Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Today's Soundtrack: 4/30/2008

Constantines - Kensington Heights
Ladyhawk - Shots
Both for review purposes.

Mudcrutch - (s/t)
Tom Petty's original band reunited for a country rock lark. And while they break no new ground here whatsoever, it makes me want to skip out on work and drive to Florida. Like right now. Who's with me?

10-year old girl ripping Kansas' "Carry on My Wayward Son" a new asshole on a church organ, for the 75th time.

Ry Cooder - Paris TX, Original Soundtrack
I have been offered free lunch break access to a recording studio right by my office, so I have been debating what I would do with it, and further, if I should take up the offer at all. The answer to the latter is YES, you don't turn down free, so as to what - the only leaning I have now is soundtrack-y guitar figures, like this record thatI would have never thought of it were it not for this mention of it by Willy Vlautin (of Richmond Fontaine) in this week's Living with Music on Paper Cuts. Somehow I don't think anything I come up with will remotely compare to "I Knew These People," mostly because nothing can possibly compare to it.

Marshall Chapman - Goodbye, Little Rock and Roller

Lying somewhere in style and timeline between Dusty Springfield and Lucinda Williams. She has an autobiography of the same name and cover I saw at the library the other day that hopefully has the same frankness and swagger of the record, without the datedness.

Rickie Lee Jones - Pop Pop
I'm trying to find a less piggish way to say that, while I enjoyed this record up to the point of "I'll Be Seeing You," I think I may have grown a tiny uterus while listening to it.

Gillian Welch - Soul Journey
I got it bad for Gillian Welch.

Oh me oh my oh look at Miss Ohio
Runnin' around with her ragtop down

I wanna do right But not right now

Also, I just now realized "I Had a Good Mother and Father" is a cover of the Palace Brothers song. Will Oldham and Gillian Welch should become the new Gram/Emmylou. Write a hit song for a movie and get shitty drunk at award shows. And make out on Entertainment Tonight. Or something.

[outsideleft] Being and Nothingness, Preferably While Drunk: Constantines and Ladyhawk

It is likely as gigantic personal error on my part trying to parse out life in a bunch of transient rock albums as it would be drinking one’s way down the mortal coil, but you have to do something. Deep in writing a book that I am resisting calling a memoir, mostly because I think my exploits pale in comparison to the music I select to express them, I’m stumbling toward some revelation, possibly one I am ill-prepared to handle, but whatever, drink up, for closing time approaches! The advertising firms hired by Merrill Lynch would have you believe that life is in fact not a journey but an extended bout of vacation planning, with a deck chair and a sunset and a mimosa awaiting you. They are probably right, but I prefer a cocktail Viking exegesis, with Odin’s one eye on the apocalypse offering a bitter after taste, served over the cool ice of Existentialism, leaving an empty glass when I’m finished.*

Kensington Heights
(Arts & Crafts)

I thought my rock ‘n’ roll happy hour was going to be derailed by some Terry Riley minimalism on the opening track “Hard Feelings” but quickly the power chords strut through wall of electric fuzz organ, and revealed Kensington Heights as one of the better neighborhoods in a Kansas song. Sure, Kansas is a bloated abomination of a group, but there is undeniable awesomeness within its jurisdiction (just witness this schoolgirl tearing “Carry on My Wayward Son” a new asshole on a church organ) That distillation of a great rock moment, that segment of awesomeness when a solo ignites for liftoff or a riff alters the Earth’s rotation, is what Constantines are after. “Trans Canada” has the rock-disco underbeat that everyone from Stevie Nicks to KISS found transcendence in, hell, the entire 80’s utilized; “Shower of Stones” lurks in the mudslide in which bathed both Sabbath and Bauhaus – oh love can be a shower of stones. Yes, Constantines, it sure can be. Rock after rock tumbles through the record: Nirvana meets Arcade Fire in “Our Age”, the Sparklehorse guy fronting My Morning Jacket on “Time Can Be Overcome”, Mars Volta and Joy Division on “Credit River” – this record is a buffet of curious concoction. But as with Blitzen Trapper, this is the time in which we live, everything is coming at once and the youth are of America are left to drink the mess down, and if it means (the) Constantines are having to run all over the court like a tennis partner, returning every lob over the net, then I bid these wayward sons to carry on.


Ladyhawk has a tighter focus on what they are after – that blustery glory about four or twelve drinks into the evening, where the ridges of your dinosaur spine stand on edge, revealing your reptilian nature.“I Don’t Always Know What You’re Saying” revels in the lost art of having one good line and building a song around it, maybe running a solo or two up the trellis, leaving enough footholds so that you can climb it to get on the roof and howl at something. “(I’ll Be Your) Ashtray” is so perfect a bellowing drunken love song, in both concept and practice, I want to buy this band the next round. “Faces of Death” offers a painful glimpse of the drunken truth realization moment in the line “there is no such thing as endless love” and chases it to the vanishing point on the stomping ramble “You Ran.” Now this would be a perfect juncture to call it a night, but as anyone who has experienced the great here-is-now rages of drink knows, you cannot quit while you are ahead, hence the ten-plus minute “Ghost Blues” that closes this record. Like that last bit of imparted wisdom at 1:35 in the morning, it starts out good, comprehensive of the evening’s proceedings in its lope, but well, it goes on way too long and, er, it’s been good talking to you, but I got work in the morning. I am of the belief that in that final hour, the greater truths are revealed, but then, I am often left to witness it alone, my fellow travelers having paid their tabs and departed.

*Yes, this is a bit of a stretch, but at least I'm not trying to make some point out of both bands being from Canada.


Review of Bitter Music: Collected Journals, Essays, Introductions, and Librettos by Harry Partch

Bitter Music: Collected Journals, Essays, Introductions, and Librettos (Music in American Life)I am reading his journal from the 30's, contained in this volume, for research purposes, but goddamn it is good. Partch was a cantankerous, singular composer in the mid part of the twentieth century whose quest for his precise and peculiar music puts him in close quarters with French sailors, all the organ builders in London, hobos, William Butler Yeats, prisoners named Mandolin-face and Kain-tuck, and briefly, King George and Queen Mary of England, in locations ranging from the train yard in San Luis Obispo to the beaches in Italy. If you are unfamiliar with or not a fan of Mr. Partch's music, this tale might seem Quixotic at best, but for those already in his hobo camp, this is inspiring and revelatory.


Tuesday, April 29, 2008

[The Record Crate] Banjo Masters, Songbirds and the Bass Drum of Death

There is plenty to get excited about this week, least among them is the unleashing of John Barrett's Bass Drum of Death on the Baton Rouge populace, when he opens for Dax Riggs at Chelsea's. The Oxford, Miss., (what is up with Oxford lately? A lot of cool things are radiating from that lovely little town) one-man rock machine demonstrates what happens when you spend a little too much time in the garage alone.

The sleeper show of the week is Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet at the Manship Theatre. Washburn has one of those dramatic, quirky voices that surprise you at every turn and is no slouch on the banjo. But then she'd have to be pretty good to be able to compete with bandmate Béla Fleck, considered the world's best practitioner of the instrument by snooty musicologists and dirty hippies alike. This should prove to be a stellar, unique show.

Jazz singer and composer Nnenna Freelon has played with the likes of Ray Charles, Herbie Hancock and Diana Krall all over the world, and she drops by the Manship for two performances Thursday. World renowned as both a singer and educator, Freelon has five Grammy nominations under her belt and fans like Aretha Franklin singing her praises.

Finally, once I start thinking I've heard it all, along swings a loose cannon like The Death Set. Worldwide, the latest EP from this multinational electro-pop quintet, involves new wave, punk, schoolyard chants, screaming and disarming charm, all at a breakneck pace on its 18 tracks blasting through your brain in less than 30 minutes. They will be tickling your short attention span, opening for Bonde do Role at Spanish Moon.

Click here for this week's events calendar

[outsideleft] Execution by Machine Gun: Peter Brötzmann and Han Bennink

Peter Brötzmann and Han Bennink
Live at The Big Top, New Orleans, LA April 28, 2008

Live music can be such a gamble – supposedly breathing the same germs as the musicians is the means to getting that artists soul directly in your veins, but let’s be honest – they are a crapshoot, and the horse you are betting on is likely drug-addled, generally unreliable, broke and deluded by a fog of ego. Factor in “veteran jazz performer” and the odds are tenfold in the house’s favor. The perception is you can’t swing a dead cat in New Orleans without hitting a brilliant jazz performer, but truth of the matter is, there are a lot of swinging dead cats haunting its jazz halls. The performances are tight and practiced, sure, but a really inspiring show is hard to come by. Thankfully, saxophonist/clarinetist Peter Brötzmann and drummer Han Bennink, titans of the 70’s European free jazz scene blew into the city just as Jazzfest was starting to consume the place and reminded us what a concert really can do.

Brötzmann is synonymous with “powerhouse” in jazz circles – he blows a horn like he is trying to inflate it into some form of grotesque brass balloon. His work with Bill Laswell, Sonny Sharrock and Roland Shannon Jackson as Last Exit set the bar impossibly high for any jazz-rock fusion that might follow, but his most renown moment was Machine Gun, an atomic blast detonated nearly forty years ago today whose reverberations are still being felt. The recently issues The Complete Machine Gun Sessions by Atavistic is a godsend, with its detailed liner notes explaining how drummer Han Bennink was sequestered in a makeshift tent during the recording of this feral octet in a small nightclub. The sound on this record can only be described as unchained. Go get it.

So the opportunity to see Brötzmann and Bennink play as a duo forty years later in the intimate confines of The Big Top is an unbelievable privilege of living off the main road – a show like this in New York or London would likely be packed to the gills with the worst kinds of people.

The two can still bring it. Bennink is in posession of horror vacui, a fear of empty spaces, for while he’s at the kit, every atom is lined up as part of his sonic universe. At points he started slapping his brushes against the air over the kit, and I don’t know whether one actually heard it or it was just deftly implied, but you sensed that swoosh one normally associates with Bruce Lee movies. He’s a playful performer, doing things like hiking his 6o-something-year old leg up on the kit and using his foot as a mute on the snare, or punctuating a quiet moment with pistol shot from his sticks. A couple times during the night, he reached behind him and slammed out a tone cluster on the stage piano. The real achievement, though, was when he got on a roll, pounding a groove so hard that it shook the painting on the walls around the room, effectively finding the harmonic frequency of the building. It's a wonder it didn't collapse.

Bennink’s playfulness, though, is in service to the song at all times. Even during the final encore, when he was exploring the percussive qualities of a wooden stool on the floor in front of the stage, he let it tip over and drop, and that simple gesture was simple and poetic, powerful and precise. I get the feeling Han Bennink could kick an ice chest down a flight of stairs and it would sound brilliant.

While Bennink filled the stage with a dense orb o f flutters and hits, Brötzmann tore through it with the blasts from his horn. It’s a crass analogy, but the best I can make for his playing was when the crew of the Battleship Yamato would fire up the wave motion gun on the Japanese cartoon series Star Blazers, (just click and wait... you'll see) laying waste to all in the path of its monstrous rush of energy. Brötzmann’s playing has taken on more melodic textures since Machine Gun, but lost none of its power. It was like he was throttling the horn, shaking the spirits out of it.

His more nuanced side came out when he picked up the clarinet, rendering his scream more as a jungle cry against Bennink’s dense tribal patter. Imagine a Les Baxter song running for dear life from a charging rhino and you get the feeling. The beautiful thing about their interplay is that you didn’t get the feeling that they were playing songs, nor were they dicking around with instruments hoping for a few seconds where the teeth of the gears to line up. These were two men of very distinctive and daunting styles, ones with whom I imagine it would be very hard to compete. (At one point during the show, I thought maybe the addition of a bass player would be nice, but quickly shelved that thought. I mean, what would he or she do here? A guy playing car alarms might have a better chance cutting in on this.) Instead of competing, the streams combined to form a stronger one and the horn and the drum became inseparable. The sound and moment became inseparable, and suddenly the thought of listening to anything else seemed ridiculous. That, my friends, is what a great concert can do.


Today's Soundtrack: 4/29/2008

After a show like the Brötzmann/Bennink show last night, listening to boring linear music seems frightfully pedestrian and frankly jejune.

Cecil Taylor - New York R&B
Not Cecil's craziest outing, but still the sheer bizarre algebra he goes through to resolve his musical questions is peerless.

Archie Shepp & The New York Contemporary Five - (s/t)
I love that feeling when you get in tune with free jazz when it becomes innocuous, reshaping the world to its own meter.

Henry Threadgill's Zooid - Up Popped The Two Lips

I'm not sure whether I like Henry Threadgill or not, even after years of listening to him, but the fact that I'm still listening and still can't figure it out says something about the higher order of music, that thing being something else I can't quite figure out.

Chicago Underground Duo - In Praise of Shadows

These guys somehow go from rat skeleton to woolly mammoth, wind chimes to foghorn choir, without you knowing it happened until it knocks you off your chair.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Today's Soundtrack: 4/28/2008

Today is nerdy, meditative and percussive, with a little looking down the shirt to spice things up.

Man or Astro-Man? - A Spectrum of Infinite Scale
I think I like the surf side of MoA-M? better than their science nerd side, but the 'A Simple Text File" - a recording of a dot matrix printer printing out lines of different characters, exploiting the slight tonal differences between printing a bunch of colons vs. a bunch of capital M's to make an actual surf song is nothing short of astounding. I think seeing this performed live, with a microphone pointing at the printer would be amazing, but this Lego animation will suffice until that footage surfaces

Ruins - Tzomborgha
The Ruins are what prog rock forced through a surf rock filter against it's will would sound like. "Gurthemvhal" for instance starts out like the opening to The Jackson 5's "Give Me One More Chance" paired with Les Claypool for the purposes of a team building exercise.

Primus - The Brown Album
Which leads me to Primus, a band I don't care for. This 1997 album did not make me a fan, but Les Claypool's patter and voice have only convinced me that is really one of the Residents, even though no one will believe me.

The Residents - The Voice of Midnight
Looking for evidence, and I think I might be wrong. Man, the Residents have been busy since I last checked. I think The Residents should go totally Vegas and give the Blue Man Group a run for their money.

Roxy Music - Country Life
I needed to switch to something I could listen to all the way through.

John Zorn - Workingman's Death

A meditative largely percussion soundtrack to a documentary about really dangerous jobs, like sulphur mining. Now we are getting somewhere

Califone - Roomsound
Meditative, percussion laden blues, where "Fisherman's Wife" and "Porno Starlet vs. Rodeo Clown" offer their own tales of less-than-glamorous employment.

Bardo Pond - Set and Setting

Still meditative but in a sexier direction. Bardo Pond is like looking down a witch's blouse at the blood ritual.

Sonic Youth - Bad Moon Rising
Fulfilling the trajectory of drugged out desert witch booty with Lydia Lunch "Death Valley '69." SY guitarist Thurston Moore was quoted somewhere saying "I'm gonna call my next album, 'So, Thurston, did you fuck Lydia Lunch?'" I've never noticed that cut-up Stooges sample (I think is from "Not Right" off The Stooges. I assume this is common knowledge that I missed ou on somehow.) at the beginning " I Love Her all the Time" before. Sonic Youth has matured rather gracefully without losing what made them interesting (to those that found them interesting; the people that hated them back then surely still hate them), but back in 1985, they were a force to be reckoned with.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

100 Words on Shaving Off My Beard

You have new Picture Mail! I shaved off my beard this evening. I’m always tempted to leave the mustache and soul patch when I do. One winter when I did such a thing, I had let my hair grow out to a wooly mane and looked rather bad-ass with just a fu-manchu and triangle under the lip, like a thug sneering back in the mirror. That is, until I put on my glasses; then I looked like a Civil War re-enactor. Now, I don’t know what I look like but I can feel the movement of butterflies miles away in the breeze against my cheek.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Baton Rouge Mentioned in The Onion

Badly Injured Man Not Done Partying Yet

Badly Injured Guy

Even at Hour 36, Girard doesn't let his wounds stop him from finishing someone else's discarded Budweiser.

BATON ROUGE, LA—Veteran partier Adam Girard announced his intentions to continue partying late Saturday evening, assuring onlookers that the multiple injuries he had sustained over the previous six hours did not require medical attention, and were not severe enough to prematurely end the festivities.

Read the full article

Succumbing to Evil Urges

My thoughts during the first listen to the new My Morning Jacket record, Evil Urges:
  1. They kinda lost me with Z, because I felt like they saw themselves reflected in Almost Famous, not as a great classic rock band owning an arena or golden gods, but as a classic rock band singing Elton John songs on the bus and having moments. I love that scene in Almost Famous too, but the ultimate danger of falling in love with one's reflection is not only the definition but the etymology of narcissism.
  2. Jim James is a really good singer, and he has solved his Kermit the Frog problem, but people should maybe hold off on telling him what a good singer he is.
  3. One song on here is really, really terrible. I'm not going to tell you which one, but you will recognize it as terrible when you hear it. Like it's not just regular terrible, but an innovative new breed of terrible. Like Komar and Melamid did some serious data-mining on their world's worst song project, and discovered uncharted territory.
  4. It is so terrible that you will be grateful for the REO Speedwagon-soundalike that follows it.
  5. Soft rock sounds great when you hear one song of it, its smoothness offering contrast to the bumpy road preceding and following it, like the shocking calm of passing under an overpass during a rainstorm, but prolonged exposure to such conditions hardly registers, like you don't really remark that it is not raining on on a clear day.
  6. Once they get their fuzz and drang on, it really starts to cook. It's like if Lenny Kravitz wasn't laughable and actually rocked. Why we had to scan the AM gold dial through T.G. Shepperd and the Pointer Sisters to finally find "Barracuda" is anyone's guess.
  7. I think My Morning Jacket and Radiohead are going to continue to rise until they converge in a muted rainbow explosion in the sky, killing all the dinosaurs again, and civilization will be left to reinvent itself in the wake.
  8. I'm questioning how much I ever liked MMJ in the first place. My first exposure to them was an essay on them in the sixth Oxford American Southern Music Issue (2003, though I can't find the author's name for some reason) so compellingly written that not only made made a band I'd never heard a note of become my favorite band at that moment, but created a standard that I have been trying to meet with my own writing ever since.
  9. This record would be a perfect soundtrack for an over-wrought movie about a trailer park kid abducted by aliens and then rudely deposited back in the park. Including the terrible closing credits number.
  10. At least you can no longer say Band of Horses sounds like a second rate My MorningJacket. You will have to find a completely different band of which Band of Horses can be a second-rate version.
  11. "Happier Than The Morning Sun" from Stevie Wonder's Music of My Mind came up after it, having typed "my morning" in the iTunes search box, and for a second there, I thought now wait, these boys have really landed on something...
  12. I'm thinking that it will grow on me, and somewhere in the ensuing weeks until its proper release I will have an epiphany about it and all joyous will be revealed, and I will give it a glowing proper review fraught with personal transformation analogies, and then like Z, I won't listen to it again unless it comes up on shuffle.

