Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Drinking’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: ZEUS-Live at Massey Hall (September 11, 2015).

I had never heard of the Canadian band Zeus.  They seem pretty well-known (and have since become the backing band for Jason Collett when he’s not doing Broken Social Scene).

The band has been active for nearly a decade, but have only released a couple of albums (it is mentioned during the set that they are working on new material, but that was three years ago).

They talk about the amazing sound in Massey Hall.

Massey Hall is the furthest from a giant gnarly arena you can get.  We’ve played places with similar capacity and similar sound but there is something different here.  It sound really good and clean.  Maybe I would be intimidated if I played on this stage but you remember that not just anybody gets to pay here–you get asked to play here. This takes some of the onus off of being intimidated–you feel important in here.

Carlin says, “You never wanna say you had a shitty show at Massey Hall.  But you can hear yourself really well here, maybe that’s why they are all so good.  There’s always legendary shows there.

Everyone in the band switches instruments throughout.  It’s hard to keep track of what everyone is doing.  The only one who doesn’t move is Mr Robert Anthony Drake on the drums.

“Come Home” starts with a Carlin Nicholson on bass and Mike O’Brien on the electric guitar.  They share a microphone and the harmonies.  Neil Quinn is on acoustic guitar off to the side. adding a third voice.  It’s a surprisingly short song.

“Where is My Love” has Neil, still on acoustic, singing lead with his deep voice and an occasional falsetto on certain notes.  This song is quiet for the beginning with just the acoustic guitar and keys before the rest of the band kicks in.  The song shifts gear and musically sounds like a slower Sloan song (whom they were paired with that night) but the vocals are quite different.  Mike has shifted to keys with Carlin still on bass.  Jason Haberman is also playing multiple instruments–he’s on guitar for this one.

“Miss My Friends” has a kind of funky, almost disco rhythm.  Carlin has switched to keyboards and Mike O’Brien is on bass where he sings lead vocals.  Neil Quinn plays electric guitar and c Habermans has switched to electronic percussion.

Carlin introduces the next song, “This goes back to the very first Zeus record, “I Know.”  It’s got Carlin on keys and lead vocals. Neil on bass, Mike on guitar and Haberman on acoustic guitar.  Carlin invited people to sing is they know it but I can’t hear of anyone does.

Neil shifts to a pretty melody on the keys with a gorgeous intertwining melody from Mike.  It’s a great opening to “Heavy on Me.”  There’s cool 70’s sounding keyboards and a great bass rumble.  There’s a lot of quieter moments where the bass is all there is and the riff is cool and slinky.  The song ends with great jamming session with a noisy rocking guitar solo and heavy drums.

After the applause, Neil says, “Thank you.  This is just what this band needs right now–a house fill of love like this.”

“Air I Walk” has a shuffling beat with (questionable) electronic percussion hits.  Carlin back  bass with Neil on acoustic guitars and lead vocals.  It sound kind of mid 8os Dire Straits

“Throwdown” doesn’t sound like a throw down as it opens.  There’s quiet guitars and gentle vocals from Mike.  But it gets really big by the middle and sounds like a non-synthy 80s classic rock songs.

The show ends with “Are You Gonna Waste My Time.”  Just like the opening, Neil is on guitar and vocals, Mike plays a great lead guitar and Carlin is on bass.

I really enjoyed this set quite a lot.  Zeus is a little soft rock for my tastes, but their musicianship and songwriting is top notch.

[READ: May 21, 2018] “Seven Years of Identity Theft”

Rick Moody had his identity stolen.  We all hear about this happening, but he really shows you how much of a real pain in the ass it is.  It’s not just a matter of getting new credit cards.

This essay is written as a series of letters.

The first letter is to the Most Honorable President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.  He writes of leaving his bank card in an ATM in Macon, Georgia and that’s when he assumes it all started–the theft of his identity–back in 2011.

A week later his replacement card was rejected and ultimately deactivated due to fraudulent transactions. (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (May 27, 2017).

Fourth of four shows at The Horseshoe Tavern dubbed Spring Nationals.  Some bust outs at this show – Take Me In Your Hand, Jesus Was Once A Teenager Too, Edmund Fitzgerald as well as Opera Star and Take The Money And Run – another awesome show.

