Welcome to my asylum for ideas and thoughts on movies, politics, culture, and all things Bruce Springsteen.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Easy Leaves and Pagey at 70 and Other Stuff.

Wow; the second post in a week and a half and it only took me three years to do so. While people are beginning to pick up the flu and others running themselves ragged already this month, things have, for the most part, been okay. Last weekend, I dragged a bunch of friends to the Great American Music Hall to catch the Formal Western Evening of the Easy Leaves, a great band from Sonoma. I stumbled across these guys last year from a fortuitous perusal of the San Francisco Chronicle's 96 Hours. The Easy Leaves consists of two guys, on acoustic guitar/harmonica and upright bass; often they play with a drummer and a steel pedal player. This last gig they also included a Tele player. I've seen them twice before in early '13, both times opening for Nicki and the Gramblers. Described as country-rock, modern Americana, the Leaves sound like a cross of early rockabilly and traditional Bakersfield country. At the Great American, they encouraged everyone to wear their best western wear and most of the audience obliged. While some of the ironic hipsters went a little overboard, it was like a costume party where we all enjoyed ourselves and inner-cowboys and -gals. Those that overdid it looked right out of Woody's Roundup but those who came with an authentic look were awesome. Some twenty-somethings were high-stepping and square dancing while the rest of us rocked out and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. An opening band of a trio of women aside, the middle act brought me straight to the early '50s as the B-Stars, a five-piece get up from the East Bay delivered an hour of western swing that was the coolest since Bob Wills or the Maddox Brothers. That hollow-bodied Gibson electric guitar soloing accompanied with lap steel and fiddle is just the best. If Hank Williams had only, well, you know. Later in the night, I bought their ten-inch lp and a couple of the guys signed it. The Easy Leaves were on fire - playing most of "American Times", their most recent lp, along with cuts from their first lp and some new material. They even wrote a song called "Fresno" after their excursion last February to the Fulton 55, a great new club in the 'no where they opened for Nicki and the guys. I had actually trucked down to my old home town for the first time in about seven years to catch the show with my dear old buddies and we had a heck of a time! The evening ended and my friends and I cleaned up on the merch while handshakes and "thank you's" were had. It was great seeing such a great venue filled by a local band supported by their local fans. Speaking of, in a couple of weeks, we're catching Nicki and the guys at the FILLMORE!!! In just over a year, they've gone from playing small music festivals to Slim's, the Independent, Bimbo's and now a sell-out at Uncle Bobo's place! My wife and I are stoked just to lock down a couple of posters :) and I'm hoping they pull out a couple of nice surprises to make a great night. Announced last night - Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes will be leaving the Allman Brothers Band after the completion of the 2014 tour. As the rumor mill is flying fast and furious, us on the in are seeing that the band is simply deciding to retire after forty-five years. May they go out with guns a-blazing. I don't think I've really spent a lot of time discussing how this band changed and, in many other way, saved my life. For a later date. Jimmy Page is seventy?!!?!?!? Just how many times did I play air guitar while watching "The Song Remains the Same"!? Probably the greatest influence on my own guitar playing and in reality the greatest front man in rock history, I can't think of him as someone older than my near-seventy year old father. The man who created the "guitar army" in the studio, Page always challenged the fan and listener in determining how many rhythm parts were laid down, the type of guitar for each part. Blisteringly-fast solos, macho swagger and always with a finger on the pulse of the blues, Jimmy Page always inspired me to do my homework. White-haired and old, may ol' Pagey continue to inspire another generation of guitar wannabes, some who may go on to actually play the instrument well. Phil Everly died last week. While I've only been familiar with the brothers' handful of hits, Phil and Don left a huge collection of songs and inspired countless bands where multi-harmonic male voices, singing in mournful and beautiful fashion, pushed rock towards the simple and yet profound. Simon & Garfunkel brought them on their reunion tour a decade ago and it was a bucket-list thing to see my dad flip over the Everlys, as they impacted his own youthful years in the South. Without the Everly Brothers there would be no Paul and John, Art and Paul, CS&N, those gorgeous Grateful Dead records from 1970, the Eagles and even the guys in Truth & Salvage. If I ever put together a band, their influence will be right there in those high, soulful harmonies. Bruce's next album drops next week. I'm also going to pick up a mini-box set of John Sebastian's first lps and a new band called Hard Working Americans, consisting of Neal Casal, Todd Snider and a bunch of other rock journeymen, drop their first album. Next week oughtta be great.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

So Long, 2013, And My Music Faves...

