Category Archives: Movies

Almost True: The Real, Realer, and Realest of the Music Movies

The wonderful Weeklings published my essay, Almost True: The Real, Realer, and Realest of the Music Movies  in which I cite Almost Famous, That Thing Your Do!, Georgia, and Sling Blade (yes, Sling Blade) as getting as close to the experience of being in band as a film can. Bonus rockin’ video clips. (There are more films that get pretty close, but those will have to wait for Almost True, Too.) Click HERE to enjoy.

almost-famous-almost-famous-61998_1024_7681ThatThingYouDo1Jennifer Jason Leigh Georgia 7doyle


Crenshaw Christmas!

Webzine Rural Intelligence hired me to interview the estimable Marshall Crenshaw for a holiday-themed piece. In addition to discussing his wonderfully offbeat taste in Christmas music (which I share) we chatted about his new record club, a throwback to subscription services of bygone days and an ingenious bit of outside-the-box creative marketing. Although the first release I Don’t See You Laughing Now hasn’t “officially” dropped, the club is already a success, thanks to a buzzworthy Kickstarter campaign.

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pic by Todd Chalfant

Clearly, Crenshaw has made his mark over the last three decades, cultivating an ardent fanbase willing to pay for music they have not yet heard. It’s a good bet, though; I received a promo of  I Don’t See You Laughing Now and I can attest, it is a sonic feast, and lo and behold, you can easily read the liner notes. It was fun to put the needle down on virgin vinyl. The memories flooded.

Marshall was a pleasure to talk to and very gracious. I mentioned how much I’d enjoyed his last CD Jaggedland and he surprised me by citing a review I wrote of it in 2009. He said my review was “a keeper.” That made me feel good. Jaggedland connected with me on a very deep level; when I reviewed it, I was going through a rough time personally, and the tunes lit up the dark corners, made me feel less alone, less despairing. One of the songs, “Live and Learn,” was made into a wonderful video, using archival footage of Our Gang, which I watched on UHF when I was a kid. I only just learned the sad story of what became of Alfalfa…

 

One video clip of a song that didn’t make it into the piece, but should be seen and, much more importantly, heard far and wide, is The Drifters’ version of “White Christmas” (below). This version inspired Marshall to seek out “interesting Christmas music.” Details in the piece.

 

I only regret that time did not permit me to discuss one of my favorite Crenshaw tunes, the theme song from one of the best musical biopics of all time, Walk Hard, a hilarious send-up of the trope-y  biopic genre, and thus far, John C. Reilly’s finest hour onscreen. Rent it if you’ve not done so.

 

Hoping this finds everyone well and surrounded by love and light.

Conspiracies, Blasphemies, Gouda, and Love Stories

I’ve been busy writing for both Rock Paper Photo and Chronogram. Please find a round-up below.

For RPP, I’ve weighed in on CDs by Fiona Apple, Joe Jackson, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young; I also penned a post about both  Tenacious D’s Rize of the Fenix and the amazing Jack Black, whose performance in this year’s Bernie is a stunner. Rent it.

For Chronogram, I wrote about books by local authors Guy Lawson and John Long and a I reviewed a new CD from my muso friends Mike + Ruthy, whose The NYC EP makes me so proud to know them.

MUSIC:

I first saw Mike + Ruthy at the Photosensualis Gallery in Woodstock in, I think, ’06, and they wowed me: vocal harmonies, chops, and a je ne sais pas vibe evoking Dylan and Baez, Parsons and Harris, etc… for my money they’re on a par with all the greats. Seriously.

When their son Willy became an Uncle Rock fan, we crossed paths more often. Last winter Ruthy and I taught a music class in Woodstock and she learnt me “I Been Workin’ On The Railroad,” which is more complicated than you’d think.

Ruthy Ungar and me with cookies made by students at our music class. Pic by Nicole Jurain.

Despite its sophistication, “I Been Workin’ On The Railroad” is instantly memorable to any kid, even if they’ve never heard it before, sort of like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Witnessing a child as young as three or four apprehend a song so quickly, as if it’s in their DNA, is eerie and cool.

I’m happy to spread the word about Mike + Ruthy’s new release. Click on the image below for my review (more an appreciation, really) of their The NYC EP. Listen and/or buy HERE.

Mike + Ruthy’s The NYC EP.

For my Rock Paper Photo blog posts, click on the pix below.

Fiona Apple by Anna Webber

Joe Jackson by Mark Hanauer

Dylan by Dezo Hofmann

Neil Young by Jay Blakesburg

Neil Young by Jay Blakesburg

Jack Black by Stephen Stickler

BOOKS:

Octopus is Guy Lawson‘s deeply researched, true account of Madoff-esque Wall Street hedge fund manager Sam Israel, who loses all his investors’ millions and goes on an international adventure to try to get it back, all the while ingesting copious drugs, falling into the clutches of world-class con men, and suffering from delusions. As with all my Chronogram work, there’s a local angle, and it turns out I’ve met acclaimed author Guy Lawson, whose twin daughters were once, you guessed it, Uncle Rock fans (now they’ve aged out). Plus, Guy’s wife Maya Kaimal is a renowned cookbook author and maker of the most amazing sauces, which we purchase at the local supermarket and consume in vast quantities here at home. My editor knew none of this when she sent me the book. Click on the pic for the review.

Guy Lawson’s Octopus

I also reviewed John Long’s Darwin’s Devices, which turns out to be a pretty interesting account of bio-robots, or evolvobots, i.e. robots designed to evolve in order to teach us about prehistoric creatures and their march toward increasing sophistication. Much info about artificial intelligence, and military use of same. Sadly, no replicants just yet. But someday, definitely. Click on the pic!

Hope you  enjoy all and sundry!