Monday, June 12, 2006

A terrible thing

Asia Carrera was an actress in adult films. Some of you may know, and like, her work. Many years ago, she started her own web site, writing the HTML code herself, and setting up an on-line store years before that was common. One of the features on her site was a bulletin that she updated every week or so, sharing her experiences in the adult film world and her love of computers and video games. It was a blog long before that neologism took hold.

About 2 1/2 years ago, she met, fell in love with, and married fitness guru Don Lemmon. She retired from the adult film business. They moved to Hawaii, had their first child about a year ago, and moved to Utah. She's 8 months pregnant with their second. She's shared every step along the way, including her joy in finding a man she truly loved and having a daughter with him. As she slipped out of the public eye and into her private life, she updated her bulletin less frequently, so I checked it less frequently - maybe once every couple weeks. By some chance, I happened to check it Sunday morning.

Don was killed Sunday returning from a business trip in Las Vegas, leaving Asia an utterly distraught unemployed, pregnant mother of a toddler. My wife & I met her once, about 4 years ago, for about 3 minutes, so I have no idea whether she is as friendly as she seems on her web site, but this news devastated both of us. Neither of us have had a close experience with sudden tragedy, and this seemed especially unfair - a brutally short end to what had been a happy story.

I'm not sure how we connect with people we've never met. Asia, Ces & Carol from Drink At Work, Alice of Finslippy - the more of their personal lives they share, the more I'm invested in them, and the tighter the admittedly one-sided connection to them. What happens when those lives go awry?

Here's what I want you to do: Go to Asia's site (it may be Not Safe For Work, so take care), read her bulletin, and help. Either buy something, donate (as Sue & I have), or both. She's good people.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Returning

The weather here is miserable. Hail and rain and a bit of sunshine and more rain. Is there a better song to counter the dismal grayness than Fountains Of Wayne's "Radiation Vibe"? I think not, sirs and ma'ams. "Shine on, shine on, shine on", indeed. Hear that, sun?

I've decided to increase the scope of this blog, since I was getting bored trying to squeeze anything meaningful out of a silly habit like collecting recordings of live music. I've no idea how large that scope now is, or how often I'll post, but, hey, hope you haven't cancelled your RSS feed of me.

The latest Rogue Wave album is very good. So is the only album by Råg I Ryggen (review), great if you like early '70s hard rock, especially - but not exclusively - Uriah Heep.

Also worth hearing are Naked April, part of the Twin Songs empire. Half folk, half 2nd iteration King Crimson. The other bands on the label are of interest if you're a fan of the harder Crimson stuff or California Guitar Trio.

Oh, and the new David Gilmour seems rather dull, like "A Pillow Of Winds" for 50-60 minutes. If you want to hear him at his finest, THE DARK SIDE OF THE MOON is still the best bet. Before that, the band was still a little unfocused. After that, too self-indulgent. Did "Dogs" need to be 17 minutes long? I submit that it did not.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

A Fitting Tribute

Last time I wrote, it was about covers of single songs. There are also bands whose sole purpose is to play other bands' music, or another band's music. The former are called cover bands, and play in bars and clubs all over the world. The latter are called tribute bands, and they play clubs and, sometimes, even theaters.

A certain amount of fanatical devotion (and expenditure) is necessary to precisely replicate a concert for a group of people perhaps not yet born, let alone able to attend the original. Matching, and rewarding, that devotion are the people who record these concerts. That's right - you can get a recording of a show by a tribute band that duplicates the original show, of which you can also get a recording.
In fact, some tribute bands study those earlier recordings and mimic every bit of them, and the band members dedicate their careers to "being" the other band as much as possible. For those who couldn't see the original show, it's a stirring experience.

There are other fields to plow in the tribute band world, though, recontextualizing material to provide a fresh look at its roots, or disregarding them entirely in favor of just doing whatever the new band damn well pleases. Blue Floyd are just such a band. They "endeavor to deconstruct the classic compositions of the legendary Pink Floyd, into their primal, elemental form." What does that mean? Well, the band members are late of The Allman Brothers, The Black Crowes, and Phil Lesh and Friends, so it means lots of jamming.

Post-DARK SIDE Pink Floyd were very disciplined when playing live. The timing of films and sound effects saw to that, especially on THE WALL. Blue Floyd take it in the other direction, applying the early Floyd methodology evident on UMMAGUMMA and concert recordings through the early 70s to later-period songs from WISH YOU WERE HERE, ANIMALS, and THE WALL, extending them by adding jammy sections and solos, extending the music more organically than the original band could.

Though it might seem hard to believe, Pink Floyd regularly played blues jams. Blue Floyd find the residue of blues in songs like Have A Cigar and pull it out through endless meditations on the main riff. If you find unstructured playing annoying, this is not for you, and their hit ratio is somewhere around 60%, but it's refreshing to hear classic rock songs as starting points, not waxworks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Last Idiot

Jefito has posted the last installment of my Idiot's Guide to Genesis. One of these days, I'll dig through my Genesis collection and say something trenchant about them. Just you wait.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Copy Right

When a band plays another band's song, one of two things happens. Either they play is straight, either as an homage (Radiohead's take on Can's "Thief") or an ironic sendup (Faith No More's version of The Commodores' "Easy"); or they tear it apart, either to explore its inner workings and expand on them (John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" or Bill Frisell's "Live To Tell") or because they want to make fun of it (at least 1/3 of the songs on those Pravda K-Tel parodies of the '90s).

Whether it's Judith Owen turning "Smoke On The Water" into a piano ballad or Scott Miller faithfully echoing Nico on "Fairest Of The Seasons" (I bet it's the first time he's had to transpose a vocal line up an octave), it's become almost de rigeur to do cover songs in a live setting, to prove both your chops and your taste, and sometimes your sense of humor. Since most musicians start out in cover bands, returning to your roots makes sense. What bands do with, and to, the songs they already know makes for interesting listening.

Yo La Tengo pay tribute to The Ramones with a letter-perfect (for Yo La Tengo) version of Sheena Is A Punk Rocker from a show in Sweden in 1997. Respectful, although it's much easier to pay respect to a band whom everyone in your world loves.

Camper Van Beethoven take a bigger risk with an extended smashup of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk. They play the song straight, and then pull it inside out, sprinkling in samples and whacking things about on laptops and otherwise. It's a much more interesting take, because you've no idea when, if ever, the song will end.

Playing someone else's song gives musicians a chance to figure out what, if anything, they got from the original. Sometimes it's chords and structure, and sometimes it's freedom.

Monday, November 07, 2005

More Guestiness

Another week, another part of the Idiot's Guide to Genesis. I'm also available in audio form from Delicious Agony, a streaming prog rock station. I do four shows a week, three of them on Tuesdays, all full of the best oooo-eeee-oooo-eeee on offer.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I'll Be Your Guest

I've got a guest spot for the next 3 Tuesdays at Jefitoblog, with a three-part Idiot's Guide to Genesis. His site's a lot of fun for the musically inclined, especially the Idiot's Guides. I don't like Toto, and at least I can confirm that by reading about their entire discography.

I haven't updated the content here in a while, but that's because I'm really lazy. Plus I'm working a lot. But mainly I'm lazy.