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The Life and Times of Grandpa Parm & Scheme-On

Sound Tribe Sector Awesome…

picture-1Sound Tribe Sector Awesome
Electronic Jam Band Destroys SF
(Live Music, Shows, Concerts)

(San Francisco, CA – 2/28/09) – Any band that locks down the Fillmore four nights in a row better have some serious fucking talent and a hell of a following. Turns out the Santa Cruz-based, 5-piece electronic jam band STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) most definitely has both and they’ve managed to sell out the Fillmore from 2/26/09 thru 3/1/09 with ease. Apparently the “Sector 9” is a reference to the current era of the Mayan calendar, so you know these guys are gangster. I’ve know about them for a couple years now (at least the name), but didn’t listen to their shit until about a month ago. I assumed it was just a few DJs and nothing that unique, but turns out I was utterly fucking wrong. Their music is a mix of instrumental rock with analog-generated sound, making it difficult to classify. The band consists of a guitarist & bassist (who both use a midi keyboard at times), a percussionist, a keyboardist, and a ridiculously sik drummer named Zach Velmer. When it all comes together the result is captivating to say the least and manages to fuse elements of rock, jazz, funk, reggae, drum & bass, and hip-hop into one intense concoction for the ears. This combined with a seasoned lighting technician makes for a surreal experience. Each member possesses much talent, but Velmer is the most impressive by far. Anyone who can pull off live drum & bass like this dude is a fucking god. I was lucky enough to get myself a ticket to opening night before it sold out and it might have been the best $26 I have ever spent. Seeing these dudes live is definitely an experience not to be missed. I went with my cousin, a proud affiliate of the STS9 cult, and I think I may have been recruited myself. We ran into a handful of his friends, some of which he said he only knows from other STS9 shows, which created a vibe like everyone knew each other. I definitely felt like the new kid who just lost his virginity; it was awesome…

Get Sectored or Go Home
Scheme-On

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March 1, 2009 Posted by | Concerts, Music | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The One-Man Band…

The One-Man Band…
Independent Mastermind or Anti-Social Scumbag???
(Music, Life)

picture-15San Francisco, CA, 11/15/08 – So last night I wandered into this little black hole of a concert room at Hemlock Tavern, through the pieces of industrial car wash plastic to find what sounded like an extremely sloppy Wolfmother-type band. I couldn’t fully see the stage, only the top of the singer’s head, so pushed my way closer to try and spot the drummer and to my surprise realized that this band was not a band at all. It was one super exhausted dude, pounding Pabst Blue Ribbon, wailing on a guitar, screaming into a mic, with his right foot on a bass drum and left foot on a high hat… it was awesome. Witnessing this demonstration of musical multi-tasking made me start thinking about how one makes the decision to start a one-man band. What’s the natural progression? Do these people usually start off in a normal band then end up going rogue, or are they just hardcore one-man banders from birth? What’s the motivation? What type of individual has the passion to take on what a group of 3-5 people generally do? Are they just independent musical masterminds with exceptional creativity and talent, or are they anti-social panhandling scumbags who are so awkward and annoying that they can’t even find 3-5 other people who want to be in a band with them? There are plenty of solo artists out there, but this shit’s on a whole ‘nother level. You have to give them props for their talent though, I mean I can barely pat my head and rub my belly at the same time let alone play 5 instruments simultaneously and sing. The closest I can get to multi-tasking is drinking a beer and smoking a cigarette at the same time, and shit, I’ve even had trouble with that. That being said, I leave you with this quote from Joe Barrick’s one-man band webpage:

“The one-man band exists, in all its uniqueness and independence, as a most elusive yet persistent musical tradition.  As a category of musicianship it transcends cultural and geographic boundaries, spans stylistic limits, and defies conventional notions of technique and instrumentation.  Defined simply as a single musician playing more than one instrument at the same time, it is an ensemble limited only by the mechanical capabilities and imaginative inventiveness of its creator, and despite its generally accepted status as an isolated novelty, it is a phenomenon with some identifiable historical continuity.”

