I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken

Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
-Bertrand Russell

What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell

December 01, 2014 - 12:12 p.m.

Small Craft Warning

I did not get my usual NERFA spike in readership in November. I had less readers than in October. There's always a decline in December. Can I buck that trend? Well actually can you buck it? If you are reading this you are helping.

Last night I went to see the Kennedys, Edward Rogers, and Don Piper do a songwriters in the round show at the Bowery Electric Map Room. I had seen them do something similar a few months ago. The Kennedys are celebrating making music together for 20 years by doing shows of all new songs. Pete and Maura have three new albums coming out in the spring, a duo album and they each have a solo album too. Have I mentioned that I love them?

I got there a bit later than I wanted to and there were no seats. But that wasn't too bad as the room is oddly designed and you can't see well from the seats. I stood next to the one well situated stool which was occupied by a lovely woman who I thought was a bit forward. She asked me to take a picture of The Kennedys after she moved the mic stands for a better photo. I took it of course but I'd have never had the nerve to move the mics. Here are the pics.

Which do you like better the unnatural color, Maura as Elphaba, or the black & white? I like giving both. I thought it was too dark to get pictures of the others but then I remembered to put the camera in low light mode. I wish I had a real camera.


Ed and Don


Everybody

Even though I see them all the time Pete and Maura only did one song between them that I had, Williamsburg Bridge. Pete's project is reviving a song cycle aobut New York that he recorded maybe 5 years ago. I know I heard him do the entire thing at Banjo Jim's. That is on it. the other song he did from it is new. Maura did three new songs one of which is a great Christmas song, Beneath the Mistletoe. As I was listening I was wondering if it was an original or a classic from the 50s or early 60s that I didn't know. It had the feel of what I'd have heard when I was a kid. I was thinking perhaps Patsy Cline. But nope it was brand new. The album isn't coming out till spring and it is a holiday song so it's available as a single at CD Baby. You can also get it at iTunes, and Amazon. Those links will take you to the song. I bought the download card.

Ed Rogers was thrilled that he just opened for Ian Hunter. Listening to is songs you can hear why he got the gig. The man rocks. Don can write and play and sing too. It was a night of great music. The feel was like hanging out with musicians at their home. The entire evening was so informal.

There were two guest artist. Diane Gentile books Bowery Electric but she's also a singer and she did a song, a Mark Bolan cover. Do not ask me what song. I'm an idiot, You know that. Then remember that lovely forward woman I was standing next to? She did a song. It was Syd Straw. I saw Syd perform, I think at the Bottom Line. I knew Carey would get excited and jealous because not only is Syd a great musician but she worked with Michael Stipe, from REM perhaps Carey's favorite band, and she worked with Hoopoe aka Richard Thompson. But not only that but she was on Pete and Pete which Carey watched as a kid and we have talked about how everyone cool was on that show. Syd is a cultural touchstone. so I texted Carey a picture and said that I was standing next to Syd and didn't know who she was till she took the stage. As I hoped Carey texted me back; "Jealoooouuuuus!" I told Carey that I'd show Syd what she texted me and she said;

Tell her you are talking to a friend who is singing "Future 40s (String of Pearls)" as we speak.
Of course after the show that's exactly what I did. Good thing. Syd saw me texting and was annoyed. Of course she was annoyed. I hate when people text at shows. I don't usually do it except in that exact situation, letting someone, usually Carey, know what's going on because it related directly to her. The thing is that I know that Pete and Maura know that no matter what else I'm doing I'm paying attention to the music. All my friends know that. But I'm not friends with everyone I see. I have to be more circumspect in the future.

Here are some more pictures.


Ed


Don


Pete


Maura


Syd


Pete and Maura

Kennedys et al Map Room

I ran into Diane outside as I was leaving and stopped to talk to her for a bit. I asked her last name and pronounced Gentile like the world for someone that isn't Jewish. I said, it must have been gen-till-ee somewhere along the line. Of course it was which got us talking about Iim Gentile the baseball player which got her talking about her uncle Peter Gentile who was a minor league baseball player. As Erika knows telling me about relatives that played pro baseball will always catch my attention.

I was an idiot on the ride home. The was not running in Brooklyn so I took the to the . That might well be faster though the transfer is less convenient than from the to the . As I was crossing the Williamsburg Bridge afterthinking of Pete's song I started reading the NY Times and got lost in the reading. Next thing I know we are passing local stops. That's not good. After the bridge I get off at the second stop, Atlantic Avenue, and there are no missed local stops on the weekend. Yes I missed my stop. I had then wait 20 minutes for a return train and there were no express trains running back. It cost me nearly an hour.

Last night's show is a good starting point for discussing something I've been meaning to write about. It's a theme I've been touching on lately. Never lead describing an artist to me with how he or she has mastered the craft. Craft is important, don't get me wrong. Craft enhances the artistic vision. It's helps convey the vision from the artist to the audience. But it isn't the prime thing. I'm not going to stand in awe at a well crafter piece of furniture. There has to be a vision there to convey. Technique is a tool not the point of the art. It is where I'll part ways with some of my musician friends. They will admire someone's technique, playing singing, or writing, while I'm bored at the lack of content. I do get that. People work hard at developing the craft. And you appreciate them doing it well. But that's not why we listen to music or look at paintings.

Think about Van Gogh. He had pretty much no craft when he got started. What he had was raw vision. He could see things others couldn't and with no training, no practice even, he could get you to see it too. There's a word for that, genius. Van Gogh had genius.

There are many elements to be a successful singer/songwriter. I keep expanding my list. There's technical songwriting, musicianship, stage presence, vocal quality, and of course genius. If you have the last I can live with others not being great. Without genius I don't care how great the other elements are. I love Pete but nobody is going to say he has a great voice. But I'll enjoy his singing more than others with beautiful voices. It's not just that he's a great guitar player. It's that there's a there there. He gets me to see things I haven't seen before. Who else would see the parallels between crossing the River Jordan into the promised land and crossing the East River into Williamsburg? Last night I heard plenty of genius and it made me happy.

How did it get to be noon already? OK I have to post this. I need to stop at the bank before therapy. My debit card is not working. I know it has to do with me using it out of state and not realizing I didn't have enough money in it for the transaction. Just writing that sentence set off my anxiety terribly. I wrote it as part of my therapy.

OK. so now I will reward myself with brunch.





Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
Late to Bed and Late to Rise - September 30, 2017
On Your Feet or On Your Knees - September 29, 2017
Why Life Doesn't End on Closing Day - September 28, 2017
Anna and King of I Am - September 27, 2017



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Horvendile December 01, 2014
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