Archive for the ‘Field Recordings of the Future’ Category

Volunteers Of America

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

Marine Billboard near Record Archive in Rochester, New York

IMHO Jefferson Airplane peaked with “Crown of Creation” but they still had some magic when I saw them in the old football/then soccer stadium at Indiana University. My brother was in town, we had our drugs lined up and we sat on the lawn about a hundred feet from the stage. The draft lottery had not yet been instituted. We both had college deferments. Neither one of us were going to volunteer for Viet Nam duty.

Mountain opened with their cowbell thing. Loud as hell, so we had to clear out for a bit. The Airplane were touring with “Volunteers,” their followup to “Crown of Creation.” I heard Marty Balin was busted in his hotel room the night before so he didn’t perform. The sixties had turned its final corner. Nearly everything now had dark overtones. Which is what gave the seventies its edge.


Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Lions at entrance to subdivision Williamstown, Massachusetts

I recently advised my friend, John, to call Apple for advice on migrating from his old eMac to a new iMac. That recommendation was mostly for time-saving, selfish reasons but John has spent hours with his new friends at Apple and recently thanked us for the recommendation. He stopped by the other night to borrow an old operating system so he can reformat his old machine before putting it out to pasture and he wanted to bring a few things to our attention, things he had learned from hours spent in his “library.”

He had book-marked pages in the recent “Genius” issue of National Geographic and he read those passages aloud to us. “The aha moment, the flash of clarity that arises at unexpected times—in a dream, in the shower, on a walk—often emerges after a period of contemplation.” His experience in stewing over a problem has found this to be true. And, although I didn’t say anything, I have found the same. I’d spend hours knocking out logo designs under a deadline and then hop in the shower to have the winning entry reveal itself. So, us common folk can at least recognize the concept. There’s also an “Age and Achievement” graph in the issue that charts peak output of a dozen geniuses and makes it pretty clear that in most cases that point is around thirty or forty. But what about Philip Guston?

Next passage, read aloud, voice of John: “This may help explain the astounding performances of jazz pianist Keith Jarrett. Jarrett, who improvises concerts that last for as long as two hours. When he sits down in front of audiences, he purposefully pushes notes out of his mind, moving his hands to keys he had no intention of playing. ‘I’m bypassing the brain completely,’ he tells me. ‘I am being pulled by a force that I can only be thankful for.’ Jarrett specifically remembers one concert in Munich, where he felt as if he had disappeared into the high notes of the keyboard. His creative artistry, nurtured by decades of listening, learning, and practicing melodies, emerges when he is least in control. ‘It’s a vast space in which I trust there will be music,’ he says.”

Esperanza Spalding, a professor at Harvard University, where she teaches composition and performance, plans to record her next album in a 72 hour live stream. She tells students that in order to speak honestly in your own voice, you have to control the urge to plan everything out. “Only play in response to what you just played — and if you lose your focus, then only play in response to that. This helps them focus on a conversational flow, maintaining contact with the energy of the moment rather than wandering through some calculated narrative. They get in touch with what they already have going on. Which is a lot.”

“I foresee that creating before a live audience will add excitement and extra inspiration energy. Knowing someone is watching and listening to what you’re making seems to conjure up a sort of ‘can’t fail’ energy. The necessity to keep going because it’s live draws up another depth of creative facility that can’t be reached when you know you can try again tomorrow. Having such limited time to write and record 10 songs will also force us to rely on improvisation and first instinct. Not allowing us time to judge, second guess, question, or alter the initial hits of inspiration that drive the creation of each song.”

Long Live Suicide

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Kid jumping logs on bike at the end of our street in Rochester, New York

Are we really going to be going back down to New York for the fourth time before July is out? NYT had an article a couple of weeks ago about Alan Vega and his artwork. I really liked the portrait they pictured, one of his last paintings, and Invisible-Exports, a gallery on the Lower East Side, has a show on now of those portraits. The article mentioned that Jeffery Deitch will also have a show in his SoHo gallery “that will feature drawings and assemblages from Vega’s earliest days to his last, as well as a larger-than-life projection of Suicide in concert that, he promises, will make people “feel as if they’re there.”

I sent a link to the article to Duane and sure enough the live Suicide video is the footage that he and Howard Thompson shot in that same gallery (from a Suicide performance that took place in that same space if I am not mistaken.)

25 million posted “Dream Baby Dream” from the old Midnight Special show and it has crossed the one million views mark. Duane is, with approval from Vega’s wife, assembling the compilation video for Deitch. Let’s hope his footage is rendered in time for the opening.

We did get to see Suicide a few times and I know I’ve told this story before. But here goes. After their first album came out we drove down after work to hear them at Max’s on a Friday night. It was during the gas crunch and we were unable to find a gas station that was open. We finally ran out and spent the night in the car, parked in front of a gas tank in New Jersey. Let’s hope Trump doesn’t trigger something.

