Category Archives: music

Let’s Celebrate Bob Moog’s Birthday Today: Be Creative!

Robert Moog , engineer and pioneer of electronic music synthesis, was born 86 years ago on this date.

The skeptical cardiologist first revealed his love of electronic music and Bob’s Moog synthesizers in a post about the annual Moogfest music festival (sadly not held this year due to Covid-19.)

In college I became obsessed with Moog synthesizers and this obsession has only increased with age.  I was inspired by Wendy Carlos’ Switched on Bach which features her renditions of Bach pieces performed on an early modular Moog synthesizer. The glory of Bach transmuted by otherworldly Moog voices was mesmerizing.

I and my college roommate,  APOD-to-be Jerry Bonnell , purchased components from PAIA electronics, and with the assistance of electrical engineer and pi-plate-to-be Jerry Wasinger  built our  own modular synthesizer.  After my post on the delights of Asheville and the Moog Factory Museum piece was published several readers contacted me and have turned me on to other synthesizer performance pioneers including Gershon Kingsley (who has subsequently died-see obituary at end of post.)

Around the time of the 20014 Moogfest I missed due to THE FLU I acquired a small Sub Phatty Moog.

I used it in a song I created based on Phillip K. Dick’s novel Radio Free Albemuth  as the sound of the superintelligent, extraterrestrial, but less than omnipotent being (or network) named VALIS:

Valis/Sub Phatty goes wild delivering its rebellious message for the last 50 seconds and then fizzzles out.

Subsequently, I’ve acquired a duophonic (Bob Moog Tribute Edition!) Sub 37 Moog. The built-in arpeggiator/sequencer on the Sub 37 allows for some really creative rhythmic and patterned music creation. You gotta love all those flashing lights and delightful knobs just begging to be twirled!

An Email from the folks at Moog Music suggests

More Ways to Celebrate Bob

  1. Create your own music with the free Minimoog Model D iOS app.
  2. Share a memory or musical creation online using #CelebrateBob.
  3. Try your hand at this interactive Google Doodle, originally shared by Google on Bob’s birthday in 2012.
  4. Watch Hans Fjellestad’s Moog documentary.
  5. Listen to this episode of The Music History Project’s podcast.
  6. Learn more about electronic music pioneers and Moog Music’s history.
  7. Encourage creativity all around you!

So here’s to my hero, Bob Moog!

Paraphonically Yours,

-ACP

N.B. Bonnell is one-half of the astronomy picture of the day and today’s picture is cool

Ghost Fungus to Magellanic Cloud
Image Credit & Copyright: Gill Fry

N.B.2 From the NYTimes obituary:

Gershon Kingsley, a composer who brought electronic sounds into popular music and wrote the enduring instrumental hit “Pop Corn,” died on Dec. 10 at his home in Manhattan. He was 97. His daughter Alisse Kingsley announced the death. Mr. Kingsley was an early convert to the Moog synthesizer in the 1960s. He used it to create music for commercials and to orchestrate perky melodies — most notably “Pop Corn,” an instrumental originally released on Mr. Kingsley’s 1969 album “Music to Moog By.” It became a best seller and was remade (usually renamed “Popcorn”) in hundreds of versions: by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Aphex Twin and the Muppets, among others. A 1972 version of “Popcorn” by Hot Butter made the song an international hit, and a 2005 remake for the animated character Crazy Frog became a major hit in Europe.

Source: Gershon Kingsley, Master of Electronic Sounds, Dies at 97 – The New York Times

 

“Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson And The Band” Finally Takes The Load Off Fanny

The former Eternal Fiancee’, now newly-minted wife, is a huge fan of The Band and since meeting her the Skeptical Cardiologist’s appreciation for this special rock band has blossomed.  When Robbie Robertson, the guitarist, main songwriter and co-founder of The Band came out with his autobiography, “Testimony,” she purchased it and I read it voraciously. It’s a great read because Robertson is a great storyteller.

Beyond his expected stories of early days touring with first Ronnie Hawkins then Bob Dylan, Robertson seems to have partied with every rock icon of the seventies. (The newly-minted wife calls him the Forest Gump of the 60s and 70s music scene.)

The storytelling abilities of Robertson are at the heart of a new documentary which we watched at the Tivoli in the nearby Delmar Loop. As described on Rotten Tomatoes:

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band is a confessional, cautionary, and occasionally humorous tale of Robbie Robertson’s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music, The Band. The film is a moving story of Robertson’s personal journey, overcoming adversity and finding camaraderie alongside the four other men who would become hi brothers in music and who together made their mark on music history. Once Were Brothers blends rare archival footage, photography iconic songs and interviews with many of Robertson’s friends and collaborators including Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison Martin Scorsese, Peter Gabriel, Taj Mahal, Dominique Robertson, Ronnie Hawkins, and more.

As huge fans of The Band we loved this movie. For those who appreciate music and its creative process I highly recommend catching it in a real cinema while you can.

The Riverfront Times has an excellent and enthusiastic review here which gives a good feel for the contents of the documentary.


Robertson began playing guitar with Ronnie Hawkins as a 15-year-old after his band opened for The Hawks in Canada. I had not appreciated the energy of Hawkins’ live shows until this video appeared early in the documentary.

This was from a 1959 lip-synced performance on Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beechnut Show. Note a very young Levon Helm on the drums. Levon and Robbie would leave Hawkins and form their own group.

Behold The Korg Triton and Marilyn Monroe’s Posthumous Starring Role

The skeptical cardiologist has started taking Tuesdays off more or less. Whereas I used to spend this day deep in the bowels of the hospital in a darkened room viewing all manner of echocardiograms and EKGS and occasionally venturing into the special procedure room to perform cardioversions and transesophageal echocardiograms, I now “work” from my home.

Cutting back my work hours enables two things:1) It makes for a sustainable work situation-one where I can enjoy patient care and interaction more (the most fulfilling part of the job) and interact with computer screens less thus  allowing me to keep working for another 10 years and 2) It allows me to do all the other things I love doing but which I never seem to find enough time for. These other things are mostly music creation, research and writing for this blog, reading, and taking care of my health.

In the realm of music creation I’ve been doing a lot more straight improvisation on my acoustic grand. I just sit at the keys and start playing whatever my brain tells my hands to do. It’s quit exhilarating but I fear that too much of it may drive the wife formerly known as the eternal fiancee’ bananas.

In order to avoid a bananas wife and to allow playing of the grand piano at any time of the night or day, I have ordered a Yamaha CP4 digital piano. This, according to all reports, plays very much like an acoustic grand and has sounds which are hard to tell from a Steinway.  In anticipation of its arrival I dug up from the basement my old synthesizer workstation a Korg Triton Studio. It was upon this 76 key electronic marvel that yours truly did most of the music production for my first album “Atherosclerosis Is My Psychosis” under the pseudonym Dr. P And The Atherosclerotics.

Emboldened by the interest readers displayed in my Neil Young tickets, I am hereby offering up for sale my beloved Korg Triton Studio 76 to readers of my blog who will provide a nurturing home for the instrument.  The wife just put this up plus its Korg gig bag on something called “Facebook MarketPlace” for $800 but I am willing to sell it for much less to any reader who says nice things about my blog.

What, you may ask, does all this have to do with Marilyn Monroe? Well, quite a bit (not much actually, its just clickbait.)  Using my extra time off this morning I ran 2 miles in the neighborhood and while listening on my airpods the following (reasonably obscure) Monty Python sketch (cowritten by Graham Chapman and Douglas Adams)  from   The Album of the Soundtrack of the Trailer of the Film of Monty Python and the Holy Grail   came up.

In it Michael Palin interviews film director Carl French (Graham Chapman) who has just released his latest movie which features the deceased and cremated  Marilyn Monroe in every scene.

Fans of MP will enjoy but those who are easily offended by nasty words or off-kilter humour should avoid.

 

Pythonically Yours,

-ACP

Neil Young’s Harvest Moon Gathering Should Be Awesome

For multiple reasons Neil Young is the skeptical cardiologist’s favorite musician. I love everything he has done from work with Buffalo Springfield to CSNY  to Crazy Horse. His solo work is simply amazing.

I last saw him at the Fabulous Fox Theatre here in St. Louis last summer and at the age of 72 he was still mesmerizing as he ambled from grand piano to acoustic or electric guitar singing in his inimitable and still powerful voice and telling stories behind his brilliant iconic songs like Ohio.

He continues to create relevant and beautiful work to this day. On top of all this he handles his musical catalogue with tremendous integrity. You will not find a Neil Young song in a Bud, Chevy or Uber commercial.

