Showing posts with label Christianity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christianity. Show all posts

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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I sing in choirs: SF Lyric Chorus concerts this weekend and the 826 Valencia Project



Yep, it's that time again: choir concert time! I have a short, but kickass tenor solo in the spiritual "Daniel, Daniel Servant of the Lord". I'm so in love with spirituals, these songs are in my blood. I love the Copland piece as well and the Thompson is totally growing on me.

The San Francisco Lyric Chorus has a concert on Saturday at St. Marks in San Francisco and on Sunday at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Orinda (East Bay). Let me know if you'd like to come.

The music is gorgeous and challenging. I thought it would be a breeze because we didn't have to learn any foreign languages, but because it's mostly 20th century music, and the harmonies are super difficult. The whole program is a capella as well, so at times I feel like we're picking entrance notes out of the air.

I love singing in choirs. Why? Yes, I love the sound, it's a very personally beautiful sonic texture I love. But I think it's more than that. I love that people can sing together with nothing else: no amplification, no mics, no instruments. Just voices. I also love that every person has a different voice, but when singing with other people, they all meld into one, creating a "choral" sound: a group of 20 people over here, might sound very similar to a group of 20 people over there.
I also love how one person (or more) can totally mess up, and it might be totally unnoticeable.

The choral community is HUGE in the Bay Area. I love what that communal idea of music making means about the area. It's very fitting.

Just last week I participated in the 826 Valencia project led by Camille Robles at One Red Delicious Press. The concept is to submit an audio recording of a story, any story, as long as it's personal. Camille is going to catalog the stories and create a book from them. I think there might even be music added to some of them.

This project will benefit San Francisco's 826 Valencia, a writing center dedicated to getting kids excited about the literary arts and fostering the writing skills of the youth. The classes they offer are free, and they inspire creativity, confidence, and a route to finding one's voice. Camille is still taking submissions if you want to get in involved. For more info, click here.

This is a story about the most personal, spiritual and emotional musical experience I've ever had. In a nutshell, I was moved to tears by the singing and acoustics of my high school choir while in France. I used this story for my college admissions essay and as soon as I heard about this project, it was the story that came to mind.

Here is the audio track, happy singing!

Grand chapel by Alwaysmoretohear


Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Vienna Boys Choir (and why kids are awesome)


What do you do when someone in front of you farts? What if you're performing in front of hundreds of people? Do you try to ignore it until it passes? Or do you wrinkle up your nose in a super obvious way, and when the song is over elbow your neighbor and give the kid in front of you the stink eye?

Kids are awesome. They can be insanely smart and silly all at the same time.

I was reminded of this, this is evening when I saw the infamous Vienna Boys Choir perform at Grace Cathedral.

(I really don't want to get that kid in trouble, but OMIGOD it was so funny!!)

These guys were so great. My choir of full grown adults should be so lucky as to pull off a concert like this group of kids did tonight, as they probably do every night. I heard not one mistake. They had EVERYTHING memorized. They sang half a dozen languages perfectly. And, of course they sounded amazing. Grace Cathedral was built for this sound.

But watching these consummate professionals, you see that they really are only children between, I'm guessing, the ages of 8 and 13.

I found myself being totally distracted and entertained by their individual personalities. Who was the troublemaker? Who was the shy one? What can I say, I'm a people-watcher, and kids provide the ultimate people-watching experience.

This is what I saw, and some of these kids fit more than one of these descriptions:
  • the eye-wanderer - not looking at the conductor, but at everything else.
  • the yawner - by the second half there were several of these
  • the one with the Bieber haircut - yes, they are Austrian, but there still has to be one
  • the one who makes funny faces when he sings - all choirs have one
  • the one whose voice sticks out - not necessarily in a bad way
  • the one who keeps forgetting to bow with the rest of the group
  • the overly animated one - often the one who makes funny faces, often they dance in place
  • the one with Harry Potter glasses
  • the one with funny ears - they're kids, this is a given
  • the one who's WAY taller/shorter than everyone else - again, they're kids, it's a given
  • the one who just looks really Austrian - whatever that means
Oh, maybe I should mention some of the music: Palestrina, Bruckner (both my favs), Pergloesi, Zoltán Kodály (they sang in Hungarian!), Orff and yes folks some Michael Jackson. They sang "We Are the World" in Austrian accents and it was adorable.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Chanticleer sings of the earth and stars on "Out of This World" Bay Area Tour

