Saturday, September 19, 2015

MusikCircus Status: the Return of the Cat

Cat's computer is now working again and she is back online.  After four days down, you know she is one happy woman now.

You can look forward to a full schedule of performances next week just as normal and the calendar can be seen via the tab on the top of the blog.

So that's the latest news and anything more you will be hearing from Cat.  This day has improved substantially and it's hardly even got started.

Friday, September 18, 2015

MusikCircus Status

Update is accurate as it comes from someone with direct contact with Cat and who has helped fix her computer in the past. I did not get the sense there will be a fix / repair coming quickly and it sounds like hardware.

In case you wonder at the lack of detail, lose the idea Germans type like Porsche engineers. They type just as badly as anyone else, they just do it in more languages.

Concerts at Cat's Art MusikCircus were canceled yesterday and there will be no performances today.  Hopefully the problem will be rectified quickly but meanwhile there's not much to do but wait.

The real solution is Cat needs a computer but we need to wait for now to find out for sure.

Any additional news will go out to you as soon as I know it.

Note also the :6800 stream does not work as Second Life cannot connect to it and neither can a connection be made via iTunes.  There will be an attempt to reach the provider to get it restarted, resolved, etc.  As of this minute, it does not work.  Any other stream will work fine at the MusikCircus.  :6800 is the default MusikCircus stream.

Welcome to Cat's Art MusikCircus

Cat Boucher built the first circus in Second Life many years ago and she has been bringing live music to the virtual world for all that time.

Cat has a taste in music that leads to non-mainstream performances that push music out as far as artists can take it.  Highly specific to her vision is that artists should be free to take their music wherever they like, without any constraints.

Expect the unusual at the Cat's Art MusikCircus as where else can you climb onto a trapeze over the stage while the performer is making music below.  There are many circus attractions and the audience is always invited to try them.

A very big part of the vision of the MusikCircus venue is providing support for artists who might not otherwise receive it as they typically do not do many cover songs or use commercial backing tracks for their music.  The artists at the MusikCircus perform live in the truest sense of the word.


The fastest way to find any performer is to use the Index tab at the top.  It will make a list and you can pick from within it.

Each page is limited to two articles but it may be better with a single article per page as the ones for performers will almost certainly expand with whatever resources they may have put online (e.g. videos, audio files, etc).  This method has merit as people will likely find the artist in whom they're interested by going to the Index or the Blog Archive list in the sidebar.

The objective is to make information about the performers as fast and approachable as possible because the hope is this may help land them some gigs.

Agustin Braham

Agustin Braham has a smooth and relaxed style of singing that you will find quite captivating.  Who knows, maybe he is wound up tighter than a cheap watch inside but I very much doubt it as there's a compelling calm in his voice.  Agustin doesn't do any grandstanding with his guitar but every so often he will do a few runs around the neck to show you he knows how to play it.  He delivers a highly professional performance and I'm sure you will enjoy it.

Very much the focus of Agustin's set is the content of the lyrics of his songs but I can't well report on that as yet as I haven't fully grabbed it.  What I know for sure is that the content is there and it is worth reaching to discover the depth of it.  I'm sure Agustin will be back again next week and I'll report more fully on his set as it wouldn't be fair to write on that prematurely.  I'm sure I heard 'dinosaurs and ice cream' and I have GOT to understand what that meant.


Chicagosax (George Buetow) has been playing blues in Chicago since the last 50's so that makes he and I two of the old goobers of Second Life but there is coolness in this as we survived it and both of us are still playing, albeit with a bit of whingy crap from me about my own circumstance.

He brings his sax ... or his flute ... or his guitar ... or his Hammond B3 and, I believe you get it already ... he plays whatever he likes.  He plays standards because people know them.  What he does with them is the trip.

In a lot of lead work it's all the same.  Trill, trill, trill, move, trill, trill, trill, blah, blah.  Do this in front of a jazz guy and he will laugh silently at you.  Do it in front of a blues guy and he will laugh out loud.  (That's because the blues guy has been shooting down Jack Daniels all night)

Lead guitar is leading the band and it's also playing that splashy lead with all that trill, trill, trill out where the girls can see you.

But that isn't what George does.  (He doesn't have to as the sax guy always gets the girl anyway!)
When George plays a lead line, it's not something he memorized but rather he is taking the steps, each one leading to another but not necessarily leading to the same other as the last time.  This is the jazz in which, to some extent, the music makes itself as you are tuned right to it as you are with the people around you making it.  George will use tracks to back himself but you'll notice he knows everyone in them.  It's not just some guy playing a guitar, George knows the musicians and has usually has jammed with him.

You can just relax and let George's blues carry you away if you like, he doesn't make an aggressive sound, it's not like that.  You can also come in close and listen to that lead line, go on all the pathways with him and let him surprise you.

At a certain point, you realize that the mind will complete things.  If a word is missing then your mind will put there.  The same thing happens with music and a musician can play to this in creating musical expectations ... and then doing something else, all during the course of a single lead. I'm not going to go at length on this as you'll need to play for yourself to see what I mean.   I know this much: George already knows.

James Corachea

James Corachea played tonight at Cat Boucher's Art MusikCircus and it was quite a remarkable act.  He's a young man from England who has worked incredibly hard on his music and now has a great style of play.  He's a bit shy so it's sometimes tough to make out what he saying between songs but his humility is charming.

James finger picks every song he plays and the result is an intricate sound that is a delight to hear.  He is frequently working with alternate tunings for the guitar and is very fast on retuning to get the sound he wants.  His sound is extremely impressive as very few people can do it.  This level of finger picking (i.e. using all of your fingers to pluck the strings rather than a flat pick) is not at all common and it yields a complex and fascinating sound.

If there were any improvement to be made in James' performance it would be to develop more of a 'stage voice' as he does talk between songs but it's not entirely clear what he's saying.  A little bit of that 'Heya Cincinnati' stage bravado wouldn't be a bad thing at all.  This isn't a big deal as you will love his music anyway but it would help people to get to know him a bit better.

Leandro Doune

Leandro Doune plays in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and some have described him as a bluesman but he would be the first I've heard play a tango.  Leandro has a relaxed, lyrical stuff which is fast and precise.  Although he is not given to any affection in the sound of his guitar, Leandro has a soft Hendrix style of play which is melodic and transporting.

The play list for his set is a mix of covers and originals with the latter being a far ahead favorite at the MusikCircus.  Leandro plays some intricate pieces but he knows well the value of a good hook and he hasn't forgotten the importance of melody.  Sometimes melody gets lost in a mad rush for more speed in play but Leandro knows the balance.

Naga Flow

Naga is a poet, songwriter, musician who sings from Wollongong, Australia.

There is a deep passion and sensitivity to his lyrics and his expression of them that is immediately captivating.

The content of his songs may be personal, or political, or whatever it needs to be as he doesn't sound like limits would ever be acceptable.

Naga Flow played his debut show at Cat's Art MusikCircus tonight and he was highly-enthusiastic about opening for Paris Obscur who is one of the most passionate singers you will ever hear.  That's a brave position to take and I had heard a bit of his music but wasn't so sure what to make of it.  For me, I really don't know until I hear someone live.  Tonight was the night.

Naga delivers his lyrics as a poet more than a songwriter and his phrasing is very much his own. There is a tremendous passion in it but not so much confidence as he started.  As he felt more the vibe of the MusikCircus, his confidence grew and he sounded stronger and stronger, projecting fully what he was trying to do.

Naga sounded a bit concerned about the show going into it as he was talking with a bit of question about originals to which I always respond yes, yes, yes.  It's not just me as everyone coming to the MusikCircus looks for musical adventures as that is what Cat built.  Originals can be heartbreakers because you need to find a receptive crowd or the audience may not even give you a chance.  This is what separates the MusikCircus as there's nothing we like more than originals.  The performer may take a few minutes to get used to it but then it comes.  It really is free here.

He was very smooth with his levels as there is a substantial dynamic to his work in that he goes from very soft to great strength on the guitar and the vocal, not exactly shouting but not far short. Even though he pushes this very hard, it does not clip or distort so has a great quality sound throughout. This was very impressive as it takes a lot of time to get that right and there were times when he was hammering it but with no distortion at all.

Polish would wreck him as his music would be all covered in Turtle Wax and the purity of it would be lost.  His lyrics are not always clear but come out stronger as his show builds.  The passion is unmistakable.  It struck me very much that there is a lot of magic in his phrasing as simple rhyming couplets are ok but he wants much more and he phrases his words in whatever way they need.  The content of the words in combination with that phrasing make his work unique.

It's not my purpose to compare Naga Flow with lefty Unplugged but it does no harm to note similarities, also with Sonya Jevette, on unique phrasing they will use for their lyrics and this is what moves that work from songwriting to poetry with music.

I'm sure Naga Flow will be asked back and it will be cool to watch and listen to how things go with him and his show.  I know I'll be there.

Meet Naga Flow on Facebook

Joaquin Gustav

Joaquin is a guitarist from Argentina who specialises in a romantic Latin style that has been enchanting Second Life audiences for years.  He plays a variety of Latin songs and also includes Latin style versions of pop favorites.  His guitar playing is delicate but also quite fast and the result is an extremely beautiful presentation.

These days rocking something means anything from making a cup of coffee to going to the shopping mall but it rarely has anything to do with music so it's much better not to rock something and Joaquin Gustav definitely did not when he came back last night to Cat's Art MusikCircus.

Joaquin Gustav has been playing consistently beautiful and romantic sets ever since he started in Second Life six or seven years ago.  He's using tracks for some of his songs but he made them and then he plays over the top.  Or he plays without any accompaniment at all but everything comes over with a with a gentle delicacy.

Throughout the set he was waiting for the right moment to play "Happy Birthday" for Cat as celebrating a birthday over just one day is hardly enough, is it.  I love how Europeans celebrate Christmas over two days, Easter the same way, etc, so why not birthdays as well.  Argentina isn't exactly Europe but maybe they celebrate things this way as well.

At the end of the set, the moment was right and he did a Latin version of "Happy Birthday" that was charming. Happy Birthday, Cat.

Sonya Jevette

Sonya performs in and around Austin, Texas, and she sings a variety of original songs and covers.  She frequently covers songs by Adele but she also covers Chuck Berry.  She likes to accompany her singing on electric guitar and she plays her own lead.  She has a great sense of humor and a song the audience always enjoys is the "Big Girls" song in which she sings of the 'wobbly wobbly.'  She always invites ladies from the audience to dance with her during the song and, Daddy, you better treat them right.

Sonya Jevette came back to Cat's Art MusikCircus from Dallas, Texas, last night and she still has her hat but she sure didn't look like a Texas cowgirl.  If she is a Texas cowgirl then I imagine you're thinking about buying a horse just now.

Sonya gave a wonderful show last night and to her largest audience yet.  I saw Lyn Baphomet and I haven't seen her for years.  It's a really great thing to see people coming to find Sonya sings with such a gorgeous voice and how she makes her shows so much fun.  She really does play a Gibson ES-335 too and now she's got her drum / bass kit working so there's big beef behind her while she plays.

rula Rayna watched her from the high-wire platform!

It's always fun to see people enjoying the MusikCircus around the stage and the only admonition is if you're going to fall, please don't land on the artist.  There aren't many rules in the MusikCircus but that's one of them.

For the first time, I have the whole set list for Sonya's show last night: Call Me Sonya, Synchronicity, Hotel California, Two of Us, Big Girls, Johnny B Goode, Whenever You're Around, Shotgun

Sonya makes a very good mix of originals and covers but even her covers sound like originals in that "Hotel California" has a very different style from the original and her phrasing takes the song to a whole new place.  Most of her work is original and "Whenever You're Around" is Cat's song because it has such beautiful lyrics.  Whenever you're around, my feet never touch the ground.

If you like the set list, contact Sonya as Cat Boucher loves to help performers grow within Second Life and real life too.  She would love to hear of Sonya playing more shows. You can learn more about her music at Sonya Jevette's Web site and you can hear full-band arrangements of her songs, buy her CDs, and more.

Julie Juliesse's feet never came close to touching the ground from the trapeze

Julie's feet sure did touch the ground for the "Big Girls" song as that one is always a highlight and if Sonya gets tired of singing it, you sure can't tell it.

From left to right: Julie Juliesse, Sonya Jevette, Silas Scarborough

You may wonder where was Cat but she was watching. She doesn't go up onto the stage unless people are shy about dancing.

It's wonderful that so many new people came to the show last night but what tells you the most about a show is how many come back who have seen it before.

And Cat and I danced ... with a whole lot of other people:

I apologise for my reporting skills as I don't have all the names of the people but perhaps it's just as well as this wasn't all of them and it would be much better to thank everyone who came.

Laralette Lane

Laralette Lane is a German singer and solo acoustic / electric guitar artist streaming live from the Netherlands.  Lara plays and sings a variety of covers from John Denver, Billy Joel, Chris Isaac, The Cure, Green Day, R.E.M, and many others.  She has been playing guitar and singing for over 20 years now.

Lara is just as sweet and charming in disposition as she is in the picture and she has the most adorable giggle for just about anything.   She was thinking out loud of what she might play next and I said this is the circus, play whatever you want.  She replied that she always plays whatever she wants. Yes! That is exactly the right answer for the MusikCircus.

Lara sings with equal facility in Dutch, German, or English.  She sings cover songs and this wouldn't typically be a match for a performance at the Circus but it's the way she sings them and the ones she chooses which make the difference.  She has a beautiful voice and it is utterly charming.  Her choice of songs is unpredictable and last night she even sang "Lili Marlene."  It's a pretty song but still may seem an unusual choice so see above about Lara playing what she wants.  She did an excellent job of it.

Agleo had been trying to get to a show for several nights and she arrived last night but she did get there and here she is admiring Laralette's set:

Perhaps you ask why people perform in Second Life. Why, indeed.  Do unicorns come to your shows?

Agleo is April Turner on Facebook and she paints extraordinary works. She too is a charming lady and, assuming a progressive sense of art, you will almost certainly appreciate her work.

Paris Obscur

Paris Obscur is a French singer / composer who classifies his genre of music as dark romance.  He sings with enormous power and deep passion to bring stories from his life, not only a few of which are tragic but nevertheless are extraordinarily beautiful.  These are not simply stories of his personal woes but rather of the life all around him and in the telling he sings of the life around us all.

If you are not sure of the picture of musical sensuality in Second Life, here's one:

Paris Obscur sang at Cat's Art MusikCircus tonight and perhaps you see the power in his eyes.  Perhaps it's threatening to you and perhaps it is exciting at the same time.  So it is with Paris as he sings with immense power but it's not to overwhelm.  He sings to release the passion he feels for something which has affected him deeply.

My favorite example of the darkness of his passion is in singing about getting into the mind of a rapist.  Raping an unwilling woman is abhorrent and yet a dark fantasy but Paris doesn't shy away from addressing things directly.  In part the song helped a woman Paris knew understand what was motivating the rapist.  At first she was horrified but then she found peace from it.  At the same time, the song sings toward the darkest fantasy of some unknown number of men.

The head-on approach of Paris' lyrics is what makes them so sensual and passionate.  His lyrics are directly provocative but not in any sensational way.  He addresses things that have happened in his life either to him or people he knows and these things affect his soul.  It's not so much that he sings a song but the pain in his voice is so sometimes so obviously deeply-felt that it seems he tries to exorcise it.

There are multiple sides to Paris Obscur and he's also thoughtful and gentle.

Here it looks like perhaps he questions why is it this way or he calls out please don't forget me.  He portrays the most elemental aspects of human desire and his directness bring a brutal sexuality which can also be gentle and loving.  The dichotomy in all of us on exactly this is what makes his music so compelling.  How much of your own darkness will you reveal and how much could you reveal.

The orchestration Paris uses is fascinating as he must experiment with a tremendous number of voices.  His primary instrument is a piano but he gives it special nuances of sound that may bring honky tonk or a Circus in a scene from a Fellini movie.  I even heard a harp at one point as Paris will experiment with many types orchestration to find whatever exactly tells the story he wants.  He's very much a perfectionist on this and will go off to a retreat for months when he mixes his songs.

A remarkable thing is that he can make a standard rock band orchestration (i.e. keys, guitar, bass, and drums) sound innovative as it's divergent from his other songs which may not even use any guitar.  When he does bring one, it's large as his chords are highly aggressive and he plays with a lot of power that's heavily-metallic or grunge, if you like.  He doesn't play virtuoso leads as keyboard players usually don't but he knows exactly what he wants from the guitar and he plays it.

One measure of a set is when people keep coming to the show and they don't leave.  When people can teleport out of a place in a millisecond, it's great success in Second Life when they don't.  The next measure is when you play for the hour of set but keep going and they still don't leave.  That's rare but that's what happens with Paris.  He sings until it is time not to sing and he won't stop before.  His audience stays with him until the last note.

