Community Talk: Jam Room Music Festival 2015, with Tracie Broom on Headliner Blonde Redhead

My 20-year Love Affair with Blonde Redhead, Jam Room Music Festival Headliner And why I screamed out loud when they were announced

By Tracie Broom

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I’m in a magical long-term relationship that is continuing to roll strong, thanks to the Jam Room Music Festival. While friends know that I connected with my super-wonderful partner Scott at the 2014 festival, resulting in a really rather phenomenal LTR, I’m actually talking about my two-decade love affair with this year’s JRMF headliner band, Blonde Redhead.

Before getting into music nerd territory, I’d like to go ahead and lay down my top 5 reasons why Oct. 3 on Main Street in Columbia, S.C. is going to be amazing:

  1. It is a miracle that a band of the international stature and coolness of Blonde Redhead is playing in Columbia, S.C. – at a free festival, no less. I cannot overstate this.
  2. It’s their only Southeast gig on this tour. Total booking coup! (That in mind, if you are a fan, consider donating what you would have spent on gas and hotel to the nonprofit Jam Room Music Festival. I did, and it feels GREAT.)
  3. They are the best, and most consistently excellent, live band I’ve ever seen. Like many of you, I have seen tonzzzz of great bands, so this is a pretty big deal. They combine technical virtuosity with a dreamy, melodic, and very modern sound based in the math rock and post-punk electro-indie thing of the early 2000s, now transmogrified into the kind of highly-produced, creamy-but-ultra-cool music you can listen to while working on the computer or cleaning the house. Live, they kill it all.
  4. The JRMF is the best festival in the Midlands for combo of high-quality indie bands, very chill street scene, and the fun of running into a frillion people you know and like very much from various eras throughout your life here.
  5. The organizers don’t do it for the money; they do it because they love music and they love their community. This is powerful juju and it works.

I first heard about Blonde Redhead when I was an undergrad at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. A Brooklyn-based band, they were playing in the basement of WestCo dorm. I wish I could remember more about the show, but suffice to say that it was during their noise-ish days, probably 1994, the year they formed and released their self-titled debut, or maybe 1995 when they released La Mia Vita Violenta. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the show, but I went on to follow them throughout my years living in San Francisco, seeing them just about every time they performed live between 1997 and 2009, which was only maybe five times.

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A Blonde Redhead show was a rare treat, even in a major market like SF.

Japanese singer/guitarist Kazu Makino is not only the definition of the term “hauntingly beautiful” and wears the most remarkable designer outfits, but the Milanese twin brothers, Amedeo and Simone Pace (guitar and drums, respectively) are wildly salt-and-pepper handsome. They make quite an impression hitting the stage. Then they start playing one of their rolling, wistful yet badass songs, she takes the mic, closes her eyes, starts swaying, and then unleashes the most ethereal singing voice in all of the indie music world, breathy yet unconcerned: the perfect formula. The whole audience tends to be transfixed at this point, having fallen in love with all three of them.

Which brings me to a fun fact: Kazu and Amedeo’s romantic relationship.

From Stereogum, who explains it best:

“The real heart-swelling moment [of the album Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons] comes from ‘This Is Not.’ Makino and Amedeo's romantic relationship is not a band secret and it gives them a palpable chemistry during their live performances, but you can hear it in her voice with this song. Lyrically straightforward, she describes the silver linings of a failed courtship in a love letter to both Pace twins: "She left everything/ traveled to the other side of the world … a series of meaningless movements/ And then by chance she met/ You and your brother/ The moment she saw you/ She knew you were made for her."

I mean, it’s pretty compelling stuff.

I remember when Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons – my favorite of all of their albums – was released in 2000. It was the height of the dot com era in San Francisco, I had extra cash from reviewing cell phones for CNET, and I’d already gotten to see the band live at Bottom of the Hill once, maybe twice. I want to say that I nabbed that record from Napster, as well as a live recording at Bottom of the Hill at one of the shows I attended – I still have it and love it when it comes up in my iTunes shuffle. (I have since paid full price for all of their subsequent albums; it took a year or two for me to grasp that illegal download portals were killing artists more than they were killing “the Man.”) I get excited whenever they release a new album, such as the most recent, 2014’s Barragan.

