Gray and Buckner in L.A.; behind the camera
Well, I’m finally back. Alive on the Web again! Quite a lot happened in the last three months, and I’m really sorry that I wasn’t able to fix this no-Web-presence problem until recently.
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, this site used to be housed at a different server, but there were some problems with the domain for a few months (rendering the site inaccessible), so I had to move it to a new place. So here I am, at a brand new location: musicandmeaning.com. If you’re wondering where "music and meaning" comes from, it’s a reference to something that happens in the movie Howards End (it’s something that is not in E. M. Forster‘s novel, but one of the brilliant things that Ruth Prawer Jhabvala wrote for the screenplay. In the novel, there’s a crucial scene that takes place at a concert, but Jhabvala turned the concert into a lecture about music, entitled "Music and Meaning"). I like it because there are lots of layers/possible meanings to the phrase, plus on the obvious side, it makes sense for music-addicted me and the contents of this site.
What’s happened since the last time? Big things that come to mind: I’m working on a new writing project. That’s all I’ll say about that for now. Aside from that, I got to see David Gray with a couple of friends (hi Ed, hi Jay) when he made a local stop for his North American tour a couple of months back. I had a great time. DG was in top form and played many of my favorites that I didn’t think he would play (although he did not draw from his Lost Songs collection, unfortunately). And of course the "Please Forgive Me" experience was ridiculously fun. My friend Ed (who was not that familiar with DG’s repertoire aside from "Babylon") later commented to me that he’d never seen so many people "head-bang to a piano song."
I could write more but I don’t want to make this entry too long; plus there’s an old, "missing" entry about a Richard Buckner concert that I’ve included just below. I wrote it back in May but was never able to upload the file because of aforementioned server issues. So here it is now:
11 May 2001 — Greetings! I know that an update is long overdue, so here I am again. This time, though, I’m going to focus mostly on a concert I attended recently.
A couple of weeks ago, a few friends and I went to see Richard Buckner perform — it was an excellent show. He (as well as Eric Heywood, who played pedal steel guitar, electric guitar and electric mando) played for nearly two hours, including three long encore sets. The repertoire included a nice sampling from all four albums (Bloomed, Devotion + Doubt, Since and The Hill), as well as some new, unreleased (and in a couple of cases, still unrecorded) tunes from a forthcoming EP or album. I didn’t keep good track of all the titles but there was definitely an emphasis on The Hill, naturally — after all it’s the latest release. Both performers were in good form, and Heywood was really impressive with his accompaniment and solos. They both seemed to be really into the music, too (Isn’t it odd to see someone playing and s/he’s so far away from the music, and apparently not enjoying it? Well, that was thankfully not the case here). It was a really small venue, kind of a mid-sized room with a tiny stage, and my friends and I got there early enough to sit in the second row. Keep in mind that there were probably around 10-15 rows total, definitely less than 20.
After the concert, I was fortunate to talk to Buckner a little bit (i.e. I thanked him, gushed over his music, and basically tried not to ramble on). I think he might have sensed my nervousness, because he smiled and said thanks, and then kind of patted my shoulder as if to reassure me. He also graciously signed my copy of Since. I wanted to talk to Eric Heywood too, but he didn’t come down to chat with the guests. In any case, it was a memorable evening. If you ever have a chance to see Buckner in concert, I highly recommend it.
Buckner played two acoustics: I think both of them were Gibsons but I might be wrong about one of them (not familiar enough with Gibsons to tell you what models they were). He also had a red Danelectro U2, which he played pretty clean. It sounded surprisingly good. After the show, I took a look at the effects he used… among them he had a Boss Line Selector, two Boss Dual Overdrive pedals, a couple of delays, and a tuner. There was one another small black box but I couldn’t read what it was. Both acoustics were plugged into L.R. Baggs Para Acoustic D.I. boxes. I’m pretty sure there were at least two different Fender amps, one for Buckner and one for Heywood, but I didn’t check carefully. Don’t know what the acoustic pickups were, but both sound holes were blocked. I should have asked about them, huh? (Tangent: as I was looking at the pedals, one of the venue’s sound guys coiling mic cables saw me, smiled and said, "Sure are a lot of gadgets, huh!" as if I were about six years old, and I managed not to roll my eyes or laugh. I just paused, amused, and said, "Well, not really. It looks like he just has two of everything [for the acoustics]." The guy didn’t respond and left me alone after that. BTW, this is why I’m not naming the venue here, but you can probably figure it out by reading elsewhere…) Each of the amps was miked with a single Shure SM57, and I’m pretty sure that Buckner’s vocal mic was a Shure SM58; all going through the house board to the PA. I think the mics belonged to the venue.
Yes, I really enjoyed the Buckner concert. Could you tell?
Music of the moment: Quite varied, actually, but right now I’m mostly on a folksy kick. Richard Buckner (not surprisingly) still holds a spot in my CD player. I’m finally giving David Gray’s album White Ladder a break (gasp) for the time being (BTW, thanks to his newfound popularity, all of his previously out-of-print albums have been re-issued…I feel sorry for the people who forked over 50+ bucks for his old CDs on eBay). As for new material, I’m really looking forward to Buckner’s new album (coming later this year or next?) and to Gillian Welch‘s new album (released next week!). I have Jason Falkner‘s latest CD, Necessity at the top of my wish list right now, thanks to its introduction to me by Anne Litt of KCRW’s Weekend Becomes Eclectic. Thankfully she seems to play it every weekend!
Take it easy. See you soon.