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Showing posts with label Fynnyus Resident. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Fynnyus Resident. Show all posts

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Music Venue Ownership and A Popular Singer: Scarlet and Jeffah- Fynnyus Resident Reporting

This is just a hunch, but I believe that most of what we do in Second Life is pretty haphazard. It’s a place to escape, have fun, and get away from reality for a while. It’s rare for me to make plans or set a time or date to do anything. I kind of like the serendipity of not having a plan and just going with the flow, so to speak. And so it was on a Monday morning in early June. It was then that I received a group announcement from Scarlet (scarletexiles) who owns Scarlet's Ranch & Resort. A popular singer would be performing there in the next few moments. The message said: "Canadian born-and-raised, Jeff has performed all over the RL world, and quickly became a fan favorite in SL. His attention to detail and explicit emotion in each song will bring you back show after show. Whether you like rock, pop, jazz, etc. Jeff will sing your requests. Come and experience a musical journey as this multi-award winning vocalist performs songs the way they were truly intended to be heard! Join us for an hour of great music." Being a newly minted music writer for the Second Life Enquirer, I thought I would go and see what’s up. So, off I went and teleported to the venue.
Upon arrival, the singer was just starting. I didn’t want to disturb him, so I messaged Scarlet to get some information about music venues and what it was like managing and owning a virtual place for music. Here’s how the conversation went:

Fynn: Hi Scarlet, is this your place?
Scarlet: Yes Fynn, it’s one of 3 I have here on this region primarily for music, but we do some weddings, too. I have Red Rocks and Scarlet's Aquarium here also.
Fynn: I'm curious about what it's like to run a music venue.
Scarlet: You have to love music and have deep pockets, at least for live artists. It's fun, I do it for the fun.
Fynn: If I might ask, what does it cost?
Scarlet: Well, you have to have land obviously, you don’t have to have as much as I have but you need a decent spot and then you build or buy a club. The cost of artists varies but if you’re going to have very many your looking at a nice amount of dollars going out. I have had over 35 live artists that sing at my venues. Some don’t cost, but not many work just for tips these days. The better known they are the more expensive they can be.
Fynn: Is Jeffah well-known?
Scarlet: Yes, he has been with me both at Red Rocks and here, but he is an entertainer who promotes his shows and has decent crowds come to listen. I just enjoy the music, building, and fun. I've been doing this a little over a year in SL now.
Fynn: You seem to have done a lot in a year.
Scarlet: I'm just ambitious and I don’t like people telling me I can't do something. I started out with a DJ club and a second venue with occasional live events. DJs have gotten harder to build on, but good live performances bring the people.

Scarlet was busy during the live performance managing patrons, greeting new arrivals, and such, so I didn’t get to talk with her as much I would have liked to, but it made me think I might delve into music club ownership and management at some point.
Then my partner, Misty, happened to log in so I teleported her to come and dance with me. Misty is really smart about music and has played guitar her whole life. I asked her what she thinks. She always impresses me with her understanding of music history, and he’s always honest as hell. I love that about her. We dance and listen and talk about the singer and other things. Her perspective is in this writing. She’s an inspiration and influences my thoughts as I write.

There’s lots of ways to categorize music in Second Life. Two broad types are those who accompany themselves while singing, usually with guitar or keyboard, and those who use prerecorded background instrumentals while they sing. The latter, a karaoke-style of performance, is quite popular in Second Life and it is what we hear at this performance. Jeff (Jeffah24) has a very distinctive vocal quality. It’s quite unique and he is very engaging with the fans who have shown up, and for a Monday morning there’s quite a few (of course it’s not “morning” everywhere in the world, lol). He sings works by Elton John, Aerosmith, Adele, Neil Young, Roy Orbison, and more. During the performance, Jeff actually explains what he’s doing: he has a microphone with software for background accompaniment. He can add reverb and other voice altering techniques, which he uses proficiently. And then there’s the karaoke background music, some with choral background vocals in some songs. It all makes for a fun show.
Doing my research, I find out that Jeff has been performing in Second Life quite a while. In fact, he was interviewed for the Second Life Enquirer a few years ago when he won Second Life’s Got Talent Award in 2015. His profile describes him thusly, “A six-year veteran of the SL live music scene, Canadian-born Jeff has spent his entire life devoted to music. He has performed solo all over the RL world, and tours with an internationally recognized band. His SL shows often feature Rock, Pop, Jazz, and many other genres. Experience who fans have dubbed the "Human Jukebox" as this multi-award winning vocalist takes you on a musical journey!”
Also, “Outside of SL, Jeff toured for over 4 years with the internationally recognized Fiddle Rock band FIDDLESTIX, playing keyboards, Irish whistle, sax, and vocals. He spent a further 3 years living in Lisbon Portugal, and just recently returned to Ontario Canada and has begun touring with Fiddlestix again. His vocal recordings on SoundCloud have surpassed 2.9 MILLION plays, averaging over 6000 plays per week, or 850 plays every day.” 
Very Impressive, in my opinion! I spoke with him after the show:

