Thursday, March 28, 2013

#SpringFever

You guys.

Let's all skip work tomorrow and drive to the beach. You'll bring the music. I'll bring the snacks: Peanut M&Ms, juicy watermelon, delicate crackers and fancy cheese. There is just something wonderful about eating Brie on the beach. 

We'll leave early in the morning and as the sun comes up we'll roll down all the windows in the car and sing, so loud, to our favorite songs. We'll be the first ones on the beach, kicking off our shoes, the minute, nigh, the second, our feet touch sand. We'll find the perfect spot and lay our striped beach blankets down and put on our sunscreen, 'cause we are responsible like that. 

Because we got up so early, we'll allow ourselves a little morning nap, drifting off to the sound of crashing waves, the most peaceful sound in the world. A little later, feeling awake and alive, we'll swim out past where the waves break and bop through the water like sea monsters and not so graceful mermaids. Back on the shore we'll read, aloud and with vigor, passages from Walden (I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life!!), and Uncle Walt (From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines!!). And because we are complicated creatures, we'll also find deep in our bags, some of those trashy celebrity magazines. Silly quizzes will be filled out and absurd Hollywood gossip will be discussed, making us feel so much better about our simple and common lives. 

 Lunch will find us along the creaky boardwalk searching for ice creams cones that drip down our fingers and chins and salt french fries.  In the long warm afternoon hours, we'll build vast sandcastle civilizations complete with secret tunnels, apple orchards and back stories and mythologies. 

After watching the most amazing sunset, we'll collect all our stuff,and shake all the sand off our feet, and hair and fingernails and everything else. With our hearts a little heavy, we'll bid farewell to our  little beach paradise and point ourselves back towards the road to our normal lives.  One the way, I'll pull over on some quiet country road and we'll get out and stare up at the starry night sky, pointing out the constellations that we know, and making up a few of our own. And then, when the world seems so quiet and peaceful, and so ourswe'll talk about the deep things, the things we can't discuss in the light.

And that will be the perfect day.

Who's in?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Song of the Week: A Spring Mix Tape

I make a mix tape each month of my favorite songs of the past 30 days, it's like musical journaling. In a perfect world I try to post a song list here on the blog each month. It is not a perfect world. Every couple of months I force a playlist on a couple of friends who I have been swapping music with for awhile now. We are like the old tymey Columbia House, but only cooler since we wear argyle socks. Sometimes I worry about the implications of burning music. I know each time I burn a song for someone, that is a handful of pennies out the pocket of the musician. In that vein, I don't ever burn a whole album, and when I  make a cd for someone, I choose specific songs that I hope they will fall in love with,  and then support the artist, see live, and pass on the good word to others. So it all balances out in end, right? What are your thoughts about sharing music?

Anyway. Below is the playlist that I shared along with the [edited] notes I sent. My music friends are all spread across the country now and sometimes it pains my little heart that we all can't physically get together and talked about the songs in person and share our thoughts over pie and be concert buddies and all. But music has proven to be one of the sustainable links in our friendship, it seem to be a level that we all just get each other.  And that is a beautiful thing.


Spring Forward Mix Tape:
 (Links all go to You Tube or the band's bandcamp page, someday I will figure out how to do the embedded playlist thing)


I started this mix before I made the big move back to the Midwest. Hence, many of the songs have to do with traveling, or leaving, going or returning home. There are also a lot of hand claps. Lots and lots of joy filled hand claps. Hope you guys are OK with that. I mixed old songs and new songs, hopefully to tell a good musical story.  