Paris doesn't screw around so neither will I.  This is where you can buy his music and I strongly recommend you do:  Buy Paris Obscur's latest CD (another is on the way)

The reasons for the strong recommendation are his songs are incredible and he is a perfectionist for mastering the CD to bring out the best sound possible from them.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Phoenix J

Phoenix J is an English singer / composer who has toured all over the world and has had a wonderful reception.  She once sang and toured with a band called Greenhaus and here is one reaction to it:

Greenhaus, who managed to enlighten me already with their live performances last year, have done it again this year to brighten up the late Fall with a beam of sunshine, similar to Sigur Ros, who managed to do this just two months earlier. (Electric Diary - Germany)

The thing that strikes me most about Phoenix J's performance at Cat's Art MusikCircus is the difference between her original songs and her covers.  She likes to do her jazzy-style version of cover songs but I think it's the entertainer in her telling her to bring these to you.  That isn't a criticism as she knows her job and she has been doing it for quite some time.

At one time, Phoenix J was putting together a girl band called JUNKK and she is a smart lady so I imagine she knows this is American slang for one's, erm, gentleman's area.  The play on that fact by a girl band could be most amusing as part of the comedy would be seeing people who think the girls don't get it.

Phoenix knows a lot about entertaining as she was also touring with a band called Greenhouse and I believe they were playing around Europe.  I'm not familiar with the band and I'm sure they were better-known in England and on continental Europe.

Entertaining is one thing but originals are in a different world and you can tell it very much with the depth of Phoenix J's original songs.  You know at every moment in the song that it comes from her heart, the story comes from her life, and this is a real thing.  Covers can be pretty, fun, entertaining, all kinds of nice things but they can't be what an original can bring and Phoenix does it beautifully.

To my taste, Phoenix would have to do no covers ever as her originals are excellent.  She takes more chances, uses more elaborate chords and changes, and does all the things that shows the engagement of her soul in what it becomes.  If you ever have to find the real Phoenix, ask her to sing a cover song and then ask her to sing one of her originals.  You'll know.

Reis and Aldo

Reis Alter sings and Aldo Brizzi accompanies her with his synthesizers.  Both are marvelous musicians and Reis sings in a beautiful, ethereal style while Aldo plays anything from a relatively-soft backup to songs with extremely powerful arrangement and orchestration.  One might think this combination would not work well but the result is intriguing and mystical.

Last night was the Golden New Ears show by Reis Alter and Aldo Brizzi at Cat Boucher's Art MusikCircus and it was a surprise as they're going to be in Brasil for a month and we didn't think they would be able to perform again in Second Life after the show last week.  Last night they gave a wonderful Golden performance and there's another surprise as they will perform yet one more time next week before departing.

Here is a picture of Reis being all Golden on-stage with Aldo and his synthesizers beside her:

The marvel in their performance is that Reis sings with such delicacy while Aldo provides massive power through his synthesizers. The combination isn't something you would likely predict to work but it's marvelous to hear and creates a music unlike anything you have probably heard before. Reis is a marvelous singer and Aldo is an extremely talented synthesizer / computer artist. You can learn more about their music on Aldo Brizzi's Web site.

Something I realised is that I love it that they're married because you can feel that loving dynamic in their music and it makes me imagine what a wonderful thing it must be when they're creating music in their home.  The hills are alive with the sound of music and so must be their home.

I mention their marriage not to be precious but rather because it adds something tangible to their performance and I have no doubt you will feel it too.   It's not anything they say as I don't believe I've even heard them mention their marriage but I'm sure you will feel what it gives.

I'm not sure of dates but I do know that Reis and Aldo will be giving a performance at another venue and Medora will be appearing with them as she choreographs the show and dances with them.  I saw the three of them perform together at the MusikCircus and it was fantastic so I asked Cat if she would like to go to see them for this one.  She's not at all provincial about only seeing shows at her own venue so we will see that performance as well.

If you don't think Reis and Aldo will bring love to you then take a look at this one:

Cat and I are dancing and we were still dancing even after the show was over.  Neither of us were looking for love as she was looking for music and I was looking for cool places to play but love isn't something you bring to each other, rather it is something that finds you when you're ready for it.  Love found us and I'm most proud to announce that Cat is now my partner.  My friend Julie was laughing, saying you never even kissed her and, nope, I never did but love takes many forms and one just has to be open to it.

Michi Renoir

Michi is an Austrian musician with an extensive history in music, most recently with the punk band, R√§umungalarm (Evacuation Alarm), but he is equally comfortable playing Stockhausen.  Michi isn't playing a punk set in Second Life but rather he plays a number of intricate synthesizer pieces with an extraordinary style.

Michi Renoir did not do the all-out jam show of the previous week and instead did his interpretation of Stockhausen.  This is the same man whose last RL gig was in a punk band.

While wearing a cowboy hat for Stockhausen might seem a little unusual anywhere else, this is the MusikCircus and it goes however you want.

I was a bit disappointed and leery of what might come when I heard Michi Renoir would not be doing a show like the one he did last week but, like I said, this is the MusikCircus where the performers are never told what to play.  What came was an extraordinary performance which went at times to atonal and then back at others to quite beautiful melodies.  The performance was highly-dramatic and very powerful.

Note that drama is not a bad thing, it's melodrama that's the stock in trade for 'drama queens,' etc.  Drama is a quite excellent thing, an exciting thing, and I definitely mean it as a compliment in describing Michi's performance.

As to what I personally prefer, I don't think it really matters all that much as what does matter in this reporting is what you prefer. For you to decide on whether you want to come to a show, I need to report accurately what I heard so you can make up your own mind.

However, don't expect Michi to be playing Stockhausen again next week as he said he will do a dance show for that one.  OK, so we go with it.  This is how it works at Cat's Art MusikCircus.

Option Y

Left to right: Muskie, StubbyJack, Kithereal

Option Y plays in Providence, Rhode Island, and the band has three members: Muskie on guitar and synth, StubbyJack on guitar, and Kithereal on synth.  The played their debut set at Cat's Art MusikCircus and it was outstanding.

The picture doesn't reveal it but there's much more of a vocal component to their songs than you may guess.  Some of the songs are sung and others have a 'vocal component' which isn't a negative thing but it's not exactly four-part harmony either.  This band will go out to places you don't expect and that's exactly why Cat tries to find acts like this for the MusikCircus.

Good luck on characterizing the sound of Option Y as there's jazz, prog-rock, and call the combination fusion if you like but those are only words and band is beyond them.  The orchestration is rich and the bottom end would play just fine in a concert hall as those were thunder drums.  If you want to hear Allan Holdsworth in the band or Tony Banks playing keys then you will but the best vibe is when you take them as Option Y and go with that sound. Their songs are tight, engaging, and fascinating to follow.

Plus, did you ever see so many butterflies in your life!

I didn't do it and I don't know who did but that was one great stunt. There were butterflies everywhere!

This was when StubbyJack commented that releasing a bunch of butterflies in front of three cats in the middle of a set may not be your best plan.  Maybe I neglected to mention that all the members of the bands are cats and, sure, they're hep cat musicians but they are also really cats with all the whiskers and fascination for catching butterflies that entails.

Introducing Kithereal

Introducing Muskie

Introducing StubbyJack

And one more just because it's a good angle

Silas Scarborough

Silas Scarborough / Alan Fraser has been playing guitar for decades and things really got started with The Freezebirds in Cincinnati.  Prior to that had been The Rot but the band formed and then rotted in the same night.  However, that was not before giving birth to "Don't Bury Your Dead," a song which is unfortunately now lost to history and infamy.

Silas enjoys playing with a looper to permit recording some music in real-time and then playing lead guitar and/or singing over the top of it.  He also uses back tracks with recordings of him playing bass and keyboards as he is after the richest sound he can possibly get.

Video integration of RL and SL Silas.  Note use of extreme visuals with lasers and flashing lights which may be disturbing to some.


Vandengroef flew back to Cat's Art MusikCircus and that was after two months down with a whacked wing.   It's not bad enough the Van is hurt but the guitar is sitting in the rack just begging for a little love.  Only Van can hear her but Van hears her loud and clear. For two months nothing can be done ... until tonight.

Vandengroef gets right away into refractive groovulosity and at first that was just a whimsical expression for music to cool to describe but it might even have actual meaning.  Groovulosity isn't really a word anyway so we can make it mean anything we want and what we want is 'the mellifluosity of the groove.'  Refraction only means waves like sound or light bounce when they go through something and they move in a different direction as a result.

Therefore refractive groovulosity is when Van finds the groove and it enters the prestidigitational process within Van's mind of many paths and mirrors. The new groovulosity is then refracted in multiple different directions by those many paths and mirrors and thus it travels n-dimensions of the physical and metaphysical realms to reach us.

See, you thought it didn't mean anything.

There were a few bumps and it's pointless to say cables are evil. There are three primary purposes to all music cables:

- Trip you
- Electrocute you
- Cause ground loops to ruin your hippie sound

Any purpose other than those three which a cable may serve is purely secondary.

So it was exceptionally cool see / hear Van back on the Circus stage, wing all fixed, and playing that refractive groovulosity.

Vandengroef said he is getting the feel for the Circus and you can feel that in his music.   There were two shows to start out that got his equipment all set and ever since he gets more and more comfortable with playing there and getting it that it really is just right to play whatever you like at the Circus.  He doesn't have to say he feels better as you can tell it through the music.

Vandengroef doesn't come out to dazzle you as his thinking is similar to mine in that I will take a musical journey and I hope you will want to come along.  I'm not going to compare our music and the reason I mention myself at all is that Phoenix will be in Singapore on April 9 so Cat asked if I would like to play instead.  Sure enough so Vandengroef and I talked with both of us saying we would be happy to open but I insisted he is the guest so it's his call.  So, Vandengroef will open on April 9 and I will play the second set.  That's a month away but it's cool to anticipate.

Pyro was mentioned and I don't know if it was made clear enough last night so here again: if you have bombs, definitely bring them!  The only concern with pyro is that aerials will usually blow off higher than the circus tent will permit.  If you want to get nuts with pyro, it might be best to do it on the other ground-level stage at the Circus as there is no roof on it.

What makes Vandengroef musically interesting is the way he plays with rhythms and he's using any sound he thinks is right to give a subtlety that draws you into it.   He uses an RC50 looper, the same as mine, but, as with most instruments, there are many ways to do it and he doesn't use his in the same way as I use mine.   Maybe some think these loopers are musical fluff but Phoenix uses one also.  When she does "Mack the Knife," she's using a looper to play the piano and the ukelele at the same time.  There's no need in this context to write a monologue on the musical value of a looper but use of them by solo artists is much more common than you might think and a looper gives a soloist freedoms never possible before.

Vandengroef makes a cool vibe for dancing, dreaming, traveling ... but ... alas ... I do not have a picture of Cat and I dancing as we busted the dance ball.  That sounds perverse but it really isn't and we haven't fixed it yet because it works for everyone else.  The only perversity is that it fails for the woman who provided it and that's just not fair.  We will get it fixed.

All of us talked for a while after the set as jsmn had come about halfway through the show.  Vandengroef was feeling good from how the set had gone over and was looking forward to checking out the recording as his concern is the same as mine: did the audience hear the same thing I was hearing.  Many times listening to the recording of a set is a painful discipline but I suspect Vandengroef will be pleased with what was captured last night.  It was a great set musically and a pleasant chat after so the vibe was cool throughout.

Voodoo Shilton

Voodoo Shilton is a guitarist playing in the United States but he is greatly influenced by the tastes of his mother who was born in Chile.  He plays in Latin, Cuban, Africa styles and mostly he leans toward jazz songs such as covers of Chick Corea and Django Reinhardt along with his own originals. He is an excellent guitarist who can play very quickly but he can also play with great delicacy. Voodoo has won at least one artist award in Second Life for the quality of his performances.

The astute observer has probably already determined this is not Voodoo Shilton but magical things happen in Cat's Art MusikCircus.  The magic doesn't typically turn a man into a beautiful six-inch fairy flying around the circus tent so this must be Vala and thank you for being patient while I took the picture.

Voodoo Shilton started out with "Moroccan Blue" and it's an exotic style of jazz I've not heard from anyone else as his mix of instruments and his rhythms are his own.  In jazz you will usually hear a piano or possibly a Hammond B3 organ but that's not what Voodoo does as his synth will recall the sound of the Moody Blues more than it will a jazz band ... and yet it works.  There's mysticism coming from the synth because the sound is wonderfully spacious and against that he plays incredibly precise acoustic guitar.

Voodoo laughed when I said he is so precise and he said he makes mistakes all the time. Maybe so ... but just try and catch him. The amazement in Voodoo's play is that he is brilliantly fast but it's not baffle them with bullshit speed. Every note is clear and concise regardless of whether he plays faster than a Daytona racer or with immense delicacy in something soulful and reflective.

It was a delight to hear Voodoo playing again as there are lots of tough things happening in a great many lives and music is the salvation in how it can make tough things endurable.   It was a beautiful set and it's been some weeks since I have heard him so that made it all the sweeter to hear him now.

lefty Unplugged

Lefty is a musician performing in the United Kingdom and he is a brilliant lyricist.  His words are highly imaginative and are always penetrating yet there is a romance to all of them.  He accompanies his songs with electric guitar or acoustic guitars and he has an excellent technique for improvised play.  Sometimes he will play an instrumental number and will make it up as he goes, mixing chords on a looper with a magical style of lead that comes as wind blowing through the trees.

Lefty Unplugged was improvising from the first note last night at Cat's Art MusikCircus and he also wore his yellow slippers so let's get a good look at those.

Whether the bunny slippers have anything to do with magic or improvisation is left for the interested student to determine. What I do know is that Lefty Unplugged / Kevin Farrell launched into a brilliant looper improvisation that was intricate but with sophisticated dynamics and which has buried anyone's thought that he's not much of a guitar player. If you've read previous reports, you know I never believed that anyway but he was really on a tear last night, making it up as he went along.

The name of that first one was "There It Was ... Gone" and now he knows I really do take notes (laughs).  The song had no name before he started as the name came after he was finished and I'm pretty sure he didn't record it so there was was ... and now it's gone, except for anyone who heard it.

This is one of the biggest attractions and intrigues in me for music in that one can't keep it.  It can be frozen on a CD but it will never be live again, the CD just lets you listen to it one more time.  That transience is a magical thing and Lefty understands it well.   Early in the show, Ellie asked if anyone had heard about Boston (i.e. event in the news) and I had but I didn't want it intruding on the show so I hadn't said anything. The conversation was short and I don't think Lefty saw it as I'm sure it would have affected his music.

lefty Unplugged feels things very much, everything from a fox with bad case of mange that comes around his place to a flock of sparrows he has adopted.  Much has been said online recently about his performances but it comes from a selfish and deliberately-misinformed source.  The man's sensitivity is quite apparent and it shows in every note he plays, every note he sings.

It was a brilliant performance and Lefty was casually throwing out some stunning lead lines on the guitar.  This wasn't grandstanding at all as you wouldn't probably even realise it if you weren't paying attention, they whizzed by that fast.  Despite his protestations to the contrary, he's an excellent guitarist and I still wonder if there's a dirty little heavy metal secret in his past.

Kristopher Walpole

Kristopher is a musician from the U.K. who plays and sings with great power and intensity. His lyrics are excellent and he has a marvelous voice for singing them.

Kristopher started out with some fairly sweet songs and I do confess to egging him on a little bit as artists always dig it when you already know something of their material.  I wasn't faking anything as I was asking for songs I had heard there that I thought the audience would enjoy.  The romantic songs went over fairly well but what really kicked up the set was after I requested "American Highway" which, I believe, is one of his originals.  I'm not taking credit for kicking up the set as he did that but I do confess to trying to steer it a bit.

When Kristopher went into "American Highway" he started delivering the punch that had originally drawn me to his music on SoundCloud and the audience was obviously responding to it.  My suggestion to him is to bag the cover songs and keep punching out originals like that.  They're powerful, exciting and a great pleasure to hear.

If you couldn't attend Kristopher Walpole's show, you can hear "American Highway" and other of his originals on SoundCloud.

Untolerable Bohemian

Untolerable Bohemian is a young man from Portugal and what he will play is unpredictable.  For now he is quite taken with doing cover songs but that doesn't at all mean he plays them anything like you ever heard on a CD.  If he's going to cover a song, he's going to do it in his own way.  Also, Untolerable doesn't grandstand in his guitar playing style.  He plays exactly what needs to be played and nothing more and he can be eloquent in the way he does it.

You've seen multiple reports I've written about Untolerable Bohemian's performances but this was, hands down, the best so far.  His electric guitar has been hovering in the background for some time and we did hear it recently ... but ... last night Untolerable came out to play.  For well over half an hour he was getting into one jam groove after the other and going off into explorations.  That may seem like he did a lot of tunes but that isn't what I mean.  Actually he did four or five pieces but all of them flowed with the same kind of exploratory vibe and it was excellent.

Introspection has been given a dirty name by social networks.  In fact, introspection is now synonymous with self-adoring / self-pitying crap but what it really means is something you already understand or you wouldn't be here.  Untolerable's play last night was highly introspective and it was fantastic.   This isn't about self-absorption but rather about opening a gateway to another world.

Singing is very important to Untolerable and I don't know how he will weave that into his original jams but that's a challenge before him as a musician and ours is to listen and enjoy.  For my part, I want to encourage as much as I possibly can what Untolerable was doing last night as I considered it some profoundly beautiful musicianship.