Monday, November 30, 2009

LA Opera to Perform The Complete Ring Cycle

I got the envelope in the mail and I didn't believe it. I read the whole thing and I didn't believe it. I looked it up online and I didn't believe it. I just wrote the title of this Blog and I don't believe it. LA Opera is going to perform the entire Ring Cycle next year. Cheapest non-obstructed tickets run a mere $350 per tutti. That's $87.50 per show to sit in the balcony for four of the longest operas in the history of western music. Der Ring Des Nibelungen is certainly not the most popular of works in the world, especially among Jewish communities including Israel where Richard Wagner's works have been unofficially banned since 1938. If you are unfamiliar then let me explain that Wagner, though dead before the rise of Hitler and the Third Reich, was a relentless anti-semite and a boyhood hero of Adolf's. As a child Hitler was brought to a performance of Siegfried and the anti Jewish sentiments had a profound effect on him. Studying Wagner's Operas as well as his writings on political, dramatic, social, literary, and artistic themes reveals a man who turned against former heroes when he was criticized for copying them and then in turn denounced these men (Meyerbeer, and Carl Maria Von Weber among them) as being poor composers and lacking national roots and identity stemmed from being Jewish. His essay Das Judentum in der Musik was originally released under a pseudonym and later under his real name in the mid-nineteenth century and pushed an already existent anti-semetic sentiment among some of his contemporaries and colleagues in music as well as other prominent fields of political and social media. Hitler would eventually claim that Wagner's music was a symbol of the best of Aryan and German culture and even use Wagner's "The Flight of the Valkyrie," as the anthem of his Third Reich. Many today still have trouble separating the evil thoughts and senitments of Wagner from his works and contributions to music, art, drama, and later film. It is certainly understandable that Jewish people from all countries around the world still shun the performance of his works at weddings-where one of the most common songs to date is Wagner's wedding march from the opera Lohengrin, which you know as "Here comes the bride, all dressed in white..."- and certain locations of religious importance including synagogues and obviously the holy land. Even this very performance was fought against at the highest levels of Los Angeles' local government by appointed officials who believe strongly against some of the themes in these works and Wagner's post-mortem ties to one of the most infamous atrocities known to the western world. I, for one, believe as many musical and artistic scholars do, that the works must be judged separately from their author and that the effect Wagner's introduction of the music drama (a complete stage play in which the music serves only to push the drama and conforms to said drama and not the other way around as in earlier Italian and French Operas and more akin to the common movie score today) and the leitmotif (a short musical signature assigned to a character and/or theme of the drama made common by Wagner in works like "The Ring" and pushed to the forefront of movie scores by John Williams with his theme music for characters like Darth Vader and Indian Jones) is of utmost importance to the history of western music and makes his crowning work a must see this coming year. I also believe that any person who considers seeing this masterwork should have knowledge of the ties to Germany's National Socialist (Nazi) Movement and Adolf Hitler and the literature on this performance, work, and composer, should educate possible audience members on both the negative and positive aspects help within both the man and his work. The German Romantic Opera is a staple of Wagner's, which he developed through Lohengrin, Tannhauser, Tristan und Isolde, and then perfected in the last of the four operas within the Ring Cycle known as Gotterdamerung (The Twilight of the Gods). To see a Wagner Opera is a long and sometimes overbearing experience. To sit through all four of these works in one weekend will take an audience of a certain pedigree and I am positive that I will be among the few who sit through the entire show every night. The Ring of the Nibelungs is based on stories from Norse legends and contains a ring fashioned by a gnome out of special Rhinegold and later cursed by Wotan, king of the gods, to bring misery and death to its wearer. These Norse legends were also loosely adapted by an author you may have heard of known as J.R.R. Tolkien. LA Opera's director Placido Domingo has commissioned Achim Freyer to design and direct the stage production along with James Conlon conducting the orchestra and these three men along with the supremely top notch players from the LA Opera and the cast make this one of the most highly anticipated productions of this closing decade. All of this splendor along with the fact that LA is also hosting an entire Ring festival including literary, musical, artistic, and political discussions of the work in various contexts throughout historical and contemporary society make this author a bit anxious. The education I called for earlier will certainly be available through lectures and presentations that will take place in venues including The Walt Disney Concert Hall, American Jewish University, Mount St. Mary's College, The Museum of Contemporary Art, and many more. There is simply too much to consider, but this also makes for so much to be excited for. For more information check:   and/or  LA Opera.... This article contains paraphrased factual information from the History of Wetern Music by Donald J. Grout and Claude V. Palisca and insight derived from the author's studies of Wagner and German Mythology while both an undergraduate and graduate student of music at the University of California, Santa Barbara and San Diego State University. Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Concert Review: Fanfarlo and Freelance Whales @ The Echo Last Night

I heard about it,  read up and listened, posted about it, and went. Where in the deuce were YOU at, buddy? Freelance Whales of New York opened for Fanfarlo of Great Britian at The Echo last night and it was an entertaining affair. Let's start with negative points for both bands. "Hey kids! You have thousands of dollars worth of keyboards, drums, guitars, banjos, and all other kinds of instruments on stage! Invest a hundy or two and buy a real set of orchestral bells!!!! You are playing a part of a $75 dollar junior-high percussion set that also includes a book, sticks, a snare drum, and a snare stand." Also, I hate to be such a percussionist, but if you are going to switch off who plays them every song you might think about at least one of you learning how to play them and what kind of mallets you should use. It sounds like crap. Despite these feelings, however, I must admit that when the lovely female member of Freelance Whales was playing a sixteenth-note pattern on the bells with her right hand and producing the bass line with hammer-ons and slides with her left I was impressed. Ok. Other than that the bands were both fun and the sound was similar, but obviously more polished with the headliner. Fanfarlo is an interesting group of chaps and one lass who dress up in stripes and flannels buttoned all the way up and look like they are posing in an old west photo booth at Disneyland. They are a six piece unit, but when they break it down to just the main singer/songwriter and the female vocalist and violin/multi-instrumentalist it makes for some of the best moments. In particular, the second to last song of the set was really beautiful with just guitar and their two-voice harmony. The music is all rich in texture with a range of instruments including trumpet, keyboards, mandolin, violin, extra drums, melodica, clarinet, bells (obviously), and the nearly always present bass and drums. Having a group of multi-instrumentalists is very much the basis of their sound and with the exception of the glockenspiel, which I have perhaps over-killed, the switching of instruments and textures works very well. The grooves range from country-stomps to more upbeat 6/8 twirlers, but remain relatively focused around an indy-rock vibe in the southern/country-rock vain. I still think they sound like Neutral Milk mixed with Andrew Bird, but the American influences of groups like The Band, Crosby, Stills..., Little Feat, etc., are laced throughout. Good times and catchy chants, sorry you missed, but that's why you read this....right? Hello? Anyone?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Research on Musical Gestures and their Effects on Audience Perception

