ASU: The Return — The Concert

The big fall tour is finally over — until November. So far, I’ve been to Arizona State for a rehearsal of “Turbine,” UT Austin (which got two blog entries) for a performance of “Redline Tango,” Texas Tech for a performance of “Turbine,” Ft. Myers, Florida to see my mom for a few days, then back to Arizona State for the “Turbine” performance.
Somewhere in between, I made it home for one day to have a great birthday dinner with AEJ at Dan Tana’s. We didn’t see Clooney, but we did wait for our table with Jessica Biel.

Okay, I didn’t take that picture, but she really did wait with us. (Granted, she didn’t wait nearly as long as we did.) She looked great — she’s hotter in real life, AEJ and I agreed — and she was quite pleasant. And dinner, by the way, was fantastic.

ASU was a lot of fun, and the return trip got off to a great start with a sushi lunch. Can’t have sushi without edamame.

This place — I think it was called Ra — was amazing. Who knew you could get sushi this good in the middle of the desert?

You’ve seen lots of pictures of bands rehearsing, but how many pictures have you seen of a band rehearsing with a pow-wow group? The concert on Saturday was what Gary Hill calls “SoundRave,” and it’s a cool hybrid concert. Last year, it included an electric guitar concerto, as well as Corigliano’s Circus Maximus. This year, it featured a local Battle of the Bands, a DJ, two straight-forward wind ensemble works, and a piece by ASU faculty member James DeMars called “Native Drumming” for wind ensemble and pow-wow group.

The piece was incredible. DeMars worked with members of the group, the Black Lodge Singers, and incorporated their native music into his. This could have been gimmicky and totally smacked of multi-culti, but DeMars hit this one out of the park.

On that first night (Thursday), I had dinner at Kendra’s place. She made pasta. I was all, “hey, where’s the Kraft parmesan?” and she was all, “right here.”

Dessert was chocolate fountain fondue! How fun is this? Just look at Karl’s face for the answer!

I had lunch on Friday with Anthony Garcia, an ASU composition student. We had some Fatburger.

(Anthony’s music, by the way, is quite good, and he’s a fun guy.)

Saturday’s concert started with a Battle of the Bands. The judges included Radar (a local DJ), Colleen Jennings-Roggensack (Executive Director of Public Events at ASU), and John Mackey (hella lame blogger). The first band was KinDread, and musically, they were actually my favorite. They played reggae, but with a hard electric guitar sound.

At first I thought, Ouch, too bad for them being a reggae band, because I hate reggae, and I’m a judge. Luckily for them, though, all three bands were reggae bands. By the end of the 90+ minutes of reggae, I was ready to hear something that was a little less dependent on back-beats, leisurely tempi, and use of the word “mon.”

Here’s Radar performing turntable with an amplified string quartet in “Exploration for Strings and Turntable” by Raul Yanez.

I wanted to like this more than I did. Radar is clearly fantastic, but for DJ-infused concert music, nobody can beat Mason Bates. This particular piece sounded a bit too The Verve Nike commercial, circa 1997. Yanez’s second piece on the program, “!Sas!” for latin band and wind ensemble, was a whole hell of a lot better. This one I dug quite a lot.

The concert also included an exciting (and fantastically fast) performance of “Turbine,” as well as Grainger’s “Lincolnshire Posy” (the Beethoven’s 5th of band music), and DeMars’s “Native Drumming.” Here’s a shot of the Black Lodge Singers doing a little solo set before their piece.

The concert was long — 4 hours, including the Battle of the Bands — and after, it was time for drinks. Gary Hill and I had some great martinis, and then Gary dropped me off at a party hosted by one of the ASU composers. It’s been a while since I’ve attended a “real” college party. I think this photo says it all.

It sure is good to be home. Three weeks on the road — with two one-day trips home in between — was a little long. After unwinding for a few days, I now need to get back to work, as I have two transcriptions due very soon.

On another topic, I’m considering buying a new camera. The Sony DSC-T9 has a lot of issues. Focus is hit-or-miss (you wouldn’t believe how many out-of-focus shots I have of things that should have been crystal clear given the lighting conditions), and color is just plain wrong much of the time. White balance is kind of inexcusably poor. I love the size of the camera, but what good is that when only 1/3 of the pictures turn out? I strongly preferred the picture quality of my old Canon, and there’s a new compact Canon — the PowerShot SD800 IS. What to do? Anybody want to buy my old DSC-T9? (Just ignore the fact that I just said it sucks.)


Sarah says

I think you should sell it on ebay. I mean come on, who wouldn't want to buy a camera that John Mackey used to own?

Cathy says

I own the Cannon PowerShot SD600 (or is it 650?) and absolutely LOVE it. I have owned several Sonys before this Cannon and eventually had focus problems (almost EVERY shot with the last one ended up blurry).

As much of your stalker I may be, I'm sorry to say that I am not interested in buying another camera at this time. Maybe in 35 years or so from now, when we're close to 70 and the camera is a collectors item for so many reasons!

Daniel Montoya, Jr. says

Mmmm... Jessica Biel. Great picture too!! Nice "action."

FOSCO says

I used to think I had a particularly diabolical conception of hell, but "90+ minutes of reggae" is worse.

I bought my camera with loose change collected from my laundry, so I don't think I can give you good advice.

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