Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Bitter End Live Internet Feed


~ I have written about the New York City venue, the Bitter End several times on this blog, the most recent being just last month in The Bitter End - Loud and Live... In that post I wrote about the venue's live internet feed and talked about three of the many bands I have seen since I made a daily habit of watching the live stream, and the endless array of great music that passes through the venue's doors.

I have been watching the nightly gigs via the embedded link on the Bitter End website. However, a couple of days ago I inadvertently discovered that I could embed the video player into a page on this blog. Further, while the dimensions of the player were set to 320x240 pixels on the Bitter End site, I thought I would see if the dimensions could be set a little larger, and much to my delight the player was able to be enlarged without a problem. That enlarged video player is now sitting at the top of this post with the viewing window set to 560x315 pixels.

The real question is: can anything be seen in the window of the embedded player? If the answer as you read this is, Yes, that's great. If the answer is, No, read on.

Checking time zones is easy with
your smartphone's clock app.
Depending on where you live and when you try to access the live feed, there may or may not be anything happening at the Bitter End. The most obvious reason of course, is that the venue is closed, or in the process of closing for the night. On the other hand, the venue may be open but bands have yet to begin performing (or they may still be going through a sound check). To be sure of seeing bands play, your best option is to work out time differences between New York City and your home location.

Happily this is not as hard as you might think, since the clock app on pretty much all modern smartphones allows you to set up and see multiple time zones at a glance. You can even set the alarm function to buzz and remind you to log in to the venue.

The line-up of performers playing at the Bitter End is posted online, often several weeks in advance of a band's performance, and can be accessed via the venue's Bitter End Schedule. On most nights the doors open at 7:00 p.m. New York Time, with the music starting soon after. On weekends, especially on Saturday's, the party begins much earlier with an Acoustic Open Mic running from 1:00 p.m to 6:00 p.m. After a short break the nightly event kicks off at the usual time.

On any given night, up to six bands take to the stage, and sometimes there are more. If you, like me, don't know one band from the next, don't worry. As I wrote in The Bitter End - Loud and Live..., one of the real pleasures of tuning in is the sheer serendipitous joy of discovering a new band that manages to create a sense of excitement and discovery despite the thousands of miles that potentially separate you from the venue. Some of the acts may only be thought average, others are more than passable, but the cream of the crop are outstanding.

It is a rare night when I am not delighted to have discovered a new soloist; a fine trio or quartet; or even a large group such as the Bump City ensemble which packed the stage with eleven musicians and singers on a recent Tuesday evening.

If you have access to the bandwidth and a reasonably fast internet connection, I urge you to check out the live stream, sit back, and enjoy the show. If you like one or more of the scheduled acts, I would also urge you to do as I do and search for the performers online, and send them a personal message letting them know you have enjoyed their setlist. You will almost certainly get a reply from surprised and delighted band members, and make some new friends in the process.
* * * 
PROBLEMS and ISSUES
Unfortunately, the embedded live stream from the Bitter End will not be viewable if you are trying to watch proceedings using Apple or Android devices such as iPhones/iPads, or smartphones and tablets with Android operating systems. My Galaxy S7 superimposes the words "This plug-in is not supported" over an empty rectangle where the video should be visible. Until manufacturers code this feature into their portable devices the only way to watch the live stream is from a laptop or desktop computer. However, if you are able to watch the feed using a tablet or smartphone please leave a comment on this post.

Finally, for reasons I am unable to ascertain, the live stream may simply be unavailable. On these occasions the video window will display the message: stream not found: musicsmalive. I have sent messages to both the Bitter End and to the company that provides the coding for the embedded player, but neither have provided an explanation. In fact, neither of them have even bothered to acknowledge my messages.

However, from experience, I have found there is nothing to be done but wait--sometimes for several days--before the live feed inexplicably returns as if nothing had happened.

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