There is an extremely enlightening article in the latest edition of Percussive Notes (The Journal of the Percussive Arts Society) about the use of gestures and their effect on the Audience's perception of acoustic properties. Basically, studies have been done at Northwestern University in Illinois that prove that while gestures don't change the acoustic value of notes they do change the audience's perception of the notes. Bachelor of Music students who are not percussionist's were subjected to an experiment in which they watched and listened to the striking of single marimba notes with different attack and release gestures (Short vs. Long). Though the students were told to ignore the gestures they were ultimately unable to. The subjects were also informed that what they watched and the sound that they heard may have been mixed up from actual performances (which they sometimes were....though the sounds are acoustically identical whether the gesture is long or short...) and that they were therefore expected to judge only the length of the note based on aural perception. The data shows that the long gestures produced the perception of much longer notes to the young musicians. Pretty interesting stuff, which personally makes me wonder about the effects of the same test given to average audience members. Would the lines drift much further?
The effect is compared in the article to optical illusions such as the Ebbinghaus Illusion (shown above) or the Muller-Lyer Illusion, which famously trick the mind into thinking that two objects are different in size based on their individual surroundings when in fact they are identical. The author then goes even deeper into the mixing and matching of human senses to create our overall perception referencing surround-sound movie theaters and multiple scholarly articles on cognition, musical perception, and percussion performance. The findings show that whether the gestures actually change the sound or not, they do change the audiences perception greatly and therefore should be considered in performance practices. So, yes, Pete Townshend is a freakin' genius....

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fanfarlo @ The Echo this Monday, 11/23

I'm currently listening to a tasty cover of "In the Aeroplane over the Sea," the third cover I have watched from the Fanfarlo myspace page. The indie-rock boy wizard, my roommate Jon, turned me on to this band and their upcoming show at the Echo this coming Monday. I believe it came up during a conversation on how the hell to stand out in this age of blog madness and ten-second singles. Jon mentions that Fanfarlo hand out those plastic tubes, which when swung in a circle over your head create a strange whistle-hum similar to Jim Carrey's tractor-beam noise made by his mouth in Dumb and Dumber. "Sucked me right in..." The band hands these out to the crowd and then everyone joins-in creating a collective whoomph whilst Fanfarlo plays the next number. Sounds cool to me. So being a good little music blogger I read up and listen and so far I'm interested. Their songs sound a bit like Neutral Milk mixed with someone a little wimpier, say Andrew Bird. Their "Diary," is really cool. I read the top installment about touring Europe andthen launching right into a US tour with a ridiculously large trailer. I'm into these bands that Beavis and Butthead would have called "college music..." You know, intelligent musicians who read books (I know, crazy right?) and right poetic lyrics and paste them on the type of rich musical textures, which only multi-instrumentalists could create. Look out for the review or else I'll see you at the gig.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Movie Review: Control (2007)

Control is a movie about the tormented life of Ian Curtis, lead singer of the band Joy Division. The film was released in 2007 and directed by Dutch director Anton Corbijn. Control saw some critical acclaim in Europe, winning a few awards at the Edinburgh Film Festival including; "Best actor," Sam Riley, and "Best new British film." It also received brilliant reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone, Maxim, The Guardian, and Rogert Ebert. What's more important and a little surprising is that the surviving members of the band approved of the movie; claiming that it certainly wasn't one hundred percent factual, but that it was more so than 24 Hour Party People and that "you could tell that Anton knew us, and he knew us well..." (Peter Hook). Another cool fact about this movie learned from the IMDB page is that the actors learned to play the songs and all of the live footage of the band is actually the actors playing the tunes and not them faking to some tape. Not many music biopics can say that, my friends. The movie is black and white, which adds to the "authentic" feeling and it is shot beautifully, it is moving, and funny, and sad, and keeps you locked in for the entire two hours. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves music or film.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Twitter me This......

Twitter? Hello? Why must you make me feel so old? I keep asking Obama if he can help a brother out and tell me how to use this thing. I think I may have hooked my Blog up to it at this point and this post is kind of just to check. You can follow me on there @lefshodrummer if you do that kind of thing. I'm following people like Rob Corddry, Questlove, Pitchfork, Mr. Obama himself, and San Francisco mayor and possibly soon to be Governor of California, Gavin Newsome. See ya 'round....

Monday, November 9, 2009

RVOW: Taj Mahal's 1968 self-titled Debut

For this week's "Random Vinyl," I am spinning Taj Mahal's 1968 self titled debut. If you love the blues or even just rock-and-roll you will dig this record "top left to bottom right."

Taj Mahal was born in Harlem in 1942. His father was a pianist and arranger and his mother sang in a local gospel choir. Mahal was raised to be proud of his heritage; having parents who witnessed first hand the art, prose, poetry, and music, of the Harlem Renaissance. This sense of pride for his West-Indian and African ancestry would prove ever-present in his work as he matured and became one of the most prominent voices in blues music; eventually melding it with the likes of gospel, funk, rock, reggae, and Caribbean music.
On his self-titled debut, under his stage name, which he took around 1961 at the age of 19, we hear what the average listener today might call 'classic blues.' The electric blues as played by people like Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, and B.B. King. When Taj Mahal began playing it in 1968, however, it wasn't so well known and wide-spread. Classic blues was Robert Johnson and Son House and was acoustic. People like the blues legends mentioned above and Taj Mahal (certainly a legend in his own right today) were responsible for plugging-in and electrifying the genre. This album is certainly a classic, though, with tracks like the opening "Leaving Trunk," and "Dust my Broom." Songs that have been endlessly covered, but rarely played with as much grit, emotion, and loose groove as they are represented here on this LP. The most notable musicians on the album other than Mr. Fredericks are Charles Blackwell (Drums) and Ry Cooder (Guitar), but I prefer the description of the group quoted from Taj Mahal himself on the back of the sleeve: "We got a pretty tight band here, though-a son of a Texas sharecropper, a Hungarian Jew, a wild-eyed Irishman, and a crazy swamp Spade...(playing) Blues-rock-gospel-Country-funk. Screamin' and Singin'." Its hard to argue that last sentiment. They are definitely screamin' and singin' on "E Z Rider," a classic blues tale of lost love, and on the album's closing track, one of my personal favorites, "The Celebrated Walkin' Blues," which features Mahal playing some tasty slide guitar and, of course, his signature blues harp.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Run Home Charlie has 7 Confirmed Dates before the Holidays and more to come!!!

Run Home Chalie played the Terrace in Pasadena last night and the set was about as good as this young band gets. The next show at the Terrace is scheduled for Tuesday, November 17th and will include some new material with a high possibility of Mr. Tom Newbold's vocal debut with this group. One of our newest tracks is set to have call and response between Samantha and I and it is pretty much finished, but we are polishing it up and preparing to unveil it along with one other finished song in the mix. The two new tracks are posted on the myspace.... rough demo one and two, but the full vocal arrangements are soon to follow. Other upcoming shows include a date in Santa Monica and two at the famous Di Piazza restaurant in Long Beach in December. We will be adding more and each show is better than the last so please come check us out, you won't regret it, my friends.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Vampire Weekend’s California Tour is a Hot Ticket and a Great Show

Vampire Weekend is currently on a California tour to promote their new Album, Contra, due out January 12th here in the states. I caught up with these cats in Long Beach last night and the show was on hit. If you like polished bands that sound like the record then this is your band for sure...

