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Archive for the ‘Barenaked Ladies’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 14, 2017] Marc Scibilia

I hadn’t heard of Marc Scibilia before this show.  He did perhaps the most intelligent think I’ve seen an opening folkie act do.  He had a kick drum with his name on it.  He never played the drum, it was just there as a simple advertisement (my name is hard to spell, he explained).

When the show started (exactly on time), he came out on stage, walked up to the keyboard and started playing a song.  He didn’t say what it was, but possibly “Out of Style.”

It was good.  Kinda of dancey, but definitely rocking.  When the song was over he picked up an acoustic guitar and started playing a different song.  As he started playing he stomped on an electronic drum (it wasn’t the kick drum, because he was too far away and the drum head never vibrated–it was just one of those stomp drum things.  And that simple addition really made the folkie songs a lot more rocking.

And then he spoke to us. (more…)

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spowerSOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-Stan Rogers Folk Festival, Canso, NS (July 2, 2005).

stanBack in 2005, the Rheostatics played two days at the Stan Rogers Folk Festival. The first day’s show was a kind of mash up of the Rheostatics and other bands.  Indeed, the recording includes some other artists along with the Rheos.

This second day it was apparently raining.  But it’s just the Rheos doing their best folk band impression, but not being afraid to totally rock out.

The recording opens very echoey and with a woman who is having a different kind of fun screaming quite a bit really nearby.  But after a minute or two, I assume the recording device is moved because you can no longer hear her. It’s jut Martin singing “California Dreamline.”

“Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” is particularly rocking, especially the “Michael!” part.  It’s a great version of the song, with lots of interesting bass work from Tim.  The whole band seems really into it.

Dave says, “The first European settlers stopped at Guysboro so we feel honored to do the same.  I went to the cairn…. I read the cairn.”

Mike: “Was the plaque about golfing?”

Dave: “No, it was about settling by the Mi’kmaq.”

They play a terrific, rocking “Marginalized,” a song that they seem to always play great.  It’s followed by a grooving intro to “Horses.”  Dave is really into it and the song ends really really loud and aggressive for a folk festival–Dave is screaming.

It’s followed by a terrific “Stolen Car.”  The “Kill a cop” line is really intense with a big drum roll.  And Martin is in great form throughout, especially that ending “drive away” section.

Mike: Thanks, we’ve got one more for you
Martin: Thanks, we’ve got one more for you
Dave: As a great man once said, Thanks, we’ve have one more for you

After all of that intensity, they end with a slow, pretty “Making Progress.”  Martin says, the composer of this next number in the middle: Timothy Rabbit Warren Vesely.  So that’s two songs by each singer.  As the song ends, Martin plays some interesting echoing guitar lines as the other guys leave.

The announcer says: “Rheostastics.  These guys were nominated for 3 Junos and one Genie and the Barnenaked Ladies and The Tragically Hip are constantly singing their praises and we got to hear them tonight.

[READ: April 25, 2017] The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Power

This is the reboot of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  This edition collects issues 1-4 and a special comic from Marvel Super Heroes #8.

For the reboot, Erica Henderson has re-imagined the appearance of Squirrel Girl from the rankly really creepy and ugly early version (as seen in the Marvel issue included) into a new much cooler looking hero.  Although I find her face really distractingly strange-looking.  I suppose it’s meant to invoke a squirrel somewhat, but since I read the Shannon Hale book first, I imagined her looking less odd.  But I have since gotten over that and I find her personality is too great to care.

There are several things I love about this story line.  It is so very funny.  Every bit and piece is great.  I also love that she is, as her name suggests, unbeatable.  This is not a spoiler exactly, but she really can’t be beaten–it’s pretty great.  I also love that there is running commentary along the bottom of the page (essentially the footnotes).  Sadly in some issues it is really hard for these old eyes to read, but if you can read them, they are worth it.

But really it’s the tone that I love,  It’s so lighthearted and fun.   (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JOHN PAUL WHITE-Live at the Newport Folk Festival (July 29, 2017).

I don’t really know all that much about John Paul White, except that he was in the fabulous duo The Civil Wars, and that he writes intelligent but downbeat folk music.

