Friday, April 08, 2011

Festival of Faith and Music 2011, My Brightest Diamond and Matisyahu

Its only been two years since I posted!

Last night Calvin College's great music festival began with a keynote by Shara Worden and the opening concert. Worden was very interesting talking about her background and why she thinks music and art in general should continue to be performed by community not just by professionals. She also performed and was great using several different instruments and vocal styles to play a wide range of music.

I didn't know what to expect with Matisyahu, but the concert was amazing. Matisyahu sang and beat-boxed with two musicians on acoustic guitars. They played lots of originals plus some Marley and really improvised as they went. Matisyahu mentioned that they felt relaxed at that conference and the seemed quite eager to be creative and daring and it made for a special concert.

I'll be updating on the 2nd and 3rd day of FFM as well, which are full days of speakers and concerts.

Monday, April 06, 2009

FFM Concert -- Over the Rhine

The end of the Festival of Faith and Music ended with Over the Rhine, Julie Lee and Aaron Strumpel. Strumpel's band was a great opener. Even though the vocals are kind of weird and there is a fair amount of yelling and chanting the music is great. They are kind of a rowdier Plug Spark Sanjay and incredibly talented musicians who even traded instruments during songs. Julie Lee is not my kind of thing, but put on a decent, though kind of awkward set.

OtR was amazing. The played a ton from The Trumpet Child, but played a lot of older classics as well. As usual, they were quite flexible beginning the set more jazzy, then quickly turning into a rock band with two electric guitars and the best drummer I have seen in a very long time. They were really on their game and quite energetic. A cool end to the Festival.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

FFM '09, Day 2

The Bifrost Arts project led a short service featuring the hymns and sacred music that they non-profit group has been attempting to preserve. Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, was the first keynote speaker of the day and deftly broke down what he thinks makes excellent popular music. He used the Tom Wait song, Picture in a Frame, as his main reference and made some great points. I will be using his points in the way I look at music, especially to see if I agree with his evaluation. Crouch is a great teacher and later I went to his workshop about being consumers and creators. He defined what it means to be a pure consumer and how satisfying and Biblical it is to become more of a producer and kick the habit of consumerism. I Think that so far this has been the session that I will take the most away from.

The artist interview was Cornell West having a conversation with hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco. It was quite entertaining. The most poignant moment was when Lupe said he wanted to be remembered as one who, "did not lead them astray," or if he failed in that goal, he wished not to be remembered at all. West later delivered a powerful keynote, though I am still processing most of what he said.

My other workshop was a conversation between the great David Bazan (former Pedro the Lion) and journalist Jessica Hopper. I am a big fan of Bazan and it was fun to see him talk after hearing him play on Thursday. It was great to hear about the early Tooth and Nail days and great bands like Sal Paradise and Velour 100. Bazan's theological bent is interesting and he is becoming quite the skeptic, but is incredibly thoughtful and genuine.

Out of context phrase of the day: "...older than August..." David Bazan.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Festival of Faith and Music 2009

I am going to quickly blog from the opening day of the Festival yesterday, so that I don't get behind and never write about anything. The opening day was quite fun, beginning with a neat artist interview with the Hold Steady's Craig Finn. He talked a lot about his background and how it affects how he writes. The most interesting thing was how he likes writing with cinematic elements and about characters which allows him to write fuller songs rather than just writing songs in first-person style.

Mokoto Fujimura was incredibly interesting and deep, however, if I try to recap, I will never be able to re-capture what he said. He made a great case for art and things that might seem extravagant but make the world a better place, humanize our world and depending upon your theological bent, please our creator.

I chose to go see David Bazan instead of The Hold Steady and even though I have seen Bazan a few times, it was quite worth it. He began with a few classic Pedro the Lion songs and then played a ton from his new album coming out in August. I have always enjoyed Bazan by himself better than with a backing band (even though Pedro was great) and he was great, confident, relaxed and really on top of his game last night. I couldn't really get into his last EP, but I am now excited for the new album. Also, I have never been to the Ladies Literary Club and it is a really neat venue downtown.

Friday, January 16, 2009

best teen lit (second post)

Cairo by G. Willow Wilson and M.K. Perker

This is my Graphic Novel of the year (actually came out in late 2007) though there were some other worthy titles. The authors weave a story that takes place in Cairo and involves an American tourist, a soldier, a drug runner, a potential suicide bomber and a reporter. Everything fits quite well together and is somehow political, religious and recounts some legends without ruining the flow. This is an outstanding GN.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Best Teen Lit

So, I have been getting back into writing a little bit and will also start going through my Top Ten Teen books of the past year. I'm still, however, reading a lot of the potential award winners, so the list could be greatly altered as I go and some of them I read almost a year ago. Anyway, the first of my current favorites (revealed in alphabetical order) is:

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

17-year old Jenna has woke up from a coma in a new place with memories that don't quite fit with her new reality. Pearson writes a incredibly engaging story as Jenna begins to find out what happened to her. This novel blends a coming of age story with science fiction (it is almost cyber-punkish, but I can't actually go that far). Unfortunately, this is one of those books that if I say anything beyond one or two sentences I will completely ruin the book, so that is all I'm saying on this one.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Best Music in '07 that I Didn't Know About Until '08.

I'm going to be going through my favorite Cd's of the year, because year end lists are awesome, but first here are two I would have put on my 2007 list if I had heard them soon enough.

Plauge Park by the Handsome Furs.

Plaugue Park is a killer lo-fi combination of electronics, guitars and distortion. This short, 9-track disc shows off the folky sensibilities of Wolf Parade's Dan Boeckner, who partners here with Alexei Perry. While this is a moody piece, Boeckner creates a hopeful soundscape that can be listened to on many levels. Obvious comparisons are to Postal Service, though it also reminds me of The Decemberists and Iron and Wine's The Shepherd's Dog.

The Ghost that Carried Us Away by Seabear

Why didn't I know about this band? The only thing I really know about them is that they are from Iceland and they are awesome. Seabear is unabashedly indie-pop and gets the disc off to a great start with the instrumental (should be used in a soundtrack) Good Morning Scarecrow. Top to bottom this is an incredibly solid disc in every way. The lyrics are also interesting like on Arms they write, "left your black gloves on my table/ left your dark horse in the stable/ thinking of a way to get you to stay/ and I'll promise to/ fight the wind and wait for you/ I'm an owl with tired eyes/ I'm a scarecrow in disguise." This is just a fun, stirring album with some traditional folk elements and indie-pop goodness. Fans of Elliot Smith and Death Cab for Cutie will enjoy this.