Archive for the ‘Pink Floyd’ Category

[ATTENDED: September 23, 2022] Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets [rescheduled from January 25, 2021]

Back in 2019 I saw Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets play old, obscure and unpopular Pink Floyd songs.  And it was awesome.

When he first came up with the idea:

Mason says he wished to revisit songs that were staples of early Pink Floyd shows from 1969–1972, as well as other songs that were never performed live by Pink Floyd during this era. Mason said the group was not a tribute band, but that they wanted to “capture the spirit” of the era.  And they were going to play some of “Atom Heart Mother,” my personal favorite.

The band would consist of (and still does) Dom Beken on keys, Lee Harris and Gary Kemp on guitars and vocals, and long time Pink Floyd collaborator Guy Pratt (man, he has played with EVERYBODY) on bass and vocals.

I enjoyed the Met Philly’s experience.  But this time the show was going to be at the Miller Theater, part of the Kimmel Music Center complex.  Although I was quite far back and I said

I didn’t get a close seat because I didn’t really think it would be worthwhile.  But if he tours this show again (maybe with one or two different songs?) I would see them again, but I’d be much closer.

But this time, I decided to get even further away (sort of).  I grabbed a seat in the top tier (4th balcony), but in the front row.  I had a GREAT view!  Until I realized that the metal safety bar was EXACTLY at my eye line when I sat back.  So I had to lean up or down to see the whole stage. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 25, 2022] Marco Benevento

Almost exactly five years ago to the day I saw Marco Benevento headline a show at the Ardmore Music Hall.  That show blew me away, it was so much fun.  The whole band: Marco on keyboards, Karina Rykman on bass and Andy Borger on drums were terrific.  And the three of them laid down a fantastic groove all night.

The trio was almost the same tonight. This time Dave Butler was on drums, but it was still Marco and Karina.  I looked up Karina and found that she is 23, which means she was 18 last time!  She was fantastic then and even better tonight.

There was supposed to be an opening act: Deer Scout.  But for whatever reason, they didn’t come and it was announced a few days ago that Marco would play two sets.

I arrived a little later than I wanted to, but he didn’t go on exactly at 8, so that was fine.  I was also amused because for the first time in a while, I was one of the youngest people there.

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead had played three nights in Philly a few weeks ago and it was clear that people who were at that show were here as well (Marco plays with JRAD, although his music is not similar at all).  There was a lot of tie-dye and a lot of long gray beards.  I decided not to get mixed up with that crowd so I hung back a bit. (more…)

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[POSTPONED: January 25, 2021] Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets [moved to September 23, 2022]

indexI saw the Saucerful of Secrets show back in 2019 and loved it.  I had okay seats, so I wanted to get closer if they ever did another one (which I never imaged they would).

And yet here they were…  timing their show right during the COVID resurgence.

This was supposed to be a very busy week of shows.  All but one has been postponed.  However, it’s a cold and blustery January night and The Kimmel Center is a hassle to get to at the best of times, so I can certainly wait until the Spring when I won’t mind a multi-block walk.





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In 1960, Cliff Richard’s backing band released this instrumental that shot to the top of the British charts.  The song was named after the 1954 film Apache.

The band had a signature sound.  Hank Marvin used an echo box and a tremolo bar on his Fender guitar.  The melodic bass was by Jet Harris.  Percussion was by Tony Meehan and Cliff Richard, who played a Chinese drum at the beginning and end to provide an atmosphere of stereotypically Native American music.

It has been cited by a generation of guitarists as inspirational and is considered one of the most influential British rock 45s of the pre-Beatles era because of the appeal of “that kind of Hawaiian sounding lead guitar … plus the beat.”

The song is really catchy with a surf guitar/Western riff and the rumbling drums.  There’s a few parts which create some drama and forward motion.

[READ: June 29, 2021] Beeswing

I’ve been a fan of Richard Thompson since about 1993.  I’ve seen him live about ten times and I’ve listened to most of his earlier work (including most of his Fairport Convention stuff).

I don’t love all the Fairport material.  I likesome of it, but I never really got into it that much.  And, I never really thought about what it was like being in Fairport back in the late 60s.  So this autobiography was a strange thing for me.  Seemed like an obvious read and yet it’s about an era that I didn’t have a lot of interest in.

Which proved to be the perfect combination.

Richard starts the book in the early 1960s. I was a little concerned because I really didn’t like the opening page–the style concerned me.  But the idea that dust and fog were so pervasive in London that it cast a haze over everything was pretty interesting.  Especially when he says that explains the state of London artistry–soft and fuzzy because of the haze.

Then he moves on to himself.  His family was pretty traditional–his father was a policeman.  He was not interested in school and a normal career. (more…)

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june8SOUNDTRACK: KAWABATA MAKOTO [河端一]–Undead Underdrive Electrique (2019).

a3667527135_16Recently, Kawabata Makoto [河端一], mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple, revealed a new bandcamp site for some newer solo recordings.

These are mostly abstract and meandering.  On this release he uses synthesizer and  electric guitar (and I hear a theremin).

Both of these tracks are similar although there is a clear distinction of style.

Part 1 is 22:52.  It is primarily the theremin sounds and sounds a lot like the middle siren-sounding section of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes,” but for twenty minutes.

Part 2 is 23 minutes.  It stars with a throbbing helicopter sounding pulse.  There’s lots of static and squelchy sounds.  Around 8 minutes in, it sounds vaguely outer-space like.  At 14 minutes it turns mechanical and like its breaking up and then the high siren returns.

[READ: June 9, 2020] “Praying”

This issue of the New Yorker has four one page essays called “Close Encounters.”  Since I like all of the authors, I was looking forward to reading them all.

Miranda July writes unusual pieces.  They don’t always make sense to me, but they’;re usually fun to read.  I often feel like Miranda is on a whole different wavelength than I am.

So, as this essay starts she talks bout going to the library and using her own method for finding a book.

She overhears a conversation and picks out a prominent word.  She searched for that word in the catalog and then pick the first author who shared a first or last name with someone she knew.  She would either take out that book or open it and pick out a word at random and resume the search until something grabbed her.  (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: MELLOTRON VARIATIONS-Tiny Desk Concert #954 (March 3, 2020).

Most Tiny Desk Concerts list the musicians and what instrument they play.  So I got a kick out of this lineup:

John Medeski: Mellotron; Jonathan Kirkscey: Mellotron; Robby Grant: Mellotron; Pat Sansone: Mellotron.  [that’s the lineup left to right].

Indeed, Mellotron Variations are four guys standing behind Mellotrons making a universe of sounds.

The Mellotron was a magical 1960s invention that predates sampling. It’s a keyboard instrument, with each piano key triggering a tape loop — the sound could be a string ensemble, a flamenco guitar, a saxophone and so much more. Think about the flute sounds on The Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever” and you get the idea.

We’ve never had an original Mellotron at the Tiny Desk until now. Much like a Hammond organ, it’s big, heavy and fragile. When they fired it up, with all its mechanical gears turning tape loops and moving play heads, the 15-year-old geek in me blissed out.

Pat Sansone introduces the band and gives a fascinating history of the Mellotron and how it works.  Each of the 35 keys plays a magnetic tape like on a reel to reel player (I remotely understand that and it is cool to see the mechanism at work).  The modern ones, still made by Mellotron are all digital.

When Mellotron Variations keyboardist Robby Grant and I began discussing an all-Mellotron Tiny Desk, we quickly realized that having four of these beasts wouldn’t fit behind my desk. So Robby Grant, Pat Sansone (Wilco) and Jonathan Kirkscey performed on the portable — and still incredible-sounding — 21st-century version of the instrument. At the same time, John Medeski (Medeski, Martin & Wood) tackled the original beast.

The band plays three songs.  The first, “Agent Cha Cha” sounds like a trippy spy movie.  It’s really fun watching Medeski play the original machine and seeing him kind of forcibly make the sounds do what he wants–I guess he is literally slowing down the tape that’s playing?

Robby Grant seems to handle all of the drums and percussion.  It’s then fun to watch as Sansone holds down one key to get a 60’s cartoon melody mid song.

Jonathan Kirkscey and Robby Grant play some real spacey, synthy sounds as they segue into the next song.

“Dulcimer Bill” opens with some dulcimer sounds.  It is trippy and spacey sounding for a bit and then Sansone plays what S. immediately recognized as the opening to The Beatles’ “Bungalow Bill.”  I assume Sansone has simply sampled the guitar as he plays it with one key.  The end of the song sounds so incredibly 70s (Pink Floyd all over the place)

The sonic landscape they produce as Mellotron Variations is ingenious and impressive. It’s a score with the audience as collective filmmaker, each one of us capable of creating imagery in our heads to this music of mystery and sometimes comedy. In the words of my teenaged self, “it was a trip.”

The trip concluded with “Pulsar.”  The song opens with industrial space sounds from Kirkscey while Medeski plays flute loops. Grant adds the drums while Sansone plays a kind of harpsichord in space.

[READ: March 30, 2020] “Futures”

This is a story about tennis.

It reminded me a lot of David Foster Wallace’s essay about Roger Federer.  Not because it was like it in any way, but because the one character felt about Federer the way Wallace did.

But that aspect is somewhat minimal in terms of the plot.

The story Toby lives with his father.  Toby was supposed to become an professional tennis player, but he was never quite good enough.  But Toby’s father insisted upon hosting a young Asian tennis player every year–in part to bet upon his success (Toby’s father was a gambler) but also to have a tennis pro around to help Toby get better. (more…)

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I have been aware of Thor Harris for years.  He’s played in bands that I like and he’s played with musicians I like.

He’s an amazing all-around musician, even if his first/main instrument is drums/percussion.

Thor is also a craftsman–making his own instruments and all manner of other things.

So, when Joyful Noise Records announced that he was their artist in residence this year, I definitely wanted to see what he would come up with.

And so, he has created a 6 LP box set.  And by created, I mean he created the boxes (not the record sleeves, I don’t think) by hand and hand colored each one.  he also drew the album covers.

The first album in the collection (according to the list on the back) is this one, Is Adam OK.

The basis for this recording is this:

When musicians are working on a “song” or a specific “piece”, they are using a certain part of their conscious brains. But before the super narcissistic band leader shows up and takes the reins, they will often hang out making stream-of-consciousnesses music that is often more interesting than the conscripted “songs”.

I really enjoyed this observation about virtuosos and about himself

Interesting things happen when a musician is playing out of her comfort zone. This can be achieved by playing an instrument that you don’t usually play or by playing out of your usual genre. If you hand a guy an electric guitar and he grew up on rock and roll, the outcome is somewhat predictable at this point, mimicry of 50 years of rock and blues players. This is why virtuosos are boring to watch after a few minutes of amazement. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been asked to “play dumber” when recording drum tracks. I spent much of my youth learning hot drum licks, then my early 20s learning not to ever do them.

The first song, “Is Adam OK?” is a 22 minute improv piece.

On “Is Adam OK?” I sat at the piano prepared with sweaters across the strings. Virtuoso, multi-instrumentalist, super-freak Greg Saunier sat beside me at the piano and off into the abyss we wandered for 22 minutes.

The musicians are Thor Harris – piano, xylophone, bass drum; Greg Saunier – piano, vibraphone, bass drum; Jasamine White-Gluz – organ; Sima Cunningham – vocals; Macie Stewart – vocals; Adam Harding – vocals, field recordings, toilet flushing; C.J. Boyd – bass guitar, vocals; Daniel Smith – vocals; Kid Millions – seed husks

The piece starts with repeated piano motif. You can hear the “mistakes” as they hit the “wrong” note or go out of time, but that’s sort of the point of this piece.  Around seven minutes, the vocalists start singing like the middle of Pink Floyd’s “Atom Heart Mother.”  I rather like when, around 8 minutes, the percussion comes in and then the bass drum at 10 minutes adds a whole new layer of texture.  By 21 minutes the piece has circled back to the quiet opening with just piano and xylophone.  And it all ends with a flushing toilet

The second track, “Kindest Regards Mr Mapfumo” is 11 minutes long and feels a little less improvised.

I started “Kindest Regards Mr Mapfumo” hoping for a Steve Reich kind of 12/8 piece, but ended up with a Thomas Mapfumo kind of 12/8. A pleasant misstep. The driving instrument is an electric tongue drum that I built. I will soon put instructions for building one yourself on Instagram. I ran it thru an Old Blood chorus/delay/distortion pedal.

Thor Harris – electric tongue drum, Casio organ, marimba; Sarah “Goat” Gautier – organ; Jasamine White-Gluz – guitar; C.J. Boyd – double bass; Sima Cunningham – vocals; Macie Stewart – vocals; Marina Tadic – vocals, güiro; Adam Harding – vocals, Mellotron, guitar, güiro

The tongue drum sounds like a modifed (loud) jaw harp–a cool vibrating sound.  OHMME add some unusual vocals to the song and then a double bass comes in to ground it somewhat.  Around half way through you can totally get lost on all of the various waves of sound that wash over the tongue drum, which feels aboriginal by this point.

The vocals around the 8 minute mark are just lovely–intertwining “do do dos” that flow around almost like an Esquivel space-age-bachelor-pad vocal line.

The third song “Grief Comes in Waves” is 9 minutes and is much more creepy.

On “Grief Comes in Waves”, Andy Stack, Monk Parker and I played layer upon layer of sax and clarinet in 7 minute slabs. We added some other bits and bobs, then sent them to others to have their way with them. Jad Fair, Ohmme, and Adam added things I never would have thought of.

Thor Harris – clarinet, kalimba, organ Andy Stack – alto saxophone, marimba Monk Parker – baritone saxophone, marimba Jad Fair – vocals Sima Cunningham – vocals Macie Stewart – vocals Adam Harding – vocals

The kalmiba and marimba make for some lovely echoing sounds , but its the repeated clarinet and saxophone rumbles and blasts combining with the low organ that create a field of tension.  The vocals are more keening than singing and help to build the air of discomfort.  There’s even  growling sound which could be a human voice or an instrument.

However around half way through, OHMME start singing some syncopated notes and it adds a feeling of hopefulness, somehow.  But the feeling of despair returns by the end, effectively demonstrating the waves of grief.

This is not easy listening, but then, one shouldn’t expect that from Thor Harris.

[READ: February 24, 2020] An Ocean of Despair

This is a short, illustrated story by Thor Harris.  Although I guess it’s not really a story so much as a telling of a low point in his life.

He says in 1992 he left Austin for San Francisco.  He hoped to recover his “Self-esteem and love for life.”  But instead he became terrified of social interaction.  It became so bad he woke up with tunnel vision.  He also began having panic attacks which made it hard for him to work.

He felt suicide would be an escape from the misery, an act of mercy.

In a moment of clarity he called his older sister.  She always made him feel like he was okay.  She brought him back to Texas, told him about depression (the disease) and thought that he might be able to get treatment. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: February 7, 2020] Suffacox [Mach 2]

When I entered Boot & Saddle, I saw that the opening band was named Suffacox.   I had never heard of Suffacox and was rather puzzled by the name.

I was even more surprised when I saw the band setting up because I was standing a few feet from the stage and a guy kind of squeezed in front of me (which I thought was kind of rude as there was so much empty space).  He then proceeded to remove his coat and soon enough I realized he was the guitarist for Suffacox.  Whoops.

When the band started, the guitarist, John Terlesky, told us that they were Suffacox… Mach 2.  He said that they had been a band in the mid 90s and now they were back together again.

In their first incarnation they were led by Wayne Hamilton (whom they spoke of as if I’d know who he was, which I don’t).  Hamilton has passed on and now the rest of the original band is back with an extra guitarist and a manager/backing vocalist. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: WEYES BLOOD–Tiny Desk Concert #923 (December 11, 2019).

The new Weyes Blood album has been on many people’s best of the of year lists. I hadn’t heard any of it but I’d read that it was lovely.

When I first listened to this Tiny Desk Concert, I really didn’t think much of it–couldn’t imagine what made this simple folk music so special.

But on a second (and third and fourth) listen, I heard a lot of the components that made it quite a beautiful set.

Nataile Mering sings and plays acoustic guitar.  Her voice reminds me a lot of Aimee Mann.

The blurb says that this set is

simple and restrained — a strummed guitar, two-part harmonies, a brushed beat — but still managed to re-create the majesty and wonder of the band’s latest release, Titanic Rising, one of 2019’s loftiest and most layered albums.

The music here is simple and straightforward–“rooted in ’70s folk-pop traditions, with mystical themes of rambling on to find meaning and purpose.”

“Andromeda,” an astral ode to love, set the tone with the acoustic guitar.  After a minute and a half there is a really cool otherworldly-sounding guitar solo from Stephen Heath.  It is just a slide on an electric guitar but it sounds very cool amid the folky quiet.  There is a very traditional organ sound from Walt McClements  filling in the spaces, but I think what really makes the song transcend folk are the fantastic backing vocals from bassist Eliana Athayde.  Whether it’s oohs and ahhs or harmonies, her contributions are monumental.

“Wild Time” is next and Athayde’s oohs are there supporting Mering’s gentle leads.  Like the previous song the acoustic guitar sets the pace with the keys filling in the gas and Andres Renteria’s drums keeping pace.  This time the standout sound from Heath’s guitar is a buzzing e-bow–an otherworldly insect buzzing around the song.  Near the end, Heath turns that buzz into a proper guitar solo and there’s a brief moment where I think Althayde and Mering are singing different lines at the same time.  The end of the song rings of early Pink Floyd with the piano sound and Heaths now noisy scratchy e-bow filed soloing.

The final song, “Picture Me Better,” is “a heartbreaking remembrance of a friend who died by suicide while Mering was working on the album.”  It’s the quietest song of the bunch.  Renteria leaves and it’s just acoustic guitar and keys with gentle electric guitar notes and Mering’s voice.  This time Athayde’s backing vocals add an otherworldly quality as we get lost in this song of loss and yearning.

It’s quite a lovely set, and if this is stripped down, I do wonder what a full-on, layered album must sound like.

[READ: December 16, 2019] “Sevastopol”

This was a story about writing stories.

The narrator, Nadia, receives a postcard from Klaus.  The postcard is of Sevastopol, although Klaus has never been there–he probably got it from a site like easterneuropeanjunk.com.

Klaus had rented a theater space in São Paulo (the story was written in Portuguese and translated by Zoë Perry) and called Nadia to insist that she come and help him fix it up.

They had met at the museum where she works.  He led a drama workshop and since staff could take classes for free she decided to check it out.  Klaus had directed a play which ran in a local theater.  Nadia hadn’t seen it, but her friend said it was awful.  Nevertheless, Nadia liked Klaus. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: December 12, 2019] Strand of Oaks

In 2016, Timothy Showalter played his second Strand of Oaks Winter Classic at Boot and Saddle.  I got a ticket for the third night, not really knowing what to expect.

It turned out to be a fantastic night of music and togetherness.

I missed the next year but went last year to Winter Classic IV.  Which was also great.

There was no way I was going miss Winter Classic V.  This year I went for the first night of the three.

The other two shows had opening acts announced, but there was none announced for my night.

I didn’t think we’d get an extra long show (Tim doesn’t do extra long shows).  Instead we got a cool improv by his partner for the night, Mike “Slo-Mo” Brenner. (more…)

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