Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sometimes You Need A Change Of Pace

This past Sunday my wife and I took our son with us to visit an elderly couple from our church that we hadn't seen for some time. They go to a different ward than we do now so we don't get to see them that often. They're at least in their later 80s if not older and recently welcomed a great, great grandchild to their family. My wife stayed with them for a few months when she first moved to Tulsa and she likes to check on them from time to time but as of late we weren't very lucky in trying to catch them at home.

Both my wife and I have been feeling stressed out and out of sorts so it was nice to sit with them and catch up. They have three small dogs and one of them named Tarapoto came to me and laid on me almost the entire time we were there. There's something about me that most cats and dogs pick up on and usually are drawn to. They can sense that I will hold and pet them basically as long as they like. Well Tarapoto stayed with me and I gave him attention almost nonstop and he was in heaven. It made for a very relaxing, tranquil time for me and according to my wife it recharged her batteries. She commented that the spirit is very strong in their house and I agree with her.

At a time when so many things are pulling us in different directions something like this visit helped to center us and bring us back to where we should be. It's difficult with the two of us working different shifts, taking care of our son with no family in the area and trying to progress as people and as a family. It's easy to fall into bad habits and not take the time to communicate with each other but so much harder to put in the work that a relationship requires.

I'm glad we were able to learn a valuable lesson and slow down our pace, visit people who we care about and who care about us and just relax. We need to do more of it more often. That's the trick of course, making the time to do what's really needed instead of spending it how we think it's needed. Hopefully we'll take this lesson to heart.

Alejandro Escovedo at The Cain's Ballroom 8/30/2010

My wife and I were lucky enough to see Alejandro Escovedo and The Sensitive Boys this past Monday at The Cains Ballroom 2nd stage on the last night of their current tour which lasted about 3 1/2 weeks. This was my third time seeing Al and my wife's first time. We got there with enough time to get a seat and then opener Amy Cook took the stage. Right off the bat her microphone wasn't working so while it was getting fixed she came out and stood in front of the audience and did an acoustic Bob Dylan cover. Once her mike was fixed she took the stage with her band and proceeded to surprise me. I had heard some of her songs and decided that I wasn't interested but I have to say that those songs sounded so different when performed. There was some element missing that showed up live. She and her band showed that they really cared about the music they were playing.

Once Al hit the stage it was clear that it was going to be a special night. He played against guitarist David Pulkingham musically and the entire band displayed an intensity that most artists never reach. It was an amazing show! It's very unusual in today's world to see a band perform music that they pour their heart and soul into on a nightly basis. The songs were written on a very personal level and once preformed live they become living, breathing things. They change and grow constantly depending upon the mood of Al and the band. Sometime they are slower, sometimes faster, sometimes different instruments are used, whatever feels right at the time.

The wife first moved over to stand by the left side of the stage with a few other people because she couldn't stay seated once Al started playing. I joined her there and it was apparent that more and more people would be drawn to the front of the stage instead of staying in their seats. It was a wonderful opportunity to take some good pictures but unfortunately I'm having issues with my camera connecting to my computer. For now I have to use the pictures I took with my cellphone.

Al played for almost two hours and he left it all on the stage. I don't think he could have managed another song because he had already put his body and soul into every moment of every song and was more than likely emotionally drained. During the first song of the encore, a slowed down cover of Mott The Hoople's "I Wish I Was Your Mother" that was performed by Al and David the mood was so intense and personal that the lady behind me was crying. That's the kind of night it was.

It would have been nice to hear "Five Hearts Breaking" and my wife would have liked him to have played "The Ballad of the Sun and the Moon" but honestly when you have put out as much music as Al has it's hard to perform every song that every fan wants to hear. Especially since he likes to play a lot of his newer music. He played at least six songs from his latest CD, Street Songs of Love and three or four from the previous one, Real Animal. Honestly, whatever AL wants to play is fine with me, I'll listen to any and all of it.

If you ever get the opportunity I advice you to jump at the chance and go see Alejandro Escovedo in whatever form he is playing. He's well worth the money. I don't think I'll have any problem convincing the wife in the future to see him again, no matter where he's playing. He's that good.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Official Trailer For The Movie "Suck"

Let's see, a struggling band gets turned into vampires and success ensues. It stars Malcolm McDowell, Dave Foley, Henry Rollins, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Moby, Alex Lifeson (here's my Rush tie-in) and more. Since I like a good comedy and a good vampire movie as much as the next guy I'm sure I'll have to take this one in whenever it makes it's way around here. The hype out there now is that it has all the markings of a potential cult classic so we'll have to stay tuned to see what comes of it.

More Alejandro Ecovedo Live at Waterloo Records

I can't help it, I have to keep posting videos of Al playing live. The man is just an amazing songwriter and performer and thankfully I will get to see him for the third time on Monday at the Cains Ballroom herre in Tulsa. This will be the first time my wife has seen him (assuming she's not pissed at me and ditches me) so I'm betting that she'll be very impressed with his performance. Check back on Tuesday for a show review.

South Park Facebook

I haven't kept up with South Park in a long time but I came across this video and it just seems so right. Too many people get caught up in a numbers competition and don't really take the time to try to connect with people they know or used to know which is the actual purpose of sites like Facebook. As per my earlier post I did finally give in and get a Facebook page but for now thankfully I haven't gone crazy with it. For now. We'll see what the future holds in store for me though.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Papashanty SaundSystem - Wo Noo Nooo

Lately it seems that I find a lot of music from listening to podcasts and this one certainly falls into that category. Papashanty Saundsystem is a reggae/hip hop/freestyle band that comes from Venezuela and you can find them on Facebook and Myspace but unfortunately when I tried to go to their website it seems that it no longer exists so I didn't find a great deal of information on them. They employ a full band and I believe 3 rappers/vocalists. On this song they are using the song "One Step Beyond" from Madness as the basis for this 2 Tone ska sound. Of course they add their own flavor rapping in the song but overall it's very infectious and gets the blood pumping and is done quite well.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Jolly Boys - Rehab

As I am trying to get back into the swing of things and be fully recovered from being sick I came across this video from The Jolly Boys, a mento group that originally formed in Port Antonio Jamaica all the way back in 1955. That's right, 1955. They are still based in Port Antonio and are the house band for the hotel GeeJam. A co-owner (Jon Baker) of GeeJam decided to co-produce an album of rock cover songs done in a modern mento style and it is due out sometime later this year. This particular song was done by Amy Winehouse originally. I'm not much of a fan of hers but I think this song accompanied by the video really shows a very different element than her original. The Jolly Boys have clearly lived long, eventful lives and singer Albert Minott draws upon this life to give the song it an extra, added meaning. After the album comes out they will be doing an international tour and head into uncharted waters for the band. Sometimes huge success can take a lifetime but can be worth the wait if you are worthy, and by the looks of this video The Jolly Boys certainly are.

Official Band:
Albert Minott (lead vocals)
Joseph “Powda” Bennett (vocals, maracas)
Derrick “Johnny” Henry (rumba box)
Allan Swymmer (percussion)
Egbert Watson (banjo)

Touring members:
Dale Virgo (percussion)
Donald Waugh (banjo)
Lenford “Brutus” Richards (guitar)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Moon Ska Videos

I haven't posted a whole lot this month but I do have an excuse of sorts. The wife and I both have been sick and are just now starting to feel better. We're not 100% yet but we're getting there. Anyway, I've had this song running in my head since yesterday and I've learned that when this happens to go with it.

I actually saw Isaac Green & The Skalars at the Penn State Ska Fest sometime around 1997 or 1998 when they were one of the bands playing before ska legend Laurel Aitken. As a matter of fact, I even got an I.D. from their lovely singer Jessica Butler for my ska/reggae show. Ah, the old days.

