Thursday, August 19, 2010

More Random Blogging

Well, before I deluge you with some posts for incredible books I've read this summer, I have a few more random comments, photos, You Tubes, etc. to talk about.

First off, from the amazing show I attended earlier this year, here's my brilliant son, Eric Slick, on drums, Tom and Jim Hamilton of the American Babies on vocals, guitar, and bass respectively, Aron Magner of the Disco Biscuits on keyboards, and a whole host of other notables sitting in on cello, violin, etc. If I talk to Eric later today and get their names, I will add them in with links. In the meantime, enjoy their awesome cover of David Bowie's Life on Mars.

Also, I now have better photos of my birthday presents, including the gorgeous flowers and collages. And for good measure, photos of the Slick farm, which this year not only featured basil, oregano and tomatoes, but...holy cow...peppers! Ha ha, considering these were grown in front of my "townhouse" in Fairmount (I am sure the neighbors are all thrilled) because apparently my backyard has become a country club for squirrels (did you know they like to munch on bicycle seats, too)...anyway, considering that, the bounty this year is most impressive! Getting back to the squirrels, I am easily distracted watching them everyday because my writing desk is right next to the sliding glass doors leading to the backyard and I've been studying them as they've apparently been building their nest all summer...erm...out of bicycle seats, an old umbrella that used to be attached to a table I have out there and keep meaning to replace every year, and whatever trash I keep in cans without lids until collection day...I gotta figure out a way to take a picture of said nest (after I find it, that is) because it must be one hell of a piece of abstract art. In case you are wondering why I put trash in containers without lids, well, I wonder that, too. Wait. What I really wonder is, where do the lids go? The same place as socks in the dryer? I'm thinking when I am brave enough to go out back and search for the squirrels' nest, it's going to be a bilevel condo constructed of said lids with sofas and chairs made out of my expensive socks from Plage Tahiti. Ha ha, I put that link in not because it's a link to the actual store, it's a Philly magazine site that recommends it but if one is to believe said ad, my socks are "well-fitting and trendy without being brash."

By the way, the book you see on the table was a gift from my brother, David, and here's a link to the author and his work...mindblowing stuff.

I always hated my birthday - well, I didn't hate celebrating it, I just hated the date: August 17, because it meant the summer was ending and it was either back to school or, when I did my time in the legal field, it was generally trial season which meant I was pretty much nauseous 24/7 until Christmas. But now I'm like, oh good, I love the fall, all of my favorite holidays are in the autumn, even the Jewish ones I don't celebrate religion wise, just food wise...actually, let's be honest, I love all holidays solely based on food. So from September until New Years, between the Jewish New Year, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, I'm in heaven.

Speaking of food, and when don't I, daughter Julie will be over here later today for her usual Thursday visit, i.e., my house becomes a laundromat while the two of us hit the local Farmer's Market at my corner (yep, I'm lucky!) and then head further into town for Happy Hour. We were going to take a walk on the wild side and try a new place called Tweed because they allegedly have outrageous $5.00 cocktails at Happy Hour but I'm worried about the many fattening bar appetizers. One drink and I will be throwing caution to the wind and eating fried everything which is not a good idea when I am trying to get into shape for the real eating season mentioned above. So we'll probably just hit our usual spot, Fish where I will stay my sensible vegetarian self and merely indulge in things like cocktails made with cucumbers and basil. I know, I know. That sounds yuppie/hipster disgusting. But trust me on this...delicious. Really. Sometimes yupsters do get it right. But I am laughing my ass off at certain menu items I've seen recently, and I am not making this up: Harpoon caught swordfish (lovely image and I get what they are telling us, but still. Ew.) and my personal favorite, sustainable nature harvest pork belly. Damn it, I can't find the link for the restaurant which serves that but trust me, I read about it somewhere this week. Someone please explain what the hell that means. I do know one thing. I am glad I gave up meat a year ago before they started calling pulled pork sandwiches "pork belly". That alone is enough to make me gag. Ooh, ooh, lemme have some more of that belly, will you?

What the hell is wrong with people?

Anyway, yeah, tomorrow marks my one year anniversary as a vegetarian. I am thinking I am going to celebrate by making this:

Here's the recipe.

(But most likely I'll just order from Charlie's even if it does mean driving there.)

Hide your eyes, Perry Block. I met Perry yesterday in the most roundabout way which I'll explain in a minute but his blog, which I just linked, is cracking me the hell up. Apparently Perry has a problem with cheese. Here's his post on that, which caused me to literally laugh out loud. Fromage-A-Phobia.

