Showing posts with label Santa Cruz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Santa Cruz. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Best Album of 2011 - Denney Joints' Bedtime - A Midnite Snack Any Time of Day

"I wanted to go the sausage fest* but instead, I was in Watsonville, where nothing happens." Denney Joints.

Living in Santa Cruz, California has afforded me numerous opportunities to see some of the world's most influential** performers. Nevertheless, the local talent from this quaint beach community is among the best I've experienced, anywhere. Most notably, a sort of mad musical scientist of a young man who calls himself Denney Joints and his band, Midnite Snack. I've been fortunate to see Denney play live a handful of times at various venues around Santa Cruz, and the shows have always been a real treat.

Denney Joints, a 4.0 art student at San Francisco State University, is no stranger to the Bay Area music scene. He became locally infamous with an early band called "Happy Meal" and his latter-band, Midnite Snack, has enjoyed positive press and reviews throughout the Bay Area.

A few months ago, Denney Joints released his long-awaited "Bedtime" CD. I love Bedtime, and have listened to it too many times to number. My own words can't adequately describe the simple beauty and angsty edginess of this thoughtful recording, so I talked to Denney and others to gain a better understanding of Mr. Joints, and his Best Album of 2011, Bedtime.

"All of bedtime is biographical," Denney told me. "I picked up my guitar in the back room at work where I wrote all of these songs and drank quarts of Hi-Life and smoked dope every day," he joked.

One of the major themes throughout Bedtime seems to be escapism, and Denney weaves an emotional tale of partying with friends in Santa Cruz, idealistic abandonment of responsibility, and whimsically wishful fit-in fantasies. The first track, "Cookin" is about the anticipation of a party at Denney's house, to which he had invited a girl from the local grocery store. "She never came to the party," lamented Denney. However, while working out the song in the back room at work, he came up with the two chords, FM7 and G13, which he described to me as, "a lazier-than-punk take on chords that require no effort to play and sound wonderful." Denney Joints' unmistakable signature sound.

Denney seems to possess a natural, encyclopedic knowledge of music, and is comfortable navigating through stylistic changes. He employs numerous subtle musical influences that keep the music entertaining and interesting. But Denney has no desire to become a commercial success, and claims to despise commercial music. "I love simple music," explained Denney, "but commercial music skips the feeling and goes straight for spectacle." Denney Joints' Bedtime is simple, yet thoughtful and deliberate, and according to music critic, Joey McNeill, "exhibits a kind of dreamlike quality, and a kind of farcical poke at pop music." Denney's distance from commercialism has allowed him to maintain a pure vein of creativity with the attitude that, "if people feel it, great, but if they don’t, I will not change anything to make them bite the hook."

The lyrics on Bedtime are witty and are occasionally presented in a code language that Denney calls Scumbag Select, a clever language in which the pronunciation of words are phonetically skewed based on a set of complicated letter-swapping rules that he has obviously mastered and employs with great skill. Half the fun of Bedtime is dissecting the lyrics.

Nick Overhauser,*** lent his expertise to the Bedtime project by playing on and recording the album. Nick told me that, in his opinion, "Bedtime is an ode to an angry young weirdo who sees little value in the ways of the modern world." Gazing out the window from behind the counter at Denney's workplace and, "seeing people in groups getting along and looking quite ordinary." Denney Joints' observations have become something wonderfully creative, entertaining and satisfying. Joey McNeill related that he "hadn't thought about these things for a long time," and went on to say that, "Denney has found common experiences and truths in the boredom and frustrations that we all share in our youth." Denney says that Bedtime is "emotionally autobiographical," meaning that "the lyrics themselves don't address actual events directly." This gives Bedtime a universal, cross-generational quality and appeal. Even my mom would like it.

All of the tracks on the album are noteworthy, and if life was fair, all of them would be known by everyone. I won't attempt to pin any particular style or genre on the music of Bedtime other than to say that it is eclectic, and uniquely Denney Joints. There is one particular track on the album that deserves special attention and can only be described as "timeless". The Creek Song is jovial, happy harmony and blissful balance. A perfect late summer day spent with the best of friends whilst nestled in the arms of a loving Mother Nature. The Creek Song is a masterpiece, and will forever be one of my favorites.

Denney Joints' Bedtime was mastered at Indigital Studios in Santa Cruz, CA by Mason Rothschild, who**** described Denney as, "an amazing jewel of a mad genius," and went on to say that when Denney gave him the original recordings, they were "wrapped in notes and emotional requests about each song." Although I wonder sometimes if Bedtime is comedic, it is obvious that Denney is serious about his music, and, like Beefheart and Zappa, has eccentric demands, from everyone who contributes to his projects. "I knew that I was up against something completely different," recalls Nick Overhauser who described the first stretch of recording Bedtime as "convoluted and wacky", but by the time the album had been completed, Nick considered it to be one of his favorite projects.

