Thursday, July 28, 2005

Surrey with the FRINGE on top

Although it's a teensy bit off topic (but not really), I gotta put in a plug here for the first-ever Buffalo InFRINGEment Festival, which I've been helping to organize for the last several months. The festival features over 125 performances of over 40 different productions (mainstream & experimental plays, performance pieces, virtual reality installations, outdoor film screenings, street theater, music, and more) in 14 different venues in and around the Allentown neighborhood of Buffalo, NY. The whole thing runs from Thursday, July 28 through Sunday, August 7, and you can find detailed day-by-day and venue-by-venue schedules and a lot more info (including an hourlong radio interview I did with many other festival people, hosted by my Real Dream pal Theresa Baker) at the festival's official website.

Here's a brand-new blog set up to allow audience members and participants to write about individual shows, which may help readers figure out what shows they don't want to miss.

And while I'm in this semi-self-promotional mode, allow me to point out that the Real Dream Cabaret's contribution to the festival, the SUPER INTENSE DECISION SHOW, runs Thursday 8/4 @ 8 pm, Friday 8/5 @ 9 pm, Saturday 8/6 @ 1 pm, and Sunday 8/7 @ 4 pm at Squeaky Wheel (175 Elmwood).

There, now I've done my duty as Publicity Dude and I can rest easy. I do hope you Buffalonian folk will come check this stuff out--there's an extraordinary amount of interesting live performance on tap, from as far away as Montreal and NYC, and as near as your next-door neighbor's house. Further proof that this city is a hotbed of cool art, a reality that only needs to be pointed out to people who don't live here, and most of the ones who do.

On My Radio

Today's Talk of the Nation devoted a short segment to an interview with Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles, plugging his new film The Constant Gardener, but the majority of the chat (particularly when listeners call in) focuses on his utterly fantastic movie City of God, which I can't recommend highly enough. Lots of interesting info on the making of the earlier film and the social conditions in Brazil which inspired it.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Brazil/New Orleans II

Didn't go here.

Or here.

But both of these clubs in the Marigny (just outside the French Quarter) have been around a while, and I'm pretty sure I've visited them on earlier travels. They don't actually seem to book as much Brazilian music as their names suggest, although I did hear a recorded version of "Girl from Ipanema" while walking past Cafe Brasil one night, so maybe that counts.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Is this the real life?

(This entry is dedicated to long-lost pal Diana Meador, who placed the first-ever request for a specific topic here at CGIOOMH.) So far the musical highlight of my current trip to Louisiana has been a performance of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by 50 or so current-day 12-to-15-year-olds. The occasion was a choral concert at the close of this summer's session of the Governor's Program for Gifted Children in Lake Charles. I was there for a reunion with classmates I hadn't seen for 30 years, only to discover a bunch of kids dressed and coiffed pretty much like they stepped out of the 1970s, performing a song from that bygone era, written more than a decade before they were born. (I vividly recall transcribing the lyrics from AM radio in high school, adding such words as "Scaramouche," "Bismillah," and "silhouetto" to my vocabulary.) The Queen song was part of a bill with a Schubert mass, a spiritual, and other choral chestnuts, so they really put the "classic" in classic rock. (Sadly, the lines telling Mama about kiIling a man by putting a bullet to his head--"pulled my trigger, now he's dead"--were excised.) It was very Langley Schools Music Project--surreally spooky, particularly when they got to the part at the end where the singer is contemplating suicide. Any way the wind blows, indeed. (At the next reunion in 3 years, I'd really, really like to hear a full-length, full-chorus performance of Pet Sounds. Any chance of that, Powers That Be?)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Estatico (Brazil/New Orleans I)

Here I am w/ my pal Donna after shelling out major coinage on low-cost CDs. Louisiana Music Factory (210 Decatur, NO) is such a great resource for Louisiana jazz, r&b, soul, blues, etc. that I felt kind of guilty purchasing 2 My Morning Jacket & 2 Lucinda Williams CDs (even if she IS from Lake Charles, La). Made up for it w/ the purchase of local pianist Tom McDermott's 'Choro do Norte' after hearing it on the store's sound system and instantly enjoying it. Many people have noted Brazilian choro's similarity to New Orleans ragtime/dixieland, and McDermott has turned the parallels into a really enjoyable/pleasant/witty CD that makes me want to run a bookstore or cafe so I could play it there. Scott Joplin & Jelly Roll Morton meet Pixinguinha!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I'd like to teach the world to sing...

Check it out: you can get Mr. Pibb in vending machines here in the Atlanta airport. (Actually it's Pibb Extra, a concoction I'd never heard of till now--which raises the question: extra what? Extra "pibb," maybe?) And that's not all. Rejoice with me in the poetry of sugar water product names: Mello Yello! Fanta! And the ominous sounding Coke Zero, which makes me think more of a Japanese noise band than something I'd want to drink. Oh, for the days when New Coke was considered a crazy idea...

Obviously this entry has nothing to do with music and everything to do with my newfound ability to post on the road--like on my current trip to New Orleans (and later Lake Charles, LA), where maybe, just maybe, I'll wander into some club and post something about some band, right on the spot.

Or not. There's something about all this that feels too much like work (if you count writing about rock concerts as work, which I have been known to do).

No matter what, let us all celebrate the fact that a guy on a 4-hour layover in the Atlanta airport now has the ability to instantaneously post doumentation of the vending machine for all the world to see.

Who sez our culture is dumbing down?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Doctor, doctor, give me the news

Eugene Chadbourne is one of a kind. Oh, sure, there are times when he makes me think of certain other people: Jimi Hendrix, Phil Ochs, Karen Finley, the various mountain musicians on Harry Smith's anthology--but only if they were somehow all mixed up in one big weird amalgamation. Every once in a while I picture someone else following in his footsteps, or walking alongside him, like Hamell on Trial or Bob Log III, but delightful as those other virtuoso one-man bands are, "Doctor Chadbourne" will always occupy a very special place in my heart.

I saw him (at Soundlab) tonight for the fifth or sixth time in fifteen years or so--first in almost ten years, though. Every show's been different (same general ideas, wildly different specifics) and every one has been memorable. Tonight's was the perfect capper to a lousy day: woke up to news of bombs in the London Underground, wrestled with stomachache/headache/toothache combo all day, slogged through a ton of office work that made me miss the evening's other three musical attractions downtown (Sarah Harmer and Hothouse Flowers outdoors, which would have been followed by my pal Leah's kickass Brooklyn-based band Wide Right at Mohawk Place), generally felt tired and weary. And I left feeling... still tired and weary, but uplifted. There's no way to convey this guy's talents in mere words (or even on disc, from what I've heard--that which is transcendent onstage is often grating when captured on cassette, vinyl, or whatever), but let me just tell you that the set list contained heavily tweaked covers of Thelonius Monk (on guitar), the Dead Kennedys (on banjo), and Eddie Rabbit (something resembling heavy metal), among many others, and what I assume to be a few originals. Oh, and for half the show the guy assumed the voice and personality of Jesse Helms' wife, arguing with himself. Then he played his famous amplified rake, using an overturned music stand for percussion. (I've always felt the rake was best appreciated in small doses, but this was easily the best rake solo I'd ever experienced.) IF READING THIS INFORMATION DOES NOT CONVINCE YOU THAT THIS IS A MAN TO WATCH, I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY TO YOU. As my Special Friend said afterward (and this is a crappy paraphrase), he's not just a smart guy, he's an incredibly talented musician. And, I would add, he's very, very funny.

There were under thirty people in attendance, which felt oddly inspiring. Certainly I agree with my SF that the joint should have been packed, but on the other hand I'm just so moved by extraordinary musicians who are in it for the long haul, who spend their entire lives driving around the country playing for audiences of any size. (Flashback to the Mekons packing up their own equipment and dragging out to their crappy van after a Mohawk show, two decades after they helped forge post-punk.)

Now, I would have mentioned the show here anyway, but when Chadbourne played his twisted Jobim cover "Girl from Al Queda," that sealed the deal. Believe me, I'd love to be able to link you to an MP3 of the song, but lord knows where I'd find one, and I just don't have the energy to look. Perhaps one of you younguns will google it or something and post a URL here. Take my word for it: great.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Fourth of July

I've got a few personal music-related annual rituals, like playing Dennis Wilson's and Dave Alvin's songs both titled "Fourth of July" on the big day. Only got around to the first of these this year--and come to think of it, a few years back I added Ani DiFranco's two, count 'em, two 7/4 songs (after she wrote "Independence Day" she remembered she already had one called "Fourth of July"), but I forgot those this time, too.

Other than a lovely party at the new home of pals Susan and Marty, the holiday weekend was a blur of time-wasting, as it so often ends up. Evidently my forefathers struggled for independence so I would be free to:

1) watch all 8 hours of MTV's coverage of the Live 8 concerts (which was probably about 5 hours too many, though I certainly intend to mull over AOL's comprehensive list of clips of every single song by every single performer at every single show, if only to sample Brian Wilson's Berlin show, which was sadly absent from US television.

2) read about that Nike/Minor Threat brouhaha you may have heard about, and then linger over this giant page of hilarious responses to it.

I've got plenty more to say about both of these, but it looks as though I'm not gonna be saying it just now. As usual.