Today at work I had a minor Twitter triumph with a post about restoring audio tape by baking it in a convection oven. And while I didn’t have to do anything that advanced, I also successfully restored my first cassette at home this weekend.
I found this tape last time I was home in Sacramento, with “Candlestick Script Marlene” handwritten on it. Marlene is my mom’s name, so I was hoping it was something she recorded, maybe even with her voice on it. The tape had come off one of the reels, so I opened it up, Scotch taped it back on, and wound it back up.
Nothing earth-shattering on it, though. Just a collection of Benny Goodman songs. But maybe they were all my mom’s favorites, and maybe she would listen to it in her little Datsun, and that’s pretty cool.
The opening song, now a little warbled due to my shoddy handiwork:
Today is my birthday! So I’m posting this recording of Kepi Ghoulie playing his “Happy Birthday” song that I forgot to post on my brother’s birthday.
Allan came to visit Washington, D.C., for Thanksgiving, and then we got to see Kepi with the Mean Jeans as his backing band at Comet Ping Pong in December. It was a hella Sac throwback. Since the last time I saw Kepi was an acoustic show, nice and mellow, it was a jolt to see him thrashing around on stage. The birthday song was for one of the Mean Jean Moms, who all live in the D.C. suburbs.
They played another one of our favorites (though I still prefer the Kirsty MacColl version on my favorite mixtape Allan made for our parents), “A New England.”
Any advice on stupid, irresponsible things I should do in the last year of my twenties?
This winter I have biked in the rain and through the snow, wiped out in ice, and tasted road salt. It’s the gloomiest time of year, but we have to remember to find small adventures and musical sources of warmth.
When it's the dead of winter by Elisa Hough on Mixcloud
LISTENING NOTES: Continue reading
Ten years ago on this night, I walked into a UC Davis lecture hall, and my life changed forever. No, I didn’t find a new favorite author or a new major—nothing that would go on my transcript. I discovered a whole new world of underground music and community media. It was my first KDVS volunteer class.
Over the seven years I DJ’ed, three years I served on staff, and ten years I’ve volunteered (in various capacities, to varying degrees), I learned so much about belonging to and being an active part of a community. KDVS was my home base in college, where I knew there would always be friendly faces, good tunes, and a comfy couch. Even when I visit now, surrounded by much younger DJs, I still feel like this is where I belong—the same feeling I had when I got my first hip-hop lecture and station tour on December 15, 2004.
Since my last love letter to KDVS, I moved across the country for a job that I couldn’t have gotten, wouldn’t have even known about, without the enriching, invigorating, (sometimes enraging) experiences I had in 14 Lower Freeborn Hall.
To celebrate, and to shake off some of the impending winter doldrums, here is my first daytime radio show from the beginning of summer 2006.
Analog Oatmeal: Summer Pop by Elisa Hough on Mixcloud
By the end of next month, I’ll have been playing gamelan for eight years. I started out very timidly in the UC Davis Gamelan Ensemble, jammed once with the Evergreen State College instructor in Olympia, twice with the Geidai arts university in Okinawa, a year with the Los Angeles consulate, and now over a year at the Indonesian Embassy.
At the embassy, we’ve been practicing this epic wayang theater piece, Andhe Andhe Lumut, for several months. In May I challenged myself to the gongs, the largest and loudest instruments—which is fun for me as the smallest and quietest member. Sometimes it takes a bit of contorting to reach every kempul and some juggling with three different mallets, and that’s why I love it.
This recording is just an excerpt, but it’s some of my favorite parts. It sounds pretty echoey in the embassy’s ballroom instead of our basement practice space.
Our trip to Europe was full of highlights, but one serendipitous night stands out. By chance, our time in Italy matched the tour schedule of Tom Brosseau, a folk singer from North Dakota via Los Angeles who often played in Davis and put out a record called Grass Punks this year on my pal Michael Leahy’s label.
Tom played in a little co-work studio called CO+ in Padova, a river town 25 miles inland from Venice. It was such a treat to see a familiar face and hear a familiar voice (speaking a language I speak!) 4,300 miles from my home, 6,100 miles from the last place I saw him!
I made a request from the new album, “Tami”:
But my favorite song of the night was an oldie, “West of Town”:
Keep an eye out for this guy on both U.S. coasts this winter (some dates with John C. Reilly) and another record out on Crossbill in February.
On a search for new sounds, sights and smells in Bologna, Italy, I found the bulk of buskers in Piazza Maggiore, the center hub of the radial Roman city. This brass duo was pretty good. Mostly I like seeing tubas out in the wild.
The accordion player was not bad either, although I gave him some euros and he didn’t even smile! By that point he was being drowned out and I was being lured away by these guys across the plaza…
Electric guitar with battery-powered amp, and a drum set of a bucket, paint can, busted coffee can, metal disc, and Tibetan singing bowl. This Eddie Veder soundalike and dreamboat of a drummer attracted the biggest crowd, stationed in front of the Fountain of Neptune. It took about the length of this recording to feel like I had fallen in love.