The Booking the Band Scam! Be Aware!

An Attempt At An Old-school Scam

From my good friend Helen’s blog dated  April 15, 2017:

In this day of phishing; spoofing; identity theft; salami slicing, spam; trojan horses; and a Scamseemingly endless supply of Nigerians who claim that they desperately need to get their money out of their home country, there seems to be no end to the lengths that some scammers will go to bilk you out of your money. Being good at spotting a con is more important than ever, since a scam is not always as obvious as one might think.

Old-time band vs. Old-school scam

I play in a big band called the Moonliters. Besides playing sax in the band, I also look after the website, and respond to the inquiries that the band gets through its contact page.

On March 20 we received an inquiry from someone with the email address This person wanted to know if we would be available to perform at a family reunion on May 5th from 2:00 – 7:00 pm. Apparently he was also going to use this medium (his word) to propose to his girlfriend Charllotte (no, I did not misspell that name). also wanted to know where we were located.

A few things about this email niggled at my brain. The most obvious was that there was an .au in his email. I took a look, and there is an Abbotsford in Australia, so I informed him that we were in Abbotsford, Canada (about a 45 minute commute outside of Vancouver). If he was looking for a band in Australia, he couldn’t afford us, but we would be happy to talk with him further if he wanted a swing band for a Vancouver, Canada venue.

He replied that he was indeed looking for a band in Vancouver, and that he was working with an event planner. The venue he chose—which shall remain nameless—is the newest, and arguably most exclusive event venue in the city. However, it hadn’t been booked yet, and wouldn’t be until a few days prior to the event itself. Again, this niggled at my brain, since normally any event venue is of course booked months in advance.

Since the show was to be during the day, we were going to have to find many subs if we were to do the show, since a great many of the members of The Moonliters are music teachers, or have other day jobs.

Read the rest!

This reminds me of the scams I get from “travel agencies” every year inviting us to perform on a cruise and then you find out you have to pay for the cruise. And then there are the Play in DC scams where you then have to pay for travel, hotel, and food. Um yeah … no. There is so many bad things happening out there.

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Circle of Fifths Revisited

Overheard: Music has always been a bit of a mystery to me because I didn’t understand it. As a specific example, I didn’t understand why a major chord sounds nice. Why does (0,4,7) harmonize?

I’ve finally read enough to figure it out. The answer is it doesn’t on a piano so most basic music theory skips that bit and just goes to the ‘circle of fifths’ which is little more than a convenient mnemonic.


Here is the short version for the curious scientists in the room. A major chord has three frequencies in the ratio of 4:5:6. The ‘rule of thumb’ is if the lowest common multiple of each pair of these is less than 8 times the lowest number the human ear will consider the sound pleasant. So in our case, the chord is ‘consonant’ at 20=LCM(4,5), 30=LCM(5,6), and 12=LCM(4,6). Why this rule works is still a mystery to me but I’ll live.

CircleOfFifths2The reason this doesn’t work on most pianos is because they are tuned to divide the octave into 12 evenly spaced semitones. So, for example, the three notes for E-major on a piano are E(41.20Hz), G-sharp(51.91Hz), and B(61.74Hz). As it turns out, they are close enough for the human ear to forgive the differences.

There are different tuning schemes to make chords sound ‘nicer’ but these have other shortcomings. Now you know.

So there you have it. I now lump music in with chemistry as a science where the fundamental theory is too hard to be practical so you resort to a bunch of memorization instead.

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Jack Ziegler, Cartoonist at The New Yorker, Dies at 74

Jack Ziegler, whose satirical, silly and observational style enlivened more than 1,600 cartoons at The New Yorker beginning in the mid-1970s, died on Wednesday in a hospital in Kansas City, Kan. He was 74. ~ New York Times, 2 April 2017

This cartoonist was amazing, so in honor of his passing, this is one of my many favorites from him:


Read more:

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WSJ: With Washington’s Blessing, Telecom Giants Can Mine Your Web History

From the Wall Street Journal piece:

What if your telecom company tracked the websites you visit, the apps you use, the TV shows you watch, the stores you shop at and the restaurants you eat at, and then sold that information to advertisers?

In theory, it’s possible, given the stance Washington is taking on online privacy.

Lawmakers on Tuesday voted to overturn privacy rules that required telecom companies to get customers’ permission before sharing their web-browsing and app usage history with third parties. The White House said Wednesday President Donald Trump intends to sign the measure into law.

This changes everything: Congress has voted to overturn Obama-era internet privacy rules. Now the path is clear for telecom giants like Verizon and AT&T to build detailed profiles of their customers’ behavior and sell that information to marketers.

In theory, routing your traffic via a secure link to an external VPN should obfuscate your activities from your ISP. You can still be tracked using web beacons, but there are things you can do to mitigate those as well (e.g., opt out on your browser, use a reputable ad blocker).

And there are downsides to using a VPN (streaming services like Amazon Video often block them as they are used to circumvent policy). I need to think about this more, but if Trump signs this I will like start looking for a solid VPN provider.

BTW, it is totally ludicrous to suggest ISPs need to be on a “even” footing with Google and Facebook. You have an option whether or not to use Google or FB. You do not have an option to not use an ISP if you want to use the Internet. And the big incumbents are there because they were granted franchises by the government, so to suggest the government should not regulate them is irony at best.

imageAre you still reading? Then you care. Here is an initiative that hopes to sway lawmakers away from enacting laws to remove more of our privacy protection.