So...Vampire Weekend is one of those bands that is insanely huge on blogs like Pitchfork, the Hype Machine, and magazines like Rolling Stone, etc. Bands always come around that just make journalist get all warm and fuzzy and nothing done by such a band could change that fact once the train leaves the station. Vampire Weekend seems to be one of these bands. They are total music nerds who met at Columbia University and borrow from genres that you don’t know so you think that they are the most original thing you’ve ever heard. Well, to me, this is what its all about. Study up on all kinds of music and know exactly what you are borrowing from where and why you are doing so. Then mix and match them and put your style into it and it becomes your “own thing.” Vampire Weekend has done a good job of mixing genres and their music has enough elements to keep it different from the norm here in the US without ever straying from the fact that they are insanely pop and pop only. are they live? Brilliant. They sound great. Very tight. The drummer, Chris Tomson, has tons of energy and plays with a percussionist’s sense of musicality. (He also came out sporting a 90’s, Chris Webber, Warriors jersey, which basically gave me an instant bias that these guys were tight.) Chris Baio, bass, had solid energy and undeniable groove. The keyboard/guitar man, Rostam Batmanglij, plays the bulk of the ear candy and seems to be musical director. The front man, Ezra Koenig, sings great. He goes for all of the big notes just like the record and plays all of the licks note for note like the record and he dances and woos the girls in the front with his 15-year-old-boy face. Pretty much all you could ask for from a pop band. If you like the first record you’ll love the show and the second record sounds like it’s going to be a little different, but just as good.

RVOW: Elvis Costello’s 1982 Record; Imperial Bedroom

Random Vinyl of the Week is a new installment on the NewbLog. The first record re-visited was Warren Zevon’s Excitable Boy, from 1978. This week I am spinning Elvis Costello’s 1982 release, “Imperial Bedroom,” which peaked at #30 in the U.S. charts and hit #6 in the U.K....

In 1982 Elvis Colstello teamed up with Geoff Emerick, engineer from Abbey Road studios and thus veteran of nearly every Beatles session post 1965, to record an album that was marketed with a single word: “Masterpiece?” Many didn’t feel that Imperial Bedroom was a masterpiece right away, but it did receive some great press including great reviews from Rolling Stone, The New Musical Express, and the Village Voice. Costello was starting to act more and more like the Elvis we know today, polite, witty, access-able, and less like the angry stand-offish “punk” who tore through the states with his entourage beating back reporters and photographers (literally) just a few years prior. The album’s peak track is generally considered to be “Man out of Time,” which I admit is the one I cued the needle up to for about two weeks after first buying this LP. “....And In Every Home,” might be my current favorite, however, with the full orchestral scoring of Steve Nieve; complete with brilliant fanfares and string flourishes. This album is a beauty and is also claimed to be the first album where Costello branched into too many genres on one record to capture the full “popular” audience and thus pleased the die-hards and buffs more than the masses. The b-side ballads including “Boy with a Problem,” and “Town Cryer,” certainly contribute to said sentiment and also help round out this effort. The album’s most memorable refrain, however, might belong to the song “Pidgin English,” on which Costello explains that: “There are Ten Commandments of Love.”
Imperial Bedroom definitely represents the era it was made in and certainly sounds more like a “Beatles-esque,” record than any of his previous releases, but it is still distinctly Elvis and possibly a Masterpiece. Most artists would easily boast it as their proudest effort, but Elvis has a few wall-to-wall ear-magic endeavors. It has certainly withstood the test of time- which cannot be said of many records from 1982- listed as number 166 in 2003’s “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” by Rolling Stone.

Monsters of Folk Put on Quite a Show at the Greek last Sunday

I feel pretty lucky to have seen some awesome “big ticket,” shows in the last couple of weeks. Pearl Jam with Ben Harper and a guest appearance from Chris Cornell was a high powered anthem-fest and last Sunday’s Monsters of Folk show at the Greek was a display of top notch songwriting and vocal harmonies...

Sunday’s Monsters of Folk concert at the Greek Theater was definitely worth the high priced seats my girlfriend Adrienne bought for my birthday. We we’re toward the front of the middle section and the show was one that kept us glued to the chair with our mouths shut. The concert, to my delight, was run like a musical revue not unlike the Bob Dylan 1975-76 tour entitled the Rolling Thunder Revue. The musicians all started out together playing a few of the tunes from the new cd, but then the lineup broke down to just M. Ward for two songs off of his last record played solo. Then some duets with Oberst and eventually built back up to everyone on stage again. Oberst was next to have a solo moment in which he played the famous “We are nowhere, and its now,” off of Bright Eyes’ I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, album from 2005. The track was dedicated to all the touring musicians in the crowd including his friends from Rascal Flatts whom he “put on the list.” Again the other members of the Monsters of Folk touring band came out one by one as songs built back up before coming down a third time for Jim James’ solo section, which also indcluded some great renditions of tunes recorded by his brilliant and honest band, My Morning Jacket.
The musicianship award is a tie on this concert and goes to Mike Mogis and M. Ward. Mogis showed his value as a sideman and producer by adding color and skillful picking to every song whether it be on electric, pedal steel, mandolin, or bass guitar. He also played some important percussion additions including a tasty little triangle lick on one of the full band tunes. M. Ward’s solo tunes showed off his wonderful finger picking skills and use of open tunings akin to the style of Leo Kottke and his contemporary, Ward’s hero, John Fahey. Mr.’s Ward and Oberst also played some piano and organ on a few of the more rocking tunes fu;; band tunes showing versatility. Conner Oberst seemed to be the leader of this outfit if you had to put a C for captain on someone’s shirt like a football team, but he, M. Ward, and Jim James all shared the lead role smoothly and harmonized behind each other’s tunes beautifully. The singing award has to go to James with his lovely highs and wide range soaked in insane amounts of reverb, as always, and hauntingly beautiful.
The songwriting and singing on the new album made this a highly sought after ticket for anyone who picked it up in time or is familiar with these three gentlemen’s catalogues. I usually adhere to the superstition of not listening to the record of a band on the way to that same band’s show, but I wanted Adrienne to get another run through and had no fears that M.O.F. would not live up to their first formal release as a group. I was not let down. Considering the mixture of outside and new material I was most thoroughly impressed with the fact that even the songs I didn’t know were too intriguing to step away from and kept me from ever getting up for snacks or beer. The only constructive criticism I felt was that some of the “rocked out” songs seemed a little corny next to the serene acoustic ones. It was cool for them to get louder, but the overdone girations seemed a little ridiculous at times. Overall, the concert was definitely top quality and these gents deserve more than the cult followings they each respectively have. Well done sirs.

