Friday, October 29, 2010

"Friday Night Frolic" - Acoustic Alchemy

Richard Thompson L.A. based British folk scene icon. Serious songster. Volumes of variegated verse. Six-string picking prodigy. Divinely deft. 

Performing tonight, 10/29/10, at Berkley Performance Center, Boston, MA.

Here, hypnotizing with his Mingus Eyes:

And herepaying heartfelt homage to a motorbikeperforming 1952 Vincent Black Lightning:

A girl could feel special on any such like.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gauche: The New Gold Standard

Honestly? Does Rhode Island really want to continue wandering about with its palm permanently stuck to its forehead?

It looks like our General Treasurer, Frank Caprio, has raised the bar...

Friday, October 22, 2010

"Friday Night Frolic" - Who Do Voodoo?

A nascent ensemble. Indie, alternative, heady rock. Punky, funky, psychedelic songs, and some really rich lullabies from two Irishmen and one American, based in Donegal, IE and Cincinnati, OH (please excuse the use of multiple adjectives, Prof. B., but I just can't "choose one"and I also happen to like rambling parentheticalsno worries, I will crystallize this for you here):

A band named Voodoo Loons.

If you don't already have it, get SIRIUS radio—listen to Celtic Crush.

A few years back, this labeless troupe released The Unabashedly Political Song (and how) from their only CD to dateEuphobiaof which they made hay. It is said that, after their performance at tomorrow's World Music Fest in Kentucky, the Voodoo Loons will embark on a coast-to-coast backpacking tour of Ireland, an odyssey likely to inspire some epic poetry. So stay tuned... I have a feeling that after they've schlepped the lush island's landscape, a golden stack of lyric will crystallize. No need to fear this good news.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bemoaning Birthdays - and Other Obtuse Objects and Occasions

This is an obtuse angle—not a straight, acute, right, reflex or full angle. Its angle is greater than 90 degrees, but less than 180 degrees, as you can see. Obtuse. Let's pretend life is a straight line, rather than a full circle. At 90 degrees life is full-on-open, in its prime; nevertheless, half-way back to a flat line. Beyond the 90 degree mark, the right angle begins to tilt toward the flattest of flat lines. And look at that arc, oh yes, it has peaked and is on the downward curve. Looks like there's a lot of gravitational force on that slant. Not that an obtuse angle is all bad, ahem, but in relation to age it's not the sort of angle I prefer.

I realize that the ninety degree mark actually came to pass a few years ago, but for some reason, today, this birthdaythe last in my fortiesI'm seeing numbers from a different angle. After yet another perimenapausal night of fitful sleep and absurd dreams, I woke to a dark, cold house, and drowsy-slipped into sweatpants and an oversized sweater (this, actually just another version of my PJs, or maybe they were my PJs and I never actually changed—who can remember), and a son who never quite developed early-morning language skills, and... NO (decent) coffee. At my age, one needs decent coffee—first thing.

I told myself that it was alrightthe coffee thingit was my birthday, I didn't want to make my own cup of coffee anyway. What I wanted, what I really craved, was a steamy cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee from the local orchard. I wanted to wrap my hands around the Tallest, Grandest, Ventiest cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee I could find. And for that moment in time it was all I needed, all I could think of, not a thing more urgent.



This...                                                                      and this....


I then sleepily drove a car full of teens to school. (Don't worry parents! Honest, I was fine, I was paying attention—as best I could manage without my morning java joltI drove slowly). 

On my return home, I stopped at the orchard and ordered that triple Venti cup of hot Pumpkin Spice coffee. But more, I spied a pumpkin mousse roll... and the girl behind the counter, who had already poured my coffee, asked, "Would you like something else?" Are you kidding?! How did she know that? 

I looked her in the eye but pointed at the roll and finished her thought for her (because I knew what she wanted to say... in slow motion), "Like the pumpkin mousse rooooooll, perhaps?"  Hell—it's my birthday, isn't it! Of course I want the rooooooll.

I mean really, how could I pass this up? How could I pass up a pumpkin anything?

So, the girl lovingly packaged my single roll in a little white box, and I left with roll and coffee in hand. I made my way to my car, and juggled a few items in order to open the door. I placed the little white box and my handbag on the passenger seat and proceeded home. At home, I parked my car in the garage bay, opened the car door, swiped my bag and box from the seat and went for my coffeemy PUMPKIN SPICE coffeein the cup holder. And when I looked down, into my cup holder, my empty cup holder, I said, "Wha?" (Yes, out loud.)

"Wha?!" again and near tears. Where had my coffeemy PUMPKIN SPICE coffeegone?! How could this be? I knew that I had taken it out to the car. I remembered lifting it from the cashier's counter and walking out the door with it in hand. And then, the dawning: Ooooohhhhh. That's riiiiiiggghhhht. I must have placed it on the roof of my car so that I had a free hand in which to open the door. I must have. However, I absolutely couldn't remember placing it on the rooftop; but, logic being... I must have. And then to confirm this fact, which is certainly plausible (I shudder to think what happened as I drove off—its flight, the cover's seal violently broken, warm spiced coffee splattered across the road, the paper cup crushed beneath a tire, stamped with treads as evidence), I inspect my car for coffee stains, for some proof that the PUMPKIN SPICE coffee had licked my car on the way down. Logic being... and yet, not a spot of coffee. Not one sweaty swatch of beige. I will most likely never solve the mysterythat is how it goes here.

This, after having my twenty-one page story shred the night before. Heartless.

Obtuse? Definitely more than 90 degrees gone. And why do you think the angle is called "obtuse"? That's rightit's blunt, people. BLUNT. As in, not sharp. Yep, Math is not the only thing that is not fun (or dumb). And changing geometry is a killer. But I still had my pumpkin mousse roll! And a cup of tea. And then there was the practice with the cross-country team... that only emphasized the arc...

Friday, October 15, 2010

"Friday Night Frolic" - GONE GONE GONE!

Alison Krauss, an extraordinary country artist (but so much more than just a country artist): 

You may have heard her ethereal voice from several different movie soundtracks, such as Mona Lisa Smile, Cold Mountain, (where she sings the heartbreaking and haunting melody, The Scarlet Tide—click, but I warn you, there will be tears) and O Brother, Where Art Thou; or, from TV series like The Wire and Sesame Street. Perchance you have seen her performing with Yo-Yo Ma, or on Austin City Limits?  More likely, you discovered her via her wildly popular 2007 masterful collaboration, Raising Sand, with Robert Plant (yes, the one and only Led Zeppelin hard rocker)—produced by the distinguished and innovative Mr. T. Bone Burnett (do look him up). But, if by slim chance you haven't yet been acquainted with this multi, multi talented woman, then you simply must, there is no longer any excuse. Here, an opportunity...

The introduction... by way of a an old Everly Brothers tune (and rockin' with Plant):

But wait... more... (because yes, Robert is fantastic and now you are likely ready to go, go go —done moved onbut this really is about Alison) Alisonbacked up by the venerable Union Station—slowing it down a bit, this, one of my daughter's favorite songs:

This accomplished singer, songwriter, fiddlerGONE, GONE, GONE... out of this world good. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuesdays With the Cross-Country Team

I don’t know what I was thinking—I can barely run a quarter mile yard, but when my daughter joined her middle school’s cross-country team this year, for some inane benevolent ambiguous reason I volunteered to help out as an assistant coach. My son ran cross-country last year, and I so enjoyed watching the meets that I thought, “Why not get involved?” My legs are now answering that query with a vengeance.  They are shrieking at me, begging for mercy. “What the @#*! ever possessed you to enlist for this?” they are crying. “Have you completely lost your mind, woman?”

Turns out, I have.

A typical Tuesday practice, or so I thoughtwhere I am the lucky, lone assistant-in-charge, yes, me, the woman who’s hardly run (unless there's a sale) a stretch of anything in the past twenty years, alone with more than a dozen kids—I tell myself: no big deal, piece of cake, not to worry, I can handle this.  (You know I’m being facetious, right? You are feeling my fear. My pain. My utter helplessness  stupidity. I know you are.)

Belowa scene:

All names have been changed to protect the innocent-- really, the only innocent being me.  Why I didn’t change my name, go figure.

                  (with big smile)

Mrs. Schlott, can we play some football? 

Other boys cheer in agreement.
Guys, this is a cross-country practice.

Oh come on! After practice or before, then?

The boys toss the football anyway.

(shouting above the baritone-voiced boys)

Twice around the field guys, warm up and then stretching.

         (in unison but David leading)

 Aw c’mon, Mrs. S.!

(ignoring David and the rest of the boys)

Here’s our agenda for today: two laps around the field (a hillside, actually) for warm up, and then stretching. We’re going to run a few miles after that. No stoppingso pace yourselves so you don’t need a break. Stop only if it's absolutely necessary.

             (jumping up and down)

 Mrs. Schlott can I go pee?

                (with hands in air)

I have to go too, Mrs. S.

Ok, girls, run inside and go to the bathroom. Hurry up back before we head out for the long run.

Twice around the hillside we go, then the stretch. One of the boys, Cameron, decides to lead the count for each lunge and twist. 1, 2, 3. Only these aren’t one Mississippi counts; no, they are more like race counts 1,2,3,4… where one number blurs the next, without a breath in between.

Legs are flexed, arms circled, backs and necks stretched. The kids are off for the long run before I can say "Wait for Amy and Kelly!" and then all I see is the backside of the their bodies from the point of departure to return. We run up slopes, through narrow, rocky, wet-leaved passages, through tall-grassed fields, down a concrete road to a stop sign and back.

               (half-way up the hill)

Mrs.  S., I forgot my inhaler. I don’t think I’m going to be able to run today.

(I have water bottles, which is what is usually forgotten, but not the inhaler)

It’s ok Jill, you can walk it, then. Or just meet us by the tree and rest.

(Phoebe has a cramp so she walks, too)

We return to the meeting tree after the run. Bobby has acorns and is flinging them at all the boys. Suddenly, an acorn war. Burnished, pointy-tipped nuggets launched from every angle. Ted has bottled water that is everywhere but in the bottle. Jake has a frog, but I don't know this yet.


Mrs. S., Jake cheated! He cut through a path and went down to the pond. 

Jake releases a frog from his hands. Girlsyes, all the girlsscream. The frog leaps and almost hits Amy in the leg. More screams. Jake grabs the frog and brings it over to the edge of the woods and the other boys follow. The girls look at them with disapproval, shake their heads and hiss.


Let’s warm down now, guys. Boys! Yoohooover here!

(grabs a substantial stick and chases wandering geese down the hill)



Where's your whistle, Mom? Why don't you a have a whistle? Mrs. C. always has a Whistle.

I don't answer, I just sport an evil glare. Why don't I have a whistle? What I really need is a flogging stick  drink help.

(incredulous slightly irritated but with a smile closed lip grin)

Ok, kids. I think practice is over. Head back to the gym for your bags. Who's going to be at the meet tomorrow?

Hands fly up. All the girls will be there. 



And for one reason or another, none of the boys will make it.

This, and my daughter tells me I run with the crampers and asthmatics. Yes, well, I happen to be one of the asthmatics, also. And you, I remind her, were one of the crampers last week.

Once we ran in a massive rainstorm. That was fun.

Nevertheless, I think we're ready for the meet. The girls, that is. At least my little one (she'd better be).

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Friday Night Frolic" - The Flute of Rock

Do you recognize this man?

No?  Now do you recognize this man?

Yes! That's right—one in the same—Ian Anderson.

Ian Anderson: the singer/flautist/minstrel/contortionist/possessed pirate/Marty Feldman-eyed voice behind the legendary Jethro Tull. Now 63 years old, Ian is still actively touring with Tull (at an average of 100 shows a year), along with a generous schedule of solo concerts around the world. 

Ian Anderson—now and then:

From A Song for Jeffrey, to the celebrated vagabond Aqualung, to Beethoven's 9th, to Rupi's Dance, Ian Anderson's work is pure, magical artistry. And you can see Ian in Rhode Island this November 21st at Veterans Memorial Auditorium

I wonder if he still does that thing with his leg?

By George, the old Scotsman does!

Friday, October 1, 2010

"Friday Night Frolic" - Arriba!

Hands down, Calexicohailing from Tuscon, Arizonais one of the most talented, original, and diverse group of musicians today. If I were obliged to choose one band that encapsulates the American experience, as it is today, Calexico would be my pick. Like the USA, Calexico's music is a brilliant admix of many styles and flavors. Fusing world, rock, Spanish (flamenco, mariachi), jazz, folk, blues and country, this band has spawned one of the most unique sounds in the music industry. 

It is virtually impossible to lump Calexico into any distinct musical genre, which is what is so exciting about this band—they are pioneering a brand of contemporary music that has no particular taxonomy. Comprised of six members (but often collaborating with others), the group, collectively, plays  approximately fifteen different instruments, including the vibraphone, cello, accordion, steel guitar, and glockenspiel.

The song Roka (Garden Ruin2006) captures the evolution and essence of this band, evoking the American West (think Sergio Leoneas in Frontera, from Calexico's seminal album The Black Light1998) with its Latin swing, Southwestern spice and wide open spaces. Listen to Roka below. You'll want to dance, swagger, kick up the dust, collapse in a woven hammock, close your eyes and sip a cool mojito:

And my personal favoritecutting to the heart of the great immigration debate, a narrative of desperate circumstances, a flight across the southern borderis the song Across the Wire (Feast of Wire—2003). Pepe Romero embracing John Prine under a sweeping Texan sky (and if you haven't seen John in concert, I highly recommend it).


Have a wonderful weekend...
Adios Amigos!