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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 3 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 13, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 13, 2004. This was the 3rd night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  This show was exactly 13 years ago!

I compared all of the setlists from the nine shows and was somewhat surprised to see just how much repeating they did. Most of the repeated songs are new ones–they played a lot from 2067, which makes sense.  But for a Fall Nationals, there’s really not a lot of “popular” or “rare” stuff.  But the band is in terrific form for all nine shows and the recordings are consistently great.

Over the PA, they’re playing some good music, which Martin says, “That was my brother’s [John Tielli] band, Clark, on the PA there.  We’re the Rheostatics project.

They open the show with “It” which is a fun way to start.  Martin is feeling a little silly and sings “I grew up on dinosaurs” and the rooooars to the delight of all.

You hear Martin say, “Woodstuck?”  They play and Dave sing a line and says “That’s wrong.”  But the rest of the song is right on and at the end after “hippie child,” Martin says “waah.”  Tim tells the story of someone bringing them a 24 track master of that song in Vancouver.  But he felt it was too heavy to bring home.  Although someone (Martin?) says that it is in fact in his basement.

“Happiness” seems to rock along really nicely.  After which Martin says, “It’s Saturday night in Bonertown.  The city where you can’t.” Dave: “But you can, its’ ok to have a boner.”  Mike: “Yeah, but can you smoke it?”

“Mumbletypeg” sounds a little sloppy at the beginning and Dave doesn’t sing the first line.  But they pull it together.  It’s followed by “Marginalized” which opens with a groovy drum before the funky bass and then an introduction of Chris Stringer on the keyboards.

Mike comments, it’s such a lovely extended summer up here.  Holy french fry lights, designed to beautifully bake us.

On “Four Little Songs,” each guy takes his verse: Martin, Tim, but when it’s Mike’s turn, Chris plays some crazy trippy synth noises.  Dave gets his verse and at the end, the fast riff devolves into utter chaos with Martin and Chris just making all kinds of weird ass noises.  They end the song with the bass thumps and state “By Mennen.”

Dave introduces “The Tarleks,” “here’s a song about a super salesmen”  Once again, Martin has a lot of fun singing it.

They play a zany version of “I Dig Music” and in the middle where Mike has to do his slow part (which he seems to really dislike), he says, “For the longest time I’ve been thinking Dave’s ideas were so gay and then he offered me a martini.”  After a sip MPW sings the Seymour Stein line and then they rock the end of the song.   I really enjoy Tim singing the “too bad.” backing vocals.

AS they start “Here Comes the Image” Dave notes the “double keyboard attack, eh?”  It’s really evident in the solo section as the one keyboard plays the solo and the other plays trippy sound effects.  Then up comes Jen Foster on accordion to join them for “Who Is This Man, And Why Is He Laughing?”  Martin is singing something in his robotic voice thing but I can’t tell if it’s just sounds or actual words.  At the end, Martin says, ”That’s a nice walk in the park, doncha think?”

Tim notes: “our heritage gets to shine in that song.  A little bit of Czech, little bit of Italian, little bit of French, little bit of Polish.  No English.”

“Pornography” opens with synths which is a nice change.  coincidentally, Dave says to someone: “You put your shirt back on, I see.  Good idea, sir.”

“We Went West” continues the rather mellow middle section of the show.  At some point Dave, I think says, “while you’re there check out the place mats they’re hilarious.”

Next up is “California Dreamline.”  Dave announces, “We’d like to invite Paul Linklater up for the next song.  He sang this song with us last year on guest vocalist night and we have guest vocalist night next Wednesday.  His rendition is pretty painful.

The next guest is during “I am Drummstein” Ladies and gentlemen, the star of stage and sound in Belleville, Ontario, Mr Anthony Fragomeni:  “Too bad that you quit Vebron, wasn’t working out?  They kind of sucked.”  While they are in the middle grooving section, Tim says, “This is the Better Than Ezra part of the evening.”  In a real coincidence, on this same day in 2017, Barenaked Ladies announced a summer tour with Better Than Ezra opening.  I haven’t thought about them in ten years.

“Satan is the Whistler” is quiet and menacing to start.  Martin gets the fast guitar riff pretty well this time.  But he’s still being a little silly singing “moose away aroo aroo arroo” and then “Satan is the Whistler, Satan Live in Whistler, arooo!!!”

During the encore, they raffle off an item with a ticket.  When Tim reads out the number, someone whoops and Dave says, “There’s always one guy who claims he has won when he hasn’t won.  I wonder what void you’re trying to fill in your life.”  Then after a pause.  “Just kidding.”  No one claims the prize, so Dave says anyone can go to the merch table with it later.

“Little Bird, Little Bird” is insane.  It starts with some silliness when Dave mocks Tim for his hat and then says, “Tim you have to bring popping and snapping to country music.  It hasn’t happened yet.”  They play the song and then midway through the it stops with much laughing.  Dave says, “there’s no room for karate in this song.  Cant believe you re always trying to sneak your karate in there.”

Time retorts, “Wait a second, you guys made that “ho ha”part while I wasn’t in the studio and now it comes time to do it live and I’m the only one doing it?  Dave says: “We’re not going hoo ha and laughing in the middle of it.”
Tim asks the audience, “Who won the debate, Tim or Dave?”
Dave: “There was no debate because you’re not gonna do it any more.”
They compromise: “everybody ho ha and nobody karate.”
Tim mutters, “I hardly even karate’d I can’t believe you saw it.”
Dave: “I couldn’t help but see it, you almost took me out with one of those chops.”
Martin: “He’s feeling sensitive like a little bird.”

They finish the song and then Martin says, “okay we’ll do ‘PIN’ for ya.”  But before the song starts we get a run down of all of the opening acts for the next few shows:

Sunday matinée: Hebrew School Dropouts on at 4.
Monday night Selina Martin with the Formidable Forces of Bigness (Mike: Close enough Faceless Forces of Bigness).
Tuesday is free.  We’ll give about 61%.
Wednesday night Kevin Hearn is opening and it’s guest vocalist night.  Tim: “I’m definitely coming on Wednesday.”  Martin: “I’m going to come for every single night (get the bonus pack).”
Thursday is Killer Thursday Danny Michel.  And apparently John Wojewoda will do some Bluegrass Nightmare.
Friday the Buttless Chaps are flying in from Vancouver.
And Saturday, The Imponderables will be back.

After “PIN,” “Ozzy” sounds even more maudlin with the mandolin and backing vocals, but there’s a pretty wild solo.  There’s a special shout out to Chris Stringer: “you can’t tell but he’s actually playing all our parts for us. “

They end with a lovely ending “Making Progress” which has a wonderfully smooth ending.  Thanks to all the out of towners, out of country-ers and out of mind-ers.

Then the guys come back out to try to get rid of the raffle prize.  Tim runs through a bunch of numbers.  Come on, people get with it.  I wish I had money to burn. I remember when 50 cents meant something.  Finally he says, “Well come and get the fucking t-shirt, Oh. He’s a liar.”  This is so embarrassing… anyone show me half a ticket?

[READ: April 14, 2017] Secret Coders: Secrets & Sequences

Secret Coders 2 ended with a pretty big cliffhanger.  Tabitha and I were a little bummed that there wasn’t more of a recap at the beginning of this book.  We sure hope that book 4 has a bit of recap because we’ll never remember the ending of this one when its time for that book (which just came out).

The kids are able to use the repeat function of the turtles to scare of the mean old rugby players.  In the commotion, it sure looks like the Professor’s nose falls off (what?!).

The next day in school, one of the rugby players calls for a truce, he never realized that Principal Dean was such a bad guy.

The kids learn about parameters–how you can use the same code, but just change a variable to make a bigger object (in this case, triangles). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 2 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 12, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 12, 2004. This was the 2nd night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  This show was exactly 13 years ago!

I compared all of the setlists from the nine shows and was somewhat surprised to see just how much repeating they did. Most of the repeated songs are new ones–they played a lot from 2067, which makes sense.  But for a Fall Nationals, there’s really not a lot of “popular” or “rare” stuff.  But the band is in terrific form for all nine shows and the recordings are consistently great.

They open intensely with “Christopher.”  It’s a great version and Martin is in very good voice.  Similarly, “King Of The Past” sounds terrific.  Once again, “Pornography” opens a lot like “Bread, Meat peas and Rice,” but the backing vocals sound great .  At the end, Dave notes: “a bit of folk disco there for ya.”

Introducing “The Tarleks,” Dave says it’s “from our new album called 2067.  It’s the year of Martin’s 100th birthday and Canada’s bicentennial and the year we get a hit single.  We’re having a party and you’re all invited.  Martin: “Unfortunately so are these guys, the Tarleks.”  The song is perfect and segues right into “Marginalized” which is also great.  The whole band is in great form and I love the guitar sounds as it segues to the chorus.

“Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” is slow and fine.  And Dave says, “and you doing the super tokes you are…. from the country.  Tim: “Mmm smells good. Smells like grade 12 math class.”  MPW:  Shop class.  Dave: Back in the 70s they let you do that sort of thing …80s.  Tim, snapping fingers: “It’s cool.  Foosball is like soccer crossed with shishkabobs.”

“Fish Tailin'” rocks and then comes “Me and Stupid,” which hasn’t been played in a while.  Tim plays the riff and sings “Dave is tuning, tuning his guitar, Dave is learning how to use a tuner on his guitar.”  Dave starts the song and after the first verse he stops the song “I gotta re tune.”  Tim: “He’s just leaning.”  MPW: “That’s okay my hands hurt a little.”

“PIN” and “Mumbletypeg” sound terrific and mid song Dave says, “We’re the Rheostatics were from Etobicoke, it’s west of here.”

Dave: “We’re gonna take it down a bit.”  Tim: “We’re gonna take it down but its gonna become very heavy” with “Here Comes the Image.”  While waiting Tim pays the bass riff to “Tom Sawyer.”   Tomorrow at 2 o’clock we’ll be at Sam the Record Man.”

“Shack In The Cornfields” sounds quite different with Dave’s bass backing vocals.  It takes a while for the song to start really rocking but once it does it’s so much fun.  I like the chorus of “Try To Praise This Mutilated World” more and more.  I’m assuming by now that the spoken part is prerecorded.

“In This Town” starts quietly but martin sings a big growly ending.  “Dope Fiends and Boozehounds” slows down in the middle with a drum solo and a clapping solo.  After the solo, Selina Martin comes out and sings the end with Martin.

Martin: “Dave Alexander Herschel Bidini wrote that in 1972.”
Dave: “Hell of a year.  What with Ian Sunter’s field goal and everything.   This refers to the 60th Grey Cup in which Hamilton ran the clock down while getting close enough for Ian Sunter to kick a 34-yard field goal on the last play of the game to win.]

Tim plays a great “Bad Time To Be Poor” and Dave says “We will conclude with a song from 2067.”
Someone in the audience shouts: “what do you mean conclude?”
Dave: “what do you think I mean?  We’re fucking right off after this one.  The limo is idling, baby.”
Tim: “conclude the first set.”
Martin: “it’s really just a smoke break for me.”
Dave: “oh we got rail and hoo-ers waiting, don’t worry.”

“Making Progress” is lovely as always.  “Feed Yourself” starts off a little rocky but it sounds great.  Dave gets a little crazy with the “inside his head” bit at the end (and someone is manipulating his voice to echo and process in one way or another, which is cool).

After a quick encore break, they’re back with a Dave song while Martin smokes.  In “My First Rock Concert” he changes The Ramones to Johnny Winter for some reason.

Someone keeps shouting “Saskatchewan” and you can hear a rhythm guitar playing the melody.  Mike says this ones for the greasy wheel, but then the guitar switches to “Self Serve Gas Station” and Mike says “make up your mind I’m trying to decide which way to adjust the chair.”

Before “Desert Island Discs,” Martin notes: “We stayed in the same hotel as Van Halen a week ago.  (Those hookers in the lobby were not for us).

Desert Island Discs is sloppy and fun with people picking these discs:

Dave: Ramones-Rocket to Russia; Cars-Cars; PiL-Metal Box.
Tim: Bob Marley-Survival; Tom Waits-Closing Time (huge cheer); Pavement-Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.
MPW: It’s his first time.  He says it’s like ordering last in a restaurant.  Anything by Gino Vanelli; Music for a Large Ensemble; Steve Reich (Tim: try to follow the groove) Metal Machine Music-Lou Reed.
Martin: my first record is (plays “Tom Sawyer”); Second Mary Margaret O’Hara-Miss America; Third uh… uh… uh… uh…  Mood Music for Beer and Pretzels
audience members
first one has a hard time: Led Zeppelin, Martin Teilli-Operation Infinite Joy; Rheostatics, of course.
second one: Weakerthans-Left and Leaving; The Beatles-Rubber Soul  and… [Dave: you don;t want to hear the E minor chord] Weezer-Weezer.
As they wrap up the song Mike keeps going after the final chord.  They bust his chops and say he is in the legion hall trance.

The set ends with a great “Legal Age Life At Variety Store.”

They take an encore break and Martin comes back out with  a ‘suede banana’ jacket “Very Century 21–he sold the most houses in the band.”

For the encore, they play “Rain, Rain, Rain” and Martin introduces “Mister Dave Bidini on lead” (it’s sloppy but fun).

This show runs about 2 and a half hours and it sounds great.

[READ: April 6, 2017] Star Scouts

Boy I loved this book.  I loved everything about it, from the understated to the perfectly stated.

The book opens with an alien creature getting yelled at.  Her name is, humorously, Mabel.  Mabel is scanning planets to collect a new species.  It turns out that she is doing this for a badge for scouts.  She selects a newt.  But she accidentally switches from Newt to New Kid (an amusing joke if not a little strange) and the teleportation begins.

The New Kid is Avani.  Avani speaks Hindi (which in itself is pretty awesome).  She and her dad (there is no mention of a mom) have just moved to a new place.  Avani has no friends.  She thinks everyone thinks she’s weird.  Even though she feels like an outsider she is also keeping people away, determined to feel sorry for herself.

The only social activity she has is Flower Scouts. Back home he Scouts were awesome, but here they just talk about make up and boys.  When Avani tries to talk about rodeos, the other kids laugh at her.  And they are equally horrified when she doesn’t swoon over Chaz Wunderlip the boy band sensation.  She would like nothing more than to get out of Scouts but her dad won’t let her quit. (more…)

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olymmpSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 1 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (November 11, 2004).

The Rheostatics, live at the Legendary Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, November 11, 2004. This was the 1st night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.  This show was exactly 13 years ago!

I compared all of the setlists from the nine shows and was somewhat surprised to see just how much repeating they did. Most of the repeated songs are new ones–they played a lot from 2067, which makes sense.  But for a Fall Nationals, there’s really not a lot of “popular” or “rare” stuff.  But the band is in terrific form for all nine shows and the recordings are consistently great.

PIN is kind of sweet sounding, Martins guitar “sounds” even “smaller” than usual.  As with many versions of this era, he’s changed the line to, “you’ve got the key to my bosom.”   Then you hear Mike say, What are we playing, I don’t have a setlist.

They are playing “Soul Glue” which is delightfully chaotic with all kinds of backing vocals (MPW is great with the b voc).  Tim is having a bit of fun with this song, calling the “poliziei” and adding the line: “execrate, take a big dump on.”  It jumps right into “Polar Bears and Trees.” Martin is making some really cool scratching sounds before he brings in the big riff.   The “can’t do it” part feels like a fun improvised section with lots of different vocal parts overlapping.

Martins guitar sounds great on “Marginalized.”  I love the little fills and of course the crunchy guitar.  This song does loud and quite together very well.

Introducing “The Tarleks,” Martin says we made a new friend the other day.  His name is Frank Bonner and he played a brilliant character Herb Tarlek in the WKRP TV show.  He knew what was going on.  You never know when you meet somebody what their situation is, but his was good.”  The song is really great with lot of keyboard accents from Christopher…  Lots of banter from the band:

We got a new guy, Chris Stringer.  He’s shy but he’s new.  He’s just checking us out.  He got the elite week pass–sit on stage and play synthesizer with the group.  Did you win that off the radio station or something?  He didn’t go far enough to get the vocal mic.  Oh he got it, he went for the super deluxe gold.  He helped us make our last record and he’s up here to help us remember how to play it all.

This is the first song on our new album “Shack In The Cornfields,” it’s about growing up as a kid in Kitchener and wandering around cornfields.  Next comes “Pornography.” The intro sounds like “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”  When the song ends Mike shouts: Four. More. Beers!

The keyboard solo on “Here Comes The Image” is pretty similar to what Mike plays but with a few more frills.  “Try To Praise This Mutilated World” starts out quietly with some picked acoustic guitar.  Then Martin throws in some gentle solos and Tim adds some bass.  I love this song as it gets bigger and bigger–the guitar lines and the harmonies are just wonderful.  Its unclear who does the spoken word–recording or live?  I assume recording.

“The Royal Albert (Joey Part 2)” starts almost comically with a really strange pacing before Martin starts singing about Joey.  Midway through the song they start the riff to “Satisfaction.”  As it ends, Mikes says, “that was corpulent.”

Dave introduces a “couple of songs that kind of go together thematically.”  They play a quick two-minute romp of “Torque Torque” which segues right into “Claire.”  Martin gets a great solo which is followed by a rather strange keyboard solo.

Torque, Torque is a quite 2 minute romp that segues right into Claire  after a great martin solo there’s kind of an odd.

Send those two out to Paul Quarrington our friend nominated for the Giller Prize tonight–didn’t win but it looks good on him.  A friend of his daughter will be opening for us on Sunday: Hebrew School Drop Outs.  All ages, late afternoon matinee.

Dave: I got my beer back.  Touch and go for a minute there.  It’s called “Trailhead,” I’ve never seen of it before either.  Is that a kind of fish, Martin?  Nope. “A mythical beer fish?  Canada’s national animal is a mythical beer fish.”

“It”starts out slow and then has a roaring guitar solo in the middle.

Our new back drop for 2004 (up at the top).  Designed by Martin.  We’re auctioning them of at the end of the run and all profits will go to ….charity?  Mike: “yeah, that’s right, charity.”

“Making Progress” has a cool creepy synth opening and a very pretty acoustic guitar ending.  The more I hear “It’s Easy To Be With You” the more I’m surprised it wasn’t a hit.  There’s certainly some weird lyrical content what with it being from a kids’ album, but it’s so catchy.

“Stolen Car” starts out slow with a lengthy intro.  Martin sounds great and there’s a terrific solo from Martin.  He ends it in the middle of a line though, I think he should have stopped but kept going.

“Little Bird, Little Bird” is slow but nice.  There’s some lovely, quiet work from Martin throughout the song.  When it ends, Dave says, Happy remembrance day.  Do you say happy Remembrance Day?”  We’ll do two more for you.  It’s getting late.  Don’t want to overstate our case.

They play “Aliens” which sounds great.  There’s a cool spacey solo and some fun bass work from Tim in the middle of the song.  It gets extended with Tim playing a faster bass line and Martin saying “jamming!”  Martin gets into it with some crazy guitar sounds muttering “gabba gabba hey” and then the group singing all kinds of classic rock lines: “Mother…” “Voodoo Chile.”

Dave thanks everybody but Martin starts playing the opening to “I Dig Music.”

Tim: he said two more.

They have a lot of silliness with this song, appropriately.  Mike: there’s only so many more times I’m going to come out here and do this.  This is one of them. During the end part “some say I’m an animal,” Tim sings “too bad,” “too fucking bad” in falsetto.  The full song is called “I Dig Music (The Jazz Animal)” but by the end they are singing “Jazz enema.”

During the encore break, Dave says “Chris will be with us every day but tomorrow.  It’s his brother’s wedding tomorrow (Mike says: “he’s got to spend the night in jail).

Tim: thanks to By Divine Right for starting this whole thing off in the rockingest way possible.  We have a weeklong pass that’s available for sale.

When they mention the all ages show, Mike points out: “there will be a little bowl of earplugs for the young ones.  Dave says: “You can eat em too.”  And cigarettes for the youngsters.  Dave: they don’t call them candy cigarettes anymore they call them candy stix.

They play the mellow instrumental “Who Is That Man, And Why Is He Laughing?” which I would find a disappointing encore, except it’s followed by a rocking intense “Fan Letter To Michael Jackson.”

This is a terrific show and runs almost 2 hours and 15 minutes.

[READ: Summer 2017] Olympians 9

I’m still not sure how many books O’Connor has planned for this series, although in his introduction he talks about saving his favorite books for the end, so I assume there are at least two more (although 12 seems reasonable).

Here’s the summary of the man himself:

George O’Connor is a massive geek and Greek scholar.  He has done lots of research for these books, including going to Greece and visiting sites and antiquities as well as comparing all manner of ancient stories to compile the most interesting pieces. He explains that since these stories were orally passed down, they were modified over the years.  He doesn’t change the myths, he merely picks the story lines that are most interesting to him.  And then he adds a lot of humorous modern touches (and dialogue) which keep it from being at all stuffy.

O Connor’s drawing style is also inspired by superhero comics, so his stories are presented in a way that seems much more like a super hero than a classical hero, which is also kind of fun.

Each book ends with an author’s note which is hugely informative and gives plenty of context.  It also has a bibliography, but more importantly, it has a list of notes about certain panels.  Do not skip these notes!  In addition to providing a lot of insight into the myths of the characters themselves, there are a lot of funny comments like “Greeks raced in the nude (point and laugh)” which really bring new depths to the stories. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: June 29, 2016] No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay) 

Scab McNally is a clever fourth-grade kid who is always inventing things. But he’s also kind of selfish and pretty mean to his sister.  Isabelle is his twin but because she really uses her brain (She is smart times ten) she has been bumped up from 4th grade to 5th grade.

Isabelle doesn’t understand Scab’s brand of cleverness (and mischievousness) and so she writes a daily news report about all of the things that Scab has done to her (and done at school) through the day.  She reads this to her parents every night.  It’s pretty hard for Scab to catch a break at this point.

But obviously, the more Isabelle tells on him the more things he does to her.  He puts cheese in her underwear drawer and dead bugs in her room.

This is all some background to the fact that more than anything else Scab wants a dog.  (There seem to be a lot of books about kids who desperately want a dog).  Scab’s best friend has a dog, Oscar–a wiener dog.  And Scab is super jealous but always happy to help out with Oscar.  Of course, since Isabelle is always attaining on him, his parents don’t think he is responsible to own a dog. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: ANTONIO LIZANA-Tiny Desk #614 (April 28, 2017).

I am fascinated by Lizana, but more for his voice than anything else.  Lizana’s singing voice/style sounds a lot like the lead singer of Gipsy Kings (musicians from Arles and Montpellier in the south of France, who perform in the Spanish language with an Andalusian accent).  Lizana is from Spain, but he has that same strained and fascinating delivery.  The blurb here hints that maybe that is just the style of flamenco:

In many ways, the traditions of flamenco and jazz could not be further apart, but in the hands of a few Spanish jazz musicians, these two worlds commingle and find common ground. Antonio Lizana is one such musician, both a saxophonist and vocalist with one foot firmly planted in each tradition. As a vocalist he has mastered the Moorish, note-bending improvisations that make flamenco singing so beguiling, while the fluidity of ideas he expresses as a saxophonist place him in the time-honored tradition of composing while playing.

Indeed, between jazz-like saxophone, Lizana sings flamenco vocals.  For these three songs, Lizana and Jonatan Pacheco (percussion) and Andreas Arnold (guitar) play quite a mix and it works very well.  The band is also quite multicultural as well as Andreas is from Germany and Jonatan is from Spain (and he plays a mean box drum).

“Airegría” is about 6 minutes long.  It begins with hims singing over the percussion.  It after a minute and a half that the guitar comes in and not until almost 2 and a half minutes before the sax comes in.  The guitar is kind of staccato while the sax is pretty fluid.

Introducing the band he says, “We’re very happy to be here playing.  We have today on the stage or on the desk…”

“Déjate Sentir” more conventionally jazzy sax but the main melody comes from his kind of scat singing.  Ad I find tat when the guitar kicks in I prefer him singing to guitar rather than playing the sax–I suppose traditional flamenco over jazz. But I can appreciate the sax too–especially when it seems to push aside the flamenco style for a bit.

“Viento De La Mar” is a smoother song with some pretty guitar and light jazzy sax.  My favorite moments comes in the middle with the chiming percussion and the big ending.

[READ: June 24, 2016] Big Bad Ironclad

How cool is this series?  It is so cool that this is the official author bio:

The spy Nathan Hale was executed in 1776.  The author Nathan Hale was born in 1976.

Nathan Hale is the author/illustrator’s real name and he uses the spy Nathan Hale as the narrator of his stories about history (or in this case the future–for the spy, that is).

The book begins on September 22, 1776 as Nathan Hale is about to be hung for treason.  The British soldier in charge of the execution is cross, but the executioner himself is kind of giddy because Hale is going to tell another tale.

After some amusing introductions, designed to antagonize the solider, Hale settles in to tell the story of the iron ships (iron doesn’t float!).

And thus he begins the story of the Merrimack and the Monitor.  The year is 1861 and Abraham Lincoln has just been elected.

Hale uses some very funny narrative devices to get some of the salient battle points across, like General Scott’s anaconda plan–surround the enemy and squeeze.  But how can they do that with only four, yes four, ships?

The North’s man in charge was Gideon Welles, nicknamed Father Neptune.  Stephen Mallory is in charge of the confederate navy–the executioner dubs him “sharkface.”  And in the most amusing nod to comics, Gustavus Fox (Foxy) is rendered as a fox (he’s a cute li’l fox). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DANILO BRITO-Tiny Desk Concert #618 (May 12, 2017).

This is a pretty great  introduction to the music of Danilo Brito:

After four chords, the notes start to fly — Danilo Brito and his four collaborators, three Brazilians and one American, are off like jackrabbits in front of a hound, having hustled their instruments to the Tiny Desk at the end of a North American tour.

Brito plays the mandolin, and boy how his finger fly.

Brito a 32-year-old mandolin player, made his first record when he was a teenager, plays a type of music called choro (pronounced “shore-oo”).  It’s said that choro started in the streets and back yards and made its way to the concert hall. Brazilian musicians of all genres have drawn on choro, from popular composer Antonio Carlos Jobim to Heitor Villa Lobos, one of the giants of Latin American classical music. Its literal translation from the Portuguese is “to cry,” but in Brito’s dextrous hands a better translation may be “crying out to be heard.”

They play five songs.  “Sussuarana” is just full of amazing finger work.  The pace is breakneck and exhausting.  How does he do it?.  There are two guitars (Carlos Moura (7-string guitar) and Guilherme Girardi (guitar)) playing chords and the mandolin zipping all over the place.  In the background, Lucas Arantes plays a small guitar called the cavaquinho and Brian Rice (the American) keeps the beat on the pandeiro.

Between songs he has a translator explain that they are playing “a little bit of Brazilian instrumental music.”  He says this style of music started around 1860, mixing jazz and classical and African music.”

“Lamentos” is a much sadder song (as you might imagine), but it is gorgeous.  For “Tica” Arantes and Rice step aside.  “Tica” is his own composition.  It is a waltz in two tempos.  There’s some wonderful lead lines that run up and down the instrument.  It’s fascinating that while his lines are still fast the rest of the musicians are at a slower pace.  There’s a lovely middle section of delicate guitar, but once it ends they take off again.

The next song is “Melodia Sentimental” it sounds like the soundtrack of a weepy romance film–heart string tugging.

Brito and his colleagues play their arrangement of Villa Lobos’ “Melodia Sentimental,” originally written for voice and orchestra.  What you’re actually hearing is a kind of formal Rodas de Choro, the circles of players who developed this music more than a century ago and have carried it on to the present.

Only — in the backyards, they don’t wear suits and ties.

The final song “Pega Ratão” is also an original piece.  It is short and never stops.  It is great watching his fingers fly.

[READ: June 12, 2016] One Dead Spy

How cool is this series?  It is so cool that this is the official author bio:

The spy Nathan Hale was executed in 1776.  The author Nathan Hale was born in 1976.

Nathan Hale is the author/illustrator’s real name and he uses the spy Nathan Hale as the narrator of his stories about history (or in this case the future–for the spy, that is).

This is the first book in the series so it begins with the historical Nathan being brought up to the gallows.  The people are all there to watch a hanging, but they are disappointed that the guy to be hung is a spy, not the arsonist.  And then Hale is brought up to the British soldier and the executioner (who looks at Hale and say “This is awkward”).

Hale mutters his famous last words: I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.  And as that happens a The Big Huge Book of American History comes down and swallows Hale and then lets him back out because he just “made history.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: OK GO-Tiny Desk Concert #278 (June 3, 2013).

I love OK Go’s music videos.  They are stupendous. I have watched all of them several times.  And yet I can’t remember a single song.  But that doesn’t diminish my appreciation for them.

When NPR was moving offices, they made a “Tiny Desk Concert” of the band proceeding from their old location to the new one.  And in OK Go fashion, they made a great video to go with it.  The music is live (I believe), even though they must have shot the footage hundreds of times.  It’s sort of a stop motion video, except that it’s not single frames but short 2 second clips spliced together.

You can watch as the old office is dismantled, as they walk through the halls to the moving truck.   As they play on the truck in the streets of D.C. and then as they enter the new building.  There are cameos from NPR colleagues: Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, David Greene, Guy Raz, Scott Simon, Alix Spiegel, Susan Stamberg and more.  There’s a hilarious moment with Karl Kassel who gives them a dirty look.  And then they march through the offices, the news room and into the new Tiny Desk location where they finish the song.

The song is fun and catchy and even has new lyrics that reference the NPR move.  It has to be seen to be appreciated.

And if you like figures here are some details from the shoot:

  • Number of video takes: 223
  • Number of seconds Carl Kasell spent in the elevator with OK Go: 98
  • Number of times Ari Shapiro played the tubular bells: 15
  • Number of days it took to shoot: 2
  • Number of cameras: 1

Incidentally, NPR and I are out of sync with our counting of Tiny Desk Concerts.  I can’t figure out what happened.  The reason mine is correct is because I have written down every concert and numbered them.  So I feel that for them one doesn’t count?  They say this was number 277.  Someday they’ll read this and we’ll get to the  bottom of everything.

[READ: April 1, 2016] No Mercy Vol. 1

Because of the way books are being handled at my work now, I don’t get to see as many books as I used to. So i was pretty delighted to get this graphic novel on my desk.  Even if I didn’t quite know what it was about, I wanted to read it.  And boy did I enjoy it.

I had no idea that the cast was a group of aspiring Princeton University students on a per-freshman trip to an underprivileged county (I like the t-shirts that say Building Bridges Helping Hands with a kinda Princeton P on the front.

We meet the cast in a cool way–each one steeping forward a bit in the crowd and giving a bit of information about themselves…mostly through text messages. Oh and I loved the way the opening colophon pages looked just like Facebook (or whatever) with a timeline photo and then on the right side–sponsored images with drawings of the author and the illustrators and an ad for an other Image comic by Alex de Campi called Valentine–genius layout idea.

There’s also a comment under the photo which says “OMG how sad, they were also young.”  So you know something bad is going to happen these poor kids. (more…)

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