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
January 09, 2017 - 1:38 p.m.
I had a busy day yesterday so I should cut down on the preliminaries; for instance, I shouldn't be writing about cutting down the preliminaries.
Yesterday I went hard core and had a musical doubleheader in different cities. I thought I had a conflict and couldn't do both but I was wrong. As hard as it is to believe that happens now and then; just not when I'm arguing with you. Then I'm always right.
First up was Kate Copeland at River Spirit Music aka Peter and Paula's home. Kate is one of my more recent discoveries; I first saw her at NERFA 2015 playing with Dougmore. I checked her out on her own and was intrigued. She has since gotten better every time I see her. She was given the coveted opening the evening spot at The Budgiedome we reserve for young or recent entries in the folk world that are need to be seen by more people. Anthony da Costa was the first one to fill that slot. My money is on her winning the Emerging Artist Most Wanted and returning next year. In which case, she'll play the Budgiedome again or I'll cry. Now you know the secret of how we book such great artists; it's the threat of me crying and looking at them with puppy dog eyes.
Peter and Paula are the first of my friends to book Kate. More of you should. Alan Rowoth is a true believer, anyone else?
I went to the show with Dan from The Lords of Liechtenstein. I had sent her some of Kate's music and he planned a New England tour with her. Getting people in the musical world together is my function in the musical world; that and writing brilliant blogs. Oh, and being eye candy. The show was in Hastings-on-Hudson. Dan and I come from different directions; he's in Williamsburg and I'm on City Island in the northeast corner of the Bronx. Our paths converge at the Harlem Metro North station. That's where we met, Dan got on at Grand Central and I joined him in the first open car. Cell phones make things much easier. I told him to wear a red carnation so I'd recognize him and he told me to just look for the handsomest man on the train. That made it difficult as I saw a guy that looked exactly like Dan but he wasn't the handsomest man on the train, not even the second handsomest, after me. I asked the guy who looked like Dan if he knew were Dan was. He called me a jerk, so I knew it was Dan and as usual he was wrong about being the handsomest man on the train. For those of you who don't know me I'm not a 14-year-old, I just play one on TV.
When we got to Hastings we needed a cab and just missed the only one there that picked someone else up. I called one on Gett, a competitor to Uber. It said that demand was overwhelming and there was none available. I was going to switch to Uber when the cab came back. It charged just about what Gett did.
We were the first ones at the house. That meant getting our choice of seats and setting the precedent of what to do with shoes. We left them down in the coat room. As it was snowy outside people's shoes were not clean. Paula and Peter supply post-it notes to reserve your seat. I filled them out for Dan and me. Dan calls me Clownie Pajamas often shortened to CP. It's because of a picture I posted on Facebook of me when I was 2 wearing clownie pajamas. For my post-it I wrote CP and for Dan's, "Noah's brother." We sat on the end in the front row. My regular seat at shows at most venues.
Perry not the Platypus was one of the first to arrive and sat with Dan and me. That's foreshadowing. I did say, "Where's Perry." Dan had no idea what I was talking about. He has never even heard of Phineas & Ferb; can you believe such cultural ignorance?
I finally figured out how to write about Kate. I like to say more than boilerplate comments but often that's what I have. I can't always find exactly what I like about an artist and often when I like is simply great songwriting. I can't write anything special about Paul Simon. I do much better with the weird. Kate is not weird but I still love her. That's a compliment. She's a conservatory trained musician, Oberlin, and it shows. Many of my favorite musicians have conservatory backgrounds. Jeremy was in the audience also went to Oberlin but not the conservatory. He was a one of my people, a science geek. He just has oodles of talents. The Oodle is the official metric unit of talent. Kate's songs have a lot or words. They are the right words. Most importantly they say something. Perhaps my favorite is about a prisoner on death row told in the first person. It's the story of how he became a murderer. She is also a great singer. That is very much not the same thing as having a beautiful voice. It's the difference between playing a Stradivarius and being a violin virtuoso. You're born with the voice but you must work at playing it just like any other instrument. One thing I was noticing last night is that Kate enunciates perfectly. Her songs have a lot of words but they never feel squeezed in and you can make out each one.
I'm disappointed that I don't hear more buzz about Kate. I don't get it. She's a brilliant songwriter with a gorgeous voice and musical chops. The biggest part of it is that there's a butterfly wing effect element. People talk about an artist because other people talk about that artist. I'm part of the buzz and part of what I try to accomplish with blogging is turning the conversation to artists that I think are special. Then there are the distractions, the things that drive me nuts. A musician kvetched to me that people will hear a beautiful voice and think the songwriting is great when it isn't. That all they are enjoying is the voice, even if the singing isn't great. It also goes the other way, Kate has a beautiful voice that people notice and they don't pay attention to the songwriting or how well she sings. She's also beautiful with a glamorous; she looks like a pop star, and that unconsciously influences how people think. It's something that can help some performers and harms others. I don't know what determines which is which. I'm not sure that it is more than feedback loops.
Wow. I have a lot to write about. I'm only halfway through this. I'm going to take a break for brunch. You take a break too. I'll be back in an hour. Smoke 'em if you've got 'em.
I'm back exactly an hour after I left. I hope you made good use of your time. I did. I made an omelet. Even though I forgot to put the cheese on it was great. I put on a mixture of breakfast sausage and chorizo.
Now back to yesterday. Perry, you remember Perry, this is a story about Perry and the restaurant, was sitting next to me and Dan, he's a good friend, and we asked if he could give us a ride to the train station. We were hoping to be able to race down to Rockwood Music Hall in time to see Kristin Andeassen and Anna & Elizabeth, and perhaps even Kaia Kater. Perry was intrigued and considered going with us. Beth, his wife, was home with the sick dog and this was a night out with the boys. He is a presenter, Ethical Brew is his baby. I switched into networking mode. He had to see these people; they are not only great, they are not regulars on the coffeehouse circuit. They are fresh voices. It worked! He decided to go which meant that we had a ride to Rockwood and knew we would get there in time. I thought we might even make the tail end of Kaia's set but we must have just missed it; Kristin was setting up when we arrived. This was a APAP, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, showcase. It's like NERFA, except much bigger, and spread all over the City. Perry is a presenter so belongs. I'm cute so I belong. Dan is my friend so he gets in for that. The reality was this show was open to the public.
Here's a pro tip, it's easy to park near Rockwood on a Sunday night. We got a spot across the street. When we got there Mel was working the doors. I had to pull my hood down so he'd recognize me. Dan is young enough to be IDed but didn't need it because Mel believed me. He warned me to stay out of trouble.
After going months without seeing Kristin, this was my second night in a row. This was a much shorter set was in a standing room only very crowded room, but had this time she was joined by Critter as well as as as, Damn, I forgot his name again. He played with her Saturday night too. He's great. I wanted to write about him. He played drums, banjo, keyboard, and this tiny synthesizer. Shane! His first name is Shane! Come back Shane, I remembered your name, at least your first. Critter is of course a world class guitarist. He also went to Oberlin. That's three Oberlin grads in one day. Becca where were you? You'd have loved the music.
I knew a bunch of people there but didn't really have a chance to talk to them. There was Aoife, Anthony, he had a gig at Rockwood 3 earlier, Lily, Sarah, Alec, and Steph. Anthony played guitar with Aoife her last tour and is now on the road with Sarah. It's a small incestuous world. They are all musicians if you haven't guessed.
I just wrote about how great Kristin is yesterday. I did not think of anything new since then. I don't get to see Anna & Elizabeth often even though Anna now lives in New York City. Is it Brooklyn? All the cool people live in Brooklyn. OK not true. Some live in Manhattan or Queens. I live in the Bronx. Bernie and Jane are cool but that's about it.
Unless you've seen Anna & Elizabeth you haven't seen anything like Anna & Elizabeth. Their music is ultra-traditional even when it's original. The style is spare with just a banjo or guitar accompanying their voices. They sound like a field recording from The Anthology of American Folk Music. They use a cranky on some of their songs. That's the 19th century version of a music video. The story is drawn on a very long scroll which is placed across a light box. As Anna plays her guitar or banjo Elizabeth turns the scroll by hand. They make the art themselves. It's magical. When they finished the cranky song, Elizabeth pull out a Mac Book. I loved the juxtaposition of 19th and 21st century technologies. I didn't know what she was going to do with it. I hadn't seen them use it before. It was to introduce their special guest, this woman from New England that made what sounded like a field recording, complete with the snap, crackle, and pop, from 1943. Anna played along to the singing on the recording. They the two of them sang the song.
They don't just sing. They tell stories. The did a fan dance. No, not that kind of fan dance. It was an elegant piece with recitation and hand fans. They are unique. I was so happy Perry loved both acts. I did my job, connecting A to B. Who else of my friends is going to present Kristin and Anna & Elizabeth. You should be fighting with each for dates. Don't fight too hard you have to book Kate Copeland too. There's plenty of talent to go around.
It was too crowded in the room for me to say goodbye to any of my friends but Critter who stood with me during A & E's set. During the fan dance Anna's guitar fell off the stand with a crash. The guitar is older than she is. I suspect it's older than I am. It's beautiful. Anna didn't miss a beat and kept performing. I asked Critter if he could do that if it was his guitar crashing. He didn't think so.
It was hot and crowded in their so Dan, Perry, and I went outside in the cold to say goodbye to each other. It was 16°F with a wind chill of 6° but that was still more comfortable than inside as we were bundled up. Dan turned down Perry's offer of a ride to the . I asked for a ride up to 125th street where I could catch the . Perry was driving up to the GWB and as the trains were running local I thought that would be faster than catching the train downtown. That would have been true if it weren't for some bad luck, bad eyesight, and idiocy. We drove up the FDR to 125th street. The exit was closed. So, we went up to 135th street, no big deal. We just had to make a left on Lexington Ave. We couldn't make out the street signs. Perry turned on the GPS. The map is not the easiest thing to read while you are driving. I'm too blind to see it. he said, "OK, Lexington is the next block." We drove down to 125th street, I thanked him profusely, and went down into the subway. Things looked unfamiliar. I know that stop a bit from getting the Metro North near there. I just figured it was because it was dark and I'm blind. I went downstairs and saw that I was on the line. We made the left on Lenox which if you are looking quickly looks like Lexington. It was no big deal, I walked four blocks east to Lexington. I stopped on the way for fries. That wasn't the best move. I got to the subway and had a 9-minute wait for the . I probably just missed one. I got to Pelham Bay Park at 11:18. The bus is scheduled for 11:20. I got there just as it turned 11:20. There was only one person waiting. I asked her if I had just missed the bus. She pointed to it and said, there it is. Oy. There's a half an hour wait between buses at that hour. I went to 7&ndash11 to wait it out inside and get a hot chocolate. It came with a free donut! Win! But I'd much rather have made the bus. I went back at 11:45 just in case the 11:50, the last bus of the night, came early. That's happened to me. It shouldn't but it does. It did come early, 11:48 and pulled out at 11:49. At least no one came off a train and just missed it. I checked on my subway time app. They should give the bus drivers that app so that they don't pull away just as people are getting off the train. Most people who take the Bx29 use it to get to and from the subway, either to City Island or Co-op City. But I didn't have to take a cab and that's the most important thing.
I had a long but wonderful day. It was a very me day. It's the kind of thing people think I do. Eight days into the year I've been to four concerts. I am remembering to add them all to the spreadsheet. Next January I'll be able to do a summary of what's I've seen. I like to know who I've seen the most. My next show is John Platt's On Your Radar tomorrow night. The guests are Session Americana, Evie Laden & Keith Terry, and Bruce T. Carroll. You can get your tickets here, Ticketfly.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
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