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Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

Bob Dylan Nobel Prize
O'Neill. Faulkner. Hemingway. Dylan.

Ending years of what many felt was nothing more than wild speculation, the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature this morning to Bob Dylan for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Dylan is the first American to win the prize since Toni Morrison in 1993. More importantly - especially for music lovers - he is the first-ever musician to win the award, given annually in recognition of "the most outstanding work in an ideal direction."

When asked if Dylan truly deserved the award, the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, had this to say:

"Of course he deserves it! He is a great poet in the grand English poetic tradition. He's been at it for 54 years now, reinventing himself constantly...If you look back 2,500 years or so, you discover Homer and Sappho, who wrote poetic texts that were meant to be performed, often together with instruments. It is the same way with Bob Dylan. He can be read, and he should be read. The times are-a-changing, perhaps."

When asked if there were particular examples of Dylan's work which swayed the jury, Danius cited Blonde on Blonde (1966) as "an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming and putting together refrains, and his pictorial thinking." 

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Glenn Branca Ensemble at Roulette

DSC03261A packed house filled Roulette on Saturday night, where experimental composer/musician Glenn Branca led an ensemble of four electric guitars, bass and drums in two of his works, including "The Light (For David)", written in tribute to his musical hero and sometime collaborator, David Bowie.  The music was, as you might expect, loud, but also surprisingly intricate and complex, with multiple tunings and a wide range of dynamics. Branca himself conducted, flailing his arms around like a man possessed in between swigs from a bottle of unspecified liquid. It felt epic and strange, orchestral and rocking, all at the same time. I'm not sure it's the sort of thing I'd listen to at home - which I'm sure my neighbors would appreciate - but I'm glad I was there. 

More pics on the photo page.  

Pathway to Paris Benefit for Climate Change at City Winery


"If we don't act boldly (with regards to climate change), the bill that could come due will be mass migrations. And cities submerged. And nations displaced... The Paris Agreement gives us a framework to act, but only if we scale up our ambition, and there must be a sense of urgency about bringing the agreement into force...Only then can we continue lifting all people up from poverty without condemning our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair." - President Barack Obama, Address to the U.N. General Assembly, 9/20/16

Donald Trump can call it a hoax all he wants: climate change is real. I saw it with my own eyes earlier this month in Alaska, where the glaciers have retreated with alarming speed, some reduced to little more than dirty snowballs. Fortunately, world leaders have decided to do something about it, meeting last year in Paris to draft the first comprehensive, worldwide agreement to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases beginning in 2020. With ratification by the U.S. and China earlier this month, and India's announcement over the weekend that they will ratify it this week, the agreement is tantalizingly close to the 55% threshold required for it to take effect. 

But, with Trump vowing to pull out of Paris if he is elected president, the agreement's fate is still far from certain. So, on the eve of last week's U.N. General AssemblyJesse Paris Smith (daughter of Patti Smith) and Rebecca Foon assembled an all-star lineup of musicians and activists at City Winery through their watchdog organization Pathway to Paris. Performers included folksters Martha Wainwright, Lucy Wainwright Roche and Suzzy Roche, the ecstatic thrash of Xylouris/White, and the remarkable Tibetan vocalist Techung.

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Dr. Dog and The Knights at BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn!

DSC00267I had other plans for Saturday, so Friday was my last opportunity to stop by BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! this summer, where Philly rockers Dr. Dog were joined by openers The Knights and a local gospel choir for an extended set. While their music owes a lot to The Flaming Lips, Pavement, and other 90's indie bands, they have their own infectious energy, propelled by Toby Leaman's urgently delivered vocals and Soctt McMicken's strong guitar work.

Thanks, BRIC, for another amazing summer at the bandshell - though there's more great music to be had this fall at BRIC House in downtown Brooklyn, including the BRIC JazzFest in October, shows by The Knights, and more. I just wish I could walk home from there.

More pics from Friday's show on the photo page