Blog Moving Day

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I started this blog on November 21, 2005 with a post about the impact of Bruce Springsteen's Born To Run on my life. As any friend, family member or work pal knows, I can talk about music and public policy ad nauseum. I attribute both passions to my early childhood. I mean, I wasn't deeply immersed in Watergate at age one, but life happenings and such just implanted music and policy/politics/justice into me, and I doubt I'll ever shake free.

With five years approaching, there was one simple part of this blog that I didn't like: the name. I always wanted just Bandwagon, but the owner of said domain wanted $10,000. That price tag was sent my way four years ago. That URL remains dormant.

Like many fans of music and books and stuff, I do enjoy words. And about a week ago, while writing for my memoir that may or may not ever be completed (now at about 275 pages), I was about to title a particular chapter Autumn Souvenir in reference to a memory from Yankee Stadium. I liked those words together. While walking up the stairs yesterday with N, I realized that those two words would serve as my new blog title.

I am still working on the layout and such, but as of this posting Bandwagon will now be Autumn Souvenir. Nothing is changing aside from the name. Everything from Bandwagon has been ported over and all posts going forward will be on Autumn Souvenir.

Thanks for reading over the years. And Mom, N, Bennett and Barack: Please update your bookmarks.



Eels : Tour / New Record

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Mark Oliver Everett's creative streak is bordering on some sort of record or something. Although they haven't toured since 2005's fantastic double-album Blinking Lights and Other Revelations, he's taken that time off the road to pen a beautiful memoir, and followed that up with the release of two solid records separated by only six months, Hombre Lobo & End Times. Now comes news of what will be the third Eels record in 14 months, Tomorrow Morning, due on August 24th.

But the big news of the day is a massive world tour, one that will have Everett and band on tour for almost all of August, September and October.

See you at The Fillmore.

August 3, 2010 Santa Ana, California Galaxy Theater warm-up show
August 7, 2010 Tokyo, Japan Marine Stadium - Summersonic Festival
August 8, 2010 Osaka, Japan Maishima - Summersonic Festival
August 13, 2010 Brisbane, Australia The Tivoli
August 14, 2010 Sydney, Australia The Enmore Theater
August 15, 2010 Melbourne, Australia The Palace Theater
August 20, 2010 Hasselt, Belgium Pukkelpop Festival
August 21, 2010 Stafford, UK V Festival
August 22, 2010 Chelmsford, UK V Festival
August 24, 2010 Glasgow, UK Academy
August 26, 2010 Birmingham, UK Academy
August 28, 2010 Zurich, Switzerland Winterhur Festival
August 29, 2010 Paris, France Rock en Seine Festival
August 30, 2010 Amsterdam, Holland Paradiso
September 1, 2010 London, UK Brixton Academy
September 3, 2010 Dublin, Ireland Electric Picnic Festival
September 4, 2010 Manchester, UK Academy
September 5, 2010 Luxembourg, Luxembourg Den Atelier
September 6, 2010 Groningen, Holland Oosterpoort
September 7, 2010 Hamburg, Germany Grosse Freiheit
September 8, 2010 Copenhagen, Denmark Vega
September 10, 2010 Berlin, Germany Astra
September 11, 2010 Munich, Germany Theaterfabrik
September 12, 2010 Vienna, Austria Arena
September 13, 2010 Graz, Austria Orpheum
September 14, 2010 Hohenems, Austria Eventcenter
September 15, 2010 Milan, Italy Alcatraz
September 17, 2010 Barcelona, Spain Bikini
September 19, 2010 Lisbon, Portugal Coliseum
September 22, 2010 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live
September 23, 2010 Richmond, VA The National Theater
September 24, 2010 Boston, MA The Royal
September 25, 2010 New York, NY Terminal 5
September 26, 2010 Washington, DC 9:30 Club
September 28, 2010 Montreal, Canada Le National
September 29, 2010 Toronto, Canada The Mod
September 30, 2010 Detroit, MI The Crofoot
October 1, 2010 Chicago, IL The Metro
October 2, 2010 Milwaukee, WI The Pabst Theater
October 3, 2010 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
October 5, 2010 Denver, CO The Odgen Theater
October 6, 2010 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
October 8, 2010 Portland, OR Roseland
October 9, 2010 Seattle, WA TBA
October 11, 2010 San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
October 12, 2010 Los Angeles, CA Henry Fonda Theater

NP : Bill Fay "Down To the Bridge" (1971)

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New feature! Every so often (perhaps never again), I will post a song that I simply can't stop playing of late. NP is short for Now Playing, which is short for me being obsessed with a certain tune.



Mark Olson's "Many Colored Kite" Due July 27

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Mark Olson's a darn busy man. Following his departure from The Jayhawks in 1995, he's released a slew of records under the name The Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers, all of which are quite good, the best being 2000s My Own Joe Ellen. In 2007, he released The Salvation Blues, the best record by any member of The Jayhawks outside of The Jayhawks. Just a year later he hopped back into the studio with Jayhawks co-founder Gary Louris for Ready For the Flood, but it's really The Salvation Blues that's proven to be Olson's best work in 15 years.



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In addition to a new Olson record on the way, The Jayhawks will be playing three shows in Minneapolis this summer. Word of a new record remains up in the air and additional tour dates are unknown, but news of Olson's follow-up to the fantastic The Salvation Blues is great news for fans of any of Olson's projects.

Freedy Johnston @ Cafe du Nord, SF, 5.14.10

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Freedy Johnston is sort of indirectly responsible for the 13+ years I spent working either directly or tangentially in the music business. I'd get into that story here, but it's reserved for my second memoir, to be published in 2014 by Simon & Garfunkel.

I'd gather that I probably saw Freedy Johnston about ten times in the 90s. From First Avenue in Minneapolis to stops all over the East Coast, he was one of my favorites of that time. I was hooked on Can You Fly (1992), This Perfect World (1994) and Never Home (1997). And I still play those records regularly. Add in the grossly under-appreciated Right Between the Promises (2001) (which was my favorite record of that year) and this year's Rain on the City, and Freedy has amassed an enormous library of great songs. As far as straightforward singer-songwriters go, he truly is one of the best of the past two decades.

In the past decade, I've only seen Freedy maybe once or twice prior to tonight. If you take a look at his discography, that should come as little surprise. It's been nine years since Freedy has released a record of new material. It's been a quiet decade, to put it mildly. Knowing this, I wasn't sure what to expect tonight. I've been loving his new record, but man, he's been away for a while.

When he took the stage just after 730, he actually looked slightly nervous. After a few quick quips, he started into not only one of my favorite Freedy songs, but one of my favorite songs, "The Lucky One." It was perfect. And the night took off from there. The room began to fill as he moved through his first few songs and the crowd was incredibly appreciative. Requests abound, loud applause and back-and-forth banter that had the whole room in a pretty joyous mood. Freedy's expressions made it pretty clear that this show was somewhat special. And boy did he deliver. He has such a mountain of great songs that it would have been impossible to please everyone, but what a set he gave us: "Evie's Tears," "Don't Fall In Love With a Lonely Girl," "Responsible," "This Perfect World," "California Thing," Jimmy Webb's "Wichita Lineman," "The Mortician's Daughter," "Dolores," "Bad Reputation," a gorgeous take on the new record's title track to close the show, and a few I'm missing. I can't remember the last time I saw a merch table at Cafe du Nord so jammed after a set.

N and I left the joint feeling pretty damn good. I didn't get my favorite Freedy song, "I Can Hear the Laughs," but if tonight's any indication, it can't be long before I get another chance.

I Now Think It Will Happen

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Exile on Main Street

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Is Exile on Main Street the greatest record ever? It just might be. I'm not sure I can think of a record in my collection that so masterfully mixes rock, soul, blues and just about every passion and emotion that encompasses what makes music drive us. When considering the records that traditionally fall into the "greatest ever" camp, there's The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, The Beatles' Revolver, The Clash's London Calling, Springsteen's Born To Run, Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited and a bunch of others (Marquee Moon).

If I attempt to remain as objective as possible, which clearly is impossible for me to do, for straight-ahead rock. and. roll. I would likely go with Exile. Blasting out of the gates with "Rocks Off," the full, in-your-face sound is simply astounding. I can't count the number of times I've been in the car screaming, "The sunshine bores the daylights outta me. Chasing shadows, moonlight mystery" as the horns, piano, guitar, drums and bass explode from behind. And then comes "Rip This Joint." Man. The surge of emotion can be felt from head-to-toe. "Tumbling Dice," "Sweet Virginia," "Loving Cup," "Happy," "Let It Loose," "All Down the Line" and the rest.

Next week Exile on Main Street will be re-issued in about 29 different versions (remastered / remastered box set / vinyl / with posters / with a lips t-shirt / covered in a bandana), and although I won't be picking one up (I have three vinyl copies and the CD), I will be listening all week. Unbelievably, this record, which sounds as fresh as ever, was released when I was -1.5 years old. That is simply incomprehensible. Ahead of their time? Ahead of any time.
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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Kay Lane

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I was 27 when my grandmother passed away in 2001. Today would have marked her 97th birthday. The only time I've ever seen my mother cry was at her funeral. As we walked towards the church on that afternoon, I was holding my mom's arm as she remained her indomitable self. But as we made our way across the parking lot, she turned to see all of the cars arriving: sisters, nieces, nephews, in-laws, friends, and suddenly, she broke down. My mother remains not only a remarkable mom, but quite possibly my best friend. And my mother's best friend was undoubtedly her mother, Kay Lane.

I have photos of my grandmother and grandfather all over my apartment, most courtesy of my incredibly thoughtful aunt, Barbara. My grandfather, who passed away in 1977, reminds me of Woody Guthrie. I'm not really sure why; something about his looks and his way about going through life. I wish I'd gotten to know them more. Despite the passage of time, I still think of them often.

Although he's still probably only about 11 months, after adopting Bennett, I decided to give him my grandmother's birthday. As he sits at my feet with Freedy Johnston's "The Lucky One" on in the background, it's time to round him up and head off to the park, where we'll chuck the ball and celebrate his first and grandma's 97th.

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot - The Demos

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Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is widely considered Wilco's masterstroke, and by many publications, one of the few classic records of the past decade. While I agree that it's a pretty remarkable artistic achievement (and this is definitely an "art" record of some sort), many of the best tracks from those sessions actually didn't make the final record. To my ears, it's "Heavy Metal Drummer" that keeps Foxtrot from being a perfect record. I know many like it, but I consider it one of Tweedy's weakest songs to date. Fun? Maybe. Suitable for this record? Not a shot.




"Laminated Cat"

Imagine if they'd scrapped "Drummer" and replaced it with say "Laminated Cat/Not For the Season," a song that oddly found its way onto Tweedy's collaborative effort with Jim O'Rourke, Loose Fur. This song is arguably one of the best songs Tweedy's ever written, and like many of Tweedy's great songs, it was dropped onto a side project. I have no problem with this, but man would that track have fit in nicely on Foxtrot. And if he wanted to keep that track for his O'Rourke sessions, how about a slew of other tracks from the sessions, including "Shakin' Sugar," "Nothing Up My Sleeve," "Magazine Called Sunset" and the simply outstanding "Cars Can't Escape," the last being one of the best Tweedy/Bennett pairings.


"Cars Can't Escape"

Lastly, there are a number of alternate takes that outdo the tracks that made the final cut. The
alternate version of "Ashes of American Flags" is stunning, and although the album version is a
beauty, the other take is far more sparse and somewhat pastoral. It just feels like the disappearing
America that seems to be painted in the song.

Why this post? Well, I suggest you head onto the internet and track down the YHF Demos. They
may be just as important as the final record.

Here's the track listing (I'm sure there are different versions):

"I Am Trying To Break Your Heart" (alt)
"Ashes of American Flags" (alt)
"I'm the Man Who Loves You" (alt)
"Magazine Called Sunset"
"Reservations" (alt)
"Kamera" (alt)
"Laminated Cat/Not For the Season"
"Shakin' Sugar"
"Nothing Up My Sleeve"
"Venus Stop the Train"
"Cars Can't Escape"
"Poor Places" (alt)
"Won't Let You Down"
"Heavy Metal Drummer" (alt)
"Instrumental #1"
"Instrumental #2"
"Instrumental #2 (take 2)"
"Kamera" (alt 2)


Thanks, Mom

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Reviews of Recent Netflix

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Flirting With Disaster (1996) : B, Pretty good comedy/drama.

Easier With Practice (2009) : B-, A peculiar topic delivered pretty well.

Deliver Us From Evil (2006) : A-, One of the more disturbing films I've watched in years.

Rear Window (1954) : B+, A classic that didn't quite meet "classic" expectations.

Hunger (2008) : A-, A wonderful documentary about a hunger-strike in Ireland.

American Heart (1993) : C+, Meh.

The Hurt Locker (2009) : B+, Quite good.

The Vicious Kind (2008) : D, Not good.

A Woman Under the Influence (1974) : B+, Quality Cassavetes.

I Love You, Man (2008) : D, Quite crappy.

Sugar (2008) : C+, Not nearly as good as the reviews suggest.

Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (2006) : B+, Love.

so as the past goes breaking by....

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This week certainly wouldn't make my Top Ten Weeks list. For the past 4-5 days I've been nauseous for a good part of each day, and I'm pretty sure that I'm not pregnant. And somehow, likely either in one of the dog parks or while shooting hoops, I seem to have screwed up my knee. I've never had a knee problem in my life, but something's going on. I tried to fire up some threes yesterday and just couldn't. The little pain in my left knee was resulting in freakin' brick after brick. I'm talking Louis Orr bombs that were drilling side backboard. I called it a day and took Bennett to the park.

To me, these are the times that I learn the most. The things that I love take on a deeper and more resonant meaning. For example, listening to the Jim James/Calexico cover of Dylan's "Goin' To Acapulco" sounded so sweet today. And the Thao song "Goodbye Good Luck" makes me very happy. And then I had lunch with a pal today and the conversation was long, deep, hilarious, insightful and just kinda moving. And I talked to N tonight and it felt really nice. And I'm about to start Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian, which I'm quite excited about. And the Yanks seem to win every game, which despite my issues with MLB, is pretty fun to watch (I like Hughes and this Cervelli kid).

And then there was the discovery of Richard Buckner's performance on Daytrotter. My love of Buckner is no secret, and I've worried of late if he's done with music. He had that interview a few years ago where he kinda hinted that it's a wrap and it's been four years since Meadow. And last time I saw him live he looked pretty bad: bloated, voice suffering, the passion just not there. When I see those who mean the world to me in such shape, it's heartbreaking. I don't know Richard Buckner, but his music has played an enormous role in my understanding of things. I remember driving back from Central Pennsylvania one night and at around 3am, still a few hours from home, I listened to Devotion & Doubt. The highway was completely barren. I was alone with this music. The record is so deep and dives into our core that it was somewhat overwhelming. I felt lonely but was enjoying the loneliness because it felt like the words understood. Or maybe I was understanding Buckner. I felt some solace in that hour. When considering heroes and stuff like that, I've come to gain greater and greater respect for folks like Buckner. I mean, these folks make such unbelievably important art, it goes virtually unnoticed, yet they keep on, with little (if any?) monetary return. I hope folks like Buckner, Easton, Roby, Pernice, Farrar, Vlautin, Best, Johnson, Mann, Russell/Smith, Ryan, Robinson and the rest know how much their music means to me, and others. I couldn't imagine my life without them. When I heard Buckner's "Town" from Daytrotter, I almost lost it. I thought he was gone, but the emotion in this take is some of the best of Buckner. Just stunning. And I'm incredibly grateful to be given such a gift. We all should be. Artists, especially the great ones, deserve more.

That's my take on things now at 851pm on a Saturday night. Bennett's at my feet, Buckner's coming through the headphones and I'm going to spend this night listening to my heroes.

