Saturday, May 30, 2009

Living in a Rockwell Painting

Cotton candy, ferris wheels, funnel cakes and fireworks. Alas, with the entire family doing a South Beach diet, I can't partake of the food, and I have no patience to wait on the long lines for the rides, but I can admire the pretty turning wheel and the man-made shooting stars.

The annual Herndon Festival - in the town next door to mine - is one of those small town affairs that reminds me that, even though I live about 25 miles outside American's Seat of Power, I have a pretty idyllic life. Families and teenagers mingle side by side, enjoying the balmy night with rides, food and rationally consumed beverages.

I am rather perturbed, however, by the kiddie slide that looks like the deck of the Titanic. In 100 years, are our great-great-great (how many "greats" do I need?) kids going to play on some inflatable Twin Towers?

That lapse of taste aside, the festival always has music, and there are usually a few acts that pull me in to check out. One year, the mighty Matt Nathanson (coming to Wolf Trap on June 10th, opening for the Indigo Girls) killed on the smaller "Depot" Stage while the Association played oldies on the bigger Town Green.

This year didn't have that much excitement. Last night, Lenka was on the schedule but heavy rains drowned it out. Tonight, I wandered over to see Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, a band that passes through town on a regular basis and was recommended to me by one of the principals at my dear Jammin' Java.

I got there in time for the band's last set, about 30 minutes of mid-tempo, slightly Tom Petty-ish rock that didn't make a major impression. Leader Murphy mentioned that the band has recently been doing a lot of Dylan covers, and they offered a credible cover of "Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again." Here's a taste:

And there was one original song, "In Her Own World," that worked a nice bit of a Beatles song into the break, so maybe the band could do more in a longer set when they get to stretch out a bit. Based on this evening's snippet of a show, I wouldn't necessarily race out the door to see them, but they could offer a reasonable way to kill a night and some beers.

Leaving GM&TSCoD, I checked out the smaller stage near the entrance of the festival, where a guy named Glen Burtnik was doing some power pop material with a decent beat. He was an older dude, and I kept thinking I had heard his name before. The Wikipedia just informed me that he used to be a member of Styx! Wonder if he did any of their stuff earlier in the night? I would have enjoyed that in a post-modern ironic way. As it was, he also did a respectable job on a cover of a better-known artist, The Police's "Synchronicity." And here, too, a sample:

And then the town shot off fireworks and the Big Night was over, all before 10 p.m.
Cause that's how we roll out here in the sticks. (Styx?)

Oh, got my laptop back today - it's purring like a new kitten.
And Happy 100th Birthday, Benny Goodman!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Night Video! and such

I am suffering from Phantom Limb Syndrome. My laptop is in the shop at Apple, getting a new logic board and hard drive - all within three weeks of its warranty running out, so I was lucky it went in just in time. But I miss my baby; it's like an extension of my arm and All My Stuff is there, 'cept for what I tossed onto a thumb drive before they pried it from my hands.

So, I'm working on Hubby's computer and can't access all the standard blog files. It's a good time to dig back to some oldies that I never got around to tallying Way Back When. Here's a batch of My Own Cash Money purchases from Ye Olde Thrift Store, where CDs are $1.50 all the time!
2001: A Space Odyssey (Rhino)
Always good to get a mix of classical favorites and soundtrack bits from a classic film.
OUTKAST - Hey Ya! (Arista)
Sure, I have the mp3 - which is still damn catchy - but the CD single comes with the video, also damn catchy.
HOT CHOCOLATE - You Sexy Thing (EMI)
A CD single which also includes “Every 1’s a Winner," two great disco-era songs that go great together. Taken from the "Full Monty" soundtrack.
MADONNA - Hollywood (Maverick/Warner Bros.)
I bought it cheap, thinking it might have some resale value, but it wasn’t worth enough to post on ebay or amazon, and it wound up back in the bag to go to the trade-in store. I am not a Madge fan. Don't get me started.
DESTINY’S CHILD - This is the Remix (Columbia)
Greatest hits, redone. But does not include the amazing mash-up of "Bootylicious" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit." That would have shown that Beyonce has a great sense of humor.
HEAR MUSIC: Volume 8: Between Stories (Hear Music)
I would buy every Starbucks sampler they made if they were priced more reasonably, and not like new releases from major artists.
YAZ - Upstairs at Eric’s (Sire)
Fun to revisit the sound of classic new wave (we didn't dare call it disco then) like "Situation" and "Don't Go." A chance to replace vinyl. Also made for a nice little treat to share with a rabid Depeche Mode fan-friend at Apple.

YTD O/CD Tally: 173
(I added one more for the previously mentioned Cloud Cult DVD)

And, as a reward for letting me indulge in easy catch-up, here is a link to a wonderful new addition to the hopefully ever-growing Literal Video Library (the only other one I know of is "Take On Me." Please tell me if you find others!)
"Total Eclipse of the Heart," as good as it ever was, maybe better:

Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I'm only falling apart...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's the CPF Blog Bicentennial!

According to whatever Blogger uses to track these things (the technical term might be 'counter'), this is the 200th Close Personal Friend Blog posting! (cue the virtual confetti)
Thanks for sticking with me.

A quick one today - the two most recent Washington Post stories:
The Bangles at State Theatre
Celeste Starchild at FireFlies, Evening Star

And a very Happy Birthday to Grace (a.k.a. College Girl)!
19 today, and seen here from an Inauguration week visit with Josh Miller (left) and Nate Lanthrum, formerly of Troubled Hubble and currently of (respectively) Picture Books and Kid, You'll Move Mountains.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I want to run away and join the Cloud Cult

CLOUD CULT - No One Said It Would Be Easy (Earthology/Rebel Group)
I first heard of this band during a trip to Minneapolis a few years ago. They were getting play in the local press and so I made a custom mix CD at a Sam Goody store (a great service that died an early death) to learn more. But it wasn’t until “Take Your Medicine” popped up on a College Girl mix that I was pulled in by Craig Minowa’s high-pitched, vulnerable voice and the band’s unforced yet forceful groove (think of Conor Obert fronting Poi Dog Pondering).

The band played in DC earlier this year and, though I didn’t get my lazy butt in gear, College Girl did and came back with a glowing report. And now, after seeing this beautifully made, emotionally effecting documentary, I am salivating for the next opportunity to see Cloud Cult live. I want to hug them.

As you might expect from a sprawling ensemble that’s as much an art collective as a touring act - they play with two painters on stage, creating canvases as the band performs (our boys Troubled Hubble did that on one tour, too) - Cloud Cult’s DVD is a well-considered mix of the musical and visual. At first, it plays as a straight-forward well-constructed rock doc - nicely shot live footage and backstage moments, home movies, and thoughtful interviews. Skillfully directed and edited by John Paul Burgess, with artwork and illustration by CC’s own painter-member Scott West, it’s stylish, coherent, informative and fun.

But about midway through, a bombshell drops in Minowa’s otherwise standard tale of trying to get a musical career going while also working as an organic farmer and environmental activist. I won’t say what happens so as not to spoil the emotional impact for those unfamiliar with the tale, but Minowa’s talk of community and spirituality and the healing power of music and art (he considers live shows “sacred territory”) suddenly takes on literal life-and-death importance.

Don’t get nervous - there’s no preaching or self-righteousness, just an engaging, inspiring example of nice people doing good things in a manner that makes you wish you could hang with these wonderful musicians. And, for the 100-minute length of this engrossing DVD, you can.

Bonus features include two music videos (“Everybody Here is a Cloud” is especially fun) and two live songs. And there’s also a digital download of 5 live tracks included, printed on plantable seed paper. (The band’s own Earthology Records is an intensely environmentally friendly company, using recycled jewel cases and paper, soy inks and geothermal energy at the studio to put real-world muscle behind their Utopian vision.)

I can’t recommend this band, its music and this DVD highly enough.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Go for Five, See What Follows

I think it's working. I say I'll write up just 5 discs and then a few more sneak in. It's a random selection for you, but it keeps me focused. As Ben Folds once sang, "I'm crazy but I get the job done."

The daughters and I took a trip to the CD trade-in store. I’ll add theirs in later (since I paid for ‘em and get to copy ‘em). And I just got two:
FRANK SINATRA - The Capitol Collector’s Series (Capitol)
20 tracks for $1.99? Even if I may already have this one (haven’t found it yet), it’s worth it to have a car copy.
The 60’s COLLECTION - Various Artists (Koz Records)
60 tracks over 3 discs (not the cheapie 10-12 per) with a good mix of stuff I know I love/want - Sandi Shaw, Tremeloes, Dave Davies (I've got all the Kinks’ tracks, but it’s always a joy to hear “Waterloo Sunset”), Foundations, and some oddities that I don’t think of as hits - Long John Baldry, Flowerpot Men (?!), Overlanders.
My external hard drive collection will eat ‘em up, yum.

TIME and DISTANCE - Gravity (Not Alone Records)
The PR group sent a second, cardboard-jacket advance copy of the CD, due in July, and I finally got a chance to listen to it. Can’t say that it strikes me as anything special in the getting-to-be-unwieldy glut of pop/punk/emo bands, so I passed it on to College Girl and asked her to get back with her opinion. As someone who can tell New Found Glory from Motion City Soundtrack, she would know if they’ve got stand-out quality.

Catching Up with Some Digital Downloads.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. Zip files are easy to send/receive but easy to forget. Maybe that’s why I never got around to mentioning
The DECEMBERISTS - The Hazards of Love (Capitol)
I was over the moon, as the saying goes, to get a digital advance of this one, as I consider the Decemberists one of the best bands extant. And yet, even after a few listens, one being an all-attention-paid long car ride, I still can’t be sure whether this is Colin Meloy’s masterstroke or major folly. The concept is so audacious, the prog-rock forays so blatant, I can’t be sure what to take seriously and what's intended as giddy irony. And yet, since it has that unmistakable Decemberists sound, I delight whenever a single track comes up in my shuffle mix or on the radio. Just not sure about the Whole Grand Thing. The band is playing at Merriweather Post on July 8, with Andrew Bird and Robyn Hitchcock opening. That's a helluva show. I think I need to be there to make a final call. Whatever the verdict, I still <3 this band. And, as I type this, I am downloading the digital booklet from the band’s artfully antiqued web site. Thanks, guys. I will feel better getting a more tangible hold on this.
(PR photo)
The PAINS of BEING PURE at HEART - S/T (Slumberland)
On the band’s myspace page, this NYC-based mixed-gender (one girl) quartet lists its influences as The Pastels, The Ramones (I don’t hear that kind of propulsion), Teenage Fanclub, Black Tambourine, Dear Nora, Rocketship (I confess - I don’t know the last three), Kurt Cobain (they’ve issued a 7” called “Kurt Cobain’s Cardigan”) and My Bloody Valentine’s "Paint a Rainbow." To that, I would add Stone Roses and Belle & Sebastian, and I can’t believe they’re not British. I can’t recall now how I got this download (probably emusic) but I’m glad I finally caught up with it. I expect to return soon.
What do they have bubbling in that hot spring water in Iceland? This Icelandic quintet throws it all in the blender - catchy 60’s style pop hooks, spacey keyboards, brass blares, some over-the-top diva-esque backing vocals. I can’t understand a word they’re saying, but I dig it. When the 8 tracks (out of 15) that I grabbed from from the emusic site ended, the next song that came up in my iTunes set was Dusty Springfield’s “Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This” and it segued just fine, which is a good sign. An emusic feature says the band’s “songs are like novellas, with misbegotten characters stumbling dumbly around empty ideologies and taking long trips with no destination in mind.” How do they know? Whatever, it sounds cool. There are two frontmen - Snorri Helgason and Bergur Ebbi Benediktsson - and I can cut-and-paste their names and titles like “Deus, Bóas Og/eða Kjarninnto” to make me look like smart, but I am clueless. Maybe the lyrics would be totally lame in translation, so I’m just gonna bob my head and enjoy ignorant musical bliss.

Okay. So we've been up late and around the world.
YTD O/CD Tally: 165

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Today's Five (+1)

Okay, I can do this thing. Just five CDs each day until such time as I catch up with all the stuff that's coming in the door and over the network.

Today's a "My Own Cash Money" edition:
BOB DYLAN - Together Through Life (Columbia)
Grad girl was spending an amazon gift certificate and needed a few more dollars in goods to get free shipping. At a killer price of $16 for the deluxe 2-CD and 1-DVD set, the new Dylan was a no-brainer. The one negative review I read said the album is a downer, but I disagree. As usual, Dylan has surrounded himself with brilliant but never flashy players and this time he’s doing straight-ahead southern blues with a touch of N’awlins swamp. Simply produced and simply gripping.
The second CD is a sample of his Radio Hour with the theme of Friends & Family. I haven’t played it yet, but am looking forward to it. Satellite radio is one of those ideas that sounds great in theory, but I have no time left, after my Internet streams, download offers and puffy envelopes to even consider paying for more musical options.
LANDON PIGG - Coffee Shop EP (RCA)
A former Apple associate gave me a $15 iTunes gift card back on my birthday and I finally got around to redeeming it. Inspired by the commercial for a product which I now can't remember, the one that starts with the gentle male voice, “I think that possibly, maybe I’m falling for you...,” I googled to find the title and then zapped to iTunes and bought this guy’s 5-track EP. Good stuff. The full song from the ad (turns out it's for Zales diamonds) is as good as I hoped it would be, there’s a cover of the old Sinatra standard, “Young at Heart,” and he even sings in what I think is Italian, or perhaps Portuguese: “Magnetismo (Magnetism)."

And I had a visit to the Thrift Store today. Three bags of donations in, four CDs brought home. Not much time to sort through the offerings - and there appeared to be some new stuff in fine condition - but I’m content with these:
BEN LEE - Breathing Tornados (Grand Royal)
Actually, I only realized after popping this in the car player that I mixed up my Bens - I was thinking of Ben Kweller when I grabbed this one. Not that I don’t like Ben Lee. Saw him open for...hmmmm - was it the other Ben (Folds)? - at Wolf Trap a few years ago and thought he was cute, if somewhat inconsequential. But even on the first listen, I found something I like here - “Nothing Much Happens.” And there’s a song called “Cigarettes Will Kill You” that my kids will no doubt haunt me with. Wow. I just checked the cover and this has a 1999 copyright. He was just a kid then!
BARENAKED LADIES - Rock Spectacle (Reprise)
I feel like I come home with a new, used BNL CD every time I visit the thrift store. Is someone slowly depleting a collection? But it's always good to catch up with what I’ve missed of the Canadian smartypantses' early work. This one has stuff I know - “Brian Wilson,” “The Old Apartment,” and a favorite, “If I Had $1000000” - along with stuff I can discover for the first time.
I am not a Blues Traveler fan. Too much jamband noodling, and John Popper has the exact opposite of sex appeal (sex repeal?) for me (it’s his attitude as much as his weight). But this album has the one song of theirs I can hum (“Runaround”) and they’re headlining the Celebrate Fairfax! Festival in a few weeks. I may be writing about it so, at a mere $1.50, this saves me research time and I can trade it off down the road.
YO-YO MA - J.S. BACH: 6 Suites for Unaccompanied Cello (CBS Masterworks)
Just reading the title gives me goosebumps. Ma! Playing Bach! All solo cello! A 2-CD set in excellent condition! Only $3!
Life is good. I think I’m taking this one up to bed to listen to as I fall asleep.
And that will be soon...

Oh, and I even got more than five in!

YTD O/CD Tally: 159

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

That’s What She Said

So...I was looking at the ever-growing collection of CDs that have come in since the year began, wondering how I let myself get so far behind in the O/CD Tally and I asked myself, Why not just list five each day? How Hard Can It Be? [fans of “The Office,” there’s your headline.]

So, let’s try that, at least for now.
Today’s Five:

DAVID WILCOX - Open Hand (What Are Records)
I bet David Wilcox is a damn nice guy. He’s a stalwart touring singer/songwriter who plays nice with others. I saw him once at a sparsely attended Jammin’ Java where he hopped on stage to sing with the band (I think it was Monk) and then faded quietly into the background, even though he probably could have sold out the same venue four times over on his own. And this new CD is beautifully designed - a 5-panel fold-out ecologically pure cardboard cover that folds and unfolds like a neat little puzzle. But what of the music, you ask? I listened to this one all the way through on Saturday’s drive to a Maryland party and found myself impatient for the music, not the drive, to end. Wilcox is sensitive and earnest and has a nice voice. I could see why many people probably think of him as a new James Taylor. But he leaves me restless, missing Sweet Baby James’ humor and playfulness and his ability to be sweet without being cloying. Sorry, DW.

And now we’ve got the My Own Cash Money group, purchased earlier this merry month of May when Borders was having a 50% off clearance sale. It was hard to resist deluxe editions from The Replacements, Justin Timberland and Beck, but even at 50% off, they were gonna break my budget. Still, I got some goodies (the first two for less than $7 each):
BRIGHT EYES - Motion Sickness (Team Love)
Here’s a guy who goes the extra distance to make albums that you want to buy in physical format. This one, a live set, includes a thick booklet with lots of photos and extended liner notes. I saw Bright Eyes a few years back at DAR Hall with a sprawling band and, while I didn’t always like what Conor Oberst did, he was totally intense doing it. Much the same can be said for this CD. Oberst has a tendency to jump into his higher, angry register at the 3/4 mark of just about every song which makes the dynamics predictable, but he always gets crack players to support him and knows how to use a trumpet like nobody’s business. “Mushaboom,” a song I associate with Feist, was a pleasant surprise here, especially as it shows a sense of joy that’s absent in much of his work. And “When the President Talks to God” always makes me want to throw something, but thankfully, we now longer have that particular Cowboy King to worry about.
SEU JORGE - The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions (Hollywood)
Where do I file this? Under Jorge’s name? Or under soundtracks? (He did the music for the Wes Anderson film of the title.) Or under David Bowie, since every song save one was written by him? If you’ve ever wanted to hear Bowie songs sung in lilting, acoustic arrangements with just a breezy voice and a guitar, here’s the album for you. And if you don’t speak Portuguese, the language in which all these songs are sung, that’s another layer of chill.
YEAH YEAH YEAHS - Gold Lion EP (Interscope)
Got the new CD on my Get List, but this will tide me over for now - a 4-track EP with a sticker on the cover promoting the (then-) upcoming “Show Your Bones” album. Three versions of the title track and a demo of “Let Me Know” - one single buck after half-price discount.
AMY MCDONALD - DVD Sampler (Melodramatic/Decca)
A freebie - 3 videos from her “This is the Life” CD.

Okay, so this makes the YTD O/CD Tally: 153

In Other News....Counting Crows have cancelled two shows (so far as I know) in their current British tour due to illness. We’re a Crows fan household, so Get Well Soon, Crow-dude(s) from all of us here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Lost Art of Fact Checking

Seems like I'm just posting about errors lately, but when I hear something that's just plain wrong, it inspires me to type...

Was just watching the local news (WUSA channel 9) when my ears perked up to hear a cute a little story about a local music school, "from Bach to Rock" (don't know if that's the name or a description) that held a Battle of the Bands at the 930 Club. I thought it was nice that the station was giving exposure to the club and to the local bands, made up primarily of teenage kids, who were getting a chance to play on the revered venue's stage.

And then the talking head behind the news desk said that it was great to see the kids on stage because "many of them are too young to get into the club" on a regular night,
The thing is, the 930 Club is an all-ages club. My youngest started going there with us when she was about 8. So that was a good line to end the story, but a lazy one. And incorrect, too.

I did a story more than a year ago about a similar amateur kids' band show at Jammin' Java, where the most fun was taking pictures. So, strictly to add some photo illustration to this otherwise skimpy posting...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Other People's Mistakes

Having just posted about messing up in one of my articles, I'm not going to dwell on the following; just sharing an email I received today about a young actor/musician who's coming to town.

It started with...
"Bryan would love to have his show featured on your website, newspaper and would love to be interviewed about his album, concert and his new HBO series."

and ended with...
"Bryan is excited to be visiting ___ where last time he was there he played to a sold out crowd!"

Remember, kids - proofreading is important!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Good News, Wrong News

Aarrrggghhhh. I hate when this happens. And I am glad to say that it happens rarely. But still, I made an error in one of my two stories printed in yesterday's Washington Post.

The preview that ran in the Fairfax section, for Natalie MacMaster at the GMU Center for the Arts, was fine.

But today, when I got back from the Richmond trip, I saw an email from my contact at the Birchmere, thanking me for the preview of Dr. John/South Memphis String Band but alerting me to the fact that I got the ticket price wrong and listed the show as happening in the Bandstand (all standing) instead of the Music Hall (seated). My bad.

I know how it happened - I pulled the block of details copy from a previous Birchmere preview and didn't crosscheck it with the info on the web site. In four+ years of doing Post previews, this was a new one. Which neither excuses it nor makes me feel better.

The show was tonight, so a correction would appear after the fact, which doesn't do the confused audience any good. So, I apologized profusely to the Birchmere guy, and will do so to my editor (luckily, he's a pretty mellow guy). And I will ask for a correction, as per the contact's request so that people know that the error was my fault and not the venue's.

These are the days I am glad I am not a doctor. Nobody dies when I screw up.

Virginia is for Vinyl Lovers

Greetings from Richmond, VA, final stop on the College Girl Farewell VCU Tour. Her last test was Thursday afternoon and I’ve come down to help her celebrate, pack up and come home. Tonight we had a festive if not delicious (too salty and rich for my taste) meal at the Can Can Brasserie in the fun-store area of Carytown, where there is a Plan 9 music store, a genuine 2-story independent vinyl and CD outlet. It’s like going to church; I have to stop in and pay a visit. We didn’t have much time before dinner (maybe we can return tomorrow?) but in those few minutes, I was smitten with all the racks of cool stuff brought in for last week’s Record Store Day.

Most of it was vinyl - a full set of Radiohead reissues, lots of 7” singles (most going for $5 and $6; there was a time when I could get them for under a buck each, after getting a slice of pizza and a can of coke for 25 cents!) They all looked stunning, and I was sorely tempted by the rich red vinyl Pretenders’ single and the double 10” My Morning Jacket EP, but even with the latter offering a CD in the package, I didn’t have a spare $20 and I can’t justify collecting more vinyl until I get the USB turntable up and running. My old skool vintage (read: old) turntable was acting weird recently when I was testing some maybe-to-sell records - it probably balked at having to play an old Fleetwood Mac bootleg.

Speaking of vinyl (yes, I digress) check out this
news report - Best Buy is going to start selling vinyl! And a few days ago, I opened an email from fye music, offering a discount on vinyl purchases, which I didn’t even know they stocked. The more things change...

But before we get too excited, I also read that overall sales volume for vinyl as a format is slightly more than 1,300,000 units a year (from 2007 RIAA sales reports). Overall. So, all the vinyl records sold in the entire year would just beat a single platinum CD by U.S. standards. We’re talking cult status for sure. But I’m still in the cult, on the fringes.

Anyway, much as I loved handling the vinyl, I was basically window shopping, not buying, though I figured I might have to get the $3 Costello 7” just to pay my tithe/respects to the store.

And then I saw a cardboard box marked “Freebies” next to the cashier desk. Of course, I peeked in. There were some CD singles from acts I didn’t know, except for Erin McCarley (I have her full-length); stickers, so I grabbed a bunch of Depeche Mode for one of the Apple store gang; and some postcards. And most amazing discovery!

STEVE GOODMAN - Live Wire (Red Pajamas Records)
I elaborate on what I told College Girl in explaining what finding this disc means to me:
Back in my college days, bored and lonely, I went to a free concert at a neighboring dorm to see this guy perform, knowing nothing about him except that his show was free. He was wonderful! By way of comparison, I would cite Matt Nathanson as his modern contemporary - solid songs, a hilarious stage presence with rambling stories and odd cover tunes, a damn nice guy who gives his all whether the audience knows and loves him or has no idea who the hell he is.
After that first night at Stony Brook, I saw Steve Goodman about half a dozen times, including a memorable show at NYC’s Bottom Line where I saw both Glenn Close and Jeremy Irons in the audience. They were appearing together on Broadway but sat at separate tables; Irons at the table just next to us, which caused us “Brideshead Revisted” fans to go fairly mental, though we tried to hide it. Steve Goodman was loved by Those In The Know.
I even got to interview Steve once (he’s the kind of guy you can’t help but address by first name) and he was a doll; genuinely pleased to hear that I was a true fan, and not just going through the promo motions. And then he died at age 36, in 1984, after living with leukemia during the entirety of his recording career.
Most of the obituaries made mention of the fact that he wrote “City of New Orleans,” and the royalties from that was probably what fed his family, but it was playing live that obviously fed his soul.
What the hell was this year-2000-dated live album from an obscure Chicago folkie doing in the 2009 freebie box of a Richmond record store? And why did I, a longtime fan of the man who thought she had every album of his, miss it when it first came out? It’s kismet, I tell you, and listening to it before I started writing this took me right back to those marvelous shows. And the set list is so much better than the live album I did have - 2006’s “Live at the Earl of Old Town.” That one was good, but this one is definitive. I still can’t believe it was just sitting there, waiting for me to find it.

I also pulled these two dsics out of the box:
The COOL KIDS - The Cake Sale (Chocolate Industries)
Just looked this one up on Google and found out it’s a hip-hop duo from Chicago and Detroit. If I’d known that, maybe I wouldn’t have grabbed it, but the graphics are so neat and the sticker says “The Highly Anticipated Release Featuring ‘Black Mags,’ ’88’ and Other Unreleased Material.” And it was free, remember? Can’t go wrong and might learn something.

I often buy the magazine, but don’t have the March/April issue, so this is a nice filler. There’s a Beirut track (College Girl saw them/him last month and loved them/him), one from Asobi Seksu (finally! I have been reading so much about them?/him?), and a frighteningly high percentage of people about whom I have not a clue. It used to be that I could forgive myself for not knowing all the acts on the CMJ samplers ‘cause they include all sorts of rap and metal that I don’t follow, but Paste is my demographic. Isn’t it? Or have I aged even out of that one?

I took my delicious discovery freebies to the counter, along with
ELVIS COSTELLO - Complicated Shadows/Dirty Rotten Shame (Specialty/Hear)
It was Elvis. It was only $3. It was a way to celebrate Record Store Day. It was a way to pay Plan 9 back, in some small part, for the gifties. And for still existing. Yeah, that's what I'll tell my husband when he asks why the hell I'm buying vinyl!

Time for bed, as I don’t think I can bear staying up for Craig Ferguson’s interview with Matthew McConaughy (love the former; can’t stand the latter). But since Animal Collective is doing a most bizarre (WTF? with those dancers? and I mean that in a good way) and infectious performance on Letterman’s show, I will add to the tally a digital download, care of emusic, from awhile ago:
ANIMAL COLLECTIVE - Merriweather Post Pavilion (Domino)
I haven’t had much time to spend with this CD, but anytime I hear a song from it, I am reminded to get back on the case - this could well be one of the year’s best. A MGMT-style sleeper that grows and grows and takes over the world.
CRAIG FERGUSON - A Wee Bit O’ Revolution (Image Entertainment)
I may end up buying/renting the DVD of this, as I just love the guy’s cheeky monkey expressions, but it was cheap to download through the service and fun to listen to. Sent a copy to mom, who loves him, too, in her Mother’s Day package, but I wonder how she’ll react to the track called “My Giant C***” (the astericks are used on the contents). Actually, I am surprised that the whole album isn’t more blue, since I bet this guy can go wild when he’s not worried about TV standards, but he’s cute enough to get away with it. I feel I owe it CF to buy his stuff since he gives me so much free fun every night. In a strictly platonic way. (Damn.)

YTD O/CD Tally: 148