Watch This: Sound Opinions Screens The Last Waltz



Continuing our exploration of classic and contemporary rock documentaries, here’s a great chance to hangout with our friends over at Sound Opinions for a 35th anninversary celebration screening of the Last Waltz at the Music Box in Chicago.

Join Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot on Wednesday November 30 at 7 p.m. at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago for what many believe to be the greatest concert film ever made. Proceeds to go benefit Sound Opinions and Chicago Public Media.

Screening info:

The Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave in Chicago.
Tickets are available here.

What Rock Doc Would You Screen?

If you had a movie theater all to yourself, what rock doc would you screen? What do you think is the most influential or best rock doc ever? Let us know what films are on your list and we’ll share your feedback and story during a future episode of Live Fix Radio.

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Do You Like It When A Band Experiments With Your Favorite Songs During The Show?

bob dylan rothbury 2009 colleen catania

bob dylan rothbury 2009 colleen catania

The live music experience is full of mythological stories. And one of my favorite tales is the infamous show where Bob Dylan “plugged in” for the first time at the Newport Folk Festival.

As we’ve explored before with one fan’s Dylan experience, the story has been told — and portrayed in movies like I’m Not There — that Dylan was booed and fights broke out backstage because he played electric and only played a few songs with the Hawks during their 1965 show at the Newport Folk Festival.

Well, after listening to this Sound Opinions interview with musician and Dylan bandmate Al Kooper, I had the pleasure of learning about a different side of the controversial 1965 story.

Artists Love It, But Do The Fans?

And besides getting clued in to what really happened at Newport, I also had the chance to revisit the idea that the song is never finished, a concept which Kooper says fueled Dylan’s approach to live music.

And if you’ve ever seen Dylan in concert before (I have twice), you understand what Kooper is saying because rarely will you ever hear any of Dylan songs that same as they are on record.

Dylan always changes the songs to the point of completely redoing the melody and all the other core elements of the songs. And the result is that he creates, more times than not, an entirely new track live right there on stage before your very ears. Some fans enjoy this about Dylan while other fans find it very annoying about him.

That said, witnessing the real-time evolution of a song live in concert is something Frank Orrall of Poi Dog pondering talked about too when we asked him to explore his take on the topic. And I was intrigued by his response.

And this concept is also at the core of what Keys N Krates do superbly with their live show.

As an example, here’s a video from Keys N Krates live show when we saw them at SXSW 2011. Take a look at the video below and let me know what you think.

Can I Get More Vocals In My Monitor Please?

I’d also like to hear what you think about Dylan concept that the song is never finished.

And while you’re at it, tell me if you agree that the live show is THE place to experiment with new versions of fan favorite songs, or should the live show be a place to hear the exact same version heard on the album.

Do you think this live show experimentation upsets fans who want to hear the original album version. Do you think it has an impact on how we  feel during a show?



Photo by Colleen Catania

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Weekly Wrap-up: Why Eating A Big Bowl of Chili Is Just Like Going To A Concert


Live Fix blog

Yesterday, before we went to the Chicago Bluegrass and Blues Festival, I ate a huge bowl of homemade chili. It was hot, meaty and filled my belly up reeeeeal good.

Speaking of chili and live music (and considering the connection between live music, taste and our other senses), it’s no surprise how much that great big bowl of chili and all our concert adventures this week have in common.

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Sound Opinions Screens Classic Concert Doc “Don’t Look Back” At Music Box Theater


There are few moments where I can say my life was forever changed after watching a concert film. And at the top of the list is watching D.A. Pennebaker’s 1967 rock doc Don’t Look Back which captures Bob Dylan during his 1965 UK tour.

And now Sound Opinions is giving you the chance to see it on the big screen.

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Freaky Friday Treats: Live Concert Downloads, Moogfest 2010, Sound Opinions, World Series Playlist…


Boo! I hope I didn’t scare you.

Anyways, it’s Friday and that means it’s also Halloween weekend. So here’s a quick post full of sweet treats (minus the tricks.) So let’s dig into these free live concert downloads featuring Moogfest, a World Series Playlist and a spooky Sound Opinions. Continue reading

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Loyal Slayer Fans Armed With Scalpels At Live Shows?


