Monday, December 31, 2012

A Very Short Film About Miami's Vintage Motorcycles

Many places have a local bike night and seeing what Miami has going on, looks to be a great place to be. 2013 is shaping up to be a great year and stoked to hit up a lot of new events and all the ones we attend year after year. 

A Day in the Life from METAL305 on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reno Divorce Album Release Party 12.31.12

New years is fast approaching and we know the plans need to be made asap. If ya need a road trip, plane flight or greyhound ticket, get on it now. This show is a guaranteed packed house and one great night coming up. Huge things are coming up for Reno Divorce and it's all we can do, to keep a lid on it. Stay tuned.

Get your tickets from the Marquis Theater

Buy your copy of Lover's Leap right here

Reno Divorce album release party on 12.31.12

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lester's Time Has Come Today, Corrupt Music Labels Need To Pay Royalties

If you have listened to classic rock, there are artists for whom you aren't sure of their names, but you know the melody and can place the music to a certain era. The Chambers Brothers are one of those bands that could finally be getting the recognition they deserve and the royalties owed for past album sales

One saddening notion to hear about are the musicians, who haven't been paid for their past record sales in the pre-digital download era. It is currently far easier to track the sale of music through streaming and downloads, thus allowing the sales to be transparent, instead of fuzzy math. For all the musicians that came before the explosion of Itunes and other digital outlets, getting exact figures on album sales was a shady aspect of the business. The sad part is that we still know of bands this is happening to, due to bad business dealings and out right thievery.

Social Media and the explosion of the internet have created a whole new outlet for bands to grow. As an artist be on top of your music and the business end of it, to build a solid foundation for your efforts to flourish.

Find out more about Lester Chambers on Kickstarter

"Record companies screwed over Lester Chambers of The Chambers Brothers for decades and as a result, today he's poor. My social enterprise, breadpig, is working with Lester and his son Dylan to organize this Kickstarter to back a new album by (and entirely owned by) Lester Chambers himself so the man can finally get his due. The open internet can make right what the music industry has done so wrong.

As seen on r/videos and the frontpage of YouTube, this trailer of Lester's story has now had over 500,000 views!

Read Lester's reddit Ask Me Anything interview from Dec 13th.
Last spring, we saw the story of Lester Chambers bubble up on the internet. The lead singer of 1960s soul music group The Chambers Brothers posted this photo:

Lester Chambers' Viral Photo
Lester Chambers' hand written note on never receiving royalties for his music

“I am the former lead singer of a 60′s band. I did not squander my money on drugs or a fancy home. I went from 1967-1994 before I saw my first royalty check. The music giants I recorded with only paid me for 7 of my albums. I have never seen a penny in royalties from my other 10 albums I recorded. Our hit song was licensed to over 100 films, TV & commercials without our permission. One major TV network used our song for a national commercial and my payment was $625 dollars. I am now 72, trying to live on $1200 a month. Sweet Relief, a music charity, is taking donations for me. Only the 1% of artists can afford to sue. I am the 99%.”

The music industry may have screwed Lester Chambers for decades, but we the internet public can right their wrong.

Thanks to the open internet (things we fought for against SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, etc.), sites like Kickstarter and other innovations that are being worked on by entrepreneurs right now, we have the opportunity to do right by artists and cut out those who'd mistreat them. We have the opportunity to create solutions that will support artists in the digital world.

The Chambers Brothers
The Chambers Brothers

Lester Chambers is putting together a new album titled "Lester's Time Has Come." With this project, we have the opportunity to support not only the awesome work of a storied and talented musician, but we have the chance to stand up against the tyranny of the record industry. Stand with Lester, and stand for innovation that supports artists' rights.

A note from Lester: "I thank God for the opportunities I have been blessed with and when Alexis Ohanian called all I could say was WOW. All the times I sat hoping and wishing I could make another record had finally come true. In this record I promise to have some of the worlds GREATEST songs from your past and some Great New songs for your new year to come!"
Read more about Lester in his interview with Vice.

Father & Son
Lester Chambers with his son Michael Dylan

Even with a daunting list of illnesses and a life of hardship at the hands of the music industry, Lester is not a beaten man, far from it, and it's clear that his son is a big part of that.

"My son, Michael Dylan, said 'Dad don't worry. I'm never gonna leave you. Always stay by your side.' He slept on the floor with me.... Every father in the world should have a son like I have."
"Fathers be aware, if your son is not what Michael Dylan is to me, to you -- straighten him out."

Lester & Dylan Chambers, a few years later.
Lester & Dylan Chambers

Funds from this project will go to Lester via the Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, which provides financial assistance to career musicians who are struggling to make ends meet while facing illness, disability, or age-related problems. Sweet Relief has been supporting Lester and other musicians in need, and they will be helping produce Lester's album.

This project is managed by Breadpig, an online publisher headed by Alexis Ohanian. Breadpig gives a majority of its profits to its artists (in this case 100%).

We cannot thank Lester and his son Dylan for opening up to us and taking a day to tell their story. May this kickstarter campaign let us all finally say that Lester's Time Has Come.

