Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Currently Listening To:

For a week or so I have been praying for chocolate cake and a mixtape. First, what a great title for a memoir, imiright? Second, my dad always told me I shouldn't pray for things that I could get myself, aka,  don't be a lazy soul.   Sadly, no chocolate cake has materialized yet, but maybe the Universe is working on that mixtape thing, since many of the bands that I find myself listening too lately are stomping through DC in the next couple months to play some of that fine live music for me (and other people too, I guess. but mainly for me).

Sleater Kinney: I'm actually seeing this band tomorrow night, the second of the two sold out shows, and I am beside myself exciting.  Along with the great blues legend Bessie Smith, Sleater Kinney was one of the bands that taught me that girls don't have to be delicate flowers who sit quietly in the corner. Girls can talk about the big things in life and not just the length of our skirts, and we have all the rights in the world to share our stories however we want.  I am very, very nervous of reunion bands that just reunited to try to relive a long ago moment. I don't Sleater Kinney falls in that group, at all. For one thing, they are touring with a new album, a great album, just released last month, and the energy of the new music just adds to their legend.  For another thing, they are still awesome. The end.

Sufjan Stevens: Every time Sujian Stevens releases a new album, I feel that the music collective holds it's breath: is it going to be weird Sufjan or genius Sufjan? We can all breathe a little easier, songs that are being released from his upcoming album,  are just goresous. He is coming to DC on May 5, which, sorry to be a Debbie Downer, is also the anniversary of my father's death. So, as corny as it seems to others, to me, this show is a little band-aid from the Universe helping to keep my heart together on a very sad day for me.

 Lord Huron: New stuff from this guy has just start to leak it's way down through the innerwebz, and into that part of our hearts that make us all warm and fuzzy, and deeply sigh. Coming to the District in May, one night of his two night parade is already sold out.

William Elliott Whitmore: the best description of WEW is that he sounds like he ate Tom Wait's voice box for breakfast. He can also be found in 87% of mixtapes I force on people.  His tour was just announced today (coming to DC in April with Esme Patterson, who is that classy lady in the below Shakey Graves vid!) and I think that I have played this new song from his upcoming album more times that I have taken breaths today.  He is know for his beautiful acoustic guitar and banjo skills, but he picks up an electronic guitar for this new records. I don't think it takes away from the rawness of his music, it just adds another layer.


Shakey Graves: because I am pretty much always listening to Shakey Graves. His March DC show is already sold out, because we love him here in the Nation's Capitol. We do. Everyone start warming up those handclaps!

 Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear : Not coming to DC (yet!), but this ma and son duo from Kansas City (!) are finally getting the attention that they deserved. So plate up some tastily KC BBQ and let the music sink in. 

Hey, anyone got some chocolate cake? I'm pretty sure that I have spent my entire food budget on concert tickets. In long run,  music probably is better for my health.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bits & Pieces: Snow Day Edition!

**There is a fresh layer of snow on the ground, schools, businesses, and governments, are closed and I'm here typing on my computer  in fuzzy socks and pink yoga pants, in the middle of the day, on a Tuesday. It's a Pancake Tuesday Miracle! I've got Brit/Irish blood sailing through my veins so this gentlewoman does Pancake (Shrove) Tuesday instead of Mardi Gras, but in theory the idea is basically the same, one last moment of debauchery before Lent starts , but instead of parades and beads, we do pancakes. The reasoning, other than duh, pancakes, is to use up the last lit bit of flour and sugar and all the things we give up during Lent. See also the double chocolate cookies that are currently cooling on my stove top.  

**The snow gods decided to knock out the local television stations from the cable lineup. At first, I was like, WHAT NO PEOPLE'S COURT? But then I realized what a boon this is, since we all know that during winter weather, local news folk will bust in every couple minutes to tell you that it is cold or that it is snowing and you are like, thanks I have a window, please go back to trashy daytime t.v.   Also, I've been told that I use the word "like" a lot, and I am like, YO, you can take the girl out of the Valley, but you can't take the Valley out of the girl. So, like, whatever. 

**I am using all this precious snow day no cable time to catch up on the Daily Show. I am really, really sad that Jon Stewart is leaving the show, like really, really sad. Now my bucket list of seeing a live taping is on hyper speed. How are we ever going to get through the next presidential election without going completely insane? 

**Yesterday I went to the store,  you know, just to hang out with the masses grabbing, pushing and shoving for that last loaf of bread or dozen eggs or potted plant before the snow storms starts. It's all about the community coming together in times of need.   Throughout my little adventure, I kept running into the same, rather dashing, fellow in the aisles. What? You need the necessaries of life too?  I think that means we're soul mates. And then he ended up behind me in the check out  lane. This was my moment to shine. Stand back, you are about to be dazzled by my a-ma-zing self check skillz. 

** I have to say that I am enjoying Winter a lot more this year since I have underground, covered parking. No more shoveling out my car, scrapping ice off the windshield or hoping that the snow plow will go down the street so I can get my car out of the driveway. Sure, I pay a little bit for all this, but so worth it. So. Worth. It. 

** Contrary to the popular opinion, snow days are pretty rare beasts around here, so while I am grateful for the this day,  I don't see it becoming a repeat offender.  So high fives and cheers around,  but tomorrow its back to the work, slow train commutes, meetings, spreadsheets and scarfs that wrap around our entire heads to keep our faces from freezing off.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Adventures in Audio-Catch Up: Part I: Adventures 7-10

Continuing on my quest to catch live music at 50 different venues:

Yesterday the realization that I have gone to twice as many shows as I have posted about in my Adventures in Audio series hit me a boat load of busted up drum kits.  I think that I lived with the notion (ahem, excuse), that I had to write some long deep essay about each show, venue and experience, and all that self pressure has obviously led to nothing. Is it Lent yet? Can we give up shame and guilt and fear for Lent this year? Let's give up all that instead of chocolate. Done.

So here is an attempt to catch up with blurry iPhone photos and a kind word or two.

Adventures in Audio #7: Benjamin Booker @ U Street Music Hall, Washington DC

Benjamin Booker's self titled album was most definitely one  my most played album in 2014.  I still listen to bits and pieces of it almost every week if not every day. So blasted good. Not only does Mr. Booker's barbaric yelp of a voice make you believe that he has already lived a thousand lives, but the energy of the music is ridiculous, and the songs are smart too. Every now and then, a line or two of lyric will pop out to be exactly what I need to hear.

So the album was gushing and great, how about seeing him live? High Fives. High Tens. If I was flexible I would add my toes for High Twenties. I left this show a sweaty mess, but in such a good way. I like to think that I just absorbed the music and energy of the performers and the audience and left with an awesome glow. 

Benjamin Booker returns to DC in April to play at the 9:30 Club. From a small downstairs club to one of the most prestigious venues in the city within less than a year? That is Superstar with a capital hell yeah.

Listen to Benjamin Booker

Adventures in Audio #8: Milk Carton Kids with Sarah Jarosz @ The Lincoln Theatre, Washington DC

The historic Lincoln Theatre is definitely a place that you have to dig out your fancy pants and brush your hair for, but this show was minutes of extra grooming. The Milk Carton Kids and their witty and delicately gritty folks songs are pretty stellar on their own, but adding in the beyond talented Sarah Jarosz hits this musical extravaganza out of the park, or theatre. 

Listen to The Milk Carton Kids and Sarah Jarosz

Adventures in Audio #9: First Aid Kit @ GW Lisner Auditorium, Washington DC

Gah, so good.  SO GOOD.

In a perfect folky, dreamy world these Swedish sisters would rule the world. RULE. THE. WORLD.   And they told jokes! Cheese jokes, because that is exactly how awesome they are:
How do you disguise a horse?
Mascapone! (Mask a pony). I honestly still crack myself up with that one at least once a week.

Listen to First Aid Kit

Adventures in Audio #10:  Punk Rock Basement Show @ DC Public Library, Washington DC

The DC Punk Archive was set up in 2014 to help collect and preserve the local DC punk rock history, which is quite the history. I love to seem smaller niche archives pop up, concreting the idea that everyone's story is important and should be saved and preserved, not just the ones that are seen as socially acceptable by the masses. And this loud raw music was such a huge part of my growing up, which I still am doing, and my gateway to going to live shows, that seeing (and helping) to preserve it, in some small ways validates that those parts of my own life are as also worth preserving and sharing.  The DC Punk Archive was recently featured on the BBC, so it is pretty much too legit to quit.  Along with the physical archives, DCPL has programs to promote the archives and the music, including punk rock shows with local bands held in the basement of the main, MLK Library downtown. The bands are all from the DC area, and like everything else in the library, the show are free to the public.  The bands for the show I went to were Nox, Blockhead, and Priests. Katie Alice Greer, singer for the band Priests, said that she started being in bands because she wanted to be brave and to be able to talk about the big things in life. That really stuck with me. Isn't art all about being brave and talking about things bigger us? 

Listen to Priests