Friday, November 19, 2010
As those of you who know me know, I am a completely delirious, unjustifiably ridiculous Bruce Springsteen fanatic. While Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt's muses may in fact be closer to God than anywhere I'll ever visit, Bruce Springsteen's rest in our unique earthly orbit, and musically and spiritually they permeate every single artistic thing I seem to believe in. I've seen him in concert something like 11 times. I would likely have seen him more times, but until I finally had the opportunity, he hadn't really toured in any capacity that I could attend since the '80's, when I was still a child, and hadn't really grown into him yet. The first time I saw him was when he did a 15 night stand at The Meadowlands in July/August 1999. I went 4 nights. 3 were in one week.
I've grown up some since then - meaning I spend less money on concert tickets - but I have been psyched like a teenager for this show since I got the call 2 weeks ago. Last night at the rehearsal, the reminder I'd set on my phone for the show - before I was even in the show - went off right as we were starting. Is this crazy? Sometimes you just have to remember the reasons you devoted your life to music, and surrender fully to the joy. Not surprisingly, the rehearsal itself last night was one of those moments! I was telling Kim right beforehand that I didn't know the last time I was as excited for a rehearsal. I love rehearsing with my band, it's very fulfilling and is always time well spent. You learn a lot, and you get better. But...I was practically as pumped for this rehearsal as I have been for the show itself tomorrow night. I slept for only two hours the night before (for other reasons), but went on pure adrenaline. I'm almost afraid I blew my load too early, and might not have another level to go to tomorrow night!
I guess its likely that won't be a problem. One of the other reasons I'm excited about this show, though, is it's a great hang, and a great opportunity. I got involved in this sort of thing back in Austin, too, with a bunch of guys called Will Taylor and Strings Attached. Through it, I met and started working with a whole new network of people. It opened up a lot for me, things that wouldn't have happened otherwise. A bunch of new friends, a bunch of new people in the audiences. I enjoyed everything in Austin more. Looking back, my last few years in Austin were definitely my happiest years in Austin - for a few reasons, obviously. That wasn't all of it, but it certainly contributed to the picture.
Anyway...needless to say, if you can come to the show this Saturday night at Mercy Lounge (March 20) - you should. 10% of the door goes to a selected local charity. The band is so spot on, and I feel practically every singer involved will be unleashing at least part of their inner teenage fist clenching, heart thumping, boundary breakin'....EARTH QUAKIN', HISTORY MAKIN'....er, self.
If you missed it, check out Bruce with The Roots on Jimmy Fallon, I've been buzzing on this performance for 2 days. What intensity. ?uestlove - Jesus, man! Sit through the 30 second commercial, it's worth it.
Also below is something from print the day after the show.
Backing Bruce Springsteen on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon Tuesday night was a near-surreal experience for The Roots drummer ?uestlove. "During rehearsal, when the producer said, 'Ladies and gentleman, 'Because The Night' with the Professor and Little Steven, here's Bruce Springsteen and The Roots' — I couldn't move," ?uestlove tells Rolling Stone. "And they were looking at me like, 'Okay count the song off.' And I was like, I said, 'Holy shit. I heard that.'"
He adds: "I mean, I've done some intense playing on our show, but that was the most intense playing I've ever done. He completely surpassed any expectation I've ever had for any mythical god of rock figure."
In a rare talk show appearance to promote the new Darkness on the Edge of Town box set, Springsteen chatted with Fallon on the couch about everything from his brother-in-law to the setbacks of new technology. Alongside The Roots and E Street band members Steven Van Zandt and keyboardist Roy Bittan, he ripped through five-minute takes of rockers "Because the Night" and "Save My Love" — and hilariously dressed up as himself circa 1975 for his own take on Willow Smith's "Whip My Hair."
Before the show, the band rehearsed for 90 minutes, running through "Because the Night" six times and "Save My Love" four times. "[Bruce] was just like, 'Hey, you do what you do,'" ?uestlove says. "'I don't want you to be Max Weinberg. I want you to be you.'"
But soon, during a take of "Because the Night," the drummer got found himself in one of Max Weinberg's familiar dilemmas. "Bruce and Little Steven were giving me the exact opposite instructions — It was kind of like good cop, bad cop," he says.
Check out the exclusive Rolling Stone Q&A with Springsteen
"There's a moment on the bridge where Bruce said, 'You got to watch Steven's body language. He will come over, bend his knees — that means to bring the dynamics down. Play to a whisper," he adds. "But then two seconds later during the song Springsteen's looking at me like, 'Yo man,' jumping up and down and Steven is like on his knees. My band's laughing at me because they know exactly, you know, the type of quagmire I'm in right now. One guy is telling me he wants to see blood drawn because he wants me to play real powerful and the other one wants me to bring it down a little bit."
He met them in the middle. But on TV, nothing was brought to a whisper. And just as Springsteen has been known to do in arenas, the band went over their allotted set time. "If you look at the last 20 seconds [of "Because the Night"], all of us are literally in a circle. It's like no one else is in that room except Little Steven, the Professor, Bruce, and all seven of my guys," says ?uestlove. "We're totally disregarding the minute mark and the deadline. I'm surprised they got it all on there 'cause Lord knows we went 32 bars over. We were supposed to end after the end of the bridge, but we just kept going. None of that stuff was expected — the guitar solo."
But "Whip My Hair" will be the moment fans remember the most — Springsteen decked out in his classic beard, sunglasses and leather jacket while Jimmy Fallon is dressed as a 1970-era Neil Young, duetting on Willow Smith's viral hit. It was Fallon's idea, but "[Bruce] was absolutely game for it, especially dressing up as his 1975 self," says ?uestlove.
He's silent for moment. "I just got a text from Jay-Z saying he's watching right now and it's incredible."
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Or can't you tell...
It was fun, we blasted Neon Knights all the way to the Grace Potter show we attended. Kudos to Grace and co, they did a great show, one that it turns out was their tour finale. They dressed up for hallowe'en, too:
The whole show had a 'sense of occasion' vibe about it, which made it special. Kim, as usual, put a bit more thought and planning into her costume, so consequently we were Dio and a much more badass ladybug.
Last night I was watching a thing on TV with some footage from one of the great rock performances of all times: The Who, at The Concert For New York City. It's something I've had on audio for years, but haven't seen since that night. This was one month after 9/11, and truly, as far as all time most memorable performances...I mean....Hendrix at Monterey, Dylan at Newport...whatever your poison, this is a performance to behold, and community at its finest. Everyone was happy for the first time in their new lives. Daltry, Entwistle, Zak Starkey were all on their A game, but Townsend - my god - he was possessed by something that night I don't know if I'll ever understand. I don't know if I've ever been as close to tears watching a man play guitar in my life - and this is 9 years removed from all the emotion of that time. Attacking his guitar like a goddamn F-11. You want to talk about the healing power of rock and roll, you need not look any further than this, and the faces of those heroes in attendance. There will never be another night quite like that, and there will never be another band like The Who.
And the thing that made me smile at the end, as it all came to a close, was looking down on the stage in front of Pete. 2 pedals. A cord going in, a cord connecting them, and a cord going to the amp. Woohoo!
For your viewing pleasure, here is the entire 4 song performance. I don't remember where it was in the running order of the night, but it is certainly the moment that no-one who saw it will ever forget.
Who Are You...
Behind Blue Eyes...
Won't Get Fooled Again...
Long live rock!
Friday, October 22, 2010
So there's that.
I did a 2 1/2 week job in Lexington, KY this past month, to help make ends meet. Er, actually...to create two ends, lengthen them, make them meet..the whole nine! It was...different...but had its ups, and I got to hear Lyle Lovett perform, which is always cool. And I listened to Jeff Buckley all the way up and back. Having not put him on in at least a couple of years, I taken by both how quickly I was thrust back into his landscapes, and also by the immense character he has in his silken voice - a character in my world usually reserved for gravelly throated old man troubadors (ie. 90% of my favorite singers). I have always been pissed off I did not have a more weathered sounding voice. I could just never commit to all the whiskey. I've always kind of felt like if you're trying to sing the truth, you've got to at least sound like you've put in the years making the mistakes required to even come close to understanding the subject. Howling Wolf, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan... even in their younger days, a raw and unrefined glory, letting you know they're really of the earth (well I can't speak for Wolf, I don't know if he ever was young).
Anyway, Jeff reminded me you don't have to sound old to be an old soul, you just have to believe the life you live. I miss Jeff and his music. He was gone right as he headed out of the gate, and it's everybody's loss. He was one of a kind. Like Wolf, Dylan, and the rest of them..
New DN music coming soon..
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Maybe it helped that the drive out there looks basically like this:
Also helping wasthe added serenity I experienced all the way out there, having discovered this newfangled invention - the audiobook. Ahhh. My ears aren't dead after 20 hrs of driving an old Volvo.
Oh, speaking of long drives, that reminds me - I haven't yet mentioned the end of my tenure with Natalie Stovall and her band. Yes, it's true. All things must come to and end, and my memories are fond. We're all friends, I have little doubt we'll all work together in varying capacities in the months ahead. Certain paths seem to cross for a reason. I wish them all the best.
Sadly though, while they've filled the hole left by my departure, I haven't quite filled the ones of my own resulting from...their going back out on the road! I kind of got ZP into that gig with me, and with Miguel I kind of stumbled into the good fortune of having him on for a few gigs and recording sessions. One good thing about sharing musicians with the other band is that when it's your break time, it's their break time, too. But alas, they're back out getting paid again, and I've got work to do. I'm not sweating it, but I will offer a shout out: ZP, Jefe - you're both unique talents, as well as special guys. It'll never be the same, but...22-25!
A few weeks ago, we had a great show at 3rd & Lindsley, and were graced with Natalie's presence for a song as well... Note her exceptionally awesome hair on this night!
So now I'm working with my booking agent on filling up my fall and winter, and plugging away with the recordings for an eventual new record. Kim has been sweeter than ever. I've been under the weather all week, and spent a lot of time at home with Alaska listening to the radio and playing cat toy hockey. All in all, it's good times.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Construction or not, though, I feel like Luke Skywalker when he's barreling down the Death Star corridor - needing to do what he needs to do and get the hell out (in his case blow up the Death Star and save the universe) - every time I pass a semi. You just never know, you try to get by them as quickly as you can, and occasionally they still flash their blinkers when you're about halfway up on them. Word - do they see me, are they blinking in anticipation, or are they about to go? I've had them start going on me in my little Volvo a couple of times over the years, and have to fend them off with the horn. Passing, I mean, not hanging out in their blind spot. But it's too terrifying, especially the part at the end when the air pocket sucks you up for that millisecond, and all you can do is ease through it and pray. No fun.
Relaxed driving used to be second nature to me, now it's going to take some time, I guess.
