Video Fridays: Joe Strummer

It’s been a while since I posted a video of one of my favorite music artists, Joe Strummer, but today I’m just in that kinda truth-telling, rockin’ out kinda mood.

If you loved The Clash, especially if, like me, you loved their work from the 1979 London Calling onward, it’s impossible for me to understand how you wouldn’t like Joe Strummer’s solo work, especially the three last albums he released with The Mescaleros.

What was so mind-blowing about London Calling was how a band known for fairly straightforward punk rock music broke out with a double album of songs with influences ranging from reggae to jazz to disco and more.

Well, Joe never stopped listening to and being inspired by music from a wide variety of genres, including music from all around the world, and nowhere was that more evident than on the 2001 album Global a Go-Go.

This song, Bhindi Bhagee, plays around with his international influences, with food acting as a metaphor for how international music is. If you haven’t heard the Global a Go-Go album, I really can’t recommend it enough.

Happy Weekend, everyone!

Eyecatchers: Mark Powell

Ok, I know I posted an Eyecatchers installment yesterday, but the following just astounded me.

So, sue me! :-)

Via Colossal, I’ve discovered the work of Mark Powell, an artist creating absolutely stunning portraits on vintage used envelopes, using only a Bic Biro pen.

Powell has a particular fascination for old, deeply wrinkled and haggard faces, and you could even say it’s a nearly morbid fascination (not many smiles here). And yet, I detect a clear empathy and compassion for his subjects, evident in the emotion you can see right below the surface or oozing out in particular facial expressions, especially via the eyes.

As a result, the work doesn’t come across as overly depressing, and some of the portraits even come ever so close to caricature, in a good way, without actually going there.

The texture and patina of the envelopes, along with the postmarks, stamps, addresses, and handwriting somehow seem fully integrated into the compositions, enhancing both the aesthetics and themes.

Do treat yourself to some time at the artist’s website, but in the meantime, here are some of my favorites:

Eyecatchers: “Bad” Photos By Good Photographers

Here’s a fun diversion!

The Guardian has a short but fascinating slideshow up today, consisting of selected photos from noted photographers, who’d been asked to talk about what they considered to be their worst shot.

Now, naturally, since these are VERY good photographers, their “worst” shots are still, in most cases, very good photographs, and sometimes the explanation they give has more to do with the subtext surrounding the subject, rather than anything technical about the shot itself.

Anyway, I love reading about the creative process behind works that don’t immediately, by themselves, tell the whole story.

Here’s my favorite shot of the bunch (But you’ll have to click on the link above to find out why it’s considered “bad” :-)):

R.I.P. Earl Scruggs

It’s always sad for me when people of legendary talents pass away, especially when it’s someone who had a talent doing something that I happen to dabble in.

Thus, as a musician, because I deeply revere the masters of the art, I experience their loss acutely, almost as if the person was someone I knew, and it feels like I did really know them on some level, because they ultimately shared so much of themselves in their music.

And so it was this morning as I learned of the passing of Bluegrass music legend Earl Scruggs.

There are many items in the news today on this great banjo innovator and virtuoso, so I won’t go into details of his career here, except to say that he developed what became the quintessential Bluegrass banjo style that so many players after him adopted. Bluegrass is practically synonymous with the Scruggs-style three-finger rolling picking technique. (I would highly recommend a moving tribute to Earl that Steve Martin wrote in New Yorker earlier this year, a love letter to a man who deeply inspired him and with whom he was eventually fortunate enough to have played with and befriended.)

For me, I’ll always think of Earl Scruggs in the context of the great fortune I’ve had to make music over the years with a dear friend who plays the banjo, and even though she plays the older clawhammer style, she was the gateway for my learning of the banjo in general.

And now, without further ado, Earl’s signature tune, humbly (chuckle) named Earl Scruggs Breakdown:

Moving, Bellingham Style

I’ve lived in Bellingham for nearly 20 years, I’ve written numerous times of my affinity for bicycles, I’ve been a bicycle commuter for most of my last 10 years of employment, and I mention on my About page that the “bicycles” in Fish & Bicycles resonates with the fact that bicycles have an iconic presence here.

So, naturally, I strongly identify as a quintessential Bellingham resident.

Well, back in November 2011, I wrote about how my family and I moved to a new home here in town, and how that move kicked my ass.

But today comes a story of one man’s move across Bellingham that makes me question my B’ham street cred. The move looked like this:

Via The Bellingham Herald:

Bicycling caravan moves Bellingham man into new apartment

The mere thought of hauling a sofa, a dinette set, a bed and a bed frame down a flight of stairs and into a moving truck is enough for some of us to break a sweat.

Now imagine hauling all of that five miles across town, by bike.

Oh, and also bringing along everything else you own. Basically in one trip…

On Tuesday evening, March 27, [Tim] Flores recruited a few friends and acquaintances who offered to bring a ton of his things – literally, he estimated it weighed about one ton, in all – from the outskirts of northwest Bellingham to the Puget neighborhood.

After a morning practice run, Flores and Caleb Brown, a coworker at the downtown Comnunity Food Co-op, loaded about 600 pounds of stuff onto two bikes and bike trailers.

By 5 p.m., eight more bikers had arrived at his apartment complex at 915 Mahogany Ave. to help with the move, using only their cycles, trailers, bungee cords and backpacks.

I don’t know what’s more admirable, the fact that he actually pulled this off, or that he lives minimally enough to have made this possible.

Random Thought

It is painfully obvious that the squirrel version of the 5 Second Rule is the Whenever Rule.

Tweet of the Day: @nickibluhm

I never thought in a million years that I could ever again listen to, much less enjoy, a Hall & Oates song. (No offense, messieurs Hall and Oates, it’s not your fault that your music was played to death on the radio when I was growing up.)

And yet, I have to admit, thanks to Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, performing this song in a moving vehicle, with two acoustic guitars, an iPad, a kazoo, Nicki’s spot-on gorgeous voice, and absolutely perfect harmony backing vocals, I thoroughly enjoyed a Hall & Oates 1980s chestnut I’d sworn to detest for life.