Saturday, January 07, 2006

'Destination Music' first look

I managed to catch the premiere showing of the Grey Fox segment of the BBC World's new Destination Music series. To bring you up to date, I was at the festival last summer when the BBC crew was filming. It's kind of cool since it tracks my interest in music festivals but with an international angle. In upcoming weeks, the program visits Morocco, Spain, Ireland and Zanzibar.

It premiered on Friday with the Grey Fox segment, airing at 10:30 GMT in European and Asian markets, but not in the U.S. However, BBC World broadcasts live over the Internet, and is available with a Real Player Superpass. Superpass is a premium service at about $10 a month, but Real offers a 14-day free trial, so I went ahead and signed up.

After installing and launching the latest RealPlayer, I first confronted just the minimized Player window. It took a moment to discover an icon in the upper right that opens the Superpass Home page. There is a tremendous amount of content available there--quite possibly worth the $10. The link for BBC World Live 24/7 is quite prominent within the News block on the page.

I clicked on that and after a short buffer time, I'm watching the live feed of BBC World. I can change the size of the window. Of course it is subject to the usual limitations of Internet video, but I find that it looks and especially sounds good blown up to maximum size on my 19-in. flat screen. Well, it does when it isn't cutting out, which happened five or six times during the next hour or so that I was watching.

The news in on with a report on Ariel Sharon, but the text box reads "Destination Music in 11 minutes." Wow, I hit it just right. Just past noon in Oakland, CA, was Friday night in London, or 2030 GMT to be precise. This would be the first of four airings of the program this week.

I'll give only a few impressions of the program here and write a full review when I watch it again later. The focus is on bluegrass more than Grey Fox, but of course it is all filmed "on the hill" so it's filled with great footage of the festival. Most of the content is of performers, introduced with stage footage and segueing to interviews. We hear from Sam Bush, Psychograss, Tim O'Brien, the Biscuit Burners, the Wilders, Uncle Earl and a lot more. The story line is about bluegrass as a uniquely American fusion of musical forms, the wide range of bluegrass styles, and the high level of musicianship among bluegrass performers. The program runs 30 minutes.

As I say, I'll take notes the next time and write a proper review. If you want to watch it, you have four chances in the next couple of days. Start by going here and clicking on the free trial offer. You'll have to give them your credit card, but you have two weeks to cancel. It's pretty straightforward how to set it up after that. Remember to click the program guide icon once you are in the player window.

Now, here are the times. It will play exactly four more times this week and is not otherwise accessible on demand. Presumably, it will show somewhere on U.S. cable and satellite in the future, but as yet I'm not aware of when that will be. Since most Grey Fox attendees are in the Eastern time zone, I've adjusted these show times to EST.

Saturday, January 7, 8:30 pm
Monday, January 9, 4:30 am
Tuesday, January 10, 11:30 am
Tuesday, January 10, 9:30 pm

Enjoy the show--and don't forget to cancel the free trial.

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