Tom Rush-What I Know

Tom Rush What I Know:

A healthy balance between up-tempo fun folk songs, and mournful country ballads.  Theres an abundance of covers here, but Rush writes songs as well as he interprets them. His guitar playing is reserved but tasteful as is his clear voice and his simple guitar playing. A pleasant record without any dud tracks, but theres nothing here that will blow your mind.

Rating: 11/15 creepy album covers

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Grachan Moncur III-Some Other Stuff

Grachan Moncur III Some Other Stuff:

Experimental jazz, as haunting as it is daring. Wayne Shorter performs some amazing solos, as does Moncur. Overall an interesting listen, that is somewhat difficult to get into, but a rewarding listen once you get used to it.

Rating: 12/15 Avant trombones

The Mighty Orq-To the Bone

The Mighty Orq To the Bone:

To my great disappointment  this album isn’t power metal, instead its watered down versions of every style of rock popular in the early nineties. The riffs never have more than two and a half chords, and the singer perfectly fits the role of the deep voiced sleazy singer. Not good enough to compete with Theory of a Dead Man for radio play.

Rating: 4/15 Tears of Eddie Vedder

Mystery Girls-Incontinopia

Mystery Girls Incontinopia:

Garage-rock with a strong blues influence. The singer likes to holler about sex and drugs. Its obvious these guys love what they’re doing, I’m sure live all of these songs hold up. On the album, the non-stop Blues barrage gets a bit tedious, but there aren’t too many weak tracks.

Rating:11/15 Drunkin’ yellins

Grant Green-Street of Dreams

Grant Green Street of Dreams:

A mellow session from four jazz greats. A little snooze inducing at times, best for background music or to have on while relaxing.

Rating: 12/15 smooth trade offs

Interview Murry Hammond

Murry Hammond is a member of the Old 97’s and has a solo career recording gospel tinged country songs. He’s a nice guy and a hell of a songwriter. Check him out.

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Where do you come from?

I grew up in a town of about a 1000 people west of Fort Worth. The town is called Boyd. I left right after high school.

When did you start writing music?

I was a late starter – didn’t know how to play an instrument until summer of 1984, when I was 20, but I got started right away. It took me a couple of years before I’d write anything I was proud of.

How do you write lyrics?

I like the “hard truth” of life, and I write best when I’ve said that in some plain way that sort of stings a bit. I’m not really happy with what I’ve written until I feel I’ve accomplished this. I really struggle with words – it takes me a long time to get it right in my mind – but knowing this about myself, I never put a time limit or a deadline on anything. Everything is in a slow cooker. I do know when song is finished, though.

How important is your faith to you, and how did you come about it?

My faith is very important to me – it drives my whole life. I’m a better person for it, a nicer person, I think. In less pain than in the old days. It’s been just a really good tool for cutting everybody some slack in a real fundamental way. To see people how God might see them, and see my place along side them. That’s the gist of it. No preachy stuff, I don’t like preaching or being preached to. I know it in my gut – what I call the Holy Spirit.

How I came about it… I just felt called to it – it’s always made a certain amount of sense to me, but I had to get rid of all the images and ideas of those televangelist types which always turned me off to it. I had to tear it all down in my mind, and rebuild it, throw away the hypocrisy and lies and keep what was good. Then it started making sense to me. You have to be vigilant about your own faith – there’s a lot of voices out there, and they aren’t all operating out of love. There’s a lot of hatred and intolerance and fear and self-interest in all religions. You just have to throw away what’s bad and keep what’s good.

Do you belong to any particular church or sect?

I’ve belonged to a denomination called “Disciples of Christ” for years now. The denomination doesn’t have a credo or an ideology beyond just trying to obey Jesus’ command to be good to each other, help people in the community and beyond, and try to fix ourselves in the process. It’s pretty inclusive – so much so, I imagine most right-thinking Christians probably think we’re going to hell. :p

Do you see yourself as part of a scene or artistic movement?

Not that I’m aware of. I know of some like-minded artists, but I imagine we’re just more folk music, you know?

Could you see yourself making a living doing something other than music?

Oh yes – I’ve always wanted to be a librarian, to work in special collections and preservation. I didn’t finish school for this, so I’ve done this very thing as a hobby for years. I have a website call Texas Transportation Archive that collects together material on Texas and Louisiana railroad and sawmill history. The link is www.ttarchive.com.

If given the option what one thing would you change about America?

We need to be passionately curious about the rest of the world, and see our connectiveness with everyone out there and between ourselves as Americans. We have to meet in the middle in order to transform this cultural civil war we’ve been struggling with for so many decades now. Our culture wars have created two opposing idealogies that see their “war” as a war of conquest, and no one wants to give an inch lest they lose the whole game and perish. So nothing gets done for our planet and our peoples, as Americans we isolate ourselves in the world, and we go forward divided and afraid. I wish every child in this world got to travel some, I think it would really have a good effect on how we all treat each other. I’m hopeful, though – seems like we’re talking about how to build bridges and finding common ground again.

Would you ever sign to a major label?

No, not anymore. I think it would muck things up, and the Old 97’s feel the same way. I think either doing it all yourself, or finding that happy medium between DIY and getting help from a company is up my alley. You have to make your record deal – even if it is you doing everything – work with your life. A major deal doesn’t do you any good if it take you away from your family and leads you into a life where the quality of life actually goes down. On the other side – if you are in a position to travel and really take a bite out of your music career, a label situation might really enhance just how much “reach” you have. The point is not to be famous, but being happy and productive, to wake up each day being unable to contain your own enthusiasm. For me, it’s being on an indie label with the 97’s, and doing my solo stuff entirely DIY. I’m happiest here.

What is your life like outside of being a musician?

I’m married and a father of a little boy. I’m really happy being around the house. My music life is really amped up when it happens, so I go completely the opposite way when I’m not playing.

Have you encountered any young bands, that you think deserve more attention?

I’ve been in a wordless music phase, so my playist right now is full of ambient and vocal groups – Stars of the Lid, Brian Eno, Arvo Part, Henryk Górecki, throat singing from David Hykes and Jim Cole – that’s really trippy stuff right there. I’ll soon go the other way with 60’s garage or old punk rock, I imagine. I’m an old ex-80’s hardcore punk rock guy, and I’ve recently befriended a couple of young hardcore punk kids on MySpace that promise to turn me onto stuff they swear I’ll love… I’ll keep you posted!

If you could play a show with any musician of your choice, who would it be?

If I were to fantasize about bills I’d be happy on… Innocence Mission, Doc Watson… there are so many are dead and gone – Johnny Cash, June Carter, etc.

Interview with Pauline Oliveros

Pauline Oliveros has been composing music since most of you were in diapers. She is a large proponent of drone based music and has recently released a book on the subject. Do yourself a favor and experience some of her music.

What initially drew you to drone based music?

The sound of tones.

Why do you think the kind of music you make is important?

It is important to me however that is not necessarily important to others and the importance of my music is for others to decide.

How did you come to play accordion?

My mother brought an accordion home when I was 9 years old and I got fascinated.

What kind of experience do you think listeners should have when listening to your music?

Experience is personal and private so there is no “should” coming from me. I would like for their experience to be expansive but there is no guarantee.

Who do you feel most lucky to have worked with?

David Tudor

Could you see yourself doing something other than being a composer?

Sure, I’d be a scientist

How much over your music involves improvisation?

Almost all of it

How important do you think improvisation is to music as a whole?

Most of the world’s music is improvised.

What young composers and musicians deserve more attention?

All of them that want to create music.

What do you listen to for enjoyment?

Different music at different times. I like all music.

What is the greatest experience you’ve had performing music?

Usually the most recent.

If you could how would you change the way music is taught through the public school system?

I would introduce instrument making and improvisation and sound art.

What do you do for fun outside of music?

Visit with friends