The other day, Evan (of Skeleton Hands) hipped me to the fact that Paul McCartney paid sideways tribute to Ron Mael of Sparks in the video to McCartney's 1980 hit, "Coming Up". I had not been aware of the video before, but in it, Paul (and Linda) McCartney green-screen themselves into a full band, including impressions of a couple real-life musicians -- among them, Ron Mael. "Ron" is the keyboadrist, on the right side, in a white shirt and black tie:
McCartney got the personality dead on, but looks like he chickened out a bit on the moustache. (Ron has a Chaplin 'stache, whereas Paul in the vid has merely a smallish one.)
Edit: Evan just hit me up with this gif from the vid:
So, my dude Rusty Shackles hit me up a few months ago, asking whether I'd be interested in contributing a beat for Beefy's upcoming EP, Bowling for Shiva. I'm only a passing fan of The League, the show it's a tribute to, but I love both Paul Scheer and Jason Mantzoukas. And who doesn't love Janina Gavankar, who plays Shiva?
I of course said yes.
The EP is embedded above, though you can go grab the whole thing on bandcamp for free. I produced the leading track, "Shivablast", and I added a little thing ("SKSK) at the end of the EP for fun. Go check it!
i worry sometimes that i like a style or genre generically, without having the refinement and/or education to be able to really discern good from bad within a context. kinda like when it comes to beer, i love IPAs, but i'm unsure whether i could really tell a good one from a bad one. honestly, though i've tried many many IPAs, i cant think of one i really don't like.
similarly, the above concert vid: is it a stellar performance from Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, or a middle-of-the-road one? i can't tell, though i'm enjoying it. i frankly don't know enough to be able to call it, like i can with Frank Zappa or Bill Laswell or someone like that. with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, i know i like the style of what he does, but i'd be hard pressed to name another qawwali artist that wasn't related to him, so clearly i don't know enough. in fact, a live cd i have of him, which is one of my favorites of his performances, was reviewed on amazon as being a relatively lackluster performance, not really worthy of note.
luckily, in cases like these, my catholic guilt is there to swing in and make me nervous. "is it racist that i just like it without assessing its quality?" "do i like it just because of what it is, and not how good it is?"
when i was younger, around my college years, i taped the Lonesome Pine Special that this came from. it was a time in my capricious music fandom youth where i was easily impressed by technical virtuosity, and thus was a sucker for the thing that Victor Wooten does.
this was cool, though, because it introduced me to Ray Brown, a titan of jazz, and Edgar Meyer, a guy who's done so much i don't even know how to classify him. the Wooten stuff hit my sweet spot at the time, but I'd continually go back watching Meyer, someone who had weirdly classical... stiffness? no, more like formality, where he'd sort of color inside the lines and then just furiously go all over the place in a controlled fashion, and then dart back like nothing. so cool.
to be honest, though, i do still dig the Wooten stuff, i just understand it's fromagete now. :P
I'm rewatching TRAINSPOTTING right now, which I've put on (mistakenly) as a bit of fluff in the background. Thing is, though, I can't just put it on. It's too big.
When I moved to Cincinnati in 1996, I didn't know what the fuck was going on. I'd just graduated from college, I had a useless bachelor's degree (Physics), and no prospects for a job. Even Bagel Brothers¹ wouldn't hire me. "Unqualified", they said. Among the most disgusting words you can hear, here in the first world².
This is one of the few times in my life I've experienced anything close to depression. I moped around my shared apartment, using up my meager savings to pay bills, and when that ran out, assured my roommates I'd pay them back as soon as I found a job³. Eventually, my sleep schedule rotated to where I was heading to bed at 8am, watching my rommate Adam play video games until 4 or so, then shitty Mtv shows after that.
Somewhere in that time, in late 1996, I saw Trainspotting. I saw it at the Esquire Theater, where the independent films play in the Cincinnati, and I immediately got a bit obsessed. In my recollection, I saw it the last day of its run at the Esquire, so my obsession from there was tough to fulfill.
