The search for your funky Christmas soundtrack is over 4 ever. Listen here.
Booty Claus is here, baby.
Thanks to Kevin Emmert for the bootylicious shout out.
This has been stuck in my head for two days. Now it’s your turn.
Begone, David Byrne! Go play your endless new wave loop in someone else’s head bone!
Via The Mercury.
Man, I loved this guy, and rode past him every day on my way over the Hawthorne bike path.
According to Street Roots:
Even if you don’t know him, you know him. He of the white tuxedo, the Mickey Mouse hat, planted next to a pull cart full of toys and gadgets that defy graceful description — and a cornet, the top prop in his menagerie, a mere sampling of what he has at home. In a flourish, Reeves pops open a large expandable ball, swings it around in a circle or two, and then collapses it back to the size of a soccer ball. It’s a signature move. The wow-them-in-10-seconds opener to an act that includes a 4-second puppet show for the kids, a miniature magic trick and an optional three-toss juggle finale. All of this squeezed in between the on-ramp serenade he gives drivers as they creep into Hawthorne’s rush-hour traffic.
Rest well, my friend. Memorial page here.
This kid has chops… as does the man who filmed this rare bit of future virality.
Simple awesomeness From YouTuber PatrickBoivin.
As the latest in the continuing Sparking Creativity series, I’m pleased to present an exclusive interview with one of my oldest friends. Shawn (aka Shawnothan, Shawnzabar, Shang Pav, and After Avalanche) and I grew up together in the coastal hills of western Oregon. His formidable musical talents are becoming increasingly appreciated in Portland’s indie scene. Today, Shawn shares about non-musical inspiration, the pros and cons of the internet for musicians, and what happens when a song… isn’t happening. You can find Shawn on Facebook, Twitter, and various other online spaces. Be sure to download his recent Symptoms EP from Noisetrade, and leave him a tip.
Paul: What’s it like to be a musician in the Day of the Internet? What are the boons or challenges in relation to online distribution or promotion?
I have definitely discovered tricks to engaging a wider audience online. Noisetrade has to be my favorite. Without them, I would not have the fan base I have today, and it continues to grow because of that site. For other musicians out there, Tunecore is the definitive place to release an album online for sale and streaming services both.
Big picture now. What drives you to create?
Sometimes its boredom. Sometimes it’s pain. Other times its just from excitement or whims of inspiration. I can’t go a day without doing something creative. Rather than talk about the emotions I am feeling in any given situation, I like to grab hold of the most prominent illuminating thought and turn it into a song or some other work of art. It isn’t always something worth sharing with the world, but it’s a way of life for me. Much like some people keep a journal, or a twitter account…
I’m happy to share a great piece by a great friend; scholar, musician and co-conspirator of shenanigans, Kevin Emmert. Kevin’s recent Christianity Today article traces the spiritual threads of popular new-folk rockers Mumford & Sons, and does it with style.
Last month, some 15,000 fans gathered in a small Illinois town, surrounded by miles of cornfields, for what was ostensibly a day-long music festival. But most of us who had come to Dixon, Illinois, for the third stop in the American Gentlemen of the Road tour weren’t there for the seven bands who whiled away the day. We were there for the headliners: the prodigious folk quartet known as Mumford & Sons.
After nearly six hours of musical performances, the time had come. The sun was set, the stage was black. Streams of tiny light bulbs were strung over the lawn, from the sound booth to the stage. But like the audience, they had yet to be electrified by the impending performance. At once, people could be seen on stage, and with the sound of a syncopated acoustic guitar, the crowd erupted in cheer as they recognized the opening chords to “Little Lion Man.” The roar of the crowd colliding with the music put me more at the scene of a victory celebration after battle than a folk festival.
Read Kevin’s full piece here. Much more thoughtful goodness after the jump.
Been office-dancing to this spicy and energetic EP, the former (2009) project of a friend’s former bandmate (now of Doctor). Five track album streams here or is available to download from Bandcamp should you so desire. Have fun.
Shout out to gentleman/scholar/beatmaster/beastmaster Kevin the Emmert for the heads up.
Enjoy this unusual portrait of my biggest musical man-crush, the venerable Nick Cave. Iconic image is the cover of The Boatman’s Call.
Cassette art by Erika Iris Simmons. More portraits can be found here.
“…She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were tumbling toward heaven.
There were whole companies of white trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and Claud, had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right. Read the rest of this entry »
Watch this, and tremble before a prophet with an accordion.
My third favorite actor.
I’m proud to bring you a fantastic homebrewed album from one of my best friends in the whole bloody world: Warren DeLaney. We recorded this a few years ago, with a talented group of our Portland friends. I made some contributions in concept, writing, production, and background vocals.
It’s a wrenching breakup album from a ridiculously talented musician. Anger, hurt, confusion, and resignation all pool together in the end for “Crooked” – an 8 minute track of beautiful, folksy redemption. I still can’t make it through the last track with dry eyes.
I will not comment on the amount of rum and bourbon that may have been consumed during the months that we wrote, rewrote, and recorded Qohelet (pronounced “co-hell-ET”). Just know that we soaked it well in hard liquor, manly weeping, and the gray Oregon rain.
Make time to listen to it in a single sitting if you can. If you can’t, start with “Winter.”
Free download via Noisetrade. You can stream full previews, too. Go get it now, and leave DeLaney a tip if you can.
Physical album for purchase at CD Baby.
Please enjoy this extremely rare piece of cinematic ephemera: an original program from the London premiere of Fritz Lang’s masterpiece, Metropolis.
Full high-res scans here, courtesy of The Cataloguer’s Desk.
Much more after the jump. Some fine memorabilia from one of my favorite films, a footprint left by Lang’s crashing automaton of light and shadow.
Drew: My mother saw my creative spirit at an early age and encouraged my father to enroll with me in a carving class at University of Anchorage Alaska (UAA) in 1997 when I was 14. We had the great opportunity to learn from an Inupiaq master carver, Joe Senunegtuk, and tool maker Bob Shaw. I learned a great deal about form and design from Joe. This opportunity opened my eyes to the significance of my Native heritage. This launched my career as a mask carver.
What is the relationship between tradition and innovation in your carvings?
Native culture is so focused on tradition. I have learned a great deal about the importance of learning and protecting the origins of cultural expression through language, art, dance, and social construction of communities. My work blends traditional and contemporary design and use of Inupiaq and Yupik masks. Becoming a mask carver has been a process of looking at pieces made by masters of many eras. I have looked at many pieces and learned their uses and materials used in construction.
Typically older pieces have been carved with hand tools such as bent knives and small drills held in the mouth and hands. The pieces are created using drift wood and organic materials such as feathers, bone, ivory, and natural pigments found in berries and earthen materials. My work is a fusion of these more organic materials and things collected in the urban environment. I collect materials at local stores and junk yards, or from friends who have found objects that are no longer useful to them.
Just because it is incredible, here’s my song of the day. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ “Hiding All Away,” from Abattoir Blues / The Lyre of Orpheus.
Yes, my obsession with Nick Cave is reaching embarrassing heights. Deal with it.
“Some of us we hide away
Some of us we don’t
Some will live to love another day
And some of us won’t
But we all know there is a law
And that law, it is love
And we all know there’s a war coming
Coming from above
There is a war coming…”
Though Andrew Rose Gregory (better known for his role in auto-tuned Youtube hits like “Bed Intruder” and “The Double Rainbow Song“) released The Song of Songs last September, this indie effort’s recent promotion on Noisetrade has brought it much deserved attention in the past week or so.
Gregory’s lush interpretation of the Song of Solomon is a quiet masterpiece, offering a cohesive musical experience while avoiding the thematic claustrophobia that often dogs concept albums. It makes for a gentle Americana opera, wedding ancient lovers’ lyrics to an array of tasteful folk instrumentation and vocal harmony.
You can listen to or purchase the album here. It’s well worth it, as strong as a tower, as lush as En-Gedi, as beautiful as an army with banners.
Ray Bradbury, weaver of words and worlds died last night in Southern California. He was 91.
Bradbury’s incredible volume of work is rivaled by very few authors in the 20th century for its originality, breadth of vision, and sense of humor. Whether science fiction, small town Americana, ghost tales, satire, or the painting of dystopian futures, Bradbury was born to make stories, and make them he did. His literary and cultural legacy will be a long one.
I remember many long summer afternoons spent with his short stories, walking with him through the future, through the past, through the red, crumbling pillars of Mars. Friends, he was a grand magician.
Obit from the AP is here.
New to Bradbury? It doesn’t get better than The Martian Chronicles.
From a very talented trio comes a quietly brilliant project on humanity, divinity, and the singularity. Derek Webb, broad synth loops, some lovely melodic hooks, and Ray Kurzweil all make enjoyable appearances. Free download here.
While I still don’t quite understand the ABSURD AURA OF TWITTERFIED MYSTERY surrounding this project, the music is really very good, both as a semi-ambient foray into collaborative electronica, and as a soundtrack commissioned for a film that I am not entirely sure exists. Perhaps I’ve not been paying close enough attention. Or perhaps I have. (For an overview of the clever puzzles leading up to the project’s launch read here). Read the rest of this entry »
Comes complete with Southern drawl, audience laughter, and the inexorable suggestion of a wry smile and horn rimmed glasses in the midst of murder, misfits, and wrong, wrong turns.
Sparks and Ashes is pleased to share this piece from writer and teacher Christopher Gaumer.
Christopher J. Gaumer writes humor and creative non-fiction. A graduate of Hamline University’s MFA in creative writing program in 2009, Gaumer has published in Ruminate Magazine, Rain Taxi Review and Rock, Paper, Scissors. Currently, Gaumer teaches graduate and undergraduate creative writing at Liberty University where he also works as the executive editor of the literary publication LAMP.
His blog, I’M PUMPED ABOUT EVERYTHING, can be found at http://cgaumerink.wordpress.com/.
MALE PATTERN ESTROGEN
When I was seven years old, I trespassed into my sisters’ room, opened their closet, picked out a dress, and put it on. Well, most of it. What kindergarten had failed to teach me was that God made girls more flexible for a reason: so they might reach around and zip up a dress on their own. Without instructions or a shoebox diorama, I was up the creek.
“Oh come on!” I muttered. Read the rest of this entry »
Just last week, Sparks and Ashes featured musician Jonathan Rundman in the “Sparking Creativity” interview series (you can read his fantastic responses here).
Today, good friend and music aficionado Anthony Ashley reviews Rundman’s recently released 20 song retrospective album.
Whether it be semi-obscure Christian holidays, the human condition, death or theology, Jonathan Rundman’s songs deal with big ideas that matter. Rundman has just released a self-titled, twenty-track, retrospective album drawing from four of his albums released over the last decade and including new works and remixes.
The first song that really stood out to this writer is called Librarian. Being an incorrigible librophile, the song quickly found it’s way into my heart. In this librarian’s autobiography Rundman sings,
“I bring order out of chaos I shine light into the dark
because power comes from knowledge just like fire from a spark
Like Gutenberg and Luther with press and pen in hand
I take the message to the masses in a form they understand”
It’s at this point in the album I realize, this guy is smart and actually has something to say.
This morning over at Christianity Today‘s entertainment blog, I review Bobcat Goldthwait’s recently released film “God Bless America.” It’s a bang, a miss and a hit all at the same time.
Satire is a loaded gun. In the hands of a skilled marksman, it is an effective weapon. When wielded by an amateur, it is dangerous.
When aimed by acclaimed filmmaking iconoclast Bobcat Goldthwait, well, everyone had better dive for cover.
In his new black comedy God Bless America, now playing in limited theaters, Goldthwait wages a vigilante vendetta against the worst elements of the pop-modern American lifestyle. The title is pure irony, twisting the patriotic phrase to highlight the moral and cultural shallowness of our national consciousness. The film is a bleak and bloody fever-dream of suppressed rage. In the middle of the cultural carnage, however, lingers a profound question: What’s a thoughtful person to do when confronted with the banal insanity of a selfish and shallow culture? Read the rest of this entry »