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LOG - 4


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23 July 2K -- At the annual Artscape festival in Baltimore, I watched Uzumé Taiko perform. Afterwards, I spoke briefly with Bonnie Soon, one of the core members...
  Later I saw a demonstration of Indian music by Sandip Burman (tabla) and John Wubbenhorst (bansuri - Indian flute). Wubbenhorst used his sruti box, the device that looks like a portable cassette radio and plays a tanpura-like drone. He used a remote control to switch the key of the drone.


24 July 2k -- Attended a meeting of the Baltimore Songwriters Association, a community group that meets to sing songs that they've written and critique them. I'd picked up a flyer from their table 2 days before, at the Artscape festival. I was interested in finding out more about songwriting (especially how songs are constructed), but didn't learn very much. I'd thought I might be able to learn things that I could apply to this website about critiquing songs. It was nice to hear people sing (usually accompanied by guitar), but the meeting seemed to last quite a while (even though I'd arrived late).


25 August 2k -- Singer/songwriter, Blake Chen, was heard by our correspondent in Ann Arbor, Michigan at a local coffeehouse... "Interesting lyrics, and Dylanesque, in a techno/folkie way."
For the second part of his set, he donned a black cape. The performance and audience response seemed to have been emotionally neutral. The cape didn't seem to affect matters one way or the other.


26 August 2k -- I left the rally against racial profiling at the Lincoln Memorial and headed over to a record store. There, I came across this spring-wound and photovoltaic cell -powered portable radio, the freeplay s360. What bothered me about it was that it was heavy, the knobs were smooth (without knurls, they're harder to turn), the seam where the two halves of the body met had a sharp edge, and the radio part was dwarfed by the winding mechanism. (Okay, that last complaint is probably less important. Nonetheless, it gives me the impression that the part that is the radio is of minor consequence.) The price was $80. Is it worth it? If you're in a situation where batteries are seldom available and you don't have to carry it around much, then it could be quite useful... I haven't listened to it yet, so I can't comment on its reception and sound.


3 September 2k -- Well, what do you know!.. a gig that's almost within walking distance of where I live! Kevin So and Da Vinci's Notebook played a house party down the street. I drove over, because it was raining off and on.
  I haven't seen So in more than a year, and he was more powerful than ever. (He'd just returned from performing a folk festival the night before, in Orkney Springs, Virginia. They must've liked him, because he said he sold 45 of his cd's.) He performed his mixture of original folk, blues, and ballads with gusto! And his songs are well written, both harmonically and lyrically...
  Da Vinci's Notebook is a DC-based acapella quartet that sings original stuff (often humorous) and covers. Their act is on the zany side, and they do some musical impressions.
One of the members is Asian. (Another has an Asian wife -- that must count for something, as does the fact that he is part Italian, part Honduran.)
  One bummer of the evening is that I tried to prepare my old minidisc recorder (Sony MZ-R2) for a possible short interview with Kevin, before I went over to the house party. But I was unable to open the machine. And in the process of trying to open it, I managed to trip the record button and erase the short interview on the disc. The interview was with the members of eX-Girl, the Japanese pop culture, punk trio.


9 September 2k -- After spending the afternoon hearing Alberta Lee speak about her father, the jailed Los Alamos researcher once accused by the FBI of spying for the Red Chinese, I headed to Annapolis to more pleasant prospects of catching a performance by folk singer/songwriter, Michael Hsu. He'd come down from New York City with a folk duo, Andy and Denise, to play at a restaurant/cafe called 49 West...


15,16 September 2k -- Flew up to Boston the third Asian American music Festival, this year titled the Boston Asian American Jazz Festival...
  I stopped by MIT Press, and found that they were having one of their infrequent book sales. Among the books and periodicals I bought was a copy of The Computer Music Tutorial (a big thick primer) and a few back issues of Leonardo Music Journal that came with CDs.


18 September 2k - Met a Danish engineer, named Kim, who'd quit his job and has been traveling across North America. He has one of those freeplay s360 radios. He said when he was in the Yukon and the far north of Canada (Inuvit?), there was so much sunlight that the solar cells were always charging the battery. He didn't need to wind the spring at all.
The sound coming out of it's small speaker sounded okay to me, but then it was tuned to a rock station. I wonder how classical music would sound on it?
Well, at least he didn't pay very much for it -- only about $40 or less from some merchant called Eddie Meyer (sp?).


24 September 2k - Caught the last show of the High Zero festival in Baltimore. It was an event that brought together musicians from around North America (and one based overseas) who experiment and improvise. Of course, most were from Baltimore, including guitarist Jerry Lim, who I saw this evening. I also saw the always entertaining percussionist from Philadelphia, Toshi Makihara.


