Comments for beyond words LA Tom Murphy | doin' time in the digital ether Mon, 02 Jul 2007 18:15:49 +0000 hourly 1 Comment on House Of Blues by Tom Murphy Mon, 02 Jul 2007 18:15:49 +0000 I was The Invisible Man on HoB Radio Hour in that I researched the topics, asked questions and recorded the interviews, but on-air, the celebrity hosts ask the questions. Even though my voice wasn’t heard, I enjoyed how the banter was real. The BBC did include my voice on a couple of projects, which pleased me immensely.

Over the years, the full breadth of the House of Blues Radio Hour shows revealed a tapestry of American roots music and stories. I’m proud to have been part of that team. Shout out to Ben Manilla’s office and Lauren, the engaging talent booker from St. Louis. Her phone calls were a delight. One time she called to set up the interview with Gene Simmons of KISS, who asked who does he have to blow to get on the HoB Radio Hour. Geez, so rock ‘n’ roll. She gave me his number and we had a session in HoB’s Green Room. I wondered if his question was meant to be the other way around. He is Gene Simmons.

Comment on House Of Blues by Tom Murphy Sat, 16 Jun 2007 02:47:20 +0000 TO: THE HOUSE OF BLUES RADIO HOUR TEAM
17 JUNE 1996

Dear Friends,
Thursday, June 13 was the 1996 New York Festival Award ceremony at Au Bar in New York City. This year there were 1,398 entries from 31 countries. The event attracted attendees from US, Germany, Japan, Australia, England and Canada.

We knew in advance that “The House of Blues Radio Hour” was the Gold Medal (first place) winner in the competition’s most difficult category: “Best Regularly Scheduled Music Program.”

Each year a panel of judges picks five “Grand Award” winners in the broad categories of Entertainment, News, Promotion, Information and Public Service. The Entertainment category is the most crowded and the most diverse.

1996’s Grand Award (Best of Show) went to the “House of Blues Radio Hour” In simple terms, this means our program has been judged THE FINEST ENTERTAINMENT RADIO PROGRAM IN THE WORLD.

This award is the culmination of three years of hard work and determination. I am extremely proud of our accomplishment. As a member of the team that works so hard to bring all the phases of this program together, allow me to express heartfelt congratulations to everyone involved.

Onward and upward with the Blues!

Comment on Sunset Blvd by Tom Murphy Sat, 16 Jun 2007 02:39:44 +0000 Paradigm Shift 1994 – 2001

A group of Aussies from Spike, a multi-media ad agency in Sydney, set up the coolest radio venture on Sunset Blvd. I was happy to land a producer gig at Spike Radio, Toyota’s Gen Y entertainment portal. Those well funded digital pioneers with attitude won awards for their innovative brand of a tricked out DJ stylin’ entertainment portal for the new millenium. That place rocked hard and the work was a breeze given the high level of talent there. My favorite job of that era. RIAA compliant too.

LOAD had a great product in their syndicated media delivery system. But their business practices needed some refinement. It was a start-up after all, but one of the largest new media companies that I worked for at that time. They raised a lot of money, allied with Hollywood’s largest content creators and kept us way too busy.

In that huge warehouse on Sunset Blvd, I learned from some great designers- the kind of punky artists that grew up with skateboards and computers. Great fun. I still use some Photoshop constructions that the brilliant Russian gave me.

LOAD embraced “synergy”, the mantra of joint ventures between branded content and web service providers. LOAD burned bright then disappeared.

Other jobs included some time on and From all the new media action along Sunset Blvd. and beyond, it seemed like the paradigm shift had truly taken place. But not quite. Broadband networks were not widespread enough. You can’t build an entertainment empire based on tens of thousands of viewers. Many of the shows were good, reaching the limited audiences by fantastic technology. In the end, sponsors and advertisers required higher numbers.

After the dot-com crash of 2001, there were a lot of empty hi-tech offices in Southern California. Cavernous raw warehouse spaces, multi-level offices and miles of Cat 5 network cables. Broadband had not spread as fast as expected. Streaming media and all that it took to deliver it would have to go to the back of the line for funding. The advertisers needed the tried and true formats. Online entertainment would have to wait. In 2006, the floodgates opened.

