Monday, November 17, 2008

Oceanic Rhythm

I applaud the innovative use of tap-dancing (with strong influence from English clogging) as transitional material during the National Theatre of Great Britain's "The Waves." Did Virginia Woolf enjoy a spot of hoofing? Can't say I know the deeper significance of the bright foot-clicks between scenes. But I didn't understand the rest of it either, although I enjoyed having it all wash over me, like...well...waves!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Happy Birthday, CdB!!

In my freshman year of college, I lived in the dorms. I hated that social scene, and was overwhelmed by all the new experiences and busy schedule. My pillar of calm, my musical eucalyptus, was Chris de Burgh. I set my cassette boombox to wake me up with Man on the Line or The Getaway most mornings.

Today Chris is turning 60. I wish him a long, healthy life, and offer him thanks for all the years of musical companionship.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Paul Taylor Dance Company has lost the lease in its long-time SoHo studio. A big clothing retailer is moving in at triple the rent or something. That's good, because there's a shortage of clothing stores in New York City, but we're simply over-run by dance troupes.

I propose that all the cool artists and arts organizations stage a protest together, and relocate to Piscataway. NY doesn't seem to appreciate them anymore.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Chin Cello

Lawrence Power is my new favorite string player. OK, Lynn Harrell will always really be my favorite [shown here grilling his manager about this "Lawrence Power" guy], but among instruments one can play under one's chin, Power's got the prize for now. This is probably because he makes his viola sound like a cello in depth and character, yet he has the controlled articulation and dexterity of a great violinist.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Welcome to the Future

The NY Philharmonic has finally entered the 21st century, and is allowing ticket-buyers to design their own subscriptions, combining any performances, any dates, and any price ranges, as long as you see three or more things. I've been waiting for this for about 12 years, which is how long it's been since I last subscribed to the NYPhil.

Just now I purchased a ticket to each of four things that I definitely want to see, at times when I can definitely go, yet I am considered a subscriber. How civilized!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

In Flip-Flops on Fifth Avenue

Happy Birthday, Rufus! Looking forward to your next 35 years of songs, albums, concerts, operas, musicals, filmscores, and whatever else you'd care to try your hand at. Wishing you nothing but health and happiness, sparkles and stars!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Engine Driver

During a pre-Brits interview, the band called The Editors arrogantly described Mika's music as "like driving into a pile of marshmallows." Now Mika has won the Ivor Novello for Songwriter of the Year. Odd, The Editors were not mentioned at this year's Ivors... And I'll bet none of them is cool enough to wear a watermelon hat.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Little Dmitri Lost His Socks

Gustavo Dudamel has the delicate hands of a wood nymph and the musical mind of Apollo and Dionysus in one. What did he do to Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony with the London Philharmonia this season?

He blew its socks off. That's what he did.

To paraphrase Shaft, I got a duty to hear that Dudi. Bring 'im on!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Farewell, Michael

I'm two years late getting this news, a sure indication of how out of step I am with the Irish folk community at this point in my life. I wish to acknowledge my fond memories of Michael O'Domhnaill, brilliant guitarist and singer, who died at his home in Donegal in 2006.

He was a great inspiration to me in years gone by, as was his sister, Triona, although I drifted away when they delved deeply into the New Age movement.
While most famous for playing dances on the guitar with Kevin Burke or other friends on fiddles and flutes, Michael had an astonishing gift for choosing and unraveling the most intricate and unusual stories in song, especially historical ballads. His recordings of "Lord Franklin" and "Death of Queen Jane" stop my breath every time I hear them.

He's shown here in a photo from Irish Fest in Milwaukee in the 1980s, where I used to hear him play every summer with Kevin Burke. Slainte, Michael.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Yes, I Know It's Not True

This summer, Nelson Mandela is turning 90. One of the greatest leaders the world has ever known is a huge rock fan, and rumors are swirling about what this year's festivities will be. My favorite of those is one posted this week on Queenzone:

Robbie Williams, dressed as Freddie, will perform with Queen.

