The Zen Menu – The JK’s at Klekolo World Coffee

I’ve made much hulla and some baloo about my love and appreciation of Klekolo World Coffee (https://jasonpkrug.com/2015/03/26/when-klekolo-was-the-center-of-the-universe-2/), the home of my spiritual rebirth and purveyors of fine bean. So it seems only right that one of our rare gigs (Julie Kay and Myself, of course) is at this very place. And yes , on this very day.

And we’re bringing something special tonight. A taste of a harvest meal upcoming.

Since The Grimm Generation went on super secret hiatus, I started crafting songs about loss. Conceptual. Very real. And a record was born. Still cooking with our top scientists working on it (Hi Adam!). So what we have here is a preview of whats to come. Played live in one set. Acoustic voice and stompy foot. Cello sensuality in pluck and box. Lyric driven, image laden. We’re coming from and for the heart.

So as a delectable aperitif, the set, as it will be played tonight at 7:00 PM at Klekolo World Coffee, Court St in the grand old dame of Middletown.

For your consideration…

‘Push Play’ – ‘…whats so special about you?’
‘Twin Twisters’ – ‘…As good an epitath as any for us…’
‘Hidden Lake Smells Like Gunpowder’ – ‘There’s not enough medicine to make me feel. And EVERYTHING is medicine…’
‘Determined To Fail’ – ‘…past the cracked cross of the Evangelical warehouse’
‘Last Leaves To Fall’ – ‘… These nights, they expire. All hope. All desire…’
‘Your Body Betrays You’ – ‘… have I got your attention?’
‘Lush’ – ‘… As we wind together like vines, we bear fruit in this unbearable heat…’
‘Last Days Of Rome’ – ‘… And we squandered what we were given. It wasn’t healthy, but it was Home…’
‘Ring It Out’ – ‘I’m a bad liar. I won’t hide it. You fill me up and I get drunk with it…’
‘Believe In Me’ – ‘astral are just pricks in the dark’
‘Nu Constellations’ – ‘… aren’t we done with all the gravity of old reputations?’
‘Cut Down The Moon’ – ‘…a war was fought. No one knew….’
‘Outloud’ – ‘If you want to love me, you can love me.’
‘The Boy King’ – ‘the allure of the utter wreck, The Boy King takes another sip…’
‘Saving Grace’ – ‘…It’s intimate. But a different kind…’
‘I’ve Never Been Here Before’ – ‘I kicked some friends when they were down. I kicked up dust till I cracked the ground’
‘The End Of Mystery’ – ‘… Regards unopened, ghosts in the wire. The songs stay unwritten, nasty looks from the choir…’

And plus, paying respects to where we came from…

‘Bigger Than’ (The Grimm Generation) – ‘All my sad songs are about you now.’
‘St Joan (Of Rt 495)’ – ‘Cops are scary’

Please join us for a live viewing of the upcoming album ‘The Zen Of Losing’ as performed by Jason P. Krug (vocals, guitar) and Julie Kay (cello) at Klekolo World Coffee, Court St in Middletown, 7:00 pm sharp.

1902903_10206327317726862_2034796909521249948_n

The Zen Menu – The JK’s at Klekolo World Coffee

Brush Your Death 100 Times A Day

After a brief period of death and resurrection (I should note that I neither died nor was resurrected. I do tend to be dramatic ) I have come out the other side of this mortality wormhole with knowledge. Well….not knowledge. ….let’s call them paranoia based lessons to live by. Or die by. Whatevs.

1) when we get sick, we go into Safe Mode. All higher functions miss the Start menu and you lose all ability to color your world or place your self in the frame. It’s hard to consider the Great American Novel when your your thoughts go into rogue survival mode. It’s ok.

2) freedom of choice drives everybody crazy…..to paraphrase X. And without the ability to appropriately focus on my entertainment choices, I let go and listened to satellite radio. That’s my version of giving up. And though I understand the appeal of new music discovery, I found the content was too light, too repetitive. It was good for my distracted state, but what does that say? Is the fear that if we get overly engaged we will drive into the ocean over and over?

3) life is precious. But precious things are by their nature dull. Live agressive.

