Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can't touch this

It seemed an unlikely event:
- A concert of funerary music.
- To be performed atop the crypts at historic Laurel Hill Cemetery.
- As part of the Philly Fringe Festival.
- By the Divine Hand Ensemble.
- Featuring a Theremin, an electronic instrument invented in 1919, plus harps, violins, and other instruments that produce sounds described as "ethereal, eloquent and mesmerizing."

So last Saturday, I spent the evening on Laurel Hill's Millionaire's Row alongside a number of prominent names in Philadelphia history who, because they couldn't take their fortunes with them, left behind impressive monuments.

Spending time in the cemetery wasn't scary, spooky, morbid, maudlin, depressing, sad, or weird.

It was surprisingly uplifting.

With perfect weather and a nice crowd, it felt peaceful. A respite from the busy city surrounding Laurel Hill.

I finally got to see how a Theremin works. Not by plucking strings or hitting keys, but by waving your hands near an antenna to control pitch and volume.

The Theremin is an instrument you can't touch to play. An appropriate choice for Laurel Hill, where you can't touch the "residents."

But both seemed very real last Saturday night.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sugar for Rodriguez

It took 40-plus years for Rodriguez to become an overnight sensation in America.

The Detroit musician has been working construction since the 1970s, when his recording career failed to take off in his home country.

Little did he realize he has been an icon in South Africa all these years – bigger than the Beatles or Elvis – with fantastic and premature reports of his death.

Everything changed with the indie film, “Searching for Sugar Man.”  

I stumbled across the movie this weekend, and now Rodriguez and Sugar Man are all I see and hear.
The music may be from another time, but it sounds fresh and new to these ears....and I understand why it's such a revered classic in South Africa.

Great story. Great movie. Great music. And a wonderful example of dedication and second chances.