Sunday, March 27
attend closing day of "Silk Road" exhibit at University of Pennsylvania Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology.
This exhibit was cut short because of controversy over exhibiting natural mummies buried some 4000 years ago in the Tarim Basin of China who were obviously not of Far East Asian stock and accompanied by distinctly European artifacts. This fuels calls for autonomy by the ethnic groups currently occupying the area.
In fact Chinese authorities were looking to recall the exhibit before it hit Philly but as it had been organized by a U. of PA faculty member in the first place, that member got them to allow it to reach Philly, tho only for a severely abbreviated run.
As the exhibit mainly consisted of grave goods - clothing and some figurines - it was visually striking but not too instructive. I did get a hoot out of the grave markers which were labelled: phalluses and vulvas - the "vulvas" looking like huge boat paddles. Hmmm
Thursday, March 31
Cut Copy at the Trocadero.
Amy loves this Australian band. Catchy, stroppy dance rock ala vintage mersh New Order et al. The show was sold out -- giving the lie to OMD who passed over Philly saying it was "Dead, like Detroit." Well I guess dead to old has-beens! HAR.
The audience went wild and the dance floor was packed and in furious motion. Reading the "Dance of Days" book I think this is what Ian MacKaye was hoping to see at Fugazi shows.
Saturday, April 2
meeting with Shayna and the Catch at Yaffa Cafe, East Village, NYC
Very cool, eclectic Brooklyn based band. Perhaps a 21st century analogue to Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians. Catchy, smart, with a swinging, acoustic sound inculcating influences from jazz, folk, pop. Lead singer Shayna Zaid has a great dusky voice and amazing stage presence. Really knows how to sell a song. Was a child star in Thailand.
meeting with Mia Doi Todd at 7A. But that was packed so we went over to Tompkins Square Park, watched the inhabitants barfing and peeing in garbage cans. Went to some coffee shop on St. Marks that mixed Nutella into the hot chocolate. Of course I LOVE Mia. One of the finest, most sensually pleasing writers and performers I've ever encountered. her last record "pop" record, Gea, opened with a song that evoked Nick Drake like NOTHING I've ever heard before. The new one "Cosmic Ocean Ship" really sounds like some long lost gem produced by Joe Boyd in 1968. Just breathtaking.
mike watt at the NorthStar Bar, Philly
watt is easily the most respected and beloved figure in American punk. Well, Ian MacKaye's up there too! He's out touring his third opera "hypenated-man" with a great band comprising ex Slovenly guitarist Tom Watson and local Pedro drummer Raul Morales. Fierce but sweet shit. watt allowed his writing to be informed by the example of his old group the minutemen on this one. Short, pithy but oddly catchy little songs. All referencing particular figures in the paintings of Hieronymous Bosch! That's watt for ye.
Sunday April 3
Reunion of my old college band, Bad Taste and the Crabs (sounded cool in 1973!) in Maplewood NY. The drummer's day gig is at Harvard; the lead singer's a lefty union lawyer. We caught up on 35 years' worth of old times, had some lovely cold "sloppy joe" sandwiches (beef, turkey, cold slaw and Russian dressing - with crust cut off the bread) and then tried to make some music. We largely played around with the singer's repertoire -- and he still performs at rallies, strikes etc with his Solidarity Singers. So lotsa Joe Hill and old school labor rally songs and some Dylan. Started out tentative but when he lit into "Halleluja I'm a Bum" it got me to test out the pipes and add a harmony and honestly, it started to catch fire at that point.
Monday April 4
starting watching DVD set of "Treme." I love this series and note more and more places depicted we've hung out at (the Bacchanal!). Still love it but LORDY the Special Features pretty thin. The textual "Music Commentary" basically is a pop up box that lists song titles SOMETIMES and then one of the artists who'd recorded said song in the past. So some cat plays a Jelly Roll Morton song and the screen lists "New Orleans Blues" and "Tom McDermott", the cat performing; no mention of Jelly Roll. Then the audio commentary -- for that seen they say, "Yeah, Jelly Roll Morton." As if folks these days know who exactly that is, or what his importance is to New Orleans music and the initiation of the jazz process. OY! If you're looking for great commentary than NOLA.com has posted DETAILED running commentary on the music, locales and historical figures alluded to in the series.
Wednesday, April 6
meeting singer Arrica Rose at the Vig on Spring Street, NYC for drinks
meeting Don Fleming (producer, Velvet Monkey, Gumball mainstay, label owner, staffer at Alan Lomax Archives) at Bowery Ballroom where WIRE are performing. OH YEAH!
and it only gets busier.