My best friend Zandra and I have an uncommon addiction for most 35-year-old women. We are and have always been obsessed with boy bands. We listen to their music and talk about them frequently. We email pictures of our favorites back and forth. We spend copious amounts of cash going to their concerts and buying their merchandise. We often fantasize about what a boy band music festival in the same vein as Lollapalooza or Sasquatch would be like. Picture New Edition and the Backstreet Boys on the main stage and less popular boy bands like O-Town and High-Five on a secondary stage. In the corner, a tent stage would feature tertiary groups like O-Town cast-offs LMNT and my personal favorite, Five. We figured that this summer’s “The Package” tour with New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men would be the closest we would ever come to this dream so we quickly scooped up tickets. Read more
New artists imitate, great artists steal.
(I was asked to write a post explaining the basics of copyright in music. This is not really that post.)
An original musical work is protected by copyright law the instant that the artist (or artists) first records it or writes it down. An unrecorded session doesn’t create any lasting rights, copyright-wise at least. After a first recording, a musician has a protected copyright in both the song as a musical composition and the recorded version of the song as a sound recording. This assumes the songwriter and performer are the same. It seems strange now, but back in the old days music had to be put in notational form to gain copyright protection. In practice, a musical composition and a sound recording are typically owned by different people and different sets of rules and rights apply to each. Read more
The Bellevue the Library was the last stop of our recent King County Library Systems: A Place at the Table tour, where Bushwick performed original music inspired by Michael Pollan’s The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. KBCS 91.3 FM was on hand to record this event and interview the artists. They put together some fun little 10 minute radio segments of each artist and every day this week at 4:20pm they will be broadcasting a new Bushwick segment. Yay! The schedule is posted below. Read more
As one often does these days, I discovered the news on Facebook. After trying to decipher a series of posts in my newsfeed, I finally found the one that made them all make sense: a press release announcing that Bar 4, in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn was closing. I started crying.
“Friends and family,
It is with great sadness that we announce that after 14 years as a neighborhood institution, music venue and beloved Slope staple, Bar 4 will be permanently closing its doors on August 15, 2013.”
And not like wimpy crying. I was sobbing so much. I felt embarrassed about it even though I was alone in my apartment. I couldn’t stop, couldn’t calm down and couldn’t rein it in. I know this sounds overly dramatic (I DID do all the plays in high school), but I would love to tell you why a tiny bar in Brooklyn impacted my life to such a significant degree. It also relates to The Bushwick Book Club Seattle; I promise. Read more
One wonderful aspect of the Bushwick Book Club: it conducts art across fields, generating new creation. From textual to musical, prose to lyrical. Inspiration via artistic translation and cross-pollination is a wonderful phenomenon with a rich, varied history.
I heard my own favorite example of this occurrence at a Seattle performance years ago. Back when Consolidated Works was a happening venue, the pianist Jason Moran (a recent MacArthur Award winner, deservedly in my estimation) came to town and used mesmerizing artistic translation in a solo piece.
The video below is the same song he played that night. Check it out–I’ll bet you’ve never heard anything quite like it. (Although this version is with a trio, you’ll get the idea even if you only listen for a minute). Do you know Turkish? In addition to piano, bass and drums you’ll hear a woman in Istanbul chatting with her mother on a cell phone. What to listen for? Hint: the night I heard this tune my friend turned to me, noticed my furrowed brow, and said: “He’s playing a note on every syllable.” This ordinary conversation becomes the tonal palette for Moran’s composition. Read more
Thursday, August 1
We know the Capitol Hill Block Party is this weekend, but be sure to catch some of these upcoming shows from our Bushwick artists and other Seattle picks.
The Hitchcock 9 film series opens at SIFF Cinema Uptown. The nine surviving silent films by Alfred Hitchcock, accompanied by live performances of original scores by Seattle musicians including Miles and Karina, The Diminished Men, cellist Lori Goldston, DJ James Whetzel, and more. Tonight kicks off with Blackmail, the story of a woman’s flirtation that turns dark and sinister. Films play through August 1 at SIFF Cinema Uptown.
Saturday, July 27
Monday, July 29
Have an upcoming show? Want to share it with us? Email [email protected]
A big part of my job is to make sure that everyone and their Mom knows about our incredible book inspired events. So I hope that by now you are fully aware that this Friday night, July 12th at the Royal Room The Bushwick Book Club Seattle is presenting original music inspired by Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. ( And if you didn’t know about it but do now because you just read the previous sentence – BIG KUDOS to me!) Well, the fine folks over at WonderAndRisk.com (WAR for short) did in fact know what Bushwick was up to and were kind enough to dream up this show preview, uniquely presented in the form of a script for trailer to a fake film entitled Read and Destroy.
[Opening title: Read and Destroy]
[Second title screen: A trailer for a movie based on bands writing songs inspired by books]
[We open on a cramped café in Brooklyn, NY. It’s a shotgun-shack with pressed tin ceilings, colorfully cluttered walls. A band is set up at the far end of the café, playing a song inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions]
[Cut to: Geoff Larson, seated at one of the round tables along the wall. He’s drinking a Budweiser.]
Geoff: Man, Seattle would just eat this alive.
[Cut to: Geoff sitting on a plane.]
Narrator: [V/O] In a world where books are silent, and nobody reads as much as they used to, one man seeks to bridge the gap between book clubs and bands…
You can read how this film plays out it is entirety over on the WAR website. Or to get the full effect of Read and Destroy, you can come to the show on Friday at the Royal Room and experience it for yourself in person.
As is common with my approach to poster design, in particular hand-drawn illustrations, I spent a good deal of time walking around thinking about what a Huckeleberry Finn poster would look like seen through the lens of my brain. This process can go on for days and days, provided there’s enough time (sometimes even if there really isn’t time – ask Geoff, he’ll admit he often has to play Mob boss: “Hey kid, where’s the friggin’ poster already for Christ sakes? You said Tuesday, now you say it’s Saturday at the soonest – I’m dyin’ over here! Dying, kid! It’s a poster, not the Sistine chapel!” ). Deep in the brain, iteration after iteration will cycle through until an element sticks – say, how the lettering would look – then another and another, until after a while there’s a pretty solid idea floating around my pink/grey matter. At that point I’m aching to get home and draw it.
For example, I was totally certain right away that the lettering would be big, bold, and R. Crumb-y, not unlike the illustration to the right.
The obvious way to do the text for a Huck Finn poster would be ornate and old-timey, so I wanted to run as far as possible to the other end of the spectrum. Seattle people, Bushwick fans – they’d appreciate that, I thought. I started working on the big block letters thinking that would be the easy part and once I had those done I’d know how much space was left for the illustration. Little did I know that every attempt to make good letters would result in awful, shitty letters staring back at me, wondering why I summoned them into such a mangled existence. It simply wouldn’t do, and I felt like I was back at square one.
Huck and Jim on the raft, rowing away from the viewer. Perfecto! Bam! – just put it on the paper. Let’s do the illustration first, I thought, and worry about the lettering later. I cracked open a beer, threw on Creedence to set the mood, and got down to business. Little did I know that every attempt to draw real-looking people would result in two awful, shitty people staring back at me wondering why their backs looked like their fronts (truly, their bodies seemed to be simultaneously facing you AND facing away from you – it was disturbing) and why the raft they stood on looked like long blocks of rigid string cheese mashed together with twine.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I can draw. But there are some things I can draw better than others, and some things I definitely need to work on for a while before delivering the product. Sometimes I’m surprised how easy something is that I thought would be hard. Other times, what I think will be tremendously easy turns out to be utterly impossible.
In the end, I decided to try a design built around whorls. I’d had fun using them in a limited way for a different project, so I took a crack at seeing what it would be like if they damn near filled the page. Suddenly, the entire design snapped into view: how the letters would be weaved amongst the whorls, how the banners would hang above and below the main design, even what color palette would best serve. I’ll let you be the judge on the final result but it’s at least a step up from what your cousin drew up for your high school punk band.
In another entry to come, I’ll explain the actual, physical process of creating separate hand-drawn elements, converting them to digital, creating a composite image and making the real magic happen. Until next time, readers!