Unplugged and Unwigged!

If you are a fan of Spinal Tap or The Folksmen, two of the greatest bands that never existed, you need to catch the boys on their “Unplugged and Unwigged” tour.  I’ll be there with my Stonehenge shirt on.

Here’s a link for the site  with clever blog posts, tour dates and ticket information:


Wood is Good!

Watch for the review in issue 21, but I can let the cat out of the bag to tell you the PBN Montana Groove Master turntable is a winner.  Making use of a unique wooden plinth and armboard and the SME 312S tonearm, this table is full of analog magic.

For more information go to:


A Perfect Evening With Madeleine Peyroux

The acoustics of the Shedd Institute for the Arts Theater in Eugene, Oregon was the perfect match for Peyroux’ lush voice.  Touring to support her new disc, Bare Bones, Peyroux is also donating $1 from each ticket to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

She started the show with “Dance Me To The End of Love” from her Careless Love album and then moved right into the title track from the new album, mixing up the material from her last three albums throughout the evening.  While the set only lasted 90 minutes, it was the perfect helping – much like a meal served in just the right proportions where after dessert and a cognac, you feel “just right.”

If you’ve only heard Peyroux on disc (or perhaps the amazingly good LP version of Careless Love on 180g. vinyl from Mobile Fidelity), you are in for a real treat; she exhibits a much wider range of vocal ability on the stage and can really belt it out when required.  Unlike other jazz excursions I’ve heard where the individual players can have a tendency to riff off into infinity, the solos were tight, tasteful and well placed – this was a cracking band!

A gracious host, Peyroux made it a point to thank the audience quite a few times for their enthusiasm and displayed a great sense of humor throughout the performance, commenting on the local crop of organic stimulants to a round of applause.  She then proceeded to introduce the band and ended the set with “Instead” from her new album, quipping “I do know a few happy tunes.”

The only guy she left off the list of kudos was her sound engineer, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a live mix this exquisite, striking a perfect balance of sound level and tonal accuracy. If only all live performances could deliver this level of sound quality!  It doesn’t get any better than this.

On tour for the better part of the year, this is one show you won’t want to miss.  If you like Madeleine Peyroux on record, you will love her in person.

Neil Young Archives Finally A Reality In June

After nearly two decades of delays and multiple format changes, the first
volume Neil Young’s long-awaited Archives series of box sets will be
released June 2 on Blu-Ray disc, DVD, and CD.

While we’re ecstatic, we’re leaving the details to Mr. Young’s Web site,
which provides everything you need to know about the set–including track
listings and why you should invest the extra $100 for the Blu-Ray edition.

That said, we do think it’s a bit lame that two of the discs in the set have
already been released as part of the NYA Performance Series. It’s not like
Young is hurting for material, so why the repeat?


Happy browsing!

TONEAudio Writer Escapes Fiery Death!

Nope, you aren’t reading the Inquirer, TONE writer Richard Simmons (who wrote the cover story on Chuck D in issue 18) was on his way to work yesterday when a passerby alerted him to the fire beneath his car.  He was able to exit the car seconds before it burst into flames…

For the full story you can read this:


stock photo used

TSA Stole My Music Direct Catalog!

After arriving home from Chicago on Sunday, I finally got around to unpacking my luggage.  On my visit to Music Direct last week, they gave me their two newest catalogs and a few of the latest Mobile Fidelity pressings for review.  Fortunately, I hand carried the LP’s on the plane because when I opened my suitcase, there was the customary “we’re the TSA and we went through your things…” tag.

But the Music Direct catalogs were GONE.

I hope the TSA is planning some serious hifi shopping in the near future!  And glad they didn’t grab my Marshall Crenshaw CD!

Crue Fest 2 announced

There’s only two days left until tickets go on pre-sale for Motley Crue’s Crue Fest 2.

If you are a Crue fan, I highly suggest getting in line right now to partake in this six hour mini metal fest.  Last year’s show was awesome (ok Buckcherry kind of sucked) with five bands, a ton of energy and of course Tommy Lee’s portable video camera action to round things out.

Head-fi’ers in Portland

Staff writer Marc Phillips and I headed down to the Portland Athletic Club to see the new goodies from ALO Audio’s Ken Ball and check out what the local chapter of Head-Fi’ers were up to.  It was somewhat odd walking past the rows of workout fanatics to the headphone area, but once there we easily forgot about all the iron that was being pumped just outside.

Ken was showing off his new headphone amplifier, a joint creation between he and Vinny Rossi of Red Wine Audio.  Based on the circuit that is in Vinnies latest preamplifier, the Isabella, this amp is a winner for $1000.  It features dual headphone jacks (1/4-inch and mini), a stepped attenuator and of course is battery powered. Watch for a full review on the TONEAudio website very soon.  Impressive!

On the way out, we were the envy of all the workout queens as they looked longingly at our oatmeal-rasin cookies!

A Few Words About Neil Young

If you are a Neil Young fan, check out TONE staffer Lloyd Peterson’s recent posting on All About Jazz:

As always, Peterson bypasses the obvious story line and digs a bit deeper, revealing a facet of a musician that perhaps you didn’t think of right away, even if you are a mega fan.

Hell yeah, I’m goin’ to Rocklahoma

The credit for this goes to our newest music writer, Bob Gendron.  I just got an email from him inquiring about this metal festival in Oklahoma, July 7-12.  Click on the link and check this out.  Keel is going to be there along with Twisted Sister and a few others you all know and love.  Don’t miss Rocklahoma!


Marc Phillips Checks in with Boy Eats Drum Machine

I caught Jon Ragel, the turntablist who performs as Boy Eats Drum Machine, at the Someday Cafe in downtown Portland, and I received a rather special gift after the show. Jon brings copies of his recent album Booomboxxx to sell at his shows, as most performers do. Jon takes it one step further by offering his album in both CD and LP form, and he puts the vinyl into old record covers and hand paints each one. In other words, each copy is a unique work of art.

I chose this particular cover since it was an old RCA Living Stereo (I didn’t spot any Mercury Living Presence covers, in case you were wondering). The fact that the vinyl sounded fantastic–warmer and more revealing than my CD–was an added bonus. Read More »

New from ZU, booya!

Adam Decaria from Zu Audio shared a picture of my new Zu Essence speakers with me this morning, straight from the paint booth.  Their master craftsmen went above and beyond the call of duty to paint mine in Golf Yellow, the classic BMW 2002Tii color.  For those of you that don’t know me, it’s one of my favorite colors in the world!  

Needless to say, these babies will make a real statement in my living room…

The great news is that these sound as good as they look and only take up a 12 x 12 inch footprint in your room.  With 97db sensitivity, you can drive em with anything and they sound particularly yummy with your favorite low powered tube amplifier.

For more info, go to:


Review forthcoming.

Sooloos project complete…

Well almost.

After a few days of wiring and moving a few things around, the Sooloos is completely hardwired into my music room.  The pair of Store 2’s that hold 2TB each, are neatly tucked away in the record and CD room with plenty of ventilation.  Most of all, when you close the door, the whole thing is SILENT…

The Sooloos Control 5 now feeds to my main system via the digital input of the outstanding Wadia 781i SE (review forthcoming) and to our art directors desktop system via line level outputs on zone 2 and my desktop system via zone 3.  The Sooloos can run all three zones simultaneously and thanks to their Control PC software can be accessed from either of our Mac’s via Parallels on the desktop or via iPhone to cover basic start, stop and pause functionality.

This is the most fun you can have with music with your pants on. 6500 CD’s right next to the listening chair with room for about 3500 more!

If you are not familiar with the Sooloos, you can read our full review in issue 11.  Watch for our long term test report on the web soon.  If you sign up for our mailing list, you will be the first to hear about it….

Bob Gendron joins TONE!

We are honored to have the music editor and my former cohort from The Absolute Sound, Bob Gendron join the TONEAudio staff. Bob is a cool cat that has a very wide range of musical taste that will only add to the diversity of our music coverage.

Ok, that’s the tidy PR copy. Bottom line, Bob likes to rock and has a great sense of humor, so he’ll fit in just fine here.

And to share his first snibbet of that humor, he suggests this link to channel your inner Diamond David Lee Roth:



Great article by our newest writer…

TONEAudio is very excited to announce that Lloyd Peterson is joining our staff to add to our already diverse music coverage. In case you haven’t heard of him, his book, Music and the Creative Spirit: Innovators in Jazz, Improvisation and the Avant Garde is a phenominal group of interviews with some of the finest artists in Jazz today.

Pat Metheny called it “Maybe the best book on Jazz I have ever read”.

Lloyd also writes for allaboutjazz.com and has just published an interview with Iraqi musician Rahim Alhaj. It’s a great read, albeit somewhat scary, listening to what this man has been through. Here’s the link:


I highly suggest this one.

Not just a jazz guy, he told me last weekend when we were at the Portland Jazz Festival discussing the Ornette Coleman/Pat Metheny collaboration Song X “That’s only the beginning. I’m always trying to find something that’s way out there.” So watch for Lloyd’s concert coverage on the PDX Jazz Festival in the April issue, and a lot more in the months to come.

We’re Back!

Thanks to all the hard work by Jason, James and Nate at Bloody Monster web design in Portland, (www.bloodymonster.com) we have a new and greatly improved website.  Our blog will now be able to be accessed directly from our home page, so you won’t need to go anywhere else to check up on us.

You can look forward to seeing new content from us on a daily basis very soon, so check back often.  Now, if I can only get all of those CD’s loaded into the Sooloos…