Monday, March 31, 2008

Waiting On A Friend

Here's a couple of doodles from the Balthrop Alabama rehearsal last night . . .They're playing some Balthrop standards and possibly a few covers tonight at Pete's Candy Store with Andrew Vladeck. What song is it you want to hear . . . ?

Also, I decided to give Josh some Hirschfeld eyes, just to see what would happen.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Artist Statement

Hmm. Let's see.

"I was sitting in the Fall Cafe and there was this man there with this daughter and grand-daughter and he was watching them play."

No. Too pedantic and blase faire.

"I have always been attracted to the human face as an intersection of competing notions of gender and ideology."

Say. That's a good start.

"The carved lines of a face--worn by life--speak of the patterns we inherit as subjects of pre-set gender narratives. These lines--arcing, direct, bold even--are indicative of both phallic-like and post-feminist hegemonic structures of composition."

Now we're getting somewhere.

"But, specifying the subject as "The Grand-daughter" (as I have done in this piece) rather than "man" or even "grandfather" (with its implied historical possessive), distracts the narrative tendency by introducing the unseen to the viewed (and the viewer)."


"As in all my work, this thing unseen is that which must be recognized. Following this logic, my work represents everything EXCEPT what it portrays, therefore it achieves universality through absence--everything in the universe, known and unknown, real and theoretical, fact-based and fantastic is implied and potentialized through my mature ability to not include it in the work."

And that, my friend, is how to write an Artist Statement.


Tony Scherr playing songs from his new album, Twist In The Wind, Wednesday at Joe's Pub.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Also playing last Monday night at Andrew Vladeck's penultimate Pete's Candy Store show (which was where El May performed) was our neighborhood buddy Frally and her friend Brandon Harris. Frally doesn't actually live in the neighborhood--she lives in Nashville--but, Carroll Gardens is her home away from home; we declare it so. Her MySpace page has all that music you can't buy yet and you should give it a listen if you are so inclined; it's really lovely.

By the way, next Monday the featured guest at Andrew's gig will be a band called Balthrop, Alabama--their final show before our big Joe's Pub show, for which you should buy tickets right now because (and I've always wanted to say this and mean it) tickets are going fast.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Speaking of Birds

I had lunch with Jamie Leonhart yesterday and we talked about the intersection of a potentially cool idea she has with a potentially cool idea I have.

Anyway, it reminded me of this drawing from my sketchbook that's been sitting around for a few weeks . . .

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Traveling Mercies

Spottiswoode And His Enemies played their tenth anniversary show Saturday night at the Pub. I first experienced them last year during their residency at the Pub and they blew me away; Saturday's show was more reserved than the first time, but moody ambivalence seemed like the perfect punctuation mark for a week that started with the mayhem of SXSW and ended back at Joe's.

Like a couple of the bands I saw this week--and myself--Spottiswoode And His Enemies were fresh returned from Austin and reflective of the experience. Maybe March is the month for reflection; Lara just got back from Australia and when I spoke to her about the tour, she had a look in her eyes that seemed to be searching for meaning in the face of it all. Last night on stage at Pete's Candy Shop, trying to make the sound work when it wasn't gonna no matter how much you tweaked it, she looked out at the crowd and sighed, "it's a wonder music ever gets made." And then she made beautiful music despite the mic that didn't work and the monitor that kept giving out and the guitar that sounded like something other than a guitar.

This week, I've been thinking a lot about faith, rereading Anne LaMott and spending time with a miracle baby whose smile would have made Darth Vader skip and giggle like a jedi school girl. I'm usually a slow reader, but I re-digested Traveling Mercies at a gallop, the whole 275 pages in two days.

Music in general and singing along with a choir specifically is a metaphor and practical force of nature LaMott often turns to for inspiration and rumination in the book. At one point, she describes the transformation of a hardened, judgmental woman, reaching out during the morning hymn at church to help a man she had previously treated with some fear and trepidation. She says, "I can't imagine anything but music that could have brought about this alchemy. Maybe it's because music is about as physical as it gets: your essential rhythm is your heartbeat; your essential sound, the breath. We're walking temples of noise, and when you add tender hearts to this mix, it somehow lets us meet in places we couldn't get to any other way."

So, yeah. Let's all keep thinking about it, processing the whole deal, wondering how we're gonna earn a living and getting moody because it's taking so long and we keep sacrificing so much; but let's keep singing, because we're walking temples of noise with tender hearts and this is where we Ended Up.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Dig It

The Dig at Rockwood Music Hall, last Wednesday. Word is that The Dig is "the catchiest, most intriguing power pop band to emerge out of the no-name pile in some time" and I will not argue with Popmatters on this subject. The first time I saw them I was having a drink in the other room, but when I heard them I moved us over to the main hall to get a closer look. Bernie was along that night, before he retired to a villa in Florida.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Horse Stories

Toby Burke performing as Horse Stories at Rockwood Music Hall in New York last night.

Burke is a recent survivor of a noon show at the Dirty Dog for SXSW and he had the look of someone who just made it through the war armed only with a guitar and a baritone; clearly, he had seen too much too soon. I don't know how much of that is actually him, his reaction to SXSW or me projecting, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Last Night

Adele made her American debut Monday night and played another show last night at Joe's Pub.

About a year ago, Amy Winehouse followed the same route in anticipation of her American release and it went well for her, so it may be that The Powers That Be are trying to see if lightning can strike a second time for another unconventional British soul diva.

As with Winehouse's show, I sat in on the sound-check and watched her get ready for her close-up. I was treated to a personal performance of Chasing Pavements and a few of her other songs as Jeff and Rachel set the reverb and focussed the lights respectively and then Shannon came and sat with me up in the booth during the show to watch the magic begin . . .

SXSW part 2

Liam Finn:

Mason Jennings:

The Security Guard:

Bring on the Bloggers:

Gerard Cosloy from Matador Records and their Matablog, Amrit Singh from Stereogum, Sean Adams from the Quietus Group and Drowned in Sound, Maura Johnston from, Carrie Brownstein from Monitor Mix and various other small projects and Jason Gross from Perfect Sound Forever.

And if you needed further evidence that I was really there, well, you could probably find it somewhere . . .

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

God Loves My Country

Hey, I made a video with Pascal to go with that new song and we put it up over at Balthrop, Alabama's website. I had the YouTube version up here, but the low res quality looked and sounded terrible, so go there and watch it in internet high def . . . You can even download the song and the video for free over in the friendly town of Balthrop, Alabama, population modest but growing . . .

SXSW part 1


Chris Mills with Dave Nagler (unpictured) on keyboards:

Ray Rizzo, drumming for Dawn Landes:

Pete from Elizabeth and the Catapult, getting ready for a trip to Barton Springs just as soon as this final show was finished:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Start of Something Good

Just flew in from Austin and SXSW and boy are my arms, feet, legs, ears, eyes, chest, back, front and middle tired.

More later, but here's the first drawing from the trip, Van Morrison at La Zona Rosa, Wednesday night.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Northern Italy, Southern Italy

Vinicio Caposella played Joe's Pub Monday with Marc Ribot as a guest. He sounded like this, but live. Shanta and I went to see him again tonight down here at SXSW. I'll have some of the drawings up later . . .

Vinicio Caposella:

Marc Ribot:

Vinicio Caposella:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Big Rooms

Old Springs Pike and Elizabeth and the Catapult sat everyone down and sang to them over at the Highline Ballroom Sunday night. Guess they're moving up, playing the big rooms to promote their new albums and the like. Except neither band has a full album out yet.

They do have posters if you want them.

And an audience that will follow them anywhere, record every moment, post it, share it, talk about it and scream like everyone up and caught Beatlemania. Or Pikechosis.

It so happens that I don't have any drawings of Elizabeth and the Catapult from the night, but that's just because they and I and a gazillion other musicians and wanna be musicians and promoters and music writers are heading down to Austin tomorrow for SXSW and I knew I'd have another chance before the week was done. Or, you know, three chances.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Son Also Rises

Ben Arthur, making his Pub debut, with Vienna Teng, Saturday night. He's got a new website, a new album and now a sold out show at Joe's Pub under his belt.

Friday, March 07, 2008

There is A Light That Never Goes Out

David Ford at Joe's Pub Wednesday night, previewing songs from his forthcoming album.

In addition to writing aching and beautiful songs of melancholy about people making their way in a world paved with obstacles, Ford is one of those artists who--in performance--occasionally uses looping effects to create enough sound for an entire band. Given the loneliness and sad desperation of his songs, not to mention his overwhelming skill at a technique which can be a gimmick when not done well, the effect is both strongly musical and powerful, as if he's demonstrating a way to make something out of nothing.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

All Stars

Matt Moon at Balthrop, Alabama practice.

Jane Srisarakorn, not at Balthrop, Alabama practice.

Ma and Pa at the Bar Great Harry.

Monday, March 03, 2008

It's All So Simple, It's Almost Stupid

Here's how I know February is over: this Friday at 11:30 I don't know what I'll be doing.

Whatever it is, it probably won't be as fun as what I've been doing every Friday for the last four weeks.

Mike Viola has finished his residency at Joe's Pub.

Sara's off to California now to celebrate her birthday. I'm back to work trying to find work and get ready for April 18. Ben's practicing with the guests for next Saturday. And, somewhere out there, a cello player is shopping for a new instrument.

We've had some great shows and heard some sweet music in the last year or so at Joe's, but everyone agrees that something special has been happening in February. Maybe it was the guest stars; maybe it was because of the songs; maybe it was because of the crack band that could write a song on the spot as the chords were called out; maybe it was the return of Jedediah Parish; maybe it was because Mike's leaving for LA soon and we don't know when he'll be back. Or maybe it's just that something good happens when Mike Viola is on stage, elevating the whole beyond the sum of parts . . .

All I know, is that the shortest month--even extended into the encore day of a leap year--has ended and I want a little more.

Mike Viola has left the building and we're all sad but smiling, just like you're supposed to be at the end of a great pop tune.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Both Sides Now