The bizarre rise and fall and resurgence of tiki bars and cocktails is an interesting history that starts with two men, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron, who traveled to the South Pacific and brought back some "island culture" to the United States with them in the 1930s, continuing on with the craze really booming after WWII vets returned from tours overseas. With the ebbs and flows of popularity, the cultural appropriation in "Tiki culture" has often been overlooked, as to the Māori mythology and meaning behind Tiki carvings and imagery and Hawiian culture of leis and luaus. Let's talk Tiki bars: harmless fun or exploitation. [Soundtrack: Les Baxter's Ritual Of The Savage ( 1951) and Martin Denny's Exotica (1957)] [more inside]
Indie auteur Richard Linklater pleasantly surprised audiences with his charming 2003 comedy School of Rock, in which a struggling musician (High Fidelity co-star and Tenacious D frontman Jack Black) hijacks a 4th grade prep school class and inspires them to become a killer rock band. Buoyed by likeable characters, a great soundtrack, remarkably talented kid musicians, and Black's lengthy, irrepressible, almost improvisational classroom scenes, the film earned rave reviews and inspired scads of copycat programs around the world (as featured in the '05 documentary and reality series Rock School). But while the cast kicked ass at their ten-year reunion concert in 2013, plans for a sequel fell through. Everyone loves an encore, though. And so this weekend saw the Broadway debut of the Andrew Lloyd Webber stage musical starring Alex Brightman, with a TV adaptation to air on Nickelodeon next year. Because there's no way you can stop... the School of Rock. [more inside]
In 2004, GrooveLily ("just your typical violin/piano/drums power-pop trio") debuted Striking 12, a musical set on New Year's Eve. The story weaves between the performers putting on the show; a modern-day grumpy guy who doesn't want to go out on New Year's Eve; and "The Little Match Girl," by Hans Christian Andersen. You can listen to the entire thing on Bandcamp. [more inside]
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg turned 50 this year. The movie in full. Or here: Part 1 Part 2. (These are not tears. There's a draft in the room making my eyes water.) Reviews: Songs in the Key of Everyday Life/Jonathan Rosenbaum/Chicago Reader, Slant, Ebert. [more inside]
Since the taxonomical work of Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs* in the early twentieth century, organologists have classified musical instruments into four major categories, each distinguished by its primary sound-producing mechanism: idiophones (vibrating body), membranophones (vibrating membrane), chordophones (vibrating strings) and aerophones (vibrating air columns). Beyond these basic divisions, scholars have proposed such logically consistent additions as electrophones (for electronic instruments) and corpophones (for the human body as a source of sound). We propose a seventh category: fictophones, for imaginary musical instruments. Existing as diagrams, drawings or written descriptions, these devices never produce a sound. Yet they are no less a part of musical culture for that. Indeed, fictophones represent an essential if hitherto unrecognized domain of musical thought and activity, and it is in order to catalog these conceptual artifacts that we have established the first institution of its kind: The Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments.
Anatomy of a Song (1976) is a half hour documentary (part two here) about Stephen Sondheim's song Someone in a Tree, from the musical Pacific Overtures. Sondheim talks about the challenges and thought processes behind what he calls his favourite of his own songs. See the original 1976 show in full here. Also see this earlier post on the same song.
Awesome rendition of Jimi Hendrix' Voodoo Chile played on a gayageum, a Korean stringed instrument | Scuttle Buttin on the gayageum rocks as well | Joe Satriani's Starry Night, the gayageum version | Luna Lee's YouTube channel. A little about the gayageum.
Professor Oak and Jigglypuff sing "A Whole New World" from Aladdin. [SLYT] CAUTION: amateur voice acting, general silliness ahead
From the guy who brought you Actual Cannibal Shia Labeouf and Christian Bale is at Your Party comes a new musical:
In every disaster movie, some guy bursts into the Oval Office and says, "Mr. President! There's an asteroid headed directly for the earth!" This is that guy's story. [password: calvert]
"Whether writing as herself, or through one of the many voices she heard in her head, Previn's sinister riverboat chansons revealed the pain, games, lies and loneliness behind the L.A. free love myth. 1971's Mythical Kings And Iguanas was, perhaps, the peak point of Previn's eerily confessional style containing the searingly honest Lemon Haired Ladies and The Lady With The Braid, both of which recount encounters between young men and single older women in chilling detail. Her third album, Reflections In A Mud Puddle was a concept album based upon her life with her father, and contained the astonishing Doppelganger, a Weillian Sympathy For The Devil in which the world's evils are found to lurk in all of us. " Singer-Songwriter Dory Previn has died. (previously on Metafilter).
