The One-Eyed Man From Austin

Back from Austin where I attended SXSWi (the interactive portion of the festival). My second year and now I’m certain I will stay much longer next year. I saw my good buddy perform in an impromptu jam session on the harp at the Lustre Pearl (one of the best bars in the world by the way). My buddy’s father had just passed and he played his freakin heart out with one Eagle Eye Williamson.

Eagle Eye performs drum, guitar, and sings all at the same time and man is it beautiful. Eagle Eye lost his right eye as a kid but it sure hasn’t held him back. From his website: “Watching Williamson play can at first be distracting. An unassuming man sits behind a small drum-kit configured to his liking. In his lap a guitar, perfectly positioned. As he begins to play, his feet tap the drums that construct the rhythm of the songs. With his left hand, he works the fret board of his electric guitar as his right hand switches between striking the snare drum and cymbals. Each layer expands as Williamson begins to sing.”

You need to see it and hear it to believe it–so take a look and a listen below at two different recordings of “Black Gold.” The first was recorded at Greune Hall, the second at the Record Corner.

 

Eagle Eye used a Kickstarter pledge to finance his first album, “Black Gold” (available on iTunes). A documentary is currently being filmed about Eagle Eye by Tony Costello–a good and righteous dude.

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Strawser & Smith “Older is Better”

Went to Strawser & Smith in the ‘burg again recently. The first time I went into the store I’ll admit, I was smitten by the industrial design objects but just a little crushed by the prices. Cast iron, rusty signs, medical counters, from rust-belt factories and junkyards, the 19th and 20th century–they don’t make them like this anymore.

A second look the other day made me realize that there’s some times where you should ignore the price tag. Take a look at the photos on my companion site, a deadbait.

Manhatta

I caught the Edward Hopper show at the Whitney and was impressed as usual with the selections from their collection. The inclusion of so many of his contemporaries really provided a fresh look at the life & times of Mr. Hopper. Over the years I’ve seen many of Hoppers works in various shows at the Whit, but what struck me this time, was the inclusion of the iconic digitally-restored film, Manhatta. A collaboration between artists Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler, the silent film features unusual views and depictions of contemporary life in Manhattan circa 1921. Quotes from my favorite poet, Walt Whitman (whom I’ve blogged about before), are interspersed in title cards.

“Gorgeous clouds of sunset! Drench with your splendor, me or the men and women generations after me!”

The film captures abstractions of the city which at the time, surely must have resonated with New Yorkers who were literally watching Gotham spring before their eyes. The version below features a spare piano track which I think adds to it.

For more on Paul Strand, one of America’s greatest photographers, you can watch a six-part documentary on YouTube, “Paul Strand: Under the Darkcloth”.

 “A portrait is one that confronts them, of another human being, that they will never forget.” Here is the first installation:

Moonshine

Some facts, random and/or personal.
1. I went to High School in Ocean City, NJ…a “dry” town, requiring us to go on midnight runs to Circle liquors in Somers Point across a 2 mile bridge. I often ran into Johnny Law…

2. NASCAR was born out of bootleggin’ bathtub gin and white lightning in souped-up muscle cars in Georgia, county to county, long after prohibition was lifted.

3. My great grandfather sometimes known as “Baby”, was a chauffeur to the Governor of Pennsylvania, and owner of a popular speakeasy in Chester, PA during prohibition (I believe at the same time).

4. New York City’s oldest whiskey distillery is a year old and brewing up Moonshine (unaged corn whiskey) and bourbon, Kings County Distillery.

5. My neighbors own two of the best bars in the ‘burg (Clems and the Richardson).

*sigh* Someday I will either a) own a bar (possibly illegally), b) distill booze, or c) bootleg.