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Archive for the ‘Lore Segal’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: KAIA KATER-Tiny Desk Concert #832 (March 13, 2019).

This Tiny Desk Concert was posted under a different category than the others and so does not appear on the Tiny Desk page (yet).  In order to find it you need this link.

The expectation upon seeing a banjo hanging is one of rollicking rowdiness, but when Kaia Kater began to strum her five-string, the mood in the office turned plaintive and a bit mournful. The Afro-Caribbean-Canadian singer and songwriter, who studied Appalachian music at West Virginia’s Davis & Elkins College, often references the Black Lives Matter movement, within a music form that doesn’t exactly snap to mind as being in dialogue with modern issues.

“Nine Pin” is, indeed, a slow, plaintive song with great lyrics.  After a couple of verses, the band (it wasn’t obvious she had one) adds some very sparse accompaniment–low upright bass notes, gentle guitar chords and brushed drums.

These days, Kaia Kater records for Smithsonian Folkways, and some of the songs she brought to the Tiny Desk come from her recent recording Grenades, a record she worked on while exploring her father’s home country of Grenada.

The song feels old, except for the lyrics.

These clothes you gave me don’t fit right
The belt is loose and the noose is tight

and I love the chorus which seems like it should be sung quickly but in the way she sings it it’s meaningful

I’ll be your nine pin, eight ball, seventh day, six pound, diamond quarter girl

Before she gets to “Canyonland” she introduces her band: Andrew Ryan: bass; Brad Kilpatrick: drums; Daniel Rougeau: electric guitar, lap steel guitar.

She says this is from her new album and begins a much faster, but still quiet, banjo picking.  The bowed bass adds a new kind of tension.  The lap steel guitar brings a different kind of tension, especially when the song speeds up for the second half of the song.  This song is compelling in a different way.

I find it interesting that she seems to have a more Canadian delivery (based on the Canadian country/Americana that I know of) which I rather like.

Before the final song she speaks about Grenada and how it impacted the title of her album Grenades.

It’s a country that has “experienced a lot of political turmoil,” she says. “My father left when he was 16 years old and he came to Canada as a refugee, on his own. It’s a story I ran away from for a long time, where I didn’t want to reconcile with myself being this kind of hyphenated Canadian.”

For this final song she doesn’t play an instrument.  She just sings (in a lovely torch song vocal).  Without the banjo, the entire tone of the song is different.  The guitars, bass and drums make this song far more jazzy than folkie.  But it works well once again with those lyrics in which

Kaiatries to come to terms with that history “Rain heavy like carpet bombs, sweetgrass, and lemonade / Fold the memory into your arms and whisper it away.”

There’s much power in her understated style.

[READ: March 21, 2019] “Dandelion”

I rarely think much about how old an author is.  For the most part it’s not relevant unless the story identifies intensely with someone of a certain age.  So this story begins, in a surprisingly clumsy opening that you need to unpack:

That Henry James, when he got old, rewrote his early work was my excuse for revisiting , at ninety, a story I had written in my twenties.

Segal is 91 so this is not a far-fetched claim, although it is a bit odd to include within the story itself.

The original story (unnamed in this story, if it exists at all) is about a hike that she and her father took up a mountain.  She had wished her mother had come too, but her mother had had a migraine. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PETER SILBERMAN-Tiny Desk Concert #617 (May 5, 2017).

I didn’t realize that Peter Silberman was the singer for The Antlers.  I also had no idea about what happened to him:

Something happened to Peter Silberman — singer and guitarist for The Antlers, a band known for its loud, soaring crescendoes — that hushed his life. In a conversation we had, he described a medical condition related to tinnitus. He’d experienced the ringing before, but this was even more intense. “I don’t even know if ringing is really the right way to describe it, because it really sounded more like rushing water. This was at a level I’d never experienced before and it was really all-consuming, it took over. Playing music at all was out of the question. The sound of my own voice reverberating in my head was very painful — I had to just be more or less silent while this was happening.”

After a time, he tried to make music again. “I started trying to play again and trying to sing again, testing where the boundary was of the sensitivity and of the pain. What I found was that if I sang very quietly and if I played guitar very quietly, that this would be a path for me.” The result is his first solo album under his own name, a record called Impermanence. These are songs in slow motion; the builds are less about crescendo and more about subtle change. Peter is joined by Timothy Mislock, a former guitarist for The Antlers. It’s a set of songs meant to slow the pace of life. Have patience.

The blurb says that this may be the quietest Tiny Desk Concert, but it’s actually not all that quiet–perhaps it is just mic’d well.  What it is though is slow and delicate.

The Concert is 23 minutes long and they play 3 songs.  “Karuna” sets the tone: It’s ten minutes long.  There’s delicate chords and notes and Silberman’s voice.  It takes nearly 6 minutes before the second guitar comes in.  It doesn’t really have anything catchy in it and it’s so slow that I lost track of the words as well.

“Ahimsa” is 7 minutes long and is a little more catchy in the chorus: “no violence, no violence today.”

For the final song, “Maya,” it’s just him for 8 minutes.

These songs stretch out, are practically ambient and for me at least, kind of drift in an d out without leaving an y real impression.

[READ: February 21, 2017] “Ladies’ Lunch”

This is the story of Lotte.  Lotte lives in New York in an apartment that was “commodious” with a gorgeous view.   But Lotte hates the fact that she has a caregiver.  The caregiver was there to watch her and to make sure she didn’t eat too much bread.  Lotte was very deliberate in her dislike for this caregiver.

It is up to Lotte’s son, Sam, to make sure that Lotte is taken care of–and to deal with the problems when Lotte gets abusive to the caregivers.

The only thing that Lotte enjoys is her Ladies Lunch.  The lunch is five women who live in Manhattan and have grown old together.  They’ve met every month or so for the last thirty years.  They save all of their most exciting stories for the lunch.  The ladies ask Lotte whats wrong with this caregiver.  And Lotte explains: that’s she’s in my living room and my kitchen and my bathroom. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GUSTER-World Cafe Live December 3, 2010 (2010).

I heard that Guster was going to be on the Free at Noon show about fifteen minutes before it started (and then I had to go to work). So I missed this show.  I was pretty excited to see that it was available on World Cafe Live.  But I was surprised to see that the show (plus a fourteen minute interview!) was only about 28 minutes long.  I’ve had questions about how the World Cafe shows work.  It always seems like the show would be longer (four songs for a concert seems like more trouble than its worth).  And then I found…

This page which helps explain the World Cafe stage a bit more.  The Guster concert was a Free at Noon show for WXPN in Philadelphia. The full set list was Set List:  1. Architects & Engineers  2. Satellite  3. Hercules  4. This Could All Be Yours  5. Bad Bad World  6. Stay With Me, Jesus  7. Do You Love Me  8. Hang On.  So the World Cafe archives truncate the sets (which is what it feels like on some of the shows–at least the ones that have an audience).

But then beggars can’t be choosers (especially for a free show).  So, this download includes:  Satellite, This Could All Be Yours, Stay With Me, Jesus and Do You Love Me (plus the lengthy interview).  The set is fantastic (as you expect from Guster), their harmonies are tight and sharp, the songs sound wonderful and they are catchy as all get out.  Two of these songs are from their new album, and they work perfectly with the older ones (even if they do slow things down a wee bit).

The interview is also interesting as it reveals the guys to be smart and thoughtful and it shows a side of them that’s not always apparent from their songs.  It’s a wonderful download.  Thanks NPR.

[READ: April 16, 2011] “The Ice Worm”

This story began as one thing and then turned into something else entirely. As the story opens, Ilka Weiss is in a nursing home, and we learn that her daughter, Maggie, has come to take her home (even though the nurses think she should stay).  When we see Ilka, she is reciting the Bible from memory (the passage where King David is going to fight the Philistines).  This goes on for a page (a funny scene with the family interrupting her but her continuing unabated), but it sets a certain tone for the story.

The next scene sees Maggie getting the runaround in bureaucratic hell as she tries to arrange for a visiting nurse to come for her mother.  It is an absolute hell of misinformation.  And she is not able to secure anything for two weeks.  When they finally call back, Maggie has taken Ilka to the hospital. (more…)

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