Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Warm Winter Day, A Good Walk

Spent last saturday showing Andrej Cibej around my hometown of Hillsborough. You can read his account of it here. I am impressed how much of our discussion that day went into the post. I am looking forward to going to Slovenia and getting a tour of his hometown someday.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Glenn Tilbrook Redux

I've just finished watching Amy Pickard's documentary on Glenn titled 'One for the Road.' At times a bit more Amy-centric then I felt it needed it to be, but all in all a nice look at a very talented, funny, and geniunely happy guy. It's fun to watch Glenn's antics as he revels in his new RV and tries his hand at acting like an American among other things. Tilbrook had said at the Raleigh gig in mid-January that ex-songwriting partner Chris Difford was easy to spot because he dressed and acted like Mr. Rogers. In watching the bonus material for this DVD I see that nothing could be more true. Sporting a v-neck sweater and a pink button-down shirt Difford could not be more different from Glenn if he tried. It makes it even more obvious why Glenn's animation and pure energy and Diffords weightiness worked so well together. Not a technical wonder in any sense, the documentary is a real behind the scenes look at a man connecting with his audience. On stage or off Glenn is fun to watch.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Judgement of Paris

Is the book I'm reading this week. Its a lengthy exploration of the conditions that led up to the Salon de Refusees and the birth of Impressionism. Focused around the career of the painter Manet, Ross King expertly handles the details of history, personalities, and events in an eminently interesting and readable fashion. I really think he is the best current popular writer about the arts.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Glenn Tilbrook at the Pour House

One half of the songwriting team of Difford and Tilbrook from the group Squeeze, Glenn Tilbrook helped pen some of the most recognizable hits of the '80s like 'Pulling Mussels (From the Shell), 'Another Nail in My Heart 'and 'Tempted.' He did all of those and more on Tuesday this week at the Pour House in Raleigh.
Interspersing Squeeze hits with solo material and guitar god classics like Jimi Hedrix's 'Voodoo Chile,' Tilbrook was ever the congenial host making sure we all had drinks and smiles contantly. Great to finally
figure out the lyrics to 'Pulling Mussels' by hearing them first hand. A bit of hilarity ensued during the encore when he asked women from the audience to dance to the Tom Jones hit 'Its Not Unusual' and form 'The Glenn Tilbrook Experience'. A great guitar player, a good singer, good songwriter and a good time. Don't miss him.

Alfonso Cuarón's "Children of Men"

Went to see Alfonso Cuarón's "Children of Men" on Friday and was literally on the edge of my seat. Having both helped written and directed this movie, Alfonso Cuarón has made a movie that feels at times like a documentary of the future. Ending with a spectacular 17 minute tracking shot the camerawork is notable. The film is a blend of hand-held documentary style combined with well constructed set pieces. Though dystopian in tone the humanity of some of the characters and the outcome of the final frames leave you hopeful. Clive Owen and Michael Caine are invaluable to making this movie work.

Dvorak, Bartok and Beethoven

Attended an extremely beautiful concert last night featuring the Vega string quartet.
They played quartets and a quintet by the aforementioned composers. The Beethoven Quartet (F Major, Op. 14 no. 1) was a delightful early work composed in 1798. Full of echos of earlier composers it still had the strong intimations of what was to come in Beethoven's future compositions.

The Bartok (String Quartet No. 4) piece was up next. A composition featuring 5 movements each forming an "arch" the 1st and 5th movments, the 2nd and 4th with the 3rd being what the violaist called a "keystone" for the whole piece. The 3rd movement starting with a low sonic bed of layered tones and the cello whirling on top like a musical equivalent of an ice skater on clean ice. The violiaist broke a string at the end of
the fourth movenment and went on to explain much about this piece and Bartok himself while she calmly exchanged the strings.

The last piece of the night was the Dvorak quintet with piano (A Major, Op 81) which was easily the most sonically "fleshed out" due to the addition of the piano. It was a wonderful conclusion to this energetic and thoughtfully performed evening of music. The Vega string quartet is well worthy of our attention and our time.