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Archive for the ‘Coronavirus’ Category

[POSTPONED: April 17, 2021] Ministry / KMFDM / Front Line Assembly [rescheduled from July 18, 2020; moved to October 17, 2021]

indexThis show was moved to April which seemed reasonable at the time.  I see now that it has been pushed back to October which actually seems optimistic.  I am very bummed to see that KMFDM is no longer on the tour, as They would have been a great opener.  I like Helmet, but I think KMFDM would have been more fun.  If I’m going to one of these two shows (Montclair being the other one) it would certainly Montclair.

I’ve been a fan of Ministry for decades.  I even liked the first album With Sympathy (and listen to it now more than their hardercore stuff).  But when Land of Rape and Honey came out, it was the most intense thing in the world. It was incredible.

They put out a series of great heavy albums, although by 1999’s Filth Pig either I stopped enjoying it or they just weren’t as good.

So I guess it has been two decades since I cared about Ministry.  However, Al Jourgensen and his band keep touring and, since I’ve seen Slayer now, I thought I should see what a ministry experience is like.

I wanted to go to their show in 2018, (I was really interested in seeing opening band Igorr) but the date just didn’t work for me.

Although I hadn’t yet gotten tickets for this show, I was looking forward to this retro bill.

I liked KMFDM more in theory than actually listening to them–I have one album I think). But I always appreciated them (especially the joke that their initials stand for Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode–actually it is Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, “no pity for the majority”).  Only one guy is still in the band, but I’d be curious to see what their proto-Rammstein show would be like.

Front Line Assembly was one of the few bands on the industrial label Waxtrax that I never really got into.  I liked many bands on the label, but really never had much exposure to FLA (in the days before you could listen to things online).   I’m curious what 1980s industrial music sounds like in 2020.

Now that I see that the show is also going to be at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, I will definitely try to get to that one instead.

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[POSTPONED: April 16, 2021] Ministry / KMFDM / Helmet / Front Line Assembly [rescheduled from July 18, 2020; moved to October 16, 2021]

indexThis show was moved to April which seemed reasonable at the time.  I see now that it has been pushed back to October which actually seems optimistic.  I am very bummed to see that KMFDM is no longer on the tour, as They would have been a great opener.  I like Helmet, but I think KMFDM would have been more fun.  If I’m going to one of these two shows (Philly the other one) it would certainly be this one.

I’ve been a fan of Ministry for decades.  I even liked the first album With Sympathy (and listen to it now more than their hardercore stuff).  But when Land of Rape and Honey came out, it was the most intense thing in the world. It was incredible.

They put out a series of great heavy albums, although by 1999’s Filth Pig either I stopped enjoying it or they just weren’t as good.

So I guess it has been two decades since I cared about Ministry.  However, Al Jourgensen and his band keep touring and, since I’ve seen Slayer now, I thought I should see what a ministry experience is like.

I wanted to go to their show in 2018, (I was really interested in seeing opening band Igorr) but the date just didn’t work for me.

Although I hadn’t yet gotten tickets for this show, I was looking forward to this retro bill.

I liked KMFDM more in theory than actually listening to them–I have one album I think). But I always appreciated them (especially the joke that their initials stand for Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode–actually it is Kein Mehrheit Für Die Mitleid, “no pity for the majority”).  Only one guy is still in the band, but I’d be curious to see what their proto-Rammstein show would be like.

Front Line Assembly was one of the few bands on the industrial label Waxtrax that I never really got into.  I liked many bands on the label, but really never had much exposure to FLA (in the days before you could listen to things online).   I’m curious what 1980s industrial music sounds like in 2020.

Now that I see that the show is also going to be at the Wellmont Theater in Montclair, I will definitely try to get to that one instead.

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[POSTPONED: April 15, 2021] They Might Be Giants [rescheduled from March 13, 2020 and September 8, 2020; moved to March 22, 2022]

indexThis show was originally scheduled for march 2020 and it now being rescheduled to March 2022.  It’s hard to believe that it will be two years.

So, with no opening date in sight, this is where we ask you for a big favor. Without a doubt our biggest expense has been refunding tickets for shows with new safe dates in 2021/2022.  The They Might Be Giants show has been officially moved to March 10 2022! With a date this far out, it ensures there will be no issues with TMBG touring and most important – we are near guaranteed to have a safe and normal show (finally!)

This was one of the first shows that was postponed because of the coronavirus.  The new date was scheduled very quickly and, as it turns out, too soon.

Now, like most shows, it is being pushed back about a year from its original date.  Boy I hope it holds out.

I am still very much looking forward to it.  Don’t give up on us yet, Johns!

March was going to be a very busy concert month for me.  This was to be the first of four shows in five nights.  This show was going to be for me and S.–a night of They Might Be Giants performing Flood!

It turned out to be the first of dozens of shows cancelled or postponed by the coronavirus.

Obviously, my main concern is for everyone’s safety, including the bands!

My selfish concern though is that once the shows are rescheduled that all of these shows will be scheduled on the same day!

Let’s hope the rescheduled dates also do some social distancing.

tmbg

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SOUNDTRACK-XAVIER OMÄR-Tiny Desk Concert #181 (March 15, 2021).

Xavier Omär has a fantastic voice–one that I thought was rather unexpected given his appearance.  He’s a pretty big guy and seems like he’d have a deep resonant voice, but his voice is really soft and high.  And powerful.

He’s also had a pretty interesting career.

Omär’s career began in Christian music under the moniker SPZRKT, before he moved into secular R&B and hip-hop. Through his first couple of projects and work with Seattle DJ and producer, Sango, the 27-year-old singer’s heart-on-sleeve approach quickly created a buzz.

He says that the whole band is from San Antonio Texas.

Xavier Omär decided to turn his Tiny Desk home concert into a whole Texas affair. Initially, Omär wanted to recreate the look of the Desk: “I wanted to kind of bring the feeling of Tiny Desk back, so I had booked a library,” he said. Ultimately the library didn’t work out, but Rosella Coffee and Wine in his home base of San Antonio proved to be a great match for his sound–spacious and airy.

“Like I Feel” opens with some grooving bass from Korey Davison and wailing sax from Kevin Davison.  Josh Greene adds some big drums fills and guitarist Billy Ray Blunt Jr. plays some wailing leads.  Xavier trades off lead vocals duties with Talyce Hays whose voice is also terrific.

During “Blind Man” he throws in some rapping–a softer cadence, but to good effect.  There’s some response backing vocals from Jay Wile while Alana Holmes and Hays fill in the backing vocals.   Lyrically the song is kinda lame (sweet, but lame), but there’s some cool musical moments–splashes of four notes and more than a few tempo changes.

For good measure, he plays the song that put him on the map, 2016’s “Blind Man.” This is undoubtedly Xavier Omär’s best live performance on record.

I had no idea that this was his breakthrough song.

He tells a quick story (it’s amusing) about how he wishes he was at the beach.  But even if he can’t get there he can think of the the rhythm of the waves and the “SURF.”  He says he could enjoy the surf because his woman has that “splah” (?).  Its’s a pretty ripping song with, again, surprising tempo changes.  The song has moments that I would say come from Frank Zappa’s oddball melodies.  Ands once again, the drums are massive.

He says “So Much More” is the wedding song of the year.  It features Justin Crawford on keys and is a much more mellow song than the other.  It also allows Xavier to really show off his voice.

The Alamo City resident and his cohorts orchestrated a charismatic and vocally rich show. The set list perfectly depicts the emotional arch of if You Feel. He’s on a clear path to greatness in R&B music.

It was probably a smart move to go secular.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “A Man in the Kitchen”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

Donald Antrim starts this rather sad memory with an amusing story.

His father learned how to cook when his mother served “hot tuna-and-mayonnaise casserole with potato chops as a decorative garnish.”

This story had become Received History in the family: “Baked mayonnaise! I had to take action!”

Soon cooking had become his father’s second full time job.  He taught literature at the University of Virginia and then he would drive around buying all of the food stuffs for their meals.  He would travel to different markets for different foods and he was an early adopter of the Cuisinart. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BLACK COFFEE-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #180 (March 11, 2021).

Black Coffee is such an excellent name.  And yet the music he creates is nothing like what I was expecting.

Born in Durban and raised in the Eastern Cape in Mthatha, Black Coffee’s subculture of soulful … house music has always been about love. It’s a form of sonic escapism that provides a sanctuary for all beings, regardless of race, age, or gender. Therefore, it’s only fitting that Black Coffee rocks a tee embossed with “I Heart You” across his chest.

Black Coffee stands behind a big mixing board as he generates most of the sounds.  Although next to him is Pansula on the drums.  And Pansula is possibly the real star of this set, with his persistent and powerful rhythms.

Black Coffee, a figurehead of the global South African dance movement, is known for his undeniable DJ sets and AfroHouse anthems that (under normal circumstances) light up dancefloors around the world. He brings that same feeling to his Tiny Desk (home) concert, but with a unique configuration: live instrumentation.

Kicking off the set is “You Rock My World” featuring Soulstar, a classic dance joint from his Africa Rising album whose convergence of pulsating percussion, a calming melody, and the sultry vibes of Soulstar’s voice feels like a spiritual palette cleanser.

It starts with drums and drums and more drums from Pansula.  Black Coffee’s samples provide most of the music with some fleshing out from Nduduzo on the keys.  Then Godfrey Mntambo plays some sultry sax as the lead melody.

The backing singers (Musa Nhlapho, Sandisiwe Sishuba and Bonokuhle Nkala-Mtsweni) start cooing and then lead singer Soulstar sings.

“Flava” is up next with lead vocals from Una Rams and Tellaman.  My favorite part comes at the end of each verse as Black Coffee thumps the bass and Pansula echoes with cymbals.  The gentle keys on this track provide some nice high end amid all the bass.

“Flava” and “Wish You Were Here” come from his new LP, Subconsciously, whose litany of special guests — include Diplo and Pharrell.

“Wish You Were Here” is a bit more mellow and includes a much wider array of samples–guitars, flutes and crashing sounds.  Singer Msaki has an Annie Lennox vibe and sounds really great.  Nduduzo plays a jazzy piano solo as the song nears the end, which adds a fun new component to this house song.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “Real Food”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains that when she was little she hated garri, a food served for lunch every day except Sunday in her house.  Her mother was concerned that she was not eating at all and sat with her to watch her eat the garri.

It was made in various ways, with different ingredients (primarily yams) but was always cooked, stirred or pounded in a mortar until it became a soft mash: “it was jokingly called ‘swallow,’ because one swallowed the morsels without chewing.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: COMING 2 AMERICA, SOUNDS OF ZAMUNDA-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #179 (March 10, 2021).

I thought that this name meant that it was the soundtrack for the movie.  But no, this release highlights

the new compilation Rhythms of Zamunda: Music Inspired By Coming 2 America.

Tenuous connection to the movie, perhaps, but the results are great:

six artists representing four countries in Africa perform a megamix of selections from the project. Each performance from the pan-African project bridges the distance between the countries and cultures.

The songs jump back and forth to different locations

In addition to the sweeping range of the showings, the look of each set is stunning: vibrant, opulent colors; meticulous Tiny Desk shelf recreations; gorgeous African artifacts; and a few nuggets dedicated to King Akeem of Coming 2 America.

The majority of the songs are filmed in South Africa.

South Africa’s Nasty C — who’s arguably the biggest rapper on the continent — opens the set and trades verses with Tiny Desk alumni Ari Lennox on “Black and White.”

The set looks like the original Tiny Desk Room with cluttered bookshelves.  I like the lines where Nasty C pauses before saying the last word.  Ari Lennox’s vocals are really great.  Fundile “FD” Dlamini plays drums while Christer Kobedi and Vaughan Fourie play keys.

He then sends us over to Cameroon for some Afrobeats flavor, courtesy of Locko and his stripped-down version of “Magnet.”

His book-filled room is also a nice backdrop.  I enjoyed this song more than the previous because of all the instrumentation–drums (Marc Nzana), guitar (Benjamin Mouangue Bossamo), cool bass (Joel Parfait Ondigui) and even a violin (Martien Oyono).  Brice Essomba fleshes out the songs on the keys.

We then circle back around to South Africa to hear from R&B newcomer Ricky Tyler.

It’s the same set as Nasty C, but this time with a full band.  There’s deep bass from Tendai “Shoxx” Shoko and soft guitars from Innocent Mzizi.  The keys from Zādok float throughout grounded by drums from Tino “Beatboy” Damba.

From there, we head north to Nigeria to do the “Jiggy Bop” with Alpha P.

Alpha P is lounging on a zebra bean bag chair.  Then his hype man (David Osang?) gets everyone going and then comes a seriously funky bass from Ayodele Agbabiaka Oluwasegun.  Rocking guitars from Best Amakhian and rocking drums from Ebenezer Olayinka really power this fun dancey jam.  Olabiyi Julius sprinkles melodies from the keyboards throughout.  The backing vocalists (Agu Chinyere Gift, Tosin “SDK” Tade, Femi Jacobs) keep the song flowing nicely.

Then it’s back to that original set as

we take one last trip to South Africa for award-winning dance DJ and producer Prince Kaybee’s “Fetch Your Life,” featuring Msaki.

I haven’t heard of Msaki but her voice is really beautiful.  Prince Kaybee lays down a thumping ground track (while wearing one glove to twist the knows).  There’s a cool guitar solo from Zādok (who returns to show off his multi-instrumental skills) and gentle keys from Fundile “FD” Dlamini.  Like with the other songs, the thumping bass, this time from Katleho Motlatla really grounds the song.

Finally, Togo duo Toofan dares us not to dance to “Yé Mama.”

This song has a great island feel with lots of percussion (Therence Egue), grooving bass (Martin Lawson) and vocals from Barabas and Masta Just in French.  When Lionel Adjovi plays his guitar licks you can really hear where Paul Simon got the tunes for Graceland.  Paul Akakpo keeps the sound full on the keys while Sylvie Akpedjo and Lamabara Paul provide backing vocals.

This is a pretty great introduction to music from all over Africa.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “Choke”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

Anthony Lane was in France on a student exchange program.  The family he stayed with was wonderful.  Until they dropped an artichoke on his plate.  It steamed with the promise of pure malice.

Can you imagine a food less appetizing than one that possessed: “bristles, bottom and choke.”

The family watched him in bemused delight as he tried not to look like a an irredeemable hick–not knowing what to do with this hand grenade

He watched Madame rip off a spiky leaf, dip it into butter and then eat the inside.  He followed suit and felt like Tigger eating one of Eeyore’s thistles. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKSAMPA THE GREAT-Tiny desk (Home) Concert #173 (February 23, 2021).

I thought that Sampa was actually Sammus, the indie rapper named after the character in Metroid.  So I was a little bummed to find out I had the wrong Sam… rapper.  But I quickly came over to Sampa’s style.

Sampa Tembo is better known as Sampa The Great, an understated title. In her Tiny Desk (home) concert, the poet, rapper and singer-songwriter delivers evidence that it’s more like Sampa the Greatest.  Initially raised in Botswana, Sampa moved to Australia as a young adult and established herself in Sydney’s hip-hop scene. There, she released two mixtapes, 2015’s The Great Mixtape and 2017’s award-winning Birds and the BEE9, all the while generating buzz. She had been based in Melbourne for the last four years, but the next chapter of her musical journey will find her at home in Zambia.

She plays four tracks and her live band is really solid.  She opens with “Rhymes To The East” which features a nice guitar riff by Samuel Masta.  I like the way the backing singers (l-r: Joy Tusankine Namwila, Mwanje Tembo, Tio Nason) sing the end of the rapped lines.

When Sampa really starts flowing her voice is great–a rough gravelly cadence with a Southern African/Australian accent.  It’s especially cool when she introduces the third verse with a snarl

Rhymes beast mother fucker
Tembo from the east put the beast in a trucker
Timbuktu, as I question all the loyalty
Build a big wall when you stole all of the royalties

The end of the song is really catchy, too.

The next three are from her 2019 album The Return.

“Mwana” opens with a drum solo Kasonde “Tek1” Sunkutu.  The song is mostly sung by the backing singers.  Then Sampa starts her flow.  Musically this song is much more spare with gentle keyboards Lazarus “Lalo” Zulu playing around the drums.

As she introduces the band, they jam, with some funky bass from Mapalo “Mapskeys” Mapalo which leads into an improv  that sounds like an island fun.

“Freedom” is up next.

Sampa Tembo is in Lusaka, Zambia, her landlocked African home country.  [She says] “Freedom is what we feel when we perform. And freedom is what the world is in need of right now. In this pandemic it feels like we all need a sense of freedom.”

“Freedom” features some terrific backing vocals. The end has a rocking jam as the singers all give up whooos and Masta plays a ripping solo.

When the camera is in full frame you can see that Sampa’s dress has a really long train which covers almost the entire floor (no wonder she sits through the whole set).

The set ends with “Final Form,” my favorite song of the set.  It’s got a big, heavy noisy riff with thumping bass and wailing guitars.  Her delivery is raw and raspy and really affecting.

The end is particularly cool as the band rocks out punctuating along and singing “Black power!” “Louder!” “Black power!”

Sampa is pretty great, indeed.

[READ: April 12, 2021] Parable of the Talents [2032]

Parable of the Sower ended on a vaguely optimistic note:  Lauren felt that they were ready to set up Acorn, the home of her Earthseed community.  Bankole thought there was no chance it would work.  But this is Lauren’s story, so we’ll assume that the story is tipped in her favor somewhat.

Plus, there’s a sequel, so things must work out reasonably well, right?

Well, surprise!

Parable of the Talents opens up with the news that Lauren is dead.

She is mostly called Olamina during this book because Bankole “doesn’t like my first name, so he ignores it.  That’s fair.  I didn’t like his first name either. It’s Taylor, by the way and I ignore it” (122).

This book is narrated by Olamina and Bankole’s child–unspecified gender and age in the Prologue, although by the end of this week’s reading we can assume the writer is their daughter [Bankole wants her named Beryl and Olamina wants her named almost anything that isn’t Beryl–“such an old fashioned name” (122).  The narrator later says something about high school, so it must be around 2050.

The child shares Olamina’s diary entries, but her basic attitude is that she hates her mother and thinks well of her father and wishes she knew him.

The book opens with this narrator saying “they’ll make a god of her” and the continues with something surprising about that

I think that would please her, if she could know about it.  In spite of all her protests and denials she’s always needed devoted, obedient follower–disciples–who would listen to her and believe everything she told them.  and she needed large events to manipulate.  All gods seem to need these things.  (7)

I never got the sense that Lauren wanted to be a god.  But maybe Olamina does.

She also tells us that Lauren’s middle name “Oya” is the name of a Nigerian Orisha–goddess f the Yoruba people (goddes of the wind, fire, and death, more bringers of great change (50).

Butler wrote this book five years after the Sower.  As I read Talent, I wondered what the intent of this story was. Had she planned all along to have a follower (child or otherwise) criticize Earthseed?  Had five years of thinking about Earthseed made her question the validity of Lauren’s ideas?  I don’t know anything about Butler, about whether she “agreed” with Lauren’s ideas or not.  I don’t have anything besides textual evidence to know how she felt about religion in general.  So was this book a commentary on her own ideas/ideals from five years earlier?  Or is this just interesting storytelling by having a new protagonist dispute the doctrine of the previous protagonist.  Especially if the bulk of this book is made up of Olamina’s diary entries (just like the first book was).

That’s right, even though the book is set after Olamina has died, the book so far is primarily her own diary entries from 2032, By the end of 2032, she is pregnant with, presumably, the person who is narrating this book and criticizing Olamina’s ideas. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKFLEET FOXES-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #178 (March 9, 2021).

I absolutely loved the first Fleet Foxes album.  The harmonies were just outstanding.  And then after a couple more records, Robin Pecknold pretty much made Fleet Foxes a solo project.  Since then I have found most of his songs to be really pleasant, but not all that memorable.

I’ve listened to the new album, Shore, a few times and only two or three songs really stand out for me.

But the sound of this Tiny Desk is amazing.

“I’m Robin Pecknold from Fleet Foxes. Thank you so much for asking me to find the tiniest desk I could, and sing unadorned for the first time in too long.”

With his guitar and that unadorned voice, Robin Pecknold performs four songs from Fleet Foxes’ 2020 album, Shore. … Robin wrote the songs while driving in the Catskills and (as you hear on “Going-to-the-Sun Road”) Montana, a place that feels like home.

