Rarely seen Bill Hicks interview on Austin public access channel

“There’s no difference between good music and good comedy. It’s entertainment. And entertainment is suspension of time and space, so that you realize your true nature, which is spaceless and timeless.”

Rarely seen video of the prophet himself on a tiny public access channel in Austin. He had just had his big break, a standup routine he filmed for David Letterman, censored from the episode. He had announced his retirement from American comedy clubs. At the time this video was filmed, he had known he had cancer for nearly five months. He never mentions it.

Mexico, an original song and a cappella music video

First of all, I don’t know if we, as a species, will ever truly figure out how to spell “a cappella” in a way that we can all agree upon. I’ve chosen the proper Italian, and will probably take a hit to my search results because of it. Which is fine; it’s about attracting the right search queriers, not the most. Also “queriers” shouldn’t have a red line under it, Google. For shame.

There are a lot of exciting things going on. I’ve been enjoying running my YouTube channel, and will eventually do a post about what I’ve learned. This site is also in dire need of a redesign due to that and also just because I’m tired of this one. It should help me get excited about posting more again.

Speaking of segues, here’s an original song I wrote and recorded as an a cappella multitrack music video. The song’s called Mexico. More soon!

The Gender Dictionary According To Facebook – an explanation of all 55 new gender options

So, Facebook just did an awesome thing: they added a “Custom” option to the Gender options for your profile. To change yours, go to About, then click Edit under Basic Information and select Custom, then type in one of the below choices (or anything else under the sun)!

I’ve compiled a list of all the options that pop up when you start typing a letter and will give an explanation of each one. Maybe one day we’ll live in a world where “Male” or “Female” isn’t even an option any more, but until then, we’ve got awesome platforms like Facebook. Keep up the good work, you creepily invasive social network you!

Many definitions derived or directly lifted from Wikipedia or the Gender Wiki.

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All-vocal beatbox cover of Before I Ever Met You

If you remember way back in 2013, I wrote about one of my favorite new artists Banks, who at the time was just blowing up around the intertubes. Well, not to say I didn’t tell you so, but she’s just been signed to Warner/Chappell (Facebook link), and to celebrate the occasion I did a beatbox cover of her song!

There will be some changes around here in the coming weeks, and after that I will start updating more frequently again. Some incredibly exciting projects will be under way and I couldn’t be more excited. In the meantime, go follow my personal label Hodgepodge Records on Facebook and Twitter, subscribe to me on YouTube to follow all these videos, and get ready for some gamechangers! Much love.

An Iranian Dismantling a Nuclear Bomb on U.S. Soil

Multi-faceted artist Saba Alizadeh has created a piece that combines his unique visual aesthetic with sound and theater, and the result is a stunning, politically charged work with heart-wrenching subtlety.

I am a half-Arab who looks American. Saba is an Iranian who looks Arab. And in this experience, I am struck by the powerful marriage of visuals and experimental sound to arrive at the piece’s central theme. He sits in full protective gear, complete with surgical mask and safety goggles, and gets to work. As the piece progresses, the lights turn off and a wonderful dance of light and sound commences. We watched him build the thing ourselves, but still the context is inescapable. He hugs a lamp to his chest, using light sensors in his circuit to tune it to the drone, and makes it sing.

Don’t think here about modes, harmony, pitch, or meter. Do think about structure. Think about an Iranian holding a bright light to his heart, and what it means when we realize that the context of that performance, simply because he is an Iranian on U.S. soil, is… different. And art exists to point out differences in a way that makes them not.

The piece ends with darkness and the familiar Morse code plea for help. Some people might hear a bunch of squeaks and bleeps and might even scoff at calling this music. But, as for this reviewer, I nearly cried.

Saba will be performing at Seyhoun Gallery in West Hollywood on Wednesday, October 30th at 8 p.m.

My beatbox cover of Billie Jean

This summer I’ve done a couple of sort-of-almost-professional beatboxing gigs, and I loved it so much I’ve been inspired to do a few videos on my YouTube channel. I hope to do these on a regular basis from now on. Here’s this week’s video, a cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean using only a microphone and a Boss DD-20 Giga Delay. It’s gotten over a hundred views already, which is awesome. If the interest keeps up, I hope to create a real channel, with subscribers and consistency and everything. Enjoy!

Strangely Soothing Songs

As it is Claude Debussy’s birthday, I thought I’d share some music I find soothing, in my own way. What you have to understand, though, is that people are just born with differently wired nervous systems. When they want to wind down or reenergize, different people will go to classical, or coffeehouse, or chill lounge, or even Coldplay. I just happen to be soothed by loud music with a groove. It seems to help if there are metallophones involved. Cut up vocal samples, too. If you notice any particular trend, seriously, let me know. But for whatever reason, these songs all occupy the same musical space in my soul. When I need it, these are examples of what get me and my particularly atypical nervous system when I need them to.

I’ve linked each video with a little description, and at the bottom of this post is an embedded YouTube playlist that will play them in the basically arbitrary order in which I thought of them. So come back to this post whenever you need it, weary traveler. Make a cup of hot tea and rest your feet by fire. Then jam the hell out. Enjoy.

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Bubbeleh’s first album!

Bubbeleh is a Klezmer band comprising some incredible musicians and personal friends of mine. Some are of Jewish descent, like the always entertaining Phil Rankin and Max Kutner (who just finished touring with Frank Zappa’s old band!), and some are not, but all seem to get that Klezmer music is some of the most fun music to perform in existence. The players hail from all walks of musical life such as jazz, latin, metal, punk, classical, plus all sorts of obscure genres I’ve probably never heard of. That sense of fun comes through in every track and live performance, which is what makes them stand out to me as a multi-genre ensemble.

I was lucky enough to see them play at El Cid last week, and while I’ve seen their show before, that night held a particular sort of magic. In the company of the wildly original Orange Tulip Conspiracy and Balkan powerhouse Orkestar MÉZÉ, Bubbeleh held their own and more. Hip teens and twenty-somethings danced their asses off to this music, which we still characterize as “exotic” in this context, but mark my words: not for long! As the mixmashing of music genres intensifies thanks to no-lag communication speeds across the world, musicians are going to need to step up their game in terms of what other-culture flavors they bring to their music. Applying pop, jazz, and what-have-you sensibilities to their upbringing in Jewish music, Phil, Max, and their host of uber-talented compadres have landed on a formula that works, and works well.

Bubbeleh has just over 24 hours left on their Indiegogo campaign to fund their first full-length album, and I’m sure would be most appreciative if you donated anything you can! Or, if not, spread the word by sharing this post or their Indiegogo web address: http://igg.me/at/bubbeleh