the brit awards were last night (kinda like british grammys). cat power lost to nelly furtado in the international female category. bob dylan lost to justin timberlake in the international male category. I hate the scissor sisters more every time I am forced to hear their cloying pop hits. I can’t tell snow patrol from take that, which means no matter how hard I’ve tried I will never be british. I know both acts have had ubiquitous (and hugely mediocre) hits in this country. I can tell lily allen from amy winehouse, but I am still not convinced that either is gonna change the world (lily’s dad is really good in bbc’s robin hood, I have to say). in 2007 music seems like a very, very sad and bland time for music indeed. I was in topshop yesterday when “how soon is now?” came on and that was surely the best song I’ve ever heard in there. does anything from now even come close? I ask you? anyone?
Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.
Four be the things I’d been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.
Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.
Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.
we salute the great mrs parker on this most heinous of capitalism-inspired holidays.
the legendary jim ruiz is one of the classic chickfactor singer-songwriters. his swoon-worthy songs, his gentle jazzy guitar moves, his humble ways, we love the guy. the only thing to complain about is how little music he has generated over the years! that is all going to change now that his fans have a way of contacting him (via, you know, the internet). I gave a copy of sniff to a handsome man in 2006 and it didn’t do much good, but if I were handing out valentines tomorrow I’d be sure to put the lovely legendary jim ruiz tune “be my valentine” in there too. pam interviewed the legendary jim ruiz group for cf back in 1995 or something, so we figured it was time for an update…
chickfactor: hi jim, what happened to the legendary jim ruiz group?
jim ruiz: I wasn’t sure myself, but then I was hitchhiking in glacier national park with my girlfriend laura and this older couple picked us up. I noticed a guitar and started talking gear with him. his wife asked if I was in a band and I told her I used to be. when she asked me why I quit, I blurted out “I guess I ran out of songs!”
where are the members?
they have gone on to find success in their various fields. allison is in the owls and they are about to release their second album. chris is still going strong at the minneapolis public library. he found love, he’s been with his boyfriend jeff for over a year now. stephanie has released a couple of cds and I hear she’s thinking of moving to england. danny sigelman is working for the current, a public radio station devoted to playing non-commercial modern music and he also DJs events. charlotte is married and has had two baby girls, sally and jane.
what are you doing?
I’m still working at the public library and I am also the president of my neighborhood association, the west bank community coalition.
where is the next album?
after a couple of years doing practically no music, I bought a 16-track digital recording thing. that really became my band and I’ve been working songs out on that. I’ve been fortunate enough to get help from friends and people who I would call “old jazz guys.” so my goal is to have 10 songs that I’m really happy with, I’m recording #9 now and writing #10, although I have some options for #10.
do you have a website? blog? etc.
it’s funny you should ask, I’m in the process of getting my new myspace page up and running. although it’s not even finished, I just shattered the 100 hit mark yesterday! I’m using a picture you took as my signature picture.
is minneapolis still a great pop town?
if it’s not at the moment it certainly has the potential to be. okay, we took a hit when grimsey left town but minneapolis is a musical place, it’s part of its culture. there are a lot of really great musicians around here. I think it’s only a matter of time before something happens, and now we have a radio station that will play local music that goes to the whole state; the conditions are favorable for a pop explosion.
didn’t prince leave town recently?
I would be surprised if he didn’t live here at least part of the year. his house is in minnetonka anyway, I think that’s mentioned in his movie.
what music still resonates?
