David Payne: Welcome to Library Matters with me David Payne. And today, we're going to be talking about music and listening to music as well. And joining me today, I am very pleased to welcome our old friend and guest, Eric Carzon, manager of the Twinbrook branch library. And Eric is the man behind one of MCPL's newest services, the Library of Things Music. So, welcome Eric.
Eric Carzon: Thank you. Good to be here.
David Payne: Good to have you back. And I see you've got a few props to entertain us with too.
Eric Carzon: Yeah.
David Payne: So, let's start by asking you how did you get into music and what instruments do you play.
Eric Carzon: Not really. Well, I just always loved music. My parents loved music a lot too, so was always playing in the house or they were singing. In fact, my grandfather was a singer as well. He sang - he was in World War II and he sang for the army, in the Washington Area. So growing up my mom would play Gordon Lightfoot, my dad would play Tony Bennett, Barbra Streisand, The Platters, a lot of doo-wop, some Janis Ian. Kind of a wide spread, a lot of different kinds of music, classical music as well. And then my grandmother, of all people, introduced me to Pink Floyd, so, you know, a little rock and roll too. In college my music buddies turned me on to the Indigo Girls, and of course there's all the great 80's-90's music, Eurythmics, U2, and whatnot. So I used to always be making up little songs and walking around the block singing them.
Then later on, I was in a church choir and the county choir later on. Eventually I was in a band in high school. No Top 100 hits yet though. I play the guitar mostly, and the ukulele. Mostly a rhythm guitar player, a little bit of lead work, and I sing and write songs as well.
David Payne: Great. What age did you start playing the guitar?
Eric Carzon: About - I think I took a class around fifth-sixth grade. Put it down for a while, eighth grade I picked it back up and just a couple of classes. I'm mostly self-taught and I learned from other musicians and books.
David Payne: Okay. So self-taught on the ukulele too?
Eric Carzon: Uh-huh, yeah, I picked that up about four or five years ago.
David Payne: Well, having said that, is there a musical instrument that you don't play but would like to if you had the chance?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah. One of the instruments in the Library of Things Music is the African djembe drum, a very popular West African drum. And I actually have one at home that I've had for decoration basically, but it's a real playing drum. And so I am motivated to learn how to play that for real. We've got some books and that we're about to have in the collection for that. And I went to a drum circle in the region recently where they sit around and they play. And it's a lot of fun, and it's very easy to get started with that instrument, so I do look forward to learning how to play that better.
David Payne: Okay. So, let's talk a bit about the Library of Things Music. For any listeners who haven't come across it before, can you tell us about your new innovation?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah, absolutely. So we lend musical instruments, that's the Library of Things Music. It started at the Twinbrook branch, so that's the only branch right now, so you have to come to the Twinbrook branch to get the instrument, and when you return it you have to return it to the Twinbrook branch, which is in Rockville. And you have it for two weeks, 14 days. We do ask that the cardholder who checks the instrument out be 14 years or older. You could check it out for your kid obviously, and we have some that are sized for children specifically for that. But we do need a responsible party to check the instrument out. Of course, your account has to be in good standing, and you should be prepared with your identification so we can verify that your address is correct and that we have the right person.
At this time, we don't renew the checkout, so it is a strict 14 days. We don't do reserves through the computer system, but if you go to the Library of Things website, which is in the MCPL musical website you can get a look at what the instruments are and little bit of a description of what they are. And you can call us. So when you call us we'll tell you what's available or you can say, "Hey, I want a ukulele, do you have any?" And we'll look and we'll see if there's one available. So if there's one available for checkout we'll hold it for you for the balance of that business day. So if you call us 10:00 we'll hold it till 8:00, if you call us at 7:54 we'll hold it till 8:00 that day if it's a 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM day, which is Monday through Thursday for us. So that's what we can do in terms of reserve. But it's been going pretty well so far, and people seem to know how to use it.
David Payne: I was just going to ask, because we're a few weeks into it now, so yeah. So business is good.
Eric Carzon: It is. It's doing great. We have a total of 29 instruments and six amplifiers. And everything has gone out a few times and come back. Everything has come back in one piece, thank you everybody for taking care of the instruments. We've got a variety of guitars, we have a couple specifically children sized, we have the classical guitars, a couple of steel string, a couple of electric guitars, a couple of electric basses, we have several ukuleles, and then we have African drums, the djembes, we have a couple of Native American and Irish drums, a dumbak, which is like a Middle Eastern one, this Indian tabla drum, which is pretty cool, it's actually like a pair, like Master Blaster, so there's like a big one and small one, and one is brass and one is wood. It's pretty cool. We have a Jamaican steel drum, and we have a slot tongue drum, which is kind of like a wooden box with little mallets, and two kalimbas, which are pianos that you play with your thumb, so they're quite nifty.