Therefore, when I heard about the benefit concert he was putting on in September I bought tickets even though it was going to be just outside of LA.

I am sadly unable to attend as I could not get out of my hospital  on-call obligations for that weekend .

If any readers are interested in purchasing my two tickets let me know.
Here’s the description:

Neil Young and Norah Jones top the lineup for the inaugural Harvest Moon A Gathering. The benefit concert will be held at the Painted Turtle in Lake Hughes, California on Saturday, September 14.

Father John Misty and Masanga round out the lineup for the 2019 Harvest Moon A Gathering. The daytime concert will feature performances on a grassy hillside with views of the performers, mountains and Lake Hughes at the site, which is nestled near Los Angeles National Forest. Proceeds from the event will benefit both The Painted Turtle, a non-profit providing children living with serious medical conditions a traditional camp experience free of charge, and The Bridge School, which provides free education to children with severe speech and physical impediments.

Each ticket will include an all-star celebrity chef picnic cooked and served by SoCal’s top chefs as well as a beer and wine tasting from select California Breweries and Wineries.

Price is for two tickets. Face value. Concert is sold out.

For many years Neil and Pegi Young put on The Bridge Concert which was an annual benefit for the Bridge School. This was an absolutely awesome outdoor event in Mountain View, CA but the concerts ended after Neil and Pegi divorced.

I was fortunate enough to catch the last one in 2016 and I consider it one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Here are the artists and their setlists.

The crowd at The Bridge School Concert 2016. A wonderfully chill, friendly and happy group. Expect the same at Harvest Moon.
With any luck, the Harvest Moon will be equally exciting.
Skeptically Yours,
-ACP
Update. It appears I have a buyer.

I Want To Tell You About A Chord That George Harrison Did Not Invent

The skeptical cardiologist has of late been obsessed with a Beatles song. It is the fifth song on the second side of the four mop tops seventh studio album and the third George Harrison contribution to Revolver, arguably the best record album of all time.

With a subscription to Apple Music I can listen to the entire Beatles catalogue now and one day I Want To Tell You (IWTTY) began playing. I hadn’t closely listened to this song before but at 25 seconds in someone begins playing very loudly two notes on a piano and keeps playing them for 8 seconds. The effect is strikingly dissonant but mesmerizing.

It turns out much has been written about this section of I Want To Tell you (along with anything else remotely related  to The Fab Four.)

The two notes are F and E and they are being played by Paul McCartney emphasizing the flattened ninth (and highly dissonant) portion of the chord E 7 b9.

Tim Riley in his Beatles song by song analysis, “Tell Me Why” writes of IWTTY:

The guitar line is central, the backbone for the esoteric lyrics, and the piano’s annoying dissonant figure at the end of each verse disrupts its stability.

The piano conveys the frustration of the singer, and its single-note solo is the peace he wants to attain

I’ve also seen this section described as “creating a frustrated bitonal disonance ( G sharp 7 diminished against E7 or E7 flat 9)

Apparently Harrison:

Lacking formal music training, apart from in his sitar studies…later described the harsh-sounding E79 as, variously, “an E and an F at the same time”  and “an E7th with an F on top, played on the piano”.

The Wikipedia entry on IWTTY spends considerable time on the significance of the E7flat9.

Writing in Rolling Stone’s Harrison commemorative issue, in January 2002, Mikal Gilmore recognised his incorporation of dissonance on “I Want to Tell You” as having been “revolutionary in popular music” in 1966. Gilmore considered this innovation to be “perhaps more originally creative” than the avant-garde styling that Lennon and McCartney took from Karlheinz Stockhausen, Luciano Berio, Edgar Varese and Igor Stravinsky and incorporated into the Beatles’ work over the same period.

The Wikipedia entry goes on to say that the chord “became one of the most legendary in the entire Beatles catalogue.”

Harrison was deliberately using the chord’s dissonance to create an emotion.”The musical and emotional dissonance is then heightened by the use of E79, a chord that Harrison said he happened upon while striving for a sound that adequately conveyed a sense of frustration.”

“speaking in 2001, Harrison said: “I’m really proud of that as I literally invented that chord.”

 I thought it highly unlikely that George Harrison “invented” (literally or figuratively) the seventh flattened ninth chord but had no way of checking the accuracy of the Wikipedia quote (from Guitar World magazine.) or the context. Was Harrison that musically naive, was he joking or did he mean something else?

Later that day I sat at my Kawai baby grand piano and began playing songs from The Encylopedia of Jazz.

One of my favorites from this book  is Satin Doll (written in 1953 by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn) and as I was playing it I realized that it was loaded with  flattened ninths. There’s a D7flat9 when the word Satin is sung. These chords make the song more complex and memorable.

Next I played my favorite song in this Jazz book i “Lullaby of Birdland” (music written by George Shearing in 1952) which features two 7flat9 chords (F# and B7) in the second measure (played with the words “that’s what I.”)  Later on in the song we are treated to 7flat 9 in D and the chord that George Harrison claimed to have literally invented E7b9.

Here’s Ella Fitzgerald singing it with Duke Ellington

So a cursory review reveals that the chord was being utilized a lot in 1953 (and that I have a special attraction to its complexity.)

Perhaps Harrison can claim he was the first to appropriate the chord in rock and roll music? Alas, we know that an F#7b9 is prominent in the Beach Boys’ Caroline, No which was released in March, 1966, 3 months before the Beatles released IWTTY.

He may not have invented the chord or even been the first to use it in rock and roll but his use in IWTTY coupled with McCartney’s hammering on the F and E have made me forever cognizant of that song’s beauty. 

For that plus his brilliant guitar work and songwriting during and after The Beatles I will be eternally grateful.

Nondissonantly Yours,

-ACP

N.B. Dear Readers. If any of you have access to the Guitar World interview of 2001 (from Wikipedia-Garbarini, Vic (January 2001). “When We Was Fab”. Guitar World. p. 200) wherein Harrison is alleged to claim he invented the magical 7b9 please share it with me. 

Also, please note there is a new button on my website which allows you to sign up for my weekly emal newsletter (which i promise will be mostly related to cardiology and not esoteric musical chords.)

Kilimanjaro Rises Like A Limp Wrist Above The Serengeti: Mondegreens, Africa, and Yacht Rock

The newly minted wife (aka the ex-eternal fiancee’ of the skeptical cardiologist) and I love mondegreens and we love to argue about the relative worth of songs.

She, for example, loves “yacht rock” and I abhor it, maintaining that any good song (e.g. one I like) cannot be considered in that annoying genre (Steely Dan’s  “Do It Again”, for example). 

A Mondegreen per wikipedia

is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase as a result of near-homophony, in a way that gives it a new meaning. Mondegreens are most often created by a person listening to a poem or a song; the listener, being unable to clearly hear a lyric, substitutes words that sound similar and make some kind of sense.[1][2] American writer Sylvia Wright coined the term in 1954, writing about how as a girl she had misheard the lyric “…and laid him on the green” in a Scottish ballad as “…and Lady Mondegreen”.[3]

Mondegreens are becoming extinct I fear, as today’s youth do not have to wonder what any particular lyric is-they can just Google it and have the answer in seconds.

Today, however, we hit the jackpot as the ex-EFOSC texted a snippet of the awful song “Africa” by the awful band “Toto” to a friend. I have saved my precious readers the misery of listening to the entire song and herewith present you with the audio snippet:

Misheard or wrong Toto Africa song lyrics.

The wife was impressed with the fact that Toto worked some unusual words into a particular line of the song, which she had always thought was “Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like a leprous above the Serengeti.” When I questioned her as to what a leprous was (a female leper?) she laughed and realized she was thinking leopardess, as in female sphinx-type thing. A friend of hers always heard “rises like a limp wrist,” which explains my blog title.

I told her this sentence made no sense and when I googled her phrase I found somebody else had misread the true lyric to a greater extent as: Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like a leprous above this Africa heat 

The actual silly verse is as follow

The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what’s right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what’s deep inside, frightened of this thing that I’ve become

Now those are some amazingly pretentious and unintentionally humorous words! (This coming from someone who maintains Jim Morrison is a great poet.)

I am not alone in considering this a silly song with pretentious lyrics-

In an article (How Did Toto’s Africa become a millennial anthem?) on the love that millennials have for Toto and Africa, Toto founder and guitarist Steve Lukather is quoted as saying:

“I could never have called this. We’ve always worked, but to have everything blow up again over this silly song… All these young kids are coming to our shows. We’re at half a billion streams, getting ten million a month. All of our albums are selling. It’s a trip for us.

Yes, this is truly a silly song by a bad band but it has produced a wonderful mondegreen.

Please feel free to share your favorite mondegreen.

Mondegreenophilically Yours,

-ACP

N.B. Millennials even love this terrible video of Africa and have watched it 445 million times!

Apple AirPods Are Absolutely Awesome!

The skeptical cardiologist  began using Apple products during his cardiology fellowship in 1984.  My first research was done on an Apple II and my first personal computer was an original Mac.

These days I am unabashedly and totally immersed in Apple stuff which I use at work, at home, on vacation and while exercising.

In the last year I have fallen in love with Apple AirPods.

Mauricio Pesce/Flikr

I use these bluetooth earphones for listening to music and podcasts and telephone conversations and I like them far better than anything I have previously stuck in or around my ears.

Apple AirPods are amazing.

Here are  a few things off the top of my head that I find amazing about them…

  1. They come in an incredibly slick little white case that serves as storage and charging dock and looks like a container of dental floss. You literally never run out of juice if you put your earphones back in the case when you are done and charge it occasionally.
  2. Pairing with my iPhone and my various Macs is a breeze. Once paired the device automatically plays music through the AirPods if they are in your ears and nearby.
  3. They sense when they are in your ears, give you a tone that they are working and start playing from your paired device on their own.
  4. If you double tap on one of them you can have it advance to next song, bring up Siri, or  stop playing.
  5. If you bring up Siri you can give complex commands like call the Eternal Fiancée or remind me  to bring in Jen’s new shoes package on the porch.
  6. They are so comfortable you don’t notice you are wearing them.
  7. What about appearance you may ask?

    The eternal fiancee’ with q-tip in right ear

    Well, when I first started wearing them the Eternal Fiancée made fun of me because, she said, it  looked like I had  q-tips in my ears. Four months later she borrowed mine to go on a run and decided to order her own the next day

  8. What about the sound you may ask? I think the sound is awesome. I’m a musician and a music fanatic but don’t consider myself an audiophile. I find the sound quality on these little things perfect for my needs and equivalent to any headphones I have used.  I spend a lot of time while listening to songs picking out individual instruments and these are great for that.
  9. What if you forget and leave the AirPods out and they become almost fully discharged. Have no fear, within 10 minutes they are fully charged in the case and ready to go-amazing.
  10. They can survive a washing machine/dryer assault (see below).

AirPods: The Cons

Due to my tendency to lose various components of the AirPods the EF has marked hers with a red dot of  nail polish

There are some downsides…

-Because they are so small and unobtrusive I forget about them and lose them easily. You can actually use the Find My iPhone Apple feature to have them make a sound and track them down but a few months ago I misplaced one so badly I had to replace it.

–One quick visit to my local Apple Genius Bar and 69$ later I had a new right AirPod.

-Early on in my AirPods experience I left them in my running shorts pocket and they went through an entire washing and drying experience….. and after a several  hour  period of dormancy they worked perfectly well!

Can you tell the difference between the dental floss case and the Apple AirPods case?

-The case is so small and unobtrusive it is very easy to forget. I have left it on treadmills innumerable times. One time I left it on an airplane….Another visit to Apple required.

I am not alone in my love of the AirPods.

I came across this review on The Verge by Vlad Savov (“‘The Verge’s resident Bulgarian, headphone and mobile reviewer”)

But when I look at the limits of what’s possible today — in terms of miniaturization of audio and wireless components — I can’t see a better combination of price, features, and performance than what’s offered by the AirPods. The price is fair and the compromises are acceptable. I make it my job to review (and enjoy) super heavy and expensive headphones that do amazing things with music, recreating and illuminating every minute detail of a recording. That makes me extremely picky about any products I listen to, and the thing the AirPods share with the giant cans built by the likes of Audeze and Focal is that they convey the sense and intent of the music. And the reason I now reach for the AirPods even when I’m at home, the unique thing that delights all their users, is their unrivalled ease of use

AirPodsRulingly Yours,

-ACP

N.B.  The AirPods greatness at unobtrusively staying in your ear was initially thought to be a design flaw. This writer at Business Insider recently noted that

