• Visit Abrahim Ferrer's Home Town Santiago de Cuba

    30. Jun. 2009, 7:56 von Timjimuk

    Check this out. Its a music tour of Cuba with tour guide Philip Sweeney (author of The Rough Guide to Cuban Music)

    Day 1 Sun
    Today we check into our Havana hotel, meet our Songlines Music Travel Leader and talk through our musical plans.

    Day 2 Mon
    This morning we transfer to the airport and fly south to the small airport at Holguin. From here we drive to Baracoa. The town lies at the far eastern end of Cuba, a long way from the bustle of Havana. Here there is time to unwind and sample the local beaches and music scene.

    Day 3 Tues
    Today we start our exploration of the area with our travel leader, perhaps relaxing on the beach or hanging out in the town with the locals.

    Days 4 Wed
    Today we start our journey west across the island, driving first to Guantánamo Bay (Cuba’s most famous song ‘Guantanamera’, is about a woman from Guantanamo – not dressed in an orange jump suit) and then to Santiago de Cuba, our first major stop. Our hotel is in the centre of town and we are well-placed to wander out into the streets of town for an initial exploration. This evening we will probably visit the Casa de la Trova, one of the best music venues in Cuba.

    Days 5-6 Thurs-Fri
    The next three days are spent in this musical heart of the island. We have arranged a walking tour of the old city, and there are optional excursions including a boat trip; but our reason for being here is of course the music. Son developed here and it was where BVSC’s Compay Segundo and Ibrahim Ferrer started their musical careers. The wonderful Eliades Ochoa is still based here.

    Day 7 Sat
    Today we continue westwards across the island. Too many visitors to Cuba only visit the major cities and see little of the life of the rural communities that dot the island. Our drive today will correct that as we drive to Camagüey for the night.

    Day 8 Sun
    We continue west, along country roads towards the sleepy town of Trinidad. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this historic Cuban town has a laid-back feel that belies its vibrant music scene. We stay a few streets from the main square and the old part of town. In the evening we can listen to music in the square or dance until the early hours close to our hotel.

    Days 9 & 10 Mon-Tues
    Two days to get to know Trinidad. We have arranged a walking tour of the old town, and will be able to explore rumba, the much more African side of Cuban music, thanks to the Palenque de Congos Reales. You may want also to visit the beaches just out of town to catch the sun.

    Day 11 Wed
    Today we drive west again, at first on narrow country roads and then joining the main highway to Havana. With a stop in Cienfuegos en route we should reach Havana in the late afternoon.

    Days 12 & 13 Thurs-Fri
    Two full days in this musically vibrant city. We have arranged a city tour but there is also time to delve into the music of the capital, as we pick up on the mix of son, salsa, hip-hop and reggaeton that drives the city’s music scene. As well as visits to learn about the recording scene here, we will visit several major music haunts during our evenings.

    Day 14 Sat
    A last day free, for shopping, wandering or just chilling out in the city’s bars and cafés.

    Day 15 Sun
    After breakfast in the hotel our tour ends.

    For more information go to: Songlines Cuban Music Holidays and Havana Tours
  • [My Gang] Dengue Fever - Seeing Hands : Reco of the Week 11 Nov 08

    11. Nov. 2008, 23:45 von Babs_05

    Artist: Dengue Fever
    Track: Seeing Hands (full track)
    Album: Venus On Earth (2008)
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,
    Video: Click the pic...


    Today, the 11th day of the 11th month, is the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day, or the international day of peace. To mark the day, and to show my gratitude to those who fought - and fight - on my behalf, I have chosen a band and track of international flavour.

    The sound is a great blend of two traditions - western pop and eastern khmer. Those who are familiar with 50s/60s pop from across the continent of Asia will recognise themes: an eastern vocal over western , , with eastern flourishes, using instruments from both cultures. It's crossovers and blends like these that bring people together and bright, cheerful pop makes it all the easier.

    From YouTube:
    Dengue Fever is lead by Cambodian songstress Ch'hom Nimol, Zac Holtzman (guitar/vocals), Ethan Holtzman (Farfisa), Senon Williams (bass), Paul Smith (drums) and David Ralicke (sax). The band's music has been featured in a number of film and television shows including CITY OF GHOSTS , MUST LOVE DOGS, BROKEN FLOWERS and twice on the hit Showtime's hit series, WEEDS. They are based in Los Angeles , California

    From Wikipedia:
    Their self-titled debut album was released in 2003. All lyrics on the earlier albums are sung in Khmer, whilst the third album introduces some songs in English. Many of the songs are covers of 1960s Cambodian rock tunes by such artists as Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea, but some are originals, first written in English by the Holtzmans before being translated.

    A reviewer in Amazon UK makes a good point of people being quick to dismiss 'world' music sung in other languages yet finding time for bands such as Vampire Weekend and Yeasayer. For me, the leap isn't so great, having grown up listening to music from all over the world, but I can see some might need a little nudge of encouragement to give bands like Dengue Fever a try. I would agree with this writer; if you can handle western bands who cross over and draw in other influences, you should be able to wrap your ears around music that's the other way around.

    Hmm... can't say the lyrics have much to do with world peace. Actually, I don't know if it's because I'm full of this seasonal cold but I can't make any sense of the lyrics whatsoever. If you can, post a comment below and tell us.

    From LyricsZoo

    Forest of pine trees on the ocean floor
    Self-hypnotized from holding still for hours
    Drift out to sea, frozen
    Forgetting how to move muscle

    First I’m going to heat you up
    And then I’m going to freeze you
    So that you can think of all the ways you hurt me

    After thousands of years
    If I’m in a good mood
    I’ll let you crawl out, crawl out from your cave

    I’ve given you everything I have
    And you wasted it all
    Now it’s winter time
    And you can suck on a hair ball
    And chew on dry fish bones

    If I’m in a good mood
    We can go for a walk
    Roll down a grass hill
    Soak our feet in the river

    Babs My Gang

    Reco of the Week archives

    Admin - Stats as of today: listeners of this track - 5,164 (full track)
    No. of plays scrobbled in - 17,401
    Position in Last 7 Days: 4 / 230
    Position in Last 6 Months: 4 / 2,724

    Date Added: March 07, 2008
    Views: 55,046, Ratings: 138, Responses: 2, Comments: 72, Favourited: 402 times

    Stats after 7 days: listeners of this track - 5,311 (full track)
    No. of plays scrobbled in - 17,841
    Position in Last 7 Days: 4 / 281
    Position in Last 6 Months: 4 / 2,724

    Date Added: March 07, 2008
    Views: 58,910, Ratings: 150, Responses: 3, Comments: 81, Favourited: 430 times

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  • The Beta Code

    22. Jul. 2008, 6:22 von Babs_05

    It's a funny thing in my life: people tell me their secrets. I don't know what it is. I used to think it was my open face and winning smile but even on the internet, people tell me things.

    I won't tell you who told me but I'll tell you what they said. And if I find I can't log in tomorrow, I've got this article saved...

    Let's unravel the mystery, shall we?

    Let's start with CBS, one of the largest radio and television networks in the United States with a great portfolio, now including As a business, they need their assets to perform whilst at the same time meet their needs. So it was that at some point last year, a new release was promised by, one that would fix all of CBS's problems.

    What might those problems be? Let's make some intelligent guesses and arrive at some assumptions:

    * improved advertising
    * new business, ie attract more users, ie target mainstream audiences
    * better incorporation of CBS data, ie their back catalogue
    * better promotion of artists (CBS artists?)
    * a more up-to-date look
    * room for future growth
    * CBS and senior managment probably signed off a vague paper which wasn't more than a list of ticked boxes. The 'creatives' would do the rest.

    What came next was a year's worth of mismanagement and ignoring of 'creatives' on the shop floor. Writing code which wasn't going to be released for 8 months was a recipe for disaster and a disaster it was. The silver bullet promised by senior management didn't work. Understandably, after waiting a year, CBS wanted to see results. What was taking so long? Get it done! And so it was an unfinished beta was released to over 21 million users worldwide.

    It's the old story, isn't it? You have senior management who make all the decisions; middle-management who are effectively the go-betweens; and the shop floor who do all the work. It's people on the shop floor who always have the closest relationship with a company. And it's senior management who are the most disconnected. The go-betweens can work for good or evil, depending on the point they want to make. We all have our stories...

    The new look went live on Thursday 17 July 2008 at 4.45pm, British Summer Time. There was no announcement or forewarning but that's not unusual, I have never known them to make a big announcement prior to a new release in all the years I have been here. There was an immediate backlash and staff on the shop floor were left to cope on their own, without any guidance or support. I noticed throughout beta testing, whenever they put a foot wrong or revealed a little too much to us, they were punished, yet the vague directions they had to go on weren't fleshed out. If communication between and users was lacking, it was even worse back at base. If you think we impassioned users don't like it, imagine how heartbreaking it is for those staff who have been there for years.

    Where do we go from here?

    Effectively, what we have right now is an open beta, which means the site is being built and tested whilst in use. We are testing the new site as we go along and it is up to us to report bugs as we find them; remember to mention which operating system and which browser you're using, and don't forget to mention if you have a disability and are using any additional systems. We can request new features for consideration in the final version. Staff are going through all our feedback. It's exciting to see them go through. Recommendations on the Music landing page? Mine. Claimed! (at least, I think it's mine...) With only one site to look after and with any luck, it should be a much smoother process than when trying to maintain two.

    To find out known issues and what teams are working on, go to the Forums (at the bottom of the page), and in particular this thread: Site Update: KNOWN ISSUES (Updated 21 July). Frequently asked questions are answered here: Site Update FAQ. To find out what will definitely be added in the future, go here: Previously Suggested Ideas 3 (!). To leave your feedback and suggestions, go to the Feedback and Ideas forums. To report bugs, go to Website Support.

    Some users are working on 'survival guides'. I will add those journals to this one as and when I find them. If you are writing one and want me to add it, please give me a shout.

    Well, I feel much better. I have been sitting on this information for a little while and I look forward to sleeping soundly and not dreaming about beta bugs or drowning in my Library.

    Hope I can log in tomorrow...

    Babs My Gang


    * Journal: 4.45 - beta goes live
    * Journal: I can't believe it's not beta...!
    * News stories bookmarked by me: StumbleUpon
    * The thread to read: this one

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  • 4.45 - beta goes live

    17. Jul. 2008, 16:17 von Babs_05

    Today, at 4.45pm (British Summer Time),'s beta site went live.

    It's nowhere near ready, however, maintaining one site will be a lot easier than managing two, so it makes sense. The next few weeks will be difficult whilst we get used to not having certain features.


    * Reply Tracker / Grapevine - yet to be added
    * New message indicator - don't know if this will return
    * Group Descriptions - don't know if they will return. All data is lost for now
    * Forum Search
    * Proper music search - cannot search by artist or track in drop down mini menu
    * Certains URLs will no longer work, eg tag radios, journals, because information has changed

    and many, many more.

    There have been some very important changes to user permissions. Non-subscribers will no longer be able to listen to other people's tag radios. Non-subs may listen to their Playlists but only full tracks will play in full and they will have to click on each next track to hear more. See here for the reason why. have made an announcement in their blog:

    For those of you who are veteran users, you’ll notice we’ve taken a step back to make our feature set more coherent. Don’t worry, we haven’t taken much away*, just re-organised.

    Along with putting straight our clutter, we’ve cleaned house too: the user interface has been re-aligned to be a more robust foundation for features to come, and we’ve updated the look and feel. This is an evolution of the interface, and it won’t stop developing either—we’re inspired by iterative change and dedicated to adapting the service.

    *A few missing pieces will reemerge, phoenix-like, in the coming weeks. I’m looking at you ;-)

    The beta has been eight weeks in testing and is not over yet. We are still all invited to head to the feedback forums for our input. Note, that's the Feedback and Ideas forum, not the Beta group.

    Reported in The Times, UK today:

    Revamped boasts 'smartest' ads on the web

    Interactive advertising will be at the heart of the next generation of web marketing, says the social music site

    A new type of web advertising that interacts with the site on which it appears is to make its debut on, the social music site., which announces a major relaunch today, will start showing advertising that can tap into the community features of the site, making adverts more engaging, the site said.

    An example of the new "smart" adverts displays an image of a mobile phone handset which changes according to what the user is doing. For instance, if someone is listening to Bon Jovi, the phone would appear to start playing a Bon Jovi track, showing off its MP3 player.

    Hotel chains will be able to tap into a user's list of favourite artists and display adverts for hotels in cities where those artists have upcoming gigs. Train companies, similarly, will be able to advertise services running to other music-based events that may be of interest to the user.

    "It's really about using the functionality of the site to help the brand come up with an ad that is more immersive, and entertaining," Spencer Hyman, the chief operating officer of, said.

    He cited a recent example of a partnership with Motorola, where the company sponsored a new feature on the site which allowed a user to get a customised print-out of a festival programme, showing bands they were likely to enjoy based on their music collection.'s technology enables the site to recommend music to its users by analysing what they have in their collections and how often they play songs. That information is then compared with similar data from other users who listen to the same music, via a process the site calls "scrobbling".

    The site interacts with iTunes, Apple's music software, and updates its recommendations every time a user listens to music using the program. It also employs a team of "music scientists", who constantly mine the data produced by the site to match particular genres of music with certain demographics.

    Advertising that targets groups or individuals by monitoring their web behaviour has attracted criticism from privacy campaigners. Phorm, which conducted trials of targeted advertising earlier this year, was accused of invading people's privacy by tracking every website that they visited.

    The Information Commissioner's Office ruled that Phorm did not breach pricacy because it did not collect information that would identify individual users, but the system may now face a challenge from Europe. Viviane Reding, the EU communications commissioner, said yesterday that she was concerned about the British Government's lack of action.

    "It is very clear in EU directives that unless someone specifically gives authorisation [for web tracking] then you don't have the right to do that," Ms Reding said, according to the Dow Jones Newswire.

    Mr Hyman said that web advertising had always been able to target customers because of the information sites had about their users, citing Google, which tailors adverts according to what a person is searching for., too, had run targeted ads, he said, giving the example of a British bank which wanted to target Polish builders. The site was able to deliver adverts to people who listened to Polish music or who were in the UK but using the Polish language version of the site.

    Increasingly, however, the success of web adverts would depend on making them more engaging, Mr Hyman said. "The reason TV ads have been so effective is because there has been a whole creative industry behind them," he said, suggesting the web had been slow to catch up.

    Among the features of the newly relaunched is a "recent activity" list which alerts users to what their friends have been listening to, a bit like the news feed on Facebook and the ability to share recommendations more easily., which is based in London, has more than 1.5 million users in Europe, according to Nielsen Online, 10 per cent of which are in the UK. The site was bought by CBS, the US television network, for $280 million in May last year.

    Source: The Times, UK

    Related journal: I can't believe it's not beta...!

    Babs My Gang

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  • Calling All Artists... !

    11. Jul. 2008, 21:07 von Babs_05 Group: Central Point: where artists and listeners meet

    I've started a group in where artists are invited to self-promote - the more shamelessly the better! - and where we listeners can browse, investigate, find stuff we may not otherwise come across.

    Join policy is Open to all. I only made it Owner Approval so I can say hello.


    You probably already know you may not 'spam' in, however that means it's harder for you to get the word out. In Central Point, you are invited to start a dedicated thread all about You. Tell us who you are, where we can hear you, if you have any free mp3s, where we can find you elsewhere on the net. Anything you want us to know, this is where you can advertise.

    The same goes for all service providers: all of you who are DJs, have radio shows, podcasts, etc. Keep us up-to-date on your news and activities.

    Bloggers: add yourselves to The Blog Directory.

    On my part, I tag all artists , thereby creating a global radio. Click on the link to see how it stands. We haven't limited the love and we've also been tagging other artists who may not otherwise get much exposure. (see this thread to find out who they are). If you would like to hear who's on board already, try the Boss's tag radio.

    If you know anyone who'd be interested, pass it on. Spread the word.

    Do you like my Index? I did that. :D

    Ok, that's your announcement from the Front Desk.

    You can find me in The Kitchen.

    Babs Central Point: where artists and listeners meet

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  • What To Do With Tracks You Love, Love, Love

    16. Aug. 2007, 20:48 von Babs_05

    It all began with Wack Wack. Where to put this so I can hear it again and again, as often as I wanted??

    Thinking cap went on... had a brainwave... build that playlist thingy that's been staring me in the face tantalisingly for ages!

    Wack Wack went straight in.

    But I need a shedload of tracks to make it work. Now what? :s

    Thinking cap went on... had a brainwave... go through Top Tracks, pick a few, and at the same time, play my Top-Rated track in my iTunes. And try and keep up! All before dinner and tonight's episode of 'House'.

    I rather like the nice little mix I'm making. Crosses every genre I like, and all tracks are those I hit 'Love' repeatedly for every time they come on.

    For my next trick, I shall be visiting your page - yes, YOURS, and nabbing whatever takes my fancy. ; )

    Can you see this? It's the selection of tracks in the playlist. There are 53 so far, but there will be plenty more. I've barely scratched the surface. In there, there's folk, rock, alt-country, proper country, electronica, ambient, world, opera, classical, contemporary instrumental, experimental all-sorts, film soundtracks, pop, disco, dance, trance, jazz (and indie, whatever that means nowadays). The criteria is they have to just utterly beautiful, or plain fun. That's it, that's all.

    I've added tracks that don't have blue or gold triangles yet. One can only live in hope and maybe they'll be here too, one day.

    Happy listening! : )
  • Thoughts and Questions

    2. Aug. 2007, 2:28 von Babs_05

    Going off the beaten track. Down dark alleys with just a torch and my fingers crossed, hoping I'll be ok. Being brave and trying anyway.

    Trying to find out about music that the press doesn't cover, that there is no convenient MySpace page for let alone a next-to-useless artist's own website, is already proving frustrating and I've only just started. Sometimes, there's a reason why there are so few listeners, and it ain't nothing to do with quality! } I

    I don't mind being challenged, that's fine, I expect that. I do mind being insulted. You can't make any old racket, slap a label on it and call it music. Sorry, it doesn't wash with me, not even if you tell me you come under some fancypants underground über-cool genre. Not impressed. Look at my face -> : / Basically, it's not enough.

    I don't know what other people do, but I try to let my instincts guide me. The advantage of hearing something before everyone else is I don't feel obliged to agree/disagree with other people. (Self-esteem issues, I'm sure). It's just me and the music and I get to decide for myself. I like that.

    On my list of non-mainstream sources to check out are:

    * join groups that specialise in genres I'm interested in, or that focus on non-commercial/non-mainstream music

    * try tag radios that people have built

    * listen to 'artists similar to'

    * listen to tagged genres, eg

    * browse for reviews and journals

    * ask people

    * search the web for specialist sites, eg the latest in Bollywood, latest folk news, etc. Then read them all regularly! :s

    * listen to specialist radio online, eg SOAS

    One thing I'm a bit stumped on is how / where I'm going to find out about the latest news in classical and opera. I know I could read the Sunday papers, but that's not good enough because I can't hear what they're talking about. In any case, I'm not very impressed with the current stable of Russell Watson, Russell Watson, Katherine Jenkins, *cringe* Charlotte Church, and then yet more flamin' Russell Watson. I am also not keen on bratty conducters imposing their will* on classical music, so I think I might have to accept I'm a Royal Philharmonic Orchestra girl and just leave it at that. Which is rubbish because how can I call myself a music reviewer if I'm having trouble with an entire world of music?? Does opera have to stop at Maria Callas? Seems to, for me.

    This new project of mine is going to be difficult because I want things now. Yesterday. But I don't want anyone else to do the filtering for me. I want to do that myself. In order to do that, I have to subject myself to stuff I don't like (and yes, utter dross). So I'd best keep some paracetamol handy, huh?

    edit * ok, except for maybe Leonard Bernstein.