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Pondering Pandora

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The random aspect of the Pandora music streaming service can be both extremely maddening and transcendentally enlightening, depending on the moment. Say, for instance, you're in a funk, and you pick a channel to cheer you up, say, The Rolling Stones channel. Good old rock and roll, classic tunes - and then it starts choosing, flipping you tunes and there's no Stones. Creedence? Tom Petty? The Beatles? Steeler's Wheel, for god's sake! Who put this randomizer logarithm together? Was someone sleeping at the wheel when they wrote the software? Didn't they hear about the whole Beatles/Stones who's your favorite thing? Because, like, they're so different? Duh? Why not have some blues in there, the sources, Robert Johnson, Muddy, Howlin' Wolf? Or at the very least some balls to the walls rockers like AC DC or ZZ Top, if you gotta go generalist. Next thing it'll be a song by REO Speedwagon.

But there's some amazing associating Pandora can do with lesser known artists who fit into a distinct niche. For instance, Massachusetts' own Barrence Whitfield, who could be categorized as R&B/garage/blues/punk/soul shouter, and when Pandora started it up it was like it opened up special back room in a funky old record store. One after another of obscure garage R&B fringe artists who had this one thing in common - they all had the same depth of soul, man, they all belonged on the stage with Barrence. And another thing was, Barrence's new disc, Dig Thy Savage Soul, sounded goddamn contemporary with all of it, and a lot went back to the 50's and 60's. A stone cold revelation. I didn't write them all down, because I was working, but I'm gonna give it a listen again, and I'll bet my next paycheck, as wanting as it is, that it'll happen again. Taking down the names of these artists is having a treasure chest of a whole new bunch of music to investigate and explore. For that, I forgive Pandora for the whole Stones thing.

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