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Dr. Miczak's Best Picks -
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
Ice Theatre of New York's 2008-2009 Season

The Ice Theatre of New York celebrated Nancy Kerrigan in style this year at their 2008 Gala event!  The troop's October 27, 2008 performance at the Sky Rink, Chelsea Piers was not to be topped.  Offering a show stopping solo skating number by Olympic Medalist Surya Bonaly and a grand finale with Nancy Kerrigan doing one of her signature jumps, this was the ITNY at its best!  Wonderful, creative performances from the Ice Theatre Troop which encompassed many genres of music and dance styles.  Their lively rendition of "Footloose" had the audience going with flashes of colorful 50's style costumes. 

Nancy Kerrigan after her performance with the Ice Theatre of New York's October 27th, 2008 show.  On the right of Nancy are Olympic Medalist Surya Bonaly and Paul Wiley who brought the bouquet. 



Nancy poses with some very excited skaters!













 Alyssa Stith & M.C. Paul Wylie










Gucci Bags on display for silent auction.  Designer skating dresses by Vera Wang were also shown. Auction proceeds help benefit the work of the ITNY. 

Upcoming ITNY Events

October 27, 2008 - Opening of The Pond at Bryant Park - 11 am

October - April 2009 - Annual Ice Concert Series at The Pond at Bryant Park and at The Rink at Rockefeller Center (more dates will be added as they become available)

October 29, 2008 - Ice Concert at Bryant Park - 1pm
November - April 2009 -
New Works and Young Artists Series at Riverbank State Park in Manhattan and at the World Ice Arena in Queens (schools must make reservations to participate)
December 6, 2008 - Tree Lighting at Riverbank State Park - 4pm
January 29-31, 2009 -
Performances in Courchevel, Grenoble and Lyon, France
May, 2009 -
Home Show, Sky Rink, Chelsea Piers, New York City

During the upcoming 2008-2009 season, ITNY plans to expand its premier outreach program, the New Works and Young Artist Series to Brooklyn and Queens in addition to the original series at Riverbank State Park in Manhattan.  This program is dedicated to presenting new works and providing free skating clinics for public school students from Harlem and Washington Heights. If you would like to learn more about the wonderful programs the ITNY is providing or would like to donate to their work, visit them online at:

Dr. M. at the Cocktail Reception held at The Lighthouse Resturant, Pier 61.  Irresistable Wrap by ExOfficio.  Wool Travel Suit by The Limited.


Posted by Author at 3:58 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 30 October 2008 9:01 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 8 October 2008
Ice Theatre of New York's 2008 Gala Event
Now Playing: Toasting Nancy Kerrigan with Paul Wylie


Featuring Special Guest Olympian Skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Paul Wylie

The Ice Theatre of New York, the nation’s premier ice dancing ensemble, propels its new season with its inaugural performance and benefit gala.  The festivities include a program including: Appalachian Waltz, a first ever collaboration by modern dance choreographer JoAnna Mendl Shaw and ice choreographer, Douglas Webster; Low Duet by innovative, contemporary choreographer Susan Marshall; and a restaging of an excerpt from Footloose on Ice originally starring Nancy Kerrigan and now featuring Ice Theatre ensemble (program subject to change).   The performance will take place at Chelsea Pier’s Sky Rink.  Followed by cocktails and dinner, the evening honors two-time Olympic medalist Nancy Kerrigan and emceeing the night’s festivities will be her fellow Olympian Paul Wylie.  The benefit will also recognize Ice Theatre’s board member, Joan Erdheim, for her contributions as a tireless volunteer for both Ice Theatre and Manhattan’s arts world.  Ticket sales support Ice Theatre’s New Works and Young Artists, an outreach program for public school children in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, as well as Ice Theatre’s 2008-2009 performance season.  

WHEN:  Monday, October 27th from 7:00pm – 11:00pm.                                             Performance begins at 7:00pm; Gala begins at 8:00pm.

WHERE: Pier 61 at Chelsea Piers, 23rd Street & the Hudson River.  Performance at Sky Rink; Gala at The Lighthouse (both at Pier 61).  Train C/E to Eighth Avenue

HOW:    Performance Tickets $25/Seniors & Students $15. Gala Tickets $350 - $1000.  Open to kids of all ages.  To purchase tickets, call Ice Theatre 212.929.5811.                    To learn more, visit

 Editor's Postscript:  As an Editor of Suite 101's Figure Skating Guide, I have personally attended many of the Ice Theatre's stellar performances over the past few years.  You are in for a treat!  This is a do-not-miss event and a tribute to theatrical artistic expression on ice!  I have my tickets reserved for this wonderful evening of dream-time skating and celebration of the career of Olympic Medalist, Nancy Kerrigan.

Dr. Marie J. Miczak, Author-Editor

Posted by Author at 3:32 PM EDT
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Sunday, 15 June 2008
Original Beach Boy Al Jardine in Concert!
Now Playing: B-Boy and His Surf City All Stars

These Beach Boys Still Rule the Surf...

