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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

In Which I Am My Own Arch Enemy In Regards To Sleep Deprivation

Okay, so you know what sucks? Extended recovery time, that's what. I'm proud (or foolish) to say I can still stay up and run with the big dogs, but G-DAMMIT it takes me days to find my equilibrium again.

That is just all kinds of WRONG!!!

I am addicted to activities that keep me up until the god forsaken time I normally am violently kicked awake by a ruthless alarm clock, only to do a complete reversal once my off days come to a close. It's brutal. And yet, I repeat the same behavior over and over. Clearly, I am a masochist. But truth be told, I enjoy being out, staying up and pushing my limits. There is no doubt in my mind I will continue in this fashion until I crumple into a disintegrating heap of oozing flesh, because basically I'm a ginormous neb-shit who insists on cramming as much as possible into her life and can't bare the thought of missing something.

Case in point, last week's vacation. You already know about the incredible kick-ass Old 97's road trips. Well, when I got home from Cleveland Friday, I went downtown to the Arts Festival to see Jeff Tweedy perform for FREE.

a mere sliver of the crowd in attendance

It was a tough call for me… a third night of Old 97's fueling my gas tank in Columbus, or Jeff Tweedy solo (who I've never seen live before) on a big grassy field along with thousands of people on a gorgeous night in Pittsburgh. My impression of Tweedy was he's not very dynamic. I like a handful of Wilco songs, but I'm not big into excessive jamming or a somber, sad-sack stage presence.

And c'mon, let's face it, he had a tough act to follow after the super-charged, dynamic performances my imaginary husband and his Texas buddies put out the two nights prior. In Tweedy's favor, I had seen this hilarious video of him covering the Black Eyed Peas inane song, I Gotta Feeling, and was hopeful he would be at least somewhat entertaining. And also, the aforementioned FREE part.

I just watched this again while writing. The dichotomy made me laugh out loud. That's some funny shit right there.


The added bonus was watching the free concert (did I mention it was FREE) with one of my favorite families, the K-Schnikes.

his wife is a saint
i kid … i kid

Bobbo is a HUGE fan. Tweedy is his Rhett Miller, so it was fun to see him get all excited with each song played.

And guess what…he was really good. I know. I know. Everyone on earth who loves Wilco knew that already, but I was surprised at how funny he was. Tweedy played about five songs from his newest solo effort with a band that included his 19 year old son on drums (such a proud poppa), before they left him alone on stage to play his hits for the rest of the evening.

cajoled into reuniting his fictional band
Land Ho! from parks and rec by audience members 

future heartbreaker
secretly wants to be a heavy metal drummer

He played California Stars, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart, Jesus and my favorite, Heavy Metal Drummer along with a fair amount of other songs I recognized, but could not name. Between songs Tweedy would quip and banter with the more vocal audience members stationed up front. He was hilarious. I wish I would have recorded more of his interactions. As it is I recorded this bit leading up to what is ironically my favorite song. (you'll understand that once you watch the video)

The concert ended around 9:30, but when I got home I spent some quality time with my ever-lovin', recounting the epic road trip and catching up in general until around 1am. Much like the nights before, I slept far less than I needed, only logging a handful of hours. Stupid, STUPID menopause clock. No rockstar I, sleeping until two on a warm afternoon. (Old 97's fans will totally get that)

BUT WAIT! The vacation of excess wasn't over yet. After running around all day, volunteering at the WYEP radio booth at the festival and working in the yard, I embarked on the final musical outing of the week, a 9pm show of Quiet Company at the Smiling Moose.

A little background about these gents. They are an Austin-based pop/rock band who primarily play the Texas circuit, but have travelled north over the last several years for a couple of tours. I became aware of them via my friend, Cindy who has known and supported them for years. They don't have label backing so when they travel outside their state, they try to find a host to put them up for the night. Last time through, they stayed with my Steel Drum buddies. This time my friend, Lizzie's mom generously agreed to let them crash at her house. She's super cool and she makes AMAZING cookies, so they scored big on this trip.

from the left
tommy, matt and taylor

Before their set, Taylor, Matt and Tommy came over to say hello and meet Lizzie. Even though they've been together for a number of years and give an energetic performance, the band are not well known here and drew a small crowd for their 30 minute set. But they are professionals and gave it their all. I know in other cities like Cincinnati, Chicago, and New York they have a much larger fan base to chat up and sell merch to after the show. Being relative unknowns left them with time to actually hang out and explore the South Side for a bit.

We lead them out of the chaotic fray of the teen blocks of E. Carson to a calmer pub with happy hour drinks, a pool table and darts. It was really cool to talk at length with these sweet musicians about family, old jobs (turns out the lead singer, Taylor worked the morning shift at a television station early on), tour life, label negotiations, guilty pleasure TV shows (specifically American Ninja Warrior) and what's next for them. Much like Spring Standards, they are trying to figure out how to get to the next level and if it's worth the time away from their wives and kids.

We had a really nice time with the five of them. Before you knew it, it was nearing 1:30am. They headed off with Lizzie and I dragged my tired, old arse home praying I could turn my self-imposed sleep deprivation pattern around the next night in preparation for my hours-before-the-buttcrack-of-dawn return to the Special K.

I AM my own arch enemy.

Up until 3am Wednesday, 2am Thursday, 1:00am Friday and 1:30am Saturday… you best believe that 2:30am wake up Monday morning stung like a Muthafucka, but you know what? Even though I am tired as SHIT and still feel like the walking dead, the prolonged exhaustion was worth it. If I had to do it again, I'd totally put that bad boy on repeat.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Friends, Fans And My Favorite Foursome

Okay, so this past week brought my four favorite Texans to town in a big, shiny tour bus. You know what that means…


Yes, obnoxious fangirlie screams and all that goes with it. Poor Geo. He suffers my obsession with quiet dignity. And booze. Or he should anyway. Say a prayer for him, and for my newer friends who have finally witnessed my full-on crazy love zone for this band. I hope I have't frightened them to the point of giving me a wide berth.

Anywho, for this go-round my Missouri bud, Leslie flew out for the Pittsburgh/Cleveland dates. Leslie has been here before, but not in the warmer climes. The weather was gorgeous. The only exception being the evening rain of the Pittsburgh show. Even that was a welcomed relief after a sweaty concert of dancing and scream-singing.

When she arrived, we dropped off her luggage and headed to town for lunch, the Warhol Museum and a walk on the picturesque North Shore. It was perfect. Even the sprinkling of raindrops conveniently coincided with Happy Hour.


lunch on the patio of Marty's Market

north shore selfie

warhol pillows shot on the sly

one gorgeous-ass day

resting in the lap of a excessively creepy Fred Rodgers
his face will haunt you in your dreams

encountering the baby goslings
or as i call them, the Shitters

these babies have no fear

photo from above image

"Hey, hey we're the Shitters…"

Jumping ahead, Cleveland was surprisingly lovely! And much bigger than I imagined. Being a Burgher, we have instilled in us a life-long hatred for all things Cleveland. As local-comedian-made-big (no pun intended, you know, because of his ample stature), Billy Gardel says, "We hate them for spite!" It's futile to try to rationalize the reciprocal loathing. It's just easier to accept it and realize the animosity will live on in perpetuity, not unlike the Arab/Israeli conflict. It just.. is.

But I digress…

We stayed across from Progressive Field, home of the Indians baseball club in a decidedly cleaned up area near Playhouse Square, trendy eateries and the scenic Lake Shore area featuring the Browns stadium (BOO, infinity! See, there's that crazy hatred again), the Science Center and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Noreen joined us and played tour guide for the afternoon.

at our hotel

waiting for grub at the house of blues

you knew this had to happen somewhere along the way

my love for big ass stuff continues

FREEdom… revoked

412 representin' in the 216

we played a little Old 97's game
finding references to their songs on our travels
these guys are all over Cleveland
(4 Leaf Clover)

