Amoeblog

Cheers to Our Toast, The Sandwitches' last round

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, June 29, 2015 10:22pm | Post a Comment
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lovely photo of The Sandwitches by Rachel Walther

It's been many moons since we've been accorded a fresh platter from San Francisco trio The Sandwitches, and this latest release courtesy of Empty Cellar Records, looks to be their last. Since 2008, bandmates Grace Cooper, Heidi Alexander, and Roxy Brodeur have consistently honed a distinct sound that is, simply put, a little bit old-time country and a little bit roadside oddities rock 'n' roll. Their ability to seamlessly blend twisted yet whimsical girl group harmonies with unfiltered, mood-infused heavy Americana has progressed splendidly with each release, making Our Toast, their third LP, arguably their finest effort to date.
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Before you even get your ears on it, Our Toast is a thing of beauty. Housed in very fine packaging adorned with gold leaf lettering and a cover tribute to unofficial 4th member James Finch (painted by Deirdre White), the record itself (on oxblood wax if you're lucky) is sheathed by a printed inner sleeve featuring lyrics on one side (lyrics, people!) and a sad clown band photo epitaph on the other–a testament to the posthumous-ish work within. That said, there is a twinging finality vibe to this record that moves beyond the commemorative qualities of the tangible presentation. It's a feeling that lends suspicion to the pulse of each song like an omen or memento mori. And yet, regardless of any time the Sandwitches' sound has been described as "haunting", there is nothing ghostly about this energy at all. It's as if seven or eight of these nine songs are contending for the ultimate setting in sequencing crown: the last cut on side B, the swan song's swan song seat.

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Saturday Night at the Carter Family Fold

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, May 30, 2015 08:20pm | Post a Comment
carter family fold hiltons virginia appalachia mountain old time country bluegrass venue A.P.Sara Maybelle music history johnny cash

Deep in the hollows of Southwestern Virginia, near the Tennessee border and about thirty miles or so from any kind of reliable cellular signal, you'll find a low wooden structure pitched into a sloping hillside that faces an unbroken wood, settled at the end of endlessly snaking mountain back-roads that, depending upon your approach, terminate in two right turns around a rusted out passenger railcar resembling a forsaken submarine (what with it's porthole-like windows) swamped by high country grasses. This is Hiltons, Virginia and the venue is the Carter Family Fold, or the Carter Fold, or the fully realized results of local efforts to preserve and present bluegrass and old time country music in honor of traditional American folk pioneers, The Carter Family (specifically A.P. Carter, his wife Sara, and her sister/his brother's wife Maybelle). You'll know you've arrived when clusters of casually parked cars come into view, for that's how I found out for myself last Saturday night, after nearly an hours' passage through pastoral outlands and more than one are we there yet? Here follows a bit of a personal narrative of that night, garnished with a few of the photos I managed to capture.

carter family fold venue sign A.P. Sara Maybelle hiltons virginia bluegrass country music history preservation hall dance flat footin tappping appalachian american folk traditional old time music
Before stetting foot into the Fold itself, the frantic meter of "Cotton Eye Joe" became more discernible with every step I took, the muffled twangs and drawls of banjo and fiddle battling for supremacy in the space between verse and chorus only just audible behind the front entrance. Once through the door, another sound altogether becomes jarringly apparent: the arrhythmic clatter of untold multitudes of tap shoes scuffing up a hard surface like lazy rain drizzling hot fryolator oil. The cacophony is hypnotizing. Inside, at the ticket booth, my father proceeds to pay the price of admission for all us kin and then some, and brooks no refusals as usual. I pay a smidge extra for a Carter Family placard fan for good measure - no telling what the weather's like all the way inside.

