You are cordially invited to an in-store performance by the Lux String Quartet here at Hymie’s Records this Sunday evening at 6pm!

Readers of this blog and visitors to the record shop will quickly recognize how much we enjoy classical music, and it is something we have always wished were more accessible to listeners. Here in the Twin Cities we are blessed with two world-class organizations, but unfortunately tickets to their performances can be prohibitively expensive (we ourselves only have tickets for one evening this season). It also seems like classical music is isolated from other genres, so that we don’t think of it as something one can casually enjoy anymore. Heck, it it used over on the Lake Street train station to deter loitering!

We’re excited to welcome the Lux String Quartet to the shop after seeing a performance at St. Paul’s Underground Music Cafe. They are a very talented group with a wide repertoire, and we are absolutely thrilled when they were amenable to the idea of performing in a new setting.


For Sunday’s performance they’ve chosen a program which will include works by Dmitri Shostakovich, Antonin Dvorak, Beethoven and contemporary Chinese composer Tan Dun. They explained that they are “trying to mix up classical standards with [modern] things.”

shostakovich quartetsShostakovich is certainly somewhere in between the world of classical standards and modern things. His last two string quartets were debuted in the 1970s. His Quartet no 14 in F sharp Major was the last of his “quartet of quartets,” each of which had been dedicated to a member of the Beethoven Quartet, a prominent Russian group who had debuted nearly all of Shostakovich’s works for the form. This one is dedicated to cellist Sergei Shirinsky. It is, therefore, led by the cello, and is (perhaps in deference to Shirinsky, a friend of the composer for nearly fifty years) the lightest and most welcoming of Shostakovich’s late quartets.

Here is Shostakovich’s String Quartet no 14 in F-sharp Major, performed by the Taneyev Quartet. This is a 1974 Melodiya recording reissued in the United States by Columbia Records. Melodiya was the state-owned record label in the Soviet Union, which dominated the market there until the Perestroika era (the label has been privately operated since 1989). They have an enormous catalog which includes all varietys of music, but is especially notable for its classical recordings. Fans of Russian records may recall we had a large collection of Melodiya albums in last winter, many of which we would have been unable to identify if it were not for the help of our friend Johnny, from the awesome power pop trio Mystery Date, who kindly translated the titles for us. In that collection were several of Shostakovich’s quartets. Too bad we did not make a recording of one of those while they were here!

We have invited the Lux String Quartet to chose their own program for Sunday evening, so we can’t say if this is the work by Shostakovich they have chosen. It’s just a favorite of ours. We are very excited to hear what they will chose to perform by the other composers, and should mention they added, “There may be some Mendelssohn in there, too.” MPR’s classical station recently posted this recording of violist Benjamin Davis talking about the group’s goals, and a great recording of them performing the first movement of Mendelssohn’s Quartet no 2.

The Lux String Quartet will perform works by Shostakovich, Dvorak, Beethoven and Tan Dun here at Hymie’s Records on Sunday, October 11th at 6pm.

An unexpected benefit of running a business is that you’ll never be bored again. You won’t while away an afternoon watching the clock because there will always be something to do.

In just a couple days on jury duty (not selected yet!) I’ve been given a reminder of my pre-Hymie’s professional career. Lord, I was bored! At least during the years I was a dishwasher there was work to do.

A friend and former Hymie’s employee had an early band called the Waiting Place, which borrowed its name from one of our kids’ favorite Dr. Seuss books, Oh, the Places You’ll Go. I looked for it this morning but I couldn’t find the myspace page again (you can’t blame artists for packing away early works like that if it’s their choice). Either way, it was a great choice for a name.



by Dr. Seuss (from Oh, the Places You’ll Go)

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come,
or a plane to go or the mail to come,
or the rain to go or the phone to ring,
or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No
or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

Dave’s captivity continues for a second day. Fortunately, he’s found a theme song. Laura and Irene would love a visit from you in the record shop today. It so happens we’re putting out this morning a couple boxes of great jazz LPs.

Jury duty

alimonyDave has jury duty this week, and they’re unlikely to excuse him because he needs more time to find and record goofy records for the Hymie’s blog. Since he doesn’t watch much TV, and the only movies he enjoys take place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” he has no idea what to expect from the experience of performing his civic duty. Anything he knows about being inside a courtroom comes from records.

Maybe he’ll be assigned to this case. It seems like a lot of fun.

When I run in the morning I usually go from our neighborhood over to the Mississippi River and then, if my knees are cooperating, along it for a while. This morning I could hear the crowds gathering and the inspirational music — the Twin Cities Marathon runners will pass up the far side of the river (which is a beautiful stretch of trail for a run), coming their closest to our neighborhood between miles 17 and 18.

