I was reading a book by Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove and probably Texas’ best known living author. This book is called Walter Benjamin at the Dairy Queen, subtitled Reflections at Sixty and Beyond. I’m not sure who Walter Benjamin was, some kind of literary critic. But more to the point, McMurtry’s grandparents were land hungry Texas pioneers who lived a life characterized by hard work and perseverance… and the same was true of his father, a cowboy and small time rancher who worked his whole life fighting mesquite and prickly pear cactus. McMurtry said watching his father gave him the idea that work formed character… he spent all those years chopping back the mesquite and it kept growing back…working against impossible odds…it was a Quixotic thing. He said that the cowboy life…
Good Friday, April 6th, 8 PM
2850 1/2 W. Fullerton Avenue
Chicago Illinois 60647
April 7, 2007 6:00 PM
57th Street Books
1301 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
“I mean, it’s…so retro.” Browsing through a Rosanne Cash interview a couple of years ago this remark caught my attention. She was talking about a song on a new record she had coming out with the line “I would change for you,” a point she felt needed explaining. A modern woman, she seemed concerned about a testament to a love so strong she was willing to go against her very modernity. I wasn’t a big fan of Rosanne’s music—certainly not the worst among the sons and daughters of famous fathers—but her choice of words struck a chord: retro, a word indicating something backward or passé. I thought of retrospective, as in an art show looking back over a career; and retroactive, more like a legal term referring to the past or previous conditions; retrofit, as in installing new or modified parts to an older piece of equipment; and retrograde. I liked that one, going backward, or contrary to the usual order. Contraries were fearless warriors who rode their horses backwards. I suspected myself as being hopelessly, irretrievably retro, if not fearless.
Packing on the afternoon of the 17th we knew it would be a short night, with the alarm set for four, and I’m not sure we slept more than two or three hours before it went off. Wolfing down toast and coffee, we walked to the Bahnhof in a howling rain storm that turned Edith’s umbrella inside-out. We wouldn’t see daylight for another two hours. A conductor checked our tickets that read: Diessenhofen, Schaffhausen, Zürich, Basel, Paris. We were going as the crow flies. Another high-speed train called the TGV runs from Zürich to Bern, swinging way around to Geneva before heading north to Paris. They have a sleeping car you can take at night and arrive fresh in the morning. We were trying to save ourselves a hundred Francs. As it was we weren’t expecting to come home with a lot of money, especially after staying over an extra day and night. But it was Paris, after all, with all that the name implied. We wouldn’t mind changing trains, we said.
When I was in high school I saw the 1974 film by Werner Herzog called Jeder für sich und Gott gegen alle. In english that's Every Man for Himself and God Against All. The film deals with the fascinating, enigmatic life of Kaspar Hauser, a 19th century German foundling who turned up on the streets of Nuremberg, Germany in May of 1828.
The film is fascinating, dark, disturbing and hilarious, and for years my friends and I have refered to it in passing conversation. If Herzog's rendering is to be believed, Hauser posessed an accute common sense and a beguiling innocence.
Imagine my surprise, then, upon seeing the name of a band we were sharing a bill with last July - Kaspar Hauser. Aside from the fact that the venue and booking organization were beyond lame, KH were a blast to watch, and their new release QUIXOTIC/Taxidermy is terrific. They're playing a CD release show tomorrow night at The Hideout in Chicago.
The time to come to chennai is definately dec through jan - every night there is incredible music - you can't even go to the internet closet (not a cafe by any means) without seeing the most fantastic drumming on a small tv shoved into the corner of an already tiny space with 6 computer stalls...
i have been practicing/learning new scales like never before - ya need a bit of discipline to last at carnatic boot camp but i'm doing pretty well with it - these guys are really amazing - they are coming to nyc and touring the states in february - more details later - gotta say its a little exhausting at times - yesterday i was supposed to go to a concert - laid down for a minute - short nap at 7 pm and woke up at 1 am then practiced till 4am fell asleep until 6am woke up...
