Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Keep Using the Library as an Alum

Whether you are graduating or just leaving Berklee after completing at least one semester, Berklee considers you an alumna or alumnus. Once you register with Alumni Affairs for a new pass, you can continue to borrow from the library.

Just think of all the CDs you didn't have time to listen to or books you were too busy to read when bogged down with classes. Or maybe you want to keep your chops up with our play-along books or expand your range of techniques with our method books without worrying about getting graded. If you're embarking on your career, we have lots of professional resources.

The one catch is that you'll need to return all overdue materials and pay down excessive fines before we'll let you start borrowing again.

Contact Alumni Affairs to get your Alumni pass, then stop in for a copy of our Alumni Services brochure to get the details on your library privileges and activate the pass with the library.

Even if you're leaving Boston, you can still take advantage of our collection. We lend books and scores from our main collection via interlibrary loan. In the same way that we could request books on your behalf from other libraries when you were a student, you can have your local public library borrow books from us on your behalf from your new home. You'll make requests at your home library, but having catalog information from us will be helpful for them to arrange for the loan.

Friday, May 2, 2014

End-of-Semester Blocks

All materials checked out by students or alumni are due Wednesday, May 7. Any student or alumnus with overdue materials or excessive fines may be subject to a bursar block, which will prevent them from receiving their diploma or checking in for upcoming semesters as well as restrictions on library privileges.

Please see a library professional staff member if you have any questions.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Making Adventurous Use of Our CD Collection

Most Media Center users approach the desk with call numbers in hand to request specific CDs. But student Rustin Hiatt takes a more experimental approach. Whenever he comes in, he asks whomever is behind the counter to hand him three random CDs.

Hiatt realized he had the desire and opportunity to expand his musical horizons with our CD collection, which will be hitting 37,000 any day now. He started working his way through the recommendations in the copy of 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before you Die: A Listener's Life List by Tom Moon (ML156.9 .M66 2008) that sits at the Media Center desk, but he reached the point where he'd already heard almost everything in it. Next he tried the Billboard Top 50 albums list that we post each week, but he didn't like what he was hearing. So he started the random request strategy.

Do you have an unusual way of using our collection to discover new music? Let us know. We'd love to share your story, too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Best Music Docs NOT on Netflix

Netflix has its strengths, but music documentaries is not one of them. Flavorwire recent ran a list of the best music docs on Netflix, and it wasn't much longer than Netflix's entire inventory. In contrast, we're are closing in on adding our 6000th DVD. Most of them are music-related, and even the feature films are there for their noteworthy scores.

With this in mind, we present our staff picks of the best music documentaries at Stan Getz Library that are not on Netflix.

1991: The Year Punk Broke (DVD 4712) Take a trip with Sonic Youth and Nirvana as they stumble through their 1991 European club & festival tour! Let filmmaker Dave Markey put you on stage, off stage and backstage! Witness the boredom! The cynicism! And rock harder than you may ever have rocked before!


Afghan Star (DVD 4035) In Afghanistan you risk your life to sing. After thirty years of war and five devastating years of Taliban rule, pop culture is beginning to return to the country. Since 2005, millions have been tuning in to Tolo TV's wildly popular American idol-style series, Afghan Star. Like its Western predecessors, people compete for a cash prize and record deal. More surprisingly, the contest is open to everyone across the country despite gender, ethnicity, or age.

All Ages  (DVD 5255) A film documentating the early Boston hardcore music scene from 1981-1984.

Back Vocal (DVD 4633) 24 years after the Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the legal prohibition against female solo singing in Iran rumors about females being permitted to sing as duets has encouraged female singers to take initiatives for recording and release of their musical albums.

Beware of Mr. Baker (DVD 5703) The documentary about the ailing-yet-ferocious Ginger Baker, the brilliant and wildly self-destructive drummer for Cream and Blind Faith. An almost impossible man to be around, he allows the director unprecedented access--even if he strikes him violently on the nose with his cane on the final day of filming.