1.    Grinnin’ In Your Face—Son House.
This is an old Blues song that I love with every single DNA fiber in my body.  I often listen to  it laying on the floor with my eyes closed. But you don’t have to. I love his voice; I love his slightly off beat hand claps. This is the Blues that you feel right down in your soul.
2.    Shuffle Your Feet—Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
This song is a few years old, but I love the feeling that we are all in some old barn clapping our hands, shuffling our feet and singing our hearts out.
3.    I Will Remain—Matthew and the Atlas
Hand claps AND Banjo? Yes please.  This British band has since broken up, but the singer and his gravely voice still tour under the same band name. He’s the Matthew.
4.    (What’s So Funny ‘bout) Peace Love and Understanding (Brinsley Schwarz cover)—Shovels & Rope
A fantastic cover by a fantastic little band. This duo can do no wrong in my book.
5.    Boots of Spanish Leather—Bob Dylan
I’m a HUGE Bob Dylan fan, and this is my favorite song of his. It will make me cry 87.9% of the time. But it is a good cry.
6.    I Was Young When I Left Home (Bob Dylan cover)—Mumford & Sons and Friends
I hesitate duplicating a band that has been on a previous mix, but this song just fit in so beautifully with the idea of home and returning home. It is from a special Daytrotter session that Mumford and Sons did a little while ago with some other musicians (hence the ‘friends”). And I am being super sneaky about putting 2 Dylan songs on the same mix. (This video is the closest I could find to the Daytrotter session. Seriously, just become a Daytrotter member.)
7.    Brothers—Gospel Whiskey Runners
This song is very much a prodigal son song.  I can totally relate about returning home after a hard year. Also, I am currently obsessed with this band. I couldn't find a clip of this song, from their album "Hold On", but you can get the fantastic title track on their bandcamp for name your price.
8.    Underneath A Mountain—The Strumbellas
They won’t know me until I know myself. This line kinda makes the song.
9.    Unlucky Skin—Shakey Graves
I love Shakey Graves almost to embarrassing levels. But I am not ashamed. His songs are just so beautiful to my soul. 
10. Roadtrip—Mahoney & The Moment
      Roadtrips and harmonicas just go together. This song makes me ache for long summer car rides that always give us the best conversations. 
11. Let My Love—Damion Suomi & The Minor Prophets
This song makes me so happy, like jump and spin around my room until I get dizzy happy.
12. Diggin’ My Grave—William Elliott Whitmore
I started this mix with a blues song, so I thought I would end with one too. WEW is a white boy from Iowa demonstrating that the blues is no respecter of person. I saw him in DC in a room with maybe a dozen people. Just him and his banjo brought the room to silence as all our hearts skipped a beat, all at the same time, because of his music. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pictures of the Week: Snow Day. Again.

Winter has become that annoying house guest that will not leave. At first, you look forward to their coming, I mean, you haven't seen them in like a year.  And you have fun with them for awhile wearing cute scarfs and hats, but then the days past, and you keep turning the pages of the calendar and it is time for your guest to go. But they don't. They may pretend to leave and let you start to get back to your normal life and plant your garden and think about camping trips and stuff, but then, oh no, your guest returns. And that return comes with a vengeance.

I woke up today to several inches of snow. In March. Almost April. Snow. What the What. What kind of appeasement dance do I need to do for warm weather. I will do it. Twice. And then I will stop complaining about the weather. Politics and religion are starting to feel neglected anyway.

Red boots.

Snow and ice that reminds me of sea foam along the shoreline.

The cows giving me that "what you doing out in the snow gurl?" look.

Trees.

Looking up.









Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday Things

1. Today is the second day of Spring. Today it snowed and more is expected this weekend. It is like Mother Nature is saying, "What Up Suckers! You try to box me in with calendar dates and your so called seasons. So you think I'm predictable?  Huh. BOOM. Snow." Mother Nature sure can be a feisty lady.

2. I use the word "Yo!" a lot in texting. Auto correct keeps trying to change it to something else. It's like my phone is questioning my street cred. In other technology caused self esteem issues, my GPS is starting to get pretty pushy. On my way home yesterday, it was all "Turn left, turn right." Dude, I was still in the parking lot, give me a minute.

3.  In some what related slang news, I really, really want rad to make a come back.  Can we make it a thing again?

4. I just started reading Truman by David McCullough. I realized a little while ago that I don't know as much about our Missouri born and breed president as I should.  So far, it is a great read, and at 1,120 pages I am pretty sure that I can use it as a weapon (self defense purposes only, obviously) or a floatation device. Wait. I would never put a book in water. Never mind on the floatation device thing.

5. Reason #45b that I am OK with not being in DC right now:  this headline: After 17 Years, the Northeast is About to Be Blanketed by a Swarm of Cicadas (full article).  Cue the shivers and scary music (I still miss the friendships and Eastern Market's French Toast.  In that order). 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Song of the Week: Fugazi

I had a lot of fun music moments in DC, but topping the list is seeing, in person, the NPR Tiny Desk, and seeing Ian MacKaye just hanging out on the streets of our fine Capitol City.

When any type of discussion occurs about the DC music scene, if Ian MacKaye isn't mentioned, then it is just amateur hour.  Mr. MacKaye is the founder of legendary and influential punk rock/hardcore bands Minor Threat and Fugazi and owner/founder of Dischord Records which  has been putting out independent music releases since 1980. Add in producer, social activist, DIY (Do It Yourself) mastermind and you begin to get an idea of the man. I think one of the main reasons that he has been so successful and revered for so long is that that he runs everything with a high level of authenticity and well, ethics. He doesn't cut corners or sell out to trends, and (hopefully) without sounding like I have fallen down the sappy rabbit hole, he legitimately cares.  He cares for the fans, the bands, his community (local and musically) and the music.

"Waiting Room" off of  Fugazi's 13 Songs album is the type of anthem that you, (or me, myself and I), listen to when you are laying face down on your bed, frustrated that you are seemingly in the 'waiting room,' of life. Waiting for the next big thing, job, relationship, short stack of pancakes, your life to become something. But it is not a song of self pity or desperate resolution. Booming in the song, with a sound of truth that you just have to believe,  are the words, "But I won't sit idly by. I'm planning a big surprise. I'm gonna fight for what I want to be."

If my blood and cells could talk, which OK, would be a little weird, but I am sure at least 4 out of the 7 days of the week, they would have echos of "Waiting Room." I have listened to this song so many times throughout my music life, that I am pretty sure it has been absorbed. I'm totally fine with that.

And because of folk music is punk rock and punk rock is folk music (all about the struggle of the common man and whatnot) here is a folksy version of "Waiting Room," from husband and wife duo Homesick Elephant:

Friday, March 15, 2013

Happy Friday!

I woke up to this video making itself known on my radar.  It is so delightful that I had to share, immediately, before I break the Internet by hitting the replay button too many times. So here I type, still in my pajamas, still with out of control bed hair, but with a smile on face and a tune in my head.

Langhorne Slim & The Law with The Lumineers covering a little Violent Femmes:



These two great bands may have just ended their beautiful time at touring buddies, but they are both (separately) coming to my neck of the woods in the next few months, which lets me know that they still care.

Langhorne Slim & The Law will be at the Granada in Lawrence with Lucero on April 23 (info/tickets).  My admiration for Mr. Slim's music is getting pretty close to being embarrassing, but sometimes you just can't help falling hard for good music. 

The Lumineers  with the Cold War Kids and others will be playing Buzz Under the Stars at the Cricket Wireless Amphitheater (which I still call Sandstone because I am old) in Bonner Springs, KS on June 1. 

There are actually a lot of good concerts swinging through the area, like a lot. This makes me more happier than you know, and also makes me feel a little more ok about sticking around. As long as you got a steady stream of good music, you can get through a lot of other stuff.  Or so I say.

It is suppose to be in the 70s today (temperature wise), maybe even hit 80. Let's all go outside and run around like crazy people, 'K? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Happy Pi Day!

Today is March 14. If you write the date out in all numerals it is 3 14. Add a decimal and you have 3.14. And if you stayed awake in any of your math classes you should recognize these as the the beginning digits in the magical numerical Pi, you know, this thingee: π.

Go ask all your math friends about the wonders of pi, they love to talk about it. It's irrational (as in an irrational number), and is misunderstood (smart people are still trying to completely understand it), in other words, aren't we all a little bit like pi? 

So what do you eat on National Pi Day? Pie, of course.  Aliens visiting our planet will never doubt our cleverness and wit as a human race. And although I like to pull out all the stops for the true Pie Day that occurs in November, any excuse to make any kind of this best ever dessert, I am totally game for.

I found these adorable pie piece single serving pie pans in a kitchen store that is literally in the middle of nowhere, with maaaybe a little bit of Children of the Corn vibe as  you drive into the area. But you guys, they have cute pie stuff.
I filled them with a ridiculously simple key lime freezer pie recipe, and tonight . . .We shall feast like kings! Well, kings that eat pie.

And what do you listen to while making and eating pie? The Pietasters. Duh. The Pietasters are a very fun ska band from Washington DC (represent!). Pretty snappy dressers too. Not that this video will show, but trust me, they are friends with their tailors. While I was pie making today, I jammed out to their album, Willis and while the cat was not impressed by my dancing skills, I know that I've still got it.


