If You Must Go Out
Friday- Sunday: Blues for Challah: Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center (116 Johnson Rd. Falls Village CT)
Our fifth annual Jewish Grateful DeadFest explores and celebrates the universe inspired and embodied by the Grateful Dead – and makes the connections between that universe and our Jewish tradition and culture.
On one of the rare moments where I would consider religion again, a Jewish organization in Connecticut is deciding to make the obvious connection between folk music and Judaism come alive for their parishioners. People lose me, however, when they attempt to elevate the Grateful Dead to divine standing, not because I think it is blasphemous, rather, because the Grateful Dead is simply a folk band, but the tabs upon tabs of LSD that its followers have used over the years have caused them to see this band as something more. Still, if father Fred at Holy Family stepped up to the band stand at the Holy Family church picnic circa 1987 and started performing a polka version of “Ripple” with the Eddie Foreman Orchestra, I’m praying again. Imagine if instead of howling his “Let us (long pause) PRAY!” phrase every Sunday, Father Fred came out and said “Touch of (long pause) GRAY!” Try telling me that place wouldn’t erupt. I digress.
Saturday: Nari (Mass MoCA)
Producer Dave Liang, filmmaker Sun Yunfan, and musician Gingger Shankar’s documentary project combines animation and archival photos with live music to tell the story of Gingger’s mother and grandmother, whose collaborations with Ravi Shankar and George Harrison helped bring Indian music to the West.
I appreciated George Harrison’s fascination with the sitar and Ravi Shankar. Though Harrison’s fascination did not yield any of my favorite Beatles songs, Harrison’s fascination with Indian culture can be heard all over his masterpiece- and the best post Beatles solo album- All Things Must Pass. If I left the house, I would be at this show in a second after first hitting up the fabulous Chee’s Chinese restaurant in Adams or, perhaps, Desporadoe’s, my favorite weekend eat and drink.
Just Stay In
Listen to Tunes
Bob Marley: Exodus
Fucking awesome. Listen to as many Marley greatest hits albums as you wish, the experience doesn’t provide the satisfaction of hearing a complete Marley album on vinyl. Exodus melds mellow classics: “Jammin;'” “One Love / People Get Ready,” with political tracks: the title number “Exodus.” Jimmy Cliff’s the harder they come is an exceptional reggae album, and an underrated classic, but it is easy to why Cliff was so easily overshadowed by Marley once you hear this album.
Bing Crosby: Merry Christmas
Bing’s Christmas album, second, of course, to Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You featuring the underpaid and under credited Darlene Love, is simply magical. From the iconic “White Christmas” to the playful “Mele Kelikimaka,” which was not a part of the original album, Bing’s Christmas crooning can be enjoyed by seniors that remember Bing and kids that have yet to have their belief in Santa spoiled.
Nirvana: In Utero
How about three classics this week. In Utero does not have the punk rock charm of Bleach nor the mainstream appeal of Nevermind, rather, it was an effort by Cobain and co. to return to the raw, grungy sound of the bands Genesis while mixing in songs that easily stand as Cobain’s best. Start with “Serve the Servants,” Cobain’s prologue explaining how childhood peril and the inevitable aging process, brought him to this point, and stay for “Rape Me,” Cobain’s angsty “fuck you” to a record industry that milked every imaginable dollar out of Cobain. Of course Nirvana never finished touring for the album, and, sadly, the follow up to this effort- an album of duets with Michael Stype- never happened either. In Utero is a classic that sounds as fresh and as creative as the day it was released almost 25 years ago. I feel old.
Steely Dan: “The Boston Rag”
“Yacht Rock” was a brief revisiting of Steely and company, and I think it helped to bring back some much needed attention to Steely Dan as a brilliant touring band as opposed to a cult favorite. “Boston Rag” appears on Countdown to Ecstacy, the band’s second offering. Countdown is also memorable for being Steely’s return to their jazz roots where their first, and equally brilliant, album Can’t Buy a Thrill is more of a rocker. Steely has as many underrated B-sides as they have hits, and the “Boston Rag” helps to complete Countdown to Ecstacy. Take a listen, but make sure to find the album and listen to all of it.
Holiday Gift Ideas
Pie Face came roaring back this holiday season, I got it for my neice. Check out this classic commercial, which features all fun, unintentional double entendres of any old commercial.