Join Tracks on iTunes

One thing that has perplexed me over time is how to join songs in iTunes so that they always play together when I’m listening in “Shuffle Mode.”   For example, most of the second half of the Beatles’ Abbey Road is a medley, but when shuffled, each song stops abruptly before the next random song is played.  This is often abrupt, as the songs include transitions that are part of each song.  It's just not good listening.

  • Queen's "We are the Champions" without "We Will Rock You?"  
  • Beatles' "Sgt Pepper" without "With a Little Help from my Friends?"
  • Steve Miller's "Jet Airliner" without "Threshold?"  
  • "Space Intro" without "Fly Like an Eagle?"  
  • Van Halen's "You Really Got Me" without "Eruption?" 
  • Pink Floyd's "Brain Damage" without "Eclipse?"  Possible, but so much better together.   

You get the point.

A reasonable user expectation is that you should be able to join the songs within iTunes.  Not finding a solution, one might, as I did, search Google terms that might include "segue," "merge" or eventually "(expletive) iTunes!!!"  The answer is out there, but search options give varied results, and some solutions are for earlier versions of the software.

Here's the key.  Currently, you can't do this after your songs are imported.  The only way to join songs is BEFORE the songs are ripped from a CD or otherwise imported. The instructions below are current as of this date and version 12.9.5.7 of iTunes.  Apple has announced that iTunes will be broken up into a separate musical player, so perhaps other options will be included.

But for now, here's an example.  Alan Parson's "Eye in the Sky" is a good song.  It becomes a great song with the opening instrumental intro"Sirius," is merged with "Eye."

From the import screen, you can see that I've selected certain songs.


Next, highlight the songs that you want to join then click the gear at the upper right.  The drop down box shows "Join CD Tracks."



 After importing, you'll see the link below showing that the two have been merged. 

Just from an awareness point, the two songs have literally been joined into one music file, and iTunes will rename the song(s) accordingly.


The Musical Box–Live at Center Stage

This was my second concert by The Musical Box, the last being a full presentation of The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway in 2012. I don’t get excited about seeing cover bands, but if you like music enough, and the original band isn’t around to play it anymore, AND no one else plays their songs, you accept the passing of time and pay tribute by seeing a tribute band.  And, of course, music played in concert, when played well, is very enjoyable regardless of who is kicking the drum or picking the strings. 



The Musical Box is a Genesis cover band – not the 1980’s Phil Collins pop schlock stuff (fine for radio I suppose) but rather the 1969-1975 Peter Gabriel era, equally embarrassing in another way – lyrics that were silly or non-sensical, but to a degree “expected” for prog rock.  In any case, the music was often fantastic, and when you ignore the words and accept Gabriel’s voice as an instrument in the mix, it works just fine.

Interestingly, Wiki notes that The Musical Box is the only tribute band that is “approved” in a sense by the original band, as evidenced by warm comments by original members, an occasional sit-in during performances and the loan of costumes and back screen videos.

Lamb Lies Down on Broadway costuming

A Gabriel era costume by an eager fan
The band started the show with two albums into the Phil Collins-as-vocalist period, when the band was still creating longer form music rather than pop songs.  This tour is called “The Genesis Extravaganza,” stretching the era of the songs to be included and less focused on a specific album.  Lead singer Denis Gagné has a credible Collins voice, but as a starting point, this was “nice to hear” music rather than what the crowd came to hear.  And it was nice to hear.  They then played several songs from a Trick of the Tail, and they were off and running for the remainder of the show.

Sound quality was only average for a Center Stage show, due to an underwhelming audio mix of the lead electric guitar.  As much of their best music involves lengthy solos by keyboards and guitar, this was a big negative in that it could barely be heard if other instruments were playing.  In that regard, the keyboards, bass and drums were amped up – fully enjoyable with the “loudness” one expects in concert.

The Musical Box encore
The band played a number of songs that were surprising choices, “Looking for Someone” (with perfect Gabriel voicing) and “Seven Stones” chief among them, both superbly played.  I would rather have heard more from their earlier work, as Lamb was overly sampled, all things considered.  Other highlights included the Ian Benhamou’s keyboard solos for “The Cinema Show” and “Firth of Fifth,” deserving fan favorites representing the best of what Genesis accomplished musically.  And musically, the band did impress, displaying a versatility beyond their lead instruments.  Overall, a very good show, and I’d see them again when I get the Genesis “itch.”

Kudos!

Setlist:



The Wind’s Tail
  • In That Quiet Earth, Robbery, Assault and Battery, Wot Gorilla? – Wind and Wuthering
  • Blood on the Rooftops – Wind and Wuthering
  • Dance on a Volcano – A Trick of the Tail
  • Entangled – A Trick of the Tail
  • Los Endos – A Trick of the Tail
Broadway Melodies (all songs from The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway)
  • Fly on a Windshield
  • Broadway Melody of 1974
  • In the Cage
  • Back in NYC
  • Hairless Heart
  • Counting Out Time
  • The Carpet Crawlers
  • Lilywhite Lilith
  • The Waiting Room
Before the Ordeal
  • A Place to Call My Own – From Genesis to Revelation
  • Time Table – Foxtrot
  • Seven Stones – Nursery Cryme
  • Can-Utility and the Coastliners – Foxtrot
  • Looking for Someone – Trespass
  • Firth of Fifth – Selling England by the Pound
  • After the Ordeal – Selling England by the Pound
  • The Cinema Show / Aisle of Plenty – Selling England by the Pound
Encore
  • The Musical Box – Nursery Cryme

Kayaking Little River

Who wouldn't want to kayak this?  It's right in the heart of suburban Atlanta, and you wouldn't know it.  And better, it's right in my backyard.




John, my neighbor, and I are one of the very few with houses with proximity to Little River.  The above shows a wide creek, perhaps.  And in a summer drought, it's a much slimmer one.  But when it rains, thanks in part to upstream development, Little River rages, exceeding it's 4'-5' banks up to another 10'.  So, development is limited because it's a flood plain, except the few of us with a significant elevation.  

But flooding isn't that frequent, and the river is just there to be enjoyed.  And go where?  Well, west to Rope Mill Park, where many launch their kayaks, canoes, paddle boards to continue west, at that point, in a much wider and deeper Little River, helpfully maintained by the government and flood controlled as it empties into Lake Allatoona. It's perfect for those who want a safe, predictable paddle.  From where we live, though it's a 6.5 mile trip through relatively undiscovered river, a distance that in good conditions should be a pleasant 2.5 hour paddle...



...if the river was clear.  It's not, so, with County permission, my neighbor and a friend canoed a portion with a chainsaw, freeing some obstructions before wedging a saw and exhausting themselves removing it.  Still, progress was made, and my neighbor's determined spirit hadn't yielded.

He and I went a week or so afterwards and finished the job, which took about 7 hours.  Understand that no one, to our knowledge, has used this river, so the natural obstacles have been in place many, many years.  And in two trips, plus another trimming run he made, it was passable for kayaks and canoes - not clear, because we didn't remove much, but just opened up holes.

Why isn't Little River at least attempted regularly?  Well, it could be, and we might not be aware.  But given the blockages, there was no indication anyone has tried, at least without porting around.  Also, the river is not particularly accessible. There are three bridges that cross over it, but there is no parking or launch facility, and the inclines to the river are steep and overgrown.  As mentioned, there's only several houses with lots that touch the river, though there are some subdivisions where people could make their way - and they do, as evidenced by occasional home made steps for swimming holes. 

Below is the only picture I have from our first trip.  John is waist deep on the right side just after we liberated an opening.  Prior to that, it was a dense blockage, further made into a "yucky" job by about 20' of upstream creek "foam," which included sticks, boards, plastic bottles, basketballs, beach balls, and other waste.   You'll note to the left that it's not just one tree - it's a bunch of them, plus whatever else found its way into the clutches, such as ladders and bamboo that someone cuts upstream.  Further, water doesn't just flow over or around a blockage; it flows underneath, so a quite workable depth of 1' - 2' of water tends to drop off to 5' deep as you approach the log.  With a chainsaw.  With ample caution, we did it.

You can click on any picture to expand it.

And then the summer drought hit, and it was almost too shallow to paddle.  My neighbor took his family successfully shortly after we completed it, and I tried with my wife a couple weeks later only to get grounded regularly.  We packed her back to the house, and I carried on, determined to enjoy the hard work put into it.   That turned into a four hour trip, with additional work as the lower water brought obstacles that we were able to pass over previously.  My neighbor had discovered the KatanaBoy saw (which I refer to as a Ginsu knife), and it had worked so well above and below water that I had bought one and brought it with me.  Good thing. 


Some of the work we completed:

Why chainsaws are a big help

Before:  A zigzag that was likely to push us against a tree if we didn't zag correctly.

After:  Clear sailing straight through.  An easy job compared to most.
Why we keep at it.  Clear stretches that promise much, including future work based on tree angles.

No before picture, but we got this.

Again:  Why we do it.

Before: A tree pretty well lodged in at and below the water line.  You can see a floating ball in the distance - we had to clear a lot of accumulated sticks, plastics, and limbs to even get to work on the tree.

After: Much better.  Not hard work, but it takes time.

Before:  The kind of stuff that environmentalists complain about.  Point conceded.

After:  A major rehab.
A word about bamboo.  At the heart of several of the blockages lie one or two bamboo poles.  I think they grow at a golf course upstream and get trimmed to prevent a scourge upon the land.  Still, bamboo is fairly incredible.  Hard and somewhat flexible, it's the perfect beaver tool to start building a dam.  They just stick and begin to catch stuff.  That said, they're also helpful for leveraging other logs or limbs that are stuck into the river as well as punching openings for accumulated debris to pass through the initial blockage.  I'd rather it not be there.

KatanaBoy and bamboo - a killer combo



You can see where we tried to cut through the log to the left with the Katanaboy saws.  This was surprisingly hard pine.  John came around with a chainsaw to top off the right side of it on his trimming trip.

You can see how shallow the river became.  KatanaBoy came to the rescue shortly after this. 
All of that was 2018.  So, with low water levels, the river laid in wait for 2019.  It was an extremely wet winter, with the river flooding far beyond its banks on four occasions - this usually happens once a year if at all.  What does that mean for our project?



That's a lot of water.  Still, in early April, a friend of friend was said to have put in a little downstream at a water treatment easement and completed the trip to the end in 2.5 hours.  Perfect!

John wanted to try a kayak instead of his canoe, so he used my wife's, and off we went a couple of weeks later. 

Beautiful isn't it?
Until suddenly it isn't.  That's a wall of tree stuff.  We're motivated, though, with our KatanaBoy saws handy.  We park the kayaks and off to work we go.

Before:  Ugh.  But it's a fun kind of Ugh.  We've been here before and can do it again.

Problem solved
It's not a perfect solution, because clearly new stuff will come down the river and get caught, but we make a mental note for a future chain saw clear out project.  This took a good bit of time, but it wasn't a big deal.  

We're on our way again.  Sunny.  Looking good!


Well, (**** censored)!!!!  And this isn't that far from the last one.  No way some dude made this trip in 2.5 hours.  Of course, the rumor didn't mention whether it was smooth sailing or porting over or around things.  You'll note the trees on the left have more than a little lean.  They're propped up by trees on the right side.  We pushed the kayaks over, noting this as another chain saw project, likely including significantly more work if the other two trees fall, as they surely will. 



We press on.  One thing has held true.  If you see floating balls in the distance, there's a blockage.  In this case... just wow.  This isn't at a curve in the river.  That's just a wall of trouble.  Frankly, it's discouraging.  This will be chain saw project #3 and a major one at that.    


We ended up cutting a tunnel on the rights.    