Lester still rocks.
Lester Chambers performing in San Francisco

Special thanks to Lerone Wilson of Boondoggle Films for all video work, as well as Maneli Jamal, who generously rocked the music on said video.
Here is Lester's detailed budget for this album, Lester's Time Has Come.
Rehearsal costs: $3,800
Producer: $8,000
Musicians (Band): $8,000
Five Weeks Studio Time: $10,000
Mastering: $2,400
Musician fees (including Tower of Power Horns, Lenny Williams, Zakiya Hooker, Ant Dog, & Marin City Choir): $6,200
TOTAL: $38,400

Lester & Alexis
Add captionLester & Alexis

Filming this kickstarter trailer in Lester's home.
Filming this kickstarter trailer in Lester's home

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The Christmas songs are all set, and we'll be sending those along to all our backers on a rolling basis. 

The album "Lester's Time Has Come" is a work in progress. We'll be working on the album, and the art as this campaign rolls along. We hope to keep you as looped into the process as much possible. We'll send updates your way, and let you know if there are any delays in production. 

And of course if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to any of us."

The Real Thing, A Re-Imagined Boss Mustang

"THE REAL THING is a short documentary about custom hot rod builder BODIE STROUD and his re-imagining of a classic Mustang by way of an extremely rare and powerful motor built specifically for legendary racer Mario Andretti's 1969 Can Am series race car.

The film follows the complex and creative build from its early stages, through its initial test drive all the way to an unveiling at the SEMA Car Show in Las Vegas where Bodie comes face to face with Mario Andretti himself."

Directed and Photographed by Julian King
Edited by Cassidy Gearhart
Sound Design and Mix by Omar Jon Ajluni
Music: "TRT" by Omar Jon Ajluni, "Soft Temple" by Grails, "Alma" by Oren Ambarchi
Featuring Bodie Stroud, Mario Andretti, Mitchell McDonald, Stephanie Pacheco, Clark Gillie
Produced by Julian King and Robert Valderrama
Steadicam / First Assistant Camera: Tanner Stauss
Production Sound: Ian Thompson
Key Grip: Justin Raths
DIT: Benjamin Verhulst

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hello Sailor! The Nautical Roots of Popular Tattoos, From Collectors Weekly

"Man, this would look bitchin' as a tattoo!" Ever heard those words before? Yep, that notion along with many others are sort of a departure point for some folks thinking on a tattoo design. If you ever sit in a chair in a busy tattoo shop, just soak in that burning needle and have a good laugh to yourself seeing the folks come through the door, looking to get a tattoo for the sake of having themselves adorned with skin art. Not to deride their interest or the tattoo artist who can line his pocket with some quick cash, but more thought should be applied to each tattoo.

Through our continual perusing of the web seeking out interesting content to read and enjoy, we came across this article relating to the history of nautical tattoos. If you hang out at any punk show or see enough "alternative" individuals a tattooed nautical star will surely beam out at some point. Does that person necessarily know where the symbol comes from or its true roots? Most likely not, so educate them on the true history. The same goes for those who continue to get traditional style tattoos with other nautical themes. Maybe ask them if they can tie a bowline knot or half hitch, what a cleat is or maybe which side of the boat is starboard. If they cannot, grill them on some sailor talk and what their tattoos really mean. 

Knowledge is power and if you want to adorn yourself with permanent art, know the damn meaning. Give respect to the elder explorers and those who went on adventures maybe to never return home. 

"If you live a life of make-believe, your life isn't worth anything until you do something that does challenge your reality. And to me, sailing the open ocean is a real challenge, because it's life or death." - Morgan Freeman

View original article on Collectors Weekly

Traditional tattoo designs, like anchors, swallows, and nautical stars, are popping up on the arms and ankles of kids in every hip neighborhood from Brooklyn to Berlin, Sao Paulo to San Francisco. Yet these young land lubbers probably don’t even know the difference between a schooner and a ship, much less where the term “groggy” comes from. (Hint: Grog once referred to a watered-down rum issued by the British Royal Navy to every sailor over age 20.)
“There’s no way to take a tattoo home, except in your skin.”
In fact, contemporary tattooing in the West can be traced to the 15th century, when European pilgrims would mark themselves with reminders of locations they visited, as well as the names of their hometowns and spouses to help identify their bodies should they die during their travels. “The attractions of tattoos for itinerant populations are quite obvious,” says tattoo-art historian Matt Lodder. “They can’t be lost or stolen and they don’t encumber an already heavily burdened traveler, so it’s not a surprise that they became inextricably linked with sailors.”

Though tattooing was already present in much of Europe, during the 1700s, the visibility of exotic voyages taken by the likes of Captain James Cook helped cement the connection between tattoos and seafaring men in the popular media. The English word “tattoo” is actually a descendant of the Tahitian word “tatau,” which Cook recorded after a stop on the island while travelling in the South Pacific. European explorers frequently returned with tattooed foreigners to exhibit as oddities in the West, like Omai, the native Raiatean man Cook presented to King George and members of British royal society. Such publicity soon ignited a more widespread fascination with body art.

Top: A scene from Tattoo Jack’s shop in Denmark, circa 1942, from the book “Danish Tattooing” by Jon Norstrøm. Above: An etching of “Prince Giolo,” a tattooed slave captured from the Island of Miangas by William Dampier’s expedition in 1691.

“Explorers like Cook took sailors to the South Pacific, where tattooing was a highly developed art form going back centuries,” says C.W. Eldridge, the founder of the Tattoo Archive in Winston Salem, North Carolina. “These sailors wanted to bring back a record of this style of tattooing, and there’s no way to take a tattoo home except in your skin.” In places like Tahiti and New Zealand, tattoos were created using bone and soot, as their native populations weren’t familiar with metals until Europeans arrived. Many of the ordinary sailors on these crews returned with new tattoos, a tradition linked to their nautical lifestyle.

Body art was particularly well-suited to the transient and dangerous nature of life at sea. “These sailors were traveling the world, and wanted to bring back souvenirs from places they had visited,” explains Eldridge. “Aboard a ship, you don’t have much room to carry fancy souvenirs, so you end up getting tattoos as travel marks.” By the late 18th century, navy records show that around a third of British and a fifth of American sailors had at least one tattoo, while other accounts reveal that French, German, and Scandinavian navies were also fond of getting inked.

Two vibrant nautical designs by tattoo pioneer Samuel O'Reilly.
Two vibrant nautical designs by tattoo pioneer Samuel O’Reilly.

But beyond mere records of their travels, tattoos also served a superstitious purpose among those living an unpredictable, and often risky, lifestyle. “Many sailors are extremely superstitious,” says Eldridge, “so they would get specific tattoos to relieve this anxiety over their beliefs. There are stories of guys in the old, wooden-ship days who would get Christ’s head tattooed on their backs so if they got into trouble and had to take lashes, the person wielding the lash would be more sympathetic.”

The variety of designs matched each and every danger aboard a ship. “Sailors would get things like a pig and rooster on their feet to keep them from drowning,” Eldridge says. “They would have ‘Hold Fast’ tattooed on their knuckles so that when they were in the riggings, their hands would stay strong. They would get hinges on their elbows to keep them from having rheumatism and arthritis, and sometimes they would even get a little oil can tattooed above the hinge so that the hinges would stay lubricated.”

Though the meanings of such tattoos have often shifted according to context, for some sailors, crosses on the feet were an attempt to ward off sharks, swallows were associated with a safe voyage home, and nautical stars were linked to accurate navigation. “The stereotypical images we think of as classic tattoo designs today—pierced hearts, swallows, anchors, suns and moons, mermaids, naked women, memorial images such as graves, and religious imagery such as crosses—were all common motifs by the time militaries started recording the tattoos of enlisted men,” says Lodder. “All these designs can be found in naval handicrafts and folk art of the same period, too, etched into tobacco tins, carved into whalebone as scrimshaw, or included in love-tokens made from beads and shells.”

Captain Elvy, who worked as a sideshow attraction, displays his beautiful back piece designed by "Sailor" George Fosdick.
Captain Elvy, who worked as a sideshow attraction, displays his beautiful back piece designed by “Sailor” George Fosdick.

By the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, the most common naval tattoos were those we still see today: initials and names; things connected to the sea; religious symbols; marks, spots, or rings; love symbols; and patriotic emblems. “Tattooing was largely a naval affair during the first half of the 19th century,” says Lodder. “So the simple, iconographic designs of naval origin quickly became archetypal in the public imagination, and by the time the first professional tattoo shops opened in the late 1800s, they were already old-fashioned.”

Tattooing really took off after 1870, when the first professional tattoo shops opened in the United States and Great Britain. In America, the earliest tattoo parlor is attributed to a German immigrant named Martin Hildebrandt, who opened his business in lower Manhattan. Hildebrant practiced the slow art of giving tattoos by hand, using a row of needles attached to a wooden-handle which was rapidly tapped upon the skin. At the time, tattooing was an artisan trade typically learned by working with a well-established tattooer. “It was a craft,” says Eldridge, “usually learned through an apprenticeship. It’s exactly the way a seamstress would hem your pant cuff with a needle and thread rather than a sewing machine. They learned to manipulate the needle into the skin and to create designs by hand.”

Percy Water's innovative tattoo machine and a 1928 ad that mimics the artistry of hand-drawn flash.
A photograph of Percy Water’s tattoo machine and an advertisement from 1928, which mimics the artistry of hand-drawn flash.

In 1891, New York tattooist Samuel O’Reilly transformed Thomas Edison’s reciprocating pen used for engravings into an electric tattoo machine, and tattooing became a bona-fide industry. Though the tattoo machine has been improved, notably in the late ’20s by Percy Waters’ devices, which used alternating electromagnetic currents to propel the needle bar, the basic technology used to insert ink into skin remains virtually unchanged. As Eldridge says, “It’s like the wheel: They invented it and the damn thing’s still round. Of course, there have been refinements and the machine is more sophisticated, but the basic design principle is the same.”

This system of shared knowledge also helps explain why nautical designs were commonly copied and spread from artist to artist. “A lot of classic symbols were passed down from one war to the next, even going back to the Civil War,” explains Eldridge. “The tattooer might take an illustration, an etching, or a block print, do a drawing from that design, and put that on his sheets of flash,” the name for the paper ads tattooists created to show off their wares. Another tattooist would see a design and, in some cases, do a tracing directly off the person’s arm. “The designs were copyright-free and in the public stream,” Eldridge adds.

Left, a 1907 portrait of Mrs. Maud Stevens Wagner, the wife of tattooist Charlie Wagner. Right, a sailor with a patriotic chest piece by West Coast tattooist Bert Grimm.
Left, a 1907 portrait of Mrs. Maud Stevens Wagner, the wife of tattooist Gus Wagner. Right, a sailor with a patriotic chest piece by West Coast tattooist Bert Grimm.
In the 1920s, a wallpaper salesman and tattooer named Lew Alberts reportedly collected the designs of many popular tattoos and began selling paper prints to other tattooists. According to Lodder, “by the 1920s, there were several companies in the U.S. from whom you could buy mail-order design sheets, as well as tattoo machines, how-to-tattoo guides, and supplies.”

As military enlistment escalated prior to World War II, the American Navy caused another inadvertent boom in tattooing. Decades before, the U.S. government had issued a pamphlet with a passage requiring incoming recruits to fix any obscene tattoos, which primarily meant drawings of nude women. During the ’40s, this passage was a godsend for tattoo artists, as young men scrambled to censor their bodily markings so they could enlist. “It’s been just like old-home week around here since Pearl Harbor,” said Charlie Wagner, the famous New York tattooist. “Could you imagine how a store clerk would feel in a town where everybody’s clothes wore out at the same time? That’s how I’ve been feeling. For going on 50 years, I’ve been turning out tattooed ladies, most of them naked, and now all I do is cover them up.”

Even official U.S. Navy posters incorporated the ubiquitous nautical tattoos, like this image from the "Loose Lips Sink Ships" campaign of the '40s.
Even official U.S. Navy posters incorporated the ubiquitous nautical tattoos, like this image from the “Loose Lips Sink Ships” campaign of the ’40s.

Despite the industry’s saturation of generic nautical designs, a few artists like Charlie Wagner and Percy Waters helped propel traditional tattooing through their distinctive artwork. One of the most lauded innovators was Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, a Honolulu-based navy veteran who combined stylistic elements from Japanese, American, and European techniques to create his own unique look.

Lodder believes that Sailor Jerry’s influence on contemporary tattooing can’t be overstated. “He was an incredible draughtsman and artist who made use of the technical limitations of the medium to produce incredible designs. His pieces are complex enough to have life and energy, but simple and stripped-down enough that they look great in the skin, are readable from a distance, and age superbly.” Eldridge agrees that Sailor Jerry had a profound influence, possibly most distinguished by his ability to execute designs that looked even better on skin than they did on paper.

“There’s so much discipline in his line drawings,” Lodder adds, “but that tight style does nothing to reduce the sexiness of his pin-ups, the energy of his cartoons, the anger of his political designs, or the romance of his renditions of Hawaii. His style, a re-imagining of American tattooing of the 1920s and ’30s into a cleaner, bolder version for the 1950s and ’60s, established the ‘traditional’ tattoo in the late 20th century imagination.”

A sheet of Sailor Jerry's flash shows his expressive, clean-lined style.
A sheet of Sailor Jerry’s flash shows his expressive, clean-lined style.

Despite wide-scale recognition of Sailor Jerry’s artistic merits, there remains a misconception that until recently, only outcasts got tattoos. In fact, the practice has been favored by upper-class taste-makers for over a hundred years. As Lodder explains, “by the 1880s, most port cities and the large metropolitan areas boasted tattoo artists, often catering to very diverse and well-heeled clientele.”
“When the first tattoo shops opened in the late 1800s, they were already old-fashioned.”
One of the most visible of these affluent clients was King Frederik IX of Denmark, who took the throne in 1947. “He was from a Scandinavian country that treasured its seafaring tradition, so he went to sea at the age of 12,” says Eldridge, “It was almost a requirement for the king to understand how the Navy operated, because back then, whoever ruled the oceans ruled the world.”

In Britain, the expansion of professional tattooing was partly due to the trendiness of tattoos among the aristocracy following the Prince of Wales’ acquisition of a “Jerusalem Cross” during a trip he took to the Holy Land in 1862. “All the major London tattoo artists around the turn of the century made much of their celebrity clients—kings, princes, barons, music hall stars and entertainers—and their adverts were placed among those for champagne and high-end cigars in the tabloid press,” Lodder says.

Left, traditional American flash designs on 1960s flash. Right, King Frederik IX of Denmark shows off his tattooed torso.
Left, traditional American designs featured on Col. Todd’s flash in 1963. Right, King Frederik IX of Denmark shows off his tattooed torso.

