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Archive for the ‘Pop Music’ Category

Emily Frembgen and the Language of Termites at the Sidewinder Tavern, Sept. 14, 2013, a Review of Sorts…

Four people, although geographically separated, have found a way to tap into that mysterious connection the best musicians have with each other. Bassist Victor Foster, singer and guitarist Emily Frembgen, drummer Tim Reed and guitarist Farrell Styers formed a band they call the Language of Termites. They move in and out of each other’s lives in pairs or threes, but all four of them are rarely in the same place and time.

Language of Termites at Old Curtis Street Bar, Denver, October 19, 2012

Language of Termites at Old Curtis Street Bar, Denver, October 19, 2012

The Language of Termites played their first live show in October 2012 to celebrate the release of their second album, Pretérito Perfeito. But only three of the band members were there. They recruited guitarist Travis Stevens, who ably filled in for the absent Farrell. Farrell was in Kyrgyzstan and sent secret tones.

But then on September 14, 2013, magic happened in Globeville, that lost Denver neighborhood between I70 and the railroad tracks. Singer and songwriter Emily Frembgen had scheduled a solo show at the Sidewinder Tavern, a bar that comes with an old-fashioned ballroom attached. Victor was going to accompany Emily on guitar, something he had done at two of her previous shows, Titwrench, the previous Saturday, and the ancient but still beautiful Mercury Cafe, the Thursday before that. Emily was visiting from New York and there was talk that Farrell was going to be in town on a visit before moving from Kyrgyzstan to Belgium. Yes, the Termites travel a lot. And since Victor and Tim actually live in Denver, it was decided: the Language of Termites would play their first ever show with all four members of the band.

A quick rehearsal was scheduled the day of the show. They even taught Farrell some of the new songs in the car on the way to Globeville. It was the first day of any real sunshine after three days of fitful rain. And it was Emily’s birthday. A good day for magic.

Language of Termites at the Sidewinder Tavern, Globeville, Denver, September 14, 2013

Language of Termites at the Sidewinder Tavern, Globeville, September 14, 2013

Behind a multicolored scarf draped over her microphone stand, Emily sang her wistful, beautifully written songs with a detached charm. Tim played drums with a hint of jazz tones. Farrell and Victor alternated on bass and guitar, both adding just the right color to the music.

Despite the lack of any real rehearsal time, the Termites played with quiet passion and captured some of the mystery hidden in their two overlooked albums. There were a couple of minor flubs, and one false start, but the audience didn’t seem to care. They watched attentively and gave each song enthusiastic applause.

Emily’s songs had a different sort of shine than when she sings them solo. They work either way, but this band gives them a surge of energy that removes the hush and deepens their melancholy. To really appreciate what Emily is doing you should experience her songs both ways, solo and with this band.

Should the Language of Termites actually find themselves in the same space for an extended time they would likely become a major force, but maybe part of their allure is the mystery their zigzag geography gives them. Farrell is off to Belgium soon and Emily will return to New York.

Emily Frembgen Performing at the Titwrench Fest, Glob, Denver, September 7, 2013

Emily Frembgen Performing at the Titwrench Fest, Glob, Denver, September 7, 2013

I called this band “Denver’s Velvet Underground” because, although the two bands sound very different, it seems the Termites explore similar dark edges as their beloved forebears. The Termites just look at the shadows in a different way. I think if Lou Reed knew what his mischievous grandchildren were up to he’d be smiling proudly.

You can find both Language of Termites albums at: termites.bandcamp.com

And Emily Frembgen’s music is on Tumblr: emilyfrembgen.tumblr.com

Photos and text © 2012-2013 Joe Beine

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Sinead O'Connor at a Denver Press Conference in 1988 by Joe Beine

Sinead O’Connor at a Denver press conference in 1988 — this is one of the most viewed and favorited photographs on my Flickr stream. She played an emotional show at the Rainbow Music Hall later that night.

Here is another photograph I took at the same press conference.

Sinead O'Connor at a Denver Press Conference in 1988 by Joe Beine

Camera: Pentax ME Super. Film: Kodak Gold 400.

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The Language of Termites by Joe Beine

The Language of Termites taking a break from recording their second album, June 17, 2012. You can download the album from: The Language of Termites at Bandcamp

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In 1996, Tanya Donelly began a solo career after spending many years in well regarded bands, Throwing Muses, Breeders and Belly. When her first solo album, Lovesongs for Underdogs, was released, I wrote to her and asked if she’d answer a few questions for my website. That website went offline when Geocities closed in 2009. Here’s a reprint of that lost interview. Tanya’s response to my letter arrived in mid-December 1998.

Question: I have the impression that your surname is Irish. Do you know much about your family roots? Do you feel much of a connection to Ireland or wherever else your family roots might be from?

Tanya: Donelly is Irish, but my family came over so long ago that I feel no direct connection to Ireland, other than a romantic one. I just recently developed an interest in genealogy and would like to learn more about my blood. I’m also Hungarian on my mother’s side—easier to trace because my great grandparents came over in the beginning of this century.

Q: Is it scary having your name on the CD cover rather than having Throwing Muses or Belly on there?

T: Yes.

Q: Do you feel comfortable being a solo artist?

T: More so now.

Q: Or does it just seem natural?

T: It doesn’t feel completely natural to me yet. I’ve got a band again in a way-the people I toured with are playing on this new record and will most likely do the next tour with me, too.

Q: How do you perceive your place in the marketplace? Are record sales important to you? Or do you leave that kind of stuff to your manager and others? Are you happy with a small cult kind of following? Or does having huge record sales appeal to you?

T: I’m more happy with a small cult following and the artistic freedom that comes with that. It’s also important to sell enough records in order to continue to make them.

Q: How different was the transition from the Muses to Belly, compared to going from Belly to solo?

T: Leaving the Muses was an amicable, sad experience. The Belly breakup was a less than amicable, sad experience. I think the Muses split was harder, because I was younger and much more easily freaked out.

Q: Do you feel like you’re writing music more for yourself now, rather than for a band?

T: Yes, although I still keep the people I play with in mind when I have certain noises in my head and when I’m thinking about parts. Dean, Rich, Elizabeth and Dave are very much part of the process on this record.

(by Joe Beine, 1998; may not be reproduced without permission)

Tanya Donelly’s Website

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U2's 360 degrees tour spaceship in Las Vegas

U2's 360 Degrees tour spaceship lands in Las Vegas

For more photographs see: U2 in Las Vegas

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Dime Box Five and Dime Waltz CDLong ago in Texas, a small town didn’t have a post office. So the people left a dime in a box to get a letter delivered. And the town became known as Dime Box. Just a little while ago in California, a group of musical women got together on the singer’s back porch and made some sounds that echoed small town Texas life. So they called themselves Dime Box.

You don’t need electricity to make the sounds Dime Box makes. You just need some strings for the mandolin, the fiddle and the guitars, and maybe some brushes for the drummer. And a fine country voice like Dolly or Patsy. Dime Box singer Kristi Callan has one of those voices. You know, the kind that floats effortlessly over the lyrics. The kind that yearns and reminds you of some faraway place where you always wanted to go. And the songs… Well, they’ve got ten heartfelt originals and a Dolly cover here.

“Bone to Pick” is an old fashioned country toe-tapper with tangy barbeque sauce poured all over it and great biting lyrics: “I want you up and gone by the end of this song.” During “High Road” the bass and brushed drums chase each other in a galloping rhythm. “Mama” is surrounded by smooth harmonies and plaintive violin figures that echo the song’s theme of regret.

Some of the songs are about women escaping and coping. Take the kids post-divorce and start over. The title song is about living a life somewhere between homelessness and normal society. Collecting scraps and leftovers and making them work. But the song makes it more bearable by comparing it to a dance: “doing the five and dime waltz.”

The wistful “Up to Here” is another post-divorce escape, but this time it’s balanced by remembering the joys of being naive.

My favorite song is “Betsy,” which longs for the return of a much missed old friend. It has just the right touch of pensive mandolin playing and wondering lyrics.

The best way to hear the music of Dime Box is to sit out on your back porch around dusk and listen. Or pick up this CD. Just be sure to leave a dime in the box for the postman.

You can order the Dime Box CD from Amazon or CD Baby

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Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara

Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara, Boulder Theater, November 3, 2007
Boulder, Colorado

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