My top 10 Blonde Redhead songs to look up and give a listen:

  1. This is Not,” Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, 2000
  2. Elephant Woman,” Misery is a Butterfly, 2004
  3. In Particular,” Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons, 2000
  4. Falling Man,” Misery is a Butterfly, 2004
  5. Missile,” In an Expression of the Inexpressible, 1998
  6. I Still Get Rocks Off” (their breakout hit), La Mia Vita Violenta, 1995
  7. My Impure Hair,” 23, 2007
  8. Futurism vs. Passeism,” Fake Can Be Just As Good, 1997
  9. Dripping,” Barragan, 2014
  10. Penultimo,” Barragan, 2014

I could go on and on about Blonde Redhead and their history, or you can just Google them and discover for yourself what an enormously huge deal they are internationally and in the States.

I screamed out loud when Jam Room Music Festival founder Jay Matheson announced them as this year’s headliner at a festival kickoff party at The Whig this summer. Tears followed. Kind-of accidentally made a scene. I don’t really get hysterical in public, because I am supposed to be all grown up and such, but it was just such an exciting shock that somehow, quite magically, these guys had landed one of the rarest birds in indie rock royalty, ever.

Let’s go see this band together! They will play the final set of the Jam Room Music Festival on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Main and Hampton Streets in downtown Columbia, S.C. Free! There will be good beer by The Whig, bike valet by the Cola Town Bicycle Co-op, progressive local food vendors and more.

You can check out the rest of the lineup and donate funds to the nonprofit Jam Room Music Festival at www.jamroommusicfestival.com.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uger0WtSUso

 

More about tomatoes than you probably want to know - but read this anyway. What Jasper Said!

 

“It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.”

-- Lewis Grizzard

 

 

It's no surprise to those of you who choose to read What Jasper Said that there is art in everything -- music in the crackle of a fire and dance in the sway of the trees, for example. No matter how you feel about all things great and small, it's impossible to ignore the fact that nature provides us with some of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring sights  we ever have the joy to see.

Take, for example, the lowly tomato.

If there's a caliper by which any Southern garden can be gauged, a singular standard of judgment -- not necessarily of quantity but of quality -- it is the wholly unlikely but potentially perfect tomato. The master measure of any gardener worth her salt is the firmness, roundness, color, texture, and taste of the lycopersicon esculentum -- literally, "edible wolf peach."

From the meaty fruits that grow in twisted bushes out by the barn (pronounced "may-ters") to the glorious globes meticulously mulched and precisely staked by women's garden clubs (pronounced "toe-mah-toes"), Southerners will stretch budgets, backs, patience, and sometimes even the truth to brag about their exceptional poma amoris -- love apples of the vine.

As versatile as the very soil in which we sow them is the tomato itself, which we boil, broil, stew, stuff, pickle, puree, glaze, grill, sun-dry, simmer, saute, fry green with cornmeal and pepper, slather with mayo on snow-white bread, or juice and stir with vodka and Tobasco. A dieter's delight, tomatoes are low in sodium, free of fat and cholesterol, and a superb source of potassium, beta carotene, and vitamins A and C to boot. One medium tomato is 35 calories -- and that's if you eat the whole thing. Which many of us do. Happily.

Eighty-five percent of the 30 million back-yard gardeners in America grow one or more of the literally hundreds of tomato varieties with which geneticists and seed-savers have provided us. With the likes of Big Girls, Better Boys, Bonnies, and more exotic mutations such as Royal Chico, Macbeth's Bloody Hand, and Sub-Arctic Plenty (touted as being the world's earliest tomato, coming into fruition in just six weeks), tomato production has doubled worldwide over the last two decades with the average person eating 80 pounds of them every year. Nowadays, South Carolina is among the top five states in tomato market production, and we, by the way, produce the kind that you can actually eat -- not those green, mealy, gassed  tennis balls the other coast is known for.

But tomatoes didn't become fashionable in our region until after the Civil War. It's thought that the original aggie-sized fruits grew wild in South America, probably Peru, and were eaten by the ancient Incas. Along with other treasures, early explorers took tomatoes back to Europe where both Italians and Spaniards readily adopted them into their diets and, eventually, brought them to the New World. Even then, colonial Americans eschewed tomato consumption based on the bad reputation of the tomato's kin -- the dreaded nightshade family, which makes them kissing cousins with the potentially poisonous mandrake and belladonna.

Thomas Jefferson was one of the first farmers to take a chance and plant tomatoes in his garden in Monticello in 1781. And to publicly prove the tomato's virtue, another champion, whose name we've lost to history, stood on the courthouse steps in Salem, New Jersey in 1820, where he publicly devoured one of the delicacies -- and lived to tell the tale. That and like testimonies, combined with enlightened plant breeders who produced plumper, tastier tomatoes, made the prospects of stewing up a pot of summer soup (tomatoes with okra and corn), much more palatable to the Southern chef.

To set the record straight -- yes, the tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable. That said, even though a USDA official during the Reagan administration, in response to the mandate to cut the school lunch program budget, proclaimed that not only was the tomato a vegetable but that ketchup satisfied a veggie requirement on our kids' lunch trays. After a pelting of rotten tomatoes, he left his post. In reality, tomatoes are fruits of the berry family.

This weekend, we honor the tomato at Columbia's own Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival with music, socializing, and most importantly, mater munching. Next year, Jasper told me he'd like to sponsor an art exhibit to coincide with the fest. But this raises the question -- is it even possible to capture the elusive beauty of the blessed fruit on canvas? I don't know, but I'd like to find out.

For more on the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival please visit the website and consider buying your tickets early. In the meantime, my friend Tracie Broom has shared some of  her photos depicting the beauty of tomatoes with Jasper. Take a look below, lick your lips a bit, and come and see us on Sunday at the Palmetto Tasty Tomato Festival at City Roots urban farm in Columbia.

 

Cedar Lake: Stunning, Post-Modern Choreography Hits Spoleto U.S.A. -- A Guest Blog by Tracie Broom

Twenty seconds into Cedar Lake’s first piece, “Violet Kid,” at their June 2, 2012 performance at Gaillard Auditorium during Spoleto U.S.A. in Charleston, SC, tears were pouring down my face. The choreography, full of licks descended from the hallowed ground of high-end, post-modern release technique – blisteringly physical and intellectual – was so unbelievably GOOD.

Maybe you’ve seen the 2011 Matt Damon movie, The Adjustment Bureau? Damon’s love interest, played by Emily Blunt, leads a dance company in NYC called Cedar Lake, and he spends half the film shouting, “Where is Cedar Lake!” in an effort to find her while eluding guys in fedoras. Well, he finds her, spending a quiet moment marveling as the Cedar Lake dance company performs. This performance is so very, very good that I found myself marveling, too. It was like nothing I’d seen in a “non-dance” movie since a few snippets in the 1996 Bertolucci film Stealing Beauty. (Remember that?)

 

When my Spoleto 2012 program arrived in the mail, mere days after my catching The Adjustment Bureau on cable, how stoked was I that Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet was coming to SC? Pretty stoked. Bought tickets immediately. (Talk about effective brand placement in a film, no?)

Led by Artistic Director Benoit-Swan Pouffer and based in New York City, Cedar Lake’s mission is “to provide choreographers a comprehensive environment for creation and presentation.” Noted by Kinsey Gidick, reporting for Charleston City Paper from the after party the night of June 2 at the College of Charleston President’s House, “The beauty of Cedar Lake is that Walmart heiress and founder, Nancy Walton Laurie, has been insistent that her performers be able to do contemporary ballet as a full-time job, which is to say the cast members live in New York City and don't have to have second and third jobs to survive.”

Guest choreographer Hofesh Schecter, who designed or collaborated on every aspect of “Violet Kid” including the stark, cinematic lighting, edgy music, and everyday costumes, somehow managed to fit all of the absolutely coolest, best parts of post-modern technique and composition into one great, glorious 33-minute piece for 14 dancers. Virtuosic athleticism. Focused, unemotional execution. Intricate, pedestrian movement vocabulary, manipulated into dozens of phrases which were then deconstructed and reassembled into even more variations. Each piece was revisited and made large, small, narrowing, expanding, rising, sinking, slow, fast, impossibly fast, and every other Laban Movement Analysis term I can remember from my dance degree studies at Wesleyan University. This piece used every compositional tool in the box, and thoroughly. What a pleasure to watch.

A consistent return to familiar movements took dancers through every sort of level change, plane (sagittal, horizontal, vertical), and group permutation from solo to duet, trio, quartet, on up to the entire cast thundering across the floor in multiple traveling sequences that, paired with Schecter’s musical composition, gave one goosebumps. (At our beach house that night after the show, inspired, we implemented a rule that you had to “travel” across the floor at least once a day for the remainder of the trip.)

Canon and unison came and went, with A groups, B groups, C groups, D groups and even E groups roiling about, as bits and pieces of traditional Jewish dances made their way into the work, altered and compressed with bits of hip-hop, classical ballet, and contact improvisation until they were barely recognizable.

This, all happening in the middle of downtown Charleston, South Carolina on a Saturday afternoon.

Movement-wise, release technique greats were called to mind: Jose Limon, Bill T. Jones, Ralph Lemon, Trisha Brown, Stephen Petronio, etc. but I noticed subtle nods to the strict, modern traditions of Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham, too. The technique also reminded me fondly of my favorite release teacher back in San Francisco, ODC’s Kathleen Hermesdorf. Reading the program after the performance, I was delighted to read that the U.K-based Schecter has worked with legendary post-modern choreographers like Wim Vandekeybus, who was one of our idols in college for his uncommon, hyper-athletic work.

Unobtrusive costuming consisted of cargo pants and casual shirts in varying shades of khaki, gray, and coral. The music, a lengthy, contemporary classical/modern electronic piece composed by Schecter, featured a live double bass string trio performing in 1800s drab dresses atop a raised platform on stage. The work called up a cross between the most melancholic bits of the Tristan und Isolde prelude by Wagner, the post-mod noise you might enjoy at Conundrum Music Hall, and the deep, sliding strings of the Balanescu Quartet. It was perfect.

Two other pieces comprised the two-hour program. “Annonciation,” was a contemplative, idiosyncratic duet choreographed by post-modern ballet legend Angelin Preljocaj. The third piece, “Grace Engine,” was devised for 15 dancers by Crystal Pite, who has choreographed for phenomenal Spoleto U.S.A. alum Nederlands Dans Theater. While both pieces were extraordinary, neither could quite match the fullness and scope of the opener, and “Grace Engine” was a little too emotionally overwrought for my taste. Overall, however, the program was one for the books. To say that Hofesh Schecter is a genius is a blithering, silly understatement, and I’m honored to have seen this remarkable dance company perform his work.

To view videos of Cedar Lake in performance, start here: http://cedarlakedance.com/repertoire

- Tracie Broom

 Tracie Broom is a post-modern dance snob who likes nothing more than to be put in her place by brilliant work. She lives and works in Columbia, SC.

 

 

2012 Resolutions for & by Columbia artists & arts lovers

We know that you all have your own resolutions to worry/quickly forget about, but we thought you might like a peek into what's going on in the brains of some of your friends and neighbors. Here's a small sample of what we heard from folks when we asked them

What would you resolve for 2012 for the Greater Columbia Arts Community?

Musician Chris Powell says,

“I'd like to see ColaTown artists in residence resolve to double their output and involvement in 2012. Isn't the world ending this year or something? May as well quit your dayjob and pump out some jams. Nothing to lose!”

Arts Supporter Tracie Broom says,

“For those who extol Columbia's virtues as a cultural destination already, keep it up! Positive talk adds to our city's collective unconscious and its outward appearance, making it more attractive to creatives, knowledge economy workers, investors, & companies who could, down the road, become arts sponsors! For those who range from kind of negatory to downright pessimistic about Colatown, I challenge you to employ my mother's old tactic when you feel the urge to denigrate our city: if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.”

