Monday, June 14, 2010

6/15 Tuesday Musings - Born in the USA, Marissa Tomei, Israel Sendoff at Rockwood, Crazy Heart, Hoo-ha!

Umbrellas work better than ponchos...

Hey folks, here are a few thoughts this week:

- I saw "Memphis" won best musical, which I thought was a major bummer because the second act was as good as....well, it was bad. Very, very bad. Any mass commercial statement about rock n roll is bound to not be very rock n roll. That's the problem when the establishment embraces a rebellious movement. Didn't say "Fela!" yet, but I'm sure it's badass.

- Playing with famed cellist Ward Ward Williams for a special piano-string set Wednesday night for the monthly series "Songwriter's Beat" with Val Ghent. It's great to revisit those One Way string arrangements I wrote over 2 years ago, which I rarely get to do. 8:30 Wed @ Cornelia Street Cafe. Facebook Event Page

- Upstairs in an unsuspecting building in Alphabet City, I discovered through my buddy Steve Alleyne a state-of-the-art recording studio called Flux Studios (check out their client list), which was hosting a live recorded concert series featuring some friends last Tuesday, Casey Shea and Wes Hutchinson. Their rooftop was hella cool.

- Friday night at Bar 4 in Park Slope, home to the singer-songwriters collective Local Correspondents, we all covered each other. We did this maneuver back when I hosted the series "A Case of the Mondays with Danny Ross" in 2009. But this time around I covered Debbie Miller's "Tippy Toe," which was a dead serious folk interpretation to contrast Debbie's witty and humorous commentary on pursuing a relationship. (I need to start filming these things)

- Finally got around to seeing "Crazy Heart," which I thought was crazy good. I assumed Jeff Bridges' performance would be great, but that the movie, helmed by a first-time actor turned director, wouldn't be memorable. I was wrong. For a movie about music, it had a very quiet undertone that allowed you to pick up on the character's subtle flaws. After 2 hours, you can't help but want to spend more time with this guy and hear more of his songs, which were all great btw (Damn you T Bone Burnett!). Nice job Collin Farrell playing a country superstar btw.

- My neck hurts from staring at the screen all day, and then wearing a backpack everywhere else. I need more ergonomic-friendly devices in my life.

- Still in the grips of my 700 page Bruce Springsteen biography. Something I'm remembering from studying him is to sing every song, play every show, live every moment like your life depends on it. Of course that's hard to do when you have a comfortable dayjob, come from a comfortable background, and you're life literally doesn't depend on it. Finding that urgency is hard with a safety net, but I'm determined to do it.

- I had been avoiding "Born in the USA," because it was the point where Bruce went from young, hip rockstar with romantic visions of America and rock n roll (ie "Born to Run") to the world's favorite working class hero gone synth-crazy in the Reagan era. I think my fears were justified by this video or this video. However, whether addressing hometown nostalgia or the average American joe, the songs are just so damn good. Absolutely lovin it.

- Also loving the song "Guitar Town" by Steve Earle. The lyrics are a grand slam. Check it out.

- Went with Dani to the premiere of the new movie "Cyrus" at BAM. With Marissa Tomei (lookin goooood), John C Reilly and the directors the Duplass brothers. I hadn't seen any of their "mumblecore"movies, "The Puffy Chair" and "Baghead," but I fell in love with this one. Again a quiet, realistic, hilarious vision of a relationship between a man, a woman, and her son. The acting was great, go see it.

- I spent Saturday afternoon in Propect Heights with my British friend Ste watching the World Cup game. They closed down Vanderbilt Street and had a street fair with a giant inflatable television. Great game, and hilarious hearing people making discriminatory remarks about King George. Way to bring back some good old fashioned American Revolution humor.

- Hoo-ha. Was also fortunate enough to attend Shakespeare in the Park premiere Saturday night, featuring Al Pacino in "The Merchant of Venice." The show was insanely good and the acting was instense. The characters were obviously anti-semetic, but we had a large discussion on whether or not Shakespeare and the play itself is anti-semetic. I argued no and point to this article. Anyone know more about this? Also Chevy Chase was there, being hammy and hilarious, like he is in the way underrated show "Community." I would like to read more Shakespeare, but it's so hard to pursue these intellectual extra-curricular activities when you're pushing a career.

- Here's a great show I'm going to Sunday night after Father's Day celebrations hosted by Jimmy Lloyd, famous for his television show on songwriters. Come join me at the Highline.

- I'm preparing for my Birthright trip to Israel next week. I'll be blogging the whole thing, but help me celebrate for a big farewell show Friday night 11 at Rockwood. My friend Mira Stroika will strike up the mood by joining the band with her beautiful singing and accordian playing. Facebook Event Page

Monday, June 7, 2010

6/7 Weekend Roundup

Here are a few thoughts from the weekend:

- Watched "West Side Story" for the first time. Thought everything about it was amazing - I expected the music and dancing to be great but was surprised how killing the directing and cinematography was. However I don't buy how quickly Maria forgives Tony for killing her brother - I mean what the hell? She didn't care at all. She's a terrible sister.

- Thanks to everyone for selling out our first show at Mercury Lounge! There were 100 people there. Hopefully this leads to bigger and better shows. Playing Rockwood next Friday 6/18 11pm.

- Caught friends Dan Hodapp and Ben Mauk as part of the group Reverse 5 give a hilarious improv show Saturday night. Then ran to see "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" at the Public Theatre. It was a retelling of Andrew Jackson's life through shitty emo music. Hilarious, go see it before it closes.

- Mexican brunch, how do you do it?

- Caught a performance of Twelfth Night and forced myself to pay close attention through the 2 hours. It made me realize how hard it is for me normally to sit still. Can I blame the digital age?

- Got heavy into Paul Simon this week - "Ryhthm of the Saints" and "Paul Simon." That guy manages to be poetic, earnest, musical and unique in everything he does. I'm jealous. Really enjoyed the first Antony and the Johnsons album. His vibrato voice stands out so much, but I was finally able to appreciate the songwriting and production. Also listened to more live Bruce albums, trying to study his stage techniques. The guy's rediculous.

- Music nerds: Having trouble understanding the need for species counterpoint exercises. So many rules, can't I just write harmonies by ear?

- We saw a lifesize Winnie the Pooh costume at a yardsale. I truly regret not getting it.

- Aziz Ansari is the man. Matt Damon is cooler than he's given credit for.

- My friend John took me to a Catholic Mass at St. Paul's Cathedral on the Upper West Side. Beautiful place and beautiful service.

- I'm heading to Israel for Birthright in 2 weeks. In case you were wondering, I am indeed a member of the ancient Cohenim tribe, aka direct decsendent of Moses brother, Aaron and perhaps... Jesus? Booya.