I was rather pleasantly surprised when John Diliberto, host of Echoes, starting including some of the downtempo tracks from Cool Aberrations on his show. I was blown out of the water when he told me he was doing a short west coast tour and asked if we could do a “living room concert”. Echoes does a series of recorded concerts every year, capturing intimate live shows in either artists homes or in the Echoes studio. I was extremely honored that he would even consider me for this series.
I had my work cut out for me preparing for this show. John selected 4 tracks which happened to have different performers on each track: acclimate (JP Culter and Adam Blomberg of guitar), flow tater (Sarah Holzman on flute), summer (Stara on vocals), and reflective moment (Steve Sparapani on cello). I was rather surprised and delighted that they all were interested in playing the show. Scheduling rehearsals with so many people is always an interesting endeavor, and in true rock and roll fashion, they all happened the week of the show. For a couple of songs, we ended the rehearsal with some homework for the musicians to do. Therefore, I had a little trepidation about the show. That, and I had no idea what to expect, really.
We spent much of Wednesday moving my studio from the office to the living room. Stina brought it huge, helping prepare a sumptuous buffet table of nibbles and wine.
People starting showing up at 7 for the 8 o’clock show. When John and Jeff (the engineer) arrived, things kicked into high gear. They had much more equipment then I anticipated, and cables and mic stands appeared all over the place. Our living room looked completely different. Jeff couldn’t have been a nicer, more accommodating guy.
When the equipment was tested and the scene was set – it was time to play. John would do an intro, and we’d play a song. It was pretty exciting. Each song was a totally different head space due to the musician on the track. Everyone really brought their A game. There were plenty of flubs (mostly by me), but I really felt that the music was top notch. There was definitely an energy to the music that I’ve never felt before. John did interviews with the performers in between tracks. Then they went house with their cameras. We did lots of being perfectly silent as they recorded the sounds of our house/Irving street. They whole thing was pretty surreal.
It was especially cool to have these musicians meet each other for the first time. I had always wanted to bring them together, just cause I think they are all amazing people (aside from being ludicrously talented). John and Jeff are truly warm people, dedicated to the art of music and sharing it with others. Jeff has been engineer the show for almost as long as John has been running it (along with his wife). It was a truly special evening, that waaaay exceeded my expectations. Not a bad way to kick off Memorial day weekend . . .
On Saturday, Haber, Sam, and I went to the 2nd annual Maker’s Faire. It was pretty inspiring. Its a giant fair which is all about DIY projects, from the simple to the very complex. Some cool stuff I saw:
Some cupcake bike vehicals:
A cool homemade kinetic maze:
Scary combat vehicals:
Cool objects that literally can not be made using tools. These were all created using 3d printers.
A giant reproduction of the mousetrap.
A robotic scarf dancer. This guy made some INCREDIBLE kinetic robots.
A trippy interactive projection system.
A knitting drummer.
Then Haber and I meandered our way to Shoreline to catch Bjork. It was a pretty intense show sonically and visually, but totally sweet. The coolest part (besides her voice) was the rad electronics that one her crew was using during the set:
Last night, Stiners, Rachel, Casey, Aaron and I attended the SEVA foundation fundraiser. Well, actually Aaron sorta worked it, since he works at SEVA. This means that we got the killer hookup.
The lineup was stellar. First was Tea Leaf Green. They did a solid acoustic set.
Then came Chris Robinson and his Wooden family. They were excellent. Chris’ voice was as strong as ever, and they even had some some solid sans drums jams.Then came Zero. They were fucking stellar. Way better then the last time I caught them. I took a smidge of video.
Finally, Mickey Hart and friends closed the show. He assembled a solid band to cover dead tunes. Steve Kimock pulled double duty with Zero and Mickey. I think he’s raised ranks to my favorite guitar player alive.This was one of the best concerts I’ve attended in quite some time. As a complete and utter bonus, Aaron got us into the VIP after party in the Red Room, the most beautiful room in all of SF. We traipsed upstairs to be greeted with tables and tables of FOOD! High quality food at that. OMG. Imagine a bunch of famished hippies arriving upon an incredible shmorgous board of food. It was both hysterical and incredibly delicious.
There was a couple giant cakes, cause this benefit was also Wavy Gravy’s (spokesperson for SEVA, MC for the night) 71 st birthday.
Happy birthday Wavy!
I just ran across the best signature I’ve seen on a forum, ever:
Go fuck a sunset, hippie.
After some Chimay, MGD and pizza with Chris Davis, I headed out to what is becoming my home away from home – the Independent. Kid Beyond was opening, and was throwing down his jaw dropping vocal skills. His set has evolved over the years – now he sets up a song, loop by loop, first some drums, then a bass line, more drums, more effects, maybe a lead, all using his voice, a midi pedal, and an ingenious use of ableton Live. Then he sings on top of it. His songs/lyrics are now the focus of the act – and the amazing strength and range of his voice. Pretty crazy, considering how he’s already redefined vocal percussion for me. Kick ass light show too.
