Thursday, June 28, 2007

This isn’t a proper review. Let’s just make that clear from the start. I headed to Brother Bean last Saturday explicitly not to review the show there, but to relax and listen to some music. One of the two Bruces (Swartz and Kahler) playing as Bruce2 is not only a nice guy, but the co-owner of Brother Bean, a guy who’s working with me on a community radio station, and basically, I thought that there were just too many conflicts of interest for me to be there acting impartial.

I should have brought my notebook and camera.

I had expected a vanity show – one of the great prerogatives of running a space is to step up to the mic when you feel like it, regardless of talent. If you go to poetry readings, you soon realize that many times organizers become organizers because no one else would listen to their work if they weren’t in charge. But Kahler has a gorgeous voice—his notes were spot on every time – no wavering, no sliding, just a relaxed nailing no matter the progression -- and Swartz, a bassist who plays with a number of local bands made me, a guy who last played bass nearly a decade ago (and even then poorly), think of the instrument in new ways.

The two did some combo numbers and then Swartz did a number of solo numbers with his loop station (patiently but not condescendingly explaining how it worked and what he was trying to do), the Kahler took a solo turn, and then they finished with more combo tunes.
The duo did a lot of covers – the Handsome Family (“My Sister’s Tiny Hands”), some Cat Stevens, even some John Denver mixed in with about five originals. They had the ease on stage of two guys who had been doing this for a long time. My wife was in heaven with the song selections, but I would have liked to have seen some more originals.

Like I said, this is not a proper review, but it was so unexpectedly wonderful that something had to be said. And, as a matter of fact, two other things must be said too.

As the New York Times recently observed, “It Takes a Tough Man to Tell a Bad Joke”:
Johnny Cash carefully cultivated his man-in-black image, but he was also an incorrigible ham; the famous Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison album includes not only “Folsom Prison Blues” and “I Still Miss Someone” but also novelty songs like “Flushed From the Bathroom of Your Heart” and “Dirty Old Egg-Suckin’ Dog.” In an odd way singing a funny song can be a way of projecting both confidence (because you’re not afraid to sound like a lightweight) and humility (because you’re not too proud to do it).

When Kahler started in on his original “Is There Soap in Hippie Heaven?” (which deserves to be covered by every artist currently singing) I found myself doing something that I rarely do at a singer-songwriter show – laughing. So, a note to apprentice performers, don’t forget that you’re putting on a show. And even emo kids laugh. Sometimes. When no one else is looking.

Finally, a last bit of scolding. Bruce2 had a good crowd for the show. But, what (or who) I didn’t see there were other artists. The excuse of course is that folk-y isn’t your thing. Which isn’t an excuse at all – it’s apostasy of the faith of music. If you want to kill a scene – make sure that it’s insular, that you only listen to music that sounds like you, only invite your friends to your shows, and for god’s sake, don’t advertise, network, or even say “good show” to the other local players.

Some of you get passes – if you were playing a show that night, or live a long way from the venue, yet show up for most shows (you know who you are). But, if you were home watching TV, or hanging out with friends, or even practicing, you should have been there for two reasons. The first is respect. BroBean has the most interesting, most vibrant, most imaginative bookings around. Without them, we would be seeing neither the national acts nor the dedication to local artists that the Kahlers are incubating. When someone like that plays a show at his own venue, you show up. It’s respect, plain and simple. A way of saying “thanks”. Thanks for booking my beginning band, thanks for the good coffee and the friendly space, thanks for bringing other artists a place to play.

Speaking of BroBean they have two efficiency apartments for rent:
One is especially small but furnished and has everything you need...$350. the other is a bit bigger, is furnished and again...has everything you need...$400. both come with all utilities including internet. these apartments would be great for students, interns, or non-materialistic-community minded couples.

And Ryan Waterman brings her acoustic show to the Seneca venue on Saturday from 7-9 pm.

The Franklin Club is headed for Sherrif’s Sale.

The Meadville Tribune profiles director Jason B. McCann regionally shot horror short film The Beast in Me.
The short film’s plot. . . is about a relationship, and “the beast severing that relationship — literally. I mean, there’s some severing.”
Locations included the news studios of WSEE-TV in Erie, the Copper Coin Lounge in Edinboro and the Riverside Inn in Cambridge Springs.

Early Bird Tickets for the Firefly Music Festival end this week on Monday July 2nd.

Would a Whomping Willows show at a Venango library be cool? Yes, yes it would. If you want to help petition them, drop me a line.

Greensburg-based builder Tom Papinchak bought Frank Llyod Wright's Duncan House and moved it to a site in Mount Pleasant Township.

