bandwagon, vol 1

poor house - traveling wilburys
kept on the sly - south san gabriel
let's stick together - bryan ferry
finding you - the go-betweens
another sunny day - belle & sebastian
silicosis blues - gob iron
freeway - aimee mann
past time - the baseball project
national express - mark olson
catch you alive - damnations tx
you won't find me - mayflies usa
blame it on the tetons - josh ritter

South San Gabriel/Centro-matic in Brixton

Reminder: Sept 3rd @ Rickshaw Stop

it's only july, of the year...maybe

One Last Pitch for Tim Drew

from NPR
Morning Edition, July 30, 2008 · Tommy John won 288 games in the majors, but, of course, he remains far better known for the operation that now bears his name: Tommy John Surgery. In 1974, a tendon was replaced in his damaged left arm and, miraculously, he returned to pitch for another 13 years. So no one, perhaps, knows the capriciousness of athletic health better than he.

Today, John is still in baseball, the manager of the Bridgeport Bluefish, who play in the Atlantic League, one of those independent circuits that are pretty much stocked by forgotten older players who've been passed over by major-league organizations but still play for peanuts because they don't know what else to do and/or they let themselves still dream that they'll catch lightning in a bottle.

And, by God, it can happen. A 32-year-old has-been named Brandon Knight was in the Atlantic League last season. Saturday night, he started a game for the New York Mets.

Four nights before that, in York, Pa., John went out to the mound to remove a Bluefish pitcher who had just given up nine runs in barely more than three innings. But this time, when John took the ball from the pitcher, he also paused and embraced him.

The pitcher was Tim Drew. Who remembers now that, 11 years ago, Drew was a glamorous first-round choice in baseball's draft? I only know because of a wonderfully touching story written by Rich Elliott in The Connecticut Post. But, oh, what was written about Drew back then. Not only could the kid throw a baseball 94 miles per hour, but his older brother, J.D., was also selected in the first round. And not only that: Seven years later, yet a third Drew brother, Steve, was drafted in the first round.

Well, two outta three ain't bad. J.D., of the Red Sox, was the most valuable player in the All-Star Game a couple weeks ago. Steve is shortstop for the Arizona Diamondbacks. They made it big.

Tim did get to the majors. He pitched in all of 35 games. Mostly, though, he caromed around the minors until he ended up, 29 years old, pitching in Bridgeport, Conn.

The human arm really is not built to throw a baseball. Like John, like a lot of pitchers, Tim Drew's arm busted. He had an operation: Three tacks were inserted in his shoulder. He came back this year, but it didn't take him long to realize that whatever he had wasn't there anymore.

After the game in York, he only asked John for one more favor: Sunday, back in Bridgeport, to start the game against Camden, he put Eric DuBose, his best friend on the team, behind the plate, and Drew threw one more pitch.

Then Drew walked off the mound forever. He's going to go to community college. We hear about J.D. and Steve Drew. But most ballplayers are the brother in-between. They're Tim Drew, and they hate to leave the game, but one day they realize they must.

Just give me one last pitch and I'll be gone.

It was a strike, right on the corner.

Dodos, Beach House, Fleet Foxes, Foals & Pitchfork

The days of trusting Pitchfork with new music releases are clearly over. Once responsible for informing the masses of such great records as The Wrens' The Meadowlands, Pitchfork Media has evolved into nothing but a bunch of hipster bafoons in tight jeans, oversized shades and tight, nips-bearing ironic t-shirts.

In years past, whenever Pitchfork would lay praise to a record, I would often go out and pick up that release, and four times out of five, I was not disappointed. This all changed right around the time that Pitchfork launched their atrocious music festival. Suddenly the top reviews were handed to the most watered-down crap designed to reach the widest range of wanna-bes. This is an utter shame as Pitchfork used to be the premiere source for sorting out the good from bad. Now it's nothing but the Wall-Mart of the hipster generation.

Grocery Store Sighting

In my teens, it was a thrill to meet a few celebrities, namely Lou Brock, Sugar Ray Robinson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Ray Richardson and a few others. As I left my teens and entered the field of entertainment, I was able to meet a few others, including Beck, Derek Jeter and Jeff Tweedy. I once spoke to Aretha Franklin on the phone while working in music publishing. While at MTV, I once rode the elevator with Mel Gibson. I never did like Mel Gibson. While working in entertainment law, I sat in on a meeting with Alicia Keys. She seemed dull.

I'm sure there are more, but such meetings/sightings never left much of an impression on me. When given the opportunity to approach a celebrity, I usually turn up the ipod and trot away. There are very few people on this Earth that would cause me to truly tremble with excitement. Bruce Springsteen would be one, though again, I have no interest in ever meeting him. I like the Bruce that I know through song. I would like to shake Jimmy Carter's hand; that'd be fairly cool. And that's about all I can think of.

I've been fortunate enough to hang out with some of the people I admire most in this world. Almost every year at South By Southwest, I find myself in a bar or club talking music with Brent Best. I treasure the night in Philly about a decade ago when I put up The Gourds. In addition to playing Thin Lizzy until 5am, I'll never forget my conversation with Kev Russell the following afternoon while watching the Cowboys on TV.

After picking up some overpriced groceries this morning, I had trouble finding the area for cart returns. I looked everywhere and finally decided to just step through the sliding doors and park the cart inside the store. As the doors opened, I looked straight ahead and there looking at me was Krist Novoselic, former bassist for Nirvana. I can't say that Nirvana were ever one of my favorite bands, but I've always appreciated Novoselic's mellow demeanor and his interest in U.S. as well as world politics. He's always seemed to be a man of integrity and humility.

After realized that it was indeed Novoselic, I let go of the cart and turned around to head back to my car. It was a chance sighting of someone who's probably rarely recognized anymore. But to me, it was far more memorable than an elevator ride with Mel Gibson or a tedious meeting with Alicia Keys.

take a long last look

Album of Week 29


Bob Dylan : The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3
Columbia, 1991

Selling Out

Given the state of the music industry, most serious fans of music have grown to understand the need for artists to find alternative income streams. Whereas an ad spot or track licensed for some terrible ABC sit-com used to be the death-nail for artistic integrity and respect, many fans now turn a blind eye. I mean, what's a few tracks in an episode of that doctor show. No big deal. Our favorite artists have to pay the bills somehow, and checks from Warner or EMI sure aren't going to cut it.

I was a little surprised when Bob Dylan appeared in not only a Victoria's Secret ad, but also a Cadillac ad. But Bob has always done what Bob's wanted to do. Then came Wilco songs appearing in just about every VW ad that appeared on my television screen. I can understand a track or two, but licensing five or six songs from a new record seemed a bit much. Since I don't watch much television, I don't automatically see an image of a Jetta while listening to Sky Blue Sky. Similar to Bob, I let this slide.

This morning I visited the Wilco site for the first time in a few weeks. The first link on the homepage led me to a new Wilco photo contest. Before considering a potential entry, I glanced at the prizes: The first lucky winner would receive 1 pair of Jeff Tweedy-designed Nike ID running shoes. I had to re-read. And again. It's no secret that Nike has been at the forefront of the "sweatshop workplace" (the above photo is of a Nike factory in Vietnam). I've seen countless interviews with former CEO Phil Knight where he utterly ignored such crimes against humanity. Social responsibility was clearly nowhere to be found in a Nike employee handbook.

I obviously know nothing about Tweedy's partnership with Nike other than the line above. Maybe he's part of Nike's new campaign to be more responsible, and to actually treat their employees like human beings as opposed to utter waste. But in my eyes, Nike's despicable history is too long and beyond reproach. Tweedy's involvement with this narrow-minded and disgusting organization, is a disappointment, to say the least. Let's just hope that half of their next record isn't pre-licensed to Chevron.

Barack Obama in Berlin

I couldn't count the number of times that this speech resulted in my throat tightening. Please America, PLEASE, do not screw this one up.

Dylan Covers Cooke

This song's just as timely as it was in the 60s.

i'm trying to believe in you

How Strohm had to abandon music in favor of law school is beyond me. This is pop perfection.

Tangelo - John Strohm

Obama In Berlin

Go to and watch Obama's speech in Berlin. If this man is not elected to the presidency on November 4th, then we need to immediately overhaul the entire education system in this country from the ground up.

Okkervil River Tour


The new record, The Stand Ins, is due September 9th.

And here's the tour:

08-02 Chicago, IL - Lollapalooza
08-02 Chicago, IL - Schubas %
08-07 Oslo, Norway - Øya Festival
08-08 Gothenburg, Sweden - Way Out West Fstival
08-09 Haldern, Germany - Haldern Pop Festival
08-10 Urbino, Italy - Frequenze Disturbate Festival
09-12 Lawrence, KS - The Bottleneck
09-13 Omaha, NE - Slowdown
09-14 Madison, WI - Barrymore Theater ^
09-15 Fargo, ND - Aquarium
09-17 Seattle, WA - The Showbox *
09-18 Vancouver, British Columbia - Richard's on Richards *
09-19 Portland, OR - Crystal Ballroom *
09-20 Seattle, WA - McDonald Theater *
09-21 San Francisco, CA - Treasure Island Festival
09-23 Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theatre *
09-24 Solana Beach, CA - Belly Up Tavern *
09-25 Tempe, AZ - The Clubhouse *
09-26 Tucson, AZ - Club Congress *
09-28 Austin, TX - Austin City Limits Music Festival
09-30 New Orleans, LA - The Republic !#
10-01 Birmingham, AL - Workplay Theater !#
10-02 Athens, GA - 40 Watt Club !#
10-03 Athens, GA - Soapbox Laundro Lounge !#
10-04 Richmond, VA - The National !#
10-06 New York, NY - Webster Hall !#
10-07 New York, NY - Webster Hall !#
10-08 Northampton, MA - Pearl Street !
10-09 Millvale, PA - Mr. Smalls Theatre !
10-10 Buffalo, NY - Tralf Music Hall !
10-11 Montreal, Quebec - Les Saints !
10-12 Toronto, Ontario - Phoenix !
10-27 Copenhagen, Denmark - Loppen
11-01 Aarhus, Denmark - Voxhall
11-03 Paris, France - L'Alhambra
11-04 Bruges, Belgium - Cactus
11-05 Norwich, England - Waterfront
11-06 Manchester, England - Academy
11-07 Dublin, Ireland - Academy
11-09 Glasgow, Scotland - Oran Mor
11-10 Wolverhampton, England - Wulfrun
11-11 London, England - Shepherd's Bush Empire
11-12 Brighton, England - Concorde 2
11-14 Amsterdam, Netherlands - Melkweg
11-15 Hamburg, Germany - Knust
11-17 Berlin, Germany - Postbahnhof
11-18 Munich, Germany - Registratur
11-19 Milan, Italy - Musicdrome
11-20 Rome, Italy - Circolo Degli Artist
11-21 Bologna, Italy - Estragon
11-22 Vienna, Austria - Porgy & Bess (Blue Bird Festival)

None of You Stand So Tall


Listening to Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left, Pink Moon and Bryter Layter in one sitting is perhaps the closest I've ever felt to spirituality. This is music, poetry, landscapes, art, nature and dreams all wrapped into songs. It's quite possibly the most beautiful music ever made.

The Time Has Come

Leave the City - Magnolia Electric Company

On the bus ride home tonight, as I was battling the pushing and shoving and trying to drown out the 8 or 9 people chatting on their cell phones, I realized that it's time that I move on from city life.

I moved to Brooklyn in 1999 and found the city absolutely thrilling. From 99 to about 02, I spent most of my free time in Manhattan. I'd be out most Friday and Saturday nights seeing bands at the Mercury Lounge, Irving Plaza and throughout downtown, and usually the after-party's would last until the sun rose over the Hudson. In 2002 or so, approaching the age of 30, I began to notice a slight drop in my energy and enthusiasm to do such things. I was still seeing a lot of live music, but I often skipped the Manhattan shows in favor of bills at Southpaw in Brooklyn. And the late nights began to become a rarity.

At the turn of 2004 into 2005, I moved from Brooklyn to Sunnyvale, CA. The primary reason for the move was a nifty job opportunity, but I'd also grown a bit tired of Brooklyn. Now past thirty I found myself floating between what I was in 2000 and the young couples with the toddler. Sunnyvale was extremely quiet and boredom crept in, but I found the slow pace to be well, soothing. I spent most weekends inside my apartment listening to records and reading while also taking the occasional trip to a bookstore or cafe.

In January of 2006 I made the move up to San Francisco. I felt rejuvenated and quite spirited during that first year, but boy has that worn off. As much as I love the Bay Area, I have had a hard time finding a groove over the past year-and-a-half. Similar to the last year or two in Brooklyn, I just don't feel well-placed here. I open the gate to my apartment building and I seem to only see hipsters and Marina dongs. I'm fully aware that there's a lot in between, but it somehow scurries past my line of sight.

I am not a person of the suburbs. But I am 100% certain that I am no longer a person of the city, either. In the coming weeks and months, I will look to find something in between, if such a place exists.

Eight Books


White Bicycles: Making Music In the 1960s by Joe Boyd, Memoir, 2007: 6.7

Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey, Fiction, 2008: 8.0

Other Than Wilco


Jeff Tweedy is most prominently known as the frontman and founder of the turned experimental turned band Wilco. Most are also aware that prior to Wilco, Tweedy was co-leader of Uncle Tupelo (1987-1994), sharing the helm with Son Volt founder, Jay Farrar. In addition to his time in Uncle Tupelo, Tweedy has also been a key member to the self-proclaimed stuporgroup Golden Smog, co-leader of Loose Fur along with Jim O'Rourke, and an on-and-off contributor to Scott McCaughey's Minus 5.

Jeff Tweedy's career has extended far beyond his work in Wilco. And a lot of this outside work represents some of the best work of his still short career.

The following is a playlist of some of Tweedy's best work outside of Wilco.

Jeff Tweedy

Gary Louris

In 2000, prior to the Jayhawks taking the stage at Maxwell's in Hoboken, I asked Gary Louris if he'd be my best man on my wedding day. He did not answer.

when he realized, this one was here to stay

Download Festival @ Shoreline Amphitheatre

We arrived just in time to catch Yeasayer's set and simply put: This band won't exist within two years. They are dreadful. Next came Cut // Copy who were decent, but I spent the 35 minutes or so reading a book. Mutemath followed and I nearly picked up our blanket and walked in front of a bus. They were that bad. Next was Brand New which led to the following line by my girlfriend, "This is the worst band I've ever seen live." And she was right. Good god, how do these bands have fans.

After this plethora of garbage, we finally got to see Gang of Four followed by Jesus & Mary Chain. Both were quite good, and despite there only being about 400 folks in attendance at this point, the $40 (plus $15 to park in a barren lot) spent on tickets finally felt somewhat worthwhile.

But the real story behind this absolutely atrocity of a "festival" was the lack of thinking of the folks behind booking and organizing this event. Whomever had the final say in the choice of acts should never, ever have the responsibility of booking a dinner party, let alone a massive music festival. For one, the acts overall were quite weak. I mean, Tapes n' Tapes? But the biggest failing was having absolutely no understanding of creating a list of bands that would reach the greatest number of people, and keep a steady flow going throughout the day. The aforementioned basura, Brand New, had a pretty vocal crowd, but once they departed, so did the 1,500 or so high school chaps in Ray Bans. Did the promoters really think that they'd stick around for Gang of Four? These kids didn't know the difference between Gang of Four and the Four Tops.

The Shoreline Amphitheatre maxes out at approximately 22,000. I can't imagine that this festival sold more than 3,000 tickets. It was an absolute embarrassment and I can only imagine that the music industry will, once again, be a few men short. Unlike similar downsizing throughout the industry, this time the cuts are justified.

Album of Week 28


Tim Easton : Special 20
Heater, 1998

The Greatest Home Run

Well, the greatest home run that I ever witnessed first-hand. Not only that, but this was most likely the greatest adrenaline rush that I've ever felt, and I can't imagine anything ever topping it. I was in the right field bleachers, and after the mayhem subsided, I was nine rows down from my actual seat.

America Today

Generally speaking, present-day Americans are lazy. And I don't just mean physically (which we clearly are), but more importantly, we are mentally idle when it comes to the tantamount issues that face this country and world. Oh, we can get nearly 100,000 people out in Portland to see Obama speak, but when it comes to truly stepping up to the plate, we're more comfortable adding applications to our iPhone or buying advance tickets to the new Batman movie.

What did it take for Americans to ease up on the SUV purchases? $4.00+ gas prices. We barely blinked when there was a near unanimous call from the science community to immediately curb our unnecessary addiction to oil. But boy, once it hit our pockets, well then we understood. Iraq War? Eh, those with the most powerful voices in this country (ie, those with $$), well, their kids aren't serving so we'll just let that one happen. Torture? Well, no one's putting me on the brink of drowning, so no big deal. Katrina? I don't know anyone in New Orleans.

This is the general mindset of the majority of Americans. If it doesn't impact their lives directly, then they'll gobble up their time at the mall or firing up wifi at the local Starbucks. And no one is more responsible for this utter disregard for the common good than George W. Bush. With our country mired in two wars, the economy slipping by the day, the environment creeping towards disaster and our reputation worldwide in the absolute tank, President Bush has asked virtually nothing of Americans at home. Not a thing. And this is absolutely despicable. Given his repeated massive blunders and his pathetic "leadership", there's little doubt that he will go down as one of the worst world leaders this planet has ever been forced to endure.

The New York Times' Bob Herbert's editorial Yes We Can should remind us all of what we can accomplish together. As Herbert reflects on some our greatest accomplishments, all Americans should realize that, once again, it's time that we all look to greater causes beyond our Sunday trip to the car wash.

Nettwerk's Terry McBride

Nettwerk Music/Management CEO Terry McBride has long been one of the more forward-thinking executives in music. As noted in this interview, McBride has financially and legally assisted a number fans caught in legal battles against the RIAA. In addition, he stripped his artists' digital content of protective locks long before others even considered doing so.

I saw him speak in Nashville about a year ago and was quite impressed. Just a few hours after McBride spoke, the RIAA's Mitch Bainwol took the stage. It was like seeing Jason Varitek follow Alex Rodriguez on Letterman.

Awful analogies aside, here's McBride:

Download Festival

Did I really agree to go to this? My girlfriend started pushing the idea simply because she wants to see The Jesus & Mary Chain. She mentioned Gang of Four and I agreed. She then read off the remaining lineup and I did everything possible to rescind. It'll be nice to sit on the lawn and relax, but boy are there some seriously crap bands playing.

MUTEMATH (saw them at sxsw, just god awful)
TAPES 'N TAPES (the worst show i've seen since moving to SF)

Wow, this is going to be terrible.

Watching Car Crash Shows with a Pipe In

Ignore the laughable intro. and all the ad crap. Just watch Easton.

Sunday on Meet The Press


Nonesuch Records Launches New Site

Now this was worth the wait. Nonesuch is home to Wilco, Emmylou Harris, Sam Phillips, T-Bone Burnett and countless other outstanding acts. They were in desperate need of a site overhaul, and boy have they come through. You can now peruse a boatload of videos, listen to Nonesuch radio, purchase merch., read interviews and so on. Nonesuch has always gotten it right on the music front, and now they've gotten it right on the web. Beautiful work.

2,205 Plays


And Wilco has unseated Josh Ritter as the most played artist on my This might not be big news to you, but sadly, it is to me. Given my 5-6 month long obsession with Ritter's The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter, I wasn't sure that anyone would ever make the leap above him. But while listening to A Ghost Is Born today, Wilco finally moved ahead. I am a music nerd and this is big news. Again, sadly.

More eMusic Changes

via Digital Music News:

eMusic Goes Under the Knife; Makeover Unwrapping Soon

eMusic is now planning a serious overhaul, one that includes the introduction of several 2.0-style components. In discussions this week, the independent retailer revealed a number of upcoming enhancements, including more interactive reviews, informational widgets, and smarter navigation. "We asked what a retailer online would look like in 2010 or 2011," company chief executive David Pakman told Digital Music News. "The answer is a lot different than today."

But eMusic is not restructuring its core business model - instead, it is revamping the way that existing information flows in and out of the site. For example, artist profiles will soon include outside components like YouTube videos and Wikipedia bios, in addition to homegrown, eMusic editorial content. And bits of the profile can be exported as content widgets into other sites, including Facebook and Digg. "We're out to be out-innovating other retailers in the space," Pakman said.

Other changes, which start rolling next week, are less 2.0. That includes the availability of higher-resolution album artwork, and more intuitive, descriptive navigation. According to Pakman, subscribers are often getting lost in the destination, thanks to considerable editorial depth. Among the modifications, eMusic will also be implementing visual breadcrumbs, another attempt to better diagram the experience for users.

Other elements will simply stay the same. That includes an MP3-based catalog, subscription-based download access, 30-second song samples, and an independent focus. The site has always attracted a niche music audience, and the company offered no indication that it would be broadening into more mainstream material.

On the numbers front, eMusic currently attracts a subscriber level of 400,000, and download totals of more than 200 million over the past four years. The company has been aggressively adding subscribers and delivering downloads, and Pakman has continuously pointed to a number two ranking behind the iTunes Store.

But eMusic's download tally is mere rounding error in the broader, five-billion download total amassed by iTunes over the past five years, and Amazon is wrangling for number two.

After the initial overhaul next week, eMusic is planning a series of changes over an extended period of time. Pakman pointed to a "complete redo of the site," the result of "9-10 months of planning" and a commitment to continuously innovate.

Slobberbone @ Dan's Silverleaf Last Night

The best full-on rock band of the past decade gets together for one night, and I'm at home watching the tedious All-Star game.

Slobberbone, Dan's Silverleaf, Denton, TX, 7/15/08
barrel chested
that is all
front porch
find the out (scott danbon on piano)
lazy guy
pinball song
billy prichard
engine joe
gimme back my dog
lumberlung (scott danbon on piano)
sober song
placemat blues
i'll be damned
springfield, il
MELDTOWN (scott danbon on fiddle)
can't hardly wait (replacements cover)
get gone again
haze of drink
whiskey glass eye
big time (neil young cover)

where is it hanging tonight?

Yankee Stadium

Outside of places of residence, I can't think of a place I've visited more often than Yankee Stadium. My father claims that my first Yankee game was October 18, 1977 - the night Reggie hit three home runs against the Dodgers in the World Series. I'm not sure I believe that, and I've never claimed to have been at this game, but I am certain that my first steps into Yankee Stadium happened at some point in the late 1970s.

I went to at least 75 games during the dreaded 80s. This is when I started to understand, appreciate and grow to love not just the game, but the Yankees. In the early-to-mid 80s my love for this team knew no bounds. I had thousands of baseball cards and kept statistics on every piece of paper within reach. My early favorites were journeymen such as Toby Harrah, Mike Pagliarulo, Roy Smalley, Shane Rawley and Butch Wynegar. And then came Don Mattingly. Despite this being an absolutely horrific decade for the greatest team in sports history, winning and losing didn't particularly matter to me. I was learning the game and I found its complexities, intelligence and pace to be my addiction.

In the 90s everything changed. I recall the strike season of 1994 and the Yankees' unreal season being erased. In 1995, the Yankees finally made the playoffs again, but my hopes were dashed in the form of Ken Griffey Jr. rounding those bases. In 1996, I sat beside the left field foul pole the night the Yankees won the World Series. Almost everyone around me was in tears. I never wanted to leave the stadium, and it wasn't until close to two hours after the game that we actually did.

My greatest moment at Yankee Stadium was Tino Martinez's ninth-inning home run against the Diamondbacks in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series. With two outs, the Yanks down by two and facing a 3-1 series deficit, Martinez hit a shot and I have never, and will never, see a Stadium react the way those 55,000-plus did that night.

There have been so many other memories: Tom Seaver's 300th, David Wells' perfect game and many Old-Timers Games. I often feel as if I grew up in Yankee Stadium. I saw the good and bad of my father inside those walls. I saw a lot of bad on the drives home. But despite that all, every single time I shuttle through those turnstiles, my stomach seizes up a bit. Maybe it's the mixed emotions of my love for the game and the family ups-and-downs that are somehow tied to that park. But just like a tumultuous relationship, in the end, I love the place. And with only half a season remaining, I'm just not ready to let go.

Lot #99-0038

In 2000 Brooklyn's Robert Becker self-released Lot #99-0038. Despite being one of the best folk/rock records released in decades, I can't imagine that the record sold more than 1,000 copies.

I may have an extra copy or two lying around the house. If you like what you hear below, and would like a copy, toss me an e-mail ( and if I can find a copy or two, I'll ship 'em out.

Robert Becker

she comes and goes most afternoons

First Purchase of "Original" Art


Tim Easton has been one of my favorite musicians for the past decade. From the absolutely fantastic Special 20 to the politically charged Ammunition, I wouldn't hesitate to call Easton one of the best songwriters going right now. I'm not sure if I can name an artist whose words I find more inspirational. "J.P.M.F.y.F." eloquently covers the religious right and faith in a way that no artist has done. The farewell to substances-themed "Dear Old Song & Dance" may have played the largest part in my decision to quit drinking for eight months.

And in addition to his music, Easton lives a life that I dream of. He evidently owns homes in Joshua Tree, CA and somewhere in Alaska. He makes music, paints and lives a modest life surrounded by musicians, friends and art. It's honestly everything I dream of. And a small part of that life will now adorn the wall of my living room.

More Neutral / Mangum


Beyond and Before Digital

I haven't bought an album (or track) from the iTunes Music Store in just shy of a year. I still maintain my eMusic account, but I'm having more and more difficulty finding anything interesting there. But over the past four months, I've bought more new music than I probably have in five years. My appetite for music has never been as strong. Despite owning about 2,000 cds, 400 records and thousands of digital tracks, I still feel like a complete novice.

At a BBQ this weekend, I had a fairly long discussion with a stranger about jazz music in the 50s. We talked about Coltrane, Miles and an assortment of jazz icons, almost all of whom I know virtually nothing about. This is one genre, among many, that I still want to explore. I've always enjoyed classical music, yet I've never taken the plunge. I need a deeper understanding of early folk music and Stax/Volt soul. It's endless.

This morning I arrived at work to find a package containing Blue Mountain's two new CDs sitting on my desk. I pulled out the CDs, noticed the beautiful album covers and reached inside for the liner notes. I read every word. And then I put on the first CD. And I read the notes again while listening. Right then I realized how much I've missed this experience. Right then I realized why, of late, I've found myself back in the aisles of record stores seeking out music in physical format. It's such a part of the experience, and I can only imagine that many others will soon realize this.

Digital music, both for purchase and for streaming, is absolutely great for music. Listeners can immediately absord the music they crave. It's right there. But the problem is: It's not all right there. The sounds are accessible, but the people, photos, and printed words behind it all are nowhere to be found. This morning's mail reminded me of that.

eMusic Answers the Call

As I mentioned a few months ago, eMusic would easily be the best site for purchasing digital music around, save for their search engine. Given their subscription model, eMusic's business has a greater chance of thriving if its users do not exhaust their available downloads each month. It's actually possible that this is the only way that eMusic stays above water. As a result, eMusic's search functionality has always been (intentionally) awful. Despite claiming to have about four million tracks, they do their darndest to keep you from finding the nuggets.

Over the past week or so, eMusic has finally turned a corner on this front. As voted on by subscribers, eMusic has released its Top 100 Albums. And the list is actually visible on eMusic's main page! My 90 downloads/month refreshes tomorrow, and after perusing the list, I already see numerous albums that'll drop into my iTunes by tomorrow evening.

Album of Week 27


Rachel's : Music For Egon Schiele
Touch & Go, 1996

Monday Morning Mail


Weekend Charms

-N in her light-blue Scritti Politti t-shirt. I can't recall seeing anyone look cuter.
-Spending four hours at a BBQ playing with a dog.
-Discovering a fantastic, and obscure, new song and later finding that N had already put that song in my iTunes.
-N teaching me to make tuna casserole. I have enough leftover to feed myself through the rest of the baseball season.
-Catch-up call with Scott. I treasure these once-every-month-or-two calls. I feel like I'm right back in NY.
-The farmer's market. Best blackberries I've ever had.
-The look on the guy's face at the car wash when I handed him a blackberry (fruit, not phone).
-The sound of the Rachel's record playing right now.
-Mom checking in.
-Discovering the Neutral Milk Hotel videos that I've posted below.
-Time with N. That's correct N, no yawns.

VP Predictions

(D) Evan Bayh, Senator from Indiana

(R) Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota

More Neutral Milk Hotel


Neutral Milk Hotel, Bottom of the Hill, 1998


For Jack Tymon


carelessness is what i miss

Your Words Hung High In the Rafters

I'm not sure I'd be sitting here writing on this blog if not for The Jayhawks. Right around the time that I discovered Uncle Tupelo (1994), I recall returning home for college break and finding a copy of The Jayhawks' Hollywood Town Hall sitting on my bed. It was basically a thank you present from my brother. A few months prior I'd introduced him to Uncle Tupelo and we were both riding a musical high. I immediately tossed the cd into my piece-of-crap Fisher stereo and I was transformed. First Uncle Tupelo and now this. Where was this music coming from? Why wasn't it being covered in every music magazine worldwide?

The Jayhawks went through many changes in years to follow, but their records still stand the test of time. Gary Louris and Mark Olson are the David Crosby and Graham Nash of our time, yet better.

The Essential Jayhawks
Martin's Song
Settled Down Like Rain
Stumbling Through the Dark
Two Angels
Bottomless Cup
Sound of Lies
Ain't No End
Two Hearts
Sister Cry
It's Up To You

Obama's Lead Narrows To Three Points

I mean, seriously? I fully understand that polls ebb and flow, but I just can not imagine that this country will elect John McCain. Ok, that's not entirely true; one only need to point to 2004 to see the impossible become reality, but seriously? Again?

Has America been paying attention to John McCain's campaign? Or better yet: Has America reflected for a moment on the past seven-plus years? I mean, how on Earth could this election not be an absolute landslide for Obama. Do I agree with every position he's taken (especially over the past ten days)? Nope. But he is leaps ahead of McCain. For one, he's coherent.

Democrats are terrified that it's all going to happen again. I've assured my brethren that, in my humble opinion, it's just not going to happen. Obama's too strong and McCain's the weakest candidate since Bob Dole, and Dole is Abe Lincoln next to Johnny Boy.

The Dems will likely expand their leads in both the House and the Senate, but everyone knows that we thirst for the big prize. And I simply can not imagine that prize not landing in our laps the night of November 4. I mean.....

A Sleepy Little Dreamer With Still Miles To Go

From 1994-2000 Richard Buckner appeared to be destined to be one of the greatest songwriters in American history. Oh, that may sound hyperbolic, but the trifecta of Bloomed, Devotion & Doubt and Since is arguably the best initial three-record output of the past 20 years. In 2000, he followed this breathtaking trio with The Hill, inspired by the 1915 Edgar Lee Masters collection Spoon River Anthology. From there, Buckner's songwriting and inspiration seemed to plunge. Having poured out such intense and precise emotions as he did for seven years, it's no surprise that the tank was running on low. After a few lackluster collections, Buckner once again revealed his prowess with 2006's Meadow; however, according to the rumor mill and a few quotes from Buckner himself, it appears as if he's decided to put music to rest. Now living in Upstate New York, we can only hope that Buckner finds his inspiration and once again delivers some of the most beautiful music ever recorded.

The Essential Richard Buckner
Surprise, AZ
Goner w/Souvenir
Gauzy Dress In the Sun
Song of 27
Count Me In On This One!
Lucky Buzz
A Goodbye Rye
Elizabeth Childers

Richard Buckner


Let's Stick Together


Scarlett Johannson Has Nothing On Solomon Burke

She may have a full album of Waits covers, but none can touch Burke's rendering of "Diamond In Your Mind".

Diamond In Your Mind - Solomon Burke

as if all news will be good news from now on

Before Kayne, Diddy and 50

Hip hop was actually good.

The Faces To Reunite?

The BBC is reporting that a Faces reunion could be in the works. If ever there's a 60s-70s outfit that I would absolutely drool at seeing onstage together, it's The Faces. Five Guys Walk Into a Bar remains my favorite box set ever releeased, and it would be an absolute thrill to see these guys perform. Granted, 33 years following their break-up will likely leave a lot to be desired, most notably the absense of Ronnie Lane who died in 1997, but also, that drunken and carefree abandon that was a staple of this band. Years of feathered hair and pink suits has proven that Rod Stewart is a completely different human being than he was circa 1969, and Ron Wood's years on the road with the Rolling Stones has, over time, become somewhat of a joke.

Nevertheless, it's The Faces; one of rock n' roll's greatest treasures. And if this happens, I will forget "Broken Arrow" and the Stones parading through New York City, and pick up a ticket on day of sale.

Tim Easton's Art


Playing Coffee & Guitars

The Essential Gourds
County Orange
Boil My Strings
All the Labor
Best of Me
Plaid Coat
Web Before You Walk Into It
My Name Is Jorge
Raining In Port Arthur
El Paso
Cold Bed
Hallelujah Shine

The Gourds Cover Springsteen


Blue Mountain Returns

After a seven-year hiatus, Oxford, Mississippi's Blue Mountain return with the fantastic Midnight in Mississippi. If you're not familiar with Blue Mountain, they were quite possibly the best live act during the short-lived mid-to-late 90s "era". They spent many-a-night opening for Son Volt, Wilco and countless others. After bandmates Cary Hudson and Laurie Stirratt (sister of Wilco's John Stirratt) divorced, Blue Mountain was no more. Until now. And they have returned in fine form.

In addition to the new record, they've also released a collection of b-sides and alternate versions of previously-released material. Both can be purchased for a mere $18.

By Your Side - Blue Mountain

Josh Rouse Best of the Rykodisc Years Due in September / Tour


Disc 1
1. "Late Night Conversation"
2. "Dressed Up Like Nebraska"
3. "Invisible"
4. "Laughter"
5. "Directions"
6. "100m Backstroke"
7. "65" (Josh Rouse + Kurt Wagner)
8. "Under Cold Blue Stars"
9. "Nothing Gives Me Pleasure"
10. "Feeling No Pain"
11. "Ugly Stories"
12. "1972"
13. "Love Vibration"
14. "Comeback (Light Therapy)"
15. "Rise"
16. "Winter In The Hamptons"
17. "It's The Nighttime"
18. "My Love Is Gone"
19. "Streetlights"

Disc 2
1. "Miserable South"
2. "A Night In"
3. "A Song To Help You Sleep"
4. "Sad Eyes"
5. "Sunshine"
6. "Michigan"
7. "Suburban Sweetheart" (Demo)*
8. "Flair" (Demo)*
9. "Be On The Lookout" (Demo for "Little Know It All")*
10. "Cannot Talk" (Dressed Up Like Nebraska Outtake)*
11. "Christmas With Jesus" (Demo)*
12. "Camping In Copenhagen" (Demo for "Summer Kitchen Ballad")*
13. "Princess On The Porch" (1972 Outtake)*

September 17 Joe's Pub New York, NY
September 18 Joe's Pub New York, NY
September 23 Largo Los Angeles, CA
September 24 Largo Los Angeles, CA
September 26 Swedish American Hall San Francisco, CA
October 10 Old Town School Of Folk Music Chicago, IL
October 11 Turner Hall Ballroom Milwaukee, WI
October 12 Cedar Cultural Center Minneapolis, MN
November 11 Gleis 22 D-Münster, Germany
November 12 Gebäude 9 D-Köln, Germany
November 13 Centre Culturel Opderschmelz L-Dudelange, Luxenbourg
November 14 El Lokal CH-Zürich, Switzerland
November 18 E-Werk D-Erlangen, Germany
November 19 Beatpol D-Dresden, Germany
November 20 Moritzbastei D-Leipzig, Germany
November 21 Lagerhaus D-Bremen, Germany
November 22 Knust D-Hamburg, Germany
November 23 Maschinenhaus D-Berlin, Germany
November 24 Objekt 5 D-Halle, Germany
November 28 The Black Note Valencia, Spain
November 29 The Black Note Valencia, Spain
December 3 Union Chapel London, England

Youth Will Not Be Wasted On You


Essential Tim Easton
Just Like Home
All the Pretty Girls Leave Town
Happy Now
Not Today (Amsterdam Session)
Poor, Poor LA
Troublesome Kind
Dear Old Song & Dance
Hey Rosine
Next To You

September 26 @ Swedish American Music Hall

Josh Rouse

In Pictures : Chicago



As I sit here downing a massive coffee on Wabash and 8th in Chicago, I'm almost baffled by how nice folks are in this town. Cat Power's playing in the room and everyone in here seems happy, talkative and inquisitive. The folks behind the counter are an absolute pleasure to be around and the place is clean, organized and has some character. No one appears to be in a rush to get somewhere instantly; no one's on their cell phone and there's neither a hipster nor a frat boy to be found.

This is very refreshing. As much as I like San Francisco, what I've seen over the past thirty minutes represents everything that I miss: just normal folks, enjoying the day and being kind to one another. There's no rat race here. There are no bafoons in Kayne shades, hoodies and tight Wrangler's. These are just folks making it through the day and seemingly enjoying the simple events.

I miss places like this. I wish San Francisco had more of this. It would be a better city for it.

September 3 @ Rickshaw Stop

Centro-matic & South San Gabriel. In other words, the show of the year.

$11.25 (including fees)

Worthwhile Reads & Listens

The Baseball Project on imeem

Pitchfork has an extensive interview with Sub Pop's co-founders

ESPN looks back on the life and death of Len Bias

Wired Magazine lists their ten hottest music sites

Album of Week 26


Josh Rouse : Nashville
Rykodisc, 2005

Plans For Tomorrow


Newspapers and Good Fortune

This morning I stepped outside my front door at about 645am, picked up the newspaper and found myself drawn back to my childhood house in Northern New Jersey. As I waited for the shuttle to pick me up, that $1.25 newspaper in my hand struck me. See, I’ve always loved newspapers, even dating back to my early teens in New Jersey. I loved reading the New York Post’s endless baseball statistics once a week. I always absorbed the local section of the Bergen Record. However, in my childhood home, a newspaper subscription didn’t make the cut when my mother and stepfather considered their budget. I asked and asked but we could never afford a daily subscription. As a result, I would often walk to the local library and plow through The Record, New York Post and The Daily News (the NY Times seemed too mature).

A few months would pass, and once again I’d beg for a subscription to a newspaper, any newspaper. But we just couldn’t afford it. Oftentimes, my stepfather would return from the graveyard shift as a police officer, and before turning in to sleep, he’d drop the Sunday Record on the kitchen table. This was a treat beyond words. I’d see this massive stack of papers resting on our ancient kitchen table and my day would be set. I was able to see the world while flipping through the pages.

About six months ago, at the age of 34, I ordered my first subscription to a newspaper, the New York Times. Every morning as I open the front gate, the world awaits in a small blue bag on my front stoop. It wasn’t until this morning that I realized that, in addition to all that I explore and learn through its pages each day, the fact that I’m able to do so, means that much more.

Springsteen Live EP Due July 15 (Digital Only)


* "Always a Friend" with Alejandro Escovedo (April 14, Houston)
* "The Ghost of Tom Joad" with Tom Morello (April 7, Anaheim)
* "Turn! Turn! Turn!" with Roger McGuinn (April 23, Orlando)
* "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" with Danny Federici (March 20, Indianapolis)

Damien Jurado's "Caught in the Trees"


Jurado's new one will arrive on September 9. If the track "Gillian Was a Horse" is any indication, this is going to be a gem.

Tour Dates:

Crickhowell, South Wales
Green Man Festival

Manchester, UK
Trinity Chapel

London, UK
Bush Hall
w/ Bowerbirds

09/07 /08
Sacramento, CA

Los Angeles, CA

San Francisco, CA
The Independent

Portland, OR
Doug Fir Lounge

Seattle, WA
Triple Door

Chicago, IL

Cambridge, MA
TT the Bear’s Place

New York, NY
Mercury Lounge

Brooklyn, NY
Union Hall

Washington, DC
Rock and Roll Hotel

Philadelphia, PA
First Unitarian Chapel

Columbus, OH
Milo Arts

Kenny Roby

Bar None Records

This man gave me my first job in music. It would be impossible to convey the feeling I had when I first walked into the Bar None office and was met with Wilco's "A.M." blasting through the speakers.

