We were a little slow this go around getting to press with the new edition you are reading, but then its been trying times all around with the uncertainty of a big election year leading to more uncertainty as we enter a new American era with the Trump inauguration in 2017. We don’t know what the future holds for us but we do have a sense of faith in why we began this venture to begin with and a renewed sense of purpose as we move forward.
3 A Little Q&A with... Bob Bert by Michelle Montavon
Flipping Through 45s with Sir RoundSound
We don’t aim to change the world with our humble little periodical but we do hope to create a dialogue and a discussion and thereby a community where we can all participate and celebrate. Music, art, theater, poetry, and all the modes of expression are the very foundation of our society in that they provide the means for sharing new ideas and concepts (as well as reaffirming old ones) that improve our way of life and give new focus to our communal future.
August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson by Kato McNickle
The Well a short story by Scott Perrin
On The Road with... Mr. Ray of Miracle Legion
Mostly, we believe that forums like The Cut-Up frame the dialogue and allow a place to spur thought and imagination and create a conversation that allows us all to share our knowledge with one another and, with hope, grow through that experience. Whether you are on this side of the fence or that, you dig this band or hate that one, find one poet articulate or another distracting, or you believe in a politician fiercely (or perhaps despise them even more so), the beauty of our shared American experience is that this seeming dichotomy and division is actually what makes us stronger. We are afforded the true luxury of hearing all sides of an argument, an issue, or an idea and can then make our own decisions about what is right and wrong, good or bad, and truly important to ourselves, our family, community, and country (if not the world). With that, we hope that you enjoy this new issue. We hope too that you’ll take what you read and share it with others and open a dialogue and discussion around what you read. That you’ll share the paper with others and that you’ll engage us with your thoughts on our work. Thank you for reading.
the cut-up a zerowork reactor
Issue Three :: Winter of Our Discontent Publisher
Richard L. Martin Contributors
Kim Abraham Jason Bischoff-Wurstle Daniel Boroughs Paul Boudreau Dave Brushback Danielle Capalbo Stephen Chupaska Stephen Chuchuliev Sebastian Coppotelli Frank Critelli Steve Dalachinsky Chris Daltry Jennifer Dauphinais Peter Detmold Bob Farace Dom Forcella David Freeburg Agilika Gaitanikova
Ron Gallo Tom Kauffmann Mariana Marinova Chip McCabe Michael McNabney Kato McNickle Kid Millions Michelle Montavon Ray Neal Heather R. Patterson Scott Perrin Karen Ponzio Colin Roberts Bradley Sheridan Jason Silva Leda Starcheva Michael Walters Dean Wareham
5 The Girls From Ruby Falls by Chip McCabe
10 The Open Mind of a Studio: Music at Mother Brother by Danielle Capalbo 11 Record Store Tour... Mystic Disc by Stephen Chupaska 12 Reviews: Will Butler, Yer Trash, William Tyler, Solange, Political Animals, Kate Mick, Plywood Cowboy, Rivener, Animal Flag, Stefan Christensen, Yussef Kamaal, and The Cardinal Spins by Sebastian Coppotelli, Danielle Capalbo, Daniel Boroughs, Chip McCabe, Chris Daltry, and Dave Brushback 14 The Cut-Up Gallery .::. Curated by Michael McNabney featuring Agilika Gaitanikova, Leda Starcheva, Mariana Marinova, and Stephen Chuchuliev 16 Reviews: Tommy Flanagan by Tom Kauffmann Peter Broderick by Colin Roberts 17
Rock Snaps: The Jam @ The Rat from Peter Detmold
Walter Robinson Interview by Jason Silva
Pixies by Michelle Montavon
Blues Beat by Dom Forcella
In Tribute: Sharon Jones, Leonard Choen, Alan Vega, Abe Vigoda, David Bowie, Paul Kanter, Signe Toly, Scotty Moore, Rob Wsserman, Nick Menza, Mose Allison, Leon Russell, and Prince by Dave Freeburg, Ron Gallo, Karen Ponzio, Karen C.L. Anderson, Dean Wareham, Kim Abraham, Chip McCabe, Peter Detmold, Bob Farace, Steve Dalachinsky, and Rich Martin 22 A Poetry Page: Heather R. Patterson and Jennifer Dauphinais 23
Goodnight, Brooklyn by Kid Millions
24 Reviews: The Olympians, Jeff Parker, and Johnny Mainstrem by Dave Freeburg, Daniel Boroughs, & Chip McCabe 25
Review: Pixies by Michelle Montavon
26 From the Underground to Downtown: A Chat with Manic Production’s Mark Nussbaum by Jason Bischoff-Wurstle 27
Review: Deer Hunter live by Dave Freeburg
Dear Auntie advice column
‘The Problem with the Solution’ by RIchard L. Martin A Publication of
New London Music Festivals, Inc.
No. 19 Golden Street | New London, Connecticut 06320 firstname.lastname@example.org
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” - Barack Obama
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Retrovirus by Jasmine Hirst
A little Q&A with...
- Michelle Montavon
Even if Bob Bert isn’t the SINGLE most Interesting man in the world, he is DEFINITELY one of them. When it comes to the NYC underground music and art scene of the 1970s and 80s, Bob wasn’t only there to witness it, he was a huge part of it. Growing up in New Jersey and seeing legendary venues like Maxwells and CBGB’s get their start was a big part of that, but it hardly stopped there. He began his artistic career as a visual artist in Manhattan (in arguably the greatest art scene in NYC history), and shortly after that, just happened to become the drummer for legendary noise rock bands like Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, Chrome Cranks, Knoxville Girls and more. Today, he is still going strong behind the kit for Lydia Lunch, the Queen of No Wave herself. (Lydia, who started out with James Chance in Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, went on to be one of the most influential NYC artists of the 1980s who continues to push artistic boundaries today... If you don’t know her work, get on it). In the 90s, he and his wife Linda Wolfe were responsible for the edgy indie zine, BB Gun, where he had spotlights on artists like Elliot Smith, Richard Hell, Mo Tucker, Redd Kross and more. Bob does get around... he wrote the liner notes for Suicide’s Second Album, and most recently (October 5th 2016) was on stage with Jon Spencer (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion) and Don Fleming (Gumball, B.A.L.L.) performing songs at the release party of Lou Reed : The RCA & Arista Collection Box Set in Manhattan.
seeing and hearing the first Velvet Underground & Nico album at my older brothers hippie pad in the late 60’s. Not long after I won my own copy on the Seaside Heights boardwalk for a quarter. Still have it! Q: You’ve been touring with groundbreaking underground bands since the early 80s... Who were a few of your favorite tours of all time and why? Who were some of your favorite or most memorable bands that joined you on your early tours? A: The last tour I did with Sonic Youth sometime in 1985 was in England opening up for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds first tour. They Had Rowland S Howard with them and encored every show with the Birthday Party’s “Jennifer’s Veil” & “Wild World.” The last show in London which was documented on the first two sides of the double official bootleg Walls Have Ears was a pretty stellar backstage scene, Mark E Smith, Jeffrey Lee Pierce, Jesus and Mary Chain who were just being hyped at the time. A great memory. With Pussy Galore, Big Black, Laughing Hyenas, opening for the JAMC, going to Japan and having the brand new Boredoms opening in Osaka, the hardest act I ever had to follow.
I asked Bob if he would indulge my first attempt at interviewing someone awesome, and he kindly obliged. These are the things we talked about. Q: What year did you start playing drums and who were a few of your first favorite bands? A: As any musician born in the fifties will tell you, it was seeing the Beatles American debut on the Sunday night Ed Sullivan Show, a variety show which featured at least one music act a week. Shortly after that The Stones, Animals, Dave Clark 5, Who etc also were on the show. I immediately took to the drummers. I took drum lessons for a year when I was 12 in 1967. My first favorite bands were the Beatles, Stones, Yardbirds, Young Rascals, Kinks, Animals, The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Shangri- Las, Motown, pretty much most of the British Invasion and the early Garage bands that scored hits like Psychotic Reaction by the Count 5, still one of my all time favs. Standalls Dirty Water, etc. Q: Was there a specific band or experience that made you turn from mainstream to the counter culture? A: I was always drawn to the Counter Culture, When cool albums were far and few between, my eyes & ears were immediately drawn to albums like Freak Out by Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention. Funny story, On my 14th birthday i was in a department store with my parents who told me i could pick out any album I wanted for a gift. I picked The Fugs’ Tenderness Junction. I few days later I came home from School and it was broken into pieces in my bedroom. My older sisters ratted me out about the dirty lyrics and my mother destroyed it. The one that changed my life was
Q: You recently took part in the release party for the new Lou Reed box set that came out. It looked amazing--how did that come about and who else was in attendance? A: Yeah, that was a magic night that came about when Don Fleming, who is Lou Reed’s archivist, suggested to Jon Spencer that he play fuzz bass & I play drums on two Lou Reed songs (I Can’t Stand It & Waves of Fear) for this swank box set bash happening in the penthouse of the Standard Hotel. We were followed by legendary photographer Mick Rock showing a short film of him & Lou going through photos which was hysterical and then Mick told stories about hanging with Lou, Bowie & Iggy back in the day which was great! The crowd was a mix of Sony execs, Laurie Anderson, Lou’s sister and a bunch of musicians like Lee Ranaldo, JG Thirlwell, Yo La Tengo etc. Needless to say, the coolest swankiest gig of my life, so I had to spring for this amazing box set which was Lou’s last project before he left us. Q: I know you’ve been friends for ages, but where and when did you actually meet Lydia Lunch? A: I was a huge fan since 78, I actually met her on November 3, 1982 at the very first show I played with Sonic Youth at CBGB. Usually when you meet
someone you worship you can be disappointed, but we hit it off right away and have been good friends ever since. She is the most creative, funny, brilliant, hardworking, human I’ve ever met and I love her dearly. Playing in Retrovirus and touring the world with her these past 4 years has been the best musical experience of my life. A total non stop blast !!! Q: How did it come about that you started playing with her over the last few years, and had you played with her in the past, outside of the collaboration with SY? A: A few little things here and there, She sometimes introduces me to people as the one who has seen more of her performances than anyone. Anytime she did anything in NYC, I was there, So playing a retrospect of her musical history with Retrovirus is a dream come true. She had been contacting me to do a different project which evolved into Retrovirus but I was housebound going through a miserable time being a full time nurse to my wife Linda for many years. As soon as she passed, I contacted Lydia and said count me in. Q: What about Weasel Walter? How did he end up in the mix? He seems like the perfect fit. Small world story: in the mid 90s when I lived in Chicago, I was acquainted with him when he worked at Dr Wax... he turned me on to US Maple, and his own bands, of course. A: Well, once she decided to do this, I was the first one she called, Algis Kizys from early Swans was on board and we needed to find a guitarist, we spent month’s trying to enlist everyone from Paul Leary of the Butthole Surfers etc. Weasel got wind from somebody and he contacted Lydia and said I’m the guy. Lydia called me and said the search is over. WW is a musical and music history genius. He knows Lydia’s history better than she does. A typical introduction to a song would be Lydia- Weasel what year did I write this one. WW1979. He showed up at the first rehearsal knowing how to play all the songs like he’s been playing them for years and here’s a cat known for his amazing drumming. Tim Dahl eventually replaced Algis on bass who is also beyond talented and Weasel’s close friend. We’ve been on tours where those two will have week long discussions in the van about the Village People or tranny Casualties like Pete Burns & Marilyn or some bad hair metal bands while Lydia & I look at each other and roll our eyes. Q: While the industry would like people to believe that anyone over 27 can’t offer a fresh or new perspective, artists like Lydia Lunch are still actively pushing the envelope of what is expected and accepted. Another great example is the recently passed Alan Vega of Suicide, who was making challenging art well into his 70s. Do you think that perception is worse today than it was in the 80s? Seems to me like older artists were still considered relevant back then compared to today. A: Of course, When you have people like Alan Vega & Lydia Lunch who have never stopped creating brilliant work and one of their best creations was themselves and their image that transcends time. Today on one hand, you have the internet keeping the great artists around forever for future generations to rediscover. On the other hand, I don’t know, maybe I’m jaded but I don’t see much today that is very groundbreaking. I do like the fact that i can now see things like shows i played with Sonic Youth in the 80’s or gigs I remember on the web.
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Q: How are current audiences receiving you? Does it seem like new kids are discovering LL for the first time? Have the European tours been super different than the shows here at home? A: Not that much different, although we pretty much only play major cities in both places. Lydia has a great mixed audience varying from dudes my age and older to young goth girls in the front mouthing all the lyrics. Gays love her, she’s like the No Wave Cher, haha, We get treated like royalty everywhere we go, which we should. With Retrovirus, I’ve been to places I’ve never been before like Australia, New Zealand, Colombia, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Moscow etc. I truly hope it never ends. Q: There is no doubt technology has changed the underground. As someone so involved in the 80s underground music scene, you toured the world without access to technology. If something went wrong in another country, you couldn’t ask google to translate another language or find a solution on your phone. While that had to be scary, you were also able to experience things in a very different and real way. You have also spent a lot of time touring the world with technology at your fingertips... which did you prefer and why? A: It’s like night & day! I didn’t tour Europe for like 15 years, since the Knoxville Girls in like 1999. In the old days, you had to change money, get rid of drugs every day, deal with paperwork at the borders for hours, walk for miles looking for a pay phone that worked, then come home to a phone bill which was way more than you made on the six week tour of sleeping on cat pissed soaked floors. Now you play a show and before your gear is packed up, people on the other side of the world are watching on Youtube. Perfect example was the Pussy Galore reunion show at Maxwell’s in 2011.
A: Well for the most part NYC is a dead zone and will never again be what it was. I do tip my hat to Jesse Malin for trying to keep the old world vibrant with his cool clubs. Bowery Electric is a great venue where you can see still acts from the past. His new small club Berlin is intimate and I’ve had many a fun night there. There are still underground things going on, especially in Brooklyn that Tim with his band Child Abuse and Weasel with Cellular Chaos and all their out jazz and avant guard side projects. Also the very swank Roxy Hotel is trying to get a kind of Max’s scene going. They gave Lydia a suite to live in for 3 months while she put’s on a few spoken word events combined with readings and out jazz. I did go to a club on Avenue C a few weeks ago which was all fancy restaurants and groups of preppies all around. They would of been dead if they wandered over there in the 80’s.
So we printed up that many of #7, the final issue in 2004 with Genesis P-Orridge on the cover and I still have a few boxes of them left.
Q: You are also widely known for your AMAZING candids of NYC during the art scene of the 1970s onward. You captured so many iconic people from the underground over the years... From Debbie Harry, Andy Warhol and Lou Reed in the 70s, to John Waters, Steve Albini, and Vincent Gallo, and the list just goes on. Did you ever run into to trouble in the early days taking unauthorized pics with a bulkier camera that was difficult to hide?
A: Not really, but the book is going to be satisfying.
A: No, I had a telephoto lens so even though it looks like I was in their faces, I was on the other side of the room. Today with Photoshop you can make a shitty photo look great and crop it so it looks like you were even closer. Vincent Gallo shots were by Richard Kern and taken when I interviewed him.
Q: You have been involved in the NYC art and music scene for decades... there used to be a time when everyone was different and doing their own thing while still contributing to the larger scene. With so many great venues and record stores and galleries closing their doors, do you think there is still a vibrant underbelly in NYC, or is it really being turned into a mall with frozen yogurt stores in every corner? How different is it today than it was in the 80s, and what if anything would you like to see change?
A: Seven issues starting in 1995 and finishing in 2004. It was a lot of work, much of it done by Linda. Every issue we did we thought would be the last. As you can see magazines are becoming a thing of the past like books. There was getting less & less places to sell it. When See Hear closed in NYC, the end was near. I like all the issues for different reasons. Q: Can you find them anywhere these days, like archiving them online? Q: Any advice for people trying their hand at zines today? A: Have fun, we started doing it because I had a inside connection with most of my hero’s so the interviews were more personal and fun than most of the ones I was getting at the time. It got us invited to a lot of shows, parties and events, free records, cds. I would imagine in this day in time, doing an actual printed zine would be very difficult. Just stay creative and don’t ask stupid questions and interview people with a story. Q: Obligatory SY question... Where did you meet each member and in what year, and what was the very first practice as a band like? A: I was aware of Sonic Youth because I saw a piece on them in NY Rocker, a great newspaper zine. Glenn Branca was starting a record label called Neutral and Sonic Youth was the first release. I bought it when it came out and went to see them a few times and really liked what they were doing. I saw a flyer not long after that in the same store that Sonic Youth needs a drummer, I met them all together at a diner on Ave A called Leshko’s. Then we went over to the windowless Bunker on Ave B and 6th St. where Michael Gira lived and Sonic Youth & Swans rehearsed. i wasn’t a very good drummer, having only recently started playing again in the first band that I accidentally got into for a few months before that. They did call me back.
Q: Many people may be surprised to hear that PG was one of the hardest working bands out there. You guys practiced all the time, but had a very distinct sound due to the way you tuned (or didn’t tune) the guitars. What’s your favorite misconception about the band? Also, many of us missed out on the Pussy Galore reunion you did a few years ago... What are the chances of having that happen again, do you think everyone would be on board for another show at some point? Please say yes! :) A: One of the biggest misconceptions I think was that people would say it sounded like it was recorded in a trashcan or something when it was recorded in good studios with the likes of Steve Albini, Wharton Tiers, Kramer etc. When Nirvana came out with the slickly produced Nevermind and calling it Grunge, I was like if this is Grunge, what were we? oh yeah Pigfuck ! As far as it happening again, it’s totally up to Jon, as it was his band, I nearly fell off my computer chair when i got the email about doing that show. Everyone asks me about it and I would do it in a heartbeat but I’m just the drummer!
Q: How long did it run? What made you decide to stop publishing, and were there any favorite issues?
Q: Do you have any personal faves or photos that you’re most proud of? Do you have a site for your collection? Because you really should. A: My personal faves are Debbie Harry & yeah Lou with Danny Fields, Warhol, all in the audience at the Bottom Line in 1977 for a Feelies, Talking Heads, Bryan Ferry show. I’m also glad that I was the only one to bring a camera on the very first Sonic Youth/Swans, Pussy Galore tours. I am currently compiling a book of my photos, text & BB Gun exerts to be published at some point by HoZac Books. Q: What year did BB Gun publish its first issue, and who was on the cover? A: 1995. Demolition Doll Rods. Q: How far was BB Gun distributed at it’s height? A: Issue #6 with Vincent Gallo on the cover was the biggest seller at 5000. We were picked up by Barnes & Noble & Tower. It went into a 2nd printing.
Q: Did it produce any songs that would later be developed and played in a set, or was it just a jam to feel each other out? Did you play any covers at your practices? If so, what? A: I really don’t remember, it may of been the skeletons of a few songs from Confusion is Sex. And maybe some songs from the first EP. Q: What’s next for you? A: I have my side project with Kid Congo Powers & Mick Collins called the Wolfmanhattan Project which recently released a single on In The Red Records and have a great album, Blue Gene Straw, already recorded. Hopefully that will turn into a working live act at some point and like I said working on the book. Otherwise just trying to stay healthy and live life to it’s fullest. XO You can catch Bob Bert tearing it up with Lydia Lunch’s Retrovirus (go LIKE their page on FB!) and be sure to check out his amazing artwork by visiting facebook.com/BobBertartwork
Flipping through 45s with Sir RoundSound
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The Girls From Ruby Falls - Chip McCabe
The wind whispered gently through the field of bluebells and coneflowers, kissing each fragile petal with forgotten secrets and empty promises. They swayed and danced in unison around two little girls who welcomed the momentary respite from the sweaty grasp of another dusty, summer day. Two Tennessee wildflowers, lying ever so still, surrounded by their kindred spirits as their steely blue eyes stared up into the quickly approaching dusk. The grey and black hues of the storm they didn’t realize was approaching meshed with the various blue shades of sunset to form a canvas of danger and redemption. Iris remembered the sky had been pink that morning. It was a cold and dark pink that was as melancholy as it was pretty. She thought it was the kind of pink she’d seen coloring the dresses those ladies would wear when they were sinning up on the ridge. What was it Daddy had said about that pink sky this morning? Laurel knew. Pink sky at morning, sailor’s warning. They didn’t know any sailors, but it sure was a pretty sky. Thunder rumbled low and long, rolling across the horizon. Two sets of bare feet kicked up lazy, little dust clouds on the dirt road. Each foot hugging and caressing every pebble as their owners delayed their inevitable return home one languid footstep at a time. The wind had died a slow death and the resulting stillness in the air fetched a thick, oppressive heat. The kind that finds clothes sticking to skin with little effort. The fetid smell of the adjacent swamp hung in the air like an algae covered veil. The bullfrogs and cicadas had fallen silent leaving just the sounds of bare feet on a parched road and another low, long rumble of thunder. The storm was closer now. Laurel thought about what Mama had said about the storms, so few and far between this thirsty summer. Iris knew. Storms never last.
The sky was dim and angry now, almost night before the sun had finally finished its rounds. A new wind had kicked up, more menacing and unforgiving, carrying with it furious voices from up around the bend. Voices that had both defined and destroyed childhood. The girls stood to the side of the dirt road, peering through the brush pines and hickory at the old clapboard home, their faces long and their souls longer. A small swath of frayed, pink fabric lay in the jimson weed and blood dripped long and slow from one of its leaves. A crimson-stained creek, a tributary of anguish emptying into hopelessness. Thunder cracked and they could feel the gentle rain begin to sluggishly wash away the grit and grime of the day. Tiny droplets of cool water ran down their soiled skin. Their tangled hair that had once blown so freely in a hopeful breeze was slowly being muted. Their eyes, fixated on dilapidation and broken promises, rained as well. A single gunshot cracked across the yard, through the woods, into the field. It echoed through their minds, across all space and time. It was the sound they feared the most, yet knew they’d eventually hear. What was it Daddy used to yell at Mama? Iris and Laurel knew. Mama was having supper with Jesus that night. The sky was blacker now, colored with swirls of malice and mayhem. They ran long and hard. They ran until their lungs burned and their muscles tightened. They ran until the rain stung their faces like a hundred went hornets, and the wind tore at their ragtag dresses. They ran, hands clasped together, unwilling to let the other go now or forever. They ran and ran, hoping to run right out of themselves, to outrun their pasts, to outrun the darkness. What was it that preacher had said? Iris and Laurel remembered. You can’t outrun the darkness, but you can outlive it. girlsfromrubyfalls.com
We Got A Thing That’s In The Groove b/w Tired Running From You Karen Records Detroit, Michigan - 1966
The most consistent way to get a crowd of people moving on a dancefloor is to play a song that everyone knows and loves. That tends to be my approach when DJing a wedding. But when I’m spinning records in a bar, I tend to play music that the average person doesn’t recognize. So I resort to Plan B: play songs with undeniably infectious dance rhythms. “We Got a Thing That’s In the Groove” by The Capitols has spent many years as an honored resident in my DJ box for this very reason. With its conga intro and fast paced Latin infused bass line, this tune is pure candy for dancers. The Capitols were a Detroit based singing group known for their own vivacious dance moves. The trio, comprised of Donald Storball (their principal writer), Richard McDougall, and Samuel George, created a smash hit in 1966 with their dancefloor classic Cool Jerk. Listening to the two songs back to back, it is evident that “We Got a Thing” was an attempt to recreate the success of “Cool Jerk.” Alas … that level of success would never arrive for this record or any of their other follow ups (they’re often considered a one-hit-wonder). Nevertheless, “We Got a Thing” is my favorite of the two. The flipside of the record, Tired Running from You, is another boogaloo influenced dancefloor gem that, frankly, will be getting more attention in my DJ sets moving forward. Tired has that powerful yet sweet melodic force that has come to define the Northern Soul sound. But the Latin groove sets it apart from being just another Motown sound-alike.
- David Freeburg
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August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson Presented by Hartford Stage
- Kato McNickle There is a geography that drives August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, staged earlier this season at Hartford Stage, that describes a larger world while contained within a home in Pittsburgh, PA. This Pulitzer Prize winning play is part of a ten-part cycle of works dedicated to each decade of the twentieth century that offer glimpses of the African-American experience. The Piano Lesson is set in the 1930’s Hill District, the neighborhood where Mr. Wilson was a boy. The interior ground floor set created for the Hartford Stage production is rendered so that a cut-away reveals a threestory brick residence meant to resemble the author’s boyhood home. It is an effective detail included in this impressive design. The play begins in the predawn hours with the arrival of Boy Willie, played with assurance by Clifton Duncan. He has a truckload of watermelons he and his friend Lymon, portrayed with easy charm by Galen Ryan Kane, have driven north to sell in a city beginning to feel the first chill of autumn. Boy Willie is a man looking for fast cash who uses the trip north to visit the home of his sister Berniece, played by Christina Acosta Robinson. In addition to watermelons, he intends to sell the unique piano connected to several generations of his family that is maintained by his sister. As far as Berniece is concerned, the piano is not for sale. The piano at the heart of the play is a piece of art and history as much as musical instrument. Its exterior is carved with depictions of ancestors who were slaves that lived to see emancipation, but who continued to be bound to the old oppressive system. The piano was created as a means to keep the torn family together, at least as an image if not in reality. At the time of its creation, people were bought and sold as commodities. One of these enslaved people was a skilled woodworker, and from his hands came the incredible carvings on this piano. It was tooled as a mnemonic device capable of creating both harmony or discord, as metaphor and as literal sound. Three generations later the piano is valuable to an outside buyer as a piece of important folkart, and this is the crux of the play’s conflict. Boy Willie wants to sell it and use his half of the money to buy property and make his claim on the world. Through the sale of the piano he hopes to secure his own mark on the map, and to grow things up from the ground to sell. His sister Berniece, however, is invested in what the piano means to their identity as a family. Their father was killed trying to reclaim the piano for them, and after his death their mother spent her life polishing the wooden frame until her fingers bled, rubbing her blood into its grain with the oil. The piano is a family legacy in profound ways. This production is most alive when it honors the heightened rhythms of Mr. Wilson’s
language, and when it takes time to sing the traditionally styled music within the play. A standout performance is delivered by Tony Award winning Cleavant Derricks as Wining Boy. His ability to embrace the languagedriven work and perform on the thrust stage propels his characterization. It is a treat every time he sits at the piano to play and sing, equally accomplished with joyful tunes or blues inspired soliloquies. The primarily male ensemble breathes urgency into the remembered tales of family and sacrifice as they describe the events that haunt them. All of the men share stories of their movement north, of places they have traversed, and of the people no longer with them. They mark each place with a woman, an old love or a dalliance, sweet to remember and all fixed in the past and some other point on the map. The men in this story are transient, moving from place to place, while the women dot the geography like thumbtack place holders. The female pin-point on this map is held by Berniece, who is raising her young daughter and caring for the piano that she no longer wishes to play. She is a woman full of grit and perseverance, and gives voice to one of Wilson’s most powerful observations in this play: “You trying to tell me a woman can’t be nothing without a man. But you all right, huh? You can just walk out of here without me—without a woman—and still be a man. […] Everybody telling me I can’t be a woman unless I got a man. Well, you tell me—you know—how much woman am I?” In this production, however, as embodied by Ms. Robinson, Berniece often seems to float in from some other play, and rarely appears to inhabit the reality of this particular world. She offers a careful performance, hitting her marks, and often holding her hands at her sides, folded in front, or clasping one hand to her neck when she is pressed to make a decision, but offers little to convincingly deliver the role. A welcome presence in the second act is the introduction of Grace, a woman in town looking for a good time that Boy Willie sneaks into the house hoping to be unobserved. Toccarra Cash brings a vibrancy to the role, and with fewer than ten minutes of stage time, makes a memorable impression. The production is helmed by Jade King Carroll who turned in a well-received coproduction of Having Our Say at Hartford Stage and Long Wharf Theater last season. He has also directed at the O’Neill Theater Center as part of the National Playwright’s Conference in Waterford. This production is a strong follow-up for this director. He understands how to balance the scope of the play with the size of the playing space. Although, the play falters somewhat in the final moments when belabored with spectacle that gives the audience too many things to look at all at once, causing some of the central action—like the playing of
the piano—to become muddled or lost. A production that had been careful with timing and nuance began at this point to hurry its conclusion, as if someone became suddenly aware of the clock. Hartford Stage offers a solid production of a great American play. The ensemble cast manages to drive the play with poignancy and varied artistry. The design of the show is detailed and ambitious, with assured direction by Mr. Carroll. This production is worth seeing to become better acquainted with the towering work of August Wilson. “THE PIANO LESSON” by August Wilson, directed by Jade King Carroll, closed on Nov. 13, 2016. Their current show is “A COMEDY OF ERRORS” by William Shakespeare, directed by Darko Tresnjak, on stage through February 12, 2017 at Hartford Stage, 50 Church St., Hartford. Performances are Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $90. 860-527-5151, hartfordstage.org.
a short story by Scott Perrin
I woke. As I opened my eyes, my head pounded and vision blurred. My clothes smelled of dirt and I felt a large, recently formed bruise on my right leg. The last thing I can remember is sitting down in my car in the parking garage to leave work. I was staring at the steering wheel and felt my concentration start to fade and my vision go. The next thing I knew I was here, wherever here was. One thing is for sure, I did not get here on my own. I sat up, letting my body fall backward against the slightly curved wall behind me. I looked up through a cylindrical opening as moon beams fell down upon my face. It seems I was in a well. I paused and listened but heard nothing from the surface - no traffic, no people, only the distant sounds of nocturnal insects. The well must have been in disuse for quite some time as the ground was completely dry. My confusion and the pain in my head and leg had so far suppressed my panic of the situation, until I focused my eyes across from me at the darkest section of the well. There was movement and I realized that I was not alone. My entire body tensed, no part of me moving except for my studying eyes. I was sizing up the other being, trying to decide if I was going to have to fight for my life. I heard a low groan, the being in the well was another man. Trembling, I managed a choked, “Who are you?” No reply. My eyes were acquainted with the dark now and I could see the figure was analyzing me as well. “Who are you?” I asked again, my voice a bit more demanding in tone. “Rick Darger,” the man said. “Who are you?” “Alex Gram,” I replied. In the dim moonlight, I could see Rick was in his mid30’s, around the same age as me, possibly a little older. He was slightly taller and heavier than me and spoke in a gravelly tone. I asked him how he had ended up down here, still suspicious that he may have had something to do with my own predicament. He claimed to work in the same office building as me, and his story closely paralleled with mine. We were both sitting in our cars, ready to begin our drive back home when our vision blurred and we lost consciousness. We concluded that there had to be some kind of chemical either sprayed or applied to the inside of our vehicles to cause our condition. I told him that I couldn’t think of anyone who would possibly do this, or have any reason to, and he replied the same. After more mutual interrogating, we reluctantly accepted each other’s story. We began to examine our surroundings. The well was circular and grew wider from the top down toward the bottom, a length of about fifty feet. It was constructed of large stone bricks which were quite smooth. Aside from that, there was not much else of note except for a patch of moss growing in between some of the stones. There looked to be no means of escape - no ladder, no rope, and no convenient footing as to scale ones way back up to the surface. We were trapped, that I was certain. Moments later, we heard footsteps closing in on the surface of the well. My heart gradually grew to outpace the footsteps as they closed in on the opening. With heightened senses, Rick and I looked at each other anxiously. There was a pause, and we heard nothing. Then, Rick shouted toward the surface, “Down here! We’re down here!” Again, silence. We looked at each other once more, when at that moment we heard a noise from above us. We looked up to see something at the top of the well. As it came closer, we saw that it was a wooden bucket attached to a rope. The stop-starting motion at which the bucket dropped caused me to picture the stranger’s hands lowering it down to us. A smell overwhelmed us, it was the properly cooked flesh of animal. Our stranger was lowering us steaks. As the smell filled my nostrils, it made me realize how hungry I was. This brought no relief however as I indicated to Rick, “This must be the person who brought us down here.” The bucket finally reached us and we quickly grabbed the steaks, one for each of us. As our stranger holding the rope at the surface felt the contents of the bucket disappear, they quickly pulled the bucket back up to the opening of the well and then over the side. Then, we heard the footsteps from before, only this time growing fainter instead of nearer. “Hey asshole, come back! Help us!!” Rick shouted in desperation. The footsteps continued on their way growing ever softer. Judging from the hunger I was feeling, we must have been unconscious for well over a day. We hesitantly devoured our meals and after several hours of shouting for help, overwhelmed with distress and exhaustion, we decided it was best to try and get some sleep. We would try to figure a way out in the morning when we would have greater visibility. As I lay on my back, I watched the moon slowly move out of view of the well’s opening, engulfing us in darkness. *** The next morning I woke to the banging of the bucket against the side of the well as it lowered down to us. Rick was already standing, waiting for the bucket to come in arms reach. The slightly irritated look on his face seemed to indicate that he intended for me to sleep through this delivery from our stranger on the surface, as to keep all of the contents for himself. “Breakfast?” I said to him. He shrugged his shoulders, his eyes completely fixated on the bucket. A familiar smell came rushing back over me as the bucket grew closer. Our captor was again dropping us freshly-cooked steak. As the bucket came closer, our slight relief for more food turned to an unsettling dismay, there was less this time. When the bucket dropped within reach, Rick pulled it close to him and shouted toward the surface.
“Hey you fucker, where is the other steak?” He pulled the one steak from the bucket and also a canteen with a handwritten note attached to it. The note read, “Finish And Put Back”. We complied, too thirsty to care if there was anything other than water in the canteen and then proceeded to devour the steak. Rick ate his portion first then gave me the rest. He took noticeably more than half of the steak, but in the interest of preserving our alliance I made no mention of it. Once every bit of muscle and fat was consumed, we saw the bucket start to rise. We both watched as it gradually made its way to the surface and was pulled over the side. The smaller portion of food during this delivery set upon me an uneasiness that I could not shake, and I could tell by his quicker mannerisms that Rick was having the same reaction. As we listened to the footsteps above us slowly fade, we decided that we needed to figure a way out, now. We examined the bricks that lay around us making up the walls and floor of the well. The sturdy construction made us quickly rule out any attempts to tunnel our way out, especially with a lack of tools at our disposal. “Here,” Rick said, “I’ll lift you up. See if you can find any spot that we can use as footing.” The well was still quite dark even as the sun rose in the sky. I felt the wall, the smooth brick sides did not seem conducive to scaling. I moved my hand across the clammy wall until I found an area that was slightly weathered. “Hold still,” I told Rick. I reached my fingers around a decaying brick to pull myself up slightly. Rick pushed the bottom of my feet up just enough so that I was able to reach a second area of decaying bricks above the first I had found. I dug one of my shoes into the first section of climbable brick and pulled myself further, no longer with the aid of Rick. I continued my slow ascent about 20 or so feet before I noticed that there were no longer any eroded wall sections to dig my hands into. “Damnit,” I shouted. Looking down to Rick I shook my head. I then directed my attention behind me and saw that at this height, the circumference of the well was small enough that I may be able to lean backward and do a sort of vertical walk with my back pressed against the other side. I let my body fall back against the other side to test this maneuver out, when at that moment I heard the loud scraping sound of wood across brick coming from above me. Our captor on the surface was covering the hole of the well with a large board. The sudden noise startled me, jostling me from my elevated position. I lunged forward, toward the decayed bricks from which I had climbed up. I was able to slow my fall significantly, but the footing was not adequate enough to stop it completely. I hurdled toward the ground, repeatedly gashing my hands on the decayed bricks. The light from above me faded away as I hit the ground, twisting my right leg horribly. I let out an anguished cry as the awful sensations rushed to me from my limbs. I writhed on the ground in intense pain. Although I could not see in the darkness, the pulsing of my sliced open hands made me realize that I must have been bleeding pretty significantly. I quickly ripped off part of the left leg of my office pants to try and soak up the blood, wrapping some around each hand. “Fuck!! Oh my God, are you okay?!” Rick shouted, kneeling down next to me. I felt my eyes beginning to shut. I don’t know whether I passed out from the pain or a combination of stress and exhaustion, but I awoke sometime later feeling a terrible sense of déjà vu. I had a gnawing hunger growing in my stomach and felt extremely weak. Lifting my body up to a sitting position and staring into the darkness, I asked Rick how long I had been out. “Awhile,” he said. “I didn’t think you were going to wake up, you missed a drop.” “What? Did you save me anything?” I shot back. “No, well, like I said, I thought you might have been dead or in a coma or something. It was hardly any food anyway, just one lousy chicken leg.” I was furious, he knew I was still alive. If not for the darkness of the well there was nothing to hide the rage on my face. Being used to three meals a day, this experience was taking its toll on us both. I would do anything to satisfy the hunger growing in my stomach, making itself ever harder to ignore. With growing desperation we had made one more attempt to scale the side of the well. I stood up and helped Rick reach the section of decayed bricks. Merely standing put an immense strain on my leg, and lifting him created such a soaring agony that I collapsed back to the ground as he pulled himself up. In the darkness, Rick was unsure of his footing, which made the ascension incredibly difficult. I quickly lost hope for the endeavor as I soon heard Rick swearing under his breath at a height nowhere close where I had made it to. He abandoned the climb fearing a potentially fatal fall to the ground below. I was able to slow my drop when I had lost my footing, but Rick may have not been able to with the added hindrance of attempting his climb in the dark. Feeling completely helpless, Rick re-assumed his spot on the floor of the well across from me. The hours stretched on, days stretched on. Rick and I spoke little now. The drops from the surface became less frequent and now consisted only of water. With each delivery, as our captor removed the board to lower us the bucket, each of us could see how gaunt the other was beginning to look. I could see the sunken, hollow look in Rick’s eyes as they slowly looked upward at each descending bucket. His cheekbones were now protruding and he had adopted a hunched over posture. The husky person who I first met down here was wasting away before my eyes. We had even taken to fighting over a cricket which I had found and eventually devoured. I had
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also secretly eaten the moss which was growing on some of the stones with no idea if it was edible. The final meal we received was a pear which we split. I normally dislike fruit but I must say, due to the primal craving for food that was consuming me, it was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. One morning, or afternoon, it’s nearly impossible to tell with the small amount of light coming in between the board and the stone brick at the top of the well, and my now erratic sleep schedule which it has induced, I was forced to listen as Rick’s sanity slowly escaped him. He began laughing uncontrollably. Delirium had probably set in from intense hunger. Sitting silently in my section and not saying a word, I listened as he paced back and forth. Then, in a half crying, half screaming shout, he leaped toward the stone brick wall in a mad fury, jumping and hitting the ground only to pick himself up again. Although I could not see, my eyes were wide open, heart racing. I listened as his nails scratched against the wall of the well, convinced he had ripped them off in his manic clawing at the underground masonry. He jumped up five or six more times, continuing his incoherent shouting before finally slumping back to the ground defeated. Still not saying a word, I listened to the sobbing of a broken human being. I tensed at his unpredictability, growing even more worried. Then, I heard the familiar sound of footsteps coming closer. I lifted my head upward as the board was being lifted and the afternoon sun fell on my face. I looked at Rick, confirming my suspicion. He had indeed tore off most of his fingernails, his hands bleeding and trembling. The bucket came over the side and began lowering down to us, both of our eyes now fixated on it. As it came to just about seven feet above the bottom of the well, Rick stood up and jumped to grab it. Swinging from the bucket, he hit the side of the well and fell to the ground, splintering a triangular piece of wood off of it. As the dust rose from where Rick had fallen, so too did the bucket. It was pulled up faster than any time previous, and up with it went our water delivery. “You idiot, there goes our water for the day,” I shouted fuming at Rick. I was furious and wondered how long we could go on without more food and water. I listened as Rick continued to sob, his body turned facing the wall, and turned my head upward to watch the bucket go over the side. Then, a sight I was well accustomed to, the board sliding across the circular opening of the well, and the waning of the daylight. *** What seemed like a day had passed since our last encounter with the monster who dragged us to this eclipsed underground prison. The hunger I was now feeling was unbearable. It was as if my own stomach was consuming me for not satisfying its demand for food. With every movement I made I felt my stomach bend in a new direction of pain, each as intense as the last. I had constant dreams of backyard barbecues, delicious greasy hamburgers, and racks of ribs. I never wanted to leave those dreams because when I awoke I was back here, in this awful place. The well had remained silent since the last delivery incident with the exception of some shuffling and pacing back and forth by Rick, though at this moment the well was completely silent. Rick must be sleeping. I picked my body up feeling very frail and exhausted, even though I’m sure I had just slept for a good ten hours. I leaned backward against the well wall. Giving up, I just waited for starvation or dehydration to take me, tears streaming down my face in the darkness. Then, I heard the distant rhythm of footsteps. They were coming closer, but I didn’t care. Even if we received some water I knew we would be dead soon anyway. I waited as the footsteps stopped at the top of the well, and sighed waiting for my temporary relief of thirst. But nothing happened. I waited for another five minutes or so before yelling, “Hello?” Still nothing. I shouted a few more times and finally the board covering the well was removed, moonlight beaming down, down upon me, and upon what I could only call a man who had now turned feral from extreme hunger. The eyes that stared at me from across the well were not from the same person that was down here with me several days ago. Rick stared at me unblinking, and I didn’t have to guess very hard at what he was thinking. I heard the clang of the bucket against the side of the well as it made its descent. “Rick, are you ok?” I asked raspily. No reply, and still no blinking, just staring at me with deathly cold eyes so sunken into his head that if I had not saw him breathing I would have assumed him dead. Then, the bucket hit the floor in front of us with its contents
gleaming in the moonlight— a butcher’s knife. My heart sank and adrenaline started to flow. My eyes widened as Rick’s breathing became heavier. “Now h-hold on Ri-ick, we can figure so-,” but before I could finish, he jumped up from his position against the wall and made a dash for the knife. I pushed myself up but with my leg still not fully healed, I stumbled awkwardly toward the center of the well, falling upon an already empty bucket. I looked up to see Rick breathing maniacally, his bony frame barely looking like it could support itself. I inched backward as he stood in the center of the well, immersed in the light of the moon. I backed myself to a corner of the well with no anticipation of mercy. Rick stepped forward toward my position, his face now in shadow. All I could see was the reflection of eyes, teeth, and knife. Edging to one side I began to plead with him but it was no use. He inched closer, drawing the blade upward. My voice was choked by fear. I watched the silhouette of this figure quickly sink the knife downward, catching my calf as I tried to move out of its path. I let out a cry of agony as a desperate terror flooded my mind and body. He struck again but I was able to crawl out of range, the knife clanging against the stone brick. On all fours I crawled backward a couple feet before I felt something on the ground behind me. Rick quickly caught up with me and drew the knife over his head with both hands. With every bit of power I had left in my exhausted body I thrust the object I had in my hand at Rick piercing him through one of his eyes and with my heel kicked it with full force. He stumbled backward dropping the knife, before finally collapsing in the center of the well. The moonlight illuminating his now unmoving body. And sticking out of his left eye, the pointed triangular piece of wood that had broken off the bucket. The energy expelled during that altercation left me barely able to move. I was again stuck with the unrelenting feeling of hunger and threat of starvation. The stranger on the outside left the well uncovered, but I knew there was no hope of anyone hearing my cries for help. I lasted another day and a half before I did what I most dreaded I would have to do to stay alive. I dare not go into too many details, but if anyone should find us now, they would find me, a bloody butcher’s knife, and a dead man missing half a calf muscle. Blurry eyed against the cool stone brick wall, I looked up delirious in the afternoon sun, contemplating suicide for what I had done. Suddenly, in the distance, I heard the footsteps of whoever it was that brought me to this hellish prison in the earth. I knew the rhythm of their footsteps from hearing it so many times before, knowing it was never help that had arrived. Then, without a sound, a rope dropped down before me. Was I hallucinating? Was this some kind of trick? I stood up, still extremely weak. Tugging on the rope I found it to be sturdy. Nobody was holding on to it at the top of the well as had been the case with the bucket deliveries, it must have been fastened to something. I grasped it in both hands and pulled myself up as hard as I could. Though I was horribly weakened from the lack of food, my body weight was reduced enough that I required less strength to pull myself upward. Pain shot through my hands as they were still not healed completely from my fall several days prior, but I could hardly care. The urge to be free from this pit was all I needed to reach the first layer of decayed bricks. I dug my feet into them to aid my climb upward. Slowly, I managed to make it to the point I was at many days ago, where the well circumference was small enough to lean my back against the wall behind me. This also helped in my ascent as I made my way up to the surface, and finally reaching the top, out and over the side of the well’s opening, I collapsed on the ground in the heat of the afternoon sun. *** Weeks later, I am here at my apartment back in the city. The authorities have found nothing. The abandoned well was located several towns away in the deep countryside, far away from anyone hearing our cries for help. I walked about an hour to the closest road and hitchhiked to the hospital. They told me I’m very lucky to be alive, but how can one go back to living a normal life after all I had endured? I had eaten a human being, and that will stay with me until the day I die. As will what I found once I crawled out of that hellhole. The rope which I climbed was tied to a large rock on the side of the well. And fastened to the rock by the rope was a note, handwritten, reading— “Thanks for the thrill Alex”.
Feb 3 - Fashion Show After Party Feb 11 - Toronovox Feb 12 - Ratz, Point Blank, GMF Feb 18 - Marvelous Liars, No Ice Mar 04 - Juliet Dinallo Mar 11 - Curtis Mayflower, Dilfopotomus Mar 12 - Fatal Film, The Deacons, & Horns of Ormus Apr 14 - The Outsiders Apr 28 - Throw The Goat May 13 - The Stops!!! May 20 - Robots & Monsters
NEW LONDON, CONNECTICUT
ON THE ROAD WITH...
Mr. Ray of Miracle Legion Time Slip In The Quantum Foam
The unthinkable was becoming reality. Tour dates, guitar strings, airplane tickets, and calloused fingers were regularly on my mind for the first time in twenty years. Those butterflies in the stomach just before the gig were also there, except the last gig had been a long time ago. What would happen? What would the music be like? Maybe I had been looking back through rose tinted glasses all these years. I hadn’t. From the moment we started playing I knew that it hadn’t been a dream and it was happening again. I was the luckiest man in the world. Miracle Legion 2017 US Tour: 4/7 Narrows Center - Fall River, MA 4/8 Mass MoCa - North Adams, MA 4/20 Boot & Saddle - Philadelphia, PA 4/21 Bowery Ballroom - New York City, NY 4/22 Ballroom at Outer Space - Hamden, CT 4/28 Echoplex - Los Angeles, CA 4/29 Chapel - San Francisco, CA
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(Green Man Festival, UK backstage) Green Man Festival in Wales. Plenty of snacks on the table. On the lookout for refrigeration.
(Steve Honest’s Hackney studio in London – June 2016) Mark and I in London rehearsing for a series of two piece shows in the UK in June. Thank you Mr. Honest.
Codfish Hollow Iowa. One of the most amazing venues anywhere. Echinacea in the background.
(Backstage College St. Music Hall, New Haven) Robert Pollard and Mark. This was taken backstage at our first full band gig of the tour in New Haven. A great homecoming. The two hardest working men in show business?
(Snacks & Candy, College St.) Sometimes everybody is on the same page. If they know it or not.
(Columbus Theater, Providence set list) After all these years I still don’t have a clue what most of those buttons do. Thank god Rico does.
(Green Room at Bell House BK) Management love their green tape.
(Green Man FestivaI, UK stage) followed Mark out into the rain. Electrocution briefly crossed my mind.
(Red Sofa, College St.) New Haven again. Looks like it’s about time to rock. I’ll start pacing soon.
(Ray in Iowa Hotel Lobby) The morning after Codfish. We had survived a heatwave, a tornado, and some intense rock. Now a 2 hour drive to a cup of good coffee. As Jon Bon Jovi said “the road’s no place to raise a family”.
(Iron Horse Stage) The legendary Iron Horse Music Hall Northhampton MA. Testify!!
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The Open Mind of a Studio: Music at Mother Brother - Danielle Capalbo
Matthew Vitti, the head of Mother Brother Studios, honed his vocal talents at Lawrence University as part of a small, ambitious program with a homestyle modus operandi. “Our teachers were all full-time, and they lived very, very close to campus,” Vitti said. “My studio classes were actually in my teacher’s living room, where we would sing for our colleagues every week and get criticisms and comments.” That MO stuck. Years later, Vitti would use his own living room to host musical performances of a different kind: intimate live sets called the Salon Sessions that featured local bands from Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. Each group took a day recording free with Vitti and his team of sound and video engineers, including his cousin Michael DiCrescenzo and his longtime friend Jonathon DeCarlo—both pro engineers today, with Emmy Awards under their belts. It was a project fueled by passion, as well as a milestone for Vitti and the modest recording affair he called Mother Brother Studios. More than that, it was the reincarnation of a dream gone by, and a promise kept between brothers. Today Mother Brother operates out of 103 Greenwood Ave. in Bethel, Conn., having upgraded its living room environment but kept its living room ethos. In their downtown storefront, Vitti, DiCrescenzo and DeCarlo run a full-service digital and analog recording studio, with Vitti as the principal engineer. The studio spans two floors, and includes a live room, two isolation rooms, a control room, and a lounge. “More than the equipment or the space, having a trusted listener and player in the studio made the difference,” said Detroit-based songwriter and musician Dower Townes, who traveled to Mother Brother in November 2015 to record a handful of songs with Vitti--now his Vanisher EP--that had never been played with a full band before. “I depended on Matt’s help to transform basement demos and chicken-scratch notes into something cohesive and complete. This he did, engineering the sessions, playing drums, and providing performance coaching.” Mother Brother Studios welcomes musicians of all genres, with one requirement: the drive to create. So far Vitti has produced work for Phil Cohen, Erik Revelli, The Van Burens, Jeremy Bass, VOCES8, and Concordian Dawn, among others. It’s a practice space for several bands, as well, always bustling with a maker’s energy. The next step? Vitti hopes that someone will claim the space for many consecutive days, creating a round-the-clock, sleep-and-work atmosphere. “The studio still needs to be worked really hard,” he said. That’s how Mother Brother Studios began, after all, back in 2007 when the space was a North Bridgeport basement and its name was The B. Working the studio, so to speak, were Vitti and his brother Adam —kin in blood and creativity, and whose relationship underpins what the studio has become. Each of the brothers was a sharp musician with a busy passion for sound, creation and performance; Adam, as a prolific songwriter, in particular, whose work brings to mind the deftly shapeshifting chords and yearning pop melodies of Elliott Smith. Vitti describes his brother’s songs as “breathtaking, complex,
serene, and genuine” on the studio website. For Vitti, the path to music began with a FisherPrice drum set when he was 5 years old—a gift from his music-nurturing parents. “It was so loud, I don’t even know how they put up with that shit,” Vitti says. “The cymbal sounded like you were breaking a plate every time you hit it.” He’s played drums since then, later discovering his natural gift for singing and picking up other instruments along the way. He’s also studied music intensely--focusing his many vocal recitals on German Lieder and American Art Song, and winning first place at the National Association of Teachers of Singing twice in a row Vitti eventually earning a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance in Wisconsin, where he participated in those familiar and informal, yet focused studio settings. His classmates were truly engaged in one another’s education: the development of ideas, style and technique. That experience has informed his approach to running a creative space. The roots of Mother Brother were planted when Vitti graduated from school and moved to Bridgeport; energized by school, and with access to a basement, he and Adam created an ad-hoc studio to play and record, at first as a two-piece and then as a band called Mother Brother. “The idea of it, initially, wasn’t really much of an idea,” Vitti says. “It was just a compulsive urge to create. And so, it started with just writing songs.” In a similar way, the brothers eventually became compulsively interested in the art of recording, inspired by experimentation at The B. They quickly taught themselves with modest gear, sound-treated rooms of their own creation and technical mentorship from DiCrescenzo and DeCarlo—whose project, Dawnamother, was one of the first bands to record at The B. “Matt’s always been really easy to work with,” said Robbie Vozza, guitarist, vocalist and cosongwriter of Dawnmother. Today Vozza is the frontman and songwriter for The Refectory, alongside DeCarlo, Mike DiCrescenzo’s brother Brian, and Ben Stokes. “He’s never been set in a specific way of recording--like, ‘This is how we do guitars, this is how we do vocals.’ For each project, he tries to capture a different kind of sound--the right sound.” As Vitti was developing that recording approach, his ambitions for the studio were growing; he now dreamed of relocating to a customized professional space, where he could recreate the feeling of the basement with upgraded gear and the ability to capture sounds just-right. Yet in August 2014, before the brothers could realize that dream together, Adam Vitti passed away. “He died,” Vitti says, “and nothing was happening. I stopped doing a lot of things after that.” But even in grief, or perhaps especially, Vitti couldn’t step away from music; rather, he immersed himself in it, although the studio became a dream on hold. It was nearly a year later when Vitti was struck by an almost happenstance realization that he needed to reincarnate the brothers’ dream. “I don’t know exactly what jolted me, but I began working toward the goal of the Bethel studio when I stopped being scared of failing, and letting Adam down,” Vitti said. “I realized that if I didn’t do something, I’d drift away from the one
thing that brought me closest to Adam.” That was the start of the Salon Sessions, and a studio named after the band that Adam and Vitti formed back in 2007, Mother Brother. For a while, Vitti and his crack team of engineers, photographers and videographers ran their donation-based live series; you can find all of the videos online, from acts like Amanda Bloom, Parlay Droner, Elephants (Boston), Lucas Brode and Dr. Martino. “This was our first time meeting Matt in person, but it felt like we were old friends,” said Amy Shaw, vocalist, songwriter and bassist for Willimantic’s Dr. Martino. “We had a full artistic experience when we did a Salon Session: audio, video, and even some visual art was provided. While Matt and his team are laid back and easily make you feel comfortable, they’re also professional and put out a quality product.” When the opportunity to secure retail space in downtown Bethel arose, Vitti, DiCrescenzo and DeCarlo partnered with DiCrescenzo’s brother, Brian, and the business he manages, Low Brow Prinshop, to rent side-by-side stores. In many ways, the proximity of the creative businesses and the folks involved are keeping alive the original gist of the family affair. It’s kept alive also by virtue of the fact that its owners are each involved in musical projects that frequent the studio for practice and recording. DeCarlo and DiCrescenzo play in The Refectory with Robbie Vozza, another longtime friend and creative partner. Often while Vitti is mixing upstairs, there are bands at work in the live room—which happens to be, in a lovely twist, in the basement. “Matt isn’t afraid to experiment and he’s not afraid to tell you when you might want to try something different,” said Jared Thompson, a Connecticut musician who drums with Quiet Giant. “He is always open to any my weird ideas and thoughts on how we could capture the drums to match what I hear in my head going into recording. In business for over a year, Mother Brother has enjoyed some highlights as the team creates a name for itself. “I’ve worked with some interesting artists so far,” Vitti says. “We’ve had a lot of fun, we’ve gotten great sounds, and because of what they’re creating, they demand a certain aesthetic. I have to adapt, so it’s a cool exercise.” Even, or especially today, the studio—in history and mission—pays tribute to Adam’s legacy, as Vitti carries a strong admiration for his brother’s creativity and a commitment to the experimentation that first lit their fire for recording. “Adam’s energy,” Vozza said, “is definitely there.” To book a session with Mother Brother Studios, call 475-529-0171 or email Vitti Vitti at MothBroth@gmail.com. motherbrotherstudios.com photos by Russell Hart
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RECORD STORE TOUR...
Freitas, who has worked at shop since 1995, said it’s simple things such as saying hello to customers and also touting the entire downtown Mystic retail world to keep people coming back to shop.
“You’re essentially throwing a party everyday,” he said.
Mystic Disc - Stephen Chupaska
It’s twilight on an early fall Wednesday and Dan Curland is speaking ex cathedra from behind the counter at Mystic Disc. “I’ll tell you why, it’s because Mick Fleetwood and John McVie are the greatest rhythm section in the world, in the history of any band,” Curland said. The pronouncement came at the end of an anecdote Curland told that evening’s congregants, me, his longtime employee and friend Rich Freitas and newish clerk Matt Makela, about hearing Fleetwood Mac’s “Gypsy” playing over the speakers at a supermarket. Curland then found the song, a hit single for the band in 1982, on a copy of ‘Mirage’ in the Mystic Disc’s bins.
And, as Curland puts it, “you have to be open every fucking day.” “I’m only closed on Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas,” he said. Even when snowstorms sock the region in winter, Curland manages to open his doors. “There might a nutcase who wants to spend $50 on a record,” Curland said with a laugh. Such pronouncements might strike some as pedantic and full of bluster, but they are coming from a man who nearly lost his business.
And some of Curland’s business acumen is decidedly analog. “See this,” Curland said, brandishing a composition notebook which logs sales and customer requests. “This does not crash.” Curland said he uses the composition notebooks due to some good advice from his years in the working at Caruso’s Music in New London. “You can’t use spiral notebooks, the pages fall out,” he said.
In order to save the business, Curland sold his house recalls breaking the news to his young daughter.
Before vinyl sales started to take off again, Curland met with his landlords, the Steamboat Wharf Company and had an emotional conversation with them about the fate of his livelihood. “I couldn’t ask for better landlords,’ he said. “They didn’t kick my ass out. They wanted the store to be here; they saw my worth to the town.”
But it was more often the case, that the store was a spot where kids could be with adults that understood them, or the very least made the effort to try. “It was an adult world for kids,” Freitas said. “It taught them what responsibility and accountability were about.”
It’s one of the reason people still walk through the door to flip through the bins, even when all the music in the world can be heard by pressing your thumb on your smartphone screen.
But the Disc is hardly a trading post on a hippie commune, it’s a small business and Curland and his employees are at ease with talking retail as they are with rock music.
After consulting with Freitas, the store decided to abandon stocking new CDs, and went almost completely vinyl. Still the store nearly did not make it.
And that might be the Mystic Disc’s legacy. Along with the adjacent coffeehouse, The Green Marble, the store is natural spot for teenagers to hang out. Of course, sometimes they may engage in less lustrous behavior such as spitting or annoying passers-by with reckless skateboarding and then made to endure Curland’s wrath. His nickname “Dog” does not refer to a breed that would fit in your handbag.
It’s a familiar scene to me and, I imagine, other Mystic Disc regulars, who have been talking music, buying records and hanging out at record shop over the past 33 years.
I kept coming back for the music, obviously, but when I was younger it was also for a dash of counterculture color in a Volvo and khaki pants world. “I like to think it’s more than a record store,” Curland said.
Toward the tail end of the decade, Curland saw his compact disc sales plummet and there were some months he couldn’t make the rent on the only location Mystic Disc has ever known.
“That was hard,” Curland said.
“I played it 19 fucking times in a row,” Curland yelled across the store. Soon, after, ‘Mirage’ is spinning on the shop turntable and Stevie Nicks’ gorgeous vocal on “Gypsy” flies out the speaker; Curland turns up the volume. “Listen to that,” Curland said to me, pointing out Fleetwood’s perfect drumming and the nonchalance of McVie’s bass lines.
I acknowledge and freely inhabit the shopworn romanticism about record stores, from the aficionado clerks saying “Do you have?” and “You might like,” to the eureka of a dollar bin find, to that feeling of albums, now your new albums, in a crinkly brown paper bag. It’s not only the stock of new releases and classics, but the atmosphere of Mystic Disc with its walls covered with album covers and rock memorabilia, that’s kept me a regular for 25 years. I walked out one day the fall of 1991 with a picture sleeve 45 of “Balloon Man” by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians. I still have it filed away on my shelf along with hundreds of albums I’ve bought at Mystic Disc down the years.
L o n d o n
Mystic Disc, despite the plummy location in one of New England’s popular tourist destinations and a loyal customer base, was not spared the tumult that hit of the music industry due to the internet. At first illegal file sharing services such as Napster, then sanctioned sites such as iTunes and Spotify became the primary way people listen to music, record shops, small and large, saw profits stream off their balance sheets. According to the Institute for Music Retail, between 2000 and 2010 more than 4,000 record shops closed in the United States.
It’s perhaps why, after day upon day of being open, enduring booms and busts, CD explosions and a vinyl renaissance why Curland beamed when he told me about a former customer who shopped at the Mystic Disc in the early 1990s. “I got a letter from this woman, who told me she stole a $50 Jane’s Addiction double CD live bootleg about 20 years ago,” Curland said. “I don’t remember her name, but she was a great kid. I tend to remember people by the music they liked.” Along with a note of apology, Curland told me, she included a check for $50.
10 Steamboat Wharf | Mystic, Connecticut 860.536-1312 Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11–6pm Sunday:12–5pm mysticdisclp.com
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12 T H E C U T \ U P _ N e w L o n d o n
Will Butler Friday Night Merge
This live album from Arcade Fire’s Win Butler is meant to archive the temporary lineup he was touring with at the time. The album was recorded mostly on June 4th 2015, which a few seconds of research revealed was a Thursday (take from that what you will). The title makes enough sense, regardless of being a lie, in that it really does capture the feeling of a Friday night on the town. The whole thing is just pure fun in 4/4, nothing particularly challenging but that doesn’t seem to be the point. This is an album meant to capture the feeling of going to see your favorite party band. The tunes are all upbeat rock and roll played right on that perfect line between tight and loose that encompasses so many of the best live shows. I will say that its maybe not a record that you’re going to play over and over again as that lack of complication results to some degree in a lack of depth and immediate relistenability, as well as the stage banter which is cute upon first listen and a little grating by the third. This doesn’t feel like it was meant to capture your imagination as much as your dancing feet however, so I suppose it doesn’t matter. This isn’t a masterpiece musically, but it does a wonderful job of grabbing you by the belt and making you want to go hit the dancefloor with friends. - Sebastian Coppotelli
What Do I Miss? Yer Trash frontperson Zeno doesn’t mince words on the Middletown punks’ politically-charged debut EP, What Did I Miss?, which blisters open with an impeccably dissonant anti-anthem, “Georgie”: “One melting nation, divided under smog / One melting nation cut and bleeding like a hog!” Zeno declares. “Georgie, oh Georgie / make me red, white and blue!” The candid song’s one touch of ambiguity—which Georgie, America?—reveals the sprawling smarts of Yer Trash in : history repeats itself. On “No, Massah,” Zeno tells the world, “I have no master, baby / Oh, I have no god” and growls in the face of the powers-thatbe: “If you build a fence, you wench, I’ll jump right over it.” The Wesleyan fourpiece made its EP in guitarist Will King’s basement. The electrifying band has conjured with stunning authenticity the sound of D.C. punk, with a fresh face and fresh angst. It’s a confrontation, a catharsis and a candid declaration of self that belongs on repeat. - Danielle Capalbo
William Tyler Modern Country Merge
If you’ve ever felt you might be in need for a soundtrack to dawn, William Tyler is here to help. His newest offering Modern Country is fully instrumental, focusing primarily on Tyler’s guitar work, which is complex and pretty without delving into the “look what I can do” trap that so many feature guitarists find themselves caught up in. A backing band of drummer Glenn Kotche (Wilco), multi-instrumentalist Phil Cook (Blind Boys of Alabama) and bassist Darin Grey (Jim O’Rourke) round out all the songs beautifully. The melodies on this record feels both familiar and brand new, a challenge met by only the most talented of songwriters. This whole album feels like it ought to be played only at that moment when the morning mists fade and the sun just begins its ascent, unfortunately that moment is far too short and playing this record in five minute intervals over the course of a series of mornings would be a shame, so maybe, if you can, sit in your darkened bedroom with a fog machine and slowly open the blinds over and over again to hold onto that feeling as long as you can. Or if you don’t want to go through all that effort at least give this one a listen whenever you can. - Sebastian Coppotelli
A Seat at the Table Saint Records / Columbia Have you ever been lulled to sleep by sirens? Then the next day, have you ever woken up and risen to feel like the freest stone flown from the hand of an individual sick of being a shadow in life? To claim your body and be it—all of it through and through. To free up from the perception that all you are is a grain of silt or number and let the form of yourself be fleshed out and be seen. Solange’s record is a call to arms for minorities to rise against that constant pushback of silence and mistreatment that has accosted their bodies for so long. If the black experience should be shared with the larger populace, we can align ourselves with it, and out of solidarity, stand against that barreling tide of oppression, but it is essentially a black experience. I am riveted to the core by Solange’s story and statement with a mighty emotional pull from listen after listen, but I also know the core audience this music is meant for is not of my ethnicity. Eloquently singing with defiant cool calm on “F.U.B.U.”, Solange makes it clear, “for us by us,” and it’s ok if you can’t sing along because even though we got the world in our hands that we’ve taken and stolen for so long, and even though it’s been deemed a gift not to be forgotten, it is essentially something we can’t touch. It is essentially the black experience, its soul we cannot touch. This record is piping hot with its message and yet has a self-conscious ability to deliver it with equal part collective-cool and calm. It’s that R&B/ Soul technique of delivery. In all the fire and brimstone surrounding you, all one can do is listen to the rhythm and nod along to keep a cool head. This reaction should not be mistaken for passivity though. Respect, Empowerment, and Strength. Those few words are the first descriptors that come into my mind when ruminating on the music’s thematic resonance as it takes hold of you. The emotional charge of each lyrical articulation with its delivery is as much out of love as it is menacingly defiant. The smooth way the music compliments with strong, powerful drum hits, rubbery soul basslines, and a concentration on the bare thick riffs of the piano. This is all glued together by the fabric of commentary (from her parents to Master P) on the personal black experience and dealing with racial adversity throughout their lives. It is also unabashed pride for what it is to be black in the world. This album is not just a hopeful cry for a group of people to rise and speak out, and this is not just hope period. This is for recognition, a call to have a seat at the table of society out of a mutual respect for human individuals and to gather strength as a collective body of people that have been pushed out of sight and mind for generations. - Daniel Boroughs
Political Animals Egobese
After spending the last few years teasing fans with a string of exceptional singles, New Haven’s Political Animals have finally dropped the full-length album we were all waiting for with bated breath. We were starting to get a little light-headed there. But the juice was well worth the squeeze as Political Animals have managed to harness the energy from their live performances into eleven cuts of some of the finest hip-hop around. Featuring both one of the best DJs and lyricists in the entire state and an exceptional rhythm section, Political Animals finally have the full-length album to showcase their immense talents. - Chip McCabe
When you’re surrounded by creative friends doing amazing things in your community, sometimes it rubs off, bringing you to create something yourself. Same goes for the people in your personal life, whose twists and turns can drive us crazy or make us as happy as we’ve ever been. And then there’s New England, which gives us maybe the best Summers anywhere, but then dishes out some real darkness with its never-ending Winters. Kate Mick gives us the story of living through all this with her debut album ‘Undertow,’ something that’s simple and rough around all its edges, but sincere and unique, recorded on a whim one night in December 2016 by Dave ‘Sasquatch’ at his Galactic Theatre in Mick’s hometown Warren, Rhode Island. It’s all just her singing and playing banjo, an instrument she taught herself to play after messing about with others that didn’t take: “when a guitar feels too bulky and a mandolin feels too tiny, a banjo feels...just right.” Imagine old and wise acoustic folk blues like Elizabeth Cotton’s seen through a milennial’s eyes, but one who bothers to observe, soaking in her surroundings and singing about what she sees and how she feels about it. It’s an honest lo-fi distillation of original music influenced by what Mick first heard through her hippie parent’s record collection growing up, and later the sad indie music of the 1990s-early 2000s by artists like Sufjan Stevens and Elliott Smith. It’s dark gothic folk with a soulful bluesy slant. Lyrics like “I’m gonna walk these shoes worn” and “I’m gonna sing this voice sore” in the song “Fear For My Soul” tell of someone dealing with their demons through their songs. The album’s opening song “Drinking About It” finds Mick singing about being driven to drink -- and think, where “the drinks keep comin’ and the thoughts keep hummin’...” - Chris Daltry
American Pastoral Again Ever/Never Records
By the time Estrogen Highs had finished their run with the “Hear Me On The Number Station” LP on Trouble In Mind, they’d pretty much sharpened their garage-rock-meets-Kiwi-Pop approach to such a fine point that it was almost a surprise to hear Stefan’s post-E. Highs solo cassettes almost immediately veer off into a slightly different direction, licking appreciatively at the likes of the Dead C somewhat – note the cover of “Bad Politics” on the Empty Continents cassette, hint hint – but becoming even more heavily immersed in the works of Jim Shepard (V3/Vertical Slit/Ego Summit, etc). “American Pastoral Again” is Stefan’s first solo release on vinyl after four (by my count) cassette releases, and while I still prefer any of the cassettes over this 12”, the EP is another crucial piece to the overall puzzle. Allowed to stretch out over one side of the 12”, the ten-minutelong title track – perhaps an allusion to the Phillip Roth novel, though I doubt Stefan would do anything that obvious – bumps and howls along like a section from “Bad Moon Rising” or “Daydream Nation”, or even that one really long track from “Zuma” (I forget the name of it), all repeating chords and squalling feedback over various Shepard-like admonishments to “know your role”, etc etc. It’s a fairly heavy track when taken as a whole, no doubt. The b-side contains four shorter, experimental bursts, some finished and some not, circling back to the Shepard/V3 angle on the final track, “Home”. The simple bleakness of the black-and-white artwork on the sleeve, insert, and labels completes the effect. You can pick up a copy through Stefan’s C/Site Recordings label, along with the other solo cassettes, which (if they’re sold out) are worth the effort to track down. - Dave Brushback
Anyone who bothered to tune into the most recent CMAs did so because they either like watching train wrecks or because they really don’t grasp the concept of country music. If you’re looking for a CT artist who eschews the pop-rock-with-cowboy-hats aesthetics of modern country music in favor of a classic country vibe, then look no further than Plywood Cowboy. These guys are the real deal for classic country enthusiasts, and not just because the album title refers to the CB channel that two members used to frequent in the 70s. Utilizing both lap and pedal steel guitar for maximum twang, alongside violin, piano, organ, and your other basic country accouterments, Plywood Cowboy write songs that fit the dusty back roads of the great American Songbook. - Chip McCabe
Svengali Gaze Twin Lakes Records
I tend to listen to mostly punk rock-type stuff, although I have a decent-sized stack ‘o things in the milk crate that don’t necessarily conform to ‘rock’ in the traditional sense for when I want to stir up the sediment that’s settled at the bottom of my brain a bit. That’s where something like this Rivener cassette comes in handy. The main guitar action on this EP tends to be sparse and free-form: extended passages of plucked notes and strummed chords, at times sounding somewhat Far-Eastern, with steady, forceful percussion running underneath. An earlier Rivener cassette from last year was fairly blown-out and heavy, but any distortion or effects are kept to a minimum here, although the title track (“Svengali Gaze”) does introduce a sort of backwards guitar loop and even picks up the pace to nearly jam-like levels towards the end, plus there’s a loud two-minute live ‘bonus’ track – recorded at Elm City Noise Fest – tacked onto the end of the cassette which’ll do plenty to clean your eardrums out. I have the cassette version of this, but there’s also a CD, both limited to 50, and both with crisp hand-made packaging to boot. Fans of labels like VDSQ, Northern Spy, and other proponents of modern guitar textures, acoustic and/or electric, would do well to seek this out. - Dave Brushback
Animal Flag LP
Religious allusion and personal confession thread their way through Animal Flag’s excellent third full-length record, LP, making for a rich and deep listening experience. “Like cathedrals built on slow sinking sand / So is the life of a resentful man / We must learn to walk backwards through our passage of time / And forsake our demons and idols alike,” frontman Matt Politoski sings on closing track “Cathedral.” On “Solace,” he croons: “I heard god meets you where you are Not just an apathetic hand out in the stars.” Released by Broken World Media, the songs come from the Boston band’s self-titled EP (2014) and EP 2 (2015), but have been remastered and reordered. LP is the next chapter in Animal Flag’s sonic transformation—once a drone band, then a folk band, and now among their sonic brethren at Broken World, Take One Car and The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die. Their folk roots shine through on “Mercy,” an acoustic beauty that brings to mind Conor Oberst. LP shows Animal Flag’s deft ability to hit hard with emotion through Politoski’s personal yet universal lyrics, and to create a pop-perfect gems in “Sensation” and “Solace.” You’ll want to sing along.
- Danielle Capalbo
Brownswood Recordings, 2016
The improvisational duo of Yussef Dayes (drums) and Kamaal Williams (keys and drums) are indebted to 70’s-era jazz-funk as much as hip hop drum programming and UK grime. Born out of a one-off live improvisational session for Boiler Room (a global broadcasting platform showcasing the latest in live underground music and DJ culture), these South-East London musicians of similar music circles place a heavy emphasis between the kinetic grooves formed between keys and drums. According to Williams, “…that’s where it all originates from: the chords, the rhythm of the chords and the drums.” To the two musicians in charge, the less preparation the better. Take songs like “Strings of Light” and “Lowrider” and how rhythmically, they both charge in a forward motion that is breathtaking from an improvisational perspective. These near-telepathic grooves are hypnotic, tightly-woven, and demand repeated listens for those in need of catapulting themselves into a spacey jazz-fueled state of mind from time to time. Giving little thought to the songs’ arrangements can risk repetitiveness and can create sort of a locked groove, but in this case, Black Focus pulls off a dynamism with its shifting tempos, majestic chord flourishes, and rhythmic technical punctuations that are fresh enough keep the listener’s engagement from start to finish. - Daniel Boroughs
The Cardinal Spins The Cardinal Spins EP
It’s no surprise that Danbury’s Cardinal Spins have delivered four pop-rock songs on their selftitled EP that feel plucked from a well-practiced basement some 20 years ago; songwriter, singer and guitarist Jeff Schmidt has cut his teeth fronting another Danbury band, Mother Tongue, where his knack for strong hooks and a certain grunge swagger are on full display. Schmidt and his Cardinal Spins bandmates, bassist Patrick Shirley and drummer Niall Reynold, reimagine the 90s in their own way—leaving the gate with “Sick,” a driving and sludgy reflection on a hangover, from booze or feelings or both, with sonic nods to Modest Mouse, Pavement, and Clem Snide. Schmidt has a special knack for turning mundane and common lows—like the hangover on “Sick,” or a post-grad trip home on “Back Home Blues” that lasts longer than expected—into slacker anthems with edge and insight. That edge comes largely from Schmidt’s vocal delivery. Jagged, warbling and deeply melodic, he again brings to mind Eef Barzelay, especially howling on “Sick”: “Who you are when your nerves are at war / If the place is nice, I probably will not stay for long.” On “Heyy,” the band and Schmidt show another side: one that’s awfully pretty, burns slowly and eschews the ’90s for the ’60s. - Danielle Capalbo
Until My Body Breaks
Quiet Giant Loom
The Lost Riots
The Stories Are true
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The Cut-Up Gallery .::. Curated by Michael McNabney This issue features 4 Bulgarian artists with connections to New London CT. Leda Starcheva, Stefan Churchuliev, Mariana Marinova and Aglika Gaytanikova have all travelled to the U.S. for artist residencies at the Griffis Art Center. I had the privilege to meet these outstanding artists (amongst others) as part of my residency in Bulgaria this past summer. I found these artistsâ€™ works to be particularly interesting and inspiring, and would like to share them here. Enjoy!
Aglika Gaitanikova aglikagaytanikova.eu
Portrait of an Artist
oil on canvas | 73x90 cm
oil on canvas | 61x80 cm
oil on canvas | 50x70 cm
oil on canvas | 50x80 cm
Leda Starcheva facebook.com/leda.starcheva
brass, brown patina | 37/20/11 cm
brass, brown patina | 35/17/32 cm
brass, green patina | 30/10/28 cm
brass, green patina | 28/15/30 cm
brass | 22/12/17 cm
Mariana Marinova marmarinova.blogspot.com/
oil on canvas | 60x80 cm
oil on canvas | 70x90 cm
oil on canvas | 70x70 cm
oil on canvas | 50x60 cm
Stephen Churchuliev stefanchurchuliev.eu
sand, oil and dry pigment on canvas 100x80 cm
The Prophet Jonah
sand, oil and dry pigment on canvas 120x130 cm
On The Beach
sand, oil and dry pigment on canvas 100x90 cm
sand, oil and dry pigment on canvas 100x80 cm
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Longtime listeners to Eric Jackson’s “Eric in the Evening” program on WGBH in Boston are familiar with the opening theme to his nightly broadcast. It’s a lovely rendition of Horace Silver’s iconic composition, “Peace”. The pianist for that performance is Tommy Flanagan who, for more than 45 years, was considered one of the finest, most elegant jazz pianists in the world, standing in the ranks of Art Tatum, Hank Jones, Barry Harris, and Oscar Peterson. Flanagan, who died in 2001, was a pianist’s pianist, known, envied and imitated for his delicate touch, impeccable timing, dazzling technique, and uncanny sense of harmony. If you are new to jazz, or just interested in where one should begin to explore the art form, you would find no better place to start than with Flanagan. Although his skills as an accompanist to such greats as Ella Fitzgerald and Tony Bennett, and as a sideman to the likes of John Coltrane or Miles Davis, are noted, Flanagan was foremost an undisputed master of the jazz trio format (piano, bass and drums). His conversational interaction with his sidemen
(in most late recordings and performances, George Mraz and Kenny Washington), are textbook examples of how great musicians listen to, and play off, one another. For starters, I would turn to his 1998 recording, aptly titled Tommy Flanagan, Jazz Poet on the Timeless Records label. With veterans George Mraz on bass and the deft Kenny Washington on drums, the album sizzles and soothes with a rich mixture of steady standards and upbeat compositions. From the opening two tracks, a swinging version of Billy Strayhorn’s,“Raincheck”, and onto J.J. Johnson’s beautiful ballad, “Lament”, you’re hooked. Also, the trio’s vigorous (and what seems an impossible 300bpm) rendering of “Mean Streets” is not for the faint of heart. However, my personal favorite on this album is his confident, steady, flawless reading of, “I’m Old Fashioned”. It’s classic Flanagan - elegant, sophisticated, but always swinging. This is real 21st century acoustic jazz. Not a pop amalgam or a strained transmogrification of piercing electronics. This is jazz poetry, as rich and as fluid as Milton or Shakespeare.
DEAD AIR RADIO Hugh Birdsall, Peter Detmold, & Paul Sweeney
WCNI 90.9 New London, CT
- Tom Kauffmann
Tuesday’s from 9am-12noon on WCNI 90.9 FM streaming live on iHeart Radio and Tunein. wcniradio.org & Facebook.
Blues, Soul, Funk and a whole lotta enthusiasm!
Peter Broderick Partners
Erased Tapes Records Over the course of the past decade, multi-instrumentalist and composer Peter Broderick has steadily compiled an eclectic catalog of material ranging from singer-songwriter folk songs to sprawling ambient atmospheres. In addition to his own solo recordings, Broderick’s extensive discography includes collaborations with avant-garde and modern classical composers, as well as work with Danish indie group Efterklang, who he has been a supporting member of since 2007. His latest effort, Partners, sees the artist continuing to explore new methods and techniques, finding it’s main influence in John Cage’s experiments with chance. Partners is extremely minimalist in nature, a stark contrast to the lush arrangements of last years delightfully eccentric Colours Of The Night. Save for a few effects on the production end, the majority of the album is simply Broderick at his piano. Having found himself reconnecting to the instrument while learning John Cage’s “In A Landscape”, it comes as no surprise that his own interpretation is the albums opening number. Following a track of somewhat out of place poetry, Broderick flows through Cage’s composition, calling upon multiple versions and intertwining them with his own variations on the piece. The reverb rings out loud with each note, creating an eerily seductive tone not found in the original. Broderick continues with a series of originals, each finding its own distinct character and feeling. Through the turbulent
randomly assigned notation of “Under The Bridge” and the thunderous crescendos of “Conspiraling”, the artist employs a number of techniques to keep the listener’s full attention. Broderick makes use of interesting rhythmic patterns, accentuated notes and even hums along at a point, making each moment of the song as interesting as the previous. “Carried”, the highlight of the record, is a piece as haunting as it is serene. A vocal loop weaves itself around the piano line as a rhythmic melody continuously builds. The two sounds play off each other, each moving at their own pace, invoking an array of emotions. That’s where Broderick excels on Partners. He has an uncanny ability to command narrative and mood in this stripped down setting that by the time the melancholic “Up Niek Mountain” concludes you can’t help but to recognize the power of his skillful playing. The only track to feature Broderick in full vocal mode is closer “Sometimes”. Here he takes on a song written and originally recorded by his friend and once tour mate Brigid Mae Power. Following a false start showcasing the meticulous nature of the artist, Broderick plays a faithful version, his voice wavering with the melodies as they rise and fall. It’s a pleasant, fitting ending to an outstanding record. Peter Broderick continues to impress with each release and this is no exception. Partners isn’t the most accessible record in his vast catalog, but it is one that certainly shines amongst the rest. - Colin Roberts
Homegrown WESU 88.1 Middletown, CT with your host Robbie DeRosa Thursday 5:05-6:30pm wesufm.org for the live webcast
Rebroadcast friday at 7pm on cygnusradio.com
Every other Tuesday from 6-9pm WCNI 90.9 FM New London, CT wcniradio.org facebook.com/derangedradioanne
Rock Snaps from Peter Detmold The Jam @ the Rat
Boston – Thursday, October 13th 1977 The Jam were a young 3 piece group from south London that appeared in 1977, during the first wave of England’s punk rock explosion. Although they shared the speedy tempos and anti-authority lyricism of such contemporaries as the Sex Pistols and the Clash, the band was open in their admiration for earlier bands like the Small Faces and, especially, the Who. So, instead of spiked hair and torn clothing, the Jam had stylish haircuts and wore neat matching suits with skinny ties. The music was loud, fast and rough, but the band looked sharp! These photos were taken at the Rat on the 3rd date of their very brief first U.S. tour. After starting with two shows at Hollywood’s Whiskey a Go Go, the band flew to Boston for two more at the Rat, before the tour ended with two final dates at NYC’s CBGB’s. With their debut LP “In the City” only just released, the Jam were an unknown commodity to all but the few who followed the emerging London music scene, via imported music “weeklies” and 45’s from the UK. I knew about the band, and had already bought their first 45 and LP, and on the day of the first Boston show I borrowed my mom’s Honda Civic and sped up I-95 to Boston with 3 friends. The Rat was a dingy, beersoaked basement club in Kenmore Square, back when that area could still be referred to as “gritty.” The club’s official name was the Rathskeller, but that had been shortened in common usage in recognition of its reputation as the home of Boston’s emerging underground music scene. (Plus, there were rats – trust me, I know!) We got into the club early and situated ourselves front and center well before the opening band took the stage that night. Boston’s Nervous Eaters were good and grungy, and had at least one great song – “Talk to Loretta.” But we hadn’t come to see the openers, and when The Jam came on it was a loud, fast flash of high energy from start to finish, as the band stormed through the songs from its debut LP along with a few
23 Green Street New London, Connecticut Serving New London since 1933
well-chosen Motown covers. Paul Weller, all of 19 years old, barked out his lyrics and played his Rickenbacker 330 in a slashing style through a Vox AC-30 amp…very Who-like! He and bassist Bruce Foxton careened around the small stage while Rick Buckler pounded the beat out from behind them. The small crowd gathered behind us seemed curious and semi-appreciative, but those of us in front of the stage got well into it – the band was incredibly exciting! In less than an hour they were gone, and we waited for a second set. As it turned out though, we were actually waiting for the second show – the stage was reset for the Nervous Eaters and, after they had played again, the Jam returned and did the same set all over again. (This time, however, they added their version of the “Batman Theme” due to repeated shouted requests from the crowd.) Before leaving for the drive home, I managed to get the band to all autograph the picture-sleeve of their first 45, “In the City” for me – still a prized possession! The Jam returned to Boston less than 6 months later, by which time they had released a second LP and been promoted to the Paradise – a larger and more prestigious club. It appeared that the band was well on its way to cracking the lucrative US market and becoming a big concert draw, as so many English bands before them had done… but it never happened. Over the next 5 years the Jam released nearly twenty Top 40 singles in Great Britain and became one of that country’s most beloved and successful bands. But, likely due to their defiantly British nature and unwillingness to adapt for the US market, they never achieved the same success here. When they returned to Boston again in 1979 with another new LP to promote, the band were still playing the Paradise, having failed to sell enough tickets at the larger Orpheum, where the show had originally been scheduled. I was at those two later shows at the Paradise, front and center again, and with a camera… maybe a later entry for this “Rock Snaps” series.
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A Pure Exercise of Free Will:
- Jason Silva The following is a brief interview conducted via email with artist and writer, Walter Robinson. The interview took place during his solo exhibition at the Mystic Museum of Art which was on view in Fall 2016. I was able to meet with Walter at the opening in Mystic with an introduction being made by his wonderful wife and fine art restorer, Lisa Rosen. Their combined lighthearted nature and sense of humor matched the paintings surrounding us in the intimately scaled gallery space. As an artist and a writer, Robinson’s work is a great example of living through the process of exploring one’s own interests and how that information is collectively expressed. During our conversation, Walter stated clearly that a primary source for his paintings is the stuff of life he desires enjoys. My hope is that this interview will act as a springboard for further research. There are many more in-depth interviews online in particular an interview with artist and publisher Phong Bui in the Nov 5, 2014 issue of The Brooklyn Rail. I also highly recommend picking up a copy of Walter Robinson: Paintings and Other Indulgences which can be purchased through artbook.com. From covering the arts in 1970s Soho with Art Rite Magazine, to showing in the 1980 Time Square Show and writing for Art in America and ArtNet, Robinson teaches us that art is not a career, rather a path to follow -- but there’s still work to be done. Jason Silva: In recent articles written about you a primary focus has been how life and art commingle. Seemingly, as a painter and writer, art has been a thread that connects time for you. Where and when did that impulse begin? Walter Robinson: Oh, the art thing began in kindergarten. I was the kid who could draw. I specialized in highnoon shoot-outs, with a guy wearing a sheriff’s star facing off against a bad guy in a black bandana. As for the art criticism, that I trace back to college. I wanted to discover what “minimalism” was, so I enrolled in a seminar called “Writing Art Criticism.” The guy leading that course (it was at Barnard College; I attended Columbia, across the street), Brian O’Doherty, was editor of Art in America magazine. JS: The transition from artist to writer and then back again is very interesting to me. It involves a certain amount of personal evolution. Do you feel now that you can express yourself in both ways, or have you reached a point of convergence in painting? WR: Working all those years as a writer and editor was certainly an education. Critics are in the “know it all” business, they get to talk about all kinds of things, the entire art world. Artists need to know only one thing -- what goes on in their own studio. JS: I notice a personal narrative that moves through the images you choose for your paintings. As if there will never be an end to the content available for you as source material. Does this allow you freedom when making those first marks on the surface? WR: All art posits a subject position, a personality behind the art. It can be gentle, angry, technocratic, mysterious, meticulous or any number of other things. It’s not fashionable these days to read art that way, but looking for the hidden autobiography in the work gives a remarkable kind of esthetic access. JS: I’ve read of your appreciation of Matisse and also images that transmit a childlike quality. To me this implies a focus on mark making and bit of improvisation. With regards to the handling of paint, how do you work through the process of starting and finishing a painting? WR: Mark-making and image-making are particularly human, inteagral to consciousness and communication. But the special appeal of paint, its sensuous intimacy, where does it come from? What are its origins? That remains a mystery. If the basic function of an artwork is to attest to the reality of an authentic individual subject, then the decision to begin and to end represents a pure exercise of free will.
JS: Being entrenched in the New York
art scene for decades, you’ve seen art’s transformation - particularly how painting saw its supposed end and later its reinvigoration. How do you feel about the current state of painting? Are you actively visiting other artist’s studios, galleries and museums? WR: Yes, very active, the art world demands your attention. It’s both my vocation and my vacation. As for painting today, or art today, our condition has been described as “the modernist endgame.” In an endgame, all the major moves have been made, and only small maneuvers by pawns are possible. The endgame dates at least to the 1980s, which was identified as a “pluralist” time, and further back to the early ‘60s, when Allan Kaprow proclaimed that everyone was an artist and that anything could be art. JS: I find a lot of humor expressed in
your paintings. A pathos. Do you feel it’s the subject matter alone that conveys your views on the highs and lows? WR: I’m a child of the ‘60s, our most hedonistic and optimistic era. I believe in a higher power -- a life force, expressed in science as evolution, that finds hope in pleasure. JS: How did the exhibition in Mystic
come about? What if any are your connections to New England?
WR: Well, I’m a Yankee who lives in New York but was invited to show my work at the museum by its brilliant director, George King. JS: What are some of the differences
between the paintings on display here in Mystic versus the paintings picked for your current show at Deitch Projects? WR: The Mystic show has some terrific works, including examples of series that aren’t in the New York show. Among these are a painting from my healthy art series, the first paintings of salad in Western art. JS: Your writting was published on
Artnet at a time when criticism was fresh and new on the internet. It was also a time when physical publications were slowing down or closing all together. Today it is social media that is reaching the largest audience and spreading the word of new art and ideas. How involved are you with the ways in which social media are shaping our world today? WR: I think you’re right, much of the discussion about contemporary art has moved online, to Facebook or the comment boards of blogs and online publications. Whether this movement is for good or ill remains to be seen. Social media are wide, we know that. But can they be deep?
- Dom Forcella
One does not have to travel to the Deltas of the South to get a good dose of the Blues. Our state has an active and vibrant blues scene itself led by the Connecticut Blues Society (CtBS). Clubs, bars, concert venues all contribute to the state’s strong blues community through the organization. The CtBS is an affiliate of the Blues Foundation in Memphis. As such they are an active participant in the Foundation’s International Blues Challenge (IBC). The IBC is recognized as the World’s Largest “Battle of the Bands.” Acts from around the globe converge on Memphis for a week of shows and featured artists. The event seeks to help bands that are ready to take the next step in moving forward. On the average 125 bands compete each year as well as some seventyfive solo and duo acts. Connecticut through the efforts of the CtBS has been well represented in Memphis. Each year preliminaries rounds and a final are held in the Band and Solo/Duo categories. The state has had acts in both categories reach the finals. One year both acts reached the finals, the only time one state has done this in IBC history! After four preliminaries and the Finals, the Danny Draher Band came out on top. The talented trio has Draher (guitar, vocals), Steve Peck (drums) and Lonnie Gasperini (keys). There was a spirited competition for the Solo/ Duo slot. A number of blues stylings were presented to the judges. The Balkun Brothers won with their intense rockin’ blues. Founding members Steve Balkun (guitar, vocals) and Nick “The Hammer” Balkun (drums, vocals) are solidifying themselves in the national blues scene. Another part of the IBC is The Youth Showcase, a one day event held on Friday afternoon.
19 CtBS has been well represented by Jake Kulak & the LowDown. To participate in the Youth Showcase all members must be are under the age of 21 at the time of the IBC. This band has appeared in Memphis and has gained a following. Jake Kulak handles guitar and vocals with Jeremy Peck (drums) and Anthony Dailey (bass). Kulak and Peck also performed as a duo and made the CtBS finals. Jake Kulak and the LowDown may represent the “youth” but they are players with Memphis experience. Jake was honored by the Blues Foundation, being named “Blues Kid.” The band’s first time in Memphis created a buzz that had people lined-up at the door waiting to see them. They were one of six Bostonarea bands selected to participate in Bringin’ Down the House live at House of Blues! This is a national emerging artist program sponsored by the Music Forward Foundation. Six bands or solo acts between the ages of 13-19 and across all musical genres are selected from participating cities. Jake Kulak and The LowDown have played around the region and in area festivals as well. Another part of IBC is the Best Self Produced CD competition. This year EasyBaby’s “Going Upstairs” won the award. The release will now be submitted to the Blues Foundation for entry into the IBC CD contest. The ultimate winner will be announced at the International Blues Challenge, in January. Congratulation to Kelly Rago, Rich Badowski, Max Samson, Dennis Cotton and Trevor West for their work on the recording. EasyBaby convey a deep understanding of the blues when playing. Whether it’s about, love, hate, anger, lust, oppression, or joy the emotions are written into original songs. With the powerhouse lead vocals of Kelly Rago, you see and feel all the pain and joy that she
has ever experienced. What she does is not mere singing. It is a tour de force that will have you going to church or calling your therapist. Watching harmonica man Rich Badowski make a tin box full of reeds cry, shriek and moan like an organ is a compliment to Rago’s vocals. The band has added a new guitar player, Michael St. George. A strong backing duo of Dennis Cotton on drums and Maz LaVie holding the bass line gives you grooves good for the soul. The 33rd International Blues Challenge will start January 31 leading to the finals on February 4 at the Orpheum Theater. The International Showcase will open the event with ten bands from around the globe. The competition rounds are held the following days in venues located on historic Beale Street. The list of current blues artists that have competed in the International Blues Challenge over the years is impressive. Many have performed on our stages including Sean Carney, Albert Castiglia, Tommy Castro, Albert Cummings, Delta Moon, Larry Garner, and Susan Tedeschi to name a few. The Connecticut Blues Society Sunday also hosts an afternoon Blues jams on the first Sunday of each month at the Pine Loft. The CtBS All Stars (River City Slim, Phil Caron and Joey Primo) are the house band with a different guest guitarist each month. The next big event for the CtBS is the “Blues Blizzard,” the state’s best party with five top blues bands. For further information: Connecticut Blues Society: ctblues.org Danny Draher: dannydraher.com/dynamite Balkun Brothers: balkunmusic.com Jake Kulak: jakekulak.com EasyBaby: easybabyblues.com Blues Foundation: blues.org
We lost so many incredible people essential to our culture in 2016 that we thought we’d put out a call for thoughts, memories & reflections. We couldn’t run everything we received but here’s a handful for your consideration. Never take anyone for granted, our time is too short here on Planet Earth.
Sharon Jones Of the many, many talented and influential people we lost in 2016, the passing of soul singer Sharon Jones hit me the hardest. At the time that Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings formed, I was a college radio DJ that passionately followed some of the other projects the Brooklyn based musicians were involved with (Antibalas, the Sugarman Three, Lee Fields, etc.). When this new band (along with the label Daptone Records) formed, I was filled with super soul excitement! In the late 90s and early 00s, anyone living within driving distance of New York City had the opportunity to see bands from this community on a weekly basis. So it wasn’t long before I got a chance to see Sharon. Wow. From the very beginning in tiny clubs such as the Mercury Lounge, the Daps would put on a world class show. The band would come out and do a few instrumentals to whip up the crowd. And then guitarist Binky Griptite would make one of his classic introductions (you can hear one at the beginning of their first record). And then a five foot fireball in a sparkly sequin dress would burst onto the stage.
I’d never seen anything like it. Her energy would shake the room and the intense passion in her eyes would command your attention. There are singers that sound wonderful and there are singers that can move a crowd with their infectious spirit. She was both. Sharon Jones was born to perform. She’d spent her life singing in the church, crafting her beautiful and powerful voice and her ability to affect hundreds of people. Now, at 40 years old, she was ready to rock a crowd of unsuspecting soul fans like me. And did she ever. From that point forward she and her band became the heart of my radio show, DJ sets and musical interest in general. I’d see them every chance I could get, something that became increasingly difficult as her popularity rose and their tours brought them around the world. I had several opportunities to speak and hang out with Sharon and, while her crowds went from dozens to hundreds to thousands, she remained the same humble and hilarious soul. She always took the time to engage with fans after shows. Quick story: my favorite Sharon moment was when my friend Richard came to a show at the Webster in Hartford with Peter Tork from the Monkees. Everyone was in line excited to meet Sharon. When our turn came and Richard introduced her to Peter, it was like she became a child. She grabbed him right away and danced singing, “hey hey we’re the Monkees”. And everyone around us instantly flipped out and joined in. That spirit, that joy, that love of music and people, that was Sharon Jones. May she rest in song. - Dave Freeburg
Leonard Cohen On the night Leonard Cohen died I received these two text messages from a friend of mine from Philly. (For context, Fergie’s is a pub in center city Philadelphia where I used to host a weekly variety show that became a big hangout spot for my friends and the local music scene.) “Leonard cohen died.” “The first girl I ever loved. We dated in high school and college. I hadn’t seen her in years but she came to a show at Fergie’s. One of those casual nights. Might have been 90s covers or something. You played “Hallelujah” and the whole room sat quietly. And the first girl I ever loved came over and sat on my lap and put her head in my chest while we listened. It’s one of my fondest memories. I hope you’re well.” This is one of many ways that shows the transcendent power of music and song. A person has an experience, they write a song, they record it, they put it into the world, sometimes it’s on in the background, sometimes it comes on the radio, sometimes there’s a rare occasion it is the soundtrack to one of your fondest memories in life and every time you hear it or the artists name you relive those moments. All because someone saw or felt a thing and felt compelled to immortalize it in song. Honestly, I never got too into Leonard Cohen besides a few songs I’ve heard and liked, and even me playing “Hallelujah” that night was probably an impulsive and bad decision to delve into some Jeff Buckley covers - but the point is Leonard Cohen was able to give a stranger one of the fondest memories in their life and that is a sign of supreme artistry and it’s extremely heartwarming. -Ron Gallo
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Leonard Cohen Infamous
Alan Vega (Suicide)
Vega was a brilliant artist I live for and possessed one of the Your pictures of garbage great voices in punk or Your fake smile indeed in rock and roll. The disinterest that splinters you off Luna’s “23 Minutes in From the Trojan horse Brussels” was in reference Full of followers to the great Suicide And other false prophets bootleg “23 Minutes Over The silence Brussels” released by Howard Thompson. I do That begets remember seeing Vega get booed vociferously The séance by fans of Echo & the Bunnymen at Bond’s back That begets in the day, they did not know what to make of The nuance of sound him. And syllable. - Dean Wareham Cymbals crash As you empty your glass ABE VIGODA Toss it across the room And laugh My brother and I watched As your guests trample each other Barney Miller and Fish To claim a taste of you reruns in the basement From among the shards. of our house when we It’s never been hard to love you were too young to get the jokes. Back then But to call you a friend the basement was called the rec room, and Seems more of a means to an end we sat on the floor in front of the orange and Of a story best kept brown polyester sofa playing with leggos For a larger volume of myths and folklore. and tinker toys.. As young as we were, we I keep that black feather you gave me understood that Abe Vigoda with his dead In the pocket of my cerulean blue raincoat. pan face and bushy eyebrows, was funny. Whether you found it floating freely There was a certain excitement when he Or plucked it from the crow itself entered the scene and with very little words I’ll never know he cracked everyone up and left them The quill that carries your poems wanting more. He epitomized something Across my belly and throat really wonderful about television in the ‘70s. Holds my breath Not everyone on t.v. had to be beautiful or My unrest perfect. They had to epitomize some kind Best left alone. of character trait to hold down their corner of the show. Nobody did the straight faced - Karen Ponzio humor better than Abe Vigoda. - Kim Abraham
YOU WILL NEVER HEAR ME SAY LIFE’S TAKING ME NOWHERE When I was in 7th grade a kid (I can’t remember his name, but I do remember that he was wearing dark red velvet hip-huggers) brought a tape recorder into Ms. La Fond’s classroom at Newtown Middle School and proceeded to play a song by David Bowie. I don’t remember the song. I don’t remember what the kid said about it. I do remember that the other kids didn’t seem at all interested. In fact, they may have been a bit…repulsed? There may have been accusations that the kid was a “fag.” It was 1975 and I was 12 (I was the youngest in my class, with a November birthday and having gone to Kindergarten at four). My 12-year-old self wasn’t sophisticated enough to understand what she was thinking & feeling, but my 53-year-old self knows. That was the day David Bowie became my spirit animal. He was unapologetically himself. He was weird. His music was weird. He wasn’t “cute” like the boy-band members my peers were gaga for. But it wasn’t safe for me to like things that others didn’t like, so I let my 12-year-old self have a mad crush on David Cassidy. I admitted privately (and innocently and brazenly) to my BFF that I wanted to have David Bowie’s baby. It took me many years – MANY years – before I felt safe enough to be unapologetically myself, to like what I like without fear. It’s still very much a work in progress, and there were glimpses of it along the way. In college I was known amongst my friends for a crazy, silly interpretation of Let’s Dance. In the mid 80s I worked in NYC, danced in nightclubs, and snorted coke, wanting to be part of the “scene.” In 1987 I dragged a friend to see Bowie’s Glass Spider tour. At the time I was an editor at a plastics industry trade magazine, so I created an official-looking press pass and concocted a story that I was writing an article about the use of plastics in concert set design. I was hoping to go back stage, but the security guards laughed me off. I did some daring things back then, but what I know now is that I did them not because I was wild and free and unapologetically myself. I did them because I was looking for love (and acceptance) in all the wrong places. My motivation wasn’t creation, it was destruction. I spent years unconsciously trying to destroy myself because I unconsciously feared being destroyed. ~~~~~ On a warm summer night in 2013, after watching the movie The Perks of Being A Wallflower, I convinced my husband to drive around New London, blasting Heroes through the radio, with me standing up through the moonroof, singing at the top of my lungs. I got some strange looks, and was even yelled at. I didn’t care, because in the words of Charlie, I felt infinite. Just the other day (the day David Bowie turned 69) I joked with my husband that there was another man…a man I’d fallen in love with in 7th grade. Last night I sat in bed and wept while watching videos of that man singing. My husband held me. He didn’t make fun of me. He said, “You poor girl. It’s okay to grieve for him.” Thank you, David Bowie, for helping me feel infinite. Thank you for showing me how to be a hero. I promise you this: you will never hear me say life’s taking me nowhere. - Karen C.L. Anderson
The death of Surferblood’s Thomas Fekete really hit home with me. He was young, he was my age, he was a young American kid playing guitar in a rock band barreling around the country in a van. These are very familiar shoes to me and not ones that you usually associate with passing away amidst it all. It was a reminder in mortality, to take care of yourself and live each day fully. -Ron Gallo
(Jefferson Airplane) Like most American kids growing up in the 80s my rock n’ roll education started with my parent’s record collections. It was a window to the previous three decades, but specifically the 60s when the Boomers were coming of age and purchasing their own tunes. For my money few bands defined the psychedelic 60s the way Jefferson Airplane did. They played Monterey in ’67. They were at Woodstock. They played Altamont. They preceded so many other acts of that era, forming officially in 1965 when most Bay Area musicians hadn’t smoked their first joint yet. To this day albums like Volunteers, Surrealistic Pillow, and Crown of Creation stand as benchmarks in the American lexicon of rock music. One man who had a hand in all of it was guitarist/songwriter/founding member, Paul Kantner. Grateful Dead drummer, Mickey Hart, was quoted after his death as saying that Kantner was the “backbone” of the Airplane. There’s truth in that statement. He may not have been the flashiest member of the band, or even the best guitar player within their own ranks, but Kantner was the steadying presence and the keystone which the rest of the Airplane built their foundation, and in turn their musical legacy.
(Jefferson Airplane) In a cruel twist of fate, on the same day her one-time band mate, Paul Kantner passed away, the world also lost original Jefferson Airplane vocalist, Signe Toly Anderson, after many years of severe health issues. Before there was the bombast and showmanship of Grace Slick there was the subtle and beautiful delivery of Anderson. She only performed with the Airplane until 1966, (when she decided to leave the band due to the impending birth of her first child) and appeared on only their debut album, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off. Yet even though Anderson has become somewhat of a footnote in the history of an extremely influential band, her voice will live forever in those earliest recordings. It’s in those earliest recordings that the psychedelic movement truly found a home in U.S. rock music and Anderson’s contributions should not be lost to the history books. - Chip McCabe
Scotty Moore It’s easy to make the argument that rock & roll, as we know it, might never have happened without a guy named Elvis Presley. Sure, others were developing a similar style around the same time – Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins, for example – but it was Elvis who really brought the sound into the mainstream. And it’s important to remember that Elvis had been very fortunate to hook up with a sympathetic musical collaborator in guitarist Scotty Moore, who intuitively helped him create the magical blend of rhythm & blues, country, gospel and jazz that propelled Presley to stardom. In doing so, Moore earned the nickname “The Guitar That Changed The World” and helped establish the electric guitarist in the role that still exists today – as the featured soloist in support of a lead vocalist. Moore (along with bassist Bill Black and drummer J. D. Fontana) appeared on all of Elvis’s recordings for the Sun record label – “Hound Dog,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “Mystery Train” and “Blue Suede Shoes,” to name a few. His guitar was featured prominently on all of those songs and on later recordings for the RCA label, such as “Little Sister” and others. His unique style on Elvis’s original string of iconic singles influenced an entire generation of aspiring guitarists - Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton & George Harrison have all named him as a primary influence. Keith Richards claimed, “All I wanted to do in the world was to be able to play and sound like that – it was as plain as day. Everyone else wanted to be Elvis – I wanted to be Scotty.” Born in Gadsden, Tennessee on December 27, 1931, Scotty Moore died this year on July 28th at age 84. - Peter Detmold
Rob Wasserman Lou Reed surprised everyone after releasing a series of tepid albums in the eighties by coming back in 1989 with New York, one of his best, and then following it up in 1992 with Magic & Loss. These were also my introduction to the bass playing of Rob Wasserman, an imaginative upright bassist from the San Francisco scene, adept at both pizzicato and arco, who had played with David Grisman, had released the first of his trilogy albums, the award-winning Solo, and is best known for his work with Bob Weir in Ratdog. Wasserman was clearly not bound by tradition or genre, though, as he took to Reed’s work wielding a Clevinger six-string electric upright. The year before New York, he had released Duets, the second of his trilogy, on which he collaborated with artists as wide ranging as Reed, Aaron Neville, Rickie Lee Jones, Bobby McFerrin, Stephane Grappelli, and others. The trilogy finished in 1994 with the release of Trios, on which he collaborated with Neil Young and Bob Weir, Bruce Hornsby and Branford Marsalis, Elvis Costello and Marc Ribot, Willie Dixon and Al Duncan and others, including a magical “Fantasy is Reality/Bells of Madness” with Brian and Carnie Wilson. I saw him perform at Toad’s Place in 1994 with John Wesley Harding, Wasserman having recuperated from a broken arm he suffered at Woodstock earlier that year after having been able to sit in with many of the acts performing there. Further defying classification, he released an album of experimental and electronic work, Space Island, and gathered his typically wide range of collaborators to set music to writings by Woody Guthrie, resulting in the album Notes of Hope in 2012. He was also an innovative collaborator in terms of the design of his instrument, working closely with Ned Steinberger to birth a truly innovative approach to the electric upright bass (a strong contrast to his 100-year-old German upright). He also created an instructional tape and book set for Homespun. Rob Wasserman passed away on June 29, 2016. Recommended listening: Rob Wasserman Duets, Trios, Space Island. Lou Reed New York - Bob Farace
Nick Menza (MEgadeth)
In the metal world it is not arguable as to the merits of Megadeth’s 1990 classic, Rust In Peace. While their previous material was a stellar array of thrash classics, Rust In Peace remains, for many fans, the crown jewel of an amazingly influential catalogue. One key piece to the success of that album, and the band in general during the 1990s, was the drumming of Nick Menza. While Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman (rightfully) get a lot of the glory for their guitar gymnastics on that album, it was the steady hand of Menza that kept the madness on a leash in the best possible way. It’s just not possible to imagine how one of the greatest metal albums ever made would have sounded without Menza behind the kit, and frankly I don’t want to. Menza passed away on May 21 after suffering heart failure while playing with his band, OHM. He will be missed as a player but his contributions to the metal world will last forever.
- Chip McCabe
Mose Allison “well a young man” so let’s say i was 15 or 16 years old. it was 1961 or ‘2 or ‘3. in my early post-beat phase & i was already extensively hanging out in the village. one cold night my pal marty took me to see one of his older brother’s friends who lived on a small street in the west village named gay street. it was the first time we’d been an apartment rented by someone who wasn’t that much older than us & who lived in one of my favorite parts of the city where i had gotten stoned infinite times. as i recall his pad was on the second floor. we rang the outer bell & were buzzed. we walked upstairs knocked on his door & we were in. he told us to relax. we had come there to cop pills or weed, I don’t quite remember which. possibly both. anyway we were stoned long-haired & giggly. we moved nervously around his living room. the cat smiled, offered us a joint, then put an LP on box. the music immediately captivated me. some guy with a beautifully mellow “black” voice singing about his V-8 ford. I was smitten. we sat. got more stoned & listened to the side from beginning to end. when the album was over i asked him what it was and he handed me the cover. an epic (the label) release titled “Mose Allison Takes to the Hills.” well that very next day or soon thereafter i took to the hills by entering my favorite record shop, dayton’s on west 8th street & picked up a copy. the cover was the drawing on it. there was no photo of Mose on it. so i didn’t know for quite some time (until i bought my first Allison lp on prestige) that Mose was a white guy from mississippi. since that time i’ve collected almost every album Mose ever made. got to see him perform quite a few times. and even got him to sign my albums. and though “a young man ain’t nothing in the world these days” Mose stays with me long into my old-age & that youthful voice of his always helps to keep my own youth intact. me, feeling like a young man right out of parchman farm just having the time of my life. so all i can say since that night when “i lost my mind in a wild romance” is please, “baby please don’t go” & please please please baby please “do nothin’ til you hear from me”. thank you Mose for that moment over 60 years ago that in my being feels like yesterday & helps to keep my a bit of my youth intact. - Steve Dalachinsky
Leon Russell In the 1970s Leon Russell seemed to be everywhere - he was the musical director/pianist/guitarist and singer on the massive Joe Cocker “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” tour in 1970, and then did the same thing for the first all-star rock & roll benefit concert, George Harrison’s “Concert for Bangladesh” in 1972. He also worked with a who’s who of rock musicians, touring with the Stones, producing Bob Dylan, collaborating with Eric Clapton, Elton John and B.B. King, among others. But, before all that, he’d more than paid his dues – touring with Jerry Lee Lewis, Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks and Delaney & Bonnie and even serving time in LA’s famed “Wrecking Crew” where he was featured, uncredited, on many notable hit songs. At the same time he was a member of the Shindogs, the house band on ABC’s mid 60’s rock & roll showcase “Shindig.” A skilled multi-instrumentalist, his gospel-infused southern boogie piano and singing styles worked equally well in rock, blues or country music. He was also no slouch in the songwriting department, having hits with “Tight Rope” and others. But he was better known for the songs of his that other artists have covered – “Hummingbird” by B.B. King, “Delta Lady” by Joe Cocker, “Superstar” by the Carpenters and especially “A Song For You” which has been recorded by a mind-boggling array of people, from Donny Hathaway to Willie Nelson, Andy Williams and Amy Winehouse! (But check out Leon’s own gritty version on You Tube – it’s the best!) I got to see Leon Russell twice. The first time was in the summer of 1972, on the Boston Common with a sprawling band that was largely made up of the Mad Dogs & Englishmen crew, including the incredible Claudia Lennear and Rita Coolidge on vocals. The second time was more than 40 years later, in the summer of 2013 at Harkness Park in Waterford. Leon was still wonderful and in full command of everything. Born in Lawton, Oklahoma on April 2, 1942, Leon Russell died this year on November 13th at age 74. I have a cat named Leon in his honor, and he’s a badass! - Peter Detmold
Prince In 1983 I was hopelessly lost in rock limbo listening mostly to Styx, Yes, John Cougar, and Journey and who knows what else, when my slightly older than me (and much much cooler) Aunt came to visit from California. She was cranking one record over and over again: Prince’s 1999. Of course, I’d heard and loved “Little Red Corvette” and the title anthem, but “Delirious” was a revelation and the whole record was captivating, covering so much musical turf and subject matter (with more than a liberal douse of sexual innuendo) that I was immediately hooked. I never looked back and was a Prince fan for life. I got to see him live on the Lovesexy tour (nearly died sleeping out for tickets for that one - ask me offline and I’ll tell you about it) as well as on the Musicology tour and then his triumphant return just a couple years back. His shows were master classes on musical form and arrangement (not to mention choreography and costumes). Prince could play it all from the most raging funk to cool jazz, ballads to full on rock and roll (in fact on some of his records he did play it all - recording all of the instruments and voices himself). Something that often gets overlooked was that he was a phenomenal lead guitarist and ranks up there with the best ever. He had a way of bringing spirituality and sexuality together through his writing, celebrating the human condition in such a positive light. There will never be another like Prince a true original and inspiration. - Rich Martin
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A Poetry Page Heather R. Patterson
Rearrange The Stones
I’m sick of writing love poems, and sex poems and drunk stupid girl poems
I have a friend Who knows how I feel Who let’s me unravel And holds the thread so I can roll myself back up When it’s time
I’m tired of writing dream poems, and I hate life, I have no hope poems
I have a friend Who knows my story Who picks up the phone in the middle of the day And listens to the urgent status of things A friend who knows the players and all of their plays
I’ve exhausted the lonely poems, the men suck poems, the red lipstick, look at me poems I’ve written about words I’ve written about writing I’ve written about writing words I’m over the about you poems, high on drugs, trying to be something I’m not poems I don’t care about war poems, peace poems, the moon reflected on the water poems Poems I’m sick of writing fucking poems
1 A chalkboard in the age of dry erase An analog clock staring down a digital face An original nose up against plastic perfection These are the times we live in 2 I need a dark night of reality I need a cigarette and a beer I need to see sex on TV and breath in the dirtiness of the air around me 3 am starving myself starving myself of originality starving myself of nutrition starving myself of life and as my mind tumbles and my stomach grumbles and the world fumbles I count the inches that my pen has not written the inches my waist has forbidden and the inches of the distance I have pushed away 4 I draw around my glass, circles, like little nooses around the stout of my chocolate beer that will hang me if I drink enough of them 5 My life hangs in a picture frame. I only put what I want you to see on display, but if you crack open the frame, break the glass that it looks through, peel back the matting and turn the picture around, the writing on the back is the secret waiting to be found.
Dreary Day Poem Gray not just the color, the space between being sure and unsure foggy dark confusing That spot of figuring out if you’re ready to move to black and white because those are the only choices besides staying in the gray and how do you convey that emotion? The unsettling stomach aches, the wondering what it’s all meant for the looming fear of doubt covered by gray ….but you say no commitments no promises no yes’s or No’s just a cloud full of maybes trying to give way to a light at the end of the Gray
I have a friend Who listens when I call When I’m pulling up the grass between my fingers, rolling over in the sun A friend who can absorb the vulnerabilities of my voice And sends them back to me I have a friend Who shares my regrets A friend that rejoices in our hopes A place to rest without competing And safe harbor in the understanding of one another I have a friend Who knows how far we’ve pushed the rock Who understands when tears aren’t enough And shares the love of a future yet to be known A friend who can rearrange the stones
The Mourning Dove Crisis turns to celebration and back to crisis The cycle evolves revolves and dissolves Don’t tell me I have something to learn Don’t tell me I haven’t learned anything I’m never the same moment twice But I’m always here taking it all in blocking it all out fidgeting with the fabric talking textures catching the light hiding in the dark Don’t tell me I’ll figure it out That I’ll get an educationI’ve been learning how to learn to unlearn that which I wanted to know and wish I never knew for as long as I could remember And I’m damn near filled up with emptiness
I’m attached to resistance I’m attached to the symbols that shine back at me from the vastness of daily life Things that seem a personal twinkle from god made measure just for me Should I let go of that? What more can I surrender? I’ve put down the hurting bat I’ve spilled the ink of all my sins And still the sun rises to tell me It’s not about you after all You love yourself, that’s really about all of the victory you could hope for You love yourself, said the spinning mind you love yourself said the calling bell you love yourself said the golden leaf and the timpani drum You love the love said the mourning dove.
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Interview with Matt Conboy from Death By Audio about his new film about the space, “Goodnight Brooklyn.” - Kid Millions Matt Conboy was one of founders of the Brooklyn, NY DIY performance space Death By Audio. The venue was forced to close in 2014 when Vice Media purchased the building wherein the space was located. During their final month, Death By Audio hosted a series of legendary shows and filmed and recorded them all. A year later, Conboy finished a film about the space and that final Herculean month called Goodnight Brooklyn. The film will have a small theatrical release in Jan of 2017 and will be available on iTunes in Feb of 2017. Check goodnightbrooklyn. com for details about purchase and online streaming. Here’s our conversation: Kid Millions: I noticed that Vice Media wasn’t really in the film? Did you try to include them? Do you think they would have spoken on the record about DBA? Matt Conboy: I didn’t really want to make the movie about them. For a while I was hoping we wouldn’t have to mention them at all, but as we were filming it became obvious they were the villains in the story. But even as we were editing, we went to great lengths to limit their sections in the film to the bare minimum. It would be very easy to make the movie about them, but I felt like that would miss out on what’s so interesting about our community. That said, I seriously doubt anyone would have gone on record. They have a history of lying about this whole thing (see ) to misleading, deflecting or refusing to comment (NYT article). I doubt they would have wanted to participate in my movie. Kid Millions: The hardships you faced and the destruction of this space for commerce is so painful to watch. Do you guys feel like you’ve healed or are on the way to that? It’s a devastating process to realize that nothing is safe. It’s scary. I’ve been there! Matt Conboy: Dude, it has been a tough couple years. I am definitely getting close to feeling healed now, which is nice. Making the movie has been cathartic, obviously. But it was a huge loss - probably greater than I anticipated when December  rolled around and everything really sunk in. I do feel good and optimistic in general though, and I’m just psyched that people are going to get to see this movie and hopefully feel some connection to our community, maybe even feel in-spired to go out and make one of their own. Kid Millions: A number of the bands featured in the film are from my generation [founded in the late 90s]. . .which is also cool. 3 of them have roots in the Providence DIY scene and Ft Thunder of course. How did you go about choosing which sets to feature in the final doc? Were there considerations aside from getting clearances? Matt Conboy: We ended up using bands in the film that helped tell different parts of the story. For instance I wanted to use Les Savy Fav to talk about gentrification in Williamsburg because those dudes have lived here since the 90s and I felt a resonance there. Having Dan Deacon, this monolithic genius of weird from Baltimore be the soundtrack to DIY scenes across the US and world felt similarly resonant. There was also some consideration of bands that had performed a bunch over the years or were inspirations for us before we started DBA the venue. The first band Oliver and I really bonded over was Lightning Bolt. He went to RISD and I think went to a party
or two at Ft Thun-der, which was always just this inspirational, legendary place for me. Having them play DBA was a dream for all involved. I remember the first time Black Pus played at DBA Edan and I were helping Brian load in and we locked eyes as we were carrying one of Brian’s stupidly-heavy cabinets and Edan said to me, “This is Lightning Bolt’s gear.” I also felt like it was important to hear voices like Tim Harrington [Les Savy Fav], Kyp Malone [TV on the Radio] and Michael Azerrad [author of This Band Could Be Your Life] in this film that might otherwise be described as a ‘punk kid’ movie. [We wanted to include] people who have been in and around the NYC and Williamsburg music scene since the 90s to show that this is something that pre-dates DBA; that we are apart of a cultural movement that stretches back decades. Plus I just love all the bands in the movie. There were so many more I wish we could have included. Kid Millions: I understand that there were 50K of damages via flooding from the construction above during the buildout. That was so heartbreaking to see. And the fact that you didn’t cancel any shows is miraculous! Why didn’t you give up? It felt heroic when I watched the film. Matt Conboy: Thanks man! Yeah it was pretty intense. But we had so many awesome dedicated people to help clean up and figure shit out. I think because of the flood in my room we missed out on multitrack recording of one show, but that was about it. I think the psychological challenge made us even more resolute in a way. By the end we were exhausted, and something crazy or fucked up happened nearly every day or night. But I think we knew that what we were doing mattered to people and it mattered to us to do it right. So giving up never really felt like an option. I remember wanting to sleep desperately but every show was amazing and celebratory so giving up would have meant that in some shitty way Vice beat us. By the time Lightning Bolt went on stage it felt like we won the world’s longest marathon. It was awesome. Kid Millions: I have a question about the end. I feel like it must have been a clear choice for you guys to por-tray yourselves as so emotionally vulnerable. Was that conscious? Also the end of the film where you’re saying your goodbyes and leaving the space is actually quite long. I’m wondering if you are trying to allow the audience to enter into the emotional space that you guys were inhab-iting during those moments? In a way, the viewer is really meant to ponder what they’ve just ex-perienced because the content of the end is quite personal and is no longer instructive or di-dactic (not that you were ever simply didactic). Perhaps you mean to including the viewer here? As if the viewer is also saying goodbye and reflecting as well? Matt Conboy: Yeah that’s on the right track. I think it came from a place of experiencing all of those crazy emotions. I thought it would be great if the movie was able to make an audience member feel what it was like to be there. The movie kind of has this transition where the black and white footage comes in and it’s more impressionistic than strictly documentary/ story. I also felt that if I did my job the audience would identify with Edan on some level. Then when you’re forced to watch him pack up and leave the paradise he’s always wanted it would hopefully make for a solid bitter-sweet ending. The very end title card is kind of picking up on that theme. You just saw how hard and horrible it was to go through the ending of a DIY space, now go do it yourself be-cause it’s awesome and totally worth it. The whole movie is about that kind of irony and contrast. At the end of the film, after I had waded through all the hardship and celebration I found myself genuinely shocked at the words at the end, “you should start one.” I feel a little ashamed that I felt the defeat and
sadness that you guys took on in a way that rendered that statement shocking. I love that you ended with that. . .it’s a more nuanced way of saying, “It was all worth it!” Can you comment about this? I think you nailed the complex emotion I was going for, maybe I’ve already said too much. I hope a girl in the middle of nowhere finds this movie and is inspired. And if she feels alienated from culture and her local community, I hope it can make her feel like she can create something meaningful. We didn’t have any money or access to power. There was no good reason reason for it to last longer than a weekend, except that there was a dedicated community of people who believed in it, maybe more than we believed in ourselves. And that’s a powerful thing. Even when you have nothing to show for it other than your memories. I think this weird succession of ideas about DIY and community and creativity come from that place. I’m happy to be another link in that chain. Kid Millions: Can you share some thoughts about the Oakland fire in light of your time at DBA? What are you going through related to this tragedy? The whole thing is really sad. I grew up in Oakland. I’ve only lived there and NYC. I obviously lived in a warehouse venue and have played countless shows in warehouses all over the US. I’m grateful that nothing like that ever happened at DBA. We always did our best to make shows safe and positive environments (also had sprinklers etc). I’m sad for the people who lost friends and I’m sad for the people who died. I’m also sad that the news and maybe mainstream society is using this tragedy to target artists and poor people and people who have built communities on the fringes of society. I believe we are all entitled to safety, but it feels wrong to single out the people who are forced into the underground and say you need to do everything to x standard or we’re kicking you out of your home. I wish we could collectively recognize the larger issues at play here and maybe help the people living in warehouses improve their little utopia, acknowledge it’s value and make it safer and more open. That’s probably naive, but the response feels like taking homeless people off the street and throwing them in jail. You’re not really solving a problem, just trading one for another. What do you think? Kid Millions: I’m of a similar mind about this. In Europe, these alternative spaces sometimes become state-funded. But there’s less of an ingrained DIY culture there. I would say in in the aftermath of the Providence club fire, there wasn’t a rush to close clubs, but there was a renewed focus on safety. The Oakland fire highlighted some of the complacency and inertia that surrounds safety at these creative spaces. A lot of my friends have been saying, “That could have been me.” I feel that way completely. The old Monster Island Basement had one exit. The Ocropolis (Oneida’s studio) also had one exit. We used to have small invite only shows there. Anything could have happened. Fire spreads so quickly. I did have an awareness about safety and did not allow people to do pyrotechnics. But there were no sprinklers! I would like a more supportive mindset by all. I think it’s hard not to frame it as adversarial. Like “the fire marshal isn’t letting us do what we want to do”. . .but Brian Chippendale quoted a Fire Marshall in a recent essay in The Creative Independent, “You may think this is all cool but we’re the ones who have to pull the bodies out after a fire.” Matt Conboy: Yeah totally. And I do think the responsibility for safety is on the people throwing the show. Obviously bad things could have happened at DBA, or any legal or semi-legal venue. I think I just hate the witch hunt/hammer-down response. But that’s maybe why we do this shit anyway, be-cause doing things the way they’ve always been done stifles creativity. We just need to make sure everyone is safe while they’re breaking the rules. It’s a paradox.
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The Olympians The Olympians Daptone
I’m always excited to hear a new instrumental album come out of the New York soul/funk scene. Bands/projects such as Sugarman 3, Budos Band, Menahan Street Band and El Michels Affair have produced some of the funkiest records of the last decade. And now, key members of the above groups (including Tommy Brenneck, Dave Guy, Leon Michels, Nick Movshon, Homer Steinweiss, Michael Leonhart, Neal Sugarman, Aaron Johnson and Evan Pazner) have united under bandleader Toby Pazner (Lee Fields, Lady) to form The Olympians. Yes, the Greek gods now have their own house band. The Olympians have created a cinematic soul masterpiece with this record. The mood reminds me of Menahan Street Band’s records, though stepped up a bit with even more lush string sections and beautiful use of harp (esp. on Saturn). And while all I need to say is, “these guys form the core of the Dap-Kings and Budos Band” for you to know there are impeccably composed rhythms throughout, even the most loyal fans of Daptone Records will be met with constant surprises. Perhaps it’s the freedom (or pressure) of playing without a vocalist or simply the desire to appease the gods, but I hear a group of seasoned musicians pouring everything they have into this record. Highly recommended. - Dave Freeburg
The New Breed International Anthem
Known for his work in the experimental post-rock/postjazz outfit Tortoise, Jeff Parker cuts a fine cloth of his own work—an assemblage of pieces centered around languid jazz grooves and beat-production reminiscent of J Dilla and Madlib, godfathers to the L.A. beat scene. As a lead multi-instrumentalist for this endeavor (electric guitar, Wurlitzer electric piano, loops and samplers to name just a few “toys” he engages with over the course of the record), he employs a free-jazz atmosphere combined with an instrumental hip-hop backbone that can veer into great interpretive listens over and over. His focus on a combination of what can seem at face value, a mix of disparate and off-beat sounds, becomes fluid in its pairings from his astute compositional skills. Where beats drastically change in texture with either samples used or live drums applied (sometimes within the breath of a song), themes drop in and out at a consistent mid-tempo range that creates a wholeness to the record. Alto saxophonist, Josh Johnson (who’s also done sessions with Esperanza Spaulding), makes a substantial contribution to the record on tracks such as, “Para Ha Tay” and the cover of Bobby Hutcherson’s “Visions.” Johnson’s echoing horn sounds in concert with Parker’s guitar lines emote smoke hazes, the feeling of respite from the hot sun or frigid winter, the waning ache of bones after a long day at work, and at the core: love. From a personal perspective, jazz longs, aches, and revels in love and the exploration of its meaning. Whether it’s melancholy or joyful, this love that jazz creates is a lineage steeped in desire and passion to hit the right note or chord pattern. On The New Breed, Parker’s search for that “perfect” riff emotes a familial togetherness on a new branch of the jazz family tree. - Daniel Boroughs
Johnny Mainstream Basement Trash
Manchester, CT alt-indie-folk rock four-piece, Johnny Mainstream, follow up their highly acclaimed 2015 full-length with a new four-song EP. Basement Trash dives a little deeper into Johnny Mainstream’s well of influences, showcasing an interesting array of pop-infused songs that scratch and claw their way out of the broad Americana pantheon were previous efforts have successfully lived. For an act that has continued to grow and evolve on every release, it’s not out of the question to claim that these four tracks represent some of their best work to date.
Shovels & Rope Little Seeds New West Records
Breaking open the plastic, I already know I love this record. They’ve sharpened. But they’ve maintained the same spirit as “O! Be Joyful!” The new (but minor) studio tricks they’ve learned haven’t made them slick. That’s a good thing. “Honey, take a bow!” Shotgun delivery. Chaotic and on point. Apoca-gospelyptic. Haunting. “We can all get together and share the dread.” Johnny and June. Jack and Meg. Derek and Tom. Peter and Julie. Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks. Springsteen and Patti Smith. This is a whiskey and weed record. It’s familiar but unpredictable. “Gonna take a long walk ‘fore I take my boots off.” Motherfucking metaphorical. This is an important band, with something important to say. The backing vocals are as good as any anywhere - heartwrenching beautiful, then fun and willy-wild. Travel. Sin. Loneliness. Gratitude. Observations. Realizations. What it is. What it was. What it shall be.
Dana Twigg Better View
Met this guy when we shared a stage in Ithaca, NY, and liked him immediately. Strong quiet type. Manly. Firm handshake assertive and warm. Working man’s muscles under a seemingly stylish flannel shirt. Rugged, and almost handsome. Young Johnny Cash haircut. Mysterious and poetic in the same way as a seasoned stack of cord wood. Spoke slowly and with conviction. Had a story to tell, told it plainly and impassively. Dropped a conclusion at my feet that turned to a realization when I bent to pick it up. , Listened to his record on a rainy Sunday morning at home. The music is absolutely consistent with the man: firm, assertive, warm, muscular, rugged, almost handsome, mysterious, poetic. Straightforward acoustic guitar, no-nonsense vocals, honest delivery, instrumentation bolsters the songs appropriately. The songs tell it like it is and let you decide for yourself what it means. Stream of consciousness comparisons: Jacob Dylan, Jason Isbell, Steve Earle.
- Chip McCabe
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Bossanova, and that is a wonderful thing. “Might As Well Be Gone” and “Oona” are classic Pixies tracks, filled with emotion and lament, and even the Green Goddess, Oona. Like it’s name, Oona has a feminine, mysterious feel to it, more so if you seek out the lyrics. And more than any others, these two seem to feature Paz almost channeling Deal’s vocal style, as her enunciation seems more pronounced in the same the way that Kim’s is. This can potentially be a little weird at first to Kim’s die hard fans, but Paz is so genuine, you just can’t hold the history against her. She does what the songs need, and that is awesome. “Talent”, my first favorite on the album, is classically choppy and bright and super catchy. And, another bonus? The lyrics give Jack Palance a shout, which is another first for a rock song, I’m sure. I laughed when I first heard it, which is always a good sign.
Head Carrier Pixies Music
When I was asked this past October to review the new Pixies album, Head Carrier, I was excited for such a worthy distraction from the 2016 Election bubble I put myself in. It would also give me my first chance to hear Paz Lenchantin with the band serving as Kim Deal’s official replacement, as it was not something I had experienced yet... I am a lazy fan, I know. I was curious how this new album would sound, but I feel I can’t give a review of 2016’s Head Carrier without discussing Indie Cindy first. Indie Cindy was released in 2014, and was the band’s first album in 23 years. I found the reaction from “fans” and critics alike to be a bit ridiculous. I was lucky...I was a teenager when they were a new band and I got to see them play in 1992. Very soon after their breakup they rose to a legendary status, and people who missed them the first time began begging them to reunite and make another record. And so, after almost two decades of begging, they actually did! And what happened? People in their 20s who were barely conscious during the Pixies first spin--and who had access to the ever powerful music blogs--declared it a “failure”, insisting there were “no Pixies in this new Pixies album”. Quite the contrary, actually, as it was FILLED with classic Pixies structures and progressions. When the EPs started trickling out for Indie Cindy, I thought that they were everything the people had been asking for. Even if every song wasn’t as strong as the next, there were still some new and truly classic sounding Pixies songs on there. The drama that followed after their tour with Kim Deal obviously affected some fans, and I agree that there was an undeniable tension, but it was still a worthy and interesting return after a two decade hiatus. I didn’t expect to put Indie Cindy on and get Surfer Rosa or Dolittle, so I was not disappointed. I thought it was cool, but no, it didn’t replace my favorites. Likewise, as I put Head Carrier on for the first time, I was simply open to the idea of “New Pixies”. I didn’t expect to get a classic Pixies album that would rival their classics from the 80s and 90s, especially with the addition of a new band member. But... that is actually EXACTLY what we got, and no one was more surprised than I was. If you are a fan of this band’s catalogue and listen to this album only once before tossing it aside, you may not agree with what I just said. However, if you allow yourself to listen to this album several times over, by your fifth listen, you just might. With each listen, the songs started taking on a life of their own, and I began noticing a theme playfully revolving around gods and goddesses,
saints and sinners, and Europe... yes, the continent. The album is filled to the brim with those beloved, classic Pixies structures and progressions and were not surprisingly the first things that jumped out at me upon my first listen. The way they uniquely move through a song and how they are able to make so many poignant changes in two and a half minutes is as comforting and familiar to me as a warm blanket on a cold night. Seriously. Frank Black seems quite inspired on this album, and that is always a fun thing to witness. His vocals are strong and his lyrics even stronger. His screams are intense and harken back to the old days, and oh, those progressions! Joey Santiago and David Lovering’s guitar and drums are stellar throughout the entire album. Joey’s guitar leads are as enigmatic as Black’s lyrics, and Lovering’s drums are energetic, steady and exact. I am also finding Paz to be a wonderful addition, similar to when she joined forces with Billy Corgan to play bass and sing in 2003’s Zwan. She adds a lighthearted energy to both bands in her own unique way. Her bass playing is clearly toned down to do what’s right for these songs, as she is wildly talented yet does not overplay--proving that she totally “gets” this band. She is a also bit more swingy and smooth than Kim Deal is, and while I obviously love how Kim plays, Paz has a great style and finesse all her own. I also find her backing vocals especially charming and melodic, and really help her to put her own stamp on these songs. In a way, this album plays like a story, at least to my ears. “Head Carrier” starts it off, and right away the style is familiar. Cryptic, possibly sarcastic, out-front lyrics that speak of Saints, angst, and mythical things, delivered to us with an American accent. I have heard Joey’s guitar playing described as “simple” and “minimal” by some critics, but he is an absolute master of mood. He catches it perfectly from the start of this album to the very end. “Classic Masher”, the second track, was the first time I’d heard Paz with the band, and before her first background vocal made a sound, I could hear her presence in the bassline. It’s a super playful, summer all the time, makes you smile tho you’re not sure why kind of track. Added bonus: I’ve never heard the word “haberdasher” sung in a song before, so that was cool. “Baal’s Back” surely feels like an anthem, but whose? I don’t pretend to know. Could be Frank Black’s, could be some other demon’s. I do love when they crush the three chord thing, and they do it well here. Very reminiscent of “Rock Music” off of 1990’s
“Tenement Song” stood out as one of the two tracks that instantly screamed “classic Pixies” to me. The progression and flow is strange upon your first listen (as so many of their songs are), until you get it, and it then it’s quite beautiful. I adore the vocals and harmonies on this song; it is full-bodied and heartfelt, and Joey’s guitar lines are genius. “Bel Esprit” feels like a fairy tale, full of magic and morals. It is both sweet and sad, and the European visuals give help give it a storybook feel. Also, I had to look up what “Bel Esprit” meant, and once I did, the genius came pouring out and it all made sense. I have to say, I thought giving Paz a song to sing on her own was pretty ballsy, given the history of the Pixies and Kim Deal. I knew instantly “That’s All I Think About Now” had something to do with Kim because of the striking similarities to “Where Is My Mind”. I had to know so I looked it up, and it was indeed a tribute, and a very lovely one at that. Frank Black wrote a “Thank You” letter to Kim Deal, and Paz sang it to her. Heavy Stuff for a Pixies fan! The next track, “Um Chaga Laga” couldn’t be more different. It’s a chuggy, upbeat and driving song, which incidentally IS great to drive to! It is littered with scenes that make you feel like you are driving in the French countryside, seeing what they are singing about. It’s a fun song that showcases their newly reincarnated sound, their new band member, and who the band is today very successfully to new and seasoned listeners alike... it made total sense to make this a single. “Plaster of Paris” is a super short, sprite of a song that I didn’t think much of at first, but slowly tugged at my heart strings to become my favorite on the whole album. Of all the cryptic lyrics buried within the other songs, all of the haunting melodies and swirling visuals you can have if you allow yourself to, this little song says so much without really saying anything...in under 2 minutes. There is a sweetness here that I have not heard in a long time. “All The Saints” closes it out quite nicely. It sounds self reflective yet slightly unanswered, though determined. I think it can mean different things to different people, which for me, always makes it great. There is a 1950s vibe with sparkly, swingy guitars and straightforward bass. Even the vocals pull from the 50s folk scene. It’s a great ending to this slightly mystically-themed album. The further you dive into this record, the more you can uncover. Songs that speak of Cephalaphores and ancient ones, songs that explore love and loss and loss of friendship, songs that are happy and full of hope, and songs that feel sorrowful, like the the ending of a story. As an original Pixies fan from the 80s, I have no problem saying Head Carrier is every bit as special as any of my favorites from their first incarnation. It stands toe-to-toe with their past catalogue, and I hope the chemistry of this current lineup that gave us Head Carrier is only the beginning of another creative outpouring from this band who is so special to so many of us. - Michelle Montavon
10 Steamboat Wharf, Mystic, Connecicut 06320 | 860-536-1312 | mysticdisc.com
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M: Yeah, and actually it was the other way around but it all worked. So to backtrack, the shows were doing well enough so it made sense to have a separate booking division. Andy and Ethan could focus on the records and bands… J: And you would handle the shows?
From the Underground to Downtown A Chat with Manic Production’s
Mark Nussbaum - Jason Bischoff-Wurstle
I’m here at College Street Music Hall in downtown New Haven with Mark Nussbaum just as Patton Oswalt is about to take the stage. As we move through the rejuvenated and buzzing venue in the heart of a New Haven Friday night, Mark keeps his cool and simultaneously lives up to his promotion company’s namesake; Manic Productions. We took our seats and talked about where Manic has been and what the future may bring: J: What is the root of Manic Productions? How did you start out? M: I grew up in Guilford and had 4th Period lunch in high school with Andy from The Flaming Tsunamis. They would book and play shows at the Madison Arts Barn and I ended up doing merch for them. So while I was still in high school I was doing that and was able to go out with them on tour and see how shows and venues were run, and what I did and didn’t like about that. Andy started a record label called Kill Normal Records with their bassist Ethan. They started booking more shows, bands that were on their label and I helped out with that. I started booking more and more of their shows, and that was fun and then I was like “I want to start booking different bands, bands that I liked not just the ones on their label.” So around 2000-2001 I started doing that through them. J: How old were you at this point? M: 16-17. Still in high school. J: You were digging it though? Having fun? M: Oh yeah! I got so into it! So yeah it just made sense to have my own name on it. J: So this how you came to Manic? Was it named after you?
M: Yep. So it was initially part of Kill Normal and when we were deciding to split off and coming up with what to call the new company it was one of those 2 in the morning sitting around in the living room type of things. We were throwing names out and Manic came up. We looked it up and it turned out it fit me pretty well! J: Around this point you were booking in local halls, American Legions, VFWs, that type of thing. You developed a reputation for interesting shows in what could be considered alternative venues to clubs and bars. How long did that go on for and what were your next steps? M: We were doing the “hall shows” from around 2002 to 2006. In 2006, I booked my first show at The Space. J: Were you doing this full time by then? M: It was still more of a hobby than a full time thing. I had graduated with a business degree in 2003, and ended up working at Subway and doing shows. It wasn’t until 2008 when I decided to try to live solely off of doing shows. J: What was the reason for that? M: We did our first co-promote/ split show that year at Toad’s Place. It was a Pinback show that did really well and the connections I made through that led to more co-promotes there and the Shubert [Theatre], working with and promoting bigger artists like Willie Nelson and Jeff Mangum [Neutral Milk Hotel]. I was feeling confident. Things were ramping up. So I ended up quitting Subway, went pretty much completely bankrupt, lived off free bread from Atticus, and lived with a bunch of friends in a house we called Fort Sunshine. J: So Manic wasn’t exactly working out. It sounds like it was still catch-as-catch-can. Did you think this was what you wanted to keep doing? M: Yes and no. I’d say it was the Dinosaur Jr. show in 2009 at Daniel Street in Milford where I really realized that this was what I wanted to do full-time with my life. It was a really long day, a complicated load-in, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I was working with a band that is one of my all-time
favorites and it was my job. It just hit me that this was really pretty cool and fulfilling. J: Nice. Did things continue to pick up? M: Again yes and no. We were still pretty much bankrupt. I was feeling down and the shows weren’t doing as well. So I came up with this idea to do a six-month pass to shows. We would sell 10 to 15 six month passes [which] for the people that support us and go to a lot of our shows they would get a deal and it would help us build up some money. I told myself then that I would give it six more months to see what happened. It was during that time that we got contacted by BAR to do a regular weekly series. J: So this is around 2010-2011 when BAR reached out to you? M: Actually it was Oliver from the band Plume Giant who are now called Pavo Pavo that got in touch. Rick Omonte from Shaki Presents used to book free shows on Sunday nights. It was a great series. He’d bring in bands like Animal Collective, Dungen, Acid Mother’s Temple, some really amazing acts. J: Yes it was very well received throughout the region. M: Totally. So when the Sunday night series ended BAR moved the free concert nights to Wednesdays. Oliver was attending Yale and booking local Yale bands and some touring bands occasionally in that time slot on Wednesdays. So I ended up booking a show at The Space with Gregory and the Hawk, and invited Plume Giant to be the opener. We met there and he liked what Manic was doing and told me about what was going on at BAR. He introduced me to them, and after he graduated we sat down and negotiated with BAR and it became what it is. J: A weekly free series running since 2011… M: I met my wife at one of those shows! Plume Giant actually played at that one! So BAR gave us regular income and stability, plus the six-month pass was a success that brought in a ton of press, lots of blogs, newspapers that spotlighted what we were doing. Things really picked up. J: Was it a “boom” type thing? M: It went from zero to you know one hundred. It was all coming together. Demographically our crowds expanded out, we had more regular shows booked at Café Nine and The Space and other
venues, stuff like that. J: So zero to one hundred, and you’re beginning to really branch out of your indie rock phase? M: We first started out doing ska, punk and hardcore shows. After high school I got into more indie type bands by people I lived with and the connections we all had. So yeah I started booking much more indie than ska type stuff around then. J: How did it feel to start booking your idols or at the least the bands that you wanted to listen to and see here in Connecticut? M: It was and is pretty cool. I always try to book bands I like and/or I think should play here in Connecticut and along the way I was working with my favorite bands regularly. J: How do you feel about the modern touring situation? M: I think bands survive based on touring and people coming out and buying merch. People aren’t buying CDs much. Vinyl has had a comeback, obviously digital is huge, but bands make it and get by [with] people coming out and supporting them. J: Do you feel like you are plugged in and moving this all forward? New bands? Established bands? Working with all of them? M: Yeah. I mean we’re still doing what we’ve always tried to do from the beginning. Work with an act that has talent and should be playing Connecticut, put them in a room that makes sense and start building them. At this point with College Street we have a prime venue in our wheelhouse to work and move these bands up. Because of the relationships we’ve fostered over the last 14 years we’re hit up a lot more and able to work with more established acts. Like you know, the Flaming Lips for example. J: I know that was a big turning point for you. You got to deal with them and Live Nation. Going from basement shows to working with the industry mainstays. M: It’s funny that show was supposed to be
J: That was your first exposure working with an operation of similar size to the one we are sitting in right now, College Street Music Hall, which to a large degree you help run. M: It was that show that helped bring us all here. The Flaming Lips was a partnership with Premier Concerts because we were too small to handle all of the logistics. I remember going online and seeing that a Pixies show was happening in Waterbury presented by Premier Concerts. I said, “who the hell is Premier Concerts?!” I found their number and called them up and told them all about Manic and convinced them to help put the Flaming Lips show on. We kept working on other co-promotes like Morrissey, Andrew Bird, and Neutral Milk Hotel. Manic was able to do these bigger shows, and that has eventually grown into the College Street project. J: At times there has been criticism about you booking outside bands over local bands. What’s your take on that? M: Our whole thing has always been that we book as many local bands as we can on shows. Right now we average around 8 to 10 local bands that are new to working with us a month. J: Primarily through the BAR series? M: BAR, Café Nine, and you know tours at a larger level don’t always have room for a local act. We fight to put local acts on as much as possible. J: Lastly, is it still fun? M: Is it still to me? Absolutely! It’s still like having a hobby that takes up all of my time and I get paid for it. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t love it. J: There you go. Thanks Mark for sitting down and talking with us! Jason Bischoff-Wurstle is the host of “The Relay,” an all vinyl free-form radio show airing every 2nd Tuesday of the month from 11 PM to 2 AM on WPKN 89.5 FM (Streaming on www.wpkn.org).
packing the place.
College Street Music Hall New Haven, CT - January 14, 2017
For the unfamiliar, Deerhunter is an Atlanta based band that effortlessly moves from catchy garage rock to dreamy tunes with minor-key-nursery-rhyme melodies to lengthy krautrock inspired rhythm workouts. Tying it all together are the high in the mix but laid back vocals of bandleader Bradford Cox. Bradford, who is known for often decorating his skinny 6’4’’ frame with dresses and wigs, went with a more subdued outfit and his signature bowl cut for their first Connecticut show. Joining him were core members Lockett Pundt on guitar/vocals and Moses Archuleta on drums, and bassist Josh McKay (who joined while recording their 2013 LP Monomania). Rounding out a solid 6-piece were new members Javier Morales on keys/ sax and Rhasaan Manning on percussion. Once assembled, they immediately launched into the two deep and beautiful tunes that open their 2008 LP Microcastle: “Cover Me (Slowly)” and “Agoraphobia”, with Bradford showing his humble side by thanking the audience for their attendance mid-song. They assumed the New Haven crowd would be slim, so kudos to Manic Productions for
outside in Simsbury but the venue fell through so we had to work quickly to find another location. That ended up being the Oakdale in Wallingford.
They continued with the similarly paced “Rainwater Cassette Exchange” (from the 2009 EP of the same name) and picked things up a bit with “Revival” from their brilliant 2010 LP Halcyon Digest. It wasn’t until the fifth song of the night that they dipped into their most recent record Fading Frontier (with “Breaker”). Then it was right back into Halcyon Digest with “Helicopter” (a personal favorite). We didn’t hear another song from Fading Frontier until after a few from their 2013 garage rock LP Monomania. While I love the newest record and wouldn’t have minded a set more focused on that, they instead performed the ultimate Deerhunter mixtape drawing from almost every release since 2007’s EP Fluorescent Grey. Throughout the night Bradford’s banter was hilarious. Sweden’s Nord Keyboards received a thorough dressing down from the after a brief audio mishap. The company’s solution to their ongoing issue was, “you can buy a new one”. Then came the Wikipedia style New Haven facts Cox shared while introducing the band. “Javier, you may be interested to know that the Amistad …” While he did throw some barbs at the historic wealth and power in the area, he said he could see himself living in New Haven if only to gaze upon the de Kooning at the Yale University Gallery every week. After a break, they kicked off the encore with “Fluorescent Grey”, a song I first heard via Jay Reatard’s sped-up cover (which is fantastic, by the way). And since the evening started with a couple from Microcastle, it was only fitting that they end with a ten minute “Nothing Ever Happened” from that same record, a drum heavy krautrock jam that would make Neu proud. The shirt I picked up says, “Deer Hunter Rhythm of God”. After that ender, I’d have to agree.
- Dave Freeburg
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Having trouble navigating the choppy waters on the river of life? The Cut-Up’s Auntie is here to help. Send us your dilemnas and she’ll point you toward the path forward.
Dear Auntie, I am thinking a lot about acceptance these days. I want to be pleased with how life has turned out and to accept situations that I cannot change. In some way I am still in sorrow about a relationship that ended against my will. I am still missing all of what was then. Two years have passed and I am well. I am happy. I must say time has actually made me move forward and heal. But in some ways I still grieve, and I miss him. Are there some things in life that hurt forever, or will there be an end of the longing back to what once was. Is my lack acceptance part of this, the reason have not yet stopped grieving? Signed, Suffering Dear Suffering, The human mind, although amazing, is an annoying instrument when it develops glitches in its function. As we go through life, we record information, filter it, and then mold it into acceptable packets to use later. This helps us feel like we are in control and gives us the illusion of freedom from fear. When something happens that brings us pleasure, we decorate it a bit more and keep it at the top of the pile for easy access. Sometimes when we experience happiness we worry about it ending and can even destroy our sense of pleasure by fearing its loss. We do the same thing when something brings us pain. Pain and loss are unacceptable to the version or story of our life that we have built up in our heads like a little movie. We will play the movie over and over, shifting details to try to make sense of the fact that things did not work out the way we wanted them to. We may idealize happy moments and forget the lousy ones. We may twist an incident around and around to help us justify an unacceptable action or our anger towards someone. In any case, it hurts. Sadness and grief is like a path in the woods. The more you walk on the path the flatter the dirt and the easier it is to walk down. Acceptance is knowing that you have choices about what paths to take. There is nothing wrong with sadness over loss, it is beautiful to be alive and feeling as a human being. The problem is when it poisons your present moment. When the pain comes, feel it. Sit with it, notice the physical aspect of it, but don’t start the movie up. Have a set thing to tell yourself like,”Wow, I really loved this guy, but I need someone who loves me as much as I love”. Remind yourself that rejection is super difficult for anyone to handle. Ask yourself why you would be interested in someone who is ambivalent about you. Meanwhile, go get a machete and hack a new trail through the woods. Sincerely, Auntie
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