Moe.’s Al Schnier Talks Holiday Concert, New Material, And Writing Music For The Puppy Bowl

first_imgThis weekend, moe. will hit the Capitol Theatre and Garcia’s for their first ever “ Holiday Concert” series. The band will play The Cap on Saturday night and will move to Garcia’s on Sunday for a special acoustic brunch set. You can find all of the details here.In anticipation of this holiday run, we sat down with moe.’s guitarist and songwriter extraordinaire, Al Schnier. Al’s holiday spirit was in full effect, and he discussed a wide range of topics, covering the upcoming holiday shows, his work on moe.’s new album and their forthcoming live record, how he got involved writing music for films, and a great story about his musical collaboration with Keyboard Cat at The Puppy Bowl. See below for a full transcript of this interview, and get excited for this weekend’s double header at The Cap!Live For Live Music: This weekend, moe. is putting on a special holiday show at The Capitol Theatre called “A Holiday Concert.” What was the inspiration behind putting that show together?Al Schnier: We’ve sort of dabbled in doing a holiday show in the past, but we’ve never really done a proper holiday show. It’s something we’ve talked about for a while, and the timing was right, it’s just something we wanted to do. Last year we did a run around this time of year in San Francisco, and we just got to bust out a couple of our holiday songs from our Seasons Greetings record, but that was about the extent of it. Vinnie [Amico] and I had done a bunch of holiday shows with Floodwood, our Bluegrass group, it became a cool tradition that we were doing, so it’s nice to put together a show this time of year, so we thought we’d give it a shot with moe. It’s been about a year since we played the Capitol Theatre, so all the stars aligned, it was perfect.L4LM: I know that everyone here in New York is really excited for the shows. Usually, when moe. plays this kind of special shows, be it a Thanksgiving run, a New Years run, a Halloween run, the band has a few tricks up their sleeve. What can we expect from moe. at these special holiday concerts this weekend?AS: That remains to be seen! I can tell you this much, we are together right now working on new material. We haven’t gotten to the holiday portion at all yet, although that’s our intention. We’re playing Saturday night at the Capitol Theatre, and Sunday we’re doing something a little bit different, we’re doing a brunch show, an acoustic brunch in Garcia’s, which is sort of like the Sunday brunch shows we used to do at our snoe.down event. Those are always so much fun, and we wanted to do something similar to that. I think what we’ll do is spread out the holiday music over both events. But, right now we’re just focused on working on new songs, and I have no idea what we’re going to play this weekend.L4LM: That’s great that you guys are working on new songs. Is there a new moe. album in the works?AS: I guess that’s always the case. There’s always a new album in the works. Right now, my head is just kind of spinning because I’ve been working overtime trying to get our Fillmore record finished. When we were out in San Francisco in the Spring we recorded a show at the Fillmore, and we’re going to be releasing that on Record Store Day, we have a really great double album that will be coming out on vinyl. So, we’re just finishing that up now. It’s a pretty involved process to go through that whole thing and get it ready to be released on vinyl, and trying to do that, at the same time we’re on tour prepping the two-night Halloween show and prepping the Holiday show and working on new material, there’s just been a lot on our plate right now. But, it’s all been good.L4LM: With 2016 coming to a close, I was wondering what were some of the best shows that you’ve seen, or that you’ve been a part of, in 2016.AS: Wow. OK, so, right away a standout show is Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Philly at the Citizen’s Bank Park. I went to the first night of those shows, and it was just amazing. I mean he played for over four hours, it was one set over four hours, and the first two hours of it were songs from his first two records and unreleased material, it was just phenomenal. Another standout show from this year, or a pair of shows actually, was Pearl Jam at Fenway Park, I get chills just thinking about it, those shows were amazing.Our Halloween show, again, I love the Fillmore in Philadelphia. Doing the Quentin Tarantino Halloween show was so much fun, we put in a lot of work and it was so much fun to do. I really have to tip my hat to our crew for doing such a great job on those shows. For some reason, another thing that stands out was when we went out to play Red Rocks this past summer. While the Red Rocks show was fantastic, we played with Gov’t Mule and Blackberry Smoke, but our show at the Boulder Theater was really, really good. There was something about that night was really special, it was just one of those things where there was something really special about it. I don’t know if it was because we were jetlagged, or exhausted, or just having all of our fans there, but it was one of those really good nights.L4LM: Speaking of Tarantino, I know that you recently released