Born in Minneapolis, Dobby Gibson is the author of three collections of poetry: Polar, Skirmish, and now It Becomes You. Graywolf Press writes this of his work:
Meditative, lyrical, aphoristic, and always served with wry wit, the poems in Dobby Gibson's It Becomes You explore the divergent conditions by which we're perpetually defined--the daily weather, the fluctuations of the Dow, the growth of a cancer cell, the politics of the day. What surrounds us becomes us, Gibson suggests, in a book that will ultimately become you.
Gibson will be celebrating the publication of his third collection tonight at Open Book in Minneapolis at 7pm. Here's a sampling:
On the 21 bus this morning,
I noticed the Natural Braid & Beauty Supply
store on Lake Street
had a handmade sign in its front window
advertising Front Lace Wigs and Fittings by Relyndis.
I love Relyndis for daring to believe
that beauty can be supplied,
for believing in everything the used car dealers
farther down Lake have given up on,
beginning with the silver balloons and streamers
that disappeared once the economy went south.
Above the beauty supply store
there's a billboard for the Washburn-McCreary Funeral Home
advertising Quality and Value Cremation Services,
three white and white-haired men
in matching gold ties as shiny as the handles
of the three caskets I've lifted in my life.
There's Hymie's Records, where I found the Buck Owens LP
I'm unashamed to admit
I love listening to over and over
at least partly because it smells of an oddly comforting
mildew from a stranger's basement.
I was born on this street, about a mile from here,
and can still take it almost all the way to the house
where my parents live,
just beyond Minnehaha Creek,
my beautiful dad in his beautiful basement
listening to the TV at a volume that would scare a soldier.
On Lake Street, there's the station
where I catch the downtown train
to use these words I love so much
for purposes I occasionally don't.
I never thought I'd live here.
The other day, when I drove Tony down Lake Street
and pointed to the hospital where I was born,
he said, "Your life is one of shocking continuity,"
and I wondered whether I was being given
a compliment or a warning.
I wonder if it was 24 degrees
on the day I was born, as it is today,
and if the light sank like it is now,
the traffic vanishing after dinner.
I wonder if, in another 40 years,
my wife and I, and my daughter, and Relyndis,
and a half million other people like us
will still flush our toilets
into the river one last time before bed
as a new set of old used cars sleeps unsold on Lake Street,
and whether there will be another version
of the man with a limp
to shuffle out after the snow falls
to gently brush them off.
- Dobby Gibson. "Beauty Supply," from It Becomes You.
Copyright © 2013 by Dobby Gibson.
Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
10:56AM Update: Colin Kloecker at Works Progress sent me this recent video profile of Dobby Gibson, which includes him reading 'Beauty Supply' while riding the 21A. Enjoy!(0 Comments)
Starting January 19, MPR News will sound a bit different on the weekends, as familiar shows are moved around, and new shows enter the schedule.
If you're near a radio on Saturday evenings, you'll be treated to three programs with a particular focus on arts and culture, starting at 8pm. They are:
Wits brings world-class comedians, actors and musicians to the stage of St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater. Hosted by public radio veteran John Moe, Wits mixes improv, sketch comedy, conversation and music. Past guests include Chuck Klosterman, Neil Gaiman, Patton Oswalt, Sandra Bernhard and Roseanne Cash, among others.
The Peabody Award-winning Studio 360 is public radio's guide to what's happening in pop culture and the arts. Host Kurt Andersen interviews the people who are creating and shaping our culture. Formerly the show aired on MPR News Sundays at 6am.
The Strand looks at the arts from a British point of view, featuring discussions, reviews, big-name interviews and reports, as well as live studio performances and yes, even Hollywood gossip.
Posted at 12:29 PM on January 11, 2013
by David Cazares
Lulu's Playground photo courtesy of Adam Meckler
It's mail time, and in my inbox is a new tune from Lulu's Playground, the innovative Twin Cities quartet that features guitarist Evan Montgomery, cellist Cory Grossman, accordionist Steven Hobert and trumpeter Adam Meckler.
When the group debuts its new CD, "Shadow Voices," tonight and Saturday at St. Paul's Artists Quarter, the performance should make for an intriguing jazz show.
I asked Meckler to explain the group and its approach. Here he is, in his own words:
How did this project come about?