In short, the road used to feel something like this to me:
Now it's more like this:
The tie fighters are the semis. The semis, and those IQ 25'ers who slow down from 105 mph to tail you from two feet behind, because they want you to move. Even if the 4 cars in both lanes in front of you are going kinda slow, too (or if you're actually in the freakin' slow lane already). I swear, it's all I can do sometimes not to hit my brakes so they can slam into me and I can take their money.
That last line is a joke. I wouldn't do that, I'm just especially sensitive with aggressive drivers these days, knowing how easy it is for something terribly minor to go wrong, resulting in things very major. People should remember the immense mass, weight, and kinetic force of what they so callously weave and twist - sometimes push - throughout those lanes with. You ever accidentally bump a pole or something while backing into a parking spot? That's going at 3 MPH. Imagine swiping someone at 80.
Anyway, I'll get over it. It's part of the gig, I have to. And people think being a musician is all about making music...
Monday, July 26, 2010
Wednesday, July 28:
6 pm - Rose Falcon!
7 pm - Eric Paslay!
8 pm - DAVID NEWBOULD
9:30 pm - The Wooten Brothers!
It's the last show in town with my band for awhile. My band and I hope to have much work in the future. Wednesday night could be a step in that direction. I'm not gonna lie to you, world - it's been a tough month. I haven't had any work, we had the accident...things are at a standstill, and it's all we can do to keep our spirits up. Add to that, I think I've got carpel tunnel. Is it over? The other night I was looking at myself in the mirror - it looked like someone else looking at me, I expected him to start moving and talking to me. Not fun.
So that's what I look like?
Anyway, what it would mean to have a full room at 3rd & Lindsley, and for us to make you leave with joy in a rich heart, and a smile on your face...I can't tell you. Rose Falcon and Eric Paslay are two of my favorites (Rose and I are even friends! Proof below...), so I can tell you the night will not suck! The Wooten Brothers are the first show I took Kim to when she came to town, and they are like going to a clinic of funk, craftsmanship, and good times. Good shit! Their great saxophonist, Rudy Wooten, may he RIP.
This afternoon I spent taking my guitar in. After the accident, I was amazed that it escape seemingly unscathed. The low E string was a little flat, but that was it. Upon playing it more, I've discovered that (not-so-amazingly) it must have gotten a little bit affected, as it plays differently. I had just finally gotten it all repaired and playing right, too, so drag of a discovery.
A few shots of me and said guitar from over the years. We've had a good relationship.
Though she does seem to want me to close my eyes...
See you Wednesday.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
My shows were either canceled, or in some cases rescheduled for next month. Among the many fortunate upsides stemming from this otherwise completely UNfortunate incident, is the fact that Kim's mom lives only about an hour and a half from where this happened (I-10, just went of New Orleans). Kim was hospitalized overnight, I of course stayed with her, and the next day, her mom and stepfather took us back to their place, where we rested for two days. Then they performed the very charitable act of taking us back to Nashville. Thanks, Diane and Ernie! Oh, I forgot to mention: our minivan (purchased specifically for touring once my Natalie Stovall days ended) was totaled. I signed it over to the junkyard. That's a weird feeling. I was still in the process of registering it in Tennessee (it had been registered in Texas, where I bought it in January), so hadn't yet insured it with a new TN based insurance company, and hadn't bothered to upgrade beyond basic liability the coverage with what was soon to be my old insurance company. So...no replacement coverage. Goodbye minivan, goodbye second vehicle that allowed Kim to get to work and around town when I'm away. Give us 6 - 12 months, maybe we'll be able to afford something again. Really though, I can't tell you all the things I've learned from this accident. Maybe that's a good thing. Kim and I are still here, and as always, it just means more digging, more prioritizing, and hopefully, onward and upward. We have much to be thankful for...even if it originates from something to be kinda pissed about.
This is the more friendly of two photos I took at the scene. The other one shows more graphically how the back of the car wraps around the tree. That photo kind of scares me, and I don't really want to put it up.
This is maybe my favorite picture - holding hands in our matching hospital bracelets.
2 weeks later, we got our his and hers matching hospital bills in the mail. Not as romantic a moment.
After all of this, though, I have to say the most puzzling aspect is how little things have changed at all. I mean, for a week or so I had this notion that I was going to do things differently, slow down, not let the little things in life bother me, etc. etc. But soon I became just as frenetic, scatterbrained, and disorganized as always. The only thing different is, well, I'm more cautious than ever when driving now, and I seem to have developed this numbness inducing fear of rain and wetness when on the road (go figure). Other than that, though...nothing different. Damn. I guess drastic change is really a byproduct of how serious the incident of inducement is, and luckily, it really wasn't as serious as it easily could have been. One thing that got to me, though, was when I got the police report in the mail the other day, and saw that the cop filled in my condition (as the driver of the vehicle) as "inattentive". Really? One of the most emotional moments of my life, my poor girlfriend is moaning on her back, as they're trying to somehow dig her out of the car...I'm as fixated on my love for her, and what I should do, as I ever have been...and somehow I still come off to the world as "inattentive". Do you ever advance past 3rd grade? I mean, I'd just slammed into a tree and almost killed us, but still...
Anyway, I'm choosing to end this with something happy and lighthearted, so here is something emblematic of a much happier, simpler time...in all our lives (cue soothing music). I give you scenes from the greatest sitcom of all time - Welcome Back, Kotter!
My dear late Aunt Marie introduced me to this great show when I was 4. You can thank her.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Us at the end of the day.
Last night we played 3rd & Lindsley here in Nashville, with Sarah Darling. Everyone was very solid, and we finished with Good Golly Miss Molly. If a song's lasted 70 years or so, you know there's something right about it! Miguel, charged up by his home nations Chile's World Cup victory again Switzerland that day, was particularly on fire with his instrument. iViva Chile!
Looking forward to my Texas/NM solo tour in 10 days. Peace out.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Monday, May 31, 2010
In the coming weeks, I'm starting work on my new album.
How about this blogging? In truth, I think it's a great idea, and when I'm inspired, I love to extrapolate what's inside of me and see if it serves as any sort of entertainment, inspiration, comic relief, etc... But as someone who tends to put my heart and soul into whatever I'm expressing...sometimes we get a goose egg.
Here's Natalie taking over the drums for awhile.
Here's one - have you heard Grace Potter And The Nocturnals? We all piled into the band house last night at about 3 am, turned on the TV, and this concert was on. We all sat there completely blown away by this girl and her band. Being very alive and extroverted music, I kept waiting for the part when it becomes annoying and something starts to stick out and bother me, but it never happened. It was like...if Nick Cave and the 70's version of the brunette in Heart had a baby...that would be this girl. And the band was like The Bad Seeds. The drummer looks like the singer from Three Dog Night. Grace Potter played B3 for the first 3 songs we saw, then she started rocking out on the guitar. The tunes were great. What can I say? I became a fan on facebook.
Here's something, though it's not from the concert we saw. It said at the end it was a PAID infomercial on GAC. Imagine that? Her label bought time at 3 in the morning to air her concert. That's amazing, I'm very impressed.
I'm looking into more, already pre-ordered her new album.
Just for kicks, here's some Nick Cave (I can't find any of the Abbatoir Blues live DVD on YouTube, but I highly recommend it):
Alright then - that's it for now! More coming soon...
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Over the weekend, I got together with Ben Strano and played him all the songs I have in mind for the new album we're going to start next month. We had a very good meeting, discussed the songs, and I'm looking forward to the work we're going to do. I believe in this batch of songs, and I'm excited about making this record. Er, CD. Er...series of downloadable tracks? Whatever!
So to take me off my high of last night's show, today I got rear ended on I-65. In my car! God, you people are just.... Anyway, I'm driving down the highway, and suddenly these green and purple buckets fly out of the back of the truck about 8-10 car lengths in front of me. I wasn't on LSD, some person just didn't have them secured into his truck. I had just come onto 65 from I-40, and wasn't yet sure if the lanes to either side of me were open, so I just slowed down to avoid hitting these stupid buckets - they were big, like trash cans, could maybe have capsized my Sienna if I'd hit them at full speed. So I'm slowing down and WHAM - this truck behind me hit me as he was trying to slow down. Fuck. So now we both pull over, and I'm in a state of shock, like LT had just run me over trying to chase down a 16 year old cheeleader. And the guys from this truck are not even making eye contact with me, they seem pissed, like I had just randomly slowed down in front of them so they could hit me. The driver was OK, we exchanged insurance information. Then this woman pulls around and goes right up to them and tells them she saw the whole thing and they could use her as a witness. And SHE'S not making eye contact with me, either. Like I did something! And I'm in a daze and saw just a small dent on the rear of my ride, and the driver says listen, I'm OK with all this if you are, I don't even care, it's my bosses truck, are you OK? And I just looked at it all and said yeah, the damage seems minimal on both ends, I could care less about a dent and frankly I think it's the bucket truck's fault (who never even stopped, by the way), let's just get each others' info.
This was incredibly stupid on my part. I looked under the car afterwards, and the protective frame behind the back bumper is dented, too. And it did not even enter into my mind to call a cop, file an accident report. I didn't think about it and decide not to do it, I just didn't even think about it. A) I've never been involved in a collision before, so didn't really know the protocol. B) I found out afterwards that no matter what the cause, if somebody runs into you, they're responsible for having not been far enough behind to avoid the collision. No wonder the driver was being nice. All these years, all you think you've learned, but when something new happens, you still just stand there like an idiot. I called the non emergency police and they said you can't file a report with them once you've left the scene, you can only do it online, and things are much less smooth. I took it to a garage to have looked at, and don't think the damage is much more than cosmetic. At least that's what the mechanic - not a body guy, mind you - guessed, from looking underneath. But it's hard to tell. Going to fill that thing out, will keep you updated, if anyone's interested.
All this was on my way to have my guitar looked at to see how much its way overdue repairs are going to cost. I confess that my appointment there was still in the back of my mind at the side of the road! The good news is...it's not going to cost nearly what I was afraid it was. It was a day I've been fearing for weeks, months really.
So...an eventful day, an eventful week. I hope I didn't screw myself out of still having a smoothly functional vehicle with my stupidity.....but it wouldn't be the first time I screwed myself out of something with my stupidity.
Kim and I are going to Miguel's tonight - Wednesday - to have dinner and meet his new daughter, Sol. So awesome. Then I'm playing a solo set at The Buganut Pig in Franklin (a duo, actually - Miguel is going to sit in). Anyone in Nashville/Franklin, you should come out. 10 pm!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
More pressing, we had 3 days off and went down to New York City to kill the time. Well, we killed it. I feel like I must have walked 85 miles in those 3 days. The first night we got in around 6, and Panther and I felt like going out, so I led him around on what I have to say was a pretty epic night for his first time in New York City. Well, first...we stayed at James' mom's place, which is an unbelievable little condominium at 43rd & 2nd - 28th floor with a panoramic view of midtown manhatten, the east river, and my old neighborhood of Long Island City, Queens. James' mom is very kind and sweet, and let us stay with them while her husband was in the hospital undergoing some very serious surgery. We hardly saw her - she spent all her days there tending to him, but I'm happy to report that as of our leaving town, his health was very stable and he was slated for release Tuesday or Wednesday.
Anyway, Zach and I started by walking past Sparks Steakhouse, which I told him was where John Gotti had Paul Castellano gunned down in order to consolidate his power in the Gambino crime family. A classic New York tale if there ever was one. We then walked northwestwarly up to 59th St. By that point it was getting dark, so we walked through Central Park, eventually getting kind of lost trying to find out exit on the west side. Not the best predicament to be in if you're in 1983, but hey, we're post Giuliani-Time, it's on! So we walked all the way up to McAleer's, and not one of my old alcoholics was there. So sad... My buddy Driss in the kitchen was working though, and eventually I even got to break up a fight outside. Was like old times! We had a few rounds and headed down to Bleeker St to get pizza, then headed over to this bar Sway that my friend Altogether Steve was bartending at (at one point in my life I had worked there, too). Steve hooked us up, and we stumbled out of there like...well like you'd notice us on a galloping horse. (see Natalie's Blog)
The we decided we weren't done, so we hit the bodega and grabbed a couple each for the road, and ended up sitting in Washington Square Park at about 4 am - completely alone - trying to open, then drinking, our imports. I tried to explain how David Lee Roth had got busted for buying pot there on a night just like this. Finally we hit another store, headed to Union Square for the subway, and eventually made our way back. Except now the sun was coming up, so we couldn't just ignore it, we had to go sit on the banks of the east river and watch it fight its way through the clouds as we stared at Queens. Throw in The Baseball Furies and a DJ with bright red lips, and we basically had a mini version of "The Warriors" on ZP's first night.
"You Warriors are good. Real good"
The rest of the weekend was a blur of walking, eating pizza, watching jazz, watching rock and roll, meeting up with old friends...including a wonderful ex-girlfriend Denise, who wouldn't speak of me for 10 years and who I hadn't seen in 12. She now goes out with my friend Rob, and it was the first time the three of us were together since I used to date her and he was the wheel. It was also the first time since before anyone thought about Y2K and the computers. It was an excellent reunion, though, and would certainly not have been as special if we hadn't have gone thought so much to get to it. Thanks, Denise!
So now we're in Lima, Peru, er....Lima, Ohio, where in 5 hours we get up for our final gig with Matt, and indeed our final gig for awhile. I'll miss the shows, but I'll enjoy the sleep. Not to mention Kim and Alaska.
Oh, and the last morning, I went to my favorite Indian grocery store and bought all the primaries for the ridiculous Indian curry I used to make all the time. Ridiculous because it's so freaking blow-your-head-off hot...and good! Kim's excited and is inviting some friends over, but I told her to warm them I'm not pussifying it up just to appease any children..
Thursday, May 6, 2010
We weren't going to have such a marathon drive to Syracuse, but we couldn't leave Nashville because of the floods, and had to postpone a show and hang out for a couple of days (which in truth was a very nice respite). Well actually...we could leave Nashville, but our new guitar player couldn't leave his neighborhood to get to us. That sucks. All of us were very fortunate. On our block, it was just a rather rainy day. A few blocks over, very different story. I'm sure you've all seen the pictures.
The biggest test this leg is postponing out West Wing obsession. We're in the middle of season 6, heading into the home stretch, and now Leo, Josh Lyman, poor old Toby Ziegler, Donna, and of course Mr. President Bartlett, they're all going to have to wait for a month or so to be part of our lives again. Hard! But they're always close in our hearts.
Somehow, we lucked into 4 days off between shows in upstate NY, so we're going to head down to the city for a few days. Wasn't I just writing recently about my need to get back there and connect with my 20's roots? McAleer's and my old day alcoholics? What a treat. I've connected with a few old friends to hang out with while I'm there as well.
We did watch a Triumph The Insult Comic Dog DVD yesterday. I can't find the clip of Triumph at the Bon Jovi concert online, I wish I could, it is hysterical. "So, Jon Bon Jovi, I hear you are starring in a new vampire movie. Finally a role that requires you to suck!" I did find a reel of the outtakes:
That's all for now.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Yet sadly, Austin, at the same time I was always bitter that your music community never accepted me as I'd hoped. Your musicians certainly came to do so, even some of your club promoters who I spent all that time coveting. But your masses - the ones who enable a musician to truly succeed in Austin - where were you? Your booking agents, your small record labels. Your papers, your radios, your residencies. I had certain writers and DJ's in your ranks who were always very into what I had. But I never made your playlists, your year end recommendations. No-one ever said, "This guy stayed in Austin because he loved it, look at all the great music he's sharing with us. Look at all the great musicians we have who speak for him." And don't even talk to me about SXSW. I gave you everything I had Austin, and yet I had to leave. I never wanted to. While I love you with all of it, you kind of broke my heart.
