The Archives : 6 String Drag "High Hat" (1997)

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Whatever your thoughts on Steve Earle relative to his music, collaborations, political views or acting skills, one thing can't be debated: He has an incredible ear for talent. Earle launched E Squared Records in 1996 with longtime pal Jack Emerson and the label acted like a label should, releasing new, exciting and important music. If not for Earle, who knows if The V-Roys, 6 String Drag and Bap Kennedy ever would have found a home. And these three, along with Cheri Knight and a few others, rounded out a label that discovered some of the best rock bands of the 90s.

Like many of Earle's collaborations, E Squared was short lived and many blame Earle for the demise of a number of the bands on the label. But whatever the end result, the goods delivered while the label was active are remarkable. And the best of the lot just may be 6 String Drag's High Hat. It's rare that an album is great from top-to-bottom, especially one that goes generally unnoticed by the general public, but High Hat is just that: flawless. Mixing rockers such as "Ghost" and "Bottle of Blues" with down-tempo beauties such as "I Can't Remember," well, that's really the only ballad, it's almost unimaginable to consider that 6 String Drag called it quits after this gem.. Fronted by Kenny Roby (featured in an earler The Archives), the writing and storytelling are energized and simple. If you don't have the record, it'll be a tough find, but it's out there.


Bottle Of Blues - 6 String Drag

Centro-Matic's Only Shows of 2009

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Thu 05/07 - Dallas, TX - Granada Theater
Fri 05/08 - Springfield, MO - Randy Bacon Studio
Sat 05/09 - St. Louis, MO - Off Broadway
Mon 05/11 - Chicago, IL - Schuba's
Tue 05/12 - Minneapolis, MN - 400 Bar
Wed 05/13 - Dekalb, IL - The House Cafe
Fri 05/15 - Austin, TX - The Parish

Favorite Shot of Obama in First 100

Hopper In the Kitchen (Photo)

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Barack at 100 Days

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I could never have imagined that he'd be as successful as he's been thus far. In addition to passing a stimulus package, ending torture, vowing to close Guantanamo, siding with science on stem cell research and expanding health insurance for children, perhaps most importantly, he's beginning to restore our image throughout the world. I mean, the guy can shake hands with Hugo Chavez and the cries from the right are met with shrugs. He's taught the country to finally ignore the adolescent garbage recycled by the right. It's like we live in a country of adults again. And these realities have left the republicans literally paralyzed. If they can't turn to homosexuality, religion, guns and evil-doers, what do they have?

Despite all the challenges that we face, and they are massive, the country feels very good about Barack Obama. In addition to all of this, he's vowed to get us headed towards major health care reform within his first year. He is a man of limitless intellect and his ability to survey situations and come to thoughtful decisions is somewhat remarkable.

There's a long way to go here, but I'm going to say it: Something tells me that Barack Obama is headed towards becoming one of America's great presidents. Sitting where we are right now, I wouldn't pick another person on the planet to run this country.

I Think I Will Listen To You All Day

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Streets of San Francisco

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

A Song For You Moves

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Over there. I now plan on changing it every night before heading off to sack out. That's right: every morning....new tune for you to start your day. This could change the music industry as we know it.

Won't You Let Me See You Smile : The Essential Beatles

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The Essential Beatles
Hey Jude
We Can Work It Out
Here, There and Everywhere
Blackbird
Hello, Goodbye
I'll Follow the Sun
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
I Will
Let It Be
I'm Looking Through You
Eleanor Rigby
Don't Pass Me By
For No One
Yesterday
I'm So Tired
And Your Bird Can Sing
Dear Prudence


Springsteen and Wilco Live

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This is an exercise in extreme boredom.

I estimate I've seen Bruce Springsteen about 35 times and Wilco likely around 30 times. In an effort to review a bit, I decided to go through what stubs I still have. And here they are:

Bruce Springsteen
8.21.85 Giants Stadium, E. Rutherford, NJ
7.23.92 The Meadowlands, E. Rutherford, NJ
7.30.92 The Meadowlands, E. Rutherford, NJ
8.10.92 The Meadowlands, E. Rutherford, NJ
6.24.93 The Meadowlands, E. Rutherford, NJ
7.15.99 Continental Arena, E. Rutherford, NJ
8.6.99 Continental Arena, E. Rutherford, NJ
8.9.99 Continental Arena, E. Rutherford, NK
8.12.99 Continental Arena, E. Rutherford, NJ
6.15.00 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
8.7.02 Continental Arena, E. Rutherford, NJ
8.12.02 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
7.15.03 Giants Stadium, E. Rutherford, NJ
7.18.03 Giants Stadium, E. Rutherford, NJ
7.21.03 Giants Stadium, E. Rutherford, NJ
7.27.03 Giants Stadium, E. Rutherford, NJ
10.4.03 Shea Stadium, New York, NY
5.5.05 Paramount Theatre, Oakland, CA
6.6.06 Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord, CA

Wilco
12.14.94 Johnny D's, Somerville, MA
6.9.95 Tramps, New York, NY
6.10.95 The Paradise, Boston, MA
7.16.95 Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati, OH
10.27.95 The Paradise, Boston, MA
9.8.96 Zell's, Hoboken, NJ
12.3.96 Mercury Lounge, New York, NY
6.15.97 Fleadh Festival, Randall's Island, NY
10.19.97 Wavefest, Columbia, SC
4.20.99 Irving Plaza, New York, NY
11.9.99 Beacon Theater, New York, NY
11.19.99 The Trocadero, Philadelphia, PA
7.8.00 Ives Concert Park, Danbury, CT
9.16.00 Toad's Place, New Haven, CT
9.18.00 Bowery Ballroom, New York, NY
9.19.00 Irving Plaza, New York, NY
9.28.01 Town Hall, New York, NY
10.18.02 Roseland, New York, NY
6.27.03 Central Park, New York, NY
6.8.04 Irving Plaza, New York, NY
8.24.07 Greek Theatre, Berkeley, CA

A Song For You : Townes Van Zandt "Colorado Girl"

Best of the 2000s

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Amazing that we're only a few months away from being able to rank the records of the decade. I can remember "turn of the century" night like it was a few months ago.

With very little thought, the following are some records that have a strong chance of landing on my "Top 50 Records of the 2000s," which will be posted sometime around Thanksgiving.

Aimee Mann : The Forgotten Arm
Richard Buckner : The Hill
Josh Rouse : 1972
Brakes : Give Blood
M. Ward : Post War
Centro-matic : Love You Just the Same
Eels : Blinking Lights and Other Revelations
Elliott Smith : Figure 8
Beck : Sea Change
Bobby Bare Jr. : Young Criminals Starvation League
Jay Farrar : Sebastopol
Bonnie "Prince" Billy : Master and Everyone
The Wrens : The Meadowlands
The Arcade Fire : Funeral
Wilco : Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Josh Ritter : Hello Starling
Son Volt : Okemah and the Melody of Riot
Absentee : Schmotime
Damien Jurado : On My Way To Absence

Others

Review: Ashes of American Flags (DVD)

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When considering truly great rock documentaries, I've always considered the top achievements to be by Scorcese, with The Last Waltz and No Direction Home. And of course, there's Don't Look Back, Gimme Shelter and a few others, but I've often found most concert DVDs to be poorly produced, rushed and pretty light in depth.

Wilco's first concert DVD Ashes of American Flags falls in line with the aforementioned classics. The camerawork is stunning, the performances are as energized as I've ever seen the band, and the subplot of a band traveling throughout a part of America that's literally on its knees works into the story perfectly. When bassist John Stirratt speaks of his hometown in Louisiana and the Wal Mart-ization of a town he loves, it's hard not to feel a lost Americana spread throughout. When Pat Sansone steps off the bus to take photos and appears choked up as he talks about the loss of the American town as he tries to capture moments with his last few rolls of Polaroid film, there's almost a mystical beauty to the moment. And of course, we get inside the thoughts and lives of Jeff Tweedy, Glenn Kotche, Nels Cline and Mikael Jorgensen. Ok, Jorgensen kinda gets shafted.

