Thursday, January 30, 2014

In need of inspiration

Stream me your words, feed me more
than review and lesson repeat respond more
than define the noun present verb past
and progressive passing, no more connect
infer analyze discuss and say, say, say…
these dull staples, too blunt to infect
stream me words, real words
like bourbon
like shotgun
like smoke
life, open your mouth on me,
rumble your lusty throat

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Train Company: Live Hot Fun

I’d love to define Train Company with a neat label that encompasses their sound, but it’s impossible. Blues rock, yes they are that. Indie rock, that too. Jazzy nightclub seduction, yes. Gritty rock, progressive rock, they are these too. They are a rhythm even non-dancers can’t resist, a contagious joy, with sex appeal that ranges from raw lust to sweet love. They might be who you want to see if you’re “lookin’ for some change.”

I had the lucky pleasure of seeing them live in a small, local venue recently. If I loved their studio sound on Remains of an Effort, my love doubled on seeing them live. This band meshes. Young and energetic and in it for love, they play like seasoned veterans having loads of fun. I was astounded. I was snared.

Train Company is a band that understands layers and the power of subtle nuance. They know just when to hold back and when to pull out all stops and crash together. They are five guys feeding off each other’s mood and direction in the intricate building of a song.

Keyboardist Sam Wyatt taps tempos and crescendos from elegant to joyfully wild, as saxophonist Mark Alletag blows svelte seduction or a playful bounce; bassist Mike DeWitt tantalizes with rhythms that fix in our stomachs, as drummer Rob Lejman controls us with his steady beating or, with expert elation, rolls everything out. The band builds tension as they hold the song together, and singer/guitarist John Zozzaro buoyed on it all, responds to what he feels, tickling up a melody, luring us around corners, seducing us with a bluesy lust, or pounding a dynamic rhythm that lifts us off our feet.

The music drives forward, until suddenly all those separate sounds coalesce. The instruments quicken, each raising the other, and suddenly a wash of sound envelops the room. Zozzaro wails with a voice of silken seduction, rich and smooth, and guttural when need be. You’ve no choice but to relinquish, to give in to the ecstasy of release.

In this tiny venue, Train Company played all my favorites (do I have any that aren’t favorites?), and I don’t even know how many times the band hit transcendence. Always in “City Down by the Shoreline,” which is a fine example of their building mesh of sound, and the live version of “Other Side” caused universes to whirl and crash together. In the bluesy, beautiful “Change,” from their EP, guitars and lyrics built to climactic release, as Zozzaro sang, “Doesn’t matter anyway, ’cause we’re going whether or not …” and the audience relinquished to his own beautiful succumbing to the life he depicts.

A magnetic performer, Zozzaro’s vocals sometimes bubble up inside us, making the audience smile. “Bannister” had the room dancing—the sweetest sexy song I’ve heard in a long time—while “Step to Me” brings out the low and dirty, a band at work together to create raw, sensuous need.

I hadn’t realized how hot and sexy Train Company’s music is because it’s also filled with light, boisterous living. I don’t dance, but hearing them live, my body couldn’t resist their rhythmic undulations. “Still Can Feel the Heat” and “Myself in Two” blended assertion and nonchalance with intriguing appeal. “Leavin’” felt like the aftermath of a final night of sex and the thrill of new adventure. “October” was a beautiful testament to the band’s fearless experimentation and talent. They play with the history of rock in their genes, yet know how to make it new.

When Train Company plays, you see their songs taking over, how their stances alter, pulling them higher, as if the music is coming up through the floor, transporting them. Witnessing that kind of art is the greatest pleasure: immersion, surrender, and release.

At one point in that tiny venue, I looked around at the audience. I saw people smiling, dancing, and jumping to the energy, and one woman in a long, loose dress swayed sensuously, her hands resting on her front thighs getting lost in the sensuality of Train Company’s sound. Playful, hard, and happy; seductive, sensual, and heated. There were times I couldn’t contain my smile and other times when the sensuality had me wanting to sway like her, biting my lip instead.

Was it the intimate setting? I don’t know, but it was getting hot in there. 

You can hear Remains of an Effort on the Train Company website. 

Upcoming shows include

Monday, January 20, 2014

Vampires and the Sensual Awakening

I'm no longer sure there is an appeal to vampires that's any different from the appeal of pirates or cowboys/girls or folks in uniform or witches and warlocks.

One reader says it's the heightened senses conveyed in stories about vampires, another says it's the bad boy allure, another says it's the protective strength, and still more call it the aspect of danger or the tortured soul or the gift of eternity.

Couldn't most of these be applied to any antihero? Someone who is set apart whether by job or by general essence. There is something different about them. A challenge to the norm. We have to step out of ourselves and what we know, take a chance, risk.

I don't think the desire to take a risk is the same as liking the "bad boy" or "bad girl." Look how many have fallen in love with the good vampires of Twilight. But they do offer something different.

So, if the appeal of antiheroes is fairly universal, then why does one reader choose vampires and another pirates? I wonder if it reverts back to our first awakenings of sensuality or first taste of adventure.

My older sister had me watch Christopher Lee when I was fairly young. I saw something I'd never seen before. I saw a man bending over a woman who leaned her head back willingly, opening her neck to his lips. I saw something in their eyes that I'd never seen in kid-TV. Sensuality. Heightened pleasure. It looked a little dangerous but irresistible. A bit like sex.

