Rock Gods #244: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

Rea Charge left the stage to get a drink, got into a conversation, and waved blithely at the small crowd once too often. So Ginger Grip got onstage, grabbed the mic and took over the set. The audience huzzahed, loudly thanked her, and turned on fair-weather entertainer Rea Charge when she attempted to remount the stage.
Ginger performed a cappella. Seven songs, two of them covers, one of them made up on the spot. Lyrical, wistful, rangy, pure, captivating. The response could not have been more encouraging, especially considering how unexpected the change of format had been.
Ginger performance method turned out to be important when a pissed Rea charged that Ms. Grip had “stolen” the limelight, as well as her “equipment.” Bullfinch band booker Q confirmed for me that the PA and mic—everything onstage save for Rea’s guitar, which Ging didn’t touch—belonged to the club.
The switch-up set the stage for a debate on territorial rights which remains a frequent topic of conversation at the Bullfinch, whenever a band dawdles too long mid-set.
The consensus is that Rea relinquished the stage not due to her leaving it but due to her dismissive attitude. Nobody’s eager to see the Bullfinch stage become the playing field for a King of the Hill tournament. But we do applaud the game concept of staying connected with one’s audience by playing music, and realizing that when the music stops your chair might not be there anymore.

100s of Charges, with QC Passed opening, at the Bullfinch… NIMH AAs at Hamilton’s, with Not Included… A potentially long Evening With Energizer Holdings at D’ollaires. The reunited band reportedly has several sets of new material they want to try out…

Listening to… Black Bananas and Kurt Vile

Black Bananas and Kurt Vile, “Before They Make Me Run.” Lackluster cover of the Jagger/Richards tune, clearly in the thrall of the original if the ridiculous guitar solos are any indication yet so deadpan and monotone in the vocals that you wonder what the concept is here. Is it cool to sing stiffly now? ‘Cause you know what an arbiter of cool Kurt Vile is.

Literary Up: Drawing in the Streets

The brief text intro for the latest issue of World War 3 Illustrated (#42) proclaims “Nothing has given us more hope than the uprisings we have seen taking place around the world this year.” And the mag was put together before the Occupy movement even happened!
A lot of the American content in the issue has to do with the occupation of the government building in Wisconsin. But protests and injustices in other countries are also delineated: the bulldozing of a village in Egypt; a “kiss-in” in Lima, Peru; an uprising in Tunisia. Egypt’s revolution in January gets special attention, including a new seven-page strip by graphic novelist Magdy El Shafee (for which WW3I prints the pages right-to-left in the Arabic comic fashion). Movements connect in thought pieces such as Susan Simensky Bietila’s “Wisconsin: Walk Like an Egyptian.” There’s a story of the downside of corporately managed charter schools, and another in which the speeches of 19th century black leader Frederick Douglass’ about the “the nature of power” are given contemporary urgency and relevance.
There’s a collective feel to World War 3 Illustrated that always makes the journal (which has been an annual affair for the past bunch of years) more than the sum of its parts. Many of the contributors—especially editorial forces Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper—reappear issue after issue, but they often change up their styles and concerns, and there are always some fresh talents to offset the more familiar provocateurs. Sometimes the artwork leads the text, sometimes the words take hold more. The range of styles can cause visual whiplash, but the mood of thoughtful rebellion is consistent.
You could say World War 3 #42 Illustrated missed a major opportunity in being released at the peak of the Occupy movement and not having been able to comment on it. But that’s always been the wonder and grace of this magazine—it shows us, through conscientious and time-consuming assemblages of text and art, that public political demonstrations have lasting impact, and waiting a year to read about them isn’t silly. It’s other virtue is showing us some of the less obvious uprisings around the world, the ones that eluded the attention of mainstream media. Timeliness is a minor factor here. World War 3 Illustrated is always active.

For Our Connecticut Readers: Treecycling

Got a city robocall about Christmas tree collection. Don’t recall the details because for the past ten years we’ve simply been putting our trees (generally purchased at Broken Arrow Nursery in Hamden) in the backyard when we’re done. We lean them against the chain link fence which separates from the parking lot for the co-op apartments behind our house, where they provide shade, bird perches and—once they’ve dried out, which is around the time the next tree hits the yard—firewood for our woodstove
Household tradition holds that the tree doesn’t leave the living room for the long slog through the kitchen to the back yard until after Three Kings Day. Ditto the creche. Then we finally get to reorganize the furniture as we’ve been wanting to since, well since the Christmas tree arrived and we started rethinking the layout again. Maybe some of that furniture will join the tree in the backyard.

Face the Music

My daughter Mabel suggested this theme: Songs with the word “Face” in them.

1. The Gershwins, “Funny Face.”
2. The Who, “I’m the Face.”
3. Bye Bye Birdie soundtrack, “Put on a Happy Face.”
4. Lady Gaga, “Poker Face.”
5. Electric Light Orchestra, “Face the Music.”
6. New Kids on the Block, “Face the Music.”
7. George Duke, “Face the Music.”
8. Moss Hart & Irving Berlin, “Face the Music.”
9. Hoobastank, “Face the Music.”
10. Irving Berlin, “Let’s Face the Music and Dance.”

Rock Gods #243: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

“Did you recover? Did you recover? Are you recovered? Have you…” Every conversation in the scene today is about surviving yesterday. There is no other dialectic. Scenesters are united in how they are the freaks of their respective families, how going home for an appointed holiday event is a nightmare, how they couldn’t wait to flee out to a club or bar after dinner because they had nothing in common with the fam.
Most of them are lying. The headcount at the Bullfinch last night was place—sparse, we’re sayin’. Hamilton’s was essentially closed. D’ollaire’s had a sort of family nite.
So where was everybody? Unwrapping new guitars, drum heads, and T-shirts that you’ll likely see at sets in the New Year.
How do we know everyone was home and not at the joints? Aw, this is no time for pity.

Literary Up: Tracy Lineage

Here’s the current Dick Tracy comic strip team paying tribute last week to Max Allan Collins. The esteemed mystery writer happens to be a former Dick Tracy writer himself, having penned the detective’s two-way wrist mishaps from the time of its creator Chester Gould’s retirement in 1977 (at the end of December, as it happened, so almost exactly 35 years ago) and continued to script the adventures until 1992.
Collins reined in the science-fiction aspects which Gould had been pushing since the 1960s—moon people, rocket cars etc.—and repopulated its rogues gallery of villains marked by their outrageous physical characteristics or outlandish style choices.

When I was in college in the late early 1980s, I was a founding staff member of a daily newspaper on campus. It was common then (and now) for campus papers to run only two syndicated comic strips—Doonesbury and either Peanuts or Garfield. That seemed to cover all the bases for the shortsighted college press. At the Tufts Daily, we ran Collins’ Dick Tracy.