Showing posts with label European. Show all posts
Showing posts with label European. Show all posts

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.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I crush hard on music: Adele and Brass Menažeri

Okay, sometimes I more than crush. We'll have a short love affair and I get that chill up my spine. I feel a certain joy. I have to listen over and over a again. Turn it up in the car or just watch the musicians in awe. I go to bed and wake up with the tune in my head.

Right now I'm totally obsessed with Adele's pop tune from the album 21 called "Set Fire to the Rain". (The 5th track for those of you who don't do song titles.) I mean, the whole album is so good (well most of it) but I just can't get enough of this one.

It's the perfect pop tune. Not annoying but chalk full of gut wrenching emotion. A catchy lick. A string arrangement. A wall of sound. Adele hits those notes perfectly. It's an 80s pop ballad cleverly disguised as one from 2011. But it feels real.

The other night I went to the Make Out Room to see the premiere of Chasing the Moon's Brass Menažeri podcast. Co-creator and producer Scott McDowell introduced the podcast by explaining that he has a crush on this band. He totally hit the nail on the head.

I am so enamored by Eastern European Balkan brass bands. It's so sexy. These folks have to be so right on to pull off this kind of music, and Brass Menažeri always nails it. Love this band.


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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Follow me in Europe and Africa!

From November 29th to January 15th, I will be traveling in Europe and Africa. Follow me around here.

I'll be going to England, South Africa, Namibia, Scotland and France (in that order, as London as my hub.) I've built this trip around visit my friend Brad in Namibia in the Peace Corps. I figure why not make a whole adventure out of it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Alice Dancing Under the Gallows" - Theresienstadt and the Power of Music

"Music is a religion, music is god."

Never have I heard words that were any truer (at least for me personally).

Alice Herz-Sommer will be 107 years old this November. She is the oldest living Holocaust surviver. She has her friends, she has her health and she plays piano everyday.

Alice lived in the Theresienstadt concentration camp during World War II. Theresienstadt was used as a Nazi front to show the public the daily lives of prisoners. It was the only Nazi camp where children were kept with their parents and where artists were permitted and encouraged to create.

Read my post about a concert featuring some of the music composed in Theresienstadt

Even though many of these prisoners were starving, they kept on creating. Alice was one of these people.

Alice Dancing Under the Gallows is a film due to be finished next year. To follow its progress see its twitter and facebook pages.

I want to be like Alice when I grow up. Her love, hope and optimism are truly an inspiration.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

My picks for the SFJAZZ Fest 2010 Fall Season

Check out my picks for the SFJAZZ 2010 Fall season, my favorite "festival" in the Bay Area, including:
- Nellie McKay - a tribute to Doris Day
- Olodum
- Taj Mahal, Toumani Diabaté and Vieux Farka Touré - tribute to Ali Farka Touré
- Meklit Hadero
- Lila Downs
- Slavic Soul Party!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Music blog love: Unbounded Song

Last week I randomly came across the music blog Unbounded Song and I'm really excited about it. The premise is that the blog will eventually feature one song from each country in the world, roughly 196 of them.

The details on who is publishing this blog are non-existent other than his name is Dylan. But one thing is for sure, I trust Dylan's taste in music. That sentiment really boils down any music blog: with all the music blogs out there, what keeps you coming back? What keeps you coming back to mine? I hope it's because you trust me and my taste in music!

Each song on Unbounded Song as been fan-fricken-tastic so far.

The actual text posts are short and to the point, which I appreciate.

The song I'm in love with right now is the Polish entry: "At My Mothers" by Warsaw Village Band. This is the kind of music I want to crawl up inside. You know that feeling? When you just want to get up in it? I have no other way of describing it.

Check out this blog if you like music from around the world. There's some good stuff coming at you.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Sway Machinery covers "Bille Jean" in Krakow

The Sway Machinery performs a cover of "Billie Jean" at the Festival of Jewish Culture in Kracow on July 4th, 2009

Love the infamous bass line on the baritone saxophone.

Now I'm looking for more interesting MJ covers, send one my way!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Gunther: And why the Swedes crack me up

To those that have not yet been graced with his presence, let 2009 welcome you with Sweden's Gunther (Mats Söderlund): a hysterical model turned europop parody.   

Once you get past the pornographic mustache, pouty lips, terrible dance moves, and mullet (and the scantily clad "Sunshine Girls"), you won't be able to get these songs out of your head. You are welcome to curse me for it.

Here is "Ding Ding Dong"

And another gem: "Tutti Frutti Summer Love." Nothing beats the flying fruit and extra special surprise you get at 3:13.

What's the funniest thing you've seen on the internet lately?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Missed Bay Area Shows: Dengue Fever & Kings of Leon

As I head down to Los Angeles tomorrow for my 10 year high school reunion (yikes!) I am gutted to miss two more local San Francisco shows.

Overseas sensation Kings of Leon will be playing at the Warfield on Friday, October 17th and Saturday, 18th.  We Are Scientists and The Stills will be opening.  Man, what a fantastic show. Understandably, it looks like these two Leon shows are sold out.  

Spin Magazine wrote a great article about the Kings and their tumultuous relationship as brothers (and one cousin) and their struggle in being one of the biggest bands overseas while still being virtually unknown here in their own country.   They headlined the Glastonbury Festival in England and are very popular among folks I was talking to in Australia, including my aunt.  Even though they are selling out two nights at the Warfield, you can't usually judge the national popularity of a band by a Bay Area hipster turnout.  

After listening to their album a few times, I'm totally jumping on the bandwagon that got going years ago. Once you get past their glam rocker prettiness (Jonas Brothers much?), they're pretty awesome.  

Here's a bit of "Use Somebody."

Also, Los Angeles based band Dengue Fever will be playing a show at Bimbo's 365 Club (my favorite venue in the area might I add, it's so Ratpack!) on Friday, October 17th at 9pm. Throwback San Francisco soul band Lord Loves a Working Man will open.  Tickets are $16.  This show is NOT sold out.  

I've now missed Dengue fever two or three times, and I'm sorta pissed about it, especially considering I think I've been in LA when they've been San Francisco, but that's the way it goes.  

Dengue Fever is especially interesting to me because of Cambodian born vocalist Chhom Nimol.  Most of her lyrics are in the Cambodian language, although she does in some instances sing in English. Dengue Fever has consistently retained a Southeast Asian pop music feel in the guitars and rhythms.  Chhom's moves are also based on traditional Cambodian dance.

When Chhom lived in Cambodia she performed for the King and Queen.  When Dengue Fever toured Cambodia in 2005, it was the first time since 1975 any band had performed music like this kind. The documentary Sleepwalking Through the Mekong was made about this experience.

Lord Loves a Working Man brings the house down as well.  Bring your dancin' shoes!

Here's a video of Dengue Fever's "Sni Bong"

I added some Kings of Leon and Dengue Fever tunes to my playlist over on the right there.

And on that note, anyone in the area feeling crazy enough to see Tina Tuner with me next week?  It's expensive, but man, it'll probably be worth it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Like Tupac, Mozart keeps writing from the dead

Check out this v ery 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-lookin g guy too ( Nantes vice-mayor Jean-Louis Jossic) , don't y ou?  He must be completely over the moon about this. Check out his dorky musical tie!! Love it.