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Admiral Ackbar's blog: "music stuff"

created on 10/02/2008  |  http://fubar.com/music-stuff/b249591

Saw them in London last night.  Just about the happiest gig of my life.  I was grinning fit to burst the whole time.  I didn't even mind we had to leave early to get the last train back to Norwich.  It was too happy to be sad about leaving :D

Come On Up To The House - Tom Waits

High, Wide And Handsome - Loudon Wainwright III

Down To The River To Pray - Alison Krauss

Take Care Of All Of My Children - Tom Waits


Is four songs too many to have picked out for your funeral?

You know who's a good band? The National.  They had a song called 'Lit Up' which I'm listening to right now.  And it kicks ass.

I was lucky enough to see Lhasa perform as part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival a couple of years ago.  It was a rare English appearance for an artist not widely known here, and the show blew me away.  Emotionally, I left the gig feeling I'd wasted my life not listening to her music, it made so much of my collection at the time seem... empty, worthless.  A heady mix of Latin-American, Mexican, Klezmer, Eastern European folk, Middle Eastern music amongst others, she simply defied characterisation.  The audience were spellbound, and when I tried to get my hands on some of her music the next day, there wasn't a record shop in Norwich that hadn't been bombarded with enquiries.  It was nothing short of a defining moment for me, musically, and one destined not to be repeated.

It's a mark of how little she's known in this country that it's taken me a month to stumble onto the fact that Lhasa De Sala died on New Year's Day this year after a 21 month battle with breast cancer.  She was 37.

I wrote a blog today about a book my mate Dave gave me for Christmas, and it got me thinking about all the cool stuff Dave's got me into over the years.

One thing in particular came to mind, and that was a taped copy of an album called 'Strange Sounds From The Basement' by Colorblind James and The Death Valley Boys that Dave pressed into my eager hands when we at University together, over fifteen years ago.  Ostensibly a kinda country-ish American roots deal, it was full of these great songs, very funny but not in a "comedy record" kinda way.  I liked it a lot, but their music ain't all that easy to come by over here (internet notwithstanding, I guess, but this was obviously not relevant at the time).  I particularly liked the songs 'Don't Be So Hard On Yourself', and 'Jesus At The Still'.  I guess he must have put a copy of their first album on the other side, cos I also liked some stuff that I now know was from that, including 'Considering A Move To Memphis' and 'First Day Of Spring' with its fantastic chorus "She's a WITCH! You were gonna marry that girl! She's probl'y been around for a thousand years.." which helped me through many a break-up.

Chuck 'Colorblind James' Cuminale died prematurely and unexpectedly of a heart attack in 2001.  I'm hoping somewhere at home I still have that cassette.

From the Prairie Home Companion weekly email :


In Select Theaters One Night Only: FEBRUARY 4

A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor Live in HD!


Please join us next Thursday - February 4, 2010 - for a special Thursday evening edition of A Prairie Home Companion coming to you live from the Fitzgerald Theater, and beamed into your local movie theater.

Featuring legendary English singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, sibling vocal powerhouses Jearlyn and Jevetta Steele, songstress Heather Masse and the finest folk duo around, Robin and Linda Williams. Also with us, The Royal Academy of Radio Actors; Sue Scott and Tim Russell, with both Tom Keith AND Fred Newman creating sound effects mayhem. All this, plus a punched-up Guy's All-Star Shoe Band, and of course, The News from Lake Wobegon. Show up 30 minutes before show time for an exclusive presentation and live feed before launching into two hours of non-stop fun on the big screen.


I don't have a link for you, you could probably google it, or something.

So I have a bit of a thing for female vocalists, especially of the singer-songwriter variety, and I've been lucky to see a number of great acts at our local Arts Centre - Erin McKeown, Kimya Dawson, Nina Nastasia, Thea Gilmore, Jill Barber, Piney Gir, Mor Kabasi, Isobel Campbell, to name a handful... And I would put last night's Laura Veirs gig on a par with any of those.  I'd only heard a couple of songs of hers prior, it's not like I've been a fan, but she was a name I kept seeing pop up, and was keen to hear more, so when the gig came up I thought I'd take a chance, and I'm so glad I did.

The two support acts, Old Believers and Cataldo, both turned out to be solo incarnations of larger bands, and doubled up as Veirs' backing too.  Both were excellent, and if you like young men singing gentle acoustic songs about feelings and stuff, delivered high quality versions thereof.  I leaned more towards Old Believers, simply because it was a little less polished, and therefore a little more fun, but as I say, both were great.

Veirs' set was amazing.  Just the four of them, and a mix of guitar, banjo, keyboards, percussion and violin, doing material largely from her new album 'July Flame'.  Folk-based, but with the definite air of someone who started out writing simple folky stuff on an acoustic guitar but who, by their seventh album, is really starting to explore other avenues, and new sounds.  I'm not all that great at describing music, so, you know, google her or something.  But it was a captivating set that kept the audience (one of the largest I've seen in the Arts Centre) spellbound the whole way through.  And definitely made at least one solid convert.

Happy today, I was able to get tickets for Laura Veirs, and Moishe's Bagel at the Arts Centre in Norwich.  Good times, I hopes.

It was a good lunchtime, cos I also saw local newsreader Mike Liggins in town talking on his phone.  What a brush with fame, eh readers?

Tasting the tears
That run down the gutter two teeth make
Tears in route
Running a groove in your cheek

Waterfalls leave smooth rocks
When the river dries up
You can determine where a river once was
Just by examining rocks

Your face never forgets a cry
Like trace remnants of acid in your spine

The erosion cries cause
Make whiskers prematurely sprout in men
And in women
Homogenize complexion
Diluting pigment
Until the whole face is washed with a slight mascara tint

Your face never forgets a cry
Like trace remnants of acid in your spine

- 'Waterfalls' by Why?

i'm not who, with my eyes from stage, i claim to be,
i've only cradled death in my own ending,
flesh from far off and abstracted lit
candle wick flickering

and when a thing starts finishing around me,
i faint or fake a moustache, an accent, or flee,
in fear my expired license be pulled by sheer proximity

fact: the poseur in the bowler gets shot first,
thinks he's the shit cause he can spit and curse,
actin' brash and flashin' a pistol that squirts,
scowling, and shouting, "shall we dance?"

should our heroes hands be holding this blackest purse?
mom, am i failing or worse?
mom, am i failing?
what should these earnest hands be holding?

still sportin' my ex-girlfriend's dead ex-boyfriend's boxers,
i wanna operate from a base of hunger,
no longer be ashamed and hide my
tears in shower water while i lather for pleasure

i wanna speak at an intimate decibel
with the precision of an infinite decimal,
to listen up and send back a true echo
of something forever felt but never heard
i want that sharpened steel of truth in every word

the small fry in the bow tie dies first,
acting wild like the spirit of god moving after church,
faking he's hard like he's packed down dirt,
already, and yelling, "be my guest"

should our heroes hands be holding this blackest purse?
mom, am i failing or worse?
mom, am i failing?
what should these earnest hands be holding?

should our heroes hands be holding this blackest purse?
mom, am i failing or worse?
mom, am i failing?
what should these earnest hands be holding?

- 'This Blackest Purse' by Why?

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