Fynn: Generally, why you do this? 
Jeffah: I've been a professional musician most of my life.  it's second nature to me to be an entertainer.... and SL is one of many avenues that allow me to do that and reach a wide spectrum of audience members from around the world. :)
Fynn: Where has music been and where do you think it’s going?
Jeffah: I can only speak for the past 6.5 years -- but I know that SL live music started a very long time ago as a platform for solo instrumentalists to play music for each other. It has evolved over many years to include all forms of live entertainment from instrumentalists, to vocalists, to bands and even spoken word and  stand-up comedy.  Only time will tell where the scene goes from here on forward. :)
Fynn: Tell me a little about your style.
Jeffah: I don't really have a single style.  I love and greatly appreciate all genres of music and love to perform Rock, Pop, Country, Romantic Ballads, Jazz/Swing, Broadway, Disney,...
Fynn: I am curious about the karaoke style, there seem to be those who play guitar or keyboard, and others like you who use karaoke-style. Maybe there's other ways, but those seems to be two main ways musicians accompany their vocals.
Jeffah: I'm a musician who plays almost every major instrument class.... but I perform in a band in RL several instruments, and so in SL I choose to be a vocalist.
Fynn: What's it like to be a SL musician?
Jeffah For me, it's quite a lot of work.  I don't have a manager making all of my bookings for me, seeking out new venues, keeping in touch with the venue owners, or handling all the administrative work... I do all of that myself.  On average, a one-hour show takes about 3 hours of my time.  There is promotion to be made, advertising to be posted, multiple forms of communication to my fans and followers letting them know the show details for each day, etc.  Usually the one-hour show is my time to finally relax and have some fun, provided there are no technical issues during the show!  lol... and there have been countless technical issues over the years.  I have way more to do and take care of during my show in SL than I do as a singer/musician performing in my RL band.  Not only am I the performer, I'm also the sound technician, the lighting controller, the request manager and the problem solver.... I wouldn't be able to survive a show without my amazing assistant!

It was at this point that Jeff had to return to reality for dinner. We said our goodbyes and I thanked him for his time and his insights. And hey, another success with serendipity! Give it a try, I swear it works! Until next time, I remain your Wannabe Music Critic, Fynn!

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Music in Second Life: A First Take with a Look at Maximillion Kleene and Kaleb Avedon- Fynnyus Resident Reporting

Being an academically trained media researcher, I’ve often wondered about various aspects of Second Life. The questions are numerous and never-ending. In fact, the longer I’m in Second Life the less I think I know. I ask, why do people come here? What do they get out of it? Why don’t male avatars have a penis? Why would you choose to be a furry, or why would adults want to represent themselves as a child avatar? Why is there food in Second Life? I see it everywhere. And what is the deal with music in Second Life? It’s everywhere, too, and comes in many forms. In many ways, music is a defining aspect of Second Life in the way it aurally shapes the virtual environment and sculpts emotions. Music gives our avatars something to do. Deejays create playlists, musicians play live for fans, and dance animations enliven our avatars to provide visual enjoyment. There are performers of all musical genres, clubs with live deejays who play a vast variety of musical styles, radio-like streams for our Second Life homes, and businesses, and much more.

I own a piece of virtual land and it has a music stream that I and my partner listen to. Most of you also listen to music streams. Sound streams are used by live musicians, deejays, and other denizens of Second Life.  The music stream is the bedrock for all music in Second Life. But what is a music stream and how is it used? That’s another question I have and hope to get into at some point, but I want to mostly talk about the music in Second Life: those who play it live, deejays who mix it, and all the people who dance to it. My hope is to write about a wide range of musical aspects in Second Life and to give a personal touch to what I write, but also, hopefully, provide some insights to the many and variegated aspects of virtual world music. And so, this first article is about a new music venue in Second Life and a couple live performers I happened to catch.

I arrived a little late to Maximillion Kleene's live performance on Sunday, June 8th at the grand opening of the Mad Twist. I teleported there and move out of the landing zone and wait for things to rez. Meanwhile I open my inventory and go to the Animations folder and pop open a few of my favorite dance animations and click one to get my avatar going; dancing, not quite on the beat, but close enough.

