Archive: August, 2009
|Photos by Brion Shreffler|
One of the few rap acts to break up the proceedings is the one-two punch of the Bushwackerz.
The DJ cues up the music, the beats seemingly urging the effects lights on as they spin around Fluid's small cantina like space in the dark. The music continues on and you wait, thinking perhaps it will be on the next hook that the vocals come in. But that's not an MC standing on a crate before the audience; DJ Ill Skillz waits while a selection of his beats ' music filled with an epic sound reminiscent of great '90s hip-hop ' plays for the crowd and the judges seated above the dance floor. The music stops and he looks up to his right. 'Powerful,' Jimi Kendrix says while giving his approval before turning the microphone over to judge Chris Styles, who takes a harsher note; 'it may sound all well and good,' he quickly says, 'but with all those samples in there you ain't gonna make any money,' an admonishment he addresses later in the night by saying, 'look I'm not trying to be harsh. We're here to teach. I've lost too much money early on due to sampling,' he says, imploring the producers there to work with musicians rather than digging out gems from old tracks that can cut into their profits due to licensing fees. This kind of instruction, offered by Styles and Kendrix whose combined production credits include Jay-Z , Ashanti, and 50 Cent, is exactly what iStandard is all about. Founded by J Hatch and Don Di Napoli, these events ' quarterly in Philly and monthly in NYC, with many stops across the country ' create proximity between up and coming producers and talented and knowledgeable industry insiders. Additionally, iStandard's site connects popular artists directly with producer's music.
One of the few rap acts to break up the proceedings is the one-two punch of the Bushwackerz. Fam and Brooker Wood take to the small stage, the two seeming to lyrically spring board off each other, their music packed with as much vocal dexterity as sheer power. And perhaps since they aren't being judged they also appear to be having the most fun of anyone there. But then again, their swagger kind of says they wouldn't much give a shit if they were part of the competition. They go through a medley of a few tracks before getting to 'Ryan Howard,' a homage to every man's favorite past-time that deftly utilizes a Harry Kalas sample. Rakiya Rae sings the cheeky female part of the song before taking the lead on her own soulful track ' she shares the same producer (Antwan Carr) with the Bushwackerz ' with backing from Brooker Wood (Nicholas Schurr).
'We're giving people a candid journey of young adulthood,' Fam, aka Brian Tucker, says outside Fluid, while the night still rambles on. 'The effects of going out and partying and having fun but also the relationships and situations that come out of that. We make sure our delivery is different, using slang at times in a creative way, though we also want to remain accessible,' he says of their unique approach that draws inspiration equally from The Beastie Boys and 2 Live Crew.
I ask him about the sampling issue, which seems to be the main take away lesson of the night. 'Yeah, early on people were taking a break and 3 bar loops from 70s Funk albums, and at first, the artists being sampled looked at it and thought, 'maybe that's cool.' Eventually, people realized they were getting ripped off. The successful producers are the ones who have the savvy to put in the musical accompaniments themselves, to draw upon musicians rather than samples,' he says before mentioning Jon Bryant who helped Kanye West do just that after a sample heavy first album that was funded by Kanye's Jay-Z production credits. He points out how producers, who can get 35-75k per track depending on how it is used, could see their profits wiped out by licensing fees, all of which is compounded by them losing out on mechanical royalties (stadium and commercial play). 'Underground producers ' look at what Dangermouse did with the Grey Album ' can get away with it, but once you get somewhere everything has to get cleared. Sure, people sample since certain instruments don't exist,' he says, going on to mention the distinction between antiquated reel to reel analog recording and the current digital standard that many growing up with MP3s are unable to hear. 'I understand the music is based on sampling but the only way it's going to get better is through evolving.' And that sentiment rings true with both the judges' advice as well as the Bushwackerz plan to use a series of mixtapes to draw in fans to their sound. 'We're taking to the mixtapes like they're albums-instead of simply frees-styling over them- giving people our take on tracks they know, so they can see what we're all about, while we're also putting out and working on original material,' Fam says, his eyes keenly looking off into the future.
Critical Mass finally found its way to the Caterpillar, that Design Philadelphia installation/outdoor venue we told you about months ago, this Friday. Shot x Shot, Eric Carbonara, Lillie Ruth Bussey, Druid Circles (pictured) and The Spooks all played, with the jazzy, Sci-Fi Philly regulars Shot x Shot being the best performers of the bunch. (Though, if you dig metal, Druid Circles drew a dedicated, albeit small crowd toward the end.) I was mostly impressed by how seriously fun the venue was, though ' it felt like the musicians were playing in a giant, cut-apart accordion, and it's always a joy to drink outside ' so it's awfully sad that it'll be taken down soon to prevent wear and tear. Sigh.
One more photo after the jump.
"FILTHY," a multimedia group show put on by the collective Plastic Fantastic, explores the ecological, economic and societal problems surrounding water. PF members Maggie Nowinski and Krisanne Baker sat down with City Paper to talk about the show.
City Paper: Much of the art in "FILTHY" incorporates plastic water bottles. What do they symbolize?
Maggie Nowinski: For me, the plastic water bottle is such a ubiquitous, peripheral image that we cannot escape. It's an image that brings together all of the problems in the world ' petroleum, the war, societal problems. Plastic is something that is extremely problematic in our society today and for our future on this planet. But water is paradoxical ' we have so many problems in the world with getting people clean water, and here we are paying extra for bottles that are leaking poisonous chemicals into it.
CP: So why use the bottles in your pieces?
MN: They are so available that people are using them in their artwork. Turning something ugly into something beautiful, repossessing, and at the same time recycling.
CP: What made you want to explore these themes?
MN: This is the first time I am making a work that is topical. I have always dealt with my art from a personal perspective. Dealing with all of these water bottles everyday, it just made me think, "Hm, there's something to that," and eventually I allowed myself to form this concept around it.
I almost didn't want to do it. I am someone who tries to live in a conscious way, but not so much through my artwork. In order to keep going, I had to keep asking myself personal questions: How does drinking water from a plastic bottle make me feel emotionally? Physically? Environmentally? It is a toxic, toxic concept. Not even thinking about the plastic leaking these chemicals into the water ' all of the oil that is used to create them, all of the energy. It's wasteful and dangerous.
CP: Your art explores the ideas of degeneration and regeneration. Why?
Krisanne Baker: My original thesis research was based in entropy ' things falling apart. But as I was experimenting, I was picking up things out of the gutters ' little pieces of metal falling off of peoples' cars, and putting them in water to see how they were falling apart, generating sediment and eventually showing signs of life.
So I came out of that with this idea of something from nothing. I had these plastic bags [full of water] up in my studio for about a year, and after they had been sitting there for about a year I noticed that they had begun to grow some algae, and thought, 'They're not totally dead, there's something here.' Even though things look like they're falling apart, the energy is still there. I took that idea and applied it to water quality. Water is the universal solvent. I talk about water being the lifeblood of the earth. It's in us, plant matter [and] even rocks. Things that we think are inert are still affected by water.
CP: Your piece looks like an archaeological sample.
KB: It looks like an archaeological sample, and it was. [Curator Dierdra Krieger] had collected some river water for me a month before, but three days beforehand someone spilled it. Before the sample got knocked over, I noticed that it grows not only algae but shows some signs of microscopic life. Knowing that that is the water that people drink ' even though it does go through treatment plants ' there is still a hell of a lot of stuff in there that the facilities do not filter out.
So we trooped down to the Schuylkill and got some more water. I had not been originally planning on incorporating trash. I had wanted this piece to be all Schuylkill water, but just looking at all of the crap that had washed up on the shore, it was undeniable. It had to be included. It's such a statement about how we treat our water, and how much we need it. I hope that people will become more conscious about the waste cycle, how they deal with it on a daily basis.
CP: How did you become involved with "FILTHY"?
KB: Diedra and I were in grad school together. We never had the same teachers or anything, but we were both very interested in the environment and both ended up paralleling each other with ideas and materials. In our grad show, she did an outdoor exhibit ' the dome (pictured) ' as a com building exhibit, and I had done an outdoor installation, but I was using glass jars from the dump, stacked seven feet high, filled with water from different places. You could see things growing, falling apart.
That particular tower was called 'Whats in your water?' in an online gallery of subversive ecological art. Instead of just looking at the surface, taking something for granted, I wanted to present it as something that people could peer through, see what they were really dealing with everyday.
Through Aug. 14, free, 4522 Baltimore Ave., 215-387-3434, studio34yoga.com.
Tuesday: Veteran of the dysfunctional psychedelic band the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Bobby Hecksher guides The Warlocks' sound in a similar direction. Swirling guitar noises combined with slow rhythms and deeply buried vocals define the group's psychedelia. With The Vandelles & Morning After Girls, 10pm, $10, Kung Fu Necktie, 1248 N. Front St., 215-291-4919, r5productions.com.
Wednesday: Franz Nicolay, the mustachioed member of the Hold Steady, uses his brassy voice to sing tales of sailors, lost souls and teen queens. With Diana Lee, 7:30pm, $10, First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., 215-563-3980, r5productions.com.
Thursday: New Wavers the Pretenders will play endless hits following an opening set by everyone's favorite feline songwriter Cat Power. With Juliette Lewis, 7:30pm, $49.50, Electric Factory, 421 N. 7th St., 215-627-1332.
Friday: THIS IS HARDCORE FEST '09 features over 20 metal, hardcore and post-hardcore bands from the Philadelphia region and beyond. This three day festival kicks off on Friday and runs through Sunday. At the Starlight Ballroom, 460 N 9th Street, $20-55, r5productions.com.
Saturday: Passion Pit's song 'Sleepyhead' has been all over the blogs for over a year and their new album Manners has stirred up some well-deserved hype. Often compared to MGMT, Vampire Weekend and some other blog hype bands, don't let the build-up taint the music, Passion Pit is worth checking out. With The Grates and US Royalty, First Unitarian Church, 2125 Chestnut St., r5productions.com.
Sunday: British Alt-Rockers Band of Skulls play retro garage rock with catchy hooks and hits like 'I Know What I Am.' With Three 4 Tens and Sunshine Recorder, North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St, $10, 21+.
|You just don't screw with a vamp's lady friend.
Re-capping True Blood each and every Monday.
Turns out Jason isn't dead, just a little red from that paint ball Sarah Newlin shot at him. He manages the feat of figuring out that Sarah is after him because of his relationship with Sookie and' not because of the Rev. Jason leaves the tarnished Goldilocks behind, taking off with Sarah's jeep to save his sister.
Back in Bon Temps 'someone' (Maryann, cough cough) planted Daphne's dead body, sans heart, in Merlotte's storage fridge. The police come and arrest Sam, because, again 'someone' tipped them off.
Meanwhile, Maryann is going all Julia Child with a 'hunter's souffl' that she serves to Tara and Eggs. They unknowingly munch on Daphne's heart, which apparently is very tasty. It also must contain some of Maryann's powers 'cause suddenly the two lovers are slapping each other, all S&M-style, before rolling around on the floor in throws of black-eyed passion.
At the Fellowship compound, Eric comes to save Godric, and ends up attempting to escape with Sookie as the Church's lockdown begins. Trying to fit in, Eric slips into a bumpkin drawl, proving that the Swedish born and bred Alexander Skaarsgard has got a handle on his accents ' it's funny to boot. But unfortunately for Eric, it's unsuccessful, as the boys at the door aren't as stupid as they look.
Eric and Sookie are taken hostage, and Eric is held before the congregation. Bill also makes it to the showdown, knocking out Lorena with a plasma TV to her head. But neither Eric nor Bill saves the day, it is Godric's officer Cowboy Stan (Ed Quinn) and the rest of Texas's vampires that come to the rescue. Threatening to kill all congregants, Cowboy and crew are stopped by the benevolent Godric. He shoos off the Fellowship, leaving behind only the pathetic Reverend, covered in paint from Jason's paintball gun (the result of a feeble, but still brave attempt to save Sookie himself).
The vampires retire to the hotel to celebrate the release of Godric and Sookie's bravery. Lorena shows up, head healed, and she is quite displeased. Bill's girls get into a bit of a bitch-fight, but instead of sticking with his kind, Godric saves Sookie from the threatening Lorena and she leaves crying bloody tears.
But an even bigger pooper crashes the party, when Reverend Newlin's butt-boy Luke McDonald arrives with a message from the Reverend. He opens up his coat to reveal a bomb made with chunks of silver (a dangerous metal for vampires) strapped to his chest. The episode ends with Luke hitting the ominous red button that's attached to the device.
So just when it appeared as if True Blood would continue to lull its way into the final climax of the season ' BAM ' things suddenly pick up again.
What did you think of last night's episode? Discuss in the comments below.
Mourning the loss of a local roots DJ and a fixture on the local folk scene.
|photo from wvud.org
Suzi Wollenberg, however,' left us without warning. Look at this list: the Green Willow Folk Club, WVUD radio, Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music, Delaware' Valley Bluegrass Festival -these organizations are all rocked by her sudden passing this last Saturday.
Suzi put in literal decades running the Green Willow. She picked up the task when another couldn't keep up with demands of running a Celtic music series in the Wilmington area. If memory of chats with agents for some of the best bands from Scotland, Ireland and Wales serves, Green Willow went from being a fill-in date to the early adopter, the organization willing to bring in the unusual, the anchor date for tours of new acts.' Celtic music from Spain like LLan de Cubel might never have been presented here if Suzi hadn't taken a chance on it.
Music needs to be heard by as many people as possible was her theory. If she believed in its quality it didn't matter who was presenting, her enthusiasm bubbled out in all possible directions.''
As recently as last week she sent out a e-blast reminding folks that fellow WVUD DJ and Green Willow board member Michelle McCann puts on a pretty good show with her band Slyte of Hand and not to miss them a free concert at Rockford Park. The setting and show were a trip across the waters to Brittany for a great number of us on stay-cations.