Most earbuds have gummy tips, which create a “seal” around the inside of your ear that’s important for two reasons. First, it creates an environment where outside sound can’t leak in, so you can listen to your music without being interrupted by outside noises, like a subway car or people walking on the street. Second, by creating that ideal environment, your music will actually sound better, especially lower bass frequencies.
The AirPods break that design rule. Instead of having gummy tips, they have a hard plastic shell, like Apple’s wired earbuds, the EarPods. They don’t create a tight seal, and sit on the inside of my ears instead of totally plugging them up. This design lets outside sound leak in, which is annoying, but it actually helps the AirPods stay in my ears.
Totally wireless earbuds rely on their seal for more than just audio quality. They actually need that tight seal to stay securely in your ears. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if I’m sitting, walking, or running — all of the gummy-tipped wireless earbuds I’ve tried fit into my ears nicely for a couple of minutes, then start loosening up.
Eventually, the seal the earbuds created breaks, and one or both of them fall out of my ears. Because the AirPods don’t have to maintain a seal, they’re the only totally wireless headphones I can reliably keep in my ears for more than a few minutes at a time.

And You May Ask Yourself: Why is David Byrne So Awesome?

The skeptical cardiologist was a second year medical student when the Talking Heads released their debut album, Talking Heads 77. Along with Elvis Costello and The Clash, the Talking Heads kept my spirit alive between crushing sessions of memorizing microbiologic, biochemical and anatomic minutiae.

The band went on to a very successful and highly influential career. I followed them closely through 1985’s commercially successful album, Little Creatures, which features two of my favorite songs from the mid to late 1980s “And She Was” and “Road To Nowhere.”

 

David Byrne, the idiosyncratic songwriter and frontman for the
Talking Heads, is currently on a concert tour in support of his solo album American Utopia  

We caught his performance in St. Louis at the Peabody Opera House Friday night and I have one word to describe it: awesome!

Daniel Durcholz’s review for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch did a much better job of summing it up than I could. He wrote:

I’m impressed with the back strength of the keyboard player (upper right). To dance/walk with (I’m guessing) a 61 key synthesizer and play at the same time seems quite difficult.

an eye-popping, mind-blowing concert that was achieved without the aid of props, video screens, or even a conventional stage set. Byrne’s 11-piece band — each of them clad in a gray suit and barefoot, like Byrne himself — carried their instruments like members of a marching band, allowing them to dance and assemble in various formations.

Beaded curtains lined the sides and back of the stage, forming a boxlike space that the musicians could perform within, effortlessly exiting and entering as needed.

Several songs featured a bright light source mysteriously moving around the stage, casting gigantic, fascinating shadows. That is Byrne front and center with guitar. Sitting in the balcony gave good views of the three-dimensional movement and positioning of the players

The overall look and feel of the show was hyper-theatrical, yet utterly human at its core. There were no backing tracks, Byrne emphasized at one point. “Everything you hear is being played by these incredible musicians,” he said.

No stranger to innovation, Byrne reinvented the concert experience in the Talking Heads’ 1984 film “Stop Making Sense.” This current outing is, if anything, even more radical and engaging.

Stop Making Sense is considered by many to be the greatest concert film of all time ((although I’m sure the eternal fiancee’ would place The Last Waltz above SMS) )but I think a Jonathan Demme or Martin Scorcese film of David Byrne’s current concerts might claim that honor.

Until such film is released this performance of “Everybody’s Coming to My House” (arguably the best song on his new album) by Byrne and his band on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert will have to suffice.

The information available through the internet never ceases to amaze me. You can click here to see exactly what Byrne played Friday night complete with links to the songs and/or videos of the songs.

If you click on the 9th song on the setlist you will be taken to this iconic existential video:

So, if you ever liked the Talking Heads or just love good music try to catch David Byrne’s show..

You might find yourself singing along with him as the audience did last Friday night the following words:

And you may find yourself
Living in a shotgun shack
And you may find yourself
In another part of the world
And you may find yourself
Behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
With a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself, well
How did I get here?

And you may find yourself asking “Why is David Byrne so Awesome?”

Letting the days go By,

-ACP

h/t Lauren at http://www.allezgourmet.com for alerting me to Byrne’s St. Louis concert.

Joe’s Cafe: A Cornucopia of Visual and Musical Delights

The coolest music venue in St. Louis in my opinion is Joe’s Cafe.

Fortunately, for the skeptical cardiologist, the venue remains fairly obscure, even to music lover’s who reside in Saint Louis.

For example, last Thursday the Eternal Fiancee’ and I, along with Doug, the Guitarist of the Band of the skeptical cardiologist (GOBOSC) and his wife were able to sit within a couple of feet of Spencer Bohren as he played roots, blues, folk and Americana on a banjo, a lap steel or two, and an acoustic guitar.

Bohren, based out of New Orleans, also sang and told stories, often at the same time.

The GOBOSC and I, being musicians, appreciated the proximity which allowed us to observe closely what Bohren did with his non-finger-pick covered fingers and thumb.

You can watch a video of Bohren relating the history of a Blues song using five guitars here:

I’ve also seen Kinky Freidman at Joe’s. I’ve been a fan of Kinky’s since I heard “Get Your Biscuits In The Oven And Your Buns In The Bed” from his 1973 album Sold American. His wikipedia entry pretty accurately summarizes his career as follows:

American singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist, politician, and former columnist for Texas Monthly who styles himself in the mold of popular American satiristsWill Rogers and Mark Twain.[2] He was one of two independent candidates in the 2006 election for the office of Governor of Texas. Receiving 12.6% of the vote, Friedman placed fourth in the six-person race.

I had forgotten about the Kinkster since reading one of his (18) detective novels a few decades ago; I figured he had retired from the music business. To my surprise one day last year, I received an email from Joe’s Cafe indicating he would be playing there on an upcoming Thursday night.

I don’t usually allow semi-celebrities to have their pictures taken with me but since I love Kinky Freidman, I made an exception for him

Bill Christman, Impresario And Connoisseur Of Signs

Joe’s Cafe is the brain child of Bill Christman, a one time sign painter, now fine artist, and lover of good live music.

Bill decides who will perform, and introduces the acts, always with a quirky sense of humor, but a stern warning that we audience members should be listening when the artist is performing, and not talking or playing on iphones.

Bill Christman (right) introducing band. I forget why he had the arab headgear and why the man is playing the trumpet on the left. It’s always interesting at Joe’s Cafe!

Christman’s studio, Ars Populi sits next to Joe’s Cafe. According to the RFT:

Christman quit the sign-painting business more than two decades ago in order to devote himself full-time to fine art — Ars Populi doubles as his studio — and today St. Louisans can find his handiwork all over town, perhaps most famously at Beatnik Bob’s Museum of Mirth, Mystery & Mayhem inside the City Museum. His homage to bohemia, Joe’s Café, is the stuff of legend in Christman’s Skinker-Debaliviere neighborhood and beyond; its sporadic schedule of music events and invite-only policy have combined to create a speakeasy vibe that — improbable as it might seem in this day and age — is uncontrived and genuine.

Arrive early to Joe’s Cafe for the best seats (although there are no “bad” seats-some do require a climb up a wooden ladder to the balcony) so you can wander through the wonder of the back yard.

The view from the balcony is quite good. Be aware, however, that the only air conditioner in the place will be blowing cold air directly on you if you sit in these particular seats. Up in the balcony you may feel sufficiently distant to chat with your friends during the performance but please don’t. Music is King at Joe’s! Go to a bar (?TGI Friday’s)  if you want to chat with your friends when musicians are playing nearby.

Words are insufficient to describe what one encounters either inside or outside Joe’s Cafe, so let’s savor some snapshots of both.

First, some relatively random shots from outside:

It has been said of the interior:

at Joe’s, you enter another dimension, a place lit by red neon and dusty yellow incandescent marquee bulbs

The Eternal Fiancee’ describes the decoration as “the interior of Joe’s Cafe is the reality of what TGI Friday’s does a bad job of imitating.”

Spencer Bohren playing one of his lap steel guitars and singing Dylan’s “Ring Them Bells” (Ring them bells for the time that flies For the child that cries When innocence dies) a mere meter away from my table. The popcorn on the table is the only food or beverage one can purchase at Joe’s and it costs one (or two) bucks.

If you end up going to Joe’s Cafe be sure and tell them the skeptical cardiologist sent you. And please, don’t tell your friends and neighbors how cool it is.

Sonically Yours,

-ACP

N.B. Here’s the info Joe’s Cafe emails provide about performances.

Here’s the Joe’s Mostly Official Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/stlouisjoescafe/
which often has better information than these emails.

Joe’s is a BYOB, BYOF music club.
Admission: $10
Doors open around 7:00
Music starts at 8:00
Alcohol consumption ends at 10:15
Recycle your own stuff
Smoking outside only
Park on Des Peres Ave. Thou shalt not annoy our neighbors.

 

Nonskeptical Musical Thoughts On Dick Dale and the Dead While Running For Longevity

Since determining that running would lower my cardiovascular risk and that it was actually good for my wonky knees (running is associated with a lower risk of ostearthritis or hip replacement, see here), I’ve been trying to do it regularly.

It has become therapeutic in many ways, aiding sleep and reducing stress levels. And, unlike my bike riding adventures, I have yet to fall and injure myself running and I don’t get dirty looks for not wearing a helmet.

I’ve even contemplated running 5 kilometers,  although not as part of any formal exhibition: just a personal , private goal. To this end I have for the first time recently run 4 kilometers.

Listening to music during these longer runs greatly helps the time pass and sometimes I am able to find songs which fit my running cadence, albeit not through any systematic analysis but through mere serendipity. I let my entire musical collection (nicely streamed by Apple music) be my running playlist and this ranges from the Talking Heads to Thelonius Monk to Bach.

This morning’s run (the second time I reached 4K) I was aided by two songs: one by the king of surf guitar, the other by the kings of psychedelic jam rock.

Dick Dale and Miserlou

Although, Dick Dale was huge in the early sixties, he did not register on my musical radar until  I watched Pulp Fiction and in its dazzling opening scene and  was jolted by Dale’s staccato machine gun guitar riffs alternating with his plaintive trumpet solo on  “Miserlou“.

I immediately strapped on my Strat and began trying to emulate his unique playing style.

Here’s Dick and the Del-Tones performing their version for the movie “A Swinging’ Affair”

This version contains none of the rhythmic power and electrifying guitar attack of the single and the band appears to be on tranquilizers. To make matters worse, Dick  doesn’t play that magical melodic moaning trumpet solo which contrasts so brilliantly with the pile-driving reverb-drenched guitar riffs on the original version.

You can see some of the power of the left-handed Dale in this live performance of Miserlou from 1995 but alas, no trumpet solo.

Dick Dale, remarkably, is still touring and playing well at age 80.

As fortune would have it the beats per
minute of this song is 173 which fits my preferred running speed stride cadence perfectly.

The Other One (Not Cryptical Envelopment)

The next song to aid me on my run was a live performance from the Grateful Dead’s 1972 European Tour  which is 36 minutes long.

I was slow to revere the Dead but when I first listened to their live album Europe ’72 I was hooked. Instead of studying in college, I spent way too many hours playing Sugar Magnolia (and Blue Sky, et al..)  thereafter.

The Other One highlights their free and wild improvisational style. While running I could focus on what Keith Godchaux was doing on the piano and that takes me to a psychic place in which I feel no pain.

Please excuse my hubris but I am convinced that I could have done a good job as the Dead keyboardist.  It’s probably a good thing I never got that gig, however, as it carries a very high mortality rate (not to mention that I’m a much better cardiologist than keyboardist.)

As Billboard pointed out in its obituary on the last keyboardist, Vince Welnick (who committed suicide by slitting his throat at age 55 in 2006):

Welnick was the last in a long line of Grateful Dead keyboardists, several of whom died prematurely, leading some of the group’s fans to conclude that the position came with a curse.

Welnick had replaced Brent Mydland, who died of a drug overdose in 1990. Mydland succeeded Keith Godchaux, who died in a car crash shortly after leaving the band. And Godchaux had replaced the band’s original keyboard player, Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, who died at 27 in 1973.

Last week a very good Grateful Dead documentary (Long Strange Trip) was released on Netflix. I’ve been somewhat mesmerized by what I’ve watched so far.  For example, at one point, Phil Lesh reveals that Jerry Garcia asked him to join the band as their bassist even though he had never played the instrument. (If only he had asked me!)

Strangetrippingly Yours

-ACP

N.B. Miserlou is a very old folk song with a scale that sounds exotic to Western ears: the double harmonic scale

per Wikipedia

The song’s oriental melody has been so popular for so long that many people, from Morocco to Iraq, claim it to be a folk song from their own country. In fact, in the realm of Middle Eastern music, the song is a very simplistic one, since it is little more than going up and down the Hijaz Kar or double harmonic scale (E-F-G#-A-B-C-D#). It still remains a well known Greek, Klezmer, and Arab folk song.