In Review: Dar Williams
Mortal City 20th Anniversary Tour
In Review: Peter Mulvey
Peter Mulvey is easily the most earnest and honest singer-songwriter on the circuit I’ve seen in years.
He is a man just as natural and comfortable in an intimate setting as he is in front of a large radio audience being heard by thousands. Mulvey is a veteran, itinerant performer with over two decades of touring, recording, song-writing and co-writing songs under his belt.
Mulvey handcrafts songs with precision, delicacy and a flair for narrative depth. Rather than call him a folk singer, he looks at himself as a writer and a keen participant-observer of life. He has an ease with storytelling that he wears like an old, perfectly fitting corduroy shirt.
In fact, it is a sign of a great and wondrous entertainer when the stories and banter between songs is as engaging as the outstanding performance of the musical material itself.
That’s how it was with Mulvey's performance at the Cooperage in Albuquerque, Nov. 4, promoted by AMP Concerts. He excelled as a singer-songwriter with many gears, including overdrive. The audience was in rapt attention throughout the evening. Through two substantial sets Mulvey demonstrated that he is a tour-de-force as a one man song machine in human form.
Drawing songs from across the range of his repertoire, he expanded the room into the realms of personal and world history, art and literature, as well as current affairs.
Within a couple of songs, people in the audience were head-bobbing and toe-tapping away to the rhythms and vocals. Mulvey is a masterful guitar player which is why his set took off like a human-powered rocket. He continued to build the mood with a series of topical, humorous and political songs. Since it was within a couple days of the World Series, he told the story of the 108 stitches on a baseball, 108 beads on a monk’s necklace and 108 years of the Chicago Cubs' curse being broken that week.
In an interview with Weekly Alibi, Mulvey spoke about his early influences and formative years as a musician. As a child, growing up Catholic, he was exposed to Greek myths and stories in church. He added that, in his opinion, if people are lucky they come to see the stories in their Catholic upbringing, retrospectively, as myths.
Musically, he began playing guitar at seven years old and was exposed to rock and roll in high school. Early artistic influences included guitar specialists Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges. As a very young man, he began performing on the streets and in the subways of Ireland and Boston. These experiences in his youth were the most indelible and formative of his early musical career.
What cemented his path was that he fell in early with people who are the singer-songwriters that do this for a living. Mulvey wanted to become someone that made "live music for live people." “When I encountered these people," he continued, "I wanted to play music the way they play music.”
Between the ages of 20-22, he was exposed to the seminal Emmylou Harris record, Wrecking Ball, the wonderfully moody and atmospheric albums by Ry Cooder, the highly esteemed Tom Waits, and one of the giants of the folk festival and singer-songwriting scene, Greg Brown. It was at this time that Mulvey also had close encounters with the jazz genre.
“It’s the myth and dream realms, that is what we’re after. I feel like of all the musicians, it’s what the jazz players can say that’s more profound than any lyricists.”
Mulvey is a busy and prolific artist. He stated, “I can think easily of next four records I’d like to make ... with a violinist, with a string quartet, another with a group of female singers and a party record of old folk tunes.”
“I actually need to goof off and give those projects room to grow. Time to play, that’s what art is, play. American puritan ethic, we narcotized ourselves with work, avoiding the real business of being a human being ... caring about the people around you, sitting with the uncertainties of life. That’s what’s important.”
It's melodically clear: From Peter Mulvey we not only get entertained, we get educated.
Look for Peter Mulvey to return to our area on March 11, 2017, when he’ll be performing at the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales, N.M. Tickets for that springtime show are now available by clicking on this handy link.
In Review: Globalquerque!
A Moment from day two at Globalquerque 2016,final set:
Those of us on the farthest right side edge of the audience in the Albuquerque Journal Theater last night witnessed a notable and magical "behind the scenes" glimpse of the international flavor and inter-generational composition of the ¡Globalquerque! performers community.
During the majority of the set of the remarkable Inner Mongolian group Anda Union, a five year old Mongolian girl, costumed in a regal, royal blue outfit, danced backstage in the wings, gently performing her careful footwork, body swaying and arms in motions while the adult members of the band masterfully entranced the room. For nearly an hour, we got to see this poised child practicing her craft, cradled by her extended artistic clan, while we took in the hypnotic and classically arranged musical pieces of Anda Union.
Just being in the presence of their instruments was transportative. Hand crafted modern versions of traditional Mongolian instruments that resembled cellos, stand up basses, flutes and violins were just a portion of the exotic instruments on display. Additionally, most of the players wore traditional Mongol plains costumes.
Their music ranged from full orchestral pieces to voice and throat-singing solos, to flute and throat-singing numbers. The packed auditorium was filled with an enthusiastic audiences treated to best that ¡Globalquerque! has to offer–a world assembly in a beautiful setting in the South Valley of Albuquerque.
Globalquerque is a community in the disguise of an international music festival. One enters and wanders the grounds, running into old friends and warmly welcomed by vendors in the eclectic bazaar and food cart area. Such quality purveyors as Jambo Café, the East African restaurant from Santa Fe, to the Vivac Winery, and the Santa Fe Brewing Company are but a few of the booths in The Global Village.
We got to sample a handful of the approximately 17 acts featured in this year’s fest. During dinner on Saturday evening, the Austrian brass band ensemble Federspiel was in mid-set on the main Plaza Mayor.
Federspiel is on a mission to redefine and modernize the Austrian folk tradition for current audiences. Their spirited set showcased their journey from earlier forms of Austrian folk styles into contemporary interpretations of a long standing approach to big band music. They also featured original compositions in their set packed with panache. Bravo!
Then we entered the Theater for an astounding experience, the music of Baladino from Israel. As we learned during their set, Baladino refers to the land and culture of the Sephardic Jews who populated Spain up until the 15th century, then migrated throughout Europe and the New World.
Their set was mesmerizing from the first notes. This 4 person band consists of a percussionist, a reed player, a mandolin-like instrument player and a vocalist. Early in their set, as the singer explained, they did a ballad about a bride being summoned by a wedding party to reveal herself to her groom. This atmospheric number showcased each performer to great effect, each of whom are ambassadors for Middle Eastern artistry.
this tune kicked the performance into a high gear they were to maintain for the remainder of their time onstage. At one point, the reed player was introduced as about to perform on a PVC-pipe-crafted instrument. He surprised and delighted the crowd as he hopped up and down, dancing while he played. The pulsing, and rhythmic prowess of Baladino delivered a wallop of world music while engendering admiration and enjoyment throughout the theater. Screams and yelps greeted the finale of their set.
It was also a treat to see all the members of Baladino hanging out on the grounds, visiting with people and attending other performances throughout the evening after they were done playing. Such is the spirit of ¡Globalquerque!
As luck would have it, we were able to stay in the Theater, in our front row of the main section for the next act. My wife and I were so happy to discover that the original, quirky and topical Jill Sobule was booked for !Globalquerque! as the sole representative of the American singer-songwriter genre.
We both knew her from earlier periods of her long, 11 album career. Sobule is a kick and a character from the moment she is at the mic.
She builds her sets in a somewhat democratic fashion by either asking the audience if she should play a certain type or song on her mind, or by giving a multiple-choice outcry of songs or song-styles, to the crowd and listening for the response. Of course in true contemporary folk music style, she tells little stories to introduce all her numbers.
Jill Sobule presents as both a self-aware and social-activist modern American, navigating troubles and life-stages via her uncanny, of the moment songwriting abilities.
Early in her set she played "A Good Life" and described it as a "Love song for the Apocalypse." As a nod to her audience and a request, she did her New Mexico song, a beautiful ballad of a road trip and a relationship story all rolled into one.
After telling us about losing her beloved mother this year, she played the first song she wrote for her. "Death in Venice Beach" is about hoping her mom would come to her in her dreams. It is a poignant, lovely and tribute-worthy song which portrayed her bond with her mother and her journey forward, going on without her.
True to her style of crafting numbers from life experience she played "San Francisco." a song about a "massage gone bad." She told the crowd a story of going to get a massage with a friend and feeling a bit of an off vibe in the establishment.
Turns out the masseuse was a dominatrix in another alt-universe of her life. And so Jill was treated to "too much information" about the fetish world. And that story finds its way into the song. As was said at the outset, this performer is a highly original artist and an outsized entertainer. Bring her on for more!
Back out in the Plaza Mayor afterwards was the Brazilian singer Dona Onette. She has quite of life story. She was discovered as a performer later in life after her career as a history professor and Secretary of Culture for a Brazilian state.
This soulful woman holds her audience in a hypnotic state as she traverses from traditional, regional tunes into carimba at the root of the famous lambada style. Dona Onette has the commanding presence of–as my old teachers used to say–a big self. She is worth seeking out musically and I highly suggest listeners look for her recorded work.
¡Globalquerque! delivers a diverse and extremely well curated array of music and culture. During the day Saturday, was a free fest within a festival. there were participative workshops, demonstrations and performances in the main plaza of the National Hispanic Cultural Center.
Between those events and the two nights of major programming, its no wonder ¡Globalquerque! is now a draw not only for Albuquerque visitors, but for a great many international music festival fans who travel from other cities and states to attend.
Not surprisingly, it is already on our Calendar for next year. So, check the dates for next year, then, don your ethnic garb, and we’ll see you next time in the global village.
Friday, Jun 3: Albuquerque Folk Festival
A Night Afloat
A Hawk and a Hacksaw at the Tannex
It is a rare occasion to catch A Hawk and a Hacksaw in their hometown. The duo, composed of accordionist Jeremy Barnes and violinist Heather Trost, each of which take an occasional turn on vocals, stay on the move.
Those of us who were lucky enough to make it into the totally packed Tannex in Barelas on Saturday night were treated to music ripe for day dreaming.
In a word, A Hawk and a Hacksaw is magic. Culling folk songs from across many a diaspora as well as writing their own original pieces, the two created a world entirely separate from 4th Street, from Albuquerque, from this continent.
By the light of white Christmas lights strewn across a heavy rug over the cement floor, the two sang in Greek, spoke little, and played for more than an hour with a sustained intensity that is hard to fathom.
This winter, Barnes and Trost are headed to Europe to play alongside full orchestras and busy street corners while further cultivating their inspiring vision of modern folk.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Coen brothers get musical in melancholic character study
Many Shades of Gray
Shrubsall deconstructs the banjo’s complex cultural symbolism
My obsessive-compulsive aural tendencies have undoubtedly been noted by careful—and dare I say, patient—readers who’ve been inundated with Halloween, Xmas, Valentine’s Day and themed playlists of all demoninations during my brief tenure. And now ... cover songs. Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’ve been around forever and appear to be here to stay. Nihil novi sub sole, eh? Refresh your cover memory with this week’s music feature, The Art of the Cover Song. Below, listen to a playlist of covers created by New Mexicans like Veery (Jessica Billey), Mama Coma (Marisa Demarco), The Rondelles, Steve Hammond, Cobra//group, Treadmill, Mistletoe, The Handsome Family, The Rivet Gang, Ant Farmers, Knife City, The Morticians, Sad Baby Wolf and Strawberry Zots.
The Art of the Cover Song
Plumbing the inner reworkings of redux
Searching for Sugar Man
Soulful documentary proves rock and roll dreams come true
Roots of Bluegrass
This week former Alibi editor-in-chief Steven Robert Allen wrote about The Roots of Bluegrass Show, happening tonight at the South Broadway Cultural Center. Read about the down-home festivities here: Talkin’ Semantic Rhetorical Terminological Blues.
Talkin’ Semantic Rhetorical Terminological Blues
The roots of bluegrass
If You Want to Be Free
The voices of a generation speak in Singing Out
Imagine you found yourself transcribing thousands of pages of interviews with some of the key figures of an important American movement. Would you just ship them off to the Library of Congress to be archived and maybe, someday, found by someone else? Or, would you compile and edit them into an easy-to-read compendium of voices that shaped an era?
A Hawk & A Hacksaw is about to embark on a grand tour of Europe, beginning in Austria and making more than a score of stops in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany (see ahawkandahacksaw.blogspot.com to learn more about the band’s travels). But before the noted folk act departs fair Albuquerque, Heather Trost and Jeremy Barnes will play an all-ages show at The Kosmos (1715 Fifth Street NW) on Friday, July 9, at 8 p.m. Below, find out what wonderful foreign things show up in Trost and Barnes’ shuffled songs—commented upon collectively.