Archive for the ‘Andrea Lee’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: SESAME STREET-Tiny Desk Concert #856 (June 10, 2019).

Yes, Sesame Street.  Not the OTHER puppet band Fragile Rock, the actual Sesame Street characters.

It’s a convergence of NPR and PBS!

And there they are at the Tiny Desk: Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Rosita, Abby Cadabby and Cookie Monster, all singing about a sunny day and how everything is A-OK. The Sesame Street crew — including Elmo, Grover and other surprise guests — visited NPR’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., to celebrate Sesame Street’s 50 years of teaching the world its A-B-Cs, its 1-2-3s, how to be kind and how to be proud, all while spreading love and joy.

Everyone knows Sesame Street, but it’s also worth talking about how awesome it is.

Sesame Street has won more major awards than any other group to play the Tiny Desk, including 11 Grammys and 192 Emmys. There was a lot of love as the cast of Sesame Street got to meet NPR hosts and newscasters, who in turn got to geek out meeting their favorite Muppets and the creators behind the felt and fur. These folks include Matt Vogel, Sesame Street’s puppet captain and performer, and music director Bill Sherman.

The Muppets get through six songs in 15 minutes (no soloing here).

Count von Count and the NPR kids count us down: 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1!

Andwhat Sesame Street show could begin without “The Sesame Street Theme (Sunny Days)” (Rosita & Elmo, Ernie & Bert, Abby Cadabby, and Big Bird and Cookie Monster).

Then it’s on to Grover singing “People In Your Neighborhood” with Rosita.  Grover oberves a person making sounds with a soundy-making thingy.  Rosita is there to help learn about musicians.  Then a Reporter comes out to talk about what she does.  Finally Bob Boilen himself comes out (Grover: “who might you be sir, you do not appear to be doing anything.”  Bob: “I’m the producer, Grover.”  Grover: “Oh well that explains it”).

I even got to sing with Grover. And I’ll also say, on a personal note, that this may well have been the hardest-working, most dedicated group of performers I’ve ever worked with. I’m so proud of these Muppets and so happy to celebrate all that they’ve meant to the world for these 50 years.

Then they sang two new songs (imagine them having new sings in the last fifty years).

“What I Am” sung by Abby, Ernie and Elmo, a sweet song if ever there was one.

There’s even some full-sized Muppets in the audience (although the kids don’t seem that excited to be near them).

And then it’s Bert’s turn.  But Bert’s kinda shy and is nervous.  Thankfully Big Bird is there to sing a song together (and then confuse the proceedings): I

Its simple.  We’re gonna sing a song and we’re gonna sing it all together and i’ll start singing the song and then they’ll sing then song when I sing what I sing in the song and the you come in singing the song after i sing what i gonna sing when the song starts and we’ll sing the song.

There’s even more fun when Big Bird sings a long high note and Bert says: really?

Cookie monster wants a cookie, but it’s time for the medley” “Whats the name of that song?” (Elmo) then “Rubber Ducky (Ernie) and “C is fr Cookie” (Cookie Monster).  Then Big Bird sing a line before a funky piano and bass riff for “12345, 678910, 11 12… TWELVE!” (my personal favorite).

It segues into perennial happy song “Sing.”

Then Oscar comes on and tells everyone to scram.

[READ: June 4, 2019] “The Children”

This story reads like a fairy tale.  It has a slow inevitability in the pacing and real lack of urgency.

It is called an adventure of lost heirs.  It runs concurrently with a series of beheadings that were happening on Anjavavy island.  The story is quick to point out that the beheadings do not impact the story, they are just mentioned for context.

It begins in the early 2000’s on the island.  Giustinia was visiting Shay in Anjavavy for two weeks before heading off to Madagascar.  They are staying at Shay’s house which is mostly empty.  Shay lives on the island for part of the year and in Italy for the rest of the year.  Shay’s husband will be returning soon.

Giustinia is a poet and a critic  She and Shay became friends when Shay translated some of her essays for an American magazine.   Her family has ancient roots in Tuscany and has an unconscious regal air.

Shay hopes news of the beheadings doesn’t reach them during the fortnight. (more…)

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ny928SOUNDTRACK: COMMON-Tiny Desk Concert #569 (at the White House–October 4, 2016).

comonFor the first time in Tiny Desk history, they moved the desk from Bob’s corner of the office to The White House.  Not a bad move.

Boilen explains:

the White House called and said they were putting on an event called South by South Lawn, a day-long festival filled with innovators and creators from the worlds of technology and art, including music, we jumped at the chance to get involved. We chose Common as the performer and the White House library as the space.

I don’t know much about Common.  And, I don’t know what his album tracks are like.  But for this concert, Boilen explains:

Common put together a special six-piece band of close friends that includes the great Robert Glasper, with his eloquent and delicate touch, on keyboards and Derrick Hodge, whose music spans from hip-hop to folk and has made a big imprint on the world of jazz, on bass. Common also asked his longtime friend and collaborator Bilal to sing on two songs.

I didn’t know his lyrics, but I found his songs to be thought-provoking and smart. Perfect for the White House library.  But that is apparently what Common (who used to be known as Common Sense) is all about: “morality and responsibility continue to play significant roles in his songs”

Common plays four songs: three brand new songs, along with one classic, “I Used To Love H.E.R.”

“I Used To Love H.E.R.” is a very clever ode to hip-hop in which he uses a woman as a metaphor for the genre. It’s really well done.  “Letter To The Free” is about how slavery has not really been abolished–it has just turned into mass incarceration.  “The Day The Women Took Over” is an ode to women and certainly sounds like a song that was written for the woman who was then in the White House and the woman who should have been our next president.  “Little Chicago Boy” is a tribute to his father–a man that Common has always respected.

Musically, the group sounds great–a light, jazzy feel with some great flute from his sister and perfect playing from the rest of the band.

The blurb ends

Common told us that he’d been invited to the White House many times before, including by Michelle Obama for a poetry reading back in 2011, but he was thrilled by the prospect of performing his music during Barack Obama’s final months as president.

And with the Great Liar presumably heading to the White House, this may be the last time any musician I’d want to hear will appear there again.

[READ: March 10, 2016] “Three”

This story was told in three parts with a narrative bookend holding it together.  I had to reread the “introduction” after reading the whole story to see what an interestingly crafted tale this was.

The intro begins “This is an account of three people who died.  Quite recently, one after the other….  They weren’t important, as the wide world defines ‘importance.'”

And then we meet the three people who all lived in this provincial town in the north of Italy.  She says they share no real connection either, except “purity of spirit.”

The first person was her mother-in-law Ombretta.  She was never intrusive to the narrator and even though the narrator was her son’s second wife, there was never any weirdness about that either.  There was a big celebration for her 90th birthday.  Soon after, she took ill.

And this is when the narrator realized how much she had fallen in love with Nonna Ombretta.  And as part of her summation of Ombretta’s death we learn some interesting details about her. (more…)

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