Tuesday, July 27, 2021

630 concerts (and more) in 43 years

In early 2020, I began keeping track of concerts I attended, and I also began trying to list all those I could remember attending. For anyone performing pop music in a broad sense, it is pretty easy to find the dates of old concerts with a website like, so I was even able to add my earliest concerts in 1978 (the first being Linda Ronstadt and Livingston Taylor in Toledo, Ohio, on 11 August). My list is now up to 630 concerts in all, and counting as I remember more – more than one concert per month. The Grateful Dead top the list of performers, of course: 80+ shows from 1982-1995. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 27 July 2021),%201978%2018.jpg
Linda Ronstadt, 1978, photograph by Lynn Goldsmith

Monday, July 26, 2021

Candidates, feelings, and facts: Rewatching a 2016 Last Week Tonight clip on the Republican National Convention

In my Facebook Memories today is a 25 July 2016 clip from John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" on that year's Republican National Convention. It includes statements from a Newt Gingrich interview with CNN's Alisyn Camerota, which Oliver summarizes as a syllogism: "Candidates can create feelings" and "Feelings = facts", so "Candidates can create facts." This not only summarized Trump's presidential campaign but also forecast many things about his presidency, especially how he and his enablers have weaponized the 2020 election and the supposed need to combat "voter fraud": they create feelings in their supporters and then campaign and govern as if those feelings were based on facts about the real world. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 26 July 2021)


Screenshot from linked video of "Last Week Tonight"

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Carrying the ball in basketball: Comparing the USA-France game today and a game in 1980

Back in my youth, I watched a lot of basketball, but since moving to Europe in 1991, I've watched it rarely. Today, I watched the Olympic game between France and the USA, and all the players dribble in a way I'm sure would've been calling "palming" back in the 70s. I found a game on YouTube from the 1980 NBA finals (Sixers-Lakers), and those players dribbled from the top of the ball, not the side. Still, I checked the rules: "A player who is dribbling may not put any part of his hand under the ball." Today's players aren't quite under the ball, so I can see why it's not called. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 25 July 2021)

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Spaces to play in with Chico Freeman, Heiri Känzig, Norbert Pfammater, and Jim Hart at the Bird's Eye in Basel

On Wednesday, I heard Chico Freeman (tenor saxophone), Heiri Känzig (bass), and Norbert Pfammatter (drums) at the Bird's Eye in Basel. This format leaves space for the musicians to play in, even on some of the faster tunes they played, and especially when Freeman turned to circular breathing to create long, full phrases. Last night, the trio expanded to a quartet, with Jim Hart on vibraphone. Hart filled in the spaces I had heard on Wednesday, but new spaces were also created, especially when Hart and Pfammater engaged in dialogue over Känzig's bass, with the latter once even laying out for a spell while the two percussionists played louder and louder. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 24 July 2021)

Friday, July 23, 2021

World Saxophone Quartet in San Francisco in the mid-eighties

Twice in the mid-eighties, I went to see the World Saxophone Quartet at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco: Hamiet Bluiett, Julius Hemphill, Oliver Lake, and David Murray. Each played at least one unaccompanied solo per set. At the end of an overwhelming, energetic solo by Murray, the whole group played a final passage together, and Lake was so excited he repeatedly shouted, “David Murray! David Murray!” Another time, during an unaccompanied passage, the others came out as if the solo were ending, played one chord, and left the stage again, laughing, while the soloist continued. The musicians' enthusiasm and amusement made those concerts so intense, joyous, and memorable. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 23 July 2021)
World Saxophone Quartet, Live in Zürich, 1984

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Seeing musicians over thirty years later

Twice in the past few years, I noticed that a musician I was hearing at a concert was someone I had not heard live for over thirty years. So when I saw Eddie Gómez in Basel in April 2017, it had been over 32 years since I had seen him in New York in December 1984. And when I saw Al Foster in Basel in May 2018, it had been almost 34 years since I had seen him in San Carlos in June 1984. Today, I'll see Chico Freeman in Basel, and the only other time I saw him was over 32 years ago in the spring of 1989 in Philadelphia. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 22 July 2021)
Don Cherry, Arthur Blythe, Chico Freeman, with The Leaders in the 1980s

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Paula Modersohn-Becker's "Selbstbildnis am 6. Hochzeitstag" und "Liegende Mutter mit Kind"

Wearing a necklace present in many of her works, Paula Modersohn-Becker gazes out of her 1906 "Selbstbildnis am 6. Hochzeitstag" with a calm, bold expression, her hands cradling her naked, pregnant belly. The striking quality of this self-portrait only increases when one learns she wasn't pregnant when she painted it. In the equally startling "Liegende Mutter mit Kind" (and her many drawings of similar images), a nude woman nurses a baby. These images transform the tradition of paintings of female nudes as much as the direct gaze of Édouard Manet's "Olympia" had in 1865. But sadly, Modersohn-Becker herself died in November 1907, nineteen days after the birth of her daughter Mathilde. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 July 2021)

Paula Moderson-Becker - Selbstbildnis am 6 Hochzeitstag (1906)