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Manny Tau Interview
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Welcome to our first ever Strada-Sphere Radio Interview.We have chosen Stickist.com webmaster and all around cool guy Manny Tau for our maiden voyage.His Authorized Stickist.com site is the busiest Stick related site on the web (after Stick.com) and he has done it all without any sponsorship and completely profit free. Those of you who may not know Manny outside of his Stickist.com activities will enjoy his personable candor and humble attitude.


SSR: Tell us a little about yourself.
**MT: Hi Juan.Let's see, a little about myself. I'm Chinese,born in Queens, New York City. I actually spoke Mandarin with a Yiddish accent until about age 12, losing the accent after moving to Southern California around age 7. I'm married to a wonderful wife, Ann, and we currently live in San Clemente, CA. For the "serious" stuff, I'm a clinical and forensic psychologist specialized in threat assessments and active threat management (NoThreat.com), with the majority of my clientèle in the private, corporate and government arenas throughout the United States. Some of my interests involve various information technologies, especially with the Internet, and of course, with music. I started out playing electric bass in high school, and had dabbled with guitar and keyboards that eventually lead me to the Chapman Stick! I remember well my old college roommate back in the '80's who played a Stick in his band, and I was totally fascinated with it. I didn't have the time or resources then to pursue this any further, and had even stopped playing the bass due to all the college activities. Some years ago, I saw Tony Levin playing the Stick, and it re-sparked an interest. Then ran into Daniel Kane in San Francisco, up close and personal, playing his Stick in the popular Pier 39 area. That was it. I started to seriously research the Chapman Stick and Stick playing artists.

Well, to make a long story short, on April 12, 2002, I picked up my Stick (#1991 Padauk, 10-string, standard tuning) at Emmett's place, then later that night with Ann and friends, saw Tom Griesgraber/Agent 22 and the Tony Levin Band at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano ... that was a memorable Friday!

SSR: Stickist.com has such a fluid feel and it is very well put together. It is clearly a labor of love and it shows. It's my homepage and has been for a while. What inspired you to start a website devoted to the Chapman Stick and all of it's players and how much time would you say you spend on it each month?

**MT: Geez, when I started researching about the Stick and had all sorts of notes, URL's, graphics, sound files, etc, I wanted to organize it all along with having access to these when I'm out of town on a forensic case. So I created a single web page for myself on 4-22-02 with the accumulated info. I posted onto the Stickwire listserve (Vance Gloster's labor of love) about this page of Stick info,and asked folks to pitch in if they'd like. Well, in a week, the amount of new info grew tremendously, so I scooped up the domain Stickist.com and the site was born. Stickist.com has had and continues to receive a lot of visitors, with lots of great contributions from Stickists worldwide. It's been great corresponding with Stickists along with maintaining a site that continues to be a pleasure to grow. Maintaining the site became a really great way of clearing my head from my forensic work. So I guess Stickist.com was my way of having a public repository of my notes about Sticks and Stickists. How much time have I spent and continue to spend on the site? Way too much and not enough! Stickist.com started out as simple html pages. But content from my research and contributions from others grew so rapidly, that it became a navigational and maintenance nightmare. I was also having problems with my webhost and wasn't able to add various features to enhance the site, so I decided to get my own webserver! I ended up purchasing a Sun server running Linux OS and Apache webserver, dedicated a high-speed line to it, and finally had the features and "root" access I wanted to take the site to the next level. Oh yeah, it's located in my house, none of this co-location stuff. I wanted immediate 24/7 access, along with the abilities to install various apps and security measures to enhance the features and integrity of the server. I do all of my own tech support on the server, along with having a paid expert on-hand to take care of things over my head that I can't troubleshoot myself. An expensive way to go, but it has been definitely well worth it to have my own private "digital playground."

To deal with the rapidly growing site, I ended up starting over from scratch (over 40 web pages of info!) and implemented a content management system (Post Nuke) utilizing the PHP scripting language. This site rebuild took about a week, but well worth it since now adding graphics, content and expanding its navigation became tons easier and a real time saver. And the big plus, I was able to implement various user features like a forum, links to websites, and articles so Stickists can contribute directly onto the site. Being such a gearhead, like many of the Stickists out there, this was a natural progression for me.

The next project, when I've got time, is to work out video/music streaming so I can use all of the videos and music files I've created and obtained from Stickists, to be available on this site. Many of my video files are huge in size, and trying to figure out the best way to stream it on the web without bogging down the resources of my webserver (even though its got a Pentium III 1.26 GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM) and hitting the upper limits of the dedicated DSL line's up speed. I couldn't justify having a full blown T1 line (over $1000/month) coming into my house, so I've got a fractional T1 with 256-384K up speed at $65/month, which has worked out well so far. I am looking into the benefits of upgrading to a 384-416K up speed line for $100/month, as I prepare for video streaming. Remember, this is all a labor of love, and expenses are all out-of-pocket. On the other end of things, I see that 83% of the site visitors have broadband connections according the poll on the site. I was worried about the site being so graphic intensive and slow to download, but this is clearly not an issue with the large majority of visitors. Geez, I would hate to visit my site with a dial-up connection.

SSR: Your site is "authorized" by Stick Enterprises. How much input have Emmett and Yuta Chapman had?

**MT: As I started my Stick playing learning curve and continual development of Stickist.com, I stayed in contact with Emmett and Yuta. They were both really tickled with my site and with NSStickist.com (I started to also become very interested in the NS/Stick). Emmett viewed my site as a welcomed addition to the Stick community since it focused solely on this community. The spirit and intent of Stickist.com (and NSStickist.com) was to have a web-based playground for Chapman Stick afficionados, and never to make the site a business venture by selling products or have banner advertisers to offset its costs. This is still the mission of site. Though I have added a link to an account I set up at CafeShops.com which sells Stickist.com apparel at my cost, thinking it would be a value-add for those inclined.Emmett and I viewed my site as a companion to his site; Stick.com encompassing the professional aspects of his business, and Stickist.com being the playground for the Stick community; it was a natural pair. I discussed with Emmett about being an authorized Chapman Stick site, wanting to keep it homogeneous to the Stick and not have any banner advertising, and especially not generating any revenues and taking away from his business, as this was important to me to not negatively affect his business since I am anavid supporter of Stick Enterprises and all of Emmett and Yuta's unceasing efforts and support of the Stick community.So after lots of sweat equity and having a time proven site, Emmett and I embarked on setting up an agreement on becoming authorized. This was awesome! We worked together on how best to keep my site homogenous to the Stick, use of his trademarks and copyrighted materials to maintain their integrity, and keeping in contact for any quality assurance issues. I highly welcomed his thoughts and approaches, since we were on the same page with all of the issues. Emmett had entrusted me to continue on with my approaches as I seem fit since he was 100% supportive of what I had created and had accomplished. There are some informational overlaps with his Stick.com site,and I was extremely pleased in being able to use his material/content (with Glenn Poorman as his fantastic webmaster) freely and with authorization to create an overlap between our sites since they take different approaches about his Stick, mine being more "grass roots." Emmett and Yuta have been absolutely wonderful in their support of Stickist.com. The site continues to be only about the Stick and related topics, and does not nor ever will have any banner advertisers or sponsors, or generate revenues. I love having a "clean" site and being able to provide a vehicle for Stickists to share thoughts, promote their music and websites, and especially showcase their graphics. I believe there are over 500 photos/graphics on the site, many from Stickists, and it keeps on growing! The Humor area of the Gallery is filled with some interesting graphics, especially those from Paul Symanski and his versions with some of the "classics."

SSR: How long have you been playing Stick?

**MT: I've been learning to play the Stick since April 2002, and try to put in at least an hour a day ... which unfortunately is typically now just a few hours a week if I'm lucky. My work and various professional activitieskeep me extremely busy. The Stick and its related activities are a much-needed solace from my forensic work. The FBI's Behavioral Sciences Unitkeeps in mind a quote from Nietzsche, "Whoever fights monsters should see toit that in the process he does not become a monster. And when you look long into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you." On a lighter note, I see myself having a lifelong passion with the Stick and learning how to play it in a manner it deserves.

SSR: Who are your favorite Stickists?

**MT: I've been fortunate to have attended a Stick seminar (2002 Southern CA Stick Seminar, Oceanside) taught by Greg Howard and Tom Griesgraber. They were awesome and I learned a lot, and they continue to be some of my favorite Stickists. Tony Levin is also a favorite, which he gave me permission to include on my site his story, "In the Beginning" from his funny book of anecdotes, "Beyond the Bass Clef." I've also had the fortune to meet other Stickists and watch them perform live and check out their style and approaches, which has also been a learning experience! And of course, I have to mention my all time favorite Stickist and friend, Don Schiff !

Let's see, to be a little more specific about these favorite Stickists:
Greg Howard: He is a passionate Stickist and it comes across in his style and music. In my eyes, he's a true master of the Stick, and is humble,friendly and always willing to help out fellow Stickists. I consider him the Ambassador of the Stick.
Tom Griesgraber: I consider him an expert technician on the Stick. His playing style is unique, incorporates the use of ALL 10 fingers, and produces soundscapes that are haunting, alluring, and melodic. His expertise with bass really comes across in his playing, which is really attractive to me since bass was my first love. Tom is a very friendly and humble person,and his music and techniques are astounding!
Don Schiff: A wonderful person and awesome NS/Stick and Stick player! I've had the fortune to befriend Don, who has a long history as a professional session musician. His stories and musings are hilarious! Don is amazing on the NS/Stick and is constantly expanding its boundaries. It is amazing to watch him tap, pluck, pick, strum, slide (with a keychain fob!), and dual chord on the NS! His grooves are powerful and it is amazing to hear the music and sounds he produces from his NS. Don is simply a great musician that many know and love; I can't say enough great things about him.

SSR: Do you get out to play often?

**MT: Not at all. I still consider myself a beginner and don't feel I have anything yet to offer, but working on it. I do have a fantasy to play at a local bistro for kicks and grins when I have a couple of sets I can competently offer. I still have a long ways to go, but loving the process.

SSR: What's your setup like?

**MT: Hehe, I had a little portable Pignose from the old days when I was tinkering with the guitar. I plugged my Stick into it when I brought it home from Emmett's, and it sounded terrible. Within 24 hours, I picked up a small 30 watt Crate bass amp that had 2 channels. This was a start, but I quickly grew out of this (remember, gearhead). Now I have a 200 watt SWR Workingman's 15 bass amp with an additional 15" woofer/tweeter cabinet. Feeding into the amp: Furman power strip, Rane SP13 Stick preamp, Boss VF-1 synth (melody side), Boss SE-70 synth (bass side), and a SansAmp Bass Driver DI (bass side) for when I want a warm tube sound on the bass. I've included a before and after photo. My current rig was heavily influenced by posts on Stickwire, and especially info from Glenn Poorman's site at DetroitStick.com. I'm really happy with rig, though my skills don't do it justice. Future plans include incorporating MIDI, along with getting aMIDI'd NS/Stick. Though I do have my eyes on the newer StickXBL ...

SSR: Given the tremendous response to your site, have 'ya thought about putting together a CD featuring Stickist.com members?

**MT: I've thought about this, but this is over my head (for now) in mastering and producing a compilation CD of Stickists. Tom Cram has done this, so I'll defer to the experts and Emmett at Stick.com. Besides, I wantto keep the mission of Stickist.com to be non-revenues generating so I can maintain a site "clean" from any commercial activities.

SSR: Christmas is right around the corner. What Stick goodies would you like to find under your tree from Santa this year?

**MT: Actually, I don't have any Stick related goodies on my Christmas list. I'm set for now, with skills being my limitation with my equipment. Lots to learn! But, I do have a strong inkling for a NS/Stick ... I have convinced my wife that this all is still cheaper and safer than a Harley ;) But if I were to have something Stick for Christmas, I'd love to have "a solid week of private Stick tutoring from Tom Griesgraber." OK, now that you got me seriously thinking about this, I would love to find a quality looper under the Xmas tree. LoopersDelight.com and the Stickwire listserve have been excellent resources for me about looping.

SSR: And now the final and perhaps the most revealing question of them all:
What song from the following list would you like to hear Greg Howard cover on his next album and why?

A) I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
B) I Write the Songs by Barry Manilow
C) It's Not Unusual by Tom Jones
D) Danke Schoen by Wayne Newton
**MT:It's gotta be "It's Not Unusual." It's got some riffs that I believe Greg can really go off on with a "jazz" rendition and some "enhanced" bass grooves. What a kick it would be! I don't think I could handle "I Will Survive" or anything disco on the Stick =:-0 I might be able to handle "I Write the Songs" or "Danke Schoen," but only if Greg had a highly progressive rendition with some ethereal looping to make them palatable.
On a final note with this interview, I just want to say thank you for this opportunity in being able to contribute to your site and your efforts, in reciprocation of your ongoing contributions to Stickist.com. The Chapman Stick continues to amaze me, surpassed only by the wonderful Stick community! Stickist.com continues to be fueled by the passion and intelligence of the Stick community, and my heartfelt appreciation goes out to the Chapman Stick afficionados!

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