Gosh, I wish I had more time to keep this up. I simply wish I had more time. 2013 was a good year for my family and I. Even a second-story toilet overflow that pretty much demolished four rooms of the house has brought a nice face-lift to our ol' domicile. My children continue to get bigger and, thank God, remain healthy. They're doing well in school. I have two sections of music history, for which I can't really complain. I went to twenty concerts this year, my most ever. Took my dad to three of them. Met many musicians. Turned forty. Watched my dad continue to do great things as mayor of my city. Spent great times (but never enough) with great friends. Took time away from politics. While I forgot to do this last year, here's my Top __ List of 2013 music releases. I know that there are many more important things than album releases but everyone else is producing lists so I might as well. For the most part, here are my favorite albums of 2013 in no particular order: Preservation Hall Jazz Band - "That's It". Not a good year for jazz and yet this reliable New Orleans mainstay delivered yet again. The band's first album of all-original material, this record's only flaw is that it's too short. Can't say that about too many records. This album will make you stomp, swing, Congo-line and smile. These guys never disappoint but this time they simply soar. Dawes - "Stories Don't End". I enjoyed discovering this L.A. band last year and its first two albums. Labeled as part of the renewal of the "mellow mafia" sound a la Jackson Browne (they even played with him), Dawes is a band whose songs don't hit you in the face, they stick with you. Not ear-wormy but you know lyrics and chord progressions are good when you find yourself thinking about them at random times of your day. Nothing's wrong with introspective lyrics that question why things in one's life are the way they are, either. Aoife O'Donovan - "Fossils". I resisted picking up this album due to a bit of what I thought was hype. Five months later, I realized that it was my loss. A beautiful album (from a beautiful woman) of "Americana" music - she wrote for Alison Krauss and her banjo player was in Bruce's Seeger Sessions Band - her lilting voice and aching, poignant lyrics make for an amazing record. Had a chance to see her the same week I bought the record and her solo acoustic performance made the songs even that more profound. Charles Bradley - "Victim of Love". The screamin' eagle of soul has been one of my greatest discoveries of the last couple of years. His back story is wonderful (too long to go into it here) but his music is invigorating. A revival of the best stuff to ever come out of Memphis in the '60s, Bradley's new album drives that SOUL into you and doesn't let go. Turning the record over and over and over is the only way to play Charles Bradley's music and seeing him perform these songs live in September is something I won't forget for a very long time. Dylan - "Another Self Portrait". How can a series of outtakes from three or four of Dylan's first batch of albums not considered life-altering? This latest Bootleg Series release will show you. I've loved Bob's "singer-songwriter" phase from 1969 through the early '70s and this record makes "Self Portrait" and "New Morning" even better. If that's possible. Willie Nile - "American Ride". Why doesn't the world know about this guy?!?!? In his mid'60s and rocking like a teenager. I fell hard for "Streets of New York" in 2006 and Nile continues to blast with East Coast rock, romantic tales of the Big Apple and a sense of staying true to his musical vision while knowing that a greater audience is missing his music. Known for writing the best E Street Band music Bruce never did, Willie's Willie and not derivative of the Boss or anyone else. I love how great rock and roll still makes me love cities, people and relationships in romantic ways that give me hope about life. Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers - eponymous. 2013 seemed to be the year of all things Bluhm. I discovered Nicki in the summer of 2012 and loved her music immediately upon seeing her live the first time. Come to find she's from the same home town as my wife! Her re-released "Driftwood" was just about my favorite album last year and the Gramblers pick up where they left off - giving us music that sounds like the perfect Linda Ronstadt or Bonnie Raitt album - a little soul, a little country, a lot of pop, fantastic harmonies and song sensibilities straight from the best era of L.A. - the early 1970s. This new one doesn't quite flow like "Driftwood" with a singular sound but each song is so catchy, so poppy and so good that it doesn't matter. Catching the band live, it's also great to see them improve with every performance. Including last year's Christmas concert (at the small Town Theater in Lafayette that holds a hundred people!), a couple of club shows, the album release party, the Hardly Strictly set (with Boz Skaggs) and another holiday gig last week, I caught Nicki and the guys six times this year! I'm just glad my wife is okay with my harmless crush :) That leads to The Mother Hips - "Behind Beyond". Man, Mother Hips was the band that got away until just this last winter. They've been around since my college days and I remember them rolling through Isla Vista many times. I never caught them then, nor in the 90s nor the last ten years. They'd always been on my radar but...well, that darn fish...After seeing Tim perform in his wife's band (see above) I pulled them up on youtube and realized that it has been my very big loss to have missed them all these years. A solid rock and roll band with all of the right influences but such a unique and vibrant, classic sound. Man, I'm an idiot. 2013 was a serendipitous time to stumble across them, though, as the band was road-testing an album due for a summer release. I was able to see the band twice, all the while scooping up as much of their back catalogue as possible. And then, their new one comes out and it may just be my favorite of all of their records. Four- and five-minute weavings of twin guitar dueling, Grateful Dead-meets-Crazy Horse movement, each song with its own stamina and statement. This record works best when listening on "repeat" mode. Why these guys aren't bigger is beyond me. I must catch a couple of shows soon and collect more of their mid'90s releases. Bobby Whitlock - "Where There's a Will There's a Way". My penultimate favorite of the year. This is the first time Bobby Whitlock's first two albums (epon. and "Raw Velvet")from 1972 have been released on cd. It's a crime against humanity that these records don't receive daily play on classic rock radio and not brought up as influential on modern artists that love music from the best era of rock and roll. It's truly a damn shame that Bobby Whitlock ranks up there as one of rock's greatest "also rans"; how is it that the guy who played with Delaney and Bonnie, George Harrison and then pushed Eric Clapton to make "Layla" all in two years' time isn't a star on his own? This re-release has the core Derek & the Dominos along with other studio legends all over these songs; they're Stonesy, bluesy, soulful and full of church. They boogie without strutting and they get quiet and beautiful without being lachrymose. Bobby Whitlock's songwriting was right there on the pulse of everything that was awesome in the early '70s - Stephen Stills was hitting on it, Clapton was, so was Leon Russell and Joe Cocker and the best of the "Woodstock Generation". A good friend and I have always agreed that Bobby wasn't the rhythm keyboardist and backing vocalist on "Layla", he was the second lead singer and main instrumentalist along with Clapton. These records give Whitlock his due and let him shine and man, shine he does. I would love to see (as it seems to be happening) his career get a kick-start and he tour. I had the good fortune to chit-chat with him a couple of times on Facebook, sharing stories and the love of music. He gave me a great story for my music history class of the origins of "Thorn Tree In the Garden", the closer on the Layla record which they adored. I'm listening to the disc as I type this and man, it makes me want to hop in my car, fly up to Mendocino, sit on the cliffs and stare out at the ocean with this streaming out of KOZT's speakers. May this re-release give you the credit you deserve, sir. I'm leaving the best for last. This is my absolute favorite of 2013 and these guys have been my absolute favorites since crossing paths with them since 2009. Truth & Salvage Co.'s "Pick Me Up" is three years in the making. While their sophomore release should have seen the light of day two years earlier, the band's journey from Southern California to Nashville has taken them tens of thousands of miles, critical acclaim and very little attention for just how great they really are. "Pick Me Up" has a smattering of songs by each of the songwriters and by now, Walker, Scott, Bill and Tim have created their own identities as musicians. The guys have given us more songs from the road, reflections of home, a sense of place and the importance of the people that surround them. I once described this band as an old friend one has just met and "Pick Me Up" carries that friendship beyond their near-perfect first release. With twin guitars and keyboards, in-the-pocket bass and harmonies to make any classic L.A. band nervous and inferior, T&S is the modern Band - their musical influences there to draw from, their talent to play just about anything, new songs that stand right up there with the classic covers they perform, these guys continue to be The Real Deal. Their two shows from last August were perfect and one of them served as my big birthday party. Thankfully, a whole group of friends was willing to be dragged along to the Café du Nord and the band delivered its strongest and longest gig I've seen them play, doing Dead, Dylan, Band and Beatles covers and killing them all. The final song from PMU (my favorite) was dedicated to me as a birthday wish and the band ended their show by performing "Pure Mountain Angel" from their first record not only without amplification but with acoustic guitars and standing in the middle of the audience, arms linked around bandmates and friends alike. While Walker started the first verse's line, the band gave the song to the crowd and in four-part harmony, we helped the guys take the song home. One giant embrace, a gift of song and the memory of great friends celebrating, this show is the album is the music is the band: Truth & Salvage. Thanks, guys. I stuck to a Top 10. There are so many honorable mentions that I'm chucking them up collectively as the "eleventh" - I couldn't choose from them but they've been fantastic, getting lots of play and love: Glen Hansard - "Drive All Night" ep. Doing Bruce's classic from "The River" with Jake C. on sax. The Stone Foxes - hard rock from the Bay Area. Song Preservation Society - one can derisively label them and Crosby, Stills, Simon and Garfunkel and yet this short first album is some pretty wonderful modern folk. The Blank Tapes - "Vacation". Lo-fi indie surfer rock at its best. Jonathan Wilson - "Fanfare". His albums are long and sometimes I lose attention but in concert, this is the most psychedelic, far-out space rock and the best head trip since Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother". Jason Isbell - "Southeastern". Thankfully I've been listening to him for years or else I'd get sick of the attention this record's been getting as his "sober" record. Isbell's career since leaving the Drive-by Truckers has shown that he's been releasing the band's best music for the last half-decade. Billy Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones - Foreverly. I adore her and hate everything about his band and yet this cover album of the Everly Brothers from 1958 is sublime. Need to absorb it greater. Tedeschi Trucks Band - "Made Up Mind". The band's second release which demonstrates just how sterile a band can be in the studio and yet live can be like seeing God. An eleven piece modern day Delaney and Bonnie and Mad Dogs with an amazing singer and the world's greatest living guitar player. Never to be missed again. Neil Young - "Live at the Cellar Door, 1970". Another "bootleg" release. It's a bit disarming just how good Neil was right as CSN&Y was imploding; this is the third release within one year of his career and again, it's solo. Not sure whether Neil realizes that his career was peaking as it was getting started. Or that his records were nowhere near as consistent as his live performance or that he needn't have used electric instruments to make some of the greatest music of the decade. Neil's always been so wildly inconsistent that that whole Neil-being-Neil thing actually gets old very quickly when trying to figure out which album to buy or era to listen to. "Cellar Door" is a great spin. I have had a fantastic year collecting music I don't know where to start. I've scooped up much of the back catalogue of the Hips, Glen Hansard, Uncle Tupelo, the Replacements, Carole King, Dylan's "lost years" and much else. My favorite has been Dave Mason's 1970 "Alone Together" which just about completes the circle of all of those musicians from both sides of the Atlantic who recorded D&B's "On Tour", "All Things Must Pass", "Layla", "Mad Dogs & Englishmen" and all of the side project records those musicians banged out - another lost classic and seven perfect songs. I came to really discover the Lovin' Spoonful and fall in love with that band's output. Fortunately, I was also able to see John Sebastian in concert, meet him and have him sign my Woodstock poster. What a great guy and while his career never saw the fame his band did, he's a solid musician, quite a great songwriter and a journeyman from the Woodstock Generation. 2013 wasn't without loss and Woodstock may have lost its greatest flag-bearer. On April 22nd, Earth Day of all days, Richie Havens passed away. Over the years, my love for his music has only deepened and as I've collected his best records (both from his heyday as well as the fantastic records of the last ten years), his music holds great musical and spiritual importance to me. The man's inner beauty and life message still resonates and as I think of him on nearly a daily basis, I mourn his passing greatly. Thankfully, his output will remain. That's it. I know my writing is rusty and I'm trying to do this instead of clean my house before going out. Happy 2013 and may 2014 bring peace and health to everyone.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Thirty Years Burning Down the Road

