Guys at have some pretty sweet deals going on right now. One that caught my attention is Piano Collection 2 for SampleTank soft ROM-pler. Over 680MB of sounds, from the classic grand pianos in style of Steinway, Yamaha and Kawai to cool classics like Rhodes and Wurly, the collection is diverse and, to my ears, inspiring.  
SampleTank – Piano Collection 2 by musicline

At only $11 (yes, you read that right – eleven bucks!) it’s really hard to argue about it’s value. But, don’t take my word for it: here’s a little sampler I’ve put together of just a couple of sounds, playing a casual bluesey improv.

UPDATE March 25, 2012: The deal is on again, and this time it is only $10 dollars.

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I have a dirty little secret: I enjoy reading rules & regulations of various music contests. Weird, I know. But it can be sooo much fun! The latest example: Whisky Rocks, a music competition sponsored by LCBO,  the Ontario’s government’s liquor monopoly, and one of the world’s largest buyers of alcohol products. It is a very good business, as one can imagine – it brings over one billion dollars annually in profits.

Such large, profitable, government-owned organization must be at least fair, if not generous when it comes to supporting arts, right? Well, let’s see. Grab a bottle first, you may need it.

Section on prizes reveals that there is actually only one – Grand Prize. Is it really “grand”? The price sticker (a.k.a. “ approximate retail value”) is $10,000 Cdn.

– Hey, that’s not bad! Starving musicians can always use some cash, I hear you say.

Not so fast, my friend. You won’t see a loonie from it. Not even a penny. How come, you may ask? Here’s why, as listed on the Whiskey Rocks website: “One (1) Grand Prize Pack consisting of one (1) full day in the Vespa Studio in Toronto…. Winner will be in the studio with Ian Thornley as producer & his engineer Eric Ratz.”

In addition,  you also get… nothing, really. That’s it.

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So many times, post-mortem releases of top artists’ work miss to live up to the hype. For this reason, I take every new announcement of such release with a healthy dose of skepticism. The situation was no different this time. For the past several weeks, we’ve been hearing about duet  Amy Winehouse recorded with Tony Bennet, covering classic “Body & Soul”.

I really didn’t expect much. Perhaps  just one of those very decent, middle-of-the-road duet covers, like so many that Tony has done in the past several years.

Yet, I was intrigued with his comment that Amy didn’t know how to approach it until he mentioned Dinah Washington—“The minute I said that, she got it.”

The song has been released earlier today, and was I pleasantly surprised!

Emotionally rich, soulful and delicate, the rendition brings these two music’s greats from the opposite sides of genre into a special place. Their voices merge and flow effortlessly, creating something that will last long, long time. Recommended.

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Nothing spells summertime better than the outdoors concert circuit. Live venues, large and small, crowds eager to beat the haze and have fun – how can you say “no” to that?

Talk about the perfect timing: I just got Zoom G3 (amp sim &  multi FX box) last week, so the gig this past Friday was a great opportunity to put my new toy to the test. My twenty-minutes set included covers of well known classics such as “Oye Como Va”, “After Midnight”, “I Won’t Back Down” and “Black magic Woman”.

My current setup follows “the less is more” philosophy, and Zoom G3 fits well into this. Now I’ve managed to scale down my pedal board set down to only two: TC Helicon’s Harmony-G and Zoom G3.

Harmony-G has been very good to me, and it’s Auto Mix feature (automatic adjustments between guitar and voice levels) is priceless, not to mention very believable vocal harmonization and tone shaping. The question was: will G3 live up to my expectations?

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