Interview with the Southern California band Alma Desnuda

 

Alma Desnuda is: Paul Suhr, Tony Glaser, Chris Bryden, Joe Glaser

www.almaDmusic.com
www.myspace.com/almadesnuda
www.sonicbids.com/almadesnuda

1.      What distinguishes you from other musicians…what do you feel makes your sound unique?

Tony:  

I think the biggest distinguishing factor of Alma Desnuda from other musicians is our connection to something bigger than amplified notes. Alma D is all about the music, don’t get me wrong, but it’s more than just sound. We use music to connect to what’s around us, like our friends, families, and community, as well as each other and especially this Earth. The music is our connection to that Alma, the soul; we just try to breathe into it.Our unique sound flows from our individual influences and styles into an eclectic harmony, which I think our upcoming album, Middleway, will show. It’s all Alma.

We get a lot of inspiration from the San Francisco Bay, our home, where icons of the Woodstock era, like the Grateful Dead, Simon & Garfunkel, CSNY, Santana, CCR, Sly Stone, and so many others came together and inspired generations to come.

 The parallels between then and now, with the Civil Rights Movement and Vietnam, and now our own deterioration of community, consciousness, and the increase of unjust war, creates a fire in our beings that finds an outlet through the connection of music. In that context, I think you could say we’re continuing that conscious revolutionary spirit in a fresh San Francisco sound.
 

 

2.      Where do you get your song ideas? Share more about your process in composing. Music or lyrics or concept first? (As a writer I tend to start with a concept first.) 

(Chris) Song ideas strike anywhere and anytime. I let them emerge at their own pace. Sometimes it’s a lyric that comes, sometimes a melody, sometimes a riff. Each song is it’s own creation. My only job is to stay open and listen. Topically, I am drawn to write songs that weave the personal and universal together and that challenge the listener to wake up and see our lives through a larger perspective. Mothers are scolding children all over the world, people are falling in love every day, someone finds their life looking up while another loses a job.

Everything is in constant flux but operating under universal themes. The more I dive into my own experience and pay attention to others’ lives, the more I see that we are all working  with the same experiences and emotions. Writing about those experiences through a personal lens brings relevance to the songs and allows people to connect with universal existential issues through Alma Desnuda’s particular frame of reference.   

3.      Did/do you have a mentor with whom you worked to develop your music?

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Fantasy dream painting, “Nesting”

 

Nesting - graphic produced in 2007

Nesting - graphic produced in 2007

This graphic design piece, produced by an artist native to California’s
San Francisco Bay Area, represents a fantasy dream where the author explores and examines the subconscious, both in and under water, finding a strong desire to nest (the egg) and ultimately create new life.
You may contact her at lovinguiseasy@comcast.net – she would love to hear from other artists and her work is available for purchase.

Review – the Claire Burch film Yume: Elegy for a Street Survivor

 

The late protagonist of Claire Burch’s film Yume: Elegy for a Street Survivor’s chosen name comes from the Japanese word for ‘dream.’ In the same spirit, the entire piece conjures a dreamlike, imaginative feeling, more reminiscent of a coffeehouse open mic on a summer day than a traditional funeral service.

Starting with the atmospheric opening sequence, the movie shows us Yume’s life and times in Berkeley through the effects he has had on people young and old. Viewers learn of Yume through a series of actions and images narrated by background music. His friends burn a dollar bill, illustrating his gentle detachment from the material world, and pass around his last pack of cigarettes. At other times the music disappears and we watch officials and others interview those who knew the elderly Yume, who passed away in a hospital from respiratory distress.

Through filmmaking techniques such as tilting the camera for unusually angled shots, zooming in on small groups of people, and using offscreen voices to represent those outside of Yume’s normal social circle, the piece conveys a sense of how it can feel to live as part of a subculture. These people have their own chosen friends, family, and home, into which people from other walks of life (coroners, reporters, doctors, etc)  drift periodically for different reasons and who may or may not understand the lives and values of the city’s ‘street survivors.’

 

There is no one ‘narrator’ – groups of people tell the story piece by piece, laughing and thinking as they remember incidents from the life of this educated ‘Buddhist hippie’ who created art while sparing the lives of insects in his path. And it is this laughter and the diversity of personalities represented which prevents this piece from becoming melodramatic. The documentary is nostalgic and poignant, but finds space to celebrate life while acknowledging the loss of the protagonist and so remains a watchable human story rather than a polemic.  

This film came across with a spirit of gentleness and true tolerance – encouraging respect for the dignity of other living beings without being preachy. At a length of 45 minutes and expressed through normal language, Claire Burch’s Yume: Elegy for a Street Survivor is highly accessible, fun to watch, and recommended for all audiences.

 

Claire Burch’s website: http://www.claireburch.com/artmedia/about.html

Further film and contact information:

Elegy for a Street Survivor (Yume)

Color / sound / 45 minutes / ISBN 0-916147-82-7

This piece follows the strange memorial that takes place after Yume, a
homeless man who had been a “Buddhist hippie” dies of respiratory
distress. His friends gather to perform odd rituals such as passing out
his last pack of cigarettes, burning money in his honor, etc. As their
feelings and tributes are expressed, the little knot of street people
begins to take on the aspects of a Felliniesque procession. A
fascinating addition to annals of contemporary sociology as well as an
absorbing tale.

Davis Bike Church (free bike repairs/free lessons in bike repairs) is still functional and seeks help this Sunday the 19th to move into its new downtown location!

