Monday, May 26, 2008

Coming Up for Air

Well, you can bitch, piss and moan all you want for the lack of the updates, but it’s not like you can hit me, unless you’re committed enough to get on a plane and fly to the UK. Yes, for those of you who have been in the dark, the last 3 weeks has been spent uprooting my old life in Montreal and replanting in Oxford.

Oxford, to this point, is an interesting city. Obviously, there is a huge history within this city of academia, tons of pubs, and gorgeous cityscapes. However, beneath all of this, if you look very hard, I am finding little pockets of true culture hidden among the gowns and towers. Just this Friday I found myself at an underground club called the Cellar. Truth be told, I heard 2 other bands which were nothing but pretentious rubbish, but the closers of the night, Mephisto Grande, managed to get me up out of my seat. Let it be known that their recordings really don’t do this band justice, as you need the raw live energy to really experience this whirlwind. The best way to describe these guys is if Tom Waits dropped acid and started singing sea shanties. In fact… I might have actually seen Tom Waits on Friday, on acid, trying to be a pirate… I’m not sure. While the initial groan of this man’s voice was enough to pull me out of my seat, it wasn’t curiosity which kept me there. Over time, the band started to morph from a prog-pirate group, into something disturbingly beautiful. The haggard disgust of this man’s voice fit perfectly when he welcomed a few of his friends on stage and had a beautiful chorus of women singing along behind him. Traditionally, I’m the last one to like artsy, arrhythmic bullshit… so I guess what I’m trying to say is that live, it really wasn’t that at all.

Onto something a little larger in scale, I want to talk about a man which my old roommate Brenden was kind enough to introduce to me. Jamie Cullum had apparently become an overnight success in 2000, however I hadn’t heard of the guy then, and I’ve still yet to really see his presence in pop media. What he does is simple; he makes Jazz cool again. The jazz I loved was the stuff like Ella, Frank, Dizzy… shit where people were on stage, having fun and just going with the music. Nowadays, it seems as though you can’t get into jazz unless you’ve got a metronome shoved up your ass and you’ve finished your masters studying some sort of instrument. While Cullum may be an exceptionally trained musician, he keeps true to the raw form and passion of what I think music is meant to be; fun. Any man who can do jazz covers of the White Stripes, Justin Timberlake, and Jimi Hendrix in one night… is pretty fucking awesome in my books. Add to that that his songs are catchy as all hell, and I say this Brit, wins.

Lastly, I have to talk about one of those big regrets in life. You know when you stumble across, or even have known of, but only recently started listening to an artist and you really, really fucking regret it? Let me give you an example: I didn’t listen to Zeppelin until I was 16. You know how many years of awesome fucking rock I missed out on? Thanks a lot, dad. As such, you can imagine my disgust when I recently started listening, slack-jawed to Mr. Buddy Guy. I learned about Buddy through my boss (who listens to awesome music) since when we were down in Chicago, Clayton actually had the opportunity to meet Buddy Guy at his own night club… of course, the day after I left town.

Who the fuck is Buddy Guy? I said the same thing, and felt like a real tool for saying it. Buddy guy is, in my humble opinion the founder of modern rock and roll. He was distorting, and wailing the shit out of blues back in the late 50s, early 60s, before it was cool. Guys like Hendrix, Clapton, Page, Ray Vaughn all quote this guy as their inspiration. Apparently, Hendrix used to skip his own shows to go watch Buddy Guy perform. The other big difference between Hendrix and Guy? Buddy Guy is still alive, and touring at fucking 72 years old.

Don’t think a man who’s in his 70s can rock?

Eat your goddamned words, sir.