Sunday, May 31, 2009

Too Noir...Too Strong

"Jostle hassle elbow bustle, in a swirling rainbow tussle..."

What a great goddamn gig Dean Bowman and I had as Chase the Devil Friday night at BAMcafe out in Brooklyn, place was packed too, blessings to all the old friends and fans who showed including Moishe Rosenfeld of Goldenland Concerts, Erik Anjou and his lovely friend from the Dallas JCC (went out for crepes with Moishe and co. afterwards on Ludlow Street at midnight, a joint operated by a very hip Israeli family, best crepes I've had since playing in Paris a couple years ago near Les Halles mmmmmmmm)...also, Michael Owen and his wife (Michael is a great film and video maker who did some of the best of the Talking Heads videos, among others), also Day-V my indefatigable roadie who was having a night off (I don't use all that many fx for this project, don't need 'em) and got there to dig it on his own steam, and myriad other folks including shock! horror! a fan who told me after the gig that he was an actual choirboy in a congregation presided over by my dear departed friend Bishop Paul Moore (peace activist, gay rights activist, trustee of Yale University, Paul and I went and checked out the William Blake exhibition together at the Met Museum about a year before he died, I shocked him a bit then by insisting he also peruse the Balthus exhibition which was running at the Met concurrent with the Blake, good old Klossowski never fails to raise a pulse of delight--or disgust--and in the words of Little Richard apropos Jimi Hendrix, "Isn't that what you really want? All...or none??"--in whomsoever beholder trains an eye upon his paintings)...

Newly svelte Gary and Dean Bowman Chase the Devil at BAM Cafe, Brooklyn, 5/29/09

Gary chases the devil at BAM Cafe, Brooklyn, 5/29/09

Gary and Dean Bowman Chase the Devil at BAM Cafe, Brooklyn, 5/29/09

photos by Earl Douglas | click to enlarge

Drink the long draft down for the original Hip Priest...Paul use to come and see me play with Gods and Monsters at the old Knitting Factory on Houston Street back in the day, and was a great source of spiritual guidance, comfort and jouissance, he good-shepherded me through a very dark period indeed for me in the mid-90's with some sage advice...when he died, I was invited by his family to sit in the VIP section of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine alongside Kurt Vonnegut and other luminaries/close family/Friends of Paul for a very High Anglican funeral, I only lasted about 4 hours there (the pews were really unforgiving, I did a lot better a couple years ago at a 6 hour Monsoon Wedding in Goa--there one got to sit on cushions and drink Chai tea and wander in and out at will throughout, something I didn't think I could pull off at Paul's do)...nearly choked on the incense also...stayed there long enough though to actually hear a wonderful choral version of one of the great John Fahey showpiece hymn arrangements, "In Christ There is No East or West" (good title)...turns out it's an actual hymn with lyrics from the African-American Church tradition--a hymn I naturally laid on Dean Bowman when we assembled our repertoire for our Chase the Devil thingy...btw, you can hear a new Chase the Devil studio track, "Nobody's House" , which we recorded with Steve Addabbo (Shawn Colvin, Suzanne Vega) at the controls recently, up now on my myspace jukebox--an original song of ours which brought the house down Friday night...

Also please note, as you can see from the pix web-mistress Tanya has sprinkled throughout here I am at fighting weight once again, rendered a trim lean mean machine through diet and exercise, kids, diet and exercise (you can indeed try this at home)...in the yin and yang and clang of the yankee reaper we move from the divine afflatus (my new album with Najma Akhtar, "Rishte", about to drop on Harmonia Mundi/World Village June 15th in Europe--the advance reviews are killer, plus we have a spiffy new MySpace site where you can be-Friend us--go ahead, make our day!--and also preview tracks from the album--I think this is one of the best albums I have ever been involved with--no lie) to epicurean nostalgie de la boue (a recent solo appearance at celebrated music writer Barney Hoskyns' publication party for his new Tom Waits biography "Lowside of the Road--A Life of Tom Waits", where I performed 4 Waits favorites in the company of CultureCatch.com's Dusty Wright, lovely Vandana Jain, and Ed Bennett, keeper of The Center couple blocks from my house in the West Village, where they held this louche salon--packed to the rafters with rockcrits such as Michael Azzerrad, Billy Altman, Andy Schwartz, plus various lovers, muggers and thieves...check it out here)...

