Saturday, February 18, 2017

Resist!

In the four weeks since this regime has been in power, I've marched against the immigrant / refugee / Muslim ban and taken part in yesterday's general strike. (In fact, I'm even mentioned in a Village Voice article about the latter.)


Me in Washington Sq. Park; photo by Daniel Albanese / TheDustyRebel

In my last 'blog post, just hours before the inauguration, I expressed a willingness to give Donald Trump a chance, and a desire to have my concerns proven groundless. Well, we all know how that's turned out. Firstly, he's way too thin-skinned for the position. If the poor little snowflake can't take the same level of abuse that Barack Obama took from him and others without getting defensive and petty, then maybe it's time to retire. And stop the fascist attacks on the press. Maybe his die-hard fans believe that the media is their enemy, but true lovers of liberty know better. Sure, some outlets do show a bias, in one direction or another, and the media does share in the blame for getting this mess elected (as do we, the people) by not taking him seriously enough until it was too late, but it is clearly more important than ever that we have a free press that can hold his (and any) administration accountable for its actions. (If you want to let Trump's people know what you think about what they think about the media, take their survey here.)

In addition, the Petulant has appointed agency heads who seem intent on destroying those agencies (Betsy DeVos - Secretary of "Education"; Scott Pruitt - Administrator of the EPA; Tom Price - Secretary of HHS; Ryan Zinke - Secretary of the Interior... at least we avoided getting the Putz as Secretary of Labor). We get alternative facts lies almost daily from the Ministry of Propaganda's Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus, Stephen Miller, or Trump himself. Repeating something often and loudly enough does not make it any less false. And you're not going to distract us from Michael Flynn's very real and possibly illegal sanctions discussions with the Russian government before his short-lived appointment, or the Russian attempts to influence the election (which popular vote you still lost). House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz needs to investigate these issues, and Conway's Ivanka Trump commercial, and Donald's North Korea discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Abe out in the open at Mar-a-Lago.

Then there's the travel ban, which has already had a negative impact even on citizens and legal residents of the US. And Democratic Hispanic members of Congress being deliberately excluded from a meeting with the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a meeting one of them (Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL)) had called for in the first place. And the media blackout at some federal agencies (which happily resulted in some of those employees going rogue). And the blind eye regarding science, which probably has to do with all those non-alternative facts. And the absolutely asinine decision to go ahead with the Dakota Access and the Keystone XL pipelines, and to attack the unarmed civilians at Standing Rock. And baseless ranting accusations about voter fraud. And re-filling, rather than draining, the swamp. And potential conflicts of interest that Trump says presidents aren't subject to. And let's not forget the sad, pathetic wall.

Let's not lose sight of the big picture, either, or allow ourselves to become sidetracked. I don't want to consider, or believe, that the man approximately half of America voted into the White House is paving the way to a fascist state (through his own design or the Dark Lord Sauron Steve Bannon's or anyone else's)... but consider it I must. If the administration continues to insist on denying facts as produced by science or reported on by the press, and we just stand by and let them without holding them to account, then our constitutional federal republic is at risk of becoming... something else entirely.

I don't know yet if I'm going to attend tomorrow's "Today, I Am A Muslim Too" rally in Times Square, though I support it regardless. I am definitely taking part in the Washington, D.C. March for Science on Earth Day. I'm going to keep raising my voice in protest every time I think this administration does something to hurt what this country and its people stand for. Not everyone can make every (or even any) protest or rally or march, and I understand that... but we owe it to ourselves, and each other, and the nation (and the world!) to speak up, to stand up, to rise up- and to resist.

And hey, it's easy enough to take part in the Ides of Trump postal event.  :-)

Friday, January 20, 2017

We the Resilient

I'm no fan of Trump, to put it mildly, and I originally planned to write an angry protest song for Inauguration Day. However, last weekend I came across the "We the People" public art campaign, and a piece by Ernesto Yerena entitled "We the Resilient" really resonated with me. I ended up writing a song of the same name instead (lyrics here), and I think it's a little more 'people power' and a lot less 'impeach the president.' Give it a listen and let me know if you agree.


Not that I'm in the 'impeach' camp, not yet, at least. As I'm writing this, he's not even in office yet! I don't like his personality, I don't like what I've heard about how he treats and talks about and deals with other people, I don't like the positions he's publicly taken on many matters vital to the nation and the world (though he does flip-flop on some issues, depending on with whom he's last spoken)... but the fact is that he has not done anything as President of the United States yet. Words and thoughts are important, too, but let's wait for him to start taking some actions before we decide whether or not to condemn him.


I'm not expecting much. Everything leading up to this point tells me that his will be a disjointed administration, and while there may be some policy successes, there will almost undoubtedly be some stunning failures. Again, though, what he does beginning today may not be in line with what he's been saying for the past year and a half. I'm willing- no, I'm desperate to be proven wrong about him. Until I am, though, I stand ready to criticize where necessary, and caricature where humorous.


Monday, December 12, 2016

On Brazil and Christmas and the Album You Haven't Been Waiting For

Groot says, "Happy holidays!" Groot also feels that this would be an ideal time of year for you to buy my new double album, I'll Live.


Groot made me take seven photos before finally being happy with one

Christmas isn't usually the happiest time of year for me, but family and friends help me stumble my way through it. Thanks in advance. I've written two songs, "Christmas Lonely" and "The Discontent of My Winter," about feeling cold and abandoned during the holidays... and they're both available on I'll Live, which you can purchase from iTunes or Google Play or CD Baby. Yes, that was a shameless self-promotion. I may have released the album due to my own creative urges, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to sell some copies and to have other people hear it. If you're interested in a CD copy, I've got a bunch, so let me know!

I recently spent three weeks in Brazil, and I have to say I had a blast, and I'm so, so glad I got to see and spend time with family on both my mom's and my dad's sides. Despite mom breaking her foot after we'd only been there a week (true story), she was only slowed down, not stopped; of course, she ended up staying in Curitiba and not coming to Rio for two days with me as planned... but I did enough walking and eating and drinking (and getting sunburned) for the two of us. I even made it to the top of Corcovado, though visibility was poor and so was my timing; I ended up just missing my flight back to Curitiba!

I was not ready to head back to the States after twenty days. My aunts and uncle and cousins and everyone were so good to us, in Curitiba and in Ponta Grossa, and there were still so many more I didn't get to see... and more caipirinhas to drink! But I suspect it won't take another 15 years for me to go back again, and while I probably won't get to stay as long next time, I can hopefully see some places I didn't get to see this time around.

Speaking of seeing, the pictures from Brazil are all uploaded to the Gallery... of Death! and there are a lot of them! (Sorry, Facebook, but I'm just not going to post all my pics with you.) OK, I've fallen behind on actually captioning the Gallery pics... but they start with the one of the Universidade do Paraná, captioned "Curitiba, Paraná, Brasil." Take a look!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's My Birthday; You Won't Believe What I Do Next!

It's my birthday, and I'm giving you a gift: an MP3 version of "The Bite," the first single from my forthcoming album, I'll Live.

"The Bite" was the first song written/created by Greta's Unmentionables, the band for whom I play rhythm guitar (whenever we can get together).  The first day the four of us went into a rehearsal studio together in March 2014, I played them the opening riff, and we quickly built a song around it.  I finished up the lyrics later.  While we still haven't recorded our definitive version yet, I decided (with the band's blessing) to cover the song myself.  Let me know what you think!

Thirty-five of I'll Live's forty-two tracks are completed.  Yes, it's a big frakkin' album!  Another three are mostly done, and I should be able to finish the last few shortly.  While I do intend to create more music in the future, I may opt for EP and single releases rather than putting out another album, so I wanted to make this definitive.  The better songs from my 2004 debut, Joy in the New, will be included alongside tunes I've recorded since then.

For those who haven't really heard my music before... it's my music.  I've heard that my voice sounds a bit like Lou Reed or Frank Zappa or early David Byrne.  My sound has been compared to Talking Heads, R.E.M., Pete Townshend...  I think you can definitely hear certain influences in certain parts of certain songs, but in the end, I'm pretty sure I only sound like me.  I don't have a polished voice.  I don't play a lot of lead or solo guitar.  I do like to dabble in different genres of music.  I'm OK with all of this.

Oh, right, the song...  You can download "The Bite" here at ReverbNation until September ends; you'll still be able to stream it on the site after that.  I hope you like the track (which I will probably make available as an official single soon), and I'd love to hear your feedback.  And I won't bug you with another newsletter until the album's ready, before 2017 is upon us...


Happy birthday to me, and 'til next time... rock on!


Friday, September 2, 2016

Broken, Bruised, Forgotten, Sore...

I saw the Prophets of Rage on Saturday night, and went to the AFROPUNK Festival Sunday, and the aches and pains are finally subsiding now.

Saturday's show was my first time at Brooklyn's Barclays Center, and it's a decent venue for live music. My general admission ticket and I arrived early enough to get a spot very close to the front, as has been my wont lately, but in hindsight this wasn't the best show at which to do that. Things were fine when WAKRAT, one of Rage bassist Tim Commerford's side projects, took the stage; the vocals weren't always as loud or clear as they could've been, but it was still a damned fine set by a pretty hardcore three-piece, and the audience was fairly polite and enthusiastic. AWOLNATION turned down the rage a few notches but still offered up some great music. The Prophets' DJ Lord did some pretty phenomenal stuff with his turntables, offering props to Brooklyn's own late MCA and Jam Master Jay in the process, before the rest of the Prophets joined him on stage for an energetic "No Sleep till Brooklyn." 'Twas incredible to see Chuck D prowling around the stage and booming out his vocals, and B-Real's rapping and Tom Morello's guitar definitely brought the Rage.

After that, though, the crowd on the floor went berzerk and brought their own. Understandable, I know, and I really should've anticipated it, but I found myself being pushed forward, hard, and had to put a hand up against the barricade to keep myself from being crushed against either it or the guys in front of me as the band played "Prophets of Rage." The audience kept surging to the front, and we got packed tighter and tighter. By the time I realized my UP by Jawbone band had been scraped off my wrist by the mass of bodies, there was no way in hell I'd be able to see it on the floor, much less retrieve it. Oh, hell.

I tried my best to grin and bear it. I'd paid for my ticket, I wanted to see the band, and hey, I'd been in rambunctious crowds before, right? Uh-uh. Things got worse when they got to "Bombtrack," and I could feel the bruises forming as my shoulders, back, and sides were getting pummeled. By the time they started playing "People of the Sun," I was finding it hard to breathe, partly because I was being compressed against all the people and partly due to anxiety. I admit it: I decided to get out of Dodge, though once I'd squeezed my way off the general admission floor and found myself able to breathe near one of the stairways, I stood and watched as they performed another two songs. I ended up seeing a bit less than half their set, which was disappointing, but I don't think I could've put up with that for another hour.


the Prophets of Rage
Sunday at AFROPUNK got pretty intense at moments, too, but I didn't feel as unsafe or anxious as I did on the floor at Barclays. After grabbing a few empanadas from the Nuchas truck, I made my way over to the Green Stage and caught the tail end of the Suffers' set, and then Skye & Ross (from Morcheeba). They sounded great, but had nothing in common with the whirling dervishes that came next: Skunk Anansie! I'd heard good things about the band but had never really listened to their music; before they took the stage, a guy in the audience informed me that he'd waited 15 years to see them again, and they were amazing. And he was right. When their set started and Skin started running around in a shiny silver outfit, screaming like a banshee, I knew I'd found a new band to follow. People moshed, she crowd-surfed (and I got to help), and eventually, even with my calves still sore from the night before, I found myself needing to pogo, and so I did. Not alone, either. Then Skin came back out into the crowd after urging us all to crouch down, then she screamed at us to start jumping, and for a few brief seconds, I was in the same mosh pit she was. :-D I may, may, be in love with Skin. She's certainly gorgeous.


I think she was checkin' me out, too...
It took forever and a day for them to get the stage ready for the extravaganza that followed, but it was so worth it. Living Colour finally came out and did some of their hits and non-hits, including a Notorious B.I.G. cover, "Who Shot Ya?" They looked and sounded as good as the first time I saw them live waaay back in 1991, and Corey Glover still has some amazing pipes. The members of Fishbone started making their way onstage as the band lurched into James Brown's "Sex Machine," and Angelo Moore and the guys took over with a set of their own tunes after that. Angelo played a fucking theremin. And sax, of course. But a theremin! I'd never seen one played live, and even if I had, I doubt I'd have seen one played the way he played it. So much fun. These guys know how to party at ground zero, all right.

Bad Brains' guitarist Dr. Know, bassist Darryl Jenifer, and drummer Earl Hudson came out to raucous praise, and they did several BB songs along with Corey and Angelo and some of the other musicians. Yes, of course they started with "Sailin' On." Heh. All three bands rocked hard, with their own sounds and influences. And speaking of influences... George Clinton... George Clinton... the George Clinton joined this monster three-band-jam for a Funkadelic finale. More crowd-surfing, more moshing...


