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Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

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… With your majestic and superior cackling hen 
Your people I do not understand, 
So to you I shall put an end 
And you’ll never hear surf music again

–Jimi Hendrix, Third Rock From the Sun

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It’s said that that the final line from the spoken word section of Jimi Hendrix’s Third Rock From the Sun in 1967 was a response to hearing that Dick Dale, the King of Surf Guitar, was gravely ill with colon cancer. Well, Dick Dale got past that dangerous episode and continued his reign for another 50+ years, passing away yesterday at the age of 81.

His background hardly pointed to his rise as the King of Surf Guitar. Born in Boston, Dale (the name he adopted for the stage– his real name was Monsour) was of Lebanese descent and was raised playing Middle Eastern instruments which provided the basis for his style of playing. You can really hear it in his most popular song, Misirlou. It was revived with its prominence in the film Pulp Fiction.

Dale had a great run promoting himself as the King of Surf Guitar through the years, even as surf music faded into a its niche as a nostalgic reminder of its popularity in the early 1960’s. But Misirlou had staying power beyond nostalgia. It’s just good stuff that can still get people on their feet.

So, here’s to you Dick Dale. Your music will live on. Here’s a performance of Misirlou from Dick Dale in 1995.

 

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A Little Frida

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Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.

–Frida Kahlo
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I have been wanting to feature Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) for some time now. Her work is a unique and deeply personal voice in the world of art, one that touches on her identity as a Mexican, as a woman and as a political being. Her body of work might well be the the most overtly biographical collection done by an artist. Her famed self portraits make up about a third of her output.
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I have no doubt that most of you have seen her work and are somewhat aware of her story. She has become an icon in modern art, the story of her all too brief life– the debilitating pain she suffered from childhood polio and a later accident, the turbulent and loving marriage to the painter Diego Rivera, her political beliefs, her affairs and much of her personal life– captured in books and film.
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So, I am not going to spend a lot of time on that. Instead, let’s just take a look at a few of her paintings. As I said, they are unique and deeply personal but there is something in them that appeals to aspects in many of us. There is also a short film with more of her paintings set to a song about her.
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I came across an interesting short video from the Frick Museum with details about one of my favorite paintings, a portrait of Sir Thomas More done by Han Holbein. I thought I would show it along with a repost of a blog entry from back in 2009. Take a look.

You run across a lot of people who are completely dismissive of anything from the past. They feel that we at the moment are the leading edge of humanity’s progress, that we are the culmination of all that has come before us and thus, anything created long before our time can not have equal value  now. There’s this sense that only the modern can fully express the complexity of our world.

When I see this painting of Sir Thomas More painted by Hans Holbein the Younger in around 1527 I realize what flawed logic that is.

Here is a painting that was painted nearly 500 years ago that, when seen in person at the Frick in NYC, has surfaces that are absolutely beautiful. It still glows with its sumptuous colors. All the years of technical progress have not produced materials that could accomplish any more than Holbein did with the materials of his time.

holbein_henryviiiI could stand and look at this piece for hours, marveling not only at the beauty of the paint but at the way Holbein captured More’s humanity and the sense of the time in which it was painted. For me, this painting really illustrates, gives life to, an important figure in history. More was the ultimate man of conscience, refusing to give in to Henry VIII‘s will that he endorse Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon so that he might marry Anne Boleyn. It ultimately cost him his head and cost the world a wonderful mind, one that gave us the concept of Utopia.

It is obvious to me that Holbein felt warmly towards More in the way the piece is painted and the way he captures his persona. In the painting Holbein  did of Henry VIII (on the left) I get a different sense. It’s meant to be large and strong, to be a display of regal power and that it is. But there’s a coldness in the piggish eyes and an arrogance in the stance. Oh, it’s a beautiful painting, on many levels, but when you compare the two it’s obvious where Holbein’s sympathies lay.

This is art and history coming together at single points. It captures the humanity that is contained in all of us and remains unchanged even to the edge of our time. Good stuff. No, great stuff…

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Snowing like made still. Been out plowing for a couple of hours already this morning, just trying to keep the driveway open, and there is definitely a few more hours of plowing ahead. But I thought I’d take a break, drink some coffee and try to throw out some music for a snowy Sunday morning.

