Sofa Kings in the Studio

My rock band, The Sofa Kings, is heading into the recording studio this weekend and it is very exciting because I intend to record the experience on video, too. We have five songs that we intend to put down with the engineer, Paul, who has worked as an engineer extensively throughout our region and who plays with a bunch of, well, hard-hard rock bands. Our goal is record about 12 original songs by the end of 2007, so this is just the first batch for us.


Listen to The Sofa Kings

Four of the five songs are ones that I have written or co-written.

Here is a quick breakdown:

  • Gravitational Pull — an older song that I wrote with John, the guitar player, about my wife and how everything seems centered on her (in a wonderful way). I sing on this one.
  • Katrina Blows In — I wrote this one in the aftermath of the hurricane season and premiered it at my school where I teach during a benefit concert with an offshoot band I am in called The Millenium Bugs.
  • Beacon in the Night — I wrote this one with John, with a sort of gospel feel to it. Don sings it.
  • Stubborn Fool — I wrote this one with both Johns and although I do very little on it (just some back-up vocals), I think it is one of the strongest songs lyrically and pop-rock-wise (not a word but it fit).
  • No More Mister Fun — I didn’t write any of this one. It is by John, the pianist, and Bob, the drummer. I am just BongoMon on this song.

(What is strange is that I don’t play sax on any of these songs. It just worked out that way. I will be blowing some horn on the next round of songs.) 

Peace (with pop songs),
Kevin

Saxophones on the Brain

In the course of 10 minutes yesterday, I ran across two mentions of the saxophone (my main axe) in both Newsweek and Time magazines that are worth mentioning. And the Muppets were on my mind, too.

The first was an obituary for Peggy Gilbert, who was one of the first female jazz saxophone players to make a true impact on the world. Gilbert, who died at the age of 102 (see what music can do for you?), shared the stage with such greats as Benny Goodman and Louis Prima, and she didn’t subscribe to the notion that men are better musicians and band leaders than women (and you shouldn’t either). The obit reminds us that Gilbert took on Downbeat magazine when it ran a commentary that seemed to detail how men are better than women. Thanks, Peggy, for being brave and creative!

The second mention was a bit stranger. The article on comedian Jim Carey and a new movie called The Number 23 features a striking picture of Carey, with tattoos and muscles, holding a saxophone like a weapon. I couldn’t find the reason why his character has the saxophone but it doesn’t look good (for him or his saxophone). Maybe the muse plays a supporting role.

Finally, I ran across this video that I just love from the Muppets that I just had to share because, frankly, we all need a good Muppet laugh once in a while:

[youtube]CgfZVNv6w2E[/youtube]
Peace (with pioneers, players and puppets),
Kevin

OnPoEvMo: The Rhino and Gazelle/Father and Son February 2007

This is another installment in my series of poems I am writing and podcasting every month under the banner of One Poem Per Month for a Year. I wrote it as I watched my oldest son (age 9) playing basketball the other day and was amazed at his athletic abilities and I was wondering where this passion for sports came from (music was my thing). And we had just visited the San Diego Zoo, so animals were on my mind.

The Rhino and Gazelle/ Father and Son

(February 2007)

Listen to the Poem

The gazelle inside of you came from somewhere but not from me.
I am more like a crash of rhinos with heads lowered, eyes narrowed, horns raised up in defiant defense.
I am more like the lumbering giant than the fleet footed creature that you are,
darting, moving, skirting the horizon with energy and freedom.
You spring from one side of the world to the other with your motors on full,
an open field with nobody else in motion,
time slowed down to a crawl,
and all of us just watching, watching, watching,
as you surprise your opponent with stealth and speed.
No one expected that of you.
Certainly not me.
To the rhino, the gazelle is just a flash of a rainbow caught from the corner of the eye
and coveted as a dream that has been released to the stars
as if it were but a balloon on a string on a windy day.
No, the rhino remains firmly centered here on this Earth with gravity pulling on the mind
with weight and worry draped like an anchor around the neck.
I could never run like you. Never.
I was always the bull — the muscle — the brawn —
the man in the middle who threw the block and freed up others so that they could gain the glory
and I would often wonder at why it was that I was built so different from all of them
but the gazelle never gazes upon the rhino except in times of need.
And now I know. Now, I know.
I was built to protect the gazelle from others who want to tear down the beauty of the run
and twist in the imperfections, twist it into something ugly and painful
— already it has begun, the self-doubting, the impossibilities, the sound of other voices taking hold on your tongue–
and so I lower my horn and crash into the crowd, a raging rhino,
determined to protect you at any cost from the slow and steady pull of gravity in the world.

Peace (without cages),
Kevin

Thelonius and Tech Matters

I was asked by a colleague from the National Writing Project to donate a short movie to a promotional video he is putting together for fellows at his site around the idea of a technology institute. Brett asked if I would create something that reflected upon last summer’s Tech Matters retreat in Chico, California (where I started this blog project) and so I couldn’t resist using my clay friend, Thelonius, and a dry erase board with stop-motion (plus a wide array of hats) in my movie. That’s what you get, Brett, for asking me to contribute. 🙂

Actually, it was nice to reflect upon that experience many months later and realize that more than the tools that I was exposed to, it is the network of new friends and colleagues that remain the strongest link of the week in Chico. I am still very close to a handful of Tech Matters people (Bonnie, David, Tonya, Maria, Mary, Joe, Troy, Karen, Paul A. — among others) and that is important to me.

Here it is (wow — look, I can close my eyes!):

[googlevideo]3974441185940754938&hl=en[/googlevideo]

Peace (in video),
Kevin

In the mood for drawing …

I just got back from California (San Diego) with my family (Legoland, San Diego Zoo, and SeaWorld were all highlights) and I was in the mood for something different, so I popped over to Artpad, where you can make your own drawing and let other people see the process of creation (warning: art has never been my strong suit). Apparently, you can also add to my painting, if you so desire.

Click on my picture to bring you to the artistic recess of my mind:

Peace (with paintbrushes),
Kevin

All the news not fit to print

I found my way to a site called Fodey that allows you to create an instant fake newspaper front page. Very fun. So I created this little project, which comes on the heels of a day where I spent most of my time asking the class to be quiet, listen and pay attention (to little avail).

PS — I don’t really want to a silent class.

Peace (in headlines),
Kevin

Inside the Inner World

Over at New York Magazine, writer Emily Nussbaum has written a lengthy look at why in the world young people would want to blog their lives out to the world. It’s an interesting examination of the rationale that some 20-year-olds are using when they write personal stories or post personal pictures. As an educator, the stories from her interview subjects also give me some perspective into where my sixth graders are going in the years ahead and how I can think about getting them to ask questions of themselves and others before they plunge into the Webbed world of information.

Nussbaum ends the article on this thought:

“Right now the big question for anyone of my generation seems to be, endlessly, “Why would anyone do that?” This is not a meaningful question for a 16-year-old. The benefits are obvious: The public life is fun. It’s creative. It’s where their friends are. It’s theater, but it’s also community: In this linked, logged world, you have a place to think out loud and be listened to, to meet strangers and go deeper with friends. And, yes, there are all sorts of crappy side effects: the passive-aggressive drama (“you know who you are!”), the shaming outbursts, the chill a person can feel in cyberspace on a particularly bad day. There are lousy side effects of most social changes (see feminism, democracy, the creation of the interstate highway system). But the real question is, as with any revolution, which side are you on?”

— http://nymag.com/news/features/27341/index6.html

Why do we always have to take sides?

Peace (with understanding),
Kevin

Digital Math Picture Books

I am preparing a workshop this week for the Pioneer Valley Reading Council and my topic is Digital Mathematical Picture Books, which were a great success with my students last year and are becoming a topic of a chapter for a book I am co-editing about how technology is changing the way we teach writing (although this year, the curriculum focus will be on science).

I prepared this little movie as an introduction to the workshop.

[googlevideo]-4118369182909920449&hl=en[/googlevideo]

Peace (with words and numbers),
Kevin