Showing posts from September, 2009

Be Water Tight

Here is what happens when you are not water tight

all handled with nerves of steel by the lovely Skye.
At long last we all met up this weekend so I wouldn't have to endure more time without seeing the Lil Buddha while I am out here. She was looking particularly cute this weekend. And strikingly fashionable to boot.

This isn't turning into Conjunto Great Quote of the Day, but this one is good from Santiago Jiménez from the interview in ¡Puro Conjunto! , which is a great book.

he said "I thought that accordion music had a very happy rhythm, simple though it might have been, but very happy--which is the thing in music that makes people happy: happiness."
I came across this short (and earnest) documentary on John Donald Robb which is worth watching if only to see the old pictures. The Musical Adventures of John Donald Robb in New Mexico Robb was a composer and folklorist who recorded 3000 examples of a variety of Hispanic folk music in New Mexico. There is an incredible online digital library of his field recordings, all free and worth wandering into right now.

I've written about this before. The University of New Mexico seems to have conveniently hidden it away so it is harder to find than it was, or at least it seemed that way to me.

I gather it is the 20th anniverdary of the John Donald Trust, which made the film. Now it all makes sense.

The film also a very earnest commentator who looks like William Macy and ends up being Robb’s grandson, an anthropologist at Berkeley.
I've been reading interviews with some of the original generation conjunto musicians (conducted by Kay Francine Council in 1978) as I prepare to write an encyclopedia entry, and I've definitely learned some memorable things.

One of them is that when Tony de la Rosa started playing, his father (a professional musician) whipped him because he didn't want any of the kids to be musicians. It didn't work. Another interesting factoid is that when de la Rosa started playing professionally in a vaudeville show in Kingsville, he did so in blackface.

I wish she had asked some more questions about that! But she let this incredible fact slide right by.

Tony de la Rosa's description of his approach to playing the accordion is something else. He says he got his whole beat from Country and Western music, especially a fiddler named J.B. Burris. De la Rosa played in country bands for quite a while.

Here is de la Rosa describing his playing.

"I'm mad all the time. I'…
This past weekend was the Berkeley old time music festival. It was a superb time, there are so very many great musicians around these parts and many more that came from out of town. People are extremely friendly too, the whole thing had a good vibe as they say out here in California. The square dance was great too.

I've never been to a festival in a city, it worked fairly well since after the official events people had house parties that lasted all night and there were many opportunities to play. Maybe the best sign that it was a real festival is that I stayed up all night playing. The BART stops running at 12 so the only real choice was to keep playing and not sleep. A friend of mine had a 6 am flight so we played until it was time for him to go to the airport (and, incredibly, a ride materialized from a talented guitar player as well).

I went to most of the events, but since all good things happen at the same time I was forced to choose between seeing Benton Flippen play on …
words can't really capture what is going on here.
I recently finished Roberto Bolaño's 2666. It is a stunning book in all ways, I've only begun digesting it a couple of weeks later. Hard to describe or characterize in any brevity here so I am not going to try. A hell of a read, really funny in parts, beautifully written, suspending, and labyrinthine (cliched to call it that) without being dense and never even toeing that line of unreadability that people like Pynchon cross with impunity. I haven't found a review that says much, though there are a great many that manage to convey its power and originality and overall wonder without really giving any actual guidance as to what to make of it. Maybe the best description was this one from Adam Kirsch: "According to Proust, one proof that we are reading a major new writer is that his writing immediately strikes us as ugly. Only minor writers write beautifully, since they simply reflect back to us our preconceived notion of what beauty is; we have no problem understand…
Big shoes to fill