We caught this wave for sure!  Original member of the Beach Boys, Al Jardine and The Surf City All Stars are on tour now doing all the old Beach Boys hits:  California Girl, Do it Again, Surfin' USA, Little Deuce Coupe, 409, I Get Around, Don't Worry Baby, Help Me Rhonda, Kokomo and so many more!  In the 60's, The Beach Boys and groups like The Ventures played music that was just as much about a lifestyle as it was a musical form.  The guitar riffs, slides and drum solos are actually simulating the sounds of being in a wave's pipeline, a surfer's dream.  They also incorporated traditional Hawaiian guitar and drumming patterns into a completely new sound. 

The surfboarder lifestyle idealized athleticism, outdoor living and beachside fun.  People would get together with a guitar by a beach firepit and make their own music and entertainment.  No iPods then remember!  This kind of music is made for dancing and having a good time which you will do once you listen to it.

Al Jardine and the Surf City All Stars "surfed up", tight, original Beach Boy harmonies, leaving nothing to the imagination.  A truly special treat was to see Matt Jardine performing right up there with "Dad" on Father's Day Weekend.  This is the real deal!  Catch them on tour this summer and have a rockin' beach party.  Their next appearance will be in San Juan Capistrano, CA on July 5, 2008.  You can contact Al Jardine about his new CD project, "A Postcard from California" by emailing him at:



Beach Boys Concert copyright dr m
PHOTO:  Al Jardin,(2nd from right) & The Surf City All Stars
in concert at Manalapan Under the Stars,
Father's Day Weekend
For More Concerts & Photos, visit The New Eclectic Sound Experience at:

Posted by Author at 3:07 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 16 June 2008 11:51 AM EDT
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Friday, 14 March 2008
Entertaining Moments of Spring
Now Playing: Lights....Music....Action!

PRESS RELEASE:  This just in....New Musician's Website Launched!  Get into "The New Eclectic Sound Experience" at:


Entertaining Moments of Spring

Spring is a wonderful time to celebrate with family and friends. You can begin making plans for entertaining by taking an “al fresco” approach to your next soiree. Set the mood with live music and lights to transform your affair to the sunny sidewalks of a French bistro. Serving your guests “café” style means using smaller round or square tables with fewer guests seated at each. This allows for a more intimate dining atmosphere.

Photo This Havaleena Light Bouquet graces your table indoors or out!



One of the hottest design ideas for home entertaining comes from the makers of the Havaleena Light. These fireless torches cast a soft, elegant glow on your table setting as shown in the above photo. You can even add messages to the light filters or change to colors of the lenses to compliment your décor for the evening. Set on top of a piano, they provide more than enough light for the keyboard. Best yet, unlike candles, they are smokeless, odorless, dripless and safe to touch in addition to being exquisitely beautiful. They will not interfere with the delicious scents of your cuisine and the torches last up to 20 hours on only three AA batteries. The Havaleena Light goes everywhere too. Use them for an impromptu picnic on the beach or at the park.  Need a gift idea? They make wonderful hostess gifts, housewarming and Mother's Day presents!

Havaleena Lights are exceptionally well made and will be a welcome addition to any décor. Since there is little or no heat involved, these lights can be arranged with fresh or dried flowers for a stunning, artistic centerpiece.

Havaleena is offering our readers a special discount purchase of these gorgeous lights by clicking on the following link. We highly recommend them for your next party or as a welcome gift! Click here for your special discount price on these decorator lights which offer so many uses:

Special Havaleena Light Offer for our Readers!

(NOTE: Clicking the above link will not allow you to return to this page!)





Photo CF Martin D-16GT Solid Body Guitar



One of the things you are trying to create is an atmosphere quite removed from the actual local setting. For example, you could set out a guitar on a stand or even hire a musician to play as a wandering minstrel at your next event. If you are so gifted, you could sit and play a few songs for your guests acoustically. Perhaps the best guitar for both looks and playability is a C.F. Martin guitar. These are highly prized and collected by music lovers the world over. In fact, they invented the Dreadnought design that is perhaps the most recognizable style of guitar. Place a D-16GT in the entertaining area in sight of your guests and watch the conversations (and hands), fly. It will add a romantic touch to the event and may even bring out the artistic side of your guests as well as yourself. Many people use guitars to decorate their homes without knowing how to play a single note!  However the Martin D-16 backs up its good looks with an amazing sound that will impress anyone who appreciates the guitar.  Still, there are some beautiful instruments besides the guitar that are very easy to play and can be quickly learned to entertain yourself and your guests.

