With the goal of finding a local healthy arts and music community initiative, I went looking for local programs because there has been at least one in every city I have lived, and because I am personally more interested in and committed to music than most other cultural activities. Unfortunately, I was not able to find an arts and music-centered community-based organization. There are less than a handful of non-profits, like the Springer Arts House for drama and musical theatre as well as the River Arts Center for traveling musical acts. There are commercial chain businesses that specialize in music instruction, whether they be audio production or music instruction, and there is a music program in every public school in the local city and county. However, there are no community organizations focusing on alternative (read: non-mainstream) arts and music. Such an initiative should focus on the community that is not served by the conventional. It would serve political minorities and youth interested in artistic and musical self-expression that no outlet other than the above, outside of public schools, offers. Unfortunately, even the public schools are focused on conventional musical expression. That isn’t enough.
How would I create a healthy communities’ arts and music initiative? It could not be a one-person effort. It would require the efforts of a myriad of individuals, neighborhood groups, community groups, some local government participation and even some local businesses. Accordingly, this paper will be organized into the following sections: Determining health indicators, specific steps, people that should be involved, and what information will be needed prior to beginning such an initiative. While there are exceptional community toolkits available, some that I will consult for supporting ideas, the bulk of this healthy community arts and music initiative will be supported by the real-world asset analysis of Kretzmann & McKnight (1993) to conduct an asset-based assessment, rather than a needs assessments. Specifically, it is necessary to determine what is already available in the community, rather than operate from a disadvantaged viewpoint of what is needed and already lacking.
Circle Round the Signs
Bloodshot Records, 2016
At this point, I don’t remember how long Bloodshot has been around blessing us with Alt-Country of every possible variety that you can imagine. I do remember eating vegan dogs at the Bloodshot BBQs in New York during CMJ at the now defunct Brownies in the East Village to see many early legends, including Ryan Adams, with a rolled up farmer’s shirt and acoustic guitar, before his star shot into the stratosphere, and on South Congress in Austin during SXSW. Those BBQs were legendary and I hope I am able to attend another in the future.
Al Scorch is new to me, and since I have a little time to kill and Bloodshot keeps sending me emails, I figured Scorch and Bloodshot deserved a review, or what passes for one from me in 2016.
Bloodshot Records, 2016
Regrettably, I don’t think I have ever seen Fulks in concert, though I really need to. While he isn’t a songwriting factory like Ryan Adams (though brilliant a factory he is), Fulks is a great songwriter, and I am happy to see he continues to create. While most may not remember this, one of my favorite tunes is “F*ck This Town” chronicling his experience as a singer-songwriter in Nashville and their lack of appreciation of his talents. He was originally signed to Bloodshot early on, and left with great fanfare to a major label. After releasing one album on an unappreciative major label, he returned to Bloodshot and has never left.
Flowers and Grass
When I first moved to Atlanta from Asheville I somehow managed to find a Facebook listing for a show in a small club featuring Newman. It’s still one of the most memorable intimate shows I have attended in Atlanta. She’s still recording and just released Flowers and Grass. As a creative, I never like boxing other creative when doing so is narrow-minded and limiting. For those that care about such things, Flowers and Grass is all over the place.
The Best of Tara Fuki
Indies Scope, 2015
At once classical and folk, Tara Fuki is a duo consisting of Andrea Konstankiewicz-Nazir and Dorota Barová, both conservatory-taught cellists. With almost two decades of success behind them, they have toured almost everywhere in Europe and have recorded five very successful albums. They have been so popular in album and tour that their latest release is a best of, a reminiscence rather than a milestone, and while not usually my hard and fast rule or my favorite way to experience music when I have the opportunity to hear an artist’s original intentions in context, this is quite good (And admittedly, I have violated that rule several times over with my nerdist’s completist box sets of several artists.).
Piece of My Life
Deska Records, Indies Scope Distribution, 2015
Here we venture into musical territory that I need to explore more with a project influenced by Nine Inch Nails and Prodigy, so this review will be a challenge, but I like challenges and never run from them, though they may slow me down once in a while like this one does. This one’s a puzzle though because of my lack of exposure to more from this genre.
Indies Scope Distribution, 2015
Frankly, as much as I am not dancing tango or anything else at the moment which is overdue, way overdue, even I will admit that dancing is good for your health and your soul, and in the case of Mydy Rabycad’s Glamtronic, dancing is contagious, even in a chair, if not mandatory, and at that, it should be. And even chair dancing may be impossible after a while as you are compelled to rise and move uncontrollably.
The combination is quite incredible and listenable, on repeat, which this album received several months back. And still, happily, this album is difficult to get out of my fertile imagination where dancers are flying and dancing with each other to infinite heights around me... Read More
Ghost of You
Glacier and the City
Indies Scope, 2015
Simultaneously sweeping and minimalist at once, Ghost of You has been touring and playing festivals for the last few years, honing their musical chops and only stopping to release an EP in 2012. While it is trivial and trite to say this album sounds like nothing else out there, especially since even the most original music must build on the innovators that have come before and evolved to help us all reach this moment in musical time, Ghost of You is not playing and recording music by the numbers as I am wont to refer to bands that rise and fall by the strength of cover songs that sound exactly like their originals. No, these are wholly original, and while influenced, are not derivative.
Indies Scope, 2015
While it’s difficult to comment on lyrics sung in a language I don’t speak or understand (as it will be over the next few albums from a favorite European label, Indies Scope), I can comment on the melodies and the vocal impressions upon the musical moods and mine. The band and the album are new to me, but Čankišou’s Supay is evolutionary in ways that attract me to World Music and Rromani-influenced music in particular. While this isn’t Rromani specifically, the band and the label are Eastern European-based so the influence is probably there, and it is a nice and chaotic, musically cacophonic interlude.
Offhensky & Pleq
A Thousand Fields
No matter the day, no matter the year, Infraction releases are always a pleasure to receive, like some natural herb electrified through years of necromancy. They are all ambient, ethereal and wonderful in every way, but; given that I am not as avid a follower of such mindfulness music as I should be (and I obviously should explore the genre), this review will be challenging.
After you listen a few times, you may be overcome with the feeling of free floating just above the surface of a freshly-rained wide open field where the forest dwellers have just emerged after a storm. Yes, it is quite peaceful. And while it will remain for you to discover your own field of sanctuary as you listen deeply, the music continues to seep through all of us, becoming part of us in tiny little ways. And for those of you who are not stricken with slight synesthesia as I am, enjoy the music without all of the imagery. You may not know what you are missing, but enjoy the music anyway.