Archive for July, 2010

Stay Awake

July 31, 2010

The internet 2.0

What doesn't keep me up at night should be the real question. I never seem to find enough time in the day for all of the things I would like to get done, and I'm a night owl by nature as it is. I work really weird shifts at my retail hell job, so my sleep patterns need to be erratic anyway. The fact that I don't feel like I have done a single useful thing all day behind the cash register keeps me up later than I should be. Sometimes I will have long in depth conversations with a friend that seem to make the time fly, for when I realize it is 4am, I am shocked to realize how much time has passed. I may spend a night on my own forcing myself to catch up on a book I was reading, or even keep myself up doing late night cooking. The internet is probably the biggest distraction from sleep. There are certain things I am just too tired to do at times, but the internet is never one of them. I log onto my facebook, and a friend pops up that I haven't seen in forever. What do I do? Stay awake and talk of course. The extent of most virtual conversations could be done in your sleep, but I manage to stay awake for them. I am more inspired creatively the more tired I become. And the more inspired I become, as I grow more tired, the longer I stay awake. It's as simple as all of that.

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Summer Festivale

July 29, 2010

I wanted to start a summer series of themed blogs which I would term Rules of Summer.  The first and only true rule of the summer is to have fun, so the series would more be about the details behind that which makes up our summer fun.  I always make a big stink about not being able to go to summer music festivals, which are often an entire day or days full of music I would love to see live.  Luckily one such festival happens to hit close to home.   Over the weekend of the 17th and 18th, I made the short drive down to the campus of Greenfield Community College in Greenfield Massachusetts to experience the 24th annual Green River Festival.  I paid a seemingly hefty price of 60 bucks per ticket for a two day pass, but is nowhere near as hefty as that for the other festivals.  Remember also that while it cost 60 dollars for both days, it cost nearly two thirds that only to experience one of the days.  For that price difference, if you ask me, you would have to be foolish to accept anything less than the two day pass.


I have spent all 23 plus years of my life living literally just down the road from the site of this festival, but I felt like a newborn upon my first site of the college campus.  It is not the space you expect to find when you hear the words community college. Furthermore, hearing the words community college combined with music festival doesn’t scream “big hoopla” to most people, but I was glad to be sadly mistaken.  Not that I was expecting a tiny event with only a handful of people, considering the bands they had to play it.   I put my little parking pass on my mirror, and I was officially initiated into this new found world of awesome.  Walking through the gates, I was absolutely floored by the sheer amount of bodies.  There were terrific food vendors, from standard American fare such as hot dogs and chicken fingers, to vegetarian wraps, burritos, as well as a couple Asian restaurants.  All were within reasonably affordable limits.

I had worried so much about not getting there on time and everything.  My copilot, Captain Shelli, kept reassuring me every five seconds, knowing we weren’t gonna miss anything.  But you guys may know me and my concerts, I just have to be there on time, even if I know it won’t start on time.  She sees reason in cases where I can’t manage to, and I love her for that as well as just for being awesome.  An instance of this is her idea that maybe we should have thought to bring sunscreen. Oops!  More on such things later, and on to the music itself!!!!

We explored some of the interesting vendors offering up their wares to festival goers, including the creators of some fancy looking, simple to play dice game known as Cosmic Wimpout, some hats made of coffee bags, and a man selling cool jewelry and Chinese pendants carved of jade and other like materials.  But as we perused the tables, we knew the music was almost upon us.  The anticipation in the air was denser than pea soup(Sorry for the bad analogies).  Even in an extensive mass of people, we were still able to secure a seat pretty much right in the front for the first band.  With little ado from the announcer, The Nields hit the stage.  I had heard them on the radio before, and must not have thought overly hard about it, just seemed like some standard clone of the Indigo Girls or other similar female folk duos.  The sister vibe really worked well, for you could see how close their bond was by the way they sang and played together.  Following that we saw Joy Kills Sorrow, which I would describe as a bunch of well dressed young people, grooving with an old school folkie vibe, while exploring something truly their own.  The energy was always focused as one would expect it to be, and the songs were creative with beautific vocals to top it all off.

I would have loved to stick around the main stage to check out Chatham County Line, but we all have to make compromises between two things that are equally good when participating in a festival of this nature.  We got up with more than a little hesitation, the 90 degree sun beating straight down on our heads, and took our journey past a number of vendors of food and trekked down a hill to what the festival people call, “The Dance Tent,”  in order to peruse whatever other awesome bands there may be playing, that we miss up on the big stage.  We walked in to the mass of sweaty dancing over halfway through a band’s set, but we could tell immediately that we were in for something grand.  A band known as The Primate Fiasco  was on stage.  The instrumentation was very peculiar, a tuba, a clarinet, a drumkit, a trumpet, and topped off with a banjo.  My first impression made me think they were some kind of ska band, but further inspection showed them as something much more.  Genre was laid to waste in a very real fashion. Highlights of the performance included their rendition of the klezmer classic Haga Navila, and their explosive set closer: The Muppet Show theme.

We stayed in the dance tent, still dancy, still sweaty, in high anticipation of the explosive performance to come.  Rubblebucket took the stage.  In the case of the deceptive appearances this band is no stranger.  From appearances alone they just look like a bunch of young kids, but mere seconds into the performance you will realize you are sadly mistaken.  The singer and saxophonist Kalima is absolutely awe inspiring.  She started the first song with a stream of nonsense syllable lyrics, which didn’t sound like much, until she was suddenly belting it off into a higher plane of being.  The band draws upon afrobeat, jazz, world music, ska, raga, even experimental rock outfits  like King Crimson and Primus seem represented in their own right, while a few of the grooving basslines even reminded me of  a song by The Police.  As much as I could go on and on about how fun it is to see them doing their dance to their own music up on the stage, how happily sweaty I was dancing it out myself, how good the music is, how cool the trombone player’s dreads are, or just how tight the band seems to be, I won’t, simply because this is one band that has to be seen to be believed.

Next came the Sierra Leone Refugee All-Stars on the main stage.  It was amazing to me to think about how much these guys have overcome to be able to happily play for so many people.  Their outfits were great, they had a very nice stage presence, lots of diverse instruments, a good way with the crowd.  Like any great dub band, they really know how to put the soul into their music.  I was in and out of attention during much of their performance though.  What with a bathroom break here, a desire for chicken fingers there, or the fact that it was just so freakin’ hot out, I wasn’t as attentive by this point as I was to the other bands, but they were fantastic all the same.

We ended our day one with face painting in crazy patterns down near the dance tent, accompanied by free fizzy juicy juice and the heard and not seen performance of Gandalf Murphy and The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, which I’m sure if I could have seen and heard would have been one of my day’s highlights.  Oh well.  We didn’t stick around for Old Crow Medicine Show, Allen Touissant, Red Stick Ramblers or Donna The Buffalo, but in my opinion, we had already gotten our money’s worth and then some, not to mention that it was so hot.  I’m sure we would have stayed if not for that fact.


Sunday, we did in fact stay the whole day.  And the fact that Cake closed out the festival, there would have been no way that I would have left early.  We also came better equipped with a cooler and a few of our own bottles of water, as well as a bottle of super protective sunblock, and some beach chairs, not to mention hats.  Lake Street Dive began the day’s festivities.  They did a terrific, easily listenable weaving mishmash of old school soul, classic country and folk, as well as their own personal style.  I liked them just as much, if not better than Joy Kills Sorrow.  I’m torn on which of those statements to say, as one member of the band also played with Joy Kills Sorrow, Bridget the bassist.  At the dance stage I was a bit sad at not getting to see Rusty Belle, an amazing band from Amherst, which truly define what the word indie should mean.  At least I had seen them before.  Not that I hadn’t seen the next band I saw during their set before, but Captain Shelli had not, and I wanted more than almost anything for her to experience them herself.  I am talking of course, about The Low Anthem.

This group of young people from Providence really know their stuff.  Being described as Americana, they give roots music the new drive it needs for the 21st century, cutting and pasting and evolving, in order to achieve their own sound while never veering too far from the traditions that birthed their music.  4 part harmonies come a dime a dozen with this band, and Ben Knox Miller has one  of the most interesting voices I have ever heard, from a rough country growl, to an ethereal angelic high, and everywhere in between.  If you ever get the chance, do yourself a favor and see them.

Next, Shelli and I made our way back to the dance tent to see Anais Mitchel.  A peculiarly voiced folk singer of epic proportions, she lives on a farmhouse out in the wilds of my state, Vermont.  Her most recent album was an epic folk opera of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, on which she collaborated with a number of equally gifted artists, to create something truly out of this world.  She did a few selections from Hadestown, but did mostly older work.  And this was fine, for the impact of most of the Hadestown tracks would be lost without the collaborators present.   I’m not sure how much I can say about this artist, for she is hard to describe unless she is seen and heard.  Go down to your local record store and check it out.  Following this we stuck around for David Wax Museum, an extravagant, mostly midwestern band, with a punkfolk, indie vibe, spliced with traditional mexican folk song styling.  Instruments include, a little spanish guitar that I don’t remember the name of, drums, violin, guitar, accordion, and even a donkey jawbone in a couple songs.  A few very mellow songs, mixed in with some ridiculously danceable songs, which involved David Wax throwing himself pretty far into the air whilst jumping up and down.  I would say think of Gogol Bordelo’s more subdued cousin, and you would get the very nonsubdued in general, David Wax Museum.  While Calexico was grand, as we made our way back to the main stage, with their diverse mix of influences, I still really wanted to check out the last band at the dance tent before Cake, so we made our way down after very little time back up top, back to the dance tent for Unit 7.  Unit 7 is a rockabilly, zydeco, fusion whirlwind, of ridiculous energy, mad retro outfits, dancers that look like flapper girls, and a gravelly voiced sax player, who while not as creepy as Tom Waits, deserves to be in the same realm of awesome.

Last but not least, we experienced CAKE. Not the dessert, but the band.  They have purposely taken themselves out of the limelight, producing a new record wholly on their own, the way they want to, no deadlines, no media frenzy, no extreme publicity.  The singer said to us in the crowd early in the set, “Do not look for us on a late night tv talk show, for we won’t be there any longer.”  They are producing their new album with all green energy. The power of the sun photosynthesizes some of the best music in a very real way it would seem.  The fame doesn’t get to them, for they don’t feed the monster.  They even neglected to have their merch out at the festival, that’s how non-attention seeking they seem to be.  Although that could have been a fluke.  They kicked off their set with the classic, “Frank Sinatra,” and proceeded to do a few of their less upbeat tunes, such as “Sad Songs and Waltzes,”  and put in a few of their newer hits, like “Short Skirt, Long Jacket, ” and “No phone,” as well as their terrific cover of “War Pigs.”  The latter was probably my favorite song of the night.  Their lives are just as good as their albums, and although I was in love with it, I thought they could have taken it even farther.  Although audience participation and the banter from the frontman were enough to bring it to a new level.  The two sides of the crowd battled it out for loudness as we were urged to sing along: “Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell…” and for the encore, one of the earliest popular songs by them, they performed “The Distance.”

As Shelli and I got in our car to end our festival experience, we watched the balloons launch.  The sky was full of more colors than I even thought possible.  And I thought to myself, sitting next to my dear one: “the world really is a beautiful place.”

Gorillaz-Plastic Beach should be playing in my cafe

July 28, 2010

I’ll say album instead of song. Gorillaz-Plastic Beach
It’s socially conscious, and fun to dance to, and also just worth listening to. It’s not for everyone, but its crossing and mixing of all preconceived genre boundaries, makes a new access point where there might not have been one before. And like i said, some of the socially conscious lyrics will also give the customers a boost of stimulation in addition to what they get from their coffee

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The world's ending! Let's go to The exact geographic center of the world.

July 20, 2010

I don't know, but my reasoning behind this has to do with the fact that I just want to be in the center of everything when everything ends, so I don't miss it. If I can't do that, I would pick somewhere in space, which would mean I could live through the end of the world.

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Would I Survive No Internet for a Whole Month?

July 20, 2010

Enter The Matrix

It's not like it's something that imbues me with the spark of life. In a few ways, I almost think I would be better off without it for a month. I spend so much of my internet time looking around on the facebook for someone to talk to, instead of trying to find people to talk to in real life out on the street or something. Although I'm not sure what I would do for a whole month without being able to rely on my writing resources on the internet, like you, dearest plinky, as well as my wordpress blogs. One thing is certain: I would be able to live without it for a month.

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July 9, 2010

A memory of an idea is just a different kind of idea, so what is it a memory of? And on further inspection, maybe the two things aren’t so different. The human mind as the world’s greatest computer processor is merely doing a system recovery. So, a memory of an idea is the same idea rediscovered. Besides, is it not in the nature of discovery, that what we discover has already been found?