Waynesword2 Wednesday Blog:
In the Manner of Timothy Ferris, except he pumps it out every Friday to 10 million followers…
September recap of Summer, behind us:
What I’m Listening To—
- This Lives Here, by Troy-born guitarist George Muscatello & Israeli-born singer/vocalist Shiri Zorn— after they gifted me this recent locally-produced CD, it sat on the bookcase for almost a week before I opened it and put it on for the first time. Since then, I think I’ve listened 24 times so far… the tom-tom drums on Cut 5 got me totally hooked and coming back for more. The guitar of George M. sounds exactly like no one else, that’s all I can tell you. I’ve listened to local greats from Jack Fragomeni to Chuck D’Aloia, who were both amazing in their own ways, and over the years I’ve seen live performances by icons like John Lee Hooker, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John McLaughlin, Derek Trucks, Ralph Towner, Carlos Santana, Al DiMeola, Neil Young, Sturgill Simpson (last year) and Warren Haynes up close and personal… but Mr. Muscatello has a sound like none of the above. Maybe he compares with John Abercrombie plus a splash of John Scofield, or Bill Frisell…? His tones sometimes sound like a Rhodes electric or a clean chiming synthesizer… notes come from his gingers you wear you haven’t heard before…and that goes for Shiri’s voice creations as well…they are co-creators who encourage each other’s uniqueness.
- Best Birthday present I got back in May was a mailed CD from my reliable, formerly local bro Dave Scavone, who sent me the compelling fusion-of-styles masterpiece Vanished Gardens by Lucinda Williams with Charles Lloyd and The Marvels. The longest tune on that CD– #8– is called Unsuffer Me, which is my favorite original from any source this year…a long epic blues poem of stunning brief-line lyrics, then augmented by a hypnotic, dare-I-say shamanic horn and flute interlude
- by septegenarian Charles Lloyd– who used to noodle behind hipster beatniks in the late 50’s in SF– that supercedes Lucinda’s blues moods into ecstatic reflection….as if Pharaoh Saunders or Sun Ra took over a sad & desperate country tune as their own…exploring their way to another planet.
- Lucinda Williams, The Ghosts of Highway 20. In advance of her appearance at Troy Music Hall, which a work appointment will keep me from attending… her own album features twin guitarists I love on their own— the aforementionedBill Frisell, and Geg Leisz. On a par with her late 90’s masterpiece Car Wheels on a Gravel Road– almost every song is a gem. This is as close to country as I get, Sturgill Simpson notwithstanding.
- Best radio tunes I’m hooked on: Earlier in the summer it was: Boys In The Bettah Land, by Fontaines DC, an Irish post-punk bunch with a punch that immediate propels me forward whenever it comes on; Rylan by The National, who collectively are sound & lyric geniuses in my book, with female voices now chiming in on this new album; then the 11 minute “single” from Tool… Fear Inoculum, from their first album release in 11 years or so… and Bullet Spent, a new one by Spoon. Current ear candy is Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile by The New Pornographers.
- Also those by the sultry Lana Del Rey, with her take on Sublime’s version of Summertime; Joywave’s newest Obsession, a tune called Blue Sky Drugs by local group In The valley Below, and Brittany Howard, previously lead singer of the Alabama Shakes, whose solo single is dubbed Stay High, with a great story-video to illustrate it.
- For something outside even the Alt mainstream, there was a CD I picked up after the Caffe Lena performance by guitarist Ben Monder, up here from Brooklyn to play as part of an improvisational monthly quartet led by tremendous pianist Chuck Lamb, now a Saratoga resident himself. Monder’s album HYDRA caught my attention, for extended 20+ minute explorations both abstract and lyrical. At Lena’s he covered a cerebral and surreal version of Jim Webb’s “WICHITA LINEMAN” to end the first set, blowing minds when he came back to the memorable 60’s melody when he brought the electric-stringed space trip back to earth.
- Best Live music of the Summer:
BECK at SPAC (beautiful & riveting lighting effects & a stupendous range of musical styles, masterful)
SPOON at SPAC (same night as Beck, love these grizzled Austin rockers, with a band I won’t mention in between)
Chuck Lamb trio at 9 Maple, when he was channeling Fats Waller and Cecil Taylor at times within the same tune…
George Muscatello & Shiri Zorn, several times at Mouzon House in Saratoga, Speakeasy in Albany, The Cellar at One Caroline, and at Desperate Annie’s (!) during Super Dark Collective, last Thursday. I missed a lot of great music I’ve wanted to see, but the above acts made up for that.
What I’m Reading Now:
- “The English Major” for the second or 3rd time, Jim Harrison, my main man in the literary universe, bar none, a geographic road novel that is both light-hearted and a bleak tale published circa 2010, 6 years before his death. Not an academic book in the slightest, and nothing like the title sounds; this a tragicomic reflection on separation and age. When I re-read Harrison’s work it is not for the storyline, but to savor and marvel at his word flow and thought patterns.
- “SARATOGA: A Novel of The American Revolution” by David Garland… not usually pulled into these kinds of books but because of the local references & scarily close geography, I polished this book off in a couple of days during the now-seemingly blessed period where I lost and was without my phone. Something to be said for that. Eve though I’ve lived here for years and read as many Historical Markers as I could across all my regional travels, this book makes me want to formally visit ALL of the following places, as if new venues, and study what happened there: The Battlefield Monuments at Schuylerville, Stillwater, Bennington, Fort Ticonderoga, Fort Edward, Fort Ann, Whitehall, Mount Defiance, Bitter Creek, Skenesborough/Whitehall, Crown Point, et al…
- ‘’SOMEDAY, MAYBE” — a compilation from 1973 by my favorite Professor Poet, William Stafford. His genius is such that I can open the book anywhere and receive an instant gem of knowledge that seems pertinent to my day’s frame of mind. If his poems were Twitter Tweets, we’d all be better off.
From a poem named
For anyone, for anyone,
the years are a sufficient storm:
over horizons in channels of wind
they blow, steady and long.
When I was young, when I was young,
I ran that storm—I walk it now…
From human loss, from gravel, from stone,
After years, one holds what one can.
I look out—that boy: undeterred,
He runs on through the withering world.
–William Stafford, “Someday, Maybe”
- Best Thing I’ve Seen on Flipboard— a story about Norwegian astronomers who designed a resort in a distant fjord above the Arctic Circle, which rotates according to the best view of the Northern Lights. Talk about bucket list trips, back to one-quarter of my ancenstral heritage…
- Best Thing I’ve Seen on TV: Nothing, I don’t watch TV, nor NetFlix, No Hulu, no Streaming, nothing. See below…
- Best Thing I’ve Ever Done in the past year: Not allowed a TV in the same room with me, cold turkey… NO TV!! Therefore no discussion of TV shows, for 12 months and 18 days now… (NBA playoffs not included, as I watched was compelled to watch, usually with son Mile, elsewhere, not at home. Can’t be a couch potato if you have no couch and no telly, and no potatoes for that matter.
- Most Compelling TED Talk I’ve Seen This Summer (on my phone; I still have one of those): 16 year old Danish female activist on Climate Crisis – Greta Thunberg— who has since become more-than—TED famous… appearing before Congress, meeting with Obama, fearlessly speaking on a world stage about the staggering evidence that the world her generation and future generations face will been in a grave state if dramatic action is not taken. She seems to have sparked a wide movement among those of high school age, who will be striking en masse two days after I post this. The eloquent and quietly passionate online exposure she delivered in her TED talk has fostered an exponential rise of awareness that add to a long American tradition… from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Al Gore’s prescient warnings, and Bill McKibben’s ongoing scientific tirade against the Powers That Be. Bless that girl for expressing the fears of the widespread youth of this world.
- Best Spontaneous Off-Stage Performance I Saw All Summer— My buddy Dave Casner and his wife Julie invited me over to their Saratoga abode after the last performance their daughter Samantha had been a part of at Maple Ave Middle School– the noted Broadway musical NEWSIES– which I’d not seen before until that night, and it was rousingly inspired, and great. These mostly college-aged local kids had combined with some accomplished elders and some really young students to revive a Theater group that had nurtured them early on. After an intense weekend of 4 shows at the end of August, they had a cast party with the core 13 members or so, all roughly Samantha’s age. At one point in the late evening, they summoned Samantha’s grandmother and the rest of us to listen to an a capella version of a LIZZO tune, Truth Hurts. Sung in sections with multiple harmonies and lotsa sass and finger-waggin’ attitude, it was so freaking funny and awesome we begged them to do itagain, which they did. The video was on the phone I lost recently, unsaved. I told Julie she should post her phone’s version of the video on you Tube– it was youthful exuberance brought to life perfectly, en masse.
In looking at this list, I’ve come to realize yet again how much I rely on music, and especially live music, as a source of exhilaration and amusement, even moreso than before, now that I am living without sports obsessions (NBA hoop still over a month away), without the distracting and narcosis of network TV, cable, streaming services like Netflix, movies, formerly favorite shows of my marriage, etc.)
I am reading more, musing constantly, jotting notes, tapping these keys, meditating, taking pix daily of real estate subject matter and the changing City of Saratoga Springs, walking daily, shooting hoop sporadically, and trying to avoid 90% of the news, and most commercial input. Music is the antidote for all of that– the purest form of audial input I crave. Thanks to Those Who Provide It; More to report, soon.