David Payne: Quite a great collection there.
Eric Carzon: Yeah.
David Payne: So where did you, going back to the very beginning, where did you get the idea to lend musical instruments?
Eric Carzon: Well, we stole the idea. No, it's been around a long time. There have been library systems all over that country that had been lending musical instruments probably since the '60s or better in small numbers. I mean there's still not a whole lot of them, I wouldn't call it thousands of systems, but let's say there's probably at least 50-plus systems throughout the United States, and that's probably a low number, there's probably more. Ukulele, for instance, very easy, so it's very popular in a lot of systems, including several in the state, besides ourselves, lend ukuleles. I will say, we have a pretty wide selection and number, as far as I can tell, from the other systems that I looked at and compared. But it's not a new idea.
We've been wanting to do, what we call, a Library of Things in Montgomery County for a long time. But as we went through the planning processes different staff made different proposals for different kinds of things to lend. Some people had kitchenware, power tools, various kinds of computer or tablet or whatever. So there were a lot of different ideas on the table, and I proposed the music one, and it so happened that mine seemed to be the most feasible to implement so far. So we went for it.
David Payne: Right. And it seems your collection so far represents the diversity of the county.
Eric Carzon: Oh, that's what we were shooting for; get a nice wide diversity of musical instruments, kind of tempered with what we could take care of.
David Payne: Right.
Eric Carzon: So there was that sort of element, but we went as wide as we could within the scope of what we felt like we could take care of and what would sort of survive repeated use from customers.
David Payne: Right. So, obviously the response, the customer response so far has been great. Do you have any stories you can share with us about customer experience, any customers who have come in to borrow musical instruments, have you noticed anybody asking about music lessons or tutorials, anything you can share with us?
Eric Carzon: Oh, yeah. Yeah, definitely. So the response has been great, and people have been pretty happy as they've turned in their surveys. I haven't gotten anybody unhappy, and everybody is pretty much top happy, very happy. We do get a lot of questions about lessons. And we ourselves, we can’t really give lessons, it wouldn't be - there's 29 different kind of instruments, so unless there were - unless the only people interested in lessons all were interested in the same instrument it would be kind of hard for us as a library system to give classes. Now that being said, we do have an online product that does have actually several different instruments in several different genres, so we'll talk about that a little later. But that is our version of a class.
The coolest thing that's happened so far is we have a music discussion group on the first Monday of each month, at 6:30 at Twinbrook. And so this Monday's music discussion group or the November 5th one, we had this little boy. He came in and he had just started guitar lessons, so he was like maybe eight lessons in. But actually - he was pretty impressive for a kid who's only had eight lessons, and he was kind of small. I mean his hands were small, so even the small guitar was a little large for him. So at this discussion group he saw the ukulele because I demoed several instruments and ukulele was one of them, and so he gave it a try. And so by the end of that hour he had actually taught himself with the help of one of our books, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. And he, for the last 10 minutes, he played it over and over again until he got like fully down.
David Payne: Just right, yeah.
Eric Carzon: So his first time picking up the ukulele, like literally in his whole life and he walked away with that song. So, we'll talk a little later about this, but that's why I like ukulele because it's really easy and it's a great instrument for children.
David Payne: Right. You mentioned the ukulele, and I recall from our pervious podcast with you that that came up as well in the conversation. The instrument itself seems to have become increasingly more popular. Why do you think that is, and how difficult is it to play?
Eric Carzon: To me it's extremely easy to play. I don’t know I might be a little ambitious, but I'd like to say that most people could probably walk away within a couple of hours able to play a simple song on the ukulele. It's kind of that easy. It's gotten kind of a resurgence in the past, I'd say, decade or so because you've got some pretty large stars that also play ukulele. I mean it wasn't their solo - sole instrument, but I think like Taylor Swift has got a couple of ukulele tunes, Coco - I might be getting her name wrong, I think it's Coco, she does, and several other stars. I think Jason Mraz might even have one. So there's been some super huge pop stars that have like really put ukulele back on the map. And then it was always there, I mean there was Tiny Tim in the 60's or whatnot. But, so there's that, I mean it's got some star power. And then it's just - it's fun and it's easy. So there's that.
