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Rhode Island, home of Moonrise Kingdom and the recently resurrected Cthulhu.

In August, Carrie and I met up with my brothers and their families for the first elder Fountain brothers reunion in at least a couple years. I met a new nephew, Arturo Nikola, and my niece, Stella Marie. My nephew Joshua and I had some good bonding time and built a super awesome tent-fort hybrid. We are unstoppable.

We made it in time to attend WaterFire in Providence, a festival in which large torches are lit along the water after sunset. Small boats and gondolas glided by with fire-breathers, fire-dancers, and large H.P. Lovecraft-inspired creatures. WaterFire ended (at least, when we left) with a strange ceremony in a different language; the only two words we could make out were “Cthulhu” and “sushi,” and we reached the conclusion that Cthulhu will give everyone sushi before destroying humanity. Still waiting on the sushi.

Moonrise Kingdom is my favorite Wes Anderson movie since The Royal Tenenbaums. It’s a wonderful love story full of action and adventure, irresponsible adults and precocious children. We visited the sets of some scenes and took photos: The meadow where Sam and Suzy rendezvous, the beach where they set up camp, and “St. Jack’s” church.

"I will meet you in the meadow."

The meadow scene – with a temporarily constructed windmill – was filmed at the Watson Farm in Jamestown, RI, established in 1789 and maintained by the wonderfully hospitable Minto family. I love them. (The 52 of 28 song “to get lost” is partly about about visiting their house, built in 1796.)

Moonrise Kingdom camp site

The beach at Fort Wetherill was beautiful; if you face away from the boat ramp and park entrance, it seems like the perfect secluded place for two young runaways to camp.

Don't park too close to St. Jack's.

We visited Trinity Church at night (St. Jack’s in the film), with its scaffolding and strange green glowing lights. The church bells sounded as we approached, and I was just waiting for Cthulhu’s hurricane of evil.

It was a great five days. We drank lots of coffee (seriously, a lot), ate apples straight from the tree, and had some much needed family bonding time.

Late 19th/early 20th century American folk music is endlessly fascinating to me and a major source of inspiration for my music, especially in my choice of musical instruments and the sonic nuances I’m always trying to reproduce. When I first listened to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music, I felt like I had a glimpse into a vastly important piece of history that was simultaneously fading away and fighting to be remembered.

WFMU shared Dinosaur Disc’s transfer of Folk Music In America earlier today. From what I’ve heard so far, Dinosaur Discs did an awesome job converting this LP series to digital format, including PDFs of the extensive liner notes. Dinosaur Disc also has a great history of recorded American music, technical information on digitizing recordings, and a great selection of downloads. Here’s to keeping American folk music history alive.

I’m always discovering (or rediscovering) inspiring and amazing music, thanks in large part to my friends who either make music or know how to listen to it. Here are some songs you may or may not have heard.

Bad Bad Hats – “It Hurts”

With its minimalist arrangement, catchy beat and lyrics like “I cross my heart and hope to die, but my heart says you’re dying to cross my mind,” you’ll realize how amazing this song is even before the kazoo solo. Lots of songwriters try to refresh cliches into truly unique phrases but not everyone is as good at it. (Looking at you, pop country songwriters.)

Hank Williams III – “Straight To Hell / Satan Is Real (Medley)”

As vulgar (and obviously un-gospely) as Hank III can be, he has a firm grasp on the honesty, tragedy, heartbreak, violence, and redemption that makes songs by the Carter Family, Marty Robbins, and Hank Williams Sr. so engaging. Even for a rebel like Hank III, I think the opening clip of the Louvin Brothers song is just as much a tribute as it is a joke.

 

Hayes Carll – “Beaumont”

This is my favorite song by Hayes Carll, an amazingly diverse songwriter who is equally hilarious and heartbreaking. I saw him play at The Moody Theater in June and he opened with a beautiful performance of this song. I try not to research these things (songs can be just as fictitious as any other art, after all), but to me it always sounded like the narrator made a long trip to let a girl know he finally gave up on her. And lines like “You looked like forever, where the water meets the shore”? Yeah, that.