RVOW: 1978's Excitable Boy, by Warren Zevon

Random Vinyl of the Week is a new installment to the NewbLog that will look back at miscellaneous titles as they spin around my $99 dollar Newmark belt-drive turntable. The first album up for discussion has been stuck on said record player since I picked it up for $1.99 at Soundsations in Westchester a few weeks back...

Warren Zevon is probably most widely known for a track on the first side of this LP entitled “Werewolves of London,” with its catchy piano riff and some of the best lines in Rock-and-Roll history. These lines include, but are certainly not limited to: “Little old lady got mutilated late last night...” and “I saw a werewolf drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s... and his hair was perfect.” Other gems on Excitable Boy are the title track, “Roland, the Headless Thompson Gunner,” and “Lawyers, Guns, and Money.” The album also has some great rock ballads including the brilliant “Accidentally Like a Martyr,” where the songwriter laments that “The hurt gets worse and the heart gets harder...” Zevon writes touching ballads and slots them next to tales of the darkest characters in both serious and humorous fashion in his records, not unlike contemporary Tom Waits, but without purposefully destroying his voice for the sake of his characters. Instead Zevon often juxtaposes the seedy tales next to bouncy music and always retains the warm baritone colors of his vocal timbre. He is known as a brilliant song writer among music critics and buffs, but is still mainly a cult figure in popular music history. Whether this is due to his personal character or the sordid themes he consistently returns to is debatable, but it is probably a mixture of the two. I am but a young buck who has loved Zevon since studying “Carmelita,” in a songwriting class taught by Dr. Clark at Santa Barbara City College just before Zevon was diagnosed with cancer and had a resurgence at the beginning of this decade before sadly passing in 2003. So... for more on Zevon pick up “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead,” by Crystal Zevon or for a more in depth look at Excitable Boy and Zevon’s self titled release of two years prior see Eric’s Music Ramblings and Indie Musings...

Internet Radio is big and Slacker has features that Trump Pandora

Slacker is a internet radio station similar to Pandora or based out of Rancho Bernardo in north San Diego County. The difference? Slacker has about 3 million songs in their database vs. the mere 700,000 on Pandora. There is an article in today’s issue or USA Today about the growing site...

Pandora is a cool site and I know a lot of people love to turn it on at work or punch in an artist and let it ride during dinner parties, but I have been drawn to for scrobbling and itunes library coordination. USA Today reported today about this smaller company from San Diego called Slacker, which has a lot in common with both Pandora and, but boasts a huge library and is available for free on BlackBerry. I’m listening to Devendra Banhart radio on Slacker right now and they have Smokey Rolls Down Thunder Canyon, which is very diverse and could stand on its own, but they also have Nino Rojo and probably more. The similar artists seem just as on point as Pandora’s, including Elliott Smith, Iron and Wine, Deer Tick, and Cat Power, yet Tim Westergen, founder of Pandora, claims the man hours involved in matching artists put a cap on his library at 700,000. Well Boo friggin’ hoo. Slacker seems worth checking out so I downloaded it for my BlackBerry... Other features include user suggestions of songs or artists for stations and the ability to save stations to your SD card for listening on airplanes or areas with no service in case you have T-Mobile. At this point I still sing praises for and for switching it up on these services from time to time, but we will see if Slacker has take-over power. The USA Today article wont tell you that they have commercials every ten songs or so, but adverts make the money honey. If you want to pay a little they can make that go away. I’ll just wait my thirty seconds and enjoy my fee stream...

180-Gram Vinyl Re-Release of AeroPlane, Avery Island Available 11/3...

Merge is about to re-release In the Aeroplane over the Sea and On Avery Island on 180-Gram Vinyl for all of the Neutral Milk freaks out there. This band is hauntingly weird and great. After reading the chapter on the group in Merge’s “Our Noise” I am tempted to scrap writing this entry...

Jeff Magnum was completely unknown to me last week. To the scores of blog freak indie-music junkies out there this is undoubtedly blasphemy to admit, but its true. My roommate is a bit of an indie music encyclopedia compared to me and he left this book on our living room table the other day. Our Noise: “The Story of Merge Records...The Indie Label that got big and stayed small.” To be honest the only things that I knew about in this book were Ryan Adams, who wrote the introduction, and Arcade Fire, who fill the last chapter. I had heard some Superchunk on the Drunkard and other music blogs and thought the tracks were great, but never pursued them further. To be further honest, I really don’t know jack about either of the other two acts either-other than the fact that my friend Elliott Randal (great bay area singer/songwriter currently touring) loves Ryan Adams, and that Adams toured with Phil Lesh and was a drunken mess who didn’t care about fame or showing up to the gig!! and that he supposedly openly hates one of my favorite singer/songwriters, Jeff Tweedy. I also have heard about five of his songs, which apparently is exactly one percent of the songs he churns out per year. I did like them, though, wide range of styles with a fair amount of my dear country-roots-rock-alt.-whatever you want to call it, and I could care less if he hates Jeff Tweedy because good music is good music and Adams sounds like a working class rock and roller through and through from the sources I’ve talked to. Arcade Fire, eh....I’d heard the name and graded some reports on them, but couldn’t tell you anything about them.
So...I read the intro by Adams and was immediately thrown into the world of Merge. I wanted to know more!! I wanted to find a 7” at my local record store and I did. I wanted to have been there from the start, but it was impossible. So...I excitedly asked my roommate, Jonny Boy, who writes a damn good tune himself, about Merge and who else got to have that label on their records. He shoots a sly sideways glance and hands me In the Aeroplane over the Sea. For me, the album is great right away. Simple I-IV-V harmonies put together with a harmonic rhythm that make them sound new for an instant. The vocals seemed a little strange to me the first time through, but the lyrics were instantly spellbinding. I found myself scanning back... What did he just say? Forks and pianos filled with flames? Does this make sense or is it just poetically confusing enough to make you listen. The second time through I was reading the lyrics as they were half belted, half sung, half yelled (YEAH, THERE’S 3 HALVES). This is a good record (Understatement). One of those records that I know many people wouldn’t get if I gave it to them. It would be like trying to tell people who have never listened to Tom Waits how great Rain Dogs is. That it is a desert island record that I can’t live without. Trust me, I try all the time and watch their faces drop when I press play. They to sit through it and sink back into their crap first-impression records that flash by faster than Usain Bolt with a rocket up his keister. Polished up turds with “this second” styled characters on the cover designed to hit the top and disappear. And they always succeed. Meanwhile...
Aeroplane is a record that one has to want to discover. At least on some level. You have to decide for yourself if it is crap or brilliance. I’ve made my decision and I’ve bought On Avery Island and I think it is damn good, too. I listened to it while I read the Neutral Milk Article in the Merge book, which I also highly recommend. The chapter on this band alone is worth the cover price. These guys meant it when they said they were wearied by the lure of the real world and the business of music. The last line of the chapter is a small quote from Magnum’s email reply to an inquiry about interviewing for the book, which he humbly and graciously denied. The email ends: “It gladdens me to see that it’s the human labels like Merge who are fully alive in this moment, while the giants of the music industry are all eating shit. May it forever be so.” The two full length LPS on Merge are so rough and raw yet ordered and cohesive, too. I pre-ordered Aeroplane on vinyl and will forever search my record stores for more 7” presses from the early days of Merge. I would kill to be on this label.