And like if you're a guitar player ukulele is like super easy to learn because even some of the chord shapes are the same, the principles of the instrument are the same, you just have to learn a few different chord patterns and realize that the scale - like which key you're in sort of differs a little bit, but not by much. I mean it's much like the guitar very efficiently designed, and so you can pick it up real quick. And then the other thing is the instrument itself is pretty affordable. I mean for $40 you can get one that will play and you can learn on. Really, I kind of recommend more like the $60-ish - I wouldn't pay less than $60 to $75 for a ukulele, and for that price though you get one that's like real and will keep its tune and is pretty decent, and anything above $300 you're just paying for show. So that's a pretty decent price range for a musical instrument. And for about $100 you can get a super-duper competent ukulele that holds its tune very well and plays excellently. So that's a plus. That's kind of a small investment for a real musical instrument.
David Payne: Okay.
Eric Carzon: So that's why I like it. And there's all sorts of books and lessons, and it's real easy.
David Payne: Great. I see you've actually bought a ukulele in.
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah.
David Payne: Can you give us a few notes on …
[Playing Ukulele] [00:12:02]
Eric Carzon: Just a little noodling there.
David Payne: Well, thank you. And well as a musician yourself, do you have any advice for any budding musicians?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah, I've got lots of advice.
David Payne: We could fit a whole podcast with, I'm sure.
Eric Carzon: Yeah. But I think the first thing I would say that's most important to me is that if you're going to do music do it for yourself always first. It's a way to be in touch with what's spiritual and keeps your inner child fed and happy, I like to say. And I know music has helped me through some difficult times. So it's a personal, it's a spiritual gift. To the extent that you share it with other people, if those people are reasonable and kind then they will generally be supportive. If you're asking for it then they should give you constructive criticism. And if you've got other people that are being mean to you then they're not worth your time. But play it for yourself first and foremost. If I had never performed for anybody in my life I'd still be happy because the music is for me. So don't be obsessed with perfection, because I see that in a lot of people. You see people doing music and they stop because they're like, "Oh, I can't get this right. I can't get this perfect." It's like, well, who are you playing for. Does it have to be perfect, I mean are you having fun?
David Payne: It's all about the enjoyment, right.
Eric Carzon: Exactly.
David Payne: Yeah.
Eric Carzon: So if you're having fun then roll with it. Now that's not to say like if you really want to get good and get good enough that you could play for other people and they enjoy it, then that's great to go for as well. But that it takes time. I would say as well expose yourself to a variety of music, experience live music in variety as well, as music from tape and digital and wherever. It doesn't have to be paid concerts though. I mean there are churches; there are open mics, community events, library programs, city, county programs. There's free music everywhere, so you don't have to pay for the music, but go see it live, go see somebody do it, observe them. Because if you're serious about music and you want to get serious about performing it then you're definitely going to want to encounter other musical people and pick up and learn from them.
From a practical perspective, if you really want to get good, as the Malcolm Gladwell book says, it takes about 10,000 hours to get super good at anything.
David Payne: Right.
Eric Carzon: 10,000 hours of meaningful practice, he calls it. And it's fun, but you got to make it - make it fun. Don't make it a drag. I used to put myself to sleep by kind of sitting with my guitar and taking a couple of chords and kind of just very meditatively doing everything I could with that chord.
David Payne: Uh-huh.
Eric Carzon: You know, I'd play an A sustained chord for 20 minutes and use my pinkies and other fingers to find every variation of that chord that I possibly could, and I would do that for hours on end and days on end. When you strung it all together you can write a whole song that way. And that's what I did; a lot of my songs come from some of those exercises. The other thing I'd say is don't be afraid to deviate a little or improvise. I get a lot of these musical books and sometimes they get really contorted. You're like reading that Hal Leonard and you're like, "Oh my god, I can't make that chord. My fingers just don't bend into that shape."
David Payne: Right.
Eric Carzon: You know, improvise. Sometimes you could leave a couple of fingers off and that chord will be close enough or you could pick a couple of notes and kind of skip over, especially if it's like a real quick change. Don't feel like that is the total gospel. Sometimes search around for other versions. Sometimes a song, like the original song as done by the artist or actually as cooked up by some staffer at Hal Leonard or Alfred or one of those other music company books might look super complicated to you, but then do a little Google searching or whatever, you might encounter like a super simple, like - here, here's the three-chord version of that same song. Okay, it might not sound like Janis Joplin, or Def Leppard, or Pink Floyd did it originally, but if it's close enough and you can play it and enjoy it, hey, go for it. So don't be afraid. What's the worst that could happen? You're not going to get fined.
