Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Rock this town .. with Beninghove's Hangmen!

If you've been wondering what to put on at your latest party, or just looking for some good time music which isn't schmaltzy type slick R'n'B, or Lady Gaga, then look no further here's Beninghove's Hangmen. In fact just at the moment when you were wondering what could possible fit in between your John Zorn, Shock Headed Peters (*), The Lounge Lizards, Nino Rota and 3-Mustafa-3 records along comes this fine raunchy band lead by naturally Brian Beninghove, a saxophonist with a mission, or so it looks like if you check out his website. Here he's following up on a sort of retro music that mixes film noir, punk, rock-a-billy and of course a slice of jazz. It's a great mixture of 'genres' which as I mentioned earlier is easily digested in plenty of situations, and like John Zorn's vision of the world of film noir and all that surrounded it Brian Beninghove obviously knows his references in this style. The album comes across as a suite, although I don't know if this is intentional, as the tunes don't link up or segue into each other, it's more a matter of coherence in the writing style that produces this effect. The tune's titles say much about the music and it's stylistic references, with names such as 'The Puppet-master', 'Tarantino (tarantella)'  or 'Jack Miller'(**) one can't miss the film, pulp fiction or comic book references.

To add to all this excitement is the fine sax playing of Bryan Beninghove who plays some splendidly screaming solos, completely in tune with the atmosphere of the music. The other players are no slouches either with some excellent guitar playing from either Dane Johnson or Eyal Maoz ... yes there's two guitarists, so whilst one is holding down the fort the other one gets a chance to rock (***). Both guitarists really let rip, balancing rocking chord player with feedback or raunchy distorted solos that risk taking your head off. It's nice to hear the blend between the various instruments, there's no ultra long sleep inducing solos, not on the album at least, just interventions with plenty of punch delivered at just the right moments. The front line of sax and trombone (the excellent Rick Parker) keep a good balance between pastiche and modern jazz when playing melodies such as Xopo (tk 2) a klezmer/Greek/Bulgarian horo type theme. Or Sushi Tango (tk 7) with it's retro melody which moves into party mode in the middle before returning to the serious elegance of the initial tango. In fact all the tunes have something on offer, Mingus like jubilance Roadhouse (tk 11) and even a ballad (of sorts) which signs off the album Film Sketch 1 (tk 12). There's not much to add really, if you like plenty of punchy music mixed in with fine themes that conjure up other worlds, real or invented, then try this one. Remember one more important thing ..... PLAY LOUD!

The Puppetmaster (tk 6)

* = Do they still exist?
** = I guess this is John Jack Miller the crime writer, or maybe it was the screen writer who wrote some Tex Avery screen plays, or was it Jack Miller of DC comics fame?
*** = If you enjoy two guitar format, and especially something with plenty of hard rocking energy and sophistication, then don't miss out on an excellent Canadian band - Fond of Tigers. Highly Recommended!

Friday, 20 April 2012

GEMA verses YouTube

Just avery quick posting after noticing this article on GEMA (the German copyright society for Music, and Arts) who claim that YouTube owes them, and if they win probably all the other music publishing societies out there (SABAM, PRS, SACEM etc), a LOT of money! Of course everyone has their own opinions, but it seems clear to me that posting music on YouTube doesn't hurt anyone, as long as you're not making any money from it, in fact it's quite the opposite. 

As a musician (who has some videos of himself - but never posted any - on YouTube) I see no problem as long as the performers are happy with what's posted. One stands to have some excellent publicity from being found there. Of course if they're (the musician/s) not happy there's an easy solution - ask for it to be taken down! Small artists who work in jazz and other alternative music fields use these possibilities, which after all are free of charge, uploading videos of their own concerts as publicity material, passing on links to festivals, clubs, pubs and any other people that may be interested in hiring the band/performer. 

A few other things that should be known about performing rights societies.....

These pirates DO NOT pay out royalties to smaller artists, only to large boycotting record companies and advertising groups who naturally own the rights from television commercials or films (*). In theory all money collected from unspecified rights (i.e. general music licenses in cafés, bars, restaurants etc) should be equally shared between performers who belong to these societies. But do not be fooled, it is not! The thinking behind this lobbying is that probably the only music that's being played in a bar is that of someone famous, and not a 'non commercial' artist. That means (in real terms) that only the top earners get a percentage of the money collected - i.e. Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, U2 etc. Other artists get either nothing, or a 0.002 of a Euro-cent.

What this all means is that I have no sympathy for the likes of GEMA who will be being pushed by much larger and heavyweight companies who feel they should get more money than they're due. I should also add that the smaller artist will again suffer if this ruling goes through.

What happens when I wish to upload my own work, will I have to pay royalties to myself? Performing rights companies wouldn't do this, would they? The answer at the moment is yes ... strangely enough. In Belgium when you make a record you're OBLIGED to pay the SABAM up front royalties - of 1000€ - for making a record. Theoretically you get it back later, but in some cases this doesn't happen - if you have a faulty pressing and have to re-press you obliged to pay a second time!! You are NOT aloud to print a record or CD without a bar-code unless it's under 50 copies. Of course if you have a bar-code ... you have to pay, even if you don't want any money back, and/or are not interested in registering it in a copyright society (who rips you off anyhow). At the moment Belgian musicians are fighting their local SABAM who wish to pay light music and classical music less money and pay more to jingles (commercials). The reason for this is lobbying from the music companies who own the commercials and consider that they should get a larger slice of the pie! 

Meanwhile back at the original thread ....

Anyhow, back to GEMA verses YouTube. I hope that someone gets their brains working in the legal department of the internet and YouTube and throws out this ridiculous ruling. If large famous pop groups don't wish for people to see their videos, hear their music tracks on YouTube, fair enough, take them down. For the rest of us leave us alone, and mind your own business. 

* = Recently a large film company took an English pub to court because the pubs name was The Hobbit - the pub had been named that for many years. However the film company said that the pub was cashing in on the name. Can you believe it?
 **= Some of this information maybe not 100% correct as I just route this off the bat. But as a musician I can certainly vouch for most of it.
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