Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Spare Time

Ok, this summer has been pretty fun for me. I get to meet up with Chris Friday and Jamie Masefield this weekend a couple of times in Chicago and in Madison! We're throwing a party in Madison in case you're interested give me a call and I'll let you know the details. And yes, Fishman will be on the tour!
Speaking of tour... I hit a lil bit of Phish tour last weekend and saw the final two performances at Alpine Valley. It was awesome and I'm really glad I saw them play for the first time this millenium.
There were strange miracles afoot. People gypsy cursed themselves by wishing for tickets they'd say "I wish I could get a ticket and I don't care what happens, I gotta get in!"
For example, Bill said uttered this simple phrase and moments later was bit by a huge mastiff/rotweiller mix. I took him to the med tent. When we got in and dressed his wound they let us exit the tent into the show... so it was a miracle. Bill was a lil wasted so he didn't even feel his arm at all. Its strange how things look like they're going to be the wrong road but it turns out that it couldn't have been any better. His superficial shoulder would is healing nicely. He is foaming at the mouth from time to time, but no more often than usual for Bill.
On another note, I went bought a ticket through Ticket Master and they didn't have my lawn ticket for Saturday night. When I went up to will call they gave me the run around and tried to send me on my way. I kept getting back in line and asking questions... finally the third time back in line... this totally awesome random stranger behind the glass (NOT AFFILIATED WITH TICKET MASTER... HE WORKED FOR PHISH) kicked me down a ticket... and it wasn't for the lawn either... it was for the Pavillion. He asked me why I was still there and I used the most powerful word mojo I could think of the line that clinched it for me was "Hope Dies Last." On that note a special thanks to Studs Terkel for making that the title of his most recent book.
On a third semi related story, last night I met up with a couple of kids who went to the Cubs game. They spent a bunch of money for GA tickets. They later found out their tix were for standing room only, but they managed to find seats almost directly behind the catcher!
I know I shouldn't bank on them, I try to remember when the fates smile on us and be thankful!

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Lollapalooza Canceled

Morrissey, Sonic Youth, The Flaming Lips, The String Cheese Incident, Modest Mouse, The Polyphonic Spree, Spearhead, Wilco & many others were added to the Lollapalooza bill... and as you most likely have already heard, they cancelled the show siting poor ticket sales.
What has changed since Lollapalooza was rockin' across the country? Lets take a look at a couple of the controlling factors. First, lets look at the demographics of the crowd that would be drawn to this show.
While Morrissey, Sonic Youth and Modest Mouse will grab more of the indie rock crowd. Its a strong showing similar to the bill at Cochella Music Festival which experienced a large turnout. And here's the thing...
As long as there are major 3 day festivals in bicoastally that are stealing the draw for the summer than the receipts are going to be lower. Ok, now be it amiss for me to mention this, but its been my experience that the "jamband scene" is going after the same # of customers... the Dead saw a decline of their numbers when Phish got big. Then when Phish went on hiatus String Cheese saw an improvement in their numbers.
Phish is currently on their last tour... Could it be that the inverse is also true?
If String Cheese is touring on a festival bill while Phish is on tour then their receipts will be lower... plus its not exclusively a jam oriented show... its a diverse mix, so the interest is lowered from the perspective of someone who really likes the Cheese, but couldn't care less for Sonic Youth et al.
Because Phish and the other festivals and tours are competing for the same dollars Lollapalooza was bound to suffer. Basically, this is a simple economic analysis... there are surely other factors. Its not the "industry," as much as its the competition for limited dollars from music patrons. Why spend $50 to see a couple of bands you're interested in when you can pay $150 to see 100 bands in a weekend?
Answer this question... and you have yourself a winning festival. What separates this festival from the rest. If memory serves right, the last HORDE tour (the festival that launched Phish, Blues Traveller etc...) receipts lagged in its final year. I wonder what the explaination was there? Anyone have John Popper's phone number, cause he and Perry Ferrell should get together and have a pow-wow.

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Monday, June 21, 2004

FiRE DEPT

The coals have been stoked for a while SOULIVE'S return to Chicago. Of course, they were my favorite undiscovered band of 1998... and now the secret is out. Soulive has been across the states, Europe, Asia and soon to be South America.
Anyway, I think I'm hooked on the guitarist's playing. Kraz set up "FIRE DEPT" with Adam Dietch and a crew of hip hop musicians... here's a clip of what they're doing
http://www.justberecords.com/video.php?id=17
I guess I'd have to make the Fire Dept. one of my favorite projects of 2004.
I make no apology for the bad recording... but if you want more you can go to Soulive's website and to their BEATS page where they have some studio recordings. Eventually they will have an album out... eventually...
The core of Soulive played in the Bonnaroo Superjam last week with Maceo Parker... excellent!

