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
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!
Hear ye! Hear ye! Please direct your attention toward your computer screen so that I may inform you of a thrilling spectacle of the musical variety that will be taking place in your neck of the woods in no less than a few short hours from this very moment. (Gasp!) If you continue to read this I cannot guarantee that your mind will be blown, nor can I guarantee that you will meet the man/woman of your dreams. But I’ll tell you what, for those of you who are fortunate to attend the event of which I speak, I absolutely 100% guarantee that you will witness not one, not two, but THREE featured Bushwick acts, all in one spot and all making incredibly pleasant artistic sounds using nothing more than whatever instruments they happen to bring and their very own mouths! (Double gasp!) So without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present to thee This Tuesday night, July 9th 8pm at The Triple Door Musicquarium Lounge, none other than MoZo, Bradford Loomis, and By The Way. Silly me, I almost forgot to mention the best part… this show is free! (OMG!)
MoZo (Moe Provencher, Aimee Zoe) is a folky/blues group that got their start many years ago busking on the streets of Seattle. This two person politically minded musical empire has graced the Bushwick stage countless times and they are the masterminds behind my favorite track off of Bushwick’s one and only album (#iloveit).
I first met Bradfrod Loomis back in January at The Howard Zinn show where his booming, yet elegantly sincere voice stomped his way into my fragile heart. I’ve been a fan ever since. His new album Into the Great Unknown is fantastic and he most recently won first prize in Bushwick’s Best Beard competition, narrowly edging out comedian Emmett Montgomery. Additionally, the word on the street is that Bradford has been secretly auditioning for NBC’s The Voice. With any luck you will soon be seeing him lay down some silky voice grooves on Team Usher.
The last act in this powerhouse trifecta lineup is the acoustic duo By The Way, featuring Don Hopwood on guitar and voice, and the creator of The Bushwick Book Club Seattle himself, Mr. Geoff Larson on standup bass. I’m not gonna lie, these guys are really really good. They have one album to their credit, Late Night Stumble, which is great and I listen to often. Musical talents aside, By The Way is best known for PISSING ME OFF with their complete and utter lack of a web presence. Come on guys (I’m looking at you Don), this isn’t 1996 anymore, you should have a website. BUILD A STUPID WEBSITE!! It is not that hard.
Well, there you have it. If my blathering didn’t convince you to want to experience this show in all its glory than I don’t know what will. There is no hope for you, you are dead to me. As for the rest, I will see you this Tuesday night at the Triple Door Musicquarium Lounge . Yeeeeehhhaaaaaaaaaaa!!
Check out what Bushwick Seattle musicians are up to, and eat your vegetables!
Saturday, June 29
Tuesday, July 2
Thursday, July 4
Mozo at the Independence Day Parade (“walkin’ in the parade and playin’ in the park after with our good friend Bobcat Bob Rice,” they tell us) in Cannon Beach, Oregon, 7pm.
Have an upcoming show you’d like to include for next time? Let us know about it!
Recently I was asked what books I would most like to see inspire The Bushwick Book Club Seattle to write and perform some original songs. So in response I began to rather selfishly list all my favorite books I’ve read over the last ten years. The list was long (too long!), but after some careful thought I managed to refine it down to just five books that, in my opinion, would make for tantalizing Bushwick shows and some amazing original songs. Now, I am not sure if the creation of this list will actually lead to an event inspired by one of my picks (it probably won’t, but my fingers are crossed), but It certainly can’t hurt and I’m all about promoting my picks in the name of great entertainment. Here are my five book selections in no particular order.
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (non-fiction)
At first, I was interested in a Bushwick show inspired by Roach’s book about sex, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, but as I read I became less and less inclined to hear songs inspired by dog testicle implants and people who ejaculate pigs for a living (fun stuff!). Just the thought of hearing the Bushwick artists sing songs even vaguely about sex-toy research and development left me a tad on the squeamish side. Instead, I’d rather hear songs about the use of human cadavers by doctors practicing face lifts. Although I do question as to exactly why I find this to be less upsetting. Anyhow, the book details what happens to cadavers when they are donated to science. It’s sometimes gruesome and often funny. Roach excels at making light of a serious and perhaps morbid topic. In addition to the aforementioned plastic surgery practice, there are chapters on ammunition testing, medical school classes and bombing victims. I’m not doing a good job selling Roach’s sense of humor, but she has a knack for sarcasm that successfully transfers to the page.
