Friday, August 28, 2009

That "50 Bands" Facebook thingy...

I knew there was a reason I don't do those Facebook sharing games. The same reason I don't smoke dope - once I start, I can't shut up!

But I couldn't resist the chance to compile another list (remember the O/CD Tally?; I'll get back to that) - the "50 Bands/Concerts You've Seen" thingy. Rather than pluck them from my feverish brain, I found the glass jar into which I throw my ticket stubs (there are stragglers in other places relating to photo discs, set lists, etc.) and began to pluck 'em out at random. Given my penchant for yabbering on, I've only gotten to 25 in the last hour. This is gonna hurt me more than it does you...

1. Lisa Loeb – 9:30 Club, DC (March 1, 1996)
First one out of the jar and it was a show on my birthday! A favorite way to celebrate. I like Loeb just fine so we went with a bunch of friends. No offense to Loeb but it was more about the event than the music.
2. They Might Be Giants/NRBQ – Wolf Trap, NoVA (June 1994)
The two Johns once came to a birthday party (is this a theme?) Terry threw for me in our Bklyn basement apartment Back In The Day (they are friends of a friend, another musician). They complimented Terry’s coffee-laced chili and presented me with a cardboard hat with a toy camera attached. NRBQ are a kind of legendary band, but didn’t do much for me. TMBG are always great fun.
3. HFS Holiday Nutcracker , Patriot Center, NoVA (Dec. 1994)
Had to look up who played at this one - Simple Minds, Go-Go's, Veruca Salt, Big Audio Dynamite, Evan Dando, Pete Droge and Freedy Johnson. I remember B.A.D. best; they were doing great dance/pop/punk. When the girls were at the right age, we went pretty much every year.
4. John Sebastian – Barns of Wolf Trap (April 1998)
I was a huge Lovin’ Spoonful fan and, at age 17 or so stood, speechless, as JB walked past me on an NYC street. I kicked myself afterwards. I told him that story after this show, disappointingly light on Spoonful/solo material (he was in a jug band phase) but he signed my vintage 45 picture sleeve, “nice to see you again,” so he’s still a cutie.
5. The Edge/Universal/Hayden – Trinity St. Paul’s (June, 1998)
I’m writing the words as they appear on the ticket but I have no idea what it means. I was in London. A classical performance?
6. HFS Nutcracker – Patriot Center (Dec. 1998)
Hole, Soul Coughing, Eels, Garbage, Cake. I was with Emma (12 at the time) and we’re sitting in the press seats on the floor. Some jerk says to me, “You’re too old to be here. “ I say, “And you’re too rude to be here.” Got some great photos of Courtney Love (who wasn't very good) and Shirley Manson (who was/is a fun, foxy lady).
7. Brian Setzer Orchestra – Warner Theatre, DC (Nov. 1998)
I better remember a different show from BS with his Big Band group – one held during one of Terry’s conventions in California, on a military base. Big bands (good ones) are fabulous for dancing.
8. Ben Folds Five – 9:30 Club (Feb. 1998)
I saw BF5 a few times, the absolute best being a show at GMU Gunston Hall right before the album with “Brick.” This one was close to it. They were a terrific live band and, though I’ve seen and enjoyed Folds as a solo act, never as much as when he was with the other two guys.
9. Tibetan Freedom Concert – RFK Stadium, DC (June 1998)
This was the infamous 2-day affair during which a lightning storm stopped the show, put some fans in the hospital and caused travel chaos. Some fine music, though – Radiohead, Pulp, Pearl Jam, R.E.M... Two memories of the latter - Michael Stipe wore an Indian print skirt on stage and then deliberated stood where the photographers in the pit were blocked by his music stand (much grumbling). And I got into a debate with him in the press tent about producing a film from that vile "American Psycho" book. He seemed to enjoy having someone disagree with him for a change.
10. P.J. Harvey – 9:30 Club (Nov. 1998)
She’s so intense. I admire her, but don’t always enjoy her stuff.
11. Tori Amos – MCI Center, DC (Aug. 1998)
See above.
12. Paula Cole – 9:30 Club (Feb. 1998)
One of Grace’s first shows. She was eight. Cole was in a pissy mood and, since she was basically a one-hit wonder, too bad on her.
13. Ani DiFranco/Rebirth Brass Band – Wolf Trap (June 1998)
A lotta ladies this year! And she’s one of the best. Her stuff can get samey on the rhythm end, but she’s so cool. Lots of lesbian PDA's made it an interesting night for conversation with Emma.
14. Warren Zevon – Beacon Theatre, NYC (Feb. 1990)
Saw him open for someone in England as “Werewolves” was breaking, and at Birchmere (the best time), and at the State theatre (last time before he passed). He was a true original. Enjoy every sandwich.
15. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Radio City Music Hall, NYC (Oct. 1990)
Not sure if this counts as a concert (there was singing), or a play (there was a story of sorts), or anything that actually counts as entertainment. But we brought Emma, age 4, and she was thrilled. Now that I think of it, it was very close to the experience we had seeing Britney Spears many years later.
16. Avril Lavigne – Patriot Center (May 2003)
For Grace. I was actually quite impressed with her voice (Avril’s that is). Riot grrrl with training wheels. And then she got annoying.
17. Gaelic Storm – Birchmere, NoVA (Sept. 2003)
This Celtic band is great fun. Went with dearly missed (alive and well; she moved to England) friend Nancy, who was largely pregnant. I had interviewed the band and wrote about them, so we were invited backstage where I mistakenly said “we’re expecting…” and am sure the band thought we were a gay couple (not that there’s anything wrong….)
18. Good Charlotte/New Found Glory – Patriot Center (May 2003)
Emma, and later, Grace were both crazy about GC for awhile. And I appreciated them, too. They were sweet local misfits who played with great energy and joy And then came the day the Madden twins were curt with their fans when visiting Reston Town Center. What made it worse, that same night, they appeared at a different concert (which we also saw) and blathered between every song about how much their fans meant to them, we couldn’t be here without you, blah, blah, blah. And then they started dating supermodels and the music went south.
18. Ben Harper/Jack Johnson – Bull Run Park, NoVA (June 2003)
Not sure why JJ’s laid-back surfer dude music is so pleasant and soothing – in theory, that stuff makes me roll my eyes. But he’s pretty charming. I was alone and tired and got free tickets (another preview), so I stayed for a handful of BH songs and then split. I appreciate him in theory, but he doesn’t move me.
19. The Proclaimers – Birchmere (Sept. 21)
These guys are more than just “500 Miles.” Not a lot, lot more, but they can keep an audience fully engaged for a night. Went with my pal Matt (in a kilt!) so that was very cool.
20. Fountains of Wayne – 9:30 Club (April 1997)
The two songwriters here are among the smartest working in pop today. And though the band doesn’t have much to offer in onstage personality, they play great songs with great skill and that’s enough for me. Have seen them 3, 4 times.
21. Poi Dog Pondering – 9:30 Club (June 1997)
My friend Aries told me how much she loved this band, so I tagged along not knowing a note of their music. That’s usually a recipe for disaster but the band’s energy, good feeling, and Talking Heads-style smart dance music made it an amazing show. I have since bought many of their albums and still haven’t found the song I loved most that night (sample lyric: “I am exactly where I am supposed to be.”) Also notable for the German tourist who tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I want dancing. Dancing with you.” (I politely declined.)
22. Jane Siberry – Birchmere (Sept. 1997)
Oh, Jane. Jane, Jane, Jane. An extraordinary artist, an agreeable but obstuse interview. And an acquired taste. She can be brilliant, she can be head-scratchingly confusing, but she’s never dull. Terry and I have seen her a number of times, but one of my true concert regrets is that I did not see her “Bound By the Beauty” tour, since that album has some of her most accessible, euphoric songs.
23. Foo Fighters – 9:30 Club (July 1997)
One of the hardest-working, hardest-rocking and best live bands going. And the drummer is sexy cool. Seeing them at 930 was a major treat, though they never disappointed at the various arena fests where I’ve seen them.
24. Soul Asylum – 9:30 Club (June 1997)
SA were previewing material from a new album after going huge with “Grave Dancers’ Union.” It was fun, but I left the show to discover that my car was broken into and my checkbook stolen. Ensuing headaches over bounced checks wiped away whatever I heard at the show.
25. Ben Folds Five – Gaston Hall, NoVA (Dec. 1997)
Which takes us back to #8.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Squirrel strikes again

Have you been following the story of the squirrel that inserted itself into a young couple's vacation photos?
The joy of the Internet is that silly little stories like this go viral and everybody can get in on the fun. People have been photo-shopping the furry little creature into all sorts of places. Here's my current favorite:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just the Facts, Ma'am

No more house on the lake. (Well, the house is there but I am not.) I'm getting back in the groove, but it's a deadline week for the Post, so I am not blogging in full just yet. But I can share a few links from my recently published past...

First, the latest Washington Post previews, posted last week.
In the Arlington/Alexandria Extra section - Caravan of Thieves at the IOTA
For the Fairfax Extra - Prog rock violin/keyboard hero Eddie Jobson at Jammin’ Java

And here are the two latest stories on the Examiner site.
1. A free new Radiohead track – and a wonderful benefit single dedicated to the recently deceased last British soldier from World War One.

2. Two free downloads to preview the upcoming studio album from David Mead and a free live CD, too (in exchange for your email eddress).
DAVID MEAD - Live at Eddie's Attic 2/4/09
I downloaded the album myself and highly recommend it - a wonderful introduction to this skillful, beautifully voiced singer/songwriter.

And don't forget, you can subscribe to my examiner column so that you’ll be informed of each new story when it goes online. Although all digital music is fair game, I'm concentrating on free, legal downloads, so there's something in it for you!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

House on the Lake - again!

It's been two weeks since the last blog entry? Oh, dear. And now I'm on "vacation," at the upstate NY lake house. Will that provide me with yet another excuse? No!

First, the latest Washington Post previews, which were posted last week.
In the Arlington/Alexandria Extra section, we have:
Keegan DeWitt, Annie & the Beekeepers at Galaxy Hut
and in the Fairfax Extra, there's:
Marina V at Falls Church Episcopal Church

And here are the latest stories on the Examiner site
(please subscribe so that you’ll be informed of each new one when it goes online):
New Tales to Tell: A Tribute to Love And Rockets
The Dodos - Time to Die
Both of these stories included zip files of the digital downloads being sent to me, so I'm including them in the tally.
And this story was inspired by an actual,physical CD.
Datarock - Red (Nettwerk)
Datarock plays tribute to Talking Heads

When John Hughes died, I thought he deserved
a little appreciation for the great music he used in his films.

The O/CD Report (long gone, but not forgotten)
Went to the Thrift store last week. Donated a throw pillow, a coffee pot, some videos, a few T-shirts and various castaway toys. Got five new CDs for $1.50 each.
SWITCHFOOT – Learning to Breathe (Rethink/Sparrow)
I like this band. They’re Christian rockers who celebrate their faith without pushing their agenda (although I don’t know whether they get preachy in concert). I didn’t recognize this CD cover (three stickmen with TV-type heads) so I thought maybe it was a rarity. Now I see (through the amazon listings) that it’s the standard debut release on their original Christian label, before they got signed to Sony. One slight change, though. Here, the hit single is called, “I Dare You to Move.” Sony dropped the “I” when they put the track on “The Beautiful Letdown” release.
(The Best of) NEW ORDER (Qwest/Warner Bros.)
No, not the deluxe box set thingy, but enough good music for the reference library in the meantime.
CAROLE KING – Really Rosie (Ode/Epic/Legacy)
The original TV soundtrack featuring the wonderful “Chicken Soup with Rice.” There’s a “Where the Wild Things Are” movie coming, which would have me really worried expect that it’s directed by Spike Jonze, and I saw a pretty good trailer, so there’s hope it may capture the whimsical magic of the book. It’s time to renew (or continue) our memberships in the Maurice Sendak Appreciation Society. Let the wild rumpus start!
SWITCHFOOT – Live in San Diego (Columbia Music Video)
It comes in a CD-size case, but it’s a concert video.
TRAVIS – Why Does It Always Rain on Me? (Independiente)
4 music tracks, including a live song and the band’s cover of “…Baby One More Time,” plus multimedia which I can’t play, since it’s for older/different computer platforms (I’m a mac). There’s a sticker on the cover, promising stickers inside but, alas, they are not included.

YTD O/CD Tally:244