Archive for the ‘Field Recordings of the Future’ Category

So Much Tonight

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

Army colored Dodge at Town Hall

Last year when we were working on Civilization Arpad played us a few tracks that he had recorded at Nod’s rehearsal space. We were finishing mixes for our cd and they were just starting work on a new album. The tracks we heard were rough. Nod is rough. I was anxious to hear the final results and asked about it whenever I saw one on them. I learned Joe Tunis was going to release it on his Carbon Records so I preordered it. The vinyl arrived this afternoon.

Nod has been around for twenty five years or so and this is their best album yet. Most bands go in the opposite direction. Think how good the first Talking Heads lp was and how each album after that got worse and worse. Nod is a three piece. They’ve sometimes worked with other musicians but no matter how good they are they take the edge off of Nod. Three letters, three players, Joe Sorriero, Tim Poland and Brian Shafer.

No one sounds like Nod; rhymes with odd. Imagine “No New York” with Can, an underground sound. Live, they are loud, they get the party started, but mostly because they are raw like the Stooges. And angular so you want to dance like an idiot. My favorite song on “So Much Tonight” is “Go For a Ride,” a classic Nod piece. “Rollin Around” nods to Exile on “Main Street” and “Whatchya Doin” is sweet. Nod is in good form.

Check them out. Highly reccomended.

Morricone Would Do It

Wednesday, September 12th, 2018

25 cent tablecloth with Citronella plant

“Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda” played last night at the Little and it will be shown one more time, on Saturday afternoon at 3pm before it leaves town. It is a slow, beautiful movie. Slow only in the sense that you must stop talking, walking, texting to observe, to see, to listen and to hear. Like Tarkovsky, whose movies were highly influential to Sakamoto and are excerpted in this film, Sakamoto is focused on the yin and yang of equilibrium. He confronts the nuclear disaster in Japan in work, he says because if we were able to damage the earth we are able to fix it. While thumbing through a book of Tarkovsky Polaroids he says Tarkovsky was a musician because of the way he uses sound, rain, wind, footsteps, movement.

The creative process is beautifully laid out in this film as we see Ryuichi in early settings with his Yellow Magic Orchestra and in the studio working on soundtracks for “The Sheltering Sky,” “The Last Emperor,” “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence,” and “The Revenant.” He battles cancer in the film and when pushed to explain how he felt when he received the diagnosis he says it feels like it is a joke. He says Bernardo Bertolucci asked him to rewrite some music on the spot. He said it would be impossible and Bertolucci told him, “Ennio Morricone would do it.” So he did it and an orchestra performed it a half hour later.

In a nod to the Fringe Fest, which will start tonight and be happening all around us, Margaret Explosion will be performing without a setlist! Wednesdays Little Theatre Café 7-9pm

Holding Court

Wednesday, August 1st, 2018

Bobby Henrie and the Goners at Radio Social in Rochester, New York

Cheryl Laurro, the former Godiva’s shop owner, restauranteur, singer and spiritual advisor, was in town. She held court over at Radio Social, the old Stromberg Carlson plant. It was the first time we had been in the place even though I grew up on the street, on the other side of Humboldt. We used to play in the parking lot. Bob Henrie and the Goners were playing there so it was a double draw. They sounded better than ever. Bobby is a dynamo with a wealth of songs he can call on. He keeps the band on their toes as they play two long sets with no setlist. I had the opportunity to video the same two dancers as caught eight years ago at another Goners’ show. They are still the best band in the city.

Dining In Peace

Sunday, July 29th, 2018

I don’t usually read the food section but I do look at it. I found myself pretty deep into an article about some guy, about our age, who really like the food at a particular restaurant but couldn’t stand the music that they played. He asked the owners if he could do a set list for them and they said yes. Turns out the guy, Ryuichi Sakamoto, was in Yellow Magic Orchestra, a group we followed in the late seventies.

I recreated his playlist in Apple Music and added one at the end, a Philip Glass piece that I stumbled on it while mistyping a song title. The playlist might not work for you but here is the link. I was unfamiliar with most of the music but instantly feel in love with this Bill Evans track called “Peace Piece.”

A Perfect Night

Friday, July 13th, 2018

Chuck Prophet at Abilene in downtown Rochester, New York

We offered to let Eric stay at our place. He had played in Cleveland the night before and got held up fulfilling the checkout list at his Airbnb so he arrived just as we were heading out for dinner at Kerry and Claire’s. When we returned near midnight Eric was playing his Alvarez on the couch. He showed us the wafer thin spot above the F hole that he had worn down on this tour. Rochester was his last stop.

Peggi and I intended to watch the last half hour of the England-Croatia match before going to bed. We had recorded the game and then the two shows in the time slots after the game in the event that the match went into overtime. It did but something went awry. Judge Judy, the first show we recorded after regulation time, started at the 117th minute and Croatia had already scored the go ahead goal. Eric isn’t much of a football fan but he told us his friends in England were all bummed out.

I had a premonition that Amy would show up and sure enough she walked in minutes before Wreckless Eric took the stage at the Bop Shop. Eric’s set was sublime, a sonic adventure where new and old songs were supercharged, interrupted and amended and footnoted like a David Foster Wallace novel. Eric looks a bit like a priest with his white hair, black sport shirt and bolo, black jeans and shoes, a priest who can get a monstrously crunchy sound from an acoustic guitar. Between songs he went off on a hunch that his guitar wanted to do a solo album without him and his fuzz tone and boxes were just conspiring to get him to drive them around. I loved the rich contrast between his old songs, pop anthems really, and his wry, world weary new ones.

Chuck Prophet was playing at the same time, downtown at the Party in the Park, on a bill with G Love. Rumor had it that he would also do a late set on the deck out back at Abilene so we headed downtown. We had heard him with the band when they opened for Sharon Jones a few years back and we weren’t really buying it but it was such a beautiful night.

A five dollar cover, a seven dollar beer and we found a spot up front just as they started. Prophet has a great band and he is a really good entertainer in a charming, sort of goofy way. His first few songs were ok but then came the covers, one carefully chosen song after another. They all sounded great. Pipeline, Telstar, KC’s Boogie Shoes, Shake Some Action with Amy and Eric on backups and then Tom Petty’s American Girl with Amy Rigby doing the middle section, a rip-roaring version. Of course they did an encore, Alex Chilton’s Bangkok. It was a perfect night.


Friday, June 29th, 2018

Pilc Moutin Hoenig at Rochester International Jazz Fest

Soccer, like music, is a shared international marvel, a phenomenon. The World Cup puts all the nations though a big funnel. The first round, which ended yesterday, culled the top thirty two teams to sixteen. The mash-ups, Germany vs. Mexico, Senegal v. Colombia, Iceland vs. Croatia were monumental. I was thinking about how the the World Cup is constructed, and the possible permutations that will produce a winner from the last eight matches, as we sat down for Pilc Moutin Hoenig’s set.

Finally. We heard our favorite band of this jazz festival. The band was introduced, the bass player plucked a few notes and the drummer answered with a few strategically placed taps. Were they just checking their levels? No, they were starting a dialog, one that turned into a cat and mouse game before taking on the form of a fully developed piece. But just as we were digesting that development the piano player stood up and walked away. The bass and drums were revealed in a dramatic new light. He sat back down and piece evolved into something else.

Was their set all improvised? Surely they revisit favorite themes. The three were great players but their greatest strength was their arranging. They fearlessly deconstructed their music in the same way they constructed it. The trio was confident enough to explore smaller configurations. Just think of the possible combinations. Piano and bass, bass and drums, bass and piano. Just piano, just bass, just drums. And when it came down to just one instrument wasn’t so much a solo as it was music, played on one instrument. Pilc whistled a tune while accompanying himself with a one note piano repetition. It was brilliant.

They continually let things gracefully fall apart. One of them would duck out of the arrangement and the song immediately took on a new shape. They did this over and over again through the whole night. About thirty minutes into their set they found themselves all playing an ending and they went with it. There was applause. And they went back to work.

Chamber Jazz

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Kuala Trio at the Rochester International Jazz Fest 2018

We started the night at Montage without knowing anything about the band. The room was packed, standing room only, and it was about thirty degrees warmer than outside. Their air conditioning was not up to the task so they had the back door open and a large fan whirling away. Christian Sands Trio, piano, bass and drums, was tearing it up with a big back beat and showman-like piano swells that had the crowd cheering. They brought it way down for “Deep Purple” and still had the room in the palm of their hands as they had us with the melody. Sands does two solo piano sets at Hatch Recital Hall tonight.

Sonidos Unidos, the popular local Latin music band, had twelve people on the small RG&E tent stage and I counted seven strings on the bass player’s instrument. They always sound good.

It wasn’t until the third song that I realized there was no bass player in the trio at the Lutheran Church. Kuala Trio held themselves together with the space around their perfectly placed parts. Mostly slow, even mournful at times, and always pretty in a sad sort of way. They mixed European folk with classical and jazz and played like a chamber ensemble, at times just sax or sax and drums or long stretches of piano and drums. They were each such great players they made their instruments sound like a million bucks.

We pushed our earplugs in and stepped into the big tent for a few songs by Moon Hooch. Two tenor sax players darting around the stage like professional wrestlers with a great dancehall drummer. They augmented this sound with some keyboard programming and got the party going on a Sunday night.

Huge Generalization

Sunday, June 24th, 2018

Drummer and keyboard player on East Main Street in Rochester, New York

These two street musicians had switched instruments tonight and they sounded great.

The line for the Bad Plus went around the corner to Franklin Street but we weren’t worried, we’d been in this venue, now called Temple Theater, back in the eighties to see Yellowman, Grace Jones and The Replacements and we knew there was plenty of space. I was excited to see the Bad Plus with their new pianist, Orrin Evans. I found him just as melodic but more angular and impactful. The band has carved out their own space with a sound that is hard to pin down. One attribute is a constant. The group playing, one player’s part hanging on the other, creates the sound. I especially liked “Savages,” a hypnotic groove of a song from their new record.

Saxophonist, Sigurdur Flosason, left Iceland to study with David Baker at Indiana University in Bloomington. Peggi Fournier also went to Indiana University but she studied saxophone with Rich Stim. His band was a perfect fit with the Lutheran Church where we sat in the pews contemplating the setting sun through the stained glass windows. He finished with with “Serenading the Moon,” a tribute to Hoagy Carmichael (a Bloomington native)/Johnny Mercer song, “Skylark.” We talked to Flosason after the performance and never mentioned Iceland’s 2-0 World Cup loss to Nigeria.

Django Bates’ Beloved Trio has a new record produced by Manfred Eicher at ECM. Funny how a record label, Impulse, Blue Note, ECM, informs the sound. To my ears ECM leaves the blues out of jazz. A huge generalization. Bates’s free flowing piano melodies hardly needed the adornment of the rest of the beloved trio.

Melissa Aldana, the Chilean tenor saxophonist at Kilbourn works in a moody, blue territory, steeped in the right parts of the tradition but the band seemed oddly disconnected from the songs. We only heard a few songs but I kept waiting for them to dig in. I might have missed that part. We went home to watch Germany score in the last minute of stoppage time.

Drawn In

Saturday, June 23rd, 2018

Drummer and keyboard player on nEast Main Street in Rochester, New York

These guys, performing on the street near Hatch Hall, posed for me while they were playing. The drums were about five times louder than the keyboard.

We didn’t know the names so we listened to the samples and were left with only a few choices for the opening night of the Jazz Fest. More time to watch the three World Cup matches we had time shifted.

Seventeen years in and we are still able to find free parking downtown. We walked by the old Milestones, what was once a venue for the festival, James Blood Ulmer comes to mind, and a solo guitarist was playing in the parking lot patio. He had a foot pedal rigged to play a tamborine and an old suitcase that played like a bass drum. Can’t even remember what he sounded like. We were on our way to the Xerox Auditorium and we were drawn into the Rhythm Dogs performance in front of the Inn on Broadway. Drawn that is by the rock solid R&B drummer, Laris Ashford. Anybody could have played anything in front of that guy. We only lasted a few minutes because it was painfully loud.

Alfredo Rodriguez and Pedrito Martinez at Xerox Auditorium were a pure joy to hear. We had heard both at past festivals in completely different settings, Rodriguez with his trio at Kilbourn and Martinez leading Cuban dance/pop ensembles. They played fast and furious and then slow and pretty. The classically trained pianist’s free flowing melodies worked magic with the rhythms of the Cuban streets. We were tempted to return for the second set but the World Cup called.

Marius Neset at the Lutheran Church went from dreamy pretty to frenetic in the same song. Their material was richly orchestrated and executed with near precision. We sat between the piano and vibraphone and those two instruments sounded especially good in stereo harmony. Their arrangements were mostly joyous and the band was clearly having fun so the progressive tendencies remained infectious.

Summertime Prep

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

David Murray and Kahil El'zabar playing Summertime at Bop Shop in Rochester, New York

it is a pretty safe bet we won’t see or hear a show at the Jazz Fest as good as David Murray and Kahil El’zabar were on Monday night at the Bop Shop. David Murray was a founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet and he won a Grammy. Kahil has played with Pharoah Sanders, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder and Archie Shepp. He was knighted by the Council General of France. Together, as a duo, they cover a lot of ground, Murray on sax, bass clarinet and vocals, El’zabar on drums, percussion, thumb piano and vocals.

We have seen them many times because they are always fabulous but Monday was even better. Matt Guanere was recording them for a new cd, Aaron Winters was taking still photos and the performance was being videoed for the Bop Shop’s YouTube channel. The band was in tip top shape and their version of “Summertime” blew us away.


Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

ME, formerly Personal FX on South Clinton Avenue in Rochester, New York

Bobby Moore cut Peggi’s hair a few times. This was back in the early eighties. He worked out of this building on South Clinton but it had another name, something with “More” in it maybe. I can’t remember. He used to come see the band. You would not forget him if you knew him.

He died of Aids back when it killed a bunch of our friends. Someone else took over the shop, another hairdresser, and they called it Personal FX, which was pretty close to the name of our band, “Personal Effects.” That sign stayed on the building for over twenty years even though the tenant had left.

Recently we spotted a new sign on the front of the place. The South Wedge is still coming up! This time they have the abbreviations for our current band. “ME”

Margaret Explosion - Holiday

Margaret Explosion – Holiday

Twenty Years Ago Today

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

Margaret Explosion playing at the Bug Jar in 1998

Pete LaBonne, shown above on bass guitar, named the band. Casey Walpert gave us a gig playing happy hour at the Bug Jar on Friday nights and we stayed there for a few years. We never rehearsed and still haven’t. We improvised. Jack Schaefer played guitar, Peggi Fournier played sax and I played drums.

The group changed over time. Pete moved back to the mountains after three months and Greg Slack, who was usually there on Friday nights, took over on bass. The group grew in size, became unmanageable and slimmed down again. Bob Martin moved back from DC and joined on guitar. Ken Frank joined shortly after Bob and that worked well for fifteen years. Bob moved to Chicago and Phil Marshall took his place on guitar. Pete sits in on piano whenever he is town, he’s on most of the records, and Jack plays bass clarinet when his schedule allows.

Margaret Explosion is a concept and it seems to work despite the line-up changes. I like to think it keeps getting stronger. On Wednesday Pete will be sitting at the grand piano, Jack will play a few tunes on bass clarinet and we’ll give away some merch. I am grateful to all the people we’ve played with in these twenty years and I’m really exited about tomorrow’s gig.

Margaret Explosion - Tonic Party

Margaret Explosion – Tonic Party


Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Albert Paley sculpture in front of old B&L Headquarters, Rochester, New York

It wasn’t the best night last week. The band sort of floated around themes but never nailed anything until that one song in the second set. We trapped ourselves in a spell and stopped time. The room got really quiet and we all knew we were into something good. I remember thinking. “I don’t want to blow this,” and then the power went out on the recorder. I don’t know if kicked the cord or what happened but we lost the recording. If I hadn’t let the batteries run down they would have taken over but they were dead so, poof, the second set was gone. The really cool thing was that all four of us were bummed. We are all on the same page and knew we had touched magic.

Of course, if we did have the recording, the chances are it would never have sounded as good as we remember it. Mike Rea tapes a lot of shows. Maybe he has a recording.

Margaret Explosion - Daydream

Margaret Explosion – Daydream

The Courage To Create

Monday, May 7th, 2018

Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph performing at the Bop Shop in Rochester, New York

Two nights in a row at the Bop Shop. I wish I still bought records. I did look through a few boxes of 45s labeled “New This Week,” all vintage but in great shape, but I didn’t buy anything. We were there for performances by Amy Rigby on Friday night and then Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph on Saturday. Hamid reminded us at the end of their set that we should all be thankful for performance spaces like this, an outlet for people with the courage to create. Drake was part of the first act Tom booked in his old space in the Village Gate and that was thirty years ago.

We have heard Hamid Drake with Fred Anderson and Ken Vandermark and Peter Brotzmann. He is a sensational drummer. Both he and Adam Rudolf played with Don Cherry, Yusef Lateef and Pharaoh Sanders. They learned from the masters. Years ago when Hamid played Milestones I asked him who his favorite drummer was and he told me it was Ed Blackwell, who he studied with. I reminded him of that conversation last night and he said he had moved on from Blackwell’s influence because he felt he was sounding too much like Blackwell, as if that’s possible. His mentor, Yusef Lateef, taught, “the tradition is to sound like yourself. To play your aboriginalness.”

Hamid says he “has been developing a hand drum concept on the drum set while Adam has been developing a drum set concept on his hand drums.” They played one long but perfectly controlled set and finished with a mesmerizing piece where Hamid sang a Buddhist chant while playing a frame drum and and Adam played sintir while throat singing backups. Despite subscribing to music streaming services, we bought their new cd,”Karuna.”

Amy Rigby Holy Card

Sunday, May 6th, 2018

Amy Rigby holy card on table at home

I still have my holy cards spread out on the rug in our living room. Still sorting and identifying the ones with no identification, apart from the distinctive iconography. Of course that is Santa Agueda with her breasts in a bowl but who is that shown with two lions and a Roman building? A half hour’s research proves it is Santa Thecla, the first woman martyr. Meanwhile the post card announcing Amy Rigby’s gig at the Bop Shop is still on our table. Catching it out of the corner of our eyes, both Peggi and I keep thinking it is a holy card.

Amy Rigby, performing without her famous husband, captivated a large crowd in the performance space at the Bop Shop on Friday night. She was in fine form as she presented her many gifts – her devotion to song craftsmanship, her charm and wit, her shared fandom and literary lyrics. I get “From to” but I’m still mulling over the lyrics to the enigma,”Robert Altman,” as well I should be. I am a huge fan of Amy’s writing so of course we bought her new augmented song book with lyrics to her new lp, “Old Guys.” as well as a hand picked selection of blog posts.


Monday, March 26th, 2018

Wind surfer in channel at Sea Breeze in Rochester, New York

We walked along the beach this morning with our back packs fully loaded. That would be just over and just under ten pounds each. We went up Oakridge Drive for a bit and then cut back into the park. We saw someone out on the golf course hitting balls. He was wearing headphones and he was surrounded by patches of snow. They looked like shiny white sand traps against the bright blue sky. Peggi found our first golf ball of the year, a brand new “Chaos” ball by Wilson. It seems like a strange brand name for such an orderly game.

We usually cut our own hair but occasionally we go to someone or they come here. We had arranged to have our friends’ daughter trim our hair tonight, before we leave for the Camino, and at the last minute she told us she wasn’t going to able to because her son had a bad cold. That was fine with us because we didn’t have to miss yoga.

Jeffery puts a lot of work into his classes. There is a natural flow to the class and the two hours fly by. He tells stories, in pieces between the durations of the poses and he effortlessly leaves the story to have us reposition before continuing. A woman in our class lived next door to Louise Slaughter and she and Jeffery went to Louise’s memorial service at the Eastman. The Clintons were there along with Nancy Pelosi and John Lewis. Jeffery was really moved by the service and eulogies. Apparently it was a real celebration of a life lived to the fullest.

Margaret Explosion plays one more Wednesday in March at the Little Theatre Café, 7-9pm. Here’s “Jack In The Box,” the first song from last week’s show, with Pete LaBonne on piano.

Margaret Explosion - Jack In The Box
Margaret Explosion – Jack In The Box


Monday, March 19th, 2018

Joe Daley Trio performing live at the Bop Shop

Joe Daley introduced his trio last night and then revealed their game plan. “What we do is we converse with one another for about an hour or so and you get to listen in.” The set began with an extended vibes intro by Warren Smith. He played vibes on Van Morrison’s “Astral Weeks” and hundreds of other records. Joe Daley joined on keyboard and Scott Robinson joined the conversation in with a deep, soulful baritone sax part. Warren Smith moved to Timpani. He is on the road with two kettledrums and they sounded so good. He is in his eighties now and he told me he fell in love with the instrument in school and he used to sneak into the band room to play them. I told him I loved the way they sounded in Sun Ra’s band and he told me he played with Sun Ra for a few dates in New York.

The prettiest piece they played featured Joe Daley on drone flute, an wooden instrument with three shafts, the outside two just playing one note each while the melody (in A minor) is played on the middle one. Scott Robinson played another wooden flute and Warren Smith played the drum kit with his hands. Joe said they always finish with a memorial piece and the one he played last night was dedicated to his late wife, Naomi. They were married for forty five years and she passed away just as they retired two years ago. It was mournful, sad and beautiful.


Monday, February 19th, 2018

Johnny O'Neal at the Penthouse in downtown Rochester

Leon “Ndugu” Chancler recently died. He played drums with Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Weather Report and Hugh Masekela but also did some serious session work. That’s him playing the drums on the intro to Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” I really like this quote from his NYT obituary. “The player has to do much more listening than the listener coming to enjoy the music and if that player is doing that listening, he will become a great player.”

We heard Johnny O’Neil over the weekend up in the old corporate boardroom of Security Trust Bank. The eleventh floor space is surrounded by glass and you get a great view of downtown Rochester. It sounds good in there as well. Johnny O’Neil made a name for himself in New York in the early 1980s, drawing comparisons to classic jazz pianists like Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson. We had heard him before in an Exodus to Jazz series at Hochstein.

He plays piano in a trio setting. The bass player and drummer stay out of the way while Johnny works the room. He’s at home with the blues and sings about every other song. “She puts whiskey in her coffee, whiskey in her tea. Whiskey in her whiskey, too much whiskey for me.”


Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

Three trees on Lake Road in Webster

From “Leave the Driving” on the lp, “Greendale”
“The moral of this story
Is try not to get too old
The more time you spend on earth
The more you see unfold”

Maybe you already knew this but I just found out. Neil Young is giving away the store for a few months. Everything in his archives is available for streaming in a high quality format. You can really tell the difference. Pick your favorite song or album and give it a spin.

We started with “On The Beach” and then “Greendale.” Both sounded better than ever. We ran into a little hitch with “Landing on Water.” The timeline he provides is really cool as well. You can see how he would often record songs and then use them at a later date. He is a non-linear guy.

We walked down to the lake, across the seasonal bridge on to Lake Road and then up Bay Road where we cut back into the new homes off Dewitt Road that hover over the bay on the Webster side. It was a little over eleven miles by the time we got back. A few more pokes into Webster and we will be ready to keep going around the bay and back.

Long Live Joywave

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018


I think we first heard about Joywave from our tax preparer. The receptionist in his office was the mother of one of the band members. There are so many cool things about this band. The lead singer, Daniel Armbruster, for starters. A beautiful voice and so much fun to watch. Their website! When was the last time you had fun at a website? Back in the early web days for me.

There is the fact that they talk up Rochester every chance they get. They were cool as hell as “The Hoodies” right out of high school. Check them out restocking the shelves with their cd at a Rochester Best Buy. The coolest thing about them is they keep getting better. Most bands go in the other direction. Check out “It’s a Trip” from their new cd, “Content.” And with their incredible success they have released their own virtual currency #joycoin.

And then there is two striking similarities to a band I was in the early eighties. Joywave had their new album release party in the old revolving restaurant, the flying saucer like room that tops the old First Federal Bank. We wanted to go to that gig but tickets sold out way too fast. In 1983 we booked the Top of the Plaza for our first record release party. Joywave played the Planetarium and Personal Effects played there for three months in the mid eighties and recorded the soundtrack as our last album.