Founding Fathers and Big Gorgeous Wrapped Up Tight 2019 Tour

When living in the dystopian nightmare that’s 2019, there’s only one escape and that is Big Gorgeous. The San Francisco based duo are at their purest part metal theatre and part pervy pop goodness. They write songs about outrageous situations that are so catchy and infectious you can’t help but smile.

Big Gorgeous by Ben DeCastro

Big Gorgeous by Ben DeCastro

I first saw Big Gorgeous when they played an off venue gig at Iceland Airwaves in 2018. I had been told to check them out and loved that they had a local musician Eric Johnson of Cincinnati’s Founding Fathers along for some backup vocals and stage prop management. The show was about 25 mins in Lucky Records and was a raucous, over the top, fun time.

Big Gorgeous performing at Lucky Records during Iceland Airwaves 2018.

Big Gorgeous performing at Lucky Records during Iceland Airwaves 2018.

Big Gorgeous is coming back to my hometown for a short but ambitious tour with Founding Fathers who are releasing their 2018 album Mating Rites on vinyl. I recently had a chance to chat with Young Potatoe, half the duo of Big Gorgeous about what an adventure this whole musical performance art project has been so far.

To start at the beginning, the artist behind the moniker, Young Potatoe, outlined the birth of his stage name/personality. Spawned as a bit of an expansion of his childhood dream to create a professional wrestling personality, when he arrived to college aside from his academic studies he pursued his dream of entering into wrestling school. His bit of acting experience and theatre talents also came into play when after writing a few songs with his other half, the Big Gorgeous, and the dream to play live versions of their material came to fruition. The Big Gorgeous was initially concerned that just he and Young Potatoe alone performing wouldn’t be enough to carry the show, especially as he gently reminded Young Potatoe that he doesn’t play any instruments. But as everything else he does in life, Young Potatoe made a deal with the Big Gorgeous that he would come up with a show that just the two of them could put on and make this dream come true.

The Wrapped Up Tight 2019 tour kicks off tonight in Wisconsin before they’ll make it down to Cincinnati on Sunday for the Founding Fathers vinyl release show, “I am so excited for the show in Cincinnati because it’s their hometown and our first time playing there and we’re really hoping for a big fun night” said Young Potatoe. Founding Fathers and Big Gorgeous are terrific on their own but when the two groups get together the energy is off the charts. You can see a little of this in the guest spots of Founding Fathers members in the Big Gorgeous video for “Puddles” which debuted two weeks ago on Youtube.


You can follow Big Gorgeous and Founding Fathers on this ambitious 20 shows in the next 23 days and support them here and here.

And don’t forget to come seem them live on Sunday May 26th at the Northside Tavern for the Founding Fathers vinyl release show!



New Single Alert: Hugh releases "Sober"

Hugh are releasing new music with the single, “Sober” dropping nearly two years after their debut Love, Hugh was released in 2017. The lineup of the group has shifted a bit as well since then, but vocalist Joshua Idehen and producer Andy Highmore remain at the core.

New listeners of Hugh may recognize Idehen’s voice, he’s a vocalist of the acclaimed London trio Benin City. He’s half the duo that forms Hugh and certainly in this new track he brings a different energy than his other musical endeavors. Highmore’s production is definitely a highlight as well. Guest vocalist Amaroun, is recognizable too, as she is Jay Brown, the London singer-songwriter whose smooth R&B sound blends so well with Idehen.


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In an interview with the folx at The Line of Best Fit, Idehen explained that the track was written as a breakup song about Brexit regret, but the universality of the lyrics lend themselves beyond this specific dumpster fire political climate (though it’s something this American relates to all too well).

The structure of this newest release from Hugh is solid. Specifically at the bridge, in a track that could easily get messy and drunkenly out of control, “Sober” keeps a calm and even-keeled quality. Indeed it would seem the same satisfaction that one derives from knowing you’re over someone and better than an ex-lover is present in the listening experience and one certainly feels better having heard this track.


You can listen to “Sober” on Spotify.

New Single Alert: IamHelgi's "Speeding"

Helgi Sæmundur, the man behind the moniker IamHelgi, is a bit of an enigma. As beat-maker extraordinaire and one half of the Icelandic hip hop group, Úlfur Úlfur, he’s been building his notoriety and repertoire among fans of the duo and now as a solo artist. I first encountered Helgi’s work on his 2015 Úlfur Úlfur album, Tvær Plánetur, which has been in my heavy rotation for years. I relished in the chance to see him live at Iceland Airwaves 2017. So much, in fact, that I saw him three times in a week. Admittedly, as I can’t begin to understand the language, I think I’ve always gravitated towards Úlfur Úlfur because of the beats.

Fans got a first taste at this new, more synthy endeavor of Helgi’s when he dropped the single “Yourself” back in December 2018. That is, if you weren’t lucky enough to catch his solo debut at Iceland Airwaves in November 2018. Helgi’s influences are present in his new work--it’s synth driven rock that calls to mind a Depeche Mode and sort of Twin Peaks mysteriousness. This could be because he’s recently scored the Scandi-Noir television series, Stella Blómkvist.

IamHelgi performed last month at one of my favorite Icelandic venues, Iðnó opening up for Warmland. He’s also been announced in the lineup for Iceland Airwaves 2019. It will be very exciting to see how his solo artistry expands this year, as he’s off to a terrific start.

His new single “Speeding” is out today and is sure to be on repeat in my household. You can stream it on Spotify.

YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN

Last night I had the enormous pleasure and introduction to Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, a self-described psychedelic noh-wave opera group hailing from Toronto. They performed at Motr pub in Over the Rhine to a modest, Monday night crowd in Cincinnati.

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Their performance was solid, the band was really tight, and the vocals were stellar. I got to chat a little bit with the band afterwards about the creative process in this political climate, another Toronto band who came through town and blew my mind at Motr (looking at you Beams), and midwestern life. They were all really generous with their time which was amazing because they had just played one hell of a show and had to get on the move to Cleveland, where they are playing Beachland Ballroom tonight. If you find yourself with the opportunity to check them out, I cannot recommend enough that you do just that!

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circles and circles and circles again

When I last posted here, I had no idea that in just two short months following, my mother would die in a sudden and traumatic end. I couldn’t write for the longest time after that, then I picked up working on short fiction again. The escapism of fiction has always been a nice release, but the mental and emotional toll that losing her took on my well being was just too great.

It’s been nearly a year and a half since that happened.

This blog was inspired by my life and love for Iceland, a country that’s been so healing and so hard to be in for different reasons. When I first traveled there, I carried the enormous weight of having suffered rape at the hands of a friend who I trusted just six months earlier and still couldn’t even process that I experienced that trauma, not even to my partner. When we returned home after that trip, I spent the rest of the summer very much in a healing process and supported by a partner who is and always will be at the core of who I’ve become as an adult.

We didn’t return to Iceland for two years after that, but when we did it felt even more like home to be back on that rock in the middle of the ocean. That trip was a beautiful exploration of the entire island, but not without the heartache of arriving at a small farm in East Iceland, only to receive messages that my mother was suffering from a stroke and it would be days before we could travel home. She recovered, thankfully, but those hours where things weren’t certain as we tried to assess from thousands of miles away were extremely difficult. I had no idea that it would be nearly a year later and she’d be gone forever.

Surviving the loss of a parent is a bizarre and almost unnameable experience. But because we had made it through 6 months of this hell, I suppose my partner wanted a break and he certainly deserved it. So even though it was going to be November and colder than ever when we had previously visited, he booked our return home to that emotional rock in the middle of the ocean and we attended our first Airwaves festival. We made some of the best of friends and saw incredible artists and I thought a lot about what had happened with my mom last time we were there. It was a trip of a indulgence and reward for having made it through the things we had made it through and for that I am forever grateful.

I’ll celebrate my birthday this year when we return to Airwaves. This time of year is always one that is wrapped up in feelings of new beginnings and fresh starts, with the change of seasons and as I start another revolution around the sun. It’s also marked with trauma, however, and we actually depart on the anniversary of my assault, the one I carried with me in silence the first time we traveled to Iceland. And to be sure, the political climate here in the US with the recent confirmation of a known rapist to the Supreme Court nominated by another known rapist has become one of the most difficult daily reminders of this awful experience. But, this time of year is mine, it’s my new start, my renewal, my enduring, and my survival.

So I guess this post is to say, I’m back, I think, here for a while to share again the things I’m reading, writing, listening, and enjoying. Thank you for being here with me.

Audible is incredible

So in looking for an audiobook for my book challenge this year, I started with something totally not in my wheelhouse and then ended up switching to Neil Gaiman's narration of Norse Mythology. It is absolutely perfect.  

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Okay, not as perfect as that time he was in a falafel on Arthur....but close.  Coupled with some weirdo weather lately that's made the Midwest seem very Icelandic, it's just a real treat to listen to while looking out at the rainfall.

I might make the move from podcasts to audio books for my drives to work now! 

Wherein Sherwood Anderson, who I haven't thought much about since undergrad makes my heart so happy.

In the collection of letters gathered in  Posterity: Letters of Great Americans to Their Children and edited by Dorie McCullough Lawson, I have come across some really famous/well known letters, probably because of the blog Brain Pickings by Maria Popova. 

But then today, I read one that Sherwood Anderson, most notably for his work Winesburg, Ohio and who I probably hadn't given much thought about since undergrad (aka a really long while). The letter included penned by a then 49 year old Anderson to his second child, John. Under the collection on "Good Work" this letter included some advice on what the future holds for the seventeen year old. 

He stresses the importance of learning how to do something with one's hands, though if given the choice, he himself would still be a writer first and how the importance shouldn't be strictly measured in a monetary benefit.  He writes, "There is a kind of shrewdness many men have that enables them to get money. It is the shrewdness of the fox after the chicken. A low order of mentality often goes with it."  

Then, about a year later, when Anderson's son stays behind in Paris to study painting, after his family traveled there together---he writes what I would describe as the "Wear Your Sunscreen" sort of commencement speech bits of advice for his son. 

Some particular bits of wisdom: 

The object of art is not to make salable pictures. It is to save yourself. 

 

 

The thing of course, is to make yourself alive. Most people remain all their lives in a stupor. The point of being an artist is that you may live.  

 

And he closes this long letter with what is such terrific advice from a parent to a child, so accepting and loving:  

 

It isn't your success I want. There is a possibility of your having a decent attitude toward people and work. That alone may make a man of you. 

 

I think reading this letter, coupled with having just finished John Green's  Looking for Alaska has me thinking a lot about parenthood and the relationships between teenagers and how they relate to their folks. That weirdo age between almost adulting and actually having to adult is interesting because while so much depends on the teenager, undoubtedly a great deal rests on the involvement of the parents. As someone who has had hands off parenting since early adolescence, I can't help but feeling as though I missed out on not having these sort of letters and conversations. But, perhaps it's the beauty of collections such as these.... Sherwood Anderson's parental advice keeps on instructing far longer and much further than he had imagined back in 1927. 

 

 

small goals sunday

I met with friends over the weekend and we talked about our successes and failings in working through each week. Undoubtedly, since that awful day this past November, when the world seemed to lose all sense of what is good and right (at least in our corner in the US), it has been exhausting to work through the endless cycle of madness that is the daily tweets and news reports .

I've taken to small goal planning, to exert some level over control in this decidedly undecided world. I say small goal specifically too, because as much as I like writing TO DO lists, I enjoy marking things off of those lists even more. 

So for this this first full week of March, I working on the following: 

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Write every day. I have been sticking with this one for a while, but it's important to me that I continue with this goal. I have various projects I'm working on: this blog, an EP that Patrick and I are working on together, a short story art project I have had in the works for quite a while, and a new poetry project that's in the earliest stages of infancy. Basically, come on lady, you've always got something to write for/on/about.

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Drink some fucking water, you ungrateful first worlder. As an adult with access to clean drinking water, I have no excuse for the amount of caffenated beverages I consume in lieu of delicious good old fashioned H2O. I don't know if the old timey 8 glasses of water is still the recommendation, but this week I'm seriously making it a priority to get at least 4 glasses. I mean, I have to start somewhere.

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Keep readin', Keep, Keep Readin' (sing to the tune of Leona Lewis): I have been super excited about the Pop Sugar challenge I posted about a few days ago. I really rediscovered my love for reading last year when I did the one year challenge where I only read authors who were either Women or POC. It had been long enough from my heavy academic workload that I got back into reading for pleasure. I finished another text this week and I think to complete the full Pop Sugar list I have as it stands currently, I need to be reading at least 50 pages a day on average, which seems a bit heavy, but I'm going to work towards that and will be happy if I finish off another 2 titles this week. It will be a challenge but I know I can definitely finish 1, which is why I'm going to work toward 2. 

 

Dear Woodward, I love you.

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Last night, the Nashville four piece Savoy Motel came through town. It was a really great show. Whoever does the booking at the Woodward is totally responsible for expanding my musical horizons. The best show I saw all of 2016 was there.

These kids were way groovy. I felt bad that they had a show on the start for the biggest drinking weekend in Cincinnati, Bockfest. Nevertheless they put on a hell of a show for an intimate crowd.  

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Friday musings

It's Women's History month and I'm on my way to a concert, which made me think of this gem.  

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Vincent (as her friends referred to her and I like to pretend we'd be friends in other lifetime) is such a fascinating woman and I really treasure her anachronistic personality. Talk about queer poly heroes of the 20th century for $500, Alex. 

 Happy Friday Night!

 

 

A lot has happened in 226 days

So I didn't exactly lie , but it's been longer than I anticipated in my break from blogging. 226 days to be exact.  

 

But here we are, on National Bjór Day, where Patrick and I celebrate from abroad the repeal of prohibition on beer in Iceland. 

 

The world is very different place from the last time I recorded anything on this little piece of the internet, but I won't mourn the sadness at the ridiculous state of our current political climate here... at least not today. 

 

Mostly, I wanted to put in writing I'm back. Or will be, every day this month. Unfortunately, I started off March feeling under the weather, both figuratively and literally, but I'm looking forward to digging in and sharing my thoughts in this space. I do hope you'll pull up a seat and stay a spell.  

Soon returning to our regularly scheduled blogging.....

Wowzers...it's been nearly 2 months since I last posted. Summer is really flying by. 

So since my last post, we've returned home from Iceland and settled back into the lovely sweltering heat that is a Cincinnati summer and I know on my end (maybe not Patrick's) have begun the countdown to cooler days of Autumn. 

But before Autumn arrives, I'd love to share some of our travels, adventures around the city, and the amazing books, films, and other media I've been consuming. 

So stay tuned and I'll be back before you know it. 

 

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We're on holiday in Iceland! It's been a bit of a whirlwind so far, in that lovely fog where you never really know what day of the week is or what time it is kind of way. Jet lag has been oodles better this time around, but it still feels as though there's never enough daylight (which there is plenty) and I'm trying to stay unplugged but we also happened to get a modem for while we're traveling so it hasn't been that unplugged. 

I'm writing from a tiny studio in Ísafjörður, where the wind is howling against the windows, and as I look out I can see snow covered mountains and choppy sea waves. It's more beautiful than I can describe, really.

We're making our way around the West Fjords tomorrow before taking on the North.

Until next time! 

Basking in the shadow of Humboldt

I've just finished a terrific book by Andrea Wulf, The Invention of Nature: Alexander Von Humboldt's New World. 

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Wulf does a phenomenal job of I've described to friends as "Humboldting, Humboldt," which is to suggest she does a wonderful job of contextualizing the famed naturalist within a broader and bigger picture. Weaving together figures from all over the world, she explores the way the Humboldt's worldview developed in various political climates. Certainly in many ways he does appear to be a bit anachronistic, his way of viewing the world is so thoroughly modern.