So how did I meet Perry? Well, I signed up for another one of my on-line follies, an authors' group with a notoriously slow website and infuriating people who serial blog all day. They have a home page for the most recent journal entries and only space for about a dozen photos of authors for each incoming new blogpost. So if someone serial blogs throughout the day, their photo pops up five different times and in five places, knocking everyone else off the home page, thereby ensuring the rest of us no readers. I was in a feisty mood earlier this week and wrote a blog post complaining about them and offering a simple, courteous suggestion, i.e., if you must serial blog all day, make additions to your original post so you don't keep wiping all of us out. But...sigh...apparently serial bloggers only read their own posts because I didn't shame the worst perps out of it and they continue to cluelessly post throughout the day. I could tolerate this if they were funny or interesting, but most of the time, they just post links to other people's articles. Yo, buddy. This is 2010. We are all internet savvy and can find cool articles ourselves. But hey, thanks, anyway. NOT.

So I wrote that blog post trying to shake things up, and I got a response from a very cool writer out on the west coast who basically told me to calm down, relax, and not let it get to me. Sure, easy for him to say, living in the sunshine as part of the original Summer of Love group out there. But all kidding aside, I saw his point and we corresponded, and lo and behold, I find out he's originally from Philadelphia. He asked me if I'd be interested in submitting work to a publication out of Philly I never even heard pays! So I clicked on the link he provided and learn it's run by the former editor of Philadelphia Magazine, and I absolutely loved it..and that's where I stumbled on Perry Block's work. After reading it all and spending hours giggling like an idiot, I wrote to Dan (former Philly Magazine editor) and asked him if he'd be interested in having me on board. I sent him a link to something I wrote and within minutes he wrote back "Yes!"

So now I'm all happy.

Thus that frustrating authors' site with the serial bloggers was good for something after all so I'm not going to give up on it. Yet. I also met a cool guy who just wrote a book about Jimi Hendrix there and we've been corresponding, too. He got a review in Rolling Stone! Since my good friend Anil Prasad has a new book coming out in October with brilliant interviews of what has to be the most interesting people in music, I want to pick his brain how he got Rolling Stone on board. Heh...I'm not going to link his book until he tells me. :)

Okay, enough. I leave you with one of my favorite Dr. Dog tunes, which someone was just kind enough to put up on You Tube from the XPN festival last month, and you can actually see my son on the drums...excellent quality so now I am in even better spirits.

Actually, I am not 100% happy. I need to give a serious shout out to my good friend, Andre Cholmondeley, whose significant other, Cheri Jiosne, is fighting breast cancer. From Andre's Facebook page today:

"Very tough day. Cheri in hospital, her cancer fight has become very very difficult. Need miracles."

Our lovely health care system in this country has effectively destroyed their lives. I was ripped apart hearing the latest news. Andre has been such a good and close friend - as I've written here repeatedly, he was the first person to take a chance on Eric when he was 18 when he hired him as Project Object's drummer, and then he was basically the right hand man to Adrian Belew for almost three years taking care of not only Adrian but my son and daughter as well. Andre has been with Cheri since college over 20 years, and he recently told me she was the one who helped him launch Project Object.

My heart goes out to them and their families. Even if you are a total heathen like me, please light candles, envision white light, pray...whatever it is that works for you. Life is beautiful, but it can also throw you some pretty awful curveballs.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Odds and Sods for Wednesday, August 18, 2010

(I'm adding ETAs (edited to add) at the bottom of this post and I've already put in some links I neglected to put up in my original post today)

Whoops, here's an ETA I want to put up front: Dr. Dog in The Huffington Post!

Well, before I launch into my usual spiel of all that's been going on at Casa Slick, I woke up this morning to a very nice surprise: All About Jazz has an absolutely stellar review of Julie's new CD.

"Julie Slick
Julie Slick | Self Produced (2010)
By John Kelman

Despite a sudden explosion of female bassists—from Aussie Tal Wilkenfeld (Jeff Beck, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea) to acoustic bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding (Joe Lovano—assessing them on the basis of gender would be wrong, since every one of them easily stands beside their male counterparts. The same can be said for Julie Slick, still on the shy side of 25 and with a remarkable number of high profile credits in the progressive rock world, including King Crimson guitarist Adrian Belew's Power Trio, responsible for the live Side Four (Self Produced, 2007) and e (Self Produced, 2010). Since joining the Paul Green School of Rock Music in 1998 at the age of 12, she's gone on to record and/or tour with artists including The Police's Stewart Copeland and Yes' Jon Anderson. Slick's self-titled debut reflects the progressive tendencies of her recent work with Belew; a studio concoction of fourteen originals, where she layers keyboards, programming and guitar, in addition to some stunning electric bass work...."

