Just finished recording my tracks for the new CD to benefit the Farm Labor Organizing Committee. Should be out by the end of September – hopefully in time for the Woody Guthrie Tribute at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on October 5th.

Anyway – this new CD, as did the last one (Baldemar Velasquez and the Aguila Negra Band Canciones por la Causa), features singer/songwriter/guitarist Baldemar Velasquez, the president of FLOC, and bajo sexto guitarist, singer, and accordionist extraordinaire Jesse Ponce. Recorded by my favorite engineer Jerry Brown at The Rubber Room in Chapel Hill, NC.

New and old Mexican music and labor songs. It will be available through FLOC and the Labor Heritage Foundation.

Oh, and thanks, Jesse and Baldemar, for teaching me to play the huapango

37 Cellos, 1 Man

This Video has been around for a while but I just saw it for the first time. Cellist, composer, and all-around very interesting person Ethan Winer put together a one-man band to beat all. So who was here first – Ethan or Apocalyptica? Really – this cello video made me laugh and want to have some fun doing this myself (just for my own personal enjoyment). Ethan’s website is full of useful information for cellists but his server was overloaded with so many people viewing the video so the video link goes to Youtube.

Pat Metheny Trio/Quartet

“An excess of talent on stage” were the words ringing in my head (or was that my ears ringing?) as I left the concert at Page Auditorium, Duke University last night. Made me want to put together a lecture for my students on the importance of not letting your talents get in the way of the music. Pat Metheny, standing inside a ring of amplifiers, is clearly a man in love with his sound. And he makes wonderful sounds and so many of them. His technique is awesome and even overwhelming. And his volume is – well – high. After being totally amazed by his sheer talent for the first few tunes I was ready to sit back and close my eyes and just enjoy some good music but it almost never got to that point. There were some golden moments but this concert was mostly about Pat, loud and clear. Bassist Christian McBride is a powerful and very musical player but most of what he played was drowned out by the guitar sound. His first solos of the evening were very lyrical but as the volume increased during the evening he appeared to adapt the classic bassist “if you can’t beat them, join them” attitude and cranked out impressive “power” solos – overwhelming in their virtuosity but lacking subtlety. His look late in the evening pretty much said “I know I’m doing my job here and doing it well. Too bad no one can hear me.” Drummer Antonio Sanchez is the perfect match for Metheny – a “wall of sound” drummer. He was a joy to watch and hear – a person who has just the right sound and complex rhythm for every occasion. I often wished for more space in his accompaniments though there was only one tune where that would have been appropriate – a ballad where he kept up constant cymbal rolls throughout. Just a little space would have been nice. But his were the finest solos of the evening – much drama, humor, dynamics, and incredible phrasing on top of highly virtuostic playing. The drum solos were also where some of the most interesting ensemble playing came in. Metheny and McBride punctuated the drum solos with subtle but complex lines and punches that really highlighted the group’s tightness and made it more like chamber music. Tenor saxophonist David Sanchez joined the group late in the evening and his first piece – a duet with Metheny that sounded like a Jobim tune – was the most beautiful moment of the whole evening. This was the sparseness and beauty and soulfulness I had been wanting to hear all night. Metheny’s playing was more like his playing with bassist Charlie Haden on Beyond The Missouri Sky and David Sanchez had that same simple, lyrical, and heart wrenching approach that Haden has. It was a bittersweet moment and got me through the rest of the evening which was basically “lets crank up the guitar!!!”.

Hurricane Katrina Benefit

Come to Panzanella Restaurant in Carrboro, NC on Monday, Sept. 26th from 6:00 – 9:30 PM. I’ll be playing with the Bernie Petteway Jazz Trio, Charles Pettee and friends will be there and other great music, too. They have great food and all proceeds go to hurricane relief efforts.

Triangle Land Conservancy

Doing a little volunteer trail clearing at Johnston’s Mill Nature Preserve this morning I met the new “Stewardship Specialist” for the Triangle Land Conservancy, Doug Sprouse (on right).

This was after a very sweaty time clearing brush around the trails. Jim Newlin is on the left. If you live in this area you should join and support this organization. The Triangle Land Conservancy and the Eno River Association have done more to preserve the beauty and resources of this part of the state than any other group or agency that I know of. Doug tells me there is a lot of work to do at the White Pines Preserve which I have not visited yet but hear that it is incredibly beautiful. Contact TLC if you want to volunteer to help out.


Singing for Snorers

Singing for Snorers was featured on NPR this morning. Oh, the muscles we never think about exercising and the unforseen consequences of a flabby soft palate. This makes sense and the exercises would probably be helpful for anyone who has to do a lot of speaking, too. I see more employment for voice teachers. So if your spouse suggests that your shower performance could use a little tweaking and buys you some voice lessons there may be an ulterior motive.


Singing for Snorers says:
August 8th, 2005 at 5:36 pm

Hi there, I’m Alise Ojay the person who created “Singing for Snorers”. I found this link because people have been coming to my website from here. I just want to correct the sound you’ve all been singing! What I sang on NPR was “uNg-gah” (not “umgah”)- that “Ung” sound gets the soft palate right down onto the back of the tongue before the “gah” sound lifts it up, maximising the movement of the soft palate up and down. Cheers.