Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ancient Warlocks

My significant other is a musician. A prolonged battle with ringworm forced him off the mats (he was a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor at the time) and in to quarantine. Stuck in his house, unable to participate in the most central activity of his life, he pulled out an old electric guitar his brother had given him and learned to play. This was close to three years ago. He now practices every day in the living room, and twice a week with his bandmates.

It didn't take him long to start coming up with material of his own. Soon enough, a friend of his from the local rock scene (also a guitarist) noticed that he was getting pretty good. They jammed and after a few sessions, Ancient Warlocks was born.

Initially, the name was a joke. But it stuck. And two years later, they're doing pretty well here in Seattle with one 7" record already produced, and several more in the works.

I get to hear Darren play guitar all the time. When we first got together, I would sit on the couch and watch him play through each and every song, each and every riff. I'd sit there til he put the guitar down and switched off his amp. Over time, I started doing other things while he was playing, but I still listen. It's always a good time to hear him come up with new riffs, work on old ones, experiment, and just practice the established ones. But it's an entirely different experience to hear all the pieces come together.

From time to time, I'll end up at one of their group practices. There, the whole orchestra assembles; Aaron on lead guitar and vocals, Darren on rhythm guitar, Steve on drums, and Ony on bass. I get so used to hearing Darren's guitar all by itself, just one singular part of a much greater whole, that I begin to think of the songs as flat and simply 'interesting' instead of what they really are. As soon as they strike the first chord on that first song, I remember. A complex body of personality, fine tuned sound, the 'right' equipment, and the spirit of each player produces a wall of sound that always makes me move. Because every part of the musical experience is personalized, no two bands are ever the same. There is no right answer when it comes to tuning, brands of gear, how to play, how many players a band has, etc. Each instrument and component thereof is unique to it as well, so there is no limit to just how one-off a band can be.

I was sitting on the couch on the other side of the big glass window at their practice space, bobbing my head and tapping my feet as they played their newest songs for several hours. Steve always stresses the importance of 'groove', and it is something they most definitely have.

If you have a little time, have a listen.

Ancient Warlocks

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Internet

The internet is a strange place. It gives us all the opportunity to be anyone we want - absolute anonymity unless we choose otherwise. I'm sure most of us would like to think we're pretty true to self even when we're posting in forums on the internet, but that's not always the case. I know I'm guilty of trying on different faces in different communities all over the web. But no matter how true we try to be, to a certain degree everyone's internet persona differs just a little bit from their 'real world' self. Some people differ quite a lot, though...those are the people who really need to get off the internet and get a life.

I've recently discovered this food blog written by a Seattle woman named Shauna. Her posts are wonderful -- each one consists of a story and a recipe, always beautifully written and a pleasure to read. By weaving together her story and her food, what would normally be just a tasty plate of homemade food becomes soul food. The kind that has had love and joy poured into it and somehow turns out better than anything you've ever made. I loved her blog right away. She fills each post with photographs of her wonderful family and the food they make together. It's a wonderful experience for anyone who loves joyful cooking.

But in her most recent post, she discussed a side of life that she doesn't mention much in her blog. The darker side. Her posts are normally full of cheer and positivity, and with good reason...there is too much hate and misery in the world these days. There is no reason to perpetuate it, and so she simply chooses not to.
Shauna's post discussed something I hadn't even thought about: people all over the world hate her. They hate her blog, her family, her cooking, her weight, her parenting skills. They've come at her from every angle for no good reason. It's as if they can see how completely happy she is, and they want to bring her down into their misery as well. I guess it's an age-old adage for a reason: misery loves company.

After struggling since childhood with her appearance and being comfortable in her own skin, she has finally, in the time since she has started writing this blog, discovered how to get over the heaps of crap people all over the internet are spewing at her and still come out smiling on the other side.

Read this post. It is beautifully written and contains a very important message. You will undoubtedly know what it is by the end of the post. Take five minutes out of you day and read it. (Not to mention you'll also get a kickass recipe at the end).

Warm Brown Rice and Grilled Vegetable Salad