Auto-running Videos may chase me away from news sites

I read a lot of news. I just could be someone that the news media would like to see hitting their site, because I am likely to read every article to the bottom of the page. In other words, I routinely navigate over, under, around and through all of the advertising that goes with reading the news on the web.

But lately I’m becoming quite annoyed with reading the news on the web. Most of the major (and many of the minor) news outlets have started using a technique that is going to chase me away from online news: Auto-running videos at the top of every page.

I first noticed it at #nbcnews. They did a recent redesign of their news site, and it looks pretty nice. About half of the news headlines have a yellow “video” icon. That’s when I noticed that those links have ONLY video, and all of the rest have video at the top, followed by the text below. And the video always starts automatically. Sometimes the video is only tangentially relevant to the story!

I guess I can see why #nbcnews thinks their videos are so important that they should start them automatically – after all, every video starts with an advertisement. But I’m in a quiet place, and I don’t want any sound. I’m choosing the stories that are NOT video for a reason, you see. So this behavior started annoying me enough to go look into some of the others.

As it turns out, #cnn does exactly the same thing. As does #msnbc, #abcnews, #cbsnews, and even #yahoonews.

This is what I would like. All of these sites already use cookies to track all kinds of information about me. Let me choose to disable those auto-starting videos, please. You all know you can do this – just have to give me a check box somewhere to make it happen. Use the cookie to save that information about me so that I don’t have to keep disabling the videos every time I return. I know your advertisers will object, but how much more will they object if you lose my patronage?

Children of Musicians

I grew up in a home with music. Dad played the guitar and harmonica, and he was an active participant. Not only that, he owned one of the first electric guitar amplifiers made, a 1949 Gibson GA-25. His guitar was a modified Spanish style guitar: He added a DeArmond pickup to it so that he could play amplified.

As I grew up, every holiday meant our families would get together – primarily dad’s sisters and their families – and play music. Aunt Bert played the guitar too, and Uncle Bob played the Banjo-Mandolin. I still remember sitting behind that Gibson amplifier, smelling those hot tubes and listening to my dad chunk out rhythm guitar chops. Little did I realize the legacy he was creating there (and actually, I believe HIS dad played an instrument too).

This is my dad, looking very satisfied making music. Cousin Pat in the background, doing the photobomb thing before it was popular. 🙂


Eventually dad let me use his guitar to learn to play for myself. As much as he loved that instrument, he must have been torn between wanting to see his son play and wanting to safeguard his prized possession. I’m thankful for the choice he made, because I learned to play on that guitar.

Naturally then, my children grew up in a home with music. It wasn’t quite the same as when I grew up, but was anything the same? Not likely. Eventually both of my daughters began singing, and once in high school, I started getting requests from them to accompany them in school programs. The way this usually worked was that they would ask if I could do it, then tell me they had to turn in an audition tape tomorrow. Thus I would have to learn the song, turn on the recorder and make a tape, all in the space of about an hour. But sometimes we just recorded something they wanted to do.

Here are some recordings we made back when they were both in their teens (I won’t say how long ago this was, but the Sony Walkman tape player was still a viable product then). I will apologize in advance for the guitar heavy mixes on a couple of these – I would love to blame my hearing but in reality I just did a crumby job of mixing. There it is.

This is Alison singing Just What It Takes. All drums, bass and any background sounds programmed into an old Windows 3.1 music program. My guitar was a Hamer Chapparal and the amp was a Rivera Knucklehead.

Emily singing In Between Dances. As above, I programmed the drums and background instruments in Windows 3.1. I do not recall how I got my guitar to sound like that – I was going for the Dobro type sound I guess.

Emily singing Nothing But the Wheel. This was an audition tape we hastily made. Got to perform this for the whole school.

Emily with Alison on harmonies, doing Baby You can Sleep While I Drive. Another audition tape, and another performance for the three of us.

Alison singing If He’s Ever Near. She had heard this many times growing up, and wanted to give it a shot.

Alison asked me to do this one just because. This is Amarillo. We didn’t bother with any drums, which is unfortunate as I sped up throughout, but I’ve always liked how it turned out.

Alison singing Forgiveness. Just because. If you listen closely with headphones, you’ll realize there are two guitars playing in unison, one on each side.

Alison singing Moses. All of these acoustic performances are my dearly departed Taylor 20th Anniversary Grand Auditorium. What a great guitar – why did I ever let it get away?

So where does this legacy thing lead? Well so far, Alison plays the guitar, and it appears at least two of Alison’s children are guitarists. And one plays drums, so we have the start of a whole band going on there. I have other grandchildren who have yet to express an interest, but you never know!


BBC Project Live!

After a month of rehearsals, the BBC Project (Barner, Brain and Cavanaugh) played out only a few times. I set up the DAT recorder on the monitor board to try to get a live mix. It was a disaster – the snare was ten times louder than anything else. Still, with some dynamics processing, I was able to pull that down to within reality and a few tracks stand out.

For all of these, the guitar is my Grosh Bent Top Custom, and the amp is a rack based affair that includes a Digitech 2120 preamp into a Rivera Knucklehead (power amp only). The 2120 actually sounded great until I did a firmware update to give it more control from MIDI – and the tone changed.

This is Cover Me. Tom Brain on vocals.

This is Oh Pretty Woman. Billy Barner on vocals.

Next is True Love. Tom Brain on vocals.

This is Don’t Quit It. Billy Barner on vocals.

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The BBC Project

No, not “that” BBC. In 1999, Tom Brain and I started talking about trying a trio configuration. We had played with Billy Barner in Blues Alliance, so we drafted him for the third leg of the trio. Thus, BBC is Barner, Brain and Cavanaugh.

To get the ball rolling, we decided to push the effort by booking an engagement fairly soon. We made a commitment for a bar in about a month, and set about to fill out our song list.

To do that we realized we needed to record our rehearsals so we had some way to keep track. I set up two vocal mics and two instrument mics. One instrument mic was in front of the guitar amp, the other was sitting in front of the bass drum, but raised up to where the other drums came through, and pointing directly at the bass amp. All of the mics went through a mixer with some effects and we mixed live into my DAT recorder. I figured it was crude but would be good enough.

I was very surprised when I listened back the first time. With some compression (actually, too much) things evened out really nicely, and made for some decent garage sound tracks. I apologize to the guys for posting tracks they had never intended to place in public!

This first track, Jumping Jack Flash, is one of my favorites from that month of scramble. This is Grosh Tele into my Fender Blues DeVille.

I wasn’t going to post Domino, but Billy kills it on the drums, and I can’t help myself. Grosh Tele into Blues DeVille.

This Rangehoods arrangement of More Love, Less Attitude is an old blues standard. Grosh Tele into Blues DeVille.

I have some live tracks of this trio, which I’ll post soon.


Back in the ’80’s I participated in several bands around the Pacific Northwest. Every band seems to morph into different configurations as people come and go, and ideas stimulate new band names.

Souvenir was a project that got its start when a previous band transmogrified. In retrospect, there are times I would like to apologize to several of my friends for this effort, since I became an insufferable jerk to make it happen. Well, let’s get that out of the way first: I’m sorry Phil, that I forgot about friendship. And I’m sorry Robert, I should have behaved better. Sometimes looking back is painful.

Souvenir started out with Doug Cooley on keyboards and vocals, Tom Brain on bass and vocals, Jim Young on drums and yours truly on guitar. By this time, my emerging pitch problems had all but stopped any effort to sing (and you can hear a few pitchy bends here and there).

This first tune,  Working for the Weekend, was recorded around 1986 on a cassette recorder using two mics hanging over the dance floor in a bar. Thus the audio quality is crap – you can barely hear the bass, and this track has a nasty feedback right in the middle. However, this song really captures the level of energy we had when the band first got started. Vocals by Doug Cooley.

The second tune, Stages, was recorded in November 1988 after Doug had left the band and Brian Miller joined on guitar and vocals. We needed a demo, so I borrowed a friend’s 4-track Tascam Portastudio (thanks Rick!) and we took a 2-track feed off our monitor board, then hung two mics up in front of the band. I had to do some fairly fancy filtering to separate this out into about six tracks for the final editing, but we ended up with a reasonable stereo mixdown. Tom Brain on vocals.

Gear-wise, this is my 1969 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe, played through my Mesa Boogie Mark III amplifier. I no longer have either of them (sob!).

I have more tracks from the November set, which I’ll post later. Enjoy.