A-V Offerings

MUSIC: Venus On Earth by Dengue Fever — If maybe like me you have a hard time finding new music that’s unique, different and fun, yet also with some cultural depth, then Dengue Fever is the band for you. The Los Angeles group mixes Cambodian pop with garage rock (and draw in such other diverse strains as Indian, Iraqi, Ethiopian and surf music) into a delightfully picturesque sound that’s catchy, offbeat and charming as all get out. Singer Chhom Nimol is an actual Cambodian pop star who sings in Khmer and English, and the end result is a truly international music that’s irresistible.

DVD DOCUMENTARY: New York by Ric Burns — The story of New York City is also the story of America, as this comprehensive and fascinating seven-part, nearly 15-hour film makes plain if not obvious. Yes, to an ex-New Yorker such as myself (who still feels it’s my spiritual home), the film is utterly compelling, but it’s also engaging and informative to anyone who has any interest at all in the American urban experience. As our nation’s biggest and most important city—and as I like to call it, the center of the universe—New York is the place where all the most important human, social, cultural and political aspects of America were stirred together in a cauldron that was a true melting pot. Issues that we continue to face today—immigration, race, class, economics, labor and unionism, modernity and technology and more—are part and parcel of the story of New York. It’s time well spent that leaves you entertained, informed and enlightened.

BOOK: The Musician’s Guide to the Road by Susan Voelz — Full disclosure: Voelz is a friend who hired me to write a press release and bio for this book’s publication. I found when she sent me an advance copy, it’s a great read with lots of humor, insight and fun anecdotes that gets inside what it’s really like for a touring musician. Next time you go see a band that’s on the road, if you wonder what it took for them to get there and what the process is like, Voelz—a rock violinist who plays with Poi Dog Pondering and Alejandro Escovedo and a solo act in her own right—covers the gamut with wit and panache. And if you are a working musician who tours or plans to, this book is essential.

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2008

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