 

The Pogues – “The Broad Majestic Shannon”

I listen to The Pogues quite often, especially for someone who doesn’t drink, but every so often this song comes back to me and goes through my head for a week or two (I’m not sure if I’m currently on week one or two). Although Shane MacGowan gets a lot of attention for his drunken and unpredictable behavior, he can deliver a line like “You sang me a song that was pure as the breeze” with as much romanticism and sentimentality as any sober man.

The other night I was fortunate enough to be one of the early viewers of #Doorman, a pilot that is currently being submitted to several film festivals and therefore can’t be posted online for the public. Otherwise I’d be writing and calling everyone I know, telling you all to go watch it. For now you’ll just have to trust me that it is hilarious, with top-notch writing and acting. Personally, I’m hoping this becomes a television series, motion picture, and action figures. I’d settle for a television series, though.

Doorman and I met the same way everyone meets nowadays: on Twitter, because someone retweeted him and he was hilarious. From there, I got hooked on his wildly entertaining #Doorman blog; unflinching accounts of his experiences as a hotel doorman (concierge, in the early days) that are so outrageous, unbelievable, and hilarious they have to be true.

This may not seem to have very much to do with rushmore beekeepers or folk music, but I think of Doorman as a kind of folk hero, a de facto public servant; answerer of questions, giver of directions, exactor of revenge. Someday someone will write a folk ballad about him. Maybe I’ll do it.

Mysterious and anonymous (at least to anyone who hasn’t seen the pilot), Doorman understands the absolute misery that can lead to great comedy and great art in general. I’m sure he could write great comedy without having a rough job, and even the heroic everyman Doorman wins sometimes.

I’ve been trying to write a hit record
Sleepless long nights thinking bout whatever
I’ve been trying to hang in forever

“Dreamin’ Wild” by Surf Curse

Surf Curse released their album Buds on Big Joy Records a couple weeks ago with a show at The Smell, the DIY venue in Los Angeles. I wish I could’ve been there but the drive is a little further from Austin than it would’ve been from Las Vegas. Regardless, I bought the album on bandcamp that night (because I follow the band using bandcamp’s fan profile, I got an email when it became available) and have listened to it several times through. The cassette is now available online so I’ll probably buy that, too. (Obsessed fan what?)

I met Jacob and Nick soon after moving to Las Vegas, NV when fate brought rushmore beekeepers and Nick’s former band The Advertisements together for some super fun and memorable alternative-experimental-indie rock / indie folk music shows. Nick and Jacob are absurdly talented and have exceptionally great taste in music, movies, and pretty much everything; they couldn’t produce bad music if they tried, and the spectacularly raw energy, catchiness, dreamy surf sound, and lyrical content of lo-fi indie rock duo Surf Curse is concrete proof.

Featuring a minimalistic arrangement of guitar, drums, and vocals, their songs reference underappreciated films and television shows like Heathers (“Heathers”), The Outsiders (“Ponyboy”), and Twin Peaks (“Fire Walk With Me”); they even have a song about The Smell (“The Smell Saved My Life”). Both Jacob and Nick sing and their voices seem to compliment each other naturally and effortlessly.

Keeping in mind that this is coming from a dedicated (rabidly obsessed?) fan, I recommend both Demos, a collection of their first recordings (originally singles and EPs), and the more recently recorded Buds. Some of the songs repeat between the two albums; those that don’t are worth the low price and the earlier fantastically lo-fi recordings are still energetic and powerful.

Taking the inspiration for their name from an episode of The Brady Bunch guest-starring Vincent Price and starting with the ultimate goal of playing The Smell (great interview at the dumbing of america), Surf Curse is bringing original and exceptional indie rock music into a world that always needs it.

Jacob has a lo-fi bedroom pop project called Casino Hearts and Nick creates dancy lo-fi bedroom pop music as Televisions; between the two of them, they have plenty of awesome music you can add into your rotation.

Also, about five years ago Jacob made a fantastic stop motion film using “street i’ve never seen” from throwing mud at your streetlight:

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