5 October 2k - My mother and I had lunch with one of her college roommates, now a well-known beekeeper (who has advised beekeepers in Moldova, Ukraine, and Siberia as part of some USAID program). She lives in a rural county outside of Washington, D.C.
   My mother had flown out from L.A. to attend a class reunion at her alma mater, Virginia Polytechnic Institute (known today as Virginia Tech).
  I did some web-surfing beforehand and found out that there was a meeting of the Chinese American Society this evening. So I checked it out. There, the head of the Asian student umbrella group (the Asian American Student Union) announced an upcoming concert early December that will feature the vocal group Pinay, the diva Jocelyn Enriquez, and a possible third group. (The concert organizers are trying to negotiate with the South Asian American choir, Penn Masala.)
  This seems like it might be a bellweather event for Asian student activities at this campus. Certainly, the organizers are hoping that the event will provide a springboard for other pan-Asian events.


7 October 2k - We left town as the fans began filling the football stadium for the game against the Temple Owls. Our ultimate destination was a relative's home in Charlottesville. We took a roundabout route to get there. First we stopped off at the Natural Bridge, a scenic tourist trap. Then, we head up Route 11 north and pass under Highway 81 to the other side. About a mile up the road, we pulled into an Asian pear farm and bought a dozen of the round, apple-shaped fruit. (We got 6 of the Korean variety and 6 of the Japanese variety. Someone before us had bought up all the Chinese ones.)
  Then we headed over to the Blue Ridge Parkway to cruise the spine of the Shenandoah Mountains and see the fall colors and vistas. (As a matter of fact, on the way to the parkway, we passed through a town called, Buena Vista. (There must be an interesting story as to how this town got a Spanish name.)) Anyhow, the fall colors were quite marvelous, but the daylight was fading and sky was overcast (so not many chances for landscape photos). When we finally arrived at our relative's home, we were greeted with the news that my sister had given birth to a 7.5 lb. girl that morning.
  It's interesting to note that during the pregnancy, my sister mentioned that the fetus would move in response to hearing Mozart and Brahms. (I wonder what pieces were being played.) My sister did not know how to interpret this behavior, whether it was a positive or negative reaction. (We shall just have to ask the baby when she starts speaking, "While you were in the womb, what were you feeling when you heard this music?" :-)


13 October 2k - Tonight I saw the RBM Cartel (Evan Rapport (sax, mouth harp), Tom Boram (guitar, piano, tap shoes), & Toshi Makihara (percussion)) perform at the Red Room, again. Not as intense as the other time... in fact, at times rather silly. Well, maybe the silliness would have been more tolerable if the performance had flowed more. Things were rather disconnected. But random outcomes are what improvisational music is all about. It's a stochastic process. (Rather, the word should be 'aleatoric'.)


14 October 2k - Kevin So opened for Billy Bragg and the Blokes this evening at the Recher Theater in Towson, Maryland (a suburb of Baltimore). He gave a solid performance that elicited a favorable response from the 300+ crowd.
  Billy Bragg is a veteran performer and had many interesting and witty things to say inbetween songs. It turns out that the band had been in New York City the previous day or two. Bragg spoke about going to the big rally, the night before, at Madison Square Garden for Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. He was very impressed with the event.


16 October 2k - Tokyo's Melt Banana did their thing at the Ottobar in Baltimore. Speed core. Very intense. Music that must be seen and felt, rather than merely heard.


20 Oct 2k - I talked with Ambrose Liu tonight in Arlington, Virginia. He'd come down from northern New Jersey to do a gig at a reception for the new DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival. Unfortunately, the event (reception) was rather disorganized, and I don't know if Liu ever performed.
  He'd left the scene after several hours to get a bite to eat at a nearby diner, not wanting to wait around a noisy Asian yuppified bar environment.
Fortunately, I did get a chance to hear him perform 2 songs before a handful of folks, at a plaza next to the bar & restaurant. What I heard confirmed my suspicions that his presence live was better than his presence on his recording. (The instrumental backing on the CD is full and well-arranged, and overshadows his voice.)
  


21 Oct 2k - At the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, I saw a bunch of shorts. The one relevant to this website was an animation series by Jessica Hagedorn and John Woo, called "Pink Palace." It was produced for the animation module of the Oxygen tv channel. The title tune was written and performed by p.i.c. Tunes from their debut album, "hiphopmambopunkska" were also used.
I also noticed a reference to NY-based DJ Rekha in the dialog. I was pleased that I picked that up, and could tell how it and the series setting in the Bay area reflected Hagedorn having lived in the Bay area and New York city.


10 Nov 2k - I caught Boston-based singer/songwriter Francis Kim performing at Franklyn's Coffeehouse Cafe in DC. The acoustics were bad. The sounds just echoed ad nauseam, and you couldn't tell what Kim was singing. Neither could you tell the musical shape of one song from another. I wasn't sure what to make of it, when he abruptly stopped singing a song when he realized that some kids (children) were at the cafe. (Later, after hearing his CD, I realized that the song was a bitter denunciation of someone that had mightily offended him. I can't quite remember what strong language was used. I'll have to listen again.) While, the performance was rather unintelligible, it was clear that he has a sweet tenor voice.


11 Nov 2k - Met zinester Jeff Bagato (Mole) at a zine fair at American University in DC. His zine features interviews with improvisational musicians, among other things. A couple years ago, I'd picked up an issue that contained one of the first interviews with Pinay percussionist, Susie Ibarra.


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