Amoeblog

What? Weird: Susan Vaslev's Music from Enchanted Forest

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, April 4, 2016 10:05pm | Post a Comment

Music from Enchanted Forest Salem Oregon roadside amusement attraction theme park vinyl soundtrack Susan Vaslev LP

Sounding something like the intro to an episode of Shelley Duvall’s Faerie Tale Theatre combined with the sonic dapples of a babbling, sun-spangled data stream, Music from Enchanted Forest showcases more than just the superb scope of composer and pianist Susan Vaslev’s synth-scapabilities. It also presents, as the title suggests, a world of sound specifically created to emanate from unseen speakers tucked behind rocks and in the treetops of Enchanted Forest, one of the most beloved homespun roadside attractions the great state of Oregon can boast of. What's more, as the the record states, it is the only known amusement park in the United States that has never been required to pay royalties for their music.
enchanted forest salem oregon theme park roadside attraction vintage opening day

In more ways than one, or in my opinion anyway, Susan Vaslev is living a rare and magical version of the American dream. Since childhood, she, along with her siblings and mother, has lent immeasurable time and effort to helping her father, Roger Tofte, realize his visionary venture of handcrafting a storybook amusement park among the verdant hills just South of Oregon’s capital city of Salem. Meaning, she’s spent much her life devoted to building, playing in, working for, living by, and—perhaps most importantly—soundtracking a world-class roadside attraction. Let your inner child chew on that for a sec. enchanted forest

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Pretty Good Year: Kelly's Best of 2015 picks...

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, January 9, 2016 04:49pm | Post a Comment
It seems like 2015 came to a close less than a little more than a week ago...wait, didn't it? Where does the time go? It came and went in another trip around the sun, with the seasons fully cycled and another twelve-month accumulation of art, music, and enjoyment to show for the passage. Listed below are the leaders of the pack where the year in my ears is, er, was concerned. These the repeat-listen flat plastic friends stuck with me thru thick and thin. Oh, and there's a book thrown in the mix as well! Did you dig any of these selections?

on you r own love again jessica pratt best music records vinyl of 2015 list
Jessica Pratt
- On your Own Love Again
(Drag City)


There's always one or three endlessly flip-able records that never quite stay filed away, maintaining rather an easy reach in the rotation pile nearby the home hi-fi. Jessica Pratt's sophomore offering On Your Own Love Again is one such record. Built in part of nearly inaudible ambient street sounds indicating a subtle genesis rooted in home-recordings, the layered, spacial delivery of Pratt's soft-plucked folk edged in opaque psychedelia eddies and billows in a cosmos of mellow zones, at times reaching near-exotic levels of effect, but ever retaining a familiar quality. Here and there accompanying lyrics seem to reveal something of the singer-songwriter's personal inspirations, but these revelations are islands in a stream of vocal stylings, lilting like tendrils through a tapestry of rhythmic strums, droning, hums, and filigree. A muted monument of home-spun, dyed-in-the-wool California by way of the Milky Way sound, Jessica Pratt may be compared to many a laudable singer-songwriter forebear, but she is most definitely in a league of her own.

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Cheers to Our Toast, The Sandwitches' last round

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, June 29, 2015 10:22pm | Post a Comment
the sandwitches san fracnsico band heidi grace sings sludge cooper roxy photography rachel walther empty cellar records our toast review
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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