Monday, September 29, 2008

DISH Network Serves Bend Poorly, Has To Go


Before we moved to Bend I looked at the various high-definition TV content carriers. Bend Cable, DISH Network, and DirecTV were on the list. 

Of course we could have just plopped an antenna on the roof and watched the local stations, but we like more programming than the traditional network affiliates provide. HBO and Showtime have original programming that we like, and other cable channels give us something to watch, too. 

(Even so, there are plenty of times when there's "Two hundred channels and nothing but cats.")

Mrs Elliott and I used to have TiVo. The box broke with a hard drive failure. They tried to sell me a new one. "To heck with that -- this box is less than two months old. We'll cancel the service." 

Suddenly they found a way to give me a new box no charge.

Then a year later, that box broke. The HD again. The conversation followed the same formula: they try to sell me a new box, I offer to discontinue service, they offer to send a new box for free.

When the third box failed (no idea why, it just stopped) I decided I didn't want to play the game any more, canceled the service and switched over to the local cable company's DVR. 

Which sucked -- once you've used the TiVo interface, lesser offerings are a pain in the butt. But we stuck with it.  

I vowed that I'd find something better when we moved to Bend, and that's why I decided to try satellite over cable. DISH provided more high def content, so I contacted Para-Tech Satellite Systems in Bend to get some questions answered and set up the service. [Correction (10.15.08): After I posted this blog entry, I was contacted by John Farwell, who is on Bend Cable's senior management team and is responsible for their video product. John kindly provided me with a comparison list showing that once you remove DirecTV's HD pay-per-view channels, their very expensive premium a la carte sports packages,  their regional sports channels not available to folk in this area anyway, and a few bogus standard-def channels upconverted to faux HD, then DirectTV's HD channel count drops below that of Bend Cable, though it still might be better than DISH's lineup. So my information about DISH having more HD content appears to be quite wrong.]

The problems began the day the DISH was up and running. Though we live less than a mile from the transmitting towers atop Awbry Butte, we had no signal from the local stations. This because of a ridge between the towers and our house (digital transmissions are line-of-sight). The little amplified "rabbit ears" antenna which they thought would work great didn't pull in a strong enough signal to get all the stations, and what it could pull in suffered from bad pixillation -- an indication of weak signal.

So the nice folk at Para-Tech came up with a second-hand high-gain directional antenna and a good little signal amplifier, and once the antenna was mounted we got all the stations we should and with good quality images. 

But--and here's the kicker--the DISH box's electronic program guide (EPG) which lists the programs available only works with the signals coming over the satellite dish, not the ones coming off the antenna which was connected to the DISH box. 

I know that a lot of people never bother to look ahead a few days in the EPG to find shows they want to record so they can play them back when they want to watch them. I'm cool with that. 

But Mrs Elliott and I don't roll that way, we likes to record our shows and watch them later. But when the local network affiliate's off-the-air (OTA) programming only displays "DIGITAL SERVICE" in the EPG, you can't select a program and tell the box to record it. 

This, in my opinion, is stupid. Digital television broadcasts are required by the FCC to transmit their programming information along with the signal. But there's no regulation that requires the receiving equipment to decode and display it. 

And DISH apparently decided they couldn't be bothered.

The tech at Para-Tech explained that very few people--he estimated fewer than 1% of DISH subscribers--are in locations where there are local network OTA broadcasts (which means that DISH or other satellite services are forbidden from providing network programming from stations outside the area) but where the local network stations are too small to have their content uploaded to the satellite for locals to view. 

In other larger areas, like Portland, you can have a DISH and watch the Portland channels on it, with full EPG information. But Bend's too small for that. Here, you gotta use an OTA antenna to see the network programs. But since the DISH box doesn't give the programming information, you can't see what shows are playing and what shows are coming up.

One workaround he suggested was to buy a TV Guide or look up listings in the Bulletin, then manually program the DISH box with start and stop times. Like programming a 1980's VCR.

And how often did that work properly? Besides, with a TV Guide on the table, I'd feel like I was in my mother's house again. 

But we tried that idea and found that when you look at the list of recorded shows on the box's EPG all you see is "DIGITAL SERVICE" listed. No telling if it was Judge Judy or 30 Rock.

So that was out. 

One final point about DISH's lack of support for OTA broadcasts: there's only one OTA tuner in the box, so if there are two network shows you want to record which are on at the same time, you're S.O.L. 

None of this had been made clear to me prior to signing up. Para-Tech told me that very few people even care, that they're happy to watch the shows when they are being broadcast. 

"Quick, honey--Perry Mason's about to start!"

No thanks -- "appointment television," is so 20th century. 

Several people suggested telling DISH Network that we had relocated to Portland: simply find a street address there where no one has a DISH subscription (and are unlikely to), and give that to DISH as our residence, tell 'm that we brought the hardware with us and hooked it up, but that our mailing address is still in Bend. They would then cheerfully turn on the Portland stations. 

But those kinds of shenanigans make me uncomfortable.

A final suggestion was to get a standard DVR and let it handle the local channels. It presumably would display the program listings, but that's extra money, more wires and remotes to juggle--and no sale.

So I told Para-Tech that I was canceling the service. Nancy wasn't happy but she understood. And she warned me that I would most likely have to pay cancellation fees to DISH to get out of the contract. 

I called DISH this morning and canceled the service. I stand by my opinion that DISH's laziness w/r/t implementing EPG support for OTA broadcasts wasn't made clear to me, and I consider it to be a deal-breaker. I'm not sure whether I will need to pay the fee to get out of the contract, but I've been told that if one writes a paper letter to DISH to dispute their decision, they have in the past reversed their decision. 

Trick was to find the address to send that letter to. The nice lady at DISH's customer service spent over a minute trying to find it. In the interest of serving others who might need that elusive address, here it is:
Echostar Satellite LLC
DISPUTE RESOLUTION
P.O. Box 9040
Littleton, CO  80120

So how's this going to play out? I have no idea--DISH can either be mensch or schmucks. 

I can say that Para-Tech has been great through all of this. They're just the local installation company for the service and have no influence over DISH's policies or decisions. 

And I can also say that last Wednesday the nice man from Bend Cable came out and set us up with a new dual-recorder high-def cable box that provides the local channels, the same programming as the DISH service, and EPG information for it all.  Picture quality seems on par with DISH's service, too. [Addition 10.15.08: As I learned, Bend Cable's HD lineup is excellent--there's nothing offered in similarly-priced packages from DISH or DirecTV that Bend Cable isn't providing. The picture quality is superb, and I've had zero technical difficulties with the service. 

But I do have two gripes about the Motorola DCH3416 DVR/set top box (stb):

1. Two or three times a night we get an occasional black screen that lasts for about 2 seconds followed by a 2-second audio dropout--a problem we also had with the Moto HD stb--a DCH3412, I believe--provided by our former cable company in Carlsbad. This never occured with the DISH stb. This problem might be an HDMI handshaking issue between the stb and our Philips monitor, or it might be endemic to the Moto boxes, I don't know.

2. Motorola seems to have cheaped out in the microprocessor department on these stbs. In Carlsbad, our DCH3416's processor very often got so busy doing housekeeping or something that it ignored remote control commands, sometimes for 10 or more seconds. This would lead to repeated pressing of the remote's buttons, and nothing would happen. Suddenly the stb would wake up and process all the commands quickly, with the repeats, leading to unexpected results and frustration. The DCH3416 that Bend Cable provided may be a later model. The delays are still there, but usually the box gets around to processing commands in just a few seconds, not the 10 or more seconds that the earlier model took. UPDATE: January 2009 -- the lag has increased to the point now where it's not uncommon to have to wait a dozen or so seconds before the box processes remote commands.]

But it's got the same crappy iGuide user interface (UI) as the cable box we had back in Carlsbad. It really sucks hard. 

[Addition 10.15.08: Bend Cable's John Farwell doesn't deny that the "iGuide" UI is pretty crummy, but that Bend Cable's hands are tied: the company Macrovision, who owns TV Guide's Information Program Guide (IPG) used in the set top boxes, calls the shots. He said that a high-def version of the IPG is forthcoming. Maybe it will let us see more than five channels at a time on the screen, through I don't hold out hope that they'll dump the low-rent ads, though. He also mentioned that Bend Cable is working closely with Diego on their new Moxi two-tuner HDTV DVR unit. Though not yet released, it looks to be an interesting alternative to the Motorola HD DVR running iGuide. The user interface takes a different approach than anything I've ever seen. Dunno if I'll like it. Judge for yourself, there's a demo on Bend Cable's website. John reports that when the Moxi is released it will have a high-def interface, too.

