Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Jim Drake's Entertainment Blog
‘Stellarondo’ — file under ?
I know, I know, first blog in many moons. Here’s an interview with Caroline Keys of Stellarondo to ease me back into the groove. I promise, as soon as I recover from trying to park at the 2011 Hops Fest, I’ll write more. — Jim Drake
1. Thanks for putting Hood River on your schedule. I've listened to your songs online, and I must admit, I can't seem to put a classification on your music. So what exactly are we listening to here?
You're welcome! We've beaten the path between Missoula and Portland a few times, but have never stopped in Hood River. We are excited to make a night of it. We're not sure exactly how to classify our music either. Stellarondo has been described as "astral art folk," "high-lonesome meets subterranean post-apocalyptica," and "the sound of the new western frontier." Not sure exactly what to say? We might sound like what would happen if Karen Dalton and Sufjan Stevens had a little girl and she went on to make a Pink Floyd album. With kalimba and banjo. Is that helpful? I hope I don't regret saying that.....
2. Interesting band name, "Stellarondo." Where did it come from?
Stella Rondo is a character from Eudora Welty's short story "Why I Live at the P.O."
3. I noticed one of your band members has got an archtop tenor guitar. They're a bit rare: What makes this instrument fit into your music scheme?
Yes, that is a Kay tenor archtop guitar built in the 1930s. My husband bought it years ago, and until I was showing a video of Kelly Hogan & Neko Case to some harmony singing students, it collected dust. When I saw that Neko Case plays one, I decided to give ours a spin — at the time I was playing lots of old-time stringband music and I cross-tuned it like a fiddle to open A. It stayed in open A for Stellarondo. What makes it fit? Actually, I'd say that Stellarondo is a culture of "yes." We'll try anything. Well, almost...
4. Your press release said that you guys created a "noise jam" for some (students?). What was the purpose of that and how did it turn out?
Although they've taken place in school gymnasiums, no students were (harmed) or present during our noise jams. The first one was spontaneous in central Montana this spring — we'd let ourselves in to the Hobson School to retrieve some gear, ended up picking up our instruments, started improvising, and eventually ended up in a place where there was tons of feedback and screaming. We're a relatively new band and there's a lot of restraint in what we'd perform, so it felt good to explore a more fierce territory together that night. We got so much out of that experience that when we returned home we booked a gym in Missoula, Gibson set up his analog gear, and we recorded a few hours of improvisation to tape. Not sure what we'll do with it? We'd like to mine it for seeds of new songs, and for ideas for our "story scoring" project — we've been working with writer Rick Bass scoring some of his short fiction.
5. Someone in the band must know someone who lives in the Gorge — how did the Trillium Cafe end up on the tour schedule?
Nope! Another Montana band recommended Trillium to us, said they had a good experience there. I did work in Steamboat Springs, Colo., with a fella named Glen Sloop who used to spend summers windsurfing the Gorge. Glen, you still around?
6. Please tell us how the audiences usually respond to your music sets: Is this a sit-down and listen type show or should we bring the dancing shoes?
Stellarondo puts on a sit-down and listen show. For now.
7. What music does the band listen to for inspiration (whose on your iPod)?
Oh boy! We'd all answer differently, but certainly overlap in spots. In the van we listen to 1970s Steve Martin stand-up. And more than one time the vehicle has erupted in a Drunken Prayer singalong, sans radio. On my iPod there's quite a bit from the Dust to Digital label, also Tuatara, Caleb Klauder, George Brassens, Cooke Duet, A.A. Bondy, The Fugs, The Glands, Martha Scanlan, Hank Thompson, John Hartford, Louvin Brothers, Karen Dalton, Michael Hurley, The Wilders, and Yo La Tengo (who were in the audience at one of our first shows!), Vending Machine, The Red Hots....
Thanks you guys and have a good show!
Thank you Jim. Hope to see you there! Stellarondo will be at the Trillium Cafe in Hood River on Saturday, Oct. 8.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge