Sunday, April 25, 2004

Night in Memphis

Heartbreak Hotel... Graceland... To Be Filled In


Saturday, April 24, 2004

New Orleans Jazz Festival

I'm in New Orleans... I'm finally here! Everyone used to say come to town, you'll love it, but its completely insane... I'll write more when I get the chance. Get your asses down here! Its been nothin' but jazzy and funky! There are so many people to meet, food to eat and music to see... I don't want to go home! If I do, it'll be to unload the car and come right back down here!


NOLA Jazz Fest Day 2

Seen: Astral Project, Branford Marsalis, Lenny Kravitz, Charlie Hunter, & North Mississippi AllStars Special Company and Special Guests.

After a few hours of down time (much needed), I went down to the courtyard at the Hostile to see what other visitors in New Orleans are up to during their vacations or excursions in Crescent City. Though the make up of an International Hostile can vary in age as great as the spans from which they travelled, today I found it young and lively. There were a handful of Americans in for the Jazz & Heritage Festival, but there were even more foreigners off to check out the French Quarter to Bourbon St. Little did they know they were missing out on. New Orleans'reputation for providing a great night of drunken debauchery has paid off long after Mardi Gras.
I'm gonna fast forward to Charlie Hunter's show at this tiny lil place called The Mermaid. It was the first night of a 4 day stand there... it started raining outside, but I didn't care. I'd convinced a couple of people to come out to the show with me. This chap from Scotland and Sherilyn from California. As cool as the show was, I was happy to get out of there cause it was stuffy, the sound sucked and they were going to clear the room for the next show anyway... so we adjourned to the backyard (bigger than the bar)... there was a bar out there too.
I should write more, but first I have to say that I met a very nice gal from Long Beach who is a nurse and she surfs... and at some point I really would like to start writing to her on a regular basis. We have much in common, though she probably is more polite in a political conversation and far smarter than I am.


Friday, April 23, 2004

NOLA J&H Fest Opening Day

Alot of Douglas Mason's photos are on the Jazz Festival Website!
When I saw the Old Zion Baptist Baptist Church Choir I thought "who needs a church organ when you got pipes like that?!" Honestly, I'd probably still be attending services on Sundays if I knew I was going to get this kind of religion! Anyway, the Gospel Tent was kickin... it did seem that most of the people watching the performance that first show on the first day were probably from their home town. Anyway, they were the first band that played the first day of Jazz fest!
I was going to write notes, but I was either too busy eating boiled & spiced crawfish or breusille or soft shell crab po' boys or mango icecream or listening to music or hacky sacking... that I just didn't care to take notes... in fact... in my notes I wrote "Notes suck!" and then there is a big ol' blobb of sauce from somethin' I was eatin'.
The best thing I saw at jazz fest by far was "The Woodshed: Terrance Higgins vs. Stanton Moore"
It was one of those shoulda been battles of two amazing drummers Terrance from the Dirty Dozen and Stanton from Galactic. Though I was a bit troubled by the local coverage of this meeting of the percussive minds. Under Stanton Moore's bio in Off Beat Magazine (the NOLA Jazz Guide) they rambled on and on about how good Stanton! Under Terrance's bio it read: Terrance Higgins will be teaming up with Stanton Moore, Galactic's powerhouse master of the industrial funk! I mean, come on?!?! Wait, Stanton... did your mom write this?

I was at Poncho Sanchez for a little while before heading over to see "The Trio" with Yamagashi, George Porter Jr., & Johnny Vidocovich. I really kind of expected them to be a little more funky and hard hitting.
Theryl checked himself out of the hospital to play with Galactic at Jazz Fest (THE BIG GIG)... so its pretty clear that he's ready to die for his art. And as noble as that sounds I'd prefer him to get better. I think the crowd and his bandmates have made that point rather clear. We all want you healthy... keep that satin sandpaper voice above ground, Theryl!
Later that night I hit Dr. John and the late late night show with The Dirty Dozen & Rebirth Brass Bands... There's more too... I'm just a lil too swiss cheesed to remember everything at the moment!

Bands, Gospel Tent, Jazz Tent, Galactic... Theryl Returns... Dr John... Dirty Dozen & Rebirth Brass Band


Rules of the Fest

1. Eat what you want. You will NOT be served bad food... its an impossibility!
2. Share with your buddy... there's more than enough to go around!
3. Go to whatever tent you want. You WILL see good music.
4. Remember to drink lots of water on the fairgrounds... or barring that other refreshments are available... like beer!
5. Feel free to wear really bright and loud colors... pretend you're gonna see Jimmy Buffet! There ya go!
6. You CAN bring your camera, but you can't tape the bands!
7. If you can't do it in your hometown festival... you shouldn't try it here... and if you do, you might get some schwag festival beads and a ticket.