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The overall structure of the book works well and I liked the way she grouped different sections of his travels together. Humboldt's relationship with Goethe was a stark reminder that I need to revisit works I have not touched since undergrad (more than a decade ago). Want I love most about Goethe is the way he was able to show Humboldt the beauty of poetry when combined with science. 

 Wulf quotes Darwin in the last paragraph of Origin of Species  to demonstrate the influence of Humboldt by comparing it with a passage from Personal Narrative : 

"The beasts of the forest retire to the thickets; the birds hide themselves beneath foliage of the trees, or in the crevices of rocks. Yet, amid this apparent silence, when we lend an attentive ear to the most feeble sounds transmitted by the air, we hear a dull vibration, a continual murmur, a hum of insects, that fill, if we may use the expression, all the lower strata of the air. Nothing is better fitted to make man feel the extent and power of organic life. Myriads of insects creep upon the soil, and flutter round the plants parched by the ardor of the Sun. A confused noise issues from every bush, from the decayed trunks of trees, from the clefts of the rock, and from the ground undermined by the lizards, millipedes, and cecilias. There are so many voices proclaiming to us, that all nature breathes; and that, under a thousand different forms, life is diffused throughout the cracked and dusty soil, as well as in the bosom of the waters, and in the air that circulates around us."

With our return to Iceland coming up in the not so distant future, I feel like I'm going to see the country I love so much with a new Humboldtian perspective, fresh eyes. I am eager to work on my writing while we're there and to take the time to really reflect on the beauty that is this little pile of dust we travel upon around the universe.

The Mondays 04.25.16

The weekend was rough, you gals. I mean, we lost Prince. What gives 2016? Why do you have to keep taking all our favorites? 

I would have posted yesterday, but I basically spent the weekend taking care of business around the haus so little time left for writing. P and I are still waist level deep in snot due to the unrelenting allergy season the midwest has in store for us, but hoping to shake it so we can do the Little Kings One Mile race during the Flying Pig Weekend coming up. I mean, I can get through a mile, I just might be wheezing, snot nostril bubbling, and whining an embarrassing amount. 

Here's a better more attractive less snotty look at the state of things in my world right now...

Currently I am: 

Reading: The Invention of Nature ... and still have my nose in a few others, but focusing on that one mostly for now.

Listening to: A lot of Prince (obviously), REM (we've got them planned as a big part of our upcoming soundtrack while in Iceland), and Bully (we're seeing them this weekend!)

Watching: I don't even pretend like I'm not invested in an embarrassing level of devotion to Dancing with the Stars. We were pretty stoked to watch the season premiere of Game of Thrones last night, though I do hope there's more storytelling and less epic battle scenes this season. My best friend S showed me a one off episode of The League because one of the actors was in an episode of Brooklyn 99 which we watch together and so I plan on going back to start that—I mean Netflix has been pushing it on me too (for years). 

Looking forward to: The next round of the NHL playoffs for the Penguins. They've found their stride and it's been really great to see them play again. The Bully show this weekend, live music is for me what religious folks feel like going to church. My irises blooming! They're one of my favorite parts of our landscaping and I love seeing them from the front porch. 

Here's to a fabulous week ahead!

 

The Sundays 04.17.2016

Spring has arrived in Cincinnati. Patrick and I had a lovely weekend that was fun filled and exhausting. We attended a craft beer festival on a riverboat cruise that put us both closer toward our goal of reaching 1000 brews on Untapped. Gorgeous weather meant we got lots of our landscaping progress out of the way and we now live pretty much surrounded by marigolds and I'm totally okay with this. 

I went to my first social event with Girls Pint Out which was lots of fun! I also totally fell off the wagon in terms of keeping up with my April photo a day challenge on Instagram, ha. They've been good prompts, but I forgot one day which turned into two days and then three....oh well. I'm reserving that this is okay and I won't stop taking lots of photos nevertheless. 

Most excitingly, we booked our tickets for a visit to Blue Lagoon as soon as we land in Iceland. It's a tourist trap, to be sure, but we enjoyed it on our last trip and landing early in the morning before we can check in to our apartment means we needed to find something to do. So getting good and pruney will be the first thing we do!