How social media and the internet are changing the way pop music sounds.

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If you haven’t read it yet, go read Taylor Swift’s op-ed in the WSJ.

While not a riveting novella or groundbreaking piece of original research, it is an interesting read, with interesting insights and at least a glimmer of optimism, something we could use more of right now. In it Ms. Swift says “In the future, artists will get record deals because they have fans—not the other way around.”

That reminded me of a theory I’ve been kicking around for a while now  — that pop music actually sounds different because of social media and the internet— the Ho Hey singalong chorus is taking over.

It’s simple. Now more than ever “likes” and “fans” and “followers” drive revenue directly.More clicks and more eyeballs means more money. The two are directly related. It even manifests itself into real estate transactions down to the level that the fortune 500 companies (mostly franchises) grading of real estate to determine how many eyeballs dry by a given site on a given day as do websites etc. Traffic = sales = revenue, it’s very simple. More traffic = more money, virtually and in reality, going both ways.

No secret there right? So what does that have to do with the actual content of a song?

Just listen to some popoular songs and you will hear the musical manifestation of artists trying to mimic “likes” and “followers” in song form.

Every time you turn on the radio there is a chorus of 10 or 20 people singing along with the artist during the chorus. The chorus has an actual chorus singing in it <– see what I did there? Yes that is where the chrous gets it’s name, it’s supposed to be singable by a chorus, I get it.

So go listen to songs like:

Ho Hey  – The Lumineers

Demons – Imagine Dragons

Pompeii – Bastile

I will Wait – Mumford and Sons

Happy – Pharell Williams

A light that never comes – Linkin Park and Steve Aoki

American Kids – Kenny Chesney  (even country gets in the act see also every Brad Paisley album recently released)

These songs all follow s similar formula. A guy alone with his contemplative self thinking about stuff and then BAM – instant group of followers all singing in agreement. The songwriter just hit the like button a million times. Sounds like Kickstarter, Twitter or facebook or – (fill in the blank technology company)

It’s the the musical equivalent of a million “likes”. It’s like saying, this artist got a whole army to sing along with him. Many people like them. They must be successful, therefore they make a lot of money. Therefore they must be valuable and I shall like them as well.

I’m not saying I agree with the tactic, or if it even works but I am saying that the ongoings of society may actually be driving the aesthetic decisions of musical artists even if they are sub-rosa or even just coincidental.

No different than the roaring 20s and jazz. The 60s and rock and roll. Or the 70s – coke and disco. The 90s grunge —all the music reflects the times.

Todya’s music is built to make you feel like, a lot of other people like it.

It’s social music…

…with a built in feeling of all your friends agreeing with you and singing along right there in the chorus.

The music industry has rediscovered the value of a singable chorus, that can actually be sung by a chorus. <– sorry did it again :-)

It also helps that mega music festivals are also a thing, with huge flocks of folks flooding the doors and singing along in real life. Yeah real life, so there’s that too.

So there you have it – social media is actually changing the way music sounds.

I’ll leave you with parting words from one of my musical heroes, Dave Grohl who said, “Don’t bore us, give us the chorus.” And I couldn’t agree more.

 

Before the Flood – 0 for 5 on the PM

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We hit the Pere Marquette flies only section on Saturday and apparently so did every other fisherman north of the Mason Dixon Line. Most of the snow was gone, there were steelhead in the river and the forecast was good. Consequently, the people were out in full force. We were fishing with Steve Martinez from peremarquetteguide.com and stayed right on the flies only section at the Red Moose Lodge. Steve is as professional, personable, and amazing as a fly fishing guide can get and the Red Moose Lodge is clean, convenient, affordable and no hassle.

We hit the water late, 11:00 am to bat cleanup and try an avoid the crowd by letting the unwashed masses go ahead of us. As it turns out, most of the other smart folks had the same idea — crowd not avoided. So we leap frogged boats most of the day.

The good news is, there were still plenty of fish in the river. Right off the bat we had a couple good follows from decent browns and one small resident rainbow to hand. So there’s that.

By the end of the day when we hit the honey hole the fish were there in plenty of numbers. Our spirits were only slightly dampened by the rain that moved in.

My wife hooked up first on the indie rig. It spit the hook. That was her first taste of Steelhead and she looked pretty stoked, and soaked.

I jumped out of the boat and waded thigh deep to position myself for the swing on the 11′ switch rod. Then I hooked up to a nice male who boiled and tail-walked a couple times before spitting the hook. I hooked up another nice fish on the swing a few minutes later who alligator rolled me into a real mess before making like Houdini and escaping. The river was up. The current was strong, and the pull was perfectly intoxicating. My wife hooked up another and it promptly ran into some fallen timber and broke her off.

It was 45 degrees, raining consistently and shooting cloud to ground lightning every few minutes or so. Signs were pointing towards heading in, and eventually we did.

By the time we got to the ramp it really started pounding the big rain drop you usually see int he tropics. When the boat was just hitting the trailer, the quarter inch hail started pummeling us. By the next morning over three inches of rain fell. Flood warnings were issued, and we hit the road for home.

