A semi-daily chronicle of my life as a musician, a family man, and a citizen of Oregon.

Feb 22, 2009

Andrew Bird at the Roseland

Photo credit: gussifer (this is actually a picture of the show the night before at the fillmore in san francisco)

Last night's Andrew Bird concert was the best I've seen in a long time, which is saying something because I've made it to my share of shows recently.  Anyone familiar with Andrew Bird's style of performance has an idea of how this might go, and if you aren't just plug his name into youtube and you can get a pretty good idea.  AB loops bits of music - many times starting with a plucked pizzicato violin part, could be for four bars or sometimes 8 or 16, and then begins layering on all kinds of accompaniment, including whistling, hand claps, vocals, bowed violin parts, etc until a song emerges.  He's perfected the art of doing this in such a way that at a certain part of all these loops the song just kind of snaps together.

Loney Dear, a band from Sweden, opened the show.  This wasn't the kind of show where you're blown away because everyone is so good.  AB definitely was the part that will stick in my mind.  Loney Dear had a couple of flavors of indie-pop, the acoustic/plaintive/quirky kind of song (which I generally like a lot) and the overwrought epic (which I generally do not) loaded with keyboards.  They were fairly inventive in their stage show, singing off mic or conducting sing-alongs (generally a risky move when you're the unbilled opener) which were quite enjoyable.  Overall though, I won't be buying the album.

When AB finally came out he played mostly songs off of his new album Noble Beast.  I do have this album, although I haven't had a chance to get into it as much as I might like (due to my newfound obsession with The National).  My unfamiliarity hardly mattered, though, as AB's infectious excitement over the new material sold the songs and the melodies flawlessly.  He is one of those performers who puts heart and soul into what he does.  The concert reminded me of the aspects of music that go back for centuries, as a cross between a religious service and a communal gathering.  If I hadn't bought his album already I definitely would have after this show.  In fact, I recommend you do so as well.

The one slight criticism I'd have of the show is that AB is perhaps just a wee bit bored of playing material off of Armchair Apocrypha, his last full album.  I say this because on some of those songs he was loose or inventive with the melodies and their rhythms in a way that kind of detracts from the original song.  For instance, one of the best things about the song "imitosis" is the syncopated rhythm of the vocals in the verse, and when they're stretched and stylized they lose some punch.

But this is a small trifle in an overall great performance.  I loved it and I can't wait to see him again.

Feb 8, 2009

Presidential Day Rally for Schools - February 16th 2009

Many of you follow my updates on twitter and Facebook and are therefor aware that Jen gave me her terrible cold.  This one is a real pain in the butt, and I'm still in the part where I feel worse each day rather than better.  Despite all this, tonight I'm braving my way through the haze of Kleenex and Nyquil to let you know about a really important event coming up on February 16th at the Salem state capital to support public school funding in Oregon.

There are many aspects of the funding picture that just don't add up for Oregon schools.  Did you know that the Oregon school year is shorter than any of its surrounding states?  In Portland the school day is the shortest of any district in Oregon.

The Governor's proposed budget for this biennium falls $199 million dollars short of the essential budget level for 2009 - 2011, which is the amount needed just to keep funding at its current levels.  But the governor's budget was proposed before the latest economic news was issued by the Oregon State Economist's office and is now seen as an optimistic proposal in Salem.  The schools are facing a short-fall for this year, which means they won't be able to pay their bills for the 2008-2009 school year without further cuts.

Oregon's children don't vote or write checks for campaigns (and can't drive themselves to the rally).  That's why it's so important that we get a great turnout at our Monday February 16th President's day rally to demand adequate funding for our schools and other programs.

If we want our legislators to stand up for our kids we need to show them that they have support when the going gets tough.  And the going has gotten tough.  If you'd like more information about the rally please email me at dave dot worth at gmail dot com, or sign up directly at http://stand.org/or/rally.  We even have buses coming directly from Portland schools to get you there!