Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Be My Valentine and I'll Return Your Hungry Cat ~Jeff Buckley

In 2000, an angel captured my soul. His melodious voice stopped in literally in my tracks. In a matter of hours, I found a voice that I had never heard, a soul that seemed timeless, and an angel lost in the waters of the Mississippi on May 29, 1997.

I cannot tell you why Jeff occupies my soul and my dreams. Maybe it is the sadness in his eyes, his four-octave vocal range, or the sad fairy tale story of both Buckley's: Jeff and his father, Tim. His voice is haunting, his words foreboding:
 And I couldn't awake from the nightmare that sucked me in and pulled me under
Pulled me under

Jeff loved music. It is so evident in the only album he released, Grace. Music shaped his being, his soul, and his dreams. Even the cover of Grace, shot by the talented Merri Cyr, Jeff chose what would become the cover of the album because he could see he was listening to music.
The loss of Jeff left us with so many questions. What would have become of this special man that Bono called  a pure drop in an ocean of noise? Would the popularity destroyed the purity and soul of this chanteur? He experimented horribly with fame when he went out on a date with Courtney Love. It didn't mix well with Jeff. Writing on demand didn't work for him. What did work for him was writing music for Jeff and playing with his band.
We will never know what seventeen years would have given us. We can only listen and remember, that purity, that innocence, a life full of dreams lost in an instant.  
With each stroke, Jeff inched more and more into the river. Foti noticed and said, :"Come in, you're gettin' too far out." Instead, Jeff began singing Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love." Dream Brother David Browne

Courtesy Marie Jerome

Friday, May 16, 2014

My Bias for Petyr Baelish aka My Fascination with the Actor Aidan Gillen

Courtesy Other Voices RTE

Brothels make a much better investment than ships, I find – whores rarely sink
 ~Lord Petyr Baelish

You don't realize you've seen him before until someone points it out. Hello, I'm someone.
A while back I posted about my love affair with Stuart Alan Jones - Aidan's character on the 1999 show Queer as Folk UK http://paulasmusicjourney.blogspot.com/2014/01/my-love-affair-with-stuart-alan-jones.html

Aidan Gillen is one of the most superb actors that I have been enchanted with since I first saw him in 1995's  Circle of Friends. By the way this movie also stars Alan Cumming and Colin Firth. Cute actor I was smitten with. But then I saw how good of an actor he really was when I saw Some Mother's Son.

The film is the story of the 1981 Hunger Strike in Northern Ireland. Aidan, along with (swoon) David O'Hara, play IRA prisoners who embark on the hunger strike with their comrades, while their mother's are caught between honoring what their sons want and keeping their sons alive.

The Wire - yes, he played Tony Carcetti, the cheating, idealistic,  fast- tracking politician Mayor Carcetti in the critically acclaimed HBO drama.

Mr John is about a  very dark and sad journey that Aidan's character, Gerry, goes on in his deceased brother's home in Singapore.

You might have seen Mr. Gillen gracing the screen in The Dark Knight Rises,  his brilliantly quiet performance in Shadow Dancer, his outstanding portrayal of an eccentric man in Treacle Jr, Identity, and more recently, in Beneath the Harvest Sky. The most dramatic change from his Irish boy cuteness, has to be his portrayal of Irish politician Charles Haughey in the three part mini-series. With over 37 films 26 tv shows leads or appearances, and 19 theatre productions to his name, he's earned the reputation of being a tremendously great actor that is able to morph into any type of character from a medieval Lord to a drug smuggling divorced father from Maine.  His penchant seems to be characters with secrets, eccentric traits, and he plays evil, dark characters with frightening perfection.

So this brings us to Game of Thrones. Yes, Petyr Baelish is an evil, conniving, jealous, back stabbing medieval pimp who worships the daughter of the woman he could not have. What's so wrong about me having a little soft spot for the guy?

And how is any of Aidan Gillen relevant to my music blog? He has been hosting the weekly Irish music show, Other Voices. It's like a visual version of Fordham University's WFUV. They film live, local artists at Dingle's St. James Church. What I love about the show is that it not only introduces you to new artists that you probably would not see here in the states for a year or so, but it showcases how much the Irish love their music.

AND ... he also "stars" along with a snail and a hurt fox in Sigur Ros' Ekki Mukk video.
Hope you have enjoyed this! And of course, enjoy more of my weekly sympathy posts towards Petyr Baelish.
And thank you to Jen and Alison who inspired me to throw this post together.
Jen: Paula, I think you're the only person who feels sympathy for Peter
Paula: I think you're right. It's like having sympathy for Judas, isn't it?
Jen: I dunno. At least Judas was fulfilling a predestined biblical role. This might be worse

Monday, May 12, 2014

"I'll Be Your Muse"

Photo by Merri Cyr

I want to be ripped apart by music. I want it to be something that feeds and replenishes, or that totally sucks the life out of you. I want to be dashed against the rocks

Jeff Buckley was the purity that the music industry needed in the early 90's . He was raw, emotional, talented and vulnerable. For those lucky ones to have seen him perform at Sin-e, it must have been magic. He was a perfectionist - keeping so many recordings to himself only to be found after his untimely passing 17 years ago . All of those recordings remastered by others - would they have been good enough for him?

Photo by Merri Cyr
Jeff was becoming a star - much probably to his dismay. His desire was to be an artist. However, this artist was being talked about by those he called inspirations - Paul McCartney, Robert Plant, and Jimmy Page.

Where would he be today? With the world in such disarray - misconstrued values and the state of music in an odd place - would he be at the forefront of the few who have their own ideas and visions of sound?

I never saw him perform - I can only live vicariously through what videos exist of him. Yes - he haunted me in my dreams - and he is welcome back at any time - for Jeff has a place in my life. When I listen to his music, I am taken back to the shores of Australia. I can taste the bitter heartbreak of a naive love, smell the eucalyptus in the early morning and feel the hot sun on those salty ocean days. He transports me to a memory and a time when YouTube didn't exist and visions are captured only in my mind.

Seventeen years ago, on May 29th the Mississippi took the soul of a musician and offered his body to the shore at Beale Street - as a last testament to the musician he had become maybe. When I walk past St. Anne's in the morning, I imagine Jeff singing at the memorial for his father all those years ago. Jeff was a Wished for Song.

You're song
A Wished for Song
Go through the ear to the center
where sky is, where wind, where silent knowing.
Put seeds and cover them.
Blades will sprout
where you do your work.
~Jelaluddin Rumi

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Let's Hear it for the Boy

I don't remember exactly how it all started, but somehow, Boy George became a part of my life very early on -like when I was six. And I have to say, it might have been Boy George and Culture Club that began my music obsession. Kissing to be Clever and Colour by Numbers were on constant play. It wasn't just the Karma Chameleon and Tumble 4 Ya that I liked, it was my first experience of reggae - songs like Love Twist exposed me to something I had never heard before.

But I also have to say that because no one, even my veteran, old school father, did not stop me from listening to someone who was so ahead of his time. This cross-dressing, gay enigma was not banned from my room or my ears. To my parents, I thank you. To my sister who had to listen to the 45 of That's the Way every single morning ... yeah, sorry about that. But you know, he was on the A-Team and yes, that is my favorite episode of all time. 

While Culture Club went away, Boy went out on his own and continued in the reggae, jazz, and even ventured into DJing. Songs like The Crying Game, Bow Down Mister, and Sweet Toxic Love replaced the pop-esque 80's George. After some incidents he'd like to forget, he's come out looking better than ever with credit to practicing Nichiren Buddhism and his adoption of a vegan / raw lifestyle. Even the sound on his new album is full of energy, great lyrics, and his voice sounds timeless.

Hearing that Boy George was going to play Irvin Plaza, of course I was going. Was that ever a question? I did hope that most people would understand it would not be a Culture Club show. They did. Apparently, according to George himself, we were the best crowd he had in the few shows he had already done.

After the DJ got us in dancing mode, George appeared looking fit, sounding soulful, and was as sarcastic yet kind as ever. His new lifestyle was really paying off. Throughout the show, he would blow kisses, wave at people, and chit chat with the crowd.  Every now and then he would remind those who did shout out old Culture Club songs, that they would be disappointed. That constantly reminiscing and being nostalgic wasn't good for the soul. But, if we behaved ourselves we would get some surprises.

He did not disappoint. The surprises were numerous covers including George Harrison, Lou Reed, and Bob Dylan. He re-touched Karma Chameleon and Do You Really Want to Hurt Me beautifully into reggae and jazz, with some hints of the classics we all listened to on MTV. His new songs from the album This is What I Do were well received and show a much more mature and respectful George. His songs, King of Everything, My God, and Nice and Slow deserve more airplay - so go ahead and take a listen sometime soon.
Now, two songs for me were stellar. First, Bow Down Mister was a Hare Krishna Baptist revival. Once everyone got moving, jumping, swaying, and chanting Hare Krishna, there was an energy I have never felt at a show with everyone in the crowd. Usually you get a few to participate, but everyone was into this song.

Second, a song that for some reason I did not have on my iPod: Victims. As soon as I heard it begin, the lyrics came back to me instantly. It is a  haunting song and it was just as if I was in my room and I was eight years old again. At one part, where there is one loud drum beat and then it cascades into the back up vocalist and the horns, I remember putting my hands up to my mouth in awe and crying. YES! I cried. This sort of sad song, brought back a happy memory and made me even happier that I was there, almost thirty years later, seeing the very person who taught me about love, music, and being myself. 
As I said before, throughout the show, George would interact with the crowd, a kiss, a wave, something to let them know he was paying attention and grateful for them being so supportive. Now, I am going to swear that he pointed at me - but you be the judge - this isn't my video, I'm just glad I found it.  (here is the link - go to 2:40  

In all, it was better than I expected. If you had told me when I was six years old that I would still have the same excitement, enjoyment, and still know every word to every song, I probably would have that concept is pretty cool. I'm thankful that I have been able to discover musicians that have longevity and want more than to be a recycle of their past. 
(c) PMCarlson 2014
Set List
  • King of Everything
  • Death of Samantha (Yoko Ono cover)
  • Any Road (George Harrison cover)
  • My God
  • Feel the Vibration
  • Love and Danger 
  • Live Your Life
  • Bigger Than War
  • Nice and Slow
  • My Star
  • It's Easy
  • It Ain't Me Babe  (Bob Dylan cover)
  • Satellite Of Love  (Lou Reed cover)
  • You'll Lose a Good Thing (Barbara Lynn cover)
  • Turn On a Little Light for Me
  • Church of the Poison Mind
  • Encore:
  • Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? 
  • Everything I Own
  • Karma Chameleon 
  • Get It On (T. Rex cover)
  • Bow Down Mister
  • Encore 2:
  • Play Me
  • Victims
  • Make You Feel My love

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Ultimate Gypsy Punk Experience - Gogol Bordello

You've heard me mention them a few times: Gogol Bordello. Just what the hell is Gogol Bordello anyway? Well, I am here to set you straight.
While backstage at Bonnaroo in 2008, I was thrown into the world of Gypsy Punk.
Saturday was a day of new bands and performers I had never seen play live. I was able to see Little Feat and Levon Helm in The Other Tent. In the band lounge with Dino, I kept on asking who was playing outside on the Which Stage. I didn't know who Gogol Bordello was but I was determined to find out. I was not prepared for insane time that would follow. Gogol Bordello are a gypsy punk band with members from everywhere. They play, what my friend has deemed, hard rock polka. Their jams are contagious. Fiddles, girls in red spandex banging drums and cymbals, a lead singer straight from the Ukraine via the lower east side, accordions (this was like the year of accordions, I swear). I began to dance with a kid from Manchester Michigan. It felt like we were flying as we attempted to keep up with the music. At one point, he looked at his watch and proclaimed: I think we broke time. My watch isn't working. I went back stage as soon as they were done to share with Billy and Dino my new favorite band. Dino (the drummer)was in an all out Guitar Hero dual and Billy was talking to a writer for High Times Magazine. I wanted to move to Bonnaroo!

I have never looked back since. But WHO are Gogol Bordello? Their named derived from famed Ukrainian author Nikolai Gogol and a word that means brothel, Gogol Bordello is a Gypsy Punk band from New York City's Lower East Side. Formed in 1999, it's current and past members are as diverse as their songs.

Lead singer and pied piper Eugene Hutz is the son of Ukrainian musician and half Roma mother. The gypsy behind the punk, Eugene champions the plight of the gypsies.

Back Up Singer / Percussionist Chinese - Scottish Bad Ass Elizabeth Sun is the only girl in the band but she packs a punch. She sings and plays the cymbals ... and the first I saw her she was wearing red spandex.
Sergey Ryabtsev is a Russian bear of  power and the brawn behind the violin that gives us the Ennio Morricone-esque backbone of these songs.
Pedro Erazo hails from Ecuador and is a lively guy, known to crowd surf on his drum while rapping. He recently broke and arm doing said crowd surfing. And that is me down there in the crowd at Webster Hall.
Tommy T is an Ethipoian wonder on the bass. This is the bass that hold everything together - the accordion, the violin, the crazy dancing.
Oliver Charles (drums) and Michael Ward (guitar) are both USA natives and carry the band through some quick paced, jump worthy solos.
And last but certainly not least, the accordion players (and I love accordion players). Yuri Lemeshev was the original accordion player for Gogol and was recently replaced by Pasha Newmer. Growing up in a polka loving, Slovak family, the love for the accordion player is akin to my love for the bass player. It's what makes the gypsy punk, gypsy.
They have seven albums under their belt since 1999. Heavy on the violin, drum and accordion, their songs deal with the serious - nationalism and hate; to the funny and inane - think WEARING PURPLE.
Their albums in order of release:

  • Voi-La Intruder 
  • Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony
  • Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike
  • Super Taranta!
  • Live from Axis Mundi
  • Trans-Continental Hustle
  • Pura Vida Conspiracy

  • Pura Vida has to be their most comprehensive album to date. While I love all of their albums, songs such as Not a Crime, Ultimate, and Hats Off to Kolpakoff, their songs on Pura Vida (or Pure Life) are progressive gypsy punk. And again the songs are not only upbeat in tempo, but also in message. Songs like Dig Deep Enough, and It is the Way You Name Your Ship are empowing songs about moving along on your own journey, even if it doesn't take you exactly where you want to be at first. Malandrino is a typical happy Gogol song on the album.
    Why do I think it's the best album yet? Each song is different. It's got a different vibe and message. The album feels like Eugene is at a apoint in his life where he is stopping to review where he has been and charting a course for the future journey.
    And I love Gogol Bordello much that I have not only travelled to see them, but I have spent numerous New Year's Eve celebrations with them. Their live shows are nothing but energy. Warning to you first timers: if you go front row, be prepared to dance, mosh, be swept up in a wave of people, and possibly wear red wine. It's a global music celebration.