Keep on Rockin’
Just so my readers know that it is really ME writing this, let’s start with the MiNX concert last Saturday night:
The event was part of a contest run by local newspaper City Weekly, focused on the “Best of Utah Music” — the top ten vote-getters are doing two weekends of play-offs with further votes from (generally rabid) fans on site and a mysterious panel of judges. MiNX had the best visual presentation by far — besides the extended clip from Together/Forever, they showed stills and segments from other colorful videos as they chose some of their best electric songs. Raffi plunked his magic twanger with skill and ease while Ischa’s voice made the rafters ring at the 50 West Broadway club. Their material is so good and so varied that they could have chosen two or three sets of other songs, but they chose well.
“Ladies That Rock” allies Big Wild Wings followed MiNX.
I’ve had a difficult time characterizing Big Wild Wings’ music — it is heavy, moody, and delightfully dissonant, but Dan Gentry came up with an excellent phrase — “Dream Pop,” which works for me. They were joined by Klaus, superb cellist from The Femme Medea too — last time I saw him with Big Wild Wings was at the Urban Lounge before my Amsterdam trip. However the stars of THAT night were Merchant Royal, led by my friend Christina Manteris. They caused the place to shake from floor to ceiling with a set of thunderous original songs. At the climax, the roar and stomping of the appreciative crowd sounded just like the din I heard after Lady Gaga finished performing Bad Romance last summer. (“What is that beautiful sound?!?” Gaga exclaimed.)
Amsterdam, Fools, and Fun
I used my airplane ticket for the ill-fated summer dance workshop to publish my book in Amsterdam, Holland. It was time to commit the story to print anyway, but I’d let the previous three summers distract me. Thanks to Melkweg veteran Suzette Bronkhorst, we were able to schedule a presentation at the American Book Center’s monthly Meet My Book and get a reception hall at the nearby ABC Treehouse that same Sunday night. Suzette prepared an awe-inspiring spread of finger-food and wine. My only cost was the food, and I covered that with book sales.
Mid-winter in Amsterdam tends to be dark drizzly and cold — folks were ready for a party devoted to summer and fun, though, and the turn-out was amazing! I had been in town a week or so before, working with the printer and seeing friends, but the big day was hilariously successful. The subject material is funny on its own, and I just let the details get their own laughs as I told them with a big smile on my face. I put a few posters of my own around Amsterdam — at Rastaman Bo Hauk’s shoemaker shop in the West, at De Schaum near Dam Square, and at the Bulldog in Leidseplein. I’m glad to say that my audience had people of every age showing up to hear about Fools and our Festival.
Between the tasks of preparation, there were some incredible nights of music in and around that wonderful city!
Behind Haarlemmerweg are a couple of small islands that were once devoted to ship warehouses. Modern ships passing through those deep channels flood the sidewalks and overwhelm the four and five story buildings, so there are fewer ships and more apartments. I once had a studio on Bicker’s Island, and saw a concert around the corner from the old place, featuring my friend Alan (Gunga) Purves on drums and three other incredible players making music that was so solid you felt like you could cut a piece out of the air and take it home.
That’s Entertainment — FUNKY Entertainment!
I used to work regularly at De Melkweg (Milky Way) in Amsterdam when I lived there umpteen years ago, and it is always a pleasure to go see shows in what was once called the Theaterzaal. This year, my friend Marcel Visser of the Parliament/Funkadelic network invited me to a concert by his friends Seven Eleven, a first-rate Funk band, who are celebrating their 35th year. The joint looks a bit different, but I had no trouble seeing outlines of my former hangout despite several remodeling projects over the years. The audience was full of beautiful ladies who came to DANCE, and the men joined in the fun without too much reticence. Thanks Marcel!
For sheer beauty though …
Yanna is Ernst Reijseger’s daughter and attends theater school as an actress. She has a wonderfully musical voice however, and this occasion was one of the first times she ever sang in public with her famous father. Also on the program was a poet, and a fine Amsterdam actor who was our MC.
Ernst and I hadn’t met since we were on the road together in the late 1970’s. Our meeting was warm, friendly, and we jabbered on and on, trying to catch up after 38 years. Thanks to Facebook and Email, though, we had been in contact since 2010. He drove me out to the countryside beyond Amsterdam for a concert at a church with his favorite trio — named Reijseger, Fraanje, Sylla. They’ve released a new CD and played the whole thing during the course of the evening.
Their music is impossible to categorize, but I invite everyone to listen:
The generosity of my old friend exceeded my ability to thank him — Harman drove me back to my neighborhood in Amsterdam the night before my book launch. I almost could have flown, since I felt as if I was walking on air.
Local Color — Dutch Stairs
Amsterdam is fairly vertical, as far as living space goes, and I’ve always been amazed at how ultra-vertical their stairs can get. Spirals are common, but sufficient room for the soles of your shoes sure can be rare in the historic neighborhoods. Preparation was important when I left my room for business or pleasure — going back for one or two items was a chore when I had to face four flights of ladder-like steps. I was smart enough to bring a rope to aid me in hauling my luggage up to the attic, and it was equally excellent when the time came to leave. In between I made a few mistakes in planning, but luckily there were no major problems with my wheels, except that my right knee complained sometimes, on the streets or hiking up the steps.
My favorite picture from the “Big Day”
At the moment, The Great Salt Lake Mime Saga and Amsterdam’s Festival of Fools is available via Print On Demand at the American Book Center in Amsterdam and Den Haag — but a USA edition is forthcoming, along with another book launch and copies placed in retail bookstores. The book ties into my previous web pages about this continent-spanning story, but emphasizes the Festival of Fools and ends when the festival ends.
Online Versions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom Novels:
REMINDER: Research this prolific author on ERBzine.
And thereby hangs a tale As good luck would have it As merry as the day is long At one fell swoop … (We’re stealing from Early Modern gossip and literature, like Shakespeare did.)
Read my very personal review of 004’s CD State of Affairs: HERE
Buy one through RAUNCH Records’ Facebook page!