Comment on Godzilla vs the happy child by Tom Murphy Sat, 16 Jun 2007 02:33:08 +0000 It’s not easy careening through the entertainment landscape. There are hard lessons on that rocky road. One is that if you have something that has great value, then expect that some shady folks will try to take it away from you. Then they can claim the big success as their own. No wonder the originators of any valuable intellectual property sound alarms if they sense an intrusion into their castle. Funny thing is that most thieves don’t seem to be aware that they’re doing anything morally wrong. It’s just the way things run in Hollywood. But up to this point, I worked for the big brands and content owners. My own projects took a backseat while I earned a living, learning the ropes. Sometimes it was quite painful when important battles were lost.

After years on other people’s projects, my own inventions stayed in gestation, but growing. I was feeling tired in 1996 from the roller coaster so I took a break. Breathe in, breathe out. Robust energy is called for to get your own stuff out there. Let’s see, how do I get that back? Return to The Lab. Throw some chemicals together. Answer the callings from the cave. It’s shaman time.

In 1996, I returned to an earlier calling for a few months… a special kind of theater and a creative blowout that I needed. CRISUS was an art performance group I worked with in New Orleans. My creations are original soundtracks for live stunt action performance. No dialogue or at least very little that made any linear sense. Every show was live mixed, each designed like nothing I’ve heard before. A multi-track mix of instruments, electronic beats, live percussion, digital mutations and ambient tracks.

Check my last show at: SAPA by CRISUS

I hope to return to the theater work like CRISUS and live performance. Creatively it’s hugely satisfying but the limited budgets and out of pocket expenses can devastate friendships. Which is what happened in Dublin in 1996. But the experience was 90% lovely and 10% pure bat dung. Maybe that’s not a bad percentage. There were some magic moments on that trip. Totally sober too, a state of mind that I appreciate when walking a high wire without a net. But, a loss of friends price is too high for me these days. I miss the old gang, but then my priorities are in order.

But if I were to attempt the reunion thing. Not that I’m saying that… but if I were to dream… we would dazzle the Money People with a performance treatment and prospectus. Mount a touring stage show, have fun, build healthy relationships with fine artists and technical wizards. Maybe get the old group together. Still crazy indeed.

Comment on Social Networks & Online Community by Tom Murphy Sat, 16 Jun 2007 02:31:46 +0000 In the mid-90s, the foundation of online communities was being set. I worked for a while as a public relations writer/journalist for Durand Corporation in Santa Barbara. Durand’s Mindwire Client/Server Network was a front runner in online applications built on community models. I created media for their Venture Capital presentations and CD video and audio for their programs. It was inspiring to be part of a team of technology innovators. Now, so many take the Internet for granted and benefit from a VC fueled push to make the technology transparent so everyone can take part. In the early days the social theories were translated into technology by some brilliant folks.

Being a technology evangelist meant monthly meetings with a group of fantastic people – technology pioneers, corporate leaders and social journalists.
Max Gail hosted LAP (Local Access Place) meetings in Malibu. LAP was a technology think tank focused on social networking. Casey Hughes, one of the coolest guys ever, surfer, technology guru with CFO brilliance was a powerhouse at Durand Corporation. Through Casey I met Howard Rheingold, an influential writer and creator of Electric Minds, a leading online community at that time. The future Howard wrote about is now in full bloom. Clifford Figallo had a special insight into communities which were based on deep understanding of social networks. The foundation he spoke about were communes, which some folks misinterpret as a hippie idealistic lifestyle that evolved in the 60’s. Not exactly. These guys are living examples that social consciousness works.

Comment on Sunset Blvd by Tom Murphy Sat, 16 Jun 2007 01:58:44 +0000 HANGING AROUND AT THE MOUSE HOUSE
One memorable job was a radio session I conducted with Michael Eisner at the peak of his Disney powers. Actually it was a scripted series of proclamations which would be broadcast to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Disney World. But in a question and answer form so it could be edited.
Anyway, I did some sleuthing on the web, found a particularly wise comment, made by Walt Disney himself, to the effect that Disney World would never be completed as long as man has imagination. I didn’t hear anything as potent as that comment in Mr. Eisner’s words, so after the initial recording, I handed him my notes with a “What do you think of this?” and told him where I found Mr. Disney’s words.
He asked if we can do it again. He built his revised statement around Mr. Disney’s comment. Sounded great to me and I shipped the tape to the producers.
Ben Manilla excitedly called a couple of days later. What did you do? he exclaimed. Eisner wanted the transcription of the recording we made. It was distributed throughout the Disney company as part of a mission statement.
A few days after that I received a request from Mike Ovitz’ office at Disney. He had a mission statement too. When we first met, he looked at my Sony DAT Walkman and desktop microphone and said, “It’s so small.”
“It’s digital.” I replied.

Comment on Sunset Blvd by Tom Murphy Sat, 16 Jun 2007 01:54:36 +0000 HOUSE OF BLUES
In Time for The Big Show on Sunset Blvd

I arrived in L.A. in 1994, fresh from radio & TV work with HoB Productions in New Orleans at HoB’s Decatur St. club and at the New Orleans Jazz Festival. I was introduced to HoB’s in-house multimedia system in New Orleans by a tech savvy musician like myself. I knew that I was going to run that system, if not in New Orleans, then somewhere bigger. Timing my move to coincide with the building of House of Blues nightclub on Sunset Blvd, I landed the job of Multimedia Director.

HoB on Sunset is a juke joint assemblage of tin, technology and outsider art, loudly resonating with centuries of music and Southern culture. The bands were the top of the world talent. The media swarmed the multi-event facility. Celebrities packed the joint for the nightly shows and the healing Gospel Sundays.

It was a world that I’ll never forget. Four months straight, every day, sometimes sleeping in the Foundation Room with Buddha or Ganesha watching over me. I experienced a perpetual red glare in front of my eyes, burned in from the brightly lit Burning Heart sculpture gracing HoB’s stage. Yoga sessions in the Green Room or the HoB’s Foundation Room calmed the soul a bit, especially prior to those weekly management meetings.

I programmed 16 hours of music playlists daily. Handpicked the tunes, filled the house with a rising excitement leading up to the nightly shows. Editing musician biographies, researching music history. Working closely with blues scholars- funky dudes, those guys. As the Los Angeles interviewer on HoB’s Radio Show, I recorded the truth behind the music from the originators like Brownie McGhee, Bo Diddley, Taj Mahal, KoKo Taylor and scores of others.

Other syndicated radio projects came through. My favorite was titled, “I Want To Take You Higher, the Psychedelic Era” for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. My bookshelf already held many treasured volumes of rock history. Lot of vinyl.

Twice weekly sunny day drives across Los Angeles to record talk sessions, sometimes impromptu music, with many of my musical heroes to record personal stories about when our hair was long and rock was young… an explosion in a thousand directions during a landmark time of social upheaval.

The interview work brought me back to New Orleans for the New Orleans Jazz Fest documentary for NHK. The day we were scheduled to begin, I met the Japanese NHK team, fortunately with a translator. I kept the Japanese script as a memento of a wonderful journey into all things Jazz Fest style.

One day in the sound booth at House of Blues in 1994, I asked Isaac Tigrett if he was ready to take his big venture to the Internet. His eyes widened, and the next thing I know House of Blues New Media was born, ensconced in corporate offices across the street with two PC computers and a tight budget. I had done my homework and was prepared. Surrounded by red tapestry walls, shrines, incense and music, HoB New Media was launched.

We created the Hob’s first website. It seemed that every month, there was a new department; retail, guitar shop, clothing, music label, broadcast productions, TV, radio, the nightclubs, and everyone needed graphics and a webpage. We were the digital source. Late nights helping VP’s put their presentations together. A Christmas advertising request landed on my desk an hour before it was due. Typical for those days and we blasted out the media.

In order to understand what this meant in 1994, you have to grasp the idea of a company on an accelerated growth curve without a computer network. Some of the corporate folks had just gotten email accounts. We were on Windows 3.1. Code was crafted with a text editor. Oh boy, browsers could even center an image. Transparent backgrounds in gifs had to be coded in at DOS level. We boasted the first scanner in a company of a couple of hundred employees. We were popular.

After launching HoB’s first website, I transitioned to the CBS syndicated HoB Radio Hour, produced by Ben Manilla Productions. I worked as freelance interviewer on many shows. The shows were well conceived and scripted but there was plenty of room for improvisation to follow interesting tangents of discussions.

It was a sweet four years of radio work, celebrating the music and the artists. First blues, then rock and beyond. That work enriched my life in ways that money and material stuff can’t. My belief is that we share our souls every time we sit down and talk about what life means to us. Music is Life for musicians.