These are the rules as spoken by Officer Lawless... yeah, that really is his name.
And let the jokes begin!


Thursday, April 22, 2004

Galactic @ Tips

I showed up at the venue early. It wasn't more than two turns to the venue from the hostile. I'd got there in time to pick up a little bit of promotional material from Tipitina's booking agent, Adam Shipley. He's kinda got the job that I'd love to have... booking agent at a wildly popular club in the city that often been refered to as the home of the funk.
What I heard from him threw me for a loop. It turns out that Theryl almost played himself to death. After he got off stage looking like a champ he walked back stage and almost died. He had trouble breathing and chest pains. I'm not going to get into all of the details, but they took him quietly to the hospital where he sat and waited to see a doctor.
He would not likely be appearing with New Orleans at Tips tonight... he'd played his heart out... litterally.
I'm a little bit of a sap... but I had to get a get well card for him. Everyone signed it... when the first card was run outta room a second one was filled on every side! Everyone loves the Houseman... the man is made of steel. I've said it before and I'll say it again... he'll be ok.

By showtime the room was PACKED! Galactic was rocked it out and kept it funky. There were a couple of special guests who more than made up for the lack of the Houseman. I was stoked to see Skerik on stage. The last time I saw him was at Bonnaroo with Garage a Trois! As sax players go, he is a linguist, a conversationalist and he is into the call and response... he's young, but one of my favs.

Later on that night we went over to Chilot a block away and partied it up until the dawn... I made my way back to the hostile to crash... I needed at least 2 hours of shut eye before the first day of NOLA Jazz & Heritage Festival!


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Houseman's Lounge Last time I saw Theryl DeClouet was just after he got back from Japan. His band, Galactic, toured the country. He said he loved it. He enjoyed some fine company from a young girl from Florida and he said it was a good time... which I think is Houseman's way of saying he had a blast without getting too excited over it. Then again, I had to say that he'd lost a significant amount of weight and his skin color was off a bit from how I remembered it.
My suspicions were confirmed when I found out on my arrival to New Orleans that Theryl's diabetes had been acting up a bit, and that on a regularly scheduled visit to the doctor he was told that he had serious clotting of the vital pulmonary artery and that he had surgery just days prior to his scheduled performance at Tipitina's. My first instinct was to run over to whatever hospital he was at and see if there was anything I could do to help. I was told that he'd already checked out and was in recovery... what was more unusual is that the show for tonight was still going on!

That's right... just days after a major surgery... Theryl, who'd missed 4 shows with Galactic on the road has made a commitment to these two what many consider the two most IMPORTANT weeks of the year for Jazz musicians!

Houseman's Lounge features: Featuring Theryl DeClouet With Special Guests Ivan Neville, June Yamagishi, Raymond Weber, Thadeus Richard, Sherman, Russell Baptiste Jr. & more.

From the first notes of the show I knew this was going to be hot. The crowd was bumpin' "Where da houseman at?"! The band was hot... and then Houseman came up on stage and it hit me... he shouldn't be here... he looked aweful. He might have needed a couple of more days of R&R. I felt bad... I shouldn't have expected him to play an amazing show just because its my first time in New Orleans or that I drove 12+ hours straight from Florida just to be here... but then he opened his mouth and began to sing. I have to say i was probably one of the most empassioned performances I think I've seen out of anyone healthy or otherwise!

I kept watching him and every once in a while as he turned towards the drums I caught a little glimpse in his eye... something that definitely wasn't pleasure... rather a look I've seen all too many times... a cross between exhaustion and pain. It was hard to pay attention exclusively to Houseman the entire night. He was the featured artist, but was surrounded by major talent. Each of his guests were famous in their own right... plus I wound up dancin' real close with a couple of southern bells... so I was certainly distracted for a while.

Theryl left the stage about 2/3rds of the way through the set only to come back onstage shortly thereafter... seemingly refreshed. I thought nothing of it. I stepped outside Tips for a breath of fresh air and wound up talking to the bouncer for a bit... though he wasn't exactly the bouncer! His name is Joe Cool and you might better know him as a preacher, but even better yet, you'd know him as a vocalist. He introduces the bands at Tips and makes sure that things run smoothly. As a diabetic himself, he knew precisely what was going on. He wanted to take Theryl off stage and give him a breather.

If there was one guy I was bummed not to have talked to more this weekend... it was Joe Cool... the guy that can make church fun! I'd met alot of people that night... some due to introductions from music professionals from New Orleans who I'd met years earlier and others from just random friendly banter. One person who randomly crossed my path an exorbanant number of times was Douglas Mason, an excellent photographer who was in shooting the Festival for the weekend. Also a couple from Oregon whose names were easy to remember as they were Chris and Chrissy. There was a bartender from St. Louis named Scott and his crew. John, an orthopedic doctor, from Australia... etc... etc... etc...

