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
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
March 11, 2017 - 12:39 p.m.
I'm going to try and write this before I have coffee. It might not work. The earlier I write the more people read it, that's my motivation to write first. It's Saturday morning and my new tradition is to listen to John Platt's Sunday Supper from the previous week on the WFUV archives then. I'm an 1:18 into the show and so far, it's been one of his best. He's playing "Round Midnight" by Miles Davis now! I never heard it before. I didn't know what it was, just that it's fantastic.
Speaking of fantastic music, I heard some last night. Like that seamless segue? "Seamless Segue" is a great album title. It's yours free of charge, I just want a credit on the liner notes. I headed down south to the most distant venue I frequent, Jalopy on the border of Cobble Hill and Red Hook. It takes me two hours to get there but it is worth it; they have so many great bills. This one was the Miles of Music Brooklyn House Camp Instructors showcase. Miles of Music is the brainchild of Kristin Andeassen and Laura Cortese. There are three branches of it, The Island Camp, Brooklyn House Camp, and Boston House Camp. The island is not Long or City, it's an island in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire. The Island Camp is a week, the House Camps a long weekend. It's for professionals and the rankest amateurs. You take classes with great musicians and work on a variety of skills; instrumental, vocal, songwriting, and dance. Most of the audience is campers and I often meet others at the House of Love. They all rave a about how great and transformative it is. Next year I'll go to the Full Brooklyn House Camp. I might go for the second half today. It was a late night last night and it is a long trip down there and I'm heading to Brooklyn again tomorrow so I have a feeling I won't.
Laura and Kristin led off the show playing songs solo and together. I thought I'd seen Laura before but I did a search of my Wise Madness and I haven't. That explains why I didn't remember her. She fiddles, she sings, and I don't think I've heard anyone fiddle as well while they sing before. There are lots of great fiddlers that sing but usually they do simple fiddling while other instrumentalist take the lead while they sing. They go all out fiddling when they aren't singing. Laura fiddles and sings simultaneously and is great at both.
I've written about Kristin precisely a 62.37 times so I won't go into detail now. She had new songs, that's exciting. I knew she's working on a new album. Her last one was released two years ago, yesterday. I saw her exactly two years apart. Tell the people what I win. Absolutely nothing. That sounds right. One of the new songs had the hypnotic quality of her last album, Gondolier, another was totally different. That's one reason I love Kristin. I will love her even more if she puts "11 Wolverines" on the next album. Or was it 7 Wolverines? 5? I know it was an odd number. It's pure Dada and the greatest song ever written.
The next act was Anna & Elizabeth.. They are one of my projects; everyone I know needs to know them. They play very traditional music, true folk songs. The musical style is very sparse, you might think it was a field recording from a century ago. Yet they somehow put enough of a twist on it to make it modern. Listening to them is not enough, you have to see them, they are as much performance artists as musicians. They usually do shows with a cranky with art they do themselves. Is it just Elizabeth that does the art? Crankies are old form of entertainment from before the electric era. It's a light box, with pictures on a scroll that is cranked, that illustrate the song they sing or the story they tell. The cranky is he first thing that people will mention when discussing it; last night they didn't bring the cranky. They are not a novelty act. They still performed with their look and movements. It's dance but that will give you the wrong idea, it's slow and gracious.
The final act was SamiR LanGus. He and his band are from Morocco and play Gnawa music. The Gnawa are a Moroccan ethnic group made of immigrants from all over sub-Saharan Africa. It's like we call people from all over the Americas Latinos even though they have separate origins. It's dance music and specifically trance music. I clearly do not know what trance music means. I think of it as something they play at raves with lots of electronica. They were like super heroes. They came into Jalopy looking like three typical guys from Brooklyn; sure, they had accents but half the people in Brooklyn do. They went to the green room before their set and came out in full Gnawa finery. I want to wear their outfits to Falcon Ridge. SamiR plays the sentir, a three-string base instrument that is one of the forbearers of the banjo. The other two either clapped or played a cross between cymbals and castanets. They were great and the crowd loved them. There was not a lot of variety so I'd prefer them in a shorter set or at a dance. That makes sense, it's dance music. Watching Anna dance to it was one of the best parts.
I didn't dance. I was busy manning the merch. I should have danced at least some. I love square dancing. The band rocked and Kristin is a great caller. Oh, well, next year I will.
Doors were at 8:00 and I got there at 7:30. I set up the merch and hung out with Kristin and Janelle, the bartender. Kari came in before doors with her six-year old daughter Kari is a psychiatrist/fiddler. She doesn't shrink your head while fiddling. I love her daughter. I've see her before but she doesn't know me. That didn't stop her from coming up to me and asking me about the instruments on the wall. Jalopy is a safe space and she knows it. Music people are her people. Her new obsession is the game Uno. I used to play that. When she said "I want to play Uno" I stepped in and played with her. Kids and dogs like me. That means I'm a good person. I like kids and dogs too. They are my refuge when feeling socially awkward. After we played a game her daughter said, "I want to play with mommy now!" Kari was sitting next to me and I told her that she was up. She was saved by the Steph. Stephanie walked in then and is clearly one of the kid's favorites and she played Uno with her. I was not crushed that she preferred Stephanie to me. I prefer Stephanie to me too. There was a guy there, Thomas. We both knew we knew each other and it took us a while to figure it out. We met at the House of Love and we both remembered that we had a deep great conversation, neither of us remembered what it was about. He is my people.
Now it's late. I will post this fast then eat. I picked up a middle-eastern flatbread at Trader Joe's. I'll tell you how it is. Stop the presses; The greatest song ever written is "Thirteen Wolverines." With Logan playing in the theaters Kristin needs to release that. I'm pretty sure she won't be checking Facebook during the camp so it will be too late for her to take my suggestion and use it during the songwriting workshop.
Only Four and a Half Months Till Utopia - March 17, 2017
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