Color Me Obsessed (DVD 5597-5598) Over The Replacements' 12-year existence, its live sets were magical. Gorman Bechard's remarkable history of the Mats takes us from their first show and everywhere in between. He relies solely on the fans; memories of their albums & antics.

Copyright Criminals  (DVD 3968) As hip-hop rose from the streets of New York to become a multibillion-dollar industry, artists such as Public Enemy and De La Soul began reusing portions of previously recorded music for their songs. But when record company lawyers got involved everything changed. Years before people started downloading and remixing music, hip-hop sampling sparked a debate about copyright, creativity, and technological change that still rages today.

Deconstructing Dad (LVD 445) His filmmaker son probes the professional and private lives of his remote but fascinating father: bandleader, composer, inventor, and electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott.

Democracy in Dakar (DVD 4046) A ground-breaking documentary film about hip-hop, youth and politics in Dakar Senegal. The film follows rappers, DJs, journalists, professors and people on the street at the time before, during, and after the controversial 2007 presidential election in Senegal and examines hip-hop's role on the political process. Originally shot as a seven-part documentary mini-series released via the internet, the documentary bridges the gap between hip-hop activism, video journalism and documentary film and explores and explores the role of youth and musical activism on the political process

Give Me the Banjo (DVD 5184) The banjo has been an emblem of American culture for centuries, yet few realize the instrument's complicated, checkered past. Narrated by Steve Martin and featuring such banjo masters as Pete Seeger, Earl Scruggs and Bela Fleck, goes beyond the stereotypes and delves into the musical odyssey of the banjo, from its African roots to the present day.

Heavy Metal in Baghdad (DVD 3487) A documentary feature film that follows the Iraqi heavy metal band Acrassicauda (Latin for a deadly black scorpion native to Iraq) from the fall of Saddam Hussein to their escape from Iraq.

Hype! (DVD 2983) Traces the history of grunge music with interviews and concert footage of bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, and the Melvins.

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (DVD 4008) Building on three critically acclaimed records and a reputation for phenomenal live shows, the band seemed poised to cement its reputation as one of the great American rock groups. So how is it that one year later, with completed record in hand, the band found itself rejected by its corporate record label and missing two of its original members? Filmmaker Sam Jones was on hand, chronicling this turbulent chapter in Wilco's history as it unfolded.

Icons Among Us (DVD 4014-4017) Comprehensive documentary film, looks at the jazz music scene today. Through interviews, performance footage, and the voices of the musicians themselves, we explore this music and the divergent influences that are shaping the world of jazz at the beginning of the 21st Century. Not a historical look at what has been called America's music but a timely, vibrant trip through the clubs, festival, and the lives of this new generation of jazz musicians. Never before has jazz music been so many different things to so many different people, from hip hop to bebop from jam band to free form, the music continues to grow and shape itself in ways as varied as the musicians who play it.

The Last Waltz (DVD 537) The Band, one of rock's superstar groups, decided to call it quits after sixteen grueling years on the road. The group held this farewell concert on Thanksgiving Day, 1976, at San Francisco's Winterland, the site of their first performance.

Live from Tokyo (DVD 4921) Looks at Tokyo's music culture as a reflection of Japanese society and in relation to international music culture. Tokyo's reputation for an overwhelming variety of global information, media-saturated urban environment, and cutting edge innovation, makes it the perfect sample for addressing a new outlook on music culture as it explores this eccentric music culture set within a modern Japanese megalopolis. Bands include DMBQ, Suishou no Fune, Muneomi Senju, Shintaro Miyazaki, and more.

Loud Quiet Loud (DVD 3465) The Pixies formed in Boston in 1986 and enjoyed moderate success. Six years later, they split amidst acrimony and anger. In the time since, despite little communication with one another, they have become one of the most influential bands of the eighties. In 2004, The Pixies reunited. This documentary covers the year leading up to their final performance.

