Music: Modern Rock Band Review

What would you get if you gathered six professional musicians, chosen at random, rounded off the edges, and the generations to the nearest era so they fit into a studio together nicely, and left them to their muse with no one cracking the whip (or whipping out the crack). Well, normally not a hell of a lot. But SiennaBlu needs no rule to be the exception. Despite their diverse derivations and mish-mash of musical proclivities this hard-working cadre of six coalesce synergistically to concoct a distinctive brew that tastes great with less filling. After pouring a solid foundation with the contagiously crisp kick of their all-school rhythm section consisting of right-coast jazz and funk traps master James Coleman Miller, who raised eyebrows at 14 as the token white boy in the nightclubs of South Street, Philly, and the uncommonly funky, pocket-popping bass lines of Clendell Rundles, we then begin layering. Millers own prodigy progeny Corey Miller, who careened into prominence like he was shot out of a canon, weaves a richly orchestral lead guitar counterpoint seamlessly with veteran musicologist Eric Sachs on digital and analog keyboards. Combine all that with garage-band knee-skinner turned session-savvy rhythm guitarist, Jordon Ronsonette, who brought his own fresh compositional impetus to the already edgy harmonic concept of the amalgamation. And those are just the instrumental accomplices. With all that musicianship polished, tuned and the motor purring, Sienna Blue ices the cake with the soul-stirring vocal twang and intelligent yet balls-out lyrics of lead singer Keith Luke. Imagine Rob Thomas, Springstein, and both Van and Jim Morrison Frankenstiened together (sans electrodes), listen to that guy in your head for a minute, then you’ll be ready for Keith Luke. He leads the band with the chutzpah of a rock legend and the sensitivity of a southern sooth-saying sojourner. But above and beyond all the personal shedding, the collective decades of experience and belt notches, even beyond the seemingly endless wellspring of creative ideas they bring to each song, is that intangible spark that’s present in every successful enterprise, musical or otherwise: they love what they’re doing. Each member has found his own personal voice and finds an avenue for expressing that voice in SiennaBlu. Yet it all jigsaws together into a relaxed yet cohesive, grounded yet uplifting and unmistakably original sound, something that’s hard to come by even when they’re hatched from the same nest. It’s their skill and confidence as individuals, mutual respect, and work ethic that yields this kind of rapport and allows them to find the buoyant balance between the genre’s, generations and genetics they span. I’d recommend this band to anyone, of any age or musical inclination, because SiennaBlu Isn’t just a successful modern rock band, it’s just great music.

Text for a Periodic Table

As of the year 2010 the standard periodic table of chemical elements contains 118 confirmed elements which constitute all of the known matter on Earth. In this rendering each element is shown with its atomic number, atomic weight, electron configuration, and chemical symbol, along with information about its origin, i.e. from decay; primordial (older than the Earth itself); or synthetically produced (man made). Four pie charts indicate the ratios and percentages of elements present in the human body; in the air of our atmosphere; in sea water; and in the Earth’s crust. A separate section lists each element with the year in which it was discovered, and the scientist(s) credited with its discovery. The periodic table, as we know it today, was invented by Russian Chemist Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869. It has since been refined and updated as new elements have been discovered and with the development of new theoretical models to explain chemical behavior. The portrait montage (above) pays tribute to some of the scientists who have contributed to this process.

Black Squares (Humorous Article for an Art Blog)

Since modern art, in its early infancy, first learned to say Dada experts have been a little sketchy as to the difference between precedent-setting genius and a wet clean-up on aisle 5 at Kelly-Moore.

Back in the days when Michelangelo roamed the earth there was little question about it. Mike was cranking out the good stuff; his drunken one-eyed neighbor, Lefty Fagioli, was not. And rightly Big M got the Sistine Chapel gig; Lefty was flippin’ burgers at the Coliseum commissary.

Unfortunately, after several dozen movements, a gang of periods, and a revolution or two in art history it’s not that simple anymore. I entered a major art competition recently giving very little thought to the prospect of actually winning, especially when I saw some of the other entries: hot chicks with big racks, artists with the same last name as one of the judges—I mean, I was up against some wicked talent. But it’s kind of like the lottery: you can’t lose if you don’t play.

The big day finally arrived and the winners were to be announced. I was primed to see what kind of unfathomably gorgeous, heart-stopping masterpiece executed with inhumanly-flawless technique would beat out over 10,000 contestants. I opened the page and saw black squares. My first thought was I needed to subscribe to view the results otherwise I’d get this censored version. As I was getting out my credit card I read the interview with the first place winner. He was describing how he had used several different markers and inks to go over the black many times to make sure it was “really” black.

My first thought was, he cheated. Somebody tipped him off. He got an anonymous phone call.

“Listen pal, y’know that big competition you’re about to enter?”

“Yes? What should I do?”

“Black squares.”

“Really, that’s what they’re looking for?
Just black squares?”

“That’s it. Just black squares.
Ya can’t go wrong.”

“Gee thanks mister!”

“But you better make sure they’re
REALLY black!”

I could have done black squares. I’m good at squares, and black I’ve got. Darn, if only I’d known! Then I would have been the greatest artist in the whole wo— Wait a minute, no I wouldn’t have! Who’s smokin’ muggles?

Maybe the “good” receptors in my visual cortex were on the fritz and needed to be re-calibrated. So I scrounged up a date and we headed for LACMA . When I entered I saw a large piece of butcher paper with a pencil drawing of a penny. It was perfect. A flawless photo-realistic reproduction of a 5 foot diameter penny. I was excited! Apparently they were going to start having penny admission day at the museum soon. Then I saw an SUV, perfectly drawn in pencil on butcher paper. Then a postage stamp, in pencil, butcher paper, perfect. I was worried. If this is art then my Canon digital SLR is gonna be famous.

I moved on. Something diverted my eye from my feet negotiating the terrazzo. It was an unusual mixed-medium type of affair with no outstanding features to speak of, but maybe I just wasn’t looking closely enough. So I read the title…that didn’t help. What’s this, the medium is oil paint and elephant dung? Interesting. I’ve experimented with flow enhancers to make the paint move a little better but then I noticed a brown lump on the canvas. And my first thought was, “No he didn’t!”

He had, and among the other exhibits, there was a blinking eye on a video monitor, a plastic blow-up cartoon outer-space alien, Some pink neon thing, an original oil on canvas by Arshile Gorky…Wait a minute, what’s that doing here? I was like “huh?” to say the least, thoroughly discombobulated to say the most. I saw some other museum patrons: a perfectly reasonable looking couple in their early 30s. I didn’t want to bias their answer so I asked a completely neutral question.

“Can you believe the garbage they’re calling art these days”?

The gentleman looked at me and smiled (indicating to me he was of sound mind) and said, “I have to agree with you. My wife and I were just saying the same thing. But there is that Gorky back there, did you see it?”

“Yeah, it was beautiful, what a mind, eh”? I said. They both nodded in agreement and we went our separate ways. I caught up with my date. Just an arm-piece really, thought I’d introduce her to some culture. Show her there’s other places to see beauty, besides in a mirror. As I approached my naive little junior student of the arts she was scratching her blond head and giving me a funny look.

She walked up to me and said, “Can you believe the garbage they’re calling art these days?”

Oh, she’s a wise guy, eh? She probably overheard me talking to that couple. I’ll put her to the test.

“But did you see that pencil drawing of the penny?”

She raised one eyebrow and said, “Well it was expertly executed, but what was the point? It was completely devoid of any artistic virtue other than the rendering technique itself, which, as anyone with half a brain knows, does not an artist make.”

I indicated she was right by sticking my tongue out at her.

So it’s a farce. The whole art world has it’s head up it’s collective duff and everyone knows it. Could it be the “emperors new cloaks” syndrome? Some big-shot art critic, whom no one had the chutzpah to question, had a lapse in judgment, it looked like fun, so now all the big-shot art critics are doing it? Or is it just like politics: somebody gets paid off and next thing you know Gorky is surrounded by kindergartners?

Why then do I toil endlessly to drag vestiges of genius from my enfeebled creative muscle when it’s not the muse it’s the moolah that garners the kind of fame and fortune we all dream about, but only those with the black squares to back it up ever achieve?

The answer is simple: I am a victim of free will. I live life in the oncoming lane and I don’t always roll with the punches, sometimes I punch back. Black squares, elephant dung, decapitated Barbie dolls swimming in goats blood, are all defiant statements made to call out the rigid-minded and complacent and say, “Aw gee mom, leftovers again?” Well you certainly put mom in her place.

But wait, mom worked hard on that lasagna, what do you suggest she serve for dinner? Elephant dung? Mom just stormed out of the kitchen in a huff and forgot to turn off the oven. Unless somebody comes up with something better than mom’s leftover lasagna, you’d better serve it up.

Too late! Black squares!

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