I think I care share a few bucks to this crowdfunding effort to make this happen. Just imagine finding out how much Ryan really loves hamsters. Who knew?

Stay frosty folks, this is going to be a long battle with these folks.

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Funding a Nonprofit Music Organization

Future public education will require involvement and collaboration among various local, civic, private and nonprofit entities, a concept I like to refer to as ‘community entrepreneurship.’ ~ Donald Bren

Running a nonprofit, such as a community band, can be a very challenging project in today’s world. For example in big cities like Seattle, finding a practice venue that doesn’t require a million dollar insurance in addition to paying for the space at an hourly rate is just part of the story. So a big part of a running a successful program is funding the program.

We have found that for concerts, rather than charging an entrance fee, we get more participation with a “suggested” ticket fee. We also run a bake sale that brings in a significant return on investment. But that isn’t enough to support the band. So there are two programs I’d like to suggest.

AmazonCharityFirst there is the Amazon Smile program where a percentage of what you purchase can go to a charity of your choice. Today, for example, they are gifting registered charities 5% of eligible purchases. Normally, it .5% of purchases.

For the community band my wife and I play in, Amazon has contributed over $200 for each of us over the 3 years we have been participating. My mom contributes too, to there is more money that goes to our favorite charity.

What is AmazonSmile?

AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support.

How do I shop at AmazonSmile?

To shop at AmazonSmile simply go to from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. You may also want to add a bookmark to to make it even easier to return and start your shopping at AmazonSmile.

Which products on AmazonSmile are eligible for charitable donations?

Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for donations. You will see eligible products marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. Recurring Subscribe-and-Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible.

Can I use my existing account on AmazonSmile?

Yes, you use the same account on and AmazonSmile. Your shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry, and other account settings are also the same.

How do I select a charitable organization to support when shopping on AmazonSmile?

On your first visit to AmazonSmile (, you need to select a charitable organization to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. We will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make at will result in a donation.

FreddieCharityAnother very successful program that I just learned about is the Fred Meyer Community Rewards program. By aligning your Fred Meyer Rewards Card with your favorite charity, you can directly help keep that program going. Fred Meyer donates money to nonprofits in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, based on customers who link their Rewards card to one nonprofit. You’ll continue to earn your personal rewards points when you link your card.

As our community band is already hooked up to Amazon Smile, I am now going to look into the Fred Meyer program. Play on.

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Best Big Band Bari Sax Sound Tip (du Jour)

“If you’re going to make a mistake, make it loud so everybody else sounds wrong” ~ Joe Venuti

BariJimI often play bari sax in big bands, including my own band. I find that I usually end up blowing my brains out, and still I am not loud enough. If you and I were in a normal sized room and I blew that loud, you’d be very annoyed and cover your ears!

I have tried a number of mouthpieces, trying to find one that has the nice rich mix of overtones and volume. But there seems to be a trade off between good sound and volume. Until I discovered this…

A number of years ago I was sitting in a big band practice on bari sax and it was the best practice session of my life. I wasn’t having to extend a huge amount of air to get a sound that carries across the sax section. People in the sax section, and these are professionals that I really respect, noted that my sound was amazing and they liked being able to hear me. Success, but what was I doing differently?

ThumbTurns out the tenor player next to me had his clarinet-mounted mic turned on the whole night and it was set between us, next to my sax. It picked up the sound and the mic was particularly good. I have subsequently used that trick, especially for example, when I am soloing on a a bass sax backed by a 60-piece concert band.

Bari sax players, you are welcome. You could spend your life looking for the perfect mouthpiece to make you loud and give up on creating that perfect bari/bass sax sound that makes it all worth while.

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The History of the Real Book

Excerpted from:

For more than 40 years, the Real Book has been the go-to resource for jazz musicians playing jazz standards and classics from the Great American Songbook. You’ll find this ubiquitous tome on music stands the world over, from club and “society” gigs to practice rooms and jam sessions. This is its story.

In 1975, a few students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, tired of the illegible and somewhat irrelevant fake books available to music students at the time, set about transcribing popular jazz tunes pertinent to the time into handwritten charts. Riffing on the title of a popular Cambridge street paper called the Real Paper and the concept of taking “fake” books to the next level, the Real Book was born.


“Black market” Real Book, circa 1984.

“The book was not conceived to finance our education,” says one of the Real Book’s anonymous co-creators, in an email published at the web site of jazz educator Barry Kernfeld. “It was first and foremost an attempt to reinvent the concept of what a fake book was, to raise the bar for all such books to come.”

From the time the Real Book creators first walked into the school’s lobby holding their copies fresh from the printer, the book became a runaway success. Word of this new compendium spread quickly in music circles, and demand grew exponentially, with the Real Book finding its way into the hands of jazz musicians all over the world.

“We knew we could have made a pile of money had we continued,” says ‘anonymous,’ “but we weren’t in the business of selling fake books—we were headed for careers as musicians—and we were definitely concerned of the legal ramifications.”

RealBook2Concerned enough, in fact, to visit a couple of copyright experts in Boston in an attempt to legitimize the book; however, in the end they found it cost-prohibitive and proceeded to “publish” the book at local copy shops.

However honorable the creators’ intentions may have been with regard to copyright law and royalty payments, their Real Book was nonetheless illegal. Not surprisingly, as demand grew, legions of bootleggers began making their own copies and selling them “black market” style on street corners near music schools or from under the counter at local music shops—a practice that would go on for nearly 30 years, as the Real Book eventually became the unofficially best-selling jazz songbook of all time.

Read more:

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