Mighty Uke (DVD 4559) Travel the world to discover why so many people of different nations, cultures, ages and musical tastes are turning to the ukulele to express themselves, connect with the past, and with each other. From the redwoods of California to an English pub, from a suburb of Tel Aviv through Tokyo's highrise canyons to the green mountains of Hawaii, ukers tell the story of the people's instrument.

Muscle Shoals (DVD 5936) Located alongside the Tennessee River, Muscle Shoals, Alabama has helped create some of the most important and resonant songs of all time. Overcoming crushing poverty and staggering tragedies, Rick Hall brought black and white together to create music for the generations. He is responsible for creating the 'Muscle Shoals sound' and the Swampers, the house band at FAME Studios that eventually left to start its own successful studio known as Muscle Shoals Sound.

The Ramones: End of the Century (DVD 1593) A candid look at the entire career of a band that was the heart of the New York punk scene.

Re:Generation Music Project (DVD 4995) This documentary feature, produced in association with The Grammy's, looks at the history, songwriting, and recording process of five different genres of music through the eyes of 5 of the most influential producers/DJ's in the world as they create new music tracks with influential collaborators from rock, country, classical, R&B and jazz. DJ Premier, Mark Ronson, Skrillex, Pretty Lights and The Crystal Method remix, recreate and re-imagine five traditional styles of music from the classical perfection of the Berklee Symphony Orchestra to the bayou jams of New Orleans jazz.

Searching for Sugar Man (DVD 5262) In the early 1970s, Sixto Rodriguez was a Detroit folksinger who had a short-lived recording career. Unknown to him, his musical story continued in South Africa where he became a pop music icon. Long rumored there to be dead, two fans, record store owner Stephen Segerman and journalist Craig Bartholomew-Strydom, decided to seek out the truth of his fate.

See What I'm Saying (DVD 4516) A comic, a drummer, an actor and a singer, who are all well-known entertainers in the deaf community, are followed as they attempt to cross over to mainstream audiences. These uniquely talented entertainers overcome great challenges to celebrate success.

Speaking in Code (DVD 4100) Documentary that follows the lives of a group of people who are devoted to techno music.

Stop Making Sense (DVD 180) Jonathan Demme's Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense is in many ways a reaction against other depictions of live music in film, with many of the visual ideas going against the grain of what was popular at the time in the early Eighties. Demme and the Talking Heads refuse to show the audience until the end of the film, linger on static shots to keep attention on David Byrne's physicality (and famous "big suit"), eliminate all colored lights and make no attempt to obscure the work of stagehands. On top of all that, the setlist is constructed so that the band is slowly assembled piece by piece over the course of the first six songs, starting with a solo performance of "Psycho Killer" by Byrne and building up to an ensemble performance of "Burning Down the House." (From

Talmage Farlow (DVD 2302) Showcases the music of Farlow and offers a charming and engaging look into his life. Since his death in 1998, his place among the great innovators of modern jazz seems well assured. A sensitive and fitting tribute to the giant of a man that was Tal.

Under the Covers (DVD 4208) A magical journey: rock 'n roll in L.A. in the 60's and 70's ... Album cover stories by Gary Burden, Henry Diltz and friends.

X: The Unheard Music (DVD 2183) Profiles the notable Los Angeles punk band through interview and performances.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Getting Scholarly About Gaga

In response to a recent essay by Ted Gioia claiming that most current popular music criticism was insubstantial because it is lifestyle reporting rather than a technical examination of the music, Owen Pallett has been writing a series of articles for Slate using music theory to explain the popularity of recent hit songs. His latest target:

“Bad Romance,” Great Tritone: Explaining the genius of Lady Gaga—using music theory

Pallett isn't the only person giving Lady Gaga the scholarly once-over. While Gioia might take issue with writers from such disciplines as cultural studies, art and fashion as well as music devoting their attention to her, it is because Lady Gaga takes such a deliberate approach to all those aspects of her career that she is garnering such interest. You'll find an academic examination of her work in the newly-published Lady Gaga and Popular music: Performing Gender, Fashion, and Culture edited by Martin Iddon and Melanie L. Marshall, available in our eBook collection.

