When a Facebook friend sent a Dropbox link to a mixtape called San Francisco Dues, I just had to explore what it was all about. San Francisco Dues is a Chuck Berry album that was released 40 years ago  and any mixtape that evokes Berry needs to be given a listen to post haste! So I wasted no time in downloading the mixtape and to my most pleasant surprise, it turned out to be a bonanza. But before that, a bit about Dropbox. Do you use it? I’ve just started and I can’t stop raving about this most convenient way to ferry your files to wherever you want on whatever device you like or happen to have with you. In more technical terms it is a Web-based file hosting service that uses cloud computing to enable users to store and share files and folders across multiple devices as well as with other people. Read more

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Some musicians are so low profile that you hardly ever realise their influence. They rarely hog the limelight and, in fact, are most often overshadowed by their band-mates who are way more famous. How many of us know of Chuck Leavell? Even if someone told us that Leavell, 59, is an American pianist and keyboardist who has played with the likes of Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers, we’d probably go, “Oh, yet another sessions musician; there are so many.” But if I were to tell you that Chuck Leavell is actually a part of The Rolling Stones and has been touring with the band for years, would that make him any more familiar? Read more

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Over-produced music has never really caught my fancy. I’m referring to the kind of music that producers or DJs sitting in their bedrooms conjure up using nothing much more than a laptop or two. They either mix and match sound samples or “create” compositions using synthesised sound. I’m probably a bit orthodox when it comes to musicians—I prefer mine to actually pick up instruments and play them rather than use the keyboards of their computers to tweak and program software to produce their music. There are exceptions, though. Read more

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One simple rule: when the editor of a magazine drops a subtle hint to a columnist, he better heed it. So when the editor of Brunch handed me a CD she had bought on a recent trip to the US, I got the hint. Translated into words, that gift of a CD obviously meant: “Here, listen to this. Your columns are getting too obscure!” The CD she gave me was a re-issued decade-old album by a musician of whom I had never heard, Stephane Wrembel. I am glad that I wasted no time in listening to Wrembel’s album (Introducing Stephane Wrembel 2001). Read more

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