Archive for March, 2006

John Jacob Niles – Dean of American Balladeers

Friday, March 10th, 2006

Artist: John Jacob Niles
Songs: The Gambling Song of the Big Sandy River | Little Black Star | Brother’s Revenge | The Maid Freed From Gallows
CDs: Tradition Years: I Wonder as I Wander [Buy][itunes]
My Precarious Life In The Public Domain [Buy]
Genre: Appalachian bardic folklore

The music of John Jacob Niles fills my mind with pictures and questions. His voice is from another world, singing somewhere between hymn and howl, it breathes real life into his subjects. His song comes from misty peaks and musty cabins. With dirt ingrained in its deftly roving fingers it weaves stories of lords and ladies, of gallows, gambling and lonesome riverside roads, wanderlust, tragedy, and revenge; of tales that were told when old wives were young.

Many of his songs are rooted in Appalachian folklore; forged in the mountains I grew up not terribly far from. He died in the year I was born, having seen many of the same things that I would soon come to know, yet somehow it’s hard to fathom our worlds even being connected.

Living in a place for a long time will almost invariably blunt your appreciation of its special beauty and personality. Listening to those scenes through the songs of John Jacob Niles is like seeing them for the first time. They can be mysterious and enchanting, and they still have secrets to share.

Unfortunately most of his work is not widely available, (just those two cd’s above) so you’ll have to look for online auctions or local record stores, but it’s totally worth it in my opinion.

Lotus House

Monday, March 6th, 2006

lotus house, kengo kuma

Here is some interesting architecture from Kengo Kuma & Associates. It’s a combination of natural elements with geometric repetition and optical illusion. I think if you were there, the shadows and reflections would sort of make it look like two different worlds were connecting. I bet it makes interesting sounds in a strong breeze too.

Still working on part 2 of that hiphop thing. Extra busy with job stuff currently, but that should be slowing down soonish. I’ll have some submissions and new bands coming up after the break as well…