Saturday, January 14, 2017



"And lady stardust sang his songs
Of darkness and disgrace"

David Bowie, "Lady Stardust" The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars



January 8, 2017
Star Anna & Synergia NW Orchestra perform Ziggy Stardust
Neptune Theatre, Seattle

My introduction to David Bowie was his amazing performance of "Life on Mars" and "Ashes to Ashes" on The Tonight Show in 1980. Scary Monsters is still, for me, the gold standard of all things Bowie. As I write these words I had to find the clip online to listen. 37 years ago. Still a knockout.

Star takes back orange hair
Being somewhat obsessive about collecting music, under the general theory that if I like one thing somebody does I'll probably like everything, I quickly amassed most of the existing vinyl releases. Ziggy, of course, came up early on, and its iconic status is easy to understand on several levels. The song writing is strong throughout, and though the musicianship is as superb as one expects from DB he hasn't yet got to the point where the image of hyper-professionalism is so upfront as to be a smokescreen. This, as intricately thought out as it is, is personal. My interest, at the time, was mostly in the clockwork of his performance - in how each line is sung as though from an entirely different persona, the lyrics not spelling out a clear narrative but acting more like a scrapbook, each song being a page of scattered thoughts / quotes / comments / overheard conversations and the like. There is no single voice that talks to us, but a multitude of voices, most of them, it would seem, not Bowie's, but ours.

Until, that is, at the end of "Rock and Roll Suicide", he reaches out his hand to those voices, most of them ours, in what may be pop music's most sincere attempt at rescue.

Star Anna's voice sits a little lower than DB's, and she chose not to take some of the higher full power notes, but on a few remarkable occasions she moved to a light high falsetto that took my gasp away. (More please.) She also chose to use her prodigious vocal charisma to bind all the disparate voices that Bowie commanded into single, extraordinarily rich and supple presence. By her own admission she had been working toward this performance for the last 24 years. It showed. This was personal. This was for family. For all of us in the road of salvation, we have each other.

She gathered a fine orchestra, warmed us up with a short set of her own, and followed the album's tracks with encores, including "Changes" and "Rebel Rebel". The costumes were great. My phone pictures from the Neptune's balcony only capture the glow.


January 10, 2017
I Guess I'll Have to Dream the Rest- Frank Sinatra and the Pied Pipers, Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra

Sleep and dream as a stand-in for sexual surrender, played from the outside. Teasing by accusing the teased of teasing. Kind of a dicky move Frank.

Hollywood Hi Hat - Tommy Dorsey [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]

In its light tight staccato, a precursor to James Brown.

Early Spring - Miles Davis, The Metronome All Stars [from Alan Lowe's That Devilin' Tune]

Everybody checks in with a quick solo. Is it just me or had Miles heard a little Tommy Dorsey in his day?

January 12, 2017
Ooby Dooby - Roy Orbison [from Sun Records Definitive Hits]

A question for my sound engineer friends: Was the fingerboard of the upright bass mic'd separately? Is that the clicky sound I'm hearing that more or less tracks the rhythm section? What is that?

Rotate the Body in All Its Planes - Harry Partch - Freda Pierce, John Garvey

No effort is made to obscure the fact of its assemblage, in production, from individually recorded snippets, discrete sets of moments. I am reminded of J. K. Randall's recording of his some old troubador songs collected from around 1200 with interludes, including his in your face low-fi announcements of the titles.

In Session at the Tintinabulary

January 9, 2017
Banned Telepath 53 In Flight 010917
Banned Telepath 53 Seattle 010917
Banned Telepath 53 Tucson 010917
Banned Rehearsal 926 010917 - Karen Eisenbrey, Keith Eisenbrey, Neal Kosály-Meyer (Seattle); Steve Kennedy (Tucson); Aaron Keyt (In Flight)

A first! Sound from midair!

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