I asked Denney about his selection of personnel for Bedtime, and his on-stage band, Midnite Snack. He told me that generally, people bore him with their "lack of focus and musical accomplishment" but praised his own band, saying that they all "exceed the bar" and that their playing is "precise." Midnite Snack is a fluid membership of friends***** who give their all to Denney's live performances that take me back to the newness I experienced at some late-seventies, and early-eighties punk shows. Denney isn't punk, but he possesses some of the same qualities and attitudes. Bedtime is smart, clever and involved, yet maintains a cohesive structure. Nick Overhauser told me, the most impressive thing about Denney's conceptual work to him, is that, "every album follows a theme with repeated lyrical ideas and melodies... without being too obvious or on the nose." Joey McNeill observed that Denney Joints "has taken frustration and made it enlightening" and called Bedtime "a kind of commentary about how carefully and methodically the introvert moves his way out into the public like a reluctant, escaped hamster who, oblivious to his boundaries, nibbles away at the crackers in our cupboard."

Listening to Bedtime is like eating crackers, you just can't quit. BEWARE! Denney Joints' catchy songs get stuck on mental repeat and run through the mind continuously. I usually just give in and play the damn CD to get it out of my head. I've discovered that Bedtime is a Midnite Snack that can be enjoyed any time of day or night, and Rhetro Zenberg is happy to announce Denney Joints' Bedtime as the Best Album of 2011.

Have a Nice Snack!

Click here to enjoy Denney Joints' Sausage Fest commercial from KPIG Radio, Santa Cruz

**There are far too many to name them all, but a sampling of my most memorable performances would certainly include: Laurie Anderson, Adrian Belew Power Trio, King Crimson, Ravi Shankar, the Residents...

***In addition to being a recording expert, Nick Overhauser played drums on Bedtime and has played for Sheena, Mountain Animal Hospital, Ship of the Sierras, Midnite Snack, and is currently on tour with Birdhand.

****Audio engineer Mason Rothschild, has played in Midnite Snack and is currently touring with the band, Birdhand.

*****To stay fresh, Midnite Snack changes personnel every Venusian cycle. There have been at least eight members of Midnite Snack so far, including two bassists named Mason, (Rosenberg and Rothschild), and three members of the popular indie band, the Vox Jaguars, (Sam Copperman, Trevor Hope and Mason Rosenberg), but Denney says he has no plans for a Vox Jaguars cover, and now that Denney has moved to Oakland, he may resurrect Midnite Snack there, with fresh faces.

Denney Joints - The Coolest Cat On The Couch

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sleepy Sun in 3D

On Friday night, one of my favorite Santa Cruz bands, Sleepy Sun, came to play at the Urban lounge in Salt Lake City.
As I drove to the city, the sleepy sunset over the Great Salt Lake
was so beautiful that I pulled over to take this photo on Interstate 80.
Lots of illuminated mannequin arms were on hand.
Matt takes a moment to smile for the 3D camera.
Notice the arm reaching to steal the Sleepy Sun set list.
Sleepy Sun put on an amazing show, and everyone was pleased with their outstanding performance of precise musical psychedelia.

I was first introduced to Sleepy Sun at the Loves In Heat Music Festival in Santa Cruz, CA back in 2007, and haven't seen them play since. I hope that I don't have to wait another five years to see them again.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

11-1-11 Post

It has been so wonderful to be here in Santa Cruz after being away for nearly four months. Today, I've been thinking about all the things we won't see in Tooele... like whales, dolphins, sharks, lighthouses, bikinis, and etc... Looking forward to being home, though. I can't wait to have a home cooked meal. Meanwhile, here are a couple of 3d photos of the King Crimson* stage at the Regency in San Francisco on October 18, 2011.

*The Stick Men, Adrian Belew Power Trio, then a combined trio/double trio performance of a slough of King Crimson classics.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

BIRDHAND Live in Utah

Last week, I had the opportunity to hang out with the band, Birdhand, for a couple of days as they make their way across the country to tour with Bad Brains on the east coast of the US.

They finished up their recording set in LA at about 3:00 AM, then hit the road to Utah for a grueling eleven hour drive through the darkness.

After a four hour sleep in the tents that I set up in the back yard, the boys woke up to dinner and fun with smoke balls and sparklers... and 3D photography.

Before long, twas time to head to the big city, and prepare for their performance at the Bar DeluXe, who, unfortunately for the folks in Salt Lake City, did nothing to promote Birdhand, therefore, Utahn's missed out on a great show by one of California's best bands.

On Birdhand's first show of their post-studio, cross-country tour, a handful of lucky people caught the show, and were treated to the first live performance of three new songs.

Video to follow!!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Farewell to Santa Cruz and Welcome to Psychotropia

Wow, I'm a Tooelian now... again.

A week has passed since we moved away from our little city on the bay. I already miss Santa Cruz SO much. Not just the obvious stuff either. Things like recycling, and bicycling are alien to this twilight zone town. A high school age kid actually made fun of us for riding bikes a couple of evenings ago. Apparently no one rides bikes in Tooele, and as I think about it... I haven't seen anyone else riding bikes here. Lots of big ol' trucks, and muscle cars though. Good thing gas is cheap. Welcome to the world behind the zion curtain.

Last Saturday and again today, we drove to the farmers market in Salt Lake to get some fresh produce. We also stopped at the Food Whole and stocked up for the week. It was reassuring to see that there's real food and some normal people out there. I even saw humans riding bikes.
Here are a few yummy treats we obtained at the farmers market in Salt Lake last week. We've been eating well all week, and have decided to swear off eating out in Tooele because all of the restaurants are substandard according to my requirements.
The sunsets here are unmatched anywhere I've been. I have to keep looking up at the beautiful sky, and majestic mountains that surround Tooele, otherwise, I'd probably go crazy watching the excesses of lawns growing, gas guzzling, and mega super Big Gulp slurping that is going on all around me.
Have a nice sunset

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Woodies on the Wharf 2011 in 3D

Today I attended the annual Woodies on the Wharf in Santa Cruz, and took a handful of 3D photos. Here are three of them.

Hundreds of woodies crowd the famous Santa Cruz Wharf under sunny skies.
A boat dangles from the wharf, ready for deployment.
Not too far distant, the Santa Cruz Harbor accommodates a variety of boats.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Solstice Schmalstice

Mighty Mo and I have a wonderfully eclectic* group of friends, and last night, we had the opportunity to bid farewell to 25 of them. Strange, I probably won't see many of them ever again. Those friends that were able to attend were treated to a trendy Utah themed going away party that featured stereotypical food favorites ranging from funeral potatoes to green jello. There was also a salt flats tasting bar, and authentic orange slush... just add 7Up. Unfortunately, some of our friends were unable to make it to our mid-week extravaganza, but I hope to see them sometime over my last two, (and very busy), weeks in Santa Cruz.

Leaving (too) soon

I realize that after our soon approaching long-term departure to Utah, I'm going to miss seeing the seductively beautiful Monterey Bay... a regular and everyday scene for me. The Great Salt Lake has beautiful sunsets, but will never replace the magnificence of this region. In an effort to deal with my separation issues, I purchased a wonderful, (and very large), ocean scene painting by my favorite artist, and close friend, Richard Bennett.

Pictured above is the southeast corner of our living room in Santa Cruz, where my new painting, South Coast, by Richard Bennett, temporally resides. Also pictured in the picture is my authentic Tom DeLong Fender Stratocaster, Dean 12 string electric guitar, a skim board, and three Talking Heads records in frames. I can't wait to see how the new painting looks in my home in Tooele, but I'm in no hurry to leave either.

Since I may never see many of our friends again, I thought it would be a good idea to get photos of the attendees to our Utah themed party, so after signing in, each guest was photographed in front of the new painting.
Kirsten Atemecia - Multi Talented quadruple threat who recently graduated from high school with a straight A report card. Smart, beautiful, talented with a great sense of humor... she's got the world by the tail.
Greg - One of the best drummers I've had the pleasure to watch perform. Greg has drummed for numerous bands, including A Quantum Visionary, and these days plays for Isolation Factor, who it is rumored will be releasing a new CD soon.
Mason - Another local rock star, Mason is a founding member of the Vox Jaguars, and AQV. He's performed with, and contributed to ensembles too numerous to mention, and recently had the opportunity to perform with the Santa Cruz County Symphony who performed Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Ode for Joy. One of my favorite pieces of all time.
Skippy - If you look up Frisbee in the dictionary, Skippy's picture should be there next to the definition. A master of disc golf and Freestyle pioneer, he can do things with a plastic disc that astonishes the masses.
Oliver aka Kryph aka Tree - Dubstep officianado racking up the hits, and stretching the genre beyond traditional limitations, took time out to drop in and hang out for a couple of hours.
Shawna, Erin and Ryan - Whether you are a pet, or a human being in need of emergency care... you're in good hands with these gals, and Ryan, the million dollar baby, knows it.
Aaron - The master of presentation of everything from metallurgy to hollandaise is beloved by all who know him. Together, Aaron and I have attended dozens of Bay Area performances ranging from Adrian Belew to the Vox Jaguars and played numerous rounds of disc golf at the De Laveaga, Black Mouse and Aptos courses. He's going to miss me.
Emily - Even though it was her nineteenth birthday, she stopped by to say goodbye.
Kallista, Olin and June - I've known Olin for many years and was so happy to meet his new little family. It seems like Olin and I have been everywhere in this region; surveying areas in the mountains to beach properties, in addition to playing lots of rounds of disc golf.
Richard - The artist himself graced us with his presence. In addition to being a master of every artistic discipline,
Dicky B speaks numerous languages and dialects and has scoured the globe in search of artistic inspiration. He's been a wonderful friend and inspiring associate. I'm going to miss Dicky B's stories, and endearing demeanor.
Ann - She's seen it all and done it all. Everything from being a military pilot, land surveyor, theater reviewer and world traveler to hanging out with Elvis. Also a mother, she always raves about her two sons. She is a fascinating woman and we love the amazing stories of her adventurous life.
Reid - Snappy dresser, and performance specialist. He not only attended the party, but came to our yard sale too.
Kevin, Graham and Karissa - Pulling strings behind the scenes, Kevin and Graham are PR wizards extrordinaire and great urban homesteaders and home brewers. Karissa a new friend we met at the party.
Seana - Another amazing PR professional, who brought along a little bump and a big announcement to the party. : )
Katie - Another stellar public relations pro who was Mighty Mo's right hand account manager for years.
Cassie - Another birthday girl. Despite the fact that it was her 21st birthday, Cassie stopped by for the party.
Eileen - Brilliant artist, and winner of Catalyst's best Halloween costume contest. She was Mona Lisa, and even had her own frame. Eileen was one of the first people we met when we moved to Happy Valley in Santa Cruz all those years ago, and she's been a great friend to the entire family.
Claire - A former PR pro who escaped with her soul intact. Now pursuing environmental work, Claire has actually walked on the Great Salt Lake.
Ronaldo Antonio - Former NASA astronaut who has spacewalked more times than Michael Jackson has moon-walked (in 2011). A sparkling personality, and one of the funniest if not the funniest persons I know. He's one of the few people who actually understands my twisted comique.
Alexandra - Believe it or not, another PR industry pro, Sheesh! How many PR people are out there anyway? She speaks numerous languages fluently, including Russian, German and English. A Romanian native, she lives here in Santa Cruz with her family.

* Attendees included artists, musicians, propagandists, pre-borns, a baby, a toddler, teens, twenty somethings, thirty somethings, forty somethings, fifty somethings, sixty somethings, seventy somethings, eighty somethings, vegans, vegetarians, veterinarians, a nurse, a pilot, a teacher, an astronaut, professional athletes, rock stars, Jews, Mormons, Wiccans, and etc. I had planned to make the party as eclectic as possible, and for the most part, that goal was accomplished, but unfortunately, none of my illegal alien friends showed up. Camera shy, I guess.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Harpie ThanXgiving

Today is Thanksgiving, and we woke up to clear blue skies and bright sunlight sparkling on frosted automobile windshields. Yes, it does get cold in Santa Cruz occasionally... but nothing like Madison, Wisconsin does.

I feel like I should pay some attention to this blogue. I intend to have at least four posts per month, a number that should be easily attainable, but since my father passed away last month, I just haven't had the spark when it comes to writing. I remember a similar thing happening to me when my mother passed away last Christmas. At that time, I cut back on my posts from eight per month to only four. I guess I feel like I'm listening more and saying less right now. I still have plenty to say, but not today. Instead, here a couple of pertinent videos.

Happy ThanXgiving
I think I'll watch Gentlemen Broncos today and make Thanksgiving Harpie.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Halloween in 3D

Tis the season for pseudo spookery and hella-hobgobblining, therefore to celebrate, here are two new thematically-specific stereoscopic images for you to enjoy.

These giant gargoyles stand sentinel to the newly opened Haunted Castle at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. "That wasn't scary enough, was it, Bobby?"

This basket of Halloween "paraphernalia" came out of a storage box marked, "Halloween oddities."

Hwahhahhhahha! Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Got Pie?

Boy, I sure do...

I took this photo of Mighty Mo and Karen Carpenter last summer.