Unf'n believable - More Springsteen in '78

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The Greatest Rock n' Roll Show Ever

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Bruce Springsteen
Capitol Theatre, Passaic, New Jersey
September 19, 1978


Woke Up In Another Test Market: The Kite Runner, Juno, and The iPhone

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This is something I've needed to get out for some time, but I find it nearly impossible to find a hint of eloquence in my attempt to do so. You'll just have to accept a little stream of consciousness.

A few times a year us cultural fiends are hit with a new film, band or book that is touted as the greatest thing since The Godfather, Nirvana or On the Road. When it's a book, you notice that half the readers on your bus have this book in hand. When it's a film, every ass in your office "saw it over the weekend and was floored". And when it's band, well, they'll be coming to the Fillmore soon! And when it's a technological advance like the universally-adored iPhone, they're visible on every Starbucks coffee table from coast-to-coast.

I almost never buy into the hype of these things. And it's not because I'm a hipster or a snob (ok, I'm sort of both). When such a massive collection of people are swept up by something, I automatically question its worth. Yes, there have been exceptions. I ignored the raves about The Arcade Fire's "Funeral" until I just couldn't handle it anymore. I listened. And I liked it. A lot. However, this is very rare.

Let me see if I can get to the point. When so many people adore something in pop culture, doesn't that naturally mean that that work is somewhat watered down, in order to appeal to a large cross-section of folks? A perfect example would be "the indie film that could" (the phrase alone makes me want to cannonball off the Bay Bridge), otherwise known as Juno. I heard the raves from countless people, but remained very skeptical. A few weeks went by. More raves. There was talk of a Best Picture nomination. Sick of hearing from people about this movie, I finally gave in. About 20 minutes into the movie, my instincts were proven right. This is a terrible film, one of the most vapid and half-assed films I've seen in years.

I really don't know the point of this post, other than to somehow defend my cautiousness with respect to the latest hypes. People often seem a bit put-off by my refusal to just jump on the bandwagon.

Whether it's our government or the latest pieces of literature, we should always be cautious about things that are accepted and/or adored by huge numbers of people. Remember, fifty million people voted for George W. Bush, not once, but twice!

Oh, and stop bugging me about Vampire Weekend. I finally gave a listen. They're terrible.

53 Minutes Inside North Korea

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This is one of the most heartbreaking short documentaries I've ever seen. The desolation and isolation made me nauseous.

Ohio Debate Coverage - Final

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The second half lacked much drama. Hillary mellowed out a bit and we heard the same discussions that we've heard in the previous 19 debates.

I honestly think that Hillary has a wider and deeper knowledge of the issues. That said, I do buy into the argument that she's too much of a Washington insider. She diverts anything that could potentially hurt her, while Obama seems much more candid and up front. I think Hillary Clinton is extremely qualified to be our next president, even moreso than Barack Obama. However, Obama nails the intangibles, and I can't remember a time in my life when those intangibles have mattered more. This country, and the world, desperately need a US leader who restores our hope and faith in the future of our country and the future of the world. And that is why I'm supporting the Senator from Illinois.

Ohio Debate Coverage - Part 1

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Health Insurance
-Clinton's coming out swinging on this one, however, her punches seems to be missing. Obama's had solid responses, some nuanced enough to probably cause confusion amongst viewers. This is probably a good thing for him
-Clinton will not let this issue go. She clearly thinks that it's her bread and butter. This is starting to get heated.

NAFTA
-Wow, Hillary's really looking erratic. She finds it suspicious that she's always asked the first question? Isn't this something that can be discussed with the moderators beforehand? She looks desperate and anxious. And she's talking forever.
-Obama is much more calm and collected. He takes minor swipes at Clinton, but it doesn't come off as vicious.
-Tim Russert points out that Clinton has indeed contradicted herself.
-Clinton says that she'll "renegotiate" NAFTA, not pull out. And she turns to attack Obama. This is the nastiest I've ever seen her. She's firm but shaky.
-Obama agrees with Clinton and says that we'll renegotiate.
-Obama is clearly looking to outline policy issues, as opposed to battling Hillary.

Jobs
-Clinton says that she'll create 5M new jobs, yet she's lost jobs as Senator of NY. She attributes this to Bush's presidency, which looks like a cop out. Her take on jobs does reveal her encyclopedic factual knowledge.
-Obama doesn't get a question. It seems that he's only asked to speak when he needs to defend himself.

