Tag Archives: Grateful Dead

Blue Monday (Vai-olins)

In the October issue of Guitar Player, guitarist Steve Vai talks about how he came to have two violinists in his touring band:

A lot of my music is pretty orchestrated and thick, so I decided to get a violin player — that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. But when I started auditioning them, I was scared to death, because most of the people who were coming in were these metal players who had awful intonation and didn’t understand how to read music. They just thought I was looking for shredders — which was about the furthest thing from the truth. And then, all the classical players who could read the music didn’t have any rock sensibility at all.  Once I turned my amps on, they all ran for the hills. I almost gave up and then Alex DePue came in the room and tore it up. I mean, this guy is the right balance of everything. He’s ferocious, he’s unbelievably respectful and professional, and he’s capable of playing impossible stuff.

Vai’s right. I thought it was impossible for anybody to get me to listen to this particular Yes song, but Alex DePue works the miracle:

But the story doesn’t end there:

After I found Alex, I kept getting calls from this woman in the Midwest named Ann Marie Calhoun. I told her, “Thanks, but we’ve already got our violin player,” and she was like, “Yeah, but I want to rock out. Please check out my tape.” So I did, and I was completely and utterly blown away.

Here is Ann Marie Calhoun playing alongside the Foo Fighters:

Here she is in a homier setting . . .

. . . and here she is with her brother, Joe Simpson, playing my most favorite Grateful Dead song ever:

Tagged , , , , , ,

Friday finds


Dissection is a new book showcasing the macabre photos medical students once made with their cadavers This review (which includes a slide show of some of the more striking and gruesome pictures) ponders the implications of how students felt free to make sport with what were mainly the bodies of the poor and the black. 

Craig Arnold, an American poet and academic living in Japan on a creative exchange fellowship, disappeared last month after setting off to hike up the slope of a volcano. Friends and supporters need help pressuring the local authorities to keep searching for him. 

Bathsheba Monk, an Approved Author for 2008, is in the home stretch on her novel-in-progress.  Naturally she’s thinking about other books she could have written a lot faster.

Winnie the Pooh and Swine Flu too! And Pogo offers some insights into party-switching and the workings of democracy.

Any work which can move me to disgust and psychic pain is worth high praise.” Amen, brother!

intellectuals1“Scialabba tries to get a handle on just what intellectuals do for civilization, by delving into the work of Great and allegedly Great Minds. In that latter category, critic Edward Said comes in for especially droll and scornful attack because of what Scialabba sees as the damaging legacy of his writing: that is, inspiring this current generation of academics into deluding themselves that they’re carrying out political work by teaching, say, post-colonialist critiques of Paradise Lost. If intellectual work matters, Scialabba implies, it has to matter in ways that run deeper than delusionary self-puffery.”

From Athenodorus to Zero the Ghost Detective, from Buffy Summers to Dagon Smythe, from Doc Savage to Dr. Silence — they’re the Ghostbreakers of page, screen and TV. But wait, you say — what about Fero, Planet Detective?

What your favorite Grateful Dead song says about you. Amusing article, but “Ripple” isn’t on the list so I must continue to stumble through life without the hard-earned wisdom and piercing insights of Slate writers to guide me. As for the songs that are on the list, I can’t hear “Dark Star” without nodding off, “Cosmic Charlie” without covering my ears, or “Truckin'” without going on a cross-country spree of random violence against hackysack players. But that’s just me.

Some West Dorset residents want to reopen the Three Cups Hotel, a pub reputedly once favored by J.R.R. Tolkien as he toiled on the manuscripts of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Meanwhile, Tolkien tourists in the Oxford area can take a trip to The Eagle and Child, the pub that hosted meetings of The Inklings, the writers group that boasted Tolkien and C.S. Lewis among its members.

I said: ‘You’ve chosen to build a story around these characters who don’t speak. The only sound they make is like fat people having an orgasm,’” the 250-plus-pound [Bruce] Vilanch recalls. “In fact, I told [George] Lucas he could just leave a tape recorder in my bedroom and I’d be happy to do all the looping and Foley work for him.”

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dawn of the Dead

The space shuttle astronauts awoke this morning to the sounds of the Grateful Dead playing “Box of Rain,” according to today’s NASA mission update. Nice. “What do you want me to do?” is certainly an appropriate lyric for a space shuttle crew. 

I’ve always thought American Beauty was all the Grateful Dead anyone needed for normal purposes, though I’ve been known to play Workingman’s Dead on mornings when I’ve had a good night’s sleep and at least two cups of coffee.  I’d have requested “Ripple” myself, though maybe the key line — “If I knew the way, I would take you home” — might sound a little ominous under the circumstances.

Surely there’s a Bobcat lurking somewhere in the ranks of Mission Control who will do what needs to be done and play “New Morning” one of these space days.

Tagged , , , , ,