In addition to a fantastic gig, Bar None introduced me to such outstanding records as Yo La Tengo's "Fakebook", Kathy McCarty's "Dead Dog's Eyeball" and all the great Esquivel records.

It's now 13 years later and I'm still fortunate to work in the industry that I love. And in many ways, it's all thanks to Glenn Morrow.

Some Stories....

I remember reading this article/obituary while sitting in my cubicle at MTV Networks in 1999. Similar to some of Grant Alden's writings in No Depression Magazine, it's one of those stores that I've never forgotten. I've shared/embellished the Luna/Pavement part with probably 25+ people since this story was published. It's a bit heartbreaking, but it's worth a read.

when i'm gone, i'm still at home

Josh Ritter with the Boston Pops


The Bostonist reviews the show

Brent Best

If we lived in a world where writers like Larry Brown were read by the masses and the films of Atom Egoyan graced theatres everywhere, then musically, Brent Best would be streaming through ipods the country over. In all likelihood, unless you're someone I likely know by name or face, you probably don't know Brent Best. Well, at a late-night party at South By Southwest in March, I declared to an entire room that, "Brent Best is a better songwriter than Paul Westerberg." Despite having 15+ beers in me at the time, I'd still stand by that statement.

In addition to his songwriting, Best is equipped with a spirit and passion that is absolutely absent in so many artists today. Almost every day there's a new Fleet Foxes or a new Burial, but the majority of these acts are flashes in the pan. Brent Best is not, and nor will he ever be. Whether it be records such as Slobberbone's Barrel Chested and Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today or The Drams' Jubilee Dive, Brent Best is slowly entering Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen territory. Just like Neil and Bruce, Brent was born with rock n' roll inside. He didn't take this route for ego and fame, and he certainly didn't do it for the money; he's done it because it's what's inside. And this spirit is something you see every single time he performs.

The Drams

Brent Best has stood front-and-center for some of the greatest shows I've ever seen. And hopefully he'll be doing so for many years to come.

Must See: HBO's Hard Times at Douglass High


Alan and Susan Raymond spent one year filming in Frederick Douglass High School, which has a rich history of successful alumni, including Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall. Shot in classic cinema verité style, the film captures the complex realities of life at Douglass, and provides a context for the national debate over the controversial No Child Left Behind Act, focusing on the brutal inequalities of American minority education, considered an American tragedy by many.

Douglass principal Isabelle Grant oversees a staff of teachers that is two-thirds non-certified, while many are substitutes unqualified to teach their subject areas. Threatened with sanctions, or even closing, unless student scores improve in annual standardized tests, the faculty tries to find workable solutions to chronic problems of attendance, lateness and apathy among students, many of whom come from poor backgrounds and broken homes, and lack the most basic reading and math skills.

Due to an achievement gap of four to five years below grade level, ninth grade students present the greatest challenge, requiring intensive intervention by the already overwhelmed teaching staff. By the end of the school year, 50% will drop out. Grant and her staff struggle to raise state assessment scores as a Maryland State monitor continually watches over Douglass with the threat of a state takeover.

At the same time, there are reasons for hope. The high school boasts an award-winning music program, named after Douglass graduate and jazz great Cab Calloway, that includes a choir, a drumline marching band, a jazz combo and an orchestra. The basketball team was Maryland State champion two of the last three years. And the outstanding debate team consistently wins trophies at the Baltimore Urban Debate League. Students Sharnae, Jordan and Matt tell stories of struggling to overcome the enormous challenges of splintered families and peer pressure as they navigate their high school days, offering a reminder that education is inevitably an achievement of people, not policy. With the support of Douglass, these students have demonstrated resilience in the face of formidable odds.

Eventually, Douglass fails to make the adequate yearly progress required by the No Child Left Behind Act and the city and state wrestle for control of the school. This is typical of inner-city schools that cannot meet the demands of the federal law. By 2007 one in four of the nation's public schools failed to show improvement under the No Child Left Behind Act and was threatened with sanctions.

Alan and Susan Raymond's other HBO and CINEMAX credits include "How Do You Spell Murder?," "Children in War" (Emmy® for Non-Fiction Prime-Time Programming), "I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School" (Best Documentary Feature Oscar® as well as Emmy®, DuPont and Peabody Awards), the Oscar®-nominated "Doing Time: Life Inside the Big House," "Into Madness" and "Elvis '56." The Raymonds are also the filmmakers of the 1973 PBS documentary "An American Family" and its follow-ups: 1983's "An American Family Revisited" and 2003's "Lance Loud! A Death in An American Family."

HARD TIMES AT DOUGLASS HIGH: A NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND REPORT CARD is a Video Vérité production; produced and directed by Alan Raymond and Susan Raymond; written and narrated by Susan Raymond; cinematographer and editor, Alan Raymond. For HBO: senior producer, John Hoffman; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.

Wilco Timeline







New York Times Reader


I have received home delivery of the New York Times for about six months now, and had no idea about the Times Reader. Alright, that's not entirely true; a friend briefly mentioned it but I blew it off.

This morning I received a notification that my subscription cost would be going up $.60 per week. Instead of just chucking the notice, I read the entire letter and realized that I had access to Times Reader and almost 70 years of back issues (not sure why it runs to 1922 and then stops? I wanna read about the '27 Yanks.)

I downloaded the Times Reader a few minutes ago and my oh my. This is fantastic. It's literally like having the entire newspaper, full-size, on your monitor. I realize that that may sound like any other news site, but trust me, if you're a subscriber to the NYT, download this application. It's the best online news experience I've seen yet.