Two More Chances to See Ben and Pearl Jam At the Gibson...

Seeing Pearl Jam with Ben Harper and the Relentless 7 as the opening act at the Gibson Theatre this next week will be phenomenal. Period. Guaranteed. DUH. Don’t trust me! Read reviews from the first two shows. It is obviously sold out and if you’ve ever seen Pearl Jam then you know that seeing them in a venue with seats is key. Why?....

If you have ever seen Pearl Jam live then you know why seats are key. The fans are ridiculous. They will pack like sardines, NO. Like a 350 pound person into an extra small pair of spandex shorts!! toward the stage and all the way back. Last time I saw the boys was in San Francisco at Bill Graham Auditorium with their always rocking heros Sonic Youth as the openers on the tour to support Pearl Jam also known as the Avocado Album. They must have sold a thousand extra tickets to this show because you couldn’t even move in there. My friend literally had to urinate in a bottle mid show because he couldn’t and didn’t dare move away from his spot near the front. My buddy got sick and we had to move toward the back...Done-zo. We even tried to move up to the balcony, but the Ten Club members looked like killers as we considered squeezing in to the farthest corners of the place. These kids are hard core!!! And they aren’t even kids anymore.
If you love Pearl Jam then chances are you like Ben Harper at least a little. Ben’s cover of “Indifference,” has always been a favorite of mine and his passion makes me put it right there with the original. Ben also comes out to sip wine and duet the song with the boys often, which is captured in the groups Madison Square Garden DVD from a few years back. Ben’s new band is cool and the album has its ups and downs, but he is a brilliant performer and has never let me down. I used to have a bit of an obsession with the Lap Steel chops and have seen him somewhere in the teens times so trust me when I say HE HAS NEVER LET ME DOWN. ALWAYS A GOOD SHOW. BRING YOUR GIRL AND WATCH HER HEART SWELL AND BREAK AND THEN REPEAT.
So...apparently the new album is number one and everyone is going nuts over it, which makes me laugh because their last album, Pearl Jam, was JUST AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER, but no one cared because they were too busy yucking it up over the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s double album, which sucked. “ Hey Dudes! How many different songs can we write where we rhyme words with California? Hey, I got an idea...Let’s do all of the states!!” Yip. E. No one listened while I constantly shot it down and pumped Pearl Jam. Now here we are a few years later and PJ still rocks and their new album picks up where the Avocado left off and everyone is peeing themselves all over again. Well, I’m happy for the boys because they definitely deserve it. Keep rocking Pearl Jam and I will keep listening and I suggest you try to score some tix to the shows if you read this mama. See you on StubHub...

Blues Traveler Reviewed: 09/20 Mystic Petaluma

Delayed Post... I saw Blues Traveler at my hometown venue, The Mystic Theatre, in downtown Petaluma, CA on Sunday the 20th. This was the second time I’ve seen Blues Traveler in the last couple of years-I caught them at the Fillmore in ’06- and I have to say that they are a still a great bar band...

Ok. So this is a review/story of a band that is still a working class group of true rock and rollers. I will admit that I am slightly biased due to the fact that I recorded my first rock EP at Santa Barbara Sound Design right around the same time that John Popper and his crew recorded their album Truth be Told at said studio. My buddy Adam is the son of Dominic Camerdella, owner and head engineer at SBSD and we got a chance to hang a bit with the boys and they were all down to earth and cool. That album has some great tunes on it, which I may have missed if I wasn’t at the right place at the right time. Flash forward, now its ‘09 and Blues Traveler still hasn’t had a hit since Kingpin came out in 1996. WHO CARES!!! Did these guys ever want to have a big album? I’m sure they’ve always wanted to make good cash doing what they do and why shouldn’t they, but I don’t think they give a rat’s whether or not every song they write is a “Hook,” or a “Runaround.” Is playing huge arenas even more fun than playing bars and theaters? These guys are a tight blues band with a seriously talented front-man who writes great lyrics (not 100% of the time, but the dude has some serious heavy hitters that you don’t hear on the radio) and plays blues harmonica with the best of all time.
So...They came to the Mystic Theatre and I must say I was again impressed with their ability to just stick with their roots and guns and play some groovin’ blues and hard hitting rock. Being that Petaluma is a small town and every local knows just about every other local, I chatted with my friend who is in charge of booking and business on the venue side of all things McNears/Mystic. She let me in the some interesting knowledge about the band. First off, they were expensive...Mystic pays more, we pay more, fine. They had some hits and benefit from those songs fourteen years later, cool, no biggie. My roommate is playing with Naked Eyes right now!! (Look them up, 80’s, you’ll know the song, still getting paid) At least they happily played them all and the crowd loved it. The good stuff....She told me that Popper and the crew required different items then most big acts that come through. Most traveling bands are tired and on the road for long stretches and therefore require healthy food and refreshing items in their greenroom. No. Popper requires fried food, squeezable tubes of mayonnaise AND miracle whip and insane amounts of alcohol. They also require more alcohol on stage in the form of a bottle of Grey Goose, a bottle of Crown, and a full cooler of beers. This is on top of the fact that Popper turns around to smoke and entire cigarette to his face about every THREE songs.
Some people live and breathe rock and roll and others just want nothing more than to kill themselves slowly through their vices. Rarely, there are those that contain both qualities. They’re usually dead by now, though. Sure Popper had his stomach surgery, but I’m pretty sure his doctors would disagree with his current lifestyle...
They came out, Popper said “Let’s Boogie,” and they did. Until they were coerced off stage after an aggressive cover of Cheap Trick’s “I want you to want me.” Other notables included all of their four hits “Mountains,” “Runaround,” “Hook,” and “But Anyway,” and Popper’s insane version of “Devil went down to Georgia,” which has made many a kid sacrificially burn their fiddle and beg god for forgiveness.

Cass McCombs in Hipster Heaven on 9/10

Cass McCombs is an entertaining singer/songwriter with an old-time quality to his recordings and performances. A little rock-a-billy/alternative country is what I would label it if I worked for Rolling Stone. I caught his current band at The Bootleg in Phillipino Town last Thursday...