Read the rest right here.

Also, my Google stalking of my kids yielded yet another review I was not aware written by DGMLive's Sid Smith, who had this to say:

"A Slick Debut
Julie Slick

There are some players who take a while to mature and there are others who miraculously arrive fully mature. Just in her early 20s, bassist Julie Slick can confidently be said to fall into the latter category...."

Read the rest here.

So I just had one of the best birthdays ever yesterday - and actually, it spanned two days, since Julie had to work last night. Monday night the entire family was together, which is so rare with Julie and Eric usually off touring the world and now that they are in different bands, the chances of having them both home at the same time is greatly diminished so trust me, I really appreciated that dinner! We went to my favorite low-key hang-out, Silk City...vegetarian friendly, great cocktails, and a funky outdoor area with colored lights and I guess a tiki theme, I dunno, but we sat outside with our drinks and there was a nice breeze blowing and just a general, awesome vibe, and naturally J&E knew a bunch of people also eating/working there which is always fun because they are always asked a million questions about their brilliant lives and I sit there beaming like I'm 100% responsible. Well...I am at least 50% responsible, right?

Julie and Eric showed up at Silk City with a huge bouquet of flowers and a bottle of wine for me. When I left the restaurant holding them, I felt like Woody Allen when he won the beauty pageant in Sleeper.

Okay, so that photo doesn't show him holding the flowers he won when he was crowned Miss America but of my all time favorite movies and I'm very much like Woody Allen (circa 1973, that is)

So we sat outside and sipped our drinks and Eric told me all about the Dr. Dog show at Governor's Island in NY Sunday night...I listened to the live stream, it was amazing, and here's two You Tubes from that...the first is Shame, Shame, the title track from their latest record, and the second is a brand new song and that's all I'm saying, other than it rocks!!
(Though perhaps there are a few hints in the You Tube comments?)

Eric also mentioned his new website should be up and running any day now, so I'll definitely make an announcement here as soon as that happens - I saw the initial design and it's very cool and very Eric.

Julie is still unwinding from what was the most incredible tour ever with Adrian down in South America. I posted You Tubes of that on my Facebook page but in case you missed them, here's A Little Madness and Three of a Perfect Pair as you've never quite heard them before:

And if you visit Adrian's website, the dates for the European tour are starting to appear and I understand there's a secret week being added at the end. (Sob...does this mean Thanksgiving alone? Eric may have a top secret gig, too, but he hopefully will be home in time regardless)

So everyone is in a really good head right now, including me, even though I am backed up with book reviews. Ariel, Gina, Marcy...they are coming. I have the first drafts written, and if I wasn't such a perfectionist, I'd have posted them already but I want the reviews to do your respective books justice...all three blew me away and I don't want to simply write a few paragraphs.

Anyway, back to my after a really lovely night out, yesterday, the actual day, I spent writing and surfing the web in my favorite outfit, i.e., pajamas, and then I decided to get dressed because Eric was coming over for dinner but the dog went ballistic on me as soon as I put jeans on and took my hair out of its usual messy ponytail. He was like, "Oh, no, you don't. You are not going out two days in a row." Think I'm kidding? Eric saw it for himself. The dog hounded me so much that I finally gave up, took my pajama pants into the powder room to change back, and while I was doing that, Monty stood outside the bathroom door and howled and scratched at said door. It was hilarious. He must have thought I was doing something even more ominous, like putting on lipstick and a coat.

I mean, really. Who has to put their hair in a ponytail to please a dog? But I kid you not, the minute I shake my hair free he starts to panic. It's really very touching - he's twelve and a half years old and essentially on chemotherapy so he's a bit shaky at times - he won't walk up stairs now unless someone is behind him, etc.

This time last year I was preparing to fly to Nashville to embark on a three week tour with the kids. That seems like a thousand years ago now and I could never do anything like that again, anyway. Selling merch at rock concerts is not for the weak of heart, and neither is touring. I am much better off at home base, living vicariously through J&E.

So anyway, Eric came over bearing gifts of beautiful paintings/collages he made for me and I also got a pound cake (because I don't like birthday cake with sugary icing) and let me plug said cake - it's from a place called Denise's Delicacies in North Philly and I defy anyone to say there's a better pound cake on the planet. They trump Stock's, which is the place everyone goes nuts over but you know me, I never like what the masses like, anyway.

