Wednesday, May 27, 2009


A nice Avett Brothers show review here:
that's most notable for it's comparison of the Avett's current energy to the Old 97s, which I think I can get on board with, especially if the comparison is to Too Far to Care era 97s.

By the way, I'm glad to argue with you about it:
but I'm still convinced Too Far to Care is the best alt-country album ever made.

They've always got to find a flaw with albums:

For some reason:
I still haven't gotten my copy of the Monahans CD in the mail.  I blame USPS, not Misra, though, given that it took almost 30 days for my last Bloodshot order to get here.

If you are still forgetting to read What's So Funny?:
then you missed a good one here. (As usual Relatively Safe For Work - i.e., don't read it out loud in your cubicle.)

I hope:
that my expectations aren't unnecessarily high for The Hangover.

Thrift Store Cowboys got some late arriving SXSW coverage here (page takes a while to load for some reason):
and yes, the band featured on the next page is Metallica.  Pretty sweet.  And another short SXSW review popped up here.

If you need a good new book:
try Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida.  It's a fast read, but a good one.  If you've not heard of her, she's married to Dave Eggers, and while their styles are not the same, she similarly has the ability to write in such a way that you don't put the book down until you're done.

Acoustic show, this Friday.  Denver.  At least I know it won't burst my eardrums like the last time I saw them.  Apparently the Post called it "one of the 10 most exciting club shows this summer."  And it might even end early enough to check out Lucero at the Bluebird later that night.

the common link was Lloyd Maines.

"I mean, like, if you don't know anything about cars then you're basically not a guy, right?"

Also overheard:
Countless conversations about Jon & Kate Plus 8.  Come on people.

Headline in the Denver Post reading "No Charges Against Poudre Doctor."  Not to make fun of the actual situation relating to this story, whatever it is, but this struck me as funny because the area, typically called the Poudre Valley, is pronounced "pooder."  

Good news Lubbock:
Buddy Holly Center summer showcase schedule announced. If you don't go to any other show, GO SEE MARIACHI AMISTAD!  I'm not joking.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Steve Earle - Twist and Shout in store 5/15

Steve Earle gave a free in-store performance at Twist and Shout Records in Denver yesterday (5/15), promoting his just-released album Townes, a collection of Townes Van Zandt covers.  The performance exemplified just what I appreciate in live performance these days, which was a presentation that's not just the album as you'll hear it in the recordings, but a well thought out mix of songs and stories that you won't find anywhere else.  Even though I dropped $30 on the vinyl album, they wouldn't let the wife and I both into the wristband line (of people who had bought the album), so I told them to keep it and hung back with the good old common folk where there was plenty of room to see Earle anyway.

The crowd was a mix of just what you'd expect from outlaw country rocker turned political activist: old musicians (playing it super cool of course, and talking about recording equipment), hipsters (silly hats), frat boys (untucked Banana Republic shirts), moms and dads (wearing mom and dad clothes and wandering around loudly asking questions about what line they should be in), rednecks (rednecks), and redneck meth-heads (evidenced by uncontrollable outbursts and inability to stay still).  Throw in a few people with old Copperhead Road shirts and it was show time.

Earle mixed the set with his own songs and Townes songs from the album. The performance started out with "Taneytown," and went straight into the music for "Rex's Blues," which served as background music for Earle providing a short monologue about Van Zandt. "I had a friend and a teacher and his name was Townes," he began. What followed were a number of recollections and stories about Townes, including his love the Colorado Rocky Mountains and a statement that he believed Townes truly began to die the day he moved away from Texas. Finally, he detailed that he had made a record of 15 covers of Townes' songs, and "this ain't one of 'em," at which point he followed into the lyrics for Rex's Blues to go with the music he'd been playing before.

If memory serves me correctly, next up was "Fort Worth Blues," not a Townes song, but Earle's own tribute to Townes from El Corazon. That song alone turned me on to both Earle and Van Zandt when I heard it the first time on the Austin City Limits tribute to Van Zandt.  I posted a link to a video of that performance some time back -- it still gets me just about every time.

Overall, the rest of the set followed with a mix of Earle's stories (including a reference to Big Spring, TX), Earle's politics, and a few more songs from the album - "Lungs," "Pancho and Lefty," and "Colorado Girl."  Having bought and listened to the album, the performances are strong, and the liner notes fit the album perfectly.  Don't expect earth-shattering performances or never before heard songs (which Pitchfork must have been looking for), but I think you'll find a well thought out tribute to a friend.  Earle explained that he recorded the guitar and vocals in his apartment in New York because he wanted to focus on playing them the way he remembered Townes playing them.

A couple of other notes of interest.  1.) Justin Townes Earle joins his dad on "Mr. Mudd and Mr. Gold," which I understand is his first collaboration with his dad on an album.  2.) For those of who can handle buying such things, the new Rolling Stone has a great article in the new issue (Green Day cover) about the elder Earle, van Zandt, and J.T. Earle if you get a chance to check it out.  I don't think an online version of the article is currently available.  3.) I don't know why New West didn't provide downloads with the vinyl version, but there's something about the album that makes me glad they didn't, even if they were just saving money.

To revisit "Fort Worth Blues" once more and further risk suffocation in my own sentimentality, I think the most striking thing I gained from this show was an understanding of the song I didn't have previously. The lines that always meant the most to me in the past were "you used to say the highway was your home, but we both know that ain't true, it's just the only place a man can go, when he don't know where he's traveling to." It's a poignant tribute to a friend that  has always struck as me one of the moments where a songwriter finds the words to say exactly what he means. 

However, on this particular day, the line that really struck me was "every place I travel through I find, some kind of sign, that you've been through." Something about this line made me realize that it's as much about Townes himself as it is about the loved ones he left behind, and how they have to deal with his memory on a regular basis.  Earle truly is a survivor and the thing I appreciate the most is that he's taken the time to share memories with us of his friend Townes Van Zandt.

Have you ever seen Doug Burr from a DC9 at Night?

As you likely know, I clamor at even the hint of something from Doug Burr that I've not yet seen. This video features a very short interview with Doug and a performance of "Slow Southern Home," brought to you by the Observer's DC9 at Night blog.

Short as the interview may be, I think Doug basically sums up his entire philosophy of the music business with just a few sentences. Quite an impressive model that I think the music industry never would have dreamed would work - make good music the way you want and let the rest work itself out.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I probably got a little too excited about this...

but Rhett Miller and Steve Earle were on 30 Rock's latest episode Kidney Now! along with Elvis Costello, Adam Levine, Sheryl Crow, Mary J. Blige, Moby, Clay Aiken, Wyclef, Rachel Yamagata (I was just told) and a number of others. I had a bit of a moment in our living room when I recognized Rhett. Steve was front and center, but Rhett was in the background and they never really zoomed in on him. I'm guessing it had to do with both of them having albums coming out soon.

Also, looks pretty sweet that Old 97s upcoming tour will feature Murry Hammond and Rhett Miller performing their respective solo material.

Speaking of Steve Earle, glad I didn't cough up the $30 to see him last summer given that he's doing a free in-store tomorrow. Of course I'll probably blow $30 buying his new Townes tribute on vinyl.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oddly, there's a common link between these

Hope this is as good as it looks

And if not, then there's always Zach Galifianakis in The Hangover.

This is Awesome

Apparently Wilco is offering a full stream of the new album here. So stop reading and go check it out.

I'm pretty sure everyone at Pitchfork had to throw away their drawers (pronounced "draws") after they found out about this.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Not a music entry, but I just couldn't help myself

If you read this blog, you probably don't care about pro basketball, and even if you do, you probably don't care much about the Nuggets. That is all completely understandable to me. However, if you haven't stopped reading yet, you should check out the recent ESPN article about Chauncey Billups. It's really a fantastic story about one of Denver's hometown heroes. As much as the moniker of "Thuggets" was hard to argue with at times last season, I really don't think it's accurate anymore. As badly as the NBA likely wants to see a LeBron vs. Kobe finals series sheerly for monetary reasons, I honestly believe the Nuggets just might have tapped into the Rockies magic from a year and a half ago. No reason to get ahead of myself, but they are playing good basketball right now. And you've got to love Chauncey's personal road to the spot he's in now.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In case you were wondering

The Kris Kristofferson/Toby Keith flap that I mentioned here seems to have largely faded into obscurity, which is generally fine with me.  It somehow brought a TK fan to find my blog, which has led me to work diligently to make sure that never happens again.  Anywho, both sides were denying it, and everyone has mostly stopped talking about it altogether, but I thought I should share one tiny tidbit with you.

It turns out that Kris's wife remembers the encounter.  If you're like me, this info helps me immensely and really helps put Kris back up where he needs to be in the world of Outlaw Country.

Toby Keith is not/never will be an outlaw.  Remember this line from one of his big hits?

"you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, you, I wanna talk about, I wanna talk about me..."

Let's just leave it at that.

Richard Buckner - Walnut Room 5/1

The long awaited return of Richard Buckner to Denver came last weekend, and as usual, it was well worth the wait. The last time he came through, Six Parts Seven was the opener and backing band, which seemed to allow him to play many of the songs off of Meadow as you hear them on the album. This go 'round, it was just Richard and his guitar(s) and effects pedal(s).

The Walnut Room in Denver has a bit of a yuppie feel to it, and the two openers (and their devoted fans/friends) didn't really help that feeling. While a bit awkward to read, I don't mention them by name because I have nothing against them personally, but I just don't listen to much music that is inspired by episodes of Grey's Anatomy.

