Friday, August 31, 2007


It’s a slightly cloudy, slightly cool day – a day when free furniture appears overnight down on Garden Street – futons, couches, swiveling office chairs. One crop of students out, another moving in as if the manifestation of some great wheel or assembly line.

A few picks and bits before I head off to Montana for two weeks.

All the Roadrunning – Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris. This CD is taking awhile to grow on me, but grow it does. There are some fine songs, “I Dug Up a Diamond” being one of my favorites. Knopfler and Harris’ voices are well matched, and Knopfler’s guitar work, though pretty understated here, is always excellent. And I have to thank the CD for bringing back memories of hitchhiking into Idaho one late March over Lolo Pass, 1970, picked up by a fellow in a pickup who had some wonderful smoke, and a bootleg tape of Emmylou and Gram Parsons. The sun was out, the scenery divine, and it was just one of those times where it all came together, and I thought, well, if heaven is like this, I'm gonna become a good man. I doubt this CD, even with accoutrements, will do that for anyone.

Witchi-Tai-Yo – I had this in vinyl and it disappeared in our move to Hawaii, so it’s good to have it back. Bought it back in my ECM craze. Jan Garbarek, Bobo Swenson, Palle Danielsson, & Jon Christensen. Features an incredible version of Don Cherry’s Desireless.

Breakfast in New Orleans, Dinner in Timbuktu – Bruce Cockburn. My favorite of the three. I’ve been listening to Cockburn for years, and while he can stray into pretentiousness, this is a fine, crisp and in some ways brilliant CD. While keeping a folk core, he interweaves world, jazz, rock, talking blues, etc. and his lyrics can startle, move even the coldest heart (one could only wish). Dubbed the Billy Bragg of Canada, he remains unabashedly political. This will probably soon replace Revelator as default in my car stereo for the upcoming road trip.

Thanks to David for the Cockburn and Knopfler/Harris recs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


George Graham, in a review of Gillian Welch's CD Hell Among the Yearlings makes two interesting comments. On Welch's sound -- "is a songwriter....who can authentically evoke the sound of old-time Appalachian folk and country music" and "her ability to create authentic-sounding old-time songs." Obviously both of these statements contain the root authentic, and are used in slightly different ways. "Authentically evoke" is a bit different from "authentic-sounding." I'm fairly sure of what is meant by "authentic-sounding" but not by "authentically evokes." The latter rings of channeling or some spiritualistic enterprise. But let's assume Graham means similar things. The reason these statements are even in the review is because Gillian Welch was raised in well-to-do Hollywood family, much like Randy Newman, and polished her "authentic" old-timey craft at the renowned Berkeley School of Music in Boston. This is also where she met her guitar playing collaborator David Rawlings This makes her an "interloper" as a friend calls it, into the real Appalachian music scene, compared to someone who might have emerged from a West Virginia hollow with a banjo and no formal education. Hence the terms "authentically evokes" or "authentic-sounding." What Graham is saying, in essence is that she's a fake, but a damn good one. OK. Does it matter?
That to me is the essential question. Does it affect one's interpretation and appreciation of her music to know that she wasn't a Kentucky coal miner's daughter? Does it somehow cheapen or otherwise taint what she has created?
Comments, as always, are welcome.

Energy Drinks

A poor excuse for a post, but a comment on my recent addiction to energy drinks to keep the flow going:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Strange Music

This post began evolving when my son Jordan brought home a Melodica. The prusuit of Melodica music led to the discovery of Augustus Pablo, a dub & Reggae artist who was perhaps the first person to use the Melodica as a serious instrument. They were apparently used, much like recorders, to teach music in Jamaican schools.

It continued to develop as we headed east to Missoula and visited a friend with an entire Javanese Gamelan in her daughter's bedroom (the daughter had been strategically relocated to Australia).

Then the party with the theramin (dealt with earlier).

And for some reason coming to rest with memories of seeing Artis perform in Seattle in the 70's around Pioneer Square. Thoughts of this remarkable performer brought memories of some wonderful youthful days in the town by the sound.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


The Hours and the Times - a strange little dialog film about the fictionalized relationship between Brian Epstein and John Lennon during a trip to Barcelona shortly after the birth of Julian in 1963. What creates the drama is the sexual tension between Lennon and Epstein, who was gay. Great bathtub scene. And the faux pax of watching Bergman's The Silence, released in September, in April. Pesky details.

Inside and Other Short Fiction: Japanese Women by Japanese Women, edited by Ruth Ozeki, author of two really good novels - My Year of Meats and All Around Creation, who lives just up the road on an island off Vancouver, BC. Short fiction by new Japanese women writers. The story Piss by Yuzuki Moroi blew my mind, evading any and all expectations I had.

The Gods Drink Whiskey by Stephen Asma. What's a Chicago boy doing teaching Buddhism in Cambodia? Invigorating blend of Dharma and adventure. Intelligent, articulate, and investigative. Explores in some detail the horrifying effects of the Khmer Rouge on Cambodian culture. Chinese communism accelerated.

Bangkok Tatoo by John Burdett. WTF????

Monday, August 13, 2007

Billy Collins

I'm not a huge Billy Collins fan (New York School lite) but this (and others at this site) are "cute." And, unfortunately, true. (thanks to Miguel)


They showed up, univited, at a party recently. One of the all time masters at work:

Back from Montana

and rested. Weddings, fires, dental floss, fishing, jazz, friends, family. Visited Joanie's brother's gravesite in Pony. Incredible place, Montana.