A decade on, the Coen brothers' woefully underrated O Brother, Where Art Thou? [alt] is remembered for a lot of things: its sun-drenched, sepia-rich cinematography (a pioneer of digital color grading), its whimsical humor, fluid vernacular, and many subtle references to Homer's Odyssey. But one part of its legacy truly stands out: the music. Assembled by T-Bone Burnett, the soundtrack is a cornucopia of American folk music, exhibiting everything from cheery ballads and angelic hymns to wistful blues and chain-gang anthems. Woven into the plot of the film through radio and live performances, the songs lent the story a heartfelt, homespun feel that echoed its cultural heritage, a paean and uchronia of the Old South. Though the multiplatinum album was recently reissued, the movie's medley is best heard via famed documentarian D. A. Pennebaker's Down from the Mountain, an extraordinary yet intimate concert film focused on a night of live music by the soundtrack's stars (among them Gillian Welch, Emmylou Harris, Chris Thomas King, bluegrass legend Dr. Ralph Stanley) and wryly hosted by John Hartford, an accomplished fiddler, riverboat captain, and raconteur whose struggle with terminal cancer made this his last major performance. The film is free in its entirety on Hulu and YouTube -- click inside for individual clips, song links, and breakdowns of the set list's fascinating history. [more inside]
As he sings, the walls of the apartment begin to move off, and the city walls surrounding them begin to close in on them. Then the apartment it self goes, and the two lovers begin to run, battering against the walls of the city, beginning to break through as chaotic figures of the gangs, of violence, fail around them. But they do break through, and suddenly-they are in a world of space and air and sun. They stop, looking at it, pleased, startled, as boys and girls both sides come on. And they, too, stop and stare, happy, pleased. Their clothes are soft and pastel versions of what they have worn before. They begin to dance, to play: no sides, no hostility now; join, making a world that Tony and Maria want to be in, belong to, share their love with. As they go into the steps of a gentle love dance, a voice is heard singing. [more inside]
It's the late 1970s, you're in France, and you're not quite sure what this whole Star Wars hype is about. Let René Joly tell you about it. If your French isn't so good, someone was kind enough to overlay a translation in English, of course in the Star Wars Crawl style. If you can't find the original record from 1977, you can also hear the b-side: Enfant de l'univers (French lyrics). More French Star Wars? Behold: a dance spectacular on French TV (previously). If you like your cheese 100% American, check out the Donny and Marie Star Wars musical number, with very some special guests. For a little less cheese, and a bit more swing: Darth Vader and his jazz combo. [more inside]
Fela! is a musical based on a period in Fela Kuti's life when the musician faced off against Nigerian government soldiers. The musical was off-Broadway for a month in 2008, and about a year later opened on Broadway, running until January of 2011. Nominated for a number of awards, the musical presented a number on the 2010 Tony Awards show, where it won 3 awards. The show is now touring, including an opening in Nigeria just before the recent elections. If you can't catch it touring, the Broadway cast recording is streaming. Bonus: M.O.P (Movement of the People), Fela's 37 minute long song for the political party he founded. [more inside]
From Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park, and Robert Lopez, of Avenue Q, comes the new Broadway show "The Book of Mormon." The show "tells the story of two young Mormon missionaries sent off to spread the word in a dangerous part of Uganda" while gently (and no so gently) lampooning organized religion and traditional musical theatre. The entire show is now streaming on NPR. Songs are extremely Not Safe For Work.
"We are Nirvana The Band, the live musical that will never play the same show twice. To not let us play on your stage would be a terrible mistake. We are Nirvana The Band. For now; forever; for better; for worse. Four -- times four -- is sixteen."
Beowulf, the opera. Hrothgar (YT video, 3:55). The Battle (YT video, 4:13). Grendel and Mother (YT video, 3:43). Zip file (93.7 MB) of the entire show's audio, courtesy of Dave Malloy, the composer who plays King Hrothgar. [more inside]
French musical comedies 1918-1940 [French]. Non-French can still appreciate the programmes, photographs, music and videos.
"I am Russian so, obviously, I like this film. It has typical Russian humor, it is a farce, so do not look for higher meanings in the jokes, it makes fun of the social standards of the Soviet regime as well as the people who served it so well. It features some of the best Russian actors that we love seeing and acting; they sing in the movie and it is lovely as well. If you are a tough judge of movies, then please make sure you know Soviet history a bit and understand that the humor differs from what you see in American movies before you call it crap." [more inside]
Oddstrument is a blog about unusual musical instruments and other interesting acoustic technologies.
Internet People An animated musical ode to all those crazy internet memes.
High School Musical is becoming somewhat of a phenomenon amongst preteens and teens a like. Recently hitting the top of Billboard Charts, and drawing unprecedented amounts of traffic toThe Disney Channel's website. Yet, there are still detractors . The made-for-tv movie is also involved in a controversy related to its pricing (via digg.com) in the ITunes Music Store.
Wondering when and where your favorite band is playing? Musi-cal is sort of the Internet Concert Database; a collaborative scheduling information site. To make it even cooler, it runs the Insanely Great™ Zope.