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Queen Josephine Baker and her banana skirt

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, February 28, 2015 10:25pm | Post a Comment

josephine baker paul colin la revue negre art posrt black history african american dance paris 1920s

Josephine Baker, American expat and French citizen, was a decorated World War II hero and civil rights crusader who spoke at the March on Washington in 1963 next to Martin Luther King, Jr. and further devoted her life to challenging segregation in America while attempting to raise a multiracial, multinational family of twelve children adopted from twelve different countries, her so-clalled "rainbow tribe", to further demonstrate her belief in the possibilities of racial equality. In spite of all her honors, humanitarian efforts, and dignified intentions, Baker is perhaps best known for being the vivacious cabaret dancer in the banana skirt.

josephine baker march on washington world war II hero medal of honor josephine baker rainbow tribe adopted family

Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1906 to a washerwoman and a vaudevillian drummer (who would later abandon them), Josephine took to the stage when she was about a year old. Her parents, who had a song-and-dance act, would occasionally bring her out onstage as a part of their finale, an appearance that unofficially marks the very beginning her 67 year career as an entertainer. Her official start came years later when she dropped out of school at thirteen and lived the life of a street urchin in the St. Louis slums, scavenging garbage cans for food, sleeping in cardboard shelters, and dancing street-corners for money.

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17 Movie Soundtrack Motivationals to Facilitate your Fitness Resolutions

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, January 25, 2015 04:28pm | Post a Comment
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It's way past mid-January, do you know where your fitness goals are? Have you found that your get-up-and-go up got up and went? Are you looking for that perfect mix to pump [clap!] you up? Whether or not the holiday pounds have still got you down, chances are you or someone you know is looking to get motivated and stay fit in '15, even if it's just for one more week. To that I say: JUST DO IT! Push those New Year's resolutions to the limit and stay physical with this list of schlocky soundtrack anthems, Scotti Bros. label classics, and movie montage motivationals! 

[note: this post is dedicated entirely to the one and only Danimal, without whom this list would not have been so inspired nor exhaustive (however incomplete) as we have, during the course of our respective overlapping Amoeba journeys, spent countless hours extolling the many wonders, peaks, and pitfalls of these storied stimu-jams!]

Frank Stallone - "Far From Over"
frank stallone far from over vinyl soundtrack single b/w waking up staying alive 7" 45 sylvester brother travolta dance movie motivation 80s rock
From the soundtrack to Staying Alive (1983), Sylvester Stallone's second ever directorial effort and follow-up to the successful Saturday Night Fever, comes this undeniable force of motivational rock courtesy of baby brother Frank Stallone. In more ways than one this track is the the leaping-point from which this film takes flight, providing a desperately high-impact canvas for the opening credits/dance-or-die audition montage. Catching up with Tony Manero's dreams of "making it" as a professional dancer in the cutthroat theater scene of the big apple has never been so sweaty, or lean.

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Kelly's Choice Albums (and So Fourth) of 2014

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 30, 2014 03:15pm | Post a Comment
best of 2014 kelly amoeba personal list choice cuts vinyl record album list
This is it, we made it to the last Tuesday of 2014. With nothing but a new year's worth of new release days ahead, here's to looking back over the past three-hundred sixty odd days filled with sonic revelations and reverberations. With that in mind, I've complied my very own short stack of yummy black plastic pancake picks -- my favorite records released this year. Mmm, pancakes....

1. Once & Future Band - Brain EP
once and future band best of 2014 rock prog san francisco local band

Listening to this sprawling progressive precipice of a rock record for the first time was like slipping backwards over a ledge built by everyday mundanities and falling. Falling but never bracing for impact, maybe never touching Earth again. Just like "looking ahead with no backwards glancing," as vocalist/keymaster Joel Robinow puts it in the nearly nine minute eponymous opening track, I was besotted and entirely overcome with feels. I mean, as much as it urks my nerve when folks misuse and overstate things as "literally" being or doing this or that, I can state without hesitation that this record literally blew me away. Well, in a figurative sense. Add to that the fact that this sweet baby is obviously a passionate labor of love, deftly crafted by a couple of local backyard Bay Area wizards, and GAH! my esteem for this band couldn't be any more swollen. These guys are pretty much the best band around right now.

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