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Archive for the ‘Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band’ Category

[ATTENDED: February 7, 2020] Garcia Peoples

I saw Garcia Peoples on New Year’s Eve eve at a Phish after party.  The show was great with them playing their new 30 minute song “One Step Behind” as well as a few others.  For that show, their original bassist Derek Spaldo was in town (after this Philly show I talked to Tom Malach and he told me that Spaldo lives in Chicago and tours with them when he can–sometimes they are a six-piece band).  That show was great.  It was the second time I’d seen them playing a short set and I really wanted to catch them as a headliner. So I was pretty excited to see that they’d be playing Boot & Saddle (even if I’d only seen them a month ago I wanted to check them out again).

When I arrived the place was pretty empty, but by the time Garcia Peoples went on, it had filled in nicely.  I was intrigued by the diversity of ages in the crowd–a lot of old Dead-heads and a few younger frat boy types as well as a lot of (drunk?) women.  I am also pretty certain that Chris Forsyth was in the audience.

The crowd was responsive and really appreciative whenever the guys played some impressive soloing (which was often).

I was intrigued to see that Spaldo was not with them this time but bassist Andy Cush was.  Cush played with them when I first saw them.  This means that there are two guys who know the bass parts to their songs. Pretty cool. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 31, 2019] Ryley Walker

I saw Ryley Walker open for Calexico in May of 2018.  He played with a trio–second guitar and bass.

Even though I was at the show, I clearly didn’t remember it very well, because I was puzzled why he was on this jam band bill.  The confusion is because I mostly remembered him singing the song “Telluride Speed,” a mellow folky song.

But re-watching some of the videos from that show I realize that much of the show was instrumental jams between he and his co-guitarist Bill McKay.  So I should have realized it made sense.

But I was so puzzled when he came out and started playing that I genuinely wasn’t sure if it was the same guy.

In part because the music he was playing was abstract and noisy and utterly experimental.  (It makes sense that his jamming for Calexico would be a bit more folky).  Plus, he looked completely different. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 31, 2019] Chris Forsyth + Garcia Peoples

I was blown away the first time I heard Chris Forsyth’s album Dreaming in the Non-Dream.  When I saw his Tiny Desk Concert I was convinced that he was someone I wanted to see live.

Forsyth is based in Philly which means I should be able to see him a lot.  And, in fact, he does seem to play in the area quite a lot. But always when I’m unavailable!  So, if it meant travelling to NYC to see him so be it.

Garcia Peoples’ set ended at around 1:15 and, since they were backing up Forsyth, there was no take down/set up to deal with.  At around 1:30, Forsyth came up on stage and made sure his stuff was in order. Then he called back Garcia Peoples to the stage and off they went.

Like the GP set, Forsyth only played three songs.  And like the GP set, it lasted 45 minutes of awesomeness.

They started with Forsyth’s new song “Tomorrow Might as Well Be Today.”  It’s got a great opening riff and the song just takes off from there.  The song is only 4 minutes on the record (his latest record Mystic Mountain), but they jammed it out for a few minutes more.  Forsyth’s soloing was just fantastic. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 31, 2019] Garcia Peoples

I saw Garcia Peoples about a year ago when they opened for Heron Oblivion.  I really liked them and knew I’d want to see them again.  The fact that this year they were on a bill with Chris Forsyth, who I also really wanted to see, and it was an after-party show after the final Phish show I’d be seeing of the year made it even more cool.

I was even willing to stay in NYC until 3 AM to see it!

I arrived at Le Poissin Rouge early enough to get a slice of pizza in the Village (yum) and even get a drink at LPR (the bartender assumed my change was a tip, apparently).

I parked myself on the right side of the stage (I usually prefer the left side, but it was a little crowded there).  I wound up being right in front of GP’s guitarist Tom Malach (who looked different since last time he wore a toque the whole night).

The big difference between these shows was that last time Andy Cush was on bass, but this time it was Derek Spaldo, who also sang lead vocals much of the time.  I understand Andy is still in the band–do they alternate venues?  Well, whatever the case, I thought Cush was great last time and I thought Spaldo was great this time.

This band is so much fun to watch.  Spaldo is often playing a great grooving bassline while Malach and other guitarist Danny Arakaki trade amazing licks. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CHRIS FORSYTH & THE SOLAR MOTEL BAND-Dreaming in the Non-Dream (2017).

I was anticipating watching Forsyth at the end of last year but the show sold out on me.  (Note: he is playing nearby this Friday).

I heard about him from a stellar Tiny Desk Concert and was totally psyched to hear this four-song full length album.

The disc opens with the 11 minute History & Science-Fiction that starts with a slow bass line and lots of percussion.  After a short intro the guitar comes in with whammy bar’d chords.  It resolves into a really catchy “chorus” and then a slow down that reminds me of a softer “Marquee Moon.”  But instead of turning into a rocking solo section, it totally mellows out, with keyboards and cymbals and a pretty guitar melody.  It slowly builds out of that by switching from organ to sax.

“Have We Mistaken the Bottle for the Whiskey Inside” is the only song with words.  Of the four it’s my least favorite, but that’s only because I like his guitar playing better than his singing.  It’s a fairly simple riff–kind of Crazy Horse-ish with Forsyth’s deep spoken-singing asking the title question.  After about 3 and a half minutes, the song starts to pick up speed and turns into a huge freak out of noise and chaos. 
“Dreaming in the Non-Dream” begins as a simple picked guitar line repeating.  Throw in some a steady drum beat and some buzzy synths and the song starts to build. And then Forsyth’s soloing makes an appearance.  At first he is just playing harmony notes alongside the lower notes but at the 2 minute mark, the full throttle wah-wah guitar soloing takes off (the backing guitar also throws in some cool wah-wah, too).  And the song runs as a full instrumental for over 15 glorious minutes.  But it is not just a 15 minute guitar solo.  The whole band gets involved–the rest of the band is fully present and there’s a synth solo.  But it’s all within that catchy melody line.  Fifteen minutes never went by so fast.
 “Two Minutes Love” is a beautiful two-minute song.  Gentle guitars interweaving over lush bass lines and twining with the other guitar.  It’s a nice delicate end to that spiraling CD.

[READ: December 27, 2017] Obama: An Intimate Portrait

Sarah got me this book for Christmas and it is awesome.  I wanted to spend 2018 looking forward, getting past the dumpster fire of 2017 and hoping we can move past what we are bogged down with.  #ITMFA #RESIST

But this book was just an amazing look back and something that gives me hope that we can move forward past what we have now.

Pete Souza is a tremendous photographer and this collection offers amazing access to a President who was full of gravitas and thoughtfulness.

We were concerned that reading this would be too depressing given the State of our country and the Embarrassment in Chief.  And in some ways it was depressing.  But in many ways it was what it was intended to be: inspirational.

It’s hard to believe that before our Chief Idiot was bumbling his way through life and giving literally zero thought to anything except his own ego, we as a country had 8 years of a leader who, these pictures show, put serious thought and concern into (almost) everything he did.  Obama was never quick to do anything–he was often mocked for his slow speech patterns–but this is a job where rushing to judgment never does anyone any good.  And you can see the pressures of the world weighing on him.

But this book is not all about pressure.  There are delightful moments of joy–with his daughters, with delightful citizens, with staff and of course with Michele. (more…)

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[NO SHOWS: December 29, 2017]

December 29, 2017 was a night of many many shows that I was interested in.  I thought it would be fun to end my season of many concerts near the year end (but not on New Year’s Eve, because I have a family, after all–even though Phish beckoned).

So the first option was Phish at Madison Square Garden.  They were playing three nights for New Years.  I tried to get tickets to any of the three, because sure I Would have absolutely gone on New Years Eve, who am I kidding).  But in the band’s lottery I did not get any GA tickets.  I have seen them twice before but I really only wanted to see them up close.  So when no GA were forthcoming, I basically decided I wouldn’t go. Even though I love CashorTrade, I wasn’t willing to fight for them.  Plus, there were other possibilities. (more…)

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moors SOUNDTRACK: CHRIS FORSYTH & THE SOLAR MOTEL BAND-Tiny Desk Concert #549 (July 15, 2016).

solarIn the blurb about The Solar Motel band, Lars Gotrich says that Chris Forsyth’s group usually plays high energy and maximum volume.  But here, they have picked some of their more mellow pieces.  And I frankly think they are all fantastic (I actually don’t even want to hear their louder stuff).

“Harmonious Dance” opens with four single repeated notes before the slow echoed chords fill the room.  The drummer is playing with brushes and dangling some bells (which he eventually holds in his mouth while playing with both hands).  There’s a feeling of Explosions in the Sky on this song–but without as much drama.  Rather, the mid section turns away from the vibrato to a more structured picked section which allows room for a guitar solo.  The blurb says the song “meditates on a gently unfolding melody shared between Forsyth and guitarist Nick Millevoi.”

Speaking of the drummer, the blurb tells us that “due to touring conflicts, The Solar Motel Band’s rhythm section is different here than on record, but bassist Matt Stein provides a grounding force, as drummer Ryan Jewell … loosens the very ground beneath it all.”

Forsyth introduces the second song with the strange comment: “It gives me great pleasure to say the title of this next song: ‘The First Ten Minutes Of Cocksucker Blues.'” Why great pleasure?  Anyhow, the title refers to the unreleased Rolling Stones documentary directed by Robert Frank.  There’s a kind of funky, rougher edge to this song that has Forsyth playing some simple chords while Millevoi plays some wailing classic-rock-style solos.  In fact, the whole thing has a classic rock feel, except with a more contemporary jamming feel.

A buzzing drone segues into “Boston Street Lullaby.”  Unlike the other two songs this one is very mellow and kind of trippy. At times (especially the way that Millevoi bends some of his guitar licks it feels distinctly like Pink Floyd’s “Echoes.”  The end has some cool jangly spacey guitar and Jewell is doing all sorts of interesting things to the kit, including changing the sound of his snare by pressing on it at different spots.

I am curious to hear what other kinds of stuff they play.

I am bummed to read that they opened for Super Furry Animals this summer.  I really wanted to get to that show, but I was out of town.  That would have been a great double bill.

[READ: November 14, 2016] The Moors

Back in 2014, I ordered all 16 books from Madras Press. Unfortunately, after publishing the 16 books they seem to have gone out of business (actually they are switching to non-fiction, it seems). They still have a web presence where you can buy remaining copies of books.  But what a great business idea this is/was

Madras Press publishes limited-edition short stories and novella-length booklets and distributes the proceeds to a growing list of non-profit organizations chosen by our authors.  The format of our books provides readers with the opportunity to experience stories on their own, with no advertisements or miscellaneous stuff surrounding them.

The format is a 5″ x 5″ square books that easily fit into a pocket.

Proceeds from Marcus’ book go to the Friend Memorial Public Library in Maine.

This is a story that is set in the time it takes for a woman to fill up her mug of coffee.

It begins with the amusing concept that our protagonist Thomas saying that he felt bad about speaking in baby talk to a colleague.  And then it pulls back so we can see just what is happening.

Thomas has incredibly low self esteem.  He immediately takes a dislike to this colleague who is so composed and together.  He wonders if there’s a word for the contempt that he imagines she feels for everyone around her (based on the way she walks and is dressed).

And then over what seemed like three dozen too many pages, we learn the extent of his insecurities.  He is too fat, he might have erectile disfucntion, he believes that they are throwing pigeons at the windows every hour to mark time.

He is so insecure and his lashing out is just so unpleasant that I really didn’t want to read about why he acts this way (which we do sort of learn at he end).

Essentially this is man at a loss.  The way his home life has been going has certainly compounded his loss.  But the road to get there felt too long and either too misogynistic or self-pitying most of the time.

If this had been half as long I would have liked it much better.  Although I really don’t think I could ever actually enjoy reading about this character–baby talk or not.

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