Sunday, July 27, 2008

B&B-Eeezy Listenable/Dancey/Jazzy/Poppy

I am listening to the Bird and the Bee, an indie, dance, jazz, pop duo from the West Coast, consisting of musicians Inara George ("bird"), daughter of Lowell George of Little Feat fame, and Greg Kurstin ("bee"), a producer of Lily Allen, Flaming Lips, and the Chili Peppers. They met while the two were working on her debut album and they decided to collaborate on a jazz, electro-pop project. The result, a debut EP, Again and Again and Again and Again, a full-blown CD/LP, the Bird and the Bee, and other EPs and soon to be released second CD on the jazzy Blue Note label, produces a light, breezy, easy to listen to jazzy-dance mood.

Additionally, now there is a new album, An Invitation, by Inara George in collaboration with Van Dyke Parks. It is wistful and expansive, with the music anticipating and leading the songstress through some interesting orchestral maneuvers influenced by a varied mix of Kurt Weill, Edith Piaf, Judee Sill, Sleeping Beauty(Tchaikovsky), Randy Newman, Brian Wilson, and Regina Spektor.

E-pic Battles

In an era when we are supposed to have little attention span, when mail now of the e-variety and photos now digital are instant and disposable, and we should be ready to multi-task 24/7, it was refreshing to watch the Wimbledon final and the 15 inning all-star game. Two titans of tennis, representing youth vs experience, fought for 4 hours and 48 minutes plus rain delays, often in long, breathtaking volleys that took especially incredible strength, in often wet, wild, and windy conditions. It almost did not matter who came up on top, because both contestants won in a thrilling contest.

The All-Star Game this year was led in by a Home Run Derby, a made-for-TV event, that featured the titanic, continuous long-ball blasts of Josh Hamilton, a reformed drug-addict, in the legendary Yankee Stadium. The All Star Game, itself lasted15 innings with many twists and turns from the eighth inning on that relied in the end on substitutes (all-star subs at that) performing above their level, and sometimes at positions they had never played. It went late into the night with no end in sight, but end it finally did with the same winner as always since 1996. The 15 innings tied the 1967 game for the most innings, and the 4-hour, 50-minute affair (two minutes more than Wimbledon) stands tall as the longest game in All-Star history.

All 63 available players saw action--and position players, J.D. Drew and David Wright were ready to take the mound had the game gone later. The long event brought on unexpected twists as it should.

"It seemed like the Stadium didn't want it to end," said Derek Jeter, one of three Yankees representing the AL. "That's what we were talking about. It just wanted baseball to continue. I thought it was fitting."

Two fitting, attention focusing events for an attention-deficient era.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Night At the Hotel

Finally, I made it out to the wondrously-named Rock 'n Roll Hotel in DC's newly up-and-coming NE Atlas neighborhood. The hotel makes good use of the faded elegance of the funeral home that occupied the space previously. It was the site earlier in the week for the unlikely double bill of Tim Fite, a NY punk, hip-hop prankster (who obviously studied at Pee Wee Herman’s Playhouse), and the Watson Twins, a friendly Kentucky, by-way-of LA folk-country alternative duo. The Twins were kicking off a North American tour to plug their new CD, Fire Songs, and Tom Fite just seemed to be in the neighborhood. For once, the W Post’s reviewer hit the target with his review—it was dead on. The review is at:

The awkward match kept the evening interesting, but each act was not enough to make it alone.

Fite seems slightly out of touch, like a neighborhood clown in for a kids party, with his orange pants and pink suspenders, and wayward act. But he makes it work for him, as a fun-loving, ready-to-do just about anything performer. He effectively teams up with his elementary background drawings and a trio of backing Fites flashed up on a screen behind him, and an energetic DJ carnival-barker partner-in-mirth, Dr. Leisure. The energetic duo (or group of five depending on how you are counting) captured the crowd more than the headliner, the Watson Twins.

Chandra and Leigh Watson's farmland alternapop, backed by a competent rock trio, started strong, playing a few of their new songs, and a fine cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven." Their fine voices worked for the rock ‘n roll songs, but when they changed the mood and went slower and mellower, they lost their audience, and the crowd noise impolitely overtook their competent vocals. They never gained back the crowd, and the night ended on a downbeat.

The Watsons have the potential to harmonize their way to a large, attentive following, but on this night, they were less than a full match for the mysterious energy and humor of Tim Fite.