Ready Player One: A Novel by Ernest Cline (fiction)
When I heard this book lovingly referred to as Willy Wonka meets the Matrix, I knew I had to read it. The text is dripping with 1980s pop culture and nerd references that I adore. Much of the book reads as a love letter to favorite parts of my childhood including Pac-Man, Duran Duran and John Hughes movies. There are so many references to pull from and Bushwick performers would have a field day drawing inspiration from the text. The main character Wade Watts is a big nerd and spends most of his day plugged into a virtual world called the Oasis because the real world totally sucks and has been ruined by humanity. The creator of the Oasis left clues upon his death throughout the virtual world to lead someone to his vast fortune. Watts and other competitors both good and nefarious race to solve the puzzle and win the fortune. The book is an action adventure treasure hunt ripe with hundreds of nods to pop culture making a feast for the reader.
I am so in love with this book that it is hard for me to describe it. It’s beautiful. It is one of few books that I read very slowly and savored because I didn’t want it to end. I mourned the ending as it approached. The book is avant-garde and not for everyone, but I can’t help daydreaming about the song Tai Shan in particular could write inspired by this masterpiece. I think she would devour it and pen and sing a song that would make the room explode with awesomeness. I’ll leave you with some lines from an Amazon review because it describes it much better than I could.
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler is a marvel of ingenuity, an experimental text that looks longingly back to the great age of narration–“when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded.” Italo Calvino’s novel is in one sense a comedy in which the two protagonists, the Reader and the Other Reader, ultimately end up married, having almost finished If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler. In another, it is a tragedy, a reflection on the difficulties of writing and the solitary nature of reading. The Reader buys a fashionable new book, which opens with an exhortation: “Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade.” Alas, after 30 or so pages, he discovers that his copy is corrupted, and consists of nothing but the first section, over and over. Returning to the bookshop, he discovers the volume, which he thought was by Calvino, is actually by the Polish writer Bazakbal. Given the choice between the two, he goes for the Pole, as does the Other Reader, Ludmilla. But this copy turns out to be by yet another writer, as does the next, and the next.
Now I don’t want to hear it. Yes, this is a book about sports. I know a lot of you musician and artsy-fartsy types out there don’t like sports, but here is some advice – Go buy yourself a deck of cards and deal with it! This book is incredible. Before I started reading it, I barely watched basketball and I knew next to nothing about the game’s history. My exposure to the NBA consisted solely of a vast appreciation for David Robinson’s arms. The good news is that you don’t actually need to know anything about basketball to enjoy the book because Simmons weaves such entertaining tales in between facts and statistics. I’d love to attend a March Madness themed show where each Bushwick performer would write a song inspired by one chapter in the book (much like Bushwick’s event last February based around Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States). That way all you whiny artsy types (you know who you are) wouldn’t have to read an entire book about professional basketball and I could enjoy odes to Larry Bird and the invention of the 24-second shot clock.
I heard a rumor that Bushwick might be considering a cookbook for an upcoming show. Although less interested in songs devoted to split-pea soup or various uses for anchovies, I became excited about the possibility of songs inspired by one of my favorite TV chefs, Julia Child. Child led an amazing life, first working for the OSS before starting her culinary career later in life. Powell’s book covers both Child’s intriguing life and her delicious recipes as she attempts to learn more about the chef and cook every recipe from the now classic tome Mastering the Art of French Cooking in one year. Originally started as a blog, Julie and Julia’s chapters rotate between the trials and tribulations that Powell faces when attempting to cook Child’s recipes including much angst surrounding the killing of a lobster and passages on Child’s life. This pick would serve especially well as a counterpoint to the current Bushwick picks by Michael Pollan as this book would illustrate how food and cooking has changed since Mastering the Art of French Cooking was first published more than 50 years ago.
Well, there you have it. And Since they’re asking, what books have you been yearning to see Bushwick perform original music inspired by? Let’s see your choices!