Eric took some pics of the artwork/cake/wine for me to post here and they were supposed to include the gorgeous flowers, too, but they did not, and I am such a reject I tried to take them myself this morning and failed utterly, but I wanted to post the photos anyway so here they are, flaws and all:

Okay, Eric's pic of the cake/wine/artwork isn't flawed, just mine, but I'll try again later. The flowers are truly magnificent, trust me.

Oh, one more thing - mark September 1 on your calendars - Julie, Eric, and Robbie Seahag, a/k/a/ Paper Cat, have a gig at Blockley Pourhouse in Philadelphia. Here's a link to the Facebook Event Page but of course I'll be posting more on the show as it draws closer.

Seems to me I have a lot more to say but I'm drawing a blank right now and have to finish up those reviews and then actually work on my own novel so if I remember what it is I wanted to tell you, I'll be back.

ETA: I'm back already. I knew there was something I left out. It's been so long since I did a regular blog post I'd been keeping a running list. Here's a four part review of Julie and Adrian's recent solo show at World Cafe Live written by Jeff Boule, who has affectionally given me the nickname of birdwoman.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four


Friday, August 06, 2010

Crow by Martin Lennon

"Crow is an album of songs drenched in emotion – lots of pain and misery, sure, but also joy, passion and love. These songs are among the first I've written in over thirty years, and they have the added weight of a couple of decades of living and performance behind them. As a former member of a travelling party/covers band, this is my first album – perhaps not such a big deal, but as a 50 year old man I'm proud to be stepping off 'on the road' alone for the first time, as well as being somewhat surprised that it's taken me this long to decide to do it."

So writes Martin Lennon when talking about his debut release, Crow. And yes, he should be proud.

Sometimes I am lucky enough to stumble on new music which is so unbelievable, I knee before the Gods of the Internet and shout "Thank you!" to my laptop and the heavens.

That's the way I felt about Crow. Quite frankly, if this were twenty years ago and Martin had a traditional record label, he would probably win a Grammy as singer/songwriter of the year. Not that winning a Grammy is an indication of great music -- it never was -- but I say this for the sole reason that Martin's music is so brilliant that it crosses over into many genres. Fans of everyone from Leonard Cohen to Tom Waits to Bob Dylan to Savoy Brown and ZZ Top to J.J. Cale type country western/blues will find something to love on every track of this recording. There are fourteen songs, and not a bad one in the bunch. Because Martin does not tell you in his above mentioned blurb, his primary career was as a music critic and I will spill the beans here for you only because as a writer, I was interested in how he would do with lyrics. Well. Try stark, haunting, and perfect for each particular melody. They are Dylanesque, but perhaps even more like Leonard Cohen...or maybe just uniquely Martin. And he was kind enough to include them on his website.

Let me also add that he has surrounded himself with first class musicians for this endeavor. I was not familiar with any of the players involved, but I intend to check each of them out further, that's for sure. On absolutely brilliant trumpet is Charles Dearness; the bassist is amazing, too, and his name is Andy Gilmour, Sarah Anderson, she of the beautiful voice, does backing vocals, and of course we have Martin on guitar, bass, vocals, percussion and programming.

Here's a track by track review:

Magpie – excellent choice for the first song, it showcases Martin's great guitar work and deep, bluesy voice that sounds more like the Mississipi Delta than his native Scotland. He could seriously duet with Dr. John or Leon Russell. I even got a Stephen Stills vibe but then it hit me that the melody is very reminiscent of Traffic's Pearly Queen if it were performed by Tom Waits. Here's a taste of the lyrics:

"I’m just a big fat bird, with a long black tail
I want to steal your love away
I’m going to grab that diamond from your delicate hands
I’m going to steal your love away"

Feels so good – very bluesy, great harmonies with Sarah Anderson and Charles Dearness on trumpet. Again, the placement of this tune as #2 on the album feels very, very right:

"These blues don’t take this pain away
These blues don’t pay my bills
These blues don’t help me overcome
And they don’t give me thrills"

Crow – Having heard the stripped down version last year on Martin's MySpace, this song is the first I fell in love with. Again, dark lyrics that go with the melody and it's without a doubt one of those songs you love on first listen. It gets under your skin, and Martin probably knows this is his best, strongest song – it’s the title of the CD. Or, maybe he's the Crow.

"Sometimes I feel just like a crow
I want to dig at someone’s words
And feel them roll around my beak
Until I know exactly how they think"

Big Black Cloud – Another dark song with absolutely awesome guitar work.

