Folk

Story Behind the Setlist: The Swell Season — April 2008, Oakland, CA

My fondest memories revolve around live music.

That statement may mean nothing to you, but to me, it’s everything. See, my memory is not what it used to be. (Of course, how would I know?)

Maybe my memory was always lousy. Maybe I didn’t eat enough pistachios as a kid. I’m not trying to be melodramatic; I don’t think there’s anything medical going on. The truth is that my friends will reminisce, or my wife will remind me of some place we visited a few years back. I will eventually recall, but the memories must be coaxed, primed. It’s like turning a page in a novel with two pages stuck together: I just need a minute to get them unstuck.

But music? Now that’s something my memory can get behind!

SIDE NOTE: My theory is that since everyone around me has always had amazing memories, I never felt it necessary to encode much to long-term. I saved this brain power for much more important things, like charming women and learning guitar.

Concerning concerts, I can tell you who I’ve seen, how many times I’ve seen ‘em, and which song stuck out the most. I can hack any musical memory and transport myself back to the venue, where all of a sudden I’m wearing the moody, black emo-clothing of my high school years, and I’m praying to God that the drunk stranger standing next to me will stop singing so damn loud.

Fair warning: they say every time you access a memory, you alter it. With great trepidation, then, I’m going to go ahead and access a memory for you — a really, really fond memory, one of my favorites — knowing that I might wreck it in the process. Wish me luck.

*Closes eyes, knocks on the door of his mind palace* (more…)

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Thursday Night FRINGE: “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Local Band, The Lonely Ones

Thursday night’s local music and live theatre double header at Writers & Books was among my favorite evenings at the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. Local folk-indie-awesome band, The Lonely Ones, performed a diverse and wonderful set of original compositions, followed by the excellent, MUST SEE University of Rochester TOOP production of Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, “The Importance of Being Earnest” which, literally, brought the lattice down.

Let’s start with Earnest.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” @ Writers and Books

Photography by Todd Kelmar

Photography by Todd Kelmar

To be clear, I will pledge my support to student productions until the day my proverbial curtains close. That said, they are usually a mixed bag of quality, plagued with director inexperience, bland overstatement, and poor (pick of the crop) acting.

I’m happy to announce that University of Rochester TOOP’s (The Opposite of People) production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” rivals some of the best theatre I’ve seen at the Fringe this year. Ian Van Fange, only a sophomore at UR, directs Oscar Wilde’s extravagantly clever script into a tight, well performed play that had the nearly sold-out audience invested from start to finish, crying with laughter. When I spoke with Van Fange, congratulating him on the wonderful production, he gave all the credit to his actors. And I can see why. His cast was certainly amazing.

Daniel Mensel (as Algernon Moncrieff) and Michael Tamburrino (as John Worthing, J.P.) are impeccable together, eliciting a contagious chemistry that never quits. These two young actors jump into Wilde’s shoes brilliantly. Were they born to play these roles? Maybe. All we know is what we can assume: Mensel and Tamburrino were born to play many more roles after this.

Photography by Todd Kelmar

Photography by Todd Kelmar

(more…)

Media-Thon Monday (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post. Tony, from A Way With Words, graciously accepted my offer for Media-thon Monday contributions. Check out his wonderful blog HERE.

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Dan McCormick: An Emerging Folk Musician from the Midwest

I appreciate Kevin’s “Media Monday” invitation to feature a favorite emerging artist.  One artist I have my eyes (and ears) on is folk singer Dan McCormick.  McCormick is graduating from Hanover College (in Indiana), and is enrolled in an M.A. program at University of Louisville (planning to pursue a Ph.D. in English).  While at Hanover, he produced three albums (which can be accessed and downloaded free here).

Dan tells stories in his songs with word pictures that are vivid and non-sentimental.  His songs are succinct (many under 3 minutes).  They avoid clichés yet find poetic resolution.  They are vignettes, or, as in the title of his second album, “devotions” of a young man looking for the best in life but not afraid of the worst.

One song that really grabbed me as I listened to Dan’s work is called, “Sandy and Creole” which celebrates two distinct young women – one, a starry-eyed debutante – the other, a pill-popping femme fatale.  Through the wonder of the narrator, we fall in love with both of them.  The song works on a literal level – describing two alluring young women, but also philosophically, as we are drawn to both the idealism of Sandy and the nihilism of Creole.

I encourage you to hear Dan’s version of “Sandy and Creole” (by clicking on the title).  If you want to follow the lyrics, they are listed below. 2022784363-1

Sandy says that best friends will never grow apart,

and she makes faces at the clouds.

She cuts pretty pictures out of magazines,

and if it rains we watch T.V. without a sound.

 _

Creole fills her pockets with cigarettes and pills,

curing boredom with anything she can.

She says, “You can find your answer in the melody.

Forget the rest—it all means nothin’, man!”

_

And Sandy says she’s gonna be a star.

She says, “I’ve got this debutante thing down.”

Creole says, “I don’t care if I don’t have any money.”

And she sobers up and drives back into town.

_

Sandy gives me chewing gum and giggles all the time,

and we lay in circles in the grass.

She says we’re perfect just the way we are,

and she wonders how we can make the summer last.

 _

Creole pulls my jacket off and takes me by the arm,

and we dance like feathers in the air.

I can see her busted up and smiling,

tumbled over with blood in her hair.

_

And Sandy says, “Tell me all your dreams.

Can’t you hear that sweet angelic call?”

Creole says, “God is dead, so let’s get drunk instead,

and we’ll celebrate our luminescent fall.”

Check out the previous edition of Media-thon Monday HERE. For future contributions, contact me at:

kevindanielblog (@) gmail (dot) com