‘inside Llewyn Davis’ Concert At Nyc’s Town Hall Celebrates Folk Music

By other measures, the classical canon seems healthy, if not downright vibrant. The NEA survey notes that 18 percent of adults listened to classical music on TV, radio, and the Internetmore than heard Latin music, Spanish music, Salsa music, or jazz. While writing this column, I listened to Bachs Brandenburg concertos playing in the backgroundthe version by the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, conducted by Neville Marrinerone of more than 180 such albums available for download on iTunes ( AAPL ). (A Brandenburg Concerto search in the music section of Amazon.com ( AMZN ) came up with 1,510 possibilities.) Classical music lovers can get their Chopin, Sibelius, and Beethoven on public radio in most markets. Fact is, if the Minnesota Orchestra never plays another note, there will be no shortage of competitive offerings locally. I could cross the Mississippi to listen to the nearby St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (recently back from its own strike), attend any number of concerts in Minneapolis by visiting musicians, or download favorite recordings. Classical music shares a problem afflicting all entertainment these days: fierce competition for eyes, seats, and dollars. The video-game industry has evolved in recent decades into a multibillion dollar industry far removed from its early Pac-Man days. On Sunday, Americans could choose to spend their evening at a concert, a book reading, a lecture, or watching the much-anticipated final episode of Breaking Bad (let alone Sunday Night Football.) By this light, the take-away is how healthy an historic art form is in the 21st century. Classical music isnt in trouble because its a dying industry destined to join the buggy-whip in the dustbin of history. No, the state of classical music is troubled because its a creative industry caught in the upheaval of an emerging digital economy. The traditional classical music business model, less than half a century old, is a failing economy, even as new, more entrepreneurial experimentation is underway.

Concert photos by the L.A. Times

“Hang me, oh hang me, and I’ll be dead and gone,” sang Isaac in “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me.” The singer and actor plays the titular character in “Inside Llewyn Davis,” and the song opens and closes the film. Loosely based on the late singer Dave Van Ronk, “Davis” focuses on the plight of a struggling singer to prove his gift to an often hard and unforgiving world. Isaac’s portrayal succeeds because he’s such a talented musician. PHOTOS: Unexpected musical collaborations The night’s narrative was driven by something more elusive than plot, though, and the wonder was divided equally between the songs themselves and the many thrilling interpretations. I don’t know if I’ve ever been in a room with so many humans with perfect pitch. Notes soared with pure vocal and instrumental virtuosity as young voices embodied ancient emotions. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings channeled the Carter Family for “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” a deathly ode to eternal bliss featuring dueling guitar and mandolin solos. Actor/singer Stark Sands , who plays an earnest Southern singer in the film, offered the sweet folk-pop song “Last Thing on My Mind.” Lake Street Dive highlighted magnetic vocalist Rachael Price, drawing fromfolk and jazz for “Go Down Smooth.” Over and over, the boldfaced names proved their status. Jack White delivered a typically raw and honest version of “My Mama’s Baby Child,” a song over the years interpreted by artists including Bukka White and Lightnin’ Hopkins. He also offered one of the evening’s sweetest moments, in his song with the White Stripes , “We’re Going to Be Friends.” Marcus Mumford’s rendition of “I Was Young When I Left Home” was utterly heartbreaking: honest, real and without pretense. CHEAT SHEET: Fall arts preview Joan Baez, who has graced this stage on any number of occasions, was greeted with a hero’s welcome by audience and musicians, and her performance of “Joe Hill”with Colin Meloy and Gillian Welchbrought theold daysinto the present. Her version of “House of the Rising Sun” also was haunting.

How country music went crazy: A comprehensive timeline of the genre’s identity crisis

April 8: Brad Paisleys Accidental Racist sets the internet on fire If nothing else, Paisleys controversial track (and really, the whole of his exploratory album Wheelhouse, which encouraged listeners to venture outside their Southern Comfort Zone) suggested that the stalwart star was bored with the current subjects covered in country. May 10: Kacey Musgraves says she doesnt like what country has turned into My voice is undeniably country, and I love country, she told American Songwriter . Do I love what its turned into? No, not all the way. Its a little embarrassing when people outside of the genre ask what I sing and I say country. You automatically get a negative response, a cheese factor My favorite compliment ever is when someone says, I hate country music but I love your music. June 5: Nelly closes the CMT Awards Appearing alongside newcomers Florida Georgia Line, the rapper helped end the ceremony in the performance slot typically reserved for super-established country acts. Granted, Cruise was a truly MASSIVE hit, but country is a very tradition-minded genre, and it was surprising that Florida Georgia Line got to close the show much less close it with the pop remix of their song featuring a rap star. June 8: Lenny Kravtiz flicks off crowds at CMA Fest Nelly wasnt the only non-country star at the CMT Awards. Kravitz was there too, and a few days later the funky rock star appeared as a surprise guest at CMA Fest. But when the crowd proved uninterested in his non-country set (which ran longer than some scheduled performers), Kravitz got increasingly frustrated as he tried to win them over. In the end, he stomped off the stage, middle fingers raised in the air. The whole thing was rather painful to watch. Joseph Hudak of Country Weekly questioned CMA Fests intentions in hiring Kravitz in the first place: There is nothing discernible in his brand of music that makes it a natural fit for a country music festival. And the bewildered response of the crowd on Saturday night proved just that, especially during Lennys laborious set-ending rendition of 1989s Let Love Rule. In the end, it felt like a transparent attempt by our genre to gain a credibility it feels it is lacking. But why?

Smule launches huge Web-based music social network

The play screen for Smule’s Ocarina 2. (Credit: Smule) Every day, users of Smule’s Sing Karaoke sing 480,000 songs, and users of its Magic Piano play 1.2 million songs. And until now, all those songs have only been available to hear and interact with via the hit apps. But Smule wants the content its users generate to be available to everyone, not just those who have the apps, and today, the San Francisco startup launched a Web-based social network that it says is the largest social network of music makers in the world. Smule’s giant network of music makers and fans has been around for years. With Ocarina , Smule had one of the first major iPhone hit apps, a tool that let anyone create music using a digital tool meant to mimic a traditional wind instrument. Those songs could instantly be shared with a worldwide audience, and users could also simply listen to others playing with the app. Using apps like Ocarina, Ocarina 2 , or I am T-Pain, users have been able to create and share music with others around the world, regardless of whether they were friends or strangers. And through the apps, others have been able to listen to that music, and often, interact with it. With the new Web-based system, however, anyone with access to the Internet will be able to listen in, or interact, a system that Smule hopes will open up its network to a much larger audience, and ideally create much more music sharing and creation. Users will now be able to access the music — a terrabyte of which is added to Smule’s network every two days — via Facebook, Twitter, the company’s many apps, and the Web.