Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Album Review: Dinosaurs In Vietnam "Long Island Excavation Vol 3"

Thanks for joining me, AllOne family!!!
     While I've been working "behind the scenes" on my new album "Rapologues" and my short story collection "Water Coolers & Camp Fires" and other such personal creative endeavors, I've taken it upon myself to do a few external projects with talented friends.  One place that I've met a lot of ambitious and personable audio/visual artists, business folk, creative types is a new gathering called "The Rendezvous" that was started by my brilliant friend and collaborator Pete DeMaio.  It's sort of a "networking group", but more on that later, as it grows and is able to invite and accept more and more people to share ideas/resources and help one another achieve their goals.  One opportunity that came my way was the chance to listen to and do a write up the Dinosaurs in Vietnam's 3rd compilation "Long Island Excavation".... lets get into it!  The project is free to download and a great treasure so I'll start by saying that I recommend you go right now to listen to it and download it immediately, but I'll get into more of it below!  EVEN IF YOU DON'T READ THIS LENGTHY REVIEW, PLEASE JUST CLICK THE COVER ART BELOW AND LISTEN TO THIS PROJECT, I PROMISE YOU THAT YOU WILL FIND AT LEAST A FEW NEW FAVORITE BANDS!!!

"Long Island Excavation is a compilation being re-released July 8th
at the Huntington Cinema Arts Center. Click this caption to DL FREE!

Dinosaurs in Vietnam is the brainchild of the talented and generous Long Island musician, engineer, friend and mastermind of many mad hats Will Forthman.  (Will actually played some role in at least half of the tracks, be it instrumental or production oriented!)  DiV has been in existence for nearly a decade, a DIY label based out of Lindenhurst run by passion and a belief in the flourishing creative scene. I asked him for an explanation of DiV (and the history and details behind this compilation) and he had this to say...

"Dinosaurs in Vietnam was started in 2007 ... Originally intended as a label, it morphed into the moniker I used to promote local shows. I booked a number of tours for Massapequa-based bands.... In 2009 I relaunched DiV as a local DIY label--- the original goal-- and released the first comp "Save Our Heads For The Future", which featured two songs from six bands. I released Volume 2, "Crude Oil" in 2010 featuring 15 bands. Both of these comps stayed true to Wrong Islands DIY aesthetic which I always appreciated... In 2012, my uncle finally completed his basement studio. Dubbed "Lindy Studios", DiV entered its third phase. Now we had a studio and I started a number of recording projects...During this time I started the beginning stages of volume 3 of the compilation series. I had a hand in about half of the 21 tracks on it; the other half were pre-existing tracks other artists contributed. With the help of Mike McManus, I finalized the track listing and Paul Motisi created the cover art, something that was kicking around in the caverns of my brain for years.... Together with Mike and Paul, volume 3 of the series "Long Island Excavation" was born. It is my most ambitious project to date and I am very proud of it. It encompasses all of the passion and belief I have in our local art community here on Long Island, and it is a photograph of a mere sample of the astounding talent we have here."

The Tracklist (click the band names to visit their site)
I've highlighted my absolute favorites,  that I can't get out of my head and/or returned to obsessively:
1. Tom Moran Band - "Pushing The Drug"
2. Joyce Nancy - "The Confessor"
3. The Grand Cannons - "Dead By Dawn"
4.The Boys Club - "When We're Up Again"
5. Killer Wails - "Four Four For Sure"
6. Rice Cultivation Society - "Cell Phone"
7. The Vigilance Committee - "Ordinary Things"
8. Yankee Longstraw - "When The Son Of A Bitch Comes Back"
9. Helicopter Goes Kaboom! - "Electrotease"
10. Moon Tooth - "Storm Pill" 
11. Bdee + The Venomous Oranges - "Cold"
12. Don Miguel - "Braille/Messages From Big Truck
 (ft. Steve Rey, SamueL & Nick Lee)"
13. Monsignor Ghost - "Better Down Than Up There"
14. Sugarskull Piledriver?! - "Highspots"
15. AfroDJMac - "I'd Never Leave You (Crashed)"
16. Jay Briggs - "Catalyst"
17. My Summer - "Compromise"
18. Motion Ocean - "High With You"
19. Unaware Wolf - "We Come True Too"
20 More Than Skies - "White Pine Way"
21. Plutonium Lovecraft - "The Butcher"
22.The Final Composite (For You)

