Friday, April 30, 2010

Sat May 15: All Day Live Video from the Studio

On Saturday May 15, I'm going back into the studio for the first time since we wrapped up the debut Zak Claxton album, and I though you might like to come too.

While I can't have a studio full of crazy people while I'm trying to record new music, and you probably won't be running out to Sound Sanctuary Studios in Riverside, CA just to hang out for the day, we're going to try something that will be a good compromise: we're going to set up a web cam and stream live audio and video from the studio for 12 straight hours!

Having never done this before, we have no idea how well it will work, or even if it will work at all. But that's not going to stop us from trying, of course. The basic idea is this: starting at about noon on 5/15/10, we'll arrive at the studio and set up a laptop in some unobtrusive spot in the control room. Then, we'll connect to my Ustream channel, and whatever happens while we create new music, you'll be able to tune in and check out what we're doing!

A typical session for us runs at least 12 hours, while we try and capture two complete songs start to finish. Do I expect anyone will want to peer into a dark recording studio for 12 straight hours? No, of course not. However, it might be fun from time to time to drop by and see what we're up to. Also, since Ustream has chat tools, you can feel free to drop comments at us and when we're in between recording, we can say hi back at ya. Sounds fun, huh?

The songs we'll be working on are "Shine" and "Time Never Waits for You", and if this all works out, you'll get a real insider's view of what it's like to record in a serious studio, with silly and fun people including my co-producer Phil O'Keefe, multi-instrumentalists Bunny Knutson and Ken Lee, and my darling Kat Claxton, who will be there to document the entire process and provide moral support.

So mark your calendars now and keep the link below handy...

Saturday 5/15/10, 12:30PM - 12:30AM
Zak Claxton Recording Session - Live from the Studio

In case you'd like a little preview of what a day in the studio with Zak Claxton is like, here's a video from a session last summer.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Notes Shack (04.25.10)

We ended up having a good time today at the Notes Shack, even though I started out pissing and moaning about the light attendance. However, we gathered a decent crowd toward the end, and people seemed to be having fun. More importantly, I began having fun, and that's why I do this stuff, right?

Notes Shack Set List...
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
*Thank U (Alanis Morissette)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Nobody Home (Pink Floyd)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Behind Blue Eyes (The Who)
†Furry Sings the Blues (Joni Mitchell)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL
†Last performance of "Furry Sings the Blues": January 30, 2009, the only other time I've played it.

Thanks to everyone who supported my show today at the Notes Shack!

Zak's Kitchen: Steak au Poivre

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects. - Robert Heinlein

There's an old insult which applies pretty well to me: jack of all trades, master of none. And I'm okay with that. I've enjoyed having delved into a lot of different things much more than I've regretted not exploring any to its full extent. That having been said, I've never posted before about the fact that I cook, which is our off-topic post of the moment.

Yup. Zak Claxton, virtual rock star, international man of mystery, is also a damned good cook. I started cooking because I had no choice; as a kid, my folks were hard working professional people, and I was often left on my own to figure out what I was going to eat, and how. There was always plenty of food around, but not often anyone to prepare and bring it to me. So, I learned to do it myself, and have been cooking ever since. I make all kinds of stuff, from casual breakfasts to full-blown formal dinners, and have on several occasions been the chef for the large Thanksgiving meal for the family.

Kat and I look forward to our weekends together for many reasons, but one of the big ones has to be the fact that weekends are when I can spend the time to prepare a really good meal. Side note: Kat is also a good cook, and I'm not going to get into which of us is better. It's nice having two people who are competent in the kitchen in this relationship, and I'm not looking that gift horse in the mouth. We're both good cooks in different ways. Kat, for instance, made a kick-ass salmon meal (with dill and lemon) last weekend. But I digress.

My bible in the land of the stove and oven is the New York Times Cookbook, which is the same cookbook my mom used to use when she was making something special. Recently, Kat and I have taken to flipping through the NYT Cookbook and finding something interesting, then going to the store and getting the required ingredients, and making it. Our track record has been really good, with most dishes coming in somewhere between "totally freakin' amazing" and "this food is better than sex".

Yesterday, our page turning of the cookbook ended at a dish called Steak au Poivre. "Poivre" is French for pepper, and whew, we had pepper a-plenty on this yummy dish. There are a number of ways to prepare this meal, and some people do an optional cognac sauce (or add cream or dijon mustard to the sauce). We didn't, but it came out amazing nonetheless. Here's the basic recipe I used.


1. You start with steak... duh. My mom taught be one thing about cooking with meat: when you start with good meat, you have a better chance of ending up with a yummy meal. We don't have a great selection at the regular old grocery store here in the neighborhood, but were able to find some good-looking New York strip steaks. The actual recipe calls for club steaks (similar to rib eye), but any steak with a bone in it will probably be fine.

2. Coat steak in coarse pepper. I put the pepper on a plate and then rolled the steaks around. Rub the pepper into the steak using the palm of your hand. Let sit for 30 minutes.

3. Coat the bottom of a frying pan with a light layer of salt and put on high heat until the salt starts browning. Add steaks.

4. The next part depends on how rare you want your steaks. Kat and I enjoy medium rare, but we're not gourmet enough to have it basically raw in the middle (as suggested in the recipe). I let them char on one side for a couple of minutes, then flipped them.

5. Add 1 tsp butter to the top of each steak, along with lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco to taste. How much? I never measure anything... after awhile of cooking, you just develop an innate sense of how much is enough.

6. Turn down the heat and allow steaks to cook through, simmering away in the delightful sauce. I took the above picture during this stage.

7. Remove from heat and place steaks on plates. Pour remaining pan juices over steaks. Top steaks with parsley and chives. Voila!

The proper side dish for steak au poivre is usually either baked potatoes or pomme frites (a fancy way of saying "french fries"). We went with the baked potato, and Kat made some delicious fried green beans (with olive oil and spices) that complemented the steak and potato nicely.

Bon appetit!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Free Bird Music & Love Lounge (04.22.10)

Photos courtesy of Kat Claxton.

