Sunday, August 23, 2009

Right-On Jecheon!

What a fantastic summer it's been so far, I've been really blessed playing one amazing gig after another--

beginning with the Holland Festival in Amsterdam where I performed with the restored "J'Accuse", the Malaga Film Festival in Spain and the Sao Paulo Fantasy Film Festival Brazil with "The Golem", recording sessions in Bogota Colombia with legendary Stones producer Andrew Loog Oldham and solo gigs there with Colombian pop star Juan Galeano--

and now, having returned from lovely Jecheon South Korea and the 5th Jecheon International Music and Film Festival (and the theme of this festival, how music and film can relate, was right up my alley), what can I say, my cup runneth over...

Gary right before performing "The Golem" at the 5th Jecheon International Music and Film Festival 8/14/09

Gary outside the Dujku Buddhist temple, Jecheon South Korea 8/16/09 | photo by Christie Jun

Gary outside the Dukju Buddhist shrine, Jecheon South Korea 8/16/09

Gary introduces "The Golem" on the mainstage at the Jecheon Festival, South Korea 8/14/09

Backstage before playing "The Golem", l to r: programmer Jin Soo Jun, my translator for the festival Christie Eunhwa Jun, GL, and festival coordinator May Lee

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it was my first time ever playing in South Korea, I'd passed through the airport a couple times on the way to Japan and Taiwan...but never have had the pleasure before to perform there before...and now that I am back from a week spent in that fair country all I can say is--WOW!!

What a fabulous place, such wonderfully friendly and gracious people I encountered throughout the week, the festival was one of the best organized and tightest run operations I've observed and participated in...

And they really took care of me and the other invited guests, from the opening ceremonies where we were all introduced onstage in the Grand Ballroom of the Cheongpung Lake Hotel (an elegant 4 star with breathtaking views of the lake abutting it to die for out my window) and throughout the rest of the week...

the invited foreign luminaries there included brilliant Madrid filmmaker Juan Laguna, whose documentary "Princess of Africa", about a white Spanish dancer who marries into a Senegalese drum master's family to become his third wife, was one of the most compelling new docs I've seen in ages, Juan has such a marvelous visual flair, and the music was superb throughout)...also legendary vivacious Annette Kleinbard, the original singer for The Teddy Bears ("To Know Him is to Love Him") and also a hit songwriter (The Rip Chords "Hey Little Cobra", one of the first singles I ever bought--as well as the theme from "Rocky")...also debonair UK expat Sebastian Doggart, my Greenwich Village neighbor and director of "Courting Condi", for which Annette had written a song, and for whose latest documentary "American Faust" I am currently composing music for...also Mumbai's super talented Manish Achyra, who was there with the droll Bollywood send-up "Loins of Punjab"... also hot Madrid film actor Fernando Tielve, who looks like a young Syd Barrett, and who stars in the great, quirky new dramatic film "Unmade Beds" by Argentinean director Alexis Dos Santos which was one of he best films I caught last week...also lovely Australian director Emma Franz, who was at the festival with her cool documentary about the interaction between a Korean drum master and an Australian jazz drummer in "Intangible Asset No. 82"...really sweet and sensitive artists all of was a pure pleasure to hang with them in turn throughout the week, I felt so privileged to view such splendid creative efforts...

Gary performs a solo concert on Cheongpung Lake stage, Jecheon International Festival 8/15/09

Gary with 2 fans after his "Golem" Q and A, Jecheon Festival, South Korea 8/14/09

Gary and legendary Teddy Bears singer (and "Rocky" theme songwriter) Annette Kleinbard, Jecheon Festival, South Korea 8/14/09

Gary and his friend Hyun-Jung Shim, who composed the music for the fantastic film "Oldboy" (d. Chan-wook Park, 2003) at the "Golem" afterparty, Jecheon South Korea 8/14/09

Gary savors bibambap at a fantastic Korean restaurant in Jecheon South Korea with his friend Gilsang Ahn 8/16/09 | photo by Christie Jun

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Special mention should be made of the festival staff--programmers extraordinaire Chung Woochung, Jin Soo Jung, and May Lee, gracious hospitality director Hena Yang, skillful translators Christie Jun, Miji Jeong, indefatigable volunteers (the Orange Brigade) Saerom Seong, Gilsang Ahn, Sora Ahn, the list goes ahn...they were all super lovely folks, and all so very helpful during the entire festival for what must have been a very stressed-out time for them, they worked so efficiently round the clock to keep the whole thing running smoothly, screening literally hundreds of international music-related films in the town of Jecheon at a multiplex cinema a bus ride away, and on the awesome mainstage contiguous to Cheongpung Lake and the hotel, and on a smaller stage set on a jetty in the middle of the lake reachable only over a footbridge...what a romantic setting, I have to tell you, the whole thing was so magical and mysterious working in this idealized setting

I played "The Golem" the second night I was there before a couple thousand folks (young people, families, critics, fellow artists) in what was my 1001st performance (or thereabouts) since debuting the work in 1989 at the Museum of the Moving Image here, and it was possibly my greatest gig with it ever, the media coverage had been really good in the run-up to the performance and I gave my all to the film, storming through the score in the humid tropical night as if my life depended on it, the film (a black and white print) looming over me on the massive-sized screen--and received a prolonged ad heartfelt ovation at the end...the Q and A afterwards was a lot of fun, one little girl (the daughter of Korean film music composer Joanne Seo) came up to the stage to ask me if I was tired after playing non-stop for 89 minutes, you can see a clip here from a fan's blog where you can see how excited and psyched I was with the audience's response after performing...

Gary plays "The Golem", Jecheon Festival mainstage, South Korea 8/14/09

Gary does a double-take, Cheonpung Lake solo concert, Jecheon Festival, South Korea 8/15/09

Gary with translator Hena Yang at his 1am solo concert at the Jecheon Festival, South Korea 8/15/09

Gary at the Dukju Buddhist Temple, Jecheon South Korea 8/17/09

Gary and Madrid film star Fernando Tielve ("Unmade Beds") eating Korean dumplings, Jecheon South Korea 8/18/09

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Following the film I hung at the Korean BBQ after-party with the Mayor of Jecheon, various glamorous Korean film stars, the Festival organizers, invited foreign guests, and cool Korean artists such as the lovely Hyun-Jung Shim, composer of the score for one of my favorite films, Chan-wook Park's "Oldboy", whose outrageous new film "Thirst" I caught at the Sunshine Cinema here shortly before heading off to South Korea...Korean films are definitely in the vanguard of world cinema, and not only horror films (I've written extensively about Bong Joon-Ho's fantastic 2006 sea monster-on-wheels flick "The Host" in a previous blog--featuring a walk-on by my pal, superstar Paul Lazar)...

Absolutely the best film I managed to catch at the festival (including festival winner "This is Anvil", and the James Brown-driven Ali/Foreman rumble in the jungle opus "Soul Power") was the dramatic film "Go Go 70's" by Korean director Choi Ho, which concerned the autocratic repression of authentic roots rock expression in South Korea in the 1970's...borrowing a page (and songs) from "The Commitments", it concerned a band of young Korean musicians, US army base brats/hangers-on, who form a band known as The Devils to play American r&b Korean-stylee and who unleash the wrath of the conservative central government with their decadent demon-driven rock 'n roll which results in beatings, haircuts, and eventually lands their asses in jail-- the story had eerie parallels with my friends The Plastic People's plight in the Soviet-dominated Czech 70's (the PP played a couple of gigs in NYC while I was in South Korea, which I trust went well) and exemplified the major thema (and one of my pet theories) of Tom Stoppard's "Rock 'n Roll"; namely, rock as Dionysiac evolutionary/political/cultural catalyst...a fantastic film!! I do hope this film gets a release in the West, it was really quiite stirring...

Gary at the Jecheon Festival South Korea 8/18/09

Gary and his translator Christie Jun, Jecheon Festival South Korea 8/18/09

The view out my hotel window, Cheongpung Lake Hotel Jecheon South Korea 8/14/09

Noodles, scallion pancakes, and kimchee, Jecheon South Korea 8/14/09 | photo by Christie Jun

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What else? Food was amazing as usual, I feasted on my favorite Korean dish bibimbap with bulgoki and kimchee several times...had several magnificent country outings courtesy of the Festival, my favorite being a trip to the Dukju Buddhist shrine, to hear a solitary monk intoning prayers in front of the altar in an aching soulful voice was the purest blues...

I am enthralled by the sights and sounds of South Korea (and tastes, I took Caroline and Cineaste editor Richard Porton to 13th Street Korean eatery DoSirak Fri. after a screening of "Inglourious Basterds"--very enjoyable flick btw--on Friday night for more bibimbap, to keep the flavor alive!, I made many new friends and fans there (every time I went to the town cinema during the week I was stopped for autographs and photos by folks who had seen me play "The Golem", and who had also attended my Saturday 1am cinema music concert "One Summer Night" on the stage set in the middle of the lake, where I performed music by Nino Rota, Popol Vuh, George Gershwin, Henry Mancini, and many other of my favorite film composers)....I was really sad to leave South Korea, and hope to return soon--it was an absolutely brilliant and unforgettable experience!!

Gary with the mayor of Jecheon, Annette Kleinbard, Hyung-Jung Shim, Sebastian Doggart and Emma Franz 8/18/09

Gary with filmmakers Emma Frantz, Sebastian Doggart, songwriter Annette Kleinbard, and filmmaker Manish Achyra, Jecheon Festival

Saerom Seong, Gary and Fernando Tielve outside the Dukju Buddhist Shrine, Jecheon South Korea 8/17/09

3 Volunteers including my translator Christie Jun, GL, Teddy Bears singer Annette Kleinbard, Madrid director Juan Laguna, and Madrid actor Fernando Tielve, Jecheon South Korea 8/16/09

Gary plays "The Golem" at the Jecheon Festival South Korea 8/09 | photo by Sebastian Doggart

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Home for a couple more days r&r with Caroline and Lulu (who we are loving so much, though she is running us ragged!)...

Gary in front of Chuck Close's portrait of Lucas Samaras, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 8/09 | photo by Mike Edison

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and then off again Tuesday night to France to play the Rochefort-En-Accords Festival, sharing stages over 3 days and nights there with my old friends Piers Faccini and Jean-Francois Pauvros and other folks I am eager to play with (Natalia King, Nick Harper, Ken Stringfellow, BJ Cole and others)...

I am performing solo on Friday night at 10:40pm on the mainstage...

and hope to see you there!!




Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are definitely some holes there not covered by the DLC yet, including the song Help and Hey Jude. I'm optimistic that they'll eventually get the full catalog out there for purchase.

Posted by Janice to Gary Lucas at 7/13/2010 1:40 PM

7/13/2010 3:02 PM  

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

Light On

Getting ready to head out on Wednesday to play the 5th Jecheon International Music and Arts Festival in South Korea in the lovely town of Jecheon outside Seoul with "The Golem"...

the last couple of weeks since I've been back from my trip to Latin America have been sent basically decompressing--catching up on sleep, tying up loose ends here, paying bills (oy), rehearsing, seeing movies, live music, basically searching for stolen moments away from the usual hustle before my next trip lighting out for the territories...

Lulu, Caroline and Gary, Mojo Coffee, West Village, 7/09

still, nothing quite beats the memory of the delightful time spent in Apulo Colombia recently with Andrew Loog Oldham, Esther Farfan, and Caroline (and not forgetting their dogs Gruff and Daisy!)...

Movies: Best I've seen recently (but pretty damn depressing admittedly) was a double bill of Matteo Garone's "Gomorrah" and Paolo Sorrentino's "Il Divo" up at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center (my favorite theater in NYC in fact--where I will premiere my new live score for Tod Browning's silent thriller "The Unholy Three" on October 22nd--save the date!)...

Despite the pervasive gloom engendered by this peak into the seamy netherword of Italian politics, I quite enjoyed these two films, which were really adult cinema (ie, what used to be known as "foreign films") at its best--a commodity which seems to have pretty much fallen off the map in this country unfortunately over the last few years...

I am so looking forward to performing in Italy again in September at the Madame Guitar Festival in Tricesimo near Udine, I love Italian culture in general and any time I play in that lovely country is a blessing...

this year I find myself listening nearly incessantly to the music of Paolo Conte which I rate right up there with the best music ever made, his music never fails to move me, uplift me, entrance me--I bought his "Reveries" album several years in a store in Saint Petersburg that carried bootlegs of seemingly every album every made (like that Robert Klein routine), music divided and catalogued in the store by decades, however obscure (found a double album of Harpo Marx's music there for instance--yes! also Circus Maximus' first album, great 60's jazz-rock band, Jerry Jeff Walker's first group, containing that staple of 60's FM freeform radio, "The Wind")--anyway, "Reveries" started me off on a journey that has taken me deeper and deeper into the world of Paolo Conte--I would recommend his "Best of" album on Nonesuch here as a good starter for anyone interested in checking out his work (but hey I own about 15 of his albums now--in fact the lovely Italian singer Marina Conti gave me his "900" album for my birthday--thanks Marina!!--and it's hard to pick a particular favorite--they all have something magical to recommend them--he really is the greatest)...

Sunset out our window, West Village NYC 8/09

Also enjoyed Woody Allen's "Whatever Works", I am quite partisan about Larry David (could watch reruns of "Fawlty Towers", "SCTV", "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "The Daily Show" endlessly), and found this film quite sweet and funny...unlike the new Harry Potter film, which was a gigantic snore...yet the critics seem to adore this particular HP (apple)sauce, and dissed Woody's new film...oh well...

and then there was "In the Loop"--yes!! Funniest film in ages, so true--go see it!! Peter Capaldi is brilliant as the Scottish spinmeister Malcolm Tucker, James Gandolfini is great as usual, we loved it non-stop throughout, and the thing of it is, it is so close to the way things actually ARE, it's really not such a laughing matter when you get right down to it...but--what the hey, laugh through the tears, laugh till it hurts-- this film will put a big smile on your face guaranteed--climb the mountain of conflict and see it :-)

Reasons to be Cheerful pt. two: my new album "Rishte" with the amazing Indian vocalist Najma Akhtar is #7 on the World Music Charts Europe this month (yeah!!)...

and there is a really nice feature about the making of it at

Lulu sleeping peacefully just back from the vet, 8/8/09

Have to dash--we're lighting out with Lulu for vanilla pancakes at our new favorite cool Village hangout Smorgas Chef on West 12th Street, a delightful joint with the best Swedish cuisine...this year saw the demise of a slew of great restaurants in the Village due to greedy landlords abounding, much regret at the closing of our beloved Portuguese restaurant Alfama (had dinner there on their final night, beautiful Fado music playing live--good news is they will reopen elsewhere, stay tuned), also Monster Sushi, Mama Buddha, Sung Chu Mei, Chez Brigitte, Bourbon Street West, Da Andrea--

but some great new ones have opened also, including a branch of the fantastic Chinese restaurant Grand Sichuan on Varick Street...

and let us not forget the Waffels and Dinges truck that parks on the corner of Christopher and 7th Avenue occasionally--

soft and chewy Belgian waffles. plus toppings of fruit, dulce de leche, melted Belgian chocolate, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...



ps just read the sad news about the passing of Mike Seeger in the Times this morning...while not as well known as his brother Pete he was equally gifted, a real treasure of American folk music, and was a hell of a player on all sorts of instruments. I first encountered him backstage at Symphony Space when Peter Stampfel and I performed as The Du-Tels at a New Lost City Ramblers reunion show and dug his dry wit and masterful performance style, last saw him backstage at the New York Guitar Festival at Town Hall a couple years ago on one of David Spelman and John Schaefer's themed tribute shows (to Mississippi John Hurt)-- a real gentleman and a scholar and educator, Mike's re-discovery of the great Appalachian banjo player and singer Dock Boggs is on a par with John Fahey, Bill Barth and Henry Vestine's re-discovery of Skip James--a blessed event in American roots music...the whole Seeger family really is one of the great benign American dynasties...though socialist to the bone, they would no doubt hate to be described this way :-)...I loved working with Mike's niece Sonya Cohen on some of my earliest recordings (she was so great on "Out from Under"), and Peggy Seeger is one of the greatest performers and songwriters, and should really be better known...

Speaking of the Seegers, Dean Bowman and I are bringing our Chase the Devil duo to Peter Seeger's annual Clearwater Festival in Washington Square Park at 3pm on 9/11, and if you're in the city come on down...


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