BoW 48 at Conor Byrne! Songs of Resistance at Folklife!

Hello there, Friends of Wax. There are a couple events coming up that you should know about if you like music, or resistance, or languages. I hope to see you at both. (Or at least one. [But really, come on, both.])

bow47Ball of Wax Songs of Resistance at NW Folklife Festival
Sunday, May 28, 7pm, Vera Stage
With Warren Dunes (Julia Massey) / Danbert Nobacon / Solvents / Hangry Hayrabs / James Kelly Pitts / Levi Fuller
If you missed the Ball of Wax 47 release show, here’s your chance at a redo! This will be a terrific night of music on a glorious stage and we will have copies of this radical collection of songs of resistance available for $5 or however much more you want to pay (every single dollar will go to the NW Immigrant Rights Project). Thanks to NW Folklife for inviting us to be a part of the festival. Check out the whole schedule here!

Ball of Wax 48: No English!BoW-48-poster
Saturday, June 3rd, Conor Byrne Pub
With Pampa / Levi Fuller & the Library / Die Geister Beschwören / The Lonely Coast / Moe Provencher
8:30pm / $8 / BoW 48 CD (NO ENGLISH) included with entry
For our next trick, BoW 48 will feature 15 songs in languages other than English. It’s quite an exciting blend of sounds, both musical and linguistic, and I’m really happy with how it’s come together. This is our most international release, as you might expect, including songs from Spain, Sweden, Italy, Germany, Argentina, and more, but there’s also a healthy dose of polyglot local music involved. And so, as always, we celebrate with live music from those locals! I can’t guarantee there won’t be a fair amount of English sung (though I know Pampa is planning an all-Spanish set, and I wouldn’t put it past The Lonely Coast to eschew English altogether), but I can guarantee a delightful evening of music and a killer compilation to take home with you after the fact.

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Get On With It: Going Home with the Foghorns

a1260674649_16The Foghorns – . . . on a Dog’s Ass Sometime
(2017, Knick Knack Records)

The older you get, the more the memories pile up. The Foghorns’ new album . . . on a Dog’s Ass Sometime (a companion piece to their 2015 album The Sun’s Gotta Shine . . .) is an album about nearing middle-age and using a rare opportunity of reflection to recall ALREADY feeling old in one’s late twenties, around the first time you truly realized life’s reality may not match previous expectations. You get nostalgic for feeling nostalgic. You recall missing the partner and/or friend you once had without necessarily missing the partner themselves. You’re too damn cynical to think any more of those old flames or hook-ups as the ones that got away.

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Let’s Live it Up While We’re Alive: Thoughts on the Foghorns . . . on a Dog’s Ass Sometime

a1260674649_16The Foghorns – . . . on a Dog’s Ass Sometime
(2017, Knick Knack Records)

“Oh, the way you used to look at me / like an old Trans Am on the road” – so begins . . . on a Dog’s Ass Sometime, the latest album from Seattle’s weary hedonists, the Foghorns. It’s a beautifully honest sentiment, one of discarded illusions, reigned-in ambition and sober self-awareness. Like an aging shit-kicker who’s gaining a gut while losing his looks, it’s both proud and resigned, an admirable achievement for a short-story or novel but a revelation for, essentially, a pop song.


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Submit to Ball of Wax 48: Any Language but English

Finnish 48 courtesy  Sami Keinänen, via Flickr.

Finnish 48 courtesy
Sami Keinänen, via Flickr.

In the interest of continuing the important work of broadening all of our perspectives, I thought it would be nice if the next volume of Ball of Wax were to contain only songs sung (or rapped or ranted or intoned or what have you) in any language but English. (Made-up languages allowed/encouraged.) No other restrictions, so feel to go crazy. And you’re welcome to use found words as long as they’re public domain. Bonus points for translations, but they’re not necessary.

Deadline: March 20th (later submissions will likely be considered, drop me a line if you have something in the works).

Guidlines: here.

Questions?: Hit me up.

Looking forward to hearing (and probably not understanding) your work!