For someone else, it might have been the cowboy sweeping the wild-haired woman up onto his horse. Or maybe that look on the pirate's face when he saw the reward of his travels: adventure. Our first taste of something new that set the adrenaline pumping and imprinted in our memory.

Stories imprint in our memory. Reading is sometimes about learning and sometimes about adventure, often both. Our peculiar passions are part of our growth.

Just as vampires have grown into our culture, the thing of the night, night's potential. They will always be here, just as the antiheroes will always appeal, in whatever dress they wear.

Something different, something to take us out of ourselves, a step away from safety, with the promise of adventure, the promise of good or wicked pleasure.

Patricia is author of the vampire novel Beside the Darker Shore. 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore 
Five-Star Review of Beside the Darker Shore 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Take a breath and fall in love...

You can't listen to one song from The Remains of an Effort and think you know this band. There's no pigeonholing a collection that ranges from driving rock to nightclub jazz, from sexy blues to timeless pop, with genres I can't name in between. There is something for everyone. How this core band of five plays together with such diversity is astounding in itself, but what's even better is how energetic, sincere, empathetic, and joyful it all sounds together.
There's nothing like falling in love with a song, finding the kind of connection that makes you want to hug the music to your heart. I said you can't listen to one song to know this band, yet it takes only one song to know you're in love. Whatever genre they're playing in, the heart of Train Company comes through to create a full, cohesive work that in the end tells a story you want to hear again.

While exploring themes of change, the kinds of mistakes we all make, the kinds of growth we all need, there's both a sense of the drive to find yourself ("Look at you/Your face in your hands and you don't know what to do"; "to fill the void you make some noise") and a sense of compassion ("Through the air the numbered masses stay connected"; "'Cause I know, I've been there before/I know I'll be there once more") always recognizing the patterns of life we all go through ("You never know you're goin' round and round/Still fallin' up/All the way") with the feeling it's all okay, maybe even the point.

Guitar, bass, keyboard, saxophone, drums--the musical arrangements (with added horns and strings) are the sound of seasoned players who know when to embellish and when to hold back, and who still like to have fun. The music doesn't always go where expected, breaking the formulas (an unexpected note held long, a sudden exquisite shift in rhythm, sax tinkering with near mischief, the softening turn of strings, the building tap tap tap of the piano), and the shifts startle you pleasantly awake. The singer-songwriter-guitarist, John Zozarro, seems to have a vision and it's played out in his lyrics, as well as in his emotionally textured yet astoundingly smooth, clean voice that is tender, sexy, triumphant, and playful. His presence rings through everything and immediately turns any bad day good.

When the album ends, to snag a new meaning from "Face in the Crowd"--"You take a deep breath then you start over."
Download an MP3 on Amazon or visit the Train Company website for more options and a free listen!

Summer Heat/Weekend Getaway Short Story

Excerpt from $0.99 story Good Brothers, the doorbell rings interrupting Richie's little sister's pool party:

Must be Clarita, I thought, as I headed to the front door to let her in.
A tiny dark-haired girl stood sandaled on the porch step, frog beach bag dangling off her shoulder. Cracking open the door, I smiled, then stopped.
Beyond her, swinging out of the car, was the brother. He rested his forearm on the car door, ginger skin, shiny like it was sun-polished, and tight over a smooth bicep and rounded shoulder. Slim and toned, he wore a white tank shirt with thin blue stripes. A breeze ruffled it over his lean chest, and it gaped beneath the shadowed clavicle.
“Hey, they’re out back,” I said absently as Clarita squeezed past me in the doorway. Kicking off her sandals, she padded through the kitchen. The backdoor protested on rusty springs and clicked closed. The brother stood, his eyes concealed by dark glasses. Black hair shone straight across his forehead. His plush lips tipped to a grin.
Jesus. Collecting myself, I stepped barefoot to the hot porch. “Hi. Thanks for driving her over.” The guy didn’t move to get back in the car. We stood staring. The sun fell like a concrete block. Then he slammed the car door and started over.
Animal, I thought. Each step was territory marked. I thought of that dancer at college, the one who’d leap the stairs, skirt down railings. There was something naturally fluid in this guy’s step. I backed up and realized I had nowhere to go. The door had closed behind me.
At the bottom of the step, he put out his hand. Shit, I was sure my hand would be sweaty. My lungs were tight. “Hi,” he said. “I was just wondering if there was a coffee shop or something nearby where I could wait.” The full lips spread with a flashing white smile. Then, slowly, he raised his sunglasses.
“Richie?” My dad’s voice startled me out of stupidity. The door cracked open, bumping my leg. “Oh,” Dad said then. Fuckin’ right, Oh.
Clarita’s brother.
He smiled again. Shit, those eyes. They were gold-brown, but more than that, gold-flecked, like the sun sparked through them. And this summer heat was framed by plush lashes and black brows arced in perfect midnight. A mere blink would stop the world.
“Hi,” he said, “I’m just waiting for Clarita. Thought there might be—”
The door urged me forward, opening wide. “Come in. Come in,” Dad said. “You can wait here. Have a margarita!”

Read more for $0.99 on Amazon: Good Brothers.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Is love simple?