"Stones In Exile" DVD

Alamo Square Cafe, Volume Lots

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They asked. I deliver. (I believe it's Volume 9 or 10)

Like a Hitman, Like a Dancer : A.C. Newman
Help Me, Suzanne : Rhett Miller
Goin' to Acapulco : Jim James & Calexico
Goodbye Good Luck : Thao
Town : Richard Buckner (Daytrotter)
Scarecrow : Beck
Magazine Called Sunset : Wilco
2000 Man : The Rolling Stones
Livin' Too Close to the Rio Grande : Freedy Johnston
Thank You Friends : Big Star
Love of the Loveless : Eels
Lafayette : Lucinda Williams
Folk Bloodbath : Josh Ritter
Rhapsody : Alejandro Escovedo
Waiting for the Universe : Pernice Brothers
January 6 : The Gourds
Across the Great Divide : The Band

Richard Buckner

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Whenever I think of Richard Buckner's lack of recognition, I'm reminded of that Steve Earle line about Townes. You know, "I'd stand on Bob Dylan's coffee table in my cowboy boots and declare that Townes Van Zandt is the greatest songwriter to have ever lived" or something like that. I'm not getting on anyone's coffee table, but I find it baffling that Buckner isn't mentioned among the greats. I guess it shouldn't come as a huge surprise, as many of my favorite songwriters still write (if they're still doing it) under the radar. Folks like Kenny Roby, Brent Best, Damien Jurado and Joe Pernice. I mean, these fellas can write songs right up there with Dylan, Springsteen, Woody and the rest.

Richard Buckner should be known. Widely. His debut, Bloomed (1994) is a masterpiece, while his follow-up, Devotion & Doubt (1997), is his masterstroke. That may be saying the same thing, but seriously, they're unbelievable records. Next came Since (1998) which rounded out a near-perfect trifecta, but it was The Hill (2000) that should have landed Buckner in the Rock & Roll and Country Hall of Fames on some sort of early ballot. Not because of The Hill itself necessarily, but the fact that the guy recorded four remarkable records to start his career. Yes, remarkable. And remarkable sounds like an understatement. Since its release, I've often cited Devotion & Doubt as my favorite record ever released. Ever. Yes, that includes Nebraska, Freewheelin' Bob, #1 Record and Still Feel Gone.

Let's just take a peek at Devotion & Doubt. On "Ed's Song" Buckner sings:

Tough is as she does
Won't you slump on over and stir my shuffle down
For once, devotion is enough
But the walk you whittle, another dream, another drink
Over in the basement, not an inch between
I'm yours and I have to leave

"Goodbye Rye" is that final drink with the lover you're leaving. Or maybe she's leaving you:

Once upon a blue thing or two
Eyes in sight, the moon confused
We heard the sparks fly and we watched our lies
Some died in retreat, some in jealousy

And then there's "Song of 27" which is quite simply one of the most beautiful songs ever written:

Though, I may be miles away from her
With years that pass without a word
I've never seen a moon so high
Her name hangs down from there tonight

So, put your little hand away
I've seen such needy days before
On nights like this, my hope returns
Though, I may be miles away from her

Okay, maybe I'm ready to stand on someone's coffee table. And those are just a few lines from a few songs. Buckner has about 100 incredible songs. His records post-2000 are a bit of a mixed bag, but heck, Nick Drake only released three (perfect) records before his early passing. Granted, Drake only started getting a little attention in the past decade or so, but it's time for people to discover Buckner. I rarely read Pitchfork anymore, but I'm going to go ahead and rank Buckner's records on their scale. And for the sake of someone's coffee table, please go buy his records.

Bloomed (1994) 9.6
Devotion & Doubt (1997) 10.0
Since (1998) 9.3
The Hill (2000) 9.8
Impasse (2002) 7.8
Dents and Shells (2004) 7.0
Meadow (2006) 8.0



In the Park

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The pup and I went on our few-times-a-week trip to Golden Gate Park this afternoon. We seem to have found our favorite spot out around 41st Avenue where there are less people, lots of trails, and huge open spaces. In usual fashion, once he tires out from me rifling the ball for about 30 minutes, I found time to toss on the iPod and rest in the park while he pummeled his ball.

My iPod was playing one gem after another. The biggest stunner was Neil Young's "Ohio," which came streaming through as I considered that today marks 40 years since the Kent State Massacres. This one gave me quite the chill. But it was Jay Bennett's "Survey the Damage" from The Magnificent Defeat that came on for the fourth day in a row. I've grown to love this song, and sitting there in one of my favorite pieces of land on Earth, I was thinking of Jay Bennett and his contributions to the world of music.

Jay Bennett Foundation

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Very happy to hear of this. What a beautiful album cover.

The Jay Bennett Foundation launches on May 24 on JayBennett.org. On that date, fans can support the JBF by downloading the album Jay was completing at the time of his death. The download of 'Kicking at the Perfumed Air' is free, but donations are accepted and will benefit the foundation or one of its partner charities. 'Kicking at the Perfumed Air' will also be available to purchase as a CD and LP via the site on July 10, with a percentage of the proceeds going to the Foundation.


Grab

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

My Top Ten Records, circa May 1998

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The things we find when doing a little housecleaning. I just came across a printout from May of 1998. I won't even get into the "others" section, which consists of about 75 records, but I figured I'd post my Top Ten from that time. Amazingly, not much has changed. These ten records, with the exception of maybe one, could land on a Top Ten list of mine today.

This is how the note reads:

NO ORDER, ONLY ONE RECORD PER ARTIST IN TOP 10 (Yes, I put this all in caps for emphasis):

Uncle Tupelo Still Feel Gone
Wilco Being There
Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde
Steve Earle Train a Comin'
Son Volt Trace
Big Star #1 Record/Radio City
Richard Buckner Devotion & Doubt
Beatles Beatles For Sale
Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Bruce Springsteen Nebraska

A Tip of the Hat

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I may have posted this already, but it certainly bears repeating. Wilco covering Buffalo Springfield/Neil's "Broken Arrow."

Artists on Twitter

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I don't read Twitter posts. I'm still not sure what it means to RT (re-tweet? as in sharing someone else's tweet?) or the whole @ thing that shows up on people's pages (someone else posting on your page?). I understand the attraction and why people obsess over it. Okay, I don't understand why people obsess over it, but yeah, I get it. I mean, I post Facebook updates so I'm not really that far off. And I have a blog. And I send about 455 texts per day, so by no means am I'm claiming to be "above it." That's actually not what I'm saying at all.

However, when it comes to those I look up to or artist's whose work means the world to me, I beg of them not to go the route of Twitter. I understand Miley Cyrus, McCain's tedious daughter or Paris Hilton Twittering, because, well, these people really don't have much to say whether on Twitter or not. And sure, fans of say Nickelback should probably be able to read posts from those asshats, but when it comes to credible artists, please, oh please, steer clear. I recently found out that Aimee Mann tweets. I put my tail between me buns and went to take a look. I read a few lines and closed the window. Good lord. I don't care that she's having lunch with some writer. (If she was having a parm, then yes, post it.) I don't know if other musicians, actors, writers, etc. that I adore have Twitter pages and I'd like to keep it that way. I mean, the mere thought of Springsteen, Neil Young, Oldham (okay, Oldham's would probably be hilarious) or Cormac McCarthy posting mundane crap on that service makes me want to curl up in a ball and throw in the towel. I like to see these people write, but to write for their craft. If they have something to say, it comes out in the art, and if not there, usually via interviews, and that's more than enough. I'm by no means telling these artists how they should conduct their marketing efforts, but man, this is an area that I think should be off-limits. Fine, if you're posting tour dates, articles, etc., I get it, but the personal stuff? Yikes. Please don't tell me that Sean Penn or Clooney have accounts? Atom Egoyan? Laura Linney? Noooooo....

One of the most unspoken attractions to the artists and creators that we love is the mystery that surrounds them. We now live in a country where most want answers to everything. We don't like gray. Well, I still do, and I think many folks I know do as well. So please, I can only hope that some steer clear. Aimee Mann's The Forgotten Arm is one of my favorite records, but honestly, once I read a few of her posts, something cheapened it all. I want her stories to remain those stories. Having a daily look into her personal life dilutes it all somehow.

And I'm now off to make some tuna salad.

Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

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I first saw Welch & Rawlings at Boston's Paradise Rock Club in 1995. They played a beautiful opening set reminiscent of The Carter Family and the greatest of pickers and songwriters. As the night neared to a close, they joined Son Volt for a raucous take on Neil Young's "Come on Baby Let's Go Downtown." Welch, along with Rawlings, have gone on to release four records, all of which are either incredible (1996's Revival, 2001's Time (The Revelator)), pretty incredible (2003's Soul Journey) or very good (1998's Hell Among the Yearlings). As her fans have eagerly awaited a new record for now seven years, many are starting to wonder if perhaps she is done making records. As the wait continued, a glimmer hit us with David Rawlings' first record, last year's A Friend of a Friend. Rawlings' record proved that whether released under Gillian's name or his, they just put out stunning music.

As the wait for a Welch release continues, if you're into folk, country, rock n' roll and tunes that are simply great, I suggest you watch a few of these videos. And then go buy every damn record mentioned above. And if you don't like them, you should probably just go ahead and block yourself from everything.







Wilco & Syd Straw Cover Ernest Tubb's "The TB Is Whipping Me" (1994)

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Wilco used to pick the most classic covers.

I Don't Mind Hanging Around

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It's been at least two weeks since I've posted anything outside of photos, YouTube links or quick nuggets on here. I used to check the "unique visitors" per day a few times a week; it's been months since I've checked out those nifty graphs. That said, I have no idea if anyone's even stopping by anymore. It's become obvious to me that my time to post on this blog is becoming limited. I do hope that I can pick up the pace in the weeks to come, but at least for the next two weeks or so, posts will likely remain limited.

On a quiet Saturday night, I'll just toss out some updates on stuff:

  • I haven't touched the book in three weeks, but that's usually how "work" on the book goes. I do have a deadline, which I will meet. And it's soon. And that deadline is for me to complete a full edit, then re-read the beast one full time. When I am done with both, I will find an editor and take next steps.
  • The photo book was also to be compiled by the same deadline, but last week my hard drive said goodbye. All of the photos (about 13,000) were/are backed up, but there is no rhyme or reason to them. All iPhoto folders are gone and I have to go through nearly all of them to find the ones that I want for the book. This is going to take time. But not too much time.
  • I do have a dog. It only took me 36 years. He was within 12 hours of being euthanized. He is a wonder: kind, smart, fun, delicate, happy and has added tons of warmth to my life. His name is Bennett.
  • I have made so many unbelievable new friendships in the past six months or so. They've come from countless places and angles, but they just seem to arrive. I am very, very fortunate to have these people in my life.
  • People keep asking, "What are you going to do with your career?" to which I really don't provide much of an answer. Right now things are good. I'm enjoying writing and photography, even though the inspiration can never be counted on. But it does eventually come. And I've taken to artist management again. A trip to LA last week to see the band perform was quite fun and only deepened my belief in their music. I am honing in on other interests, almost all of which circle around non-profit. Does that mean school? Maybe. Would I want to work for Oxfam? Good lord, yes. NPR? Yep. Could I remain in music?
  • This afternoon I re-read Paul Westerberg's Op-Ed on Alex Chilton (it's framed right next to my head). This line hit me: "Those who fail to click with the world and society at large find safe haven in music."
  • I have definitely retreated a bit from politics. Basically, I'm trying to step away from the things that get me riled up. After a lackluster first year, I'm much happier with Obama. All the other distractions (Teabagging, Glen Beck, etc.) are basically foreign to me; I simply pay no mind. I used to fall into it. Those days are over. That said, the state of Arizona should be ashamed of itself. When it comes to politics nowadays, the Son Volt song "Question" pretty much sums up where I'm at: My mind's made up, to pacing across the floor, no point in staying, we're not saying anymore. I don't mind hanging around, whatever now and what else, can I do? It's a question of you. Thoughts careen til I can't stand up. Where's the crime in a streak of bad luck? Words to pick at, retreat from. Words that fester to only get at the truth. It's a question of you. What it all comes down to, is a different set of values.....". Yes. What it all comes down to is a different set of values.
  • It's a beautiful world we live in. I am learning this more and more every day. And many of you have helped me to see this.

This Planet

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This Beautiful Park

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Damien Jurado / Saint Bartlett

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The Male Sarah Palin

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How do the republicans find such morons?

Record Store Day with Charlotte

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Charlotte G. at Amoeba, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Amazingly, I kept my purchases under $50. As I was looking through the Magnetic Fields section for the Love Songs box, I look to my left and Charlotte Gainsbourg is flipping through the racks. Kinda like that time at the NYC Record Fair when Thurston Moore was nudging me over to get into my section. Well, not like that at all, but records rule.

Los Angeles

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Liz Pappademas & The Level

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More to come soon....

In the meantime, have a listen here
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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

If I Was Going to Coachella....

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I went last year and that was enough. It was pretty enjoyable, especially given that some good friends had a very comfy house near the event, but it's too much of a scene for me. That said, sets by Brian Jonestown, Leonard Cohen and Okkervil River were fantastic.

Nonetheless, my picks (bold are must sees):

Friday:
I likely wouldn't arrive until 2pm
210-255: Deer Tick
320-405: Avett Brothers
545-535: She & Him
650-740: Lucero
805-855: Grizzly Bear
905-1000: LCD Soundsystem
1050-end: Jay-Z

Saturday:
1205-1245: Frank Turner
100-150: John Waters
215-300: Portugal the Man
300-350: Old Crow Medicine Show
425-515: Beach House
Get a chicken parm
755-845: Faith No More
Get another chicken parm
1150-1245: Devo

Sunday
1255-140: Soft Pack
7-8 cotton candies
425-510: Matt & Kim
510-530: Sunny Day Real Estate
535-620: Julian Casablancas
745-855: Pavement
900-end: Thom Yorke

The Life of Alex Chilton

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This story in The Times-Picayune is so moving that it bears repeating. Some may find it odd, but this portrait of Alex, to me, is a life lived honestly and a life worthy of admiration. There is so much focus and value placed on monetary success in our society and Alex didn't seem to care for it. He lived how he wanted to live. He lived how he felt he was meant to live. He didn't need the spotlight. He didn't need people fawning over him. He wanted a normal, simple and comfortable life among the people of New Orleans.

Hero is a grossly overused term in our society, but when pressed to name some of mine, I always start with Martin Luther King, Jr. To me, he was the embodiment of good, courage, humility, justice and altruism. I then toss around folks like Bruce Springsteen, Woody Guthrie, my grandfather, my mother, Jeff Tweedy, William Faulkner, Paul Wellstone and a few others. Folks who either inspired me and others or played a direct role in impacting my life. But if pressed to add another, Alex Chilton would make the short list. I loved Big Star the moment I heard them, and that love only grew and grew as the years passed. They only released three records, yet every one, now 30+ years later, sounds not only fresh, but absolutely alive. The music business failed them. And Chilton stepped away for a quiet life. Big Star maybe wouldn't have been as big as The Beatles, but those three records prove that they were almost as good. Many say that they defined and were the forefathers of power pop. To me, they were much more: rock and roll, beautiful songwriting, spirituality. Listen to #1 Record and you'll quickly move from jumping out of your seat on "Feel" or "In the Street" to soaking in the beauty of "The Ballad of El Goodo" and "Thirteen." The quintessential power pop band, some say. The quintessential band, I say.

