I'm not going to go so far as to trash John Diliberto just because Echoes focuses on more melodic and "musical" material than most ambient. I mean, look at the emphasis on Enya, Dead Can Dance, R. Carlos Nakai, and Loreena McKennitt on his playlists over the years. Certainly more of that kind of material than the sounds we discuss here. It's a bit like being pissed off that American Idol doesn't have enough ambient music on it. It's a fairly different focus that only occasionally crosses over into ambient territory.
At times, Echoes has been quite supportive of artists like Robert Rich, Jeff Pearce, and a few others we'd claim as our own. On the other hand, when we mail a Hypnos promo CD to Echoes, or Hearts of Space radio for that matter, we realize that if it's not on the melodic, structured, "conventionally musical" side of things, it probably isn't going to get played.
We had a great time at Robert's show last night, by the way. I imagine Robert would have preferred a larger crowd, but it wasn't too small, and I had the sense everyone really enjoyed it. Robert's good about chatting with people before and after the show, and it seemed that a lot of people in the audience knew each other. I expected several individuals to be there who didn't or couldn't make it for one reason or another, but we saw Phil Derby (the Electroambient Space reviewer/blogger) and Howard Givens of Spotted Peccary, along with various other familiar faces. Lena overcame her cold and was able to come along, and really enjoyed it.
As to the big debate about prerecorded materials, Robert's performance came off about as I would have expected. Undeniably there are prerecorded elements, but to me it never felt like miming or karaoke. A sufficient amount of what the audience heard was performed live, and Robert always kept busy, not only playing various instruments but also tweaking the mix and his modular synth along the way. It helps that the lights and video display were interesting and complemented the music, and also that the sound quality of the performance was very good.
I would definitely recommend seeing Robert live to anybody who has a chance, on this tour's last stop in Seattle, or on subsequent tours.