October 19, 2013

The Origin of Pieces...

If you're lucky, every once in a while, you get a glimpse at the inner workings of your mind. You find the telling source, or approximate origin of how you think... and why you do that thing you do. I recently had such a revelation in a place I've been to many times over many years. Even in the simplest, most abstract pieces, there is a source literally built in stone.

Belvoir Crusader Fortress -  Northern Israel, 1168 CE.

Jewelry:  Long lobe earring, Loop earring, Toggle necklace - silver, Line earring, Long bar necklace - silver.

May 26, 2013

Inspirations: Rickie Lee Jones

Rickie Lee Jones
I so clearly remember lying on my parent's bed glued to the '79 Grammy awards waiting for "best new artist". After months of "Chuck E's in Love" addiction, I was totally obsessed with the brazenly real, groundbreaking voice of nominee - Rickie Lee Jones.

I was watching a formative visual moment:
George Burns and Deborah Harry (Yes! BLONDIE) announced. After beating out The Blues Brothers, Dire Straits, Robin Williams (???), and The Knack, she made her way to the stage.... And then it got a bit weird.

As she swayed oddly and smiled eerily for an uncomfortably long several seconds, the sick underbelly of 70's cool crept in. It was the young addict, too high to fake it - the Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison brand of scary, which naturally fascinated and frightened the 13 year old me.

Luckily, she suddenly snapped into focus and gave a quick, frankly humorous thanks. Her raspy badass street voice made her long blond hair, black beret, tight cropped jeans, and little rust leather jacket even cooler. In that moment she was IT - hip, tough, sexy, quirky - the definition of cool - an artist. I was dying of groovy overload as she awkwardly ran off the stage.

Fast forward the years, I'm in the audience watching the seasoned, adult Rickie. The hard knocks diva who drew the map for the Fiona Apple's and Regina Specktor's now speaks of precious time passing. Each song an intricate novel, was punctuated by her singularly innovative, unforgettable voice.

After a long spellbinding performance, she closed with a cover more visceral and damning than the original "Sympathy for the Devil". Without changing a word she chillingly redefined it.

And then, with all the grace and beauty of an angel, she exited the room.

March 23, 2013

What happens when you survive? You get Life.

Adam J. Salsberg in 18=Chai=Life
Adam Salsberg, a Chicago sound engineer and musician, found MarLa studio when recovering from a serious hit and run bike accident.  If he wasn't wearing a helmet, well.... HIS HELMET SAVED HIM.

To express their relief and joy, Adam's parents wanted to get him something personal and life affirming. They wanted it to be spiritual, but cool - something a guy like Adam would wear. Their internet search brought them to my 18=chai=life. Honored to be a teeny part of his journey back to a big, music filled life, I recently caught up with Adam. THIS (!!!) is what he's doing:

I've been busy at the studio, things are going really well for me there. I recently started teaching a recording group for teenagers twice a week with a youth program that is held in the same building as the studio. I'm currently working on recording a mixtape with a rapper named Duggie, and got to produce one of the beats for it as well. I've also been recording some tracks with Slugshot Malone. Other rappers I've recorded include Dreezy, Big IL and Sly Polaroid. I've had the pleasure to work with Malik Yusef on several occasions. Malik is a 5 time Grammy winning songwriter and poet, probably best known for his work with Kanye West. Also recently, I've done commercials for Providence St. Mel, a private school in Chicago.

At my home studio (called Space Jam) my favorite things I've recorded are Oshwa, which is a really great band, as well as solo artist Fleeting Image. Both of these were recorded and mixed by my friend Seth Engel and I together. Seth and I also recorded and mixed a compilation of Chicago solo artists, an idea we came up with ourselves. It can be obtained free at redbeardrecords.bandcamp.com.

My band, Cage Match has one album out that is free to download at cagematchmusic.bandcamp.com, and have new material coming out in the near future. Our music is unexpectedly peaceful, contrary to the name. I have also composed and recorded music for several of my brother's animations, which can be seen at www.pokegravy.com.

Now that's a life.

Adam in the studio