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
February 10, 2017 - 3:38 p.m.
I woke up yesterday and couldn't see Hart Island, right across the channel from my window; that's a snowstorm. Today I'm in the same spot and it's a beautiful. Does it change your feelings about this if I tell you that Hart Island is New York's potter's field, the place the bury the destitute?
I had plans last night to go to Rockwood Music Hall. I checked to see if the show was canceled and it wasn't. It's hard enough to get off City Island under the best of conditions, it's harder in the snow. I must take a bus over the one bridge and then get on an elevated train. To make things even more fun there were no express trains running because of the cold. I knew there was a good reason for that but couldn't remember it. Now I do, can you figure it out? It's because they don't leave the trains in the outdoor yards when it gets too cold as they can be damaged so they store them in the tunnels on the express tracks. That's clever. I don't remember them doing that till recently.
I decided that I probably wouldn't go. I was mentally set on not going. Then around sunset I looked outside and the sky was clear and I had a beautiful view of Hart Island. Too bad I was too lazy to get up and take a picture till it was too late. By then it was 45 minutes till I had to leave so I quickly made a fast dinner, jalapeño and cheddar sausages and hash browns. Those sausages are epically good.
I was still in a hard to get myself moving mind set, what motivated me? Seeing Emily Mure and Neha. I met Emily at NERFA but never saw her do a set, not even at guerilla showcase. Last week she accompanied Joe Crookston and did one song of her own. I liked what I saw. I had decided to go to the show before that. She's one of those people that I meet at NERFA and take a liking to and want to see under the theory that if they are interesting to talk to that their music is more likely to be interesting than most. It's a gestalt judgement and not always correct. A common critique of mine is that people's songs are not as interesting as they are. I can't ever tell anyone that but I'm sometimes tempted to. I was thinking about that today when I saw the person post on Facebook. Part of me wants to say, "You are filled with ideas but your songs are pedestrian. Write songs that let those ideas out!" But nobody asked me and it's half compliment and half insult. It would make the person sad. I don't want to make anyone unhappy or insecure. Well anyone that is not in the current administration.
Even though I knew nothing about Neha I was optimistic enough to get myself moving and out of the house, … just two minutes later than I had to, to catch the bus. Ugh. It was 20° and it felt like 11°. That's not a negative to me. I got to appreciate my warm clothing. I was nice and toasty waiting for the next bus. Thermal socks, silk-weight long underwear, and a good hat are the key. Most people know to wear layers. Oh, and my hunting mittens! I love those. The fingers come off so you can use your phone and reach for things in your pocket like your wallet with your MetroCard.
The buses run every 15 minutes so it just meant I'd be less early. I wanted to arrive around 8:00 for the 8:30 show as I was doing merch and wanted time for Emily and Neha to get me up to speed.
Then can a series of unfortunate events. The leaves every 10 minutes at that hour. When I got there, it was a 10-minute wait to the next train. I didn't see it but I just missed one. that's 25 minutes killed so far waiting for the bus then the train. Again, I was grateful for the warm clothing. It was when I got to 125th street I switched to the express . They weren't using its tracks for storage during rush hour. That was great till the trained took a long time just sitting at the 86th street station. Then when it got to 59th street it waited even longer. Finally they made an announcement, there was an investigation at Wall Street causing heavy delays on the and . One guy said loudly, "That's all the way downtown, why are we delayed? F___ing MTA." It didn't quite get the concept that the trains don't just disappear when they get to Wall Street. The announcement said nothing about the so I ran downstairs to the local and caught it with just a one minute wait. I sent a message to Emily that I was on my way but would be late. Then I wasn't. Things went so smoothly from there that I got there at 8:25 and as things often run late at Rockwood that was before doors opened. I will ashamedly admit that I enjoy that I can just walk in without anyone checking to see if I'm on the list.
Emily was hiding in the corner up front where it's dark and hard to see. I asked if she was hiding there and she came out of the shadows and gave me the 411 on the merch. Then I was introduced to Neha who did the same. Instead of having it on a table upstairs it was at the back of Stage 3 by the door. I recommend that to anyone selling merch especially if there is not an act following where they kick you out fast.
Because of the weather, I was afraid no one might show up. It wasn't a full house but a healthy number braved the cold and snow.
Neha was up first. I had no idea what to expect. She did her first song on the uke with Emily Harmonizing, then she moved to the piano, her primary instrument. I didn't know what to expect and now I don't know how to describe her. These are the times that I wish I had more knowledge about music. I'd love to say things like, "I like how she used that G7dim where you'd expect a CM." I know what those terms mean but I don't know if the sentence has meaning. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I don't want to fake it.
I can start with her voice. Is she a deep mezzo? A high alto? A mezzo with a lot of bottom? I don't know. The range and timbre reminded me of Madeleine Peyroux. Those are the terms I can speak in. I think of it as velvety. I don't have synesthesia but I often find myself describing sounds like I do. It's a type of voice I associate with jazz singers and many of her songs were jazz. I could hear Madeleine Peyroux singing many of them. Others were reminiscent of Edith Piaf. That's not too surprising as when she sang The French Man, she said it was from her French period and that she was still in her French period. She was joined by a harmony singer, Katie Seiler on many of her songs. I often write about how harmony singers sometimes come in before or after the lead. Katie on one song was perhaps a full beat behind. That often, created dissonance. You don't see many arrangers do that. This was not pop music. I loved it.
Then came Emily. I can see her biting her nails. After my discourse on musicians I want to give advice to, did I mean her? Am I now stretching out the torture in sadistic glee? No, I'm just being dramatic. I shall now read the verdict.
We the blogger find the musician's songs … … … as interesting as she is!Order in the court. If you can't keep quiet I will be forced to clear the courtroom. Oh, and Trump's travel ban is illegal.
I'm going to start with Emily's voice because I noticed something that I can't explain and I'm hoping she or one of My Gentle Readers can. Her singing often reminded me of the Roches. The thing is when we think the Roches the sound is defined by the harmonies while she was for the most part singing by herself. On the one song where Neha sang it close harmony it was more pronounced but even singing solo she sounded like the Roches. She sounded more like the Roches than Terre or Suzzy singing solo. I suspect it has to do with how she sings sustained syllables; she will slide from one note to a much higher one. I learned just enough music while taking accordion and viola lessons and college music appreciation classes to know how much I want to know more.
She wrote a song about camp. Not camp as a kid but an adult music camp where she became friends with Naha. I wondered if it was Miles of Music. It was! I like being right. I know it because Kristin Andeassen is one of the co-founders. If you have a love of making music you should go. You can be as great a musician as Emily or Neha or beginner that wants to learn more. If I could play anything and had the money, I'd be there. If I had the money I might go just for songwriting.
Many of Emily's songs are deeply personal. That sounds like the kind of self-indulgent music I don't like but it's not. She doesn’t say, "my heart is broken and I'm so sensitive nobody has ever felt this way but me." She does what I try to do hear, explore the feelings, seeing them from all sides. She has one song about anxiety! She's my people. It could have come from my therapist. It's about being kind to yourself. I take that to heart.
Most of what she sang was from a CD that she's working on now. There are two ways people can release songs, totally cold, never heard outside the studio until the release. The other way is to work on them live first till the artist learns what works and what doesn't work. I've had this discussion many times with musicians. I know as a listener I like to hear the songs live first. I can't wait for the new one to come out. Her most recent album, Odyssey is from 2013.
Until yesterday I'd have been listening to Emily and Neha's albums as I wrote but I've been working on the least distracting music to write to that I still love. I decided yesterday that it's chamber music. I'm going through Beethoven's Complete String Quartets. Yesterday it was Brahms string quartets, quintets, and sextets.
After the show, I sold CDs and hung out with Emily, Neha, and Emily's husband Dom. Who knew that I mentioned Dom to show off that I remember his name?
I thought this would be a short entry. I've written 1901 words. Time to put this to bed.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Caitlin? - February 15, 2017
Follow on Feedly