4) if you survive, show off. Go public. Maybe plan a date to show off how alive you are with a dear cello playing friend. (Klekolo, August 18th @ 7:00 pm)

jason164805gph

Brush Your Death 100 Times A Day

Your Parents Did It To Aerosmith

…And of course that makes sense, now. Here in the future (where you and I will spend the rest of our lives…). Cause look at them. Your parents, I mean.

Older and out of touch. With a ton of stories you will never hear from their lips. Good ones. Maybe a bit too much eye liner to combat the clock. Maybe Dad releases a country themed single to capture the market that he never knew existed till some Desmond Child’ish creation said ‘Hey Dad! Cornpone is the new black!’.

You listen to this decades Aerosmith and consider your folks and think ‘sure. I can see that. My parents are lame. Of course they would copulate to soundtrack music’.

And sometimes it takes a dude on a coffee buzz to adopt the Lester Bangs style of ‘wise’nd old coot’ to tell you the truth. And it may make you a bit uncomfortable hearing it. But that’s my job ….. no, jobs pay something….my calling. Yeah.

Here’s the truth: Aerosmith was once the coolest band on the planet. And your mom ran around like a tramp. And your dad followed her like a dog. God Bless America.

It’s is easy to forget….no…it is IMPOSSIBLE to remember how great 70’s Azimuth was. Not simply as ‘The USA’s Rolling Stones’ but the real skill, the real composition of a great Rock and Roll band, in every form. Live, studio, drug fueled exploits, models, childish inter-band turmoil (cause to be a Rock Star is to adopt teen hood as a lifestyle. And teens is dumb).

(Except you. Your special).

They wrote big hits, even then. ‘Dream On’ right out of the gate. ‘Mama Kin’ on that same debut record. But they really got interesting with their sophomore ‘Get Your Wings’. I suggest you go to the library (just kidding, kid)….I mean hit YouTube and find it and listen all the way down from tip to tail.

What you will note is that in the space of 2 records, they went from the blues based Boston band done good to something that started a whole new page in the Book Of Rock and Roll. ‘Lord Of The Thighs’ is page 1. I always wondered if this was Steven’s lil’ jab at the darker more Sabbath’y band of the era with that title, substituting ‘Your Thighs’ for ‘Of This World’. Alas, we will never know since Steven has clearly gone mad with syphilis and the drugs to treat syphilis (I’d like to direct the court attention to exhibit A, American Idol’…).

Aerosmith was firing on all cylinders at this point and continued with ‘Toys In The Attic’ and ‘Rocks’ and, in my opinion, deserve every blood red penny they make and throw at their butlers now based on this work.

The key to Aerosmith to me personally was always Steven Tyler and his incredible, indecipherable, single entendre lyrics and delivery of them. Tongue twisting, brilliant use of phrasing and rhyme. Really, the very first white rapper.

And his focus, which was always sex, girls, sex with girls, drugged sex with girls, sex with druggy girls. He elevated what could be considered a marginal (though fun sounding) life into real degenerate poetry. And had the voice, the linguist genius to wrap these images into unconscious on the beat jags that you find yourself singing at the most inappropriate times.

And why? Because they were young and did it like they wanted.

Like your parents. Who did it standing up. Listening to ‘Seasons Of Whither’.

aerosmith1972

Your Parents Did It To Aerosmith

See The Boss Pedal, Be The Boss Pedal: An Argument For Digital Effects In Normal Conversation

As a clear sign that I have been driven mad, I have permanently effected the affects of this particular medulla oblogata with my recording within Dante’s digital pit, I have come to the realization that digital effects are not just for music.

Furthermore, I need to make a miracle machine (which is tricky as the dog ate my engineering degree) that puts digital effects where they belong: conversations. This may require we all walk around with permanent earphones on to get the effect (big and fat), but what are words worth? They are worthless unless you can EQ them to a listenable form and then blast them through BIG reverbs.

Effects will be the new punctuation. They will say. When I create the machine. I will be hailed as yet another distraction (like iphones and Instagram and insulin) that is keeping us from becoming the species we should be, in our most perfect and docile form.

Dull. Dullllllll. Im So Bored with your plain, simply heard speeches. Do me a favor…ask me that in Flanger. Phase me, baby.

Consider how it can really emphasize the conversations you are already having?

Don’t you feel cheated when you are angry and yell at someone and it simply dissipates? Try that with a big hall reverb. Now THATS angry and impossible to ignore.

What about ordinary dull conversations with people in the grocery line? Slip in some Digital Delay…and slowly build it, so your words leave your mouth and are suddenly bouncing, bouncing everywhere, every direction, every corner and crevice of the subconcious till theres no option for anyone but to turn away and look at the Star or People Magazine.

Late night and early morning? Need to talk to people but your too wasted to form words? Compression. Everything you say will have more impact, even if that statement is ‘I’m sorry I dropped the ball on the Perkins account.’. Your manager can only admire your honesty, forthrightness and deep sonorous tones. And this is how you get a promotion.

Tryin to explain away a prior bad act? Speak clearly through a Heavy Metal distortion. Raise the gain. Speak slowly and stare directly into their eyes and watch as they get confused, a little sad and go away.

Need a lil pickup in the bedroom? Ladies love a good Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, brother. Get all Issac Hayes and shit and lay it down.

My point being that we short change ourselves in terms of appropriate dramatics. Sometimes it takes a bit o’ science.

The REAL point being this record is killing me.

(dictated but not read in Vibrato)

BOSS-Pedal-Wall

See The Boss Pedal, Be The Boss Pedal: An Argument For Digital Effects In Normal Conversation

Cool Cousins Bring You YesSongs

The winds raises the dandelion seeds, a perfect marriage of force and natural aerodynamics. And brings you a yard full of weeds. The rain brings you mud and deepening soil and you check the radio which brings you the weather. And you bring your boots out today.

And cool older cousins bring you YesSongs and let your adolescent self play among the covers, the Roger Dean Universe, let you wonder at the 8 foot by 6 foot poster that could only fit on the ceiling of a suburban cool cousin bedroom. They let you borrow this record while they go about with their cool friends, tasting all the fruit the decade of the 70’s had to offer. Things I came to recognize as that decade was reconstituted and re-imagnined into ‘Dazed and Confused’ and ‘That 70’s Show’. And Stoner Rock.

Cool Cousins who took the time to treat you nicely, like family, and share with you. Whose natural excitement and nature would have them talk to you like an adult though you were far from one? And you appreciated it.

Cool cousins who drop the needle on side one and introduce you to your first real taste of classical music ‘Firebird Suite’ as it evolves / dissolves into ‘Siberian Khatru,’ a multilayered bit of beauty that leads into what first really nailed me about Yes. It wasn’t the musicians expertise and resume. It wasn’t the lyrics which (and I know every one) but are at best vague.

It was…and is…that incredible ability to create melodies via counter point vocals. The harmonies, the arrangements, still confound me. And thrill me, drive me.And make me try harder.

This moment:

Even Siberia goes through the motions
Hold out and hold up
Hold down the window
(Outbound, river)
Hold out the mornin’ that comes into view
(Blue tail, tail fly)
River runnin’ right on over my head

Vocals completely counter to each other start a conversation, a word art piece. Though the words themselves becomes sounds, notes. Playing between counter points and true strong harmony, sometimes within a single line. As I have grown old, I recognize others used these games methods, first that comes to mind is Simon and Garfunkel. I don’t believe anyone arranged their vocal harmonies as carefully as Yes did, and it’s something that I think went over looked in the list of reasons why Yes was genuinely an important band.

And this style, these vocals ….. This whole Universe…… started with Chris. Find some old bit of YesStory or YesShows on YouTube and watch that motherfucker work.

And the carefree friends of Cool Cousins come to bad ends. And Cool Cousins did too.

And Yes takes on a greater personal significance. It’s no longer a band on a label, during a time you were barely alive for. It becomes the stuff of personal folklore. There’s lessons within each side, memories trapped within each song,

So I mourn this day. I don’t mourn Chris Squire, though he was a true hero of mine.

I mourn my cool cousin David Santone. RIP.

