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Friday, April 12, 2013

Grezgrunge's 90's Nostalgia

 Intro to the 90's:

Grezgrunge (greasy grunge) was my AOL Instant Messenger screen name because I was a greasy greasy grunge boy.  I used to put Vasoline in my hair to make it extra greasy, no joke.  I would wear cut-off flannel shirts and wallet chains.  I had black steel toe combat boots that I wore to every grunge and metal show.  I had a spiked wristband and my wardrobe was mostly black.  Seriously, like 98% of my t-shirts were black.  I had black towels even.  I did not like color.  So I had a lot of earth tones, if I had to stray from black, like forest green, rust, and brown.  I was thinking about the other day how my current wardrobe reflects the opposite.  I wear lots of color, and though I still have a defined style, I stay away from black (as a rebellion to my teenage years).

In age of roller blades, floppy discs, AOL, Umbro shorts, flannel, baby doll dresses, The Gap, MTV spring break and The Real World (debut), Daria, Beevis and Butthead, Friends, Seinfeld, Pauly Shore, Alicia Silverstone, Crystal Pepsi, Surge, Doritos, and blue jean (well, everything) it was a doozy.  If you didn't grow up in the nineties, like I did, then you'd look at fads and pop-culture and just be a little confused.  The 90's were cool in a very dorky way.  They borrowed from other decades yet made a style all its own.

Here are some pics I found that display some trends from the nineties:



The style, society, and pop-culture of the 90's: 

When I think back to things that were in style then or watch movies from that time period, I just scratch my head.  Really, that was cool?  For women, a floral dress/blouse with bell bottom sleeves, cut off jean shorts or leggings underneath, black combat boots, and a black lace choker with a pageboy haircut and maroon lipstick.  Or, for guys, a flannel tied around the waist with a 'wife beater', blue jeans torn at the knee (not bought that way), hiking boots, and shoulder length hair with the accent of one earring (left for straight, right for gay).  Seriously, the styles were really retched!  You could go out wearing a jean jacket, jean shirt, jean pants, and a jean scrunchy or ball cap and you'd be in vogue with the latest trends.  Oh, scrunchies!!  At the time, a popular hairstyle was to shave the underside of your head and leave one side long and asymmetrical (the hipsters weren't the first).  In the early, 90's a lot of women still had their mall hair, intact from the end of the 80's.  But it was a little bit of a gender bender era.  Guys and girls swapped their looks.  Beware, these looks are making a comeback!  Eeek!

The gender swapping was fascinating though.  Women tried on short hairstyles and men tried to grow their hair out.  I remember going to the mall at the time, and looking at a couple thinking the guy was the girl and vise versa.  It was an age where women were beginning to explore their feminism in a way not really sought out before.  Women were not accepting staying at home as homemakers, and en masse, many more women became full-time working gals.  And this was in careers like law, medicine, government, and business.  The 80's saw the advent of the glass ceiling that women shattered.  However, I would argue that it was not until the 90's that we really began to see career women as we see them today.  Women were no longer confined to working certain kind of jobs.  They could be anything.  For my own mother, she went back to law school and graduated in the early 90's, a feat I am very proud of her for accomplishing.  This would have been unheard of in other eras.  Career women were few, and women choosing a different, more powerful career later in life was not common at all.

Political correctness was the vogue terminology.  The movie, PCU is the epitome of seizing the sarcasm surrounding political correctness.  Everyone wanted to be polite and honest without being racist or bigoted.  Race was a major societal issue, though.  What made this so were events like the race riots of the early 90's.  These riots were the result of the Rodney King incident in LA, where King (a black man) was beaten by white police officers for no reason other than sheer brutality and bigotry.  Then there was the trial of one, O.J. Simpson for the convicted murder of his ex-wife, Nicole, and her boyfriend, Ron Goldman.  There was also the rift between the African American and Jewish communities of Crown Heights, a result of a Guyanese child being hit and killed by an elderly Jewish driver.  Many young black youths were getting in touch with Afro-centrism and in exploring racial identity, many questions concerning belonging and our nation's history with slavery could no longer be ignored.

