Wednesday, March 04, 2015


One of the small joys received from attending Iceland Airwaves is seeing an unknown artist emerge years later with a new EP release. I last saw Hekla Magnúsdóttir playing theremin with the Icelandic surf band Bárujárn in 2009. Outside of being the only theremin player in the festival, she also stood out for her fearless playing of a difficult instrument. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she had an album of her compositions available on line, some of which even had a video as well. Hekla is definitely on her own 'island' of eerie electronica; she describes it as being a bit 'horrible' at times, but perfect for the moods she is trying to create. It would make a perfect soundtrack for the recent installments of The Matriarchy. I got a big kick out of her in 2009 and an even bigger one from the six tracks on this 'album'.

Here's a little feature on Hekla from the Reykjavík Grapevine:

You can preview the album and order it as a download from her website.

Hekla rocking out in 2009 with Bárujárn:

What a sweetheart!

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Campbell Brothers' Love Supreme

February 26, 2015

   The 'sacred steel' sounds of the Campbell Brothers transformed the post-modern Walker Art Center's McGuire Theater into the Gospel according to John Coltrane last Thursday evening. Steel guitars are the "weird uncle" of the guitar family, their emotive and sometimes otherworldly cries can reach places in a listener's subconscious that are usually the province of vocalists, violinists, and theremin players. The Campbell Brothers are the world's foremost practitioners of this esoteric discipline. When they set out to interpret John Coltrane's masterpiece A Love Supreme, music aficionados took notice.

   This was a refreshingly honest concert: no light shows, costumes or other gimmicks, just the Brothers and the music they love. Even the sound was unaugmented, although the amplifiers and drums were being miked, it was for a radio simulcast, not for the PA system. Starting off with a few of their 'hits', a captivating groove was set from the beginning, Wade in the Water, Hell No, Heaven Yes, and an emotional rendition of Sam Cooke's A Change is Gonna Come. The centerpiece of the show was, of course, A Love Supreme, nearly forty minutes of inspired play/worship. Transcendent at times, driven by Phillip Campbell's driving chords and his son Carl's inventive drumming and the soaring sounds of Chuck and Darrick's steel playing. It isn't often that such merging of styles is so seamlessly integrated. Bassist Daric Bennett was exemplary as well, holding down the groove with a minimal style, yet also opening up on an extended solo.

   A welcome break from the midwinter blahs, a restorative for mind and spirit.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Sunday Matinee #9

My Pink Guitar:

By Professor Batty

Comments: 3 

Friday, February 27, 2015

White Rock Maiden

   "I'll take you up on that offer of a ride now, if it's still good."

   Edwin was speaking to Sean as they were eating breakfast with Tina. Mary was still asleep and although Sean was tempted to put his ring on to be able to experience what she was dreaming he didn't, knowing that it would interfere with her needed rest.

   "Sure, Edwin, I'll take you right now. Mary should be up by the time I get back. She had a restless night, and the thunder kept us both awake until midnight." said Sean. "I've got some boxes in the car I want to take to the UPS store to ship back to Seattle.

   "I hope she is aware of what she's getting into." said Tina. "I can't help but think that she's in real danger."

   "She's never been one to back down from a challenge." said Sean. "Is there anything you need from town, Tina?"

   "Twinings black tea, half and half. Something for dinner tonight, if you want, other wise I can make a meat loaf." Tina said. "How long will you be gone?"

   "I should be back by twelve at the latest." said Sean.

   While Sean drove to town, Edwin was quiet. Finally Sen spoke:

   "Do you think you'll be spending much time at Tina's this summer, at least until the auction?"

   "That's entirely up to Tina." Edwin said. "I wouldn't want her to think I was taking advantage of her."

   "She'll let you know. She's the kind of person who speaks her mind. It would be a big change for her, of course, as will leaving the farm in the fall. What about you Edwin? Would you consider moving into an assisted living place to be near her?"

   "Old habits die hard, Sean." Edwin said, "My apartment above the shop is all I've known since I came back from Korea. It's been sixty years."

   "And almost seventy since Emily left." said Sean. "Mary's last visitation from Emily was very disturbing. She feels as if Emily is still alive or, rather, still exists in some form."
   "That may well be. It seems that Mary is the only person who has the power to reach her." Edwin said, shaking his head. "We're only playing supporting roles in this drama, Sean.  Emily and Mary will have to see this through. And the baby, of course, in the next generation."

  "The baby." said Sean.


   "Where's Sean?" said Mary as she walked into the kitchen.

   "He's bringing Edwin into town, and is going to run some errands. He said he'd be back by noon." said Tina. "Were you finally able to get some sleep?"

   "The thunderstorm was bad enough, but the visitation from Emily I had in Mineral Point Saturday night keeps coming back to me in dreams. I feel that she still exists: imprisoned, in some physical form, somewhere."

   "How many more of Emily's 'sites' will you be visiting?" said Tina.

   "Four. If I do two today and two tomorrow we should be able to head back on Wednesday. Not that I'm in a hurry, it's been great being here, but 'real' life is waiting for me in Seattle. One of the sites on Edwin's map isn't far from here," said Mary, as she pointed to the map, "I should be able to walk there."

   Tina looked at the map closely.

   "That's Edwin's parent's place. Didn't he tell you that?" said Tina, "It's probably a ruin now, it was abandoned and surrounded by a thicket the last time I walked back there. When the bridge washed out they never bothered to make a new road, so it's been left alone for a long time.  It's accessible by foot, if you don't mind wading through the creek."

   "It's about a mile, right?" said Mary. "I'll be able to get there and back by the time Sean returns."

   "A mile more or less, although you might have to backtrack a little." said Tina, "Be careful in the creek, it might be running high. An old cow path that starts right behind the barn, if there's any trace of it left it will lead you to Edwin's parent's place. No breakfast?"

   "I'll take a banana, I won't be gone long." said Mary as she headed out the door.


   "Here you are, Edwin." said Sean as they parked in front of his store. "We'll be leaving Wednesday morning, so if I don't see you again, it's been good to get to know you, and good that you and Tina have made amends."

   "Yes, it has been a good thing." said Edwin. "You take care of yourself, and Mary as well."

   Sean left Edwin and went to the UPS shipping center where he spent nearly an hour preparing the boxes of his old computer hard drives and other college things, as well as those personal effects of Emily's that he wanted to keep. He didn't want to risk losing them if someone were to break into their car on the way back.


   The path behind the barn was overgrown, although Mary could tell where it had been from the 'lane' that was created by the lack of large trees.  When she reached the creek, it was about two feet deep and considerably more active than the trickle it was when she and Sean had been at the old bridge site. Mary slipped off her shoes and socks and, after looking around, her pants. She could sense animals in the woods around her and their relative calm indicated that there were no other humans nearby.  The water was cool, it carried a fresh scent of rain from the previous evening's storm. She could feel the nibbles of curious minnows around her toes; it made her smile. There was a large, pale boulder on the far side of the creek. After crossing over, Mary sat on it, drying her legs in the sunshine. After a couple of minutes she took off the rest of her garments.

   "The Black Psyche." she mused, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her skin as she gazed at her rippled reflection in the flowing water. "This is paradise." When she was finally dry, Mary reluctantly put her clothes back on and continued to the site marked on Edwin's map.

   What had once been a farm yard was now a tangle of small trees and scrub plants. There was an open area where the barn had once been; stones of its foundation peeked through tall grass. The house still stood, although it was obvious that it was beyond repair. A flagstone path to the backdoor was still usable, however, and Mary approached the house with caution. She began to sense the proximity of a 'site' and entered into the kitchen and, after carefully walking through the debris which covered the cracked linoleum, came to a doorway leading to the living area. The room was divided by three large spindles which supported the joists of the second floor. The ceiling was falling down in places and the walls held traces of peeling wallpaper. Many of the floorboards had been ripped up. She stepped into the room and it immediately exploded in a riot of color.

   The possession had begun.



By Professor Batty

Comments: 1 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Supermom in a Bagel Shop

Los Alamos, New Mexico

   After a morning spent enduring the 'atomic optimism' of the Bradbury Museum, we needed an influx of non-nuclear energy. The independently-owned bagel shop was busy, the decor was vibrant and the food delicious. The table nearest us was occupied by a family of five: two adorable tow-headed girls, the father, and the mother, who was nursing her baby. The girls were rambunctious, the father helpful, and the baby was completely blissed out. The mom, however, was super.

   It was an unseasonably warm day. The restaurant hadn't turned on its AC, so the woman was, as they used to say in a more genteel time, 'glowing'. But somehow she managed to keep her cool, even when the father left for a few minutes and she was in sole charge of the children. She deftly managed to keep the girls in line, eat her lunch, feed the baby and operate her iPhone.

   Despite modern technology a mother's life never gets any easier.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 0 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Swamp Thing

   When this post goes live I'll be back from the semi-arid Southwest, returned from my little retreat from the Minnesota winter. The Weaver and I have a recurring discussion about where we'd live if money was no object: the desert, the sea side, a tropical island, perhaps Scandinavia. The deal-breaker for me would be any place without an abundance of fresh water. Mosquitoes aside, there is no place I'd rather be than in a small canoe in some reedy swamp, a place full of slimy life.

The primordial ooze.

A quiet symphony of aromas.

A minimalistic soundtrack.

Getting in touch with my inner amphibian.

Minnesota nice.

By Professor Batty

Comments: 6 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Matinee #8

  Pascal Pinon, in an off-venue performance of Árstíðir, (Seasons):

  Nordic House, Reykjavík, Iceland Airwaves, October 17, 2009

By Professor Batty

Comments: 2