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Archive for the ‘Ice Cream’ Category

[ATTENDED: August 27, 2019] Playboy Manbaby

When I heard about Okilly Dokilly from The Simpsons, I decided that I would like to see them live.  So, when it was announced that they would be playing with Mac Sabbath (who I’d never heard of), at a venue fairly close to me, I grabbed a ticket.  Hilariously (although not for me), this show apparently sold so poorly that by a week before the event, the venue was literally giving tickets away.  So I signed up for free tickets and then couldn’t get anyone to go with me.  Oh well.  [The band did sell out venues in Florida, so it’s not like no one goes to see them].

Of the three bands, Playboy Manbaby was the one I was least interested in.  But in the end, they were the band I enjoyed the most.

Playboy Manbaby is from Phoenix. Okilly Dokilly is also from Phoenix (and PM used most of Okilly Dokilly’s gear).

They usually have horns, but for this show (and tour?) they were a four piece:  Robbie Pfeffer on vocals, TJ Friga on guitar, Chris Hudson on bass, [with a Big Gay Ice Cream shirt on] and Chad Dennis on drums.  Unlike the other two bands, this band didn’t have a gimmick, they were just a kind of goofy, fun punk rock band. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PERFUME GENIUS-Tiny Desk Concert #627 (June 12, 2017).

Perfume Genius is a delicate-sounding band.  Singer Mike Hadreas has a gentle voice.  Oon the first song he’s almost drowned out by the (relatively quiet) guitar from Tom Bromley.  The songs are also deeply personal–he wrote most of the new album as a love letter to his boyfriend (the keyboardist Alan Wyffels).

Hadreas’ voice is really affecting, especially when you can hear him clearly.

“Valley” is in waltz-time (with the guitar keeping rhythm for much of the song before the drums and keys come in).  The drums (by Herve Becart) are simple but wonderfully deep and resonant

“Slip Away” reminds me (and I can’t believe how many singers have sounded like this guy to me) of the band Dear Mr. President, a kind of aching falsetto.  The guitar is a little louder, rockier.  But the best part of the song (and the part that does not remind me of DMP) is the gorgeous chorus where everyone sings along to some “ooohooh.”

The final song is an older one called “Normal Song” it is just Hadreas and Wyffels and it is the most tender and delicate song yet.  Hadreas plays some simple, quiet chords (in waltz time again) as he sings:

“Take my hand when you are scared and I will pray,”

“… And no secret, no matter how nasty, can poison your voice or keep you from joy.”

The delicate ringing keys in the middle of the song are really pretty and I like the way they don’t play while he is singing–it’s just him and his guitar.

[READ: December 28, 2011] “Fly Already”

The premise of this story is at once humorous and horrifying.

And on a reader’s note: as an American unless told otherwise, I imagine all stories are set here (I assume that’s not an uncommon reaction to fiction).  So even though I know that Keret is not writing in America, often his stories don’t really need a location (which is awesome).  But then he gives away one detail that makes you realize the story isn’t set here.  That detail will come in a moment.

As the story opens, a man and his son, P.T. are walking to the park.  En route they see a man on top of a building.  The boy (who is 5) says, “he wants to fly!”  But the father knows a more reasonable (and terrible) reason why the man is on the roof of the builidng looking over the edge. (more…)

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zooms SOUNDTRACK: NOVALIMA-Tiny Desk Concert #208 (April 12, 2012).

novalimaNovalima is a band from Peru.  And the blurb really captures them quite well:

Something about tradition inspires reverence and creativity. Throughout Latin America and parts of the U.S., musicians are exhuming centuries-old musical cultures and infusing them with new life to create songs that sound both familiar and new. Peru’s Novalima is doing just that with Afro-Peruvian music.

Over the course of three superb albums, the group has addressed the legacy of slavery in Peru in the form of the traditional lando, a dance rhythm with roots in West Africa. The slow, deliberate beats are played out on a variety of traditional instruments — most notably the cajon, a big rectangular box that drummers hit before drawing sounds out with their palms and fingers. The result can be as deep as a bass drum, but can also hit the high-pitched pops of finely tuned bongos or Middle Eastern dumbeks.

They play three songs which feature acoustic guitar and five string bas anda  lot of percussion–including a donkey jawbone.

“Karimba”is sung by one of the men drumming.  There’s lots of group singing as well–a real party feel.

“Guayabo” and “Festejo” are sung by the female singer.  The bass line for “Guayabo” is just great–weird and almost punk.  It’s kind of sinister even if they don’t sound sinister singing over it.  He’s also wearing a strange kind of drum around his neck–like a box that opens and closes (and you store the sticks in it, apparently.  The middle of the song is all percussion and voice–a celebration of sorts, before that bass returns.

“Festejo” also has a strange, interesting guitar riff.  There’s some great call and response parts of the song–the men really getting into it.  As the song ends the guy with the box and the woman get up and dance in the crowd.  By the end of the song, you realize that it’ sa lot of fun–a groovy dance song like no song you’ve ever head before.

[READ: March 7, 2016] Johnny Boo Zooms to the Moon

As this fifth book opens Johnny is riding a skateboard and Squiggle is towing him.  They are going to go to the moon.  But even Squiggle Power cant get the skateboard to move more than a few inches.  But Squiggles never give up so they wind up falling asleep, no further than when they started.

In the dark, stars come down to see what Johnny is doing.  They tell him he needs star shaped wheels to go to the moon, and that “almost makes sense.”

The stars prove to be very funny–fighting over counting and them fixing his skateboard by braking the wheels of so the stars are now wheels.

And off they zoom, going very fast! (more…)

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applesSOUNDTRACK: SO PERCUSSION-Tiny Desk Concert #205 (April 2, 2012).

So Percussion is a quartet who plays nothing but percussion.  When we think percussion we often think rhythm, but these guys (Eric Beach, Josh Quillen, Adam Sliwinski and Jason Treuting) also provide great melody.

The band is inspired by John Cage.  He’s “their guy.”  They have written songs inspired by him and also perform his pieces.

Though audiences are still often puzzled or even infuriated by Cage, the composer brought essential joy and optimism to his work. Music is everywhere, Cage taught; frame sound, even the sounds of everyday life, and hear what is there. In the signature mix of serious play (or is that playful seriousness?) that So Percussion brought to this unusual Tiny Desk Concert, the group mixed a work by Cage (the first movement of his Living Room Music) with two pieces by Treuting: Life Is [ ] and 24 X 24, in which the text Quillen reads aloud comes from Cage’s own writings. Inasmuch as many of their instruments are quotidian tools, the sounds they create can be magical.

The first piece was written by the band’s Jason Treuting, called “Life Is [ ].”  It’s just under three minutes and is primarily wood blocks.  But there are also xylophones and bells (and many other things).

All four have mallets and are clacking on the wood blacks.  But each player has something else that makes a melody–tiny cymbals, the xylophone, bells that you tap with your hand–and they create a pretty melody (and the wood blocks provide interesting counterpoint rhythm).

Since John Cage is their guy they made a piece that celebrates the way he made music: “24 X 24.” Cage celebrated “time-based structures and task-based sound things.”  So this piece is flexible and malleable.  They are going to play an 8 minute version of the song which includes a spoken word of a Cage lecture [the entire lecture is reprinted at the bottom of the post].

The narrator counts down from 8, which is interesting.  Then he recites (including coughs and other noises) a piece by Cage about music and art.  While he is reciting, instruments include the melodica and harmonium, a musical saw, a coffee cup full of change (at one point instead of tapping the cup, he takes the change out and state each denomination out loud).  They also play the side of the desk, a cactus plant (that is pretty cool to see), even plucking the Emmy on the desk.

The final piece is a John Cage composition.  It is the first part of a longer piece called “Living Room Music.”  Back in the early 40s Cage wrote a piece called “Living Room Music” which was supposed to take place in a living room.  And this is our living room.  They play the first part   called “To Begin.” It’s just under a minute, but the sounds they get from a waste basket (like a bass drum), a package of paper towels, a stapler, the desk and the coffee mug is really cool.

Even people who don’t like John Cage have to appreciate what he was going for with this kind of music.

[READ: March 3, 2016] Johnny Boo & The Happy Apples

In this third book of the series, Johnny Boo, Squiggle and the Ice Cream Monster are back.

Johnny eats some ice cream and then shows off how strong it has made him. But when Squiggle accidentally “pops” Johnny’s muscle and it gets all floppy, there is much concern.  Things are even worse for Johnny when the ice cream monster (from the first book) comes and shows off his huge muscles that he got from eating apples.  If Squiggle laughs at Johnny’s floppy muscle you know there will be hurt feelings.  And there are.

Johnny runs off to find some happy apples to make his muscles strong, but he winds up eating apples from the ground, which makes his muscles super floppy (pretty hilarious looking). (more…)

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johnny-twinkleSOUNDTRACK: SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR-Tiny Desk Concert #209 (April 16, 2012).

sgcDressed all in black with pink accents the Soweto Gospel Choir certainly looks striking.  And their voices are superb.

The blurb notes that they

managed to tie the all-time record for most musicians squashed behind Bob Boilen’s desk for a single performance in the NPR Music offices. (They join the early-music a cappella ensemble Stile Antico, also with 12).

[I wonder if they keep statistics like this–I’d like to see numbers].

The Choir sings

in a number of South African languages, as well as English, Soweto Gospel Choir fuses the praise music of many Christian cultures, with nods to traditional African songs of celebration — complete with occasional clicks and bird songs.  To watch and sway along was to be blasted with some sort of ray gun that shoots beams of joy and hope.

They sing four pieces.   I don’t know what the songs area bout except for what the brief introductions tell us.

Two different women are the lead singers for the first two songs (no names are given). “Seteng Sediba” and “Emarabeni” which is a wedding song.  A man introduces the rest of the songs.  He says that “Emlanjeni/Yelele” is a traditional song and then he sings lead.  The final song “Kae le Kae” translates to Wherever I Go I Go with Jesus.

For each song the Choir sounds amazing together.  They only person not singing is the guy on the end who is playing the djembe to keep rhythm.  They sway in sync and hold hands up at the same time. They are something to watch.

As the final song ends, the Choir walks out of the room past everyone singing all the while.  It’s a great ending (and gives us a peek into the NPR offices).

[READ: March 3, 2016] Johnny Boo: Twinkle Power

This is the second Johnny Boo book and Johnny, Squiggle and the Ice Cream Monster are all back.

One thing that really cracks me up about the Johnny Boo books is how easily he and Squiggle get mad at each other.  And they always threaten to be mad forever.

In this book, Squiggle flies around Johnny’s head and makes his “hair” stand straight up.  This cracks up Squiggle and makes Johnny very angry and he threatens to never be friends with Squiggle again.

Of course this all started because Squiggle thinks that the stars have amazing Twinkle Power and he thinks it’s even better than Johnny’s Boo Power (GASP!).  Squiggle wants to go up to the stars to see if he can learn Twinkle Power. (more…)

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johnny-1  SOUNDTRACK: RUDRESH MAHANTHAPPA-Tiny Desk Concert #201 (March 8, 2012).

rudreshRudresh Mahanthappa is a saxophonist whom I had not heard of but who is obviously very highly regarded (he won a Guggenheim Fellowship).

He plays jazz in very different styles, and totally wails (“a swarm of locusts rampaging through an irregular beat”), but has also experimented with different styles.  As the blurb says:

That latest album, 2011’s Samdhi, borrows a bit from … electric funk excesses … and integrates ideas from South Indian scales and modes, hip-hop and computer music programming.

The quartet here is top-notch:

Drummer Rudy Royston and Mahanthappa played in a Denver-based band together some 20-odd years ago, and have since reconnected in New York; electric bassist Rich Brown has played in just about every conceivable setting from his home base of Toronto, including the Canadian Indo-jazz group Autorickshaw; guitarist Rez Abbasi is a long-time confrere in the dual worlds of jazz and South Asian music.

They play two fairly long songs.

“Killer” starts the show.  I really loved the sound that the guitar had–a kind of electric organ/funk sound. Mahanthappa takes off right away.  One thing that was very cool was when I thought he was playing an improvised solo, but the guitarist was able to play exactly what he played both right after him and then with him (clearly it was part of the song–but it sounded great with the two of them together).  After about 4 minutes of wild noisy soloing it mellows out with a long groovy guitar solo–Rez is really impressive.  About a minute after that, the song picks up with some great drumming behind a wild guitar solo.   Around 8 minutes, the drummer gets his own impressive solo.  The ending is great and super fast.  The band sounds amazingly tight throughout.

I really love the sound of his backing band and while his sax playing is amazing and insanely fast, I actually prefer the middle section without the sax–it’s a little too frenetic for me (which is surprising, as I usually like this–I must not have been in the mood when listening).

“Playing With Stones” opens with a lengthy bass “solo” it’s a series of very quickly plucked notes that sounds almost like drums–its very cool. It lasts almost a minute and a half before the rest of the band kicks in.  There’s a great bass line throughout this track too–bouncy and a little funky.  I enjoyed the moment where Rich notices he’s on camera and gives a little smile.  As the song ends you hear them say “pretty pretty good” like Larry David.

Between songs Mahanthappa explains that all of the music on the album resulted from the Guggenheim Fellowship.  It went for research in India, looking for new ways to bridge certain areas of South Indian music and jazz with hip-hop and funk.  There’s also a funny moment when he introduces Rich and says, “He’s Canadian, don’t hold it against him.”  He mentions the CBC and then Rez says “And Tim Horton’s.”  Rich snaps “that’s not funny,” to much amusement.

[READ: February 1, 2016] Johnny Boo

Johnny Boo is a fun children’s series by James Kochalka.

Johnny Boo is a white ghost with a big swirl of “hair?” on top.  Has a pet ghost named Squiggle.  I love how simply these characters are drawn (as Kochalka tends to) and yet they are totally consistent.

As the story opens Johnny and Squiggle are playing around in the field.  Johnny is running while Squiggle is floating around   Squiggle has Squiggle Power and is able to float and swirl.  While Johnny has Boo power which is him shouting Boo very loudly and frightening Squiggle.

Squiggle is upset hat Johnny does this.  Squiggle gets mad, but Johnny says that they will get ice cream.  Which makes everything okay. (more…)

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sticiceSOUNDTRACK: NEIL INNES-Tiny Desk Concert #127 (May 11, 2011).

innesNeil Innes is one of the musical voices of Monty Python and The Rutles.  He is also the creator of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.  I was delighted to see that he did a Tiny Desk concert.

In addition to creating clever songs, he is big into wordplay.  So, he has some great statements before starting:

“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen here and viewer.”

“It’s wonderful to be.”

“You know, not so long ago and its been very lucky for me.”

He plays his perhaps most well-known song, “I’m the Urban Spaceman” on guitar.  It is wonderfully surreal (at the end he describes it as a medley of hit).

For “Democracy” he play a tiny ukulele.  This song is not funny (well a little).  It is political, straightforward and pointed.

For the final song, he play The Rutles’ “I Must Be In Love” (with appropriate accent).  He tries to get everyone to sing the really high Ooooh note and then gives up.

And then he’s gone.  It’s delightful.

[READ: August 10 2015] Stick Dog Dreams of Ice Cream

By this point (the fourth book) the Stick Dog series has gotten a little predictable.  I mean, basically the dogs want to get food right?  But Watson still manages to keep the stories funny.  I see that for this book the illustrations are “by Ethan Long based on original sketches by Tom Watson”  I have a hard time believing that Watson was too busy to draw these very simple figures, but whatever.

I also find it hard to believe that these dogs have never tasted ice cream before–surely they have scavenged a wrapper somewhere.  But best not to think too carefully, right?

because it is summer time and it is very hot.  The dogs are all looking for something to cool them off.  They go out in search of a nice cool water source.

But the best parts of the story are when the dogs get distracted.  On the way for water, Poo-Poo smells something.  They hope it is hot dogs or pizza, but it is…a squirrel.  Stick Dog is afraid of this because Poo-Poo will be not let the squirrel go.  But Stick Dog convinces him to leave it.  And they are off. (more…)

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