There was also an exploration of sexuality, as there was an increased awareness of HIV and AIDS.  Freddie Mercury, of Queen, became one of the first victims of the virus to have a high profile status.  He was public with the fact that he had HIV/AIDS and did not try to hide it.  He did not hide his sexuality either.  See, this was pre-Lady GaGa so many gay celebrities and who's who stayed in the closet.  It was this and the onset of MTV's the Real World with individuals like Pedro Zamora, an AIDS activist who also helped to raise awareness of the disease and bring knowledge into homes nationwide while being on the third season of the show while it was filmed in San Francisco.  Zamora really became the face of AIDS and brought the disease to pop-culture and media.  The nature of public reaction and the climate toward AIDS vastly changed because of people like Pedro and Freddie.

AIDS was no longer mysterious and scary.  People were learning the facts about HIV/AIDS and beginning to take preventative measures.  Also, the gay and lesbian movement was gaining a foothold, as sexuality was more open.  It was much more common to see same sex couples holding hands and showing public affection (though the LGBTQ movement still had a far way to go).  The effects, however, are still being seen today.  Shows like 'Ellen', 'Will & Grace', 'Friends', and even 'Roseanne' portrayed gay characters.  Also the idea of being 'bisexual' was blossoming in the 90's and the idea that your girlfriend could date women while also dating you became much more novel and accepted.  I even remember a movie 'Threesome' where Lara Flynn Boyle, Stephen Baldwin, and Josh Charles had a sultry, well threesome.  Then, there was 'Chasing Amy', all about a lesbian, Joey Lauren Adams, who also seemed to like boys.  Hey, it was the 90's!!

Along with the new found freedom of sexuality came the exploration of 'alternative' lifestyles.  Such things as S&M and vegetarianism weren't viewed as being so weird anymore.  Madonna came out with her 'Sex' book and went through a phase of hitchhiking naked.  Dennis Rodman wore a wedding dress to promote his auto-biography; he became synonymous with 'freak' at donning green or leopard print hair and multiple piercings.  He was even rumored to be having a three-way with Madonna herself.  Drew Barrymore stood up on David Letterman's desk and showed her breasts.  It was an age of exhibitionism and exploration.  Kids were piercing their noses and their belly buttons; you didn't just pierce your ears to make a statement anymore.  You had to pierce your nose and dangle a chain from your nose to your ear to even be considered in the running for 'cool'.  Even guys were piercing.  Tattoos were now just getting cool.  So, piercing and tattoo parlors were popping up even in Midwestern towns.  You could see kids with blue hair and black leather pants walking around Des Moines or Kansas City.  Being punky and goth weren't just urban phenomenons.

The 90's were weird though.  Arguably, weirder than the 80's.  George HW Bush, then Bill Clinton were our fearless American leaders.  Strange news events like the Nancy Kerrigan knee cap bashing incident of the 1994 Olympics, where former teammate and competitor, Tonya Harding was found guilt of being behind the entire incident (she wanted the gold).  What also became headlines was the penis chopping incident by one Lorena Bobbitt, when she cut her husband's, John Wayne Bobbitt's penis off because of his repeated abuse. Though, she said it was when he tried to rape her which pushed her to the edge.  Also included the headlines from the time was the murder of the Mendendez brothers' (named Lyle and Erik) parents.  They shot them due to years of abuse, both sexual and physical, at least according to the brothers.  However, because the brothers were flaunting their late parents' wealth days after their demise proved that, perhaps, they were after money.  All of the above incidents, by the way, are seen in sarcastic jest in the Weird Al Yankovic video for 'Headline News' (a parody of Crash Test Dummies's song 'Mmmm').  Yes, it was a very strange time indeed.

Weird Al Yankovic- 'Headline News' (1994)

  The tunes of the 90s:

However, before I leave you, I want to provide a sample mix of sounds from the times.  I think the songs of the 1990's speak for themselves.  Have a listen, and then maybe you'll understand what it was like growing up in the 'dazed and confused' nineties.

40) Boyz II Men- 'End of the Road' (1992)

39) Spin Doctors- 'Little Miss Can't Be Wrong' (1991)

38) Gin Blossoms- 'Hey Jealousy' (1993)

37) Arrested Development- 'Mr. Wendal' (1992)

36) Portishead- 'Sour Times' (1994)

35) Nada Surf- 'Popular' (1996)

34) Tracy Bonham- 'Mother, Mother' (1996)

33) Deadeye Dick- 'New Age Girl' (1994)

32) Snow- 'Informer' (1992)

31) Mazzy Star- 'Fade Into You' (1994)

30) Dinosaur Jr.- 'Feel the Pain' (1994)

29) Alanis Morissette- 'You Oughta Know' (1995)

28) Tag Team-'Whoomp! (There It Is)' (1993)

27) Nate Dogg and Warren G- 'Regulate' (1994)

26) Skee-Lo- 'I Wish' (1996) 

25) Coolio- 'Fantastic Voyage' (1994)

24) Crash Test Dummies- 'Mmmmm' (1993)

23) Jill Sobule- 'I Kissed a Girl' (1995)

22) The Sundays- Wild Horses' (1994)

21) Hootie and the Blowfish- 'Let Her Cry' (1994)

20)   Stabbing Westward- 'Shame' (1996)

19) Poe- 'Angry Johnny' (1995)

18) Veruca Salt- 'Seether' (1994)

17) Whale- 'Hobo Humpin' Slobo Babe' (1994)

16) Hum- 'Stars' (1995)

15) The Rentals- 'Friends of P' (1995)

 14) Ace of Base- 'Don't Turn Around' (1994)

13) Urban Cookie Collective- 'Ive Got the Key' (1996)

12) Rozalla- 'Everybody's Free' (1992)

11) Culture Beat- 'Mr. Vain' (1993)

10) James- 'Laid' (1993)

9) Harvey Danger- 'Flagpole Sitta' (1997)

8) Lucas- 'Lucas with the Lid Off' (1994)

7) Us3- 'Flip Fantasia' (1993)

6) Milla Jovovich- 'Gentlemen Who Fell' (1994)

5) Salt n' Peppa- 'Shoop' (1993) 

4) En Vogue- 'Free Your Mind' (1992)

3) UB40- 'Can't Help Falling in Love With You' (1993)

2) 4 Non-Blondes- 'What's Up' (1992)

1) Stereo Mc's- 'Connected' (1992)

Rrap-up to the 90's:

There you have it, my mix for the illustrious nineties.  I know that I left off bands like Oasis, Green Day, The Offspring, No Doubt, Nirvana, Hole, Foo Fighters, Presidents of the USA, Radiohead, and Dave Matthews Band.  I wanted to try and include first, variety and also more obscure songs from the era.  Of course, Salt n' Peppa was not obscure, but all of the above tracks define what the nineties meant to me.  I remember these songs, and a flood of memories come back as I listen to each one.

It's funny because in a conversation I was having today, I realized that I grew up listening to great music.  I have always wished to live in the sixties, namely 1965-1975 so I could have been around that scene.  What I never realized is that the music of the nineties was roller skating parties (East Side, West Side) and rollerblading in my driveway.  The music was middle school and high school.  I was coming into my own and finding out who I was as a person.  This music was fantastic and, unfortunately, I was not old enough to attend concerts until the later part of the nineties.  I missed out on some good shows, I'm sure.  However, I still got to see many great bands and festivals (including Warp Tour and Ozzfest).

I will not soon forget the nineties and movies like 'Clueless', 'Reality Bites', 'Dazed and Confused', 'Billy Madison', 'Empire Records', 'The Craft', 'Mallrats', 'Clerks', 'Chasing Amy', or 'Dogma' (I watched a lot of Kevin Smith).  Shows like 'Seinfeld', 'Friends', 'Saved by the Bell', 'Beverly Hills 90210', 'My So Called Life', 'Fresh Prince of Bel-Air', 'Full House', 'Roseanne', 'Family Matters', and 'The Cosby Show' were and still are favorites; they have left lasting impressions on our pop-culture (there was even a Steve Urkel breakfast cereal).  If you don't know who Steve Urkel (did I do that?) is, then look it up!  The Ninja Turtles (go, ninja go) were the rage and cartoons like: Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, Tailspin, Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck and Ren & Stimpy were favorites of every kid.