For indeed, his songs are not cheery by any stretch.  But they are very pretty.

I know the first song, “Black Leaf,” from his Tiny Desk Concert.  I loved it then and I love it now. After the song, he asks, “How are you?  Are you well?  You should be well.  No one should be complaining, least of all me in this black suit.”

And, despite his tone, he is not above making jokes with his audience.  Like when he introduces the second song, “Martyr,” he says, “We’ll be doing  while lot of death metal covers. I figured this would be the place. This song is by a band called Sepultura.”  [Nervous titters from the crowd before he starts playing a pretty JPW song that sounds not unlike a contemporary Barenaked Ladies song, especially his delivery of it].

“The Once and Future Queen,” is a slow, quiet song with a big chorus full of pretty harmonies.  When it ends, he says:

I guess it’s probably my duty to warn you….  You came to a folk festival so you probably weren’t looking for happy songs anyway…  If you came to this set looking to be cheered up, you’re screwed.  Let’s get that out of the way.

I loved “Hate the Way You Love Me,” during the Tiny Desk Concert, but when the backing singers accompany him on the chorus and the gorgeous fiddle from Kelli Jones fills the song, it’s really wonderful.

He jokes, “Glad you’re enjoying the death metal.  I didn’t think it would go over as well as it has.”  But he then plays “Fight for You,” a fairly rocking song–with some rocking distortion on his guitar and a snarl in his voice (and a pretty heavy chorus).

I tend to think of JPW as kind of a mellow singer with a great voice, but he really lets loose in the middle of “Hope I Die.”  In addition to a really powerful singing section, there’s a pretty wild solo going on (violin or guitar or both).  He introduces Adam Morrow over here on the guitar, so I assume he had something to do with it.

He says, “I’m not gonna pretend that all of you have any idea who I am.” [cheers]  He jokes, “That’s called fishing for a compliment.”  But he continues,

To those of you who do I apologize.  It’s been awhile.  it took a lot to get me out of the house.  I was incredibly happy sleeping in my bed and going to dance recitals and football games and the lot. And then these melodies started coming back in my head.  And if I gave into it I’d be back out here doing this.  I and I didn’t want that at all.  No.  No offense, but I didn’t want of see any of your faces.  But once I wrote these songs I wondered if people would connect with them…  and I still doesn’t know why I did that.  So thank you.

In introducing the slow ballad “I’ve Been Over This Before,” he says “This is one of the first songs that came to me. I was obviously listening to a lot of old country music, because that’s where it all starts for me.”

He continues, “I promise you I won’t bore you with song meanings because most of the time I have no idea what they mean most of the time.  But this one is personal for me.”  He says “Simple Song” is indicative of the folk spirit of telling stories and passing them down to further generations.

This came from my grandmother.  When my grandfather passed away he was battling many demons that everyone was having to battle alongside him.  She was raising 14 kids because of those demons.  So… I thought he was perfect, I though that he was always happy, but that was not true and when he passes away, she didn’t cry.  I asked her why  and she said ‘I cried so much for your grandfather when he was on this earth, there’s no way I’m gonna cry for him now that he’s better off.’  And so I thought, ‘Number 1, I want to punch you  in the face.  And then 2 much later in life, that that is a song waiting to happen.’  So this will also cheer you up.

The song and sentiment are beautiful with plaintive lap steel guitar: “I will remember I will remember I will remember you… but I will cry for you no more.”

He continues, “So it’s said that festival crowds… this quiet does not happen.  This is beautiful I really do appreciate it.  I’m a very dynamic performer and I need this kind of environment so…  Festivals scare the shit out of me.  I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  This is an unbelievable atmosphere to play in.

before the final song, the rocking “What’s So,” which I also know from Tiny Desk, he says “This is the first time Newport for all of my band so they’re geeking out pretty hard.”  In addition to Jones and Morrow, there’s Reed Watson on drums and Matt Green on bass.

“I need more band members so I have time to tune.”

“What’s So” has an aching descending chorus line that is just terrific.

I really like John Paul White’s music and I’d love to see him live in a quiet sit down club..

[READ: June 24, 2017] “It’s a Summer Day”

I know Andrew Sean Greer from a few McSweeney’s books.

This was a simple story but told in a really cool style.  It concerns Arthur Less, a writer, who has been called to an international conference where he is in the running to win a prize.  But the prize is minor and no one–not he nor his agent–thinks he has a chance.  In fact, the only reason he went was to get out of going to a wedding of an old flame, Freddy.

Freddy had once given him advice about international flights: “They serve you dinner, you take your sleeping pill, they serve you breakfast, you’re there.”

I love the narrator’s voice in this story.

He had been to Italy before. Once when he was 12.  And the second time with Robert Brownburn (Yes, that Robert Brownburn, the famous poet).  They had been dating for a while and were at a good point in their relationship.

He did as instructed with the pills, but woke up in the middle of the night–only two hours having passed!  He takes out another pill and then it’s time for breakfast.  He is in a fog and the first few pages are an amusing comedy of him possibly going the wrong way.  He barely makes his local flight (and is shocked to see ashtrays in the airplane seats–charming or frightening?) And then… was it a mistake to get in the car marked for Sr. Ess?  The driver speaks no English and it sure looks like he is heading in the wrong direction. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Night 1] (February 25, 1994).

The next four shows are four of the five nights from the Second Annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-Mar 1, 1994. Setlists for all shows were fairly similar in content focusing mainly on the 25-30 songs that they would use for consideration on Introducing Happiness which began recording the following week. This first night featured 24 songs never previously released and a few that were played live very very rarely including Joey III, Floating, Fluffy, Green Xmas (which would appear years later as The Music Room on Harmelodia) and Symphony. Some of the audio on the beginning of each side of the tape is a bit warped and thus has a bit of a flange like effect for a few minutes.

That flange is very noticeable on “Jesus Was Once a Teenager, Too,” but it all settles down for “Tim Vesely going electric” on “Introducing Happiness.”  Bidini jokes that this is going to be their “up with life” album.

Introducing “One More Colour,” Dave Clark says, “Our next diddy is by a friend of ours who we last played with in Guelph.”  They follow it up with “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” and “Full Moon Over Russia.”  After this song they ask the audience which chord they like better during one section–the minor chord wins.

They introduce “Fishtailin'” as a song about “love and life and living and loving.”  But an even better introduction comes for “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds” in which Bidini says it’s a song about the missing link.  Mankind was just walking around on earth drooling a lot.  And then all of a sudden they were up flying kites and making hotcakes and colorizing films and making Top 40 Radio.  Some say aliens impregnated cro-magnon man.  Dave thinks they came down for just two days and made everything happen.

Before the next song, Clark asks, “Dave what’s the best time of the year?”  Bidini says “Spring time: spring training starts.  Clark says I find around September 23rd (Bidini says, that’s coz baseball’s ending) because it’s 21 degrees–my favorite temperature.  Bidini: “yeah well spring’s better.”

There’s some banter about rehearsal space.  Clark says the band that used the microphones after them left them smelling like cheese.  Tim: “and by coincidence the band is called “Cheesemike.”  Then Clark tells a story about them being on Lunch TV, with his friends calling up saying “hey man, what are you doing on lunch TV,” and I said, “what the fuck are you doing watching it?”  Martin is annoyed because he stepped all over his introduction to a sweet version of “Take Me in Your Hand.”

They ask if there are any complaints so far.  Has everyone who has written the band gotten a reply?  Then Tim requests that Martin sing a verse of “Fluffy” which has only been played one other time on the live bootlegs (back in 1990).  The verse about champagne  Champagne?  Martinis, sorry.  It’s incredible falsetto, but Martin stops the song and says it sucked.  The last time they did that song a dark cloud came over Saskatoon.  Martin gives himself credit for writing one of the sickest songs ever.

Then they do one of the “not sickest” songs ever written: “Claire.”  Whale Music the film is locking down on Tuesday.  Clark jokes “Lee Majors is in it!”–he isn’t.  And then a great version of “Me and Stupid” before they take a break.

Paul McCloud “and his two little clouds” played in between sets.

They come back and At the conclusion of “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos” Dave says that song is where Jethro Tull meets Rush.  Someone shouts, “What corner?”  Dave replies, “The corner of Bloor and Symington” (voted as the worst intersection in 2012).  At the end of “In This Town” Clark asks “who’s got Olympic fever? I do!”  Bidini asks, “Who’s your favorite Olympian?” Clark mentions a sportscaster….  Bidini says, “Dave hasn’t watched one second of the Olympics clearly, or he would have said Myriam Bédard.

Then there’s “Floating” a song I don’t know at all.  It’s a slow building Bidini song with a bouncy refrain of “up in the air” and a really noisy middle section.  After that he asks, “Didn’t everyone on the Finnish national hockey team look like Great Bob Scott?”  Clark says, “It’s funny you should mention that.  If I was gonna write a song for anybody it would be for Kevin Hearn, my favorite clown.  Of course none of you know who Kevin Hearn is… (ironic that they opened for BNL the previous year)

We had an idea one night that we would do a sequel to Melville–continue the stories from the album.  They only have two, this one “Onielly’s Strange Dream: is one of them.  It starts out very pretty with a recognizable guitar riff, but midway through the tape must change or something, it gets really loud and flangy.  It’s okay, it’s virtually impossible to forget the words on record.  It’s virtually impossible to forget the words “chicken Jimmy kept em alive,” To which Martin mumbles, “yea well he did.  It’s not funny.”

“Symphony” is also new to me.  On the song Bidini plays drums.  Martin stops the songs after a few verses and Dave complains that Clark was so jealous that Dave was playing drums that he forgot to turn the snare on.  And then Martin says it was way fast.  There’s some cool riffs and a line about no one takes solos in this band.  I’d like to hear that one more clearly.

Before the next song, Bidini says, I don’t play guitars on this, thank the lord.  Then there’s some drummer jokes:

Drums is a promotion actually–a drummer told me that.
Clark yells, “If Laura Lynn’s in the audience shame on you for cutting on drummers–they’re the foundation of any band.”
Bidini: “What did she say? How do you know a drummer’s at your door?  The knock speeds up and gets louder.  Coz if she did, that would be okay.”
Clark says, “Of course the most schooled musicians sit behind the tubs.”

The slow and country sounding “Row,” gets the dramatic introduction, “This is a song… Tim wrote.”  Then comes a rocking “Triangles on the Wall.”

Before “Bread, Meat, Peas and Rice,” Clark asks, “Just acoustic guitar and voice?”  But no, “Full band.” Clark jokes, “We’ll attempt a song we don’t know.”  At the end Clark asks, “Was that cannibolically inspired?”  “Alomar” is always a fun treat especially when followed by a wild and raucous “PROD.”  At the end Tim asks, “I wonder if Steven Page had a song, “We are the people’s republic of Steven Page, how would it go?”  And they give it a shot.

They then launch into the lurching “The Royal Albert” the other song that’ s a sequel (“Joey Part II”) which ends with the guys all singing what sounds like “soooey.”  After this song, Dave says, “We’ll take some requests because we’ve run out of new material. [Much shouting] Okay we’ll do them all.”

They start with “Record Body Count” which ends with a fugue vocal of everyone singing “Joey stepped up on a block of ice,” which is pretty cool.  It’s followed by the unrecorded “Joey III” (all three parts together, just out of sequence).  “Joey III” contains the “do you believe it” refrain from “Christopher,” which is a little odd, but which works.  This segues into a slow “Self Serve Gas Station” that eventually rocks out.

They end the set with some covers: a short, sloppy but fun version of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” (sung by Martin) and a pretty rocking version of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” (sung by Dave) which segues into a blast of “RDA.”

Despite the slightly muddy sound, this is a great set, especially if you like Introducing Happiness.

[READ: January 18, 2017]: “In This One”

I don’t really have a sense for what Stephen Dixon is doing in his writings.  He really likes to play with convention as a way of telling a fairly conventional story.

So, in this one, Dixon uses the phrase “in this one” in nearly every sentence.

It starts out “In this one he’ll have only one daughter and no other child.  In this one he’ll be divorced and his ex-wife will live in California…”

The character being discussed is a writer, “in this one he’ll have finished a novel a month or so ago after working on it for more than three years.”