Happy Independence Day

Monday, July 3rd, 2017


Sunday, July 2nd, 2017

Pink earth art on filled in Inner Loop

I thought it was interesting that people pulled right out onto the filled-in Inner Loop to park for free last night. The city was packed for the last night of Jazz Fest. Tonight was for the backup musicians, David Bowie’s Blackstar band at Xerox and Bruno Mars backup band at one of the outdoor stages. I’ve kept track of the acts we’ve seen here and posted some notes below.

We started with the Donny McCaslin Group, a four piece, who sounded really great in the Xerox auditorium. The keyboard player has a big role in their sound and he had plenty of unusual sounds but his Mopho x4 was a little overbearing. And there was a little too much four-on-the-floor from the drums for my tastes. I really liked the sax player’s playing. Peggi talked to him after the gig about his EarthQuaker effects. The band’s new record is based on their experience working with David Bowie and they played an instrumental version of Bowie’s “Lazarus.” It was the best song they did.

The trio over at the Lutheran Church was led by the drummer. Gard Nilssen’s Acoustic Unity had a light airy sound but they played fast and furious. The drummer soloed with brushes. The sax player played tenor and soprano and both at once. The bass played reminded me of Charlie Haden. They played so well together it was quite amazing.

We stopped in Christ Church to hear a bit of Tessa Souter. I was glad to see Billy Drummond in the drum chair. Souter sounds like a really good lounge singer. I don’t mean that as any kind of slight. I would love to be stuck in a hotel bar somewhere or on a cruise ship and have the Spanish guitar, the double bass and Billy’s drums backing her chanteuse show. They weren’t serving drinks in the church though.

We ran into my brother the other night and he was disappointed because there was no band in front of the University Club. He comes down for the free stuff. He likes blues and he usually finds something he likes there. Tonight there was a band there and they were doing James Brown’s “Cold Sweat” when we walked by.

The guitar player in International Orange at the Little Theater was really great. He played all kinds of fingerpicking, slide and whammy bar stuff. He sounded a bit like one of those African Highlife players. I kind of wish he had a different band. The drummer was a little heavy handed and the electric piano just didn’t sound that good with the guitar. And the bass player certainly didn’t need two five string basses. They did a Pat Methany song and something off Keith Jarrett’s “Belonging” but the guitar player’s stuff was the best.

One To Go

Friday, June 30th, 2017

Mushroom on the front lawn

Day 8 of Jazz Fest. We are experiencing prime mushroom weather. I found this baby on our front lawn.

We stuck our head into the Wilder Room but the band sounded way too ordinary.

We caught Phil Marshall’s son, Roy, playing on the Gibb’s Street stage in an odd combo with kids and maybe a music teacher on bass. Roy sound like a million bucks.

Binker and Moses, a duo with sax and drums tore it up in Christ Church. They used the ambience here like street performers in a giant subway station. They reached for the sky like those Coltrane and Rashid Ali duos near the end of Coltrane’s life. But this wasn’t all they had. The next number reminded me of something a band would play in an early 60’s movie where the partygoers, drinks hoisted, would form a conga line and dance out of the living room. How old are these guys?

We only heard Bonarama long enough for Peggi to go to the bathroom and we were out of there. Horrendous, bombastic sound.

We tried Iris Bergcrantz Group at the Lutheran Church but no luck. Not much of a line-up tonight. We made an early night of it.

No Monk

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

New light sculpture at Memorial Art Gallery

4 By Monk By 4” started at 4 o’clock at the Lyric Theater. Four piano players were on the bill but only two pianos were on the stage. Cyrus Chestnut started alone and then Benny Green played one and then George Cables played a duo with Green. Kenny Barron played a duo with Cables and then a couple on his own. Then, of course, all four players, two on a piano, which made me think of the merry-ground music at Sea Breeze. George Cables was the most interesting.

Young Sun Nah did an Al Green song, a Joni Mitchell song and a Hendrix song all in a row. A pretty good set list of other people’s material. She has an odd manor, smiling during sad songs, an incredible voice but strangely detached from the material.

Phronesis was back, for the third time, at Christ Church. It is not the best venue for them. They have a frenetic sound and the cavernous church takes that edge off. The bass player and band leader is both the foundation and the lead instrument. The piano and drums decorate his playing. It is kind of unusual. No matter how flowery the piano player gets you are still drawn to the bass. And rhythmically the drummer never gets out front of the bass. Here I am trying to describe the band and the bass player just invited the crowd back to the second set by saying. “All different music. If you like weird rhythms, slightly dark, melancholic, Scandinavian music, by all means, come back”

Oskar Stenmaek NYC Quartet let their arrangements run and wander but they always landed with a lovely, mellow, folky, flugelhorn melody from Stenmaek. Despite their name the melodies were all old world.

