My music journey, courtesy of Second Life

Lest anyone think that Mr. Vig inhabits Second Life only to ridicule Linden Lab when not navel-gazing, let me take inspiration from the finale of “American Idol” and share a little about perhaps my favorite aspect of Second Life – the music scene. Someone said that live music is Second Life’s “killer app,” and I would tend to agree thus far. Let the corporate types meet and ponder their game-changing paradigms, I’ll go to a show. And I go just about every night that I’m inworld. The old DJ in me comes out at night…

I was introduced to the music scene by Breeze Winnfield, one of the great sim-builders…who might not be inworld any longer. I haven’t heard from her in months. Anyway, she invited me to explore the music world with her. Breeze is a rootsy-bluesy music fan, so her initial tour played to those strengths. Learn all about my music voyage after the fold… Continue reading

The Dexter-watch begins…

Thanks to the generosity of Jordan Morgenrote (of SL jewelry fame, “Jordan*s”), we get to host Dexter Ihnen at Oyster Bay this week.Dexter Ihnen LIVE at Oyster Bay

Dexter is one of SL’s top live music performers – combining new material with incredible covers in a unique and accessible style all his own. This is from his website, and it’s not all bravado:. This piece refers to Dexter as a RL live performer in Australia, but the sentiment carries over to SL:

There’s a lot of hacks going around with an acoustic guitar and a few chords who call themselves a solo act . But Dexter is something different , something special . For a start the guy really knows his instrument. Somehow he manages to pluck, pop, and slap percussive sounds, basslines and shifting chordal patterns out of the one solitary acoustic guitar.

It’s really quite amazing to watch. And all the time he`s singing these great smooth melodies over the top. Dexter is a one-of-a-kind-. Indeed, he has that elusive element to his music, it’s called soul. As his rich warm tenor sifts through the moving bodies of the crowd, feet tap unconsciously, and fingers drum the faded table tops. Soul seeps through the jazz-inflected rhythms, the upbeat funk and then bleeds gently from the quieter, more introspective numbers. I have watched people close their eyes and get lost in the sweetness of what Dexter does, arpeggios tinkling over them like gold coins from a purse. Others stare transfixed at the skillful blur of his hands over the guitar. It is no wonder Dexter has received international acclaim for his virtuosity both as a solo artist and as a songwriter of rare depth.

For many of the reasons stated on Dexter’s site, Oyster Bay tends to shy away from the “guys with guitars.” There are just so many out there, and so many venues that play that music genre. At the same time, there are a handful that we’ve hosted over the past year who are clearly a cut above. Komuso Tokugawa. Smily Raymaker (ok, a girl with a guitar). Spaceman Opus. TallGuyKidd.

And Dexter Ihnen clearly is in that mix. I’m genuinely excited to see him perform under the lights of the Oyster Bay stage.

Arrive early! The sim will be full…

Sum-sum-summertime…

TallGuy Kidd bannerYou gotta love the summer. All the school employees are on summer break, and those who struggled valiantly to get inworld during the year suddenly find themselves flush with time. Some, like Sunn Thunders, build a fantastic immersive experience (“The Abyss” – a collaboration with Rezago Kokorin). Others, like Isolde Flamand, try their hands at other aspects of Second Life culture.

Isolde’s decided to try her hand at event management at Oyster Bay. She’s been suggesting that Oyster Bay host a favorite artist of hers, TallGuy Kidd, for some time. So she set about bringing him in…and Oyster Bay will host TallGuy Kidd on next Wednesday, July 25 at 6PM SLT!

TallGuy is known in real life as Dale Marsh (great website, by the way), a West Texas crooner who brings his country style into the metaverse a couple of times every week. Second Life music, streaming in through PC’s on Shoutcast servers using programs like WinAmp, is perfectly made for a person with a guitar. There are great singer-guitarists in Second Life, like Spaceman Opus, Komuso Tokugawa, Smily Raymaker and others (I cite those three because of their past shows at Oyster Bay). I’ve dropped in on a couple SL shows by TallGuy and love his easygoing attitude and “just have fun” approach. There’s some depth as well, as this review on his website suggests:

The enjoyment in Dale’s music is in its universality. The message of each song is personal, nostalgic, and touches the memories. All real good music finds an easy pathway to the listener’s heart. Once there, Dale Marsh’s music finds a warm and genuine welcome.

One other thing: TallGuy has this song, “The Yahoo! Song,” which is a blast for those of us in the virtual world. He’ll ask the big question, “Do You Yahoo?” in a way that you’ve never considered.

Please join us – it’ll be a great summertime night, one you don’t need to be on summer vacation to enjoy!

LIVE: Origin Rang at Oyster Bay on Friday, July 20

Hot on the heels of tonight’s successful MoShang Zhao show at Oyster Bay (pictures coming tomorrow…), I am excited to announce our next performer, Origin Rang!

A resident of Tokyo, Origin is a classically-trained pianist of impressive quality – and I recently learned that he’s been playing for over 30 years. It shows. I bumped into one of his earliest shows in-world and was blown away at the caliber of his performance. I only hoped that one day he would play Oyster Bay.
Within the last couple weeks, Origin and a friend stopped in and visited Oyster Bay – most likely exploring, like most SL’ers do. We exchanged pleasantries, then SL friendships and then discussed the possibility of his playing at Oyster Bay. Now it’s going to happen!