In this one, his daughter tries to set him up with a coworker but neither finds the other interesting.

It sounds like Dixon is trying to write a new story–trying to create a character based on other characters.  But as the story proceeds it seems like this story is far more self-reflective.  In this one he meets a woman and he’s off to bed with her. But he warns her that it has been a long time and he hopes he’s able to get started. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Penguin Club, Ottawa ON, (March 13, 1993).

This is the only show from 1993 on Rheostatics Live and it is a really good one.  The sound quality is excellent and there’s a fantastic selection of songs.  The author of the show is listed as the CBC, and at the end of the show Dave mentions the CBC, so I’m assuming this was broadcast on the radio.

They open with “Who” the beginning of which is cut off, but only a little.

Martin says he wishes people could move closer because he can’t see them–move your tables up.  And then he sings a beautiful, mellow “Northern Wish.”  The guitars are gentle and echoing and the backing vocals are truly wonderful.  As the song ends a complicated clapping rhythm begins, which can only mean the introduction to “Rain Rain Rain” a song I feel they don’t play that much and which is really fun to hear–that wild guitar riff combined with those lyrics–“I’m feeling really down.”

“Soul Glue” opens with some great guitar sounds from Martin and with Tim playing the main riff on the bass.  “Greensprouts” has a rollicking wild middle section and is quite fun.  There’s a quiet section of the song as Dave Clark “brushes it up.”  During the quiet Dave Bidini says “if you know how it goes you can just start singing” and soon you can hear people shouting it in the back.

For “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson, Dave introduces it: “This is a love letter to Michael Jackson.  Honest.”  There’s a “Sweet Child of Mine” intro (even way back then).  Bidini says, “If Axl Rose wrote a letter to Michael Jackson, wouldn’t the world be a better place?”  It’s a rocking version that segues right into “RDA.”

Then there’s a few oddball songs in a row, like the one Martin says is “Only Beginning, The Sickening Song.”  This is played on accordion and has a great heavy riff (this one isn’t played too often either).  It’s followed by the decidedly weird and jazzy “Full Moon Over Russia.”

Bidini would like to dedicate this night to “our four Juno nominations.”  Tim Vesely for home gardening and would-e fashion plate posturing.  Clark chimes in: “Dave Bidini for best athletic supporter.”  Martin Tielli for most bizarre bone structure (up against Gowan… a real tight race) and Dave Clark for spreading garlic soup to the peoples republic of Ireland.  Later, Dave thanks Gowan, who is Lawrence Gowan, formerly of Rhinegold currently the singer and keyboardist of Styx.

Martin introduces “Record Body Count” as “this is an interesting song.”  It’s followed by their cover of Jane Sibbery’s “One More Colour.”

They give a little talk about the Green Sprouts music fan club.  But first Clark jokes, “We’re about to embark on a song that requires a lot of tuning, it’s a kind of Indian raga.”  Then Bidini says, “You can buy a sticker for a dollar… or maybe we’ll give you one (they only cost us a nickle to make). I don’t care if you buy anything, just write to us.”

Palomar sounds great on a an echoed (12 string?) guitar.  And then “King of the Past” opens with some strange guitar tuning and then it settles into beautiful version of the song.

“Self Serve” lopes along, and when he gets to the line, “What went wrong with Martin, is he dumb?” (someone shouts NO!) and you hear Clark go (enh?).  It’s followed by stellar versions of “California Dreamline” and “Horses.”  Martin makes some great sound effects and Bidini shouts a refrain of “are you bitter?”  As the song nears its end Bidini asks, “Does someone want to be on CBC radio singing the last verse of “Horses” by the Rheostatics?”  And someone (unnamed) does.

After the encore there’s  great verse version of “Queer” with fantastic harmonies.  Dave Clark takes a drum solo at the end of Queer which segues into a spritely version of “Alomar” that segues back to the end of “Queer.”  He ends it by singing
I hope you enjoy my new box set” a line from Barenaked Ladies.

“Edmund Fitzgeraldd” is a slow menacing version with great effects from Martin’s guitar.  During the middle of the ending chord, someone sings “I wish I was back home in Derry,” the Christy Moore song.  The song slowly fades out and they end the whole show with the lullaby “You Are Very Star,” a sweet song with whistling and everything and the saying Good night, everybody.

It’s one of the best recordings around.

[READ: December 26, 2016] “The Pet”

This is a very short piece (translated by Rachel Careau) from a collection of short fiction.

The story focuses very specifically on one thing–a spider in the narrator’s room, but I love the fascinating almost throwaway backstory to it.

One evening in August, as I was going to bed in the northeast room, which I had decided finally to use–the connecting wall of the other apartment had been broken through two years earlier…

Now this story is four paragraphs long, and half of the first is dedicated to that.  I found that fascinating. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ontario Place Forum (May 30, 1992).

This is a short set with the band opening for Barenaked Ladies, just prior to the release of Whale Music.

It’s a pretty intense set what with Horses, Shaved Head, California and Queer–especially since they’re opening for BNL.

The beginning of “Aliens” is cut off, but it sounds great and the end of the song Clark throws in a really fast verse of “Tom Sawyer.”  Indeed, the whole show sounds great.

While introducing “Soul Glue,” Dave says “Ladies and gentlemen, Doctor Christopher Brown” he plays piano and keys and is the Canadian musician who has been around for years in various bands.  “Horses” sounds great with the whole band really into it.  “Shaved Head” is wonderfully intense until the very end when Clark starts singing “pray for me King George” for some reason.

Bidini says this is the first time they played Ontario Place and he thanks them for being very gentle.  Then Clark adds “Don’t forget to get up and wag your bums around folks or else you’re gonna get cold.”

Then there’s another great Martin song, “California Dreamline.”  Before the final song, they introduce each other (incorrectly) and also Brown and Lewis Melville on pedal steel.  And then they encourage everyone to make Ontario Place, “one big green sprouts music club.”  “Queer” sounds great and has a little slide guitar section (from Melville) and a piano section (from Brown) before seguing into the finale of the song.

I love this note added to the concert:

 This was the night that Rheos and BNL finished their show at Ontario Place and then all made their way to Clinton’s Tavern to join The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir onstage. That was the show where BTC started their final song People Get Ready with all members of the Bourbons on stage and then gradually they swapped out with other musicians until the song finally ended with none of the band onstage, only members of other bands.

[READ: August 28, 2016] “Creative Licentious”

I believe that this is an excerpt from a story called Instruction.  And while an excerpt is often unsatisfying in its incompleteness, I don’t think any more of this story would have made it any better.  In fact I found it too long as it was.

The basic premise is that artists are subject to all kinds of abuse.  George takes the abuses over the top and makes them repulsive–he fosters an “only the strong survive” type of attitude. In addition to producing a piece of art a week, students must also attend interviews, perform menial jobs, as well as carpentry and maintenance around the building.  They must also repair the stables and bury the dead horses at the rate of once per week.

If the story had ended there, I would have been amused by the excesses of the story but this was one of a dozen or so sections, each of which goes to the same extremism as the above (and more). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: June 19, 2017] Barenaked Ladies

It was almost exactly a year ago that we saw Barenaked Ladies.  And it was almost exactly a year ago that I decided that even though their shows are a ton of fun, I didn’t really need to see them again (it’s been like 7 times now), because they have gotten kind of samey.

And then I saw that they were playing Steelstacks–the place where I have gotten unbelievably close to quite a few bands.  So this was the chance to go out with a blaze of glory and see them up close for the first time.

But then there was the threat of torrential thunderstorms.  So they moved the show inside to the Musikfest Cafe.  We were pleased about that as the thought of standing in the rain isn’t appealing.  The rain all ended by about 7 so it was moot, bit whatever.  This meant that we could see this band in a teeny tiny club where the sound was amazing.  A local paper says that the outside show approximates 3,000 tickets.  The Cafe holds about 1,000 people.  The paper said that 1,032 tickets were sold for the show.  That’s not much for a fairly large band like BNL, but I have to wonder (and hope) that a lot of people came as walk-ins and were turned away. (more…)

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