My roommate hooked me up with his extra ticket after someone bailed on what turned out to be a great show last Thursday night. Cass McCombs is one of those bands that plays in older styles without hitting you over the head with it or making you feel that you’re listening to some b.s. retro band. Genres that came to mind were rockabilly, alt. country, and pop rock in the vein of what is now called “classic rock.” The band was far from stellar and the sound was mashed all against the plywood walls of a theater that made me feel like I was back in Petaluma at someone’s barn party, but the group was undoubtedly a solid unit. The two best musicians seemed to be the drummer and McCombs although the keys were admittedly often lost and the extra guitarist did sound great when he got his chance to shine. The bass player had a Fender rig and matching Jazz that she played with a pick and I will admit that this is favorite tone of mine. A picked Fender jazz through a vintage tube amp with all of its grunt, roundness, and the pick digging the groove like a steam shovel through loose mud. She kept her lines extremely simple and opened things up for everyone else to dance on. This was great for the talented drummer who was able to play loud and outrageous or pick up a shaker and lay an understated accompanyment to her rock-solid foundation. Meanwhile, McCombs’ songwriting and tasty telecaster licks would weave and build underneath his strong lyrics, twangy melodies, and the well-crafted arrangements. The crowd consisted of mostly “beyond hipsters,” who were all wearing their carefully disheveled outfits, sneers, and coke vials. They were also thinning out as the night went on as expressed by Thomas McMahon on L.A. Record:

“Is there a new curfew in effect in L.A.? Young folks were dropping like well-dressed flies out of the Bootleg Theater as Cass McCombs rocked past the midnight mark. By the time he wrapped up his superb set, somewhere around 20 minutes past the hour, it felt like McCombs and crew were playing for a small group of friends in an abandoned building. (The Bootleg actually does look more like an abandoned building than a theater.)”

We were in this last group and perhaps this is why I left with the “Petaluma Barn Party” sentiment...After the show I picked up the new album, Catacombs, and to my delight the standout tunes from the set all seem to be on there.

It Might get Loud Isn’t All that Loud, but its Good

It Might Get Loud is a look at three guitarists from three different eras and their different approaches to said instrument and rock and roll. In my opinion, what makes this movie great is the interaction between Page and White and the looks at each performer in their individual “home” settings.

It might have gotten louder with drums and bass, but this movie was great, nonetheless. Stop hating on the Edge you young punks. He has his insane influence over decades and his own style that has been copied and sold on ten billion records if you count your precious Kings of Leon and Coldplay. Jack White was the main reason I wanted to see this movie. Yes, of course Jimmy Page is a god among these two, but White is the character that I wanted to know more about. I’ve read countless articles and books on Led Zeppelin so I went into the picture basically hoping to learn a little more about Jack White and the Edge. I knew that U2 saw some dark happenings early on with the constant fighting in Ireland and thought there might be some information on or discussion of these events and...There was a small piece on the particular bombing that led up to the composition of Sunday Bloody Sunday, but really just from the standpoint of the Edge seeing this and writing his first song for the band, which was plenty cool. I can watch a U2 documentary for more info on how the turmoil affected the band or read up on it in countless other world news sources. Again, this baby was really supposed to be about guitar, so...
What made this a great movie for me was the different perspectives on guitar and music given by the three guitarists while separate from one another and the inside look at The White Stripes and Jack as a lover of the real blues. The grit and grunt and unpolished beauty of a dog-meat guitar and an out of tune voice being recorded through an old reel to reel in a wooden shed. The information on his childhood and how he came to the guitar was also quite informative and it made him seem like he came from an earlier generation than he does. Definitely a bit old school rock and gospel in this kid. I had a feeling that I was going to like him more after seeing this picture and I definitely do. As a matter of fact I think I’ll pick up Raconteurs record or two.

p.s. Worst version of “The Weight,” I’ve ever heard and I’ve hears some really bad ones. Vocally that is...Page’s solo is great.

Jazz in the Angel City

Angel City Jazz Festival’s second day included some amazing acts including the headlining Bennie Maupin and Dolphyana playing Eric Dolphy charts that were saved and guarded after the artists untimely passing as well as a beautiful set from the Larry Goldings Trio with Bill Stewart (pictured), and Peter Bernstein...

The Angel City Jazz Festival was a two day event that transpired at the Ford Theater in Hollywood this Labor Day weekend. The first day was headlined by Dave Douglas and included among many talented musicians the great Marvin “Smitty” Smith playing drums for the Billy Childs Jazz-Chamber orchestra. I cannot comment on this first day, however, because I was not in attendance. I only managed to catch the first four acts of day two, which included Alex Cline’s band of the Moment, The Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet, The Nels Cline Singers with Jeff Parker of Tortoise, and finally, The Larry Goldings Trio. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t stay for the headliner, but my brother did drive up to go to the show with me and he hung strong for five hours so that I could catch one of my idols, Bill Stewart.
The first three acts were all very entertaining and certainly both of the Cline brothers’ groups came with powerful drumming. First by Alex Cline and then by Scott Amendola of the Nels Cline singers. Alex also came out at the end of his twins’ set to play percussion on a Joe Zawinul fusion number that the composer wrote for Gabor Szabo, which also featured Ron Miles (Wayne Horvitz Gravitas Quartet) on Flugelhorn. Nels Cline’s band also played Ornette Coleman’s “Congeniality,” and had some very interesting conversation between the two guitarists. Meanwhile, the Wayne Horvitz group was a quartet of bassoon, cello, Trumpet/Flugel and Horvitz on piano. This group played some pieces ranging from a third stream vibe with fantastic improvisations from Horvitz and Miles to more early 20th century “classical” style avant guarde pieces with a lot of prepared piano. It was nice to see Horvitz’s relaxed approach to prepared piano; among other things he brought out his wallet to use what were undoubtedly old Blockbuster and Ralph’s club cards to manipulate the timbres of the Baldwin baby grand. Overall, this group was very interesting and definitely fit in with the array of “out” musicians at this event, but some pieces (in particular the ones that had a little more Monk and little less Schoenberg) were certainly more enjoyable and in my mind superior in compositional quality to others.
The Larry Goldings Trio came on stage and seemed to be having some issues with the stage hands/sound men. Bill Stewart in particular seemed to be having problems with the drum kit and also seemed unimpressed with the gentlemen’s ability to fix said issues. This caused the band to start a little late and then eventually be shuffled off stage unexpectedly. They opened with “Asimov,” a tune that I know and love from playing it with Nick Tocco’s band Apropos. This high powered version included some monstrous drumming from Stewart and beautiful soloing from all three of these dynamic musicians. The trio then played “I’m in the Mood for Love,” with Bernstein taking the melody and then comping under a pianissimo Goldings solo before they traded fours with Stewart and the ballad built in a manner reminiscent of Tony Williams or Brian Blade exploding over the top of a Wayne Shorter ballad before bringing it back to an almost inaudible volume. The next tune was Goldings’ own “Pegasus,” followed by Sonny Rollins’ “Why Don’t I,” a tune that the trio often plays, but dedicated to the saxophonist and composer’s 79th birthday. The crowd was unleashing screams and hollers during Goldings’ solo, which turned into dead silence and then exclamations of astonishment and primal grunts during Bill Stewart’s display of raw power, unparalleled coordination, and sense of time during his solo, which often referenced and then commented upon the melody of the tune.
The set came to a screeching halt after the next tune, a beautiful ballad which ended on a whisper of a cymbal hit that Stewart performed with his fist. This was just after Bernstein took an extended solo and displayed his always brilliant tone and motivic development and Goldings followed him with a very legato solo that showed off his knowledge of how to tweak the Hammond’s tone and the Leslie’s vibrato and chorus. The band looked shocked when the final note was played and the MC instantly announced their names while the sound men came out and started clearing the stage. I was a little upset, but decided not to focus on this small negative in the midst of so much great music and my first live hearing of this fantastic group.
Then we decided we had to leave and that the 20 minute breaks between every set previous were a little much considering that every band had been ready, but made to wait. My brother still had to drive home and go to work this morning and he is packing to move to the east coast, etc. I was bummed to leave when there was bound to be more great music, but what we did see was great and I would highly recommend going to this festival next year if they can afford to put it on again!