"do you want to meet up at the Pickwick Bowl…"
okay, it's really PickWOOD Bowl, but close enough
shut up. our game. our rules

this fan was all-too happy to oblige

war memorial 

detail of the war memorial

public ahrt selfie avec buttocks

rock and roll hall of fame on the lake

science center, windmill and asshat stadium

But enough of the sights, let's get to the raison d'ĂȘtre… the concerts.

mike sauter taking on the interview duties
(love the vibrant sneakers)
many thanks to Gary D for the professional photos

My friend, Abby is the GM for our public radio station, WYEP. She used to work in Texas and has known the Old 97's for a long time. She was instrumental in getting them to do an in-studio for members only the morning of the show at Mr. Small's. That meant they would have to bust ass from New York City to make it on time. New York shows are always big events with lots of notable people in the audience and I suspect gatherings backstage that run late into the night. Both Murry and Rhett were visibly tired from the journey, but you couldn't tell it from the interview. They were their ever-charming selves, telling anecdotes, sharing backstory and singing songs as if they weren't dead on their feet. God bless their exhausted hearts.

There was one tense moment after he broke a string during the first song, Longer Than You've Been Alive in which neither Rhett nor tour manager, Mike Dalke could find a comparable string in their packs to replace it. But being the consummate professional, Rhett soldiered on and continued with the interview and performance in glorious fashion. Honestly, you couldn't tell anything was missing. It sounded fantastic in the back where we were dancing and singing. He even joked about his five-string guitar towards the end of the interview.

can you spot the missing string

an unguarded moment
so cute

You can listen to the entire interview here.

And then they were sweet enough to take the time to do this.


We left before we overstayed our welcome, which I have a bad habit of doing. On the way to the car, we ran into the guitarist, Ken in big ole shorts and cap, toting a mesh bag of clean laundry looking rather pedestrian and not at all like the rock and roller he is.  After a coffee run, a couple hilarious tour tales and a trip to the magic shop for a book on card tricks (seriously. who knew.), we drove him back to the venue.  I swear to the Baby Jesus there was a point in the journey where he thought we were taking him to a dark alley or something equally untoward.

So, let's recap the amazing people who have sat in my little red Vibe(ator):

Francis Dunnery
YA author extraordinaire, John Green
Murry Hammond
Ken Bethea

Now if Rhett, Philip Peebles, Wesley Stace or OHMIEFFINGGOD PAUL RUDD ever took a spin in Rita, I would never EVER be able to sell it. I should start a Tumblr: Famous Asses Who've Been Inside Rita. No doubt the Pornbots would be all over that bad boy.

Meanwhile, back at the concert…

guitar fight during
can't get a line

it's become an unspoken competition among fans to
capture rhett's rock jumps during Time Bomb
Leslie succeeded nicely

until tomorrow...

Mr. Small's was packed with fans and soon-to-be fans revved to hear the new album live. There definitely was a palatable hum of excitement. Okay, maybe that was just our camp of devotees, but I doubt it. They started that 97's engine rolling with If My Heart Was a Car, a song usually reserved for the set closer, delivered at full-throtle.

(this is the opener from the Cleveland show, but same intensity…different night)

Holy HELL!! What a way to open a show!

And it just went feverishly on from there, particularly in Cleveland, which I'm a little bitter about. (Please refer to the aforementioned utter hatred. At least I was there to witness the awesome.) The setlist for both evenings was sprinkled with some quieter moments like Busted Afternoon, Bird in a Cage and of course Question, providing a needed breather. I mean, c'mon. Even a super human needs to catch his breath for a minute or three.

These back-to-back shows were two of the best I've seen. This new album and it's honest take on life, longing and lingering regret wrapped in a balls-to-the-wall sound has reinvigorated them and given them a license to cut the fuck loose! I have never seen a mediocre show from them EVER, but on this tour they are the very definition of hard-charging. They're performing at an astronomically higher level. They're like freaking 20 somethings up there only with better clothes, better gear and a better sense of self.

And ohmygodjesus are these new songs fun to sing!! They're fuckin' cathartic! They have tapped into my love of the f-bomb in a big way. The energy is incredible.

In Pittsburgh, we were treated to The Disconnect (so excited this made the list. love this one on so many levels, but it makes me want to hug his head), Guadalajara (best opening line in a song, a great story and ridiculously catchy), Most Messed Up (talk about f-bomb therapy) and punky Clash cover, Career Opportunities.

(via my friend, Noreen)

The set closer for this entire tour is 4 Leaf Clover with the Exene Cervenka part sung by opening act, Lydia Loveless, a wee ginger with a fair amount of punch in her voice, but her minimalistic movements were no match for their frenetic energy.

PS: her skirt made me more than a little nervous.

As great as the Pittsburgh show was, Cleveland was in a category all its own. Again, a little bitter. Every song had so much more depth, especially Longer Than You've Been Alive. Rhett gave the most impassioned performance yet. It built to an roof-busting crescendo. I was truly blown away. I spoke to Murry afterwards and he said they were tired, looser and just went for it that night. It showed. Their performance was inspired.

Of the new songs, Nashville (which continues to win me over with its cow punk rhythm) was outstanding! This is the Ballad had a discernible punch-in-the-gut feel. Give it Time (another highlight) was charging both nights. One of the many tunes on constant repeat in both Geo's and my car, Wheels Off was uber fun to sing, even if it had to be a bit restrained in order to tape it for Geo. But the biggest surprise was Intervention right out of the encore gate. If you listen closely, you can hear Leslie and me scream, "Fuck y'all! HELL NOOOOO!"

"Somebody kick him in sack just to stop his bitchin'!" remains the crowned king for funniest lyric penned.

They're still working out the outro, but I have every confidence it will kick ass in July when Tommy Stinson joins them for the beach shows. What has two thumbs and is going to Dewey Beach to see her heroes… This girl!!

Usually I dread the first chords of Time Bomb because I'm never ready for the 97's train to pull into the station (are you sick of train metaphors yet), but this time I was completely sated. The perfect topper to this two-day musical sundae was getting a chance to visit with each of these fabulous Texas men afterwards, including the infrequently sighted Sasquatch of the 97's, Philip, to tell them how much their talents save my soul. I kid with people and tell them Old 97's concerts are my church, but therein lies a truth. The world becomes much lighter after their particular brand of sermon is over.

graffiti covered backstage wall in Cleveland

rhett really needs to stop phoning it in
i swear one day he's going to burst that vein in his neck

i've got issues...


Streets of Where I'm From
Dance With Me
Busted Afternoon
Ex of All You See
Bird in a Cage
The Disconnect 
Iron Road
Every Night Is Friday Night
Up the Devil's Pay
Give it Time
Barrier Reef
Roller Skate Skinny
Can't Get a Line
Big Brown Eyes
Let's Get Drunk and Get it On
4 Leaf Clover (with Lydia Loveless)
Most Messed Up
Career Opportunities
Time Bomb


Dance With Me
Ex of All You See
This is the Ballad
Iron Road
Every Night is Friday Night
W. Texas Teardrops
Wheels Off
Barrier Reef
Give it Time
New Kid (for Norah)
Can't Get a Line
Big Brown Eyes
Let's Get Drunk
4 Leaf (w/Lydia)
Murder or a Heart Attack
Time Bomb

Side note: a very nice blonde woman was standing next to me at Mr. Small's. Unfortunately for her, I kept accidentally bumping her in my gleeful dance stupor. Her name was Doreen. Yes. THAT Doreen from the song of the same name. No shit!

Additional Side Note: An 8 y-o named Norah was at the Cleveland show. She had sung New Kid for her Rock School. Rhett dedicated the song to her. It was really sweet. She was singing along, he was singing to her. But, seriously, why. WHY would you bring your child knowing the evening will be expletive heavy. This is NOT your child's tour, people!!

Additional Side Note 2: We could not look at Lydia Loveless' bass player with out thinking Will Farrell. Go ahead. Try not to think of Will Farrell.