It's OK though, Austin. I'm in a city with more opportunity, with more irons and more fires. And I think you like people who return because they couldn't stand being away. I'm going to show you, Austin. I'm going to make the best record of my life this year. I'm going to capitalize on the fans I'm making across the country. I'm working as hard or harder as I worked there. And one day I will be back, Austin. I love you too much. It's as simple as that. Just don't break my heart twice. I don't think I could take it a second time.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
This is a tough one, because it's been a week or so, and I'm trying to put together an insightful and entertaining blog, yet the TV in here is blaring pridefighting championships, which is somewhere between pro wrestling and UFC. Entertaining yes. Major testosterone - uh yeah? Mental stimulant...not so much.
What I can say is that I'm getting more comfortable in my opening slot, as we've been doing them almost every day. And as a result - I'm in great command, and selling some CD's again. I had started thinking I was going to have to start paying people out here to buy them (you know, like Universal or Capitol often do...).
Here's a good picture of James and Miguel not learning from my lesson, and also my beloved Kim sent me a picture of herself and our dear Alaska. Sorry for forcing you to indulge me. We're both so in love with our cat, it's ridiculous.
Oh - Nashville! My band and I are playing 3rd & Lindsley Monday May 17, along with Kalisa Ewing, and the exquisite Rose Falcon (of Sowing Circle fame). I want to see you out there, I'm not on Nashville stages much these days. The band is ready again!
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Where we were in downtown Atlanta looks and feels a lot like lower Manhatten, and it got me a bit nostalgic for the place, which I think we're returning to sometime this year. Not the parts where I worked all those awful jobs, running my career and band up against a wall, etc. etc, but more the shot of relevenace I felt my life needed, that it ultimately received in living there. Maybe it makes no sense now as an adult, but at 19 it seemed to mean everything to me.
Mostly, what I miss us...not when I knew that I lived in the same neighbohood as Iggy Pop, or that I was hustling gigs at the same venues that Neil Young and Bob Dylan did 30 years prior, or even the feeling from having an A&R rep from Atlantic call me up to talk about possibilities (that went nowhere). No, the thing I miss most is the one thing I couldn't wait to get away from - the bar I spent 4 years working in - as cook, doorman, and finally day bartender. The professional alcoholics I ran with there were very seasoned New Yorkers, seasoned livers of life, and ultimately seasoned cohorts - though I ultimately did quit so as to avoid joining their ranks as professional day alcoholic. In a strange, strange way, there is something comforting about being in the presence of people on such a serious regimen of acceptance. I spend my whole life accepting nothing. Here was true resignation to the accumulation of certain harsh realities, because let's face it, not everyone makes it to the 26th mile. I find myself writing about this theme a lot, the first one was Dakota, and that's why it's still one of my favorite songs. My old apartment looked out over the exact halfway point of the NYC marathon. While I always slept through the frontrunners, I managed to wake up in time to watch and admire the stragglers who gave up on their initial goals, and found some salvation in just being there, having given something. I admired it because I know that they slept well that night. So, too, did my distinguished acquaintences at McAleer's Pub on Amsterdam Ave. I often feel like I walked into tha bar knowing nothing about life, and finally ran out knowing everything I'll ever need to. I miss it, I miss those people, and I look forward to going back.I haven't been back in years, though the owner was kind enough to donate generously to the funding of my live CD/DVD last year.
P.S. download HERE (or just go comment)!!:
I miss discovering that harsh reality for the first time - acceptance, dreams broken, pride in resignation - and the boost and reinforcement it ultimately helped feed to my ambitions (like they needed it). Without that, I might well have given up by now, who knows?
Life is all cycles. You have to stay on the fucking bike and just pedal.
Here are some pictures, including a great one of Miguel that illustrates his dedication to his van DVD remote obligations:
This is a magician who was outside our gig in Hot 'Lanta yesterday. I don't remember his name, but his hands shook a lot. The rabbit was really sweet, you could pet him and everything.
Chattanooga was tonight, Marietta, Georgia tomorrow.
Monday, April 12, 2010
One weird thing is...what has happened to the names of bathroom things? When I tour alone, I stay in Motel 6's, Super 8's, or my car, where they don't label things like soap (or in some cases don't have any). These people I'm out with, though, have class, so we stay in actual nice places - Holiday Inn Express, etc... And instead of "soap", or "shampoo", these things are called "Cleanse", or "Face Bar". "Face Bar"? Now that would be a nasty place. I'm quite political, biased even, but for the life of me I can't find the logic where "soap" has somehow developed into a socially incorrect word?
Anyway, who cares, here are some pictures:
Thursday, April 8, 2010
We bared several gruelling elements yesterday, such as excessive heat, humidity, and the knowledge that we were packing up afterwards and driving for 7 hrs - all the standard spring/summer elements for college touring - all to play for a good sized crowd that also ended up being the worst crowd of the year, hands down. Since we're all mature adults here, I won't say where this college was. Let's just say we were stuck there with the Memphis blues. Again. After my second song, there was one guy clapping (as well as the band - thanks band!), so naturally I was thinking, well, I guess I'm sucking tonight. Fair enough, but then Natalie came up and we roared into our set, and by the end of the second song...same thing - same aural tumbleweed. It reminded me of several years ago in Waco. I thought, is it possible that we're both sucking big tonight? No, thank god, it turned out the crowd just sucked. Lame, just sitting there stuffing their faces on crawfish and gumbo, talking to each other, occasionally calling out Freebird. I guess this event was open to all the fraternity houses.
Even still, though, there always seems to at least be one guy, one person to pick you up and make you feel better, without even really knowing that they're doing so. I forget his name, but he came up at break telling us how much he was loving the show. He asked if I wrote those songs I sung, told me how much he liked them, and that he wrote songs himself. Then he told Natalie how much he was liking her stuff and our band. So thanks buddy, whoever you are. You made our night.
We have 30 shows in 30 days, so I'll have plenty to write about. We got some great pics from some recent shows, but I can't upload them from my phone, so will have to do it next blog...
Friday, April 2, 2010
I don't know why I drink and tackle, other than that I guess somebody has to do it. It's only when I get past a certain point - in this case involving bartenders at the end of the night offering to hook us up with rounds of white russians and "extra" shots and such (in addition to whatever we'd been steadily pacing ourselves with all night). And only when I'm surrounded by a bunch of guys who are all bigger than me, and probably not in the mood for being tackled. Generally, this stuff happens when you're away from home for too long.
The show was fun, though. This club is massive, this Toby Keith bar. Apparently it should be a lot more hopping tonight, since it's a Friday. It felt...too big last night.
I don't really have anything too deep and profound to say this morning other than "Ow".
Here's something from something we did somewhere, maybe a week ago:
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
There is a slight frosty chill, the sun is very up, no wind, it reminds me a bit of Fredericton, NB, Canada of all places...in May. I don't know why I choose to skip morning so often, but this is very nice. Maybe it's time for a lifestyle change.
As my good friend Sandy Fleming would say... yeah, right!!
There's a new song I've started playing, another drop D one, called Magic And Loss. I am scrounging to find time as a songwriter these days, but it does make the little breakthroughs count.
It's not far off
My friend, from what you thought
Batten down the hatches
Your dreams will get caught
They might find you dead, dead
You can walk through this world
But when it's over
Magic and loss
Magic and loss
Old Mr. Garrett's son
He knew everyone he felt he had to
To make a run
In the morning - only the sun, only the sun
You and all the people you rely on
When it's over
Magic and loss
Magic and loss
Lord it ain't over
When it comes to pass
That everything you believe in
Slips into peaceful rest
Until there's nothing
You can walk through this world
When it's over
Magic and loss
Magic and loss
Magic and loss
I read Slash's book over the last few days, which was cool. Miguel was kind enough to bring it along. Then I decided to visit the "Guns N' Roses" website to read W. Axl's views on things. My god - am I glad I don't have to live in that guy's head! Talk about paranoid incoherant ramblings, it's like reading the Unibomber or Nixon or some shit. Here:
Anyway, that's all from here. Talk to you after Flint.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
We went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last week in Cleveland. Like many of you, I'm sure, I've always had mixed feelings about institutions like that. After all, Rock and Roll's origins are of being the quintessential art for the outsider. It's supposed to be, you know, rebellious. No-one's parents want them to pick up a guitar and sacrifice their life for rock and roll. In fact, they hate it. If you're a loser in elementary school, if you're unpopular in high school, if you can't get your shit together and are filled with anger...you turn to rock and roll. If you plant hidden cameras in women's bathrooms, marry your 13 year old cousin, and are still hopelessly addicted to titty bars at age 60...you're Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Lemmy. If someone poisons your whisky for having seduced the wrong socialite's wife - you're the King Of The Blues, Robert Johnson. If you can't orally put a cohesive sentence together but have other talents - you're Eddie Van Halen, one of the most inventive and exciting guitarists of all time. So suffice to say, the idea of making this into some sort of formal club that tourists can pay money to go "visit"... is very odd to me, to say the least.
On the other hand...I was frozen and speechless on at least 10 occasions staring at iconic artifacts from my life. Not just their lives - but my life. And I think that's where the power of rock and roll, and of unspeakably forward moving music and art in general, breaks through whatever boundaries others may instill upon it. I was staring at things that actually formed the foundation of who I was, who I became, and who I am. Gifts. I can tell you I never expected it, but I was moved to tears on several occasions, staring at the old crusty page in a notebook that In My Life was written, or Badlands, or Stolen Car...or Joe Strummer's beat up tele, the weapon with which he bled and attacked the world, forever improving it. They were like daggers with a line on my soul, and I had to collect myself. You can never view these people's hearts, but you stand in front of the next best thing - the vehicles through which they gave us their hearts - and it affects you. Or it affected me, at least. And I have to say, at the end of the day, it was very awesome, and personal. And I suppose if you think about it - art museums in general are the same in principle, so why single out this one? Van Gogh, Picasso - these people did not exactly lead institutionalized lives. Most people who push society forward and break barriers come from a very remote social fringe. I suppose the true artist makes the sacrifices, and the ones who go on more normal paths prop them up. They don't make museums for insurance adjusters.
One last word on that: the reason we went...is because we found out that if you are a working musician, and can bring in a CD to prove it, they let you in free - which is quite a gesture. After all, if you take those people and subtract the success and great fortune...you have us.
Anyway, enough on that. We have our own art to make, and our own struggles to persevere through. Me - I just want to matter, it's the same thing I've wanted since I was 9 years old. I think it's the same thing that drives everyone who is too stubborn to let go. This is what separates the Pete Townshends of the world from the Rod Stewarts. I don't know if there's ever a point where this recedes its hold on the wheel and lets something else drive. It sure is an internal battle I've been waging for many, many years. I suppose it's better than heroin, at least. Rock and roll musicians: overly complicated people with overly simple needs.
One difference in being out on the road with someone's band, as opposed to being out solo, is you get little solitude. When I'm out on my own, all I have is solitude - probably too much solitude! Yet solitude's always fed me. I'm fortunate that I enjoy everybody's company, and as always, life is about adapting, and maximizing the upsides, of which there are a great many (being paid to rock with friends being the obvious big winner). We're in the midst of a rather deep 2 month stretch of work, with one day home over a 6 or 7 week period. I'm learning how to take advantage of our off time, though, to write, listen to the music that enriches me, and and keep myself feeling like me. It's harder to connect with those things in some stretches, but even in this first few months of touring with this band, I've discovered - as I've always known my whole life - that's it's always there waiting for you if you reach out and extand a hand.
Here's something to help cleanse your soul on days both dark and bright:
We all got holes to fill
Them holes are all that's real
Some fall on you like a storm
Sometimes you dig your own
But choice is yours to make
And time is yours to take
Some dive into the sea
Some toil upon the stone
To live is to fly
Low and high,
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eyes
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the tears out of your eyes
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sunday, March 21, 2010
We got back out on the road yesterday after a week off. My week was essentially great - I worked on some songs, recorded a bit, spent time at home, decompressed from the caravan, became myself again. Best of all, I'm nowhere near SXSW! The whole thing should last a little while - I'm hoping at least until Sunday.
A funny thing: you think of musicians as space cadets, and many of them are. Well I certainly am. But they're not all, not at all! And I propose that you can likely bring it down to two categories of musician mentality: frontpeople and sidepeople. And being a frontman playing a sideman, I'm somewhat lost. I'm not talking about onstage mentality - needing the spotlight or whatever. I'm just talking about having your shit together when it comes to normal things - gear, ability to be on time...things like that! It's amazing, but musicians are actually rather responsible people within the confines of their careers. It's intimidating. If you're a responsible guitar or bass player, you do need to be able to play, but you also need to have good gear, know how to be on time, maybe have a GPS, things like that. If you're a space cadet frontman-type, you have one guitar...two tops...you run around like a fire drill to get anywhere on time. You struggle to remember lyrics, nevermind things like where you need to be, how much sleep you need, etc. Truthfully, no-one really expects anything better out of you. At first maybe, but they learn. And it's not because of those things...it's just how it is. I think most musicians start out like this, which is part of why the freedom of rock is so appealing. But slowly as you find out what it takes to be hired, or advance in your career, you grudgingly become an adult. You ever notice how guitar players can usually actually tell you all about impedences and ohms, or where to roll some EQ to make the room sound better? It's impressive. It's impressive to me. I play guitar. I know where to turn the volume up. Natalie's a bit odd in this regard, as she's responsible and has her shit together. You should see her pedal rack! But maybe you can chalk this up to her having trained for many years on a sophisticated instrument...and possibly her having actually finished college. Plus, her parents are still together. She's just got her shit together, I can't explain it. I'm working on it.
Anyway, so this trip we've had two calls, and with creative planning and dedication, I've been on time for both. I also got an A/B switch for my rig, and the rat's nest is minimalized. I'm hoping my personality doesn't completely melt away, but I am going to experiment a bit with being an adult.
Above is part 1 of James' tour diary from the last leg...starring - clearly - the "old" me (stop laughing, old friends!)
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I'm not giving up. I wish I could, but I can't.
Alaska at home, jumping after her ball
Saturday, March 13, 2010
We opened for this guy Justin Moore, who I'm told has a couple of songs on country radio. More importantly though, Justin has a manifesto. He's from the backwoods. He's from Smalltown, USA. Born and raised. In the middle of his set, he threw it down: "I'm a small town country boy...I'm a proud card carrying member of the NRA...I like Bud Lite, Jack, and Sweet Tea!". Whoooo!
But it was a party. And one of the reasons was...Justin Moore has a lot of fans. And aside from hard work and having well done, proper singles aimed towards a specific demographic, some of it surely has to do with his having a clear, concise message for that demographic. Natalie's got one, too: Peace, Love, Fiddle! That rocks pretty good.
But I don't know what would I say in place of, "Chicago - I like Bud Lite, Jack, and Sweet Tea".
"Chicago!! - If you're keeping your 6 pack under $5.50, drink Milwaukee's Best or PBR - cheaper and better than Bud Lite! Jameson's is way nicer than Jack, it just isn't from Tennessee, and Sweet Tea - who needs all that sugar?"
"Peace! Love! Fiddle!"?
"Debate! Camaraderie! Rock And Roll...though a slightly folkier and wordier brand if you're listening to me!"
I guess there's something to be said for a manifesto or motto. This goes as far back as the MC5 in rock and roll (even Jerry Lee Lewis - "Marry your cousin - have a good time!"). I just like to rock...and sing and talk. Maybe that's a credo that can reach the masses. My brain's just too sprawling and rambling to put anything else together, I don't have the sense or the discipline for it. People go to school for that. Justin Moore's people knew who they were, knew who he was, they could all identify...it was all laid out. And he was good at it (don't get me wrong). He can sing, has good songs, the band was tight, they all brought the energy. I'm told they've been touring clubs for several years. So good show all around, he's obviously doing the right thing.
We in the band all had a great time. The club treated us unbelievably well. Natalie's folks, James' mom, ZP's mom all came. Everyone was very gracious. Here are some pictures, and soon I'll post some video, when James and ZP get theirs uploaded off their fancy-ass camera gadgets (I want one!). The photos are from Chicago Now. Thanks, Chicago Now!
Rock and Roll (though slightly folkier...)!
James rocking it like an animal
Peace, Love, Fiddle!
Us stealing Justin's crowd for awhile, before he took them back
All smiles afterwards
"Bud Lite, Jack...and sweet tea!"