Find Local Music on your Mobile with go2

Leading mobile entertainment provider go2 has added music offerings, “the industry’s first complete mobile music portal with national coverage and local concert recommendations.” The site is accessible with your mobile at (no www.) Start by entering your location by city or ZIP code and you’re ready to find local music events and news. Once there, you can also add an app to your phone. If you scroll down a bit, you’ll see the music link. Click and you’re presented with a page of go2 Picks, New Music, Upcoming Concerts and Music News. The Upcoming Concerts category can also be navigated by day of the week – very handy. Towards the bottom of the page, you can enter an artist or venue and get local, upcoming results.

Browse by Genre

Towards the bottom (underneath the search option), you’ll see a link for genre. Just pick among Rock, Pop, Hip Hop, Indie, Country and more. You’ll get listings in order, by date. Click a result and you see the venue and details (phone number, address) a map and driving directions, and what’s nearby – restaurants, bars, theaters, taxi and transportation services, hotels and more.

Browse by Venue

I believe that, often times, the venue can make or break the show. So, I really like this feature. When you click the venue link, you can enter the venue name to search, or pick among theater, bar, amphitheater, nightclub, Stadium and more. When searching, I’ve found that it’s spelling-sensitive. It’s best to either have the exact name, or leave out “the,” “theater” and the like. Once you see your venue, click and you get all the upcoming shows. Click on the concert and get venue details, maps and directions. You also get – and this is huge for me – a list of supporting acts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrambled to find out who’s playing before the main show.

Test Results

I couldn’t be more impressed. I’m a heavy mobile user, and a heavy music consumer. The site is clean, easy to use and fast (go to their website to work with a demo “phone,” pictured at right.) It’s stripped down perfectly for my phone (a BlackBerry Pearl) so load time isn’t hindered by too many images. That said, it may be over simplistic for upper end devices like iPhones or G1’s. But for me, when all is said and done, it’s hands down the best mobile music portal out there.

Find Local Shows and Recommendations with Gigfreaks

Let’s say you know a band that you would like to see, but you’re not sure when, or if they are coming to town. Yes, you could check your local music website or even search on Ticketmaster. But there’s a fast, interesting alternative out there. Gigfreaks lets you search by artist and location, then tells you if they are coming in town anytime soon.

This is a new site, just a few weeks old, so there are some issues. My tests showed some positives and negatives. If you search for a relatively well-known band, you will most likely get good results. Even some searches for lesser-known bands turned up accurate results. But there were some misses. The North Mississippi All-Stars are coming to the House of Blues in Chicago (a well-known band at a high-profile venue), and a search turned up nothing.

One of the best potential features of Gigfreaks is “similar gigs.” When you search for a band, you will also get a listing of similar bands and their upcoming gigs. Unfortunately, every search of mine resulted in zero similar gigs in my area. That’s too bad – similar gigs would be a very valuable feature. It’s true that there may not be existing similar gigs, but I tried the search across several different bands and several different cities with no luck. However, it is nice to see some band recommendations and hopefully Gigfreaks will fine-tune things a bit. If they can get everything working nicely, it’s a pretty nice resource. Like I said, it’s early, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for developments and improvements.

Review: Black Crowes, Chicago, 12/5/08

Full disclosure here, I listened to all of one song from the Black Crowes’ new album, Warpaint (released on their own Silver Arrow Records), before attending their show at the Riviera in Chicago. So, going into the show, I didn’t know what to expect. Apparently the album was panned by Maxim – before they ever listened to it – and the show didn’t sell out, so that had me even more worried. But, I’ve been a fan ever since the early days, so I decided it was time I saw them live. I wasn’t disappointed. Although it’s been nearly a decade since we heard from the Black Crowes, it was as if they never left.

Before the show started, the unmistakable scent of pathcouli incense filled the room, courtesy of the band. Then the lights went down, they stepped on stage and I found myself enveloped in a cloud of pot. The atmosphere instantly took me back to my early rocking days and I found myself in a pleasant fit of nostalgia. Perhaps aided by the THC in the air, I grinned wide as Chris Robinson’s distinct voice belted out the first song of a two-hour set and he started posing, emphasizing lyrics with that strange, endearing body language reminiscent of Mick Jagger.

Like I said, I don’t know Warpaint so most of the songs were new to me. Most of the time, when I see a concert filled with unknown songs it’s difficult to get in the groove. But not this time. There’s an aura about the Black Crowes that just doesn’t go away, no matter what they’re playing. They did play some old stuff, but not much. Just fine by me.

And, along with the new record comes a new addition to the lineup. Guitarist Luther Dickinson joins the band, coming from the North Mississippi All-Stars. And it’s a powerful addition. His style blends perfectly with the band, but he also stands out as an incredibly talented musician. He’s presence is clearly felt and showcased, but blended so well that you would think he was with the band from the beginning.

Which brings up an interesting point: It’s explicitly clear that founding brothers Chris and Rich Robinson (pictured) still have problems with each other. During the entire set, they kept their distance and I don’t think made eye contact even once. And that’s a shame, because it could be the one thing that continues to hold them back.

Even so, I walked out of there with a rekindled flame for the Black Crowes, and a solid belief that, as long as they stay together and make music, the more they will cement their status as one of the iconic bands of the South, if not the country. The video below is from the show, of “Whoa Mule” from Warpaint. The second video (partial) showcases Luther Dickinson’s tremendous talent.

Warpaint is a declaration of our soulful independence – Chis Robinson

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FluidTunes: Minority Report for your iTunes

Minority Report always struck me as one of those movies that pegged an accurate depiction of a possible future. And perhaps that future is a little closer than we all thought.

If you have a webcam, check out FluidTunes. This little download lets you control your iTunes library via hand gestures captured through your cam. It’s downright cool, even if it’s not the most practical thing in the world. After clicking to install, you’ll get a zip file. Unzip the file and you’ll see some quick instructions, then you’re pretty much ready to go. I found that I needed to close the application, then open it again to get my iTunes library loaded in.

So, does it work? Well, yes it does. Broad swipes of the hand will move you quickly through your iTunes library, while smaller gestures will cycle your songs slowly. Wiggle your hand at one of the on-screen buttons to activate that button. Now, you’ll need to experiment to get the gestures right, and you’ll find that if you pass through the camera you might accidentally activate one of the buttons. You might also need to adjust your camera to get better results.

Overall, it’s a fun thing to use, but probably not the best way to play your songs. One unfortunate oversight is the lack of a “shuffle” button. That said, it’s worth a try and, if nothing else, makes an impressive little conversation piece for your next party. The video below shows how it all works.


Create Your Own Mix, Meet Ludacris

Rap artist Ludacris, in conjunction with SproutMixer and Island Def Jam Music, has found a new way to engage listeners and promote his new album, Theater of the Mind.

It works like this: Build your own Ludacris widget, complete with photos and music, customize it however you want then post it to your blog, MySpace page, Facebook profile … wherever. If your widget is chosen as the “most creative” you have a chance to win tickets to a Ludacris concert, even meet him in person. Runner-up prizes include one of 25 CDs, 10 Tshirts or 20 hoodies – to get ya gangsta on.

Create your widget.