I would say two - and I'm a little bit of a music snob on this, don't buy a cruddy instrument if you can avoid it. We have really good music stores in the county and you don't have to buy - I'm not advocating that you buy top dollar, but if you're going to buy an instrument get something that's going to stay in tune and it produces the sound properly. For guitars, that means you want a solid top natural wood guitar, and those are very common, it's not like it's hard to find that. And in some cases you're only talking about a difference of maybe $50 or $100. I talked about the pricing for ukulele earlier. And like for guitar something between $150 and $350 will get you a good solid guitar that stays in tune and plays well. Much more than that and you're paying for something that's made of real special wood and sounds extra uber super-duper good and was made in America or something like that, I mean you're paying for that kind of thing.
But they mass produce guitars in Mexico and China pretty well. And for that price point of $150 to $350 you can get some good guitar. For a guitar, you want spruce or mahogany; you don't want laminate for the soundboard. For the neck, laminate is fine. If you get the stuff that's too cheap, like the stuff you find in Toys "R" Us, or Target, or Costco, yeah, you're essentially paying for a toy. So you're still going to pay $60 to $100 for it, and for another $50 you could've got yourself a real instrument. So I had some good instruments to start with, and those were the instruments I really learned to play on. I tried to get some junkie instruments, like I wanted an electric guitar, but I got a piece of junk. So, like for 10 years, I didn't really learn how to play electric guitar because what I had was …
David Payne: And the sound was probably horrible too.
Eric Carzon: Exactly. And it didn't produce sound and it didn't stay in tune. So if you want to learn how to play an instrument do your best to find one that actually plays, because otherwise you're going to hate it, then you're not going to play it as much or not going to play it at all. And then you wasted your money and you lost out on the opportunity to really learn how to play something well.
David Payne: Right, so shop around.
Eric Carzon: Yeah.
David Payne: Well, learning an instrument as an adult can seem particularly daunting. Do you have any tips for adults who want to try an instrument?
Eric Carzon: Yeah, definitely. Now, everything I just said about the budding musician sort of applies. Do it for yourself first. You don't have to shoot for a Grammy, unless you want a Grammy. And then if you want a Grammy don't be scared, go for it. But it's going to take you 10,000 hours. But don't let that sort of quality; search for perfection dominate your experience because that's not what it's about. I do highly recommend the ukulele because I think almost anybody can learn how to play it. It's a little less painful too. Like one of the things that dissuades people from guitar sometimes is that it does hurt your tips of your fingers a little bit. Not long, I mean, if you spend a month or so getting used to it then you won't feel any pain anymore, and it's really not that much pain. But some people are very - everybody is different, so some people are more sensitive to that pain than others.
The nice thing about ukuleles and guitars is that you don't have to know how to read music. And like with piano or saxophone or a lot of those other instruments, you are going to have to learn how to read music otherwise you're not going to be able to do anything. So with guitar and ukulele they're great amateur beginner instruments because they have all tons of books with the little chords just diagrammed right on there so you can look at the little diagram like, "Oh, that's where my fingers go." And you do it and you can play a whole song and learn it, so it's easy. I've been playing for 30 years, I still don't know how to read music, but I can play a lot of different songs. So I do highly recommend the uku and the guitar for that reason. I did take a class here and there, and that's good to do. If ArtistWorks was around when I was younger I would've been all over that.
So the online courses where you've got sort of a master player and they're showing you everything, and you got little videos, and you can watch them. And they chunk it up in these little five and seven-minute segments, so you can take it at your own pace. Those are awesome, and you should definitely try that out. I've tried it myself and I like it. And I know people who have tried it and they really enjoyed it. The other thing is to find people. One of the programs we'll talk about a little later is by a group called the Songwriters' Association of Washington. And they, if you Google them, saw.org is their website, and they have oodles of events, like pretty much two to four times a week they've got something going on somewhere in the region, all the way up as high as Baltimore, as far west as Manassas, everything on the western shore, pretty much from Washington County down to Charles County, they've got something. And a lot of Montgomery County, Washington, D.C., and Arlington, and Fairfax events especially.
But there's others groups, there's one called, I think it's like the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance or I might be butchering their name a little bit. But if you look around there are some organizations, they are either low-cost or free to join, or you can attend their events and you don't have to be a member, because a lot of them do open mics at bars and stuff. And then there's church groups, community groups, put it on a bulletin board. There's lots of different ways to connect with other people playing music, I guess, is what I'm getting at.
