Monday, March 20, 2006

dave hickey, latin express, sleeplab

this is gonna be another one of those "cats 'n' dogs" posts...too much _stuff_ going on to sit 'n' scrawl at length.

i'm not a great reader anymore. time was when i'd _always_ have four or five books going at any given time. these days, it seems i don't have the attention span to read a cereal box, let alone a lengthy tome. lately, tho, i've been re-reading some fave music books (nik cohn's rock from the beginning in its original, hip-shootin', borderline libelous glory; paul williams' outlaw blues, reminding one how naive ppl were back in 1967, and that such naivete is not necessarily a bad thing) and especially _essays_, which are just the right length for me to digest before i konk at the end of the day. my sweetie's currently working her way thru ralph "invisible man" ellison's shadow and act, while i'm deeply diggin' a volume laid on me by paul boll, a cat who's almost too literate 'n' culcha'd to be a muso (altho he's a fine one): dave hickey's air guitar. hickey's a texas who was present at the creation of lotsa stuff back in the '60s, and the essays in this book explore from different angles the weighty topic of how human beings respond to art in all its forms. that he manages to pull this considerable feat off without coming across pompous or didactic speaks to his considerable skill as a scribe: above all, hickey's a great storyteller, and his love of his characters and his subject matter comes across in every paragraph. a righteous read, fo' sho'.

so sat'day night we went up to the saenz hall on the northside to help an old air force bud 'n' his lovely celebrate 20 yrs of wedded bliss, as well as their dtr's 3rd b'day, and hear latin express, who played at the couple's wedding reception way back in november of '85. (i drove from abilene with what was later diagnosed as walking pneumonia for the original event.) it wound up being quite a sentimental evening for me, getting reacquainted with some cats i hadn't run across in yrs and seeing what good men they've become. also got to sit in with latin express, which is always a gas, somewhat mitigated in this case by the fact that when i went up they were playing "mustang sally" and carlos saenz had torn his rig down to allow his bro. leo to play guitarron while their pop, nicho, was tearin' it up on accordian. while i don't think i really added anything to the stew _musically_ (altho that didn't stop my air force buds from goin' off, and they weren't even garrruuunnnk yet), it as a gas to stand up there and hear leo and his pop playin' some old gooduns that i'd previously heard them playing in nicho's living room while his wife rosa pushed plate after plate of insanely good mexican chow my way. once my onstage interval was up, i got to kick back with my sweetie and watch the dancers show their stuff (i don't dance; asian dudes shouldn't -- it's like wearing cowboy hats). nobody, but _nobody_ fills a dancefloor like latin express. es verdad. the lineup's changed a bit -- most notably, john olmos has replaced leo saenz III on bass, and estevan saenz on brass 'n' congas has grown at least a foot and a half since the last time i saw 'em -- but they're still a great band, one of the fort's finest.

after that, we tipped over to the li'l wreck room to catch sleeplab. (regrettably got there too late to catch most of darrin kobetich 'n' steve huber doing their acoustic gtr 'n' violin duet thang, but look fwd to doing so at a later date.) it's been a gas watching jeff arsenault, fern palomo, and jesse sierra hernandez build their thang up over the last few months from its somewhat tentative beginnings sittin' in at the wreck room's wednesday night jam. first, confusatron bassist matt skates jumped on board, followed by hank hankshaw's occasional snare drum accompanist michael preble. next thing you know, ex-confusatron stickman scott ivey added his traps to make a bona fide _percussion section_. i missed their last show, which wreck room wizard o' sound andre edmonson said pulled 80-100 ppl on a thursday night, so i was unaware that james norris and crystal casey had been added to the lineup. james, of james and myles fame, doesn't vocalize with this unit; rather, he tinkles the fender rhodes, adding an incandescent texture to the mix, and leaves the tonsil-tickling to crystal casey, whose bell-like tones and lyrics in a variety o' languages serve as an auditory fulcrum for the sound, which isn't zackley brazilian jazz in the manner of jobim or gilberto -- harmonically, it's a little more monochromatic and more groove (vice melody) oriented than those composers' work; rhythmically, it's static in the same way as dub and electronica, which just means "hypnotic" to the connoisseur of chillness. icing on the cake on this particular occasion was saint frinatra's brian sharp, making periodic milesian interjections on muted trumpet 'n' flugelhorn. among 817 bands, sleeplab is comfortably relaxin' into a niche between masters o' the groove like sub oslo, pablo and the hemphill 7, and confusatron, and gentler spirits like ahummin' acoustical acupuncture. it should come as no surprise that they're very stylish visually as well, since there are a coupla top local graphic artists in the lineup. and no, they're not from belgium.


Anonymous paul said...

Glad you're diggin' the book!

Saw you and Kat sitting out on the porch while it rained the other day. What a great weekend that was for reading and sitting on the porch. Life is good in the 76107!

11:07 PM  

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