One of These Things First

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As I announced to the world in a post some time back, I no longer have internet access at home. As a result, you've probably noticed that I'm not posting nearly as often to this here blog. But there are other factors, some of which I will outline for you here:
  • Memoir: First version is complete. I am now midway through a first edit. Once this edit is complete, I will re-read the whole damn thing and then I'm done. There is a title. It could change but it probably won't. It will then go off to an editor. Once it returns, I will consider which steps to take next. I may seek out an agent. I may just print up 100 copies and drop them on Market and 4th. I may just upload the whole thing to my Flickr account.
  • Photo Book: This is essentially ready to go. I just have to get over to Berkeley to pick out the paper, binding, layout, etc. and get them printed. This is going to cost me quite a few dollars. Please buy it when it's done. If not, Market and 4th.
  • Artist Mgmt: I am back at this. You will certainly be hearing more from Liz Pappademas & The Level. They are out of LA and their upcoming release Television City is a fantastic artistic achievement.
  • Dog: As I'm sure you're aware, I have adopted a dog. His name used to be Marley. It is out now Bennett. He is awesome. However, he is taking some training and that is taking up a good portion of every day. We also rumble each quite a bit.
  • Job: I have started to look around a bit. There's really only one company out here that I want to work for if I remain in my field. I am talking to this company. I will not be CEO.
  • School: This is always a possibility. I could go back for a Masters in Public Health or something of the sort. I am considering taking the GRE again. I think I scored a four last time.
All of this stuff has been keeping me quite busy, but that's not to say I haven't been inspired by stuff, some of which I will share now:
  • My dog rules.
  • I still think about Alex Chilton daily. His music and the pieces I've read, especially the New Orleans piece, have hit me in ways I could have never expected. I've always loved Big Star. As a matter of fact, I recently came across a top ten record list that I printed out in 1998. #1 Record / Radio City was #2 behind Uncle Tupelo's Still Feel Gone.
  • My reading has really slowed of late. I'm trying to wrap up Dennis Lehane's A Drink Before the War. Following this, I either want to read Joe Klein's Woody Guthrie: A Life or Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.
  • Playing basketball again makes me very happy.
  • Taking Bennett to Pacifica makes me even happier. Seeing him get totally pumped as he hopped through the tall weeds was so hilarious and touching.
  • My mother and stepfather recently visited. It was a very memorable visit. It took them five years, but it was well worth the wait. I miss them already.
  • Congrats to my pal Bob on the birth of his second child, Katie Jane.
  • I am listening to "You Are My Face" from Wilco in NJ last week right now and I am pumped. This is one of Tweedy's best post-Bennett songs.
  • Pavement!
  • Record Store Day is Saturday. New Josh Ritter! And a bunch of 45s!
  • Yanks in Oakland next week!
  • Things are good. If you've made it this far, well, I hope you're doing well.
I've posted this before, but today it seems fitting.....

Bennett Awaits Coffee

1 comments

, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Look Up

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Why I Won't Be Seeing LCD Soundsystem at The Fillmore

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1. $35 plus service for LCD Soundsystem is too much. A band of this caliber should be charging $25. Yes, they've put out two very solid records (one great), but LCD and Wilco should not be charging the same. (In all honesty, I'm pissed because I got hosed for $700 on my car today.)

2. I imagine the crowd at an LCD show will be more than a man can handle. 1000+ frat boys, rather hipsters, rather dongs, in one room may just drive me mad.

If they are indeed done following this tour, well, I'm seeing Pavement!

June 24, 25, 26: The Test

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Can I possibly do three straight? I've done maybe 40 or so over a few days, six times in Austin, but I am older, grayer and shorter. However, I am less of a misanthrope, which I guess makes me an anthrope.


Josh Ritter @ The Fillmore, June 24



Pavement @ Greek Theatre, June 25



Steve Earle @ Great American Music Hall, June 26

On

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, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

Wilco @ Wellmont Theatre, Montclair, NJ - Last Night

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Three hours! Thirty. Seven. Songs. The back-to-back Big Star tribute of "Thank You Friends" and "In the Street" likely would have had me weeping. Alex Chilton's passing has hit me harder than I could have ever imagined. Just something about Big Star. I listened to #1 Record on the drive up 101 last night and it is honestly one of the greatest records ever, ever, ever recorded. The fact that this record was lost in some distribution snafu following release, would be like Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man having been self-published and only made available to a couple folks.

Back to Wilco last night. Look at this set list!

Electric:
Ashes of American Flags
Wilco (the Song)
I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
Bull Black Nova
You Are My Face
One Wing
Shot in the Arm
Muzzle of Bees
Deeper Down
Summerteeth
Misunderstood
California Stars
Impossible Germany
Poor Places

Acoustic:
Spiders
You & I
Kamera
Hesitating Beauty
Laminated Cat
When You Wake Up Feeling Old
Dreamer in my Dreams
Outta Mind (Outta Sight)

Electric:
Airline to Heaven
Always in Love
Candy Floss
Jesus Etc.
Box Full of Letters
Can't Stand It
Hate it Here
You Never Know
Walken
I'm the Man Who Loves You
Thank You Friends (Big Star)
In the Street (Big Star)

Encore:
Casino Queen
Outtasite (Outta Mind)
Hoodoo Voodoo

Bennett

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I was born into a succession of four German Shepherds. As a kid, when I wasn't out playing baseball or basketball or at home watching baseball or basketball, I was often as near to the dogs as possible. German Shepherds, at least the ones we had, are loyal to their owners and everyone else pales. That being the case, all four were basically hooked onto the hip of my stepfather. But sometimes they'd give me some time. I loved those dogs, even Guard, the one who didn't really like me, or anyone for that matter.

I have always wanted a dog of my own. However, given jobs, travel and a desire for long nights out, I never thought it was the "right time." I always came up with an excuse. Maybe I feared the responsibility. To fill the mini void of a life without dogs, I'd spend hours in local dog parks. No, I wasn't trying to pick up women. I just wanted to hang with dogs. When a Shepherd would make its way into the park, my eyes would light up. But just like ours, he or she wanted to stay with the owner, while playing around. Even the other dogs seemed to bore the Shepherd. I'd hang with other dogs. They'd hop on my lap. I'd pet them for long stretches.

About a year ago, I began volunteering at Animal Care & Control. I'd head over 4-5 times a month and take dogs out for walks, or just hang out in the cages. These were some of my best days in San Francisco. Seriously. I loved the staff at ACC over SPCA. There was and is no ostentation at ACC. SPCA gives off a bit of, I dunno, something. But that's only in comparison to ACC. SPCA also does wonderful things, there's no question about it. But ACC is staffed by the grittier folks. The ones who will truly do the dirty work. And unlike SPCA, ACC will take any animal. Any. I'd walk up to the second floor after a few hours with the dogs and see rats and chickens booking around. I mean, they were caged, but they were still pumped. One rabbit almost took my finger off when I went in for a pet.

About two months ago, I started to consider adopting. I really didn't know what I wanted. Someone mid-sized, I guessed. Maybe someone with a story. Who knows. I wasn't even sure I was ready. Right around the time I started looking around, I met a mutt named Marley. They thought he was around nine months old. He had been cared for by a homeless man before the man dropped him off. He was one of a few I was looking at. I grew close to another, but one day I returned and he was gone. Marley remained. And he'd give me that look, but honestly, almost all give you that look. A week or two passed and I hadn't been back to ACC. And when I returned, Marley was gone. It happens. Often. I inquired a bit and let it go. Something about him being with a rescue group.

Last week, or maybe the week before, I asked about Marley again. I don't know why; it just came to me. He was with an organization called Grateful Dogs. They were fostering him. Turns out there was a very minor incident while Marley was playing with a volunteer. Grateful Dogs came to the rescue.

I found Marley on their website and filled out a form. The following day, Michelle from Grateful Dogs called. Over the past week, we've spent a number of days together. I went along with Michelle and about 11 other dogs to Fort Funston. I watched Marley the entire time. Well, until a Shepherd came running up to the group. And then I started playing with them all. But my eyes kept returning to Marley. Maybe I was ready, I thought.

Two days ago, I drove down to South San Francisco, stopped at the pet food store to get the basics, and went to Michelle's house to get Marley. Michelle had tested and grilled me for days and she was comfortable with me. She wanted me to have him. Her eyes welled up as we walked Marley out to my car. Marley was terrified on the ride from South San Francisco back to my apartment. Non-stop drooling. Tail buried between his legs. Trembling. I kept trying to calm him. No luck.

We are now under a two-week trial period of sorts. Unless something dramatic happens, I can't imagine this ending at two weeks. Less than 48 hours in, we're already buddies. He sleeps well. He loves to play. He's into Big Star. Oh, and one of the last things I asked Michelle was if it was okay to change his name. Yes, she said. He'll pick up quick. And he already has. Welcome, Bennett.

Maybe the following song is a bit too human-oriented, but I had to go with it.

Son Volt's "Question"

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Jay Farrar has an almost endless list of incredible songs. Some are amazing lyrically, some have an Americana beauty that few current artists can touch and some barrel you over like the best of Crazy Horse. With Uncle Tupelo, he penned some of the best songs of the early 90s with "Chickamauga," "Looking for a Way Out," "Postcard," "Steal the Crumbs," and every other song he wrote alongside Jeff Tweedy.

When considering his post-UT output, most point to Son Volt's 1995 debut Trace. Although I do consider it a masterpiece, I've always been a bit more partial to their last record with the Boquists and Mike Heidorn, 1999's Wide Swing Tremolo. This record, unlike any Farrar record before or after, shows Farrar's aggressive side (Did anyone ever see him doing something like "Straightface" or "Jodel?"), without parting with the balladry that would make Gram Parsons' nudie suit get chills ("Hanging Blue Side").

Musically speaking, some turn to punk rock to get their rush. Some to hip hop or rap. I find it in Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Slobberbone, Arcade Fire, Pavement, The Clash and T. Rex. You know, the songs that have you pounding on the steering wheel as you drive down 280 or 95. The songs that make it impossible not to open the sunroof. The songs that have you dancing in your apartment. The songs that drive life right through you. Of the hundreds of Farrar songs I love, I'm not sure there's one that combines lyrical and musical force like "Question." The sound of the band is heightened by the lyrics and the combination knocks me on my damn ass.

Thoughts careen 'til I can't stand up
Where's the crime in a streak of bad luck
Words to pick at, retreat from
Words that fester if only to get at the truth
It's a question of you
What it all comes down to, is a different set of values
Throw away or mobilize to use.


Bennett

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Bennett, originally uploaded by ccsbandwagon.

The 17

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In my effort to complete my coast-to-coast mix CD box set exchange of the ages, having found out that my buddy-in-tunes made so many mixes that I'd have to buy a local Office Max to match her, I figured I'd add to my smaller collection by putting together a mix of my favorite songs. Now, I know this is impossible, and such an exercise is almost silly; however, these songs are so damn f'n great. I basically just went from memory and listens and crap like that. And I'm sure I've skipped many-a-favorite. All that said, I present:

*Thunder Road : Bruce Springsteen
4am : Richard Buckner
Colorado Girl : Townes Van Zandt
Front Porch : Slobberbone
Jesus Christ (demo) : Big Star
Formula, Cola, Dollar Draft : Marah
Gun : Uncle Tupelo
Bring It On Home To Me : Sam Cooke
Random Rules : Silver Jews
Clay Pigeons : Blaze Foley
Catch You Alive : Damnations TX
Hundred Dollar Pocket : Chappaquiddick Skyline
Question : Son Volt
One of These Things First : Nick Drake
Range Life : Pavement
A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall : Bob Dylan
Casino Lights : Richmond Fontaine

*This is the greatest song ever. There simply is no argument.

Cell Phones in Public Places

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Is there any way that we can take a societal step back and forget that this became acceptable? It seemed like a slow progression but it's now gone way too far. I'm now having trouble spending time in my beloved local coffee shop because there are 3-4 schlongs who show up every day and babble endlessly and loudly. I do not like this much at all. The guy to the left of me right now is making me want to Miyagi him.