November 2014

 

When Thanksgiving was weird

Author Linton Weeks tells a great story you don’t read often about Thanksgiving on NPR.

“People — young and old — got all dressed up and staged costumed crawls through the streets. In Los Angeles, Chicago and other places around the country, newspapers ran stories of folks wearing elaborate masks and cloth veils. Thanksgiving mask balls were held in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Montesano, Wash., and points in between.

In New York City — where the tradition was especially strong — a local newspaper reported in 1911 that “fantastically garbed youngsters and their elders were on every corner of the city.”

Thousands of folks ran rampant, one syndicated column noted. “Horns and rattles are worked overtime. The throwing of confetti and even flour on pedestrians is an allowable pastime.”

It must have been like a strange American dream.”

If you have time take a read. There are great photos and interesting stories. On this Thanksgiving week please remember to give thanks for what you have: your health, your well being, that you have food on the table, friends and family. Not everyone does.

Product of the year

Wow. Well, I feel like a proud papa. DirectStream, Ted Smith’s ground-breaking DAC that upconverts everything to DSD, was just awarded Digital Product of the year by Stereophile magazine in its December 2014 issue.

We shared the honor with two other fine companies this year, MSB and Sony. In that same issue we also were awarded Editor’s Choice for DirectStream. Robert Deutsch comments: “What I really find exciting about it is what it does with CDs. As processed by DirectStream, CDs sound better than I’d imagined was possible..”

And Robert’s right. Lest we get too wrapped up in the idea of high resolution downloads, DSD masters, etc. let’s not forget our CD collection. If you are like me, the vast majority of my music is CDs and this DAC brings out all you’ve been missing. And, as Robert discovered, you’re missing a lot.

Sprout ships

Sprout, our all-in-one integrated amplifier has begun to ship. At last count there were several hundred out the door and more on the way.

Those of you that generously supported Sprout via our Kickstarter campaign will be getting yours soon. Each and every Sprout is hand tested, packaged and wrapped up lovingly by our crew in Boulder. Pictured is Isaac Velasquez, aka “Dallas” putting one of the cool little integrateds together.

The reactions from those that have received Sprout have been very gratifying.

“Got Sprout today and have put it through some basic paces – flawless!  Bluetooth conncectivity is quick and solid, control feel is butter smooth and workmanship on the unit top notch.  Packing is fantastic – double boxed and shrink wrapped to boot!”

“Sprout seems to add a lower octave that wasn’t there with my previous set-up. Didn’t matter what I played, it was all solid. Sprout was especially kind to some restored Nat Cole trio stuff from the 30’s and 40’s–it all sounded much better than it had a right to.”

Handel in the air

“Pianist Daria van den Bercken fell in love with the baroque keyboard music of George Frideric Handel. Now, she aims to ignite this passion in others.”

Here’s a wonderful holiday gift I wanted to share with you. This amazing Ted Talks video shares the music of a composer I’ve certainly heard but hadn’t yet fallen in love with. If, by the end of this video, you don’t share the passion for Handel’s music as Daria Van Den Bercken, I feel for you. ‘Tis a shame because this music is wonderful.

And boy does she take it to extremes!

Enjoy, and drop me a note and let me know what you think.

Saying goodbye

We said goodbye to a dear friend and mentor, Harry Pearson, this month. Enough’s been said and written and I do not want to get sad again.

Apropos to the subject, our classical music expert, Lawrence Schenbeck, writes in this month’s Classical Corner of Five Farewells: Dufay, Bach, Bruckner, Mahler, Strauss.

It’s a great article filled with musical snippets showing what Schenbeck’s writing about: farewell musical compositions from five great composers. It’s a highly recommended read and listen this month.

Click here to enjoy.

Jaco Pastorius

“One night after a Weather Report concert in Miami, a young then unknown electric bassist approached the band’s keyboardist, the late Joe Zawinul, and discussed their performance. The soon-to-be phenom commented that they were alright, but he expected more. He then introduced himself and boldly proclaimed that he is the world’s greatest bass player! Joe was not amused and used some very colorful metaphors in telling this obviously arrogant nut to leave.

The arrogant nut was none other than Jaco Pastorius, truly one of the great bass players in the world.

You can read the rest of Keith Copeland’s article by clicking this link.

Until December

We hope you and yours have a wonderful, friend and family filled holiday this week. Plus, winter’s approaching quickly, so make sure you stay warm – unless you’re down under and putting your bathing suit on.

Have fun and see you next month!

Paul McGowan