I was dead tired after the show which ran late into the morning. I wound up sleeping in my car next to a park by Tulane for a few hours before trying to navigate the city. As the sun rose the car got kinda hot so I decided that I might get some sleep in the park... however to my dismay joggers had taken it over. It seemed so pleasant and quiet at night and it was such a contrast to turn into a percussive statement of Nike, Adidas and New Balance in the evening. As I was trying to find the Best Western, I asked for assistance from this woman April who happened to work at the International Hostile! What a better way for a first trip to NOLA! I've always liked and lived in cooperatives and hostiles and the like! I didn't explore the hostile too long before crashing like a lead weight on to the bunk bed. I woke up just in time for sunset!


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Bonnaroo Update Spoiler

The kids over at Bonnaroo will be announcing additional artists to the line up for this year's event. Here's a lil sneak spoiler from Stewsday to help you figure out when to look forward to what at which stage or that tent or whatever...

Fri 06/11/04
Ani DiFranco, Blue Merle, Bob Dylan, Burning Spear, Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud, Cracker, Danger Mouse, Dave Matthews, Erin McKowen, Gillian Welch, Guster, Leftover Salmon, Los Lonely Boys, Neko Case, Nellie McKay, Patti Smith, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Radiators, The String Cheese Incident, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, Tony Hall, Trey Anastasio, Vida Blue, Wilco, X-ecutioners, Yonder Mountain String Band,

Sat 06/12/04
Addison Groove Project, Bill Laswell, Erin McKeown, Galactic, Gov't Mule, Kings of Leon, Los Lobos, Louque, Mindy Smith, My Morning Jacket, Patti Smith, Primus, Rachael Yamagata, Robert Earl Keen, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Sam Bush, The Dead, The Del McCoury Band, The Hackensaw Boys, The String Cheese Incident, Ween, Willie Nelson

Sun 06/13/04 "Bonnaroo Music Festival" Day of Funk!!!
SOULIVE, Antigone Rising, Bill Laswell, Burning Spear, Erin McKeown, Femi Kuti, Guster, Marc Broussard, Marc Ribot, Maroon 5, Medeski Martin and Wood, did I mention SOULIVE?, Taj Mahal, The Bad Plus, The String Cheese Incident, Trey Anastasio, Umphrey's McGee


Monday, April 19, 2004

As a family... my father, my mother and her three sisters, their husbands, my brother and myself took a little excursion into Big Cypress & the Everglades. I took a roll of pictures of the wild life. I probably would have shot more, but I think I was just happy enough soakin' up the rays of the Florida sun as anything and listening to my mom freak out everytime a gator appeared on the horizon was a gas. I got in really close to a few of them. You should have heard my mom scream. Yes, I do know gators are predators... and yes, they probably looked at my lens and thought "supper," but I also know that most of the time Alligators are just trying to maintain a 72 degree F body temperature simply to carry out normal body functions like breathing and digestion, so I kinda figured that on this day... warm for me, cold for them... I'd take my chances.
And what if they got me? I've had a good run.


Sunday, April 18, 2004

Naples FL

A month has passed since my P's went off to Florida for a much needed month long vacation. I came out here to celebrate my mom's B-day. Phil, my older brother, and Valqueria, my brother's long time girlfriend, also flew out for the event. I've had a great time here in the last couple of days. We've done alot. The best part of the weekend was earlier today when my brother, Val, my mom & I went fishing. Our intentions were to go deep sea / sport fishing, but we wound up sticking to the harbor areas due time constraints.
My mom, the acclaimed non fisher, caught more fish than the rest of us combined. I guess the fish just wanted to take her bait. Unfortunately, we weren't able to keep any of them for supper. On the way home, to avert feeling like total failures, we stopped at Jerry's Fish Market (supposedly the best fresh fish in Naples) and had the butcher throw some fish at us so we could say that we caught it.
I'm not going to fly back to Chicago... I'm going to drive back my Dad's car for him... its a 21-27 hour drive. During my return, I plan to hit up New Orleans and St. Louis. It should be fun. I'm going to hang with Galactic at their home club Tipitina's... actually its gonna be kind of a special guests night... I'm really looking forward to this. If anyone has any recommendations of things to do on my way back let me know... I'm going to have to break up the monotony of the drive somehow!


