Eric Fraad is the lead man at Heresy, and his concept is to work closely with the artists to produce a product which is "sophisticated, well thought out, idiosyncratic and memorable."

"We decided to create the most elegant product we could – the audio is high resolution, the vinyl is the heaviest we could source and the printing for the graphics and photography use special inks," said Fraad.

Whoa! Vinyl? Mr. Fraad was describing a project of two limited edition vinyl issues by the Dublin Drag Orchestra, DDO for short and hip. Deja vu all over again! (I flash back to Yogi and also to the earlier reading of Bob Lefsetz. Bob's advice to bands is: don't make albums, make singles.)

Credit Heresy Records

Now I'm looking over Mr. Fraad's DDO project. The latest consists of two vinyl singles, just out for the holiday season. Heresy's description piques my curiosity: "two special limited edition 7" vinyl Singles for the holiday season, 'Christmas 1912' and 'One Minute to Midnight, New Year’s Eve 1912.'" Limited edition means only 500 copies of each. When they're gone, they're gone. I don't know about you, but I'm ordering mine (before I publish this and let you in on it!).

I've rather enjoyed these alternate routes which have revealed Heresy's DDO projects; down one route I've found a double CD which includes 5 Latin American tracks on the disc "Viva Frida!" This is mostly 17th Century music from Mexico, perfect fuel for my Latin American program: "Itinerarios." I've ordered that, too, so listen for it soon on the radio.

I'll close this before that next fork in the road, but first one more note from Bob Lefsetz, which I hope provides some food for thought as we near the year's end:

"With so much stimulation at hand, few want to be outsiders, alone in their bedroom honing their chops. Everybody wants to be famous. Music has become about marketing as opposed to talent, and the public can tell the difference."

Happy Holidays. Please take the time to check out DDO and Heresy Records. You'll notice some differences. At least I did.

James first introduced himself to KPAC listeners at midnight on April 8, 1993, presenting Dvorak's 7th Symphony played by the Cleveland Orchestra. Soon after, he became the regular overnight announcer on KPAC.