Foreign Policy
-I always get a kick out of Obama's pronunciation of Pakistan.
-Clinton on the attack again. She minimizes Obama's speech against the war in 2002 saying that, "he didn't have to vote." In other words, she's admitting that politics play into her votes. Not good.
-Clinton claims that Obama threatened to bomb Pakistan. Nice, he'll get to say it again. She is dominating the conversation.
-Once again, Obama has to defend himself. Obama comes back strong on Iraq. Obama's now striking hard on her vote on Iraq. Obama defends Pakistan issue by saying that he'd go after Al Qaeda in Pakistan, not bomb the country. Very solid few minutes for Obama.

Iraq
-They agree on pulling out of Iraq. It's increasingly clear that they agree on 99/100 issues. Almost all arguments are over semantics. And here goes Hillary on the attack again regarding Obama's foreign policy experience. Hillary looks to rumble again but she's cut off.

...Commercial...

I'm now going to watch all of Part 2 without simultaneous coverage. I'll post in a bit.

New York Knicks 1946-1998

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Although they made the Finals in 1999, the New York Knicks franchise died the day that James L. Dolan became CEO of CSC Holdings. Since his arrival, the Knicks have gone from one of the most revered organizations in all of sports to the laughing stock of all of professional sports.

In order to remind me of the glory days, I just received this 5 DVD Set chronicling the history of the Knicks.

They were a great organization. Too bad Mr. Megalomaniac stole that away from the fans.

Album of Week 8

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Freedy Johnston : Can You Fly
Bar None, 1992

These Bands Could Save Your Life

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I just completed 12 song mixes for two of my favorite bands of all-time. Both of these bands played a large part in shaping my love for music. If you'd like a copy, send me a note or something.


The Essential Uncle Tupelo
Gun
Steal the Crumbs
Flatness
Looking For a Way Out
Black Eye
Chickamauga
Cold Shoulder
We've Been Had
Life Worth Livin'
The Long Cut
Atomic Power
New Madrid



The Essential Old 97s
Timebomb
Big Brown Eyes
Jagged
Mama Tried
Streets of Where I'm From
Designs on You
Niteclub
Oppenheimer
Broadway
Rollerskate Skinny
Lonely Holiday
Barrief Reef

Stuff

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Turn off your ipod, press the off button on your flat-screen TV, hit sleep on your computer and watch this: We Love Stuff

Oscar Predictions

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Best Picture: No Country For Old Men
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood
Best Actress: Julie Christie, Away From Her
Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem, No Country For Old Men
Best Supporting Actress: Ruby Dee, American Gangster
Best Director: Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men
Best Documentary: No End In Sight
Best Original Screenplay: Tony Gilroy, Michael Clayton
Best Adapted Screenplay: Joel & Ethan Coen, No Country For Old Men

Music Is My Savior.....14 Years w/Wilco

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It all started back in December of 1994. I'd recently discovered the band Uncle Tupelo and my love for music inflated ten-fold. I'd heard that after the split, UT co-founder Jeff Tweedy had quickly gathered up most of Tupelo and formed the band Wilco. I was a junior in college at the time and the Boston Phoenix reveled that Wilco were playing at Johnny D's in Somerville, MA. Although it was during finals, I had to go. I hopped into the Mazda on a freezing-cold Boston night and drove about 40 minutes to Somerville.

This is where it really all began. Music became my life. When Jeff Tweedy walked onstage for the encore and slowly strummed into "Gun", I literally felt like my life was changing before my eyes. Forget changing, it felt as if my life was *starting*. There was something about this music that hit me right at the core. It felt like home. It felt like life. It felt like poetry. It felt like everything I'd ever wanted out of life.

It's now almost 14 years later and Wilco remains my favorite band. I buy about 50-75 new records each year, yet Wilco still remains atop the fold. I've been somewhat disappointed in their last few records, yet, as a whole, no band compares. There's been a number of bands/acts to really hit home, namely Centro-matic, Josh Ritter, Josh Rouse and Slobberbone, yet none has dug as deep as Wilco.

Tonight I arrived home just in time to catch Wilco on Austin City Limits. After about ten minutes of watching, I became restless. I reached for the remote and then caught myself. Have I actually become bored with Wilco? Has the time finally come? I was enjoying the songs, but the passion and earnestness that's drawn me to Wilco seems to have evaporated a bit. This appeared to be a band going through the motions.

Bruce Springsteen was my true introduction to music. Then came Wilco and music became my life. I'm just not sure that they elicit that feeling anymore. And honestly, that is heartbreaking, especially since no one's taken their place. Hopefully it's just a phase. Fourteen years still seems too short.

The New Frat Boys

Hipsters!



More NBA

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The loudest I've ever screamed in my life. I was at the Allendale Bar & Grill in New Jersey and tossed my beer about 40 feet when LJ landed that bomb. Man do I miss the Knicks.

