Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Talons Given Us (Trimmed and Burning)

Yes, you guessed it, I've been strummin' on the old banjo I mean Duolian (my 1928 National steel--a steal at a thousand bucks in 1980--to be heard in full effect debut on "Skeleton Makes Good", the last cut on Ice Cream for Crow--Beefheart told me at the time, "That's not a guitar, it's an instrument of death..."). And I'm strumming with newly cut fingernails (I choose flesh over fingerpicks any day) and working on an arrangement of a Chow Hsuan song called "Two Little Flowers", which I last performed with the great pipa player Min Xiao-Fen at the Quebec Summer Festival a couple years ago...I saw Min recently at the JVC Jazz Festival Knitting Factory "New York Now" show and she was as sterling as ever; I hadn't seen her in awhile and we talked how we missed playing together, her pipa playing is a joy and sounds beautiful on the 30's Chinese pop repertoire (wish I had had her playing on The Edge of Heaven album!). I was at the Knitting Factory without Jozef Van Wissem sadly, who was unable to come over from Amsterdam to do our duo thing (but we're back in the saddle together in September in Amsterdam and elsewhere, check my website calendar for details), and while I missed his lute I managed to assemble a great off the cuff electro-acoustic ensemble for the night consisting of Ernie Brooks, Felice Rosser, Joe Hendel, Lukas Ligeti (wonderful percussionist) and James Ilgenfritz ( cool acoustic bass) and we lifted the bandstand...I mean, we were smoking...and the crowd loved it, much cheering and applause and I was drenched in sweat by the end...Lukas and James and Felice and I tranced out again last night at Tonic, lotsa gigs in the city in this period, tomorrow I'm at the Livingroom on Ludlow Street in solo acoustic mode with Michael Schoen sitting I'm up to my eyeballs in music what else is new...saw the incredible Max Ernst show at the Met, one of my favorite painters, much more than a "Surrealist"-- "Europe After the Rain" a chilling masterpiece far more affecting to me than say Picasso's "Guernica", also his frottage technique still stuns and amazes, as does his mastery of organic forms and palette of almost mineralesque hues..."The Talent Given Us" is a delightful and quirky little film and I am not just saying this because my old friend Maggie Wagner is in it! Astonishing neo-realistic acting by her parents and sister and brother in motor-mouth purge mode, a great sprawling verite mise-en-scene a la Cassavetes, world-wear good humor abounds in many Larry Davidesque moments in this tale of one family's bonding (well, Maggie gets disappeared midway through the flick, film coulda used more Maggie in there for my money) on an epic cross-country schlep and I'll be damned if the film is still playing in town after 4 weeks or so, pretty damn good for a film made for about 57 cents...speaking of old friends my pal Frederique Bonhure is in town, my amie francaise from about 30 years ago with whom I shared a flat in Taipei along with my former bandmate and her former boyfriend the big Swede known as Jesper Gadelius (check out our group The Oh-Bay-Gone Band as documented on my "Street of Lost Brothers" album playing years-ahead-of-its-time avant-metal-Jewish music in 1976 at National Taiwan University)--Frederique showed up at Tonic last night looking absolutely great, as did the painter and writer (respectively) Roni Hoffman and Robert Duncan who I also haven't seen in about as long a time, last time was probably at the Cottonwood Cafe here in 1977...Roni I know from way way back hanging out with her and her then boyfriend the rock critic Richard Meltzer, they used to let me crash at their flat on Perry Street (just down the road apiece from my present domicile in fact) when I'd come down from Yale...seeing old friends at a gig really does my soul good...woops the guitar is calling out for me...bye for now as they say in the UK



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