Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Monday, February 20, 2006

the great Ethel Waters

Last week caught the L.A. band Listing Ship at a cafe; friends of a friend. A 7-piece band: guitar, stand-up bass, viola, violin, vibraphone, drums, plus a singer -- the violist, violinist & guitarist all sing too. Melodic folky densely orchestrated arty quirk pop with indy-style light vocals, though sometimes in 3 & 4-part harmony. Great drummer & hot string players; some of the violin-viola playing gave me goosebumps. Vibes in the soup giving countermelodies & riffs, low in the mix, just right. Enjoyed gabbing with them very much; having a mutual friend gave us an opening; seem like nice people. Hope to see them again some time.

The barista at the cafe had scars along her arm in a pretty design.

“Are those scars?”

Fierce, excited smile: “Yeah, they’re burns!”

“Wow, that must’ve hurt!”

Fiercely smiling: “Yeah!”

* * *

Rented “Cabin in the Sky.” Ethel Waters is radiant, a great actress & singer; Eddie “Rochester” Anderson has an amazing singing voice; the jitterbugging scene is astonishing; lots of great dancing; some great songs; a happening story; the man playing the tough-guy saloonkeeper is at least as good as Edward Arnold -- a great movie.

Also got “Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus,” curious to see footage of Jagger, who, I’d been told, was a great dancer. Well, his cockiness is charismatic, his sneering is somewhat amusing, he wrote some kickin’ songs (“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”!) but that’s about as far as I’ll go. I started to understand the mystique of Charlie Watts -- he really does give the band excitement. Mostly, though, the opening acts -- Jethro Tull, Marianne Faithful, Taj Mahal, the Who (and I love Moon & Entwistle) -- underscored why the Beatles’ music stood out. Lennon sang “Yer Blues” with an all-star pick-up band; he played his double-stop triplet solo note-for-note from the record -- it’s a great lead, why change it? -- and just the casualness with which he tossed the solo off, as if to say, “yeah, I can play great leads when the song needs it, but it’s not my thing, it’s just something I can do” -- well, OK then. My favorite segment was Yoko’s caterwauling in front of the Lennon All-Star band. That, and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” despite Jagger’s silly sneering preening. Bad-boy-ism is just so . . . adolescent. Silly in a grown man. The other Stones tunes, eh. As a whole, it made me feel that late ‘60s rock was a loooow point of 20th century popular music.

* * *

Conversations today with the 3-year-old.

A short monologue from the carseat: “It’s a bluey day. The lake is blue, the sky is blue. Look at how big the blue is. It’s enormous!”

And walking in the park after having tried out the tricycle.

“I’m a tricycle. I’m a tricycle that talks!”

“What does the tricycle that talks say?”

“The tricycle that talks says ‘Why’ all the time!”

I crack up. “That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Smiling knowingly, speaking forcefully: “Why?!”

* * *

I fly to Michigan tonight to be with my family as my dad undergoes surgery. He’s doing well, and they wouldn’t be doing the surgery if he weren’t doing so well, but it will be intense & there’s risk involved & I need to be there (though my folks told me not to come -- I’m being disobedient). Probably no blogging here for a week or so. Catch you on the flipflop.

love the conversation with the kid. very enlightened. hope your dad is ok.
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