Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If you come to our show at the Crocodile on Saturday...

.. you might see me playing this instrument.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Thursday, March 26, 2009

This Friday and Saturday: Small-Town Rumors and Chicken Tales!

This Friday and Saturday, one night only (each night), your second-favorite monkey bluegrass side project, THE HALF BROTHERS brings you a show of positively golden proportions featuring approximately 5/7ths of the members of "Awesome" and so many other people and things and objects and stuff that you will most likely explode in an icy ball of bacon-wrapped ham.

First of all, we've got a brand (spanking) new thing by Sgt. Rigsby And His Amazing Silhouettes, called The Epic of Gallus Domesticus. If you don't know what I'm talking about because you blacked out after the last Sgt Rigsby show you saw, maybe the picture there will remind you.

Yes, shadow puppets. And chickens. With a multitude of voices done by our own trumpeteer Evan Mosher and drummist Bort Kleisterton. Plus the accordion playing puppet master Rob Witmer mooing and quacking and "shaking a chicken" or two.

Annex Theater's own writer/raconteur Bret Fetzer (left) directed the show, and will also be on hand to read a few BRAND NEW fairy tales written just for this very special special evening.

Then we have punk marimba virtuoso Erin Jorgensen (right) who will debut new arrangements of Appalachian mountain gospel songs. I don't know how she does what she does, but it blows my mind every time. I think it has something to do with her yarn-ball mallets. Man would my cats love to get a hold of those.

And Erin will be bringing with her the sweet soul-saving singing of Sunday Services. Allah be praised!

AND!!!!! (Saving the best for last!) This show also features the unparalleled puppetry talents of the inimitable BEN LAURENCE. (Pictured here in last year's Broadway smash, the screwball action mime-opera comedy, Every Which Way But Noose.)

The Stranger gave the show a "Stranger Suggests", and tickets are already selling fast.

(Theatre Off Jackson, 409 Seventh Ave S, www.brownpapertickets.com. Fri–Sat at 7:30 pm, $12 adv/$15 door.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

It's getting better.

This is sooooo going to work. A bari sax is going to fall out of the sky. You just watch.

Still waiting

Saturday, March 21, 2009

I'm not stopping until I get that baritone sax.

HERE is a snippet of a rough mix of The Boy From Lam Kien.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Anyone have a baritone sax we can borrow?

We're almost done recording The Boy From Lam Kien Salon. We just need to add a bari sax. Anyone? Anyone?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Quote of the day

"One thing reason does is really force you to make choices, because the universe is pretty much infinite."
-Pete Remine 3/14/09
(during the recording of Robot Ghosts at Dubtrain)

Friday, March 13, 2009

And the elephant is wearing rollerskates

What grade should I give this project?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

more on writing lyrics

the students brainstormed a list of things that make for good lyrics and then we made it into a handout. What else should we add to this list?

Writing Lyrics
Topic – what’s the song about?
• Beware of hackneyed, over-done topics:
---> How about a misogynistic rap song about how you’re the best rapper, the toughest gangster and how all women love you? BORING!
---> Love songs? Well, 90% of pop music is about love and relationships, so if you’re going to do a song on that topic, you’d better have a new take on it.
* Think about topics that you don’t often hear in songs. (This is one of the great things about Kunjabunja titles – they often make you write about topics you’d never think to write a song about.) I’ve never heard a song about getting stuck in an elevator with someone who hums along with the elevator music, or a song about why hermit crabs are cooler than giant squid, or a song about the Pythagorean Theorem, or a song about the Financial Aid Form, or a song about a guy who always uses orange (never yellow or green) highlighter pens, etc. etc. etc. You can take a real story and change some of the facts (a song about George W. Bush in 2004 deciding to pull out of the Iraq War, or do a fictitious story about what happened behind the scenes in a real event (e.g., a song about John Wilkes Booth hiding in the Ford Theater, waiting for Abraham Lincoln to show up so he can assassinate him, but he’s really got to pee, and he’s not sure how long he can hold it), or just do a song about a real event, but concentrate on some tiny obscure detail of it (e.g., a song about the design on the tie that George Bush was wearing on 9/11).