Night of the Living Fish Brains, with George Clinton!
I had to half-limp my way back to DeKalb and onto a Manhattan-bound R train, about an hour later than I'd expected to be leaving Commodore Barry Park, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Even with all the dust I inhaled (the dancing and moshing kicked up an unholy amount of the stuff) and the additional bruises I gained and the ringing in my left ear. And the lost UP band, which is taking some getting used to (I think I'm probably just going to wait and replace it with an Apple Watch). It was certainly a hell of a weekend for live music.

As always, more pics of these (and other) musical performances, and other stuff in general, can be found in the Gallery... of Death!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Blurry

I seem to have made an unconscious decision to make my life as much of a blur as possible lately. Maybe I want to get everything in before the impending Politipocalypse... In July, I went to three parties (despite knowing fewer and fewer people at each subsequent party), took in a few musical performances, saw "Ghostbusters" and "Star Trek Beyond" (both were very enjoyable), and trekked back out to Coney Island for some beach time. Made several batches of guacamole, too! I've got Dead Sara, the Boston Comic Con, Goli, the Prophets of Rage, and AFROPUNK lined up for August. September and October will see me attending a few more shows, including Amy Schumer the night before my birthday and Billy Joel the night after, Lindsey Stirling, Tania Stavreva, and Hinds, and hopefully a trip or two to the New York Renaissance Faire. And there'll be another trip in November...

Still working on my album in the middle of all this, of course. I'll Live is still comin' along, and I still anticipate releasing it before winter arrives.



In my last post, I'd asked if any of my musician friends and acquaintances would be interested in contributing a seven-second section of music and/or vocals to "A Blur," the song which will close the album (as opposed to "A Blurb," which will open it). I got one response. I love all of you, too. Heh. Regardless, I dig the way the music is turning out. From the pop punk of "Blond on Blonde" to the mellow jazz of "Too Loud to Be Eaten with the Naked Eye," from the surf rock (with electronic undertones) of "Down the Shore" to the holiday pop of "Christmas Lonely," from love and loss and life to politics and penguins and... giant giants, this album will run the gamut. The "Hate Theme from 'Waiting for X'" and "D.V." will finally see the light of day, and there'll be a new recording of the Aimee Mann-inspired "That's Just What I Am" and my own version of Greta's Unmentionables' "The Bite." I'm looking forward to getting this music out, and I hope you're looking forward to listening to it.

I've also been trying to drum up interest in an outing during Labor Day weekend to the Renaissance Faire. I always enjoy going, even alone, but I know some of my other friends are fans, too, and I think it'd be a lot of fun if a large group of us converged on the place and spent some time there together (and some time apart). Only one response to this so far, too... well, and also the one person I know who's at the Faire all the damn time anyway, so I know I'll see her. Heh-heh.

Some days, it gets wearying to do almost everything alone. Some days, it's hard to go to the party knowing that you're the odd man out. Some days, it'd be nice to have someone sitting opposite you at that table for two. Some days, friends seem so far away.

And you ask me how I'm doing... the unfortunate truth is that I'll live. ;-P

Monday, July 4, 2016

Join My Song?

Happy Fourth of July! How would you like to add seven seconds of audio to one of my songs?

I've gotten a lot of work done on the tracks for my upcoming album, I'll Live, over the past few days, and I had an idea for one of them, "A Blur." I know a lot of musicians and singers and dabblers in the musical arts; it'd be awesome if I could get some of them to contribute their own short bits to the song, in the repeated verse at the end.

It's a very simple piece, and you can download stem files for the drums, bass, guitar, and vocal parts I've recorded here. It's just an E5 and an A5 chord, and the line "Better that your life be a blur than a blurb!" at 136 bpm. I'd be delighted to add your vocal and/or instrumental recording to "A Blur," and of course your name (and URL if you want to share one) would be credited in the liner notes once I self-release the album later this year. Whatever you want to do that fits with the tempo and idea would be welcome, as simple or as complex as you want to be, and it doesn't need to be perfectly quantized and recorded at the highest bit-depth known to man or machine. And hey, it's only seven seconds...

Anyway, thought I'd ask. Please drop me an E-mail (andysilva@mac.com) if you'd like to take part or have any questions, and have a great July!