Okay old habits die hard - Like being a total dufus! Perhaps a hipster dufus but dufus none the less - When Krishna told me about "the ruby" he wasn't talking about a rock - It was a metaphor for his sweetheart - And she is very pretty - The other smooth move of the day was when I went to a local "High Class A-1 Vegetaerian" Cafe and sat at a table with a couple of technical engineers who took pity on me - I was having some sort of veggie dosai - eating with my right hand of course when they started to order more food - all sorts of great stuff - electric red cauliflower that made me eyes pop out - but DON'T DRINK THAT WATER MAN! - I was having a rough time tearing me pancake when unbeknownst to me the left hand lept off my lap to hold the thing down while I tore away - A look of mild disgust was mirrored back to me suddenly - Whoops! "Okay that one is yours," they said. In return for their kindness I thought I'd invite them back to the hotel and give them a couple CD's but they instantly balked - Who knows - all American serial killers must look alike to these guys - They said they'd see me around the cafe sometime - So back to the hotel for more practice of Carnatic scales - Slowly learning the Kalyani raga -C-D-E-F#-G-A-B- C' - It's not the notes that get me its the slide or the "gurry" [not to be confused with curry!] And of course going up is different than coming down [As any acid head from long ago will tell you] BTW the coffee is amazing - heavy on the milk and sugar but damn good rocket fuel - Helps while trying to keep up with these fantastic Carnatic percussionists - I've never been one for "fusion" ala Chick Corea's Return to Forever and Stan Clark is really somethin' but these guys have it going on on a profound level - woven into the DNA - the science behind the soul is astounding - Or is it the other way'round?
It's like that old enigma about cops - What do Indian men with mustaches (which seem to be most of them) call other Indian men without mustaches? Woke up having no clue what time it was - Watching pop videos ala Sharks and Jets on steroids - Fosse gave birth to a demon he never dreamed of - The girl/boy ritual dance video is alive and thriving/throbbing in the Sub Continent - Some tabla players have moved in upstairs which really enhances my mandolin practice! I should probably stop by after a couple days and see if they wanna jam - Their beat science is in perfect synch with the spinning fan above my head which kinda makes it sound phased like a Leslie - Have to keep practicing to keep up with Ganesh and Krishna - two phenomenal speed demons hammering out the calculations of Sub Continent Soul...
My time is spent working 16 hour DAYS just trying to keep up with all I am doing. At 75, my schedule is MORE INSANE (but more gratifying) than ever!!! I am here in Denver until June 3rd, as 'Visiting Distinguished Professor" (the University of Denver's description of me, not mine).
I have already been assigned to 22 different events (!!!) as well as appearing in classes and seminars for the Sociology department, Creative Writing, French Studies, Anthropology, American Studies, Drama and Film, Jewish Studies, and of course the Music School.
Texas-size career decision awaits Nicholas Tremulis
Published October 6, 2006
By most standards, Nicholas Tremulis has lived something of a charmed life. The Chicago-born singer has recorded with Keith Richards at the Rolling Stone guitarist's house, performed live with Rick Danko just days before the Band bassist's death in 1999 and organized a series of charity shows for Neon Street for Homeless Youth dubbed "The Waltz." The annual event, which took place at the Metro from 2000-'04, drew the likes of Billy Corgan, Alejandro Escovedo and Jeff Tweedy.
For more of this piece go here.
I was raised on matinees on Saturday afternoons
Looking up at Hoppy, Gene, and Roy, oh boy
I grew up a thinking the best a man could do
Was to be a rootin-tootin straight-shooting
Sharkforum's very own John Kruth will be working with Shark-in-absentia Alejandro Escovedo (as well as husband of Shark Kim Christoff) in Brooklyn this weekend. Greatness is anticipated...
From September 16 - October 20th John Kruth will be co-producing a series of great concerts for the Culture Project's Impact Festival with producer/promoter Danny Kapilian. The first concert will be tomorrow afternoon:
CITIZENS BY ANY OTHER NAME featuring DON BYRON (MUSIC FOR SIX MUSICIANS), SUZANNE VEGA, AND ALEJANDRO ESCOVEDO
Saturday, September 16, 2006, 4:00 pm
(gates open at 3:00 pm)
Free at Empire Fulton Ferry State Park at Brooklyn Bridge Park, Dumbo, Brooklyn (Water Street and Dock Street) This will be a free concert on the dramatic East River waterfront under the Brooklyn Bridge in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn (NOTE - in case of rain, the concert will be moved inside of the Tobacco Warehouse tent immediately next door in the Park, and will proceed in full).
I will let you know about future concerts which - 8PM, Saturday, October 7th - Protest:The Concert to Close Guantanimo at Town Hall with a great line up that includes:Angelique Kidjo, Tom Paxton, The Mammals, Rutha Harris, The Klezmatics, Marshall Crenshaw and the Urban Word Poets - more details to follow (Tix will be $25-65)
And the final concert will be Friday, October 20th at the fabulous Apollo Theatre in Harlem - Time for Change - A Tribute to Miles Davis (the line-up looks really great for this show as well, with Roy Hargrove, Gary Bartz, Badal Roy and many other greats of Miles' funk period - details to follow (Seats will be $25 -65)
Hope to see you at Dumbo tomorrow afternoon!
"Some say Mr. Olney is too literary: he writes songs about Barabbas, John Dillinger and John Barrymore, all in a dark, brooding style influenced by the Texas singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt. But if Mr. Olney's tight, powerful, empathetic and highly literate writing make him an outsider here, they're also what make him an insider in less commercial songwriting circles, with six albums recorded for the folk label Philo/Rounder all worth seeking out. One of the finest songwriters of his time, Van Zandt, who died two years ago, was once asked to name his favorite composers. He listed Mozart, Bob Dylan, Lightnin' Hopkins and David Olney."
- New York Times
A letter to my friend and former drummer (GK) whom I love.
...and a meditation on the vagueries of creativity and the devil's bargain and the constant confusion of love and inspiration...
Finally listened to your fine “Mobile” and I need to write, not because you need my opinion but because you took such obvious loving care making the record and some feedback seems like the very least you deserve. Also, your note – so carefully and humorously and intelligently worded, says in closing “I hope you like some of this.” Presumably this is because you know that experimental music sometimes leaves me unmoved. So, at some point we might have a lively debate about all of this. In the meantime, just this letter.
2011 North Ave.
Coupleskate, STAR, The Elevens, The Patent Clerks
Tuesday, June 6
8:30pm, 21+, $6
This show is part of Music with Meaning 7 which benefits Rape Victim Advocates and America's Second Harvest you can find out more about it at www.themachinemedia.com
Sharkforum's very own Andrea Bauer is in Coupleskate. Word is she's no relation to Jack. - ed.
Betty's Blue Star Lounge
1600 W. Grand Ave.
Greenlight, Banking Hours, Coupleskate
Thursday, May 25th 9pm, $5
Sharkforum's very own Andrea Bauer plays guitar and sings in Coupleskate. Word is she's no relation to Jack. - ed.
THE BOWERY POETRY CLUB PROUDLY PRESENTS:
JOHN KRUTH – “The Madman of the Mandolin” – SF Chronicle
DAVE DREIWITZ – The Face of the Bass
STEVE BEAR – Perplexing Percussion
With a Special Mystery Guest or 2!!
SATURDAY, MAY 27TH @ 8 PM - $8
THE BOWERY POETRY CLUB
308 BOWERY, NYC
(X the street from CBGB)
"Fruit Bats started out in the mid-nineties as Eric Johnson (not the virtuoso guitar player nor the Archers of Loaf guy) sat in his bedroom like so many other young people at that time and discovered the joys of the 4-track machine. He went on to form the short lived band I Rowboat, whose Velvet Underground-ish sounds managed to win no more than a small Chicago fanbase. One day Johnson and two other Rowboaters, guitarist Dan Strack and drummer Brian Belval decided to dip their collective toes in folk music. This side project was dubbed Fruit Bats, named after a type of large, flying, fruit-eating tropical mammal. Years later, after line-up shifts galore, many tours, and a deal with the fabled Sub Pop Recording Concern, Fruit Bats' sound has evolved and then un-evolved and then evolved back again. What was once weirdo folk tinkerings became cinematic pop which became something else."
Buy tix here.
Sharkforum's own John Kruth blows the doors off the Bowery Poetry Club:
In the face of rising oil prices, religious fanaticism and the threat of nuclear devastation
THE BOWERY POETRY CLUB PROUDLY PRESENTS:
JOHN KRUTH – mandolin, guitar, harmonica, voice
JOY ASKEW (Peter Gabriel, Laurie Anderson) – keyboards, voice
DAVE DREIWITZ (Ween) - bass
ANDY DEMOS – drums, tabla
IBRAHIM GONZALEZ (AKA the Mambo Dervish) - congas
SATURDAY, APRIL 29TH @ 8 PM - $8
THE BOWERY POETRY CLUB
308 BOWERY, NYC
(X the street from CBGB)
FUNKY, FOLKY, PSYCHEDELIC, SOUL
The Progressive Department at Atlantic Records was tucked away in a corner of the label headquarters in New York’s Rockefeller Center offices. Why they called it progressive, I’ll never be certain; there was no plan for progress. The bands were not well-known; The Subdudes, Map of the World, Lemonheads (before Mrs. Robinson). The department was there because indies were getting too popular. Just in case there was money to be made, the majors wanted to make sure they were the ones making it. When A&R rep Bettina Richards came to see Eleventh Dream Day for the first time at Cabaret Metro, she walked up to the dressing room moments after our guitarist Baird Figi had hurtled a folding chair down the stairs in disgust at what he thought was our worst gig ever. After sidestepping the chair she assured us in her inimitable affability that we were great and that no band was ever signed or not signed because of one gig. By January of 1990 we had remixed our Beet record at Fort Apache in Boston with Lou Giordano and were ready for our first major tour. When I first saw that classic green, white and orange Atlantic label with our name on it I felt as excited as I would have making my pitching debut with the Chicago Cubs. Led Zeppelin- Houses of the Holy and Eleventh Dream Day.
After another short night, and another drive to the airport at Kloten, we dropped Julie off… Sergio talked her into taking the Zimmerman accordion back to Nashville with her.
We played a trio gig at the Palazzo Mysanus in Samedan on the 29th, a ski town about as far to the southeast as you can go in Switzerland, and accessible this time of year only by a train ferry. It’s not always easy to play for the locals in a resort town, and this was one of those nights. We played for ourselves and at the end we won over a small crowd. Stopping once for coffee, and again when Hans-Ruedi pulled over to fish an apple out of the back, we returned the way we’d come, by Bregenz, around the southern shore of Lake Constance, on past St. Gallen to Frauenfeld where we made a final stop at the music store for strings and a new ‘G ’ harmonica. Heading home by the back roads, we had one night to get ready for Scotland and Netherlands. The phone rang while we were packing: it was my sister telling me our mother had died that morning in Dallas, about nine-thirty their time. Slipped away, she said. Counting ahead I figured we were somewhere close to home, about the time we stopped for the apple. I didn’t feel anything at the time, no kind of preternatural trans-oceanic signal to tell me she was gone. I thought about canceling, but it wasn’t only me involved; there were others, and plans long set in place. We had said goodbye in Dallas in January. Mom would have wanted us to finish the tour, I reasoned. I didn’t have to think about it for too long.
The new CDs arrived in time for our show at the Albisgüetli Country Festival in Zürich on March 15th where we opened for Albert Lee and Hogan’s Heros. One of the best bands I ever heard, these guys blew me away. You can hear world-class pickers any night in Nashville, ad hoc ensembles put together for the occasion. But watching a real band work is to observe a whole different class of animal, with precision and dynamics that come with years of playing together. Named after the steel player Paul Hogan—likely a joking reference to the television series— they go back over twenty years. Albert has played with Eric Clapton, the Everley Brothers, and Emmylou Harris. Just for starters. Sergio tells me Albert Lee’s influence on country guitar players has been major. I believe him. And keyboard Pete Wingfield… have mercy. Albert had his own piano on stage as well. The music was still ringing in my ears when we got back to the house about two. We stayed up ‘til four just winding down. Sergio and I smoked a fat one.
Having been invited to join the sharkforum I find myself suddenly bereft of imagination. I might have hoped for a bigger story just coming out of the chute; something with more splash and impact. But it’s the little things that count, as Sergio says, and that sounds good enough. I’m happy the little red Uno has found a home with a friendly young man and dog.
My first concert experience ever was Frank Zappa with Captain Beefheart at the International Amphitheater in Chicago in 1975. Row Forty on the floor. The amphitheater was originally used for livestock shows. Our dog raced there once. I was ecstatic. Zappa was previewing the upcoming Apostrophe record (remember Yellow Snow?). Luckily, there was the Bongo Fury live record to document that tour because the sound was atrocious. I’m pretty sure that was Zappa on the stage. The guy next to me (I didn’t know him) passed out with his head on my shoulder. The air smelled funny.
The other night a bunch of middle-aged musicians were sitting around drinking scotch and telling road (war) stories from their touring days. Here's mine:
We were lost and late for the sound check. There were four of us crammed into the van with all our equipment, driving around Virginia looking for the nightclub, when we pulled into a gas station to get directions. The woman at the cash register, a forty year old bottle blonde with Kool-Aid orange lipstick, insect green eyeliner and low-tar cigarette dangling from her lips clapped her hands together and said, “Okay, listen up boys ‘cause I’m only gonna tell you once! You pull outta here, hang a U-turn and take a right at the first traffic light. You go two more lights and take another right. You go down this hill and the road just keeps winding down and around and around. It’s like you’re goin’ through this tunnel and the trees have these long branches that hang down just like arms trying to grab you. But you just keep goin’ down and around and just when you think you’re lost, you’re not! You just pop out the Devil’s asshole and there you are!”
(Sharkforum's own John Kruth has played with more famous and brilliant musicians than you can shake a stick at. Lately he's been working with Peter Stampfel. Following is a review of their show last week with John Hammond - ed.)
Somehow suppressing my inner old-fart, which was telling me "stay home---it's a school night" I went out to see Peter and John at MAKOR (which I still don't know how to pronounce).
Ath-bhliain fe mhaise dhuit!!!!
i.e. HAPPY NEW YEARS (IN GAELIC)
NOW I AM GOING TO WORK ON,,,,SHPREKKIN' DE GUD ENGLISH!!!!
Below is my last weekend's schedule which started off the New Years off in sunny Tarpon Springs Florida, after shoveling snow here in the freezing hills of Putnam Valley, NY.
It was a wonderful concert, from Mozart and Bach to Scott Joplin and Duke Ellington. I hadn't been to Tarpon Springs since the winter of 1936-37 when I went to the first grade in Passagrille Florida, so seventy years later, it was nice to make a comeback!!!
Make A Rising: Semolina Pilchard's climbing up the Eiffel Tower once again, but this time the Walrus isn't Paul...
Okay, when was the last time you heard an album that combined elements and influences by the following: The Incredible String Band' Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, The Mothers of Invention's Burnt Weeny Sandwich, Beach Boys' Smiley Smile, Love's Forever Changes with sonic shards of Robert Wyatt, Eric Satie riding a bicycle with a flat tire and something that sounds like Harry Partch shaking up a can of spray paint then suddenly smashing Mr. Satie's bike to bits with a shovel which kinda creates music to a French movie I've never seen before.
Not literally, of course. (And not that there's anything wrong with that.) In today's Sun-Times Anders Smith Lindall offers up a steaming platter of home-town goodness: Jay Ryan of The Bird Machine. Ryan's burgeoning cottage industry designs and prints brilliant original pieces for cd covers and concert posters.