I can now say with a great deal of certainty that my favorite jazz vocalist of all time is lee wiley and that the album that is the pinnacle of that genre is her west of the moon album with ralph burns. with the exception of the track “limehouse blues,” it is perfection. in fact at this very moment I am listening to her night in manhattan album that I just received in the mail today. it’s amazing, what an amazing voice, buy, buy, buy! everybody should own the mose allison sings album. he’s like an undiscovered ray charles; he should be a thousand times more famous than he is. the first two françoise hardy albums, yeah, yeah girl from paris and in vogue are still magical. I’m more and more impressed by the maturity of the would-be-goods songwriting, I just put the morning after on the other day and I think that the album has high points that haven’t been reached since the 80s. bossa nova as a genre, particularly as more brazilian stuff becomes available – an ongoing project. 60s soul music, now I’m cheating I suppose. georgie fame playing “yeah, yeah” live on ready, steady, go (1965) on youtube gives me heart palpitations. the smiths were in retrospect much better than people gave them credit for at the time, myself included. live at the star club 1962 continues to be my favorite beatles album. I have to acknowledge that in retrospect the jazz butcher/max eider alliance at a pivotal moment made me think “hey, I could write songs like that,” causing me to throw away my life on a useless dream.
what is the news on max eider?
coincidentally, I’ve been in touch with max eider and he is about to release a new album that he is self-producing. he is considering playing a couple of shows in the u.s. and let’s just say I feel like we’re in the running for a chance of warming up for him. in any case I’m putting a band together for the first time in 6 years – just in case.
do you feel like writing songs?
I always feel like writing songs, finishing them is the real problem.
when are you coming to london?
once I get this next cd done, invite me and I’ll do my best. cf
photograph: gail o’hara
it’s no secret to anyone who sees me on a regular basis that I am a fan of rebecca pearcy’s durable and beautiful queenbee products. I keep my precious camera warm and dry inside one of her lovely poppy truckette bags and there are few bags that can endure rainy london weather quite so well. now what I really really want for presidents day is a mixtape wonder wallet!
if you are like katy who has no rock camp in her area yet, you should try to find people in the community to start one! until then, perhaps sarah utter’s (ex-bangs) guitar basics zine would be a good place to start. check out her fab t-shirts on the page too. surely if you wear one of her ‘reading is sexy’ t-shirts in your town, you will meet some like-minded people to form a band with!
chickfactor celebrates its 15th anniversary this summer and even though we’ve slowed down a lot for a number of reasons, we do still have readers so I keep it going. a lot of things happened in 1992 when we started: nirvana + grunge + hole; riot grrrl hit the headlines; I moved to new york and worked at a rock magazine (where they actually used a photo of a model instead of a real riot grrrl when they ran their silly piece; perhaps a real riot grrrl would not consent); I went to my first new music seminar and my first cmj (which were, to me, at that time, pretty damned exciting); chickfactor-approved bands like pavement, my bloody valentine, stereolab, the wedding present, heavenly, lois, eggs, etc etc etc, were kicking the pop world’s ass; I even attended a taping of the jane pratt TV show where the subject was riot grrrl and the featured act was bettie serveert. lots of people were starting small labels, the music industry almost seemed excited about music too!
now it’s 15 years later and things really have changed. the rest of the world might be hating america right now, but many people who live there are changing the big monster for the better. of course music has changed in some ways for the worst (no one releases 7-inch singles anymore; bands don’t have time to develop before they’re hyped to death because there isn’t much of an underground). but in the same way the US has given birth in this century to ladyfest and a new generation of small artists who are crafting their way to making a living, it has invented something I very much wish had been around when I was a girl: the girls rock camp. so far the first and most famous was the sleater-kinney-approved rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls in portland, oregon’s summer camp, but others are here now too: willie mae rock camp in new york city, which has produced the already-famous superduo called magnolia; chicago rock camp; girls rock philly in the usa. sweden is getting europe started with popkollo girls rock camps in various locales around the country, and I’m involved with some cool london ladies in attempting to jump-start rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls uk. please send us british pounds to get the whole thing rolling. a few organizers are heading to the portland conference this month for people who want to learn how to set up a girls rock camp in their town.
if you wish you were between the ages of 8 and 18 so you could sign up for a girls rock camp but you are already too old, there is now a ladies rock camp in portland as well, which takes place april 27 to 29. all that american idol / x-factor is all well and good for mindless entertainment, but the only way to be a girl rocker is to write some songs of your own and rock. so sign yourself, your mom, your daughter up now.
can’t seem to find the right valentine’s message for your paramour? I’m sure stella marrs can help. check out her beautiful postcards and start bombarding the object of your affection with these romantic messages. stella’s work has gotten more political these days — no other artist has taken on health concerns and environmental issues and presented the argument against harmful chemicals in home and personal products in such a clear cut and effective way (stop using them unless you want cancer, that’s the gist) — but as you can see on her website she covers all of life’s big subjects.
postcards: stella marrs
the brit awards. how silly are they? I hear that even the nominees have to pay like £750 to get in! is that a scam or what? no wonder no one wants to go. well, the silliest thing about it this year is the international female category where we have beyonce, pink, xtina aguilera and nelly effing frittata up against none other than our very own charlene “cat power” marshall! hoo boy. does this mean grammys and oscars are next for miss chan? the thing is, back when I worked at time out new york in 1995, we did a story on hot local acts to watch and I chose cat power. I interviewed her (I may have been the first non-fanzine to do so) and I mentioned that she’d recently opened for liz phair at town hall and she had blown liz phair away. then I got a letter from some angry reader who told me I was full of shit and that cat power was terrible at that town hall show, everyone could see that! I guess we can wait until cat power becomes the first lady of chanel, until she appears in a wong kar-wei film, until she conquers all to admit that she might be one to watch. (this post is for that reader (and for gerard, who really “discovered” her), natch.)
photograph: gail o’hara for chickfactor
that’s right, gang (especially you new yorkers!) the lovely ms phoebe bluesky summersquash is starring in a play in new york city! the girl has multiple talents and loads of acting experience — I believe she was even one of the famous ‘silvermen’ in sarah silverman’s backing band and she was also the slacker cartoon voice on some mtv hit show!
the play is called savage in limbo (written by john patrick shanley, directed by jocelyn burrows)
also starring jocelyn burrows, erin cross, brant cunningham + andres monroy
february 14, 15, 16 and 17 @ 8pm, at the michael weller theatre, 311 west 43 st, suite 602, between eighth and ninth aves
tickets $18; for reservations call (845) 551-1199
here’s what they say: ‘a tragicomedy in one act, it’s a romp in the bronx at a bar where everyone is 32 and going nowhere not so fast. featuring a virgin with a pack of cards, an oversexed and under appreciated hothead, a barkeep with a santa suit, a failed nun and a handsome italian hot shot looking for ugly girls. you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, but most of all you’ll be glad you’re not stuck in their situation…or are you?’
so grab your anti-valentine’s day party date and go.
I was lucky enough to go see m ward (who I can say I totally adore as the comfort food music of choice these days, oh I really do) and portastatic (aka mac) at the town hall on 26 january 2007 in new york. it was on a superfreezing evening and our feet froze all night long, but oh was it all worth it. portastatic played a go-betweens classic and also one of our fave tracks “I wanna know girls” and margaret white the subtle sidewoman pulled out all kinds of instruments and made it all sound super for a duo.
I have to admit I had only just seen m ward one time, opening for mlle neko rochelle case at london’s lovely koko, so it was glorious to have him play a proper set, mostly alone. he needed a haircut (but he’s still pretty foxy), and he slumps around and he only looks mean the way he does in photos some of the time — the rest of the time he makes funny (not smily) faces. I know some people say he appeals to the deadhead noodle dancing crowd (oh what an awful thing to say) or he is only for the ladies but I know this just isn’t true. he may be getting a little too slick (going on the road with norah jones I hear) and I hope he doesn’t get so full of himself that he may burst, but man oh man he’s a good thing happening right now, not like these mediocre pansies flooding the streets of my current place of residence. go m ward. that daniel johnston cover is about the best thing I’ve seen in years…. (but why was conor oberst on the stage with him looking rather pale and ill?)