"Folks Behind the Faces"

The fire that ate Rick’s house will have eaten his old Martin D28. Will have eaten his old Telecaster. May have left untouched the Graphite that George Coates talked Rick into buying, just like Rick should have left it on the music store wall, so Marty told him. The fire will have eaten his “Come on Down” CDs on life at Folly Beach. Rick had almost a whole album worth of new songs finished and last week was talking with Marty about running through them with him next time he came to Atlanta. All those songs will be gone. We never heard them.

If the fire had left Rick then he would have soon been singing the secrets of fire. We would all be talking about how terrible it was his house burnt, feeling fortunate and grateful our friend was all right. And I wish that’s what I was writing tonight. I wish I was writing, “Our friend’s house burnt, but he’s all right, thankfully.”

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Article on Rick Huff’s death

Folly singer killed in fire
Rick Huff recorded 2 CDs chronicling life at the beach

BY NITA BIRMINGHAM AND PRENTISS FINDLAY
The Post and Courier

FOLLY BEACH – Singer Rick Huff, who penned songs that captured the soul of this Mayberry by the Sea, died Thursday in a fire at his house.

Huff’s death in the 10 a.m. blaze stunned local musicians and friends, who called him the poet laureate of Folly Beach and an icon. Huff recorded two CDs that chronicled everyday life on Folly, from the big orange trash truck to the veteran city clerk.

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Guess the song

Boingboing has a link to a video of San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Muriel Maffre performing “Ballet Mori”…conducted by the earth. It’s a “musical composition modulated line in real time by the fluctuations of the Earth’s movement as measured by a networked seismometer at the Hayward Fault”. The 3 minute dance was in commemoration of the 1906 San Francisco Quake.

The NY Times elaborates:

The seismic fluctuations are transmitted by a sensor at the Hayward Fault in California…a MIDI system programmed with a mix of natural sounds (rock slides, volcanic eruptions, thunderclaps) translates the fluctuations…

I called H.o.p. over as the ballet began and I asked him what the music was. He made several wrong guesses and I told him to stop and simply listen and I would tell him when the ballet was over. He watched a couple of seconds more and then he said, “Earthquake”.

Now I think that’s pretty cool that someone can listen to white noise and make that kind of a guess. Plus, I had the sound way down low (where it does seem pretty much like only white noise) so some elements couldn’t even be heard, such as water gurgles etc., which may have made it more confusing to hazard a guess actually if they could have been readily distinguished. Didn’t realize how low I had the sound until after the guessing game with H.o.p. when I later read around to see exactly how this was done and found mentions of the natural sounds that were used and that it was described as roars and crashes. Roars and crashes? So went back and turned up the volume loud and watched again.

I’m not impressed with the dance itself, at least what I could see in the video, which I know is far removed from the experience (reviews range from great and haunting to calling it unimpressive and “been there done that”) but H.o.p. enjoyed it and it made a good base for discussion on plate tectonics and seismometers and the “living earth”, a concept with which H.o.p. has obviously no problem.

Now, back to static electricity, I think. Yesterday, because of the mysterious event with the scotch tape, we did little science experiments with scotch tape demonstrating static electricity, magnetism etc. Had promised more of the same today.

I so needed this touch of clarity today

Ok, so the David Hasselhoff Hooked on a feeling video has been around a while.

But this. I just saw this today. Why are there no comments? Why has no one rated this? I so get this. The Hasselhoff “Hooked on a Feeling” video suddenly makes perfect sense. And not just perfect sense but perfectly beautiful (if there is ghastly beautiful) sense.

Or am I one of the few people who’s been there? And without the aid of anything other than me wrestling with the zeitgeist.

Maybe it’s the kind of thing people are ashamed to admit. “Yeah, I’ve been there…”

And often, too.

Which is why I’m watching this techno dub for the fourth time.

It’s brilliant.

Somebody for x’s sake go watch and tell me I’m not the only one who’s been pedaling the second wheel of this Daisy-headed bicycle built for two trying to negotiate this Daily Tribune to the ground, at least in my own head.

If you don’t know what I mean then go back to whatever you were doing and sorry for the intrusion.

Update: I’m on my 8th time watching. Serious. This is absolute genius. A shame the person felt they had to explain the pixelated effect. Why, may I ask, would they need to explain this impeccable ordering of blocks…yes, and Hasselhoff with the fish in his mouth…the twin angels of the salmon skies overseeing (as I’m on my ninth time watching now).

Remarkable.

Entropy Circus, strawberries and popsicles

Earlier was having a very nice time sitting here eating strawberries and listening to Entropy Circus’ The Goats & The Peacock from Open Source Audio. I came across it through doing a search for Caruso. And there was Entropy Circus, because it incorporates Caruso in one of the tracks. I started listening and pretty much immediately felt good (the flu/cold must be close to vanquished I thought) and got the strawberries, which have been sitting untouched in the refrigerator since the beginning of this cold/flu due to disinterest. I settled in. And after a while of listening…a long while (going through the process of first searching out who Entropy Circus is and reading some and then slipping into ancient memories of electronica, with which I’ve an intimate relationship, Marty having done a good bit with it back in the late 70s and early 80s, but one moves on and it was something I have not been inclined to give an ear to for years, unimpressed with most I heard)…I realized I was about as relaxed as I’ve been in a long while. Remarkably relaxed. This was excellent drone music.

These tracks do definitely tamper with the brain waves, despite the fact I was making comparisons, finding resemblances between this and that and electronica and rock past. Altered my brain and magically removed annoyances. Made me want a popsicle, eventually, so I got one out and my taste buds were there, for which reason I threw away the first selected, accidentally having chosen cherry, and went for the orange which is as close as I can get to eating oranges as I’m allergic to citrus, and was surprised to really taste the popsicle from the tint of bitter orange rind to the woody stick at the core. Which I credit to Entropy Circus. Interesting.

The Cadence Chamber Duet – Just in case you think Baroque isn’t exciting

At the moment I’m listening to the most extraordinary CD. It’s the Cadence Chamber Duet. She is Olena Yergiyeva, the violin part of the team. He is Ivan Yergiyev, and he plays the accordion.

I don’t always listen to music while writing because though music can fuel it can also falsely substitute mood which isn’t making it into words. But I do listen to music during certain points in drafts and editing, and what I listened to with UNENDING WONDERS OF A SUBATOMIC WORLD (see sidebar) was baroque. There were several pieces in particular that I listened to at points during the final edit, and one of those pieces was Albioni’s Adadgio in G, which though beautiful is such a popularly recorded piece, interpretations almost all uninspiring and mediocre, that I can go years without hearing it and feel no deprivation. However, recently, I signed up for a membership at the Classical Music Archives because I wanted access to a number of different pieces without purchasing whole CDs, and among those recordings was Cadence’s interpretation of Adagio in G.

That is how I came across Cadence.

Much of life is chore and agony, but I still get goosebumps when I come upon something exciting musically. And I played Cadence’s Adagio in G repeatedly. At first I sat and listened. And H.o.p. was fascinated as well. Then introducing it to Marty I was on my feet, the music pushing me around the room. “Listen, listen…listen to that voice…it’s amazing!” This beautiful, pure violin with this gutsy accordion, sometimes brazen, sometimes sneaky. Bold music. Pure feeling music. I’d never heard anything like it before. Completely new to my ears, this accordion chiming, chirping, wheezing, grinding, buzzing, singing beside the violin.

Ivan was made an Honored Artist of Ukraine in 2002. Olena is principal violist in the Odessa Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. Ivan is “considered a pioneer of modern Ukraninian accordion playing,” and took Grand Prix at the Orpheus Prize Competition in 1995 at Antwerp. They took first prize in 2000 at the Melody for Two Hearts Competition in Kiev,first prize in 1999 at the Vogttlandishcer Musikwettbeverbe and 2nd prize in 1999 at the Citta di Castelfidadardo Competition.

Right now I’m listening to an accordion solo, fifth song on this CD, “Schtehedrin, Hommage a Albeniz”. And I could listen to it, as with the Albioni, 40 times over. A voice, not just notes. A real voice within the music.

I’m still at a loss for how to describe this music. Fabulous, grinding grit and majesty and pathos. Ah, no shame to it at all. Can you imagine what I mean when I say music in which there is no shame, no retiring, no placing one’s self behind and inferior to the song. Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon” probably best captured standard baroque when it is a sense of the inescapable machine and the tragedy and sometimes beauty of it. But this takes baroque into an entirely different, human, break-the-machine realm. But it’s not just baroque that Cadence plays. I’ve never cared before for Shastocovich, but they have two pieces on the CD and now I can hear Shastacovich’s voice and believe it, at least as interpreted by Cadence.

