Has Twitter become a shell game for the guys who just took the company public? I don't know how you feel about Twitter, but of late I'm finding that the social media service is a fat waste of time. I use Twitter to mention what I have going on at JazzWax and when my articles are published in the Wall Street Journal. I do this under the assumption that my nearly 6,000 Twitter followers want to know. So I tweet two times a day—three at most.
But I seem to be in the minority. In a battle for followers (another brilliant gimmick by Twitter to gin up the service and hold its audience), users have taken to babbling all day long about anything and everything, making Twitter the largest electronic repository of junk news, cracker-barrel observations and who-cares information.
Here are my five beefs, which you may or may not share...
1. Most Twitter users tweet too much. Scrolling through my feed, I often find users blathering away in 15 or more tweets per day. In some cases, I find five or six tweets stacked up on top of each other from the same person or artist who wasn't able to sum up thoughts in just one.
2. Many tweets are twitty. A scroll through a day's worth of tweets shows that many users make imbecilic observations or just link to web pages that offer no real value. Oh, and those rock artists who supposedly tweet, thanking cities for coming to concerts or announcing new dates? Most stars have delegated that task to clever assistants who assume their personalities.
3. Many users are ranters. Twitter has a way of exposing sides of people you didn't want to know. People who you thought were smart and sane turn out on Twitter to be odd and deranged. Some rail against animal testing, politicians they don't like, laws they don't favor, wines that suck, bands you've never heard of and a wide range of crank issues. Which would be fine if they did so once daily. Instead, they seem to think that volume produces results or fans. Me? I tend to click "unfollow." Feels good to do so, like closing the door on a nut.
4. Twitter streams are polluted. Twitter supposedly lets you choose who you want to follow. A brilliant idea, since you'd get to create your own newswire, so to speak. But lately, people I don't know and don't care about have turned up in my feed yammering about doughnuts, new guitars, characters in TV shows and all kinds of stream-of-consciousness hot air. I have no idea how they wound up in my Twitter stream in the first place or how to get rid of them. But there they are in my feed, creating information sludge.
5. Most tweets are twisted. How many times have you come across a tweet loaded with three hashtags and links to other stuff that makes little sense? The only thing dumber are Linkedin invites from strangers.
What Twitter has done, ingeniously, is give everyone a platform. The problem is most people don't have much to say but feel compelled to say something anyway. You see this creeping problem of trivia saturation most often on morning TV now—news about what's trending on the web, YouTubes featuring cats smoking pipes and dogs biting balloons, police videos of violent traffic stops and other modern Mondo Cane acts that rob you of valuable time. Welcome to the new electronic pollution—an endless volcanic flows of babble masquerading as social networking that make people feel part of something essential. Sooner or later we'll realize the joke's on us. I, for one, am checking Twitter less and less.
Ricky Skaggs. In the Review section of the Wall Street Journal this weekend (go here or please buy the paper), I interview bluegrass mandolinist Ricky Skaggs on his favorite song—the Stanley Brothers' 1951 hit The Lonesome River and why it means so much to him. Ricky is a great guy and is as natural and as friendly as the honest music he plays.
Charlie Shoemake. In the wake of my post on vibist Charlie Shoemake [pictured above], reader-writer Dawn Starr sent along the following...
"We have a vibrant music scene here on the central coast of California, where Charlie lives and plays. Since January, I have been writing a monthly music column called "Mostly Music" about the local music scene for the online publication Slo Coast Journal. Recently I wrote an article on Charlie for Journal Plus Magazine here.
C4 Trio radio. This Sunday (November 17), saxophonist and educator Bill Kirchner will be hosting a one-hour radio show on WBGO-New York on the C4 Trío. The group hails from Venezuela and is comprised of three players of the cuatro—a four-string guitar-like instrument: Jorge Glem, Edward Ramírez and Héctor Molina. The trio's sound is unique in the way the group uses a traditional, almost sacred instrument, incorporating new harmonies and the open spirit of jazz. Tune in to Bill's show on your computer from anywhere in the world at 11 p.m. (EST) by going here.
Coleman Hawkins radio. On Thursday (November 21), WKCR-New York will feature its annual Coleman Hawkins Birthday Broadcast, spinning the Hawk's music around the clock. Tune in Wednesday at midnight from anywhere in the world by going here.
CD discoveries of the week. Laurie Pepper, Art Pepper's widow, has released Art Pepper: Unreleased Art, Vol. VIII— material recorded live at the Paul Masson Winery in Saratoga, Calif., on September 6, 1976. Pepper's playing is a bit excited here, riding high and hot on the instrument on upbeat tunes. What's interesting is that this isn't Pepper in pain but Pepper trying to regain his footing. Bright moments include Here's That Rainy Day and Ophelia, when Pepper slowed down a bit. Pepper was backed by his newly assembled “Northern California” band, featuring Smith Dobson (piano), Jim Nichols (bass) and Brad Bilhorn (drums).
There's nothing like a fresh, confident guitar—especially when backed by an organ that runs the group's bass line on the foot pedals. On Tom Dempsey's Saucy (Planet Arts), we have a juicy trio that swaggers through songs you want to hear and those that will be new to you. The list includes Buddy Montgomery's Bock to Bock, Lee Morgan's Ceora and a suffle version of Paul Simon's Bridge Over Troubled Waters. But Dempsey's own songs—Saucy, Ted's Groove, Always Around, The Big Bailout and Pat-a-Tat-Tat are hip works in the Wes Montgomery tradition. Dempsey is backed by Ron Oswanski on organ and Alvin Atkinson on drums.
In the old days, a singing voice could make you fall in love. One of my favorite artists who can still pull off this trick is Camila Meza. I last reviewed her here (scroll down) and I'm happy to report that her new album, Prisma, is even better. The New York guitarist and singer is originally from Chile but came to the U.S. to study at the New School. Her voice here is absolutely beautiful. In fact, I'll go so far as to say the album is perfect in every way. A bouquet of flowers from an artist with big things ahead of her. Do yourself a favor and just buy it. Camila will re-introduce you to your heart. For more on Camila, go here.
I wrote about Mike Barone several weeks ago. Since then I received a copy of his new album, Mike Barone Big Band: Birdland. It's hard to believe arranging is still done in this glorious way. On this album, standards Indian Summer and I'm Confessin' and Mike's originals such as Renee, Prunes and Mr. Humble are beautifully crafted, with suspenseful intros and swinging bodies. Songs hum along like sewing machines, with sections coming and going, jousting and setting up each other. Mike's a monster throwback who keeps paying it forward. A jungle gym of an album for big band lovers.
Oddball album cover of the week.