Archive for the ‘Field Recordings of the Future’ Category

Like Jazz

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Old brick building in downtown Rochester near Richmond Street

These thoughts may not make sense with out the photos.

We checked out the sound samples on the jazz fest app, looking for the stuff that sounded the most like jazz, and found a parking spot on Richmond Street. This trio was playing a party in the patio of the modern apartment with all the gee-gaws. They sounded pretty good.

The Huntertones met at Ohio State and got their start playing house shows. They doing a Stevie Wonder tune when we walked into Montage. They used to call this “frat rock.”

The leader or the Moscow Jazz Orchestra, the only one not wearing a red, white and blue striped tie, sounded fantastic on his own. His song, “Nostalgic,” was, slow, romantic, cinematic and bluesy. His tenor tone reminded us of Gato Barbieri.

After 21 years of continuously singing the good news of Jesus Christ, Tim Woodson & The Heirs Of Harmony, billed as “True Gospel psalmists,” sounded like a loud festival rock band. The singers all wore white and hadn’t taken the stage yet.

Yggdrasil, we have heard many times at the jazz fest but their sound has remained the same. They work in a folky, sometimes Bjork austere, sometimes Pink Floyd ponderous fairyland.

You can’t se the vocalist of this band playing in Spot coffee. He was more like a metal shouter. It looks like they might have cleared the place. We drawn to the barefooted guitarist. His heavy pschedelic sound was spilling out into the street.

Santo Smiles

Thursday, June 22nd, 2017

Deck at dusk after rain

I don’t think we have been to an opera since Peggi’s mom died. Maybe that Wagner, “Live from the Met,” broadcast that we saw at the mall was after she passed. I’d like to go to Glimmerglass this summer but we say that every year.

I have a ready-made opera in my head. It came to me in a flash this morning. We stopped by the Friendly Home where my mom spent the last year and half of her life. Someone else’s name was on my mom’s room. We caught up with the staff and I commented on how quiet the main room was and they told us there was a group in the sunroom so we headed down there.

Brandon, the former activities director, was promoted and I thought he was irreplaceable but I was wrong. A woman named Molly was in the center of a circle of residents. She was throwing a large ball with “Life is Good” on it to one person at a time. This must be one of the last skills to go because people who have lost all the rest can still catch and throw the ball.

Brandon was a genuine gentleman and so casual. The residents loved him because he never talked down to them. He was able to engage people who I thought had already checked out. But Molly one-upped Brandon.

She sings to the residents, not just songs but everything she says to them. “Here comes the ball, Tony.” She came over to us and said she had learned that music engages the whole mind where talking does not. She didn’t have to explain a thing. We were watching this play out. Philomena laughed and Santo smiled! The residents were so stimulated Molly had to call for help. Beverly and Nancy got out of their chairs. The opera was just getting going.

Musique Non Stop

Monday, June 12th, 2017

Michael Bates Trio wth Michael Blake at Bop Shop

It seems like just a week ago we were listening to David Murray and Kahil El Zabar playing in the Bop Shop performance space. And we were back there last night for the Michael Bates Trio. We catch Kahil every time he comes through town and he always has a band with players of the highest order. There has been so much music going on lately we probably would have skipped last night’s Michael Bates Trio but Michael Blake was in the band and we hadn’t heard him since 2008. The trio was fantastic and I’m so glad we didn’t stay home. Blake is for real, a great player with the finest influences making his own contribution in real time. He brings his funk band, Red Hook Soul, to the Jazz Fest this year and he is prepared to tear it up.

Drummer, Jeremy Clemons, was wearing a t-shirt that read, “POOF. Lead a Creative Life.” I’m down with that. We talked to him after the show about another of his gigs. He’s played with Burning Spear for the last three years.

Between those gigs we saw Chandler Travis Philharmonic at Little Theatre 1. Pete LaBonne has played with them and they do some of Pete’s songs. They came through for us this time, It was interesting to hear how their new drummer, Jerome Dupree, Morphine’s old drummer, takes Rikki Bates place. Funny how different the two feels are. And heard Annie Wells at her record release party, halfway around the world, out at the Lovin’ Cup. She sounded great. her delicate voice and a rock solid backup. She still brings the house down with Dave Ripton’s “Heroin and People.” Woody Dodge followed Annie and they are a real powerhouse of Americana. Bill Lambert writes songs that should be hits but I couldn’t take my eyes off their drummer, Sean Sullivan. Is he left handed playing a right handed set or is he just so fluid he can play any damn way he wants?

B. O. B.

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

Bob Martin close-up from Personal Effects "90 Days in the Planetarium"

At the end of every song last night the chanting started up. Maybe it was the three big, white, cardboard cut-out letters hanging over the piano like one of Calder’s mobiles. It was Bob’s last night with the band. He is moving to Chicago and we will miss him.

Peggi and I have played with Bob for a long time. He answered a call for a guitar player back in the early eighties. We had just disbanded Hi-Techs and were forming Personal Effects and he came down to our rehearsal space. It was scary how quickly he picked up on what we were trying to do. Scary like we were left wondering if he was too good for us.

We played together for five years, five albums or so, and then Bob moved to DC. When he returned we were playing in an early version of Margaret Explosion. He sat in with us at the Bug Jar and the next thing you know he was back in the band. We’ve been playing at the Little Theatre for fifteen years now. But nothing lasts forever.

Bob has developed an incredibly rich guitar palette. He will be irreplaceable and that is the mark of a true artist. That’s why the audience last night chanted “Bob, Bob, Bob.” I joined in.

Margaret Explosion - Bar Car

Margaret Explosion – Bar Car

Civilization Begins Tonight

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Photo for Margaret Explosion gate-fold cd "Civilization"

Not just another Wednesday night at the Little Café. We plan to project movies behind the band. That is, if we can locate the Little Theater’s screen. If we can’t, we’ll project the movies on the wall and the band. There’ll be a light show. Or maybe we’ll just turn the lights out and play in the dark. Wednesday, May 24 7-9pm. Free Admission. ALSO: Just announced! Special Guest Pete LaBonne will be joining the band tonight on the grand piano. Hope you can make it out.

Here’s Frank DeBlase’s review from City Paper
“Margaret Explosion seems to pull songs out of the air. No pre-planning; no script. The music plays them, and what’s left is a perfect in-the-moment moment for this purely live band playing songs we’ll never hear again. It is sexy and cool to the max. And just remember: “sensuous” wasn’t reserved just for the loins.

On “Civilization,” however, Margaret Explosion had a little studio fun. The basic tracks are still improvised, but they’re left open at one end to make room for another set of layers. There’s stereophonic panning so severe in spots you may fall out of your chair. And the guitar is prominent as the soprano sax snakes and undulates through. It’s trippy in the extreme. It’s darkness at the end of the tunnel. It’s heady, and it’s beautiful. Adding to the finality, the band has announced that guitarist Bob Martin is leaving the group and Rochester, for that matter. It’s quite a loss — ironic, really. It’s an end for a band that played songs with no end. “Civilization” is now that end.”

The Last CD Player

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Lamb on old gravestone in Irondequoit Cemetery

CDs are over. We just finished work on or new CD!

We’re doing it with Discmakers. They have templates in all the programs. We used Photoshop for the whole thing and uploaded pdfs. They sent us a proof the next day. They have an online app for loading the audio files, tagging them, writing a proof CD and then uploading to them. That last part didn’t go so smoothly for us. We’d get about half of the songs up and the program would give us an error. After trying all night we used Dropbox in the morning.

Proofing the CD was interesting. We stream our music from our iTunes library. We don’t have a CD player that displays song titles so I went across the street and asked the young couple if either of them had a cd player that displays the titles. Diana took me out to her car where she she had a CD player in the glove compartment, a player she had never used. It worked! The album title, band name and song titles came up as I advanced through the disc.

Since were unable to upload those files we had to write a new proof CD today. The young couple wasn’t home. Peggi went down to the neighbors at the end of the street. THey’re older than us. They gave Peggi the keys to their car but she couldn’t get it started. Something about push buttons. They came down and started it but the CD didn’t work. The neighbors tried some star bought CDs. One was by Enya. Nothing worked. The car was a year or so old and they had never used the CD player. They listen to stuff from their phone.

Peggi headed up the street to some neighbors who had just returned from Florida. Before she got there Rick drove by. He does a daily run to Wegman’s. He popped it in and the titles worked. We approved it and expect shipment in a few weeks.

Cooked Fish, Baked Pie

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Michael Hurley performing at the Bop Shop

“Undoubtedly one of this country’s greatest folk singers, Hurley has little in common with the majority of today’s folk performers. While they seem bent on demonstrating that all people are alike, such a suffocating presumption has no place in this man’s work. Michael Hurley is nothing like his potential audience. What better reason to hear what he has to say?”
– Chuck Cuminale

Chuck wrote music reviews for City newspaper, some of the finest, most succinct reviews I have ever read. Not a surprise, his lyrics for the Colorblind James Experience were pure poetry. He also booked shows for more than the Experience. Just before he died he was planning a dream double bill of Pete LaBonne and Michael Hurley at the old Grange Hall in Webster.

Chuck’s wife, his son, Paul, and former members of the Experience were at the Bop Shop tonight for the show. “Cooked fish, baked pie and Bingo on Wednesday nights.” Chuck would have loved it.


Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Saxes on stage for Ossia concert at Kilbourn Hall in Rochester, New York

Who goes to a concert dressed in white? Hundreds of kids were lined up outside the Armory on East Main as we drove by and ninety-five per cent of them were in white. I guessed it must be some sort of religious crusade but Peggi looked it up as I drove. It turns out it was the Rochester performance of Life in Color, “The World’s Largest Paint Party.” There is a dj, of course, paint is for sale and the kids are the canvas. Any more questions?

We were on our way to Ossia’s last concert of the season, something a few blocks but a whole world away. Each performance features five or six adventurous, modern compositions and there is always a knockout in there. My favorite this time was by Tristan Murail, a piece called “Ethers.” Two maraca players were stationed just off stage to the right and left and they shook throughout the piece. Murial has not merely composed the music but also the ambience within which it is perceived. The lead was played on flutes, the whole family of flutes, and he was accompanied by a string quartet and a trombone who function as the soloist’s distorting mirror. I was transported.

Photo Of The Drummer

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

Drummer in The Keelers at Firehouse Saloon

The bass player chair with Margaret Explosion is just one of Ken Frank’s gigs so we feel really lucky to have him. In addition to having a black belt in chess Ken plays bass with Annie Wells and recently finished production on her new cd, “Lonely Hearts Club.” It sounds like a million bucks. Phil Marshall wrote the music for the song below, a track from the new cd. Annie gave us a copy last night. Peggi did the artwork and it was the first we had seen of the finished product.

Annie was out at the Firehouse Saloon to hear another of Ken’s bands, Big Ditch. This band is a real powerhouse and the Firehouse Saloon is the perfect spot to hear them, a real rock and roll setting. Very few chairs in the back, mostly an empty dark room with a stage and great sound system. And the sound woman, who has been there for a year or so, is fantastic. Big Ditch’s main attraction are the twin guitars of Mark Cuminale and Jack Schaefer, flanking stage right and left. Standing between the two is heaven. The Keelers opened the show and sounded like 1978. I loved it and took a photo of the drummer.

Annie Wells - Johnny

Annie Wells – Johnny

Another Perfect Day

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Lake Ontario February 2017

We’ve been chipping away at a new album, cd or whatever you call it these days. Funny how a lot of it can be done via email, Dropbox and Google Drive. Never mind the fact that we never rehearse, we don’t even have to be in the same place at the same time to record. We started without songs and now they are so-called songs. But we don’t plan do ever do them again. The entire premise is very casual. It could fall apart in the blink of an eye.

Margaret Explosion – Rough mix of Big Bass Bounce

Ancient To The Future

Tuesday, February 21st, 2017

Corey Wilkes, Kahil El Zabar and Ernest Khabeer Dawkins of the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble at Louvin' Cup in Rochester, New York

Kahil El’Zabar has probably been here ten times or so and we have never missed a performance. He plays with his Ritual Trio and the Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and both those groups have had many different lineups. All of the players have been stellar.

He has been here with violinist Billy Bang and saxophonist David Murray from the World Saxophone Quartet a couple of times. On Sunday night he played with trumpet player Corey Wilkes, the guy who filled Roscoe Mitchell’s shoes in the Art Ensemble of Chicago. In fact, Kahil wrote “Great Black Music” for the Ensemble and when he introduced the song he said, “these guys can play the shit out of it. Ernest Khabeer Dawkins played baritone sax and he made it look like a toy.

Kahil has great respect for the music and communication power of his ancestors and he shares that spirit with you like you were a welcome member of the congregation. The next time he is here “I will see you in church.” My grandfather used to say that but I never saw him in church.

Queen of the Blues

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Debbie Kendricks Band with Pete Monacelli

Webster has grown so much since I went to high school out there that I hardly know my way around. Pete Monacelli told us about a gig he had at Salvatore’s, of all places, and said it was on Empire Boulevard. I figured I’d be able to find it with the map on my iPad but there is no Salvatore’s on Empire. It is on Bay Road right across from Danny Flaherty’s place, the former Earthtone’s Coffee. A full bar and dining room surrounded by tvs with sports on, it is the most unlikely place for a swinging, sophisticated blues band.

Vocalist Debbie Kendrick has all the laid back confidence in the world and she backs that up with a voice that commands your attention in the most understated manner. The material is top-shelf gospel-tinged, blues tunes like “John the Revelator.” She has the perfect band with Sean Pfeifer playing rythmic, percussive, acoustic fingerstyle guitar. Bassist, Mike Patric, is as solid as a rock and drummer Pete Monacelli swings like crazy on one drum, a snare, he massages with a pair of the most well seasoned, plastic brushes I have ever seen. This band in amazing.

Second Generation

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Joe Lewis Walker playing live at the Little Theater in Rochester, New York

A blues band doing a Beatles cover (“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”) with a Led Zeppelin beat fits right in with this upside-down world. Of course Trump defines that world and Alec Baldwin better get a whole lot better if wants to dent that machine. Joe Lewis Walker, performing in Little Theater number one, was a little muscular for my tastes. He hardly put his own stamp on the blues but he would have sounded great if we were in a roadhouse bar. Ironically if they had booked this band in a club no one would have there. As it was we were stuck in the dark, cushy seats starring at an unattractive band.

Joe Lewis had a distinctive, bright, steely guitar sound and his band included Larry Coryell’s son on second guitar. They did a gospel number called “Soldier For Jesus,” Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and Chuck Berry’s “Round n’ Round” with a touch of “Tequila” in there. And strangely, Coryell’s “Let’s Straighten It Out” was the bluesiest song of the night. He told a story of how Jimi Hendrix picked him up as a baby when he was back stage somewhere with his father. He got a song out of that experience, “I Was In The Room With Jimi” and they finished with a “beach hit, “Too Drunk To Drive Drunk.”

Dog Breath

Friday, January 13th, 2017

Cobbs Hill Reservoir in January

We subscribe to a music streaming service but rarely seem to use it. Today we changed that dynamic. I called up some “Systema Solar,” a Columbian party band that we had read something about, then the recently remastered with extras version of Uncle Meat, the 1969 Mothers album that was on the turntable when Dave Mahoney’s stereo was stolen from the little house we lived in that year. I still have the empty album cover. It was intensely memorable because we tripping on LSD and it was no micro-dose. The band was at their peak, I gave up on them after it, and “Dog Breath, in the Year of the Plague” sounded as good as it did back then.

To Rod

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Arpad and Peggi mixing Margaret Explosion tracks 2017

Margaret Explosion has a few months off but we’re not just twirling our thumbs, we’ve recorded tracks for a new album and we’re mixing them now with the great Arpad. We spent a couple hours with his one tonight orchestrating the entry of an ambient guitar track, a Farfisa track, the original guitar track and then the bass and drums. The outtro is orchestrated as well but I will spare you the details. The song doesn’t have a name. We improvised all the basic tracks and then assembled files that resembled songs with judicious editing. All this is 180 degrees from usual M O of live to two track mixes. In this one we pulled out the original upright bass and drum tracks and replaced both with a fretless bass, conga drum and shaker track and Peggi’s Farfisa. Bob added two additional guitar tracks and sent those to us via his Dropbox. The song has no name as yet but because we’ve been watching all the old Twilight Zones on Netflix we would like to dedicate it to Rod Serling.