They are the Autoharp and the Strumstick…

PHOTO Oscar Schmidt Acoustic Autoharp

The Autoharp was the most popular parlor instrument during Victorian times, however once the phonograph and pre-recorded music became a fixture in most homes, it fell out of favor. It saw another resurgence in the 1950’s as a music education instrument in the public schools. The Autoharp is very easy to play either lap or Applachain style held in the arms. The Centurion model is perhaps the best acoustic Autoharp Oscar Schmidt makes which means you needn’t use amplification to be heard. I’ve played mine outdoors at garden parties, bluegrass jams and folk festivals as it is very portable.  Add a strap and you're ready for anything.

You could try playing some lovely spring offerings like Irish Folk music which include lively reels and slow, romantic, airs. Celtic music and Scottish Airs are beautiful on the Autoharp and capture the light, festive theme of outdoor celebrations. We recommend:

* Celtic Autoharp 35 Celtic tunes arranged for all standard Autoharps such as Scotland the Brave, Farewell to Whiskey, Star of the County Down and Eleanor Plunkett by Karen Mueller. Includes CD with examples of playing of these tunes. Mel-Bay

* Scottish Airs and Ballads for Autoharp has 25 Scottish tunes arranged for Autoharp using standard notation and tablature with accompaniment chords. Flow Gently Sweet Afton, Cradle Song, Bonnie Dundee and Auld Lang Syne by Alex Usher. Comes with audio CD. Mel-Bay


Photo Strumstick by Bob McNally 

This is another easy to play, conversation starter! The Strumstick is an invention of Bob McNally who is an excellent guitarist who can also boast the design rights to the Martin Backpacker, a very portable, quality guitar. The Strumstick only has 3 strings and ours, the Grand, is tuned to the key of D. The first low string is D the middle is A and the last is a high D. It is in fact arranged in a similar fashion to a mountain dulicmer except for the reversal of the D string's position, thus pitches.

The beauty of the Strumstick is that you really can’t hit a bad note. Pick a string for the melody and strum all of the strings and you will sound great. What this does is give you a drone note which is the foundation of most Celtic music, (think of the steady note heard played on the Bagpipes). The Strumstick comes with both an instruction and song book.  A song/instruction CD is also available.  I was able to pick up playing songs from the book almost immediately and it really helped propel my progress on the guitar because the technique is essentially the same.

There are 70 tried and true songs included with the Strumstick. This will add a new dimension to entertaining your guests as there are scientific proofs of the benefits of playing and listening to live music.  Even more than that, its just plain fun!   If this is not enough, along with the songs included with the Strumstick, we recommend you also try:

* Celtic Songs and Slow Airs for the Mountain Dulcimer by Neal Hellman

* Favorite Old Time American Songs for Appalachian Dulcimer Mel Bay



Dr. Marie Miczak and her C.F. Martin D-16GT Guitar with an under the saddle Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend Pickup

(Guitar Accessories, Martin Logo Leather Strap, Thumbpick, Strum 'n Comfort Kodiak Pick)

Look for her upcoming CD featuring this Martin D-16 and Electric Autoharp!  Get the full scoop by visiting the NEW Eclectic Sound Experience right here:


Posted by Author at 1:30 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 16 June 2008 12:14 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 26 February 2008
New Wave in Podcasting
Now Playing: Podcasting Hits the Airwaves....


The New Wave in Podcasting


Podcasting is the latest wave in multimedia production as audio and video programs can be downloaded onto your computer or MP3 player. Now, nearly anyone with the right equipment can do “radio” quality broadcasts of news, music or educational lessons which can be accessed later by others either online or by download.

One pod cast producer, Laurel Moglen of Los Angeles started her new career in 2005 after working for years in public radio. She took that experience and upgraded it to start LA Podsquad, a company that creates highly polished custom pod casts. These include both audio and video programs meant to be downloaded onto your computer or MP3 player. Moglen’s clients include top companies like Travelocity and PBS Kids.



Besides a laptop, there are two main pieces of equipment every pod caster must have. Headphones and a microphone. Looking first at which headphones to choose, The ATH-M50 model is perfect for online listening for long periods of time. Circumaural earpieces swivel 180° for easy one-ear monitoring on the fly. These are essential to pod casting as they are extremely comfortable and effectively block distracting background noise. The ATH-M50’s are richly padded and comfortable enough to wear for hours at a time, a major bonus when doing a long pod cast with a lot of content. Not only that, they are collapsible and come with its own leatherette pouch for easy storage and transport.



Audio - Technica’s ATH-M50

Professional Studio Monitor Headphones

List $199.00

ATH-M50 Features:

Exceptional audio quality for professional monitoring and mixing

Collapsible design ideal for easy portability and convenient storage Proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers with neodymium magnet systems

Closed-back cushioned earcup design creates an outstanding seal for maximum isolation Adjustable padded headband for comfort during long mixing/recording sessions

Single-sided coiled cable terminates to gold-plated mini plug with screw-on ¼" adapter
















NEW Audio-Technica’s AT2020 USB Side Address Condenser Microphone

List $249.00

The next essential is a good microphone specifcally suited for podcasting.

Most broadcasters favor a side address microphone which carries an USB connector. Introduced at this year's NAMM Show in Anaheim, CA, the new AT2020 USB is the perfect solution. Ready to go, it plugs directly into your computer without the need for any additional adaptors.  The tripod stand allows it to be placed on any desk or table for handsfree broadcasting which essentially eliminates handling noise.


 AT2020 USB’s Features:

Side-address studio condenser with USB digital output (Windows and Mac compatible)

Crystal-clear, natural sound for podcasting, home studio recording, field recording, and voiceover use

Custom-engineered low-mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response

Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source

Low self-noise – perfectly suited for sophisticated digital recording equipment 


Includes tripod desk stand, pivoting stand mount, USB cable & storage pouch

Posted by Author at 1:26 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008 1:35 PM EST
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Saturday, 9 February 2008
Gifts with a Heart!
Now Playing: A Heart of Stone...

Peace Picks

Semiprecious Stone Guitar Picks

Everyone likes a shiny stone!  How would you like to play your guitar with one?  The Peace Picks are beautiful, made of polished agate and jasper but beveled for optimum guitar picking.



The Peace Pick, made by Strum 'N Comfort, offers a natural alternative to plastic picks that often over-bend and then break.  Even more.....

Peace Pick Benefits

  • Improves your flat picking skills
  • Bell like tone quality on the high strings
  • Warm and smooth tone on the bass notes
  • Three picking edges & six angles to choose from
  • Play and enjoy signature Gypsy Jazz sounds
  • The project supports organizations for Peace

The heart shaped stone picks are beveled to a sharp 1.0 mm diameter at the tip.






Six basic series semi-precious stone types available 


The two heart lobes are also beveled to a 2.0 mm diameter. What's even better is that you can take your Peace Pick with you and wear it as jewelry!  Below is the necklace Peace Pick Holder being worn....


Peace Pick Holder G clef and Translucent Stone Pick

Wearing your Peace Pick is not only decorative but reminds you to practice playing each day.  They make wonderful gifts and the sales go to support charity efforts in the futhering of peace.

Closer view of engraved Peace Picks and a Pick inside Holder

Music themed jewelry is very "hot" right now and is worn by musicians and non-musicians alike.  Here is another example from Strum 'n Comfort.....



 This lovely stylized guitar pin was created by Brother John

Brother John is a long time Big Sur, California jewelry artist. He has resided and worked along the northern California coast for over forty years.

Brother John has originated a unique artisan style, tri-metal design and his original artwork is collected by many people from all over the world. Brother John's customers include the Hollywood famous and many music industry notables. As a matter of fact, Brother John had provided jewelry for Jerry Garcia of the famed "Grateful Dead Band".

As you can see, he combines brass, copper & nickel silver metals in very creative ways as can be seen in this stunning Banjo Pin.


Brother John's tri-colored Banjo Pin

The artisan guitar pin, banjo clip and pendant is the first in a series of manufactured music theme gift jewelry to be offered by Strum-N-Comfort.

Strum-N-Comfort is to be commended for their humanitarian efforts towards world peace but also for their committment to disabled musicians who use their picks.  Greg Atkin's company does not blow its own horn but offers help to many guitarists through such fund raising efforts.  Visit them online and support fellow musicians by purchasing music themed jewelry and gifts that keep on giving.



Posted by Author at 4:44 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008 9:17 PM EST
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Friday, 8 February 2008
Vibes for Valentine's Day
Now Playing: Top Gifts for Audiophiles


Top Gifts for Audiophiles

Like connoisseurs of fine wine and food, there are some among us who savor beautiful music. Such are called “audiophiles” which means literally, “lovers of sound”. There are certain accessories and equipment desired by everyone who appreciates true sound reproduction. Pairing the right accessories with the right equipment makes all the difference. So here is our list of the top accessories the music lover in your life will want.


For those who are married to their MP3 players, we have…….

Audio-Technica’s ATH-CK7 QuietPoint Noise-Reducing Titanium Earphones

List $169.00

Nearly everyone has an iPod or other another type of MP3 player these days. They are perhaps the most visible accessory of young adults and musicians. The problem is that most of the earphones that come with these players are uncomfortable and do not stay put, especially when the wearer is out walking or jogging.

The solution is Audio-Technica’s ATH-CK7 earphones. They are phenomenal for clear, stereo sound with three sizes of ear pieces for a custom fit. These allow for an acoustic seal which helps block out ambient sound and background noise. This means you can enjoy your MP3 player at lower volume levels which saves batteries and your ears. 11 mm drivers deliver deep bass, extended treble and high fidelity. Titanium construction means less weight without sacrificing durability. Super comfortable with fantastic sound reproduction.



TrailAudio Digital Outdoor 512 MB MP3 Player by HighGear

Retail $129.00

Rugged, weatherproof and very simple to load, this MP3 player makes the rest look like crybabies. It’s harbinger clip and custom equalizing controls bring together the best of the in and outdoors. Coupled with Audio-Technica’s QuietPoint earphones and you can take off for another world while staying in this one. Amazing sound to go.





