Thursday, March 23, 2017

"Custodian Chronicles Volume 1..." by Tim Will Hunting (Book Review)

Custodian Chronicles Volume 1:

An Inside Look at the American Public School System as Seen Through the Eyes of Its Most Underrated Player: The Janitor (and Other Musings) 

...A Book Review...

So yes that is a book title.  Yes it is long winded.  Yes I am also long winded.  I will try my best not to be.  If you want the long and short of it (which, funny enough always means "the short") if you want to read something original, eye-opening and knee slapping then you should definitely 

My friend and fellow Long Islander Tim Almeida, front-man of the socially conscious live-band alternative rock/hip-hop group The Native Alien Tribe aka Tim Will Hunting (who rapped with me for Spontaneous Sundays with AllOne episode 4) and of course hard-working Custodian, self-published his debut book based on his CUSTODIAN CHRONICLES BLOG  and PODCAST which I had the pleasure of reading recently. Yes, the title is overly long but the book is actually a manageable size collection of about 180 pages. Should you judge a book by its cover, yes that is a mop with dreadlocks.  The book is an amalgam of musings (as the overlong title puts it) and being that it is derived from a blog and riffing on an eponymous podcast, it is a chimera of forms. The content is comprised of prose chapters, lists, diagrams, poems, intermittent emboldened lyrical micro-pages like poetic tweets and even hilarious copies of emails to his fellow staff to illustrate his points or accompany his anecdotes and rants. 

Tim comes across as a mix of Zen Buddhist, eco-warrior, liberal, skeptic, realist, comedian and poet. Despite the seriousness of the topics discussed within; politics, the ecosystem, revamping the education system, mortality, the pharmaceutical industry and more, the book is enjoyably and liberally flavored with humor. There are certainly themes and focus within each chapter but the book is written with a conversational stream of consciousness style.  In his irreverent and cynical,  yet optimistic, loving strain of thinking reminds me of a creative blood relative of Kurt Vonnegut and/or George Carlin. Like both of these brilliant and celebrated men, his biting, crass satire and acerbic analysis comes from a place of love and hope. 
As Tim says on page 120:
 "I'm not bitter, I'm just passionate, LEARN THE DIFFERENCE" 

 Tim is witty and poignant and the rough edges of the every-man make him no less insightful.  Tim isn't self aggrandizing or on a high horse as may be typical in books addressing such heavy issues as Custodian Chronicles. More often than not, Tim is self-effacing and readily admits to being devoid of real answers or having the authority to dictate these changes.  The paradox here is that it seems to me that Tim's unqualified nature in regards to these ecological, social, educational, and governmental critiques that he is so passionate about, is exactly what makes him an appropriately humble and divorced perspective to comment on them.  Perhaps not exactly a book to read to your kids, but one to read and consider your kids throughout, as it often reminds us of how if we don't tenderly and thoughtfully shape our children and our world, then the materialistic, destructive world will happily manipulate our children and their perceptions further.  Overall this book feels as though it is beating its head against a wall wishing we had no walls at all so we could get to communicating genuinely as human beings again. 

 Although being called Custodian Chronicles the book isn't entirely concerned with academia.  Sometimes the school environment is just a consistent backdrop whose anecdotes and happenings become prompts for ranting/venting essays . The book's scatterbrained stream of consciousness style is rife with detours and asides that are occasionally beguiling but overall Tim's unpretentious voice and style lends itself to a seemingly entirely sincere narrative experience and made me feel as though I was there with him along the mental journey from the catalyzing of the topics and their subsequent winding riffs and free-associative jumps.  Some of Tim's concerns can be overtly explored or beaten to death and it feels a little as though he is preaching to the choir, but that is a matter of subjective perspective.  I'm sure I mention this because I already agree with many of these pertinent points he is making and have dabbled in the realm of knowledge and information that he concerns himself with.  That being said, even when I found myself reading about issues that I cared about, I was often learning something new because Tim isn't just the pothead lefty liberal rambling at the party, he is a free-spirited and educated realist who is passionate and well researched about the conversations he is interested in having and the trends in the world he wants to change.  It would seem to me that Tim elaborates exhaustively on ideas because he has seen firsthand how many people these obvious and revolutionary ideas are foreign to and therefore how important it is to beat people over the head with these concepts to emphasize their poignancy and elicit change. I thoroughly enjoyed this book which was digestible and rewarding, funny, thought provoking and original in its voice and presentation.  

Now that you've heard "the long of it".... 

If you're around Saturday, March 25th I will be accompanying this man for the release event at Rockville Center's The Turn Of The Corkscrew.  The event will feature comedy, readings from the book, music, a poetic performance by yours truly, a live recording of The Custodian Chronicles and of course, books and wine!
Here is the flyer:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

"Emotional Baggage Bard Tour" 2/8-2/12/17 Into The Storm and Out Of The Tour (Syracuse, Saratoga Springs and Rochester NY)

"Emotional Baggage Bard Tour" 2/8-2/12/17 
Into the Heart of the Storm and Out of the Tour in One Piece
(Syracuse,  Saratoga Springs and Rochester NY)

Greetings my fellow adventurers!  When we last met I'd passed out at my grandmother's house on February 8th after a very successful performance experience in New York City's "Parkside Lounge".
I woke up at my Grandmother's house to an unrealistically beautiful day with summer weather in the 60s.  We had a huge breakfast together, caught one another up on our personal goings on and what was happening that we knew of throughout the branches of family happenings.  After breakfast, I worked out in my late Grandfather's basement gym.

Reflecting on a friend, a patriarch, a hero
My Poppy, as all his grandchildren knew him, Tony "Sonny" Pandolfo, is one of the staples of what is considered the golden age of bodybuilding.  He was a disciplined, walking legend of a man whose physique in his sixth decade would inspire embarrassment from most young people who consider themselves in-shape!  There are well over 200 trophies (yes, I've counted) strewn throughout the house that adorn the rooms with a gilded sense of victory and history all at once reminding visitors of the decades of work and dedication.  Despite all of this, he was extremely humble and didn't show off  and wasn't obnoxious about any of his skills or accolades. He was a deeply knowledgeable nutritionist and trainer, a mover, a gregarious and wonderful storyteller a family man and a who was widely respected and loved.  He was one of my dearest friends and remains an idol and an inspiration to me in his immense accomplishments and his daily inviting sense of befriending people and a curious awe about the many people and places he would encounter in his journeys.  It was beautiful and somehow full circle in a sense to take advantage of the surreal opportunity to exercise in the same gym area where he would every day, when I was just a few years old and I would run down to him and hang on the pulley systems and he'd lift me and make me a part of his regiment.
When he passed at age 70, just a few days after our shared birthday of a heart attack, it was devastating to me and the first serious and meaningful loss. I wrote the song "Pennsylvanian Patriarch" as a reflection of his life and death and my attempt to learn from both.
His ambitious work ethic, his love of people and life and his unparalleled discipline, which I have never seen a replica of since, are all things that I try to call up out of myself, and I believe that in my best moments I am echoing him and his remarkable aspects.

Northward to Syracuse
After we spent some more time together I walked with my Grandma to her job in the early afternoon at the local school, I headed on the road with the windows down, imbibing breeze and sunlight on the way to Syracuse to return to perform at one of the last open mics at that particular Funk N Waffles.  As usual, I listened to a handful of podcasts I've gotten much value from...

Minamilists: "#asktheminmalists"
Ezra Klein Show "Reasons You Should Run For Office"
Minimalist Podcast: "Basics" 
(big takeaway "Small decisions should reflect long term values")
Hilarious World Of Depression with Jen Kirkman
(emphasizing the importance of openly seeking help
and the difference between truly good help/services and otherwise)
Minimalists: "Letgo"
538 Podcast "GOP Under Trump"

The Florentine
James Brownie
When I arrived in Syracuse, I was lucky to find a parking spot pretty quickly in the down town of the busy college town and got in right to the open mic.  Luckily my good friend and frequent collaborator Evan "Attaboy" Bujold who has been hosting the event for years had me down on the list because I was running late.  Now clearly this flamboyantly decorated artsy eatery is known for two things... a space to experience great jams and... yup, you guessed it...amazing waffles.  My dear friend and yet another frequent collaborator, Dani Blum was jealous that I was there and since the only thing I can seem to decide on is that I can't decide anything, I let her choose my dishes for me so she could live vicariously through my choices. Through this alleviation of responsibility from my mercurial mind, I went with two halves: the Florentine (spinach and feta-stuffed buttermilk with smoked salmon and sour cream topping) and the James Brownie  (brownie waffle with two scoops of java chip flavored ice cream with whipped
cream and chocolate syrup.) It was as gluttonous as it was glorious!

The night was started off with an astonishing performance that was never topped in beauty, skill or uniqueness when an Iranian recorder player used three harmonizing recorders simultaneously, arresting the packed out room and guiding our dropped jaws through his short composition.  The reaction was room-shaking in when the piece ended.  When he smiled shyly in response to our response and asked if we would like to hear another song, the entire room erupted in almost genuflecting allowance.  Instead of using the arrangement he just won the crowd over, instead more curiously, he pulled out a jaw harp and launched into a high energy piece that was part jaw-harp, part beatboxing and hyping himself up with breathy ambient sounds and the most expert use of the bizarre instrument I'd ever encountered!  The rest of the night was primarily dominated by dozens of comedians who ranged from occasionally hilarious to abysmal, flanked with various talented musical individuals from acoustic to full band to rappers and so on.  My performance prompted some new friendships and passing music, stickers and flyers into some generous hands and after the event, I went with Evan and his Funk coworkers for drinks at the "Beer Belly Deli" and got to know some friends.  Evan showed me to his new apartment above the other Funk N Waffles location.  The apartment was an office being cleaned up, cleared out and renovated into a shared living and working space, it was musty and some far off empty room emanated the subtle choking smog of perpetually smoked pot like the bedroom door should have read "Mystery Machine".  Meteorologists promised heavy snow back home in Long Island despite that the day was summer, tomorrow was to be aggressively proud Winter with a capital W.  The environment is fine, the conservatives keep reassuring themselves.  But hell, I kept reassuring myself that I wouldn't wake up too affected by the compromised breathing environment as I fell asleep on a futon with my sleeping bag as a ventilating mask.

Thursday 2/9 The Snowy Jaunt to Albany Saratoga Springs

Waking up in Syracuse with a stuffy nose and a nasal drip wasn't exactly a surprise, but that didn't make it any more welcome.  The good news was (depending on your ecological outlook and the overarching terrifying state of Earth's health that is), despite all of the Long Islanders back home posting photos of their snow-covered locales, when I looked out the window, remarkably, the streets were decorated in an inconvenient dusting at worst.  This boded well for my travels and less so for the weird state of the planet, central New York getting better weather than Long Island, was some Twilight Zone scripting if I've ever heard of it.  Believe me, especially in that relatively blizzard-free moment, I love Twilight Zone.  We had an early departure time set because of where I was parked so after Evan and I chatted a while and parted ways I cleaned my car off amid the shouts of what appeared to be homeless men and set out to visit my cousin Erica and perform in Albany at Hudson River Coffeehouse yet again. So began another drive at around 9, but got wind of the meteorologist's supposition that Albany and the south-easterly ilk would be getting snow for another 6 hours.  It seemed I wasn't in the clear yet, or that I was most certainly unwisely ejecting myself from the clear and into the flurried fray.  Stubborn and optimistic, I drove on and on and on.  In the meantime I listened to the many following podcasts, amid this is the parenthetical  vignette I will share with you shortly...
Don't Keep Your Day Job: Wayne Federman
Patreon Podcast interview with John Mierau
Inside The Times: Good, Bad and Mad with Andrew Rosenthal
538 Podcast: Trump Vs. Courts
Song Exploder: Dropkick Murphys
Song Exploder: Grimes
Song Exploder: Weezer

An afternoon Dinette Vignette (Waiting out the storm in Amsterdam, NY)

While heading south and nearing lunch-time with an empty gas tank and gastrointestinal system contrasting the increasing fullness of the precipitous gradual darkening gradation of the sky, I opted to take an exit ramp to the nearest gas station.  This turned out to be Amsterdam, NY a place I'd never been, despite once stopping over in Amsterdam on the way to Italy.  From what I could tell of the Amsterdam airport, these places were not similar at all.  Across the lot of the gas station was a lengthy hotel and a small diner called "Star's Cafe" which was guarded by a few pick-up trucks, a few plows and snow-buried cars dedicated to their spaces.  Considering I needed to eat and kill some time to wait out the storm, I grabbed my copy of The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle and headed into the small dinette.  I found myself reading less and writing more after I took my seat at the small counter inhabited by trucker regulars who shared travel stories over coffee and the lunch special "macaroni and cheeseburger".  I ate an omelet and sat between flannel-garbed men who read papers, gossiped and updated about the road while a young mother (earlier thirties at an oldest approximation) and her teen daughter, the eponymous "Star" ran the coffee.  Mom punctuated every interaction with Honey and sweetie.  The truckers asked "How many" instead of "how much" when inquiring about what they owed for filling their stomachs in this small-town oasis for these crass but kind petrol-cologne career nomads.  A mentally challenged man, Roger tended to the table (counter) settings and made garbled, accented conversation that was nearly indecipherable.  Roger had very few teeth and a custom embroidered belt with his name, which rather than giving him authority seemed to nullify the dubiousness of his handicap.  Star and Mom traded playful insults while preparing food and stocking the refrigerator and food.  The coffee mugs were bottomless and the omelet was a default diner omelet.  I remained tacit and enjoyed the banter among the men busting each other's balls like siblings at the dinner table and once I felt I'd over-stayed my welcome, about an hour or two later, I shoved off with snow to clean on my car and a belly too full of greasy warm food.  This place was the epitome of the scene I describe in the third verse of my song "Zoom In (There's Life Here)".  A charming little place and if you ever need to stop and take a break and grab some food in a sincere environment, Star's Cafe is a place I'd recommend for some warmth and grub.

I hadn't had as much opportunity to lounge, read and write as I'd hoped to in the Star Cafe because it wasn't exactly a cafe, but I felt benefited all the same.  I headed to Albany excited to perform again at the Hudson River Coffeehouse despite my cousin's warnings.  I pulled into Albany some hours later, after getting texts from my cousin warning me of the terrible weather and that she wasn't comfortable coming out and that there was a parking ban.  Pulling into Albany I was nearly snow-blind and there were such huge and frequent embankments of snow on the roads and in parking lots that I was totally unable to park anywhere near the cafe or seemingly anywhere at all.  The parking ban was almost a moot point anyway as there were no opportunities to do so in the first place.  I drove aimlessly and couldn't get a hold of the venue.  My frustration grew as I drove for hours listlessly with a headache and a persistent nasal drip, but I was determined to do something and remain productive.  I told my cousin that we'd have to catch up another time and I did a google search for nearby open mics on , an open mic resource that a comedian/storyteller whom I met while on tour in Boston in 2012 gave me.  I came up with an event at the Circus Cafe that night 40 minutes north in the unfamiliar town of Saratoga Springs.

Saratoga Springs: where spontaneity and Coincidence created opportunity

It was a round 630 when I arrived in Saratoga Springs, a huge and beautiful town.  It seemed there were countless intersecting main streets featuring boutiques, artisan shops, bars and venues of all sorts.  It was dark, windy and freezing when I parked but I was happy and almost comically mystified by the miraculous ease of parking my car.  I brought all my items with a sniffling (and a now rubbed-raw-red) nose into what I expected to be a cafe.  Instead, Circus Cafe was in fact a flamboyantly decorated and deceptively large bar and restaurant.  It turned out I was two hours early to the open mic and so I treated myself to the most incredible clam/corn chowder I've eaten in my life and a plate of wings in some weird hope to quell the issues with my sinuses and agitating feeling of sickness.  It was to no avail but my taste buds were delighted.  I finished reading The Lost World (which is heavily recommended.  Conan Doyle is too brilliant and thrilling.)  while I waited and started reading my copy of "Master Of The World" by Jules Verne that I picked up in Symposium Books in Providence. When the host of the open mic, Nate Solomon finally did show up, he was the nicest guy who was so excited about his local Saratoga scene, he gave me a list of other open mics to check out whenever I was around and couldn't promote or sing the praises of his local musicians and his pride at supporting them.  He signed me up, seemed genuinely interested in my work and later picked up some music from me and wished me well.  Here are the other Saratoga springs open mics Nate suggested if you are ever in the area:
Mondays at Barrel HouseTuesdays at Gaffney's and of course Thursdays at Circus Cafe

As promised by the enthusiastic Nate, the venue rapidly filled up with musicians and singers of all types.  I nursed my sinuses an congestion with a couple of incredible hot toddy's.  Then a shocking coincidence occurred.  Despite never having been in Saratoga Springs before and choosing the venue at random, it turned out that the co-host was a friend Karl Bertrand I met online two years ago when trying to book some central New York shows!  We caught up a bit as he set up the music and got ready to jam, he's an incredible musician and to add to the remarkable serendipity, he doesn't normally host the open mic so tonight was a fluke AND he offered that I stay with him that night.  He referenced it as paying back his karma for all the times people hosted his band while he was on the road.  Great guy, really laid back and generous!  The night was excellent, full of all sorts of instrumentalists intermingling their performances. Met a kind girl who went by "Galaxy Babs", a multi-instrumetalist and lyricist who is the self described heartbeat of Saratoga Springs. Also, a hand-hug master.
My performance got great responses and some people picked up my music and supported me which was a great feeling, this one guy Blaze suggested that I come back in the Summer, as the population multiplies exponentially like a perpetual festival!  The music went on well into the morning and when nearly 3am rolled around and the couples were pairing off I was incredibly grateful for the generosity of Karl to invite me to a place to stay as it was awfully freezing and sleeping in my car would not have been great.  Leaving the venue and walking to my car in a town that was essentially silent, save for the banshee of the wind,  I was feeling cold, lonesome and exhausted after such a weird long day and seeing everyone pairing off, but there were opportunities and great people to be thankful to, so I tried to focus on them even as I sang and wrote the following lyrics before I passed out in the beautiful accomodations of the Bertrand's home.

"There are few times more lonely and/or destitute
than when it's 2am and I'm never getting texts from you
and it's two degrees in Saratoga springs, they've all paired off and left
when I hear a couple moaning from a window overhead
There are few times more lonely and/or destitute
than when it's 2am and I'm never getting texts from you
and it's two degrees, in Saratoga Springs, I think of things you've said
now are you thinking of me or are you fucking him instead?
She said,
There are few times more lonely and or destitute,
than when it's two PM and I'm getting loving texts from you
depressed to new degrees, I haven't left my sheets, there's no spring in my step,
I moan beneath a window while death keeps repeating in my head..."

Friday 2/10 The Road to Rochester with a familiar Detour

I woke up groggy but well rested with my nose and throat feeling no better, Karl was kind enough to make me coffee and breakfast while we exchanged travel stories and advice.  Great guy whom I wish to get to know more and see more of his performances.  As a minor attempt at a thank you, I drove him to work and drove up north to head to Rochester to visit the Beshures.  At this point, Rob and Mike's sister Claire was going to school in our Alma Mater, SUNY  Oswego and I had planned to stop there anyway to visit my favorite place in the whole wide world, Coffee Connection, so I agreed to surprise the Beshures family by bringing Claire back with me!  On the way up I listened to the Marc Maron podcast with Louis C.K. which was really motivating and funny, Both of those guys are creative comedy giants. Here are link to Part 1 and Part 2 to listen to a compelling and funny interview of two old friends both reconciling their differences and getting into the mind of one of the most creative and hardworking geniuses in comedy since George Carlin.  When I picked up Claire, a bright girl with a smile ready and a refreshing sense of adventure, I proudly embarked on showing her the waterfront glories of Coffee Connection, which provided as delicious and comfortable a backdrop as expected.  Buzzbombs, lattes and cookies filled us up and then we drove to Rochester.  I got to spend time with the calm and hilarious transparent Beshures family.  They're teachers who regaled us with funny family stories and when Rob arrived with his girlfriend Kate we were full of laughs and information.  When I went to sleep, I still felt feverish and was shivering as I passed out but it was good to be in a good home again.
Coffee Connection's cozy second floor

2/11 & 2/12 House Party Fun in Rochester and Flight From a Blizzard

I woke up feeling better and started the day enjoying reading "Master Of The World".  Claire made us all eggs and her, Mrs. Beshures and I played Iota for the first time which was a really fun game (Definitely get it).  We ended up walking into town to the used book store "Yesterdays Muses" which didn't have what I was looking for (Verne's "Robur The Conquerer", to which Master Of The World is the sequel) but it was a marvelous place to explore full of old signed tomes, rare and used editions of books.  We spent probably an hour in there and then wandered about window shopping in some second hand stores before treating ourselves to frozen yogurt on a cold day!  Rob and I are collaborating on a song for my next album "Rapologues" and in fact it is the final song of the entire project that needed the music fully fleshed out.  He worked tirelessly on the music and was even composing during the days that I was there.  The piece is very beautiful and unique and I'm so grateful that we had his help.  When I was last in Rochester in the beginning of December we spoke about collaborating on it and he had completely ensconced himself in the days and weeks since that conversation to work on the song "Elijah Watson's Wooden Leg".
We had a bunch of friends over that night for a party, the Beshures made delicious baked chicken and vegetables.  Rob had a handful of friends come over including Miles, Mike Reynolds and a handful of others.  I performed a handful of songs to the group but mostly we were all getting along so well that it felt silly and too formal to start asking people to stop and solely pay attention to me.  We played kings and had lots of laughs and fun well into the morning.  Mike Reynolds brought poems in envelopes written specially for many of us, which was a beautiful, kind and rare gesture.  He wrote the following poem for and about me:

reservoir of strength
perfect in every way
never fail to deliver
one marvels to say
listen to my words:
"friend you are loved"

Mike keeps contact on a daily basis and writes poems constantly and is always willing to shared them.  In this way he is brave and prolific and an example of someone who purely loves the joy of creating and giving the creations unabashedly to others to evaluate and explore.  This ownership and embodiment of being a creator is really inspiring for someone like me who is much more shy about my work.  The night was a ton of laughs and good vibes and I passed out EXHAUSTED by the time I went to bed.  The next day we all had breakfast together and I had to take Claire back to Oswego.  I wasn't sure whether or not I should continue the tour in an improvisational matter.  The Beshures warned me that all of central New York had a huge storm impending and I needed to get out of there or get stuck several days.  My opportunity to stay with some friends in Oneonta that day got crushed because they were going to be so heavily snowed in.   I knew that there were a few events I could perform and random open mics I'd thought of going to but it became clear that my best bet was to take that long journey home and using the remaining week to be productive, catch up on writing work, reading, new video content, getting in the studio and more, so that is exactly what I did!

Overall this trip was a really fun one that took me over 1,000 miles in 12 days, where I met so many great people, new friends and saw old ones, exercised new material and played in new places.
The road is the place for me unquestioningly and the more I travel it seems the better I feel and the more comfortable I feel with my choices for a creative life and my interactions with people seem more focused, real and pure as I'm entirely embodying the life and love of creation that I chose!

Hope to see you on the road soon!
thank you as always for reading
and thank you everyone who supported me on this trip, whether a new friend, old friend or family, it means AND IS the world to me!
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Emotional Baggage Bard Tour" 2/7/17 A Return to NYC and The Inspired Word

"Emotional Baggage Bard Tour" 2/7 A Return to NYC and The Inspired Word
Greetings wonderful wondering wanderers!
So continues my journeys after exploring and performing in New England and leaving 
Rhode Island with a full stomach courtesy of Geoff's Superlative Sandwiches and Drent's generosity
and heading south to return to New York City to perform as feature at Michael Geffner's Inspired Word series at Parkside Lounge.  On the last tour I did, the "NovEmbark Tour", I made my debut here at the onset of Thanksgiving week, and Mike was kind enough shortly after to invite me back for a second feature opportunity!
On my way down to NYC I listened to the following podcasts
(a pretty "heavy" list of topics.  Note that "Cortex" is one that was on the list
that Vaughn suggested to me in New Haven, CT!):

Which got my head full of injustices, frustration about systems that don't necessarily work for the people who need them, and on a more personal note to me regarding the Cortex episode what of my own systems of working and occupying my time don't necessarily work for me or help me to be as productive as I could be.

By the time I arrived in NYC I was somehow lucky enough to find a spot just in time parking in the street which gave me none of the anxiety and crazy headache of the last time I was in the city. (My mental breakdown and missed opportunity in NYC.) 

Chelle Mayer's original portrait of my performance,
eels and ethereal booger glops were not present at the venue.
Sadly I knew this would be the last time I saw one of my close friends, Dani Blum (she who is expertly collaborating with me on illustrating my short story collection) before she headed off to live in Milan for 3 months (and if all goes well for her, several years). So this would be bittersweet.  I was just as much looking forward to seeing my poetic genius of a friend Eliot Greene come out and support.  Mike Geffner is always so supportive of the arts, a journalist who in his own words could have retired but at the last minute decided to contribute instead to fostering an artistic community in the city, which it seems he has done, and rather well, as the series has been going on for an incredible 7+ years, Another photographer who is a staple there, Marvin was there and it was his birthday (he and Mike are responsible collectively for all of the photos you will see in this blog) an a very generous and funny host, Ryan McCurdy! Chelle Mayer was in the crowd drawing the performers all night, later she went home and colored in this illustration of me in a very surreal way! Check her work out by clicking her name or the PEACEFULSHADES - CHELLE MAYER FB PAGE HERE.

 Among many of the performers, here are a list of a few I managed to write down whose work I really enjoyed (pardon anyone I missed misspells or links that I didn't manage to get, honestly between improvised comedy, covers, originals, a capella singers and even a sort of interactive spiritual breathing/stretching performance art exercise the whole night was a lot of fun and full of impressive talent!)

Kathleen Potton killed it toward the beginning of
the night!
Lex Rockheart, Josh McKinda, Jonathon Ferris, a high energy Italian man Massa who passionately and gregariously sang George Michael covers.

My set was one I rather enjoyed performing and people seemed to respond well to it,
the crowd there is generally very supportive and also is a listening crowd that is more relaxed by this point in the night so I just did my best to do the songs well and address the audience and convey the songs strongly.  Eliot and Dani and several other people who generously bought cassettes had very nice things to say about my set so that was very reassuring. Overall this was certainly the most monetarily lucrative event of the trip but also there was so much information being shared about the local community and opportunities and events. 
"The Following Story...(A Midnight Pursuit)" 

And the night ended with sound-man//producer//singer//guitar player Clyde Phalanx's excellent performance of a Kanye West Flashing Lights cover and an upbeat and hopeful original that had everyone present singing along to the encouraging outro/refrain!  The remaining crew of the night got together for a shot after our chorus (included below).  I said goodbye to my new friends as well as to Eliot and after a drive to her subway stop, said a monumentally upsetting and yet nonchalantly reserved goodbye (a paradoxical sort of farewell that seems to be reserved for true friendships, the awkwardness of the heavy departure due to the strength of the friendship battled by the surety of the safety of the friendship due to that same strength.) to Dani as well.

With a smile on my face and the love of creativity and new and old friends in my heart, I headed wearily to my Grandmother's house in Nassau County to pass out before I headed back upstate the next day to perform in Syracuse.

All in all it seems to me after spending time with my soon-to-depart and long-lost friends,
after hearing the stories of so many creatives who work so hard to make their life their craft
and who have a home to do so thanks to Mike Geffner's lovely series (which I found out was 
a retiree's alternative plan to find fulfillment, after a life that he describes was "hard work, but no work at all because I had a full career doing what I love") yet again the lesson is to do what you love and to surround yourself with folks who do the same and love you as well.

Surround yourself with love and you will love your surroundings.
Thanks as always for reading and following along with me
and so many thanks to those who take part in my life in these little
travel vignettes.
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo

Thursday, February 16, 2017

"Emotional Baggage Bard Tour" 2/3/17 - 2/7/17: Gamboling and Gallivanting in Providence

"Emotional Baggage Bard Tour" 2/3/17 - 2/7/17: Gamboling and Gallivanting in Providence
Hello Hello fellow wanderers!
Where were we when we last spoke a little over a week ago?  Ah, I was curled up in a ball in the backseat of my car in Connecticut off of  I-95 after nearly running myself off the road headed north post-show in my soporific keychain of a car!  That Friday morning, I woke up cold and cramped with the only thing warm about me was a red hot knife in my side.  I thrashed about and coughed stifled screams.  The culprit was the cup-holder in the center of my back seat that had gradually burrowed with unforgiving persistence into my muscles.  I got out of my car and stretched in the cold while exhaling visibility and limped circling my car like a geriatric shark.  I hobbled into my  driver's seat with a cry and sped towards the the hobbit house location that is Owen "Drent"s esteemed residence that was bordered by a stretch of woods and resembled a house fit for wizardry and all sorts of old-world activities.   In the interest of making this 4 day narrative of manageable length for perusal, I'm going to try a different reporting technique, a non-chronological list of highlights and memorable moments, with the usual decorative cropping of photos, links and videos for the intended arousal of your endorphin and satisfaction of your generous curiosity....
Some of the beautiful overgrowth
on the old house Drent rents
out of that prompts the antiquated
feeling it calls to mind
Monday afternoon I wandered about
the extensive property of Drent's place
in spite of his warning that coyotes
populated the area.  Along with finding
many large stones and a frozen creek,
I stumbled across this huge abandoned

Rhode Island Highlights and memories....

Shows and Performances:

Friday 2/3 (Everett Open Stage Feature)
The first performance and first night in Providence was a great experience featuring at the Everett Dance studio // community space! Two years ago I played here with DRENT for a huge crowd and it was one of my favorite performance experiences on the road because there was so much love for creative expression and so many people in the room and Owen and I had been speaking about the ambition to feature there ever since!  Finally I got to return as a feature which is a really nice gesture because this series only happens once a month! Such an attentive and enthusiastic audience of all ages, what an experience!  I opened by doing Creative Differences with Owen and then did my solo performance with my unreleased narrative "The Following Story (A Midnight Pursuit)" and then "Pagliacci (A Most Memorable Case)"! Having all of the space to fill as a single act after seeing all the great dancers seemed to pressure me to be extra emotive and active with my body language, which was a fun demand that I felt I met! Illiterate Wordsmiths, aka Drent and Kleen Kut finished up our shared feature with one of their songs from their impending album "Edgar Allans Ave"!
Chris "Kleen Kut" caught me in the headlines
"moth to the lime-light's shine"

Illiterate Wordsmiths dropping knowledge
at Everett

Sunday 2/5 (Alchemy with Illiterate Wordsmiths and Jesse Ramos)

After spending many Sunday hours posted up in Small Points Cafe, reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writing up my Connecticut journeys, designing an AllOne Family Newsletter and editing "Spontaneous Sundays With AllOne episode 5 featuring Sik Sense" I was very very high energy and felt like the hulk! The venue was pretty empty because it was a cold night, one of the artists dropped out and the Super Bowl was keeping everyone cooped up and I didn't mind because a handful of good people were in the building and I got to play the longest set of the tour on a great stage/sound system. Jesse "The Tree" Ramos is an appropriately named lean and lanky figure who I met when we shared a bill at The News Cafe the last tour I did in November.

My setlist:
Getting my squat on while going cuckoo
crazy rapping face to face with Jesse Ramos,
who is the only rapping tree I know. (sorry groot).
"The Case Of Sydney Barringer" (soundcheck that revealed that this would be the best sound system/set up of the entire tour, making this an absolute hell of a time)
"Quality Vs. Quarantine"  (Owen took a break from being the only enthusiastic person watching the Super Bowl on his phone to run across the venue and jump on stage in time to back me up for the part I gave him in the dense chorus of this song)
"Cardiac Compass (Path To Preservation)" 
"Grab The Horns" 
"Pagliacci [A Most Memorable Case]"  (at this point in an incredibly surprising appropriate coincidence, an older Italian gentleman walked up and watched me perform half the song and when I was finished, he asked me if I wanted a slice of pizza, because he felt my performance earned it!)
"Build Here" 
"I Get Down" 
"Homesick Is Where The Heart Is" 
"The Following Story (A Midnight Pursuit)" (unreleased non-fiction narrative)
"Zoned Out"
"Unbelievable" snippet, a rare song, and later "Creative Differences" with Drent!
Jesse "The Tree" Ramos raps in
tightly woven bursts
of stream-of-consciousness
sprinkled with self-effacing
and conscientious nuggets of wisdom. 
Illiterate Wordsmiths finalized the night with a
really high octane and intense performance. Post-nap Drent
was super intense to make up for his mid-show slumber and
Kleen Kut was rocking the stage with his 90's inspired style like a champ!

Monday 2/6 (Madcap Monday at Firehouse 13)
Nate Cozzolino performs incredibly
every Madcap Monday at Firehouse 13
during the "Midcap" portion of the night!
He was bartending at Alchemy Sunday night
and remembered me and was very supportive
and encouraging. Find his music!

Last tour I had the pleasure of meeting Nate and Caleb's Madcap Monday operation that is rife with art peddlers, comedians, rappers, poets and musicians of mostly high-quality talent!  (Read of my last encounter here). Yet again, I met new friends and had the pleasure of catching up with and building friendships with people I met in my last encounter.  One of the new friends I met was this storyteller/poet who was simultaneously funny and insightful/vulnerable through her work named Sara Dager.  We spoke for some time after her set once I congratulated her and thanked her for sharing such great work and it turns out we have very similar niche music tastes!  She also does Illustration, Sculpture and Collage and you can can check that out at Tim Batty, who I bought/bartered a painting off in November went up and did a spoken piece at the end of the night where he explained some of his sales approached (which is an eerie and open "make me an offer") a monologue in which he told the crowd that the monetary exchange is directly related to the depth or sincerity of the story that he will tell that generous or stingy patron about the piece they've made their offer for.  I found this really interesting.  I also got to see a talented rapper Tom "Kudos" Brewer and we connected after each others' sets, mutually in admiration of one another's work.
Another new friend, Asim Barakzai filmed and edited my performance this night rather well and I'm extremely happy that he did because I really enjoy this performance and the sound/visuals he captured!  Thank you Asim!! Enjoy the footage my friends...

Podcasts I listened to (that I would recommend):
On way to RI from CT I listened to 
"Easier to act and then change your thinking than to think to change your actions"
is a paraphrased takeaway from this hilarious and interesting interview!  That made me think of the relationships between the maxims  "Fake it til you make it" or "actions speak louder than words" and is a contrarian point to the idea of "mind over body" that is so often spoken about these days.

Saturday I went to the gym for two hours with a travel card and listened to:
"Not everyone who voted for Trump is racist but every racist in America voted for Trump"

Sunday I listened to...

Must-Experience Parks/Cafes/Businesses/Bars:
**Spent a lot of time during the first few days in Providence at Small Points Cafe writing and reading The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyleresearching new places to play and editing Spontaneous Sundays episode 5! They had great coffee and scrumptious food I got to enjoy in comfortable chairs in the artful quirky walls of this cafe, there were toys littered about decorating the place playfully and the bathroom had robots painted on the walls interacting with the mechanical parts about the room.  The workers were all cordial even while it was very busy and they didn't mind that I spent hours and hours in there reading and getting work done (which was probably because I couldn't resist treating myself to their various pastries and breakfast items, coffees and teas that were somehow very tasty but also very cheap!

** Symposium Books was an absolutely enthralling local bookstore that had both the clean and organized presentation of a franchise and the erratic and quirky array of where I ended up suckered into picking up a rare old copy of Jules Verne's "Master Of The World" from 1965! They had cassettes, vinyl records and even book enthusiast's apparel!  Definitely recommended that you go in there if you're a reader or a even an oldschool music fan!

  ** Craftland 

Just across the street from Small Point Cafe, which as you can see became my caffienated nest while I was in Providence, an eye-catching piebald sign reading "Craftland" came to my attention (As most eye catching things storefronts full of lights and shapes and colors and artful pieces and decorum inside.  What I discovered indoors was an overwhelming array of locally created art pieces and handmade memorabilia like a brick-and-mortar Etsy.  I ended up charmed into buying a few pins and an HP Lovecraft postcard.  I couldn't get photos inside because that wasn't permitted but this establishment by its very nature would be changing constantly it seems with its wares and it's arrangement and you'd be making a mistake not to visit!

**Box Seats
Monday night, Owen's father was kind enough to treat us to dinner so we went to this bar and grill in Attleboro called "Box Seats" that seems simple enough but the Salmon dinner I got and the buffalo chicken tenders we started our dinner off with was absolutely delicious.  Simple and easy yum yum for your tum tum if you're in the area check it out.  Many thanks Mr. L!

**Hot Club
While Owen and I spent Monday gamboling about India Point Park (see below) we walked near the bridge in providence (a bridge whose ingenious construction/set up was so marvelously assembled via years of studying the tides and the weather patterns to decide the perfect time to float the structure across the water and fit it in place. What a remarkable story!  At that point we came upon the artfully painted and 30+ years standing "Hot Club" on the sidewalk/boardwalk alongside the water.  Upon examining and after asking Owen about it and liking his report, we capriciously opted to go inside for a drink and ended up meeting a cool bartender named Scarlet and I got a delicious "Stuffie" for the first time which is a big over-stuffed clam, evidently a New England staple.  I was advised and invited to return in the summer when the place is packed out.

Owen peeping through a giant old part of some kind.

On Monday, Owen had off and we slept in a bit to recover from the late and exhausting night performing at Alchemy (when Drent when home to sleep, Chris and I went out to chill and rap and catch up getting food til 3am so I was shot too).  I got immediately antsy and cagey as I always do in any situation when indoors and so I elected/voted/begged/protested that we go out and explore and adventure somewhere.  He ended up taking me out (as he said later, it was like taking a dog out) to India Point Park, where I ran around, jumped over fences, slid down handrails, climbed trees and jumped across rocks and ran up stairs and scaled a massive jungle gym excitedly.  The cold air felt good in my lungs and it was nice to be out of breath and outdoors with the cold air blowing and the sun warming my skin.  After a lot of time over the weekend spent avoiding the cold and working indoors it was liberating and invigorating to embrace the outside and to stretch my limbs and use my muscles.  It was cathartic and I felt much much better during and afterwards.  Owen tried to keep up, laughed incredulously and gave me the historical low-down on Providence and the various things we came across, (or went across, like bridges!).  We later met with Chris and started working on a song for a little mini-EP rap project we are cooking up with our friend Jesse (The aforementioned arbor).
But SHHH. That is an undisclosed secret (why would a "shhh" be in caps?! That's oxymoronomatopoeia !!

** Geoff's Superlative Sandwiches

Tuesday morning, when it came time to say goodbye so that I could head down to NYC to perform my second feature night at Inspired Word, Owen said he would take me to a real top-notch place for lunch.  In fact, he was correct in suggesting that the choice of Geoff's Superlative Sandwiches in Providence would be an ideal choice.  This place felt like a big new york sandwich shop.  It had the frenetic pace of a sandwich shop (especially one whose absurd two-for-one tuesdays deal made the place busy as a beehive) homely vibe to it. It was a modestly sized place that had walls practically made of chalk board with hand-written sandwiches of all sorts that you've heard of and never thought to dream of.  Unbelievable! I ended up playing it pretty simple and getting a tuna sandwich called "The Diamond" with banana peppers and some veggies on it.  I ordered rye bread but they gave me their "superlative bun" which was a giant soft dusty roll that turned out to be a really preferred "mistake"!  They had a barrel of pickles in the center of the store and after you ordered your sandwiches they'd give you a small bag and let you forage around with tongs in the brine for unlimited pickle spears.  Owen and I spoke about future artistic plans and what would go on with our projects we are working on and so on.
After we ate lunch we left the bustling deli and recorded some freestyles for Episode 6 of Spontaneous Sundays.  Then after well-wishing, we parted ways and I was off to NYC to perform at Inspired word!


Rhode Island was a great experience and was a reminder and an example of that I can build friendships and maintain them by traveling more frequently.  This tour and the NovEmbark tour are the closest two tours I've ever booked and I'm already working on a short tour for early March, so I'm really excited to keep these sort of relationships and opportunities growing.

Thank you as always for your interest, I hope you've gotten something out of this and enjoy the photos, videos and the music and podcasts that I've found!  If you find yourself in Providence and visit some of these places, let me know how you liked them!

Live Easy and Laugh Hard,
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo

Sunday, February 5, 2017

"Emotional Baggage Bard Tour" 2/2/17 Day 1: Hanging with Heroes and Friends in New Haven, CT

"Emotional Baggage Bard Tour" Day One Hanging with Heroes in New Haven:
Greetings AllOne Family!
I've embarked on my first tour of the year! The "Emotional Baggage Bard Tour" (in reference to my song "Travel Baggage (Carry On)" This is yet another independently arranged venture with the help of some friends. I'm back to reporting my thoughts and adventures and fun encounters hopefully for your amusement and some form of a travelogue brochure for when you find yourself in these areas as well as an opportunity for me to share some of the things I've been excitedly consuming, be it art or information or even food!  There were a lot of difficulties in devising this tour, a few people dropped out and some promoters and venues never got back to me, but there were enough events to seek out to keep me busy and traveling, although 50% of the events ended up being open mic performances, I've often found these to be equally or more productive socially, artistically and financially than booked shows at venues.

The absurdly devised little route:

Late Departure for a Northbound Journey

    Admittedly, it took me longer than expected to depart for this trip on Thursday between packing in the morning and having to get my tires checked and my oil changed last minute.  I had planned on leaving early but I'm just trying to be responsible okay? With any luck this brilliant little keychain of a car will last me quite a long time!  While I was waiting for the time at the to get done I went to the gym in an attempt to be more productive and make up for the two weeks I missed while I was .
On my drive to New Haven, CT I listened to the following podcast episodes:
In these pressing and intense times of the new administration, I've been trying to be more aware of political events.  Are there any current events/political podcasts you listen to and recommend?  My friend Phil, an editor at New York Post and drummer of The Vigilance Committee recommended the following podcasts to me and I've been enjoying them/trying to keep up with/catch up with the political realm and state of affairs.

After a lengthy ride to Connecticut, where I managed to somehow hit traffic perfectly as some karmic punishment for my late start, I arrived at Stella Blues for the first show.  What's funny about this is when I was on tour in November and trouncing about with my gregarious friend Annie (Read about that HERE) she dragged me abruptly into this venue to inquire about booking me there and the ornery owner declared that the venue was closed!  A few weeks later, Dope KNife called me up and told me he had this show for me at the very same venue.  Here we are.

Stella Blues with Zak G, Esh, Dope KNife and Sketch The Cataclysm

I want to take a second to talk about Dope KNife and how incredible he has been doing lately, first off as a rapper, a producer, a performer and freestyler he is just all around crazily talented (not to mention he makes his own videos and often his own artwork!).  After running Dope Sandwich Records and Tapes for a decade, he is getting credit where it is overdue. In December, he released a phenomenal EP "Weekend at Brodie's" on Fake Four Inc. run by Ceschi based out of Connecticut and then just recently released an LP "1984" on the legendary Sage Francis' own Strange Famous Record's digital label in January.  Both of these projects include raps and production by Kedrick and are released on two of the most important labels in underground hip hop. Getting to meet up and rock shows with him is always a pleasure and this time was no different.  I've seen Zak G perform at Cafe Nine and Sketch Tha Cataclysm perform at The Outer Space a few months back when I freestyled spontaneous on stage with him and Joey Batts and some other cats after Ceschi shoved me up into a cypher!  The only person who I didn't know in this line-up was Esh (or Esh the Monolith), although I am on a posse cut song with him and Zak G on KNife's new album called "#SQUADGOHARD".  Also present and hanging out was Strange Famous Records' own Sage Francis, who is the main inspiration for me getting into hip hop (with his song "Makeshift Patriot") and eventually taking my writing down the road exploring rapping and song writing, so to have him casually in the crowd and hanging out was surreal and very special/encouraging.  Take your favorite artist or practitioner in the craft or field that you value most and imagine getting to just kick it with them casually...that was what it was like for me, even though we didn't get to speak at length. 

Zak Green opened up the show with his unique combination of self-produced noise music/punk and hip hop intensely rapped and screamed over with acerbic evaluations of society and hip hop music and cynically running the gamut of keen grips and criticisms.

Esh The Monolith, a Boston-based emcee, might have been my favorite performance between the musicality of his performance (using pedals for vocal effects life, playing an omnichord life and using mallets on a floor tom), his varied selection of deliveries through which he shared his strongly poetic command of language.  The uniqueness of his approach and even the wide variety of topics and personalities his song content took on (from mortality to social criticism to flexing and goofing off with rap bars over Timbaland beats and poetic descriptions etc) was inspiring.

Dope KNife performed the next set, which are always really impressive.  He uses all of his the tricks in his deep bag full of them.  Opening with an a capella piece, rapping aggressively over his well-produced instrumentals, involving the crowd and doing interactive freestyle games he is just admirably well rounded and unabashedly displays his firm grasp on the many feathers in his cap.  He never shies away from working the crowd, freestyling, showing his writing skills in the minimalist slam poetry style or the high intensity rapping and yelling of his songs in any show I've seen him perform and that sort of brave consistency is something that makes him such a great performer to catch.

During my set I performed mostly songs from the new album, which was a lot of fun to just get loose in a new venue among a handful of rappers and writers that I enjoy and respect!  In the middle of my set, Dodgy Sorts came in which was a nice surprise and threw a bunch more energy into my set. Here was my setlist...

Sketch Tha Cataclysm finished off the show with his signature high-octane densely written raps delivered with technicality while stage antics and witty, sarcastic banter populated the spaces between the impressively woven songs.

Also, while setting up my merch table I was beatboxing and ended up drawing the attention of this guy Vaughn who I chatted with on and off for the remainder of the night and we exchanged some podcasts that we liked and then he invited me on a podcast, then we recorded a little beatbox collaboration freestyle outside on the street.  What a cool guy and series of interactions brought together by a shared interesting in eavesdropped beatboxing and the willingness to be social!
Here are some of Vaughn's podcast suggestions:

Overall the event was a good time full of respectable (and even rarer, respectful) rap talent.   I couldn't have asked for a more fun and encouraging start to a tour among friends.  We all packed up our merch at 1 AM or so and wished friends old and new safe journeys.  We were all set to scatter into varied directions on various musical and personal journeys through the bitter cold twilight.  I headed to Rhode Island to meet with Owen only to find myself exhausted too exhausted to safely drive and so I opted to nap in the back seat of a park and ride off of the seemingly infinite I-95.  Stuffed into a sleeping bag and huddled into the backseat of my miniature chariot, I fell asleep, putting day one of the tour behind me with, leaving it to my quickly encouraging REM to embed and ruminate on my encouraging new memories.

Thank you for reading and joining my journeys as always!
 I hope you take up my invitation to enjoy the plethora of new media that I've encountered through the links littered throughout these accounts!
Until next time...
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo