Loved hearing about Solange's experience in songwriting process, and, as usual, this practice is useful. Thank you, Song Exploder!
Writing about cranes in Miami while in a transitional time can be challenging, but empowering, apparently. I was reminded about how creating art can be meditation, hearing about her striving in this area. While singing about chaos, it is as though she's letting it flow through.
The collaboration probably helps a lot, even though Raphael Saadiq lost a few tracks from a few years back. This legendary producer still makes it happen. And her feminine force - family whose reassuring message-lessons also reverberate in the lyrics and sound, and icons like Alice Coltrane - is present.
Finally, let's remember how place matters. New Orleans inspires. The amateur piano, from old instrument in Tigerman’s Den. Her nervous laughing reminds us attitude can effectively help us in times when we struggle with challenges. Another fun fact: one of two times guitar’s used on album.
Solange's new vinyl is available at BZDC! A lot of work was obviously put into this recommended piece.
Had a chance to meet with Penn in the kitchen. We then took walk, and ended with song. He’d been doing a lot of yoga shows, the most recent of which was hot session. We talked about how the nylon string Is not only useful in hot yoga, but also as a lover of Cat Stevens. Check out his new record: there are 3-5 tunes with premium nylon fingerpicking sound.
In the kitchen. I served Penn organic food: cookies (that was making for an event - probably last batch ever, because my cookies are so dangerously delicious), and kombucha. All vegan. His fitness efforts on the road. It's a challenge, but he compromises. Penn says: he goes to shops, parks, vegan-friendly cafes, and other places where people are available for conversation - this helps him stay healthy. Nugget, from one of Penn’s female friends: belly rules mind in many ways. He’s been replacing alcohol, most meat, most dairy, with better options, and being flexible.
We talked about his evolution as a musician. Rusty Banks, one of his Franklin & Marshall teachers, offered some theory, but also some songwriting craft. Then he studied abroad in Australia (junior year). In The Bridge, his host family’s band, everyone was playing a role, and contributing effort - he was inspired by this, and feels it is an Australian trend America could use more of. Already interested in environmental action, sustainability, professional activism, and social change, Penn was able to gain solid foundation as aspiring artist.
Some of Penn's goals. Wants to go to Standing Rock. Penn wants to have team: publicist, social media guru, videographer/photographer, supporting musicians, and more. They'll act as an independent universe, in custom van, doing many things together. Meet Willie Nelson.
More details. Going to live in musician commune in Austin. Jody Seer, of Mainstream Music, is his manager, friend. Loves hearing people singing along, covering songs; after having fraternity brother attend a Philadelphia show, the brother covered When Things Get Green as camp counselor.
Experiencing Turbulence is the name of Penn’s new album (available at BohoZone, and our website). It’s about recent road experience, a sort of meditation that guides this lifestyle: give more than you take to be set free. Sound: bare bones, with some production). Stories: overcoming liquor store problem Florida gulf - had to heal self. Approach: increasing awareness by exploring culturally relevant items in upbeat way. Contemporaries: Trevor Hall, Nokho & Medicine For The People. All the lyrics are on his website.
All things in time!
Just met a couple cool people: David (Colorado), with Jewlia (California). They’re in town as Charming Hostess, offering a project about Red Diva (East German singer of Yiddish songs, Lin Jaldati), called: Art I My Weapon (reminds me of Gordon Parks). Talking, playing, singing. It is their third sharing of the show. Such an interesting sounding event - hope I can make, and hope you can too! Other information: 60 minutes, free, 730PM, Green Theater, trio. Update: I was there! It was great: David's presentation is very informative, and Jewlia's passion for the music and people is inspiring.
Had a chance to talk to Matt, who was promoting his play, and Adam, the star. The musical, an absurdist comedy about surviving twin taking the place of class president brother, is based on Ton-Taun’s EP. If you like Rubblebucket, Wilco, Hexbelt, Built To Spill, David Lynch, Vonnegut, and/or Eighties and Nineties teen films, you’ll probably love Brian, Sorry You’re Derek Now. The band will be playing live, the set will be projected, and you can get a free recording of the sounds when ordering on the website (starting 11/1). Also: free CD upon entry. Showing in Tellus360 from 12/2-4 at 8PM (5PM on Sunday). $10.
We will always love The Seed, heard the news recently, and are surprised. Been a loyal customer for years - attending a Thanksgiving celebration, getting monthly specials, attending meetings, seeing Ben & Joe's release party. I remember Occupy Lancaster, a demonstration that was fascinating to me (the roll calls, the trash collection, and the zeitgeist), and one which was graced by my presence a few times. I remember talking about how much food was an issue to me - also that I cared about a central purpose (Glass-Steagall, the nationwide call), and have always loved how having a local vegan restaurant followed in such a grassroots way. While it is very sad seeing The Seed announce 9/30 as closing date, I believe that our spirit will continue like branches growing toward light. We see that Root has opened, a very nice vegan bar, for one. Best wishes for Seed owners, musicians who relied on it as a venue, kombucha drinkers who will have to find a new source, and everyone who feels this - even those who may disagree.
So happy to have met Mikey Rioux, and Heather Perry, of The MakeSpace. They recently took this Harrisburg art building over, and are currently raising funds for this great endeavor. The building has three floors, with first being reserved for art shows (group shows, one-person shows, happening bimonthly), and concerts (about three per month). The other two floors offer artist studios; two of them are occupied, and there are four openings. If you’re planning on visiting Harrisburg in the near future, we think you should make plans to coordinate.
It was fun talking to these individuals, and learning a little bit about where they come come from. Especially discovering a new musician. Perry, a Chicago transplant, pays bills by teaching piano, and will soon be releasing an EP (band name is being created) from collaboration with musician who remains in Chicago. She plays bass and keyboards, wears a Metric t-shirt, and we share interest in CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy) - the charming sound of Lovefoxx’s Spanish accent. Perry hopes her French will be liked in a similar way (the vegan guitar strap in photograph will help)
The Harrisburg-Lancaster connection continues. BohoZone currently has paintings by r76, and has hosted Grant Goldsworthy, Royale Blue, and Rivers in past mini-concerts. The MakeSpace Music Festival will take place at HMAC (Midtown Arts Center), from 2PM-12AM, on 10/1 (a Saturday). Some bands that I recognized: Shawan And The Wonton, Rivers, and Lower Dens. Tickets are $20, and all proceeds benefit this great gallery. There’s also a nearby black-box theater called The Field, with some interesting things going on, I think.
Interested in writing for our blog, being featured as a painter, or musician? We have openings.
Have to give props to this enjoyable new Cameron Crowe show. These most recent episodes were separate, but both stories took place in Denver. Artists featured: Lucius, and John Mellencamp (Joy Williams showed her actress talent, especially with a monologue that may go down in history as one of best rants to a rock star). Themes: honesty, adult relationships. Wes, the espresso-making roadie, gets to babysit the Devil Child, and makes this child sit in the back after they spill smoothie on Woody Guthrie’s guitar. More honesty: Donna, the lesbian roadie, tells bandmember that his child is called a Devil Child. It is interesting to think about our inner child. In my car this morning, I came across a country station, and this woman had a song about how this person would never be a man. What is adulthood anyway?
Enjoy the show on Showtime, and pick up this Lucius vinyl in the shop.
Dusty trails can lead you to a golden road...
The Smiths, led by famous singer Steven Morrissey, are the quintessential 80’s British indie group. Their upbeat and melancholy tunes capture the sensitive purgatory period between adolescence and adulthood, hitting all the right touchpoints regarding a frustration due to innocence lost. While “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” and “This Charming Man” are quotable tumblr-material, their most brilliant album, Meat Is Murder, is not. Meat Is Murder is exactly the opposite of the embodiment of the Smith’s recent revitalization, containing lyrics that aren’t necessarily accessible to the non-seasoned listener’s ear, but rather, a careful craft that is Johnny Marr’s guitar and Morrissey’s velvety voice, creating exactly what the Smiths are the best at: disturbing the listener in the most melodic, alternative, and “British” way possible. At its core, it is a thinking person's album.
The album opens with “The Headmaster Ritual”, one of the most unique Smiths tracks of all time. While Morrissey’s almost yodel-like singing can be somewhat inaccessible at first, he manages to paint a dismal yet upbeat mood regarding the powerless nature of a child as he succumbs to adult authority. Morrissey’s buttery “Belligerent ghouls/Run Manchester schools/Spineless bastards” is smooth over Marr’s quick and melodic guitar wizardry, and Joyce’s rhythmic drumming.
Perhaps the only “happy” track on the album, “Rusholme Ruffians” is a sweet, reminiscent song that juxtaposes the excitement of fairs as a child with street violence. With a steady bass-line similar to “Girlfriend in a Coma”, it is one of the more memorable tracks. With a rare Smiths utilization of the tambourine, the song is a perfect blend between memorable lyrics and a unique melody, offering a third-person illustration of a childhood event and the ignorance of the darkness behind it. Those without geographical or vernacular knowledge of England should note “Rusholme” is a town in Manchester, and “ruffian” refers to a thug.
The next two tracks bring the album back more to the traditional Smiths style, whiny yet honest, hatable yet lovable, with repetitive choruses and musical excellence. Ex-lovers rejoice in the self-pitiful nature of the lyrics “I want the one I can’t have/And it’s driving me mad”. “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore” is a rare ballad to the delicate emotional balance that determines what is and isn’t funny. Morrissey subtly explores the weird human peculiarity that, while happy moods often act as a catalyst for humor, depressed ones often bring one to be disgusted by certain jokes.
While The Smith’s common lyrical themes include resisting authority, Meat Is Murder is different in that draws from more every day, idiosyncratic experiences. “Nowhere Fast” is the exception to this, bringing back the more traditional style of existential dread, and a sense of despair for where humanity is headed, with memorable and self-pitiful lyrics like “The poor and/The needy/Are selfish, and greedy” and “And when I'm lying in my bed/I think about life/And I think about death/And neither one particularly appeals to me”.
The last two tracks on the album are by far, the most disturbing and gruesome. “Barbarism Begins At Home” is almost a dark continuum of the first track, as a disturbed Morrissey dwells on childhood pain. The bass-filled track elicits fearful feelings in the midst of losing innocence to violence. For almost seven minutes, Morrissey angrily yet elegantly describes the nature of abusive relationships between parent and child “A crack on the head/Is what you get for asking/And a crack on the head/ Is what you get for not asking”.
Morrissey is famous for his animal rights advocacy, and the last track, “Meat Is Murder”, exposes the revolting nature of the meat industry, in a brilliantly dark way. The song revolves around a piano-based melody, and is the slowest one on the album. With lyrics like “Kitchen aromas aren't very homely/It’s not comforting, cheery or kind/It’s sizzling blood/And the unholy stench of murder” are sure to make one rethink their dinner choices.
Meat is Murder is genius in its purest form, each song playing a distinguished part in the greater theme of protecting innocence. A Salinger-lovers’ delight, The Smiths showcase their musical variety and talent, and one to be ranked right alongside The Queen is Dead.
Attending Lancaster Poetry Exchange, for me, feels like something that should be done, because I regularly discover interesting perspectives. Le Hinton, founder of Iris G. Press (a local poetry publishing company), is a Lancaster fixture, is now the facilitator, and I love hearing introductions from these kinds of people - someone I remember from early days of my attendance of readings, when Borders was around.
Linn Levin, and Frank Falcone, were the featured readers, and we heard from at least eight other poets during open mic portion of evening. Subjects ranged: Charles Bukowski, Native American wisdom available only to hearts, seeds, risking being called a creep, Robert Frost’s experience in a snowstorm, Eddie Haskell, and blueberries. We’re lucky to have this rich offering (fourth Wednesdays at Barnes and Noble), in addition to the other monthly gatherings: Dogstar (fourth Wednesday), and BohoZone (PoetryZone is every third Wednesday).
This is an invitation. Come to BohoZone, and then ZoneToo, for PoetryZone 8 (Eliot is featured), and then maybe purchase a chapbook (we have Hinton, Levin, new Jeff Rath, and more).
Here is my writing about a new project that seems more great with each moment of attention. I rememeber first seeing the name a few months ago, but only recently learned that K.D. Lang, and Neko Case, were involved. I know these names from listening to some of my mother’s music, and paying some attention to Indie radio, and I’m happy to learn of Laura Veirs (her album covers remind me of The Decemberists). Yesterday, we were given an opportunity to see the band, which has been building their first album since Lang had an idea three years ago, perform the songs in order for the first audience. As usual, seeing a live performance resulted in some increased appreciation - they offered a little banter between songs, each artist gets a chance to be lead singer while others back up, and their individual expressions are interesting. The new album releases on Friday, and can be purchased at BohoZone. Song pick: Best Kept Secret.