Saturday, February 18, 2017

Cruel Frederick and Greg Hawkes - Two Albums I've Needed for Awhile

In the past two weeks, I picked up two albums that have always intrigued me from a distance. One was an album that was hard to find. In fact, prior to purchasing it, I only saw a physical copy once, and that was in the library of WRCT-FM, the radio station at Carnegie Mellon University. (Who knows if the record is there anymore?) The other is an album I've read about and heard about from friends, who gave it mixed reviews: It isn't all that good, it's fun, it's OK. Nevertheless, I decided I could no longer live without it.

Here are their stories.

The first record I mentioned was Cruel Frederick's Birth of the Cruel. The band was something of an off-shoot of the San Francisco group Slovenly. They started life as Slovenly Peter, a character in a European folk tale that also included a character named Cruel Frederick. So it only follows that the horn section of Slovenly (Peter) would go off on their own, recording under the name Cruel Frederick.

The group consisted of Lynn Johnston (saxophones, clarinets), Jacob Cohn (alto sax), Guy Bennett (bass, trombone) and Jason Kahn (drums). Johnston continued to appear on Slovenly's albums on SST Records (which also released Birth of the Cruel). In fact all three of them got some blowing space in "What's It Called" on the triumphant We Shoot for the Moon album. They also guested on a couple albums by Universal Congress Of, the best of the punk jazz groups on SST, which also featured Kahn (also a member of Trotsky Icepick for a time) and guitarist Joe Baiza.

Birth of the Cruel came out in 1988 and didn't get much distribution by some accounts. Maybe Greg Ginn figured most college stations and record stores, wouldn't know what to do with it. It could be due to the fact that, unlike Universal Congress Of, this wasn't groove-based jazz. This was free jazz squonk, plain and simple. And it was delivered with punk rock aesthetics, meaning things were loose and kind of sloppy. In an overall sincere take on "Moon River," Johnson's alto flubs the melody in a way that casts it more in a minor key,  not really following the arc of the Henry Mancini classic. In "The East is Red" he attempts to blow the melody in the register above his horn's natural key - and doesn't quite pull it off.

But for all its frenzy, time has been kind to Birth of the Cruel. There is a great deal of fun to be gathered from the album. "Jukebox in the East River" takes its name from the item that was allegedly tied to Albert Ayler when his body was pulled from that body of water, and Johnston utilizes the wide vibrato approach of his forefather. (This melody also sounds remarkably like the unlisted coda on UCO's Prosperous and Qualified though I could be wrong.)

The group's cover material, more than half of the album, puts their influences on display. Along with Mancini, they tackle Ornette Coleman ("Lonely Woman"), two by Ayler ("Ghosts," "Bells") and an explosive "Amazing Grace." In some ways, these seem like obvious choices, the "greatest hits" of free jazz. But remember that back in 1988, this music wasn't all readily available. Ornette's The Shape of Jazz to Come was, but one had to dig for Ayler recordings, hoping to make a score in a used record bin or on a questionable import reissue of an ESP album.

A few years before the CD boom reissued everything, these tunes still had some faint allure. It was an indication that these.... cats... were hip to something a little more esoteric. They all strike a chord with me because, at the time, I was still weighing the idea of being an alto saxophonist with a punk streak. (As opposed to a bassist in a post-punk band.) I, too, knew how to play "Lonely Woman" and "Ghosts." Had I heard this album, I might've pushed more for the punk-jazz side, trying to find these guys and play with them.(A couple years earlier, Saccharine Trust came to Pittsburgh on their final tour and got stoked when Joe Baiza and I got into a conversation about jazz. To a 18- or 19-year old music school dropout, it was good to know he was a kindred spirit.)

Or maybe not. Nevertheless, Birth of the Cruel is a fun album, due in no small part to the way Jason Kahn keeps things in focus. When I saw the album on Discogs, I knew it was time to pick it up, especially since it was only $5, and in beautiful shape.

Every nine months or so, I get on a Cars kick and pull out one for their first three albums. Panorama is my favorite. I thought for sure I had done an entry about it, talking about how it's an unheralded classic, with Ric Ocasek taking a sharp left turn, going for the weird blend of lyrics, new wave ideas and rock hooks, before he cashed in his chips and went all pop with Shake It Up and Heartbeat City.

I got Panorama for my birthday in 8th grade, a few months after it came out. My brother Tom had the first two albums on 8-track (!) so I knew their stuff really well and felt like we were keeping up with them. By the time Shake It Up came out, my tastes were changing, it was low on my priority list and I never bought it. (I did buy in for $1 about 15 years ago, but never got around to listening to it.)

This is a lot of back story, but it's worth it.

During college, my friend Joel was on a Cars kick and he and my friend John got me to fully appreciate  Panorama for the artistic work that it was. Up until then, you could say I was just taking it for granted. As we expounded on it, I remember the subject veering towards Niagra Falls, the solo album by Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes. I recalled a lukewarm review in Creem when it came out, and everyone in the room seemed indifferent to the idea.

Well, the Cars kick resurfaced several weeks ago, and was still going strong last week. Really strong, as in listening closely to these songs I've heard dozens of times (I pulled out the first album and Candy-O too) and marveling at the song arrangements. Greg Hawkes' keyboard parts really stuck out so on a whim, I looked him up on Facebook. Why not strike up a friendly - not creepy or smug - conversation with him. A quick search of youtube yielded a video interview where he seems pretty down to earth, and funny. HE PLAYS THE UKULELE!

Sure enough, he has a personal profile. But my hopes of being a friend were thwarted because he couldn't accept any more requests. FIE!

This course of events made me all the more curious to get a copy of his solo album, Niagra Falls. Surely Jerry's Record would have a copy or two of it. The answer is yes, but it took some hunting. In the Cars section - nothing. The H section - definitely nothing. I think I even scoured the new wave H section. One option remained - Back stock.

Sure enough, right next to Richie Havens, there was Mr. Hawkes, four copies of him in fact. And they went back to the days when Jerry priced his records at $2.83, since tax took it up to $3 exactly. I opted for the copy still in shrink wrap with a sticker on it (as seen in the picture.)

Time has also been good this record. While it might not be a gem that was unfairly neglected at the time, it's nevertheless a fun listen. Hawkes plays everything on the album - keys, a little guitar, drum machines, a few vocals, sadly no saxophones - but it's more than a bunch of sketches with a bunch of overdubs piled onto them (the solo album syndrome). These are instrumental songs. "Ants In Your Pants" has a bit of a videogame sound, but it's catchy too. The vocoder vocals on "Voyage Into Space" beg the question: Does Tobacco, the reclusive Pittsburgh musician who also records with Black Moth Super Rainbow, know about this album? Did it inspire him? If not, he should get up to Jerry's and grab one of the other copies.

Even the lyrics on "Jet Lag" ("Jet lag/ it's a real drag," and that's it) are forgiveable. While he might have been slagged at the time as "no Ric Ocasek in the lyric department," today it sounds more like Greg knew what he was doing. Part of the fun was that it was so ridiculous a couplet.

On the same day I bought Niagra Falls I found the Cars' reunion CD Move Like This at the library, which is also really great, just like one might hope. And I also finally listened to Shake It Up. It was time.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Mostly Other People Do the Killing - Bonus Tracks, um, I mean Bonus Quotes

You can't print everything. That's a valuable lesson I learned from a journalism teacher during college. It's something I think about a lot after doing a great interview and knowing that only a few, choice quotes will make it into the article.

This week, Pittsburgh City Paper ran my interview with Moppa Elliot, the bassist of the jazz group Mostly Other People Do the Killing, who are coming to town next week. With a 500-word limit, I could only put so much in the article, and tried not to delve too deep into technical details of their music. So I figured it's time to bring out some thoughts that were left on the cutting room floor. In particular, I wanted to spotlight Elliot's thoughts on Blue, MOPDtK's note-for-note recreation of Kind of Blue, Miles Davis' revered classic. In some ways, Elliot had a lot to say about it, but I also wish that I had gotten him to open up a little more, and that I had asked a few devil's advocate questions. I also included his thoughts on why he names his compositions after Pennsylvania towns (though not the "big" ones like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh). Details on the show can be found in the CP link.

Tell me about Blue. How did it come about? Were you guys just sitting around and somebody said that it was a cool thing to do?

Elliot: That's actually exactly what happened. We do a lot of sitting around talking about a lot of crazy random things to do, 90% of which we don’t do because they’re stupid. [Blue] was one where we came up with an idea and some time went by, and we brought it up again. Instead of sounding stupider and stupider like many of our ideas do, it sounded better and better. The more we thought about it, the more interesting it revealed itself to be. 