"You broke my heart, you broke my will
And you left me there for dead
You lied to me, you lied barefaced
With every little thing you said"

It's interesting to me how the lyrics move from hopeless to hopeful over the course of the album. Since Martin mentions they were written over a thirty year time period, you can feel the tone shift as he finds joy in both the decision to finally pursue his musical career and perhaps a true love? You'll see what I mean in a minute.

Blue Eyes – This is pure Leon Redbone without the sometimes annoying inflection and really, vintage Tom Waits. Once again, Charles Dearness on trumpet just blows me away.

"Your blue eyes, as they look at me
Blue eyes make a child of me
Blue eyes look and see my soul
Pretty blue, blue eyes"

Easy Way to Fall – This is Savoy Brown meets ZZ Top – or the way ZZ Top wishes they sounded. Are you hip to Savoy Brown? You should be. For me to give Martin a Savoy Brown comparison is high praise.

"You know I want to live
I never want to die at all
But if I must, I want to find
An easy way to fall
I try to never tell a lie
The few I tell are small
So that if I ever slip, I’ll have
An easy way to fall"

Butterfly Girl – probably the most country western tune but without the hokey stuff and cheesy lyrics. Instead, Martin sings:

"Little green shoes on your tiny feet
And your curls and ribbons and that fairytale dress
You’re a butterfly girl in a hard cruel world
And you can fly"

Fingers in your Hair – this is a love song. Plain and simple. Bare guitar and vocals and heartfelt lyrics that sucks the air out of your lungs.

"I hold your hand against my heart
I hold your hand against my heart
I hold your hand against my beating heart
And your love, your love makes me strong"

I Always Knew
– Quite frankly, this is a classic. I can picture Harry Connick, Jr. singing this. Contrary to what you think, coming from a rocker chick like me, this is not a slam but a high compliment because whether you like him or not, Harry would take this song to #1, it would be the best song he ever covered, but I know I’d always prefer Martin’s version.

"I knew what I should do
What I should do with you

Kiss You – When I heard the first few notes, I got a definite Can’t Find My Way Home (Eric Clapton and Blind Faith) vibe, but it quickly turned into something else – sort of still like that but sung by Tom Waits with haunting guitar and tambourine complimenting…

"Don’t want to make you hide your face
Or dance the rain out of the skies
Don’t want to watch you as you fall
Into somebody else’s lies"

Map of the World – Gorgeous, gorgeous song and so Leonard Cohen it’s ridiculous but Martin's musical delivery is better. This is genius.

"You gave to me, once,
A map of the world
I travelled its lines
and its contours and folds
and the faded-ink place names
and symbols and signs
and all from the depths of my mind

Old Heart – Erm…what was I saying about the other songs on this CD? Maybe this is my favorite? How did this man not grow up in the deep South? This is the blues, baby.

"I’ve got a hard old heart, I’ve got a hard old heart
It’s been broken and beaten up too many times
Filled up with anger and darkness and grime
I don’t want this hard old heart
I don’t want this hard old heart"

Ribbons and Bows – Oh boy, here’s another top hit for Harry Connick, Jr. The horn in this perfect. This is probably the most commercial song on the CD but does that mean I don’t like it? Hell, no! It’s awesome. It's the kind of song that makes me smile and bop around the house.

"All of that misery and all of that pain
What does it matter and what does it mean
We either die young or we live till we’re old
Looking for ribbons and bows made of gold"

Actually, I'm going to reference Savoy Brown again - these lyrics would fit perfectly to Needle and Spoon.

Days to Come – The absolute perfect last song. Gorgeous melody but it’s the uplifting, full of love lyrics, on obvious tribute to his new sweetheart. Or maybe just happy coincidence?

"I will walk through this garden
I will follow you anywhere
I will walk through this garden
All these days to come

I will walk beside you always
And hold my head up high
I will walk beside you always
All these days to come

All these days
These days gone by
They all brought me to here

I will walk this holy path
Beside you hand in hand
I will walk this sacred path
All these days to come

All these days
These days gone by
They all brought me to you"

So Martin Lennon is my official "find" of 2010. And at age fifty, his life is not half over, he’s just at the beginning of Part II and it’s going to be one hell of a grand finale.

You can pick up Crow at the following:


Martin's website (both download and CD)

And have a listen over at Reverb Nation.

In this ridiculous world of American Idol and Justin Bieber and Lady GaG, it's important to support independent musicians. And people like Martin Lennon are a rare and wonderful find.