Evil Urges will tempt you wherever records are sold 6/10/2008

Friday, April 25, 2008

Today's Soundtrack: 4/25/2008

It was largely a swinging affair, with a marked introspective slant, occasionally punctuated with bursts of controlled sultriness - not dissimilar to a cocktail party in the academic set.

Stereolab - Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night

I think I like the title of this record more than the music, but I like the title a lot.

Martin Denny - The Exotic Sounds of Martin Denny

This one was for old times' sake, back when I did a lounge music show on KBRH, but it holds up remarkably well.

Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 - Look Around

Unlike Mr. Denny, Sr. Mendes doesn't really hold up all that well.

Cal Tjader - Soul Sauce

The Platonic concept of cool is best expressed in vibraphone form.

The Books - The Lemon of Pink

I've tried to listen to The Books record about 10 time before, but this is the first time it stuck. Perhaps the air conditioning and shade of institutional green in my office provide the perfect terra firma for their brittle yet very human electronica to thrive.

Bill Evans - Homecoming: Live at Southeastern Louisiana University 1979

This job calls for a lot of white noise, and in many ways Bill Evans is the whitest noise of all. Lovely and endearingly innocuous.

The Ramsey Lewis Trio - The In Crowd

I love the audience rumbling in the opening track. I wish my everyday life involved a room full of murmuring people that every once in a while yelled "YEAH" when I did something right. Soul claps would be nice too.

Brother Jack McDuff - Do It Now

I had a Barfly experience recently, opening the door to a motel room to the assault of brutal daylight, and though this is not Booker T and the MG's, it will more than suffice.

Curtis Mayfield - Sweet Exorcist

And we shall strut out of this day with some obscure, smooth, bugged-out soul-funk.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Nothing in this game is more satisfying than editing something once it has been formatted for publication. The document was just as real when it was a lowly Word file in a sub-folder of My Documents on my computer, but when it is immersed in the little idiosyncrasies of its resting spot, it becomes a bit realer - like, oh this is actually happening. It's a mechanical progression that allows you pull out of writing's narcissistic cocoon to view the even more ostentatious butterfly down the line.

Once I'm finished writing the content, I am tempted to get a single copy of my book printed, including a crude mock-up of a cover, so that I can idly edit it with a red pen, even though my three weeks now as a professional editor have reaffirmed my belief that it is a needlessly laborious and inefficient way to do business. The red pen and the arcane margin codes of proofreading are pure fetish objects, creating intimate relationships between you and the text you are changing. They are like those hobo codes chalked on doorsteps to relay "nice lady" or "angry dog" to fellow travelers - artifacts of a simpler time. Inserting comments and tracking changes in Word is neither congenial not sexy in the least, but it cuts to the chase.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

[outsideleft] Here Lies Nick Cave, Dancing Barefoot on His Own Grave

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Dig, Lazarus Dig!!!

I was ready to pen a return-to-form monstrosity about this record that would likely tell you nothing, so I held back and let this record instead work its way into my day to day, listen to snippets in the car, at the store, on the way to the club. I wouldn’t do this for every slab of plastic that comes through the mail slot; it’s just that I care about what Nick Cave does. In a predicament that I suspect plagues Bob Dylan fans from way back, Nick Cave’s early records filled a noticeable gap in the continuum, but over the years we diehards have had to endure his phases and costume changes, each time telling ourselves, “He’s still got the stuff,” while wishing he’d just somehow manage to do another Highway 61 Revisted/Tender Prey.

But they never do, do they? I sometimes envy the dimwitted knights of Creationism because evolution is usually disappointing in a human frame. You cannot expect an artist to retain the momentum after 30 years; it’s even unreasonable to expect that thread that stretches back to the good old days to avoid dry rot. And yet, here we are, unable to let go of the past. I get a notice everyday – The Feelies are reuniting! The B-52’s are hittin’ the mall! It’s a matter of time before some mouth-watering marketer informs me in breathless punctuation that Kajagoogoo is answering our prayers and reforming. Is it because music now is so uninspired and shallow that we are stoked when anyone with a modicum of perspective enters our airspace? Nah, rock music has always been uninspired and shallow, its one of its greatest charms.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oxford, MS

In order:
  1. The roasted pig at the rehearsal dinner
  2. The view of the square from the City Grocery balcony
  3. A grill in front of one of the rooms at my motel
  4. Star of such films as Chasing Amy, Joey Lauren Adams
  5. The fairy tale wedding reception
  6. Band photos in the lobby of my motel
  7. Graffiti mural in the dining room of the Taylor Grocery catfish restaurant
  8. The much ballyhooed Square Books
  9. View of the church from atop the double-decker shuttle to the reception
  10. The wedding cake and my old roommate Holly, both decked out in white with strawberries
  11. The interior of City Grocery's bar
  12. Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers, playing a semi-acoustic show my last night there
The whole set can be viewed here


[The Record Crate] Home of the Blues

I was asking a fellow patron of the blues earlier today how the Buddy Guy show went -- he was underwhelmed, but the rest of his party loved it -- and the subject turned to blues cities, and I asked, is there a Blues Hall of Fame, and if so, where is it? The authority of Google presented two contenders, with the San Diego contingent holding the registered trademark. While they don't have a facility set up, they do have a number of familiar Louisiana faces such as Mem Shannon and Kenny Wayne Shepherd on their list of nominated inductees.

Now I know a lot of places hold claim to being the home of the blues: Chicago, Kansas City and Memphis among them, but they wouldn't have had as much as a walking bass line to work with if a number of Louisiana artists hadn't made their way up Hwy. 61. I'm thankful that blues fans the world over keep this music alive, and San Diego is a beautiful city and all, but is that where the Hall of Fame belongs instead of, say, here?

The return of the Blues Festival this weekend to downtown Baton Rouge is a credit to the mayor, the Baton Rouge Blues Foundation and the Baton Rouge Blues Society and their efforts to keep the fires lit on our heritage. This Saturday, the lineup of Louisiana talent is staggering: Kenny Neal, Larry Garner, Luther Kent, Lazy Lester Marcia Ball and more are all playing downtown for free. We've proven there is interest in our music and our heritage. I say we keep that momentum rolling and beat San Diego to the punch.

Link to local events calendar

Monday, April 21, 2008

You too can control CNN, motherf*cker

I'm sure you've seen this already but...

Get your very own "I Control CNN, Motherfucker" t-shirt from at the link below,%20Motherfucker&date=1208822133000&hash=4e524689af191b07877e03d43788575f&return_uri=

or if you don't have the stones for my design, you can create your own message thanks to my awesome computer genius (it works in Internet Explorer):

Enter text and click "submit"

or just copy the URL above and replace the red part with your own message.

This is all because has added a feature where if you click on a little icon next to a headline, you can get a t-shirt made from it, effectively bridging the gap between actual news and The Onion as stated on BWE. I predict it is just a matter of time before CNN woos Jon Stewart away from Comedy Central for untold zillions to host a night time fake-news chat show of their own. Not that I think that's a particularly bad idea or harbinger of doom or anything, I just want to go on record calling it.

100 words on Pachelbel’s Canon

Music school humor about Pachelbel's Canon in D

Stumbling across Brian Eno's Discreet Music for the first time in a decade, I was sucked in by this most obvious piece of baroque God's eye interlock. Old Bald Brian stretches the piece like silly putty into three different ways, but each somehow reveals the essence in those droning strings and the song never loses its lope. I gave it my own shot in ukulele (song 4 on the long neglected myspace page) and though my distortions have more to do with ineptitude than high concept, it maintains relative nobility through the fattest of fingers on the jokiest of instruments.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Westdale Monument in Danger of Being Destroyed

This is frankly appalling. The Westdale Monument is a student-built mixed media sculpture at the corner of Goodwood and Jefferson, recognized by the Smithsonian as an important sculpture and the Baton Rouge School Board is desperate to have it destroyed, this time under the idea that the land its on needs to be used for a fire station. I don't know much about the judicious sprinkling of fire stations, but there is already one within half a mile from there on Government street.

The real reason, I will venture, for their need to destroy it is the stylized African figure on one corner of the sculpture. I don't want to think that's why, but its what I think.

I feel a futility in protesting because it seems that hard-headed bigots have nothing to gain in listening, but I'm going to do it anyway. Culture Candy has issued a call to action below for those of you that wish to get involved


CultureCandy is issuing a call to action to prevent the Baton Rouge School Board from destroying a 21-year-old piece of public art, The Westdale Monument. We are asking those supporters of CultureCandy to call or email the EBR School Board and ask for explanation of its decision. The EBR School Board has refused to sufficiently open discussion up to the public forum. They have essentially rejected the architect Coleman Brown's proposal that would allow the intended fire station and monument to co-exist on the same property. His submission was in the EBR School Board's hands two months before they responded. They have completely ignored the monument's listing on the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s inventory of American sculptures. Please view this link to learn more

William "Chip" Osborne has been following the status of the monument and brought the matter to CultureCandy's attention. Please read his review of the situation:

School Board Destroys Art

Culture emerges from community; and the various artworks and attitudes that comprise culture sustain and inform the very context in which they arise. Authentic art arises from authentic community, and this art in turn models authenticity to the community. Education is one of the more conspicuous of the means by which culture is communicated and sustained; it is certainly the most conspicuous guardian of a community's intellectual health, and in a healthy community, this intellectual well-being includes the arts and humanities.
And this is why citizens who recognize the central role of culture in a healthy community must take notice when its school board votes to destroy a public sculpture on the Smithsonian list of monuments, a sculpture built by its young people through the process of education, an artwork that has authentically arisen in the community through the very process of acculturate that community. This is more than deeply troubling. The system by which the Baton Rouge community is educated has chosen to authorize the destruction of one of the few public displays of arts in education in this town. This is pathological; this is an animal eating its own heart in an attempt at sustenance.

Thank you!
Your Friends at CultureCandy

Friday, April 18, 2008

I've got a tombstone hand and a graveyard mind

Right now, I am standing freshly showered in a moderately fleabag motel in Mississippi, listening to the rain spatter right outside my door at 3 in the afternoon. I have Quicksilver Messenger Service wheedling away at a slow-mo heroin version of "Who Do You Love" issuing from my laptop.

It looks and feels like an Sundance movie, right before the really bad drug deal is about to go down, though I expect the laptop would be traded for a clock radio, upon which Quicksilver Messenger Service would still be playing because everyone knows everything is highly anachronistic in the South at all times*. I would probably have longer hair, be 30 pounds lighter and have a jacket with fringe on it in the movie.

I'd be waiting for a guy named "Chico" instead of my friends that are going to pick me up in a bit to go to a rather posh engagement dinner. That green backpack would be a vintage suitcase, perhaps fashioned from of rattlesnake hide like the brand new house on the road side QMS are moaning about.

OH - I almost forgot the real-life Sundance movie detail - I am in room 13, a subtle omen of the bad drug deal about to go down. Each of the rooms has a heart shaped plaque on the door with the number painted on it, yet mine is mysteriously scraped off, perhaps hellhounds on the trail of a previous tennant of this unlucky room tore it off in a fit of picque while said tennant was getting showered in preparation for his own drug deal/engagement party.

*When music in a film is audible to both the characters and audience, it is referred to as diagetic music. Under the tenets of Dogme 95, it is the only music allowable in films. The viability of such tenets are undercut by Dogme-titst Lars Van Trier making Dancer in the dark, a full bore musical starring Bjork only 5 years after making a name with his vow of cinematic purity

Thursday, April 17, 2008

floodstage part 3

You have new Picture Mail!

This is at the levee near LSU by the Vet School. I'm not positive, but I think you can usually walk out to those trees out there in the water. It was about 12 feet from the top.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Don't be crazy, I am totally doing High School Musical on Ice.

I suspect that when they see me and realize: I can't skate all that well, am tuneless in voice, and that I have 25 years and 50 pounds on any cast member my height, I will be relegated to the driving the fantasy Barbie Zamboni in a face-obscuring wig, but just in case I'll be practicing my jazz hands and taking care of my voice, or instrument, as we stars call it.

May 8 - 11, 2008 at the Baton Rouge River Centre

I'm also having some creepily acute deja vu at this very moment typing this out. Could that tingly sensation be... DESTINY?

[The Record Crate] Blues Week kicks off in style, and while I'm asking…

I went down to New Orleans this past week to catch Iron & Wine at House of Blues and while their spectral folk whisper has evolved to include dub and Pink Floyd in its intoxicating sonic stew, I found myself frustrated by two things. First, the House of Blues is one of the all-time worst places to see a concert; the sight lines are such that the heads of precisely two people out of the 500 sardined in there are in your way at all times. Second, why aren't we seeing shows like this here, bands that have grown too big to play bar stages but have a proven appeal to the college demographic? The Varsity has a great setup, as does SoGo, should the casino masterminds that shuttered its doors decide that it can be used again. I don't want to wax too nostalgic, but I saw so many rising stars at The Varsity in its infancy. I understand there are economic vectors in booking riskier acts, or even keeping venues open, but I think the lineups and crowds at the Spanish Moon and Chelsea's over the past year have proven there is an audience here for popular music sitting on the fringe. Plus, it never hurts to ask.

Case in point: I have been wanting a local group to mine the chugging 1970s German psychedelia of Can & Kraftwerk for some time now, and I found one: EQ rode out the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme (Richard Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra) to the throbbing electric horizon during their set during the Yuri's Night Party at Red Star. Much like Brown Leaf Vertigo (which do hillbilly versions of Misfits songs) I don't know if they are a lark or a real band, but I'd like to hear more of them so that I can make an educated decision.

And speaking of criminally underutilized venues, homegrown blues legend Buddy Guy will be performing at the Texas Club. His impact on rock 'n' roll is inestimable, and this is a show one should not miss. Blues week kicks off in style with the Slim Harpo Awards, honoring Marcia Ball, Lil Ray Neal, Silas Hogan and Nick Spitzer, followed by Chris Thomas King at Chelsea's, Earth Day and Sunday in the Park and a week of killer blues all over town.

Oh, and to the members of Omaha's Little Brazil who felt the need to diss local experimentalists Wilderness Pangs in a recent interview, after having sabotaged their CD release party a couple months ago by overflowing their slot with additional lackluster material: Wilderness Pangs may not be your cup of tea, but dull bands who needlessly rag on others trying to do something interesting are clearly not mine.

Link to events calendar

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

2 questions

  1. When I'm importing a CD in iTunes but playing something else, the song that's playing gets atomized, in that I think iTunes is using the same engine to make the mp3 that it uses to play it, thereby making the piece skitter, like it plays one bit of sound, stops and records a bit, then plays the second bit, and it gets more pronounced as you advance through the tracks. I didn't feel like looking for something else so I just let it go, and the sweet contemplative Lulu Suite by Alban Berg was transformed into robot monster Daft Punk out-takes. I'm considering recording it and declaring myself as founder/genius of yet a new strain of techno. So, iTunes users, does this happen to you?
  2. I got asked if I'd like to skate in the local production of High School Musical on Ice and write about my experience. I am unbelievably clumsy on ice skates and not all that graceful off them and the money I'll be paid for this will in no way counter-balance the time it will take to do it. On the other hand, it is unlikely that I will ever again be asked to be in an major ice show. So, ice show fans and otherwise, should I do it anyway?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

[Sweet Tooth] Generating Space with Robert Moreland

Click here to download the PDF version, or go here to read the articles

Generating Space With Robert Moreland
by Alex V. Cook

Seeing an artist on the cusp of doing great things is just as rewarding, maybe more rewarding, than seeing a master at work, and Baton Rouge artist Robert Moreland is on that cusp. Earlier work of his has a quality of cellular regeneration to it, as if one was watching art develop under a microscope, recombinant forms doubling, multiplying, mutating, all the while naked in their materiality.

The work in his recent show at the PlusOne Gallery emerges fully formed; in fact, it made the eclectic layout of the room seem as if it were generated from the art within it. The windows of the room, placed in odd intervals to maximize light without sacrificing wall space, mirror Moreland’s floating rectangles, somewhere between paintings and relief sculptures, protruding inches from the wall. The large, multi-paneled piece simply titled "Construction” central on the mail wall appeared as a complex nucleus to the exhibition, as earthy patterns and textures intertwined in a complex engagement of planes. I’m not sure I’ve been to an exhibition that sat so well in a space that was not specifically designed for it.

Moreland’s two strongest pieces commanded an opposing corner of the room. "Not Even a Wind,” a tight amalgam of squares and rectangles in subtly differing shades of white revealed Moreland’s Apollonian side; it floated off the walls like a manifestation of thinking about art. Its partner "Separate Ways,” offered a more earthbound hands-dirty approach in its soil and wood tones and the inclusion of a metal road sign, reminiscent of Rauschenberg’s intimate combines of the 50s without aping them. These two pieces do what great art does—transcend its material form to reflect not only the world that created it, but also imply the world capable of being created from it.

The rest of the exhibit paled in comparison to the impact of these three pieces. "Lament for Leone 1 and 2,” a pair of large pieces constructed of disconnected yellow, red and checkered rectilinear panels felt unfulfilled compared to its neighbors. "1957” and "Corrine,” two boxlike constructions relying heavily on photographic images stretched over boxy constructions, festooned with flags and spurs and pins seemed like the work of a wholly different artist lacking the sophistication of the one that produced the stronger work. In these, one got the feeling that they would have had greater impact if one knew the back story, but that story was not readily supplied. "Next,” a wall mounted cube covered with a richly textured fabric was better at radiating a shared but unspecified experience, possibly in that it resembled the kinds of latched cases in which 45 rpm singles were filed.

These are minor complaints, mind you. Moreland shows that he is willing to experiment, to push his art in whatever directions it will go, some directions being more successful than others, but that willingness to do so is what makes a show like this so inspiring. Art, when it is successful, is synergistic; it generates cognitive space much larger than the physical space it occupies, and Robert Moreland is someone who I suspect will be generating a lot of synergistic space in the years to come.