Visual and Performing Artist Alex Smith says,

“Work together, and if you can't, cut the backstabbing rumor-mongering bullshit and address the problem directly. If you can't be adult enough to do that, you are a community of one (or two if you can get your B.F.F. to go along with you) and you are dead weight on the barely floating boat of a community that the rest of us are trying to create here.”

Visual Artist Susan Lenz says,

“A great New Year's resolution for the entire Columbia arts community COULD be to use an all inclusive, good-looking, easy-to-navigate, totally complete arts calendar if Santa brought it to us!

Individually, I've always made "professional" New Year's resolutions. Past years were for Mouse House and dealt with trying to find personal time for art. Like the stereotypical "go on a diet" resolutions, they never worked. Finally, I forcibly downsized Mouse House and my New Year's resolutions started being about my creative process and artistic goals. Amazingly, I've been successful with every resolution. Three years ago my goal was to get "real, quality gallery representation". It took until September ... but I'm now in the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville. Two years ago my goal was to find a professional, juried or adjudicated affliation ... and now I'm a PAM (Professional Artist Member) of Studio Art Quilt Associates. Last year my goal was to get a solo show in an accredited museum ... and I had "Personal Grounds" with my Decision Portrait Series at Waterworks Visual Arts in Salisbury. I haven't set my goal for 2012 but I'm open to suggestions! It's got to be a "big goal" ... something really worth the effort!”

Performing Artist Chris Bickel says, (and we really like this,)

"I'd like to see the arts community resolve to be more self-critical and open to constructive criticism. While it's extremely important for a small and growing art scene to be a supportive community, that support can sometimes devolve into glad-handing which doesn't serve to create an atmosphere where artists challenge themselves. We should seek to be constructive with our criticisms and thick-skinned enough to take them.”

 

No matter what you reject or resolve, Jasper Magazine wishes you all a wonderful 2012 filled with new projects, cooperation, busy calendars, inspiration, productivity, community involvement, and accomplishment.

 

Happy New Year!

Love,

Jasper

 

 

 

Christmas Wishes for and from the Columbia Arts Community, Part II

(This is a continuation of a blog posted on Christmas Eve -- please start your reading here, and then join this blog post in progress.)  

 

from Cassie Premo Steele

An inner sense of validation of one's self, spirit, health, and creativity. We no longer need to look outside ourselves to know that we, ourselves, and our work are valid. We can be who we truly are and create from that shining place.

from  Noah Brock

Santa should bring the arts community the power to stand together to remove the confederate flag. The arts community should resolve to do the aforementioned so that artists and performers we enjoy and love will be more willing to play in Columbia. IT’S 2012! LET US GET IT DOWN THIS YEAR!

 

from Susan Lenz

I'd love for Santa to bring an arts calendar to Columbia ... something easy to navigate, used by all individual artists and organizations ... on a permanent Internet site (not just on Facebook) ... updated regularly ... better looking and more complete than "welcome to the weekend" ... and with images. Maybe Jeffrey can be Santa again ... or at least be part of the present ... with the rest of the gift being the funding that would make it all possible!

 

from Coralee Harris

Access to Bill Gates checking account so we can fund the myriad of projects that currently exist only in the minds of our talented artists. . .and in the absence of that, we probably need to do more classes on grant writing for the artists and performers so they can have a better shot at getting more funding.

 

from Robert Michalski

I want Santa to bring the Columbia arts community inspiration and financial success!

 

 

from Tracie Broom

For the young orgs, funding for paid staff and infrastructure would be pretty fantastic. For everyone? A few more hardcore, dedicated super-volunteers who take the lead and get things done well. Those folks are like human gold.

 

 

from Bonnie Goldberg

I wish for Santa to bring a continued love of the arts to a community already filled with curiosity, creativity, and love and support for one another where we will continue to gather and grow and make our Columbia one of the premiere art destinations in the world....happy holidays, Columbia artists!

 

Look for New Year's resolutions from Columbia artists and arts supporters coming soon. To add your own wish for the New Year, please comment below or send your resolution to

editor@jaspercolumbia.com

 

 

 

 

 

Jasper's Ghost Story Salon at 701 Whaley = Scarily Fun

The Jasper family has been busy of late putting together the finishing touches on your next issue of the magazine, but we took some time to celebrate All Saint's Eve by staging a Ghost Story Salon on Halloween night as part of the 701 Whaley amazing Halloween Costume party staged by Tracie Broom and Debi Shadel of Flock and Rally.  We were fortunate to have some of the most talented story tellers in the community share their gifts of conjuring up a mood with us. Sometimes it was a little hard to hear, but it was always a lot of fun. Have a look below at the tellers of the tales.

Coralee Harris

Jasper has been busy

Jasper has been busy and we'd like to take a moment to share what we've been up to with you, our loyal readers.

To start with, we released the inaugural issue of Jasper Magazine - The Word on Columbia Arts in print form last Thursday night at a lovely party, hosted by one of our favorite places for imbibing, Speakeasy on Saluda Street in Five Points. It was a grand night, and we were overwhelmed by the kindness and support of the arts community. Thank you all so very much for your kind words and your presence at our birthday party for Jasper. Thanks also to Speakeasy for hosting us and Josh Roberts for entertaining us.

Local Gallery Owner Lynn Sky checks out centerfold artist, Michael Krajewski.

The Jasper staff and family has been busy distributing magazines throughout the city. But if we haven't gotten to you yet, not to worry -- we're diligent and we still have more than half of our inventory on hand. That said, we're happy to take your recommendations of spots where you would like to see Jasper distributed. By week's end, we should be all over the Columbia metropolitan area, including Camden, Chapin, Prosperity, and Newberry. And soon, you'll be able to find us in Greenville and Spartanburg, as well.

Lenza Jolley, our web maven, has also been hard at work building our brand new website. If  you haven't had a chance yet, please visit us at www.jaspercolumbia.com. We hope to make jaspercolumbia.com an extension of the print version of Jasper Magazine. To that end, please find more music by Josh Roberts, more art by David Yaghjian, more poetry by all of our featured poets, well ... more of everything, we hope, at our new cyber home.

 

 

As you may know, Jasper comes out in print form once every other month on the 15th of the month. If the 15th falls on a weekend, then look for us on the Thursday prior to that date. Our next issue will release on Tuesday, November 15th, for example, but the following issue will release on Thursday, January 12th -- and yes, we plan to celebrate every single issue that hits the streets! But the reality is that Jasper wants to see his arts buddies more than just six times per year. That's just one of the reasons we will be coming to you on our off-print months with various projects and events.

  • On Wednesday, October 26th at 7 pm, please join us for our first ever Pint and Poem Walk. Look for more information on how to sign up for one of only 25 spaces on this one-of-a-kind walk in the coming week at jaspercolumbia.com.
  • On Monday, October 31st, Jasper will host our first ever Ghost Story Salon as part of 701 CCA's Halloween Night Costume Bash. We're busy gathering all the great tellers of tales of ghosts and ghouls from around town to entertain you, via candlelight and creepy tunes, upstairs in the Olympia Room at 701 Whaley CCA.
  • The first stage of our first ever Coalescence Project is well underway as photographers throughout the midlands are submitting their work to Jasper Magazine Coalescence Series - Volume 1: Photography and the Word (http://jaspercolumbia.net/blog/?p=357). October 15th is the deadline for photography and which point local writers will be invited to come try their hands at creating 500 word or less stories to "illustrate" the photographic images. The completed project -- Photography and the Word -- will be unveiled in December.

Finally, we have moved into our studio office downstairs at the Tapp's Arts Center on Main Street and we are in the process of tidying up and making pretty. Please join us for a little open house on Thursday, October 6th as Jasper Magazine happily becomes a part of the First Thursday Arts Crawl community. We'll get back to you before then with more information on the treats we'll have in store as we welcome you to our new creative home.

Until then, thanks for reading Columbia. And thanks for giving us so many good works to write about.

Cheers!

 

 

 

(Photos courtesy of Jasper associate editor Kristine Hartvigsen)