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Flamenco Snapshots · Recently, several times per week I’ve been spending an hour or two biking. Usually after supper, with Ingress as a motivator. My route home goes by a flamenco bar; and it’s absurdly easy to counteract the biking benefits with a couple of Guinesses while I watch the last set. And take pictures ...
 
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds · Mr Cave is touring at the moment; the current Bad Seeds incarnation is a six-piece notably including Warren Ellis; (No, not that Warren). I don’t go to a lot of concerts; a few each year. I caught this tour Tuesday and it was the most involving, intense music I’ve experienced in years. If they’re coming near, you should go see them. Assuming you don’t mind really loud really dark music about serious things: fear and love and murder and sex and God ...
 
Shonen Knife · It’s been almost two years since I last saw Shonen Knife; too long. They played Vancouver’s less-than-palatial Biltmore Cabaret; I got close to the stage with my camera ...
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Flamenco Sketches · Photographic sketches, I mean. Earlier this month, Eve and Eli were up from Seattle to visit and after dinner, we all dropped by the Kino Café to take in the flamenco. It was passionate and sexy and fun ...
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Raconteurs Live · Sunday night (yes, that’d be 4/20, which the band noted to general snickers), we took in The Raconteurs at Vancouver’s excellent Commodore Ballroom. It was nice to get out for an evening of rock & roll, and there are some great songs, but my feelings were mixed ...
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Shonen Knife with The Juliet Dagger · For the first time in far too long, I went out last night to a club to hear a couple of rock bands. Parenthood plus a demanding job really gets in rock&roll’s way (Lauren had an early Friday and begged off). The evening really made me happy and if one of the tour’s last three dates is in your town, I’d recommend taking them in. With bad photos and video even ...
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Extra Action Marching Band · Herewith eleven photos of the Extra Action Marching Band and if they’re coming through your town, you might want to take in the show. Don’t take the kids, though ...
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Princebowl Sunday · Wow, was that music hot, or what? I get the feeling that Prince decided some heavy rain would help his visuals and he had so much mojo going into this particular Sunday that God took his call and set it up. I wonder how much rehearsing it takes to pull together something that choreographed and have it come off on the first-and-only-chance performance, weather be damned? We had a bunch of people over, so I was hosting and missed quite a bit of the game, but I grabbed a seat at halftime, and turned it up and told ’em to shut up when the music started. By the way, I made Paul Humphreys’s Beef Stifado for the after-game dinner, and it came out great; heartily recommended for a good solid feed on a cold winter day. Looked just like Paul’s picture. I doubled the recipe and quadrupled the garlic.
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Join the Parade · The Parade of the Lost Souls, that is, this Saturday Oct. 28th. I’ve known about this event for years and wanted to go, but something always got in the way. This year, I have to go, because I’m one of the performers. If you’re in Vancouver, drop by and check it out.
 
Koyaanisqatsi · From time to time, Phil Glass goes out on tour with his ensemble, playing the Koyaanisqatsi soundtrack live in front of the movie. We went to the show this evening and really enjoyed it. The movie ages reasonably well (although the actual physical print was a little tired), with the exception of the over-long, over-excited, un-subtle The Grid segment in the middle. I find I can route around the ham-handed industrial-civilization-sucks message and enjoy the elegant very slow cuts—yes, look at this mountain (or machine, or cloudscape, or unglamorous middle-aged face) for much longer than you thought you wanted to and realise that there’s more there to see than you thought. And there’s a message in that too, about time and attention, that seems more important to me than the other. As for the music, Philip Glass may not be exactly mainstream, but he’s not controversial any more. I have a bunch of his albums and think that both Glassworks and Mishima have some 5-✭ tracks. The band plays beautifully (5 keyboards, 3 woodwinds, one soprano and some of the instrumentalists sing too); Phil doesn’t conduct but gets to play the juicy low slow atmospherics. The sound was clean and pure and solid, too. I really enjoyed the crowd, the last couple of times we’d been at that venue it was for the opera, and the Phil Glass crowd was funkier, better dressed (not more expensively, better), and (dare I say it) looked more intelligent.
 
Music and Gravity · And I think to myself... what a wonderful world. [Unstable link fixed, thanks to Jeremy Dunck.]
 
Jazz in 2005 · Just now I watched an hour of the 2005 Newport Jazz Festival on PBS HD, and I think it probably said something about the state of jazz. The order of the comments does not correspond to the concert’s running order. Wynton Marsalis (hmm, there seem to be two official competing sites, so we’ll go with Wikipedia) erected a perfectly-polished entirely-motionless 100% risk-free monument to some idealized notion of the Golden Age of Jazz; his ensemble all wore really great neckties. The Joshua Redman Elastic Band opened with some interesting heavily-processed solo sax, then played conventional quite-OK jazz flawed only by Joshua Redman, whose breaks were kind of boring. Martin Medeski and Wood, whom I’d heard of but never heard, played fast complicated synth-funk, which is generally a disposable kind of thing, but it was actually a fairly funky flavor of synth-funk, so that’s a redeeming feature. The Dave Holland Big Band was refreshing, straight un-pimped-up jazz, but high-speed, high-energy, the players were sweating and some of the breaks veered into dangerous territory. Mmmm, tasty. Saving the best for the last: The Patricia Barber Quartet played Norwegian Wood. No, that’s not what they did... actually they fucking blew the stage to smithereens, caressing the song, then easing into the instrumental space, then offering apocalyptic piano and bass breaks, then dropping into a fast ensemble groove, pure rhythm for the sake of rhythm, why couldn’t it have gone on for an hour; a penultimate dip into that tart Lennon/McCartney sweetness and then it ended with a big loud bang. I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz for a lot of years; for my money, the Barber quartet is by a wide margin the world’s premier currently-active jazz ensemble. Maybe the premier currently-active ensemble in any genre of music.
 
SMiLE · We caught Brian Wilson and the SMiLE tour the other night. If it comes to your town I’d recommend catching it, but you might want to show up a little late ...
 
White Stripes, Ouch · If you’re thinking of catching the band on this tour, you might want to think again. We saw them this evening and the sound was catastrophic, abominable. Now, you don’t go to see WS expecting crystalline purity, but occasionally being able to hear the vocals would be nice. A few of the big guitar lines came through, but that’s about all, and lots of those were lost too. And if you are going, don’t even consider taking a seat high up in the balcony, because there’s a zillion-watt light behind Meg, silhouetting her in a way that’s probably nicely dramatic down front, but makes the whole stage vanish in a painful dazzle for the top fifty rows or so. Pretty well the entire population of our section went to stand in aisles out of the glare, and the security guards who came to clear the aisles were sent packing with an earful. Lots of songwriting and charisma, but a waste of money live. [Update: Several people write to tell me that they’ve seen the Stripes recently and the sound wasn’t bad; so maybe it was just the hall (the Orpheum in Vancouver). From my point of view, they took my money and gave me an unlistenable show; but your mileage may vary.]
 
Cab Pix, Joplin and Boyle · I don’t really ♥NY that much, but you can’t deny that it’s intense and efficient. I was in town really for only one working day, but managed to speak at the Syndicate conference, about which many others have written, to sit down with the new Sun Software CTO (& hence my manager) Hal Stern (hey, he can blog, this is gonna work out), to have a real useful meeting with Adam Bosworth over at the Google office on Broadway, to do some Atom business with a couple of our WG members and some general schmoozing with Udell and Scoble and Lasica and so on, and to eat an excellent dinner courtesy of Nooked. This still left time to walk thirty blocks to a nice concert featuring a Russian virtuoso, Joplin rags and a world premiere by Benjamin C.S. Boyle, whom you’ve never heard of but might soon. More on the concert and pictures from the cab-ride ...
 
After Midnight · I caught Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival on PBS this evening, and subsequently ordered the DVD from Amazon. If you like electric guitar, you might want to give it a try. Herewith some notes, and a story about a conversation I once had with J.J. Cale ...
 
Yundi Li · Just came home from the concert. Li was born in 1982 in central China, won lots of competitions, and has charisma to burn. The program was pretty well all Chopin and Liszt. I’ve never heard Chopin played better, live. I’m now shopping for his recordings ...
 
An Evening With Isabel · Last night we went out to hear Isabel Bayrakdarian sing; I’ve written here before of how Ms B. nearly killed me, and while the concert wasn’t life-threatening, it was really very good and I think this is A Singer To Watch. I have a picture to prove it, plus a Lord of the Rings connection ...
 
Anne Sofie von Otter · Went to a concert last night by Anne Sofie von Otter and pianist Bengt Forsberg. She isn’t in the list of my top ten or maybe even fifty singers, and I didn’t know a single one of the songs performed, and while a couple were pretty good I don’t think they’re going into heavy rotation on the car stereo any time soon. But you know what? I had a blast; concerts are almost always worth going to. Herewith some notes on why, and on some of the music ...
 
Patricia Barber, 2003/06/26 · The evening of the 26th we caught a performance by Patricia Barber, which was remarkable. I can’t imagine anyone who likes pretty well any kind of jazz not liking Ms Barber. Herewith a bit of background and some details ...
 
La Bohème · It was a late evening, we had a fine dinner and then went to see La Bohème at the Vancouver Opera. I'm not a connaisseur, but there are a couple of important reasons why you should go see opera sometime, if you don't already ...
 
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