Tuesday, January 06, 2009
The iPod Thorazine Shuffle
I wish I had a giant iPod wheel on my forehead. Or even one I could just carry in a small, round pillbox. Some kind of wheel that I could turn to administer mood-altering chemicals, complete with a little soft rock. You know, both kinds of feel-good hits.
I'd trace my finger around the wheel and find just the right mood or the right thought or just the right tone of ambivalence for any situation. It would be so cool to be able to simply spin the wheel and say the right thing to anyone. Say exactly what they want to hear without having to think about it at all. All through the magic of uppers, downers, and DRM protected digital media.
Let's say some friend hit me out of the blue with some serious grievances about my current feelings on religion. I'd spin the iPod wheel, drop a Benzodiazepine, and play The Doobie Brothers, singing that "Jesus is Just Alright." And we'd all share the groovy experience provided by my personal iPod Thorazine Shuffle and everybody would be brothers and sisters, man, and all would be groovy.
Or someone else could confess some recent betrayal or deceit that I'd suspected all along and I could spin my iWheel and get a Benzodiazepine hit ... then call up Don Henley's "Heart Of The Matter" and pretty soon the shrunken, aging eco-Eagle would be pontificating about forgiveness: "There are people in your life who've come and gone / They let you down, you know they hurt your pride / You better put it all behind you baby; cause' life goes on / If you keep carryin' that anger, it'll eat you up inside, baby..." Yeah, Don, groove on, groove on, baby. The way you bring that soft rock groove makes me think everything is just oooooooohh kaaaaaaaay. And, well, the Benzodiazepine helps.
How awesome would that be. In the meantime, we'll have to settle for the iTop, a new laptop from apple that lets the machine do even more of the thinking:
A step in the right direction, for sure. The iWheel solves all. It knows all, it is all, the iWheel is the avatar of peace. But we're not quite there yet. Gov't Mule has just the prescription:
"Stand by to stand by,
Ain't no need to worry today.
The (iPod) Thorazine Shuffle gonna make everything OK."
Thursday, August 07, 2008
I went back to UVA Hospital again today. The catheter was taken out. Time to test my bladder again and see if it will do anything remotely similar to what a bladder is supposed to do.
And how much does it suck to have spent the past few months dealing with this mess? It sucks THIS much: Gov't Mule was back in Virginia last weekend and I didn't even know about it. And if I had known about it, with my medical bills I couldn't have afforded to go. And if I could have afforded to go, I would have had a tough time getting through the concert.
That sucks a LOT.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Via MCF: Proust's Questionaire
I feel like blogging, but I don't feel like writing anything about bladder cancer. I'm friggin' SICK of writing about bladder cancer. So I'm going to borrow a page from MCF and answer the questions from the famous Proust Questionnaire:
- 1) What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
If I were to answer this question seriously, I'd say the most miserable thing in the world is the loss of a child. But if I were to answer the question sarcastically, I'd say ... oh, screw it. After bringing up the loss of a child, who can be sarcastic?
- 2) Where would you like to live?
Where I live now. Well, in this state and in this county ... but maybe somewhere more rural.
- 3) What is your idea of earthly happiness?
Spending the day at Busch Gardens Williamsburg with my family.
- 4) To which faults do you feel most indulgent?
Ah, damn. I indulge in a LOT of faults. I'll say I'm most guilty of indulging in compulsive behavior. Anything that can be done compulsively ... smoking, eating, drinking ... I've either done it in the past or still do it today.
- 5) Who is/are your favorite hero/heroes of fiction?
OK, let's see, there's Sam Fisher, Spider-Man, Batman, etc, etc, etc.
- 6) Who are your favorite characters in history?
You know, that really is an odd way to phrase it: "Characters in history." Nonetheless, my list of mortal heroes from real life would have to include St. Peter, Ronald Reagan, Thomas Sowell, Johnny Cash and Ray Charles.
- 7) Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
OK, uh ... My mom, St. Dymphna, Loretta Lynn, and of course Mary, Mother of God.
- 8) Who is/are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Holy crap! I never think about some of these things. If I gotta come up with something, I'm saying Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials. "Surprise! Let's bag these up."
- 9) Your favorite painters?
Damn. I don't have any favorite painters. I'll say The Red House Painters are my favorite painters.
- 10) Your favorite composers or musicians?
Well, Gov't Mule, Pink Floyd, Tool, Tony Rice, Marvin Gaye, Metallica, Frank Zappa, Merle Haggard, Phish, and the artists I listed above.
- 11) What qualities do you most value in a man?
Holy crap, I never even THOUGHT about this. I'll say that what I want in a man is someone who's tall, dark and handsome who'll hold me when I cry.
- 12) What qualities do you most value in a woman?
Honesty, accountability, reliability, virtue, reason, reverence, and big, big boobies.
- 13) Your favorite virtue?
- 14) Your favorite occupation?
I worked in radio for eight years and had a great time. I didn't make any money, but I had a lot of fun.
- 15) Who would you like to be?
Me, but cancer-free. DOH! I was gonna go without mentioning cancer in this post.
- 16) Your most marked characteristic?
I'm inclined to say sarcasm.
- 17) What do you most value in your friends?
Like MCF, I'd say that I value friends who have shared interests and a similar sense of humor. And who're capable of having actual conversations. And who have big, big boobies.
- 18) What is your principle defect?
Selfishness. It's at the root of everything I do wrong.
- 19) What is your favorite color?
Black. I guess. I never think about it.
- 20) What is your favorite flower?
For real? Geez. Uh ... the ones I don't have to mow around.
- 21) What is your favorite bird?
My favorite bird would be the one Johnny Cash flipped in that famous picture taken during his concert at San Quentin.
- 22) Who are your favorite prose writers?
C.S. Lewis. Thomas Sowell. Elmore Leonard. Chuck Palahniuk. And a number of other writers, all of whom I'm too lazy to code links for.
- 23) Who are your favorite poets?
Dammit, maybe I shouldn't have done this questionnaire. I don't have any favorite poets. I do have favorite lyricists, though ... so I'll say Bono, Merle Haggard, Frank Zappa, John Mellencamp, and Glen Phillips.
- 24) What are your favorite names?
Does this mean names of mine? I have two informal nicknames, Flounder and Derail. I'll answer to either of them as readily as to the name my mother gave me.
- 25) What is it you most dislike?
People who don't take the time to learn about the issues but still voice their opinion loudly. Childishness. People who won't act their age.
- 26) What historical figures do you most despise?
Well, the obvious ones; Osama bin Ladin, Hitler, etc. But also the Clintons, Margaret Sanger, Richard Dawkins.
- 27) What event in military history do you most admire?
- 28) What reform do you most admire?
Well, I was glad when Vernon Reed reformed Living Colour.
- 29) What natural gift would you most like to possess?
- 30) How would you like to die?
Well, I came into this world naked, bloody and screaming ... and as long as I don't go out that way, I'll be happy.
- 31) What is your present state of mind?
Distracted and kinda bored
- 32) What is your motto?
"Death to Smoochie."
I'd like to have the strength of a thousand men. And be able to fly. And shoot lasers out of my butt. Do those qualify as natural gifts?
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Bass! How Low Can You Go?
So the number of people in our family who own musical instruments that they can't (yet) actually play is now three.
I have an acoustic guitar. It sits in a corner in our bedroom and mocks me. Every time I walk past it it quietly snickers and occasionally whispers "Psssst! Hey! When was the last time you actually picked me up? You might as well have bought a rocket launcher the day you bought me."
My son owns an electric guitar, and to his credit, he does take lessons. I have to wonder, though, if he originally wanted a guitar because of a deep drive to create music or because of another time-honored reason: chicks dig guys who play guitar.
Today Liam became the first person in our family to pursue a future as a bass player. He started talking about wanting to get a bass guitar quite a while ago, but Wendy and I quietly discouraged him. We were afraid that he thought that playing bass would be as easy as playing Guitar Hero, a video game he's actually very good at.
But Liam persisted, and made up his mind that if we wouldn't buy him a bass, he'd by-God buy one himself. So for months every dollar he received from the Tooth Fairy or for a birthday or a holiday, whatever, went into Liam's bass fund. And whattaya know if he didn't eventually save enough money to buy himself a bass. Fed Ex brought it today and he spent some of the evening studiously watching the included instructional DVD and plucking away.
That bass is bigger than he is. But he seems pretty serious about it. Good for him.
Liam got me thinking about bass guitar today, how much I enjoy good bass guitar and how important a good bass player can be in a band. So I did what bloggers everywhere do when confronted with such a topic. I made a top-ten list and even put together a YouTube video.
You can watch it here, a two and a half minute tribute to my ten favorite kings of the bottom end:
Just a bit of explanation ... here's how these ten guys ended up on my list:
- 10: Steve Harris
Steve was the first bass player I ever really noticed. Iron Maiden was my favorite band when I was 14, and like many other 14 year olds, I was initially drawn to my favorite band due to their gnarly lyrics and cool guitar solos. But one day I realized that Steve's galloping bass lines were a big part of the reason that Iron Maiden was so cool.
- 09: Roger Waters
He's probably best known as the primary song-writer and lyricist in Pink Floyd, but Roger's bass playing was a big part of what made up the Pink Floyd sound. Roger's bass sound was thick, though rarely in the forefront of their music. And the more you listen to Pink Floyd, the more you find to enjoy about his playing.
- 08: John Paul Jones
Drummer John Bonham and bass player/keyboard player John Paul Jones were (in my opinion) the best part of Led Zeppelin. I know that Robert Plant's singing and Jimmy Page's guitar work are the things that most Zeppelin fans talk about, but what keeps me coming back is the drums and bass.
- 07: Doug Wimbish
Doug wasn't the original bass player in Living Colour, but I think he was the band's best. His work on the album Stain just blows my mind.
- 06: Robert Trujillo
Fans of Infectious Grooves, Suicidal Tendencies and Ozzy Osbourne were well aware of Robert Trujillo's talents long before he joined Metallica. I remember thinking that he'd be my dream-pick to replace bassist Jason Newstead when Newstead left Metallica. I was thrilled when he got the job, although it remains to be seen if my hypothesis was correct. That hypothesis being that Trujillo's stellar musicianship would force the rest of Metallica to step up a notch.
- 05: Mike Gordon
For a long time I resisted Phish's music because I find the band's fans so repellent. But I was only able to hold off for so long, thanks to the great musicians in the band. Trey Anastasio (guitar) and Page McConnell (keys) are awesome, and they usually distract me from paying attention to Mike Gordon's bass. But when I do pay attention, Gordon always impresses me. It was probably Mike's incredible groove on the song Weekapaug Groove that got me into Phish in the first place.
- 04: Allen Woody
The late, great Woody was a big part of Gov't Mule's original sound. The band has carried on without him since he passed away in 2000, but Woody's presence is still a big part of the band. His bass lines in songs like Thorazine Shuffle and Rocking Horse are some of the first things that really hooked me and turned me into a rabid Gov't Mule fan.
- 03: Simon Gallup
I think that Simon is the only member of the Cure (besides founder and front man Robert Smith)who's been in every incarnation of the band. But I'm not sure, to be honest. The Cure has had so many line-up changes that it's hard to keep track. During the Cure's early days, when the band was a three-piece, Simon's bass playing was a defining part of their sound. In fact, the best thing about some of those early albums (see Faith) is Gallup's bass playing.
- 02: Adam Clayton
I can't imagine U2 without Adam Clayton's moody, melodic, haunting bass sound. Now, granted, Bono and The Edge are the keys to what makes U2 such a good band. I won't deny that. But Adam Clayton's bass playing is always outstanding. His bass parts are tasteful, understated, never showy ... but they're often the best part of any given U2 song. Can you imagine With Or Without You without Clayton's mournful rumble giving the song all of it's weight?
- 01: Vic Wooten
Wooten is godlike. He's amazing. He can do anything with a bass guitar. ANYTHING. His regular gig is the bass player in the Flecktones, but Vic has played with a great many other bands and he's done solo-work, too. I hadn't heard of him eight or nine years ago when Wendy first mentioned him to me, and she encouraged me to check out his bass-solo take on the hymn Amazing Grace. I couldn't believe how beautiful it was when I heard it. Since then Wooten has totally won me over with his versatility and virtuosity. He can do it all; funk, rock, jazz ... Vic Wooten could make a bass guitar stand up and go outside and wash his car if he wanted to.
So there's my list. Keep in mind that it's just a list of MY favorite bass players. And I know that bass fans everywhere could look at my list and take offense. I've left off legendary players like Charles Mingus, Flea, Stanley Clarke, Les Claypool, Sting, Phil Lesh, John Entwhistle, Roger Glover, and Geddy Lee. I'm not trying to knock those guys. There's nothing wrong with any of 'em and they're all good at what they do. But the ten guys listed above; well, that's my list.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Cortez The Killer
Rock and roll just doesn't get better than this:
The Dave Matthews Band, featuring the great Warren Haynes, on Neil Young's classic Cortez The Killer.
Wow. Damn. Wow. I heard this recording some months ago and I'm glad to find that a YouTube video exists. Listen to Warren's soloing and you'll see why I call him my favorite rock guitarist. Listen especially to the solo that begins around the 6:10 mark. Warren wordlessly conveys more about pain, rage, regret and hope with that solo than all the poetry in the world.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Ooops ... and Merry Christmas
Hey, all is cool here. But a brief explanation might be necessary:
The other day, totally out of boredom and without an original thought in my head, I found myself listening to Gov't Mule and throwing together HTML pages based on some of their lyrics. Nothing major, just clip-art and snippets of songs, etc. One of the ones I threw together was based on the themes from the awesome, rockin', (but lyrically morbid) song "Larger Than Life." For no particular reason I decided to save that page ... and when I did I accidentally saved it over the main index page for SouthCon.
So if you visited this blog in the last couple of days, you saw an image of a Mayan deathmask, accompanied by some cynical, angry lyrics about religion. Merry Christmas, huh?
Anyway, I fixed it this morning. All is well, and I hope everyone has a wonderful long Holiday weekend. Cheers!
PS - as the Christmas madness finally comes to a stop, I hope to find myself with more time for blogging in the next week or so. So I'll be back, posting my usual BS pretty soon. Talk to you then.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Mule In Richmond
About two months ago I was exposed to the music of Gov't Mule and I absolutely flipped. I couldn't remember the last time I heard a band that good. As a matter of fact, the last time I went this completely head-over-heels for a new band was back in '85, the first time I heard Metallica.
Gov't Mule isn't a new band, but they were new to me when I heard them in August. This really is the best band I've ever heard, and they're basically the only band I've listened to since late August (much to the frustration of my wife and friends, who wonder when I'll stop listening to the Mule exclusively.) Shortly after I got interested in the band I checked their tour agenda for autumn and I was thrilled to find out that they were coming to Richmond, easily within driving distance. Wendy agreed to go see them with me, tickets were bought, and I spent all of September and the first half of October basically unable to think about anything else.
Wendy and I arrived at Toad's Place about an hour before the 7:00 PM door time. The line was pretty packed by 6:30, and an enthusiastic crowd was inside to greet opening act Grace Potter and the Nocturnals at 8:00. The openers played for an hour, and I can report that Grace Potter and the Nocturnals are a real-life, honest-to-goodness band. Real musicians, real songs, good old-fashioned rock and roll. I wish I were more enthusiastic about them, since they're making the kind of music that I think needs to be supported. And I do think that Grace Potter is going to hit the big-time pretty soon. But the truth is, I was in Richmond to see Gov't Mule and sitting through Grace Potter's set was, for me, just a slightly more interesting way to kill an hour than staring at the floor.
Gov't Mule came on at 9:30 and played until somewhere around 12:50. Ah, man, what an amazing show. The first set was like a dream for me ... if the band had let me chose the songs for the first set, I couldn't have customized a better one.
And let me just say that Warren Haynes is a god. The founder of Gov't Mule (and also full-time member of the Allman Brothers Band) is just about the best musician I've ever seen play live. He's a damn good songwriter, a great singer, and an absolutely amazing guitarist. You just can't do any better than Warren Haynes.
Here's the setlist for the night, and I can't wait to buy this show at Muletracks.
Larger Than Life
Don't Step On The Grass Sam (Steppenwolf Cover)
Lay Your Burden Down
Mr. High & Mighty
Red House (Hendrix Cover)
Bad Little Doggie
How Many More Years (Howlin' Wolf Cover, with Higher Ground tease)
A Million Miles From Yesterday
When Doves Cry (Prince Cover)->
When Doves Cry->
Pygmy Twylyte (Zappa Cover)->
Trouble Every Day (Zappa Cover)->
Child Of The Earth
Three String George
32/20 Blues (Robert Johnson Cover)
Long Distance Call (Muddy Waters Cover)
You can check out pictures from the show at Gov't Mule's "On The Road" page. And here are a few crappy pics I took with my cellphone.
I'm happy to say that Wendy loved the show, too, and I think she finally gets my obsession with Gov't Mule. In fact, the word Wendy used to describe the first set was "amazing." I couldn't agree more.
If you haven't heard Gov't Mule, here are a few songs you can stream from my site if you'd like to check them out:
And if you get the chance to see them live, don't miss it. I think it's safe to say at this point that Gov't Mule has become my favorite band over the past couple of months, and seeing them this past Sunday only confirmed for me that they really are the best band I've ever heard.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Very Busy, Mule Ahead
I haven't had a lot of time to blog for a few days ... more importantly, I haven't had time to read (and comment at) the blogs I enjoy, so my apologies to those I've neglected.
I've been working some trades so that I can have Sunday off so that Wendy and I can go to Richmond to see the amazing Gov't Mule in concert. I'm sure I'll write a concert review after the show, raving about how great they were. Here's just a little sample of what I look forward to enjoying on Sunday:
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Stark And Haunting
Joe Henry's voice isn't instantly accessible, make no mistake about that. But he's a heck of a songwriter. His song King's Highway tells a story that might even be too bleak for Johnny Cash to have recorded. This song gave me chills when I actually listened to the story. Gov't Mule does a great cover version, but this video features Henry performing it himself:
For those of you who're curious, but don't want to watch the music video, the lyrics to King's Highway are:
I might just change my mind
Sometimes you can never tell
Where a story will unwind
Or how deep is a shallow well
Sometimes you would never guess
Who's all talk and who just might
Find a way or lose themselves
On the King's Highway tonight
I am just like many more
Who lie in bed still and numb
Waking up and I can see
Just how dark it has become
Who knows no better angels now
Who knows none but an earthly light
Who's waiting for a stranger
On the King's Highway tonight
Wasn't how I had it planned
When it finally came around
I took a man with my own hands
But I held him close when he went down
He hadn't time to be afraid
His look was only of surprise
Staring up from where he laid
On the King's Highway tonight
I took the little that he had
Only as an afterthought
He wouldn't have to feel so bad
To think I killed him just because
He was passing through this town
Only 'cause he looked about right
He stopped when I flagged him down
On the King's Highway tonight
I might just change my mind
Sometimes you can never tell
Thursday, August 30, 2007
The Concert Diaries
In October, Wendy and I are going to see Gov't Mule at a club in Richmond. Gov't Mule is the first rock band I've heard in something like 15 years that I've actually liked enough to plan to see live. My last rock concert was Nine Inch Nails in Winston-Salem, NC, in November, '94. Since then I've only seen one nationally touring act (Lyle Lovett, an adult-contemporary/folk/jazz/country performer).
In the 80's and early '90's I saw a buttload of bands in concert … mostly hair metal bands since it was, after all, the 80's and early '90's and I was a teenager and hair metal was my thing.
I figured that since this blog is the closest thing I'll ever have to a diary I'd go ahead and post a brief "concert diary" while I can still remember the bands I've seen live. The following is a list of the bands I can remember having seen in concert, along with a brief memory or two about the acts.
One of the best bands I've ever seen live. I saw them in '88, I think. AC/DC is always reliable as a fun, energetic, good-time rock band. I was thrilled with how much of their older material they performed. I remember being giddy with glee when they played the opening riff of "Whole Lotta Rosie."
I saw Aerosmith around '92. The most memorable thing about this show was that it was the only concert I ever attended with a girl with whom I was on a first date. It was kind of a distraction. Aerosmith was OK, I guess.
The Allman Brothers Band
The Allmans put on a great show when I saw them in the early '90's. Interestingly, their lead singer and guitar player at the time was Warren Haynes, the singer and guitar player who impresses me so much in Gov't Mule. So although I don't remember him, I'm 99% sure that I've already seen this remarkable musician play live.
I saw Tori on tour in support of her Little Earthquakes album. She didn't have a band, just her and her piano. It was a really great show. She's an outstanding entertainer.
I saw the "Taking Care Of Business" band in the late '80's. I remember someone threw a full "Big Gulp" size cup of soda and ice and hit Randy Bachman in the chest. Uncool. He brushed it off and kept playing. Very cool.
A popular country artist from the early '90's, Clint put on a decent show. His opening act was Lorrie Morgan. Anybody remember her?
The main thing I remember about Bon Jovi is that they are one of only two rock bands I ever saw live who didn't curse or use any vulgarities at all during their performance. Even in my teenage years that impressed me. It made them seem confident in their music.
I gotta say, Garth went out of his way to entertain his audience, and judging from the way my girlfriend at the time reacted, Garth did a good job. I wasn't much of a fan, but I don't remember having a terrible time at this show.
The main thing I remember about Cinderella was that they were a tall band. The average member was probably 6'. Maybe 6'3" with hair, 6'5" with hair and heels.
This band produced one of the best and most underrated, underheard rock albums of the '80's. When I saw them their drummer was Matt Sorum, who went on to later fame drumming for Guns N' Roses. The Cult was a good live band, playing crowd-pleasing, competent, note-for-note reproductions of their live tracks.
Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy
Remains the only hip hop band I've ever seen in concert. They were pretty good, I enjoyed their set. The cool thing about Disposable was that they played live music rather than just rapping over prerecorded tracks. Their guitarist was Charlie Hunter, who has since made quite a name for himself in the world of jazz.
I'm including Gibb here even though he's a bit of a regional artist and most of you have probably never heard him, except maybe through his work with Keller Williams or as a performer at The Gathering Of The Vibes. Gibb is an electric guitar player in the Jimi Hendrix/Stevie Ray Vaughn tradition, and he's really very good. He does a lot of session work now and occasionally produces a solo album, but back in the day he used to tour as the guitarist and singer in a three-piece band. I saw Gibb and his band play, damn, I don't even know how many times. I never saw a bad show. This guy is a great entertainer, a damn good songwriter and musician, and an all-around nice guy. I've been waiting for him to finally get his "big break" for more than ten years now.
I saw Dokken in '88, I think. I have absolutely no memory of their set. You know, it's probably better if a band makes a bad impression (like Poison) than no impression at all.
I saw Foreigner during the height of their "I Wanna Know What Love Is" popularity, back when they had the original members of their classic line-up. They had a lot of lasers and dry ice and a big choir with them. This was the first rock band I ever saw live, I was maybe 14 or so. I was quite impressed.
Four Non Blondes
I saw them open for Aerosmith. They sucked. Their lead singer was Linda Perry, who is now a producer and songwriter responsible for a number of bad current hit records. Apparently she isn't through messing up my life yet.
Who the hell are Giuffria? I was asking that when I saw them live and I'm still asking that. OK, thanks to the internet, I do have a bit of interesting trivia about this band. Giuffria's lead singer was David Glen Eisley, who I remember cursing an excessive amount during their show. Even if you've never heard of him, you have probably heard him sing if you're a Spongebob Squarepants viewer. It seems that Eisley is the singing voice of Spongebob in the Band Geeks episode of the show. He sings the song "Sweet Victory" in that episode. So when I saw the little known rock band Giuffria in concert, I was entertained by the spectacular vocals of Spongebob Squarepants.
The best thing I can say about the Great White set I saw is that I survived it. After the band's irresponsible use of pyro lead to a fire a few years ago, I considered getting an "I Survived A Great White Concert" T-shirt. The second best thing I can say about the Great White show I saw was that they were the best unofficial Zeppelin cover-band I ever saw.
A true legend of country music. I enjoyed his set, although I remember that the guy had this really crazy looking glint in his eye while he was performing. Merle might be a little touched in the head.
I've seen the Indigo Girls play live twice, and both times I had a great time. One time they played a few requests from the crowd, including one song they didn't know ("Me and Bobby McGee") that they tried to work out for the first time on the spot. I've never seen another nationally touring band do that. The Indigo Girls are the best lesbian folk-rock duo I've ever seen in concert (though not the only one). In fact, the Indigos are probably one of the top fifteen lesbian folk-rock duos in the US, right up there with The Murmurs, Tegan and Sara and Tenacious D.
A Led Zeppelin wannabe band that opened a rock festival I saw in the late '80's.
Like the Allmans, who I saw after the death of Duane Allman, I saw Little Feat after the death of their founder and leader, Lowell George. Nonetheless, Little Feat was still made up of a number of damn good musicians, and I remember that I thought that they were very good live.
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band
Lyle Lovett and His Large Band is both the name of one of their albums and the name of Lovett's touring outfit. They're a remarkable assembly of players and singers. Wendy and I saw them three or four years ago, and they sounded great. We were both a bit disappointed, though, in Lovett's decision to play mostly brand-new material.
Apparently, Marilyn Manson failed to shock or scare me since I saw him and his band open for Nine Inch Nails and have no memory of their performance.
I saw Metallica three or four times in the '80's and early '90's. They really are one of the most consistently entertaining and worthwhile rock bands I've ever seen. I never saw them have an off night. They always sound good and always play for a long time. Plus, when they play live, their songs have a kind of loose groove that isn't there on the albums. They're awesome live, well worth seeing.
I saw Motley Crue two or three times in the '80's. They were fun live, but extremely cheesy. For instance, one of the conventions of rock shows is that the band will come out and play for a while and then say "Thank you, good night!" They'll then go back stage and the crowd will stay in place and the house lights will stay down and the crowd will chant and the band will come back out after ten minutes and do a few more songs. It gives the impression of an "on demand" encore, but it's conventional. I've never been to a rock show where this didn't happen. Anyway, one time when I saw Motley Crue they did the "Thank you, good night!" bit and went off stage … and then a big electric sign behind the stage started flashing the word "CRUE CRUE CRUE CRUE," which, of course, prompted the crowd to chant for ten minutes. Then the band came back on stage and Vince Neal said something like "Boy, you guys must want some more, huh?" Gimme a break.
Nine Inch Nails
My ears rang for weeks after seeing NIN in '94. They were the loudest band I've ever seen and may have been violating noise ordnances when I saw them. They were also very good live. I thoroughly enjoyed their painful set.
The most interesting thing about the Ozzy Osbourne show I saw was that, at the time, Ozzy was touring with Geezer Butler on bass guitar. Ozzy and Geezer were, of course, founding members of Black Sabbath. Now, at the time, guitarist Tony Iommi was the only original member still in Black Sabbath. So when I saw Ozzy, I saw more original members of Black Sabbath than I'd have seen at a Sabbath show. Also, Ozzy's guitarist on that tour and at that show was Zakk Wylde, a good musician and bandleader in his own right. Zakk's guitar playing during "Paranoid" produced the best version of that song I've ever heard.
Poison may be the worst band I ever saw live. Bad singing, bad playing, bad sound, bad showmanship, bad songwriting, bad make-up, bad costumes, bad conduct and bad hair. Other than that, fine show.
Primus had the worst sound mix of any live band I've ever seen. The music was one loud, fuzzy throb. I didn’t enjoy their set.
I saw them touring in support of the album Green, on election day, 1989. This was the day that Virginia screwed up and elected the likable but incompetent Doug Wilder, which I thought was a good thing at the time. I drug my friend Jamie to this show and he had a miserable time. I had an OK time. REM's opening act was some band I've forgotten (it was the band Pylon, thanks for the reminder, Jamie), and their lead singer was visibly pregnant. She remains the only visibly pregnant singer I've ever seen open for R.E.M.
I'm not even sure how many times I saw Ratt in the '80's. Maybe four times. They were a reliably middling-to-awful band. Their singer sucked. Their guitarists sucked. I thought they were awesome at the time, though, because I was easy to please.
The best musician I've ever seen play live, and my favorite guitar player of all time. I saw him do a set with Peter Rowan, another legend in the bluegrass arena, but I hardly remember Rowan's presence. Rice is the man as far as I'm concerned. After the show Tony came out and socialized with the fans, so I got to meet him and thank him for the positive difference his music has made in my life over the years. He seemed genuinely touched by my gratitude. Tony Rice is the coolest guy in the world.
Another of the country bands I saw in concert during my years working in country radio. You get the tickets for free, so you figure, heck, I might as well go. I have no memory of their set.
I saw this band around the time of their mega-popular live album, World Wide Live. They sounded very good live. This was a band that had been touring, recording and performing for some fifteen years by the time I saw them, and they were tight and talented.
Shenandoah was a popular country band in the '80's and '90's. If you weren't listening to that kind of music at that time, you don't remember them. They were, in all honesty, the best country band I ever saw in concert. (Notice I said "country," not "bluegrass." I've seen a bunch of better bluegrass players.) Anyway, Shenandoah played their hits along with a number of James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg covers and ended their show with an impressive (and utterly unexpected) cover of Led Zeppelin's "Heartbreaker." I went home happy. I think my girlfriend at the time (the Garth Brooks fan) was a bit baffled by their song selections.
Slayer was really outstanding live. I saw them in a club in Hampton Roads, Virginia, touring in support of Seasons In The Abyss. They opened their show, if I remember correctly, with "Raining Blood," one of their heaviest songs. The played hard and fast and loud and never made a misstep. The Governor saw that show with me and has since seen them a number of times, and he has never reported a bad show. If you like loud, aggressive thrash metal, Slayer is the band to see live. And, by the way, Slayer is the only other rock band (along with Bon Jovi) that I've seen play live who never uttered a single swear word or vulgarity during their set. Instead, their singer, Tom Araya, kept saying things like "I trust that everyone is enjoying our performance this evening..."
I saw this thrash metal band open for Slayer. I remember thinking that they were good and that their singer was a huge, scary guy.
Toad the Wet Sprocket
Toad was a popular alternative rock band in the '90's and they were pretty good live. I saw them with special guests Everything, a one-hit-wonder from that time. I think I remember that Everything was pretty good, too. The main thing I remember about Everything was that they were selling t-shirts that had their logo on the front and the words "Poor. Ugly. Happy." on the back. I thought those were pretty cool shirts.
On the Zoo TV tour at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh in the early '90's. Best show I have ever seen. U2 is a stellar live band, and they had all the bells and whistles, props and lights and lasers, that a stadium-size show will accommodate. Man, what a great show. They sounded great, they thoroughly entertained several thousand people, I went home exhausted and happy.
I saw Van Halen three or four times in the late '80's, during the Hagar era. They were a solid band live. Eddie Van Halen once threw a guitar pick right over my head; the guy behind me got it. Dammit. I also remember that during one show Hagar spotted security roughing a guy up and stopped the show mid-song and told them to stop. Very cool.
Vixen was an all-girl metal band that was popular for six minutes in the late '80's. After they broke up, the guitarist briefly taught guitar for a living on Long Island, New York. She was the guitar teacher for a guy my wife used to date before she and I ever met. Six degrees of separation or something.
They didn't suck.
I saw them twice. They were prompt and professional, as is befitting a group of veteran British musicians. I saw them during the years when lead singer David Coverdale was still dating Tawny Kitaen. This was the '80's when she was still young and hot, as opposed to nowadays when she looks like a transvestite.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
If you, like me, live and breathe rock and roll, then you know what it's like when you hear a new band (new to you at least) that just blows you away.
Gov't Mule has been around for a long while, but I've never been interested in them because I'd thought of them as just another "jam band." Bands like Phish, the Grateful Dead, etc. Bands that play long, boring, pointless songs and attract crowds full of smelly, dreadlocked, white college kids with more time on their hands than brains in their heads. Hippies. Oh, how I hate hippies.
Nonetheless, a friend recently suggested that I check out Gov't Mule. He said he was convinced that they were my kind of band. He loaned me a couple of albums and I thought they were pretty good, so I picked up one of their albums myself. And, oh dear Lordy is it good. I can't stop listening to it. It's amazing.
I'm trying not to use superlative phrases like "the best band I've ever heard," since that's the kind of phrase that people toss off casually when they first discover a new band, and then a month later when they've moved on to another band they've forgotten about the one they were praising just before.
Having said that, I think that Gov't Mule might just be the best band I've ever heard.
Check out the clip below and then go get yourself some Mule. From what I've heard, the studio albums are stellar and the live stuff is just plain mind-blowing.
*Addendum: You know, when I gripe about hating "hippies," I'm not really saying what I mean. The people I'm complaining about aren't really hippies. What I'm complaining about is the whole subset of irresponsible, financially comfortable, smelly, annoying white kids who follow these "jam bands" around, living off of their daddy's credit cards, buying "Che" shirts and doing drugs. What has that lifestyle got to do with the original meaning of "Hippy?"
Subscribe to Posts [Atom]