Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why The Artist Creates

On Wednesday night I rented the Chris Isaak video collection, but viewed it only with his audio commentary, which, as others noted, was hilarious.

I have been on a Gram Parsons 'study' since before our first show with Dave Gleason last October. That's not to say I was unaware, since my earliest country music was Emmy Lou Harris' Luxury Liner, purchased in 1993. That albums features Parsons' penned title track and She, which I used for my tagline this morning. I should write about Gram and Chris Ethridge (Burrito's bass player) in some future blog. I can't believe I missed The Gilded Palace of Sin until early this year.

Anyway, I have a large collection of VHS-archived music shows. Living in Mountain View with three PBS stations and two VCRs, I bulked up quite a collection. Recently I was going through the collection to find the Gram Parsons tribute that was on the wonderful and far too shortly lived Sessions at West 54th. Oh, so why am I talking about this now? I inadvertantly taped part of an informercial type show called Emotional Intelligence. The next time it aired, I set the timer and captured the whole thing. It was good, but immediately following there is a documentary film called Why The Artist Creates. I have watched this film previously three or four times.

Well, tonight, a little insomniatic, I put it together that this documentary is about Rowland Salley, who is the long-time bass player for Chris Isaak! The film is memorable and good on it's own merits. In fact, there is no mention of Chris Isaak in it at all. As I watch it now, he said that Apache turned him on to music. I have been spinning my Dad's Ventures album with that song since I was about seven. Dad played it, too. Neato.

You will never see this movie, unless you borrow it from me. I don't think it's available elsewhere. This article mentions some of the details. The depth of character from what would seem like a pop bass player is put to rest early on. He speaks a lot of quality and at one moment describes a perfomance being less about him, but the sum of all the elements present. He, the band, the audience, make up the night. Strangely, the film is left rather amiguous and no clear answer is provided as to why the artist creates. Except that he is compelled to because the creation of art is it's own reward.

These kind of connections seem important to me, and seem to only happen with music and film.

Sound as ever, Andrew

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Moanin' at Midnight

Do your self a favor and rent the Howlin' Wolf Story. Netflix, Blockbuster. I want to thank Dave Gleason and Joseph Martini for planting the seed so I remembered to look into it.

Wolf was the first blues master I got into, back before the days of comprehensive internet discographies and limitless supply of CDs (via Amazon or similar). As described in my guitar blog, I left the pursuit of blues guitar behind, but not what I learned. I still feel like a fraud when I play the blues, being a white guy.

I got the blues and there ain't none of it to do with race. At midnight last night I started this movie, thinking it would help me sleep and was riveted. I can't believe that Hubert Sumlin is still alive, coherent, and totally awesome.

I know that going back to the master artists is not for everyone. Hell, most bluegrass folks don't even like Bill Monroe! Similarly, listening to old blues recordings is not an easy experience. Here's the intro to Howlin' Wolf's Moanin' At Midnight (you have to have iTunes).

Just wanted to share.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Baja Sessions

Chris Isaak's Baja Sessions is one of my favorite 40 minute experiences every time I play it. Hershel Yatovitz's guitar parts are perfect, all of the instrument tones, especially acoustic, are perfect. Kenney Dale Johnson (drums) Rowland Salley (bass) play like one guy. That happens when you play together for 15 years I suppose. They are now up to 25 years as the SAME damn line up, which is pretty cool.

I got this album when it was new and have never grown tired of it. It is his best work, closely followed by Heart Shaped World (1989) then San Francisco Days (1993) and Forever Blue (1995) as a triumvirate of very enjoyable records. I am quite certain that my assessment of this album's greatness is shared by few. Oh, wait, take a look at the reviews at Amazon. I'd only add that it seems more acoustic and Hawiian than Mexican.

I saw them perform for my first time in South Lake Tahoe on March 31 and it was great. Clearly 'worked up' (that is to say 'scripted') -- hell, they're all practically actors now, since Showtime's The Chris Isaak Show, but very, very entertaining. When will that ever make it to DVD?

As I write this, I learned that a DVD package from the Baja Sessions is due to be released. Rad! I'll keep my eye on that.

So I'll close with a quote of a review for the TV show. It has to be said that almost no one in the UK has heard of Chris Isaaks [sic] (I see he was on Top of The Pops twice in nine years) and his kind of music has to be a niche appeal product, mainly, I suspect, for grannies and gays. I'm not sure how to take that you damn redcoat!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


All right, so I think I finally perfected the disabling margarita. I though I would share.

My love of the margarita started when I lived in Mountain View starting in 1997. The finest mexican food I have ever had is downtown there called Fiesta Del Mar. (Browse over there and check out the over-the-top margarita selection.) Eventually the staff knew me by sight, and began to share the secrets to their perfect margaritas. It really is in the sweet and sour. They never told me the recipe specifics, but on several occasions allowed me a glass of just the mix. They told me how they made it, but most importantly, the juice is always fresh-squeezed.

So here we go. Never use margarita mix unless you want it to taste like the ones from every god damn gringo-ed mexi restaurant from here to Delaware.

I've had to adapt to 2 for $1 limes (ouch!) and the overall smallness of them here in Reno. So, to start, the mix is made from a 4:1 ratio of fresh limes:lemons. I used 4 limes and 1 lemon. That made ~8 oz of juice, which I added 8 more ounces of not from concentrate limeade. That amount is flavored to taste and I like 'em a little tart. That's probably a fair amount of water, so add sugar if it's too tart.

Now equally important is you must have quality tequila and citrus liqueurs. The recipe is straight forward -- ratios are 2:2:1 of mix, tequila, liqueur. My preferred? A double!
4 oz Sauza Hornitos tequila
4 oz of homeade mix
2 oz Cointreau (or 1 oz of each: Cointreau and Grand Marnier)
Shake with ice, pour into big glass (usually a PINT!), stay off myspace and don't drive anywhere!

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