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Archive for the ‘Pokey LaFarge’ Category

boilenSOUNDTRACK: ANGEL OLSEN-Tiny Desk Concert #333 (January 27, 2014).

angelBob Boilen has liked Angel Olsen for some time, so when she did her Tiny Desk and most of us had never heard of her, he was already a fan.

Olsen plays a long set but with four songs.

She sits very still, strumming with her thumb and singing kind of low–not unlike Sharon van Etten.  The first song, “Unfucktheworld” is only two ans a half minutes.  The second song, “Iota,” is a little longer.  She sings in an affected almost falsetto style, although the guitar remains very spare.

Between these songs, she is coy about the title of the new record although she is quick to say the first word of the title “burn.”  Later she admits that the final song contains the title of the album, if we wanted to spend time figuring it out.

I marvelled at how high the chords were that she played on “Enemy,”  She seems to eschew any bass for this song.  This one is five and a half minutes long and is just as slow as the others.

Before the final song they talk about whether this is the most awkward show she has done.  She says everyone is very alert–and indeed you can hear utter silence between songs.  But then they talk about the storm outside (and potential tornado) and how this show may never air if the storm is really bad.

“White Fire” is an 8 minute story song.  She does use the whole guitar for this one, which has many many verses.   Since I don’t really know Olsen’s stuff that well, I don’t know if this was a good example of her show or a fun treat to hear her in such an intimate way.

[READ: May 10, 2016] Your Song Changed My Life

This site is all about music and books, but you may be surprised to know that I don’t really like books about music all that much.  I have read a number of them—biographies, autobiography or whatever, and I don’t love them wholesale. Some are fine, but in general musicians aren’t really as interesting as they may seem.

What I do like however, is hearing a decent interview with musicians to find out some details about them–something that will flesh out my interest in them or perhaps make me interested in someone I previously wasn’t.  Not a whole book, maybe just an article, I guess.

I also really like Bob Boilen. I think he’s a great advocate of music and new bands.  I have been listening to his shows on NPR for years and obvious I have been talking about hundreds of the Tiny Desk Concerts that he originated.  I also really like his taste in music.  So I was pretty psyched when Sarah got me this book for my birthday.

I read it really quickly–just devoured the whole thing.  And it was really enjoyable. (more…)

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walrusjulySOUNDTRACK: POKEY LAFARGE-Live on Mountain Stage (2012).

pokey2I really only know Pokey LaFarge from NPR (they’ve embraced them, but I haven’t heard them anywhere else).  Pokey and his band plays a mix of early string-band music, ragtime, country blues and Western swing, in a completely un-ironic way (they dress the part as well).  Like Squirrel Nut Zippers, but even more so.

Interestingly, I know the first song “La La Blues” from a previous performance (on a Tiny Desk Concert) and I actually liked that version better than this one.  This entire performance feels a little too loose.  Which is weird because the music is designed to be loose, but in the previous performances there was a little more structure which made the songs jump out a little more (or maybe the recording just isn’t loud enough).

There’s 5 songs in total: 4 originals include “Central Time,” “Drinkin’ Whiskey Tonight,” and “Won’tcha Please Don’t Do It.”  And a Jimmie Rogers song called “Peach Pickin’ Time in Georgia.”  This final song feels more authentically of the time than LaFarge’s originals but only barely, just barely (perhaps its the “gal pickin’ time” line).  And yet “Won’tch Please Don’t Do It” sounds just right too.

The best joke in the set is when Pokey says they have 78 RPM records for sale (they really do).  But that they don’t have any that night because they are sold out!

LaFarge is an engaging live performer (even if the crowd seems subdued here).  And while I don’t see myself buying any of his records, I would like to see him live–it seems like a fun show.  Check it out here.

[READ: July 15, 2013] “Somewhere, a Long Happy Life Probably Awaits You”

The prefatory paragraph that precedes up this story seems so light-hearted: “Manfred met Elizabeth when she interviewed for a position at his fortune cookie company.  She was a greeting card writer looking to branch out.”  That is an actual quote from the story, but in the story, it is a flashback after the main action of the story has begun.

When the story begins, Elizabeth is trying to protect a tree in her front yard.  It has gotten Dutch Elm disease and is to be cut down this summer.  She would like to know when, but she is only told between may and September.  While she is not going to go crazy protecting this tree, she would like some actual notification, so she can be there to say goodbye.

Going crazy, it turns out is an important thing to note, though.  Because Elizabeth from time to time goes on “safaris.”  These safaris can last an indeterminate amount of time, and in some cases may even require Manfred to track her down.  Like when she was protesting the war in front of a building (where no one else was) or, as in one case, when she was frolicking in a sprinkler in her underwear. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: POKEY LaFARGE-Tiny Desk Concert #122 (April 20, 2011).

I had never heard of Pokey LaFarge before this Tiny Desk concert was sitting in my download folder.  In fact, the notes on the page say that they had never heard of him before they saw him wandering around SXSW.  And then he climbed onstage and played a great set.

LaFarge plays an old-timey style of music.  It’s a kind of Squirrel Nut Zippers retro sound.  As with the Zippers, I love their music in small doses.  And so, this Tiny Desk set is a perfect little sample of LaFarge’s music: happy, bouncy, jazzy.  There’s an upright bass solo, songs about being happy and singing “La La La” and other upbeat stuff.  It’s quite satisfying.

Especially if, as the notes say, you use it as a kind of antidote to the raucous music that you generally listen to.  A Pokey LaFarge song will perk you out of any self-inflicted gloom.  I just don’t need to hear more than three.

[READ: April 15, 2011] 2 book reviews

It looks like Zadie Smith has become a regular fixture at Harper’s.  I’m undecided if I’m going to review all of her book reviews from now on (perhaps I’ll lump some together in one post).  But in the meantime, I’m mentioning this one primarily because she reviews the story that I mentioned in yesterday’s post: Edouard Levé’s Suicide. (more…)

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