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  • NTSC 4:01 pm on May 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Visibility and the democratization of online creativity 

    Technology is a truly wondrous thing. I can distinctly remember when my family could finally afford to buy a CD-RW drive for our computer. The ability to actually burn your own music CDs had finally become available to the masses, and it was incredible. At the time I was authoring digital music with a piece of shareware software called Goldwave. I’m stoked and shocked to see that it still exists! Anyway, I must have been around 18 years old at the time and I felt like a rock star. I burned CDs with my music and gave them to all my friends (as if the songs were any good at all.) I listened to them with my portable CD player everywhere I went, though it skipped terribly while I walked, cradling it in my right hand like a baby bird. Suddenly, small music producers could create their own mixes, their own compilations, their own actual albums and sell them to the masses at large. That is just one example of the incredible democratization of creativity that technology has created.

    Fast forward to today, when that democratization has truly revolutionized creativity as we know it. With the ubiquity of professional-grade music production software, industry standard programs becoming available through affordable subscription models, and other advances, almost anyone with an inkling to create art can get their hands on the tools to make it happen. For me, this is both a huge positive for the world, and also a negative. While it has made it possible for even the smallest indie artist to make professional quality products, it has also made it eminently easier for absolute offal to flood every conceivable marketplace. Video games, music, illustration, video, if it’s a media that can be consumed online, I promise it has been super-saturated with tripe of the lowest degree.

    Sturgeon’s law states that “99% of everything is crap.” This may be true, but before the widespread availability of media-creation tools, it was probably a little more difficult for all the crap to make it to market. When it took thousands of dollars in startup capital alone just to get your foot in the door, the market was understandably less flooded. Now, crap and mediocrity are the norm and it’s up to each individual artist to try and get their signal heard among the noise.

    That’s where this powerful democratization hurts us all. There are truly great artists out there, with unique, valuable voices who have the right to be heard, appreciated and rewarded for their talents. Today, it’s not enough for those artists to be skillful and practiced at their craft, they also need to be a full-force marketing and social networking machine as well. Nowadays an artist, instead of spending the lion’s share of their precious time creating quality art, must blog and tweet and post and reblog and instagram and snapchat everything they make, in the hopes of reaching any audience at all. It can be discouraging, to look out over the vast ocean of media that is created and disseminated every single minute of every day, and realize that you and your passions are just a drop in that endless sea.

    My wife got me a fabulous book recently, in which Calvin and Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson discusses the state of comics today. He laments the struggle of comic artists trying to make a living online:

    “…the new business model is to put the strip out there for free, attract some zealous fans, and then hope to sell ads, or T-shirts, or original drawings, or book collections to make actual income. You basically put your art out there as a loss leader. Even if it works, wow, that’s depressing.”

    The culture of free-to-play, free-of-charge media that today’s consumers are so accustomed to is, in my opinion, due entirely to the sheer volume of media available. Affordable technology is the cause of that volume. Today, unless your product is free, you can’t hope to compete. That’s not only ridiculous, it’s nauseating to someone who strives to make a comfortable living from their art. Bill Watterson and illustrators of his ilk were able to not only live comfortably, but handsomely, because they were valued and compensated for their skill and talent. It seems the best an artist can hope for today, whatever their genre or medium, is to scrape by on sales of peripherals.

    Personally, The November Criminals would not have an album, or a website, or any real presence at all without the availability of powerful technologies. I wouldn’t have any of my freelance gigs without the power of the software on my home PC. I cannot in good faith demonize technology since it has made my current lifestyle possible. However, I fear for what the future holds. If this is the current state of affairs when it comes to artists trying to make a living, what will happen as the markets become even more saturated than they already are? How will anyone hope to get their voice heard?

    At least I can rest easy at night, secure in the knowledge that when it comes to Polka Hiphop, we are quite literally the only game in town. We’ll always have that.

    For now.

     
  • Brümeister 8:32 pm on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    THANK YOU! 

    May 9th was a blast! We had so much fun at Empower the Tower and we want to say THANK YOU! to everyone who sponsored us and anyone who was there to dance at 3PM! (NTSC on the Melodeon gets feet  moving!) AND a shout out to everyone at Riverwest Radio for making the event truly special!

    It was just the three of us up there on stage this time (no beat machine either!) and we still had people coming up afterwards complimenting our unique sound. It made my day a lot easier since I was duty bound to work the door the rest of the day while I wore one of my other hats, the one marked WXRW board member.
    So in case you missed it we have a link to the There Goes the Neighborhood hour on soundcloud. So click here!

     

    Nov. Criminals getting set to kick off the 3 pm hour of Empower the Tower 2015 to benefit Riverwest Radio.

    Nov. Criminals getting set to kick off the 3 pm hour of Empower the Tower 2015 to benefit Riverwest Radio.

     

     

     
  • Brümeister 1:02 am on April 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Riverwest Radio on May 9th 

    We as a group support Riverwest Radio and the right to a platform for those voices not yet heard. We are scheduled to play in the 3PM hour (hosted by There Goes the Neighborhood) at the upcoming Fundraiser Marathon. All performers are asked to raise a minimum of $25 toward the building of a FM tower for the station.  Anyone who would like to pledge to support Riverwest Radio can do so on their website via paypal. If you’ve read this far you may have the patience to write in the comment box of your paypal donation that it is for The November Criminals. We thank you again for your support!

    We'll be playing in the 3 to 4pm hour on May 9th at Riverwest Radio

    We’ll be playing in the 3 to 4pm hour on May 9th at Riverwest Radio

    **************

     

    So there I was reading this article where Trent Reznor and Robert Smith talk about the Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Psychocandy’ and of course it was really just a summary of a video clip. But it got me thinking about the nature of music and how and when changes occur in music that continue to be relevant. The article opens up with the sentence “A lot of now-classic albums have grown into their reputations over the course of years or decades” and goes on to spell out what makes it so for this album. It dawned on me that a lot of “sound” is merely varying fashion. But there is a difference between fashion and style.  What makes the latest fashion the style?
    Part of it is the relevance to the listener. The way music informs the person hearing it. Most people want music that makes them dance. The dances become a part of the fashion, the way the body moves and sways or pops and locks or twerks and dry humps becomes relevant to the music and then relevant to the fashion of the listener.Lyrics for some exist only to fill a void. To put a human touch on a sonic experience that we sometimes pretend to be other worldly. If the lyrics command a contrasting disposition to the music then we can even ignore them if the voice matches the music. BUT if the contrasts are too great it forces us into the uncomfortable position of active listening.
    If there is a message that vibes with us we may go back to it. If there is something that makes us uncomfortable then we reject it.
    Rejection of a sound or of music is as much a part of fashion as the dances we perform. What we actively reject says as much about us as what we embrace. When a musical artist (or a musician, or a band, or a composer, or a poet) sparks controversy it is usually because they have created an equal amount of supporters and detractors.

    Support is defined in many ways. It is measured by money, esteem, praise and circulation or word of mouth. Detractors are obstructionists who work to actively prevent any of these from reaching the band.

    As we enter the next phase of The November Criminals project we thank everyone who has supported us so far. Whether we are ever going to be “fashionable” is not for us to decide. But no one can say we lack style!

     

     
  • Brümeister 9:53 pm on April 26, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    7 Trivia Crack Questions You Won’t See Anytime Soon 

    Number 5 of the 7....

    Number 5 of the 7….

    1) How you Doing?
    a. pretty good
    b. Awesome!
    c. Que?
    d. Back off I’m playing Trivia Crack

    Each band is subject to obstacles. Every artist who believes in their art is bound to encounter a wide range of problems from personal tragedy to something as simplistically impossible as writer’s block. But what do we do to overcome apathy?

    2) A group later named “The Glover Mob” stormed a city jail and freed a run away slave in which state?
    a. Indiana
    b. Massachusetts
    c. Missouri
    d. Wisconsin

    As much as we choose our futures by a series of decisions that happen real time with unknown consequences; so too are we empowered by our pasts. History is never perfect. But if you know where you stand you know what to look for.

    3) In what country is the School of the Americas located?
    a. Chile
    b. Argentina
    c. U.S.A.
    d. Cuba

    Fear is a raw emotion. Only when it is refined and distilled by politics does it become repression.

    4) Polka is the official dance of what state?
    a. Texas
    b. Wisconsin
    c. Pennsylvania
    d. Minnesota

    Positive energy is universal. Celebration of the universal, however, can take many forms.

    Here we jump ahead. What do our leaders say about us? Are those in authority worthy of our respect?