a track that you wrote for Django Unchained, I was wondering how you got involved with that and if you’ve written any other music for use in film or TV?AS: moe. had been working with a publishing company, and that was the intent. They were supposed to be bringing those opportunities to us so we could do stuff like that. That was about the closest I had ever gotten to doing anything like that. We would get these e-mails from time to time from our person there, saying “hey, this is a unique opportunity, do you think you’d have anything that could work for something like this?” I happened to have this piece that I was working on that would sort of fit with the Tarantino project, and they actually liked it. They said “Hey, this kind of works, but could you tweak it a little bit, make it sound like this, or that” and I said “sure, yes, anything for you!” I did, and I re-submitted it, and then I was just waiting and waiting. And then I started thinking, “well, if this works, then maybe I’ll fly out to LA, and maybe I’ll do the music for the Guy Ritchie movie, and then I can work with Wes Anderson, maybe the Cohen Brothers will call!” But yeah, it never happened. And, of course, the song they ended up using for the theme song was entirely different from the one that I had submitted. But, it’s cool, I was just excited to be a part of it.There were a few other things too. There was some weird Ryan Seacrest show at one point that I had submitted some music for. There’re a few things that I’ve actually written music for but, again, they’ve never gotten used. So I have all these weird theme songs that I’ve written music for they’ve just never gotten used.Listen to Al Schnier’s song “Django Unchained” below.L4LM: Sounds like you have some good content for a future moe. bonus record.AS: Oh yeah, it’s really strange. One of the things that I actually did get to do that is still one of the funniest things was for the Puppy Bowl. This was two or three years ago, I did a bunch of the music for Puppy Bowl. I had to make up a bunch of the fight songs for Puppy Bowl, and I did the music for the halftime show. Their halftime show “guest superstar” was YouTube sensation, Keyboard Cat. Keyboard Cat was gonna be out there, and I had to re-create a Bruno Mars song as if Keyboard Cat had created it. So basically the Keyboard Cat version of the Bruno Mars song, as if the Cat was being backed up by a ripping band of puppies. So I had to go and reproduce the Bruno Mars song as if Keyboard Cat was playing the melody. And they were like “So this is good, but can you make it sound…worse? somehow? Have you seen the Keyboard Cat before? Make it sound more like he’s just hitting the keyboard with his paws” and I was like “OK!”. So I had to go back and make it sound like the keyboard was being played with fake paws, and they ended up using it in the halftime show. It was one of the most surreal things.L4LM: I don’t know if any story can top writing music for Keyboard Cat and being asked to make it worse. Wow. Well, I have one more question for you, I know you mentioned that moe. is working on new music, and I know you are making your return to Jam Cruise this year, and I’m sure you have a lot of plans that are lining up, so I’m wondering what you’re most looking forward to in 2017?AS: Ya know, I guess, there’s still so much work that we have to do. I feel like, it’s funny because we’ve been doing this for 26 years now, and I feel like we’ve been afforded the opportunity to do that work, and I’m actually really looking forward to, sort of, rolling up our sleeves and doing some of that work. 2017 is probably going to be a busy year for us, we’ve got a lot on deck. There’s a lot of stuff that we’re going to be announcing, and I can’t say anything about any of it now, but I’m really looking forward to 2017.We’ve already made a lot of positive changes within our organization, and everybody in the band has just been really focused on our work. It’s been great the last couple of months. We’ve been getting a lot of good work done, and 2017 is only going to be better. We’ve already got a lot of good shows on deck, and we’re about to roll out some more tour dates, and we have some more big announcements coming, and 2017 is just going to be a great year for moe.last_img read more

Clues to cholera resistance

first_imgResearchers have long understood that genetics can play a role in susceptibility to cholera, but a team of Harvard scientists is now uncovering evidence of genetic changes that might also help protect some people from contracting the deadly disease.Based on genetic data gathered from hundreds of people in Bangladesh, a research team made up of Harvard faculty and scientists from the Broad Institute and the Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) was able to identify a number of areas in the genome — some are responsible for certain immune system functions, others are connected to fluid loss — that appear to be related to cholera resistance. Later tests showed genetic differences between people who had contracted the disease and those who had been exposed, but never became ill. The results are described in a paper published this month in Science Translational Medicine.“This study is exceptionally exciting for us because it shows the power of this approach,” said Pardis Sabeti, an associate professor of organismic and evolutionary biology and one of two senior co-authors of the paper. “This is the first time we’ve taken a genomic-wide approach to understanding cholera resistance. But it’s a first step, and there is a lot of exploration to go from here. For a disease that’s so ancient and widespread there’s very little that’s known about host immunity.”The hope, Sabeti added, is that improved understanding of why some people appear to be immune will help efforts to develop vaccines and therapies, so that outbreaks like those of recent years in Haiti and Africa might someday be avoided.“It is a very scary disease,” she said. “We now have treatments with oral rehydration therapy, but it is still devastating, and in extreme cases, cholera can kill in hours.”“We also haven’t been able to develop a particularly effective vaccine,” added Elinor Karlsson, a post-doctoral fellow in organismic and evolutionary biology and the first author of the paper. “The vaccine that’s available wears off after a few years, whereas people who are exposed to the disease develop a long-lasting immunity… and nobody is quite sure why that is. This research is another way of tackling that problem, and it’s a way no one has come at it before.”To understand the genetic differences between those with and without resistance, researchers first gathered genetic data on 42 family groups — called “trios” — that included a mother, father, and child. Using that data, researchers identified more than 300 areas of the genome that seemed to be under pressure due to natural selection, suggesting that genes in those regions might be adapting to deal with the threat of cholera.“We found 305 areas — or about 2 percent of the genome — that appeared to be under selection,” Karlsson said. “That’s great, but unfortunately, all our tests can tell us is that a region is under selection, it doesn’t tell us why.”Karlsson turned to a testing process called “gene set enrichment” to determine whether any particular groups of genes showed up in those regions more often than others.“We found two strong patterns,” she said. “We found a whole set of genes that are related to a gene called IKBKG, which plays a key role in immunity. But what we found was not the gene itself, but a whole group of genes that regulate IKBKG. We also found a whole set of genes for potassium channels, which are the channels in the walls of our cells that regulate fluid loss.“What’s interesting is that it shows what a huge pressure cholera has been on this population,” she added. “You could be selecting for anything in there — skin color, hair color, or even other diseases — but because cholera was a big enough force, we could pick it out just by doing this kind of testing.”Armed with that data, researchers then performed a comparative study — examining the specific genetic regions in more than 100 patients who were sick with cholera and others who had been exposed to the disease, but had not become ill. The results, Karlsson said, showed differences between the two groups.“The region that had the biggest signal that suggested the region was under pressure from natural selection also had the biggest difference between people who were sick and who were not sick today,” she said.Going forward, researchers hope to conduct wider studies of the genetic differences between people who are susceptible and those who appear to be immune in the hope of identifying precisely which genes are involved, and the pathways involved in resistance.“We have narrowed it down to a few genes, but the problem is that these are genes that people have not paid a great deal of attention to before,” Karlsson said. “There’s not a whole lot of description out there about them, so it’s hard to know which one might be the best candidate for study.”In addition to potentially revealing a new pathway to understanding cholera resistance, the research highlights the potential power of using genetic data to study history.Today, Sabeti said, between 5 and 10 percent of the Bangladeshi population is East Asian. While analyzing data for the paper, Karlsson was able to precisely pinpoint when the two populations first began to intermingle — in about A.D. 500.“It’s a very interesting aspect of this work,” Karlsson said. “We’re genetics and genomics people, but if we can very precisely date these types of events — it would be invaluable to the work of historians and other disciplines.”last_img read more

Menino remembered

