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Friday, Aug 22, 2014
In concert with the Asia Society, Lincoln Center held the world premiere of 'Song of the Jasmine', a collaboration between the Ragamala Dance group and jazz musician Rudresh Mahanthappa.

Lincoln Center is host to so many great shows that even on the same night you may find yourself conflicted over what to see. While I chose to see the world premiere of the ‘Song of the Jasmine’ dance as part of the ‘Out of Doors’ series, that meant I had to miss Tift Merritt performing in-doors for the ‘Americanafest’ series. But I had seen Merritt recently with Andrew Bird and she will surely be back around again so I chose to see the dance—though I had to catch a couple of her songs at the beginning.


The turnout for the dance performances was impressive as the Asia Society also shared word of the event. The first performance, done by the Chinese American Arts Council Dancers and called ‘From Chinatown with Love’, featured vivid colors and costumes as well as the dancers incorporating accessories like fans or spears. In stark contrast was the Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers and their performance of ‘Be/Longing 2’. The dancers wore comfortable, loose athletic attire that didn’t pull attention away from their dramatic motions.


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Thursday, Aug 21, 2014

Photos by Mark Manary


Joan Jett strolled on stage in Sedalia, Missouri, at the Missouri State Fair with a gum-chewing grin, fiddled with her Gibson for a couple seconds, and then ripped into an opening trifecta:  punk proclamation “Bad Reputation”,  The Runaways classic “Cherry Bomb”, and the grandstand-rattling “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)”.  After shedding her black leather jacket, she exhibited her wiry frame, jogging around the stage, still like a teenage Leather Tuscadero in a spandex chevron jumpsuit and Chuck Taylors.


Jett was intent on showcasing her first new album in seven years, last year’s strong yet underrated Unvarnished, playing six of the album’s ten songs, including the Hurricane Sandy-inspired “Make It Back”, the Dave Grohl collaboration “Any Weather”, and “Soulmates to Strangers”, a co-write with Against Me’s Laura Jane Grace.


The parade of new songs was broken up with three older self-penned numbers:  the first song she ever wrote, The Runaways’ “You Drive Me Wild”, 1981’s “Love is Pain”, and “The French Song” (Joan’s “all-time favorite video”) from 1983’s Album.


But this is a state fair and with the smell of funnel cakes and diesel in the air, the people had come to pump their fists to the hits while trying not to spill their $5.75 Bud Lights. Just when the crowd seemed to waver on unfamiliar new album material, Joan delivered the haymaking threesome of “I Love Rock ‘n Roll”, “Crimson and Clover”, and “I Hate Myself For Loving You”.  After introducing her Blackhearts during the three-song encore, she summed up her message of rebellion, individualism, and acceptance with Sly Stone’s “Everyday People”.



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Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014
Mutineers may not represent David Gray's best work, but his performance at Northerly Island nonetheless found him in fine form.

The fact that David Gray is able to nearly fill massive venues across the world almost 15 years after the release of his lone global breakthrough (1999’s White Ladder) is somewhat perplexing. This isn’t because Gray himself is bad; he, in fact, remains one of the most underrated singer/songwriters out there. But in going through his discography, it doesn’t take one long to realize just how off-kilter he is compared to his contemporaneous singer/songwriters. His chord progressions are often unpredictable and at times unsettling (“When I Was in Your Heart” from 2010’s Foundling); his choruses typically rely on repeated simple phrases (“It takes a lot of love” from fan favorite “My Oh My”); and, most of all, his lyrics, while rich with playful alliteration and intriguing images, at times become too surreal for their own good (“There are carnivals of silverfish waiting to dance upon our bones” from 2009’s Draw the Line). He’s easy to admire, but it’s equally easy to be confounded by how popular he remains, given the type of fare that typically does well in the mainstream public.


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Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014
Lincoln Center wishes José González a happy birthday after his unique performance with yMusic.

José González’s delicate songs were reframed at Lincoln Center’s ‘Out of Door’s Summer series with the addition and incorporation of chamber orchestra arrangements (by Rob Moose) as part of a collaboration with yMusic. Unbeknownst to me and perhaps much of the audience, the performance was held on the same day as González’s birthday, so it was a pleasant surprise (for him too I’m sure) to wish the musician a “Happy Birthday” at the end.


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Tuesday, Aug 12, 2014
At times it sounded like Miles Davis was sitting in with the Band of Gypsys, which made for quite a compelling sound.

A rare and special alignment in the galactic scheme of things calls for a similarly unique musical performance to mark the occasion and so it was with this gig in San Diego’s Ocean Beach neighborhood. July 25 marks “the Day Out of Time” in the Mayan calendar, akin to the Mayan New Year’s Eve according to late great Maya scholar/prophet Jose Arguelles. When this show from Stephen Perkins’ Banyan project was announced, it seemed like the type of synchronicity Arguelles long preached would manifest if humanity would move over to a 13-moon calendar.


“‘The Day Out of Time’ is the day to celebrate time is art. And since art is the basis of constructive peace, this day is also celebrated as International Peace through Culture Day,” said Arguelles’ Law of Time site of this year’s holiday (see LawofTime.org). “The Thirteen Moon New Year’s day occurs on July 26. Why is that? This date was originally correlated to the conjunction of the sun with Sirius rising. The 13-moon calendar is not just a solar-lunar orbital measure, but is coded to galactic timing cycles, most notably the Sirius cycle. Through the 13-moon calendar, human consciousness can enter into galactic consciousness. Give the human a harmonious standard of measure and then a harmonious human will walk a harmonious mile. Harmony – that’s what the day of time is all about!”


Peace and harmony were evident at Winston’s on this Friday night, and galactic consciousness seemed there for the taking as well. This was especially true with Perkins having pulled in Brian Jordan, former axeman for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, on guitar for the show. Jordan led many psychedelic trips in the Tiny Universe and Perkins is also well known for his cutting edge alt-psyche-rock excursions with Jane’s Addiction. The pairing therefore made for an intriguing combo here. Add in Dan Shulman from Garbage on bass and trumpeter Willie Waldman and Perkins had himself a dynamic quartet for the occasion.


The band rocked a vibrant high-energy sound throughout most of their two-hour set, led by Perkins’ hard-hitting attack. Here’s a guy who has played countless arena rock and even stadium gigs, yet he was still crushing the skins with the same fervor in the intimate confines of Winston’s. If Perkins was driving the spaceship, then Jordan was navigating with his interstellar fretwork. He can funk it up with the best of them, but he can also dig into the Jimi Hendrix power trio arsenal for scintillating riffage that can melt face. Waldman was the free-space wildcard with his trumpet, alternating between jazzy and spacey vibes depending on the direction of the jam. At times it sounded like Miles Davis was sitting in with the Band of Gypsys, which made for quite a compelling sound.


This was most true on the spacey jams that recalled the reality-shifting alternate dimensions of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew era. Davis may even be responsible for launching the alternative rock genre with the fusion sound he pioneered in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, adding psychedelic guitar to his jazz bands to create a new sound. Perkins is clearly a fan and it was a treat to see him playing around with the fusion genre here.


The crowd was rather sparse in the beginning of the show but continued to grow throughout the set as passersby seemed to be drawn in by the sound that was blasting out of the club to send ripples through the space-time continuum. If the club had been downtown, it probably would have drawn a crowd many times larger, with much of San Diego’s attention focused downtown for Comic-Con International.


Perkins himself was said to be heading down after the show for a late night jam with Metallica’s Kirk Hammett and Exodus, but psychedelia such as this is best experienced in the laid back environs of Ocean Beach. Linkin Park had headlined Comic-Con’s MTV Fanfest the previous night right next to the Padres’ Petco Park and drew a large gathering, but the vibe seemed somewhat sanitized by all the corporate glitz. With Banyan tripping the light fantastic at Winstons, it seemed like that window to galactic consciousness was open and accessible.


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