Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Josh Rouse - Brilliant, But Too Short a Show!

So I saw Josh Rouse at the Birchmere in Alexandria, VA recently on his “El Turista” tour, and it was actually his very first show with his new Spanish band. (Josh is living in Spain now) He apologized beforehand if anything wasn’t quite right, but noted that it was their very first show, so there was plenty of applause for that – a good thing to do, as the audience was then ready to cut them a break if need be. But, it was not needed, at least as far as the band goes – the band was very good overall, not perfect, but really great. The one thing we all did have a reason to complain about was the length of the show. One hour, maybe a minute over…shortest headline show I may have ever seen, I think. I was a bit disappointed at that, and as it was probably the 6th time I’ve seen Josh, I know his previous shows were not that short. However, there are additional mitigating circumstances. He and the band had just flown in from Europe the day before, and earlier the same day of the show, they had gone and played about 15 songs for XM/Sirius Radio studios in downtown D.C. Ouch. Josh even said that because of that, he wasn’t sure if he could hit all his notes. Regardless, I will go see him again, and call it an aberration – he is a great singer songwriter, and one of my all time favorites with what he’s put out in the last decade plus.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker

So, I just saw David Lowery's bands a couple of weeks ago. David Lowery has fronted two great bands, Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker and he's taken them both on tour this winter - rough night singing for both the opener and the closer! That's got to wear on your voice. However, the show was great and I couldn't tell a thing about the singing and I was listening! I had never seen Camper Van Beethoven, and they blew me and my friend Kenny away. The violinist, Jonathan Segal, was great and really adds an interesting aspect to the music. I didn't know they did so many Russian "polka style" instrumentals - they were great! It's been a long time since I've listened to them, and it was a great show. They played the obligatory classics, "Pictures of Matchstick Men" and "Take the Skinheads Bowling" - which got the crowd going.
Cracker was great too and really rocked - Johnny Hickman was wailing on guitar and they did a ton of their classics like "Low", "Get Off This", and Eurotrash Girl. However, I was missing songs from my favorite album "Gentleman's Blues". Now there is a kick-a$$ rock album all the way through. If you don't have it, get it and play it. That's rock and roll. But Cracker has a pretty extensive catalog and that album didn't chart so well, so that's what happens. Got to see a band on every tour if you want songs from every album.
Whew...I've got some work to do.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Allman Brothers and Widespread Panic

Working backwards now, one of the more recent shows that I saw was the Allman Brothers, for the second time this year, (first time at the Beacon in NYC) and Widespread Panic, for the first time ever, at Merriweather Post Pavilion. I have tried to see Widespread Panic about five times and it has fallen through every time for one reason or another. I have a particular irritation every time I think about a show I missed in 2000 where Widespread Panic and Moe both played full double sets. TWO FULL DOUBLE SETS. Anyway, at this show both W.P. and A.B. played full sets, so the show started early, and the "hippie" contingent was in full force - making it quite a different show from the last show I saw at Merriweather, Jane's Addiction and Nine Inch Nails. ...a little more anger at that show, but it was great to see Jane's.
Widespread Panic was absolutely awesome, doing "Southbound" and "I Walk on Gilded Splinters", but no "Airplane"; I was hoping for too much there. Warren Haynes from Gov't Mule, the Allman Brothers, and also the Dead nowadays, came out and played one song with them, and that was just unbelievable.
The Allman Brothers did a few classics such as One Way Out and Melissa, which was great to hear. Susan Tedeschi came out and played with them as well, as she's on the tour with Derek Trucks, her husband. She is phenomenal and a great blues singer guitarist in her own right. And when she's jamming with Derek and Warren at the same time, it is powerful. Though, also quite brilliant to hear her sing "Don't Think Twice" the Bob Dylan song, an aching reflection on a failed relationship...
The whole concert was fantastic and makes me vaguely understand why people consider having no job and just following jam bands around...
I like the one picture here where Jimmy Herring, Widespread Panic's current guitarist, is obviously enjoying Tedeschi's playing.

Monday, October 26, 2009


A bird actually came and built a nest and laid eggs on a ledge right outside a window where we have double doors upstairs. It's a space where we can build a deck, and are planning to do that at some point (soon!). So, one door does not open and that is where there is a small space, just large enough to build a nest where there is a small 6-inch wooden platform and wooden slats built up 4 feet high that protected the nest. It's actually an ideal spot, and the bird laid two sets of eggs.
Our cat Chloe, (yes, named after the Mother Love Bone song) discovered the birds fairly quickly. They drove her totally INSANE. At one point, captured here, she totally turned me as if to say, "Look, I've tried everything; and I know you can do something - can you please make something happen here?"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The WunderRadio App on the iPhone

So, I have an iPhone and the WunderRadio App is fantastic. It has links to so many different types of radio stations around the world and the organization is really great. It costs $6, a bit expensive for an app, but it's well worth it. It's based at least partially on RadioTime, which I've had for at least two years now and also love. I purchased that early which is good, as it's gone up in price. (Still, only $29 right now, and well worth it for it's recording capabilities and it's so easy to use.) RadioTime is sort of like Tivo for radio on the computer, but it's free if you don't want to record. Just the programming directory alone is incredible. All radio stations are organized by programs and they do a really great job of keeping up with programs and stations and you can email them when programs change (if they haven't caught it already) and they're usually very responsive. Check it out at http://radiotime.com/
But the WunderRadio app for the iPhone is separate and it aggregates so much, it's great, even XM, which surprised me, as they have a separate app for that on the iPhone (which XM charges monthly for, (damn them!;), but this circumvents it, very cool) and it has local radio (from anywhere in the world, which can be useful), tens of 1000's of stations by genre also from around the world - they boast 36,000 on their site right now (I can finally get WRNR on my iPhone, my favorite station out of Annapolis, MD - www.wrnr.com - Apple apparently has a problem with Flash, so I couldn't get it before - but WunderRadio links to the backend html, somehow) all these police, train and fire scanners, Internet archives with audio and video, and archive.org special links for Grateful Dead, Smashing Pumpkins, Blues Traveler, full concerts etc., video archives of old commercials, educational, classic cartoons, historical videos, (I just watched the Bikini Lagoon atomic bomb test explosion, the 4th ever A bomb with test animals put on ships with weird patchworks of coatings on them, to see how each coating would do against the nuclear burn, and old commercials from the 50s, crazy stuff). The historical videos alone it links to are amazing. Most are in archive.org but some are from other internet archives I believe. What's really cool about it is it displays "shows" or programs that are on at any given time, and what shows up in some of the genres can change depending on the time of day, from alternative rock to news to sports, all around the country. I can see if the World Cafe from WXPN (another favorite - www.wxpn.org/) is playing at anytime on any NPR station instantly...or any program anywhere. Obviously, I've been playing with it for a few hours. Fun stuff! And addictive!

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Tragically Hip at the 930 Club 11/19/09

My most recent concert, just this week, was seeing the Tragically Hip at the 930 Club in Washington, DC. Canadians are agog over eggnog to see the Hip in a venue as small as the 930 Club, as they sell out stadiums in Canada - and with good reason. The Hip belong in the upper echelon of the greatest rock bands on the planet. They weave between a wall of churning guitars, classic sounding rock built on power riffs from lead guitarist Rob Baker and rhythm guitarist Paul Langlois, and brilliant lyrics from lead singer Gordon Downie. However, it's all eyes on Gordon Downie, who is mesmerizing, climbing into the crowd, ranting to the audience and delivering a powerful performance, per usual. He is awesome and he is entertaining. The Hip's songs are brilliant, and their shows are not to be missed, yet for some reason, here in America, way too many people continue to miss them. For now, they remain Canada's treasure.
The Hip are a true rock show. While at the show my wife and I met some great Canadian people there who bought me a beer, I think mainly because I knew of some Canadian bands, including Triumph, Stars, and Broken Social Scene, and also because the woman was apologizing for screaming in my ear. I didn't mind.
I just heard “Trouble Me” from 10,000 Maniacs on my XM radio. That song takes me back to walking between barracks to get to my stepfather’s office in Heidelberg after high school when I lived in Germany. I bought Blind Man’s Zoo when it came out and used to listen to that one on my Walkman. Anybody my age that knew about 10,000 Maniacs and did not have a crush on Natalie Merchant back then was not paying attention. She was like this beautiful soulful goddess with a voice that was just too good to be true…When I was 18, the summer of ’88, we flew back to the States and visited my stepfather’s family in Jamestown, NY. Which just happened to be the hometown of 10,000 Maniacs. Blind Man’s Zoo and “Trouble Me” were on MTV and all over the airwaves at that point and I had no idea until I saw the banners everywhere in that little town celebrating 10,000 Maniacs’ success. Very cool. Memories and flashbacks built on powerful music from one's past is almost always a good thing.