My brother called earlier this week to let me know that the Pat McGee Band, a band he introduced me to, has a new album “Save Me” and a new EP “Drive By Romance” with four live tracks. I picked up both on Napster last week. Also, they will be in Seattle on May 4th. Most of the bands my brother introduces me too are local to the east coast, so I rarely get to see them.
If you want to know how good Pat McGee is live, you can head over to the Internet Archive where they have archived about 140 live shows of Pat with and without his band. Pat McGee is “trade friendly” which means he lets his fans tape and trade his live concerts. Other artists up on the Live Music Archive include the Grateful Dead (over 300 shows!), Little Feat and Toad the Wet Sprocket.
The only issue with the the Live Music Archive is that the songs are mostly in a lossless compression format called “shorten”. Unfortunately, there’s no way to play shorten files in Windows Media Player (as far as I know – there is a plugin for WinAmp). What I really want is to convert these files to Windows Media format using the Lossless codec. No such utility exists, though I did find a free command-line utility to convert shorten files to uncompressed wav files. So I hacked up a little batch program to convert each file from shorten to wav and then to WMA lossless. Turns out that the WMA lossless versions of the files are about half the size of the shorten versions, so I get both playback convenience as well as a non-trivial space savings. I’d post the batch file, except that when I said I hacked it up, I really mean it. Hard-coded paths, implicit assumptions, bad code, the works. I’m going to take another pass at it, then I’ll post it.