Sunday, January 23, 2005

Kathmandu Nepal Musical Instrument Scene

Kathmandu, Nepal Musical Instrument Scene

CleverJoe says: "Travel light, leave your fears at home."

It's no secret that CleverJoe likes to shoulder the backpack from time to time and venture out on the big wide road to see where it might lead next. One such sojourn took him to the backstreets of Kathmandu and the shadows of the Himalayas. Okay, so Kathmandu is not quite in the shadows, but you would be able to see the mountains on a clear day after a few days of banning vehicles from Ktm, which is one of the most polluted cities in the world. The pollution is exasperated due to the city's location in the Kathmandu valley. But we digress.

The sheer amount of life that can traverse across the front of your nose when you're not looking is staggering. Wandering in the old parts of the city and Durbar square is like strolling through a chapter in a living, breathing history book - new pages being written at record speed, but with grace and purpose. If you listen closely, you can actually hear the quill scribbling quietly as you make your way down the old streets. The sound pauses as you stop for a moment to dodge a rickshaw, cough up some phlegm and move along again, the quill scribbling softly after you.

CleverJoe stopped hearing the quill after a mango lassie and rough haircut at the local barber which included a surprise Ayurvedic eyeball massage. With dark, pulsating spots in his eyes, he staggered through the twisting alleyways towards the guesthouse in Thamel, looking forward to getting to his room and relaxing with a drink and something sharp to poke out his flaming eyes.

As luck would have it, Clever took a wrong turn and quickly became lost in the maze of narrow streets that make up the old part of Kathmandu. It was late afternoon, and the sun was quickly disappearing. Realizing it would be difficult to navigate the darkening streets in a city where street lamps were a premium, Clever ducked into the nearest shop his eyes could 'spot'. Little did CleverJoe know that he had just stumbled into the very epicentre of the Nepalese music scene.

Rubbing his eyes and surveying what would become his personal spiritual retreat for the next few weeks, CleverJoe sighed, coughed, then jumped in surprise as a brown hand thrust itself at him between two djembes. "Namaste" said the voice attached to the arm, and Joe shook the hand. CleverJoe could barely take in the scope of what his clearing eyes were seeing. Looking around the inside of the small shop, Nepalese and Indian music instruments of all manner were piled from the floor to the ceiling. In all directions were sitars, harmoniums, tablas, sarangi 'violins' and of course, stacks and stacks of the popular Nepalese double-sided hand drum, the Madal.

The person attached to the arm turned out to be a Nepalese gentleman named Ram. And it was Ram, who for the next few weeks would be CleverJoe's guide along the magical musical instrument mystery tour. Ah, such a delicious time of discovery and fresh ginger tea.

There is something universal about musicians hanging out at their local music store, and Canadian musicians are no exception. It's true that Ram's music shop has a certain Asian flare to it that is tough to beat back home, but as CleverJoe likes to say about Canada in January:

    "There snow place like home".

To help guide you through all four seasons of the Canadian musician's path:

And just in case you have a hankering to hang out at Ram's music shop, or simply if you want to travel to Nepal become enlightened a là Leonard Cohen:



Monday, January 17, 2005

Fruity Loops Studio Review

Fruity Loops Studio, Music Software in Review

So returning once again to the subject of the myopic Fruity Loops Studio music software. Also known as Fl Studio (or Fruityloops FLStudio for the more discerning search engines who might be reading this - you know who you are), this is music creation software at it's best. CleverJoe has been using Fruity Loops for many moons and it's still an old favorite.

Long before the rest of the world got themselves a computer and clued into the fact that Fruity Loops is a brilliant bit of music making software, a small Fruity Loops community began to grow, eventually thriving into an army of techno geek electronica artists who knew a thing or two about computers and music.

These days of course it's perfectly acceptable to be a computer geek, and let's face it, it's a little bit embarrassing if you're not. The good news is that Fruity Loops is not too difficult to get your head around once you stick it in. Your head.

See the full Fruity Loops review here:

You can also check out the music software section at for free music software download links, reviews, music composition software and more:


Sunday, January 16, 2005

Asia Earthquake Tsunami Relief Effort


The Asia earthquake and tsunami relief effort has seen a great outpouring of compassion and donations across the world, including Canada. A few days ago saw a special three hour televised Canadian music concert called "Canada for Asia". The event was organized in part by Tom Cochrane and CBC (for all you non-Canucks, CBC is the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Canada's public television and radio broadcaster.


Saturday, January 15, 2005

Canadian Music Industry Directory

Oh, Canada. If you're stuck living up in the great white north, one of the first things you'll realize is that you're not exactly 'stuck' unless it's in the literal meaning of the word, as in 'stuck in a snow bank'. This is actually a frequent mishap of Canadian musicians and snow bank stickings are responsible for the majority of unsigned record deals successfully not made in the country every year. Global warming is also cooling off the music industry in Canada but this article is not about the country's unique snow dwellings. Sticking to the facts, depending on where you live in the country, it can be a darn cold place if you happen to be caught outside in a snowstorm wearing only a bathrobe. The lucky ones are curled up inside eating a potato on their couch and the luckier ones also have a guitar or other musical instrument to curl up with on those cold winter nights.

So how -do- musicians keep warm through those long, cold Canadian winters? The official answer according to the Canadian Government StatsCan web site, 86% of respondants answered:

Who'd have thought?


To Blog Or Die

Well it looks like the blog fest has finally caught up with CleverJoe. Clever has been hearing about blogs and the positively anarchistic mayhem that blogs have been causing for quite some time now. So, he figured it was time to join the blogging revolution. No longer could he ignore the throngs of visitors, silently urging on the intertia of a forward-blogging motion from Joe.

Yes, the time for the CleverJoe Musician's Resource blog had finally come. With keyboard quill in hand, and deep, dark pools of Canadian music and musician thoughts ready to be exploited, CleverJoe readied himself for some old fashioned hard-blogging work. There was one problem of course. As a cartoon character, Clever has a hard time typing with one hand, let alone two. So here am I, faithful CleverJoe servant so to speak, ready to help impart Joe's years of wisdom in the general fields of music and musician gear, travel, and life's spiritual oddities. As you may have already guessed, this blog is the spiritual guide to all things Clever.