Came up with an old song, Valley of Tears, written and performed originally in 1957 by Fats Domino and covered by a number of other artists over the years. Buddy Holly did a version that charted in 1961 that had a skating rink/ magic organ quality to it but I really like this version from the late great Solomon Burke accompanied by one of my favorites, Gillian Welch, and her husband David Rawlings.

Solomon Burke was one of the early greats in the transition period between R&B and Soul. He was a real preacher and blended the spiritual and the physical aspects of soul– the sex and the salvation– into his music. He never got the acclaim as some of the other big names of 60’s Soul but he is is revered.

This is a great, heartfelt performance of the song. Give a listen while I get back to my own valley of tears. If you consider the falling snow tears, that is. Have a good day.

 

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I was listening to some music early this morning and came across this song, one that I hadn’t heard in a number of years. Thought it might be a good one to share if only to show the painting that adorned the album cover from which it came.

The painting is from Pieter Bruegel the Elder from 1559. It is titled Netherlandish Proverbs and contains depictions of at least 112 proverbs or idioms used by the Dutch at the time. Some are still in use, such as “Banging your head against a brick wall” which you can see in the bottom left hand corner. Others have faded from usage, like”Having one’s roof tiled with tarts” which indicates that one is very wealthy.

If you go to the Wikipedia page for the painting there is a great list of the the proverbs along with the imagery for each. I am enjoying it as I work my way through the list. Even without the list, looking closely at a Bruegel painting is always a great pleasure.

The painting was used on the cover of the Seattle based Fleet Foxes‘ self-titled 2008 first album. The song is White Winter Hymnal which works well for this time of the season. The lyrics are actually kind of nonsensical but the song is lovely and the video is interesting. The song has also been covered by the acapella group Pentatonix.

So, take a look at the painting and hopefully you will enjoy the song and video. Have a good day.

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Running a little late this Sunday morning, so I am just going to share a little music without too much talk. Let the music talk for itself,

The song is The World (Is Going Up in Flames) from Charles Bradley, a latter day soul singer who passed away in 2017 at the age of 68. Bradley had a classic soul delivery, full-throated and with a wail that mixed pain and joy in equal measures, in the tradition of Otis Redding and others.

The song could definitely speak to the condition of the world these days, here and abroad. Here, we are approaching an endgame that many of us saw in the cards two years ago. Back in December of 2016, I wrote about how  the word kompromat would become more and more significant and little by little, revealed detail by detail, that is becoming an evident truth.

We still have the chance to quell the fire that has been raging here. Let’s hope it doesn’t all burn down before it happens.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday.

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Feels like we’re kind of in the calm before a storm. There’s a sense of pent up energy just waiting to be unleashed and the only question is how it will all unfold in two days, what kind of damage will be done.

Or undone.

It’s a schizophrenic time filled with high moments of excited hopefulness followed by lows that are comprised of doom and gloom. I dislike both the highs and lows of this time. The highs because I fear I am just kidding myself in thinking that the best thing might happen and the lows because of the future the worst case scenario presents.

All in all, it leaves me, and I think a great many others, exhausted from walking this ragged edge of social/political schizophrenia.

So finding this video this morning was just what the doctor ordered for me. I don’t exactly know how I got to it. I started with watching Lola from the Kinks, moved to a Spanish group named Cafe Quijano doing a song called La Lolagreat song, kind of sexist video–then took a couple of turns and there was this.

It’s from a group called Too Many Zooz. It’s three guys– Matt “Doe” Muirhead on trumpet, Leo P on baritone sax and DavidKing of Sludge” Parks on percussion– who started performing as subway buskers in NYC. Their call their genre of music brass house, a mix of house music, Afro-Cuban, and jazz. I think we can dispense with labels and just say that it is high energy.

They have taken off in recent years as a result from a video that went viral that was shot by someone watching them perform on the Union Square platform in NYC. They have performed around the country and in Europe and Leo P, now widely known for his frantic dance moves, even did a performance on the BBC Proms with a full orchestra. They are currently on a European tour but will be back in the states next month. I see they are appearing not too far from me at The Haunt in Ithaca in December.

This video is called Bedford and was shot on the Bedford subway platform in Brooklyn at 3:33 AM. If anyone was thinking about going to bed at that point, this most likely woke them up.

So, if you find yourself in need of a pick-me-up, take a look at this.

As John Lee Hooker once said, “If you can’t dig this, you got a hole in your soul– and that ain’t good.”

Then take that energy and get out there and vote. Vote. Vote. VOTE.

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