David Payne: Right.
Eric Carzon: And if you really want the full experience, that's the full experience. So find some other people and play with them and learn with them, start your own little group if you want. A lot of these events are - songwriters' circle in somebody's basement, so you come to their house with your guitar and some cheese and crackers, and everybody sits around and plays, and you learn from each other that way. So I definitely highly recommend that as part of the experience.
David Payne: That's great. Let's turn now to music resources. And start by asking you, what print resources does MCPL offer about music, musicians, and learning to play instruments or sing?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah, so we have a wealth of stuff. It's generally in the non-fiction section, in what I call the 780s, so that the non-fiction range from 780 to 799 contains pretty much all of the music books. And it's a variety of things, so it's going to be books about artists. So there'll be the big thick book about The Beatles or The Rolling Stones, or whatever, so there's that, so if you want to learn about musicians. Then there's sheet music, and then there's how to play different instruments or how to care for different instruments, and also books about like the music business. So we have that full spread. And I brought some with me just to give you a quick - so in my little stack here I've got, How to Rap, the Art and Science of the Hip-Hop MC; Anatomy of a Song: The Oral History of 45 Iconic Hits That Changed Rock, R&B and Pop; from the children's section I got Learn to Play Keyboards; Usborne's Guitar for Beginners.
From the adult section, we've got Jazz, Rock, and Funk Guitar; Guitar Aerobics, which is like a daily exercise regimen to strengthen your fingers and improve your skills; Drum Circle: A Guide to World Percussion, that teach you how to play that djembe drum or the bongos or the congas, The Ukulele 3 Song Chord Book, so a lot of songs, pop songs broken down into three very easy chords; Alto Sax, 101 Hit Songs; Disney Hits for Ukulele; and one of my current reads, The Daily Ukulele: 365 Songs, so you can learn one song a day on ukulele; and of course, Hamilton: Music for Piano, Vocals, and Guitar.
David Payne: All right.
Eric Carzon: So that's kind of a sampling of physical books. And there's also DVDs in that, and I wouldn't ignore our DVD collection. In a couple of different dimensions they're important. You've got DVDs in non-fiction, such as You Can Play Electric Blues: A Complete Course for Beginner; and I know there's a good bass course on DVD as well. From the juvenile section there's a thing, I think most every branch has this, called, The Music Factory, and it's like eight or 10 different DVDs with like basic music for kids. And then you've got stuff like - I've got Jimi Hendrix Live at Woodstock, so pick up a couple of the DVDs of the sort of major live concerts, Absolute Guitar for Beginners, another course. And of course, you've got movies that either are musical or are either fiction about music or like sort of classical, like Broadway - we got a lot of Broadway.
In fact, with me here I've got Rent and The Jazz Singer, the Al Jolson version, I've got Singin' in the Rain; Jersey Boys, and Pitch Perfect. So that's also a great way to experience music, so highly recommend that. And then last but not least, we do have CDs in the branches. I brought with me a copy of The Beatles, The White Album. So physical collection, we've got CDs, we've got DVDs, we've got books, and definitely worth taking advantage of.
David Payne: Some great examples there. And I should mention to our listeners that, again, the resources that we mention in today's podcast can all be found under the show notes on the MCPL podcast website.
You mentioned ArtistWorks previously. Can you tell us about that, and some of the other digital resources for music and musical schools that MCPL has?
Eric Carzon: Great. Yes, absolutely. So, everything starts from the main webpage. So go to our webpage, montgomerycountymd.gov/library. And when you're looking right at it, in the left, the sort of first menu is Books, Movies, and Music. So you go Book, Movies, and Music, and go Find, and then you go find Music. So when you get to that menu article pops up, and that's everything we got about music is kind of in that article, and it's got a couple of tabs. One, the sort of first tab has a lot of our digital assets, and then the second tab talks more about our books and our scores. So, two of the standout digital resources are Freegal and the American music Streaming Music collection.
So, we'll start with Freegal. So Freegal stands for free and legal. So, there are over four million songs in every genre that you can imagine in Freegal. And so you login for the first time, you give it your library card number and your pin number and you can download the songs from Freegal, and they come to you as DRM-free files, MP3 files, which basically means you can do anything you want with that file, you want to email it to yourself, you want to put it in your collection whether - like I'm an iTunes user, so I download it and then I put it into my iTunes library and I can make playlists with all my other iTunes songs that I bought from iTunes or that I burned from CDs that I owned. If you're a Rhapsody user you can do the same thing or a general Windows user you can do the same thing because it's an MP3 file. So whatever you have it'll manipulate. And it's got everything from pop, to classical, to world music.