The bottom line for me is that Bend Cable seems to be working really hard to bring lots of high quality HD content to its users. As I mentioned, the number of HD channels is perfectly satisfactory and the picture quality is excellent. If the Moxi turns out to be as good as John says it is, then I'll cheerfully drop the Moto box and pay the $2 a month extra for that box. Thanks, John, for the additional information!]

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wiener Dogs, Polka Music, and Beer

But and alas, no bratwurst or saurkraut. At yesterday's Bend Oktoberfest,  Deschutes Brewery won the coveted "Worst Pretzels Ever" award for their mushy and tasteless offering. A request for their hottest mustard resulted in a pretzel served swimming in a pool of watery sugary yellow liquid with a vague mustard taste.  Feh.

Mrs Elliott said that Velo's little meat pie was delicious, though. And of course, while other people in more-deprived parts of the country are cheerfully swilling down yellow fizzy pisswater beer from the likes of Budweiser and Miller, Silver Moon, Wildfire, Cascade, McMenamin's and the previously-mentioned Deschutes Brewery were serving up cups of their far better brews. It's only because Deschutes is my present favorite local brewery that I am not setting a vex on them for that stunningly crappy pretzel.  

Yesterday actually started with us riding our town bikes out to Fred Meyers via the Old Mill district and Reed Market Road. Mrs Elliott has taken up guitar lessons and needed to get the nails on her left hand shortened. This is the kind of work that she prefers to leave to professionals, so while she was being attended to by the folk at Smart Nails, I killed time by wandering around Freddies (sampled some nice cheese) and fiddled with the rear derailleur on my bike. It was being fussy. 

Once her manicure was done, we cruised back to downtown where we paid our $5 admission into the Oktoberfest tent, where we ate the cursed pretzel and uncursed meat pie, where the little doggies ran their little hearts out; and when we tired of the spectacle we settled down at a table in front of Bellataza and people-watched. 

My son, Jim, joined us. We'd been waiting to see him because he had just finished his first day at his new job at Bend Lock & Safe and we looked forward to hearing how it went. Very well, it seems. He reported that the company is very well-run, that they are on first-name basis with their customers, and that his direct supervisor has impressive knowledge of locks and safes, their operation, and their history. Jim is genuinely pleased to be able to use his training as a locksmith for such a good company. 

Mrs Elliott and I are genuinely pleased that the boy finally got a job at a place which enjoys a good reputation in town, and that he is now hunting for a place of his own to rent. 

This gets him out of the house, and I gotta say that having the house to just the two of us is something we've been looking forward to for a long time. 

We finished up the day with dinner at Taj Palace Indian Cuisine on Wall St. I'm no afficionado of Indian cuisine, but I have have learned that what is considered hot or spicy in Bend is considered less than mild, almost bland, in San Diego. The host just laughed when we asked for more fire--I suspect that he thought we were insane.  But despite my insistance that the curry must have some noticeable heat, it was only mild at best. 

(We've experienced the same thing at Toomie's, where the Thai dishes that are marked as "spicy" on the menu aren't. Pacific Northwesterners have timid palates, it appears. )

Today we took out our little road bikes and rode the 24-mile Bend-Tumalo route. Mrs Elliott got pretty darn tired and all kind of cranky toward the end of the ride. She was so intent on getting to Mother's Juice Cafe for lunch that she was positively shouting at little old women and little children to get out of her way as she rode onto the Drake Park footbridge. It's a miracle none of the old birds had heart attacks or took swings at my wife with their umbrellas or canes. I suspect that at least one toddler has been scarred for life and will never approach a footbridge without taking a cautionary look over his shoulder to scan for rapidly approaching cranky women on bikes. 

We are seeing why so many Bendites say that September is their favorite month. The weather is fantastic, and the tourist density has dropped faster than a paralyzed falcon. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ingenuity

Nothing much to say here: this fellow converted a school bus to a fire wood delivery vehicle. Drove it all the way out from Michigan. 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

We'll Be Back

I've often glanced into Bistro Corlise on Wall St., having heard good things about the table they set, though we hadn't yet stepped in--until early last Friday evening, that is, when Mrs Elliott and I were lured in with a promise of a happy hour special consisting of a glass of either the red or white house wine and an appetizer for only $5.

Dinner hour hadn't started so we took a table on the sidewalk and I ordered a glass of the white and a haricovert (French green bean) salad.

My expectations were pretty low. I've never actually taken a house wine directly to the dump bucket, but I've also never had one that wasn't almost terrible.

Until now.

The wine was excellent! Our server explained that it was from Alain Brumont, one of France's most recognized wine producers. (For wine geeks, it comes from the Côte de Gascogne region in France and is a blend of Gros Manseng and Sauvignon Blanc.)

A few moments later, the salad arrived. Again, my expectations were not high--I mean, how good can a green bean salad be? Especially as part of a $5 deal that includes such a fine wine?

Amazingly good, it so happens. This was an an extremely tasty little salad! Emboldened, we ordered the cheese plate. Two little wedges of cheese and some small sliced figs arrived shortly.

The cheese had a deep, rich flavor, which revealed more of itself the longer I let the crumbs linger in my mouth. The figs were perfect: as sweet as dates, ripened to perfection, something wonderful drizzled over them. Everything paired beautifully with the wine.

I emailed Bistro Corlise's owner/chef Jason Logan the following day to get more details about what we had partaken, and he replied in part that,
[T]he salad during happy hour was a haricovert salad (French green bean) with sprout lentils (done here of course), a zucchini mousse, and a hazelnut emulsion. The cheese is a Cap e. Tout, which is a small chevre (goat milk) from Les Fermiers Basco Bernais, a co-op of farmers in the French Pyrenees Mountains. The cheeses are handmade on the farm according to a thousand-year-old-recipe. We served the cheese with golden figs marinated with a little Armagnac.
Wow. Find another happy hour appetizer that offers so much attention to detail and such quality ingredients in Bend for $5. Or maybe anywhere in Oregon, for that matter.

We were impressed. I've eaten in some fine restaurants and have had lovely French cuisine, both in France and in Tokyo (where you'll find some of the arguably best chefs in the world). Jason knows his stuff and I think that Bend is lucky to have him. I hope Bistro Corlise can survive the current economic downturn. With Jason's palate, I expect he'd be able to work his magic with locally-produced ingredients and possibly keep a working profit margin.

Next week the Highland Trio will be performing a selection of Beethoven and Dohnanyi pieces at the Tower Theater. A pre-show dinner at Bistro Corliese would be perfect. We'll be back.

(Note: Jack Elliott is not a restaurant reviewer nor has he ever played one on TV. Please forgive the amateur quality of this writeup.)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Local Resources

So far, Bend has all the resources I've needed for my business and personal needs. But a couple of days ago, when I was gathering my gear for a nighttime shot of Bend's Gasoline Alley* after dark, I discovered that the quick release post for my Slik U-212 tripod had gone missing in the move. Without this little part there's no way to mount my camera on my tripod. So I checked online and in the Yellow Pages for a photographic supply house, and found nothing other than Ritz. Ritz is fine for touristy stuff but I've never seen them carry anything like Slik parts or even good sturdy tripods. So I had to use my weenie little travel tripod, which isn't nearly as stable as my larger one, and stability is important for long exposures.

The shot came out pretty good (rough develop below), but I want to try it again with a steadier tripod as there is some motion blur, and I want to catch the moon in the sky down the alley. I reckon that'll be sometime between the next new moon and first quarter.




* Thanks to Dunc of Pegasus Books for providing the name of the alley. It doesn't show up on Mapquest or Google Maps.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Driveway Goes In


Some anonymous person at the Bend Economy Bulletin Board was of the opinion that the guy that I hired to put in the new driveway to the new outside door at our house wouldn't even show up, that instead he'd send over some $10 hour employees to take care of the job once he'd gotten the contract. Nope, it didn't work out that way at all. James Bevier of eponymously-named James Bevier Construction supervised the excavation last week, put the forms into place himself, and was out yesterday with one seasoned hand (and a visit from a giant cement mixer, putty-putty), pouring and shaping the driveway and sidewalk himself. That's James in the background of the photo, seasonend hand in foreground.

The driveway and sidewalk look great, and were brought in on time and within budget. Except that James found that he needed to rent some kind of pump that cost him $260 and he asked me to split it with him.

Sure -- why not?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Moths?


What's up with fuckin' moths around here? Our house doesn't have much in the way of window screens, and while there are parts of the country where screens are absolutely required because the bug population density is so high, the arid places I tend to live are not so buggy and I've never worried about the occasional visitor that wanders in by mistake. 

But every night for the past couple weeks there have been easily a half dozen dark gray moths batting about the ceilings. And these small black waspy-looking critters. Don't sting, near as I can tell, but they do make teeny little high-pitched squeaks if they become anxious. 

Now I like moths and other tiny multilegged critters as much as the next fellow. Maybe I even tolerate them better than most because I seldom ascribe malevolent motives to the little guys. This is just a higher small winged nonvertebrate count than I am used to. Any entomologists out there?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Concrete, Gardens, and Folkies


Mrs Elliott and I have devoted the lower story of our house to business, and the upper (kitchen, bedrooms, living room, dining room) as our home. To give delivery people and employees a way into the workareas w/o passing through the living area ("It's turf," said Paul Spencer, our IT guy, who immediately got the concept) a new door had been punched into the side of the house on the ground floor.

The next step is putting in a driveway and sidewalk down there. The driveway will let me park Mellow Yellow down there during non-camping season (Mrs Elliott and I are using MW as our daily driver, but once she gets a more convenient small car, MW will be retired from daily use and can slumber more), and the sidewalk will connect the end of the driveway with the new door.

Driveways and sidewalks are not inexpensive. We needed not only the driveway, but also a handrail to reduce the risk of injury to employees, delivery folk, and me when things get icy. I got quotes from a half-dozen concrete and asphault companies and eventually settled on James Bievier Construction. James' quote for the concrete work was a little better than everyone else, and his quote for the steel handrail was miles better than the other guys. So I gave them the job.

So far they've excavated, laid down the gravel ("three quarter minus," said the excavation guy, or chunks 3/4 inch in size down to, well, coarse sand), pounded the gravel flat, and have put the forms into place. James will make two pours: On Monday the lower portion will be poured with wetter mud so he can shape it easily, then on Tuesday the steeper portion gets poured with thicker stuff so it doesn't slide down the hill.

The front yard is not as beautiful as we'd like. In fact, it's a barren expanse of random rocks and dead grass. We're aware that Central Oregon is a desert and that your formal English garden look is wasteful of water, expensive to keep up, and not very practical. However, Mrs Elliot does long for a little green lawn and pretty flowers. I'm completely out of my depth w/r/t plants that are happy in this climate so we decided to ask around to see if we could not find someone who could help.

Pual Spencer has a nice little front yard which requires only a little mowing, and not much water at all. The secret? xeriscaping: the use of drought-tolerant plants. Paul said the man to talk to was Brad at Earth Logic Landscaping. After some discussion, it was agreed that we'd take snapshots of front yards that we like, and he'd give us addresses of places he's landscaped and maybe something could be designed that would meet my desire for an affordable, low-maintenance, water-frugal yard that will make Mrs Elliott smile when she comes home.

Went to the Sisters Folk Festival on Sunday and caught three performances: the charming Rosalie Sorrels (now in her 75th year
and still singing folk music, my son liked her most of all); the Wailin' Jennies (Heather Masse's round, deep alto voice blew me away, and what's that cool skinny Eminence bass she plays?)*; and ended with Molly's Revenge (Irish reels and jigs, occasional vocals by the lovely Miora Smiley) at Bronco Billy's .

* My hands are too small to play a full-scale bass upright bass. I just don't have the span. Monsters like Ray Brown make it look easy, I can't pull off a minor third in first position. Besides, who besides a professional can drop nearly $4,000 on a bass? But still . . .


Thursday, September 4, 2008

This, That, . . .

... and the other thing. 

Department of Miscellany, Dept. 
  1. Bend's water -- do I smell a tiny whiff of sulfur in the shower water? Where does the city get its water? Are there maybe sulfurous hot springs involved? [Addendum: In an earlier version of this post I managed to misspell "sulfur" and "sulfurous" respctively as "sulfer" and "sulferous." A tip o' the hand-knitted toque to Jake de Villiers of Crescent Beach Guitar for catching that error.]

  2. Is there a map someplace that shows where Bend's rafting shuttle bus picks up and drops off? There's a pickup/dropoff place at Drake Park & it would be nice to know the other spots. This upcoming weekend is shaping up to be right nice, and I promised Mrs Elliott that we'd do some floating.