And it’s proven to be this never-ending wormhole of… I think it’s a really good piece of art in that it means all kinds of stuff to all kinds of people. And it facilitates all kinds of thinking about all kinds of things. Everywhere I go, that’s what everyone wants to talk to me about. And everybody wants to talk about it for a different reason. Which I think is a testament to the fact that it was a good idea. Everybody has a strong opinion and very few people’s opinions about it overlap and I think that’s all good.
We thought about it for years before we did it and it took us four years to do it. So that idea was floating around for a very, very long time. Which was part of making sure this was a good idea before we actually did it.

Why did it take four years - for accuracy?

Elliot: Well, that’s a whole angle right there, where it’s like, we could keep working on it the rest of our lives and it would never be right. It’s literally impossible to do.

The document that we released was as good as we could get it right then. We’ve also jokingly – and this does not seem like as good an idea as a joke -  of doing it again. It would be, you know, better but still not the thing. The thing that’s out, that people can listen to, is the document of the best we could do right then, given the constraints of time and having lives and the whole thing.

I wondered if it was supposed to be a piece of artistic commentary, relating to jazz as "America's classical music" and what that would mean if you really stuck to that idea.

Elliot: That is one very solid angle that I’ve thought a lot about: Taking certain aspects of the jazz world and pushing them to their logical extreme, and then everyone freaks out. And you you think, "Oh, okay, cool. So where’s the line?" At what point between here and, you know, Branford Marsalis redoing A Love Supreme or Chick Corea redoing Return to Forever, or …. I could list any number of tribute projects right here. Where does it stop being okay? That, I think is an incredibly interesting conversation because everyone will give different answers. But I think a lot of the other things I mentioned are equally stupid. But obviously not everyone agrees with me and that’s awesome!

Are you always going to name your songs after cities in Pennsylvania?

Elliot: I’m in no danger of running out. I think trying to give profound titles to instrumental compositions is a little bit silly. It’s a little bit manipulative because you're telling the audience what to think before they hear the music. Titles create association. I wanted to have something completely unrelated and arbitrary as a titling system so that anyone trying to read into meaning in the titles is clearly barking up the wrong tree because they’re just dumb names of Pennsylvania towns. So that way there is no connection and now we can just listen to music. Either that or you do the [Anthony] Braxton thing where you give [the compositions] weird codes and numbers that mean something to you but no one else. That’s another good strategy. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CD Review: Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio - Desire & Freedom

Rodrigo Amado Motion Trio
Desire & Freedom
(Not Two)

"Freedom is a two-edged sword of which one edge is liberty and the other is responsibility, on which both edges are exceedingly sharp."

That excerpt from Jack Parsons' Freedom Is A Two-Edged Sword appears on the liner of Rodrigo Amado's new CD. It was published was in 1946, a good decade and a half before free jazz of any type came into its own. Parsons most likely wasn't talking specifically about music when he wrote it, but of course it does speak directly to the music. While some might think disparagingly that free improvisation does away with any type of listening skills and just goes for broke, the best examples of it betray an unspoken understanding between the participants. They have a responsibility to each other and the music to use their musical liberation in a way that leads to some new conclusion.

Rodrigo Amado understands that connection. The tenor saxophonist is a native of Lisbon, Portugal where he's been an active part of the free jazz scene, taking part in the earliest releases on the Clean Feed label. (More biographical info can be found here.) I reviewed a previous disc by the Motion Trio that added Jeb Bishop back in 2014. They've also performed with trumpeter Peter Evans. Desire and Freedom features the trio - Amado, cellist Miguel Mira, drummer Gabriel Ferrandini - stretching out on three tracks which take their names from ideas in Parsons' treatise.

"Freedom Is a Two-Edged Sword" sounds spontaneous yet it begins with Amado working on an idea that he reshapes and bends, returning regularly to a center. His tone is clear, not rough and noisy, but after about four minutes he starts blowing staccato altissimo notes. The trio never gets too frenetic, though Mira consistently plucks rapid countermelodies behind Amado, and Ferrandini does cut loose.

"Liberty" comes at it from a different angle. Cello and drums begin with upper register plucking and clattering respectively, while the tenor eventually slides in, ruminating with long, tender tones. The contrast between the rhythm section and the saxophone keeps things exciting. Eleven minutes in, the trio starts to get a bit wild but Amado still resides in a melodic area rather than going from shrieks.