I am glad I came of age in this strange time.  The nineties were recovering from the eighties and were not quite as technologically advanced as today's era.  Cell phones still came in large cases and were referred to as 'car phones'.  My first cellular phone did not even fit into my pocket.  There were no i devices (I tunes, I phones, I pads, etc).  The Internet was brand new and Google, though in existence, was not the tour de force it is nowadays.  Youtube, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, and any app for that matter, did not exist.  If you listened to music, it was on a portable CD walkman.  Cassette tapes and video cassettes were still sold.  I remember when DVD's came out, and I thought that they wouldn't last.  Same thing with MP3's.  Now, everything is digital.  So, listening to the songs of the nineties take me back to a simpler time.  A time when we were a little more naive but also a little more connected to each other.

Talk to the hand (cuz the face don't understand),


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

Video for 'Evil Twin' by Modeselektor feat. Otto von Schirach

My worst fear is coming face to face with an evil version of myself.  It would be me, but a me that has decided to use his powers for evil, not good.  Have you ever had this thought?  Facing an evil version of yourself?  For me, it's someone who is completely selfish, haughty, indulgent, and mean.  Very mean.  I have had dreams where this has happened.  The person looks and talks like me, walks and has the same mannerisms.  However, because it's me, I also know my weaknesses and would  prey upon them like a wolf to a flock of sheep.  I have always known that, if I so chose, I could turn my green/blue beam to red/orange.  My blunt insults and astute observations could make people melt on the spot.  I could manipulate people to cower and fear me.

Interestingly, looking up the idea of 'evil twin' in google, leads me, of course to Wikipedia.  We all know that there is a lot of imagery of evil twin within literature, movies, comic books, and television shows (cartoons and sci-fi namely).  Interestingly, the evil twin idea comes out of Zoroastrianism.  There are twins Ahura Mazda (good) whose roots are related to 'wisdom' and 'femininity'.  Then, Angra Mainyu (evil) whose roots align with the concepts of 'destruction' and 'mind/spirit'.  Obviously, the idea of creation and destruction are central to most, if not all, of the world's religions.  It is seen time and time again in both the old and new testaments of the Bible.  However, what fascinates me about the Zoroastrian concept is that good and evil are twins.  It opens the possibility that we each have an evil doppelganger in existence.  The show 'Fringe' definitely explores this concept.

However, even though it is fascinating, I never want to meet my alternate, evil self.  In turn, I also have feared turning into an evil version of myself as this is not a self I ever cared to explore.  So, sometimes I also think about the possibility of going back in time and what I'd do/say to prevent this nightmare from happening.  Though it didn't happen, it very easily could have.   It nearly did.  For many years I was in a very dark place, fighting my own demons.   In some parallel universe, an evil version of myself exists.  However, what if a time machine existed?   What would I change?  What advice would I give to a younger version of myself to especially make sure I ended up using my powers for good?

I've been thinking a lot lately about what I would do if I could go back in time and meet myself, say 10 years ago or 20 years ago.  What would I say to a 21 year old version of myself?  An 11 year old version?

Maybe I'd say to ignore all the bullshit.  Just tell people how you feel, exactly.  Tell the kids that bully you that one day, they'll be unhappy and bald and/or fat.  Tell your best teachers how they'll inspire you to become an educator.  Tell your worst ones how you'll use them as an example to your students of what's laughable and pathetic.  I would spend more time with my sister, getting to know who she really is.  I would look around at all my friends and look deep inside of them to hold the real ones close and fake out everyone else.  I would explain to my parents what their manipulation and psychological abuse would result in.  I would have told myself not to give up or give in.  To keep on being true to yourself and not let others define you.

I think I wrote a letter to a future self in middle school but I don't remember what I did with said letter.  I probably told myself to keep writing, as my 5th/6th grade English teacher told me to never stop writing.  She said that my stories showed promise and I had a great imagination and creativity.  I still remember this!  However, I probably told myself that I wasn't popular and that I should try to be liked by everyone.  I've always had trouble with people not liking me, as I've always found myself to have a magnetic personality.  Funny, charming, but a little too real perhaps.  I've always vied for acceptance even if it means being friends with people who aren't really a 'friend'.  I should have told myself not to sacrifice my principles or who I was just for acceptance.  What else would I say? 