  3. Of course, we also have to attend the Sisters Folk Festival this weekend: One of our favorite groups, the Wailin' Jennys, will be performing. 

  4. Jeepers, our Bend Garbage & Recycling fellow is nice guy! We've generated a stupendous amount of detritus and rubbish from the move here. Boxes, loads of old paint and wiring and weird shit that the previous owners left behind in the garage, even odder items found in the back yard. It's all been toted out to the front near the sidewalk, and I was planning to find someone on bend.craigslist.com to pay to come and haul it away. But this morning, when our representative from BG&R came by for his weekly round of picking up trash, he took the time to explain to us how we could arrange to have BG&R send out an open-back truck--no charge--and cart that stuff away. Sweet.

  5. Do any of the breweries in town offer a dry stout? I, for one, am a fan of dry stouts with their low ABVs. Enough with 9% alcohol by volume brews that force me to take a nap after two beers.

  6. We had a lovely evening last night. We picked up food items at the Wednesday Farmers Market at Mirror Pond (fine ciabattas and bread sticks from The Village Bakers' booth, some superb goats cheese [not chalky, but smooth and spectacularly tasty] from a vendor whose name I cannot recall, and lavender-infused lemonade) and parked ourselves on the patio in front of Bellataza to enjoy said viands. Mrs Elliott bought coffee to justify our taking up a table.  There was a group of motorcycle guys (one had a motor scooter) at the next table also enjoying theirselves. I've seen these guys before, they seem to be friends. Watched the younger folk mingle and show off and eye each other and vie for attention. Some young vagabonds with backpacks parked themselves on the patio and hung out panhandler signs and generally made no trouble for anyone. A place with a center, like Bend, is a magnet for folk whereas places with no center, like many places in SoCal, are desperately uninteresting and dreary. 

  7. Fellow came by today to look at fixing up my Ladybug (brand) trailer. That little trailer did such a fine job of carting my possessions from SoCal to Bend behind my Vanagon that I'm rewarding it by having its fiberglass body parts patched and polished. I'll also have some mods done so the top cover can be removed, making it a useful platform for hauling kayaks or other floaty things. 

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sound at the Schwab


I had speculated about whether the quality of sound at the Les Schwab Amphitheater was an attribute of the venue or due to the equipment and crew belonging to the artist. Yesterday's Mingo Fishtrap concert answered that question for me: the artist brings their own gear, the amphitheater has no sound system of its own. So it's the artist, the ears of their sound guy, and their equipment budget that determine the quality of the sound.

Mingo Fishtrap--guitar, keyboards, bass, drums, and four horn players (including the highly-important baritone sax)--plays funk. They are a a club band--an extremely good club band--with roots in James Brown and his band, the J.B.'s, Tower of Power, Motown, and Stax. Their equipment is well-suited for enclosed spaces, even big spaces. Even so, when playing outdoors, which requires a lot more power than indoors, the band had a pretty darn good sound, all things considered.

I do make it a habit to sit near the sound man because he's mixing the sound according to how it sounds where he is, so we set up a couple lawn chairs on the grass, I bought a couple beers from the Bend Brewing Co. booth, and we all had a good time.

(Bass player geek note: he had two basses onstage, a p-bass and a j-bass, both 4-string. The j-bass sure looked like a Fender but the decal on the headpiece said something like "SX." I don't know what that was. [Addendum: could he have been playing a $140 "SX" j-bass knockoff from Rondo Music? It sure seems so. The logo on the headstock looks exactly like what I made out on his bass!]. He never played his p-bass. His bass was plugged into an Ampeg SVPro preamp, followed by a dbx 160a compressor/limiter, then into a Crest power amp. A Furman power conditioner keep the line-level gear happy [I'd like to find out whether it really makes a difference to the sound]. The cab was an SWR single 18''. Judging by the lamps on the compressor, he was hitting it real hard. He was plenty loud, but as totoro commented earlier, his tone was muddy. This maybe because of the big slow woofer. J-basses are famous for their growl, which helps define pitch, and a little more growl would have been right nice. He played fingerstyle and if I could play a fifth as well as him I'd be a happy man. He's the father of the lead singer/guitarist.)

These are accomplished player who know their stuff. A joy to hear such a tight band playing one of my favorite styles of music.
 
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