Wednesday, July 29

Remember when I told you to go to the San Francisco International Poetry Festival?

Here's why you should have. Jonathan Richman and Roy Chicky Arad, doing a groovy little Hebrew song and poetry thing. Afterwards, you can hear the translation.

Friday, July 24

If you're in San Francisco and looking for something to do tonight

The San Francisco International Poetry Festival is continuing on tonight at the Palace of Fine Arts. Jonathan showed up to the Alley kick off last night to play a few songs. (And looking quite snappy, I must say!)

The reading goes from 7 to 9:30 tonight, it's all free, and it's a great chance to hear poetry in the native tongue. You can find out more about the reading tonight, and the weekend's festival activities, here.You can also hear Jonathan performing on the KFOG morning show, playing "No One Was Like Vermeer." I don't know if they did any sort of interview or not, because this is all I can find to listen to. Had I know he was going to be on before, I would have listened it, but alas. Jonathan's song is about halfway down the page, under Wednesday.

There are many more pictures of this event at Steve Rhode's photostream. Check them out!

Thursday, July 23

Stuff that makes me happy for 500, Alex.

First of all, I love it when life is just a little strange. It should be. It needs to be. In that vein, I love this mildly surrealistic artist's rendering of a young Jonathan Richman. Not only are the Martian Martians coming, but Jonathan is among them.

This whole set holds a treasure trove of work like this, with a lot of these portraits. The artist's name is Owen Schumacher, and you should most definitely go check out his work here, and also on his blog, along with many other cool things.

You know, if anyone else has artwork of any stripe, either by or of Jonathan, I'd love to see it. Email me. Maybe I can get a big 'ol post of it in.

NEXT. I am so thrilled to have found this song online. If you have not gotten to hear "My Affected Accent", the song that's making the tour rounds lately, now's your chance! Youtube is truly the bringer of light.

Wednesday, July 15

Randi goes to SLC

From my blog: Anytime I go to a Jonathan Richman concert, it ends up being some sort of epic adventure. It really can't be stopped, being as I live in a place with very few concerts to speak of, and even less than aren't bands from the 80s trying to scrape by. So when Jonathan comes to Salt Lake City, I'm always very happy, since it's only 7 hours away. As opposed to my all time record, which 12 hours. In one direction. SO when I set upon planning this little escapade, I called on some reliable friends. My second, Caitlin, as been to, counting this one, three out of the four Jonathan shows that I have been to. I take all the credit for introducing her, and she took all the lovely pictures that I have here. Cathy, one of my best friends of a good number of years, agreed to come along for her second Jonathan experience. And John, oh John...he was actually a last minute deal. The girl who was coming along skipped out, so I called John in a panic.

Randi: John, do you want to go to a concert in Salt Lake? Ticket's free.

John: Who?

Randi: Jonathan Richman

John:Who...Oh, is that the guy on your wall?

Randi: Yes, John, yes it is. You coming?

He answered in the absolute affirmative, even though we would have to do a (minorly disastrous) pickup in Pocatello. Knowing nothing about Jonathan except that I liked him, he adventured along with us. I wasn't entirely sure we were going to make it in time. The Pocatello pickup from hell had taken longer than figured, and we were barreling down the highway, trying to get there in time for when the doors opened. We made it. I had told Cathy that it was a ramshackle little place at the end of an alleyway, but I'm sure she believed me until we were gazing upon its tin-sided glory. While John used the window to primp, we sat down and played with the cat of Kilby Court.

We finally got in the doors, and I saw a familiar face standing next to the stage. The guy we met last time! Who, I discovered, has an actual name. It is Mike. He and I talked Jonathan until the show started, while my friends either rolled their eyes or ignored me. I defended Jonathan's only playing his new stuff, we talked about the essays I'd managed to work Jonathan into, and our favorite albums. Good way to kill time.

The show started, with no opener, just pure Jonathan. They were about 15 minutes late, but once they started, nobody cared. He was even better than the last time I had seen him at Kilby, and though he didn't dance much, he was incredibly talky. While singing my affected accent, he told us that he was such a brat, and "40 years later, I apologize". He did his own backup singing on this tune, telling us that it was the chorus of angels. At the end of the song, he said, eyes upraised, "I'm sorry, the angels are sorry. Everybody's sorry". He also gave us a little speech about self-confidence during Pablo Picasso. "If he didn't care, the girls didn't care. It's not a problem". He sang this wonderful new song in Hebrew about this very sexy yet modest dress, "It looks like one of those dresses from the 40s"and how it just looks so great on her when she walks down the street. He told us that they have no problem keeping the electricity up when they sit at home together, doing nothing too exciting, just reading, although "It's not always poetry, right now it's Alexandre Dumas. The Three Musketeers. Oooh, some people say 'I won't pick up that big 600 page book', but it's wonderful". During a new song, he made a great comment about how sometimes he just wants to play his role with her, and grow old with her, and, he laughed "I've already got a head start." He also told us a joke during He Gave Us The Wine To Taste It, his encore:

So this rich guy gives his butler a bottle of wine for the holidays, and when the butler gets back, he asks him how he liked it. The butler goes, "It was just right". And the rich guy asks, "Well, what do you mean by that?", and the butler goes, "If it was any better, you wouldn't have given it to me, and if it was any worse, I couldn't have drank it!"

