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Day two at South By Southwest 2008 began with the Keynote speech by Lou Reed (covered in an earlier entry). Following Lou Reed I headed six or seven blocks north to catch Jesca Hoop doing a live radio broadcast with Nic Harcourt. One of those free shows that drew only a handful of insiders, fans, and the curious. It was only noon, a bit early for many festival goers.
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“The painter’s whole morality consists of keeping his brushes clean and getting up in the morning. He wakes up with the light, tosses till the sun is overhead, then gets up and starts moving around. He works moving around. Drawing, engraving, and water-color sketching can be done seated. But oil painting must be done on foot, walking back and forth. It entails no inconsiderable amount of mild physical exercise and that among turpentine fumes, which keeps the lungs open. Hence your painter is on the whole a healthy and cheerful man. His besetting maladies are digestive, due to poverty, irregular meals, and undernourishment. He requires a lot of food. In middle and later life he sometimes has rheumatism. But he is seldom too ill to paint.
For all the years I've irritated, embarrassed, amused, and embarrassed more, my kids (and those around me) with painful amateur photography, there was no camera for me at South By Southwest this year. At times it was a blessing.
Other times it was painfully grueling. Cameras everywhere. In phones, on cranes, pockets, purses, prodding every one around them. Flash, no flash. Credentials, no credentials. You know how much artists like having their pictures taken. Most artists and venues were very lenient.
Had to see Jesca Hoop, scheduled to appear on a live radio broadcast at noon. First, curiosity brought me to the keynote speech given this year by Lou Reed. He was appearing in conjunction with a screening of Julian Schnabel’s "Lou Reed’s Berlin", which documents a recent performance of the 1973 album. Schnabel considers it “the most romantic record ever made.”
In a Q & A conversational format, Lou spoke with Hal Willner (music producer), bouncing from the root theory behind his early rock, to movies on ipods. A loosely connected, or disconnected, stream of personal insights on culture, music, and technology.
Skitty has cabin fever. She's been pulling her fur out. The vet recommended she wear an "Elizabethan collar" for a few days.
Skitty says, "This stinks."
She confesses she's very curious as to the contents of the classical music CD Eliot Spitzer allegedly wanted to use to set the mood in his hotel room on February 13th. What was he thinking of? Samson and Delilah? Inquiring minds want to know.
Sitting next to me at the Daniel Lanois show was a guy who looked surprisingly like Buddy Miller. I had seen Buddy a few times, and spoke with him at last year’s SXSW. The same baseball hat. Unruly white hair bouncing out underneath it.
Daniel Lanois is in a mold all his own as both a producer and guitarist. A drummer appears behind him, and the new buddy next to me turns and says, “this is going to be one great show. That drummer is Brian Blade. He’s from Shreveport Louisiana. He has a brother who is also a great drummer.”
James McMurtry has fierce dedication. SXSW began for me at the Coqueroo showcase at Mother Egan's. Small stage on the patio behind a deck with crowded tables. There is a chatter about the crowd. At a showcase of songwriters it seems a bit odd the songs take a back seat to the scene. James McMurtry stares down the chatter. His writing doesn't give in to commercial radio boundaries. In a moment, a song, he silences the crowd. There can be great power in uncompromised personal vision.
In less than four months, I’m flying off to China to sing in the Pre-Olympic International Choral Festival with the Rochester Oratorio Society. My group will be first U.S. choir in history to perform in Beijing’s Great Hall of People, a venue usually reserved for political events.
To get ready for the trip, I’m learning new music and reading Fodor’s latest travel guide. But nothing captures the spirit of a place like a novel or movie.
A faithful, sharp-eyed reader of this blog pointed out that in my recent post about singing, I never translated the Latin phrase from Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, “Tu devicto mortis aculeo.” This bugged her.
So here it is. It means “having blunted the sting of death.”