New Music Gathering 2018, Day 2

Blue Dracula?

I totally screwed up the day!  My first events began at 2pm, after lunch.

I arose at 6am, able to sleep no longer.  I had coffee and breakfast and completed a crossword.  It was early, I went back to bed thinking I’d get up again in 10 minutes to shower.

I slept for 3 hours.

I attended Chamber Music Grab Bag II.  Transient Canvas completed the set with wow.  They will have a new album out this Fall.  I’ll need to check that out, and maybe you, too.  You cannot believe what a marimba and bass clarinet can do on their own until you hear it yourself.  I will offer a taste, but nothing compared to the meal they shared live.

I attended the Journalism Panel, What we Write About when we Write about New Music.  Hosted by Amanda Cook ( and Zoe Madonna (Boston Globe).

Generally, they reinforced some of my own thoughts.  Write so people can read and support musicians needing the love and exposure.  The mission at Community Noise is simply write about anything I want to write about, but I’m definitely trying to support new talent that I come across – from different musical avenues.  At the Live Music Project, we are more focused.  We support live music in the classical and contemporary realms and write about the people, ensembles, and programs that need and deserve attention.

My personal mission is to learn to write interesting things – imagery, phrasing, stories; whatever “interesting” means in the moment.

I CARE IF YOU LISTEN sounds like a great institution.  All volunteer writers – about 50 across the US and a couple of international contributors – produce articles about live shows, ensembles, and record releases.  I’ll be checking them out.  Maybe someday I can write something for them, too.

There was a great line attributed to Mike Hall (?) a violist attending NMG2018, “Be indispensable to the community, not just somebody on the stage.”  That’s words that each of us can use in everything we do in our life.

Finally, I ended my participation with Concert II (not Concert I) in the Concerts in Parallel section.  (it’s too dark to take notes in these concert halls – I need one of those pen lights.)  F-Plus was good.   A composition, Weft, by Mischa Salkind-Pearl, for violin, harmonica, and found objects was brilliant.  A little bit of performance art and some beautiful music provided tender moments.

Tenth Intervention, featuring Paul Pinto, brought the house down with Eight Songs for a Mad King.  In fact, he was not a Blue Dracula, as the picture seems to suggest, only a mad king.

Tomorrow will come again.  I should have a fuller day immersed in new music.


© Community Noise 2018.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited

New Music Gathering 2018, Day 1

This is the fourth year for New Music Gathering, a summit of composers and musicians that work in the classically-trained, contemporary music sphere.  I am neither a composer nor a musician; there appears to be a small handful of us “other”.  (I am accustomed to being part of the “other”, part of my punk ethos.)  This year, the Boston Conservatory at Berklee is hosting the event.  (I am a huge, life-long, Red Sox fan, which has no bearing on anything, except I am watching a game on TV as I type this.)

The morning of Day 1 began with a short, maybe 60-second, introduction and welcome, then bang! the first musical exercise.  Stephen Miles, of Sarasota Florida, introduced us to his idea for “social virtuosity”.  (Go ahead, say, “Sarasota” aloud; there’s hardly a better oral sensation.)  This is not a virtuosity of performance; it is a virtuosity of listening and participating.  Try to take in the whole.  “Pitch Chess”, designed for anyone who wants to participate, is an exercise that governs space, movement, and sound.

A center line (blue tape) is marked across the stage, the “central flame”.  Every participant begins on the center line, singing the same tone.  Then, consider a grid; each participant may choose to move downstage (towards the audience) or upstage, or move stage left or stage right.  If the participant moves downstage, they must sing a higher note; upstage a lower note.  If someone moves between a higher note and the center line, then they must sing a note in between.  Et cetera.

I did not sing.  (Even though Stephen implored us that the participant does not need to be “a singer”, I was spared due to space constraints of the room, and wily maneuvering farther and farther back, behind everyone else.)

Interestingly, individual personalities come out.  One person might test their range, moving downstage, and then all the way back upstage.  I noted a woman, with pink hair, continually moving downstage, downstage, downstage; showing off the high range.

Even from the back of the room, this is an immersive experience.  Fun!

(I’m skipping a lot of content, hitting those things that I want to address this evening.)

Helga Davis gave the keynote address.  Danny Felsenfeld introduced her, saying she once delivered a version of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” that fit today.

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on

A long way from “Sweet Jane”, but I love that song, damn, could Lou Reed write a line.

It was an odd keynote, in that, Helga did not lecture, really, as much as ask questions and solicit audience participation.

That’s inclusion.

Helga finished the hour with a rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”; while I cannot reproduce that for you, imagine a song, any song, close your eyes, and imagine what she might do with your song:

Lou Reed is never far from my consciousness, and I cannot get him out of my mind now.  Let’s take a break and listen to this.

Finally, I happened to meet Dean Rosenthal.  He gave me a flier, a composition, for you, me, everyone, anyone to perform.  Check out this piece at  There’s taste of the fluxus movement going on here, a breath of Yoko Ono.  Cool guy.  Cool idea.


I feel like we need a third song, at least, to close the article.  NMG put Lou Reed in my mind, so let’s listen to a Velvet Underground song, except, sort of honoring Helga Davis, let’s listen to the fucked-up version by Cowboy Junkies.


[A quick note about the lead photo.  I came into Boston a day early and hung out with my nephew, who lives here.  I snapped a photo of a seemingly appropriate book that I bought.]

© Community Noise 2018.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited

Blog Visitors and the 30-Day Song Challenge Revisited

What are people searching for?

This morning I had my first visitor from Iraq.  Welcome!  They found my article about Mark E. Smith and his passing.  (I almost never know what the search terms were, but I’ll know if the click came from Google or Bing or FB, for example.)

It got me to thinking about people finding my blog, and how they get here.  I cannot brag about the number of visitors or my number of followers but looking at some of the statistics offered to me as part of my blog space purchase, I can make some interesting observations.

By far the most visitors that I receive find my homepage.  This is interesting because, if I advertise a post, on FB or otherwise, I will post a link for a new article, not for the homepage.  I think people find the blog searching for information about community noise – a term associated with measuring and designing for noise impacts commercial aircraft have on neighborhoods near airports.

Most people find my blog from search engines; the other large referrers are WordPress (other bloggers), Facebook, and the Live Music Project (who I write for sometimes).

Most visitors, if not finding my home page, are searching a theme from the 30-day song challenge.  It has been about 10 months since I completed that exercise.  I still receive visitors searching for specific themes.  By far the most-searched themes, and my offerings:

  1. Day 22: A song that moves you forward

The The — “This is the Day”

  1. Day 4: A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget

The Cure — “Love Cats”

A song that moves you forward.  I interpreted this request to mean a song that is “emotionally propelling”, perhaps somebody needs a lift from a bad day.  I hope I help.  If I’m right, that’s a lot of people searching for help through music.  Everybody needs help, kudos to those that are trying to find it.

A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget.  Is this almost the antithesis of the first one?   It’s as if people are searching for hate.  I need help interpreting this.

The 30-day challenge was a fun exercise, and while posting every day for a month was exhausting for me, I didn’t put a lot of thought into the longevity of what I was doing.  People are still searching those themes and finding me; I think there are several variants of the theme out there.

Here’s a Day 31 challenge –the newest song on your living room playlist.

The Black Tones, “The Key of Black (They Want Us Dead)”

Local DJ played this yesterday afternoon at the close of the set.  I will be learning more about them.

Lastly, I now have had visitors from 50 countries.  The US is by far the most, the next five, in order, are Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Brazil, and Indonesia.

Good Sunday, everyone, and if you are a mom, Happy Mother’s Day.



Community Noise Playlist #6

I decided it was time to put together another playlist. I didn’t have a theme in mind, so I offer some random things that I’ve been listening to recently, tossed together with some new stuff that I hear on the radio as I write this.  All but one track can be listened to at the YT link.

Community Noise Playlist #6

1. Nox Novacula – “The Path”
Local goth band. Really cool stuff. As far as I can tell, they’re only releasing their stuff digitally and, dammit, I like my LPs and CDs.  Somebody needs to straighten these guys out.

2. The Temptations – “Papa was a Rolling stone”
For a couple of years now, I’ve been digging 1960s-1970s soul. When I’m home, an LP can find it’s way onto the stereo at any time.  When I’m out around, there’s some on my MP3 player, so it comes up on random play.   Such was the case one sunny Friday afternoon when I was walking over to my shop.

3. Pleasures – “Star and the Equal Time”
On Saturday evenings, DJ Sharlese has taken the reigns of the long-running radio show Audioasis, dedicated to local music.  She’s finding some pretty good stuff, and plays a lot of good old stuff.
Unfortunately, … I couldn’t find this on YT. You can listen to it here:

4. Sonic Youth – “My Friend Goo”
I’m reading Kim Gordon’s pretty good memoir, Girl in a Band. After I’m done, I’m sure there’s a post or two to be written about this woman. In the meantime, I always loved Goo best.

5. Tom Waits – “Clap Hands”
Rain Dogs is one of the most innovative albums that I’ve ever heard. Incredible.  It’s one of the records in my collection I go back to say “damn” when I listen to it again.

6. Paul Simon – “Under African Skies”
Damn.  Simon’s Graceland is one of the most innovative albums that I’ve ever heard. Incredible.  That stanza, Joseph’s face was black as night |The pale yellow moon shone in his eyes |His path was marked | By the stars in the Southern Hemisphere | And he walked his days | Under African skies …  really well phrased.  It’s as good as any Dylan, and that’s a mouthful of praise.

7. Sly and the Family Stone – “You Can Make It If You Try”
This album, Stand!, sits in front of the stack, and generally outside the crate, patiently waiting for me to spin it again.  And again.

8. Velvet Underground  – “ Foggy Notion”
I have this Polygram sampler, 3 songs on Side A from The Velvet Underground, Van Morrison, and Richard Thompson; and another 3 songs, one each, on the B Side.  There used to be this cool record store, Uptown Records on Queen Anne; the buyer was named Ann (no relation), and we developed a little rapport; she’d always thank me for buying cool stuff, ‘cause that meant she got to go buy more cool stuff.  (Instead of, you know, more Abba.)  One night I walked up to the cash register with this and she simply froze; “Where did you find this?”  She didn’t know the store had it and was mad that I was buying it and not her.  And she still wouldn’t date me.
With a story like that, I’m having a hard time deciding to part with this, but I never actually listen to it.  It’s an odd place to see VU playing.

9. Childish Gambino – “Saturday”
Watching Saturday Night Live, and this popped into my life.  Good to listen to, and fun to watch all the dance and performance art going on.  Must have been 25 people on stage. Damn.

10. Posse – “Voices”
Don’t forget to listen to Posse.  They have more out now than the 7” I featured last year.

11. Goat Girl
Also, the new Goat Girl album is out – buy it on LP or CD from Rough Trade Records.  I love these girls.

12. Ben Thomas – “Tangent 7”
The Live Music Project had it’s fourth birthday party last week, and I won a CD in the raffle. I don’t see how it could have been rigged in my favor, plus there must have been about 50 prizes. The ensemble might feature a bandoneon. Wikipedia says it’s a type of concertina “particularly popular in Argentina, Uruguay, and Lithuania.” OK, but I don’t know what a concertina is either. Look at the picture, duh, it’s a squeezebox.


Here’s a random note. It requires 6 clicks and a paste to add a video to a YT playlist. That’s when I already have the link for the song that I want to add. And it takes some hunting around to just find the place to create a new playlist. Couldn’t we design a better interface?


© Community Noise 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Record Store Day, 2018

Checking out, the cashier asked if I found everything I was looking for.  I explained that I did no homework for the day; I like to walk in and let things come to me.

For Round 1, I went to Silver Platters up in Lynnwood.  Mid-morning by time I got there, there was no line to enter the shop, the clawing for one-offs had died down, and the long line for one of four cashiers was moving quickly.  It was Record Store Day, 2018 – last Saturday, 21 April.

I picked up, all vinyl, a Brian Eno EP, a re-issue of Shiho and her Japanese electronica, a compilation of girl garage bands from the 1960s; on 10-inch vinyl I selected Sublime, Flaming Lips, and Noah Gundersen.  Free stuff was 2 flats, huge flats, 18”-square, of Aretha Franklin and The Smiths.

Not homework, but I will admit that I had the local radio station playing Friday afternoon; they were reviewing material that would be available on Saturday.  DJ Kevin was interviewing Matt Vaughan, owner of Easy Street Records and RSD co-founder.  (Easy Street is a really cool store, and café, whenever I make it over the bridge to West Seattle.  Think of it, next you find Seattle.)

Vaughan was delighted that Flaming Lips put something out interesting to listen to, but I couldn’t remember what exactly that was; I chose one of their two 10-inch records available.  The DJ was excited that Noah Gundersen was playing a live set at a different record shop, but I couldn’t remember that I actually heard anything of his playing.  My attention zeros in and fades away.

The thing about a 10-inch record, it could be a 45-rpm or a 33-rpm play; the label is vital.  Not labeled, I started this one out at 33 and the music was great, but Noah’s voice sounded a little slow.  Like he was mumbling in a cemetery soon after his own death.  I moved the speed up to 45, and his voice sounds right, but the band sounds rather normal.  Let that be a lesson to him.

If you want the interviews and whole in-studio experience, you can watch and listen:

Noah Gundersen – Full Performance (Live on KEXP)

Good grief the Sublime 10” is amazing.  The ska/rap/punk/pop mixture has texture and themes; rhythms and just enough sounds in-between the reggae thing.  I have listened to a lot of reggae over the years – local radio has had a Saturday morning reggae show for at least 33 years – but this is different.  The reggae beat is not the dominate idea; other aspects of the composite sing out.