first_img Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino met with Harvard President Drew Faust at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in 2010 to unveil a new Cisco technology that allowed students and teachers to video conference with individuals around the world. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer “The consummate mayor of the people, for the people,” Harvard President Drew Faust intoned on a sunny Commencement Day in May 2013, “an urban mechanic turned urban legend, whose love of his city and passion for its betterment have made and kept Boston strong: Thomas M. Menino.”Those words, delivered just six weeks after the Boston Marathon bombings gave the phrase “Boston Strong” lasting heft, were part of Faust and Harvard’s poetic ritual conferring an honorary doctor of laws degree on Menino. More than a year later, the words also reflected reactions across the Harvard community to the news that Boston’s longest-serving mayor — who left office in January after 20 years at the city’s helm — had died of cancer at age 71.Those recalling Menino talked today about his passion for Boston and its institutions — including its universities and teaching hospitals — his tireless work on their behalf, and his attention to the city’s people, whether in positions of authority or students taking the first steps on career paths, some of which led to Menino’s office.“No one I’ve known has personified Boston’s heart and soul, its drive and its resilience, more than Tom Menino,” Faust said. “I have been privileged to call him a mentor and a friend. He lived a life full of purpose, always guided by a devotion to improving the lives of the people he served. He was a strong and true friend of education, and he knew how much the pursuit of education and research means not only to Boston, but to the larger world. All of us can learn from his powerful and humane example, and his countless friends and admirers across Harvard will greatly miss and long remember him.”Meredith Weenick came to Harvard earlier this year as vice president for campus services after 12 years as Menino’s chief financial officer. She said he had been her boss, friend, and mentor, and called him a man who, though he could be tough on policy issues, in his personal dealings was strikingly kind.“Obviously, I’m very saddened by his death. He was a terrific leader for the city of Boston and exciting to work for,” Weenick said. “He cared deeply about people. It was how he governed and how he lived his life.” During Morning Exercises, honorands Oprah Winfrey and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino shared a moment. File photo by Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer Mayor Thomas M. Menino received an honorary degree at Harvard University’s 2013 Commencement.Faust was introduced to Menino by O’Donnell after she was named Harvard’s president, and she recalled having occasional breakfasts and thoughtful conversations with the mayor. She also recalled his inspiring leadership after the Marathon bombings, when he stood and spoke despite a broken leg, in an example of his selfless dedication to the people he served.“If we could have that model of leadership and service spread more broadly,” Faust said in an interview with The Harvard Crimson, “we would be a far better world.”“Tom Menino was the ultimate American mayor. He cared so much for every neighborhood , every institution, and every citizen of his city. Boston is a much different and much better place for his service,” said Lawrence H. Summers, president emeritus of Harvard and the Charles W. Eliot Professor of Harvard University. He added that Menino “was a great friend to Harvard and to me. In his own unique way, he saw how by working together a great university and a great city could be greater still.”Christine Heenan, Harvard’s vice president for public affairs and communications, worked with Menino on Harvard initiatives involving the city. She said he had a deep appreciation that Boston’s colleges, universities, and teaching hospitals all contribute to making Boston the strong center of technology, science, and creativity it is. But that didn’t mean he went easy on them.Instead, Menino held them — including Harvard — accountable to their host city. Heenan said he wasn’t afraid to let them know if he thought they fell short, as he sometimes did when he thought that the University’s and the city’s priorities didn’t align.“He held Harvard to a very high standard and had a relentlessness in enforcing that standard,” she said. “It was always because he wanted Harvard to do the right thing.”Heenan, who was Menino’s host during the 2013 honorary degree ceremony, said that moment meant a lot to him, and he wanted to make the most of it.While Menino would interact on equal footing with people from all walks of life, Heenan said he wasn’t shy about using the power of his office to get what he thought was important, and the people in Boston’s neighborhoods were the beneficiaries.Among those people have been some who came to Harvard. Isaac Buck, a junior history concentrator from Adams House, grew up in Roslindale, in the district that Menino represented during his time on the City Council before becoming mayor. Buck, who attended public schools and Boston Latin School, said that, like most city residents, he’d had several encounters with Menino over the years, including at youth soccer cookouts, his Little League parade, church events, and concerts at Adams Park.“One of my favorite interactions with him was when I was in first grade, and it was the ribbon-cutting for the new playground at the Charles Sumner School in Roslindale. My mom was a teacher at the Sumner, and so I went up to the mayor, told him that my mom works for him, and asked if he knew her. He smiled, assured me that he did know her, and shook my hand,” Buck said.“When I heard that he was stopping his cancer treatment, I assumed that he would have a few months left. So my first reaction upon hearing that he’d passed was shock. Until Marty Walsh was elected last year, Mayor Menino was the only mayor that I’d known. He was omnipresent in my growing up in Boston, and he was the type of household name that you assume will never go away,” Buck added.“The country knew him as a leader on gun control, a supporter of LGBTQ rights, and the face of the city after the Marathon bombing last year. He certainly was all of those things, but he was also the mayor who read to my mom’s class and who put a grocery store in every neighborhood. He loved this city, and this city loved him.”Mayor Thomas Menino: Leadership of Boston’s Public Health Mayor Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino received an honorary doctor of laws degree at Harvard University’s 362nd Commencement, held on May 30, 2013. File photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer Mayor Thomas M. Menino spoke at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2013 as a part of the Decision-Making: Voices from the Field series about his work on nutrition, affordable housing, ethnic health disparity, and substance abuse. Former Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino shared a friendly embrace in 2003 at the grand opening of graduate housing at One Western Avenue. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer Mayor Thomas M. Menino and President Drew Faust awarded $100,000 in grants on June 26, 2009, to six local nonprofit organizations. File photo by Justin Ide At the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Linda Bilmes, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, and Edward Glaeser, the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, both got to know Menino better by watching him interact with their students.Glaeser, who is also director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, sends summer interns to Boston each year, while Bilmes’ students have interacted with local leaders, including Menino, as part of a class she teaches that involves students in helping develop solutions for real-world challenges faced by local government.“Every time those students came in and did a project, they became important people to him,” Bilmes said of Menino. “I absolutely loved him, loved watching him function. He had a singular style, his own way of connecting with people, completely without pomp. It’s a huge loss.”Menino, known as “the urban mechanic” for his roll-up-the-sleeves style of governing and his effectiveness in executing that approach, leaves a legacy that reaches far beyond Massachusetts’ borders, Glaeser said.“He was very much a mayor’s mayor. He’s a mayor who is widely seen as being an exemplar of excellent urban leadership,” Glaeser said. “He managed to combine — in a way that I think few other leaders managed — managerial competence and openness for things that are almost technocratic, but he always pulled it off with a profoundly human face.”Harvard Corporation member Joseph O’Donnell, a longtime Boston businessman, and HKS Dean David Ellwood praised Menino’s honesty, his ability to reach ordinary city residents, and his leadership during a time of monumental change.“It is with profound sadness that we received the news today about Mayor Menino,” Ellwood said. “Tom Menino was a committed, thoughtful, and forward-looking leader who guided this city and the region during an incredible period of change and growth. He was a powerful force who used his great skills and passion for the public good. He was an inspiration to the citizens of Boston as well as to the entire Harvard Kennedy School community, and he will be dearly missed.”“When I think of Tom — everybody seems to have known him — something like 70 percent of the people in Boston had met him personally,” O’Donnell said. “He was honest; he was authentic. Twenty years in office, no scandal, no nothing. What you saw is what you got with that guy. Boston came a long way under his tutelage, and I don’t think that would have happened if he were a typical politician.” Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino joined Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria (center) and Ratan Tata for the announcement of a $50 million gift to fund Tata Hall, a new facility to support the Business School’s HBS Executive Education Program. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer <a href=”” rel=”nofollow” target=”_blank”> <img src=”” alt=”0″ title=”How To Choose The Correct Channel Type For Your Video Content ” /> </a> Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Harvard President Drew Faust posed with shovels at the groundbreaking for Barry’s Corner Residential and Retail Commons. File photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer Remembering Mayor Thomas M. Menino During Harvard’s 362nd Commencement Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino signed a guestbook in Massachusetts Hall while Harvard President Drew Faust looked on. File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer Boston Mayor M. Thomas Menino and Harvard President Drew Faust attended a December 2013 groundbreaking in Allston for Barry’s Corner Residential and Retail Commons. File photo by Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographerlast_img read more