Music and Art Monday, December 11th,2017: What Was I Thinking?

I was sorting out a tub of crusty old stuff the other day and found some of my old cds. What a time capsule!

You know you are “old” when you have to make sure your cd drive is hooked up to the computer. Who listens to cd’s anymore?

So what was I listening to just a few short years ago?

The first oldie I popped in was Carla Werner’s first album “Departure“.

Daparture

Never heard of her? There’s probably a good reason. Her last album was released in 2009, and it was much better than the first. But not much better. Snooze fest and an anemic voice. What was I thinking back then?

Next up was a copy of Forest For The Trees’ “Planet Unknown“.

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This isn’t a bad song for late 90’s electronica. But they aren’t on Spotify and judging by Google results, they probably aren’t around as a group anymore either. ‘Tis a shame.

Next into my cd drive was The Beatles “Anthology 2”. The middle anthology is personally my favorite. This is definitely the best period of the band. I’m actually quite glad to have found this one.

Anthology2

There was also a Paul McCartney live album, which is pretty meh. I saw him in concert, and after that there are very few good live albums that are worth it. Either be there or be square.

I stopped listening at this point. Sometimes nostalgia is not so fun. It just reminds you of better times or worse times, or just the fact that your taste in music isn’t always the most discerning. 

Also in the tub was some Norah Jones, a couple of compilation cd’s from record companies I used to get for free at the local record store, and a random Dave Matthews Band disc that I found in a whole case that some bro had dropped in the university parking lot. Nothing that I still listen to.

If I had continued I would have popped in Lily Allen’s “Alright Still“.

Alright

Which is actually my favorite of the bunch…

(except for the Anthology. But that’s not nostalgia, that’s timeless.)

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Music and Art Monday: November 20th, 2017

I have been horribly lax with MAAM’s lately. Working and taking care of five little hooligans doesn’t leave much time for music or art appreciation. But Spotify reminded me that it’s Native American Heritage Month.

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Thanks Spotify

I was excited to see these playlists, as I got used to listening to KIYE while in Idaho this summer. This is probably the only station in the world to play pow-wow music, Marty Robbin’s “El Paso“, and an entire album of T-Pain, all in the same hour.

Sadly, when I clicked on the main playlist I was greeted with new aged flute music. While I understand this is certainly a genre produced by many Natives, it certainly didn’t satisfy my desire to hear the good stuff from KIYE. Some of the playlists were slightly better, but here is my version of a Native American Spotify Playlist:

Fawn Wood and Dallas Waskahat: One More Chance

This has some of that new agey flute in it, but I don’t care, I love the harmony.

Robbie Romero & Red Thunder: Ya Na Neh Yo

This is a bit of a rock song, in fact the whole album is pretty good.

Alex E Smith: Just For Old Time’s Sake

This is somewhat more “traditional” and what most people think of as Native music. Great harmonies.

Edmund Bull: Follow Your Dreams

Edmund Bull does a great blend of western country and chant that makes for a smooth and easy listen if you’re not used to some of the drums and dance circle music.

Northern Cree: She Was Gone

Pretty much anything by them. My favorite thing about them is their ability to place totally modern situations into round dance chants, like in “Facebook Drama”.

My eastern very white upbringing comes out on this one, I actually chuckled a little at the juxtaposition. Growing up on the politically correct East coast, we were taught to be anti-stereotypes to the point of being anti-culture. It was a jarring experience to come out West and see roadside stands selling beads and artworks and run by actual Natives, and even more jarring to hear them actually singing similarly to the “stereotypes” I had been taught to shun in school. Wasn’t this exploitive? Not that this describes all Natives, but the simple fact is that it is deeply intertwined into the culture.

On my very first trip to Northern Idaho in 2013 I actually had a crew boss tell us to turn off KIYE because he thought it might be considered “offensive” by some of the Native firefighter crews. Having worked with several Natives I can assure that crew boss that no, they are not offended.

If you are not stupid (i.e. disrespectful) about it, appreciating a culture for what it puts out on the public airwaves is not offensive at all. As long as you understand that there are in fact differences between tribes of different regions (for instance, teepees were a plains thing, not a SW thing) and don’t make stupid assumptions based on TV or movies you’re not generally going to make anyone mad.

Enough of that political sidetrack. Back to music. There is actually a pretty decent Playlist here of just powwow music. Look around Spotify or just tune in to KIYE or other similar stations online for some more great Native music.

Music and Arts Monday October 23, 2017

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Mo at home in his cigar shop Holy Smokes

It’s been a long time since I did a M&A Monday, so I thought I would start anew with a good one.

On Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting Holy Smokes Cigar and Pipe Shop during it’s weekly “Cigars and Guitars” night. It seems the turnout was a bit lower than normal, but that didn’t stop the shop’s owner Mo Leverett from treating us to a few of his songs.

I met Mo just before heading out on last year’s adventure to Arizona, and even from that brief meeting I knew I liked the man. Occasionally you meet someone who you just know has had an adventurous life, from his look, his manner, or his way with words. This is one of those men. That evening he told the men gathered at his shop  his testimony, and confirmed to me his interesting life. I remembered that much when walking in to Holy Smokes Friday night.

But I forgot about his music.

It’s not often that I get hooked on someone’s music from hearing a live performance of it,  possibly because I don’t get out that much, but largely because live music can often lack the quality and depth of music carefully manufactured in a studio. Mo proved to be one of the rare cases. His music almost begs to be performed live, just so he can pour his emotion into it time and time again.

So here’s my recommendation this week, go check out his videos on YouTube. In particular I really enjoy “Like Hell Inside“, “Florida“, “If You Know What I Mean“, “It’s Your Family”, and “His Claim To Fame“.

Then if you like what you hear, head on over to his site and purchase a CD or two. Or three.

You won’t be disappointed.

Why I Hate My Neighbor’s Rap Music

no crap

Someone out there is going to call me a racist for this, but to be honest, I hate the “music” my neighbors blare at random times of the week. It just so happens that my neighbors are black, and the “music” is rap.

But I’m not a racist. If you could label me anything it may be a “culturalist”. But I’m not opposed to “black culture” either. So I guess even a label like “culturalist” doesn’t fit.

Really, I just dislike any culture that denigrates any class of individual, whether they be white, black, rich, poor, male, or female. When your music contains words like “n*****”, “ho”, “b*****s”, and an abundance of the “f-word”, every other lyric, you might want to check your culture.

The over glorification of sexism, drug abuse, and violence is the sign of a dying culture.

Also, if you don’t want my children to be calling you certain racial terms, you probably shouldn’t blare them quite so loudly within 100 feet of my house.

It’s not a genre thing, my dislike of much of the music out there extends well beyond rap. I actually enjoy some rap, there are several good Reformed rappers out there who redeem the art form. It’s not the musical form, it’s the lyrics.

A fair amount of the country music out there is also junk. Rock has always been about
“sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll”. Top 40 pop rarely puts out a song that isn’t horrible. Not that pop has ever been as squeaky clean as it pretends to be, but at least back in the day they tried to use innuendo. Today it’s all about being as blatant and in your face as possible.

I know, I just sound like an old fuddy- duddy (does using that term make me one?). I need to get with the times and accept the fact that sex, drugs, and violence sell, and they sell very well. But to me, any form of “art” that reduces women into objects to be conquered should be considered anathema to a respectable culture’s ears. Any “art” that glorifies violence against others or turns self-abuse into a recreational past time should be put on the trash heap. That goes for all mediums, from music to tv to painting.

If the only thing we find entertaining is the degradation of others we need to wonder if our culture as a whole is dying. My neighbors need to seriously consider whether or not their culture is improving or crumbling around them.

I’m not seeing much improvement.

 

Music and Art Monday February 27th

Almost didn’t get one this week. We spent three days driving from VA to FL. THREE DAYS!

So, that was a lot of time to listen to music. This week I will recommend some driving music:

Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand

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This album doesn’t have any bad songs to drive to, just a constant beat of awesome. It helps that the lead singer sings in pretty much exactly my range.

Record in A Bag by Hollerado

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Another band I discovered in a truck in Idaho. A good mix of upbeat and slow stuff to keep you wide awake.

Sugar Man by Yolanda Be Cool

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Really anything by Yolanda Be Cool is good to drive to, but this remix of Rodriguez’s Sugar Man is the best in my opinion. Second best is Soul Mokossa (Money).

Stay Gold by First Aid Kit

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It’s hard to choose between this and The Lion’s Roar but this has more of a road trip feel right off the bat with “My Silver Lining”.

An Awesome Wave by alt-J

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Sometimes you just need something musically complex to keep you alert on the road. This album has enough ups and downs and strange sounds to keep any brain wondering where it’s going next.

Hope you enjoy these!

No art this week. I did not sit still long enough to browse through anything. O.O

 

 

Music and Art Monday, February 20th 2017

Well, I’m a little late this week. We’re in the process of moving so life has been a bit of a whirlwind.

Here are two short recommendations for this week:

Kopecky was a band I discovered while working as a road guard on a fire in Northern Idaho. There wasn’t much traffic but there was XM radio in the rental truck!

“Drug For The Modern Age ” is my favorite of the two albums I have heard by them. It has a pretty nifty 80’s vibe and I enjoy the vocals by both male and female singers. It’s not often that bands will switch up singers like that and have it work out well, in my humble opinion.

The two songs that get stuck in my head the most are “Quarterback” and “Better Luck Next Time”. Probably my least favorite is the title track. But they are all good for hanging out or driving, so check them out next time you need something just a little bit different.

For my art this week, I recommend you check out The Feast of St.John by Jules Adolphe Breton.

There aren’t too many copies of it floating around the internet, though I believe if you dig long enough you’ll find it in Gandalf’s Gallery.  I won’t talk too much about it but I will say I liked it so much that it inspired me to make a horrible version of my own:

::Shutters::

Those were my early days. I’d like to think that I would do better next time.

Well, that’s it for this week. Hopefully next week I will be sitting still long enough to write something better.

Music and Art Monday: February 6

Last week I discussed my musical past. This week I will address my art past.

Visual arts weren’t prolific in our home. Not like music was anyway. I can’t think of any art books lying around or even any major painter’s works on our walls.

When I was in 7th grade, Van Gogh came to the National Gallery of Art in DC. To be honest I had never actually seen a work by Van Gogh, but my friend Steve said he was his favorite, so of course I had to agree. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I did like it. So for awhile Van Gogh was my favorite artist. This was mostly a matter of not knowing any other artists.

Also in 7th grade we received a visit from Holocaust survivor Mark Strauss . He talked about his experience in the Warsaw Ghetto and displayed some of his works. This was my first introduction to art as political commentary. This was the painting of his that I purchased a print of:

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Final Days in Ghetto

I took a semester of art also in 7th grade. It was probably one of the worst classes I had. I didn’t have a natural talent for much of it, and my teacher wasn’t exactly helpful in molding skill. She critiqued me into giving up all drawing except for some very violent MSPaint works I did for Latin class in high school:

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Advertisements in a Latin “newspaper”. This would probably get me kicked out today.

After these brief exposures to art in middle school I did not get much more exposure to visual art until college. For my first semester I had to take an elective and I took the one everyone took, “Creativity and Aesthetic Experience”. This class had three components, one for theater, one for music, and one for visual art. I can’t say the sculptor we had to check out was very good, but the play we had to watch was something else!

I started getting into photography at that time, mostly because my brother was and I had to mimic. One of my favorite projects was for my English class, I went around town and took photos from certain vantage points and compared them to past photos. Sadly none of those are on my computer.

After college I got into digital photo manipulation, taking pictures and making them into something more interesting. I started a Flickr page and started posting stuff in the hopes someone would see them and perhaps offer me money for them. Alas, that did not happen, but it didn’t stop me from continuing.

city
City

My photography eventually got me thinking “I’d really like to try painting”. It seems that middle school art class hadn’t scarred me too badly. I told Nicole this desire and she surprised me with an acrylic paint set for Christmas. So I started painting. And when you start painting, you start to appreciate other painters.

Of course I started with Van Gogh, which is pretty much a style to himself. Then I pretty much went everywhere. My personal favorites right now are Matisse and the Fauvists, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, and Lucas Cranach the Elder. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep a good dialog going with these artists and styles.

If not you’ll probably be seeing a lot of my paintings on this page.