Enlightened Conflict

San Juan – So ready

July 10th, 2013

I am planning holiday pretty soon and as the title suggests, I’m heading to somewhere warm and inviting. So today’s selection is to put you too, somewhere warm and sunny and free of work.

Joe Claussell, has to be one of the most diverse Dj’s I’ve ever heard. Once you have read up on his back ground, take a listen to his music, I know you will be transformed as I have been …

See you on the beach

Peace and Blessings and Sand,

Dj Luv Dlux

[music-player]

Concert Review: An Evening With Slowhand

March 12th, 2010

Clapton at the RBC Center, Raleigh 3.8.10.  Photo by John Rottet

A few weeks ago, I had written a post about the T-Mobile ad featuring Eric Clapton, and mentioned being a long-time fan of his music.  What I didn’t mention at the time was that I had never seen him live in concert.  As a self-admitted music fanatic, I’ve been fortunate to see most of my favorite artists in person at least once, so it always kind of bothered me that I had missed several opportunities over the years to see someone who was near the top of my list of music heroes.

I rectified that egregious error this past Monday night, when Clapton came to Raleigh, playing at the home of our spectacularly mediocre NHL team.  Adding to my anticipation of seeing Clapton, was that the opening act was another rock legend I’d never seen live, The Who lead singer, Roger Daltry (I’m still puzzled by the fact that someone of Daltry’s fame and stature would agree to be an opening act for anybody, but I’m not going to complain).

Unfortunately due to traffic, we missed most of Daltry’s opening set, arriving in our nose-bleed seats in time to catch only the last couple of songs, including one of my Who favorites, “Baba O’Riley”.  Wish we had seen more, but I have to say that it was pretty cool to actually see and hear Daltrey belt out that rock classic.

Clapton and his band took the stage a short time later, and jumped right into a 90 minute set of classics that spanned most of his over 40-year career.  The rollicking bluesy rock of “Tell The Truth” and “Key to the Highway” (songs from perhaps his finest album, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs) reminded me of my exploration years ago of all of the amazing early blues legends who were themselves music heroes for Clapton: Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf.  The spine-chilling solo work during “Old Love” (from his late 80s Journeyman album), and the wild abandon he brought to the closer, “Crossroads” (a classic from his days with Cream) were perfect displays of the two sides of Clapton’s guitar virtuosity: on “Old Love”, there’s his signature tone. It’s been said that part of what makes a guitarist truly great is when you can recognize his playing without even being told who it is(think Hendrix, or B.B. King, or even Eddie Van Halen).  Thousands of guitarists play a Fender Stratocaster, but no one really quite replicates that “sound” (See also “Wonderful Tonight” for an example of that unmistakable tone).   On “Crossroads” you hear the ferocity and fluid technical ability of someone who is in perfect command his instrument, yet right on the edge of control. Kind of like a fighter pilot “pushing the envelope” of his aircraft.  Listen to the version of “Crossroads” on Cream’s album Wheels of Fire and you’ll have an idea of why kids in the sixties started spray painting “Clapton is God” on the walls throughout London.

There were many memorable moments throughout the evening, but I had to chuckle a bit when Clapton, during an acoustic set, launched into “I’ve Got A Rock N Roll Heart”, currently being used in the aforementioned T-Mobile campaign.  It had always been an obscure(albeit good) song, but apparently the commercial has helped expose it to a wide audience, as it got one of the biggest receptions (and sing-alongs) of the night.

Another great moment: Hearing “Wonderful Tonight” and almost unconsciously pulling my wife a little closer.  Yeah, the tune might be overplayed and almost cliché (I think it was the theme song of my Junior Prom), but it’s still one of the most romantic pieces of music I’ve ever heard (despite the fact that Clapton actually wrote the song in a moment of frustration, as he was waiting for his wife, who was taking forever to get ready for a party).

There’s something incredibly thrilling about seeing one of my favorite musicians/bands for the first time; the anticipation, the expectations, the sheer excitement of hearing those songs I love (and in the case of Clapton’s work, have loved for most of my life).  It’s the same feeling I had last year when I saw Bruce Springsteen for the first time, and U2 a few months later.  I can only compare it to the joy and excitement a child experiences on Christmas morning.  It’s sad that as we grow older, those moments become fewer and farther between.  I only hope I continue to find that same joy even 40 years or so from now as an old man at a rock concert…I mean, I haven’t seen the Rolling Stones yet, and I’m sure they’ll still be touring by then, don’t ya think?

The Requisite Super Bowl Ad Review

February 9th, 2010

I believe it is a requirement of every marketing/advertising blog to write something about the Super Bowl ads, usually first thing on Monday morning, following the big game.  Well, as Bruce told you yesterday, he was hanging out with his mom and didn’t watch the game, so I figured I should ensure he keeps his “Marketing/Advertising Blogger” street cred by supplying my own quick take on the best spot of Super Bowl XLIV.