Wordplay I – the sounds of the words:
• Rhythm – vary it up a little. Make one word long and slow and then cram a whole bunch of words into one space. Set up a pattern of rhythm and then break it.
• Rhyme – remember internal rhymes too; rhymes don’t always have to (or only) come at the end of a line. Sometimes not rhyming when a rhyme is expected is a powerful way of focusing people’s attention. (There’s a They Might Be Giants song that does that: “you're the only one here who can tell me if it's true. / That you love me and I love… me” – you expect to hear ‘you’ because it rhymes with ‘true’)
• Repetition – a good tool to emphasize something, but beware of beating your listeners over the head with something that is repeated too many times.
• Alliteration / Consonance – repetition of similar consonant sounds together, like “the sun settled on the south hill with sudden color”
• Assonance – similarity in sound between internal vowels in neighboring words, like, “Yo! Yo! You better go mow that fro you’re growing”

Wordplay II – the meaning of the words:

• Irony – sometimes it’s a great tool to say the opposite of what you mean.
• Metaphor – Instead of just coming out and directly saying what you want to say, why not say it indirectly with metaphor? But beware of using clichéd, obvious, or over-used metaphors.
• Imagery –This is crucial in good songwriting. But beware of using clichéd, obvious, or over-used images.
• Storytelling (beginning/middle/end).
• Call-backs – weaving in a theme. (Sometimes it’s fun to just pick some idea at random and challenge yourself to work it into the song at certain points. Like polar bears. Even if your song isn’t about polar bears.) Think about weaving in your theme in different ways each time.
• More than one thing going on. The lyrics mention one thing, but really you’re talking about something else. E.g., the song seems to be about how the spotted owl is disappearing, but really it’s about how all your friends are growing up, getting married and moving to the suburbs. That’s much more interesting than a song that’s just about the spotted owl, or a song that just comes out and baldly says “golly, all my friends are growing up, getting married, and moving to the suburbs.”

Other things to keep in mind:
• Brevity / the concise nature of songwriting. Remember that you don’t have to have complete sentences, or pay attention to the rules of grammar. Ask yourself – can I take out this word and still get across the general idea? Think of the famous William Carlos Williams poem: “so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.” It conveys so much with so little.
• Use your thesaurus. For each word, ask if there’s a better word, a less-used word, a more interesting word.
• Avoid cliché’s!
• Use specifics! Avoid generalities. This is very important. With one specific example, you can get an idea across succinctly.
• Show don’t tell. Instead of saying, “It was a very cold day”, say “I could see my breath puffing through my chattering teeth”
• Don’t spell things out for your listener. Let them figure it out for themselves. You just give them the clues.
• Set up a pattern and then break it. This could be with the rhythm, or rhyme scheme, or with ideas, or with the structure of the song.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The story of how I came to be in the band known as “Awesome”

I used to be in this show called Carlotta’s Late Night Wing-Ding. I played Carlotta’s wayward son Slaw (named after my daddy’s favorite salad – if I was a girl they was gonna call me Ambrosia). Occasionally I’d play the banjo. The show would have musical guests, and one of them was Jose Bold, aka John Osebold. (Now John and I had a tiny bit of overlap in the theater department at UW, but we didn’t really know each other from back then. Also, he used to have a band named Player King and I used to have a band called Mah Jong, and we both played together one night at a crappy bar in the U-district. But other than that, we didn’t know each other.) John invited me (as Slaw) to play a song with him (I think it was an arrangement of Dueling Banjos), and then another. (Click HERE to hear one of these things, a song John wrote to celebrate the 8th year of the Wing Ding.) Around the same time John doing things with John A and Evan, and pretty soon the four of us were doing things together and we called ourselves “Awesome,” as a joke more or less – I mean, I know that I didn’t at that time think that it was a permanent thing. I certainly wouldn’t have predicted that we’d still be playing together 5 years later. No one said, “hey, let’s start a band and really make a go of this. And I have our band name – It’s ‘Awesome’.” We just kept playing together because it was fun and the name stuck.

So anyway, I haven’t performed with the Wing Ding in a couple of years now, but the reason I started thinking about all this is that this weekend (Friday and Saturday, 10:30pm at Open Circle Theater), I’ll be in the Wing Ding again, reprising Slaw. So if anyone wants to see me do a southern accent and fall down a lot, this is your chance. Oh, and the Half Brothers will the be musical guest, and we’ll be debuting some new songs from a piece that we’ve informally been calling The Chicken Cycle – it’s basically a Sgt. Rigsby’s shadow puppet show with Half Brothers music.

Oh, and this weekend is also NAKED NIGHT at the Wing Ding: If you come half naked, you get half off your ticket. Come buck naked, get in for a buck. (Nobody’s required to be naked of course. Most people don’t.) But you may see people in various states of nakedness. The Goddess Kring (of cable-access-TV fame) will also be a guest. It’s going to be a strange strange night.

research for The West starts back east

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Good Lyrics?

I need some examples of songs with great lyrics and/or songwriters who are particularly good at writing lyrics.