Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Team Swift Ride

The Team Swift Cycle with Champions ride Sunday was great. My brother Steve joined Joey and me this year, making it a nice Nygaard family event, and though the list of celebrities wasn't quite as dazzling as in previous years (which have included Freddie Rodriguez, Chris Horner, Roberto Gaggioli, and others) the weather was gorgeous and the riding fast and fun. Joey finished the 50-miler with the front group of pros (including some members of the BMC team) and older Swifties, and I didn't get dropped as badly as in past years. I've been taking my own advice to Joey lately ("just don't get dropped") and made it to the turnaround at 27 miles in the lead group. Then the attacks started and I got dropped but rolled into the rest stop (at 37 miles) with Joey's coach, Laura Charameda. Joey hasn't been riding that much recently. After taking most of the summer off, we rode a couple hard 35-milers in the last couple weeks to get ready. But he was flying on Sunday, taking his turn in the paceline (that's him riding third wheel above) to bring back one attack early on. The lead group really takes off on a short climb about 5-7 miles from the end, and he hung in there, going 35 mph on the flat at one point. Not bad for an 85-pound 13-year-old.
Photo (c) Veronika Lenzi, www.veronikalenzi.com

Nathan again

After rereading my interview excerpt with Nathan below, I realized that if you haven't heard the band, the references to the Eurythmics, Journey, Boney M, etc. might be misleading. So, to correct that and let you know just how amazing these folks are, here's an MP3 of "Discarded Debris" that is different from the version on Jimson Weed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yes on A, No on H

For San Francisco bike folks (and for everyone else too, really), it'll be a very clear choice this election day, at least for two local props. Let's see, do we want more money for Muni (as if you had to ask)? OK then that's a "yes" on Proposition A. And do we want room in the City for up to 20,000 more motor vehicles? Huh? I don't think so. As if there aren't enough WMDs (Weapons piloted by Moronic Drivers) in the city already. Amazingly Proposition H would also classify Hummers as "low-emission vehicles." Hey, they're only low-emission if you don't drive them!

For more info, check out the SF Bike Coalition's page about the props, or Transit not Traffic.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Russ Barenberg, Nathan, etc.

I have three stories in the new (December) issue of Acoustic Guitar: a feature lesson with Russ Barenberg, a profile of the band Nathan, and a review of a Baden dreadnought. The interview with Keri and Shelley from Nathan was great, but I had to boil it all down to a short profile for the magazine. So here's a bit of the interview, conducted over cappuccinos and pastries at a cafe in Berkeley:

What were your first musical experiences?
Shelley Marshall: I played accordion as a kid. My parents are Slavic, Russian and Polish, so they put me into accordion lessons, thinking it was the hippest thing you could do for your kid and affordable at the same time. I thought it was pretty normal until about grade 4. My dad played banjo, so we always had a banjo lying around. I picked it up about 3 years ago. And a guitar was always lying around. I had older brothers and sisters so by the time I was able to play stuff by ear I was playing Boney M and Meat Loaf and the Clash and Jimi Hendrix. Kind of classic rock through the ‘80s; that’s when I turned the radio off.

Keri Latimer: Sounds like me. We didn’t really have any musical things in our family. I really wanted to play piano when I was little, but we didn’t have a piano, so I had this piece of cardboard with piano keys, like a cardboard piano that didn’t make any noise. I took group lessons before elementary school, but it sucked really bad. My mom said it makes her feel really sad to remember me playing on this piece of cardboard. As I got older I really wanted to play guitar, starting with ‘80s music, Eurythmics. And I played Journey on the piano, to make myself cry. All that adolescent angst, you know.

Do you remember the first song you wrote?
Keri: I wrote my first song when we moved from Calgary to Lethbridge, in the backseat of the car. It was like “I’ve lost it, I’m never gonna find it, but if I do I’ll guard it well and always walk behind it, where I can see it, and I won’t lose it again.” It was called “Happiness.” [laughs] I was so sad to move.

Shelley: That’s good, I like that. We should rework that one.

Keri: How about your first song?

Shelley: Grade 7, I had my first all-girl band, with stolen band instruments, we called it Petty Larceny. We had “Mating Call of the Mongoose” and “ET Go Home,” silly adolescent songs. I played solos, like every key on the piano down chromatically. I mostly wrote instrumental stuff until I started playing with Keri. I’m not a singer. I never thought of myself as one.

Keri: But you are a singer.

Shelley: On an album it’s nice to have a different, not-so-nice voice so that when Keri’s songs come on it’s like, “Ah.”

Keri: This is our eternal fight.

Shelley: The diversity is nice. I’m not a singer, but I like to write songs.

Was there a particular song or singer that made you think “I want to do that”?
Keri: According to my parents and grandparents I sang since I could walk—you know, right away. I used to love to hog the spotlight. I knew every song when I was 2—Christmas carols and . . . any opportunity there was to get up on any platform and sing some songs, that’s what I did. I got shyer as I got older, I think. Now I’m up there wondering “What am I doing up here?” But when I heard the Eurythmics—it could have been the musical style, but it definitely was her voice too. I remember going “Whoah, I love this woman.”

Was that when you thought “I want to do this, I want to be a musician.”?
Keri: I always knew. When I played Barbies I was the musician. I always wanted to do it.

Shelley: There are so many bands and performers I’ve heard and said “Oh I want to be that person so much.” Like Boney M, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Neil Young (when I was younger), a lot of people that don’t sing really well. I’d say “How do they get away with that?” I always loved the idea of being in a band. But I never thought I’d do it seriously.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Josefin's Waltz Live at StringNation 2007

This was quite an amazing moment, but it's pretty funny to see all the impatient folks behind Roger and me as we play the intro.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another Online Lesson

Check out Acoustic Guitar's new website, which features my latest lesson: All About Jazz Chords.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Camps 2008

I'll be teaching at two new camps next year (well, new for me): Sore Fingers Week, in Oxfordshire, England, March 24-48 and Guitar Week at the Swannanoa Gathering in Asheville, NC, July 27-Aug. 2. Besides being two highly regarded music camps, which I've heard about for many years, they are in two of my favorite places in the world--England and the mountains of North Carolina. Should be fun.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Roger and Me

I got together a couple weeks ago with Swedish guitarist Roger Tallroth to start work on our duo album. It was a great couple days of rehearsing and getting to know each other's playing better and it ended with a few recorded sketches, which will be fleshed out, added to, and finalized some time in 2008. It'll mostly be original tunes--mine and Roger's, and should be quite interesting. I'm very excited about it. We sort of fell into a natural role of Roger as accompanist and me as melody player. But that designation doesn't begin to describe what's going on. Roger completely reinvents the idea of accompanist. Everything is fair game for variation when he plays, and he slides in and out of harmonies, counterpoint, and polyrhythms with incredible ease. I often found myself holding on for dear life, just trying to play the melody to a couple of his polskas. We had about a half hour of daylight left for a few pictures on the top of Bernal Heights. Anne Hamersky is the photographer, of course.

Photos: (c) 2007, Anne Hamersky, www.annehamersky.com