Bruce sat at his kitchen table to record a tape of demos. Rough outline sketches that would serve as a blueprint for the E Street's next album. He couldn't get past the vision of the music from the demos, even (supposedly) after recording the album with his band. Thank goodness, his manager, Jon Landau, said, "this is the album." What Bruce gave us was, not only half of his smash Born in the U.S.A., was his noir classic, Nebraska.

His best album? Very possibly.

The 2012 presidential campaign officially launched, with the Iowa caucus rolling through the state. Who would have thought that Mitt Romney would have tied with, all people, Rick Santorum? Ron Paul third, Newt Gingrich fourth, Rick Perry and Michelle Bachmann distant fifth and sixth, respectively. I can't remember the last time such a far-right grouping of candidates ran for president. In 1964 and 1968, Ronald Reagan was the lone example of the far-right branch of the GOP; today, he'd probably be the most liberal of them all. This is going to be interesting.


Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Favorites of 2011

It's been a while, indeed. '11 has been a kicker, though, and I'm glad to see it go. With that, I still found many treasures to make my life happy. My favorite novel is Amor Towles's Rules of Civility, a book I find myself thinking about nearly daily. I saw many concerts, including U2's 360 Tour, which was stunning, a beautiful Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the Branford Marsalis Quartet and last month, Black Crowe Rich Robinson at the Cafe du Nord. Truth & Salvage Co. rocked me five times, not including that awesome Giants game and a super Christmas present of their 2011 Fall Tour poster.

I spent much of my attention filling in my back-catalogue, falling in love with the Greenwich Village folk scene and much of early Dylan; Dave van Ronk's excellent first albums and many albums of the '70s singer-songwriters. I loved listening to my children sing Pete Seeger songs while having my head spun with some of the most amazing jazz from the 1950s and 1960s. My favorite discovery of a non-'11 disc is by the young whipper-snapper Dylan LeBlanc, who released an amazing country-folk album last year titled, "Pauper's Field". It's a stunningly beautiful, haunting record that paints pictures of criminals, lost lovers, unloving children and doting parents, all wound within a seeming concept-album story from yesteryear. And to boot, on vinyl. A true find.

While I came upon some wonderful releases this year, here are my Top 10 (mainly in no order):

10. Branford Marsalis and Joey Calderozzo - Songs of Mirth and Melancholy - a beautiful duet record of piano and saxphones.
9. Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Del McCoury Band - American Legacy - a perfect blend of New Orleans jazz and bluegrass. A match made in heaven.
8. Jason Isbell & 400 Unit Here We Rest - caught him in June and October and his record and performances top his former band, my beloved Drive-By Truckers.
7. Ryan Adams - Ashes & Fire - not perfect but a great, moody introspective set of songs.
6. Steve Earle - I'll Never Get Out of This Alive - a tremendous story of Nawlins and the resurrection of that bedeviled city.
5. Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irions - Bright Examples - folk rock by Arlo's daughter and her hubby. A happy, peaceful album with great guitar playing by Johnny and Neal Casal. Her grandpa'd be proud.
4. Paul Simon - So Beautiful Or So What - who said seventy would slow one down? His best record in three decades. Simon can still write haunting lyrics.
3. Whiskerman - a great folk rocker out of Oakland that I discovered randomly in the newspaper. This eponymous release has Graham Patzer playing violin while singing and I haven't forgotten it.
2. The Blank Tapes - another band out of Oakland, lead by Matt Adams. This is truly the find of the year. Technically, the BT would be labeled 'lo-fi' and yet Adams's records cover all sorts of rock styles. There's a great mid-'60s mellow vibe to many of the songs while capturing an early'70s country-rock vibe. I fell in love with the Blank Tapes so deeply I scooped up every one of the band's records in the first month of discovering them - all nine!!! Support your local artists!!!
1. My favorite record of the year: Rich Robinson's Through a Crooked Sun. The heart of the Black Crowes, this album covers the gammut of Rich's influences all the while sounding fresh and innovative. His playing is stellar, his song-writing makes one see who really pushed the other brother with the hooks we've all come to love, and the constant reminder that music of the present is nothing but a mixture of the past.

That's it, 2011. Here's to another one.

P.S. - late in the game! My self-purchased Christmas present just arrived and it's already made my list: the special edition Chris Robinson Brotherhood 10" single. With two live cuts at venues I caught gigs at (though not those specific nights), this 180-gram vinyl has a great sound, performance and song choices. I caught the CRB twice this year and both shows were amazing. Very free, a la the Grateful Dead (without, thank God, Bob Weir and his noodliness) with long, focussed jams, tight transitions and overall stellar playing. Very different from his brother, Rich. Add the two together and you don't get the Black Crowes, you get two completely different voices. A nice change for both brothers. The CRB shows were long - the special April 20th show ran three hours, twenty minutes (whereas Rich played an hour and fifty) and you were given long songs with Neal, Chris and the keyboardist Adam McDougal taking forays into wonderful musical directions. Here's a band that's been around since late Fall playing like it's been together for at least five or six years. This is a good deal. That's it. Happy New Year's. Remember all of your past NYEs and the great music recorded on this day!


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Autumn Musings

Did I last write about the baseball game? National anthem, wonderful. A's and Giants fell to pieces in September. Looking to see the Brewers take the nation's hearts and the Yankees, the pennant.

Won tickets to see Branford Marsalis Quartet at Yoshi's in the city with my friend Ana. Justin Faulkner's behind the kit now and he's the ripe old age of twenty. Eighty minutes, and the BMQ altered between bop-hard bop swingers, tenor-led, and soprano ballads. Branford's playing, while demonstrating the "sheets of sound" label a-la Coltrane, has become more melodic; I spent half the night shaking my head in amazement. God's thunder, that's what it was like.
Amor Towles' Rules of Civility is the most amazing novel I've read in I don't know how many years. Was able to communicate with the author via e-mail and even meet him last Friday night at a reading at Berkeley's Books, Inc. He signed my book and we chatted, though I could have asked him a million more questions. When was the last time that you finished a book and when pining over the protagonist, simply opened the book and read it a second time? Me neither, except for this.
Last Saturday, my wife gave me my birthday present, which was a day without reponsibility. So, I grabbed my concert-going friend and we headed to the City (again) to catch another Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival day. We left EARLY and arrived before it started. Caught more acts than ever before (Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, heard Hugh Laurie from House and his New Orleans band), Jason Isbell & 400 Unit, Kris Kristofferson and Merle Haggard, Ryan Bingham and Dead Horses, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and Steve Earle. Steve played most of his latest album, a total keeper, and Preservation Hall Jazz Band sat in on a song. A magnificent day, from the weather to the audience to the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touch of a day in the city. What could be better than the beginning of autumn?
Reading Last Call and just completed Ken Burns' Prohibition. Our forebears drank like fish and were ready to fight to death to protect that right. Interesting...
Steve Jobs passed away this afternoon. An icon. One who changed American society and the world. A true revolutionary and historical figure. Probably the most influential figure of the last quarter-century, even bigger than Reagan. Jobs didn't have to lie or cheat or pretend or imagine the past, he simply had to think about the future. From Apple's IIe to the mouse to the i-Everything, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Steve Jobs. How weird will it be to watch Forrest Gump and the "fruit company" and teach contemporary history knowing that Mr. Jobs is no longer with us.
Some music I don't want to forget that's been keeping my attention of late: Whiskerman, a musician out of Oakland, with his folk-rock, Linda Ronstadt's "Don't Cry Now", "Pat Garret and Billy the Kid", "Bird & Diz", "Roy & Diz", the Monk/Rollins record and of course, whatever the hell T&S is doing as they record and tour and turn people on night after night. Now, off to pack...


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Late, But...

I wanted to at least log this before I filed and/or lost some things...

Caught Truth & Salvage Co. twice (and a half) three weeks ago. Postings:

August 26, at the Starry Plough, Berkeley
Call Back
Rise Up
Bad Times
Skynyrd song (can't remember the title, again)
Charm City
Heart Like a Wheel
Pick Me Up
Jump the Ship
Old Piano
Middle Island Creek
See Her
E: Games People Play (Joe South cover - first time played)
Hail Hail
Pure Mountain Angel

Went with Ana G., Claire, Brad Currie. A small venue, pretty crowded. The Real Nasty, a three piece led by a singing acoustic bassist opened. Fun show and I enjoyed the new/rare songs. Camera didn't work too well. Hung out pre-show mainly with Frank.

August 27 - Sand City Festival
Made it to a street faire, akin to an art/wine fest or corn fest but for renewable energy in Monterey. Took the whole fam, which was tough as the kids were tired/bored/freezing. From my memory:

Hail Hail
Games People Play
Brothers, Sons and Daughters
Bad Times
Welcome to L.A.
Rise Up
Call Back
See Her
Middle Island Creek
Shape I'm In

Great sound, weird to sit through it all though wonderful to introduce Heather to Bill and Frank (such warm greetings) and show off the children. An hour set with good reception, though people were there to see Jackie Greene. He played for 75 minutes, half Dead covers and was a fine, solid set but nothing to write home about. I still think T&S owned the day. Very cold by dinner time and a bit of a wash when it came to whether we should have even made the trip.

Later that week, I came down with a cold and stayed home from school. While home, I figured I should see a Giants/Cubbies game and on Wednesday, August 31, there was a game at AT&T at 1:00. Just so happened that T&S sang the national anthem ;) BARTed in (bought a $2 seat sect. 330 the day before with $10 in fees), filmed them singing (BEAUTIFUL) and then charged into their section to sit and hang out all afternoon (section 113 or something, right behind home plate). Enjoyed good company, mainly with Scotty and his wife and friends but a little after with Walker, Bill and Tim. A fun day, indeed!!!

This blog is too hard to maintain. Keeping it but with no promises...


Monday, May 16, 2011

Thoughts of History and Personal Notes

The last two months have been much less stressful than the winter. It's been relatively cold and I've enjoyed the brisk weather. I need to be living somewhere that doesn't have so much heat. Watching my kids running around in the back yard with either little or no clothing in the sprinklers and bicycles makes me think I'm right. Of course my roots are here and yet it's tempting to look elsewhere...

On April 10, we caught the Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Antioch's El Campanil Theater for the second year in a row. This show was a sell-out and instead of snaking great cheap seats, we paid gold-circle second row seats. The band, while much more mellow than last year, didn't fail to deliver. Their new album is with bluegrass legend Del McCroury and his band but the PHJB played in the traditional lineup. The songs were great though unfamiliar but the band stuck with St. James' Infirmary like it did last year. They played a shorter set and though not a true revalation like the '10 performance, their music is a balm to the soul.

Ten days later, my friend Ana and I were at the New Parish to see Chris Robinson and his Brotherhood. With Neal Casal on guitar, Crowe Adam McDougal on keys and some guys I didn't know, the CRB on 4/20 played a show to a sold-out (250 people and that was IT - killer) Parish and this brand-new band sounded like they'd been together for a decade. Does anyone have a show on disc? This was killer rock and roll; mellow but tight, long jams without the noodling. I knew two or three songs max and yet was absolutely riveted for three hours and fifteen minutes of music. At the end of the first set, the guys unplugged and hopped off stage and walked right by me to their dressing room and I thanked them and patted them on their backs. I was exhausted for several days afterwards but it was all worth it. There'd better be an album coming...

On May 1st, President Obama appeared on live television to announce the death of terrorist Osama bin Laden. I sat in stunned silence as the President stated that Navy SEALs had invaded a compound in Pakistan day(s) before and shot the mastermind of 9/11. The next morning, I picked the newspaper from my driveway and had the front page laminated and mounted on my classroom wall. It took days for me to process my thoughts and emotions. It was a great announcement of an event that should not have brought great celebration but great resolve. What has changed, however, over the last two weeks, has been the GOP's lame-assed attacks of the President regarding military tactics, spending, the nation's image or the President's "resolve" on foreign affairs. While the '12 campaign doesn't start officially for another year, the GOP had better go back to the drawing board in order to attack a man who has been conservative on fiscal issues, successful on social issues and historic on foreign affairs. We'll see...


Love, Faith, Hope at the Parish

Last Thursday (5/12) Truth & Salvage Co. rolled into Oakland for a sole Bay Area shot. With some much-deserved rest (and chances to write and jam), the band hit the New Parish stage for a ninety-minute set of stalwarts and surprises. This was my third chance to see bassist Frank DiVanna with the band. March's shows were great, with hints of new material and some alterations of some of their best cuts. Thursday's set mixed album cuts with a new song, deep cut rockers and those beautiful, solid harmonies.

Pure Mountain Angel - risky opener as it has traditionally served as the farewell. The church service came early

Hail Hail - here we go...
Heart Like a Wheel - Tim taking it up a step
Welcome to L.A. - with Bill singing, "we're all looking for something"...
Pick Me Up - A new one by Walker. Mid-tempo bluesy ballad with that choir. This one will sound great on record and I can't wait. Audiences will come to love this.
Them Jeans - "South of the border, they call 'em pantalones" :)
Charm City - lay down and die, with solid singing and playing by Scott
Island - guys, please record this one. I just LOVE it.
Call Back - cool to see it buried in the set - nice, mid-tempo with the crowd singing
Rise Up - look out, here it comes
See Her - one-two punch
Middle Island Creek - they've got this one down and it's wonderful
Giant - because we love you...
E: Cowboy Song - as the guys hit the stage, I yelled this one out. "Jump" was listed but the guys looked at each other and after a couple of requests, they plowed through it.
Jump the Ship - Scott's changed the lead guitar line and has made this a meditative, soaring movement
She Really Does It - my first time hearing this one end the show and Tim just belted this one out.

Some great time talking about books and our favorite studios and rhythm sections. My friend Claire came along for her first time and she dug the whole set. The guys were true gentlemen and took great care of us, making the show yet another special set. My fourteenth and of course, another favorite. Hit the studios in the fall and knock us dead with the second album!!!