Saturday, July 24, 2010

Shameless Plug Department

My guy, the very talented Mr. Kevin Bartlett, has a new album out. If you know anything about indie music, you know it's not easy to get the word out without the big record company machine behind you. So you get help from your friends.

Go here. Listen.
If you like it you can buy a CD or download there or on iTunes.

I have been hearing this EP evolve for the past two years and have fallen madly in love with every single song. I am biased, yes, I am. But I'm not alone. This guy, known for gorgeous, lush, symphonic movie soundtracks has suddenly stood in front of the microphone and recorded songs that are singable, intelligent, interesting and just plain fun to listen to. And that's what other people are saying. I could say much more.

If you want a giggle, pay attention to the white girl church choir backing vocals on "Dear" in the Headlights and the bridge in Cool Thing. That would be me and, on Cool Thing, my daughter.

Another fantasy fulfilled. I got to sing backup on a rock album! My next fantasy is to be able to sing like the way-cool wailing backup on Cool Thing. That's Machan Taylor. Maybe in my next life.

What Did You Used to Love?

Do you remember what you used to hold most dear? Think about when you were a kid; what were your favorite things? What have you forgotten as you became the responsible, busy adult who you now are?

I forgot the fairies.

I can't believe I did. I loved them from the time I was a little kid and read my "Big Golden Book of Fairies" over and over, my complete rainbow of Arthur Lang's collected Fairy Tales, oohed and aahed over Arthur Rackham illustrations. And yet I forgot.

I recently read a book that reminded me -
"Faery Tale: One Woman's Search for Enchantment in a Modern World." It's by Signe Pike.

I approached it with a "what the hell - it might be fun" attitude, especially after reading the line where she said she was going to "go find the damned faeries."

I thoroughly enjoyed it and realized I needed to go find me a faery, too. I used to believe there was magic in the world and even after all my reading on quantum mechanics and unified theories of everything, I somehow had relegated the fairies to some dusty back closet in my head.

No more. I'm old enough to be as silly as I like. And I like to be damned silly.

So I went outside, apologized to the fairies for not having greeted them sooner here, laid out a little stone ring with pebbles I'd found at the beach, and told them I'd be a far better neighbor from here on and that I'd like to be friends.

Hopefully, The Folk will forgive me and let me back into their world. I like this world a whole lot better when I believe theirs is part of it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The World's Gone Crazy - Or Is It Just Me?

What the hell is going on, people? Seriously.

We've got a long-term oil problem in the Gulf, and suspicions that that shiny cap may lead to gas blowing out from other unstable areas of the sea bed, while BP spins the story to be, "Hey, if you want us to open it up and let it start spewing again, then it's on your head." Nobody willing to step up and say, "Do THIS." And then take responsibility.

The drug companies are trying to get the FDA to approve cholesterol-lowering medicine for kids. It's so much easier to give the kids a pill along with their vitamin, because everyone's working multiple jobs, nobody's able to be home to boot them out from in front of the television or the computer, take away the chips and say, "Go out. Play. Come home when it's dinner time." So the next generation sits on their widening little butts, not even knowing what they're missing. Besides - if they went out to play, there's probably no one else out there to play with.

A science blog actually agreed to let PepsiCo. host a page called "Food Frontiers."
Pepsi knows a lot about good, wholesome food, I'm sure we all agree.

Not surprisingly, they got slammed.

They took it down after their scientists starting leaving en masse in protest.\

Now that I'm a corporate type I realize that I'm totally losing touch with the natural world. I wake up, dress, drive to work, spend the day in an office, drive home, and spend my evening inside working on my book, my show, playing Freecell and trying to stay awake until 11. I am a hothouse flower and that is not me at all. But it is who many of us are.

It's unnatural. And it's dangerous. You could almost begin to forget that our lives rely on that world outside our windows.

There is one bright spot. A couple of years back I stumbled upon a small blurb about a proposal to lease drilling rights all over my area of New York for horizontal gas drilling. I did a series of stories and the news started to spread, thanks to some of the environmental groups I spoke with.

The movie "Gasland" is doing the rest. It was shown at a school auditorium nearby this past weekend and suddenly the entire region is mobilizing with online activists who are emailing, writing, calling and visiting their legislators, concerned that the hazards that Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia and other states which are already allowing hydrofracking are facing will be coming soon to a flaming sink near them.

I am impressed with the power of film. Similarly, our friends at Tribe of Heart are opening hearts and minds with their film, "Peaceable Kingdom". It's an attempt to reconnect that mental schism between our love for animals and how we get the food on our plates. They're winning awards all over the country and audiences are reacting thoughtfully, starting conversations, starting to talk - just as they'd hoped.

It's a Mad Mad World, my friends. But I don't think it's hopeless yet.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What Makes A Performance or The Joy of Men in Kilts and Pigtails

My guy is a prog/glam rocker from way back. He probably has a photo of himself in his silver sequined miniskirt somewhere. And if you're not a performer, you probably think that's just strange. I can now attest that it makes perfect sense.

Here's what happened: we went to see Steve Hackett over the weekend. Steve was part of the original Peter Gabriel era Genesis band. He's a gifted guitarist. What he is not is a showman.

The show opened with the lead performers lined up across the front of the stage. At one end there was a slightly overweight guy wearing baggy black pants and shirt with a jacket (or a vest - I'm unsure). He would have looked at home working in your local hardware store. Beside him was a tall blonde with shiny, straight hair dressed in a loose black top, wrinkled black skinny jeans and high black boots. They were both holding guitars. Then came a skinny blonde with platinum pigtails, chiseled arms, a black kilt, high black socks and clunky black shoes holding a bass. Then there was a young guy in a cap, black version of the shirt the Monkees used to wear, jeans and Chuck Taylor sneakers holding a saxophone.

My guy looked into the wings, wondering when Steve Hackett was going to come out. He was already there. Hardware Store Boy was our headliner.

The show began and Steve was wonderful but my eyes were glued to the Amazon with the bass guitar all night long. I knew it was a guy within 30 seconds but my guy, my daughter and her guy were confused all night long. What was clear, however was that we were watching an amazing bass player and a terrific showman.

Nick Beggs has been doing this awhile. Remember Kajagoogoo? He clearly gets stage performance and he was great fun to listen to AND watch. He moved with the music, he emoted, he was absolutely wonderful. And talented though Steve Hackett is, he was thoroughly upstaged.

My daughter's guy, who is an aspiring musician, totally missed Hackett's guitar abilities. His verdict? "Nothing outstanding."

I'm convinced it was because Hackett looked most comfortable when he finally had a stool, an acoustic guitar and began to noodle some classical stuff. He's not an extrovert, he's not a ham and if you want to put on a good show you HAVE to be.

Kevin Bartlett

My guy will be touring now that his new EP is out. This new CD is new school rock and roll and he sounds like the lovechild of David Bowie and Lou Reed. The music's great - but performance is a whole different challenge.

I have only seen him perform in small venues but I'm sure I know on which side of the performing bar he'll fall. He may be a bit of a hermit, he may be a bit shy, but he's also a ham and when he turns on the personality he takes over a group.

I guess we'd better get the kilt out of the back of the closet.

If you want to find my guy's music, you can download it here or on iTunes. Just look for Kevin Bartlett.
Songs for the Big Kablooey