"Responsibility," the longest track at 20 minutes, begins with a two-note tenor line that sounds vaguely reminiscent of an Albert Ayler theme. Amado doesn't go for that over-the-top delivery but the trio delivers the disc's wildest moments here. But even when they sound free, all their lines still feel connected, like their rapport can be heard, even on a recording. Interestingly, they sound like they reach a crossroads around 11 minutes, as if they could wrap things up right there. Instead they reconvene and assess - going back in for another excursion that includes a cello solo and more tenor wails. It was well worth it.

In addition to a compelling set, Desire & Freedom comes, like other Not Two discs, in a heavy cardboard gatefold sleeve similar to the layout of the US International Phonograph label.

Monday, February 13, 2017

CD Review: Ingrid Laubrock - Serpentines, Crump/Laubrock/Smythe- Planktonic Finales

Ingrid Laubrock

Stephan Crump/Ingrid Laubrock/Cory Smythe
Planktonic Finales

As I began this post last night, the Grammy Awards were being handed out. Downloads of music were reportedly greater than CDs sales over the past year. That means most people listen to the music in a completely different way than they did ten or more years ago. Albums don't really matter, and forget about cover art. That went out with the 20th centure.

Don't mention this to anyone in Europe, especially the jazz fans. On further thought, do tell them. I'd like to hear what their reaction is. They'd probably say we Americans don't appreciate a good thing, treating music like disposable, expendable bits of entertainment.

While record labels continue to be antiquated by the general public in the states, one label in Switzerland continues to churn out albums at such a rate that even their devoted supporters (Hi!) have trouble keeping up with them. A quick look at this blog will show that I get the chance to write about a release once in a while, but there are plenty more out there. Aside from the ones I reviewed in the past twelve months, I dug the Fred Frith Trio's Another Day in Fucking Paradise (for, among other things, a great album title), the Musical Monsters disc (which unearthed a 1981 performance by Don Cherry, John Tchicai, Irene Schweizer, Leon Fancioli and Pierre Favre) and Jim Black's The Constant. Black also just released a new electric project called Malamute (look for my review in an upcoming JazzTimes).

Saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock released her Serpentines project in November, followed this month by her collaboration with bassist Stephan Crump and pianist Cory Smythe, Planktonic Finales. Both discs complement each other while also showing different sides of the creative composer and improviser. Any label that will invest in an adventurous artist in that short a time period isn't going to have any regard for mass acceptance or sales anyway, just the music.

Serpentines puts Laubrock's tenor and soprano (and bits of glockenspiel) in the company of Peter Evans (trumpet, piccolo trumpet), Craig Taborn (piano) and Tyshawn Sorey (drums). Rather than utilizing a bassist, Laubrock brought in Dan Peck on tuba. Also along for the adventure are Sam Pluta (electronics) and Miya Masaoka (koto), who float in and out of the five tracks. Come to think of it, most of the players do that as well. The two-part "Pothole Analytics" begins with pointillistic sounds from the horns, jutting out without really cohering just yet. Things start to gel in part two, with soprano, trumpet, tuba and piano moving in parallel lines. Even Sorey, who can fit into any setting, seems to have a written part that drives things along. As quickly as things picked up, they also die down in the final minute.

"Squirrels" could have been banded into two tracks, like "Pothole Analytics" since the 15-minute piece has two distinct parts. After another rollicking soprano/piccolo trumpet conversation that appears to move from free to structured, the second half of the piece gets spare and open. Peck's tuba and Masaoka's koto create a pensive sound to which Pluta adds some electric static. Sometimes musical, sometimes noisy, it adds to sound and, at one point, makes the disc sound like it's defective. The rest of the band slowly eases in, with Laubrock casually joining the crew to close it up.

The group stretches out on the other two tracks with some fine moments, though things come up a little short. "Chip in Brain" is a dark tone poem built largely on low, long tones from Peck.  The combination of Taborn and Masaoko create some harplike sounds but as Evans moves from intermittent blasts to his own long tones, things never completely catch fire. The title track starts at a high level - with two minutes of free band blowing. Then things pull back to feature the piano and koto in an understated combination. It's engaging in its spareness but it doesn't end on any type of grand statement; it merely winds down.

Stephan Crump (who plays with Vijay Iyer and leads his own Rosetta Trio and quartet Rhombal) has released several intimate, free improvised discs for Intakt (with Steve Lehman and in Secret Keeper with Mary Halvorson). The seeds for Planktonic Finales were sown when Laubrock invited Crump and pianist Cory Smythe to her rehearsal space to play. Smythe has a background in classical music but played on Tyshawn Sorey's two recent albums, proving his flexibility as an improviser. The natural chemistry between the players worked so well that they attempted to recreate it - or perhaps continue it - by going into the studio.

In some ways, Planktonic Finales resembles Serpentines. It often moves slowly, casually, so as not to rush anything. "With Eyes Peeled" opens the album like an exposition, with each player figuring out the space between them. But more direction comes with each track, as if the whole set was originally recorded as a complete 54-minute piece and divided into 11 tracks later.

When Laubrock switches to soprano on "Sinew Modulations" her languid tenor sound is likewise transformed into a plucky attack, followed by some walking bass from Crump and some Monk-like interjections from Smythe. On "Through the Forest," the piano rises and falls, abruptly dropping out at one point, which gives the music a good accent. After exploring the space methodically for awhile, the trio finally cuts loose and wails on "Bite Bright Sunlight," but in another sly maneuver, they stop just shy of two minutes, knowing there are other roads to take.

Both of these albums keep the surprises coming. Some of them might not be discovered until you've made several returns to the disc. That type of approach might not be rewarded with statuettes, but as long as it keeps coming, let's consider ourselves lucky.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Remembering Dave Vucenich

In two months, I've now lost three friends from the local music scene.  Richard Schnap passed around Christmas and Karl Hendricks also passed on January 21. Now this week, the news came that Dave Vucenich has left us too. At 50, he was about my age (I'll be there in October), a little older than Karl, younger than Richard. All of them were way too young. Scott Mervis wrote a great obituary about him for the Post-Gazette here. Dave and I weren't tight but we were friends because with a personality like his, it was easy to warm up to him. So I wanted to share a few thoughts.

Dave, affectionately known as Dave V around town, played bass with the Mt. McKinleys and, for a time, the Cynics. He also worked at a few landmark record stores around Pittsburgh, Eide's Entertainment and Jerry's Records. Like many garage rockers, he was well-versed in the all sorts of obscure bands that had put out great singles that one might otherwise miss. Instead of being jaded or snobby about his knowledge, Dave was always very down-to-earth, as excited to share information with people, much like he probably was when hearing those records for the first time. In fact, every time we talked, I think Dave always had a smile on his face and an upbeat mood, always willing make small talk about music.

I don't often bust out the Electric Prunes' Underground album but on the rare occasions that I do, I think of Dave. One time I was wandering around Jerry's Records when that album was playing, and the two of us shared thoughts on it. In particular, the Prunes' goofball country song "It's Not Fair" was on. In a moment that could only be attributed to vinyl fanatics, I can remember that it was clearly a stereo copy of the album because the spoken word part was only coming out of one speaker so it was easier to hear, unlike my mono version, where it's a little buried. Dave and I probably talked about that fact. There was also one time, when a mono copy of Velvet Underground and Nico was on and we talked about the mono v. stereo case for that. I almost offered to buy the record off the turntable, though I eventually thought better of it. (I had a stereo copy at home and figured the mono would be a tad pricey.) All of this really is minutiae but talking to someone like Dave made it both interesting and fun, something that you enjoyed sharing with others.

But Dave should go down in history for his bass playing. The man was solid, with a sense of time that was ideal for the type of music he played. And the wild thing about Dave was that he usually played in the upper register of the bass. That was definitely not in keeping with garage bands, which are usually all about a low, raunchy bottom-heavy sound. In the early '90s he had played with the band Uncle Sydney, but I didn't really take notice of him until a few years later when I saw the Mt. McKinleys. Watching him play an octave higher than you usually hear, I remember thinking, what are you doing, man? But he did it with such authority - a full sound, excellent time - that he altered my idea on it. To the point where, when I take things up an octave like that for variety's sake, I think about Dave doing the same thing.

I'm realizing now that I never got to tell him that. Damn.

Thanks, Dave. I hope you and Richard Schnap are hanging out, trading Cynics stories and listening to music together; music that Karl is handing you.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

CD Review: Bobby Previte - Mass

Bobby Previte

Bobby Previte has never been a musician to stay in one place. Feel free to jump back to a review of his 2010 album Pan Atlantic here, to get a full grasp of his oeuvre, and my thoughts on it.

If you don't read the link, that's fine too because nothing will prepare the ears for Mass, which re-imagines 15th-century composer Guillaume Dufay's choral piece Missa Sancti Jacobi in tandem with the inspiration of Olivier Messiaen's pipe organ music. The Rose Ensemble, a 11-piece chamber vocal group appears throughout the whole album. Their performance and the blend of inspirations, in and of themselves, don't sound too far-fetched.

The group Previte put together is another story altogether. Guitarists Stephen O'Malley, of Sunn O))) and Don McGreevy, of Earth, factor heavily into the music. In fact, they threaten to mow it down, along with Jamie Saft (guitar, keyboards), Mike Gambale (guitar), Marco Benevento (keyboards) and the leader himself (on his usual drums, although he doubles on everything else at some point throughout the sermon).

It wouldn't be too out of line to say the band plays metal - progressive metal or just plain old heavy metal. These are definitely power chords that build thick musical slabs. Of course, being Bobby Previte, the music is more than that type of description. Only one song features anything close to a stock metal solo, with hammered fretwork and sprays of notes. "Offering" briefly goes into that, but it comes halfway through the album, and O'Malley also steeps his solo in feedback. The cliche factor is nonexistent.

The music shifts between the tranquility of the choir - indeed they sing beautifully, almost as if they're oblivious to the rabid guitars that surround them, sometimes playing in completely different time than the voices. Benevento alternates between the Messiaen-inspired pipe organ and the Rheem organ, which in nothing else recalls Richard Wright's textures with Pink Floyd. While things shift frequently between dynamics and textures, the various sections get repetitive at times. Of course, this shouldn't be surprising because Dufay didn't know about verse-chorus-bridge structures back in the 1400s. Besides, the way the guitars bounce, in "Offering," between a chugging power chord and stop on a time for a 3/4 break gets catchy after awhile. Previte adds some other striking sections, like "Agnus Dei" where the Rose Ensemble is accompanied only by his wild drumming. And the pipe organ ends that movement on an ominous note.

The heaviest, most challenging track is the final one. "Communion" starts with a droning pedal chord that sustains for the entire 12 minutes. O'Malley unleashes a vicious solo of feedback (created with a wall of amps in the studio), followed by two solid minutes of nothing but the droning organ, creating suspense - or exhaustion. After the choir returns to bring it all together, O'Malley goes back for a little more noise, and the moment that seemed inevitable from the beginning finally happens: The 11 members of the Rose Ensemble scream like the cathedral is collapsing onto them.

Then there's 17 seconds of silence.

Then it's over.

Mass is not an easy album to listen to. But no one said expressing maintaining faith is easy. (Somehow the release of this album so close to Martin Scorsese's Silence seems like more than coincidence.) Besides, this is hard to turn off, even in the most brutal moments.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Winter Jazzfest - My Report

And another thing that showed up this week - my lengthy report on traipsing around New York City for Winter Jazzfest 2017 last month. Here it is. 

City Paper Story on Karl Hendricks

Following on last week's personal stories about Karl Hendricks, I wrote a piece for Pittsburgh City Paper, with memories from his bandmates, collaborators and dear friends. The article can be found here, though if you're in Pittsburgh, I strongly suggest getting the hard copy. That way, you get to see Wayno's cover art in all its big, tactile splendor.

I usually get wigged out when trying to write anyway. This story was particularly challenging to my head, as I wanted to make sure I produced a good, wide-ranging portrait of what Karl meant to people. There were several kudos online the morning it hit, so I suppose I did pretty well.

Last Saturday was the memorial for him. The comment I heard from a few people was that it was the most uplifting memorial that ever was. Brillobox was wall-to-wall people when I got there, around 4:00, two hours into the "friends and family" portion of the event. I don't see shows there often that are that jam-packed. People came from as far away as Portland for it. Actually, one guy was in from Finland, but he wasn't just in town for the memorial. His sister-in-law just had a baby.

While most of the folks that I saw might not have exactly been really tight friends with me, enough time had passed that we were just glad to see each other again, which kind of goes with my credo about the way to cope with the loss of a loved one - look around you at who's here and appreciate them. I think Karl would appreciate that.