Saturday, April 10, 2004

Squarepusher, Cassette Boy, Jonny J & some horrible DJ

Square Pusher played a late night set at the Metro. The show didn't really officially begin until 11:30pm and it went until 4am. The first artist up was some horrible spinner that didn't hold their own very well. People in the audience were clapping to get him off stage. There was a good contigent of people who left the main stage area, retreating to the basement spinner area... mind you that was not a safe zone from bad music either, but it was the lesser of two evils.
It wasn't that the first spinner on the bill sucked... ok, maybe he did... but what really was dismal about his set was that he spun scratch music that he wasn't scratching and played the headliner's disk as is... I mean, there's nothing worse than having to sit through a set of uninspired crap and then listen to a track that sounds better in the company of your own home stereo system. No one seemed to know this kid's name, and maybe he's all the better for it, but the audience was not. By the faces in the crowd you know this guy didn't play a note that encouraged the crowd to dance or even bob their heads... even in amusement of how bad it was.
A special thanks to whomever cut his set off... and jears for letting him back on the stage after the Cassette Boy set! Did they actually think this guy was going to do better his second time out? All I know is the bar probably did better business because after his set we all needed a good stiff drink... again, I was disappointed, but you don't go to the Metro for drinks... you go there for music.
Cassette Boy's set was a comedy sketch. It played well to both the high and low brows. Two artists came out on stage adorning masks of George W. Bush and Tony Blair. Tapes were spliced together to make the two say what we've all thought... that they've been holding the truth from us... but then they dilineated from that, pandering to the lowest common denominators of humor... that of the fuck joke. Though watching Blair give head to Bush's inflated phallis, was humorous, it did make me wonder if W. is overcompensating for something... hmmmm... The soundtrack cut into parts of the Harry Potter trilogy which probably plays better to British audiences. It went back and forth like that for a while. Eventually, the splicing cut into Michael Jackson too. That target is about as easy to hit as the broad side of a barn... still, it was funny.
After their set wrapped up the horrible DJ kid came back on stage... blah.
The crowd was pretty restless from this guy. As I walked back towards the bar all I heard were subtle disses. His set again lasted far too long. All I can say to this guy is practice, practice, practice... and I don't want to see you again until you've improved 500%!
The unexpected highlight of the evening was a beatboxer. I believe his name was Jonny J and he took the stage and stole the show! He awed the crowd with his vocal percussive talent and on stage presence for roughly 45 minutes. It was sweet. I would have preferred to have seen him play and lose the first guy all together, but that wasn't in the cards.
Finally, Squarepusher came out on stage... Cunningham mixed it up between drum 'n bass work and his own natural talent. I guess I thought it'd be more funky than it was, but the beats were there, but by 2:30 in the morning a portion of the crowd was waining. There were some hardcore Squarepusher fans in the audience who were goin' nuts. I suppose because I'm not as familiar with the artist that I didn't get into him as much as other, but he put on a good show. He pounded his fist in the air to which the crowd responded with hoops and hollars. He played something around a 90 minute set. I'd heard alot of talk about his talents as a bass guitarist. His bass guitar lines were decent, but no where near the caliber of a Victor Wooten, a Marcus Miller or even a Flee... not even in the same ballpark.
Speaking of bass players, the new bassist for 1000 Vertical Feet (another drums and bass project), Todd Hill was in attendence. Todd and I go way back, and if there is anyone who's consistently blown me away on the double bass and bass guitar it is him. I believe we shared a common sentiment about Squarepusher's ability on bass, but there was no denying what he did to the bass lines after he played them. By using his toybox complete with footpedals and rack effects he opened up the sound to fill the audible octaves. He did precisely and effectively and got the crowd into it! I was definitely impressed by his mixing skills, and wouldn't mind hearing some more of his studio recordings. I'm glad to have seen what many people are refering to as the future of drum 'n bass.


Sunday, April 04, 2004

Last weekend was a blast! I drove up to Madison to hang out and see Buckethead play with Particle at Luther's Blues! By the time we got to the venue we'd missed Buckethead. For the first time as long as I can remember the show actually started when it was supposed to! Buckethead started exactly at 9:30pm and ended at 10:30pm sharp to my disappointment. Whatever, I was havin' a blast chillin' with Strizza & Konkol.
Particle isn't exactly the funky stuff that I usually groove on and so for a change I got to take in a bit of that live drum 'n bass driving beats kind of music. In the narrow part of the genre, STS9 is the #1 draw and Particle is #2. Other bands in the genre making their way up include 1000 Vertical Feet and Lotus.
The big news is that Luther's Blues became an open venue... which means any a good promoter can go there and put on a show! Also it means that bands who think they can make the cheddar can do it themselves and retain a greater portion of their profits!
Anyway, I finally got back in touch with one of my good old friends, Moona! We used to be like peas and carrots until I moved away from the city. So I got to take her out for a little birthday dinner treat. We went to Takara for Sushi and Sashimi! Later we went to the Public House (my first time there) where we had a couple of drinks and I got to see Melanie, Jeff, Justine and Spud... I felt like I never left! :)
I was totally happy for Melanie and Jeff! She got a new job. They closed on a new house and set a date for their wedding (August 21st)!
Happy Birthday Moona!

Picture of Tim Griffin... at the Old Town Ale House on his B-Day 3/21/04 & Franklin from the day before St. Patty's Day 2004