Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Ten things I liked in 2016

1) Helping Dennis Gonzalez hang his art exhibit at Grackle Gallery, and hearing his new band Ataraxia Trio in one of their first performances. I'm looking forward to hearing the recordings they just completed, after a few more months of sound evolution.

2) Hearing Sarah Ruth Alexander and Gregg Prickett perform their darkly spiritual music twice, also at the Grackle. (Do I detect a theme here?) The first time, it was material from her solo cassette Words On the Wind, with atmospheric interludes from Gregg. The second time, it was Far From the Silvery Light, the album that they released under the rubric They Say the Wind Made Them Crazy, in its entahrty.

3) Taking 3/4 of X_____x to dinner in the Denton town square when they played at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio (RIP) in January, and realizing as we listened to the VU's Matrix tapes on the way back that at least two of them had the memory of seeing the Velvets at La Cave. Hearing X_____x's stately version of Albert Ayler's "Ghosts" live was an unexpectedly moving experience. Bonus: Getting to hear Craig Bell's "New Haven era" compilation aka Darwin Layne on sweet, sweet vinyl.

4) Watching Half Cleveland perform live via the wonders of live streaming. Getting a shout-out from Harvey Gold. Becoming obsessed with Robert Wyatt's "Little Red Riding Hood Hit the Road" after hearing Harvey sing it on Tin Huey's disinformation.

5) Hearing Nels Cline's Lovers, on which David Breskin performed the same service for Nels that George Martin did for Jeff Beck on Blow By Blow -- to wit, providing a context for his amazing guitar playing that emphasizes his gift for melody. Learning that Breskin also produced great albums by Mark Dresser, Kris Davis, and my guitar obession-o'-the-moment, Mary Halvorson, that dropped this year. And that he's currently at work on new ones by Halvorson and Chris Lightcap. All I ever need is something to look forward to.

6) Playing Stoogeaphilia shows with Tame, Tame and Quiet and their "brother bands" BULLS and Heater. Realizing that while my years are catching up with me, playing music with good friends is still the best catharsis your money can buy.

7) Seeing George Takei in the film of Allegiance with my middle daughter while in other cities, my sister watched it with one of her daughters, and one of her other daughters watched it with her boyfriend. Powerful, moving, and topical. And yeah, I'm a sucker for Broadway musicals, but more Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Loewe than Lloyd-Webber or, um, Disney.

8) Geeking out on Anthony Braxton, whose work I've underappreciated, with the help of intarweb buddy Charles Young and Sound American. Music's a deep well; how fortunate are we.

9) Reading Nick Blakey's meticulously researched and well-written liner notes to Smog Veil's worthy "Platters du Cuyahoga" series, three volumes of which (Mr. Stress Blues Band, Robert Bensick Band, and Schwartz-Fox Blues Crusade) dropped this year. When you encounter someone who does what you do, only better, the only thing you can do is take your hat off. Mine's doffed.

10) Watching Jim Jarmusch's Stooges doco Gimme Danger at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff ("the one where they caught Lee Oswald," as I'd explain to out of town friends) with pals including Sir Marlin Von Bungy's son, who's a couple of years younger than I was when I saw the Stooges play the Cincinnati Pop Festival on my parents' TV. Then again, when I was that age, I hadn't seen Joan Jett and Cheap Trick live half a dozen times, or worked the smoke machine for my father's band. Lucky kid.


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