Yes-Yessongs-Interior_Frontal

Cool Cousins Bring You YesSongs

Cock Rock Cage Match: Jonathan Richman VS Bad Company

It is a too rare treat to discover something unknown that completely confounds and compels you. Not something that you understand, not something that is reminiscent of some greater Universal work that you have loved all your known life. Not a genre or movement or draw on your hipster gland (‘this was made for US. THEY don’t get it’).

Something that steps into your head, pops the top and rearranges the contents until it fits. And starts subtly changing the definitions, the limits, of an art form. Personally, if not globally.

Something beamed in from some alternate dimension that was watered and fed on the culture your part of. But the zipper shows up the rubber monsters back. That’s not a regular monster. Not the monsters we’ve come to expect.

And where others get these particular kicks in deeper, darker LSD infused fugues, I opt for a more simplistic mind blowing. Make mine a Jonathan.

I never saw ‘There’s Something About Mary’. I never invested time in discovering The Modern Lovers. So I was completely unprepared.

With my first listen to Jonathan Richman, via a single dollar find at a flea, I was….uncomfortable. It’s hard to describe why. It’s almost felt like I shouldn’t be listening to this as a heterosexual male. It was effeminate. It was light and spare and the singing sounded like a joke. And the songs were simple and dumb.

Problem is I couldn’t stop listening. Morning, noon and night, that record became my constant companion. I wasn’t aware how much I was enjoying it; it was more akin to liturgical study. There’ was a great mystery within these songs. A personal X File.

I understood why I liked it. He is a walking history of Pop music as art form. Whether accurately describing, influence and actual sound of the ‘Fender Stratocaster’, or liberally borrowing everything in the American Rock and Roll canon for ‘Parties in The USA’, I recognized him as someone whose simplicity belied a truth, maybe a nostalgic truth, but still a truth.

And the arrangements he chose to work in were pure JpK bait. Spare, fat electric or thin electric, snare drum, maybe a bass. Some grand doo wop harmonies. I like my listening music to have lots of space for interpretation; let me make the melodies in my head, whether lyrical or musical. That way it’s a shared sport.

It is a universal truth and not one I’m the first to mention: the awesomeness of a rock and roll song is directly related to the number of instruments on it. Too many instruments, you are left to ride along. Too few instruments is like a Chinese fire drill. Everyone drives. Interactive and anonymous kicks. Good for everyone.

But….it took me a while to get here. Cause at first listen to Jonathan Richman, I could only think of Fred Schneider. In time, I came to love and admire the B-52’s, but that was not my first reaction. No. My first reaction to hearing the B-52’s was to take the tape out of the player (not my tape, nor my car) and whip it out the speeding cars’ window. But I was a kid. One expects to have such knee jerk reactions to alternative lifestyles at that age. Kids are dumb.

Which made my reaction to Jonathan Richman more….concerning. Cause I have evolved far beyond teens (I tell myself) and an adult isn’t allowed to have such juvenile reactions to things different. Not if they are NOT an asshole.

If you still believe all the things you did at 14 in the decade of 40’s, you may be an asshole. Ask someone you know. They will likely be honest, asshole.

And as usually happens, my immediate, visceral reaction revealed far more about me than the work of Jonathan Richman. Cause Jonathan is a man who loves woman. I would say he is right there with Paul Rodgers in terms of He Man chick slaying. Except in place of the scads of ex Zep groupies Paul dropped his bell bottoms for, I imagine that Jonathan had one woman he wrapped his twisting libido around.

Lets take Bad Company’s ‘Feel Like Making Love’. Demanding. In the vocal, you don’t get the sense that Paul doesn’t mean ‘making love’. I picture poses and literal fireworks. He sounds demanding. The girl may want to fake it and not upset the Tarzan of Love.

Now compare that too ‘Closer’ by Richman. A song about sharing a marital bed. With Jonathan proclaiming ‘closer…closer…’. He’s not discussing a close feeling or close deep talk. He wants in. He describes the dynamic with much grinding. Perhaps some frustration on his wife’s part cause the dude never stops needing to be ‘closer’. It’s erotic and truly identifiable for any guy whose ever been married.

Compare ‘Can’t Get Enough’ from Bad Co to ‘Every Day Clothes’. Now despite Paul’s insistent ‘I take what I want. And baby, I want you.’ I’m not convinced there’s much in it for said groupie aside from a night of telling Paul ‘It’s OK. it happens to lots of Cock Rock Stars.’ It’s not that it’s unbelievable. Its just a really authentic cartoon from a hack writer.

Jonathan digs his girl in her sweats and those unimaginable over sized sweatshirts. He’s likes that jussst fine. Jonathan is a realist. He loves his woman. He doesn’t need sheer fabric to remember whats beneath those figure flattening threads. It’s on his mind con-stant-ly. Closer. Below the clothes. Closer. Between the sheets, the clothes removed. Closer.

Take ‘Rock and Roll Fantasy’ and match to ‘Monologue About Bermuda’ for a real taste of fame and life on the road. Maybe it’s cause the concepts, the ideas that Bad Company existed in became so outdated so quickly that they couldn’t see….or just didn’t care….how cute they would be some day. Limousines and record companies covering the bar bills is so quaint it might as well have an ‘Olde’ before it. And sell Maple candy.

Where in the talk piece that is ‘Monologue About Bermuda’, you get the real sense of life in a traveling band: shifting sands, new influences, frustration, boredom, anxiety. A sense you are constantly repeating yourself. Plus it’s much funnier.

But…. boys love Bad Company. Everybody loves Bad Company. They are the waffle of Rock. Who doesn’t like waffles?

Richman is more of a crepe. Even I don’t like crepes.

But…I like Jonathan. I’m OK with that.

4071

00140015_Picture1

Cock Rock Cage Match: Jonathan Richman VS Bad Company

The Indestructible Charm Of John Prine

Even when considering the wide world of Singer-Songwriters….and for the sake of clarity let’s focus on the ones that come with a possibly authentic ‘folksy’ charm (Will Oldham is not Will Rogers), John Prine is unusual.

It’s not that he can’t out ‘folksy’ most of these folksters, but this, in like everything he does, is seemingly effortless.

This came to me with a listening to ‘Live and On Stage’ where me charmingly mumbled his way through a story about Billy Bob Thornton in the introduction to the brilliant tribute to modern, real and ugly love ‘In Spite Of Ourselves’.

Thornton suggested to John he should write a song to close out the credits, something in line with the characters and John’s typecast ‘brother in law with low self esteem’ acting gigs. And in this song, with its references to panty sniffing and the erotic appeal of prison movies, he weaves a real and perfect argument that love is not a cosmic notion, that we don’t all feel and share love the same way.

And that is why John Prine is different. He understands the idea that there is no universal sense of happiness. We must hardscrabble and work too long days at pointless jobs. And pan for gold for our joy. He doesn’t sell a bill of goods that your bliss is anything but fleeting. But fleeting bliss beats no bliss.

The genre Americana was invented to describe John Prine. Not simply due to his knowledge of trad folk and blues forms, and a lyrical sense that can get timeless when focused on the social or political. Or when combining the two. As much as I love ‘Sam Stone’ from the first record, a perfect protest to post war malaise, its ‘Donald and Lydia’ that sticks with me.

A love story…maybe….but a love story for monsters. I don’t mean the fun mutated type, I mean people you wouldn’t elect to spend even a single second considering if not for the masterful pen and POV of Prine. And clearly he’s got some psychic in him, cause this is the Internet’s first real love song, though the Internet was decades away. It’s about longing and loneliness and desire to be desired by something, someone, somewhere.

Watching John’s career trajectory through his 70’s work is a lesson in Record Company History. Within his small simple songs, the infection of excess wormed in and horn sections and too many strings, too much studio. But his direction never wavered. He took this ‘being in the right place at the wrong time’ vibe and folded it right into the songs and kept writing them. In a sense, raising a mirror to the industry that they wouldn’t even recognize in 20 years time.

And now, an elder statesman, but not one with the mass appeal of a Willie Nelson, who everyone loves and generally gets. John operates in the shadow of the Music Industry buildings, with a faithful and true connection to his many fans that will have him only grow into deeper colors as he goes on and keeps writing.

In a perfect world, Prine would be Springsteen. But in a perfect world, we would have no need for the surgeon steady perception’s of John Prine.

maxresdefault

The Indestructible Charm Of John Prine