Lineup is: Dave Bidini / Dave Clark / Hugh Marsh / Ford Pier / Martin Tielli / Tim Vesely

Jeff “J.C. ” Cohen the owner of The Horseshoe introduces the show.  He talks about the 70th Anniversary of The Horseshoe.

He mentions thee 1950s and 60s when artists like Willie Nelson would do a full week here. No cover from Mon-Wed to get to know the band and then a $3 cover and then a $4 cover.  They made this dump a legendary live venue.  Nothing beat 25 nights of Stompin’ Tom Connors.  That kind of thing doesn’t exist anymore except the Rheos.  He mentions how during their last Nationals they went to like 3:45 AM.

The opening acts were Southtown from Texas and Hydrothermal Vents (John Tielli’s Montreal-based band)

This nearly three-hour(!) shows starts off pretty mellow with Tim;s new song “Music Is The Message” which sounds more pretty than ever.  It’s followed by a whispered version of “Stolen Car” with gentle violin and backing vocals to start.  Although about 3 minutes in, an ever escalating feedback starts taking over the song and they have to stop mid-song (gasp!)  DB: “Live music!  These are not backing tapes, not yet.”  Martin picks up right where they left off perfectly.

Dave: “We’re mostly playing waltzes tonight.”

They mention the “bad” fan from last night. The Habs fan, he was very anti-fellatio.  Clark: “That’s the big guy from Shakespeare, right?”

Ford: “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Fellatio.”

“King Of The Past” sounds great.  I love Hugh’s violin at the climactic moment.  It’s followed by “Northern Wish” Dave notes: My wife wrote those land ho’s.”  He also mentions that Martin is “quite the cowboy.”  So Martin recites in a drawl, “Everybody’s talking about me, but I don’t hear a word they say.”

Someone shouts, “You guys gotta play ‘Saskatchewan.'”
DB: [quickly] “Nope.”
Audience guy: “Why not?”
DB: “Well maybe.  Seeing as you asked so …nicely and not at all brusquely.  We’ll see.  The set list is merely a sketch.”

DC: “This ain’t brain surgery.”
DB: “Or Brain Salad Surgery.”
Tim: “Or hot dog salad surgery” (an inside joke about the very first tour they went to the 7-11 in Thunder Bay in our under pants and it was seriously cold.  All we could afford was hot dogs so we loaded on as much salad as we could.  I don’t think they have police in Thunder Bay because we should have been arrested.

Then comes the first huge surprise, a bust-out of “The Ballad Of Wendel Clark Parts I & II.  It sounds great and during the ending section they do a few Stompin’ Tom songs: “Bridge Came Tumbling Down” and Algoma 69.”  Then they take it back to G sharp for a folkie verse of “P.R.O.D.” and then the Wendel ending.

Dave talks briefly about the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper our legacy as a generation.  It’s a beautiful body of water that nobody goes in.

There’s a very smooth sounding “Claire” with nice washes of synths.  It leads to a terrific version of “The Albatross” which gets better with each playing.  We learn that it was written after a Martin solo tour which is why it sounds so very Martin.

“Soul Glue” is a fun version with lot of violin.  Amusingly, Tim messes up the opening lyric, starting with the first syllable of the second verse.  Dave asks, “You need some help, Tim?”  But Tim is quickly back on track.  A ringing of feedback returns but is quickly squashed.  The pretty ending of the song leads an abrupt loud rocker, the introduction to “AC/DC On My Radio.”  It has some great drums at the end and Dave even asks, “Could you guys clap your hands?  I never ask people to clap their hands.”

“P.I.N.” sounds great and is followed by another bust out: “It’s Easy To Be With You” or “It’s easy to be with Hugh.”

Tim: This one’s called “smoke break slash washroom break.”  It’s a pretty acoustic version of “Bad Time to Be Poor” with Tim on guitar and High on violin.

Tim thanks the “multi-nighters” and then Martin introduces “my brother johnny” who helps out on “Jesus Was Once A Teenager Too.”  The songs tarts quietly with just piano and builds and builds.

They have some “high level talks” about what to play next.  They agree on “What’s Going On?” Then Martin suggests “Saskatchewan” “for those guys.”  Tim: “maybe that will shut them up.   Just to be clear it’s Part 1, right?”  Dave: “he’s left, he’s puking in the bathroom.”

There’s a very pretty ending that launches into Martin’s heavy riffing for “RDA (Rock Death America).”

Then the man who has been compiling all of these live shows, Darrin Cappe gets a dedication of “Christopher.”

A fun, rollicking “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” segues into “Alomar” (sort of, Dave notes) and then back into “Dope Fiends.”

After an encore break, Dave plays “My First Rock Concert.”  Dave says “Maybe Tim Mech will join me.  maybe not.”  But then, “This song features Tim Vesely on the drums.  He’s got one fill but it’s a really good fill. [Tim plays].  That’s a new one! [Tm plays another]. That’s all I got.

As Dave sings about his first rock concert which his dad drove them to, Tim says, “Fred…. in a Delta 88.”

Dave asks: Ford what was your first concert?  Ford is using Tim’s mic, no sound.  Tim: “They didn’t turn my mic on tonight.”  Ford: “But you made so many awesome jokes.  You got to repeat them all.”  After some hemming and hawing he says: “D.O.A. or SNFU or Personality Crisis or Chocolate Bunnies From Hell… or Big Country.”  Dave: “You can only have one, Ford.”  Ford: “Nope.  Too convoluted to get into here, but I am the kind of person who has had many firsts in his life.  I’m a complicated man.”

When he sings the “swan dive,” Tim says “No you didn’t.”  Dave: “He was there.  No I didn’t.  But it works with the song.”
Ford: “See, truth is less important than meaning.”
Dave B: “Truth is less important than loyalty.”

Dave Clark: “Beach Boys, 1973, Surf’s Up, with my best friend Karen Lindhart.”
Tim: “Triumph at Exhibition Stadium.”

They play “Take Me in Your Hand.”  Dave: Tim, two drumming songs in a row how do you feel?”  Tim: “Elated and vindicated.”  There’s a great organ sound throughout the song, which they haven;t played in a long time. Although the acoustic guitar cuts out during the outro.”

Dave Clark has the audience do something with their hands and ultimately touch their ears and says he does it with little kids all the time in class.  I’d like to know what that is.

Martin notes: “Timothy Warren Vesely on the kit… on the traps.”
Ford”  “I want to tell you all how thrilled I am to be here with my dear friends, playing like the best music there is.”

Dave mentions some upcoming shows through the summer and then one that’s not in Toronto that their lawyer Woody Springsteen told them not to talk about.

Martin: This next song was written by a good friend of ours…”
DC: “G. Gordon Liddy.”
Martin: “G.  Gordon Lightfoot.”
Ford: “He could have killed every person in this room with any object on this stage.”
Tim: “We ask that there be no lights for this song….”
Dave B: “Total dark in the beginning, Marsen.”

It’s amazing that they do an 11 minute version of “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald.”  It sounds really great and just builds in intensity until there is absolute silence at the end of the song.  Really amazing.
Martin asks, “When’s the last time we did that, Dave?”
Dave: “I don’t know, a long time ago.  But sometimes it’s good to take a break from a song.”
Tim: “Or from a band.”

Dave B: “Who is not from Toronto?  It means a lot.  Jesus, I don’t think I’d drive to see us.  …because I’d be replaced and that would be terrible.  It would be sad.”

There hasn’t been a ton of banter during this show, but as it gets near the end, they are talking more.  They dither about what to play

Audience: “play a good song.”
Dave B: “that’s a terrible chant.”
Audience: “play a bad song.”
Audience: “play my favorite song.”

They play “What’s Going On Around Here?” with Tim on accordion.  It sounds great and then as they get near the end, Hugh starts playing a crazy violin solo–weird effects making bizarre almost human sounds with Martin doing bizarre backward mumble vocals.  It’s pretty neat.

Dave, sounding exhausted: We have one more maybe one and a half more.

Tim: “I think we played the show stopper like five or six songs ago.”

Dave C: “Martin’s gonna surprise you, kids.”  He plays Neil Young’s “Opera Star” and then a sloppy version Steve Miller’s “Take The Money and Run” that doesn;t quite sound right but still sounds good, especially Hugh’s wild solo.

Dave B: “Now that’s a show stopper.”
Tim: “That’s because we know no other songs.”
Dave B: “Should we do one more to bring it back.”
Tim, “No, we know no more.  That was bottom of the barrel.”

Requests from the audience, but Ford Pier, he’s in the band, we have to honor his request.  We’ll soon be having an opening on keyboard after Ford Leaves, and if you’re in the band you request songs and we have to play them.
Ford: “I didn’t know how that worked.  ‘Chemical World.'”
Clark: “I’d love to play that.”
Dave: “I’d love to pay ‘Satellite Dancing.'”
Martin starts singing “Radio 80 Fantasy.”
Dave starts playing “Body Thang” then says, “I just wanted to see Tim make that face.”
Ford:  “What a bunch of yoyos.   All those nice things I was saying before, I take it back.”

They settle on “Self Serve Gas Station” which opens quietly with lots of violin from Hugh.  “What went wrong with Johnny?  And Dougie too.”  They play the end in a crazy ska fashion.

This was a great four show Nationals and I wish I could have been to at least two of them.

They played throughout the summer, but the only shows left on the site as of today are four more from December 2017.

[READ: April 20, 2018] Baseballisimo

Baseballissimo is about baseball.  In Italy!  That’s a pretty good title.

I have read all of Dave Bidini’s books so far but I put this one off because it’s about baseball in Italy, which I didn’t think I’d care about.  And I don’t really.  But I did enjoy this book.  I especially enjoyed reading this at a removal of some 15 years from when it was written.  There was no reason to have any vested interested in the current status of anybody in the book (except Dave).  I just assume that fifteen years later nobody in the book is still playing baseball and we’ll just leave it at that.

So in the spring of 2002 Dave took his wife Janet and his two little kids on a six month trip to Nettuno, Italy, a seaside town of thirty thousand about an hour south of Rome.  His plan was to follow around the local third-tier baseball team the Peones for their season.

Many on the team wondered why he would write about them.  They seemed puzzled by the very idea.  One of the players asked

“Photo?”
“Si”
“Photo nudo?”
“Maybe”
“Angalaaaaaaato” he said using a Nettunese expression for lovemaking

But mostly they wanted to know why he didn’t want to wrote about real baseball.  We play for fun, no?
Dave said, “I’m mot interested in real baseball.” (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (May 26, 2017).

Third of four shows at The Horseshoe Tavern dubbed Spring Nationals.

This was one of the best Rheos shows I’ve ever seen. At the end of the show Jeff Robinson presented Martin with the custom made guitar he had been working on for the past 6 months. Martin then played an impromptu version of Indian Arrow which he had last played on his Farmer In The City tour 18 years prior. Indian Arrow is a 13 Engines song that to the best of my knowledge was never recorded, nor does Mike Robbins apparently recall writing it…but Martin knows it.

Lineup is: Dave Bidini / Dave Clark / Hugh Marsh / Ford Pier / Martin Tielli / Tim Vesely

There’s occasionally a lot of echo and reverb on the vocals, but the sound quality of the recording is excellent.

Before they start Dave B says, “Those people at the back don’t even know we’re up here, right?”

After a long guitar intro, martin sings “Self Serve Gas Station.”  It builds really well although he doesn’t quite hit the note on “the morning time has come.”  It’s followed by another Martin song, “California Dreamline.”  This song also has a lengthy guitar and keyboard introduction.

When the song ends there;s some rousing guitar chords for almost a minute before the words of Dave Clark’s “AC/DC On My Radio” kick in.

It’s followed by a terrific “Soul Glue” with Martin joking about playing “jazz metal.”

Ford asks, Who is on lights tonight?
Dave B: I don’t know.  Have we seen much of a light show tonight?
Ford: Last night you said his name three times in a row and that is messing with some dark force
Dave B: Ford Pier is our dark force attendant.  Thanks for coming to night three.  Lucky number 3.  Dark force night.

Clark tells a lengthy story about someone farting behind him on a plane.  Martin guesses it was Margaret Atwood.  But Dave says he has proof of David Suzuki farting near him at a book signing and frightening all of the signees away.

Martin announces that the next song “P.I.N.” is called “Oh that Suzuki.”

They ask Tim Mech if he finds a lyric sheet in the back to bring it forward.  They are doing a song for a Stompin’ Tom compilation, but they don;t know the words.  Tim: So instead we’ll forget the words to this one” I’ve never heard “Gumboot Cloggeroo” before.  Someone plays an amazing solo that sounds like it was done on a banjo but which might be Hugh on violin?

Dave wonders if it’s too early for shots?  Martin “I’ll just get looser after this.”

Martin again states that Tim is sporting the gentleman’s instrument.
DB: “what does that make the bass?”
MT: “also a gentleman’s instrument.  I just learned the mojo of the bass about 7 years ago.”
DB: “4 strings is tough”
MT: “it’s pretty well inexplicable.”
DB: “It took me a long time to pop and snap.”
MT: “Tim Vesely used to be the king of slapping on Queen Street.”

DC: “Tim Mech do you have Gaffer tape?”
MT: “Why would a guitar tech have gaffer tape?”
MT: “I had a dream I was gaffer taped.”
DB: “Dark Forces”

Martin and Tim play “Sickening Song.”  It starts well, but then he stops.
Martin: “I got snot on my microphone.”
DC: “That’s because it’ the Sickening Song.”
Ford: “Is it yours?”
DB: “We had a gaffer stop and a snot stop, very professional.”

They resume and “Sickening Song” sounds great.  There’s some wild drums and crazy echoed vocals in the middle (the punk rock section).  There’s some big growling vocals at the end–it’s awesome.

Tim stays on the accordion for “What’s Going On Around Here?” and when it’s over, someone in the audience shouts “that was fuckin awesome.”

The Horsehoe is now 70 years old.  It was really different back then when Hank Williams and Stompin’ Tom.
DB: “Me, Tim and Dave Clark played that stage over there in 1984.  James Grey was on keyboards with us.  It was our 6th or 7th gig of all time.  We opened for The Government.”

From The Last Pogo:

The Government were a three-piece band rooted in Toronto and active between 1977 through 1982. The band consisted of: Andrew James Paterson (guitar, voice, and writing), Robert Stewart (bass, voice, writing), and three drummers (Patrice Desbiens from Sept.1977 to May 1978, Edward Boyd from June 1978 to December 1980, and Billy Bryans throughout 1981 and 1982.) The last version of the band was also occasionally augmented by scratch guitarist Jeremiah Chechik.

Robert Stewart wore pink spandex pants,  Billy Bryans on drums he had synth drums.
MT: “There’s never been a better drum tone since.”
DB: “I’m merely trying to drive away the dark forces.”

DC: “Patting a Bengal cat is like patting the back of Tim’s head.”
Martin: “Tim has the nicest hair of anyone I’ve ever stroked….  Here’s a new song by Timothy Waren Vesely.”

They play the nice folkie song “Rear View.”

Then comes “Northern Wish” which opens with a pretty acoustic guitar melody. and sounds great.  It ends with a cool buzzy guitar sound at the end.

For “Here Come The Wolves” DB asks, “Hey Marsen, I’d like a little more light on stage.  I’m not reading my lyrics or anything, honest.”  The middle has a great fiddle sound from Hugh, thundering drums and lot of intensity–when they get this song tight it will be fantastic.

There’s a very long intro to “Dope Fiends.”  It sound great and then there’s a long drum solo lasting over 2 and a half minutes).  The song ends after Martin singing Dark Side of the Moooooon with someone whispering The Dark Side and then Martin speaking backwards nonsense (you can hear “Satan” a few times).  This all culminates in some wild improv.

Tim recites “Halloween Eyes” then they return to “Dope Fiends.”  This segues into an introduction to “Queer” in which Dave starts singing Trooper’s “Here For A Good Time” and then Dave says, “Uh oh Tim’s got something.”  They play “Halloween Eyes” properly and the chugging guitar leads Dave to sing “You Shook Me All Night Long” but he doesn’t know the words (!) and no one else seems to either!?  No one knows it?

Paul Linklater?  You don’t know it?
Kurt Swinghammer? You must know it.  Kurt gets up there to sing it and his lyrics are “I don’t know that song, I don’t know that song at all.”
Finally Ford gets up there and sings a really strained voice (and misses a lot of lyrics) but they play it pretty well: “Ford Pier saves the day!”

They finally get to a romping, “Queer.”  It’s so good that Clark says, “I’m giving you the [cow]bell brother.”  There’s great harmonizing on “he put his fist through the kitchen door.”  There’s a cool pizzicato solo from Hugh.

And then Hugh plays a great violin as the introduction to Clark’s fun new song “Super Controller.”

Dave: We’re gonna do one more.  We might not do one more.  Give us an encore.”

After the encore, Ford comes back and sings “Thursday Morning” on acoustic guitar.  He confesses “after the Brian Johnson vocals, I have a bit of a frog in my throat, help me out?  Oh, you sound like a chorus of angels.  Am I having a stroke?)  This segues into a romping fun version of The English Beat’s “Save It For Later.”

When it’s over, Ford says, That must have been enough time for a Cuban cigar (depends on who’s smoking it, Ford).

Dave talk about the Brave New Waves recording that’s for sale and then discusses the very first single that Dave Crosby, Me, Tim and Dave Clark made at Round Sound in 1980.
Tim: It’s available on wax cylinder.

“Saskatchewan” has lots of echo on the vocals.  It’s kind of a slow version with pizzicato violin until the roaring ending (which gets a little messy).  It segues seamlessly into “Horses.”  It’s still got the intensity of old.  There’s a quiet middle part with Martin doing a falsetto of what Dave sang.”  It hasn’t been played much and Dave gets into it but his rant isn’t that long: “They’re all going to jail, Jared fucking Kushner.”  [Please, please, please be true.]

They tack on the ending for “Queer” and then Clark starts a drum beat that leads to “Legal Age Life At Variety Store.”  They invite Paul Linklater on stage to play with them: “You can tell he’s good because of his green hat.”  Thee’s also Jeff Robinson on lead guitar.  Ford gets a solo and when Dave sings, “Eagleson ripped off Bobby Orr,” Tim again comments, “Get over it.”

As they leave, Martin says that Jeff Robinson made him this new guitar.  It has a piece from his paleontological collection.  This is a mammoth tusk and it makes it sound prehistoric.  It could be 80,000 years old.

He starts to leave bu the crowd asks him to play something and he plays a little of “Indian Arrow” as noted above.

This is a great show, the band sounds fantastic.

[READ: May 21, 2018] “Calico”

This is a story about death and a life that, to me, seems much worse.

Sara lives next door to Sands, “an old bitch.”

Sara doesn’t like to say such things but she had seen Sands hose a cat once to get it out of her yard.

Sands never said a word to anyone, just stood in the doorway and glared if you parked in front of her house. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: BEDOUINE-Tiny Desk Concert #737 (April 30, 2018).

Bedouine has a lovely clear voice.  She’s a genuine folk throwback treasure, without being retro.  Her songs are remarkably simple and yet they are rich and almost enchanting.  There is something about the way she sings that makes you want to listen, to lean in and hear what she has to say.

Her guitar playing is also very pretty.  Again, a reasonably simple finger-picking style.  but it is simultaneously precise and warm.

I saw her live recently and she held an entire club rapt despite being an opening act for two much louder bands.  So who is Bedouine?

Azniv Korkejian is Bedouine, a singer and acoustic guitarist who echoes sounds from the 1960’s North American folk songwriters, but with vocal inflections that feel closer to Leonard Cohen than to Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez.  This is as spare as music can be – songs stripped to their essence and just gorgeous.

Azniv Korkejian was born in Aleppo Syria. Her parents were Armenian and she spent her childhood in Saudi Arabia. But a green card lottery win found her family moving to Boston and Houston. Eventually she made her way to Los Angeles with important time spent in Austin, Texas and Savannah, Ga. The name she chose, Bedouine, reflects the traveler, the wanderer in her.

She plays three songs, just her and her guitar.  The songs don’t diverge that much from each other.  She even jokes that the second song is a different song than the first one, she promises.

“One of These Days” is a pretty song that seems so optimistic because you can feel the smile in her voice as she sings.  But as with much of what she plays, there is a kind of melancholy to it.

“Solitary Daughter” opens with the same chord (and picking) but soon shifts textures. I love her delivery on this song in which she lets her voice drop a register and adds a kind of Laura Marling spoken word style to part of it.

The middle third is just stunning

I don’t need the walls
to bury my grave
I don’t need your company
to feel saved
I don’t need the sunlight
My curtains don’t draw
I don’t need objects
to keep or to pawn
I don’t want your pity
Concern or your scorn
I’m calm by my lonesome
I feel right at home
And when the wind blows
I get to dancing
My fun is the rhythm of air
When it’s prancing

“Nice and Quiet” is an intimate love song, but one tinged with sadness.  It has such a charming and sweet melody, which really sums up her music pretty well.

[READ: March 5, 2018] The Prince and the Dressmaker

Jen Wang is back with an outstanding book.  I absolutely love her drawing style.  The look of her dressmaker, Frances, is just adorable.  I love her clothes, I especially love her face, which is cartoony but not caricature-y.  The prince’s nose is huge but not overtly comical and adds a distinctive element to the story.

But what makes this book stand out even more than the art is the story.

The Prince is holding a ball.  When the scene pans back we see horse-drawn carriages.  In other words, the time is sort of nebulously olde.  The women are dressed fancy, with petticoats.  There is much stress around town because all the young women wish to go to the ball.

A woman storms into a couture shop with a mud-covered dress.  Her daughter decided to play in the dress and it is ruined.  Can then makes something for her in time?  Frances is available and the owner gives her the job. (more…)

Read Full Post »

[LISTENED TO: September 2017] The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy complete radio series

The history of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is almost as convoluted as the story itself.

Douglas Adams (with help from John Lloyd) wrote the radio story in 1977.  It aired in 1978.  A second season aired in 1980.

Adams wrote the novel based on the radio series in 1979.  And then the second book The Restaurant at the End of the Universe in 1980.

Then they made the TV show.

Apparently Adams considered writing a third radio series to be based on Life, the Universe and Everything in 1993, but the project did not begin until after his death in 2001.  The third, fourth and fifth radio series were based on Life, So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish and Mostly Harmless which were transmitted in 2004 and 2005.

It’s interesting and a little disconcerting how different the radio play is from the story of the book. There are a lot of similarities of course, but some very large differences.

The first series obviously leaves a lot out from the book, since the book wasn’t written yet. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: RAUL MIDÓN-Tiny Desk Concert #718 (March 15, 2018).

I had never heard of Raul Midón before this Tiny Desk.  So I’ll use the blurb for an explanation of who he is.

Raul Midón lives in a world of sound — blind since birth, Midón’s interpretation of his surroundings is borderless. He sings with the passion of the best classic soul singers, and his instrumental chops stand along side the most accomplished jazz musicians.

Normally backed by a band that straddles styles just as well as he does, for his turn behind Bob Boilen’s desk Midón stripped it down to just voice and guitar, the musical equivalent of tightrope walking without a net.

You could choose any of the songs he performed, listen on repeat and continuously discover layers of musicality — the nuance of a bent note in his vocals, a burst of perfectly placed guitar notes.

Midón played five songs.

For “Gotta Gotta Give” he primarily uses a kind of slapping guitar style for his chords–he slaps all of the strings with his palm making a kind of gentle but loud sound.  But he also does some great picking on the descending chords.  I love the little harmonics he throws in a the end of the verses.  For this song he plays a trumpet solo with his mouth which is pretty cool.  Later he does a solo duet with his mouth-trumpet and the guitar.  His voice is powerful and soulful.  It’s a great song.

He says that he wondered how to address the fact that he was blind. He wanted people to talk about the issue but no one every would, so he called his new album Badass and Blind and people talk about it now.

“Sound Shadow” has a more abrasive picking style–almost like a slap bass but on all of the strings.  It’s a very different sound form the first song.  The solo is a mixture between very fast picked notes and some really fast pick-less strumming.  Vocally he really mixes things up as well, with some nice falsetto at the end.

“If Only” was inspired by Tin Pan Alley stylings which you can hear in the chords.  “Bad Ass and Blind” has a bluesy sound with some more cool harmonics and some dramatic minor chords.  I like the way the chorus is very different from the staggered melody of the verses.  The second verse is all rapped while he plays that guitar.  And his delivery is solid.  It’s got an even better sounding trumpet solo.

For “Mi Amigo Cubano” he switches to a nylon stringed guitar.  He says he wrote this song with Bill Withers, who wanted a song written sin Spanish–basically Raul translated what Bill wanted He asked how do you say “Hows your wife?” “Como esta tu esposa?”  “Well put that in there!”  This song has Spanish soul.

I really enjoyed this set a lot.

[READ: March 20, 2018] “The State”

I didn’t really enjoy this story.  It felt kind of slow and meandering and the ending was really bland.

But I have learned though, that if I don’t like a New Yorker ending because it doesn’t feel like an ending, it is probably an excerpt–which this was.  Knowing that now changes my opinion of the whole thing.  And reading a bit about the novel it sounds multifaceted and really quite interesting.  Now I feel badly for judging it harshly at first.

It begins “before you were born, you were a head and tail in a milky pool.”  Your history goes back further and further, but then returns to your birth when your heartbeat was arrhythmic.

Your dad said “maybe he as a drummer.”  And in the womb, you did begin to kick to any beat offered.  Your dad is 100 per cent Indian–a recovering alcoholic medicine man from Oklahoma.  Your mom is white but there is too much and not enough whiteness to know what to do with it.  You were raised Christian although you enjoyed your father’s powwows more–but your mother became more and more opposed to them as she got older. (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: JOHN PRINE-Tiny Desk Concert #717 (March 12, 2018).

For all of the legendary status of John Prine, I don’t really know that much about him.  I also think I don’t really know much of his music.  I didn’t know any of the four songs he played here.

I enjoyed all four songs.  The melodies were great, the lyrics were thoughtful and his voice, although wizened, convey the sentiments perfectly.

The blurb sums up things really well

An American treasure came to the Tiny Desk and even premiered a new song. John Prine is a truly legendary songwriter. For more than 45 years the 71-year-old artist has written some of the most powerful lyrics in the American music canon, including “Sam Stone,” “Angel From Montgomery,” “Hello In There” and countless others.

John Prine’s new songs are equally powerful and he opens this Tiny Desk concert with “Caravan of Fools,” a track he wrote with Pat McLaughlin and Dan Auerbach. Prine adds a disclaimer to the song saying, “any likeness to the current administration is purely accidental.”

I thought the song was great (albeit short) with these pointed lyrics:

The dark and distant drumming
The pounding of the hooves
The silence of everything that moves
Late in night you see them
Decked out in shiny jewels
The coming of the caravan of fools

That song, and his second tune, the sweet tearjerker “Summer’s End,” are from John Prine’s first album of new songs in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness.

He introduces this song by saying that.  This one is a pretty song.  It might drive you to tears.  He wrote this with Pat McLaughlin.  We usually write on Tuesdays in Nashville because that’s the day they serve meatloaf.  I love meatloaf.  We try to write a song before they serve the meatloaf.  And then eat it and record it.

For this Tiny Desk Concert John Prine also reaches back to his great “kiss-off” song from 1991 [“an old song from the 90s (whoo)…  a song from the school of kiss off 101”] called “All the Best,” and then plays “Souvenirs,” a song intended for his debut full-length but released the following year on his 1972 album Diamonds in the Rough. It’s just one of the many sentimental ballads Prine has gifted us.

He says he wrote it in 1968…when he was about 3.

Over the years, his voice has become gruffer and deeper, due in part to his battle with squamous cell cancer on the right side of his neck, all of which makes this song about memories slipping by feel all the more powerful and sad.

“Broken hearts and dirty windows
Make life difficult to see
That’s why last night and this mornin’
Always look the same to me
I hate reading old love letters
For they always bring me tears
I can’t forgive the way they rob me
Of my sweetheart’s souvenirs”

The musicians include John Prine, Jason Wilber, David Jacques and Kenneth Blevins.

 

[READ: December 11, 2017] X

I really enjoyed Klosterman’s last essay book, although I found pretty much every section was a little too long.  So this book, which is a collection of essays is perfect because the pieces have already been edited for length.

I wasn’t even aware of this book when my brother-in-law Ben sent it to me with a comment about how much he enjoyed the Nickelback essay.

Because I had been reading Grantland and a few other sources, I have actually read a number of these pieces already, but most of them were far off enough that I enjoyed reading them again.

This book is primarily a look at popular culture.  But narrowly defined by sports and music (and some movies).  I have never read any of Klosterman’s fiction, but I love his entertainment essays. (more…)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »