Cortez In The Classroom

Kim Kirkpatrick: An afternoon conversation at home with my daughter:

7th grade daughter, "Dad you know that song you play about Cortez?"

Dad, " "Cortez The Killer", what about it?"

10th grade sister bolts from her room and says, "Cool song, Neil Young should get an award for writing so many songs that make you cry."

7th grade daughter, "My Social Studies teacher played it for the class today."

Dad, "Really, why did he do that?"

7th grade daughter, "We were studying Cortez and he played the song, gave us the lyrics, and ask us to write about it.

Dad, "Write about Cortez?"

7th grade daughter, " No, we could write about how Neil Young felt about the Aztecs or Cortez."

10th grade daughter, "Cool, he's a cool teacher I liked his class."

Dad, "Which did you pick to write about?'

7th grader, "How he felt about the Aztecs."

Dad, "Good choice."


It Might Get Loud

Bob Burnett: I finally watched the film It Might Get Loud recently via Netflix on their "watch instantly" streaming media outlet. The film was directed by Davis Guggenheim, son of the late Charles Guggenheim who was probably the closest thing I ever have had to a professional role model. You may recall that It Might Get Loud brought together three "groundbreaking" guitar players: Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin fame, The Edge of the brand known as U2 and Jack White, the Detroit upholsterer who re-created the spirit of Son House via The White Stripes. There are wonderful moments in the individual segments; Jimmy Page playing a 45 of Link Wray's Rumble, Jack White talking about Son House, the Detroit neighborhood he grew up in and his desire to play cheap, beat-up impedence-laden guitars. I have nothing to add about The Edge/U2 beyond he seems like a "nice guy" and all but...U2 is just another media advertising campaign telling me how white my shirts can be as far as I'm concerned.

There's musical sharing between the three guitarists--but in a set-up environment where they are brought together summit-style, put under lights, sat in chairs and expected to be brilliant. I could have done without that contrivance, but I'm sure that was the vehicle for getting the whole enterprise funded. The film is shot nicely (Director of Photography is Washington, DC's Erich Roland) and kept simple, thoughtful and easily watchable. However, a week after the viewing and the inevitable post-screen pondering, I've come to the conclusion that the model of a musician portrayed (well.....I'll give Jack White a bit of a pass here...) doesn't really connect with what I find interesting in music and musicians today. These guys come across, like it or not, as rock stars; lots of pricey gear, schedules to keep, entourages, involved recording projects, on and on.

My takeaways after watching this film made me focus more keenly on how much I like artists who keep nimble in mobile, internet-savvy worlds either self-releasing via PayPal or using the web as an informational tool self-promoting their activities, gigs, releases, work.

A few examples to make my point: Christopher Willits and Rafael Toral. Both Willits and Toral have excellent web sites where you can download music for a very reasonable price (Toral has an interesting subscription service), keep abreast of their activities, collaborations and output. This flexibility allows them to take chances, be open to the creative process and not be at the whim and fancy of record labels, huge 18-wheeler laden tours or controlled publicity machines. I see the work of Toral and Willits taking the next step in what the improvisational trio AMM did by creating their own label (Matchless) to allow themselves as much control as possible.

So, I'd say watch the film...but....go to the other web sites I highlighted and see if they offer you a more contemporary connection to music.


C60 Crew Music Mix: Weaving Resonances

Bob Burnett: Today's C60 music mix is due in part to my continued discovery of sound design artists who weave sonics and textures together to create very satisfying listening experiences for me. 12k, the very fine label of Taylor Deupree, offers up a duet project between Deupree and Savvas Ysattis. I dip into some other old stand bys: Tape, Nels Cline, Mark Dresser, Tortoise and William Basinski. A few new offerings appear too: Minoru Sato's tone study on Spekk--another very fine label I keep finding more and more adventurous and likable releases. Enjoy--and thanks for listening.


C60 Crew Music Mix: "Days on the Mountain"

Bob Burnett: Kim has put together a nice mix that is an hour of drifting atmospheres, culture shifts, music from minimal to thick with beats and rhythm. The beauty for me in this mix is the wide-open production on many of the cuts, the spacious sound and the ability by the artists to let the grooves grow, evolve and make great use of long expanses of time. Plays well at the desk and I bet you could even get away with listening at work! I first listened to this mix while watching night fall on Shanghai from a beautiful viewpoint; a 17th floor window with a panorama of the Pudong neighborhood. Maybe that colored my point of view but I doubt it; it's working for me as I type on a rainy, gray Washington, DC day too.