Germany-based pianist Davide Martello who famously played John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ outdoors in Paris recently to comfort listeners travelled to Amsterdam and played next to the National Monument and the Nieuwmarkt downtown this week.
Known as Klavierkunst, Martello wants to travel to play the piano in all the capitals of the world, sometimes suggested by fans. He can now cross Amsterdam off his list. I really like the idea of a bicycle able to cart a piano around the city and calling him the ‘peace pianist’. He also played on Dutch television, which you can watch here.
Other pianists took to the free piano in Amsterdam Central Station before and after the one minute of silence held throughout the country on 16 November, playing ‘Imagine’.
Why ‘Imagine’? The slogan ‘Pray for Paris’, which was surely well meant, bothered many French people and others, such as French cartoonist Joann Sfar (some stuff is in English) – I’ll let his points speak for him. Considering the attacks were religiously motivated, ‘Imagine’ has lyrics that suggest we imagine there’s no heaven or religion, which would imply that if religion wasn’t around we would be better off, something French secular society strongly believes in.
There was once an episode of late 1970s American television show ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ where a reverend comes to the rock radio station and tries to have a bunch of songs censored, specifically ‘Imagine’:
The reverend: This is typical of the kind of secular liberal humanist point of view that gluts our airwaves. Station manager: Yeah. But we’re not talking obscenities here anymore, we’re talking about ideas, political, the philosophical ideas. First you censor a word and then you censor the ideas. The reverend: But the idea is man-centered, not God-centered. The Bible tells us to put our reliance in God, not in our fellow mortals. This song says there’s no heaven. Station manager: Ah, no, it says just imagine there’s no heaven.
Trying to smuggle alcohol into Saudi Arabia where it is illegal carries serious consequences if we believe the media. Smugglers have tried to disguise 48,000 cans of Heineken as Pepsi cola ones using crafty stickers. We could also flog the makers of Heineken, but that’s just a pipe dream.
Just this week an elderly British man living in Saudi Arabia was released from jail after spending one year in a cell for making homemade wine. More than 230,000 people had signed an online petition calling for the British Prime Minister to intervene to stop Mr Andree from facing 350 lashings, a punishment the man would probably not have survived after battling cancer and being asthmatic.
In the Netherlands, a song by Jaap Visser once told us that in fact ‘Heineken is a hard drug dealer’ and makes a great argument for banning it.
Heineken wrecks everything
Leidseplein, your marriage
Heineken is a hard drug dealer
The hospitals are full
With victims of alcohol
Heineken is a hard drug dealer
Don’t let yourself be cheated
Don’t let yourself be fooled
Heineken is a hard drug dealer
And if the stadium is violently destroyed
Heineken sits sanctimoniously at home
Counting his money
British furniture chain Seats and Sofas, which also has outlets in the Netherlands, got ‘pwnd’ with a ‘Trojan’ cake, and a song and dance. In the video below we learn that the company is well-know for advertising the price of a sofa and then in very small print adding instalments that makes the couch twice the advertised price, effectively misleading shoppers.
The Dutch and Belgian pranksters called both Dutch and Belgian shops to ask if the advertised price of 499 euro on a sofa was correct and both said yes, failing to mention the fine print story. And not reading the fine print is what bites this one shop in the arse in this video.
Although in Dunglish, the subtitles are enough to understand the prank that has been played on the furniture giant. And the video is a delight to watch: Seats and Sofas can’t be arsed to read fine print or read a situation for that matter.
Beer, broads and a bacon sandwich! Watch the video to hear more festive alliterations.
On Dam Square in Amsterdam, in front of the palace and the National Monument, we get entertainment of all kinds from hotdog sellers and human statues to ferris wheels and protests. The usual reaction to most of it is to walk past very quickly to get to where you were going, but the music this guy cranked out in the video below was worth a good listen and some small change.
Dario Rossi, an Italian with a taste for techno, is wowing a well behaved crowd. I very much like the timber of many of the objects he has: paint drums, woks and assorted pots and pans. His sense of rhythm is a delight as well and he switches back and forwards with ease. Divertiti!
Dutch band Jo Goes Hunting’s latest video ‘Run Away’ features models covered in paint by Amsterdam-based material designer Shai Langen.
Langen was asked for something ‘less conventional’ and came up with models dripping of paint, an effect that was not easy to achieve: a mixture of wallpaper paste and acrylic paint chosen as a simple technique that would let the material itself create movement.
The headpieces were made from lacquered and reinforced cardboard, and although one of the oval-shaped pieces shown is almost as large as the model’s body, many of them were scrapped. I can imagine they didn’t stay in place that easily, either.
The black and white patterns created on the models has a quality that makes you want to look and see what the next pattern will be. ‘After applying paste, I smeared paint onto the models’ bodies using cocktail sticks and rollers to create various patterns,’ explains Langen.
Professional Slovenian tenor Ambrož Bajec-Lapajne recently put a video of him undergoing an ‘awake craniotomy’ where he was asked to sing in order to ensure a successful surgery.
Bajec-Lapajne, who is now fully recovered, was diagnosed with a brain tumour over a year ago. In this video, the music neuro team of the UMC was also involved in order to assist the surgery, like a medical DJ.
“I sing two (first and last) couplets of Schubert’s lied ‘Gute Nacht’ [The first lied of Schubert’s Die Winterreise (‘The Winter Journey’): the minor-major transition in order to see if I can still recognise the key change. All is fine until 2:40 when things start to get very interesting…”
I’m a big fan of Die Winterreise, especially sung by German Hans Hotter (bass-baritone), but it would be great to see Bajec-Lapajne in concert some day.
There’s no blood and guts in this video, consider it ‘safe for work’, and he sings a few times:
To all the unilingual English speakers who keep saying they can’t learn Dutch after years of being here, maybe you should take a page from these American kids: fake it until it sounds vaguely Dutch. Top tip: don’t be afraid of sounding or looking stupid, either. Half way through the video the guys get asked questions about the song, a bit like a Dutch exam, but with more adult content.
‘Drank & Drugs’ (‘Booze and Drugs’) by Lil Kleine & Ronnie Flex is going viral, and we’re joining in. The first guy can at least says something remotely Dutch on the beat, while the second guy can’t seem to get it right. OK, the ‘spaghetti’ bit is funny.
It’s not ‘impossible to translate’ as the link suggests, considering many words are Dutchified English words anyway, but booze, drugs and bitches (“if they are bitches,” says the first guy) is common fare, pardon the pun.
At this year’s edition of the dance festival Mysteryland in Noord-Holland in August, a volunteer-run organisation called 10,000 hours will let ‘grandfathers and grandmothers with DJ aspirations’ take a turn at the CD players, and no, not at the turntables like Parool would like us to believe.
Parool: ‘Seniors with DJ aspirations can cut loose at the turntables during Mysteryland’
Me: ‘No turntables, it’s CD players or USB sticks. No vinyl.’
Parool: ‘Maybe some of the seniors still have records at home :-)’
Seniors, if you have records at home you don’t want, get in touch with me and I’ll totally visit you.
Festival-goers have been asked to help senior citizens this July at retirement homes. DJ and ambassador of 10,000 hours Nicky Romero will go and shake non-alcoholic cocktails at a retirement home to do his part, so I say let senior citizens take a crack at putting a USB stick into a CD player in front of the kids.
Although the idea of seniors spinning dance music is amusing and maybe some of them can actually do a good job, the heat, volume and crowds don’t seem like the coolest thing to be subjecting seniors to for any reason. I do hope someone proves me wrong.
And remember, get in touch with me for those old records.
Cafe Averechts in Utrecht has been around since the 1980s and continues to flourish amidst dwindling profits in the hospitality sector. The cafe’s ‘reverse’ approach to profit-making is the key to their brand of success: it is entirely run by volunteers.
Before anyone thinks ‘why would anyone work for free’, it is important to know that all pop venues in the country rely on volunteers. If you were to remove all pop venues that make a loss in the Netherlands, not a single one would be left standing and the country would be a cultural desert. Even the Paradiso in Amsterdam is subsidised by the city and in order to enjoy a favourable tax rebate as such, patrons pay a membership fee with their tickets. That’s right, the most famous Dutch club in the world needs government money.
During the week Averechts features a small stage with music, poetry and the likes as well as vegetarian food (vegan on demand) at a low cost. It also has lots of beers and more than 20 kinds of whiskey. All profits made go straight to charities and any tips are doubled (you put in one euro, the house matches it, we imagine) to send even more money their way.
Averechts is also a great place to celebrate King’s Day if you’re in Utrecht.
This week Amsterdam’s Luna Zegers, 40, has graduated as the first ever non Spanish flamenco singer from the ESMUC conservatory in Barcelona, a top Catalonian music institution.
A few years ago Luna move to Spain, where people call her Luna instead of her real first name Lonneke, after graduating from the Conservatorium van Amsterdam as a jazz singer. At the ESMUC only one student a year is admitted, but in the year Zegers applied, the institution let two singers in, and she was one of them.
Zegers had to work hard as a Dutchwoman entering a foreign space as well as study half of her courses in Spanish and the other in Catalan. She says she found what she looking for in the expression of flamenco after losing her father, mother and sister in a very short time span. “Jazz is very polished – that started to bother me. I was looking for something rawer. Flamenco is a mix of lamentation about things like death and unbridled joy. For the level-headed Dutch this is quite an intense form of expression.”
Here’s Luna Zeger with ‘El Amor Dolido’ from the ballet ‘El Amor Brujo’ by Manuel de Falla: