For Want of Cocktails at the Santa Fe Opera

In April, after publishing the playlist, “Bein’ Good Isn’t Always Easy”, Community Noise was summoned to New Mexico to take in Pink Martini with friends.  PM was joined by the Santa Fe Symphony Strings to play the stunning open-air Santa Fe Opera.

What a show!

The day had been hot and dry; I rushed to get into town, check into a hotel, perform some social duties, and ferry myself, Diane, and Tom up the highway in a rented convertible.  During the performance, I spontaneously started taking notes and writing petite vignettes; pondering the writing of this post.

Pink Martini opened with “Pana cand nu te iubeam” (translated from the Romanian, “Until I loved you”) a song that I know, except Storm Large typically sings it.  On this night we had China Forbes.

I could imagine a cobra rising from a basket, with jazz and salsa soul, dancing a slanky dance.  What street corner could this be?  I’m not sure.  Someplace where East meets West with Cajan food steaming in the midnight air.  It’s a bright night, with a toothless man in a shiny suit selling his wares in the alleyway over there.

An actual cocktail would have fit well right about here; maybe something pink and fluffy with a little umbrella.  Festive.

Exotic.

Pink Martini is a multi-cultural ensemble, incorporating limitless cultures and genres into their music and singing songs in handfuls of different languages.  Besides English, I counted Romanian, French, Arabic, Armenian, Turkish, Japanese, and Croatian.  They asked for a native French speaker, and a willing Frenchman came up to help China sing a song.  They couldn’t find an Arabic speaker, but a young Turkish woman joined them later for a song.  She blew us away; was she a plant?  Dunno.  I suspect she knew the song and sang some karaoke.  Mystery guest could sing and had presence.  Here’s an example; it’s not the same woman and may not even be the same song, but you get the idea:

I wouldn’t normally associate bongo drums with “exotic”, but I noted:

The bongo drums seem to hold everything together – pretty wild for a salsa swing opera ensemble.

The percussion, generally, is more than a rhythm section for PM, it’s a good portion of the band’s soul.

Pianist and founder Thomas Lauderdale explained that Helen Reddy had been a guest a few evenings prior at the Hollywood Bowl; he invited women – all of them – to come up on stage.  Maybe 60 or 70 women joined to sing “I am Woman.”  They wore such proud faces.  I asked Diane what it was like for her to see all those women up there.  “Watching all those women up on stage (and they kept coming and coming!) made me feel stronger and more powerful.  And anytime you get a group of women together, singing and laughing, it’s like one big party that you wish would never end.”  I could not find a clip of PM playing the song, but here’s Helen giving it a swing from back in the day:

Later, a song that I didn’t know; a stiff breeze coming into the opera house, closing my eyes, picturing …

Lightning struck at dusk, storm acoming, after a dusty day of hazy skies and burning heat.  The violinist worked out a somber song, the trumpet man completed the intro without want for breath, and the Croatian sang a sad, sad song.  Melancholy filled the thick night air.

With some research and questionable memory, the song was the Croatian piece, “U Plavu Zoru”, which translates as “At Blue Dawn”.  (Assist from http://www.lyricstranslate.com)

At blue dawn, With a light, there, At my door / You’re coming, You will find; My empty bed / While the train is taking; Me far away

Yikes.  Melancholy is one way to describe that.

Timothy Nishimoto sang “Zundoko-bushi”, including his uncle-celebrating refrain, “Oh, Big One!”.  My notes suggest “Puff the Magic Dragon in Japanese.”  I dunno.  Fun song though.

China Forbes song, “Hey Eugene”, pleases me; a good punk song informed by orchestral and operatic styles, it must be my favorite Pink Martini song.  And they played it for me.

After intermission, I spontaneously quit taking notes.  It’s a good thing, dear reader, you have other things to go do now.  But first, let me know when you’ve seen Pink Martini and what that was like.  Tell me your favorite PM song!

 


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World/Inferno Friendship Society

I had to go to New York to see about a girl.  She had already been to Seattle to see about me.  We walked around, we talked, we kissed – she went back home.  For some weeks – maybe months – we wrote letters, long-hand, back and forth.  And then I went to NYC.

Actually, our rendezvous was Hastings upon Hudson, a quaint little hamlet to the North, a beautiful old house up high, overlooking the river – her sister’s house.  We trained down to The City one day.  We got lost walking around, trying to figure out the Village, and ducked into a well-treed park to escape the sun.  It was August – hot and humid and crowded – the tall trees looked like heavenly shade.  It was hot and humid in the shade.

We came upon a little stage constructed in the sweltering sun, with a crowd starting to gather.  Something was going to happen!  We waited, holding hands.

About 11 musicians suddenly appeared on stage and began strumming, banging, blowing, plucking, and bowing.  The singer screamed into a bullhorn, his microphone held up to the loud end, giving him a muffled, garbled, loud and pleasing presence.

I asked a short woman, “Who is this?”

“World/Inferno Friendship Society,” she smiled brightly.

It was a sort of punk-swing, ska-klezmer orchestra.  The men wore black tuxedos, the women wore long black dresses, and the local punks formed a mosh pit in the oppressive heat.

Everybody sweat.

“If anyone here is without sin, they would’ve gone home already.”


“Only Anarchists Are Pretty”


 

“Me Vs. The Angry Mob”


“Addicted to Bad Ideas”               This is a whole concert – good sound and good video.  !!!!

 

 

Goat Girl

I notice that Goat Girl have a new single released.  Goat Girl, if you didn’t read my blog months ago, is a young band in London’s south side that I am very interested in.

I’ve been puzzling to say something clever for more than a week.  Months, really.  I just like them.  A lot.  I think they make great noises; I think the singer has a great voice.  They’re matter-of-fact cool.  Good rock and roll band.

They’re taking it slow.

They released a 7” with two singles last year, on Rough Trade Records, and I’ve been anticipating more action from them this year.  So far, one new single.

What do people think of this song?

 

Day 30: A song that reminds you of yourself

U2: “Until the End of the World”

It’s not that I wear the gloom of Armageddon, but the visual of everyone having a good time at a party except me: that’s familiar.

We ate the food, we drank the wine
Everybody having a good time
Except you
You were talking about the end of the world

I don’t listen to a lot of U2.  They have some good material, and Bono’s writing is unimpeachable, but I figure enough people listen to them.  But these lyrics…

This is a pretty good movie, by the way, and the soundtrack is fantastic.  Try this:  Nick Cave – Until the End of the World:

I’m  DONE!  The end of the 30-day challenge us upon me!  Yeah.

Day 29: A song you remember from your childhood

I was gonna go with Sonny & Cher – “I Got You Babe”.  After listening to a version, I couldn’t do it.  Growing up, there were tons and tons of variety shows on TV.  (I promise I don’t remember and won’t play anything from the Mac Davis show, Donny & Marie, Hee Haw…but there I was, in front of the TV back in the day.  All the time.  Well not Hee-Haw.

I was ahead of my time when Saturday Night Live came around – I was much too young to watch that and it was on late.  But I had older siblings and my parents were pretty much done trying to raise kids.  So I was watching that and all the cool music that was on.  Fridays, too.  The Midnight Special, American Bandstand.  There were series and there were specials.  Great stuff.

I remember Kiss singing this ballad.  I’ve never listened to it much since then, but I remember being stunned that those guys could play a quiet song like that.

Day 27: A song that breaks your heart

I suppose I’m cheating again.  Music, generally, makes me happy; if I like it, its exciting, if I don’t like it, I don’t listen to it.  I have to interpret this another way.  For today’s challenge, I’m selecting Gil Scott-Heron and “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”.

It’s nothing new.  There have been stories about abusive powers, warnings about corruption, calls for the people to take action.  And here we are.  Remaining in power are people incredibly crass and inhumane.  Progress has been made in some areas and great debacles.  Meanwhile, middle class wages have been stagnant for 40 years and the poor must be lazy criminals.  That breaks my heart.

Also, I have a suspicion that not many people know who Gil Scott-Heron is.  He’s a terrific poet and after some cajoling, really demonstrates some good musical talent.  He has a lot of material that I return to over and over.  People don’t know who he is, and that I guess breaks my heart.