Run Home Charlie Has Started Performing

Run Home Charlie played their debut show at Awakenings Coffee House and music Venue in Lomita, CA, on August 14th. The band headlined a show consisting of three different bands in three different styles ranging from Punk, to Pop, and Run Home Charlie’s vibe of 90’s Alternative music...

I joined up with Run Home Charlie about six weeks ago and have been learning the band’s material as well as helping to shape and trim some of it and starting to help build a new repetoire. The band consists of Christian Liebig on bass, Maxmillion Browne on Guitar, myself on drums, and Samantha Stinger on vocals. Friday’s show consisted of six tunes. Five songs that the two original members, Max and Christian, have played for several years, but which now have new words and melodies written by Sam as well as modified drum parts added by me. We also played one brand new track “Pure,” which Max brought into rehearsal and the band finished just a few weeks ago. Tomorrow, 8/18, Run Home Charlie is heading down to King’s Ransom Records in San Diego to record our first proper demo of two to three tracks in order to polish up the mypace and press materials as well as to start pushing the band to more venues. Christian has thus far worked as the booking agent for RHC and is already planning two confirmed dates as well as two or three additional bookings, which are in the process of confirmation and scheduling for the other members. More pictures from the show and information on the band will continue to appear at and I will continue to post updates and shows both here at and at Thanks, Tommy.

Back in the Saddle

Where You at? The NewbLog has been on an unintentional hiatus due to the fact that my mac hasn’t been connected to the internet for the past few weeks. Oh, the entries that have suffered... The Cave Singers, The Avette Brothers, Pronto. Its’ enough to make this author weep a single tear...

So... After several weeks on hiatus the NewbLog is back and there is a lot to write about so I will just say that I got jerked around by some people who know about as much as I do about computers and call themselves managers at certain stores, which will remain unnamed. Today I went to MacMall and bought what I needed for $30 in about 3 seconds. Thanks, fellas. On with the show!!!!!!!

Mogwai Coming to San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco

Mogwai is bringing their powerful and hypnotizing brand of “Sludge-Rock,” to San Diego May 15th, L.A. May 16th, and finishing the weekend in lovely San Francisco on the 17th. If you haven’t seen these guys, then you need to. Different can definitely equal better.

I haven’t seen Mogwai since they played the Fillmore in 2006. What a great show. I hadn’t ever heard of them, but thought that the name was cool (Gremlins!) and trusted the dudes who recommended the show and were coming with. So.... who are they? They are a kickin’ band from Scotland that plays what my friend Aaron Ryan so eloquently referred to as “Sludge-Rock.” There is something extremely powerful about the super-slow build ups to the loudest and most hard rocking climaxes sixty beats-per-minute has ever heard. Its really hypnotizing. ‘Nuff said, y’all. San Diego, Los Angeles, and then San Francisco. Three fantastic cities, three nights. Bam. I’ve never been to the Grand Ballroom at the Regency Center in San Francisco, but it looks to be a real swank joint and its in the heart of downtown so yeh can’t beat it. Click on the name to peep the virtual tour. The Belly Up in San Diego is one of my favorite venues in the area and the Orpheum in Los Angeles is a marvelous old theatre that has been restored very nicely. So to thee I say, go! Enjoy! I know I will. I’ll be at the Orpheum for sure, so far, and possibly making the trip up to SF (for the sake of the blog of course). Late, New.

I have a Serious Love/Hate Relationship with the Sold Out Dash

I hate to write so many entries on Wilco back-to-back, but the Los Angeles shows I referenced on April 15th went on sale to the general public today and I went into the war with someone else’s rifle (cue the A Major travis-style riff from Being There, disc two)...

Wilco’s upcoming shows in Los Angeles were indeed as anticipated as I predicted in my recent post. After Pomona stayed on sale for a week or so before selling out I thought that maybe the L.A. shows weren’t going to be as hard to score as I had originally thought. Wrong. I checked back to the site only to see that Pomona had sold out and then the pre-sale for the Wiltern sold out in about four minutes. Great. So, I got up this morning at 7a.m. thinking that the 10a.m. opening may be east-coast time even though the site clearly said PDT, then again at 9 a.m. I got some breakfast and then sat at my girlfriend’s computer and opened my windows to attempt to get tickets for both shows simultaneously. When 10 o’clock hit I was ready and logged in to the site already to avoid wasting any time. I went for four tickets right away and was shut down. Then when I re-opened the window I was only able to get one general admission. Then I proceeded to buy four tickets, two for each show, in four separate purchases. Every transaction just kept getting shut down until I finally walked with my four successful scores in four separate areas. WTF! The only time that I was able to get two together the window shut down and then the whole site was unavailable for a few minutes. By the time I got back I had about 35 seconds to finish clicking accept fourteen times to keep the pair, which I obviously lost. I usually love getting up to fight for tickets or stand in line, but this internet thing can really piss one off sometimes. Based on what I heard from other friends it sounds like the computer may have been screwing me, or maybe it was the wireless connection? PCs!!! I don’t know, but I wish I could have just got up early and stood in line somewhere like the old days. I suppose they weren’t selling tics at Tower Records...

The Hype Machine Will Take You Down the Rabbit Hole

Since I am a mere Padawan blogger I have decided to take a moment to show some respect to the websites that I love to check and that inspired me to join in and yell. Hype Machine is featured due to it’s being a link to blogs from all around the world...

This pill requires you to open about fourteen tabs and put on another pot of coffee. The Hype Machine is a fantastic website run by a team of educated cats from around the states (mostly New Yorkers) who scour the web and read and listen and weed out the crap. These guys and gals post their favorites from tons and tons of real music bloggers from all over the world and most posts have multiple tracks. This is including, but not limited to, bootleg concert recordings old, new, and in all styles. The site also has features that you’ve come to know and love from sites like google and twitter, meaning that you can search your artists by name or track and you can follow blogs and other members whose writing/tastes may pique your curiosity. So far, I’ve dug some Ben Harper, featuring John Paul Jones, doing “Dazed and Confused,” some old Nirvana recordings with half committed covers of groups like The Who and The Cars, and am now following multiple blogs including the Analog Arts Ensemble’s (Unofficial) blog, A Deeper Shade of Soul, and Tortured Souls Unite. The music you hear on the Hype Machine can all be scrobbled to you account as well so the possibility to find, hear, and keep listening to great new schtuff is extremely high. The reading is also guaranteed to be good because these people are all journalists, techies, and a&r types, not drummers who proofread their own iweb pages...peep game from the real music nerds...

