Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Piano lessons’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KATIE VON SCHLEICHER-“Mary” NPR’S SOUTH X LULLABY (March 29, 2018).

I had never heard of Katie Von Schleicher.  I don’t know what the rest of her music sounds like.  But this ballad sounded a lot like Cowboy Junkies.

This is a pretty, sad song.  her voice is lovely, but the thing that I enjoyed the most was watching her guitarist Adam Brisbin play high notes and then a cool tumbling style of playing low notes.

This was recorded at the Spire Studio Tour Bus (basically a camper trailer, parked on Cheer Up Charlie’s lot, with brilliant recording gear, amps guitars) It’s the quietest song from Katie Von Schleicher’s magnificent 2017 album, Shitty Hits.

Katie Von Schleicher wrote to me just after this filming to tell me more about “Mary.” “I’ve been teaching a songwriting class and it’s funny now to break these things down into craft and intention,” she says via email, “but I do feel that writing to a person’s name is a really tender practice, one that can unlock kindness and a conversational tone. If speaking to a part of yourself, personifying it, singing warmly, you can spare your faults and self-criticisms by speaking as if to another person [and] maybe even take your own advice. As much as they’re personal, I’m also trying to get close to some of my favorite things, which also include Randy Newman’s ‘Marie’ and Raymond Carver’s short stories (so full of conversation). For me, ‘Mary’ is a place and time rather than a person, childhood and youth and the strange space I’ve found in going back to the house where I grew up in Maryland to make records now.”

[READ: March 28, 2018] “The Intermediate Class”

I really enjoyed the way this story used the set up of the foreign language class as a way to explore feelings and sentiments that are too hard to express.

Kiril’s mother wondered why he would want to take a German class now, why spend his time with “lazy old American housewives.”  His mother didn’t approve of his taking German back in college either.  He majored in computer science and had no time to waste.  Plus, he was a native English speaker (unlike her who was til trying to learn it).

Kiril has shown up to the Intermediate German class a little late, but the class was welcoming.  There were four people in the room: a woman with an Afro, Wanda; a pale thin woman, Morgan; a Latino man, Alejandro; a sunburned, angry white man, Arthur.  There was piano playing from behind a wall in the class.   It stopped and a man and a young woman came out.  The woman was Claire, a student in the class.  The man was the teacher.

He said he would ring a bell and they would only speak in German afterward.  When the bell rang the atmosphere changed.  (more…)

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: CHRISTMAS REMIXED 2 (2005).

I loved the first one of these CDs and this disc is only slightly less exciting than the first.  The songs continue in the same vein: most of the songs remain faithful to the original with just an upbeat drum track underneath the vocals.  I know many of these originals even less well than the last disc, so I’m sure many parts are manipulated in different ways.  But it’s all in good fun and really gets these songs moving, tastefully.

Joe Williams-“Jingle Bells” (Bombay Dub Orchestra Remix)
I love the wah-wah guitars that propel this song along.   The mephasis on the way he say o’er also makes me smile

Jimmy McGriff–“The Christmas Song” (Tonal Remix)
This is primarily a surf guitar melody with big horns thrown in as needed.  The beat rocks along wonderfully.  Therre’s even a groovy organ solo in this instrumental

Bing Crosby & Ella Fitzgerald-“Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (John Beltran Remix)
I really need to hear the original of this.  Bing and Ella have a blast together.  There’s some really fun backing vocals too.  All the remix seems to do is add some swinging drums and it sounds great.

Charlie Parker-“White Christmas” (King Kooba Remix)
This instrumental features some long-winded solos from Parker that kind of take us way from the main theme.  It’s a bit of a wandering song, but still ok.

Rosemary Clooney-“Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” (MNO Remix)
There’s a great beat throughout this song.  Rosemary’s vocals are a little spare compared to everything else.  There’s more music than singing, but maybe the remix just spreads out the few words more.

Patti Page-“Frosty The Snowman” (Rondo Brothers Remix)
This moves along quickly with the children’s choir interspersed as needed.

CSSR State Philharmonic-“Good King Wenceslas” (Patrick Krouchian Remix)
This song has a lot of loops, with the opening riff repeated a lot.  The main thing about this instrumental is the way it gets compressed and then gets loud again.  There’s not much to it, but it’s fun.

Charles Brown–“I’ll Be Home For Christmas” (Ohmega Watts Remix)
This song is particularly oidd because it sounds like  70s song with the synth and guitar.  I actually thoughtit was Stevie Winder.  I guess not all of the songs are classic.  There’s not much to it and it’s not the classic “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” either.

Bing Crosby-“White Christmas” (Kaskade Remix)
The original is slow and sentimental.  This version makes it dancey but it doesn’t lose any of Bing’s vocal stylings.  Simply putting drums on it changes everything.

The Berlin Symphony Orchestra-“Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy” (Red Baron Remix)
I love this song, the way the drums are used, the way the strings are re-purposed.  It’s terrific.

Vic Damone-“Winter Wonderland” (Future Loop Foundation Remix)
This song is fast with lots of washes of music.  I’m not really sure what the original sounds like, but this version is chopped up to make it all much faster.  It’s a cool remix.

Mahalia Jackson-“Silent Night” (46bliss Remix)
Once again, by putting a drum beat to this song it changes the tone completely.  I’m not sure that this is the best song to remix, but it sounds good this way.

It has been over ten years since this disc came out.  I assume there won’t be any more, which is a real shame as there’s so many more songs to play with.

[READ: December 16, 2017] “Tremendous Machine”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection.

This is the first (and possibly only) story I’d read before (from Harper’s in 2015).  I liked it then and enjoyed it this time.  Here’s what I said then (more…)

Read Full Post »

SOUNDTRACK: THE KLEZMER CONSERVATORY BAND-Oy Chanukah! (1987).

For the first day of Hanukkah, it’s time for a Chanukah album.

This is a collection of traditional Chanukah songs interspersed with brief stories and a history of the holiday.

It works as a musical collection, although the dialogue does obviously stop the flow every couple of minutes.

Klezmer music is fun (provided you like the clarinet), but it really can’t be dissociated from the stories behind it.

The first narrator talks about the Maccabees and the Festival of Lights.  There’s the tales of Judith and Hannah and memories of klezmorim coming to the shtetl.  There’s even a recipe for latkes and the story of the dreydl.

Some of the songs have words (sung in Yiddish) but just as many are instrumentalist.  The majority of the songs are traditional, of course, but my favorite is “Klezzified,” which is written by one of the band.

This disc is a good introduction to Chanukah music.

[READ: December 12, 2017] “Souterrain”

Once again, I have ordered The Short Story Advent Calendar.  This year, there are brief interviews with each author posted on the date of their story.

Hello. Welcome. It’s finally here: Short Story Advent Calendar time.

If you’re reading along at home, now’s the time to start cracking those seals, one by one, and discover some truly brilliant writing inside. Then check back here each morning for an exclusive interview with the author of that day’s story.

(Want to join in? It’s not too late. Order your copy here.)

This year I’m pairing each story with a holiday disc from our personal collection

This story was really powerful and it revealed all of the details and connections in a slow and excruciating way–once you realized what was happening.

There are several characters in the story which takes place primarily in France.   (more…)

Read Full Post »

septSOUNDTRACK: HAZARD TO YA BOOTY-“Movers and Shakers” (Tiny Desk Contest Runner-Up 2016).

hazardLast week, a Tiny Desk Contest winner was announced. This week, All Songs Considered posted ten runners up that they especially liked.  I want to draw attention to a couple of them.

Hazard to Your Booty, in addition to having a great name, have the most fun with the Tiny Desk setup.  They begin with two members, singer Dr Music and bassist Professor Funk chatting as if it were a talk show.  They have a fun intro and once the song starts, the scene behind them lights up and the full band appears-two sax, a trombone, a funky guitarist and a drummer.

Professor Funk plays an awesome bass and it’s clear why he is up front—he really holds the song together.  He’s got a great, clear sound (with some amazing low notes) and the whole band plays a cool riff at the end of each section—fast and complicated.

I love how committed they are to the Tiny Desk with Dr Music even using note cards and drinking from a coffee mug.

And what about the song?  It rocks, it’s funky, it’s a lot of fun.  And I’ve listened to it a bunch of time, risking my booty each time.

[READ: January 4, 2013] “Tremendous Machine”

Scibona continues to surprise me as a writer.  His last story was set in Iceland and this one is set in Poland.  And just to make things different, the main character is a Danish model name Fjóla Neergaard.

We learn a bit about Fjóla.  Her modelling career has more or less abated, although she continues to starve herself.  And she has more or less fled to Poland to get away from it all.  Why Poland?  Because her wealthy parents bought a plot of land there (the house was something of liability) once they saw how cheaply land could be gotten in the once communist country.

The house is basically a box, but Fjóla decides to buy a couch so she has something to lounge on in front of the fire.  She drove into town to a warehouse that might sell her a couch.

Her Polish is poor and after talking with a man for several minutes she winds up buying a piano instead.  She can’t play the piano–she knows nothing about the instrument in fact.  The warehouse man sells her a piano and then gives her the name of an instructor–Mrs Kloc. (more…)

Read Full Post »