Tuesday, August 20, 2013

White On White Violence

Via the Sociological Images blog - take a moment to watch Chris Hays and Cord Jefferson satirize how many media outlets cover African-American law breaking.  This is awesome - my favorite line was "some of my best friends are white".  Great stuff.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cool Songs I've Only Recently Been Hipped To

Granted, I have no idea if these are new songs; they're just new to me.
Mint Royale (featuring De La Soul) - "Show Me"

The Chromatics - "Back From The Grave" (The 80s are alive and well in this one.)

 Gloria - "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)"  (A great Talking Heads cover. They should segueway into Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams".)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This And That

You know I'm fond of sharing weird music-related Tumblr sites here (like this one and this one).  You know I'm fond of the Smiths.  When you combine them, you get a great Tumblr site that feels to me like it's taking the piss out of Morrisey.  (Which is funny.)  In reality, if you've ever read "Peanuts" on a regular basis, you know it's a pretty grim comic strip anyway.  Combining the fatalism of Morrisey's lyrics and Schultz's art seems like a bit of a no brainer now that I think of it.
Also - for those of you heading back to school, don't forget to put "Headmaster Ritual" in your iPods to get you nice and belligerent for the classroom.

Hot on the heels of our last gig, Trowar has another gig in Redmond, Washington on Sept. 7th.  As usual, I don't know much about it, but I'm excited to get back at it.  You can count on a report afterward.  If I can get a camera in the carry on bag this time, I'll take lots of photos.

I finally sat down to watch "The Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus".  This is a movie I've been meaning to watch for a long time, I just never have.  This movie was never released officially to the public until 1996, even though it was filmed in 1968.  The long held rumor was that the Stones felt that they were upstaged by the Who's performance.  As a life long Who fan, I wanted to see if it was true - that's what drew me to watch this movie.  I have several observations:
  • The Who's performance lived up to the hype.  They were spectacular.  I'm not sure I'd say they "upstaged" anyone though.  To me, comparing the Rolling Stones to the Who is like comparing apples to oranges.  The Who's music, influences and stage act is vastly different from the Rolling Stones.  There were some minor missteps in the Stones' performance (Mick forgetting to fetch Keef's acoustic guitar between songs, the drawing attention to it, for example); however, these are the sort of things that are not detriments to the enjoyment of a live performance.  Indeed, they only enhance it.
  • Part of the reason the Who was so great was their willingness to act like jackasses.  In the introduction and in between songs, it looked like most of the Stones wished they were somewhere else.  They were totally not into it; it looked awkward as ass.  Not the Who.  It's hard to be serious when you've got Keith Moon and Pete Townshed (and probably Entwhistle as well) coked to the gills.  In Townshend's case, such drug abuse and general jackassery was meant to cover up deep insecurities.  Well, well done.  Their performance of "A Quick One While He's Away" was energetic and powerful, and in a nutshell, brilliant.
  • Marianne Faithfull?  Well. . . she's pretty.  Let's leave it at that.
  • It is my understanding that this was Brian Jones' last performance before he died.  The Stones were about to kick him out and he knew it. According to Pete Townshend, Brian Jones can be seen in the video hanging around the stage crying.  I didn't check to see if this was true.  But Townshed said that while Keef ignored Jones, Jagger spent the better part of the day trying to get him to pull himself together for the show.
  • I think the fact that the Rolling Stones were able to withhold that movie for almost 30 years is a testament to the clout that they have in the business.  
  • For me, the band that blew me away was Jethro Tull - holy shit.  They were the #1 freaks in a big top full of freaks:  dig the bass player playing that messed up bass while blowing on a harmonica.  Dig his jerky movements.  Look at Ian Anderson's crazed eyes and trademark stance.  Listen to the Led Zep sound before Zep was a household name.  And I didn't even know Tony Iommi was in Jethro Tull.  You should check out the performance below.

I think that's about it for now.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Slightly Embarrassing, Tangentially Related To "The Sonic Input In My Life"

Like many people who sit in front of a computer for any length of time, I used to have a serious addiction to the StumbleUpon button I had installed in Firefox.  For the uninitiated, StumbleUpon is a button within your browser that randomly takes you to websites that might interest you based on the preferences you enter on your free user account. Every time you click the button, you get to a new website.

I don't use StumbleUpon anymore, but I never closed down my account.  Periodic emails from the StumbleUpon team are a small part of the vast amounts of daily gray mail I get in my inbox.  As is the case with gray mail, I almost never read it.  For whatever reason, I clicked on the latest email from StumbleUpon.  I had to laugh because I totally forgot about the lame user name I had to select when I created my account:
Other names I could've selected that might have been worse:

  • smoothoperator1971
  • boyjezebel
  • soldieroflove2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Still More Favorite Pedal Steel Tunes [UPDATED]

Pedal steel guitar - I love it.  I'm always remembering pedal steel tunes I love, and I'd like to share a couple more with you right now.
Bill Frisell - "Poem For Eva"

Loretta Lynn - "Don't Come Home A'Drinkin' (With Lovin' On Your Mind)"

The Rolling Stones - "Girl With Faraway Eyes"

OKCupid Juggalos

A few choice samples from the "OKCupid Juggalos" Tumblr site.

The Phil Spector Method

Ouch.  From the awesome "What Would Papa John Do" Tumblr site.  Watch (if you dare) "Go Big Papa" here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Trowar Report: July-August 2013

I arrived home safe and sound (if a little tired) from Redmond, Washington yesterday.  It was a productive, thoroughly enjoyable five day trip filled with some serious wood shedding.  Here, in no particular order, is what you need to know:

  • The recording studio (formerly referred to as "Trowar HQ", heretofore referred to as "Ghost Train Studios") is nearing completion.  The live room has a nice stage and great sound.  The green room is ready to roll - only the control booth needs to be completed.  Jeff Tomei will be lending his expertise in this area, advising on equipment and software to be purchased, then installing that equipment.  By the time he is done, we will have a pretty damn nice little recording studio that should begin generating some revenue.
  • The taco truck is no more.  The revenue stream that was paying for airline tickets and various equipment purchases has been sold to get some money to finish the studio.  Manager Chris Wilhite is putting everything he has into this venture, selling his pontoon boat as well.  Hell, even his house (where I stay when I go out there) is on the market.*  I'm sure the money isn't for Trowar only (Chris mentioned his attraction to some real estate in Costa Rica), but I have a sense that part of it will be used to address the financial concerns of this venture.  Definitely nice to have someone like Chris putting his back into this!
  • Rehearsals were typical:  4-5 hours in the morning, followed by a 2-3 hour break, with 2-3 more hours of practice in the evening.  And you know what?  I loved every second of it.  We were preparing for a show (more on that in a minute) that was to only have an 8-song set.  We were able to focus on details and begin the process of really breaking down songs for the sake of making them ultra tight.  I ended up playing with a pick for most of this trip as I was raising blisters on my right hand after the first day of rehearsals.  I don't like my tone as much with a pick, but it sure beats having blisters popping/splattering all over the place as I'm trying to play.
  • The T-20 made it's debut and was exactly what I had hoped it would be, with its big, beefy bottom end, super heavy body (seriously - my shoulder was killing me), and all around toughness for the journey/occasional fall off the stand.  I noticed that the bass is slightly out of balance - it sagged a bit to the headstock when it dangles loosely from my body.  But I don't care about that so much.  The strings I used for the drop tuning (C#, F#, B, E) were exactly what I needed, delivering great tone and action.  There are some issues that need to be addressed with the T-20.  There is a span of about four frets near the top of the fingerboard that do not ring true at all and are therefore useless.  No matter - I don't play that high anyway and I'm pretty sure this can be addressed with a proper set up.
  • The performance:  I had been telling family and friends that I was flying out to Washington for a gig. Turns out this was a bit misleading.  We played a short, 8-song set for a small group of friends.  We had maybe 20 people watching us play (and partaking in snacks and drinks in the green room)  in the live room at Ghost Train studios.  As I was to learn later, the main objective was to get high quality footage of us playing live.  This was quite a production.  A temporary sound and video station consisting of multiple computers, monitors and boards was set up in the unfinished control room.  Two professional quality cameras (the guy in charge of filming does media for Microsoft) were used in filming: one was mounted on a tripod on a riser at the back of the room; the other was a roaming camera that was all up in our faces as we played.  The director monitored the video from inside the control room, issuing directions to the camera men via headsets.  There was a direct feed from all instruments to a mixing panel that in turn was recording all channels onto a computer.  I will say that our performance was good but not flawless.  I'm guessing that the live footage will be edited with a previously recorded track.  We'll see.  I'm pretty excited - it should look great (although the roaming camera man told me I had a booger hanging out of my nose at one point).  You can be sure I'll post about it when the video is available.
  • From a performance standpoint, we've had to really remind ourselves that evolving into a band that can fill clubs is a process.  Bear in mind this is only the 6th time we've played in front of anyone.  In this regard, we've remarkable progress, especially since we haven't played together in about a year.  For myself, my playing got much better and fast.  I had so much fun.  I am excited about playing bass again.  The principal concern now is - as it always seems to be after these trips - how to keep the momentum going after playing so hard for five days.
  • We'll probably be doing our next show here in Indiana.  The band (and manager) have been very sensitive to the needs of my family, and they accommodate me whenever they can.  Playing here in Indiana is a meaningful gesture and takes less of a toll on my family life.  Of course, I'll let you know the specifics of that gig once we have something set up and confirmed.
I think that about covers it.  Without going into too much detail, I will say that I went into this trip with a lot of trepidation (to put it mildly).  I left excited about what might be for this band if we just keep at it.

* - the fourth picture down is the view I woke up to every morning.  Heavenly.
Other Trowar links:
Here's one, here's one, here's one, and yet another, and another.

Jay Smooth On The Politics Of Respectibility

From the super incredible Sociological Images blog - (seriously: check it out and be enlightened.  It provides the much needed perspective that the 24-hour news cycle won't give you.):
"What exactly will happen, he asks, if Black men pull their pants up?  Affordable housing? Well-funded schools? Job opportunities? What is this politics really about?  Our shame, internalized racism, and sense of helplessness, he says."

Trowar update forthcoming. . . .