Some things that are on Freegal, you've got Daft Punk, they've got Adele, Springsteen, they've got classical music, world music, jazz, probably hundreds of thousands of artists literally. They've got the really popular stuff in broad array, and then they've got stuff that you've probably never heard of that you could explore. Now, I will say this about electronic music, nobody, absolutely nobody has everything. So Freegal has the Sony catalogue, and they estimate that it's about a quarter of what you would consider popular music. And then the rest of the world is divided between Apple, Rhapsody, and other music services, so none of them have access to everything digitally. But you can download five songs a week per account. So you can get pretty deep into music with that capability.
And it has lists, so you can do previews and you can put stuff on wish lists so you can remember what you wanted to download and then each time you login you can download another, and I think it turns over every Sunday night. So Sunday, at midnight, turns over, and the next week starts fresh. And it's great. You don't - Freegal is atypical of library services in that you do not have to return these songs. You check out the song, it's yours forever. And so that's not something you'll find in almost any other library product. But that makes it very easy to put them in your collection and manipulate them. And we'll come back to Freegal in a minute, because I have some fun things about Freegal.
But I want to talk about the American Music Streaming Collection. And so this is from a - the company is called Alexander Street, and you can actually just search the whole collection or they have it broken down, like they have certain major categories. So they have like American music, classical music, world sounds, and they have a - it's a mix of music, spoken word, and sounds. So you can hear everything from recordings of the poems of Langston Hughes, or you can have like sounds from nature. I did a search for frogs, I think it's - if you want to near a North American bull toad song they've got an entry about that, or I did animal sounds and they've got one with lions in the zoo. They got a lot of spoken word, so they got like a lot of famous works that are being read either by the original person or by somebody famous who is reading somebody famous. And then of course there's the music.
It's great especially like - really, I like blues and early jazz. So a couple of searches that they have a deep amount of songs in our Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, that was the woman in that HBO recent series. So if you want to know what she's all about you could do a search and they've got tons of songs from her. Billie Holiday, the famous blues player Lead Belly. Then they've got world music, and like an example of that, I did sort of a random search and Chernobyl songs came up, so authentic sort of Russian, Ukrainian ethnic music. And then we talked about frogs. Here's a couple of interesting searches to do. Search for The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and you get lots of the different versions of The Lion Sleeps Tonight. And then if you didn't know, The Lion Sleeps Tonight actually comes from an African song in the '30s called, Mbube, m-b-u-b-e.
So search of that, and that will - that is actually the name of the genre of music from South Africa, so you'll actually come up with a bunch of South African songs in that genre that are beautiful, they sound wonderful. And then, of course, there are tons of versions of The Lion Sleeps Tonight, which was also known as Wimoweh because that's what Pete Seeger brought it over to America, and that's what he called it. And so if you search for that then you'll get like all 18 different versions of him, and then the - I think it was The Tokens that made it famous the second time around, in the mid 50's. So it's a very interesting collection. It's got a lot of deep depth that you can get in to.
And then I did this little - I call it Freegal fun, so I do these little poems made up of songs that I got from Freegal. So for instance, here's one; Bruce is not bitter baby. I was born in the USA. Baby, I was born to run. Hard times in my hometown. We have all got a hungry heart for the glory days. And then here's one for blues; I went down to the crossroads to tell my baby that she done lost her good thing now. The thrill is gone, damn right, I got the blues. So there's five blues songs in each of those - in that poem. Blues two I did was; The sky is crying, mustang sally, voodoo child, let the good times roll. And then finally, Adele's Lament, this is all from her 25 album; Don't you remember how we set fire to the rain with our love song, now we've just turning tables. So that's what you can do with Freegal, I highly recommend. It's a lot of fun.
David Payne: You've given us some great examples of some very powerful resources there. Let's talk a bit about music programming that MCPL offers?
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah. So there's two monthly series that I know of, and I did sort of a search for programming, so I think I'm correct in asserting that just these two. So there's mine, at Twinbrook I call it Make More Music Discussion Group. And we've had our two groups so far. So it's going to be the first Monday of every month at 6:30. Keep an eye out on the webpage or call us to - just in case there's a holiday or something. But so far, there have not been any holiday blockages for first Mondays, so that's one of the reasons I picked first Mondays, so first Monday, 6:30, Twinbrook. Mine is a very open format. I'll do a little demo, a little clinic if there's anybody who has an issue and they want to see if the group has any advice about it, and then some sharing if people want to share.
Now actually, the first couple of groups, we've had a lot of kids and they've not had anything to share per say, but they wanted to explore the instruments, and so we basically did that for a large portion. But I did have some sharing in the first - we had this wonderful guy, he just played classical guitar throughout the whole conversation, for like 20 minutes, and he was just awesome. And he was like, "Oh, I just learned this as a student. I don't really play well." And he's playing like this guitar god. So you never know what you're going to encounter. I mean he was wonderful. So that's mine.
And then at the Rockville Library, they have a monthly songwriters' workshop, it's the second Saturdays, at 12:30. So it runs from 12:30 to 3:00. And it's a song circle by the Songwriters' Association of Washington. So what they generally do in this program is somebody will probably speak for a little bit at the beginning, maybe play two or three songs. So they'll have sort of somebody more experienced who will start everything off and give some tips to the rest of the audience. And then, basically, they'll go in a circle and they'll take turns. So everybody who wants to participate, they'll get to play one song. And you can bring - in fact they encourage you to bring 10 or 15 copies of your song and you pass it around, and people can give you constructive criticism and advice.
People sometimes - you can come with a partial song, and sometimes people have kibbutz on heh have you tried this lyric, I thought about that lyric, or did you think about changing this word or this chord structure, or do this or do that." So, it's really great if you want to get into songwriting, and you want to get some advice from folks. It's a great experience. Then the other thing is that all the branches are - we're always doing some kind of musical program. So on any given week somebody somewhere in Montgomery County Public Libraries is sponsoring a musical event of some sort. I know the Olney Library, about once a quarter; they have kind of an open mic that's themed. Their last one I think they had was like kids; they did like a 60's one which was a lot of fun. And I think they did the 70's and maybe even the 80's.
So they're doing like decades and other specialties. But the last one they did was with kids. I haven't seen one posted yet, so that one you'll have to keep a watch out for or call, and say, "Hey, when is your next open mic?" But then I know, for instance, at Twinbrook, we're also having a jazz program on December 13th with Christiana Drapkin who is regional, she's done a lot of accent libraries in Montgomery County and other jurisdictions. So we're doing jazz for kids specialty, and then a lot of branches are doing something. So there is something, like I said, every week. And so if you search or ask your branch what's coming up they'll tell you. If you search our events calendar from our web page you would want to look - there's a checkbox on the left, and if you checked performing arts and then selected all branches and gave it a date range, it would show you all the programs coming up that involve a performance.
And like I just did a search before I came here and I got two pages worth of hits going out all the way until June 30th of 2019. So, there's definitely musical acts, and they vary everything from jazz, to folk. I don't have one booked yet, but I'm going to book a drum circle some time before the end of 2019. And I'd say it's probably evenly divided between stuff for adults and stuff for kids. So some of the musical programs are specifically designed for children, and some of them are for all ages.
David Payne: And we should also talk about a couple of significant music programs, Vinyl Record Day, and the Make Music Montgomery Contest.
Eric Carzon: Oh yes, excellent. Thank you. Yeah, so on April 27th, 2019; we are hosting the second annual Day of the Record Vinyl Record Musical Festival at the Silver Spring library. This is going to be from about 12:00 to 4:00. And one of the main events of Vinyl Record Day is going to be what we call, Make Music Montgomery. So in December, we will release instructions on MCPL website for a call for auditions. So we're looking for folks who have about three-minute acts, and they must include a live musical component. So you could play a song. Doesn't have to be original, but you got to play a song. You could have a dance act as long as somebody is doing live music while the other person is dancing, or you can dance and sing at the same time if you want.
So the advice is going to be open. We're looking for as diverse a grouping of acts as we can. But this is a musical festival so we are insisting on a live musical component. But that's going to be a lot of fun. You'll be able to submit your auditions via an electronic file, which should be pretty easy for most folks. And we will have at least one live audition. I'll have one on my February 4th Make Music Discussion Group, will be live auditions for folks who want to come and audition live. But if you don't want to audition live you can still submit the file. And the submissions will be open from approximately mid December through the end of February.
David Payne: And as far as Vinyl Record Day, building on a very successful first year, last year.
Eric Carzon: Oh yeah, it was great.
David Payne: Yeah.
