• Third time's the charm! "I must be in the FRONT ROW..."

    13 fév. 2011, 16h14m

    Sat 12 Feb – Huun-Huur-Tu
    After getting seats in the Somerville Theater's balcony the first time I saw them, then next time near the back of the Somerville's, er, "orchestra level," tonight's general admission at the First Church in Cambridge Congregational permitted coveted front row center seats (well within the percussions of Alexei's rumbling drum) for my surprisingly "into it" 13 year-old son, my brother and me.

    Huun-Huur-Tu took seats in their customary Radik/Kaigol-Ool/Bapa/Alexei left-to-right array on an elevated stage on the sanctuary's alter about 15 feet forward of us and they commenced per custom with "Prayer." Always an immediate litmus as to how the Tuvans are holding up on tour, tonight's "Prayer" showed each man's khoomei in fine form (especially and thankfully Sayan Bapa, whose earth-shaking kargyraa was practically out-of-order for clogged sinuses last time I saw them perform).

    That "Prayer" did not immediately segue into "Ancestors" as it has in studio- and live-recordings and in the two previous performances I've attended was one of tonight's very few surprises. Instead galloping into the energetic "Chiraa-Khoor (The Yellow Trotter)," Huun-Huur-Tu mixed fast, slow and solo numbers adroitly in their fine, crowd-pleasing set. Radik provided an early - and extremely entrancing for its sustained ululations - solo Szygt; Kaigol-Ool provided the evening's solo Mountain Kargyraa. Other popular numbers - "Kongurei," "The Orphan's Lament," "Kozhamyk," "Remembering Ulaatai River," "Saryglarlar" - were all breathed new vitality for the new arrangements which they were given on 2010's excellent "Ancestors Call."

    The evening's finale certainly provided its highlights by playing to every expectation. Firstly came Huun-Huur-Tu's customary penultimate number, "Odigen Taiga." As magical a song as HHT plays, emulating the sounds of evening's arrival to Tuva's northern forest through the onomatopoeia of the players' instrumental and vocal expertise, tonight's version was not the seeming gentle late-summer sunset that is usually depicted by the band. Instead, the intensity of everything was increased to the effect of depicting an impending storm - the drums rumbled like more local thunder, Kaigol-Ool's bird-calls less like content hoot-owls and more like threatening raptors, the wolves' howl weren't distantly intoned through a horn but violently and menacingly howl-growled by Kolvheig. I could complain that the song's spells was broken prematurely by the bonehead to my left who started clapping as the number wound to its conclusion with intermittent silence amidst hoots and trills, but I'll cut him some slack (his offense was FAR less egregious than that of the douchebag whose unsilenced cell-phone rang during the same coda a few years back...).

    Wrapping-up with highly energized versions of "Aa-Shuu Deiki-Oo," and then "Eki Attar" for an encore after a well-earned standing ovation, the band made clear that they had drawn power over the eveing from one of their original and favorite US audiences.

    [Note: Beyond recommending the superb, back-to-basics "Ancestors Call" to readers, I encourge both fans and interested newcomers to check out the available excerpts from's extremely hi-res, hi-fi "Live at Fantasy Studio" film and also HHT's very recent WFMU "in studio" available at]
  • Anything you could want and expect

    10 déc. 2010, 12h39m

    Thu 9 Dec – BERT JANSCH with Pegi Young (folk legends)

    The only bad thing which can be said about this gig is the Pegi (Mrs. Neil) Young and her band were a somnolent and totally misfit opening act for Bert.

    The master himself did precisely what the crowd of only 250-300 hoped for: he sat down with just his acoustic and played so many great songs - e.g. "A Woman Like You," a fantastically tender rendering of "She Moved Through The Fair" and a pair of gems from Jackson C. Frank's "Blues Run The Game" (including that title-cut).

    For a 67 year-old who recently underwent heart-surgery and very nearly drank himself to an early grave, Bert sounded unbelievably vital and in-command of his instrument (though he did roll his eyes when I called for "Anji"). Comparing tonight's gig to Bert's self-titled debut from 1965 on the way home, it was almost impossible to believe 45 years separated the performances.

    This is a master musician who won't often, if ever again, tour this side of the pond in the future. Anyone in a position to catch the few remaining gigs on this mini-tour is strongly urged not to miss an opportunity to see him:

    SAT DEC 11 - HARTFORD, CT - Wadsworth Atheneum (with the Pegi Young Band)
    MON DEC 13 - WASHINGTON, DC (VIENNA, VA) - Jammin Java (with the Pegi Young Band)
    WED DEC 15 - BROOKLYN, NY - Bell House (with the Pegi Young Band)
    FRI DEC 17 - PITTSBURGH, PA - First Unitarian Church (with the Pegi Young Band)
    SAT DEC 18 - BUFFALO, NY - Town Ballroom
    MON DEC 20 - NEW YORK, NY - Iridium
  • This is the test journal which I'll be eliminating after I get a sense of what it…

    3 juin 2010, 18h05m

    [If, as a friend, you received a copy of this blather, please drop me a shout and let me know.]