The Shiho stuff is a beautiful experience.  My fIMG_2156avorite record store experience: pick something up, don’t know anything about it, but something clicks inside.  “Give it a shot.”  Take it home.  Cue it up.  Whammo.  Something cool, never knew it existed.  Exploring the electronica and atmospheric music areas is pretty new to me; this was a good place to continue my brief education.  The bright clear-pink vinyl is extra credit, which is normal for RSD.

Girls in the Garage, volume 3.  On searching, there are at least 6 volumes to this series.  It’s good we have a chance to remember the multiple precursors to Riot grrrl.  I randomly provide one selection.

The Liverbirds “Why Do You Hang Around Me”

You can listen to the whole thing, of course, on YT.

RSD 2018, round 2.  Fun, but less eventful.  I searched and noticed a couple of record stores that I didn’t know about.  In the afternoon, I went down to Jigsaw Records, on the eastern edge of Ballard, not far from where I live.  Cute little shop, a hole in the wall on a strip long known for funky drinking wells.  I took a chance on Television Personalities, and it’s OK.  I’m still digesting it.  No free stuff.

I want to know.  Did people celebrate Record Store Day this year?  Where?  What did you buy?  What did you find to love?

Let us close up with some Aretha, why not?


Spider Inspired

On a bright, beautiful, sunny Spring day, I went spider hunting in a cemetery more than a century old.  It wasn’t eerie or creepy, and my sister thinks I’m crazy.  I am a volunteer for the arachnologist at Seattle’s Burke Museum.  I guess the preferred term is “spider collecting.”

I picked up Rod in the morning and drove south towards Vader, not even a wide spot in the road off the I5 corridor, and not terribly far, in miles or spirit, from where I grew up.  The cemetery is just out of town, but you’d never notice being in town.  Sounds like a movie, Spider Hunt: Cemetery Watch

During the drive, I thought about spiders, trying to think of music that had something to do with our arachnid friends.  I remembered the Lime Spiders, a psychedelic band from the 1980s, and I remembered not listening to them much.  That would have to change.

They’re pretty good.  Randomly, here are some tracks.

The Lime Spiders — Slave Girl

Lime Spiders — Out Of Control

Lime Spiders — Too Close To The Sun

The Lime Spiders — Volatile

I learned many things during the day.  A spider is an order of arachnid.  Arachnids are a class of arthropods (joint-legged invertebrate animals).  The arachnids also include scorpions, ticks, mites, harvestmen, and solifuges.  (You are not alone, I had never heard of a solifuge.)  (For those that don’t remember high school biology, the taxonomy goes like this: domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.)

To catch, hunt, or collect spiders, and properly catalogue them, you need to pay attention to the habitat.  On this Saturday, in this pleasant graveyard, we searched leaf mulch, moss, fir trees, shrubbery, grasses, tomb stones, fallen pine cones, and an out building (for house spiders).  Across the road, in a clear-cut / new-growth forest area, we further searched the habitats of ferns and tall grasses.  There are different techniques, which generally have something to do with trying to get the spider to “fall out of it’s habitat” so you can see it.  (The exception is the wolf spider, which quickly runs amok in 20 directions, trying to avoid you.  I caught several and felt badly for the little guys.)  For example, hunting in leaf mulch: you pick up some mulch, put into a wire-mesh shaker, shake onto a white sheet, and see what falls out.  Bits of dirt and partially-degraded plant matter, lots of little beetles and ants, centipedes, and other creepy crawly things, and spiders.


 a male Callobius pictus, sifted from moss
poor guy about to meet his doom – a swim in alcohol for preservation
Some sort of crab spider




Of course, there’s  “Boris the Spider” from The Who.  But you don’t need kill spiders; be not afraid – the spider just wants to eat bugs, and those also probably freak you out.

Rod wants you to know that the house spider that you guys call a “daddy long-legs” is not a spider, it is a harvestman.  It is an arachnid.  It is a myth that its venom is poisonous to humans.  It is a myth that its fangs are too small to bite you – it doesn’t bite you because you are not its prey.

Rod was telling me that his favorite music was primarily bebop jazz.  Benny Goodman had a trio, sometimes quartet, that played some innovative jazz; of course, he’s more well known for his work in the big band swing era.  Benny Goodman — “Where Or When”

And for jazz vocals, he prefers Anita O’Day.  I’ll feature “Honeysuckle Rose”.