The New Deal came next. Well, sorta. Two guys (the keys and drums) from the New Deal, and the bass player from STS9. They did a mostly improvised set in the style of Particle, STS9, etc. What I’ve come to learn is that this kind of music does not capture my musical attention at all. They are fine musicians, and the crowd eats it up, but if the music is to be all instrumental, I need some depth, complexity, and nuance. The music of last night was more repetitive, in the same key kinda stuff. I’ve already come to terms with my extreme musical snobbery. I’m good with it.
Its actually kinda nice that I can now cross off all bands of this electronica/jam band cross over nature off my show calender.
On Sunday, Joe Ledbetter assembled a 10 piece band (3 horns, accordion, cello, mandolin, theromin, bass, drums, and vocals) to cover Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In the Aeroplane over the Sea”. It has been described to me as an album you either love or have never heard of. Lars thoughtfully gifted me with the CD for my birthday and I studiously listened to it many times prior to the concert.
The show was simply amazing. They did total justice to the album. I totally look up to Joe as a musician – to have the drive and vision to do something like this and then totally pull it off. They even improved some of the tunes with extra harmonies and instrumentation. The audience stood in rapture. I heard multiple people in the audience sign along. The band plugged away, no breaks in between tracks, nailing each song, all hard and strong, and well, now my pants are chafing me.
The album ends with a solo guitar/vocal song. The ultimate sign of respect was that in the club, where at least 40-50 people were in attendance, there was total silence while Joe sang the final song. I don’t think I ever seen that before, ever.
Aaron gave me a really sweet birthday present – he took Rachel and I to a glass studio in Berkeley and taught us how to make glass beads. It was the perfect gift. It was something that I’ve always wanted to try, but never could muster the ‘ole follow through.
It was totally rad. Its was fairly difficult to get started, what with glass + fire = liquid?, and the complete lack of skill/necessary coordination, but Aaron was equipment with crazy ninja teaching skillz. Not to mention an ill amount of patience. We had a great time. Or at least I did, for sure.
What else did I learn? That glass blowers are a bunch of hippies. And that Planet Earth is like the best show ever.
Stina and I warmed up Friday night with some tasty beverages, and then parted ways as I headed into the Independent. I even arrived on time for the opener – Rocket, an all female alt pop rock knock em on your ass kinda band. Their band genre description: “Powerpop”, is pretty much on the money. They had a sorta edginess to the music that was offset by a very cheery onstage demeanor. I was shocked that their entire set was only 25 minutes long, cause they really packed it in. It felt like an hours worth of material.
I go to a lot of shows, blah blah blah, so it’s funny some of things that get fine tuned. Like knowing when to go to the bathroom, where to sit/stand in the venue (especially if you are by yourself), when to hit the bar, etc. Its fun to assist other people enjoy their concert experience, as I did through out the night (“dude, hit the bathroom now. . .”)
Anyhow, eventually the headliner took the stage. This is a band of true heavy hitters – the two guys from the Duo, the bass player from Ween, and the guitar player from Rana. Sick sick players. I think they are all in New York based bands, and I don’t think they ever really played outside of NY – so this was a rare treat.
What they do is play completely instrumental covers of Led Zeppelin songs. Two kick ass sets of this.
It was pretty fabulous. I mean, these guys are all better instrumentalists then Led Zeppelin was comprised of, so the jams really got out there. On the otherhand, Marco (the keys duder) playing all the vocal parts got pretty old after a while. It would have been so much better had they had a kick ass singer present – it would have been the ultimate alternate Led Zeppelin experience. Besides that, those guys can play the living shit out of those songs. It got pretty rocking. I never realized how good a bass player Ween had.
I really wish Patry could have been there. He would have had more fun then anyone in the room.
Way back in the day, when Stina came out to join me in Cali, she made it clear that this was a temporary thing. We’ll move back to MA to be near our respective parents in a couple years.
. . . time passes . . .
. . . eventually hunger sets in . . .
so I stroll over to Underdog, where I’m greeted warmly by the proprietors. We chat and I mow a tasty organic sausage and tots. And, OMG, they now sell Mission Pies. Score!
Thus satiated, I randomly decided to make my way to the Acoustic Cafe, where again, I’m greeted by name by the two bartenders/coffee slingers. A jam band, Kanvus, is hacking their way through Wolfsmans Brother. Maybe 15 hippie-esque folk have congregated to enjoy some fine free music, $3 beers, and great vibes. A coaster fight breaks out.
I guess its hard not to feel that I’ve planted some roots here.
Another strange occurrence is that I’ve starting appearing in environments where there are an abundance of good looking single women. I guess this is bound to happen after marriage. I wish I had a hippie-ish single male friend to tote around. He’d be so thankful that he’d ply me with free sausages and beer. Cause if he was my friend, he’d know the way my heart.
Oh, if you have a moment, digg this. I’d appreciate it.