Monday, February 25, 2008

Doctor doctor

First, thanks much to the folks that came out on Saturday night. It was fun to visit, or revisit in some cases, so many cool tunes. And even some less cool tunes. Sadly, there weren't enough of us to send a big check Andrew D'Angelo's way, but every bit helps I suppose. To that end, Nate Chinen wrote a piece for the Times that we all hope will help, Darcy commented, then reviewed the Tea Lounge benefit in Brooklyn, and Andrew continues to blog about his progress. For those of you have never heard Andrew play, there is a straight line from the way he writes to the way he plays, no question.

I've been thinking about health care a fair bit lately, even before the situations with Dennis Irwin and Andrew surface. You see, for the non-Bostonians, I am one of about 40,000 guinea pigs in Massachusetts great experiment in mandatory health care. I was compelled by the state to buy health care, at a prorated monthly fee based on my tax return income. My plan starts this month. On paper, at least, it's a good deal- I pay less than $40 per month in premiums, the co-pays are in line with the going rate, and I badly need health insurance. My plan kicks in March first, so I have no idea what will actually happen when I need services- stay tuned.

That said, while I'm grateful, I'm also equally skeptical that this can work. For one, even before this law went into effect, primary care physicians (PCPs) were in short supply in this area. My roommate, who has Blue Cross, was told last week the next time his doctor could see him was August(!) To my knowledge, nothing in the law addresses that. Second, the state is already projecting billions of additional costs in the next few years, with no idea of how to pay for it. It's my (limited) understanding that both the Obama and Clinton plans are similar to the Massachusetts law. While I think it will make some things better, get ready for the same problems.

Second, I don't see anything, at least in my coverage, that adequately addresses diet and lifestyle issues, which are the two biggest factors in most common American maladies. Of course, that would mean taking on the food industry, and what are the odds of that...

Honestly, I don't see any way we really "solve" health care in this country without a national single-payer system. Sure it'll ration care, but what do you call what we have now? And more importantly, talk to anyone working in the system (I was a secretary at a hospital in one of my many day jobs). Medicare covers more, and hassles less, than any private insurer, with about one eighth of the overhead costs. (I need sources) So explain again why private is so much better???

Thursday, February 21, 2008

my jukebox still only costs a nickel

I wanted to put out one more last-minute call for one or two more pop chestnuts to mutilate, er, cover on my gig Saturday night. I'm honestly flummoxed. I'm looking for something, well, overplayed and despised that we can knock around some, a la TBP doing "Chariots" or Frisell doing "Live to Tell". (And I know, I know, Ethan didn't mean it that way.) So far, the plan is to do some Beatles and Beach Boys tunes I've player before with Ooomph, my friend Jeremy Udden's great reworking of "Eternal Flame", and new reworkings of stuff by Feist and Journey. What else fits...

On a more serious note, a portion of the proceeds from the gig (and please god there will be some) will go directly to the fund for Andrew D'Angelo, the great NYC musicians who is fighting a rare form of brain cancer. If you can't come, please consider contributing via Andrew's website. He is an amazing musician and a true original (see Ethan's wonderful tribute), and we need him here for awhile longer...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pat Donaher Sells Out! This Saturday at the Lily Pad

Sell*out- Informal. a person who compromises his or her personal values, integrity, talent, or the like, for money or personal advancement. (from

That's right, despite six years of conservatory training, many hours spent playing Bach suites and Hanon exercises, years of playing very strange noises in artistic, underground hipster venues, it's come down to the Bangles. And Journey. And (gasp) maybe even the Monkees. I'll be pandering to the masses with these chestnuts this Saturday night in Cambridge. For a mere $10, you can be part of the debasement...

I'm kidding, of course; this was going to be a Johnny Carcrash gig, but we had to push that back due to scheduling constraints, so I thought it'd be fun to do something a little less intense and compositional than my last few outings. And I needed an adversising gimmick. As I've said before, I'm totally down with covering pop tunes, and at this point one could argue that the Beatles, who we'll also cover, are well ensconsed in the jazz songbook. But the band is happening, and I hope you'll check out all the merriment.

Pat Donaher Quartet
featuring Kai Ando and Jakub Rojek
Saturday, Feb, 23, 7:30pm
Lily Pad, 1353 Cambridge Street
$10 cover

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tea Leaf Prophecies

After last year's debacle, I didn't stay up for the Grammys this year, so I have to admit I was a little surprised when I picked up the paper this morning and saw that the big winner last night was... Herbie Hancock. Herbie?? Anyone else know what to make of that? As the times article mentions, Herbie has won ten of them, since the Grammys seem to favor known, famous commodities over quality, though Herbie certainly offers both. And he has contributed two of my fonder Grammy moments, this really swinging bit with Natalie Cole (this was recorded just days after Tony Williams died, which apparently lent some extra push to the performance), the famous Rockit blowout. and the hilarious '85 synth medley (see Thomas Dolby's amazing post on the event.)

I've stated my skepticism of award shows, and the Grammys in particular, in these pages before, and it's rare when I'm willing to tag any record, no matter how much I like it, the "best of the year". (Note also that my most of my jazz category picks, made with no lack of cynicism, came to pass.) But what I've seen of the show, and the coverage it's getting, seems to confirm what we already know- the industry proper, even more than the rest of us, is confused as hell about how to address the changing marketplace, the "long tail" and the opportunities and challenges presented by the digital world. If you had any doubt, read the transcript of the Grammy's president. You decide to fight hard to ensure proper renumeration for traditional radio play... a piece of the economic pie which shrinks more and means less each year. You promote the grand future by... playing an Oscar Peterson tune. Way to go guys.

I did catch up with a few of the performances online, and was pleasantly surprised. I'm not exactly a fan, but Amy Weinhouse put on a monster mini-set, as did Kayne- it's unusual for me to react when a performer's charisma jumps off the screen, but his sure did. And Feist's performance, half solo, half with (somewhat half-assed) brass band was pretty happening- reminded me of Darcy's review of her set this summer, which sums it up nicely.

Look at the Globe's photo montage, with all it's diversity, and tell me how many artists, or even categories, you recognize. After the first twenty or so, save Blanchard and The Shins, I'm clueless, and I like to think I keep up. I have no idea what it all means, except maybe that the Grammys grow less relevant with each passing year.

UPDATE: read Ben Ratliff's astute take on Herbie's victory. His article from a few years back on the Diana Krall phenomenon is worth reviewing as well. And David Ryshpen as well.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Yes we can

Okay, just disregard most of that last post... (coughs and looks at floor) Maybe us Bostonians were due for some come-uppance.

Yesterday as I was coming home from teaching, I passed through Coolidge Corner to be met by sign-wavers from Clinton and Obama. To me, this is remarkable- this is the first time in my lifetime that Massachusetts has mattered in a presidential campaign. We've voted for the Democrat every time except '84 by large margins, and the primaries have always been too late to mean much. Not this year, so go take advantage.

Some of you have seen this video making the rounds. Barack's my guy this time too. I have real questions about Obama- in Massachusetts we've seen the hot glow of Gov. Deval Patrick's rhetoric has been extinguished by the cold realities of governing, (And a few boneheaded decisions at the outset, not the least of which was trying to take us headlong into the casino business) and while that may not be a fair comparison, it sticks in my brain. But he has captivated the American imagination, particularly that of young people, in a way that I've never seen, and offers us an opportunity to put new face forward that the world can embrace more readily.

While I'm not convinced that he can deliver, I know Hillary will deliver the same tone and harshness of politics that we've seen for the past 15 years, and I believe is much more vulnerable to McCain in the generals for just that reason. I want change, and believe in the power of hope. So I'll vote Obama tomorrow, and hope you consider it. (But for god's sake, vote! It really matters this time)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Links for groundhogs, goalposts and other creatures

Nate Chinen reviewed Trio M at Hotel Kitano in New York. A different, but equally positive take on the band to my reactions.

Ethan Iverson scores again with a parsing of Oscar Peterson and his notable critics. My reaction to come. And staying in the family, Ethan's fantastic wife Sarah reposts her amazing essay about vacuum cleaners and loss.

One concert note, my friends Prana Trio will play the Lily Pad tomorrow night. I would be there, but I'm afraid I'm a homer, and there's this little football game. But if that doesn't interest you in the least, go check 'em.

One note on that game. There has been a lot of blowback this week in the papers against the Pats, which I understand. It's hard to like a juggernaut for very long, especially one whose boss sometimes resembles a cross between a poorly dressed Dr. Frankenstien and a football Grinch who may have used, er, less then ethical scouting tactics. But those of us who live here are still pinching ourselves. My first football memory is watching an horribly inept Patriots squad on television give up a game winning pass to Buffalo (1979? 1981? someone help me here). We had three defensive backs in the area, they had one receiver- guess who caught the pass? That pretty much set up the football of my youth. I also remember losing to Tampa Bay back when they were god awful, and had lame pastel orange uniforms to boot. Likewise, my first baseball memories are 1.) seeing Dwight Evans on TV getting hit in the face with a beer while trying to catch a fly ball in Yankee Stadium, and 2.) having to leave my first ever game at Fenway Park because my grandfather had broken his hip. Paged over the stadium PA and everything. I'm not making this up. So forgive me and me ilk for reveling in our good fortune. And enjoy the game!

(Shakes head in disbelief that someone actually put up a Dewey Evans page on Wikepedia...)

Current listening: Bobby McFerrin, Medicine Music. Was reminded of this album recently, so I went out and finally got it on CD. (I had it on cassette 15 years ago.) Am I the only one that thinks that McFerrin is criminally underrated, partially due to his pop success?

UPDATE: One of the few bright spots of the aforementioned Pats from my youth, the amazing linebacker Andrew Tippett, was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame today. That makes me happy.