“Going-to-the-Sun-Road” is a quietly picked song.  His voice sounds great and the melody is really lovely.  I think my favorite part might be the end where he sings in Spanish.

He gets an amazing sound from his acoustic guitar.  I can’t get over how softly he seems to be playing the strings and yet how full it sounds.

“Sunblind” is the catchiest song on the new album.  I hadn’t realized until reading this that it

pays homage to some of the greats that we’ve lost — some more recently, including David Berman and Richard Swift, and some long gone but still influential, like Elliott Smith, Curtis Mayfield, Jimi Hendrix and Judee Sill.

“Featherweight” is a reasonably catchy song–especially at the end where he has those repeating three note melodies.

“I’m Not My Season” ends he set with a slow, pretty ballad.  The song has some very nice melodies in it.

I’m curious how long it will take for this album to really resonate with me.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “Grandmother’s House”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

Nell Freudenberger was on a flight to Rochester–her grandmother had just died.  She was reading Amitav Ghosh’s novel The Hungry Tide which was set in the Sundarbans in Bangladesh: “one of the last places on earth where humans are occasionally consumed by tigers.”

A young couple sat next to her on the plane and the woman said she was born in the Sundarbans and that her grandmother still lived there. They exchanged contact information and the woman, Farah said that the next time she was returning to Bangladesh, Nell would have to go.

Farah had considered staying in a local guest house, but her nanu  and auntie were insulted that they would even think of not staying with them. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACKKIRK FRANKLIN-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #175 (February 25, 2021).

Religion is inextricably linked to gospel music, which I think is rather a shame became gospel music can be a lot of fun, regardless of the lyrics.

If I wanted religion in my music I would call on Kirk Franklin in a heartbeat.  His songs are super catchy and inspirational and he is a great band leader.

For nearly 30 years, Franklin has been widely regarded for revolutionizing gospel. He incorporated secular music, particularly hip-hop, while preserving the message and integrity of traditional gospel. Here, he and his powerhouse choir pace through a decades-long, sixteen Grammy award winning discography of faith, praise and encouragement while cracking plenty of jokes. I cannot recall a more moving Tiny Desk home performance.

The set begins with “Love Theory.”  Franklin doesn’t even sing on this one, leaving it up to the rest of his singers [from left to right Darian Elliot, Eboni Ellerson , Michael Bethany, Deon Yancey, Melodie Pace,  Tia Rudd] to croon the melodies.

He gets up and claps his hands.  He even does some dancing behind the keys.  His energy is undeniable.   And actually, this one could be secular: “I don’t love nobody but you.”  By the end of the song, he tells everyone to make it bounce y’all and the funky bass from Matthew Ramsey kicks in heavy.

Kirk Franklin, set up with his band and choir in a corner of Uncle Jessie’s Kitchen, makes a declaration. “I know you’re at home right now, in your draws, listening to some Jesus music. It’s ok. Jesus loves you in your draws!”  Those are your draws!  He blessed you with those draws.

“Silver and Gold” slows things down old school.  Franklin plays the piano but it’s all about the harmonies that the singers include.  They keep building on the word “gold” getting bigger and bigger to a huge, outstanding peak.

The Arlington, Texas studio, named after a long time close friend, features a large photo of the iconic “I AM A MAN” protest signs from the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike on the wall. The jubilant energy that Franklin and company emit, juxtaposed with a visual reminder of the strife that Black people have endured is illustrative of the importance of gospel music in the Black community.

He continues “If you still haven’t put any clothes on yet we gonna groove a little bit more. You in one sock, I see you with just one sock with a flip flop or a house shoe.  I see you.  You look crazy but Jesus loves you still.

“Melodies From Heaven” has a quieter intro, but it builds bigger and then Franklin gets up and dances around the room while Shaun Martin plays the keyboard and Terry Baker plays some crashing drums–But its all about that wild bass.

The song ends abruptly.  He says that’s all you gonna get now … but after the pandemic I’m coming to your house and I’m bringing everybody and we gonna do this in your living room, your living room–everybody gets a concert.

For the final song “I Smile” he gives this positive intro:

All you gotta do, no matter what you face, even if you don’t have all your teeth, even if you got one good tooth all you gotta do is smile.

It’s a fun, boppy song with some more terrific drums at the end.

If all church was like this, more people might go.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “Sixty-Nine Cents”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

Gary Shteyngart’s family moved to the United States when he was young and by the time he was fourteen, his accent was mostly gone.

He now had three goals: to go to Florida and Disneyworld, to have a girl say she liked him and to eat at McDonald’s.

His parents did not believe in spending money–they bought clothes “by weight on Orchard Street.”  Despite their frugality, their parents agreed on a trip to Disney.  The tickets were free after a timeshare presentation.
“You’re from Russia?
“Leningrad … please Disney tickets now.”

They drove to Florida and stayed in cheap motels along the way. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JACK HARLOW-Tiny Desk (Home) Concert #176 (March 3, 2021).

Tiny Desk had posted exclusively black artists for Black History Month.  So it feels really weird to follow that up with a white rapper.  And, yes, it feels even weirder to see him surrounded by all black musicians–although they seem to be really into it, so clearly I’m the only one who finds it odd.

Jack Harlow is apparently huge, but I’ve never heard of him.  I am greatly puzzled by his outfit in this video.  Are those leather pants?  I can’t tell.  And with that jacket–he looks really uncomfortable.

The Louisville, Ky., emcee delivers a performance with the confidence of an old pro. His set, however, is the first time he’s relied solely on live instrumentation to bring his songs to life. “It’s been a long time since I had a chance to perform and I’ve never done it like this,” he says.  Over the past few years, the 22-year-old rapper has steadily ticked the boxes for a successful career, and this showing undoubtedly checks the performer section.

Indeed, for my mocking in the first paragraph, his flow is really smooth–and apparently more than a bunch of his fans didn’t realize he was white.

I’m disappointed, though, to hear that he doesn’t normally play with a band because this band is tight a anything.  Bassist Joe Cleveland is hot throughout playing some great riffs and runs and “Rendezvous” is a good opening for showcasing his skills.

He says he’s going to play a few songs that he hasn’t played before.

“21C / Delta” really shows off the backing vocalists (Erik B, Chimera Patrice, Porcha Clay) who sing the final word of each line and sing the chorus.  “21C” segues into “Delta” which has some cool improvised keyboard melodies from O’Neil “Doctor O” Palmer.

The orchestration underscores his sentimental and introspective side on songs like “Same Guy” and “Funny Seeing You Here,” but it also elevates the melody, which is the true hero here.

“Funny Seeing You Here” is a quieter song (he sits on a stool for that one) and has a thoughtful side.

He used to say her man was trash and tell me ’bout the way he’d act
I would shake my head until I realized I’m the same as that
Now I wonder, did she tell her man that I’m a trash dude?

“Same Guy” is one of the most honest songs he’s ever written.  It’s got some really great basslines and big vocal flourish from the backing singers.

“Creme/ONCE MAY COMES” features some great drumming from Rico Nichols (his drums sound great throughout including the electronics–the reverse cymbal sound is particularly cool and the big bass really pounds.  “Creme” segues into “ONCE MAY COMES” which is a slower jam.

There’s an awkwardly fake moment before the last song, where he says “I can’t lie fellas, I’m having a really good time. You think we could do one more, maybe?”

Harlow landed a big hit last year in “WHATS POPPIN.” That performance earned him a Grammy nomination ahead of his very impressive debut album, Thats What They All Say.  [I can’t IMAGINE the outrage if he’d won]

Musically this song is really catchy–it’s understandable why this was big hit.  Throughout the set guitarist Rob Gueringer has played some great solos and chords in the background, but he never gets a moment to show off how good he is.  Except near the end of this song when he gets to play a ripping solo to end the set.

[READ: March 31, 2021] “Lunch”

The September 3, 2007 issue of the New Yorker contained several essays by their writers about the subject “Family Dinner.”

Cristina Henriquez details the joy of a family dinner held at lunch time.  This was either a Panama tradition or a family one–she was never sure which.

Every summer Cristina’s family would summer in Panama where her father grew up. It was very different from the Unites States but it was the same every year.

They stayed at her grandparents’ house and as Cristina woke up, she would smell the garlic that her grandmother was cooking in preparation for the lunch time feast. (more…)

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