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Ball of Wax 47 Songs: Colin Ernst – “The Lonesome American Fascist”

Longtime Ball of Wax contributor Colin Ernst makes no bones about his sentiments with the satirical cowboy song, “The Lonesome American Fascist.” The song itemizes the atrocities committed by Americans throughout history in a familiar folk style, as in: “Home, home on the range / where I killed all the folks on the plains.” The is a simple song with just acoustic guitar and voice, “The Lonesome American Fascist” cuts right to the heart of the matter: American achievements built on the suffering of the less powerful.

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Ball of Wax 47 Songs: Hangry Hayrabs – “Racist Thief”

Clocking in at a mere 1:19, “Racist Thief” packages up an anti-Trump screed as lo fi, arty bedroom punk. Acoustic guitar, glockenspiel, and voices are all the internet presenceless Hangry Hayrabs need to stage their protest song, decrying “You’re the color of a tangerine / You’re harboring a rotten spleen / Your liver is probably dirty swamp green.”  By the time the refrain “daughter fucker, daughter fucker” enters the scene, the defiance blends with disdain as the band ratchets up their protest.

Hangry Hayrabs take the stage at the Ball of Wax 47 release show on Sunday – come check them out.

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Ball of Wax 47 Songs: Greasy Slim Slider – “Summer of Hate Recap Cap in Yo Ass”

Holy crap, this song’s got it all! It’s like the the Digital Underground and Beck and the eighties and nineties. This song could easily be a protest song during the Reagan years as it is a protest song for today. That is, except for the references to the year 2016 and the internet. And guy’s got some rhymes! And some humor! Though it’s not necessarily funny what’s been going on these days. But this song is as much a riot as it’s a riot. And it’s pretty spot-on with both delivery and message.

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Ball of Wax 47 Songs: James Kelly Pitts – “Rich Kids”

James Kelly Pitts’s “Rich Kids” was one of the first submissions I received for this volume, just a couple weeks after I’d put out the call and barely a month after election day. It was clear that he had something he needed to get out there when he saw my e-mail, and get it out he did. There’s nothing subtle, coy, or playful about “Rich Kids.” It’s a dark, despairing vision of the mess we’re in, and a clear-eyed condemnation of the people who got us here. The chorus is altered slightly each time, beginning with the song’s only metaphor: “There’s a wolf outside the door . . .” and building to “Rich kids outside the door.” By the time you’ve reached the end of this brutal ballad, there’s no question as to which is more terrifying.

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Ball of Wax 47 Songs: Virgin of the Birds – “Henry Kissinger Is A War Criminal”

“He will die free and we’ll let him.” This is as much a protest song against others’ actions as it is a protest against our own failings which let others actions win out. This song implicates Henry Kissinger as well as ourselves as war criminals. We are not off the hook. Or so I gather. Virgin of the Birds‘ Jon Rooney keeps his words to a minimum in this song. Fittingly, his instrumentation is kept limited too, with a lightly strummed guitar and thick plonked piano chords occasionally arpeggiated. A thoughtful aside to events which seem to have spun out of control.

Make sure to get to the Ball of Wax 47 release show early on Sunday; Virgin of the Birds will start us off with a full-band set at 7:30 sharp.

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Ball of Wax 47 Songs: Levi Fuller – “Promise You Will Fall”

Levi Fuller‘s “Promise You Will Fall” is a dark, foreboding song thick with venom and vitriol – towards whom one could easily imagine. The constant high pitched strokes on the two and four coupled with the constant thump of the lower droning notes further help paint a dark image. It plays like a ’90s grunge anthem. The vocals seem to linger in the background, lost in a plume of smoke and fog, but actively establishing a resistance. This is a ranting response of disgust to events; Levi’s words only begin to scrape the surface of some dark nasty toxic billowing sludge. Indeed, this song paints a dreary image of things recently past and things yet to come and a promise to not sit idly by and watch.

Levi and his band The Library will close out the Ball of Wax 47 release show this Sunday at the Sunset.

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