FOR FOUR YEARS, amateur guitarist Adam Schneider has been a sort of virtual guitar teacher, offering online instructions to a worldwide circle of musicians with modems. When he discovered a great new song (Lucinda Williams, Suzanne Vega, and Indigo Girls are some of his songwriting favorites), he'd strum along with his stereo, watch videotapes, or take notes at concerts to learn the chords. Then he'd post his tablatures on his University of Minnesota homepage on the World Wide Web for other players to share and learn. That is, until copyright lawyers stepped in.
Earlier this year, EMI successfully campaigned for Internet hosts to dismantle most sites connected with the voluminous On-Line Guitar Archive (OLGA), which provides guitar music of many genres, threatening legal action on the grounds of copyright infringement. Soon afterward, an unknown party coerced University lawyers to make Schneider (also an OLGA contributor) remove his own chord files from their system.
Copyright run-ins like these have incensed the electronic community over the past several months. Schneider argues that his website had the potential to increase consumer interest and music sales, and says he has always refused to take money for his services. "It's not like I'm taking the songbook, putting it on my scanner, and putting the picture up on the Net. I would never do that. I've just put up my own interpretations of how to play these songs."
OLGA users like Schneider also cite the "fair use" clause, which permits copyrighted materials to be used for educational purposes. This opens yet another issue of how the law should apply to the new medium. "It does call into question, what is the Internet?" says Schneider. "Is it a global conversation, or is it a print or broadcast medium? That's a good question, and I don't know the answer."
He does know that his online files--most of which are not available in any other medium--are trapped in limbo, waiting for legislation or a compromise. Ironically, Schneider has received approval from many of the artists he features. (Musician Kim Richey even sat down with him after her recent Fine Line concert and taught him a song to put online.) And while he could opt to place his files with an overseas Net provider, he won't be satisfied until publishers realize they could cooperate with him. "I'm not interested in trying to go around them, to go underground. What I would like to do is work out a solution with the people who complained about this--but I don't know who complained." Until then, Schneider maintains his dis-chorded home page, featuring his side of the story, a plea for involved parties to contact him, and some interesting links. The address: http://pobox.com/~schneider/adam.html. (Simon Peter Groebner)
JANE ANFINSON, ELECTRIC violinist of experimental pop trio Own, has never been reluctant to cross-pollinate pop, rock, jazz, and experimental music. After playing for years in countless far-reachers like Tribo, Imp Ork, and the notorious '80s band Exploding Head Trick, Anfinson formed Own (with electric cellist Michael Severens and drummer David Lewis) as a vocal-charged pop project. But coming from a creative mind as boundless and inspiring as Anfinson's, "pop" is a loaded term. Own plays a CD release party for its new debut, Agenda Item 1, Saturday at the Loring Bar. Wide Load Ma'am opens at 9 p.m. 1624 Harmon Place, Mpls.; 332-1617.
One listen to Shishkabam makes it clear why The Dust Bunnies won the '96 Minnesota Music Award for Best New Artist. Many bands are lucky to be fronted by a golden-throated diva--but the Dust Bunnies have two. Jennifer Goforth's and violinist Julie Reiter's styles shift effortlessly between torch singing, smooth blues, lounge/swing, and country. The same easy versatility is found between guitarists Kevin Pinck and Eric Kratchovil, who add rockabilly, Middle Eastern influences, and even Latin jazz to a country rock soup. (The CD has great retro packaging, by the way.) The release party is Saturday at the Fine Line with Sugar Marie supporting. ($5. 9 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Mpls.; 338-8100.)
Guzzard celebrates its third AmRep effort, The Alienation Index Survey, with two shows Sunday at 7th Street Entry. It's yet another ultratight, indignant Guzzard record, but the boys are getting that grimy guitar to sound better and better every time. All-ages show with Arm at 4 p.m.; drunk show with King Can at 9 p.m. Touch is Automatic starts off both shows. ($5. 701 First Ave. N., Mpls.; 338-8388.)
Other shows of note: Japan's legendary noise-rock terrorists Zeni Geva headline a set at the Entry Thursday night (with sax star Joshua Redman's quintet across the way in the mainroom). Lovable loonies Better Off Airport precede them, with Fastball and Sandwiches opening ($5, doors at 8 p.m.). And new British buzz band Placebo stop in town on a short U.S. strafing run on Monday night, also at the Entry ($5, doors at 8 p.m.). Their self-titled debut on Caroline sounds more like U.S. alternarock than Brit-pop, which may be due to the fact that frontman/androgyne Brian Molko is American and the rest of the band is Swedish. Whatever; Propeller, Pal Joey, and Splittsville USA open. (Groebner)
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