Iona Fyfe with Countercurrent in Saturday 10, 2022 Matinee at Coffee Gallery Backstage

A while back I started to learn some Welsh and along the way, my linguistic leanings led me across the paths of Aran Jones and then Dr. Michael Dempster.

Later, to expand beyond the mountain music of my Appalachian youth, I started searching for traditional Celtic influenced music, I quickly ran into the name Iona Fyfe via some of Dempster’s network. I added her to various music lists and gave a quick Twitter follow. I absorbed some of her music  over several months until I noticed that she had a new single dropping on September 3rd. That’s when I saw through her Twitter account that she was doing a tour through part of the U.S. 

I figured, surely she’ll play L.A. at some point and it would definitely be worth the trip over to the city.  I started searching only to discover that she’d be playing five minutes from my house! Double-Win!! I called immediately and made reservations for the whole family.

For those new to her and her music, Iona is an Aberdeenshire folksinger/songwriter rooted in the musical traditions of the North East of Scotland. In 2021, she became the first singer to win the Musician of the Year at the MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards. She’s incredibly knowledgeable about the folk tradition in both Scotland as well as in the United States. Her music crosses folk, traditional Scottish music, country and bluegrass, with some pop and rock thrown in (most of it translated into Scots, of course.)

Set list

Doors opened at 1:30 PM. Show started at 2:00 PM and finished at about 4:15 PM.

1. Scotland Yet (single, 2021)
2. Take Me Out Drinking (from Away from My Window)
3. The Wild Geese
4. Lady Finella
– written on 2021-01-06; released on 2022-09-03
5. Love Story (Scots translation of Taylor Swift song)
6. Kenmure
– Inspired by Woody Guthrie and Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)
7. Banks of Inverurie (from Away from My Window)
– Craig Duncan Collection; about a girl walking by the river, a man makes a pass at her and it takes 6 verses to get to “no”
8. **Poor Ditching Boy**
– Richard Thompson (Fairport Convention) Sunset Song was the original, but this version has been translated (more appropriately) in Scots
9. Bonnie Lass of Fyvie
– Cecil Sharp / Doric Text; Versions by Dylan (changed city name), Gratful Dead, Joan Baez, and Simon and Garfunkle

(intermission)

10. Guise of Tough (from Away from My Window)
– Doric
11. The Northern Lights (of Old Aberdeen) by Mary Webb
– Webb apparently never visited Aberdeen
12. The Waters Meet
– written by Iona Fyfe
13. The Ship Song (Scots version)
– cover via Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
14. Dark Turn of Mind (from Dark Turn of Mind)
– via Gillian Welch; Fyfe’s first song in English and it got big play only in English and not in Scots, so she decide only to do Scots thereafter;
my comment: Eat it Patsy Kline!
15. Swing and Turn (from Dark Turn of Mind)
– via Jean Ritchie
– Kentucky based country song
16. **Hametoun
– cover of Sarah Jarosz’ Hometown
17. **Freedom Come All Ye**
cover via Hamish Henderson

(encore)

18. **Tak’ a Dram Afore Ye Go** (Scots)

Review

I don’t think Queen Elizabeth II had been dead for a full day, so I was quite taken that Fyfe chose to open her performance with Scotland Yet. The only way it may have been better was if we’d had a few drams to toast with while listening.

Sadly while Fyfe had intended to play as a trio on the tour with Alex Sturbaum and Brian Lindsay, the two members of Countercurrent, Bryan had come down with COVID-19 and thus had to miss this particular show. Alex did a spectacular job on acoustic guitar and bouzouki, but I definitely missed what I suspect would have been some excellent fiddle that would have helped round out the trio.

Despite this perceived handicap, the show was truly spectacular. I’ve heard most of Fyfe’s recordings and I have to say that as great as they are, she’s even more transcendent in person. She reminds me of a young Loreena McKennitt or Tori Amos.

I realized I don’t even own a CD player anymore, but to support Iona’s music and her tour, I purchased three of her albums on CD. Hopefully it will help in offsetting the abysmally low returns on streaming music platforms.

Sonia warns Fyfe to watch out for the “Torries” in Modesto which probably isn’t as progressive as a more “granola” Altadena crowd.

Iona Fyfe September 2022 US Tour Dates

If you haven’t seen Iona Fyfe in person yet, it’s definitely a fantastic experience. She’s got a long list of tour dates, primarily on the US West Coast through September.

Tour poster featuring Iona Fyfe in a black top and checked black and white pants sitting on a stool. A large list of dates and venues appears next to her which can be found at https://ionafyfe.com/tour/

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

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Hall & Oates Concert October 2021 featuring Squeeze at the Hollywood Bowl

Hall & Oates Concert October 2021 featuring Squeeze at the Hollywood Bowl

Background and the Pandemic

I originally bought tickets for this show at the Hollywood Bowl on January 25, 2020, but the pandemic obviously delayed the original show date of May 29th. In a fit of optimism on July 16, 2020, the show was rescheduled for October 1, 2021. I really didn’t expect the show to stick. It was my second major crowd outing since the start of the pandemic.

I drove to the Pasadena park and ride location which had just closed because the last bus had just left. They indicated the Zoo location was still open and would have buses until 7pm. So we drove to the LA Zoo bus stop and parked and rode from there. Doing this, even with crowds well masked, was certainly a lot less taxing than sitting in crazy traffic or worrying about parking. The two way fee was a much lower $6 whereas I expected it to be $12 per person.

We got to our seats a bit after the opening act started because of the COVID-19 check-in lines. The lines were miserably managed and social convention went out the window for people cutting in line and generally shifting around.

While vaccination cards or negative tests were required for entrance, they weren’t well organized about it. It would have been all-too-easy to sneak around the COVID check and get directly into the ticket/bag check area which was much more closely guarded and well executed.

Once past the checkpoint not many people were wearing masks. There was approximately 60% masking in public areas outside the Bowl itself, but once seated with a nearly capacity crowd at a sold out show, there was only about 20% masking. I kept a mask on the entire night. Knowing that this would be the case we didn’t take the traditional Hollywood Bowl picnic basket or food.

The weather for the evening was about as lovely as one could have hoped. Not to hot and not too cold which is notable when October evenings can be uncomfortably warm with temperatures in the high 80s to mid 90s.

Opening act: Squeeze

Purple lights illuminate the bandshell with the band name Squeeze projected behind the band

I think I enjoyed the opening act most this evening. They played a few of their hit songs certainly, but I enjoyed the more experimental late 70’s material they played that fell into the vein of Pink Floyd and The Alan Parsons Project as part of the New Wave movement. It was very much the sound of the late 70’s and they recreated it wonderfully in a way that took me back to that space and time. While there were some nice flourishes and musical improvisation sprinkled in, it was closer to their studio/album work in sound and flavor, particularly in comparison to Hall & Oates. Their material generally matched the mood of Hall & Oates’ She’s Gone.

I almost feel like this performance wasn’t as flashy as it may have been in the day. It would be quite something to see them in a more intimate setting like the Troubadour.

The day was one of the band member’s birthdays, so the entire crowd sang happy birthday to close out the performance.

There were a number of women in their 50s standing up and singing and dancing to every number which was interesting to see.

Setlist

I could only recall Mussels, Cool for Cats, Tempted, Annie, Black Coffee, and Happy Birthday from the top of my head as I didn’t keep a written setlist like I did for Hall and Oates. The list below is courtesy of setlist.fm, but all the big pieces appeared in the order that I remember.

  1. Take Me I’m Yours
  2. Up the Junction
  3. Hourglass
  4. Is That Love
  5. Departure Lounge
  6. Slap and Tickle
  7. Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)
  8. Please Be Upstanding
  9. Cool for Cats
  10. Tempted
  11. Annie Get Your Gun
  12. If I Didn’t Love You
  13. Black Coffee in Bed
  14. Happy Birthday to You (Mildred J. Hill & Patty Hill song)
    (Sung to bassist Owen Biddle; each band member took a solo spot)

Main Act: Hall and Oates

Starting at 8:50 PM and finishing out at about 10:30 PM

Setlist

  1. Maneater
  2. Out of Touch
  3. Method of Modern Love
  4. Say it Isn’t So
  5. You’ve Lost that Loving Feeling
  6. She’s Gone (High on Consolation)
  7. Sarah Smile
  8. Is it a Star (according to setlist.fm, I didn’t catch the title at the time)
  9. Back Together Again 
  10. I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)
    —- Encore —
  11. Rich Girl
  12. Your Kiss is on My List (with a slick transition to)
  13. Private Eyes (10:10 PM)
    —- Band introductions —- 
  14. You Make my Dreams Come True (10:20 PM start)

Band

  • Shane Theriot (Guitar)
  • Eliot Lewis (keyboards)
  • Klyde Jones (Bass)
  • Brian Dunne (drums)
  • Porter Carroll Jr. (Percussion)
  • Charles “Charlie” DeChant (Saxophone)

Brief review

The concert was generally solidly produced. The opening was electric and the crowd gave them a lot of early energy in a nearly packed Bowl. Unfortunately the energy waned within a song and a half. Daryl Hall took about three songs to really warm up his voice. Prior to that I was worried about what I was in for. For someone in his mid-70’s it was a solid performance, but he’s definitely not got the energy of the early 80’s. Late in the program he moved to keyboards and did alright for his age, but there were some obvious rough spots in his solo play.

Given their spot in the Yacht Rock pantheon of highly produced music, I expected to hear more of the polish of their 80’s work, but there was a lot more Jazz and R&B influence on their performance. This was probably great for the Hollywood Bowl regulars where there’s often quite a bit of Jazz programmed, but it just wasn’t the 70s experimental material or the Rock/Pop I was either hoping for or expecting.

Hall’s patter was a bit stilted for me. The quote of the night came between Sarah Smile and the lead into Is it a Star with a drug culture reference:

“I think all the 70’s were experimental.”
—Daryl Hall

Panorama of the Hollywood Bowl at night

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Review of Typlog as a turnkey platform for IndieWeb as a Service

Review of Typlog as a turnkey platform for IndieWeb as a Service
Yesterday I ran across a tweet in the IndieWeb chat announcing that Typlog, a hosted website/blogging platform, now supports Webmention.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

I looked at their website, and it also looks like they support a few other IndieWeb building blocks including WebSub and RelMeAuth by leveraging Twitter and GitHub. (The developer indicated they supported IndieAuth, but I highly suspect it’s just RelMeAuth, which is still a solid option for many IndieWeb tools.) 

Having just put together a Quick Start IndieWeb chart that includes services like micro.blog, i.haza.website, and pine.blog, I was immediately intrigued. This new platform (proprietary and not self-hostable, but very similar to the others) looks like a solid looking little platform for hosting one’s personal website (or podcast) that includes some IndieWeb building-blocks.

It’s got a 7 day free trial, so naturally I spun up a quick website. With just a few simple defaults, I had something pretty solid looking in only a few minutes with a pleasant on-boarding experience.

I’ll note that some functionality like importing content from WordPress, Tumblr, Ghost, or a podcast feed requires an actual subscription. Once you’ve finally subscribed, there are instructions to set it up to use your own domain name. However, most of the basic functionality is available in the trial. Another important indie feature is that it has a built-in export using JSON format, so that one can take their domain and content to another service provider if they wish.

It looks like it’s got a ton of common useful features! This includes support for podcasting, password protected posts, scheduling posts, membership posts, and integrations for Stripe, CloudFlare, Google Analytics, and MailChimp among many others. The platform is built with some basic and beautiful page templates and prefers to have markdown in the editor, but seems to work well with raw HTML.

They also allow adding custom code into <header> and <footer> so it should be straightforward to add support Microsub to one’s site using a service like Aperture so that you can have (feed) reader support.

Unfortunately it looks like there’s no Micropub support yet. I suspect that Typlog would be quite pleased to have a number of posting applications for both desktop and mobile available to it by adding this sort of support.

Also on testing, it looks like while the platform supports incoming Webmention, it doesn’t seem to be sending webmentions to links within posts. (Perhaps they’re batch processed asynchronously, but I haven’t seen anything yet.)

The platform seems to do really well for posting articles and podcasts and even has a custom template for reviews, but all of the user interface I’ve seen requires one to add a title on all posts, so it doesn’t lend itself to adding notes (status updates) or other indie-like posts like bookmarks, likes, or simple replies. It has a minimal built in h-card, but it could be expanded a bit for sending webmentions.

The pricing for the service starts at a very reasonable $4/month and goes up to $12/month with some additional discounts for annual payments.

In sum, I love this as another very indy-flavored web hosting service and platform for those looking to make a quick and easy move into a more IndieWeb way of hosting their website and content. While services like micro.blog and i.haza.website may be ahead of it on some technical fronts, like pine.blog, Typlog has a variety of different and unique features that many are likely to really appreciate or wish that other services might have. I imagine that over time, all of them will have relative technical parity, but will differentiate themselves on user interface, flexibility, and other services. I could definitely recommend it to friends and family who don’t want to be responsible for building and managing their websites.

One of my favorite parts of Typlog is that the company building it is based in Japan, where I’ve seen a little bit of development work for IndieWeb, but not as much as in portions of Europe, America, or Australia. It’s been great seeing some growth and spread of IndieWeb philosophy and platforms in Asia, Africa, and India recently.

And of course, who couldn’t love the fact that the developer is obviously eating their own cooking by using the platform to publish their own website! I can’t wait to see where Typlog goes next.

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Brief Review of The Atlantic Interview Podcast

Brief Review of The Atlantic Interview Podcast

I’ve now listened to a dozen of the opening episodes of The Atlantic Interview and am enamored. It’s officially ensconced at the top of my regular rotation.

The weekly show, hosted by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic’s editor in chief, features him doing a relatively in-depth interview of a single guest for about thirty minutes.

I almost look at this podcast as a far better version of some of the “Sunday shows” where the guest isn’t always so heavily guarded because it would be impolitic or that they’re lost in a sea of voices amongst a larger panel where they just can’t develop some longer coherent thoughts or theses.

To some extent, this podcast is starting to fill a hole in my daily schedule that was created by the disappearance of The Charlie Rose show late last year. The sad part is that, at only once a week, I’m going to wish I had a lot more when I’m done binge-listening to the short backlog I’ve got. On The Atlantic Interview I appreciate that the “thing guests may be selling” (book, article, show, film, etc.) takes a pointed back seat to the broader topic(s) at hand.

Much of the strength of what I’ve heard thus far stems from interviews with people that are slightly off the beaten path, but with serious messages and interesting viewpoints. They’ve all been journalisticly solid and almost always provide me with news, viewpoints, and subtle information that I didn’t have before. Another strength is that the show can give guests additional time and depth than they might receive on other traditional shows. The guests so far have been very smart, cogent, and interesting. Their selection has been well balanced for gender, topic, and general variety within the space the show occupies. The show has generally impeccable audio and production values.

While initial guests seem to have an air of familiarity with the host as the result of closer (disclosed) interpersonal connections, I suspect that even when the list of immediate friends in his Rolodex runs dry, the show will easily have enough value and gravitas to successfully run on long beyond this.

One of my favorite parts of these podcasts are the somewhat snarky bumpers that Goldberg puts onto the the end encouraging people to give reviews and subscribe. I kind of wish he’d let loose a bit more and inject some of this kind of snark into the interviews too. If nothing else, he’s at least having fun with a part of the show that would otherwise be typically painful to trudge through.

Suggestions

I’d love to hear more about education policy, health care, public heath, internet, and foreign policy. A few guest ideas I’d love to hear in this format: Tressie McMillan Cottom, Mike Morrell, Susan J. Fowler, César A. Hidalgo, Tantek Çelik, Ellen J. MacKenzie, and Ezekiel Emanuel. Continuing in the vein of interviewing the interviewers, which I find terrifically fascinating, I’d love to see Judy Woodruff, Fareed Zakaria, W. Kamau Bell, Trevor Noah, and John Dickerson in the future. These aside, I suspect that anyone that Mssr. Goldberg finds intriguing, I’m sure I will as well.

Additional Technical Commentary

I really wish their podcast had individual web pages for each episode so I could more easily email, share, or target individual episodes for people. It would also be nice if the main page actually had .mp3 versions of the audio embedded in them to make it easier to bookmark and share through services like Huffduffer.com. I really don’t know why podcasters insist on using third party podcasting services to hide their .mp3 files from the outside world–it’s literally their most important product! Stop it! I find the practice to be as irksome as newspapers that use Facebook as their primary means of distribution, and just like that case, they’ll regret it in the long run.

While Megaphone.fm is a nice hosting platform for the show, I’m not sure why a publication the size and scope of The Atlantic isn’t simply self-hosing their own content using their own URLs.

The content for the show is still a bit scatter-brained. The main page on The Atlantic has the best and most comprehensive meta-descriptions of episodes, while the Megaphone page has some nice individual episode artwork that The Atlantic doesn’t have or present. This is sure to cause uneven experiences for people depending on how they choose to subscribe.

I appreciate that some of the early episodes went to the trouble to have full transcripts and some additional snippet content and images. I miss these transcripts. I do know that doing this can be painful and expensive, though perhaps services like Gretta.com might have some technology to help. If they want to go crazy, it would be cool to see Audiogram functionality, which they could use instead of relying on Megaphone or some other platform.

Brief Review of The Atlantic Interview Podcast was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Valerie Alexander on How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”)

This morning, at the Friday morning coffee meetup of Innovate Pasadena held at Cross Campus, I saw one of the singularly best and most valuable talks I’ve heard in a long time. Many of these types of speakers, while engaging or even entertaining, are telling the same tired stories and at best you learn one sentence’s worth of value. Definitively not the case this morning!!!

How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) by Valerie Alexander

Entitled How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) writer and speaker Valerie Alexander presented a brief discussion of human evolutionary history (a topic I’ve studied closely for several decades) that featured the difference in development of male and female human brains. Based on this and with a clearer picture of what broadly differentiates the sexes, Valerie then gave a multitude of highly relate-able examples from her professional life highlighting how women can simply take back control in the workplace to not only better succeed for themselves, but to also help their companies see their true value and succeed simultaneously.

Further, she also included some simple and very actionable advice (for men and women) to be able to make a better space within corporations so that they’re able to extract more of the value women bring to the workplace. Hint: Women bring a HUGE amount of value, and a majority of companies are not only undervaluing it, but they are literally throwing it away.

Not only were the messages tremendously valuable and imminently actionable by both women AND men, but she delivered it with fantastic confidence, grace, wit, charm, and warmth. In fact, I’d say it was not only strikingly informative, but it was also very entertaining. If you’re in the corporate space and looking to turn around your antediluvian or even pre-historic work culture (I’m looking ominously at you Uber and similar Silicon Valley brogrammer cultures), then jump in line as quickly as you can to book up what I can only expect is the diminishing time in her speaking and travel schedule.

Innovate Pasadena recorded the talk and I’ll try to post it here as soon as it’s available. Until then I will highly recommend purchasing her book How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”), which I’m sure has not only the content of her lecture, but assuredly includes a whole lot more detail and additional examples than one could fit into such a short time frame. I also suspect it’s the type of book one would want to refer back to frequently as well. I’ve already got a half a dozen copies of it on their way to me to share with friends and family. I’m willing to make a substantial bet that for uncovering inherent value, this book and her overall message will eventually stand in the pantheon of texts and work of those like those of Frederick Winslow Taylor, Lillian Gilbreth, Frank Gilbreth, Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, J.M. Juran, and W. Edwards Deming.


Psst… If the good folks at TED need some fantastic content, I saw a shortened 25 minute version of her hour-long talk. It could be tightened a hair for content and length, but it’s got exactly the tone, tempo and has the high level of presentation skills for which you’re known. Most importantly, it’s definitively an “Idea worth spreading.”

Innovate Pasadena has finally uploaded a copy of the video of Valerie Alexander’s talk:

Valerie Alexander on How Women Can Succeed in the Workplace (Despite Having “Female Brains”) was originally published on Chris Aldrich