Thursday, October 21, 2010

Help fund My First Earthquake destroy a record studio

This is actually my favorite MFE official photo, love that it's taken in front of the DeYoung Museum

My First Earthquake has quickly become my favorite Bay Area band. They are silly, irreverent and fabulous live. They have a song about cooking a chubby boyfriend into a meat pie for godsake! And the music is something out of a hip '80s video game.

And they are also nice people who suggest meeting for the best pancakes in San Francisco early on a Sunday morning.

I'll be plugging their music and their album-making campaign tomorrow (Thursday October 21st) morning on KUSF 90.3 FM (you can also use this link to listen online or later) between 8-9 AM PCT.

But for now, READ MY ARTICLE that came out of a breakfast interview with the band. And donate some cash if you feel like it, you have until Saturday morning.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Israeli Jazz and bassist Avishai Cohen

At the beginning of 2010, a friend of mine turned me onto bassist Avishai Cohen. He has played with giants of jazz in New York, Europe and of course Israel. He finally started his own record label in 2003 and his new release Aurora is one of the most gorgeous records I've heard.

This video of the track "Alon Basela" has just over 24 thousand hits, I bet 20 thousand of them are mine. As soon as the video is over I want to hear it again.
(Sung in Hebrew)
I believe I’m an oak tree in the rock
Even if a storm will hit me.
I will keep standing
When I shed a tear I plant a Tree.

Sorrow is the soul
And I am nature

I believe in mankind
And in the sky
I exist in the ocean
And in the tree
As long as I live
I will remember
Happiness is the people
For better and ever

Cohen plays at Yoshi's in Oakland on Wednesday and Thursday, two shows each evening. I'll be there Thursday for the 8pm.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

The best place to sit for a symphony concert: the choral stalls/tier section

A photo taken in Davies Symphony Hall (for Mahler 8) a little further to the right from the spot I'm taking about. We were sitting where those kids are on the left. (Photo, Kristen Loken Anstey)

Who wouldn't want to see the conductor hit himself in the face with his baton?

Thoughts that passed through my head last night at Davies Symphony hall seeing Semyon Bychkov conduct Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin and Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini :
  • What does the pink post-it note in the conductor's Rachmaninoff say. ("Remember to queue violins?" "Turn off stove?")
  • That trumpet player is really hot.
  • What is that fidgety oboist smirking at now?
  • That timpani player is being really anal and working really hard to keep them in tune.
The best thing about these seats may not be the sound (I've been told that it's not so great, but I actually liked feeling like I was right in the action), but the visual aspect of the individuals on stage.

I think that's one of the things that's been taken away from the symphonic/orchestral experience for the audience. When you're sitting so far away, you can't SEE anything. I don't know about you, but I love this music and my mind still wanders when I'm listening to it: I get hit by the tired stick and I want to take a nap. But if my eyes as well as my ears are stimulated, it's WAY MORE INTERESTING and I stay more alert and focused on the performance.

And if you still get bored you can count the sleeping people out in the audience.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Review: Songwriters Unplugged Showcase 3 featuring Women who Rock

Here's a review of a singer/songwriter showcase at Yoshi's SF from last night produced by my friends at Bay Vibes who do amazing organizational and promotion work for the Bay Area music community.

<-- I do want to point out that Veronika Safarova, Valerie Orth's bassist, was totally rocking my world at this show. This is why I'm taking bass lessons.


Just to share: I'm still struggling with reviews in general, but I'm getting better! Meaning: I keep doing it! I hope I'm getting better. And the more I do it, the better I will get. For many reasons reviews are harder for me to write than anything else. (I really just want to support musicians and spread the good juju and many of the people I talk to struggle with this), and I'm still struggling, and will probably continue to do so, with how to balance my opinion of the good with the bad in a critical way. (See this challenge of writing a review of a musical I was super disappointed with). It's also a tricky balance when I'm highly involved in the community I'm writing about. I'm figuring it all out.

Have any of you noticed anything about my writing or just have words of advice, encouragement or critique? I welcome them.

Sesame Street wins again, and again: "I Love My Hair"

Despite the Katy Perry debacle, Sesame Street (via facebook) has been doing some very smart, pop-culture savvy, progressive things lately. And riding the tails of my Esperanza Spalding article, I'd like to help celebrate accepting and loving what you got on your head and workin' it like a rockstar.

And just for fun, Sesame Street's recent parody of Isaiah Mustafa's brilliant and hilarious Old Spice commercials. Proves that Sesame Street is hip. Love it.

I'm on a horse, MOO! cow.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Esperanza Spalding: an extraordinary young jazz musician

I first saw Esperanza Spalding open for Dianne Reeves three years ago. All I remember from my crappy seats is a young black woman with huge hair and enormous talent.

Three years later she is still at it, performing for the White House, the youngest professor at Berklee School of Music and already reinventing herself musically with each album and concert tour.

I am enthralled by this woman. She is young, she is of mixed race, she is ridiculously talented and, I'm going to say it, makes a HUGE statement wearing her hair this way. Whatever it is, I dig it and I hope that people are paying attention (especially young women).

(I really hope that SFJAZZ didn't pick this season's image based on her, but then changed the hair just to suit their marketing material, that would seriously bother me.)

Spalding's career has just begun and I think it's obvious that she's here to stay.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"It Might Get Loud" review: for fans of U2, Led Zeppelin, Jack White and the guitar

Gods of the Guitar: Jack White, the Edge and Jimmy Page

I know I'm all about getting girls and women to play rock music (and music in general), but that absolutely doesn't mean I don't become a total fan girl when I get to see Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White sit around together to chat and play music together.

"It Might Get Loud" (2008) is a brilliant twist on the documentary, bouncing three lives, stories, personalities and techniques off one other. The result is three different ways to tell the same story: the love of the guitar.

I love how these guys represent three different generations of music, yet the film focuses on their drive to be equally musically innovative. Each musician has had something to overcome, whether it be the crappy pop music of the time or political turmoil. Each also has their own musical drive. Jack White has a fierce desire to replicate as close as possible the blues of the 30s. The Edge grapples with peddles and wires and effects trying to replicate sound qualities in his head. Jimmy Page, a former session musician who freaked out when he realized how little creativity he had in the job, pushes himself to innovate, innovate, innovate.

It's incredibly charming to watch these guys jam to each others songs. But the moment that takes the cake, is the smiles on the faces of the other two when Page busts out with "Whole Lotta Love." Being the senior member of the group, Page obviously holds a certain position among the three. But, interestingly enough, this is the only moment when his position is completely evident in the film. Otherwise, the three are shown in equal light, with equal contributions.

Watch the moment below, and add "It Might Get Loud" to your Neflix queue.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

To my readers (and a CD giveaway)


I have a question for you all:
What do I need to do to get you all to start talking back at me? This question is not meant to be a Geeez-why-won't-you-comment thing, but more of a blogger trying to figure out how to make the most of her blog and getting it to be a more interactive place where we can talk about music, which is sort of the whole point...

My posts have not been super interactive and I don't necessarily want to completely change how I do things, but I'd like to try posting more material that will inspire you to share YOUR opinions and YOUR experiences. I know many of you personally, and I think there are folks who read this blog that have found Always More to Hear searching the net I've never met. I would love to hear from all of you! Please introduce yourself!

So I'm going to try some different things and see what works.

I've got some CDs to give away. I'm not sure what they are yet (CDs from my collection and/or mixes), but I'll figure something out. I'll randomly pick a couple folks and send you something.

Tell me: what are you listening to right now and why do you like it?

Maybe post some links so that we can listen?

I'm listening to a Doo-wop box set I bought at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back when I was magically stuck in Cleveland last summer. My friend and former classmate Kathryn works there, so I spent the morning poking around. Doo-wop great driving music and just fun to listen to.

There's stuff on there that shows up on the "Stand By Me" soundtrack, like this gem by The Fleetwoods - "Come Softly to Me"