And then there are the performances. Filmed at five separate venues, the songs flow to perfection. The blue lights during an explosive "Via Chicago" feel as though the band's collectively pounding through a lightning storm. When Nels gets his moment on "Impossible Germany," it's as if the entire band knows it's creating something extraordinary, without showing an ounce of arrogance or bombast. And then there's the the almost plaintive "Wishful Thinking," performed during soundcheck and capturing the subtlety of perhaps the most underappreciated song in the Wilco canon.

Ashes of American Flags is one of the best concert documentaries in recent memory. From the filming and the performances to the lost beauty of the deep south and the conversations with a band consisting of pretty normal folks, this is a treasure.

With Headphones On

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....Now Playing....

Olbermann on Boehner's Backtracking on Torture

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"Nice try, Boner."

The Archives : Old 97's "Blame It On Gravity" (2008)

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It hasn't gathered a whole lotta dust, but this record was so grossly overlooked last year, that it's worthy of a little revisit. Gravity is arguably their best record since 1999's Fight Songs and came as a huge surprise after the 2004 clunker Drag It Up.

Blame It On Gravity is far from the recycled sound that the 97's have tried in the past. These songs are fresh and stand as some of the best songs this fantastic band has ever recorded. "No Baby I" could very well be their best song to date and "Color of a Lonely Heart Is Blue" and "The One" round out one heck of a return to form. The strange thing about this album is that they decided to include just a few absolute clunkers, most notably "Dance With Me" and "Early Morning," the latter being perhaps the worst song any band has ever put on a record. But if you excuse a few duds, this is an excellent record, one that gets better and better on repeat listens.

After Rhett Miller's last solo record and the previous 97's record I feared that these guys had run out of gas. But Gravity, along with bassist Murry Hammond's strong solo debut I Don't Know Where I'm Going But I'm On My Way prove that there's still a lot left in the tank. And if I wasn't featuring Gravity, there's a good chance I'd have gone with Rhett's 2002 solo record The Instigator, another solid collection of tunes that deserves far more credit than it gets.

Ryko Absorbed by ADA, All Staff Let Go

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Word is that Ryko will still operate under the ADA/Warner umbrella, but who really knows what this means for one of the greatest labels ever to put out records. If Ryko's days are over, this is another truly sad development in the dismantling of the music business. Two of the industry's most important creative labels, Touch & Go and Rykodisc, are now seemingly on the outs.

In the spring of 1996 as I began my search for a "job," I sent my nearly blank resume to two companies: Rykodisc and Tony Margherita Management. I never heard back from either (I almost landed at Margherita's company years later), but these were the first places that struck me.

During my late-teens and early-20s, whenever I walked into Tower Records or Compact Disc World in Paramus, Soundtracks or Ramsey Books & Records in Ramsey, NJ or Nuggets or Newbury up in Boston, if I saw a disc packaged in that clear case with slight blue-ish coloring, I knew it was something good. My CD racks are now jam-packed with classic Ryko releases from Kelly Willis, Meat Puppets, Golden Smog, Josh Rouse, Morphine, Bob Mould, The Posies, Mission of Burma, Frank Zappa and Sugar.

What a wonderful label.

Album of Week 15

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Paul McCartney : Ram
Capitol, 1971

Six Months Unemployed

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Unless I am offered and accept a position in the next six hours and eight minutes, tomorrow will mark my six-month anniversary without a job. I've generally kept quite on this here blog regarding my employment search (or lack thereof), but I suppose I can share a few of the developments over the past half year.

For one, I imagine I've hit the ranks of the unemployed at perhaps the worst time in my lifetime. And as far as business development jobs go, well, there just don't appear to be many out there. I have had interviews at five or six companies and every HR person I've met with claims to have received hundreds of resumes. Some of the folks applying are overqualified, many underqualified, and an enormous number fall within the normal level of experience. Competition is fierce.

There was one job that I was after ever since SNOCAP headed towards sale. My love for the site last.fm has never been a secret. It is the one music site that I check daily. I've always loved statistics and when a site combines stats with tunes, videos, a little interaction and so forth, well, you've fit my needs. After numerous phone and in-person interviews, covering a year of pursuing a job with last.fm's parent company, CBS Interactive, I knew that my answer was coming soon. One afternoon last week as I walked home from the park, my phone lit up "CBS Interactive." With but a few words from the other end, I could surmise my fate. It was a long chase, but it had come to an end. As far as I know, the role is still open. If you're looking for a BD job in music/games, here's the job info.

