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Archive for the ‘Drinking’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: CORY HENRY AND THE FUNK APOSTLES-Tiny Desk Concert #792 (October 5, 2018).

Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles blew me away with the first song of this Concert.  “Love Will Find A Way” opens with a deep bass sound as the funk starts.  And then Henry adds the great sound of the Hammond.

There’s so much joy in the sound of the Hammond organ, especially for those of us of a certain age. Hearing it can transport you to the early ’70s, when every rock band seemed to have one in its arsenal: The Allman Brothers, Santana, Deep Purple. In the hands of true masters — like the late Billy Preston and the very-much-alive Booker T. Jones — the organ can be a melodic, funky rhythm machine.

Cory Henry’s name belongs in the same breath as the Hammond organ masters of the past. The instrument creates the central sound of his dynamic, neo-soul- and funk-infused musical identity, and he opens his turn behind the Tiny Desk with what feels like an encore: the full-on soul assault of “Love Will Find a Way.” The song twists and turns, then winds up as a full-on celebration — and it’s only the first song in his set.

The song does have several part including a lengthy middle solo section.  Over the heavy organ chords there’s a wailing guitar solo and a keyboard solo from the synth player.

By the end of its six minutes it absolutely feels like an encore–a show ender.  It’s awesome.

“Trade It All” is a bit more soul, less funk, which means I don’t like it as much.  B

Henry’s keyboard skills are on full display during a synth solo in “Trade It All,” which also spotlights his entire band. To my mind, they’d have sounded right at home on Stax Records in the ’70s — no small accomplishment.

The middle shows a softer, quieter side of the Hammond–one that sounds a bit cheesier to my ear.  And yet there’s no denying Henry’s deft finger work (there’ a hint of Stevie Wonder in there for sure).

The final song, the ten-minute “Send Me a Sign” has a lengthy, almost preacher-like quality and is clearly gopsel-inspired.

It showcases some of the roots of Henry’s songwriting; it’s inspired by church sermons that bloom into group sing-alongs. Just another way Cory Henry digs way back to give us something new and exciting.

[READ: October 11, 2017] “One Saturday Morning”

I have never been disappointed with a story from Tessa Hadley.  She might be one of my favorite writers whom I’ve never read outside of magazines.

This story is wonderful because the we learn so much about so many people through the eyes of one woman.

Valerie is Gil’s second wife.  Gil is in his fifties and Valerie is twenty-four.  Gil is a successful professor and she was (as someone described her with disdain) a typist.

But as the story opens, Valerie is trying to cope with Gil’s daughter.  Robyn is nine years old, can’t button her own dress and is utterly unprepared for several days at another house.  This was the first time Valerie had met her…stepdaughter?  And Robyn was plain and kind of dull.  She was polite but had no toys (she played cleverly with scraps of fabric, but would not engage when asked about them).

She was certainly a dullard when it came to food–toast was all she could think of. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HOBO JOHNSON AND THE LOVEMAKERS-Tiny Desk Concert #785 (September 12, 2018).

Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers are an incredibly fun and spontaneous-seeming band.  With lots and lots of shouting

“Romeo & Juliet” opens with some quiet piano and the band screaming: “Oh shit!  Godammit!  Fuck!  With Hobo continuing…Oh, that’s my shit right there!”

This song is a remarkably insightful look into a failing relationship.  It follows so many different avenues as Hobo John (Frank Lopes) speak/raps/sings lyrics that seem very personal.

We’re just Romeo and Juliet
But getting drunk and eating Percocets
But just to ease the stress
But soft what light, thru yonder window breaks
It is the east, but Juliet just puked off the balcony
How romantic

And if Romeo & Juliet continued to be married
Thens there’s half of a chance
That their kids would get embarrassed
When all the kids at school all talk about their parents
And Romeo Jr. has to say they’re not together
And Junior will dream of the day when he’s a man
And what he’ll do to avoid that 50% chance
Of his kids feeling the way he feels
He’ll probably just stick with Netflix and Chill

It ends with an a capella poem that details the breakup of parents–the sound of people falling out of love.

This is a band always on the verge of emotional explosions, all while Frank Lopes, aka Hobo Johnson, is quoting Shakespeare and making references to Jay-Z, The Front Bottoms song “Twin Size Mattress” and so much more.

“Sex in the City” opens with a pretty, quiet piano melody.  Hobo Johnson recites all of concerns about sex and love.  Lines like (“I got a duvet the other day – how do you wash a blanket? In a washer? That’s what I found out”)

So I’m not a babymaker-looker
But maybe I am
To a woman who really loves me
for who I am or maybe who I’m not
Either way it’s getting bothered and hot — GROSS!

If I looked like Brad Pitt mixed with a bit of Jake Gyllenhaal
in a bowl of David Hasselhoff.
I wouldn’t be here at all, I’d been in Los Angeles.
Or at your mom’s house eating all those sandwiches –DAMN I LOVE THOSE SANDWICHES.

It’s a terrific song.

Then Bob brings some peach scones our for the band–scones that he made himself.  (He got up at quarter to 7.  Hobo: That’s pretty early.  I will eat all these my self [grumbling] We’ll share them as a band).

The band

accomplished something remarkable this year with their Tiny Desk Contest entry. They made a simple backyard video – a single camera shoot – that’s now been seen almost 10 million times on YouTube. And the song they played, “Peach Scone,” has unlocked a door to a dream – to play a Tiny Desk Concert and be heard. The song is a tale of one-sided love – a tale of kindness in the face of loneliness and depression. Now, “a couple of kids – five I guess” as its lyrics go, get to bring their creative, urgent and somewhat nervous energy from Sacramento, Calif. to play “Peach Scone” and more to millions of other listeners.

They start “Scones” and Hobo messes up the words and laughs.  “How does this work when you mes at Tiny Desk?”  Bob: “Just start again.”  “Really?” “And we play the embarrassing part, too.”  “Really?  That’s awesome.”

For this song the pianist plays drums and there’s lots more shouting.  Despite the aforementioned kindness.  It’s terrific and slightly different from their video.

At times it’s as much a storytelling session or personal confession than a musical performance, and for me it conjures feelings of empathy and understanding and compassion.

The final song “Creve Coeur 1” is quieter.  It starts with a sad piano melody and although it has moments that are louder, the ending feels very personal: “Sorry Frank, You’re much too late.”

I hope I get to see them as they make the rounds touring.

[READ: September 20, 2017]  “As You Would Have Told It to Me (Sort of) If We Had Known Each Other Before You Died”

I really enjoyed this story.  Even if by the end I had no idea exactly what was happening.  And even after thinking about I’m not sure I even understand the internal logic of the title, much less the story.

It begins, “I remember that it was fall.”

Then the narrator tells the memory in past tense but with a sense of surprise as everything unfolds.

First, the police ring his doorbell.  The narrator thinks it is Katja.  He hadn’t spoken to her in three days, but things were like that between them sometimes. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FEDE GRAÑA Y LOS PROLIJOS-“”El Gigante” (Field Recordings, May 5, 2015).

Fede Graña Y Los Prolijos are from Uruguay and play a stomping bluegrass (which is why this is called A Bluegrass Ditty By Way Of Uruguay).

Every year SXSW hosts a night of music from Uruguay.

Nestled between Argentina and Brazil way down on the southern tip of the Americas, Uruguay spends way too much time in the shadows of its better-known neighbors.

But a closer listen reveals something for just about everyone: rockeros, sure, but also fans of hip-hop, folk-influenced downtempo music and singer-songwriters with distinct voices and stories to tell.

With an electric bass and a small hand drum laying down the thumping rhythm and an accordion adding to the flair, the fascination comes from the very American-sounding guitar solo that introduces the song.  But once you comfortably know that this is bluegrass, it’s even more surprising when they all sing in Spanish.

After a couple of verses, there’s an accordion solo followed by an acoustic guitar solo (from the other guitarist).  There’s a slow down that seems like an ending but it’s a fake out as the song takes off once more,.

There’s some great guitar fingerwork by he singer as the song races to an end

What a fun song, although I never heard the word “Gigante” once..

[READ: January 5, 2017] “Chicken Hill”

Joy Williams’ stories never do what I expect them to do–for better and worse.

This is the story of Ruth.

It begins with Ruth going to a memorial fundrasier at the Barbed Wire, a biker bar “in a somewhat alarming part of town.”  She had donated $30 to the memorial of a boy, Hector, who has been run over by a sheriff’s deputy.

Ruth was pleased that the father was suing the sheriff–then she found out it was the boy’s fault–he had run in to traffic against the light.

The transition is a strange one: “It was probably just a coincidence that a child appeared not long after that.”  This was a girl who lived in a house nearby.  She was the daughter of a doctor and rather than introducing herself she said to Ruth “I would like to draw you in plein air.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: STEVE GUNN-Plays Between the Ties of an Abandoned Railroad (Field Recordings, October 12, 2016).

I don’t know Steve Gunn and I am surprised to see that he has released fourteen albums and has worked with Kurt Vile.

For this Field Recording, Gunn headed out to the woods to play three beautiful songs.

 In Forest Park, Queens, N.Y., an old relic suits Gunn’s sound. The Long Island Railroad’s Rockaway Beach Branch used to run through the park. It’s been abandoned for over a half-century, and trees have grown between the ties, skewing the rails and jarring the lines. Late this past summer, Gunn stood on the tracks of this worn American symbol and sang three songs off his latest album — songs about meandering, home and the crooked paths that take us wherever we’re meant to be.

Once again I am really impressed by the quality of the sound.  His guitar is absolutely clear and his voice is perfectly mic’d, but you can also hear ambient sounds–birds and such–making this recording unique.

Gunn has a pretty picking style (using thumb and fingers independently to get strums and picked notes simultaneously).  This enables him to keep the song moving forward while he plays the pretty guitar melodies.

“Full Moon Tide” has a great melody and a delightful chorus.

He walks further into the woods to play “Night Wander.”  It has a kind of circular feel in which the chorus feels like a part of the verse.  I’d say that Gunn’s voice is nothing special, but I like the deeper resonances he gets on this song.

For the final song, “Ark” he walks further down the tracks to a bridge.  Whether it is having the surface above him or just the style of his playing, this song feels warmer, and quite different from the others.

It’s a great introduction to this excellent guitarist.

[READ: January 9, 2017] “The Apartment”

This story is a fascinating look at a woman convincing herself that something must be true.

The apartment across from hers has been vacant for sometime–since the woman living there died.  But recently there was movement inside.  The person’s last name was Jahani.

Louise knew a man named Jahani when she was studying at Stockholm University.  Arman Jahani was the second man she’d slept with (her husband Martin was the first).  Martin, did not know about Arman.

While she is having lunch (sushi) with her adult son Jonas, she intersperses his conversation with memories of Arman.  The two most resonating thoughts are that he died in the early nineties and was survived by a son and a daughter.  Or so she believed.

She tells Jonas that the vacant apartment has been filled.  Jonas hasn’t lived at home for quite some time.  He wasn’t there when the woman died.  “You can;t imagine the smell” she tells him.  It was actually her husband who discovered her and was shocked that no one has mentioned the smell. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MAC MILLER-Tiny Desk Concert #773 (August 6, 2018).

Man, I hate Mac Miller’s delivery on “Smaaaaaall Worlds.”  The way he drags out those words, the fact that his mouth i full of gauze,  The way he pauses from time to time which makes it seem like he forgot the words.  Although as with a lot of rappers at Tiny Desk, the live band including Alexander “Justus” West (Guitar) and Kendall Lewis (Drums) really make the music sound good.

The best part is when Thundercat comes over decked out ion his colorful regalia and plays the shaker midway through the song.  And when Mac acknowledges Thundercat on the shaker–why is Mac’s speaking voice so much clearer than his rapping voice?

Mac real name Malcolm James Meyers McCormick is pretty funny when he’s just talking, too.  I was wondering how a young guy I’d never heard of could be so cocky at this Tiny Desk, then I saw

With nearly a decade under his belt at 26 years old, these words ring like an artist twice his age.  We were introduced to Mac Miller via 2011’s XXL Freshman Class, which featured a special crop of MCs such as Kendrick Lamar, Meek Mill and YG, all of whom are now considered in the upper echelon of hip-hop. After his big splash, he’s been able to find a groove and consistently release quality rap records, ultimately keeping his name in the conversation with the other young greats. These consecutive triumphs amassed plenty of fame, fortune and insurmountable obstacles, causing a stumble here and there. Throughout the years, however, Mac has brushed himself off and put it in the music.

The real star of “What’s the Use” is Thundercat on bass.  I don’t even follow the words I’m so focused on Thundercat’s amazing six string bass work.  And when Thundercat sings “I Just Wanna Fly” and takes a credit, it wins over the room.

The other bassist Joseph Cleveland is also great, when Thundercat trades off for the final song.

For the final song, “2009” he says he wanted to have strings on this song but they couldn’t travel with strings.  So they sent the music to these guys (Robin Fay-Massie (Violin), YaShauna Swan (2nd Violin), Lelia Walker (Viola), Melanie Hsu (Cello)).  They just played it for the first time 20 minutes ago.  The strings are lovely with the piano (Javad Day).  The music deserves better than his lame drawl for a vocal line.  Even if the lyrics are introspective and “mature.”

[READ: November 11, 2018] “The Poor Girl”

F. Scott Fitzgerald kept a notebook for stories ideas.  This story comes from idea he never wrote about.  Nunez and other authors wrote stories from these ideas for McSweeney’s 22.  I didn’t write about individual stories in that post, so I get to here.

Nunez chose”Girl marries a dissipated man and keeps him in healthy seclusion.  She meanwhile grows restless and raises hell on the side.”

And she conveys it well, with some delicious details.

This is told by a third party, a friend of the dissipated man.  He explains that Calvin Trent had been a writer, now well into his decline, when he met the girl (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE DEL McCOURY BAND-Tiny Desk Concert #771 (August 1, 2018). 

I have really grown to like bluegrass a lot over the years.  And yet I still dislike country.  Never shall the twain meet.

Del McCoury is a bluegrass legend, singing, playing guitar and writing songs for the past 60 years, including his days with the “father of bluegrass,” Mr. Bill Monroe. The Del McCoury Band itself is 50 years strong, and these days includes Del’s sons Robbie on banjo and Ronnie on mandolin and vocals. All are astonishing players, here joined by the five-time award-winning fiddling of Jason Carter and this year’s International Bluegrass Music Association bass player of the year Alan Bartram.

The Band plays three songs (their session runs to nearly 20 minutes because Del talks a lot between songs!).  As the blurb notes:

These are story songs; Del is, of course, quite the storyteller, taking his time between them to reminisce. At 79 years old, he’s got a lot of them tell.

For their visit to the Tiny Desk, the group brought along some traveling songs. The first (of two) train tunes, “That Ol’ Train,” comes from their new album Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass, while their closing gospel tale “All Aboard” is a staple from 2001’s Del and the Boys. The other (a motorcycle song), “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” was written by another master of his craft, British folk icon Richard Thompson, and has been a part of Del’s repertoire for a while now. It shows not only the deep connection that bluegrass has to British folk music, but also Del McCoury’s willingness to keep his sound fresh all these years on.

“That Ol’ Train” is a great introduction (for me) to the group.  The song sounds timeless, even though it is new, with the age old sentiment: “I’d cover every mile of track / I’d bring my baby back / and put a happy ending to this song.”  There’s a wonderful set of solos.  Fiddle then banjo then fiddle and then mandolin solo.  The fiddle player is really amazing, even making the instrument sound like a train whistle.  And the harmonies are pretty sweet as well.

There is a moment, near the top of this Tiny Desk concert — when three voices gather ’round a single microphone to deliver the chorus of “That Ol’ Train” — that is so pure and beautiful

Del introduces the band.  He mentions that Jason Carter has won fiddle player of the year countless times.  But he didn’t win this year.  I don’t know what happened to him.

On the banjo is his son.  He has a new album called “The Five String Flamethrower” because when he plays at night with low stage lights he plays really fast and you can see sparks on the strings because uses metal picks.

He talks about his son on mandolin.  Back in 1983, they were going to tour Europe and he wanted to bring his son along while he was still in high school.   The principal called Del in to talk about the show wondering where they were going.  Del told him, British Isles, Germany, Holland and more.  The principal said he would allow Ronnie to go and he;s not going to have to make up any work he’ll learn a lot over there.

Del says his boys have their own band The Travelin’ McCourys who released an album on the same day at heir bluegrass Festival in Cumberland, Maryland.  Richard Thompson was there this year.  And they played the following song together (which Del and his band have been laying for years).

“1952 Vincent Black Lightning” is done on the banjo with a very different tone.  McCoury sings it wonderfully, but again, it’s doesn’t have the same tone, exactly.  But it still works.  The end of the song is banjo only, and it’s pretty amazing.

Before the final song, Del says, it’s just a little to early to sing.  We usually sing late night, at least 6 o clock. Then he says he has new strings on an old Martin guitar that’s why they’re out of tune.

Del says “I used to write songs myself but I got lazy because people in Nashville give them such good songs.”

“All Aboard” starts with furious banjo picking.  It’s intense and fast.  Del seems to be straining, but in a good way  as he sings the lyrics.  When the harmonies come in mid way through its really powerful.

I’m totally sold on Del McCoury and his family.

[READ: August 22, 2017] “An Evening Out”

This is a simple story with a lot going on in it.

The bulk of the story is about an American teacher in Bulgaria.  He has been there for seven years and has decided to call it quits.

So he is going out for the night with some former students, Z. and N.  There is much drinking.  Since he is leaving Sofia (the capital) they wanted to give him a real Bulgarian night out.

The teacher is very attracted to Z.–a forbidden thing in the country and a far more forbidden thing if he was his teacher (which he no longer is).  In fact Z. and N. both graduated some time ago.  N. had gone to America to be lawyer and had a miserable time.  Z, knew he would and even the teacher knew he would.  But that’s what N.’s mother wanted for him.  He tells them that after the bad year he has decided to student literature.  How did he convince his mother?

I just failed all my classes. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LUCIUS-Live at the Newport Folk Festival (July 27, 2018).

I was considering going to see Lucius at Union Transfer on July 25.  Something came up and I wound up not getting tickets.

While hearing a stream of them isn’t quite as good as seeing them live (especially since their look is so arresting), it was great to hear what I missed.

For this tour, Lucius was unplugged–acoustic versions of their songs and some covers.

It sounds like there may have been more going on at Newport (as there always is)

Accompanied by members of yMusic, students from the Berklee College of Music on strings and J. Blynn, along with Lucius regulars Jess Wolfe, Holly Laessig, Dan Molad, and Peter Lalish. The group also incorporated choreography into the set, with the dancers known as The Seaweed Sisters.

Songs included favorites new and old, like “Woman” and Turn It Around.” Tears were shed as they movingly tributed the recently departed producer and musician Richard Swift. Lucius performed Swift’s song “The Most of What I Know” (from his 2006 album Dressed Up for the Letdown) and, in typical Newport fashion, were joined by Brandi Carlile and the Twins, Nicole AtkinsSharon Van Etten and Bedouine.

Go Home” is my favorite song of theirs.  They opened with it.  I could have gone home happy.  “Right Down the Line” is a song I didn’t know by Gerry Rafferty.  It sounds pretty 70s–slick and poppy.  “Something About You”  featured the Seaweed Sisters doing choreography.

“Feels Like a Curse” is a slower number with strings.  It’s quite pretty.

“Turn It Around” is another favorite of mine, with big claps and a wonderfully catchy chorus (yes, I would have stayed for this!)  I love the power behind the chorus: “She’s looking through the wrong end of the telescope ha!”

Brandi Carlisle joins them for “Dusty Trails” and when they sing the “we’ll be alright” at the end, it is really transportive.

Next up

“They movingly tributed the recently departed producer and musician Richard Swift. Lucius performed Swift’s song “The Most of What I Know” (which I don;t know) and, in typical Newport fashion, were joined by Brandi Carlile and the Twins, Nicole Atkins, Sharon Van Etten and Bedouine.

“How Loud Your Heart Gets” is a little too overwhelmed by strings to really appreciate their vocals (which is crazy since they sing loud!).  “Woman” also sounds great and is a stunning set closer. The “encore” (sort of) is “A Dream Is A Wish” a lovely a capella version.

Below is the set list from Newport and what i would have seen had I gone to Union Transfer.

SET LIST:

  • “Go Home”
  • “Right Down The Line” (Gerry Rafferty)
  • “Something About You”
  • “Feels Like A Curse”
  • “Turn It Around”
  • “Madness”
  • “Dusty Trails”
  • “Most Of What I Know” (Richard Swift) [did not play at UT]
  • “Two of Us On The Run”
  • “How Loud Your Heart Gets”
  • “Woman”
  • “A Dream Is A Wish” (Daniel Bedingfield-Disney Song)

UNION TRANSFER SETLIST (duplicated songs in bold)

  1. Go Home
  2. Tempest
  3. Right Down the Line (Gerry Rafferty)
  4. Something About You
  5. Neighbors
  6. Feels Like a Curse
  7. Until We Get There
  8. Sweet and Tender Romance (The McKinleys)
  9. Turn It Around
  10. Madness
  11. True Love Will Find You in the End (Daniel Johnston)
  12. Two of Us on the Run
  13. How Loud Your Heart Gets
  14. Woman
  15. Dusty Trails
  16. Strangers (The Kinks)
  17. A Dream Is A Wish (Daniel Bedingfield-Disney Song)

[READ: August 6, 2018] “Displaced”

I enjoyed this story but it seemed to take forever.  I attribute this to Ford’s writing style although there’s nothing I could point to about it that makes me feel this way.

This is a story about a recently turned 16 year old boy, Henry, whose father died unexpectedly.  Henry’s main sadness about the is that if his father had lived longer, his mother would have divorced him and Henry could have gone o military school.

He is now alone, with his mother, in the South.  His fellow students have placed him in a strange limbo because of his father;s death .  He doesn’t like it.

In their neighborhood is a house for “transients.”  Out front is a sign that says DIAL 33377 (that’s all) and everyone referred to it as the DIAL house.  Secretaries and waitresses lived there.   Young married couples.  Even two men living together.  Henry realizes now that he and his mother were transients too, they just didn’t call themselves that. (more…)

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