Cello, djembe, tom tom, accordion and vocals from all four and even some throat singing. Dakha Brakha are from the Ukraine. We were standing next to Olga and Peggi asked her if this was pretty authentic Ukrainian music and she said it was but the music is usually sung by old women and there usually are no drums.

We finished the night over at the MAG where they unveiled their newest acquisition, the light sculpture above.

Full Monty

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Jesus freaks with a camera downtown Rochester, New York

Here I was taking a picture of these Jesus freaks downtown and I now see he had a small video camera pointed at me. My camera card has been acting up. While it was mounted on my computer I wasn’t able to rename photos on the card or drag unwanted photos to the trash. I reformatted the card in the camera and that fixed the issue but when I went to take a photo of Monty Alexander and Peggi out on the street this afternoon the camera read “No Card.” Re-inserting fixed that issue but Monty was gone.

Tommy Smith is an Scottish gentleman who plays a gorgeous tenor sax. I don’t mean his horn is particularly good looking. His tone is rich and warm and it sounded especially good in the round opera hall. He played solo at the Lyric Theater this afternoon and it was everything you would want from a jazz performance. Melodic, rhythmic and moving.

Back at Kilbourn for more Monty Alexander, this time in a trio setting. We sat next to Gap Mangione. Monty had the same bass player as when we last heard them here, someone who has been with him for thirty years or so. And I think the drummer was a former Eastman student because after the show he addressed John Beck, the former head of the percussion department, as “Mr. Beck.” With a rythmn section, Monty is grounded. And when he is grounded he is more astonishing, melodically and rhythmically, in equal measure. He is so musically gifted and has such fun with it all that it is pure joy to be a witness. Corny enough to quote the Flintstone theme mid song and get away with it. And he finished with a heart-wrenching version of “No Woman, No Cry.” Monty gets our vote (again) for Best of the Fest.

At the Lutheran Church we heard something other than jazz. Klabbesbank. Three horns up front playing arrangements on top of sequenced keyboard tracks. A guitar player and drummer played along.

Anthology was our last stop of the evening. Kind of amazing how loud this club is. There’s a whole second row of speakers in the back of the club just so you can’t possibly get away from the volume. Electric Kif is a little bit of everything, mostly over the top with it all. Too many gnarly keyboards for my taste and progressive with no ideas. The jazz fest slide show by the door was more interesting than the band.

Painting On Piano

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Little Black Chairs in Christ Church

Monty Alexander, playing solo piano at the Lyric Theater, introduced one of his songs, “Hurricane,” as his “painting on piano.”
Monty’s bout with pancreatic cancer seems to have slowed his manic pace a notch. He can still shift gears and quote so many songs you just wish he would milk what he brings to each one a little longer. So when he slowed things down to play a melancholy version of September Song he captivated the room and then brought the house down with “Sweet Georgia Brown.” He plays with a trio tomorrow at Kilbourn.

I have a slow meditative Steve Kuhn song in our iTunes library called “Trance” that I love. I meant to play it today before the show but it slipped my mind. Tonight he played a lot of standards. My favorite was “Stella By Starlight” Billy Drummond played drums and it was hard to take my eyes off him. He was the perfect foil/accompaniment to Kuhn’s fluid, rolling melodies. I know I have him on a few records at home.

About four songs into their first set Kendrick Scott Oracle announced that pianist Geri Allen had passed away. He had played with her as did Ornette Coleman and she played the festival here a few years back. Kendrick Scott dedicated a song to her and followed that up by playing along with a recorded montage of Obama’s speech on the black incarceration rate. Scott said he was “all about togetherness but you have to talk about it.”

Ole Mathisen Foating Points at the Lutheran Church was a four piece with sax, trumpet, piano and bass and their music was all notated. The sax player and leader even read from notes between songs. They played like a small mysterious orchestra and were very dreamy.

Vanishing Sun Band in the RGE tent were laying down a great, heavy, funk groove that could be heard a block away so we stopped in the RGE Fusion Tent for a beer but then the band dipped into fusion for some reason.

Dave O’Higgens Atlantic Bridge Quartet at Christ Church did just that. They bridged the Atlantic with an international band of proper jazz musicians. Clean cut jazz.

Mario Rom Interzone at the Little were just called Interzone last time we saw them. The Austrian band has so much youthful energy and such a love of jazz they are Infectious. Just when you think they are too young and too European to really swing they sound like Louie Armstrong in a Bourbon Street bar. And they are so very entertaining.