The NBA....what used to be

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$495,000,000,000

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As of today, this is how much we've spent on the Iraq War. And for what?

Just imagine what we could've done with respect to health care, education, poverty, New Orleans, HIV/AIDS and so on.

George W. Bush is a complete moron.

Ten Acts

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These are the acts that excite me the most right now (number of times seen live in paren):

Josh Ritter (1)
Wilco (38)
The Arcade Fire (1)
Josh Rouse (8)
Bonnie "Prince" Billy/Will Oldham (0)
The National (0)
Okkervil River (2)
Centro-matic (5)
Bruce Springsteen (41)
Apollo Sunshine (5)

Times seen for some acts are clearly estimates

Album of Week 7

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Richard Buckner : Bloomed
Dejadisc, 1994

Roger Clemens and the Political Life

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Does it come as any surprise that members of Congress are split across party lines on Clemens vs. McNamee.

The republicans, of course, support Clemens. He fits their mold to a tee. He's the big money guy. He's been one of the most powerful people in sports over the last two-plus decades. He uses intimidation and threats to get his way. And, well, he's just not very smart. His babbling testimony was downright sad for a man of forty-one years old.

The democrats side with the little guy in McNamee. I mean, what incentive would McNamee have to make this up? Clemens was a close friend and his main source of income for years. Add to this the fact that Andy Pettitte, Roger's closest friend, backed McNamee's claims. This is two guys against one, and neither one of the side of truth has anything to gain by making false claims about Roger's steroid use.

I find this one-day waste of taxpayers money (ummmm, why the hell did we have this hearing in the first place?) to be the embodiment of republicans vs. democrats. The former almost always side with the powerful, regardless of ethics (of course, there are exceptions) and the latter look for honesty, regardless of who's in possession of the heavier wallet.

I mean, I really see the divisions between the parties to be almost laughable. Let's look at a few.

-Global Warming is bad for mankind. Republicans fight efforts to legislate stronger emissions standards.
-War kills people. Republicans support waging war, shit, against just about anyone.
-Cutting taxes for the rich at the expense of the poor is unethical. We know where the right-wingers stand on this.
-Separation of church and state is one of the tenets of American society. Not anymore.

I could go on and on. Truth be told, aside from being greedy and/or uneducated (about 75% of the republican electorate), I honestly don't comprehend the lure to the republican party. I just don't.

"Deep Water"

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It has been years since I've seen a film this good. Best Picture nods such as "Juno" and "There Will Be Blood" do not hold a candle to this fantastic documentary from 2006.

This thrilling film about Donald Crowhurst's 1969 attempt to sail around the world and save his family by claiming a 5,000 pound prize, may be the best documentary I have ever seen. No, this isn't your story about a thrill-seeking sailor. This film is about the human condition. We see Crowhurst faced with decisions that are all or nothing in almost every respect. Whether it be the livelihood of his family or his reputation throughout society, Crowhurst is repeatedly put to the test.

With Britain and the rest of the world watching, Crowhurst has to make a final decision, one that will leave his country, family and his legacy hanging in the balance.

This movie checks in at 92 minutes and nearly every second of the film is captivating.

Scuds

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Record collector enthusiasts usually have a few records that take years to find, if they're ever found. I've had a few that have now been running on about five years. The longest search has been for The Jayhawks' "Bunkhouse". This is The Jayhawks' first record, a record that probably didn't surpass 1,000 in the number of copies pressed. In the past 15 or so years, I've heard of ONE person finding this record. I'm still searching.

The second record that I've been seeking out is the Scud Mountain Boys' "Massachusetts". There's just something about this record that has vinyl written all over it. I know *two* people who cite this as their favorite record of all-time. It's a record that needs to be played on a turntable. I've now come up empty probably about 200 times.

I recently saw the record on Ebay but couldn't allow myself to throw down $80 or so. I guess I wanted to continue on the search. I couldn't add this to my collection by outbidding someone. I needed to get it the old-fashioned way.

Well, tonight it arrived. No, I wasn't scouring the bins at Amoeba. I was simply sitting at home waiting for my girlfriend to come over and celebrate Valentine's Day. I went the traditional route and gave her flowers and candy. Given her love for flowers, it actually didn't feel like the "easy way out". Nevertheless, she went far and beyond. Yes, she found "Massachusetts", and it now sits between Scritti Politti and Sebadoh on my shelf. Pure beauty.

One down, many to go....

Barack Obama Joins Wilco

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If Only Political Ads Could Win Oscars

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Four Books

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Rock On by Dan Kennedy, 2007, Non-Fiction: 6.7



Hunger by Knut Hamsun, 1890, Fiction: 8.6

Best In Show

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Good boy.

Obama in Virginia Beach

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Richard Buckner Signs Off

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Since coming to the realization that aside from family and loved ones, music was the most important part of my life, if I think of the five artists most responsible for fueling this passion, Richard Buckner would certainly make that group. I remember hearing his first record, "Bloomed", for the first time and thinking that I'd stumbled upon one of the greatest and purest songwriters of all-time. When people drew comparisons to Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle, I'd argue that Buckner was better.

He followed up "Bloomed" by creating one of the greatest trifectas ever, with the release of "Devotion & Doubt" and "Since". If the American public was *truly* interested in good music, these three records alone would have landed Buckner in the same camp as Elliott Smith, despite having more songwriting ability.

After these three records, you could sense that Buckner was losing a little inspiration. "The Hill" was strong, but based on the Spoon River Anthology and not really Buckner's own work. His next few records made it clear that Buckner had lost the fire. That is, until his final record, "Meadow". "Meadow" was a return-to-form and once again punctured my musical soul.

Today I found out that Buckner's career in music may be over. He has relocated to upstate New York and plans on taking a different direction in life. This is the first time that one of the artists who's shaped not only my passions, but my life, may no longer be creating art. And this is heartbreaking.

When I clicked on the below link and made it through the article, my heart sank. For the first time in a few years, I felt tears on the way. You see, Richard Buckner's music has meant the world to me. Many of my closest friends also love Buckner, and we've spent *countless* hours dissecting his lyrics, sharing mixes and fawning over his beautiful music. I can recall driving from Central Pennsylvania to Northern New Jersey and listening to "Devotion & Doubt" over and over. It was about a three-hour drive and I only listened to this one record. One of my closest friends once made me a mix simply called "Gauzy Dress in the Sun" after the classic Buckner song. I listened to this mix almost every day in 1997 or so. It was my "bus ride to work" mix.

Of the 2000+ records I own, Richard Buckner's "Devotion & Doubt" may be the best record I own . If he's truly throwing in the towel on music, I will remember him for much more than his music. He's been a part of my life for more than a decade.

http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A173456

Reaching away goodbye rye,
Been bled on down the road,
But when the buzz was over,
Man, it was getting cold

I took the above photo at The Mercury Lounge, NYC, sometime around 2003

Album of Week 6

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Richard & Linda Thompson : Shoot Out the Lights
Hannibal, 1982

Perhaps the best record of the 80s

The Grammys

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How can anyone with a lick of taste find any value in this garbage? I've been watching for eight minutes and I've seen Alicia Keys butcher a Sinatra tune and now Carrie Underwood is about to crack my windows with her dreadful wailing.

Remember when NARAS and the majors used to be able to strut out artists like REM, Springsteen, Stevie Wonder (before he was terrible) and Johnny Cash? The state of commercial music has likely never been worse. I mean, do people really think Alicia Keys has talent? This was Clive's last *huge* find? Yikes.

Thank god for the thousands of artists sitting under the radar still making great music.

Now I need to turn the channel before I punt my TV to Daly City.

This Is America

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http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/05/world/asia/05gitmo.html?_r=1&ex=1359867600&en=19293fb0d1319c73&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

Joe Henry @ Sessions at West 54th Street

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One of the greatest songwriters of the past 20 years performing at Sessions at West 54th Street. Sessions had to be one of the best music shows ever to hit TV. While living in NYC, I saw (in person) both Lucinda Williams and Wilco at Sessions. I was even in the VIP section at the Wilco show - I think I snaked a few Amstels.

Peter Wolf / High Fidelity

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20 Songs

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I'm always listing my favorite albums, but rarely to I pair down my favorite songs. Let's give it a shot at twenty.

MISUNDERSTOOD : Wilco
DEATHLY : Aimee Mann
IT TAKES A LOT TO LAUGH, IT TAKES A TRAIN TO CRY : Bob Dylan
ONE OF THESE THINGS FIRST : Nick Drake
THE WAY : Bonnie "Prince" Billy
4AM : Richard Buckner
BEFORE THE DELUGE : Jackson Browne
NEW BROOKLAND : South San Gabriel
RISE : Josh Rouse
JUST LIKE TOM THUMB'S BLUES : Bob Dylan
THUNDER ROAD : Bruce Springsteen
BRING IT ON HOME TO ME : Sam Cooke
DEATH OR GLORY : The Clash
VIA CHICAGO : Wilco
PILGRIM : Steve Earle & The Del McCoury Band
POWDERFINGER : Neil Young
OUT OF TIME : The Rolling Stones
LAMINATED CAT : Loose Fur
SHE BELONGS TO ME : Bob Dylan
WALL OF DEATH : R.E.M. (cover of Richard & Linda Thompson)

Democratic Primary

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Although I was a strong supporter of John Edwards, I must say that today's vote sent a chill down my spine. I did not vote on race or gender or anything other than the candidate that I believe will best lead and inspire this country. And that person is Barack Obama.

In 1994 while studying at Boston College, I took a class called "Eyes on the Prize". The class chronicled the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Throughout 15 years of education, this class impacted me the most. Selma. SNCC. Birmingham. MLK. Stokely Carmichael. These events and people mattered to me. I couldn't believe that United States citizens were treated this way. I didn't understand it. But it put a fuel inside of me. Civil right and human rights were strangely ingrained in me. I joined Amnesty International. I took countless Black Studies classes. I had found something that mattered.

And no, this wasn't a phase. Fourteen years later my passions have only grown deeper.

Whenever I step into a voting booth, I get a chill down my spine. Politicians are always jabbering about being patriotic. Some folks throw a cute ribbon on the back of their SUVs, while others back any war our government considers in the name of "patriotism". Well, today I felt patriotic. And there was something special about this vote. As I handed my ballot to the volunteer, I realized that I just voted for an African-American for President of the United States. I felt progress. I imagined a country where color no longer mattered. Granted, we're a long way off. But this is another step. And a big one.

Album of Week 5

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My Morning Jacket : Z
Badman, 2005

CDs

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Compared to most people I know, I was very late to the digital age. I probably buy about 50 albums per year, on average. 2007 was the first year that I purchased the majority of my music via online stores (mostly eMusic), rather than in physical format. No, I don't scour P2P networks to find new music. I realize that music (and media in general) is headed to an endless open and free aisle via file-sharing networks, but I'm not ready to go there yet.

Something has been lost in this transition into digital music files. First off, as we all know, record stores are virtually gone. There are a few cool indies that remain, but most physical music is sold in shitholes like Best Buy and Wal-Mart. These places are not havens for music fans. They don't have listening booths. They don't have separate sections for singles, vinyl, new releases, music magazines and so forth. See, these are the things that I miss. I grew up with places like Compact Disc World, Ramsey Books & Records and Soundtracks. Every time I stepped into one of these stores I knew that the creative world was lodged on endless racks right in front of me. There was so much to find, so much to discover. I miss these places immensely.

Most of my friends have abandoned their CD collections in favor of iTunes libraries and hard drives to back up all of their music. Their CD collections are either in books in their closets or they've been given away. Once again, I'm not ready.

This weekend I looked at my two massive, unorganized CD racks and mulled their future. I mean, I have all of this music stored on my ipod. And my ipod connects to my stereo. Saturday morning I hopped out of bed and knew what to do. I pulled my entire collection off the two shelves and began to stack them. In alphabetial order. This took me about four hours. When I was done, my collection of about 2000 CDs wasn't tossed into boxes, but rather placed back on the racks neatly organized and ready to be scoured.

I spent most of today listening to CDs. I read the liner notes, skipped around tracks and dedicated 30-50 minutes to just one album, by one artist. I didn't have a "shuffle" button or a "playlist". I just had my collection and there was plenty to choose from.

This won't change anytime soon.

Welch, Rawlings & OCMS

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This performance capped off one of the greatest live performances I've ever seen on screen. Unreal venue, pristine sound and a warmth that's rarely felt in music today.

My Passions Collide

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Golden Smog to rally for Barack on Sat.
Friday, February 1st, 2008 by Chris Riemenschneider

Golden-Smog-Dan Murphy, Gary Louris, Kraig Johnson, Marc Perlman and even their old pal Jeff Tweedy are getting back together as Golden Smog to perform at the rally for Sen. Barack Obama on Saturday at the Target Center (1:30 p.m.). It’s not like the (mostly) local all-star band was needed to help fill the arena or bring attention to the candidate: The free tickets to the event were gobbled up days ago. Geez, who’s the real rock star? You can get on a waiting list here: http://my.barackobama.com/page/s/minneapolis

Word is the band will play for 45 minutes prior to when Barack goes on. They only got the invite to join the rally on Wednesday and jumped at the chance. “They’re definitely all supporters,” manager Jake Walesch said. Tweedy has already played several other events for his fellow Chicagoan. The timing here was key: Tweedy’s going back out with Wilco in two weeks (nearest stop is Des Moines on March 9), and Louris is getting ready to tour behind his solo album.