Archive for the ‘Dance’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: LEE ANN WOMACK-Tiny Desk Concert #711 (February 26, 2018).

Obviously I’ve heard of Lee Ann Womack.  I don’t know much about her, except that I’ve heard of her, like a lot, and that she’s a country music legend.

I wasn’t expcecting to like this Tiny Desk, but I really like the music of the first song, “All the Trouble.”  It’s rocking, the violin (Luke Bullais really moody and it sets a great tone.  But man, I just do not buy this lyric from her.

If you’re a country singer and I’ve heard of you, you certainly ain’t got all the trouble you’re ever gonna need, that’s for sure.  She may sound sincere singing those lines, but I’m not convinced at all.

My favorite part of the song was when the guitar (Jonathan Trebing) and violin played off of each other using the main riff from Phish’ “The Song I Heard The Ocean Sing.”

I also feel like she missed a great opportunity to flip some of the cliched lyrics of the song (and there are many) by making this one little twist:

If you got some good news give me a chance
if you’ve got some good love just put it in my (now, she says “hands,” but the better rhyme is clearly “pants”).

I also find her vowels to be very troubling.  The way she sings the word “more” is rather unsettling to me.

I was rather taken with the first verse of the song “Mama Lost Her Smile.”  I thought it was personal and thoughtful, but I feel like it was ruined somewhat by the overuse of the title phrase (I didn’t realize it was the title when I heard the line

I ain’t got much to go on / just a box of photographs / but every picture tells a story (ugh her vowel) and every story has two halves /
I keep on separating in before and after piles and somewhere in the middle is where mama lost her smile

I thought that was pretty great, but the overuse of it took away the specialness.

And then this chorus.  Why change from “you” to “we” it feels antagonistic.

you don’t take pictures of the bad times / we only want to remember the sunshine
but we don’t live in pictures this is real life / and they’re about as different as black and white

That last line was just painfully obvious.

Of the final song, “Hollywood” she says it is “one of my favorite things I’ve ever written or recorded.  I just like the vibe.  It kind of takes you to a different place.”  Wow, it is so dark, I can;t believe she’s so happy with it because it’s such a bummer song about a couple who have fallen out of love.

i ask you if you mean it you say yes.  I knew you would.
either i’m a fool for askin’ or you belong in Hollywood.


The blurb says that although  she is massively popular and has had commercial success and widespread recognition, “these days, she’s working on the fringes of the genre.”

I find that hard to believe, but it’s not my genre.  The rest of the band is Dave Dunseath (drums) and Lex Price (bass).

[READ: February 27, 2018] “Seeing Ershadi”

This story starts with the narrator talking about her work as a dancer.  And while that sets the tone somewhat, it really doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the story.  Except that while she was injured she watched a film called “Taste of Cherry” by the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami.

I didn’t realize that this was a real film while reading the story.  I have just looked it up and it is very real (and Roger Ebert hated it).  The narrator of this story is mesmerized by the story.

The film opens with the actor Homayoun Ershadi’s face.  Not much happens in the film (which is what Ebert hated) but the narrator is mesmerized by Ershadi.  He is driving an SUV looking for someone.  When he finally picks someone up, the man, a solider, eventually flees the car.  It turns out that Ershadi (as Mr Badii) is looking for someone to bury him.  Badii plans to kill himself and wants to ensure that someone will bury his body.  Suicide is forbidden in the Quran, so obviously no one will be an accomplice to this. (more…)


Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Vegas 96 (2007).

This show was recorded at the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas, Nevada, on December 6, 1996.  The set also includes a DVD.

The show has a great amount of classic songs, a few big rarities, some cool covers and a whole lot of surprises.

Wilson has a really rocking beginning (everyone is going nuts during the can you still have any fun) until just before the “blap boom” part when it slows to a halt with about 20 seconds of squalling feedback.  Then they launch into an excellent non-jamming version of Frank Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia.”  It is followed by a fast romp through “Poor Heart”—one of the fastest I’ve heard.  It ends really noisily and then segues into a funky jam that’s mostly keyboard.  After 5 minutes it resolves into “2001,” which also ends noisily with scratchy guitars that segue into a very fast “Llama.”

This has been a simply rip-roaring show thus far.  And then they settle down for a 26-minute “You Enjoy Myself.”  The “Boy Man” section is very funky and the following jam stays funky with a lot of high-pitched bass soloing from Mike and a lot of percussion thrown in as well.  The song ends with a vocal jam but instead of doing weird sounds and screams, trey starts singing “doh doh doh donuts, I like donuts.”

I tend to think of “YEM” as set-enders (since that’s my experience with them), but this is still mid-set and they follow up with a synth and piano version of “Cars Trucks Buses” which seems like it’s going to morph into “Kung” but instead it becomes a loud, brash “Down with Disease.”  The set ends with a rocking “Frankenstein.”  I tend to thing they play this and “YEM” a lot because they seem to be on a ton of official live recordings.

Set 2 opens with a funky “Julius” (a song I always assume is a cover but which isn’t), and a nice version of “Sparkle” (with a super fast “laughing laughing” section at the end).  “Mike’s Song” runs about 10 minutes with a really noisy middle section and then segues into “Simple.”  There’s a lengthy piano section that turns into a rocking jam that goes on for quite a while (the whole song is over 18 minutes).  It winds down eventually and returns to a lot of piano.  It is followed by a noisy and raucous “Harry Hood” that feel really raw.  The song is 15 minutes and there’s a long solo before the “you can feel good” part.

Then comes a big, 11 minute “Weekapaug Groove.”  About midway through the jam the whole band stops dramatically and perfectly. They run through a bit again and stop perfectly again (except for an extra snare hit).  It’s amazing how tight they are.  The end grows very quiet as the band prepares for a quiet a capella “Sweet Adeline” (it’s so quiet all you hear is the crowd shushing everyone–this is the major downside to them doing these barbershop songs).  They come out of that with a set-ending, totally rocking cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times Bad Times,” with Fish singing the “I know what it means to be alone” part.

The encore proves to be about 35 minutes long.  There are lots of guests and surprises.  And the band walks through a version of the “Harpua” story.  Ler and Les from Primus come out to start the song.  The chorus is done in half time—which is rather unsettling.  The story leads to Les singing Don Bowman’s “Wildwood Weed.”  I had assumed he made up but he obviously didn’t.  Then it’s back to “Harpua.”   In this version of the story, Jimmy walks to Vegas with his cat Poster Nutbag (Trey tells everyone to put all their money on 17).  As they get “closer to Vegas” they hear voices singing “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart” (a song by Patsy Montana).  It is sung by the Yodeling Cowgirls.  (There’s some “Happy Trails” in there as well).  Then there’s more of the “Harpua” story and as they approach Las Vegas they see Four Elvises.  Which leads to a singoff of “Suspicious Minds.”  This contest was between four Elvis impersonators with Fish joining in at the end.  Unmentioned (as far as I can tell) are John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (on backing vocals) and actor Courtney Gains (on percussion). And then everyone launches into a wild “Suzy Greenberg” including the Elvises.  During the jam at the end, one of the Elvises turns the song into “Susie Q.”

This is one of my favorite shows.  The inclusion of the Primus guys and the crazy version of “Harpua” is just spectacular.  And by the end, everyone is having a great time.

[READ: April 1, 2017] “Las Gaviotas”

I enjoyed the way this story seemed really unsettled, just like its protagonist.

Finley is a in a relationship with Neil.  But she is currently hanging out at Brace’s apartment.  Brace is Neil’s old roommate.  Neil is in the other room with Brace’s girlfriend Alice.  They are all pretty drunk.

Brace is everything that Neil is not: he is big–not fat, just big–with a voice and presence to match.  And while Finley loves Neil–she keeps telling us that–there’s something about Brace (that name!) that she is drawn to.  She also hates Brace’s girlfriend Alice who has “otherworldly beauty.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

may16 SOUNDTRACK: FANFARE CIOCARLIA-Tiny Desk Concert #335 (February 8, 2014).

fanfareFanfare Ciocarlia (pronounced “fan-FAR-eh cho-car-LEE-ah”) is a 12 piece Balkan brass band from the Romanian village of Zece Prăjini.  They are frenetic and wild, who knows what they are singing, but boy are they having fun playing.

On the left side we have four men in black all with big brass instruments–sousaphones and baritone horns and the like.  On the right side we have eight men in red shirts.  The far right have trumpets and saxophones or and down the middle are the percussionists and the singer.  And when they play, everyone is in motion, including the audience.

“Sirba De La Monastirea” is a super fast instrumental–the tempo is insane with the red shirted guys’ fingers flying up and down the horns.  It’s practically like a punk klezmer song.  Hard to dance to but impossible to sit still during.

“Lume, Lume” has vocals. It opens with a fast section but the song slows down to some gentle washes of bass horns–slow and mournful.  After some verses, a sax solo (which sounds like a clarinet for some reason) plays over the horns.  But once the solo is over, the song picks up with a clap-along that grows faster and faster until it once again hits breakneck speed.

“Asfalt Tango” opens with a lot of bass–low horns and drums.  And then that sax/clarinet comes in and wails around.  There are times when the song sounds somewhat mariachi (especially with the red suits).  The trumpets take over which is pretty magnificent.  After a few minutes (the whole song is about 9 minutes long), the band drops away and the sax plays a real solo–just him–until a trumpet and bass horn take over with the melody of “Summertime” while the rest of the band dances or claps along.

The band is having such a good time.  They are lots of fun, cheering and clapping and raising their hands in praise.  Whatever these songs are about, this they area  lot of fun.

[READ: July 6, 2016] “Dance, Off”

The May 16, 2016 issue of the New Yorker had a series called “Univent This” in which six authors imagine something that they could make go away. Since I knew many of them, I decided to write about them all.  I have to wonder how much these writers had to think about their answers, or if they’d imagined this all along.

Brooker, while serious, certainly has fun with his uninvention.  He would like dance to be eradicated.  “I’d sooner defecate on live TV than dance at your wedding.”

He says he is awkward at the best of times so any kind of  attempt to make him coordinate his body with music is astronomically cruel. (more…)

Read Full Post »

1982SOUNDTRACK: DAVID BOWIE-“The Laughing Gnome” (1967).

gnomeI have always liked David Bowie.  Never loved him, but always liked his radio hits (and a bit more).  Suffice it to say that I have never heard of “The Laughing Gnome” before reading about it in this book.

What a strange little song.  I can’t tell if it came out before or after his debut solo record (he has the same haircut), but I gather it was released as a novelty record.

It’s a delightful little song.  Very sixties mod with a healthy nod of dance-hall.  The very different thing of course is that in the song, the main singer (Bowie) meets and sings with a sped-up-voiced Cockney “gnome.”

So the song is clearly a novelty song (what else would you call it?).  Except that the production is really great and the music is really good too.  Despite the gnome, the song isn’t really a “funny” song (well, there are jokes and puns, I guess).  It’s certainly weird and certainly silly, but it holds up pretty well to repeated listens (even if the chorus is “ha ha ha hee hee hee I’m a laughing gnome and you can’t catch me”).

Bowie doesn’t really acknowledge the song anymore, although he did joke that he was considering performing it in a new ‘Velvet Underground-influenced’ style.  Before that happens, hear the original

[READ: November 22, 2014] 1982

So yes, I know that Ghomeshi is in the midst of a scandal in which he is pretty undeniably a sexually abusive scumbag.  I’ll say nothing more about that since things are still under investigation {formal charges were brought today].  But it doesn’t look good for Jian.

This is rather upsetting.  For the women involved, obviously, but also for those of us who liked Jian and thought he was one of the good guys.  Which I did.  I loved Moxy Fruvous.  I loved his solo album.  I had a brief email exchange with him before he joined the CBC, and his show, Q was one of the best interview shows out there.  He always seemed so nice and on the right side of so many issues.  Ugh.

But anyhow, this is about the book, not him (although the book is about him as well).  I only heard about the book when I was looking for news about his scandal (I had no idea he had written a book).  The book is called 1982 because it is all about his life in the year 1982, a formative year in his childhood. (more…)

Read Full Post »

dreamcactehr[ATTENDED: September 18, 2014] MOMIX Dreamcatcher

Sarah and I have enjoyed Momix twice in the last two years. So when we saw they were coming back with a new show called Dreamcatcher, we were right there at the box office.

As it turns out Dreamcatcher is a “greatest hits’ collection, not unlike Momix Remix, the first one we saw.  Since last year we saw the show Botanica, which has a few greatest hits of its own, that means we have seen some of these performances three times now.  That was a little disappointing. On the plus side, this is the first time we had seats in the balcony.  Our first time we had middle of the floor level, which was very cool.  Second time we were very close to the stage which was interesting for different reasons.  But from the balcony, you can see the patterns that the dancers make and you can’t see the dancers in the pieces where they are “hidden.”  (When we were close I could see the dancers, which was interesting in and of itself, but it did remove some of the magic).

I wish that I had included a “setlist” from the previous shows, to see just how many we have seen multiple times (there were a couple that were similar but definitely different in some aspect or another).  So this time I will be placing the setlist at the bottom. (more…)

Read Full Post »

 emikoSOUNDTRACK: DIANE CLUCK-Tiny Desk Concert #343 (March 17, 2014).

cluckI know of Diane Cluck only from one song that was played on an NPR show.  I really liked it (it’s called “Sara” and she plays it third here). Cluck has an unusual yet very compelling voice and a guitar style that is simple yet also unusual.

“Trophies” has a kind of Joni Mitchell feel to it–the whole thing feels kind of sixties, although not in the way she sings or plays, there’s just something about it that skews sixties–perhaps its the unusual vocal melodies in the verses?

For “Grandma Say,” Cluck switches to the piano and plays a bouncey but dark song with a fantastic vocal delivery and rather funny (but meaningful) lines.  For “Sara,” Diane puts some bells on her boots.  And when asked where she got them she sheepishly admits the truth.  “Sara” sounds as good live as it did on record–Cluck’s voice is just as compelling in this setting.

I really enjoyed this brief set.  And I was really struck by Cluck’s appearance.  She is quiet tall and extremely thin, and she seems even more stretched out by her tall hair and long neck.  And yet she seems to be putting no effort into anything that she’s doing.  She makes for as mysterious a figure as you might expect from these songs.   I was as captivated by watching her as I was listening to her.

[READ: June 26, 2014] Emiko Superstar

As part of this recent influx of graphic novels, I also scored Emiko Superstar.  This title looked familiar from the Minx sampler that I have, so I was excited to read it.

The story is by Mariko Tamaki and is about a young Japanese-American girl named Emily.  We meet her family right away–her father is a big burly American guy and her mom is a demure Japanese woman.  She is named for her grandmother Emiko, who was a vivacious and fun dancer (although Emily’s mother now frowns on dancing and public fun).  As might be expected, Emily is a quiet, nerdy girl, hanging around with the nerdiest kids in school.

She doesn’t really mind being a nerd until before one summer break, when all the other nerds plan to go to a convention that will help them land great jobs.  Emily doesn’t know when nerd meant being a corporate sellout, and she refuses to go.  Rather, she decides to stay around town and get a crummy job at a coffee shop.  But after one regrettable (or not) incident, she realizes she may be unemployed for the rest of the summer.

Her mother will have none of that, and finds her a job babysitting most days during the summer.   The family she babysits for seem pretty perfect.  The husband is an athletic happy, loud guy who is proud of his life, his wife, his kid and his house.  The wife is much quieter and seems a bit embarrassed by her husband, but otherwise seems reasonably content with her son and her life.  And there’s the baby, who is drooly but pretty easy to deal with.

One day at the mall, Emily sees a wild-looking girl dancing around, making a racket and advertizing a place called The Factory, where the freaks all go.  Before being dragged away by security, she throws flyers out into the crowd and Emily grabs one.  And Emily feels an electric shock in her body at the thought of going to this place. (more…)

Read Full Post »


soundcheck There are so many places to listen to free music.  But i prefer places where you can (legally) download free music.  So here’s a place I’ve just discovered: WNYC Radio’s website which features a section called “Gig Alerts.”  The feature talks about a different interesting band playing that night (in New York).  After a small blurb, there is (almost always) a free downloadable track.   There’s twenty listings per page and 86 pages.  Do the math and that’s a lot of songs.

The feature covers virtually every genre, although there is a preponderance of alt- and indie- rock (mostly lesser known bands).  If you are interested in new (to you) music and in exploring different artists, this is a great resource for a ton of free music.  So, check out Gig Alerts here.

[READ: May 20, 2014] McSweeney’s #44

I was pretty pleased with myself when I got caught up on the McSweeney’s issues.  But I remember wanting to take a break when this one came in.  I now see it has been almost a year since I read the last issue.  So the break was too long and now I have three issues to catch up on again.  Sigh.  But this one proved to be a great issue to return on.

This is a pretty quintessential issue of McSweeney’s.  It’s got letters, some fiction, a special section dedicated to Lawrence Weschler (which includes a lot of art), and a cool, interesting section of plates with full color art.  It’s also got an interestingly designed hardcover with a kind of raw cardboard in the back, a slightly raised colorful section for the spine and then a further raised section for the giant 44 on the front cover.

LETTERS (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »