Thursday, September 03, 2015

On an Island in the Sun

Unorganized Hancock. They're not hip. They're hip-hip.

This is a cover song from my sons' set at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston, Maine. They performed in the Z 105.5 Battle of the Bands for the L/A Fighting Spirit hockey team. Four Maine bands entered, and each wrote a fight song for the team. Our boys won. They're currently working on a new, extended version that will be played when the team skates onto the ice, with an excerpt that will be played whenever the team scores. They'll perform live inside the Colisee on opening night in a few weeks. It's a neato thing all around.

The temperature was in the mid-eighties, and there was no shade. The sun is shining right into the camera lens, so the kids are backlit. The PA system was incredibly loud, and it came close to totally overwhelming the internal microphone in the camera, but you can get the idea from the video of how lively they were.

Before the show, a woman went up to l'il Garrett the drummer and asked him, "So you're only twelve. You must be nervous. You're just a little kid. You must be nervous. You probably never played outdoors. You must be nervous. Aren't you nervous? You should be nervous."

He doesn't seem very nervous.

The kids recorded this song last winter, too:

[Update: Many thanks to longtime Unorganized supporter Dave R. from California for his generous hit on our PayPal tipjar, and some sage advice]
[Update: Many thanks to my friend Gerard at American Digest who sent the gift of drumsticks and a stick bag to l'il Garrett . He loves them]
[Update: Many thanks to longtime mega-supporter Kathleen M. for her contribution to the PayPal jar. It is greatly appreciated]

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Three Cheers for Demure

Our friend Nora Gardner designs, makes, and sells clothes. She's a big wheel in New York City, and we live in Podunk; but even Maine women know what to put on after they come in from chipping the ice off the well in the morning. Nora Gardner makes Sunday go to meeting clothes, I tell you what.

Nora Gardner

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Unorganized Hancock Gets Their WIngs

Unorganized Hancock performed on Saturday at the Z 105.5 Battle of the Bands at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee. The show was part of a weekend-long promotion for the local Junior A hockey team, the L/A Fighting Spirit. Each of the four bands that played in the contest were required to compose a new theme song for the Spirit hockey team. The winning composition will be played at all the home games when the team skates out onto the ice, and an excerpt will be played every time the team scores a goal, which I gather is fairly often because the team is really good.

Lewiston is a large-ish mill town located about an hour south of where we live. It's the second-largest city in the state of Maine, and it's home to Bates College. Lewiston is on one side of the Androscoggin River, and Auburn is on the other. They are joined at the hip and considered one metropolitan area, hence the L/A name for the Fighting Spirit.

The Spirit Weekend had all sorts of activities. There was a kind of carnival outside the arena. There was a street hockey tournament that brought a tear of fond remembrance to my eye, a chicken wing contest, a dunk tank to embarrass local dignitaries, and an exhibition game with the Spirit pitted against an all-star team from all the local prep schools.

The Battle of the Bands went off on time, more or less, and the day was a benignant 80+ degrees, and not a cloud in the sky. Our boys went on third, and played a few songs from their regular repertoire, then finished with their hockey fight song, which is the sort of a thing that makes you pump your fist and chant along.

All of the bands were different from each other, and all were good, which lent a lively competition to the proceedings. There was a metal band, a trio of triplet girls that played something like upbeat punk, and a sort of jam/prog band for alternative rock. Our boys have invented their own style they call Intergalactabilly.

They made a great show of announcing the winner. The hockey team voted to determine what song they wanted to skate around to, which is really the only way to judge such a thing. I'm not a big fan of music contests. The purpose of musicians is to entertain an audience. I'm not sure having judging involved helps that, but it's a popular format for music lately, and no one cares what I think about it. More on that in a minute.

They had all the kids from the bands gather around, and the hockey team made their selection, and the emcee from Z 105.5, a talented and genial fellow named Matty B., made a few anodyne remarks. My wife and I were on tenterhooks, which is another name for hot pavement.

Wouldn't you know it? Our boys won:

The giant check thing was a surprise, and seven sorts of awesome. My sons looked vaguely dazed and happy, which is pretty much the same thing in this world. They received their applause from the assembled crowd, the hockey team you see in the background, and the other bands, all without throwing up on themselves or falling off the stage. It was one of those moments in time that you will remember sweetly forever.

All the kids from all the bands made friends, and finally made me see some kind of point to a Facebook page. They established a little network I hoped would continue.

I told my children that they had done something wonderful, but it wasn't winning a contest. They had made people smile, which is exactly what they're supposed to do. They made friends, which is a big bonus. I told them the big check isn't a payment for beating other bands. My boys had sold a musical composition. That's an amazing accomplishment for a band made up of two children and two plywood cutouts.

The owners of the L/A Fighting Spirit, Rod and Lisa Simmons, are wonderful and commendable people, kind to a fault to my boys, and I hope their hockey team wins all their games 12-0.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Z 105.5 Junior Battle of the Bands, and Other Diversions

Well, our boys, AKA Unorganized Hancock, were on Z 105.5 in Auburn, Maine this morning. It was a stone groove. The show is called The Breakfast Club. The very genial host is Matty B, and the very able producer of the show, who is also the Station Manager, is Bonnie McHugh. Here they are wearing their official Unorganized Hancock glasses. I do not know if Matty and Bonnie are the two most pleasant people in Maine, but after today, that's the way I'd bet.

You can listen to the whole interview by clicking this sentence that tells you to click the sentence by clicking this sentence. 

If you didn't take me up on the offer to click that last sentence in order to click the sentence, you should be aware that Unorganized Hancock debuted their new original song on Matty's show this morning, so you should go back and listen to it before I have to get mean, and threaten you with additional hyperlinked sentences. It's called Go, Go, Go (Don't You Know), and it's the greatest thing since Sinatra caught a cold. I'd click that sentence that tells you to click that sentence, if I were you.

Unorganized Hancock is performing at the Lewiston Colisee this Saturday. If that sounds familiar, it should. It's the arena where the most famous picture in the history of sports was taken:
I find it amazing that the kids will be playing in that very spot, more or less. It just seems like Mount Olympus or something, not a real place that will let me inside it. When my older son was very young, he had a similar drive-by with greatness. He performed in Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. That's the same stage where Charles Dickens read from his books to a rapt audience. Mechanics used to read Dickens, and make things. That's a phantom one-two punch in today's world.

Back to the Lewiston Colisee. The boys are in a Junior Battle of the Bands, being held by the local hockey team, the Lewiston-Auburn Fighting Spirit. They are a Junior hockey team, which I gather is for men between the ages of 18 and 20. There are four contestants in the Battle of the Bands, and they each composed a fight song for the Fighting Spirit hockey team. The winner of the contest will receive a $500 prize from Central Maine Orthopaedics, and their song will be recorded in a studio. Then they'll perform the song live at opening night of the hockey season, and the recording of the song will be played at every Fighting Spirit home game. That would be some form of wonderful for my boys, and I hope they win.

The hockey team currently uses Dropkick Murphys "I'm Shipping Up To Boston" as their opening song, which if I recall correctly, involves accordions, plus additional noises that aren't accordions. If you're unfamiliar with accordions, they are a piano that has contracted emphysema. 

I know you people who read this blog figure I made up an Internet story that I had a wife, like Napoleon Dynamite's alleged girlfriend from Oklahoma. Well, here she is sitting in the green room with her sons while they wait to go on the air, and she's never been to Spain, or Oklahoma, either.

I told you to click on the sentence that tells you to click on it. This is your last chance to click on a sentence that instructs you to click on the sentence so that you can listen to the broadcast by clicking on the sentence.  You should click on it, and root, root, root for my little boys. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Cover Charge to Greatness

Bartok played Scarlatti because he could. That's the cover charge to greatness.

When people complain that X sucks now, but it used to be great, you're usually listening to nursing home conversation. All that people know is what was popular when they were young. They dream of their salad days and the soundtrack to what they were doing at the time, which is intensely trivial to everyone but them. Al Gore doesn't care about global warming. He just wants it to be 1976 again, forever. Lots of people are like him. They simply choose different topics to be fuddy-duddies about.

