Amazigh grace: To be honest, I had never even heard of traditional Algerian Berber (Amazigh) music. But thanks to our unofficial California ambassador for the Amazigh people, Moh Alileche (now a Berkeley resident), I’ve been checking out, and totally digging, this northern African treasure chest of tunes. Using his mondol (something like a large mandolin), Alileche makes music that is able to inspire dance but at the same time tells a story, much like American folk music. But don’t get me wrong: This ain’t American folk music. While Alileche’s music can be hopeful and witty, songs such as “A Culture on the Brink of Extinction,” with low, mournful notes that swoop downward, make a serious point about his people, who are struggling for survival and are in need of a strong voice, such as Alileche’s.
Backed by a flutist, a hand drummer, banjo and vocals, Alileche will make a special appearance in Davis at the Village Homes Community Center (2661 Portage Bay East in Davis); $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Check out Alileche’s music at www.myspace.com/mohalileche or at www.flagoffreedom.com. (Josh Fernandez)
Grandpa Glass: I want to adopt Philip Glass as my grandpa. If he’d let me. Not that I have a problem with my own lineage, but come on: The man is 72 years old, still plays and composes gross-good music, and he has a myriad of stories to tell, some of which he loquaciously did in a pre-concert talk at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, February 18. He shared a slice of his wealth of knowledge at the moderately attended talk, citing the Bhagavad Gita, astronomy and Johannes Kepler as inspiration for compositions past and future: “I would say music was my love, but my hobby was science.”
So this Juilliard grad is clearly a geek, and kind of a rock star, too. He discussed his reluctance to allow other musicians play his music: “I make my living by playing, so I’m not inclined to give it away.”
And play he did. The composer began the program with Metamorphosis on piano, and then Wendy Sutter used her lithe arms to play Songs and Poems for Solo Cello with her 389-year-old cello. Glass wrote it just for her. She must be one of his favorite nonrelated grandkids.
Mick Rossi eventually joined Glass onstage for some percussion action, impressing the audience—nary a seat left empty in the hall—with the twinkling celesta, and closed with the lovely, aptly named “Closing.”
At the close of the talk earlier that evening, a young woman ran up to the stage and asked if Glass would record a station ID into her little recorder for KDVS. He did, and the girl jumped up and down, celebrating her catch. I think she might want to be your grandkid, too, Mr. Glass. (Shoka)Critics set: There’s no debating the fact that the guitar is mightier than the pen. Young kids read (Facebook walls). And music has greater impact on their lives than books, no doubt.
Not sure what this has to do with me stumbling into Luna’s Café & Juice Bar last week for local music scribes Jackson Griffith and David Watts Barton’s set, other than to point out—perhaps to myself—that there are options out there when this whole “reading” thing runs its course.
Anyway, Barton and Griffith played side by side and ran through new and old material. Barton’s working on an album; Griffith just wrote 14 songs for February Album Writing Month. Both of them are on Facebook and MySpace, if you’re interested. (Nick Miller)
Speaking of Luna’s: Last Thursday night at Luna’s was a show that made history. Well, for me, at least. Before Seattle’s Levator (pronounced like “elevator” without the first “E”) took to the stage, I got to do a poetry reading. During the last poem, one of my favorite artists of all time, Chelsea Wolfe, backed me on guitar. And now I can cross that off of my list of dreams to accomplish. But now onto the more difficult task: An S&M party featuring slutty mermaids and pristine, virgin Mormons. Wait, do virgin Mormons even exist?
Question: At the car dealership, before they allow you to purchase a new-model Dodge Charger, do they check to make sure you’re an obese white person with a goatee and a huge, red face, and also that you’re a total dickwad? I think maybe they do. (J.F.)