There’s a performance of The Star-Spangled Banner that tops Jimi at Woodstock, Marvin Gaye at the NBA All-Star Game, and even Whitney at Super Bowl XXV, and it took place at some sort of fund drive for a Christian broadcasting network based in Dallas

Is this cheesy? Lord yes. Is it also God damn glorious? Yup. That’s at least 50 dudes singing in rich, rich harmony and, most impressively, it’s crisp and together. Let’s break down why this should be surgically implanted into the brain of every American:

Continue reading

I was at a concert: Beethoven and Bruckner

A couple weekends ago we headed to Lincoln Center for a concert featuring music by one of the three B’s and another B that I assume would crack the top ten of B’s if we were ranking them (I’ll file that one away). Guest conductor Juanjo Mena, who I remember from a show back in Kansas City, was there, as was James Ehnes, whose violining I’ve enjoyed from the distance of various broadcast recordings for some time now. It was a surprisingly well-attended and perhaps not-surprisingly good concert. Continue reading

Europe: Still better than us

Jaap Van Zweden was selected to be the next conductor of the New York Philharmonic, taking over in a couple years. Another prime American orchestra gig goes to another medium-profile European dude. In the wake of LA’s Gustavo Dudamel appointment, the trend seemed to be towards young, energetic guys, even if they lacked Dudamel’s charisma and escaped-mental-patient-plotting-to-destroy-the-dam haircut, which is how we ended up with Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Andris Nelsons, Ludovic Morlot, et al. Alan Gilbert was in this wave, too.

I was happy at the time to see an American get arguably the most prestigious conducting post in the States (friendly reminder that it’s a spot previously held down by the likes of Mahler, Toscanini, and Bernstein), even if it came with the even more American appearance of flagrant nepotism, rightly or wrongly. I thought it might be something of a turning point for American orchestras in general. Continue reading

A Shout Into the Ether

It’s been over 16 months since I last posted. I went through a Buddhist phase and came out the other side. Possibly wiser. Definitely with fewer possessions.

Since that day, I’ve done the following: met a beautiful woman, moved across the United States with said woman, gotten two new jobs, and lived in two different apartments. Everything after meeting the woman was actually within the last six months. That’s a lot of activity, and it definitely struck me as extremely non-Buddhist. That, along with some gentle prodding by old friend Ken Woods, prompted me to see what’s what out here in the world.

I live in the NYC vortex now. Presumably, enough shit will happen to me that I can make this space mildly interesting. I’m still really into Schubert and Bruckner like I was before. I’m getting into art and theater more, conveniently, given my location.

Hope y’all have been well in the intervening months and days.

A Buddhist phase

Anyone who may be a regular reader of this blog may recognize that the posting has been sporadic for the better part of the last couple months. I’ve been going through what I’m calling a “Buddhist phase” lately: I got rid of a bunch of shit in my apartment, I got rid of all my social media accounts, I got rid of most of my hair. I’ve basically been on a quest to distill everything in my life down to its essence, stripping away all the extraneous noise and trying to pay attention to what’s in front of my face as much as possible. Is it working? Fuck if I know, but I feel better, and I’ll take that as a yes for now. Continue reading

Showdown: Blahzay Blahzay vs. Mystikal

The Contestants:

blahzayBlahzay Blahzay was a 2-man rap group consisting of DJ PF Cuttin’ and Outloud. There’s a distinct likelihood you’ve never heard of them as they only released one album, though they are featured on a track from the very good posthumous Ol’ Dirty Bastard mixtape Osirus from 2005 (remind me to write something about “Dirty Dirty” sometime, one of the best beats I’ve ever heard).

MystikalMystikal was a rapper from New Orleans who peaked with 2000’s Let’s Get Ready. You’ve almost assuredly heard of him because he’s the guy that did “Shake Ya Ass,” which is EVERYWHERE. You’re probably thinking it’s been quite a while though, and it has, because he served six years in prison for making his hairstylist perform sex acts on him (and here I thought that was part of the famous Aveda Institute method).

The Rep:

Danger

There’s something about the word “danger” that has inspired a tremendous amount of quality music, from the Kenny Loggins masterpiece “Danger Zone” to the legendary in my world “Danger High Voltage” of Electric Six. Danger is defined as the possibility of suffering harm or injury, so you know there’s a great chance shit’s about to get real real. Continue reading