News is just breaking about Notre Dame burning as I write this, my eyes wet from sorrow at the loss of such historical architectural majesty as surely as some eyes must likely be irritated there from the smoke. It seems in our polarized society we not only can’t learn the lessons of the past but now we are also losing actual history itself (the Brazilian National Museum also comes to mind). It’s such a shame. I can’t help but think of how upset Victor Hugo, who wrote famously of the cathedral in order in part to help save it from disrepair in the 19th century, would be. I think I will be seeing the spire in my dreams for the foreseeable weeks. It is just so iconic and now is part of the past, unexpectedly. My thoughts are with my friends there and all of the people of France.
On Sunday, the Dalai Lama tweeted, “Time’s always moving on; nothing can stop it. We can’t change the past, but we can still learn from it. And we can shape the future, creating a more peaceful era, by adopting a realistic approach, recognizing that the more compassionate you are, the more you’ll find inner peace.”
As we mourn for Paris in this moment, you don’t have to be religious to have compassion for the loss. Even our Dutchess County neighbors, the Church of Satan, expressed sincere sadness at the architectural beauty and such craftsmanship being destroyed.
Well, I start the column this week with a heavy heart thinking of these losses but my heart is full as I turn my thoughts towards the amazing and inclusive BSP show I saw last weekend. Ithaca-raised and Philly-based rapper Sammus wowed the crowd with her progressive and massively empowering rhymes with the mellow indie band Girl Gaze from New Paltz and the soulful and dynamic Garth also really impressing. It was one of my all-time favorite shows of the many I have witnessed in Kingston and a fantastic way to wrap up the tail end of my birthday weekend. You can count on BSP to keep bringing in top-notch talent, but keep an eye on your calendars because you never know when one of the events will blow your mind even more than you expected. Garth had me thinking I was listening to Prince and Sammus performing a song about imposter syndrome was such a powerful moment that I literally cried. Please check out these artists.
Sammus giving a speech on how cool it was as a female gamer back in the day to see that the lead character in the classic NES game Metroid was actually a girl was very inspiring and an important reminder about how a little bit of representation out there can continue to let the ripples expand outward and make other people feel included and important. Her rhymes were brilliant, slick but smart wordplay that eschewed easy tropes and instead focused on being real, vulnerability and an incredible sense of the triumph that comes from finding your own self-confidence. I was so thankful I got to witness the show and it made a deep impression on me. Much love to everyone who was there that night. What a magical Sunday.
Castle storms Kingston
Coming up on the rock ’n’ roll front, one of my very favorite modern metal bands make their much-anticipated return to Kingston. West Coast doom rockers Castle aren’t as sludgy and slow as some bands in that genre — at times they coming off more like a heavier Thin Lizzy than full-on slow Sabbath. Nonetheless the band’s certainly heavier than most classic rock-influenced fare and delivers a serious metallic punch. The last time the band hit town the show ran short due to technical difficulties, so it is really cool to see them give it the old good try and return to The Anchor for a rematch. Withkiss and Shadow Witch will see which witch will settle in the stormy castle and gaze down upon the Catskills (at least in my Dungeons & Dragons-addled imagination.) But seriously, this three band bill on Wednesday, April 24th is a no brainer and you will not be sorry if you attend. Showtime is at 9:30 and the show runs until late.
Castle are touring in support of recent album Deal Thy Fate, an excellent addition to their growing pile of vividly victorious vinyls. We are at times victims of fate but we also sometimes can carve out our own path through determination. To see how far Castle has come through constant touring and one of the biggest work ethics in modern rock is incredibly inspiring. Deal Thy Fate is the band’s first Ripple Music and the pairing is inspired. Since the release of their first album, Castle, which consists of vocalist/bassist Elizabeth Blackwell, guitarist/vocalist Mat Davis and various touring and recording drummers, have played over six hundred shows. I am certain they were all memorable because the band doesn’t have a single clunker or filler track under their leather belts.
Until next week, create your own beautiful monuments to your time. It doesn’t have to be as grandiose as a cherished Gothic cathedral. It could be something as simple as a meal with valued friends or a card for someone you love to remind them they are important to you. All that effort however goes down in history and can make the world — and our destiny — better collectively.