I have one other job in play, but things have quieted on that front. I've had four interviews at this company, and after the final one, over a month ago, I thought it was a sure bet. There's been very little since. Perhaps the job's been nixed? Maybe they're being acquired? These are the questions that swirl in the heads of the unemployed. Many things remain unknown.

On a positive note, I have made a good amount of progress on my "book." I still intend to have it completed before we hit 2010, and I'm 99% certain that it will be. In all likelihood, I will just self publish it (order 100 or so copies via some company that does such things) and see where it goes. In addition, I have taken thousands of photos and discovered almost endless amounts of new music.

Although it's been a long while since I've had a regular paycheck, I can still say that I feel incredibly fortunate. I still have a little safety net that can carry me a little longer. Our president has helped me out by lowering my COBRA payments and chucking a few more bucks for unemployment. No, I don't go out for nice dinners anymore and aside from records, I haven't really bought any leisure items in six months. But I've come to realize that I really don't need these things anyway.

All in all, given that many in this country are in far dire positions, things are moving along just fine. I'm very pleased with our new president, there's a new Wilco record on the way and Eastbound and Down has been renewed for another season. Things could be worse.

Twitter and the Demise of Mystery

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And this is why I loathe Twitter. No, not the business or its founders or the platform or whatever; I think these guys came up with a simple and seemingly brilliant idea. And I caught one of the founders on Colbert recently and actually found him to be interesting and pretty down-to-earth.

Why I detest this whole idea has finally come to me. To my eyes and ears, Twitter falls right in line with Wal Mart, hipsters and mass media. In addition to being things that I disdain, they share in the watering down of America. Companies and people see a thirst for immediacy and short cuts and Twitter and the like fill that need. People no longer look to live in the moment or the next moment. We're being pushed to sound bite everything and there's little to no time for mystery.

I can say with little doubt that if some of my contemporary heroes, say Jeff Tweedy, Springsteen and/or Obama, started sending out regular Twitter updates, I would be absolutely disgusted. There needs to be some unknown. Despite a few drunken photos with folks I admire, I've always said that I don't want to meet those I look up to. Why risk what they've already given? (Unless it's Brent Best, who's just classic.)

I continue to ramble. But what I want is a little more grey area in this world. We wear clothes for a reason.

The Best Seats at Yankee Stadium

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Face Value: $2,625. Almost three grand to watch a baseball game? You could knock the first 2 off this number and I still wouldn't *consider* it, regardless of my salary, which right now is $430/week via Obama. What a joke.

Brian Jonestown's Mark

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There's nothing like a show that continues to deliver well after the encores have concluded and the drum kit has been shuffled offstage. Of all the bands I saw down at Coachella, the performance by Brian Jonestown Massacre did one thing: It reminded me that yes, there are still great rock bands playing today.

It seems as if the majority of today's music attempts to do just about everything. Image is king and the majority of the bands touted by say Pitchfork or Stereogum strive to find their place, and in doing so, lose sight of the real force behind the damn music. They want to look different (while all looking the same) and sound a little different (while all sounding like ass), but in the end, it's nothing but a repetitive void of crap. (I really do not know what that means at all.)

Brian Jonestown Massacre took the stage with five guitar players and absolutely tore through a 45 minute set of pure and raw rock and roll. That's it. It was loud, unbelievably tight and the band seemed like a real damn band; everyone playing their part and as a whole creating a fantastic and spirited sound. I felt the music take hold. I watched five guitar players hitting every damn note and noticed that they could also feel the cohesion onstage. This was goddamn rock n' roll, something I couldn't recall seeing for some time.

11 Songs

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Enjoy some good tunes.

Home From the Desert

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Coachella 2009

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Overall
The festival is run quite well. Parking is a breeze and it's but a 15 minute walk or so to the gates. There are more than enough bathrooms. The food is surprisingly good for a festival. A bottle of water only runs you $2. Sure, it's scorching hot during the day, but this is known going in. There's a slight overflow of sound between the two main stages, but it's not enough to overpower or ruin a performance.

Brief Reviews of the Bands I Caught

M. Ward Run-of-the-mill set from Ward. If you've never seen him, I'm sure it was enjoyable. I was a bit bored.

Conor Oberst & The Mystic Valley Band I've never been a fan of Bright Eyes, but I did find myself listening to his latest solo record a bit. That said, his set was pretty bad, and he has the charisma of Bobby Jindal. This guy should *not* speak in between songs.

Leonard Cohen I've never understood the whole *legend* status thing about Leonard Cohen. However, it was a good set. I was thrilled to hear "Everybody Knows."

Morrissey A very pleasant surprise. I'm not a Smiths fan. I suppose that could change soon.

Paul McCartney "Blackbird" alone was worth the eight-hour drive. I can't believe I'm confessing this, but we left early. It was a mistake. But I'm old and grumpy.

Henry Rollins Always entertaining.

Calexico Always kinda mediocre. Alright, slightly better than mediocre.

Fleet Foxes Boring. Oh my god, they have great harmonies! So do about 34,000 other bands. The harmonies alone don't carry these mandle-wearing-greasers.

Band of Horses Quite nice.

M.I.A. Ever since she's buddied up to the hip hop folks, her shows have suffered. I saw her at Amoeba around the release of her first record and it was mighty fine. Now it's just a bit too over the top. And the attitude's getting just silly.

Okkervil River These guys just get better and better.

Brian Jonestown Massacre Fantastic. No antics, just full-throttle damn rock n' roll. Perfect set.

Antony & The Johnsons I could only bear three songs. Awful.

Paul Weller Quite nice. He brought Johnny Marr on for a tune which was a nice bonus.

My Bloody Valentine I can't believe I'm going to type this, but I actually liked their set quite a bit. We sat in the back and I kept my eyes on the sky during their entire set. It was pretty powerful.

I shot the following video of Okkervil's "Black" on my awful Sony digital.

Out Tuesday

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Don't forget this one: Brakes' Touchdown

A Song For You : Luna "Slide"

Ticket Giveaway : Richard Buckner @ Crepe Place, Santa Cruz, CA, 4/17

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Oh, how this pains me. Unfortunately, it turns out that I won't be able to make this show. I have one ticket that is gratis to the first person to leave a comment mentioning something related to Buckner or maybe Bruntnell.

Santa Cruz is about 75 miles south of SF.

Six Books

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Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx Is Burning, History, 2006: 7.5



A Drinking Life by Pete Hamill, Memoir, 1995: 8.2

A Song For You : Marah "Formula, Cola, Dollar Draft"

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Double-Feature Wednesday!

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I can't recall the last time I've been to a double feature. I think I've done it maybe once in the late-70s or something when I was too young to even care.

On Wednesday, The Castro Theater is showing Double Feature : The Intimate Epics of Terrence Malick. It's 90 minutes of one of my all-time favorites Badlands followed by nearly three hours of one of N's all-timers The Thin Red Line. We will be inside the theater by about 115pm and out a bit before 7pm. Thank god I no longer smoke butts.

My Politics

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According to Political Spectrum Quiz, this is where I stand. Does this mean I love Bob Barr?

My Political Views
I am a left moderate social libertarian
Left: 4.76, Libertarian: 3.22

Political Spectrum Quiz

Oh, Just Please Go Away

I Was Dressed For Success : The Essential Pavement

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The Essential Pavement
Shady Lane
Gold Soundz
Father to a Sister of Thought
Major Leagues
Cut Your Hair
Date With Ikea
We Dance
Silence Kit
Summer Babe (Winter Version)
Range Life
Here
We Are Underused

Pavement "Father to a Sister of Thought" (Video)

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I'm Gonna Try This Old Microphone Line : The Essential M. Ward (Photo)

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The Essential M. Ward
Poison Cup
Here Comes the Sun Again
Carolina
Lullaby + Exile
Vincent O'Brien
One Life Away
Requiem
Never Had Nobody Like You
Fuel For Fire
So Much Water
To Go Home
Radio Campaign


The Archives : The Gourds "Stadium Blitzer" (1998)

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If pressed to name the best band since say, 1997, I'd probably consider a few and then ultimately land on Austin, Texas' The Gourds. As far as recorded output and live shows, I really don't see any comparison. Co-fronted by Kevin "Shinyribs" Russell and Jimmy Smith, and backed by Claude Bernard, Max Johnston and Keith Langford, not only have they released just shy of ten fantastic records, but they have been arguably the best live act for over a decade. Sure, there have been bands competing for that badge, most notably Centro-matic, Slobberbone, Arcade Fire, Wilco and Josh Ritter, to name a few, but as far as longevity and spirit, no one touches The Gourds.

