I've been reading the painter Eugene Delacroix's Journal again lately for inspiration. I think what makes it so great is his absolute belief in the power of art and his total immersion in the experience of being an artist, and a painter in particular, though he does talk about music a lot. Here's a quote:
"...art is no longer what the vulgar think it to be, that is, some sort of inspiration which comes from nowhere, which proceeds by chance, and presents no more than the picturesque externals of things. It is reason itself, adorned by genius, but following a necessary course and encompassed by higher laws."
The journal is also full of strong opinions about art, literature, music, and people in his social sphere. It also reflects a joy of life, commitment to had work, and an appreciation of nature which is noble. I would recommend this for everyone, and particularly for artists of all kinds.
posted by Greg 9:38 AM
Sunday, March 10, 2002
On Friday night I got a chance to see a show that won't soon be forgotten or repeated. It was the triumphant return to Hollywood of the original lineup of The Blasters! Here's the LA Times story about it. The first concert I ever went to was The Blasters and Los Lobos at the Country Club in Reseda, must have been about 1981. I first heard them on Rodney on the Roq and bought their first album. I turned my dad on to it and that's why he took me to the Country Club. I was transformed by that show. They became my favourite band and I was able to see them two more times before they broke up in 1985. Rhino is releasing a new CD called Testament featuring their three studio records and one live ep on two discs, and this occasion prompted a five date reunion tour which brought them back to Hollywood at the House of Blues. The sold-out crowd was ecstatic in anticipation, crowded like sardines near the stage. It was one of those times where you think that there's no other place in the world you'd rather be. The curtain opened to a dark stage with a spotlight on a velvet draped chair holding a saxophone, a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label, and a picture of the late Lee Allen, a Los Angeles R+B legend who played saxophone with the Blasters and taught them about the blues. The house system played an old sax driven single by Allen in memory of the sixth Blaster, invoking his spirit in a tender way. The band leading brothers Dave (lead guitar) and Phil (vocals, r guitar) Alvin never could get along, and their animosity was clear from the minute they came on stage. But this tension worked for them and they both played like they had something to prove. From the first bars of "One Red Rose" off their second album, "Non Fiction," you could tell that the magic was still there and we were in for a rocking night. Dave is one of my biggest influences on guitar, his signature style being two note at a time lead figures, not flashy but very powerful. His playing proves that less is more, especially for the stripped down r+b songs that the Blasters play. Phil's voice is totally unique and also a big influence for me, full of emotive power punctuated by Hank Williamsesqe yodels. Pianist Gene Taylor echoes Dave's lead style with rollicking straightforward piano solos and flourishes, and the rhythm section of John Bazz on bass and Bill Bateman on drums was as tight and powerful as can be. Bateman showed his virtuosity with swing beats and other complex modulations seamlessly wedded to the driving beat. They played all the favourites, including "American Music," "Border Radio," "So Long Baby Goodbye," "Long White Caddilac," and the show stopper "Shakin'." Dave effortlessly filled in the missing saxophone parts with his guitar and further proved his mastery in extended solos on several songs. Playing a white Stratocaster with a rosewood fretboard through a Fender Super Reverb, he would build up the tension over several progressions and punctuate it with a little bent knee hop that sent the crowd into hysterical hoots of appreciation. They came back for their first encore with "One Bad Stud" and then left the stage again before being coaxed out for and extended rendition of their signature tune, "Marie Marie." It was the kind of show where no-one really wants to leave when it's over, they just linger, repeating the word "wow" and shaking their heads. The ageless quality of roots music and the obvious excitement and tension of the players meant the there was none of the sad retro patina that many reunion shows have. This was a vital testament to one of the most under-appreciated bands ever. Since they don't get along, it's doubtful that they'll be doing this again any time soon, which made it even more special. And the transcendent quality of the music was a powerful re-affirmation of the power of rock and roll. Thank You Blasters!!!!!!!!!!!!!
posted by Greg 3:36 PM
The above image is by the German Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich. I saw a great painting by him at the Getty yesterday and it reminded me how much I like his stuff.
I've had my eye on this great new Hieronymus Bosch book for awhile, and I just got it with a birthday gift certificate from ma-in-law. It's an awesome collection of the complete paintings and drawings, with lots of details of the crazy creatures that inhabit his paintings. There is a website associated with the book called www.boschuniverse.com which is pretty extensive and interesting, definately worth checking out. There's even a shockwave game you can play.
posted by Greg 9:39 AM