Sound opinion slayer

It is true that metal fans are often crazier than the band? Are metal fans more prone to behaving badly than other concert fans? Let’s start the weekend off right and see if this is true by looking at how a Slayer fan used a scalpel at a live show.
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Do You Know What A Concert Is?


On a lazy afternoon, a few weeks ago, I was flipping through cable channels and I went from watching the Sundance Channel’s intimate sessions of the Live from Abbey Road series to watching live concerts filmed at venues with hundreds of fans cheering and I started to wonder…

what makes a concert, a concert?

Is it how, when or where it takes place?

Does the number of people in the audience determine an official concert?

Is it what we do at the concert that defines it?

Is soundcheck part of the concert?

Big questions. I know.

But I still have to ask them because so much has changed when it comes to what we classify as a live concert.

And it’s by far one of the most fascinating social events we take part in.

Concert Environments

Sometimes we see them live.

Sometimes they’re recorded for later broadcast (DayTrotter, Stereogum, Daily Habit).

Other times they take place in small confined areas where we wouldn’t think a concert can take place (NPRs Tiny Desk Concert).

Other times the environments are morning shows, late night shows, online podcasts or live streaming broadcasts (NPR, Sound Opinions,, Daytrotter, Stereogum, Daily Habit, Live From Abbey Road)

But one thing is always constant in all forms, environments and venues.

There’s always some type of element of community, a communal cord that connects us all.

And depending on the size and tastes of the community or audience, the concert can mean so many things to so many different people–and still accomplish the goal of uniting us all under a universal love for live music.

So whether you call it an event, a concert, a gig, or a show, always know that your experience is shared not only with those around you at that moment, but also with millions of others in the big communal concert community.

So tell me…what is a concert to you?

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Johnny Cash: Live Folsom Follow-up


As promised, here’s a follow-up to last week’s Johnny Cash post, involving a little extra journalist homework. I sent email queries to both Jim Derogatis and Greg Kot and so far I’ve only heard back from Kot. He quickly responded and kindly explained via email that he spoke with Cash circa 1996-97 and also had this to say about that interview with Cash about the Folsom recording.

“The last time I interviewed Cash, in 1996-97 or so, we talked at length about the Folsom recording and also the famed “bird” he flipped the photogs at San Quentin a year later. I asked him about the audience reaction and post-production on the recordings, and he told me that the audience was pretty boisterous and reacted in the middle of the songs, rather than waiting till the end to react, applaud, cheer, etc., like most crowds. That’s why he loved playing to prison audiences, he told me. “They’re real. They’re in the moment. It’s like you’re making the song up on the spot, and they’re responding to each line like you’re telling a story.” I took Cash at his word. I do think the “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die” reaction seemed a bit romanticized, almost unnaturally loud and boisterous on the recording, and may certainly have been tweaked by Bob Johnston in post-production, but I remain convinced from the Cash interview that there was some kind of reaction (maybe not as loud), and he could hear and feel it as he was performing the song.”

Even though Kot agrees at the possibility of studio tweeking, his response presents a very interesting scenario because Kot’s response (when he quotes Cash) seems to contradict Streissguth’s account as noted in the book excerpt when quoting producer Bob Johnston that “the crowd had remained enthralled by the first glimpse and words of the black circuit rider before them,…saving their clamorous gusts exclusively for its conclusion.”

I’m not about to argue with Kot, Cash or Streissguth but nonetheless, this is quite confusing from a journalistic perspective; but worse, as a fan, it makes you wonder what actually happened, and what the scene was really like when one of the best live albums of all time was recorded and produced, or what actually happens when any live recording is made.

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Sound Opinions: The State of Clubland and Johnny Cash Live


I’ve been waiting for the right time to merge Live Exhaust with a radio show that I’ve enjoyed for several years and has for the last two weeks discussed two excellent topics that are perfect litmus for Live Exhaust.

Sound Opinions, is a weekly (Friday nights 8pm CST)Chicago Public Radio show where pop music critic co-hosts Greg Kot(Chicago Tribune) and Jim Derogatis(Sun-Times) discuss music news, review albums and usually tackle a specific story or invite a band into the studio to play live.

