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Friday, October 09, 2009

Lightsmith Fest - It Begins

Processing, Processing, Processing
Processing, Processing, Fun
Processing, Fun, Fun
Fun, Fun, Fun
(till your daddy takes the t-bird away)

Okay, I'll be the first to say that we may still have a teensy bit of processing still ahead. Boo, but there it is. Lightsmith's left brain will address that task and provide plenty of good and powerful assistance. However, Lightsmith's right brain has another plan, and no it doesn't have anything to do with disco...wait a minute....


If you remember, I did promise another update soon with something a little different, and the graphic at the top of the page probably tipped you off that this was it. Let me tell you how the Lightsmith Fest (it never ends) came to be and what I have planned.

Two-thirds of my life ago on a fateful day in 1969 (yes, next week marks 60 years in the same stunning body) I sold the first stereo receiver I ever owned. Bought it used from a friend while in high school, and like many early experiences I didn't fully appreciate what I had going for me. I sold it to a neighbor so I could buy a newfangled, transistorized model. You see, the old amplifier had tubes and integrated circuits were the wave of the future. At that point I wasn't listening to the sound as much as to the geek in me that had to have the latest and greatest. Except it turned out it wasn't. The greatest, that is.

For 40 years I attempted to re-capture something that was missing in all of my music-listening experiences, upgrading when I could to the next grand stereo receiver. I watched music transition from vinyl records to digital CD's, and finally to the ubiquitous mp3's that use digital technology to cleave the life from the sound, leaving hollow clang where once was music.

A thousand songs in one's pocket may be some kind of achievement, but destroying the sound in the process seems no advance at all. I grieved for an unknown quality I long ago lost in the enjoyment of my music, while in the shadows of my geekness I struggled with the feeling that I had swaped the golden goose for a noisy gander. In the end the issue became clear. I needed to re-enter my 19th year and recover my music, and I needed to restore a lost part of my soul. I needed back my tubes.

So, over this past summer I did what any self-respecting geek would do: I built a glimmering new tube amplifier. This sweet thing is steeped in electronic design of decades past but employs only modern components, making everything old new again. The tubes glow softly, like living things passionate to bring audio salve to the long-suffering ear jaded by well-meaning but lifeless sound. It also kicks serious butt.

I decided that it wasn't fair to just keep the enjoyment of this life restorer to myself, so the previously mentioned right-brain plan began to rise from the Pool of Possibility. I'll lay that out for you, but first I'm sure you're craving a glimpse of this wonder machine, for which I'm happy to oblige:



Now comes the best part. This audio experience needs to be shared, and the Lightsmith Fest that never ends begins October 23rd with an evening of listening to music as it wants to be heard. The following week features a fantastic concert video, with a movie scheduled for yet the next Friday. I'm kicking off the series with MY choices, but how the Fest proceeds is yet to be revealed. I do have a couple more excellent concert videos in the pipeline, and we can also consider dancing, live performance, or any other entertainment ideas your creativity wishes to bring forth. Want to DJ an evening? Now's your chance to speak up.

I'll give you the dates in a sec, but first I need to tell you that POPCORN from our new machine is provided for all the Lightsmith Fest events, and we also have added a cooler with various cold drinks. Oh, man, I can already taste that cold root beer washing down a bagful or two of warm, fresh, perfectly salted popcorn.

I know, that was a little sly but really, didn't you just taste that?

I have also been making some tweaks to our presentation space and we now have improved lighting, a larger screen and a high-definition projector for decent video. It's like an outsized home theater experience. And just so you know, first arrivals get the cushiest seats!

Okay, here are the initial plans now posted on our calendar. Please add them to yours. All of the dates are Friday evenings at this point, though other times are certainly possible when the Fest that never ends once begins.


First: An Evening of Music Listening
The Audio Kick-Off

Friday, October 23rd at 7pm (come early to visit)
This is all about the sound, listening to the great work talented producers have created. This is about the warmth, detail and soundstage presence of tube amplification. This is about feeling the music, not just being pummeled by overwrought bass lines. For the first part of the evening I have chosen some classic rock and contemporary tracks to just become immersed in, and perhaps you will hear the songs in a way you never have before. You may gain a new appreciation for the art of audio mixing and what the artists want you to experience.
The playlist so far includes Dire Straits, The Alan Parsons Project, some of the newly remastered Beatles tracks, and others yet to be selected.

For the second part of the evening you are the program director. I invite you to bring some of your favorite CD's, noting tracks that you would like to hear. Sorry, I'm not yet set up for playing vinyl LP's, but that day will come.

The cost for Lightsmith Fest events is $10. Popcorn is included, with cold drinks, tea and other snacks available for a nominal cost.

Second: A Terrific Concert Video
The Eagles Farewell I Tour
- Live from Melbourne

Friday, October 30th at 7pm (come early to visit)
One of the best concert videos I have seen. This is over 2 and 1/2 hours of classic Eagles music (and a few new pieces) with great sound, excellent video and the kind of professionalism that comes from dedicated musicians with years of polish. This is like the comfort food of music with a terrific large-screen experience. Perfect for a group of Eagles fans, new or old.

Third: Movie Night

Friday, November 6th at 7pm (come early to visit)
Since I'm selecting the first movie, I decided on this one. I haven't seen Tap for a few years, but it remains a favorite. The story is so-so, but the film is really an opportunity to feature the fantastic dancing of the late Gregory Hines and an impressive number of old hoofers, while also showing the moves of a young Savion Glover (16 years old) in his film debut.

You will find that I'm choosing for fun and entertainment rather than deeply meaningful or "spiritual". That's the mood I'm in today. Probably tomorrow, too, now that I think about it.

As we make our way into these first events I would ask you to send me an email if you plan to attend. I have no idea whether to expect 3 people or 30 and I can better prepare the room for everyone if I have some idea. Just put FEST (date) in the subject line.

Got a peaceful, easy feeling,


Please note: Whispers of Spirit is presenting a film, social hour and discussion at Lightsmith on Friday, October 16th. The title is "2012, Science or Superstition". For details check


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