As you might have heard (since I blabbed about it a lot), I did a special show yesterday for Earth Day 2010. It was also the first time I've played at the very cool little venue owned by a gal named Bowie Zeplin (hee hee), a backyard stage called Free Bird Music & Love Lounge.

I met Bowie only a few weeks ago. She stopped in and saw me at a show, and I liked her vibe. I've always been one of those people who, for good and bad, get a very fast perception of what other people are all about. Sometimes I'm wrong (horribly so in a few cases) but I'm usually right. I first noticed Bowie because of her name, which was pretty complementary toward the type of music which I've found influential. And then, she fit right into the banter of my fun crowd, which was cool. She popped up at a couple more shows, and mentioned at one point that she had a music venue of her own. I came by and checked it out and liked it quite a lot, and told her I'd be happy to play there sometime. As it turned out, she was planning an Earth Day event, and it seemed like a good time for me to get on her stage.

When I arrived, I was greeted by a somewhat unusual sight of the entire crowd engaged in a group hug. It was very cute.

Then it was time for my set. I'd put together a show that was at least somewhat themed for the Earth Day event, and apart from a few blunders (boy, it's been awhile since I did "The Rain Song", heh heh), it went really well. A noteworthy mention goes out to the gent who played directly after me, Voodoo Shilton. The guy is obviously a terrific guitarist, and I look forward to seeing him again sometime soon.

Free Bird Earth Day Set List...
Pigs on the Wing Part 1 (Pink Floyd)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
*Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
After the Gold Rush (Neil Young)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Starman (David Bowie)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Thank You (Led Zeppelin)
The Sands of Redondo (Zak Claxton)
The Rain Song (Led Zeppelin)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Big thanks to everyone at Free Bird's Earth Day celebration! It was huge fun... thanks for supporting my show!
Gimli Garzo, Diana Renoir, Roisin Hotaling, Voodoo Shilton, Gubatah Tigerpaw, Kat Claxton, Kiki Mohindi, Omega Marenwolf, Perky Button, Xerxes Ninetails, Desiderata Dembo, and the lovely hostess of the evening, Bowie Zeplin!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day to You!

It's Earth Day. What the hell does that mean, anyway?

U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin announced his idea for a nationwide teach-in day on the environment in a speech to a fledgling conservation group in Seattle on 20 September 1969, and then again six days later in Atlantic City to a meeting of the United Auto Workers. Senator Nelson hoped that a grassroots outcry about environmental issues might prove to Washington, D.C. just how distressed Americans were in every constituency.

So, the concept of Earth Day was born about the same time I was, and the first Earth Day was held 40 years ago on this very day, on April 22, 1970. Today, some 175 countries observe Earth Day, and according to the nonprofit Earth Day Network, it's now "the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people every year."

So, what am I supposed to do on Earth Day?
Here's the best part about it: you don't have to DO anything. You gifts to buy, no cards to sign, no special meals to prepare. Hey, I like this holiday more and more! As mentioned above, Earth Day is a day of teaching and awareness about the environment. It's a day... just one day mind you... that you can give some thought to the planet on which you spend your entire life. Perhaps more important than what you do on Earth Day is what you don't do.

• Don't litter
• Don't add to air or water pollution
• Don't throw stuff away that could be recycled

Let's say you're just too lazy to even bother with those things. Hey, I understand. But at least spend a couple of seconds thinking about the fact that your kids (or your friends kids, or random other kids) and their kids and the kids those kids make will be living on this hunk of rock long after you're gone. Don't be an asshole to those kids. Leave them a nice place where they can live and breathe and enjoy life.

Do humans really affect the environment? Can humans kill the Earth?
Sure, humans have a bigger effect on the environment than any other species on this planet. Can we kill the Earth? No, the Earth is a huge ball of iron and stuff that will be around long after the people are gone. We're not killing the Earth with our thoughtless activities. No, we're just killing each other and the other animals who live here. Probably no big loss, but I rather enjoy living and hope that future generations have that opportunity.

Oh, and come to my show tonight.
I'm doing a special themed show of music tonight at Free Bird Music & Love Lounge in SL at 7PM SLT. I'll be including some environmentally-friendly tunes, as well as some hippieish stuff that seems appropriate for the occasion. Coming to my show won't save the planet, but it'll give you something fun to do that probably doesn't involve hurting it much either.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Star Trek TNG: Alternate Universe Uniform Colors

Yup, here it is. My most geeky, off-topic post ever. Sure, I've written before about virtual world software updates and quantum mechanics. But at least those things weren't fictional geekiness... they were based in some form of reality. This is the ultimate geek post, and I make no excuses or apologies for it.

I was never a fan of the original Star Trek series. By the time I was old enough to watch it, it had been in syndication for a long time, and the campiness of the show didn't float my boat. But Star Trek: The Next Generation started airing in 1987, when I was a full year out of high school, and in a great place to enjoy its utopian science fiction (usually accompanied by herbal substances to assist in the suspension of disbelief).

Well, as any good ST:TNG fan knows, there is a color code for the uniforms worn by Starfleet personnel. Using the uniform color shades from the year 2373 (I know, I know... getting my geek on, yessiree), which was the final version in the Star Trek timeline, note that each division has its own color.



The picture on top of this post shows the crew of NCC-1701-D in their proper colors. The Command Division are the people in charge of a ship, so people like Captain Picard and Commander Riker would generally be seen in this deep red color. The Operations Division includes engineering, security, and tactical personnel, which is why you'll see people like Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge and Security Chief Worf in gold. The teal blue uniforms are used by people in the Sciences Division (including medical), so Enterprise crew members Dr. Beverly Crusher and Counselor Deanna Troi (in the few episodes where they put her in a regular uniform) wear this shade.

If you want to be even geekier (if this is possible), in the original series, the red and gold uniforms were reversed, in that Command wore gold (like Captain Kirk) and operations wore red (like some poor ensign you'd never seen before who you knew was going to die on an away mission). But that's not relevant to this conversation. Just a side note.

Where No Geek Has Gone Before...
All this is fine and dandy, as long as we're having a normal day galavanting around the Alpha Quadrant at warp factor 6. But occasionally in the Star Trek universe, things get weird. Alternate timelines are created. Whole other universes come into play. And with these strange days come strange uniforms. In a moment of inspired geekdom, I decided that it would be nice if there was a place where you can see the rare sight of these familiar TNG crew members in uniforms other than the wones we know and love. And this is it! I can tell you're a-quiver with anticipation, so let's jump right in. Oh, by the way: I don't own the rights to any of these images. Paramount probably does. If they ask me to take them down, I happily will.

Picard in Blue: "Tapestry" (Season 6, Episode 15)

This is actually a really fun episode in which Captain Picard dies, and finds himself reincarnated by the omnipotent being known as Q. He finds that without having experienced some of the actions of his youth, he wouldn't turn out to be the person he became. Kind of a space-age combination of "A Christmas Carol" and "It's a Wonderful Life". As shown above, toward the end of the episode Picard is shown in the blue uniform of a Science officer (probably in astrophysics), as opposed to his regular Command red.

Worf in Red: "Parallels" (Season 7, Episode 11)

Worf, as we all know, is the Klingon tactical officer and security chief of the Enterprise. While he wore red during the first season of the series (one best forgotten for most TNG fans), for the subsequent six years, he wore the gold uniform of his role. But in the last season, a terrific episode had him popping back and forth between multiple universes, due to the warp field of his shuttlecraft having opened a rift in a quantum fissure and- well, let's stick to talking about uniforms, mmmkay? In at least one of these parallel universes, Worf was the first officer of the Enterprise, and wore the red of command.

Wesley Crusher in Gold: "Parallels" (Season 7, Episode 11)

In the same episode, Worf ends up in a universe where Wesley Crusher has remained on the Enterprise, and has been apparently promoted to lieutenant. He's at the tactical station, and is wearing the proper gold color of the post. Note that Wesley's clothing changed often throughout the series. He started as a civilian who was an acting ensign in a gray outfit, then was promoted to full ensign (pretty weird, but whatever), then went to Starfleet Academy to become a real officer. But when he was shown in uniform, it was generally the red color of command... except here.

Data in Red: "Future Imperfect" (Season 4, Episode 8)

Not a bad fourth season episode at all. In this one, Riker is led to believe that 16 years have passed, but his memories have been erased. This turns out to be untrue, but in the meantime, we get a look at a future version of the Enterprise crew that includes everyone's favorite android, Data, who has been promoted to first officer (Riker is now the captain of the ship). This is the only episode where Data wears red. I understand that he wears gold as the chief operations officer, but it always seemed to me that Data might be better suited as the chief science dude, and would have worn blue. Ah well.

Riker in Gold: "Second Chances" (Season 6, Episode 24)

Here's the only episode in this bunch that's not based on an alternate reality. In fact, heh heh, that's not the raffish Will Riker in the pic above at all. Instead, as a result of a freak transporter accident, Riker had been duplicated into two beings, and one of them was left stranded on a planet for eight years. He's eventually rescued, but as a lieutenant in the operations division, he still wears the gold uniform color he'd sported when he was left behind. This Riker ends up changing his name to Thomas (the middle name both Rikers share) and continuing his career in Starfleet... for awhile.

That's all, folks
As far as I'm aware, these are the only episodes in which the crew of Enterprise-D wore uniforms other than their own familiar colors, but I could easily be wrong. Feel free to add a comment to correct me, or to just call me a big ol' geek. I won't mind. I've accepted who I am by now, I promise.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Second Life Radio Stations

I've been criminally negligent in mentioning the Internet radio stations that focus on Second Life musicians. Mea culpa. Most of you have heard me whine about the trials and tribulations of getting terrestrial radio airplay; meanwhile, there are several great stations who go above and beyond the call of duty to support the SL music scene, where I've been getting airplay for a number of years in some cases. Let's talk about them below, in alphabetical order as to not piss anyone off.

Before we do, please note that all three of the stations discussed below can be accessed like any Internet-based radio station, meaning you can listen via tools like iTunes and Windows Media Player, as well as by plugging the station's stream address into your parcel in SL. Please give each station a try; I will include a link to their stream and their web sites for each example.

While most radio stations rely on advertising for income, all of the stations presented here were created by individuals who put in the time, effort and money to set up and maintain the stations out of the goodness of their respective hearts. The only advertising you'll hear are short "bumpers" for the stations ("Hi, this is Juel Resistance, and you're listening to IndieSpectrum Radio!") or mentions of events that involve the stations. They get no direct financial benefit from doing what they do, and hopefully are rewarded with the appreciation of the community.

Another important note: there are literally thousands of Internet radio stations that can be accessed in SL, since you are simply able to get the station's stream address and plug it into the media settings in your SL parcel. However, the three stations below are differentiated by exclusively playing music by SL artists. If I've missed any other stations that fit this description, you are always welcome to let me know by dropping me a line in the comments section or by emailing me (zak at zakclaxton dot com). Okay, enough preamble... bring on the SL radio stations!

FCMC Radio

FCMC stands for First Call Musicians Co-op, and it's an SL-based organization put together by resident Reslez Steeplechase. Originally set up as a management/promotion service to liaison between musicians and venues, FCMC has also branched out into areas like a magazine, and a radio station. FCMC Radio was founded in May 2007 to help fulfill Reslez' commitment to better promote SL-based musicians. The station is not limited to artists who are part of the FCMC organization; it seems that all SL musicians are welcome to submit their songs to the station.

As is the case with many Second Life endeavors, Reslez runs the station all by himself, meaning he creates the playlists, handles the technical administration of the station, and deals with any administrative actions that arise from time to time. While FCMC Radio will play all genres of music by all Second Life artists, they try to focus on original material (rather than covers), though they also accept songs that are in the public domain.

Getting music to FCMC Radio, as is the case with all three stations mentioned here, is very easy. Reslez has systems in place for song files to be emailed or put on an FTP site. The only requirement is for the artist to be independent and for them to have performed in SL. Listeners can use the station's web site to see who is playing currently, as well as to request songs by artists, who are listed alphabetically.



IndieSpectrum Radio

In terms of reaching a large number of listeners, IndieSpectrum Radio (ISR) is the current king of SL radio stations. In fact, according to ISR founder and owner Fox Reinsch, the station has consistently appeared in the top 30% of all Shoutcast-based Internet radio stations. It's the only one that comes up in the iTunes list of radio stations (under the "eclectic" category, not surprisingly), and features about 200 SL-based artists with over 1500 songs in their playlist.

ISR was founded in November 2007 by Fox Reinsch, whose background in the audio business helped him get rolling on the radio. Fox's decision to start the station was based on his desire to help out a friend, musician Kori Carothers (Kori Travanti in SL). He'd been an SL resident for over a year before he found out about the live music scene, and felt that a radio station would help tell the whole SL world about live music.

Like FCMC, ISR is a one-man operation. Fox spends hours each week on the station and its accompanying web site, It's a huge undertaking, but the results have paid off with its benefit to the entire SL music scene.

ISR plays all types and genres of music. Originally, Fox felt he would have to go through each submission and cull the good form the bad, but quickly found that everything he received was worthwhile of getting exposure on the radio, so he plays it all. In order to best support the musicians who are active in the SL music scene, he tends to drop artists who depart form SL (especially if he doesn't personally dig the tunes).

The IndieSpectrum site makes it easy for artists to submit music for airplay. There's an "Artists Only" tab on the site's home page, and artists can just follow the instructions for uploading their music from there. Another nice thing about the site: unlike the others, music will automatically play for any visitor to the site, without having to take further steps to access it via a media player.

Like the other people in this article, Fox's main goal is to support the SL music scene. He says, "I would like to see everyone that is into live music tell everyone else! Take them to live shows, tell them about IndieSpectrum radio, and give them my free radios." Will do!



SL Live Radio

Founded and run by SL resident Cher Harrington, SL Live Radio was an evolution of an Internet station that Cher already had rolling at the time, called Radio Cher. She began incorporating MP3s sent to her from SL artists which she mixed in with the other material she was playing. By November 2007, the station began exclusively playing SL artists, and SL Live Radio was born. Starting with about 30 artists, Cher's station now features nearly all of the regular performers in the SL music scene.

Cher's experience as a DJ and radio operator is a bit more extensive than the others in this article; she'd been working in media buying and marketing/promotions before starting her station, and became a DJ in The Sims Online before joining SL in 2005. Like the others, she founded her station in order to better support the SL musicians. She notes, "Every time I played Rich Desoto's "Avatar Girl", they (the listeners) would ask me where they could purchase that song. I would send them over to Rich's kiosk at Crazy Sharks and they would buy his MP3!"

Another thing that separates SL Live Radio from the others is that it's supported by a team. Cher has worked closely with another of Second Life's most ardent music supporters, Ham Rambler, in handling music performances at the Dublin sim. When Ham was at a 2007 SL conference, he said that having a radio station to support SL artists would be a good idea, and Cher let him know that she had already started one. Ham then purchased the station, and resident Sitearm Madonna volunteered to create the station's website and promotional materials. Cher is also helped in running the station by other members of the Dublin staff.

Like the other stations, no type of music is unwelcome at SL Live Radio. In fact, Cher is fine with broadcasting cover songs and more. "SL Live Radio plays any music from any live artist in Second Life," she says. "I've had inquiries from artists who only sing, or who only do instrumental music, or who only perform covers, asking if it is still okay to send it. 'It's about the music,' I tell them, 'It's not whether it's a cover or just singing to backing tracks, it's all music.'"

Getting music on SL Live Radio is easy. Like the other stations, SL Live is happy to play stuff from any SL musician, which is the only requirement for airplay. For more info, just click the "Artist Information" link at, or just email your MP3 files to Cher's advice for everyone in the SL music community? "Engage the audience and make it fun and welcoming, whether you are hosting or performing, DJing or running a radio station. Everyone there has potential to be connected with you in some way, whether it's that they are interested in performing themselves, or a groupie that will go to future shows, or will tune in to your radio station, or come back to your venue."



Thanks to Cher, Fox, and Reslez for their efforts in their respective stations, as well as for talking to us for this article! And as I said above, if you have anything to add in regard to radio stations for Second Life artists, we're all ears.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

ZCHFS #6 Report (04.17.10)


It was episode six of the Zak Claxton Happy Fun Show today, and I'm pleased to report that this episode lived up to its name... there was much happiness and fun. If you missed it (and you probably did), you can check it out above, since we remembered to press the "record" button for the second consecutive week.

The quick synopsis of episode 6: Zak chats for a few minutes when people arrive. He shows off his grungy NHL playoff beard. And then he plays songs and stuff.

ZCHFS #6 Set List...
Pigs on the Wing Part 1 (Pink Floyd)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
Polly (Nirvana)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Any Major Dude (Steely Dan)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
A Day in the Life (Beatles)

Huge thanks to our viewers, including Diana Renoir, Xerxes Ninetails, Gus Lozada, Scott Boettcher, Blue2Blue, the Stranger, Jon Levy, Eva Moon, Geezer, Zenfira Wardhani, NoCal Honey, and any guests we had... as well as my lovely co-producer Kat!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Astral Dreams (04.16.10)

Photos courtesy of Diana Renoir.

So there I was, in Second Life, sitting on a comfortable love seat in my virtual office (while my real ass was perched on my desk seat in my real office, natch). I'd gone in to contact some people to set up some shows. I'd been negligent in reaching to people since my last flurry of gigs, and realized my schedule was looking pretty sad and empty.

Just then my IM notice chimed. It was Sandy Demina, who I've known for quite awhile, and have played for her at Italian Mood awhile back. She asked if I'd be interested in doing a show, and I said I would, and asked her when the show would be. "Tomorrow," she answered.

Well, I usually want a little more than 24 hours notice of shows, but it worked out that my schedule was flexible enough to take this one. Besides, it seemed interesting: she let me know that Moolto, a social network for avatars, was planning a virtual flash mob for the event. Well that seemed pretty cool. And, as you loyal readers have seen me write many times before, I really like the opportunities to play at new places and expose new people to my music.

So I agreed, and today I went over to Astral Dreams, a large Italian fashion mall with an ancient Greek motif. Pretty nice-looking place, all made of marble textures with columns and so on. I set up my stuff and at 12:30, kicked off the set. Sure enough, a few minutes later, about 25 people appeared out of nowhere (well, that's just the way you appear in Second Life, heh heh), and according to my audio stream statistics we had something like 55 listeners. That's not bad at all for a show in the middle of a weekday.

Of course, the downside of getting rushed by a virtual flash mob is that at some point, they have to flash on out of there to go to their next event. But even so, we kept a fairly good-sized crowd there for the duration of the show; it's not like the rea emptied. And more importantly, everyone seemed to be having a good time. Since I don't read or speak Italian, I'm just going to assume what people were saying was complimentary. I'm an optimist.

Set List at Astral Dreams...
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Rikki Don't Lose That Number (Steely Dan)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Wonderwall (Oasis)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
Heart of Gold (Neil Young)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Tangled Up In Blue (Bob Dylan)

Grazie tanto to all the people who supported my show today at Astral Dreams!
Diana Renoir (who also took photos), Kat Claxton, Jura Shepherd, Aurelie Chenaux, Lacy Muircastle, Astral Dreams owner Jack Davies, and Sandy Demina!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fibber Magees (04.14.10)

I came within millimeters of canceling today's show.

See, I awoke with a sore throat, and it's still sore. However, I got to a point about an hour before my show at Fibber Magees in SL Dublin where I was pretty sure it would hurt too much to sing, and that any sounds I could get out of my throat would resemble a rusty door hinge. Even after a Listerine gargle, a salt water gargle, a lozenge, and two ibuprofen, I still wasn't too confident about singing for a solid hour. However, miraculously, once I got there and we started pulling in a really good-sized crowd, I magically felt good enough to pull it off.

Fibber Magees is quite often a really good gig, and today was no exception. They have a phenomenal hosting staff and are very organized, yet everyone is kick-back and fun to be around. For a variety of reasons, I am really, really glad I didn't wuss out and cancel. I still have three days until my next show, the Zak Claxton Happy Fun Show on Saturday, so I should be fine by then.

Also, let it be said that Dublin owner Ham Rambler is really one of the finest supporters of live music in SL. I don't think that can be said often enough.

Today's set list...
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Better Man (Pearl Jam)
Day After Day (Badfinger)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Jane (Barenaked Ladies)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
Pigs on the Wing Part 1 (Pink Floyd)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
After the Gold Rush (Neil Young)

Big thanks to everyone who supported today's show at Fibber Magees... you are great!
Diana Renoir, Nuage Giha, Bellabee Melody, Otawan Fouquet, Kat Claxton, Jukebox Diesel, Geezerly Toxx, Kara Vinciolo, and the terrific staff... Phooka Heron, Riko Kamachi, Cher Harrington, and Ham Rambler!

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Updates: The Version 2 Blues

Ah, Spring. A time of renewal, of birth, of cleaning out the cobwebs, and dusting off the cliched metaphors.

It's also apparently a time when large online communities do complete overhauls of their systems, and that, my friends, is what this post is about. Two very different systems -- Harmony Central and Second Life -- coincidentally rolled out their respective Version 2 recently, and the reactions have been... well, rough. Rough with some similarities, but also with some interestingly different reasons. Let's take a quick look at what happened in each case and see if we can tell why.

Brief digression: I'm not going to editorialize on either platform updates. My opinion of this stuff is no more valid than anyone's and to say there's a "wide range of opinions" is putting it mildly. Instead, I'm here to talk about the reactions of the communities involved, and perhaps look at the reasons behind those reactions.

Harmony Central 2.0

Harmony Central is probably the largest online community for musicians. It was founded in 1994 by a couple of young, enterprising guys (Scott Lehman and Wilson Chan) who were operating the site from their dorm room at the time. I distinctly remember the first time they pitched the site to me; I was a marketing drone for an audio equipment manufacturer at the time, and they were approaching me as a potential advertiser. We weren't yet able to realize the implications of online advertising in its nascent state, and while I declined to lend financial support at the time, I began keeping an eye on the site.

Scott and Wilson eventually sold the site to a private investor, venture capitalist Ray Campbell, who was more experienced at the business end than they were. But still, banner advertising and sponsored content was a hard sell for the traditionalists in the music/audio products business, and the dot-com crash happened around the same time. A few years later, in 2005, the entire site was sold to the industry's largest retailer, Musicians Friend (a division of Guitar Center). The site's main draw was based on three things: up-to-date news on instruments and audio gear, user-written product reviews, and a high-traffic set of forums that were arranged in dozens of sub-forums for various specialized information (electric guitars, basses, songwriting, recording, and so on).

Fast forward to 2010. The original version of Harmony Central was powered via some custom code that Scott and Wilson wrote, and then around 2000 they switched to a more standardized forum software, the familiar vBulletin. While it was familiar for the long-term users, there were some inherent problems and deficiencies, and starting in 2009, they began taking steps to upgrade to a new system. Harmony Central 2.0, therefore, is powered via Jive Software. Jive is an established brand, and a wide range of companies use them for forums, social networking, content management and more. Since many of the capabilities of the new engine greatly improve the type of tools available to the users' disposal, you'd think that this upgrade would be met with hearty enthusiasm by the site's users, right?

Heh heh. No, not so much.
A software package is only as good as its implementation, and Harmony Central made a good effort at thinking through the changeover. They did a preview Beta for months beforehand and invited user feedback, but it wasn't until they flipped the switch last week that many of the flaws based on the typical user experience became apparent. Among many things the site members have been screaming about...

• Not all content was ported at the same time, so one of the major draws of the site -- the User Review area -- has been mostly inaccessible.

• The basic structure of the site still seems to be in flux, with strange navigation quirks that seem to leave people lost at various times.

• The initial rollout of the site's color complement was met with universal hatred. While they've since toned it back a bit, the former site had a easy-on-the-eyes contrast of purples and blues, while the rollout of HC 2.0 offered an extremely stark white background with a small default font that was really hard to read for extended periods of time.

• Many long-time users found themselves unable to log into the site since the switchover. The migration to the new software required a re-signup process that went fine for most... as long as they had access to the original email addy they used to initial register for the site, which for some people was a decade ago.

• Last but definitely not least, the site has been difficult (and in some cases impossible) to view or post to using certain browsers. It would seem that as of the writing of this post, no mobile devices like iPhones or Blackberrys are able to post to the site, which was not a problem before the transition.

Believe it or not, there's more, but the above situations alone spell bad things for this upgrade. Even though they've kept the word "beta" in the site header, a significant number of members have made histrionic farewell speeches and have claimed to be leaving the community for good. Sadly, it seems that even some of the forum moderators have crossed over to the dark side, and there are probably reasons why you can't blame them. In any case, there has been four straight days of screaming, threats, suggestions of boycotts and all the rest of the stuff you expect from a truly unhappy user base.

What can we learn from this? As opposed to picking apart the site itself or the way its upgrade was rolled out, the one thing we know for sure is that people just hate change. They hate, hate, hate it. And when forced into a change for whatever reason (many quite legitimate), they're going to be looking hard for valid reasons to justify their hate. Unfortunately, in the case of Harmony Central, they were given reasons a-plenty. It's at the point where users are designing their own skins for the newly-designed site to make it look as much as possible like the old version.

Still, in the short time since the new site was launched, I've noted that a good number of improvements have already been made, and some of the missing content is filtering back into view. My prediction is that the size of the site's member base and the value of the content collected from 15+ years will outweigh the problems they're experiencing right now during the changeover. And while it will be different (which is what it was supposed to be... different), it will probably be fine. Eventually.

Second Life Viewer 2

Here's a remarkably different situation than the above tale of woe, but with some similarities. Second Life isn't a web site; it's an entire 3D virtual world that was created by its users (called "residents"). Founded in 2003, the service had its big growth period in 2006, which is when I joined up. As opposed to a browser like you'd use on the web, Second Life has a proprietary viewer that allows for 3D interaction in the online world.

While gradual improvements in Second Life have come out in dribs and drabs since its introduction, the basic feel of the UI has remained mostly unchanged until recently, when Viewer 2 was unveiled. Like Harmony Central, residents of Second Life were given quite some time to preview the new Viewer in beta before the official release.

Some of the new bells and whistles of Viewer 2 are pretty fantastic. I won't get into all the techno-geeky descriptions of it, but much of it meets the long-term wish lists of many residents over the years, and then some. So why not open the champagne and celebrate? Well, there are two factors here.

First, as opposed to a free web site like Harmony Central, many residents of Second Life pay money to use the service in various ways, and some of them have set up virtual businesses that they use for actual income. Massive changes in the format can mean changes in the way they do business, and paid services have higher expectations from its customers than free services.

Second, and this should sound familiar: people have trouble adapting to large UI changes, and "not being able to find stuff" in Viewer 2 has been a real problem. You'd think that users who have been immersed in a platform for a number of years would have an advantage over the new folks, right? Well, in cases like these, some residents are so ingrained in the way they do things on the earlier viewer, they're having a hell of a time making use of formerly familiar operations in Viewer 2.

The second item can't be helped much. People are either going to love or hate the new look, or be ambivalent about it, but all are going to have to adapt if they want to continue being involved in Second Life at some point (currently, both the old viewer and new viewer remain compatible, so residents currently have a choice, which was a smart move by Second Life's makers).

But the first item is a real doozy. People who use Second Life for reasons beyond socialization and entertainment have relied on certain functions within the viewer. People who create and sell virtual clothing, for example, have noticed massive drops in their store traffic while people try to figure out the new systems. This might be temporary while the newness of Viewer 2 sinks in. But people who rely on events, such as live musicians or stores that have sales, are really up in arms, because it would seem that the new viewer makes it extraordinarily difficult to pull up listings with the ease that the old version had.

Unlike Harmony Central, which despite its popularity is just one more place on the web for people to kibitz and find info, Second Life is a unique platform that doesn't have an alternative that functions in the same manner. In other words, if you don't like it, you can just go design your own virtual world and live in it. Not a simple prospect.

But in both cases, it would seem that there are reasons for some of the UI changes that are beyond what's being openly expressed to the respective user bases. Some of the specific issues aren't simple mistakes in design, but rather, perhaps, calculated changes that are only mistakes in that the designers assumed that the user base wouldn't be aware that there's an agenda behind the decisions. The new Harmony Central, for example, has much more area for online advertising (as a free site, serving ads is the only way it can generate income) which has affected the UI design. The reasons behind Second Life's decisions in the changes are a little harder to pinpoint. Why make events harder to find? Some have already suggested that since Second Life's income model is not positively affected by resident events, the designers have purposefully buried this aspect of the UI, perhaps leading to more of the types of transactions which do earn them some dough. It sounds paranoid and very speculative, and it probably is. But still, as they say, nature abhors a vacuum, and people will generally try and fill in their own reasons when none are plainly offered.

At the end of the day, the respective user bases of Harmony Central and Second Life will very likely continue using both services without much of a bump in the road once the transition time has passed. The customers' likelihood of making their own proactive changes really only increases when a clear advantage is presented by an entirely different party, and if anything would bring about the true demise of either service, it'll be a competitor who does what they do... but better, faster, or cheaper. In other words, as we rockers would say: meet the new boss, same as the old boss. And don't go changin' to try and please me.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Buy Me A Rose (04.10.10)

A very, very fun show at Buy Me A Rose today. Fun crowd, felt good performing, and whipped out a couple of covers I'd never done before. I cannot complain in the slightest.

The Set List...
*Better Man (Pearl Jam)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Alabama (Neil Young)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
*Landslide (Fleetwood Mac)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song in SL.

