November 21, 2008

Alejandro Escovedo Again!

The one thing I did leave out of last week’s entry was that fact that we went to see Alejandro Escovedo again last Tuesday night. This time he was performing at the Museum of Fine Arts as opposed to the Paradise Rock Club where we saw him last Summer. Befitting the more staid atmosphere of the museum, this performance was an acoustic trio contrasting the full tilt boogie 6-piece play so loud your eardrums bleed rock band that he had with him last time. The latter venue did allow us to take the boy this time, as the club was an 18 and over establishment. I also sprung for an extra $5 on each ticket to get seating in the ‘FOH’ that put us in the 2nd row just off center. Perfect!

I have to admit that before the concert I was concerned that the trio format would somehow be less than the performance that we saw / heard last summer. I need not have worried even with just Alejandro, guitarist David Pulkingham and violinist Susan Voelz, they were still a force to be reckoned with. No ear bleeding stuff, but in some ways reducing the ensemble to three actually brings out the subtly of his compositions. Both Voelz and Pulkingham are very accomplished musicians and their ability to improvise and weave musical lines thru his tunes I find amazing. At one point in the concert Alejandro referred to Voelz as Jimi Hendrix on Violin.

With seats the 2nd row seats we were in heaven. They played a variety of songs from his different records. One particular song Everybody Loves Me (But I Don’t Know Why) as he recorded it comes off as a short angry punk influenced number. The version in the concert took that idea and expanded into a 6 or 7-minute amazing interplay between instruments wit the guitar and violin trading passages back and forth with incredible intensity. It brought me to tears. The rest of the concert was no less exceptional. I kept glancing over at the boy to see what his reaction was, and it was obvious that he was enjoying it too. They played for nearly two hours, finishing off the night by unplugging and wandering through the house stopping at different locations to sing and tell stories. One of those songs was Ian Hunter of Mott the Hoople ‘s I Wish I was Your Mother. I wish that we had been closer for that one.

We left the show exhausted, but I for one wanted more. I am not sure what it is that binds one to certain musicians. I find that after 15 years or more of listening to his music, he is still on heavy rotation in my music set. But a day doesn’t go by without me listening to something of his. There are too many elements involved to try to define what it is. So it surprises me to go to his shows and see only a few hundred people in attendance and empty seats in the house. Don’t people know what an artist and a treasure this guy is? Is his music so far off the mainstream that they just don’t get it? Maybe it is better this way, those of us who know his music are special and we have something unique to share among ourselves. And the rest of the unannointed and unwashed are just missing out.

Alejandro links:

Here is a review for a concert of his that took place a few days before the one we saw. (the Boston papers couldn’t be bothered to review it.) it catches much of the flavor and energy of the show and the writer is having a good time too.

Tulip Frenzy- A commentary on Music

There are a number of performance videos on you tube of Alejandro and company, but I couldn’t find any in the trio format. However I did find an audio link. This is a version of Everybody Loves Me from a concert recorded in April of 2007 at Concerts in Studio in Freehold, NJ as performed by the trio, it is very similar to what we heard and saw.

It may take a moment to load, please be patient.

If you want to hear the whole concert it is here.

On the other hand, I did find this video on you tube from the concert we saw last summer at the Paradise. I think the person must have stepped on my toes while taking this. The video quality is a little poor, but the audio is good, and it still captures the intensity and interplay of the musicians.

Put You Down

November 18, 2008

Who are these Roxbury turkeys?

As seen while taking the boy to school Monday morning. This little bird was strutting it's stuff in the middle of Highland Street in Roxbury about 5 blocks from the house. I had to wait a couple minutes before it decided to strut over to the side of the road so that I could pass.

It seems that there are a number of turkeys moving into the cities these days, are they getting good deals on foreclosed homes?

November 14, 2008

November Nonsense

I am not sure where to start here, it has been another full week, and in spite of my promises to myself I can’t seem to generate more than an entry a week.

I supposes that I can’t let this entry pass without saying how utterly overjoyed I was with the presidential election. I think that Obama has a level of intelligence and ability not to mention charisma that we have not seen in a president in a long time. He has some enormous challenges ahead of him what with the economic situation and the wars on tow fronts, but I think he has the ability to solve those problems. It is going to take time and sacrifice on all our part, but I think it can be done.

It is very much late fall here in New England while the weather has been pretty nice generally speaking, very little rain, moderate temperatures and no snow so far, the landscape is starting to take on that bleak gray on black look. Here are a couple of pictures to give you the feeling. These were taken at Jamaica Pond a spot I pass each day while taking the boy to school. I think that little island is becoming my muse.

These were taken roughly 24 hours apart.

I hope that it isn’t going to be a long winter, having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I am used to that dark gray look and the short days, but at least there spring comes early the crocus will come up in late February, and there are distinct signs of spring by mid March, not so In New England – you can push those events back at least a month. I remember my first winter in Connecticut. It was April, and I was still waiting for the Crocus as I recall. Since then of course I spent 15 years in Michigan; lets talk about long cold winters!! 25 degrees below zero F is not my best friend. I like to joke that we move back to New England for the warmer winters. There is some truth in that in part, the winters are a little warmer, but that just means that the snow is sloppier, and spring comes no earlier here than it does there.

Construction on the houses behind us is proceeding at a rapid pace; they completed framing in the second floor on the units nearest to us yesterday. That is a goodbye to the early morning sun streaming into the kitchen. I don’t think that they are going any higher; bit there is still a peaked roof to go on them. While there were backfilling the foundation last week the Bobcat operator clipped our back fence breaking two of the cross members and a couple of the vertical members. I noticed it as I was taking the boy to school in the morning, and pointed it out to the operator. While I was delivering the boy Mrs. went out with her best lawyer face on and talked to the foreman on the project. The fence was repaired by that evening. I was happy to see that they were trying to be good neighbors. The whole project makes me feel a little melancholy, but perhaps it is jut the time of the year. It also make me think of a children’s book about a little house that was built in the country, and gradually everything grows up around it until it is surrounded by the big city among skyscrapers; lost and forgotten. Eventually someone finds the house and moves it out to the country much like it had been originally.

When we first moved in the house in spring of 2001, it was the only house on the block. The lots on both sides of the house were vacant, and parking was never a problem. We had our own little spot on the street next to the house. Since that time three – 3 family units have been constructed across the street, and now these two 2 family units which will have their own parking on the lot, but that means curb cuts for those driveways, and you can be assured that who ever lives there is unlikely to have only one car. Soon we are going to like any other neighborhood in Boston soon, have to circle the block to find an open space.

At one time this was a densely packed neighborhood until the 1970’s when Roxbury became a no-mans land, and many houses were abandoned and either burned or torn down. As they were excavating the site for these two latest projects one could see the remnants of the foundation of the houses that had been on the lot previously

All in all it is a good thing to see the neighborhood coming back to life. I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, but it is becoming a very different neighborhood that it was when we moved here.

November 5, 2008

Halloween and other fun.

The weekend really started early Friday afternoon as I left work to get home early to get the boy ready for Halloween. We successfully recreated and improved his makeup from the previous week. He looked scarier than ever. We gathered the neighbor kids and parent to trek out to another neighborhood to do the deed. We have been going to Hyde Park to trick or treat since the boy was in 2nd grade as his best friend from the Indian summer camp lives out there. We have just continued the tradition, and coincidentally the neighbors have also gone there because a relative lives in the neighborhood. It is a little more affluent part of Boston, and there are many more houses than in our neighborhood, and ripe for the picking.

Mrs. went along this time for a change; usually she stays at hone and waits for the 12 kids who do knock on our door. (I think they are all out in Hyde Park like us.) It was a warm and clear night, perfect for trick or treating, the kids ran ahead while the parents followed at a leisurely pace. The boys costume got lots of comments. At one particular house that does a whole ‘exhibit’ in the garage, and is populated by the residents dressed as witches and various goblins they actually wanted to recruit the boy for their display. He was flattered but the call of fee candy was stronger. Surprisingly the kids wore out before the parents did. And of course they declared their exhaustion at the point that we were furthest from the car. We meandered back stopping at a few promising houses along that way. The kids were satisfied with their take, and I swear that the boy scored close to 5 lbs of candy. We all went home exhausted. Later the boy fell asleep on the floor in front of the television while Mrs. and I relaxed with vodka martinis.

Saturday morning dawned with both Mrs. and the boy suffering migraine headaches. Could it have been an overdose of Vodka and chocolate respectively? I am not allowed to comment on either of those concepts. But suffice to say that we skipped the grownups karate session. We got the boy there, but he claimed to be in too much pain to participate and just sat and watched.

Following karate, he had a birthday party to attend at a local rock climbing gym. He said he was still suffering from the headache, but thought that he could work through it for the sake of the birthday boy. What a trouper. He has been to this particular gym before and is pretty good at climbing the walls and is relatively fearless. We stuck around for a bit and watched and chatted with other parents of the attendees. We are all in awe of our respective offspring at how they have grown and changed in the last year or so. At least one parent who had not seen the boy in a while hardly recognized him. While the rock climbing continued, we slipped out and did our monthly Costco run, making it back just in time to pick him up and head home.

Groceries put away, I had to head back to work for an event in the theatre. The annual Step Show competition sponsored by the African Student Association is the first big student event of the term. Step show groups from all over the greater area are invited to compete, and it big event both on campus and off. This year was a little smaller that in the past with only about 10 groups competing. Past years have brought as many as 16 groups and over 200 performers. I was glad for the smaller show this year, it was easier to manage, and having inexperience house managers it made my task easier. As it was the house was full and we went up almost 15 minutes late trying to get everyone in the theatre. Fortunately the producing group was well organized and other than a couple o little problems the evening was nearly flawless. My green staff performed well too. I can tell who the good house managers are going to be. I appreciate it when they can see what needs to be done without asking. The other advantage of the reduced number of groups is that I got out of the theatre earlier that I might have, but it was still midnight when I got home.

Sunday was not a day of rest. They were all the Saturday chores like laundry and house cleaning to catch up on, and while I was doing that and doing my weekly shift in the help desk for my favorite video chat program (the help desk was dead by the way) Mrs. and the boy were helping wit the open house at the boy’s school.

Enough, there is still an election this week, and I am exhausted already.