N and I have tickets to go see John Vanderslice tonight down in Provo. He always puts on a fun show: in concert he’s always very nice and endearingly earnest. Cellar Door (2004), is probably my favorite album that he’s made. But he has a new album out, Romanian Names, that seems pretty solid too.
While I flit around from hobby to hobby (woodworking, photography, knitting, sewing, design, cooking, etc…) N has steadfastly had the same main passion since he was a teenager: music. He likes several genres of music but has a special soft spot in his heart for kind of obscure independent stuff.
Since he has such a breadth of knowledge about music and is a great writer (not that I’m biased, ahem.) I’ve been urging N to start a music blog for months. And once his friends joined in on the pestering it was only a matter of time before he caved. And so wiresandwaves.com was born (with a banner designed by yours truly).
So if you’re interested in music, check it out. N posts every weekday and includes a streaming song with every post. It’s a fun way to hear some new and new-to-you music. Today he started his top 25 albums of the year countdown; maybe you’ll find something for the music lover on your Christmas list.
Last night N. and I dropped E. off at my sister’s house (Thanks, Jan!) and went to a free outdoor concert in downtown Salt Lake. It was a lot of fun. There were probably a couple thousand people milling around. Crooked Fingers was on first, and they were great. Crooked Fingers is the project of Eric Bachmann. I love his songs (a few of them are a little gritty, fyi) and his raspy low voice. Last night N. said that Eric moved to Denver recently and that his day job is selling Cuban sandwiches in Denver. Most talented sandwich maker EVER.
Neko Case was on next. By this time the area in front of the stage was really crowded and so I couldn’t really see her on stage. But her voice was AMAZING, as usual. I’ve seen her perform a couple of times with the Canadian super-group, The New Pornographers (The band’s name was inspired by when 1980s tv evangelist Jimmy Swaggartdenounced rock music as “the new pornography”), and every time I see her she is great. I think that Neko has one of the best voices I’ve heard. Her solo music is more country than what she does with the NPs. Last night she sang “Deep Red Bells” and “I Wish I Was the Moon Tonight,” both of which I love.
Here are some YouTube clips of her singing. The first one is her performing, “Deep Red Bells” live and the second is a montage video some emo girl put together set to “I Wish I Was the Moon Tonight” (it had the best audio I could find).
As the evening went on, certain elements of the crowd became more and more annoying. There was a bunch of girls hanging out with some older, scummier guys right next to us. They were all smoking and one of the girls kept waving her cigarette around dangerously close to my face. Then when they got tired of smoking cigarettes, they broke out the pot. Thus so fortified, the girls engaged in fake lesbian kissing to try and win attention and approval from the jerks they were with. These cute little girls just reeked of low self-esteem and desperation. I’ve heard about girls doing this sort of thing, but it was the first time I had actually seen it up close. I guess I really am a total mom now, because as I was standing there I just kept wondering if their parents knew what they were up to. It’s well-known that cute girls often hang out with jerks. But it’s still sad to see it in person.
Other than that pathetic exhibition of low female self-esteem, it was a great show. The series is over for the summer, but I think N. and I are going to make it to more of the shows next year.
A couple of weeks ago, I received a belated Christmas present from N. It was a song he commissioned and had written for me! Keith John Adams (KJA) is a British musician. He was first in an acoustic guitar/drums/violin outfit called The Horse Doctors, then in Zuno Men, and now he’s on his own. For the release of his new CD, “Unclever,” which came out yesterday, his record label Happy Happy Birthday To Me did a special pre-order. The first 40 people to order “Unclever” would have a personal song written for them by KJA, based on stories they submitted.
When N. was placing his order, he asked me what my go-to anecdote was–the most unique experience I’ve had. I thought for a second that then told him it was probably when I got lost at a Korean Buddhist temple on Buddha’s birthday. Back in the summer of 1999, before N. and I were married or even dating, we both went on a university study abroad trip to Korea. A Korean TV network heard about our trip and decided to make a documentary about our group and so we had a camera crew following us around. Our group visited a lot of Buddhist temples, and even stayed overnight at one of them once.
Anyway, on Buddha’s birthday we were at a temple (Bogwangsa, I think) and a bunch of us decided to hike up the mountain above the temple to see a waterfall. About halfway up I decided to stop and take some photos of the rocks and stream and wait for the others to go up to the waterfall and come back. (I’m afraid that even then I was a pretty wimpy hiker.) Anyway, there was only one trail that led up and back, but somehow the rest of the group and I missed each other when they came back down. I waited by the trail until it started to get dark and I realized that it would be dangerous to try and get down the mountain in the dark by myself. So I headed down the mountain, silently freaking out in my head. My Korean wasn’t fluent by any means and I wasn’t sure how I would get back to the village we were staying at. I didn’t have a lot of money on me, but by the time I reached the temple I had convinced myself that I would be able to get a taxi or bus to the closest town and then from there I would be able to get a taxi out to the little village we were staying at. But I was pretty worried and only hanging on to my composure by a thread. When I got to the temple, I saw that the procession of the lanterns had begun. As I watched the people streaming by, lit lanterns in hand, I recognized some students from our group. I was so relieved not to be stranded on my own that I promptly burst into tears. And fortunately the camera crew was right there to capture my humiliation! This was the only scene of me that made it into the final documentary. Awesome!
So N. told KJA a brief version of that story. And KJA wrote this song, “Lost in Korea,” about it. (You should see a player right below this. Let me know if it doesn’t work for anyone.)
I am thoroughly charmed by the song. It’s so sweet and fun. I’ve heard some of the other songs KJA wrote and a lot of them are very fun, but I still like mine the best! (Of course I’m a little biased though.)
You can find some of the other songs online at three imaginary girls and you ain’t no picasso. KJA’s record label is supposed to be sending the rest of the personalized songs to other music blogs during the next week or so. A bunch of people that ordered songs are getting together to have a vinyl record of all of the songs custom made. If it happens, I am definitely going to order one.