Meanwhile, the popularity of tattooed characters in circus freak-shows spread the opposite message, that tattoos were only for those living in the darkest underworld of human existence. Beginning with the natives brought back by European explorers, people whose bodies were covered in tattoos realized they could make a living by exhibiting themselves to a paying public. “Eventually, sailors who had spent their lives at sea and had gotten heavily tattooed came back and went into show business, working with circuses or carnivals,” Eldridge says.

In the 2oth century, popular media outlets repeatedly hyped this dual view of tattooing as both a chic fashion for the wealthy and an expression of vile barbarity. A Vanity Fair article from 1926 claimed that tattoos had “percolated through the entire social stratum; tattooing has received its credentials, and may now be found beneath many a tailored shirt.” Ten years later, Life Magazine published an article that claimed 1 in 10 Americans had a tattoo.

After extensive research, Lodder has come to realize that “even when the press praised tattooing as newly respectable, newly fashionable, and a spectacular and ancient art form, as has happened every decade since the 1880s, other corners of the commentariat would decry tattooing as primitive, barbarous, and uncouth. Rather than waxing and waning in social acceptability over the 20th century, it’s more accurate to see these two strands as running in parallel.” Though sensationalist articles were meant to sow the seeds of controversy among readers, the majority of whom certainly did not have tattoos, they often reveal this repeated fallacy in the media coverage of tattoos.

A spread from the 1936 "Life Magazine" expose on tattoos in America.
A spread from the 1936 “Life Magazine” expose on tattoos in America.

From Eldridge’s perspective, our ambivalent views about tattoos in Western culture stem from engrained religious beliefs. “I really believe that prejudice is rooted in religion, and it’s going to take a long time for that to disappear,” says Eldridge. “Our country is a very religious, Christian country. Leviticus and all those Bible verses about ‘marking the body’ continue to hold a lot of sway.”

Lodder also emphasizes the importance of eugenics and racial hygiene theories at the end of the 19th century, which allowed scientists to equate tattooing with an uncivilized past. “The idea that you can judge a person’s moral character and worth by their appearance really took hold in intellectual circles, and tattooing was swept into that rhetoric. Even as articles appeared in the press about the future King George V getting tattooed in Japan, or praising Japanese tattooers for their highly developed skills, the scientific literature asserted that tattooing was barbaric and only for those of lower means—a strange ahistorical, counter-factual set of arguments which persist to this day.”

Despite continued stigma, in the United States the number of individuals with tattoos is definitely growing. A recent Harris poll found that nearly a third of the population between the ages of 18 and 39 has a tattoo. Eldridge traces the rise of contemporary tattooing to the debut of MTV in the early ’80s. “You know how television is in America: If it’s on television, then it is somehow validated. We’ve always emulated celebrities and musicians, inheriting their styles, clothing, cars, and everything else. So I think once MTV appeared and all these musicians were visible with their tattoos, it was only natural that their fans would start getting tattooed.”

Temporary tattoo products have long banked on the trendiness of sailor tattoos, as seen in this 1940s booklet. Image courtesy Ballyhoo Vintage.
Temporary tattoo products have long banked on the trendiness of sailor tattoos, as seen in this 1940s booklet. Image courtesy Ballyhoo Vintage.

But why are nautical tattoos so trendy today? “I think that pop culture goes in cycles, and tattooing has to be considered part of pop culture,” says Eldridge. Lodder also sees it as part of a generational cycle, in which the designs of our immediate past go out of style and those from earlier periods seem fresh again. The youth of the 1920s preferred the nautical imagery from the 1860s, rather than the Asian-influenced designs of the 1890s, while World War II linked tattooing so closely with the military that the postwar generation had little interest in tattoos.

“The rise of consumer culture along with the embrace of unadorned, streamlined modernist aesthetics in the 1950s also undoubtedly contributed to tattooing’s fall from grace,” Lodder says, “until its subsequent revival in the 1970s. Once again taking the lead from their grandparent’s generation, tattooing began to rise in popularity through the mid-’70s and ’80s, though in a visual-culture context propelled by postmodernism, conceptual art, and the impact of the avant garde, the design choices were increasingly eclectic, making the ‘traditional’ designs seem somewhat old hat.”

Which brings us to the present, and the hordes of young urbanites whose flesh is marked with symbols of mariners from centuries past. Eldridge finds that brands like Christian Audiger’s line of Ed Hardy clothing or Sailor Jerry Rum have had “a tremendous effect on the current popularity of traditional tattooing.” In 1995, Hardy also published “Flash from the Past,” which Lodder believes prefigured the revival of classic American tattooing.

But perhaps the most straightforward reason for the resurgence in traditional tattoos is the nostalgic allure of a fantasy life at sea, especially at a time when the present seems rather bleak. “Traditional American designs are steeped in romance,” says Lodder, “and come with a combative rhetoric of tradition, lineage, craftsmanship, and cultural memory, as well as a loudly defended sense of what tattooing is, and what it should be.”"

