As my chums know, I am fascinated by pretty much all kinds of art, both as a regularly wonderstruck lifelong student, and as an active participant in many forms, (with widely varying degrees of success, but fun in all cases).
In fact, I have so much enthusiasm, and am fortunate to have so many friends who are brilliant creators, that Large Ess is actually in the early concept stages of developing an art-magazine project (based on enduring relevance, inspiration and eye-pleasure, rather than being ad-based and ephemeral).
The more we play with the concept, the more it feels almost like an inevitable duty of respect for our good fortune – right at a nexus of teeming and yet vastly under-known talent energy and brilliance.
But as fancy, obscure, scholarly, critical, political, obtuse or eloquent as I can sometimes wax on these subjects, the point is always essences – and lessons that we can use directly in our own work and life – not a gossipy collection of our most amusing compliments and put-downs!
Which brings me to today’s special gem – Hogtown Sound!
Nada and I walk far and wide all over the place, and over the last few years, we’ve encountered these guys all over town – way out in the beaches – right downtown in the core – and the other day, in this very cool brand new shipping container based market, gallery (and truly surreal, almost painfully hip beer garden) which has just opened at the top end of the Bathurst St bridge.
What stops me in my tracks every time I encounter these guys is their sheer exuberance – the absolute pleasure they convey to everyone who is listening is not only outright magical – but also EXACTLY WHY everyone who ever took up an instrument got into it – to transport other people, and make them feel amazing (in their case, amazingly energized and happy).
Incredible amounts of hard work go into making a fluid dynamic horn-player especially – and by the time you have enough extra technique to add easy humour without ever dropping your key role, you are really firing on all cylinders (blasphemy to say it, I know – but no band ever out-played Spike Jones’ crew at their manic best). ;o)
Exactly the fantastic thing that they actually are
Each of these fellows brings a lovely combination of technique and unusually distinct musical personality. Loui Koutsouflakis on Tenor really dazzled with his fluidity, ease and articulation, the way Nick Marshall on Trombone and Max Forster on trumpet danced through the space to include the crowd in the fun without their full-voiced playing ever faltering was absurdly winning – and Bryan Yaremko’s splendid rich toned and punchy sousaphone and Stuart Mein’s snappy and highly intelligent drumming hold down a bottom that anyone would love to improvise atop. (Their also great second trumpet David Baldry was absent on Sunday)
Together, they always end up making me think of syncopation in marching bands, fantastic clever counterpoint – a whole pile of musical-bliss epiphanies from my youth crowd-in on the tails of the fun and funky thrills they deliver so honestly and unabashedly.
When they ended their (absolutely sumptuous) cover of Pharrel Williams’ “Happy” (which kept me smiling happily for many hours afterward) I came over to add a few bucks to the jar, and grab a flyer. I also had to ask (since the absence was notable, even for a busking-based act).
“Have you guys got a disk for sale?”
The exceedingly modest response? “Nope, we just play covers anyhow.”
That one really blew my mind – especially as a guy who spent many years slogging away in the underbelly of expensive ambitions and grand risky leveraged music business dreams. (So much tragic heartbreak)
They aren’t trying for a big record-deal, hunting international air-play, looking for a stylist, a huckster promoter, new ‘headshots’ and a spot on late night.
They are what they are and they like it!
Being pleased with what you are doing is itself a deeply magical life-hack.
Not only that – the sheer determined effort they’ve put in busking together has formed them into an incredibly solid unit, with the sort of deep trust and understanding of where to find one another and what mutual support they can rely on, that can only be won with many challenging flight-hours accomplished.
Gives them the sense of unnatural conspiracy – like a magician – producing impossible wonders of timing, coordination, and best of all, light playfulness.
A sense of conspiracy
I really can’t imagine anyone you could book for a wedding who would be more likely to get everyone in the room dancing and having a great time.
(Though I’ll never regret booking Gary Benson for ours, of course) ;o)
The video above is taken from their fine website – but as mentioned above – these guys aren’t about their media presence, or any other false and secondary nonsense – just pure transcendent sound and energy – so they must be seen LIVE! (and seriously folks, you MUST see them)