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Catching up

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M ike Schmidt on the Salmon River swinging flies and rocking a full SmithFly get up. Hook it up.

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated over here.

I’ve been so busy over at SmithFly this thing has taken a back seat, and it may just get retired here soon in favor of a blog on SmithFly.net.

In Jan, Feb and March, I logged 16,000 miles on the road and visited 16 states showing off our SmithFly gear. I met a TON of great people and sold a ton of stuff. It’s been an awesome, start to the new year! New year, hell it’s April, Q1 is toast – but it was a dandy.

We’ve added two great new dealers to the network the Deleware River Club and MyFlies.com. We have more deals in the works. So things are really growing quickly.

We have a BIG deal in the works that could give SmithFly a huge boost of exposure and we are really stoked about that, stay tuned.

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A great shot from the talented Russ Schnitzer of me at the Denver Fly Fishing show standing in the booth in front of our new retro wordmark.

 

Sometimes your home water surprises you with a late breaking curve ball.

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Sometimes your Home Water surprises you with a late breaking curve ball.

Last weekend I snuck away for the quintessential October evening of fishing. Everything was just right.

The Great Miami River was low and clear, a rarity I cherish. The air was cool and dry. The sun was setting. The breeze was moving enough to rustle the drying yellow leaves but not blowing enough to warrant a wind breaker. It was one of those days.

The fishing was understandably slow due to the low and gin clear conditions. The water was also unseasonably cool which  made the smallmouth a little more hesitant. So I wasn’t expecting to knock anything out of the park, a nice single into right field would be fine.

I waded to some known sections and felt not a nibble.

I noticed that one particular pool, one usually fairly difficult to access because of swift currents and wading obstacles, was fishable.

Some teenagers had just finished wading through it in blue jeans. There were four of them, two guys and two girls. The one couple waded through piggy back style, the guy acting as horse. The other couple waded separately. The young girl opting for the ankle deep riffle below the bridge run. Her blue jeans darkened in the water and she sreiked and giggle as she slowly made her way across. When they re-united onshore there was some hugging and horse play under the bridge. Then they left and headed for home, across the bridge.

As they were watching me cast and walking back across the bridge a fish hit my little black wooly bugger. They watched as I hand lined it in and pointed at me from the bridge. No doubt saying something along the lines of , “oh look he got one.”

It was an average fish. I snapped a couple photos and let it slip back into the current seam.

I fished on to no avail but plenty of enjoyment at just being there on an October evening, enjoying the weather.

I got home transferred the pics from my camera over to my computer and  was shocked! That was not an average SMALLMOUTH! It was a Largemouth, from a spot that shouldn’t have ANY Largemouth in it. Fast current cold water temps — not what you would think of as typical Largemouth territory, but there it was, a beautiful little Largemouth.

It was the perfect  late breaking curve ball that I hit into right field for a single on an October afternoon.

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SmithFly Invents Way of Attaching Fishing Gear to Coolers

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SmithFly Invents Way of Attaching Fishing Gear to Coolers
Cooler Kilts Help Small Watercraft Fishermen Carry and Store Gear

DAYTON, OH (October 22, 2013) — Innovative fly fishing gear maker SmithFly Designs will launch the Cooler Kilt, a one-of-a-kind product enabling pouches to be attached to coolers, on November 25.

By snapping directly to a cooler, the Cooler Kilt keeps gear consolidated, out of the way, and easily accessible. It was designed for people fishing on small watercraft, including stand up paddleboards, kayaks, and micro skiffs, as well as spin-and-bait casting fisherman and hunters.

Many anglers keep coolers on board of their watercraft to carry water, lunch, snacks, and beverages. They also carry cumbersome bags that are intended for wading. SmithFly owner and fisherman Ethan Smith set out to design a product that easily enables people to attach their gear directly to the front of their coolers.

“There wasn’t a good solution for carrying fly boxes and tackle on the water while fishing from smaller, more nimble boats,” said Smith. “Now you can haul your gear and your beer in one trip from the truck to the boat. The Cooler Kilt lets you put your stuff right where you can access it, without any hassle.”

Cooler Kilts are made in the U.S.A. and will be available in five sizes accommodating cooler sizes from 25 to 65 quarts. They’re constructed of 1000D Cordura, and feature multiple rows of Mil-Spec nylon webbing with one-inch tactical bar tacks. The back of each kilt has snaps that attach to coolers. The snaps are available as stainless steel self-tapping screws similar to those of boat covers, or as pressure sensitive adhesive pads with snap heads.

Preorder for the Cooler Kilt, which starts at $45 (including shipping), is available beginning on October 28. For more information and to place a preorder, visit smithfly.net/2013/09/21/cooler-kilt.

About SmithFly Designs

SmithFly Designs offers American made fly fishing vests, tackle bags, waist packs, belts, and pouches with interchangeable parts that enable fly fishermen to customize their gear. It was founded by designer and fly fishing blogger Ethan Smith in 2010 and is based in Troy, Ohio. Visit smithfly.net to learn more.

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Acquiring someone else’s problems — a new project ’74 FJ40 Resto/mod

Never one to shy away from LARGE PROJECTS, I’m contemplating a new restoration prjoect. A basket case trail rig 1974 FJ40.

I’m not sure about this one, I don’t really have the time, the money or the space, to take it on, but she’s calling my name.

When I was sixteen years old I used to drool over a 40 that was for sale in front of the Sub shop in town. I couldn’t afford it at the time. It was this same color, it might be the same one, albeit more consumed by the ravages of rust and wheeling. I’ve wanted one ever since. For now this is my opportunity and I have a hard time saying no. We shall see, it’s all contingent on getting the title sorted out.

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A wooden rowing frame and matching oars for a Towee – it can be done, and it works!

Over the weekend I completed a project that took more time than I had anticipated, a wooden rowing frame and matching set of oars for my Towee Calusa.

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Todd and the good folks at Towee make the SRO Rowing frame from Aluminum. I love the design. However, I splurged on the boat and spent a little more than I would have liked to get the Calusa model which features more options like bow bulkhead and cap, flat floor, extended back bench, storage under the bench seats etc. All those features are items I need and use. Ad to that the trailer and the motor and I was capped out on the spending. So I opted to forgo the SRO Rowing Frame in favor of rigging up one those myself.

My father-in-law is a dab hand with the welder, as in he used to teach welding classes and build fireplace inserts, so after a quick look over the basic structure of the Aluminum rowing frame he was confident that we could fab one up in his shop.  But after returning home I decided to take a swipe at a wooden version in stead. If the wooden version didn’t work, then we could attempt the Aluminum version. Wood is cheap, aluminum not-so-much.

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, like all 12 of you subscribers have, then you  know that I built a wooden canoe a number of years ago. WIth that experience I was confident that I could laminate up the curved armsof the frame from thin strips of western red cedar the same way I did the bow and stern stems on the Wee Lassie.

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I took measurements from my Towee and  laid out a simple bending mold with clamping holes to hold the strips while they dried.

I went to the local home center and spent an inordinately large amount of time sorting through the giant stack of cedar boards to find the most clear specimens and set about ripping them into 1/8″ thick strips.

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Gluing up the curved arms of the wooden rowing frame

It was a slow process of glue, and let dry, glue and let dry, glue and let dry. You can’t rush it, but it took shape and finally looked a lot like the aluminum frame that I was imitating. But, the arms seemed a just  little too flexible.

Once I had the rest of the frame assembled I started in on the oars. I glued up nine foot long one and a half inch thick shafts from ash that I had cut down in the back yard a few years ago. I added to that a 1/2″ thick blade of alternating sugar maple and cherry strips. Not that you care, but the maple tree grew in my parent’s back yard just outside the Kitchen window and the Cherry had grown in the pasture on my Uncle’s farm in the Youngstown area — the heart of the legendary Allegheny Plateau and home to the most straight grained and desirable cherry wood on the planet. I hand shaped the oar shaft and paddle blade into their final dimensions but it quicly became clear that shafts of the oars as well as the arms of the frame, were a bit too flexible for my taste.  They all would need fiberglass and epoxy, just the Wee Lassie canoe to strengthen and stiffen them.

I went over to my man with the epoxy plan Raka‘s site and ordered up the 1.5 QT UV inhibited kit and some 6″ glass tape.

After a week or two of epoxy, sand, glass, epoxy, sand, epoxy sand, well into the wee hours of the night, I had a stiff and strong rowing frame and a matching pair of hand made wooden oars. I then ordered up a a pair of Sawyer’s Anchor Rite Rubber Stops and a set of Perko Oarlocks and Top Mount Oar Lock sockets. I added some rope to the oars and epoxied over that to make it fast. I installed the sockets and oarlocks. Done and Done.

But what if they didn’t work?

Well, I tested the frame and oars out this Sunday evening on a quiet stretch of the Great Miami River, and I’m happy to report that they all worked like a charm.

Granted the water there is a fairly flat stretch of froggy water that gets hit by the local worm dunkers fairly hard so we got skunked.

But there I was — with my 8 year old son, while the sun was going down,  dry fall breeze  blowing from the west, rowing the Towee down the Great Miami, chucking poppers at the bank, waiting for the gulp of a smallmouth. To say I got choked up, is an understatement, it was truly a wonderful and memorable way to spend a couple hours on a Sunday evening, even if the cold front had turned off the fishing.

I was far from Skunked, I had proven that I could put together a useful piece of art work form otherwise average pieces of wood, that would now help engage in my favorite activities.
It was a gratifying, and humbling experience, now let’s go fish some more!

Don’t miss the Henhouse Prowlers – Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Troy Elks Lodge $5

Tonight don’t miss the Henhouse Prowlers Live at the Troy Elks Lodge 11pm. They remind me a band from Columbus a while ago… well except that the fiddle player will agree to wear a tie like the rest of the band. This looks like the good stuff.

Young folks writing and performing new original traditional sounding Bluegrass. There was a time when it seemed like bands like these were popping up all over the place, and we were one of them. But now, the furry has died down a bit and I’m realizing just how rare the suit wearing, died in the wool, one microphone working, traditionalists are.

They even have the chicken thing working…