Well, there are two sides to this story. Cory and I met at one of my earliest shows at the Dakota [where] I was playing with my quintet, and it had been since undergrad that we had seen each other. I knew he played the cello and immediately leaned over before the first tune and said "Dude, let's get together soon and do something weird."
Meanwhile Evan and Cory were already talking about getting together and playing some. It just all kind of came together on its own. I had already written some music in my undergrad that was written for a unique kind of instrumentation, so when Lulu's happened, it all fit very nicely. The other dudes had tunes and ideas for music and bam, we had enough to fill a couple sets pretty quick. By no means in this my band any more than it is Evan's, Cory's, or Steven's. It's always been a totally collective effort.
How would you describe the group's approach and sound?
In Lulu's, anything goes. If one of us hears some music we think might fit the band, we write it, or transcribe it and then arrange it for our instrumentation. For me, it's very obvious when I hear something that would be great in this band precisely because the instrumentation and skill-sets of each player are so unique. I mean, in what other band can you hear a cellist playing bass as good as any jazz player?
Often times the instrumentation dictates the sound of the band as well. For instance, because we have an accordion, we tend to hang out in that tango/waltz world a little, almost like a French Café sound with a little more of a jazz edge when it comes to harmony and improvisation. Of course, we don't just play that kind of music. We've done everything from playing old spirituals to singing four-part harmony to doing an entire show of the music of Thelonious Monk and everything in between. It's a pretty wild ride, musically speaking.
And the tunes on the CD?
We've been playing together for a while now. Coming up on four years, I think. So the tunes we picked were ones we've been dreaming about recording and just never got the chance. When our original accordion player moved to Boston, it took us a while to find the right guy, but when we did, we knew it was only a matter of time before we hit the studio.
How did such a unique combination of players come together and what do each of you bring to the project?
For me, that all started with the cello. I've always loved the cello and when Cory seemed to be in to the idea, it just kind of flowed from there. Cory's ability to also play the bass along with his lifetime of studying classical music made him the perfect fit for our collective vision. At one moment you'll hear Cory bowing sweet melodies, and the other you'll hear him playing a great bass line groove plucking the strings like an upright bass player would in any jazz group.
Accordion was a very natural decision as well, since it fits so well in to the sound of the band. Steven will often play the role of another horn player, but he can also be somewhat of a "one man band" playing chords in his left hand and melodies in his right. Steven is also a great pianist and plays piano in my big band. He's a clarinet player, too. We're still waiting to add those skills to the band's sound.
I use a lot of mutes and really change my sound on the trumpet a lot throughout the course of a show. The trumpet can be over-powering, so I try to change my sound to fit each different style we play. You might hear me growling and in plunger on one tune, open and pretty on another, or in mute. I also occasionally play the melodica in the band, the likes of which you can hear on the track "Collide" on the new album.
Evan and I had already been playing together for years. The original four members all went to Lawrence University together (Steven Hobert replaced Greg Woodsbie on accordion), hence the name LULU's Playground. So it made sense to have Evan and his beautiful guitar playing in the band. Evan plays many different roles. He can be the bass player, the chordal player, or another horn player, and with his effects pedals, he can conjure up just about anything.
I'm in a lot of bands. That's no secret. The difference between Lulu's Playground and the others is that this band has always been about getting together and having fun. We book shows when we feel like playing shows. We write music when we feel like writing music. It's just always been so much fun to make music in this setting that it never really got old or boring.(0 Comments)
Posted at 3:25 PM on January 11, 2013
by David Cazares
The list of great jazz gigs in the Twin Cities this weekend keeps growing.
On Saturday, Chris Bates' Red Five, the band led by the popular bassist, is booked for a show at Jazz at Studio Z.
The band also features saxophonists Chris Thomson and Brandon Wozniak, trumpeter Zack Lozier and the composer's brother, JT Bates, on drums. They'll be playing music from "New Hope," the bassist's exceptional recording from last year.
They can really swing.
Also set for Saturday is a show by saxophonist Nathan Hanson, percussionist Marc Anderson, bassist Brian Roessler and drummer Davu Seru.
They'll take the stage at the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar in St. Paul in a show Seru promises will be "groove-based jazz improvisation."
Just do it.