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Thanks to WSO for an Excuse to Debate Pop Music

This WSO discussion raises the question, which decade had better music, the 80’s or the 90’s?  (The thread also asks for the ten best songs of each decade … even as a prolific drafter of top-10 lists, I find that to be a nearly impossible task, but I will aim to list my top ten bands of each decade).  I am fairly objective here, having split my formative music appreciation years between those decades, and in my mind, the answer is easy.  A few caveats: I am limiting this to pop / rock / alternative, given my relatively limited knowledge of country, metal and rap / hip-hop.  Also, I am excluding from consideration bands that, roughly, were equally prominent in each decade, such as U2, Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Sinead O’Connor (if the bulk of a band’s best work clearly came in one decade, however, that decade earns the right to claim that band).  Arriving at a list of top ten bands for each decade yielded a clear winner overall to a question that I initially thought would be tougher.  I am curious to hear others’ thoughts, as well as others’ suggestions for the top songs or bands of each decade.  More below the break.

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“The magic of their singing …”

More on the Yale recruiting video post of 22 January, 2010.

This article in The New Yorker.

“Boola” Dept._ Irony 101 _ The New Yorker

(will require first click to get to reference, then a second click to get to source)


Concert: Dar Williams and Caitlin Canty ’04

From Matthew Law ’10:

One of the most well-loved and critically acclaimed folk artists of her generation, Dar Williams has recorded 10 studio albums since her debut in 1995. Come watch her perform in an intimate setting—with special guest Caitlin Canty ’04—as part of the January performing arts series brought to you by the WSP Contemporary Singer/Songwriter class.

When: 8 PM,  Jan. 20 (tonight!)

Where: Goodrich Hall

This event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 7pm, and the coffee bar will serve refreshments until the show begins at 8pm. Please join us!

To find out more, visit:


Sondheim ’50 Article and Event

The New York Times ran a long piece on Stephen Sondheim revival fever this week.

Among the quotes from Sondheim in the story:

“I’ve reached an age where I’m two generations past when I was considered avant-garde. I went right from avant-garde to being old hat in five minutes, and you start to feel superannuated,” he said. “With every new generation, popular art changes. Already there’s a generation that thinks the Beatles are old-fashioned, which I find screamingly funny. The same thing is true of plays and musicals. People need things loud and fast. That’s one of the things that I like about ‘Little Night Music.’ The musical says: Slow down. Slow down and think.”

I can’t recall Sondheim appearing on campus at any point in the last few decades (correct me if I’m mistaken …).  That is about to change when Frank Rich interviews Sondheim at Chapin Hall on January 23.  What an amazing opportunity to see, in person, arguably the most famous living Eph alum, and the greatest musical composer of his (or any?) generation …

I keep waiting for Jason Howland ’93, whose show Little Women made it to Broadway but who has since been relatively quiet, to follow in Sondheim’s enormous footsteps.  Howland wrote and produced two AMAZING musicals while an undergrad at Williams.  Supremely talented guy.


Zambezi Marimba Band

Two YouTube videos of one of the cooler campus organizations:

Take it Easy

La Bamba

I hope they upload more …


Darlingside releases demo

Find “Surround” here, along with a new website. Play button is in the top left, along with a link to download for free. The band previously released an EP over two years ago, still available on iTunes.

From the comments: (slightly edited for vertical space)
For anyone who is not familiar with Darlingside, they began performing a lot in the 2006-2007 academic year as a band of 7 Williams kids.

After half of them graduated and one went abroad, they took a year hiatus and then reformed last year as a group of 5, adding one new member to their ranks:

Sam Kapala ‘09, Don Mitchell ‘06, Auyon Mukharji ‘07, Harris Paseltiner ‘09, David Senft ‘07

Former members include:
(Dan Wollin ‘07), (Shea Chen ‘07), (Eli Walker)

They were hot stuff–”the” campus band back in the day–and they continue to be hot stuff. They all live together about an hour from Wutown. They are mad good, and let’s hope they make it!


The Mary J. Blige of Acoustic Folk …

… not quite sure what that means, but that is the moniker attributed to Molly Venter ’02 in this effusive profile.  You can listen to some of her music here and here … kind of an Ani DiFranco vibe.  You can also find numerous videos of her performances on YouTube.  The multi-talented Venter was an All-American field hockey player as an Eph.


Music Notes

From the Music dept. Facebook page, a couple of events of interest to readers in or near New York:

Saturday, September 12, 2009 at 1:40pm

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am delighted to invite you all to my two upcoming performances in New York of Chopin’s Piano Concerto #1 in E Minor with the Manchester Chamber Orchestra…

I invite you to the following concerts in NYC:

Friday October 2, 2009 at Trinity Church in New York City – Concert begins at 1:00 PM
74 Trinity Place
New York, NY 10006
(212) 602-0700

Sunday, October 4, 2009 at Barge Music in Brooklyn – Concert begins at 3:00 PM

2 Old Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 624-2083

I would be so happy to see you there – these concerts are very exciting for me!
Best wishes,
Adam Neiman, pianist

I highly recommend going. Both the Trinity Church and Barge Music are lovely venues for music.

Also, Joanna Kurkowicz released a new CD:

CHANDOS RECORDS: Violin Concertos No.1, 3 and 7 by Grazyna Bacewicz with the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under Lukasz Borowicz. Available on Amazon, Arkivmusic, Itunes and many other classical music websites…

The recording was enthusiastically hailed in the GUARDIAN by Andrew Clements: “…superbly played selection… It is an interesting collection, and Joanna Kurkowicz is a keenly alert soloist in all three works… They are wonderfully idiomatic works, colourfully scored and always interesting.”–7-etc/

Norman Lebrecht of La SCENA MUSICALE wrote:”…Bacewicz’ music speaks with unerring agreeable directness. Joanna Kurkowicz expounds some extraordinary solo monologues, opening up the composer’s inner world like August sunflower…”

And they’ve introduced a lame program to encourage students to attend arts, music, and theatre on campus (while the goal is one I wholeheartedly approve of, Williams students shouldn’t need any extra incentive to take advantage of the amazing performances that happen regularly at Williams):

Welcome to Williams Passport to the Arts. This program is designed to encourage students to experience the broad spectrum of arts–music, art, theater, and dance–happening at Williams.

Your Passport will allow you to keep track of your travels and is redeemable for prizes! Prizes will be awarded to the first four people submitting a completed Passport in one of the below categories. Once a Passport has been submitted for a prize, it cannot be used again. Passports will ONLY be stamped at the end of a performance or event.

For Music Events, listen for the announcement at the beginning of the concert for where to go to get your stamp. You’ll find Jenny, Jonathan or an event manager who will then stamp your passport at the end of the concert.

And from greylocknews:

Watcha Clan World Music Dance Party at MCLA September 30

Marseille-based Watcha Clan brings their socially progressive agenda and complex tapestry of musical styles to MCLA’s Venable Gymnasium Wednesday, September 30, at 8 p.m.  The opening act is Paper Cliché, featuring MCLA student Mike Martin ’11. Tickets are $12 general admission, $8 for MCLA alumni, $5 for MCLA faculty and staff and non-MCLA students with valid id, and free for MCLA students and members.

Tickets are $10 for concertgoers who attend the North Adams mayoral debate before the show at the Church Street Center.  Call the box office at (413) 662-5204 for reservations.

Donna Creighton & Marc Zegans Perform at Bascom Lodge September 30

Adams, MA – On September 30 at 6 pm Donna Creighton & Marc Zegans will perform at Bascom Lodge atop Mount Greylock!

In this unique double bill, two of North America’s most original and inventive voices present a richly layered exploration of love, loss and what follows in its wake.  This gorgeous evening of song and spoken word is not to be missed.

Free and open to the public.

To be followed by a prix fixe dinner (call for dinner reservations) 413-743-1591.

And on campus, Ronald Feldman gives a cello recital entitled Before and After, at Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall, on 10/02/2009 – 8:00pm. It’s also great to see that the Midweek Music series is still going strong. Next week will be a Bach Cello Suite performed by Feldman and a Beethoven sonata played by Christine Bowman ’11.


Chopin with a side of Beethoven

Joe Shippee ’07 will be performing a piano concert this Friday at 8pm at the Bechstein Centre – 207 West 58th St. (near 7th ave) in Manhattan. The theme is “Chopin with a Side of Beethoven”. Joe and his friend Christopher Schmitt (Juilliard ’09) will each be playing a selection of solo piano pieces, mostly from Chopin.

More details about the performers and the pieces to be performed here.

Entrance is free and the concert should last until 9:30pm or shortly thereafter. You’re welcome to bring a friend. No tickets necessary, but you may want to rsvp on Facebook or by emailing joe dot shippee at gmail dot com.

Link to an earlier EphBlog post about Shippee, featuring a performance of Liszt.

I hope to see you there!


Liszt’s Totentanz

Performed by Joe Shippee ’07 and the Berkshire Symphony:


Mass MoCA Fest, Aug. 15

If you’re in the area you should definitely consider going to go to Mass MoCA fest, which will feature Josh Ritter, Ben Kweller, Elvis Perkins, and others.


Eph Music Update

Majordomo, a self described “Piano rock/hip hop/ballad/classical/melodic” band with two members of the Class of 2011, released 3 new songs within the past few weeks. Check them out here.

In addition, Darlingside is going to being touring this fall. It’s now composed of five recent Williams grads, many of whom were involved in the Winter Study Singer-Songwriter class. Look up some of their earlier songs here.

And last, for nostalgia’s sake: What a Feeling.


One Hit Wonder

This xkcd comic is a little racy for a family blog like ours, but any mention of Fountains of Wayne’s song Stacy’s Mom merits posting.

Previous EphBlog usage here, which, by the way, led to a fairly heated discussion. (Like any Obama voter, I continue to follow the debate over Palin’s veracity closely at sites like this. Forgive me for my sins against Republican orthodoxy!) I also wrote about the continuing relevance of Come on, Eileen.

xkcd is every geek’s favorite comic, but this seems wrong to me. Would you really describe Fountains of Wayne (founded by Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood, both ’89) as a one-hit wonder?


Grace Potter Concert

From a reader:

Amidst your daily take on all things Williams I’m hoping you might be willing to insert a reference to a summer event nearby. Southshire Community School in nearby North Bennington, VT is hosting a benefit concert by Grace Potter who leads the Vermont based band “Grace Potter and the Nocturnals”. I’ve included the mini-blurb below as well as the event press release and show poster.
I’d be grateful if you would consider running a quick story on the event. The Williams connection? A few professors every year choose to send their students to Southshire. Last year the school population had two students who were the children of current professors and two who were the children of a former professor – that was 10% of the total student body in our very small 40 child school.

A stretch? Maybe – but for any Williams folks in town this summer this will be a fantastic event.

Indeed. More details below:
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On a Lighter Note …

Williams receives a less-than-flattering shout out in the disturbingly accurate blog, Stuff White People Like:

If you are good at concealing laughter and contempt, you should ask a white person about “Real Hip Hop.”  They will quickly tell you about how they don’t listen to “Commercial Hip Hop” (aka music that black people actually enjoy), and that they much prefer “Classic Hip Hop.”

“I don’t listen to that commercial stuff. I’m more into the Real Hip Hop, you know?  KRS One, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, De La Soul, Wu Tang, you know, The Old School.”

Calling this style of music ‘old school’ is considered an especially apt name since the majority of people who listen to it did so while attending old schools such as Dartmouth, Bard, and Williams College.

I immediately thought back to my frosh year, when I had the good fortune of watching a Williams crowd try to get down to Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul.  I was working the lights and plugged in to the bands’ communication system.  It was enormously entertaining to hear their, ummm, frustration with the crowd’s fluency, or lack thereof, with their music.  If memory serves, it was Tribe who eventually castigated the crowd and may even have walked off the stage.  (Even more entertaining was one of the band members’ repeated attempts to direct the spotlights on certain well endowed female members of the audience).


The Mountains

The JAs for the class of 2012 will be arriving in Williamstown soon. Do they plan to learn “The Mountains” and teach it to their first years? I am here to help! Thanks to Chris Winters for passing along the sheet music (pdf) and this recording (mp3) from an Octet alumni concert with Warren Hunke ’42 conducting.


Chris also writes:

Just FYI, and relevant to your ephblog discussion of music, is that the Williams Octet, and in particular, the Octet Alumni, perform the “Songs of Williams” nearly annually at our homecoming weekend reunion concert. Yard by Yard is always a crowd pleaser and The Mountains is traditionally our closer where we ask all the alumni to stand and sing with us.

A particularly moving Williams musical moment came last Fall during the Octet Alumni’s post-concert celebration down at the Log. A young member of the football team, who had contributed to beating Amherst handily in the homecoming game that afternoon, came into the Log accompanied by his proud parents. The Octet Alumni burst into an impromptu round of Yard by Yard to honor the young man who stood, beaming, with his folks. By the end the player’s mother was in tears.

Great stuff.


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