Ashes is out and its Bad (Yes, as in Good)

Wilco released their new live DVD “Ashes of American Flags” yesterday and its available at their website for a mere $15. Why is this such a great price? On top of being a killer movie with great cinematography it also comes with some extras similar to Jeff’s solo DVD.

I just got through the new Wilco live DVD and I think it is definitely worth the mere $15 beans I threw on it. You can order it from their site for this price, but personally, I wanted to see it like RIGHT NOW so I went down the street to Music Trader in Pacific Beach, CA. The price tag said $17.98, which I was happy to pay because I thank my lucky bingo bic lighter every day that I go to Music Trader and it’s still open for chrissakes’. Anyhow, let’s not go down the dead record store street, a little bird told me Virgin’s going to start closing ‘em down, too, oh well, Amoeba!!! Rasputin!! O.k. backtracking, the price was right for me, but the dudes had a little “this is brand new” discount rocking, which brought it down to the $15 price and saved me the shipping costs.
Yeah, blah, so the DVD is cool and it comes with the same feature that was on the Jeff Tweedy Sunken Treasure release where you can put it in your computadora and download all of the tracks as audio. Wilco always does this!!! Why doesn’t everyone?? Of Course, I want it in my car, too. All of their records have come with downloadable extras! Thanks boys, I really appreciate and I know everyone else does, too. Buy it, go see ‘em, their riding a big ‘ol high and there’s a new album ready to go and soon to be released. Word.

Wilco Running California in June. 22nd and 23rd at the Wiltern, LA

The Chicago based rock band has added dates to surround the Berkeley Greek theatre show on June 27th and will be starting in Pomona and making their way up to Lake Tahoe for a week long California run with five total dates.

The Chicago Alt. Country originator and genre melting singer-songwriter Jeff Tweedy has booked Wilco for a two-night residence at the Wiltern theatre in L.A. on June 22nd and 23rd. As soon as Wilco booked the Berkeley Greek for June 27th buzz began to swirl about the open week before and the possibility of a run through southern California. The fans have been appeased, but check because tickets aren’t on sale just yet. Wilco is touring to support their new DVD “Ashes of American Flags,” which is due out this Friday, April 18th and has already seen great reviews including one from Aquarium Drunkard claiming “Ashes,” contains much better material then the highly acclaimed live record, “Kicking Television.” Wilco in its sextet form of the last several tours complete with Nels Cline, Pat Sansone, and Mikael Jorgensen can handle any size venue and will surely blow the doors off of this intimate venue of only 1850 seats.

No More Traps????!!!!!!!

This entry is in response to the recent letter I received in the mail, which stated that “Traps; The Art of Drumming,” was going to shut down production due to the current economic climate. I opened the envelope prepared to get out the old credit card and pay my bill, only to find...

No more traps??? Please say it isn’t so. Man, I knew that the economy was hurting (believe me, tommy boy is hurting bad right about now and trying to move to the west coast New York ain’t helping), but Traps? Damn. What do I have to look forward to now when I open the mail. Percussive Notes and Traps are the only things in my box that aren’t bills or bad news. The issues that they were able to put out in their short life-span are so fantastic and I will always cherish them, but Traps simply must come back as soon as possible.
I will never forget when I first got my Max Roach issue. I was so happy to be young and educated enough to know that this was a special publication and that I was going to collect the entire catalogue as it came out. I subscribed and prepared to share a long and lovely career together with,, “Percussive Notes,” and “Traps.” I even wrote in to try and help them gain advertisers and Andy Doerscuhuk wrote me back personally to see if my letter could be used in its entirety in their presentation to drum companies. He asked for my picture to accompany it and he promised no one else would ever see it, but I secretly dreamed that they would publish a little thumbnail and excerpt or thank you. Not because I’m arrogant, but just because it would have been so cool to make the pages in any form.
I am really pleased that they are offering back issues to subscribers who have already paid ahead and think I will probably send away to replace my Jeff “Tain” Watts issue because it spent a little too much time on the back of the toilet... No, I’m not disgusting or disrespectful, but I do try to share and my roommate always keeps the john stocked with “Time” and “Downbeat.”
So it is a sad day indeed for drummers and musicians who have witnessed the fantastic features and sections like “Drummer Family Tree,” “Notes on Notes,” and “Dreamkit,” from this fantastic publication. Please come back soon!!

Mitch mitchell (july 4th, 1947-november 12th, 2008)

This is an entry from my myspace blog that I wrote on Satuday, November 22nd after finding out that famous Jimi Hendrix Experience drummer and personal hero of mine, Mitch Mitchell had died ten days before in a hotel room in Oregon, while on a Hendrix band-members reunion tour.

Rest in Peace, Mitch. You were one of the first rock drummers to really practice and work at your craft. Your Jazz influence and explosive playing was a real eye opener to kids who had been listening to Ringo and had never crossed over to hear Max or Philly, etc. To me you were the only fitting drummer for Hendrix. Buddy was cool, but more for his motown voice and the tunes they were doing at the time. Jeanette Kangas once compared you to Elvin saying that after Jimi died other people couldn't really hang with you or maybe didn't want to. You had that driving, over-playing type of style that fit so well with Jimi's mastery like Jones fit with Coltrane, but in other contexts was not quite the same. Some may disagree with this, but I think she was definitely on to something. Maybe you didn't want to play with others because they could never be Jimi... Maybe you just never had the same success with other groups... sort of slipped into Jeff Beck status as a drummer... I've got to try to find the bootlegs of the Jazz fusion project with Jack Bruce and Larry Coryell and see what else there is to hear, but the days of The Experience and the tracks that remain are enough to make you one of the greatest rock drummers on record in my mind. Maybe not the most powerful, but that b.s. is overrated anyhow.


The NewbLog will begin with me talking about some recent musical developments I am involved in. For anyone who may stumble upon this and doesn’t know yet; Tom Newbold Percussion is moving to Los Angeles amidst the worst possible economic climate and with all odds stacked against the young performer, critic, and music educator. Not to worry, as long as the world has artists like Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Wilco, Tom Waits, Charles Lloyd, Pierre Boulez, etc., etc., etc., and the United States has people who care about the arts and respect art’s importance in the world, I will remain painfully optimistic and upbeat. As Jazz legends like Max Roach and Louis Bellson and rock legends like Mitch Mitchell find their way to the great gig in the sky and the youth turn to formats like the one chord rap loop it becomes more and more important for music aficionados and lovers to support real music and fantastic groups that exemplify musicianship, humbleness, and a respect for those that came before and ultimately showed us all the way whether we heard them directly or not. I am currently doing my best to see every show possible, read and contribute to websites, blogs, and music services giving their all to support the arts, and continue to teach aspiring musicians to listen and serve the song. Be on the look out for my upcoming shows with Stunt Double and the new album by The Orphans with myself and Eric Van Amerongen. Thanks.