I know that if I wrote a letter to my past self that I could send back through time, I would tell myself to explore art more.  Take more art classes in high school.  Get more involved in music and theater.  Branch out and listen to music other than angry, angst ridden fuck off music.  I would tell my past self to go out for sports, maybe track or soccer.  I would talk about being okay with being alone sometimes rather than being surrounded by dozens of people who only hang out with you because you offer something.  Or, maybe I would have written an inspirational speech about how I am destined for amazing things and not to listen to naysayers because they are all jealous and insecure.

I think about this a lot.  And it makes me think about how I've changed but also what has remained the same.  I know my core being has always remained the same.  I have always loved literature and words, playing with language.  I read at an early age and though my writing came a little late, I have always enjoyed books and being verbal.  My verbal skills have always far outweighed my math skills.  Though, now I know I'm not bad at math.  I was never given the proper encouragement and perhaps with a more progressive teaching method with math, I would have excelled in the subject.  Or, if I would have somehow prevented my father from ever tutoring me in math and causing all of the psychological damage that ensued.  I cannot change the past, though.

What has happened, has already transpired.  I'm not sure I'd actually want to go back in time and change things because everything: the good, the bad, the ugly has happened for a reason.  There was a lesson in every tear and giggle, every heartache and moment of joy.  The positive and negative in my life has made me who I am now, and I like who I am now.  I'm confident and sure of myself.  Despite setbacks and pitfalls, I have triumphed.  My story could have gone a zillion different ways but I consider myself a fighter, a vanquisher of everything negative in my life.

I still have moments of doubt and insecurity but instead of throwing a pity party,  I make myself make a list of changes I should make.  I like making lists.  They make me feel like I've accomplished something.  You know, checking off that little box with an x.  Then when the list has x's in every box, I move on to another list.  I know what things I need to work on and what I want to achieve.  Personal success is very important to me, and I always have set very high goals.  Actually, somewhat unrealistic goals.  For every project I ever worked on for school, my teacher would always say, "Why did you pick the hardest topic again?"  I guess I just like laying out a challenge for myself.  Why take the easy way out?  Sometimes the triumph is not in the answer but in the path you took to get there.

I know that despite a lot of shit that I've had to deal with, I am a very positive person.  I still hold myself to high standards because I believe that I will do something important.  I've always had that feeling of not being quite like the other kids.  Almost like I was dropped from another decade or planet.  In fact, I was always convinced that a whole species exist of beings like myself on a planet that we had not yet discovered.  That I had dropped to earth like Superman or was an alien being yet to be found like in episodes of Star Trek.  My values never matched up with my peers, exactly.  I try to view others as humans, and I judge them by their characteristics.  I'm a pretty good judge of character, too.  Usually my first impressions are pretty dead on.  A huge leap if you ask me, since I used to judge people by what they wore.  I would never talk to someone who was 'too preppy' or 'too good looking' when I was younger.  I didn't trust people like that.  I only trusted the weirdos, misfits, and pariahs.  I guess that's why people who are mentally imbalanced feel a kindred relationship with me (I discuss this in another post: Blotter Test).

I'm proud of how far I've come, though.  I'm also thinking of what I could say to my future self, however.  What would I say to a 45 year old version of myself?  75?

It would go something like this:

  Dear me,

Don't give up.  You will achieve greatness.  But, remember that for some it happens at the most unexpected moment.  You cannot force it.  You cannot will it to happen tomorrow.  You have a path that is enlightened by a greater power, and all you can do is ask to keep on this divine path of yours.  You are real, an individual.  You are eccentric, artistic, and beautiful.  Do not forget it.  And don't get frustrated if you fall down a few times.  Your goals are lofty, and your head is often in the clouds.  Earth can be a cold, dark place.  Just remember to shine your light around and keep climbing the path until you've reached the top of the mountain.  I love you.



"Mirror in the sky, what is love?   Can the child within my heart rise above?  Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?  Can I handle the seasons of my life?  Well, I've been afraid of changing because I've built my life around you.  Time makes you bolder, even children get older.  And I'm getting older too."
    -Smashing Pumpkins (1994)- originally written by Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac (1975)

                                             'Landslide' by Smashing Pumpkins (a fan video)
                                    I loved the symbolism which matches up with the song's message on life!

                                              Stevie Nicks's 'Landslide' (from 1997)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Cemetery Catharsis

  A cemetery is a very unlikely place for a concert, but that is where I ended up last Sunday, March 31st. I went to hear the Vulpes and Little Fox play at Greenwood Cemetery Chapel.  First of all, if you have not been to Greenwood Cemetery, you need to go.  It is very photographic and artistically beautiful, for a cemetery, that is.  I don't like cemeteries and I wasn't one of those kids to hang out in them, but Greenwood has a magic and it made my journey there into an 'experience', an 'adventure'.

  As soon as I walked into Greenwood Cemetery Chapel, I was smitten and I could tell that I was going to have a very unique experience for Sunday afternoon.  It was mildly ironic that it was Easter Sunday and I was in a chapel, with the appearance of going to church.  Actually, everyone there was in anticipation of music rather than religion so I was in good company I guess.  I mean, it is funny to find a good little Jewish boy in a chapel with a giant Jesus on the wall, everything primed for some Easter service but devoid of all of that.

The chapel had cool Gothic architecture and the stained glass was stunningly beautiful.  In fact, it reminded me a little bit of my college (Kenyon College) with its spires and buttresses.  The venue was just beautiful and could not have been a more perfect setting for the music I was about to enjoy.  It was small, intimate and fit fifty to sixty people quite comfortably in its pews.  I saw Tanya Lam (of Vulpes) in a two-toned blue long dress hugging and greeting people.  We had never met, but immediately she knew I was the blogger she invited to attend this concert.  She's definitely the type of woman you want to be friends with and hang out with.  She just has that energy!

                                      video: Day in the Life of Tanya Lam

Little Fox: The concert started with Little Fox (Kathryn Lee Campo), a woman generating music as a solo act.  It started with her at the keyboard, barefoot.  I was quickly impressed.  She started hitting her microphone and clapping.  However, this wasn't performance art.  It was music!  I've never heard or seen anything like it but it was amazingly brilliant.  She would record a track and then record over the previous track again and again.  She would record layers upon layers of what she would play and sing.  She started playing a melody on the keyboard and then would sing or start playing the violin.  The music was made by her recording the bits and pieces over one another.  She just kept adding layers.  It was live and public, yet very private at the same time, like she was recording something in her apartment.

I thought it was cool to see each song being constructed right in front of our very eyes.  She would make the harmonies all herself and each layer synced up perfectly.  The piece from the keyboard fit with her soprano melody which then fit with the alto part and then into her tapping the microphone.  To most people it would seem weird, but to me it was so fucking cool.  The awesome stuff Little Fox was doing with the audio reminded me of the ground breaking stuff the 60's band, United States of America, was doing with analog back in the late sixties.  Her sound was so trippy and hypnotic; it was very fitting for the soundtrack to a cemetery.  The only downside was that the speaker had some feedback issues when the volume go too loud which ruined the moment of some of the songs.

I also liked that the sound was so basic and primitive (in being unpretentious) but yet it was very high tech.  You couldn't do this type of music without the kind of equipment that was there but the music fought with both the ordinary and bizarre, the other worldly and contemporary.  There was a play of light and dark, and like I said, it was perfect music for a cemetery chapel.  Each song fed perfectly into the next and Little Fox was always totally absorbed into her music, and she seldom looked up.  It really was like being invited to a private recording, like we were seeing something undramatic yet rehearsed.  The dreamy feel of the music transported the listener to a far away land, to the past.  In fact, it would be an awesome act to precede Ginger and the Ghost (another recent band I saw).  I loved that the nature of the music was unpredictable and fresh; the audience was on the edge of their seat to know what was coming next.    It reminded me slightly of Cat Power or Feist but really, Little Fox was unlike anything I've heard/seen.
                                       'Dish Soap' by Little Fox

  Reverb Nation: Little Fox

Vulpes and Impulse String Quartet: Tanya Lam was in charge of both of these projects.  Vulpes is her solo act.  She came out, at first, with a violin and then sang.  She is certainly something of a musical prodigy.  She would move between different instruments with ease.  She mixed jazz and classical/chamber music with a new twist.  Again, this was something I haven't heard before.  Tanya's vocals were shrill (pleasantly so) and precise at the same time.  Her lyrics hit you over the head like a glass bottle but her voice is smooth as glass.  It's a play of soft and hard.  Her voice reminds me a little of Brittany Howard from Alabama Shakes or Priscilla Ahn.  There was something distinct and raw about the way she sang.  Her singing was alive and full of energized power.  Her music definitely has and edge and it isn't something you can get from listening.  You HAVE to see Tanya live.  You just do!  Her energy is kinetic and she is so soulful and passionate with her vocals and lyrics.  She feels every word she sings.

With the string quartet, it was just an extension of Tanya's solo act.  There were four people, three women and a man: two violins (Alex Weill on 1st violin and Hana Segerstrom on 2nd violin), one cello (Susan Mandel), and one viola (David Fallo).  Tanya played an electric guitar.  The balance of acoustic and electric strings made a completely unique and balanced sound.  Again, the hard vs. the soft, the electric vs. the acoustic.  I loved the fusion of classical with electric guitar.  Sheer genius!  There was also an unexpected quality to the music here.  At one point audience members would tap on glasses that made noises like dinghies or buoys lost at sea.  I felt like I was on the ocean, on a boat, being tossed in a storm.  I guess this was fitting, since the theme of this set was water.  It was about the wisdom and taking in the space around you; how you always have to mold to the people and places around you.

I definitely understand the whole elements thing.  I, myself, am made of fire.  Being a double Sagittarius, I am consumed by fire and it is my wife (an Aquarius) whose water ways always calm me down.  The only thing I wished was that the idea of the elements was explained a little more, perhaps in the program.  There was a young blonde woman who explained everything right between Little Fox and Vulpes but with little context.  I think she was late to the show, and perhaps she had a longer monologue.  I'm not really sure.  I feel that Tanya had done a lot of work thinking about the meaning and connection to the elements.  So I would have liked to see and understand her full vision.

Kate Hannington was the arranger/conductor.  But she only came on to conduct for a sliver of a moment in one of the songs.  At first, I was confused at who she was and why she wasn't conducting the entire time.  She sang on the last song, which was included in the program.  I liked that there was audience participation, as we were invited to sing along on our appropriate part with the last song.  Our notes were even played for us by Kate which made us all feel like part of the act.

Tanya reminds me of my friend, Doran Danoff.  Doran is also a musician; he mainly records out in LA though sometimes plays in his old 'hood Brooklyn.  They have the same energy.  She plays different instruments and I'm sure she could play different styles of music, just like Doran.  Tanya's music is atmospheric and you have to see it live.  It sounds different live than it does on a recording.  I actually hope that my friend Doran can get together with Tanya so that they can do a show together.  I think they'd produce something completely out of this world.  Tanya has so much passion and energy for her music.  I love that it makes you connected to the universe.  A cemetery was a very appropriate venue as anywhere else would not have been fitting.  Tanya also reminds me of a mixture of Joan Baez and Ani DiFranco.  She has that 'it' factor.  The magnetic quality that make for legendary performers.

My only disappointment was the concert ending.  I wanted more.  The music carried me away to a faraway place.  It was like I was sleeping, dreaming, but I was completely awake.  For music to have this effect is quite extraordinary.  I have seldom had out of body experiences when listening to music.  I have also not felt the same energy and connection that I felt on this particular occasion.  Sometimes what I'm listening to is solely music, my favorite band, but this was different.  This was beyond music.  It was art.  It was beauty.  It was the human soul expressed in song, poetic and sublime!
Vulpes on Soundcloud

                                            Live at 860 Sessions: 'Money'

                               'Captain's Remourse' from Reflets Dans L'eau

                               Tanya Lam live- 'Obsession' (from 2008)

I encourage everyone to check out Tanya Lam of Vulpes and Little Fox.  A truly different yet mesmerizing musical experience that you will not soon forget!

PS: Apparently my three year old son deleted ALL of my video and pictures from the event.  So instead, I will have to try and find other videos on Youtube and the worldwide web of both Vulpes and Little Fox.

Musically yours,