 And now for Throwback Thursday! Throwback Thursday (hashtag: #tbt) is reposting (usually on Twitter or Instagram) old pictures, kind of a memory lane type thing. Listening to The Pietasters got me reminiscing about stupid fun ska shows where we all wore jackets covered with patches and pins from our favorite bands, and left the show 20 pounds lighter from all the sweat from all the dancing.  I went to my own personal archive  to see if I could find any pictures from any Pietasters shows. And by archive, I mean the stash of ticket stubs, fliers, set lists, and pictures that I have saved from concerts throughout the years. I don't scrapbook, I archive. I couldn't find any pictures, but how about a ticket stub from a show in 1997 (with the Bouncing Souls!), and an autographed promotional poster for Willis. Now, I am just showing off.  


Happy Pi Day! Go do some math. 


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Discovering New Music: Freebies

Oh, hey there.  

I hate to be all awkward. But. 

I like you. So I'm going to do something nice for  you. 

You don't really seem like the candy and jewelry type, so how about the heads up on some music that is not only beautiful to your soul (your soul, man, your soul), but also won't take any change out of your harmonica fund. That's right, free stuff. Now, not completely free, let's not be selfish. The rules of good music karma says you must pass along good music when you find it. Make a mix playlist/CD/tape of some or your newly discovered favorite songs for a friend. Invite someone to a live music event. In the past, I have bought an extra ticket to a concert knowing that I'll find a music friend just in time, and I usually do.  Blog/Tweet/Facebook/Intagram/ about the music you like. Odds are that one of your metadata friends is just looking for some new music. Hold a giant boom box over your head in someone special's front yard (ok, you may want to think really carefully before doing that one). If any these songs seem to fit that little empty space in your head in between this week's shopping list and the-what should I do with the rest of my life- list, then tell someone. Tell anyone, heck, tell me, that you just found this great song. 

Now, all the below songs are completely free to download. Legally free to download. We're all class acts, right? Let's make sure we are properly taking care of the artists making these sounds. They need to eat, they need new banjo strings. Support the bands you love however you can.  Technology and the series of tubes we call the Internet, have made it easier to break the wall between the performer and the audience, and give your support and money directly to band, not the huge music business machine that ruled the sound waves for so long. So if you can,  throw a little bit back to these fine folks, if you like a song, buy the album. Do your part. And the musical world will continue to turn. (Cue the Kumbaya choir)

For some of these songs you will need to enter an email address to get the download.  I have an email address that I use solely for music purposes to keep it separate from all other emails. Other songs will download automatically once you hit "download." Rocket science, I know.  Also, the artists have the right to pull the free download status of any of these songs at anytime. So if you find that the songs are no longer available or free, you wanted too long. Shame. 

1. Live at the Iveagh Gardens/Josh Ritter. Mr Ritter has an entire live album for free download on Noisetrade. And with all the pennies you just saved, you can buy his new album, The Beast in It's Tracks

2. Love Will Only Break Your Heart/The David Mayfield Parade. Good Man Down, the new album from the parade man himself is set to be released on April 1 (hopefully that aint no joke), but as a teaser, since he is such a tease, the song "Love Will Only Break Your Heart" is up for free download on his website.

3. Stick Around/David Ramirez.  David Ramirez. Never heard of him? What. You should. There might be a quiz about his music in heaven. You can download his song, "Stick Around" off his website. I swear, the lyrics in this song are directly from a conversation that I had with someone recently--having a reason to stick around someplace. I need to hear this, the words and the song, over and over. I am starting to get the wanderlust twitches. 

4. Mike Clark & The Sugar Sounds Chapel Session. If you don't read I Am Fuel, You Are Friends, music blog, then, uh, maybe you need to reexamine your life. Ok, your life is probably fine, but really it is a great blog, lost of good music to listen to, lots of good words to read. Heather Browne, the mastermind behind blog also records Chapel Sessions with bands in a church and then provides the sessions for free download. Good music karma, y'all. (p.s. why can't I stop saying y'all? I feel like I am inching closer to that line of buying a pair of overalls. Help). I can't stop listening to Mike Clark and the Sugar Sounds session. It's deep and soulful and just hits that inner chord that shakes you a little bit more alive. 

5. The Austin 100/NPR. The SXSW (South by Southwest) music/art extravaganza is going on right now in Austin, Texas and my Facebook and Instagram feeds won't let me forget about all the bands I'm not seeing. But NPR has all of our backs.  They have posted 100 songs from some of the most talked about bands performing during the festival. NPR is so nice, it makes me want to buy all of their tote bags. You can download all the songs as one zip file OR just the songs you like/love/want to marry the sound of.