16 December 2009

high school students at the book store

I'm not naming names on this one.

So. I volunteer to help at the high school fund raiser at a local bookstore. The kids perform music by the coffee shop while we parents of young musicians stand several feet from the front door with plates of cookies and a carafe of coffee hoping to lure shoppers close enough to tell them to please mention the school at the counter when they check out so the high school music program can grab a cut of the purchase they were gonna make anyways. It's a pretty ok fund raiser, as far as those things go. It beats bingo and chocolate bars anyday. Nonetheless, with my rapidly growing anxiety condition, I am really dreading the whole thing.

Past a couple saxophone players outside the door, belting out some jazzy holiday tunes, I walk into the book store and stop in my tracks as I catch an unexpectedly familiar tune. So unexpected, it takes me a minute to place what I am hearing. Some kid is strumming away on the guitar belting out a respectable rendition of Neutral Milk Hotel's "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" and segues right into an Elliott Smith cover. I'm stunned. What sort of 2009 teenager is into such stuff? I walk over and take a look at some boy in a hoodie and jeans playing away. I am heartened and hopeful. I pass out little flyers to potential book buyers with an all right feeling. Even the other mothers talking about ski vacations can't bring me down.

There's always more of "us" out there. Young and aging outsiders like me. And you.

17 October 2009

Record Store Performances for Local Shakedown Vol. 3

Despite the fact that a record store is not typically designed to comfortably handle a live performance and the crowd that comes along with such an event, I love a record store performances. Recorded music and live music are different worlds, in a common universe of course, but I dig it.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow three great local record stores host performances from some great local bands to celebrate the release of Radio 1190's Local Shakedown Compilation Volume 3 out yesterday on Smooch Records. My review of the cd can be found on The Donnybrook Writing Academy.

Details of the record and its release can be found at the Radio 1190 website.


The Local Shakedown Vol. 3 CD was kindly co-released by your favorite local record stores: Twist and Shout, Wax Trax and Bart's CD Cellar. To celebrate its release there will be live music at each store the weekend of October 16th. The double CD will be for sale at each location for $11.90.

Friday, Oct. 16th
Twist and Shout
2508 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
6:00 PM - The Kissing Party

Saturday, Oct. 17th
Bart's CD Cellar
1015 Pearl St., Boulder
2:00 PM - Thee Goochi Boiz, otem rellik, AĆ«nka

Sunday, Oct. 18th
Wax Trax
638 E. 13th Ave., Denver
2:00 PM - Bad Weather California, Magic Cyclops, The Fire Drills, The GetDown!

06 September 2009

The 2009 Denver UMS!

The UMS, I think, is the indie music fans version of the county fair to farming folk: it's a chance to say hey to a number of friends you haven't seen since last year, maybe see a new thing or two and best of all, catch a few well-loved familiars.

I should've written this in a more timely manner, a month ago or so. But I didn't feel like writing about it until right now. It's not that I didn't enjoy the UMS this year. I did. And it's not that it was too exhausting (though four days were truly too much for me--I took Friday off.)

I will probably never get used to that sampling buffet-style mode of music listening of a festival. There were, as usual, too many bands to even catch a sample of properly. And predictably, I missed a good share of those I would've liked to have seen. The four days were more than I could set aside the time and energy for, so I deliberately skipped Friday and having the underage entourage in tow, I skipped the evening hours of Saturday and Sunday as well. The kids were bummed that they had no all ages opportunity to see the #1 voted band of Ian Cooke. He's pretty all-ages friendly too. Alas, there was still much to see and hear that made it well worth the price of a wristband.

And the UMS does seem to be growing, not shrinking. I heard tell that there were folks who made the trip from outside the rectangle of Colorado to play for the South Broadway crowd. I'm not sure if I caught any of their acts, but I think I must have seen at least one of them on the outdoor stage, which turned out to be a good place to hang out with my all-ages entourage. The skate shop also had a nice little setup with the little bouncy outdoor stage. Fancy Tiger and Rock the Cradle were good places to stop in and catch some acoustic singer-songwriter fare. The church on Lincoln also was a beautiful and unique place to catch some exceptional sounds.

For me, the highlights were: Thursday night at the 3 Kings Tavern with Snake Rattle Rattle Snake and Bad Luck City; Saturday afternoon at Fancy Tiger with Joe Sampson and the church on Lincoln with Kal Cahoone. For my teen-age son, Everything Absent or Distorted on the main stage on Sunday seemed to be the highlight. Chalk drawing on the parking lot also seemed to amuse the very youngest of rockers. I was glad that I bought Walgreens out of the last of their summer sidewalk chalk, because not a speck was wasted. Next year I'm bringing a bucket of chalk.

01 September 2009

The Pretenders and Cat Power at the Botanic Gardens at Chatfield

Thanks to the friendly folks at Gigbot, I had a couple tickets to take my 12 year old daughter to go see The Pretenders and Cat Power. Juliette Lewis, I must add, was also on the ticket, but we didn't make it there in time to see what her performance was about. Mapquest sent us on a scenic route south of Tiny Town to a road of the same name, but not the right one. It took us a bit of time to figure out what had happened, turn around, call civilization for proper directions and get to the Kipling and C-470 location. We weren't the only ones with crossed signals. Apparently a lot of people's tickets said "gates at 4, show at 5" when it was actually an hour earlier on both counts. Oops.

Well, with the heat of the day, I truly wasn't heart-broken for not having another hour under the sun. Nope.

I hadn't seen the Pretenders since 1986. They were playing with Iggy Pop in Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. It was a good show, from what I recall. But I was pretty stoked to see the Pretenders again. I expected there'd likely be a bunch of aging rockers I'd feel fairly at home with. My daughter was especially looking forward to Cat Power.

Chan Marshall did indeed look to be suffering a bit from the bright Colorado sun. I had heard stories of stage drama from Cat Power, but no such nonsense went on at this show. She sang a lot of low-key newer stuff with a solid backing band keeping it all together behind her. My daughter and I only have the first two Cat Power records, so the newer stuff was mostly unfamiliar. She does have a distinct voice and it delivers just as pretty live as recorded.

The Pretenders didn't let the heat bring them down. Well, the sun was set a little lower by the time they took the stage, but it was still plenty warm and sunny. Chrissy Hynde is an all around solid performer. Her voice and musicianship are as fabulous as always. But not only did the band deliver song after song of crowd pleasing favorite Pretender tunes, Hynde was really funny and engaging, commenting on a little guy's rocking out dance in the crowd and thanking the venue for not having to play with the wafting smell of barbeque in her face. Clearly a passionate vegetarian.
Pretenders played with their original drummer and rolled heavily with songs from Pretenders I and II mixing in newer songs here and there which held their own against the old familiars.

Though outdoor blanket-on-the-grass venues are not my favorite choice, it was a good place to take a kid to a show. Though, honestly, without the comps, it would've been out of my price range for a family outing. But my daughter was happy and thought it was really cool that she can now for always claim as her first national act concert two bands she likes: Cat Power and the Pretenders.

And I had fun too. But next time I'm bringing more water.

14 May 2009

Shakedown on a Saturday Night

I love Radio 1190. Even the times I don't care for what they are playing at the minute, I appreciate their eclectic, subjective, and what I reckon to be, truly honest selections. I dig that they play what they dig, not only what might sell some ads. However, as you know, listener supported radio still has to pay the bills.

So be a good listener and get to the Hi-Dive on Saturday night for Radio 1190's Local Shakedown Volume 3 compilation Benefit Show and you can shake your own self down to some of Denver's most fabulous talents. I can't wait to hear the haunting and adrenaline-inducing new songs Bad Luck City has been recording performed live on stage. The much talked of Overcasters will be there to dazzle with sounds and projections. And for goodness sake don't get there late or you'll miss the long-awaited return of live music from Cowboy Curse.

Only $6! And kids, you can come too. It's a 16+ show.

09 April 2009

You may not go to church, but you can still see the Reverend

This Saturday at One Eyed Jacks, (formerly The Continental Club) what Westword's Best of 2009 called the best club revival, you can join in the Reverend Deadeye's own rock 'n' roll revival. I'm reminding you right now to bring your bibles, because as many times as the Reverend asks for them, y'all forget them every single time. For shame.

It is the Reverend's last show in Denver before his second European tour. So head down, check out the new club and send one of Denver's fine musical ambassador's on his way with a little more change in his pocket. I am sure he'll appreciate it.

I got to see the Reverend with American Relay at 3 Kings Tavern last week. I always am glad to see both these bands perform and last Thursday was no exception. It was a treat that Reverend Deadeye's brother was in town and performing with him. I hadn't seen them play together before and it was quite fine. American Relay has yet to disappoint me and the duo delivered their songs with no lack of energy and fervor. They shared some new songs still in progress too, which I love to catch. One of the irreplacable experiences of following a band and making the effort to get out to see them live is hearing new songs develop, following the song until it is recorded and immortalized as "the" version. I like to follow the possibilities of where a song might go. Even though I am only a listener in the process, it feels inclusive. And since, like so many others, I've got the job-searching depression going on, it was a little comforting to listen. When you're on the outs, those blues songs remind you that you're still on the inside somewhere.

Okay, that's enough of my rambling musical philosophizing. Go out and listen for yourself!

12 March 2009

YouTube Art --ThruYOU

Many pieces of art come from taking stuff that's plentiful and available, taking that and then doing something new and interesting with it.