Eric Carzon: And so aside from the Make Music Discussion or the Make Music event at Vinyl Record Day, the other things, we'll have a keynote speaker, which we're still negotiating with, should be a lot of fun, and a panel discussion, and then a lot of other fun events. The super fun event we will have again is making crafts with records. So we'll have a whole bunch of beat up records and record covers, and you'll be able to make a craft out of that. And that was super popular at the last event. There'll also be an auction and a sale of vinyl records. So the friends of the library will bring tons of records to buy.
David Payne: Great. So stay tuned for Vinyl Record Day. Now, do you have a favorite book about music or about a particular musician?
Eric Carzon: Yeah. I quite enjoyed the book, Legends, Icons, & Rebels by Robbie Robertson. It's in our collection. I think most often it's in the teen collection. It's got a lot of beautiful pictures, and stories, and two CDs, so it basically talks - it does like short bios of a lot of the major musicians of sort of the golden age of rock and roll, so everybody from Chuck Berry, to Bob Marley, to Carol King, Bruce Springsteen, I think is in there as well, Aretha Franklin, folks like that. Another book that I recommend is The Rap Year Book. Whether you're in to rap or not, because I'm not super into rap, but there's some rap songs I do like, and it's such a major part of our culture that I wanted to learn more about it.
And this book is great because it takes one rap song, from like 1979 up through I think the mid 90's, and talks about the song and how it came about and the artists. And it's fascinating stories about some of these songs, and it's a really great read. And that is also in our collection, and I highly recommend that one.
David Payne: Well, from books to songs. Do you have a favorite song?
Eric Carzon: I - it's a hard question because there's 50 or more songs that I love dearly and play often, not including my own songs that I've written. But if I had to go with one I'm going to go with Smile. And I didn't know this about Smile until you asked me this question, I did a little research. And Smile was originally written by Charlie Chaplin as an instrumental. And he wrote it for his last silent film, Modern Times. And around that time, his mother had passed away. So it's kind of a sad by sweet song. And later on two lyricists, named John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons, added the lyrics to it. Shortly thereafter, Nat King Cole, I think was first, and then a couple of years later, Tony Bennett both made the song with the lyrics, and that's what made the song famous. And since then it's been covered by everybody from Barbara Streisand to Michael Jackson and in between.
In fact Michael Jackson loved it so much it was his favorite song and he put it on - well he didn't; the people who made History after he died, HIStory put it on and they put on his version of Smile on to HIStory. At least according to MTV, that's where I got some of this information. Tony Bennett's version is still my favorite version, although I must say my second favorite is the TV show, Glee, did a great version of Smile with ukulele. And I like their version as well.
David Payne: Well, we typically close our podcast by asking our guests to tell us about a book they are currently reading or recently enjoyed. So what can you share with us?
Eric Carzon: Okay, I'm ready. I've been reading - I've been taking the MCPL 2018 reading challenge, and I am three books away from finishing, so I am getting there.
David Payne: Good man.
Eric Carzon: I am reading The Daily Ukulele, so picked some songs there to sort of expand my repertoire of ukulele music. I am just starting March: One, by Congressman John Lewis, and it's great. I've read March: Three, so I started kind of backwards. But it's great because it gives you a lot of information about the Civil Rights era, and told from a not Martin Luther King perspective. Because we're all taught Martin Luther King, and that's important, but it's great to see other perspectives related, I mean because he worked with Dr. King, so - but it's great to see sort of all the other players, and he really goes in to that. He like talks about a lot of the different people and a lot of the history of some of those super important seminal events in our history. So I'm looking forward to finishing March: One.
The other book I'm reading is Gather Together in My Name, which is the second autobiography by Maya Angelou. And I'd always heard about Maya Angelou and heard little snippets of her poems from the presidential inaugurations and whatnot. But I'd never taken the time to read one until I finally read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which was her first autobiography, and it was unbelievable. So I actually listened to it in audiobook from the collection, and then - so I've picked up the second, because now I - the first audiobook, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she sort of ends as an adolescent and she's like a young teenage mom, and then like ends. You're like, "What happened?" So the second book picks up and continues her story. So I'm really looking forward to that.
David Payne: Well, Eric, thank you very much for joining us today and sharing your passion for music, your knowledge in music. And congratulations on a great start with the Library of Things Music.
Eric Carzon: Thank you.
David Payne: Look forward to seeing it go from strength to strength.
Eric Carzon: Thank you. Appreciate it.
David Payne: Keep the conversation going by following us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Don't forget to subscribe to the podcast on the Apple Podcast app, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, please review and rate us on Apple Podcast, we'd love to know what you think.
Thank you for listening to our conversation today. And see you next time.