Another pairing of images.   The one on the left is the original photo with some subtle texture added.   Work on the right is a complete re-work of the image on the left.   Multiple layers and textures added.   
Two different titles:

Bruce Cockburn: O SUN O MOON review

Bruce Cockburn is not the retiring type.   At the age of 78 he just released a most remarkable album.   O SUN O MOON - 12 songs of reverie, meditation, introspection and revelation.   An epiphany of a release that so much reminds me of his 1978 album WONDERING WHERE THE LIONS ARE.    Bruce is often referred to as a singer/songwriter  and his music encompasses rock, folk and blues.   I've only had the pleasure to see him live once.   It was a memorable experience.

There are several standout tracks (so far - after only one listen)  on this new recording.  The first one I include here is "Orders"   a listing of all types of people, the loved and the unloveable, with the regular refrain "... our orders said to love them all."    When one thinks of what seems to be increasing social, political, judicial and cultural polarity that seems to be growing like a cancer around the world this song has the ability to say wait-a-minute there's more....  Here in the early 21st century when everyone thinks there way is more right than the other person - even in the name of religion (jihadists, evangelicals, catholics etc) one thing remains for a person of faith; our orders from so many religious texts is to love them all.   And though we live in a time where that seems increasingly difficult to do we must (I MUST) make the effort to love not only the lovable but also those I would curse.  
An exercise:   make a list of all the things/people that irritate, annoy, anger you.   Then think about it - these are what you must love. 

The 3rd track on the album is also a standout.  "Push Comes To Shove" is a meditation on what may be, what is and what will be.   A lilting melody with the refrain, "...when push comes to shove it's all about love..." It invites us to consider that when push comes to shove we need to stop and take a minute to consider our options.     Don't just react impulsively.    Coming from a 78 year old person who has lived a long life - this song (and in fact the entire album) is a musing on all the choices we must make and offers advice to the young who are often caught up in the moment.   About half way through the song,  the bluesy violin of Jenny Sheinman offers a wonderful bittersweet break allowing the lyrical ideas to sink in. 
The next song I want to feature here is a wonderful character study.   "King Of The Bolero" is a beautiful song  description of a musician in a lilting bolero style enhanced.  In addition to Cockburn's signature guitar style there is also a wonderful accordion which creates a very strong atmosphere of an Argentinian smoke-filled tango bar.     The songwriter takes the role of the listener and viewer here and describes what he hears and then sees.  One has the sense that the songwriter is amazed at this magical moment/experience he is witnessing.    A delightful empathetic, picturesque musical pastiche.  Enjoy. 
The last song I want to feature is actually track #11 and the title track of the album.   At the age of 78, and possibly feeling closer to heaven than ever before, Bruce writes this prayer.   The chorus is a child-like refrain "O sun by day o moon by night, light my way so I get this right, and if that sun and moon don't shine, heaven guide these feet of mine to glory."
This album is a journey starting with a song called "On A Roll", much like life's roller coaster, and ending with track #12 titled "When You Arrive" and the "...dead shall sing and bells will ring when you arrive" at your ultimate destination. 
I strongly encourage you to check out the entire album.    These 4 tracks that I've featured here are just the four that really stood out for me - on first listen.   Based on your life experience you may find different tracks that stand out for you.    In fact when it comes to the music of Bruce Cockburn I have often found that songs that may not "stand out" on first listen or first discovery will reveal them later as my life experience changes.    

At any rate, I hope you found this post interesting and enjoyable.   

on being and becoming


I’ve been thinking about why I like dumpster/container images so much (like the one I’m posting today).

  • Ultimately while I may just take a photograph – there was quite a lot of work and time spent on the subject to make what its become. And its journey is not over. I’ve only preserved one moment along its journey.
  • It is a communal art. It took a dozen (or more) workers, repeatedly, to create this.
  • People followed schedules, they decided what hours they would work on it.
  • Planning and decision making was used to determine what would be put in this dumpster/container.
  • Decisions were made as to whether the so-called refuse would be tossed, thrown, dumped, dropped or placed in this container.
  • There is the time when the dumpster is full and loaded to be hauled away, its contents jostled, shaken and stirred.
  • Then of course, there is the moment the dumpster is unceremoniously emptied where contents slide out of their container into the local dump or recycling center.
  • Now there was also an element fo chance in these acts; The loose lid on the paint can that comes loose causing paint to drip, run and splash in presumed random motions, the rogue nail sticking out, various surfaces to scratch and scrape. A fabric to wipe and smear. Possibly a forgotten chemical to erode and corrode.
  • The dumpster/container is made of steel and gives the allusion of strength and permanence even though time proves it an illusion/delusion.
  • Then of course there are the elements, the sun and rain working to bring forth the corrosion, oxidation and rust with their texture and color changes.
  • All these things repeated over and over, constantly changing the “canvas” until the fateful moment I took the photograph.

I am humbled by the beauty and how little I did to create it. After all I’m just a photographer , another damaged human with an eye for damaged things. Like so many others I’m just someone with a “silver plated soul beneath the damage and the dust…” looking to photograph things and bring forth their beauty that lies beneath the damage and the dust.

Shaka Ponk?

Today I want to share a video that is, arguably, the absolutely best live cover of a Nirvana song ever!   Smells LIke Teen Spirit is anthem that taps into the cultural mainline that has addicted our world with it's refrain of "Here we are now, entertain us!".            

Shaka Ponk are a french band that has been around for years that I only recently discovered.   Maybe some of my European followers are more familiar with them.    Shaka Ponk have dabbled in a wide range of styles from hip-hop, pop, hard rock, rap, synth pop, etc.    

But in this live performance they really shine and I'm convinced they're better live than in the studio.  Recorded at the Alcaline in France complete with full band and gospel choir.     I dare you not to get swept away in this performance.   It starts at a demure level 4 (quiet and enchanting) then just before the 3 minute mark they turn the performance dial up to a shattering 10.   And it hums along until around the 4 minute mark where they nudge the dial up to 11 or maybe even 12.   And they just keep it going from there.    The performance drives, perhaps possessed by the ghost Kurt Cobain.   By the 5 minute mark I have goose bumps until the end.  It is just an amazing performance.   They know how to put on a show and the audience is with them the whole time. 

Even if this is not your taste in music.   I hope you give it a chance and enjoy it.   Unfortunately I think Shaka Ponk may be calling it quits as they are now promoting their self described "Final F*cked Up Tour". 

So enjoy this performance.  

Halfway to Halloween

The Images I posted Thurs, Friday and today are from two local "haunted house" attractions.   It seemed appropriate to post them this weekend since most "haunted house" attractions have special events this weekend celebrating Halfway to Halloween (which I didn't know was "a thing" until I started researching these locations - LOL). 

The Haunted Schoolhouse began in 1974 and has endured decades of horror.  The lessons here are haunting and filled with horror - but my own real life school experience was filled with horror so I never went to this attraction.   

The Haunted Laboratory has been, as the door says, "Infecting Akron Since 1981".   It is housed in the Daniel Guggenheim Airship Institute next door to the schoolhouse.   Daniel Guggenheim (yes that Guggenheim family) was a war hawk who was fascinated with and promoted aeronautics - specifically the science and development of airships.  He had a difficult and complicated relationship with his brothers. He was partly responsible for dragging the US into WW1.    The institute was affiliated with the University of Akron and was in operation until 1949 when airships fell out of favor and their use was declining.   So it is perhaps appropriate that this location be turned into a "haunted house" attraction.  

It only seems fitting that the music today would come from a local Ohio group.   Midnight Syndicate in the early days became recognized for their gaming soundtrack to the popular video game Dungeons and Dragons.   They have since gone on to record many albums of horror, etherwave, darkwave music that have often been performed and used in haunted house attractions.   Enjoy the Dark Legacy.

Halfway to Halloween (is a thing?)

This weekened is celebrated as "HALFWAY TO HALLOWEEN" at theme parks and haunted houses.  The photos from yesterday, today and tomorrow are from two local attractions here in Akron, Ohio.    You will see the Haunted Schoolhouse which has been haunting northeast Ohio residents since 1974.      Some lessons are very haunting indeed.  LOL 

The photo's are exterior shots only as I have never bothered to be entertained.   Just never bought into the whole "haunted house" thing kinda like watching most comedians.   I've always had the attitude "okay make me laugh" or "okay scare me" and 10 minutes later I'm already bored.   LOL.   But there are some fun moments that come out of such things - i.e. the video below by Broken Peach.     Their version of the classic Tainted Love From their Halloween Special.   Enjoy.

A Coronation

I don't know how many outside of the British Empire watched the Coronation of King Charles III.   
As a citizen of the United States I can hardly be called a Royalist.   The Country I was born into did everything in it's power to break free from the Monarchy which was achieved in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1773). 
But I decided to watch the coronation on television.   I figured I have honestly never seen a coronation and I may never have another chance to witness it - I didn't want to miss out.     I was curious and I guess have always been intrigued.    Since my youth I remember hearing and reading stories in the Bible of the coronation of Israel's Kings;  but I honestly, being American, had no way to really understand, let alone conceive of such an act.      

I have very mixed feelings about what I witnessed today.   I did find the Coronation of King Charles fascinating, informative, interesting, at times inspiring but also a little boring, repugnant and repulsive (maybe due to my "revolutionary" spirit). 

First, I want to get the negative aspects out of the way.   I've never seen so much gold, frills, accoutrements,   Also all the dedications, pledges etc to one person.   I found it completely contradictory that it should be paired with Christianity and seems to go against all that Jesus Christ taught.    It seemed more showy than life or leadership should be.    Religion "worn on the sleeve" put on public display to create an illusion of and allusions to faith.    You may disagree and that's okay.   It's simply my opinion.  And that's all the time I want to spend on that.  

It was interesting to witness the lineages of future kings and queens of the British Empire present.    It really was a reflection of royal history of the past, present and future.   Also interesting was to recognize how old the new King, and his Queen Consort, are.    He really seemed a little frail at points as I saw his hands shaking a little and he seemed to walk much more carefully but he is 74, and for his age is in remarkable health.    So we should not be surprised.  But again it was interesting to see it.  

I was moved to tears a couple of times.   And I want to point out that these emotional reactions were all related to sound and sight.   
To work my way back from the end;  The jet fighters that flew over Buckingham palace trailing red, white and blue smoke.  To hear the thunder of the planes and seeing the red, white and blue smoke as it trailed and slowly dissipated in waves like a flag waving in the wind.    

Before that there was the parade with the bands and various guard units. The bands with their horns and drums and the calling out of the parade masters, the marching of feet and horses hoofs with the sound of chariot wheels on pavement.     Those are sounds that are not normal everyday sounds in our age and something about it just made me feel that this was something special.  

Now the next two things both are tied for most inspirational moment (for me).    Because they include my favorite scripture from the Christian Bible and arguably one of the greatest classical pieces of choral music.    The scripture was taken from the new testament book of Luke.   It was the first time Jesus participated in a temple service where he took up the scroll of Isaiah and read the following:

"The spirit of the lord is on me, 
because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.   
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and 
recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, 
to proclaim the year of the lords favor." (Isaiah 61:1,2 and Luke 4:18,19)

The verses above have, for decades, been for me, the cornerstone of the Christian faith and also the greatest source of failing of the Christian faith - Especially here in the divided states of America where belief is transactional, not practical.   But I still believe in them and think these words provide for us the guidance to act and behave as Jesus Christ would have wanted.    Yet they are so often ignored these days.   In fact I have a printout that I made on a work copier 40+ years ago that I have had placed on my refrigerator door ever since.   It has of course become yellowed and brittle with age but I still keep it to inspire me.    

So to hear these words uttered as part of the coronation ceremony was very moving for me and gave me a little bit of hope that things may change, even if too slowly for my liking.   

Lastly there was so much great music.   High points for me were the gospel Ascension Choir singing Alleluia (O Sing Praises) as the commentator pointed out at the end that this was the first time ever in a British Coronation that "we've heard the joyful sounds of gospel music." 
Finally.  I've written previously on this blog about G.F. Handel's music.   This coronation included one of my all-time favorite compositions by Handel.     Back in the 1980's I purchased a CD that was titled Handel's Coronation Anthems + Dixit Dominus, more out of curiosity than anything else - because at that time I was was only familiar with his masterwork titled THE MESSIAH.   That disc, bought on a whim contained two works that I have loved much more than THE MESSIAH,    The DIXIT DOMINUS and  the anthem that was used in today's coronation called ZADOK THE PRIEST.     

ZADOK THE PRIEST was composed in 1727  (only a few years before the American Revolutionary War) specifically for the coronation of King George II and has been used in every British coronation since.  Handel who was german born had, by that point, become a British citizen.   The source material, directed by the Anglican Bishops would come from the Bible and while the Bishops attempted to select the material Handle reportedly said, "I have read my Bible very well, and shall choose for myself”.    Now that must've been a little discomfiting for the Bishops (LOL). Maybe I like that because of the rebel in me and my belief that anyone who reads the scripture has access and can understand for themselves the most holy of books in the Christian religion.   

What inspired Handel was the coronation of King Solomon from the old testament and the text he used as follows:

"Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king.
And all the people rejoiced and said:
God save the King! Long live the King! God save the King!
May the King live for ever. Amen. Hallelujah.” 

The text is a distillation of the Old Testament book 1 Kings 1:34-45.  The music is grand beyond measure and humbling - it makes me fall to my knees every time.   I present for you one of the finest examples of this piece below performed by the period performers The English Concert & Händelfestspielorchester Halle,     I hope you enjoy.    I'll be curious to know your thoughts.   Feel free to comment.  
With the coronation out of the way I want to present as a bonus my other absolute favorite of Handels works the Dixit Dominus (not used in the coronation).    Dixit Dominus simply translates as "The lord said".   The entire text of the piece is the Latin version of Psalm 110.  In my opinion it totally "rocks!!!!"  Enjoy and be inspired by this recording from the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloist's conducted by legendary John Eliot Gardiner.