Vandana Jain, Dusty Wright and Gary perform at the Book Salon for music writer Barney Hoskyns' new Tom Waits biography "Low Side of the Road", The Center, NYC, 5/11/09

click to enlarge

Further on down the road in the folderol dept. would have to be an impromptu momente musicale performed for a very amused (offstage) Caroline with my friend Soo Catwoman's daughter Dion October (leader of the band Good Weather Girl) in London recently, check out our rendition of John Lennon's "Cold Turkey"--aye that's a lovely tune--which I had performed solo in NYC shortly before departing for jolly old Blighty at an event in honor of the 40th anniversary of the John and Yoko Montreal Bed-in (remember a day) held at the deluxe, newly refurbished, sin-encrusted Gershwin Hotel ("our love is here to stay"--not!)--way cool joint, watering hole to a myriad discerning budget-minded Europeans, I sang it quick to kick off the proceedings (Neke Carson asked me "Hey, will you do a John Lennon song at my John and Yoko tribute?" Well, this is my favorite John Lennon song, although one not necessarily in the spirit of the Bed-in)...then split with old pal Etienne Mirlesse and his lovely daughter to favorite Portuguese restaurant Alfama in the West Village, which sad to say is going the way of all the best places it seems in the West Village (Biography Bookshop is another one) due to greedy landlord rapaciousness...thank goodness both Alfama and the BB are relocating elsewhere in Manhattan...meanwhile--what's the flip side to "Cold Turkey" in rainy olde London town? Why, "Here Comes the Sun", naturally!!...a good song to have running in the background while perusing this recent feature interview about my life's work from the Manchester Jewish Telegraph...

Dion October, Soo Catwoman, and Gary, Swiss Cottage Hotel London 5/09 | photo by Caroline Sinclair

Click to enlarge

Speaking of UK collaborators, my old friend DJ Cosmo a/k/a Colleen Murphy has cooked up a soupcon of delight in the form of the 4th single from our avant-dance project Wild Rumpus...this one's called "Kazan" (Japanese for "volcano")--the follow-up to "Rock the Joint" (the video for which is now over 65,000 hits on all websites)--and it's due out on the hip Japanese label Mule Mudiq at the end of June...preview it now on the jukebox....

Coming up--the fabulous Gods and Monsters 20th Anniversary gala on Thursday June 11th to be held at the sumptuous Gramercy Theater, a great venue on 23rd Street in Manhattan reminiscent of the old Fillmore East at its best...alongside my Gods and Monsters guys Ernie Brooks, Billy Ficca, Jason Candler and Joe Hendel (New York's finest) will be special guests the legendary Alan Vega (Suicide), Lenny Kaye (Patti Smith), Peter Stampfel (Holy Modal Rounders)--and--omigod--rangy blues twanger Jon Spencer (Blues Explosion), who will join me in a sick pas de deux on the Johnny Burnette/Yardbirds classic "The Train Kept a' Rollin'" (they got it right there) (looked so good Jack couldn't let her go)...Mike Edison will add appropriate frissons on his theremin during "One Man's Meat".. Dean Bowman, one of the best singers on the planet, will put his pipes in the service of the anniversary with a couple numbers from Chase the Devil... and the whole evening will be emceed by the erudite Mr. Dusty Wright...it's only 20 bucks too, such a deal!!...gonna kick-off the evening solo, then move into duos with some of these guys, and then--my excellent band will take the stage...it was 20 years ago today (or thereabouts--mid-July 1989 to be precise) that Gods and Monsters first raised its barbaric yawp 'oer the rooftops of the world (well, under the arch in Prospect Park) when we blew out the PA during the second number at the Welcome Back to Brooklyn Festival--Yardbirds producer Giorgio Gomelsky was there to video the proceedings in all their glory, and he promised to give me a quicktime archival clip to put up just in time for this anniversary show on the garylucas YouTube channel--so very very soon you then witness me, Tony Thunder Smith, Paul Now and Jared Nickerson kick it live in the first incarnation of the Gods and Monsters Beast--

What a long strange trip it's been indeed :-)

Fans of Gods and Monsters--Vaclav Havel and David Byrne join Gary, Jerry Harrison and Ernie Brooks backstage at the Knitting Factory after a Gods and Monsters show 11/07

photo by John Bentham | click to enlarge

Thanks to all for sharing the ride with me...

the best is yet to come...

xxLove

Gary

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Sunday, May 03, 2009

The Classical

Had quite an entertaining live appearance on Bob Fass' late night "Radio Unnameable" program on Thursday April 23rd at midnight...Fass is a NYC treasure, check out this great profile, "Voice of the Cabal" from The New Yorker...and also this trailer for a documentary about Radio Unnameable...

I first started listening to Bob's show in a kind of lost year for me back in 1975...I had recently graduated from college, and vague plans to open a cinema showing nothing but horror and science fiction films with my partner Bill Moseley, (we had done this horror movie thingy as a weekly event at Yale under the aegis Things That Go Bump in the Night) had remained vague; in any case, I found myself cooling out over the summer in Nantucket and managed to snag a gig playing solo guitar during Happy Hour at the estimable Brotherhood of Thieves restaurant/hotel the day I arrived there--and met the first true love of my life at the bookstore across the street (I love hanging out in bookstores), a much older woman (much--she was 56, I was 22--an incredibly wise woman, super-creative, magical...and very very sexy) and, and well, uh, eventually moved in with her on the upper west side here in NYC that fall. Where I listened to a lot of WBAI, her favorite station (Pacifica Radio's flagship freeform station)...and that is where I caught Bob Fass in action for the first time, spinning Dylan's brand new "Blood on the Tracks" album weeks before its official release...I dug this guy's on-air style and laid-back hipster approach a lot, having been the music director at Yale's WYBC FM myself for a year or so and holding forth over the aether with my own show "The Sounds from England (and other delicacies)" (s'funny, but the two other non-English delicacies I regularly spun on my program were Tim Buckley and Captain Beefheart--and you know the story, I eventually wound up playing with Beefheart, and with Tim Buckley's son Jeff)...

Anywho over the years I managed to hear some of Bob Fass' celebrated air-checks, perhaps the most famous is the time he had Dylan and Dylan's then running-buddy my pal Bobby Neuwirth up at WBAI during a hiatus in NYC from recording "Blonde on Blonde" in Nashville, the date was January 26th 1966...Dylan gets on the mic and starts taking listener's calls and, well, this is a classical exercise in "oh snap!" adrenaline-rapping in which pretty much every well-meaning and innocent fan is sucked into the maw of Dylan's then razor-lined defense mechanism, into which they are all and sundry rendered unto mince-meat or in some gentler moments silly putty, you can check out 12 YouTube audio clips of the entire show beginning here..."Why are some of your songs so long?" "I get paid by the word..."

So years later Bob Fass and I have become Fass friends and he's had me on his program a bunch of times, this occasion I was summoned to celebrate the release of Dylan's new album "Together Through Life", which I like a lot--"hypnotist collector" Mitch Blank provided an advance copy of the record, and we sat there and listened and commented and then I played a bunch solo acoustic, debuting some new songs, the legendary Paul Krassner called in, I used to love his magazine The Realist all the time in the late 60's, he was in excellent form on Bob's show and I am glad to hear he is still going strong. I asked him to elucidate on the writing of perhaps his greatest comedic achievement, "The Parts Left Out of the Manchester Book" and he had me and Bob's unpaid assistant (and hopefully the listening audience) spellbound...Paul has a regular blog on the Huffington Post, check it out here, certainly Paul Krassner is one of the last of the gonzo truth-tellers in the sacred American tradition of visionaries on the order of Lenny Bruce and Hunter Thompson...it was a good night and the program is up for the moment at the WBAI archives, check it out here (scroll down to the April 24th Radio Unnameable entry at 12:00am to download it)...

Wednesday April 29th the Blaueu String Quartet from Amsterdam held forth at the Teatro in the Italian Academy up at Columbia University and they were simply sensational, I felt really bad that more folks hadn't been alerted to this event as it truly was some of the finest interpretive playing I've ever heard...they all played magnificently together in a program that touched on Schubert's Quartersatz in C Minor, a single movement piece that has to rank with "Death and the Maiden" as the greatest of his quartets...by far the highlight of the program was the final piece, Janacek's 1923 String Quartet No. 1, "The Kreutzer Sonata", inspired by Tolstoy's short story, one of the most modern of musical compositions which really provides a programmatic narrative rush in the way the music enfolds as a macabre momento mori, as a chilling tale of jealous passions so stirred by the apprehension of classical music itself as to render the protagonist capable of explosive violence...Nienke Van Rijn on violin, Michaekl Gieler on viola, and Johan Van Iersel on cello were all superb, but for me the real joy of the evening was observing the incredible Emi Ohi Resnick in action. Emi is of Japanese-Jewish descent and is simply one of the finest violinists I've ever heard, ever--she has a riveting presence on stage and a nuance of touch and expressive fluidity on her instrument that just knocked me out...she really shone also in a rendition of Hungarian composer Kodaly's Duo for Violin and Cello with her husband Johan Van Iersel...and I am soooo happy to be working with her on the collaborative score I am composing and performing live along with Reza Namavar and Wilmar Devisser and the Cameleon Ensemble at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam June 23rd and 24th at the Staadschouburg, accompanying a screening of Abel Gance's silent anti-war masterpiece "J'Accuse", newly restored by the Netherlands Film Museum--you can see the flyer for the show here...stay tuned...

Last night Nina Winthrop and Dancers presented an incandescent program of modern dance pieces at the St. Mark's Church Danspace entitled "Glee", and Caroline and i were rapt through an hour plus voyage into the unconscious mind made manifest, the choreography was superb and perfectly fit the scores prepared by minimalist composer Jon Gibson, a long time member of Phillip Glass' ensemble...

woops, Sunday morning, time for waffles at Le Petite Abeille (yeah!!) ...


xxLove


Gary

ps Also wanted to alert you guys to a brand new web-page devoted to my solo concerts--

Webmaster Tanya has outdone herself here, including embedded clips from my solo appearance at the Holland Festival a couple years ago at the famed Amsterdam Concertegebouw...

plus there are a slew of links to YouTube clips of me performing solo in London, Bilbao, and St. Petersburg Russia...

also, Dean Bowman and I have just completed our debut album as Chase the Devil at Shelter Island Studios here in Manhattan, with Steve Addabbo at the controls...Steve got a wonderful sound up to what was essentially a live recording of our spiritual roots duo...check out my myspace site to preview a track from it--our version of William Blake's eternal "Jerusalem" (music by Sir Hubert Parry).

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