And while this is old news, staff at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame explained the preservation challenges with Lady Gaga's meat dress before putting it on display.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Review: Shut Up and Play the Hits

Guest post by Christian Betancourt, guitar player and dual major in Performance/Jazz Composition, Class of May 2017.

Shut up and Play the Hits (DVD 5263-5265) is a musical documentary showcasing the unexpected disbandment of the popular band LCD Soundsystem. The band is characterized by a unique mixture of rock, punk, disco, dance and funk; all of these come together to form a wacky and energetic style. We experience the events that lead up to the final concert through the eyes of James Murphy, the band’s singer & frontman.

Right at a very successful point in the band’s career, James decides he would quit the band. This decision comes to shock both the fans and the media. This causes speculation about why he made such an unexpected decision. In the movie, we see how James deals with the frivolous routine of the new world without a constant musician/performer career. Then we are taken through several songs from the show and interviews with James. Near the end, we finally come to the somewhat disappointing conclusion that James quit simply because he was having a midlife crisis and wanted to do something else in life besides the band. Additionally he also tackles the idea that both artists and sportsmen are defined by their single biggest failure, rather than their success, and uses that as a partial explanation of why he quit.

Although the documentary is very personal and visually stunning, it struggles to define its own identity, given that it constantly switches between simple dialogues, videos of live performances, and insights of Murphy’s cold new life as a retired musician.Viewing is highly recommended for all fans of LCD Soundsystem.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Snap That Call Number

Just like a URL on the web, a library call number is the unique location where you will find an item in the collection. Whether you are heading into the stacks or requesting an item from behind the desk, you need the full call number. Rather than trying to transcribe it accurately and legibly ("Is that a 5 or an S?"), you can just use your cell phone camera to snap a photo of the screen from your own laptop or our dedicated catalog computers.

May students have already figured this out, but we wanted to tip you off if it hadn't occurred to you yet. You can hand you phone over to the desk staff when requesting reserve items; we promise not to answer any calls in the few seconds it takes to find your item.

Our online catalog interface has been upgraded to be more mobile-device/small screen-friendly, but it still may be easier to type your search with a full-size keyboard.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

RIP Frankie Knuckles

Frankie Knuckles passed away on March 31 at the age of 59. The pioneering DJ had an honorary street named for him in Chicago, acknowledging his role as the Godfather of House Music. As a DJ, he doesn't have a lot of recorded output available commercially that our library could add to its collection, but there has been plenty written about him.

5 Magazine: House Music from Chicago offers a tribute:

This Entire Scene Was Frankie's Dance Floor

You'll find discussion of him in several of our books:

Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton wrote about Knuckles in Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey (ML3470 .B74 2000) and The Record Players: DJ Revolutionaries by  (ML406 .B74 2010)

The Evolution of Electronic Dance Music edited by Peter Kirn (ML3540.5.E96 2011), in a chapter taken from Rule, Greg. "Dance Music History: The Fathers of Chicago House." Keyboard Aug. 1997: 64-67, available electronically in the International Index to Music Periodicals or in print our periodical collection, but you'll need to request it from the Annex.

Some other articles on Knuckles available via our e-Resources:

"Frankie Knuckles: The Godfather of House." Mixmag 09 2013: 82-3.

Paoletta, Michael. "The House that Frankie Built." Billboard May 15 2004: 30.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Tool for Finding High-Quality Images

Google image will find you lots of image results, but they may not get great results. can increase your odds by hitting up the right sources. Enter some keywords or even a whole paragraph, and you'll get image results from repositories like Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), Europeana, Flickr Commons and the National Library of Australia's Trove.