I know, I know, there's no chance. But it's fun to imagine.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Old Is the New Young

Mick's skin is like hand-tooled leather, but his pelvis is hot to trot.

Keith's hands are like the trunks of banyan trees, but he can still pull the blues out of his ax.

Ronnie may be scrawny, but he sure do make that slide weep.

Charlie could be your neighbor's grandpa, but his sticks are still sweet.

By gum, they're still the genu-ine Rolling Stones! Thanks Martin Scorsese, for capturing them in a film can while they're ONLY in their sixties. Nice!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

One Hump or Two?

Greenpeace recently invited Imogen Heap to sing a few songs at a benefit in Beijing, since she was on tour in Asia anyway. Off she went. I mention this merely as an excuse to show this wonderful picture of Imogen with a Chinese camel.
Oh, Miz Heap is working on her next album; this means, as usual, she is locked away in the studio for several months, and friends push food trays to her under the door. Look forward to hearing it, Techno-Fairie!

Sunday, March 9, 2008


John Dryden wrote the play King Arthur, and Henry Purcell wrote 90 minutes of orchestral and vocal music for it, turning it into a masque. Mark Morris, whose soul seems to have traveled across time from the Baroque, tossed John Dryden's play out the window, and has presented only Purcell's music as a ballet with singing that he calls King Arthur.

The Morris project is certainly not a masque, or an opera, or a musical, nor does it have a story. Um, nor does it now involve the character King Arthur in any way. The Times of London called it an "entertainment." That's precisely the term. Whatever it is, it's delightful; just don't expect any element of 17th-century theater.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Ditto Ditto

Those of us lowly Yanks across the pond from the "real" music scene finally get a chance to watch the Brit Awards on BBC America this weekend. I mostly look forward to seeing Mika's duet with the HUGELY naughty Beth Ditto from The Gossip.
I mostly don't look forward to seeing Rufus not win International Male Solo Artist. Yeah, great, another trophy for Kanye. Maybe now he can afford glasses with lenses in them. What kind of contest puts Rufus and Kanye in the same category, anyway??

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

International Harmony

I got a bit teary watching the PBS broadcast of the NY Philharmonic's historic concert in North Korea. Congratulations to all parties for letting this happen, and making it such a success. It was especially fun to see Maazel conduct "American in Paris," and eventually give in to the need to boogie on the podium, which is not at all his style. Apparently the ghost of Bernstein took over at that moment.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pay Attention to the Beat

The pop world's most underrated drummer: Alex Van Halen. Go ahead, find a classier rock percussion performance than he gives on "Hot for Teacher." Yeah, you go ahead...

Speaking of those underappreciated on the skins, how very lame that the Grammys only got around to giving Max Roach a Lifetime Achievement Award now that his life has come to an end.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Fabulous Faye

For no particular reason (besides the fact that I happened to hear a track by her this morning), I say Cheers! to the memory of Frances Faye (1913-1991). Faye was a fine and funny, randy-dandy cabaret singer who, long before it was fashionable or even safe, was as out a lesbian as could be imagined in her time. She would even switch pronouns in love songs to suit her preference. Listen to her chew the furniture on the L-Word Season 1 sound track.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Turn to Tuneful Tweets

Thanks to Radiohead for posting a link to this fascinating website. It features all of Olivier Messiaen's birdsong notations in Midi files, plus recordings of the actual birdsongs. A labor of love for some French fan/ornithologist, obviously:

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Some Things Are Worth the Wait

Finally saw Rufus' little acoustic solo tour on its final night, with his charming younger sister Lucy Wainwright-Roche as opening act.

The show was pared down beyond belief, by RW standards: only two mics (one at the piano, one for standing with guitar); no special guests, no costumes, no mad lighting, no audience-members pulled up onto the stage, no 6-piece back-up band, no gigantic German boyfriend hoisting Rufus to his shoulders for the finale.

It was just Rufus unprotected, baring his miraculous talents, thrilling his worshippers in the most intimate, personal way possible from a stage. We even loved him when exhaustion made his memory of lyrics a tad scrappy. Such a delight. That show could have gone on for seven hours, and it would not have been long enough.