What could be more plentiful and available in our time than YouTube videos?

I learn about many cool projects from my Daily Dose subscription, but the ThruYOU project made by an Israeli musician and producer named Kutiman, is the coolest to date.

Music is a universal form. If you ever doubted it you won't after watching this. I am not a YouTube superfan (like some people I know) but mostly because all that material totally overwhelms me. Then there's all that time that disappears jumping from a Cincinnati rapper to a school orchestra quartet to some dude teaching funk chords to a theremin player to a mom singing with a baby in her lap to etc. etc. etc.

To me, the time spent feels mostly wasted free time, but the time Kutiman spent surfing around YouTube was put to beautiful creative use. It's astounding to me. He taps into some genius perception and memory by splicing together music and images that would never be in the same place but for his mixing them. I don't see how he kept it all straight enough in his head to piece it together.

But it's cool he did.

Check it out.

18 February 2009

Teenage Rocking

I wasn't going to post this as it seems too much vicarious parental pride to do so. But I just can't resist. Teenage rocking is fun.

11 January 2009

this is not a show review

I had the best of intentions to go listen to Ross Etherton sing his songs at the Meadowlark last Thursday, but I just couldn't make it. Well, I made it to the show, just not to hear Ross, which is pretty lame as he was billed to go on second, but I couldn't make it a minute more. I hope it works out better next time.

There were four or five acts on the line up and none of them had started yet. Okay. I had been working two shifts at the book store, filling in for two different people. First shift in the basement in the children's section, then second shift closing the coffee shop. I was achy and tired. I thought perhaps I should probably skip it and just go home, but I telephoned JZ, who was already at the place and he told me that the show hadn't started yet. I went.

I arrived at the Meadowlark a little after 9:30. Nobody had begun to play. I contemplated whether or not I wanted to get a drink with the following internal conversation: I'm really tired and drinking alcohol will only make me sleepier but then I am feeling thirsty and, well, a little edgy. Edgy? Yes, rather edgy in fact. Come to think of it, I thought to myself, I always get kind of uncomfortable at the Meadowlark. I've noted this before and chalked it up to other things, but this time I decided to try to analyze it. I looked around at the stone walls and remembered when this bar first opened. It was a quiet unfinished basement bar that was useful for escaping the Larimer Lounge. It was good for wanting to have a conversation with a friend or just use a clean bathroom. This was before the LL remodel. I would sometimes get a drink there when I arrived a little too early for a show. But that was a couple years ago. Since then, little by little, it started getting fixed up. Heavy wooden furnishings, mood lighting, animal heads, ultra-bright metallic bathrooms. It became less of a get away from the Larimer kind of bar and one of its own identity. But what is this identity? The best way I think I can describe it is "new yuppie artsy bachelor pad" or at least how I imagine one might be. It has the appearance of comfort, but way too self-consciously to actually be comfortable. At least it's that way for me.

Okay, now I've sorted out that question in my mind and got it off my chest. I can get on to the action of the evening and why I didn't make it to the second act. The first act, called, I think, The Radical Knitting Society, took the stage armed with an upright bass, a rather pretty semi-acoustic electric guitar, keyboards and drums. It looked like a potentially intriguing line up of instruments to me. I listened to several songs start out nice and quiet and a little interesting and then build into something more strident and somehow twist toward grating. I wondered if it was the music or the environment getting to me. I again thought about getting a drink. But decided that wouldn't be enough to calm my agitation. I needed to get outside. Fresh air. JZ agreed he could use a smoke, so we trudged up the stone staircase and stepped out into the brisk night air.

It was barely a few moments before the real entertainment of the evening came ambling, nay, weaving down Larimer Street. A tall black man named Ronnie with a 40 in his left pocket, and a forty in his right fist, arrived at the corner and introduced himself. He rapped some dope rhymes. But I forgot them. He told animated nonsensical tales of adventures in hotels and their pools, women and security officers. His eyes were red and watering. He related comedic family stories about his sister and brother and uncle and nephews and nieces and aunt. He was courteous and pretty well behaved for someone as clearly mashed as he was. I didn't have any change for his bus fare, but he left us with the encouraging words that it ain't over 'til Jesus comes down from the sky and tells us it is. All right? Okay.

I didn't feel all agitated anymore though, unfortunately by this time I was so tired I was about to fall over and really really needed to get home, so we went back inside to offer apologies to Ross. There was also a new songwriter in town, hailing from Illinois I think, going by the name of The Dowry, who introduced himself earlier. I'll keep an eye peeled for another chance. But that was all I could take.

I told you this wasn't a show review. It is a failed-attempt-at-making-a-show review. But kids, that's just how it turns out some nights. Lame, but true.