For example, a search for "Electric Guitar" brought up a bunch of images from the Smithsonian.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Researching Potential Employers

Guest post by Zoya Mohan, Singer-Songwriter, Music Business Major, Class May 2014, Voice Principle, Guitarist

Researching potential employees can either be excruciatingly tough or, as Marci Cohen points out, we are lucky to have the Internet to aid our process. It may seem obvious, but it is smart to begin by executing a general search on your company of interest by browsing through the employers website. Start by studying their mission and history, while also finding out what they are doing now. Using social media sites like Twitter, you can also pick up on recent announcements and insights on what the company is like. LinkedIn is probably our most important asset when researching potential employers. Begin by finding out if they have a company profile and, if they do, see if any Berklee Alumni work there. Using LinkedIn we have the power to message them right away. Don’t be afraid to ask how their job is or what their daily activities are like. These are great starts to finding out if you would fit with your prospective company.

So now, how do you impress the company you wish to work for? Marci suggests that we should be able to answer, “What are THEY proud of?” Utilize their key words in describing yourself in your cover letter, resume, or even at the interview! If you are only running into dead ends on the Internet when you research through your company’s web page, LinkedIn, or other social media sites, you can also access loads of information in the Stan Getz Library databases. To look up companies you can access the library's databases in e-resources, click "Search Articles & More," check the music business category, and simply type in the company’s name. Once you find the company you are looking for you will find an excess amount of information in the company’s profile, SWOT analysis and more. Searching for the right employer is extremely tough, but with some simple research and if you take advantage of these tools you will be on your way!

This workshop was part of the Prepare for Career Jam series. Career Jam! Shape Your Music Future is Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:00 - 5:00 p.m. and is open to all Berklee students and alumni. Click here to learn more and register. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Media Center Now a Quiet Study Space

With the opening of the 160 Massachusetts Avenue building and the new lobby at 142 Massachusetts Avenue, students now have more spaces for socializing spaces on campus. Because quiet areas are hard to find, we have turned the Media Center into a quiet study space. If you'd like to use the Media Center, you'll need to keep your conversations at a whisper and silence your cell phone. Eating is not allowed because the noise of wrappers and the smell can be distracting to those trying to study or use the A/V equipment.

Our campus is filled with sound. While in most instances this is what makes Berklee so wonderful, sometimes you need a quiet refuge.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Girls? The Roots? Finding Articles About Bands

DWNTWN, GHXST and SBTRKT are part of a minor trend of artists using intentional misspellings to make their names more Googleable. But what do you do when you want to find information about a band with a less distinct name? Keyword search alone won't cut it.

In our catalog, you can switch the search type from "keyword" to "author" to find materials by a group or "subject" to find things about them. You'll also notice in our catalog that we use clarifying phrases to make names more distinct, like "Roots (Musical Group)."

A similar idea applies when looking for articles in in our subscription databases about bands, but you do it in a slightly different way depending on the database. Even more specific than just searching by subject rather than keyword, different databases classify band names as people or companies/organizations.

If you're not sure how, try a basic search in a database, then look for suggestions on the side of the results page on how to narrow down.

Here are some examples.

In the International Index to Music Periodicals Full Text, a basic search for Roots returns more than 30,000 results. But by expanding the Company/Organization options under "Narrow results by," you'll find Roots at the top of the list, with a tidy 139 results. You can further limit by document type, for example, to suit your research needs.

The Music Index and other EBSCOHost databases consider bands to be people. Searching "Girls" as a keyword (the default option, "Select a Field (optional)) in the Music Index brings back more than 8,000 hits. Switch the switch drop-down box to People, and you'll knock it down to less than 10% of the original search.

Look in the left column of the results page for "Subject" to see the top hits, then click "Show More" to see all the options. Then you can select "girls (performer)" to single out that band from the Indigo Girls, Spice Girls and every other band with "Girls" in their name.

You may not always need to be so precise in your search limits, but it helps to know these tools are available when you get an overwhelming number of search results.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Visualize Jazz Connections on Linked Jazz

Jazz history and modern technology come together with the Linked Jazz project. The project shows the connections between different performers and others in the jazz community.

As the project describes itself:
Linked Jazz is an ongoing project investigating the potential of the application of Linked Open Data (LOD) technology to enhance the discovery and visibility of digital cultural heritage materials. More specifically, the project focuses on digital archives of jazz history to expose relationships between musicians and reveal their community’s network. New modes of connecting cultural data and making them searchable as a whole in a seamless discovery environment would open unprecedented opportunities to create new kinds of meaning and elicit new streams of interpretation. The goal of this project is to help uncover meaningful connections between documents and data related to the personal and professional lives of musicians who often practice in rich and diverse social networks.
One fascinating aspect is the visualization tool that show the connections. Take a look and have fun exploring.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

We Want Another One Just Like the Other One

If you find a book or an article that's really helpful and on-target for you research, how do you find more things like it?

In both our catalog and our databases, look at the links for the subject terms. Here's an example from our catalog.

In addition to strict subject linking, some of our databases have functions relying on keywords and relevancy ranking that may provide useful results. When you've found a good article, look around the edges of the page for things like "Find Similar Results" or "See similar documents." The results are only as good as their relevancy ranking, so what you get may or may not be on target for your interests, and not every database has this feature. But it could do some of the heavy lifting for you in rounding up research materials.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

New Yorker Complete Archive, 1925-2006

The library has the complete archive of the New Yorker from 1925 to April 2006. It is available on the research computer in the library reading room. Just click on the icon to see the table of contents listing or to search. You'll then be prompted to insert the correct DVD-ROM, which you can check out from the circulation desk in the main library.

The pages are PDFs, so you'll see every cartoon and advertisement, not just the text. You can print to the attached printer, or use the print function to save as a PDF to take with you on a flash drive.

We have more recent issues available full-text in several databases (search our journal list for details), but only the articles are indexed, so you won't get the other images.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Berklee Students, What's the Worst Song of All Time?

NPR's All Songs Considered took up the topic of the worst songs of all time. Rather than merely bludgeoning listeners with painful examples, they got analytical about what makes a song terrible. A key point was being subjected to excessive exposure; as a result, it was very generation-specific. All the hosts of the podcast were old enough to have endured "We Built This City" by Starship (available on CD 10258) back in its heyday. I'm old enough to not only hate Journey but to be bewildered that I still need to hate Journey in 2014.

No one on the show represented a younger generation. So my question to you, Berklee students, most of whom were born in the '90s and have listened to lots of musc, what's the worst song of all time that you've had to suffer through? Chime in with your opinions in the comments section. (The comments section is open to all, but we're particularly curious about this age group.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Know Your Bugs Bunny Music

The Brattle Theatre in Harvard Square is hosting the Bugs Bunny Film Festival this week. Many of the Looney Tunes cartoons included musical references, and you can bone up on this with the library's help.

The All Bugs Revue includes the classic "What's Opera, Doc," which uses Wagner's operas as its basis, and has been analyzed in this article:

Jaszoltowski, Saskia. "Warum Wagner? Musikalische Grenzüberschreitungen in (Zeichentrick-)Filmen." Archiv für Musikwissenschaft 69.2 (2012): 154-64.

Now you may be thinking you don't need to know German to enjoy Wagner, but its hard to read a German article without being fluent in the language. Fortunately, our databases can help you out. This article is in the International Index to Music Periodicals Full Text, on of our many databases that includes a translation function. The computer-generated translation is choppy compared to what a knowledgeable human would do, but it's good enough to understand the author's intent.

The All Bugs Revue also has an example of a gag that was repeated in several of the Looney Tunes cartoons, where a character hooks up dynamite to a piano key and presents a foe with sheet music with that particularly note. The song is always "Those Endearing Young Charms." Whether you want to find out what the song sounds like without the ensuing explosion or want to stage your own similar gag (and the library takes no responsibility for your criminal actions), we have the score for the traditional Irish song, whose complete title is "Believe Me, If All Those Endearing Young Charms." As one example, it is in The Big Book of Irish Songs (MP1744 .B54 2003)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Anti-Valentine's Day Playlist

Whether you're single or simply not prone to sappy sentimentality, Valentine's Day may not be a cause for celebration.

 If you're looking for song suggestions to go along with your less-than-romantic mood, take a look at Touch Me, I'm Sick: The 52 Creepiest Love Songs You've Ever Heard by Tom Reynolds (ML65 .R653 T68 2006). Reynolds covers both big hits and deep cuts, organized by themes. Examples include stalker songs such as "Every Breath You Take" by the Police and "Run for Your Life" by the Beatles as well as songs about incest, necrophilia, outright bitterness, etc. Each song includes a discussion of the track and why it's creepy.

Ironically, although the author acknowledges that he took the book's title from the Mudhoney song, that piece didn't make the list. If you want to hear it, you'll find it in on Superfuzz Bigmuff (Annex CD Box 17)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Fred Armisen Brings Along Indie Rockers for Seth Meyers Gig

News broke yesterday that Fred Armisen had been named to lead the house band as Seth Meyers takes over on NBC's Late Night. While Armisen is best know for his comedy work on Saturday Night Live and Portlandia, he does possess musical skills as a drummer and guitarist, most notably with '80s punk band Trenchmouth. He's combined his comedy and musical skills with the creation of the pro- Margaret Thatcher punk rocker character Ian Rubbish and performing TLC's "Waterfalls" with Dinosaur Jr's J Mascis at the Berklee Performance Center last year. So he clearly brings a useful array of talent to the gig.

Seth Meyers/Twitter

What is more surprising is who is rounding out the band Armisen has assembled, some pedigreed indie rockers who are unexpected choices for a late night talk show house band. Armisen has tapped Les Savy Fav's guitarist Seth Jabour and bassist Syd Butler and Girls Against Boys keyboardist Eli Janney. Armisen played drums on Les Savy Fav's 2007 album Let's Stay Friends (Annex Box 3). Girls Against Boys made a minor splash in the mid '90s for combining the disjointed angularity of post-punk pioneers the Fall with pinup looks. Although Janney wasn't part of the GVSB line-up then, you can hear the band in our collection on Venus Luxure No. 1 Baby (CD 19815).

Drummer Kim Thompson rounds out the Late Night band.

The line-up is an unexpected choice, but people said the same thing when the Roots got the job with Jimmy Fallon, and that has resulted in many memorable musical moments.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Beatlemania Hits America

It was 50 years ago, February 7, 1964, when the Beatles first arrived in America. Two days later they turned the country upside down with their first U.S. television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Revisit the excitement they caused with library resources:
  • The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit (DVD 1649)
  • The Ed Sullivan Show Featuring the Beatles and Various Other Artists (DVD 1856-1857)
  • The Very Best of the Ed Sullivan Show. Vol. 1. Unforgettable Performances (DVD 1195)
  • "'Ladies and Gentlemen ...': The Beatles: The Ed Sullivan Show, CBS TV, February 9, 1964" an article by Laurel Sercombe in Performance and Popular Music: History, Place and Time (ML3470 .P45 2005)
  • We have more than a shelf full of books on Beatles history at ML421.B42. Larry Kane's Ticket to Ride: Inside the Beatles' 1964 & 1965 Tours that Changed the World (ML421.B42 K36 2004) focuses on those specific events.
  • "Hiram's Report," p. 21-23 in the "Talk of the Town" column  in The New Yorker, February 22, 1964 discusses the events. It is available for in-library use only on the computer by the reference desk in the reading room. Get the DVD-ROM with that issue, AP2 .N676 2005 DVD-ROM 5, at the desk in the main library.
  • For more primary source material written at the time, use the publication year of 1964 when searching our article databases. You'll get not only the cover story from the Saturday Evening Post, "Building the Beatles Image" by Vance Packard (p. 36), you'll also get the variety or responses in the follow-up "Letters to the Editor" on April 11, 1964 (p. 5-6), both available via Academic Search Premier. Said one writer, "The space wasted in printing a Beatle article plus the unsightly picture of this shaggy foursome on the March 21 cover make me wonder if the editors have taken leave of their senses."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman as Lester Bangs

