Monday, January 31, 2022

Venues in Iceland - #5

Gamla bío

Like Iðno, this venue also has a long history.

Gamla bíó (Old cinema) is one of the most significant buildings in Reykjavík. The façade of the building and the public space have been preserved in their original form, although the presentation of the hall has changed somewhat over the years. It was a cinema from 1939 until 1981 when the Icelandic Opera acquired it. I saw a matinee concert of opera selections there in 2004 when it still had its original seats and decor—it was creaky but charming. After the big Harpa performance complex opened in 2011, the interior of Gamla bíó was redone, tastefully, but the old fixed seats and slanted floor are gone. It now hosts concerts and events, the facility is truly a multi-use venue. There is even a rooftop bar in what used to be the old caretakers digs. I managed to catch a couple of sets there in 2018 at the Iceland Airwaves festival. The lighting and stage set-up was great, but it was a bit of an audio torture test: basically a big concrete box, and the bands were LOUD! There is a cool balcony, however. Here is a shot of Between Mountains:
And one of Kiriyama Family:


Something lost and something gained, I guess.

By Professor Batty


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Friday, January 28, 2022

The Tempo Bar Tapes - #3

I’m Ready



Tom (Tucker) Pendzimas, lead vocal on the old Fats Domino classic. Recorded May 16, 1976, live, no edits.

Much more Explodo Boys videos, CDs and stories.

By Professor Batty


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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

An Invitation…

… to a private make-out party for two.

It was my senior year, during the Christmas break. ‘Ann’ and I weren’t exactly an item, in fact Ann was more akin to an indefinite article. But love is grand when love is new and, it being Christmastime and all, our ‘date’ was only more special. I was hardly chaste in high school, but a sordid incident in my junior year caused me to rethink my behavior while with the other sex. Since that shameful incident I had been, for all practical purposes, celibate.

It has been said that, subconsciously, a man wants to marry his mother. Ann was nothing like my Ma. Vivacious, petite and irreverent, and definitely not celibate. I was a skinny, nervous 17-year-old with an excess of hormones. Duly arriving at the trysting place (her living room, parents not home) with a copy of Cream’s recently released Disraeli Gears record album. Maybe it wasn’t the best choice for make-out music, but it did set a mood, Ann was not shy and she began to bathe me in the sunshine of her love.

(A discreet pause ensues. Use your imagination!)

While that evening was arousing a rousing success, I was not yet ready to be a proper boyfriend. Or, for that matter, an improper one. We never repeated our tête-à-tête, but we have stayed in touch over the last 50+ years, still friends. I’m no longer a skinny, nervous kid and Ann, while not quite as petite, is still vivacious and irreverent. Our love never came to full fruition but it did bloom once upon a snowy night in December, in our own Christmas in Eden.

By Professor Batty


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Monday, January 24, 2022

Venues in Iceland -#4

Iðno
IÐNÓ is a place of curiosities. An attractive, accessible and inspiring place for ideas and stories. The building combines in one place history, tradition and culture, dating all the way back to the year 1897. IÐNÓ is a living monument of older and simpler times, all the while being a modern rendezvous for people of all classes and ages. ~ Iðno information page.
A distinctive small hall, still in demand. A favorite for CD release parties (remember CDs?) or banquets. One of the mainstays of Iceland Airwaves. It usually features the more outré acts, from this humble folksinger (the late Siggi Armann):
To a classy orchestral ensemble (Daniel Barnarson):
And an experimental diva (Kira Kira):
I’ve even see an outrageous Balkan wedding dance band (Storviet Nix Noltes):



With the right performer(s), this venue can be magical, it does have its quirks, however. The lobby/bar is directly adjacent to the hall and can be disruptive for a quieter act. Conversely, a loud act can overpower the room, losing its sense of intimacy. The difference in shows I've seen between 2008 and 2018 highlights this modern tendency.  If you are ever in Reykjavík make it a point to stop in. You can’t miss it, it’s right on the pond in the center of town. Even if you can’t catch a performance there, you can have a libation in its cozy café.

By Professor Batty


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Friday, January 21, 2022

The Tempo Bar Tapes -#2

Can I Change My Mind?



This is the second of a series of videos featuring The Explodo Boys, a Rock/Country/R&B band from Minneapolis, active from the mid 70s to the early 80s.

Recorded May 16, 1979 at the now-demolished Tempo Bar, live, no edits.

The lead vocal and lead guitar are by Rich Lewis. It was one of Rich’s signature tunes, inspired by Roy Buchanan’s treatment of the Tyrone Davis song.

Rich is still active musically, his group has been featured at the Minnesota State Fair, Minneapolis and Saint Paul concerts in the parks, as well as at his legendary Holiday revue at Whitey’s in NE Minneapolis.

Much more Explodo Boys videos, CDs and stories.

By Professor Batty


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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Another Winter of Discontent

And so it goes.

Another winter is here; a situation which, in the Northern Plains, is not a thing to trifle with. This year has been relatively mild so fair—a few cold snaps—and not even enough snow for snowshoeing.

The sense of isolation that has come with curtailing most public activities due to the Covid pandemic reminds me of those early settlers on the prairie who would often be home-bound for weeks at a time in the winter. Of course, many people have just given up on preventive measures—rugged individuals who think they know what’s best for them, including a fair amount of people whose work requires them to deal with the public. More police officers died last year from Covid than from any other cause, yet some of their unions oppose vaccinations. The amount of ignorance and hostility to medical science in these no-so United States is astounding. The population of the county where I live is a little less than the number of people living in Iceland, yet it has had almost 20 times the number of deaths. Our hospitals are full of non-vaccinated Covid patients, a bad situation made worse by short-staffing of health care workers who have become too ill to work. Fortunately the vast majority of them are vaccinated so do not require hospitalization.

One positive thing that I have read about: to reduce the severity of a Covid infection (besides getting vaccinated) is to make sure your Vitamin D3 levels are not depleted. This won’t necessarily prevent a full-blown infection but, for a few cents a day, you can prevent a D3 deficiency. It is cheap insurance.

This wave should be over soon but for the families of those who paid the ultimate price that is a moot point.

By Professor Batty


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Monday, January 17, 2022

Venues in Iceland -#3

Leikhúskjallarinn

The Theatre Cellar Cabaret Club.

Located in the basement of Þjóðleikhúsið, Iceland’s National Theatre, it is not well-known, and certainly not in any tourist guides I’ve seen. I suspect it was originally intended for exclusive use of the patrons of the National Theatre—it is rarely used for public events. Which is too bad, it is a very groovy place; intimate; 50s vibe. That aesthetic may be best illustrated by the ambiguous triptych that is on the walls of the club lounge area:
My experience there was in October of 2006, at Iceland Airwaves, when a small crowd braved the cigarette smoke (remember those days?) to see several acts perform, including the Doors/Radiohead-influenced Shadow Parade:
And the ‘little girl lost’ Trost:
She kept the crowd in thrall with her story-songs, aided by prodigious alcohol consumption and her teetering on 4 inch heels as she wandered through the crowd:
But the best act I saw there was the venerable (40+ years and still going strong) rockabilly/surf band Langi Seli Og Skuggarnir:
Twangy!
Here’s a funky video of Langi Seli and his group showing the band (and its audience) rocking out in the cabaret one night in October, 2006:

By Professor Batty


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Friday, January 14, 2022

The Tempo Bar Tapes - #1

You Got All the Aces



This is the first of a series of videos featuring The Explodo Boys, a Rock/Country/R&B band from Minneapolis, active from the mid 70s to the early 80s.

Recorded May 16, 1979 at the now-demolished Tempo Bar. All tracks are live with no edits.

Lead vocal by Jimmy Derbis. An Aretha Franklin cover, sung in the original key!

Much more Explodo Boys videos, CDs and stories.

By Professor Batty


Comments: 1 




Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Flippist Pizza

A 20 minute dinner for 2.

So simple to do I can make it in my sleep—and it always turns out great—light and flavorful, without a big wad of greasy dough that turns into a stone in your stomach. The key is the use of a balsamic glaze on the meat, you can drizzle it on the onions as well. Outside of the cheese, there is no added fats or oils, and less than a couple of grams of sugar (naturally occurring).
I find that store-bought frozen pizza is usually awful, the toppings on it are usually poor quality, with a ton of added salt and sugar. (I don’t even want to guess what take-out pizza is made from!)

A very nice home made pizza can be made from these simple ingredients:

A thin pizza crust (store-bought but really quite good)
One 3-4 oz. meat patty (I had some bison)
Balsamic glaze
One half a small onion (sliced thin)
4 tablespoons quality salsa (i.e. no added sugar)
Shredded cheese
Italian seasoning
4-6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in thirds
Garlic powder (You can use chopped or pressed garlic, but make it fine)

Pre-heat oven (390°f) while preparing the pizza. I chop up the meat patty into small cubes and drizzle them with some kind of glaze, what ever you have. Ladle the salsa onto the crust then add the meat and onion slices.
Add the cheese and tomato and then season with garlic and Italian spice:
Bake 10-12 minutes. I put the pizza in the oven right on a center rack, but heat a pizza stone on the rack below it so it can keep the pizza hot when serving:
Top with Parmesan cheese and serve. YUM!

By Professor Batty


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Monday, January 10, 2022

Venues in Iceland -#2

Grand Rokk…
… featuring Retro Stefson, a power-pop party band popular in Iceland and Europe from 2006 to 2016. Here are a few shots from their Iceland Airwaves debut performance October 8, 2006 (when they were 15!) at the now-demolished Grand Rokk venue:
Always crowded, Grand Rokk could become quite steamy, it was a great place to interact:
I'll be posting more about this venue after it had been renamed Faktorý.

This Icelandic “venue series” is a way for me to revisit some of the wonderful musical experiences I’ve had in Reykjavík. The variety of venues (some now extinct, alas) in such a small area (about 2km square) is astounding.

Here’s a short video of Retro Stefson performing I Shot the Sheriff in Grand Rokk:

By Professor Batty


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Friday, January 07, 2022

Adventures in the Green Van VI

Return from Big Lake
A transcript from a cassette tape recording made in the green van, 1975:

Stranded in the Jungle… Rawhide… Ronnie… Big Girls Don’t Cry… Sherry Baby, Wah-Wah-Tusi, Iko Iko… 634-5789… oh you know that one… Patches… Wolverton Mountain… Itchykoo Park… The Blues Magoos— You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet, Rainy Day Mushrooms… Liar, Liar, The Castaways, what was the follow-up? Leaving You Babe on the Midnight Train… I thought it was Little Latin Lupe Lu? That was the Chancellors… Talkin’‘bout my baby, Little Latin Lupe Lu… Wait a minute now, we bought our PA speakers from… Raggs… Bomp-Bomp-Bomp-Bomp-Bomp-Ba-Bomp Bomp, I was walkin’ with my baby, down 49th Street, I said ‘Hey pretty baby, I’d really like to meet ya now… I said a-shake and stomp… Where the hell are we? Blue-black hair, shaded eyes, baby you got me hypnotized, you’re the girl with the long, long, blue-black hair… Wait, why don’t we sing something I know? This old man he played one, he played knick-nack on my thumb… (Am I Blue is on the radio dial switches to Different Drum) Stone Poneys! … and I ain’t sayin’ you ain’t pretty, all I’m sayin’ is I’m not ready for any person place or thing to try and pull the reins in on me-ee soooo-oh, goodbye… That’s a big scam, How about some Motown? Baby, Baby, I hear a symphony… ooo-ooo… Some Rod McKeun? You son of a bitch… I was wrong, you son of a bitch… Lightning striking again, together, together, no never, never!…

You know I felt that way once… you know what I think it is? It’s the new math… algebra… I had waffles today, that’s the truth, frozen waffles… don’t you think frozen waffles are bunk? Now you take a Mambo Pie… put peanut butter on it… (Hey Jude plays on the radio) He used to play bass in John Lewis’ old band I want you to… it was Gordy Johnson on bass, Mark Bandor on rhythmn guitar, Mike Stoner on drums… Mister Moonlight… Bandor played guitar? com’on… take a sad song and make it better… We got some guys, and went to Hy’s to buy a tape recorder… the kneebone’s connected to the hipbone the hipbone’s connected to the hipbone, the hipbone’s connected to the backbone, all praise to the Lord… you’ll all be sorry when I’ll be dead… that’s a good song… (laughter)
Well have a smoke on me, Oh No! Forget it, that’s a quarter cigar… (laughter)
Well have a smoke on me, Oh No! Forget it, that’s a quarter cigar… (laughter)
Well have a smoke on me, Oh No! Forget it, that’s a quarter cigar… (laughter)
Have a smoke on me, Oh No! That’s no joke! We’ll have a quarter cigar…
Time for no joke, time for no smoke, time for a joke from Rickeee…

Does Ricky Lewis resemble Rocky Lupino, Oh No! Oh No! Not in the slightest!
Does Ricky Lewis resemble Rocky Lupino, Oh No! Oh No! Not in the slightest!
Oh No! Remember the big teen breaker store, were you there, were you there?
Remember the First National Bank, were you there, were you there?
No, No, does Ricky Lewis resemble Rocky Lupino, Oh No! Oh No! Not in the slightest!
The Broadway Musical Mud, the 1975 hit, everything you wanted to know about dirt. Has Rick Lewis as a baby, it all started before he was born. He came outta his ma, he came outta his ma! Okay.
I wanted to play rock'n'roll music but I heard the call from Shasta Beverage Company.
ONE MORE TIME!
I wanted to play rock'n'roll music but I heard the call from Shasta Beverage Company.
Please let him stay in the van. Oh, Ricky speaks! Speak to us Ricky… Aw that’s all right. It was a small crowd, you could count it on the fingers of one hand. I dreamed I was there in Hillbilly Heaven… Rich, C’mon now… (Sounds of van door opening and then closing. Tape hiss is heard for 5 minutes, then the sound of door opening again.)

Ricky, Ricky… I’ll sit back here… Tiny Bubbles, in the wine… make me feel happy… We won’t have to wait in Minneapolis… A lot of what you call… sex? We’ll probably be sober enough to handle it… what… Oh! No! Shasta Beverage won’t do, I did not think the foreman could be so cruel… I’m never going back to my old time-slot… You sit on the console, I’ll sit on Tucker…
Lon Cheney was a friend of mine…
Lon Cheney was a friend of mine…
Lon Cheney was a friend of mine…
Lon Cheney was a friend of all mankind…
Lon Cheney was a friend of mine…
Lon Cheney was a friend of mine…
Of yours and mine…
A friend of ALL mankind.

(The rest is noise… )

By Professor Batty


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Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Ken Nordine

I seemed to be surrounded by a mystery so heavy and oppressive I could scarcely breathe…

One of my most cherished/feared childhood memories was listening to Billy Vaughan’s 45 rpm record of The Shifting Whispering Sands:



This performance includes a recitation by legendary voice artist Ken Nordine. Ken’s mellifluous baritone seemed to be everywhere in the last half of the 20th century. He worked with: Fred Astaire, The Grateful Dead, The Jacksons, Tom Waits, David Bowie, Maurice Sendak, and was the voice of numerous commercials. I once ran across his voice in a promo for the AVL ShowPro III, an early slide projector controller that I used when I worked for a school teaching AV arts in the early 1980s. He was also, and most notably, the creator of Word Jazz, a trippy mixture of music and poetry:



Ken passed away a few years ago. I found that the final verse of The Shifting Whispering Sands created an eerie epitaph (although Ken lived in Chicago all his life):

When the day is oddly quiet and the breeze seems not to blow
One would think the sand was resting, but you’ll find this is not so
It is whisp’ring, softly whisp’ring, as it slowly moves along
And for those who stop and listen it will sing this mournful song
Of sidewinders and the horntoads, of the thorny Chaparral
In the sunny days and moonlight nights, the coyote's lonely yell
How the stars seem you could touch them as you lay and gaze on high
At the heavens where we're hoping we'll be going when we die

By Professor Batty


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Monday, January 03, 2022

Venues in Iceland -#1

Harpa

Sunrise Session II



The FITK New Year starts with this video, shot in one of the auxiliary spaces in Harpa, the premiere performance complex in Reykjavík. It is a follow-up to last year’s performance by Ólafur Árnalds and friends in his studio.

This is also the start of a series of posts dealing with music and performance venues in the city center of Reykjavík.

By Professor Batty


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