Get Independent or Go Home…
Scheme-On

November 16, 2008 Posted by | Life, Music | , , , , | 4 Comments

Reggae Review – Fallen Stars

Jah Fire

Jah Fire

Hugh Mundell has long been one of my favorite voices in roots reggae and his music is still beloved by the irie masses. It was his neighbor who introduced him to reggae, and at age thirteen helped Mundell record his first song. At the delicate age of sixteen, he recorded what has become a timeless classic in, “Africa must be free by 1983”, writing the lyrics as well as the music. This album was released in 1978 and became an instant classic earning five stars from Rolling Stone magazine. Unfortunately for all of us who enjoy his music, Hugh Mundell was shot to death in 1983 driving around Kingston, JA with Junior Reid. He was twenty one.

644The album “Jah Fire”, pictured above is produced by Prince Jammy and features Lacksley Castell, a friend and colleague of Mundell who shares a similar voice and singing style. Castell was helped along by his good friend Mundell, and made a name for himself by releasing two amazing solo albums and singing backup for Sugar Minott’s famously-known, “Black Roots” album. Lacksley Castell’s “Morning Glory” tells tales of leaving women, meeting women and being a traveler unbeknownst to his women. His voice is unlike all others (with the exception of Mundell) and of course with a flourishing career ahead of him, he passed away in the prime of his life. He was also twenty one.

2113Jacob “The Killer” Miller is easily one of the most recognizable figures in roots reggae. His voice is literally one of a kind and his stage presence is unlike any reggae star out there. His 1977 album, “Killer Miller” contains many of his well-known anthems and gives his short career tons of validation. Not only does his physical presence require attention, but his lyrics were deep and honest while his energy never ceased. One thing that did cease was Miller’s beating heart as he was killed at age twenty seven in a tragic car accident in 1980. Just before his death, Miller had signed an international record deal and was to tour with Bob Marley before fate took its course. The uncle of Maxi Priest and an icon of roots reggae, Jacob Miller, will never be forgotten.

These gentlemen all died young and left us wondering what could have been. Their gifts to the world through music will forever be cherished and heard. Whether it was a tragic accident or a result of growing up in a dangerous environment, these artists died with dignity and should be respected for that.

-Gramps

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ghostland Observatory…

Ghostland Observatory…
Gods of Electro-Rock
(Music, Concerts)

San Francisco, CA, 11/1/08 – The first time my ears were blessed with this shit was sometime around the beginning of 2008 after stumbling upon someone’s MySpace page with a song called “Sad Sad City” on auto-play. Instantly hooked like DiCaprio in Basketball Diaries, I began playing the shit out, then randomly this dude Greg I work with mentioned that Ghostland Observatory was playing at the Mezzanine in SF… it was on. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but from the moment the first beat was dropped the motherfuckers were electric. You know how some bands are just ridiculously sic slash insane when you see them live? This is one of them. Part of it is the impressive light shows, part of it is the extremely unique and upbeat tracks, but the main element making these displays of electric excellence so awesome is the energy from front man Aaron Behrens. With his eccentric steez, intense dance moves, aviators and pigtails, it’s not humanly possible to stand still. The second half of the Austin based duo is Thomas Ross Turner, who often wears a cape onstage, and plays the drums or synthesizer. The band describes their sound as “A robot making love to a tree,” which I guess makes sense, but you really have to experience it for yourself to even attempt to figure it out. Ghostland followers run the gamut of live music aficionados, but overall it’s a young crowd that is ready to get hype and rage. The laser shows and electronic undertones make for a rave-esque atmosphere, which brings out a handful of wide-eyed teenagers who’s jaws will endure some damage before the night is done, but bottom line it’s a rock show, so really it’s just pure energy from start to finish. I’ve been lucky enough to catch them twice in SF and I’m just waiting for the next opportunity to get weird. If you have a chance to check them out it’s highly recommended, and whether you end up enjoying it or not, I promise you will never forget it. Turns out last night for Halloween Gramps and I dressed up as Ghostland and didn’t even know it! While Gramps may not have realized he was Behrens and while I may not have realized I was Turner, we definitely rocked it as hard…

Get Weird or Go Home…
Scheme-On


November 2, 2008 Posted by | Concerts, Music | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Kerouac, Lopan, Murs and the Wildcat Offense

I love reading Jack Kerouac for the simple reason that he doesn’t use traditional writing methods to convey thoughts. His stream of consciousness style along with the fact that the guys was sober for about 2 hours a day make his books some of the most interesting reads to this day. The beats live on.

The day that I can watch “Big Trouble in Little China” and not want to cruise the alleys of Chinatown looking for the Lords of Death is the day I have lost all reason to live. I still have voices in my head telling me that the Wing Kong Exchange actually exists and that Gracie Law is still in her late twenties looking for David Lopan. It may be true that Chinese black magic does not exist, but in my world, I’d rather believe that it does. Sorcery, magic, and the reality that “his flesh and bones become atomized and he becomes a dream.” That’s what I’m all about.

Murs dropped a great new album called, “Murs for President” and here is my thoughts on it… I think it is pretty much a collection of bangers with a few droplets of pop/mainstream bullshit mixed in. Something I did not realize when purchasing this album, is that Warner Bros. released it, officially dropping Murs from the high ranks of the “Underground” and elevating him to “MTV” status. I really don’t care anymore. I don’t watch MTV and I encourage anybody not to. I also do not talk about the “Underground” scene as anything more than a historic time period where hip hop was celebrated without any outside distractions. These days nobody is truly “Underground”, but they can be “Independent” or “Mainstream” and still be respected by any music lover. The lines have been blurred and so Murs felt the need to make his music more accessible to the world and I will not judge him for it. There was a time when I would get all Lopan on you if you tried to call a hip hop group “underground” when they were on a major label and had a video out. Now a days, I just don’t care.

The stupid “Wildcat” offense that the Miami Dolphins have used to embarrass the two teams that met in last year’s AFC Championship game is actually fun to watch. It just so happens that they made my Chargers look like a bunch of teenage girls at a high school field hockey game and I am not happy about it. I enjoy watching different formations, clever play calls, and unique running plays that catch traditional defenses off guard, but not against my team. The only solace I got from last weekend’s horrendous game in Miami is that Roger Goodell fined Ronnie Brown for orchestrating that stupid “Cupid” dance he performed after scoring off a “Wildcat” run. Whoever thought that dance would be a hit was right I guess, but it looks pretty damn stupid to me.

Renting and venting from the bay where Blue Angels fly and people apparently like to kill themselves.

-Gramps

October 12, 2008 Posted by | Film, Life, Music, Sports | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Reggae Review

With so much bad music making the rounds in these tumultuous times, many of us music aficionados look to the good ol’ days to provide us with quality vibrations. Reggae is no different, and because the genre has had a fairly drastic makeover in the last 25 years, reggae is the perfect example of how the old is so much better than the new.

In an effort to define the genre of reggae music, I will describe what I see as two schools of reggae. Dancehall reggae and roots reggae are very different and should not be confused although artists tend to cross lines quite often. Dancehall is known for its fast rhythms and talking or chanting over the beats. DJ’s made this form popular as the youth found something to relate to while on the streets of Jamaica. These days, one could consider the vocal aspect of dancehall as a form of rapping, and dancehall is credited for influencing hip hop.

Roots reggae on the other hand is slower with simple drumbeats and traditional singing. Roots is the original Jamaican musical genre known as “reggae”. Modern reggae reflects this division in the genre and although dancehall is currently more widely accepted and popular around the world, there are many roots reggae bands springing up all over the place. Bands such as Groundation, Gondwana and Rebelution are a couple of my favorite modern roots bands.

Unfortunately, for reggae purists like me, heavy roots albums exists few and far between. On top of that, the best decade for roots reggae was the 70’s, which makes some of the true gems hard to find. Luckily, there are many modern reggae labels such as Blood and Fire, Greensleeves, and Heartbeat, who are repressing and distributing classic albums for our enjoyment.

For an example of such an album, look at Twinkle Brothers‘ 1975 album, “Rasta Pon Top”. This gritty roots record shows the rawness of true roots music and the beauty that is the fusion of great voices and the simple riddims of the time. Look out for more examples of hard, heavy roots music here at the Review.