The men of Chanticleer

On Sunday evening September 19th at 5pm, Chanticleer performed at the gorgeous San Francisco Conservatory of Music, about a block over from their Hayes Valley headquarter offices. It was the second concert in that space and the fourth concert on their “Out of This World” tour.

“Out of This World” features pieces across vocal musical history from Gregorian chant to Eric Clapton that speaks of the earth, stars, planets and the heavens. What is so brilliant about this programming is the variety of ways the celestial bodies are used in description and representation depending on the genre and era.

For example, the medieval compositions chosen sing of angels, Mary, Queen of the Heavens and the light of Jesus Christ while the Italian madrigals compare the “earthly” love of another human to that of the stars. Romantic poets describe inner heaven and modern compositions literally describe the earth from an orbiting spaceship, mechanical satellites and star clusters. Exploring how poets have perceived "outer space" in the last five hundred years is such a fun and interesting way to organize a concert of vocal music!

READ MORE OF MY REVIEW HERE

Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria" was not on this programme, but it's purdy:

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Chanticleer performs in the Cathedral of Christ the Light: or how I spent my second night of Hannukah


Last night I had the absolute pleasure of attending the barely one-year-old Cathedral of Christ the Light right on Lake Merritt in Oakland for an evening with the Bay Area’s own "orchestra of voices" Chanticleer. The twelve guys are back from touring the country and have already begun their annual Bay Area Christmas concerts.


This is the first time I’ve seen Chanticleer, and what I really love about them (other than their music) is the air of the fun they have. There are jokes in the program bios and smiles all around. I spotted the signature insanely awesome handlebar mustache of eldest member Eric Alatorre and the faux mohawk of soprano Michael McNeil. I see this kind of artistic seriousness coupled with gleeful enjoyment a signature Bay Area attitude and I am reminded how much I love living in this part of the country. I am also proud that these guys (most of them from middle America) represent my little slice of the world when they go out on the road.

TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE, SEE THEIR SCHEDULE AND WATCH A VIDEO THEY MADE FOR JAY LENO CLICK HERE

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A holiday playlist that doesn't suck: Christmas and a couple Channukah songs!


Thanksgiving has officially come and gone, and now I feel the time is appropriate to start talking about Christmas and Channukah. I think many would agree with me that before Thanksgiving, it's really just too early.

After scouring the Internet, reading blogs, looking at iTunes playlists and asking friends I've compiled an extensive list of holiday songs that don't suck (according to me). This list includes classics that never get old, sarcastic songs, punk covers, indie covers, funny songs and even a handful of Channukah songs that I feel are appropriate and don’t cross that cheese ball line. (I’ve placed them at the bottom of the list.)

Please feel free to share more. I want this list to serve as a resource for retailers to keep their employees from ripping their ears out, or folks who want to make a soundtrack to a party where people might actually have a good time. I’ve also included links to CD compilations (click on the captions under the images) and iTunes playlists that are acceptable.

Click here to see the list of 64 songs. Everything from Alvin and the Chipmunks and 2 Live Jew to Eartha Kitt and Sufjan Stevens.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Presenting The Cathedral of Christ the Light: a new stunning venue for choral and organ music



Today my parents and I stopped into The Cathedral of Christ the Light located about half-a-mile from my house. This cathedral was under construction when I moved to Oakland over two years ago and it opened a little over a year ago. I went inside soon after it opened and thought it would be a good place for music, but was disappointed by the lack of music on the calendar. Well, today, I found the schedule and I'm so excited about a venue like this being so close to my house!

For those of you that know me, you know that I'm a nice Jewish girl that LOVES music about Jesus. No apologies here! For those of you that are new to this blog, get used to it (I wrote my Master's report on the commercialization of gospel music).

Check out my examiner.com article and see what amazing concerts the Bay Area has in store: Bach, Rachmaninoff (The Vespers! Hear a selection down below) and choirs like Chanticleer and the Oakland Symphony Chorus as well as groups that I didn't know about like the Pacific Boys Choir and the California State University East Bay Singers.

READ MY EXAMINER.COM ARTICLE HERE

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Jewish Music Festival celebrates the art of the Holocaust created by both Jews and non-Jews


Through out my life, I often think about the fact that if it were not for Adolph Hitler, I would not be here. Plain and simple: my grandmother would probably still be in Germany and my Grandfather would have married another pretty Jewish lady in Los Angeles.

If it were not for the Holocaust, we would also not have any of the beautiful and inspirational art and music featured in They Left a Light: Masterpieces from Nazi Prison Camps at the East Bay Jewish Community Center on Sunday evening, October 18th.

This performance will be an educational experience with narration and a multimedia production performed by some of the Bay Area’s top classical musicians, including Susan Waterfall, piano and narrator; Jeremy Cohen, violin; Burke Schuchmann, cello, and Erin Neff, soprano.

By nature, human beings find ways to make beauty out of the darkness. Olivier Messiaen, composer of The Quartet for the End of Time, Sunday evening's featured piece, was a Catholic French composer who lived in the Theresienstadt (Terezin) concentration camp during the Holocaust as a prisoner of war...

READ MORE OF MY ARTICLE HERE

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I-LOVE-THIS: Sonseed merch!


Okay, first of all, if you haven't seen the video, PLEASE watch it. And read my previous blog entry if you need any help in deciphering why this is so amazing (I am not being facetious, I really do think this is awesome music, there are just some VERY humorous things about it).



Now, take a look at all of these awesome t-shirts and other merch.  While they are all cool, this one above is the only one with a v-neck, the most horrible neckline to ever grace the fashion world (especially on men, sorry!) but is totally appropriate for this 70s fabulous fashion.  

I believe this will be more popular than "Jesus is my Homeboy." I *almost* wish I was a believer so I could get in on this.

But until then: ZAP!

Thank you Dougsploitation, thank you for making my year.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The best Christian Ska in the World: ZAP!


For those of you who haven't seen this video yet, PLEASE do yourself a favor and watch it. I don't care if you are Christian or not, either way, this is one of the best things I've seen in a long time. And thank you to Dougsploitation for finding this in his collection of VHS and posting it on the web.

Introducing Sonseed and their number one hit "Jesus is My Friend": the best Christain Ska band in the world! Too bad they could cross over into the mainstream like Creed or Jars of Clay (who I happen to like). Did you know that according to wikipedia, there are dozens of Christian ska bands. Who knew?

As a good friend said, there is so much to say about this video:

- The hairdo's, clothes and backdrop. I love pink and blue, don't you? The 70s were fantastically pastel!
- The lyrics:
He taught me how to praise my god and still play rock and roll.

Once I tried to run, once I tried to hide,
But Jesus found me and touched me deep down inside.

He is like a mounty, he always gets his man
and he'll zap you anyway he can.

(wait for it...)

ZAP!!
- The realization that this is actually catchy and the band is totally tight!
- Watch the guitarist. He's totally rocking out.
And last but not least...
- Gotta love those backup singers. Especially the glasses.
- The tv host calling the performance "beautiful" at the end.
For those of you who want more Sonseed, you can download the entire album here. I honestly haven't listened to it yet, but when I do, I will get back to you.

For those of you who want to here some "traditional" British Ska, here's "Too Much Too Young" from the Specials.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Like Tupac, Mozart keeps writing from the dead

Check out this very cool story about one of my favorite rockstars.  A single sheet of a melody sketch handwritten by none other than the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was found deep in the bowels of a French Library in the town of Nantes. 

I love this Einstein-looking guy too (Nantes vice-mayor Jean-Louis Jossic), don't you?  He must be completely over the moon about this. Check out his dorky musical tie!! Love it.