So I didn't post every day, but at least I averaged a post a day. That counts, right? Where's my prize? Hello? Zzzz….
Monthly Archives: November 2007
I was trying to come up with a funny subject line for the end of NaBloPoMo. Although somehow using the title of this song didn't work out, I'm posting it anyway. Awesome.
What's your musical horoscope? (Put your player on shuffle and write down the first 10 songs that come up.)
- Daniel Lanois, "Telco"
- Sonny Chillingworth, "Charmarita/Malasadas (Portuguese Folk Song)"
- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, "West Country Girl"
- Rush, "Freeze (Part IV Of Fear)"
- Frank Frost, "Jelly Rolly King"
- Pearl Jam, "Push Me, Pull Me"
- Leo Kottke, "Can't Quite Put It Into Words"
- Ryuichi Sakamoto, "A Tribute To N.J.P."
- Kronos Quartet, "Crumb: Black Angels – 3. Return"
- Joe Satriani, "Love Thing"
We saw B.B. King Friday night (11/23/2007) at Cincinnati Music Hall. So, bump it up to four shows in 18 days. That could be a personal record. (Of course, all the cool kids see 12 live bands every night. Except Sundays, when they attend church services in a gesture of either hipster irony or cultural authenticity, depending on the neighborhood.)
The opening act was Nashville-based Joanna Cotten, backed by a four-piece band. She served a blend of country-pop-rock called, as one song’s title put it, “Funkabilly.” I thought whole package was too Nashville, with everything crafted to meet rather than redefine expectations (Because That’s How It’s Done In This Business). But Cotten's voice and the band's musicianship were very good. The sound engineering was a low point; her voice was too far back for some of the show ("More vocal!" shouted someone in the audience between songs) and the level was uneven.
B.B. King's band came out and played a couple of songs before he appeared. There were lots of solos, including some from the fine backing guitar player. Then the great moment when B.B. King appeared on stage. After the standing ovation he sat down with Lucille and scooted as close as practical to an ordinary straight mic stand.
Sound continued to be an issue. The soloists' mics started out much too soft. Had they pulled someone at random from the audience to run the board? It wasn't long before King waved his bandleader over, the bandleader waved the sound guy around behind the drum riser, a brief conversation ensued (I would love to have heard its contents), and the sound guy went back to the board and brought the soloist up where he should be, eliciting a thumbs-up from B.B.
King's fingers aren't quite where they used to be, with a few lines sounding wooden and fumbly, but for the most part ongoing gigging has kept his unmistakable tone in shape. I thought his voice sounded terrific, particularly the gravelly holler that probably just gets better as a guy gets older. (I'll admit I was gobsmacked to learn the guy is 82, a good ten years older than I'd thought.)
They played an uptempo version of the Bono-penned "When Love Comes to Town." B.B. waved the band to a stop in the middle of the song. "They don't know who U2 is!" he joked to the bandleader. He told us about the song's origins, then they took it from the top. For the second part of the show most of the band retired to the wings while the guitarist and bassist sat down next to B.B.
He told a story from the days of segregation when he snuck a drink from a whites-only drinking fountain. After that experience he wanted to know, "What's the big deal about white water?" He went on to say he could laugh about that now, and how thankful he was that times had changed.
I was delighted to hear "The Thrill Is Gone" in person. The summer before college I was in a blues band with several other white kids from the suburbs. That's one of the songs we used to play. I can't claim to have given The King a run for his money, but my Strat solos over that tune were some of my favorite moments in the band.
At the end B.B. put his coat on and ambled off the stage. The band played a couple minutes more before bidding us good night.
Good show. Worth the relatively hefty ticket price, especially when, to be frank, he might not be performing much longer. I'm learning not to take that lightly.
I was asked recently to suggest a Pedro the Lion/David Bazan song as an intro to the band. I've yet to listen to the whole catalog, but I'm especially partial to 2002's Control, a narrative album about corporate midlife misery. So I'll go with "Rapture," the song that hooked me to begin with. Though Bazan is often known as a Christian songwriter, the occasional religious language on the album is witheringly ironic, the worldview bleak, the few moments of joy ephemeral and chimerical. (I haven't Googled around to assess his mindset at the time, but today he professes to no longer be a Christian.) I love the melodies and the way he puts the song together.
Have you ever recycled an old computer or laptop? Where did you take it, and what steps did you take to protect your personal information?
I've never recycled one per se; I've always sold them or given them to charity. (I try to get rid of old hardware while it still has some use so I'm not giving away a doorstop.)
For PCs, I have used the free, open-source utility Eraser to wipe hard drives before letting them go. (If the disk had a legit installation of an operating system on it, I would usually be A Nice Guy and reinstall it after wiping.) Eraser is Linux-based (don't worry, it wipes Windows disks just fine) and can fit on a floppy disk.
I haven't used a proper disk wiper on a Mac; I've just low-level formatted the disk and then reinstalled the OS. This should be plenty to keep normal users from seeing your old data, although if for some reason they felt like paying a data recovery lab, they might be able to retrieve it.
Seeing an odd corkscrew brings this story to mind.
When my brother and I were kids, there was in the house an ordinary corkscrew, something like this:
Kids like to anthropomorphize things, and we always thought the corkscrew looked like a little guy who, when ready to open the wine, raised his arms thus:
Well, someone else had the same vision. Years later my brother was at a friend's house and discovered this happy little guy:
At wine dispensation time, the business end of the corkscrew emerges from its hiding place in the base:
Its owners just thought it was sort of ridiculous, so they let my brother keep it. Now it lives in our cupboard.
I rarely go out to see live music. For some reason, I recently caught three shows in eight days, all at Southgate House. I've already blathered here about TMBG and a little about Robyn Hitchcock. Now I'll finish blathering about Mr. Hitchcock and tell you about David Bazan.
Robyn Hitchcock – 11/8/2007
Good crowd size. Not deserted, but not overwhelming. Southgate House had the tables out. I got there early and snagged one.
Sean Nelson opened. He seemed surprisingly uncomfortable. He played his piano parts from sheet music and still seemed to be learning them. He kept looking down at his hands and going off-mic. I wondered if he should get a headset mic. Or maybe he's used to one and didn't have it. He's got a strong voice and sometimes kicked the hell out of the PA system. (I'll leave the solution to that to live audio pros…a limiter, maybe?) I admit the technical issues distracted me from the songs. That's a shame because I think there's quality work there. And I sympathize, because I've been onstage and felt at odds with gear myself. His continued gigging should help.
Robyn Hitchcock's performance made me happy. Robyn isn't an obsessively tight performer, but he was completely at ease with his voice, his guitar, and the songs. (Okay, he completely blanked on one toward the end of the show. No harm done.) The monologues, intoned in a British baritone, were often hysterically funny, non-sequiturs and insanities flowing out as smoothly and nonchalantly as forecasts from a television weatherman. He dedicated his set to "Country Bill Clinton." I was very happy to hear "I Often Dream of Trains," the song I wanted to hear most of all. (A lot of people in the audience seemed to feel the same way.) Sean Nelson appeared later in the set on backup vocals, seeming much more comfortable than before.
After the show I bolted from my seat and nudged my way up to the front of the line at the CD stand. No sooner had I bought a copy of Olé! Tarantula when Robyn emerged from what my friend Mark tells me is a dismal pit of a green room. He got to me second. I wanted to say something clever, but apparently I thought it would be more helpful if I just stood there like a big dork. He drew a bug for me. I thanked him and he looked at me professorially, sort of like John Houseman in The Paper Chase, and then moved on to the next party.
For more about the show (including, impressively, a set list) take a look at fellow Queen City Voxer M—–l's play-by-play. It includes a lot of things I promptly forgot.
David Bazan – 11/13/2007
David Bazan is the former frontman for Pedro the Lion. He writes some of the most incandescent gloom-and-doom songs you'll ever find. His doleful voice, sounding at times depressed to the point of lethargy, delivers unflinchingly realist narratives about doomed love and alcoholism and religion and stuff. I think he is very very very good.
The unexpectedly young crowd–I really felt out of place–didn't seem to know what to do when Mr. Bazan walked onto the stage and picked up his Telecaster. Maybe I should have jumped on a table and started howling and applauding. Unfortunately, the tables at Southgate House are small and wobbly, and I would only have fallen on my ass. So there he was, tuning up while one sensed a silent collective "duhhhhh" from the crowd.
Soon he got underway and boy, did he sound good. I do wish he'd had a backing band, whether PtL or a purpose-built group, because his robust songs, with their heavy and often plodding rhythms, benefit from solid drums and bass. After a few songs he did something I haven't seen before: he looked up at the audience and said, "So, does anyone have any questions at this point in the show?" And they did. He answered several questions about the meaning of specific songs, and he said he was no longer a Christian (although he wisely declined to enter into an extended discussion of religion).
Bazan passed over most songs from Control and Achilles Heel, albums that really need the band wallop. He played a lot of new material–a challenge for the audience who's probably unfamiliar with it, but a treat nonetheless. He also took on Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." I can't think of a better combination.
The audience may not have given Bazan an appropriate welcome, but they knew how to handle the closing. He finished up and promptly started putting away his guitar and coiling up his cables. Everyone kept clapping. He waved as if to say, "Ahh, go on home." But the audience was undeterred, and finally he came back to the mic and thanked us for being the first audience on the tour to make him uncoil his cables. And he did, and he gave us a couple more songs.
After the show Bazan perched onstage and talked to some folks. I thought about buying a CD and hanging out for his autograph, but it looked like it would be a while and it was getting late, so I headed out.
The opening act was Jim Fairchild, aka All Smiles. I'm afraid his set didn't do anything for me, although I'm more impressed by what I hear on his MySpace page.
So there you go. Eight days, three shows. My my.