Posts Tagged ‘Phil Marshall’

Pure Creation

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Paul Dodd "Models From Crime Page" paintings from 2008 getting sun at the pool in 2017

Peggi is practicing sax upstairs while I work on a painting in my studio. There has hardly been time to come up for air since I found out about this show last winter. I suppose I could have just just put work in from the past. Bleu, the gallery curator, wanted to show the scope of this project, the “Models from Crime Page.” I’ve been revisiting it for over twenty years now. But as he was pushing me to show examples of the earliest pieces I could only think about doing something new. So the summer flew by and I’m still banging away, but not on my drums. I haven’t touched those since June. Not that I have any chops to lose but I don’t like cramping up after the first hour. Margaret Explosion is back at the Little on Wednesdays in October and we will be joined by the great Phil Marshall.

I haven’t been listening to music while I paint. It is too distracting. But the sound of Peggi’s sax, as she plays along with Margaret Explosion recordings and melodies that she originated the when those songs were recorded is very inspiring. I can barley hear the backing tracks over the dehumidifier but her lines come through perfectly. From my vantage point it is extraordinary, the way Peggi pulls these melodies from the air. An act of pure creation. She is my favorite artist. I can always tell when she’s winding down because the last few play-alongs are from John Coltrane’s “Ballads.”

I took a bunch of paintings from 2008 down to the pool so they could sit in he sun. A funny thing happens to white oil pigment when it sits in a box for a few years but a few hours in the sun bleaches that yellowish tint.

Margaret Explosion - High Life

Margaret Explosion – High Life


Sunday, January 24th, 2016

Box  of teeth from Leo's house

The most efficient way to to store stuff is digitally. After that there is flat filing cabinets. I put my father’s old cabinet in my studio and that set off a chain reaction of purging to make space for the new. Out with a pile of paintings and older work, sifting through piles of junk and then into the closets where we found boxes of 4D Advertising samples. All to the trash. Now, what about this box of teeth molds that our former neighbor, Leo, an orthodontist who often worked out of his house, left in his basement when he passed? I took a photo and thought about Leo.

Phil Marshall has a rubber soul. We are friends and have played together but I was not aware of his Beatle affinity. We recently donated to his Indiegogo CD project. Our level entitles us to have Phil as a guest on a podcast. Our promo copy of the cd arrived in two versions, “Scatterbed,” fleshed out tracks with guest musicians, and “Scatterbed Sleeper,” basic tracks of guitar and voice performed simultaneously, described as “the album in its rawest and most immediate form.” Both are produced by Chris Zajkowski and they sound fantastic.

While in hospice my dad occupied a scatterbed at St. John’s. He filled an open bed on the fifth floor next door to long-time nursing home residents, wanderers and people who talk non-stop in non-sequiturs. This was David Greenberger Duplex Planet territory. We intended to engage Phil to play music for my father while he was there, a few Johnny Mercer songs between the madness, but it never happened. Phil is a professional music therapist, what must be a heroic profession. “Scatterbed” arrived two weeks after my dad’s passing and Phil’s self described “reflection on loss, grief, faith and the lack thereof” resonated big time.

Our listening session began with “Sleeper,” the basic tracks. The first song, “Heaven is Waiting,” made me cry. As rich as Gershwin or Nilsson. The rhythm guitar in the next song, “Black Ice,” immediately called to mind Beefheart’s, “Harry Irene.” “In the final instant, Beyond all love and fear, Is there a perfect moment, When everything is clear?” “Faith,” which is inevitably called into play in the final hours meets a worthy opponent. “Faith, I doubt, is true, Faith, in love I do believe.” “Ebb And Flow’s” innocence echoes the Velvet Underground’s “After Hours” as it looks death in the eye. “Surrender it all to ebb and flow.” I’m quoting the lyrics here but, more importantly, Phil’s gorgeous melodies get under your skin and stay there.

Our session was interrupted so we started over the next day. “Sleeper” to “Scatterbed” full blown. I found myself thinking not only of my father but our painting teacher who also left a huge hole in the last few months back. We let a week go by and played the two in reverse order this time. “Sleeper” speaks more clearly, more directly and I am thankful to have a copy. For me the transition from “Sleeper” to “Scatterbed” could have gone more raw, more fragile and more vulnerable. But then our eighteen year old cat is in hospice.

Let It Snow

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Beige house with Let It Snow banner in the window Rochester, New York

We always have a January thaw but this is ridiculous. We finally get a few inches of sow and now it’s 50 degrees and sunny, too messy to walk or ski in the woods so we headed off toward the bay. This house with the “Let It Snow” banner in the window expressed our sentiments exactly.

My aunt is in hospice and my father was thinking it would be nice to get someone up there to play some music for her. Of course we suggested Phil Marshall, a music therapist and genuine top shelf musician. My aunt is going to suggest a few songs and I’m certain it will be great.

Years back we did a “My Funeral“print version of the Refrigerator I remember thinking about a few songs that I would like to her at my own funeral and of course that doesn’t make any sense at all because I will be in a little can at that point. Peggi Lee “Is That All There Is?”, George Jones “He Stopped Loving Her Today”, Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game”, Eric Dolphy’s “Serene or maybe James Brown’s “Night Train.” I’m pretty sure no one would want to hear the long version of Sun Ra’s “Space Is The Place.”

When my brother’s father in law died the funeral home had his body in a closed cassket and they wheeled him into a room where we were all sitting and they played Sinatra’s “My Way” over the little speakers mounted in the ceiling without any introduction or set up and it was a very strange experience. He was a lot more fun than that. So there are a lot details to work out if you want pull off something like this. It has to be done in a party atmosphere for starters.

Big Bottom

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Margaret Explosion with two bass players, Ken Frank and Brian Williams

Bob Martin emailed yesterday to say he had the flu and wouldn’t be able to play the Margaret Explosion Little gig. Jaffe, who was planning on playing piano with us, emailed next to say he had car problems and wouldn’t be able to make the gig either. We tried posting a FB message to Phil Marshall and calling Jack Schaefer but both of them were booked. Steve Piper was there celebrating his birthday and we asked him to join us but he didn’t have his guitar with him so we did the gig as a trio. We set up the recorder but somehow failed to record the first set. We are really helpless without Bob.

We managed to get the thing in record for the second set and Brian Williams from “Bobby Henrie & The Goners” joined us for a few songs on double bass. “Talk about mud flaps”.

Sound Of Tomorrow

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Sound of Tomorrow hosts Heather and Ross at the Mez in Rochester, NY

We joined the staff at WXXI for a last minute pizza party celebrating the airing of the final show of the second season of “Sound Stage”, their locally produced, Elliot Spitzer’s payola refund funded series of local band performances. The Chesterfield Kings were barely audible on the wall mounted flat panels but they looked great in front of their Marshall stacks even when they were playing acoustic guitars. This was a preview of Sunday’s seven o’clock airing, a glimpse of tomorrow with a band that sounds like yesterday.

While we were there we managed to talk Jan Marshall, Scott Reagan and Sue into following us over to the Mez for a live Valentine’s Day podcast from SOT. The Sound of Tomorrow’s theme song sounds suspiciously and appropriately close to the Mystery Science Theater theme song. Scott Bradley, the guy with the trumpet, played keyboards and anchor, Chris Zajkowski of the Squires of the Subterrain played drums. The two of these guys sound like a whole orchestra. They were joined by a surprisingly funny Miché Fambro on a few songs. Miché came into town in the eighties and left town in the nineties. In between he lived in Ithaca, the Berkeley of the East, “long enough to want slap an NRA sticker on my car”.

Hosts Ross Johnson and Heather Zajkowski, the Babe with the Power, sat in chairs on stage reading from notes but mostly creating and going with the flow. Del Rivers and his buddy did some stand up comedy and Heather belly danced with her posse. Phil Marshall, who wrote some of the music on the brand new, Who Sell Out styled, “Squires of the Subterrain – Adventures in Radio Land, TV Land and the Blogospere” cd, was no show due to illness but the evening was perfectly delightful like an old fashioned radio broadcast.

I visited the SOT site and got sucked in to a hilarious review of David Bowie’s Glass Spider tour. The show we heard last night must still be in production because it is not up on their site yet. That’s probably why they call it “The Sound of Tomorrow”.

James, the owner of the alcohol free club with the best sounding room in the city, gave up trying to sell the Mez on Craigslist and has decided to stick out.

For The Love Of God

Saturday, January 19th, 2008

Edith Small “Skull” After Damien HirstEdith Small skulls.

The one on the top is called “Skull” After Damien Hirst’s “For The Love Of God”. Bob Martin, our regular guitarist, was at a trade show in California so Phil Marshall from The Horse Lovers sat in with Margaret Explosion last night. The event, an art opening for the Edith Small retrospective, was really well attended.

We set up on a balcony overlooking the crowd and spotted Wendell Castle wandering around with his round glasses. It was a pretty swanky affair. Edith was a doll and her art is thoroughly enjoyable. We made the whole evening’s songs up on the spot and the crowd seemed to like it. Stephanie Aldersley asked us if we would like to play the upcoming opening at RoCo.