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day permlink Thursday, 6 June 2002

permlink Bob Hillman!

I'd like to recommend a musician to all my readers... I mentioned him a while back, but it's time to mention him again. His name is Bob Hillman. He's a clever poet and songwriter and guitarist who is alternately funny, engaging and affecting on stage with his raw, honest voice and his direct, catchy songs. Listen to the sample MP3 of "Communists" (linked near the bottom of the page) to get a sense of him while I elaborate...

I mention him because there are a couple of recent recordings with songs by him (which I'll get to) and because he's performing in the DC area twice in the coming days:
  • Sunday, June 9: At Celebrate Fairfax! at 3:15pm on the Acoustic Stage; I presume for about a 30-45 minute set (the next act is at 4:15pm). It's $10 to get into the fair; expect to spend extra time parking if you go.

  • Tuesday, June 11: Opening for Suzanne Vega at the Birchmere. This is probably sold out, but in case it's not...
Or if you're not in the Capitol area you can look at the rest of his tour schedule, accessible from his handy web site.

I have his album Welcome to My Century and I love it (particularly "Greenland", "Tolstoy", "Bolted Down" and "Games"). And the fascinating lyrical structure of "Valentine's Day" (ABCD-DEFG-GHIJ...) is unique in my experience, though maybe I just haven't heard the right other artists. The MP3 links there are to sample portions of the songs.

I don't have his first album Playing God, but unlike for WtMC the MP3 links on his site from that album are to the first few tracks in their entirety (free music!). Of those, I particularly like "Little Things" and "Spitting Nails".

(His recorded stuff reminds me in a funny way of Moxy Früvous' first album, in that I didn't really love their recorded songs until I heard them live and got to know their personalities. So if Hillman's recordings don't particularly please you, I still recommend trying to see him because his live show is something else entirely. And then see how you like the recordings...)

In addition to his own albums, there are a couple of recent compilation CDs with his work on them. I don't own either yet, but I plan to buy them eventually:
  • Vigil : NY Songs since 9/11 -- a benefit CD containing work from New York artists that focuses on the terrorist attacks and their aftermath. Includes work from Hillman, Suzanne Vega, Christine Lavin, and many others. They provide MP3 clips of the first half or so of each song, so you can get a good sense of it.

    I first heard Hillman's "Communists" (only available on this CD so far, I think) when we saw him open for Suzanne Vega last year, and I'm glad I can buy it now. It's a great song with an interesting reminder at the heart of it: wasn't communism the big threat not so long ago?
    Communists are no longer dangerous
    They're not even close to the top of the list...
    The other song on the CD by Hillman ("World Trade Center") sounds mighty good too.

  • Songs Inspired By Literature, Chapter One (see for more information about the project) contains Hillman's song "Tolstoy" (which is also on his second album, so I already have it as well as the Vega song). The other songs on it look very promising, though; Springsteen, Aimee Mann, Grace Slick... it's a nice concept for an album, and apparently could even be educational if you wanted it to.
I eagerly await his third album. There's a song he did last time called "The Year of Celebrating Nothing" that I'm dying to hear again (and isn't on any recording I've found).

...and just to empty out my list of Bob Hillman links, here's a page linking to a video stream of him performing at the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in August 2000. (Skip to about halfway through to find him).

Anyhow, that's my plug for him. And I'm not related to him or benefiting from his success, I just enjoy his stuff immensely and truly think more people should know about him. If you try him, let me know what you think. permlink  

permlink weapons of mass distraction

Bush seeks new agency on homeland security [MSNBC]
The announcement comes as Congress investigates potential security lapses prior to Sept. 11. FBI Director Robert Mueller was to testify Thursday about the agency's failure to anticipate the terror attacks. ... The White House has stepped up efforts in recent days to shield Bush from criticism that his administration did not do enough to prevent the attacks. Bush's announcement is designed in part to steal some attention from the congressional hearings, White House officials said.
Discipline must be slipping if they're actually admitting what they're doing as they do it. permlink  

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