So, how much does it flood?  Well,  here's a good indication on the back side of the above.  See the horizontal trunk?  There you go. Imagine the force of the water against the exposed roots along the river banks, and you get an idea of why this will continue to be a work in progress.


Well, whatever. We're making progress. Right?  Oh.  What's that?  There were smaller blockages that were still too much to work with our hand saws, with added bonuses of poison ivy vines.  We're flummoxed at this point, because the number of obstacles and the time it will take exceed what we did the past year.   We also hadn't really planned for a lengthy trip, and brought only one bottle of water each.  Never again on this river.  In any case, we're frustrated.  But we're nearing the end, we think, because we've been counting bridges, and we're tired.  

Hey, what's that ahead?  Just awesome.  Another flipping problem.    


The water is flowing pretty well here, so we draw up short to explore before finding ourselves pinned against the tree, and there doesn't appear to be a good place to park closer than the below.  


At this point, we pulled out, and for the first time had to hike our kayaks and gear a few hundred yards, as there was actually another major blockage after this one.  Joyous!  In any case, we're about done, physically and spiritually.  

And then there's this.  This is from the downstream side - we pushed our kayaks over the top and took a chilly dip underneath.  "Whatever."  Again, too big for our handsaws.  The bridge, by the way, is no longer used by trains and isn't even walkable at this point.  It's just one of those scenic things that surprise you on rivers.  


We're technically in Rope Mill Park at this point, and we didn't encounter any other issues the remainder of the way, thankfully.  At this point, we're resigned that the challenges are too difficult for now.  Some of the cuts appear hazardous for the way logs etc. may shift, and it's hampered because there are very few places to do a day's work and then pull out for a helper to pick us and our gear up.  The banks generally are very steep, and wherever a road crosses, poison ivy seems to have taken firm hold.  

That said, things are not hopeless.  The blue square below marks acreage recently purchased by the City of Woodstock, and they've publicly commented on citizen input for a kayak/canoe launch from that point... which would be marvelous.


We're optimistic, because over half of the river to the west has a parallel "rough" access trail from which the City could deploy equipment to cut the logs and even pull large sections out - where the worst of our problems lie.  The first two miles from where we began certainly were not trouble free, but if the City steps in, that opens up a real possibility where we can not just "do the trip" but be fairly confident taking our families and others without a fear of taking them outside their comfort zones, and significant chores for us. 

Until then, though... it's still a pretty river to view from the deck, or to sit in with a beer.

Greta Van Fleet - The Fox Atlanta

Admittedly to save myself some time, I'll default to Atlanta's music writer, Melissa Ruggieri, for a spot on review of this show (and some good humor besides). 

Greta Van Fleet - jamming in the low light

However derivative they are of Led Zep, this band is really good at it, and their first official CD, Anthem of the Peaceful Army, demonstrates lessons well-learned and applied in a respectful way, but still suiting their own skills.  Josh Kiszka has "the voice" - or particularly, the scream, a la Robert Plant.  His brother, Jake, has developed some really great riffs that rival some of Jimmy Page's, helpfully avoiding the latter's penchant for start/stop phrasings.  Drummer Danny Wagner owns his kit, and pretty well announced the return of rock and roll with a drum solo in their opener, "Safari Song."

Greta Van Fleet - and me settling for my iPhone camera  Bah!


But I suspect the special talent is actually Sam Kiszka, whose bass cleverly drives the songs and whose keyboard playing adds a very helpful element to their sound - sure, just like John Paul Jones did for Led Zep.  Only, as the brothers are 22 years old or so, to my ears, Sam is contributing well beyond his years while Jake is learning to solo and Josh continues to role play, though with the vocal gift that deservedly puts the band on the map. 

I'm looking for more to come from this group, as they demonstrated at the Fox that they've already come a good distance since last year's show at the Shaky Knees festival.  That said, the sound quality was much better at the festival, as both Josh's vocals and the instruments never sorted themselves out aurally, a real disappointment. 

"Highway Tune" - during the scream


Set list:

Safari Song
Black Smoke Rising
Flower Power
You're the One
Age of Man
Black Flag Exposition
Watching Over
Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer)

Encore:
When the Curtain Falls
Highway Tune

Shaky Knees 2019 - Day Three



Day three.  Tired legs, and no wind couches allowed still.  The hawkers outside the gate are back to selling bottled water and tickets, and the security line finds, again, more people than I would expect for the time of day.  Shaky Knees is growing in popularity, and despite the rainy forecasts before the weekend, Day Three only has the potential for quick, scattered rains. 



First on our agenda today was The Murlocs, an off-shoot of the Australian band, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.  Here, the KGLW keyboardist plays guitar and sings lead, as well as a bit of harmonica.  He arrived dressed to impress, but the southern heat persuaded to let go of the jacket and sweat still more.  He provided a very energetic performance and wasn't shy about the expectations of leading a band.  I'd liken them to a number of 60's bands, with lessons learned from simple guitar melodies, surfy reverb, and harmonica.  "Space Cadet" for example. 

The Murlocs


The Murlocs
I almost forgot about Calpurnia.  I'm a fan of Netflix' Stranger Things, and Finn Wolfhard plays the lead role in the show.  And has a band on the side.   I'm not sure if the crowd was more excited about the music or the actor, but I'll hope it was the actor.  The band has a way to go.  So so melodies, vocals that don't quite agree between members, and a wasted talent on guitar.  Ayla Tesler-Mabe didn't get to play lead much, and when she did, you hardly noticed because it was a short solo, and she did nothing to draw attention to herself.  She can flat out play, but her abilities aren't really necessary for the music the band is putting out currently.  Still, it was a fun set, and Wolfhard is a personable frontman.

Calpurnia

Deerhunter is an Atlanta band that puts out well received albums, but their music never really caught with me.  I checked out their music before the festival, but I liked it a lot better live.  That happens sometimes, and it's one of the joys for going to festivals.  I was disappointed they didn't include "Element" from their latest release, by far my favorite song.  "Desire Lines" was one of a number of strong songs.  Good set.

Deerhunter
A friend opted for FOALS at the same time slot.  A good band, but, hey, I made a choice. 

FOALS

Maggie Rogers is an up and comer with a large crowd for an artist with only one major release.  But it certainly ?found its market.  I wasn't interested, but stopped for a very brief listen when traveling from a food truck to the Peachtree stage to wait for the closer, Tame Impala... and discovered that a our favorite food truck, The Pickle, was hidden away from the other food trucks... after three days of sticking with Chipotle's truck, which had the best $ to heft ratio.  Sigh.


Maggie Rogers
My son and I could have gotten much closer to the stage, but not real close, and that would require a lot of standing.  So, we camped on an incline and waited it out, while watching one guy in particular who could make every frisbee throw precisely, including skipping it off the ground.  And there were several ladies doing interpretive dance with their hula hoops, which may as well be a workout regimen.



Otherwise, we suspected and confirmed that the group around us lit up the weed when the show began.  They were fairly fun to watch, and humorous in that one of the big screens reminded audiences that Shaky Knees was a non-smoking event.  Don't know what the organizers were smoking, but the crowd certainly did.  If they meant no smoking, then the border crossing guards obviously weren't looking, like they were for my air couch.  Yep, still aggravated about that.  In any case, for a State that hasn't yet approved recreational marijuana, I don't know at this point they even need to bother.  



Tame Impala, I would imagine, is a great band for a high as they're described as a psychedelic rock band.  They play a good mix of snappy percussion, fuzzy bass, a generally positive vibe, and a little bit of other influences of dance and r&b.  In my world of music, I'd call them a cross between The Flaming Lips and The War on Drugs (irony not intended).


The staging minimized the band's playing, instead opting for dry ice on stage and a heavy display of lasers.  I completely missed the robot with laser eyes depicted on the back screen until I checked my photos.


Overall, this was a very good show and set an appropriate mood for ending the festival.  Not too heavy, not too light, with a good bit of variety throughout.

I'll be back.