SOUNDTRACK: THE MUSIC TAPES-Tiny Desk Concert #182 (December 20, 2011).
Julian Koster released an album in 2008 called The Singing Saw at Christmastime. It was a complete CD of Christmas songs played on the saw. That should tell you that Koster is an unusual fellow. But that doesn’t prepare you for what he unleashes during his Tiny Desk Concert with The Music Tapes.
Koster has a very high-pitched voice (I have a recording of him doing “I’ve Got My Love to Keep me Warm,” which is almost unbearable. His singing is really close to the fine line of unique and bad (and I imagine for many it crosses the line). He’s also got a fascinating way of looking at things and of storytelling. So this Tiny Desk show winds up being quite long (20 minutes) with quite a lot of different things going on.
First he tells a lengthy story about his great grandpa. And how his great grandpa told him that baby trees can walk. But they are tethered to the ground by an umbilical cord. And when we cut them down, we sever the cord. And a Christmas tree is adorned and worshiped for two weeks and then set free to roam the earth. It is a warm and strange and delightful.
Then he and a second member of the group play “The First Noel” on two saws. It’s weird ad wonderful. At the end of the song he has his saw bow, and Bob says he didn’t know a saw could bow. Julian says they do and in fact that singing saws sing by themselves but we encourage them by petting them and placing them in our laps.
I don’t enjoy everything Koster does, so the second song “Freeing Song For Reindeer,” a banjo based piece about a tired old reindeer transporting Santa is slow and kind of sad and not my thing.
But then he tells a story of growing up with all kinds of culture and Holiday traditions which leads into a version of Gavin Bryars’ “Jesus Blood.” I enjoy the original and didn’t know what to expect here. They begin with a tape loop of an old man singing the song (possibly the one Bryars used, but I don’t know). And then Koster starts playing the banjo with a bow. And then a second guy does the same. Then the percussionist stars playing the toy piano and the noises build. He switches from piano to trumpet and plays along. Meanwhile the second banjo player switches back to the saw for the end. It’s really quite a lovely performance.
“Takeshi And Elijah” is another slow and keening banjo based song. It’s pretty long, I don’t really like it, but by the end, as it builds with trumpet and toy piano, he ends the song sith a puppet Santa doing a tap dance as percussion. It’s a great ending to an okay song.
The final song is “Zat You, Santa Claus?” It’s played on bowed banjo and sousaphone. It’s a fun and crazy rendition. It’s one of the weirdest Tiny Desk shows and certainly the weirdest Christmas set.
[READ: December 5, 2015] The Bassoon King
I really liked Rain Wilson in The Office, but I haven’t seen him in much else (I forgot he was in Six Feet Under and Galaxy Quest) . I wanted to like Backstrom, but it got cancelled before we even watched an episode.
So why did I check out this memoir of an actor I like a little bit? Well, primarily for the title. The Bassoon King had an absurd ring that I really gravitated towards. When I saw there was an introduction by Dwight Kurt Schrute, I knew this would be a good book.
The introduction (by Dwight) is very funny. I love Dwight and I love thinking to myself “FALSE!” whenever I disagree with someone. Dwight wondered why anyone would read a biography of a young semi-famous actor. “Fact. NO. ONE. CARES.” But then says he doesn’t care either because he is making a lot of dollars per word for this thing.
Rainn begins his memoir by making fun of his big head (especially when he was a baby). It’s pretty funny. And then he describes his hippie family and his weird name. His mom changed her named from Patricia to Shay in 1965. She wanted to name Rainn “Thucydides.” But his dad always liked Rainer Maria Rilke. Now, they lived pretty close to Mt Rainier, so they went for Rainn (“Tack an extra letter on there for no apparent reason”). (more…)
Read Full Post »