With the untimely passing of Philip Seymour Hoffman, veteran music journalist Jaan Uhelszki recalled how uncannily the actor captured her friend and former coworker Lester Bangs, the legendary rock critic. She wrote a piece for Spin about her recollections. Hoffman played Bangs in Almost Famous, but the resemblance carried over to his off-screen activities.

Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lester Bangs, and 'Almost Famous,' by Jaan Uhelszki

See Hoffman's performance in Almost Famous (DVD 400). To get more of a feel for the character he played, see our materials by Bangs and Jim DeRogatis's book about him, Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic (ML243.B245 D47 2000).

Friday, January 31, 2014

Renewing Materials Online and Other Two-Minute Tutorials

Whether you need to keep practicing from a score or you left a book at home the day it was due, you may need to renew your library materials. No need to come into the library, though. You can do it online yourself for materials you are allowed to renew.

Our Two Minute Tutorial: Renew Library Items Online will teach you how:

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

RIP Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger, who died January 27, was so much more than a folk singer that President Obama released a statement honoring his passing.
Once called 'America's tuning fork,' Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community -- to stand up for what's right, speak out against what's wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be. Over the years, Pete used his voice -- and his hammer -- to strike blows for worker's rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayer to Pete's family and all those who loved him.

Martin Luther King, Pete Seeger, Charis Horton, Rosa Parks, and Ralph Abernathy at Highlander Institute in 1957. (Photo from

Some highlights from our collection of materials by and about Seeger:
  • American Industrial Ballads (CD 23395)
  • Where Have All the Flowers Gone: The Songs of Pete Seeger (CD 18837 - 18838
  • How to Play the 5 String Banjo: A Manual for Beginners (MT562.S445 H6)
  • Pete Seeger: The Power of Song (DVD 3433)
  • The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger by Alec Wilkinson (ML420.S445 W55 2009)
You will find addition streaming audio by Seeger in American Song.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Backing Tracks for Drumming Contest

Hit Like a Girl, the third annual drumming contest for female percussionists, opens January 24. Entrants must provide a three-minute video showcasing their skills.

The contest provides optional backing tracks, but the library offers many more options with our drum play-along collection. You can browse the catalog for the drum play-along series or just browse the shelves at MT662.5.

The collection includes books by single artists, from Bob Marley (MT662.5 .D7 v. 25) to Rush (MT662.5 .R86 2009), and genre books such as big band (MT662.5 .D7 v. 9), funk (MT662.5 .D7 v. 5) and '90s rock (MT662.5 .D7 v. 6). Each book comes with a CDs for all the songs, each one with a drum demonstration and separate backing track. Some CDs have as a special feature that you can adjust the tempo when playing them on a computer.

So go show 'em what you (and Berklee) got. You could win lots of cool percussion gear and some bragging rights.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

New Historic Box Set: Black Europe

We are very excited about a new addition to the library's collection, Black Europe (CD 36408-36451, ML3488.B53 2013 v. 1 and v. 2).

Subtitled The Sounds and Images of Black People in Europe pre-1927, the comprehensive box set includes 44 discs and two 300-page books.

The full description from Bear Family, the record company that released it is here, but it starts with:
  • Hear the first recordings of Josephine Baker, the roots of European Swing and Jazz bands, and the subversive religious discs of Fela Kuti’s grandfather!
  • Follow the lives of musicians, dancers and entertainers across Europe and marvel at their amazing stories!
  • Discover audio documents, recording protocols and unseen treasures from years of research!
Or watch the promotional video: