Saturday, February 25, 2006

Say Uncle! (Sorry... I had to do it.)

Thought I'd throw this out in case anyone reading has friends in California or might just so happen to be at the right place at the right time. Danny Schmidt is heading your way! He sent out an e-mail a couple days ago, very excited about becoming an uncle. Couldn't be happier for the guy. I mean seriously, who can't see Danny being one of the coolest uncles ever? Anyway, here are the listings. Spread the word. He doesn't get out there too often, so this is really a treat for anyone who likes good singer songwriter folk music.

Thur 2/23 - Davis, CA
at the Delta of Venus
Show starts at 8:30
Shared show with the wonderful, Forest Sun

Fri Morning 2/24 - Davis, CA
KDVS Radio 90.3 FM
Sometime between 9:30am-12noon
In-studio performance on the radio program "Cool as Folk"
Listen online if you'd like:

Fri Night 2/24 - Vallejo, CA
Listen & Be Heard Cafe
Show starts at 8pm
With Forest Sun. Playing in between poetry sets.

Sorry about being late for these first three. I meant to get it out there sooner but life got complicated in my neck of the woods.

Sun 2/26 - San Anselmo, CA
Sleeping Lady Acoustic Music Series
Marin Coffee Roasters
635 San Anselmo Avenue
Doors at 6pm. I play promptly from 6:30-7:15pm
Larkyn Gayl & Forest Sun play from 7:45-9:00pm
For more info, call: (415) 250-0686

Mon 2/27 - Berkeley, CA
House Concert
Please email back for details & directions
And to RSVP. Thanks.

Wed 3/1 - Los Angeles, CA
Genghis Cohen
From 9-9:50pm
740 N. Fairfax Ave.

Sun 3/5 - Claremont, CA
Grove House at Pitzer College
Show starts at 8pm
For more info: (909) 621-8000

Saturday, February 18, 2006

This is not going to help break my habit of not doing homework!

I was going to link to this yesterday... but I forgot.


I've got ADHD on one side of my family and Alzheimer's on the other. So I might as well go out with a luagh.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Paul and Devon at Gravity Lounge for V-Day

Best way to spend Singles Appreciation Day (or Valentines Day for all you heathens) in my book is still got to be listening to Paul and Devon sing at the Gravity Lounge. It's listed as the third time they've done this, but I could have sworn it was their fourth. Either way, they're always a delight. Tickets go for $20 bucks but they come with a CD of duets they recorded for the event. They're worth it. I'm still singing Cigarettes and Whiskey from two years ago wherever I go. Great fun!

Just don't let it sell out before I can nab a ticket. Ok?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

On Peter Benchley

Peter Benchley's Jaws was one of the first books I ever read. Not just one of the first books by him that I read. I mean it was one of the first of three or four books that I ever read. It was literally something like One Fish, Two Fish, then Green Eggs and Ham, and then as best as I can recall... Jaws.

I was a difficult child to teach anything to that I wasn't interested in (not much has changed) and reading was very far from something that interested me. My mother and sisters tired, but I was pretty stubborn. One night at someone's house my sisters and some other kids were watching Jaws and my parents wouldn't let me watch it because I was too young.

Probably little more than a year later I was playing in my parents room when I came across the novel Jaws on my parent's bookshelf. I asked them to read it to me. Finding that there was a sex scene in chapter 1, they decided I was again too young for it. I really wanted to know what the big deal was. I loved sharks. I had picture books full of them. They were just as amazing to me as dinosaurs, if not more. So I asked them if it was ok if I read the book. That took them off guard. At that point I knew the alphabet and only the most basic words, and getting that into my head had been the equivalent of putting a tutu on a tiger. They said yes, and over a year I taught myself to read by reading the book, picking up grammatical patterns like silent e's and ph sounds as I went along. Incidentally, I don't recall liking the book.

Reading and writing were progressed during and after Jaws by playing Sierra adventure games like King's Quest 4 that used text commands. I also learned a lot by setting my TV to closed caption and following along. A few years later my love of everything to do with the Alien trilogy, led me to devour the Dark Horse Aliens series. A couple books into them, my parents received easily the most surprising Christmas request from me ever. I wanted a copy of The Lord of the Rings. I wish I could have seen their faces when they walked into the bookstore to get their son, who hated reading, a five pound novel that he wanted to read.

Time would show that "too young" were very dangerous words to use around me, at least when it was a matter of maturity. A seed was planted by that incident which has lead to a mild obsession with the issues of censorship, what is and isn't inappropriate, and the nature of why. My shelves are full of formally banned books from the beat era and beyond. Because of these, I'm even thinking about becoming and english teacher.

It seems like if you trace back the events of your life you can find a handful of moments that seemed to tip over the dominos of all that lead to your present. In many ways Benchley had a huge impact on me. It was through Jaws that I came into contact with several key things that have shaped who I am.

Now I'm sitting here, taking a break from my homework, coincidently wearing a Jaws t-shirt my ex-girlfriend gave me, reading his obituary.

Right time

Sheesh! Never noticed I forgot to set the clock on this blog.

Well... it's right now.

So there.

Snow angel.

I've been a bit of a snow Scrooge lately. I had this big trip to DC that I'd planned about a month or so in advance to see a friend for her birthday (which was actually last week). I haven't seen her or DC (one of my favorite cities) for about 2 years, and the mental break felt much needed as the days counted down. (Is it just me or hasn't give or take the last five weeks been universally stressful as hell for people?) Then came the complications. It was actually originally scheduled for Saturday of last week, but then she realized that wouldn't work for her. Then it was for Super Bowl Sunday, but I found complications on my end. Also, somewhere in the mix there were some parental concerns about terrorist attacks to add to the fun.

So we were all set to go today... but then we both came down with nasty bugs...

...and then came the wretched snow.

Most people I find get all excited about snow. I'm a grounds keeper. That kills most joy for the white stuff pretty quickly. So instead of wondering the museums and talking about the last two years and our obsessions (her's ballet and mine songwriting) inbetween Gollum impersonations, I get stuck shoveling snow with a sore throat and a history test to prepare for tomorrow.

Incidentally, Nine Inch Nails has been in steady rotation in my room.

Anyway... I just got some snow joy visually injected into me by a picture of my sister's dog taken earlier today that's getting a bit of attention on the web. Leave it to a dog to show ya what it's all about.

I think I'm going to switch over to Arcade Fire and finish my homework now.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Been thinking about hip hop in C-ville

So I've been carrying this old C-ville around in my backpack for a bit now. Thinking about something I read in it. It was Spencer's article about the upcoming GZA and DJ Muggs show. It's not that I have any problem with the article itself. Something just kind of struck me for the first time. I'd never really thought about the attitude towards hip hop in Charlottesville.

Now before I go much further I feel I should make this clear: I'm not a hip hop fan. Of the 260+ CDs I own I believe 2 of them are hip hop (not counting Tricky and Massive Attack which are trip hop). There are tons of songs I like. Lots of old stuff like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Fat Boys from the old days. I know a lot about some artists, but when you get down to it, I don't listen to hip hop on anything that would remotely be considered with even the most fleetingly scarcest of thoughts of anything that might possibly fall under or even near the vicinity of what could be defined as a regular basis. I'm a folkie. I like a lot of different types of music, but hip hop has always been on the far outskirts of my taste... much like classical music actually.

The thing that struck me most in the article was the quote from Dana Murphy, the last owner of Trax: "I think rap has a very violent crowd. I won't have it here."

I can't help but recall how many shows I wanted to see when I was 12 through 14 at Trax that my parents would not let me go to due to all the fighting that it was known for. Had this been a quote from 1996 or 97 I'd understand... but at the same time I'd be even more taken back by how dated it was.

As I said, I'm not a big follower of rap and hip hop, so maybe I'm just out of touch with this new wave of gangsta wars and massive bloodshed. The little I've followed has been all steam and no gun smoke, the way it should be. But the truth is, most kinds of music have their violent crowds. What strikes me though is that as a lyricist, I can't help but see the potential in hip hop in town. It's easy to go on and on about all the sampling and the un-PC songs. It's easy as to dismiss it for its freeform, it's absence of complex structure melody. Yet the truth is, in many ways hip hop is the highest echelon for a lyrist. In one of the more ironic observations I've noticed, a lot of white singer songerwriters tend to say they don't rap because they don't want to pretend they're black and from the hood when they're not, (the blues anyone?) but really I think a lot more of it truely is that it's too hard for most of us. We listen to Dylan's Subterranean Homesick Blues and can't figure out what planet he must have come back from. Nowhere else is the rhythm of words so emphasized as hip hop. Like the bebop poets, a good rapper could hold their own with the most eccentric of jazz musicians, and unlike all but a few, they could do it without the musician having to hold back. Folk artists are more and more, in the search for creative new rhymes, leaning towards the old art of slant rhyming that poets like Dickinson used. No genre has pushed the envelope for slant rhyming like hip hop. Though, the thing I have to consider above all to be incredible about hip hop is the degree of spontaneity. Most raps are improvised... on the spot. That amazes me to no end. That most of this is what you get just off the back of an artist's head.

I'm happy to read that places like El Rey Del Taco are offering venues in town for local artists. I hope with time it can be accepted by even more venues. Not just so that a good number of the kids at The Music Resource Center can have the same opportunities that my young musician friends and I in rock, punk, folk and blues do, but also so that perhaps those scenes could mix more. I think beyond all the fear of violence and crap that everyone always throws out there about hip hop, the biggest aversion to the growing scene is the fear that the current scene will be lost. The only way I honestly could see that happening is if people stop playing and sit around bitching about how downtown is not as cool as it used to be. The downtown scene isn't threatened by hip hop it's threatened by us losing are local identity in the face of the university. That identity has always been diversity and the mix that comes from it. There has always been room for a wide variety of music and there always should be. I'd love to see how the more meticulous singer songwriter genres could influence and be influenced by hip hop. Consider G Love and Special Sauce, Beck, Red Hot Chilies Peppers, Jack Thompson, Wyclef Jean, The White Stripes (Get Behind Me Satan) and Corey Harris (Down Home Sophisticate) to name just a few off my head. I really can only see good coming out of it.

Also, I'd like to know how talented and underestimated (by me if no one else wants to fess up) some local hip hop artest really are.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Danny and Devon music online.

Danny Schmidt has joined the legions at MySpace it would seem. If anyone wants a taste of one of the best recent albums to come out I'd strongly recommend giving it a gander. It requires a special talent to over hype Danny's songwriting and perhaps an even greater talent to do it justice with few words. I'm pretty sure I lack both.

Devon Sproule has a new (well, new to me) live song up on her page called Let's Go Out that she performed at the Gravity Lounge. I really like it. Can't wait for her new album to be released.

Also, for those that are still reluctant about MySpace, Danny's albums are all now available on iTunes. So check'em out.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Last minute heads ups...

One thing about my life that's always kinda bugged me is how little room there is for spontaneity beyond a general pouncing distance. I guess when in odd moods I can come off as rather random and out there, but this is not a matter of having more of some quality than the average person. Mine is simply having that same quantity condensed. Some people can call each other up and say that so and so is playing, or what's-her-face is having a party tonight, and then go. Most of the time I'm lucky if I can make it to something with a one-week head's up. So my impulsiveness comes in the small can that you add water too... only without the water.

Most friends have learned well about my can of close range crazy, but I still get the occasional call or e-mail telling me I ought to be somewhere in 3 hours, which is usually as likely as a panda in a petting zoo getting its freak on.

Anyway, got an E-mail today that Lauren Hoffman is playing TONIGHT at the Gravity Lounge with Bella Morte unplugged!


Moral of the story: I need to read the entire calendars of places I like to go to.

Anyone who can, and wasn't already planning to, ought to check this out. I really shouldn't have to say why. Lauren Hoffman rules, and the concept of Bella Morte unplugged may or may not be new, but it's new to me. Sounds like a fantastic show.

Former Band Member Going Solo!

Annalise Lovelace has been fiddling around on and off with aspirations of a solo career for a while now. She was one of the masterminds behind the Bands Against Bush show in 2004 in the courtyard outside of the late Garden of Sheba that brought a wide variety of artists together, including The Civil-War Reenactors and Lauren Hoffman!

I was catching up with Annalise on IM a few weeks ago, before I took the big plunge back into PVCC. She told me about her new MySpace account that currently has three of her songs up. So I thought I'd do the old support thing and try to send some folks her way. I'm really happy with the stuff she has written since we last worked together. I'm particularly found of On Redemption. It's always great to see a friend still at it and improving with time. Hope she finds a good band and keeps it up.

Back in the Day...

Annalise was the guitarist for my former band Side Effects. Between late 2003 into 2004 we did a lot of practicing in the second story of the old Michie building, and a few gigs at No Shame Theater. It was a fun experience. We were primarily a trio, with the occasional walk in friend. Eric Hovermill was on drums and I sang. Near the end of the band's brief life, we were joined on bass by the mad pirate Caleb. Wherever he is now, I wish him much booty to plunder. Dude got me listening to the Violent Femms!

Anyway, we were a crazy mix to figure out how to fit together. Hovermill was listening to a lot of Led Zeppelin, Bob Marley, and a few harder bands he may or may not want me to repeat. Basically a skate punk drummer with a lot of Count Basie CDs in his closet. I was drowning in Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and lots of Bob Dylan with a healthy serving of the local folk scene. Annalise was very much (as she is now) on the indie-garage side of things and loved her some high distortion thrashing guitar goodness. We eventually found some common ground in our love of Pixies, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges (or maybe those were just my picks when I got to the stereo first during breaks). After Eric and I graduated from LEC and the Charlottesville branch of No Shame kicked the bucket, the band died out. Attempts were made to reanimate it, but with respect to geography and other life factors, it was clear at that point that we'd probably be more fulfilled working in our more natural genres. It was a far cry from a bitter breakup though.

NOTE: If you poke around the No Shame Script Library you'll find some of the songs we did and other things I wrote. The grammar and the spelling of some of them are... special... largely on account of:

A) Originally writing them at 2:00am or later.

B) Transcribing and submitting them at 2:00am or later.

C) Doing the above after getting home from performing them.

D) Microsoft Word and E-mail often go together like bear-baiting, German vodka and limbo music.