Matt Lodder's "Know More" hand tattoos blend naval superstition with academic sensibility.
Matt Lodder’s “Know More” hand tattoos blend naval superstition with academic sensibility.
To learn more about historic tattoos, follow Dr. Matt Lodder on Twitter, visit C.W. Eldridge at the Tattoo Archive in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and check out the Ballyhoo Vintage blog.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Iron and Air At Barber Vintage Days 2012

Every year the Barber Motorsports facility hosts it's vintage days festival. We were pushing hard to be able to make it out to the track as a vendor, but it just couldn't happen with so many projects going on at once. Our goal is to make it next year and also to run the Buell on the legendary track. Do yourself a favor and check out this cool edition of Iron & Air magazine focused on the Ace Corner, at the event, which also happens to be free online to view.

Check out the free edition of Iron & Air - The Road To Ace Corner

FREE edition of Iron & Air, The Road To Ace Corner
Killer BSA Cafe Style bike
Rolling through Manhattan with a 20 ft trailer, damn...
Sweet build from Cafe Fabrications
Loaded Gun Customs from the good ol' Eastern Shore
Yamaha XS650
Mark from the Ace Cafe London with Jason of Dime City Cycles and and few others enjoying good times

Pistons, sprockets and some streel pipe make for a great trophy

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

God Save The Eight Track, From Collectors Weekly

Recording technology continues to leap forward, but in the wake of these new found ways to enjoy music, looking back on older sound formats is a true time machine. We can easily put ourselves into the mood of that era by listening to tracks on their original recorded form. There wasn't perfection in the recordings but a full sense of atmosphere.

Garage Band, Pro Tolls and Audition make for great sound editing programs but at the same time they get over used and bands forget that its all about the song. Imperfections are part of human nature and the world around us. Pop perfection is for those who need to fill up their agenda sheet. Go for substance and longevity in your music. The fans are there, now make them believers.

Link to original article on Collectors Weekly

"Growing up in the 1970s, Bucks Burnett never even owned an eight-track tape: When his parents purchased their first post-LP stereo console, they went straight for a cassette player. “They were visionaries,” he says.

But that hasn’t stopped Burnett from becoming the eight-track’s most vocal champion, amassing an incredible collection of Stereo 8 cartridges, and opening the world’s first museum devoted entirely to the format. Located in the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, Texas, Burnett’s original Eight Track Museum opened in 2011, offering visitors a peek at an often overlooked medium plus an archive of every audio recording format created since the earliest wax cylinders of the late 1800s. In October of this year, the second outpost of Burnett’s homage to the 8-track opened at the Orphic Gallery in Roxbury, New York, expanding the reach of his crusade for lesser-known forms of audio recording.
“The eight-track was nothing less than revolutionary in the context of its time.”
Burnett’s obsession with Stereo 8 tapes began after a chance encounter at a garage sale in the ’80s, and he’s never looked back. The quirky vibe of each Eight Track Museum is perfectly matched by Burnett’s outsized personality (when the Oxford English Dictionary decided to remove the entry for “Cassette Tape” in 2011, Burnett retaliated by banning the dictionary from his museum). During the ’80s, Burnett befriended such music world notables as the ukelele-playing Tiny Tim, as well as Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth, the founding members of the Talking Heads who went on to create Tom Tom Club in 1981. Among others, each of these stars is a part of Burnett’s unfinished documentary on the 8-track tape, called “Spinal Tape,” which is expected to be completed in 2013.

Burnett recently gave Collectors Weekly the down-low on forgotten formats and why the world needs a few museums dedicated to Stereo 8.

Top: Bucks Burnett with a Frank Zappa tape in his Dallas museum. Above: An Akai CR-81D 8-track player with tapes. Via
Top: Bucks Burnett with a Frank Zappa tape in his Dallas museum. Above: An Akai CR-81D 8-track player with tapes. Via

Collectors Weekly: You never owned a single 8-track tape as a kid?

Burnett: No, I didn’t. I listened to them at friends’ houses and they were always around in music stores, but I was focused on LPs and 45s when I was really young. When I was able to drive, I got a cassette player in my car instead, but at the time I was managing the eight-track department at Peaches Records in Dallas, so it was kind of ironic.

Collectors Weekly: Do you associate them with specific music?

Burnett: Mainly Led Zeppelin, because when you’d go driving around, partying, people would usually be playing Led Zeppelin eight-tracks.

Collectors Weekly: When did you start collecting them?

The Beatles "White Album" eight-tracks got Burnett hooked on the format.
The Beatles’ “White Album” eight-tracks got Burnett hooked on the format.

Burnett: In 1988, I was at a garage sale in Dallas, looking through a box of stuff, and I found the Beatles’ “White Album” on eight-track, which was a two-tape set in this lovely black slip case I’d never seen before, with “The Beatles” written in gold lettering. I thought, wow, that’s cool. I asked the guy, “How much for this?” and he said, “Seven dollars.” I said, “For an eight-track?” thinking, “Are you nuts?” And he said, “Give me the seven or put it back in the box.” So I gave him the seven bucks, and that’s how it all started.

I took it home that day and put it up on my fireplace mantel, and it kept catching my eye for the next two or three days. By 1988, eight-tracks had been over for several years so it looked very exotic to me. Then I got this terrific idea to collect every single Beatles eight-track, and that took five years because this was pre-Internet. I had to go to estate sales, garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets to find them.

Collectors Weekly: How many total Beatles releases were there?

Burnett: Including all the tacky reissues the company put out after the band broke up, about 25 or so. I was very dedicated.

Collectors Weekly: Did this inspire you to create the museum?

Burnett: Well, I also owned a record store called 14 Records in Dallas at the time. All I was really doing was trying to build a complete Beatles eight-track set, but if you’re looking through a box and there’s Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin for 50 cents each, you can’t say no. So I accidentally started collecting them and then six months later I’m like, “Wait a minute, I’ve got three copies of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ here.”

I started putting the extra ones out for sale at my record store as a joke, because by 1989 or ’90, the last thing you needed in your record store was an eight-track section, right? Well, much to my shock, they were selling as fast as I could put them out to people who didn’t even have players. That’s when I realized there was this larger interest.

Burnett shares a selection of historic audio formats at the Dallas museum.
Burnett shares a selection of historic audio formats at his Dallas museum.

Collectors Weekly: Were people drawn to them as physical objects?

Burnett: Absolutely. That’s a huge part of it. If you think about it, of the dozens of formats over the last, say, 50 years, it’s the only one that’s self-contained. A cassette has like three, four, or five pieces and when you lose two pieces, you throw it away. Even for the beloved LP, you’ve got the record, the sleeve, and the cover. The eight-track tape was just one object. You shove it in, you pull it out, and it’s the exact size of your hand. I think people really responded to that.

Collectors Weekly: What’s unique about the original Dallas museum versus the new Roxbury location?

A selection of eight-tracks from Bucks Burnett's collection. Photo by Allison V. Smith.
A selection of eight-tracks from Bucks Burnett’s collection. Photo by Allison V. Smith.

Burnett: Well, they couldn’t be more different. The Dallas location is considered the mothership. That’s where I have the master collection of, say, 3,000 of the best eight-tracks ever made, plus 5 or 10 of the worst. The Roxbury location is more about the hardware. In the Roxbury museum, we’ve constructed a physical walk-through timeline of most major formats throughout the last 120 years or so, from the wax cylinder of the 1870s on up through the iPod. They’re all in perfect working order, so we can demonstrate how a wax cylinder, 78 player, eight-track, or reel-to-reel sounds. We provide that as a sort of public service to really give people a visual and audio education of what music has sounded like throughout the decades.

The Roxbury site also has the world’s absolute guaranteed rarest eight-track. It’s a Frank Sinatra album recorded with the Brazilian jazz musician Antônio Carlos Jobim called “Sinatra/Jobim.” The album was briefly issued on eight-track but recalled before any LP or cassette copies were made, and only about 5 copies survived because Frank ordered them to be destroyed. I think somebody put five into their pocket and took them home. They generally change hands for around $5,000. We miraculously got one of those for the museum, and we’re very proud that it’s on display right now in Roxbury. In fact, it even has its own room. I thought it would be great to accent its specialness and rarity by having it be the only tape in a small room.

Collectors Weekly: Like the crown jewel, so to speak.

Burnett: Yeah, there are about five other eight-tracks that over the past few years have sold in the same dollar range as the Sinatra album, but the Sinatra is the Mona Lisa. It’s an undeclared crown jewel, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have it.

Collectors Weekly: Have you actually listened to it?

Burnett: Oh, God, no. That would be just my luck, you know, I’d put it in, and there it goes. For 30 years, most of the music on that eight-track was unique to the eight-track, never reissued, and finally two years ago they put it out as part of a two-CD collection.

The infamous "Sinatra/Jobim" album, now on view at the Roxbury, NY location of the Eight Track Museum. Image courtesy Bucks Burnett.
The infamous “Sinatra/Jobim” album, now on view at the Roxbury, NY, location of the Eight Track Museum. Image courtesy Bucks Burnett.
Collectors Weekly: How was the Stereo 8 format initially developed?

Burnett: In the mid-’60s, Bill Lear of Learjet wanted a format to play music in his airplanes, so he had his engineers develop a tape cartridge that they installed in the jets. Very quickly a light went off in his head. He’s like, “Wait, my jet customers love having music in the air. Why can’t I put this in cars?” Lear went out and lobbied all the big auto manufacturers in Detroit and got them to introduce a line of eight-track players in their 1966 cars. The very first eight-tracks appeared in the marketplace in 1965 for the ’66 cars. To put it in context, the first Beatles eight-track offered as a new release was “Rubber Soul.”
“If you’re looking through a box and there’s Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin for 50 cents each, you can’t say no.”
What’s cool, though, is that if you bought an 8-track player for your car, from the very first year each car manufacturer gave you a free eight-track. It was like “Ford presents the swinging sounds of ’66,” and each company would do a new one every year. The music was a pretty safe selection of greatest hits of the day that wouldn’t offend anybody. I don’t think the Sex Pistols ever ended up on one.
A lot of car collectors also collect those eight-tracks, and there are more than 100 of them since you had seven or eight major carmakers putting out a different eight-track every year. I have a big stack of Cadillac eight-tracks.

Collectors Weekly: Were any other audio formats built into cars before that, like portable LP players?

Burnett: Yes, there were, but they just had too many problems. No matter how hard they tried, the records just skipped constantly. They tried making the tone arm heavier, but a bump is a bump; it wasn’t contained enough for the playing to be successful. They never really caught on, but there’s video of people playing turntables in cars, a very short lived but fascinating development along the way. The eight-track was truly the first mass-consumer car format.

A 1960s advertisement for the Lear Stereo 8 automobile player.
A 1960s advertisement for the Lear Stereo 8 automobile player.

Collectors Weekly: What do you think about the audio quality of 8-tracks?

Burnett: Very few people are ever going to understand this, but it’s shockingly good. It depends on the player. If you’re going to play an eight-track in one of those little $30 take-it-to-the-beach portables, it’s going to sound cheap. But they also made a lot of nice units, and with the right unit in the car or at home with the right speakers, they had this incredible, gigantic, beautiful analog sound.

Collectors Weekly: Why do you think it was such a short-lived medium?

Burnett: That’s actually a misconception—it was not short lived. They were introduced in 1965, and sold in retail through 1982. They continued to be sold through mail-order music clubs through 1988, meaning the eight-track format survived for 23 years.

Collectors Weekly: What kind of effect did the eight-track have on audio technology?

A '70s-era ad for portable players shows the eight-track's evolution from car-stereo to home use.
A ’70s-era ad for portable players shows the eight-track’s evolution from car-stereo to home use.

Burnett: It’s hard to convince people who weren’t around then, but the eight-track was nothing less than revolutionary in the context of its time. It was the first time that you didn’t have to listen to what was on the radio if you didn’t want to. You could listen to the Beatles or Led Zeppelin or Hank Williams.

For the first time, the consumer and the driver had complete control over what he was going to listen to. What that did was inspire further innovation and marketing possibilities. They finally introduced a home player for the eight-track in 1968 (it was car-only for about two years). Then the home players took off. People were listening to them at home and in the car. And then they introduced the recording eight-track deck, so that you could make a mix tape at home on eight-track. You could buy a new Led Zeppelin LP plus a blank eight-track tape for a buck, and then throw the album on the tape. That way you’d have the album for home and the tape for the car.

Collectors Weekly: Why do you think the cassette tape took over?

Burnett: It was smaller, and it had fewer issues. The eight-track had a few technical flaws that would create operational problems, it was well known for that. Which is too bad because the sound was really terrific. Eight-tracks sounded much better than cassettes.

Collectors Weekly: Are there any particularly strange audio formats in your collection?

Burnett: Oh, yeah. I keep thinking I’ve discovered the last one, and then I find some other oddball. There was a folding eight-track manufactured briefly in 1970 that’s quite collectible now. The cartridge literally folds in half so you could put it in your shirt pocket. Those are insanely rare.
There were also these little, tiny tapes made from ’65 through 1970 called two-tracks. They’re half the size and half the depth of the eight-track, and they’re just adorable. Almost every Beatles album came out in a series of two-tracks, as did albums by Frank Zappa and other rock artists, and now they’re really collectible. No one even knew about two-tracks when they were new. Also, the very first cassettes were like five times the size of the cassette we think of. So there are just dozens and dozens of great examples.

Collectors Weekly: What’s been the public response to the museums?

Burnett: Well, I would say it’s mild interest, but it’s interest. And we understand what we’re up against. We’re not expecting this to put the Guggenheim out of business anytime soon.
I’ve had a few hundred people come through my doors and they’re typically divided into two groups: Half are nostalgic and want to relive some memories. The other half are into discovery, and they want to see a type of museum they haven’t seen before, or they buy LPs but want to know what came before that. So it’s halfway between nostalgia and discovery.

Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth at the Dallas Eight Track Museum opening in 2011. Photo by Dan Hurley.
Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth at the Dallas Eight Track Museum opening in 2011. Photo by Dan Hurley.
Collectors Weekly: Is there anyone making new eight-tracks today?

Burnett: Me! I have an eight-track label called Cloud 8 Music, and that’s also the name of my small chain of record stores in Dallas. Once or twice a year, we’ll put out eight-tracks with local or national artists and we’ll have a release party in the museum. I put out very limited editions, like the Tom Tom Club album on eight-track released last year. Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth came to the museum and signed all of them, and we sold them out in the middle of the night.

Collectors Weekly: Are you working on any future projects involving the eight-track?
Burnett: I’m currently producing a documentary about the eight-track called “Spinal Tape.” We’ve already filmed about 40 rock-star interviews, including Jimmy Page, all four Talking Heads, Tiny Tim, and two of the Small Faces, so it’s going to be an amazing collection of rock stars all in one documentary. Other than that, my next goal is to open an eight-track museum somewhere in England.

Take a guided tour of Bucks Burnett’s Eight Track Museum below:"