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Friday, June 18, 2004

PHiSH

I used to be a huge Phish head. I've seen over a hundred shows easy... and I haven't seen them play at all this millenium. I was the kind of phishead that went to the Hood Milk factory because of the song. Hell, I even had a radio show based around the guys. The last concert I went to was in Wisconsin in '99. My first show was at a club in Chicago... Biddy Mulligans. I remember very little about that first show except that it was really crowded. I was required to sit on a barstool for the night because I was so totally underage. They played a song that I mistakenly thought was Tuesday Freebird (Suzi G.) so I went about my week at school singing to myself that tuesday freebird line (ha).
Now, they've decided to break up... and this for me is mixed. As a group they peaked in the mid-late 90s and the groove that first touched me like no other faded to new artists. They opened up a world of music which I'm eternally grateful for. Without Phish, I'd never have done the things I did through college, booking bands and promoting shows... I would not have met the same colorful characters... loved some of the same people... or missed them still to this day.
For instance, I would never have gone to meet up with Pippi in PA, and then I would have never have met Gabe Jarrett and Jamie Masefield at the Villanova Jazz Fest. I would never have booked their first national tour. And I wouldn't have gotten involved in booking locally... and I wouldn't have met up with the Madison House kids. I wouldn't have worked with the Cheese. Its funny to think about how much of my youth was connected to Phish and now that they're breaking up I wonder of a world without them. I wouldn't have met Ken Kesey, Ray Charles or so many others... I mean, it couldn't have worked out any other way,could it? Where and who would I be without them?
Phish officially kicked off their "final tour" with the Brooklyn show last night. Two gals had already convinced me to check out Phish again on this tour, before the news... and you two... who are currently on tour and might never read this... thank you. I've got a ticket for coventry coming... and on this summer tour... Alpine Valley and Deer Creek. There are alot of songs which I haven't heard Phish perform live since my hiatus from Phish.
Now that I'm going back, I hope to hear: Brother, Landlady, Harry Hood, Buried Alive, Destiny Unbound, Fluffhead, Sloth, Tube, & Amazing Grace... songs that I have heard long ago... Phish wove fun stories in their music. My life story has intertwined with them... they are some of the background music that makes up my teenage years to the midtwenties. I've dreamt about seeing the cast of my story... Christina, Suzi, Cheryl, Moacir, Marc, Graham, Sarah, Terry, Fritch, Erik, Crain. I always expected to run into them one random day in the lot, but so much time has passed and so many people have moved and changed phone #s and email addresses... and as much as I'd like to hold on and be in contact... I let some of them go. I am so happy about what has happened for me through Phish, most of all the friends I'd made and kept... Phish allowed a common united bond through their music.
We're all still here, as far as I know... and my dreams of rendevous will have their settings change.
Now I just have to find the Helping Friendly Phone Book.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Bonnaroo

What a great way to spend a birthday weekend!
So, a year older and just happy to have a few friends about me in a crowd of 150,000.
With the number of people in attendence, Bonnaroo was actually the fifth largest city in Tennessee!
I had a personal moment of silence for Ray Charles who passed away. I was a bit suprised that not more bands paid and played tribute to him. I once met him at the Birmingham City Stages in Alabama. For a second, I could have sworn he looked right at me.

I went to alot of shows. I'm a bit bummed that I stayed at the tent site so late. I missed some good bands and I didn't follow my plan. I was a bit laxidazical getting out of the campsite... we were moving during Los Lonely Boys. The next day I only really woke up after Los Lobos started.
The rain came when it was needed and stayed on its own terms until it brought forth miles of mud for us to tredge through. It didn't bother me or let myself get bothered with it at all... I know how to walk through it (there is a trick to it).

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Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Saga Continues from 6/1