The mix of visual and audio arts goes back to the beginning of Oyster Bay. We’ve had DJ’s like Doubledown Tandino, Kaj and Dena Dana, ambient performers like AldoManutio Abruzzo and MoShang Zhao, and guitar-oriented performers like Spaceman Opus, Smily Raymaker, Fabrice Crosby and Komuso Tokugawa. To be able to add the “fine arts” to the list, with a talent like Origin Rang, is a real treat.

Origin will be playing at Oyster Bay on Friday, 20 July at 7:00PM SLT. Mark your calendars – I hope you will join us!

Keeping track of history, and keeping history honest

Gwynneth Llewelyn offers yet another manifesto on Second Life, this one discussing the development of the Second Life economy and its impact on governance. I greatly enjoy reading her blog as it offers a degree of historical depth and technical insight that nearly every other SL blog lacks; while many offer elements of technical expertise, way too few offer anything resembling history.

This is a real pet peeve of mine, as it’s clear that these first few years of the Second Life grid represent the beginning of something unique and special in the evolution of the Internet. With the exception of well-meaning efforts like the Second Life Historical Museum (which is great on very early SL history but lacking in the near-recent past, especially after the historical landmark that took place when Linden Lab allowed unverified accounts), I know of no organized effort to catalogue and document Second Life history other than the forthcoming Second Life 4th Birthday celebration, which is totally volunteer organized and (from an art perspective) a bit of a scramble for people to sort through their inventories for anything approaching “older” Second Life pieces.

Simply put, Linden Lab blew it in not devoting resources to documenting the history of its grid. As much as I will praise the recent developments in their customer service capacity, I scold Linden Lab for the lack of a paid, full-time Second Life historian on staff. In their pursuit of the almighty buck (which is needed, granted), they lost sight of the amazing history they have created. This is unforgivable.

That all being said, blog entries like Llewelyn’s are quite important. And getting the facts of Second Life history correct are even MORE important. So allow me a chance to nit-pick an element of the aforementioned entry. Gwynneth, in describing the modern Second Life economy, states:

Things like the Foundation For Rich Content allowed cultural events to establish themselves initially; now, the artistic and cultural environment in SL pays for itself. There is hardly a gallery/museum that doesn’t make a profit, and live concerts always hit sim limits.

I know nothing of the Foundation for Rich Content. However, I can speak with more than a little authority on the art gallery/museum market. I also possess considerable experience in live music events (DJ performances and live music).

In both cases, Llewelyn dramatically overstates the economic success of the Second Life art market. To say that “There is hardly a gallery/museum that doesn’t make a profit” is patently wrong. I own a “gallery” (I suppose it’s a gallery, although there is much more to the place) and can say that without the income from my Oyster Bay Market store rents, there is no way in the world that I could turn a profit. With the rents, I am barely in the black against my monthly tier payment. Gallery commissions on art sales alone never did and likely never will cover tier at Oyster Bay.

Conversation with my fellow gallery owners (Believe it or not, we do swap notes) indicates that I am not alone. No gallery that I know of confidently operates in a self-sustaining manner every month. [EDIT/CORRECTION: I now know of one.] In nearly every instance, gallery owners are barely covering costs or subsidizing their galleries with their personal pocketbooks. This is even more profound in the countless small, single-artist galleries where the artist/proprietor simply wants to show their work to the world. The saying, “You’ll never get rich in art” is true in the real world. Sadly, I think it’s the same in Second Life.

In the same vein, Llewelyn says that music concerts regularly fill sims. She must be a diehard fan of Komuso Tokugawa, as I cannot think of any other performer in Second Life – live performer or DJ – who can be counted upon to fill (and often crash) a sim. There are some performers who are very popular who will occasionally fill sims….yesterday’s opening of the Maximilian Milosz and Scope Cleaver sims, which was DJ’d by DJ Santiago Cortes and Doubledown Tandino kept the sim reasonably full for their 2+ hours, for example. Most live performances attract a decent crowd, but nothing approaching a full sim. Why do I know this? Because I host events at Oyster Bay and have only had full sims from Komuso Tokugawa and Smily Raymaker; I also frequent live music events and my teleports are almost never rejected for sims being full. This is no reflection on the caliber of Second Life music; I have been very pleasantly surprised at the SL music scene. It is one of my favorite aspects of the social life in Second Life.

I raise these points to offer my perspective on Gwynneth’s well-written, informative blog entry. I also think that my impressions do cast a bit of a different shade on her optimism that the Second Life economy is as robust as it appears to be. Without the Linden weekly stipends and personal checkbook contributions, the Second Life economy would suffer greatly. The economy is much further developed than it has been, but I doubt that it is as successful as Gwynneth states.

In the end, however, it’s a shame that I feel compelled to comment so strongly – especially on such a nitpick. Problem is, there is so little history offered that we MUST get it right.

By the way, I agree with Llewelyn’s notion that the current libertarian environment of the Second Life grid is untenable, and that some form of democratic society is needed.