Huge thanks to all the great supporters at Buy Me A Rose today!
Broook Baxton, Diana Renoir, Trey Bayn, Bowie Zeplin, BuyMeARose Pinden, jsmn Yao, Beccca Baxton, Xerxes Ninetails, hexx Triskaidekaphobia, Basil Brooks, Kat Claxton, Aurelie Chenaux, and the great BMAR hosts/hostesses!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Pond (04.07.10)

Photos courtesy of Triana Caldera

Remember English literature class? Charles Dickens? Perhaps the most famous opening line from any novel? "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

My show today at The Pond wasn't quite that dramatic. In fact, it was a whole lot more good than bad, and even the bad wasn't all that bad. But the technology shark leapt from the depths of the murky sea and bit us all in the ass a couple of times during today's show. We ran smack into some stream problems. I say "we" because in a situation like today's show, where the original stream on my end is being rerouted to another stream for Internet radio broadcast, there are plenty of places where stuff can go wrong, and twice during my show, it did. Go wrong, that is; we had some choppiness and a cutout, which is never what you want. At least it wasn't only me; Capos Calderwood, who followed me, had the same issue right off the bat on his first song. I was lucky to make it through most of the show without a hitch, other than those two periods of suckness. Ah technology. You're my best friend except for those few times you make me want to beat you with a bat.

So despite all that, today's show was pretty much fun as hell, and just what I needed. It's like what some people get from working out, or meditating, or a round of golf. Performing live is a release for me and almost invariably feel better after I finish a show. We had a good, enthusiastic crowd at the Pond today (including lots of Zaksters), as well as quite a few more folks enjoying the show on the live radio simulcast at FCMC Radio. Per the nature of the event, all the songs were original Zak Claxton tunes.

The Set List...
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Shine (Zak Claxton)
Triana (Zak Claxton)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Come Around (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
Waiting for This (Zak Claxton)

Out of all those, we only had some intermittent stream problems on "Thanks Anyway", "Always Tomorrow", and "Waiting for This", from what I could tell. Not what I wanted, but not the end of the world either.

Big thanks to everyone who supported my show at the Pond!
Triana Caldera, que Zanzibar, Kathy Nikolaidis, Suka Nishi, Bowie Zeplin, Aurelie Chenaux, Kat Claxton, candie Aristocrat, BurningEmber Hotshot, Diana Renoir, MC2U Miles, and FCMC's own Reslez Steeplechase!

Atoms are mostly empty space

The universe is weird. Those of you who don't believe this just haven't looked closely enough.

For a very long time, it was thought that the smallest building block of all matter was the atom. The very name "atom" comes from a Greek word which means "uncuttable" or "indivisible", and we already know that's no longer true. Not only can it be divided (sometimes with spectacularly devastating results), but the atom itself is comprised of many smaller components.

The study of these smaller components (known as subatomic particles, appropriately) is called particle physics, and the science of how they interact is called quantum mechanics. It's all pretty intimidating. I'm no expert in the field; my math skills are barely on par with my son's, who is a fourth grader. But I do find some of the information pretty fascinating.

Very Small is as Weird as Very Large
Possibly weirder. We've all heard stuff about the theory of general relativity, which is used to describe things that happen on the very large scale of the universe, things that seem to violate some of the rules of classical physics. Well, guess what? When you get small enough, many of those rules seem to go out the window as well.

I'm not going to try and define this stuff here. If you're looking to my blog to learn about particle physics, you're screwed. There are plenty of places online to learn from better resources... although I'd be happy to Google that for you. But in any case, be aware that things happen at a subatomic level that don't seem to apply to the rest of the universe, and vice-versa. Instead of delving into all that, let's just talk about some fun facts. I like fun facts. They're fun.

This is an atom. It's small, but now we know that it's not the smallest thing.

The atom is mostly made of space in between particles.
As per the title of this post, the atom is a lot of nothing. Since everything is made of atoms, we sure have a lot of emptiness around us! It's true, though. To understand this, you have to be aware of a few components that make up the atom. Atoms have a nucleus made of protons and (with the one exception of hydrogen) neutrons which makes up 99.9% of its mass, and is surrounded by a cloud of electrons. How much empty space is in between? If the proton of a hydrogen atom was the size of a marble, the nearest electron would be two miles away. In between? A whole lot of nothing. What holds them together? That gets complicated. Let's just call it an "energy force field", where the negative charge of the electron is bound to the positive charge of the proton in the nucleus via electromagnetic force (another interesting topic you might want to study at some point).

So most things are made of space? Why can't I walk through walls, then?
And why aren't you falling through the chair you're sitting in right now? Well, it's pretty simple: that empty space is hard to get into. The electrons are cruising around the nucleus very, very quickly. Think of it this way: there is a lot of space between cars barreling down a busy freeway, but you probably wouldn't want to run across it. Also like a multi-lane freeway, even if you made it past one layer of electrons, there are often several layers (or shells) of orbiting particles, so you'd have to be really lucky to get through all of them. If you want to look at it purely theoretically, it's actually not impossible to walk through a wall... just very, very improbable that you'll "miss" each of the billions and billions of electrons of every atom between you and the other side.

This magnet is levitating over supercooled liquid nitrogen. Why? As Shakespeare wrote, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Compounding the matter is that the force that holds these particles together is pretty powerful. Think about the power needed to split an atom. It's probably more than you have in your body. And then, the atoms themselves bond to other atoms to form molecules. These things are tough to separate. However, if you want to try running full speed at a wall in the off-chance you'll make it through, don't let me stop you. But do have your medical insurance paid first.

So, everything is made of these little particles, eh?
Well, uh... sort of. Sometimes they seem like particles in that they have mass. But other times, they act like waves of energy. That's an important concept to grasp, since it applies to, well, everything in the universe: see wave-particle duality. This topic came up when people were trying to figure out what light was. Is it an energy wave? A stream of particles? The current theory says it's both, and so is everything else.

A light shines on a thin plate with two parallel slits cut in it, and the light passing through the slits strikes a screen behind them. If light is a wave, then the light waves pass through both slits to interfere. But at the screen, the light is always found to be absorbed as though it were made of discrete particles, called photons. Both answers are right.

Why are these things called "elementary particles"?

Because they're not made of anything smaller. Yeah, I know: we used to think that about the atom, and we were wrong. But we now have the technology to prove this stuff with empirical evidence that can be known via direct observation. What we don't really know for sure is how and why they behave as they do. We have theories that hopefully someday will be proven (or disproved) which will really help us have a better understanding of this universe in which we live. There aren't very many elementary particles, as it turns out. There are fermions (12 different kinds of quarks and leptons), and number of bosons that we probably haven't finished discovering or proving yet. Everything in the entire universe is made of this stuff... you, me, your computer, the sun, your house cat, the tree outside your window, the sky, the Doritos you just snacked on... everything.

What is "string theory"?
This shit is really complex. It's not something I can boil down to a cute sentence or two. String theory is an idea that what we observe in particle physics is only one aspect of many dimensions (between 10 and 26, per current theories). It would help explain some of the behavior of particles that don't line up with the general laws of physics. The problem is that by definition, it seems unprovable. I guess we'll wait and see.

One reason this stuff is so hard to understand: it's, like, really small. You have macroscopic level, molecular level, atomic level (protons, neutrons, and electrons), subatomic level (electrons), even smaller subatomic level (quarks), and then string level.

What is gravity? And why are you mentioning it here?
You probably have some understanding of gravity. Like, if you trip, it's more likely that you'll fall down, as opposed to up. You're standing on a planet that has quite a bit of mass, at least compared to you. And things with more mass attract things with less mass. Actually, to be accurate, all things with mass attract all other things. To a very minute degree, the Earth is also falling up at you. Anyway, there are only four known fundamental forces... "fundamental" because they can't be described via other interactions. Those four are electromagnetism, strong interaction, weak interaction, and gravitation. At a quantum (subatomic) level, we've observed that there are aspects to gravitation that don't seem to fit the same rules that apply to large items like stars, planets, and so on. The attempt to reconcile these incongruities will hopefully result in something called the theory of everything. I like that name. If you really want to keep yourself busy, just ponder the entire list of unresolved problems in physics. Fun stuff.

Everything in the universe attracts everything else. But the way large objects display gravitation is different than what we see at the subatomic level. This is a problem.

All of this is confusing.
Yes. It is. But at some point, it's the study of this stuff that will not only allow a better understand of what's around us, but might lead to things like time travel, or faster-than-light travel, or the exploration of other dimensions that we can't even conceptualize now. It could be cool.

Why are you writing about this?
I don't know. I do things that I feel like doing when I feel like doing them. I'm glad I usually don't need a reason for much of what I do, since I rarely stop to think of justification for it.

Why should I care about any of this?
You don't really need to. Life has existed here on Earth for about 3.5 billion years, and humans have existed in the current form for about 200,000 years. For nearly all of that time, no one had any idea about this stuff, and yet lived presumably happy lives. But ultimately, the reason you should know about this is because you can. It's one of the only things that makes you unique in the animal kingdom, this capability to understand extraordinarily complex topics. But a house cat seems to be able to enjoy himself without ever worrying about what the universe is made of and how it works, and you can too. It's all up to you.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Notes Shack (04.04.10)

I usually don't realize how much I miss playing live music until I take a little break from it. I guess that's pretty typical of many things in life you can take for granted until they're not there. In Neil Young's biography Shakey, Neil describes the reasoning behind his interest in a multitude of activities, from model train building through filmmaking through motorcycle riding and much more. He says that all of those other things and like breathing out, while music is inhaling. He needs those other things to be able to step away from his music momentarily, in order to be freshly inspired when he invariably comes back to it.

Well, I didn't take much of a break. My last show in SL (also at the Notes Shack) was only a few weeks ago, and since then I've also done two of my live video programs, the Zak Claxton Happy Fun Show. But still, when you're on a roll playing a few times a week, a three week break feels like a big deal. And I'm glad I did it; during that time period, I also finished lyrics and did a demo for a new song that I ended up playing for the first time in SL today.

We had a fun crowd on this Easter Sunday, and the tunes were coming out good. It was the SL premiere of my new tune "Shine" which, as it did at yesterday's ZCHFS, went over very well. This show was also the first use of our new kiosk, which allows for song purchases in addition to tipping, and I was very happy to se a couple of people bought songs while I played. Good times. By the way, while I was writing this post, we felt the strong effects of the 7.2 Baja California earthquake. I'm taking that as a good sign.

Today's set list at the Notes Shack...
Save It For Later (English Beat)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
*Shine (Zak Claxton)
Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
†My Heart (Neil Young)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Ashes to Ashes (David Bowie)
*When You Dance I Can Really Love (Neil Young)

*Indicates first time I have performed this song in SL
†Most recent performance of "My Heart": July 6, 2008

Big thanks to everyone who came out to the Notes Shack today and made it fun. Thanks for supporting my show!
Bowie Zeplin, Triana Caldera, Basil Brooks, Horizon Darkstone, Larkworthy Antfarm, Jordan Hazlitt, ZeroOne Paz, Kat Claxton, and the most excellent host Krakov Letov!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Report: Zak Claxton Happy Fun Show #5


We did Episode #5 today of the ZCHFS, and it was great. You can watch the entire show above (or at the link above if the video is a no-show).

Today was the world premiere of a new ZC song... the first brand new one in a loooong time. I opened the show with "Shine", a song that I'm planning on recording for the next album. I also played "Time Never Waits for You", which I wrote in early 2009 but decided not to include on the debut.

The ZCHFS #5 Set List...
*Shine (Zak Claxton)
†Time Never Waits for You (Zak Claxton)
*De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da (The Police)
Always Tomorrow (Zak Claxton)
Thanks Anyway (Zak Claxton)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Falling Down (Zak Claxton)
Tribute (Tenacious D)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
This Afternoon (Zak Claxton)
Waxing Gibbous (Zak Claxton)

*Indicates the first time I've performed this song live.
†Last performance of "TNWFY": November 10, 2009.


Hello Cleveland!

Jesus Christ pose on Easter weekend? Ouch.

Oh good, knock over the mic stand...

Nice save!


Now I need a drink.

I'm Zak, your musical fool.