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Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 1, 2018] Guster        

It had been over two years since we’d since Guster and we were going through some withdrawal.  So it was pretty exciting that they were starting their latest tour at out favorite club in Jersey City.

We’d never seen them at the beginning of a tour before and I have to say the rest does them well.  They seemed energetic (which they usually are) but more importantly everyone’s (especially Ryan’s) voices sounded amazing–best I’ve ever heard them.

They have a new album coming out in January so we thought it might be a show of all new songs . But it wasn’t.  They played two brand new songs (and none of the singles that they’ve released so far).  The rest of the show (all 23-2 songs + two improvs) were familiar and more than welcomed.

When we saw them last time, we had seen them three times in 14 months and during those three shows they had played a ton of songs that we hadn’t heard before (or not since a decade earlier). So this show was a lot more songs that we’ve heard (which is still fine).  But with a few that were more or less new.  And of course those wonderful improvs. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: HOBO JOHNSON AND THE LOVEMAKERS-Tiny Desk Concert #785 (September 12, 2018).

Hobo Johnson and the Lovemakers are an incredibly fun and spontaneous-seeming band.  With lots and lots of shouting

“Romeo & Juliet” opens with some quiet piano and the band screaming: “Oh shit!  Godammit!  Fuck!  With Hobo continuing…Oh, that’s my shit right there!”

This song is a remarkably insightful look into a failing relationship.  It follows so many different avenues as Hobo John (Frank Lopes) speak/raps/sings lyrics that seem very personal.

We’re just Romeo and Juliet
But getting drunk and eating Percocets
But just to ease the stress
But soft what light, thru yonder window breaks
It is the east, but Juliet just puked off the balcony
How romantic

And if Romeo & Juliet continued to be married
Thens there’s half of a chance
That their kids would get embarrassed
When all the kids at school all talk about their parents
And Romeo Jr. has to say they’re not together
And Junior will dream of the day when he’s a man
And what he’ll do to avoid that 50% chance
Of his kids feeling the way he feels
He’ll probably just stick with Netflix and Chill

It ends with an a capella poem that details the breakup of parents–the sound of people falling out of love.

This is a band always on the verge of emotional explosions, all while Frank Lopes, aka Hobo Johnson, is quoting Shakespeare and making references to Jay-Z, The Front Bottoms song “Twin Size Mattress” and so much more.

“Sex in the City” opens with a pretty, quiet piano melody.  Hobo Johnson recites all of concerns about sex and love.  Lines like (“I got a duvet the other day – how do you wash a blanket? In a washer? That’s what I found out”)

So I’m not a babymaker-looker
But maybe I am
To a woman who really loves me
for who I am or maybe who I’m not
Either way it’s getting bothered and hot — GROSS!

If I looked like Brad Pitt mixed with a bit of Jake Gyllenhaal
in a bowl of David Hasselhoff.
I wouldn’t be here at all, I’d been in Los Angeles.
Or at your mom’s house eating all those sandwiches –DAMN I LOVE THOSE SANDWICHES.

It’s a terrific song.

Then Bob brings some peach scones our for the band–scones that he made himself.  (He got up at quarter to 7.  Hobo: That’s pretty early.  I will eat all these my self [grumbling] We’ll share them as a band).

The band

accomplished something remarkable this year with their Tiny Desk Contest entry. They made a simple backyard video – a single camera shoot – that’s now been seen almost 10 million times on YouTube. And the song they played, “Peach Scone,” has unlocked a door to a dream – to play a Tiny Desk Concert and be heard. The song is a tale of one-sided love – a tale of kindness in the face of loneliness and depression. Now, “a couple of kids – five I guess” as its lyrics go, get to bring their creative, urgent and somewhat nervous energy from Sacramento, Calif. to play “Peach Scone” and more to millions of other listeners.

They start “Scones” and Hobo messes up the words and laughs.  “How does this work when you mes at Tiny Desk?”  Bob: “Just start again.”  “Really?” “And we play the embarrassing part, too.”  “Really?  That’s awesome.”

For this song the pianist plays drums and there’s lots more shouting.  Despite the aforementioned kindness.  It’s terrific and slightly different from their video.

At times it’s as much a storytelling session or personal confession than a musical performance, and for me it conjures feelings of empathy and understanding and compassion.

The final song “Creve Coeur 1” is quieter.  It starts with a sad piano melody and although it has moments that are louder, the ending feels very personal: “Sorry Frank, You’re much too late.”

I hope I get to see them as they make the rounds touring.

[READ: September 20, 2017]  “As You Would Have Told It to Me (Sort of) If We Had Known Each Other Before You Died”

I really enjoyed this story.  Even if by the end I had no idea exactly what was happening.  And even after thinking about I’m not sure I even understand the internal logic of the title, much less the story.

It begins, “I remember that it was fall.”

Then the narrator tells the memory in past tense but with a sense of surprise as everything unfolds.

First, the police ring his doorbell.  The narrator thinks it is Katja.  He hadn’t spoken to her in three days, but things were like that between them sometimes. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: DANIEL BACHMAN-“Song for the Setting Sun II” (Field Recordings, May 21, 2015).

Daniel Bachman plays a gorgeous six string acoustic guitar.  He plays wonderful instrumentals full of melody and feeling which tell a story in their own way.

Bachman grew up around the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg. It’s a quiet town in Northern Virginia that still has a pharmacy with cheap sandwiches and milkshakes.

The 25-year-old has been at the solo-guitar game since he was a teenager.  That’s why it felt right to bring Bachman back to the area that inspired River, a record surrounded by history, but guided by hands and a heart that know its bends and bumps.

In early March, we met Bachman in Fredericksburg to drive an hour east to Stratford Hall, home to four generations of the Lee family, which includes two signers of the Declaration of Independence; it’s also the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. Bachman knows it well, not only because his dad works there, but also because he can’t help but bury himself in history books about the region.   Bachman plays a version of “Song For The Setting Sun II” in what was the performance space at Stratford Hall. The song leaps boldly around the sunlit, symmetrical room, bouncing off walls decorated with paintings of buxom women and men in powdered wigs.

It’s a gorgeous piece with ringing strings that sounds massive in this Great Hall.  In the second half, he strikes a low E and it sounds like a cannon.  And when you hear that melody amid all of the ringing notes, it’s just sublime.

[READ: January 29, 2015] “F.A.Q.s”

Phoebe is in her mid 20s.  She returns from college withdrawn and single. Her parents are delighted that she is single, but not happy that she is so withdrawn.

Phoebe is also pretty unhappy with the changes that have occurred since she was at school.

A new coffeemaker was where the compost bucket had been.  The chicken coop lay empty (they had reverted so quickly to supermarket eggs).  An exercise machine was in her old room–however after several minutes of exercise Melanie usually ended up lying on Phoebe’s bed.  Her mom tells her that she bought rice milk and oat cakes   Later on she even tries to make her parents granola (her father was supposed to watch his cholesterol but didn’t and her mother nibbled Icelandic chocolate),

One of the few things that remained was Grandma Jeanne’s violin on the top shelf of her closet.  It was unmentioned. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: August 2018] Tuck Everlasting

Normally when we go on long car rides we listen to many audio books.  This summer, we drove to Chicago (12 hours each way) and listened to only two!  Two!  And this one was only three discs long.

I actually didn’t know anything about this story when we started it (somehow this classic children’s book written during my childhood totally escaped me).

What’s fascinating about this story is how little there is to it.  This is not a criticism.  It’s a remarkably compact plot.  Although there is an awful lot of description.  And while Peter Thomas did a great job with the action of the story, the descriptions tended to drag on a bit (you could blame Babbitt or Thomas I suppose).

The story focuses on the Tuck family.  Tuck, whose first name is a rarely used but is Angus, is the father.  Mae is his wife.  They have two children, Jesse who is 17 or so and Miles is 22 or so.

There is also Winnie Foster, a ten-year old girl.  Her family is the oldest family in Treegap, New Hampshire. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: CAMP COPE-Tiny Desk Concert #778 (August 22, 2018).

Camp Cope recently played PhilaMOCA, but it sold out so quickly I didn’t even have a chance of going.  Camp Cope plays a deceptively simple poppy punk that really allows the excellent lyrics to shine through.  I love the sound of Kelly-Dawn “Kelso” Hellmrich’s bass lines, which contribute a great melody while singer guitarist Georgia “Maq” McDonald plays a somewhat muted guitar, with a ton of power in here voice.

Camp Cope’s Tiny Desk performance opened — fittingly — with “The Opener,” a song about overcoming the obnoxious, exhausting and all-too-common sexism endemic to the music industry.

Great lyrics:

You worked so hard but we were ‘just lucky’
To ride those coat tails into infinity
And all my success has got nothing to do with me
Yeah, tell me again how there just aren’t that many girls in the music scene

It’s another all-male tour preaching equality
It’s another straight cis man who knows more about this than me
It’s another man telling us we’re missing a frequency, love ya Kelly

[Lyrics genius explains this last line: The bass lines in many Camp Cope songs, contributed by bassist Kelly-Dawn Helmrich, are played primarily in the upper register of that instrument, so there are few low bass frequencies in their music. On the average Camp Cope clip on Youtube, you can usually find a dozen or so dudes helpfully pointing this out in the comments.].

It’s a stunning and deeply gratifying performance; Maq lists off what exes, industry insiders and fellow musicians have said to undermine the band with a measured determination that sometimes tips into a full-throated, impassioned cry. Bands like Camp Cope get told they’re “just lucky,” that they “can’t fill up a room,” that they should “book a smaller venue.” But when Maq roars from behind the Tiny Desk, “See how far we’ve come not listening to you,” she makes it clear which voice deserves the attention.

I love the dismissive final line:

“Yeah, just get a female opener, that’ll fill the quota.”

The second song, “The Face of God” features complex guitar patterns from Maq and (at the start) a simpler bass line).  But once the song takes off, the bass starts throwing in notes all over the instrument.

is a stunning, delicate song about feeling lonely and distraught in the aftermath of sexual violence. It’s a standout from the band’s debut album, How to Socialise & Make Friends, and shows what Camp Cope does so well: using tiny moments of introspection to illuminate life’s bewildering, terrifying, isolating aspects — especially as they apply to women. You can hear equal parts conviction and desperation in Maq’s voice as she sings:

I saw it, the face of god
And he turned himself away from me and said I did something wrong
That somehow what happened to me was my fault.

Camp Cope must usually play more raucously live since after “Face of God” Maq  laughed, “We’ve never done this before — we’ve never been quiet. Not once in our entire lives!” Hellmrich joked that it was perhaps a “good lesson” to “rock out in your mind.”

The band closed its set with “Keep Growing,” an older track about autonomy and heartache.   It opens with Sarah “Thomo” Thompson’s drums, simply and direct and then Hellmrich’s bass is at the fore once again, playing a cool melody.

Elsewhere, it might be too easy to tune into Camp Cope’s powerful message and overlook the strength of the band’s songcraft. But at the Tiny Desk, you can’t miss it: Maq’s gargantuan voice; Hellmrich’s clever, melodic basslines; Thompson’s stoic drumming.

I wish even more that I’d seen them in a small venue while I had the chance.

[READ: August 21, 2017] “Dogs Go Wolf”

This was a peculiar story that felt like it was part of a larger story.  It felt incomplete and yet also that it had accomplished everything it intended.  Which was odd.  In the same way that the title makes sense but only when you think about it.

I enjoyed the way the story worked its way backwards.  Two sisters are on an island.  They are young (four and seven) and they are alone.  Even the dog that was with them has been strangely quiet lately.  The dog was mean and although they missed its companionship they weren’t sad to see it go.

The big sister tells the little sister stories to comfort her.  But they can only go so far when food is scarce, when the generator has run out and when they have little else to do.

(more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2018] Phish

Having enjoyed two Phish shows at Madison Square Garden, and really seeing what it’s like to go to multiple shows by the same band when they mix up the setlists so much, I was pretty psyched to hear that Phish were coming back to NJ for two shows on a short summer tour.

After the immense spectacle of the Baker’s Dozen, in which they repeated no over thirteen shows (thereby messing up every statistic-driven fan who likes to recount the last time a song was played, this tour was shaping up to be a more traditional fan favorites (or not) package.  This was actually perfect for me because as I start keeping tracks of the songs I need to see live, I realize that I need a lot of the staples to fill out my chart. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Live Bait Vol. 13 [Baker’s Dozen Edition] (2017).

Live Bait 13 was a special release to tie in with the Baker’s Dozen shows at Madison Square Garden.  It’s a little strange that 11 of the 13 songs are from MSG and not all of them, but whatever.  The MSG recordings date from 1994-2016, and the additional two songs are a relativity recent song from Chicago and a 1993 track from Pittsburgh.

The set starts with a 14 minute “The Wedge” (7/20/14 FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, Chicago, IL).  It seems to be a little stiff and almost “formal” to start with although by around 9 minutes it loosens up and gets funky with some cool drum breaks.  By 11 minutes it turns into a loos jam of chords that sounds familiar like an other song, but I can’t place it.

The “Run Like An Antelope” is from 1993 (7/18/93 I.C. Light Amphitheater, Pittsburgh, PA) and it opens fun with woodblocks and a dramatically dissonant chord.  Trey launches into Led Zep’s “Heartbreaker” riff while the band keeps going.  The middle slows down and gets noisy before ending.

The rest of the tracks are from Madison Square Garden.

“Tube” (12/29/97) starts off quite angular and harsh but grows funky with a cool keyboard sound and solo from Page.   Moving back to (12/30/95) they play a spirited “It’s Ice” which segues into a rather mellow “Kung.”  Most of the nonsense from “Kung” is spoken, including the runaway gold cart marathon. But then they start screaming “Stand up!  STAND UP!”

I love that “It’s Ice” has the kind of vocals that are done in something of a round or a fugue.  It’s followed by “Piper” (12/30/11) that also has that kind of vocals in the round.  Its a nice pairing.  This version is pretty grooving and eventually gets really rocking.  Although the last five minutes are trippy and chill.

There’s a surprise (to me) “Icculus” from 2013. (12/31/13).  Trey has a lot of fun with the story of the helping friendly book.  He talks about how when they first started playing they had a message to impart.

Some of you are not getting the message and it’s pissing us off.  We’re here tonight in the middle of Madison Square Garden to give to the fucking message!  I’m looking around and I’m thinking a lot of you haven’t read the fucking book.  Up next is the fun segue of “Mike’s Song > Swept Away > Steep > Weekapaug Groove” from 1996 (10/22/96) is a large 20 minute block. There’s a good jam that lasts almost ten minutes before “Swept Away” comes in quietly for a minute. It stays quiet through “Sleep” until they launch onto the “Groove.”

The next song is from 2016 (12/30/16) , I think the most recent Live Bait.  “Light” sounds “mature” until the jam plays on for a while and its drifts all over the place until Fish pulls it back around 16 minutes to a wholly unexpected “Party Time.”

I love this version of “Carini” (12/28/98).  It is dark and angular with a really dark and moody jam.  At 8 minutes its gets kind of trippy but by 12 Page takes it into a dark place with synth sounds> Wolfman’s Brother (12/28/98 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY) 37:23

Ghost (12/31/10( is groovy with a half time solo while “Tweezer” (12/30/94) is fast and peppy for nearly the whole 20 minutes. The “Ebenezer” part comes at around 4 minutes with a lot of prolonged nonsense after the word.  “You Enjoy Myself (12/4/09) is a full 20 minutes as well and they seem to stretch it out with the second part coming at 3 minutes and the lyrics starting around 6 minutes in  there’s some great solos by Page and Trey as well.  There’s a funky watery bass solo around 17 minutes before the final vocal jam which is mostly a series of rising and falling yells until they grow quiet by the end.

“No Men In No Man’s Land” is a newer song and they play it nice–stretching it out with a grooving sound and jam.  By 10 minutes it chills down, but it picks up again by 11:30.  At 15 minutes it gets angular and dark and around 20 minutes they start the countdown to Auld Lang Syne.  They come out of ALS with a wonderful “Blaze On,” a fun welcome to the new year.

Nothing could prepare anyone for Phish playing a no repeat 13 night series, but this was certainly a fun reminder of the great shows they’ve played at MSG.

[READ: February 7, 2018] “August”

This story is a slice of life at a lake in August.

The family went to the lake for five seasons over he years.

The narrator says he primary memory is of his father reading intently.  He could read for hours without moving.  Sometimes he would pick up a drink and there was the possibility that he would not drink it before getting to the bottom of the page and then simply put it down, forgotten.

His mother would not read until she picked up a book and then would read intently for a couple of days and then seem to just give up.

It was the second season that his father shot the dog.  Yup, its one of those stories, but not as bad as all that. (more…)

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