The last two episodes (downloadable on the SO site) have been so poignant for Live Exhaust that I’ve been buzzing to have the chance to share them with you: the state of the small rock club and Johnny Cash’s 1968 Live at Folsom Prison album, which also includes a confusing possible oversight or omission on the part of Kot and Derogatis. But we’ll get to that in a moment.

The first one I suggest checking out is the August 1st show during which they took time to talk about the precarious state of the “clubland” by inviting three of the nation’s most prominent venue promoters from New York, L. A. and Philadelphia. This conversation—like the one Jim and Greg had earlier this year about the declining state of the independent record store—was disheartening but nonetheless insightful. All three promoters shared an interested perspective ranging from tickets prices to how certain contracts restrict them from booking hip hop acts. It’s a great episode to learn how the smaller to medium-sized club bookers are wrangling with the bands and the bigger conglomerates like Live Nation to keep ticket prices realistic and venues from folding.

If you’re like me and enjoy going to smaller venues like Metro, Schubas and the Abbey more so than the bigger arenas where you’re farther away from the action and the music in most cases, than this is an episode that’ll give you a behind the ticket perspective of what goes in to creating the environment where you go to see your favorite local or touring band.

On a side note.. Chicago’s smaller venues and promoters have been impacted by an ongoing story from June involving the local Chicago music community who, led by the Chicago Music Commission and local Alderman Schulter, are blowing the whistle on laws that were scheduled to pass in May. As of today, Ald. Schulter and the CMC are still in conversation with the City of Chicago to clarify several confusing elements, one of which includes, a large umbrella insurance that would require club owners/promoters both big and small, to pay a large fee that would put most smaller clubs out of business in a heartbeat and as a sad result, closed the door on several longstanding and crucial venues that are the bed rock and the mecca of independent music. It would seem crazy for a law like this to pass, seeing as Chicago is one of the most thriving cities in the country when it comes to live music and entertaining, according to a recent CMC study.

The second show you need to download is last week’s “Classic Album Dissection” a show dedicated takeing a deeper look at a classic recording. The subject this time: Johnny Cash’s 1968 Live at Folsom Prison. The show as a whole was great and Derogatis did a solid job of applying his reporter skills to paint the picture of Folsom prison scene and context. But I am really surprised at a possible oversight/omission by Dero and Kot, regarding a documented “over-dubbing” incident during the recording’s post-production.

And the only reason I bring this up is because this piece of info about the live recording “enhancement” plays such a crucial in how, as fans, we can listen to a live recording of an event thinking what we’re actually listening to really happened when in fact it didn’t necessarily take place the way we heard on the album, thus creating a completely different emotional experience that was heard and felt at the actual concert. And secondly, I bring this up because I am very surprised that neither Kot nor Dero brought up this fact or even at least discussed the “over-dubbing” as fact or fiction. I’ll explain the “overdubbing” incident in just a moment. And as a follow-up to this post, I will try to contact both of them to see why there was no mention of it during the show or in the notes.

I’ve listened to this classic recording of Johnny Cash’s performance at Folsom Prison before and I’ve heard the “over-dubbed” inmates hollering after the “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die” line. And when I think of how I would react to that moment without the holler, the show takes on a completely different meaning, putting me in a totally different sonic and emotional atmosphere.

I did some preliminary digging and found a brief excerpt from Michael Streissguth’s 2004 book “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison: the Making of a Classic” during which Streissguth writes that the hollering convict after the line “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die” was added in the studio during post-production.

“What the record buyers heard after Cash uttered the bloody line was pure image-making…. In reality, the crowd had remained enthralled by the first glimpse and words of the black circuit rider before them,…saving their clamorous gusts exclusively for its conclusion.”

“Pure image-making”? Really? If that’s what really happened then what we really have here is a classic recording of two different concerts; one that actually happened and one that those that bought the album heard. And this also a solid reason to look deeper into other albums that were recorded live that created two different listening experiences beyond just sound quality but in fact changed the emotional direction of the whole concert recording. I’ll start digging and get back to you on that rabbit trail later.

I know I’ve dumped three heavy ideas all at once but I wanted to get them all out there for time concerns and so that we could all discuss them ASAP. And whatever type of response I get from Derogatis and Kot I will surely pass on to you.

Here’s what you can do. Tell me what you think about live concert “overdubbing,” the death of the small club and the rights of their promoters and owners.

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