My vote for best ad:  Google “Parisian Love :60”

Like every year, there were plenty of ads that made me laugh(Betty White and Abe Vigoda playing football!), plenty that left me scratching my head(the ‘86 Bears doing a remake of the Super Bowl Shuffle), and plenty that were just plain bad(everything ever done by Go Daddy…regardless of how hot Danica Partick is).  The Google ad was the only one that, after watching it, I said “wow, that was a great friggin ad.”  So many other spots were so focused on entertaining the audience or becoming the “watercooler conversation” the next day, that I hardly remember what it was they were supposed to be selling.  I know Doritios and Bud Light ran a ton of spots, and to me they were interchangeable; lots of frat boy humor and not a lot of substance.

If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.

-David Ogilvy

I think there are three things that make Google’s ad great: simplicity, focus on product benefit, and effective use of emotion.   It’s just the Google homepage(the definition of simplicity, by the way), and a demonstration of some of the many ways that its search capabilities can be used to make life easier/better.  No one is getting kicked in the groin, there are no talking babies, and Danica Patrick is no where to be found. Now, if all the ad did was show someone making a bunch of searches on Google, this would have been a supremely boring spot, but the use of the music and the clever theme to the searches (going to Paris, falling in love, starting a family) gives it the emotional boost that makes it resonate with the viewer.

You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut.

-Bill Bernbach

I really don’t remember any other ads that were as successful in doing that.  So that’s my favorite spot from Super Bowl XLIV(I just love using Roman numerals), what did you think of that spot?  What was your favorite ad?  Any votes for the worst ad of the night?

Hero Disillusionment: There’s an app for that

February 2nd, 2010

One of my favorite bloggers, Where’s My Jetpack? just reminded me of a recent T-Mobile ad featuring one of my childhood heroes, Eric Clapton:

Ok a couple of things.

  1. I’ve been a huge fan of Eric Clapton since I was a kid. I own most of his albums, I just finished reading his autobiography, hell, I wrote a 20 page term paper in college (the class was “History of the Blues”) defending the man as a “true” blues musician.
  2. This ad kind of bothers me for some reason(even though I like the song in the spot from one of his more obscure early 80s albums).  Actually, it makes me embarrassed for him…and a little bit for me, for being a fan.

At first I couldn’t figure out why.  I like parts of the ad: The music, the phone itself(i’m a sucker for anything with a sunburst finish and a Fender logo), and I even kind of got a chuckle out of the part where Buddy Guy(another blues legend and hero of mine) shows up on the caller ID.

Then Bruce pointed out exactly what bothered me:  It’s a “me too” ad.  It is basically a rip off of the iPhone ads.

So maybe what bothers me isn’t that this childhood hero is shilling a product.  It’s that he’s shilling a “me too” product in a “me too” ad.  Come on Eric, couldn’t your manager have gotten you a gig with Apple instead?

Now, this isn’t the first time ol’ Eric has done an ad that made me scratch my head.  Back in 1989, Clapton had just got sober after coming out of his second stint in rehab for alcoholism(and not only has he been sober ever since, he’s also helped others get sober through a rehab center he founded called Crossroads).  That’s why I could never understand why he agreed to do a commercial for Michelob using one of his classic songs, “After Midnight”:

Maybe I’m just over thinking it.  What do you think of the ad?  Have you ever had a similar reaction, seeing one of you favorite artists/actors etc. endorsing a product?

Thoughts on Social Media: Separating Hype from Reality

January 4th, 2010

Borrowed from the brilliant blog, Where's My Jetpack?

Note:  Bruce and I have had many discussions about the rise of social media marketing, and he suggested that I offer up a white paper that I wrote earlier in 2009 that outlines my thoughts on the use of social media by companies for marketing efforts.  Below is a short excerpt of these thoughts, and you can download the full white paper by visiting the Business Thoughts page above or by clicking here.

~Brice

Social networking. Web 2.0. User-generated content. Conversational Marketing. These terms have become ever present in the world of marketing communications over the last few years. But what do they mean? And, is this the revolution of marketing that many say it is?

Yes and no. Social media is not a fad, and as online access and usage has exploded over the past 10 years, a large majority of the public is now accessing some form of social media, be it through a social networking site like Facebook, or simply by researching product purchases online by reading user-generated reviews. But while millions of consumers use these new tools every day, their use by businesses seeking to connect with customers should be tempered with a solid understanding of the fundamentals of marketing and communications.

Why all the excitement among marketers about social media?

A couple of reasons: First, because more and more, this is where consumers are. In the past, marketers knew they could reach their audience through a handful of channels – television, radio, the newspaper. Even today, TV viewership is at an all-time high, with the average American watching more than 151 hours per month. But now, consumers are also spending nearly 30 hours per month online, where they are typically engaging in some form of social media. The numbers speak for themselves:

  • The share of US adult internet users – 74% of all US adults – who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35%, or 52 million as of December 2008.
  • Over 133 million blogs are being tracked by Technorati, an online blog search engine
  • 94.1 million US blog readers in 2007 (50% of Internet users)
  • More than 150 million users of the social network Facebook.

Secondly, this is where consumers are being significantly influenced in their purchasing decisions. People have always sought out the opinions of friends, family and colleagues, and the rise of online channels has expanded this circle of influence. Over 80% of adult internet users research products and services online, and it is the reviews and opinions of their peers that carry the most influence. Whether it’s a friend on a community forum, or a customer review on Amazon.com, the influence of word-of-mouth has grown exponentially as a result of the rise of social media.

Social Media and Traditional Media: Content is still King

Some companies believe in the “if you build it they will come” mantra when it comes to reaching consumers online. They see the millions of potential customers on a social network like Facebook, and immediately publish a Facebook page with a company logo, a link to the company’s website…and that’s about it. Soon they find that the only “fans” of their page, are some employees and their advertising agency. But a branded Facebook page is not a strategy – Word of Mouth advertising is.

Any communication channel, be it television, outdoor billboards, or a social network, is only as effective as the content it delivers to the audience. Taking the example above, a company that launches a Facebook fan page might garner a number of consumer “fans” at first, but if they do not begin to provide content that is relevant to this audience, they will soon have a static page that few visit. Companies must resist the urge to dive in to a new “hot” channel, before first understanding the needs of their target audience, as well as where and when they need to deliver content that meets those needs.

To read the rest of this white paper, please click here.

Brice’s Soundtrack To 2009: A Review of My Favorite Music of the Year

December 30th, 2009

This post I cannot claim as my own (although it is so cool I wish I could). My friend Brice, who is also the guy who makes this site go, wrote it. He is a music nut like me (but his tastes are cooler). We share a love for anything Mathew Sweet as well as Ryan Adams‘ good songs. I turned him on to Gina Villalobos and he turned me on to the best band no one has ever heard of – Patty Hurst Shifter. Anyway. Here are his 2009 music picks.

-Bruce

It’s that time of year again, when everyone is assembling a top ten list of “The Best” stuff of the year, be it songs, albums, books, athletes, celebrity meltdowns etc.. I guess it’s a natural human tendency to look back at this time of the year, and I feel that same pull. My problem with most of these lists however, is the use of the term “The Best.” It’s as if these cultural critics actually have the authority to tell the rest of us, by way of a top ten list, what the most important things from this year were. Why is number 6 on your list better or more important than numbers 7-10? Instead, I’d like to take a look back at some of my favorite music from 2009 in no particular order (other than the order they showed up on iTunes when I was assembling this list). Are any of these albums or songs “The Best of 2009”? Who knows…but for me, they certainly helped make this a great year for music.

WilcoWilco (The Album); Songs: “You and I”, “You Never Know”

Anyone who knows me well knows that Wilco is my favorite band in America, so it should come as no surprise that their 2009 album Wilco (The Album) made this list. The release of every new Wilco album brings with it a certain level of anxiety for me. Will they top (or at least live up to) their previous albums that I love so much? Will this finally be the album that disappoints me? Fortunately, this one didn’t let me down. While I may not have the same sheer devotion to this one as I do earlier releases, (Especially the epic double-album Being There or their last release Sky Blue Sky) it delivers on what I’ve come to expect from Jeff Tweedy and the boys: imaginative songwriting, impeccable musicianship, and plenty of hooks to keep the songs running through your head the rest of the day. Two highlights are Jeff’s duet with Leslie Feist on the simple love song “You and I”, and the easy-going rocker “You Never Know”.

Roman CandleOh Tall Tree In The Ear; Songs: “Why Modern Radio is A-OK”, “A Heartbeat”

This is the second album from this band from Chapel Hill, who seems to always strike such a great balance between smart power pop and roots-tinged rock and roll. Lead singer Skip Metheny’s voice has such a unique sound, full of energy, emotion and irreverence. If I had to make a Top Ten Songs list for this year, near the top would be “Why Modern Radio is A-OK” in which Metheny extols the virtues of mindless pop radio because at least it won’t break his heart…funny and poignant at the same time.

Roman Candle “Why Modern Radio Is A-OK” from Lake Fever Sessions on Vimeo.

Pearl JamBackspacer; Songs: “The Fixer”, “Just Breathe”

Speaking of favorite bands who I hope never disappoint me (and haven’t yet), Pearl Jam released their first album in three years. If you haven’t listened to Pearl Jam since the days when flannel shirts and Doc Martin’s were fashionable (I just had a horrible flashback to high school), this is a perfect reintroduction to one of the great rock bands of the last 25 years. “The Fixer” is classic Pearl Jam: full of big guitars, soaring choruses and lots of that energy that makes them such a compelling act. But my favorite song on the album just might be the quiet, contemplative acoustic number, “Just Breathe”:

Yes I understand that every life must end, aw huh,..
As we sit alone, I know someday we must go, aw huh,..
I’m a lucky man to count on both hands
The ones I love,..

Some folks just have one,
Others they got none, aw huh,..

Stay with me,..
Let’s just breathe.

Enlightened Conflict