Then, because I'm writing this article, I want to be as informative as possible, so I click the About Land tab and see that this new place is a live music club with club events , art gallery and many more twists! So, the theme is music and various twists . . .  hmmm . . . will this bring me back here to see what sorts of twists there might be in the future? I'm not sure. What would a Second Life music club twist be? I rarely plan things out in Second Life, so it's unlikely . . . unlessssss . . .  I join the club group to get group announcements. Okay, I think, I’ll do that. Well, at least I tried to join the group, but the damn group joiner did not work when I right clicked on it and all I got was the landmark to the place. Oh well, whether I return here is a crap shoot, then, unless Max comes back here. I'm in his group and go see him now and then because yes, he's really good. 

Maximillion Kleene

The next thing I do is pop open my mini-map to see if anyone is too close, I'd hate to be dancing on top of anyone. That happens from time to time in Second Life. One of the quirky things about virtual life is you don’t always see another person’s avatar right away and you run right over the top of them, or stand right on them. Anyway, I note that there’s about a dozen or so people here when I arrive, and that number will increase as the hour-long performance goes on. I also look on my mini-map to see if any yellow dots are around. Friends (people on your “Friends List”) show up as yellow dots and people who are not are green). Then I open my World tab and click on "Nearby Avatars" to see who else might be here, former friends, former lovers, exes, or whomever, but I see none. All the while, Max is doing his thing, playing music, so I settle in and delete a few of the HUDs blocking the view of the venue on my screen and go on with my analysis.

Listening, Max is a really fantastic musician and it feels like he is really into what he does. He is very professional. He strums along on guitar, has smooth key changes, and the tunes are mostly up-tempo with an occasional slow tune. He sings popular tunes by Tom Petty, the Foo Fighters, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Duran Duran, and more. But Max is highly versatile, he has a repertoire of hundreds of songs and works in more than just guitar accompaniment. There is what sounds like a prerecorded music track of a Hoobastank song, and multi-tracking for harmonizing effects. He also plays electric guitar, and wow, it’s really good stuff! It's understandable why he's so popular. Digging into information about Max a little more, I look at his profile page. It says, "I stream into SL from Niagara Falls, Canada and sing Rock/Pop/Alternative solo acoustic tunes covering old classics (CCR to Johnny Cash) to fun, newer hip stuff (Jack Johnson, Foo Fighters, Green Day and Jason Mraz)." And he also quotes Jimi Hendrix, "The story of life is quicker than the wink of an eye...The story of love is hello and goodbye... ...until we meet again." 

I’ve seen and heard Max play live in Second Life many times and will see him many more times, I’m sure. His performances are always fun and never the same. 

Next was Kaleb Avedon. He performed right after Max at the same venue. His group information describes him as, "a Hispanic Singer/Songwriter in SL.  He has been writing songs and playing the guitar since he was 14 years old.  His repertoire is filled with romantic songs from his bicultural heritage and his own inspiration.  They include songs from Garth Brooks, Jewel, Elvis Presley, Hinder, Enrique Iglesias, Jesse and Joy and many more. So come, sit by the fire, listen to him sing and be transported to a place of romance." 

Kaleb Avedon

And here again you have someone who genuinely sounds like he enjoys what he does. I would say that there's happiness in Kaleb’s voice. Today he is singing songs by Tracy Chapman, The Beatles, and some other more obscure (to me anyway), but beautiful acoustic pieces. His tenor voice with hints of falsetto, is clear and has a nice vibrato. He does one of the most beautiful renditions of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah I can remember hearing, on par with Rufus Wainwright's version as sung in the movie, Shrek. His is falsetto vocals shine in this song, especially. 

Hallelujah is an interesting song with obvious religious overtones. In Hebrew it means to rejoice in praising god. But Leonard Cohen was a clever song writer who taps into the human condition and the sexuality that goes with it. Indeed, the song alludes to the rush associated with an orgasm. We see this in the lyrics:

Well there was a time when you let me know

what's really going on below

but now you never show that to me do you

But remember when I moved in you

and the holy dove was moving too

and every breath we drew was hallelujah

“Below” is a reference to the female sex organ. She has, however, grown cold and holds back her feelings. Perhaps the relationship is dying. Thus, the meaning of love and intimacy lost emerges. It’s a complex song full of multi-layered meanings and when sung well, like Kaleb does, those meanings are further distilled and given their true essence.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to see the entire hour of Kaleb, though I would have liked to. But real life called me away and we all know real life comes first. So, it’s time to fire up the grill for dinner. Salmon in a nice marinade, yummy. Hey, I wonder if I can get that in Second Life?

Until next time . . . I remain the Wannabe Music Critic, Fynn.