The 1957 structure, originally designed for prefabricated construction in larger numbers, was one of only a handful actually built. Its original location was in Lisle, Ill. But when rising land values led developers to threaten the house with demolition, it was put into boxes.

The Pittsburgh City Paper covers the one-act, work-in-progress, the, 90-minute tale of people who dress up in full body fursuits, Furry Tales. The show, timed to coincide with Pittsburgh's second year playing host to Anthrocon, the nation's largest conference of furries scampers onto the scene in a staged reading July 5 at the CLO Cabaret.

Furry Tales was sparked during last year's Anthrocon, when Bill Medica and JC Carter of But Why? Productions were sitting at Tonic, across the street from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. Like many in the city, they were mystified at seeing people around town in tails, ears and fursuits. As the convention weekend progressed, their thoughts about furries evolved from "preconceived notions" into the realization that "we're all a little furry on the inside."
"They're not afraid to be themselves," says Carter. "When they left, the magic left."
"They were such a force," adds Medica.

Nazik al-Malaika, one of the Arab world’s most famous poets, an early exponent of the free verse movement in Arabic, died last Wednesday in Cairo.
Here am I between the jaws of death
As a heart still throbbing with the love of life
As a couples of eyes athirst
For the enjoyment of the universe;
Making advances to the charms of the evening,
I am still a bud, on the twig of fortune,
Whose dreams and hopes are fresh and new.
It is a shame, O death, that thou shouldst
Bury my youth anon in the world of dead
-And I, O life, what fate is meted out for me?
Am I going to be a word devoid of meaning?
Will the nights carry me away
And cast the gloom of oblivion over me?
In the morrow, fortune will extinguish my lamps.
And death will squander the echoes of my tunes,
Then I shall become, amongst other ghosts, a ghost myself
And shall be erased from mortal existence.
Oh, no, I do not want that.
Would fortune have mercy on my tears.
Misery and sadness
Let there be a lasting echo of my melodious, song
Ringing in the hearing of the coming years,
Song ringing in the hearing of the coming years,
nay even centuries
O mercy! do not let my flowing tears
Be an early elegy on my youth.
How did our days pass - how did they?
Between the jaws of eagerness and grief!
Your heart and mine were full of love and anxiety
But we took refuge under the wing of secrecy.
Whenever my eyes speak to you of my love
I punish them by depriving them of you.
O my poet, how did we keep it secret?
Yet of old, no two lovers ever disobeyed Cupid.
O my song, when shall my tunes reach thee,
So that thou wilt listen to the joys of my love?
Why do I spend my days suppressing my eagerness,
When my heart is overflowing with emotions?
Always we meet and always I ignore you,
perplexed,while my sad heart is possessed of the anxiety of the lover!
It is pride possessing the soul
That makes a love appear indifferent
Is then then what they call life?
As lines we continue drawing over the water,
As echoes of a cruel song which does not touch the lips.
Is this then the essence of existence?
Wild scattered nights with no return
and the traces of our feet on the road of the deaf ears of time are gone!
For the storm's hand wipes them kindlesslyand surrenders them to nothingness
Veiled Utopia.
A haven of magic, we were told
It was.Made of nectar and twilight roses,
Of tenderness and gold.
In it, they said, was
The panacea for the wounds of man.
We wanted it, but didn't get it.
Back to our hopes, miserable and unfulfilled.
Where is this land?
Are we to see it oris it to stay enveloped, unattainable
Agitating inside us only
A numbed yearning?
A prayerWithin closed lips?
The millions are a torrent of desire,
Burning desire,
And a dream of flame.
Open the gates for thousandsof exhausted victims are screaming
They spoke of 'life';
It is the color of a corpse's eye
It is the echoing steps of a stealthy killer:
Its curving daysa poisoned coat diffusing death.
Its dreams the humour of a demon
with paralyzing eyes, death - hiding lips.
Where shall I go?
I'm weary of the ways,
I'm bored with the meadows
And with the persistent, hidden enemy
Following my footsteps.Where can I escape?
The trails and roads that carry
Songs to every strange horizon,
The paths of life,
The corridors in night's total darkness,
The corners of the bare days...
I've wandered along them all,
With my relentless enemy behind me,
Keeping a steady pace, or sitting firmly
Like the mountains of snow
In the far north.

1 comment:

Bruce Kahler said...

Thanks for the good word, Michael. Too bad that I can't believe it since as you stated you're not an impartial observer! I do appreciate the work you're doing by reviewing shows and highlighting improvements you'd like to see--how can anyone improve without feedback? And I accept the challenge to provide more original material--now I just have to figure out how to compose my own melodies!