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Archive for the ‘Short Story’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: JENN GRANT-Live at Massey Hall (June 23, 2017).

I don’t know Jenn Grant, although her music sounds somewhat familiar.  She’s from PEI originally but her family moved to Nova Scotia when she was ten.  She recently moved back to Nova Scotia with her husband, where they live by the ocean and the woods.

For this show, she is joined by Daniel Ledwell, Michael Belyea and Tavo Dies de Bonilla.  On a couple of songs, she has Julie Fader and Kim Harris for backing vocals (this is Fader’s second appearance in the series).

Years ago shed opened for BNL at Massey Hall, but she wasn’t present. This time she’s very aware of things like the large but intimate feeling of the place.  During soundcheck she felt she never sounded better

“Paradise” is a slow keyboard song with electronic drums.  It’s moody in a Twin Peaks kind of way.  Although it picks up for the chorus.  The drum sounds in the middle of the song sound like when my phone speaker is over powered, it’s unsettling.

“I am a River” is interrupted by her speaking about her new record.  It’s interesting that her music is quite electronic since she is so inspired by nature.  Although this song does have more organic elements like piano and such.

She introduces “The Fighter” by saying “This is a song from an album that we made once.”  She plays electric guitar and that creates more drama and texture in the song.  This has a great overall sound.

“I’ve Got Your Fire” starts with piano.  This song sounds familiar–I wonder if I know it or if it just sounds like a Jane Siberry song.  It’s very pretty.

“No One’s Gonna Love You (Quite Like I Do)” is mellow song, also quite pretty.  “Galaxies” is a bit higher energy and she says it’s “fun to perform for an audience.”  It’s got a cool retro keyboard sound.  Dreamer ends he show quietly with delightful backing vocals.  I like the way the song slowly builds.

[READ: January 25, 2018] “Fourteen Feet of Water in My House”

This story sets everything up right from the get go:

My hometown flooded.  Prediction, as usual, failed us.

And so, when the narrator wakes up with a river in his house, he is quite pleased to see that his boat, kept in the backyard, was banging on his second storey window.  He is barely awake but he jumps into the boat headfirst.

“This is real… Dad’s house is ruined…. Boat seems fine though…. People probably stranded … ”

The rest of the story is his adventure saving people. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKTHE WOODEN SKY-Live at Massey Hall (June 23, 2017).

I don’t know this band at all.  I’m fascinated that he lead singer Gavin Gardiner and the keyboardist Simon Walker have the same haircut and glasses but are not related.  The band has a kind of folk-rock vibe.  Nothing really stands out about them to me, but I did enjoy the songs while they were playing them.

For The Wooden Sky, getting to Massey Hall always seemed unreachable.  But they say that getting here you can feel the history and see that the place opened in 1894.  Its pretty surreal.  Just looking out on stage you can feel–holy shit, this is cool.

“Life is Pain, Pain is Beauty” is a six-minute song that opens with a nifty guitar riff.  The keys and violins act as a kind of drone underneath.  The middle has a cool rollicking section with big drums and groovy keyboard solo.  There’s a nice jam element to the song, too with Jason Haberman on bass.

Gardiner has a kind of drawl or something.  His delivery is unique without being especially noteworthy.  On some of the later songs he puts on a strange vibrato that I find a bit unsettling.

“Our Hearts Were Young” has a cool violin part that runs through the song.  The backing vocals during the chorus are amazingly catchy.

It’s weird that they interrupt this song to talk about them making their record.  They miss a verse and a solo of the song to talk about them recording in their own studio.

He introduces “Deadhorse Creek” by saying that his parents are celebrating their 40th anniversary in a couple of days so this if or them.  It’s about living and growing up in Manitoba.

This song is also interrupted so they can talk more about working in the studio, how they recorded this song three different times.

There a wild harmonica solo from Gardiner mid song.

He invites his best friend Andrew Wyatt to the stage to play banjo–you know the passion he brings to the stage.  HE is listed as a member of the band, so this is a weird moment with him on stage.  They play “The Wooden Sky,” a mellows darker song where Gardiner introduces that vibrato singing. There’s a more mellow harmonica solo.

“Swimming in Strange Waters” is the most fun song. It rocks with some wild singing by the end.

“Angelina” ends the show quietly with Gardiner singing solo with acoustic guitar.  He says it is dedicated to his friend Aaron who passed away in 2010.  The rest of the band gathers around behind him as he plays.  Midway through the song Edwin Huzinga introduces a fiddle melody and Andrew Kekewich plays a kick drum as the song builds.   They all gather round to sing backing vocals.

[READ: January 24, 2018] “Question 62”

This short story has two plots running parallel.  It involves two sisters and wild cats.

How’s this for an opening line:

She was out in the flower bed, crushing snails–and more on them later–when she happened to glance up into the burning eyes of an optical illusion.

Until recently Mae had lived with her sister Anita in Waunakee, Wisconsin.  She now lived in Southern California where it never rained, except that it had been raining all week.  The snails loved this rain and were destroying her garden.  Which is why she was destroying them–despite being a vegetarian and wishing no harm to come to animals, really.  She and Anita made a vow to become vegetarian in junior high school.

But it was while she was crushing snails that she looked up and saw…could it be?  A tiger? She was startled, obviously.  She quietly cried for her husband (he was asleep inside). The tiger didn’t seem aggressive, it just seemed inquisitive at the sound of her voice. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: PHISH Live Bait 14 (2018).

Phish has just released its 14th compilation of free downloads.  This one is a little over two hours with seven long songs.

Harry Hood (8/2/97 Gorge Amphitheatre – George, WA) 18:11
After a slow intro–it’s about two and a half minutes before the vocals come in–then there’s jazzy bass and funky keys.  The jam is pretty mellow, he even asks to have them kill the lights “so I can have the outdoor vibe here.”  A relaxed piano comes in around 12 and it’s not until 17 minutes that they sing the end of the song.

McGrupp And The Watchful Hosemasters (10/29/98 Greek Theatre – Los Angeles, CA) 11:45
This is a fun treat as they don;t play this song much anymore.  The piano opening is very quiet, but the middle is cool with a piano and splash cymbals.  The ending is twinkling piano that segues perfectly (despite being nearly a year later) into the next song.

Wolfman’s Brother (9/24/99 South Park Meadows – Austin, TX) 18:55
opens with a quiet piano but it quickly grows upbeat with a hot jam. Although the final section is dark for a bout a minute before it ends.

Gotta Jibboo > Saw It Again > Magilla (7/4/00 E Centre – Camden, NJ) 39:28
Gotta Jibboo brings back the lightness again. It’s got a happy solo with a pulsing high keyboard note that runs for almost ten minutes while Trey solos.  It turns funky/groovy around fifteen minutes in and then around 17 minutes in it shifts gears and grows slowly noisy and chaotic before sequing to Saw It Again.  Around 34 minutes, it slows down and segues into Magilla with really cool drums.

What’s The Use? (6/25/00 Alltel Pavilion at Walnut Creek – Raleigh, NC) 9:52
This is an instrumental that starts out sounding quite raw–the guitar is sharp with feedback moments.  After  couple of minutes the guitar fades and it gets quiet and pretty before the guitar returns and grows noisy again.

Runaway Jim (7/9/99 Merriweather Post Pavilion – Columbia, MD) 12:21
As always this song rocks.   Although the jam is pretty mellow and pleasant sounding.

Tweezer > Prince Caspian (8/22/15 Magnaball, Watkins Glen International – Watkins Glen, NY) 34:17
Most of the songs on this compilation are from the turn of the century, but this one is from just a couple years ago and it’s a big old “Tweezer” exploration.  This version sounds pretty loose–Trey even modifies the open chord riff somewhat.  Even the “Uncle Ebeneezer” noise is somewhat subdued.  It grows fairly calm before a funky guitar solo.  By 11 minutes, there’s a lot of piano added and then through 17 minutes “Prince Caspian” begins.  It’s a typically fun version of the song.  And by 31 minutes it feels like the song is circling back around to “Tweezer,” but it never actually gets there.  It just kind of ends.

Hard to complain about a free compilation, and there’s not much to complain about here.  Good selection of songs and great performances.

[READ: January 19, 2018] “The Blade”

This is story of tramps.  Hoboes.

There is a young kid who reminded Ronnie of himself from way back.  But it generally assumed the kid will be tossed off the train car before two long.

After some silence Vanboss and Stark begin talking.  Vanboss tells of a head on collision between two cars going 100 mph and how the cars were melded into a small cube but somehow a baby escaped unharmed.  No one believes that, so they talk of other deaths, brutal and extraordinary. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: REV SEKOU AND THE SEAL BREAKERS-Tiny Desk Concert #765 (July 10, 2018).

I was not at all interested in a preacher and his church band, but wow these guys rock.

Rev Sekou says that the Seal Breakers are from Brooklyn but he’s from Arkansas.  I didn’t like the way he started the show by talking about his grandparents who worked from can’t see morning to can’t see night and then they’d go to the juke joints and then to church on Sunday.  I thought it was going to be rather preachy (he is Pentecostal) but no,

Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekoum this author, activist, intellectual, pastor and singer tosses off his large-brimmed, black hat, shakes his dreadlocks and demands freedom with these words: “We want freedom and we want it now!”

Do you wanna get free?  He sounds like Richie Havens at Woodstock–gravelly voice but with a preacher intonation.  The song has got some gospel flow but with a roaring distorted electric guitar.   It’s got a big catchy chorus and a wailing guitar solo.

Resist!  Resist when they tell you what you can and can’t do.

Before the second song, he says he went to Charlottesville to organize against the white supremacist march but they couldn’t leave the church because of the Nazis.

When he went outside, he watched Heather Heyer take her last breath.  He says this is an anthem for Charlottesville called “Bury Me.”

he recalled the horrors of the white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Va. last summer. He said he spent weeks in preparation, organizing clergy for what he says was “the largest gathering of white supremacists in modern history,” then watching the activist “Heather Heyer take her last breath” after she was struck by a car that plowed into a crowd of marchers. The song “Bury Me” is a bluesy anthem to freedom that honors those who have died in that struggle for racial equality and freedom. In his free-form preamble to the touching ballad, Rev. Sekou works himself into a passionate frenzy, before airing his intense indignation for President Trump.

Bury me in the struggle for freedom…say my name.  He powerfully sings the names of people who have died in racially motivated hatred.  There’s power in the name.

The songs with a chorus of “This Little Light of Mine, I’m gonna let it shine,”

The Rev. says they need to leave that one, “I’m Pentecostal, I can go 2-3 hours, but I don’t think Brother Bob wants us in here that long.”

The  end with “The Devil Finds Work” which opens with bluesy piano.

After two minutes it becomes a big clapfest as suddenly The Saints Go Marching In.  They swing, and Rev. Sekou and we pray that you get free and he walks off while the band finishes.

Osagyefo Sekou (Vocals), William Gamble (Keys), Reggie Parker (Bass), Cory Simpson (Guitar), James Robinson Jr. (Drums), Gil Defay (Trumpet), Chris McBride (Saxophone), Brianna Turner (Background Vocals), Rasul A Salaam (Background Vocals), Craig Williams (Percussions)

[READ: January 25, 2018] “Company Towns”

This is an excerpt from “Work and Industry in the Northern Midwest.”

I’m not really sure what to make of these three short stories about work.  I found them rather comical because each supposedly normal business event ended in some kind of peculiar death.

The Whitefish Bay Merchant and Traders Bank
In 1947 the narrator traveled from Interlakken Switzerland to Whitefish Bay, Michigan to check on a bank that his father had acquired in a set of financial trades).  The bank had become extremely profitable and his father wanted to know why.  He flew to the states, stopped for two weeks in New York and another week in Cleveland before getting to Michigan.  The employees were quite jovial–in fact the guy who picked him up shared a flask with him–they were both drunk by the time they got home.  They also had a very formal, fancy diner.  The bank made its money because of an ambitious cook.  He helped to innovate the short line cooking process–a way to cook for 100 men quickly.  He was aided by a chef who ensured they used quality food.   The bosses didn’t think the employees needed this kind of delicious food, but when they saw how much it improved morale and didn’t cost that much they were on board.  And the bank, in addition to giving them a loan, took a 20 percent stake in the firm and they made a ton of money.

The narrator asked to meet these men but both had recently died.  One from drinking something he shouldn’t have and the other was involved in a shooting– the details are what makes the deaths amusing, if not really funny. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FRÉDÉRIC YONNET-Tiny Desk Concert (July 9, 2018).

Dave Chappelle introduced his friend Frédéric Yonnet as “an unlikely talent from an unlikely place, Normandy France.  He plays an instrument I didn’t even know I liked.  Fred, give them a sample of how we became friends [plays a glorious harmonica melody].”

Fred has toured with all the greats Stevie Wonder, Prince (and more, see below).  With the Band With No Name welcome Frédéric Yonnet.

The blurb fills in

Harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet has played with Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, John Mayer, Ed Sheeran … even Prince. But his biggest fan and supporter is Dave Chappelle, who worked with the Normandy native on Dave Chappelle’s Juke Joint, a series of intimate parties featuring Yonnet, his Band With No Name, and an all-star cast of unannounced special guests.

That’s how the comedian came to introduce Yonnet (pronounced YAH-nay) at his Tiny Desk concert. From the moment the NPR staff first heard his pocket-sized harmonica, you could feel the electricity in the room. There are virtually no limitations to this instrument in the hands of Yonnet, who is famous for his ability to play chromatic notes on a diatonic harmonica.

During Chappelle’s introduction, he told the crowd about how Yonnet met Wonder at the Grammys and eventually was asked to hop on the Songs In the Key of Life tour. “He’s so good at playing harmonica that another man good at harmonica [Wonder] hired him,” Chappelle has been known to say.

They play three songs.

Yonnet began the show with a mélange of reggae, hip-hop and New Orleans funk, and his Band With No Name were right in the pocket with original funky numbers “Four20” and “FRéEDlosophy,” both of which will appear on his upcoming album, Reed My Lips.

“Four20” starts with strange harmonica riff and then the band come in with an incredibly funky jam (with Christopher Bynum on drums), Dennis Turner on bass).  Yonnet plays some incredible soloing over this really jam from full mouthed harmonica to incredibly dextrous (or whatever that word is for your mouth) single notes the likes of which I’ve never heard on a harmonica before.   Midway through he slows things down points to saxophonist Matthew Rippetoe and says “solo?” which he proceeds to rip out.

After the sing he introduces Kailen “our mascot.”

“FRéEDlosophy” requires some participation from the audience (which includes Chapelle dancing up a storm).  There’s a great heavy riff that propels the song forward as well as some really rocking guitar.  Yonnet moves pretty much nonstop and his playing is really wonderful.

Chappelle’s desire to hear some of that “Mississippi Delta blues” prompted an improvised tune, “No Smokin’ Blues,” which gave guitarist Robbie McDonald, saxophonist Matthew Rippetoe, trumpet player Joe Herrera and keyboardist Daryl Hunt a chance to shine.

Dave encourages them to “Jam it out a bit” blues.  Start with the blues, you can take it anywhere, play yourself out.  But Dave wants “Mississippi Delta blues… sweltering heat I don’t get paid enough blues.”

Yannet obliges.  He puts down the mic (no idea if it’s the same harmonica) and proceed to play a pretty classic blues.  There’s solos from all of the above (McDonald’s is pretty stormin’)

[READ: July 9, 2018] “Under the Wave”

This is a terrifying story.  Well, the first section is terrifying and the rest is the uncomfortable aftermath.

It’s the complete lack of details that make it so terrifying.  A woman and her husband and son are separated by a wave.  That’s all we know.  It must have been huge.  Earthquake?  Tsunami?  Hurricane?  No details are given.  She is asleep and then she is alone.

She walked to the city center where a warehouse was set up and people were huddled.  Food was given out, cots were prepared.  And she sat, for two days, unloving.  Then she saw a girl, a feral girl, crawling through the warehouse sneaking people’s food.

When the girl got to her, she grabbed the girl’s wrist and held her. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKOWEN PALLETT–Live at Massey Hall (December 1, 2015).

Owen Pallett founded the band Final Fantasy (which was pretty much him anyhow).  Since 2010 he has been recording under his own name.  His music is orchestral and complex, but also distinctly weird.  He loves to explore sounds, but he also knows hot to throw in some catchy melodies as well.

He says he has plays Massey Hall before but this is the first time as a solo performer. He wants to take advantage of the beautiful-sounding room and comfortable seats.

The songs he plays are a mix of new ones and Final Fantasy songs as well.

On “That’s When the Audience Died” (Final Fantasy), he picks out a complicated pizzicato on the violin and loops it (he mutters, I hope that worked) and then he launches a great melody over the top.  He has a great singing voice as well.  The lyrics are consistently clever and interesting.  The end of the song is amazing with the sounds he ekes out of his violin.

He says he took violin lessons but wasn’t it to it because the violin leaves a mark on your neck.  He quit it because it ruined all his “sexual dreams,” and he switched to guitar and piano.  He was always really into composing–he loved Béla Bartók and György Sándor Ligeti–he wanted to make music you see in Stanley Kubrick film.

There’s beautiful looping with the pizzicato as he play’s the solos live.

“This Lambs Sells Condos” (Final Fantasy) is really quite funny if you know the story behind it, which I didn’t.  But here it is

This song is a comic interpretation of Brad J. Lamb, a figure in the Canadian real estate business (who used to live in the same building as Owen Pallett’s boyfriend), with allusions to elements of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game:

This snarky look at Lamb:

When he was a young man, he conjured up a firemare
Burnt off both his eyebrows and half a head of hair
And then as an apprentice, he took a drowish mistress
Who bestowed upon his youthfulness a sense of champagne chic
His seduction, his seduction to the world of construction
Now his mind will start to wander when he’s not at his computer
And his massive genitals refuse to cooperate
No amount of therapy can hope to save his marriage

Before he did Final Fantasy he played bad country music in bad country bars–because he had a violin.

“Tryst with Mephistopheles” rocks with a band (Matthew Smith and Robbie Gordon) and even some synths.  The drums really propel the song forward.

When he created Final Fantasy he had a guitar, a violin, a bed and some books.  He borrowed a looping pedal and got good with it.  He wanted to be the best violin looper.

“The Riverbed” is with a string quartet and has a fast ripping opening melody–dark and very cool.

He says now that he’s making a record in which he’s not thinking about how to play it live.  He’s just trying to make sounds–not thinking about performance or how to tour it.

So he’s playing new songs in traditional formal.  He conducts the orchestra and sings “On a Path.”  if t his is the “traditional format,” I’m very curious to hear what the non-traditional way is.  It has a fantastic vocal melody and is incredibly catchy.

The final song is “This is the Dream of Win and Regine” (yes of Arcade Fire).  It’s an older Final Fantasy song and has some great references to Montreal:

Montreal might eat its young, but Montreal wont break us.

There’s some great thumping beats throughout until the great dramatic ending.

Pallett had been on my radar, but I’m sold after seeing this show.

[READ: July 3, 2018] “The First World”

This story is bookended in an interesting way.  It starts with the narrator saying that his marriage had come to an end.  An unexpected consequence was that a series of men confided in him about their marriages past or present–not old friends, they stayed quiet, but people he’d had at arm’s length.  A contractor, the dermatologist etc.  People felt free to say wheat they wanted.

And then it was over, the men disappeared for about a decade during which time the narrator remarried.  And then Arty resurfaced.

Arty ran into him on Ninth Avenue and insisted they grab a drink.   He said there was something he’d like the narrator’s opinion on.

Arty had to talk about Gladys, the former nanny of his two girls. Gladys was is nanny for seven years, gave the girls all kinds of love and then left when the kids were old enough not to need her anymore. She got a new job in Chelsea for a younger child.

It was while working for this new family that Gladys lost her husband, Roy.  He had died while in the hospital and they were billing her for one hundred and ten grand.  She didn’t want to fight it because she was waiting for her green card.

Arty’s wife had cut off ties with Gladys (and didn’t want to talk to Arty either).   Not long after the divorce, Gladys rang him up and asked for $500, explaining what had happened to Roy.

She had agreed to a payment plan for the $110,000, but times had been tough.  She asked Arty for $500.

The bulk of the story is Arty’s impassioned telling of Gladys’ story.  How everything seemed to go wrong for her.  She moved back to Trinidad bit was not welcomed with opened arms.  She tried to find work but was unable.  And so regularly, she asked Arty for another loan, a loan that he knew he would never see.

She has even stayed with Arty when he pays for her ticket to visit her grown up son.

The narrator wants to get out of the conversation, but Arty has bought yet another round. The narrator has an amusing aside about how he lost his wallet and paid for his round with cash from his back pocket.

The story is bookended with the narrator returning home. The way the whole piece ends with him imagining his wallet being returned shows how differently two people can live and ponders what their attitudes have to do with it.

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SOUNDTRACKTHE HIDDEN CAMERAS-Live at Massey Hall (August 4, 2016).

I watched the Peaches concert before this one and so my first exposure to Joe Gibb, who is The Hidden Cameras, was as a guy dressed in bondage singing gruffly to Peaches.  I saw also that he music was described as “gay church folk music.”

Imagine my surprise when Joe Gibb came out on stage in a gold suit with a big old rockabilly guitar.

In the interview he explains that he has been working on this record for about ten years, but he always had other records that came first.  He was thrilled to finally put out this one out because it is “light compared to the dark previous albums.”

This album Home on Native Land was recorded over 10 years with guest appearances by Rufus Wainwright, Feist, Ron Sexsmith, Neil Tennant, Bahamas and Mary Margaret O’Hara including original compositions as well as covers of “Dark End Of The Street” and “Don’t Make Promises” by Tim Hardin and Canadian classic “Log Driver’s Waltz”

It opens with “Counting Stars” which is a catchy shuffling song about not getting into heaven.  There’s a wild piano solo followed by a wild guitar solo.

“Ode to an Ah” is but 2 minutes long and the lyrics are simple “Ah Ah ha Yea, oo ooh ooh yea.”  It’s a fun diversion before the cover of “The Dark End of the Street.”  It’s a nice version of the classic

Then he invites Leslie Feist to come and help sing “Log Driver’s Waltz,” nt a song you expert to hear Feist singing but she sounds great singing it.

He then says he’s “so excited for our next guest…Ron Sexsmith.”  Ron is tuxed up and sings two songs: “Twilight of the Season
and “Don’t Make Promises.”

After playing those new songs he goes back to a much earlier album for “Music is My Boyfriend,” a bouncy organ-fuelled dance rocker.

Then it’s to 2016’s Age for “Carpe Jugular’ A synthy bouncy dance number, which is a lot more what I assumed The Hidden Cameras sounded like.

He had spent some time in Berlin before returning to Toronto.  He says that now Berlin is less about learning but that he’s missing it, “I’ve been here for 7 months.”

The final song “I Believe in the Good of Life” goes all the way back to his brilliantly named album Mississauga Goddam.  It’s bouncy in the way the new songs are, and has some of that rockabilly /Elvis style.

For this show, the band is Asa Berezny, Stew Crookes, Steven Foster, Tania Gill, Sam Gleason, David, Meslin, Regina Thegentlelady, and Dorian Thornton

[READ: February 8, 2018]  “Adriana”

This is a strange little meta-story that works something like an autobiography of Coetzee (unless it’s all fictional and then it’s just a funny story that makes fun of the author, I guess).

It begins with an interviewer asking Senhora Nascimento, a Brazilian woman, how she came to spend so many years in South Africa.

She has a sad story, coming from Angola with her two children–her husband was killed, brutally, in a robbery attempt. (more…)

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