    6) Which Wisconsin politician said single mothers are guilty of child abuse?
    a. Scott Walker
    b. Paul Ryan
    c. Glenn Grothman
    d. Joe McCarthy

    We learn from history. But what we learn is based on perception as much as information. Do we understand we are not perfect? Do we allow for others to succeed where we fall short? How do we react?

    7) The only country to ban mustard gas in World War One was?
    a. Russia
    b. Austro-Hungarian Empire
    c. U.S.A.
    d. Germany

    Unspoken reality is that sometimes the enemy is right. Sometimes the enemy was never meant to be an enemy. Sometimes only pride keeps a conflict alive. This is why while we value pride it is in reality a sin.

     

     
  • Brümeister 1:04 am on April 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Spring is Sprunk: April & May 

    Just because I can…..!

    I figured I’d post a little bit about some upcoming events that I (Bru) and The November Criminals will be a part of.
    I was recently the opener for an event at the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts on Center Street. I read some of my own poems and some stuff from various assorted issues of Burdock magazine. I also got to host Poets Monday on April 6th as the usual host had come down with a case of going to San Francisco. The feature was my good friend Mario the Poet. His competition was the NCAA Men’s Basketball Finals featuring some guys in Wisconsin jerseys from Madison. Needless to say the turnout was heavy on the poets and light on the non-poets. Still a good crowd turned up to share in the moment.
    Coming up on what I’m calling Poetic Promenades:

    April 18th, 2pm at Woodland Pattern “Poets of Riverwest Radio”

    April 22nd, 7pm at Microlights Ineluctable Place hosted by Mike Hauser w/ Susan Firer & Keith Gaustad

    April 25th, 2pm at Milwaukee Public Library – East Branch Celebrate Poetry in Your Community

    Nov Criminals rocking the 1st Empower the Tower in 2013

    Nov Criminals rocking the 1st Empower the Tower in 2013

    BUT THEN on May 9th, the day before Mother’s Day,
    Empower the Tower returns to Riverwest Radio! The November Criminals will be in the 3pm hour hosted by There Goes the Neighborhood!
    IF you’d like to sponsor our time please contact Riverwest Radio or just show up and pay 5 bucks at the door to support the station as it strives toward LPFM broadcasting.

    Now if you are all like “Hey there’s a lot of Bru’s stuff here. What about the other guys?” Well you can find out more for SPADE ONE here and NTSC here.  Tell them to start blogging 😉

     
  • Brümeister 11:20 pm on March 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    WrestleMania 31, A Sausage, Some Fries & 2 Pabsts 

    Brock, wake up! We're going to Suplex City!

    Brock, wake up! We’re going to Suplex City!

    That’s a Sunday. A great Sunday. I enjoy my wrestling fandom sometimes I post about it. I also noticed the wonderfully hilarious trend of people who are annoyed with wrestling fans. Now these people have been around for some time possibly since the inception of the concept of Pro Wrestling. They’re retaining a gene from a bygone day where people got mad when you threw a fight and still collected money on your loss…. oh wait boxers that lose still get paid right? I mean so do UFC fighters, they get paid when they lose, I’m sure of it. They get endorsements.
    ANYWAYS

    Enough trolling. WrestleMania was pretty fun this year. I walked in to the bar during the IC Title Ladder Match in time to see Dean.. Fucking…  Ambrose… go through a ladder. Did everyone forget that he vowed to stop Seth Rollins from ever cashing in? What happened to that? Oh yeah I guess he was storyline dead from the ladder bump. Remember when the Shield broke up? Seth gave a light spanking to Roman Reigns compared to the beat down he handed Dean… Fucking… Ambrose…
    Also, is anyone else bummed that Jon Stewart didn’t have a WrestleMania Moment? I mean he should have been the one to count the three and turn on everyone and raise Rollins’ hand.  Still pretty awesome ending Seth is a deserving champion and this should be an entertaining title run. RUN… remember this?
    OK now I’m excited for RAW tonight….

    Tune in to There Goes The Neighborhood on Wednesday for some more reactions.

     

     

     
  • Brümeister 10:15 pm on March 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Dead Man's Carnival, EDM, , Paris Hilton, Shakespeare Raw, Summerfest   

    Summerfest Fails to Book The November Criminals; Paris Hilton Headlines June 28 

    NC_tour_01

    Remember when we drove to Superior for a show?
    Pepperidge Farms remembers.

    Whoa it’s been a long winter and it is still going!
    To recap what has happened since last August… which is apparently the last time any of us checked in on the weblog…. we played a few shows, you may have seen us at Dead Man’s Carnival in March . Or at Shakespeare Raw in February at Best Place! It’s true we’ve been here and there and under the radar BUT the Criminals are always a booking away from playing your favorite spot! Recommend us to your favorite club or promoter and keep the Criminality in Music.

    So in other news Summerfest, the World’s Largest Music Festival has booked Paris Hilton to DJ on the grounds as a headlining act. The announcement is not without its blowjob ERR BLOWBACK I meant blowback….
    A petition to remove her from the lineup is making headlines of its own and the movement appears to be swelling. Sheesh, its hard ERR DIFFICULT to write about this without unnecessary innuendo. So the main argument against her is that she is not a professional DJ and has not paid any dues to receive her spot on the lineup.
    Now to be fair I’ve been around the EDM scene for a few years now… as a security guard, a bartender, and an outsider. I stress that because at no time have I declared any fandom for the overarching genre of Electronic Dance Music. “Why?” you might ask “Aren’t you in a Polka Hip Hop band? You use beats on a laptop at shows I’ve seen you!”
    First of all, Thanks for coming to our shows. And if you haven’t it’s likely because you are an EDM person and you don’t really like Hip Hop. You don’t like people talking over the music while you trip and stare at lights. You aren’t really interested in what a Hip Hop MC has to say unless it’s about Swag and drugs and the kind of hedonism you only wish you could live out if only you were wealthy like…. Paris Hilton.
    BUT ISN’T PARIS A MAN’S NAME?
    Yes it is but this is 2015 and you can name your kids whatever. You buy them a car so they can drive to the city and dress themselves in bikinis and bondage gear, covered in plastic beads that stress the value of PLUR as they take MDMA for the first time they got from a guy they met once or twice before at another show, but he seems to know an awful lot about spirituality and he has a flat brimmed baseball cap (what’s baseball?) and cool shirt that looks expensive because of all the colors.
    The point is Paris Hilton is the perfect expression of EDM whether you like it or not. She’s privileged, scantily dressed, she has a viral porn video, and all she needed was enough money to buy some equipment the number to some people to do lights…..and let’s be real she already bought that shit ten times over if it wasn’t being given to her for free because of her brand. YES BRAND. That’s what’s on these posters and the pins and the hats. We do it too! We all get sucked into it one way or another. RELAX. You already know you are going to some other festival where you will sit on a lawn chair tripping.
    Oh and I’m not all excited about her “performance” and I know plenty of really awesome DJs that we’ve played with. But I’m not going to pretend this isn’t a perfect expression of what EDM ultimately is and all the attempts to portray it as something other than the renewal of the disco scene, a scene that thrived on excess and cocaine and not much else, is delusional…. you might be tripping on something.

     
  • NTSC 4:42 am on September 2, 2014 Permalink | Reply  

    Tour Retrospective 

    I’ll add more in later posts as I recall specific events and after I’ve had time to ruminate on it more, but I wanted to swing by and say a few things about the trip and the recent shows we’ve played.

    Superior Wisconsin is a beautiful, industrial, blue collar place filled with good people who really come out to support local music. It was a blast playing there! The trip up was pretty kooky, and tiring, but I was thankful that Brü was able to take over half of the driving duties.

    When you’re stuck with the same guys for a few days in a tiny car with no air conditioning and no radio, you learn a lot of things about each other. I can say, unequivocally, that my band mates are all heart. They’re funny, brilliant, insightful, goofy and all around loving guys. They give their blood, sweat and tears to everything they do, and I’m privileged and improved to know them and perform with them.

    We’ll return soon enough. Until then, thanks to everyone that came out to see us! PROST!

     
  • Brümeister 10:56 pm on August 16, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Guns of August, , , , Polka Hip Hop, Riverwest Farmer's Market, Riverwest Public House, , Superior, WI   

    The Guns Of August 

     

    The November Criminals Need YOU! to come out one of these shows.

    The November Criminals Need YOU! to come out one of these shows.

    We have a number of shows coming up that I’d like to highlight a bit since each one will be so very different from the others.

    AUGUST 22nd at Riverwest Public House for Adam Asher’s Birthday show!

    We look forward to once again having Michael Ritter on bass and Kevin KC Christenson on drums for this show. Two amazingly talented musicians who bring spontaneity and skill to the set. Last time we played with them in March at Cactus Club it was one of the best shows the Criminals have had to date.

    The line up for the rest of show is amazing and moves back and forth between bands and poets for 6 hours of awesome! We’re going on early so we can wake up in time for …..

    AUGUST 23rd at The Tower Avenue Tavern in Superior w/ Number One Common

    We’ll be driving the day of the show 8 hours or so to get to the Northern most city in Wisconsin. We’re looking forward to playing for an entirely new audience and maybe getting a few photo ops near the big lake they call Gitche Gumee! The show is presented by Hypnotic Otter and is FREE!!!

    AUGUST 31st at The Riverwest Gardeners Market

    DJ Killa Kutz will be on the 1s & 2s with us during this set which runs from Noon until 3pm. We’re gonna work on cleaning up NTSC’s language 😉 but one thing is for sure: if you are nearby, you are going to hear something that will make you want to polka around the produce!

     
  • Brümeister 11:02 pm on May 26, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: 88.9, Milo, , Music scenes, , Radio Milwaukee   

    Music Culture 

    Lots of thoughts lately and not lots of posts. I’m here to change that.

    You should see the chapter about the Milwaukee Music Scene!

    You should see the chapter about the Milwaukee Music Scene!

    I read a lot but I also read into things a lot. Dangerous habit on social media but I’ve also been commenting way to much on shit that I have no business commenting on. SO I figured I’ll take it to the blog. Maybe less people will read it but hopefully more people will understand me. We are what we are: A Polka Hip Hop Band. But if you step back and consider the members in the group the uniqueness of it all means so much more to us. We are an interracial music group in the most segregated metropolis in America. We are mixing genres of music and pulling it off with varying degrees of success; granted as a group we are just getting started. But all of us have been performing and writing and creating music, poetry and art for years before we ever met. And we are all scraping by. Part of it has to do with the fact that this is also one of the poorest cities in the nation.

    So then I read this interview with a rapper who is moving to LA. And hear someone making the same complaints so many have been making for so long. But here’s the thing the problem is much deeper than just a radio station not giving you play. (To my knowledge we haven’t had play on 88.9 either but then I don’t know if they have our cd. Somehow we have been played on local station 91.7  and maybe it being a college station things get circulated differently.)

    THE PROBLEM.  It’s really the culture of the city though it isn’t just the music scene. Try writing poetry and discover how fractured everything is here and then laugh because everyone knows there is no money to be made in poetry…. unless you are putting together a CV for grad school somewhere. But music, art and film? I can’t imagine how this disjointed cityscape, fractured from institutionalized racism and economic paranoia could do more then ever serve as a transfer station for raw talent.

    (It doesn’t help when promoters are focusing solely on the dollar and not on the art but that is another blog for another time.)

    I feel like that is what Milo missed a chance to say in his interview. But maybe it’s in his music and I haven’t heard that track yet (though I’m looking now). I know a few others who have had to move on to make it in music because it unsustainable here to just be a musician or a rapper. The Milwaukee Machine that Milo talks about is really more or less just a façade to keep a few people distracted from some of the larger issues. But would that message resonate with anyone outside of a few people in the community? I know he must feel it if he’s leaving for greener pastures even if he didn’t say it. The culture of a place is a reflection of that place’s reality. And if the music scene will not allow talent to thrive here then it reflects the inability of many other to thrive.

    As for the music…..would I say he is as dope as The November Criminals? No, of course not, don’t be silly. But he is talented and we wish him well.  🙂

    Personally, I am blessed to know people from the city and the region who are invested in making things happen here. From Pinkerton at Deadman’s Carnival to the painfully under played Jaems Murphy to comedy mentor and road warrior of the Hobbit Trail Brendan O’Day  and the poetic thundering of deep feelings that is Mario The Poet. The folks I’ve come across who are working to make a living at entertaining people and performing their craft for them is inspiring and in many ways sustaining.
    Catch us at Cactus Club June 6th with Tapebenders and Jaems Murphy!

     
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