The openers apparently brought out a ton of their parents and co-workers to the show, as the room was packed with people intently listening to them play while also checking their iphones to make sure the babysitter hadn't called since they checked the phone 3 minutes ago. Apparently the second opener is a big favorite of the venue's, as the soundman gazed at the stage like a lovestruck teenager during most of the set. He even went to the trouble of "shushing" the folks talking with the first opener at the merch table when their discussion of their favorite martini got too loud (I think they settled on the cranapple-tini). This is the same soundman who surfed the internet for the entirety of Buckner's set, but probably for the best, since I expect he probably would have just made things worse if he had tried to turn knobs.

As I've found somewhat characteristic of Richard Buckner shows, RB himself was in the audience for a good portion of the sets of each opener, politely listening to what they were doing. A great moment for me came when one of the earlier performers made a joke about how he was performing at a show and forgot the words to one of his own songs, so he just made up the rest, and while the crowd of moms and pops laughed, I turned around and saw Buckner looking at him just as stonefaced as always. Nonetheless, Buckner knows how to play the gigging game and was extremely respectful of both openers, and even seemed to muster a slight affirmative nod when the soundman brought up to him how great the second performer was.

When it came time for his set, Buckner quickly set up his equipment and began playing. I didn't have to wait long for the song I most wanted to hear, as he played "Blue and Wonder" right off the bat. In true RB style, he didn't play the album version of many songs, but rather a number of remixed (for lack of a better word) versions that really exemplify the time and care he puts into his music. As he tends to do, he blended one song right into another, either with guitar work alone, or using his loop pedal to span the gap. This made for an awkward situation for all the school teachers and GAP clerks who had come to see their friends open the show, as there was never a break where they could get up and leave. This fact set in after the 3rd or 4th song, and so the folks who weren't on board with Buckner's music slipped out into the bar-side of the Walnut Room, which inevitably was blaring with Kelly Clarkson and people cheering each other on drinking Irish car bombs.

Overall, Richard Buckner continues to please his loyal fan base by keeping an unwavering focus on his art, which combines both songwriting and performance. He finished the set with his loop pedal echoing the final notes of his set, and walked out the side door...right into a crowd of people drinking cranapple-tinis and car bombs who wouldn't have known him from the bouncer. And I'm pretty sure that's just the way he likes it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cory Branan

For anyone anxiously awaiting Cory Branan's newest record, which he's been working on in San Francisco over the past few months, I can't really give you an update because I don't know what stage it is in. However, I can direct you to a live recording just posted by Ardent Presents. The sound quality is really good for a live recording, and there's even some banter in between the songs, which is a great thing given that Cory is one of those guys who just knows how to tell good stories and entertain. Anyway, enough talking about it, check it out for yourself. You can right click the "Download" link at the bottom to download the full podcast.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Good stuff

Daytrotter just released a session with J. Tillman done during SXSW. It will be well worth your time to check this out (and it's free to download the songs). Tillman was on his game that week in Austin, and this session documents that very well. For some reason, his voice and guitar alone have a fuller sound than most 5 piece bands.

If you like it, head over to Western Vinyl and pick up a copy of Vacilondo Territory Blues.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Great moments in songwriting history

I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin',
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin',
I saw a white ladder all covered with water,
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken,
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children,

Bob Dylan - "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall"

Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, theyre red, white and blue.
And when the band plays hail to the chief,
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, lord,

John Fogerty - "Fortunate Son"

Love ain't what this song's about
It's about beer and whiskey and drinkin'
It's about playin the fool and actin without thinkin'

Roger Creager - "Love"

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Ryan Adams keeps up the crazy

If anyone figures out what's going on with his new site, please let me know.

Update: as you may have discovered, this site changes like the weather, so the link may lead you to varying levels of craziness depending on when you check it.

Northwest Airlines is a cold dead place

What's better than driving from Denver to Detroit and back?
--Flying to Detroit and back.

What's better than flying from Denver to Detroit and back on Northwest?
--Everything else.

Here comes the not-too-frequent time when I post a blog that has absolutely nothing to do with music or really anything other than me complaining about something that no one else is likely to be interested in.  Stop here if you're not interested in hearing my whining.

The beginning of my bad fortunes came with my seating assignment on the plane home from Detroit to Denver.  By some luck of the draw, I had the middle seat in the row just behind the exit row, which I've always been told is the row with the least leg room of all, as it loses a slight bit of space in giving the exit row more room.

Things took another turn for the worse when my seat mate to the left arrived.  Turns out he was quite a large man, thus meaning that we were going to have to defy certain social rules of flying, most notably the one where you are expected not to be in physical contact with your seat neighbors.  This rule was broken right away, as my new friend came to inhabit the entire shared arm rest, plus about 3 inches into my seat's airspace.  We spent a good deal of our 3 and a half hours together with shoulders and upper arms touching to varying extents.

I calmly tried to maintain my composure and avoid having a meltdown.  After taking his seat, it became clear that my seatmate also was literally about to overheat trying to find his seat belt.  After a few valiant attempts, he gave up the ghost and flipped on his ipod to a Rick Warren podcast, apparently trying to calm his nerves after the seat belt fiasco.  Now let me say here, before anyone gets angry, I don't hold anything against this fellow passenger, as I think he was probably just as uncomfortable as me, and possibly even more so.  We were both victims of some cruel universal destiny.  To make this destiny even worse, the drink service finally started about 45 minutes into our adventure.  My friend ordered diet Pepsi, which he proceeded to sip feverishly, to the point that I thought I was going to have to start him on an I.V. drip of the beveridge.  In yet another cruel twist of fate, every feverish sip of his diet Pepsi brought his elbow further into my space, gently nudging my ribs every 10 to 15 seconds for about a 5 minute span until the can was empty.

As I noted, the exit row was directly in front of me, and to my great fortune, the woman directly in front of me leaned her seat back, giving me just enough room to blink my eyes if I turned my to the side.  Once again, not the person's fault, but this woman was about 5'2", and hence literally a foot and a half shorter than me.  At various times I saw her stretch her leg up into the air and wiggle her toes.  This really added to my overall flight experience, given that I really couldn't even feel my toes by this point.  The amount of space they had compared to me was almost obscene - I think that they actually built a fort with their seats at one point, and they were playing twister at one point as well.

It turns out that Northwest Airlines has fairly recently come under the control of Delta, and in so doing have apparently acquired step-child status in the company.  Of many things that were advertised, such as their capability to use credit cards and their listing of of drink options, many were simply not available - not as in not working or "we're out of that," but rather, they just never existed.  In addition, the "pay to check bags" policy now delays each flight by at least 10-15 minutes, because persons refuse to pay and thus bring their huge bags on the plane and try to stuff them in the overhead bins.  On both of my flights, we spent an unreasonable amount of time waiting for people to get their luggage stowed away, with some eventually having to check their bags because there is no more room.  I can't imagine this is good for business, as the only ones not really affected are the 16 elite humans in first class, who avoid such drama by getting a preflight massage during this time.  Everyone else is driven to a silent, or at times not-so-silent rage, with no good outlet for their frustration except to buy a $7 croissant sandwich. 

So first class is what it is - people who can afford to pay extra fly in the lap of luxury compared to those of us in seat 10B, and we can't do much about it.  Northwest, however, goes so far as to ask coach passengers not to use the bathroom in the front of the airplane "in the interests of safety."  No, they don't say it's federal law, but for the safety of our 1st class passengers, poor persons should please refrain from pooping in the front toilet.  To add insult to injury, they have two straps that velcro together to form a barrier between 1st class and coach.  Of course it doesn't stop anyone from getting through if they want, but serves as a reminder that you don't  belong up there.  I caught a few glimpses of the first class passengers lounging around.  Looked like a couple of guys had just finished up a tennis match and were getting ready to hit the showers, while others were spending time in the sauna and hot tub up front.

My final annoying travel note came in the form of a man sitting on the other side of the plane, in my row, who somehow talked the woman in front of him into changing seats (i.e., hobbit row seat for an exit row seat) so he could "sit across from his friend."  The woman knew what he was doing, but graciously let him move up anyway.  He subsequently turned around from his new seat and asked the woman if she wanted to put her bag in front of his seat, because he had "plenty of room" in front of him.  The woman clearly just didn't want to talk to him, but he continued to tell her thank you and make small talk about Greek proverbs, etc. etc., to the point that I really wished she would ask for her seat back.  He talked to his friend for about 30 minutes, and proceeded to sleep for the next 3 hours in his spacious seat.  It's situations like this where I think we all really want to believe in karma.

Our flight arrived almost an entire hour later than scheduled, as headwinds apparently slowed the plane to a crawl.  I managed to get away without any lasting physical or psychological damage I think, so I guess I can't complain too much.  However, if you see Justin Townes Earle, Explosions in the Sky, or Monahans, tell them thanks for me, because without them and my trusty 3 year old ipod, I probably would have lost my mind somewhere over Iowa.  

In closing, looks like I'll be sticking to Southwest as much as possible, given that at least when you don't get a good seat there, it's more a result of you not checking in early enough, rather than the feeling you get on Northwest, which is simply that you're just the poorest person on the plane, and hence why you are sitting in 10B.  If you're the fortunate soul in 9B, however, don't forget to bring your yoga mat on the flight, because you'll surely be wanting it when you see the expanse of floor space you have in front of you.