Acoustics

Damn you, Martin Guitars.

jeff-tweedy-martin

Since there’s no price listed, and the briefly available Tweedy Breedlove was quite a few thousand dollars…you have to assume this one will be up there.  My first expensive guitar was a Martin D-28, which I swept many a floor and painted many a panel to purchase.  It retrospect, I sometimes wish it were a Gibson J-45.  The Martin sounds beautiful, its just a little too folk-y for some occasions.  Also, visually, its just not that cool.  And in this TMZ Kashardian world we live in, its all about the visuals.

In all seriousness, those dreadnaught Martins just don’t look that cool (at least when brand new)   So I have great respect for Tweedy and whoever designed this guitar, for changing that color.  Super cool sunburst.

Tweedy played the Bowery Ballroom last year solo acoustic, with several Martin parlor sized guitars, and one Gibson Jumbo.  I’m not sure of the model, but it had an awesome “BUCK” logo engraved in the pick guard. The first song he played with it, he messed up some chords, and apologized…he was distracted by the giant sound of the guitar.

And here it is!
And there it is!

It’s easy to overlook the fact that these instruments were designed in an era before amplification.  They were built to be heard over other instruments.  I heard someone comment recently that a violin is built like a little concert hall.  This photo essay demonstrates that

Instrumente_A4_HOCH_05.12.08.indd

A few years back while traveling with a musical outfit in Canada, a friend and I bumped into a childhood guitar hero.  I had met him at a guitar workshop when I was about 14….so another 14 years had passed.  Martin had just built him a signature guitar, and he had serial number 2 with him.  You could literally feel the joy he took in it.  He pulled it right out of the case and handed it to us, like a kid showing you some toys.  Only this guy was 70.  He might have literally said “eh? pretty cool right?” Or I might have imagined that.  It was a surreal and beautiful moment.

What must it feel like to be so known for an instrument, that a 125 year old company models one after you.  Maybe its just another day for those guys.

The Music Of The Rolling Stones @ Carnegie Hall March 13 2012

Hang in kids, this might be a long one.

Big giant tribute type shows are always risky. Put many artists on the same bill with a house band, doing songs written by someone else, and things are bound to be treacherous.  Equally, there are bound to be some great moments.  Its like a sandwich where you’re surprised/terrified with each bite.

Michael Dorf, creator of the original Knitting Factory, has been doing these type of shows for a while now.  They benefit various childrens music charities, and I think we can all get behind that.  Unless you want to get political, and instead of supporting music in schools, have a tax cut or some shit for wealthy job creators.  Anyway.  They pick an artist, a bunch of people do a song.  Its a classic formula, don’t mess with it.

I saw one of the first of these, a tribute to Bob Dylan.  There were some beautiful moments, Alan Toussaint doing “Mama You Been On My Mind” and Ryan Adams going way over his allotted time on an “Isis/Love Sick” binge.

Last night, a varied roster took on the Rolling Stones classic collection Hot Rocks.  One artist for each song, 21 in total.  Let’s talk about some highlights and other things.

Before the music, we have to talk about the crowd.  This venue was basically a living Portlandia sketch, with Fred Armisen playing every character.  There’s the dude with the hilarious spiked hair and the tye dyed “No Security” Stones shirt, wearing binoculars and a backpack, moving seats at every chance he got.  There’s the 50 year old guy with a braided pony tail, moving to the end of the balcony, dancing and snapping along like he’s at a Flamenco show on acid.  There were the slightly-overdressed slightly too old to be dancing like a drunken college girl-woman, who could not resist the urge to flail about.  What do these people do during the day?  I would love to find out.

OK, on we go.

TV On The Radio opened the evening with Italian singer Jovanotti performing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with a children’s choir. The band sounded great, but I’m pretty sure everyone got lost near the end of the song and just kept repeating the chorus, but that’s pretty much what these things are about.  You rehearse the verses and chorus so much, that you forget to come up with an ending.  It did teach me one important lesson – its all about the ending.

Ian Hunter best demonstrated this.  The Mott The Hoople front man played “19th Nervous Breakdown”  Which was not overly exciting, but his band was clearly well rehearsed, and looked like they spent lots of time coordinating outfits, which I also respect on this occasion, I mean, its Carnegie Hall, man.

The evening had 2 clear standouts.  First, you’re pretty much not going to top David Johansen on this bill.  Its an event made for him. He came out looking like every NY Jew’s aunt from Long Island who goes on too many island vacations.  White pants, white shoes, giant sunglasses, hair helmet.  “Get Off Of My Cloud” is as close to a NY Dolls song as there is in the Stones catalog…or it’s probably the opposite.

The frontrunner in all advance betting was Glen Hansard.  The man has more charisma than Obama, and is just so endearing.  He silences a crowd with solo acoustic performances. So hopes were high.  What we got was a lovely concise version of “Under My Thumb.”  With just upright bass and electric guitar, he might have owned the night.  After asking the crowd to snap along, then slowing everyone down saying “Come on guys, on the BACK of the beat, that was definitely a white snap”  the first half of the song was just bass and vocals.  He ended with a trademark segue into GLORIA, just for the hell of it.  His most insightful comment was “What kind of headspace do you have to be in to write a song like this?  This is definitely a Keith tune”

I don’t feel in the mood to dish any negative dirt, except for the fact that if you’re an actress who was in Natural Born Killers, that does not give you enough rock and roll street cred to do a Prince Style motivational breakdown in “Satisfaction”

An interesting dilemma arose about the Stones recently.  I was watching the fantastic documentary “Lemmy” about the Motorhead frontman, examining his life and approach to music.  He made the point, and I will paraphrase since I don’t remember the quote, that everyone was always arguing over who were the real “bad boys” the Beatles or the Stones.  He said there was no question, it was the Beatles.  They were from the much richer Liverpool, they played in the dangerous clubs of Hamburg, they were the real thing.  The Stones were from the suburbs, they went to art school, they were just faking it for image.  Now what impact this has on legacy, who knows, they wrote some amazing music.  But a little later on Dave Grohl made another point.

When people talk about the “Rock and Roll Lifestyle” or whatever bullshit you want to call it, they think of the Stones.  His point was, fuck that.  They’re off banging some supermodel traveling first class, while Lemmy is sitting at a bar in LA drinking Jack Daniels and working on his next album.  He doesn’t care much for image, he just is who he is.

Again, this does not dispute the fact that there was an abundance of amazing music written, it’s just something to think about.  How much do we like a legendary band for what they stood for (or what we thought they stood for) purely based on image?

Just something to think about.  Mull it over while listening to Its Only Rock And Roll.

I Only Listen to Edison Phonograph Cylinders, What Do You Have, CD’s?!

According to the New York Craigslist Instrument section, I’d say about 90% of crappy late 90’s equipment was purchased by people who now live on Long Island.  You need a Marshall Valvestate Half Stack?  How about a Hartke Bass Combo?  Some type of DSP Peavy amp?  It’s all there, those are actual examples from the first CL instruments page.  Long Island is such a weird place.  It scares the hell out of me.

CL Long Island jpg

Say what you will about elitist Brooklyn hipsters, they do appreciate a quality instruments and amps.  Vox AC15, Fender Bassman, Korg Monopoly…again, actual examples.  Just wanted to show contrast.  It’s obviously a swayed point of view, relax Vinny.

Turntable
Damn Right Thats A Grado.

After several roadblocks, our record player is up and running at the new apartment.  Before the advent of the CD, people had to be way more handy than they do these days.  Have you ever replaced a turntable cartridge?  You have to deal with color coded wires the width of a human hair, tiny little screws and washers which can easily get lost in the turntable mechanism (and did!) alignment protractors, all sorts of crap.  No wonder we’re getting fat and lazy as a nation.  I burned hundreds of calories setting this thing up.  It does sound lovely though.

I can’t afford to be an Audiophile, but if you can, Park Avenue Audio is the way to go.  They walked me through the cartridge replacement, and delayed my inevitable descent into a Woody Allen like Jewish Freakout.

The Grado cartridge (made in Park Slope!) installed probably sounds better than the broken one that was in there previously, but I really have no idea.   I’m gonna say that the effect of vinyl is partially visual.  Seeing a record spinning while you hear what’s coming out has to trick your brain into feeling something different than just seeing a status bar on your iPhone.  Seeing what a performer looks like impacts how you perceive it…I’m going to bet Vinyl has a similar effect.

Two records were picked up in celebration;  A reissue of Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings 100 Days 100 Nights just to prove both old and new releases have a place in my house.  Yeah, that’s right, always gotta prove a point.

Apparently, Time Out Of Mind was not widely released on Vinyl.  Can someone get on this shit?  All I can see are a few import copies on ebay going in the multiple hundreds of dollars, and that’s just not kosher.  Mule Vatiations is widely available though.  There’s nothing I love more than a late career renaissance by an American eccentric.

That’s all for now, I hope you all enjoyed your Leap Day.  I’m gonna go make some Kale Chips and cocktails.