At least that is what I hear in Cadence, music that breaks the machine. Music that you could play when you’re on your way to meeting and dealing with some of the harshest moments life throws in your path in its most rigorous this-is-inescapable-destiny-for-all times, because this combination of accordion and violin pulls one outside the machine, and gives individual dignity. Here, as I listen a sad, brave moment is immediately followed with humor, the accordion and violin working in tandem, the violin scratching raw over these accordion bursts.

From the age of 7 to 14 I studied violin. My instructor for some reason expected me to do something with it. I supposedly had a very nice voice on the violin. I won a scholarship out of the blue and went to Brevard one summer, but violin wasn’t my life. It hardly ranked as a tiny part of it. I didn’t plan on playing violin as a career and I couldn’t make myself pursue music because I didn’t see where I could inject a voice in chamber music or the orchestra, and I didn’t want to just play notes, I wanted to say something. I didn’t excell…which I suppose is one reason my instructor kept insisting I should pursue a career in it, ironically enough. Because I never practiced, I never touched it, and still managed to I guess express a certain something. I don’t know. “If you’d only practice,” I was told week after week. I’m still befuddled at how eager my instructor (first chair of the local orchestra) and the head of the music department at the college (and conductor of the local orchestra) were to keep me studying violin. I knew how inferior I was, yet when I was 14 and told them I was quitting, they both pulled me into the office for a meeting, insistent I continue, openly frustrated and even angry that I was quitting. I couldn’t imagine why they were angry with me. I was completely befuddled. What in the world did they expect me to do with the violin that they were so adamant I keep at it? I felt totally incompetent, as if I was guessing at and faking everything I played.

I did miss it to a degree. My violin was an ancient one that buzzed and the back kept falling off of it and my instructor kept repairing it for me. I had played from when I was seven and for years afterwards, no longer having an instrument, I played air violin when listening to baroque. I once had the privilege of playing a Stradivarius and had no idea how an instrument could almost sing of its own accord. It was a couple of years after I’d quit the violin. I played one note on the strad and was so overcome by the ease, the naturalness, the purity of the sound that I put the violin down. The owner tried to get me to play more but I refused.

Had I been exposed to music such as this I might have continued. Though I might have instead picked up the accordion and dropped the violin. But I guess I couldn’t leave music completely. So I married a musician. Though not one who was classically trained. I didn’t want anything more to do with the world of classically trained musicians.

H.o.p. had never been told I played violin, and I don’t play much violin music around here, so I was surprised when at the age of five he said he would like to learn violin. He wasn’t at a stage yet to really be interested in taking lessons and said so himself. Nowadays he vacillates back and forth between violin and accordion (believe it or not). He likes the sound of both. And though Marty plays accordion, H.o.p. has never heard or seen him play it because he only plays it at Cajun gigs, so that has not been an influence. So it makes me wonder about a natural pairing of the accordion voice with that of the violin. As Marty says, you get that magic of accordion and violin in Cajun music. When he started playing accordion in the studio it was doubling string lines or using it as part of a string arrangement. A keyboardist, as I mentioned, Marty eventually picked up accordion for cajun gigs and has played it now for about 15 years. When I played him Cadence, he was floored. As with me, he’d heard nothing like this before.

Cadence doesn’t have any place online where they’re currently selling CDs, which is too bad because chamber players and accordion players in America ought to be exposed to and listening to this. There is a natural connection between the two instruments that’s magical.

Anyway, there’s not much on the web about Cadence so I’m putting this up so there will be one more thing about them. And if you’re interested, I’m certain if you write them (link to the page with info on and their email) you could arrange to purchase a CD. There are also sound files you can subscribe for free to play. And you ought to be interested. Because the music of Cadence is good for the soul music. Inspiring. Gorgeous. Spirited. Comic. Bold and absolutely riveting music.

The Show Must Go On (not, but seems to be)

“Pinocchio, you’ve returned!” And here am I, the first decent morning I’ve had in a while, the whale’s mouth opening a crack. H.o.p. is running in to yell, “The garbage truck is here! The garbage truck is here!” Bang, boom, crash. He sits back down at the computer to draw some more of the marvelous pictures of robots he’s been sketching. And guess what he’s listening to over and over again. I know everyone out there in Progressiveland hates Lileks (I’m not blogging for Progressiveland however, I’m just blogging), and Lileks weirds me out as well and his politics–in fact I’ve thought of, in a sense, the Hanford paintings as being rather anti-Lileks, not him personally but that nostalgia for the 50’s, when the atom bomb ruled the earth (he leaves out that part). Anyway, Alicublog had a link to a Lileks post the other day, one he deplored, and I visited and returned for some reason today. I was thinking of the posts that Lileks wrote on the death of his mother, just like I’d thought of them–his mention of his mother’s hospital bed in the living room–when my father-in-law apologized for the hospital bed in his family room our last visit before he died. Anyway, I read his Bleat and because he mentioned his knowledge of the use of the theramin in “The Day the Earth Stood Still” and that it was in his podcast, I chose to listen to his podcast for a first time…

Which H.o.p. loved. He loved the theramin from “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. He wanted me to play it over and over. The podcast, which was mostly sci-fi music and commentary on it, ended (almost) with the movie theme from the 1996 movie, “Star Trek: First Contact”, which I don’t think I’ve even seen. Lots of horns. Something I wouldn’t usually like, I don’t believe, except it has vague touches of Ennio Morricone touching down in those horns and I love Ennio Morricone. I’m crazy about Morricone’s music. I need to get a CD to replace the tape I used to have of Morricone.

H.o.p. liked the music. He wanted to know what it was about. I said it was from Star Trek. He wanted to know what Star Trek was.

Oh m’god. H.o.p. doesn’t know what Star Trek is. I’m not a television sci-fi fan because I’m not a television fan and I just don’t care that much for television faces and stories. But I was raised on the original Star Trek and watched reruns of it throughout my twenties. For all its flaws and though a western vehicle shot into space, it was an important show. And H.o.p. didn’t know what Star Trek was. Knows Star Wars but not Star Trek. Damn.

Marty and I were talking before he headed out the door with our old vacuum cleaner (which is one of H.o.p.’s puppet friends and he didn’t want to see it go but we convinced it would be fine at the Singing Store where it might even be fixed, and he liked the idea of it being fixed). H.o.p. was playing the Lileks podcast over and over and over again, going from the theramin to the Star Trek music to the theramin. Marty left and I introduced H.o.p. to Star Trek through Dr. Spock, he liking the idea of aliens. H.o.p. gave me back my computer so I could finish the Hanford pic I have been working on. He wanted me to bring up the podcast on his computer. Which I did.

I finished working on the Hanford pic while Lileks had a “word from our sponsor” moment which was a 1950s Edsel commercial, and I was thinking about those plutonium radiated people at Hanford who had great faith in plutonium and thought they were protected from it, who went home and looked at ads for cars with rocketship tail lights and envisioned a future that was Cadillac Fantasia.

But H.o.p., who knows nothing of the 50s and the 60s and the 70s and the 80s and the 90s, kept going to the theramin and then the Star Trek music, appreciating it with his Today ears, and somewhere between the 10th and 20th listen it drew me in, and H.o.p. too, having given me some big hugs. I sat and looked at his intent self, listening to the Star Trek music, which has all the starry-eyed hope of “Once Upon a Time in the West” and nothing of the heart-busting pathos, for which reason it’s not at all of the same caliber, and it was suddenly a good morning. The Star Trek music had sucked me in, its broad, sailing, warm french horns (a good friend of mine is a french horn player), and for the first time in a long while I didn’t feel like the show ended gazillions of years ago when the universe splattered itself all over the cosmic kitchen floor, it’s all for naught, a Big Zero instead of a Magnificient Circle of Life, so what the fuck am I still doing here. Not a recent development, and something I plan on milking for all its worth with the new novel I’m working on, which has been incubating a while (old one up in the left hand corner there, one of the old ones at least). I felt happy. I was looking at H.o.p. and thinking this really is fine and I asked him for another hug.

I felt happy and didn’t know if I might have been still feeling miserable if H.o.p. and I hadn’t listened to the Lileks podcast and that felt odd.

I started making coffee and H.o.p. wanted a H.o.p. moment with me. He hugged and hugged me and had me sit with him on the bed so we could look at each other and talk. He was playing the Star Trek music again and talking about how much he loved it, that it made him think of robots and he told me all about the robot movie he’s going to make.

He suddenly said, “What’s the other world like?”

I said no one knows.

He said, “Is life like a field trip and death is home?”

I don’t talk about “It’s All For Naught, a Big Zero” around H.o.p. I talk about the Circle of Life. And this was a new one, the comparing death to “home” and life as an excursion. Where did he come up with that, I wondered, since, he has so struggled with the idea of death, doesn’t like it, doesn’t like to think about death. I thought how certainly many people think of life and death in that manner but I thought it best to expand it a little.

I said, well, I don’t know but that some people thought that. I said no matter what that he is life and that life of which he is made, that is everything he is, will live on, perhaps not as he understands it now, but it will live on.

This I know is so. Despite my own angst over the worthiness of personal ventures in the face of the great sea.

I heard my computer signing off after a Windows update and jumped up to try to catch it as I had unsaved material, but it was too late.

“Oh, it’s lost,” I said.

“Don’t worry. That’s the Circle of Life,” H.o.p. said brightly. “You haven’t lost it. Nothing’s lost.”

“Oh, really,” I said, pouring coffee.

Which was the wrap-up of “Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World in Search of The Great Penguin” (up there in the left corner).

As he gazed up at me, smiling, reassuring, I tried to remember if I’d phrased this sentiment in that way for him in the past. I wasn’t sure that I had. Maybe. Maybe not. It’s funny what he picks up and keeps and what he tosses. Because he tosses a lot. He’s his own person. Which is what the nickname, H.o.p., stands for. “His Own Person.” Which I want him to be and he certainly is because we have profoundly different opinions and thoughts on things. He’s not a “yes” kid. He’s not an “Oh, you like that, then I like that too” kid.

“You know, that’s the Circle of Life,” he said, smiling. “You lose something and you find it again later!”

Wacom and plainchant

This is going to take some getting used to, but, oh yeah, Wacom! Listening to madrigals and drawing with the new Wacom, a fine way to spend an evening. Except I don’t have any madrigals, for which reason I’m at Amazon clicking over and over again on offered selections. And as it turns out, H.o.p. likes madrigals. “Again, again, again!” I’d feel bad about all this, like I was swamped in luxury, but I’ve wanted a Wacom tablet for five years. Since I don’t have madrigals, and H.o.p. likes them, I have found my way to Dovesong which has available free downloads and am pursuing Palestrina. Just a couple things, don’t want to take advantage (as they ask you to please take it easy on their servers). And now some plainsong. Third Mass for the Nativity of Jesus Christ, recorded by the Benedictine Monks of the Abbey of Saint Martin, Beuron in 1960…which I’m now playing. Funny, the brain. A couple of minutes into it and I start smellilng incense.

Thumbs Carllile

With a nod to Dharma Bums who got me started thinking about it. Rexroth’s Daughter wrote a beautiful post on the how and why she is a collector of handshakes and her passion for it is a beautiful one unsullied by dropping-name ambitions, each handshake opening to the worlds of those others and the people with whom they’ve shaken hands, a the conviction of inter-relatedness symbolized in that brief touch, traveling on, connecting us with the journey and experiences of, eventually, everyone.

Anyway, this is something I’ve thought about putting together for H.o.p. from time to time, a brief collection of the people we’ve known and those tendrils. Because one day he may be curious. Or maybe not. And even if I don’t put it together, I for some reason have always thought I ought to write a brief piece here about Thumbs Carllile, so I will go ahead and do so. Don’t know why. He just has always come to mind in that way. A person you’ve known that ought to be remembered, and his family remarked upon.

Marty, my husband, sat in with Thumbs’ trio a few times and has played with his daughter, Kathy, in her band “Tabasco” in an off-and-on forever kind of way. She sings a shred-the-velvet-curtains blues, huge voice wringing out her diminutive frame until all that’s left is a halo of soul. Tammy, another daughter of Thumbs, and a hell of a singer as well, did the vocal for some music in a play of mine once. And I was present when Virginia, Thumbs’ wife, sang, “I’m so lonely I could cry” at his wake at The Freight Room in 1987, which is something I will never forget. Nor will I forget his funeral, which was a funeral one could respect, and that’s rare.

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Wabanog

I was going to make a post. I had made a post. But it is all screwed up in IE so I have to figure out tonight what’s going on in IE means starting over from scratch on this template and rebuilding it again and seeing what’s going on. In the meanwhile I’m going to listen to Wabanog. Go to 46:59 of the Native Voices June 18 2005 show if you want to hear what’s going to be soothing my spirit into the wee hours of the mornings. I ordered the CD at CDBaby and let them know I’d heard about them through Native Voices.

A great show is the May 14 2005 one, which I listened to all last night while working. Featured the music of American Warriors: Songs for Indian Veterans, Plains Chippewa/Metis Music from Turtle Mountain CD, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Creation’s Journey, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Native American Traditions, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Custer Died for Your Sins album, Red Crow Productions, Joanne Shenandoah, Canyon Records, Red Thunder, Makoce Wakan, album, Eagle Thunder Records, Bill Miller, The Red Road, Warner Brothers Records, Keith Secola and the Wild Band of Indians.