A Wayward Word's Worth

January 22, 2011

Wainwright Family Business

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 2:37 am

Folk legend and Grammy winner, Loudon Wainwright champions the ukulele and his kin’s rhythmic lineage. By Kyle Mullin for Edmonton’s SEE Magazine, Jan. 20 2011

When those nylon strings bite into Loudon Wainwright III’s fingertips the folk luminary winces happily- not from pain, but from the jangling rhythms that can be coaxed from his ukulele.

“It has a kind of cheerful tone,” says the singer songwriter of his prized instrument, which he will likely break out along with a banjo and guitar during his Jan. 26 gig at the Arden Theatre. “First of all, I spend a lot of time lugging a guitar around — sometimes a banjo.  A ukulele is very light weight and compact. That’s one thing right there. [But] I put [a song about] it on my new record — I believe it’s the last track — because of its sound, you know, those nylon strings.”

That whimsical ditty, dubbed “Got a Ukulele,” includes lines like “I don’t play no fiddle no, mystery no riddle… four strings made of nylon, always put a smile on…” And, fun as it may be to play, a wincing cringe may come from the considerable change in tone between that quirky closing track and the rest of the songs that make up his latest album, 10 Songs for the New Depression — from the opening tune “Times Is Hard,” to “The Panic Is On,” and “Fear Itself.”

But Wainwright insists that his ukulele ode is as crucial as anything else on the album, because a folkster’s role is not to merely comment but also celebrate.




Sweet Leaf

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 2:31 am

Author and tea lover Warren Peltier explores the history of an artform that brims over with beauty and tradition. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijing Review Online, Jan. 18 2011

Warren Peltier squinted through the steam, convinced that the mug of tea beneath it held much more than his reflection.

“I hope interest in tea will blossom,” said the author as he grasped his mug and outlined his plans for a January 20 reading at The Bookworm cafe in Sanlitun, where he will present his new book, The Ancient Art of Tea.

“I want to impress on people just how unaware we are of 3,000 years of tea history in China. It originated so long ago, but we’re only aware of such a small amount,” he said.

Peltier said most modern tea drinkers are oblivious to the fact that preparing those simmering cups can be more than a morning routine. Brewing tea was once heralded as a Chinese artform. The Song Dynasty (960-1279) practice was called fen cha or “parting tea” – in those times, cities like Fuzhou (where Peltier lives and works) in southeast China’s Fujian Province hosted gatherings of teabrewers who would whisk the tea and create amazing images in its seething froth



January 11, 2011

The Exhaustion of Inspiration

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 4:11 pm

Lu Zhengyuan finds a fresh artistic edge under pressure as he pledges to make a new creation every day for UCCA’s “84 Days, 84 Works,” exhibit. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijing Review Online, Dec. 14 2010

Lu Zhengyuan’s latest exhibit, titled “84 Days, 84 Works,” is less like an exhibit and more like artistic calisthenics.

The exhibit, which has been featured at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art since mid-October, has allowed Lu to treat his inspiration like a muscle which must be trained and toned. The multimedia artist has stuck to a strict daily deadline, crafting works of art out of materials that seem common and uninteresting on their own, but take on new meaning when he fuses them together.

Each of the series’ offbeat creations was made in less than 24 hours in order to reach the daily quota; the pressure has pushed Lu toward the very edge of his psyche.

“I really expect a day when my mind goes blank,” Lu said of his work. Of course, similar fears have plagued artists since the beginning of recorded history. “I wonder whether my inspiration can be drained or not. The problem I am thinking over every day is…where my inspiration comes from.”



Billy Corgan’s Fool’s Errand

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 4:07 pm

Lead Smashing Pumpkin is seeing music through kaleidoscope eyes. By Kyle Mullin for Albuquerque’s IQ Magazine, Nov. 28 2010

It’s difficult to look away from Billy Corgan’s characteristic onstage stare; it smolders like old embers, charred enough to fit the tenderest of ballads or sharply pierce through big, burly stadium rock notes that can drop jaws. Yet, as commanding as his gape can sometimes be, the front man for Smashing Pumpkins says he is more often inspired when he turns his gaze to a deck of Tarot cards. In a way, every note of the music Smashing Pumpkins has created over the past two decades has been dealt out, perhaps in an effort to caress the very psyche of its listeners, like a deck of cards. It’s as if Corgan is not merely singing to his fans, but giving them a reading, of sorts.
Of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck, Corgan has an affinity for one in particular. On it is a vibrant sketch of a skinny fellow with a staff slung over his shoulder as he strides confidently toward the edge of a cliff. Below that picture sits two starkly written words: “The Fool,” the
title of the only unnumbered card in the deck.
“We are all, in essence, on the fool’s journey,” Corgan said in a recent interview with Local iQ, upon the untraditional release of Smashing Pumpkins’ Teargarden by Kaleidyscope. “So the inspiration for the (new) album is the story of the fool, which is the story of life as we all struggle towards transcendence.”



Warriors of Folk

Filed under: Uncategorized — kylelawrence @ 4:02 pm

Hanggai revive long lost Mongolian song styles. By Kyle Mullin for The Beijing Review Online, Nov. 18 2010

It rumbles like an earthquake, the foreboding growl threatening to shake us all to our very cores.

Mongolian throat singing may be a nearly-forgotten art form, but one Chinese band is hell-bent on breathing new life into the thunderous tradition. Fans of experimental folk music can bear witness to that resuscitation on November 24 at Yugong Yishan, where Hanggai will unleash its haunting, bristling rhythms.

The members of Hanggai root their ragged punk anthems in the conventions of their ancestors’ folk songs – using traditional throat singing styles, vintage banjos, two-stringed lutes, and lyrics about living honorably and toiling to live off the land, all in an effort to draw on the brawn of their culture’s warrior lineage.



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