The problem with ignoring all old people who are yelling at clouds is the same problem you have with biker gangs. I have, perhaps, a greater experience with biker gangs than the average person who would be expected to have nothing to do with them. They pose a problem that I may be able to shed some light on. They are 99 percent harmless, if a bit silly, but they all try to look the same. The other 1 percent are the scariest mofos you'll ever meet, but they look exactly like the chromosexuals, and you can't tell who's who until it's too late.

The people with onions on their belts complaining that music sucks nowadays are more or less the same as the biker gangs. They're all drooling into the same tapioca and tuned in to Good Sunrise Morning Starter Eyeopener NewsFlash Update with Brian Kouric, but only 99 percent of them are entirely wrong about everything. The one-percenter could tell you why music really does suck now, but no one would ever listen to him because he looks like the rest of them, complaining to no one in particular that Justin Bieber is no Bobby Goldsboro.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants is correct as far as it goes, but it gives dullards the wrong idea. Those giants don't hoist you up there for a piggy back. You have to climb up them like a kitten that hasn't been fed yet, and the giants swat at you while you make the ascent. Once you're standing on their shoulders, you realize that the giants are drunk half the time and palsied the rest. They were only giants because you were so short. You can't see as far as you had hoped.  There's a lot of work left to do.

Nobody understands that you have to be able to do it first. You can't deconstruct a goddamned thing until you can do it, and if you could do it, you wouldn't get the urge to deconstruct it. Frank Gehry can't design a proper two-holer so he designs giant monstrosities to hide the fact.

Politics is the same. You will never elect anyone to take the government apart. Once you know how to work it well enough to get in charge of it, you don't want to wreck it. You want to lord over it and add to it. No one wants the bulldozed empty lot where a Post Office once stood to be named after them. Humans don't work that way.

Incompetent people who know in their hearts that they can't hack it when they try, feebly, to learn what came before them say everything sucks, let's break it. Musicians that can't play Scarlatti say Scarlatti sucks, let's call Megadeth geniuses. Painters that can't paint put the nose on the side of the woman's head and say I meant to do that. It's easier to be a self-promoter than to learn how to do everything that came before you, and then build on it even a little. That's why art, and other things, do occasionally run into dead ends. It's hard to play Scarlatti, so it's deuced difficult to play any better. That's the real reason few attempt it, and the one percenters notice no one's even trying anymore.

Bela Bartok is playing Scarlatti like he's late for lunch and wants to get out of there. He sounds furious, in the true sense of the word. He's furious he has to waste his time playing it. He wants to get further than Scarlatti. He paid the cover charge to greatness.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Dr. Hook on Shel Silverstein's Houseboat

I do believe that title is what you call clickbait. It's not as effective as a 500-word search engine-optimized article with between 1 and 2 percent keyphrase density about diet pills or an app that delivers pizza to you while you're stopped at a traffic light in a crowdfunded cab. But it's pretty hard to pass by without stopping, surely.

The fact that Shel Silverstein wrote Sylvia's Mother is one of those trivia questions that everyone knows, but everyone tries springing on everyone else anyway. I'm sort of strange, so Shel Silverstein isn't a notable author of children's books who also wrote a hit song; he's a guy who wrote Sylvia's Mother and the trivia question is that he wrote some obscure children's books I've never been interested in.

If you don't know who's who, Shel is the feller with the dirty feet who's inexpertly playing the harmonica. Your house, your rules.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The International Language of Love: Steely Dan

I'll have a Number Seven, with a side of miso soup.

There are numerous trite opportunities to mention raying down the raw and blaking it, but  I urge you not to. We must experience the Dopamines in their native habitat, and appreciate the forces that produce a Steely Dan cover band at the Sumida Street Jazz Festival in Tokyo. We must appreciate it all the way to the the tinny goodness of that last wan cymbal hit by the drummer.

The United States of America took over the world, you know, without firing a shot, really. The wars were sideshows. A Steely Dan cover band at the Sumida Street Jazz Festival makes building a triumphal arch somewhere superfluous. When Japanese people sing, "angular banjos sound good to me," we've crossed a pop culture Rubicon that can't be forded in reverse.

The United States of America has led the world out into a wilderness. It has a responsibility to go forward. Moses didn't take the Jews into the desert, turn around, and say, "Now what do you want to do? I'm wide open here."

The United States must keep going. Angular banjos don't really sound that great.