Humans Incase by Mike Mills “Flower Pouch” iPod Classic Case

Retail $60.00

This decorative, floral designed holder for the iPod Classic, (60 or 80GB), is an elegant statement. Designed by Mike Mills who is a graphic designer and filmmaker. His graphic work has been seen on album covers, skateboards, T-shirts and fabric patterns. He has directed music videos, short films and documentaries. Mills now brings his creative talents to gracing the quintessential iPod!




For the recording artists among us, we have…….

Audio-Technica’s ATH-M50 Professional Studio Monitor Headphones 

List $199.00

More and more musicians are now getting into home recording since companies like BOSS have made it simple and affordable to produce radio quality CD’s…at home. The ATH-M50 model is perfect for recording, mixing, studio monitoring and overdubbing. Circumaural ear pieces swivel 180° for easy one-ear monitoring on the fly. This is one piece of equipment no budding recording artist can do with out.

  • Exceptional audio quality for professional monitoring and mixing
  • Collapsible design ideal for easy portability and convenient storage
  • Proprietary 45 mm large-aperture drivers with neodymium magnet systems
  • Closed-back cushioned earcup design creates an outstanding seal for maximum isolation
  • Adjustable padded headband for comfort during long mixing/recording sessions
  • Single-sided coiled cable terminates to gold-plated mini plug with screw-on ¼" adapter



 Audio-Technica’s AT2010 Cardioid Condenser Vocal Microphone

List $169.00 


Audio-Technica’s AT2010 Condenser Vocal microphone is perfect for recording but shines equally in live performance. It comes through the instrumental mix allowing your vocals to stand out with recording studio impact and polish. Features the same 16 mm low-mass diaphragm found in the critically acclaimed AT2020 side-address studio condenser that recording artists use.

Solid, rugged all metal construction with unsurpassed sensitivity. Truly excels where clear, articulate vocals are needed. High SPL-handling and wide dynamic range makes this one of the most versatile condenser mics on the market. Quiet - Flex stand clamp provides ultra quiet handling and easy positioning.  Fantastic quality condenser mic.




BOSS BR1200CD Digital Recording Studio

List $1,049.00

Record, edit, master and burn radio quality CD’s onboard on ONE unit! The BR-1200CD allows you to add drum and bass effects, guitar and vocal processing on 12 tracks, (4 tracks for recording and playback in stereo). Has an onboard Vocal Toolbox for polished studio honed vocals. Allows for loop phrases, digital effects and has a Mastering Tool Kit for professional sounding CD’s. You’ll be able to record, edit, master and burn your own studio quality CD’s onboard without downloading onto a laptop. With 40 G bytes, you can do up to 120 hours of recording before you run out!


For the DJ's in our midst....

Audio-Technica’s ATH-PRO700 SV Professional Monitor Headphones

List $279.00 

Every DJ needs a set of quality “cans” to keep the music going. These are buttery soft and extremely comfortable on the ears for maximum sound isolation while delivering exceptional tone and clarity. You‘ll be surprised at what you‘ve been missing!  These pick up all the subtle nuances other headphones leave behind.

Monitoring headphones that excel in both DJ and recording studio use

Clear, well-defined trebles, rich bass response

Excellent isolation, perfect for loud environments such as clubs and house parties

3,500 mW of power handling, high SPL capability

53 mm diameter drivers, neodymium magnets

OFC (oxygen-free copper) wire cables, convenient one-side entry

Compact, easy to fold and store in provided pouch

1/8" (3.5 mm) stereo connector with 1/4" (6.3 mm) adapter

These really are some of the best headphones for DJ’s as they are comfortable to wear for long periods of time and offer unsurpassed noise isolation and sound monitoring.



Audio-Technica’s PRO 31QTR Dynamic Cardioid Handheld Microphone

List $69.00

Designed for up close vocals, this microphone is rugged and road ready. Perfect for DJ and Karaoke applications. You’ll especially appreciate the Magnalock on/off switch and the tough construction of the PRO 31QTR. One of the best microphones available for use when background noise can not be controlled. Great sound reproduction at an affordable price.

Close-up vocal performance microphone sets price/performance standards for intelligibility, transparent sound quality and noise suppression

Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source

Hi-ENERGY® neodymium magnet for high output and articulate vocal reproduction

Two-stage ball-type headcase for superior "pop" protection

MagnaLock™ on/off switch

Corrosion-resistant contacts from gold-plated XLRM-type connector




The NEW Gemini CDM-3600 Dual CD Mixing Console allows you to be the DJ of your own party!

List $419

NEW from Gemini!  Dual CD player and DJ Workstation means non-stop, seamless play and creative mixing. Connect a turntable and you have a complete system.  Can be used as a rack mount or tabletop system. Loads of features such as fader and stutter start, EQ, FX, programmable play lists, pitch bend via jog wheel or control, direct track access and more. Comes with RCA cables and is ready to hook up to your mixer or PA.  LED VU meter and quick search function make this the hottest Dual CD, mixing console out there.  The DJ in your life will freak over this one!  Flight case for the CDM-3600 is available for purchase.








 Gemini CDM-3600 Dual CD Mixing Console & DJ Workstation

















Posted by Author at 9:44 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008 1:19 PM EST
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Tuesday, 15 January 2008
For Your Favorite Musician....2008's Top Gear for Guitarists
Now Playing: 2008's Top Gear for Guitarists

2008’s Top Gear for Guitarists



Sometimes you wonder just what to get the guitarist or musician in your life. Fortunately, picking out gear that can be used and appreciated is really pretty easy. While purchasing an actual instrument may be cost-prohibitive, there are many accessories which make playing a whole lot more enjoyable.  Here are some of the best gear choices we've tested that any guitarist will love you for:


Planet Waves Dare Strap:

While most guitarists will favor an old, well worn softened leather strap, the Dare strap offers ergonomic balance and comfort.  This fully adjustable nylon strap balances the weight of your guitar squarely over both shoulders thus avoiding fatigue.  I use it with my solid body stratocaster which is idenstical to the one pictured here and its really super comfortable with no stress on my shoulders or back.  This strap ROCKS!



Planet Waves CTM Chordmaster, Tuner and Metronome

Three great accessories in one unit the size of an iPod!  The Chordmaster allows easy access to nearly endless chord variations.  The tuner works with either a direct cable in or via the onboard microphone for acoustic instruments.  Easy to read and accurate. The metronome helps you keep time and can be set to a variety of beats per measure.  Possibly the most complete accessory because it combines three of the most sought after units for guitarists in one.


Visit them online for more information....


Audio-Technica's PRO 8HEx Headworn Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

List Price


Fantastic vocal reproduction that is both comfortable and ultra-light to wear, the PRO 8HEx is ideal for guitarists, keyboard players, drummers, DJ's and others who need free hands while performing. Its low-visibility headband and cushioned support pads provide a stable, comfortable fit with no shifting. Designed for professional quality vocal pickup with hands-free operation, the PRO 8HEx features a pivot-mounted flexible mic boom that descends from either the left or right side.

  • Ideal for guitarists, keyboard players, DJ's, drummers and others who need the use of their hands during performance
  • Low-visibility headband is worn around the back of the head with cushioned support pads that provide a stable, comfortable fit
  • Pivot-mounted flexible mic boom descends from left or right side
  • Hypercardioid polar pattern improves isolation of desired sound source
  • Hi-ENERGY® neodymium element for articulate vocal reproduction
  • 7.2' (2.2 m) cable permanently attached between microphone and XLRM-type connector
  • Also available as:
    PRO 8HEcW – 55" (1.4 m) cable terminated with locking 4-pin connector for A-T UniPak™ wireless systems

Check out the PRO 8HEx and its wireless counterpart mentioned above, online at Audio-Technica's website:


Giglight Music Light by Lampcraft

Really any musician will love you for this gift!  A portable, powerful music light that clips onto your music stand.  The Giglight easily illuminates two full pages of music with a steady, bright LED light that can be powered by battery or AC adapter.  Folds up easily into its own case and travels with you to your gigs.  Indespensible for perfoming, practice and recording.


Giglight Music Light

 List Price  $49.00




Visit Lampcraft online and get your own Giglight!



Stum-n-Comfort Guitar Picks

These super comfortable picks are perfect for for finger picking styles and those who use thumb picks.  Veteran performer and guitar teacher for over 40 years, Paul Pugliese says these picks are great because they stay on and don't get in the way.  They work well on finger picking styles as well as classical guitar and banjo rolls.  I've used them on my Autoharp and Strumstick and found I can play much longer in comfort yet be in control of the pick without thinking about it.  We tested the Kodiak and Sharktooth crossover picks which work welll for hybrid picking.  They really allow you to focus on your technique and the inventor, Greg Atkin, is coming out with a CD on universal picking which highlights how to get the most from this system.  Greg's website also offers guitar accessories and Music Themed Jewelry that is beautiful and unique.  Some examples that would make wonderful, practical gifts are the Peace Pick which is made of semi-precious stone worn as a necklace and an elegant Guitar Pin.

Stop by Strum 'N Comfort online at:



Alaska Pik Guitar Picks

Alaska Pik. These unique finger picks act as stronger extensions of your fingernails.  In fact, they go over your finger and under the nail which makes them more of an extension of your fingers.  Great for for classical guitar and fingerpicking styles.  Sizes small, medium and large come in plastic while the brass picks are sold in medium and large only. Easy to adjust for a custom fit. These offer the freedom of not having to hold on to a flat guitar pick leaving you free to pick 'n pluck! 

Visit Alaska Pik online at:


Finger-Tone Pro Picks

These picks are so very comfortable and a great improvement over the plastic Dunlops most banjo, guitar and harp players use.  They allow part of your fingerpad to engage which aids in greater sensitivity on the strings.