While I'm at it I thought I'd add a few other videos from the "old days" when Monn Ska put out a lot of music and then a videotape (ask your parents what that means) of various music videos of bands on their label. What follows are just a few of them and by the way, I saw all of these bands at one point or another.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Think For Yourself My Son

This past weekend my wife and I bought back to school items for our son who is going to a pre-school and it’s the first time for us. Even though it wasn’t very much in quantity I was able to get him a Star Wars folder and a Star Wars notebook and almost got him a Star Wars lunch bag but instead ended up getting him an old school looking metal lunch box from Cars. My wife accused me of pushing Star Wars on him and she’s right of course. A father’s gotta do what a father’s gotta do.

Now, I’m not stupid enough to believe that I will always be able to make my child dislike everything that I think is bad, poorly made or just plain old ridiculous crap. It’s not very sensible to think that he’ll never like any soulless music or any pandering drivel that’s only aim is to take dollars out of our pockets. I know that at least for a little bit of time it’s inevitable. No matter how much I play good music like Alejandro Escovedo, Rush, Satelite Kingston or Grupo Fantasma he will be exposed to something that will be designed to draw young ears to it but will have not one ounce of originality or heart to it. No matter how much I try to teach him to think for himself I know he’ll follow some trends and just do what’s popular. That’s the way it is.

The good news though is that if I do my job as a parent right then maybe that period of following trends will be mercifully short and it won’t take long for him to realize that there’s more to life out there than what’s being force-fed down our throats on TV, movies and radio. After all, I don’t want to raise him to like what I do just because I like it. He should learn how to think for himself and not be afraid to stand up for what he believes in and learn how to tell what’s good from what’s not. It takes time to learn what you really like in life but I think if you learn how to be yourself then the rest will come naturally. Of course what do I know? I’m just a guy trying to do right by my family and praying that I don’t do anything to mess my kid up. But then again, haven’t most of us thought that at one time or another? Thinking for yourself is about the most important thing I think I can ever try to teach my son.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I finally gave in................

Yeah, that's right. I finally gave in and joined that evil, world conquering force known as Facebook. Much like everything in life I held out as long as I could before succumbing to it's allure. Now of course I've found several old friends so it's been good. Only time will tell if Facebook gets subplanted by something even more all encompassing but I'm betting it will within the next 2-3 years. That's how it goes. I would have had a story to put here but my computer at work froze up and after restarting it 4 times I gave up. Perhaps tomorrow I can retrieve it if autosave worked properly.

Los Hamptons meet Satelite Kingston

Here's a video taken in a studio in 2009 where Satelite Kingston and another Argentinean group, Los Hamptons, got together to make some music. They're covering a Bob Marley classic "Hammer." I've got no other info, just wanted to post it here because it sounds nice and I like it.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Cholizo Salvaje - Music from Chile

Translated from Spanish Cholizo Salvaje means Wild Sausage. I'm not sure what that means but hey, I'll go with it. The band hails from the southern tip of Chile and combines many different musical influences such as cumbia, reggae, ska, Peruvian, Cuban, Folk, Rock and many, many more all mixed together to become a very unique group. They want to become famous or popular but by doing it the right way, staying true to their beliefs and roots. They very much believe in social commitments as well as bringing people together from varied classes, creeds and races.

Their music is like nothing I've ever heard before and is quite wonderful to listen to. If you're so inclined it will get you moving before you even realize it. I found their album Cumbia Chorizo online somewhere and it's quickly becoming a favorite. Check them out.


Natalia Alvarez (La Joya) - Guitar and Voice
Mauricio Molina (Guata) – Huiro y Voz Mauricio Molina (Wadding) - Huiro and Voice
Alejandro Nuñez (Chico Ale) – Percusión Alejandro Nuñez (Chico Ale) - Percussion
Salvador Flores (Salva) – Percusión Flores Salvador (Salva) - Percussion
Pablo Vega – Percusión Pablo Vega - Percussion
Diego Fuentes – Bajo Diego Fuentes - Bass
Heraldo Barrera (Laly) – Trompeta Heraldo Barrera (Laly) - Trumpet
Victor Maldonado (Saxo) – Saxo Victor Maldonado (Sax) - Saxo
Lenin Campos – Trompeta y Representante Lenin Campos - trumpet and Representative

Thursday, August 5, 2010

For The Good Of All

Lately I have been doing a lot of thinking that was partly spurred on by my niece going to Africa on a mission. No, I’m not talking about a Blues Brothers kind of mission. She has a college scholarship through her church that requires her to go on a month long mission every summer. The first year she went to Honduras and last year I believe she went to Germany. This year she is in Zambia, Africa and is working at an orphanage in a small town. Her flight touched down in Johannesburg, South Africa the day after the World Cup final match and the next day she flew on a puddle hopper to Zambia and then took a bus to the town that she will be staying in and now she is more than halfway through her time there. Personally I am quite proud of her for going all over the world to help out in whatever small way she can. She could have easily bowed out and declined the scholarship once she found out the conditions but instead she embraced the challenge of experiencing different cultures and people which a lot of young people will no longer attempt to do these days.

As I thought about that I also thought about a young employee at my job that recently graduated from Tulsa University and has decided that before he settles down into his profession of choice he wants to go to South Korea for a year to teach English. After that initial year he may even go to Argentina for an additional year. His case isn’t necessarily as altruistic as my nieces is but still, the idea of doing something like this at such a young age intrigues me and has had me wondering if I could have done something like this back in the day. I mean, you get to really learn about a culture incredibly different than your own and not in the false touristy kind of way where you never really connect with people on an individual basis.

Sure, I’ve seen different countries and different cultures but that was mostly when I was in the Army and although the slogan always said it wasn’t just a job but an adventure it was usually the other way around. For some reason I feel that it’s not the same but I really have no realistic idea why. I mean, in Germany although I did go to some castles and such I also would go to restaurants, record stores and so forth and try to interact with people. When I went to Spain for a week I have to admit that it was a tourist place and there wasn’t much of an attempt to see the “real” Spain but at least I can say I went there. During the first Gulf War in Saudi Arabia I had a handful of experiences with refugees and workers from other countries (as well as a very brief meeting with 2 Iraqi prisoners of war at a field hospital) but I can’t say I got to know them at all. Then two years ago I was able to go with my wife and our son to her native country of Peru where I did get to meet and interact with people in a real life setting which was very cool.

Regardless of why or where I’ve gone I always attempt to understand that foreign countries are just different and that I can’t compare them to where I am from or what I am used to. I feel that you just have to accept them for the way they are and enjoy the experience. Otherwise, why go in the first place? It seems to me to be pretty silly to go to a foreign country and then only try to be around people from your country that speak your language. For instance, a few years back while mindlessly flipping through tv channels I came across one of those “Judge” shows on which an older couple was suing their travel agent because they didn’t have a good time on their trip to Mexico even though they ignored her advice and told her to book them at a specific resort. One of their prime complaints was that while there they came in contact with too many Mexicans………………… I mean, really? You don’t want to see or hear people from that country? That’s one of the great problems with people from my country. They want to go to foreign lands and see many wondrous and beautiful things but only if the people there can speak English to them and have things done in the (North) American way.

Ah well, since I’ve strayed from my original thoughts I guess it’s as good a time as any to end this meandering and go to bed for the night. Before I know it my son will be waking me up but at least I can go to bed dreaming that perhaps he can one day do good things and learn to accept people and cultures for what they are, not where they are.

Shiina Ringo & The Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra

I just heard this song on the El Inspector podcast which strikes me as strange how such a fantastic song can take me so long to hear it. I mean it only came out in 2001. Since Shiina Ringo is Japanese and sings in her native language I guess I'll cut myself some slack. At any rate, this is a very fast ska song but oh so much more. If you carefully listen to what's going on you will probably be as amazed as I was. This first video is the original version that she did with the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and the 2nd appears to be from a concert of hers which does not have the horn section of the original playing so it is subtly different. I can't vouch for any of her other music but this song in particular just blows me away. So remember, you can find great music listening to podcasts, it's out there.