I bought the Irvine Welsh novel a bit later, though after buying the screenplay⁴. The novel was, I discovered, a series of short stories. Later, once I'd owned and rewatched the videotape, this would explain the fact that the film had a few "false endings", places where it could end and conceivably make sense. I feel now like I must have read and reread the book, if not committing it to memory, then at least heavily denting my brain with its scenery and lexicon. I was (and still am, to a slight extent) fond of quoting the film, with my terrible American version of the brogue weighing heavily on those around me. Insufferable, I must have been.
I moved on a bit, consuming all of Welsh's books (loving particularly The Acid House and the last half of Marabou Stork Nightmares), and eventually using the brand-fucking-new auction website eBay to procure a PAL videotape of TRAINSPOTTING. The PAL would not, of course, play on my NTSC VCR, but this boasted not just 4 whole extras seconds⁵, but cut scenes⁶ from the film, along with all of the original dialog (some 45 minutes of thickly-accented dialog and UK idioms had purportedly been ADR'd for the US release). I'd found a local guy to convert it (though not cheaply), so I now had something to watch, constantly, to fuel my obsession.
It seems a bit funny, now, paying that much for the PAL video, then paying a second time for the conversion. Nowadays, of course, that version is easily available on the DVD (the Criterion edition, at least, which of course I now own), or via a torrent. Or even easier, what I'm doing now: I could just suck it up and hit up Netflix to watch the US release, slightly less accented dialog and all.
It was a favorite for much of my mid 20s, though later to be supplanted in its daily watching by High Fidelity. When I got a job at Buzz, a combination coffeeshop/used cd shop where I would work for six years, the film's soundtrack (along with its erstwhile sequel) was an early purchase, and when a second copy came in, I played the damn thing every other shift or so. Bands from the soundtrack that I'd not have ever given a second listen to prior (e.g., Sleeper) (and frankly, Blur and Pulp, too, sorry) became standouts, at least for the tunes on the disc. My initial exposure to Iggy Pop (other than the Carnival Cruise Lines commercial) and Lou Reed came about from this soundtrack. At one point, as my pickup truck only had a cassette player, I recorded the film's audio on a single 90-minute cassette. This not only reinforced my knowledge of the songs, but also pounded the dialog into my head, and incidentally, made any 90 minute drive just fly by.
Of course now, a dozen fuck I mean 16(!) years later, Ewan McGregor is big shit (Star Wars, Moulin Rouge, etc.), and my longtime crush at the time Kelly MacDonald (who's since married the bass player from the band Travis?) is starring in the newest Pixar film. Everyone I know has seen Trainspotting, and many love it, so I am by no means alone in my love of it. This film, though, was an integral and formative part of my connoisseurship of film, and a kickstarter of the broadening of my musical tastes. Additionally, it is (along with The Young Ones) one of the initial seeds of my heightened Anglophilia⁷, leading me later not only to the well-known such as Monty Python, but also to the more obscure (both more personally impactful) Chris Morris⁸ and the like.
So yeah. It's a big fucking deal to me.
¹ A local Bagel chain
² Hyperbole, this.
³ I would curse them later, for kicking me out. I don't blame them now; I wasn't in a good place, and it wasn't on them to save me.
⁴ A poor decision. I never really read it, I don't think.
⁵ For US release, two second were cut from the Renton injection scene (right before he descends into the floor), and two seconds were cut from Renton & Diane's sex schene, where she reaches between her legs, presumably to hold the condom, as she pulls off of Mark.
⁶ A common feature of laser-discs, and a soon-to-be staple of DVDs, but unknown to me at the time.
⁷ Anglophilia, in its broader sense of loving the UK, rather than strictly the English.
⁸ I could write tons about Chris Morris. Oh, for some free time.
I've been working a bit on a covers EP under my schädel alias, which I will likely share on Bandcamp. I likely will not be doing any Iron Maiden covers, so here are a couple from Bandcamp that you may enjoy.
Folks, hands down, my favorite venue in the general Cincinnati area is the Southgate House, just across the river in Newport. If you're FB friends or follow on twitter anyone in this area (or who's from this area), I'm sure you already have heard, but if not, here you go:
The closing of the Southgate House (at least its current location) is a major blow to the music scene. It's not just a favorite of locals, either: it's been ranked in national polls for the best music venues.
I'm not sure which show at the Southgate House was the first I attended -- I moved here in 1996, and for the first few years I lived here, I went to nearby (to my apartment) Bogart's. At that time, Bogart's was still booking some great bands (Porno for Pyros, for example, was my first show there), and it being in walking distance was a great incentive.
However, by the early 2000's I was hitting up SGH often. I didn't have a digital camera back then, so I don't have as much evidence of those shows as I do for later ones, and I don't have any ticket stubs to speak of either. Sad times.
I'm not the most eloquent when it comes to feelings, and SGH closing sure brings them up. I've seen performances by heroes and friends and heroes and friends and... yeah. So many.
And not only that, most, if not all, of the musical projects I've been involved with that have performed publicly have done so at least once at Southgate -- DJ Empirical, The Haywards, The Black Fives, Black Signal, Not Delicious, plus various one-offs for tribute shows and the like. Southgate House has supported local acts for years, and if they do continue elsewhere, I really hope they continue that. Plus, I've sung my fair share of karaoke songs in that parlour. :)
Shit, I've even dj'd a wedding there!
Anyway, While I've been writing this, I've been trying to remember some of the great bands I've seen there. Every time I think I've thought of all the biggest (as in, most important to me) ones, I think of more. Negativland, Ann Shenton, Buckethead, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Evolution Control Committee, Glue, Venetian Snares, John Waters, Mike Doughty, Cex, Hogscraper, Infinite Number of Sounds, Rasputina, Neil Hamburger, Grand Buffet, Sunn o))), Gil Mantera's Party Dream, Electric Six, Black Moth Super Rainbow, and on and on and on.
Anyway. I easily have about 1800 photos from there in my flickr stream. Here are some of them, and I'll put tons at the end of this post. Check them out, and then mark your calendar for 12/09/2011, which will be my last performance there, as a part of my band, Black Signal. We'll be releasing our first official music that night, a digital EP, in the same historic venue where we played our first show.
Be sure -- if they re-open somewhere else, I'll absolutely support them, especially if they continue to bring in excellent national acts and support excellent local acts. It definitely won't be the same, though.
Now pics. These are roughly in chronological order. You'll see my photography improve over the years; I have SGH to thank in part for that as well. There aren't many I kept from the last couple years, as I burnt myself out on photography in 2009, and I'm just recently getting back into it.
The Black Fives, 2004.
This was before I was a member, when it was still Gabe's solo thing.
DJ Empirical, 2004.
This was at the first 80's Pop Rocks, a tribute to the 80s (thus the outfit)
So, I am resuming the tradition i started years ago of having a big show on or around my birthday, in order to have a few of my friends all on one bill. This time, though, I've upped the ante by getting the amazing Rusty Shackles to do the design for both the poster (above) and the handbill (forthcoming).
If you click on the poster above, or visit the link [a] at the bottom of this post, you'll be directed to the Facebook event.
Ok, so I'm going on a clinic to India with a charity organization called OneSight. This is not in a "dj" capacity, but I figured I'd mention it here, since donations to OneSight fund these trips. It's happening rather soon (end of February), so if you can spare a few dollars now, that'd be great.
Any amount is appreciated!
Here's the link:
Since there's not much time left, I thought I'd sweeten the pot: if I hit my goal of $500, I'll make a mixtape* especially for the three highest donors, customized to their music tastes. I'll even keep the mix private, if the donors prefer, so that they'll have an exclusive DJ Empirical mix that's in the possession of no one else!
*Please note: The term "mixtape" here does not expressly mean a cassette tape; it merely means a longform dj-mix of music, similar to ones I've done in the past. However, if you donate enough, I could be convinced to record the mix on an actual cassette and mail it to you, and I'll even do custom artwork. ;)
It's a great cause (check out their site), and it's a great opportunity for me, so I'd really appreciate your donation.
UPDATE: I reached my (admittedly modest) goal -- but you can still help. My plane ticket alone was way more than this.
Remember, you could get a unique mixtape if you're one of the top 3 bidders!
UPDATE 2: I was a little off on the goal timing -- apparently I have all 2011 to get my donations. I've committed to the mixes, and for sure I'll do them, since I reached my initial goal. However, I've raised my goal to $1200, so please, if you'd still like to contribute, do so. You can still get a mixtape if you are one of the top three donors at the end of the year!