Neil Young – Live in Omemee, Ontario

Neil Young – Live in Omemee, Ontario.

Neil streamed live from his home town in Ontario [before he moved to Winnipeg] last night for an hour and a half

Very intimate. Played by himself in a small hall built by the same architect who built Massey Hall [where a somewhat recent live album was recorded]. He played mostly old standards with a few new songs, often politically relevant, thrown into the mix.

He played on a several acoustic guitars, two pianos, at least two harmonicas and an organ.

This is my favorite style of Neil Young concert. By far. Even though I love his electronic stuff and his, uh, more experimental stuff [and love that he does, in fact, experiment with different music genres]. But the intimate venue, with his ability to put so much emotion into his voice [and last night his instruments as well], with the emotional responses from the audience so readily audible, it is just such an honest and forthright and compassionate and human an experience. Hard to find these these days where the vibe is more, as he put it, “bringing out some old ideas – like marching criminals through the streets”.

We watched it streaming on Facebook. It was also shown live on a Canadian TV network.

He mentioned the live stream a few times. Neil seems to have a love hate relationship with technology. I remember him working many years ago with Sun Microsystems [now Oracle] to develop a fuel-less car [out of an old Chevy or something. Sorry, too lazy to look it up myself]. And of course more recently PONO [the technology of which is now branded as MQA… without, it appears to me, Neil’s okeedokee].

Anyway, at the end of the concert, he said something to the effect: “.. and these days, a lot of you were probably watching 12 other things at the same time. Keep on doing that. We still love you.”

Sonically, the sound was good. As good as these things ever get, I think, from listening to lots of YouTube music concerts over the years. The Facebook player kind of stopped working after about an hour, and we had to reload the page finally, missing the first half of Helpless. The bass on the at least one guitar didn’t decay as rapidly as one might expect, but this might have been the way that it really sounded.

And they sounded awesome. I was thinking that if I ever got another acoustic guitar, I wanted it sound like these. These, old, beat-up, obviously well-loved guitars. I do not think any of the soundboards [the area around the sound hole] had any color left on them, the finish and maybe even the veneer [if any] worn clear through. He spent sometime showing how a guitar from Steven Stills, who purportedly got it from a musician who got shot while playing a Neil Young song [kind of a wink at fake news], and showed how the front soundboard had a significant area of the wood replaced, where the bullet went in, and how he had finessed the place where it came out [if this was truly a bullet’s trajectory, my guess is that it would have missed the musician at the time]. Guitar sounded great by the way.

Similarly, he brought his very old pianos with him as well up here into the wilderness of Canada [and we complain about shipping speakers up there]. And an old tree stump that was given to him by the “First Nations” down in Nebraska many years ago when trying to bring attention to the problems caused when we try to run leaky oil pipelines long distances.

The concert was both a homecoming of sorts and an attempt to raise money for the school where his father went. It also helped publicize that the Neil Young Archives are now open [recommend logging in with Facebook or Google and NOT TYPING YOUR PASSWORD there – it is an unsecure page].

The songs of the new albums sounded great, can’t wait to add it to our collection [one of our largest].

Neil Young – always from the heart and still relevant after all these years.

 

 

 

 

Mike Fremer welcomes us into his home on YouTube

Mike Fremer welcomes us into his home on YouTube. Went up day before yesterday. We liked it. 🙂

A few comments:

So many records!

Here is somebody who listens nearfield to large speakers, people. Everybody with small rooms [us too, now], take heart!

Comparing analog with digital on that system is somewhat disingenuous – his analog stack is significantly superior to his digital stack. The best digital comes MUCH closer to the best analog than his digital.

The uncomfortable cautionary tale about the stroke victim really is some sage advice to us all to tell our significant other to hire an ‘expert’ friend-of-the-family’, or at least a ‘trusted expert’ to sell the records [and gear!] after such a tragic incident [assuming we did not want to listen to music after a stroke, which you know, is so WRONG].

I presume the making of this video, and Mike’s mention of each component he has bought and paid for, was prompted by a rash of reviewers whose whole system is on semi-permanent loan [and saying good things about that gear, and only that gear]. This says something about his sincerity when he says he likes these things, and lends authenticity to his recommendations. These sort of distinctions seem to be beyond the ken of many people these days – as we grow more and more accustomed to consuming bite-sized opinions on FB, Twitter and YouTube as facts – but glad someone is shining a light in the darkness.

Stereophile is not paying Mike enough. And the weird thing, for me, is that people seem to think that being an ‘underpaid journalist’ is to be expected, even for someone who is at the top of his game as the preeminent journalist in all of high-end audio. Stereophile, the top publication in high-end audio, should pay their top journalists enough to afford a mortgage on a modest home / apartment [in Joisy, of all places] and to purchase tools-o-da-trade like this level of system, which, seriously, is not all that outrageous of a system [the analog signal path seems quite well designed, in fact]. Certainly over the course of his tenure at Stereophile, just his salary should be enough to cover this level of investment in gear and more, IMO.

So many records!

 

 

San Francisco Opera in the Park

We attended the San Francisco Opera in the Park yesterday. Sharon Meadow, Golden Gate Park.

Sharon Meadow was filled up…

We were up-prepared for it to be so unnaturally sunny (for SF) and unnaturally warm (for SF), so all by itself, that was memorable.

The quality of the performance…  was shockingly good. I mean, we listen to a fair amount of opera and classical music here. In my opinion, the sum total of the performance, the musicians taken together as a whole, was better than just about anything I have heard before. Perhaps many albums focus too much on ‘stars’ as opposed to performances?

The quality of the sound… it was amplified. A lot. It was perfectly loud back where these were taken. So, not very high fidelity. There was good immediacy, but the midrange sometimes had a ‘falsetto’ washed out color to it, and the upper bass had minimal decay and sounded more percussive and dead than it should. Similarly the upper mids could not handle much complexity at volume, which is somewhat familiar as many classical CDs have this problem – maybe to do with the microphone being overloaded?

Copland’s arrangement of “At The River” sung by Jill Grove, San Francisco Opera in the Park [sorry about the abrupt start]. There were many others I should have recorded, which are more my cup-o-tea, but this is what we got.

 

The view from Hippie Hill. We *love* San Francisco! [and the air was better here than in Palo Alto. What’s up with that? There wasn’t much of a breeze at all from the Pacific either, but maybe it was just the proximity to the ocean that made the air a little more human-friendly].