A new series begins at AfterByte! Woo-hoo! Heck, I might even continue this one past the first installment.
The CBC is Canada’s public radio network, equivalent to NPR in the U.S. and BBC in the UK. Like some other public radio services, the Corp. regularly records and broadcasts live concerts.
Unlike other services, it now posts those recordings online, almost immediately after the broadcast. With the exception of Wolfgang’s Vault, arguably another best kept secret, this must be the largest cache of live concert recordings available online. And the CBC service is superior in some ways to Wolfgang’s. The concerts are all contemporary for one thing. (Wolfgang’s are mostly archival.)
The CBC concerts are also streamed at 128 kilobits per second (Kbps). Now, audiophiles will turn up their noses (ears?) at the notion of 128-Kbps streams. When they rip music from CDs, they use lossless modes that rip at between 400 and 900 Kbps and deliver CD-quality sound. But 128 Kbps is about the limit of what you can reasonably stream over the Internet. And to my ears, these streams sound as good as FM radio, better in some ways - no interference and distortion.
And you will find international stars, just not top pop music names. Recent examples: 80s British alt rocker Elvis Costello, bluesman John Hammond, archetypal 60s folkie Arlo Guthrie (pictured courtesy CBC), alt country singer Neko Case, country legend Loudon Wainwright III, classical pianist Emanuel Ax – and that’s just in the last month and a half or so.
There are also lots of gems from the Canadian music scene. If you’re feeling adventurous (or actually like the same kind of weird stuff I do), check out the following:
- Melanie Doane with the Art of Time Ensemble: Canadian Songbook III - collaboration between a classical chamber ensemble and singer-songwriter.
- Gryphon Trio at Lula Lounge via Brazil! – another cross-over collaboration, this time classical piano trio meets Brazilian jazz.
- Susie Arioli on Routes Montreal – very cool Montreal jazz singer in intimate concert with guitar accompaniment (pictured near top, courtesy CBC).
- Martha Wainwright at the Metropolis – confessional singer-songwriter, daughter of Loudon, brother to Rufus.