Make Out Machine

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

Michael Blake's Red Hook Soul performing at Xerox during the 2017 Rochester Jazz Fest

We stopped in to hear Michael Blakes’s Red Hook Soul on Sunday night but we only stayed for a few songs. The sound in the big tent is so oppressive. We had already decided to hear them at Xerox on Monday and they were so good we caught both the early and late shows. Every member of this band is a solid pro and the sound here was perfect. We sat in the front row for both sets and we had an incredible stereo mix of the two mostly rhythm guitars. Tony Scherr on the left had the crunch and Avi Bortnick the classic clean soulful scratch. Of course none of this would work without a way in the pocket bass player. The band plays vintage 70’s soul and Blake writes songs in that vein (“Make Out Machine”)for the band. He chooses the best and Michael calls out songs on stage. Last night they played a different Gladys Knight song in each set along with Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s “Volunteered Slavery” and Taj Mahall’s “Buy You a Chevrolet.”

Bill Frisell was at the first show with his wife, Carol d’Inverno, and his current bass player, Thomas Morgan. Margaret Explosion played the Mercer Gallery opening for Carol’s art show at MCC last year and we had her over for dinner. She told us they are in the process of moving to Brooklyn where she begins a residency next month.

En route to the Xerox hall we spotted Bernie Heveron, formerly of Personal Effects, playing bass with the Red, White and Blues band.

Ikonostasis at the Lutheran Church was the most avant-garde guard band of the festival so far and maybe my favorite. A trio with no bass player. This one worked, unlike the band we saw at the Little Theater last night. Kari Ikonen, the piano/synth player is the leader but I was sitting so close I could only get two players in the frame and the sax player, Ole Mathisen, and drummer, Ra-Kalam Bob Moses were far more interesting to look at. The band went from pretty to abstract to outer space and back. “What time is it?” asked Ikonen after an hour or so. “Just keep playing’ said someone in the crowd. And they did with a beautiful middle eastern piece that started like a call to prayer.

In The Burning Of The Republic

Monday, June 26th, 2017

View from inside the Golden Port Restaurant

I didn’t hear the Peruvian half of the Gabriel Alegria Afro-Peruvian Sextet but the Afro-jazz part was right on. The rhythm section, piano, bass and drums were all amazing players. The percussionist was rough and tumble and that’s where the magic was. The combination was beautiful.

When Eivor was in Rochester with Yggdrasil about thirteen years ago she bought an electric guitar at the House of Guitars. In fact she was playing that guitar at the Lutheran Church. She told the crowd she went back to the HOG today and bought another guitar, something from the sixties. She finger picked Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” on it tonight. Her lofty voice was perfectly suited to the church.

Hey, we know that Guy, chatting up the cigarette lady.

This young trio laying in the street sounded pretty damn good.

Derick Lucas from WGMC introduced the Neil Cowley Trio and told us we were in for “a life changing experience.” Well, not quite. More progressive rock than jazz with lots of unison parts they were melodic and a joy to listen to but I found myself exhausted before the set ended.

After securing our wrist bands for early entrance to Kilbourn Hall on Sunday night we took refuge in Golden Port where we split a Curried Vegetable dish. It rained twice while we were in there but the sun came out just as we left.

We spotted Bill Frisell and his bass player, Thomas Morgan, going in the side door of the Eastman for their soundcheck. We’ve heard Frisell everytime he’s been here and almost decided to skip this one but I’m glad we didn’t. We found front row seats and sat right next to Bob Martin and Ken Frank from Margaret Explosion. In this duo setting Frisell sounded better than ever. The musical exchanges between the two were intense. The minor key “Rambler'” an early song of Frisell’s, was my favorite.

Matthew Leonard from the D&C introduced the band at Harro East.

Shabaka & the Ancestors tore it up. They started with a chant and the “In the burning of the republic. . .” theme ran throughout their set. “We need you people. You need these hymns. Feminize the government. Feed our children. Black lives matter.” I assume the Ancestors are artists like The Last Poets and Sun Ra. Shabaka Hutchings certainly channelled Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax.

Red Hook Soul does classic, King Curtis style, r&b. Tenor sax player, Michael Blake, whose band, Blake Tartar was one of our favorite groups of the fest a few years back and was just in town performing at the Bop Shop, leads the band, a money making project for him. Bill Frisell’s long time bassist, Tony Scheer, plays guitar in this band. They play again tomorrow night at Xerox Auditorium.

Fred Costello was playing Bill Dogget’s “Honky Tonk” on the stage at Gibbs Street. His band sounded great and we couldn’t help thinking how his R&B sounded so much more authentic than Red Hook Soul. Could have just been the great Bill Dogget number.

Elliot Galvin Trio at Christ Church was contemplative and very pretty. Their spartan sound and delicate touch worked really well in this space. Not entirely ethereal, they even played an off kilter blues.

Like Jazz

Saturday, June 24th, 2017

Old brick building in downtown Rochester near Richmond Street

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 were doing a Stevie Wonder tune when we walked into Montage. They used to call this “frat rock.”

The leader of 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 see 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 were 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