Sunday, January 27, 2008

Music writers like to use a terroir derived shorthand to describe music. Thus, rock music from Pittsburgh should be lunch-bucket-none-too-bright rock like Donny iris or Joe Greshecky (or more likely, today with the Steel City overrun with Google employees and CMU grads, the nerdy prog rock of Black Moth Rainbow), the Beach Boys sound like a sunny California day and NYC rap had better sound grimy.

So, what should a group hailing from and even celebrating Titusville, PA sound like? Frenetic meth influenced grindcore? Diesel soaked shot and beer country, or heartfelt Springsteen anthems about plants shutting down and oil wells being capped?

The band formed in the late fall of 2005 with the two original members Jesse Proper and Kevin Proper. today, the band's current line up is made up of Jesse Proper on melody/lead guitar and vocals, Kevin Proper rhythm/beat guitar, and Chris Prenett on bass. And to expectations of what they should sound like, they say nuts to all that and instead create music with two separate thrusts: 80s influenced instrumental electronic, and beautifully fragile pop songs about love, the attempt of 9-5 life to crush happiness, and the quietude of alienation.

Late 2007’s "Start Your Day with Newmen" is a six song EP released between full length albums. The first two tracks, “Density” and “Pink Flamingos” are the electronica, but these Moogish synths also show up in the lyric’d tracks as well such as “9-5 waltz” (track #3) here framing Jesse’s hushed tenor. The two tracks below show off the distinctive guitar sound and smart lyricism that helps to develop newmen's unique sound. The end result of all this is a tasty appetizer of an EP that promises a full course feast on the way.

Download "She Is"
Download "Something Different"

Newmen next play a free show February, 9 2008 at Tidioute Community Charter School (41 Main St, Tidioute, PA 16351) at 7pm.

They're also currently booking shows. Email them to bring them to your town.

Franklin painter, Julia, has two paintings for an exhibit in Meadville. There will be an open reception held on Friday, February 1st from 6:30 to 9:00pm at the Heeschen Gallery in the Market House, 2nd floor, Meadville, PA. This reception is free and open to the public with refreshments and musical entertainment.

Auditions for the Oil City Community Playhouse production of Proof will be held tomorrow from 6-8 pm at Clarion-Venango Rhoades Auditorium . Four major roles will be cast:

  • Robert, a math professor
  • Catherine, his 25 year old daughter
  • Claire, an older sister
  • Hal, a male grad student turned professor

Production dates are April 18, 19, 26 & 26.

Through the end of this month, a display depicting the history of the oil industry will be at the Uniontown Library in the Charles H. Wall Memorial Reading Room.

Dirty hippies rejoice! The Butler Art Center is looking for "Age of Aquarius" bands to play dates from January 25th - February 15th, 2008. Call 724-283-6922.

The musical Crowns (based on the book Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats ) is coming to Erie.
The loosely woven story follows a street-wise young African-American girl, played by Carla Hughes, who is sent to live with her aunt after a family crisis. While there, she learns about sisterhood and her African roots from a vibrant group of Southern African American women through stories about the hats they wear for every occasion, from churchgoing to flirting to funerals to baptism. The tradition of hats is traced back to African rituals and forward to the New Testament and current fashion. The show-stopping musical numbers carry us across the Deep South, through urban streets, to the Caribbean and Africa.

Show Dates

Thu Jan 31, 2008 - 7:30 pm
Fri Feb 1, 2008 - 7:30 pm
Sat Feb 2, 2008 - 7:30 pm
Sun Feb 3, 2008 - 2:00 pm
Wed Feb 6, 2008 - 7:30 pm
Thu Feb 7, 2008 - 7:30 pm
Fri Feb 8, 2008 - 7:30 pm
Sat Feb 9, 2008 - 7:30 pm
Sun Feb 10, 2008 - 2:00 pm

Is this worth the drive to Homestead? Could be... Popcorn is pretty tasty. Although it would be cool if the Movies At Cranville would pick up on a similar plan...Of course, they're "contact me" page has been broken for months....

It's no great secret to readers of this blog, that I find my self often in complete and utter opposition to Oil City councilman Neil McElwee's world view. From his jaw dropping assertion in a lecture that late 19th century factories were "terrific" working environments and that employees "loved" their bosses to his self-appointed expert status on Victorian architecture to his consistent hagiography of the early oil robber barons, the guy rubs me the wrong way.

So, today, as I was reading old News Heralds (I subscribe to the News Herald, but rarely read the paper version. It's the same civic minded impulse that drives me to check Buyer's Fair for a part (that they never have) before going to test my sanity at Home Depot.) and was delighted, but not surprised to find this gem in the Jan 22nd edition in an article on pg 6 by Judith Etzel:

. . . council briefly talked about Mehlburger's idea to encourge a more public dissemunation of art...."Display at art at city hall? Who decides this is art? Who makes that decision? . . . asked McElwee. . . I'm a little afraid of about anything goes. .. This is a naturally scenic area and I want to protect it [from outdoor art]. . . we are very unique here with a beautiful mouth of a creek and a river and I will defend that..."

So rest easy citizens. Councilman Neil has taken a strong anti-art stance and Oil City will be protected from things like this:

Beginning today, is dropping its subscriber registration requirement and making the site free to all visitors.

Barbara Buckman Strasko is the new Lancaster County poet laureate

Is dying really a shrewd career move?

One day, every song ever recorded will fit into your back pocket. But will you listen to any of them?

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