Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Do you remember when you could afford DeVotchKa concert tickets?:
Well, in a year you'll be talking about how you remember when you could afford to go see the Avetts.

By the way:
can I be the first one to recommend that DeVotchKa reissue Una Volta on vinyl?

"Dude, you going to Pretty Lights [Fort Collins electronic artist] in two weeks? It's just $40. $20 for tickets and $20 for festivities" [this means drugs apparently].

Since the Colorado tour stop didn't work out:
for Buddy Wakefield, I can at least let you know that his new CD, Live at the Typer Cannon Grand, just came out on Righteous Babe Records. It's a compilation of the best recordings of his best material - definitely worth it for my money.

I hope to see:
Denver folks out at the Thrift Store Cowboys/Amanda Shires show at the Hi-Dive on Thursday. Rosewood Thieves are the headliners.

Isn't it funny:
that Joe Ely was so quick into the internet game? He got in early enough to buy "www.ely.com." Apparently his site started in '83. I didn't even know about the internet until probably 1995.

Marfa never ceases to amaze me:
In the span of two weeks, Randy Quaid was arrested there, and Bon Iver is playing a show there. Bon Iver has only played Denver once, ever, as far as I know, and now he will have played Marfa too, a town of 2100 in the middle of the desert.

Last year's book review - The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

I recently had the time to read The Legend of Colton H. Bryant, by Alexandra Fuller, which was released in 2008 (i.e., this review is of a book that came out last year, not a review that I did last year). I am a fan of both of Fuller's previous books -- Scribbling the Cat and Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight -- that deal with the experiences of her childhood, namely of growing up White in southern Africa in what is now Zimbabwe. In fact, the almost complete departure from those books to her most recent is probably what took me so long to read The Legend of Colton H. Bryant.

If you are wondering to yourself, "hmm, have I ever heard of Colton H. Bryant? ...doesn't ring a bell," then don't despair, because you are not supposed to have heard of him. In fact, Bryant was a common working man that met an early demise (sorry for the spoiler, but you know it is coming, and it's probably better if you're ready for it anyway), and the book covers his life. To be perfectly honest, I am not sure what led Fuller to write about Bryant, as opposed to Jim the truck driver or Donna the waitress, but when you read the story, you'll understand that she did not take on the topic haphazardly or without understanding the real circumstances in the lives of those she writes about.

Having just read Jon Krakauer's new book about the life and death of Pat Tillman, I found an interesting contrast to Fuller's book. Krakauer covers the life of an American who already had fame and fortune, and eventually gave his life for his country in the war in Afghanistan. Bryant, on the contrary, was not famous, but I think that is what makes his story important. You may still wonder, what makes this story a "legend?" I don't know what Fuller would say, but in my viewpoint, I think the legend is that of the lifestyle of the American West, and more specifically, the roles of masculinity in that culture. Thus, Bryant's story is important because he is an "everyman," a humble man with dreams, who works for a meager existence and enjoys the small things in life. It is a story about a place where people still believe dreams can come true, but for one reason or another, most often because of poverty, many dreams are cut short. I was actually struck by this brief social commentary from Fuller:
It isn't just plain poverty--an ordinary lack of money--that keeps you on the wrong side of despair. It's a whole raft of poverties--a poverty of choice and a poverty of support and a poverty that comes with the certain knowledge that no one's going to take you seriously when you're invisibly decked out in an apron, working the night shift. (p. 112)
Given the relatively short length of the book, and the fact that it is quite a fast read, I won't give away too much more, but I will say that I found the book a very worthwhile story. On a personal note, it was also quite odd to know that the drilling company Bryant worked for is based in Snyder, TX, just 30 minutes or so from where I grew up. It is also sad to recognize how little of Patterson-UTI's profits make their way into the hands of those who risk the most. This book serves as yet another call to anyone who will listen that America's most dangerous jobs remain relatively unregulated in terms of workplace safety, and thus, we continue to lose disproportionate amounts of the young and poor who have no option but to turn to jobs like this. I don't think Fuller glamorizes Bryant beyond who he actually was, but it is so well written that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that his family and friends continue to live their lives just 3 1/2 short years since his death. Fuller's book serves to tell the American story that typically doesn't have the chance to be told - the story of workers with no sick leave and no benefits, little education and few chances of moving up the socioeconomic ladder. It is not a feel good story of the American Dream, but rather a story of real Americans choosing to live life to the fullest in spite of all that is against them.

(note: image from Alexandra Fuller's Web site)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A minute minute of minutiae

Why have the Beatles:
been so particular about handling distribution of their catalog all these years, and now all of the sudden they are selling the remastered albums at Starbucks and Whole Foods?

Thanks to a heads up text from Mt. Inadale
I got to check out Will Johnson playing drums for the Monsters of Folk on the Tonight Show. You can find video of it on hulu, but youtube says that the video isn't available in this country. Will will be touring with them this fall. And yes, I just said "Will will."

And thanks to Centro-matic's Web site:
I heard that Will Johnson, Jim James, and Anders Parker are doing a project a la Mermaid Avenue, in which they are arranging and recording songs using Woody Guthrie lyrics.

Remember when:
Jay Leno retired for 3 months and then started his old job again at an earlier time? Yeah, well, I liked it a lot better when he retired.

Lucero just announced:
that 1372 Overton Park can now be preordered for limited edition blue vinyl copies. PLUS, you get a download of the full album when you buy the vinyl.

For just $10:
you can hear one of Denver's new "buzz" bands, Young Coyotes at this Sunday's Larimer Lounge BBQ. Not a bad price - plus the BBQ is pretty good too.

I'm going to forgive:
the Avett Brothers for not sending my copy of their new album yet, when they've already released it to indie stores -- mostly because they are about the best band around right now, and also because they just released the video for the song "I and Love and You."

In case you were planning to go tonight

Since I recommended this, I thought I should pass along that the Elephant Engine High Dive Revival tour stop in Denver on 9/22 has been canceled due to sickness. Bummer.

some things

Completely missed:
a new book out by one of my favorite (fairly) young Texas writers - Oscar Casares. His new book Amigoland apparently came out last month, and I'm not sure Texas Monthly even reviewed it.

I had intended to write a full blog about this:
and I was also hoping to interview Buddy Wakefield, but he didn't have time for an email interview and I didn't have time for a phone interview. So oh well. Nonetheless, tonight in Denver, the Elephant Engine High Dive Revival tour makes a stop at the Crossroads Theater. Don't worry if you don't like slam poetry, this is nothing like that.

I can't deny
that I'm a little disappointed that preorders of the new Avett Brothers LP, bought directly through the band's site, have not yet arrived, while it's been available in indie record stores for over a week now.

If you still use myspace:
have you noticed that bands can now message you about upcoming shows? Yeah, it sucks and makes myspace even more useless.

Would it be cruel to name a kid "Wendy":
if your last name was "Saintsgomarchingin"?

If you are a fan:
of Justin Townes Earle, you can vote for him here in the Nashville Music Awards in the Best Music Video and Best Americana Album categories. Note: you have to vote in all the categories, some of which aren't very interesting, but it still doesn't take that long.

You don't have to agree:
but I think Brad Paisley's recent "Welcome to the Future" video may be one of the most important country music videos made this decade. Can't embed it, but it's linked here. The song itself is pretty good, probably not even his best, but the video makes up the difference. It's not only the content of it, but the recognition of who the audience is for country videos. For all the negative discourse that has been associated with country music, this is one of the more progressive videos made in country music to this point, especially considering the political climate right now.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thrift Store Cowboys, Amanda Shires tour western US

In a pairing that has been a long time coming, and which you got a little taste of at SXSW 2009, Thrift Store Cowboys and Amanda Shires are teaming up to tour the western U.S. It's been almost a year and a half since TSC has toured the west coast. Shires, meanwhile, has been on a never-ending tour of the South, the East Coast, and Europe with her touring partner and collaborator Rod Picott. In short, both were overdue to head west.

Shires will be touring in support of her fantastic sophomore release West Cross Timbers, and will perform most shows with members of TSC as her backing band. Thrift Store Cowboys, meanwhile, are touring in support of their recent 7" split with One Wolf, out earlier this year on Mt. Inadale Records.

And here are the dates. I've got my eyes on at least one, maybe two, CO dates:

Sept. 19 - The Percolator - El Paso, TX w/ The Lusitania and The Royalty
Sept. 20 - Plush - Tucson, AZ
Sept. 21 - Rhythm Room - Phoenix, AZ
Sept. 22 - Hotel Cafe - Los Angeles, CA
Sept. 23 - Redwood Bar - Los Angeles, CA
Sept. 24 - Pappy and Harriet's - Pioneertown, CA
Sept. 25 - Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA w/ The Radiators
Sept. 26 - Diablo's Downtown - Eugene, OR
Sept. 27 - Comet Tavern - Seattle, WA w/ Ryan Purcell and Honeybear
Sept. 29 - The Grind - Cedar City, UT
Sept. 30 - Steve's Guitar's - Carbondale, CO
Oct. 1 - Hi-Dive - Denver, CO w/ Rosewood Thieves and Dead Trees
Oct. 2 - Triple Nickel Tavern - Colorado Springs, CO

Always check with venues before traveling.

Jon Krakauer reading - 09/17/09

Sometimes there are great things about living in Boulder and sometimes there are terrible things about living in Boulder, and sometimes those things happen at the same time. Case in point was an appearance by author Jon Krakauer, reading from his new book Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, which was released this past Tuesday, 9/15. Clearly the great thing about this event that it was a reading by Boulder's own Jon Krakauer, an author whom I have great admiration for, but who doesn't do a ton of appearances anymore because he doesn't really have to if he doesn't want to.

The much much less great thing about this whole appearance was that the people that come out to something like this couldn't be more "Boulder." Denver and Fort Collins people know what I'm talking about already. An event like this really brings out the worst demographic in the city, at least in my estimation - the Boulder crazies, also known as your everyday Boulder resident. There's an excellent reason why there are no "Keep Boulder Weird" bumper stickers, and it is because the last normal people left a good 10 to 15 years ago. But I digress.

Krakauer's reading was good, although given that I had nearly finished the book by this time, the material wasn't new. However, recognizing many had already done this, he added a great deal of understanding to the context by providing pictures of the area in Afghanistan where Tillman was stationed, including the exact perch behind two long, but short boulders, where he was shot. Even with pictures, however, I'm convinced that a person cannot truly understand how undeveloped and tribal this part of the world really is. It's an area that exists completely absent of a national government, and I think that is something Westerners can't really comprehend by simply reading about it.

Following the reading, Krakauer was kind enough to spend a substantial amount of time answering questions, which ranged from ridiculous to actually pretty good. Through this Q&A, we were able to learn more about some the soldiers who were involved with Tillman in Afghanistan, as well as how Krakauer embedded with platoons there on more than one occasion to help him understand the situation. I think the crowd was most surprised that he had recently gone for a reading at West Point, especially given the fact that the book is quite critical of the handling of the U.S.'s two ongoing wars. However, Krakauer related that the cadets there are highly intelligent men who do not shy away from discussing difficult topics such as friendly fire and war policy. In his own words, he said (paraphrased) "West Point is truly an institution of higher learning; it's not like BYU." The most depressing part of the discussion was his assessment that, just like the Soviets in Afghanistan, there is truly no way to "win" this war, no matter what administration is in power.

The book signing session was really where the "Boulder" came out. It consisted of lots of people who considered themselves too white and upper class to wait in line, so they were the only ones who used the numbers on the backs of their tickets to cut in front of everyone else. Included among these people were those still wearing their bike shoes (yes, the ones that clip to the pedals), those whose clothes and hair are so trashy they couldn't be anything but Boulder rich, and those who were getting Krakauer to sign every single book of his they owned. I'm pretty sure some people may have even had him sign books that he didn't even write. Then there was the young hippie crowd, who mostly came through the line to have him sign their dog-eared paperback copies of Into the Wild. Did anyone else at this event get a death stare from the guy who had both arms in a sling? That was disturbing.

All in all, definitely a worthwhile event, but just unfortunate that so many normal Boulderites showed up. Having finished the book, I highly recommend it. Krakauer does not disappoint and thoroughly investigates every interesting direction that this story took. As clearly as he may have presented the story of Pat Tillman, he continues the fight to try to get the Army to release a number of details that they still have not answered for the Tillman family. While no more tragic than any other military death from these wars, the story of Tillman opens readers to a lot more information about the experience of the soldiers and the families that only a small percentage of Americans understand first hand. On a final note, Krakauer noted last night that he would match donations that night to Veterans Helping Veterans Now, a local organization that supports veterans as they return home and helps them with the various adjustments of returning to civilian life - an important thing for us to keep in mind. We unfortunately can't often affect the politics that surround war, but we can still support the people that suffer the worst consequences of those politics.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Yes, more random crap already...

I did finally find:
a place that was still selling the Grizzly Bear 7" featuring Michael MacDonald. Bleep.com is still selling it. Not sure why the band's and label's site are already sold out - either they are getting more copies or it's super limited edition.

Speaking of limited edition 7" vinyl that you probably don't care about:
Langhorne Slim recently released the Cinderella 7" on an Italian label called Wild Honey Records. Details can be found here. The ordering method is kind of new school old school, in that they don't have an online shopping cart, but you just paypal them the money and they (hopefully) send you the record. Old school old school would be you send them some cash in a card and (hopefully) they send you the record.

Is there any thing worse that could happen in Boulder:
than seeing 3 guys playing hacky sack outside of Starbucks?

Is there any thing better that could happen in Boulder:
than seeing 2 guys wipe out on their skateboards in the same day? (of course, with the stipulation that nothing was hurt other than their egos)

Pretty sweet:
that the Kanye West video for "Can't Tell Me Nothin'" featuring Zach Galifianakis and Will Oldham was featured as #30 in Pitchfork's Top 50 music videos of 2000-2009. Well deserved.

Why hadn't I heard about this?:
Michael Cera has a new movie coming out called Youth in Revolt (also featuring Zach G.), and to add to my surprise, "Timebomb" by the Old 97s is used the trailer.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I know I haven't posted much of substance here lately:
so I hope that the occasional music news post is enough for now. I've got some others in the works, but just haven't had a ton of time the last few weeks.

I can't believe it's already too late:
to buy the Grizzly Bear/Michael MacDonald collaboration on vinyl. This was announced right at a week ago and now the sites that sold it are saying it is sold out.

had the chance to see Visioneers. The quirkiness and darkness are what I was expecting. It is really funny that they are advertising it as "Zach Galifianakis from The Hangover," because the typical Hangover crowd is not going to like this movie at all. The movie is good, but like I said, it is very different. The only way I can describe the contrast between the Hangover/Visioneers, while not exactly the same, would be like Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber/The Cable Guy.

Getting increasingly excited:
about the new Langhorne Slim album later this month. After being so impressed with him at the UMS this summer, I definitely have a new appreciation for his music. He's actually playing Boulder tomorrow, but it is for E-town, which for my money isn't quite worth the trouble.

Some old friends from Dallas:
who are in a band called Macon Greyson, just released an EP for free download from their Web site. They tour mostly regionally, but in the past year, their most notable happening was having a song featured in the movie The Wrestler.

Is it just me:
or is Twitter getting boring and too spammed out? Maybe I just followed too many people early on, because now I look through my feed and nothing of interest really comes up.

The neverending tour:
that is Bob Dylan's life keep's going. He just announced more fall tour dates - I guess hitting some of the places the minor league ball park tour missed. Oh yeah, and he's putting out a Christmas album.

Tough day yesterday to live in Boulder:
CSU came to town and beat us 23-17, and then their fans rushed Folsom Field to celebrate right in the middle of it all. However, I don't hold that against them, given the crap all the drunken idiot 18 year-old Buff fans were yelling at them.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009