In the past few years, the Unsound Festival has become a must-attend event for any New Yorker invested in left-of-center and experimental music. Begun in 2003 in Kraków, Poland, by writer Mat Schulz, the New York outpost was established in 2010.
The utopian world of New York music continues to amaze. All over town freefreeconcerts of world-class and emerging talent are to be found, one of which is the Friday Tri-Institutional Noon Recitals series at Rockefeller University, which regularly plays to a packed and enthusiastic house.
Listening to Shelley Hirschs new CD Where Were You Then?, a collaboration with composer/arranger Simon Ho, the first image that sprang to my mind was of a rare, brightly feathered bird from some distant, quasi-fictional island alighting on my Brooklyn fire escape.
Jack White had the number-one album in the country last month with the beautiful, bereft Blunderbuss. The eccentric Whitewho imitated Cab Calloway at the turn of the last century, played a junkyard guitar at the Grammys, and used his increasing clout to produce records by living relics like Wanda Jackson and Tom Jonesis now, inexplicably, a bona fide star in contemporary pop.
In 1967, 18-year-old pop troubadour Billy Nicholls of Shepherds Bush, London, made a bus pilgrimage to Kinfauns, George Harrisons estate in the town of Esher, in the Surrey borough of Elmbridge in southeast England. In the anythings-possible spirit of the time, the teenage composer was determined to hand-deliver his Beatles-inspired homemade demos to the Fab Fours lead guitarist.
A movie gangster once remarked, Its just money. Its made up. Pieces of paper with pictures on it. Then he shot the other guy dead and took his. Another said, Walmart [itself a kind of gangster] sells to the bottom ranks of the American working class.