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November 2011

October 2011

Fun Fun Fun Fest #6


Long time readers of FoM will remember my two previous visits to Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest, in 2007 and 2009. Now in it's 6th year, FFF has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings in postage stamp Waterloo Park, expanding to a full three-day lineup (Nov 4-6) with no fewer than 130 bands. (What is this, ACL?)

As in previous years, there are multiple stages, each with it's own distinct programming: indie, electronic, comedy and - the wild card - metal/hard rock. I mean, can you think of another festival that pairs Spoon with Slayer? 

If you're planning to be in Austin next weekend (like me), tickets are still available for the very reasonable price of $135. You could also buy a single-day ticket for $55, but why would you? I mean, just check out this lineup.

Happy Halloween

DSC05680Among the countless costume parties happening this weekend as part of the modern-day carnevale known as Halloween, last night's Rubulad shindig in a Gowanus warehouse at least offered some musical diversions beyond Bobby "Boris" Pickett. Accordionist Mary-Go-Round sounded like a cross between Edith Piaf and Janis Joplin, while the Morricone Youth - all wearing identical rubber masks - jammed a brass-heavy mix of film soundtracks, along with some spicy originals. I swear, you've never seen Spiderman get down like that.

More pics on the photo page

Alex Ross: Listen to This

DSC05663In 2004, Alex Ross, the New Yorker's music critic, wrote "Listen To This": an 8,000 word essay that sought to reconcile his equal loves of classical and popular music. Indeed, Alex's article was one of the first, high-profile attempts to argue that there is, in fact, no value difference between classical and popular music: they each stand on their own merits, and one is certainly no "better" than the other. (You can read "Listen To This" on The New Yorker website (subscription req'd.))

For me, "Listen To This" was an immediate validation of everything I ever thought and felt about music, and was, in many ways (in addition to Alex's blog The Rest is Noise), the inspiration for this website.

"Listen to This" was expanded  into a full book of the same name last year, combining New Yorker essays from the past 13 years with some new and revised material. At the 92Y Tribeca on Thursday, Alex gave a lunchtime lecture to celebrate the paperback release of Listen To This, taking a room filled with about 30 people through his chapter on the persistence of the descending musical figure throughout history: from the Rennaissance chacona, to the bass line of the blues, to Led Zepplin's "Dazed and Confused." For all his erudition and knowledge, Alex has always been a master at breaking down complex musical concepts, using imagery that even non-musicians can relate to:

"Note the descending six-note figure here," he said before playing an excerpt from Purcell's Dido and Aeneas. "You can tell something bad is about to happen."

Afterward, I asked Alex to sign a copy of Listen To This for me, which he did. "What are you seeing this week?" he asked. "I'm sure we'll bump into each other at some point."

Suffice to say, I consider myself fortunate anytime I get to share the aisle with Alex. And, so should you.