Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I setup a new blog for my trip to Kenya. The link is also available over on the sidebar.

Just picked up the new Belle & Sebastian disc The Life Pursuit. It's brilliant...the best pop album to hit the shelves since The New Pornographers' release from last year. Just one of those records that instantly grabs you, as the best pop music will always do. I'll pick "Funny Little Frog" as my current favorite track. In a startling coincidence, B&S & the New Pornos are touring together and will be in town at the Orpheum on March 12.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Out of Africa

The countdown has begun. One week from today, we leave on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Kenya, Africa. And as of yesterday, the itinerary is finally set. Here is how it breaks down...

After 16 hours of intense claustrophobia in various aircraft, Annie and I will arrive in Nairobi, Kenya on the evening of Sunday, Feb 12th. We'll spend just one night in the capital.

In the morning I'll be working in town before we catch another flight that afternoon west to Kisumu, a medium-sized city on the shores of Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa. This is where I'll be working for the rest of the week. My brave wife Annie will take to exploring the Lake Victoria region solo during these days.

Come Friday, as my working portion of the trip ends, we embark on our first safari tour to the Masai Mara National Reserve on the southern border of Kenya and Tanzania. The Mara is supposedly THE best area for wild game viewing in Kenya (lions, cheetahs, hippos, elephants, etc.). The safari in Mara will be for three days.

On Sunday, we fly from Mara back to Nairobi only to immediately depart for another mini-safari to Mt. Kenya, the second highest mountain in all of Africa. After a quick overnight tour, we'll return to Nairobi and leave for what will surely be an interesting trip on an overnight train to Mombasa.

Mombasa is a sizable city on the Kenyan coast and here we will stay for the remainder of the week, residing in villas situated directly on the beach of the Indian Ocean. Our plans become a bit vague at this point. It is possible we'll grow tired of the tropical paradise and head back early (say Friday or Saturday) to Nairobi to spend more time in the nation's capital and the huge national parks surrounding the city. But most likely we will wait until the last minute on Sunday the 26th before returning to Nairobi to catch our long and surely depressing flight back to the states. We arrive in the cold, dreary winter of the Twin Cities, USA on the afternoon of Monday, Feb 27th. Sigh.

So there you have it. That's the plan. Whether this is how things will actually happen or not, we'll have to wait and see. Before I leave, I'll be post a link to a new blog setup solely to share the happenings and pictures from our trip. Or if I don't have time, I'll just post to this site.

Friday, February 03, 2006

PLUG Awards, the Superbowl & all that jazz

The 2006 PLUG Independent Music Awards (for 2005 releases) took place last night in NYC. The evening's winners included Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens, Neko Case, Sleater-Kinney, Animal Collective, among others. The voting bloc was comprised of 1) members of the music industry, 2) fans from around the globe and 3) a rabid pack of affluent, white, indie-hipster, Pitchfork-readin', ipod-obsessed, 27-year-old men, each of whom is simultaneously posting the results of said award show on their kick-ass music blog. For a complete list of nominees and winners, visit the PLUG website.

I don't know a single person who is honestly excited about this weekend's Superbowl. My apologies to those of you raised or currently residing in Seattle and Pittsburgh. And then there's, Mike D. He is a huge Steeler's fan. I'll watch it of course. Not because I want to and not for the commercials, but because everyone else will be watching and I need to prepare for the conversational references I'm sure to encounter come Monday.

Last weekend, I watched the new Jim Jarmusch flick Broken Flowers starring Bill Murray. It is a great and charming little film and I highly recommend it. But I'm bringing it up to mention how the film exposed me to a truly awesome musical discovery: the Ethiopian jazz artist Mulatu Astatke. Ethiopian jazz, you say? I never knew there was such a style. On the surface, it doesn't sound all that different from other jazz of the late 60s and 70s, so-called "jazz fusion." But there is something Astatke's songs that get under my skin. Anyway, there are some fantastic Astatke songs featured in the movie so I immediately went out and bought this Ethiopian jazz compilation titled "Ethiopiques 4". Who knew?
I can't find anything to link to at the moment, but if you can find some clips or samples or streaming mp3s, look for
1) "Yegelle Tezeta"
2) "Yekermo Sew"
Those are a couple off of the Broken Flowers soundtrack and Ethiopiques 4 and will give you a good taste. Just shows you how much great music is out there, of all genres and styles. I simply love the thrill of discovering new music. I like jazz but I've never dug deep into the genre beyond the classic staples of Davis, Coltrane, Monk, etc. However, listening to Mulatu Astatke is inspiring me to do just that. Thank you, Mr. Jarmusch.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Bonnaroo gets Radiohead!

More festival announcements released today. Yesterday Coachella announced their impressive 2006 lineup, but not to be outdone, the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival fired back their own announcement today with none other than Radiohead as the headliner of an equally outstanding list of acts. Of course, this means that ACL doesn't have a chance of grabbing Radiohead this year, but it does mean I'll be a taking a roadtrip to Manchester, Tennessee come June. Who else is in?! Tickets go on sale on Saturday, Feb 11. They ain't cheap but it includes 3 days of music, plus camping and parking. Weed and your everyday assortment of hallucinogens are not included.

While I'm on the subject of Radiohead, Thom has started posting again on Dead Air Space and it seems the guys are getting down to business in the studio to record their 7th album.