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Christmas in Japan

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, December 17, 2008 04:23pm | Post a Comment
santa claus is coming to town with winter warlock
A few nights ago while watching an old VHS copy of Santa Claus is Coming to Town I began to wonder about this whole Christmas thing. The legend of Santa Claus, according to this stop-action, puppet laden, mind-bending slice of classic holiday TV programming, is a bit dodgy in parts and down-right unsettling as a whole (and hilarious when paired with the right kind of holiday spirits). How on earth did a story like this, the story of Santa Claus, ever so increase in popularity as to reach the mutated, lofty, legendary status it entertains today? It boggles the mind! But then Christmas is just plain weird and, ultimately, up for interpretation and reinterpretation given the varied spiritual, social, economic, geographic and educational contexts that embgodzilla christmas in japanrace it. That said, I'd like to explore Christmas the way the Japanese do it, as I believe it is a phenomenon that most Americans know little of unless you've had the pleasure of spending Christmas (or the New Year's festivities for the matter) in the biggest little archipelago on the Pacific Rim. 

Recently I asked one of my good buddies, an ex-pat who lives and works in Japan, if he'd be coming back to the good ol' U. S. of A. come Christmas. Sadly he won't be, but he assured me that his absence wouldn't hinder his warm wishes and memories of spending christmas in japan colonel sanders as santa clausthe holidays stateside with friends (and family too I suppose). One thing that he disclosed that has been sticking in my head is, "I have to fend off the almost daily, 'What's Christmas really like in the States?' question." What I'd give to know how he chooses to answer this question; "Oh it's like a weeks-long shopping fiasco that claims the sanity and lives of the over-worked and underpaid temporary workers of my country," I imagine him explaining to a wide eyed and wistful looking クリスマス enthusiast before losing their interest by then expounding upon the glory of salt-cured ham, home-made egg nog and football. I know my friends in Japan are missing out on some of the traditions and seasonal cheer they enjoyed growing up with, but if you ask me, they've got plenty to be merry about being so far away for the holidays. 

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BLACK FAG & BLACK FLAB KEEP BLACK FLAG'S LEGACY ALIVE

Posted by Billyjam, December 17, 2008 06:00am | Post a Comment

And the best current Black Flag tribute band award goes to Mimosa Beach, CA based Black Fag who are currently in the midst of their state-wide I Caught Henry Kissing Santa Claus tour with dates this week including at The Exit in Fresno on Thursday, Thee Parkside in San Francisco on Friday, 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley on Saturday, and Downtown Brew in San Luis Obispo on Sunday.

At these shows Black Fag, who are comprised of Liberace Morris (vocals), Greg Streisand (guitar), Cher Dykeowski (bass), and Robo Simmons (drums), will be doing enthusiastic covers of such Black Flag classics as "TV Party," "Six Pack," and "Wasted." And perhaps they will be joined at some of these shows by their backup dancers: Raymond Pettiboner, Joe CarGucci, and Bugger.

According to Black Fag's pink backdrop MySpace, their story began back in the small town of New Hope, PA. "Singer Liberace Morris was raised in neighboring Doylestown, but found a home among New Hope's thriving gay community. He worked at a vintage clothing/toy store while pursuing musical theatre at the Bucks County Playhouse at night. One night after Pippin rehearsal, Liberace came home to find his boyfriend in bed with another man. While drowning his sorrows at the local watering hole, The Raven, Liberace started singing and playing Black Flag's "Nervous Breakdown" on the piano. The rest of the bar simply ate it up until the end of the song, when Liberace stood up and started hblack faghaphazardly hurling martini glasses around the place. He was permanently ejected from The Raven and convinced that his life was officially over." 

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HOW TO DISCO DANCE C/O OF FINNISH PRO

Posted by Billyjam, December 17, 2008 01:40am | Post a Comment
                                
Today's Dance of the Day is a unintentionally funny how-to disco dance instruction from a Finnish pro who understands just how important movement of the hips is to being a proper disco dancer.

Ezra Feinberg of Citay Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, December 16, 2008 06:57pm | Post a Comment
Citay is one band of many sounds. It is also the brain child of one Ezra Feinberg. Here, Ezra shares the inspirations behind the fusion of sounds that make up Citay, how one U2 cover utterly changed his life and why the NYC scene is easier to appreciate for him now that he's a San Francisco resident. To hear songs by Citay, check out their Myspace page here. Citay's album Little Kingdom happens to be both fantastic and available at Amoeba Music.

citay

Miss Ess: How did you develop the sound of Citay? It sounds like many elements coming together seamlessly -- did you consciously bring together different sounds and influences, or is Citay more of an amalgamation of sounds you hear in your head, or something else entirely?

Ezra: Well I started by layering acoustic guitar chords in open tunings with harmonized electric guitar leads. I wanted it to have elements of spacier acoustic music with elements of heavier rock in the way that a lot of acid rock and early heavy metal bands did in the early 70s. But I'm really into vocal harmonies and pop songs, so I added those and it gave it an airier feel. I just ezra feinberg of citaystarted putting these elements together and the songs took on structure as I worked them through. I started working on Citay in the summer of 2004 and it's the same writing process now. I definitely think Citay is an amalgamation of sounds I hear in my head. It's basically my favorite aspects of my favorite music rolled into a new song.

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Davey Graham 1940 - 2008

Posted by Whitmore, December 16, 2008 05:51pm | Post a Comment

The legendary English guitarist and a major influence on practically every fingerstyle acoustic guitarist for the past 50 years, Davey Graham, passed away on Monday of lung cancer which was detected only a few weeks ago. He was 68.

Born November 22nd, 1940 in Hinckley, Leicestershire, England, he took up the guitar at the age of 12. By the age of 19 Graham composed what would probably be his most famous piece, “Anji,” released on his debut 1962 EP, 3/4 AD, and later covered by the likes of Pentangle and Simon & Garfunkel.

Here in the United States, Graham perhaps wasn’t as well known as some of his contemporaries but he has been credited with single-handedly inventing the concept of the folk guitar instrumental in the U.K.-- simultaneous honors in the U.S would go to John Fahey, who was making similar innovations. Graham influenced a who’s who of British guitarists from Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Richard Thompson, John Martyn, Nick Drake, Martin Carthy, and Jimmy Page -- Page’s instrumental "White Summer" was heavily based on Graham's "She Moved Thru the Bazaar/Blue Raga."

In 1959 Graham first made headlines with his attention grabbing performance of “Cry Me a River’ in the BBC television documentary Hound Dogs and Bach Addicts: The Guitar Craze, produced by Ken Russell. During the 1960s he played a major role in the British folk revival, releasing a series of eclectic solo albums that touched on a wide range of music, from jazz and blues to Indian and Arabic and gypsy. He introduced to many an aspiring young guitarist the DADGAD guitar tuning, whose chief appeal is the ability to improvise freely, yet maintain a solid underlying rhythm and harmony. But Graham's career was somewhat unpredictable; his concerts were often hit or miss. Much of his reputation was based on a couple of brilliant albums, both released in the same week of 1965, Folk Routes, New Routes in a duet with the folk singer Shirley Collins and Folk, Blues and Beyond, a mostly instrumental album that combined all his world music styles. His live playing was best captured and recorded in 1967 on an incredible album entitled After Hours, which was recorded in a student's dorm room on the campus of Hull University in front of an audience of about eight people. Nonetheless, and in many ways, even as impulsive as he may have been, Davey Graham was the first guitar hero … and certainly one of mine.

There will be a private funeral held for Davey Graham later this week. A public memorial service is being planned for January.


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