Margaret Explosion – Rough mix of Bar Car

Disprortionate Endings

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Stephan Crump and Mary Halvorson of Secret Keeper at Bob Shop Records in Rochester, New York

Secret Keeper, Stephan Crump and Mary Halvorson’s duo is just amazing. Mary studied with and then performed with Anthony Braxton. She shares a mathematical approach to music making with hi but she is so wide open she is one of kind. She takes the guitar into unchartered territory and it is so refreshing. By chance her brand new octet album was voted “cd of the year” in the morning’s NYT. Stephan Crump is my favorite bass player. He’s been at theBop Shop withMary before and with his trio. He’s also played at Kilbourn with Vjay Iyer. With Secret Keeper on Sunday night he bowed his bass more often than plucked. And he started one song, a piece called “Planet,” scratching on the side of his bass while Mary Halverstand banged on the strings with her glass guitar slide. The song morphed into an extra-planetary walk. My favorite piece of the night was the mournful and beautiful “Disprortionate Endings.”

Tom really should do something about the small but nasty “No Public Restroom. Thank You” sign, visible in the enlargement this photo.

Big Night Out

Monday, December 5th, 2016

We’ve had tonight’s Ossia performance on our calendar for months but it just got bumped. Kahil El’Zabar’s Allstar Ritual Trio will performs at the Bop Shop with David Murray, a founder of the World Saxophone Quartet. Kahil has been here many times with both his Trio and his Ethnic Heritage Ensemble and we have seen every show. Tonight will be no exception. I took this video six years ago he played the Atrium in Village Gate.


Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Peggi doing Farfisa organ overdubs  with Arpad engineering

CD Baby offered a Black Friday special on album submissions. The 50% off deal was good until midnight last night even if your project wasn’t ready to submit. Ours is not. We had to come up with a name for the cd. We chose “Seventeen,” for the year, certainly not the sequential number of Margaret Explosion albums, and not so much for the age but maybe a little.

We got together six times in small groups, and played. The amazing Pete LaBonne was here for a couple of those days. Twelve things rose to the top. Bob, our guitar player, has yet to contribute parts to many of the songs. He hopes to have time over the Christmas break. In the meantime here is a rough mix (with no Bob guitar yet) of something that ha the working title of “BigBassBounce.”

Margaret Explosion – Rough mix of Big Bass Bounce

Gravitational Arch

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

Vapourspace as seen on poster in PBS "Soundbreaking" show, "Four on the Floor" episode , 45 minutes in.

Jim Jarmusch’s “Gimme Danger” is a pretty tame Stooges movie but it is still a must see if you are a fan. It sounded great in Little 1, the original and largest of their five screens, and the sound system in there is great. Jarmusch uses the Rich Stim playbook for animations constructed to illustrate Iggy’s stories and I like that. Funny to picture of Iggy, a Discount Records employee, playing drums in his parent’s trailer. And then kinda sad to see the band move back in with their parents after those first two brilliant albums.

We watched the “Soundbreaking” series on PBS. About 45 minutes into the “Four on the Floor” episode we spotted Vapourspace listed on a poster for the “See The Light” tour with Moby, Aphex Twin and Orbital. I texted Mark Gage to make sure he had seen it and he hadn’t. You can listen to Mark’s smash dancehall hit on this page.

Fly Into The Sun

Thursday, October 27th, 2016

Amy Rigby solo gig at Abilene in Rochester, New York

We packed up our gear as quickly as possible last night and headed across town to Abilene where Amy Rigby was doing a solo set. Game 2 of the World Series wasn’t enough of a conflict for Margaret Explosion, Amy was playing at the same time as Margaret Explosion. Rochester was the first stop on a tour celebrating the 20th anniversary of her “Diary of a Mod Housewife” cd with a first-time vinyl release. We were thrilled o find her still on stage, performing a new song, but it was the last song of her encore.

She did a booming business at the march table after the show and posed for photos with fans and then showed us one of the silk-screened towels that she and Eric made for the people who contributed to the campaign to fund her record. It was beautiful and we wanted one but we’ll have to wait until more are printed.

Rick Simpson has a weekly show on WRUR called “Gumbo Variations” and he plans his shows around musician’s birthdays or the anniversaries of their death. It has been three years since Lou Reed’s death and he he asked Peggi and I if we would put together a few sets of his music. We chose “Perfect Day”, “I Love You, Suzanne”, “Walk On The Wild Side”, “Last Great American Whale”, “Pale Blue Eyes” and “All Tomorrow’s Parties” from the Velvets period and then “Fly Into The Sun.”

I was a little leery about how the big 80’s drum sound in “I Love You, Suzanne” aged but Peggi lobbied hard for it. We’re listening to his show now.