When Folk Alliance needed judges for showcase slots Suzi could always find time to listen to another pile of recordings and winnow out the top contenders, then spread the news to all her' colleagues. All this music work was in addition to another fulltime job.' Suzi was a counselor and if you asked her professional opinion of a situation, she'd take the time to share some of that training, gratis. Don't ask me how I know.
Years ago, when XPN had folk music every day of the week, Suzi led a busman's holiday to the old Spruce Street studios' from Newark's UDel station to compare notes. WVUD still has folk of one kind or another seven days.
Stand up and be counted folks. Who is willing to pick up a part of the burden Suzi has laid down? For sure it is the best way we can honor her memory.
Suzi's husband, John Lupton, says a memorial service for Suzi will be held on Thursday, August 13 at 1:00 pm at Gebhart Funeral Home, 3401 Philadelphia Pike, Claymont, DE.
A a couple Kaleidoscopes back, I wrote about the oh-so-British TV host Alan Partridge. Here's what I said:
In the Loop (see Sam Adams' review) may be Armando Iannucci's first foray into film, but he's a TV vet. As a writer and producer, Iannucci introduced Britain to talk show host Alan Partridge (played by the great Steve Coogan). Partridge is an Anglo Stephen Colbert (if he only interviewed celebs, loved Abba and weren't in on the joke). Like most BBC sitcoms, it can be uncomfortable to watch ' The Office's David Brent would think this guy is a douchebag. And that's exactly why it's funny. All three Partridge series are out on DVD. Get awkward.
Iannucci recently confirmed speculation that a Partridge movie is in the works. I'm pysched but will they 'or more importantly, can they ' market Alan Partridge to Americans? Sure, In the Loop is based on Iannucci's The Thick of It but politics and war, especially with the addition of an American delegation headed up by James Gandolfini, leads to much broader subject matter than a dickish chat host who lacks the redeeming qualities of a character like Michael Scott from the American Office. While Michael Scott works as a softened version of David Brent, taking away Partridge's bite would take all the fun out of him. And, despite trying desperately hard to break the States, Coogan has been having some trouble. His most recent starring vehicle was stuck in studio purgatory and went straight to DVD and, even though I thought it was hilarious, starring vehicle and Sundance hit Hamlet 2 received a lukewarm reception both critically and at the box office.
But judge for yourself. Here's the first ep of Partridge's second series I'm Alan Partridge (the first ' Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge is explicitly a faux chat show, while I'm Alan Partridge is more a surreal situational sitcom):
So what'd you think?
Digital cable has conquered television broadcasting, yet one pirate analog signal persists: the Channel X News Team! That is, until their broadcast is discovered by the evil KableVision corporation. On top of evil coporate entities, the CXN team has been receiving messages from the future-version of CXN weatherman Chris Galanti.
Will they infiltrate KableVision in time for their 5 p.m. broadcast? And what are these prophetic telecommunications from the future? There is more than meets the eye going on beneath the Philadelphia skyline.
This low-budget Anchorman/The Office/X-Men hybrid was created by a crew of recent Temple grads. Watch the first ep above.
A slick little eye-candy thriller with the soul of a music video, A Perfect Getaway looks the part ' but writer/director David Twohy's smart-alecky postmodern leanings end up smudging the gloss. Hollywood scribe Cliff (Steve Zahn) and his new bride Cydney (Milla Jovovich) decide to celebrate their fresh-out-the-box nuptials by hiking the remote, treacherous trails of Kaua'i. When word reaches fellow hikers that police are hunting for a couple suspected of a brutal double slaying, the yuppies do what yuppies do best ' cast paranoid judgment on everyone around them, including Nick and Gina (Timothy Olyphant and Kiele Sanchez), an affable but unsettling duo. Twohy's playful who's-hoodwinking-who work is often sharp (Olyphant's particularly fun as a batty ex-special ops killer), and the tension pops against the gorgeous tropical backdrops. But considering there are only so many actual characters, it's difficult not to foresee the epic 'twist' that's been so hyped up via the movie's marketing arm. That Twohy insists on using Cliff's screenwriting job as an excuse to get way cutesy on us ' they talk about red herrings, while surrounded by them! ' doesn't quite help.
More after the jump'
In this week's Kaleidoscope, I wrote about classic '80s cartoon She-Ra. Here's what I said:
Seems like all the Saturday morning 'toons of my youth were aimed at boys. But every once in a while, the network goddesses would throw in a half-hour for the young lady who wanted to watch some ass-kicking, too. Enter She-Ra , a cartoonette just as hardcore as her twin bro, He-Man. Watch episodes recently posted on hulu.com and try not to run around yelling "For the honor of Grayskull!"too much.
As I said in the piece, you can see all of the episodes on Hulu but for your viewing pleasure, here's the pilot ep. C'mon, you know you wanna procrastinate:
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