I drove back from New York through some pretty rough weather. It was traffic and storms the entire way with the exception of a small sliver of moonlight that seemed to creep through the clouds somewhere between Western Pennsilvania & Eastern Ohio. I made into work and signed some papers and took care of some formalities before I got the news that my brother's flight from Bogata Colombia had touched down at O'hare Int'l Airport.
If you've had the pleasure of knowing my big brother, well... I'm not going to blow smoke up where the sun don't shine. He reads this blog occasionally, so lets just say he's an great journalist worthy of his position. Colombia is no easy assignment with all the warring factions and innocent families caught in the crossfire its easy to see why anyone with half a heart would like to move somewhere a bit more pleasant. I mean, how much can any of us take of that?! My brother was just offered such a chance. His company, Reuters News Service (the world's largest news organization) has extended the position of writer to my brother in Rome, Italy. This offer was accepted and they will be leaving at the end of July.
This has nothing to do with why he is town. He's here for a bit of cosmetic dentistry. Evidently, the compitent sterile surgical practices of the United States are hard to find or trust in a wartorn third world country like Colombia. Anyway, I was glad to have him in town, cause he's pretty fun to hang out with. His best friend from his childhood, Joaquin, was performing a one man show at a place called the Playground which my brother told me was around the Music Box. We found a place called the Schoolyard, but Joaquin wasn't there. A bit saddenend by the missed his performance we carried on to Schuba's Bar & Tavern to see Mofro & The Benevento-Russo Duo.
Brian "Broncho" Aiello hooked me up with tickets for the night, a magnanimous gesture. I'm sure I'll get him back one of these days. My buddy Matt was working the door. Schubas is kind of my home club. When I was a lil underage (I'm not really admitting this) I used to come here to see music in the back room. I saw all sorts of bands play here, bands that fill ampitheatres now. It was a great place to learn the biz from and it holds alot of memories. It was the first room I ever booked a show into with Jazz Mandolin Project... but I digress.
Just as the nostalgia was wearing off, Nadia Prescher breezes by. I've always had great respect for her work in the music business as a booking agent and in general as a person. I haven't seen her for a long time. 4 years later and she looks great... four and a half months pregnant and great. She married Jeremy Stein, who booked the Opera House in CO and was a photographer. I remember sitting outside the Barrymore with him for hours just going over pictures as he was telling me (and rightly so) how the Cheese were going to be huge; what he liked in the composition about different pictures he'd shot of various performers; what he was looking for. Now he's a partner of Madison House Inc. String Cheese's Management which appears to be fairly well vertically integrated into the music scene in production, distribution and exhibition in both the live music format, merchandise, & CDs. Shortly thereafter, Jesse (another Madison House Partner) filled me in some more of whats new for their biz.
Its funny... I have a trip scheduled to Boulder... now I have more people to visit and one more thing to do before the end of July. My brother enjoyed himself checking out the show, but he was clearly a little bit tired (partially due to the procedure from the morning). Is it possible reunions are only really cool for the people involved in them? And that to everyone else... they're just another body in a crowded bar in between them and the band they paid to see? I make it sound like I wasn't groovin' to the show at all... and nothing could be farther from the truth. It was solid for both bands all the way through. The Duo's set was dangerously close to experimental... it still rocked. They definitely weren't playing the frat-love set. The highlights of the Mofro show was the encore when Marco Benevento got on stage with Mofro and rocked it soul-gospel-worlitzer-style.
The next day The Duo were playing with Charlie Hunter. I already purchased tickets for the early show. They added a later performance as the first once came close to selling out the Old Town School of Folk Music theatre. I saw Nadia again at the show and even had an opportunity to hold down a little bit of a conversation with her before the show started. I'm sure a couple of my pictures will turn out.
Speaking of pictures... I'm very behind on developing... to the tune of ~$200 in developing costs. I should really go digital and save myself some money.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

The last week & a half

I had a great time in New York City. This time I did what I wanted to do. This meant going down around Times Square and doing some of the touristy things like visiting the Today Show, waiting for tickets for Conan O'Brien, hanging out at the Knitting Factory in Tribeca and CBGB's off of Bleeker St.
I had good company too! Franklin & Teena, both friends from Madison, were there to bounce around with. Teena was good company... we're both pretty foreign to the city so we both were really down with seeing what was out there.
Here's a funny little story. So because of a recommendation we were initially trying to find The Tribeca Rock Club... which used to be Tribeca Blues... but they changed their name, so I had a little trouble in locating it in any phone book or Village Voice. So the three of us walked what seemed to be the most of Tribeca. We probably came within a block of the club before turning back. For some reason I thought the Knitting Factory was a small club, but they evidently have several different floors. There was a big punk show on one of the floors... and down below... Topaz.
Now Topaz played at the Cafe Momo in Madison a couple of years back. I went to their show with a bunch of friends and it was all together pleasant. I was more than happy to see them play in their home town. That's always a good way to see band. So we walked into the place... and I felt at home. Maybe I feel at home in small, dark lit clubs... or maybe it was the fact that moments after we walked in I noticed familiar faces everywhere. Outside of Teena and Franklin who were a bit tired after our long walk around Tribeca, I saw Cheme from Robert Walter's 20th Congress, Jessica from The Living Daylights, of course I recognized all the kids from Topaz, the keyboard player from Schleigho and one face that I couldn't place exactly... but I knew we'd hung together. It turned out that this bearded birthday boy was Brian Aiello who I must have met with either Robert Walters 20th Congress. Now he's working with the Benvento Russo Duo aka "The Duo." After establishing that we somehow knew each other and I got him a drink. I heard a voice ask me "Do I know you?" For a minute I thought this was a joke... seeing as that's how we started the last conversation, but after less than a minute of talking I realized yes, in fact I do know Katie. She came to our parties at the church across from James Madison Park. She was friends with the Paddington Project kids and Liza Vadnai. Its crazy that we meet and remeet over time. Its great when it happens... anyway, before I left I grabbed numbers and hopefully, the next time out I can see some of these people again... which turns out to be faster than I thought...
((story continues))

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