Lots Of Catching Up

I haven’t had a computer at home for over a week (!!) and now I do. I’ll explain more later, but the comments are back on (soon to be spammed again, I’m sure) and I will be updating the calendar section, etc. very shortly. Thanks to those who decided to email me. I’ll be emailing back soon. Amazing how shit piles up without a computer at home.

My Grandmother, The Bodhisattva

On Tuesday afternoon my grandmother had a heart attack while she was trimming the bushes. Less than a day later, with my mother, father, sister and her rabbi by her side, she passed away. On Thursday morning my brother and I got on a plane bound for our home in Kansas.

While it’s been rough at times, I find a certain amount of joy in knowing that she went the way she wanted to go, doing yard work, and with very little struggle or discomfort. She knew it was her time and she was ready. We should all be so fortunate.

Before I left Los Angeles, I wrote a eulogy for her. It started off with a quote by Daisaku Ikeda which says, “You mustn’t allow yourselves to grow old before your time. Please live with youthful spirit. That is what Buddhism teaches us to do, and how life ought to be lived.” I went on to explain that while my grandmother was not necessarily conscious of it, she embodied the spirit of a Bodhisattva. She had such a young spirit, which was absolutely infectious. She was always willing to listen or discuss whatever was on your mind, she helped make the world a better place in so many ways.

Kansas is so beautiful this time of year. Leaves are starting to change and you can feel a change in the air. It’s something that I miss, living in Los Angeles. While I’d never want to move back here, I do love visiting a certain times of the year. It doesn’t feel like home the way it used to. I still feel like it’s the place in which I grew up, but that’s about the extent of it. I have amazing memories of this house (and my grandmother’s house as well), but that’s kind of all that remains, aside from the fact that my parents and sister still live here. When I get homesick, it’s for my home in Los Angeles.

It’s getting late here. I’ve got another day and some change left in Kansas. I don’t know if I’ll post anything else about it while I’m here, but I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what home is and how important family is, so there you have it. I’m going to get some sleep now.

Damien Rice @ The Henry Fonda Theatre

I was one of the lucky ones to experience Damien Rice last night at The Henry Fonda Theatre. Despite some diffuclties with the sound, which left Damien singing without a microphone on a couple of songs, the show was nothing short of honest and beautiful. It was one of those occasions when I felt so very lucky to be in love with music.

When I first heard O nearly a year ago, I was pretty blown away. I don’t know if it’s something about Ireland that makes for good songwriters, but I noticed a lot of similarities between Damien and Fran Healy (from Travis). Both songwriters have an immense gift for truly connecting with their audience. They aren’t afraid to talk about what inspired their songs, which can be intense at times. Enough comparisons though, Damien is certainly his own man. Having read quite a bit about him, I know that he travelled around Europe for some time, no doubt rounding up inspiration and reflecting, only to return to Dublin to make a record. You can hear the wandering, not only in his voice, but also in the music itself.

His music is not just terribly romantic and lovely, but so smart and simple. Vocal harmonies by Lisa Hannigan and Vyvienne Long add impressively to Damien’s near perfect voice and guitar workings. O will certainly be one of my picks for best album of the year, and the show was one of the best I have seen all year.

Best of luck to him tonight at The Shortlist Music Prize award show. He’s certainly deserving of the honor.

The Next Big Thing

It’s not often that I sit down to write about music and feel like I just can’t do it justice. This is one of those times. When I took Ray Lamontagne‘s CD home from work last night, it was because I thought I had heard or read about him somewhere. If for no other reason, I saw it was produced by Ethan Johns and that was good enough for me. When I got around to playing the album, it was pretty late and I was exhausted. The minute I heard Ray’s voice my jaw dropped slightly and I was transfixed. By the end of the first song, I felt like sobbing.

As the rest of the album played, I was shocked by the soulful purity of his music. And when I say soulful, I’m talking Otis Redding soulful. No, I’m not kidding. It’s been years since I’ve felt so moved by an album, or even a song. I listened to the album two more times in its entirety. I couldn’t concentrate on anything else and was on the verge of tears nearly the entire time.

It’s the kind of music that’s untouchable, precious – like it’s not even possible for something to sound so beautiful. The stark production and instrumentation only work to compliment Ray’s mesmerizing voice. There’s just enough of this and not too much of that. You’ll be reading about Ray very soon and I’d lay down a pile of money that a lot of people are going to be saying the same thing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go listen to the album again.

Voting No On The Recall

As much as I hate the state (no pun) of things in California, the recall is just ridiculous. Frankly, I don’t care, which doesn’t mean I’m not going to vote, but I’m voting against the recall when I go to the polls next week. Schwarzenegger is an ass and has no business being the Governor of this state. I’d link to a bunch of no-recall sites, but frankly they are no better than the pro-recall sites. Educate yourself about the real candidates and make an informed decision. Don’t be a sheep, think for yourself, fight the power, blah blah blah.