2013: The Year in Music

Will Brooke-deBock

2013 was year that I committed to seeing live music.  Didn’t see many movies, instead most of the entertain budget went to going to shows around the area.

I love the value of the seeing music: from zero dollars to, I think, the most expensive single show  was $35 dollars for a ticket.  The average price was probably 12 to 15 dollars.  Getting so much entertain value is great, but knowing that you are also supporting musicians makes spending the money actually feel good!   And watching the musicians work hard at what the love to do, play music, is also very satisfying.

Literally, I did not see a show that I did not enjoy this year.  From the anarcho-punk band, Ramshackle Glory to Chamber Music at the Marlboro Music Festival, from Marlboro, VT-based  Red Heart the Ticker to JD McPherson, from The Devil Makes Three to the Duhks — it was all good.

Both the Green River Festival and the Roots on the River Festival were a lot of fun.  And there are always surprises when you see live music, like buying Sauerkraut Seth’s sauerkraut at the Wyios show at the Next Stage in Putney, Vermont, or buying Ray’s Polish Fire hot sauce at the Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellies concert at the Parlor Room in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Thank you to the venues that we visited this year including,

Top Shows of the Year

It is almost impossible narrow down my favorites shows of the year, but I am going to try.

  1. pos_coverPoor Old Shine (Starting at the Parlor Room and ending at the ART theater in Cambridge, MA).  Learned about Poor Old Shine from Jim Olsen (of Signature Sounds) at the first show I went to at the Parlor Room.  Jim described the band as having a “band vibe” something like classic bands of the 1960’s, like The Band.  That intrigued me enough to go to see the band sight unseen at the Parlor Room.  Our instinct (and Jim) were right: this was an energetic band that played Alt Americana music tightly and joyfully.  They played ballads, gospel songs, and raucous string arrangements.  We knew from the first few songs that this was going to have to be a band that we would want to follow.  And we did, we saw them four times over the course of the year, and they never disappointed.One of my first thoughts when I tried to describe the band was a 21st century Kingston Trio.  Not because they were bland or “white bread”, but because they played together as a band, they played songs like “Sweet Virginia Lee”, “Long Road to Redemption” and “Will the Circle be Unbroken” which somehow seemed to be in the story telling vein of the Kingston Trio.   BUT… I don’t think the comparison will work for most people; there are too many negatives when people think of the Kingston Trio.  I think my 20-something friend Maggie said it better, Poor  Old Shine is like the Avett Brothers, but younger and for younger people.The last time I saw them this year was December 28th at the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA.  They provided the music for David Farr’s play “The Heart of Robin Hood.”  But provided the music isn’t quite right; they were also part of the play.  Almost all of the songs came from their new album, but if you didn’t know that before the play started, I am not sure you would have guessed it from the play itself.  The music, the lyrics, the band’s vibe meshed perfectly with the play.  It was magic.

    Poor Old Shine was my favorite “new find” for 2014!

  2. dandsDavid Wax Museum (Calvin Theater w/ Lake Street Dive)  Full confession: David Wax Museum has been a favorite of mine since the 2012 Green River Festival.  Have seem them six times since July 2012 (including four times this year.)  And I wrote a glowing review of their Knock Knock Get Up album on this blog.  So, of course, they are going to be on my top shows of the year list.  But the tricky part is what show to single out.  Every time I see them, they just get better.  But I am going to single out the New Year’s Eve show where they opened for Lake Street Dive at the Calvin Theater on New Year’s Eve.  Unlike when we saw  them open for the Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Calvin in the Spring (see below), this was a dance concert.  We were pressed up at the stage, and they simply nailed it.– “Harder Before It Gets Easier” was the best version I ever heard.
    – “Let Me Rest” was as beautiful as ever, but Suz and David’s voices really came together.  (I love this song, but I would love to talk with the band about it — it is a strange, inverted gospel song.)
    – Suz was on fire with the fiddle.
    – The two new songs they played “Everytime Katie” and “At Least I Tried” are great!  They bode well for the next DWM album!
  3. sweetnothings-200pxGirls, Guns and Glory (Parlor Room)  I had no idea who these guys were before I won tickets to the show (I was going to buy tickets if I hadn’t own them, I swear!)  I wasn’t even sure that they were “guys”, I kind of presumed that they were an all woman band.  Which would have been interesting, because the show they were doing was a celebration/tribute for the 90th Anniversary of Hank Williams Sr.’s birth.  I wanted to go because I thought it would be a nice treat for Carol, not because I was all that into Hank Williams.  But what we found was an butt-kicking, rocking country band from Situate, MA… apparently according to the lead singer, the Country Capital of Massachusetts.  (Certainly the South Shore of Boston must be the Capital with Lori McKenna living in Stoughton.)They made Hank come alive.  They sang the songs with obvious joy, passion and maybe reverence.The last few songs that they did were their own, and I have to admit, I want to hear more.
  4. pura-vida-conspiracy-870_small-150x150Gogol Bordello (Green River Festival)  Gogol Bordello headlined Saturday of the Green River Festival.  More then others years, the band drove a lot of people away, but I also never saw the folks who remained be so into a band.  I stayed, and even though they were challenging, it was a heck-of-a-show!  They were big, loud and brash.  They were a carnival – driven and relentless.  Their album Pura Vida Conspiracy was a family favorite album of the year — especially with our 13 and 10 year old.Forrest (1o years old) came with us to the show;  he loved it.
  5. rushad_200Rushad Eggleston (Parlor Room) Didn’t know what to expect, and wasn’t disappointed.  Rushad apparently played with the band Crooked Still, but I wasn’t into the band at the time.  What I encountered was a fellow dressed like a jester who carried his cello like a guitar with a shoulder strap.  He jumped, he danced, he made up lyrics, it was mesmerizing.  And at the same time I heard some of the most beautiful cello music that I have ever heard; music so beautiful it almost made me cry.If you get the chance to see this guy, suspend your disbelief, and check him out. It will be worth it.
  6. Genuine+Negro+Jig+2010Carolina Chocolate Drops (Calvin Theater with David Wax Museum) This was the third time that I saw CCD (first time was at the Green River Festival in 2012 and at Freshgrass at Mass Moca in 2012.  I was immediately taken with them.  (Even decided that I wanted Snowden’s Jig to be played at my funeral someday.)The Calvin show was great.  Seeing CCD is like going to school, and I mean that in the best way possible.  I always learn something about the traditions, about the instruments or about the history.  I have jokingly said that they should offer a study-guide to accompany their shows.  (Or maybe a MOOC (massively open online course!))I think they are playing the Calvin again in April this year.  Pretty sure I will get tickets for that show!
  7. frankturnerFrank Turner (Calvin Theater) I only learned about Frank Turner this year through our local radio station, WRSI.  Loved his song Recovery, so I got the album, and when I heard about the concert, I got tickets.  The show was great, but it was almost like crashing someone else’s concerts.  It was a huge sing-along.  It seemed that everyone knew all the words.  The crowd in front of the stage was big, and there was even some moshing going on.I am psyched to learn more of Frank’s back catalog!

Now go out there in 2014, and support live music.



10 Time Saving Tips from David Pogue

I have to confess I did not know a lot of these time-saving tips from David Pogue’s TED Talk.  It was a well spent six minutes:

Update on Bluehost!

To get a free educator account you need to get an access code.  You can contact  Vartan Quzounian at Bluehost.  Please indicate the state that your institution is located. These folks are very customer focused!  I like it.


Spoke Bluehost Banner

I attended the Sloan-C Emerging Technologies conference in Las Vegas week, and met a really cool vendor: Spoke! by Bluehost.  Get this: for faculty, they are offering a unique domain, and a robust web hosting service for free!  

I went and registered www.brooke-debock.com.  There is not much there now, but I am planning to implementing some of my teaching and learning support materials there!

Thanks, Bluehost!

UPDATE: You can request a free educator code by contacting Vartan Quzounian at Bluehost.  Please indicate the state that your institution is located.


Cry or Dance….

“We can cry about it
or we can dance about it.
We were made to be awesome!”

Thanks Laurie!

Hello Southern New Hampshire University!


I am pleased to let all my friends know that I have a new job.  I have been offered the position of Senior Instructional Designer at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).  Originally I wasn’t going to even apply for the job, because it was further away from home than I wanted, but after I interviewed over the phone, I suspected that this was going to be a good fit.  After I interviewed in person on Tuesday and saw their operations, I knew that I wanted to be associated with this organization.

Will Brooke-deBockThe position leverages many of skills that I developed working for Kaplan University: working knowledge of large scale course development, teaching/coaching/training skills, practical nuts-and-bolts knowledge of key rapid elearning development tools, and solid, applicable instructional design theory and instincts.

But you know what is really great?  It will be great to work for an organization that is growing, that is committed to keeping costs down for students*, and that has been recognized as the 12th most innovative business (all organizations NOT just school) in 2012 by Fast Company magazine.  Not to mention that SNHU being serially mentioned as one of the “Best College to Work For” according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.

* Based on publicly available information, the tuition costs for an online Bachelor’s degree varies greatly.  Here is a sample:

  • University of Phoenix = $70,200
  • Kaplan University = $66,780
  • UPenn World Campus = 60,480 ($504 per credit, part-time)
  • UMass Online = $44,400
  • Southern New Hampshire University = $38,400

Need feedback: Games and Simulations

050710_will_ilsmallHey everyone,

Interesting things are happening for me in my early post-Kaplan days.  I’ll fill you in on more details in the upcoming days and weeks.  But, what I wanted to talk about was Games and Simulations in the Classroom.  This is a course that I will be developing and teaching for the Graduate School of Marlboro College.  We were thinking about launching it in the summer, but we’re putting feelers out now to see if there is an interest to actually run a group in January.

Let me know what you think by either putting a comment in below or sending me an email at wdebock (at) gmail.com.  Let me know if you think there would be much interest in it generally, and whether you might be interested in signing up for the course yourself.

Here is a rough draft description of the course:

Games and Simulations

Integrate games and simulations into the classroom and instructional design. You don’t have to be a programmer to effectively teach students how to make games and simulations. This course will focus on how to teach programming, math, problem solving, analytical thinking, software engineering and math skills. Students will learn how to make simple games themselves with tools such as Scratch, Code Academy, and Wolfram Alpha and others. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal is one of our central texts.

Format: Online with weekly synchronous sessions and other work in between.

 Instructor: Will deBock.

Credits: 3 Graduate Credits.

All feedback is welcome,