A diverse collection
     This project is sort of an eclectic Long Island music scene starter kit.  Still, the fact that this lengthy compilation is just skimming the surface is a remarkable truth, speaking to the depth of activity and talent in the Long Island music community!  Will has valiantly arranged for us a delectable sonic smorgasbord featuring a myriad of styles (as any compilation could be expected to) but even more so since DiV isn't necessarily a label so much as a scene-support-hub-collective.  Despite the diversity present here, McManus and Forthman have tastefully arranged the tracks so that the transitions between song styles and genres are relatively natural and comfortable (save for the jarring switch from the catchy chanting Yankee Longstraw song into the Helicopter Goes Kaboom! track, but to be fair, H.G.K.'s music is unique and would stand out anywhere).   Many of these songs are so cleanly mixed and arranged that you'd think they come out of a retail-bought CD (Tom Moran Band, Joyce Nancy, Moon Tooth, Don Miguel, The Grand Cannons, The Vigilance Committee some examples) , while others are more lo-fi, raw and gritty (The Boys Club, Monsignor Ghost, Sugarskull Piledriver?!, Helicopter Goes Kaboom!, Plutonium Lovecraft to name a few) .   It's a healthy balance of these two types of presentations that maintain the DIY authenticity that Dinosaurs In Vietnam treasures, while also proving all of these reputable grassroots artists have considerable pride in their work.
     A cool little background informational side-note speaking to the familial quality of creativity in this scene and on this project is that many of the performers on these songs are interchangeable from band to band.  Brian of BDEE + the Venemous Oranges, also produced the Monsignor Ghost track.  Brian and Mike McManus make up Helicopter Goes Kaboom! while Mike McManus a.k.a. Don Miguel also drums on the Tom Moran Band track.  Lauren Diehlman sings on that song as well as in Killer Wails and Unaware Wolf.  Phil Corso recorded the drums for The Vigilance Committee's song as well as the More Than Skies track.  Nick Lee is the madman virtuoso guitarist from Moon Tooth and is also featured on the Don Miguel track.  The designer of the DiV logo Paul Motisi is also responsible for the final track by Plutonium Lovecraft.  Those are just the creatively incestuous connections that I am aware of.  The point being, not only is this collection a testament to the great music that can be found in our area, but also the great congregation of people and creative types dedicated to the enjoyable and social process of creativity and music.

...Thoughts on the music..
     The balance and comfort of the track listing for the first eight tracks is mostly achieved by staggering the uptempo and mellower songs.  Tom Moran Band's unrelentingly catchy opener, "Pushing The Drug" starts the collection, juxtaposing an uplifting sound with somber lyrics written with signature wit communicated with beautiful melodies and harmonies.
     The Joyce Nancy track is more openly downtrodden, but the frankness and gentle strength of her voice and the lyrics it sings make this song a powerful and addictive listen as opposed to being a maudlin deterrent.  The Grand Cannons song immediately picks the mood and tempo back up, their sound is somehow familiar and this won't be the last time I'm saying it, but I feel like it'd be perfect for a skate video.  The Boys Club track is so short and low-fi that it feels like a voicemail interlude to the fantastic Killer Wails track "Four Four For Sure".  Everything in this song, from the vocals and arrangements, the guitar tones and the oddly catchy drum parts make me feel good and it plays in my head. constantly.
     The mood mellows out again when Rice Cultivation Society comes in, an entrancing sincere sort of song about our dependency on technology.  It feels like lullaby that'd be in the credits of an independent film, and while it's a great song, it's a little slow going for me personally to get hooked on it.  The Vigilance Committee picks the pace back up with one of the most addictive songs from their debut album "Lost Again", "Ordinary Things" never lets up on the musical changes while still holding down an impressive accessibility.  They deliver another song whose guitar parts, vocals and drum patterns take turns embedding themselves in my mind.  Yankee Longstraw brings in an epic track with clever and visual lyrics "I'm a paleontologist, I've got a bone to pick with history..." and chanting lyrics and a grand arrangement.
      The album has a majority of indie folk/rock and delineations around these labels, whatever labels mean, be it folky and nearly country vibes or progressive elements.  Tracks 9-14 dip into a sort of interlude of alternative/experimental deviation from the indie-rock starting off with the aforementioned "Helicopter Goes Kaboom!" track (a band that could be lauded for being paradoxically "typically atypical"), leading into the fantastic technical metal track by Moon Tooth.  Followed by a  BDEE + The Venomous Oranges track that feels like Block Party in space, that I could totally imagine being in a skateboarding video.  Then a two song foray into hip hop with Don Miguel and Monsignor Ghost, which is admittedly a case where the production outclasses the emcees.  Steve Rey and SamueL take a sort of message route lyrically that isn't bad but it doesn't necessarily feel like anything we haven't heard while Monsignor Ghost takes the laid back humorous approach.  Sugarskull Piledriver?! pulls us roaring back into the rock realm into a wild lo-fi song with many varying parts giving shine to each instrument.
    The remaining set of five songs all (to me at a least) possess a common denominator that is a sort of nostalgic and beach/summery (no pun intended) vibe.   AfroDJMac gives us a sweet love song of sorts that makes me feel like I'm driving in the beach in the 50s, despite what his name might have you think.  Jay Briggs' song "Catalyst" slipped by me a few times (one thing that could be said to be faulty of any project of this considerably length is that songs just get lost amid the track list, particularly towards the end) However, upon repeat listens this is one of my favorite tracks and it saddens me that I can't seem to find any information on his music.  This is another song that is totally enveloping to me in its presentation, so many layers and the vocals drenched in reverb and the mix is just great.  It reminds me a little bit of Band Of Horses, which probably (I'll say it for the third time) feels like it'd be the backdrop to someone's part in a Transworld Skateboarding video.
     The next track, "Compromise" is one of my favorites on the compilation.  I caught a My Summer live set a few months ago and they played so tightly and with a great energy.  They're easily a new favorite band of mine (I think you'll find a lot of new favorite bands in this compilation, and will certainly be inspired to start seeking out the obviously verdant music scene that is thriving on Long Island).   The song has beautiful parts on all instruments and the vocals are wonderful.  While the majority of the parts are really bright, the lyrics are rather sad and the song ends saying, sincerely and poignantly, "we've all been used, some of more than others...I'm not a sucker for a happy ending anymore...we've all been had, then they sell you the box you die in.".  To juxtapose this final sentiment we have a direct and upbeat singing and dancing ukulele driven song by Motion Ocean.  Simply and obviously dedicated to just hanging out with friends, smoking pot and chilling.  Not my cup of tea, but an infectious song that I could see plenty of people loving and dancing and really enjoying, I've been to some shows of theirs and they're great people and musicians and their performances are excellent..
     Everything about the Unaware Wolf (aside from their badass name) song reminds me of hanging out on an island, I feel like it could be in a Pixar short film.  It's fun, its mellow and cute, good feelings.  More Than Skies shares a single from their monstrous triumph self-titled double album "White Pine Way" brings back a more indie rock feel with a catchy guitar lick and lovely lyrics and a more complex arrangement than we've heard in a few songs.  I love this song and knew about it prior to this compilation because I follow More Than Skies and love Adam Tomlinson's work, but of all of the ones on the double album I feel the mix of energy and oddly familiar reminiscent nostalgia of this song is the perfect choice and placement for the compilation. It's enjoyable and digestible while having plenty of substance and structure to puzzle over and enjoy.  For the final song of the compilation, Plutonium Lovecraft delivers us a lengthy relaxed song fronted by deep vocals and a catchy melody.  "The Butcher" handles the big responsibility of ending an epic compilation rather well, with a very outro feel fading out of a big fun silly part with busy drums and gang vocals and a repetitious catchy ending vocal line.
     Will Forthman and Mike McManus end the compilation with a hilarious conversational thank you to the listeners and the bands involved.  This ending is unique and flawed and silly and sincere and I think it is the final comprehensive statement literally and figuratively with their genuine joy in being a part of such a scene and a lifestyle.

     Please listen to this incredible compilation, rife with talent and imagination manifested in all sorts of audible goodness!  Be comforted in knowing each and every one of the people involved in this project are excellent human beings who make music and live life with unapologetic ambition and a seemingly ceaseless amount of skill!  So go ahead, stream it, download it and share it, I promise you will find a handful of bands that you love.  Another reminder, Will and the gang are re-releasing the project Wednesday July 8th and celebrating this momentous occasion with a show at the Huntington's Cinema Arts Centre, one of Will's favorite Theatre's on Long Island!  The show will feature artists that are included on the CD.  The physical copies will be $3 but the compilation will always be for free online at www.dinosaursinvietnam.com .

-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Album Review: Alexa Dexa's "Year Of Abandon"

Hello Friends!
I know I've been inactive on this blog, but trust me, it's the only place in my life that I've been dormant!  2015 has been super productive so far and I've been involved in a lot of projects, (excitingly my forthcoming album "Rapologues" (release date TBA) and my new book "Water Coolers and Campfires",  "The Vigilance Committee's EXIT A HERO" and I've attended and participated in several incredible concerts! One way to keep up with me daily is at my new AllOne Instagram page ( follow me @allonevoice)!!
 I will post later about all the great things that have been going on but I post today to review my once-tour-mate and always-good-friend Alexa Dexa's new album "Year Of Abandon", out May 15th! ORDER IT BY CLICKING HERE! ...and I'll be performing at her record release show may 15th as well. Here is a link for info on that show: Alexa Dexa Album release show.

When my former tour mate Alexa Dexa asked me to review her new album, I was flattered and intimidated.  This is a testament to her prowess and considerable knowledge and talent when it comes to composing and performing music.  As her tour mate, I can say that she is entirely authentic and lives and breathes her art and message.  Her music always comes from a genuine and curious place, both intellectually calculated and innocently/youthfully curious and whimsical.

"Year Of Abandon" is her first release since 2013's "A Bedtime Anthology".  Since then she's toured the country for months at a times, been to Europe and has clearly been collecting memories, muses and adding to her questionably healthy (joke) abundant collection of odd toy instruments and knick-knacks.  Year Of Abandon builds on the grand and dramatic electronic compositions featured on her 2012 release "A Symphony Of Band-Aids For The Visionary Wound" and the stripped-down mellow, pretty lullabies from "A Bedtime Anthology"  and adds sounds and visions she's learned and toys she's collected.

     Year Of Abandon is arguably her best offering to date.  Alexa has the special and unique capability to be invitingly vulnerable with her voice while simultaneously have intimating strength and command.  It is a complexity she controls deftly and appropriately, using her talent only when an idea asks it of her, never unnecessarily boastfully, yet still we are always impressed.  This is probably her most beautifully mixed/mastered album (thanks to Melanie Balderas).
 Here are some notes on the tracks.

This track invitingly opens the album up with one of the most straightforward approaches on the project.  There's an intriguing drum pattern with her trademark bells ring out and ambient sounds that feel like you're (appropriately) in an aquarium.  Over this entrancing arrangement, beautiful harmonies sing fantastic lyrics woven with nautical metaphors. "Delicate as glass, we peer through the surface to find what lies beneath"  The dynamics between the energy of the verses and the chorus are arresting.  Easily one of my favorite tracks.
Speed It Up (Now):
This song has a delicacy and intelligent vulnerability with a literal lyrical and musical invitation to move and swing along with it.  The music goes from a slow open with with panning electronic noises and desk bells into a sparse, building a sort of slow tension in the verses until finally the chorus offers a release that beckons us to move. It is emotive and effective and in one of my favorite moments when she builds and sings "I feel it in my lungs, you're taking away my breath, my heart is going thump thump in my chest" in the prechorus you really feel it through the music and the execution of the lines when the chorus comes in on the final chorus.
This one is brooding and seems intent on unsettling us.  It's a stark contrast to the prior track and it took me a minute to get accustomed to it.  Her lyrics are sophisticated and emotional poetry, in this song they are committed to avian related symbols.  This song is the album's first foray into depicting Alexa's adept portrayal of darkness, she creates an ominous sonic environment with a haunting array of toy recordings in the chorus and her utilization of field recordings of birds set a clear mood and topic.  It solidifies her ability to remain tightly focus and committed in portraying a concept/topic or mood in her songwriting, setting obvious and effective moods and tones for the listener that we are helpless (and often delighted) to be moved by.
The Only Thing Left:
This is another favorite of mine, she opens with the lyrics"It's not too long ago, I lost my bearings, the swiftest compass couldn't set me straight" Bizarre arrangements with jarring tempo changes that recall the sputtering and lagging then winding pace of music boxes. A little more than two minutes in, we hear what sounds like a faint EKG machine. Then she sings a bridge: "It' is desolate when you wake up in prison..it is desolate when you can't wake up" and leads into a sort of overwhelming dark pile of sounds dropping off into a reflective intro singing oohs and ahhs vocal runs that feel like perhaps the passing of a soul from the prior chaos.
This is a newer and fleshed out version that we heard close out "A Bedtime Anthology" (listen to that version HERE) the juxtaposition of dark and glitchy production against the almost jovial youthful warm sounds of the toy instrumentation, desk bells, toy piano and a whole little orchestra of clinking, grinding, tapping clicking toys offers her signature arrangement.  It offers one of the easiest to catch onto choruses of the album and a strong offering.
Priceless Measuring:
Priceless Measuring is an example of a song where there are so many subtle aspects and additions to the music, toys shifting and clanging and winding around the arrangements.  The intrigue of Alexa's affinity for toy instruments means that we are always hearing something new as she hoards fascinating little objects that invites them along her little parade.  She sings quietly and intensely, "hush hush baby don't cry. I'd crawl around legless before leaving you behind.  Trust, trust the truth you can't hide. Not even my arms can hold the weight of your pride". This is a song so confessional, one gets the guilty feeling they're listening in on a phone conversation or reading a diary.  This is an intimacy shared by only the purest and most admirably sincere artists. The closing lyrics are half sung and spoken like a slam poem among bells that feel like trickling raindrops.  I have a feeling if I listen to this at a particularly reflective moment I won't help but bawl my eyes out.
This is another favorite of mine ever since I heard it live.  The instrumentation and vocals are both probably the catchiest and quickest on the album.  We hear the rare   It has a sexy open confidence that isn't always immediately/plainly stated in Alexa's music and lyrics.  "Ain't nobody looking for what I got and I know I got it....."  In the chorus on the repeated line "gang" she effortlessly reaches ambitious notes that will get stuck in your head and you'll be frustrated you likely can't sing them or grasp her fluttery and ever-shifting vocal melodies.  There's a key pause in the beginning of the second verse "tell me who gives a DAMN about old war stories?! So I can enlist them to listen to mine..."  and it's in these subtle decisions we are reminded of her mastery as a clever and relentlessly effective and brave designer of songs.
Abandon Ship: 
With what sounds like cartoon western gun shots and breaking glass and shifting mechanical part sounds taking on some form of a percussive role in the foreboding and vaguely political/dystopian concepts in the song.  Alexa presents what might be the peak of her experimental  and literal approach to employing sounds to convey her purposes.  Dramatic synths play cinematically in the background with dissonant bells. "Empty and desolated vessels for the creative to fill with visions.  Or watch as cement falls into ash and earth overtakes it..." This one almost feels like a short film, there's a very visual aspect to this song and it feels like an interlude or a short vignette.  She advises us to abandon ship as we lead into the last track with a final gunshot.
Atomic Bridges (For Cellular Lovers):
A sort of sci-fi duet, romantic story.  "he asked me honey how'd we meet? and I said baby real sweet, I told him "wormholes through star-stuff brought me to you"  Nigel Newton plays the vibraphone, speaks poetic layers underneath her in the verses and joins her in beautiful harmonies and trades lines and layers.  He does a fantastic job filling the role of being the first vocal guest of her discography (When you've got a voice like Alexa's, who needs collaborators?  When someone is playing a male perspective in a cosmic themed romance of course!)  This is a strong closer, original, ambitious and memorable.

     Overall, Year Of Abandon, while at times challenging, is an undoubtedly excellent album.  I would argue is her best, as it builds upon all the strengths of her prior efforts and adds all sorts of new ideas and sounds she's come across along her daring travels.  As the title suggests and the songs ring out, it seems to be a project concerned with letting go, with healing wounds or moving on in spite of them, with focusing on the flight of the nestling, with the motion of the sea, with looking out into the expanse of space, walking away from the war, liberating ourselves from bleak pasts, knowing our worth and our ability to build new and endeavoring to do so.  It feels like a goodbye in a hopeful sense as we stubbornly intend on a brighter future because we deserve it.  Damn right.
    It's fantastically original and has great imagination that is expertly executed.  Some people may be intimidated or befuddled by her sometimes haunting moods or esoteric vocals and experimental approaches but this is the kind of dense yet bare music that you feel first, and settle into and keep discovering new things to love and learn about it and from it.  What feels depressing in one moment sometimes turns to shockingly bright and catchy vocal runs that you are forever stuck trying to sing.  If you can, catch her live somewhere around the country and definitely support Alexa Dexa because she is 100% authentic and if you give her a chance, she will never fail to give you all of her intellectual and emotional faculties in a song or album.

Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo
p.s. If you enjoyed this and want me to review your album...it might be a thing I'm beginning to do.. Email me at AllOneVoice@gmail.com and we can talk about it.  Big things coming!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

'14 Reminiscence/ '15 Resolutions ... Happy New Year!


Hard to believe it's 2015 already, although it is easier for time to seem like it happened quickly AFTER it has transpired.  I hope ya'll have had a safe, memorable and happy time celebrating!! I want to thank all my family and friends new and old for contributing to a special year for me! Anything you're proud of that happened in 2014? Anything you're hoping to accomplish in 2015?
Here are some resolutions/goals for 2015:
-Finish and release both the "Rapologues" album and my first book "Water Coolers & Campfires"
-have more of my work published (poetry or prose)
-Make an official AllOne website
-Release more video content (of all sorts)
-Continue to read/Write/workout every day
-Spend more time with family 
-use my phone less and/or more like a phone
-learn from everything/everyone
-be loving, gentle and present
-be open to new experiences
-don't fear failure, only inactivity

2014 Recap:
2014 felt like a really transient and active year.  In no particular order here are some events that occurred immediately stand out to me I'm proud of:

**In the fall I moved into a new house, my first consistent/reliable residence in a while with two great friends for roommates, whom I can write and make music alongside in a comfortable and friendly environment!

**Released a new AllOne// D.o.drent// Tony Mahoney album "Creative Differences (A Split)" with Owen Dodrent Lefebvre, performed with him and got to know him a lot better.  The release show for this was absolutely phenomenal, so momentous!  By the way, the project is now available on Itunes as well for you apple owner's convenience...Creative Differences Itunes Link HERE  

**I stuck with my dedication to traveling as much as possible during long and short tours nearly every month. probably 2-3 months collectively out of state, The Onederlust tour was the biggest trip of the year (and my biggest solo venture yet!) and took me around and of the country to Canada and thanks to the generosity of so many good people, it was a beautiful experience and a huge success!

**Wrote a lot of songs/poems/prose finished writing a few albums/EP's I was working on (Including collaborating with my buddies KNife & Miggs (check out the experimental track "Least Informed" that I contributed my poem "anti-social-net-work-ethic" to from KNife's new album "ICONOCLAST" ) and also this track "The Hunger" with E.B. Phillips. 
**Made Progress on my forthcoming album "Rapologues" and my impending debut short story collection "Water Coolers and Campfires"

**Helped see Andrew Mesmer's first show "Believe Me, You Won't"  finally come to fruition, which was a hell of a journey and a brilliant and successful event! Read about that here.
**Placed top 3 in my first poetry slam at Walt Whitman Birthplace Association with my aforementioned poem "Anti-social-net-work-ethic"

**I had 2 poems published for the first time in the anthology Bards Annual 2014 ("Anti-Social Net-Work-Ethic" and "Rush Hour 98' ")

**Had my short story publishing debut with "The Painter" and read it aloud at the anthology release (both thanks to The Bards Initiative)

**Went to see Italy for a week with family for the first time.  That was an awe-inspiring event that produced a ton of emotions and writing...you may see some inspired works in "Watercoolers and Campfires"...

**Exceeded 1,400 fans on the AllOne Facebook Page (The location of the attention and the number may sound trivial, but it is a surreal representation of a beautiful net of support I never would have expected and that I'm always baffled by and grateful for!)

**Made my first radio appearances (and several thereafter on WUSB) thanks to Jim Davis and Say Whats Radio with Kaila Mullady. Listen to Kaila and I doing an adaptations of "Work In Progress" and also remixing the "Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air theme".  Also, thanks to my dear new friend, Chicago's own beautiful Jenna Anast, whom I met and befriended while on the AllOnederlust tour and who showed me around and invited me on her radio show in Chicago at one of the universities!!

**Filmed and released a few more videos thanks to Sean Ageman and Washed Up Media as well as Kristine Clifford and Dan Pritchard.  "Building After Buildings" and "Termagant" are the two most notable and almost cinematic poem-videos from the bunch.

** Books I read in 2014:
White Fang by Jack London // There's No Such Thing As Far Away, BiplaneOne and Hypnotizing Maria by Richard Bach // Armaggedon in Retrospect and Welcome To The Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut // Zen In The Art Of Writing and One More For The Road by Ray Bradbury // The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell // The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck // 23 Shades Of Black by K.J.A. Wishnia // Journey To Ixtlan by Carlos Castenada // Hip Hop America by Nelson George// V for Vendetta, From Hell and The Watchmen by Alan Moore // The Complete Classic Illustrated Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle // Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan// Binary by John Lange ( Michael Crichton) // Green Hills Of Africa by Ernest Hemingway // Wildwood Imperium by Colin Meloy // The First Men In The Moon by H.G. Wells // McSweeney's Quarterly Concern issue 13 // Doctor Sleep by Stephen King // Arabian Nights // Chicken Soup for the Soul (Inspiration For Writers) // Kidnapped by Robert Lewis Stevenson // This Side Of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald // The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold // Egghead by Bo Burnham // Witches Of Eastwick by John Updike // Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill // 5 works by John Leguizamo // Flint by Louis L'Amour // Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow // The Burden of Proof by Scott Turow 

**Most importantly I've spent a lot of time with family and old friends, exercised, adventured, read and wrote nearly everyday and I've met so many new and inspiring people that I'm happy to call my friends and been motivated by all of the new lives and stories I've encounter. **
 This has been an enriching year...Thank you all so much, let us all continue to build toward our goals and ideals, while shaping sincere relationships with one another.  There is no possible way to get anywhere enjoyable without the help and love of others (that goes both ways, you must love and help others as well!)
Always be loving, Always Love being!
Sincerely yours,
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Andrew Mesmer's "Believe Me, You Won't!"

Happy Holidays my friends, I hope they've all gone well!  Welcome to 2015!
    2014 was full of enriching endeavors for me and I'm going to take a bit of time to discuss one of the most important experiences of this past year...  It has been a little over a month since my good friend, mentalist Andrew Mesmer premiered his debut full length mentalism performance titled, "Believe Me, You Won't" at the Performance Arts Studio in Port Jefferson. I wanted to introduce you to him and reflect a little on the experience, as I had a behind the scenes hand in developing the show with him and it meant very much to me!  First I invite you to check out his website at www.andrewmesmer.com and like him on HIS FACEBOOK PAGE follow him on twitter @AndrewMesmer ..go ahead! If you want something memorable for your next gathering, Andrew does private events, corporate events and can adapt his capabilities and presentation to nearly any event type with top notch professionalism for reasonable prices!   Oh you're back? Okay good, we both thank you!  Onward and forward...

Meet Andrew Mesmer
    Andrew has been a friend of mine for nearly 15 years and to be honest I have never known a more diligently motivated person.  Once he sets his mind on a goal or interest, he dives headlong into it and learns everything about it and does it well.  His discipline and dedication seems almost inhuman, and I joke to him about it often, but that just may come from the generally lazy or unambitious social climate we've grown up in and scarily grown to accept as normal.  His doggedly ambitious exception to this is inspiring, to put it mildly.
     His stage presence is amiably authoritative, comfortable and impressive.  No matter the room or space he is performing in, his confidence and skill draws you into the world of the psychological theories he is sharing and the interactive awe-inspiring examples he employs.   During Andrew's charismatic performances you will be likely taught some new fascinating thing, while simultaneously having the rug pulled out from under you while he compromises the reliably predictable world that you always grew to accept as truth.  He went to Five Towns College for acting and stage production and also hosted an incredible weekly open mic for three years at Cool Beanz Coffee House that cultivated the talents of myself and many others as well a network of many friendships among the attendees that endure still to this day.  He also performed magic there and over the years with that aforementioned dogged studiousness I've seen his interests and talents range gradually from traditional magic to more complex, sophisticated and impressive feats that fall under the umbrella of mentalism.

What is Mentalism?
   Mentalism is a form/style of performance and performer that combines a mosaic of talents/studies including illusions, psychology, theatrics and crowd interaction.  As Andrew says with efficient succinctness in his opening monologue of "Believe Me, You Won't"  "I manipulate the five senses to create the illusion of a sixth." ... when his job is done correctly (and it always is) he rides the seam between reality and illusion, and you're unable to tell which from which.  He doesn't claim to have any special powers, simply just admits that he studies interesting human phenomena and things like muscle reading, body language, lie detecting and employs these and other ideas to give a compelling show that would convince you he is actually in your head!

Believe Me, You Won't recap
A bit about the venue:
Believe Me, You Won't was a two night show on November 14th and 15th (Friday and Saturday) at the aforementioned Performing Arts Studio in Port Jefferson.  The venue was a sort of smaller black box theater that seated 70 people cozily.  It was an intimate and adequate space for the performance and the people who run it were very kind and accommodating with us.  The fees for rental are reasonable, if you're looking to attend shows or put on one, I recommend checking out their site that I linked above. NOTE: We had a bit of a hard time finding a spot for this event, so if anyone knows of any black-box theaters on Long Island or smaller theaters, please email me at AllOneVoice@gmail.com or Andrew at Andrew@andrewmesmer.com .

The show:
     After weeks of preparing and advertising and word of mouth we were nervous about the turnout, but the pre-sale online tickets helped give us a decent gauge of who would show up, and luckily the response was very good.  We got a knowledgeable friend of mine Tim Bedell to help run the sound and lights and had two days of rehearsals leading up to the show to determine the most efficient use of the space and the technology available to us to accommodate the show's needs.  For online ticket purchases we used a website service and app called www.eventbrite.com which we found worked out really well, our audience members considered it really intuitive and the majority of our attendees got their tickets beforehand.  We nearly packed the place out both nights between pre-sale tickets and walks-ins, both nights the audience was wall to wall.  The Saturday night showing was the big night and we nearly had to turn people away at the door!  
   Without giving too much away...the show ran for about an hour and a half and was comprised of non-stop crowd participation, interesting theories and routines and between the men and women, young and old, magicians and laypeople, everyone's reactions were eyes wide and jaws dropped in astonishment.  A compact audience and personable stage was a perfect combination for an effectively intimate and engaged show.  Participants were taken from around the room as their hidden ideas were uncovered, muscles/pulses/gestures/expressions were read, lies were exposed, concealed drawings were duplicated, and a slew of other seemingly impossible feats were performed that lead up to a baffling finale closed both nights that consisted of half a dozen miraculous connected circumstances that combined all of the prior routines and concepts in the show and involved a considerable group on stage.  I'd say at least half of the audience throughout the show was interacted with directly and utilized in routines, so that most people's experience was much more than a passive viewing of a live act on a stage and many people walked away with personal memories of phenomenal unexplained things that happened to them or friends in the group they came with.  I worked the door greeting and taking tickets from attendees and had a great opportunity to see the difference in people before and after the show, people left wide eyed whispering excitedly to one another entirely puzzled and entertained, immersed in the world of questions and concepts that Andrew presented to them, incredible feats of psychological trickery and manipulation that left people scratching their heads with the hands that were undoubtedly worn out by enthusiastic applauding.

   All in all, both nights went even better than we anticipated especially for the debut showing!  If you were there, please share this review with others or tell us about your perspective of the event!  If you were unable to attend the show, fear not!  Andrew was gratefully requested to return by the venue anytime and he plans on revitalizing this show there at the Performing Arts Studio as well as making it a goal to bring the show to new venues throughout the island and the city as well!  Again, if you have any ideas or connections with people or facilities where he can do so please email him at Andrew@andrewmesmer.com!!
     Because of my friendship and admiration of Andrew, as well as my genuine involvement in the project, I sincerely treated the success and integrity of "Believe Me, You Won't" as though it were a project of my own.  It brought me great joy to see it come to fruition.  This show was one of my most proud moments of 2014, to share in the success of one of my best friends from the sidelines and witness the immensity of his talent, intellect, and hard work culminate finally into such a marvelous piece of work as he dazzled and puzzled an enraptured audience.
Nothing is as it seems, except for the purest of friendships!
Reality is what you make it... happy 2015, make it yours!
-Bruce "AllOne" Pandolfo