I don’t really like wearing headphones, but sometimes I do carry an Ipod when I run. My playlist for these mornings is mostly old punk rock records: Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Flipper, and so forth. Probably not what most people would call inspirational. It’s certainly not “Eye of the Tiger.”

red medicineWe’re pretty happy to hear the City of St. Paul has negotiated with the planned protest to protect the runners. We know that folks are not allowed to question the appropriateness of these protests anymore, but the issues raised seem to have very little to do with the marathon. And while the shoes are shockingly expensive, we really can’t think of an activity more inspiring and inclusive than long distance running. I for one am truly impressed by every single one of today’s runners.

“Long Distance Runner” by Fugazi

This song probably wouldn’t make the cut for the running playlist on my Ipod (it’s too slow) but it does close out one of my favorite albums. Red Medicine is the record where Fugazi shifted towards a more experimental formula which, sadly, came to an end when the band decided to “take a hiatus” which has now lasted thirteen years.

Country music is pretty popular here at Hymie’s, but our first choice is rarely Johnny Cash. Our opinion really took a turn after reading his autobiography, in which we felt the country music legend came off as a boorish, self-serving boob. We’d say its all about the California condors, but if anyone here were judged on a single incident of stupidity we’d all be in real trouble.

And, as with so much other music, we’ve found approaching his albums from a new angle has improved our impression. It’s always interesting to re-visit records you didn’t enjoy in the past — your new reaction may surprise you.

More and more we’ve come to enjoy Johnny Cash’s records not for their rebellious themes, but for his consistently clever and dark sense of humor.  “A Backstage Pass,” from his forgotten run at Mercury Records, is a great example. And of course, many of his early hits offer a humorous approach to hard luck through storytelling.

Recently, a friend loaned us copies of several of his 90s American Recordings albums, which we have enjoyed. At the time we’d thought the label’s model was gimmicky — taking a star whose career had long been floundering and having them cover pop songs still strikes us as tawdry — but the records undeniably resonated with a large audience. Too bad the same didn’t happen for Neil Diamond’s 12 Songs, which is a great album, too.

One can see how they re-framed Cash, (who was hardly a genuine outlaw in the sense that, say, Merle Haggard was) for generation X. And for whatever reason, we weren’t as tired of hearing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” as our parents were. Fortunately, the sextenarian’s songwriting acumen was still sharp, and the original songs from his American Recordings run are ripe with his delightfully dark sense of humor.

dead man walkingOur favorite song from the period was not one of the Rick Rubin productions, but a song from the Dead Man Walking soundtrack (a favorite disc which we have recently posted here). With its humorous approach to metaphysics, “In Your Mind” presages Cash’s appearance on The Simpsons as a coyote who serves as Homer’s spirit guide during a peyote trip. Ry Cooder produced the song, lending it his own irreverent approach.

When we found “In Your Mind” to post it this morning, we realized it recalled an older tune that’s likely far less known but a favorite of ours. “Let It Ride” is a single by country music songwriter Dick Feller from 1975. Feller had written a hit for Johnny Cash which made country music’s top ten three years earlier (“Any Old Wind that Blows”) and also a #1 hit for Jerry Reed (“Lord Mr. Ford”). His songs have a similar sense of humor, and his success led to his debut as a singer shortly after the release of “Lord Mr. Ford.” His first album, like those of many Nashville songwriters, played off his previous role and had him covering the tunes he’d written for others.

Never as famous as other country storytellers like Cash and poor, unlucky Tom T. Hall, Feller wrote some of the funniest songs of the seventies. Our favorite is “Uncle Hiram and the Homemade Beer.” Like Roger Miller, he lamented that nobody took him seriously when he wrote serious songs, such as “Some Days Are Diamonds,” which was a gigantic success for John Denver in 1981. If you ever come across a Dick Feller record give it a listen — you’ll probably laugh and maybe feel a little misty, too.

dick feller let it ride“Let It Ride” is a great gamblers’ tune, which captures the misplaced hopes of placing another bet. And “In Your Mind” sounds a lot like it. We’re not suggesting Cash and Cooder stole anything from Feller, just that they’re similar approaches to the mysteries of the unknown.

Our friend Ben Weaver has just returned from a bicycle trip around the largest freshwater lake in the world. He’s got a show at the Cedar Cultural Center tomorrow to celebrate the trip, and perform songs along with his opening act, Twin.

Ben’s last album was, of course, the first release on our li’l record label here at Hymie’s. We have several releases in the works right now, including the debut album by Whiskey Jeff and the Beer Back Band which we featured on Monday. We are also putting the final touches on a Live at Hymie’s compilation which will include a DVD of videos shot here in the shop and co-produced by our friends from Pabst Twin Cities.

Here is Ben Weaver performing “Ramblin’ Bones” from I Would Rather Be a Buffalo here at Hymie’s last winter. You can find more details about his show at the Cedar tomorrow night from the link above, and from his official website here.

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