Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
Anyone who’s spent time in Austin is familiar with the complaint that too many Austin residents like to sit around and talk about how things were so much better when the Armadillo World Headquarters was in business, and how they saw Shiva’s Headband there, and rent was only $25 a month, and there was no traffic and abundant dope and and and…
Yep. That’s your Statesman.
By way of the A/V Club, I’ve learned of something called “Holler if Ya Hear Me”, a Broadway musical “inspired by the music and lyrics of the popular rapper Tupac Shakur”.
While some Broadway shows rely on budget reserves to muddle through slow weeks, “Holler” struggled from the outset. The production never brought in more than $175,000 a week in gross revenues, becoming one of the worst-selling musicals of recent years. Last week the show grossed $154,948, or 17 percent of the maximum possible amount, and only 45 percent of its seats were occupied.
Here’s the NYT review:
Drawing on themes that Shakur rapped about in his scabrous, four-letter-word-filled lyrics (no one has taken a kid-friendly Magic Marker to them, I’m glad to report), the musical attempts to draw a vision of black life in urban America that acknowledges the danger, the violence and the self-destruction but also the hope, the courage and the potential for transcendence. To this end, it employs more than a dozen of Shakur’s songs and a couple of his poems. But the lyrical density of rap — in words per minute, many of the songs are off the charts — makes an uneasy fit for theatrical presentation, since the sizzling phrases fly by almost before you can grasp their meaning.
At this point, you’re probably not wondering what brought this to mind:
And, of course, there’s the usual invocations of “it’s going to be difficult to do another rap or hip hop show on Broadway” and “Tupac’s urgent socially important insights and the audiences’ nightly rousing standing ovations deserve to be experienced by the world.”
As for the latter, no comment. As for the former:
Yet one new musical featuring rap and hip hop, “Hamilton,” is widely expected to come to Broadway during the 2015-16 season after an initial run at the Public Theater this coming winter. The show is by Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose show “In the Heights,” which also featured rap and hip hop, ran for three years on Broadway and won the 2008 Tony Award for best musical.
Edited to add: more from the PoR:
He projected an image of an analytical intellectual — he had studied mathematics and philosophy in college, was fluent in six languages (French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian, as well as English) and kept up with many subjects outside music — and his performances could seem coolly fastidious and emotionally distant. Yet such performances were regularly offset by others that were fiery and intensely personalized.
I know that Mike the Musicologist had strong feelings about Mazel; perhaps he will comment here or on his own blog.
Nadine Gordimer, noted South African writer.
Continuing in the historical trivia vein, today is the 35th anniversary of one of the greatest moments in the history of baseball: Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park.
Here’s some video I turned up. The first one appears to be an ESPN retrospective:
Here’s some local news coverage:
Side note: this is an attempt to compile a complete list of forfeits in major league baseball games.
Box Sized DIE is a public installation in a London banking district by Portuguese artist João Onofre. It’s a soundproofed, airtight black box. Inside, UK band Unfathomable Ruination will be playing death metal until they run out of oxygen, every day for most of July, starting on Sunday. The installation is part of the Sculpture In The City public art program by City of London.
My first thought: what do they mean by “run out of oxygen”? Does the band play until they pass out? If so, how will anyone know, given that the box is soundproofed and opaque? Do they just play until a certain CO2 level is reached? Do they have sensors and an alarm in the box?
My second thought: how long will the band actually play? Or, to phrase the question in another way, how long does it take to use up all the oxygen in the box? Apparently, this isn’t the first time a death metal band has played in the box (though it is the first time this has been done in London). Surely there must be some stats on this, like average length of time spent in the box.
My third thought:
My fourth thought:
Art F City argues that this is one of London’s “worst public art projects,” because “Passersby can’t hear them play, so what’s the point of choosing death metal over anyone else?” But there are many things we can’t see or hear directly from a sculpture. Onofre is charging the invisible core of the object with the specific force and drive of death metal. It’s black. It’s claustrophobic. It’s all angst. Of course it had to be black metal! Unlike most conceptual public sculptures, we know exactly what’s “inside.” Maybe it’s not the most subtle form of compacting tension and placing it into a public space, but I’m biased, so… \m/
Sounds like pretentious bullshit to me.
There’s an interesting obit in today’s NYT for Michael Brown, who passed away on June 11th at 93.
Brown (no relation, AFAIK) was one of the major figures in the “industrial musical”, which I have touched on previously.
Mr. Brown, whose clients included the J. C. Penney Company, Singer sewing machines and DuPont, was among the genre’s most sought-after creators. His shows — he supplied music, lyrics and direction and often took part as a singer — were known, Mr. Young said, for “their high quality and general buoyancy and fun.”
His most widely seen show was without doubt “Wonderful World of Chemistry.” Presented in the DuPont pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, it was a rare example of an industrial musical open to the public. The show, written, produced and directed by Mr. Brown, was performed at least 40 times a day, by at least eight companies, for months on end.
If that was all Brown had done, this would still be a pretty interesting obit. But there’s another story: Brown and his wife had a good pot of money, and knew an aspiring writer who was living in New York and having trouble balancing her writing and her job.
So for Christmas of 1956, they gave their friend a present:
That writer was Harper Lee. And now you know…the rest of the story.
The NYT obit for Chester Nez clarifies a point I was confused on:
Mr. Nez was the last surviving member of the 29 original Navajo code talkers [emphasis added - DB], who at the urgent behest of the federal government devised an encrypted version of their language for wartime use. They and the hundreds of Navajos who followed them into battle used that code, with unparalleled success, throughout the Pacific theater.
This should not be taken as an attempt to diminish the accomplishments of Mr. Nez, the other 28 original code talkers, or the ones who followed the first 29; I’m just trying to make sure the historical record is clear. (I felt some of the other media coverage confused this point.)
This goes out to our great and good friend RoadRich: Whiskey 7 made it back to Normandy. Briefly: Whiskey 7 is a restored C-47 transport that originally dropped troops over Normandy. It was in a museum in New York, but was invited back to Normandy for the 70th anniversary. So a crew from the museum flew it across the Atlantic…
(One of these days, I want to ride in a C-47. Or a DC-3. I’m not picky.)
Fun feature piece by John Marchese in the NYT:
Maybe it was the 50th anniversary of “Hello, Dolly” having knocked the Beatles off the top of the pop charts (May 9, 1964), but it occurred to me recently that with a little advance work, I could spend an entire day in New York with Louis Armstrong.
Things I didn’t know:
- I was not aware of the Louis Armstrong House Museum.
- “The archive is housed in the library of Queens College in Flushing and is open to anyone who calls ahead to arrange an appointment. And if you bring your own mouthpiece, you can play one of five Armstrong trumpets kept there.” Not that I would ever do that, since I can’t carry a tune in a bucket (much less play the trumpet), but I can imagine this would be incredibly cool if you were a trumpet player.
- “… he spent much of his time in his wood-paneled second-floor den, making mixtapes on his two reel-to-reel recorders and decorating the tape boxes with elaborate and often humorous collages.”
- The Armstrong red beans and rice recipe.