At one point during the show, the aforementioned Kilby Court cat wandered onstage. Jonathan stopped playing for a moment and watched it, everyone laughed as it circled the stage and decided this was boring, and it had better things to do. Jonathan assured us that this was not a humans-only show, and everyone was welcome here, quadruped or sextuped alike. The show ended, and Jonathan stood on the stage by the door, shaking people's hands as they left. No matter how long he plays, it's always over too quickly.

And I still didn't get to hear My Baby Love Love Loves Me. But I'll forgive you, Jonathan. Just this once.

You can see more pictures, there's like 80-90 from this show, on my flickr. The ones from this show are at the bottom of the set. All the other shows I've been to are in there as well.

Tuesday, July 7

Roaring hot at the Lion's Lair

I picked up a couple reviews of our Jonathan at the tiny, packed Lion's Lair in Denver, CO. (Kilby Court was similarly hot and tiny - I will have a review once I get my pictures.) First is from the Reverb blog over at the Denver post. Jonathan was apparently better this time than the last time he came around the Mile High City, and Billy Thieme had plenty of nice things to say.

It’s obvious he’s made the 100-person capacity venue a regular stop. And it’s clear why: he knows exactly how to make the Lair look so much like its own legend — comfortable, intimate and unassuming — a home for the regular, and just as comfortable for a fan.

As I walked into the venue, filled to what had to be capacity with an already sweaty throng, Richman was playing ”My Affected Accent.” He regaled the happy crowd with his characteristically naive banter with, of course, an exaggerated Boston accent. In his eyes, you could see he was still living out his adolescent spirit, belied by the salt-and-pepper in his hair and a few visible lines in his face. The crowd ate up every word, with a few of them hollering out requests (Richman ignored them), and added laughter to the already tight knit atmosphere....

The pair played a hilarious rendition of “The Lovers Are Here and They’re Full of Sweat,” that had the entire audience laughing through the almost uncomfortably appropriate, sweaty heat of the Lair. When they performed the hit “I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar,” he set down his guitar and took up a set of reindeer bells as Larkins played a drum solo, and then had the entire crowd singing the “Ohm-hmm” part of the chorus over and over, never losing that light behind his eyes.

After a short break, Richman was barraged with resounding approval when he asked if we wanted a couple more, and added “…We’re not tired! We just didn’t want to bore you,” and then played easily the best set of the night with “Our Party Will Be On the Beach Tonight,” “He Gave Us the Wine to Taste It,” and a brilliant rendition of “You Must Ask the Heart.”...

The last song, in which he sporadically interrupted himself with narration and wry romantic comedy, inspired a watershed moment for me. I realized that Jonathan isn’t just a brilliant singer-songwriter, nor is he merely the “godfather of punk,” as he’s been dubbed. Jonathan is a quintessential street performer, the archetypal busker. His easy naiveté grasps audiences, and his banter is designed to keep them transfixed until he’s finished, and begins to pass the hat. Only, rather than spare change, Jonathan asks for participation, and to share in his infectious happiness.

You can read everything I skipped here.

The second is from another music blog, Backbeat Online.

Indeed, it's difficult to imagine such communal encouragement and sustained interest taking place at a larger theater. More importantly, perhaps, a larger stage would surely have subtracted from Richman's inimitable stage presence. The founder of the Modern Lovers took full advantage of the small Lion's Lair stage, constantly moving away from his two microphones to sing directly and unamplified to the nearby crowd. Richman found several occasions to temporarily lay aside his guitar in order to take a cowbell solo, a stint on the shaker or just an impassioned dance break.With his eyebrows arched high and his piercing gaze aimed directly at the audience members, Richman seemed on the brink of some kind of emotional breakdown during the entire performance.

The effect of Richman's theatrics and his intensity were as contagious as they were affecting. The sound was simple and the instrumentation understated, but the two performers filled the room with their instrumentation. The audience also kept up a respectful amount of silence during the slower songs and clapped along during the more energetic numbers. The crowd likewise stayed fully engaged during songs that alternated in tone and topic between the ridiculous and the forthright. Richman's pleading, insistent tenor voice and his earnest, searching facial expression elicited encouraging responses during songs like "You Must Ask the Heart," which deals with fairly straightforward matters of love and heartache, and tunes like "I Was Dancing in a Lesbian Bar" and "In High School I was Such a Brat," which incorporate a degree of Dadaistic ridiculousness. Lyrics that casually referenced William F. Buckley got as considerable a response from the crowd as songs about "the springtime of love," rendered in both French in English.

Even Richman's forays into foreign languages and interpretive dances failed to loosen the rapt attention of the crowd, who cheered for the words they did not understand and hooted during the dance breaks. The effect would surely have been lost in a more spacious and more anonymous venue. Songs like "Let Her Go Into the Darkness," "Time Has Been Going By" and "Celestial Es Como El Pan" and "Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild" benefited from Richman's direct input with the crowd. In between verses, Richman would address the audience directly, riffing on a theme and offering observations or anecdotes. What's more, the pair's instrumental approach also seemed ideally suited for a smaller space. Richman's flamenco strumming style and elaborate solos rooted in bar chords played on a nylon string guitar fit the scope of the space, as did Larkins' small jazz drum kit.

Sounds like it was an awesome show, all around. You can read the rest of the last one over here.

I always laugh when people talk about how hot it is at a Jonathan show. Seriously, folks, wear as a few clothes as possible and pray for a cool night. That's your best bet. :)

First two pictures are also from Reverb, the bottom one is from stakerpix.