Stadium Blitzer is their second record, just a year past the wonderful debut Dems Good Beeble. Songs such as "Magnolia," "Boil My Strings," "LGO," "I Ate the Haggis" and "Cold Bed" remain fan favorites, and the lesser known tracks such "Pushed Her Down," "Raining In Port Arthur," and "When the Money Comes Rolling In" are just about half of what is a massive artistic accomplishment. This record is as much fun as it is introspective, but the overriding feel is a spirited collection of songs that should be remembered for decades to come. And at least in this household, there's no question that they will be.

This is a must-have for well, everyone? And once you've made this purchase, it's time to buy everything else, including this year's Haymaker!, a record that could land atop my year end best of.

Justin Townes Earle on Centro-matic (Video)

Album of Week 14

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Max Richter : Songs From Before
Fat Cat, 2006

Isn't She Lovely

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A discussion about Jeff Tweedy recently covering Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke" led to this e-mail from a friend:

My mom’s sister lived on Ocean Pkwy in Brooklyn when we were kids. She had Songs in the Key of Life on vinyl and loved the song “Isn’t She Lovely.”

One holiday we were there messing around jumping on the beds and stuff and we broke the record. She was not happy. I vaguely recall that her anger subsided when she realized we broke the disc that did NOT contain “Isn’t She Lovely.”

Kenny Roby & Rob Keller "Glad It Ain't Me" & "Pass Me Not" (Videos)

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If Roby doesn't record another record, I may stop listening to music altogether.



A Song For You : Beck "Nitemare Hippy Girl"

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New Music Tuesday

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What a few weeks of new additions.

Philip Glass : Music in Twelve Parts
Paul McCartney : Ram
Songs: Ohia : Axxess & Ace
Little Wings : Discover Worlds of Wonder
Duane Jarvis : Certified Miracle
Townes Van Zandt : Anthology 1968 - 1979
Max Richter : The Blue Notebooks
Nico Muhly : Speaks Volumes
Brakes : Touchdown
Max Richter : Songs From Before
Susanna : Flower of Evil
Nico Muhly : Mothertongue
Christopher O'Riley : Second Grace: The Music of Nick Drake
The Backsliders : Hicktopia
The Plimsouls : The Plimsouls
Wilson Pickett : The Very Best of Wilson Pickett
John Adams : Hallelujah Junction

If you have any eMusic recommendations, please share. I still have about 30 downloads to shed in the next few days.

Doug Sahm "She's About a Mover" (Video)

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A Song For You : Wings "Another Day"

The Greek Theatre, Berkeley, June 27

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The Obama Presidency Through 77 Days

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It's far too early to really say how the policies Obama's initiated and continues to put forth will fare, but I can say that, thus far, Obama has surpassed even my wildest hopes on Nov 4. Almost every single day I awake to news and moves from the White House that make me proud. Remember how nervously democrats pushed for health care reform in the 90s? Granted times have changed, but Obama makes it seem like a foregone conclusion. Remember how we shunned the world for eight years under Bush? Now we're looking to engage even those "evil" countries. Torture seems unfathomable on Obama's watch. Unlike his predecessor, Obama's making bold (and yes, risky) moves to get our economy back on track. The environment matters again.

His presidency has only just gotten underway and we still have little idea how things will turn out on countless fronts that require immediate repair, but his bold and open-minded moves thus far have made it clear that he's exactly the leader we need right now. And despite an economy in turmoil and questions still unanswered on many fronts, at the age of 35, I can't recall ever being so proud of my country. Things can obviously change on a dime, but for the past 77 days, it's been quite a ride.

Soul of Athens

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You should visit.

Arcade Fire "Windowsill" (Video)

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From Nebraska to The Indian Runner

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Popmatters has a pretty good look back at Springsteen's bleak and haunting 1982 record Nebraska, a record that sits firmly next to say Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads followed by a viewing of Terrence Malick's fantastic film Badlands.

But whenever I listen to Nebraska (which is often), I find myself first lost on the Jersey Turnpike at 3am (which again, for many years, was quite often) or the impact I felt watching Sean Penn's 1991 directorial debut The Indian Runner, which was actually based on the Nebraska track "Highway Patrolman." Starring Viggo Mortensen, David Morse, Patricia Arquette and Dennis Hopper, I saw The Indian Runner at age 18 or 19 and the images and horrors brought Nebraska to life. Prior to seeing the movie, my callow mind at the time saw Nebraska simply as a "dark" record. The Penn film made it much bigger. And after viewing this fantastic movie, I went back to Nebraska and its true meaning came alive.

A Song For You : Bruce Springsteen "The Price You Pay"

Sunday's Mind

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-If you saw new GM CEO Fritz Henderson on Meet The Press this morning, I bet you agree that this company's done. What a godawful performance from the new chief. This dude represents just about everything that's turned the economy south.

-I must say, David Gregory has improved quite a bit. Today is the first time I've watched MTP in some time, and he was quite good.

-N's fish tacos last night were pretty great.

-Thanks to KYC for sending me all this great new music.

-I really can not wait for baseball to start. And I really hope Alex Rodriguez just never returns. Just put Toby Harrah at third.

-Justin Townes Earle, Jason Isbell and the movie Ikiru really made for a great weekend arts-wise. I see another movie on the horizon tonight. I think N and I may build a fort.

-I have so much new music to listen to. Man do I feel lucky.

-This morning I was reading a piece about Obama in the NY Times and was once again hit with that, "I can't believe he's our president" feeling. Now I know what some of our folks felt like when JFK was running things.

-Everyone reading this blog should really own Matthew Ryan's latest record; I just never tire of it.

-I can't hardly wait.

2009 MLB Predictions

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AL East: Yankees
AL Central: Twins
AL West: Angels
Wild Card: Red Sox

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Cubs
NL West: Dodgers
Wild Card: Phillies

AL Championship: Yankees over Angels
NL Championship: Cubs over Mets

World Series: Cubs over Yankees

AL MVP: Mark Teixeira
AL Cy Young: Roy Halladay
NL MVP: Albert Pujols
NL Cy Young: Brandon Webb

Jason Isbell & 400 Unit w Justin Townes Earle @ The Independent, SF, 4.3.09

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It's rare to get a double-bill as promising as former-Trucker Jason Isbell and a son of Steve Earle. Connections aside, it was the artist's work that made this bill so appealing.

JT Earle took the stage alongside a mandolin/harmonica/vocalist who matched Earle's Hank Williams/Carter Family singing and playing to perfection. At the outset, Earle's throwback style, complete with back-and-forth banter about "riding trains from Memphis to Nashville," among many other simple and charming bits, seemed slightly contrived, but once you let your guard down, it's clear that it's absolutely not. Earle's a fantastic singer, a solid lyricist and has a stage command that, despite being unique in its own right, was clearly borrowed from his pop. "Mama's Eyes" was the highlight of the night, but every single song was met with exuberance from the nearly-packed room. Whenever Earle would be close to wrapping up a song, you could sense the room ready to explode, and just a few seconds later, that it did. "They Killed John Henry" brought the depression to the present and the communal feel seemed to cross from one side of the room to the other. Justin Townes Earle may still be living during the days of the Carter Family and Hank Sr., but based on last night's performance, he's right where he should be.



Isbell and the 400 Unit seemed a bit taken aback as they hopped onstage following the incredibly well-received opener. The hesitation seemed clear as they moved through the first song, but by the time they settled in on to the beautiful "Chicago Promenade," they were in full stride. As the bottle of whiskey went from one player to another, Isbell's confidence rose in songs ranging from the DBTs' "Danko/Manuel" to his own "Cigarettes and Wine" and the beautiful "Dress Blues." An absolutely rousing version of The Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" had the room swinging. When the crowd wasn't gripped by the words, they were leaping up and down to a rock band in perfect form.

This is a fantastic double bill. As I headed home on the San Francisco streets, I felt full of country and rock and roll, spanning what seemed to be almost 100 years.

I Love You, California (Photo)

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Today ranks up there with the best days I've had in this beautiful state I now call home.



, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Driving Up and Down PCH1

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And I couldn't get this song out of my head. I'm now in a coffee shop playing it over and over. I can't believe that I had never heard this song until last night. And I own about six Townes records.

What an absolutely beautiful song.

The Jayhawks To Tour? (Photo)

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Mark Olson & Gary Louris @ Great American Music Hall, SF

No official tour confirmed, but they have two dates slated:

May 30th: Barcelona, Spain (Primavira Sound '09 Festival)
July 10: Minneapolis, MN (Basilica Block Party)

This is the word from Gary Louris:

"Our approach right now is to look forward. Olson and I have a record out, we're going to record another, maybe make solo records and do the Jayhawks occasionally," Louris explains. "I think the plan is that we're going to play festivals, next year we're hoping to play Bonnaroo and things like that. We'll see if it grows from there. I don't know how much Karen can tour, or how much any of us want to do a full band tour. As far as recording together, we don't have any plans to do that. But if we continue to do it and we're just loving it, then of course you need new songs."

When Olson left the band in 1995, Gary carried on and recorded a trio of fine post-Olson Jayhawks records, the most impressive being 1997's Sound of Lies. While this was happening, Mark Olson was recording one fine record after another under the Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers moniker. Olson then released the fantastic The Salvation Blues in 07, while Louris brought us the uneven Vagabonds in 08. And this year's Olson/Louris collabaration Ready for the Flood has a few great songs, but as a whole, is a bit of a disappointment.

Wow was that a lot to cover. My hope is for either a Jayhawks reunion or more Mark Olson solo material. Or both. And ten-plus years ago, in a drunken stupor at Maxwell's in Hoboken, I asked Gary Louris if he'd be my best wedding at my wedding. I don't believe I received a definitive answer.

A Song For You : Son Volt "Windfall"

Roof at 630am (Photo)

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DSC_0014, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Album of Week 13

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Neko Case : Middle Cyclone
Anti, 2009

Written by Duane Jarvis and Lucinda Williams

The Passing of Duane Jarvis

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There are few people I respect and admire more than those who bypass the easy paths in life in favor of something less tangible. Some turn out to be known by the masses, a few make a great living, but most continue to write, sing, paint, film and so on, despite the massive challenges of going this route. Most don't have health insurance and few can rely on a steady paycheck. But they do it anyway. And what's always grabbed me about these people is that the majority of them are incredibly intelligent. If they had wanted a job in insurance or on Wall Street, most would've had little trouble doing so. But they were after something greater. The financial returns weren't a part of their plan, and I can only guess, in many cases the potential monetary troubles weren't even considered all that much. They went with their hearts and they followed a road that proved erratic, taxing, but in the end, the only road they could take.

By all accounts, Duane Jarvis was one of these people. When he moved from his hometown of Portland, OR to Los Angeles in the mid-80's he said this:

"I was sort of starving in Portland in the mid-'80s, so I figured I might as well go starve in L.A. where it's warm. And there were so many great bands down there at the time. The Blasters were happening, as well as Rank & File, Los Lobos, the Plimsoles, Peter Case, Lone Justice. My first year in L.A. sucked, but I did okay after that. It's difficult to move from a very comfortable place to one of the biggest cities in the world, especially without any friends, but it worked out great. I eventually got to play with a lot of my heroes."

And that he did. He went on to play with Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miller, John Prine, Giant Sand, John Wesley Harding, Amy Rigby and many, many others. He also released five solo records.

After a battle with colon cancer, Duane Jarvis passed away last night. I have a friend who knew Duane well. The way she described Duane over the past few days paints a legacy of a man who was adored by many. I never met Duane, but from his music to the way he touched many, there's little doubt that he will be remembered for not just his music, but for who he was.

London Protests at G20