– Parm

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Download Your Life Away…

Download Your Life Away…
Fresh Tunes at Your Fingertips

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The World Wide Web, CS, 9/11/08 – Ah yes, the Internet… servin’ up fresh tunes and whatever the fuck else you want round the clock. When I moved into the dorms and got my first hi-speed connection it was like releasing a raging pedophile at a gymnastics meet. I ran wild in cyberspace downloading everything from movies, to software, to porn, but my embezzlement of choice was an art form in which the medium is sound organized in time… yup, you guessed it, MPmotherfuckinThrees! I spent countless hours on LimeWire hitting pause, resume, preview and loving every goddamn second of it. I built my library to an insurmountable size, but eventually my 27gig laptop caught viruses, slowed down to the pace of an 82 year-old woman on methadone, and exploded. I was then forced to head back to Amoeba and sift through millions of used CDs with all you other schmucks until I got a new comp. Since then there has much discussion questioning the ethics of music piracy and even laws passed such as the U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which deems copying of copyrighted music (with the exception of making a copy for your own use) as illegal. I understand that my plunders in the open seas of cyberspace haven’t provided artists with their well-deserved royalties, but to be honest, it’s not like I would have gone out there and bought thousands of albums with my milk money anyways. The simple fact that there are fresh tunes right at my fingertips is why I seek it, and shit, when I find something I dig online I let people know and they might be stupid enough to go pay for it? Bottom line, I don’t think music piracy has had as drastic of an effect on the music industry as some people may think and if I’m wrong… fuck, they’ll get over it.

P.S. – I just downloaded the new TV on the Radio album, “Dear Science”, and it doesn’t even get released for another week… fucking awesome!

Get Downloaded or Go Home…
Scheme-On

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Three Reasons to Keep Living

One: Portishead – Third

Almost six months old now, this album has blown me away in more ways than one over the last month or so. They say it’s a more industrial album, straying from the traditional trip-hop sound we’re used to from Portishead. I say it rocks! Some of the songs put me in a trance while others feel like they are synchronized to the beating of my heart. True musical coordination. Beth Gibbons continues to deliver meaningful lyrics with a hint of sarcasm and a tone like no other. Check out the track titled, “Small”. A definite banger.

Two: The Genius/The GZA – Pro Tools

At the tender age of 42, Wu-Tang’s most mysterious and talented mc shakes the earth by dropping another solo gem to add to his discography of pure genius (tons of pun intended). I pre-ordered this album cuz I like to be spontaneous like that, but it did not disappoint. Unfortunately, all the guest appearances are simply beat by a better mc on this album. That mc being the GZA, with his same monotone style that brought him fame every since “Liquid Swords” hit the suburbs. Having said that, some of the mc’s that got destroyed are the RZA and Masta Killa to name a couple. These guys are just as famous but lack the quality and consistency found with Genius’ lyrics. He makes me laugh with shit like, “I brought butter for the popcorn, dips for the chips, egos for you to trip, and scripts for you to flip…” -Alphabets. F-ing genius huh? Check it before he turns 60 and quits.

Three: Murs – Murs For President

My man Murs never disappoints and I assure you I know nothing about his new album cuz it ain’t out yet. Even so, I expect nothing but gems and bangers from this long time Living Lengends storyteller. He’s got a track with Snoop Dogg on this one, so at least he’s gonna surprise us a little. Having Humpty Dumpty/Shock G on an album was kinda cool, but Snoop Dogg is another story all together. Can’t wait!

Go Home!

-Gramps

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Bang the Drum 2008…

Bang the Drum 2008…
Sunshine, Tall Cans, & Canibus

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San Francisco, CA, 8/31/08 – Now I’m all about the environment, going green, fighting global warming, saving the world and all that shit, but damn, it has been so fucking nice and warm in SF the past week I’m thinking about opening up my own industrial processing plant and letting fossil fuels and oil just spew out freely into an ocean full of baby seals. Lounging in the grass under the warm SF sun was nice. Lounging in the grass under the warm SF sun with tall cans was even nicer. But lounging in the grass under the warm SF sun with tall cans, watching Canibus and Das EFX live for free was fucking epic! This was what the better part of Sunday afternoon consisted of for me and roughly 500 other ExxonMobil CEOs who happen to be hip-hop heads??? Weird. This splendid event was brought to us by Kevvy Kev, a legendary bay area hip-hop DJ and host of the world’s longest continuously running hip-hop radio show, The Drum. To celebrate 24 years on the air, Kevvy Kev hosted the free Bang the Drum concert, featuring 24 DJs and 24 MCs (which included Canibus & Das EFX) for an afternoon of bliss at Peacock Meadow in Golden Gate Park. I’m definitely not the hip-hop head that I used to be, let’s say… circa 2001, and I’ve definitely received plenty of shit for it from Gramps and Danamacha alike, but I have to say, sunshine, tall cans, & Canibus go together like ecstasy and Radiohead…

Go Green or Go Home…
Scheme-On

September 1, 2008 Posted by | Music | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments