473 Comments

Rick Beato - Not for his musicianship as much as for the platform he has, his depth of knowledge, his wealth of opinions, and the very idea that he pulled off YouTube after the major success curve at an "advanced" age. Very improbable but understandable considering what he brings to the table.

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Beato had Gioia on his show last May - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qM4sEl8avug

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That's how I found my way to this blog.

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same. love beato

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And me.

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Congratulations for remembering Rick Beato. What he is doing for music is imense!

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Nick Cave and his The Red Hand Files email/blog - https://www.theredhandfiles.com/

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I read Warren Ellis's book "Nina Simone's Gum" (a quick, worthwhile read), and he tells a story about Nick Cave misstepping and falling off the stage at the beginning of a show. He got back up, came over to Warren with blood coming out of his mouth, and Warren asked what he wanted to do. "Keep playing." He finished the set, and later at the hospital discovered he had broken four vertebrate. I found the montage at the end of 20,000 Days on Earth to be incredibly moving.

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Cool and thanks. I will definitely read the Ellis book.

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NYC jazz musician and club owner (Smalls and Mezzrow), Spike Wilner for the work he did (and continues to do) in keeping jazz alive in NYC through the pandemic. During the pandemic, he created live streams of concerts from Smalls in order to create work for the musicians, he formed a jazz foundation to provide health care and other aide to the players and he's organized fund raisers to help pay medical bills for some of the jazz greats, such as Victor Lewis. Spike is a true hero who works without fanfare for the music and musicians he loves.

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Spike is, as we goyim say, a mensch. Several years ago, I was distressed ( how diplomatic of me ) by something in Spike's weekly email. I wrote him an angry email, never expecting to hear back from him, but I did, almost immediately, and graciously.

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1000% with this comment!

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Snarky Puppy. This large ensemble is a force of music unlike anything else I can think of, past or present. A brilliant collective of young players and composers who are making music history right before our eyes (in my humble opinion). Who else can sound like a combination of Stan Kenton, Frank Zappa, Weather Report, Stravinsky...using rhythmic and harmonic structures (and guest artists) from all over the world. I could go on and on...for the uninitiated, just look them up on youtube.

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Just go straight to Trinity. One of the best feel good vibes on YT.

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Thanks for the recommendation, Steve. liked The Puppy right off the bat...

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David Byrne. He's been an 'influencer' in terms of recommending off-the-radar (mostly non-US) music acts since back when I was a teenager stumbling across 'Beliza Tropical' on his Luaka Bop label.

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I used to mow the lawn for an economics professor and he'd give me $5 and a cassette tape each time. "Beleza Tropical" was one of them (also the Clash, Gang of 4, Dead Kennedies). But that thing burned a place in my heart. I feel especially indebted to Byrne for bringing us Tom Zé.

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I saw Weyes Blood last night with my fiancée and found myself overcome with emotion multiple times. Natalie Mering (the artist’s real name) is an extremely talented musician who captures the anxiety and dislocation of living at the “end of history” without being heavy handed or cynical. Despite the weight of her subject matter she was delightfully funny onstage between each of her ethereal, spiritually-infused songs. During her song “God Turn Me Into a Flower,” which was accompanied by a visualization from none other than Adam Curtis, I found myself moved to tears

For writers, Joy Williams (who I’m sure many have heard of) is my greatest inspiration. She mixes southern Gothic and pastoralism with a dark sort of humor. She will write these passages where one feels between worlds, it evokes the sensation you have when you are falling asleep and have all sorts of nonsensical thoughts which nonetheless have their own logic. Her most recent book, Harrow, might be her best yet.

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Bob Dylan. Salman Rushdie. Both artists for their older works and their newest as well.

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I am fascinated by Molly Tuttle for her versatility and skills.

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Music: Ron Carter, John Patitucci, Dave Holland, Jason Moran, Charles Lloyd, Nate Smith, De La Soul, Squarepusher, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Lady Gaga...

Literature: Thomas Pynchon, Colson Whitehead, Percival Everett, Samuel R. Delany, and Haruki Murakami.

Film: The Daniels, Ryan Coogler, Star Wars (all of it)

All artists above are deeply dedicated to narrative and sound, and sometimes, both are entwined in the work they produce.

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Thank you for mentioning Percival Everett. I wrote an intro to his novel, Erasure, about 15 years ago. He's getting some long overdue big attention. He just won a big prize from PEN America. $75,000! And he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts & Letters in February.

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Attention for Everett’s genius is long overdue. Thank you, Mr. Alexie, for championing his work and your contributions to our literary landscape.

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Also, in the spirit of open disclosure, I can say that I was once on a panel with Everett at a book festival. We have one friend in common. I think we exchanged a few emails while I was writing the intro for his novel. But I haven't had any communication with him for probably 15 years. So there's no nepotism here! No log rolling! My love for his books is pure! Hahahaha!

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Considering your talents and respect, Mr. Alexie, I assumed you hold nothing but the purest love for Everett and his work. But I guess with how ridiculous the internet can be; I understand the disclosure.

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Which Everett novel would you fellows recommend?

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You can no better than to read the poetry of Indian poet Tishani Doshi. She’s completely wonderful.

Here’s a sample -

Love Poem

Ultimately, we will lose each other

to something. I would hope for grand

circumstance — death or disaster.

But it might not be that way at all.

It might be that you walk out

one morning after making love

to buy cigarettes, and never return,

or I fall in love with another man.

It might be a slow drift into indifference.

Either way, we'll have to learn

to bear the weight of the eventuality

that we will lose each other to something.

So why not begin now, while your head

rests like a perfect moon in my lap,

and the dogs on the beach are howling?

Why not reach for the seam in this South Indian

night and tear it, just a little, so the falling

can begin? Because later, when we cross

each other on the streets, and are forced

to look away, when we've thrown

the disregarded pieces of our togetherness

into bedroom drawers and the smell

of our bodies is disappearing like the sweet

decay of lilies — what will we call it,

when it's no longer love?

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That is a powerful poem.

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You made a convert. I ordered her book of poems, Woman Coming Out of the Woods.

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How completely wonderful! You will love the journey!

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Oh, wow, that is beautiful and devastating. That "sweet/decay" linebreak is perfect.

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My favorite novel of Everett's is I Am Not Sidney Poitier. I wrote the intro for his novel, Watershed, not Erasure.

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I recommend I Am Not Sidney Poitier as a great place to start. He is wicked smart and funny. Erasure and Gyph are also good, and his latest might be his most accessible. It is called Dr. No. I'd say, for some, Everett might be considered challenging. I like that about Everett in the same way I like difficult music (I am a jazz musician and unpublished writer) and video games; there is always a reward in pushing yourself. Everett is brilliant.

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I'm excited

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Have to go with Thom Yorke here (and Johnny Greenwood by extensions). An absolute genius who evolves with his work with every new album or project. Honorable mentions: Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau, Haruki Murakami and Chris Thile.

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Surprised nobody has mentioned Caroline Shaw. If we’re talking about living artists who have already achieved significant success (Pulitzer, Grammys) and still has decades to go, she’s top of my list. Added benefit: she’s a thoroughly decent human being, too.

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Yes! I had to scroll all the way down here before someone mentioned a composer? Plenty of pop musicians, but no formal music?

Ms. Shaw is one of the bright lights on the musical horizon today, and her music appeals to a wide audience.

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Joni Mitchell

David Hidalgo, heart and soul of Los Lobos

Chris Potter

Lyle Brewer, a local hero here around Beantown, guitarist who charts his own course

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Stephen Malkmus. He's accomplished a rare thing-arguably, outdoing his songwriting and production skills in his second iteration, even after the alt-rock Hall of Fame career he had with Pavement.

He is totally unique as both a lyricist and guitarist. Malkmus is the only American lyricist to embrace syllabic structural complexities, mixed metaphors and double entendres other than Dylan, but he far exceeds Bob as a guitarist.

The melodic and harmonic complexities, the alternate tunings, and deliberate theft from all ranges and types of music mark Stephen Malkmus, especially in his post-Pavement years, as a musical genius. He's notoriously coy and evasive in interviews, so it would be wonderful to see how interviewed by a musician who understands his output. I think you know who I am referring to.

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This may be an unpopular choice, but I am a huge fan of Lady Gaga. She is a singular talent, and she definitely inspires me with her soulfulness, her sincerity, and the musicality she brings to anything she does, regardless of genre. This version of Strayhorn's "Lush Life," for instance, brings me to tears every time I watch it, and I've been a student and fan of Strays for over 40 years. https://youtu.be/_HKJ60Pz0Iw

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Her music isn't anything I listen to, but I agree with you about her sincerity and soulfulness. She's a real talent who I hope will be in it for the long haul. Another who's recordings I don't listen to but deeply admire (and would LOVE to see live!) is St. Vincent. She's got creativity coming out of every pore and plays some smokin' guitar. I see her as a spiritual kin to Bowie, but not an imitator by any stretch.

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Liu Cixin (author of the "Three Body Problem" trilogy). He reimagined the possibilities of Sci Fi.

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Did you see the TV adaptation that recently aired? I recommend it. One of the best shows I've watched in a while.

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