 

Repost – passing on the word from one of my personal favorite organizations from back up in Davis, the Bike Church. If you’re in town, come on out and support ecological sustainability, community building, and good times! The Bike Church is a group of volunteers who help people fix their bikes, or teach them how to fix bicycles if they are interested…and Davis, California is known for protecting our environment by having a culture which encourages people to ride bicycles for short trips around town rather than driving cars (it’s difficult to park many places there, so bikes are practical.)

Subject: Please Help Us Move Downtown THIS SUNDAY AFTERNOON!!!!!!!!

The Bike Church is making its next big leap, to a new location, new nonprofit status, and a new name, and we need your help!!! 

Come celebrate our NEW SHOP at 4TH and L STREET!

* help us move this sunday from 12-4pm,
* visit our new location in the coming weeks,
* make a donation to help us pay rent for our first year,
* volunteer with us and learning how to teach bicycle repair,
* tell your friends to come by!

If you’re able, come help us the day after picnic day from 12-4pm to move our tools from the Sustainable Research Area to 4TH and L.

Our new shop is now called Bike Forth!, and we are now known as The Davis Bike Collective, and you are now IN THE KNOW…

Bless up, Get Down, and Bike Around,
Congle-Roshi

P.S.  Our grand reopening will be NEXT SATURDAY, the 25th of April

A few announcements, for friends and colleagues and international artists and their fans ;)

 

First of all, I attended one of the local Earth Day work-party events, the marsh grass watering and weeding in Union City/Hayward, CA at Eden Landing – today, April 18th from nine to noon. Found out our area is home to the endangered clapper rail/tiny salt marsh mouse and all about how the wetlands have shrunk over time and how they filter pollution and heavy metal residue out of the environment. Encourage as many of the Synchronized Chaos family as possible to Google/GoodSearch Earth Day events in your local community.

Also – shout-out to Oakland’s Montclair Neighborhood’s El Agavero – wonderful place that is about to host a Cinco de Mayo event Tuesday, May 5th with local mariachi bands. Beautiful restaurant, not too expensive, with authentic Frida Kahlo tequila produced in honor of the binational artist who ‘painted her own reality.’ The Lincart Gallery on Market Street (near Civic Center Bart) in San Francisco is also featuring photography of places/people related to Frida Kahlo and the enigmatic artist Man Ray.

Another announcement – passing on a letter from Fran Varian, social justice-oriented performance artist suffering from late-stage Lyme disease and part of the Synchronized Chaos family (if you have recurring flu-like symptoms, please ask for a Lyme test as this condition can be cheaply, quickly treated if found right away but can be deadly and unaffordable to treat if found late, as happened for Fran.) The letter concerns how to help her and others, and encourages people to make the most of whatever life is left to them:

Editor’s note, for those able and interested in helping Fran out, or reposting this message (and the letter is worth reading as the girl can write, even if you can’t spare cash at the moment!)

*She can receive donations online at: www.helphealfran.org

Or:

Fran Varian
503 Carlton Ave.
Durham, NC 27701

My Very Dear (and Hella Pretty) Lyme Fighting Army:

Unbelievably, this thank you letter is close to five months in the making. I’d like to say that time moves quickly when you have Lyme Disease, but it doesn‘t. Time rolls together when you are chronically ill, long stretches of it with little to delineate a day in January from a day in late March, except for a bit more sun.

I had set out all of those months ago to thank you. I thank you multiple times each day but I wanted to offer a thank you that you could see, a proper thank you that you could hold onto and come back to; even point the misanthropes in your life toward as evidence that there is good in the world, and that it originates in you.

Recently a 27 year-old man in Maryville, Illinois walked into a Baptist Church and shot its Pastor to death. The man, Terry J. Sedlacek, has a very severe case of late stage, neurological, Lyme Disease. He did not start out a shoot ‘em up kind of guy, but once those bacteria screw themselves into your brain and get the opportunity to hang out for a while everything about you changes.

It is well documented that he did not receive the care he needed. Very few of us are actually receiving all of the care we need. But in the absence of an adequate or sympathetic health care system the support and belief of one’s community makes an entire world of difference.

I wish you could see yourselves from here. You are many beautiful colors, all sizes, most socio-economic groups, many different genders, and many different sexualities. You run the gamut from the healthiest to the strongest crips and survivors I’ll ever lay my grateful eyes upon. You live all over the country, and in Canada and in Europe. You have various, and sometimes opposing beliefs. Some of you are religious personnel and some of you are not so holy. I’ve known you for most of my life and there are those among you I’ve never met – and still you are my family. You are smart and funny and kind and compassionate and you hold me up – you have held me up for over a year now. On my very worst days when I am certain I absolutely can not endure another minute of this I imagine your faces, and I hold on.
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Spotlighting a fun way to get involved with a worthy environmental group, Save the Bay

Save the Bay – Earth Day Restoration Projects

Throughout the Bay Area

Save the Bay offers a chance to get involved by way of habitat restoration projects around the Bay Area. Check the Save the Bay website for additional details — and to learn more about the great work Save the Bay engages in everyday on behalf of our Bay Area habitat and resources.

http://www.savesfbay.org/site/pp.asp?c=dgKLLSOwEnH&b=490289

These are small projects where people help plant native plants, clean up a beach, take a nature hike and learn about the wilderness while clearing trails, etc for just a few morning hours. Designed to bring people together while benefiting the environment all over the San Francisco Bay Area…there are projects all over in various SF Bay counties on various days.

I’m thinking of attending a few this late spring/early summer, if other Synchronized Chaos folks would like to join for a meetup and have coffee or lunch afterwards please comment and let me know!