Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Landfill Orchestra

Just in case you've not seen this yet. It was emailed to be by three different people today. That makes me very happy. This is important. And beautiful.

Landfill Harmonic is an upcoming feature-length documentary about a remarkable musical orchestra in Paraguay, where young musicians play instruments made from trash. For more information about the film, please visit facebook.com/landfillharmonicmovie.

 

Monday, November 12, 2012

I'm back baby! And fittingly, I bring you some of the dirtiest songs I know

I'm terribly sorry for the several month absence. The best excuse I can come up with is that I've been distracted by life, both wonderful and annoying. Let's just say that I'll get through all of it and life is grand.

At a recent Conspiracy of Venus retreat (my all women's pop choir) up at the American River, it was pointed out to me that I know lots of silly and dirty songs. Yes. I. Do. And I'm very proud of it.

So I figured I'd share some of them with you.

1) "Sit On My Face" by Monty Python. This song was first played for me in High School and I nearly peed my pants it was so funny.

For more, see Python's "The Penis Song".  I do love this one.

2) "Jizz in My Pants" by The Lonely Planet. The song has Justin Timberlake painted all over it, making it pop-tastic.
 

For another Lonely Planet classic, watch "Motherlover" featuring Justin Timberlake. This one of the most hilarious video I've ever seen and features Patricia Clarkson and Susan Sarandon.

3) "Till the Cows Come Home" by Lucille Bogan. Kim Kattari brought this vocalist to my attention. She is astoundingly dirty. I love that this music existed one hundre years ago. It makes even the dirtiest Top Forty tunes seem like church hymns.


For more info on Bogan see this article, and for another insanely dirty awesomeness song see "Shave 'em Dry" with lyrics like:
I got nipples on my titties
Big as the end of my thumb
I got somethin’ between my legs
That’ll make a dead man come.
I f***ked all night And the night before, baby
And I feel like I wanna f*** some more
Oh, grind me honey… and shave me dry
 You're welcome. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Outside Lands Fest Day 3 highlights: Italians, Africans, Bluegrass, and STEVIE WONDER

Stevie with one of his insanely hot backup singers.

Another year, another Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park. I (happily, these things are tiring) didn't get there all three days, but was surprised with a VIP ticket to Sunday, which was the BEST day to be there. Two words: STEVIE WONDER.

But first things first. We got there early to see this Italian dude Jovanotti, who was SUPER fun. His fabulously hooky song "Tutto L'Amore Che Ho" was featured on the festival's site and I just had to  see what his deal was.


Turns out this guy can rock a crowd, hard. His energy was infectious, reminding me of Manu Chao, like this video...



Toward the end Jovanotti popped down into the crowd (which was WAY smaller than what he usually plays for in Europe, I'm sure) and sang to us. Not bad for high noon.  I enjoyed seeing the sort of folks who knew who he was, and would get to the festival so early to see him.



"We usually play for three hours" Jovanotti said in the cutest Italian accent, "So we're trying to give you the highlights in forty minutes!


After some fried pickes from the Fabulous Frickle Brothers, we came across Dr. Flotsam's Hell Brew Revue, returning bigger and better than last year. "It's an extraordinary setup, envisioned and handmade by an artist named Mike Shine and his posse of Carny Bastards to evoke a family carnival ambience." (SFWeelkly blog)


And guess who was playing? The Brother's Comatose (a fabulous local bluegrass band)! And I later found out that's where The California Honeydrops and Tumbleweed Wanderers had been playing all weekend, to pretty large crows! I'm glad that local bands got to play for the throngs in such a fun and quirky spot.


Then we caught some of Caveman's brooding set, who I became familiar with after NPR featured them on one of their Tiny Desk Concerts. I love that their guitars are made by one of the band members and I love that dude's outfit. (Yes, I had some fun with the color saturation.)



And then it was onto Amadou & Mariam. The other highlight of the day for me. I've been wanting to see this Malian couple perform live since I first heard about them in grad school. My afropop ensemble covered a couple of their tunes (with varying success, this music is complicated!) And they did not disappoint! 

A totally oversaturated photo of Amadou y Mariam. With those colors I couldn't resist 



And then it was onto Mr. Stevie Wonder. HOLY SHIT. It was all I could have wanted. I mean the dude walked out onto stage with a freaking KEYTAR. He played all the hits, even the corny ones. That's OK Stevie, we'll let that go, because you can do whatever you want. Really WHATEVER you want. You're Stevie Wonder.


He really did whatever he wanted. It was pretty obvious that the band was pretty used to Stevie changing the order of the setlist, calling out keys and songs, and teaching them (Beatles) songs on the fly. Everyone was having a ball.

Aisha Morris, Stevie's daughter is second from the right.
I was particularly mesmerized (as I often am) by his backup singers. Not only were they too hot for words, but Aisha Morris, STEVIE'S DAUGHTER, is one of them. 

I heard that Metallica (who played the night before) was really fun, but I'll catch them next time. Two more artists checked off the bucket list: Stevie and Amadou & Mariam. w00t!

This is a cool photo of the Wine Land's tent. It's just purdy.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Singing the Berlioz Requiem at Davies Symphony Hall with 350 other musicians - a follow up

Robert Gurney conducts 250 singers - I'm right above his left hand. photo: Timothy Lee
I think it's safe to say that last Sunday, August 5th performing the Berlioz Requiem (and several other pieces) was one of the most exhilarating and exhausting musical experiences I've ever had. It's really special to pull off something so amazingly beautiful with 350 other people, with 1700 other people in attendance (check out the standing ovation).

Actually, I would have done it all just to hear the Richard Strauss Sprach Zarathustra, Fanfare (also known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey), which we did, four times. THAT was one of the most thrilling things I've ever sat through.
You can only see twelve, but I promise there were thirteen timpanis. Photo by me.
Watch the video below. There were 13 timpani (kettledrums) and it was absolutely incredible to hear them all get pounded at once. And that major chord they hit at 1:06? Just goosebumps all over... from what wasn't all tingly already. What an absolutely thrill. I was so excited after the first run through at the dress rehearsal I literally raised the roof. I felt like such a huge dork, but I loved seeing all the smiles on everyone else's faces. 




350 people strong. Photo: Timothy Lee
Performing the Requiem was equally as thrilling, and totally exhausting. This piece is something like 80 minutes long, and the chorus sings for most of it. As an Alto 2, I got to sit down a couple times, but that's it. And I kept wondering how the folks twice my age were faring. I was physically sore to the core for the next couple of days.

The group of musicians we worked with are the Redwood Orchestra, also a group of volunteers, from the peninsula. They were fabulous and conductor Eric Kujawski was a pleasure to work with. We lovingly called him "The Dude" because of his likeness to Jeff Bridges in the Big Lebowski

From the first balcony. Photo: Elisabeth Wakcher
One blogger (one of the 80 choristers that joined us from New York) wrote about one of the funniest moments at the dress rehearsal, Kujawski called things to a halt, saying:
MORE! We need MORE! You, in the back row (of the percussion section), what are you doing standing there! Find something and hit it!!
 Awesome.

Eric "The Dude" Kujawski - check out his shirt... photo: Timothy Lee
There's talk about going to Carnegie Hall next year. I'm on the list.

Cute photo of some of the Alto 2s. photo: John Martin


Friday, August 10, 2012

Vote for me to sing the National Anthem at AT&T Park!


My aunt Sharon is a huge opera fan, and she told me that Classical Bay Area radio station KDFC is having a little youtube competition to get someone to sing the national anthem before the Rigoletto Simulcast in AT&T Park on September 15th at 8pm.

So I figured why the hell not. I practiced in the car a little bit and then a couple days later I did one take on my computer. It's not perfect, but who cares?

VOTE FOR ME! And you can vote everyday if you want :)

Consider going to watch the Rigoletto simulcast at AT&T Park, it's super fun. You can sit on the field or in the stands and have a picnic. And it's FREE!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Bay Area music & videos I am digging: The Seshen, DRMS, and Zej & Calen

It's been a whirlwind year so far and I've been listening to so much amazing music. Here are just some of the highlights that have fun videos. All these guys have just released new material and are playing live shows this summer, so check 'em out.

Interesting little tidbit I just thought of: all of these bands funded projects successfully on kickstarter.

The Seshen - caught them live a couple weeks ago. Not only are they super nice people, but they are fabulous live. I'm loving the whole album, which you can stream here. Sorta Morcheeba, Erykah Badu-esque with dub step.



DRMS (pronounced "Dreams") - Emily Ritz's vocals are pretty magical. They also put on an awesome show with lots of percussion (vibraphone!), visuals and performance art elements. Listen to their new album here.



Zej and Calen - I just think this video is so sweet. I had the pleasure of interviewing these two on my podcast, check it out here (live performances!). Their music is sweet and thoughtful. I've been enjoying their new record "Last Station" full of love songs, many of them with environmental themes.
 
Sunday Train by Zej & Calen - Official Music Video from Bazooka Mama Productions on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jamie sings the Berlioz Requiem with 250 other people in Davies Symphony Hall

Next Sunday, August 5th at 3pm I will be performing one of the coolest pieces, the Berlioz Requiem, at Davies Symphony Hall with 250 other singers (San Francisco Lyric Chorus), the Redwood Symphony Orchestra and FOUR horn choirs.

The horn choirs are going to be placed in various corners of the hall, SURROUND SOUND.

I'm so excited about it.  It's going to be so kickass. Loud. Dramatic. So rock and roll.

Also on the program is that awesome Strauss piece appearing in 2001: A Space Odyssey, you know, the one with the monolith and the monkeys?

Read more about it here in my examiner.com article

Tickets are $20-45


Listen to the "Dies Irae" movement from the Requiem, this is one of the more dramatic movements.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I'm the editor of 'All Together Now: Women in Music' and it's a kickstarter campaign that needs your support


The photo above is my choir Conspiracy of Venus (I was not in the group when it was taken) by my friend, photographer Audra Marie Dewitt. The photographs are part of a book she's self-publishing called All Together Now: Women in Music. Right now there is a kickstarter campaign to get this book printed, and it needs your support!

Click here to see the kickstarter campaign. ONLY 7 MORE DAYS!

Read this post I wrote on Hear it Local's blog addressing why a book about female musicians is needed. This is a book for anyone who's ever wanted to stay true to themselves and "follow their bliss" (Thank you Miho Hatori)!

Audra gave me editor credit in the book, which is really awesome! In the last three years I've helped out and worked on researching and contacting artists as well as copy editing and marketing. I saw the mock up, which is gorgeous, and figured I had a hand in about half of the images. I'm very proud of this project.

Women included in All Together Now are on the famous side as well as unsung heroines of their genres. Here are some of the ladies that are in the book:
  • Corin Tucker, of Sleater Kinney, and The Corin Tucker Band
  • Exene Cervenka, of X, and Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners
  • Miho Hatori, of Cibo Matto, Gorillaz, and Smokey and Miho
  • Claire Evans, of Yacht
  • Sean Yesult, bassist of White Zombie
  • Noelle Scaggs, of Fitz and the Tantrums
  • Amanda Palmer, does she really need a byline?
  • Peaches, electro raunch queen
  • Theresa Andersson, Swedish born/New Orleans dwelling songstress
  • Jolie Holland, Americana singer-songwriter
  • Faye Carol, jazz/blues vocalist
  • Rachel Flotard, of Visqueen and backup vocalist for Neko Case
  • Rykarda Parasol, songwriter of dark metaphoric tunes
  • Grass Widow, SF postpunk phenoms.
  • Laura Bergmann, of The Family Crest
  • Netta Brielle, hip hop/R&B vocalist
  • Megan Smith, of SF based Misner & Smith
  • Melora, of Rasputina
  • Evie Ladin, old time banjo player
  • Kelly McFarling, Americana singer-songwriter
 Please consider contributing!

Friday, July 6, 2012

First blog post on Hear it Local "Think Like Amanda Palmer"

I'm very excited to announce that writing is finally PART of my job.

I started blogging back in 2008 because I needed to tell SOMEONE about what was inspiring me musically. I was out of graduate school and writing about music was no longer something I did on a daily basis, but I still had to do it.

I post here, I post on Examiner.com although I barely notice the pennies I get from them... however I do enjoy the free tickets and awesome seats I can sometimes score.

But, since Hear it Local is pushing super hard right now to make things happen and we've started publishing original content, I get to post a blog a week. IT'S PART OF MY JOB!

Luckily, I had written about Amanda Palmer (thanks to my friend Jessica) three years ago when she had blogged about why artists should demand financial respect from fans. Because of her recent super duper successful kickstarter campaign, it's something that is relevant again.

I'm pretty proud of this little piece of writing.

READ MY HEAR IT LOCAL POST HERE!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

'The Blues Brothers' (playlist!), 'Stand by Me' and Oakland's Paramount Theater

the lobby of the Paramount Theater
The Paramount Theater in Oakland is one of my favorite places to be. Not only is it incredibly gorgeous, I've seen two of my most favorite movies there this summer: 'Stand by Me' and 'the Blues Brothers' FOR FIVE BUCKS!

CLICK TO LISTEN TO MY 'BLUES BROTHERS' SPOTIFY PLAYLIST (or click play at the bottom of this post)

Both of these movies have two of my most favorite soundtracks of all time. So there has been lots of singing. There has also been boo'ing, cheering and lots giggling. There is something so wonderful about seeing a movie that is near and dear to your heart with a room full of people that love it too.

Check it out for yourself! All movies on Friday nights, 8pm, $5.

July 13 - Apollo 13
August 3 - Ghostbusters
August 17 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind
September 7 - An American Werewolf in London
September 28 - The Breakfast Club

I've blogged about this before, but the Paramount also does tours every first and third Saturdays of the month, also for $5. See my slide show here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

‘The Scottsboro Boys’: a disturbingly entertaining depiction of race in American history

Mr. Bones (Jared Joseph, center) with Willie Roberson (Shavey Brown, left) and Haywood Patterson (Clifton Duncan).
Photo credit: Photo by Henry DiRocco.
There aren’t many ways that A.C.T.’s production of 'The Scottsboro Boys' (now extended until July 22) could make anymore of an impact. I applaud the creators of this show in that it makes you feel very strongly. Calling it provocative is an understatement.

A story about nine African-American teenaged boys who are wrongly accused of raping two young white women in 1931, every single element of 'Scottsboro' is carefully manipulated to make you reflect on your sense of what is right, what is wrong, what is comfortable, what is entertaining and what makes you squirm in your seat.

In the same way Roberto Benigni’s 'Life is Beautiful' layers the Holocaust in singing and dancing, 'Scottsboro' lays lynching, the electric chair, sending innocent children to prison and black-faced minstrelsy over tap dancing, lush vocal harmonies and humor.

READ THE REST OF MY REVIEW ON EXAMINER.COM

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Two Examiner.com articles about the SF Music Scene

The photography of Jana Carrey at the "Local Artist Live-In"
Look Ma, I'm still writing for Examiner.com! And I just posted two articles this week about new events in San Francisco featuring local talent!

"For the Record 101" - lecture series and record club a The Red Poppy Art House

"Local Artist Live-In" - weekly event pairing local music and art at Underground SF

Go me! Please click through, they still pay me one penny for every hit, and I know you want to make me rich! Har har.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My post in Shareable Magazine: how to host a house concert

Check out my post on "How to Host a House Concert" in Shareable Magazine!

Back in 2009 I met Neal Gorenflo on my one an only trip to Burning Man. We were in the same camp, called The Duck Pond (they make great cocktails, stop by if you're ever there). Neal was in the process of hatching a website called Shareable which is exactly what it sounds like: sharing information and how to share in real life (the quintessential attitude of a person to meet at Burning Man).

Shareable is doing so well that Neal has quit his day job and even published a book. I ran into him in Austin during South by Southwest this last spring. I told him what we were doing over at Hear it Local and he asked me to write a "how to" article for Shareable. Several moons later, here it is!

I already told you guys about the house concert at my parents' in Los Angeles with the Family Crest, but here it is in a little more detail. And, a "how to" if you'd like to throw a house concert of your own.

Funny, I just noticed, in the video, you can see my Omi's (what I call my grandmother) beautiful white hair. She's totally into it!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jamie and Juan's music podcast



I know I've not been posting much lately. I promise you that I've been REALLY super, DUPER busy with musical projects and jobs. In fact, GOOD NEWS: Hear it Local has asked me to blog regularly for them, which is super exciting. So, stay tuned.

One of the fun projects I've been part of is a podcast with my friend Juan Raigosa who used to be a KUSF (R.I.P.) DJ. (Juan had me on his show semi-regularly at the end of 2010 to hang out before the station got derailed).

Juan sets up a mini recording studio in his bedroom and I wheel in some of the amazing people of our music community to play music (live and recorded), chat and just tell us about what's happening.

We're thinking of changing the name, but for now it's called Just Push Play.

Click to listen on our website 

So far we've had on KC Turner, Jonathan Mann, Jessie Woletz, Dina Maccabee and Lyz Luke. It's been a lot of fun.  Can't wait to record more!

Some photos of us being silly and playing some live music.

Juan, Jessie Woletz and me.

 Dina Maccabee

Lyz Luke, bear, me, Juan and Pavlov the Puggle 

KC Turner plays us some tunes






Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Conspiracy of Venus makes a music video

My choir has made a music video! One of my choirs, Conspiracy of Venus, was super lucky to have participated in a music video race: 16 bands. 16 filmmakers. 16 music videos. 1 weekend.

While we didn't win (sad face) we had a blast and got to work with the video makers It Donned on Me and hey, WE HAVE A MUSIC VIDEO! The song is an original by our conductor Joyce McBride.

 

That lovely lady starting in the video, is Soprano 1, Maggie Andrews.

Made in one weekend, in the presidio, we are dressed in sheets. A pair of those hands at the beginning are mine.

This is the hilarious and gross video that won, "COBRA" by doppio.



One video that I liked quite a bit by Elle Niño, it was filmed on Bernal Hill, right by my house. And I hike up there every week or so.

 

Click to watch more videos from the First Annual Music Video Race

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Videos from a recent trip to Cuba

My brother and his wife recently traveled to Cuba. Other than a tan and a lingering stomach virus, they brought back some really fun musical videos. It sounds cliche, but they said that there really is music everywhere you go in the commercial parts of Havana including restaurants, cafes and bars, and it's not just for the tourists.

I'm so curious to know if these folks get paid and how the scene and community is organized. Do bands play once a week at certain establishments? Do they make the rounds playing with a difference band every night? What's the balance of originals and standard tunes?

So many questions! Anyone have any answers for me?

Below is a band playing at Teatro Tomás Terry in the City of Cienfuegos on the Southern Coast of Cuba. My brother said this was the best band they saw. The sound is a little distorted, but you can still get a good idea.



This is a dance troupe at Plaza de Armas in Havana. A parade broke out down the street following the percussionists afterwards. We figure this is something organized for tourists.



Ages of the musicians ranged from young to old and I'm super happy to see the two ladies in this particular band.

And OMIWOW, I just noticed that the bass player is playing that thing facing backwards. Haha, awesome...



I love the empty restaurant table in the foreground.

I read an article in grad school about how after the success of the film and record Buena Vista Social Club (1999) the music started to revert back to what it was in the mid 20th century since it was seen as supporting Cuban tourism. It seems that whatever modern music that had been happening ten years ago might have not faired very well since from what I can tell, the music in these videos are pretty traditional.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Gotye live in San Francisco, a gorgeous show for a gorgeous record

Gotye at Coachella last weekend (
Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

Last night, Gotye performed at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, in between Coachella performances, fresh off Saturday Night Live. You can definitely say that the Belgian-Australian artist is the hottest ticket of the moment.

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve most likely seen the sexy and innovative video and heard Gotye’s hit tune “Somebody that I Used to Know” featuring Kimbra covered on Glee, American Idol and everywhere else (Maybe you heard me singing it? I can't stop). What you might not know is that the song is not a one-off, but part of a beautifully written and produced album called Making Mirrors which transfers well to the stage.

Wouter “Wally” De Backer’s song-crafting has grown in leaps and bounds since the 2008 “Mixed Blood”. “Eyes Wide Open”, “Save Me” and surprisingly “State of the Art” are exquisite songs which could easily be released as singles.

Gotye has been compared to Elliott Smith, Sting, Peter Gabriel and I would throw Imogen Heap into the mix, creating a genre-defying, sample-saturated wall of sound. Watching De Backer perform these tunes is watching him switch from playing various percussion instruments, sample –filled keyboards and pushing his voice to unfathomable heights in pitch, volume and timbre. Experimental keyboardist Tim Shiel joyfully plugged away at his set of electronic toys.

The only time I felt the music suffered from too much sampling (the five-piece band also included a guitarist and bassist) was in the soul tunes “I Feel Better” and “In Your Light”. Live horns are always better; sampled horns are sort of sad.

Continue reading my article on Examiner.com

Monday, April 16, 2012

Train at the Fillmore, loving the "Mom Rock"


Many things can be said about the band Train. Originally from the Bay Area, this Grammy-winning band is the quintessential feel-good poprock band and will be forever associated with the cheese-tastic tunes “Hey Soul Sister”, “Drops of Juptier” and “Meet Virginia.”

When I caught wind that Train would be playing six-gig engagement at San Francisco’s most beloved venues including the Fillmore, The Great American Music Hall, Bimbo’s 365, Slim’s and the Independent, I definitely rolled my eyes a little bit. But when I heard that these shows sold out immediately, I decided I had to give this band who’s been working hard for over 20 years the benefit of the doubt.

I loved reading this little article from SFist about this group of mom’s who traveled here from around the country to see all six shows, and camped out early to get a good spot in front of the stage. SFist also coined the genre "Mom Rock" in association to Train. Too funny.

I'll just say now that Train puts on a GREAT show. And as my friend said, “They give a damn” about their fans. Lead singer and front man Patrick Monahan signed dozens of posters and t-shirts from stage mid-song. Some of the items came from the audience, some came from the band.

There were lovely, sappy and endearing moments when Monahan got to show off that he's just a regular family guy: bringing his tutu-wearing young daughter on stage to spin and dance. He also told stories about how much he loves his wife and how he wishes she could have gotten to meet his mother, who “Drops of Jupiter” is written about.

But perhaps the high light of the evening was when San Francisco Giants players Barry Zito and Matt Cain joined Train onstage for a couple songs (Zito plays guitar) incuding Journey’s epic “Don’t Stop Believin’” And of course, the crowd went wild, including yours truly. See a video here. There's nothing like celebrating the beginning of baseball season like that!

Monahan sounds terrific; 20-years of singing at the top of his vocal range has been good to him. The band works it out. Local singer/songwriter Megan Slankard who also opened for Train at the Great American Music Hall earlier this week sang back up vocals. Other bands to open for other San Francisco shows were Finish Ticket, The Family Crest, Jeff Campbell, bringing the local love.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Band of Skulls: straight up rock band


Gonna try posting more often (every day on weekdays? YES!), but shorter posts.

I'd like to tell you about a little band called Band of Skulls who I got to see play live recently. They're somewhere in the realm of the Black Keys, Black Rebel Motor Cycle Club and Jack White. So if you're into that raw rock thing that's gaining traction lately, check them out.

They have a lady bass player/singer who reminds me of Patti Smith, she's a badass.

And, I didn't even realize, but their track "Light of the Morning" was featured in this Mustang commercial I've seen many times. The Fillmore was almost sold out, so YAY for commercial licensing getting the word out about an awesome hardworking band.




And another tune called "I Know what I Am"


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Joy in the Democratic Republic of Congo: the only all-black orchestra in the world


Do yourself a favor and watch this 60-Minutes piece about a community orchestra and choir in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the capitol city of Kinshasa.

Some of the musicians have formal training, most do not. The founding musicians started off sharing donated and restored instruments. Since then they have been able to accumulate enough instruments, one gentleman taught himself to make violins. The conductor, Armand Diangienda, is an ex-pilot who taught himself to play music.

Two tenors walk 90 minutes each way to rehearsals. If I decided to walk to my rehearsals, it would probably take 35 minutes and I wouldn't have to traverse a river.


In this video, these folks perform bits of Orff's Carmina Burana, Beethoven's "Ode to Joy", and Verdi's Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

Better late than never, A South by Southwest photo journal


This mural on Sixth Street should say "self-proclaimed Live Music Capital of the World", but whatever, we love you anyway. Love the little buttons on the top there of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin (who spent like a year in Austin, but shhh), Townes Van Zandt and Roky Erickson.


I was super excited to catch a Planned Parenthood Rally right next to the Texas Capitol building (I LOVE that building so much). Texas-born President of PP Cecile Richards made it out for this rally, along with powerhouse Congresswoman Dawnna Dukes. There were performances by Marcia Ball, Carolyn Wonderland, Jimmie and Dale Gilmore.

Pro-lifer Rick Perry has shut down dozens of Planned Parenthoods in Texas, saying "no" to federal money. There were protesters across 11th St., one male high schooler had a sign that said "Don't' believe their lies". It broke my heart a little bit.

And on that note, this is a random sign I liked a lot.


At one point while walking down Sixth Street late at night, I thought to myself "there really is a distinct smell to this place that I would recognize anywhere". It's sausage, mixed in with sweaty people and beer. Tasty, right? I've eaten at BestWurst a few times in my years in Austin. That stuff is good at 2am. Smells like freedom. Tastes like Texas.


Yes, that is a guitar squid costume. I think someone off camera is climbing a tree.

I went to a Family Friendly show at an Organic Farm with ducks and chickens and saw Mother Falcon (again), and Japanese comic action punk band Peelander-Z. What Awesome fun NUTTY NUTTINESS!

My favorite song? WHY SO MANY MIKE? hahaha.



I did not take this photo, but you have to see these costumes.

And then there was my Okie Heights Hootenanny, which was a huge success. The bands had a great time, Elaine and Brian rented a bouncy house for the kids, all of the beer and milk was gone and we raised $500 in tips for the bands. It was great.

The Family Crest rocks the house... uh yard, as always. (See the yellow bulldozer behind them, yeah, it had just knocked down a house the day before and was still working that morning, but it quieted down before the bands started to play.)

This photo comes from Mashable of Backwords from Brooklyn (yeah, my party made it to Mashable). The caption read:
"Slightly off the beaten path, we had one of our most relaxing, best shows this year. Front lawn, sun shining, beautiful trees and cactus all around and people just lounging out. Cans of Lone Star on ice in the turtle-shaped sandbox nearby."
So awesome. The Backwords folks were so nice.

Stroller parking lot. Love this.

The ADORABLE Bella Ruse from Minneapolis. She played the typewriter and had kazoo solos. That's Marcus in the back futzing with the speakers. He helped us book the bands and took care of the sound system. He's awesome and we thank him enormously.

Brooklyn based Miracles of Modern Science and the crowd in the front yard.

Miracles of Modern Science (or the "taped up F-holes") have the instrumentation of a folk or bluegrass band (fiddle, cello, mandolin, drums) but sound like a rock band. This band is super excellent.

Awesome puppets at a Rubblebucket show. This might have been one of my favorite new finds, imagine Flaming Lips zaniness, but with a horn section. And the lead singer lady doubles on baritone saxophone, which of course is super appealing to me.



Frontyard parties are fun. Too bad this one (Brooklyn County Cookout) was shut down by the Fire Marshall.

Man, I wish I took this photo of the Austin bluegrass band Whisky Shivers with a better camera. My cousin has been talking about them sing Hardly Strictly Bluegrass last year. Here's a pretty weird and awesome video from them.



That's it folks. Jamie's headed to New York City tomorrow morning at 7am. Gotta be up in 4.5 hours.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Gospel Brunch in Austin, Texas - my Masters Report


The Shields of Faith perform at Gospel Brunch - Stubbs in Austin, Texas

In 2006, I wrote a 100 page book in partial fulfillment of my Master's Degree in Ethnomusicology (the anthropology of music) about Gospel Brunch in Austin, Texas. It's called "If Church was like this, I'd go Every Sunday". For the last five years, it's been sitting in the University of Texas at Austin's library on a CD (they didn't even make me print it).

About a month ago, I was finally inspired to actually print the thing out. I made two copies: one for me and one for the Austin Public Library. On my visit to Austin, I saw the record, it's officially in the system!

I've also posted it for download if you were so inclined.


My Masters report on official record at the Austin Public Library

Why Gospel Brunch? Every House of Blues across the country has an brunch buffet and gospel show every Sunday morning. And other than a couple other venues (like the Cotton Club in New York) the House of Blues is about it... except in Austin, where there are three every weekend.

Maria's Taco Express Hippie Gospel Church in South Austin

The research for this paper was really fun, every Sunday morning I would head down to one of three spots: Stubb's, Threadgill's (the South Austin location) or Maria's Taco Xpress (the old location). This little Jewish girl would settle into some good food, booze (sometimes) and music about Jesus.

The three venues couldn't be more different. As you can see from the photos, Maria's is full of wonderful dancing hippies and the bands are mostly non-religious bands singing Bob Dylan tunes, traditionals and spiritually themed original songs. Stubb's is more likely to hire Evangelical bands coming from the Salvation Army. Threadgill's was somewhere in the middle. It was fun to compare and contrast the venues.

The Shields of Faith perform at Gospel Brunch at Stubb's

One chapter is about the City of Austin, and why it has grown to be a cultural and liberal oasis in one of the most conservative states in the country. I even got to mention Janis Joplin's brief stint in Austin before she headed to San Francisco.


I wrote a chapter on the history of African American scared music outside of the church. One of the more interesting examples I discussed was how Northern abolitionists used African American spirituals for humanitarian purposes pre-civil war. From the Tuskegee University Choir to Ray Charles changing gospel tunes into secular ones, there is a pattern of African American sacred music being used outside sacred spaces for various purposes. Pairing the music with a brunch buffet on a Sunday morning is no exception.


LZ Love performs at Maria's Taco Xpress

One of the wonderful things about being an ethnomusicologist is talking to people. Through hours of interviews I found out why Austinites would come to these venues on Sunday mornings to listen to religious and sacred music, instead of being at church.


The youngest member of the Shields of Faith

I was curious as to why Evangelical musicians would leave the church and perform in secular venues for beer drinking heathens (my words!) and why non-Christains like myself are so drawn to this music.

One of the more interesting moments of my research was when an 80-year-old reverend told me in an indirect way, that as a non-believer, I was going to hell. But, and I really do say this in most sincere way, he meant it in the nicest way possible (as someone who I saw being genuinely concerned for my soul). It was at that point that the hour long interview ended and we went to a fish fry. It was a relief.


Rose, my favorite Hippie Church dancer at Maria's Taco Xpress.

Just last Sunday, I headed down to Threadgill's for Gospel Brunch. I'm glad to see Gospel Brunch at all three venues is still going strong, and six years later, many of the same bands are still in rotation. The food is good and the music is great. What else could you want on a Sunday morning?

Anyway, if you are at all interested in check out my report, you can download the pdf here, or get a hard copy from the Austin Public Library.