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Sharp Notes February 26 2004

Live transmission: Local rock clubs are finally exploiting Al Gore's Internet to full advantage. The Earl launched EARL Radio in mid-December. The pop-up feature launches automatically when you surf to www.badearl.com, randomly selecting from a playlist of artists performing in the future at the East Atlanta venue. Booking agent and credit-taker Patrick Hill hopes the feature will bolster attendance at the club's shows.

"Let's say you are buying tickets to see (smog)," says Hill. "Maybe you'll hear Azure Ray or John Vanderslice or Pacific UV and come check them out as well. I just want to expose music fans to cool music at any opportunity."

In a similar, but seemingly opposing, spirit, Eddie's Attic is now simulcasting performances from its music room to your house at www.phlash.net. "We are broadcasting right now, on a regular basis, the open mics every Monday and any select shows that we get the agreement to do in advance," says Attic GM Joe Perri.

But if the shows are on the Web, why trek to Decatur? "The people that are going to come are going to come for the live event," says Perri. "The simulcast is just for the people that can't get here, 'cause the room basically holds [only] 200 [people]."

But with the terror alert now up to an "elevated" yellow, will webcasts soon replace the live experience?

Modest Mouse: The saga continues regarding former Georgia resident Brian Burton's modern concept release The Grey Album, recorded under the name Danger Mouse. The independent music community has rallied behind the producer, who spliced vocal tracks from an a capella version of Jay-Z's The Black Album with the Beatles eponymous disc, The White Album. The Grey Album has extended the battle lines between consumers and the record industry to include the rights of producers to sample snippets for original compositions in addition to the usual illegal downloading of songs that has become increasingly commonplace.

On Tues., Feb. 24, in a protest organized by music activists Downhill Battle, more than 250 sites posted The Grey Album for download and turned their pages gray for 24 hours. The act of "civil disobedience" is headquartered at www.greytuesday.org, where a list of participating sites appears. The Grey Tuesday page also has a manifesto explaining Downhill Battle's position on the album:

"Danger Mouse's album is one of the most 'respectful' and undeniably positive examples of sampling; it honors both the Beatles and Jay-Z. Yet the lawyers and bureaucrats at EMI have shown zero flexibility and not a glimmer of interest in the artistic significance of this work.

"The Grey Album is only one of the thousands of legitimate and valuable efforts that have been stifled by the record industry — not to mention the ones that were never even attempted because of the current legal climate."

Danger Mouse himself has finally responded to the mounting controversy, which began nearly three weeks ago. "I did this project because I love the Beatles and Jay-Z. I knew when I produced The Grey Album that there might be questions and issues that this project would bring up, but I really don't know the answers to many of them. It was not meant to be anything but an artistic expression, and I still hope that that is the way it's perceived."

In response to the protest mobilization, EMI — the label that owns the rights to the Beatles' music — has issued another round of cease-and-desist letters to Downhill Battle and cooperating sites. Some of the sites, like www.music2g.com, ran disclaimers asking users to agree that the download was for educational purposes only and not for distribution in an attempt to try to protect themselves from EMI's legal department.

While the pen may be mightier than the sword, both better recognize the hyperlink.

Local show of the week: This isn't as much a show as a possible glimpse into the future. Sun., Feb. 29, at the Guitar Center on the I-85 North Druid Hills access road, What The ...? will demonstrate Bose's Personalized Amplification System. The flagpole-like system allows band members to control their own sound without the use of monitors.

So, if you get one and are playing a gig, and you decide to do that move asking for more guitar in your monitor, the sound guy can flick you off and announce over the PA, "Fix it yourself, rock star."