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
September 09, 2016 - 10:16 a.m.
I usually start with an excuse but today I'll give an anti-excuse. I just took my meds so they have not had time to kick in yet so my head should be clearer than usual when I write. Of course I didn't get enough sleep so if this is not brilliant I'll blame it on that.
Yesterday I journeyed to Pete's Candy Store in Brooklyn to hear music. I used to walk there though it was a long walk, over an hour. Now it takes me longer than that to get there by public transit. It's not an easy trip so it has to be worth it. It was; I went to see Sam Reider and Cricket Tell the Weather. I left early enough to be able to get dinner in Williamsburg before the show. I don't go there early but if I'm seeing a show at Pete's and getting dinner in the area it will usually be at Crif Dogs. This is their second location; their original is in the East Village. I have been going to that one since it opened, before it became a thing. They make their own hot dogs and they are great. They also have many ways of serving them. I went for the breakfast dog, a hot dog wrapped in bacon with a fried egg and a slice of cheese. Yes, it's a riff on the sausage egg and cheese sandwich. You can also get it with Taylor ham instead of bacon. Damn, now I miss Taylor ham. I have to find a place to get it.
I got to Pete's not that long before show time but was the first one there. The place ended up filling up so much that there were people sitting on the floor. I'm ahead of the curve.
Sam is the accordionist from Silver City Bound formerly the Amigos formerly the Tres Amigos. This is his new solo project except that it's not solo, he has a band, fiddle, mandolin, stand-up bass, and guitar. His background is in jazz piano and somehow moved into Americana accordion. So what do these guys play? Great music. What genre? Much of it is what I call neo-trad and or "what people who don't know bluegrass call bluegrass." Silver City Bound is pretty broad ranging and this even more so. You can hear the jazz influence on many of the songs. One was Gypsy Jazz with Klezmer influence. Some reminded me of the refused to be bound by genre Raymond Scott. On a couple of songs Sam played a horizontal accordion which might have been a joke, it was a synthesizer of some sort. It made some otherworldly sounds along with more standard keyboard. The overall effect was that I was hearing something new, this was not music I've heard before and couldn't be by anyone else. I love that. For the most part it was instrumentals even though Sam's a strong singer. That's not what he's exploring on this project. How new is this material? They were recording it that afternoon. It was music that I had to close my eyes and pay attention to all the separate threads to fully appreciate. This is not the kind of music I share with most of my friends. I was going to say that I didn't know anyone in the audience but that's not quite true. To be accurate I'd say that nobody in the audience knew me; Sarah Jarosz was there. I don't know why I don't know her I have sat next to her at a show and she runs in my crowd. I'm seeing her with Aoife O'Donovan on Sunday. I'm wondering if she'll say, "are you the weird looking guy that squeezed by me in the hall at Pete's? I always figure that people who don't know me call me "the weird looking guy."
Some of you should know Cricket Tell the Weather. I missed them on Wednesday at Rockwood even though I was at Rockwood earlier to see Sharon Goldman but there were on too late for me to catch the last bus home if I went. So I made the hour and forty-five-minute trip to Brooklyn yesterday. I wasn't going to miss their album release for Tell the Story Right. They also play neo-trad but it's quite different from what Sam does. It's a broad genre. Much of what they do is closer to bluegrass, some even is bluegrass, but they aren't a bluegrass band. There's some that's Old Timey and some that's singer/songwriter. They did a version of Samson and Delilah stripped of the title characters so they followed it Regina Spector's Samson. Now here's the problem. I could use so much of the same language to describe them as I used for Sam but it's totally different. I have to close my eyes and hear all the threads for them too but the threads have little in common with Sam's. You know what it is? It's what trad music evolved into just as blues evolved into rock. And just as rock borrowed from trad music this borrowed from blues and other genres. It's what good musicians do, follow their muse where it takes them instead of staying in a box.
The band has had personnel changes and the only two that I know no are Andrea (ahn-DRAY-uh) Asprelli and Douglas Goldstein. The album actually has two separate lineups with the other one playing the Rockwood show. Andrea and Doug are in both.
I can't wait to hear the album. I loved their last one and on this one sounds like it will be even better. I was kept totally involved the entire show.
The evening of music was the antithesis of nice people playing nice songs nicely. This was music with originality and passion. It didn't play it safe. It wasn't about crafting material that sounds familiar. It had the divine spark, it had genius.
I stayed afterward to talk to Andrea. I said a quick hello to Doug before the show but couldn’t find him afterward. It's a small place but like I said it was crowded. At one point I couldn’t get to Andrea because there was a bass in the way.
I needed Google Maps to navigate from Crif to Pete's but I didn't need it to get home. It's a half mile walk to the Lorimer stop but it's make a right out the door and walk straight down Lorimer. You'd have to make an effort to get lost.
I of course just missed the second to last bus when I got back to Pelham and had to wait 34 minutes for the next one. It took two hours to get back but a quarter of that was waiting for that bus.
Today is a mental health day, I'm seeing both my therapist and my psychiatrist. I think that will be it as I have a busy weekend with at least one and perhaps two doubleheaders. I might not write again till Sunday. I might write more tonight. I'll see how I feel.
Scramblings Eggs and Unscrambling Minds - September 15, 2016
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