These metal tips are more accurate for finger picking styles because they are more precise.  You can really isolate the strings for precision picking with these! Comes with a very cool pick case for storage and travel. We will post more as we try them on other types of guitars and with other techniques.

Finger-Tone picks by ProPik are available online at:




The Strumstick by Bob McNally

On its own, the Strumstick is such a cool instrument that you could buy it for anyone and make them happy.  However, one would miss the full potential of this "stick dulicmer".  Having only three strings, one being a drone note, the Grand Strumstick we tested is tuned to the key of D by way of D-A-D.  This means nearly whatever you do sounds melodic and picking out songs is actually quite easy.  Still the best part about the Strumstick is that it is the perfect guitar trainer.  You can practice the same exercises for barring and fretting while making real music.  I found that my attenuation and dexterity for the guitar improved greatly when using the Strumstick.  This is a great instrument to introduce someone to the guitar or even allow seasoned guitarists to compose on.  Fun on a stick!





See all the varieties of Strumstick including the newer electric ones at:






Posted by Author at 2:22 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, 10 February 2008 3:24 PM EST
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Wednesday, 2 January 2008
Want to Keep Those New Year's Resolutions?
Mood:  cheeky
Now Playing: Knock-Knock's

If you've struggled year after year with the same failures at keeping your New Year's Resolutions, here is a series of books that are sure to jump start your motivation!


  • How to Get FAT
  • How to Get in Debt
  • How to Procrastinate
  • Wheel O' Wisdom: Diagnose Your Neurosis


Knock-Knock's Self Hurt Series parody on "self help" offerings humorously shows how specific attitudes and actions lead to the same end result.  If you are serious about keeping those New Year's resolutions, perhaps it's time to take a realistic look at what may be sabotaging them.

How to Get Fat "All my life I've been trying to get fat.  No matter what I did, I stayed slim.  Now I'm packing on the pounds like crazy."  Jane Smith, former model.  This book takes the reverse approach to many of the same excuses people use for being overweight.  "I'm small boned" and other bromides are used to point out the self delusion we all fall prey to.

How to Get into Debt  "I was a saver.  I had a 401(k), a nest egg and a retirement plan.  No matter what I tried, I couldn't blow through my money, until now."  Sally Smith, Successful Debtor.  Funny but true, this book pinpoints the choices and lifestyles that lead to bankruptcy.  Laid out in step by step fashion, you will hear your own reasonings and excuses for over-spending, (we all make them), and hopefully see the cause and effect correlations.

How to Procrastinate  " My efficiency, promptness and industrious work ethic were making me miserable.  Now I just sit on my rump and I couldn't be happier!" Betty Smith, Utter Flake.  Oh boy!  This book likewise really gets inside of your head by showing up areas when we can waste time.  Compulsive checking of emails, texting and surfing online are more associated with avoiding doing things that need to get done than productive activity.  It also shows how your self esteem and relationships fare from this sort of (non) activity.  When you read all the ways you CAN waste time and shrug work, you'll quickly identify those which should be cut out unless you really do want to procrastinate!

Wheel O' Wisdom  Diagnose your Neurosis.  This nifty wheel spins up a world of insight and makes a perfect gift for the neurotic among us.  Comes with a mailing envelope for that very purpose!  Each window shows "what it is","what it feels like", "what people call it" and finally pluses and minuses for the behavior.  Take a close yet humerous look at human nature through this insightful window.

The key to success of any kind is to first identify the behaviors which cause the same results (or lack), year after year.  With the Knock Knock Series, humor can be your best friend and ally for success.  They will give you the wake up call you need.  Visit them online at... Knock-Knock:





Posted by Author at 1:07 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 4 January 2008 6:56 PM EST
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Monday, 26 November 2007
Entertaining at Home this Holiday Season
Now Playing: Let's Get it Started in Here!
Entertaining at Home this Holiday Season:

Let's Get it Started in Here!

Many people are sticking closer to home during the holidays this year. We also see more people investing in pool tables, home movie theatres and stereo sound systems for good reason. Creeping gas prices and air fares are making it more desirable to stay home and invite others over. Most people have no problem with providing cocktails and sumptuous meals for their guests but what about entertainment? Well, sitting everyone in front of a big, flat screened, high definition television will only work for some of your guests. You could hire a D.J. but that will cost at least $400 for the evening and he may not always have the genres of music you want to hear.

One solution for musical entertainment many savvy hosts are turning to is Karaoke. Now we’re not talking about the kind found in the kid’s toy section of Target. No, these are professional and semi-pro models which offer fantastic sound quality coupled with ease of use. The semi-professional Karaoke System we tested after checking out a ton of others is the Singing Machine. Their latest SM -1010 Digital model is a pedestal type with a full color 7 inch monitor. You don’t have to set it up on a table and then squint at black and white graphics. The TFT LCD liquid crystal screen shows full color lyrics and is packed with features to get the party started!


The Singing Machine SM 1010

Semi-Pro Karaoke Machine

MSRP $599.99

Karaoke is a Japanese abbreviated compound word: "kara" comes from "karrappo" meaning empty (as in karate - empty hand), and "oke" is the abbreviation of "okesutura" or orchestra. Rather than having both vocals and music, karaoke tracks only have the music. A live person who holds a microphone and sings while following the words displayed on a screen provides the vocals.

Everyone can have the chance to be the “star” at your party! Karaoke began in Japan but has quickly spread all over the world as a way to get people to participate in music, not just simply listen to it. We especially liked the fact that you can even plug in a guitar or other instrument which uses a ¼ inch jack into this machine. This gives extra versatility and encourages anyone with a desire to play an instrument while they sing. This Karaoke system includes:

iPod Docking Station (iPod not included)
7"TFT LCD Color Monitor with on Screen Lyrics
Built-in Video Camera
AM/FM Radio
Digital Key Control
Microphone Echo Control
Microphone Volume Control
A.V. C (Auto Voice Control)
Balance Music/Vocal Control
Two Microphone Inputs
Headphone Jack
Two Tower Speakers
Built-in Speaker System

What impressed us most with this karaoke system was the sound quality. Twin tower speakers has a top mounted horn tweeter and four drivers. A 50 watt system that offers a lot of great sound and clear volume. I’ve used professional Karaoke systems in the clubs and really, this system has far more features to help tweak your vocals. We found that the microphones included with the system were unfortunately closer to what comes with the toy karaoke machines. Based on this, many people have complained that the Singing Machine’s vocal volumes are very poor. I contend that the problem is not with the machine but with the cheap microphones that came with it. Made of inexpensive plastic, they are not nearly sensitive enough to carry your voice over the professionally recorded music and background vocals of the CD-G’s. I’ve seen this before with other low quality microphones. You need to nearly shout into them just to get the volume to register on the PA System!

No need to toss out the baby with the bath water. Simply exchange the microphones that come with the SM 1010 with a pair of serious Audio-Technica PRO 31QTR Cardioid Dynamic microphones. There’s your upgrade! You will find your vocals to be far more pronounced and clear over the system without having to turn up the microphone volume so high.


Audio-Technica’s PRO 31QTR

Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

The recommended upgrade for

Karaoke machines

MSRP $59.00

This affordable cardioid dynamic microphone is designed for close-up vocal performance. We recommend this microphone for the Singing Machine Karaoke SM1010 as it nails the clarity and audibility often lacking in standard “Karaoke” mics.

The PRO 31QTR has a broad frequency response while keeping handling noise at a minimum. We especially appreciated the all metal, tough, durable design that delivers consistent performance. Like all Audio-Technica microphones, the PRO 31QTR is extremely well made, (bomb proof in fact), and can stand up to life on the hard road. The mic sets price/performance standards for intelligibility, transparent sound quality and noise suppression. Available in two models for easy use with consumer and pro electronics: PRO 31 (XLRF-XLRM cable) and PRO 31QTR (XLRF- ¼” cable).

When we switched out the microphones which came with the Singing Machine with the PRO 31QTR’s, the improvement was immediately evident. Vocals we much cleaner with little or no popping. One feature we were quite impressed with was the MagnaLock silent on-off switch. Not only does it eliminate the clicking sound associated with turning the mic on, but it can be locked into the on position to prevent accidental shut off during performance. Vocals had far more punch and volume with the PRO 31QTR’s.


Visit Audio-Technica Online at :


Got Game?

One of the things you want to do when hosting your holiday parties is to make sure everyone is included in the fun. Now it is going to invariably be the case that only some of your guests are going to want to sing Karaoke. Depending on how good these guests are, even less may be willing to listen to them! You can set up a few tables with old favorites such as Monopoly or Scrabble in a nearby room. The idea is to have as many options for entertainment open for your guests as possible.

The New Harvard Convertible

3 in 1 Multi Game Table

MSRP $699.95

Want to add some gameroom fun but have limited space? We can recommend the New Harvard Convertible 3 -in-1 Multi-Game Table. This is a high quality, American made Pool, Air Hockey and Ping Pong table. You can set the schedule to have games of Pool from let’s say after dinner, then Air Hockey can begin a few hours after that with Ping Pong finishing off the night’s tournaments. Your guests can get a schedule and look forward to when their favorite game will start or they can simply be spectators while cheering the other players on. The table easily converts from one type of game to another for non stop action. You can give gift basket prizes of cookies or other homemade goodies to the winning players to take home. All accessories are included with this superior quality multi-game table, so you needn’t worry about getting any extra equipment.

The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and your guests during the holiday entertaining season. Don a stunning outfit, pour yourself a glass of wine, set out some hot and cold appetizers and join your guests at the party!

Posted by Author at 12:51 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 26 November 2007 8:27 PM EST
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